Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Change Up? No, A Curve

Anyone who knows me, soon realizes I have a passion for baseball. My first real memories of baseball coincide with the rise of the Royals in the mid-1970s. I was six when Chris Chambliss homered off Mark Littell in Game 5 of the ALCS and I cried for hours afterward. I soon started playing competitive baseball, and played at very high levels during my teenage years.

A good baseball player must develop different skills. Primarily, one must learn to hit and to play defense. I was ok on defense, but I did not usually hit very well (only a couple of seasons was I truly any good). So, I trained myself to be good in the other area – pitching. I had one major advantage at a very early age. I was, and am, left-handed. Then, as I grew older, I developed a very good curveball. And finally, in my later teens, I developed a high-velocity fastball. But the curveball was my out-pitch for most of my years as pitcher.

What is not well-understood about the curveball, is that the curving is not what is most important. The fact that the pitch comes in much slower – often 10-20 miles per hour slower is what makes the pitch effective. But, it does curve. Dizzy Dean was once challenged by someone who said the curveball was an optical illusion. Dean’s response was to have the guy go stand on the other side of a tree. I will throw a curveball and “whomp him.”

Some of the best fastball pitchers of all time actually have been voted as the top curveball pitcher in their team’s history. Bob Feller, Sandy Koufax, Nolan Ryan, Steve Carlton, Dwight Gooden and others all had tremendous fastballs, but their curveballs made them truly great.

Why am I talking about curveballs? Well, our church has been thrown somewhat of a curveball. Most of you know that we were scheduled to vote on, and begin, our renovations this past week. But the air conditioner started having problems in late July and now has completely quit. Do we press on and commit to renovating the sanctuary and paying for a new heating and cooling system? Or do we press pause on the renovations to take care of what seems to be a pressing need? We will soon meet to discuss these very options once we have the proper bids, but for now, we simply must recognize the curveball and consider how we will adapt.

The question is: Was this curveball from God? God does sometimes throw curveballs. Paul was ready to go to Asia and other areas until God sent a vision for him to go to Macedonia. Sometimes God helps us overcome a curveball. For instance, Daniel regularly went about his regularly duties of praying to God only to be arrested and thrown to the lions. But God saw to it that the lions’ feast would come a few hours later after Daniel was released unharmed. And finally, we can say with certainty that God wants to keep us from striking out against the curveball of sin, and thus, He sent Jesus to pinch hit for us, so to speak, to cover our sin. But our sin does still have consequences, and that is the story we are going to review today.

Our story is about King David near the very end of his life. The Bible says that David was a “man after God’s own heart” (Acts 13.22), but that does not mean he was sinless. In fact, a few weeks ago, the Sunday School lesson was about David and his mating with Bathsheba and the subsequent killing of her husband Uriah. But what separates David from so many others was His true repentance. He did not just confess a wrong to God, He truly turned from that sin even though the consequences haunted him for the rest of his life.

Today’s story is another sin in the life of David. It was a sin of pride which impacted the nation. The story is found in 2 Samuel 24.

Our Pride vs God’s Desire (vv. 1-9)

2 Samuel chapter 24 is concerned with the effects of David calling for census. In your notes, you will see that the principle issue here is not the census, it is the placement of David’s trust. A couple of notes are important here.

First, noticed that verse 1 says God incited David to take the census. Is God to blame for David’s sin? No. James 1.13 clearly states that God does not tempt us. So, what are we to think in this situation? Well, God does allow us to be tempted. We can find part of the answer in 1 Chronicles 21 which says, “Then Satan stood against Israel and incited David to number Israel.”

That sentence makes more sense to us, but now we have an apparent contradiction. Many people will use passages like this to say that the Bible has errors because it contradicts itself. Such statements are why theology is important. Our understanding of God comes from Scripture, but our understanding of Scripture depends upon our view of God. While the two versus seem to contradict one another, we can look at a third passage like Job 1 and 2 that reveals that Satan can only do what God allows. Thus, a most reasonable explanation for this apparent contradiction is that God allows Satan to incite David to take the census. Why did the author of 2 Samuel state it differently? I don’t know. Maybe just to show that God is in control.

What we must see here is that after David was incited, Joab warned him against it. But David’s pride was set to take the census, and so he did. David had listened to the council of Nathan earlier when David desired to build God a house (temple), but God said no (2 Sam 7). Here, however, pride entered the equation. David desired to know how powerful he was. A census would show him and others just how powerful he had become. And what became known is that 1.3 million men were available for war.

