The author inserts personal comments when quoting Scripture which are indicated by square brackets. All biblical references are quoted from the New King James Version unless otherwise noted.
Take your Bibles and turn to Psalm 111. This is the third in our series of who God is. We started with the greatness of God and moved to the sovereignty of God. Today we will look at the power of God in Psalm 111. This is a psalm of praise. “Praise the Lord” is hallelujah in any language.
Praise the LORD! I will praise the LORD with my whole heart, in the assembly of the upright and in the congregation. The works of the LORD are great, studied by all who have pleasure in them. His work is honorable and glorious, and His righteousness endures forever. He has made His wonderful works to be remembered; the LORD is gracious and full of compassion. He has given food to those who fear Him; He will ever be mindful of His covenant. He has declared to His people the power of His works, in giving them the heritage of the nations. The works of His hands are verity and justice; all His precepts are sure. They stand fast forever and ever, and are done in truth and uprightness. He has sent redemption to His people; He has commanded His covenant forever: holy and awesome is His name. The fear of the LORD [which by the way is our next subject in this series] is the beginning of wisdom; a good understanding have all those who do His commandments. His praise endures forever. (Psalm 111:1–6)
Verse 6 is the key. He has declared to His people the power of His works, the power of God.
Let’s look to the Lord in a moment of prayer.
Father, we thank You so much for the Bible and that we can study it and learn about You. And as we focus on the power of God, God I pray that You would help us to understand that our God can do miracles. So many of us have questioned and doubted what You can do, maybe because we have not seen what we wanted to see in our lives. But God, I pray that You would open up our hearts and expand our perspective of what You are doing. And give us a heart to believe You and trust You and to know that Your power is great. We thank You in Jesus’ name, Amen.
There are really two concepts that I want you to understand about the power of God. One is that His power is unique. Now there are a lot of ways in which God does things that are, frankly, similar to what man does. But when we speak of the uniqueness of the power of God, what we mean is that God can do what no one else can do.
The second principle that we want you to leave with today is not only that His power is unique, but that His power is unlimited—that there is nothing too hard for Him to do. I do not know what you think about this, but I think a lot of us have reasons why we are doubting what God can do. Maybe you have wanted God to do something in your life. You prayed about it and it did not happen. People often focus on the power of God in a way that man, in technologically advanced areas, can do the same thing. So we begin to question the power of God. We want to look at the uniqueness of God’s power and the fact that it is unlimited. There is not anything that He cannot do.
Let’s start by going to Psalm 71, as we look at the uniqueness of the power of God. His power is unique. The simple statement: no one can do what God can do. And we want to give you three examples of that. In Psalm 71:19 it says, “Also Your righteousness, O God, is very high, You who have done great things; O God, who is like You?
Obviously, no one is like God. No one can do what He does.
Look at Psalm 77:13–14,
Your way, O God, is in the sanctuary; who is so great a God as our God? [Obviously, no one.] You are the God who does wonders; you have declared Your strength among the peoples.
And yet there is also a corollary truth there that we need to understand. God has declared or shown His power among the people. But is it not also true that among the people of God, we also see evidence as to why we do not believe the power of God? We need to remember that. Sometimes, all of life appears to be contradictory to what we say we believe. We believe that God can do anything; that He is unique and no one can do what He can do. And yet the fact is that a lot of Christians live their lives without ever seeing any demonstration of the power of God—at least if it is operating, they do not understand it. They do not perceive it to be the power of God and so they wonder sometimes. It is like they go to church and they hear these things and know they should believe them, but they have not seen it in their own lives. So, do they really believe it that God’s power is unique?
And I want to give you just three cases. First of all, let’s take creation. Go to Isaiah 44, please. Let’s take a look at creation to see that God is unique. No one can do what God can do. When was the last time you made a mountain? Or how about a galaxy? When was the last time you put together an ocean?
Hey, we were just on a Caribbean cruise. I did not know those Virgin Islands were a thousand miles from Miami, Florida. I did not know the boat trip would take two days. I woke up the first day (after a rough night) because we had some big, heavy swells and all that. And I woke up the first morning, pulled back the curtains and looked out my window. And what was there? Water, nothing else. Water. Next morning, same thing. Opened up the windows, water. Hey, you know, there is a lot of water in the world! Amen? But you know that vast amount of water is a testimony to the remarkable power of God!
