Our God is in the heavens;
he does all that he pleases (Psalm 115:3)
During the sermon on September 27, I shared with you about my experience in Hungary, preaching the Word to the house church that met at Larry and Melinda Ewing’s, who serve as IMB missionaries there. I would preach, with Agi translating for me. She has a wonderful grasp of the English language, and I felt honored and humbled to preach in my native tongue, then hear the Word of God in the Hungarian tongue. The gospel truly does transcend every culture.
I have a saying I tend to use at the end of my sermons here in the States, and I used it in Hungary as well. In essence, I appeal for us to “do business with God while the Word is fresh, while the Spirit is here, and while believers are praying for you.” Csaba (pronounced CHAH-bah), a Hungarian with an infectious personality that’s been gripped by our Lord Jesus, knows English and Hungarian well, told me after the sermon that the first time she translated “do business with God,” she translated it as, “negotiate with God.” But then she translated it better the second time: be sure you interact with what God has said and respond to Him by faith.
We read from Psalm 115:3 that “Our God is in the heavens.” Aren’t you glad, dear Christian, that God is our God? Through Christ, we are His people, and God himself is our God—and this happens through Christ, for no one comes to the Father except by Him (John 14:6). As we come to Christ, and as the Spirit stirs in us, we see that God is most certainly our God, whose throne is ‘in the heavens,’ meaning that He is above and over all.
“He does whatever He pleases”? Let that soak in. Whatever God wants to do, He’ll do. Not one person on the planet frustrates His plans. Now, you may say, “Wait a minute! Didn’t God change His plans regarding Nineveh, as told in the book of Jonah?” (If you’re not familiar with the book of Jonah, it’s toward the end of the Old Testament and takes about 15 minutes to read. I can wait here if you’d like to read.) Didn’t Moses change God’s mind in Him destroying the people of Israel when they sinned (Exodus 32:14)? After all, it does say he “changed his mind” or “relented.” How does this correlate to the fact that God does whatever He pleases and that he doesn’t change (Malachi 3:6; James 1:17).
Great question! Matt Slick of Christian Apologetics and Research Ministries makes a great point that God does not change His mind based on new information He learned. He goes on: “We see that the Hebrew word for ‘repent, relent, change,’ etc., is nashash, which has a scope of meaning, which we see in other translations, that can infer God’s change of direction and purpose towards a people.”
Yet, God changed His purpose and direction based upon the intercession of Moses (Ex. 32:12-13). Moses is a foreshadowing of the Messiah to come, Jesus (Deuteronomy 18:15). And so, when Jesus intercedes for us, the Father listens to His perfect Son to accomplish His perfect will and plans for our lives (Romans 8:26-30).
What is God’s will for our church? In putting together the Great Commandment and Great Commission, the answer is simply this: “Gather to Go.” We gather intentionally to go intentionally. For our church, the values are to:
- Grow in the Word (2 Timothy 3:16-4:5)
- Love one another (John 13:34-35)
- Serve our neighbors (Matthew 22:37-40; Acts 2:42-47)
- Go to the nations (Matthew 28:16-20; Mark 16:16-20)
Keep it simple, dear pastor. When your people gather, grow in the Word and love each other from the truth of that Word. When you go, serve your neighbors and go to the nations. Here in Denver, the nations have come to us. What are ways you can fulfill God’s commands?