We are not just another number to God

Welcome all, to another Sunday where we are fortunate enough to gather in fellowship, as one body of Christ, his church.

Today, if you are not aware is the first Sunday of Lent. And an indication that Easter is fast approaching. And like Easter todays sermon is also a focus on Christ in our lives, and his love for us, each and every one of us.

As I read what I have prepared for today, I would like you to maintain your focus on Christ and try and see him in your life as I relate him to mine.

To get us started, I have the great urge to read you a portion of Psalm 25:4-10, from the lectionary for today, I believe it will help put you in the right mindset and give your eyes and ears the best foundation to listen and see Christ in your life, personally.

Psalm 25 4-10
25:4 Make me to know your ways, O LORD; teach me your paths.
25:5 Lead me in your truth, and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all day long.
25:6 Be mindful of your mercy, O LORD, and of your steadfast love, for they have been from of old.
25:7 Do not remember the sins of my youth or my transgressions; according to your steadfast love remember me, for your goodness’ sake, O LORD!
25:8 Good and upright is the LORD; therefore he instructs sinners in the way.
25:9 He leads the humble in what is right, and teaches the humble his way.
25:10 All the paths of the LORD are steadfast love and faithfulness, for those who keep his covenant and his decrees.

With those words written by David, fresh in our minds, I tell you, God loves you. And I say it loud enough to speak to each of one of you individually. Personally.

3 words, that are easy to say. Easy to tell others, easy to use for any situation that confronts you in your life. But do we believe it? How do you know? I have wondered on it myself. I think its easier to believe God loves someone else, but when it comes to ourselves, it can be harder to accept and believe.

I think it is because, only we ourselves are aware of our failings, our wrongs, our poor judgements, our laziness and our, at times, lack of good works for Christ. But these all should humble us, in our understanding of God’s love for us.

In my place of work, and I’m sure like many others, there is a saying, “I am just another number, I mean nothing to them. If I go, someone else will replace me, better or worse, it doesn’t matter as is the number I am that is replaced. As such it is common thinking in the world today, that we are all just another number and easily replaceable.

My payslip reinforces this mind set too, as my name is not Ashley RAY, it is. My registered number of employment. My computer access is not my name it is my registered number. I go to a job, if other officers are there, they don’t ask for my name they ask for my registered number so its easier to find me on the computer system.

This is not unique to my organisation and I am sure you can all relate to it in some way. Look at your bank cards.

I challenge you to go to a bank and ask to withdraw money out of your account only with your name. You Can’t! You need your account number before anything can happen. Even now I can turn you into numbers, by counting how many are here and recording it.

But being concerned about numbers shows a human concern, ooh not enough people, or oh we have too many. It shows our human thinking and how the ways of the world influence our mindset and way of thinking and consequently our faith and relationship with Christ.

With this theme, an often-daily activity for all of us, is it a wonder that at times, we fall into a way of thinking and belief that we are just another number, what’s the point of it all.

I’ll tell you who we are another number too, the Devil. One more sole, collected by him, in his attempts to gain the worship of the world, by accusing, tempting and deceiving. Feeding his pride and sin against God, his adversary.

So, are we just another number to God?

Have you ever asked that question? More importantly, how do you honestly answer it and why? John 3:16, tells us, no! as Jesus died for us.

But like Gods people from the beginning of time and throughout the bible, us humans tend to doubt and turn from God, finding comfort and control, in our own plans, desires and knowledge, leading us to temptation, human concerns for self.

 Our own self interests. It didn’t take long for the Israelites in the desert, 40 days it is recorded as, after seeing with their own eyes, what God can do because of the love he had for them in helping them escaping Egypt. However, it was all soon forgotten while Moses was on Mt Sinai conversing with God, being given the ten commandments. Instead of maintaining their focus on God, without Moses, they built and worshipped a golden calf.

You see, when left on our own, our self-interests and concerns, affects our ability to see, know and understand Gods Love for us. I know God loves me. But what makes me understand the reason why he does? Especially when it is so easy for me to be a sinner. As are we not born, sinners.

But realise also, that we are born, to be loved and too love. We need the love of our parents to survive. The love of a cuddle to settle a newborn. The Love given by a newborn, as a natural reflex of crabbing a parent’s finger when you touch the palm of their fresh little hands. The Instinct a clear indicator of the trust and love they have already in them to give and act on, without even seeing their parents, but importantly already knows of them.

