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God Is an Important Person

God is an important person who does not like being taken for granted.

I want to begin with a text from Isaiah 48: 911. It's one of the most G texts in the Bible. What makes it so radically G is that it reveals the G of God. These verses show better than any other text the supremacy of God in the heart of God.

For my own name's sake I delay my wrath;

for the sake of my praise I hold it back from you,

so as not to cut you off.

See, I have refined you, though not as silver;

I have tested you in the furnace of affliction.

For my own sake, for my own sake, I do this.

How can I let myself be defamed?

I will not yield my glory to another.

The burden that I want to bring to you this morning is this: God is an important person, and he does not like being taken for granted.

It is insulting to be taken for granted.

Suppose you ask a man, a president of a company, "Who, under God, is the most important person in your life?"

He says, "I guess it would be my for marketing."

You say, "What about your wife?"

He says, "Oh, of course, I just assumed that. I just take that for granted. It goes without saying."

A few people would assume that his abounding love and respect for his wife caused him to forget her. Most of us probably would assume that the reason she didn't come to mind is because she's not uppermost in his affections.

The wife wouldn't say, "I am so honored that I'm like the air he breathes. He never gives me a thought."

There is in most people's minds no direct correlation between taking something for granted and showing its value as a treasure. We can be certain the wife would say, "If I don't come to your mind when you're asked about your life's priorities, then it's because I'm not important to you. And if you think that I am honored by being taken for granted, you're wrong!"

It's possible to take important things like oxygen for granted. If you're taken for granted, you might feel indispensable. But not treasured or honored.

God is an important person; he does not like being taken for granted.

I think that everybody in America takes God for granted. I'd give this same talk to any group. If you were a group of counselors or social workers or pastors, I would say this.

I want to read a quote from Chares Misner; it's about Albert Einstein's view of preaching some fifty years ago. Misner says, "I do see the design of the universe as an essentially religious question. That is, one should have some kind of respect and awe for the whole business. It's very magnificent and shouldn't be taken for granted.

"In fact, I believe that is why Einstein had so little use for organized religion, although he strikes me as a basically religious man. He must have looked at what the preachers were saying about God and felt that they were blasphemingMy guess is that he (Einstein) simply felt that the religions he had run into didn't have a proper respect for the author of the universe."

If that was true fifty years ago about the preaching in this country, it's ten times truer today. God is not the subject matter of most preaching. And even when he is, those who have tasted his majesty are tempted to say, "This is blasphemy."

I will not isolate any particular group but simply declare with all my heart that God is an important person, and he does not like being taken for granted.

God is important to everything.

God is an important person because he created everything in the universe, including everybody and everything that we think is newsworthy and important.

See, it is I who created the blacksmith

who fans the coals into flame

and forges a weapon fit for its work

And it is I who have created the destroyer to work havoc.

(Isaiah 54:16)

God is important because everything , weapons, created by God.

God is an important person because he upholds the universe by the word of his power. He controls the affairs of all men and all nations with a conscious purpose and plan that originates in him. He changes times and epochs. Daniel tells us God removes kings and establishes kings. God does according to his will among the inhabitants of the earth, and none can stay his hand or say to him, "What are you doing?"

God is an important person because he knows all things. He knows every motive behind every event, all causes, designs, effects, structures, secrets, and all possibilities real and unreal.

I am God, and there is no other;

I am God, and there is none like me.

I make known the end from the beginning,

From ancient times, what is still to come.

I say: My purpose will stand,

And I will do all that I please.

(Isaiah 46: 910)

God is an important person because he's the only path to eternal life and the only source of everlasting joy.

You have made known to me the path of life;

You will fill me with joy in your presence,

With eternal pleasures at your right hand.

(Psalm 16:11)

Nowhere else can be found pleasures that last forever and fill to the brim.

God is an important person because his Son stands at the center of human history and is the source and measure of all truth and beauty and goodness. On God's saving will hangs the destiny of every single human being on the face of the earth.

God doesn't like being taken for granted.

God is an important person who does not like to be taken for granted. He does not like to be assumed. He doesn't like the image or the metaphor foundation as the main image to describe him because foundations are forgotten. They are in the basement. If you say, "He is the foundation of all we do. He doesn't care if he is forgotten," I say, "He doesn't like to be taken for granted."

The Psalm does not say "Great is the Lord and greatly to be taken for granted." It says, "Great is the Lord, and most worthy of praise" (Psalm 48:1).

Because God is always the greatest and most important person in everything we do, he is greatly to be spoken of and written of and thought of all the time. God makes known his displeasure with being taken for granted by telling us again and again in his word that his aim in every detail, from creation to consummation, is that he be honored, praised, glorified, loved, treasured, trusted, sung, declared, confessed, and enjoyed.

God will not be forgotten, taken for granted, assumed, or ignored. He tells us no Christian should take him for granted. Everything we do whether eating or drinking, we do to the glory of God. He chose those and those are the commas and the prepositions and the clauses of our lives.

There are no spaces where he does not want to be attended. God tells us that demons and angels will not be able to take him for granted. Every tongue in heaven and under the earth will confess that Jesus is Lord to the glory of God the Father. God will not allow himself to be taken for granted. Not one nation or people on the face of the earth will be allowed to take him for granted. All the ends of the earth shall remember and turn to the Lord, and all the families of the nations shall come and worship before him because dominion belongs to the Lord and he rules over the earth.

