September 25, 2011

So Far Beyond Us - Sep 25, 2011

To DOWNLOAD an MP3 of this message, first right click here then choose "save link as" or "save target as". Older audio is removed to conserve server space, but is available by request.


Romans 11:33-36 (NIV)

“33 Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God!
How unsearchable his judgments,
and his paths beyond tracing out!
34 “Who has known the mind of the Lord?
Or who has been his counselor?”
35 “Who has ever given to God,
that God should repay them?”
36 For from him and through him and for him are all things.
To him be the glory forever! Amen.

We live on Earth. One dirty little rock among nine others circling the sun. Earth seems pretty big to us from our little vantage point. But, when you compare Earth’s size to the size of our solar system, it begins to looks small.

For example, if you shrunk the solar system so that Earth was the size of a tennis ball, that would mean that the sun is still half a mile away.

But go further than that. Our solar system is part of the Milky Way galaxy. The Milky Way galaxy is a collection of around 300 billion stars. If the Milky Way galaxy were shrunk down to the size of the United States east of the Mississippi, our whole solar system would only be the size of a quarter. Yep, plunk a quarter into the eastern states, and that’s our solar system in the Milky Way galaxy.

Now, there are billions of galaxies in the visible universe. I say visible, because we can only see so much of the universe before the eyesight of our strongest telescopes fails. What is beyond the range of our strongest telescopes? Does the universe extend forever, or does it come to an end? WE have no idea.

I say all this because I want us to get a bit of a hold on how large God’s creation is, so that we can see, in part, how HUGE God is. He is not only the being who created our vast universe; He is the being who fills it all and more. He is bigger than the edges of existence.

God’s creation is amazing even if you just describe it in terms of size. But there is so much more when it comes to living creatures.

When a butterfly hatches, it doesn’t go to flight school. It knows how to fly right out of the chrysalis. How does it know how to do something that took man forever to figure out?

A callus is formed on human hand because the body senses that right there the skin is being worn off too quickly. So, the body dials up the skin production in that spot. You know how the body knows where and how much to dial up the skin production? Neither does anyone else. It’s still a mystery. If the body were to dial up skin production just a tad too much we’d have clunky unfeeling hands. Too little, and our skin would wear all the way through to the muscle.

A human baby needs around nine months to grow so that he or she can begin living outside the mother. When the time is right for birth, the body produces a chemical called oxytocin, and labor begins. How does the body know when the time is right? Nobody knows.

Whether you look out, or in, the universe is huge and complex. And the God who made this structured universe is still active in it.

Right now there are about seven billion human beings living on earth. And the Bible says the following about all these people.
“24 “The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by human hands. 25 And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything. Rather, he himself gives everyone life and breath and everything else. 26 From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands. 27 God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us. 28 ‘For in him we live and move and have our being…’” (Acts 17:24-28 NIV).
You are where you are because God wants you to reach out for Him, and come to know who He is and what He’s done for you. That’s how big God is. That’s how much God cares for you.

When we begin to study the creation, we realize how big it is. And this gives us some inkling of how big God is.

In our reading for today, Paul points out how HUGE God is so that we will stop trying to define Him with our own limited minds. We all do this. We picture God from our tiny vantage point. We think we’ve go parts of Him figured out from the things He’s made. And while it’s true that you can learn some things about God from what He has made, the fact remains that man can only come to know the heart of God through His Word, the Bible.

If we keep our thoughts about God grounded on the foundation of the Bible, then we won’t go wrong in trying to form some picture of what He’s like.

Look again at the beginning of our reading. Verses 33-34. There Paul says…
“33 Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God!
How unsearchable his judgments,
and his paths beyond tracing out!
34 “Who has known the mind of the Lord?
Or who has been his counselor?” (Romans 11:33-34 NIV).

Imagine that. A human being trying to tell God what to do. A creature trying to tell the Creator, Here, let’s have a little conversation, I think you need some direction.

As ridiculous as that sounds, it’s exactly what a man named Job once tried to do. Job was a rich man. He had a big family. He was healthy. And then, Job lost it all. His possessions, gone. His children, dead. His body, stricken with disease.

He was a follower of the true God, but Job still felt slighted. He appealed to God for a meeting. He wanted to talk things over.

