What Can God Do?
August 17, 2014
Our world is power-hungry. We want it and we crave it. But often, what we seek is just a shadow of what true power is.
In this message, Pastor Ed Young helps us see what true, godly power is. And he helps us discover how God’s eternal power can lead us all to experience life-changing power for ourselves.
Well good morning! I can’t believe you guys came to church today. Give yourselves a round of applause just for showing up on this flash flood, crazy, rainy day. Now give me a round of applause for being here. I almost didn’t show up myself.
ILLUS: One night I walked outside in our driveway and as I was looking I saw a giant bug walk across the cement. He was just making his way across our driveway and he had an attitude. The closer I looked at him I recognized the species. It was an emperor beetle, I mean a big one. You could see the biceps and the triceps of this bug. He was like walking with swagger, all of his legs moving in cadence.
So I just got down and I looked at this bug eyeball to eyeball. He probably had 400 eyes but I’m looking at him and I’m saying to myself, this bug is going to walk right in my face. He’s not going to move. He’s not veering to the right, to the left. This bug has a serious, serious attitude.
So then I got up, got a little stick, picked him up and put him back in the grass and he went on his merry way. That beetle didn’t know he was messing with a human being, did he? He didn’t know that he was facing someone that owned the lot he was on, that owned the driveway, that owned the house. It was a beetle, a little beetle-brain insect. Yet he’d come face to face with this human being, this force, this person much bigger, much greater, much more powerful than his little brain could capture.
How often in our lives do we do the same thing? In our beetle-esque mentality we come face to face with God, our all-powerful God, and we don’t realize how powerful, how awesome, how amazing God is. And we just go, you know what? I’m going to walk the way I’m going to walk. I’m going to walk across my driveway, this is my yard, this is my house, this is my marriage, this is my life, this is my career, these are my abilities. I’m going to do what I want to do, yet so often we’re doing it right in front of God. He has all of this power, all of this octane, and he looks at us and you know he thinks, “Wow, it’s just a beetle, just a beetle.”
I’m in a series of talks called Drones. You know, drones seem to be everywhere these days. They’ve got a lot of power. They can do things that we never dreamed of doing. I was filming a reality fishing show and I had the idea for this series because they were using drones to film us.
So I thought, wow, drones would be sort of a microcosm of who God is. Because God, our great God, is omnipresent. That means he’s everywhere. There’s no place where God is not. Not only is God omnipresent, he’s omniscient. He knows everything. God is the environment for the universe. He knows everything in the past, present, and future. You’re not going to surprise God. You’re not going to shock him. He knows it all.
Also, the Bible says from cover to cover that God is omnipotent. You ever heard of the phrase ‘God almighty?’ It’s in the Bible 345 times. That phrase simply means God is omnipotent. He is omnipotent. He’s all-powerful. And so often we forget about the power of God. We’re like the beetle. We forget who it is we’re facing. Who it is we’re trying to negotiate. God is all-powerful.
We love power in our world today. People say, “I’m having a power lunch,” or “I’m on a power trip,” or “man, that girl just wants power,” or “man, that’s powerful,” or “I want to be a powerful leader, a powerful communicator, a power hitter, a power player.”
Power, power. I want personal power. We love power, we love it. And that’s OK. The true source of all power is God. Let me say it again. The true source of all power is God.
When it comes to God we need to understand that God has different qualities, different attributes. Some of his attributes are communicable, like love, grace, mercy. We can catch those, if you feel me.
Others of his qualities would be incommunicable. His omnipresence, his omniscience, his omnipotence, the Trinity. We have nothing to really compare those attributes to really. Even this illustration about drones. Drones break down. Or you can talk about an athlete who is all over the field. He’s not or she’s not really omnipresent. Or you can talk about someone who’s really brilliant or some computer or whatever, I mean they’re not all-knowing.
So it’s very tough to understand, to really get our little beetle brains around the attributes of God. That does not mean, though, we shouldn’t study them. Because God has made it very obvious. And I believe when we think about the attributes of God, especially in today’s session, the omnipotence of God, it should cause us to step back in wonder and in awe and even in fear.
Think about extreme sports. We’re like, “yeah man, I just want to do extreme stuff! I want to ride on the ragged edge of adrenaline, and I just want to take a risk. I want to dive with sharks and I want to jump off a cliff and I want to surf over there, and I like to ride fast in these cars. I like to just be on the edge.” Others of us go, “well, I want to see a movie that frightens me. There’s a television show and I’m like, whoa! Or I like to see things that surprise me.”
