Sunday: One God
Hello English Camp 2015! I am so excited for you guys to be here and for me to be here and I am THRILLED that I get the chance to speak to you this week! I love getting to know the German and other Americans and talk about our similarities and differences, and ultimately about the MOST important thing in life and that is our God.
As you know, I’ll be speaking to you each night of camp this week, expounding on the theme of the day. During my night sessions this week there are 2 English phrases that I am going to start saying that requires a response that I want YOU to finish. The first one I’ll say after I read a passage of Scripture. I’ll say, “this is the Word of the Lord” and then you respond (in English) “thanks be to God”. He didn’t HAVE to give us this Book-but He did and that’s awesome! Okay? So I’ll read a couple verses and when I’m done I proclaim that what I just read is literally, actually FROM GOD and I’ll say “this is the word of the Lord” and you say “thanks be to God” okay. Let’s try it!
Great! Okay, the other little American phrase thing I like to do is when I finish praying sometimes ,I like to say, “And all God’s people said” and then everyone who is a Christian and who agrees with what I prayed says “AMEN”. Amen actually means “let it be so”. So by saying “Amen” at the end of a prayer you are agreeing and saying that you want what their prayer asked to happen too. So repeat after me
God, thank you so much for being a loving God who wants people to know and love you. Thank you for etc. etc. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen. And all God’s people said, AMEN”
Amen, thanks guys! Love that.
The interesting thing is that, you know in the US, we have lots of camps and Christian camps as well-and you know what—it’s the same thing there. Teenagers in the US are the same way. Many don’t believe in him, many don’t really think or care about him, and many love Him and realize he is the MOST important thing in life. So it’s kind of neat, as I interact with you guys—you’re the same as the students I interact with at home, they just so happen to many miles away.
So in my few years of coming here, I have met hundreds of campers, and I’ve found that you (just like American campers) usually fall into one of three categories. You either 1.) don’t care about God or the Bible-but want to (or have to!) improve your English, so you come, 2.) You think God is ehh, like you aren’t for OR against Him-he’s not a big deal to you-you just come here because you want to learn English, have fun, and Christians are nice and good people, so why not hang out with them? Or 3.) the third group are those of you who are passionate about Jesus Christ and the Bible and you want to get to know him EVERY chance you get-and it’s THE BEST PART OF YOUR SUMMER to come here and interact with other Christians your age and learn about God and you LOVE IT! So that’s the three groups I think I’m talking to this week. Concering God you either, group 1-Don’t Believe, group 2- Don’t know/don’t care, or group 3-you LOVE him. Take a minute and think about what God you are in group one, group two, or group three…
It doesn’t matter what group you are in. I am so glad that ALL of you are here and I believe that God has a reason for each of you being here. God has a purpose for your week at camp and I am excited to find out what it is.
But I am so glad that I am here talking to you guys. I have been praying, and have many other people praying for my words, and your hearts. These next few nights that I am going to be able to talk with you students are VERY, VERY important and serious to me. And it’s really important to me that ya’ll listen. Each night this week I am going to try my very best to explain to you some very, very important things about life and Christianity, and I want you pay attention because this isn’t just important information to me. It’s not that you have to know these facts to pass a test, or to impress someone with all of your knowledge, or anything like that. The stuff that we will talk and learn about this week are the MOST IMPORTANT THINGS IN LIFE.
Are you guys familiar with the term YOLO. Canadian rapper DRAKE came up with that acronym is 2011 and it is really popular within the American youth culture. Who can tell me what YOLO stands for? Give examples of YOLO…That’s right “you only live once” and it’s this idea that you have ONE life on this earth, and live it up! Now, I think that is very true. Students, you only have ONE life on this earth. ONE. Isn’t it important to figure out what you are supposed to do with your life? Does it have a purpose? A meaning? And even more, does anything happen to me after I die? If you truly only have ONE life to live, don’t you want it to count for something?
We are going to start the week proclaiming the truth that there is a God and that there is ONLY ONE GOD. That’s the theme for today: ONE GOD. And that God, that creator of the galaxies and the mountain rangers, that sustainer of our lives and designer of our personalities is in fact the God of the Christian Bible. We are going to unpack this truth, and hopefully by the power of the Holy Spirit you will see that this truth should change your lives.
If you have your Bibles with you, please turn to 1 Corinthians 8:4-6 and read along with me.
“4 So then, about eating food sacrificed to idols: We know that “An idol is nothing at all in the world” and that “There is no God but one.” 5 For even if there are so-called gods, whether in heaven or on earth (as indeed there are many “gods” and many “lords”), 6 yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom all things came and for whom we live; and there is but one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things came and through whom we live.”
So we see here that there is ONLY ONE GOD. That makes sense, right? But how do we know WHO this ONE God is, and what he is like, and what his purposes are? Well, fortunately for us-God has revealed himself to mankind in the Bible. The Bible is a book all about God and his relationship with the people he created. It tells us what He is like, His personality, what makes him laugh, what makes him cry, and what lengths He is willing to go to for the people he loves. The Bible is made up of 66 different little books. They were written by various authors-under the influence of the Holy Spirit, spanning about 1,500 hundred years. There is some poetry, some history, some love stories, war stories, and some but they ALL are pieces of one giant, beautiful, PERFECT, puzzle that is God. God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy are all throughout the pages of the something confusing and complicated old, but perfect and amazing Holy Book.