The parents love for a child is immediate and consuming because of who they are to the child. The newborns love is based off not seeing but believing and totally trusting in their love. This helps us to understand Gods Love for us.

God loves you, not because of who you are or what you’ve done, God loves you, because of who he is. I hope you heard that. Listen carefully as I will say it again, as its important – God loves you, because of who he is.

He is our creator, He is our saviour, he is our king, Our God. He is Love. And he knows you. Who you are and what you can be?

Worldly concerns easily distract us from Gods Love and take our eyes off him, instead focusing on ourselves — our insecurities, shortcomings, sins and insignificance.

Now, I’ve never built a golden calf. However, I have become jealous of my neighbours and their apparent better lifestyle and financial wealth. I have put my self-glory first before Gods. I have even hung up a picture of my favourite footy team in our home, to give them praise and glory after they won 2010 NRL grand finale, declaring my love for them.

You know what though? Ask any player on that team. I can assure you; they would not even know who I am, yet alone that I exist. Yet, I would say, I loved them! How foolish was I.

Proverbs 15:21 Folly is a joy to him who lacks sense, but a man of understanding walks straight ahead.

That verse should strike out at all of us. It does for me and reminds to be aware of worldly distractions and encourages me to continue my walk in my faith and Gods love, as he does! know who I am, and he wants to love me. He wants to walk with me and you.

So Why do you love? As Christians, no, I’ll call you disciples as that is what you are and why you’re here.  You love, as you are made in Gods image, made with Love from love, because he first loved us, as read in 1 John 4.  

So now, I will ask you another question, like I asked leesh this week. How do you know, your partner or children and or grandchildren love you?

When I asked Leesh this, she stopped and thought about it. Then replied to me, a simple answer, to such a big question. I just know….and how do I know she loves me… I also just know… I feel it, in me.

So, it’s a knowing, it’s a feeling you have which it seems doesn’t need a technical and long-winded answer. It is a faith!

What is your answer to that question? Is it the same? I asked Carolyn, Trevor’s wife this same question, she too gave the same answer.

So how do we just know? Delving deeper, my knowing comes from how she speaks to me and how I hear her words.

How she provides for me a goodness and kindness. How she gives me a feeling of peace, comfort and safety. How she wants what is best for me and shares in my joy and pain.

Can you see God here in what he provides?

How do I know my dad loves Me. I just know. I trust he loves me. I hear it in his voice. I see it when I visit, and he just wants my time. My mum as well. 

How do I know my children love me, they come to me for comfort and help? They share their exciting news and laugh or cry with me about their daily events.


They share with me the good and the bad. They know I care, and that I love them. And that I am here for them.

Sure, they get cranky and frustrated at me for saying no to things they want, but I have reasons behind why and sometimes even if I explained why, they wouldn’t understand.

Is this not like us and God. Always there, waiting for us to come and spend time with him. Share our thoughts, are laughter and tears. Provide for us, peace and comfort. Even saying no to us, when we think it is the best plan for us.

Also take note in how we can show God our love. By spending time with him. Talking to him. Like a child.

However, it is important to understand these feelings are only possible as a result of a relationship and understanding we have between each other.

That you have, with your special people in your lives. A relationship, I want you to realise, had to have a beginning. An initial wanting to engage in a relationship that turned into a relationship of love. What better example than that of mother, eagerly awaiting the birth of her child. To start a relationship of love. Like Christ wants with us.

As we grow up, from a child to an adult, we find ourselves going on dates, having boyfriends and girlfriends, why? An urge, a feeling of missing something in our life, the desire for a partner, a companion calls out to us.

I too for a time, was searching for my wife. Thank God, I found her.

This same feeling and urge of missing something in my life, brought me to church and now up here, speaking.

This same urge I dare say, called out and brought each one of you into the Love of God. Into his church and our fellowship.

A wanting of companionship, peace, comfort, LOVE in our lives that we could not satisfy with worldly and material things.

This is all directly relatable to our faith and our journey with God and the personal relationship he has and wants with you.

Knowing God loves us, comes down to our simplicity in just knowing and trusting that he just does. Because he does! Psalm 46:10, he says, Be still and know that I am your God. Our god is Love. So Be quiet and know, allow God to love you. Have faith!

