First Presbyterian Church of Blackwood
21 E. Church Street
Blackwood, NJ 08012
Sermon Notes (Fourth Sunday in Lent ~ March 22, 2020)
Rev. Dr. Mouris A. Yousef, Pastor
Isaiah 40:21-26; Colossians 1:15-20
I have to admit that it took me a little longer to get today’s meditation done. What should I say to you this morning? What words of comfort, of encouragement and direction I might have for you today? As I said last Sunday, our world seems upside down right now. There is so much unrest, chaos, and distraction. The news about the outbreak of the COVID-19 is at the center of the world’s attention, causing millions of people around the world to panic, public gatherings and meetings to get cancelled, schools closing, travel bans, shortage of food and basic supplies, and limiting the movement of everyone.
I think in the light of what is going on in our world today, we have two choices. We can choose to either live in fear or live in faith. “Faith” is the key that unlocks the doors of heaven. Faith is what enables us to see beyond our present moment. “I believe” – stated the Apostles’ Creed, one of the oldest Christian affirmations of faith that was written shortly after the Apostolic age. Can we still believe in a loving, caring, compassionate God who is sovereign and powerful?
Today I would like to share with you a short meditation based on the opening statement of the Apostles Creed, “I believe in God the Father Almighty.” “I believe.” The society and culture in which we live in today is a culture of skepticism. Yet, it is in the midst of this skeptic culture that the Lord has called us, His Church, His Body, to be a beacon of hope and a sign of His presence. It’s for such a time as this.
Today and over the next few weeks, we will be looking at what we believe using the Apostles Creed. But what does the word “creed” mean anyway? The word creed comes from the Latin credo, which is the first word of “The Apostles’ Creed” in Latin, and means I believe. So, a creed signifies a brief, summary statement of that which we believe as Christians, that which we believe as the Church. Today I want to examine the opening statement of the Apostles Creed, “I believe in God the Father Almighty.”
Theologian Philip Schaff (1819-1893) once said, “As the Lord’s Prayer is the prayer of prayers, as the Ten Commandments the law of laws, so the Apostle’s Creed is the creed of creeds.” The first sentence of the Apostle’s Creed is so rich and deep in meaning. It is so loaded with uplifting truth. Of all the attributes, characteristics or traits the Church Fathers could have emphasized about the nature of God, they chose just two words – Father Almighty. The authors of the Creed were telling us that if we comprehend the meaning of those two words, we will know who God is, and that in itself, is enough to cast out fear.
First: God is our Father
“I believe in God the FATHER. Out of His abundant grace, God has chosen to reveal Himself to His people as their “Father.” In Exodus 4:22-23, God sent Moses to Pharaoh and that was the message, “Then say to Pharaoh, ‘This is what the Lord says: Israel is my firstborn son, and I told you, “Let my son go, so he may worship me.” Hosea 11:1 “Out of Egypt I called my son.” “You, Lord,” says the Prophet Isaiah 64:8, “are our Father.”
Jesus also encouraged His disciples to address God as a “Father.” In Matthew 7:9-11, Jesus said, “Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? 11 If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!”
Jesus also taught His disciples and us to pray to “Our Father who art in Heaven.” In fact, Jesus used the word “Abba”, a common Aramaic word for “Father” in Jesus’ day. It is a very intimate term that means, “Dear father” or “Daddy.”
So as we walk through the valley of the shadow of death, let’s always remember that our Heavenly Father is a loving, caring, and compassionate Daddy. This is a very uplifting and refreshing truth. As we face the storms of life, we need to anchor our lives on who God is ~ our Daddy.
Second: Our God, Our Father is Almighty
“I believe in God the Father ALMIGHTY.” The word “Almighty” is a translation of the Hebrew word “Shaddai,” as in El Shaddai, “The Almighty God.” That name or attribute for God first appears in Genesis 17 when God informs Abram (who is 99 years old) that a year later, his wife, Sarah, will give birth to a son. The very thought seems so absurd that Abram laughed out loud. The Lord guaranteed the promise with His name — El Shaddai, the Lord Almighty. If we go all the way to the last book of the Bible, we find the name “Almighty” appearing several times. Revelation 1:8 is a typical example: “'I am the Alpha and the Omega,’ says the Lord God, ‘who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty.’”
So we have two words put together in the Apostles’ Creed that summarize who God is — one is intimate and personal, and the other speaks of God’s unlimited power. To call God “Father” means that He is a personal God who cares about us. To call God “Almighty” means that He is able to do whatever needs to be done. There are no limits with Him.
I believe in God the Father Almighty. I personally do, and I hope you do too. Friends, in these uncertain days, let’s remember who is in charge. It’s God the Father Almighty. This is our hope, our confidence, and our peace in the midst of the storm. To God be the glory now and forever more. Amen.
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