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God Moves in Mysterious Ways 5/14/2017

God Moves in Mysterious Ways  - Isaiah 55:6-9

Intro

God moves in mysterious ways is not in the Bible. This comes from a hymn by William Cowper in 1774. It says “God moves in mysterious ways/ His wonders to perform/ He plants His footsteps in the sea/ And rides upon the storm.”

We hear this statement in various contexts: when something miraculous happens we say it as an expression of praise. Or when troubling circumstances come into our lives. Some may just say, God is so mysterious, He can’t be known.

Is that the truth?

Isaiah 55:6-9 “Seek the Lord while he may be found;
    call upon him while he is near;
7 let the wicked forsake his way,
    and the unrighteous man his thoughts;
let him return to the Lord, that he may have compassion on him,
    and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.
8 For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
    neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.
9 For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
    so are my ways higher than your ways
    and my thoughts than your thoughts.

I.  God is Mysterious, But you can Know Him

In the movie Rudy, you remember that Rudy has a really tough time trying to make the team at Notre Dame. He just gets smashed in practice but he goes back out there time after time.

In one scene he visits with a wise priest named Father Cavanaugh. As Rudy talks with Father Cavanaugh about some of his trials Father Cavanaugh tells Rudy “Son, in 35 years of religious study I have learned 2 incontrovertible facts, there is a God, and I’m not him.

Well, those two things are certainly true, but the good news is that the God of the Universe knows you personally.

The fact that we can talk to God is absolutely amazing. This passage in Isaiah talks about the glory and majesty of God, it says that His ways are not our ways, His thoughts aren’t our thoughts.

In his book Miracles, CS Lewis compares our human understanding about God to the way a shellfish understands people. He says that if a shellfish catches a glimpse of what a human is like he’ll try to describe it to his friends.

He starts off telling him about how different humans are from shellfish. He says that humans have no shell, they aren’t attached to rocks and they don’t live in water.

Because all three of those things are important to shellfish the clam gets a negative image of a human.

Lewis writes “uncorrected by any positive insight, they build up a picture of Man as an amorphous jelly (no shell), existing nowhere in particular (no rocks), and never eating. (no water) So the shellfish would conclude that man is a ‘famished jelly’ existing in a dimensionless void.”

Lewis says in that same way our minds prevent us from talking correctly about God.  That’s why God tells us about Himself in His Word.

Isaiah tells us how to seek God, he says to seek Him while He may be found and to call on Him while He is near.

This implies that there will be a time when God may not be found and He will not be near.

So when is God able to be found? When is God near? Right now, today.

After you die He may not be found, He will not be near. It’s too late.

The secret to how we can find God is in Isaiah 55:7 let the wicked forsake his way,  and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the Lord, that he may have compassion on him,   and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon. , it’s said that John Wesley, founder of the Methodist church preached on this verse over 200 times.

This passage tells us that we can find God if we are able to turn from our sin and turn to Him. Some people can’t find God the way a criminal can’t find a policeman, because they aren’t looking for Him.

Knowing God is just like knowing anyone else. You have to spend time with Him. You have to be still, listen, study His Word, spend time in prayer, go to church.

In 1967 a young woman dove into the Chesapeake Bay. Her head hit a rock and it broke her neck. She was paralyzed from the waist down. For years she was bitter, how could a loving God allow this to happen to her?

One day a friend told her. Jesus knows how you feel. He was paralyzed on the cross. Those nails driven through His hands and feet. He couldn’t move either.

Joni Erickson Tada began to understand that God loves her even when tragedy strikes.

Once she received a letter from a young man who had been in an accident, he was bitter and he asked her the question that we all want to ask sometimes. Why?

She wrote “If God decided to explain all His ways to me, what makes me think I would be able to understand them? It would be like pouring million-gallon truths into my one-ounce brain. Didn’t one Old Testament author write, “As you do not know the path of the wind, or how the body is formed in a mother’s womb, so you cannot understand the work of God, the Maker of all things” (Ecclesiastes 11:5)? In fact, the whole book of Ecclesiastes was written to convince people like me that only God holds the keys to unlocking the mysteries of life and that He’s not loaning them all out! If God’s mind was small enough for me to understand, He wouldn’t be God! Yet, in spite of this, He has chosen to have a personal relationship with me–that’s the greatest mystery of all! (A Step Further, p. 173)

II. God is so Great, You’ll never fully Understand Him

While we can know God, we cannot know everything about Him.

You may say, that’s crazy but think about it. You know your spouse, but you don’t know everything about them. They still surprise you from time to time with their thoughts and actions.

If you ever hear someone say, “I’ve got you all figured out, you know they’re not telling the truth!”

Paul was so overwhelmed with the majesty of God that He broke out in these words in Romans 11: 33-36 ““Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out! Who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been his counselor? Who has ever given to God that God should repay him? For FROM him and THROUGH him and TO him are all things. To him be glory forever! Amen.”

