WHAT ABOUT GOD SERMON SERIES
WHERE IS HE?
JANUARY 8, 1995
You have heard Chris Berman say it about Emmitt Smith. Chris will say this: “Emmitt is all over the field. He is everywhere.” You have also heard Nick Charles say it about Dallas Maverick’s super-rookie, Jason Kidd. “Kidd is all over the court. He seems to show up wherever the ball shows up.” In situations like that we know what announcers mean when they refer to sports figures as being omnipresent. It is an acceptable form of exaggeration, a figure of speech, meaning that these guys get around. They are quick. They are mobile. They cover a lot of territory. Omnipresent.
What, though, does the Bible mean when it says that we serve an omnipresent God? Is that an exaggeration? Is that hyperbolic language or words of truth that need to be studied and grappled with concerning the nature and character of God? Over the next few weeks we are going to be talking about all of these issues in a brand new series called “What About God?” What about God? It is one of the most important series of messages that I have ever preached in this church.
Let me say something right up front to those who will be attending. I want to encourage you to make every session because your spiritual growth can be measured by your depth of understanding of the attributes of God. As far as you know God, that is how far you will go spiritually. Now a word to those of you who might be seeking Christianity. You might be investigating it, wondering if it is real. “Is God a God who is concerned about individuals like me?” This series is also paramount for you because you need to know Who it is you are seeking after, Who it is Who loves you, and Who it is you have been rebelling against.
We are talking about the omnipresence of God. If I take all the scriptures of the Bible and sum them up in one verse, I have got to read Jeremiah 23:24. God told the prophet Jeremiah these words: “I fill the heavens and I fill the earth.” When I mention the word “omnipresent,” that is kind of a difficult sounding word, isn’t it? It kind of sounds like a term that Dr. Spock would use on Star Trek. “Omnipresence, this is Captain Kirk.”
What does the word “omnipresence” mean? Omnipresence can be defined as God’s complete essence being fully present in all places at all times. God’s complete essence is fully present in all places at all times. The word “omni” means all; the word “present” means locality. To put it into modern day Metroplex vernacular, God is everywhere. Say that with me. God is everywhere. So when you hear the term “omnipresence,” remember God is everywhere. Now the omnipresence of God makes a lot of people uncomfortable. “You mean God is everywhere? You mean God saw that? You mean God was in on that transaction? Whoa.” And because the omnipresence makes us uncomfortable, we like to devise systems in order to limit God, in order to confine God.
Eleven days ago I took a group from this church over to Germany and Israel and I had the best trip of my life, seeing all the spots where Jesus walked. We toured castles, archeological digs; you name it, we did it. One of the best things of the trip, though, was when I boarded a Lufthansa flight because the Lufthansa agents were kind enough to bump some of us up from coach to business class. I had never flown business class before and I am here to tell you there is a big difference between business class and coach when you are flying 11 hours one way. I settled into my nice business class seat with some people here in the church and the flight attendant comes through the aisle and she hands all of us our very own leather kit. Is that cool or what? I open it up, it has a little toothbrush, small tube of Pepsident toothpaste, some cologne, some eye blinders, and some nice Lufthansa socks. I though I was in heaven. What a deal. Everything in a nice, neat little package.
I have tried to do that in my life with God, put Him in a package and say, “Okay, God, you’re right there. I have everything figured out; everything is cool. I will kind of walk away from you.” One of the popular boxes that man has put God in is something called “pantheism.” Pantheism says that God is a part of everything. God is grass. God is trees. God is flowers. And we are part of God. Thus if we are part of God, that means there is no way I can make mistakes and sin and separate myself from God, and I don’t really need a savior. That is pantheism. You see the omnipresence of God says that God is everywhere, not God is in everything. So pantheists try to limit God, to put Him in a nice little kit.
Also we devise a system called “deism.” Deists say, “Yeah, God got the universe rolling, He got it spinning, and then He kind of turned His attention elsewhere. I see God’s power, but there is no way I can get into God’s presence.” Pantheism and deism are responses for people being uncomfortable with the omnipresence of God.
