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.

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