Biblical Foundations 4: God’s Hand (1 Peter 5)
For Part 2, please click HERE;
For part 1, please click HERE.
The last two weeks we have been digging into Romans 10:13-17 to begin looking at some of the cornerstones of the Biblical foundation of this local church:
Why does God have us attending HERE?
What is He doing in us and through us both in this building and outside of it?
We’ve discovered that this local church is about:
- Proclaiming the need for people to cry out to Jesus for salvation/forgiveness/new life, not just tips for better living…that the grace & love of Jesus looks brightest and most amazing when viewed against the blackness & awfulness of our sin…
- Proclaiming the Word of God—the Bible, the Rock, for all else is glittering sand…
- Preaching and proclaiming the Bible as the very Truth of God in the power of the Holy Spirit, not merely as one option among many and not through the personality of a motivational speaker…
- Preaching and proclaiming God-confidence, not self-confidence
We will continue this series by looking at 1 Peter 5:5-7 and Psalm 139:23-24:
1 Peter 5:5-7 (NIV)
5 In the same way, you who are younger, submit yourselves to your elders. All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because,
“God opposes the proud
but shows favor to the humble.”
6 Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. 7 Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.
Psalm 139:23-24 (NIV)
23 Search me, God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts.
24 See if there is any offensive way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting.
As Christians, even after receiving Jesus as Savior and being reborn from above as a brand new person with a brand new name and identity through faith in Him, even after this glorious re-birth we must wrestle with sin and humbly place ourselves before God regularly, on His operating table, so that He can give us spiritual angioplasties and clean us and enable us to grow healthy and strong as His children…we ASK Him to point out our sin so that we can confess, be forgiven AND be made clean to sin less and less…
- After a person gets the expensive gift of a new physical heart, after they have received a transplant to save their earthly lives (where another HAD to die themselves to offer them the new heart), do they continue to abuse their new heart through constantly eating junk food, never exercising, and so forth?
- Spiritually, after a person receives the priceless gift of the heart of Jesus Christ through His death on the Cross (where He HAD to die in our place), do we continue to casually and non-chalantly sin the same way we used to, to abuse the new heart of Christ in us where the Holy Spirit Personally lives?
BY NO MEANS!
And so this humbling of ourselves under God’s mighty hand is one of the cornerstone ways that we follow Jesus…
After we become Christians, no sin can keep us out of heaven/change our identity as God’s children, but all sin seeks to:
-stunt our growth (Isaiah 61:3—“oaks of righteousness to display the LORD’s splendor”)
-discredit our witness to others (Acts 1)
-extinguish our joy & peace (“quenching the Spirit”)
-build up walls to block our intimacy with God the Father
Like mud on a flashlight
Like gunk on fuel injectors in a car
Like cholesterol clogging arteries
Like a steady diet of coffee to children…
…all sin seeks to make us as miserable and ineffective as possible in our Christian life! All sin seeks to make our brief time on earth on the way to heaven as hellish as possible!
Why, the very next verse in our previous passage in 1 Peter talks about this, how the devil seeks to knock us off course/off mission through sin. He can’t actually throw us into prison—if he could he would! But he tempts us through sin to LOCK OURSELVES in prison and voluntarily walk away from God’s mission for us! Like fans who taunt and scream at the visiting team—they can’t physically run on the field and prevent the opposing team from playing, but they do what they can to intimidate and threaten to keep us in the dug-out/on the sidelines or to make us so tense/focused on the volume of their jeers and not on the Voice of Jesus that our ability to play is affected!
1 Peter 5:8 (NIV)
8 Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.
All the devil can do is roar—his bark isn’t WORSE than his bite; he doesn’t HAVE a bite! But he roars ferociously and convincingly to get us to CHOOSE to sin and allow sin to devour us…he doesn’t force us to drink the poison but convinces us to choose to drink it! If the devil could have pushed Jesus off the top of the Temple, the devil would have done so! But he couldn’t; all he could do was try to tempt Jesus to jump Himself. If the devil could have forced Adam & Eve to sin by stuffing the fruit in their mouths, he would have done so! But all he could do was try to tempt them to choose to eat the fruit…same is true with us…
Genesis 4:6-7 (NIV)
6 Then the Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? 7 If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.”
And so as God teaches us to regularly place ourselves under His hand in confession, repentance, and conviction of sin, we will grow to reach maturity in Christ, we will be the tree in Psalm 1 that is in full green leaf and with ripe juicy fruit in the dead of winter!
- Imagine seeing an apple tree ready to be harvested in late February, displaying the character and splendor of God (Isaiah 61:3) even though we suffer and hurt and face all kinds of trials in life! Imagine the testimony to non-Christians if we are close to Jesus, full of His joy, having Him brightly shine through us, and being clothed in HIS character even as we suffer and endure hardship after hardship!!!!!
