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Your God is Too Small, Part 2

Summit Life / J.D. Greear
The Truth Network Radio
June 26, 2023 9:00 am

Your God is Too Small, Part 2

Summit Life / J.D. Greear

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June 26, 2023 9:00 am

Conflict isn’t anything new. It’s as much a part of life as breathing! And while most of us run from conflict, what if conflict is the very thing God wants to use to shape our lives?

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Today on Summit Life with J.D. Greer. For another week of solid biblical teaching here on Summit Life with J.D.

Greer. As always, I'm your host, Molly Vidovitch. You know, conflict isn't anything new. And sadly, it's often as much a part of life as breathing is.

Am I right? And while most of us tend to run from conflict, what if we started viewing it as one of the things that God wants to use to shape our character? That's our subject today as Pastor J.D. continues our new teaching series called Not God Enough. If you've missed the first part of this message from last week, you can listen free of charge online or download the unedited message transcript at J.D.

Greer dot com. Pastor J.D. is teaching from the Book of Job with a message he's titled Your God is Too Small.

Let's rejoin him now. I want to unpack the experience of the man in the Bible who probably had more questions for God than anybody else I know of. In fact, this man's name has become synonymous with doubt and confusion and despair. That man's name is Job. We're going to be in Chapter 38.

So let me give you just a quick overview of Chapters 1 to 37, the Cliff Notes version of it. Job 1-1 says pretty much everything we know about Job. We don't know much about Job. All we're told in Job 1-1 is that Job is a blameless and upright man, which is a Hebrew way of saying he was a really swell guy. Well, then right after this brief two verse introduction, we get suddenly whisked off to heaven where God is apparently having a staff meeting. And among God's staff is a particularly feisty fellow called the satan. And the satan raises a critical challenge. He says, you know, God, the only reason that people serve you is that it's in their own self-interest. And so God says, OK, OK. All right, satan, let's take Job.

You take everything in his life from him that he loves and you'll see that he values me just for me. And so in the next two chapters, that's exactly what happens. Satan takes every single thing from Job that he loves. At this point in the narrative, as you're reading this, you should be asking, you should be going, wait, what? Why in the world would God allow this? And then we would expect the rest of the book of Job to provide an answer to that question.

But that is not what we get. The point after 37 chapters is this. The wisdom, all the wisdom of the ancients has been spent, yet the mystery of suffering remains. And then finally, finally, chapter 38, God shows up and Job says, at last, I'm finally going to get some answers. But no, instead, God shows up and does not give an answer at all. He simply starts to ask Job a bunch of his own questions. He asked Job's things like chapter 38, Job, were you around when I shaped the earth? Job, where were you when I spread out the constellations? And where were you when I knit the stars together? Job, while we're at it, where do you think storms come from?

Can you even predict when the next storm is going to come? And then there's some even really odd random questions in there like, Job, how much do you know about the copulation patterns of goats? God is saying to Job, Job, if you can't even really fathom the mystery behind natural things, are you really in a place to understand and evaluate eternal things? You see, the assumption that Job and all of his friends are working off of is that they know enough about the world to analyze and understand God's ways. But God says to them, actually, your perspective on the world is quite puny.

Mine is huge. You don't even understand simple things like constellation, creation, or ostrich ugliness. Then finally, chapter 40, God says, while we're at it, Job, do you really want to run the world for a day?

You really want to punish every little act of injustice in every single instance? Job, do you know how many different things are happening in the world at one time? And do you know how many different things are interconnected? And then the book ends. And God ends up, by the way, the last few verses, restoring everything to Job, in fact, sevenfold. Yet even after the Restoration, we never really get satisfying answers to the question of why all this happened in the first place.

Neither did Job. The book ends with mystery for him. All we get from God is more questions. But these questions make five crucial points about the size of God. Number one, God says to Job through these questions, my power, Job, is sovereign. In this book, we see God's absolute power over creation, over the angels, even over Satan himself. Y'all, we see that Satan does nothing except buy permission. And so what you're seeing about Job's suffering, this is kind of the theme of it, is that the ultimate purpose in Job's suffering is to bring glory to God.

