Andrew Fountain - Stories of a God who responds

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Full sermon notes - Stories of a God who Responds

  • I occasionally watch sermons online, and I started watching one recently that almost made me sick
    • It was about how to claim your promise from God
    • It reduced God to a vending machine.
      • No interest in learning about him for his own sake
      • God had no utility apart from fulfilling our requests
  • What is a relationship?
    • Is is when you are interested in the person for their own sake
    • Not just for what you can get out of them.
  • What do you think about this quote:

Quote:

“God doesn’t want to be understood
He just wants to be worshipped.”

  • One of the most common complaints in marriage breakdowns is
    • He just doesn’t understand me
    • She doesn’t understand me
  • If we are in love with God, we will be fascinated by him
    • We will want to understand everything we can about him because that is what a relationship means.
  • Car salesman: “my job is ok, I sell lots of cars, but my customers don’t try to understand me.”
    • Why would you expect them to???
  • So here is the question for today:
    • Why does God sometimes seem to respond to us, and sometimes not?
    • There is a danger that we will treat this as “what can I do to get God to be more responsive to me?”
      • That would not be good! It would be manipulative.
    • But if we say “I want to understand him better as a person so I am more in tune with what he is looking for from me.
      • Then that is much better.
  • John Arnott once wrote:

John Arnott

“God doesn’t repond to need, he responds to faith”

  • Things are bad and I demand that you help me!
  • Things are bad and I trust that you love me, and trust my problems to you.
  • I’ve thought a lot about that.
    • It’s a very interesting statement
    • It’s a good starting point for our thougth
    • I think it not a good place to leave it because God is more complex that that
      • sometimes he does respond to need and sometimes not to what we think of as faith.

1. God does not respond according to our rules

  • We can’t come up with a formula that will predict how he will behave!
  • Often he persues those who are running away from him
    • e.g. Adam & Eve
    • Abraham

2. God loves faith

Abraham: Genesis 15

  1. And he brought him outside and said, “Look toward heaven, and number the stars, if you are able to number them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring be.”
  2. And he believed the LORD, and he counted it to him as righteousness.
  • God said
  • Abraham believed
  • Abraham’s faith
  • note that this faith was a response
    • he didn’t decide one day: “You know, I think I’m going to believe God for a descendents like the stars in the sky”
    • Yea, I’m going to have faith for my dream!
  • God said, Abraham believed
  • Hebrews 11:6 is really interesting—We please God when we believe that he rewards those who seek him.
    • This is a great insight into his character
    • So what would the opposite be?

Hebrews 11 —Abraham

  1. And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.
  2. By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going.
  3. By faith Sarah herself received power to conceive, even when she was past the age, since she considered him faithful who had promised.
  4. Therefore from one man, and him as good as dead, were born descendants as many as the stars of heaven and as many as the innumerable grains of sand by the seashore.
  • None of them were believing in a vacuum
    • They didn’t wake up and say “What shall I believe in God for today”
    • He told them exactly what to believe in
  • The problem was that what he told them was either impossible or it required a huge risk
    • So faith was simply being obedient
  • But what about us? We are not usually given some specific and extraordinary promise like that.
    • but look at Moses:

Hebrews 11 —Moses

  1. By faith, when he grew up, Moses refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter,
  2. choosing rather to be mistreated with the people of God than to enjoy sin’s fleeting pleasure.
  3. He regarded abuse suffered for Christ to be greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt, for his eyes were fixed on the reward.
  4. By faith he left Egypt, not being afraid of the anger of the king, for he persevered as though he could see the one who is invisible.
  • We can do this without any special revelation
    • As we step out in obedience, God will give us more revelation
    • We obey that and we receive more...

