God is: Holy
First entry in our new Sermon on the character and nature of God. Given on April 19th 2020
Welcome to our livestream from my android smartphone with a giant crack across the screen.
Our new Camera system will be up and running soon, so in the meantime we’ll be making due with this set up.
A few quick announcements:
We have digital giving set up through Venmo (ChristCommunityChurch27) so if you feel led to continue to tithe and give offerings, you can do so digitally, or you can go old school and send a check in the mail 27 W Genesee st
On Tuesdays we have been posting a “Bible Study Worksheet” to help us open our brains from the upcoming sermon
On Thursdays we post a “digital devotion” video to help open our hearts
THIS FRIDAY April 24th we will be having a Free “grab & go” ziti dinner, that is open to whoever wants to come.
Curbside delivery, just pull up, yell at me, and ill bring you some food.
Lastly, our sermon today, is going to be an introduction to a new Sermon Series that were starting titled “What is God like”
We’ll be looking at the character and nature of God, and discussing a different attribute each week.
So….with that being said. Lets kick this thing off.
Today we’ll be talking about why knowing the attributes of God is important, and briefly introducing one of them.
The first thing were going to talk about in this Sermon Series, is that God is “holy”
We’ll be looking at a few different verses to help us along the way, but the primary one is 1st Samuel 2:2, which says:
“There is none holy like the LORD: for there is none besides you; there is no rock like our God.”
( → Opening prayer ← )
Alright….so….first things first.
This morning Id like to introduce our new Sermon Series, and then move on to the first topic. These topics were going to discuss, have entire libraries written just about them....so my Sermon is by no means going to be a compltetley exhaust the depth of each subject.
but...I would encourage each of you to take the time to study what we talk about every Sunday. There is no bad that can come from studying the Word of God.
When we go through this Sermon Series, were going to be talking about some really big ideas, and using some really big words.
If youve ever skipped a stone across a lake or across a pond------that is a good analogy for what were going to be doing for this Series.
The depths of what were talking about will be there, and some topics we’ll go pretty deep into, but other ones were going to skim across the surface just enough to wrap our brains around it, and then keep moving.
Were doing this, because God wants us to know Him.
He has revealed things about Himself in Scripture---
He told humans things about Himself---
He told us about different aspects of Himself---
How He operates--
How He moves--
And why He does those things--
He did this, because, like I said, He wants us to know these things about Him. He’s not hiding behind the clouds, looking down at us, He communicated and communicates to us, He became one of us, He wants us to know Him.
However, us being human means that we will never be able to completely and fully understand Him. There will always be a disconnect. There is a ceiling to our mental ability, that He exists above.
Not because He’s keeping it secret, but because we cant make sense of it.
For us to be able to fully understand and grasp the totality of the Godhead, would be like asking a newborn baby to perform brain surgery.
Its not something that can happen because of the nature of who it is were talking about.
You see, every time God has communicated with humanity in Scripture, it was in a way that we can make sense of. He didnt appear as some amorphous blob of energy floating in the sky and beaming physic messages into people’s brains.
He condescended the way He communicates, to a way that we puny humans can understand.
He revealed Himself as a burning bush that wasnt consumed, to Moses, because that was something that Moses could SOMEWHAT comprehend.
Theres a bush ------ I understand what bushes are
Theres fire ------ I understand what fire is
Theres a voice ------ I understand what a voice is
But it still doesnt make sense.
Why isnt the bush turning to ash?
Why is there a voice?
What is going on here?
You see, when God communicated to Moses, and when He communicates to everyone else, He accommodates to our level of understanding and comprehension.
He uses things and events and words that we can relate to and understand, to convey that He is beyond us.
When Moses was on the mountain, getting the 10 Commandments, the Bible says that the entire mountain was shaking, there was a huge cloud of smoke, and God’s voice rang out like thunder.
These are all things that we can wrap our mind around
Mountains // Smoke // Thunder
The mountain was an instrument that God used…..to declare that He is someone who can use mountains as instruments.
In Joshua 10, Josh prays that the Sun wont go down during their battle, and guess what, God answers His prayer.
The sun didnt move across the sky for the entire day.
People understood that sun rose, traveled over their heads, and then set. They understood days and hours, but something was happening that was beyond them.
The Sun was an instrument that God used….to declare that He is someone who can use the Sun as an instrument.
Every time God communicates with us, He lowers it to a level that we can understand.
Humans do this too. Think about the words and speech patterns that adults use when talking to children.
Not “talking down” to them
Not communicating in a way that makes them feel stupid and less than us.
But accommodating to their level of comprehension. Kneeling down and lowering themselves to their level of understanding.
So when we hear these super big words, some that maybe youve never even heard before, and super complicated explanations about the nature of God--------we have to understand that as complicated as it may seem from our side, is as simple as God could make it without compromising the truth.
This is what God does, this is what Scripture is.
He communicates to us in ways that we can understand--- even if they stretch our brain a little bit
God accommodated His communication, to a level that those whom He loves, can understand.
So why is this important?
