I want to share with you the big picture of life. I would call it the God story. It’s a story that began before the beginning of time and it continues to unfold today. It’s the reality of life. You can ignore it, you can decide to not believe it, but its reality. Are you ready?
Genesis 9:6-7 God made humans in his image reflecting God’s very nature. 7 You’re here to bear fruit, reproduce, lavish life on the Earth, live bountifully! MSG
You were created to be like God, to literally reflect God’s glory. To be an image bearer of God. God placed His DNA deep in your DNA. And when we reflect God’s glory, we are at our best. We feel fully alive because we are doing what we were created to do.
So let’s get practical, what does it mean to reflect God? First, we submit to Christ as our Lord and Savior and recognize that we are completely dependent on Christ for real life. Think about that. You need a Savior. You need someone bigger, stronger and better to come into your life and pull you out of your mess. You need a Lord, someone to follow every day. You need a Lord and Savior.
Secondly, we live every day in faith by taking full responsibility for ourselves and our decisions.
Lastly, God is your source of strength.
Isaiah 40:29-31 He energizes those who get tired, gives fresh strength to dropouts. 30 For even young people tire and drop out, young folk in their prime stumble and fall. 31 But those who wait upon GOD get fresh strength. They spread their wings and soar like eagles, They run and don’t get tired, they walk and don’t lag behind. MSG Our source of strength is the creator who is outside of our world.
King David knew this. This is what he wrote as the most powerful king of his time.
Psalms 49:7-8 There’s no such thing as self-rescue, pulling yourself up by your bootstraps. 8 The cost of rescue is beyond our means. MSG
Real quickly, let me ask you, scripture says …those who wait upon God get fresh strength… How long do wait? I guarantee you, God moves slower than you do. So you pray, you don’t get what you want, how long do you wait? 5 minutes? 5 days? 5 years? 5 decades? How long would you wait for God’s fresh strength?
You were created to reflect God’s glory. When you join God in His story by submitting to Christ and living in faith by taking responsibility and you wait for God’s fresh strength, people see God in you. That’s when you reflect God’s glory.
You see that is our struggle. The God story is awesome and we are invited into it but when we are in God’s story, life may not unfold the way we want it to. Isn’t that the struggle for us all? Actually, we hate that don’t we? So what do we do? We abandon the God reality, the God story and create a distorted reality, our small story.
We don’t want to embrace a servant role in God’s story, we would rather a ‘god’ in our story. So instead of submitting to God to fit into His story, we try to cram God into our story. He has to serve us, bless us, protect us, heal us on our command. Our source of strength is not waiting on God, it’s what we do, what we own, who we know, who validates us. Our source of strength is no longer the creator, it becomes this world. The result of living like this is emotional damage. We are unhappy, frustrated and miserable. That’s why scripture says, 1 John 2:16 Practically everything that goes on in the world – wanting your own way, wanting everything for yourself, wanting to appear important – has nothing to do with the Father. It just isolates you from him. MSG The harder we try to make our story great, we just isolate ourselves from God. We fail to do what we were created to do, reflect God.
Why do we abandon the God story to create our own small story? Because we are afraid God won’t come through for us. We stop waiting for God’s fresh strength, we take control. And when we take control, we create idols to worship. I want to read a story for you.
Exodus 19:1, 16-20 The Israelites arrived in the wilderness of Sinai exactly two months after they left Egypt. …16-20 On the morning of the third day, there was a powerful thunder and lightning storm, and a dense cloud came down upon the mountain. There was a long, loud blast from a ram’s horn, and all the people trembled. 17 Moses led them out from the camp to meet with God, and they stood at the foot of the mountain. 18 All Mount Sinai was covered with smoke because the LORD had descended on it in the form of fire. The smoke billowed into the sky like smoke from a furnace, and the whole mountain shook with a violent earthquake. 19 As the horn blast grew louder and louder, Moses spoke, and God thundered his reply for all to hear. 20 The LORD came down on the top of Mount Sinai and called Moses to the top of the mountain. So Moses climbed the mountain. NLT
In this story, they just experienced God in an unbelievable way. They walked through a river and watched God destroy the most powerful military in a few minutes. It was 2 months ago. 60 days ago. For you and I, it was on June 23rd. And today, they see, they feel God on the mountain and watch Moses go to meet with God.