All those things are fine and dandy. Those things, though, are needs in our lives that reflect the greatest need, which is to come in contact with our all-powerful God. Because in worship we should have fear, in worship we can have awe. In worship we can have wonder. It’s part of reverencing our great God. Because of his omnipotence. God is omnipotent.
And today I’m just going to frame a little talk about the omnipotence of God. Because hopefully as I talk about some aspects of his omnipotence I want to unpack this question and I want you to look for this question in my comments. Because any time you talk about God being all-powerful people always ask this question. “Alright. If God is all-powerful, why doesn’t he use his power to stop the suffering in the world?”
“Why doesn’t he use his power to stop death? Why doesn’t he use his power to stop disease or depression? Why? Why? Why?”
As we unpack some of these aspect of God’s omnipotence I think you’ll understand and I’ll understand as best we can in our beetle brains a little bit about the answers to those questions.
First of all, I want you to notice that God’s power is unusual. I mean, let’s face it. It’s unusual. No other power we can think about has the kind of power that God has.
ILLUS: Several days ago Lisa and I had some friends over to eat and Lisa was cooking a beef tenderloin. She’s am amazing cook. And so, in fact, is one of our daughters, Landra. I mean the others can cook but not like Lisa and Landra. I’m just being honest. Going to keep it real. I didn’t realize it but we had a power problem with our oven. The oven just kind of shut down. So the beef tenderloin was not cooked all the way through.
So they motioned for me to come back into the kitchen. I mean, you know, ladies. You’re entertaining, it’s like game time. The ankles are taped, I mean we’re ready to go! So we go out to our grill and we’re having a hard time getting that fixed and see, here’s the situation. You don’t appreciate power until you’re out of it.
Isn’t that true? You don’t really think about it until it’s not there. Our great God is powerful. He’s all-powerful. He can do anything and everything. He has all power and his power is unusual.
The psalmist said in Psalm 89:8, “Who is like you, Lord God Almighty? (again, that’s God, you’re omnipotent) You, Lord, are mighty and your faithfulness surrounds you.”
Now some of you who are statisticians are going, “well, there’s going to be some stuff that God can’t do, Ed. You’re saying God’s all powerful, and yes he is. The Bible says it from cover to cover. I mean how about, there are some aspects that God cannot really tackle or that God will not really do,” and the answer is yes. I’ve listed 5 in my margin. You might want to jot these down right quick.
Here’s what God cannot do. God cannot do certain things. #1 – He cannot do anything that is inconsistent with his character. #2 – He can’t lie. #3 – He will not hydroplane over sin. #4 – He will not rescue an unrepentant person. #5 – He will not punish anyone who is innocent. Conversely, human beings, we can do all of those things. God can’t. I thought I’d just kinda toss that in.
You remember Jeremiah? Jeremiah had a pretty difficult task. At 17 years of age God said, “OK, I want you to deliver a very unpopular message to the southern part of this nation, and it was called Judah.” Basically Jeremiah was supposed to say to the people that 10 of the 12 tribes were going to be taken captive. And he said it and people didn’t dig it. Social media was blowing up, the haters were slurping Haterade. They didn’t dig him and he got thrown in prison. And this prison was brutal. It was a well.
And he was like, oh man! His family and friends and everybody, they were hating on him, hating on him, hating on him. Well, he began to have this conversation with God and in Jeremiah 32:17 guess what they talk about? The fact that God is all-powerful! “O Sovereign Lord, you’ve made the heavens and the earth by your great power.”
Think about the power of God again. It’s as easy for God to make a mosquito as it is for him to make a mountain range. He can make a gnat as easy as he can fashion Niagara Falls. “The heavens and the earth you’ve made by your great power and outstretched arm. Nothing is too hard for you.”
Remember, though, God always uses his power that’s consistent with his character and consistent with his amazing agenda. And we don’t always know and understand what God’s agenda, what God’s sovereign will is. So at the end of the hunt we’ve going to trust. We have got to trust. We’ve got to put our lives in God’s hand. Because as I talked about last week, we do so many things in life where we trust in someone else’s knowledge, in someone else’s power, to take us from point A to point B. And with God, with our great God, with his track record it’s absolutely awesome.
