Sermon on Sunday, February 24, 2013 by Thomas Tate
ACCEPTING GOD’S ANSWERS WHEN THEY ARE NOT YOUR ANSWERS
BUT GOD PROMISES…
- “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. “For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. “Or what man is there among you who, when his son asks for a loaf, will give him a stone? “Or if he asks for a fish, he will not give him a snake, will he? “If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him!
- And Jesus answered and said to them, “Truly I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what was done to the fig tree, but even if you say to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and cast into the sea,’ it will happen. “And all things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive.”
- “In that day you will not question Me about anything. Truly, truly, I say to you, if you ask the Father for anything in My name, He will give it to you. “Until now you have asked for nothing in My name; ask and you will receive, so that your joy may be made full.
SOMETIMES WE DISAGREE WITH GOD’S ANSWER
- From that time Jesus began to show His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised up on the third day. Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him, saying, “God forbid it, Lord! This shall never happen to You.”
SOMETIMES WE RUN FROM GOD’S ANSWERS
- The word of the Lord came to Jonah the son of Amittai saying, “Arise, go to Nineveh the great city and cry against it, for their wickedness has come up before Me.” But Jonah rose up to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord. So he went down to Joppa, found a ship which was going to Tarshish, paid the fare and went down into it to go with them to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord.
SOMETIMES WE NEGOTIATE WITH GOD
- And the Lord said [to Abraham], “The outcry of Sodom and Gomorrah is indeed great, and their sin is exceedingly grave… “Suppose there are fifty righteous within the city; will You indeed sweep it away and not spare the place for the sake of the fifty righteous who are in it? “Far be it from You to do such a thing, to slay the righteous with the wicked, so that the righteous and the wicked are treated alike. Far be it from You! Shall not the Judge of all the earth deal justly?”
SOMETIMES WE QUESTION GOD’S ANSWERS
- “I loathe my very life; therefore I will give free rein to my complaint and speak out in the bitterness of my soul. I will say to God: Do not condemn me, but tell me what charges you have against me. Does it please you to oppress me, to spurn the work of your hands, while you smile on the schemes of the wicked?
SOMETIMES WE DISOBEY GOD’S ANSWERS
- The Lord said to Moses, “Take the staff, and you and your brother Aaron gather the assembly together. Speak to that rock before their eyes and it will pour out its water. You will bring water out of the rock for the community so they and their livestock can drink.” So Moses took the staff from the Lord’s presence, just as he commanded him. He and Aaron gathered the assembly together in front of the rock and Moses said to them, “Listen, you rebels, must we bring you water out of this rock?” Then Moses raised his arm and struck the rock twice with his staff. Water gushed out, and the community and their livestock drank.
SOMETIMES WE GET FRUSTRATED WITH GOD’S LACK OF ANSWERS
- How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and every day have sorrow in my heart? How long will my enemy triumph over me? Look on me and answer, O Lord my God. Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death; my enemy will say, “I have overcome him,” and my foes will rejoice when I fall.
SOMETIMES WE WALK AWAY FROM GOD BECAUSE OF HIS ANSWERS
- Jesus said to them, “I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day… On hearing it, many of his disciples said, “This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?”… He went on to say, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless the Father has enabled him.” From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him.
SOMETIMES GOD LEADS US TO DEAD ENDS (SEA’S)
- Now when Pharaoh had let the people go, God did not lead them by the way of the land of the Philistines, even though it was near; for God said, “The people might change their minds when they see war, and return to Egypt.” Hence God led the people around by the way of the wilderness to the Red Sea; and the sons of Israel went up in martial array from the land of Egypt.
- As Pharaoh drew near, the sons of Israel looked, and behold, the Egyptians were marching after them, and they became very frightened; so the sons of Israel cried out to the Lord. Then they said to Moses, “Is it because there were no graves in Egypt that you have taken us away to die in the wilderness? Why have you dealt with us in this way, bringing us out of Egypt? “Is this not the word that we spoke to you in Egypt, saying, ‘Leave us alone that we may serve the Egyptians’? For it would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the wilderness.”
IT’S AT THESE “DEAD ENDS” THAT OUR FAITH IS REWARDED
- But Moses said to the people, “Do not fear! Stand by and see the salvation of the Lord which He will accomplish for you today; for the Egyptians whom you have seen today, you will never see them again forever. “The Lord will fight for you while you keep silent.” Then the Lord said to Moses, “Why are you crying out to Me? Tell the sons of Israel to go forward. “As for you, lift up your staff and stretch out your hand over the sea and divide it, and the sons of Israel shall go through the midst of the sea on dry land.
GOD’S ANSWER TO OUR RESPONSES
- GOD’S ANSWER TO PETER: But He turned and said to Peter, “Get behind Me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to Me; for you are not setting your mind on God’s interests, but man’s.”
- GOD’S ANSWER FOR JONAH: And the Lord commanded the fish, and it vomited Jonah onto dry land. Then the word of the Lord came to Jonah a second time: “Go to the great city of Nineveh and proclaim to it the message I give you.” Jonah obeyed the word of the Lord and went to Nineveh.
GOD’S ANSWER TO OUR RESPONSES
- GOD’S ANSWER TO ABRAHAM: The Lord said, “If I find fifty righteous people in the city of Sodom, I will spare the whole place for their sake.”…He [Lot] said, “Hurry and get out of this place, because the Lord is about to destroy the city!” Genesis 18:26;19:14
- GOD ANSWERS MOSES’ DISOBEDIENCE: But the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, “Because you did not trust in me enough to honor me as holy in the sight of the Israelites, you will not bring this community into the land I give them. Numbers 20:12
- GOD’S ANSWER FOR JOB: Then the Lord answered Job out of the storm. He said: “Who is this that darkens my counsel with words without knowledge? Brace yourself like a man; I will question you, and you shall answer me. “Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation? Tell me, if you understand. Job 38:1-4
GOD SPEAKS TO OUR HEART
- Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.
- Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.
- “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it. Isaiah 55:8-11
IT ALL COMES DOWN TO FAITH AND TRUST
- The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
– Philippians 4:5b-7
Sermon-based Bible Study Questions
1. Read Matthew 16:21-22. What did Peter disagree with Jesus about? What is something that you have disagreed with God about (or didn’t understand)? What did Jesus say Peter’s problem was in verse :23? How does that relate to some of our lack of understanding of God?
2. In Jonah 1:1-3 we see Jonah running from what God wanted him to do. Can you think of a time when you felt God asking you to do something that you didn’t want to do and you ran from it (avoided it)?
3. In Genesis 18:24-25 we see Abraham negotiating with God. How do you feel about God allowing this? When was a time that you negotiated with God (trying to make a deal with Him)?
4. Job lost his kids, dignity, wealth and health and then he questioned God (Job 10:1-3). Can you share a time when you questioned God about why He let some bad things happen in your life? How did you deal with it? Do you still struggle with it and God?
5. In Numbers 20:7-12 Moses disobeyed God’s direction and suffers for it. Can you think of a time when you knew what the right thing was but didn’t do it and suffered for it?
6. In Exodus 13:17-18;14:10-16 God leads Moses and His people to what seems to be a dead end, why does it say He did this? Can you think of a time when you followed what you thought was God’s leading but didn’t seem to workout and seemed like a dead end? How did it work out? How did you handle it?
7. Read Proverbs 3:5-6; Psalm 119:105; Isaiah 55:8-11; Philippians 4:5b-7. Discuss the relevance of these passages to accepting God’s answers when they are not yours. What other verses can you think of that apply? Why is it so hard to live these out when you’re really going through hard times and things aren’t going the way you had hoped?