Wednesday, February 9, 2011

The Generous, Faithful, Compassionate and Saving God

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Preached at Northwest Christian Church
David P. Kautt
Sunday Morning, February 6, 2011

Psalm 50:14-15, “Offer to God thanksgiving, and pay your vows to the Most High.
Call upon Me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify Me.”

2 Corinthians 1:3-7, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also abounds through Christ. Now if we are afflicted, it is for your consolation and salvation, which is effective for enduring the same sufferings which we also suffer. Or if we are comforted, it is for you consolation and salvation. And our hope for you is steadfast, because we know that as you are partakers of the sufferings, so also you will partake of the consolation.

Beloved, I've been talking with quite a few hurting people of late. I don't know if you realize or not, but there are quite a number of them out there. And, if I can get a whee bit personal with you this morning - there also are a rather sizable number of troubled, hurting people in here too – there are!

Just the other day, a friend of mine told me about a friend of his who had been kicked in the mouth by some of his co-workers. Oh, not literally kicked in the mouth – but kicked so-to-speak, by their angry words and by the venom of their hostility toward him. That man, that woman, that person made in God's image, undoubtedly is hurting!

Do you see them? Do you know any of them? Are you one of them? The hurting... Listen, my friends, they ARE all around you and me, and likely, several of them are within arm's reach of you this morning!

Hurting people, troubled, discouraged people, who have been kicked-in-the-mouth, so-to-speak, God's people. Since this morning, this assembly, is ostensibly a gather of God's people; and, since many of God's people – yes, I said God's people – are weary and wounded my question for you and me this morning is: Is there something God's people need when they are hurting? And, is there somewhere they can go to find that something?

My Loved Ones, the thrust of this message, this Bible lesson today, is rather simple, almost elementary, I suppose. And, yet, I trust that when we give it some time to really sink in, upon meditating on this lesson's point, I trust we all will see how utterly profound AND meaningful it is to all of us, hurting or not!

Once more – as we begin our look at these passages of Scripture, and at our lives, and at the lives of others we know and love, the questions: Is there something God's people need when they are hurting? And: Where and how are they going to find that something? The simple answers, the profoundly meaningful and powerful answers to those questions are these: hurting people NEED comfort. The hurting people of God need comfort! And, God – their God – is that Comfort! In Him, God's people find or CAN find all the comfort all the encouragement, all the uplifting and, all the refreshing they need, when they are hurting!!

What is it about God, the God, who through the psalmist Asaph, said, “Offer to God a sacrifice of thanksgiving and pay your vows to the Most High; call upon Me in the day of trouble; and, I will deliver you, and you shall honor Me.” What is it about the God Who spoke these words that would cause God's people – people like you and me – to say, “He is My comfort! He is my help and hope”?

Psalm 50:14 – The verse begins with this command, this exhortation, “Offer to God a sacrifice of thanksgiving.” Beloved, what is it about God that calls forth from His people – from you and me – a sacrifice of thanksgiving, an offering of praise? Listen to what James says in James 1:17, and see if you can't figure it out. James 1:17, “Every good and perfect gift is from above and comes down from the Father of lights...” My Loved Ones – Do you see it? Friends, it's all over the pages of this Book! The generosity of God that calls forth thanksgiving from God's people! You just think about it with me, will you? Every reason for our being thankful and grateful – ultimately – takes us back to God, to our incredibly generous God, as the Source and Supplier of every good and perfect gift!

Philippians 4:6, 7 – One of my favorite encouraging Scriptures; how does it put it?

Comfort, peace, wellness and quietness of soul, in the present, in the day of trouble, and hope for the future; where are God's people to find it? Beloved, they find it – we find it, or should find it and receive it – from the God of peace, when we combine petitions regarding the present WITH praises for the past!

It is God's generous nature that comforts us in the day of trouble! The psalmist said it like this in Psalm 37:25, “I was young, and now I am old, yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread!” It is God's generous nature that encourages God's people when they are wounded and weary. Psalm 34:8-10, “Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good. Blessed it the man who trusts in Him! Oh, fear the Lord, you His saints! There is no want to those who fear Him! The young lion lack and suffer hunger, but those who seek the Lord shall not lack ANY good thing!”

It is God's generous nature – the birds of the air, they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, yet your heavenly Father feeds them! Are you not more valuable than they? The lilies of the field, they neither toil nor spin, God clothes them, will He not much more clothe you? It is God's great generosity that comforts us in our trials – so praise Him! So offer a thank offering to Him! So, seek first His kingdom and His righteousness!

What is it that God's people need when they are hurting? And, where are they gonna find that something? We know it, almost instinctively, hurting people, yes, even hurting CHRISTIAN people need comfort when they are torn and troubled – God is that Comfort! The God who supplies us all things richly to enjoy, the God who provides every good and perfect gift!

Hurting people need a generous God – guess what? We Christians have one! Not only that, but listen, hurting people, people who get kicked in the mouth so-to-speak, they need a faithful God, a true and truthful God. Is that the kind of God who has made Himself known through the pages of this Book?

Someone has wisely observed that there is one things that God CANNOT do! “What?” you might ask, “I thought God could do ALL things!” Oh, you're right. But listen – there is one thing God CANNOT do. And, that is this: (Titus 1:2) God cannot lie! He cannot, He will not fail to keep His word! Talk about comfort!

