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Towers of Dissapointment

Summit Life / J.D. Greear
The Truth Network Radio
February 21, 2016 5:00 am

Towers of Dissapointment

Summit Life / J.D. Greear

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Welcome Summit Church at all of our campus locations in the triangle. I wanted to, I was not here last week. And so I know many of you came eagerly last week, waiting to hear what I had to say about the Panthers loss in the Super Bowl. Since I made such a bold prediction about it, and even wore a jersey on the day that they were playing. A few of you have said that you think it indicates some kind of lack of prophetic ability when it comes to sports.

I think that's mean spirited for you to say. I think that while the Lord revealed to me, why the Panthers loss is because even though I wore a jersey, after every sermon point, good sermon point that I made, I did not run out into the audience and give my Bible to a little kid. So it was a failure to go all in on my part. So let that be a lesson to you about the need to go all in on everything, but I take responsibility for it.

And I apologize. Now that I have that out of the way, we are back in our series called the whole story in which we are working our way through the whole Bible in the course of a year. Last week, our church planting residents took us through the life of Abraham, which is what I'd asked them to do. But the snow kind of threw us back a week, and so they had to skip something that I think is really important in the plot line of the Bible. And so we're going to go backwards to Genesis 11 and pick up that story that we had to skip over last week. So if you have a Bible, and I hope that you do, I hope that you will open it to Genesis 11. If you don't have a Bible, I mean, I don't want to make you feel self conscious, but never come back to church here again.

No, I'm kidding. I'm saying if you have something to hear in front of you, so if you have one, bring it. If you'd like one, go to the first time guest tent and just demand that somebody there give you one.

They'll have one, they'll give you. All right, let me just start by asking you as you're opening in your Bible. Let me start by asking you, how many of you speak another language besides English? Raise your hand. Okay.

With some proficiency. All right. How many of you speak two or more languages besides English with some level of proficiency? I know you feel proud. Go ahead.

I'm giving you permission to brag. Three or more besides English. Anybody put their hand up. All right, I see one or two. How about four or more languages besides English?

Anybody? Four or more language. I know that our Chapel Hill campus and our downtown Durham campuses, we have sometimes people who speak five languages or more. When I got my PhD, I had to be reading proficient in four research languages, Greek, Hebrew, German, and Latin.

Do not be too impressed by that. Because if you put sentences in all four languages now in front of me, I could probably identify which language was which, but that is about the extent of what I remember. The only language that I really know besides English is Indonesian, and that has gotten pretty rusty over the years. I lived in Indonesia for two years. I think I've told you before that I had right next to zero language training before they dropped me off in a place where I was 100 miles from the nearest English speaker. When I landed there, I had two afternoons. I kid you not of language training. Those two afternoons meant that I could say, hi, my name is JD. Where's your bathroom?

My house is on fire. That was the extent of my knowledge of the language. I'm still working on English. The kids taught me the language, which was great because the kids were so patient, and they didn't make fun of me a lot. But it also meant that I made a lot of mistakes because the kids did not give me vocabulary quizzes, and I would just hear words and try to.

I had a brash unwarranted confidence with which I do everything in life. So it led to situations, for example, like I was in a restaurant, and I'd sneeze four times, and I was starting to make a mess, and so I needed a Kleenex. I didn't know the word for Kleenex in Indonesian. That's a rather technical word if you ask me. So I did know the word for sneeze, and so I said to the waitress, who was probably 20, 25 feet away from me, excuse me, I need to sneeze.

It's not good in any culture to yell at a waitress that across the restaurant, but it is especially not good in a Muslim context when you are an American. My daughter, by the way, in the first service, leaned over and said, what does fornicate mean? She's 10 years old. It's just a funny word for sneeze.

That's what my wife told her. So a few kids in here, that's what it means. All that kind of confusion, all that frustration, all that humor goes back to Genesis 11. According to the Bible, the multiplicity of languages was God's response to one of mankind's most spectacularly sinful displays.

It's an event that occurred relatively early in recorded human history on the plains of Shinar, or modern-day Iraq. It was the building of the Tower of Babel. Now, on the surface, when you read Genesis 11, it doesn't look like they've done anything horrifically evil.

They just built a tower. What's wrong with that? But it's going to give you a glimpse into the root causes of sin, and it's going to show you what makes sin sinful. It's going to show you why sin has such power over you. You ever wonder that, by the way?

Why is it that sin seems to control you so much that even when you decide you don't want to do it anymore, it's like you can't stop doing it? This story will give you some of the answers to that question. I'm going to use my friend Matt Carter's title here and call this story Towers of Disappointment, because that's exactly what these towers are. They're towers of disappointment. Have you ever felt like life was disappointing? In any way.

