Today Derek explains that God is behind and in control of the whole universe. He controls the stars, human history, the nations, and our individual lives. More important still, God has a plan for each one of our lives and He is working these out just as surely as He is controlling every other area of the universe.
It’s good to be with you again sharing with you precious insights out of Scripture that have made the difference between success and failure in my life and can do the same in yours.
The title for my talks this week is “Secure in God’s Choice.”
In my talk yesterday I explained that God Himself is both the beginning and the ending. Behind the entire universe there is a person, a Creator, who is also a Father. And when we see this it gives us a totally new perspective on ourselves, our life, on everything that goes around us. You see, everything has its source and its fulfillment in God.
In simple but profound words Paul has summed this up in Romans 11:36. Speaking about God he says:
“For from him and through him and to him are all things.” (NIV)
I am impressed by the fact that in the English there is not one word in that whole verse that is more than one syllable. There are twelve words of one single syllable and yet you could not say anything more important or more profound than those words tell us. “For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things.” Everything comes from God, everything comes through God and everything comes to its fulfillment in God.
Today we are going to catch just a glimpse of God’s supreme, sovereign control over the entire universe. There is nothing in the universe that God does not control from the greatest to the smallest. We will just look at some statements in scripture that point this out to us.
God controls the stars. In Psalm 147:4-5, the psalmist says:
“He [that is God] determines the number of the stars [and we know they are billions and billions] and calls them each by name. Great is our Lord and mighty in power: his understanding has no limit.” (NIV)
No limit to God’s knowledge, to God’s understanding. There is nothing that escapes His attention. And then the prophet Isaiah says in Isaiah 40:26:
“Lift your eyes and look to the heavens; who created all these? [And he is speaking primarily about the starry hosts.] He who brings out the starry host one by one, and calls them each by name. [How that impresses me! God deals with every star individually. He calls each star by its name.] Because of his great power and mighty strength, not one of them is missing.” (NIV)
What keeps the stars in place? God, His power, His knowledge, His strength. In this connection I would like to read just some words from my book, Chords From David’s Harp, which is also my special offer this week. Commenting on those verses in Psalm 147:4-5, “He determines the number of the stars and calls them each by name. Great is our Lord and mighty in power; his understanding has no limit.” I write this:
“The psalmist gives us an objective, scientific standard by which to measure the knowledge and power of the Lord. Human astronomers would not dare to calculate the number of stars in the universe. They do tell us, however, that it amounts to billions upon billions. Yet God knows the exact number of the stars. He is in direct contact with each one and He controls its movements. So totally accurate and reliable are the movements of the stars, that astronomers can compute mathematically where each star was thousands of years ago or where it will be thousands of years from now. But let us never attribute this precision to some mindless, impersonal force or ‘law.’ Behind it all is the infinite wisdom of a Creator whose concern extends to the remotest corner of His universe. Furthermore, the psalmist tells us how God controls the stars: He calls them each by name. In the Bible, a name expresses the essential individual character of the person or object named. To God, even the stars are not mere mindless conformations of matter to be identified only by location or magnitude. Each has its own name. Each responds to that name when God calls it.”
God also controls the course of human history. There was a great Gentile king, Nebuchadnezzar, King of Babylon, who had a head-on encounter with the power and the wisdom of God. And God humbled him so that for seven years he was forced to act like a beast, going naked in the fields eating grass, his hair and his nails grew like the hair and the talons of beasts and birds. And then God restored his kingdom to him when he had learned his lesson. And in these words in Daniel 4:34-35, Nebuchadnezzar sums up his lesson about God. He is speaking about the true God, the Lord, and he says this:
“For His dominion is an everlasting dominion. And His kingdom is from generation to generation. All inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing: He does according to His will in the army of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth. No one can restrain His hand or say to Him, ‘What have you done?’” (NKJ)
He is totally sovereign in the affairs of men. All kingdoms, all governments, all nations are answerable to Him. He disposes of them according to His wisdom. He raises them up, He puts them down. He enlarges them and then He reduces them again. He is in total control. Human history is not a series of unplanned events that no one understands and no one controls. Behind it all is the same person who is behind the whole universe: God, the Creator, the Creator of the stars, the Creator of man also. “No one can restrain His hand,” Nebuchadnezzar says, “or say to Him, ‘What have you done?’“
No one can frustrate God’s plan. This is applied to nations in Psalm 33:10-11:
“The LORD foils the plans of the nations; he thwarts the purposes of the peoples. [Because they are not in line with His plans and His purpose, of course.] But the plans of the LORD stand firm forever, the purposes of His heart through all generations.” (NIV)
Ultimately, all history will evidence the outworking of God’s eternal plan and purpose and there is no force in human history that can resist or withstand or frustrate the purpose of God.
This is applied also to individuals. In the book of Job we read how Job was permitted to go through tremendous trials and sufferings but in the end he had something that was more valuable than all those sufferings, that made them seem insignificant: a personal revelation of the living God. And after that revelation, Job said this in Job 42:1-2:
“Then Job replied to the LORD: ‘I know that you can do all things: no plan of yours can be thwarted.’” (NIV)
Brothers and sisters, when we come to that place where we really understand that, that God can do all things and that no plan of His can ever be thwarted, there is really no more room for worrying. There is no more room for alarm. Surely that should give us total peace.
God can do all things. No plan of His can be thwarted and furthermore, We who believe in Christ are a part of His plan. Paul makes this very clear in Ephesians 1:11:
“In him [that’s in Jesus Christ] we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will.” (NIV)
That’s a statement to lay hold of. “[God] works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will.” Nothing is outside His control, nothing slips through His fingers, He forgets nothing. He overlooks nothing, He’s perplexed by nothing. He never has an emergency. It’s all under His control.
And everything in our lives, that is, those of us who believe in Jesus Christ, is designed to work out God’s sovereign eternal plan for us. Paul says this in Romans 8:28:
“And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” (NAS)
It doesn’t matter what happens in our lives, we may encounter seeming trials, frustrations, dangers, disappointments, all of us go through things like that. But behind it all we know that God is working everything together for our good.
Let me just say before I close that there are three conditions that we have to meet for that to be fully true.
First of all, we have to love God. This is only for those who love God.
Secondly, we have to be called by God. We have to know our calling, and in ensuing talks I will be saying more about calling.
And thirdly, we have to be walking in God’s purpose for us.
But provided we fulfill those three conditions: that we love God, we’re called by God and walking in our calling, and we’re walking in God’s purpose in our calling; then we know that God causes everything that happens to work together for good.
Let me just sum up what I have said. God controls the stars. He controls human history. He controls the life of individuals. And, above all, He controls and works out His purposes in the lives of those of us who believe in Jesus Christ. He has a plan, it’s a good plan, He began it, He’ll see it through to the end. No one can frustrate it. Let that comfort you. Let that encourage you. Let it put an end to your worrying and your frustration.
Our time is up for today. I’ll be back with you again tomorrow at this same time. Tomorrow I’ll show you that there are seven successive stages in the outworking of God’s plan.