I am a part of the God Story and you are too. It can be easy to look at the Bible as a haphazard collection of sixty-six books from different eras, different regimes, and different authors, written with different intents.
It can be equally easy to see our fragmented lives as a haphazard collection of events with little to nothing holding it all together.
Neither one of these vantage points is accurate.
I believe our lives change when we see the threads that run through the great story of God’s people found in the Bible, and when we see our lives as a continuation of that story.
If there is something in you that says where you are right now is not how the story is supposed to end, then you need to hear the God Story.
Week 1 - Introduction - Recap
Life is a story. We don't know what's going to happen next until we turn the page. We don't understand all that's gone on in the past unless we go back and read. The Bible can be a confusing book. Is it history? Is it myth? Fact or Fiction? Maybe it's a little bit of all of it. The important thing is The Bible tells "The God Story," revealing to us who God is and God's relationship with humanity.
There are recurring themes, or threads, that bind all of the books of The Bible together. Even though the stories are told by multitudes of people over thousands of years, there is One story they all tell. The first thread we discover in The God Story, is God speaks with humans because God desires a relationship with us.
Read the first three chapters of Genesis, and you will find that God speaks and interacts with creation, and especially interacts with humans. In fact, humans are set apart from the rest of creation by being made in the Image of God (God's likeness).
God still speaks today. God is speaking to you, inviting you to discover your role in The God Story.
Week 2 - Suspension Of Disbelief - Recap
This past Sunday we continued Part 2 of our sermon series "The God Story". The Bible is a book made up of many different stories told by lots of different people over thousands of years. Yet, there are threads that bring all of those stories together to form one story, The God Story.
In week two (March 16), we recognized that God makes a promise and it comes true. Just as God promised Abraham and Sarah would have a child even in their old age. You can read the story for yourself in Genesis 18:1-15 and the surrounding chapters. Abraham and Sarah had to "suspend their disbelief" and have faith that God's promise would come true.
The "Suspension of Disbelief" is what helps us get the most out of the story. We read all kinds of books and watch all kinds of movies where impossible things happen: James Bond's crazy stunts, Star Wars' light-speed travel, etc. And some of the best movies are true stories, where people accomplish or overcome seemingly impossible things against all odds. We too, in order to get the most from The God Story, are asked to Suspend our Disbelief, and walk by faith.
Week 3 - Rising Action - Recap
For Part 3 of our series "The God Story," we found ourselves in Exodus 16 and Numbers 11. Here, the story is developing, much like the literary term Rising Action describes. Our hero, God, must face secondary conflicts in pursuit of overcoming the main conflict, Sin (separation from God). The conflict here is that God's People, The Israelites, are stuck in slavery in Egypt. God dramatically rescues them from slavery and leads them toward The Promised Land, but first, they must go through The Wilderness. So, they are now Free, but hungry and homeless. They complain against God and wish they were still slaves. But God shows how great God is and provides Manna, Bread from Heaven, for them to eat.
In our life story, we find ourselves wandering in the wilderness, wondering how we will ever survive or make it. We think, "If I could just get back to the 'good old days,' I'd be fine like I was then." But this story assures us of this: God Will Provide Everything You Need for the Journey. This is Thread #3 that we see time and again throughout the biblical story: God provides. God gives us assurance through whatever we face that He will provide what we need. You may be going through something that seems impossible, but God will provide what you need. Indeed, Jesus, in John chapter six, claims to be The Bread from Heaven, or God's provision. As the story continues, we discover that Jesus Christ overcomes the main conflict: Sin. Jesus Christ is God's provision for your life, eternal life. Rely on Christ.
Week 4 - Inciting Incident - Recap
This week we read from 1 Samuel 16 about David being anointed king of Israel. He was just a young boy at the time, somewhere around 10-13 years-old. He was not the oldest, strongest or most kingly looking male of his family, but God didn't care. God knew that David was a man after God's own heart. God knew that David's heart would be loyal and true to God, so God picked him. Even though David didn't measure up by human standards, God could see his potential and his heart.
David's whole life story changed in that moment. It was his "Inciting Incident," from which the rest of his life developed. Here's Thread #4 for you to remember from this week: God calls the unlikely and gives them a better story. I don't know what your "Inciting Incident" is, but I pray you hear God's call, even if you feel inadequate and/or unqualified, God has amazing things in store for you. Hear God's call and respond, and hang on for the journey God is taking you on!
