On Christ’s Leading 2 Corinthians 3:18
Good morning. I told you last week that we would be returning to our study of the gospel of john this morning. But apparently I spoke too early. A number of you after the service and during the week, had talk to me more about peace and how to uh to describe it and to and to help others that they knew going through it. And so what I thought I would do this morning is just kind of give you the leftovers from last week, the stuff that I had trimmed from my uh sermons so that it wouldn’t be An hour and a half long. It would just be 40 minutes long. And so this week I want to return two The 23rd Psalm And then move us to two Corinthians and look at the peace of God to look at the the power in that piece and what it provides us and what it calls us to and how it calls us to both live and to minister. Now, when most people outside of the church, when they visualize God, they visualize a God who is sitting comfortably on a distant, thrown remote, aloof, uninterested and indifferent to the needs of mortals, and he may act on their behalf if they beg him enough, or if they can badger him into action. Now, we know of course, that this view is wholly false. The bible reveals that God who longs and and and even works diligently to have men to turn to him, that he might not have merely a relationship with him, but an intimate relationship with him while men still are lost and walk in darkness and and sunk into sin, stuck in the mire of the world, God takes the initiative, rises from his throne, lays aside his glory and stoops to do whatever is needed To call that one. From darkness into the kingdom of life. And you were to take a comparative religion class, you would find that, that most gods of this world, most religious books reveal their God in that way, aloof, so powerful that pain cannot affect them. That that that weariness does not in any way compute in there in in in their existence, they know nothing of sorrow. And I’ve certainly never shed any tears. And I often wonder in a in a real world of pain where where we experience those things and we experience them at different levels throughout our lives. How could one worship a God who is immune to it and and does not know pain or weariness or sorrow? But you see, we serve a high priest who has experienced all the things that we have experienced. God came in human flesh, to experience everything that we have from the weariness when he is asleep on the boat and and so weary that even a great storm does not wake him. He weeps at the at the tomb of Lazarus. It cries out to God, if there is any way, let this cup pass from me, he knows the feeling of betrayal, as all of his disciples turned from. He knows the feeling of of of full um denial as judas comes and kisses him on the cheek to turn him over to those who would desire to destroy him. And yet our God while knowing these things and and experiencing these things is able to minister to us because he overcame all of them be of good cheer. I have overcome the world even exhausted in the boat. He stood up and said, peace be still and the storm stopped at the tomb of Lazarus. He weeps and yet then he raises Lazarus from the dead. The disciples denying him, betray him and and and and run away. And yet he restores them. He dies on a Roman cross and yet three days later rises from the dead. He has experienced all of these things and therefore he can, he can, he can minister to us not merely from knowledge, not merely from sympathy but from empathy, knowing exactly what we are experiencing, therefore, knowing exactly what to give us. But then he can be effective in his ministry because he has overcome all of them. He is the God of the universe. He is the alpha, the omega, the beginning, the end, the one who always was and is and will be, nothing can overcome his power. In fact, nothing is even measurable in relationship to his. Now with that in mind let us return to psalm 23 the Lord is my shepherd. I shall not want, he makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. He leaves me in the paths of righteousness for his namesake. And even though I walk through the valley of the Shadow of death, I fear no evil. Where you are with me, your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table for me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil, my cup overflows. Surely then goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever. I talked about last week, the leading of God, and then the God who walks with us through those most terrible times. I talked about how we walk through the valley of the Shadow of Death rather than run through it in fear. And even though it is the scariest place we’ve ever been, we are not afraid because God is with us and and and and our fear is so abated that even in the presence of our enemies, we don’t just grab a cliff bar and take off running. When we are in need we stop and sit at the table and eat knowing that our enemies can never catch us and can never touch us because if God is for us, who can be against us, but in all of that leading and all of that walking with us, there’s an oddness aspect too, it’s one of those things and I don’t know a better word than odd for it. There’s one of those aspects of the leading of God that is that is incomprehensible to our mind and yet it is essential that we know it, we are being, we who are christians are being led from the presence of God by the presence of God to the presence of God. We are being led from the presence of God, the one who died on the tree for us in the meeting of him, we immediately died and then our born again and he just is in that aspect, one time for us in all of our lives, that that one moment of healing is sufficient for all of eternity. So we are being led from the God who calls us and saves us and then we are being led by the presence of God, the indwelling Holy Spirit and the one who walks with us along the way with joseph was told of the the upcoming birth of his son. The angel told him to call him jesus for he shall save his people from their sins. But you remember that Isaiah said and his name will be Emanuel. And so from the beginning of the Gospel to the end of the Gospel, he is called jesus, the one who saves Jehovah saves. But at the end jesus declares that his name is Emmanuel go into all the world making disciples teaching them all things that I have told you and lo I am with you always even to the end of the age, Hello, I am Emmanuel. And so we are being led from the presence of God by the presence of God. I said last week that I praise God in your presence and I praise God in his presence that is