Deut 4_32-40 The Lord is God 2
The Lord is God
Power belongs to Him
The word of God in our midst
Call to worship
Blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the Lord his God, the Maker of heaven and earth, the sea, and everything in them— the Lord, who remains faithful forever. (Psalm 146:5-6)
Grace to you from God our Father, Jesus Christ our Lord and the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Prayer of Confession of sin
“Come now, let us reason together,” says the Lord. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool. If you are willing and obedient, you will eat the best from the land; but if you resist and rebel, you will be devoured by the sword.” For the mouth of the Lord has spoken. (Isaiah 1:18-20)
Doxology Hymn No 60: “To Him who chose us first”
(Tune Rejoice 1 – 3 verses)
Prayer of Adoration, Invocation and Thanksgiving
Hymn No 152: “When morning gilds the skies”
Scripture Reading Acts 7:17-36
Hymn No 238 (i): “All hail the power of Jesus’ Name”
Tithes, offering and dedication
Prayer for others
Scripture Reading Deuteronomy 4:32-40
2006 is just a few days old. Ahead of us are 349 days of service in the Lord. We have many plans, not only as individuals, but also as a church. The danger of being occupied with our personal plans is that we might loose sight of our place within the Kingdom of God as part of the bigger landscape of God’s work for his church.
; It is probably not out of step to ask, “What is your vision for St Andrews? Have you ever given consideration to things we should implement in this church to see the Kingdom of God come? And of course, how do you see yourself involved in this work?”
No doubt there will be days ahead of us that will test our faith, determination and faithfulness in the Lord. But what are the truths that will serve as an anchor we need to cling unto to see us through this journey, occupying our Promised Land, spiritually driving out the godless inhabitants of the land to plant the Kingdom of God under the Kingship of Jesus Christ? That is, after all, the commission of the Church: to disciple the nation under the headship of our Lord.
We find a few principles in Deuteronomy 4:32-40 to help us to be focussed in our task as a church of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Last week Lord’s Day during the evening service we also took this paragraph from the Word of God for the sermon. We established from the Word that God is God of the history. Our salvation is anchored in history. God performed historical acts of redemption by calling a nation of his own out of Egypt, and of course the church, which He purchased by the blood of Jesus Christ. The birth, death, resurrection and ascension of the Lord Jesus Christ are historically verified facts. Our faith is not an idea, or a philosophy or a theory. Our faith is firmly based in history, because God is the God of history. We need to constantly read, study and digest the truths of what God did for his church in the past. This will help us to face and overcome the obstacles of the future.
Today we will hear the message of God proclaiming to us the fact the power belongs to God. On these principles and facts we stand upon to face 2006 as a church with a view to make a difference in the world God has placed us.
The power belongs to God
Deuteronomy 4:37-38 reads:
Because He loved your forefathers and chose their descendants after them, He brought you out of Egypt by his Presence and his great strength, to drive out before you nations greater and stronger than you and to bring you into their land to give it to you for your inheritance, as it is today. (Deuteronomy 4:37-38 (NIV)
The word “Presence” refers to the fact that God was always there present in their midst. ; We read of the column of cloud and the pillar of fire. Another way this is expressed in the Bible is “the presence-of-God”. Whenever God had a special revelation for the people He would appear to them. It was this Presence who secured their victory at the Red See over the forces of the Pharaoh and the Amalekites. He lived in their midst in the tabernacle which was located right in the centre of the camp of the Israelites. ; They could not move to their next stop in the desert unless the cloud would move. The presence of the Presence was their security and hope.
His great strength referred to the omnipotence of God. Nothing was too difficult for Him. Out of the rock He would provide water. But more than that, He provided victory over very strong kings and kingdoms. There were Og and Sihon.
In the eyes of the sacred writers, this dual defeat is so significant that it can be ranked with the exodus as one of the singular manifestations of God’s saving intervention on behalf of his people, and as evidence of his everlasting love for them.
In Sihon’s refusal to grant Israel passage through his realm, displaying open hostility toward Israel, he was defeated and killed at Jahaz; his country was occupied by Israel. Subsequently, it was distributed to the tribes of Gad and Reuben.