This is a very difficult subject to grasp and get a handle on. It is kind of like air and water. If you could divide air, let’s say the air around me, the air around me has all the elements of air everywhere in the world. If I take a drop of water and put it in my palm, that drop of water has all the components of all the water on the earth, in streams, etc. If I have God around me as the Bible says, then I have all of God. In other words, I don’t have more of God in Jerusalem and less of God here, or less of God in College Station and more of God in Colleyville, I have all of God.
Now it is very tempting for me to stop and continue these thoughts and to take every single scripture verse in the Bible which refers to the omnipresence of God and dissect those scripture verses. And I could do that, and most of us would leave this place saying, “Unbelievable. We have got an omnipresent God. Sally can you believe that? Amazing theological breakthrough. I’m glad I learned that.” You would walk out, get in your cars, rush home and watch the Cowboy’s game.
But there would be one major problem. You would know about the omnipresence of God in your head, but one question would keep resounding over and over and over in your mind—“So what? Yeah, God is omnipresent, but so what? How does that effect me in my marriage? How does that effect me tomorrow in the office? How does that effect me at school or me out on a date? How?” Well, I am going to spend the lion’s share of today’s session talking about the implications of the omnipresence of God. I’m going to address the “so what” aspect of this study.
The first implication that we need to understand concerning the omnipresence of God is illustrated in the life of Moses. You remember Moses, don’t you? I am not talking about Charlton Heston, I am talking about The Moses. Moses was an interesting guy. Moses was an Israelite and miraculously he was brought up by Egyptian royalty. He was being groomed to be the next leader of Egypt. An Israelite! His people were being taken advantage of by the Egyptians. The Egyptians had them as slaves. And one day, Moses decided to kind of walk outside and see what was going on with the Egyptians and the Israelites. He saw one of the Egyptians putting the pile driver on one of the Israelites. (That is a wrestling term, WWF, for those of you who don’t watch wrestling.) And Moses, you’re talking about angry, he was so upset.
Exodus 2:12—listen very carefully to these words—“Glancing this way and that (we are talking about Moses now, the spiritual icon, the towering Biblical giant, glancing this way and that) and seeing no one (ha, ha, ha the coast is clear) he killed (that’s right I am talking about Moses the one who recorded The Ten Commandments. I am talking about Moses the one who let the children of Israel out of bondage. I am talking about our man Moses, he killed) the Egyptian and hid him in the sand.” Moses did that.
Moses was well aware in his head of the omnipresence of God, but he missed the first and most basic implication of the omnipresence of God and here it is: God is an eyewitness to every event in your life and mine. God is an eyewitness to every event in your life and mine. The coast is never clear in God’s economy. There is no such thing as a closed bedroom door, a closed locker room door, a hidden agenda, an innuendo. It is all right there for God to see.
I have a three-year-old son named EJ, and EJ loves to play hide and go seek. We play it almost daily, and he hides in the same place, the same way. He will stand by a piece of furniture in our dining room and cover his eyes. “OK, Daddy, find me.” And I walk through the house. “Where is EJ? Where is EJ?” I see the family dog, “Dominique, where is EJ?” I’ll walk around and finally say, “Ah, there is EJ. I couldn’t see you!” EJ thinks in his three-year-old brain that because he can’t see me, I can’t see him.
Well, I have done the same thing before with God. I have thought, I will look to the left, I will look to the right, no one is looking, I can’t see God, so hey, I can do this and no one will know about it. I can talk to my spouse this way behind closed doors and no one can see. I can take company supplies and no one will really know. I can walk into this establishment and no one really sees me doing that. The Bible, though, says, the omnipresent God, the all-present God is watching. He is looking. He is waiting for us to act.
