Monday, March 27, 2006

Is God In Control?

A short time ago, I was reading my bible and in the book of Galatians 4:4 I read,
In the fullness, of time God sent His son into the world, born of a woman....

Now how did a piece of the Christmas story get up and crawl over to the book of Galatians. Everyone knows that the Christmas story is in the beginning of Luke and Matthew; so how did this ‘born of a woman’ get so far away. I was going to get my scissors and paste and return it when something else caught my imagination.

God sent His son “in the fullness of time”. That thought would bog me down for weeks. I could not get my mind around that idea. You see, “in the fullness of time” means “when the timing was perfect”, or “when everything was just right”. I don’t get it. I don’t get it!

The world of 4 BC lacked the modern conveniences we take for granted. They travelled by donkey. A woman, nine months pregnant, travelling on a donkey. The culture stoned women to death who got pregnant outside of marriage. There was a census going on and there was no room at the inn. The timing required that God incarnate be born in a feed box. God went from the throne of heaven to a stinking manger.

I’ve heard of some of the details of the contracts between entertainers and promoters. The rock group Van Halen always had to have M & M’s in there dressing room but with the brown ones picked out. Michael Bouton’s contract prohibits onions in the room because they smell bad. These people have front people who go ahead of them and arrange theses very important details.

In 4 BC, where were God’s front personnel. I’ll tell you where, they were talking to shepherds instead of making reservations at the Ramada. I don’t get it.

If Jesus had been born today, we have sparkling clean birthing rooms and fetal monitors and car seats. We have 200 cable channels and the whole wide world is wired. The pop singer Madonna’s baby was christened on international television. Baby Jesus had to flee to Egypt while a power crazed King slaughtered every male baby and toddler in the land.

The timing, according to God’s word, was perfect.

Is God in control, or not?
As I considered the events of the Christmas story that didn’t make sense to me, I realized that in my own life there have been questions that have been left unanswered. There are so many things that don’t make sense and I know it’s not just me that thinks that way.

This year some of you may have lost a loved one - untimely.

Your teenage son or daughter changed and said things to you that you thought you would never hear.

You lost your job.

You got sick at the worst possible time.

Is God in control or are we the victims of chance?
Think of what I am about to show you as photographs of God. Everyone likes to look at photographs. These photographs are going to take some of you by surprise. Some of you will squirm a bit when you see them. It won’t be what you expected. Some of you may get angry and say “that is not the God I worship.” But my prayer is that most of you will find the comfort and assurance that you have searched for and hoped for. I am going to take you to several passages of scripture.

We find the first one in Psalm 50:21 - right in the middle of the verse -
“ thought I was altogether like you.”

That is going to be your greatest struggle. Keep reminding yourself that God is not like you. We have not created God in our image. He doesn’t think like we do.

Have you ever lost your temper? God never has!
Have you ever said something you didn’t mean? God never has!
Have you ever done something stupid and foolish? God never has!
Have you ever stumbled? Have you ever been ignorant? Have you ever been lost? Have you ever been frustrated?
God never has!

We are like God in that we are capable or reason and understanding but God is not like us!

When we form a plan and it doesn’t work what do we do?
We change the plan - as many times as we have to.
Do you think God is like that?

God’s plan and purpose has never once been subject to change because it never has been challenged or thwarted in any way.

Do you think that God is weak and struggles against Satan like we do? If you do, then you have been worshipping the wrong God!

1 Chron. 29:11,12.
“Yours, O Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the majesty and the splendor, for everything in heaven and earth is yours. Yours, O Lord, is the kingdom; you are exalted as head over all.
Wealth and honor come from you; you are the ruler of all things. In your hands are strength and power to exalt and give strength to all.”

Now that is a breathtaking image and there is one just like it in 2 Chron. 20:6 -
“O Lord, God of our fathers, are you not the God who is in heaven? You rule over all the kingdoms of the nations. Power and might are in your hand, and no one can withstand you.”
Before God presidents, popes, emperors, kings are less than grasshoppers. He controls whether a chad is hanging, swinging, pregnant or dimpled.

