The Great Thing About Great Things
‘Call to Me and I will answer you, and tell you [and even show you] great and mighty things, [things which have been confined and hidden], which you do not know understand cannot distinguish.’
God’s promise to answer the prayers of His people was given at a time of desperate need. The children of Israel were in deep trouble- in slavery under the brutal, vicious Babylonian regime. Survival was uppermost on their minds, but God had bigger, more wonderful plans for them than merely surviving. In fact, God’s plans for them were beyond their comprehension.
The promise was clear and strong, but the path to deliverance wouldn’t be easy. If the children of Israel responded, they would experience the cleansing of suffering before God would free them and restore them to their land. Later, when they made the trip from Babylon back to Israel, they laughed and cried because rather were so happy.(Psalm 126)
For us, too, saying yes to God doesn’t guarantee a smooth ride. God’s great promises often involve great challenges to test our faith in and our loyalty to Him. As we respond to His promise, we need to have our eyes and ears open. God’s path of freedom may first take us where we suffer in order to purge our hearts of impure desires, and God’s path to blessing may wind through loss.
Through it all, we will cling to God’s promise. More than that, we will cling to God Himself. We will reflect on His goodness and greatness and remember how He worked in the lives of men and women who trusted Him with their lives, their hopes, and their futures. And we will trust Him too.
I would rather have plans changed with God’s blessings than fulfilled plans without His blessing.
The thing is to understand myself, to see what God wishes me to do….to find the idea for which I can live and die.
What we believe about God influences what we believe He will do. Far too often we live as though God is a small insignificant entity who views the world and us from a distance. Many feel that God has set everything in motion and now has left it in human hands to make it all work. The Israelites by and large had accepted their captivity as a fact without any hope that things could ever change. They settled into their status as captives in a foreign land. No doubt many of them saw their failures as justifiable reason for their captivity and believed that those failures had given them only what they deserved. Who, they reasoned, could stand against mighty Babylon. And why would God intervene into the consequences of their sinful conduct. One of the Psalms written during this time tells us that they had given up hope.
Their forefathers had experienced similar feelings when they became Egyptian slaves. For 430 long years they lived as slaves and it became so ingrained in them that they came to accept it as their norm. But God had heard their cry and raised up Moses as their deliverer. Even as they saw the mighty power of God actin on their behalf, it failed to change their perspective about God and their state. We marvel at their continued unbelief and rebellion throughout their journey to the Promised Land. Even the faithful, consistent help from God didn’t change their perceptions about Him. At every turn, in every crisis, they accused Moses and God of bringing them out of slavery only to let them die in the wilderness. The promises of God to bring them into a land of plenty and blessing was far beyond their capacity to believe.
But what about us? What do we believe about God and His promises? Are they just stories we read in the Bible? Is the miracles of Jesus, the prophets, and the apostles just fairy tales or stories about how God used to work in bygone days? What about even more modern stories, the stories of our forefathers or those of the church 20, 30, 40, or 50 years ago? Are the days of filled worship services, and fruit-bearing altars where dozens came to know Christ as their Savior a thing of the past to be experienced no more?
Will the effects of Covid that has influenced the Great Falling Away continue and should the church prepare for dwindling numbers and resources? Will we accept the new norm of convenient Christianity?
Like the Israelites in both stories, we must make a choice. We can choose to believe that the days of the past were indeed the “glory days” or we can choose to believe what God spoke through Jeremiah. Our future as the church isn’t based on culture, environment, social norms and the like. Our future is based on our choice of whom or what we will believe. God speaking through Jeremiah gives us a challenge or a call. He literally says that if we will call on Him even in the day of trouble, that He will hear. Do you believe that God is really listening when we cry out to Him? Listen to God’s response to us when we call on Him. God says that if we will call on Him that He will tell and show us mighty things. To use an old expression, “It ain’t over till it’s over” and “God always has the last word.”
Before God speaks now, we already have heard His promise. Do we not remember what Christ said about His church? “Upon this rock, I’ll build My church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it!” Or do we not remember that Christ said that He is coming back for “a glorious church without spot, wrinkle, or blemish.”
However you may see the church right now, I pray that as you call on God, He will show you the “great and mighty things” that are yet to come.
I know many are concerned about the aging, declining church. But hear the promise of God spoken in Joel 2 and reaffirmed in Acts. There doesn’t seem to be a time or generation limit on this promise of God.
“It shall come about after this that I shall pour out My Spirit on all mankind; And your sons and your daughters will prophesy, Your old men will dream dreams, Your young men will see visions. Even on the male and female servants I will pour out My Spirit in those days. I will show signs wonders [displaying My power] in the heavens and on the earth, Blood and fire and columns of smoke. The sun will be turned into darkness and the moon into blood before the great and terrible day of the Lord comes. And it shall come about that whoever calls on the name of the will be saved [from the coming judgment]
So how about it? Do we dare to call upon the Lord and dare we believe that He will actually show us mighty things? Dare we believe that our future can really eclipse our past? Are you content to just rehash the stories of the past or will we dare to believe that we will write just as amazing, powerful stories? The last chapter of Acts has yet to be written. Will your story be included in that chapter? I pray so!
Dr. John Thompson