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Made for More Andrew Hopper | Mercy Hill Church Logo

Who is First? (Mark 12 + Colossians 1) - Mercy Hill

Made for More / Andrew Hopper | Mercy Hill Church
The Truth Network Radio
August 5, 2023 8:00 am

Who is First? (Mark 12 + Colossians 1) - Mercy Hill

Made for More / Andrew Hopper | Mercy Hill Church

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August 5, 2023 8:00 am

We have the privilege to hear from Pastor Ryan Britt from the Church of Eleven22 this weekend! Pastor Britt is bringing a message about God being first in our life—the question is not, “Do I put God first in my life?” The question is, “Is my life aligned with the reality that God IS first?”

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Amen, amen. It's good to see you. Mercy Hill, glad to be back.

So thankful for the Ministry of Mercy Hill, thankful for the leaders, thankful for you guys, thanks for the part you play in advancing the kingdom of God. But now, because of Andrew's introduction, we're in a bit of a pickle. The pickle is if you don't invite me back next year, then it means I didn't do a good job this time. And so now we have all these jacked up expectations of each other, and so it's going to be a tough night.

I kid, I kid. I am glad to be here. My name's Ryan. My wife's name is Jennifer. We're coming up on 17 years. We have two little girls, not as little as they once were. They're 12 and 9, and so we're heading into 7th grade and 4th grade, and so you can pray for us every day. Man, I am a huge fan of what God's doing in the triad, and I'm excited to open God's Word with us this weekend. If you are following along in the Bible, you can go to Mark chapter 12 and earmark Colossians chapter 1, as that's where the two places we're going to spend.

Most of our time. I want to talk to you tonight, this weekend, I want to talk to you about God. And you go, well, that's good, because I came to church to learn about God. But I specifically want to talk about who God is and where God is. Where He has decided to place Himself because of the reality of who He is.

A.W. Tozer, the theologian, famously said, what comes to your mind when you think about God as the most important thing about you? That this truth, hopefully truth, that you believe when you answer the question, who is God and what is He like? However you answer that question, the things that come to your mind when you think about God, that these are the most formative, identity-giving thoughts that you can have and will have throughout the course of your life, that the view that we have of God determines the trajectory of how we live our lives. In order to have a right understanding of who God is and to really dig into His character and nature and placement, we have to start with a question, which is, who are you? Who are you in light of who God is? If we're ever confused about who God is, then we will live our life confused about who we are. And sometimes we live confused about who we are and don't even realize that that's what we're doing. Who we are as created beings is the result of who God is, period. Everything belongs to God, including you and me.

And this is an identity-shaping, identity-giving truth. I grew up in a pastor's home. My dad pastored at the same church for 27 years. I have an older brother who's a senior pastor of a church near Athens, Georgia. Many family members of mine were in the ministry. My wife's father was a pastor and has been a missionary in Africa for the last 17 years. So we often joke, my brother and I'll say we were genetically engineered in the womb to do what we do.

They were shooting us up with Greek and Hebrew when we were babies, you know what I mean? And so I've grown up in and around the church, but one of the ministries that my father gave himself to over the course of his ministry was that he was a chaplain in our local police department for 25 years. And every night, not every night, but many nights a week I'll remember that my dad would get the call or his beeper. You all remember beepers?

Some of you are too young. His beeper would go off. And my dad would get dressed up and he would put on the police swag. He had the shirt and the outfit and the uniform and the jackets and the hats. They even gave him a gun and they gave him a badge. And so my dad, one of his ministries was that he would go and sit with families when they were getting some of the worst news that you could ever receive. My dad would go and knock on the door as a partner to police officers and he would share news of tragedy through the chaplain saying he did this for years and years and years and years. Funny enough, my dad pastored a very large church, but after he passed I was standing at his casket and we were doing the viewing and everybody was walking through and the thing that I heard the most about was I met your dad in the worst moment of my life. And he shared the good news of Jesus with me in that moment and I'm forever grateful.

So much so that 20, 25 years later they would show up at his funeral. So it's amazing, Christian, what happens when we just show up. Showing up is half of ministry, for sure.

