Is God in Control?
God's caring control is constant.
For full sermon audio, listen here: http://rdmp.tn/DG5
Have you ever looked at a situation in your own life – or the state of the world in general – and wondered, “Is God truly in control of all this? Does He have power over all things, all people, in all places, at all times? Is God really sovereign?”
The Bible's answer to these questions is an overwhelming and emphatic, “Yes”:
“I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted.” Job 42:2
“The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the Lord.” Proverbs 16:33
“Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand.” Proverbs 19:21
“[God] works all things according to the counsel of His will.” Ephesians 1:11
Most of us as Christians believe that God is in control ... until His control conflicts with our own comfort. Then things get dicey and we’re not so certain. That’s when we need to go to God’s Word to confront our doubts and strengthen our faith.
Psalm 115 shows us four God-glorifying responses to God's caring control...especially when it conflicts with our comfort.
This particular Psalm is one of six hymns that were sung during the Passover meal to commemorate God’s faithfulness in delivering His people from slavery in Egypt. It was sung regularly during a time in history when God’s people were experiencing persecution and open mockery from an unbelieving culture.
Here are four responses to God’s caring control from this ancient Psalm:
1. God is in control, so I will worship Him.
Not to us, O Lord, not to us, but to your name give glory, for the sake of your steadfast love and your faithfulness! Why should the nations say, “Where is their God?” Our God is in the heavens; he does all that he pleases. (v. 1-3)
Worship is easy when God’s power is evident, but difficult when His power seems to be concealed. Broken relationships, illness, or doubts of any kind, often debilitate our ability to worship. In truth we can ascribe God the glory He deserves, especially in the midst of hardship, for three reasons...
His PERSON: God is loving, merciful, and faithful even when we don’t feel it.
His POSITION: God is above all and has a divine perspective.
His POWER: God does all that He pleases; His hands are never tied.
2. God is in control, so I will trust Him.
Their idols are silver and gold, the work of human hands. They have mouths, but do not speak; eyes, but do not see. They have ears, but do not hear; noses, but do not smell. They have hands, but do not feel; feet, but do not walk; and they do not make a sound in their throat. Those who make them become like them; so do all who trust in them. O Israel, trust in the Lord! He is their help and their shield. O house of Aaron, trust in the Lord! He is their help and their shield. You who fear the Lord, trust in the Lord! He is their help and their shield. (v.4-11)
The people in this pagan culture worshiped worthless, powerless idols; mere man-made objects that could do nothing. The danger, as the Psalmist pointed out, was that the people who worshiped them would become like their idols: spiritually dead and worthless.
In our culture, we make idols of things like love, money, success, power, and approval. We wrongly believe these will provide what we want; then we’re disappointed when they don't. Unlike the dead and worthless nature of idols, God is our help and shield. He empowers us for what He calls us to and He protects us. He is worthy of our trust.
3. God is in control, so I will anticipate His blessing.
The Lord has remembered us; he will bless us; he will bless the house of Israel; he will bless the house of Aaron; he will bless those who fear the Lord, both the small and the great. May the Lord give you increase, you and your children! May you be blessed by the Lord, who made heaven and earth! (v.12-15)
The Psalmist has deep trust that God will provide because He has a history of doing exactly that. It’s important for us to remember this, too. God desires to bless His people and He has consistently done so throughout history. His past faithfulness is the most powerful proof of His future provision.
It’s also essential that we not wrongly define God’s blessings as materialistic or experiential. God Himself is His greatest gift to us. When we find ourselves doubting God’s desire to bless us we need to fix our eyes on the finished work of Jesus. The cross is the ultimate display of God’s blessing. If the very person of God is not enough to satisfy us, no possession ever will be.
4. God is in control, so I will always praise Him.
The heavens are the Lord’s heavens, but the earth he has given to the children of man. The dead do not praise the Lord, nor do any who go down into silence. But we will bless the Lord from this time forth and forevermore. Praise the Lord! (v .16-18)
The Israelites chose to praise God despite crushing circumstances. The culture around them called into question the power and existence of God, yet they resolved to praise Him even through their tears. It was a deliberate and decisive action.
Likewise, when God’s perfect plan doesn’t feel good to us, we must make a choice to praise Him. His Word reminds us of His person, His position, and His power. We have evidence of His unchanging faithfulness and we have the gift of a relationship with Him.
We have every reason to trust that God is in control.
(Adapted by Diane Rivers from sermon entitled, "Is God in Control?")
Questions for further reflection:
- Do you see parallels between the seemingly hopeless situation the Israelites found themselves in and the condition of our world today?
- How could worshiping God in difficult circumstances change your perspective?
- Have you ever allowed something other than God – even a good thing – to be so essential to your life that you would be completely devastated if you were to lose it? Do you see this as idolatry?
- What is the greatest blessing God could ever give you?