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James Merritt - Great God

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    James Merritt - Great God

Is it possible that your problems appear big because your God is too small. I think sometimes we tend to reduce God to the size of our biggest problem. As a matter of fact, for some of us, it's really sad, it's really sad to watch people grow older because for a lot of people the older they get, the smaller their God gets. I think it ought to be just the opposite. I think that the longer we go and the more we grow, the bigger our God ought to be. See, here's our problem. Too many of us have little faith and a little God. We ought to have great faith and a great God. Because our God is great. Our God is great. But the question is, just how great is our God?

Well, a king named David wrote a Psalm that I believe is the most exhaustive description of the greatness of God found anywhere in the Bible. So if you brought a copy today of God's Word or you brought an iPad or a smartphone or whatever it is that you use, I want you to turn to a Psalm called Psalm 139, it's right almost in the middle of the Bible. I want you to turn to Psalm 139 and we're going to learn today why the greatest knowledge you will ever have is the knowledge of this great God and the great God that He is. Because the one who wrote these words is going to teach us this lesson today. God is too great to fail. I can always trust Him. God is too great to fail. I can always trust Him. So I want to answer the question today, just how great is our God? And David says, "I want to go into exhaustive detail and tell everyone of us, just how great God really is".

Three things I'm going to say this morning. Number one, God is omniscient. He knows me. God is omniscient. He knows me. He knows everything that I am. He knows all there is to know about me. Now that word omniscient comes from two words. The word Omni which means all and the word Scientia, which means knowledge. So it literally means all knowledge or all-knowing or knowing everything. God knows everything about everything. God knows everything about everyone all the time. Have you ever been anybody that acted like a know-it-all? You say, "Yeah, I'm married to them". Okay. I get that. All right. Let me tell you. With God, it's not acting. God is the ultimate know-it-all. First John 3:20 says, "God is greater than our heart and He knows everything". God's just like your teenager. You can't tell him anything. He already knows it all.

See, God knows it all. And understand that God's knowledge is not just intellectual, it's personal. See, listen to this. God doesn't just know about you. He knows you. As a matter of fact, can I give you a little frightening thought. God knows you better than you know you. Nobody knows me better than I know me. Nobody knows you better than you know you, except God. God knows you better than you know you. And let me tell you, that's a frightening thought. There was a prosecuting attorney in a small town and he was trying this case. So he calls as his first witness this elderly woman, who lived in the town all of her life. She knew everything about everybody and she was the nosiest gossip in the whole town. So he calls her, he puts her up on the stand.

She takes the oath. And he said, "Mrs. Yost, let me just start out with a simple question". He said, "Do you know me"? And she said, "Why yes, I know you, Mr. Williams. I've known you since you were a little boy". And he smiled real big until she said, "And frankly, you've been a big disappointment to me". She said, "You lie. You cheat on your wife. You manipulate people. You talk about them behind their backs. You charge far too much money for your services. You don't even have the brains to realize you're going to amount to anything but a two-bit paper pusher". She said, "Yeah, I know you". Well, he was stunned. He said, not knowing what else to do, he pointed across the room, and he said, "Well, do you know the defense attorney"? "Oh," she said, "yes, I know him. I've known Mr. Bradley since he was a kid. As a matter of fact, I used to babysit him for his parents". She said, "He's been a disappointment, too". She said, "He's lazy. He has a drinking problem. Cheated his way through law school. Can't find any woman who will marry him. He's one of the most crooked lawyers in this state". She said, "Yeah, I know him".

Well, about that time, the judge's gavel came down with a thunderous boom and he said, "Silence. I want both counsels to approach the bench". So they came to the bench. And in a very quiet voice with fire in his eyes, he said, "If either one of you ask her if she knows me, I'll jail you for contempt of court". Now, God knows you. He knows all there is to know about you. Listen to what David said. He said, "First of all, God knows who you are". Listen to Verse 1, Psalm 139. "O, Lord, you have searched me and know me". The Hebrew word there for searched literally means to pierce through. It means to dig. In other words, God sees right through us. He's got x-ray vision that can pierce the hardest heart. He's got microscopic vision that can look down into the very inner core of our sole.

See, every one of us have what we call the bottom of our heart. Have you ever said to somebody, "You know, I love you from the bottom of my heart"? You know, why do we call it "the bottom"? The bottom's that one place that nobody can get to, nobody sees about, nobody knows about. Your wife doesn't know it. Your husband doesn't know it. Your kids don't know about. But there's that little section, the bottom of your heart, and you think nobody knows about it. God says, "I do". God says, "I know the bottom of your heart. I see where it's clean. I see where it's dirty. I see where it's right. I see where it's wrong. I see where it's good. I see where it's bad". By the way, you may think you're insignificant. Maybe you live alone. Maybe you've had a rough life. Maybe you think, you know, I'm a nobody, that nobody knows.