Anyway, that's a different sermon. This one, my dad had all the swag. One of the pieces of swag that he had was a badge. He actually had multiple badges.

And this was like the serious badge. Like, you know, it was like had the badge on the outside and you opened it up kind of like a wallet and on the inside was the credentials. And so my dad, one time I was 16 years old and my dad left one of these badges sitting on the counter in the kitchen and I walked past it and I think, huh, that could come in handy.

And I'll go by and I don't touch it. I go by the next day and the badge is still sitting on the counter. Third day I walk past, the badge is still sitting on the counter. So I walk over to it and I open it up and there's nothing in it.

So obviously he's using a different badge. And I think to myself, you know what, I'm going to hang on to this for my dad. I'm just going to hold on to this and if he ever needs it, I will know exactly where it is. And so I take it to my car and I put in it my license and my registration and all the things that I would get asked for if I were ever pulled over. And so sure enough, a couple of weeks go by and I'm heading down the road exceeding the speeding recommendation that is so aptly posted. And sure enough, I see the blue lights and I'm like, oh man, you know, this is not good, right? And so I pull over and the police officer pulls in behind me and I got my hands on the wheel and waiting on the questions or instructions. And the officer says, son, do you know how fast you're going?

And I thought to myself, well, the question really is, do you know how fast I was going? He's like, can I see your license and registration? I'm like, yes, sir.

Can I reach into the glove box? He's like, yes, sir. And so I reach in and I pull out my father's badge.

This is the real deal badge now. And the officer sees this badge and he's like, whose badge is that? And I was like, well, it's my dad's. And he was like, who's your dad? And I was like, well, my dad's Billy Britt.

And he's like, Billy Britt's your dad? And I was like, yeah. And he was like, I love your dad. And I was like, huh, me too. I love him too. What a great guy. And he pulls it up and he sees that my last name is Britt and he closes it up and he hands it back to me. And he's like, hey, hey, I need you to slow down, but I'm going to let you go on this one. But when you see your dad telling him, I said, I tell him I said hello and I'm like, I'll do that.

Don't you worry. Right now, I got pulled over many times. It did not always go this well, that is for sure. But this one time, here's what's amazing. What happened? What happened right there is that my identity, as far as this officer was concerned, when he walked up to my car, all I was was just another punk teenager speeding. But as soon as he realized who my father was, it changed my identity. Right? See, my credentials were hidden inside of my father's identity. My credentials were inside the credit that my father had earned with this man.

Right? This, when I say who is God, he is the one who gives you an identity. And if you are a believer in Jesus Christ, your identity is that of a saint and you've been given his righteousness. That is now who you are. Your identity is no longer that you are a sinner, that you are a struggler, that you are your past. That's no longer who you are. Who you are now is a son or daughter of the Most High King. Your identity is inside your father's credentials.

Right? So knowing who God is in regards to the truth and reality of him is where identity comes from. In order to know who we are, we have to know whose we are. Who here knows that everything God does is good? This sounds great to say in church, but then all of a sudden when life gets tough, is it still true?

You bet you. Everything God does is good. The fullness of who God is and what he is about is revealed to us through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ of Nazareth. He is how we know God is good.

We know that God's goodness is not circumstantial, that it is a sovereign and historical fact. When Jesus Christ of Nazareth was asked this question, he said, a scribe walks up to him in Mark chapter 12 and asks this question. It's a profound exchange. A scribe walks up to Jesus and more or less says, what's the most important thing in the world? Let's read it, picking up in verse 34. One of the scribes come up to Jesus and heard them disputing with one another the Pharisees, and seeing that he answered them well, he asked Jesus, Jesus, which commandment is the most important thing, most important of all? Now, what he's asking right there is, of all the things that God has said, what's the most important? What are the most important words ever spoken by the most important person ever?

What are the most powerful, the most substantial, the most life-giving, the most earth-shattering words that have ever been spoken, the highest standard of language, what's that? And then Jesus, this is how Jesus answers. Jesus answered him and said, the most important is this, and he quotes Deuteronomy chapter 6, and then he tags in a line from, a verse from Leviticus.

