Sermon by Rev. Julius A. Harper, Senior Pastor Santa Clarita Christian Fellowship Church
How Great is Our God
Romans 11:33-36 (NLT)
33 Oh, how great are God’s riches and wisdom and knowledge! How impossible it is for us to understand his decisions and his ways!
34 For who can know the LORD’s thoughts? Who knows enough to give him advice?
35 And who has given him so much that he needs to pay it back?
36 For everything comes from him and exists by his power and is intended for his glory. All glory to him forever! Amen.
May the Lord add a blessing to the reading and the hearing of HIS holy and mighty word.
This is the first Sunday of June 2018 AND a day of wonder and celebration as we mark the our 22nd year in Ministry.
It is also the ½ waypoint of this year AND we are continuing in our studies through the epistle written to the church at Rome.
I want to thank you again for your prayers for this church over the years and your prayers on behalf of those who are in the ministry of sharing the word of God.
Your prayers are a blessing to everyone who studies and prepares and seeks to feed the people of God and to grow in HIS word.
Keep on doing that. Keep on praying for this church. Keep praying for those who preach and teach the word.
Today we pick up our studies, at a wonderful point where Paul teaches and speaks to the issue of God’s greatness.
You may recall that in our last sermon, entitled God’s great plan we learned of the incredible plan of God concerning the nation of Israel.
We learned that you and I as Gentiles were actually experiencing a time when we as wild olive branches would actually be grafted into the family of God.
The natural tree ISREAL, was set aside and will be set aside for a season, but this situation, this blindness in which the nation of Israel rejects Jesus as the messiah is only a temporary condition.
It is temporary, because God in his divine plan will through the great deliverer, restore the nation of Israel and there will be a great turning of the people, who open up their eyes to Jesus Christ and embrace him as Lord.
Today the topic of the sermon looks at and celebrates the greatness of our God.
Now clearly, no amount of words, nor could anything we could say or sing could capture or aptly describe him, but I believe that you will, just as I did, find a blessing in the celebration of our great God as noted in these five points, that are outlined in Paul’s letter.
If you are ready to walk with me through this, say AMEN
Our Great God is…..
- A God of unmatched riches, wisdom and knowledge.
Romans 11:33a (NLT)
33a Oh, how great are God’s riches and wisdom and knowledge!
Psalm 135:5-6 (NKJV)
5 For I know that the LORD is great, And our Lord is above all gods.
6 Whatever the LORD pleases He does, In heaven and in earth, In the seas and in all deep places.
Psalm 147:5 (NLT)
5 How great is our Lord! His power is absolute! His understanding is beyond comprehension!
Isaiah 40:28 (NLT)
28 Have you never heard? Have you never understood? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of all the earth. He never grows weak or weary. No one can measure the depths of his understanding.
Our great God is a God who knows everything and his wisdom is absolute.
He is wise and complete in his knowledge about every detail.
He understands every dimension of everything that has ever started, or will start.
He knows the complete details of every beginning and every end and every pause.
He is unmatched in is wisdom.
His knowledge is unrestricted and immeasurable at level which can only be described as infinite.
He is unrestricted in every aspect of everything.
He is omniscient, which means that he sees everything and he is knowledgeable about everything
His wisdom is boundless and pervading into the smallest details.
His understanding is marvelous and excellent at a level that can only be described as impeccable, incontrovertible, faultless and un-impeachable.
A God of unmatched wisdom and knowledge concerning US, who has never the less, in spite of that knowledge, decided to love us and care for us, from the storehouse of his incredible grace and mercy.
This brothers and Sisters, is too much for me to handle.
It’s too wonderful; it is so over whelming that all I can do is to sign deeply within myself.
God who is the maker of heaven and earth, chooses to hear our faintest cry, in spite of the fact that we are sinful and he knows everything about us.
Our Great God secondly is…..
- A God who is beyond our ability to understand.
Romans 11:33b (NLT)
33b How impossible it is for us to understand his decisions and his ways!
Job 9:10 (NKJV)
10 He does great things past finding out, Yes, wonders without number.
Job 9:10 (MSG)
10 We’ll never comprehend all the great things he does; his miracle-surprises can’t be counted.
Isaiah 55:8 (NLT)
8 “My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the LORD. “And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine.
To me this second point is both reassuring and humbling.
You see Julius A. Harper Sr. likes to think of himself as a pretty smart guy. You may be the same my brother or Sister; I know that I am not the only one in here who thinks that they can think.
Now truth of the matter is that some folks want a God that they can understand and figure out, but for me I am one who celebrates and embraces the fact that our God is a God who ways are far beyond anything we can understand.
I like what the writer said in the message translation of Job chapter 9:10. It said and I quote “We’ll never comprehend all the great things he does; his miracle-surprises can’t be counted”
That particular passage resonated with me and I believe that it also speaks to some of you here listening today, because our great God has done some things and treated you to come miracle surprises in your life that simply blew your mind.