Maybe it's your marriage that's been disappointing, or maybe it's your job, or this stage of life that you're in, retirement, you thought was going to look different. I think you'll find an explanation for why that is in this story. I hope you'll see that what God was doing here at the Tower of Babel, He continues to do today in your life, which is one of the reasons why Genesis 11 is in the Bible. Genesis 11, verse 1.

Let me walk you through it here. Now, the whole earth had one language at the time, and the same words. And as people migrated from the east, they found a plane in the land of Shinar, again, modern day Iraq, and they settled there. And they said to one another, Come, let us build ourselves, the underlying stuff in your Bible, this will be good to highlight, a city and a tower with its top in the heavens, and let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be dispersed over the face of the whole earth.

Now, two comments I want to make here. First, the fact that they wanted to stay put in this one area, and not go anywhere, is itself, I'm telling you, English, is itself an act of disobedience. God had commanded them three times in Genesis to be fruitful and multiply all over the earth for His glory. I read that, and I think, who would not want to obey that? Be fruitful and multiply sounds like have sex and travel.

It sounds like an awesome plan to me. But here's a little throwaway lesson for you. God always pushes His people to look outward, to multiply towards sending and giving and generosity. Sinful man always looks inward toward gathering and building for His security and for His glory. That's kind of a throwaway lesson. Here's the more important lesson. Second thing, all right, what is it specifically that they want?

Well, those are those three things I had you highlight in your Bible. They want a city. Think of a city as a home or a place to belong. They want a tower whose top reaches to the heavens. They want significance. They want to do something that matters. They want some level of permanence in their lives, like they're doing something that is going to endure.

A great name. They want to be connected to greatness. These are the three desires that they have. Now, if you've read the book of Genesis up to this point, you know that, ironically, God had given them all those things in the Garden of Eden.

A city. God was to be their home. It was in fellowship with Him as where we got our sense of belonging.

A tower. We got our significance from doing His will. We were sons and daughters. We were servants and emissaries of the King of Kings.

A great name. The greatness we sought was supposed to come from being connected to God. But now mankind has rejected God, and so, having rejected God, they feel this void, this vacuum where they're created for these things that they don't have them.

It's kind of like I showed you a couple weeks ago. The first emotion that man felt after having sinned, after the sensation, the thrilling sensation of tasting that forbidden fruit, the first sensation that the thought after that was a sense of shame over their nakedness. Now, I told you, you know, the irony is they were naked before they sinned, but their nakedness didn't bother them.

Why not? Well, it's because they felt clothed in the love and the acceptance of God. But now, having stripped themselves of that love and acceptance, their heart has this gigantic vacuum in it, and so they begin to reach out for other things to replace what God had once played in their heart. Sin is an attempt to find in something or someone else something that you should have found in God.

That's what sin is. That's why it says that this tower reached up toward the heavens. They're trying to get back what they'd once had in God. They're going to call this tower Babel, Babel which means literally the gate of God. So there's your first point if you're writing things down. Number one, sin attempts to build towers to heaven.

Sin attempts, it begins as an attempt to build a tower to heaven. Their desires for belonging, for security, for greatness, those desires aren't not wrong. It's where they're choosing to look for them is where it's wrong. Now, here we are several thousand years later.

People haven't changed that much. We still desire these same things, do we not? We want a city.

We want a place that we really feel safe. We want a group that we really feel like we belong to where we're cherished and loved and respected. Isn't that why family is so important to many of us? Or maybe it's why you want so badly to be accepted by the right group at your school. Maybe it's with this particular group of kids at lunch or maybe it's having the right people praise you, your coaches, your teachers, the cool kids. Maybe it's your peers in your career. You really want their respect. Maybe it's the academic community whose respect that you want because you want to belong. You want to be accepted.

You want a city. We want security. We want something that guarantees our safety. Isn't that why insurance is a trillion dollar industry in our country? Now, I'm not saying there's anything wrong with insurance.

I have it, of course. But sometimes you get the idea that people are looking to insurance to remove any possible danger from their lives. I saw a while back that for $118 a year, $118 a year, you can get alien insurance. That's not a joke.

You can look it up. $118 a year, if you get abducted by aliens, then your family gets $500,000. Which, if you're going to be abducted by aliens, at least, you know, it's not a total loss. If you get eaten by aliens, they get, and you can prove that, you get $3 million. Now, if you have alien insurance, I'm not trying to offend you, more power to you. But you get the idea that we're trying to say, through insurance, I can be totally secure.

Nothing bad can ever happen to me. We want security. We want our lives to matter. It's why some people stress out so much over their careers or the lack of progress in their career.