God was demonstrating his glory to Satan and all the angels through Job's suffering. And I know that when you hear that, some of you have a hard time with that. And you say that's a hard thing to live with, that God is using my suffering for his glory. But I'm telling you, listen, that that is the secret to a happy and fulfilled life, is for you to understand that you and all the world exist first and foremost for God's glory.

Because when you embrace that, you're going to find a joy and a satisfaction that you've never known. So he says, number one, my power is sovereign. Number two, he tells Job, my perspective is infinite.

My perspective is infinite. The climax of God's argument comes in chapter 42, verse 3, when God says to Job, who is it that dares question my judgment without the knowledge to be able to do so? In other words, Job, if you don't even understand the mystery behind natural phenomenon like storms and stars, are you really in a place to understand the purposes of the eternal God above them? If God's wisdom is as high above our wisdom as his power must be above our power, then it should be a rational conclusion that there are certain things about God and his purposes that are going to escape our immediate ability to comprehend them at least easily. Do a thought experiment with me. If there is a God, let's say that you came in today and you're not normally a church person, and you came with a friend, and you don't even believe there is a God.

Okay, just still go through this thought experiment with me. If there is a God, how much power must he have in order to create the universe that we live in? Now, I want you to think about the fact that there are at least 3,000 billion trillion stars, each one putting out roughly the same amount of energy every second as a trillion megaton atom bombs. These stars, they say, exist in an expanse that we simply cannot comprehend.

The Hubble telescope is now sending back faint infrared images of galaxies we didn't even know about, estimated some of them at 12 billion light years away, which means if you were to get in a spaceship and travel 186,282 miles every second in 12 billion years, you would arrive at the edge of that galaxy. And they say there are likely many, many more beyond that. All of these 3,000 billion trillion stars and all this expanse is created in a single moment with a single word from God. That is God's power. Now, compare that to my power. I can't lift my mattress over my head. But seriously, my wife and I tried the other day, and it did not turn out well, okay? Don't try to flip that thing.

We had to get several friends involved. You know, or I've told you this before, it's like my rowing machine. I have a rowing machine, and one of the settings on it you can attract the number of watts that you're producing, which I don't even understand.

Like, I get like meters rowed, that makes sense. I get calories burned, that makes sense. But watts, why is that setting on there?

It's there just to humiliate me, and that's why it's there. So I flipped it to it the other day, and I was like, how many watts can I produce? I get up to 60 watts, and I'm like, I'm lighting a light bulb.

You know, 60 watts, whoa. You know, how long can I sustain this? I get to two minutes, and the next thing I remember, my wife is reviving me with smelling salts, you know, several minutes later. And with giving all my energy, I can light a light bulb for two solid minutes. God can speak 3000 billion trillion stars into existence.

I can't keep a light bulb lit for more than two minutes without passing out. Now, I want you to think if that's the extent of how high, much higher God's power is above mine, if there is any analogy at all to how much higher His wisdom is above mine, then doesn't it make sense that there are going to be a lot of things that may escape my immediate ability to grasp them and to understand them? It's just rational to conclude such a thing. It is entirely possible that God has some amazingly beautiful purposes that He is working out that we just cannot see yet. Bart Ehrman, one of the most famous skeptics over here at UNC Chapel Hill, says that he lost his faith because of the presence of purposeless evil in the world. There is a huge assumption behind that statement, purposeless evil. And that assumption is that if there is a purpose, then he would be wise enough to detect it. And I would just say to you, it is rather arrogant to assume with our very limited pea-brain knowledge that we would be able to automatically perceive every purpose of an infinitely wise God. God is not just a slightly smarter version of you because He's not just a slightly bigger version of you. It's like we imagine God as this being with these huge earth-shaping star-creating muscles and this itty-bitty teeny-tiny head with a little brain not that much bigger than ours. No, God is something altogether different and His wisdom defies my ability to understand it.

