Consider the question, "Why did you do that?" Depending on the tone of the voice used, that is not one question, but many questions. [Use a change in the tone of my voice to illustrate the different questions that one question can ask.] It can be a polite request for an explanation when something confused you. It can be an accusation and expression of contempt and disgust when a spouse irritates you. It can be a condemnation of children when a child did something without thinking. It can be a "guilting device" you use on a friend when he or she has placed you in an awkward position. We simply use the tone of our voices to make those words an honest inquiry, an accusation, a condemnation, or a "guilting device."

Why does God do what He does? Does God do what He does for reasons? Is He simply insensitive to us? Does He function on caprice--whatever He is thinking at the moment He just does that because He wants to? Bottom line question: is there purpose behind God's acts? In all that He does, is God trying to accomplish something?

  1. Most of us have been taught all our lives to accept God's great, powerful acts without thought or question.
    1. Let me illustrate that fact in ways that we cannot deny.
      1. Do you accept as fact that God is the Creator?
        1. Most of us do.
        2. Most of us accept as fact that this world, life, and humanity have their origin in the powerful acts of our Creator God.
        3. In many of you, a rejection of that fact is equal to a rejection of your faith.
      2. Question: in your own thinking and understanding, why did God create?
        1. Many of you accept without question that He did create.
        2. What answer do you give yourself when you ask yourself, "Why did God create?"
    2. Do you accept as fact that God through His own power and initiative delivered Israelite slaves from Egyptian slavery?
      1. Most of us do.
        1. Most of us accept as fact that the Israelite people were slaves in ancient Egypt for a few hundred years.
        2. Most of us accept as fact that God performed ten powerful acts to deliver the Israelite people from their slavery.
        3. Most of us accept as fact that this deliverance was specifically made possible by God's powerful intervention.
        4. Most of us accept as fact that Israel would never have been a nation if God had not delivered them.
      2. Question: in your thinking and understanding, why did God deliver Israel from Egypt?
        1. Many of you accept as fact that God delivered Israel from Egypt.
        2. What answer to you give yourself when you ask yourself, "Why did God deliver them?"
    3. Allow me to ask a series of questions.
      1. Do you believe that God by His power allowed those Israelite slaves to walk through the Red Sea?
      2. Do you believe that God by His power sustained this hoard of people in the wilderness?
      3. Do you believe that God by His power allowed Israel to secure and settle in Canaan?
      4. Again, most of us accept as fact that God used His power in all these ways.
        1. To many of us, those facts are unquestionable--they happened.
        2. What answer do you give yourself when you ask yourself, "Why did God do these things?"
    4. Allow me to fast forward history.
      1. Do you believe that God by His power sent Jesus into this world?
      2. Do you believe that God by His power was with Jesus during His ministry in first century Israel?
      3. Do you believe that God by His power resurrected Jesus from the dead?
        1. To many of us those are unquestionable facts--they happened.
        2. What answer do you give yourself when you ask yourself, "Why did God do these things?"

  2. The same divine purposes were behind all those powerful acts of God.
    1. The basic purposes were the same for God in all those powerful acts.
      1. God did not have one set of purposes for creating.
      2. Another set of unrelated purposes for delivering Israel from Egypt, getting them across the Red Sea, sustaining them in the wilderness, and settling them in Canaan.
      3. Another set of unrelated purposes for sending Jesus and being with him in his life.
      4. And another set of unrelated purposes for Jesus' resurrection.
    2. While each specific act of power had different immediate objectives, all those immediate objectives worked together to accomplish God's purposes.
      1. When God created, when God formed and sustained Israel, when God sent Jesus, when God resurrected Jesus, God was in the process of accomplishing the same purposes.
      2. God's purposes are seen in the sum of His total acts, in the culmination of all of God's powerful acts.
      3. God always has been true to His purposes in everything He does.
      4. Our problem: either we fail to see His purposes or we lose sight of His purposes.

