WHAT DOES GOD THINK?

What does God think of you and what you do?
Are you constantly looking over your shoulder to see if you are about to be struck by a lightning bolt?
In this brief encouraging message, you will discover something that many people are afraid to believe.
I hope you will find something here to make you smile from the inside out.

Photo by Charl Durand on Pexels.com

NOTE: For a video of this message, click here.

NOTE: For a podcast of this message, click here.

He’s a real piece o’ work.

Usually, when we say someone is a real piece of work, we are using it in a negative fashion trying to say something about their character.

William Shakespeare used the same phrase in one of his numerous immortal quotes which he lifted from his reading of the Bible, but he was using it to glorify God’s creation.

What a piece of work is a man, how noble in reason, how
infinite in faculties, in form and moving how express and
admirable, in action how like an angel, in apprehension how like
a god! the beauty of the world, the paragon of animals.

When King David began to consider the greatness of God and His creation, he was astounded that God would even take notice of man.

When I look at your heavens,
the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars,
which you have set in place,
what is man that you are mindful of him,
and the son of man that you care for him?
Psa 8:3-4

Compared to the expanse and beauty of the heavens, how could one little puny individual account for anything?

As he pondered these things, God began to show David just how much He cared for us.

Yet you have made him a little lower than the heavenly beings
and crowned him with glory and honor.
You have given him dominion over the works of your hands;
you have put all things under his feet,
all sheep and oxen,
and also the beasts of the field,
the birds of the heavens,
and the fish of the sea,
whatever passes along the paths of the seas.
Psa 8:5-8

David understood our position in the created order of things.

Even though we were the last to be created, we were placed above the rest of God’s natural world.

Notice that he says we are made just a little lower than the angels.

Can you see the difference between King David’s thought and Charles Darwin’s?

David says we are a little lower than the angels, but Darwin says we are a little higher than the apes.

Which comparison would you prefer?

Mankind has been crowned with glory and honor in that humanity has dominion over all other created things of the world.

We find this passage quoted in Hebrews in a different context referring to Jesus.

However, before he gets to Jesus, the writer acknowledges what everyone knows to be the current reality.

Now in putting everything in subjection to him,
he left nothing outside his control.
At present, we do not yet see everything in subjection to him.
Heb. 2:8

That is certainly our reality, is it not?

Not everything is subject to us.

While we may understand shark behavior, we are not yet able to control those fearsome creatures.

Out in nature and unprotected, we are at the mercy of the beasts of the field.

We cannot simply tell that bear to lie down and expect it to obey us, because the reality is that not everything is subject to us at this time.

However, we begin to find a glimmer of hope for this situation as we continue with Hebrews—

But we see him who for a little while was made lower than the angels,
namely Jesus,
crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.
Heb 2:9

From His exalted position with the Father, Jesus was made a little lower than the angels for just a little while.

The writer of Hebrews then goes on through the rest of the letter to show how Jesus is exalted above everything the Jews held dear about their religion and history.

The conclusion of the matter is that we are to look only to Jesus and not to anything else for our salvation.

looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith,
who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross,
despising the shame,
and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.
Heb 12:2

We are told here that Jesus is the both the author and the finisher of our faith.

What does that mean?

My translation uses the word “founder” instead of author.

Founder can be interpreted as the one who formed the organization, but not necessarily the one who brought you into that organization.

However, when used in conjunction with the word perfector, or finisher of our faith, we are forced to see it in a different light.

Consider the way Paul refers to this aspect of our salvation.

And I am sure of this,
that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.
Phl 1:6

The good work of salvation was begun in us by an outside force and will be brought to completion by that same outside force—Jesus.

I am not sure I can belabor this point too much or too often.

It is ALL of God’s doing, not ours.

Again, to quote Shakespeare,

All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely Players

—(from “As You Like It”)

In this passage of melancholy, Shakespeare brings for the truth that not much is within our control.

We are simply here, coming on the scene, doing our thing, and leaving.

Viewed from a negative mindset, though, this would certainly produce an existential angst; but viewed from a place of understanding God’s love for His creation, it produces a hope that goes beyond what the eye can see.

Let’s continue with God’s working out His will in us.

