Posted by: lepages | January 3, 2010

I believe in God the Father, Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth

As well as preaching I sometimes send my notes from my preach to others – thought I’d put them on my blog. Realise some of it may not easily follow without being there! I’ve also attached my Presentation, so you can see what others saw. I use OpenOffice – a brilliant Office package available free to download, so if you want to see the Presentation you can download and install the programme. Bizarrely I still put (PP) (short for PowerPoint!) in my notes to prompt advance on the slides!! Old habits die hard!

Of course my preach doesn’t always end up exactly as intended! If you want to hear what was delivered you can go to the church website – hopefully it’ll be up there soon!!

The Apostle’s Creed
“I believe in God the Father, Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth”
03/01/2010

Introduction
Good morning! Its great to be back and what a wonderful privilege to start the year with the greatest theme of all – God!! (PP)

Thank you for the time of sabbatical, allowing me to have time for spiritual reflection, refreshment and renewal. I wish I could say during the time that I’d had some great revelations to share with you, but I haven’t….

What I have received though and had impressed on me is a reminder of the wonder of our God, the wonder of the privilege of knowing him, the wonder of his seeking us out and saving us because he wants to know us and for us to know him.

As well as that I’ve had impressed on me afresh the wonder of what we are called to as Christians – and the joy that there is in living out the fullness of what God calls us to. I don’t measure up to it, but I know that the more I step into it the greater joy there is in life. If you want to know what that joy is about then have a read of Philippians, written by Paul, whilst in prison for his faith, and yet brimming with joy!

Facebook quotes from L.M. & H.H.
“The talent for being happy is liking what you have instead of what you don’t have!”
“You’re getting very thoughtful- we have so much and the most precious is Jesus, the people we love, and those that love us”

Do you want joy in your life?
Then you need to go all out in living your life for God – whatever it costs, whether in physical, financial, emotional terms, or any other terms for that matter.

That could be your New Year’s Resolution, but don’t treat it that way, as so many New Year’s Resolutions don’t carry through in to day to day living for very long – I can guarantee that any of you who belong to a gym will find it getting busy over the next few weeks and then in about 6 weeks time quieting back to its normal level!

Well, New Year, new series of teaching. We begin our New Year’s teaching based around the Apostle’s Creed (PP) – a creedal statement that begins with the words ‘I believe..’ (PP)

The Apostle’s Creed was originally written to give a clear foundational statement about what orthodox Christian belief was and is. In the early centuries after the time of Christ there was a hodge podge of religion around. People could worship this god, or that god… follow this religion or that religion…. accept this and ignore that. Most of the New Testament was written to correct false teaching which was entering into the life of the church, whether in its teaching about who Jesus was and is, or about how we should live out our lives as Christians. There was a fascination with ‘the spiritual’ – something beyond us and it went under the title ‘Gnosticism’ – it involved a separating out of spirit and body, seeing the spirit life as separate from the physical life – and this even went down to false teaching about Jesus and who he was as the Christ of God – Emmanuel – God with us, as we’ve reflected over the Christmas period.

It seems to me that we live in a very similar society – a society where it is now okay to believe virtually anything. I believe could well be a phrase which marked the character of the last decade – belief hasn’t been about truth, but about what I think, what I believe. Ask people whether they believe in God or not, and a majority of people will still say that they do – but what do they believe in? What does the word ‘God’ mean to people? For some, perhaps the traditional, almost Father Christmas like, image of an old man with a long white flowing beard; for others its a case of ‘Well, I believe there’s something out there….’ – whatever that means… For others its ‘Yeah, God is the life force in everything.’

People some times say ‘I’m a Christian’, even at times, ‘I’m Christian’ – but what does that mean?
Is it some kind of notional ascent to something, or is it a clear statement of belief?

The early church, faced with these struggles gave time to thinking about what are the key things that we need to believe as true to truly mark us out as being not just Christian (in our manner and our actions) but truly a Christian, as being an authentic disciple of Christ.

