— Brother Phil Enlow: If I were to ask you how God sees us, what would you say? How does God see us?
( congregation inaudible ).
Yeah! How does He see us? Is He sitting there constantly looking at what you were and what you are and your weakness and all of that kind of stuff? Or is He saying, you’re My child? You’re my child. I love you. I have brought you to a place, I have given you life. I’ve already put away your past at the Cross. Don’t worry. It’s fading away. It’s on the clock and that clock’s gonna run out, and there’s gonna be nothing left but what I’m doing.
But I want…My focus is on you. I don’t see all that stuff that sticks to you, that clings to your heart. You can’t get free from what you are naturally to be what you are in my Kingdom. And God says, I don’t see you the way you see yourself. You see all of your weaknesses. You see all the reasons why God couldn’t love somebody like me. You feel the pull of doubt and struggles and all these kinds of things.
I don’t see you that way. I see you as my child! And I want you to know it. And that’s why I put that little exclamation in there. Behold…”How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!” (NIV). That’s God inspiring the pen of this servant of His to speak to the believers and call them to the reality of what they are in Christ.
Do you think we need this? Is this just something where we’re going over old ground and blowing smoke, or do we need…I need it. I need this. There’s not a day goes by that my mind doesn’t drift to my needs and my deficiencies, and my this and my that, when I need to say, Lord, I’m Your child.
And I’m not being boastful when I say that. I’m not being…I’m not talking about that as though, well, I deserve to be. Look at how well I’ve been doing. This is, oh God, You have, in Your love, for reasons that I could never fathom, You set Your love upon me. It was when I was still an enemy, that Jesus went to the cross. He didn’t wait for me to get good.
He says, I’ve got a plan. There’s gonna be somebody come along with all kinds of needs in their life. They’re gonna be caught in all kinds of sin traps, but I’ve got the power to change all that if they’ll just let go and give Me their heart and their life. I can make something out of nothing. I don’t need stuff. I just need a heart that’s willing to ‘let go and let God have His way’ as we sing so often.
I mean, you can go on and on talking about stories of people…and who are the ones that God chose. How about reading just for a moment…hang on to this passage, but a familiar passage in 1st Corinthians 1 where Paul is talking about the wisdom of the world, the message being foolish and all of that.
But now, think about what he says in verse 26, 1st Corinthians 1, “Brothers, think of what you were when you were called.” Okay, let’s think about that.
“Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world…” Are you weak today?
“God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not…” Wow! I mean, you’re running out of ways to describe it. “…Things that are not…” To do what? “…To nullify the things that are.” Why would He do it that way? “…So that no one may boast before him.”
So, how did this all come about? Did we go looking for Him? “It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. Therefore, as it is written: Let him who boasts boast in the Lord.”
There’s God’s recruitment program. I don’t care who you are and what your need is and how you see yourself. If you’re His, if you’ve opened your heart to Him, lift your eyes from what you are to what He is and His purpose, because that is what will prevail! We will stay in prisons if we don’t. Simply listen to what He says. That is what we are, John says.
And of course, the reason the world doesn’t really get this is because they don’t get it with Him. So now, he reiterates, “…now we are children of God.” You know, on one level, this is just more of the same. But how deeply do we get that? How deeply can we look in the mirror and say, we…or I am, that person that I am seeing, I’m a child of God?
I don’t have to listen to the old master. I don’t have to live under the dominion of what I once lived under. God has pulled me out. He did not do it based upon my qualifications. He did it because He had a loving purpose, and because He has the power to change something into something…to take nothing and make everything out of it. Now, right now!
He’s not talking just about, oh, one day, maybe we’ll muddle through, and then, all of a sudden everything will be okay. He says right now you’re My child. Don’t we need to be seeing ourselves through God’s eyes?
Yeah, I know what I was. I know my weaknesses. But God has made me His child. I have every right to expect Him to come. My eyes are not on me and my abilities. I realize that. I’m a child. I don’t know how to function in this Kingdom. Lord, help me…every moment to have that sense, yes, I’m Your child, but I’m a young child. I need help. I need my Daddy…to teach me everything, and to impart to me everything that I need.
That’s a good place to take, isn’t it? Do you think God’s gonna listen to hearts that come to Him that way? Doesn’t He give grace to the humble and resist the proud? I want to be in that place.
I don’t care how long you’ve known the Lord. Don’t you be looking down your nose at somebody and say, well, I’m more mature than you are. We are, in terms of the big picture, we are kids. We are little children who need our heavenly Father. I’m so glad we’ve got One that loves us. Praise God!
Of course, like a loving Father, He does some disciplining sometimes, doesn’t He? But He does it for our good. He does it out of a heart that says, I see where you’re going. You’ve got something going on in your heart and your life and your will right now, that if you keep following that path, you’re gonna get in trouble. And I love you too much to let you keep going that way, so I’m gonna stop you. I’m gonna do whatever it takes to bring you back to that place.
You know, it was mentioned this morning about the illustration of the shepherd who has to break a leg to keep a stubborn sheep from running off until they learn how to stay close to the shepherd. We’ve got an awesome, heavenly Father who loves His children enough to do whatever it takes to keep us close.
