God" is the Force of Life!
I watched the Star Wars Trilogy again
a couple of weeks ago. Throughout the stories Luke Skywalker is
encouraged by his Jedi counselor, Obi-Wan Kenobi to get in touch with the
Force. Getting in touch with the force was tantamount to getting in touch
with the good which his instructor recognized as the Force behind all life
forces. To get in touch with the Force was equivalent to tapping into the
force that directed all life. Darth Vader was encouraging Luke Skywalker
to get in touch with the dark side by getting in touch with his negative
feelings, anger, hatred, bitterness, etc. The dark side was equivalent
to seeking to control one’s destiny through resisting the Force.
Winston Churchill said, "The longer one lives,
the more one realizes that everything depends upon chance, and the harder
it is to believe that this omnipotent factor in human affairs arises simply
from the blind interplay of events. Chance, Fortune, Luck, Destiny, Fate,
Providence, seem to me only different ways of expressing the same thing,
to wit, that a man's own contribution to his life story is continually
dominated by an external superior power." (Citation: Winston Churchill
in Winston S. Churchill: Thoughts and Adventures. Christianity Today,
Vol. 41, no. 12.)
Many of the ancients had modern day
ideas about their gods. The reason they sought to worship them was for
health, wealth and prosperity. If the god’s they worshipped were
unable to fulfill their desires they looked for more powerful gods to fill
their needs. They worshipped a multiplicity of gods in an effort to live
as powerful lives as possible. They believed their gods were the forces
directing their lives. They believed the success of their lives was a direct
reflection of the action and power of the gods they worshipped.
Ray Stedman said, "If you want a wonderful
experience, take your New Testament and use a concordance to look up the
two little words, "but God." See how many times human resources have been
brought to an utter end; despair has gripped the heart and pessimism and
gloom has settled upon a people; and there is nothing that can be done.
Then see how the Spirit of God writes in luminous letters, "But God," and
the whole situation changes into victory." (Citation: Ray C. Stedman,
Man of Faith. Christianity Today, Vol. 30, no. 5.)
22 "Men of Israel, listen to
this: Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by miracles,
wonders and signs, which God did among you through him, as you yourselves
know. 23 This man was handed over to you by God's set purpose and foreknowledge;
and you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to
the cross. 24 But God raised him from
the dead, freeing him from the agony of death,
because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him. NIV
27 Talking with him, Peter
went inside and found a large gathering of people. 28 He said to them:
"You are well aware that it is against our law for a Jew to associate with
a Gentile or visit him. But God has
shown me that I should not call any man impure or unclean.
29 So when I was sent for, I came without raising any objection. May I
ask why you sent for me?" NIV
The New Testament recognizes that God
is the force behind all we build in this life.
4 For every house is built
by someone, but God is the builder of
Without God‘s force in our lives we
1 Corinthians 3:5-7
6 I planted the seed, Apollos
watered it, but God made it grow.
Fay Vincent indicated that the line he liked
about power is Edward Bennet William's as he was dying. Someone was teasing
him about all the power and influence he had in Washington. And he said,
"Power? I'm about to meet real power." (Citation: Baseball Commissioner
Fay Vincent in Newsweek (July 20, 1992). Christianity Today,
Vol. 36, no. 11.)
16 And he told them this parable:
"The ground of a certain rich man produced a good crop. 17 He thought to
himself, 'What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.'
18 "Then he said, 'This is what
I'll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will
store all my grain and my goods. 19 And I'll say to myself, "You have plenty
of good things laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be
God said to him, 'You fool! This very night
your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared
21 "This is how it will be with
anyone who stores up things for himself but is not rich toward God." NIV
God is the Force behind all
The focus of the Old Testament is on
God as the very force of all life. We often get caught up in the
historical stories of the Old Testament while losing sight of God. The
stories are about God. They are about what God is doing with the most unlikely
people. The Old Testament is salvation history; i.e., it is about how God
salvages lives. It is filled with stories about how God works in our lives.
Sometimes God’s name is not even mentioned in the stories, but the Jews
understood implicitly that he was there. Often the stories about
what God was doing are so implicit that we may fail to see the hand of
God in them, but he is there, even though he is not explicitly seen.
Israel’s God was much different from
the gods those nations around them worshiped. He was the Almighty
God. He ruled the heavens and the earth; there were no gods besides Jehovah.
He was a God that used good times and bad times to accomplish his purposes.
They saw him as the very force of all life. All the kingdoms of the world
were subject to him.
