WHAT ABOUT GOD SERMON SERIES
WHAT CAN HE DO?
JANUARY 22, 1995
You know, all of us are concerned at one level or another about the issue of power. This past November we saw political power. This generation has come in contact with the power of atomic energy. We have also viewed the power of nature in fire, flood, and most recently, earthquakes. Last Sunday afternoon at 3:00pm we saw the power of the San Francisco 49ers, didn’t we?
I am in my last week of a series called “What About God?” We have learned in this series that there is no place in which God does not exist. That is His omnipresence. We have also learned that there is nothing that God does not know. That is His omniscience. Today we are going to find out there is nothing that God cannot do. That is His omnipotence. Omnipotence. “Omni” means all; “potence” has to do with power. God is all powerful. Our God, the Bible claims, is all powerful.
Recently I was standing in my driveway at night and I was noticing how the spotlights were hitting the driveway and the kid’s basketball goal. Suddenly out of the corner of my eye I see something dark emerge from the grass and begin to crawl across my driveway. I look and there in my eyesight is a big, bad, gargantuan emperor beetle. And this beetle, talk about tough, you could see his triceps and biceps flex as his little feet hit the pavement. And this beetle was walking with an attitude. “This is my driveway and this is my yard and I am going to walk where I please.” So I stand in the beetle’s path and get down face-to-face with him and he kept on coming. He didn’t bear to the left, to the right. He just kept right after me. I though, “You know what, this little beetle doesn’t know who he is messing with.” He doesn’t know how powerful I am. You see I am a human being; he is just a little beetle. But in his little beetle-like brain he thought, “I am going to forge my own path, I am going to do my own thing.” The beetle didn’t realize who he was messing with. Oftentimes I have come face-to-face with God. So have you. And we have looked into the eyes of God and because we have a couple of letters after our name, because we have this degree or that degree, we think we know what true power is. Yet we underestimate the omnipotence of God. I have done it before. And if you are honest with yourself, so have you. “Is God really that powerful?” we say to ourselves. Two Old Testament icons forgot the same thing. Jeremiah, one afternoon, was singing the blues. I am talking about he had a bad time happening in his life. He found himself imprisoned, people were joking about him, making fun of him, he was feeling way, way, way low. And he began to doubt the omnipotence of God. Suddenly God interjects these words in Jeremiah 32:17, “Behold, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh. Is anything too difficult for Me?” God was saying, “Hey J-man, you think just because I haven’t rescued you from prison that I have lost my punch, that My omnipotence isn’t quite as powerful as it used to be? Come on J-man. Remember nothing is too difficult for Me.”
Job. Had a bad day, a bad week, a bad month, a bad year, a bad section of his life. And he began to doubt the omnipotence of God. And God does something else to communicate His omnipotence to him. He kind of plays the game of Not So Trivial Pursuit with Job. God says, “Job, category, history. Where were you, Job, when I laid the foundations of the earth? Next category, Job. Sports and Leisure. Job, have you ever on a Sunday afternoon kind of just played with lightening bolts?” This game God is playing is covered in three whole chapters of the book of Job. Finally, Job says, “I know, God, that You can do all things,” Job 42:2. Job probably thought that God gets a little bit sensitive when a person doubts His omnipotence. We forget, though, about the omnipotence of God.
I want to share with you four power-packed principles concerning the omnipotence of God that you should never forget, that I should never forget. We go through large blocks of time in our lives when we feel weak, when we feel powerless, when we feel downtrodden and we need the energizing power of God in situations, in attitudes and in relationships. Four power-packed principles regarding the omnipotence of God you need to never, ever forget.
Power-packed principle number one: God’s power is unlimited. I’ll say it again. God’s power is unlimited. David said it best in Psalm 62:11, “Power belongs to God.” David was talking about unrestrained, indescribable, infinite power. He is not just talking about raw power. He is talking about true power. It takes no more energy for God to create a universe than it does for him to create a mosquito. God’s power is unlimited. How much power does it take to speak a creation into being, to scatter stars in the sky, to stack mountains 20,000 feet in the air, to fill oceans, to separate the light from the dark? How much power does that take? Again, though, autonomous man, beetle-brained man has a tough time getting a handle on the omnipotence of God. We have a tough time even understanding that God’s power is unlimited because we measure everything by our little humanistic, finite standards.