He does it because we matter to Him. He does it because He loves you. He loves me. And He loves us so much, He couldn’t stand or entertain the thought of living in a removed sense. He had to be involved in our lives. That is why the Bible tells us in Psalm 139:7-8, “Where can I go from Your spirit, where can I flee from Your presence. If I go up to the heavens You are there. If I make my bed in the depths, You are there.” God does not hover over us like a police chopper, trying to see when we blow it. He doesn’t do that. He does it because of His love. The closer I get to God the more I thank Him for His omnipresence. Because God’s omnipresence, His eyewitness-like mentality in our lives, forces us into accountability. Think about it. There is no way I can get away from Him, so I am accountable. And that is why we should live holy and pure lives before God. We are never alone and He watches every single thing we do. Every conversation, every movie, every thought is right there before His eyes.
I Corinthians 6:19. The Apostle Paul writes this: “Your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit…” That means our bodies, if we know Christ personally, are a temple of the Holy Spirit of God. In other words, wherever you go, God goes. And Paul is talking here about sexual immorality. The verse continues, “…who is in you and whom you have received from God. You are not your own.” The Bible is saying if we commit sexual sin outside the marriage bed that we have engaged God in the affair. You’re talking about something heavy. If we have committed sexual sin, we have engaged even God in the affair. It is like we are doing it right there in the throne room, whatever sin, whatever mistake, whatever rebellion, right there before a Holy God. I don’t know about you, but that kind of motivates me. It tells me how much God loves me. That He holds me accountable in every situation. God is an eyewitness to every event.
Also, He is the comforter in difficult times. The second implication of God’s omnipresence—Psalm 34:18 says this: “Our Lord is near to the brokenhearted.” Have you ever been brokenhearted before? Man, I have. What a great word about the omnipresence of God. Not only is He an eyewitness, but He is near to the brokenhearted. He is a comforter during difficult times. Our Lord is near to the brokenhearted, He is close to those who are crushed in spirit. You see there is a detective aspect to God’s omnipresence and also a protective aspect of God’s omnipresence. If I am brokenhearted, if I am crushed in spirit, God is there.
Remember, though, God is equally present everywhere; but He is not equally related to everyone and everything. If I am outside the family of God, I cannot get in on God’s comforting nature like someone who knows Christ personally. And frankly, I don’t see how anyone makes it in this world without knowing God personally, without getting in on the omnipresence. They would have to take me off to the Ha-Ha house after about a week if I didn’t know Christ personally. But He is a comforter.
There is a man in the Bible, a true power man by the name of Elisha. And Elisha one day slept late and his servant wakes up to get him a cup of cappuccino or something and he looks outside and he sees that the building is surrounded by the Syrian army. And the servant is freaking out. “Oh, no, Elisha wake up. Get up. You won’t believe it. There is an army out there. I see their armor shining in the sunlight. Oh, no, it’s curtains. They will mutilate us. They’ll kill us.” Elisha says, “Chill. Calm down. Take a relax pill.” And the Bible says Elisha prayed and Elisha said this in his prayer, “God, open my servant’s eyes the way You see this situation.” And suddenly the scales fell off the servant’s eyes and he saw an army of angels surrounding the building and then he felt the confidence, the comfort of the Lord. Right there in every situation.
The twenty-third Psalm, in fact the most popular Psalm, you know “The Lord is my Shepherd.” Listen to what the Psalmist wrote: “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death….” The statistics are staggering. One out of one people die. So all of us are going to experience death—all of us, everyone of us. And oftentimes it can be someone close to us, a loved one, a family member. See that word “through”? I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, David said, “I fear no evil….” Why? How could he say that, “I fear no evil.” “Because Thou art with me.” Because Thou art with me.
About six days ago I was in the valley of the shadow of death in Israel. Our guide told us that we were looking at the valley referred to in that Psalm. Talk about a serious valley, I mean we are talking straight down. I have never been to the Grand Canyon, but surely it can’t be any more imposing than this. And we looked at this and we thought, that is what David is talking about in the twenty-third Psalm. “I walk through this valley of the shadow of death.”