So God creates by his power. He speaks things into existence. Ex nihilio is what theologians use when they describe that. Out of nothing – BOOM! – God speaks it into existence. He creates. He also sustains and he also maintains. Have you ever worshipped God for the fact that he sustains us and maintains us? I understand about the creation and the creation should cause us to worship. Wow! Look at the beautiful ocean! Look at the mountain range! Look at the emperor beetle! Look at the stars! I mean it should cause us to worship! We don’t say that God is in the stars or in the beetle, that’s pantheism. That’s this eastern religion vibe. We do, though, realize God is the environment, he’s the context for the universe. So God’s power is unusual.
Notice also, God’s power is available. God being God could have said, “Well, I’m all-powerful and humans, you’re powerless because you sinned. My standards are perfect. I’m holy, you’re not. Too bad, so sad.”
God, though, not only has made us, he has given us his power. In other words, God’s power is on tap in your life and mine. We either receive it or not.
Think about God just for a second. He sent Jesus and Jesus became powerless, lived a sinless life, beaten, abused, betrayed, taken advantage of, tortured. How could God allow bad things to happen to good people? Died on the cross, took your shame and my game. Your sin and mine upon his life. He died. I checked the stats once again, one out of one die. God allows it. The Bible says the wages of sin is death. The compensation of our conduct is condemnation. That’s what we deserve. Yet God stepped through time and history. He intervened, sent Jesus to die and because God is omnipotent, Jesus rose again. He burst forth with resurrection power, giving us an opportunity to tap into it.
You’ve heard about the 12 Step Program. I think everybody should go through the 12 Step Program. All the 12 steps are from the Bible, if you do the research on it. What’s the first step? You have to admit. “I’m powerless. I’m powerless, God.” We cannot change. We cannot understand God’s purpose and plan until we say, “God, I’m powerless. I’m weak.” And then by confessing our weakness and powerlessness, then we have the power of God. So the way up is down. It’s the upside-down kingdom.
Isaiah said this, Isaiah 40:28 and 31, “Do you not know, have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary.” <panting> Oh I’m exhausted! “And his understanding, no one can fathom.” <fading echo “fathom-fathom”> Sound effects mine. See, I’m ADD and I have to do sound effects or I’ll bore myself. I don’t really care if you don’t like the sound effects, I have to do it to keep myself in the game.
“He gives strength <boom-boom sound effect> strength” <laughter> … that’s funny… “strength to the weary…” (oh I’m just worn out!) “… And increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary and young men stumble <stumbling sound effect> and fall, but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength (da-da-da-daaaa!!), they will soar on wings like <eagle sound effect>, they will run <running sound effect> and not grow < panting sound effect>. They will walk <clip-clop sound effect> and not <ping!> (he fainted!) faint.”
That’s our promise! That’s the power of God! So God’s power is unusual, it’s available. Have you tapped into it? Anybody weary here? Anybody tired here? Anybody want to give up here? Maybe you want to give up in a marriage? Maybe you want to give up in your career? Maybe you want to give up in your calling? God’s power is on tap.
But notice something else. A third aspect of the omnipotence of God, God’s power is transformational.
2 Peter 1:3. Now I love this text because Simon Peter, here’s a guy who said, “Jesus, I am the power man! I’m so powerful, I mean when you go through a difficult situation I’ll be there! I got your back, my brother!”
And Jesus said, “Hey Simon Peter? You’re going to have a power outage very soon.”
The deepest point of Christ’s need, when he needed power friends like Simon Peter, Simon Peter totally bailed. He cursed a blue streak when they asked him if he knew Jesus, then bolted. Jesus, though, reinstated him. Simon Peter admitted his powerlessness. He became one of the most powerful people to ever walk on the planet.
And here’s what he said. His divine power, this word power, dunamis in the Greek, we get the word dynamite from it. Jimmy Walker, I call this the Good Times verse. Dyno-mite!!! Now, very few people laugh. We don’t have a lot of people over 50 years of age. Now all these young people, I always do stuff for young people all the time, try to keep it young and modern and whatever and the music and a lot of the videos and stuff. I’m going to start doing some jokes and lines for those of us who are 50 and over. And young people, here’s what you do. You go home, you ever heard of YouTube? Go on YouTube and just type in Good Times Jimmy Walker Dynomite and you’ll watch just a couple of excerpts from it and here’s what you’ll do. You’ll be like, “…pu-hahahahaha!” You’ll have a delayed laugh. You’re not laughing now but you’ll laugh later.
See those of us who are 50 and over, we’re dying laughing! Good Times! That’s funny, Ed. I used to love that show. I had the floppy hat like Jimmy Walker. I had a shirt with him on it that said “Kid Dy-no-mite!” on it. Again, very few people got that. But my humor sometimes is very select. It’s not for the masses, it’s for maybe 1-2 people.