It's why men, when they get close to 50 years old, will unbutton their shirt down to their navel and drive red BMWs and gross us all out. It's because I really want my life to matter. I want to make a difference in life, and I feel like I'm not doing it. We want to be connected to greatness. We want to be connected.

I don't care who you are. That's why you name drop whenever you've met somebody famous or you're in the same room with somebody famous. Right? I mean, you're the same way. You're in the room with somebody famous.

You can get close. You're going to put that picture up. I see other Christian leaders tweet out things like, you know, had lunch today with Billy Graham, hashtag humbled by this. I'm like, the irony is you're not humbled by it at all.

You're exalted by it. That's why you tweet about it. I don't tweet things that really humble me. Forgot to do my quiet time again this morning, hashtag humbled by this.

Doctor told me I still need to lose eight pounds, hashtag humbled by this. I don't do that. Right?

That would be appropriate. I'll give you one from my own life just to show you. Recently a friend sent me this picture. You see this? That's Jeb Bush, former presidential candidate. That's me photobombing Jeb Bush.

See that right there? Listen to me. How long do you think it took from the time that landed on my phone to the time I tweeted it out for the entire world to see? Seconds is how long it took because I want to be connected to greatness. I want to be important. Now, there's nothing wrong with the desires for security and for belonging and significance and greatness.

It's where we chose to look for them primarily that became wrong. There was this yearning I experienced when I was a kid. I did not know how to articulate it then, but I yearn for something that I tasted in the security of my parents' home and that I tasted in the affections of their love for me. It was why I was terrified at the thought of them dying or the thought that somehow I'd be taken away from them. I feel this kind of yearning again in my desire to meet that special.

Somebody who would just think the world of me and would make me the center of their world, not be the center of or that would make them the center of mine. I sometimes experience that yearning in the adventure of foreign travel. You guys know that foreign travel is never as good as the excitement and anticipation leading up to it. Sometimes I feel that yearning when I'm at a church service and then we'll just be in here and they'll just be the worship and I'll just feel this yearning for something like I'm not quite there yet, like I'm not home or when I see the sunset over the seemingly endless horizon of the beach. These experiences are all great.

They're like my favorite things in life, but it's like they're calling out to me, reaching something beyond them that I'm just yearning for. As usual, C.S. Lewis says it much better than me and you can make an argument that 90% of my sermons are rephrasing of what C.S. Lewis has said somewhere. Here it is. Here's what he said. Look at this.

The books of the music in which we thought the beauty was located will betray us if we trust in them. It was never in them. It was never in them. It only came through them.

You understand? That's a huge distinction. The beauty that we yearn for was never in the romance. It was never in the art.

It was never in the sunset. It just came through it and what came through them was longing these things, the beauty, the memory of our own past, that cherished memory we have with our parents or one of our parents are good images of what we really desire, but if they are mistaken for the thing itself, they turn into dumb idols. Idol means replacement for God. Dumb means it can't even speak, breaking the hearts of their worshippers, for they are not the thing itself. They're only the scent of a flower we've not found yet. They're the echo of a tune we've never heard.

They're news from a country we've never yet visited. Lewis said that when you experience the blessing of something like romance or he even said good food, he said it's like a ray of sunshine that's warming your face and you feel the warmth and you sense the light and you look back up along the ray to the sun from which it emanates. He said all these things that you love in life are messages to you of a God from whom they emanate.

They're like rays of the sun. He said marriage is the ray. God's love is the ocean. A good marriage, that is the stream. God's love is the fountain. A good marriage is a drop. God's love is the ocean.

A good marriage is the shadow. God's love is the substance. I'm telling you, it would absolutely revolutionize your life if you realize that every tower you've ever built in your life whether your career or the romance or your self-image was an attempt to regain something that God had designed to give you in himself. I recently read that even pornography is driven by this desire to take beauty into ourselves. Yes, it's just lust but it's more than that. I want to possess beauty.

I want to possess it and so there are people who turn to that as a way to possess it. It's why G.K. Chesterton, the British philosopher that had a big influence on Lewis said, even the man who knocks at the door of the brothel, the man who knocks on the prostitute's door is really in search of God. Sin attempts to build towers to heaven.

That's number one. Let's keep moving, verse five. So the Lord came down to see the city and the tower which the children of men have built. By the way, that's a play on words in Hebrew because came down, you know, they're trying to build a tower up.

Came down is a very condescending kind of like, it's very like a, it's like a diminutive term. So it's like the Lord is saying, oh, they're trying to build a tower to heaven. Let's go to heaven.