Don’t we need to live in an awareness of that and say, God, not only do I understand this, I’m not just gonna run around and expect You to bail me out every day. I want to consciously say, Lord, I’m Your child. I want to live this life and not that one, that You called me out of. Help me to learn how to live out the life You have imparted to me to be Your child, to grow up, to point my life’s direction in that direction.
Now see this in the context. He’s talking about the reality of what Christian life really is, as opposed to the false, that’s just religious. I’ll tell you, there’s gonna be heart changes. Do you have a heart that ultimately wants Him? I’ll tell you, when God comes in, when there’s a birth, the impetus to do what’s right doesn’t have to come from outside all the time. Stop that, stop that, stop that. It comes from in here.
Now there may need to be some stuff from outside when we get a little bit ornery or we get…we get human. But how many know what I’m talking about, that ultimately there’s something in here you can’t get away from? See, that’s what God puts in the heart. There’s something that you just can’t ever, you can’t just turn away.
You can’t say, well, it’s not real. You ultimately just have to surrender to the One who lives in here, and recognize He’s called me for His purpose out of His heart, and He’s not a tyrant trying to make my life miserable. He is One who wants to share His love with me for all eternity.
So, not only do I need to recognize how God sees me, I need to start seeing myself the way He sees me. Anybody here need that? Anybody here have a problem with constantly seeing your weaknesses and living as though that’s the controlling factor, instead of saying, oh God, thank You for showing me what I am? But oh God, You have placed something in me that will prevail.
I’m looking to You, Father, take me forward. Take me forward, Lord. I know this does not disqualify me. This only causes me to lift my hands and say, oh God, work in my heart. I’m Your child, Lord. I’m not somebody You’ve just brought in as a servant, and You’re gonna kick me out because I don’t live up to it. I’m Your child. I’ll tell you, this Father will never abandon His children. Praise God!
“Dear friends, now…” Right now, this morning, if you’re His, you’re His child now! “…What we will be has not yet been made known.” There is a mystery. I mean, we’ve got pictures of it, but I’ll tell you, we won’t have any clue, really, until we stand there one day.
You know, we’ve talked about it. I’m not gonna go over that all of that detail again what we do know. But it’s gonna be amazing. But yet, God has seen fit to not tell us everything that’s coming. But I’ll tell you, what He has planted in the heart of every one of His children is a hope, is an expectation. There is the power within us, if He lives here, to know that this is not my world! This is not my destiny! My past does not dictate my future! Jesus Christ went to the cross to establish my future.
“…What we will be has not yet been made known. But we know….” Now, here’s something that John…he uses that expression a lot. We know this, or we can know this. Here is a solid statement from the heart of God. “…We know that when he appears, we shall be like him….”
Anybody here just thinking, oh yeah, I could do that? Oh yeah, I’ve got that. Or do you rather wrestle with, I don’t know how in the world something like that could possibly happen. Me? Why would He care about me?
It’s amazing, is right. You talk about the love of God…what kind of love it would take to do this, to say, you’re my child. Not only that, but I am giving you a hope and a future that is absolutely as certain as I am.
You see why the writer to the Hebrews calls it the ‘anchor of the soul’ is the hope that we have? It’s not just that I am His child, and yes, I’m in a place where I’m having to learn. I’m having to be the little kid, who has to look to Daddy. But oh, my destiny is fixed, not because of what I am and who I am and what I can do, but because of Him!
( congregational amens ).
“We know that…we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.” I’m not gonna try to explain all of that statement right there. But I’ll tell you, there’s a connection between seeing Him, and being like Him.
And it really comes out, I think, in the next verse. It says, everyone! “Everyone who has this hope in him purifies himself, just as he is pure.” Okay, got to keep the rules. See, that’s where a lot of people will go with this. Okay, I’ve got to live up to it, got to obey the rules, got to keep the laws. How do we purify ourselves? Oh, God.
( laughing ).
There is no other way that I can be pure. He’s the One, by the way, who, does what? He, …purifies us from all sin.” See, this is the same writer, same book. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful…” on the one hand. He is just on the other, to do what? To, “…forgive us our sins and…” cleanse us, “…purify us from all sin.” He has the power. There’s this constant reaching up to Him. God, I want to be like You.
So, this purification is not…it’s the very opposite of self-effort. It is simply coming to Him, and looking to Him with an open heart and saying, help me, Lord. How many of you remember what Paul said in 2nd Corinthians 3, is it? He’s talking about the ministry of the Word and how some people are blind to it, and they’re blind because there is a veil on their heart.
But what happens? What is it that causes the veil to be taken away? The heart—the heart turns to the Lord! Now, there’s an ability to see something in the Spirit. Now, the ministry that comes from heaven, empowered by the spirit of God, now it has the power to come in here and make a difference.
And so, he says, “But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord.” (KJV). What are we looking at? Boy, do I look ugly today. Is that what we’re looking at? No, there is something where we can look at Him. We can see Him as He speaks. There’s this sense of the closer I get to Him, the more I’m gonna be like Him, the more my heart is open to reach out and say, Lord, I see You. I praise You. I worship You. I want to be like You. That’s how the change happens.