He rules over all!

Job knew some things about unanswered questions. Near the end of the book of Job he speaks to God and says -
“I know that you can do all things; no plan of yours can be thwarted... Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know.”

All that God has planned, he performs.

Psalm 115:3 -
“Our God is in heaven, he does whatever pleases him.”

That one short verse alone, tells us everthing we need to know about the events that shape and form our lives. It tells us the cause of all things - God, and the why of all things - God’s pleasure. Now that’s where some of us may begin to squirm.

I discover there that God is not planning the universe around me. He is not my personal genie in a bottle.

Isaiah saw this truth when God gave him a similar photograph in Isaiah 46:9,10 -
“Remember the former things, those of long ago; I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me. I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come. I say: My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please.”

God is in control and nothing happens that he hasn’t ordered. Now this is where some of you may be getting angry with me. Because things have happened to you that you are sure God never would plan.
Bad things, evil things. We will look at that problem in a moment but first, let me make it absolutlely clear from scripture that God is in control.

Here are the rest of my photographs -
Acts 17:28 -
“For in Him we live, and move and have our being.”

Dan. 4:34,35 - God caused a great king to go insane and then brought him back to his right ming and them made him speak this revelation of God.
“His dominion is an eternal dominion; his kingdom endures from generation to generation. All the peoples of the earth are regarded as nothing. He does as he pleases with the powers of heaven and the peoples of the earth. No one can hold back his hand or say to him: ‘What have you done?’”

God even controls the weather. Psalm 147:15-18 tells us -
“He sends his command to the earth; his word runs swiftly. He spreads the snow like wool and scatters the frost like ashes. He hurls down his hail like pebbles. Who can withstand his icy blast? He sends his word and melts them; he stirs up his breezes and the waters flow.”

Will our next president mess things up for the country? Prov. 21:1 tell us -
“The kings heart is in the hand of the Lord; he directs it like a watercourse wherever he pleases.”

God has always been in control and always will be? That’s not my opinion, that’s the Word of the only authority worth recognizing.

But if God orders all things, than does he order evil.
James tells us that God is not tempted by evil nor does he tempt anyone. He is holy and God cannot author or create evil. Satan in his rebellion brought evil into existence and God didn’t stop it which is a difficult question to grapple with. Because of Adam’s fall, our representative, we are plenty sinful ourselves.

You will struggle with the idea that God controls events that seem evil and unfair. But you have probably already accepted his workings in the most evil event of all history and you didn’t even realize it.

“God sent his son into the world, born of a woman”

Jesus Christ lived a perfect life in total and absolute obedience to God’s law. He accomplished what no man or woman would ever be able to do. To satisfy the righteous requirements of the law.

Every man, woman and child deserves spiritual seperation from God because of their sinfulness. Only one never did anything to deserve spiritual separation from God.

We see the loss of 6 million jews in concentration camps. It was horrible and evil and unfair. So is a young child with leukemia or a car accident that takes the lives of innocent loved ones. But there was an evil and unfair event that dwarfs any we can imagine - when God set in order the events that would lead to His perfect Son being humiliated and crucified on a cross for something he never did.

The perfect One became sin and God ordained it. In God’s grace, we know and understand why he did that.

Acts 2:23 -
“This man was handed over to you by God’s set purpose and foreknowledge; and you with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross.”

So you and I could be saved.

God is in control. Can you trust God who did not spare even his own perfect son for your sake?

Shakespere said that “All the world’s a stage and we are just players” but what’s the play about..

Eph 3:10 tells us -
His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms, according to his eternal purpose which he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord. In him and through him we may approach God with freedom and confidence.

God’s purpose from the beginning and before time existed is to display his infinite grace and infinite wisdom in the redemption of lost sinners.

There will always be questions, but God is in control.