On a clear night, (I usually tell folks from other states, that we in Southern California do not trust air that we cannot see) you know when the air is clear, on a beautiful clear day and especially a clear night, isn’t it fabulous what we see? We look at the stars that just fill the heavens. Hey, our God is unique. There is no one who can do what He can do. The creation sometimes seems so far removed from us. God exhorts us to look at it all the time, so you will not forget what He can do.
What do you do when you are in a traffic jam in the morning going to work? I mean, I always think that what God is teaching me is patience. I do not really often think about the beauty of the creation. I have a real problem with traffic. I am not sure it is a part of the plan of God. You understand? I sometimes think of all the things that I should be doing right then. Well listen, just look out the window and look at what is around—smell the roses. Look at the mountains and look at the stars. Realize that God can do what no one else can do.
In Isaiah 44:24, the case is presented to us.
Thus says the LORD, your Redeemer, and He who formed you from the womb: “I am the LORD, who makes all things, Who stretches out the heavens all alone, [No one else helped Him.] Who spreads abroad the earth by Myself.”
The uniqueness of God. No one can do what He can do and no one helped Him do it.
“I am the LORD, and there is no other; there is no God besides Me. I will gird you, though you have not known Me. That they may know from the rising of the sun to its setting that there is none besides Me. I am the LORD, and there is no other; I form the light and create darkness, I make peace and create calamity; I, the LORD, do all these things.” For thus says the LORD, Who created the heavens, Who is God, Who formed the earth and made it, Who has established it, Who did not create it in vain, Who formed it to be inhabited: “I am the LORD, and there is no other.”
On and on it goes and God says, “There isn’t anybody like Me. Who did you think would be compared with Me? Look at creation.” And you should understand that the power of God is unique. No one can do what He can do.
Let me give you a second line of thought. Turn back to Isaiah 44 which not only speaks of His creation, but of His control of time, events, and circumstances. In our previous message on the sovereignty of God, we mentioned this point and I want you to see it now in the light of His power. In Isaiah 44:6, God speaks about His power in controlling time, events, and circumstances in our lives.
Thus says the LORD, the King of Israel, and his Redeemer, the LORD of hosts: “I am the First and I am the last; besides Me there is no God. [His uniqueness again] And who can proclaim as I do? [Can you do that? Can you say something is going to happen and it happens?] Then let him declare it and set it in order for Me, [You think you can do it? Go ahead and do it.] since I appointed the ancient people. And the things that are coming and shall come, let them show these to them. Do not fear, nor be afraid; have I not told you from that time, and declared it? [Haven’t I mapped it all out?] You are My witnesses. Is there a God besides Me? Indeed there is no other Rock; I know not one.” (Isaiah 44:6–8)
Folks, you know one of the greatest proofs or evidences of the Bible being the unique and supernatural book that it is, is the fact that we see fulfilled prophecy in its pages. Not just unfulfilled things that are yet to come; but we have prophecies that we can prove historically, when they were written. And there are prophecies that predict nations, their rise and their fall, and it has already happened in history. And we know the Bible was written before the things that were prophesied happened. Fulfilled prophecy is an enormous testimony to the inerrancy and inspiration of this Book.
But God is saying, “Listen, it takes My power to do that. You think you can do it, then go ahead and do it. Map out the next one hundred years. Let’s see if everything comes to pass just like you predicted.” God controls it all. His power is being demonstrated.
Look at Isaiah 46:5.
To whom will you liken Me, and make Me equal and compare Me, that we should be alike? [Obviously you can’t do it with anyone.] Remember the former things of old, for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like Me, Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times things that are not yet done, saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will do all My pleasure,’ Calling a bird of prey from the east, the man who executes My counsel, from a far country. Indeed I have spoken it; I will also bring it to pass. I have purposed it; I will also do it. (Isaiah 46:5, 9–11)
Hey, that sounds to me like He is in charge. Amen? You want to know about the power of God? Then see it in creation and see it in His control of all time, events, and circumstances throughout history.