God did some stuff that was like WOW…this is beyond anything that I could have even planned and God you just did this like…… POW
I like the fact that our great God, does things and that he operates on a level that is way up above my head.
A level that takes into account HIS unmatched wisdom and his unrestricted knowledge about everything.
Think about that for a moment and let that sink in.
Think about HIS ability and his wisdom and his power, versus our own lack of ability to understand and the ridiculousness of our actually trying to get him to clear his decisions and his ways, through us.
It is impossible for you.
It is impossible for any human being to understand his decisions and his ways, but because he loves us, sometimes he will give insights and information.
That is what the gift of the word and the preaching of the word is all about.
It is NOT about me entertaining you, it’s about God giving us some info.
He may not give you the entire plan and all of the details associated therewith because he knows, that you and I couldn’t handle it.
He is not going to reveal things to you that are way above your head, but he will give you the tools and the ways of escape and the knowledge to keep yourself from falling into sin and judgment.
Now this is where the issue of humility is required.
I told you that Julius Harper likes to think of himself as a pretty smart cookie, but in order for me to tie into the power of the God who’s knowledge and ability far outreaches my own, I must put my wisdom to the side and humbly submit to him, in obedience.
The words says that we must lean not on our own understanding but in ALL our ways, we must acknowledge HIM and HE will direct our paths”
This is where the rubber meets the road for you, my upscale talented degree holding resident of this awesome town called Santa Clarita.
God is above our ability to understand him in terms of the total picture of his decisions and ways.
Even though you may not understand why he is saying NO to that relationship that you are lusting after, because he is God he simply can say no and the fact that you may not understand……MEANS nothing.
God’s wisdom and knowledge and directives are not subject to the understanding of MAN or the approval and buy-in of man.
What he calls us to “is to express faith” in his wisdom as DEMONSTRATED in our obedience to HIS word.
I like the fact that our great God, operates on a God level.
And in order for us as believers to access the features and benefits of that, we must humble ourselves and not be offended by the fact that God dismisses our wisdom, but rather we must take comfort and assurance in the fact that he operates on a level that is way, way, way, way up there, because he is God.
Our Great God 3rdly is…..
- A God who needs no counselor.
Romans 11:34 (NLT)
34 For who can know the LORD’s thoughts? Who knows enough to give him advice
Job 21:22 (NKJV)
22 “Can anyone teach God knowledge, Since He judges those on high?
Isaiah 40:13 (NLT)
13 Who is able to advise the Spirit of the LORD? Who knows enough to give him advice or teach him?
Isaiah 40:13-14 (MSG)
13 Who could ever have told GOD what to do or taught him his business?
14 What expert would he have gone to for advice, what school would he attend to learn justice? What god do you suppose might have taught him what he knows, (or) showed him how things work?
This third point is one that can pretty much preach itself.
Our great God is a God who needs no counselor, yet we often find ourselves acting in ways, praying in ways and speaking in ways, which are in complete defiance of this reality.
I won’t ask you to raise your hand or to admit publically, that you have been guilty of trying to tell God what to do.
But God is so merciful and wonderful and patient, that he doesn’t slap us, he doesn’t get offended…and he hasn’t punished US for such arrogance YET.
Paul here in this teaching reminds us and assures us, that our great God is a God who needs no counselor.
God can say this about himself, but no person could make such a claim.
It would be the height of arrogance and it would be completely untrue, but truth be told that this is how some folks think about themselves; they think that they know it all, but it is an arrogant lie.
I don’t care what kind of degree you have. You as a person can always be taught something and someone always knows something that you don’t
But our God because he is God, needs no counselor. He doesn’t have to bounce anything off of any body, but himself.
Who could give God advice? Who could give God insights and knowledge, since he already knows everything?
I like the message translation and how the writer points out the ridiculousness of someone actually trying to teach God about HIS business.
What school would he go to in order to learn what is just and what is fair and right?
Obviously It’s a silly question but it speaks to a truth about people who question God and try to give God advice and direction.
Think about your prayers and challenge yourself with a tough question about how much telling and advising you may be doing, as opposed to listening.
When you pray, even when you think you know what is happening or what is needed, have the courage and the faith to say Lord God, this is what I think, but I know better than to trust myself, Lord, let it be your will and NOT my will.
Let it be not according to my desires, but Father from the abundance of your great knowledge do what you know to be best and please do so independent of my words or thoughts or desires.
Let your kingdom come and your will be done on earth, in my life, in my family and let it so be Lord Jesus, according to and from the abundant resources of your unlimited wisdom and GODNESS.
Our Great God 4thy is…..
- A God who is not beholden to anyone.