Let's go down and see what the little gerbils are up to. So he came way down to see what the children of men have built, verse six. And the Lord said, behold, they're one people and they all have one language and this is only the beginning of what they will do and nothing that they propose to do now will be impossible for them. What he's saying is from this, from this heart that is expressed in the building of this tower is going to come every kind of corruption, every kind of wickedness, every kind of evil is going to grow out of this.

So there's your second point there. Number two, sin's root. All sins, the root is by my will and my strength for my glory. Sin's root is by my will and my strength for my glory. And again, what they're looking for, security, significance and greatness is not wrong. It's just that they were supposed to get those things through depending on God. But now instead of depending on God for these things, they want to do it for themselves in their own way, by their own strength. And so they get the glory.

Let us build a tower for ourselves for the glory of our name. And it is from that attitude that all sinful corruptions are going to emanate. I often teach my kids that they can understand sin just by looking at the very simple way that it's spelled in English. S-I-N, right? Very simple.

The middle letter is I. It's because I do what I want to do instead of what God wants me to do. I want to do it in my strength instead of God's strength. I want to do it so I get the glory and the attention and not God.

It's the heart of pride behind the act. That's why God says this tower is going to become the source of immeasurable amounts of sin. Babylon, as it will later be translated in Scripture, is going to become the symbol in both the Old and New Testament for the epitome of man's wickedness. Babylon is the name of the capital city of Israel's fiercest enemy that destroys Jerusalem and takes them captive. In the book of Revelation, at the end of the New Testament, Babylon, going into the battle of Armageddon, is going to be the symbol of man's unity. And after the battle is over, the angel stands up and says, fallen, fallen is Babylon, or Babel, same word, the great. She's become a dwelling place for demons, for all the nations have drunk the wine of the passion of her sexual immorality. Now, in Genesis 11, there's nothing about demons or sexual immorality, but these are things, these are demon-influenced things, violence, oppression, sexual immorality are all fruits of sin. But it's this heart of pride that is the root of sin that goes back to Genesis 11. You tracking with me here? Listen, I know Revelation can be a wickedly confusing book.

And some of you tried to read it before and you got lost in all the locusts and the bowls of blood. I'm a professional, which means I can take you in safely and out so that you don't get left behind. Okay, that's what I do. I'm built by God.

Okay? So, so, um, the heart behind all sin goes back to this posture of pride. By the way, Satan himself. How did Satan become Satan? Is he a Ouija board? Is that what it was?

No. Here's how Satan became Satan. Isaiah tells you, good question. You said in your heart, I will ascend to heaven.

Talking about Satan. Above the stars of God, I'll set my throne on high. I'll set on the mount of the assembly and the far reaches of the north. I will ascend above the heights of the clouds.

Like the most high. Now, what phrase you hear repeated over and over and over again throughout there? I will. Satan didn't become Satan because he, you know, chopped up baby puppy angels and, you know, drink their blood. Satan became Satan because he said, I want to do it by my will in my strength for my glory. So let me just ask you for a minute. What's in the core of your heart? I'm not asking if you're religious. I'm not asking if you're moral.

That's what people always go to. And it's totally the wrong question because it is possible to be very religious and to be very moral and have a heart that is dominated by by my will and my strength and for my glory. It is possible for you to get really good grades. To get really good grades, but do it by your will and your strength and for your glory. And by the way, the straight A student who is very moral, who is doing it by his will and his strength and for his glory is closer to the heart of Satan.

And the guy that's knocking on the door of the prostitute. It is very possible for you to build a business, a good business, an equitable and fair business in your strength by your will for your glory. It's very possible to be religious in your strength by your will for your own glory. You want to know how you can know that you're dominated by that heart of I will and pride?

C.S. Lewis said that there is one telltale sign for how you can know that there is one litmus test that will every single time tell you that you walk in pride. You want to know what it is? Jealousy toward others. Because you're always comparing your tower to their tower.

Pride is, Lewis says, in its very essence, competitive. That's why he said proud people can never get along. You ever notice that people with other sins and vices like to hang around people who do the same sins? Drunks like to hang out together. Immoral people like to get together and swap stories.

Drug addicts like to hang out together. People who are proud, Lewis says, always hate each other. Because their pride is always in conflict with somebody else's pride. To pride, it does not matter that I'm smart, only that I'm smarter than you. It does not matter if I'm athletic or good looking. It only matters that I'm more athletic and better looking and richer than you are.

C.S. Lewis says the quickest way to tell that you have pride is that somebody else's pride bothers you. Because pride is always in competition. That's why their pride takes you off. It irks you when that person, that other person, gets the good grade or they get the new car or their kid goes to school on scholarship because oh, now you know that they just think they're something. And everybody else thinks they're something and the fact that they think they're something means they're not thinking that you're something. And you really want to be something but the fact that they're something means you're less of something and they've taken their somethingness away from you and that takes you off.