with us here, that I am so glad that when I was saved, I received not merely a savior, but also a shepherd to take me along the path to to show me the way to grow in likeness of him, to avoid those things that would weigh me down with guilt and and and and and to aid me in those things that would that would remove the burden from others or help remove the burden from others or to comfort the comfort liss or to aid the widows and the orphans in their distress. I need that shepherd because I do not understand all of how life works. And in fact, there are times in my life when when I don’t even know what is the next step to take, either by confusion or because of sorrow and pain. My my my eyesight is occluded by tears and I have one to guide me who is with me. So I lead from the presence of God by the presence of God. This is important in another way, we do not merely receive instruction. He’s with us. You see if it was merely instruction. Maybe in six ft six, I would take Jordan’s over there who’s 53. If I were to tell her to take five steps And and then to turn right and take six steps to avoid danger to avoid a clip or whatever, We would be in completely different places because my stride at 66 is gonna be completely different than her stride at 53. And so you see, God doesn’t merely give us instructions, instructions from far he is with us. As we walk, we are being led from the presence of God. That saving presence of christ on the cross by the presence of God, the ever present savior, the indwelling Holy Spirit to the presence of God. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever. As we read at the beginning of our services in regulation chapter 22, then I shall see him face to face. The greatest wonder of heaven. It’s not the streets of gold is not to mention that is mine is not the room that is mine. It’s not it’s not the river of life nor the tree. The greatest treasure of heaven is seeking him face to face to the thief on the cross, jesus said. Today, you shall be with me in paradise. I mean, we may wonder at the at the glory of the word today that there is no that there is no purgatory. There is no waiting period. There is no soul sleep or anything like that, but that to be absent from the body is to be present at home with the Lord. What what we may focus on paradise to be in a place where there is no there there is no temptation to sin. There is no weakness to cause you to to become a high woman like this criminal. Was there there is no pain of of nails in the hand or even a cough from seasonal allergies. We may wonder about the words today and paradise, but the greatest words in that promises with. So you have that oddness of the leading that we can’t fully understand, but we can’t exalt in and find great. We’re being led from the presence of God by the presence of God two presence of God. And all along the way we are growing all along the way. We we we are growing to know him more and more to trust him more fully even than on the day of our salvation. We are being moved as paul writes from Glory to Glory two Corinthians chapter 3 18 and we all with unveiled face beholding as in a glass. The glory of the Lord are changed into that self same image from glory to glory even as by the spirit of God. We are changed from one degree of glory to another. And this comes from the Lord who is the spirit now of this great, this great growth that is going this, this moving from from glory to glory from level of glory to level of glory by by the spirit of God. There is in, in in a really, I really had trouble coming up with with the words to describe this this week and so I’m just gonna stick with these and and and and don’t make too much of these two words, there is a light aspect to this growing in the knowledge of God and there is a darkness aspect in this growing knowledge but we all with unveiled face beholding the glory of the Lord or speaking transform that is happening right now. It’s not something that will happen in the, in the future when when we move from this body of clay into the glorious body, it is taking place right now, we are beholding the glory of God. And one of the places that we are beholding the glory of God is in our own transformation and our transformation to that same image into our being like him From one level of glory to the next level of Glory. That is what paul says in the very next verse here, here’s one of those places where where, where the checker breaks, hurts us in the very next verse in chapter four verse number one Paul says therefore having this ministry by the mercy of God. We do not lose heart. And then here is that that that darkness part of it. And again, it’s just a bad word. But I can’t think of a better, at least not right. He says in verse number two, but we have renounced disgrace, disgraceful, underhanded ways. We refuse to practice cunning or to tamper with God’s word. But by open statement of the truth, we would commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God. You see the first aspect of this growing in the knowledge of God, of beholding his glory, of being changed into his image is not succumbing to the temptation to see him nor to change the word of God to to to to to appropriate it to our desires or our actions to make subtle changes in the word of God. To either excuse ourselves or to give ourselves license. You see, we are growing by him as he is walking us toward himself. That that that and and the first thing he does is to remove the darkness. The temptation of sin. And we are as that last verse. The last part of that verse commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of the Lord, We are to live as if God is watching because He is remember from by and two, he is with me, He is he is experiencing everything I am experiencing. He knows what is the right thing to do. He is guiding us into the right thing to do now. It is incumbent upon us to do the right Thank you verse number six for God who said, let the light shine out of Darkness has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of christ. Which is more impressive. To call out to the darkness, let there be light. And to create everything there is and make it very good or to take something that is ruined, something that is broken, something that is ugly and make something beautiful front. You see this is what God is doing in our lives. And now with with that verse we we moved from that that that darkness act, uh activity. That negative aspect to the positive expert for God, who who said, let the light shine out of the darkness has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of jesus christ. Now