And it’s interesting to me that He’s not just talking about…I mean, it seems like an odd thing. You could almost say, when we see Him, we’ll be like Him. Okay, so I’m just gonna live my life. My hope is that when He comes, boom, I’m gonna be changed suddenly, I’m gonna be instantly made like Him.
Well, I thank God there is a change that’s gonna happen then. We’re gonna lose these old bodies, and we won’t have them anymore to worry about. We’ll have brand new ones. But, this is not talking, this is not picturing that kind of a life that’s so presumptuous as to say, I don’t really have to live [for] God. He’s doing it all. I just live my life and go there, and expect to be instantly changed into something that I’m not.
The heart that sees the hope of the Gospel also impels us to want to move in that direction. Do you see where John’s going with this and how he’s fitting it into the overall theme of what’s real and what’s not? If you get somebody that takes that other position, that ain’t real. Their heart’s never been changed. They’re just trying to lay claim to something.
But I’ll tell you, if Christ has come in, there is going to be a heart in you that wants to be like Him. It’s connected to Him. So, not only are we gonna see ourselves through His eyes, we’re gonna start to see His purpose, and we’re gonna start to say, oh God, I want to see You with clearer vision. Help me. Lord. Help me to see You when the Word comes, but help me to see You in my private prayer with You, to listen, to have a heart that’s open.
Lord, I realize I’m only seeing You in a…it’s not the image that I’ll see then, but I can still see You. “Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.” How does somebody get pure in their heart? By faith…we’ve purified our hearts by faith.
I’ll tell you, do you see what’s going on? You’ve got people that are going in one direction. On the other hand, you’ve got people that are going in a totally different direction. Now, the Devil was trying to mix it all up and confuse the situation. John is trying to shed light. This is what it means to be a follower of Jesus! God has set His love upon you! He has made you his child. He sees you as His child. That’s how He treats you. He looks forward, not back. And He wants us to do the same thing, as regard to ourselves.
There’s one other dimension, though, that comes into this. It isn’t really spelled out in this spot, but it is in the passage. We need to come to a place where we see each other, the way God sees us. Do you think that might stop some gossip? You think that might stop some prideful, ‘what’s the matter with you?’ Do you think we might learn how to see one another through God’s eyes, and realize that we’re on a journey together, that we’re not there yet, and we’re still gonna do some kid stuff at times, and we’re still gonna have to be corrected, and walk together and grow, and we’re all headed the same direction.
But my God, we cannot let the Devil cross us up in all these stupid ways that he does. God, give us the vision, not just to see ourselves as He does. That’s wonderful. But I need to see you. Instead of being critical, I need to have a compassion for you, because I know I’m made of the same stuff. I need to be able to pray, instead of getting mad, or talk, or do a whole lot of things.
It’s gotten quiet. Is this because it’s irrelevant and dead? No. You see…the picture God is painting, because this exists in a context where over and over again, it’s the love that we’re supposed to have for one another. If I love you, am I gonna sit there and feel superior to you because you’re guilty of something that happens to be on my list of bad stuff?
God, help us to have a caring, merciful heart, one toward another. And even where correction is needed, how do we go to one another? In a spirit of meekness. Why would we do that? Considering ourselves. There’s always that business where I’m standing beside you, and I get it. I know how this happens. And I’m not sitting here to be critical. I want to help you. I want to rescue you.
That’s God’s heart toward us, isn’t it? Yeah. He wants to reproduce that in us. And so, that’s part of being like Him, isn’t it? Isn’t part of being like Him, being able to love one another with God’s love?
You think about what Paul wrote in, was it Ephesians 4 or 3? Beginning of 4, I think it is. Just a handful of scriptures that we know real well. “As a prisoner for the Lord…” (NIV). He’s just talked about the immensity of God’s love, and His purpose, and all of that, and how He’s able to do more than we can imagine.
“As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling…” God’s called us children, right? See, that’s the calling. “…To live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle.” Boy, we’re gonna have to get that from God. It doesn’t come from us.
“Be patient, bearing with one another in love.” I’ll tell you, if you get a people that get that, and learn that and begin to walk in that, you have got something that this world cannot offer. We’re gonna see needs. We’re gonna see weaknesses in one another.
And God, give us a heart where the first instinct is, God, I want to help. God, I don’t mean fix it…you understand what I’m saying. But God, I get this. I love them, and I want to see the Lord help them and give them strength and give them deliverance, whatever the need is. Instead of, what’s the matter with you? God, give us that kind of a patience.
Boy, we like people to be patient with us, but shouldn’t we have the same patience with them? “Be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body....” And he outlines the foundation of all of this. This is what God has done.
I don’t know. These are just sort of some scattered thoughts this morning. You could go on in a lot of ways from it, and I don’t want to try to go beyond. But is any of this needed? We are His children. So, we need to live in the reality of what we are, and not what we thought we are, and not what the Devil tells us we are. None of those things are relevant when we’re dealing with a God who calls things which are not as though they are.