Why Standing Stones?

Why Standing Stones?

In ancient Israel, people stood stones on their end to commemorate a powerful move of God in their lives. It was a memorial to something God spoke or revealed or did. Often these standing stones became reference points in their lives. Today, we can find reference points in the written Word of God. Any scripture or sermon can speak something powerful into our lives, or reveal something of the nature of God. In this blog I offer, what can become a reference point for Christians, taken from God's ancient word and applied to today's world.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

God is Able

For a while, I worked in a business that taught developmentaly disabled people how to work. We would have them come in and we would teach them about being responsible and faithful; we would teach them to come and be prepared to work; we would teach them a work ethic. We taught them to do many things. And it was good for them. They learned a lot. But I think the most important thing they learned was that they had abilities…They were ABLE to do things.  But they had limits, because of their handicaps.

We all have limitations, don’t we? Sometimes they’re physical limitations, or mental limitations, or emotional reasons why we can’t do things. But we have limits; sometimes time or physical laws limit us. We can’t go beyond those. For example, we can’t exceed the speed of light. It would violate the laws of physics.

But God doesn’t have limitations like we do. God is limitless in his power: He’s God, He’s transcendent. He exceeds the limits. That’s what I want to post about today…the transcendence of God. The power of God, the ability of God: God is able.

Ephesians 3:20-21
20Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, 21to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

God is Able

That word able comes from the Greek word dunamai, the Strong’s Hebrew-Greek lexicon defines it like this: to be able or possible: - be able, can (do, + -not), could, may, might, be possible, be of power. It speaks of God’s possibilities. God’s abilities affect our lives. God can make the impossible, possible.

Mark 10:27 (NKJV)
27 But Jesus looked at them and said, "With men it is impossible, but not with God; for with God all things are possible."

God is able, He can do things that we can’t do. I was thinking of the widow of Zarephath;

1 Kings 17:9-16 (NKJV)
9 "Arise, go to Zarephath, which belongs to Sidon, and dwell there. See, I have commanded a widow there to provide for you." 10 So he arose and went to Zarephath. And when he came to the gate of the city, indeed a widow was there gathering sticks. And he called to her and said, "Please bring me a little water in a cup, that I may drink." 11 And as she was going to get it, he called to her and said, "Please bring me a morsel of bread in your hand." 12 So she said, "As the Lord your God lives, I do not have bread, only a handful of flour in a bin, and a little oil in a jar; and see, I am gathering a couple of sticks that I may go in and prepare it for myself and my son, that we may eat it, and die." 13 And Elijah said to her, "Do not fear; go and do as you have said, but make me a small cake from it first, and bring it to me; and afterward make some for yourself and your son. 14 For thus says the Lord God of Israel: 'The bin of flour shall not be used up, nor shall the jar of oil run dry, until the day the Lord sends rain on the earth.' " 15 So she went away and did according to the word of Elijah; and she and he and her household ate for many days. 16 The bin of flour was not used up, nor did the jar of oil run dry, according to the word of the Lord which He spoke by Elijah.

This is an example of God’s ability. God is the one who caused the jar to not go empty. It wasn’t the widow’s ability. She couldn’t do it. She didn’t have the power. It wasn’t Elijah’s ability, he had no ability to create more flour. It was solely God’s doing, but…there’s something you should see here.

The widow and Elijah could do nothing to keep the jar full of flour; with them it was impossible. But with the action they took God was able. What action did they take? They took a step of faith. The widow provided for Elijah and because of that action God was able to provide for her. We have to understand that faith is an action word. Faith isn’t passive.

What does that mean? Sometimes we think that faith means that we believe. I believe Jesus was God on earth, but that just takes place in our minds and hearts. That’s intellectual belief, we believe. But faith means that we take an action in accordance with our belief. We act in faith. The following is an example of acting in faith.

Matthew 14:28-29 (NKJV)
14:28 And Peter answered Him and said, "Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water." 29 So He said, "Come." And when Peter had come down out of the boat, he walked on the water to go to Jesus.

We know that it isn’t normal that people can walk on water. But Peter in his faith is sure that Jesus can call to him and he will be able to walk across the water to Jesus. So what does he do? He acts in faith and gets out of the boat and starts walking to Jesus. That’s an act of faith. That’s active faith, "I believe it, so I act accordingly."  Now I want you to think about this for a moment. Peter can’t actually walk on water, can he? Without Jesus there to call to him what would happen?  Peter would sink. In fact, there comes a moment in the middle of this experience where Peter’s faith falters.

