Difficult Questions – Week 1

By January 6, 2019 Sermon Notes

INTRO: Let’s think about this Puzzle as our reality.

Everything that exists in the world, everything that we experience are pieces in this puzzle.

How a person puts the puzzle of reality together depends largely on how you view reality.

3 approaches to assembling our puzzling reality

  1. Matter Only View. – All there is stuff. The pieces of the puzzle are all there is. No outside information, no box. Just time and chance arranging things as they should be.
  • Mind Only View – Stuff is all just an illusion. Those pieces of the puzzle you see on the card table, they don’t really exist. All there is now is the picture on the box. Find yourself in the picture on the box.

    Confusing I know, but the mind view is a real approach.  New Age, Buhhdism.

  • The Biblical View. We can work to make some of them fit by trial and error. The good news. There is a picture on the box that we can refer to know how to make sense of life. Actually there is an artist behind the picture and his desire in making and arranging the pieces as he has it that we would know him and experience him.

This year we are starting a new sermon series.

TODAY – I want us to make sure we understand the Picture of Reality that the bible paints for us.

The bible is the story of Reality. If we take it, understand it and apply it, it works.

In the coming weeks and months we plan to discuss more of the details in the picture the bible paints and why we can trust the picture.

As the year progresses we will look at different parts of the puzzle and see how they fit into our existence.

Puzzle pieces like, marriage and relationships, politics, our work, sexuality, gender, etc…

If you are like me, you might think wow, I am glad we are starting this series… These are confusing times.

Turns out confusion is nothing new. In Acts 17, Paul stepped onto a confusing scene.

He encountered people who were trying to fit the puzzle of life together without looking at the puzzle box.

Paul stood before them and said, let me tell you what the picture on the box is so that you will know how the puzzle fits together.

Acts 17:22-33

“Men of Athens, I perceive that in every way you are very religious. 23 For as I passed along and observed the objects of your worship, I found also an altar with this inscription: ‘To the unknown god.’ What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you. 24 The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, 25 nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything. 26 And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, 27 that they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us, 28 for
“‘In him we live and move and have our being’;
as even some of your own poets have said,
“‘For we are indeed his offspring.’

29 Being then God’s offspring, we ought not to think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone, an image formed by the art and imagination of man. 30 The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent, 31 because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.”

32 Now when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked. But others said, “We will hear you again about this.”

Let me summarize Paul’s speech.

There is a God who made all of this, he can be known and you and I actually were made for him. We’ve lived in ignorance, ignoring God but now he calls us to repent. The time of repentance has come because Jesus has come into the world and been raised from the dead.

There is an artist behind the picture on the puzzle box. He designed all the pieces to fit together and he left us with the box to know how things fit together.

The Bible is the story of reality. It is the picture on the puzzle box.

Three foundational ideas from Paul’s speech that form the picture of reality.

(1)God is There

Psalm 19 The heavens declare the glory of the Lord. The skies proclaim His handiwork. Day after day they pour forth speech.

Romans 1:20 For since the creation of the world – God’s invisible quality his eternal power and divine nature have been clearly seen being understood from what has been made so that men are without excuse.

Romans 2:15 Those who do not have the law still follow the law and show the law of God is written on their hearts.

There is a sense of “oughtness” in all of us. Things ought to be a certain way

People “ought” to be treated a certain way.

Paul says this awareness of “oughtness”confirms God is There.

God is at the beginning of the Story. The whole things starts with Him.

If God is not at the beginning, what is?

Matter? Gravity?

Where does gravity come from …. where does matter come from …

I recently watched a PBS special on a space probe sent out by a group called New Horizons.

In the special a scientist explained one theory of planetary formation in which what they described  pebbles are drawn to one another and stick together.

They compared this theory of planetary formation to dust bunnies forming under your couch or bed… or the mother load of dust bunnies….your refrigerator.

I understand dust bunnies being formed… but dust are made from something.

There is dust in dust bunnies and a force that brings that dust together.

Time and chance does not create dust bunnies.

Time and chance cannot put a puzzle together.

One Scientist on PBS made a great observation

He said – “This probe may help us understand how the Earth was formed but it will not help us understand “Why” we are here.

Science may tell us some of the what and some of the how but not why.

Paul answers the why question. You and I are here for God.

