Close Enough to Whisper
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ConnectUs Church Audio Podcast
ConnectUs Church Audio Podcast

Episode · 1 year ago

Close Enough to Whisper

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

You don’t have to be far away from God. God invites you to be close. He has done everything needed to have a relationship with you. He’s with you. He’s right there when you turn to Him. Will you turn to Him and listen to His whisper?

...said. My name is Kevin, I am the lead pastor of connect US church and today we wrap up our series. Had it not been with a special message about how God is close to us? And if you're joining us for the first time today, that's great. You could jump right in. This is the last part of a message series, but hey, you can. We're so glad that you're here with us, but you have missed a lot with this series. Has Been really good, hasn't it? There we go. Yeah, Hey, I preach the messages to myself too. They're important of who God is and what that means for our life. And if you've missed anything, you can go to connect those church Dot Org and listen to all the sermons online or wherever you watch videos or listen to podcasts. We're there to encourage you to do that and catch up on those things. But sometimes it's nice to come into the beginning of a series, sermons series, and that's what's happening. Next week we're going to have a series called life hacks when you just need a better way. There's lots of things in life that we just need something better. And we're going to celebrate our first baptisms in this series and we're going to get ready to have our first communion as a church in this series to so we're really, really excited about that and I hope that you come back and bring somebody with you next week as we kick off this new series called life hacks. But for the last several weeks we've been looking at these attributes of God, who God is, and what that means for our life. And we've looked at some important big attributes that make God who God is, like the Omnies, the omnipotence of God, that God is all powerful, and the omniscians of God, that he is all knowing, and the Omna presence of God, where he is all present, and these are things that make God God like. If there was another being in this world that was more powerful than God, well then that being would be God, right, that's just the way that it works.

But our God is all of these things that makes him who he is. These are the incommunicable attributes of God. They are unique to God. But then there's some attributes of God that are communicable. They are communicated to his creation, specifically to US humans that were made in the image of God. And we looked at some of those attributes on a special service on Mother's Day and we looked at how God has motherly attributes. And so we could learn from our mothers as they reflect, as from our women as they reflect the characteristics of God, and we could learn and see what that means for our life today. And so wouldn't it be crazy if we worshiped a god, gave our whole life serving and following a God, you know, showed up somewhere to sing songs and listen to a message and about a God that we didn't know anything about, like we wouldn't know his personality, we wouldn't know his characteristics or his attributes, we wouldn't know what he liked or dislike. We just knew that there was a god and we're going to serve him. Would that be strange? And maybe you're here today and you're listening in and and you're not quite sure if you do believe in God and you got questions and you're wondering and and I just want to ask you, like, what God don't you believe in, because I don't believe in a lot of gods either. So who what God that you supposedly don't believe in, like, tell me about him. Who is he? What's he like that you don't believe in, and those types of questions, those types of searching, like I think this is the best place for you to be, like you are so welcome here in a brand new church, to ask those questions and to figure it out, because I think there is something to knowing who God is. And last week we started wrapping up our series with this idea that God...

...is holy, other he is set apart, completely outside of time and space, and yet at the same time he is close, he's with us. Like, what good is a holy, allpowerful, all knowing, all present God that doesn't care about his creation, is not with his creation, is not close to his creation? What good is that? Like this idea is captured in the idea of a deistic understanding of theistic theology. They would say that there was this God and he created everything and he he's like this Grand Watch maker and he designed this beautiful watch and he put it all together to make it work just right and then he laid it on the table and walked away, having nothing to do with it ever again. It's like, I don't know who winds up watches. Today or if they still do it that way. But, like you know, what good is a God that did that? What good is an all powerful God if his power can't make a difference in our life and in our world? What good is a allnowing God if his knowledge and his wisdom can't give us any peace? And what good is an all present God if he doesn't care enough to be present with us in our situation, in our thing that we are dealing with? If God was only far away, only transcendent, and not close, then our enemies would have swallowed US alive. Their anger would win. Life situations would engulf us and overwhelm us. It would feel like we were getting beat up every day, all day, and there was nothing we could do about it. But praise God that we do have an all powerful, all knowing, all present, transcendent God that is with us and for us and on our side,...

