S‑1076 10/19/2008 23SAP/3A Hymns: (O) #2; (S) #43; (C) #508
Texts: Isaiah 45:1-7; 1 Thessalonians 1:1-10; Matthew 22:15-22
Theme: “The Mighty Deeds of God” (Isaiah 45:5-6).
Armour, SD. SOLIE DEO GLORIA.
Question: “What is the most AWESOME thing you have ever seen?”
Faithful followers of the Savior, Christ is Risen! He is Risen! Indeed! Alleluia! The text for our meditation is from the Old Testament: “I Am the LORD, and there is no other, besides Me there is no God; I equip you, though you do not know Me, that people may know, from the rising of the sun and from the west, that there is none besides Me; I Am the LORD, and there is no other” (Isaiah 45:5-6).
Saints in Christ, I have just returned from visiting my country. It was a wonderful trip to be sure but at the same time, a sad one. The reason I say “SAD” because many of my countrymen speak of God, but limit His deeds. They put Him in a box and limit what He can and can’t do. For example, while visiting with family members they would say, “God is big!” Yet they attempt to help Him out by delving in His business and trying to change the affairs of the world. They speak of the downfall of the American economy and put their trust in that economy instead of God’s mighty power and deeds of deliverance.
Everywhere I went people wanted to know how things are going in America. What will happen to the Stock market? What will become of them since they rely heavily on the Almighty dollar? And who will win the election this fall? I informed them that God is bigger than any economy, any candidate and any stock market. And if you have your stocks in Jesus Christ, the market will never go down, but always up because He is mighty indeed.
The people of my old country today and the people of Israel of old have the same mentality—that God has abandoned them and that He has forgotten them. The people of Israel had been taken captives to Babylon because of their disobedience to God and His Word. They forsook His Word and His will. They no longer listened to the prophets’ warnings and as a result God had His fill with them and now find themselves slaves again. And while there, they wonder where is God in all of this. I heard the same thing on my visit to Israel recently, “Where is this big God you speak about?”
I attempted to speak of the powerful God, whose love was displayed for all the world to see on Calvary, but that was something in the past, and not connected to the future. They ignored these words and looked to something more tangible than the God of the Universe, the One who created all things.
Isaiah tells us with the words of the text today, of God’s mighty deeds as He enters the stage of human history and what He will do—He will use a foreign leader to bring about great deliverance. He will use Cyrus as the servant of God—to serve God and His people by protecting them and bringing them back to the Promised Land from which they were taken captives.
Our Awesome God uses Cyrus without his knowledge to bring about a change in history. He will deliver His chosen people by using the treasury of this foreign enemy to bring about peace and prosperity and safe travel to His people. He declares “I Am the Lord, and there is no other”. This statement alone ought to be printed on the hearts of all people of every age so that they may know Him as the ONLY true and mighty God who goes before us and does what is needed to bring about deliverance. PAUSE.
What are the mighty deeds of God you might ask? Consider but these few examples:
1. God did mighty deeds in Egypt the 10 plagues to bring about deliverance [fulfilling His promise to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob]
2. God parting the waters of the Red Sea so the people could walk across on dry ground! [God providing for His people – keeping His Word to them.]
3. God closing the mouths of the lions and keeping Daniel safe.
4. We think of the battle of our Lord in the Garden of Gethsemane when He is facing death on the cross. And there, too, is one of the “MIGHTY DEEDS OF GOD.” [For us]
5. It looked like the end. But Jesus willingly gives Himself into death. And yet even in His death on the cross, Jesus is the One who is acting. And when He dies, the Bible says: “And behold, the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. And the earth shook, and the rocks were split. The tombs also were opened. And many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised…” (Matt. 27:51-52). Another of the “MIGHTY DEEDS OF GOD!”
6. We carry a child to the baptismal font. It may not seem like very much. But we speak the name of the Triune God, the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. We apply water to the head of a child that child that was born in sin and was lost becomes a child of God—another of the “MIGHTY DEEDS OF GOD.”