He says this, here, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. Now, this is known as the Shema. It's the most prayed prayer in the history of the world. Right now, there are people at the Western Wall in Jerusalem, the Wailing Wall, they are praying the Shema over and over and over and over and over again.

Without question, this is the most prayed prayer in the history of the world. This word here doesn't mean, hey, use your auditory senses to pick up sound. That's not what it means when the Bible says here. When the Bible says here, it says, hey, open your eyes, open your mouth, open your life to receive the truth. Receive reality, that's what the Bible means when it says here. So when Jesus says, to him who has ears, let him hear, what he's saying is, to you who are listening, let this now change who you are.

And change comes from the inside out. So he says, here, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one, and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength. And the second is this, you shall love your neighbor as yourself.

There is no other commandment greater than these. Jesus is saying that in order for our lives to be lived, as God created it to be lived, then we need to receive a divine revelation of who God is and where God is. The Lord our God, the Lord is one.

What does that mean? What does it mean that the Lord is one? That he is whole, he is complete, he is lacking nothing. That he is fully satisfied in and of himself. That he is fully self-sufficient.

He is one. When I was growing up, one of the things that I was taught, and the spirit of it, I'm sure is fine, but it has a shadow to it. One of the things that I was taught was about the priorities of my life. These are the priorities that you should have in your life. And as I was raised, and it was like God, family, country, in that order. This is exactly how I was raised. Now, I understand what I was being taught, and I respect it and appreciate it.

It's been very formative. That said, I think what Jesus is pointing at is that God is not on our priority list. He's the one who sets our list.

Right? God is not first on our list. If God is first, he writes the list.

That's what Jesus is saying. The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Before there is anything, there is God.

That before there's an attempt at living, there is God. And when we see him rightly in that place, we catch a divine revelation of who he is, not just in priority, but in placement. He has placed himself first. He is before anything else. God is first. He cannot and will not do second. It's just against his nature.

He can't do it, and he won't do it. The question is not, do I put God first in my life? The question is, is my life aligned with the reality that he is first? Does my time reflect that God is first? Does my spending reflect that God is first? Do my words reflect the firstness of God? God is first.

It's just who he is. Colossians chapter 1 says it like this, verse 5, specifically talking about God the Son, who is Jesus Christ. He says he is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities, all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things. And in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church. Me and you and anyone who believes in Jesus. He is the beginning.

Do you hear all the first language? He is the beginning, the firstborn from among the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross. He is first. We don't put God first.

He is first. And we either order our lives around his firstness or our lives are out of order. Now, God in his preeminence, Christ in his preeminence and his sovereign rule over everything, the good news is that God is for his people. God doesn't want anything from his people. He only wants things for his people.

Have you ever thought about this? We use the word like I'm going to give my time to God. What are we going to give to God? What do you give to somebody who has everything?

Right? Well, I'm going to give God my what? Do I give him anything or do I bring back to him what he has given to me? God is first. And this God who is first, he is for us. And he has invited us in to the reality of the story that he's telling across human history. And that story, while he is for us, is not about us. Who is at the center of the universe in our worldview pretty much determines everything about our lives.

Oftentimes, we operate with a wrong or a weakened view of God. We think about even Jesus as maybe he's like a weakened Galilean peasant who took a beating one time in history and got nailed to a cross by some Romans. And the truth is, Jesus did take a beating. There's no doubt about it. And he did die on the cross. There's no doubt about it. It was brutal.

It was awful. But did you know that today Jesus is no longer hanging on the cross that he is alive and he's the King of Kings and Lord of Lords? Right? He's not dead anymore. He's alive. And he's not weak-kneed. He's not looking for friends on Instagram.

He's not trying to win a popularity contest. He is the sovereign ruler of all things. And he, as according to Colossians 1, holds everything together, including every detail of our lives. That it's all under his rule and reign because he is first. And because he is first, he acts out of his nature. And because God is first, God loved first. God did not create you and me because he needed anything.

Right? He didn't need to be worshiped. He's totally fine. He's God.

