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A Meditation on God's Ways #2

The Truth Pulpit / Don Green
The Truth Network Radio
February 12, 2024 12:00 am

A Meditation on God's Ways #2

The Truth Pulpit / Don Green

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Wisdom for the Heart
Dr. Stephen Davey

Welcome to the Truth Pulpit with Don Green, founding pastor of Truth Community Church in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Hello again, I'm Bill Wright. It is our joy to continue our commitment to teaching God's people God's Word. Today Don is continuing with the second part of a message we started last time.

So let's get right to it. Open your Bible as we join Don now in the Truth Pulpit. As you extend it out in what we're about to see as we have this meditation on God's ways, want to just see the something of the ways of God that are different from the ways of man as we contemplate life and what we're, you know, what we're about to embark on.

And these things are, you know, we'll go through rather quickly. Probably just did a 40-minute introduction for a 60-minute sermon. What I want to do is consider with you three distinct ways that God works among his people.

Ways that are reflective of the way that he will deal with you over time in your life. One of the things, one of the many things that I hate about the health, wealth, and prosperity movement and all of that is they create this impression that of quick and immediate results from God and how many times if you've had any familiarity with that, you know, one of their favorite words to use is a breakthrough. You know, and you're looking for a breakthrough where God suddenly changes everything in the circumstance and you're, you know, and things go from bad to good, from bankruptcy to wealth in just a flash of an eye. And it creates these expectations of the timing of God being operated according to our stopwatch or our calendar. And that's so destructive.

It's so wrong. It teaches people to be impatient with God rather than patient and to wait on him. As scripture repeatedly says, wait on the Lord. Be strong and let your heart take courage. Yes, wait on the Lord. Well, why the biblical admonition to wait if God's way is for us to just immediately quickly get what we want so as to minimize the discomfort and suffering that we have as the hucksters of moralistic therapeutic deism would say. God just wants to fix your problem. Well, we need to, first of all, we need to see this about the ways of God and it's this. He works with a deliberate providence. He works with a deliberate providence.

Providence, just to give it a five cent definition, is an indication that God controls and directs all events in the universe in order to accomplish his purposes. Nothing is outside the ultimate decreed will of God. And so God works all of the motions of man and all of the motions of oceans and the motions of the skies and the hearts of kings.

He works at all to accomplish his purposes. Even sinners who rebel against him, God works through that to accomplish his ultimate will. That's the idea of providence. Our point tonight is not to articulate that doctrine per se, but simply to acquaint you with the sense that God works with a deliberate providence. And I'm not going to have you turn to scriptures here. I'm just going to point things out to you for the sake of time.

I want you to, this is like standing on a little bit of a plateau looking out at a range of mountains, looking at the Rocky Mountains from a plateau in eastern Colorado and seeing the full sweep of it without getting into all of the details. That's what we want to do here tonight. God works with a deliberate providence. And so we start with this. The ways of God are sure in their outworking. God certainly works out his will, but this is where we need to bend the knee and bend our minds, but he does not work according to the timetable of man. God works on his timetable, not on ours, as part of being God, part of being sovereign. You get to do what you want, when you want.

When you see fit, undistracted, unaffected by what happens on earth below. God works according to his timetable. God, and here's the thing that you and I need to remember for this evening, God perceives time and God acts in human affairs differently than we do. God views time differently than we do.

Of course, the most famous verse to that effect, I suppose you could say, is 2 Peter 3.8, which says this. It says, do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord, one day is as a thousand years and a thousand years as one day. God is indifferent to the passage of time. God is not restrained by schedules and deadlines.

You know, we're driven by these things, and in part because we have to be. We are creatures of time. God is not a creature of time. He's not a creature and he's beyond time.

He created time. And so, bringing this to personal application, as I promised you, especially when we are afflicted, suffering under grinding chronic trials, you and I, understandably, want immediate relief. Look, we live in the age of smart phones and drive-through orders and Google giving us the information we want in 0.0023 seconds. And we're conditioned to think that way, and we're always so much in a hurry.

So much in a hurry. And so, we take that which our culture has conditioned us to expect, and what the affections and the motions of our heart. We want things now. We want them, and we want them now. And we carry it.