King Og was a giant of a man. His bed was made of iron and was more than thirteen feet long and six feet wide. (Deuteronomy 3:11). Og had fortified his land with 60 walled cities and was probably overconfident before Moses’ army. Moses completely destroyed the populace of those cities; he spared only the livestock and the spoils of war (Dt 3:5–6).
God drove out nations stronger that the Israelites before them, although they felt like grasshoppers compared to them.
My dear brother and sister, 2006 with its challenges lie ahead of us. We have a Promised Land to conquer. And how godless is the land; how powerful do the powers that control this world seem! Think of the broken families, the street children, the alcohol and drug abuse, the lawlessness. Let’s take a verse from the New Testament that describes our world:
The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. (Galatians 5:19-21 (NIV)
People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with them. (2 Timothy 3:2-5)
It is into this world you and I are called to be bearers of light and shakers of salt. How are we going to do it? How are we going to have ultimate victory? Remember the presence of God and remember his powerful acts with the Israelites. Remember the powerful resurrection of Jesus Christ. Remember his promise to be with us to the ends of the world. Remember that God is omnipotent and that all power belongs to Him. We pray: “To You belong the Kingdom, the power and the glory.”
; How did a Martin Luther survive the attacks, or a John Calvin in the face of the mighty but godless Roman church? They remembered the presence of God.
; And William Tyndale and John Wycliffe? ; John Wycliffe knew the importance of the Word of God in the everyday language of the man on the street. He translated the Bible in English and attacked the corruption in the ranks of the bishops and popes. He trained lay preachers of the Bible, called the Lollards. What did he get for it? His books were burned, he was defrocked and his followers imprisoned. 40 years after his death Pope Martin V decreed that his books be burned and his remains be exhumed. When they were dug up, they were burned, and the ashes cast into the Swift river.
Why did Wycliffe do what he did? He remembered the powerful presence of God.
; William Tyndale. A clergyman hopelessly entrenched in Roman Catholic dogma once taunted Tyndale with the statement, “We are better to be without God’s laws than the Pope’s”. Tyndale was infuriated by such Roman Catholic heresies, and he replied, “I defy the Pope and all his laws. If God spare my life ere many years, I will cause the boy that drives the plow to know more of the scriptures than you!”
He became the first to print the Bible in English. What happened then? Tyndale was arrested and imprisoned in the castle of Vilvoorden for over 500 days of horrible conditions. He was tried for heresy and treason in a ridiculously unfair trial, and convicted. Tyndale was then strangled and burnt at the stake in the prison yard, Oct. 6, 1536. His last words were, "Lord, open the king of England's eyes." This prayer was answered three years later, in the publication of King Henry VIII’s 1539 English “Great Bible”.
Why did Wycliffe do what he did and how was he able to stand firm to the end? He knew the glories of the powerful presence of God!
; John Huss, the Bohemian reformer, was cited to appear before the bishops because he was convinced of the reformed theology as set out by Wycliffe. The bishops stripped him of his priestly garments, degraded him, put a bishop’s hat of paper on his head, on which was painted devils, with this inscription, "A ringleader of heretics." Which when he saw, he said: "My Lord Jesus Christ, for my sake, did wear a crown of thorns; why should not I then, for His sake, again wear this light crown, be it ever so embarrassing? Truly I will do it, and that willingly." When it was set upon his head, the bishop said: "Now we commit thy soul unto the devil." "But I," said John Huss, lifting his eyes towards the heaven, "do commend into Thy hands, O Lord Jesus Christ! my spirit which Thou has redeemed."
When the chain was put about him at the stake, he said, with a smiling countenance, "My Lord Jesus Christ was bound with a harder chain than this for my sake, and why then should I be ashamed of this rusty one?" When he was put on the stake, he said to his executioner: "You are now going to burn a goose, (Huss signifying goose in the Bohemian language) but in a century you will have a swan which you can neither roast nor boil." While the flames consumed his body, he sang a hymn.
Why did Huss do it and how was he able to stand firm to the end? He knew and remembered the powerful acts of God in the past, the omnipotent God who saves unto eternity.