Matthew 14:30 (NKJV)
14:30 But when he saw that the wind was boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink he cried out, saying, "Lord, save me!"

Peter gets scared. He thinks I’m walking on water in this storm and he loses faith. He begins to sink. But what else has changed? Nothing. Jesus is still there, the command to come has not been rescinded, Peter has gotten out of the boat…but now he’s sinking. The only change was that Peter lost faith. Jesus was able to command Peter to walk to him on the water, while Peter had faith that he could. So Jesus’ ability resides in our faith. It isn’t Peter who is able to walk on water, it is Jesus who is able to call Peter out to walk on water…while Peter has faith. In the widow’s case, because she had the faith to feed the prophet before herself God was able to provide for the widow.

God is transcendent; He is not bound like we are to natural laws. He is able to do what we can’t do. Look at these examples of God’s transcendence:

God created the earth out of nothing – Genesis 1:1
He made mankind from mud – Genesis 2:7
He wiped out the earth with a flood – Genesis 7:17-21
He changed water into wine – John 2:1-9
He fed 5,000 men with 5 loaves and 2 fish – John 6:1-12
He rose from the dead – John 20:1-10

You and I are not able to do any of thse things on our own, but God did all of them. God is able.

God Can Move in Our Circumstances

Do you realize that God can move in our circumstances? God is able to do what we can’t. Look at this interesting scripture:

Matthew 6:27 (NKJV)
6:27 Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature?

What can we do on our own? Not much; we can’t cause ourselves to grow. We can’t heal ourselves. We are not able to act in a supernatural way. We’re limited. We’re restricted to our talents and skills, and our ability to learn. Even with these limitations, mankind has been able to accomplish much.

But think about this what have we ever created? We’ve used the things God has created, with a word, to make something we’ve engineered. But we have to face facts we are really able to do little.  But I’ve seen God do miracles. I’ve seen people healed of many diseases. I’ve seen God overcome circumstances that people thought were impossible. He’s moved in circumstances where we were unable to do anything.

They have been working on a cure for cancer for how many years? Thirty, forty, and they can control cancer to a certain extent now, but can they cure it? No they can’t, but I’ve seen God cure Cancer, because God is able to affect our circumstances.

1 Kings 18:42-45 (NKJV)
18:42 So Ahab went up to eat and drink. And Elijah went up to the top of Carmel; then he bowed down on the ground, and put his face between his knees, 43 and said to his servant, "Go up now, look toward the sea." So he went up and looked, and said, "There is nothing." And seven times he said, "Go again." 44 Then it came to pass the seventh time, that he said, "There is a cloud, as small as a man's hand, rising out of the sea!" So he said, "Go up, say to Ahab, 'Prepare your chariot, and go down before the rain stops you.' " 45 Now it happened in the meantime that the sky became black with clouds and wind, and there was a heavy rain. So Ahab rode away and went to Jezreel.

Israel had been in the midst of a famine for three and a half years and Elijah went up to the top of Mount Carmel to pray. A cloud the size of a man’s hand rose up out of the water and God used that cloud to bring rain. God changed the circumstances in of famine in Israel. What activated God? It was Elijah’s prayers. Once again we see faith in action. Elijah’s prayers activated a move of God. Elijah believed God would bring relief, so he went to the top of Mount Carmel and prayed and God responded. But I see something interesting in Elijah’s faith. He prayed and at first nothing happened. So he gave up? No, he prayed again…and again until God responded. It took seven times, before the cloud came up. How often do we pray for something and when we see no response at first, we give up? Persistent prayer spoken in faith is sometimes required. Because of Elijah’s faith God is able to change the circumstances.

God moves in our circumstances. We see this time and time again in the Old Testament history of Israel. God moved to deliver his people out of oppression in Egypt. He called Moses. God gave Joshua the plan for defeating Jericho. God sent a messenger. God defeated one hundred thirty-seven thousand Midianites with three hundred men, using Gideon as a leader. God intervened in the future of mankind. He sent Jesus as a redeemer.

These are examples of God being involved in the needs of people. This is God changing circumstances where we are unable to change them. Because God is able.

When we are struggling with issues today, God is able to move in our circumstances. We think we have to solve them ourselves: That we have to change the circumstances to make things work out. But in reality, we often can’t change the circumstances in which we find ourselves.