we have this treasure in jars of clay, We have this treasure in in very fragile vessels. Why To show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. The end of verse # seven. But look at this even though the vessels are incredibly fragile, We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed, perplexed, but not in despair, persecuted but not forsaken, struck down but not destroyed. Always caring about in the body, the death of jesus, so that the life of jesus might be manifested in our bodies because God is with us. It does not matter how fragile we may seem, it does not matter how fragile we are. It does not matter the forces that are arised again, that that that arise against us. We will have trouble in this world. Jesus tells us that you will have trouble in this world, but be of good cheer. I have overcome the world and I am with you. So Paul goes on to say verse # 16. So we do not lose heart though the our man is wasting away. The inner self is renewed day by day. I can’t dunk a basketball like I used to, I can’t throw a curve ball like I used to, I can’t I can’t run five miles and then do ironman contests like I used to. But I do believe honestly that I’m stronger now than I’ve ever been because Christ has been working in me for 30 years for this light. Momentary affliction is preparing for us. An eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison as we look. Not to the things that are seen, but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are temporal or transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal. We can’t see that we are moving from God by God towards God. They are the most real things in our lives, that presence that is with us. Now let’s move on, let’s see another aspect of this growing in the knowledge of christ as he is leading us, John chapter 15 I am the vine, you are the branches whoever abides in me and I in him, he is it that bears much fruit for apart from me, you can’t do nothing Now for 30 years. I have, I have interpreted that verse only one way bearing much fruit issued people. Right is the going out of the disciple in the people or the going out and evangelizing people or the moving people from comfort to uh to to satisfaction in christ and while I think that is true, obviously there is more to Look at verse # 16, you did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed that you should bear much fruit and that your fruit should abide. So whatever you ask in my name, he may give it to you. Now catch that whatever you ask in my name, hey may give it to you. Now let’s look at verse number 24 of the next chapter. Until now you have asked nothing in my name. Now he says in verse 15 or chapter 15, you will ask in my name and God will give it to you. Now in verse # 16, he says until now you have asked nothing in my name ask and you will receive that your joy maybe full As Jesus is going away in in these chapters 14 through 17, when he’s preparing the disciples for his departure, he tells them you haven’t asked anything in my name before I taught you to pray. Our father hallowed, be thy name. Now you will ask in my name and you will receive that your joy may be full. Now remember we we are asking and receiving that we might bear much fruit in our fruit may abide. Now look again at verse number 25 I have said these things to you and figure of speech. The hour is coming when I will no longer speak to you in figures of speech, but will speak plainly about the father in that day, you will ask in my name and I do not say that you uh that you will ask the father on your behalf for the father himself loves you because you have loved me and have believed that I have come from God Verse 28, I came from the father and have come into this world and now I am leaving the world and going to the father. Here’s the paper so far now you are speaking plainly and not using figures of speech. Now we know that you know all things and do not need anyone to question you. This is why we believe that you came from God and jesus answered them. Do you now believe And then verse # 32 behold the hour is coming. Indeed it has come when you will be scattered, each one to his own home and he will leave me alone. Yet I am not alone. Both fathers with I have said these things to you that in me you may have peace in the world. You will have tribulation but be of good cheer. I have overcome the world. Now look at these three things and I want you to see something and we’ll we’ll we’ll carry on with this. In our study of john will bear much fruit asking my name and the father will give it to you that you will bear much fruit and that your fruit will remain In Chapter 16. You have up to this point in time not ask anything in my name, but ask now you will receive that your joy will be full. And then verse # 27 the father himself loves you because he loved me and have believed that I have come from God Verse # 33. I have said these things to you that you may have peace in the world. You will have tribulation but be of good cheer. I have overcome the world. What do you see there in those three things? Love joy? Peace, Right? The fruits of the Spirit. You will bear much if you go through these chapters 14 15, 16 17 and 18 leading up to the arrest of the trials of jesus in chapter 19, you will find all nine of those fruits of the spirit. You see we are being moved into that same image from glory to glory and jesus is saying when you need peace, ask for it. When you, when you need kindness, when someone is is treating you disrespectfully or or whatever, I ask for what sorrow overwhelms your heart with the love with the loss of a loved one or or some trouble in your life. Ask for joy and he will remind you of his promises. Hope Joy, peace. See you, you see right here the fruit that is bearing, that will make us like plans. This is the goal of your Christianity. We are being led from the presence of God by the presence of God to the presence of God all along the way, being changed into the image of God. And one of the ways that we are changed is that is that we avoid darkness, he will not let us be destroyed. And as we go along, we ask continually to be made more like you remember our particular definition of discipleship, we are to live in such a way to make the invisible realities of visible in a world of chaos. Piece will stand out in a world of hopelessness. Hope will shine like a lot in a world of sorrow and anger. Joy and love be like a beat, drawing those No, not that very much fruit, but ask for it that you might be like him. That fruit will be seen. No and reveal Europe Father. I thank you. I praise you. Help teach causes.