One who heard us was a woman named Lydia, from the city of Thyatira, a seller of purple goods, who was a worshiper of God. The Lord opened her heart to pay attention to what was said by Paul.
Act 16:14

The Lord opened her heart to hear. If God had not done that, she could not have heard the message with any understanding.

But God, being rich in mercy,
because of the great love with which he loved us,
even when we were dead in our trespasses,
made us alive together with Christ
by grace you have been saved
Eph 2:4-5

We were dead, apart from God. We could not muster up the energy to even ask to be saved, let alone do anything to earn it.

We were made alive from our deadness in order to be able to enjoy a life lived with the Father.

he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness,
but according to his own mercy,
by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit,
Tit 3:5

As the TV infomercial says, “Wait!! There’s more!”

Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth,
that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.
Jas 1:18

We’re not done yet! There is still more!

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ!
According to his great mercy,
he has caused us to be born again to a living hope
through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,
1Pe 1:3

I have only begun to show you the many places where this truth is brought out; but we will stop there.

The question before us today is

“What is man that God is mindful of him?”

Out of the magnitude of God’s creation, why should humanity occupy such an exalted place?

What does God think of us?

After all, history shows that by and large we are not very likable creatures.

We constantly want to be better than our neighbor, to get more than they have, to take what they have for ourselves.

Yes, civilized society has put a tourniquet on that blood flow, but it still continues in more subtle forms as well as the outright slaughter of others for the sake of gain.

Loss of life in African countries continues as one group seeks to dominate another.

Just last week a church was attacked and people were put to the machete.

The ability to earn a living is hampered in Muslim countries like Pakistan.

The majority rules and they greatly hinder anyone who is not a Muslim from finding a decent job.

When we look at those kinds of events, we may sometimes wonder if God has any concern at all for us.

However, we cannot look at the situation for others to determine our own condition.

God will rectify those things in His time the same way He did with the early church when Paul so vehemently opposed it.

We can look at the thoughts presented earlier about how the Lord called us out of the darkness into His light.

In that place, we will see what He thinks of us; what He thinks of you.

This is a concept that many struggle with, but God loves you. He loves me.

We may not feel that love the same way we do for our spouse or close friend, but God loves you.

He can do nothing else, because

God is love.
1Jo 4:8

So.

What does God think of you?

And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem,
coming down out of heaven from God,
prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.
And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying,
“Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man.
He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God.
Rev 21:2-3

He thinks of you as a bride as she begins the walk down the aisle to meet her bridegroom.

You are beautiful.

You are loved.

Let that thought carry you through the week.

God loves me.

A LACK OF FAITH

What is the difference between unbelief and a lack of faith? Does God require you to have faith in order for you to be healed? Is God obligated to perform according to your faith?

I think most everyone has heard the phrase “health and wealth gospel.”

In a nutshell, the basic idea of the health and wealth gospel is that God wants us to be wealthy and healthy.

Note: For a video of this message, click here.

Note: For a podcast of this message, click here.

The downside of that preaching is the condemnation that occurs for those who do not experience wealth or health. And there are many who occupy that camp.

It is an especially American gospel, but it has been picked up by others in foreign lands.

While there is just enough truth in the things that are taught to make it sound legitimate, there is enough leaven in it to know that it should be avoided.

The condemnation I mentioned comes as a result of not measuring up to the promises of this particular gospel.

If you are lacking in either health or wealth, you are often told it is because of your lack of faith.

That is not very encouraging.

There is, though, a scriptural basis for that kind of negative thinking found in the NIV translation.

And he did not do many miracles there because of their lack of faith.
Mat 13:58 NIV

The problem here is that the translators have taken the word “unbelief”—which is how it is translated in every other translation including the KJV—and made it into a lack of faith.

You may ask what is the difference between unbelief and a lack of faith?

Good question.

A lack of faith is just that—non-existent—there is no faith present.

Unbelief is an active resistance to believing.

Compare how the NIV translates Mk 16:14 with the ESV

Later Jesus appeared to the Eleven as they were eating; he rebuked them for their lack of faith and their stubborn refusal to believe those who had seen him after he had risen.
Mar 16:14 NIV

Afterward he appeared to the eleven themselves as they were reclining at table, and he rebuked them for their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they had not believed those who saw him after he had risen.
Mar 16:14 ESV

Can you see the “refusal to believe?” It is an active resistance.

That is quite different from just a lack of faith—of not having faith.