But so few of us Christians reach such maturity; we don’t want to be TOO CLEAN so we celebrate our mud and sin and imperfections as if our souls were a Jeep Wrangler—we glory in the mud!; we are afraid to regularly place ourselves under the hand of God’s conviction and discipline because we think it means that we have to walk around all day feeling miserable…we think being clothed with the holiness of God means we have to walk around every day wearing pleated jeans—YUCK!—for all eternity and so we don’t do much to grow in maturity as a Christian! We like our own wardrobe…
But Jesus offers us HIS character—HIS own righteousness—as our clothing! This is not fashionable to the sinful world but is the very wardrobe of heaven!
And God doesn’t want us to feel miserable all the time by confessing our sin to Him! Remember, God only disciplines those He loves! He disciplines us with JUST the right amount of harshness in order to grow us & produce HIS fruit in us, fruit like JOY, PEACE and LOVE!
Romans 7:13-23 talks about this—how the Word of God points out our sin and shows us how sick & dead we really are…
…but look at what this God-discipline and sin-diagnosing produces in Paul—not hopelessness, but HOPE!
“What a wretched man I am!
[God diagnosed Paul’s sin—Paul’s worse than he thought!]
“Who will rescue me from this body of death?
[Paul can do NOTHING to save himself—he realizes he needs a Rescuer! Realizing the terribleness of his situation causes him to stop trying to save himself and to start looking for the Savior!]
“THANKS BE TO GOD—THROUGH JESUS CHRIST OUR LORD!”
[Paul is left not feeling terrible but feeling thankful and joyful! There IS a Rescuer, there IS a Savior! Jesus Christ is Paul’s LORD, not just Paul’s homeboy! Paul’s sin is worse than he thought but the Savior is more amazing than he thought! THIS is why we need to regularly humble ourselves before God so that He can diagnose our sin—it eventually leads us to joyful thanksgiving! God brought Paul low through diagnosing Paul’s sin in order to bring Paul high by curing him of his sin! And He wants to do the same with us…]
In this humbling of ourselves before the LORD where He shows us our sin, we must remember that:
- the devil is a lumberjack seeking to cut us to CHOP us down/condemn;
- God is the Gardener seeking to cut us to GROW us up/convict, to prune us like a surgeon so that we will have MORE joy, not less, MORE peace, not less, MORE strength, not less!
Talk to a person who has had their arteries cleaned out after being 99% blocked!
They don’t feel WORSE (though of course they are sore for a while after surgery); they feel BETTER!
If we humble ourselves before God in quiet, in silence, in prayer and in Bible reading on a regular basis, God will confront us with our sin, and that is why many Christians don’t humble ourselves under God’s mighty hand—we are ashamed like Adam & Eve and we still hide from God behind our fig leaves!
But God won’t make us stare at our sin forever; even HE will eventually forget our sin! So why do we think He wants us to stare at it forever???
- The surgeon doesn’t cut out your tumor and then tape it to your forehead for the rest of your life! No! The surgeon cuts it out and gets RID of the nasty tumor to make you healthy and whole again! But the surgeon cannot cut if we never go in and submit to check ups, blood work, physicals, etc.
There may be pain in the night (God’s discipline), but joy comes in the morning (God’s healing and growth).
God’s anger lasts for a moment, but His love forever more!
God invites us to turn ourselves into Him, so to speak, on a regular basis as Christians—doesn’t this often get us a lesser punishment in a court of law?
God invites us to trust Him by willingly placing ourselves under His mighty hand on a regular basis…NOT under His thumb so He can bury us in our sin but in His might hand so He can lift us OUT of our sin!!!! Not under God’s FIST to hurt us but under His HAND to heal us…
But in the past we have been through so many knife fights with the devil and condemnation that we run or right when the LORD approaches us with His scalpel of conviction, when the LORD approaches us with His pruning shears…and so this is where trusting the character of God comes in—we can submit to His work of growth in us because of His impeccable resume and character in the Bible…
- Many dogs will cautiously sniff the hand of a person in order to sense if they are trustworthy…Let’s sniff the mighty hand of God now in order to help us trust His hand; let’s look at some of the other references to God’s hand in the Bible:
God’s Hand Guides Us Personally
Psalm 73:21-25 (NIV)
21 When my heart was grieved
and my spirit embittered,
22 I was senseless and ignorant;
I was a brute beast before you.
23 Yet I am always with you;
you hold me by my right hand.
24 You guide me with your counsel,
and afterward you will take me into glory.
25 Whom have I in heaven but you?
And earth has nothing I desire besides you.
God holds our hand to guide us, and the only way a parent can hold a child’s hand is with one of the parent’s very own hands (no, God DOESN’T use leashes with us!)! In these verses, even after the psalm-writer was terrible towards God, God’s hand guided him personally/up-close, not shoving him from behind but going before him to clear the path for his safety, to bring him to where God wanted him to be! What a loving hand God has! Smells pretty good so far, right?! 🙂
God’s Hand Secures Us & Reminds Us Of God’s Constant Presence With Us
Psalm 139:7-10 (NIV)
7 Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?
