earlier this afternoon, Pastor Ernest tweeted: "Still writing my message for @theWell_CHS tomorrow..this is proving to be one of the most diff messages I have spoken"
i responded with: "diff as in "different" or diff as in "difficult"...i know twitter is only 140 characters, but some words you just gotta spell out ;)"
i like to poke fun at and give Pastor Ernest a hard time (mostly because in the 7 months that I've been attending theWell, I've gotten hit by him with a football, volleyball, and various verbal spears) - but i'm thankful for all the he and Jonny Sharp and Mel and Chris Russo and Wes and everyone else at theWell have done for me and all the blessings and opportunities that have come from them.
but to be honest, tonight's message was definitely not an easy one to hear. it was all about God's judgment. ...not exactly a lighthearted, warm and fuzzy sermon
"But if our unrighteousness serves to show the righteousness of God, what shall we say? That God is unrighteous to inflict wrath on us? (I speak in a human way.) By no means! For then how could God judge the world? But if through my lie God’s truth abounds to his glory, why am I still being condemned as a sinner? And why not do evil that good may come?—as some people slanderously charge us with saying. Their condemnation is just." (Romans 3:5-8)
the first two verses were Ernest's focus tonight - dealing specifically with God's judgment and how it is righteous.
in general, we don't want to think of God as being a wrathful, judgmental God.
but newsflash - HE IS! (told you this wasn't a warm and fuzzy message)
at the end of last year, i listened to Greg Pinkner's Romans podcast series. one word: powerful!
(pretty sure that is the best adjective to ever describe the book of Romans: powerful!!)
but in this message, i reminded of several of Greg Pinkner's podcasts about judgment and wrath.
God's Righteous Judgement
but the fact of the matter is, God is a just God.
He's not just a God of love - which some people believe.
He's not just a God of wrath - which other people believe.
He is a just God.
meaning everything He does is right. everything He does is perfect.
He judges our sin because justice demands wrath.
If He did not punish sin, he would not be a just God.
God hates sin.
And if sin went unpunished, then God would be a liar.
All throughout Scripture, His wrath is displayed through death (Romans 6:23 - the wages of sin is death)
But we are blessed - not because we deserve it because we don't (Romans 3:23 - for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God)
But God's wrath has been removed through the Cross - His wrath for mankind was eliminated when Jesus - the perfect sacrifice - took upon himself the wrath of the world.
Now the second half of Ernest's message revolved around wrestling with God.
it's hard to wrap our minds around the infinity of God.
we are finite beings with finite knowledge - but God knows everything - past, present, future.
but struggling and wrestling with God is okay - it's good, in fact, because it makes our faith our own.
two years ago, i was wrestling heavily with God.
i had been distant from God for an extended time and i wasn't living a godly lifestyle by any means.
but God was faithful to me. He humbled me so mightily that through months and months of wrestling, fighting, clawing, kicking, and screaming, by his grace and mercy, i was able to overcome past mistakes, failures, and anxieties and my faith was stronger than ever.
He uses those moments of wrestling to draw us near Him. to display HIS glory. the hard times we have and the trials we face are only to bring His name glory.
"Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything." (James 1:2-4)
"But Joseph said to them, “Don’t be afraid. Am I in the place of God? You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. So then, don’t be afraid. I will provide for you and your children.” And he reassured them and spoke kindly to them." (Genesis 50:19-20)
to illustrate my point and to further back what Ernest preached tonight, i encourage you to read the story of Joseph in the book of Genesis. talk about some drama...desperate housewives ain't got nothing on my homeboy, joseph!
thrown into a well by his brothers.
almost left for dead. sold into slavery.
elevated to a place of power under pharoah.
accused of rape by the pharoah's wife.
placed in charge of Egypt where he was over the food in the land (because the land was in a famine).
had the chance to plot revenge against his brothers (who traveled to get food).
but instead spoke the words above.
Joseph knew that God was the ultimate redeemer.
Joseph knew that God had great plans for Him.
...and I find that encouraging.
nothing is ever too big or too small for God to use in order to bring His name fame.
"Evil and sin will never destroy God's sovereign plan" -Ernest Smith
Have you ever experienced an extended time of wrestling with God?
What is the most challenging attribute of God that you wrestle to understand?
I would love to hear (well, technically, read) your thoughts!