Can I give you some great news today? God knows you better than you know you and He loves you. He knows you better than you know you and He loves you. God knows who you are. Listen. God knows what you think. Listen to Verse 2. "You know when I sit down and when I rise up. You discern my thoughts from afar". God sees our thoughts as if they were flashing on a neon sign right now. God can read your mind just as easily as you can read e-mail. As a matter of fact, this is kind of disconcerting, God not only knows what you're thinking, God knows what you think and what you're about to think, before you even think it. I mean, this very second, right now, your thoughts are being broadcast in stereo into the headphones of God. That's why you can't keep a secret from God. He already knows everything. God knows what you think. God knows who you are. God knows where you go?

Listen to Verse 3. "You search out my path and my lying down. And you are acquainted with all my ways". Think about that. When you lie down, God knows it. When you get up, God knows it. When you sit down, God knows it. When you stand up, God knows it. God's eyes are on you. Let me tell you something. He sees you when you're sleeping. He knows when you're awake. He knows when you've been bad or good. You better be good for goodness sake. God knows where you go. God knows every place you go. He knows everything you do. He knows every step you take. He knows the what, He knows the when, the where, the how of everything you do it at any given moment. Proverbs 15:3 says this, "The Lord is watching everywhere keeping His eye on both the evil and the good".

See, let me tell you this. God never takes His eyes off of you. You're never out of God's sight. You are never out of God's mind. I read about a church. There was a church that was having a big church picnic. And there was a basket of apples at the very beginning of the line. And somebody had written a big sign that said, "God is watching, take only one apple". Well, at the end of the line, there was a basket of chocolate chip cookies. And next to the chocolate chip cookies, a little boy wrote this sign that said, "Take as many cookies as you want, God's busy watching the apples". Now, the truth of the matter is, God's busy watching everybody. God's busy watching everything. God says, "I watch you. I know you". And then, listen to this. God not only knows where you go, God knows what you say.

Listen to Verse 4, "Even before a word is on my tongue, behold O, Lord, you know it all together. You hem me in behind and before. You lay your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me. It is high. I cannot attain it". In effect, what David said was, "God's mind blows mine. I just can't get over the fact. God you know me North to South, you know me East to West, you know me inside and out, you know me up and down, and yet you still love me and you still want me. What a great God you are". Oh, wait, listen. He's omniscient. He knows me. Second thing David said, "God's omnipresent. He's with me". God is omnipresent. He is with me. Listen to what he says in Verse 7. "Where can I go from your spirit? Where shall I flee from your presence"?

My favorite philosopher, Yogi Berra, he made a great observation one time. Yogi Berra said, "I have noticed that everywhere I go, there I am". Now, everywhere you go, there God is. You see, here, think about this. Unlike God, God's not like us. God never has to go anywhere because wherever anywhere is, God's already there. God says, "I'm here already". Listen, David said, "God's presence is so ubiquitous. God's presence is go magnificent". He said, "Number one, death cannot take you away from the presence of God". Verse 8, "If I ascend to heaven, you're there. If make my bed in Sheol, you're there". David said, "Even when you go to your grave, God's there waiting for you to take to heaven so that when you get to heaven, you'll be with him".

Death cannot take you from the presence of God. Distance cannot take you from the presence of God. Verse 9, "If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there Your hands shall lead me and Your right hand shall hold me". David said, "If I could fly like a bird, I couldn't get away from You. If I could swim like a dolphin, I couldn't get away from You. I would still be in the presence of God". Theresa and I were flying over here yesterday and we were about 35,000 feet. We were flying kind of on top of those billowy clouds up there. And every time I get in a plane and I fly I think about Psalm 104:3, it's one of my favorite verses. It says this, "He makes the clouds His chariot and He walks on the wings of the wind".

I love that. He makes the clouds His chariot. He walks on the wings of the wind. I said to Theresa, I said, "You know, this is awesome". I said, "Here we are at 35,000 feet". I said, "We are just as close to God, I'm just as close to God right now at 35,000 feet as if I were standing on the ground right now". And Theresa gave this great spiritual thought at that moment in my life. She said, "Yes". And she said, "If we crash, you're going to be closer to God than you've ever been in your life". I didn't need to hear that at that moment, but the point is that she's right. But distance cannot separate us from God. David says, "Darkness cannot take you from the presence of God". Verse 11, "If I say surely the darkness shall cover me and the light about me be night. Even the darkness is not dark to you. The night is as bright as the day for darkness is as light with you".