18 "O king, the Most High God
gave your father Nebuchadnezzar sovereignty and greatness and glory and
splendor. 19 Because of the high position he gave him, all the peoples
and nations and men of every language dreaded and feared him. NIV
Daniel saw God ruling the kingdoms of
the world for the good of the saints. It is little wonder why Daniel
was able to live and survive under some of the most ruthless rulers of
all time during the Babylonian captivity. It was the hand of God that made
27 Then the sovereignty, power
and greatness of the kingdoms under the whole heaven will be handed over
to the saints, the people of the Most High. His kingdom will be an everlasting
kingdom, and all rulers will worship and obey him.' NIV
The psalmists reveled in the fact that
God was the gravitational center of life. God was the force behind their
19 But you, O LORD, be not
O my Strength,
come quickly to help me.
20 Deliver my life from the
my precious life from the power
of the dogs.
21 Rescue me from the mouth
of the lions;
save me from the horns of the
wild oxen. NIV
9 O my Strength,
I watch for you;
you, O God, are my fortress,
10 my loving God. NIV
17 O my
Strength, I sing praise to you;
you, O God, are my fortress,
my loving God. NIV
In the preceding verses the psalmist
refers to God as "O my Strength." The word "Strength" is capitalized
because the word is being used as God’s name. Throughout the Psalms the
writers are looking to God as the strength or force behind their lives.
32 It is God who arms
me with strength
and makes my way perfect. NIV
O LORD, the king rejoices
in your strength.
How great is his joy in the
victories you give! NIV
4 Look to the LORD and
seek his face always. NIV
There is no doubt that the Old Testament
teaches that God is the Force of Life. But is he the Force behind your
life? The story about Joseph is about how God used Joseph, his
family and the Pharaoh to preserve for himself a special people—the descendants
of Abraham. The focus of the story is on God’s graciousness and power.
It is not really about how Joseph responded, or on his brother’s behavior.
The story is about what God was doing to move men and nations to accomplish
his purposes. Most of the time it was done despite their understanding
and without their full cooperation.
9 "Because the patriarchs were
jealous of Joseph, they sold him as a slave into Egypt. But God was
with him 10 and rescued him from all his troubles. He gave Joseph
wisdom and enabled him to gain the goodwill of Pharaoh king of Egypt; so
he made him ruler over Egypt and all his palace. NIV
The truly greats of the Old Testament
understood God was directing their lives. When Joseph understood
it was God directing his life things changed because he chose to point
his life in the direction of God’s purposes.
19 But Joseph said to them,
"Don't be afraid. Am I in the place of God? 20 You intended to harm me,
but God intended it for good to accomplish
what is now being done,
the saving of many lives. 21 So then, don't be afraid. I will provide for
you and your children." And he reassured them and spoke kindly to them.
Joseph says to his brothers, Am I in the place
of God? You intended me harm, but God intended it for good . . . the saving
of many lives." But it doesn’t stop here! He tells his brothers, "Don’t
be afraid that I am going to harm you, for if God did this to me to preserve
your lives, then I must provide for you and your children" (Jim Davis paraphrase).
The only logical conclusion that Joseph could reach was that he must help
accomplish God’s purpose and help him save his descendants. In doing so
he saved himself.
I cannot be fully prepared for a life
of obedience to God through Christ until I learn that God is the force
of my life. God is the force of all life whether one chooses to
obedient or disobedience to his call. God is the force of life. When I
get in touch with the Force of Life I will discover a destiny.
I do to be saved?
"Why do we call grace amazing? Grace is amazing
because it works against the grain of common sense. Hard-nosed common sense
will tell you that you are too wrong to meet the standards of a holy God;
pardoning grace tells you that it's all right in spite of so much in you
that is wrong.
Realistic common sense tells you that you
are too weak, too harassed, too human to change for the better; grace gives
you power to send you on the way to being a better person. Plain common
sense may tell you that you are caught in a rut of fate or futility; grace
promises that you can trust God to have a better tomorrow for you than
the day you have made for yourself." (Citation: Lewis Smedes in
How Can It Be All Right When Everything Is All Wrong? Christianity Today,
Vol. 39, no. 13.)
3 In reply Jesus declared,
"I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born
4 "How can a man be born when
he is old?" Nicodemus asked. "Surely he cannot enter a second time into
his mother's womb to be born!"
5 Jesus answered, "I tell you
the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water
and the Spirit. 6 Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth
to spirit. 7 You should not be surprised at my saying, 'You must be born
again.' 8 The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you
cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone
born of the Spirit."
9 "How can this be?" Nicodemus
Have you ever really struggled with
the task of having to change—I am talking about real change—not superficial
change. I mean change that has to do with what makes you tick.