He didn't need people to do his work for him. No, God created us out of an overflow of his love. God, let me ask you this, does God the Father love God the Son who is Jesus? Oh, man, you betcha.

You betcha. They are in God the Spirit. They're wildly in love with each other. They're so filled on each love and out of an overflow of this love God has for God's self, he created man and woman in his image so that he could share his love with them in the same way that he's experienced his love for all of eternity. That God created us to experience him as a loving father and to be loved by him in the way that he loves himself. 1 John chapter 4 verse 10 says this, in this is love. Not that we have loved God, but that he loved us and sent his son to be the propitiation for our sins. God loved us first. Before we ever even thought about God, his love was already set on us. Before we had any intention in the direction of God, his love was calling to us. Before we ever opened our mouth and confessed to Jesus Christ as Lord, before we ever even thought about it as possible, God loved us. Before the foundations of the world, God loved us.

God loved first. 1 John uses this word, says Jesus is the propitiation for our sins. That means that he is the payment that's satisfied.

Look at your neighbor and say payment that satisfies. Right. You should talk often in church about words like propitiation. If you can order a caramel macchiato, you can learn words like propitiation. You know what I'm saying?

So propitiation means payment that's satisfied. Listen, son and daughter of the Most High King, this is an important word. Will God the Father, could he ever be dissatisfied with God the Son, who is Jesus Christ? Never.

Never. Jesus has paid the payment in full. He is the payment that satisfies the demand for sin. He paid it all in full, full price.

Right. So now God places us in Christ in this cosmic move of mercy. He reaches down through time and space. He grabs our hearts and we confess Jesus Christ as our Lord. And then this interchange of grace and faith adopts us into the family of God. Jesus is the propitiation, the payment that's satisfied. So if God can never be dissatisfied, if the Father can never be dissatisfied in the Son, that means that he will never be dissatisfied with me because I am now in the Son and I am robed in his righteousness.

Right. This is the imputed or credited righteousness of Jesus Christ. Isn't that good news that God's not grumpy? Isn't that good news? Do you live like that's true?

If God's not upset, what are we so upset about all the time? A few years ago, my family got the chance to go to Montana. We had some friends who had a place out there and they invited us up. And so we go, they live pretty close to Glacier National Park.

And so we're like, oh, man, this is it. We're going to go and hike around the park. And the first time we go and visit the park, we notice that there's this river that runs right through the park and we see these rafts going down the river. And we think, oh, man, how cool would that be to go whitewater rafting in Glacier National Park?

And so we did. So you go to the outfitter and they give you a helmet and they give you a paddle and they give you your life vest and then you ride on a bus ride and then you take the raft near the water's edge right before you get in and you sit it down. And when you sit it down, they teach you how to do it. They're like, hey, put your hand on top of the paddle so that you don't knock anybody's teeth out.

And, hey, when we're coming to rough water, especially when we come to rough water, make sure that you've got your feet locked in to the raft, that you've got some kind of leverage so that you don't fall out. And they go through all the instructions and they ask you like 10 times, do you understand? Do you know what we mean?

You know, like, yes, yes, yes, yes. And so me and my family, my little girls are like, yeah, we understand. Yeah, we understand. And so we get on the river. So we're cruising down the river.

And I brought some pictures, mostly because I just like showing my family off. But we're cruising down the river and we're just having the best time, right? Look at the little girl's face in the back right. That's my youngest, that's my oldest daughter.

She has an arrow above her head. Look how happy she is, right? The water's cold, but we're having a blast surrounded by the Rocky Mountains. It's beautiful. Everything's going great.

Everybody's doing the things that they're supposed to do, right? And then all of a sudden we hit some rough water and we head into what is the highest class rapid. And right when we get to the bottom of that thing, the guide took us a little off the normal path and we hit the bottom of this hole in the river. And it was like getting in a car crash.

And you can see in this picture, this is our guide is not doing that for fun. She's being thrown from the back of the raft into the front of the raft. And right after this, my little girl, she didn't have her feet locked in. And she tips over backwards into the water. And she gets sucked underneath. We're in fast moving water. She gets sucked underneath the raft and her little head is just hitting underneath the raft.