But let me give you another idea to bring it closer to home. You can see the uniqueness of the power of God in the care of His people. Look at Isaiah 43, in particular the people of Israel. They have gone through a lot and God has taken care of them and fulfilled many promises to them and He will fulfill a lot more. In Isaiah 43 I read these wonderful words in the opening thirteen verses about the care of God for His people, and that no one could have done it like He did. It says,
But now, thus says the LORD, who created you, O Jacob, and He who formed you, O Israel: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name; you are Mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; And through the rivers, they shall not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, Nor shall the flame scorch you. For I am the LORD your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior; I gave Egypt for your ransom, Ethiopia and Seba in your place. Since you were precious in My sight, you have been honored, And I have loved you; Therefore I will give men for you, and people for your life. Fear not, for I am with you; I will bring your descendants from the east, and gather you from the west; I will say to the north, ‘Give them up!’ And to the south, ‘Do not keep them back!’ Bring My sons from afar, and My daughters from the ends of the earth–Everyone who is called by My name, whom I have created for My glory; I have formed him, yes, I have made him.” Bring out the blind people who have eyes, and the deaf who have ears. Let all the nations be gathered together, And let the people be assembled. Who among them can declare this, And show us former things? Let them bring out their witnesses, that they may be justified; or let them hear and say, “It is truth. You are My witnesses,” says the LORD, “And My servant whom I have chosen, that you may know and believe Me, And understand that I am He. Before Me there was no God formed, Nor shall there be after Me. I, even I, am the LORD, and besides Me there is no savior. I have declared and saved, I have proclaimed, And there was no foreign god among you; Therefore you are My witnesses,” says the LORD, “that I am God. Indeed before the day was, I am He; And there is no one who can deliver out of My hand; I work, and who will reverse it?” (Isaiah 43:1–13)
Now that is “a statement” from God. What He is saying to His people is, “Look, I’ve done this all for you. And I am predicting many wonderful things in the future. And though you go into captivity, I’ll bring you back from every part of the globe. I am going to do it all. I love you. I’ll take care of you. No matter what trouble you’re in. No matter how the rivers may overflow you or the fire may scorch you, I’ll be there and I’ll take care of you. Why? Because there is no God like Me.”
The uniqueness of our God, His power is unique.
But the second principle I want you to see and one we want to spend some time with, is that His power is unlimited. There is nothing too hard for God to do. Turn to Psalm 145 please. Not only is His power so unique that no one can do what God can do, but His power is unlimited. There is nothing too hard for Him to do. In Psalm 145, look at the opening verses.
I will extol You, my God, O King; and I will bless Your name forever and ever. Every day I will bless You, and I will praise Your name forever and ever. Great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised; and His greatness is unsearchable. One generation shall praise Your works to another, and shall declare Your mighty acts. I will meditate on the glorious splendor of Your majesty, and on Your wondrous works. Men shall speak of the might of Your awesome acts, and I will declare Your greatness. [Now look down at verse 10.] All Your works shall praise You, O LORD, and Your saints shall bless You. They shall speak of the glory of Your kingdom, and talk of Your power, To make known to the sons of men His mighty acts, and the glorious majesty of His kingdom. Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and Your dominion endures throughout all generations. (Psalm 145:1–13)
They shall talk of what?—Your powerful acts. They shall talk of Your power. God’s power is unlimited. There is nothing too hard for Him to do. And let me give you just four ways in which you can see the unlimited power of God.
1) In the very first book of the Bible, after the story of creation, it is emphasized in the miraculous birth of a boy named Isaac. Turn to Genesis 18 again. God brings His enormous power of creation down to the human level and shows us what He can do in our lives and our experiences. The power of God is unlimited. It was emphasized in the miraculous birth of Isaac, a boy born to Abraham and Sarah in their old age. They were told they were going to have a child when Sarah was eighty-nine and Abraham was ninety-nine. “Abraham and Sarah were old, well advanced in age; and Sarah had passed the age of childbearing” (Genesis 18:11).
You know, every time I read this story—as many of you know it is one of my favorite stories—I get a lot of humor rolling. I will try to be cool on it, but understand that it is funny to me in a lot of areas. One of the funniest things I thought about is the first time I ever got a hold of this story, I know God said they were old, well advanced in age. And when I first started a church there was a couple in the church who was, in my opinion, very old. You know what scares me? I am now older than they were at the time. So when you say old person, you have got to kind of evaluate it. But I guess when you get to be 90 and 100 we can say old, okay?