“His divine power has given us everything…” Not some things, we need for a Godly life. Everything! So I’ve got the total package for a Godly life, through our knowledge of him. That’s why we’re doing this series. Through our knowledge of him. The more we understand the nature and the character of God, the communicable and incommunicable attributes of him, the deeper we’ll grow in him. “Who called us by his own glory and goodness.”
Think about the dy-no-mite! power of God. It can <boom> bust up a hard heart. It can <boom> take away those rough edges. It can give us the <boom> power to face any and every situation.
The fourth thing I want to talk to you about regarding the omnipotence of God: God’s power is purposeful. It’s purposeful.
ILLUS: I have some friends who are body builders and body building, man, that’s a trip. People who are body builders, serious body builders, men and women, the discipline, the diet, the workouts. It is really something to see. One time I asked one, I said, “OK, you spend all these sessions training and dieting and what are your muscles for? I mean what are your muscles for?”
“Well, I just feel healthy.” I go,
“Yeah, but why are you a body builder?”
“Well, dude, I’m a body builder because in the contests I flex my muscles and I pose. And if I have better symmetry and vascularity and thickness and size compared to the other dude, then I win.” So I said,
“What you’re saying is, I mean no disrespect because you weigh 270, you’re telling me that you have all these muscles just for posing?”
“Yeah, that’s right.” That’s a body builder.
God’s power is not for body building. His power is not for posing. He’s not some contest, no, no. He’s our great God. God’s muscle is purposeful. God has a mighty purpose and a plan for your life and mine. That’s a good place to clap.
I’m going to read Romans 8:28. It says, “And we know that all things…” It doesn’t say all things are good. Some things are hellacious. Some things are unfair. Some things are horrible. There are children right now all over the world dying… DYING! And some have died right after I said that sentence. There are people, great people, Godly people, who have terminal illnesses. I mean, why doesn’t God? Why doesn’t God use his power to intervene and change their lives? Why doesn’t God show up and heal? That’s a great question. Obviously we live in a fallen place. We live in a sin-stained place. The Bible is very clear there will be disease, there will be problems. Even those of us who are righteous, who are believers, we will go through difficult times. Everybody will die. That doesn’t mean we don’t pray for healing. That doesn’t mean that we don’t pray for Jesus to intervene. But many times I’ve prayed and people have died. People have not gotten better. The situation has not changed from suffering to success. Other times I prayed and I’ve seen amazing stuff happen. I don’t know. I really don’t know. I’ve going to understand God, it’s according to your purpose, and your power, and your sovereignty, and your will. That’s so, so important.
Just think, OK. Just think about this. Just go all right, God’s people, his chosen people, they were in Egyptian slavery for 400 years. God didn’t intervene during those four centuries.
Think about Jesus. All of the junk he went through? None of us will ever be tempted like he was. We’ll never be dissed like he was. We’ll never be treated like he was. Then he died? God didn’t intervene there. He could’ve and Jesus was like in the garden right beforehand. “Lord, if you can deliver me, why not use your omnipotence?” He let him die. Then obviously God advertises omnipotence by the resurrection.
Then we think about the early church, read about the early church in the book of Acts and the letters that Paul penned. There was a lot of suffering. Read Hebrews 11, Hebrews 12. Believers were sawn in two, lit up like candles, tortured. Some, Hebrews 11 says, were healed. They were saved. God intervened. Others weren’t.
So this deliverance and this healing is not all on this side. Technically yes, we’re healed when we become followers of Christ. A true healing takes place. But we are going to go through tough times. We’re going to suffer! And it’s part of walking in the will of God. So we need to understand.
God, I pray for healing. I pray for deliverance, but I give it to you. And here’s what God has promised us. God doesn’t provide an escape from suffering, he provides us a way through suffering. Whenever you take – let’s say it’s divorce, disease, depression, death – whenever you start from that and work your way up to God, you’ll have problems. You don’t start with the difficulty, you start with God. You start saying “God, I don’t understand it.” And man, God understands your anger and mine. Our “God, why?” He can take all that. “God I start with you. I believe you’re a good God. I believe you’re omnipotent and omniscient. I believe you’re the totality of who you are. You’re everywhere. You’re omnipresent. I start with you. And then I work from that into the situation.”
But remember, God sometimes intervenes. That’s why we pray for healing at Fellowship Church. That’s why we pray for deliverance. But so often God has us right where he wants us. He allows it, good things and bad things, right? He allows good things and bad things.
