PULPIT TODAY SERMONS
ROBERT D PACE
From Insects to Archangels God Controls Everything
“For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth,
visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities;
all things have been created through him and for him. (17) He is before all things,
and in him all things hold together.” [NIV]
You have heard of the “Political Elite” and “Higher Ups” that live in Washington DC. Whether elected or appointed, these are people with leverage over the laws and people of America.
Perhaps you have heard of the “Deep State,” that undercover group of powerbrokers that ‘pull strings behind the scenes.’ These people are real and their intentions often include a global agenda that does not always have your welfare in mind.
And for those that have studied the writings of the Apostle Paul you have heard of the “principalities, powers, and rulers of darkness.” They are that invisible, demonic host that infects all stratus of society with ill and evil.
But I want to talk about the One that holds greater sway than the efforts of the “Political Elite,” the “Deep State,” and “powers of darkness” combined. And this is our sovereign, Lord God Almighty!
I want you to know that ‘none is his equal’! He is the ultimate source of power.
No king, no Parliament, and no judicial court can veto his intentions. That means he is sovereign!
World leaders cannot outwit, outmaneuver, or overturn his plans. That means he is sovereign!
Let me tell you what the prophet Daniel said about him: “All the peoples of the earth are regarded as nothing. He does as he pleases with the powers of heaven and the peoples of the earth. No one can hold back his hand or say to him: “What have you done?” [NIV] That means he is sovereign!
Folks, I am talking about your Lord, your Savior, your Creator, your all-powerful God—Jehovah. This is the God that Christians serve. He’s on your side. He’s “working all things together for your good.” He’s the God that is protecting, preserving, and providing for you until you reach Heaven above.
(Transition) The sovereignty of God is an attribute with which all Christians should be familiar. That’s because it not only identifies God’s greatness it’s something that offers huge blessing to Christians. So, as I begin this message I want to define its meaning.
(Definition) One point that theologians make about the doctrine of God’s sovereignty is that it is so grand and prodigious that it cannot be explained by one succinct definition. It must be amalgamated from various passages across the Bible. And when these passages are assimilated you start understanding its meaning. Since that’s the case, I want to quote several passages that express God’s sovereignty:
Psalm 115:3 says: “Our God is in the heavens; he does all that he pleases.”
Daniel 2:21 says: it is God that “changes times and seasons; he removes kings and sets up kings.”
1 Chronicles 29:11—12 says, “All that is in the heavens and in the earth is yours. Yours is the kingdom, O Lord, and you are exalted as head above all. (12) Both riches and honor come from you, and you rule over all.
Sovereignty describes God’s supremacy over all Creation and all that happens in Creation. His sovereignty over this universe is so complete that nothing transpires without his direct intention or reluctant permission. That means God is never backed into a corner when crisis, calamity, or malevolence appear. He remains in control of everything at all times and in every circumstance.
(Illustration) Sometime back, I was in California and spotted a rusty, dilapidated car that looked like it had been hauled back from the junkyard and onto the streets. To use a southern expression, “It was a rattletrap”! Anyway, somebody had plastered on a bumper sticker that declared two words: “God Rules”! I agree with that statement, but it struck me funny that it was affixed to that ramshackled automobile. It would have been much more convincing had it appeared on a nice, late model vehicle.
Do you see how appearances can undermine the doctrine of God’s sovereignty? It happens a lot. And I’ll add: it does not happen unintentionally! When you closely examine the manner in which news agencies script their stories you’ll discover a subliminal implication that suggests life is spinning out of control and God’s supervision is nowhere to be found. Listen to some of the news headlines that appear in bold print: Earthquake Rattles City; Tsunami Kills Thousands; Isis Slaughters Village! Even newscasters appear onscreen sputtering breathlessly about airline crashes and tragedies around the world. All of this has a way of affecting the subconscious and suggests that parts of life are operating outside God’s management.
But folks, despite what others may say, I want to affirm a fact from the Bible: Our God of sovereignty governs everything from insects to arch-angels. God has not assigned this world to “chance” or fatalism. I want to quote my opening text, once again, from Colossians 1:16—17.
“For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. (17) He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.”
Isn’t that good to know? God is always in control! In fact, God is in such control that he can accomplish his plans even when people resist Him with all their might! God doesn’t need compliance from anybody to fulfill his plan.
(Illustration) Sometime back, I read the story of a group of Methodists in North Carolina that wanted to build a church. The town was situated in a valley, so securing property above the flood plane was necessary. The church approached a prosperous land-owner about purchasing a piece of property that was near the downtown district. It was prime property! But because of that he wouldn’t sell! Nothing the Methodists offered could change the landowner’s mind, so they settled for some acreage away from the center of town. In the coming days, they built and dedicated the church and prepared to worship. But three days later, the unthinkable happened! The town was besieged by a torrential storm! The storm was so severe that the entire structure of the Methodist Church was lifted off its foundation and began drifting atop the floodwaters. The men of the town immediately rushed into waist-deep water and tied ropes to the building in an effort to control it—but nothing worked. Against all their efforts, the structure seemed to have a mind of its own, and headed toward downtown. When the building reached the center of town it took a sudden turn and moved two blocks. Then, it veered off that road and began backing into a prime piece of real estate. Yes, the exact property the landowner had refused to sell! The following day, when the owner discovered what happened, he donated the real estate deed to the Methodist Church! (Borrowed from Paul Harvey’s The Rest of the Story radio broadcast.)