And when Job gets a glimpse of that, just a glimpse, here's what he says at the end of verse three. Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things that are too wonderful, things that are on a different plane for me to know. In other words, I didn't realize how dumb and how limited my perspective was, but God, now that I see how big you are, I realized that I had the wrong posture in my questions. Y'all, your questions are great.

There's nothing wrong with your questions. God invites you to ask the questions, but when you ask them, you ought to at least approach God with a sense of how big He is and let that shape the posture that you have in asking God to understand. Number four, God says to Job, or number three, my purpose is guaranteed. My purpose is guaranteed. One of the most encouraging things in this book is we see that because God's power is sovereign and because His perspective is infinite, we see that even Satan's attempts to attack God's people only end up furthering God's purposes.

I mean, y'all think about it. All of Satan's best attacks on Job yielded for us a book that has provided encouragement to countless believers down to the centuries. Do you really feel like that was Satan's end game when he started this whole thing?

This book is a big old gotcha shoved right in Satan's face. Don't we see this all throughout scripture? Satan's strategy to defeat the sons of God only serves to provide salvation for the sons of men. We see it in the book of Acts, don't we?

Every single time Satan unleashes his power against the church, it doesn't lead to the church's destruction, it leads to the church's expansion. Maybe the best illustration of that, of course, is the cross. That was when Satan showed up and killed the son of God. If there was ever a time when it looked like God was out of control, it was at the cross. Yet we see in the worst moment of human history, that was when God was actually doing His best work, which is why we never know whether to call it Bad Friday or Good Friday. I mean, it's Bad Friday in one sense because the son of God got killed. It's Good Friday in another sense because I got saved because Jesus paid my sin debt.

God takes even the worst activity of Satan and He turns it for His good. And believer, God is doing the same thing with your struggles. You're listening to Summit Life with J.D.

Greer. For more information about this ministry, visit us online at jdgreer.com. We'll get back to today's teaching in a moment, but first I'm excited to tell you again about the latest resource that we are offering our faithful supporters. It's a book called Scent, Living a Life That Invites Others to Jesus by Heather and Ashley Holliman. This husband and wife duo have written an incredibly helpful book about how God is always at work around us, drawing people to Himself, and how He invites us to be a part of their salvation story. This book will walk you through some practical ways to be on the lookout for doors God is opening for gospel conversations in your life. One of the best things they share is the four best questions you can use to start a gospel conversation. We could all use that, right? We're sending a copy to any of our listeners who support the ministry of Summit Life with a gift of $35 or more right now.

You can give today by calling 866-335-5220 or visiting us online at jdgreer.com. Now let's get back to today's teaching here on Summit Life. Once again, here's Pastor JD. Can't you already see some of the good things that God has brought through times of suffering and trial in your life? I thought here are the words of the British journalist, Malcolm Muggeridge, who, before he passed away, he was in his mid-70s, he made this statement, and I just totally resonated with it, you probably will too. Contrary to what I would have expected, he said, "'I look back now on experiences that at the time seemed especially devastating and painful with particular satisfaction.' Indeed, I can say with complete truthfulness that everything of value that I've learned in my 75 years in this world, everything that has truly enhanced and enlightened my existence has come through affliction, not through comfort and ease."

Can't you say the same thing? Can't you look back at different chapters in your life where you looked at the heavens and said, "'God, where are you?'" But now, just 10 years later, 20 years later, 50 years later, you're like, I see what God was doing. God was actually working in me.

He was taking out something in my life that was hurting me, or he was replacing something and it was painful, but it was absolutely necessary. Y'all, here's the perspective of Job. The perspective of Job is, if already we can look back, already we can look back and see a good purpose for some of the suffering in our lives.

Don't we think, given infinite time and infinite perspective, we're gonna see a reason for all of it? You see, sometimes what God is doing, sometimes the purpose behind what he is doing is something is working in you. You have to get your mind around the different kinds of suffering we see in the Bible.

