Connect: Our God’s Alive!

This morning, we meet for the first Sunday in the new year. For many, 2012 was a difficult year that we’ve chosen to happily put behind us as we eagerly look forward to a new year. For others, 2012 was a good year. In any case, we choose to leave the past in the past and proceed forward into a new year filled with possibilities.

 

For those who missed Wednesday evening’s service, I shared that I believe that God’s desire is to do a new thing in each of our lives. I won’t go over everything, but wanted to briefly summarize what was shared.

 

Isaiah 43:18-19
18 “Forget the former things;
do not dwell on the past.
19 See, I am doing a new thing!
Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness
and streams in the wasteland.

 

I believe that as we put God first in our lives and leave our old way of doing things behind, that He is going to create for us new paths that we never dreamed possible. I believe that even in relationships and in circumstances from our past that we now consider wilderness wastelands, God is going to make a way where there was no way.

 

God gave me the vision of how a man can work for years clearing a path by brushing and logging, but God can come and completely clear that same path in an instant with a tornado. I believe that God is going to do the same thing with things that we consider a waste of time and forgotten this year. As we honor Him by giving Him priority in our lives, He’ll go ahead of us and guide our steps down this new path.

 

It’ll be a year where cycles of sin and addiction are broken. Our old routines and ruts are going to be broken as we begin down the new paths that God makes for us. He is going to give us a new perspective and purpose in even the most mundane of our ordinary routines and will do great things through them.

 

I’m definitely looking forward to this new year!

 

This morning, we’re going to start a new message series entitled ‘Connect’. In it, we’re going to begin to learn who God really is and what He is like and how we can connect with Him.

 

Now, I had planned to start out this series with theological teaching about how God such as how He exists as the trinity and different attributes of what God is like and what He is not like. However, God lead me down a different path, to start out at least. I believe that God wanted to remind us of one important fact about Himself this morning. Our God’s ALIVE!

 

God’s not dead, He’s not non-existent, He’s not made up, He’s not some white haired crazy man striking people with lightning when they do wrong, He isn’t just a welcoming committee into Heaven and condemner into Hell, He’s not a cosmic gum ball machine to give us what we want if we’re well behaved.

 

God’s a living god. In fact, He is the only real God and He personally created us in His image and cares about us. He wants a real relationship with us and through it, wants to do great and awesome things in and through our lives. He’s not some distant and far off God who is difficult to get to know, He is a God who is always right with us and His desire is to reveal Himself to us so that we get to know Him better. He’s more concerned about our lives than He is our deaths; for our lives dictate our eternity.

 

In fact, Jesus even confirmed this by stating:

 

Matthew 22:32
‘I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’
He is not the God of the dead but of the living.
Also, the angels questioned the women at the tomb of Jesus on the third day:
Luke 24:5
“Why do you look for the living among the dead?”

 

God is alive now and forever and He is the God of the living – for in Him, there is no death!

 

Earlier in the scripture that we just read, God stated this. Now, as we read through this, I want each of us to personalize this and anytime that you see the word ‘You’, understand that God is speaking directly to each of us this morning.

 

Isaiah 43:10-13
10 “You are my witnesses,” declares the Lord,
“and my servant whom I have chosen,
so that you may know and believe me
and understand that I am he.
Before me no god was formed,
nor will there be one after me.
11 I, even I, am the Lord,
and apart from me there is no savior.
12 I have revealed and saved and proclaimed—
I, and not some foreign god among you.
You are my witnesses,” declares the Lord, “that I am God.
13 Yes, and from ancient days I am he.
No one can deliver out of my hand.
When I act, who can reverse it?”

 

This isn’t just an Old Testament desire of God’s, it is also part of the Great Commission that Jesus gave us after His death and resurrection and one of the purposes of depositing within us His Holy Spirit.

 

Acts 1:8
You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

 

What does it mean to be a witness? It means that you personally, firsthand, see or experience an event take place.