Principle: The issue isn’t the census, it is where David’s trust is placed.

Is it ok to take a census (count)? Sure.
  • The Bible records how many Jesus fed on two different occasions.
  • The Bible records how many were saved on the day of Pentecost for instance. 
  • The Bible speaks of 144,000 souls in Revelation.

But here is the issue. In each of those situations, what matters is not how many people are involved; the key is Who is involved. That is, the focus is on who God is and what He is doing. David wanted to count the people so he knew how many were “valiant men who drew the sword” (2 Samuel 24.9). In other words, David was placing his trust in the military might of Israel rather than in the power of an Almighty God. Thus, David sinned, and he is given a choice of consequences.

Our Sin Brings God’s Judgment (vv. 10-17)

This story is unique because David is given His choice of judgment. Notice, David realizes His sin AND confesses it in verse 10, but that does not erase a need for punishment. God uses a man named Gad to lay out the alternatives. Three are provided:
  • Three years of famine (on all of Israel)
  • Three months on the run (David, not Israel)
  • Three days of pestilence (on all of Israel)

David’s choice is not the one that would only impact him. He chooses pestilence which causes 70,000 people to die. Three days, 70,000! But David knows one thing – God’s mercy will prevail. God intervened before Jerusalem could be destroyed. Before he realized his sin, David must have felt good knowing the size of his army. Now, undoubtedly, some of those men had died, but more importantly, David realized that no matter the army, God is in control.

David knew of God’s control when he fought against Goliath.
David knew of God’s control when he fled from Saul for several years.
But David forget about God when he mated with Bathsheba and then had Uriah killed.

However, just as he repented when confronted about Bathsheba, he repented here as well. But the cost to Israel was great.

Principle 2: The sin of one person can impact many.

Reggie mentioned Achan last week (Joshua 7). Achan’s greed at Jericho cost Israel in battle at Ai. For David, the result was worse. Far more people died, in part, because it was a leader who was responsible for the sin. But it was also David’s pleas for the people (v17) that kept the situation from being any worse. (See 1 Chronicles 21.14-17 for a parallel to this story.)

What we must realize is that when we sin, punishment may come, but God is a merciful God. We should repent as soon as we realize our error and pray for God’s mercy to extend to us and to all who might be impacted.

Our Worship as Response to God’s Grace (vv. 18-25)

Gad came to David the same day that the Lord withdrew the pestilence. Gad told David what to do and David did not hesitate at all. This immediate action shows that David trusts Gad. What was David to do? Worship. He was to praise God – not just for what God did, but for who God is.

When David went to the place where he was instructed to build the altar, the man who owned the property offered the site and even the oxen and other items needed for the sacrifice. But David would not receive the items as a gift. He was determined to pay for them. Why? Because the payment of sin requires sacrifice.

David built the altar. He made the sacrifices, and the Lord received them. And this place that David purchased, this place that David sacrificed would become the site where the temple was built after Solomon became king (1 Chronicles 22.1).

Principle 3: Worship comes at a price.

David realized his mistake, pleaded for God’s mercy, and then was instructed to make sacrifice. David knew that sin needs a payment and he could not cover his sin otherwise. He had received so much from God, he needed to pay for what he would sacrifice to God. Of course, God knew our sin needed payment as well. It was God who chose the place and the Person to be our sacrifice, but do we offer nothing in return for payment? Do we ignore the sacrifice of God in our worship and instead complain when we are asked to give of ourselves in some way?

God deserves worship for who He is, let alone what He has done. But God gave up His Son so that we might worship. Will our worship cost us nothing in return?


Originally, this week’s message was to focus on the launch of a capital campaign to renovate the sanctuary. But, we have been thrown a curveball. Yet God doesn’t want us to fail! The timing could have been horrible – but God! I want to be careful here because the situation we have studied today does not perfectly resonate with ours, but I do think we can find some parallels. At a minimum, I believe our current situation requires us to ask some questions.

1.   Are the proposed renovations the right thing to do at this time or were we incited to do them? Please understand, I am not saying they were wrong or are wrong. I am simply asking a question. The carpet needs to be replaced which means the pews will need to be removed. So, in a practical sense the plans were fine. But are they right?

Prior to two weeks ago, our goal was to focus on the aesthetics of the church, and from Scripture, we have examples of how much God cared about the design and ornateness of the tabernacle and temple. But we must ask ourselves, how necessary are the aesthetics in light of our new situation with the heating and cooling devices?