Week 5 - The Soundtrack - Recap
A Soundtrack is an important part of any movie. It can really make or break a scene, and it usually writes that movie into our memory. I only have to play a few seconds of some soundtracks, and you can name the film it's from. God's story has a soundtrack: Nothing can separate you from the love of God in Christ Jesus. God's steadfast Love endures forever. You cannot escape God's love. That's the melody being sung over you. It's the Soundtrack of The God Story. God's love is recurring and relentless. God's love never fails and never gives up.
Zephaniah 3:17 reminds us that God sings over us, quieting us with His Love. Have you ever witnessed a mother calm a baby by singing? This scripture says God does the same thing for you! Even though you've made mistakes, doubted God, lacked faith, hurt others, participated with injustice, lied, etc. God still proclaims his love over you. God's steadfast love endures forever. It's a song that is constantly being sung, like the soundtrack to life. Yes, we read in the scripture that God gets upset and angry with His people when they sin and reject Him. But time and again, God usually holds back on the full weight of punishment because God loves His People, and God is working to fulfill His promise to them. So God Loves and forgives. Which is our final thread of the story: Thread #5 God's love is recurring and relentless.
Week 6 - Waiting For Resolution - Recap
March Madness and the NCAA Basketball Tournament is one of the largest sporting events of the year. An enormous number of people fill out brackets and watch to see upsets. The best upsets are the ones that happen with a last second buzzer-beater. Shoot, even if it's not an upset, seeing a last-second buzzer beater is an intense feeling. The excitement leading up to that moment is incredible. The shot is in the air for what seems like eternity before you know whether it's going to go in or not. That's why so many people enjoy watching those games--to see how it will turn out.
Much of our life is found waiting on Resolution. We wait for that deal, that relationship, that answer, that job, and so on. We are waiting for it all to make sense, waiting for it to come together, waiting for Resolution. Much of the God story finds its characters waiting for Resolution. Abraham waits for the son that is promised to him by God. At the age of seventy-five he receives that promise, and then he waits decades to see it resolved. The Israelites wait to enter the Promised Land; they are released from slavery and wait for decades to make it to their future home. The Hebrew people call out for a king, and then it turns out the kings they get are not the kings they wanted. And so they wait for the King, the Messiah, the anointed future king. They wait for centuries. Finally, Jesus arrives, and at the beginning of the week people rejoice. They cry out: We Need You! Save Us Now! They think he's going to set the world straight and be a political powerhouse King establishing the Jews in their rightful place. But, Jesus says, wait and see. By the end of the week, Jesus is not keeping the people happy. He is arrested, beaten, mocked, tortured, and crucified. He dies and is buried.
We too face brokenness and difficulty and cry out "God we need you!" And God comes. To all broken communities of people, God comes. To broken marriages, God comes. To broken finances, God comes. To broken churches, God comes. To broken nations, God comes. God comes, and by the end of the week we have forgotten and we cry out, “Crucify!” And do you know what? He comes again.
It’s pretty likely that you are at a place in your story where you are waiting for Resolution. That’s where we spend most of our time. Most of the time is the mean time. You’re waiting for some deal to go through, somebody to pick up the phone, somebody to come home, some check to be mailed, some wrong to be made right. That’s where most of the story takes place, any good story. And to that place, God comes. Jesus comes for you.
Week 7 - The Twist Ending - Recap
We have talked about the inevitability of uncertainty in our stories, that in a story, you don’t know what is coming next. You don’t know what the next chapter will be. It is a mystery we live into. Life is more like a story than a formula or a timeline.
Big days don’t always go as we expected, and this can be disappointing. In fact, Jesus' Disciples found this out when Jesus was crucified and buried. They had expected Jesus to be a Savior, but now he was dead.
Sometimes, things don't always go as we expected, and it's a good thing. The Disciples discovered this too. After they finished celebrating the Sabbath, they went to check on Jesus' body in the tomb, and it was gone! He was alive! This is what they call in story, or in a movie, the Twist Ending. Sometimes it’s called the big reveal, or the moment of truth. Finally, it all makes sense. Most great stories do this. When hope is lost, the unthinkable happens.
This story, this Jesus story, says I can take whatever you’ve got and give you the best prize. It is a Twist Ending to your story, perhaps. You didn’t see this coming: that Jesus could come and take your thread of betrayal, deceit, messing up, or whatever it is that you think defines you, and speak to you. He speaks your name in a way that you will know it’s him and keeps his promise of life and hope to you and gives you all you need. He writes you a better story, unlikely though you may be, and you see how relentless Jesus is in telling you that he loves you.
It changes everything when you say, “I belong to him. I want his story for my life.”