His Protection! (UNREASONABLE – #2)
Pastor Chuck Hill – Trinity Fellowship Church
Sunday, April 19, 2009
Well good morning! Today we’re going to be continuing the series we began last weekend entitled: UNREASONABLE! And if you were here, then you’ll remember that we said God is very UNREASONABLE! And by that, you know what we mean. Now, if you weren’t here last weekend, then before we go any further let me clear something up for you.
When we speak of God in this framework of being UNREASONABLE, we’re not saying that He’s hard headed or difficult to deal with. What we are saying, is that according to the actual definition of the word UNREASONABLE, as we discovered in Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary, He is…
The Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary defines “unreasonable” as:
“Not governed by or acting according to reason; exceeding the bounds of reason or moderation.”
So, for the context of this series…God is UNREASONABLE. He exceeding the bounds of reason…and is not governed by our limited in His ability in any way.
In this series of messages, we are exploring the nature and character of God. And what we are discovering is that He is a God who exceeds the very bounds of our human minds…He is clearly a God who is not forced to act according to the limitations of our humanity. In fact, one of the synonyms for the word UNREASONABLE is the word – extravagant. And that really wraps up the way God cares for His people. He is extravagant in everyway. He is in short –unreasonable!
Now, last week we talked about His Unreasonable Passion – His willingness to die upon the cross to bridge the breach in our relationship with Him that sin left.
But today, I want to go in a different direction. This morning I want to talk to you about God’s Unreasonable Protection.
And the creative team came up with this picture to communicate what we are going to discuss this morning. They came up with a “strong arm” and “mighty arm”, a “powerful arm” of protection. Something to communicate that God is not simple able – He is more than able to defend our lives and defeat our enemies.
You know, there are so many things people try to use (on the human level) to provide good luck or protection to their lives. For instance:
- A rabbit’s foot
- A Lucky penny
- A lucky stone
- Crossed fingers
- White feather
And there are even items from other religions that people believe can bring them luck and protection:
- Charms or amulets
- Some people believe just wearing a cross or religious item around their neck
- I have here – Muslim prayer beads
But I submit to you that the only thing that can truly provide blessing and protection in our lives – is God. And our submitting our lives to His Word and His Rule!
As I spent time this past week preparing for this message – I really felt there were so many directions I could go. There were so many angles I could take to express to you the abounding power and protection of God in our lives.
The most obvious and important I believe is the role of God in defending or protecting our spiritual lives. So, this morning, I want to begin with a number of scriptures that speak of the physical aspects of our lives – but what I feel to be even more important is the way God governs and protects our spiritual lives.
Psalms 12:7 (NCV) – “Lord, you will keep us safe; you will always protect us from such people.”
Psalms 18:30 (NCV) – “The ways of God are without fault. The Lord’s words are pure. He is a shield to those who trust him.”
Psalms 32:7 (NCV) – “You are my hiding place. You protect me from my troubles and fill me with songs of salvation.”
Psalms 71:7 (NCV) – “I am an example to many people, because you are my strong protection.”
Psalms 97:10 (NCV) – “People who love the Lord hate evil. The Lord watches over those who follow him and frees them from the power of the wicked.”
You know, if there is anything we must understand this morning it is this – there are 2 dynamics to our lives. We have that which is physical (our bodies – that which is flesh and blood) but we also have that which is spirit (our eternal lives – that which is not bound by the flesh and blood). And of the two, the second is of much more value – it is the one of greatest importance.
Knowing this is what would cause someone like Job (who suffered much in this life) to declare these words in Job 13:15,
“Though he slay me – yet will I hope in Him.”
Job 13:15 (NIV)
Now, Job wasn’t saying – “I know God…and He’s ruthless. So, out of fear – I’m going to serve Him.” In fact, it’s just the opposite. To those around Him who had observed the difficulties he was going through, and offered little trite bits of counsel (even to the point of cursing God and giving up)…to these he declared, “though He slay me, yet will I hope in Him.”
One contemporary Christian has stated, “There is no clearer account in all of Scripture, perhaps, of what it looks like when a true servant of God places his life in the hands of the Almighty.”
