Feb 16, 2003 AM
Miles City Wesleyan Church
Miles City Mt.
The Power of God:
In Providing for His Children
I always find it amazing that there are people out there who believe that God has nothing to do with His Creation. There are even religions which will tell you that ‘yes there is a God and after He created everything He does nothing but sit back to wait and see what will happen.’ This is crazy! Our God is greater than that and He is still in charge, still performing miracles, He still has the power and He uses it in providing for His children.
John Maxwell writes in his book, Partners in Prayer;
In the summer of 1876, grasshoppers nearly destroyed the crops in Minnesota. SO in the spring of 1877, farmers were worried. They believed that the dreadful plague would once again visit them and again destroy the rich wheat crop, bringing ruin to thousands of people.
The situation was so serious that Governor John S. Pillsbury proclaimed April 26 as a day of prayer and fasting He urged every man, woman and child to ask God to prevent the terrible scourge. On that April day all schools, shops, stores and offices were closed. There was a reverent, quite hush over all the state. The next day dawned bright and clear. Temperature soared to what they ordinary were in midsummer, which was very unusual for April. Minnesotans were devastated as they discovered billions of grasshopper larvae wiggling to life. For 3 days the unusual heat persisted, and the larvae hatched. It appeared that it wouldn’t be long before they started feeding and destroying the wheat crop. On the fourth day, however the temperature suddenly dropped, and that night frost, covered the entire state. Result - it killed every one of those creeping, crawling pests as surely as if poison or fire had been used, It went down in the history of Minnesota as the day God answered the prayers of the people. That is an awesome story! BUT UNDERSTAND – it was NOT the first and certainly was NOT the last time, that Almighty God answered the prayers of his people.
God is still in the power business. But I want to take a little journey this morning and look at just a few of the ways in which God’s power was used to provide for His children. I’m sure you remember the story of Moses and the children of Israel. I do not mean to belittle these historic events by calling them stories – for they are just that, historic events. I don’t want to talk about all the miracles God performed in getting Pharaoh to let the people go, I want us to look at one specific event in their liberation. Exodus 14. The Israelites were trapped. Pharaoh was closing in on them. In front of them was the Red Sea, behind them was Pharaoh and his army.
You see, As Pharaoh approached, the Israelites looked up, and there were the Egyptians, marching after them. They were terrified and cried out to the LORD. 11 They said to Moses, “Was it because there were no graves in Egypt that you brought us to the desert to die? What have you done to us by bringing us out of Egypt? 12 Didn’t we say to you in Egypt, ‘Leave us alone; let us serve the Egyptians’? It would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the desert!”
13 Moses answered the people, “Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the LORD will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again. 14 The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still.”
Hey Moses, what’s wrong with you – did you think there were no graves in Egypt so you brought us our here to die? Why didn’t you leave us alone like we asked, you got us all thinking that we could be free – and look what we face now. But look what Moses said, “Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the LORD will bring you today. . . The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still.” And that is exactly what happens – here’s the power of my God! “Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and all that night the LORD drove the sea back with a strong east wind and turned it into dry land. The waters were divided, 22 and the Israelites went through the sea on dry ground, with a wall of water on their right and on their left. (Exodus 14:21-22; NIV) They did not go through in the mud and muck – they went through on dry ground. Tell me my God does not care for His children!! The people could have been down there stuck in the mud – but God even dried the ground for them to walk on, making their trip even faster. Now of course we know the outcome – Pharaoh’s army followed the Israelites, but they had a pit of a problem – the wheels came off their chariots as a matter of fact they were in a state of confusion and had decided that they should get away from the Israelites – but it was too late. Remember what God told Moses to tell the people? That they would no longer see the Egyptians again.
Then the LORD said to Moses, “Stretch out your hand over the sea so that the waters may flow back over the Egyptians and their chariots and horsemen.” 27 Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and at daybreak the sea went back to its place. The Egyptians were fleeing toward it, and the LORD swept them into the sea. 28 The water flowed back and covered the chariots and horsemen—the entire army of Pharaoh that had followed the Israelites into the sea. Not one of them survived. (Exodus 14:26-28; NIV)
This is good news for us! With God’s power we can walk on solid ground and not get bogged down in the muck of the world!!
Let’s jump ahead a few years and take a look at an idol made of gold, a king named Nebuchadnezzar and three servants of God named, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. Remember this story? Nebuchadnezzar had an idol made that everyone was to bow down to, if they didn’t they would be thrown into the fiery furnace. Nebuchadnezzar said to them,
if you are ready to fall down and worship the image I made, very good. But if you do not worship it, you will be thrown immediately into a blazing furnace. Then what god will be able to rescue you from my hand?”
