Good morning! I want to express my encouragement and joy in seeing all of you here today in Lake Elsinore for the final round of the 2016 OTHG Summer Series! When we gather together we get to lift up one another; we get to encourage one another; and we get to acknowledge God and give Him due praise and thanks because He is worthy of all our praise wherever we go!
My topic for today’s message is “Have you seen God at work lately?” I would like to start by describing a fictitious situation and I want each of you to set aside all the distractions that are around us right now. For just a moment try to imagine that what I’m describing to you is a live newscast spot.
Hi everyone, Radical Rick here with news that there’s a new motorcycle company that been all the talk in the motocross industry lately. It’s been rumored that they have some new secret technology for motorcycles.
[How secret is it?] Glad you asked! It’s so secret that only the Russians know about it! (Sorry had to spoof on that!)
The company claims that it’s going to completely revolutionize all forms of motorsports but they are starting with motocross! The company’s founder and president Speed Racer had recently commented that in secret company trials, the new technology had demonstrated 100% perfection in all test results! Industry commentators have rumored that the new technology will integrate some new tracking / navigation system and with a proprietary sensing technology that will bolt onto any motorcycle. Racer said that for motocross their new system will enable perfect execution of every obstacle programmed into it! Talk about stacking the deck in your own favor! All this reporter can say is I want one and I wanted it last week! This is Radical Rick signing off from Lake Elsinore California!
Audience: So what’s your first reaction to hearing this about this new company and their new product?
Questions: Q- Are some of you skeptical about the claims made? Q-How many of you believe the claims as stated? Q-How many of you wouldn’t be able to believe without seeing one in action – like watching a Go Pro video, or maybe you’d like to ride one?
Now what if I had set the stage differently and had not primed you with a news spot but had otherwise suggested that I was going to read from a Wiley Coyote and Roadrunner cartoon episode? Or what if I had suggested a Star Trek setting? Would your answers be different now? Chances are, because the context is different, it’s more likely that your acceptance or rejection would be influenced because of this change.
Truth is, these three questions are common ground for every assertion that we make and for every one we hear. Further, isn’t this the context for what we are told is a premise for the “market place of ideas”? Being able to scrutinize everything with logic, practice and repeatable experiments? I will concur, to a point, that many things in our world today need some sort of certification. Let’s face it. There’s a lot of junk out there being passed off as pristine and people need to be able to discern quality and value. Ok I can agree with that generally.
But let’s consider things that are not directly knowable to us and how we internally accept or reject some claims. If you hear that someone has discovered a cure for cancer are you going to believe it right away? If someone claims that they hold the world record for a standing still vertical leap of 6’ 0” but they stand only 5’ 9” are you going to believe them?
The highest standing jump is 1.616 m (5.3 ft) and was achieved by Evan Ungar (Canada) in Oakville, Ontario, Canada, on 13 May 2016. Evan broke the record at One Health Clubs in Oakville, with a crowd of 100 people cheering him on. (http://www.guinnessworldrecords.com/world-records/highest-standing-jump)
Let’s now turn to the Bible. I’m not going to go down the path of any miraculous claims for our discussion today. Yes I know you’re all bummed that I’m not bringing Charlton Hesston here today to show you a reenactment of the parting of the Red Sea, Hollywood style!
Where I want us to read today is from the days of King Solomon. Scripture describes that Solomon was given wisdom beyond any man who came before him or would come after him (2 Chronicles 1:11-12) and whole world knew about him. We now pick up in 2 Chronicles 9:1-6:
2 Chronicles 9:1-6 NIV
1 When the queen of Sheba heard of Solomon’s fame, she came to Jerusalem to test him with hard questions. Arriving with a very great caravan—with camels carrying spices, large quantities of gold, and precious stones—she came to Solomon and talked with him about all she had on her mind.
2Solomon answered all her questions; nothing was too hard for him to explain to her.
3 When the queen of Sheba saw the wisdom of Solomon, as well as the palace he had built,
4 the food on his table, the seating of his officials, the attending servants in their robes, the cupbearers in their robes and the burnt offerings he made at the temple of the LORD, she was overwhelmed.
5 She said to the king, “The report I heard in my own country about your achievements and your wisdom is true.
6 But I did not believe what they said until I came and saw with my own eyes. Indeed, not even half the greatness of your wisdom was told me; you have far exceeded the report I heard.
