Faith Church

SEARCHING FOR A BETTER LIFE – Reflection | Sermon from 9/29/2019

The first week of our series on searching for a better life we talked about the importance of standing up, standing firm, and then standing back up when we need to. Standing with God is an important part of finding that better life. The third week we talked about living with restraint, which calls for us to walk away from the old life of sin and into the new life of Christ. Walking with God is an important part of finding that better life. Today we are going to close the series by talking about a way of living that is hard for many of us because it calls for us to be still and simply be present with God. Sitting with God is an important part of finding that better life.

One of the most influential people in my life was my Grandmother. She had a house at the beach that we lived in for several years when my Dad got out of the army, and even after we moved into our own house, I spent as much time with my grandmother at that house as I could. As much as I loved being at the beach, the moments that were the most formative for me, and the times I treasure to this day, were the times I simply sat on the porch with my Grandmother. We would sit and talk. We would sit and read, my grandmother was a voracious reader, and we would sit and just enjoy the beauty of the ocean, the beach, the sunsets, and the friends and neighbors all around us. In so many ways, the better life was found in simply sitting together.

For all of us, the better life will be found when we take the time to stop, be still, and sit with God. The better life will be found when we reflect on our lives, our faith, and the many blessings that we have. In fact, if we don’t stop and reflect from time to time, we might miss the fact that we are living the better life right now. In in our lives, it is often stillness and reflection that is driven out by our busyness, which is why one of the 10 Commandments is still so powerful today – Remember the Sabbath.

In all the busyness of the world, God is telling us to stop and set aside time in the rhythm of our lives to be still and do nothing but reflect. The Sabbath needs to be a day where we spend some intentional time sitting with God. And as we sit with God, there are four words we need to reflect on. These four words help define our lives and our relationship with God. These four words, taken together, will help us see the better life we have with God.

The first word is Creator. The Bible is clear that God is the creator of all things. In Genesis 1 it says, in the beginning, God. And then God created everything. As we sit in the presence of God we need to remember that it is God who created the world and all that’s in it. Psalm 24:1-2.

When we say that God created all things, we are also saying that God created us, and God created us to be special and unique in all the universe. In Genesis 1 it says that we were created in God’s likeness, and in Genesis 2 it says God breathed into us the breath of life. We are God’s children, created in God’s image. This doesn’t mean we look like God in the physical sense, it means that like God we have a creative spirit, intellect, and the capacity to love – like God. As God’s children, we are valued and loved above all of everything else in the world. Jesus said that when a sparrow falls to the ground, God knows about it, and yet we are more important than the sparrows.

During this series we have been looking at Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, and in Ephesians 3:19 it says, God created all things. And then in Ephesians 1:4 it says we were chosen by God before the creation of the world. Think about it, before God created anything God was thinking about us. Before the light or planets, plants or animals, God was planning our lives. And in Ephesians 2:10 it says, we are God’s handiwork. We were lovingly crafted and created by God to reflect his love and life.

When we reflect on God as the creator we are not just thinking about the power and majesty of the world around us, we are also thinking about the value and purpose of our own lives. No matter what my life might be like, I have value and worth. Regardless of what anyone else might say about me, I am loved and cared for by God. Reflecting on God as our creator can lead us to a better life because we begin to see the value and worth and dignity that each and every one of us has.

Reflecting on God as the creator and seeing God’s hand at work in the world and in our lives is important because the world wants to discount the presence of God in creation. Even talking about God in the creative process of the universe can be controversial. In 1966 Time magazine ran a cover story, Is God Dead? With science being able to explain more and more of what we were seeing in our world, the article asked if we really needed to see a God behind anything in creation. Since the 1960’s, as scientific study of the universe has increased, more and more scientists are actually saying that the evidence points to a God behind the creation of the world.

Scientists have discovered that there are about 200 parameters that are necessary for life as we know it to exist on earth. For example, we need a star that can produce light, but we need to be the right distance from that star to have the right amount of light and heat. We need the right mix of gases in the atmosphere, elements in the soil, and we need the presence of water. I also just read this week that we also need the gravitational pull of larger planets in our solar system to help pull asteroids away from us so we aren’t constantly bombarded and destroyed. I never thought of that before. These are just some of the things science says are essential for life to exist.

Scientists have calculated that the probability of all 200 of these parameters coming together in perfect union is almost impossible to calculate. In a 2015 Wall Street Journal article, Eric Metaxas said, the odds against the universe existing are so heart-stoppingly astronomical that the notion that it all “just happened” defies common sense. It would be like tossing a coin and having it come up heads 10 quintillion times in a row. (A quintillion is 1 followed by 18 zeros – 1,000,000,000,000,000,000)

Fred Hoyle, the astronomer who gave us the term “big bang,” said that his atheism was “greatly shaken” at these developments. He wrote, “a common-sense interpretation of the facts suggests that a super-intellect has monkeyed with the physics, as well as with chemistry and biology.”

Theoretical physicist Paul Davies has said that “the appearance of design is overwhelming,” and Oxford professor Dr. John Lennox has said, “the more we get to know about our universe, the more the hypothesis that there is a Creator . . . gains in credibility as the best explanation of why we are here.” While we often think that science leads us away from God, the reality is that the more science teaches us about the universe, the more it seems to point us to the reality that there is an intelligent, even loving, God behind it all.