Here's the thing. This is a really important transition point, beloved. And we carry that over into our expectations from God. We've lost sight of patient, persistent prayer, praying when the answer doesn't come and being content as we wait on an answer that is long, long delayed. But, beloved, God is not like us like that at all. God is not like us when it comes to time. God works his purposes over years, over decades, over centuries, over millennia. Revelation 20, 1,000 years, future reign of Christ still to come. God works out his purposes on a timetable that is inconceivable to us. And let me just illustrate this with you with select familiar examples from Scripture and history to make my point. I have Scripture references for all of these things that are biblical that if you want, I'll be happy to share those with you another time.

This is the panorama, not the detailed exegesis here. And so starting in Genesis, Abraham waited 25 years from the promise of God until the birth of Isaac. Genesis 12, Genesis 21. The children of Israel were enslaved for 400 years in the nation of Egypt. Beloved, there were generations that came, lived under slavery, lived under that oppression, and died and saw nothing of the purpose of God worked out in their visible eyes. Even when God delivered them, the nation spent 40 years wandering in the wilderness.

Numbers 14. Later on, the Babylonian exile. God carried the people off in judgment through the Babylonians.

Babylonian exile lasted 70 years, 25 years, 400 years, 40 years, 70 years. You know, God did not act instantly. God was perfectly pleased and perfectly wise to allow his people to suffer, to wait, to have his promise and for his promise to be sufficient to secure their faith, even if they did not see the fulfillment come. Hebrews 11 talks about that.

They embraced the promises from a distance, not having seen them, not realizing fulfillment in their lives. You can move from the Old Testament to the New Testament era, from the ministry of the Old Testament prophets at the end of Malachi to the beginning, the start of the New Testament, another 400 years during which the Jews suffered greatly under the hands of the Romans at times. Even our Lord, our Lord Jesus Christ, think about him. He's born in Bethlehem, born to Mary. What happened with our Lord? He lived in obscurity, working as a carpenter for 30 years prior to the start of his ministry. Our Lord himself, three decades. Just living in a way that people just thought he was the natural child of Joseph and he was a carpenter's son. And they viewed him with derision when he came out for his public ministry.

Thirty years. The apostle Paul knew a 14-year delay early in his apostolic ministry, Galatians 2. We can move beyond the close of the New Testament canon and see it in history.

I refer to this a lot. The early church, those blessed brothers and sisters in Christ, knew 300 years of different waves of persecution under the Roman Empire. If you read that book that I recommended last Tuesday, Sketches from Church History, you can see a little bit of a vignette. They lived in tombs. They lived in those underground catacombs in Rome. That's where they'd meet for worship. And this went on for decades and even centuries, and that's what they knew. Who knows how they would have immediately rejected and scorned and despised if time travel was possible and you sent a prosperity preacher back to them and preaching, God wants you healthy, wealthy, and well, and preach that to them in the catacombs. I don't know if they would have laughed at them or stoned them. That message would be utterly contrary to what the early church knew for the first three centuries after Christ.

God was content to do that. The corruption of the Roman Catholic Church lasted nearly a thousand years before the Reformation, launched by Luther and carried on by Zwingli and Calvin and Knox and other great men of whom the world was not worthy. You get the idea, don't you?

We could multiply illustrations endlessly. We could look at the Apostle John in exile on the island of Patmos. We could accept the testimony of church history and, you know, that the other 11 apostles were martyred, lost their lives for the sake of Christ. The appointed representatives of Christ came to that kind of an end. You get the point.

Here's the point. God's ways, not our ways. God's ways, not our ways. The way that he chooses to allow his children to go through affliction, the length of time that he'll allow them to suffer, the fact that he will allow them and bring them under the domination of godless rulers and the God's ways, not our ways. God's ways, not our ways. The way that he chooses to allow his children to go through affliction, the length of time that he'll allow them to suffer, the fact that he will allow them and bring them under the domination of godless rulers in order to discipline them. I can't read and interpret God's providence, but I'll tell you what, the professing church of Jesus Christ, we deserve the corrupt leadership that is over us. God brings godless leaders to discipline his people in order to drive them back to godliness and to repentance and to forsake their foolish worldly ways. And now we have people that just want to double down even more on politics. What is that?