Let me just use the Old Testament. There are at least three different kinds of suffering in the Old Testament. Sometimes, God lets us suffer in order to chastise us or bring us back to the right way. That's what was happening with Jonah.

Jonah's going the wrong direction. God sends a fish and he makes him suffer to get him back in the right place. A second kind of suffering is when God lets us suffer so that he can work salvation in somebody else. That's what we see with Joseph. Joseph sold into slavery and goes to prison so that he can bring salvation to the sons of Israel. A third kind of suffering is where God lets a believer suffer in order to purify his or her heart and help him love God more sincerely.

That's what we see happening here with Job. Suffering is often how God shapes you for himself. Martin Luther said, he said to believers, he said, assume the moment that God chooses you, he lets the devil afflict you in order to turn you into a real doctor of the word.

Luther said, and I quote, I credit the devil, the pope, and all my other persecutors with my deep knowledge of the word of God. Through the devil's raging, they've actually turned me into a fairly good preacher, driving me into the gospel to depths I never would have reached without their afflictions. Y'all, this is what the gospel is all about, Satan's strategy to defeat the son of God only turned out to bring salvation to the sons of men.

Satan's continued strategy to bring suffering to the sons and daughters of God only served to bring salvation to the sons and daughters of men. It is what God has been doing, what he did with Job, what he was doing at the cross, what he was doing in Acts, and believer, it is what he is doing in your suffering. Number four, number four of these questions, God chose Job, my promise is everlasting.

My promise is everlasting. My favorite verse in the book, hands down, Job 19, 25. Job says, I know, I know that my redeemer lives. Man, I know that in the end, he will stand on the earth. Few things about that verse.

A little phrase there, in the end. In the end means in eternity. The last scene of the book of Job I mentioned was God restoring to Job all that he had lost sevenfold. Seven is the Hebrew number for perfection or completion or eternity, so what you're seeing is a glimpse of what God will do for the believer in eternity when he just not only restores what has been lost, he restores it in a way that is perfect, in a way that is overwhelming.

Like many believers, I have clung to Psalm 16, 11 throughout my life. Psalm 16, 11, in your presence is the fullness of joy that your right hander pleasures forevermore. Fullness of joy means joy that could not get any stronger. Pleasures forevermore means pleasures that could not last any longer. It means that where I'm headed in eternity is going to make everything I experienced here on earth seem like absolutely nothing. How long is eternity? The whole life that you've lived so far is gonna be to you like the first few seconds of a never-ending day. Your life is just a brief ellipsis compared to the expanse of eternity.

Eye has not seen, nor is ear heard, nor has he even entered into the heart of man what God has prepared for those who love him. Y'all, that means that compared to eternity, anything, the worst things that we experience here compared to eternity are really just nothing. And Mother Teresa, you famously compared it to, she said compared to eternity, the worst suffering on earth here is like nothing, it's like one bad night, she said, in a cheap hotel. You've had a bad night in a cheap hotel, right? I've told you about some of my bad nights in cheap hotels. Had a lot of them when I lived overseas.

Try to cut corners and stay in a cheap hotel. I remember staying in one in South America where a scorpion walked across the floor. And I thought I probably should have paid the extra $10 for the deluxe room. My wife and I, my family were trying to cut corners on a vacation, and so we thought we stayed in the cheapest hotel we could find in a city we were driving through. And that was a terrible mistake, because we got in there and it was dirty, and every time the people above us flushed a toilet, water would seep through our ceiling.

Our son was in a crib and it was dripping on his face, and it was an awful experience. We got hardly no sleep, but now, now it's just a joke. I tell it and I laugh about it.

It wasn't fun then, but it's funny now, right? Suffering now is, yes, I'm not trying to take away from it. But I'm just telling you that compared to eternity, all of our suffering, she says, is like one bad night in a cheap hotel because it swallowed in the joys of eternity, which is why C.S.

Lewis said, well, I love this. If you look at this world as a place to find happiness, if you look at this world as a place to become happy, you will always be miserable and confused. But if you look at this world as primarily training for the next world, then you're gonna find purpose and joy in your life. That's what God says to Job, my promise is everlasting. Number five, my presence is pledged.