We can't appreciate that. Because when it gets dark we can't see. And yet God says, "Light and day". You know, we say it's different as night and day. God says, "There's no different in night and day to me. I've got x-ray vision. I've got infrared vision. I don't need night goggles in the dark. My eyes of light can pierce through any darkness. And that's why nothing can hide you, nothing can take you from the presence of God". God said something to Jeremiah, the prophet, that's just so cool. And listen to what God says in Jeremiah 23. "'Am I a God who is only in one place,' asks the Lord, 'Do they think I cannot see what they're doing? Can anyone hide from me? Am I not everywhere in all the heavens and the earth? Asks the Lord".

God is so high you can't get over Him. God is so low you can't get under Him. God is so wide you can't get around Him. God is always with us no matter where we are, no matter where we go, because He is omnipresent. Let me tell you what that means. One thing you never leave behind when you leave home is God. You leave a lot of things behind, but you never leave God behind. I'll tell you this, God never leaves you behind. You may feel lonely, but you are never alone. Because every morning when you wake up and get out of your bed, from the time you leave until the time you get back, you know what God says to you, everywhere you go, I'm with you. I will be behind you encouraging you. I will be beside you protecting you. I will be before you, guiding you.

David said, "God is omnipresent. He is always with me". What a great God that God is. And then David said, "God is omnipotent". He can help me. God is omnipotent. He can help me. Now, the word omnipotent, again that comes from the word Omni, which means all. The word potent, which means powerful. It literally means all powerful. God is all powerful. God is omnipotent. God can do anything. Now, when I say that, you know, I was talking to a guy one time and I was trying to share with him and he was an unbeliever. You know, there's two kinds of unbelievers. There's sincere unbelievers and insincere. Some really want to know the truth and some just want to argue. This guy just wanted to argue. And so he was talking to me and he said, "Well, I just want to ask you a question". He said, "You say, God can do anything". And I said, "God can do anything". "Well," he says, "can God create a rock so big that He can't pick it up"?

Well, of course the answer to that is no. Right? And I said, "Well, no, God can't do that. Because," I said, "God can't do anything that would be contradictory to His character". And then he looked at me and said, "Well, you believe in Hell". And I said, "Yes, I do". And he said, "Well, why do you think God created Hell"? I said, "Probably for people like you that ask questions like that to me". So obviously there are some things, when I say God can do anything, there are some things that God can't do. God can't lie. God can't cheat. God can't steal. God can't be tempted and He can't tempt us to do wrong. God can't do wrong. But anything consistent with God's character, God can do.

So David is wanting to talk about just how powerful his God really is. Now, here is where I love what David does in this Psalm. David did something I would have never expected. I wouldn't have done it. I'd been writing this Psalm, I wouldn't have done it. If I'd been David and David said, "Okay, how can I illustrate just how powerful this God is, I would have started talking about things like the sun and the stars and the moon and the universe and the galaxies and even maybe the universe". David doesn't do that. David says, "Let me just tell you how great our God is. Let's just look at the human body. Let's just take the body. Let's just take the body that we have right now".

George Gallup once said this, the pollster, he said, "I could prove God statistically if I had to. Take the human body alone, the chance that all the functions of the individual human being would just happen is a statistical monstrosity". Now, before I share with you what David wrote, I want you think about this. David was not a doctor. David did not have any medical training whatsoever. He didn't know nearly as much as we know today about what a finely tuned engine this human body is. But even thousands of years ago, David can look at the human body and say, "This body must have been created by a great God". So he says this in Verse 13, "For you formed my inward parts. You knitted me together in my mother's womb". David said, "I am not here by mother nature. I'm not here by fate. I'm not here by chance. God formed my inward parts. God created me in my mother's womb". And then he goes on to say this in Verse 15, "My frame was not hidden from you. When I was being made in secret". He's talking about when he was made in his mother's womb, "when I was made in secret".

Now, listen to this next phrase, "intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance. In your book were written every one of them. The days that were formed from me went as yet, there was none of them". The point is, David said, "I just look at the human body and I know, my body was not an evolutionary accident that was thrown together by chance. My body is a miracle that was purposely put together by a great God. Just looking at my body, I know," that's why he goes and says this in Verse 14, "I praise you for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works, my soul knows it very well". David said, "Look, don't take my word for it. Just look in the mirror. Just look at this magnificent body that you have in all of its majesty and all of its intricacy and you will see the greatness of God".

