Sunday, April 17, 2016

How Great Is Our God!

Job 12:13 “To God belong wisdom and power; counsel and understanding are His."

When we talk about the greatness of God we are talking about an area that is beyond our ability to comprehend. 

The scriptures tell us this:

Psalm 145:3 Great is the LORD and most worthy of praise; His greatness no one can fathom. 

Psalm 150:2 Praise Him for His acts of power; praise Him for His surpassing greatness. 

Psalm 95:3-5 For the LORD is the great God, the great King above all gods. In His hand are the depths of the earth, and the mountain peaks belong to Him. The sea is His, for he made it, and His hands formed the dry land. 

Proverbs 8:14 Counsel and sound judgment are Mine; I have insight, I have power. 

When we speak of the greatness of God we are speaking of His greatness in every attribute of His Being. He is all knowing, ever present and all powerful. Job had experienced His greatness and had been blessed by the LORD. He has this testimony.  Greatness in Wisdom- He is the all wise God. Greatness in Authority- all power and authority is His...

It is worth noting and remembering that when suffering comes, when we are wiped out, when we are in pain or sorrow we can look back and see God's Hand upon us. We can recall days of blessing and victory. That is what Job was doing here.

Even though he did not realize it at the time what Spurgeon said was true about Job:  “They who dive in the sea of affliction bring up rare pearls.” 

I think of the young people of the church in Bellevue, Haiti who watched the destruction of the church building and many of their homes. An 8 year old when it occurred is now 14. In their formidable years they are seeing God's Hand in ways many do not get to see. They are watching prayers answered. They are seeing miracles. They will see a well dug for the village soon. They understand perseverance. What was meant for evil God is now turning around to the saving of many lives.
They have helped me understand on a deeper level the words of Jesus, "I will build My Church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it."

So in his pain, mental, physical and emotional Job is thinking about the Greatness of God. He expresses that praise in a number of ways.

1.  His Wisdom

skill (in war), wisdom (in administration), shrewdness, prudence (in religious affairs)

*We see His wisdom in His Word. One chapter of Proverbs a day.

*We see His wisdom in is Sovereignty. God's Hand in all things, working all things together for the good of those who love Him.
Romans 8.28
Romans 8:28 And we know with great confidence that God who is deeply concerned about us causes all things to work together as a plan for good for those who love God, to those who are called according to His plan and purpose. 
Romans 8:28 Moreover we know that to those who love God, who are called according to his plan, everything that happens fits into a pattern for good. Philipps
Romans 8:28 And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. 
*We see His Wisdom in His Creation 
Proverbs 8:22-23 “The LORD brought me forth as the first of His works, before His deeds of old; I was formed long ages ago, at the very beginning, when the world came to be.  onto vs.31

The way He has made the earth self sustaining!

*We see His wisdom in His work in our lives.
What wisdom! He causes all things to work together for good for us!

We may ask, "How can good come out of this?" Only God!

Joseph came to understand the pearl of God's Sovereignty in his life when he was older: 
Genesis 50:20 But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive. 

2. All Power Is His

strength, might, valour, bravery,  mighty deeds (of God)

We haven't begun to experience what He is able to do. We limit Him so often by unbelief.

When we limit God we do not see the things He does.

I love the prayer of Elisha for his servant:
2 Kings 6:14-17 Therefore he sent horses and chariots and a great army there, and they came by night and surrounded the city. And when the servant of the man of God arose early and went out, there was an army, surrounding the city with horses and chariots. And his servant said to him, “Alas, my master! What shall we do?” So he answered, “Do not fear, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” And Elisha prayed, and said, “LORD, I pray, open his eyes that he may see.” Then the LORD opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw. And behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha. 

Psalm 68:17 The chariots of God are tens of thousands and thousands of thousands; the LORD has come from Sinai into His sanctuary. 

Do you believe that?!

He has power, all power.
He can do anything.
Nothing is too difficult for Him1

A.W. Tozer "Anything God has ever done, He can do now. Anything God has ever done anywhere, He can do here. Anything God has ever done for anyone, He can do for you.”

Psalm 147:5 Great is our LORD and mighty in power; His understanding has no limit. 

