Meanderings

Francis Chan on “God Is Strength”

Francis Chan, pastor of Cornerstone Church in Simi Valley, CA, opens his talk with a question: If you met the children of the world’s strongest man (an actual member of his church) and his wife who can benchpress 275 pounds, would you expect to meet some “scrawny kids”?

We have an all-powerful God, but many churches today are puny and weak.  What happened?  We grew up with powerful stories (e.g. David and Goliath, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abendego, Daniel and the lions’ den, Elijah on Mt. Carmel).  Joshua and Caleb were ready to march into the Promised Land with Moses and when that failed, they waited 45 years and responded with the same vigor and strength.  Where are the 85 year old Caleb’s today?

Paul reminded Timothy “ God did not give us a spirit of cowardice, but rather a spirit of power and of love and of self-discipline” (2 Timothy 1:7).

Or as John tells us in Revelation, “Those who conquer will inherit these things, and I will be their God and they will be my children. 8 But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the polluted, the murderers, the fornicators, the sorcerers, the idolaters, and all liars, their place will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death” (Revelation 21:7-8).  The first on the list are the cowards.  Do people see you as powerful?

What are we waiting for?  It seems as if the longer we are in the church the more we get scared.  We need to remember who we worship.

“Our God is in the heavens; he does whatever he pleases” (Psalm 115:3).

Daniel says it this way:

For his sovereignty is an everlasting sovereignty,and his kingdom endures from generation to generation. 35 All the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing,and he does what he wills with the host of heaven and the inhabitants of the earth. There is no one who can stay his hand or say to him, “What are you doing?” (Daniel 4:34b-35).

God can do whatever God wants to do … we are often told we can, but in the end we cannot do anything.  J. Vernon McGee once said, “This is God’s universe and God does things his way.  You may have a better way, but you don’t have a universe!”

Paul tells Timothy “[God] who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords. 16 It is he alone who has immortality and dwells in unapproachable light, whom no one has ever seen or can see; to him be honor and eternal dominion. Amen (1 Timothy 6:15b-16).  No matter how powerful or successful we become, God is still King of kings, Lord of lords, who provides us sustenance.  Only in our arrogance can we question God.

Paul’s baptismal credo in Philippians 2:5-11 echoes the prophet Isaiah’s words “Turn to me and be saved, all the ends of the earth! For I am God, and there is no other. 23 By myself I have sworn, from my mouth has gone forth in righteousness a word that shall not return: ‘To me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear'” (Isaiah 45:22-33). When God says it, it happens … he even swears by himself.  There will be a day when every knee will bow, every knee, before God.

Our God is strong and as his people are called to be strong as well.  Remember God’s challenge to Joshua:

Be strong and courageous; for you shall put this people in possession of the land that I swore to their ancestors to give them. 7 Only be strong and very courageous, being careful to act in accordance with all the law that my servant Moses commanded you; do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, so that you may be successful wherever you go. 8 This book of the law shall not depart out of your mouth; you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to act in accordance with all that is written in it. For then you shall make your way prosperous, and then you shall be successful. 9 I hereby command you: Be strong and courageous; do not be frightened or dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:6-9).

We are called to be bold and strong and courageous, because we are children of a bold and strong and courageous God.