And like above when I explore the reasons of why I just know leesh loves me. It becomes apparent to us that the feeling I have of knowing is directly linked to the relationship I have, the relationship I share with her by allowing and choosing to let her in my life.

And as such, knowing God loves you. Is directly linked to the relationship you have with him. When you engage with him, when you seek him, when you listen to him and when you speak to him. When you allow him in. In our upcoming reading, Noah, had a relationship with God and one that he focused on and trusted in fully. Noah, you see, allowed God into his life.

Do you allow Christ in your life? I wonder if there is a direct correlation between the peace and joy in your life and your relationship with Christ. Not sure… What mood do you leave church in on Sundays? Is it different to other times in your life? That’s your personal question to answer with God?

Our next reading for today is from Genesis and highlights the relationship Noah had with God and the need God recognises for Noah and himself to signify their relationship. It is at the end of the flood and God has just made a promise, a covenant with Noah and us, all flesh of the world.

9:12 God said, “This is the sign of the covenant that I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for all future generations:
9:13 I have set my bow in the clouds, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and the earth.
9:14 When I bring clouds over the earth and the bow is seen in the clouds,
9:15 I will remember my covenant that is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh; and the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh.
9:16 When the bow is in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth.”
9:17 God said to Noah, “This is the sign of the covenant that I have established between me and all flesh that is on the earth.”

Straight away, we are drawn to the sign of this covenant. God knowing us provides us with this sign to help us, see to believe. He truly knows us and our fickleness. The Bow in the clouds, is used by God here to show you a symbol and every living creature on earth that God promises, that he does love you and that he is for us. A forever reminder to God and you, each individually, that you are in his thoughts and he cares what happens in your life. That you are important to him and that he acts out of love for you. A promise that the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh, this shows us his patience and perseverance for us, His commitment and willingness to care and save us.

A promise made with love and an example for knowing you are not just a number to him. You are you! And Your life, happiness and saving matters to him. The offer to be saved was provided to the people of the world before the ark doors where shut. Their lives mattered too, otherwise why would he offer to save them. However, they did not listen or want to listen. Foolishness their ruler and comforter, resulting in death. Just like it is still today.

It is not by accident that a rainbow has 7 beautiful colours. The perfectness of it, that even in these days, it still managers to stop and captivate all who see one. Its like you win a prize when you see one. Look a rainbow and everyone looks, always with enthusiasm. I, like you, have seen many, yet they are never boring or dismissed as just another cloud in the sky. They have a sense of wonder and awe about them. They demand us to stop and look. We do that without knowing. Wonder why? don’t forget that a rainbow is not just for you, it is also for God.  9:16, When the bow is in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth.” 

As people often look at the moon at the same time in different parts of the world. I admit, I have done this with leesh when we first started dating and I was away for work, Next time you see a rainbow, I challenge you to look and think, about God, Jesus Christ, also looking at the same rainbow at the same time and share that personal experience. As have no doubt, he will be watching with you.

His covenant the rainbow represents, is more than a contract, which depends on both parties abiding by rules and stipulations, which we know are easily broken by humans to benefit another no matter the consequences for the other party. His covenant is unbreakable by him, as it’s his promise. His word. That will not be broken. Not like the human word.

Allow the rainbow as a symbol, to see and appreciate how God loves us. And how it is a knowing. A faith and trust that he does. That you can see, to believe.

But, remember it also requires and reminds us to have a relationship with him. Both of you stopping and seeing the rainbow, as you are alive standing breathing, seeing, so too is God, looking with you… Say hello!

It has been mentioned before and I will mention it again, the Bible, is a story of God’s love for us and how he wants to save us from ourselves and does through the death of his only son, on the cross, by Humans hands. Our final reading speaks of this.

1 Peter 3:18-22 NIV

18 For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive in the Spirit. [19] After being made alive, he went and made proclamation to the imprisoned spirits— [20] to those who were disobedient long ago when God waited patiently in the days of Noah while the ark was being built. In it only a few people, eight in all, were saved through water, [21] and this water symbolizes baptism that now saves you also—not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a clear conscience toward God. It saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ, [22] 22 who has gone into heaven and is at God’s right hand —with angels, authorities.

