Bible Faith Fellowship: Substance Over Form

God, How Powerful You Are

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Barry Johnson

God, How Powerful You Are God, How Powerful You Are

Date 2010-08-01
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Document (PDF) BFF-08012010-GodHowPowerfulYouAre.pdf
Call to Worship

Matthew 27:50-54, “And Jesus cried out in a loud voice, and yielded up His spirit. Then, behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom; and the earth quaked and the rocks were split, and the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised; and coming out of the graves after His resurrection, they went into the holy city and appeared to many. So when the centurion and those with him, who were guarding Jesus, saw the earthquake and the things that had happened, they feared greatly, saying, ‘Truly this was the Son of God.’” The centurion almost got it right, Jesus “is” the Son of God, not just “was” the Son of God! Let us praise this Jesus, the Son of God, and worship Him in spirit and truth.

Message

We are in a season in which the Holy Spirit is reminding us of the attributes of God, and so we have been led to focus on His love, His mercy, His perfection, and today we are to focus on His power. We sing the praise song, with the refrain, “How powerful you are!” and that is the focus of our message today. We know that God is omniscient, omnipresent, and omnipotent, and those are such big words, such rarely-used words in our culture, that even in their eloquence and sophistication, that actually tempt us to gloss over, to minimize, to trivialize these fundamental attributes of God, not least of which is His power. His power is mighty in all things and in all ways. He is mighty in all of His ways. Today, we are going to survey Scripture to polish our memory, get the dust and specks of eloquence and sophistication out of our eyes, that we may better see and know that the Earth is the Lord’s and that He wants His Name to be declared in all the earth. He wants all men to understand those things and to be so knowledgeable of His power that they will approach Him in reverent awe – awe because of His power and reverence because of His love – and work out their personal, individual salvation with fear and trembling, as it says in Philippians 2:12, for in His power, it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure, as He did with Moses as we shall review, shortly.

We see God’s power alive and quick and relentless and irresistible from Creation to Judgment at the Great White Throne and on to the settling in of life eternal in the New Jerusalem. And in all in between. Let’s start in Genesis with the creation.

Creation and life and Fertility

Genesis 1, Then God said (and in the power of His voice, things were caused to change, to happen) . . . . and there was light, and the firmament dividing between heaven and earth, and the Earth and Seas, and plant live and its fertiliity, and stars, sun and moon, and animals of sea, air and earth and their fertility, and man and woman and their fertility, and the grant of dominion to mankind, over all the earth and its contents.

To understand this we need to discuss Albert Einstein. Albert Einstein figured out the Theory of Relativity, which is based on the theorem that energy and mass (or matter) are of a finite quantity in the universe and that they are interchangeable – hence his so-called Theory of Relativity, E = MC². But in the beginning, before God created, there was a void – void means “nothing”, so there was neither energy nor matter. What is “energy” but power released from latent to potent, from stored energy to applied energy. When God spoke, power was released by his voice and converted to matter, which, in most inanimate forms, has the ability (oil and gas) to be expended by man to produce power, and in its human form has the ability to be a reservoir and transmitter of God’s power to execute his purpose and plan of love, mercy, service, evangelism and discipleship. Now, listen up! In any relationship you ever knew, if someone just sat on the sofa and said, “I love you,” with their arms always folded, their fists always closed, and their feet always still, is that really loving someone else? No, it is not, because merely saying you love is not love without action which requires power. We have to put love into motion to more from a description to a reality. When God spoke, he put His love in action, and the world went from being merely a description in the view of the Godhead to being a reality. He still works the same way today, through His voice, even His still, small voice, and through His word, the Holy Scriptures and the voices of His prophets. The New Testament confirms and summarizes the Creation in Colossians 1: 16, “For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones, or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him.” Oh, yes, Psalm 29: 4, The voice of the Lord is powerful!

But now that we have creation, life and fertility, and you have all these herbs, animals and people reproducing – fertility --, the issue of choice, especially for man, made in the image of the Godhead, reared its head and the issue of men’s hearts became paramount. Next, we will be reminded of God’s work in and with the hearts of men.

Hearts of Men

Exodus 7:3, I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and verse 13, and Exodus 14: 4-5, it did. And in Ezekiel 11: 17-21, seeing past the dispersion of the Jews to the restoration of Israel in the Promised Land which happened in 1948, and acknowledging that He gave man free will and choice, and foreshadowing the ministry of reconciliation in Christ of God and Man including the Jew, God speaks through he prophet Ezekiel, thus: “Therefore, says the Lord God: ‘I will gather you from the peoples, assemble you from the countries where you have been scattered, and I will give you the land of Israel. And they will go there, and they will take away all its detestable things (= idols) and all its abominations (=defilings of God and His creation) from there. Then, I will give them a new heart, and I will put a new spirit within them, and take the stony heart out of their flesh, and give them a heart of flesh, that they may walk in My statutes and keep My judgments and do them; and they shall be My people, and I will be their God. But as for those whose hearts follow the desire for their detestable things (=idols) and their abominations (=defilings of God and His creation), I will recompense their deeds on their own heads,’ says the Lord God.” God has the power to harden hearts into stone or convert them into flesh, even though He chooses to allow us to choose, except when it suits His purpose and pleasure, as it did with Pharaoh. And he used supernatural events, overcoming science and the laws, which He created, of nature, to work through the heart of Moses and against the stone heart of Pharaoh, to turn his heart and the hearts of the Egyptian people so that they would be glad for the Hebrews to be gone from Egypt and to take their stuff and the Egyptian plunder with them.

