|Create Date||July 18, 2019|
|Last Updated||July 18, 2019|
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A Holy Wow!
Redhill. 14 July 2019. Presented by Gordon Green
Awe, astonishment, wonder, and similar words is a thread that runs throughout the Bible. There are almost 100 references in the Bible about people being “amazed”. “Awe” is found more than 50 times and “wonder” over 100 times. In the Book of Acts this experience is mentioned in many verses (Acts 2:7, 12,43).
The church all over Judea, Galilee, and Samaria experienced a season of peace. The congregations grew larger and larger, with the believers being empowered and encouraged by the Holy Spirit. They worshiped God in wonder and awe, and walked in the fear of the Lord. (Acts 9:31).
Do we worship God in wonder and awe and walk in the fear of the Lord? Do we as a church? “Walked in fear” means stunned worship filled with unspeakable joy. It means to stand in awe of, to worship. All these words – awe, astonishment, amazement, wonder etc– all describe two intertwined components. One aspect: a sensation of trembling, which comes from a perception of being in the presence of something supernatural, overpowering, and vibrantly alive. When the 3 women saw that the tomb was empty and realised that Jesus was alive “ they went out and fled from the tomb, for trembling and astonishment had seized them.” It’s an emotion experienced when one is “overwhelmed by greatness.” Second: there is mystery, which typically leads a person to feelings of being astonished, thunderstruck, transfixed, or dumbfounded. Another similar word is “behold”. An old biblical word that carries intense feeling and emotion. It’s the idea of shock, amazement and wonder. Today, “behold” might be better translated, wow! It’s something like the awe we experience when we view a beautiful painting, gaze into the starry heavens
Cathedrals are awe-inspiring. So impressive. You walk in and it’s difficult to try to take it all in. The architecture, stained glass windows, frescos etc You look up and up and up. The ceiling is so high. The architecture is designed to bring glory to God. Designed to lift your head up. So beautiful profound. Astonishing. A cathedral is a powerful illustration of what our Christian lives should be like. We need that kind of Christianity that can produce that kind of effect on people. We might argue “well today we don’t see miracles like Jesus coming out of the tomb or people speaking in different languages etc” But How often do we stop and ponder and be amazed, astonished, speechless because of who Ggod is and what he has done and is doing for us? We need to regularly stop and think about the Trinity, the cross, the resurrection, baptism, communion, the second Coming of Jesus, the Incarnation etc and be amazed. A name of Jesus is wonderful. In Isaiah 9 he is “wonderful counsellor”. In biblical times a name was meant to describe the very heart and being of a person. He is wonderful – the essence of who he is summed up as wonderful which means unexpected, astonishing – the ultimate surprise. It’s not just that he did wonderful things but that is who he is – wonderful. God came to bless us. It means to kneel before. Ie iI want to give you such honour that I kneel before you in order to bless you. It’s called the great stoop of god. He came where we are. That should leave us speechless. He came to serve us with his infinite love. (Excerpt from Max Lucado)
When people met Jesus they were constantly amazed and astonished and perplexed at his actions and words and presence and works. Too often we think that when we go to church we must hear sermons about how Christianity should make our lives better. We think that’s what Christianity is all about - how to make life better. I want something practical. How to be happy. How to have a happy marriage. 4 spiritual laws to success. 30 days to deeper prayer, How to get to heaven when I die. But Christianity is not something you add to your life like a Swiss army knife. We enter this life like a cathedral. So much bigger than you.
Don’t misunderstand. Not saying we walk around with our mouths open, speechless and amazed at everything and anything. When a cathedral was built it wasn’t like just building an ordinary house or building walls around a city. A cathedral was not just meant to be good but it was meant to be for God. And so it was to be perfect. But also because the building was so big that the slightest lean in the walls, the slightest deviation from the plans etc could weaken the structure fatally. Incredible attention was given to the smallest detail. In our lives and in our church we have to give a lot of attention to our doctrine, to our teaching to our preaching to our application. But worship should flow from our astonishment. When we see God as he is and what he’s done for us worship will happen.
A mistake we can make is that when we pray we pray only for ourselves. “Please God find me a job, help me financially, heal me” – and that’s fine. God wants us to talk to him about our worries. But when that is all we pray then we will never be astonished. If we are praying about what God can do for us we will not be in awe. The truth is we assume we know what we need and we just need Jesus to do it. We don’t know what we need. Ask God to give that desire to apprehend, appreciate the beauty and mystery of Jesus Christ. This will help us to be astonished and the things that flow out or our lives will be good.
In the cathedrals there are small chapels at the side. Our lives can be like that. A chapel is very nice but it mustn’t be confused with the cathedral. We can be living a chapel life where everything is nice and tidy and understandable and we are in our comfort zones and we just want to live there but we need to step out into the cathedral and be astonished and say wow!
In the Narnia Chronicles by CS Lewis the lion is a picture of Jesus. “Aslan is a lion- the lion, the great lion." "Ooh" said Susan. "I'd thought he was a man. Is he-quite safe? I shall feel rather nervous about meeting a lion"..."Safe?" said Mr Beaver "Who said anything about safe? 'Course he isn't safe. But he's good. He's the king, I tell you.” Jesus is not safe. He is not tame. He is not a circus lion doing religious tricks on a Sunday morning. He cannot be caged in a human zoo to be viewed from a distance on a Sunday.
The gospel is the good news of a great joy to everyone – the news of wonder, astonishment, amazement - news of love beyond all comprehension without limits and boundaries. Don’t get caught up in dull, dead, boring religion that has no effect on you in your daily lives. Ask God to open your eyes so you may see wonderful. There is something wrong with us if we say the Bible is boring, God is boring. Creation is boring. Have you ever seen a boring sunset or a boring flower?
Two awesome scriptures to ponder on and be astonished:
1 Peter 2:9.
1 John 3:1-2 It was as if John was writing along and as he came to the words “children of God” he paused in amazement. He gasped. “Can this really be? Does the love of God go that far? That we should be called the children of God? It’s really true!” John was deeply moved – stirred to his innermost being “and that is what we are.”!
John is looking with “wonder at the depth of the Father’s marvellous love that he has lavished on us! He has called us and made us his very own beloved children.”
John was saying “Will you look at this amazing, stunning, out- of- the-world love that God is sharing with us? That we should be called the children of God, and that’s what we are. ‘Children of God’ is not simply a high-sounding name that we bear; it’s a reality! It’s a gift from God! Can you believe that? That’s breath-taking! Staggering - this awesome Love of God!”