Why should we care about this truth?
It matters for 3 reasons:
First, we would end up thinking we are too stupid and dumb to know God, and as a result we would believe that God doesnt really love us.
Secondly, we would end up thinking we know everything there is to know.
And the third reason, im going to save till later for an extra dramatic effect.
Ok first. If we dont understand that God has accommodated His communication to a level we can understand, we would end up thinking we are too stupid and dumb to know God, and as a result we would believe that God doesnt really love us.
We end up thinking that THOSE people, on the TV, on the Pulpit, the people who use the really big words, the people who have multiple books and fill mega churches with thousands of people-------are the real Christians.
Me? Im just some stupid, small brained, incompetent person. If God really loved me, like He loved THOSE people, then I would be able to understand it better.
If I was special to God, then I wouldnt struggle with all these things---
If I was really saved ---- if God really lives within my heart----
If God really loved me, then all the special stuff, that all the celebrity Christians know, would be known by me-----but I dont know it, so I must be stupid and unloved.
That kind of thinking ----- is a huge steaming pile of nonsense.
There’s no secret conspiracy within the pages of Scripture, that only the person with the new book deal knows about….
There’s no secret instructions from God that only the people with a ministry named after them can understand….
Now….it must be said, that while yes there are some people more gifted than others---
There are some people whose brains work differently than mine, and differently than yours-----
But they are not more holy than you, they arent more special, loved, cared for, or important.
That is not the way that God works.
You yourself----- each of you hearing this message this morning------ can understand the things of God that He revealed about Himself in Scripture.
You may not have a PHD in ancient Hebrew and biblical literacy, but you are someone whom God accommodated His communication for.
Don’t beat yourself up, if you're having trouble understanding something, dont write yourself off as not “one of them”
But also……...dont give up before even trying.
God gave you a brain
He gave you the ability to reason, to ask questions, to wonder, to think.
Exercise the brain that God gave you, and if anyone tells you to trust them without question--------tell them to go have a nice day
#2 of why it’s important to understand that God accommodated His communication to us
Is because it keeps us humble.
It stops us from becoming one of those people who I just talked about that treat the people without book deals like mindless sheep with deep pockets.
It stops us from lording ourselves over all the peasants.
I dont know if you all know this, but the Church has a bad history of doing this.-----of lifting themselves higher than other people
WE are the ones with the understanding-----you just listen to us.
It even got to a point, where the common folk werent even allowed to read the Bible. Only the smart, chosen, special, royal people could read the Bible, and us blue collar common folk and to just stand there all slacked jawed waiting for them like a dog waiting for their master to feed them.
If we truly understand that God had to accommodate His means of communication into ways that humans can understand, we will realize that He is above and beyond us, to such a degree, that we can never come to a complete and total understanding.
Yes we are able to know enough about God to know Him;
To love Him
To accept His love
To live in a way that He declares as right
And to tell others about Him.
But we will never come to a complete understanding of the totality of Him
We cant quantify the completeness of God to fit within the frame of human understanding.
And when we realize this, it helps us remain humble and not lift ourselves up.
And now….the 3rd reason that Ive been saving till last for dramatic effect...
God accommodates His communication to a level we can understand, because:
#1- He doesnt wants us to lower ourselves to some sniffling stupid person---
#2 - He doesnt want us to raise ourselves up like some beacon of holiness---
And #3 - because He …. Is ….. Holy.
God is holy.
Which means that God is apart from, separate, different, distinguished by His difference from everything in all of reality.
Psalm 89:6 - “For who in the skies can be compared to the LORD? Who among the heavenly beings is like the LORD,”
Isaiah 40:25-31 - “To whom will you compare me? Or who is my equal?” says the Holy One. Lift up your eyes and look to the heavens: Who created all these? He who brings out the starry host one by one and calls forth each of them by name. Because of his great power and mighty strength, not one of them is missing.”
God is not a part of the created order of reality.
If we were to create a hierarchy list of everything ever, starting with microbes and insects, then moving up to mushrooms and mice, then small animals, then big animals, then humans, mountains, continents, planets, galaxies, solar systems, angels, demons,
God would not be at the top of that list.
God is not at the top of the list------
There would be everything in all of reality on one list, then over here there would be God, by Himself. With no one else able to be there with Him.
To help us understand that He is holy, we can look at what He isnt:
Some man in the sky with a beard, who weighs different decisions and contemplates over them, and then always comes to the right choice.
A super special being with super strong powers that we could recreate in a movie or in a book.
A perfected human, who is the smartest & the strongest, with every aspect of his emotions, personality, and physicality amped up to the god-level.
God isnt…...like us, but better.
He doesn’t look like us ////// Act like us
Think like us ////// He doesn’t speak or communicate like us
Feel like we feel
Emote like we emote
Love like we love
God is holy. Above, before, prior, higher. God is holy.
Isaiah 55:8-9 says “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. 9 “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”
Everything in all of reality, in all of the universe, every swirling exploding galaxy and every microscopic atom, sprang into existence at some point.