If we have an incurable disease like Muscular Dystrophy, we can do nothing to change our circumstances, but God can. The people of Japan after suffering a tsunami and nuclear meltdown can do nothing to change those circumstances, but God can. Most circumstances in our life that affect us in a strongly negative way, we can’t change, but God can. He changed the circumstances in Israel’s famine and he can change the circumstances in your life.

According to Faith

There are a number of interesting stories in Matthew Chapter 9 about some people who come to Jesus for healing.

The first one who comes is a man whose daughter has just died. He asks Jesus to come because he knows that Jesus can raise her from the dead. When they get to his house the mourners are there. People are crying and wailing. The mourning for this dead young woman has begun. But the father of the girl is nonplussed. He believes that Jesus can raise her. Jesus tells the people, “She’s not dead, she’s sleeping.” They all begin to mock and ridicule, but the father’s faith sees it through. He doesn’t stop having faith. Jesus shoos everyone out but the parents and raises the girl.

As He is on the way to the dead girl’s home a woman with an issue of blood sees Him. She’s been sick for many years. She’s been to many physicians and she’s still suffering. For this woman this is a huge issue. Because of the blood, she is considered unclean; no one can touch her. For 12 years she has lived without the touch of another person: Her husband can’t hold her, her children can’t hug her. In fact, she’s required by law to walk down the street and cry out, “Unclean,” so strangers don’t accidentally touch her and become unclean. But she says to herself, “If I can only touch His garment, I can be made well.” And so she makes a huge effort to get to Him and touch Him and she’s healed.

Look at this version in Mark Chapter 5:

Mark 5:25-34 (NKJV)
5:25 Now a certain woman had a flow of blood for twelve years, 26 and had suffered many things from many physicians. She had spent all that she had and was no better, but rather grew worse. 27 When she heard about Jesus, she came behind Him in the crowd and touched His garment. 28 For she said, "If only I may touch His clothes, I shall be made well." 29 Immediately the fountain of her blood was dried up, and she felt in her body that she was healed of the affliction. 30 And Jesus, immediately knowing in Himself that power had gone out of Him, turned around in the crowd and said, "Who touched My clothes?" 31 But His disciples said to Him, "You see the multitude thronging You, and You say, Who touched Me?' " 32 And He looked around to see her who had done this thing. 33 But the woman, fearing and trembling, knowing what had happened to her, came and fell down before Him and told Him the whole truth. 34 And He said to her, "Daughter, your faith has made you well. Go in peace, and be healed of your affliction."

It is by faith that these things are done. Jesus felt the power go out from Him, but it wasn’t an action he took. Her faith activated that move of God, Jesus told her, “Your faith has made you well.” Faith activates a move of God.

Finally, there is this that takes place in Matthew Chapter 9:

Matthew 9:27-30 (NKJV)
9:27 When Jesus departed from there, two blind men followed Him, crying out and saying, "Son of David, have mercy on us!" 28 And when He had come into the house, the blind men came to Him. And Jesus said to them, "Do you believe that I am able to do this?" They said to Him, "Yes, Lord." 29 Then He touched their eyes, saying, "According to your faith let it be to you." 30 And their eyes were opened. And Jesus sternly warned them, saying, "See that no one knows it."

There is an interesting line here, Jesus says, “According to your faith, let it be to you.” Let’s break this down, for a moment. That phrase, according to, means: in conformity to. An example of the meaning is this: You are paid according to your skills. If your skills are high, you are paid more. If your skills are low, so is your paycheck. So Jesus says, “According to your faith let it be to you.” If you have enough faith, let your healing be complete. If you have no faith, then you won’t be healed. So He is telling them that if you have the faith you will be able to see. God is able to heal; He does that in us according to our faith. God healed all of these in Matthew Chapter 9 according to their faith. The father had faith, even as the mourners were there preparing to bury his daughter, he believed that Jesus could raise her. The woman with the issue of blood had faith, Jesus even tells her her faith has healed her. The Blind men called him “Son of david.” This is a reference to the Messiah. They are calling Jesus, messiah. They are saying to Him, “You’re God, you can heal us.” Jesus tells them with as much faith as you have let that be how much you are healed.

In all these cases it was the faith of the people that caused them to be healed. God is able. It is our faith that activates God’s ability on our behalf. If the father hadn’t believed Jesus was able to raise his daughter and never came to Him what would Jesus have been able to do? If the woman with the issue of blood, never reached for his garment, what would Jesus have been able to do? If the blind men hadn’t called out they would have remained blind.

In your circumstances are you able to go in faith to Jesus? Do you believe that He is the circumstance changer? According to your faith…

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