You see, Job had an understanding that this physical life was not all there was – there was more, much more! He wasn’t as convinced about the temporal defense and protection of God as he was the eternal defense and protection of God. Meaning that in this life there will be troubles. But, when it comes to the matters of our Soul…our Spirit – there is no question, God will go to the cross to protect us!
Now, I tell you all of that, because…today, I want to address the fact that God is so “over the top” when it comes to caring for our spiritual lives. He has gone to all lengths to ensure that we will be protected from the attempts and the attacks of the enemy.
Listen to the words of Jesus as recorded by John. John 16:33 says,
“I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”
John 16:33 (NLT)
His protection is just over the top – because, again…like His passion or love for us, He went to great lengths to care for us and watch over our lives.
Well let me share three basic principles about the protection God gives us if we will live our lives connected to Him. If we will follow Him – this is what He does for us.
1. He Provides Us with the Weapons Needed to Overcome
In Jesus’ day his disciples encountered a man who was possessed by a demon. The problem was – they couldn’t cast it out…so the man continued to suffer. That is, until Jesus showed up. Jesus was disappointed and frustrated by the inabilities of His disciples to live out what He had been modeling and teaching them over the past season of ministry. And in Mark 9 Jesus reminds them again about the secret weapon that His followers possess. He says,
“This kind can come out only by prayer.”
Mark 9:9 (NIV)
Now, I know this seems a bit elementary to you and me…but it is still the most powerful weapon we have. I don’t know what the disciples had tried…but whatever it was, it wasn’t the weapon needed! What they needed to do was to pray and believe!
Not much has changed in 2000 years. Prayer is still the weapon of choice in most situations that God provides us with.
But He has also given us another weapon…the weapon of His Word. Now try to understand this. The very Word of God (we call it the Bible) is the most powerful thing on earth!
One time, when Jesus was in the wilderness He encountered Satan. And isn’t that just the way it seems to go – Satan always sticks his nose in our business when we are in the wilderness of our lives? Anyway, Jesus is confronted by Satan and this battle begins…only Jesus never pulls out a light-saber or a machine gun to defend Himself. He simply chooses the Word of God. He quotes the ancient Hebrew Scriptures which He had studied and loved. And Satan couldn’t stand against the Word of God.
This story is found in Luke 4. But the point I’m making is that the Word of God is another powerful weapon that God has given us.
As life goes on…we will inevitably be confronted by evil and dangerous moments.
Life is not like flag football. There are real hits involved. But we are not powerless or ill-prepared. In fact, most of the battles that we face in life or not even physical ones…most are spiritual battles. And the apostle Paul addressed the way to overcome when we face a struggle or a battle like that. He says in Ephesians 6,
“For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places. Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm.”
Ephesians 6:12-13 (NLT)
You must realize that there is a battle going on…and the enemy of your life (Satan) desires to see you defeated. But the Bible declares these powerful words about you. It says,
“But you belong to God, my dear children. You have already won a victory…because the Spirit who lives in you is greater than the spirit who lives in the world.”
1 John 4:4 (NLT)
Never forget that the partnership with God provides a strategic advantage over the enemy. God tells us in Isaiah 54:17,
“’No weapon forged against you will prevail, and you will refute every tongue that accuses you. This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD, and this is their vindication from me,’ declares the LORD.”
Isaiah 54:17 (NIV)
Again I have to go back to the words of John…”greater is He that is in me than He that is in the world!” God has provided us with every weapon needed for our defense.
But He has assured us of even more than just our defense…according to the scriptures, he…
2. He Promises to Strengthen Us On Our Journey
Jesus is eager to supply our strength – but we must be willing to avail ourselves to His power. Listen to these three scripture passages, and then let me explain to you the pathway to receiving this promised strength!
Jesus Himself spoke these words just before He ascended into heaven…leaving earth physically but promising to remain with us. Matthew 28 tells the story. It says,
“Jesus came and told his disciples, ‘I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.’”
Matthew 28:18-20 (NLT)
“But when the Father sends the Advocate as my representative—that is, the Holy Spirit—he will teach you everything and will remind you of everything I have told you.”
John 14:26 (NLT)
“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
Acts 1:8 (NLT)
You see, the promise of His abiding power within our lives to strengthen us is contingent on our submitting to His work and leadership in our lives. It’s allowing Him to be “God in Us!”