Everything has a beginning, except for Him.
God is holy.
In fact, this description of His state of being----- Him being “holy”, is the only attribute that is mentioned in triplicate.
Isaiah 6:3 & Revelation 4:8 are both instances of angels crying out and worshipping, saying that God is “Holy, Holy, Holy”. Nowhere else in Scripture is an attribute of God defined three times in a row like this.
It doesnt say “God is love, love, love,” or “God is grace, grace, grace” it says that He is “Holy, Holy, Holy”
However----this holiness of God----is not maintained by an act of His will. He does not try really hard and choose to be holy because He wants to be. Holiness is an essential and inherent part of His Being. Only God is absolutely holy because only God is God.
So why does this matter?
Cant we just go about our lives, reading our Bibles, saying our prayers, paying our bills, being kind and nice and then die one day?
I mean….this is lofty theological stuff------ I just want my Christian fortune cookie message that gives me happy feelings.
Why does it matter that God is holy, and why does it matter if we know about it?
This matters, because Him being holy, means at the very minimum----- at the surface level of how all of this applies to us------ is the truth that He can be relied on.
God being “Holy” and the only one in all of reality who is “Holy” means He is the only one who can always
no matter what
no matter the situation or circumstances
be looked at for direction and support---- free from the mess in this world.
Yes we can go to our loved ones and our family when “times are tough” or we need advice or support
Yes we can go to the Preacher or the Pastor or the Priest.
We can build for ourselves circles of trust and a support system ------
We can dive into therapy and counseling -------
We can surround ourselves with everything that this world says can hold us up and keep us safe and sound------
And all of it will fail, if it doesnt bring us closer to God.
Not that counseling and family systems and therapy and support systems are bad, and relying upon them makes you weak-----thats not what im saying. dont twist my words----
Those systems have a great potential to help people in times when help is needed
Counseling helps and doesnt make you weak
Therapy helps and doesnt make you weak
Families help and having a strong family in your life is crucial
------but all of them are spawned from and exist within------ this world.
All of them are susceptible to the corruption of sin and fear and hate and lust and anger
Our families, our friends, our counselors, our Pastors, everything in this world, can and has been affected by the corruption of sin.
That is why everyone has had a negative life changing experience when it comes to family, friends, pastors and counselors.
But God is holy.
God is above this world, unaffected by it, and cannot be stained by the corruption of sin.
When our emotions run wild and control our thoughts----
When our thoughts run wild and control our emotions----
When trauma from our past kicks open the door to our present----
God stands outside of it, untouched by it-----and calls out to you that He is holy and reliable.
When our families fall apart----
When our jobs float away in the wind----
When our loved ones betray us or hurt us-----
When our livelihood is threatened and our heart cant scream loud enough to express the pain----
God reminds us that He is holy, and that these problems can’t change Him.
When nations rage----------------and plunge their citizens into fear
When disaster and disease strikes---------------and blanket us in anxiety
When everything in our life seems to fall apart around us--------
God remains holy and uninfected by the sin of this world.
God is above and beyond the problems of this world.
We can be swayed left & right by situations & circumstances -----
We can be paralyzed by fear & indecision ------
We can be controlled by the ramifications of a lifetime of our choices and the choices of others made against us -----
God is holy
Outside of the created order of reality---
Untouched by the things in this world that stain our soul----
God is holy, reliable, trustworthy, and able to be called upon in our hour of need.
Cry out to Him, and he will show you His holiness, and change your life forever.
Id like to close by reading Psalm 86. It is a beautiful chapter of Scripture, and what is written here is only possible because God is Holy.
Bend down, O Lord, and hear my prayer;
answer me, for I need your help.
2 Protect me, for I am devoted to you.
Save me, for I serve you and trust you.
You are my God.
3 Be merciful to me, O Lord,
for I am calling on you constantly.
4 Give me happiness, O Lord,
for I give myself to you.
5 O Lord, you are so good, so ready to forgive,
so full of unfailing love for all who ask for your help.
6 Listen closely to my prayer, O Lord;
hear my urgent cry.
7 I will call to you whenever I’m in trouble,
and you will answer me.
8 No pagan god is like you, O Lord.
None can do what you do!
9 All the nations you made
will come and bow before you, Lord;
they will praise your holy name.
10 For you are great and perform wonderful deeds.
You alone are God.
11 Teach me your ways, O Lord,
that I may live according to your truth!
Grant me purity of heart,
so that I may honor you.
12 With all my heart I will praise you, O Lord my God.
I will give glory to your name forever,
13 for your love for me is very great.
You have rescued me from the depths of death.
14 O God, insolent people rise up against me;
a violent gang is trying to kill me.
You mean nothing to them.
15 But you, O Lord,
are a God of compassion and mercy,
slow to get angry
and filled with unfailing love and faithfulness.
16 Look down and have mercy on me.
Give your strength to your servant;
save me, the son of your servant.
17 Send me a sign of your favor.
Then those who hate me will be put to shame,
for you, O Lord, help and comfort me
( close in prayer )