...and this God does not let the enemy win. We can be set free, like this bird from a hunter's trap. He breaks the very things that lock us up and hold us down and sets US free. He made the heaven and the Earth and he is close with us to help us. That's the Kevin Prayer phrase. Application translation of Psalm one hundred and twenty four. We use that to kick off our series several weeks ago. God is holy and set apart and he is close, he is with us. The big word of the day is imminent, imminent, and this is the idea, this kind of paradox is where we left off last week, where we talked about how there was this holy, transcendent God, he was separate from US little human, finite people over here, and that when Jesus died, God became one of us. And when Jesus died, this temple veil, this curtain, was lowered, it was it was torn from top to bottom. And now what Jesus did made it possible for little finite human being to be close to God in a way that was unique in a different ways from all of history. Like before that moment, before Jesus died on the Cross, God was separated by this physical curtain sixty feet tall, four feet wide or four inches wide' sorry, it's big. And there was this whole system of sacrifices and whole way the culture worked and everything that you had to approach God in this this like scary, awesome way, like, Oh man, he's just so far away. And what Jesus did is he tore down all...

...of those things that were separating us from God. He got rid of it, he fulfilled it. Is The big word there. And now, for the first time in all of history, we can have a special, close relationship with God. And so do you feel far from God? Do you feel like he's distant? Not sure that he hears your prayers, not sure that he cares about what you are dealing with? See, God invites you to be close to him, and what Jesus Accomplished on the Cross makes that possible. It makes it possible that you can have a close relationship with God. And it's because of what Jesus did, because of him, because of Jesus. See, if it was left to our own efforts, to our own attempts to try and get close to God, no way never going to work out, no matter what religious system we could come up with, no matter how many good deeds we could do, no matter how much money we ever gave the matter, whatever system you tried to figure out, it would never work. But God, through Jesus, what he did for us, made it possible. This holy, transcendent God became a human being and he put on flesh and dwelt among us. That's what we celebrate at Christmas, isn't it? And Manuel, God with us, Holy Transcendent God, came to be one of us. We'll see if I can get my illustration to work right here, like Jesus came, it comes, it over here. Jesus came and he sat next to Oh, sitting next to the wrong person. Are we go? I'll be back. Jesus sat next to somebody that...

...nobody ever got close with. Jesus US sat next to somebody with leprosy. I'm not saying you have leprosy, but and he said, he sat next to them and and nobody ever, nobody ever, would sit next to someone like this, because what they would get infected then. Leprosy a skin disease. It would jump and, you know, infect you and that was bad thing. And it was built into the law where you weren't allowed to go close to people and in fact, if I got too close, you were supposed to yell unclean, unclean, stay away, stay away. But here's Jesus, he comes and sit next to this guy and look, look, look what the Bible tells us Jesus did. Jesus reached out and he touched them. He got close to somebody that you're not supposed to get close to. And you know, God's not afraid of you. Did you know that? Like the stuff that you're dealing with, the stuff that scares you, the stuff that you feel guilty about and shamed about, like God can handle it, like, just bring it to him. You're not going to infect him by bringing your stuff to him. You know you're not gonna. You're not going to hurt him by bringing all of your baggage to him. Like he's not worried about his reputation if you bring all of your stuff to him. No, he touches you and instead of getting infected, he gives you wholeness, he gives you everything that you want, he gives your you blessing, gives you restoration. That God touches people that and gets close with people that nobody ever got close to. And then Jesus also got close to a woman one time and he sat next to her and they got talking about life and found out that she'd been through some stuff, some hard stuff, some...