Now it says,
Therefore Sarah laughed within herself, saying, “After I have grown old, shall I have pleasure, my lord being old also?” [I mean, take a look at him, he’s no spring chicken.] And the LORD said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh, saying, ‘Shall I surely bear a child, since I am old?’” [Would God not say to you, “Why did you think that I could not undo what is troubling you?” The Lord said] “Is anything too hard for the LORD?” (Genesis 18:12–14)
You know, sometimes I think when we read the Bible we do not read it carefully. It is almost like we think Abraham said, “Is anything too hard for the Lord?” It was the Lord who said that. I wonder how you would respond if the Lord came right up to you and looked you straight in the eyes and said, “Is there anything too hard for Me to do?” You see, we can talk about the unlimited power of God, that there is nothing too hard for Him to do; but the fact is that a lot of us question His power—especially in a crisis or a difficult time. When we need help and it does not seem to be forthcoming, and we have prayed and there has been no answer. Where is the power of God? And God would look you straight in the eye and say, “Is there anything too hard for Me to do? Is that what you think?”
We see the unlimited power of God early in the history of the Bible. In the history of the world, for that matter, it was emphasized in the miraculous birth of that child named, Isaac. Isaac in Hebrew means “laughter”. This was God’s little joke on them for laughing at His power. You can imagine what the kid had to say when he went to school. I like to think they asked him, “How old are your parents?” “Well, dad is about 110.” Can you imagine the embarrassment when everybody cracked-up laughing every time they looked at the kid. That is what his name means. “Why did they call you laughter?” “Well, you should see my dad…”
2) We are talking about the unlimited power of God, so turn to the Book of Job. It not only was emphasized in the miraculous birth of the boy Isaac, it was also explained by God in His answer to Job. Now folks, the book of Job is an interesting book. It is the kind of book you have to read at one sitting. You do not just take it piecemeal because you will get confused. As a matter of fact, I have observed that Christians who are down or discouraged or defeated will often read Job. First of all Job lost everything; then he had sores all over his body and his wife told him to curse God and die. I mean, why do you keep on with this “faith business” when look at what is happening to you? And a lot of people read Job and they try to identify with him. Then they take some verses out, like the advice of his friends and they think that is what God is saying to him. And so you miss the whole message of Job. You know what the message of Job is? When we ask, “Why, Lord, am I suffering? Why, Lord, am I going through all this trouble?” The message of Job is that we do not know why.
“But I want to know why.”
“I am not going to tell you.”
“But I cannot go on unless I know why.”
“Well, then fold up. I’m not telling.”
There is not an answer in Job except that God knows what He’s doing. He can do anything. There is nothing too hard for Him to do, so keep quiet.
Have you ever as a parent tried to teach your kids the Bible and had them ask you questions? I remember when my kids were really small, (in fact, our oldest one was the only one that could really talk at that point, and boy did he talk) I would say something and he would raise his hand. He would say, “Well, why?” I would explain it. He would say, “Well why?” I would explain it again. “Why?” You know, and the ultimate answer hit me one day when he said, “Why, God? Why, God?” Why do kids ask questions like that? I did not know what to do. I turned to him and I said, “Why you?” I was so frustrated. Why, why, why, why, why? Everybody wants to know why. You know what the message of Job is? We are not going to find out a lot of this stuff. And God likes it that way.
In Job 40:1 here is what God did when He answered Job, as he kept wondering why this was happening to him. His friends are trying to tell him and he is not getting an answer. So in verse 1, God answers Job:
Moreover the LORD answered Job, and said:
“Shall the one who contends with the Almighty correct Him?
He who rebukes God, let him answer it.”
Then Job answered the LORD and said:
“Behold, I am vile; what shall I answer You?” (Job 40:1–4)
No sweat. Carry on. In verse 6, the Lord starts to answer him and then look at verse 15, “Look now at Behemoth”—as those of you who were in our series in Genesis know that I believe it is a dinosaur. God said, “I made him along with you.” Verse 19 says, “He is the first of the ways of God; only He who made him can bring near His sword.” What God is saying is: “I made that big beast so that you would know that, not only did I make him and obviously I have power, but I am the only one that can get rid of him.”
Job 41:1 says, “Can you draw out Leviathan with a hook?” I believe this was another big dinosaur. Some say that these two animals are probably a brontosaurus and a plesiosaurus. I do not know. But God says, “Can you do that? You obviously aren’t handling that one very well either.” I just love this story.
Job 41:10 says, “No one is so fierce that he would dare stir him up. Who then is able to stand against Me?” God’s power is unlimited.
Now let’s get to the punch line in Job 42:1. This is after Job heard about these two big animals which God had made and that nobody can handle.
