Source: written by Edward E.Thomason Ė Preachtoday.com
Date preached: _______
place: Church of Christ
Sermon Plan Theme:
God is able to CHALLENGE us
text: Psalm 19, 127
1. What a grand topic (so full of possibilities for us to think about) "OUR GOD IS ABLE" In the year 2000, in this century God is able to do far more that we can even begin to imagine. Let us not think, even for a moment, that OUR GOD is asleep in hibernation or that he has become dormant and powerless.... He is not allusive or absent when it comes to our lives... God is awake, active and available! As Godís children we can go before his throne of grace in prayer and obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
(Heb. 4:16)- As the Psalmist said in Psm 46:1 "God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble." (present - right now) The scriptures give us many assurances that Our God is near and that he cares for his children.
2. But as we think about the awesome ability of our God we must also remind ourselves that there is a difference between the "behind the scenes" provisional
work of God in our lives and the "openly manifest" and miraculous provisional work of God. God once openly manifested his power by miraculously providing bread from heaven for his hungry children in the wilderness... But today he works behind the scenes still providing bread for his children but thru the natural process that comes from tilling of the soil and the seasonal
rains and sunshine along with the hard work and wonderful ingenuity of man to plant and harvest. (Man sows the seed, but it is still God that gives the increase.) God is at work in our lives today... but his work is not as openly manifest as it once was. But just because bread no longer miraculously falls from heaven does not mean that God is not the source of the bread on our table. All the good things in life are from God (James 1:17) and even though his work is now more -- behind the scenes - provisional or providential rather than
miraculous, we can be sure that he is still at work in our lives.
3. The same is true regarding miraculous healing. There was a time when an Israelite bitten by a poisonous snake could look upon a pole in the center of
the camp and miraculously and instantaneously be healed. (Numbers 21) It is obvious that today that just does not happen. The instantaneous healing by Christ and by his apostles were for the specific purpose of confirming that they were men of God and that their words were
from God. Mark 16:20, "And they went forth, and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following." That purpose was fulfilled by the close of the first century and miracles, as described and reflected in the scriptures, then ceased. Every now and then we encounter someone of our own generation who claims that God is not only able to do miracles (something that no believer would
deny) but that he is presently "willing" to miraculously heal people (something contradictory to a proper understanding of the scriptures.)
4. RECENTLY, I was visiting with a friend of mine who suffers with the crippling disease of MS was in the hospital for treatment when a man came
in and told us that God had sent him to my friend and to pray for him and heal him. He began to cite various examples of his past tract record and what he considered to be success stories. When my friend began to carefully explain that what he was saying was not compatible with his understanding of the Bible the man kept telling us that
"He did not believe in putting God in a box." (The implication being that my friend was suggesting that God is not able to heal.) My friend explained that God is truly Almighty and able to do far more than we can imagine but that he, according to the scriptures, chose to heal only thru
the apostles and thru those who the apostles had laid hands upon and conferred the gift of healing. (Acts 8:18) But there is no indication that the gift of healing could be passed to others by those who had received the gift from an
apostle. And that by the end of the first century when the scriptures were almost complete and the purpose of miracles had also neared completion. And at that
time we notice that there were some who were not being miraculously healed. For example: Near the end of the apostle Paulís life, one of his traveling companions named TROPHIMUS was left at Miletum SICK.
(2 Tim 4:20) Why wasnít he miraculously healed? Was it because the purpose for miracles had reach its fulfillment? Was the written revelation of Godís word
almost complete? Paul himself prayed earnestly and persistently in faith (3 times) for healing of what he called his "thorn in the flesh"
(2 Cor 12:8) but miraculous healing was denied and he learned that the Lordís grace was sufficient. Obviously, the age of miraculous healing was coming to a close as the
N.T. was nearing
completion. That which was once only in part - was being put together and completed.) I Cor 13:8-10 says, "Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease;
whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away. For we know in part, and we prophesy in part.: But when that which is *perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away. *Perfect law of liberty" James 1:25. Like scaffolding around a building.... once construction is complete - the scaffolding is removed. "But we should not put God in a box" - the man continued to say again suggesting that to deny that instantaneous miraculous healing does not occur
today as it did in the 1st century - is paramount to saying that God is weak or unable to do these things. Finally the man said that he could not heal my friend unless he was willing to believe that he could be miraculously healed and he left. Oddly, he had entered the room saying that God told him to pray for my friend and heal him. But he left without even offering to pray (something he said God
had told him to do.) He said there could not be any healing unless my friend believed. Upon reflection of this my thoughts are: 1) It seems to me... that HE DID PUT GOD IN A BOX. He claimed that God is able to do all things today but then said that God is limited if you donít
believe in modern faith healing. 2) Second, No man can limit God. For example, when God chooses to usher in the day of judgment and roll up the heavens and melt this earth with fervent
heat, no man will be able to stop God from doing what God intends to do. 3) If God had truly intended that my friend be healed miraculously, no amount of doubt would have stopped God.
4) The other side.... man cannot make God do what God is not willing to do. Obviously, THERE IS A GREAT INCONSTANCY AND MUCH CONFUSION in the religious world when it comes to what our God is willing
and not willing to do.