At the end of the book of Job, the LORD finally granted him that meeting. In Job 38 it says…
“38:1 Then the LORD spoke to Job out of the storm. He said:
2 “Who is this that obscures my plans
with words without knowledge?
3 Brace yourself like a man;
I will question you,
and you shall answer me.
4 “Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation?
Tell me, if you understand.
5 Who marked off its dimensions? Surely you know!
Who stretched a measuring line across it?
6 On what were its footings set,
or who laid its cornerstone—
7 while the morning stars sang together
and all the angels shouted for joy?
8 “Who shut up the sea behind doors
when it burst forth from the womb,
9 when I made the clouds its garment
and wrapped it in thick darkness,
10 when I fixed limits for it
and set its doors and bars in place,
11 when I said, ‘This far you may come and no farther;
here is where your proud waves halt’?
12 “Have you ever given orders to the morning,
or shown the dawn its place,
13 that it might take the earth by the edges
and shake the wicked out of it?
14 The earth takes shape like clay under a seal;
its features stand out like those of a garment.
15 The wicked are denied their light,
and their upraised arm is broken.
16 “Have you journeyed to the springs of the sea
or walked in the recesses of the deep?
17 Have the gates of death been shown to you?
Have you seen the gates of the deepest darkness?
18 Have you comprehended the vast expanses of the earth?
Tell me, if you know all this” (Job 38:1-18 NIV).

Job thought he knew better than God. He forgot that he was the creature, God the Creator, and not the other way around. Instead doubting God’s ways, Job would have done much better just to listen to what God says in His Word.

That’s the lesson we have to learn also. He’s the thunderstorm, we’re the desert flower. He’s the powerhouse, we’re the light bulb. He’s the surging ocean, we’re the grain of sand. He’s the universe, we’re the tiny planet.

When we humbly see our place under God, He graciously reveals His Himself to us. In 1 Corinthians 2 it says…
“ “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard,
Nor have entered into the heart of man
The things which God has prepared for those who love Him.”
10 But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God. 11 For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God. 12 Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God” (1 Corinthians 2:9-12 NKJV).
The ultimate truth that God reveals to mankind is this: We were created perfect, but we rebelled against God by sin. In His love, God sent a Savior to bring us back to His side. Jesus suffered and died so that all our sins stand forgiven before God. And through the Good News of sins forgiven through Jesus, God reveals to us what no human mind could ever have conceived. God loves us, and has forgiven our sins through His Son’s suffering and death.

I said earlier that Job thought he knew better than God. Or at the very least Job felt that God owed him some sort of an explanation for the bad things that had happened in his life. Job felt a sense of entitlement. But in verse 35 Paul says…
“35 ‘Who has ever given to God,
that God should repay them?’
36 For from him and through him and for him are all things.
To him be the glory forever! Amen” (Romans 11:35-36 NIV).

I heard a joke once, that went like this. A scientist approached God Almighty and said, “God we have figured out how to create life, so we don’t need you anymore.” God said, “Oh really? Well, let’s see you make life.” The scientist bend down to pick up a handful of dust, but God interrupted, “Oh no, get your own dirt”.

We should have no sense of entitlement when it comes to God. For there is no good thing that we have that we did not receive from Him. He made all things. He gives all good gifts. All things are connected to Him and serve to bring Him glory in one way or another. In Romans 1 it says…
“…since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse” (Romans 1:20 NIV).
I think the most interesting word in that verse is “divine”. What does “divine” mean? How can you explain or define that word? “Divine” is the quality of “being God”. Only God is “divine”. He is the apex of all that is. He is not just the highest thing created, He is the One “thing” that is NOT created. He is God. It’s hard to define the word “divine” because it’s at the top of the pyramid. There aren’t things around “divine” to help explain it, only things below it that can’t reach it.

God is the source. God is the giver. God is the hub in the wheel of existence that makes it all be.

I know we can’t understand everything about God. But by the grace of God we can understand what He reveals to us.

Once of my favorite illustrations about man’s limits comes from a book by C.S. Lewis. It’s a fictional story whose main character is a man named “Ransom”. In one scene, Ransom is talking to an angel of God. He asks the angel some question, and in response the angel says something like, “Ransom, I’d love to tell you the answer to your question, but there is no place in your mind where it will fit.”

We can’t comprehend the greatness of God. But through the Bible we can know the most important things about Him and what He’s done for sinners like us. God fits these teachings into our minds through the Holy Spirit who lives in His Word.

We are sinners who don’t deserve God’s tender care. But because of Jesus, we have it. Through Jesus, the sinless, almighty Creator has made us His own people. His own sinners made saints. We were the darkness, but His light has shined on us in the middle of this universe. As we feel His forgiveness and love through the message of Christ, let’s make sure that the light that reflects back to Him is the light of praise and worship.

I’d like to end our mediation today by reading one last passage. Proverbs 3:5...
“5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart,
And lean not on your own understanding;
6 In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He shall direct your paths” (Proverbs 3:5-6 NIV).

To the LORD be the glory, forever. Amen.

And the peace of God which surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

No comments:

Post a Comment