Now this all happens in about 10 seconds or less, not even like five seconds. I gather myself and I look around and I'm like, where's Anna Catherine? And my wife's like, I think she's here. And I was like, I don't see her. Where's my daughter? And then my wife's like, she's not in the boat. And so immediately I go to jump in the water, right? I don't even know where she is, but I don't care. My little girl's in the water, right? I'm going to die for that girl without even thinking about it.

No question. So I'm going in the water. And as I go to jump in the water, the man who's sitting across from me, he grabs my life vest and he pulls him back and he's like, she's here, she's here. And she had come all the way underneath the boat and she was hanging onto the rope on the front, just looking at me saying, daddy, daddy, daddy, daddy, help me. And so I pick her up. Look at her face. I pick her up. This happened to happen at the place where they have somebody on the rock taking pictures.

You know what I mean? Like, we're just lucky that I have these photos. So I pull her in and I pull her close to my chest and she's shivering.

It's called Glacier National Park for a reason. The water's freezing. I pull her in and I love her and I'm like, are you okay? Do you have all your fingers? Do you have all your toes?

She's like, yeah, I'm just cold. Do you know what I didn't do in that moment? I didn't sit on the front of the boat and be like, what's wrong with you? Can't you listen? How many times do they have to tell you to keep your feet locked in?

They showed you exactly what to do. You couldn't do it? You don't understand English? I didn't lecture my child.

Why? Because my daughter was in serious trouble and all of a sudden here she was in my arms. I love that little girl. The last thing I was going to do was to condemn her.

What I wanted her to know was that she was safe and she was with her father. God is not upset with us. He loves us. Jesus is not just God's posture toward us. He is God's tone of voice with us. Jesus is not just God's posture toward us. He is God's tone of voice toward us. You are God's beloved. In 20 years of pastoring, one of the reasons that I found that people struggle to grow spiritually is that they have a wrong view of God.

They just don't think about Him as a loving Father who is first, who loved first, and who is lavishing His love on them. 1 John 3, verse 2 says this, Beloved. I love that word. Beloved. Be loved. Do you know what your highest calling in life is as a Christian? To be loved by God. That's the most important thing about you is that you believe and receive that God loves you.

You are His beloved. Often we ask questions like, who am I and what's my purpose? But what if who you are is your purpose? And your highest call in life is to receive the love of God for you. Beloved, we are God's children now and what we will be has not yet appeared, but we know that when He appears we shall be like Him because we shall see Him as He is. He loves you, church.

He really does. God is first. God loved first. And because of who He is and where He is, God gave first. John chapter 3 says, For God so loved the world, He gave. His only Son, that whoever would believe in Him would not perish but have everlasting life. Do you have any idea how radically generous God is? Have you really thought about what it means that Jesus Christ, the second person of the Trinity, came on a rescue mission to earth for you? Have you really thought about the weight of the generosity of God in our direction?

It says this in Ephesians chapter 1, it says that in Him, Jesus, we have redemption through His blood. The forgiveness of our trespasses according to the riches of His grace, which He lavished. The best image I can give you is that when my little kids were little and it was bath time and we would fill the bath up with bubbles. When you would walk into the bathroom, the bubbles would not be in the tub. They would be everywhere, that they would lavish bubbles all over the place. They are covered head to toe in bubbles.

The walls are covered, the floors covered, everything's covered. They have lavished bubbles all over the place. God did not just give you His love. He is lavishing it on us through Jesus Christ.

It is more than we could ever need and it never runs out. He has lavished His love on us. In all wisdom and insight, He made known to us the mystery of His will according to His kind intention, which He purposed in Him. When the Puritans used to preach the gospel and somebody would respond to the good news of Jesus Christ, they would surrender their life to the lordship of Jesus and believe and confess the gospel. They would say that this person has now been seized by the power of a great affection. They would say they have been seized by the power of a great affection.

Have you been seized by the power of God's great affection for you? So how does this play out throughout our lives? What does it mean for us that God is first, that God loved first, and that God gave first? Well, a life aligned around the firstness of God is lived in response to these realities. We're not trying to get God's love because we have God's love, we respond to it. We're not trying to put God first because God is first, we're responding to it. So we respond to the reality of God and His goodness by bringing Him our first and best.