Over Nature and the Elements

Exodus 7:3, God didn’t just say He would harden Pharaoh’s heart, but also that “I will multiply my signs and wonders in the land of Egypt” (Exodus 7-12: Aaron’s rod and serpent, and the serpent of Aaron’s rod ate up the serpents of the Pharaoh’s soceror’s rods; water turned into blood, the sudden invasion of frogs, and their death, the conversion of dust into lice, the sudden swarming of flies, aa catatsophic pestilence upon the livestock of Egypt which did not affect the lifestock of the Hebrews, ashes that caused boils on Egyptian man and beasts, the assault of thunder, hail and fire from heaven, breaking every herb and tree, so that Pharaoh would know, Exodus 9:29, that the Earth is the Lord’s, the invasion of locusts to eat what survived of broken herbs and trees, brought in by the east wind and removed by the west wind, three days of thick darkness – it could almost be felt – in Egypt, but light in Goshen where the Hebrews lived, the angel of death killing the firstborn of the Egyptians while sparing the firstborns of the obedient Hebrews. It was summed in Exodus 9:16, for this very purpose I have raised you up (Moses) that I may show my power in you and My Name may be declared in all the earth. And all that does not even cover the pillar of fire and the column, and the Red Sea, and the Manna, and the Jordan and the miracles in taking, for the most part, the Promised Land. Today, we are just using some examples to polish out the specks of eloquence and sophistication that keep us from seeing the power attribute of God.

What God did was work through the heart of Moses, to change the hearts of Pharaoh and the Egyptians so that the Hebrews would be released from 400 years of slavery, 400 years of free labor for the Egyptians. As God did this through His power, He brought about a major decision on behalf of a nation-state by its king, that changed the course of history. So we move on the next application of God’s power that we will consider today.

Politics and the decisions of States

Exodus 12:31, Then Pharaoh called for Moses and Aaron by night, and said, Rise, go out from among my people, both you and the children of Israel. And go, serve the Lord, as you have said, and take your flocks and herds as you have said, and be gone. This was a history-changing, “game-changing” decision by a head of state. Later summarized as history in Deuteronomy 4:37, “And because He loved your fathers, therefore He chose their descendants after them; and He brought you out of Egypt with His Presence and with His mighty power.”

Now, just to touch on a couple of quick points in how God’s love is so dramatically applied since The Exodus:

Power to Heal

By the stripes of Jesus we are healed, I Peter 2:24.

Power to Feed

God’s children are provided for, Psalm 37: 25, “I have been young, and now am old; yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his descendants begging bread.”

And this brings us to the real crescendo of the applications of God’s power – what we do about life and its necessary counter-part, death:

Power over Death and the Devil

Resurrection. That is God’s Plan A. Resurrection. Resurrection is not a backup plan, a Plan B; it is Plan A, period! Remember Lazrus, John 12: 17, was called out of his grave by his friend, Jesus. Jesus called Lazarus, by name, from the grave, other wise all the dead would have arisen, in response to the power released by Jesus’ voice. And Jesus, in John 11: 25, speaking to Martha, confirmed, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. . . . .” You see we even have a new citizenship, Philippians 3: 20-21, “For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working by which He is able to subdue ( a “power” word) all things to Himself.” And see Hebrews 2: 14-15, “Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and release those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.” Matthew 27 reports the aftermath of Jesus’ death as a man, in verses 50-54. “And Jesus cried out in a loud voice, and yielded up His spirit. Then, behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom; and the earth quaked and the rocks were split, and the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised; and coming out of the graves after His resurrection, they went into the holy city and appeared to many. So when the centurion and those with him, who were guarding Jesus, saw the earthquake and the things that had happened, they feared greatly, saying, ‘Truly this was the Son of God.’” And God’s power in Jesus triumphs over Satan and over all the evil principalities and powers in heavenly and earthly places: Colossians 2: 13-15, “And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses, having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us, having nailed it to the cross. Having disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it.” Prophetically, we see the end of the devil in Revelation 20: 10, “The devil, who deceived them, was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone where the beast and the false prophet are. And they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.” I Corinthians 15: 20-26, gives us even further assurance, prophetically, of the power of God over the devil and death, “But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since by man came death, by Man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive. But each one in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, afterward those who are Christ’s at His coming. Then comes the end, when He delivers the kinggom to God the Father, when He puts an end to all rule and authority and power. For He must reign till He has put all enemies under His feet. The last enemy that will be destroyed is death.

Power to Re-Create

Also like the power of resurrection. The New Jerusalem, Revelation 21: 1-2, “Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also, there was no more sea. Then, I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.

Conclusion

These are just a few of God’s powers, which serve to illustrate the extent of them, from life to death, from birth to resurrection, from creation to re-creation, with intervening powers to feed, to heal, to forge His will in the hearts of people, kings, nations, for his divine purposes. Only through His power is His heart of love poured out, is His mercy made manifest. Please know the attributes of God and, like Moses, let Him use you for His purposes and good pleasure, that His Name might be declared throughout the earth and all may know that the Earth is His, that the universe is His, that His kingdom will come, and that the day of judgment is soon at hand. Time is a serious matter; C. S. Lewis says that time is a creature of death! But, alas, we mere mortals are called to live in our times for His purposes and we can’t do what He wants us to do, unless, like Moses, and unlike Pharaoh, we seek God and choose to be willing to let His power work on us, in us and through us, for His will and not our own. In your weakness, find His strength, His power, God, how powerful You are !!

God bless you and amen+