2.   God’s mercy may have prevented us from a sin, but at a minimum it has given us an opportunity to reevaluate our overall situation. Whatever we choose from here will be with a timely reminder that money is finite and we need to be wise so we do not put the church into a financial pitfall.

God says, I will have mercy on whom I have mercy (Exodus 33.19), but I believe one reason we have been spared financially is because of our generosity toward others. Next week, we start collecting for the Missouri Missions Offering. We give to North American Missions (Annie Armstrong) and International Missions (Lottie Moon). We pack shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child, and support the BSU at Northwest. We provide Christmas for a local family and help with school supplies. And over the last eleven months we have provided over $2,000 in money to help pastors in Kenya – first buying a motorbike, and now supplying their gas. In other words, we are a church that has already given much, and thus I truly believe God spared us that we might be able to give more even as we will soon vote on some major expenditures.

3.   Because we have been spared, we must praise God. But to praise him, as we have seen, requires sacrifice. Frankly, to praise him as we have come to expect to do so on a typical Sunday will require a sacrifice on our part.

The reality is that we have some work to do. The truth is that we have had had comfort in our day because of the expense of others in the past. We need to consider how the future of the church will benefit others at our expense. Comfort always has a price to be paid by someone. In fact, the Bible says that we, you and I, were bought at a price (1 Corinthians 6.19-20) – our eternal comfort is only possible because of the expense of Jesus’ life.

JOURNEY: R – Revere

That’s why this message must have the JOURNEY letter of R for REVERE. David was offered the area for sacrifice for free. He was offered the necessary items to sacrifice for free. But David knew something we should not forget – worship requires sacrifice. Maybe it is a sacrifice of pride, or money, or time, or all three, but we cannot truly worship – that is, we cannot truly appreciate God, unless we are willing to sacrifice.


Learn: I am going to ask you to give. Not today, but soon. In April, I preached a sermon from 2 Corinthians 8 to help us prepare our hearts for this day. This day has now arrived and we do not yet know how we will proceed, in part, because we do not know the cost. But in order to come and worship in this place, we need to be like David and be ready to pay a fair portion for us to worship in relative comfort.

So, I am asking you to focus this week and next (or, at least, until our meeting) on asking God:

1. What He would have us as a church do regarding these projects?

2. What He would have you do regarding an extra financial contribution to allow the church to do what He wants us to do?

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

The Love God Hates (Love of “The World”) by Reggie Koop

1 John 2.12-17:
12 I am writing to you, little children, because your sins are forgiven for his name’s sake.
13 I am writing to you, fathers, because you know him who is from the beginning. I am writing to you, young men, because you have overcome the evil one. I write to you, children, because you know the Father.
14 I write to you, fathers, because you know him who is from the beginning. I write to you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God abides in you, and you have overcome the evil one.
15 Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world. 17 And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.

This passage is a warning from John. It is about a “wrong” kind of love that God hates. This love is a love for “the world.” There are four reasons why Christians should not love the world.
1. Because of what the world is.
2. Because of what the world does to us. (1 John 2:15-16)
3. Because of what a Christian is. (1 John 2:12-14)
4. Because of where the world is going. (1 John 2:17)

Let’s break these down one by one.

1. Because of What the WORLD Is
The New Testament word for world has three different meanings:
a. Physical world – (i.e. earth, Acts 17:24, “God made the world and all things therein.”)
b. Mankind – (John 3.16, “For God so loved the world”)
c. Both meanings together – (John 1:10, “He (Jesus) was in the world, and the world was made by Him, and the world (mankind) knew Him not.”)

This warning, “love not the world” is about not loving the world of men. The world here is our enemy – and invisible, spiritual system opposed to God and Christ.

Six Ways This World is Our Enemy:

a. The world is Satan’s system of opposing the work of Christ on earth.

b. The world is opposite of what is godly and holy and spiritual.

Consider these four points about Satan and this world.
1) 1 John 2:16: “For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life[c]—is not from the Father but is from the world.”
2) 1 John 5:19: “And we know that we are of God, and the whole world lieth in wickedness.”
3) John 12.31: Jesus called Satan “The prince of this world”
4) Ephesians 6:11-12: The devil has an organization of evils spirits working with him and influencing the affairs of this world.

c. Two opposite approaches for people

1) The Holy Spirit uses people to accomplish God’s will on earth.
2) Satan uses people to fulfill his evil purposes.