So we need to reflect on the creator of the world and grab hold of this idea that our lives are not an accident. we are not here by chance. We were created by a God who is not distant and uninvolved but is part of our world, part of our lives, and loves us. And that is the second word we need to reflect on, Love. The word love is used 23 times in the book of Ephesians. We hear about God’s love in Ephesians 2:4-5, and then in Ephesians 3:17b-19.

We need to sit with God and reflect on his love for us, but as we do we need to be clear about what love is and isn’t. Too often we define love as getting what we want, and getting our own way. If a child doesn’t get what they want from their parents, what is it they often say? If you really loved me you would give me… How many times are we guilty of the same thing with God? God if you really loved me I wouldn’t be going through this. If you really loved me you would give me what I want. While God does give us good gifts in love, God’s love doesn’t mean we always get what we want.

As challenging as it is, it is often through the difficult times in life, when we don’t get what we want, that we need to sit in the presence of God and reflect on God’s love for us in that moment because God’s love is there. It is always there. In all times and through all things – God loves us. It’s easy to sit with God and give thanks for his love when things are going well, it is hard, but infinitely more rewarding, to sit in God’s presence and give thanks for God’s love when things aren’t going well. That is when the power of God’s love is more clearly seen and experienced.

The third word we need to reflect on is not an easy one because it points to our own weakness and failure, and that word is Sin. Sin is simply our turning away from God. It is turning away from God’s love and the life God wants for us. Sin is missing the mark in our relationship with God, and in how we live our lives. It is important for us to sit and reflect on our sin because it is these moments of reflection that keep us humble and show us where we need God’s love to be at work.

Sin not only hurts our relationship with God, it hurts our relationships with others, so we need to acknowledge our sin so relationships can be strengthened and healed. Sitting with God and reflecting on our sin is not something we need to dwell on and wallow in, but it is something we have to be honest about. We can never get to a better life if we aren’t willing to acknowledge the areas of our lives where things need to get better.

This leads us to the final word of reflection as we sit with God, Forgiven. The Bible says when we confess our sin, God is faithful and just and will forgive us. The prophet Isaiah said that while our sin is as red as blood, God’s grace and forgiveness will wash us as white as snow. God’s forgiveness washes us clean, it redeems us from an old life, and brings us to a new and a better life with Christ. We can never allow sin to be the end of our reflection with God, we need to always end with forgiveness, and Ephesians is full of this message of forgiveness. Ephesians 1:7, 2:1-5, 4:32-5:2, 5:8.

As we reflect on the forgiveness that God offers, we need to remember the price of that forgiveness – the life and death of Jesus. The life of Jesus was a constant reflection of God’s love and grace reaching out to forgive and redeem people and Jesus also talked about the need for us to forgive one another in order to find the better life. What ultimately forgives us of sin and allows us to forgive others is the death of Jesus. It is his blood that washes us clean. The Bible says the wages of sin is death, but Jesus’ death on the cross paid the price for us all. When we accept the love of our creator and allow the forgiveness of God given to us in Jesus to wash over us, we are set free and we find and begin to experience a better life.

We need to reflect more and more on this amazing forgiveness of God because it is only by accepting God’s forgiveness for ourselves that we are able to overcome the guilt and shame of sin that brings. It is only in accepting God’s grace and love that we are set free to find the better life we are searching for.

A better life is found when we sit with God and reflect on how God has created us and how much God loves us. A better life is found when we humble ourselves and reflect on our weakness, failure, and sin, but we can never let that be the end of our time with God. The better life is found when we reflect on, celebrate, and accept for ourselves the forgiveness of God given through Jesus Christ. Ultimately, the better life is found when we accept Jesus as our savior and strive day after day to make him our Lord.

Next Steps

Searching for a Better Life – Reflection

As important as it is to Stand with God, and Walk with God, it is equally important for us to Sit with God. Take time to reflect on how these 4 words can lead you to a better life.

Creator

  • Read and reflect on Genesis 1.
  • Where do you see the handiwork of God in creation?
  • How does science help you see God as the creator?
  • Each day identify one part of creation for which you are specifically grateful.

Love

  • Read and Reflect on Ephesians 2:4-5, 3:17-19, 5:1-2.
  • Where have you been able to see God’s love at work in your life? In your family? In the church?
  • How is God calling you to share his love with others?
  • What one thing can you do this week to share God’s love?

Sin

  • Read and Reflect on Ephesians 2:1-3, 4:25-32.
  • Humble yourself before God and confess your sin.
  • Sit in silence and ask God to reveal the dark areas of your life.
  • Reflect on whether there is someone you need to ask to forgive you. Ask them for forgiveness.

Forgiveness

  • Read and Reflect on Ephesians 1:7, 2:1-5.
  • Place all your sin in your hands and lift them up to God in prayer.
  • Bring your hands back filled with the gift of God’s love and forgiveness.
  • Lay your hands over your heart and allow God’s love and forgiveness to fill you to overflowing.

Sunday Morning

8:15 am: Traditional Worship Service with Nursery
10:45 am: Contemporary Worship Service with Nursery and Children’s Church

512 Hughes Street Bellefonte, PA 16823

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