It really is astounding that all the books coincide as seamlessly as they do. Do you guys have pets over here? We have lots of pets in America. I have friends that own Dogs, Cats, Fish, Ferretts, Hedhogs, Horses, Turtles, Goats, etc. Think about it. I want this half of the room to stand up. That’s probably around 66 people. Now if I told all of them to go, right something about a topic, like…say…Pets! And then I put it all together in a book and published it—it would be CRAZY. Some of you might agree and some things, but there would be so many different opinions like, Dogs Drool and Cats Rule, or horses are the best by far, blah blah blah. But the Bible-remember about 40 different human authors, 1,500 hundred years, 66 different books, and they ALL AGREE on what the ONE TRUE GOD is like.
They say over and over again in each book in different ways that God is WISE, He is
JUST, GRACIOUS, MERCIFUL and MANY other wonderful things!
It is so neat! God’s faithfulness is seen in Joseph’s life in Exodus, in Solomon’s life in Ecclesiasts, and in Peter’s life in 1 and 2 Peter. Moses talks about God’s love in Exodus, and then David describes that same love in Psalms and then Paul says the SAME thing in Romans. Then God’s sovereigny is perfectly displayed in Esther one way, perfectly displayed in Acts another way, and yet another perfect example of God’s sovereignty is seen in Revelation.
If you only remember ONE THING from tonight’s lessons….I want it to be this phrase: “The whole Bible agrees, our God is the ONLY GOD, and our God is an AWESOME GOD”.
(Repeat and have them fill in the blank of bolded words)
The Bible is our source to KNOW who this ONE God is. It is a trustworthy source, that has been scrutinized thoroughly time and time again since it’s origin and has ALWAYS come out the other side being proved trustworthy.
So, for those of you who, like I said in the beginning, LOVE God and are excited about camp to get to know him-Group 3, I say to you-KEEP that excitement. Keep that focus-you are in a great place. You are right. God is the key to EVERYTHING. He is the giver of peace, and joy, and clarity, and direction. Not only does He give us life eternal, but he also offers you the most, what he calls in John *( “abundant” life possible! Seeking Him is the BEST thing for you to do, so keep it up. My prayer for you this week is that you are strengthed by what you learn to continue serving this ONE God with your whole heart and life, and that because of WHO OUR ONE GOD IS your life is changed.
For those of you in the second category-you’re here, you’re kind of interested in God-but not really, Group 2 I say to you- He’s not just a good teacher or someone who give you a ticket out of hell or someone to talk about at Christmas and Easter-God is SO MUCH MORE THAN THAT. He can give your life PURPOSE and MEANING. He can give you HOPE when you are HOPELESS and COMFORT when you are LONELY and He wants to be wonderfully, intamently involved in every detail of your life.—not just your salvation.
And for the last group, group 1-those of you don’t care about God-don’t believe in God-or maybe straight up hate God-this is my prayer for you. That, in His grace, God will open your eyes to see that there is NO WAY that there is not a God. That you guys will see that there MUST be a God and that your heart will be opened to the fact that that God has revealed who He is the pages of the Bible. I pray that when you tell yourself the lie “there is no heaven. There is no hell. There is no god.” That you won’t be able to even sleep at night because you’ll be wondering “What if I’m wrong”. “What if I’m wrong?” “What if I’m wrong?” I pray that that doubt that this is all there is-draws you to the Bible and that you will believe that He is who He says He is.
Friends, I don’t tell you there is ONE GOD to try to get you to simply follow a list of dos or don’t. I don’t tell you there is ONE GOD so that I can scare you into heaven by telling you about hell. I tell you there is ONE God because He is the most amazing, incredible person I have ever encountered and knowing Him has absolutely changed my life for the better. And I am SO THANKFUL to have Him in my life!
Here’s a little bit about me…there are a lot of really wonderful things in my life, but there are also some very difficult things: I grew up in a neglectful home. I remember my step dad beating my mother, I was sexually abused by half-brother. Thanks be to God, I was removed from that home when I was 6 and adopted into a Christian family who loved Jesus and loved me. But years later, the mom who adopted me drifted away from church and the Bible and became an alcoholic. I struggle with obeying God, and constantly fail Him. For the past 4 years, I was deeply in love with a young man, and we ended things just a few months ago because he couldn’t decide to commit to me in marriage. In all of these things, what do I do? How do I cope with alcoholism, abuse, and heartbreak? I’ll tell you how: I look to the ONE GOD. The God of the Bible and he tells me in James to “Count it all joy when I fall into trials of various kinds” and in Romans that “ALL THINGS work together for good” and in Psalms that “in him we are MORE than conquerors”. With this ONE GOD in my life, though it is still difficult, I have PEACE-I know he is trustworthy. I have JOY-through Jesus Christ I have salvation! I have HOPE-he CAN and WILL work out all things together for my good and his glory. And I have assurance that though I “only live once”-once is all I need to accept Christ’s gift of salvation and spend eternity together with Him in heaven. And I want that for each and every one of you. “The whole Bible agrees, our God is the ONLY GOD, and our God is an AWESOME GOD”. And that’s why I’m here.
I am so very glad that you are real. That you exist, that you are the ONLY God, and that you choose to let humans know who you are through the Bible. I pray for the campers and the staff here tonight—some who know you and some who don’t-I pray that you help them to feel the weight of truth heavy on their hearts that there IS a God. And that you THE ONLY GOD have revealed yourself in the Bible, and that you WANT people to know you, and that you want them to have a relationship with you, and ultimmtietly have a relationship with you eternally after death. Please give me clarity as I speak that you are seen as AMAZING and GLORIOUS that you really are-that I won’t get in the way of your awesomeness, but that everyone will be delighted by the truth of what you’re like. Thank you for being so loving, and gracious, and showing us who you are. You didn’t have to do that. I love you, thanks for loving me first. Amen. And all God’s people said “Amen”