In the early 1960's I first heard the hymn, "How Great Thou Art." It quickly became one of my favorite hymns. In a very personal, meaningful manner, it gave voice to my deep feelings about the majesty and the greatness of my God.
"O Lord my God! When I in awesome wonder
 Consider all the worlds Thy hands have made,
 I see the stars, I hear the rolling thunder,
 Thy power throughout the universe displayed,
 Then sings my soul, my Savior God to thee;
 How great thou art, how great thou art!"

In recent years I heard the praise song, "Awesome God." It immediately became one of my favorite songs of praise for the same reason. It allows me to express my deep, personal feelings for God.

"Our God is an awesome God; He reigns from heaven above
 with wisdom, power, and love. Our God is an awesome God!"

Songs and hymns that focus on God's greatness and majesty have always touched and moved me because God has always touched and moved me. Songs that focus on God are deeply meaningful to me.

"Joyful, Joyful We Adore Thee"
"This Is My Father's World"
"Holy, Holy, Holy"
"Father of Mercies"
"Can You Count the Stars?"
"As the Deer Pants for the Water"
"Father, I Adore You"
"Glorify Thy Name"
"On Bended Knee I Come"

Such songs and hymns move me because, to me, they declare the incomprehensible greatness of my God.

  1. In every aspect of his existence and self-expression, God is too vast for any human to fully comprehend.
    1. His wisdom, his power, his love, his mercy, and his grace are much too great for any human mind to fully comprehend.
      1. God guided human language and human thinking in producing the Bible to reveal just a glimpse of himself to people--and that is all human language can reveal about God, just a glimpse.
      2. God is so unlike us, even the very best of us.
        1. We cannot fathom God's love--the finest human love is a poor imitation of God's love.
        2. We cannot fathom God's forgiveness--the finest human forgiveness cannot even imitate God's forgiveness.
        3. We cannot fathom God's grace--the finest expressions of human goodness and kindness are ugly when they are placed beside the goodness and kindness of God.
        4. We cannot grasp the measure or the nature of God's mercy, compassion, or concern for us.
      3. The sovereign God is consistent, but the sovereign God is never predictable.
    2. In the Bible, God eloquently declares that he is incomprehensible to humans.
      1. Isaiah 40:13, 14--Who has directed the Spirit of the Lord, or as his counselor has informed him? With whom did he consult and who gave him understanding? And who taught him in the path of justice and taught him knowledge, and informed him of the way of understanding?
      2. Isaiah 55:8, 9--"My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways," declares the Lord. "For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts."
      3. Romans 11:33-36--O the depth of the riches of both the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and unfathomable his ways! For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who became his counselor? Or who has first given to him that it might be paid back to him again? For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be the glory forever. Amen.
      4. 1 Corinthians 1:25-31--The foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men. For consider your call, brethren, that there are not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble; but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things that are strong, and the base things of the world and the despised, God has chosen, the things that are not, that he might nullify the things that are, that no man should boast before God. But by his doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption, that, just as it is written, "Let him that boasts, boast in the Lord."

  2. The book of Genesis tells us that God spoke the universe into existence.
    1. There was chaos, and God spoke, and because he spoke, there was order.
      1. He spoke, and our world in all its complexity came into being.
      2. He spoke, and life in all of its forms came into being.
      3. He spoke, and we came into being--designed in his own image, with independent wills, with the power of choice, with the ability to act on our choices.
      4. Our God is an awesome God!
    2. God spoke, and brought everything into being in perfect order; we rebelled and marred his perfect creation beyond repair.
      1. We rebelled, and we destroyed life as he intended for us to experience it.
      2. We rebelled, and we cursed ourselves with consequences that we cannot escape.
      3. We rebelled, and we alienated ourselves from the loving God who created us.
      4. But our God is so awesome that not even the ruin we brought into the world and our lives could alienate us from his love.
      5. Our God is an awesome God!