5. It is good perhaps to have a study like this to help remind us that while God is "able" to do all things... he does limit himself in some of the things that he is
"willing" to do... And yet, let us not think that God has become incapacitated... he is still able and willing to do far more than we can ever imagine. Eph:
3:20-21, "Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in
us, Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen."
6. We are attempting to glorify God in the church this week because we know that our God is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think...
7. We know that God is able: To Draw all men to him who are willing to come. (He calls us thru the gospel - Rom 1:16
the power of God unto salvation.) To save to the uttermost (there is no limit/ no stopping the power of Godís word... it is still sharper than any two edge sword... it cuts deep into our lives
and convicts us and chastens us. Heb 4:12) To dry eyes and mend hearts of those who are hurting. To fulfill the promises found in his word. Able to enrich our lives spiritually with peace and joy regardless of our circumstances.
8. We serve a powerful and mighty God! But let us not confuse his ability with his will!
9. Our Almighty Godís unchanging nature and sacred and enduring scriptures reflect his will, instructing us, bringing welcome hope and stability as we stand
face to face with the realities and new problems of the 21st century.
10. And it is thru his word that he is able to challenge us, comfort us and even to change us - if we will let him! YES, EPH 3 is true... God is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think.
11. As advertised, our studies this week will come primarily from the psalms but not exclusively.
12. Tonight we will focus on the wonderful fact that God is able to challenge us to trust in him more and serve him more diligently!
13. But let us begin our study of the psalms by looking at a psalm that gives us a glimpse of just how mighty and powerful our God truly is.
I. Psalm 19 begins... "The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handiwork."
A. The heavens and all of creation shows us how awesome and powerful our God is. What do you think about when you look at a sunset or sunrise? Creator?
Who do you think about when you look at the stars at night? Do we see the handiwork and finger prints of the Creator everywhere? God spoke in the long ago and gave this advice in....-- Psm 46:10 "Be still and know that I am God.". God was saying, STOP and smell the roses.... stop and look at the sunset... look around and see how good God is! He didnít have to create flowers and colors and rainbows but he created these things for manís pleasure - because God is good. When we stop and consider these things we may realize that God is not only Almighty or all powerful, he is also awesome! That word "awesome" has become trivialized by our society. A young person might say: The pizza was "awesome."-- No a pizza is not "awesome"... but the God who created the Universe... is awesome and we should be in awe of him!
-- Psm 33:8 "Let all the earth fear the Lord: let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him." Many of our generation donít appreciate the beauty of worship.
(Some are not in awe of God) Our worship may not seem inspiring to some... perhaps because they put more emphasis upon the worshiper than on the one being
worshipped. But perhaps such emphasis has occurred because we have failed to teach and instruct thru pulpit and in our songs and prayers that it is God who is the central focus of our worship. (Not the music, not the speaker, not the facilities, but it is GOD ALMIGHTY THAT
WE COME TO WORSHIP, ADORE, AND PRAISE! And what an all powerful - Almighty God we serve! -- He simply spoke... and the world was formed by the power of his word!
-- Psm 33:6 "By the word of the Lord were the heavens made; and all the host of them by the breath of his mouth..." -- vs 9 For he spake, and it was done; he commanded, and it stood fast."
He breathed into the nostrils of the first man... and he came to life by the power of Godís breath! Jesus once said that God was able to raise up children unto Abraham from stones if he so chose. We should never doubt:-- that our God is able to raise the dead at judgment,-- that our God is able to judge righteously taking all things into account....-- that our God is able to save to the uttermost - even the vilest of criminals can have discover hope in Christ....
B. But it is not the grand and great things that we know and expect that our Almighty God is able to do that challenges us... it is the humble and small
things of life that he expects us to do that is our challenge. Sure he spoke the world into existence but does his word have any power in our lives today? -- Ps 19:7 "The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple. The statutes of the
LORD are right, rejoicing the heart: the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes." Godís word is able to convert the souls of men and women... His word can still prick the hearts of honest men and women with conviction and bring enlightenment or understanding which leads to joy. Godís holy word is sharper than a two edge sword... and it has tremendous relevance to the life of the 21st century man and woman. And God challenges us today... thru his word to save ourselves from this wicked and perverse generation. (Acts 2:40) But as the Psalmist said in the very first Psalm - verses 1-3,
"Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. But his
delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night. And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he
doeth shall prosper."-- OUR GREAT CHALLENGE TODAY IS TO TRUST THAT WE WILL REAP IN DUE SEASON. If we delight in Godís law, meditate in his word day and night....patiently grow and mature - we eventually will be like a tree planted by rivers of water... in due time we will be fruitful. One of the greatest needs in the church today is more seasoned Christians. (Men and women who are patient, persistent and refuse to grow
weary in well doing.... these are the ones who will be fruitful in seasons yet to come.)