Right? You may not articulate it that way but that's essentially what's going on in your heart. Is that I really want it to be by my will, in my strength, for my glory. To get at really what's going on in your heart, do not ask how moral you are or how religious you are.

That's completely the wrong question. Whose will are you living by? Yours or God's? Whose strength do you attempt to meet each day with? Do you attempt to meet each day with your strength or God's strength? Whose glory are you more concerned about? Is it your glory or God's? When I was in Sunday school I was taught it this way. In every heart there's a throne and a cross. Jesus is going to have to be on the cross but if Jesus is going to be on the throne, you're going to be on the cross. In your heart there's only one person that's calling the shots, there's only one person whose strength is making it happen and only one person whose glory is being pursued and it's either yours or Jesus' which is it.

Let's keep moving, let's keep reading. Verse 7, come let us go down and confuse their language so they may not understand one another's speech. I mean imagine when this happened, what chaos? Their words all changed their meanings so verse 8, the Lord dispersed them from there over the face of all the earth and they left off building the city. Number 3, sin leaves rotting towers of disappointment in your life. It's interesting to me that God does not tear down their tower. That's what I would have done, I'd torn it down but God leaves it there decaying, falling apart, rotting as a message.

He could have let mankind go on with this, they never would have built it to heaven but he doesn't. God frustrates their attempts to try and wake them up. Now let me ask you a question, this deal here where he scatters them and leaves their towers to decay, is that judgment or is that mercy?

Both. It's judgment but it's an ounce of judgment with a pound of mercy because what God is doing is trying to wake them up before they make decisions that they can never come back from and that are eternally too late. Understand that every judgment before the ultimate judgment is actually mercy because what God is trying to do is wake you up off of a path to get you to come back from it before you can't. That would change how you saw a lot of what happened in your life if you started to see that the towers of disappointment in your life were left there by God as monuments to tell you don't go down that path. The broken towers that God has left, where have you really tasted disappointment? Was it in a broken relationship, maybe a failed marriage? Is it in drug addiction? Maybe it's some kind of humiliation you've gone through recently, a lost job?

Maybe you got caught cheating and you got kicked out of school? Again, an absolutely revolutionary thought. What if you learn to think about the disappointments in your life, the broken towers, not as God's harsh judgment on you but as God's mercy towards you? Say, you can't pursue that. It will only disappoint.

I'm the only one that satisfies you. Recently or a few months ago when that Ashley Madison scandal broke, you remember that thing? Ashley Madison was the website where facilitated adulterous relationships. When the leak came out and all these email addresses got exposed, there were a number of Christian leaders who got exposed in that kind of thing.

It was very disturbing and tragic. There was one nationally known Christian leader whose email address was part of the database. I read a magazine article where he said, I signed up for the website in a moment of weakness. It was a dark time in my life, but I never acted on it. I just signed up and had the account.

I never even filled out the profile. He said, so I never pursued a relationship. He said, and when these addresses came out, he said, I looked at that like God was harshly judging me for my sin because the board came to me and said, you can't be the leader of this ministry since he said, I thought it was the harsh judgment of God. He said, but I'll tell you what, in the last couple of months, I've come to see that it was actually the sweet mercy of God toward me because if I had gotten away from it, I would have just glossed over it and I would have never have, I may not have pursued the relationship, but I would have never dealt with this dark place in my heart that actually made me sign up for the account to begin with. And God cared about me so much that he was willing to publicly expose me so that he could deal with this part of my heart that had not learned to depend on and trust him in.

What if you started to look at some of these humiliating broken towers in your life as God's message to you that you don't want to go down that path? I'm trying to, I'm not trying to pay you back. I'm trying to bring you back.

I'm trying to wake you up. Tim Keller says that when you face the inevitable disappointment of a broken tower or his word, he would say an idol. Whenever you face the inevitable disappointment of an idol, he says, you'll have one of four reactions.

I think these are so accurate. When you face one of these disappointed broken towers, he said, number one, you blame the idol itself. Oh, I chose the wrong thing. Next time I'll make a better choice. We were so young when we got married. We didn't know what we were doing.

We were naive and stupid. That's why we chose the wrong person. And that's why we're so unhappy. So we're going to get divorced. But now we're older and we're wiser. And this time I'll choose better because I know that out there, there's a soulmate who is just going to fit me perfectly and going to make all my romantic dreams come true.