An early form of the Apostle’s Creed can be traced back to around 200AD and was in the form of three questions which were posed as a confession of faith for people about to be baptised, and of course we are planning a baptism service in about 6 weeks time.
An early theologian, Hippolytus of Rome (AD 170-236) recorded it in this way in his treatise ‘The Apostolic Tradition’:- (PP)

“Do you believe in God the Father almighty?
Do you believe in Jesus Christ the Son of God, who was born of Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary, who was crucified under Pontius Pilate, died, and rose the third day living from the dead, and ascended into heaven, and sat down at the right hand of the Father, and will come to judge the living and the dead?
Do you believe in the Holy Spirit, and the holy church, and the resurrection of the flesh?”

Over the following few centuries, it was modified to pretty much the form we have used today, as an affirmation of faith, in response to false teaching which sought to draw people away from truth.

Over the next few weeks, to make sure we know what we believe, rather than some vague ‘I believe in God; I believe I’m a Christian’ statement we’re going to explore this statement of faith phrase by phrase. We won’t complete it all in January, so we’ll return to it again for a couple of weeks in the Spring.

So today, the theme I have been longing to get to! (PP)

“I believe in God the Father, Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth.”

This statement of belief is not some vague ‘I believe in God’ statement – its a statement about who God is in his nature, its a statement about how he wants to be in relation to us as human beings, its a statement about how everything has its origins in him.

The Apostle Paul, in his letter to the church at Colosse writes in Colossians 1:10,11 (PP)

“… we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might…”

You see God wants you to know him up close and personal, but he wants you to know about him too. There are 2 dimensions to ‘knowing God’ – the personal experience of just being with him, which is something I’ve had the joy of doing at times during my sabbatical, but also knowing about him – knowing about God is at the heart of what it means to know him…

ILLUSTRATION
Boy meets girl, boy falls in love with girl – he doesn’t just want to be with her, he wants to know all about her – her likes and dislikes, her hopes and her dreams, her background, her family, her interests and so on.

Should it be any the less for us in knowing God?

I’ve had the privilege of ‘growing in the knowledge of God’ during my sabbatical – in all sorts of ways – one excellent way was doing a course at CWR’s Waverley Abbey – the course was entitled ‘Genesis to Revelation – God’s Redemptive Story’ and gave me fresh insight into the nature of our God. If you can find a way to be free for 10 Mondays next Autumn I’d encourage you to go on the course – do it and you will grow and be blessed in your knowledge of God. Speak to me if you’d like to know more.

For something more immediate, beyond our time together today and in our cell groups during the week, pop along to WesleyOwen bookshop before it closes and get a copy of this book (PP)
‘Incomparable’ – Explorations of the character of God, by Andrew Wilson.

One chapter I read recently is headed (PP) ‘God is unknowable, yet knowable’

It begins with a quotation from Matthew 11:27 English Standard Version (PP)
“No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.

If you know God, you are highly privileged because Jesus has chosen to reveal him to you!

This is why God is so vague to so many people – I believe there’s something out there….

Well that’s not how God wants to be known, he wants to be known and experienced personally, he wants us to know what it means as the hymn writer puts it to be ‘lost in wonder, love and praise’ and he wants us to grow in our knowledge of him.

My hope and prayer for this morning is that you will go away wanting to know more of our God, wanting to know more of his presence through spending time with him and wanting to grow in your knowledge of him through exploring his nature and the way he works through his Word.

Some thoughts then to get you started from our phrase from the Apostle’s Creed for today.

I believe in God the Father
God isn’t just God at a distance – he is God who desires relationship – that’s why in the first chapters of Genesis we find God walking in the garden of Eden, calling after Adam, ‘Where are you?’ when Adam & Eve had hidden themselves because of their sin. That’s why we have in the Old Testament God choosing a people to be his own – calling Abraham to leave his country and go somewhere unknown with God. We have God calling a people out from slavery in Egypt – and through the Old Testament we have theophanies, appearances of God before he became flesh in the person of Jesus Christ, appearing to Abraham, and Abraham having conversation (argument even) with him (Genesis 18); then there was Daniel and his friends, thrown in to a burning furnace , and walking with them one who in Nebuchadnezzar’s words ‘looks like a son of the gods’ (Daniel 3).