Psalm 33:6-7 By the Word of the LORD the heavens were made,their starry host by the breath of His mouth. He gathers the waters of the sea into jars; He puts the deep into storehouses. 

3. The Counsel of God 
counsel, advice, purpose, consult, give counsel, devise, plan, deliberate, counsel, to conspire

He is the Wonderful Counselor/ The Counselor of Wonder

Wonderful= marvel, extraordinary, hard to understand
Counselor= advisor, consultant, conspire*

Proverbs 8:10-11 Choose my instruction instead of silver, knowledge rather than choice gold, for wisdom is more precious than rubies, and nothing you desire can compare with her. 

4. His Understanding 
intelligence, insight, knowledge, to discern, consider, to perceive, know (with the mind), to observe, mark, give heed to, distinguish, consider, prudent, regard, attentive

Proverbs 8:33 Listen to My instruction and be wise; do not disregard it. 

No one can fathom

Our narrow views of God's government lead to false opinions about His action. We are tempted to fancy that all He does is solely with a view to its effect on ourselves. Thus we colour the universe with our egotism. But the LORD of all must have vast interests to consider of which we know nothing. What looks foolish to us because we cannot see the end in view - an end often quite outside ourselves, would appear in a very different light if we knew all God's far-reaching designs. 

Take the silk worm...

The LORD is all knowing. The wisest thing you ca do today is to trust Him. Even if you do not understand, He does fully. Commit your way to Him...

Psalm 37:5-7 Commit your way to the LORD; trust in Him and He will do this: He will make your righteous reward shine like the dawn, your vindication like the noonday sun. Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for Him; do not fret when people succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes. 

Psalm 70:4 But may all who seek You rejoice and be glad in You; may those who long for Your saving help always say,“The LORD is great!” 

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

The Care of God For Our Souls

Job 10:12 You gave me life and showed me kindness, and in Your providence watched over my spirit. 

Here is another verse from the Word of God which is a personal testimony of the care of the LORD for a soul. Job was attesting to that. Looking back we all can say the same thing

 God's providence
oversight, care, custody, mustering, visitation, store, punishment, charge, office, overseer, class of officers

God's Protection watched over
to keep, have charge of, guard, keep watch and ward, protect, save life
watch, watchman (participle), wait for, observe, retain, treasure up (in memory)
to keep (within bounds), restrain, celebrate, keep (sabbath or covenant or commands), perform (vow), preserve

Exodus 13:17 When Pharaoh let the people go, God did not lead them on the road through the Philistine country, though that was shorter. For God said, “If they face war, they might change their minds and return to Egypt.” 
God does not always take the quickest route to get us where He wants us to be.

Proverbs 4:6 Do not forsake wisdom, and she will protect you; love her, and she will watch over you. 

My ways are not your ways. My ways are beyond your finding out" (Isaiah 55:8). So who can understand God perfectly?

 The idea is, that God had watched over him and preserved him, and that to his constant vigilance he owed the preservation of his life.

Three Things That the LORD does for us are recorded here, all of which has to do with His care for us:

1. He Gives Us Life.

Psalm 139:13 For You created my inmost being; You knit me together in my mother’s womb. 

Acts 17:28 ‘For in Him we live and move and have our being.’ 

He is Life. 

John 1:1-4 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through Him all things were made; without Him nothing was made that has been made. In Him was life, and that life was the light of men.

God gave us life. He made us active mentally and physically and spiritually. 
Genesis 2:7 Then the Lord God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being. 
Ecclesiates 3.11 He has placed eternity in the hearts of men.

John 10.10 I have come that the may have life and that they might have it more abundantly.

Abundantly over and above, more than is necessary, superadded
exceeding abundantly, supremely
something further, more, much more than all, more plainly

People without Christ exist. They have mental and physical activity.

People with Christ have this vitality that is over and above just an existence. 
They have purpose in their life.
They have communion with Almighty God through prayer.
They see things people without Him do not see.
Example- flower. Botanist without the LORD can see its beauty but he has no where except to others to express that beauty- When you know the Creator...
gardening, children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews... In time of pain, sorrow, questions.

Living for Christ is experiencing life to the full... even when death comes we have hope. We do not grieve like the rest of men who have no hope. We do grieve, but we do not despair.