Sure. That's right. She's standing right over there next to the unicorn and a pot of gold at the end of that rainbow.

That's where you should look for her. You can blame the idol itself. And just think, I got to choose better. He said, the second option is you can blame yourself. That's what a lot of people do. A lot of people go, well, I'm the problem. I didn't work hard enough.

I'll do better next time. So you turn over a new leaf. That doesn't work either, does it? Does it New Year's resolutions, people?

Does it? The death stays clean for two days and then you turn back to the same disorganized jerk you always were, right? Whatever made you fail the first time ends up reappearing. With every failure you go through, you feel more like giving up. So option number three, blame the idol, blame yourself. Option number three is you blame the world.

You blame the world. You just give up on being happy. You become a mean, cynical, old person who mocks all those naive young people. Or you just get numb. You get numb to it all and you medicate through whether it's alcohol or drugs or shopping or some hobby that you consume yourself with men. Or you get angry and depressed and write alternative music lyrics.

I don't know what it is. Or you just quit the world altogether. You can blame yourself.

You can blame the idol, blame yourself, blame the world. So the fourth option is you can realize you were created for a different world. That's the right option. Again, C.S. Lewis, if I find in myself a desire which nothing on earth can satisfy, the only possible explanation is that I must have been created for another world. You want to be safe. You want to belong. You want to have a home. You want beauty and significance. You want to be connected to greatness.

There's nothing wrong with those desires. It's where you're looking for them. It's what's wrong. These things are all in God. You know when I sat down, when I rise up, you discern my thoughts from afar, you searched out my path, my lying down, you're acquainted with all my ways. Even before a word forms on my tongue, behold, O Lord, you know it altogether.

You hem me in behind and before. You lay your hand upon me. Such knowledge seems too wonderful for me.

It's so high I feel like I can't attain it. Where can I go from your spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I ascended into heaven, you'd be there, of course.

But if I made my bed in hell, you'd be there. If I took the wings of the morning and dwelt in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there your hand should lead me and your right hand would hold me up. If I say in despair, surely the darkness shall cover me and the light about me is turned into night. Even the darkness is not dark to you.

The night for you is as bright as the noon day, for darkness is as light with you. You formed me in my inward parts. You knitted me together in my mother's womb before I had a name. When they just called me a fetus, you knew who I was and you knew what I was going to become. I praise you for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.

Wonderful are your works. My soul knows it very well. Your eyes saw my unformed substance when I was just a fetus. In your book, all my days were written, every single one of them, the days that were formed for me when as yet there was none of them and my mom didn't know she was pregnant yet. How precious to me are your thoughts, oh God, how vast is the sum of those thoughts.

If I could count them, they would be more than the sand of the seashore. And then I wake up and I think, surely that's a dream, it's too good to be true. But when I awake, I'm still with you. Do you know how much and how often God thinks about you? Oh my goodness, he saw you in the womb before your mom even knew that she was pregnant. God knew your name. He had designed you. He knew all the days he had planned for you.

He chose every one of them. And he assigned his angels to watch over you in good times and bad when it felt to you like darkness was going to overcome you. God's like, that was the light of day for me. I saw everything that was happening and I never lost control. Before the word even formed on your mouth, whether it was in prayer or whatever to express something, I knew what it was.

Not one hair fell from your head without me knowing about it. It always amused me how intimately aware my wife was of our kids, their physical features when they were like infants. My wife would be like, hey, did you see that Raya got a new freckle on her left shoulder? And I'd be like, which one is Raya?

You know, just the contrast. What David is saying here is God knows me more intimately than the most attentive, love-smitten mother. When I made my bed in hell, he said, and that's not poetry, that's literal. You and I had made our bed in hell. And God said, I'll go to hell for you. And so God came down into hell and took the bed that I'd made for myself and he absorbed hell into himself when he died on a cross and was forsaken by God for me so that he could buy me back out of hell so I wouldn't have to stay there. David said, I couldn't even run from you in hell. You cared about me too much that you chased me to hell and endured hell in my place. It is no wonder that David said, how precious are these thoughts to me? How vast are the sum of them if I could count them?

It'd be like the sand at the seashore. And then I wake up and I think it's too good to be true, but it's not too good to be true. It's happening.

It's a dream I never wake up from. You want to be known? You want to be valued?

You want to be approved of? You are. And the love and the approval that he gives you is richer and deeper and lasts longer than the love of any man or woman. He just can't stop thinking about you. You trying to be special to somebody? You're special to him.

You trying to matter in life? You matter to him. The arms you've been searching for in romance are actually his arms. The security that you were working for in your life is going to be found in his promise.