(2)Everything, Everyone was made for Him

He does not need

He is complete and perfect

He did not create to satisfy himself.

He likes what he made in this world in you and in me.

Let’s jump to the favorite part of the picture… Ourselves!

How do I look in this picture? How do I fit in?

Turns out in the biblical story we are more than just matter and dust.

We are special. Not because we are strong or smart or have opposable thumbs.

WE have innate value. WE are special in quality not in quantity.

According to the Biblical story, Tiffany, my wife was not made for me.

She was made for God. She is God’s possession.

My marriage gets messed up if Tiffany becomes – my possession

Make dinner, make me happy. Take care of these kids.

Live, exist, for my happiness alone.

People as a part of God’s creation are not just objects for our pleasure or obstacles to our happiness, they are priceless treasures.

When I twist a person into object made for me eventually lose their value.

You are not as pretty any more.

You don’t make me laugh anymore.

You annoy me. You are frustrating. It is hard to care for you.

I don’t like you.

You and I were not meant to be used up and discarded.

We are more than just matter.

Humanity is a treasure made by God for God.

He does not need us. He just like us and delights in us.

I was not made for me. I exist for God

Rom 12:2 Offer your bodies as living sacrifices.

We may not like this picture but we realize everything belongs to Him.

We are tenants and he is the landlord.

His purpose in all of what we experience in His world is that we (his treasured creation ) would seek Him and find Him even though He is not hiding.

Third thing Paul tells us in the story.

(3)God has not left us alone

What has God given us?

A.He’s given us each other.

The gift of friendship and relationship is a precious gift because we are more than just a collection of dust and chemicals.

We have each other to help us put the puzzle together and enjoy this experience we call life

We don’t rule and possess each other but we get to love, serve, and bless one another. We get to be friends and companions.

B.He has given us the scriptures.

 For the next few months we will look deeper at the reliability of the scriptures. They are breathed out by God and are useful

Terry mentioned this a few weeks ago.

Let me remind you of some reasons to trust the scriptures.

1. Accurate in Prediction.

Isaiah predicted the exile of Israel. it happened –

Isaiah Predicted Christ’s coming it happened

2. Accurate in Description

What Paul described in Athens lines up with what we observe in the world. Both out there the heavens and in here-His law written on on hearts.

3. Accurate in Prescription.

Turns out, if you do what the bible says, it works. If tried and carried out over time faithfully the puzzle pieces of life will fit together. Time and obedience are Key!

C.He’s given us the Holy Spirit.

A personal being who is fully God not a force who in dwells each believer reminding us of the truth. He is active in the world convicting of sin and the reality of the scriptures.

D. He has given us Jesus.

A person who was exceptionally wise and good and who claimed to be God. Jesus is a singularity in all of Human history.

Some say, “Jesus at least the Jesus of the bible is a myth.”

There is no evidence to support that claim.

Actually the evidence points to the opposite.

Will Durant Pulitzer Prize author of The Story of Civilization.

 No one reading these scenes (NT) can doubt the reality of the figure behind them. . . . After two centuries of higher criticism, the outlines of the life, character and teachings of Christ remain reasonably clear and constitute the most fascinating feature in the history of Western man.

Paul said to the men in Athens, you can know that Jesus is the man you should expect because he came back to life

Romans 1:4. Jesus was declared with power to be the I son of God by His resurrection from the dead. Jesus Christ our Lord.

He is man.

He claimed to be God and proved it in the resurrection.

Problem – If God has not left us alone, why do I feel so alone at times? Why does the world seem hopeless and full of hurt?

If matter is all there, then you feel alone because you actually are alone.

That person staring back at you is nothing special, they are a collection of cells and energy. The things you feel – electricity and chemical reactions nothing more because you are nothing more than stuff. That does not jive with our experience of reality.

Christian, Buddhist, Atheist, Agnostic, American,’ Canadian. mexican, persian, We all realize something is wrong with the world.

The biblical view says you feel alone, something seems wrong with the world because you were made for God but have ignored him.

Acts 17:30 The times of ignorance God overlooked but now he commands all people everywhere to repent

Ignorance – ignore the knowledge you have. (The heavens declare, our hearts testify)

Now we live in a time of on-going ignoring of God.

Our existence, the world and our interaction with it is broken.

Those who ignore God to the end of their life on Earth will receive their desire. God will stop “bugging them” and they will be completely separated from God in hell.