 

God wants us to personally and firsthand know Him, understand Him, and believe Him.

 

There is a common phenomenon that we see throughout scripture that has always amazed and disappointed me.  This phenomenon is this:

 

One generation personally and firsthand witnesses powerful moves of God.  They know God personally and are fully committed to Him.  They worship and praise Him and live their lives for Him and witness miracles, signs, and wonders.

 

That generation fades away and the generation following them does not know God, they do not know of His awesome works, and they do evil before God.

 

We see this phenomenon occur both on a national scale with Israel as well as within individual households.  We saw this occur with great men of faith such as Adam, Eli, Samuel, David, and Solomon.  We saw this occur with the nation of Israel immediately following the great, Godly leadership of Moses and Joshua and the mighty way in which the Lord delivered and lead them in an undeniable way with great signs and wonders.

 

Judges 2:10-12
10 After that whole generation had been gathered to their ancestors, another generation grew up who knew neither the Lord nor what he had done for Israel. 11 Then the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the Lord and served the Baals. 12 They forsook the Lord, the God of their ancestors, who had brought them out of Egypt. They followed and worshiped various gods of the peoples around them. They aroused the Lord’s anger.

 

Notice, this second generation didn’t stop being a people hungry for the spiritual nor did they stop worshiping just as the previous generation did.  However, they began to serve and worship things other than God Himself.  Was it their fault?  After all, how can they worship a God that they did not know?

 

Romans 10:14
How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?

 

I believe that God is calling us to be a generation that rises up and gets to know God; not the God merely spoken of by previous generations, but to witness the one, true, and living God.  A generation that personally witnesses God and all of His goodness and glory and lives in a relationship with Him.  A generation that is intentional about turning the hearts of our fellow generation back to the Lord.

 

I believe that He is calling us to be like the Josiahs of scripture who followed the Lord completely without turning to the right or the left amongst an evil and corrupt nation of his own people.  He found the word of God and, at 26 years old, turned the course of an entire nation as they committing along with him to follow the Lord with all of their heart and soul and to follow His commands.

 

A generation that puts away what they think is right, the causes that they feel so strongly about, and the ways in which they want to live and chooses to commit themselves to the Lord, His calling, and His purpose.  A generation that makes an intentional choice, knowing that God’s blessing follows that choice, and witnesses the miracles, signs, and wonders of previous, righteous generations.

 

The Bible says this about Josiah:

 

2 Kings 23:25
Neither before nor after Josiah was there a king like him who turned to the Lord as he did—with all his heart and with all his soul and with all his strength

 

In the end, will this be said of our lives?  IT CAN BE!  The Lord can say about us: Neither before nor after them was there a person like them who turned to the Lord as they did – with all their heart, soul, and strength.  The choice is ours just as it was Josiah’s.

We are called to be witnesses that know God, that understand God, and believe God.  God is alive!  We can experience, personally and firsthand, all of who God is.  When we are obedient to do our part, God is faithful to do His part.  When we commit to Him and follow His word; awesome things are promised to follow!

This morning, as we commit to the Lord with all of our heart, soul, strength, and mind and begin to dig and know Him better, we are sure to be witnesses to new things that we have never experienced before!  It starts with a simple prayer asking God to reveal Himself to us.

 

Listen again to what God is saying to each one of us this morning:

Isaiah 43:10-13
10 “You are my witnesses,” declares the Lord,
“and my servant whom I have chosen,
so that you may know and believe me
and understand that I am he.
Before me no god was formed,
nor will there be one after me.
11 I, even I, am the Lord,
and apart from me there is no savior.
12 I have revealed and saved and proclaimed—
I, and not some foreign god among you.
You are my witnesses,” declares the Lord, “that I am God.
13 Yes, and from ancient days I am he.
No one can deliver out of my hand.
When I act, who can reverse it?”

 

This morning, if you do not know God as your savior or if you are ready to rise up and be a Josiah in this generation, please rise with me and let’s pray together.  Our God’s Alive!!!