What does this mean? Trusting God is not passive, it is active. Timing in our lives and priority often reveal who and what is first. Trusting God is not passive, it's active.

So what does this play out? Practical ways we bring God our first and best. Well, let's talk about worship. Does God get our first and best during the week?

Do you know this is why church is on Sundays? It's actually the playing out of the theology of first. What is first in our week? Does God get our first in timing and in priority? Does God get the first part of our day? What do you go to first when you wake up? Do you go to your phone?

You ever think about that? Something's always trying to hijack your first. What's coming first? Is prayer the first place you go or is it a last resort?

Who's the first person you give thanks to when there's thanks to be given? But I'm going to get right down to the heart of it tonight and then I'm going to close. How has this played out in my life and is shaped?

It comes down to this. In Matthew chapter 6, Jesus says this, Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. I learned that verse backward. You ever learn a Bible verse backward?

The good news is you're probably not a preacher. And so if you say it wrong, it's like you can learn later. I've said it wrong while preaching.

And so God help me. I used to think that that verse said where your heart is, your treasure will be. But that's not what Jesus says. He actually says where your treasure is, there your heart will be. That something goes first and it's not your feelings. He says it's your treasure. Right here in Matthew chapter 6, what Jesus is asking is, does God get our first and best in regards to our spending?

And you're like, man, this feels like it turned hard right, right here at the end. It's like, you're really going to close talking about money? Well, here's why.

Here's why I'm going to do it. It's because Jesus says that there is a number one competitor for the human heart. And it is money. It is the number one competitor for the human heart.

It is the number one idol, especially in the culture that we live in. It is the number one place where people have the hardest time trusting God. Jesus says where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. He also says that you cannot both serve God and mammon.

And he actually means money. He said that when God says you can't serve God and mammon, he could have put anything here. You can't serve God and busyness. You can't serve God and your family.

You can't serve God and yourself. He could have said anything he wanted to, but he chose money as the number one way to identify what's first in our lives. So the question is, do we bring him back our first and our best?

Where our money goes, that's where our heart is. The question is not, is God on our list? The question is, did God write the list?

Is he the paper on which the list is written? Gospel-centered generosity is a direct reflection of our understanding of who God is and what he has done. If God is radically generous, then so shouldn't his people be? We started with this quote. The most important thing about you is what you think about when you think about God. Faithful bringing, time, faithful bringing, talent, faithful bringing, treasure.

These things are all a response to the reality and the invitation of who God is and where God is. God gave us his first and best through Jesus Christ. The question we ask ourselves over and over and over again as followers of Jesus is, are we bringing our first and our best back to God? The Westminster Catechism says this, and I'll close with it. It says that the chief end of man, the primary point of being alive, the chief end of man is to glorify God by enjoying him forever. Let me ask you, church, are you enjoying God in your life?

You say, well, how do I do that? Well, if you see him clearly as who he is and you see him rightly for where he is, which is first and first, and we respond to that, how do we enjoy God? We trust him. You trust him. Brennan Manning says that trust is our gift back to God and that God finds it so enchanting that Jesus died for the love of it. That God is so wild about your trust that he sent Jesus to die to secure it for himself.

Think about that. How do we enjoy God? We trust him. In every part of our life, something has to go first. We are trusting something first.

The question is, are we trusting God first? Let me pray for us. Father, we love you. We praise you.

We glorify you. I pray that you would give us a clearer vision, a clearer understanding of who you are and what you've done for us. Father, we pray that you would remind us now of your love for us. You would remind us now of your gospel and the good news. And as we respond, that you would lead us to respond in prayer. And God, that you would lead us to respond in confession and you would lead us to respond in conviction. And that you would comfort us, Holy Spirit, as only you can. Father, we pray that you would help us to see you rightly so that we can respond to you rightly and that that response would produce joy overflowing in our lives. We love you. In Jesus' name, Amen.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-08-05 14:12:04 / 2023-08-05 14:26:26 / 14

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