Look at Jesus' life the last few hours of His life, before He died on Calvary's cross, who helped Him as He wrestled with the thought of drinking the cup of God's wrath poured out on Him because of our sins? Did the disciples help Him? No! They were snoring there in Gethsemane! Did Judas help Him? No! He was off plotting and pulling together Jesus' betrayal! So, who helped Him? Luke 22:43 – Scripture says that His Father, the faithful God of heaven, helped Him by sending His angel to strengthen Him!

Or, what about His trials before the San Hedrin, before Herod, and before Pilate? Who helped Jesus through all of that? Peter didn't help Him. In fact, 3 times he denied he even knew Jesus! What kind of help is that? What about the other disciples? They were long gone, saving their own skins. And, as for Judas, you know what he ultimately did! He didn't help Jesus; no he hung himself! Who helped Jesus in Gethsemane? Who helped Jesus during His trials? Who helped Jesus as He hung there in agony, on that cruel Roman cross? The very same faithful and true God to whom Jesus said, “Father into Your hands I commit My spirit!”

Are you listening, my friends? People of God, it is your God's great faithfulness, His absolute truthfulness and trustworthiness that shall comfort you in your time of distress! It is! And, it is God's great faithfulness and truthfulness that calls you to be faithful! Psalm 50:14 - “Offer to God sacrifices of thanksgiving and pay your vows – fulfill your promises to the Most High!” Read 2 Timothy again sometime, and be careful to observe how both sides of that marvelous equation – God's faithfulness AND the faithfulness of God's people – are played out in the final days of the apostle Paul's life!

Brothers and Sisters, my fellow wounded and weary warriors, when you are hurting, what do you need? You know it! You need comfort! And, when you lift your eyes heavenward to find some comfort, is that what you'll find? Some say, “No! No way will you find comfort in the God of the Bible! No! He's a capricious God, a malicious God, a cold, calloused even cruel God, there's no comfort to be found in Him!”

Psalm 50:15 – You who say, you who believe that the God who has revealed Himself int his Book is whimsical, unpredictable, harsh and uncaring; let me ask just one question: if our God was that kind of God, why would He even BOTHER to urge His people to “call on Him in the day of trouble”? I mean, if the God of heaven didn't plan to listen, if He didn't intend to DO something to help His people, why would He say, “Call on Me?!”

Listen, Beloved, the fact of the matter is this: both through His gracious invitations to pray AND through His equally gracious answers to our prayers, God proves Himself to be, not malicious, not capricious, but compassionate! What a comfort that is, Amen? Amen!

So, what? So, keep on praying! You're hurting, you're wounded, you're weary, and, perhaps for a time God's comfort is not forth-coming, who do you think wants to come along side right about then, and whisper to you, “See! See! I told you prayer doesn't work! I told you that God doesn't really listen, that He doesn't really care about you!”

Beloved, that's not the Holy Spirit of God whispering in your ear! No! That's the Enemy of God, and of God's people, Satan. Don't listen to him! No! Find your comfort in the compassionate God who says, “Call on Me! Call on Me in the day of your distress!” And keep on praying!

Is there something hurting people, the hurting people of this room, need when they are hurting? And, where and how are they going to find it? Beloved, this Book tells me that what hurting people need is comfort. And that the where and how of finding that comfort lead ultimately to a WHO, the God of Comfort, the compassionate, faithful, generous God of ALL comfort!

Psalm 50:15 – My Loved Ones, there's one more aspect to this text that brings all of this lesson together. And, that's the final word of promise coming from the lips of the God of comfort - “I will deliver you...” My fellow wounded, what kind of God do you look to for comfort? A compassionate God? Yes... A generous God? Yes... A faithful God? Yes...

One more question for you: what if your God was all of those things, but wasn't a God who delivers, a God who saves? What good ultimately would all His generosity, faithfulness and compassion to be to you? 3 quick scenes from Jesus' life, I'm sure you'll remember all three. Jesus and Zaccheus – Luke 19:1-10. Jesus and Peter walking on the Sea of Galilee – Matthew 14:22-33. And, one more: Jesus and the repentant Thief on the Cross – Luke 23:39-43. If you look at all three of these scenes from Jesus' life, you will see, number one: hurting people needing comfort of some kind or another. Second, you will see glimpses of Jesus' compassion, His faithfulness and His generosity. Now, here's the really important question: if Jesus hadn't come to seek and to save – to save – the lost, if He hadn't come to bring deliverance to Zaccheus' life, what good would that generous invitation to eat lunch with Zaccheus have done for Zaccheus?

Or, take Peter, about to drown in the depths of the Sea of Galilee, because he really had NO ability to walk on that sea. What good would Jesus' faithfulness have been to Peter, if He hadn't stretched forth His hand to raise Peter uo?

And, what about that thief, that repentant thief crucified next to Jesus? What good would Jesus great compassion have been to that man, if Jesus did no also declare to him this promise: “Today you will be with Me in paradise!”

Beloved, are you wounded? Are you hurting? Do you need comfort? Praise and thank the God who is so incredibly generous! And, faithfully live for the God who never ever fails to keep His promises. And, never stop praying to the God whose compassionate ears are always – ALWAYS – open to your prayers! But, listen – most important of all, trust in the saving God whose hands were stretched forth on that tree, to deliver you and me!

God, our God, generous, faithful, compassionate and most important of all, saving. He is our comfort, He is! So, what? So, glorify Him! So, praise Him!

2 Corinthians 1:3ff: “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and God of all comfort... who comforts us in all our trouble, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God...”

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