8 If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
9 If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,
10 even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast.
My children often ask me to lift them up to monkey bars so they can climb across, but the frequently remind me to hold them tightly, to make sure they don’t fall, because they can’t get across the bars by themselves.
God’s loving hand does this to us as well across the monkey bars of life, securing us, protecting us, helping us get to the other side! Now that doesn’t mean that nothing bad/painful will ever happen to us EVER, but it does mean that nothing bad/painful will happen to us FORever!
God’s Hand Helps Us To Not Be Afraid
Isaiah 41:13-14 (NIV)
13 For I am the Lord your God
who takes hold of your right hand
and says to you, Do not fear;
I will help you.
14 Do not be afraid, you worm Jacob,
little Israel, do not fear,
for I myself will help you,” declares the Lord,
your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel.
God’s Hand Helps Us To Reach Our Potential
Isaiah 42:5-7 (NIV)
5 This is what God the Lord says—
the Creator of the heavens, who stretches them out,
who spreads out the earth with all that springs from it,
who gives breath to its people,
and life to those who walk on it:
6 “I, the Lord, have called you in righteousness;
I will take hold of your hand.
I will keep you and will make you
to be a covenant for the people
and a light for the Gentiles,
7 to open eyes that are blind,
to free captives from prison
and to release from the dungeon those who sit in darkness.
…to be who He made us to be and to do what He made us to do. That is, to lovingly/humbly/gently show others the love and forgiveness and new life and adoption into His family that God is offering through Jesus to everyone in the world!
God’s Hand Blesses Us
Genesis 49:22-26 (NIV)
22 “Joseph is a fruitful vine,
a fruitful vine near a spring,
whose branches climb over a wall.[a]
23 With bitterness archers attacked him;
they shot at him with hostility.
24 But his bow remained steady,
his strong arms stayed[b] limber,
because of the hand of the Mighty One of Jacob,
because of the Shepherd, the Rock of Israel,
25 because of your father’s God, who helps you,
because of the Almighty,[c] who blesses you
with blessings of the skies above,
blessings of the deep springs below,
blessings of the breast and womb.
26 Your father’s blessings are greater
than the blessings of the ancient mountains,
than[d] the bounty of the age-old hills.
Let all these rest on the head of Joseph,
on the brow of the prince among[e] his brothers.
God blesses us with His hand, but not primarily with money! Can we please once and for all cut the terrible leash that connects “blessing” with money!?
Rather, in this passage God reveals that His hand blesses us…
- With stability through the stress of life (his bow remained steady/arms limber),
- With refreshment (from deep springs),
- With nourishment (from the breast),
- With life (from the womb).
What an amazing hand God has!!! WE CAN TRUST HIS HAND!!! GO LOW UNDER IT TO GO HIGH ON IT!
God’s Hand Warns Us.
Isaiah 8:11: “This is what the LORD says to me with His strong hand upon me, warning me not to follow the way of this people…”
Are we blending in with the culture? Are we camouflage Christians? Or is the LORD shining through us with grace AND Truth? Are we loved more by the culture today than Jesus was by the culture in His day?
God’s Hand Protects/Preserves Our Salvation
John 10:28-30: “I [Jesus] give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. 30 I and the Father are one.”
Let me close with this…
When by the grace of God we receive the grace of God, Jesus as Savior—when cry out to Him for salvation not just improvement!—the stain (guilt) of our sin is taken away in a legal sense—our legal record/rap sheet is wiped clean with zero crimes on the record (and with no erase marks to faintly read our past sins)! This is called justification…
But in a practical sense, in a daily-living sense, the Holy Spirit removes the stain of our sinful living/habits/false beliefs over time throughout the rest of our earthly lives…this is called sanctification…
This is why we need to humble ourselves before God the Father in repentance over and over again on a regular basis; not because we lose heaven every time we sin and then gain it back every time we confess, but so that we can have our spiritual cholesterol cleaned out on earth to keep us full and flowing and healthy and strong with the joy and peace and love and grace and wisdom of God!
We looked at some of the many passages on the trustworthiness of the hand of God…let us not forget the ultimate example of this:
Jesus’ HANDS and feet were pierced on the cross to offer us forgiveness, new life, and adoption…The mighty hand of God that the Father asks us to willingly and submissively humble ourselves under are the pierced and nail-scarred hands of Christ Himself…Trust Him, loved ones, trust Him…He has PROVEN His trustworthiness…though He comes at you with scalpel and pruning shears, remember that He allowed those Roman soldiers to come at Him with knives, hammers, a spear and a crown of thorns…He has the glorious scars to prove it…