So let’s go back to Romans 8:28, “And we know that in all things…” Good things and bad things, unfair things, hellacious things, terrible things, terrific things. we know that God works in all things for the good. So we know that in all things God works for the good. And we know, know, know, know, know, know, that “… in all things God works for the good of those who love him and who have been called according to his purpose.”
Now, in the world today there’s a real sexy stream of theology that is non-Biblical, called the word of faith movement. It basically says that if you have enough faith you can believe God for your miracle and you can make God do what you want him to do. So wait a minute. God’s a genie now? He’s my UPS boy now? So if I believe God for a bigger house and a Bentley, if I believe God for this, if I confess it, what I want, then God has to show up because of my faith.
It sounds cool. That’s jacked up. It doesn’t hold Biblical water. The apostle Paul, three times Paul said, “Lord, heal this thorn in my flesh!” We’re talking St. Paul! I think he had enough faith. Lord, heal me, Lord! Heal me! God didn’t. Sounds cool. Sounds hip.
But faith is not some currency to make God do what you want him to do, or for me to make God do what I want him to do. I’m believing for my miracle? If God wants to show up and perform his miracle, cool! Who am I? I’m a beetle! I’m a flippin’ beetle! So we need to be very, very careful of that whenever we see that or come in contact with the word of faith, health and wealth gospel.
Now I believe once someone becomes a follower of Christ, God’s going to bless your life. What blessings look like, I don’t know. Most of the time they are ways money can’t touch, but sometimes they are financially. Yet, we put our faith and trust in God, in his sovereignty, we pray like crazy for things, but at the end of the day we’ve going to say, “God, I trust you. I want to be like your people in slavery. Trust you! I want to be like Jesus, not my will but your will. I want to be like the apostle Paul. I give the thorn to you, Lord. I want to be like the early church. I want to be like those people in Hebrews 11 and Hebrews 12.” So God’s power is always purposeful.
Let me move down to Acts 1:8, then we’ll spur the horse <neighing sound effect> to the barn. Acts 1:8, “But you’ll receive power…” There’s that word again, dunamis. Power, power, power. “…when the Holy Spirit comes in you and you’ll be my witness in…” Dallas/Fort Worth, Miami, Keller, Southlake, Plano, Park Cities, London, online.”
So we have that power, don’t we, available to us. Let me say it again. God knows what’s best for you and me. And as long as we understand that, and believe that, by faith and walk in cadence with him, he will take us through the good times and the bad times. But I just want you to say it with me that God is powerful. 1-2-3- God is powerful. Say it again. God is powerful. His power is unending. It’s, I’m talking, unlimited. It’s unbelievable. It’s unbearable. It’s unstoppable. It’s unchangeable. It’s unconquerable. It is unusual. I’m talking about God is powerful. Say it with me again. God is powerful!
But let me go back to my man the beetle. Because I have this beetle mentality. I’m going to run the show. I know what’s best for me. I want to be the power source of my life. Yeah, God, I want to be cool with you and all that but I really know what’s best. Really? I mean, how’s that working for you? Mo was on the back side of the desert (I’m talking about Moses). He has this experience with God. God goes, “Mo, I want you to go back to pharaoh’s office. My people have been in bondage for 400 years and I want you to simply look at pharaoh and say, “Hey, pharaoh, let my people go!” And Mo stuttered, he was like, “uh-uh-uh, but-uh-who am I God to d-d-do this? And who-who-who do I tell pharaoh sent me?” You know what God said?
“Tell him I Am sent you.” I am. I am. God, you’re the great I Am. Whenever I try to be the I am, it doesn’t work.
T.S. So what I’m going to ask for all of us to do here and at all of our campuses, I’m going to ask us to resign from being the power source, the beetle in our lives. So here’s the last thing I’m going to do. Everybody stand. Everybody stand. This is going to be fun. Take your right hand and place it over your heart. Lift your left hand and if you don’t want to say it you don’t have to. If you still want to run the show, great. But one day you’ll come to this. And now’s the time to do this. All right? Let’s say this together. We’ll read it together. A 1 and a 2 and a 3 –
“Today, being of a sound mind, I do hereby acknowledge that I am not God. That I have never been God and never will be God. That I am not omniscient, omnipresent, nor omnipotent. I am, therefore, not the sovereign ruler of the universe. I hereby resign from trying to control everything and everyone. Amen!”
Is that true? Please be seated. As our heads are bowed and eyes are closed…
[Ed leads in closing prayer.]