Unsaved people, whether they realize it or not, are energized by “the prince of the power of the air, that now worketh in the children of disobedience.” Ephesians 2:1-2

d. Unsaved people belong to this world. Jesus called them “the children of this world.”

“And the lord commended the unjust steward, because he had done wisely: for the children of this world are in their generation wiser than the children of light.” Luke 16:8

When Jesus was here on earth, the people of “this world” did not understand Him, not do they now understand those of us who trust Him. 

“Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not.” 1 John 3:1

“If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.” John 15:19

e. A believer’s citizenship is in heaven. “For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ...” Philippians 3:20

f. If it were not for the Holy Spirit living in us and the spiritual resources we have – prayer, Christian fellowship and the Word – we could never “make it” here on earth.

2. Because of What the World Does to Us (1 John 2:15-16)


1 John 2:15: “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.”

Worldliness is not so much a matter of activity but of attitude.  It is possible for a Christian to stay away from questionable amusements and doubtful places and still love the world, for worldliness is a matter of the heart.  To the extent that a Christian loves the world system and the things in it, he does not love the Father.

1 John 2:17: “and the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth forever.”

Worldliness not only affects your response to the love of God, it also affects your response to the will of God.  Doing the will of God is a joy for those living in the love of God. “If ye love me, keep my commandments.” But when a believer loses his enjoyment of the Father’s love, he finds it hard to obey the Father’s will.

Worldly Devices

The world uses three devices to trap Christians. 1 John 2:16: “for all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the father, but is of the world.”

a. The Lust (Desires) of the Flesh
b. The Lust of the Eyes
c. The Pride of Life

These same three devices trapped Eve in the garden.

“And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food (lust of the flesh), and that it was pleasant to the eyes (lusts of the eyes), and a tree to be desired to make one wise (pride of life), she took of the fruit thereof,” (Genesis 3:6)

The Lust of the Flesh
The lust of the flesh applies to anything that appeals to man’s fallen nature.  The flesh does not mean “the body,” but the basic nature of man that makes him blind to spiritual truth. 1 Corinthians 2:14 says, “but the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.”

The flesh is the nature we receive in our physical birth.  Spirit is the nature we receive in the second birth. Jesus words to in John 3:5-6 show this clearly. “Jesus answered, ‘Verily, verily, I say unto thee, except a man be born of water and of the spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.”

Galatians 5:17-23 shows the battle between these to two natures:
“For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would. But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.”

God has given man certain desires, and these desires are good: hunger, thirst, weariness, and sex.  Nothing is wrong with eating, drinking, sleeping, and having children. But when the flesh controls them, they become sinful lusts.

Hunger is not evil – gluttony is sinful
Thirst is not evil – drunkenness is a sin
Sleep is a gift of God – laziness is shameful
Sex is a precious gift from God used rightly – used wrongly it is immoral

The truth is that the world appeals to the normal appetites and tempts us to satisfy them in forbidden ways.

What does God say about the old nature, the flesh?

Romans 7:18: “For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not.”

Other references:
John 6:63
Philippians 3:3
Romans 13:14

The Lust of the Eyes
The lust of the eyes are pleasures that gratify the sight and mind. The eyes are a gateway into the mind.  Look at Joshua 7, especially verse 21.

Joshua 7:1 & 21
1 But the children of Israel committed a trespass in the accursed thing: for Achan, the son of Carmi, the son of Zabdi, the son of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah, took of the accursed thing: and the anger of the LORD was kindled against the children of Israel.
21 When I saw among the spoils a goodly Babylonish garment, and two hundred shekels of silver, and a wedge of gold of fifty shekels weight, then I coveted them, and took them; and, behold, they are hid in the earth in the midst of my tent, and the silver under it.

Boastful Pride of Life
God’s glory is rich and full; man’s glory is vain and empty. What is the American dream?  Why do people try to outdo others in their spending and their getting?  Why do we buy things that we can’t afford?

Once the world takes over in one of these areas, a Christian will soon realize it.  They will lose the enjoyment of the Father’s love and the desire to do the Father’s will.  The Bible will become boring and prayer will be a difficult chore. Even Christian fellowship may seem empty and disappointing.  
Becoming worldly doesn’t happen all of a sudden. Worldliness creeps up on a believer.  Three stages are involved.

a. Friendship of the World
James 4:4: “Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.”
Contrast 1 John 3:13: “Marvel not, my brethren, if the world hate you.”

b. The Christian becomes spotted by the world.
James 1:27: Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.”
Gradually a believer accepts and adopts the ways of the world. When this happens the world ceases to hate the Christian and starts to love him.  Thus, the warning “love not the world.”

c. The believer becomes conformed to the world.
Romans 12:2: And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”
This can lead into being “condemned with the world.”
1 Corinthians 11:32: “But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world.”