Again, I remind you, we are not and never will be just another number to God. We are known by him. We are important to him.

Isaiah 43:4, Since you are precious and honoured in my sight, and because I love you. Reminds us that God has loved us since the beginning of time and will for eternity.

I as a father, would die for my family in full acceptance of the cost on me and what the death may or may not consist of. I would do it, as a result of my love for them.

However, I would not knowingly die for someone I do not know or never met, let alone, despised me. I would rather be alive with my family, which all of us, I dare say will attest too and share agreement with.

However, Jesus Christ did, because of who he is. Because of love. The love he has for you, Sitting right here today and the person next to you and outside on the street. The same love he had for Adam and Eve and Noah. God has never not loved you and never not known you. Christ death supports this.

Allow that please to humble you, into thankfulness.

Isaiah 49:15 reminds us of this,
Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you.

Even the love of a mother and her child is not as strong as the love Christ has for you and us. When you reflect on that, it truly must be an incredible love.

An incredible love that’s not dictated by our works and how loveable we can be or because we deserve it. It is purely because of who he is.

Love defined in the modern-day dictionary is an intense feeling of deep affection. A great interest and pleasure in something.

The bible defines love 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 as
patient, kind. not envious, not boastful, not proud. [5] It does not dishonour others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. [6] Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. [7] 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

This is God’s love for you, readily available. Jesus crying in the scriptures is centred around this love and the hope and deep affection he has for us. His always hope, for us to turn to him and not the path of death. His love and concern for us, seen as tears, we too, also have each experienced and know all about.


The Prodigal son story is another example that, Jesus is not just hoping you see how you should act in a similar situation in your life. Or how you should forgive. It’s not about you. It’s about Gods glory. His helping you to see what his love is and how strong and everlasting it is.

You as the son that ran away to be tempted, living in sin. him the Father waiting and wanting your return. And celebrating on it.

But the return is one based on self-revelation and understanding and trust. Humbled by the outside world. Full of Shame for what he had done yet. Accepting it and turning back to God, knowing he is not worthy of forgiveness but by repenting (turning back to God) he is exercising his hope, acting on his hope. And his father, does not let him down. Because of the love he has for him. He ran to see him. He didn’t make him wait and come and grovel.

Just Like God. Because you are not a number to God. You are special and loved so much. It is a similar message in the Good Samaritan story and the lost coin. Your worth it to God. You are a treasure and valued so much as you are his creation and gift to this world. 

If I never give time to leesh in our relationship, how will she tell me she loves me and I tell her I love her. How will our love grow? It wouldn’t, it would deteriorate. To fix it would require, a hope and a lot of action on both our parts.

It’s the same with your relationship God. How can your relationship with God grow if you don’t give him your time? It can’t. Although, he has already done all the hard work, for you. All you must do is turn to him and continue to focus on him and his love.

In the human world, you don’t get anything for nothing. But in Gods world, you get everything as his already paid the debt!

Now as you leave here today, know you are not a number to God. That his love for you is so much greater and more life changing than you think. And that the next time you see a rainbow, see the wonder as a beautiful sign of Hope, that Christ gives to you. And initiate a conversation as he is watching with you.

I’ll finish with
Ephesians 3:17-19 NIV
And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, [18] may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, [19] 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge —that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

Amen

Prayer

Lord, I ask you, please help us all to see you and know you alive and working in the world around us. Help us to know beyond doubt, that we are not just another number to you, but someone you love and cherish.

Help us to stop and focus on you. To give you our time and our love to strengthen our personal relationship with you and our faith.

Give us the strength, perseverance and patience we need every day in a world, focused on human concerns and the distractions tempting us into the ways of the world.

Help us to live for you and your will and glory and not that of our own.

Work in our hearts lord, help us to go for you.

Amen

A side note, I got to work on Friday afternoon, and I was with Trevor. I mentioned that I asked his wife the day before, how she knows he loves her. He replied to me, Oh. You’re the reason. He went on and explained he woke up Friday morning with Caroline asking him, the same question. However, she didn’t like his reply. He said, Because I’m still here.

But there is a teaching in this for us. Because, Like Trev said, God can also say to us, Because he is still here and he is not going anywhere, because he loves you. He chooses to love you and stay with you. Benediction
Ephesians 3:21 NIV
21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen