I Believe in God the Father, the Almighty

I Believe in God the Father, the Almighty

Journey of Lent – what guides us in following Jesus through all of the challenges we face in this world and gives us the strength to remain faithful and reach the end of the race.  As a church family – decided to focus on the Apostles’ Creed.  See the Apostles’ Creed as something like stepping stones that help to give us security and lead us forward in our journey from Death to LIFE!

The Apostles’ Creed – is the earliest summary of our faith in Jesus that was used by Christians in many different locations.  It got the name Apostles’ Creed from the belief that each of the original Apostles contributed a portion of the overall Creed.  Earliest pieces of the Creed – can be traced back to 140.  It appeared as a whole summary of faith about 390 in Milan Italy.  Moved in to widespread usage about 600.

As we start our study of the Apostles’ Creed – thought it might help to dig into the basics.  Start by asking what is a Creed?  Comes from the first word of the Apostle’s Creed in Latin – the word is CREDO.  It means I BELIEVE.  It is a summary – here are the most important things I Believe.

To start our study of the Apostles Creed – it’s good to contemplate – What do I mean when I say I BELIEVE something?  How do my beliefs affect my life?  Where do my beliefs come from?

Think for a moment about the word believe.  We use it at lots of different levels.  We have Low level beliefs.  If you are a Buffalo Bills fan – every fall you are challenged to Believe or Bill-Lieve that this will be the year.  Then there are your beliefs about cars?  Some people believe Fords are better than Chevy’s or Hyundai’s are better than Hondas.

Then we have Bigger beliefs that we wrestle with.  One of the bigger beliefs our nation is wrestling with is the 2nd Amendment to the Constitution.  What do we believe about the right to bear arms?  Really big beliefs – Founders of our nation had when they wrote – Declaration of Independence We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.

Would you say that beliefs are powerful?  How powerful are beliefs?  Adolf Hitler’s belief in the superiority of the Aryan race led to the horrors of Nazism and World War II.  Mother Teresa’s belief that every person is a child of God who should be cared for led to the creation of the Sisters of Charity which has grown into the biggest hospital system in the world.

Our study is obviously going to focus on our beliefs about God.  I think about how my own beliefs about God emerged.  I grew up as a nominal Christian.  Then I made a decision in college to get serious about growing as a disciple of Jesus.  Took another big step when I came to the belief that God had called me into Pastoral ministry.  My beliefs about God have guided my marriage, the way we raised our children, the values that Penny and I strive to live by.  I would agree that the Apostles’ Creed – has served as a faith compass to help me develop my beliefs and guide my life.

For the early Christian church – this season of Lent was a special time of the year to help new Christians prepare for baptism at Easter.  They used the Apostles’ Creed to help the whole church focus together on the foundations of faith.  During this season of Lent – we are going to join together to dig in to these foundations of our faith – to see how they help us and Christians all over the world to do their best to follow Jesus on our journey from Death to LIFE.

APOSTLES CREED

  • I believe in God, the Father Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth;
  • I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord, Who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, Born of the Virgin Mary, Suffered under Pontius Pilate, Was crucified, died, and was buried; He descended to the dead. On the third day He rose again; He ascended into heaven, is seated at the right hand of the Father, and will come again to judge the living and the dead.
  • I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic [universal] church, the Communion of Saints, the Forgiveness of Sins, the Resurrection of the Body, and the Life Everlasting.

The first thing I would like to invite you to consider is…

WHY  WE  Believe in God

Historically – most people assumed that everyone in the United States believed in God.  After all, America was supposed to be a Christian nation.  It was printed on all of our money – In God We Trust.  But not really.  About 50 years ago – big cracks started showing up in that foundation.  Madelyn Murray O’Hare was one of the most famous early atheists who wanted to make sure that the world knew – not everyone in America believes in God.  Atheism has continued to grow – outspoken people like one of former President Ronald Reagan’s sons taking out ads on television to raise money for atheism.  But what has grown most of all – is apathy.  Most people in the USA operate by the Creed – It’s all good.  Everyone has to be free to believe whatever they want to believe – as long as they’re not hurting anyone else.

As Jesus’ followers – we do our best to politely disagree.  No, it’s not all good.  And we want to encourage people to consider that there are many good reasons for believing in God.

So we’ll do a very quick look at why do we believe in God.  Start with the big picture.  The big picture of the universe – that is approximately 13.5 billion light years in diameter – which means that it would take you 13.5 billion years traveling at the speed of light 186,000 miles per second to go from one end to the other.  And you thought that driving to Grandmother’s house was a long trip!  Universe contains over 100,000 galaxies.

Some people claim that it is reasonable to believe that over 100,000 galaxies just happened somehow by an accidental explosion.  Others, like Christians, say hmmm.  First of all empirical evidence shows that every other explosion destroys rather than creates life.  Empirical evidence also reminds us that in order to have an explosion – there has to be a source of power.

As Christians – we believe that there are good reasons for trusting that God is the source of the power and the creativity of the Biggest of all Bangs – that Created the Universe.  

Psalm 8:1-5 (NLT)    O LORD, our Lord, Your majesty fills the earth!  Your glory is higher than the heavens.  …When I look at the night sky and see what You made with Your fingers — the moon and the stars You set in place— what are humans that You should think about them, mere mortals that you should care for us?  Yet you made humans only a little lower than God and crowned them with glory and honor.