What is that? You know, we'd rather have 10, not we, Truth Community Church, but the church would for decades since the moral majority would prefer, you know, political instruction rather than humble repentance. Why would God bless the church and provide us with further ease when that's the mindset and the attitude? But our point here is one of simply of chronology. God does not operate on the timetable of man. His purposes are sure, even though they are often, if not usually, slow and hidden from our eyes.

Now, surely that has personal relevance for some of you in your life. Reminds me of the hymn that we sometimes sing, All Creatures of Our God and King, You Who Long Pain and Sorrow Bear, Praise God and on Him cast your care. Oh, praise Him.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia. Long pain and sorrow is sometimes the way of God with His people. He may delay the comfort and the outcome, but His mercies are still sure and new every morning. Our faith does not wrap around, the roots do not wrap around the circumstances in which we find ourselves.

True faith, true Christian biblical faith, the roots of that wrap around the promises of God, around the unchanging immutable attributes of God, around the unchanging, immutable attributes, the immutable essence of God, and rests in Him there regardless of the passage of time. And so I just encourage you to remember the sure but deliberate, deliberate providence of God and continue to persevere. Now, that has also has relevance, as I see it, for the prolonged study that we have ahead on the Christian mind. We cannot set artificial timetables for the work of the word in us. And look, beloved, you know, and I'm reminding myself on a daily basis to be patient myself as I go through this, as I preach through these sessions, as I go through this, as I go through this, as I preach through these things in the months to come.

But I want you to understand and I want you to think clearly about these things. The church and our culture has rejected truth for decades and for centuries, and we are living in the environment that that produces. Beloved, it's going to take time to start to undo the effects of that. Our culture has rejected truth for decades, for centuries.

The church has followed along in a chronological delay like an unthinking puppy. And so what we have to do is we have to reestablish the fundamentals that have too long been neglected. That requires patient attention to systematic teaching. There are no shortcuts. Shortcuts, beloved, if you don't take anything away from the preparation for the series of series to come, keep this in mind.

There are no shortcuts for establishing a biblical mind. Shortcuts are what got us into the present mess. A disaffection and an impatience and a disregard for truth is what led us into the chaos in which we find ourselves. We're not going to get out of it by being in a hurry.

That would only make the problem worse. So the ways of God include a deliberate outworking of his providence. Secondly, I'd like to remind you of what we could say is the recurrent instruction of God. The recurrent instruction of God. The fact that some things are repeated in ministry. As we build fundamental thought in a fundamentally Christian mind, another biblical pattern of instruction is very helpful for us to frame our expectations and to frame our approach and to frame the whole mind in which we received it.

I received a lovely email recently asking, how can we absorb this material? What can we do to prepare our minds and how can we best make use of what is to come? Well, as we build fundamental thought, beloved, here's what I want you to remember and to think about that will help you as you come to be under the Word of God week by week, month by month. It's a simple point.

It's a simple point. The apostles of Jesus Christ often repeated instruction to the churches. Not every message was something new to them and from them. And you see this endlessly in the apostle Paul.

Endlessly. You see Paul saying these kinds of things. Just listen as I read a half dozen passages from the letters of the apostle Paul with this focus on repetition. He said in Romans 15, he said, on some points I've written to you very boldly by way of reminder because of the grace given me by God. Reminder. I've written to you these things.

You've heard them before. I'm reminding you of them. In 1 Corinthians 4 he says, that is why I sent you Timothy, my beloved and faithful child in the Lord, to remind you of my ways in Christ as I teach them everywhere in every church. He said, everywhere I go I teach these things and now I'm sending you Timothy so that Timothy will remind you of what you've already heard. Philippians 3 verse 1, he says, to write the same things to you is no trouble to me and it's safe for you. 2 Timothy 1, he says, for this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands. In 2 Timothy 2 verse 14, I told you this was endless, speaking metaphorically there. 2 Timothy 2 14, he says, remind them of these things. In Titus 3, 1, remind them to be submissive to rulers and authority.

Remind, remind, remind, same things, remind, reminder. Let me give you an opportunity to turn in your Bibles to 2 Peter just to see these things from another apostle. 2 Peter chapter 1. I'll have a little, if I don't forget, I'll have a little confession after we go through these final passages for you here.