Think about missionaries through the ages: ; How did the shoemaker missionary to India William Carey stand firm in his calling to claim India for Christ?
As a young man in England in the late 1780s, Carey was obsessed with the conviction that the church must take God's Word to every nation.
Carey simply would not let anything stand in the way. The obstacles he faced were many and menacing. A few examples:
Carey did not go to school beyond the age of 12 when he became a cobbler's apprentice. He was educationally unqualified. Yet he knew God had given him a great gift for languages, and this must be used to share Christ with other cultures. When Carey was preparing for ordination in 1785, he was rejected when he gave his first sermon as a candidate. It took two more years for him to be eventually ordained to the ministry.
In 1792 he produced one of the most important books in all of church history: An Enquiry Into the Obligations of Christians. In it he argued that Christ's "Great Commission" in Matthew 28:19-20 was not just to the apostles but to Christians of all periods. Carey showed that if Christians want to claim the comforts and promises of the New Testament, they must also accept the commands and instructions given there. He developed a catchphrase "expect great things from God; attempt great things for God." His colleagues formed a missionary society and sent Carey as their first missionary to India.
Carey spent seven years in India before seeing his first convert. And then there was the problem of the persecution of anyone who became a Christian because it meant breaking caste in India.
At the time in India there were practices that Carey had to oppose as a Christian: children were sacrificed to the gods; widows were burned alive on their husband's funeral pyres.
There was official opposition from the British East India Company which did not want missionaries in India. There was the disastrous fire in 1812 at the mission printing plant that destroyed years of Carey's translation work. There were repeated attacks of malaria and cholera, impoverished living conditions, insufficient funds to survive even a minimal existence. Carey had to take up secular employment just to survive.
Was it worth it? Beyond a doubt. Carey formed a team of colleagues who translated the Bible in 34 Asian languages, compiled dictionaries of Sanskrit, Marathi, Panjabi, and Telegu -respected even today as authoritative; started the still influential Serampore College; began churches and established 19 mission stations; formed 100 rural schools encouraging the education of girls; introduced the concept of the savings bank to assist poor farmers. His fight against the burning of widows lead to the banning of the custom in 1829. His life inspired tens of thousands to give themselves for the spreading of the Gospel.
Why? He remembered the powerful omnipotence of the Saviour God.
; Hudson Taylor was called to China with its hundreds of millions of heathen living in the darkness of sin survive. He became the most widely used missionary in China's history. During his 51 years of service there, his China Inland Mission established 20 mission stations, brought 849 missionaries to the field (968 by 1911), trained some 700 Chinese workers, raised four million dollars by faith (following Mueller's example), and developed a witnessing Chinese church of 125,000. It has been said at least 35,000 came to the Lord through his personal ministry and that he baptized some 50,000. His gift for inspiring people to give themselves and their possessions to Christ was amazing.
; And what about David Livingstone and Moffat evangelising Southern Africa. Why did they do it? They remembered the powerful omnipotence of the presence of God.
The question of course is, “Why don’t we see much of this happening around us anymore?” It seems to me the obvious answer is that we have lost our vision of the powerful and omnipotent God. We have got a calling in Townsville. For too long now we have looked inward; the time has arrived for us to conquer and start working towards a Townsville under the Headship of Christ.
My dear brothers and sisters, the charge is still the same: go and occupy the land, drive out the nations, proclaim the Kingdom of God, follow his decrees, obey the Lord with all your heart and soul and mind and strength. Why? Because He who calls us is the omnipotent and powerful God, there is no other God! The gods of this world are demigods; they are bound by the prince of darkness, but we’ve got news for them: your prince is already overcome; he is slain and bound up. To the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ belongs the victory.
; We’ve heard about a plan we need to have as Christians. What is your vision for the church? What is your vision for St Andrews? And how do you see yourself as part of this vision. I challenge you to become part of the body of Christ moving forward under the banner of Christ to conquer in his Name. Be a disciple, be a soldier, be a committed worker in the service of the Lord. AMEN.
Prayer and Lord’s Prayer
Hymn No 308: “For all the saints”(only verses 1-2, 5-6)
May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all. (2 Corinthians 13:14)