3. Because of What a Christian Is
1 John 2:12-14: 
12 “I write unto you, little children, because your sins are forgiven you for his name’s sake. 
13 I write unto you, fathers, because ye have known him that is from the beginning. I write unto you, young men, because ye have overcome the wicked one. I write unto you, little children, because ye have known the Father.
14 I have written unto you, fathers, because ye have known him that is from the beginning. I have written unto you, young men, because ye are strong, and the word of God abideth in you, and ye have overcome the wicked one.”

What are the titles referring to?

“Little children” (1 John 2:12) refers to all believers. Literally, it means “born ones.” All Christians have been born into God family through faith in Jesus Christ and their sins have been forgiven. This fact of being in God’s family should discourage us from becoming friendly with the world. We begin as little children (born ones), but as we grow spiritually we overcome the world.

“Fathers” refers to mature believers who have an intimate relationship with God. Because they know God, they know the dangers of the world.  

“Young men” are the conquerors. They have overcome the wicked one (Satan). They overcame through the Word of God. They are not fully mature, but maturing because they use the Word of God effectively. The Word is the only weapon that will defeat Satan (See Ephesians 6:17).

The “little children” in verse 13 are different from verse 12. Two different Greek words are used. Here it refers to “immature ones” or little children under the authority of teachers and tutors. These have not yet grown up in Christ.

Review to This Point: A Christian stays away from the world:
1. Because of what the world is – a satanic system that hates and opposes Christ.
2. Because of what the world does to us – attracts us to live in sin.
3. Because of what the Christian is a child of God.

4. Because of Where the World Is Going (1 John 2:17)

The only sure thing about this world system is that it is not going be here forever. All are passing away. What is going to be left? Only what is part of the will of God!!

a. Spiritual Christians are to keep themselves “loosely attached” to this world. Because they are living for something better. Hebrews 11:13 says, “These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.”

John is contrasting two ways of life.
1) A worldly person lives for the pleasures of the flesh.
2) A dedicated Christian lives for the joys of the spirit.    
A worldly-person lives for what he can see (lust of the eyes).
A spiritual-believer lives for the unseen realities of God.

2 Corinthians 4:18: “While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.”

A worldly-minded person lives for the pride of life – what appeals to men. A Christian who does the will of God lives for God’s approval.

b. 1 John 2.17 refers to Christians who dedicate themselves to doing God’s will. Those who obey will abide (remain) forever. After all of this earth and everything therein has been replaced by the new heaven and new earth, God’s faithful will remain, sharing the glory of god for eternity.

This present world system is not a lasting one. 1 Corinthians 7:31 says, “And they that use this world, as not abusing it: for the fashion of this world passeth away.”

The New Testament says a benefit of salvation is to know the will of God.

1) The privilege of knowing God’s will (Acts 22:14). Colossians 1:9 says God wants us to be filled with the knowledge of his will.

2) Understand His will. (Ephesians 5:17) It is important that we understand God’s will for our lives and see purpose he is filling.

3) After we know the will of God, we should do it from the heart. (Ephesians 6:6) We are to walk the talk. (Matthew 7:21) The more we obey, the better we are able to discover and follow God’s will. (Romans 12:2)

4) Mature in God’s will. God’s goal for us is that we will “stand complete in all will of god.”  By standing complete in God’s will, we know what the Lord wants us to do.

5) How does one discover the will of God?
a) Surrender – Romans 12:1-2; John 7:17
b) Revealed through God’s Word – Psalm 119:105.  Read God’s Word daily. Meditate on it. Apply it.
c) Through circumstances, God may open and close doors. Test this leading by the Word.
d) Through prayer and the working of the Holy Spirit in our hearts.  As we pray about a decision, the Spirit speaks to us. Test this by the Word, not by the flesh or circumstances or feelings, these could be led by Satan to lead us astray.

1. A Christian is in the world physically. (John 17:11)
2. A Christian is not of the world spiritually. John 17:14
3. We have been sent into the world to bear witness. John 17:18
4. The world gets into a Christian through the heart.
5. A Christian must decide – Will I live for the present only or will I live for the will of God and abide forever? (Consider Jesus’ words Matthew 7:24-27. Also see Paul’s words on two kinds of building – temporary or permanent in I Corinthians 3:11-15.)