 The big picture reason for believing in God – is the universe.  The small picture for believing in God – looking at our bodies.  Scientists have discovered that there are approximately 30 trillion cells in our bodies.  Cracking the genetic code of DNA – has revealed that every one of those 30 trillion cells has a DNA code that if it was printed out would fill over 4,000 books.  The Bible teaches us that God knows every detail about us.

Matthew 10:29-31 (NCV)    Two sparrows cost only a penny, but not even one of them can die without your Father’s knowing it.  God even knows how many hairs are on your head.

So when we start with the question of Why do We Believe in God?  We ask ourselves are the universe and the DNA of our bodies’ just amazing accidents?  Maybe?  Science has a simpler explanation – wherever you see design – there was always a designer.  When people look at the Mona Lisa – do they say what an amazing accident?    When people look at Michelangelo’s statue of David – do they say, “Isn’t it incredible how that stone shaped itself into this form?

We believe in God because the heavens declare the glory of God’s creation and our bodies remind us that God put so much effort into designing even the smallest part of us down to an incredible genetic code in every one of the 30 trillion cells in our body.

We believe that there are good reasons for believing in God – and for believing that God is a Father in heaven Who loves every one of us.

Why We Believe God is a  Father Who  LOVES  US 

Lots of religions say they believe in God.  Only Judaism and Christianity go further and declare that they believe God is a Father Who loves all of us.

See the quote – of all the ways God could have chosen to relate to us – Benevolent Dictator, Kind Boss, Patient Landlord – God chose the word Father.

Psalm 68:5 (TLB)    God is a Father to the fatherless; He gives justice to the weak and to widows, for God is holy. 

During this season of Lent – when we seek to help each other grow in following Jesus on our Journey from Death to LIFE – we can consider the lesson from John 1:18

John 1:18 (TLB)    No one has ever seen God.  But Jesus the only begotten Son …has revealed God the Father to us.

One of the most famous lessons that Jesus taught to help us understand Who God is – comes from the parable of the Prodigal Son in Luke 15.  It’s a very powerful lesson – of the father who doesn’t reject his son after he failed miserably.  One of the pieces we don’t always appreciate is how significant it is when Jesus said the father not only welcomed back his failed son – Jesus says the father ran to welcome his son.  That’s important – because in middle-Eastern culture – fathers never ran to their children.  Jewish fathers were stern and reserved.  Jesus shows us – God is a Father Who loves us enough to run to us even after we have failed miserably.

So far we’ve looked at some of the good reasons for believing in God as the Father Who loves us.  It might also be helpful to consider one of the biggest reasons most people doubt God – and that is how could a loving God allow bad things to happen to good people? 

REASONS  We  DOUBT  God

There are a lot of serious problems in our world that cause people to doubt God.  When 17 students and faculty were killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland FL on Valentine’s Day – natural for all of us to ask – How could a loving God allow something so terrible to happen?

The Bible doesn’t give us any simple and easy answers.  What the Bible teaches us is that God loves us enough to give us freedom that is used for good things and for bad things.

I view it from the perspective of a human father.  With our 3 sons – I could have locked them in a prison cell in order to make sure that nothing bad ever happened to them.  I knew that taking away their freedom – would result in a stunted life.  So Penny and I risked giving them freedom – by doing our best to train them and show them the way.

The Bible teaches us that even though God does allow bad things to happen to each of our lives – God also loves us enough to be with us when we go through problems and brokenness. 

Isaiah 43:1-5 (NLT)    Listen to the LORD Who created you.  …Do not be afraid…  When you go through deep waters, I will be with you…   Do not be afraid, for I am with you!

Problems don’t mean that God no longer loves us or has abandoned us.  Problems remind us that God is with us and will lead us through our problems to ultimate victory. 

Romans 8:35-38 (NLT)    Does it mean God no longer loves us if we have trouble…  No, despite our problems, overwhelming victory is ours…  Nothing can ever separate us from God’s love!

The last thing I would like to encourage you to consider is – how does trusting that God is the Father Almighty, Creator of Heaven and earth – who loves you – help to guide and empower your life.

 Celebrating God’s Love that  GUIDES  and  EMPOWERS  Us

 One of the greatest gifts Jesus offers us – is when He taught us that we can dare to call God father.  That is especially powerful – when you consider that in the culture of Jesus’ day – a baby did not automatically have the right to call the person responsible for their birth father.  In Jesus’ time – the Roman culture taught that a child was brought to his or her biological father – and the father had the right to accept or reject the child.    Jesus helps us to appreciate what an honor and privilege we have to be able to call the Almighty Creator of the Universe our Father.

1 John 3:1 (TLB)    See how very much our heavenly Father loves us, for He allows us to be called His children—think of it!  And that is what we really are!

Jesus changed the world in many ways – and one of the big ones was giving the courage to call God our Father.  Actually, Jesus took it much further when He taught us that we can call God – Abba – Daddy. 

1 John 4:16-19 (NLT)    We know how much God loves us, and we have put our trust in His love.

We are on a journey from Death to Life.  We have a compass to guide us on our journey.  The Compass leads us forward through all of the joys and sorrows we will ever face – by knowing that God is the Father Almighty, the Creator of heaven and earth – who loves and cares for you.

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