Romans 11:35 (NLT)
35 And who has given him so much that he needs to pay it back?
Job 35:7 (NKJV)
7 If you are righteous, what do you give Him? Or what does He receive from your hand?
Job 41:11 (NLT)
11 Who has given me anything that I need to pay back? Everything under heaven is mine.
Titus 3:5 (NLT)
5 he saved us, not because of the righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He washed away our sins, giving us a new birth and new life through the Holy Spirit.
Again in this 4th point I cannot help having the feeling of stating the obvious, that being that our great God doesn’t owe anything to anyone, nor can he be indebted or obligated to anyone on any level.
Paul the writer in Romans 11:35 rhetorically asks, who has given him so much, that he (meaning God) needs to pay it back.
God simply says in Job 41:11 and I quote “ Everything under heaven is mine”, and then in Ezekiel chapter 18 he says and I quote all souls are mine.
First thought: Man can give nothing to God, which was not first given to him.
Second thought: God owes nothing to man, but man owes God big time.
He saved us not because of the righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy.
He washed away our sins, giving us a new birth and new life through the Holy Spirit.”
He blesses us because of HIS goodness. He prospers us, because of his unmerited favor and therefore God is not beholden to anyone.
As I stand here this morning I am aware that not everyone who is listening to what I am saying actually believes this.
And I am particularly sensitive to the hearts and minds of the unsaved who may be sitting here in the church house or connected to us electronically.
I know the rebellious and prideful workings of your heart, so I want to make this clear to you on this Sunday morning or whatever day it may be, when you hear this word…
Don’t you think for a minute that God has got to prove himself to you?
God doesn’t owe you anything.
I praise God for allowing us to see our 22nd year in Ministry. In the 18 years that we’ve been in this location, we’ve seen thousands of folks come through those doors.
Some time you’ll see folks grace the doors of the church and they come in and sit down with their hands folded and their necks stretched out, as though they are customers at a presentation, waiting to be sold.
And to such a mindset and attitude I can tell you with 100% certainty that God is not going to sell you.
God is not here to beg you, but he is here to LOVE you.
And he offers you in invitation and a gift from the abundance of HIS great mercy.
The day that you hear his voice and the day that you are able to understand the simple power of the gospel, you must embrace that day as a blessing from almighty God himself, who is actually the one who gives you the ability to hear and understand the gospel.
If it were not for the mercy of God, you couldn’t even understand the gospel.
This is the crazy thing that we need to grasp about the entire salvation process; God himself, draws sinful men and women, boys and girls to the cross of his only Son, and he, as a gift, gives them the ability to express a saving faith in him.
He saved us, not because of the righteous things we had done.
He saves unwashed sinners who belong in a devil’s hell, not because he owes us, but because of his mercy.
He washed away our sins, having done that for this US, not out of guilt or obligation, but strictly and completely on the basis of HIS love.
God loves you baby, that is why he chose and saved each of us and that is why HE is drawing you.
You didn’t come here by accident, no it was God who orchestrated time and space so that you would encounter HIS SON.
5th and finally…
Our Great God is…..
- A God who is the source of all and through whom all things exist.
Romans 11:36a-c (NLT)
36a-c For everything comes from him and exists by his power and is intended for his glory.
1 Corinthians 8:6 (NLT)
6 But we know that there is only one God, the Father, who created everything, and we live for him. And there is only one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom God made everything and through whom we have been given life.
Colossians 1:16 (NKJV)
16 For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him.
We draw our sermon to a close, as we discuss and celebrate our great God who is the source and end of all things.
In him, says Colossians were all things created.
This is such an awe-inspiring proclamation that it defies our ability, to speak it.
Our God is everything. He is the source code, if I could use that language for the programmers and computer geeks out there.
He is the originator and the instigator, from who all spiritual and physical reality not only emerged, but also is held.
In him, the world that we see is sustained by HIS mighty power, you’ll see that idea reflected in Hebrews chapter 1:3
Without him, nothing that exists would exist.
It all came though him. It all exists for him.
For his pleasure.
Not because he needed a world, not because he needed the Angelic beings, but he simply made these things and beings for his pleasure.
You and I as believers have got to embrace and flow in this reality; for the word tells us that it’s always been about him and his pleasure.
YES he saved you because he loved you, but HIS love expresses the grandeur and greatness of HIS glory.
He loves us and created us to exist in him.
He loved us and created us to exist in this reality and he calls us to be with him in heaven because the splendor and greatness of God’s honor would be reflected in you and I, shining like little gems and precious stones around the throne of God.
Shining, in the presence of his brightness.
Shining in the light of a glorious and splendid God.
It’s all about HIM.
He chose US to occupy a place of honor and dignity, that we might proclaim the praises of him, who has called us out of darkness and into his marvelous light.
It’s enough to take your breath away.
God …….you are the name above all names.
You are worthy of our praise
And our hearts will sing, how great is our God