2. He Has Shown us Kindness.

In Christ Jesus.
Ephesians 2:4-7 But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. 

Genesis 32:9-10 Then Jacob prayed, “O God of my father Abraham, God of my father Isaac, Lord, you who said to me, ‘Go back to your country and your relatives, and I will make you prosper,’ I am unworthy of all the kindness and faithfulness you have shown your servant. I had only my staff when I crossed this Jordan, but now I have become two camps. 

Acts 14:17 Yet He has not left himself without testimony: He has shown kindness by giving you rain from heaven and crops in their seasons; He provides you with plenty of food and fills your hearts with joy.” 

In the food we eat is the kindness of the LORD. He makes it rain. We complain about rain! How foolish!  Can you imagine if we never got rain?

God sustains the earth. He keeps it going and the life He has put on it.

In the very breathe we just took is His kindness!

3. He Has Watched Over Our Souls.

He is the Great Shepherd of the Sheep

Psalm 1:6 For the LORD watches over the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked leads to destruction. 

Psalm 145:20 The LORD watches over all who love Him, but all the wicked He will destroy. 

Psalm 142:3 When my spirit grows faint within me, it is You who watch over my way. 

Psalm 121:7-8 The LORD will keep you from all harm—He will watch over your life; the LORD will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore. 

He is our Defender.

He is our guide.

Psalm 48:14 For this God is our God for ever and ever; He will be our guide even to the end. 

He has given us life.
He has shown us kindness.
He has watched over our lives.
He cares for us!

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Refining our Concept of God In Our Prayers

Job 7:6-7 “My days are swifter than a weaver’s shuttle, and they come to an end without hope. Remember, O God, that my life is but a breath; my eyes will never see happiness again. "

The Book of Job we are finding out, is among other things,  a handbook for insight into human suffering. It does not have all the answers, on the contrary the Book itself raises questions and some of them if taken out of context can be very troubling.

It helps us see suffering from the victim's point of view. It gives us insight into what not to say when someone we know is suffering. And as we will discover this morning it shows us how to pray more effectively.

Job had experienced massive loss: children, wealth, wife, health and friends. He lost everything.

At this point in his suffering Job has lost all hope of things ever improving here on earth for him.

People who experience a wide range of health problems and emotional losses can get to the point where hope is lost.  The loss of his children, his wife, his friends, his weatlh and his health put him in a place emotionally and mentally where he thought it was all over.

Job expressed this condition well in these words in these two verses we just read. Basically he was saying, "My life is over. I have no hope nor any future here on earth. I will never experience happiness again."

Job was expressing his feelings. These were not the facts. I have people say to me, "You can't tell someone how to feel." No, but I can tell them the facts. We have become an overly sensitive society where feelings are more important than facts- all important. Decisions  are made often solely on the way a person feels. I can tell you if I had lived like that my life would have been a disaster. If you face suffering based on your feelings you will come to this same dead end Job did.  

I am not blaming Job for the struggle he was having. God knows that this could happen to any of us. Even Paul, the apostle, wrote to the Corinthians: 2 Corinthians 1:8-9 We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, about the troubles we experienced in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt we had received the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. 

Jesus, the Man of Sorrows expressed the extent of His suffering in the Garden Of Gethsemene in these words: Mark 14:34 “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death,” He said to them. “Stay here and keep watch.” 

Both Jesus and Paul knew of the Resurrection power. That is why they could pray at this point.

They had hope. Job lost his hope. Not his faith, love or integrity, just his hope in things improving for him on this earth. God had different plans. When we get to those places He always does. We may look at things or a situation and say, "There is no hope. This is it. Its all over." God comes with His plan ad in love reveals it to us in His perfect time.

Job had said basically that the end was near and that he would never see happiness again on earth. He did have hope in the Resurrection:  Job 19:25-27 I know that my redeemer lives,and that in the end he will stand on the earth. And after my skin has been destroyed,yet in my flesh I will see God; I myself will see himwith my own eyes—I, and not another.How my heart yearns within me!" Hope in the Resurrection not in things ever improving here on earth.