For example, I’m going to tell you something right now I have never told an audience in my life. This is a true confession. I want to have all of your attention. I, that’s right, Pastor Ed Young, 33 years of age, 6’2”, 180 pounds, I can bench press 3,500 pounds. I’m not laughing. Secondly, I have a vertical jump of 70 inches. Thirdly, I can hit a sandwedge 800 yards. How many of you believe those claims. No one? Guess what. All of you are wrong. I am right and you are wrong. You are too limited. You are thinking about earth. All I have to do for you to see those feats is to jump aboard a space ship and get dropped off on the moon. You turn the television on, CNN, and there is Pastor Ed Young. Wow. Thirty-five hundred pounds he is bench pressing. He is making a 70-inch vertical jump. Look at him, in a space suit to boot. Look at him. And is that a sandwedge? Swish. One handed.
You see. You forgot something. The laws of gravity are different on the moon than they are on the earth. Things change. Why? Because I am in a different realm, a different zone, another level. That kind of gives us just an inkling of the power, the unlimited, the omnipotent power of God. He is infinite. He is on another level. So when we go into these things and we study the attributes of God, we have got to think about Him in terms that we cannot describe. We really can’t. It is important to realize God’s power is unlimited.
But there is a second power-packed principle: God’s power is purposeful. God’s power is purposeful. I have some good friends who are bodybuilders. And I admire anyone who is a bodybuilder because it takes discipline to diet, to exercise. They spend hours and hours and hours training. It is a true lifestyle. If you ever engage a bodybuilder in conversation, though, here is what they will answer if you ask them what they do with their muscles. “Well, I am a bodybuilder, Ed, and I train and I lift large amounts of weight and I watch my diet meticulously and I do all these things to win body building contests.” “How do you win a contest?” “Well, what you do is put oil on your body, shave your arms and legs and pose to music and you have got to have smooth transitions to the music and in the end, Ed, if you win in your weight class, you have a pose down. You compare your muscles to others.” But I ask, “What do you use your muscles for?” The answer. “For posing.”
God never uses His omnipotence just to pose. He is not the cosmic bodybuilder trying to show you this and show you that just for grins. God’s power always has a purpose. And you can never detach—listen to me—you can never detach God’s omnipotence from His sovereignty. With God it is never a question of His power, it is a question of matching His power with His will. That is why the Lord said the night before He was crucified, “Not what I will but what You will.” God’s will. And we have to keep that in the forefront of our mind when we contemplate God’s omnipotence.
Parents, we can identify with this. Oftentimes, your children want something. Almost all the time, right? Oftentimes, you decide in your power not to do a certain thing. You will not to do a certain thing because you know what is best for them. Yet they still cry, they whine, they complain, they frown and they speak a language (I just made this up) called “whineese.” But you choose not to do something because you have that kind of power. You know what is best for them.
God does the same thing in our lives. He is omnipotent. It is never a question, never, of His power. But it is a question of matching His power with His will. Power with His sovereignty. And He chooses to do certain things and not to do certain things for His children because, remember, He knows what’s best. Don’t forget it. God’s power is purposeful. I think that the fact that God’s power is unlimited and God’s power is purposeful deserves a kind of ovation. Just for a couple of seconds. All right, God, thank you. That deserves a hand. God is omnipotent, unlimited, purposeful power.
But I want to tell you something else for the remainder of this message that should cause all of us to give God a quick standing ovation. Let’s quickly just stand up, and for two seconds, let’s give God a standing ovation. Ready? Thank you. Thank you very much. Some of you are saying, “Why in the world did Ed do that in church?” I’ll tell you why. Not only is God all powerful but God has made the sovereign choice to share His power with weak individuals like you and like me. And He doesn’t just want to share it, He is anxious to give it to us. He can’t wait to see us use it. He can’t wait to watch and see it change and revolutionize our lives. God’s power is unlimited. He wants to give it to you and to me. And that brings us to the third power packed principle, deserving of the standing ovation principle.