1. Proper type of love: 2 Greatest Commandments
2. How can you show love toward others? This week?
3. What ways can you stay loosely attached to this world?
4. Tell others about Jesus.

Love for the world is the love God hates.  It is the love a Christian must shun at all costs.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

How Big Is God? by Rick Sons

Voyager 1 is a space probe launched by NASA on September 5, 1977. Part of the Voyager program was to study the outer Solar System, Voyager 1 launched 16 days after its twin, Voyager 2. Having operated for 39 years, 11 months and 1 day (as of August 6, 2017), the spacecraft still communicates with the Deep Space Network to receive routine commands and return data.

Voyager 1

Voyager 1 is the first spacecraft to reach interstellar space. The spacecraft officially entered interstellar space in August 2012, almost 35 years after its voyage began. The discovery wasn’t made official until 2013. The spacecraft’s next big encounter will take place in 40,000 years, when Voyager 1 comes within 1.7 light-years of the star AC +79 3888. (The star itself is roughly 17.5 light-years from Earth.) However, Voyager 1’s falling power supply means it will stop transmitting data by about 2025, meaning no data will flow back from that distant location. 

As big as the universe is it is not bigger than God.
As vast as the universe is, it was still created by God. 

Genesis Chapter 1 begins “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. And God said, ‘Let there be light,’ and there was light. God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness. God called the light ‘day,’ and the darkness he called ‘night.’ And there was evening, and there was morning—the first day.”

Now if this is too big a scale to grasp. Consider that 70 percent of the earth is ocean. The ocean is the lifeblood of Earth, covering more than 70 percent of the planet’s surface, driving weather, regulating temperature, and ultimately supporting all living organisms. Throughout history, the ocean has been a vital source of sustenance, transport, commerce, growth, and inspiration. Yet for all of our reliance on the ocean, 95 percent of this realm remains unexplored, unseen by human eyes. The Challenger Deep in the Mariana Trench is the deepest known point in Earth’s oceans. In 2010 the United States Center for Coastal & Ocean Mapping measured the depth of the Challenger Deep at 10,994 meters (36,070 feet) below sea level. If Mount Everest, the highest mountain on Earth, were placed at this location it would be covered by over one mile of water. As big as the ocean is it is not bigger than God.

Again, from Genesis we read (1:9). “God said, ‘Let the water under the sky be gathered to one place, and let dry ground appear.’ And it was so. God called the dry ground ‘land,’ and the gathered waters he called ‘seas.’ And God saw that it was good.:”

How Big Is God?

I want to talk to you today on this subject, HOW BIG IS GOD? Now when I ask the question, how big is God, don’t think that I’m going to try to answer that question because I can’t answer that question. The question is unanswerable, because God is immeasurable. God is infinite. God is limitless. For instance, when we speak of God’s peace we speak of the peace of God, that passes understanding. So, I want to tell you from the beginning you will never fathom God but you can find God. You can never fathom God because of his greatness but you can find God because of his grace.

Song titles try to tell us how big God is. Kids learn songs such as “God is Big”:
God is big God is big, God is very, very, very, very big God is big God is big God is very, very, very, very Very, very big! God is bigger than a lion stretched out from head to tail.

Or from Veggie Tales, Bob and Larry taught kids that “God is Bigger than the Boogie Man”:
God is bigger than the boogie man.
He’s bigger than Godzilla,
or the monsters on TV.
Oh, God is bigger than the boogie man.
And He’s watching out for you and me.

And many children have learned the song “He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands” which has many verses as they are listed here.
He’s got the whole world in His hands,
He’s got the whole world in His hands.
He’s got the sun and the rain in His hands,
He’s got the moon and the stars in His hands,
He’s got the wind and the clouds in His hands,
He’s got the whole world in His hands.

“How Big is God?” Another song writer, Doris Akers, asked and then attempted to answer that question in a song. Akers compared God’s bigness to the mightiest ocean, the tallest of trees, the broadest of rivers, the deepest of seas, and the highest of mountains. But it falls far short of telling how big God is.

How big was Israel’s God?