For example, your body, like mine, contains 30 trillion cells. Not billion, trillion. Thirty trillion cells. Every one of those cells contain genetic information. If you took the genetic information that was contained in just one cell of your body, in order to put that on paper, it would take 4,000 books. So in other words, if you decided, I want to catalog all of the genetic information in my body, it would take a library big enough to hold 30 trillion times 4,000 books. David, who didn't even know that said, "Only an omnipotent God, with all powerful hands, could create this magnificent machine called a human body. Only God could put that together. Only God could do that".

And then David does something that I really noticed before I studied this Psalm. David got to thinking about something I bet none of us in this room have ever thought about. And I hadn't until I studied this Psalm. David started thinking about how God thinks. Have you ever thought about how God thinks? I mean, God has thoughts. We've got thoughts, God has thoughts. And David said, "Wow, I just got to thinking about how God thinks," and here's what he says in Verse 17. "How precious to me are your thoughts, O, God. How vast is the sum of them? If I would count them they are more than the sand, I awake and I am still with you".

Now, listen to what David said. This is fascinating. David said, "I just can't even get my mind around your mind. Forget about everything else you've done. I can't even get my mind around your mind". He said, "God, when I think about it, I realize that your mind contains more thoughts than all of the thoughts in all the minds that have ever thought a thought put together". We'll say that again. He said, "Your mind contains more thoughts than all of the thoughts of every mind that's ever thought a thought put together. They're greater in quantity". And then he said, "They're greater in quality".

The simplest thought God has ever had is far higher than the greatest thought the most brilliant person has ever had. And what God said to the prophet Isaiah takes on even more meaning. This is a passage you know very well. But let me just read it, because some of us have read this passage many times. And we don't really understand just what a great passage this is. God said to Isaiah in Isaiah 55, He said, "For my thoughts are not your thoughts. Neither are my ways are your ways". We have read that many, many times. But then God said something. I don't think we realize just what God was saying. He said to Isaiah, "For as the heavens are higher than the earth". Now just keep that thought in mind. "For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts your thoughts".

Here's how all this relates to you. Because I get it. I'm a pastor. I understand. You're out there saying, "Okay. That's real fine. That's all interesting. That was funny. And there was some good stuff I never learned. But, oh, by the way, I got to go to work in the morning. I got a family to feed. I got battles to fight. So how's all this help me"? Fair question. So if God is this great God that David talked about, ask yourself this question right now, what problem do I have that God cannot solve? What problem do I have that God cannot solve? If God's just half the God he talked about, you don't have a problem that God can't solve. You don't have a problem that God can't solve. What is there in my life that I cannot trust him with? The answer is nothing.

As a matter of fact, David goes on to close this Psalm out with this wonderful thought. David says, "Hey, I got news for you. This God is so great. This God is so awesome. This God is so magnificent, you can not only trust Him on earth, you can trust Him for all eternity". Because listen to how David closes this magnificent Psalm. Most of us know this passage, very familiar. "Search me O God, and know my heart. Try me and know my thoughts. See if there be any grievous way in me and lead me in the way everlasting".

Now, let me tell you why David closes this Psalm this way. I can imagine David's writing this on a piece of parchment, and he puts his quill pen down and he kind of puts his feet up on the desk and he starts thinking about how great God is. And all of a sudden this thought hits him. "So God, you know me better than I know me". "Yep". "You see everything there is to see about me"? "Yep". "So God that means that when you search my heart you see the envy and you see the pride and you see the jealousy and you see the selfishness". God says, "Yep. See it all". "And God that means, when you read my thoughts you see the lust. You see the bitterness. You see the greed that we all deal with"? "Yep, I see it".

So David's asking himself, "How in the world can I ever have a relationship with this great God? How can I, whose heart is dirty and sinful, how can I, whose thoughts so many times get off the beaten path, how in the world can I ever have a relationship with this great God"? And this is what I came to tell you today. Because this is the story of the Bible. This great God, that just spoke and a universe came into existence, this great God, who can split seas, who can walk on water, who can heal any disease, who can walk out of an empty tomb, this great God, let me tell you what He did, this great God, came to us in human flesh. He died on a cross so that He can lead us in the way everlasting.

And it was through His son Jesus that this great God did the impossible. He paid for all of our sins. He accomplished the inconceivable. He did it without excusing our sins. And He saw the insoluble, He did all of that and remained just at the very same time. And here's why our God is such a great God. How did our God do that? He didn't do it through computers or iPads or iPhones or tablets or technology or television or innovation or inventions. You know how our God did that, He did it through a manger and a cross and an empty tomb. So this is what I tell you today. I serve a God that is so great the universe cannot contain Him. But a God that's so great, that through faith in His Son, He can live in my heart. What a great God we serve.
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