God’s power is available. Principle number three: God’s power is available. The Bible tells us that it is available. Isaiah 40:28-31, one of the best texts in the Bible. Isaiah says, “Did 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 and His understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. But those who hope upon the Lord will renew their strength (and check this out) they will soar on wings like eagles, they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”
God offers His power to you and to me. And I have heard pastors and I have heard teachers say this: “God is omnipotent. He wants to share His power with you. His power will change your life.” And I have thought, that’s true. I have seen it in the Bible and I have taken notes on it. I have gone to seminary and done some doctrinal work and things like that but I am saying to myself, “God, You are omnipotent, I believe that but I don’t know how much that omnipotence finds it’s way to earth in my life.” How about you? Have you ever thought that? “Where is Your power, God. I need it in this situation, God.”
What is the problem? Many of us feel like we are victims of circumstances. Maybe someone has passed over you and promoted another person instead of you and you deserved it. Maybe you have lost that client. Or maybe you have lost a job. Maybe you are having severe marital problems at this moment. You feel like you are a victim. “I’m a victim, God. I’m a victim. I kind of feel like Jeremiah. I kind of feel like Job. You have kind of forgotten about me.” We also can feel like we are victims of character flaws, behavioral patterns that we want to change, maybe something that never quite worked. And we get so made at ourselves.
During the holidays you watch those Solaflex commercials and you think to yourself, I am going to look like that man or that woman. I am going to get serious about it. And so you go out and you join that health club, you subscribe to those fitness magazines, you even buy a juicer. And you have all the work-out paraphernalia and now, the 22nd of January, you have forgotten where the health club is. You have cancelled your subscriptions to the fitness magazines. You use the juicer now as a trolling motor behind your bass boat and you don’t know where your work-out clothes are anymore. You kick yourself and you hate yourself because it never seems to work. It never seems to work.
Again we are back to this equation. God is omnipotent. The Bible says, Isaiah 40, He wants to share His omnipotence with you and with me. What is the breakdown, what is the missing link, what is the problem? Here it is. Are you ready? Faith. Faith. Faith. Faith is the missing link that keeps God’s omnipotence from being released in our lives. Faith.
What is faith? Faith is acting like it is, even though it isn’t, so in order that it can be so. Acting like it is so, even though it isn’t so, in order that it can be so. As I read the Bible I am blown away time after time after time by the fact that the power of God is not released until someone takes that spiritual risk, until someone takes that step of faith, then they are energized with the power.
Moses—Exodus Chapter 14—he led the children of Israel out of bondage. Hundreds of thousands of people following him. There was a visible manifestation of God, a cloud that they followed. They were walking along, Moses leading the pack, and suddenly this cloud was pointing them toward The Red Sea. And I am sure that Moses is thinking, “What, God? The Red Sea?” What if you were about tenth in line? You would be wondering, “What is he going to do next?” And Moses was probably looking around, and not finding any jet skis, wondered how they were going to cross that sea. The Egyptians are following closely behind and they are mad and tough and mean and bad. The Bible says in Exodus 14 that God told them to move out, to wade in the water. And Moses puts his size thirteen (I’m guessing now) sandal in the water and The Red Sea kind of laps up on his toes and suddenly as he takes that step of faith, as he acts like he is empowered, what happened? The waters are separated and the children of Israel cross.
Joshua, Chapter 3. In a similar scenario, he was leading some people and he sees the swollen Jordan River. I know the Jordan River well because I baptized in the Jordan and the waters are frigid, let me tell you…COLD. Joshua walked to the banks and God said, “Joshua, you and the people wade in the water, put your feet in the water.” And they did. They acted empowered. They acted courageous. Then God performed a miracle and they went after it and they crossed, miraculously, the Jordan River. You see a step of faith is taken before the power of God is unleashed. The power of God is available.