If we want to experience His power – then we have to avail ourselves to it… and according to these scriptures, it flows from the Father, it’s distributed by Jesus and it’s activated by His Holy Spirit working in us as we follow Him.
Well we find in the example of Jesus the way to gain the strength and the power that we need (day in and day out) to live for Him.
And Jesus demonstrated this often, even daily. You see, our primary access point to His strength and power is through prayer. It is through time of solitude, when we can get alone with God. It is found in those quiet times of seeking after the heart of God.
Jesus showed us by His own example of this practice that we’re to spend time quieting ourselves down and listening to Him, we are to pray and seek His face for strength and direction. It is taking time to dwell with God.
Listen to these words from Psalm 91:1-2.
“He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the LORD, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.”
Psalm 91:1-2 (NIV)
When we stick with God – God sticks with us. When we find our place of belonging under His watchful eye of protection…He becomes our refuge and fortress, the place we go to when we are in danger or in trouble.
And if you ever feel weak and exhausted – unable to stand – weak in your faith, the bible declares in Psalm 18:32,
“It is God who arms me with strength and makes my way perfect.”
Psalm 18:32 (NIV)
And as if that’s not enough, the apostle Paul would add to that in 2 Corinthians 12:10, and say…
“…I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
2 Corinthians 12:10 (NLT)
God never tells us that we will not face difficulty – or even that we will not suffer. But He demonstrated in the life of Jesus (through His own struggle with pain and suffering) that strength comes through our Heavenly Father. And that’s the only way to live!
That’s just the way Jesus did it! And it’s the way we ought to do it!
And one last thought about life and pain…suffering and battles. When it comes to all of these things, God makes it clear…
3. He’s Already Provided the Final Victory.
The bible never leaves us guessing about the outcome of our lives once we submit to the leadership of Jesus. The ultimate outcome of the spiritual battles of life have already been addressed. Through the death and resurrection of Jesus, we have the provision of protection.
Now I know, last Sunday was Easter Sunday. Last week was the day we were supposed to talk about the death and resurrection of Jesus…and we did. But that doesn’t mean we can’t talk about it again. In fact, we must…because the death and resurrection of Jesus is the cornerstone to our faith. It is the crux of all we believe…and everything we believe is contingent upon it. So, I am going to take you to the cross again the morning to drive home the fact that at the cross – everything we have need of was provided!
And just to be certain that you don’t misunderstand what happened, let me make it clear for you…Jesus’ death on the cross was not a loss – it was not defeat, it was complete victory!
Don’t forget the fact that His death on the cross wasn’t the final leg of the race. It wasn’t the final battle of the spiritual war. It wasn’t the last chapter.
It was actually the path that provided you and me with the victory we so longed for and needed. It was as if His death began the next chapter of the story of faith for us! His death was a powerful but brief and limited act which was necessary in order for the triumphant resurrection to follow just 3 days later!
Do you understand what I am saying this morning? It took the 3 darkest days of human history with Jesus lying in the grave to provide Him with the opportunity to right every wrong and rise again as the victor of humanity!
In His resurrection He finished the task of bringing you and me the gift of eternal life and reconciled a distant and sinful humanity back with God.
And here’s the thing you must understand about His protection in your life. Though you are not promised a life without pain…you can be assured that your spirit will not suffer and die…for Jesus’ triumph over the grave extends to you and me!
Paul writes about this in 1 Corinthians 15:1-7; 50-58 and says,
“Let me now remind you, dear brothers and sisters, of the Good News I preached to you before. You welcomed it then, and you still stand firm in it. It is this Good News that saves you if you continue to believe the message I told you—unless, of course, you believed something that was never true in the first place. I passed on to you what was most important and what had also been passed on to me. Christ died for our sins, just as the Scriptures said. He was buried, and he was raised from the dead on the third day, just as the Scriptures said. He was seen by Peter and then by the Twelve. After that, he was seen by more than 500 of his followers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have died. Then he was seen by James and later by all the apostles.”
