God’s Surprises

God’s Surprises

 

Introduction

  • I love surprises.  And I love also to surprise people.  Good surprises.
  • “SURPRISE, SURPRISE !!”
  • What about you?  Do you like surprises? Most people do, especially if they are good surprises.
  • Examples:
    • Surprise birthday parties – weren’t expecting any guests
    • Surprise visitors – someone we love visits us without telling us
    • Surprise gifts – not expecting to receive a gift, or expecting something very ordinary – then received something very special
  • We all love “surprise” gifts – something very special, that we didn’t expect to receive – to receive and hopefully also sometimes to give
  • God also loves to surprise us – and His surprise gifts are the best of all
  • Three of God’s most special surprises …

 

GOD’S FIRST SURPRISE: GOD COMES AMONG US AS A MAN

  1. Question: What is God really like?  Who is He?  All peoples and religions try to understand these issues – to find the answers
  2. The Jewish people believed that one day God would send His special messenger to earth to bring peace on earth – they called Him God’s “Messiah” – someone who would save them from their enemies and establish an eternal reign of peace
  3. Who would that person be?  What would he be like?  What would he do?  A mystery kept secret by God – until Jesus came – John 1:14a “So the Word (Jesus) became human and lived here on earth among us.” Cf. Phil.2:5-7; Matt.1:21 “Immanuel”
  4. In every way, Jesus was a SURPRISE to the Jews of His day – so very different to what they thought:
    1. His birth was a big surprise: conceived by the Holy Spirit in a virgin named Mary – a very simple village girl
    2. His life was also a great surprise: worked as an ordinary carpenter, lived in a very ordinary town called Nazareth – not one of the ruling or wealthy class
    3. His work and ministry was another huge surprise: moved among the people doing good – didn’t lead a fight against the Romans – He didn’t keep company with the very important people but rather spent time with “little people”, i.e. those at the bottom of the ladder
    4. His death was a MAJOR surprise: how could God’s special messenger die at the hands of the Romans? – yet He was condemned to die by crucifixion
    5. His resurrection was the greatest surprise: when Jesus was crucified, His disciples thought that this marked the end of their relationship with Jesus – they were very sad – when He appeared to them beginning on Easter Sunday, His followers were caught by surprise
  5. Everything about Jesus’ life on earth – a surprise to His people then – very, very different to that they had expected
  6. God’s surprise went further … Who is He?  What is He really like?  A Judge whom everyone feared would one day punish them?  Or …. ?

 

GOD’S SECOND SURPRISE: GOD SHOWS US KINDNESS INSTEAD OF JUDGMENT

  1. Most people try to be good, hoping their good deeds will outweigh their bad deeds – so God will put them in His “good books”
  2. But they are also afraid of God’s judgment – because they know that they don’t always live in ways that are right – they expect God’s punishment
  3. The truth is – our condition in God’s sight is far, far worse than we could possibly imagine – God demands absolute perfection to be acceptable to Him – this means that we must obey all His laws, all the time, without ever thinking wrong thoughts, having wrong motives, speaking angry words – God can only accept us into His heaven if we have lived a perfect life
  4. We have all fallen far short of God’s perfect standard – our sins have already condemned us – God must pass judgment and that judgment is “death” = separated from God forever
  5. Our real human situation is truly & utterly hopeless – EXCEPT for God’s amazing surprise = instead of judging and condemning us for our sins, He chooses to forgive us
  6. He does this in a most unexpected way = God Himself suffers our punishment in our place – God’s wrath / anger for our wrongdoing fell upon Jesus:
    1. 1 Peter 3:18a “For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God.”
    2. Jesus was “righteous” = He lived a perfect life – God the Father spoke from heaven: “You are my beloved Son; with You I am well pleased.” 
    3. God poured out His wrath/anger because of our sins upon Jesus, so that He might pour out His mercy and kindness upon us – Isaiah 53:10 “Yet it was the Lord’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer, and though the LORD makes his life a guilt offering….”
  7. Bank of Heaven illustration:
    1. We all know about credit cards – the bank gives us credit that we have to pay back – but if we don’t have any way to pay it back, we just go further into debt with the bank as we get hit with the interest
    2. We all have a bank account in the Bank of Heaven – but it’s in the red – we have a HUGE debit
    3. We try to make deposits in that account by being good people – but everything we do including being religious and good puts us further in debt – because our sinful hearts makes everything we touch and do “dirty” in God’s sight
    4. So the bad news is that we do not have any “credit” in our Bank of Heaven account – only a huge “debit” – debts too large for us ever to pay back
    5. The very, very bad news is – God the righteous Judge has already passed judgment on us: thrown into outer darkness to pay our debt – for ever
    6. BUT GOD – God’s surprise then is that GOD pays the debt for every human being – we don’t have to pay it ourselves.  This Judge is full of kindness and mercy – He chose to pay our debt for us, so He can now offer us a full and everlasting release from our debt – and this is Jesus did for us – Titus 3:5-7 “But then God our Savior showed us his kindness and love.  He saved us, not because of the good things we did, but because of his mercy.  He washed away our sins and gave us a new life through the Holy Spirit … He declared us not guilty because of his great kindness.  And now we know that we will inherit eternal life.”
  8. Still more surprises with God’s plan – especially how God has planned for us to actually experience His kindness …