Then Job answered the Lord and said: “I know that You can do everything, and that no purpose of Yours can be withheld from You. You asked, ‘Who is this who hides counsel without knowledge?’” (Job 41:1–3)
Hey folks, why is God holding back from us the information that we all want to know? “Why is this happening to me?” Job says, “Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand” (Job 42:3). I like that. You know, most human communication is uttering things that we do not understand. Have you noticed that?
A lady last week told me that she learns best by talking. She said that after I said “When you are talking, you are not learning anything.” She said, “That’s not true. I learn best when I talk.” She said, “Many, many times when somebody asks me something, I do not really know what I’m going to say, but once I get into it, it all comes out right.” Now folks, that is a little dangerous in my opinion, but it is kind of true.
You know, when people ask you something and you want to make sure they think that you have the answer, you might say, “Well, there are several views on that.” And what that basically means is that you do not have any idea what you are going to say. But you kind of make it up as you go along and as you are talking they might say, “Wow, that’s heavy. That’s really good.” You think, Hey, not bad. I think that is right. Yeah! So all of a sudden you have talked yourself into some sort of understanding. Well, I’ve got a theological word for all of that, okay? Baloney!
You know, we do not understand like we think we do. You know what Job learned through all of this? Hey, life is difficult to understand. And Job says,
These things are too wonderful for me. I did not know them. Listen, please, and let me speak; You said, “I will question you, and you shall answer Me.” [Okay. I am going to answer You. I got the message.] I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees You. [All he had to do was look at those two big animals and what is his conclusion?] Therefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes. (Job 42:3–6)
That is the exact opposite of what our New Age thinking of the day says. Job’s view after hearing that: God can do anything and you don’t need to know why. What He will do, He will do. And leave it to Him and He will take care of it, because He is a God who can do anything. So keep quiet. And Job says, “You know, You are right. I abhor myself. I repent in dust and ashes.” And then God just pours out blessings on him because that is the answer he is looking for.
Didn’t you know that? We do not want to repent and change our mind. We want to think that we can do something. “I need to understand, and if I know why then I will…” No, you will not. Hey, come on. Whatever God is going to do, He is going to do. Why don’t you trust Him? Is it because down deep inside you are afraid that He will blow it? Are you afraid that He cannot handle it because your deal is too big? Listen, the Bible says that creation is the finger play of God. “When I consider the heavens, the work of Your fingers” (Psalm 8:3). What do you think your problem is? He could probably sneeze and solve it. You know, He can just blow—and so much for David’s problem!
Did you think there was something too hard for God to do in your life? And I hear it over and over and over again from believers. We better go back and read the message of Job! When God talked about the unlimited nature of His power and that there is nothing too hard for Him to do, He emphasized it in a very practical story—in the miraculous birth of Isaac. He then explained it in His answer to Job. Even though you do not understand the circumstances, understand this: God can do anything He wants to do, any time He wants to do it. And Job needed to trust Him.
3) Let me give you a third example. Turn to Ephesians 1. The unlimited power of God, and the fact that there is nothing too hard for Him to do, was also exercised in the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. You want to see God’s mighty power? Then look at what He did.
In Ephesians 1:19–21, Paul said that he wanted us to know and understand “what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe.” You want to know what it is? Here it is:
According to the working of His mighty power which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age, but also in that which is to come.
If you want to see the power of God, then look at the body, in the physical resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. Do you believe He rose from the dead in a physical body? The Bible says if you do not believe that, you are not a Christian. “I don’t care what you say.” Well, that is only recorded in the Bible.
A man told me recently, he said, “How do you even know Jesus lived?” “Well, it talks about Him in the Bible. He is mentioned in other literature, but especially in the Bible.” He answered, “Oh, that’s just the Bible.” I said, “Well, how do you know George Washington lived?” “Well, everybody knows that.” I said, “Well it is only recorded in a history book. How do you know he lived? Did you ever meet the guy?” He answered, “Well, of course not. He’s dead.” I asked, “You actually believe that somebody existed just because you read it in a book?” He said, “Well sure. How else do we believe anything?” “I said, “Notice please, the Bible is a Book.”