An encouraging word to you and to me. When we walk through a valley, a dark time, a depressing time, we are not walking alone. And we should allow the Lord to comfort us. He is waiting to comfort us. He is everywhere and that is why we should come clean in regard to our sin. You know, when you confess your sin to God and say “God, hey, forgive me for lying,” God is not going to respond, “Oh I didn’t know you lied, unbelievable. You mean you lied, Ed? Wow! That’s a new one on me. Thanks for telling Me.” He doesn’t do that. God knows it. All we are doing when we confess our sins to God, is saying “God, hey, I am agreeing with what You already know. I blew it. I confess my sin; I turn from my sin and realize Your comforting grace.
A couple of years ago the staff gave Lisa and I a comforter for our king size bed. We love this comforter. It is a down comforter. And it comforts us when it gets cold. It is cozy. It is warm. And it has a great feeling to it. You take that feeling and you multiply that to the trillionth power and that is the comforting nature of God, the omnipresence of God, that He wants to fulfill in your life, if you will let Him. So picture God with a giant comforter saying, “Here is My grace. Here is My power. Here is My peace that surpasses all understanding even when you are going through the deep, dark valley, I am here. I am right here.” There is a comforting aspect.
Another implication of the omnipresence of God, He is a companion in every situation. Turn to John 14 and I will read verses 16 and 17. While you are turning to this scripture reference, let me again make reference to my Israel trip. Once we touched our feet on the soil of Israel, we were met by a 31-year-old guide by the name of Elan. And Elan, you’re talking about a companion in every situation, he went with us to every place from Tel Aviv to Tiberius, the Sea of Galilee, the Dead Sea, Masada, the Garden Tomb. He even played basketball one night with us on the streets of Jerusalem. The man was a companion. He spoke three different languages. And I always felt confident and safe because he was a companion. He watched for the group, he made sure we were together at every meal, at every turn. At every place it was really crowded he watched for the pickpockets. He was right there. You know, when I face a challenge, I don’t want to face it alone, do you? There is something about having someone there, even if the person can’t really help. You want to have someone with you, a buddy. At least this person is there with me to give me moral support. Think of the support that we have with Jesus.
That is why Jesus told us in John 14:16, “And He will give you a Counselor to be with you forever, the spirit of truth. The world cannot accept Him because it neither sees Him nor knows Him.” Now oftentimes we say that we can’t see God. Just because you can’t see something doesn’t mean you can’t experience it. For example, this morning, was it kind of cool when you got up? Did anyone see the cold air? “Hey, there it is. Here is some cold air.” “Wow, that is cold, Ed.” No, you don’t see it but you experience it. I have never seen God or Jesus or the Holy Spirit, but I experience them. The Bible says that the world cannot accept Him because it neither sees Him nor knows Him, “but you know Him for He lives with you and will be in you.” He lives with you and will be in you.
I want to say something that might shock you, but listen closely. If Jesus were living on this earth right now in the flesh, if Jesus was right here in the flesh right now, all of us here would live miserable, incomplete, defeated lives. Do you know why? Because when Jesus lived on the earth He was fully God and fully man, but He voluntarily limited His deity to His humanity. He was limited by time and space. He couldn’t be everywhere at once. And that would pose a problem if He were here in the flesh because, you know, when I need Jesus in Dallas I don’t want to hear that He is tied up in Colleyville. When I need Jesus in LA, I don’t want to hear He is kind of jammed over in Russia or over in China or over in Outer Borneo. I don’t want to hear about that. I want Him now. And He said in John 14:16-17, “I will go and prepare a place for you and I am sending you a comforter, a counselor and that is the Holy Spirit.” That is the person who is here with us. So all you have got to do, folks, is just turn because God is right there with His arms outstretched.
You know you can’t say, “I don’t feel my prayers are getting any higher than the ceiling.” They don’t have to because God is right there waiting and watching. He lives with you and will be in you. You see, that option is up to you, for Him to be either in you or not. He is everywhere, but you have got to say, “Okay, I accept that. I receive that or I don’t.”
The omnipresence of God. It is the first question that we have answered and grappled with and sought after concerning “What About God.” God is everywhere. I will say it again. God is everywhere. I will say it one more time. God is everywhere. When are we going to start living like it?