The Holy Spirit himself does not take God for granted. According to John 16:14, the Spirit comes with infinite energy to do one thing: glorify the Son of God. All the energy and attention of the Holy Spirit is devoted to seeing to it that the Son is not taken for granted but glorified among his people.

Jesus, the Son of God, does not take God for granted because the Bible tells us that he came into the world to this very hour, bowed his head, and said, "Father, for this purpose I have come into the world. Glorify yourself."

Most importantly, God does not take God for granted. God is central to God. God is supreme in the heart of God. "For this purpose I have raised you up," he says to Pharaoh. "For this purpose I have raised you up that I might declare my name among all the world."

In the Minneapolis Star Tribune is an entire section for sports. Can you believe an entire section of the newspaper for sports and not one column for God? Not one column is written about the maker of the universe who upholds the whole Coles Media industry by the power of his word. Not one minute for God on news. In twelve years of public education, not one hour relates to God, and not one page in Newsweek or Time.

What about evangelicals? I've been to church growth seminars where God is not once mentioned. I've been to lectures and talks on pastoral issues where he is not so much as alluded to. I have read strategies for every kind of recovery under the sun where God is not there. I have talked to students in seminaries who tell me of manifold, practical courses where God is peripheral at best. I have recently read mission statements of major evangelical organizations where neither Christ nor God is even mentioned.

I admit freely that I'm on a crusade, and I have one message: God is an important person, and he does not like being taken for granted. To be ignored flies in the face of God's eternal purpose to be known and loved and praised and enjoyed.

Neglecting the importance of God robs us of fullness of life.

When we take him for granted, it makes us superficial people: superficial pastors, superficial journalists, superficial educators. No matter how esteemed we are in the guild, no matter how many names or letters are after our names, no matter how many books may be written by us or about us, when the last word is spoken we will be superficial.

To be superficial is to deal with a subject and leave out the connection that gives it meaning and significance. If you deal with any subject in the little cocoon of godlessness, it is superficial no matter what prize it may win. God doesn't like being taken for granted.

Our family is deciding where to send our 13 to school. I visited a Christian school not long ago. In a moment of quiet, I asked two faculty members this question. "What is the ultimate goal of your education?" I thought I had tipped my hand with the word ultimate.

They smiled as though they'd been waiting for this question. They said, "Our goal in this institution is to train minds of young people so that they will think critically and become fully human."

They wondered why I didn't respond more energetically, and their faces looked questioning.

I said, "I thought maybe the mission statement of a Christian school would be different than an atheistic school." They were shocked. I said, "I just thought you'd say, 'To glorify God and enjoy him forever,' or something like that."

They said, "Oh, we assume that."

I did not say, "God doesn't like to be assumed." I thought it, but I didn't say it. I say it to you, and you're getting the overflow of that emotion.

If someone says, "Piper, that's just religion. Do you want to turn every magazine into a religion journal? What do you want from the Minneapolis paper? You're talking about religion."

My response: "It's not religion. It's reality. He is God! He holds all your molecules together moment by moment by the word of his power. He runs the world. He determines all things. Everything gets its meaning and significance from him. It's not religion, it's reality!"

Everything without exception has to do with God not secondarily but mainly. Not to show this is to be superficial and to fly in the face of God's purposes to be honored, loved, trusted, and treasured.

When a man forgets to mention his wife as a priority in his life, there is a defect in his life, in his love. When a Christian is asked about the priority of his life or when a Christian can spend hour after hour talking or writing about things and not have God come to mind, there is a defect in that person's love. The healing for that defect is an hourly reveling in God, savoring him, delighting in him.

We desperately need that healing again and again because the world ignores and neglects God. We simply absorb that attitude and take his absence for granted. Does it grieve you when you watch television and God isn't there? If not, perhaps you've absorbed the world's attitude. You can read page after page after page of the newspaper and God is not there. Are you stunned? Does it boggle your mind? They never even talk about him.

One discovery that has made the difference for me is this: The reason God does not like being taken for granted is not only that it robs him of glory but it robs me of joy. One of the greatest discoveries I have ever made is that these two God's goal to be glorified and my goal to be not at odds.

That's the gospel. The gospel is the good news that the goal of the holy God to be glorified and the goal of a sinful creature to be satisfied are not at odds but, in fact, come to simultaneous consummation in one experience called worship. God is most glorified in me when I am most satisfied in him. God is an important person who does not like to be taken for granted, and that is not a threat.

God does not like being taken for could hear it as a threat. But once you get hold of the discovery that God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him then we are no longer threatened. Rather we find a declaration of triumph in the sovereign purpose of God to be glorified in the world by satisfying his people in him.

My exhortation to you is to find your satisfaction in G in your career, not in your family, not in your health, not in your fame, not in your accomplishments. Find your heart's satisfaction in God. You will not take him for granted because he will be the treasure and the pleasure of your life moment by moment, and he will be glorified.

(c) John Piper

Preaching Today Tape #125


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John Piper is a theologian, pastor, and chancellor of Bethlehem College & Seminary in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

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Sermon Outline:


I. Being taken for granted is insulting

II. God is important to everything

III. God doesn't like being taken for granted

IV. Neglecting the importance of God robs us of fullness of life