1 Corinthians 15:1-7 (NLT)
“What I am saying, dear brothers and sisters, is that our physical bodies cannot inherit the Kingdom of God. These dying bodies cannot inherit what will last forever. But let me reveal to you a wonderful secret. We will not all die, but we will all be transformed! It will happen in a moment, in the blink of an eye, when the last trumpet is blown. For when the trumpet sounds, those who have died will be raised to live forever. And we who are living will also be transformed. For our dying bodies must be transformed into bodies that will never die; our mortal bodies must be transformed into immortal bodies. Then, when our dying bodies have been transformed into bodies that will never die, this Scripture will be fulfilled: “Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” For sin is the sting that results in death, and the law gives sin its power. But thank God! He gives us victory over sin and death through our Lord Jesus Christ. So, my dear brothers and sisters, be strong and immovable. Always work enthusiastically for the Lord, for you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless.”
1 Corinthians 15:50-58 (NLT)
As followers of Christ, we can take comfort in this declaration. Jesus has conquered death and sin, and because of that – we don’t even have to fear it. Death has ultimately lost. And the grave won’t even be able to hold us down. Because like our Savior, we too will one day split open the grace and rise again to meet Christ in the air!
Isn’t that amazing? Jesus is our Supreme Conqueror! He was so serious about protecting our Souls and ensuring our relationship of safety with the Father in Heaven that He endured death upon the cross.
Now, let me go to the real question that some of you may be wondering.
What about our physical lives? Is it possible to find absolute protection in this world to ensure us from every facing pain or hardship?
And, the simple answer to that question is no!
As we read when we began this message – Jesus said,
“I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”
John 16:33 (NLT)
Listen, it’s no surprise that we live in a fallen world – and I think we all know that because of the destruction of sin on this planet – there are consequences that we may have to face in this life.
Struggles and hardships are just a part of living in this fallen and incomplete or imperfect world. As we discovered a few moments ago…one of the consequences of sin on this world is death.
The bible says that it has been appointed that we will all face death. The last time I checked – the death rate in this world was 100%. Folks, we will all die at some point…but hear me on this, we only have to die once.
There is such thing as the second death. The second death is complete separation from God for eternity. But, the bible makes it clear that we who are live in Christ will not have to face it. Salvation through Jesus has freed us from that awful option.
Here’s the thing…we are in this world – but we are not of this world. Because Christ lives in us, we like Christ are overcomers. We are victors and death has no power on us.
The only real guarantee about pain and suffering from Jesus was that “in this world” we will face difficulty. But we don’t have to fear – because He has overcome the world.
So, what is there to fear? DEATH! No! Death is the worst thing that can happen to us…but, according to the Word of God, death has lost its power. It has lost its sting!
So what does all of this mean in regards to finding protection from pain and suffering in this physical world. It means we like Jesus are to go to God in prayer. And in prayer find peace and strength and comfort and help!
We are to pray…but please understand the first act of prayer is not to change God, but to change us!
Prayer should change how we view our current sufferings in light of eternity. It should change how we think and how we see things. It should even change how we feel! Prayer has the power to bring our hearts and minds into alignment with God.
Now don’t misunderstand me…we believe in miracles and the supernatural. But prayer isn’t the tool of manipulation to force God to do anything. It is path to thinking right and having a confident expectation of God’s best in our lives. Prayer does have the power to change circumstances – but it’s greatest power is to change us first!
So, here it is…in life — we are to pray! We are to pray and ask God for the best outcome and for the desires of our heart. And then we are to believe! And we are to expect things to get better and even to become resolved on this side of eternity.
But even if they should end up differently than we might want…and even if we face death…(or like Job…even if He slay us)…we are still keep on serving God and hoping in Him!
When it comes to our lives – especially our spiritual lives in light of eternity – God demonstrates His extravagant protection! He loves you and me and will always watch over our lives – our physical and our spiritual!
So, here’s how I want to end this morning!
If you are going through something…problem, struggle, hardship, fear…or whatever, and you want prayer for God’s care and protection over your life…I want you to stand to your feet and step out into an isle and walk down to the front this morning.
I want you to let this be a step of faith. A step towards God – stating you need His help and His protection in your life. And you don’t have to worry – we aren’t going to get into your business and ask you a lot of questions. We just want to come along side you in prayer and ask God to meet you where you are.
Would you do that this morning?
Let’s close in prayer this together!