Truly Great in 2008 –
INTRODUCTION – Reality of world crisis (Kenya, Iraq, ), national crisis (foreclosures, medical insurance, debt, apathy re: politics), state crisis (financial bust, immigration), los osos crisis, Small church crisis (shortage of volunteers, big bills, few people to pay, small thinking); personal/family crisis;
In the lyrics of one of Leland’s great songs, “This is an emergency.”
J.F.K.’s quote – “Great crises produce great men and great deeds of courage.”
Biblically – “Great crises cause the people of God to get re-focused on our great God, and out of that focus comes great kingdom solutions.”
I. Greatness is one of the attributes of God. God has always wanted His people to know Him and experience Him as one who is great in every way. He is worshipped for the greatness of His excellence “And in the greatness of Your excellence You overthrow those who rise up against You; You send forth Your burning anger, and it consumes them as chaff.” Ex. 15:7
He is worshipped for the greatness of His arm (which speaks of His strength and might) “Terror and dread fall upon them; By the greatness of Your arm they are motionless as stone; Until Your people pass over, o Lord, until the people pass over whom you have purchased.” Ex. 15:16
In both of these passages the threat of the enemies of the people of God was put into perspective by the revelation of God’s greatness.
Often he is worshipped and cried out to for the greatness of His love or lovingkindness “Pardon, I pray, the iniquity of this people according to the greatness of your lovingkindness, just as You also have forgiven this people, from Egypt even until now.” Numb. 14:19 – Moses Earlier in that chapter God had told Moses – He had had enough of the rebellion and unbelief of His people and was ready to smoke them. Moses –after such a statement from a Holy God would have wilted in despair had it not been for His confidence in the greatness of God’s lovingkindness.
Often He is worshipped and cried out to because of the greatness of His compassion – “Be gracious to me, O God, according to Your lovingkiness; According to the greatness of your compassion blot out my transgressions.” Psalm 51:1 – King David at a point in his life where he came face to face with the greatness of his own personal sin and evil, based His hope on the greater greatness of God’s compassion.
He is worshipped because of the greatness of His power – “Say to God, “How awesome are Your works! Because of the greatness of Your power Your enemies will give feigned obedience to You.” Psalms 66:3 You can line up the ten greatest threats or obstacles to the expansion of God’s kingdom, and the greatness of God’s power overshadows them all
We are commanded to praise Him in Psalm 150:2 for His greatness; “Praise Him for His mighty deeds; Praise Him according to His excellent greatness.”
The Psalmist affirms in Psalm 48:1 “Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised.”
God’s greatness is so great that Psalm 145:3 says His greatness is unsearchable – That means There is no end to it. You cannot exhaust it.
One of the arenas in which His greatness is unsearchable or infinite is that of astronomy. Every time these astronomers think they have exhausted the study of the universe they come up with another black hole or they see things on the planet’s surfaces they had never been able to see before. That’s why when the prophet Isaiah was trying to help the people of God maintain their trust in God, he spoke of the universe, “Lift up your eyes on high And see who has created these stars, The One who leads forth their host by number, He calls them all by name; Because of the greatness of His might and the strength of His power, Not one of them is missing.”
Transition: No problem with the greatness of God. But I do struggle with this idea of us aspiring to greatness. Granted ever great so often there comes along a Dwight Moody, Billy Graham or a John Wimber or a Mother Theresa or Amy Carmichael or Jackie Pullinger; but most of us are just going to be normal Christians.
Didn’t the Psalmist say we should not aspire to greatness? Psalm 131: O Lord, my heart is not proud, nor my eyes haughty; Nor do I involve myself in great matters, Or in things too difficult for me.” The key is pride
Didn’t the disciples get rebuked by Jesus for aspiring to greatness? Luke 9:46-48
Shouldn’t we just aspire to faithfulness and not greatness? Luke 16:10 “He who is faithful in a very little thing is faithful also in much; and he who is unrighteous in a very little thing is unrighteous also in much.”
II. Every Christian is called to kingdom greatness This has always been the way of God. Let me give you some examples:
“And I will make you a great nation. And I will bless you, And make your name great; And so you shall be a blessing.” Gen. 12:2 Rom. 4 “father of us all” – he is our model for this life of faith
Queen of Sheba – King Solomon’s wisdom, “Nevertheless I did not believe their reports until I came and my eyes had seen it. And behold, the half of the greatness of your wisdom was not told me. You surpass the report that I heard.” II Chron. 9:6
Mordecai the Jew – “…and all the accomplishments of his authority and strength, and the full account of the greatness of Mordecai to which the king advanced him, are they not written in the Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Media and Persia?” Esther 10:1,2
David in I Chron. 17:16-20 re: his own greatness and the greatness of his accomplishments – especially as regards the preparations for the building of Solomon’s temple
Psalms 18:35 “…Your gentleness makes me great.” David
Psalm 71:21 “May You increase my greatness, And turn to comfort me.” Unknown Old Psalmist – significance of that
God through the prophet Jeremiah said to the people of God, and what a great encouragement this verse has been to those of us who try to take the call to intercession seriously – “Call to me and I will answer you, and I will tell you great and mighty things, which you do not know.” Jer. 33:3
Jesus is certainly not afraid of the “g” word
Matt. 5:19 “Whoever then annuls one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven’ but whoever keeps and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.”
Luke 7:28 “I say to you, among those born of women there is no one greater than John; yet he who is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he.”
John 14:12 “Truly, truly I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do, he will do also; and greater works than these he will do; because I go to the Father.”
CONCLUSION – Rom. 12:2 “And be not conformed…