3. God wants us to understand his heart

  • David
    • He understood God, and what God wanted
    • 1Sa 13:14 “The LORD has sought out a man after his own heart”
    • The Battle with Goliath shows David understood two things about God
      • He is concerned about his name being dishonoured (why?)
      • He likes to demonstrate his power in weakness

1 Sammuel 17

  1. But David replied to the Philistine, “You are coming against me with sword and spear and javelin. But I am coming against you in the name of the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel’s armies, whom you have defied!
  2. This very day the LORD will deliver you into my hand! …Then all the land will realize that Israel has a God
  3. and all this assembly will know that it is not by sword or spear that the LORD saves! For the battle is the LORD‘s, and he will deliver you into our hand.”

What God responds to

  1. God does not respond according to our rules
  2. God loves his words to be trusted
  3. God wants us to understand his heart
  4. God responds to a humble heart, willing to change (repentance)
  • The nation of Israel had been extremely wicked
    • They had even put idols in the very temple
    • Groteque sexual/fertility idols
  • All of society was corrupted with abuse, injustice and brutality
    • They had deliberately defied God
  • It could hardly be worse
  • but God says:

Joel 2

  1. “Yet even now,” the LORD says,
    “return to me with all your heart—
    with fasting, weeping, and mourning.
    Tear your hearts, not just your garments!”
  2. Return to the LORD your God,
    for he is merciful and compassionate,
    slow to anger and boundless in loyal love—often relenting from sending calamity.
  • So what is God responding to?
    • admitting they were wrong
    • turning back to him
  • Any N.T. examples?
    • the “Lost son”

Luke 18:10–14

  1. “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector.
  2. The Pharisee stood and prayed about himself like this: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people: extortionists, unrighteous people, adulterers — or even like this tax collector.
  3. I fast twice a week; I give a tenth of everything I get.’
  4. The tax collector, however, stood far off and would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, be merciful to me, sinner that I am!’
  5. I tell you that this man went down to his home justified rather than the Pharisee. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted.”

Version: NET


  • What exactly was God responding to?
  • Another example:

Psalm 51

  1. O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth will declare your praise.
  2. For you will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it; you will not be pleased with a burnt offering.
  3. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.
  • But what if you haven’t been particularly sinful? —do you still have to repent?
    • “Miserable worm theology”
    • That is not the same as genuine humility
    • Total openness before God and willingness to change and be corrected.
    • being “teachable”
    • If there’s one thing God can’t stand it’s a proud heart
  • Maybe you don’t know God as your Saviour?

God responds to praise

2 Chronicles 20

  1. Early the next morning they marched out to the Desert of Tekoa. When they were ready to march, Jehoshaphat stood up and said: “Listen to me, you people of Judah and residents of Jerusalem! Trust in the Lord your God and you will be safe! Trust in the message of his prophets and you will win.”
  2. He met with the people and appointed musicians to play before the Lord and praise his majestic splendor. As they marched ahead of the warriors they said: “Give thanks to the Lord, for his loyal love endures.”
  3. When they began to shout and praise, the LORD suddenly attacked the Ammonites, Moabites, and men from Mount Seir who were invading Judah, and they were defeated.

6. Obey revelation and God will give you more

  • back to Hebrews 11

Hebrews 11

  1. And without faith it is impossible to please him,
    for whoever would draw near to God must believe
    that he exists
    and that he rewards those who seek him.
  • Mark 4:24: And he said to them, “Take care about what you hear. The measure you use will be the measure you receive, and more will be added to you.”
  • Let me give you an example of how this might work out in prayer for healing
    • Faith is a response to God’s words
    • Faith must have a “mandate”, not in a vaccum
  • So if we are praying for a sick person, what has God revealed that relates to this?

Steps of Faith

  1. God is able to heal
  2. God does heal the sick (the New Testament)
  3. God still heals today (James 5)
  4. God loves to heal
  5. God loves this person and cares about them
  6. As you pray, ask God for more specific revelation

What God responds to

  1. God does not respond according to our rules
  2. God loves his words to be trusted
  3. God wants us to understand his heart
  4. God responds to repentance
  5. God responds to praise
  • Grow in these and God will give you more

Updated on 2013-08-13 by Andrew Fountain