Something of my own to publicly repent of. 2 Peter chapter 1, beginning in verse 12, Peter says, and he's also on the verge of his earthly departure, verse 12, he says, therefore I intend always to remind you of these qualities, though you know them and are established in the truth that you have. He says, you know these things, you're established, and I'm still going to remind you of them. That's how important repetition is in biblical ministry. He goes on and he says in verse 13, I think it is right, as long as I am in this body, to stir you up by way of reminder, since I know that the putting off of my body will be soon as our Lord Jesus Christ made clear to me. I will make every effort so that after my departure, you may be able to, at any time, to recall these things. Peter says, I'm staring down the barrel of death. Here's what I'm going to do while I've got breath. I'm going to remind you of the things that you already know.

That's how important it is. In chapter 3, same book. You see him coming back to this again. 2 Peter chapter 3 verse 1, this is now the second letter that I am writing to you, beloved. In both of them, I am stirring up your sincere mind by way of reminder that you should remember the predictions of the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Savior through your apostles. I'm reminding you of teaching that you've already heard. I'm reminding you of teaching that you've already heard. Even the short letter of Jude, which is in many ways parallels the message of 2 Peter, Jude 5 says, Now I want to remind you, although you once fully knew it, that Jesus, who saved a people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed those who did not believe. He said, Now I want to remind you, although you once fully knew it, that Jesus, who saved a people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed those who did not believe. He said, You knew this.

I'm reminding you of it again. Recurrent instruction being the biblical pattern. Now what does the recurrent instruction of God have to do with us here at Truth Community Church as we seek to develop a biblical mind? Well, a couple of things that I would say.

First of all, it's going to be really, really good for you. If you make the effort and commit your time and narrow down some of the things that you do and choose to listen to, to listen to things again and again, to listen to these messages not once on Sunday, not just once on Tuesday, but to download the files, to listen to them again, to develop, just as you have to train a child who is learning obedience and learning the different things of entering into, caring for himself, and you have to repeat things again and again and again before they get it, you and I, we need to humble ourselves and say, I need that same thing in my own life, Lord. And I can't control this. I can't control outcomes. I know in advance that there will be a section of people that will just go through the motions of this and not really embrace it like what I'm talking about.

I can't do anything about that. But you can control and be different yourself and say, I need the repetition so these things sink in deep in me. You need that. As a practical matter for a pulpit perspective, I'll be really candid with you. I'll be really candid with you. I intend to adapt and to go over material that I've previously taught in the past. It'll all come out new.

It will sound fresh. But I'm going to repeat things that have been taught in Truth Community Church in the past at times as we go through this. I understand why, and those of you especially that have been with us for a long time said, I've heard this.

Why is he teaching this again? Let's just deal with this graciously up front. You know, it's not about any one particular person and what any one particular person has heard in the past.

We can't be that selfish about it. The fact of the matter is that some of this material, even such an extensive turnover of those that identify with our church, that for 80, 90 percent, everything that I'm about to teach in these coming months is going to be new to you, new to them. Would we really withhold the benefit of fundamental truth from someone just because a small, select handful of us have heard it before, particularly when we've forgotten it? That doesn't sense to me. But along with that, and I have mentioned the children of our church repeatedly, and I do so without apology. Our church has been around for about 11 years now. You know what that means?

That means that even for families where their kids have been with us from the very beginning, that means that children under the age of 15 have no meaningful memory of the foundational things that we were teaching at the start. Am I to neglect them just to keep bringing something new? I can't do that. I won't do that. And so let me just encourage you to patience and to a teachable spirit, mindful of what it says in Hebrews chapter 2, verse 1.

You don't need to turn there. Not using the phrase reminder, but you see the same thing. Writer of Hebrews said to his readers, therefore, we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it.

He says we need to pay closer attention to what we've already heard. We need to be stirred up by way of reminder. I promise you, I nearly forgot this, and it's not like any sin that I've committed against anyone in the room, but I just want to publicly acknowledge and just kind of in my own, before my own sense of presence, before God, you might say, is that I used to, especially when I was back at the other place, I used to be really sensitive and irritated with people who would come up to me after I preached, and they would say, thanks.