My presence is pledged. I know that my Redeemer lives. I know that in the end, He will stand on the earth.

I wonder, y'all, what Job was thinking about when he wrote that verse, because y'all, listen, we know even more, don't we, than Job did. Because we saw our Redeemer come and stand on earth with us. And why was our Redeemer here? Why did Jesus come?

We know that He came to take our punishment in our place so that we would never have to be separated from God again or ever worry that He was angry with us or that He had abandoned us. Yes, there are some times that I am wounded, but He was wounded for me so that I could be eternally healed. Yes, sometimes I feel abandoned, but He was abandoned for me so that I could be eternally embraced. And that means that His mercy is ever present with me. And that means that I never have to worry about what He is doing in my life. He stands by my side because He stood in my place. My Redeemer stood on earth in my place, took death for me, and now promises to stand by my side forever. So I love the words of A.W.

Tozer here who said this. He said, with the goodness of God to desire our highest welfare. Believer, that's what you have. The goodness of God to desire your highest welfare.

The wisdom of God to plan it and the power of God to achieve it. What do we lack from what possibly could we fear? Y'all, that means that I may not know exactly what God is doing in my pain. I may not know what God is doing in my pain, but the cross shows me, it shows me what my suffering cannot mean.

My suffering, the cross shows me my suffering cannot mean that God has either forsaken me or that God has lost control. Think about the cross. What does the cross show you? The cross shows you how committed God was to you, how much He loved you. The cross shows you the extent He was willing to go to buy you back. And Paul says in Romans 8, he said, believer, believer, if God did this for you and you were His enemy, how much more will He not do for you now that you are His son or daughter? That's the first thing the cross shows me. Second thing it shows me is that God is not out of control. Because if there were ever a time where it looked like God was out of control, it was at the cross. Yet you and I see from this perspective that it was at that very moment that God was doing the very best of His work in me. And that is what He is doing right now in your pain. It means you may be in the 37 chapters with Job, you may be saying to God, why?

I don't understand. But why aren't you answering this prayer? It might feel to you like a dark night of the soul, but I can tell you because your Redeemer has lived and He has stood on the earth and He stands by your side today, I can tell you for sure that His presence is with you and He is working resurrection through you, just like He did through Jesus and just like He promised to do for Job. Your Redeemer came and stood by your side and stood in your place and now stands with you eternally. So in your pain, you have His presence and you've got His promise. That was God's answer to Job. My power is sovereign, my perspective is infinite, my purpose is guaranteed, my promise is everlasting and my presence is pledged. No matter where you are in your story, we know the ending. God will not leave you or forsake you. That's great news today on Summit Life, the Bible teaching ministry of Pastor J.D.

Greer. You know, Jesus' Great Commission, the last instructions He gave His disciples before ascending into heaven, calls us to go and make disciples, but that requires us to be intentional about having gospel-centered conversations with the people that God has put around us. So this month, we chose our premium resource specifically because we believe it'll help you do that both practically and strategically. It's a book called Scent, Living a Life That Invites Others to Jesus by Heather and Ashley Holliman. In Scent, you'll learn how to introduce gospel conversations throughout the course of your everyday life. You'll find out what kind of gospel witness you are, find ways to pray for the lost and read about some of the best questions to ask anyone in order to jumpstart conversations about the gospel. We'd love to send you a copy with your gift of $35 or more to this ministry. To give, call us right now at 866-335-5220, or visit jdgrier.com. And remember, our monthly gospel partners automatically receive all of the resources that we feature here on Summit Life. So join the family right now by signing up for an ongoing monthly gift of $35 or more. I'm Molly Vidovitch.

Have you ever tried to bargain with God when you're afraid or in a bind? If so, then you definitely don't want to miss Tuesday here on Summit Life with J.D. Greer. Today's program was produced and sponsored by J.D. Greer Ministries.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-06-26 11:05:04 / 2023-06-26 11:16:12 / 11

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