Why is it that people are so hostile? Why do they have so much animosity? It is because we are talking about that which is the truth, the living God. His power in Jesus Christ, raised from the dead. God says, “You want to know what I can do? I can do anything. Bang! I’ll raise My Son Jesus from the dead. And I’ll prove to everybody that I can do anything.” Because He lives, we shall live. Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life. He that believeth in Me, though he were dead, yet he shall live” (John 11:25). You want to know about the power of God? Look back 1900 years ago at the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.
By the way, the most, well-attested fact of history before the printing press was invented, is the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. This is something that an unbelieving world does not want to hear and does not want to listen to. If Jesus did come back from the dead, then He is who He claimed to be. And you are in serious jeopardy if you have never put your faith and trust in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Is He Lord? Is He a liar? Is He a lunatic? Who is He? The Bible says, “If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved” (Romans 10:9). You want to know the greatness of the power of God? Look at the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
4) Let me give you one more example. When we talk about the power of God being unlimited and that there is nothing too hard for Him to do, we also see it as it is experienced in the life of the believer. And here it gets a little fuzzy for some of us— experienced in the life of the believer—you can see the unlimited power of God and that He does what no one else can do. Let me give you some reasons why this is true.
Turn to Matthew 19 and let’s take a look at salvation for an example. It takes the power of God to save somebody. You say, “Well, I asked the Lord to come into my heart.” I explain, “Well that’s nice, but God’s power is necessary to bring you back from the dead, spiritually. In order for you to be a Christian, you need a spiritual awakening. You need to be born again and that is caused by God.” A lot of people who say they are Christians really are not, because they have never had a spiritual awakening in their heart. They have not been born by the power of God.
A lot of people say they are Christians by the performance of man, rather than the power of God. A rich young ruler came to Jesus and said, “What good thing should I do to inherit eternal life?” The man was rich. Jesus put His finger on the sore spot in his life and told him to dump his riches and then they would talk about it. “Then you can follow Me” (Mark 10:21, paraphrased). He went away sorrowful. He had many possessions. He could not make the decision.
In Matthew 19:23–26, Jesus turned to the disciples and said:
Assuredly, I say to you, that it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. And again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God. When His disciples heard it, they were exceedingly amazed, saying, “Who then can be saved?” But Jesus looked at them and said to them, “With men this is impossible. But with God, [what?] all things are possible.
You see folks, it takes the power of God to bring somebody salvation. So in our very salvation that we experience as believers, we see a demonstration of the power of God.
On the other side, I see a lot of frustrated people who have tried to save themselves and it does not work—but they try.
There is a story that I really enjoy from the life of D. L. Moody, who was one of America’s greatest evangelists at the turn of the last century. After a meeting, D. L. Moody was walking with his song leader down the streets of Chicago. They were just going shopping for something. They had a meeting the night before and they were walking down the street and a guy was literally coming down the gutter of the street. He was really stoned. He was just drunk as all get-out. He was wobbling from the curb to the gutter. And so the song leader was kind of ribbing Dr. Moody a lot and he said, “Say, isn’t that one of your converts from last night?” D. L. Moody, who was so humorous, hardly batted an eye at any kind of confrontation like that. He said, “Well you know he must be, because he is certainly not the Lord’s.” You have to think about that.
There are a lot of people who talk themselves into becoming Christians. They say all the right words, sign on the dotted line, and pick up the vocabulary—you’re in! Let me tell you something, it takes the supernatural power of God to save somebody. And that is why a lot of folks are not saved because they have never known the power of God.
Let me give you a second thing in the life of a believer. Not only in the salvation that we receive, but how about sufferings that we encounter? Look at 2 Corinthians 12. You want to know about the power of God? I will tell you about the power of God. It is not simply found in the fact that somebody is healed of an illness, it is also found in the midst of their suffering. In 2 Corinthians 12:9–10, we read that Paul had a thorn in the flesh, some sort of physical problem. He begged God to take it away from him. God did not do so. In verse 9, he got this message from the Lord:
And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ's sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
Folks, I have never seen a more thrilling or powerful testimony to the power of God in the midst of suffering than what we saw on our Caribbean cruise. We had a couple who wanted to renew their marriage vows. This was a couple who had come to know Christ and they listened to our broadcast. And the man had contracted Lou Gehrig’s disease and he was dying. Already he had lost the ability to use his hands and he fell over a couple of times on the trip. People were alarmed by it because he was losing all ability to control himself. His wife and he, after I talked to them personally, they granted me permission to have them literally go in front of everybody and tell the story of what was happening to them. He had a little over a year to live and he was dying. Our hearts were broken and people were crying all over the place listening to this man. And in private what he told me and he also expressed it publicly, he said, “David, I finally learned what the power of God is.” He said, “the power of God is inside when you know you are dying.” He said, “I thought I knew what it was. I didn’t know it at all.”
