February 17, 2008
INTRODUCTION – Two weeks ago – I finally got my pulpit back ☺ and we began to explore our theme for this year, which I believe God sovereignly gave us – and that theme is “Truly great in 2008”.
Since God began to reveal this theme to us back on the 6th of January in our corporate prayer meeting, I’ve been trying to discern why He gave this particular theme to us at this time? What are His purposes and intentions for us this year, and how does this theme fit in? Why greatness?
Two weeks ago – I think the first big clue we got was – the greatness of God is a consistent theme throughout scripture. “Great is the Lord and greatly to be praised.” The psalmist declared in Psalm 48:1. God is great; He has revealed His greatness to us; He has manifested it in His creation; and He wants to manifest it through His people – the church. When you delve into scripture and see how often God’s greatness is declared or proclaimed, it becomes real obvious that His people ought to be a reflection of that greatness. If we are to be a living epistle, read by all men, as the apostle Paul declared he was, and by implication we are, we dare not wallow in smallness and mediocrity and unbelief.
The problem since God first established a people for Himself through Abraham and continuing on into the present day – is while we may or may not be convinced of God’s greatness, we are quick to discount any claim or call we might have to greatness. There are a variety of reasons for this. Some of them are even seemingly biblical. We looked at several of those two weeks ago. Let’s look at another one today.
It’s found in Jeremiah ch. 45. (Last week we looked at Psalm 131 where David declared before His God, “O Lord, my heart is not proud nor my eyes haughty; Nor do I involve myself in great matters, Or in things too difficult for me.” And we discovered that the primary evil David vowed to avoid was pride, and involving himself in great matters that God had not called him to pursue. Elsewhere David talks about his greatness without hesitation, but it is in the context of God’s work in and through his life.
Well in this passage God actually commands the prophet Baruch to not aspire to greatness. While you might not have known this verse was in Jeremiah 45, I bet many of you have heard and or read it before. Look at vs. 5. This is God speaking directly to Baruch about Baruch. (read it) When you look at this verse in context, the main reason is because judgment is just around the corner. Because of the disobedience and rebellion of God’s people – the Israelites, God decided to judge His people through the impending attack of Nebuchadnezzar and his armies.
This was a time to mourn and fast and pray; not a time to aspire to greatness or to attempt great things.
The reality of the enemy’s deception – very subtle – very insidious.
The primary reason the people of God are not aspiring and attaining to kingdom greatness is because we have become duped by the devil that we are not supposed to, or that we are unable to., or that it is only for the super spiritual.
Because of this reality, I’m going to resist talking about how to’s today, and instead I’m going to spend a little more time on the Biblical call to greatness for you and me and every member of Christ’s church.
By the way, just as kind of an fyi, did you know that it was prophesied by an angel that both John the Baptist and Jesus would be great?
Luke 1:15, “For he will be great in the sight of the Lord; and he will drink no wine or liquor, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit while yet in his mother’s womb”
Luke 1:32 “He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David.”
Yeah but that was Jesus and John!!!
Two weeks ago we looked at a couple of passages where Jesus defined for the disciples what kingdom greatness would look like. Then we quickly looked at John 14:12 where Jesus very emphatically declared that anyone who believes in Him will do the works that He does and even greater ones because of Jesus’s 24/7 interceding ministry for us, and the powerful ministry of the Holy Spirit in and through us.
Think with me if you would through the gospels –
Jesus’s encounter with Nathanael (not one of the 12 by the way) – John 1:43-51
Jesus’s conversation with the Jews – John 5:19,20
What about Jesus’s training of the twelve? Was He purposeful and intentional in trying to help them shed their small thinking, and instead believing God for great things, and even attempting great things?
Have you ever given much thought to these strange fishing stories? Luke 5:1-11
Initiated by Jesus after a teaching session to the crowds. The disciples had fished all night before and caught nothing. Peter informed him of this, but went on and did as He said.
Vs. 6 – “great quantity of fish” why so many? Questionable whether they can even manage all of those – some will probably rot before they can be appropriately dealt with.
No evident pressing need. Sounds like they just didn’t know what else to do with themselves. A handful of professionals fished all night and did not catch one fish. Why so many?
Feeding of five thousand and feeding of four thousand in Matthew’s gospel.
Not only did Jesus feed thousands of people in both cases with one person’s portion of food, but in the first case – there were 12 baskets full of food left over; and in the feeding of the 4,000 – there were 7 baskets full of food left over.
Well Jesus tells the disciples in Matthew 16:5-12
What did the disciples get rebuked more – more than anything else? Their unbelief or lack of faith
What caused Jesus to give some of his most enthusiastic commendations or affirmations to people for?
Their great faith.
Matt. 8:5-13 – the Centurion’s faith for his servant
Matt. 15:21-28 – the Canaanite woman’s faith for her daughter
CONCLUSION – When Jesus Christ calls a boy or a girl or a man or a woman to Himself, He fully intends for that person to be continually and increasingly amazed at the greatness of God; He fully intends for us to evaluate every circumstance in the light of His greatness.
When Jesus Christ calls a boy or girl or man or woman to Himself, He fully intends for that person to aspire to and achieve a measure of kingdom greatness. Not greatness for our sake or glory. But for His sake and glory and because of the great pressing need around us.