The God Who is Able
If you remember correctly, the stated purpose of this book was to help us get a better grip or feeling about who God really is; not just head knowledge, religious rules or church traditions, but getting to know God from both our intellect and heart so He can be present in every aspect of our lives.
With this in mind let us review several aspects of His character and being:
- God is spirit but uses male and female as well as material objects to reveal Himself to us. However, His most accurate revelation of Himself appears in the person of Jesus.
- We learned that the best way of knowing Him is to imitate Him, and the way to imitate Him is:
- To separate ourselves often for spiritual things like prayer, worship, service and study of the Word.
- To separate ourselves from impurity in thought, word, and deed.
- We studied Psalms 139 and saw that our relationship with God is a two-way street. He knows us inside/out and He wants us to know Him as well.
- Finally we learned three important things about God, especially when we are in trouble:
- God is sometimes silent, but He is never absent.
- Just because our prayers are not answered does not mean they are not heard.
- Just because God does not provide us with reasonable explanations for our troubles does not mean that there aren't any.
- Do not mistake God's silence for a lack of love or caring.
- When we are in trouble, we need to let God know about it.
- Sometimes we need to get the hurt out before we can go on with life.
- God encourages us to pour out our hearts and souls before Him in order to relieve us of worry and pain.
- He does not say He will answer, the promise is that He will listen.
- God has His purpose.
- God uses all things (good and bad) for His own purpose, which is good.
- He uses events in our lives, but not always to serve us and not always to serve us now.
- It is not, "God has a plan for my life," but rather, "God has His plan and my life fits into His plan."
- God is sometimes silent, but He is never absent.
In this last chapter I would like to add one final thought about God and His relationship with us when we are in trouble, and that is: our God is able.
Our God is Able
Do you know why our prayers are not always effective, why sometimes we stay in the same fear, the same mess, the same sin month in and month out? I think these things happen because we know about God, but we don't actually believe what we know about God.
A good example of this is in Numbers 11 where the Israelites were complaining about their diet of manna and longed for the food they had back in Egypt (especially meat). In this account:
- Moses pleads with the Lord knowing that the Lord can do something.
- In verses 19-20 God tells Moses that He will supply them meat not only for a meal, but for an entire month.
- Moses' response in verses 21-22 demonstrates that He knew God, but did not believe what He knew about Him.
- Moses acknowledged elsewhere that God was all-powerful and he worshiped Him as such, but now that God said what He would do, Moses doubted what he knew.
Look at God's answer to Moses in verse 23:
The Lord said to Moses, "Is the Lord's power limited? Now you shall see whether My word will come true for you or not."
God challenged Moses to believe what He knew about Him.
We spend a lifetime storing up information about God through Sunday school, retreats, Bible reading and church attendance, but when trouble comes we refuse to believe what we have learned about this God we say we know so well.
The result is that we pray with knowledge that God hears, but without the conviction that He can and will do something.
He is Able, Are We Willing?
Mike Cope, in his book, One Holy Hunger, says that the answer to this dilemma of knowledge and faith is to understand that:
- God is able if we are willing.
- He provides the power if we provide the willingness to believe.
- With every increment of faith, God reveals another measure of His power.
Paul talks about this connection in Ephesians 1:18-19.
18I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, 19and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe. These are in accordance with the working of the strength of His might.
In this verse Paul prays that God give the Ephesian Christians enlightenment so they will be able to understand two things:
- The blessings that await those who are Christians (resurrection, glorification, exaltation).
- The power that is available to guarantee those blessings (God's unlimited power).
Note that at the end of verse 19 he says that these revelations are made to those who believe. This is why people who do not believe in God, do not see Him; He is hidden from them because of disbelief. What is so plain to others escapes their notice because they are completely ignorant of Him or they refuse to believe what they do know.
Regardless of the reason, the net result is the same: blindness. But the opposite is also true, if we are willing to believe what we know, that belief will translate into greater knowledge which will, in turn, produce greater faith. The net result will not only be greater knowledge, but the blessings that come with a greater knowledge of God (i.e. peace, confidence, joy, power, love, hope, etc.).
What to Believe
When we read the Bible, and especially the passages where God is doing great things, it seems that He is always doing something for somebody else.
I think our problem is that we sometimes lack the willingness to believe that this great, all-powerful, all-knowing God will do something just for us!
In order to build both our knowledge and our faith I want to share with you two things that God can and will do for you:
1. He can deal with anything you bring Him.
He can deal successfully with all your hopes, fears, illnesses, failures, sins, doubts, plans, activities and troubles. Think back over all you know about God, was there ever a problem or situation where God did not answer or did not know how to answer? What, therefore, makes your problem so special or difficult for Him?
None of the people God dealt with ever expected Him to answer their prayer in the way that He did. For example, Moses wanted to lead an insurrection and ended up leading sheep for 40 years. Paul wanted to preach to the Gentiles and ended up in prison.
Do any of us doubt that God knows what He was doing, that He cares or is not sure of succeeding in His overall plan even if His plan is not our plan, His timing not our timing? Let's keep on believing, even when our prayers are not answered in the way we wanted and at the time we expected.
Perhaps what God wants is our faith and continued prayers in the face of great odds. Many times these accomplish His purpose without our knowledge. In the end, however, it is His will that counts and not ours.
2. He can save you.
In baseball, the relief pitcher is called in to "save" the game because he is the one who will try to maintain the lead so the batters on his team can secure more runs. If the team is too far behind, however, they won't bother using the relief pitcher and will save him for another day.
Our God is the ultimate reliever. We are never too far behind in the game of life for Him to be called in to win the battle. The only thing that keeps Him out of play is our refusal to call on Him in faith; faith to believe, not just that He will play, but faith to believe that He will win for us.
In the last few chapters of this short book we have learned several things about God in order to know Him better.
If you remember anything about Him, remember that He is able if we are willing. With this in mind I ask you to consider the following: are you willing to believe that God is able to forgive you of any sin you have ever committed? Are you willing to believe that God is able to take you back even if you have denied Him and been unfaithful? Are you willing to believe that God is able to comfort your hurt, give you direction, steady your emotions, or do what it takes to help you through one more day? If you are willing to believe, then God is able to do these and greater things for you (Luke 8:50).
- What is the most accurate portrayal of Himself that God provides and what do we see in that portrayal?
- What is the best way of knowing God?
- What can we learn from Psalm 139 regarding our relationship with God?
- State three things from the associated text that we can know about God, especially during times of trouble.
- What is the difference between knowing about God and knowing God?
- We know that God is all powerful and willing to be active in our lives. Why, then, does He not impose His will on us?
- Discuss from the associated text the two things God can and will do for us.
- How can you use this lesson to grow spiritually and help others come into a relationship with Jesus?