 

GOD’S THIRD SURPRISE: GOD ACCEPTS US BY FAITH INSTEAD OF BY DEMANDING OUR PERFECT OBEDIENCE TO HIS LAW

  1. We thought we must become very, very religious and keep all God’s laws in the hope that God might be kind to us – to clear our debt before God – but God says: Your debt is far, far too big – never in a million life-times
  2. God’s surprise plan is totally different – all He asks is that with all our hearts we believe and accept His plan that He carried out through Jesus = “faith” – from trusting in ourselves or in some other person to trusting wholly and completely in all that Jesus has done and does for us
  3. Illustration of marriage:
    1. Believing in Jesus is like believing in the person you want to marry = know the person, believe he/she will make a very special husband/wife, see many special qualities – making the decision to marry that person – then one day committing the rest of your life to that person in a formal marriage ceremony: “I take you….to be my husband/wife” = knowledge, belief and commitment
    2. Imagine if this person you married was very, very rich – a HUGE bank account – many houses – you were poor, he/she was extremely rich – many people dream of marrying a very rich person – marrying a person like that means: you share both riches & poverty – you don’t need to do anything to receive that person’s vast wealth except to say “yes, I do” in marriage
    3. Believing in Jesus is like getting married to the richest Person in all the world – all His riches in the Bank of Heaven become yours to share in – putting our faith in Him, becoming married to Him = all His riches are deposited in our personal Bank of Heaven account – all our HUGE debt is totally removed, all His riches become ours forever – to use and enjoy both in this world and in the world to come:
      • His riches in place of our poverty – 2 Cor.8:9 “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich.”
    4. This surprise just keeps getting more exciting: our faith unlocks God’s treasure chest to us – by faith we have received Jesus’ inheritance of the Father’s wealth – all that we need for living the Christian life in this world is given to us, by faith, through Jesus’ Spirit in us – daily taking out from our Bank of Heaven account whatever we need for living a life pleasing to God, a fruitful, successful life:
      1. Jesus’ power replacing our powerlessness
      2. Jesus’ strength replacing our weakness
      3. Jesus’ wisdom and knowledge replacing our ignorance
      4. Jesus’ victory over Satan’s powers replacing our losses

Conclusion

  • You and I love surprise gifts – but there isn’t any surprise gift like God’s
    • God’s surprises are the very best !! – almost too good to be true – beyond our dreams – far better than we could ever imagine
  • Have you received JESUS, God’s greatest God’s surprise gift?  Are you sure that instead of a HUGE debt of sin in your Bank of Heaven account God has already deposited all of Jesus’ good works for you, especially His work on the cross?
  • I invite you to do that today – even now – so that you can begin to enjoy even in this life in incredible riches of Christ – and live in hope of enjoying these riches to the full when you die

Hornsby Bridge Mosaic Fellowship

April 29, 2007

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