Throughout Scripture we find God communicating with his people, and he does so in terms of relationship. In Exodus 4:22,23 God tells Moses to say to Pharaoh:- (PP)

‘This is what the LORD says: Israel is my firstborn son, and I told you, “Let my son go, so that he may worship me.”

God displays his relationship with his people as the highest relationship known in the society of the time – a father with his firstborn son – God’s view of his relationship with his people is that it is the highest possible relationship.

When King David wants to build a permanent temple in honour of God and God has to tell him its not him that is to do it, but his son, he says of Solomon, (2 Samuel 7:14) (PP)
“I will be his father, and he shall be my son.”

The idea of being adopted as the children of God, as sons of God, is not just a New Testament concept – it grew through the developing relationship of the people of God with God throughout the Old Testament, so that by the time we get to the prophets towards the end of the Old Testament they know that that is how they relate to their God – so Isaiah says in Isaiah 64:8 (PP)
“Yet, O LORD, you are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand.”

Right through Scripture though there is expression not just of how God wants to be in relationship to us as human beings, but also about his nature. Isaiah seems to grasp who God is in his nature – that he is (PP) Almighty, and too that he is the Maker of heaven and earth.

He expresses something of God’s Almighty nature by saying we are just clay, you’re the potter; he expresses the fact that God is the Maker of heaven and earth, by saying we are all the work of your hand.

God is Almighty – he has all power to do what he likes, when he likes.

Turn with me if you would to that passage from Isaiah 64 – you’ll find it on page 750 of the church Bibles. Isaiah is pouring out his heart to God, desperate for him to act, but as he does so his prayer expresses something of the Almighty nature of God, something of God’s desire for relationship with his people, and something of how he is the Maker of heaven and earth – and these three themes echo throughout the whole of scripture.

READ Isaiah 64:1-9
(Emphasise phrases and draw out themes as you read)

The God we believe in is not just any god, he is not just the product of human desire, he is the Almighty God.

Turn back a few pages in your Bibles to Isaiah 40 (p724)

Get a grip of the Almighty nature of our God, who longs for us to know him as our Father as we read these verses.

READ Isaiah 40:9-28

This is the God we believe in… (PP)

I believe in God the Father, Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth

The first chapter in the Bible begin like this:- (PP)
“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”


This is the God we believe in, the God who created all that is, the God who put it all together, put all the right things in the right place at the right time, who even now sustains it all and keeps it all functioning in the right way – inspite of what we do to his wonderful creation.

Genesis doesn’t tell us how God created. I don’t know whether he created in a literal seven days as we count time, or whether each ‘day’ represented an epoch period of time, or whether he created through directing an evolutionary process – personally that last option seems the least likely to me. Genesis doesn’t tell us how God created, it just tells us that he did – that he is the Maker of heaven and earth.

If you want to grow in your knowledge of God can I encourage you to explore, to appreciate, to look carefully at the natural world – it reveals the nature of the Creator, it causes hearts to swell in wonder and praise for the intricacies of his creation.

Romans 1:20 says:- (PP)
“For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities – his eternal power and divine nature – have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.”

Conclusion
God is the Almighty, the one who has all power and can do what he wants, when he wants, how he wants, because it is who he is – the Almighty.
God is the Maker of heaven and earth – the one who created everything that is and put it all in place – examine anything in all creation and see if there is any other adequate explanation for it beyond having a superb designer put it all in place in right balance.
God is the Father who desires relationship with his people, who wants them to know him, to know his presence and continue growing in the joy of finding out more and more about him.

Lets continue to grow in the knowledge of God; lets know who we believe in and let us rejoice in him and worship him as he deserves for all that he has revealed to us of himself.

I believe in God the Father, Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth!

Do you?

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  1. […] was…. no training… bit of a pattern going on here Julie was still ill in bed. Did my first preach at church after my sabbatical – not my best preach in delivery and had to cut some out, but I was […]


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