Thanks for that reminder. And at the time, I took offense at it. The way that I received that at the time is you're telling me I didn't tell you anything you hadn't heard before. I wanted to be fresh. I wanted to be original, because that's what you're supposed to do to keep an audience. Now I see it completely differently after I see these things from Scripture.

Now I understand a big responsibility that I have is to remind people of things that I've already said, things that are in Scripture that you already know, and to bring them to bear upon your mind again and again, not just what I've taught, but what you've seen from Scripture in the past. The way of God is recurrent instruction, not always chasing after something new, not a new series every three weeks with clever titles designed to draw people in. That's like living off candy bars. It tastes good for a little while. The sugar high is great.

But ultimately, you need nutrition, and you end up impoverished if you do it any other way. Well, thirdly, finally, then very briefly, what's the way of God? The way of God is thirdly seen in the sure promise of God, the sure promise of God. Whatever lies ahead for us as we pursue this path, we will not take this path in vain. This is not an empty pursuit that we will do. God will honor His truth.

Psalm 138, He's exalted His word in accordance with all of His name. We're just trying to honor the Word of God here. That's all. In one sense, that's the ultimate goal here. We just want to honor the Word of God.

That's all. We just want to honor God's Word in a culture that's rejected it and in a church that's largely rejected it. Based on Scripture, I'm convinced, I'm confident that God will bless us for that without trying to define in advance what that blessing will look like.

Listen to just three passages. 1 Corinthians 15 verse 58, therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain. Galatians 6, 9, of particular consequence when you remember the deliberate providence of God. Galatians 6, 9, and let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap if we do not give up. Beloved, by the grace of God, we will not give up.

Come what may, we will not give up. 2 Thessalonians 3, 13, as for you, brothers, do not grow weary in doing good. Well, we'll need to recall these three distinct ways of God as we as we go forward. His deliberate providence, the recurrent instruction, His sure promise. As I said earlier, the effects of this teaching may not be instantly obvious, but you know, we're not microwaving a bowl of instant oatmeal here. We're laying down principles of eternal truth for now and for generations to come.

So we're not seeking immediate gratification. We'll be building minds. We must be patient and faithful. I trust that God will use it in you, I trust that God will use it in you for your sake, that He'll use it in Truth Community Church for our collective corporate sake, and even more, beloved, we're trusting God to somehow use this for generations yet to be born. Let's pray together. Father, what can we say except that we commit these things and the intentions of our heart into your hand? We ask you for your own glory's sake to bless your word as it goes forth. We ask for the good of your people, that you would bless your word as it goes forth. We ask for the sake of a degenerate culture, that you would bless your word as it goes forth. We ask for the sake of the young generation, dozen scores of young children under the umbrella of our church, Father, that you would bless your word in their lives as it goes forth. Father, for generations to come, that we won't meet on this side of glory, bless your word as it goes forth. Father, may the ministry that we undertake in the days and weeks and months and even years to come, Father, may you so bless that, that the work of it would follow us into heaven long after we've departed from this earthly tent in which we now abide. Help us to that end, Father. We believe you to be a great God. We believe you to be able to do great things far exceeding abundantly beyond all that we could ask or think.

We believe that about you. And so, Father, we simply ask in humble dependence for the glory of your name and for no other's sake that we ask you to do great things as we pursue this path in the time to come. In Jesus' name, we pray.

Amen. That's Don Green here on The Truth Pulpit. And here's Don once again with a final word. Well, my friend, before we go after today's broadcast, I just want to invite you to look me up on Facebook, Don Green on Facebook. I often make original posts. I make comments about ministry and other matters of biblical importance there that do not make their way into this broadcast. And so if you are on Facebook, I invite you to join me. Look for Don Green and join us on Facebook for another way to connect with our ministry. That's Don Green, founding pastor of Truth Community Church in Cincinnati, Ohio. Thank you so much, friend, for listening to The Truth Pulpit. Join us again next time as Don begins a new message as we continue teaching God's people God's word on The Truth Pulpit.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-02-12 05:01:57 / 2024-02-12 05:13:58 / 12

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