  3. Consider an illustration.
    1. Suppose you are given access to the greatest power that has ever been known on this earth.
      1. This power is so enormous that there is simply nothing beyond its grasp.
      2. It literally can do anything, be applied to any need.
    2. Immediately after receiving access to this incredible power, you are interviewed on a national, live television broadcast by a well know news personality who asks, "How do you personally plan to use this power?"
      1. This is your response:
        1. "I am going to use this power to keep my windows clean."
        2. Or, "I am going to use this power to add a room to my house."
        3. Or, "I am going to use this power to remodel my house."
        4. Or, "I am going to use this power to keep my grass cut."
        5. Or, "I am going to use this power to keep my gas tank full."
        6. Or, "I am going to use this power to pay my bills."
        7. Or, "I am going to use this power to take my dream vacation."
      2. If you had access to earth's greatest power, would you think on that level?
        1. Would the focus of all your plans be "me, taking care of my desires, and seeing that I take care of myself"?
        2. Would the focus of your thoughts rise no higher than self and wants?

  4. God always has had a purpose.
    1. That purpose has been attacked by evil, but it has never changed.
      1. When God created, evil perverted God's "very good" creation.
      2. All of God's work through ancient Israel,
      3. All of God's work in Jesus' ministry,
      4. All of God's work in Jesus' death and resurrection,
      5. All of God's intended work in the church in every age,
      6. Was to lead people back to God's original purpose when He created people for relationship with Him.
    2. God gives each Christian the privilege of assisting Him as He achieves His purpose.
      1. In giving us the privilege of assisting Him, God gives us access to the power that created, that delivered Israel from slavery, that sustained Israel in impossible circumstances, that sent Jesus into the world, and that raised Jesus' dead body from the tomb.
      2. In our access to that power much too often the highest level of our thinking and planning focuses only on our short term physical desires.
      3. I wonder how often God listens to our prayers and says, "Is that all you think about? Can you consider nothing higher than that?"
    3. Every Christian always needs to keep in his or her awareness some basic truths.
      1. Truth one: God is greater than I am, and I am privileged just to associate with God.
      2. Truth two: God's purposes are always greater than my desires.
      3. Truth three: it is an honor to be God's servant who is dedicated to God's purposes.

  5. In the sermon on the mount, Jesus taught people to pray.
    1. He taught them three basic understandings.
      1. Understanding one: God hears your personal prayers when no one else even knows you are praying.
      2. Understanding two: God's response to your prayers does not depend on meaningless repetitions.
      3. Understanding three: the objective of your prayers never is to inform God; God knows your needs before you ask.
    2. Then Jesus illustrated how they should pray, a prayer approach that was unfamiliar to them.
      Matthew 6:9-13 Pray, then, in this way: "Our Father who is in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done, On earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil. [For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.]"
    3. Notice these simple observations: this prayer combines four elements.
      1. The first is humble surrender to the holy God in the desire for His purposes to accomplished.
      2. The second is trusting dependence on God to provide physical necessities.
      3. The third is showing appreciation for God's forgiveness by giving forgiveness.
      4. The fourth is realizing the only hope we have for successfully triumphing over evil is God's deliverance.
    4. It is hard to do something so simple.
      1. Recognizing God's purposes were greater than his desires cost Jesus his physical life.
      2. It cost most of the twelve their lives.
      3. It cost Stephen his life.
      4. It cost Paul his life.
      5. If I place my confidence in God, my suffering can assist God's purposes--even if it costs my life.
      6. And some day I will understand that I paid a very small price to assist the eternal God's purposes.
    5. One of the most frightening statements in scripture is found in James 4:2-4.
      You lust and do not have; so you commit murder. You are envious and cannot obtain; so you fight and quarrel. You do not have because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures. You adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.

For a month on Sunday mornings I challenged you to think about faith. Our prayers are one of the greatest expressions of our trust in God. Next Sunday morning we will worship by praying focused prayers to the God who created us and gives us salvation.

The question we Christians must ask ourselves is this: am I alive to fulfill my physical desires and ambitions? Or am I alive to assist God's purposes? What do my prayers say about me? What my life is about is powerfully influenced by my understanding of the "why" of God's powerful acts.

David Chadwell

West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Morning Sermon, 5 May 2002

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