Those who do as Paul said and repent will be restored to relationship with God now and forever.

You might say, “Can’t God just overlook the brokenness and put things back?”

No – because we’ve made a mess of HIS world.

We are tenants – He is the landlord

We tore up the carpet, punched holes in the walls, and broke the sink. Someone has to pay.

Jesus Christ, God in the flesh, came and died to pay our debt.

God invites us to repent and trust his payment for the damage we’ve done to ourselves and to His world.


A very important word in the Bible and in the overall story of reality.

We’ve talked about the word before. It means have a change of mind.

Sometimes our ideas are right and they correspond with the picture on the puzzle box.

Sometimes they do not. And when they don’t we Repent.

Repent is not “feel bad” though sometimes we do, but repent is change direction. This way is wrong. This piece doesn’t fit here, I will put it elsewhere. —

This year as we pick up and examine different pieces of the puzzle of life and try to make them fit we will be left with the question

“Who will we trust?” “Where and how does politics, marriage, gender, sexuality, fit and how do these things work?”

Besides trusting the picture of the bible, What are other options?

Trust your feelings. “Follow your heart”

Unfortunately your heart will tell you what you want to hear.

“If I feel this way it must be right.”

Sincere authentic feelings and desires cannot change reality.

Trust the “Experts”.

Employing the help of others can help us get things right, but just because everyone agrees does not make an idea wrong or right.

I am glad that Doctors wash their hands now before surgery.

There was a time when they didn’t.

There will be a time Rodney when people do away with the idea of God. Yes we are living in that time a time a ignoring God, but he does not go away.

Whole cultures have tried and are still trying life without God. It is called Communism and I think the results are in, the experiment went horribly wrong.

The reality is God whether we acknowledge Him or not is here.

His Purpose in everything that he has made and that he allows is that we seek Him and find him.

Life, our existence here and in the future will make sense and work if we trust the picture God has painted on the box and communicated through the bible.

In all of life’s experiences, he is training us to trust him.


Train for Trust.

How do we train to Trust?

  1. Acknowledge Ownership
  2. Give Thanks
  3. Faithfully Steward

We have to train to trust him with the pieces we’ve been given.

Ourselves – we exist because he said we should. I don’t exist for myself.

Our Spouses

Our friendships

Our vocations

Our possessions

God this life you have given me ultimately belongs to you.

You will let me do with it as I wish, but you designed it. You know how it works.

Thank you for giving me this body and this existence.

You have put me here not just for my own pleasure but you made me so that I would seek you and find you even though you are not hiding.

While I carry on this existence I want to live to please you and bless other people.

We have to train to trust him with the pieces we desire.

Desire for a spouse

Desire for children

Desire for more different, better, more fulfilling job.

Desire for physical health.

Desire for …

In the Biblical story God has given us everything we need.

In the Biblical story this broken world is not our ultimate home.

We were made for God. If we can’t have what we want does that mean he is not good or not there. It means this is His world and he knows what’s best.

Does that mean we shouldn’t desire, different or better or more?

No it means that if we desire, we ask but we still train to trust.

We train to trust with the pieces we want taken away.

Paul had something like this in his life. The scripture calls it his “thorn in the flesh”

He asked multiple times but God did not remove it.

Christians and non-Christians alike fall prey to this idea.

“God remove this difficulty, make things easier or you are not God!”

God take away this pain that my child is suffering!

God fix this broken marriage! Or I’m done with you!

Imagine yourself in an airplane on your way to Denver. You want to stop off in Hays.

You go to the cockpit and say, to the pilot

“Can we pull over in Hays?”

The pilot says, NO. You say… fine then, I’m done with you! Get out of the chair I’m gonna fly this thing. How is that going to turn out?

We can do the same thing with God. I have this hurt this desire and if I can’t have it fixed, I’m done with you.

Instead we take it to him, acknowledge his ownership, give thanks, and ask for help.

Over time as our relationship of trust grows we hear Him whisper.

“That piece does not go there.”

“Try that piece over here.”

Over time we are putting together a life that consists of a beautiful wonderful existence. Not perfect but one in which God is acknowledged as the owner and more of the pieces fit together.

God help us this year to train to trust you with all the different pieces of our lives. Many pieces are puzzling but you are a God who has not left us alone.

Thank you.

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