II. But as we think of the many challenges before us that are presented in Godís word, let me ask you to turn to another great Psalm
A. In this Psalm God challenges us to work with him in the great and noble pursuits of our everyday lives. (And that is where most of us find the
greatest challenges.) This Psalm is thought to be written by Solomon (the wisest of all men). It examines three of the most popular preoccupationís of mankind: We each spend a good deal of our lives "building things" (the various enterprises of life); We spend time accumulating and strengthening our assets (our security blankets in life); And We spend time raising our families.
(In other words....) We try to juggle the three Cís of life: Career, Capital, and Children. These things pre-occupy our time and lives. Such effort can create anxiety when we assume that the burden must rest on our shoulders alone. The writer recognized a better way. Which we should also learn. We must learn to value and trust the providence and divine hand of God working behind the scenes in our lives.
-- Romans 8:28 "And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are called
according to his purpose." (His purpose may be different from ours... but we are challenged to trust that things will work together for good to those who love God.) And we are challenged in the Psalms to work together with God in all we do.
B. Psalm 127 begins... "Except the LORD build the house, they labor in vain that build it: except the LORD keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain. 2: It is vain for you to
rise up early, to sit up late, to eat the bread of sorrows: for so he giveth his beloved sleep..." The writer indicates that "except the Lord build, etc.," the outcome, regardless of how diligent our effort, will not be what it can and should be. It
all becomes "vain" (or meaningless effort.) In this generation of independence, where so many pride themselves on being able to pull themselves up by their bootstraps and hard work, we must
learn to look to God as our co-worker and helper in "every endeavor of life." God, after all, is the ultimate source of all blessings and prosperity and fulfillment in life.
-- James: 1:17, "Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above... Mankind spends much of its time creating and conserving. We "individually" build careers, business projects, portfolios, and hopefully
accumulate assets while "collectively" we build communities, cities, and nations. The long hours of rising early and sitting up late and fretting over the things of life can consume us. The writer is not opposed to "the dignity of hard work" and enterprise, nor to the importance of being prudent, good stewards and safeguarding what
has been built. But he seems to rebuke the anxiety and fretting that comes when we find ourselves attempting to build and pursue the things of life without seeking
or acknowledging Godís help and blessings. Whether we are building a building, a family a corporation, a business, or a life - every enterprise of our lives should include God. It is true that one might accomplish much in life without reliance on God. Long hours of work may pay off with much money in the bank and wonderful monuments of
accomplishment, but, even so, without God what
are they worth? In some ways, Solomon is asking the simple question asked by our Lord: "What does it profit to gain the whole world and lose oneís soul?"
(Mark 8:36) Solomon recognized the folly of needless worry and anxiety. The antidote to restless and sleepless nights is to trust more in Godís providence and
to acknowledge that God is working "behind the scenes" (providentially, and provisionally) in our lives as our co-worker.-- 1 Cor. 3:7, "So then neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that
watereth; but God that giveth the increase." Do you believe that God is able to help you and work with you in the great building projects of your life? Stop and think for a few moments...What are some of the things that you find yourself trying to "build" in life without God? Is it true that the best laid plans will fail unless God crowns them with success? God may crown our efforts with success although we donít acknowledge him (after all, He sends his rain and sunshine upon the just and unjust) but
just think of the peace of mind that could be ours if we will acknowledge that God has an important part in our lives?
C. The Psalm continues to mention what I would consider to be our greatest assets in life.... -- our living assets
--Ps 127:3-5 "Lo, children are an heritage of the LORD: and the fruit of the womb is his reward. As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man; so are
children of the youth. Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them: they shall not be ashamed, but they shall speak with the enemies in the gate."
In addition to career and capital assets we gain in life, mankind is also pre-occupied with family life. Rightly so, because children are perhaps our greatest asset. They bring happiness and lift up our spirits in our older years.
-- Prov 17:6 "Childrenís children are the crown of old men" (As a grandfather I can attest to the truth of that statement.) Unlike the world, our children and grandchildren are unashamed of us. They will even defend us against our enemies. But they also come to us as "our greatest responsibility". We may wonder when a child is born, how will we feed them? Let us remember, "he who sends us mouths to feed will send food to feed them with if we will trust in Him."--- Psm 37:25, "I have been young, and now am old: yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread." The author back in Psm 127, made a powerful point when he stated that children are the "heritage of the Lord." Only when we view them as "gifts" given to us by God, will we truly appreciate our responsibility to care for them and help them to learn of
their Creator and their responsibility toward Him. An arrow in our hand will depend upon us for guidance if they are to hit the proper mark in life. The Psalmist reminds us that the same is true of our children. Let us aim carefully and prayerfully as we take them from our quiver and send them out into the world.... Not aimlessly nor with little force, but with all our might and power let us send them out into life hurling toward the mark of excellence that will allow
them to be all that God intended!
Donít you see then that: Our God in not only able to challenge us... he has and is challenging us thru his word to become laborers together with him in all that we
pursue in life. Our Careers, our Capital or cash, our Children - these are important pursuits in life that take up much of our time. But to try to build our lives without God is foolish.-- We may be able to keep up with the Jones monetarily speaking...but become bankrupt and in default spiritually speaking. God is challenging us to trust in Him and cast our cares upon Him and labor together with God in all our pursuits in life.--- Are we doing that? Will we accept the challenge?
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