The beauty that you craved in pornography is found in his presence. The fullness you yearn for in all your pursuits is going to be found when you walk with him, which leads to the last point. Verse 9. Therefore, its name was called Babel, because there the Lord confused the language of all the earth. One more play on words. Babel, you can just re-accent it in Hebrew, and Babel becomes balal, which means confused.

So there they call the place confused because there the Lord confused the language of all the earth. Now, chapter 11 ends, and guess what comes after chapter 11? Chapter 12. Boom, watch this. Listen, you might never have connected chapter 12 to chapter 11.

They're the same. Now the Lord said to Abram, go. Go out of your country, out of your kindred, your father's house to the city, to the land I'll show you. I'll make you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great so that you'll become a blessing. I'll bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.

Here's your fourth point. God is building a better tower. By the way, notice the scripture reference for this point.

Genesis 12, 1 through the rest of the Bible. Because Genesis 11 is, in a sense, the fulcrum of the whole Bible. Man's attempts to build a tower back to God to regain what he lost in God have failed. So in Genesis 12, God starts to build his own tower, but he starts in a really odd place.

He chooses a sterile, frail old man, which is not the epitome of human weakness. It is the epitome of human strength. It is the epitome of human weakness, and he says to this sterile, frail old man named Abram, I'll give you a home, Abram, and it will be better and more secure than any home that they can build on the tower of Babel, on the plane of Babel. I'll give you significance, Abraham, greater than any tower you can build. You'll have a role in blessing the whole world.

I'll make your name great, Abram, because I'll tie the greatness of your name to the greatness of my name. And one day, Abram, all these scattered families of the earth with their new languages are going to be reunited around the tower that I build because of what I do through you. And so we fast forward through the whole Bible to the very last book of the Bible, Revelation 7, and we see this incredible scene where John, the writer of Revelation, says, after this I look and behold, a great multitude that nobody could number. From every nation, all the tribes and peoples and languages that were scattered at Babel, all of them, are now back together standing before the tower that God built, the throne, and before the lamb. And they were all crying out with a loud voice, salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne and to the lamb. And so you have what was dispersed in Genesis 11 brought back together, but this time they're not standing around a tower that they built proclaiming their awesomeness. This time they are standing around a throne that God has built, and they are worshiping, saying salvation is not about how awesome we were.

Salvation belongs to our God, and they are united not in praise of their strength, they are united in adoration of the grace that God has extended to them. And so the message of the whole Bible is God's going to build this tower. You're going to get little glimpses of it throughout the Bible. For example, in the very middle, Acts chapter 2, when the Holy Spirit falls, the Holy Spirit falls on the earth. The first time the Holy Spirit comes, the first thing that happens is all these people start to speak in other languages. You're like, what's going on there? Is that like a magic trick?

No. God is basically this big flashing neon sign saying, I'm reversing Babel. All the stuff they couldn't accomplish in Babel, I'm going to accomplish through my spirit. So then you go back to Abram's life and you realize that he's not able to get his wife pregnant, so God puts his spirit in Abraham, and then through the spirit he's able to do it. What you're going to see throughout the Bible is that what man can't do, God does in his place and gives him as a gift. Man can't live the life that's pleasing to God, so Jesus lives it in our place. Man can't die the death that we are condemned to die, so Jesus dies in our place. Man certainly can't resurrect himself from the dead, so God by his spirit brings out Jesus' dead body and says, I will now live in you.

I give you that as a gift. The whole Bible cover to cover screams one thing, salvation belongs to our God. And one day around the throne, we're not going to be proclaiming how awesome we are and what we accomplished.

We're not going to be bemoaning our failures, we're going to declare the glory of the God who built this thing through us. Which is no wonder why in Revelation, John points out that Revelation 22, 4, and God will write a name on our foreheads, and that name that he writes is going to be his name. You'll have a name tag in heaven, do you know that?

It's just a good old fashioned name tag, except the name tag ain't going to have, it's not going to say JD on it. It's going to say Jesus. Now, I don't think that means that we'll just only call each other Jesus, because that might get confusing. When I say Jesus, nobody else says what. What it means is that the most important name that I have attached to me is Jesus.

Let me tell you how, it was actually comforting to me this week. Because I thought about the fact that I had this feeling that when I get to heaven, there are going to be people who come up to me in heaven who are going to walk up and say, why are you here? Maybe they knew me at a weird time in my life. Maybe they knew me in high school.

Same thing. Maybe they just knew me on a bad day. Right, like recently I was traveling, so I was not in Raleigh, and I said something really rude to some guy.

And I never do that in Raleigh. No matter what you do to me, I'm not going to say the root to you because I know there's a real good chance you're going to show up in the church and it's going to be awkward. You'll be like, pastor, you know, you cussed me out.

