A SERMON DELIVERED AT
THE FEDERATED CHURCH OF ATHENS
19 OCTOBER 1997
Job 38:1-l l, 34-38
2 Corinthians 6:16
People acknowledge God in many and varied ways.
Some people acknowledge Him by using His name as an expletive, or exclamation.
Others say they believe in God, yet follow none of His directives for living their lives.
Today, were going to look at what it should really mean to acknowledge God.
The Book of Job is probably the oldest Book in the Bible.
It is believed that Job was a contemporary of Abraham, who lived some 4,000 years ago, and as such, Shem, the son of Noah, was most likely still alive, as a direct witness of the Flood, and the reason that it occurred.
But even Job, in all his faithfulness, still found himself falling short of fully acknowledging the magnificence of God.
Job, in his frustration, thought himself justified in arguing with God over God's motives in allowing what happened to him to happen.
And in so doing, Job made himself out to be somewhat equal to God.
Thus, God lovingly answers Job with a rebuke to him and his friends (38:1f).
1. Then the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind and said,
2. "Who is this that darkens counsel By words without knowledge?
3. "Now gird up your loins like a man, And I will ask you, and you instruct Me!
Do you note the touch of sarcasm?
God doesn't want to force us to worship Him, which He could easily do, for that would not be worship, but ritualistic behavior.
To truly worship God, we must first acknowledge Him for who He is, and do so willingly.
And once we have done this, our worship becomes more genuine, because we have come to realize who He really is in the depths of our hearts and souls; and the awareness of the awesome difference between Him and us should humble us into willing submission.
And to get Job and his friends properly refocused their minds and spirits, God says,
4. "Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell Me, if you have understanding,
5. Who set its measurements, since you know? Or who stretched the line on it?
6. "On what were its bases sunk? Or who laid its cornerstone,
7. When the morning stars sang together, And all the sons of God shouted for joy?
Then God makes reference to the rain and the Flood, and the way the waters of that day have now been contained, as if to remind them of what happened less than 500 years before.
8. "Or who enclosed the sea with doors, When, bursting forth, it went out from the womb;
9. When I made a cloud its garment, And thick darkness its swaddling band,
10. And I placed boundaries on it, And I set a bolt and doors,
11. And I said, 'Thus far you shall come, but no farther; And here shall your proud waves stop'?
Obviously it wasn't Job or his friends, it was God alone who did all this.
Why is it so hard of us to willingly acknowledge this?
With all of our technowlogy, we cannot even fully predict the whether, let alone control it, which is what God asks Job and his friends if they can do (34-38).
34. "Can you lift up your voice to the clouds, So that an abundance of water may cover you?
35. "Can you send forth lightnings that they may go And say to you, 'Here we are'?
36. "Who has put wisdom in the innermost being, Or has given understanding to the mind?
37. "Who can count the clouds by wisdom, Or tip the water jars of the heavens,
38. When the dust hardens into a mass, And the clods stick together?
It should be obvious that only God can do this.
We need to acknowledge God.
We need to acknowledge who God really is, in all His glory.
And we need to acknowledge who we really are before Him.
This is exactly what God wanted Job and his friends to fully understand, and this is exactly what the writer of Psalm 104 did.
Let's look at the first 9 verses.
1. Bless the Lord, O my soul! O Lord my God, Thou art very great; Thou art clothed with splendor and majesty,
2. Covering Thyself with light as with a cloak, Stretching out heaven like a tent curtain.
3. He lays the beams of His upper chambers in the waters; He makes the clouds His chariot; He walks upon the wings of the wind;
4. He makes the winds His messengers, Flaming fire His ministers.
We look at things so technically today, we fail to focus upon God in these poetic ways, ways that bring us closer together.
We really need to see God, yes, even today, even more so today, moving about His creation in this poetic manner.
For as we more fully see God, the easier it is to acknowledge Him in every aspect of our lives, which includes following the intent of both His creation and His commandments.
5. He established the earth upon its foundations, So that it will not totter forever and ever.
6. Thou didst cover it with the deep as with a garment; The waters were standing above the mountains.
7. At Thy rebuke they fled; At the sound of Thy thunder they hurried away.
8. The mountains rose; the valleys sank down To the place which Thou didst establish for them.
9. Thou didst set a boundary that they may not pass over; That they may not return to cover the earth.
And once again we have a reference to the Flood, as probably the greatest post creation event, one that changed the surface of the earth, as a way to help us focus ourselves upon God.
And in acknowledging who God really is, in all His creative majesty, the psalmist also acknowledges the truthfulness of Scripture.
Probably the biggest problem we have as the human race, is that we deny the presence of God, in order to fulfill the evil intent of our minds and hearts and souls.
For, when we acknowledge God, we also become responsible for our actions.
I want us to really think about all of the world religions, and about how the various peoples of this world get along with one another.
And I want us to honestly look at the people who call themselves Christians, and see if we really reflect the image of Christ throughout the world.
And as we reflect upon these things, listen to what Paul wrote to the Romans about people who don't acknowledge God (1:18-23).
18. For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness,
19. because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them.
20. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.
21. For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God, or give thanks; but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened.
22. Professing to be wise, they became fools,
23. and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures.
I personally find it amazing how mankind, over the centuries, has lifted up animals as deities, and at the same time persecute and eat them.
The very fact of our ancestors worshipped other humans and animals is, in itself, a significant acknowledgment of the created soul, spirit, and intelligence of these individual creatures.
Yet, today, most of us deny these attributes to the animals.
We deny the truth.
Now, let's consider one more passage from 2 Corinthians 6:16.
16. Or what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God...
Could our problem as Christians be that we are so unsure of our own selves and our own faith, that to make ourselves seem religious, when we are not, that we fight and pick at each other, and at animals, over man made ritualistic practices, that really have nothing to do with God's first intent to love Him and each other?
Could we be doing this because it's a way of denying the presence of God in others who are different from us, for to admit the presence of God in others, we might be accused of making them seem like God's children also, and in some ways as idols?
Just because we acknowledge God's created truth in the other beings does not mean that we should worship them.
On the contrary, it should bring us closer to the One who gave us all these attributes, and worship Him.
To be able to see the touch of God in every aspect of creation makes us also responsible for it's care.
But if we deny the presence of God, we then can justify ourselves in our abuse and ravaging of God's creation as we please, for we are no longer accountable to anyone.
To deny God, or any part of His creation, doesn't make God disappear, or us less responsible; it only shows how foolish such people really are.
To say in our hearts, that God doesn't love a Buddhist, or a black person, or a cow, or a chicken, or a forest, or an ocean, or any other created being or thing, is really a way of expressing our own lack of love and faith.
It's a way of trying to hide ourselves from the truth, and our own responsibility.
It's a way of shielding ourselves from pain.
For if we allow ourselves to fully acknowledge God, we will find ourselves also feeling the pain and suffering we have caused, and are still causing in the world around us.
We can never fully be God's children, until we allow the mind of Christ to be our mind, too.
We need to acknowledge God to such an extent, that the pain and cries of oppressed people cause us to stop oppressing them, and to stop others from oppressing them.
We need to feel the pain and suffering we are causing the animals, to such an extent, that we stop causing it.
And we need to feel the suffering of God over how we are systematically destroying His creation, that we stop doing it.
In other words, to fully acknowledge God, we must allow ourselves to be filled with His unconditional love and compassion.
We've made excuses for too long a time.
It's time to really be Christians.
It's time to fully acknowledge God.
It's time to live His unconditional love and compassion for the whole of creation.
Your Comments are welcome
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