You see! God can fulfill his plan whether people harden their heart or willingly comply! (Pause) I love what Isaiah 14:26—27 says: “This is the plan determined for the whole world; this is the hand stretched out over all nations. (27) For the Lord Almighty has purposed, and who can thwart him? His hand is stretched out, and who can turn it back?
I’m thankful that God’s purposes succeed with or without help from man. But as for me, I always want to find myself in agreement with his intentions!
God Governs the Nations
(Quote) One of the most infamous acts of the 20th Century was the attempt of Communism to rule the world. Do you recall the name of the Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev? In 1960, Khrushchev traveled to the United Nations and delivered his infamous speech where he removed his shoe in front of the Assembly and repeatedly struck it against the lectern. Here’s what he said: “By the year 1980—the building of socialism would be completed and the era of Communism would be ushered in.” I believe Heaven takes note when leaders make such arrogant assertions. Let me remind you of what happened during his predicted “Era of Communism” during the 1980’s:
The Berlin Wall fell.
The Soviet Union fell apart and became democratic states.
Communism in Romania was overthrown.
Communism in Czechoslovakia collapsed.
Bulgaria removed its red star from atop its Party headquarters and became a Democracy.
Poland and Hungary repudiated communism to become democratic states.
Folks, the sovereign God still governs the world despite the defiance of Communism, rogue nations, and godless leaders. He is active in every event and occurrence of this planet. Remember, there is no such thing as “chance” with God. He keeps everything under his supervision.
The fact that our vehicles are scattered across this lawn and I’m preaching outdoors indicates that something epic has struck this planet. Who would have thought that 2020 would have ushered in “the day that the earth stood still”! Something of Biblical proportions has struck our planet! But regardless of how COVID—19 began, and how it spread to the world, and how it will terminate, Christians should be completely convinced that God has always been in control! He’s sovereign over the virus. He’s sovereign over the nations’ rulers and the behind-the-scenes-decision-makers that think they have this world on lockdown.
We may not understand the complete purpose of God for this pandemic, but consider this: You and I are living at an unparalleled moment of human history. Never has anything so quarantined the world’s population. You and your children will never forget this momentary slice of history. As I just mentioned, this is an event of Biblical proportions! That’s why we must pay close attention to what is happening. Unparalleled moments, like this, bring unparalleled works of God. You and I may not understand it all presently, but with the “word of the Lord” in my mouth, I want to declare something: God is doing something highly significant! He is working in ways that the rulers of the world don’t understand. He is working in ways that the “powers of darkness” don’t understand. In some way, God is working all things to the praise of his glory and the good of his people. And that is why you can I can trust God at this time.
When we, as Christians, trust the sovereignty of God, it brings an inner peace that unbelievers do not have. It assures us that the God of the Bible has everything under control.
(Transition) Do I have any idea of what the Lord’s underlying plan for this COVID crisis may be for his people? I trust that I do, but I’ll let you determine whether I have a “word” from the Lord. (I’m letting you judge this because the Apostle Paul said in 1 Corinthians 14, that prophetic utterances should be judged by the “hearers” and not the “speaker.”)
This past week, I was reminded of national crisis that occurred in Egypt about 4000 years ago.
Pharaoh’s Battle with God
God told Moses to appear before Pharaoh and request that Israel go to the desert to worship God. Now that is important to remember. God wanted the Israelites out of Egypt so they could properly worship God. (The Bible uses Egypt as a metaphor for the world and the world-system)
But Pharaoh refused, and in so doing, picked a fight with God.
Moses warned Pharaoh that his refusal would be bring dire consequences to Egypt but it didn’t matter.
You know the story. God struck Egypt with plague after plague. He brought flies, gnats, and locusts to devastate the land—tiny insects that the Egyptians couldn’t contend with. Finally, an arch-angel soared throughout Egypt taking their firstborn. Only then was Pharaoh willing to comply with God’s plan to let Israel worship.
From insects to archangels God demonstrated his mastery over Creation.
Here is my assessment of what God may be doing today: God wants his called and chosen people out of Egypt so we can learn to properly worship him. And when we are permitted to return to our sanctuaries we will be more thankful, more respectful, more fervent, and more purposed in our worship than we have been in many years!
(Transition) Thus, I leave you with the words of the prophet in Psalm 46:8–10,
Come, behold the works of the Lord, Who has wrought desolations in the earth. He makes wars to cease to the end of the earth; He breaks the bow and cuts the spear in two; He burns the chariots with fire. “Cease striving and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.