The Power of the Lord
Be thou exalted, Lord, in thine own strength: so will we sing and praise thy power.
We make a huge mistake when we think that God is only a little bigger than we are. He is far greater and more powerful than our wildest imaginations. Creation gives us a glimpse of His awesome power. The Bible tells us that God merely spoke a word and all the stars were flung into space.
How immense is the universe! The first astronomer, Ptolemy, counted 1, 056 stars. With the magnification of a one inch telescope, we can see 225,000 stars. A 100-inch telescope enables us to see 1.5 billion stars and with a 200-inch telescope, we can see a billion galaxies. The Hubble telescope has enabled astronomers to see 100 billion galaxies. Here’s some help to put these numbers into perspective: 100 billion stars in each of 100 billion galaxies is roughly equal to the number of grains of sand on every shore on every beach throughout the entire world!
What difference does this make to us? Our trust in God is a reflection of our grasp of His greatness and grace. If we think He’s just a little stronger or nicer than we are, our trust in Him will be meager. But if we marvel at His greatness, we’ll trust Him more with every decision, every relationship, and every purpose in our lives.
God is an infinite circle whose center is everywhere and whose circumference is no where.
Some years ago there was a song that asked, How big is God? And the writer attempted to describe the bigness of God. It was a great attempt but fell far short of the mark. Indeed I think that it would be impossible to describe the power and the awesomeness of God.
I remember flying over the Mediterranean and seeing the incredible blue of the ocean with the cruise ships from 40,000 feet up. And then on to the north and flying over snow covered mountains and seeing the tiny trucks making their way over snow covered roads- all in the same flight and in a matter of hours. Moving at 600 miles per hour, the incredible scenery still moved slowly. As I was enjoying the incredible scenery and knowing that the ships were huge and the trucks of good size, I began to think about this incredible planet that God designed for humans. I thought about how the earth was a tiny planet in a tiny solar system in one of the smallest galaxies and that the God who created the whole vast universe also created each of us. Sometimes I think when life seems a little too big for us we ought to take a lesson from David and go outside and see the stars and remember that God created all of them, flung them out into space and created a universe that is still being expanded with new stars and solar systems still being born.
When we see God in this view, our problems become such a small thing and our faith becomes increased and we find the ability to believe that anything is possible with such a God.
As we enter a new year, I know many of us are weary with all the pandemic related issues. We wonder if we will ever be able to breathe again or to live without fear and worry. Yes, we can. Oh, to be sure, some things will change and there will be some permanent changes but we can rest assured that the people of God will find and experience new adventures because God is bigger than the pandemic and His church has overcome every obstacle thrown it it in the last two millennium. It has not just survived but thrived in persecution, heresy, division and schism. It has overcome social and financial barriers. It has weathered wars and world turmoil, inner strife and conflict. Of all the institutions in this world, God has only promised to build one-His church. That doesn’t mean that every denomination is safe or every congregation will survive. But I strongly believe that every person, every congregation, every denomination that sees the power of God and chooses to engage in His work and mission can stand on the promise, “Upon this Rock, I will build MY church!
If we could only see and believe in the bigness of God, we would have bold faith. We would expand our ministries. We would believe and act on that belief that our communities could be transformed by the power of the Holy Spirit. We would believe that no matter how large the challenge, our God can take it on. That’s what David believed when he faced Goliath! That’s what Christ believed when He spoke to the winds and waves. That’s what Paul believed when the ship he was on was about to sink and later when he was bitten by the viper. That’s what the Acts Church believed when it prayed for more boldness. And that’s what His Church believes.
As I flew that trip from Raleigh to London to Nairobi and saw the majesty and greatness of God’s creation, it became easy to believe that the God who created all that would work His wonders.
One day as we were holding open air meetings, preaching the gospel to large crowds, I was privileged to see the greatness of God in visible form. In preparation for the meeting, posters with my picture along with the native pastor were posted all over the town. As service began that day, the presence of the Holy Spirit was powerful. As I began to preach about how Jesus healed a woman who had been sick for twelve years with an issue of blood, I made the comment that because of the size of the crowd, she had a difficult time getting to Jesus, but she pressed through until she could touch the hem of His garment. The Holy Spirit prompted me to say that day, “If, for some reason, you can’t press through the crowd to get to Jesus, He’ll come to where you are. It was a large crowd that day- somewhere around 100,000 people I was told. At the back of the crowd as I was preaching, an uproar took place. The church elders who were acting a security went back to see what was going on. They came back to the platform and got the native pastor’s attention and he went down where they were. They had a mother and a boy of around ten years old. The mom was weeping, laughing, trembling with fear and shouting for joy. Her son was jumping up and down and shouting something in Swahili. As he began to shout the crowd around him began to shout Bwana Asifiwe which means the Lord be praised! The pastor motioned for me to cease preaching and to come down. I heard one of the most amazing stories I’ve ever heard. The story went this way. The ten-year old boy had been born blind. A few days before the open-air meeting, the mother had come to town to shop. Passing by the posters, she decided that she would bring her son and see if this God and these preachers might touch her son and he would be healed. She said that she believed that if she brought her son, and the American missionary prayed for him that God would give him sight. I’m glad I didn’t know any of this! She said that when I said if you can’t get to God, He’ll come to you; as soon as the interpreter spoke those words in Swahili, her son began to cry and scream, “Mommy, I can see, Mommy I can see!” She said he was terrified because this was something he had never experienced. When she finally calmed him down and he heard her voice, he knew that this strange sight was his mother. Never in my wildest dreams had I believed such a thing was possible. It was so beyond anything I could imagine that the next year when I returned I insisted that I see the boy. I found out that his sight was perfect, that he was enrolled school and his grades excellent.
I tell this story not to make anything of myself but to brag on the power and greatness of our God. I tell this story to stir up your faith that you might believe that this very same God can handle pandemics and turmoil and world problems. But more so, I tell this story that you might believe that the God who gave sight to a ten year old Kenyan boy is also able to do what you need Him to do for you.
Christ said that all things are possible to those who believe. I choose to believe that we will see God do incredible things in 2022! Will you believe with me? Like the little Kenyan mom, will you let your expectation rise? Will you put your confidence in the God who flung out the stars and created the smallest microbes?
Dr. John Thompson