The fourth principle is this: The power of God is transformational. The power of God is transformational. Yes, great that I need faith and I understand faith and the definition of faith, but how does this work in my life. How can this help a weak man or weak woman like me? Remember God’s power is transformational. The Bible says in Ephesians 6:10, “Be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might.” The Bible also says in Hebrews 11:1, “Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” Hebrews 11:6, “Without faith it is impossible to please God.” 2 Peter 1:3, “His divine power has given us everything we need for life.” God’s power, though, is often withheld until we take a step of faith.
Let me explain. This is an example that men can relate to. You are coming home from work, in the car. Driving along you feel low because it was a terrible, no good, horrible, bad day. Everything has gone wrong and you know once your tires touch the driveway that your wife will want to talk to you. Women do a much better job communicating their feelings than men. But you don’t want to talk; you don’t want to hear it. You know the kids will be asking you to play games with them, but you don’t feel like it. You want to collapse and fall into that La-Z-boy, to watch Real Cops, to watch David Letterman and just relax and veg. Have you ever felt that way before? I have.
The Bible says we have a choice to make here. The Bible says that we—Isaiah 40:28-13—should soar on wings like eagles. “But, God, I feel like a wounded duck. God, I feel like an injured quail. I don’t feel like some eagle.” We have a choice to make. We can either act the way we are feeling or we decide to obey Isaiah 40, to never ever to forget that God’s power is unlimited, that God’s power is purposeful, that God’s power is available, that God’s power is transformational. We decide to be like Moses and Joshua and we make a choice to take a step of faith and to act happy, to act positive, to act like we want to communicate with our wives, to act like we want to play Nintendo even when we don’t. That is a step of faith. Acting like it is so even though it isn’t so in order that it can be so. And I am going to tell you something. You take that step of faith, man, you take that step of faith, woman, and watch the power of God energize you. Then you will begin to love what you are doing.
This past week I had a conversation with Pastor Owen Goff. And Owen Goff, of all the people I have ever known in my life, is the best servant as defined in the Bible. Talk about a selfless person, you get to know Pastor Owen Goff. And I said “Owen, I want you to be straight with me, I want to ask you something. When you see an opportunity to serve someone or when someone asks you to do something, do you ever way down deep say, ‘I just don’t feel like serving.’”
Now it took Owen a while to come up with this because I don’t think he thinks about it very much but he said, “Ah, yes, once or twice.” So I asked him what he did when that happened. He answered that when he feels like he doesn’t want to do something for someone, he just says, “Well I know I have this gift; I know God wants me to be selfless,” and I begin to act like a selfless person and then I begin to enjoy the activity.
Maybe you are a self-centered person. Surely we don’t have any self-centered persons here do we? And a situation happens and you want to be self-centered. You want to position yourself. You want to say the good things, to drop those names, to kind of flash this or do that. When you have those feelings coming on, remember, God’s power is unlimited. God’s power is purposeful. God’s power is available. God’s power is transformational. “I am going to take a step of faith and I am going to act selfless, I am going to act humble.” And watch the humility happen.
Maybe you say, well I am just not a peaceful person. I like conflict. You know you have conflict with a certain individual. You hate to make eye contact with this person in the grocery store. You kind of speed by their house. You use liquid paper to white out their name from your Rolodex or whatever you use. You know you have something to deal with, but you believe that you don’t have the courage or strength or the peace to do it. Take a step of faith. Act like you want to and watch the power of God take over.
People want to be generous. Act generous. Take a step of faith and give a generous gift to the church and then watch the generosity happen. Or maybe self-discipline. The most self-disciplined people I know are not people who have more discipline that I do or you do, it is just that they act disciplined and then God, by His grace, gives them the discipline.
The omnipotence of God. God is all powerful. He is all powerful. I will conclude this message like I have concluded the other two. When are we going to live like it? When are we going to live like it?