7. We are invited by God’s command to come to His table. The elements on the table appear to be of no value, but as you look closer, you see and hear of the miracle by which Christ gives us forgiveness of sins and salvation. Another of the “MIGHTY DEEDS OF GOD!”
8. We are spared from an accident. And God in His grace has likely sent angels that we couldn’t even see to keep us safe—another one of the “MIGHTY DEEDS OF GOD.”
9. We speak our prayer when we are hurting and desperate. And God answers—another one of the “MIGHTY DEEDS OF GOD.”
These are but a small sample of what God in His divine wisdom has done, and continues to do for His people today and in every age. And we, who have known this Awesome God and His mighty deeds, are privileged to pass this on to others so that they too might come to know the loving God who is mighty in Word and deed. Our gracious God wants others to know that because Jesus died to pay for our sins and rose again from the dead, we are and always can be sure of our life in Christ and the promise of heaven. Our God wants all people to know and believe that at any time they can come to Him in prayer, with whatever burden they are carrying and He will hear their prayer and answer!
To be honest, the people of Israel of old and today, along with us at times don’t put our trust in God. Oh, we too, as Christians declare that God is big, but we also put Him in a box and limit what He can do and what He can’t do. But by the Holy Spirit’s power we come to God’s house to be awaked from our slumber and see anew the mighty deeds of God our Savior.
This is what Isaiah the prophet tells us today in this text that our powerful and mighty God will go before us (vs. 2). For indeed He has gone before us into death and by His resurrection, and by these mighty deeds, He guarantees that He will always lead the way for us to get us to the Promise Land—Heaven. PAUSE.
The title of the last chapter of a book is called, “The Roar.” The book, No Wonder They Call Him Savior, is by Max Lucado (pages 163-164) (read from the book).
The door is locked. Dead-bolted. Maybe even a chair under the doorknob. Inside sit ten knee-knocking itinerants who are astraddle the fence between faith and fear.
As you look around the room, you wouldn’t take them for a bunch who are about to put the kettle of history on high boil. Uneducated. Confused. Calloused hands. Heavy accents. Few social graces. Limited knowledge of the world. No money. Undefined leadership. And on and on.
No, as you look at this motley crew, you wouldn’t wager too many paychecks on their future. But something happens to a man when he witnesses someone who has risen from the dead. Something stirs that is hotter than gold fever and more permanent than passion.
It all started with ten stammering, stuttering men. “Though the door was locked, he still stood in their midst. “As the Father has sent Me, I am sending you” (John 20:21).
And send them He did. Ports. Courtyards. Boats. Synagogues. Prisons. Palaces. They went everywhere. Their message of the Nazarene dominoed across the civilized world. They were an infectious fever. They were a moving organism. They refused to be stopped.
My, wouldn’t it be great to see it happen again?
Many say it’s impossible. The world is too hard. Too secular. Too post-Christian. “This is the age of information, not regeneration.” So we deadbolt the door for fear of the world.
And as a result, the world goes largely untouched and untaught. Over half of the world has yet to hear the story of the Messiah, much less study it. The few believers who do go out often come home weary and wounded, numbed at the odds and frustrated at the needs.
What would it take to light the fire again? Somehow, those fellows in the upper room did it. They did it without dragging their feet or making excuses. For them it was rather obvious. “All I know is that He was dead and now He is alive.”
Something happens to a man when he stands within inches of the Judean Lion. Something happens when he hears the roar, when he touches the golden mane. Something happens when he gets so close he can feel the Lion’s breath. Maybe we could all use a return visit. Maybe we all need to witness His majesty and sigh at His victory. Maybe we need to hear our own commission again. “Will you tell them?” Jesus challenged. “Will you tell them that I came back … and that I am coming again?”
“We will,” they nodded. And they did….
Will you? Will you tell them of the Mighty Deeds of God? God grant us the joy and privilege to do so. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
Now the peace of God…