Israel thought they knew something about the bigness of God. They tried to make His bigness known by the names they used to speak of Him.

a. Yahweh (Jehovah) is the name they used for Him and like all Old Testament names, it has a meaning. It means: “He who is at one with the limitless, unbounded universe because He has created it.” This is the name that God gave to Moses when he said “I am who I am.”

b. One of the most beautiful names Israel used for God is ELSHADDAH; the literal meaning of which is simply “ALMIGHTY GOD.” Made from the two words EL, meaning the strong and mighty one and SHADDAH, or the breasted one. Clearly, to the mind of every Israelite God was a big God.

It is my belief that every person who came in contact with God in the Old Testament. Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, Isaiah and so on must have felt that they were in the presence of a very big God. To these men God was very big.

But what I really want to ask you is, “How big is your God?”

How big is your God?

1. The real answer to that may lie in how big a role God plays in your life minute by minute, hour by hour, and day by day.

a. No matter whom you are, relationships are critical to your existence as human beings. Humans are social creatures. In our correctional system the death penalty is not the cruelest form of punishment, solitary confinement is – to be absent of all human contact. (Remember Tom Hanks in Cast Away” and Wilson.) God created you to have relationships with others, and him. He wants to be connected to you through his Son Jesus. A relationship with your creator is to be known by God himself.

b. God wants us to know him.
The Bible says God is at work in everyone’s life. “So that they should seek the Lord, in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us.” (Acts 17:27)

2. If you can see God as big enough to make a universe, Surely He is also big enough to be worth offering Him your body as a living sacrifice.

a. Romans 12:1, Paul says, “I beseech you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God to present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, pleasing to God, which is your reasonable service.” Paul’s words to the believers in Rome were to sacrifice themselves to God, not as a sacrifice on the altar, as the Mosaic Law required the sacrifice of animals, but as a living sacrifice. The dictionary defines sacrifice as “anything consecrated and offered to God.” As believers, how do we consecrate and offer ourselves to God as a living sacrifice?

b. What does a living sacrifice look like in the practical sense? The following verse (Romans 12:2) helps us to understand. We are a living sacrifice for God by not being conformed to this world. The world is defined for us in 1 John 2:15-16 as the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life.

3. If you can see God as big enough to put the stars in place, is he not also big enough to save your lost loved ones?

a. There isn’t a person reading this post that doesn’t have someone who they love that is lost. It may be a spouse, a child, a parent, a sibling, or it may be a friend or some other relative, but there is someone you care deeply about that would be in Hell if they were to die today.

b. The Bible was given to man for the express purpose of revealing God to man. That is why I say that the Bible is proof positive that God has made efforts in the past to save those you love. Do you not owe it to God, to help see that others are saved?

4. If you can see God as big enough to lead Israel out of Egypt’s bondage, is He not also big enough to set you free from whatever it is that binds you and saps your victory?

a. We are Victors not Victims!  All too often we walk around with the poor me attitude. God way did he or she get that I am a better person than they are. (Who has not said this at least once in our life) 

b. Romans 12:2 says, “Let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think.” In Romans 4:17 we read “the God who gives life to the dead calls things into being which do not yet exist” Finally, in Romans 4:20- 21 we see the example of Abraham; “Yet with respect to the promises of God he did not waver in unbelief, but grew strong in faith giving God the Glory, being fully assured that what God had promised He was able also to perform.” Be encouraged!

5. If you can see God as big enough to fill you with the Holy Spirit then can you not also see Him as big enough to work His spiritual gifts through you?

a. The Bible says, “As the Spirit of the Lord works within us, we become more and more like him and reflect his glory even more.” (2 Corinthians 3:18)

b. Only the Holy Spirit has the power to make the changes God wants to make in our lives. The Bible says, “God is working in you, giving you the desire to obey him and the power to do what pleases him.” (Philippians 2:13) We see many people claiming to be Christians, walking around with religion but without the spirit.

6. If God is big enough to hear and accept the vows you made when he saved you and you joined His church; is he not also big enough to expect you to keep your vow?

a. There are about 30 biblical references to vows, most of which are from the Old Testament. The books of Leviticus and Numbers have several references to vows in relation to offerings and sacrifices. There were consequences for the Israelites who made and broke vows, especially vows to God.

b. The story of Jephthah illustrates the foolishness of making vows without understanding the consequences. Before leading the Israelites into battle against the Ammonites, Jephthah—described as a mighty man of valor—made a rash vow that he would give to the Lord whoever first came out of doors to meet him if he returned home as the victor. When the Lord granted him victory, the one who came out to meet him was his daughter. (Judges 11:29-40)

c. Perhaps this is why Jesus gave a new commandment concerning vows. “Again, you have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not break your oath, but keep the oaths you have made to the Lord.’ But I tell you, do not swear at all: either by heaven, for it is God’s throne; or by the earth, for it is his footstool; or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the Great King. And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make even one hair white or black. Simply let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No ,’ ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one” (Matthew 5:33-37).