Exodus 32:1-4 When Moses failed to come back down the mountain right away, the people went to Aaron. “Look,” they said, “make us some gods who can lead us. This man Moses, who brought us here from Egypt, has disappeared. We don’t know what has happened to him.” 2 So Aaron said, “Tell your wives and sons and daughters to take off their gold earrings, and then bring them to me.” 3 All the people obeyed Aaron and brought him their gold earrings. 4 Then Aaron took the gold, melted it down, and molded and tooled it into the shape of a calf. The people exclaimed, “O Israel, these are the gods who brought you out of Egypt!” NLT
When Moses failed to come back down the mountain right away, they made an idol to worship. Why would they ever do something so profoundly stupid? They didn’t think God would come through for them. They didn’t want to wait on God for His fresh strength. It was taking too long. So they took control and created their own story where they could be god.
Four idols we make today when we don’t feel like God will come through for us. We stop waiting for God’s fresh strength and create our small story.
Idol 1: Pride. I begin to believe that I have rights and its God’s responsibility to do what I need Him to do to make my story great. Pride is not only rebellion, it’s worse, it steals God’s glory. Pride makes us the center of our story. People with pride struggle with the following things.
God can’t ask me to live to holy standards that might be inconvenient or politically incorrect.
God can’t expect me to forgive when someone hurts me.
Do you see the pride? This is my story. I’m the center of it. God’s there to make it better.
Proverbs 21:4 Arrogance and pride – distinguishing marks in the wicked – are just plain sin. MSG
Idol 2: Pleasure. You begin to believe, I deserve and expect pleasure and its God’s responsibility to give me comfort, protection and blessings. Everyone gets a trophy. We deserve pleasure so we feed our appetites. After we feed our appetites, what do we do? We feed them more. Our appetites over time begin to control us.
People and things are in our lives to please us. If they don’t please us, remember we are ‘god’, we simply discard them, replace them, exchange for a new pleasure. Everything in life is about gratifying me.
Who is God? I don’t know but He’d better not screw up my story. People serving pleasure can’t understand the following.
God can’t be a God of love and then do something I don’t understand. Example: health issues.
God can’t seriously expect me to give up my life, my everything for the advancement of God’s kingdom.
Luke 14:33 If you’re not willing to take what is dearest to you, whether plans or people, and kiss it good-bye, you can’t be my disciple. – Jesus MSG
Idol 3: Power and Control. God’s not coming through for me, I have to take matters into my own hands. This actually become acceptable, it’s okay because I must have the outcome I expect.
In every relationship, I demand everything must happen the way I want. I am the ‘god’ my story and I determined the outcome.
My husband my wife must bend their will to me, otherwise, there is a price to pay.
My seven year old must be the starter on the soccer team.
My child must get into the class I demand.
How do these people live? They are stressed. They are overwhelmed. They are scared negative people and spread fear like cancer. And when confronted, they always have the greatest excuse, “I have to do it because no one else will.”
People taking power and control away from God struggle with the following.
When the people in their lives do things differently [like husbands, wives, kids, boss, church, etc.]
They can never rest and enjoy God’s fresh strength. Rest means failing to take control.
Psalms 49:7 There’s no such thing as self-rescue, pulling yourself up by your bootstraps.
Idol 4: People Pleasing. They do anything to have people’s validation and God’s standards are ignored. They will run over their closest relationships so people not as close like them. So I will ruin my marriage by saying no to my spouse as I run out the door to say yes to everyone else.
To find a best friend, I will change who I am, I will lower all moral standards to be liked.
To find joy and meaning, I will meet with and talk to people endlessly but never talk to God.
People pleasers struggle with the following.
Meet with God for His validation to then serve others.
Quietly serve without being noticed and awarded.
Simply be themselves and be original.
Galatians 1:10 I am trying to please God. If I were still trying to please people, I would not be Christ’s servant. NLT
When you give your life to Christ to reflect God’s glory, you are joining God’s story. It probably won’t go the way you want it to. What do you do? Do you wait for God’s fresh strength? Do you abandon the God’s bigger story to create your own small story? Do you feel like God isn’t coming through for you? Have you created a golden calf called pride, pleasure, power/control or people pleasing?
…those who wait upon God get fresh strength… How long would you wait for God’s fresh strength?
What do you do when you believe, God won’t come through for you?