...relationally marriage stuff, like she was on her her sixth relationship. And the other five didn't didn't work out so great. Not Saying that's your story, but and so Jesus sits next to her when nobody else would sit next to her, like she went to the well to get water by herself because she didn't want to be around anybody. But Jesus wanted to be with her, he wanted to talk with her and sit with her and they began talking and Jesus kind of showed him who he was, and then she believed that he was the Messiah, that there was something special about him, and she felt loved, that nobody ever loved her like that before. And so she went into the city and just couldn't stop talking about it and all of the people came out and look, look what they said from John Forty. They begged him to stay in their village and he stayed for two days. Jesus had to go through a place where nobody ever went to sit next to a woman that nobody wanted to sit next to, and because that he was that close, they asked him to stay and stay and be with him. You know, God, God's going to meet you at your place where you are going to avoid everything else. Wherever you run to wherever you're trying to escape to. God's there and he's going to offer you something that actually is going to fulfill you, like he's going to give you eternal life, abundant life that you've been searching for in all the wrong places. You keep going to that well, hoping that this time it'll be different, this time it'll last,...

...this time it'll make a difference in your life, and you just keep going and keep going and keep going, and Jesus is why don't you try this? I'm sitting right here with you and I'm offering something that's going to change your life. He sat next to somebody touch people that nobody ever touched. Thank you. And you're like, wouldn't it be great if Jesus was physically doing that with me? Like, I know Pastor Kevin is pretty cool, but like it's not. Doesn't hold candle to to Jesus sending next to me right, and Jesus can't do that. He can't, he can't do that anymore. That was two thousand years ago, to which I get it right. I understand that that was a long time ago, and so I want to to take your attention to a story in the Old Testament. That was eight hundred years before Jesus arrived on this Earth, eight hundred years and I'm going to introduce you to a guy named Elijah. Elijah was a prophet from God and we meet him in first kings chapter seventeen. But it's important before I turn there and you can turn your bibles are encouraging you to fall along. But it's important to know when Elijah lived, because we learn about this and first kings chapter sixteen. Elijah lived when the king was a hab and his wife, the Queen, was Jezebel, and the Bible tells us that these two people, the king and the Queen, were the worst king and Queen in the history of the nation of Israel. That is the time that...

Elijah lived. I think sometimes, maybe it's just me, but sometimes we think about the biblical characters in the Bible Carriage. Oh, they're in the Bible, you know, their life is good, God's with them, everything is fine, you know, like this guy lived during the time when the people in political power were the absolute worst in the history of the nation. Okay, so that's when Elijah lived and God did some amazing stuff through Elijah's life. Like one time Elijah challenged the false prophets of bail. That was the God that these terrible religious leaders, political leaders, was worshiping. And they said, okay, we're going to set up this contest, we're going to go up on top of this mountain and I'm we're going to build this altar of sacrifice and I'm going to put the man, the man, the the the animal, on the sacrificial altar. And then here's what we're going to do. We're going to find out who's God is the Real God. And so Elijah, he was very nice about it. He allowed their prophets to go first, all four hundred and fifty of them, and he thought, you know, bail is the he's the Fire God. So if there's any God that's going to rain down fire and consume and burn up the sacrifice, well certainly it was the god bail. And so Elijah let him go and of course there was nothing. There was no fire, and so Elijah was like, okay, my turn, God, do what you do, consume this fire or consume this sacrifice with your fire, and boom, you know, the fire came down and wiped everything out and it was like this glorious moment, this amazing moment, where God showed up in our world and in Elijah's life and this powerful way. And as a result of this, as you can imagine, King Ahab and Queen Jezebel were quite mad at Elijah.