So How Big is God?

The book of Isaiah chapter 40 says:

1.    The Greatness of God’s Hands (v. 12). Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand and marked off the heavens with a span, enclosed the dust of the earth in a measure and weighed the mountains in scales and the hills in a balance?”

He can hold the entire oceans in His hand. (Recent estimates put the volume of the Earth’s oceans at 1.332 cubic kilometers. This is equivalent to around, or 352 quintillion, gallons of water.) (A Quintillion is a 1 followed by eighteen zeros)  God can measure the universe with the “span” (the distance between your thumb and the end of your middle finger) of His mighty hand.

As if that was not enough, he can measure all the dust of the earth and weigh all of earth’s mountains and hills on His scale of balance.

2.    The Greatness of God’s Spirit (v. 13-14). “Who has measured the Spirit of the LORD, or what man shows him his counsel? Whom did he consult, and who made him understand? Who taught him the path of justice, and taught him knowledge, and showed him the way of understanding?”

The Holy Spirit has never needed advice, counsel, or teaching. He was the one who moved all the forces of nature forward to commence creation.

His intelligence is complete. There is no book to read or course He needs to take. He wrote the book on everything, period. That includes the Bible.

3.    The Greatness of God’s Perspective (v. 15-17). “Behold, the nations are like a drop from a bucket, and are accounted as the dust on the scales; behold, he takes up the coastlands like fine dust. Lebanon would not suffice for fuel, nor are its beasts enough for a burnt offering. All the nations are as nothing before him, they are accounted by him as less than nothing and emptiness.”

The nations are like a “drop in the bucket” and like a few grains of dust on a scale. The nations are not just “nothing” but “less than nothing” before Him. Over history we have seen many nations claim to be the greatest. According to a recent study the top ten nations of the world were Italy, United Kingdom, United States, China, Greece, Egypt, Iraq, India, Iran, and Chad. Some of us may have a different order but to God the greatness of each is still not important.

The inhabitants of earth are like grasshoppers to Him. The universe is merely His “tent.” Now that may refer to the universe and earth being round, or “circular” in shape. However it is important to understand that this is not the main meaning or purpose of these kinds of verses, but rather to again show the incredible greatness and glory of God.

4.    The Greatness of God’s Care (v. 26). “Lift up your eyes on high and see: who created these? He who brings out their host by number, calling them all by name; by the greatness of his might and because he is strong in power, not one is missing.”

He numbers and calls every star by name. Research says, there are a “septillion” number of stars in the universe. This is a 1 with 24 zeroes behind it!  No computer needed, just His infinite care.

He checks on every one to be sure they are not missing. If He cares about a single star billions of light years from here, why would He not notice you or your needs?

5.    The Greatness of God’s Strength (v. 29-31). “He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength. Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.”

He never grows tired, weary, or faint. He will give that power to anyone who “waits” on Him. This word “wait” in Hebrew is not like waiting for a bus. It is actively seeking Him like a “waiter” in a restaurant. Yes you have to do some of the work. We have all gone out to eat someplace what do you look for in a great waiter.

Faith insures a participation in His incredible strength. He will “renew” our strength. This words means to “change clothes.”  We have a new outfit of God’s power for every challenge we face! Each time we see circumstance or adversity he will give us new and fresh armor to face it. Gods Armor as we read in Ephesians chapter 6. As a history major, I have had the opportunity to study warriors and armies of the world. One thing I have seen is that how an army appears to the enemy is often part of the battle. This is why you see the clean sharp well-kept uniforms. God will see that you go into battle with a clean new uniform not an old a tattered one.

Larry Stockstill, teacher, speaker, and pastor of Bethany Church in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, asked: How big is your God? Are you looking at God through your circumstances or looking at your circumstances through God?

When we write, we use big G God for the Almighty God Jehovah the true living God, and little g god for all the other gods. When we are faced with circumstances and trial how often do we make our big G God into a little g god?

How big is your God? Big enough to intervene, Big enough to be trusted, Big enough to be held in awe and ultimate respect, Big enough to erase your worries and replace them with peace?

The more you know God, the bigger He becomes.