You talk about God’s power. God can do what no one else can do. I have found that to be true myself—not in such a powerful way as that man had, but I have found it in the midst of emotional turmoil and defeat—that God could put peace right in my heart. It is an unexplainable peace. I have found when circumstances were so discouraging that the average person would be bummed out, but God could put joy in my heart and make me happy in the midst of it. Yes, I know something about the power of God. And although every single friend, circumstance, and event around you is trying to help, I have found that only God can do for you inside what needs to be done. Do you know the power of God in the midst of suffering?
Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.
I was thinking a lot about this message throughout the week. And there were so many other messages I had to give last week and prepare for people. And my mind was kind of going crazy for a while, trying to adjust all of this. One day we were on the island of St. Thomas and we went over across the hill (mountain) over to Megan’s Bay, a nice little beach area. Some of you may have been there. And we went over with some friends from the church.
We were walking down the beach, looking for a place—you know, a little quiet place to be on the beach for a couple hours—and we were wondering where to stop to put our things. As we were walking along the beach, my message had been going through my mind all week and I had been trying to think of things (in the midst of everything else that needed to be done), and how God supplies our needs. And it just caught me funny. I have been thinking about it ever since it happened. We were looking for a place on the beach and all of a sudden, I walked by and there was a five dollar bill lying in the sand, right in the sand. And I said, “Right over here, this is the place! Four cokes please.” But do you understand? It is a simple, little, dinky thing like that, which is a wonderful reminder that God will supply all of our needs. Sometimes it is the smallest thing that you are never expecting that God uses to say, “Hey, I’m going to take care of you. Don’t you worry about it.”
Let me give you one final thing. Turn to Ephesians 3. You talk about experiencing the power of God not only in the salvation we received, and even in the sufferings we encounter, and in the supply of the needs that we face; but I see also the power of God in the strength that we need in the inner man. In Ephesians 3:14–21 it says,
For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might [power] through His Spirit in the inner man, that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; [that He would really be at home in your life] that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height—to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.
He is not done with the book, but it is time to say, Amen. Folks listen, the power of God is often seen in the inner man, not the outer man. We always want the outward, visible demonstration to know that God can do it. Well, once in a while God does that. But let me tell you, one of the wonderful demonstrations of God’s power is inside the believer in the area that is not seen but we experience in our relationship to God. I do not think there is a greater need in any believer than to know the power of God in the inner man. To know God’s power when everything is out of whack and it looks like nothing is in control and we cannot go on another day and to know the power of God within us!
I can still see the eyes of the gentleman I referred to, with tears down his face and his hands totally immobilized, barely able to stand up. I can still see his eyes as he said, “David, when you can’t use your body any more then you begin to know the power of God.”
The world is into everything that demonstrates the outward: fitness, aerobics, nutrition, you name it—everything. It is like the Greek–Roman age is back again with all of its New Age thinking, which is not new. It is old, with all of its emphasis on the body and the external and all of it. And we have lost sight of something, friends—the power of God can be seen inside when the outside does not work anymore.
Let’s close with prayer.
Lord, You know how many people here, listening to what we’ve just been talking about, have never experienced Your power in terms of becoming a Christian. You made it so simple. You told us to believe the message of the gospel about Jesus, that He died for our sins and that He arose again from the dead. Lord, it is not our faith that saves us, according to the Bible. It is Jesus Christ who saves us. It is not our performance that makes it happen, it’s Your power. You say we are not only saved by the power of God, but we’re kept by the power of God. Lord, I would pray for those here in our audience who are not sure if they died today whether they would be in heaven. I pray that You, by the power of Your Holy Spirit, would cause them, Lord, to put their faith in Jesus Christ, as Lord and Savior. That they would confess with their mouth that He is Lord and believe in their hearts that He was raised from the dead. You said if that happens they’ll be saved. Your power will bring them to Yourself. God, I pray for many Christians here in the audience who are going through tough times, difficult times. Perhaps they have some burden that is heavy on their heart. God may we once again know of Your power in the inner man. God, thank You for what You can do. There is no one like You. We praise You in Jesus’ name. Amen.