The God Who Acts part 2

23 Oct

It is vital we remember we serve a God who is active.  

We have seen in the previous post how we face pressure from the world to deny that.  But it’s important to understand, we are also tempted by our own hearts to forget it too. 

As you read the Scripture you find that even the people of God have a tendency to give credit for what God has done to the means He used to do it; or to someone else in His place.   We’ve got to think about God’s activity, because we’ve got such a strong tendency to give credit and give glory for what He has done to someone else.   

You know the story of Moses and Israel at Mount Sinai.  God just delivered Israel in an amazing way; I mean the waters parted they walked through on Dry Land, the great warriors of Egypt destroyed.  And God delivered them in such a way that it was obvious He did it.  I mean when the waters part in front of you it’s hard to give credit to anyone else but God. 

But Moses goes up to talk to God on the mountain, and he’s up there for a while, the people get restless and what do they do?  They go to Aaron, and say look Aaron make us a god.  So Aaron, wimp that he was, obeys, makes a god; and what does he say when he’s finished?  “This is your god, O Israel, who brought you up from the land of Egypt.”  What’s he doing?  Giving credit for God’s work to someone else. 

It’s easy for us to do the same thing today.  God rescues us, He delivers us, then we turn around and instead of really thanking Him, we give the credit to someone or something else. 

It’s not just our pride that causes us to forget God’s activity.  It’s also what we see happening all around us.  We look around us and things just don’t make sense.  Start thinking about the state of the world and it can get pretty discouraging.   We read that God is active, but there are times when it just doesn’t seem like He is.  That’s true in the world at large, and that’s true sometimes in our own lives.  We don’t always see the hand of God at work.  Instead we see things at least from our perspective that just seem to be a mess.  There are horrible, horrible things happening every day – to believers and to unbelievers.  You pick up your newspaper, you turn on your t.v. and sometimes all you see is evil, I mean gross, disgusting, terrible evil all around you.  And so it’s easy to begin to doubt.  You pray and nothing seems to happen; and you wonder is God really at work?

If you ever struggled with that, you are not the first. 

Listen to how Jeremiah cries out to God in Jeremiah 14:8,9 “Thou Hope of Israel, Its Savior in time of distress, Why art Thou like a stranger in the land or like a traveler who has pitched his tent for the night?  Why art Thou like a man dismayed, like a mighty man who cannot save?  Yet Thou art in our midst, O Lord, and we are called by your name; do not forsake us?”

Do you hear the struggle there?  God, what’s going on here?  Why won’t you act?  We’re your people, you are here in our midst, yet why aren’t you answering our prayers?  That’s Jeremiah being real.  We don’t like to say it here in church, because we are all supposed to look our Sunday best, but there are a lot of things that happen that to us don’t make sense, that make it look like God is not active, but inactive. 

What we do with that?  How do we respond to that?  Well, we need a Word from God.  Listen, this world is going to break your heart unless you really understand what the Scripture says about God’s activity and believe it. When your world is dark, when things go wrong, when life gets hard, the only way you are going to have any strength is if you truly are gripped by what the Scripture teaches about God’s involvement in this world.  All of God’s attributes don’t mean much if He isn’t active, if He isn’t present, if He isn’t at work.  I mean what does it mean to me if George Washington was a nice guy.  Good for him.  That doesn’t help me much.  He’s dead.  And if God isn’t active, if He’s asleep up in heaven somewhere, than all these attributes we’re studying don’t mean much.  

The only way we are going to find comfort in God is if we understand His ever-present activity.

So the question is how active is God?  How involved is He in this universe?

We could start big picture; this world, it’s here because God created it.  Many times when the prophets want to point out that God acts, and that He’s worthy of our trust, that’s what they point to.  Isaiah describes God as the One who created the heavens and stretched them out.  I saw a book this week, entitled God’s paintings, and it was pictures of creation.  And you know that’s a good reminder, this world is not an accident, it’s the God’s craftsmanship.  He was personally involved in the creation of the world and everything in it.

But His involvement goes beyond merely creating the world; the Bible makes it clear that day after day He is involved in sustaining it.  God didn’t just set things in motion and then sit back and watch it all happen.  Every day, every moment He is actively sustaining everything thing in this universe.  Hebrews 1:3 says that Jesus is “sustaining all things by the Word of His power.” 