  3. God immediately put in motion a plan to create a deliverance that would free us from the consequences of our own failure.
    1. In step one of his plan, God worked through the weak and often evil family of Abraham.
      1. God could work through this family for one reason: Abraham trusted God with a unique faith.
      2. But even Abraham had moments when he was controlled by his doubts.
      3. Sarah, his wife, had great confidence in her own solutions and no confidence in God's promises--she even lied to God's messengers.
      4. Isaac, his son, betrayed the confidence of his own wife and became a self-centered man with a horribly dysfunctional family.
      5. Esau, one of his grandsons, was a short-sighted man who exaggerated his needs and lived for the moment.
      6. Jacob, his other grandson, was a crafty deceiver who used deception to cheat and steal from his own family.
      7. Jacob's sons, Abraham's great grandsons, collectively were everything you never want your sons to be.
      8. Yet, through this weak and often evil family, God poured the footing for our salvation.
      9. Our God is an awesome God!
    2. Step two began a little over 400 years after this family moved to Egypt.
      1. They moved to Egypt as invited guests; in time they became slaves, several hundred thousand slaves.
      2. God promised Abraham that he would build a nation out of his descendants, and God started that process with these slaves.
      3. God did the impossible--he secured their release from Egyptian slavery by using ten plagues. Through Moses:
        1. He turned the waters of Egypt into a foul smelling liquid.
        2. He covered the land with frogs.
        3. He turned the dust into lice.
        4. He sent swarms of insects that filled their homes.
        5. He killed many of their livestock with disease.
        6. He covered both people and livestock with boils.
        7. He sent swarms of locusts that ate their crops.
        8. He sent a period of thick darkness when the sun did not shine for days.
        9. Then he killed the firstborn sons of every Egyptian family on the same night.
        10. After all of that, the Egyptians begged the king to release these slaves.
        11. After they left, the king changed his mind and tried to recapture these slaves, but God allowed the slaves to escape the king's army by dividing the waters of the Red Sea and letting them cross; then he used that same water to destroy the army when it tried to cross.
        12. Truly free, this new nation of people celebrated and praised God on the other side of the sea.
        13. Our God is an awesome God.
      4. In step three God preserved these people in a hostile desert for forty years.
        1. Their clothing and shoes did not wear out.
        2. He fed them with food that appeared on the ground with the dew every morning.
        3. He provided them water in waterless places.
        4. He preserved them when enemies attacked them.
        5. Finally, in spite of their faithlessness and disobedience, he allowed them to possess the land of Canaan.
        6. In all of that, our God was an awesome God.
    3. In step four God refused to stop working in this nation when they failed him again and again for hundreds of years.
      1. They refused to stop worshipping idols.
      2. They neglected the worship and service of God.
      3. At times they were unbelievably evil.
      4. Ten tribes became so evil that they were destroyed.
      5. The other two tribes were so evil that they were captured by the Babylonians and placed in exile.
      6. Yet, in all that, God kept his plans and purposes intact.
      7. In all of that, our God continued to be an awesome God.
    4. In step five, God accomplished his objective--through that stubborn, often evil nation, he sent his son, Jesus.
      1. He sent Jesus to teach the good news about God's salvation.
      2. He allowed Jesus to be rejected and betrayed.
      3. He allowed Jesus to die a criminal's execution, and in that death God accepted Jesus' innocent blood as the atonement for all the evil committed by all humanity in all ages.
      4. Three days after he died, God raised Jesus from the dead and made him Lord and Christ.
      5. Through that death and resurrection, God announced the reality of eternal forgiveness, eternal redemption, the new birth, the newness of life, and his own sustaining grace.
      6. Our God is an awesome God.
    5. And then God took:
      1. People who despised each other--the Pharisees and Sadducees.
      2. People who hated each other--Jews and non-Jews.
      3. People who were totally ignorant of God's inspired writings.
      4. People who thought they knew everything about God's inspired writings.
      5. People who were completely ignorant of God's work in Israel.
      6. People who worshipped idols.
      7. And people who worshipped him.
      8. He took all those people, and, from those who placed their trust in Jesus the Christ and were baptized into Jesus the Christ, he placed them in Christ , and made them all one saved people, one family, brothers and sisters, one church.
    6. Even after God did all this, they still had trouble learning to love and respect each other, they still argued and fought with each other, and they still had struggles because some had much knowledge and some had no knowledge.
      1. But they were still his people, his family, his church--for just one reason--he placed all of them in Christ.
      2. He did precisely the same thing for each one of them.
        1. He placed the sins of each one on the crucified body of Jesus.
        2. He forgave each one of them of all their sins.
        3. He cleansed each one of them in Jesus' blood.
        4. He bought each one of them back from sin
        5. He purified each one of them and made them holy.
        6. He sustained each one of them everyday in his forgiveness and his grace, his goodness.
        7. And because of what He did for each one of them in Christ, they were his church, his family.
      3. Our God is an awesome God!

  4. And this awesome God:
    1. Who created the world and created us.
      1. Who worked through the weak and often evil family of Abraham.
      2. Who delivered Israel from Egypt and made them a nation.
      3. Who persevered through Israel's wickedness, rebellion, and captivities.
      4. Who sent Jesus, who let him die on a cross, and who resurrected him from the dead.
      5. Who made a new, saved, spiritual family out of people who despised each other, and people who thought they knew everything, and people who knew almost nothing, and who had terrible prejudices.
      6. Who made this family, this church, by placing these people in Christ.
      7. This awesome God is still adding people to his family, is still expanding his church by working in the lives of people who are troubled, or do not agree, or have a lot of knowledge, or have little knowledge.
      8. And he is doing it in the same way he did it at the very beginning of the church:
        1. By placing each one of us in Christ.
        2. By making us all one in Christ.
        3. By placing each of our sins on the dying body of Jesus.
        4. By forgiving each one of us.
        5. By cleansing each one of us in the blood of Jesus.
        6. By purifying each one of us and making us holy.
        7. By sustaining each one of us every day with his grace and his goodness.

Our awesome God is no less awesome today than he was when he was at creation, or in the lives of Abraham's family, or in his perseverance in Israel, and in his accomplishments in Jesus.

Our awesome God still works through human failure to accomplish his purposes.

He loves every one of us so much--there is not a single one of us he does not love. Our challenge is to love each other like our awesome God loves all of us.

Never forget that our awesome God always accomplishes his purposes through weak and imperfect people--not because of us, but because He is the awesome God.

David Chadwell

West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Morning Sermon, 15 December 1996

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