Elijah also killed a bunch of the prophets that failed in there their little test. They're so King Ahab and Queen Jezebel was so mad at Elijah and they wanted to kill Elijah too, and so Elijah ran away. He ran away from Jezebel. He didn't want to die. He was very afraid of dying, and he came to this place out by the river, under a tree, and this is what he said. He said, I have had enough, Lord, he said, take my life, for I am no better than my ancestors who have already died. I'll I just like, why bother? Have you ever asked yourself that question? Why bother do anything for God? Why bother with this world? Why bother with trying? Why Bother with worshiping God? Why bother with loving and serving other people? Why bother go to church, getting your money? Why Bother? I've had enough. I've had enough of the stuff in my life. I've had enough disappointment, I've had enough frustration, I've had enough confusion, I've had enough relational strife, enough hatred. Just had enough. And you're in over your head and life's got you way down. You can't get out of bed and maybe that feeling captures where some of you are or have been, and you're wondering right who, who even cares? And I recognize that these thoughts and these feelings are very complex, like there's sometimes not an easy solution or an easy answer to these things. But I want you to know today that there is hope for you, that that we are here for you, that there is a...

God who is close and there for you and your life matters. It matters to us and it matters to God. And so with a complex thing and it's not always the easy thing, sometimes it's helpful to get some professional counseling or talk to somebody that's been through some of that before. And we want to walk with you through all of those things, if that's you or that would be helpful to you or somebody that you know. But there is hope and and we want to help you find that hope and walk through that with you. But look. Look what happens next to Elijah and his situation here. He's had enough. But as he was sleeping, and Angel touched him and told him get up and eat, and he looked around and there beside his head was some bread baked on hot stones and a jar of water. So he ate and drank and they laid down again. See, God is there with us and he meets us in our darkest places. He touches us, comforts us and he provides what we need. Have you ever felt God's touch when you needed it the most? It's truly an incredible thing, but sometimes it takes us a little longer to experience it, to live in the reality of it, and it took Elijah another time too. Is So. Then the angel of the Lord came again and touched him and said get up and eat some more, or the journey ahead will be too much for you. Sometimes it takes another, another try. So he got up and he ain't and drank in the food gave him enough strength to travel forty days and forty nights. That's a long travel, probably by foot, right run. Getting there. However, he could get there to Mount Si and I, the mountain of God, and there he came to cave where he spent the...

...night. Now, Mount Sy and I is the famous mountain where Moses saw the burning Bush, we talked about that last week, and where Moses received the Ten Commandments. So maybe Elijah was trying to get himself into position to hear from God. We're not really quite sure. But Mount sign another word for that as Mount Horror. But that's where it says Elijah went, and we're not quite sure if he was supposed to go there, because look, look what happens next. The Lord said to him, what are you doing here, Elijah? See, even when you're trying to run away, even when you're trying to get to that place where you always like, God's always got something for you. No matter where you are and nomember where you find yourself, God is going to show up and he's going to say something to you. He's like, you came here for a reason, Elijah. Let's figure out what that reason is and then let's get back to what I really have for you to do. So Elijah replied, I've zealously served the Lord Almighty, but the people of Israel have broken their covenant with you, Torn Down your altars and killed everyone in your prophets and I'm the only one left, and now they're trying to kill me too. So go and stand before me on the mountain, the Lord told him and as a lie, just stood there. The Lord passed by. The writer of first kings is telling us, okay, get ready, God's going to show up. Okay, God's going to show up. And so a mighty windstorm hit the mountain and it was such a terrible blast that the rocks were torn loose. But the Lord, he was not in the wind. And after the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. And after the earthquake there was a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. After the fire there was a sound of a gentle whisper, and when Elijah...

...heard it, he wrapped his face in his cloak and he went out and stood at the entrance of the cave. See God whispers because he is close. Sometimes we look for God in all the remarkable stuff, all the big things, all the wow there's God. Rid's amazing. God shows up most powerfully in the ordinary, in the mundane, in the every day, the day to day, and he speaks to us you know whisper because he's close and you don't have to feel far from God. God invites you to be close. You know he's so close he doesn't have to yell to you. He doesn't have to scream to get your attention. You know he doesn't have to be like Hey, my God doesn't have to do that because he's close to you. He is right next to you. He's as close as anybody can be, and God speaks in the power of a whisper. I guess Zela has ruined my illustration, but I can't do this illustration with anybody else, or else would be awkward. I was going to invite Alicia to come and stand on stage with me and I was going to show you how strange it would be if I was yelling in her face as she was standing right here, like I love you, well, you're the best. Like what?...