Now that word sustain kind of sounds out there. What’s that mean? To sustain. It means that the reason you have breath is because God is giving you breath.  Acts 17:25, “He himself gives all men life and breath and everything else…” It means the reason the Sun doesn’t drop out of the sky is because God is holding it in place.  It means when one night you look up and see the stars in their place, and the next night you look up and see the stars in their place, and the next night you look up and sees the stars in their place, as Isaiah says in Isaiah 40:26, you know it’s “because of the greatness of His might and the strength of His power” that “not one of them is missing.” 

But God’s activity goes beyond just Him creating and sustaining this world, He is actively governing this world.  He is ruling over this world.    

Paul writes in 1 Timothy 6:15 that God is “the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords…”  God is King.  And He is not a King who is far removed from His subjects, but one who instead rules in all parts of His universe.  He is presently governing heaven and earth.  As the Psalmist says, “The Lord reigns.”   

Now over what does God reign?

Well, He controls the weather.  Job 37:5-13, “God thunders with His voice wondrously, doing great things which we cannot comprehend.  For to the snow He says, ‘Fall on the earth,’ and to the downpour and the rain, ‘Be strong.’ He seals the hand of every man, that all men may know His work…From the breath of God ice is made, and the expanse of the waters is frozen.  Also with moisture He loads the thick cloud; He disperses the cloud of His lightning.  And it changes direction, turning around by His guidance, that it may do whatever He commands it on the face of the inhabited earth.  Whether for correction or for His world, or for lovingkindness, He causes it to happen.”  The weatherman, you know what his job is, he’s just trying to figure out what God is going to do. “…not a drop of rain falls but at the express command of God.” 

He’s in control of the animal kingdom.   Jesus couldn’t make it much more clear than He does in Matthew 10:29, “Are not two sparrows sold for a cent?  And yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father.”  Animals don’t live and die by accident.  God’s so involved in this universe that He’s actually in control of when an animal, an insignificant little animal like a sparrow, lives and dies. 

He is the one who establishes governments and rulers.  Paul says in Romans 13:1, “For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God.” Daniel 4:17, we’re going to look at this next week, “The Most High is Sovereign over the kingdoms of men and gives them to anyone he wishes and sets over them the lowliest of men.”  God decides who is going to rule, and He decides how long they are going to rule.  Isaiah 40:23-24, “He brings princes to naught and reduces the rulers of this world to nothing.  No sooner are they planted, no sooner are they sown, no sooner do they take root in the ground, than he blows on them and they wither, and a whirlwind sweeps them away like chaff.”

He’s the one who is in control of our lives.  Deuteronomy 32:39, “See now that I, I am He, and there is no god besides Me; It is I who put to death and give life.  I have wounded and it is I who heal; and there is no one who can deliver from My hand.”  God is claiming to be unique here, I alone am God.  And what is it that makes him unique?  He has control over life and death.  No one can thwart His will. 

Really what we are talking about here, is a doctrine that theologians like to call God’s providence.  And God’s providence is just a big word that means the God we serve is a God who is constantly caring for and absolutely ruling over all of His creation for His own glory and our good.

You say how involved is God in this world?  Well, He’s constantly caring for it; and He’s absolutely ruling over it. 

We’re talking down to the smallest details.  Proverbs 16:33, “The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the Lord.”  You wouldn’t think of anything much more random than a lot being cast into a lap, but Solomon says even that is under the control of our Lord. 

We’re talking about every aspect of our life.   When we live, when we die.  Job 14:5, “Since his days are determined, the number of his months is with Thee, and his limits Thou has set so that he cannot pass.”  The path we take in life.  Proverbs 16:9, “The mind of man plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps.”  Whether we are exalted or humiliated.  Psalm 75:7, “But God is the judge: He puts one down, and exalts another.”   Our hearts.  Proverbs 21:1, “The king’s heart is like channels of water in the hand of the Lord; He turns it wherever He wishes.”  Our gifts and abilities. 1 Corinthians 4:7, “For who regards you as superior?  And what do you have that you did not receive?  But if you did receive it, why do you boast as if you had not received it?”

God is governing heaven and earth by His providence, and He is working all things out according to His good pleasure.  According to Paul in Ephesians 1:11 He is the God who “works all things after the counsel of His will…”  Is God active?  Yeah; He’s doing what He wants to do and no one can stop Him. 

Because of what we know to be true about God, that’s a reason to rejoice.  And you know, we as believers, we have a unique reason for joy when we think about this.   Because the Bible promises not only is God active; He is always acting for His people’s good.   If you are a believer God is acting, and He is always acting for your good. 

Romans 8:28, “For we know that He causes all things to work together for good to those who love God…”  How many things?  All things!  

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