For emphasis now, I’ll re-read the first part of verse 6 again “But I did not believe what they said until I came and saw with my own eyes.” Is there anything about that verse that draws your attention? This verse struck a chord in me which is the reason why I’m sharing it with you today!
Let’s quickly partition this verse into some practical understanding. I’ll begin with the words “I did not believe”. These are words that, as believers, we really don’t want to say too often. But I will go out on a limb and suggest that each of us knows on the inside that we harbor these words and act upon them in that way much more than we want to express! Ultimately what we hold on to on the inside will find its way out one way or another.
So why did the Queen of Sheba not believe “what they said”? Scripture doesn’t tell us what her motivation was but certainly we can ascertain that there was something of significant interest (a prompting from the Lord is how I would describe it) that caused her to make plans, organize gifts and go! Maybe there was some contrast to her kingdom and culture that brought on this curiosity?
The next partition is the word “until” which is a conjunction … the joining of two sentence structures. This is the pivot from the “not believe” side towards the side that denotes belief. The word “until” also suggests a point of clarity for the Queen which in this case comes across as the “light-bulb-turning-on” moment and illuminating what will come next.
The next partition are the words “I came and saw with own eyes”. This is where the terminology becomes personal and experiential for the Queen. This is the result that she is standing upon and it’s the overarching point that she making, which is her personal testimony.
I know you didn’t come here this morning to have me explain some elementary grammar lesson to you. I ask that you please bear with me as I try to explain what was impressed upon me about this verse and the Queen’s experience.
Let me frame things in this way. I submit to you that the Queen was prompted by God to go and see what this foreign god (foreign to the Queen) had that was so special. After all this King Solomon who worships this “foreign god” had a great reputation that was world renown! So by the process of planning, packing and going to see King Solomon know that there was initiative from the Queen that made this meeting happen. Further when she saw all that was happening in and around King Solomon she got to see God at work through everything she made comment about. Then through personal observation that was not previously ready to be received being apart from King Solomon, the culmination of answering all her questions in his presence totally satisfied all her inquiry. And yet she was then overwhelmed with even more that she thought possible.
So what does this mean for us today? What’s the application? If there’s anything I look for and I hope you will also, and that is finding how to apply what I am learning and understanding from Scripture. I will offer you three areas to consider so you can know that God is working, and these will be your fill-in-the-blank answers:
John 6:44 ESV 44 No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day.
John 15:5 ESV 5 I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.
Amos 5:4 ESV 4 For thus says the LORD to the house of Israel: “Seek me and live;
John 6:29 NIV Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.”
1 Corinthians 2:14 NIV The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit.
Hebrews 13:15 NIV 15 Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that openly profess his name.
Exodus 15:2 NIV 2 “The LORD is my strength and my defense ; he has become my salvation. He is my God, and I will praise him, my father’s God, and I will exalt him.
Psalm 66:5 NIV 5 Come and see what God has done, his awesome deeds for mankind!
This is my encouragement to you today … to continue to seek the Lord in everything you do and give Him praise when you realize it! The scripture says that the Father is always working and that he holds everything in His hand (John 5:17, Job 12:10). You know already how the Spirit works with you when you became a believer. So continue to listen for Him and see how he’s shaping things not only in your life, but more importantly in the lives of those people he has placed in your life! Go and Seek the Lord for yourself. Stay in touch with Jesus by reading your Bible! Everything we need to know about Him and about our relationship with Him and relationship with everyone else in your life is all in there! See and Believe God’s work that’s happening in and through your day! You will find a great peace when you know first-hand that your personal testimony is growing in the Lord! Then give Praise and be in Wonder of God and Jesus! We can never praise Him enough nor can we be fully filled up with wonder because He is The Creator and He will continue to cause us to be in awe of His mighty works and of His indescribable grace to each of us through His son Jesus! Take this example to heart from the Queen of Sheba, that she didn’t believe until she went and saw with her own eyes. We each need to continue our personal walk in the work God has placed before us. When we see each step’s progress, nuances and outcome, there’s only one conclusion to be made: God IS at work all our lives if we would only look for Him!
John 5:17 NIV 17 In his defense Jesus said to them, “My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I too am working.”
Job 12:10 NIV 10 In his hand is the life of every creature and the breath of all mankind.
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