When God spoke the Word to Habakkuk ( 1.5)He made it plain that the work He was going to was going to be "in your days." Habakkuk had been praying and it seemed like God was not answering. He told the LORD that He tolertated evil. God told the tired prophet that He was at work and that He was going to do something in his days that even if he were told he would not believe.

So our prayers can be determined by the way we are feeling and they should contain our feelings but they should not be ruled by our feelings because in doing so we can ignore facts and not pray as we should. Sometimes our feelings run opposite to God's will. Jesus' prayer in the Garden of Gethsemene is an example. "Father if it is possible, let this cup pass from me, nevertheless not what I will but what You will." We take our feelings to the LORD but pray according to His will.

Here are some facts we need to remember when we pray, to help us to pray better:

1. We Do Not Know The Future.
"my eyes will never see happiness again"
God knows the future.
Job was feeling this but it was not reality.

The truth was Job 42:12-15 The Lord blessed the latter part of Job’s life more than the former part. He had fourteen thousand sheep, six thousand camels, a thousand yoke of oxen and a thousand donkeys. And he also had seven sons and three daughters. The first daughter he named Jemimah ( Day By Day) the second Keziah ( a spice; a powdered bark like cinnamon) and the third Keren-Happuch ( strength of fair colors). Nowhere in all the land were there found women as beautiful as Job’s daughters, and their father granted them an inheritance along with their brothers. 

Guard against making statements about the future- especially your own  future.
James 4:13-15 Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” 

Job's statement was not really boasting. It was more made out of depression.

We can plan for certain things ahead but we really do not know what is up ahead.
Proverbs 27:1 Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring forth.

In our praying we must remember God has a plan for our life. 
Psalm 139:16 Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. Suffering can be ordained by God and often it is. It is part of His plan to discipline us so we may share in His righteousness, 

Matthew 6:25, 34 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. 

J.B. Phillips Your God Is Too Small
It is the purpose of this book to attempt two things: first to expose the inadequate conceptions of God which still linger unconsciously in many minds, and which prevent our catching a glimpse of the true God; and secondly to suggest ways in which we can find the real God for ourselves. If it is true that there is Someone in charge of the whole mystery of life and death, we can hardly expect to escape a sense of futility and frustration until we begin to see what He is like and what His purposes are.

A great deal of the refinement we need in our prayers is our own concept of God. Inadequate concepts of God produce inadequate prayers. We want to pray effectively.
James 5.16 The prayers of a righteous man are powerful and effective.

2. We Do Not Understand the Mysterious Ways of God
We know the Truth, Jesus said He is the Truth.

We know He will keep us.

“We are not necessarily doubting that God will do the best for us; we are wondering how painful the best will turn out to be."― C.S. Lewis

2 Timothy 1:12 That is why I am suffering as I am. Yet this is no cause for shame, because I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him until that day. 

Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 

In elephantiasis maggots are bred in the sores. Bible scholars believe Job had a form of this. Yet he did pray. Although his prayers were not according to God's will and plan at least he prayed! We can learn. Whe the worst hits us, whe the bottom falls out, God is there and is not only present but He has a plan.

Again I think it is wise for us to listen to a person in deep suffering, not to speak, just to listen, hold their hand and cry wit them. So often what is said by would be comforters does not come from the mouth of God but from inexperience and pride.

3.We Do Not Need To Educate God or Others as We Pray.
They need to be directed to God.
We need to forget people are listening.
It is not a time of announcements.
It is a time of communion with Him.

It needs to be a time of total dependence upon Him.

He knows what we have need of before we ask.

4. We had hoped

The Road To Emmaus
Luke 24:21 but we had hoped that He was the one who was going to redeem Israel. And what is more, it is the third day since all this took place. 

The loss of Hope

For the believer hope is always thing of the future.

Learning to walk by faith means not always understanding what is going on.
But when we do encounter those moments we look to Jesus for strength.

most God-ordained dreams die because we aren’t willing to do something that seems illogical. Mark Batterson. God give me your dreams and not my little wishful thinking

5. We need to remember.
Jesus walks among His church.
The Holy Spirit illuminate His Word.
He will come again.
When He comes will He find faith on the earth.

Let's pray again the request of His disciples, "LORD, teach us to pray." Allow His Spirit to enlarge your own concept of God today. Let Him refine it and make you more like Jesus.