This is the kind of change Nicodemus is staring in the face. Have you ever
had that kind of change staring you in the face? This kind of change only
comes through God’s power.
Jesus says, "You should not be surprised
at my saying, 'You must be born again.' 8 The wind blows wherever it pleases.
You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it
is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit."
"Too many times we miss so much because we
live on the low level of the natural, the ordinary, the explainable. We
leave no room for God to do the exceeding abundant thing above all that
we can ask or think." (Citation: Vance Havner in the Vance Havner
Quote Book. Christianity Today, Vol. 36, no. 14.)
"Faith does not operate in the realm of the
possible. There is no glory for God in that which is humanly possible.
Faith begins where man's power ends." (Citation: George Muller.
Leadership, Vol. 12, no. 4.)
What must I do to be saved?
I used to answer this question much differently than I do now. I would
tell a person to be baptized. It is an essential step. But we need a more
definitive answer: to be saved you must give your life over to the power
of God. Of course this is what baptism represents. It signifies that you
have turned you life over to God.
6 You see, at just the right
time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. 7 Very
rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone
might possibly dare to die. 8 But God
demonstrates his own love for us in this:
While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. NIV
The greatest weakness among Christians today
is that we are trying to design human systems to do what only God can do.
"When I exert too much effort of the flesh, I'm in trouble. When I stand
aside and let God work, things go differently." (Citation: Bartlett
Hess, Leadership, Vol. 4, no. 4) Baptism is where I step aside from
my own self-effort. It is where I die to self-effort. It is where I become
totally dependent upon God for salvation.
1 Timothy 1:12-14
12 I thank Christ Jesus
our Lord, who has given me strength, that he considered me faithful,
appointing me to his service. 13 Even though I was once a blasphemer and
a persecutor and a violent man, I was shown mercy because I acted in ignorance
and unbelief. 14 The grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly,
along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. NIV
The reason that God reconciles us to himself
through Jesus Christ is so that he can salvage what is left of our lives.
will trust Christ not only for the death he died to redeem you, but also
for the life He lives and waits to live through you, the very next step
you take will be a step taken in the very energy and power of God Himself."
(Major W. Ian Thomas, The Saving Life of Christ, Zondervan Publishing House,
Grand Rapids, Michigan, pg. 15.) This is what it is to be saved.
6:1 What shall we say, then?
Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? 2 By no means! We died
to sin; how can we live in it any longer? 3 Or don't you know that all
of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?
4 We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order
that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the
Father, we too may live a new life. NIV
Salvation is through the power of God.
But when the kindness and love
of God our Savior appeared, 5 he saved us, not because of righteous things
we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing
of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, 6 whom he poured out on us generously
through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 so that, having been justified by his
grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life. NIV
Salvation is in Christ, but the power
of salvation is only realized when Christ lives in you. There is
a difference between being in Christ and Christ living in you.
27 To them God has chosen to
make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which
is Christ in you, the hope of glory. NIV
Christ living in you is your only hope,
for without him you can do nothing. "The remarkable thing about
fearing God is that when you fear God you fear nothing else, whereas if
you do not fear God you fear everything else." (Citation: Oswald
Chambers in The Highest Good. Christianity Today, Vol. 39,
Christ can accomplish anything he wishes
through you. His power is limited only by the measure of your availability.
Your faith in Christ is the only thing that can set him free to go to work
Paul admonishes us to "pray without ceasing"
(1 Thessalonians 5:16). This is not begging or pleading with God, but rather
making yourself available to God in every circumstance. He wants you to
expose any situation that arises to the all-sufficiency of Christ.
When we fail to turn any circumstance
or situation over to the all-sufficiency of Christ we deny God’s power
for that particular circumstance.
A story is told of a town where all
the residents are ducks. Every Sunday the ducks waddle out of their
houses and waddle down Main Street to their church. They waddle into the
sanctuary and squat in their proper pews. The duck choir waddles in and
takes its place, and then the duck minister comes forward and opens the
duck Bible. He reads to them: "Ducks! God has given you wings! With wings
you can fly! With wings you can mount up and soar like eagles. No walls
can confine you! No fences can hold you! You have wings. God has given
you wings, and you can fly like birds!"
All the ducks shout, "Amen!" And then they
all waddle home. (Tony Campolo, Let Me Tell You a Story (Word,
20 I have been crucified with
Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in
the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself
for me. 21 I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could
be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!" NIV
God's might to direct me, God's power to protect
me, God's wisdom for learning, God's eye for discerning, God's ear for
my hearing, God's Word for my clearing. (Citation: Saint Patrick,
Christianity Today, Vol. 39, no. 5.)