16 Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego replied to the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. 17 If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and he will rescue us from your hand, O king. 18 But even if he does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.” (Dan. 3:15-18; NIV)
There is a great deal to learn here about faith. These three understood that their God had the power to do anything and even if He did not save them from death – they would not give up on Him and conform to the ways of the world. Well, this made old Nebuchadnezzar really mad – he had them bound up tight and then had the furnace heated to seven times hotter than normal.
The king’s command was so urgent and the furnace so hot that the flames of the fire killed the soldiers who took up Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, 23 and these three men, firmly tied, fell into the blazing furnace. 24 Then King Nebuchadnezzar leaped to his feet in amazement and asked his advisers, “Weren’t there three men that we tied up and threw into the fire?” They replied, “Certainly, O king.” 25 He said, “Look! I see four men walking around in the fire, unbound and unharmed, and the fourth looks like a son of the gods.” 26 Nebuchadnezzar then approached the opening of the blazing furnace and shouted, “Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, servants of the Most High God, come out! Come here!” (Dan. 3: 22-26; NIV)
And they did just that – they came out and verse 27 tells us: “They saw that the fire had not harmed their bodies, nor was a hair of their heads singed; their robes were not scorched, and there was no smell of fire on them.” Isn’t if amazing that our God even looks after the small details?! For me, I would have just been overjoyed to be out of the furnace – unharmed – but not my God – His power is so great that not even the smell of smoke could be found on them – that’s a small detail, but God sees to it! So with the power of God, not only will we not get bogged down in the muck of the world, we won’t even take on the stench of the world – no matter how much the world turns up the heat on us, we will not be singed nor will we smell like it!
But did you notice one thing about this story, it said, I see four men walking around in the fire, unbound and unharmed. I don’t want to talk about the fourth man in the fire – for God is with us all the time, so this should not surprise us – what I’m talking about is the fact that the only thing apparently burned by the flames were the ropes that bound the three – you see, there is no binding that can hold a child of God!!
And that brings us to one of my favorite stories. Paul and Silas had done something terrible, they had commanded an evil spirit to come out of a girl and for their crime of keeping true to the Lord, they were thrown in prison. But did this make them change their minds? No!! As a matter of fact, they used it as a time of evangelizing for we are told,
About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them. 26 Suddenly there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the prison were shaken. At once all the prison doors flew open, and everybody’s chains came loose. 27 The jailer woke up, and when he saw the prison doors open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself because he thought the prisoners had escaped. 28 But Paul shouted, “Don’t harm yourself! We are all here!” (Acts 16:25-28; NIV)
Paul and Silas had such great faith that even though they had been beaten and thrown into prison, they were still singing praises to God and they were praying to Him – all the rest of the prisoners heard them and were witness to the power of God’s answer to prayer. For the jail shook on its foundation and all the prison doors FLEW open. They didn’t just pop open, the power of God blew them open and He also made everybody’s chains come off. God still has the power!!
So with the power of God,
1) We will not get bogged down in the muck of the world
2) We will not even take on the stench of the world
3) We will not be held by the confinements of the world – for our God can blow the doors off!!
I read about a small Oklahoma town that had two churches and one distillery. Members of both churches complained that the distillery was giving the community a bad imagine. And to make matters worse the owner of the distillery was an out spoken atheist. He didn’t believe in God one bit. The church people had tried unsuccessfully for years to shut down the distillery. So finally they decided to hold a joint Saturday night prayer meeting. They were going to ask God to intervene and settle the matter. The church folks gathered on Saturday night and there was a horrible thunderstorm raging outside and to the delight of the church members lightening hit that old brewery and it burned to the ground. The next morning the sermons in both churches was on the power of prayer. But the insurance adjusters promptly notified the distillery owner that they were not going to pay for the damages because the fire was an act of God and that was an exclusion in the policy. The distillery owner was furious and he sued both churches claiming that they had conspired with God to destroy his business. But the churches denied that they had anything to do with the cause of the fire. The presiding judge opened the trial with theses words: “ I find one thing in this cause most perplexing-we have a situation here where the plaintiff, an atheist is professing his belief in the power of prayer, and the defendants all faithful church members are denying the very same power.”
Do you believe these stories and all the rest that are found in the Word of God? Do you truly believe that God has the power to do these things? Then isn’t it time that we acknowledge His power and stop saying things like, “it just happened” or “it’s coincidence” Let’s start telling people the truth – its because of the power of God. One more thing, if you truly believe these to be true then wouldn’t it make sense that God can forgive sin? He has that power too!! Why not call upon Him today to forgive yours.