And I'll be like, no, it wouldn't be, you know. I just never say it in Raleigh. But I was traveling, and it just got the better of me.

And so I said something rude, and it was sinful. And the first thing I thought is, okay, you know, I'm not in Raleigh, so it's going to be okay. And then I thought, what if this guy's a Christian, and what if he shows up in heaven and he walks up to me and is like, hey, you remember that?

Fort Lauderdale, Florida, on the street, you said, why are you here? And I'm just going to hang my head, and I'm going to point to my forehead. And I want to say it's because his name is on my forehead, not mine. Because I'm going to do what I do. I'm going to become what I become, not because I have the internal strength, but because God has determined that He is going to do it through me. Summit Church, this is what God has been doing through the whole Bible. It's what He's been doing in every age of the church.

He will accomplish it as surely as Sarah, Abram's wife, got pregnant, and as surely as Jesus walked out of the grave. He has driven the church forward by the power of His Spirit in every age, and He's the one driving this church forward in this day. He's building this church. He's what is doing something amazing through your life.

He's the one that's determined He's going to make your life a blessing and not a cursing. He doesn't need us to build a church. He doesn't need you to do something amazing. He doesn't need you to overcome addiction. He doesn't need you to be an awesome parent.

He doesn't need you to be a perfect spouse. He just wants you to yield yourself to Him, to let Him do something amazing through you. That's it. Christian life is not about ability, it's about availability and letting God build that tower. There are one of two towers that are being built in your life. One of two. You're either in Genesis 11, building a pretty impressive tower by your will, in your strength, for your glory. Or you've yielded yourself fully and completely without restriction to let Jesus build His tower of grace in you. So which of those two are you building?

Which of those two are you building? Whose will are you living according to? Yours or God's? I'm not asking you how religious you are, just be quiet with that. Who cares?

Nobody cares. I'm not asking you how moral you are, I'm asking have you ever given Jesus a blank check and just said it's all yours, everything. Do you see what you have now? Your time, your treasure and your talents. Do you see those things as belonging to you that you give God some of or do you see them as belonging to Him?

That is one of the hugest differences I see happen in people. You come and you think like, okay, I'm going to be generous and give God some of my money and some of my time. And then at some point, some of you have woken up to this, you're like, wait a minute, it's not my money or my time to begin with.

That makes a big difference, doesn't it? Like, you know, if you have $10 in your pocket and I'm like, can I have some of the $10? Then you think, well, how much can I spare and, you know, am I going to give some to JD? But if you got my wallet in your pocket with $10 and I say, I want $10, it's not how much do I want to give JD. It's does he want to leave any of it with me?

You start to see that every second you live, every breath you take, every penny you have is actually His. And you start to say, Jesus, what do you want me to do with this money? What do you want me to do with this time?

What do you want me to do with these talents? Do you see what you have as belonging to you or Him? Whose strength do you get up and face each day with? Don't tell me it's God's if you don't have a daily time that you meet with God and pray. That just shows me it's totally off your radar.

Everything's about your strength. Whose glory are you concerned about? Is it yours or God's?

Whose mission? Are you pursuing your kingdom or His mission? Don't tell me I'm pursuing God's if all you do is come to this church on the weekend and sit in the audience. To be involved in God's mission means you're involved in God's body.

God didn't put you here so you come here with religious pep talk once a week from me. This is a church, it's an organization of ministry that we extend the kingdom of God through. Whose kingdom?

Whose tower? You build it. By your will and your strength for your glory. Or not my will but thine be done. Not by might or by power but by my spirit says the Lord. And thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory forever and ever. Amen.

Why don't you bow your heads, bow your heads to all of our canvases. Listen. The real preacher of this church is the Holy Spirit, not me.

Not me. And I want to give you just a moment to let Him saturate your heart and let Him apply these words to you. Would you just ask yourself those questions, whose will you're living by, whose strength, whose glory? And would you let the Holy Spirit expose the towers of disappointment, of inevitable disappointment. And let Him call you back to Himself. Maybe this weekend you're realizing why that tower of disappointment is there.

He's not trying to pay you back, He's trying to bring you back. Just listen and come. In just a moment at all of our canvases our worship teams are going to come and they're going to lead us in the celebration of the bread and the cup. Which is probably the best demonstration of the tower that God built to get to us. A tower by His strength so that He could save us. And we're just going to rejoice in that. And I want you to prepare your heart by letting the Holy Spirit have you think what tower you're engaged in building and our worship teams will come.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-09-05 01:52:31 / 2023-09-05 02:11:48 / 19

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