Like? That's that's no, no, it's a whisper and that's how God speaks to us. It's not an audible voice, necessarily, but it's a it's a gentle whisper. It's God saying I love you, you are special, you're created in my image. I've got a plan, in a purpose for your life. I will never leave you, I will never forsake you. There is nothing that can separate you from my love. Neither height nor depth, nor angels, nothing, nothing can separate you from my love. It's the whisper that God speaks to us, and he whispers because he's close. So what what is God whispering to you? What has God been telling you? What has God been whispering to you? We're going to take a moment now, is we wrap up this series, to reflect on the whole series about who God is and what the difference that makes in our life, about how God is right here with us and he is speaking to us. And so I want to encourage you now. When you came in, you should have received program and a connection card, and also in that packet was another car that has that had it not been logo on to the back is blank, because you're going to write on it and it's just the way to put down what's in your mind, to put down what's running through your your brain and put it down on to paper. And I hear the three things that I want you to write on that car. I want you to write the finish the sentence right God is blank, like what is an attribute, a characteristic of God? That has God's been revealing himself to you,...

...maybe in a special way through the last several weeks. God is blank. And then the second thing I want you to do and think about is think about a moment or an event in your life, something that you've been through, something that you've experienced, and just write that down too. So God is whatever. And then something that has happened in your life. And then I want you to connect the dots and say, okay, how did I see God at work in that situation? How did I see God show up in that moment, in that thing? So don't worry, I'll repeat those again. And here's what we're going to do. I'm going to play a video, a song. It's going to be five minutes long, so you'll have plenty of time to figure it out, and the song, underneath the song, underneath the video, is going to be those three things. God is, something that's happened in your life and how you've seen God at work. And then I'm going to invite you. You can share it with us, you can drop it in the offering box, you can take a picture of it and text me or email it to us, or however you'd like to share it. Or maybe you don't want to share it. Maybe it's special to you, maybe you want to keep it and put it somewhere where you'll see it, because I think it can be a reminder to us that God is close with us, that God is with us, and sometimes, when we were tempted to believe differently, we can look at that and say, yes, I remember this time. I remember that God is close and he was with me when I faced this and it was an amazing thing. And before I play that video and after the video our worship team will come up and close us out with another song. But I wanted to answer this exercise for myself and in a unique way. Today we were going to celebrate Kinsley's, our daughter, third birthday. It's going to be a lot of...

...fun. But six months ago she was in the icee you, after open heart surgery, and couple weeks ago my mother in law put some scrapbook stuff together of that moment in our life. Some pictures of Kinsley's, some pictures of me and Alicia and being there in the hospital and all of that stuff. And and if you don't know genie, my Motherin Law. She is an incredible scrap booker, like she like she is top knots right. This thing is beautiful. It's like it is amazing, it looks outstanding, it's really awesome. But when she she was so excited to show it to us and it's like I couldn't even look at it, like like I just I physically, like my eyes just wouldn't stay there. And it's just a reminder and just the just the thing for me that like God was with me, with us, with my daughter, in a special way in that season that like I don't even think I fully understood. And now that I'm trying to like look back on it, it's like man like God like protected us for some from some stuff and and didn't, you know, allow us to understand maybe the whole situation or or something. You know, God gave us a special close grace that we needed like in that moment and looking back now it's just like, oh my goodness, so that's mine and now I wonder what's yours. Remember, God is something. What has happened in your life, a moment, a season, something, and then how have you seen God at work? And then the worship team will come up after the song is over.

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