However, for the sake of argument, let’s consider the concept of a simple lack of faith instead of an active resistance.

What happens for those who have no faith?

In the realm of the health and wealth gospel, if one is healed from a sickness, they are told it is because of the great faith and power of the minister.

If they are not healed, they are told it is because of the sick person’s lack of faith.

However, there is an often overlooked portion of scripture about Jesus’ ministry that we should consider from the Gospel of John.

In these lay a multitude of invalids–blind, lame, and paralyzed. One man was there who had been an invalid for thirty-eight years.When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he had already been there a long time, he said to him, “Do you want to be healed?” The sick man answered him, “Sir, I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up, and while I am going another steps down before me.” Jesus said to him, “Get up, take up your bed, and walk.”
John 5:3-8

This is the story of the Healing at the Pool of Bethesda.

There are a few things about this story that we should take note of as we consider the faith we need in order to be healed.

First thing is that there was a multitude of sick people in this place.

I have heard many people say that if they could be given the gift of faith, they would go into the hospital and get everybody healed.

However, I would offer that Jesus probably had more faith than all of us put together could ever muster.

Yet He only healed one person out of that multitude.

One.

Not everyone. Not two or three.

Just one.

Jesus approached that one man and asked him if he wanted to be healed.

What a question!!

Why do people go to the hospital?

To get healed.

Why were so many sick people lying around the pool of Bethesda?

They were hoping to be healed.

And Jesus asked him if he wanted to be healed.

But what was the man’s answer?

Jesus asked him a plain question to which a yes or a no would have been the proper response.

But, as is so often the case, the man could not answer such a direct question.

He offered an excuse, a reason why he had not yet been healed.

I experience that on a regular basis.

I will ask a closed ended question for a yes or no response, but instead I get an explanation as to why something is the way it is.

The man said he didn’t have anyone to help him be healed.

What did Jesus do? How did Jesus respond?

He healed the man.

Jesus said to him, “Get up, take up your bed, and walk.”
John 5:8

QUESTION—Where was the man’s faith?

Jesus did not ask him if he believed.

He did not ask him if he thought he could be healed.

Jesus simply took the matter into His own hands and healed the man who had no faith.

Jesus supplied what the man was lacking.

He met him where he was and gave him what he needed in order to believe.

The last time I was with you, I told you that God would meet anyone wherever they are with whatever they need.

This is just one more example of that.

We have here an example of someone being healed who had no faith in the Lord or faith to be healed.

He was destitute and only able to live with a negative mentality, but the Lord met his need.

Now, yes, I know this may be construed as an exception to the rule; but it is just that.

It shows that any hard and fast formula for healing is probably not a good idea.

The Story of Mr. Bloom

Mr. Bloom was dying of kidney failure when his daughter-in-law asked me to go pray for him.

He hadn’t eaten in a few days, and had not gone upstairs in weeks.

I went out of a sense of duty. I was not operating with any kind of faith other than obedience to the scriptures.

The man was not a believer as far as I knew. I had never met him.

He had never attended the church I pastored.

But, I went to his home, laid my hands on him and prayed that God would heal him.

That night he asked for supper and after he ate, he went upstairs, got cleaned up and went to bed.

He lived for 6 weeks waiting for his kidney transplant, which extended his life for many years after that.

I was supposed to be the great man of faith and power for the hour, but I had none.

God operated in spite of me, in spite of my lack of faith.

So. What’s the point of all this?

Why do we need to know these stories?

What can we learn from them?

We learn that there are no rules that we must follow in order to get something from God.

Too many people believe that if we just do the right things, say the right words, believe the right things, then God is obligated to perform what we desire.

God is not a puppet on a string being made to dance according to the whims of the people.

He is not a genie in a bottle which must be rubbed a certain way.

He is the God of the universe doing all according to His plan and purpose.

We do the best we can with whatever level of faith we have or don’t have.

But, in the end, whether we get what we wanted or not, we should rest our confidence and our faith on Rom. 8:28

And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.

Let us be like the man who came to Jesus and asked that his son be healed of what appeared to be epilepsy.

Jesus told him anything is possible for the one who believes, and the man cried out “I believe! Help me in the areas I don’t believe.”

Let us not be afraid to admit when our faith is weak or non-existent.

May the lord help our unbelief.