People say, I don’t know how a loving God could send anyone to Hell but the better question is how God can let a sinner into Heaven!

 Paul says all things are FROM Him. He is the source of all things. He says all things are through Him, He is the course of life, and He says all things are To Him, He is the force of this life.

Psalm 8:3-4 says “When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars which you have set in place. What is man that you are mindful of Him?”

The majesty of God is mind blowing.

Think about our galaxy, the sun is huge, 865000 miles in diameter. If we could make the sun the size of a basketball. Mercury would be the size of a dot from a pencil, it would be 15 paces away from the basketball. Venus would be the size of a BB and it would be another 15 paces away. Earth would be another 11 paces away and the size of a slightly larger BB. Mars would be a smaller BB 20 paces away. 100 paces away and the size of a golfball would be Jupiter.  Saturn is 224 more steps and it’s the size of a marble, Uranus is another 302 steps and it’s the size of a cherry. Neptune is another 302 steps and would be the size of a green pea. We haven’t even got to Pluto yet, who knows if it’s a planet or not.

But if we did, Pluto would be more than a mile away from the Basketball! It’s no wonder that Isaiah says that God has “measured the heavens with the span of His hands.”

Besides the sun the nearest star is Alpha Centauri and if we traveled at the speed of light it would take 4.5 years to get there.  Wow, and astronomers tell us that there are billions of stars in the Universe.

If a planet is a bb to a basketball, and there are billions of basketballs out there, what does that make me? Not even a speck of dust.

Yet, God cares for me like a Father, every hair on my head is numbered. And He wants to know you!

III.  God has revealed His Greatest Mystery

Most of us love a good mystery. Maybe this saying, God moves in Mysterious ways, comes from the fact that in the Bible God often did the unexpected.

For example, instead of using Moses when he was 40, God waited until he was 80!

Instead of Gideon’s Army fighting with 32,000 men, God whittled it down to 300. That’s mysterious.

Instead of the Messiah being born in a palace, he was born to a peasant girl in a stall. Instead of putting Him on a throne of Gold, He was placed on a cross.

The word for mystery is the word “musterion” and it means “beyond the range of natural understanding.” You see, the only chance we have of knowing God is for God to reveal Himself to you and I.

Col 1:26 says “The mystery that has been kept hidden for ages and generations but is now disclosed to the saints. 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.”

Jesus is for you, Jesus is with you, but friend Jesus is IN you!

The Christian life isn’t about doing stuff for Jesus, it’s just about Jesus living in me.

Think about a tea bag. The bag is made for the water, the bag is near the water, but the nature of the water doesn’t change until I put the bag in the water. Then it’s totally different, you’d never say, “would you like a taste of this colorful flavored water?” No because the identity of the water has changed. You’d say, would you like a cup of tea?

Gal 2:20 says “I have been crucified with Christ, nevertheless I live, but not I, but Christ lives in me.”

This is a wonderful truth. There are a lot of miserable Christians trying to do stuff for Jesus, they are burned out and frustrated. The cure for that is surrender, just give up. Let Jesus live in and through you!

IV. Conclusion

Remember William Cowper? He wrote the song “God moves in Mysterious Ways.” The rest of the story is that Cowper was born into a pastor’s home and was a lawyer by trade.

From early on he struggled with depression and anxiety. At the age of 28 he had a job offer from the House of Lords but he froze at his interview and couldn’t answer their questions.

He sank far into depression and attempted suicide 3 times. He was admitted to the hospital, although he knew about God, he was afraid that he was forever lost and destined for hell.

While in the asylum, he began to read the Bible and he wrote poetry.

Cowper was so lonely and depressed that on another evening he decided to throw himself into the Thames River. On the way to the dock a deep fog descended on London until the driver could only see a few feet in front of his coach.

They wondered around aimlessly for over an hour, finally Cowper told the driver to just stop and let him out. He searched for the river on foot but was surprised to find that he was right back in front of the door to his home.

Cowper concluded that God had a hand in the fog, he never attempted suicide again. Not long after that evening he penned these words:

God moves in mysterious ways/ His wonders to perform. He plants his footsteps in the Sea/ And rides upon the storm./ Ye fearful saints, fresh courage take/ the clouds ye so much dread/ are big wit mercy and shall break/ In blessings on your head. Judge not the Lord by feeble sense,/ But trust Him for His grace/ Behind a frowning providence/ He hides a smiling face.

His life was a struggle all of it’s 69 years, but he wrote songs with such powerful lyrics as “: “There is a fountain filled with blood,/ drawn from Emmanuel’s veins;/ and sinners plunged beneath its flow/ lose all their guilty stains.” Another verse of that wonderful hymn became the theme of Cowper’s life: “E’er since by faith, I saw the stream; Thy flowing wounds supply; Redeeming Love has been my theme; and shall be ‘till I die!” Yes, God does move in mysterious ways–but Christ in you is His greatest mystery–and He delights to reveal that truth to you!