God’s thoughts and ways are higher than ours. Everything not from above is darkened by our human nature and our natural reason. Our God lives; His supernatural power goes on and on. (Isaiah 55:8-9)
Speaker(s): Pastor Bob Colban
Sermon # 11297
11:00 AM on 7/16/2017
P. Bob Colban
It’s great to be here. My wife and I were gone for five months. All of you who thought we left the church, shame on you! How can you ever think that about us! You can all repent right now! We were on the mission field. We’ve been in the church 40 years. We’ve watched missionaries come and go every season or every service. Which is why we have empty seats. We’ve been in the church 40 years and never went on the mission field. We were always part of home base. At the age of 64 – my wife is much younger than me! I almost blew it! I’m 64 and it’s amazing it was so clear. God put it on our hearts to go to Southern France to be with the church in Nimes. I used to think passed a certain age, the mission field is for young people. In the back of my mind, I think did we miss the opportunity but it was never clear to go. At 64, God said it was time to go. Whether 21 or 18 or 80, if God says go, just go. It was an amazing five months. After accumulating stuff for 40 years, how simple you can live on the other side of the world in a small apartment with two plates and 4 cups and forks. There were 4 coffee mugs in the cabinet and I only need one! In our house here there are like 50 and I only need one! It was a great experience. The churches in France were so, – it was amazing how they embraced us. The two hardest days were saying goodbye to our family. We knew we wouldn’t see our kids and grandkids for five months and then saying good bye to our friends in France. That’s where we have been and it’s great to be back here. We watched services twice a week on the internet. People in France watch it. People in Helsinki watch it on the internet. They are connected to you. How much they look to Baltimore. That connection to Baltimore is very real.
This is a verse many of us have read and thought about, Is. 55:8-9. We’ve read this verse many times and heard people preach on it. One of the things that hit me about it is when God talks about his thoughts being higher than ours. He kind of quantifies it. Your thoughts are here and mine are from heaven, a great gulf between. In one sense his thoughts and our thoughts aren’t even in the same atmosphere. Sometimes they are so high we can’t figure them out. We can do two things. We can allow God to give us his thoughts.
Two stories of the house. Second level where God is. His thoughts will take us to that level. Some of those thoughts are so high for us they are hard for us to wrap our arms around. We have this tendency because we can’t grasp God’s thoughts, we bring God down to our level. I don’t understand this, I can’t wrap my arms around this, but I can wrap my arms around this part. We say I have to be able to wrap my arms around God, so our natural tendency is to bring God down to our level. When you think of these terms and things we read in the Bible, like “It is finished.” These words are profound. We hear about justification and how God sees us perfect and complete. And we read how we are seated above in heavenly places. We love hearing about it, but do we really understand it? Naturally we have a hard time understanding. After 40 years of being a Christian, I have to be continually reminded of these high thoughts. We slowly take God down to our level where we can understand him. He says you don’t have it. These thoughts come from heaven. Will we think with God and allow ourselves to be elevated to that place? Will we pull God down to that level and say I have a God that I can control or understand? When we don’t understand justification or eternal security or that the work is completed, what is the option? The only way to think is God has done something for me and now I owe him something. That’s bringing supernatural truths down to our level. I owe a great debt to God. What do I have to do to repay you? We start to think naturally about God. These thoughts are supernatural.
When we see the life of Christ and what he has done, he was always trying to take his disciples from a natural to a supernatural understanding of who he was and who his Father was. When we try to put God in this little box, he says I’m not going to allow it. You don’t understand me. I’m so much bigger than this box you put me in. My thoughts are so much higher than yours. That’s the conflict for us as believers.
I think of how people approach the Bible. God spoke the world into existence. That has been such a controversial verse. Why? It’s been debated. People try to understand it, excuse it. People say it’s just fables and come up with theories to explain it. I have a Scofield Bible and he gives ten explanations for this. What did God say? God created the heavens and earth. It’s very simple. That concept is so hard for our natural mind to understand. What about this or that? We start to get confused because we try to take something supernatural that God has done and wrap our arms around it naturally. We mix a little science with the Bible and end up with nothing. God says my thoughts are higher than yours. Do I understand how God created the world in six days? I don’t but I know he tells us he spoke it into existence. We believe it by faith because this is a thought so much higher than me. You know my ways, my good days, bad days. Such K is too high for me. He is thinking of how God knows him. I can’t wrap my arms around it, but I believe that is true. It’s a high thought but when I try to think of it naturally, it doesn’t work. I’m going to believe it by faith.
Do we really believe we are seated above in heavenly places? I love the fact that is how God sees us. We have this evidence we are seated here. Yet we have this word from God that comes from heaven that says we are seated above in heavenly places. Don’t ask me to explain how that happens. It’s too high for me. It’s a supernatural thought that comes from the God who created all things with his voice. God says something that is up here and we say that can’t be true because this is all I can understand. Man rejected who God was and went about to create God in their own image. They have taken this God who is supernatural and brought him down to where they think they can understand him. God is just like us and then when we hear this amazing thought we say that doesn’t make any sense. It’s a thought that originates from heaven that is supernatural and you are trying to understand it naturally.
When I graduated from high school many years ago, my parents had a graduation party. My relatives were there and giving gifts, like money. My cousin gave me a dictionary. Oh! A dictionary. That’s really nice! You’re trying to put on a good face and not show extreme disappointment with the gift you just received. Now it’s 47 years later and after the past ten years or so, I notice I go to that dictionary more than any other book outside the Bible. It’s an old dictionary and the definitions in there are amazing. I don’t remember any other gifts that I got but that. Supernatural means existing or occurring outside the normal experience or knowledge of man. God does these things outside the normal experience or K of man. God lives there in a sense. We want to take God down to the realm of man and think he lives and thinks like us. He lives above us, outside our normal experience or K. Not explainable by the known forces or laws of nature is the second definition. God created the laws of nature but then he goes beyond the laws of nature. Ever try to walk on water? It doesn’t work. I’m sure there is a technical explanation why we sink but we do sink. We see Jesus walking on the water, not explainable by the laws of nature. He should have sunk but he didn’t. He went beyond the laws of nature that he created. That’s where God exists. The Gospels are full of this. When we think of the interaction God has had with man, he was always going beyond the natural.
When they came to the Red Sea in Ex 14, they have their back to the sea and the Egyptians coming at them. We could say God made a mistake. They are trapped there. There are so many natural things to think about. They have their backs to the sea. Even the children of Israel who had seen the ten plagues start saying did God bring us here to kill us? We evaluate the situation and look at the evidence. They can’t go this way or this way. They are stuck. Natural thinking would tell us that. There is a God that would exist beyond the natural. I led you here to show you something. I’m going to part the sea and you’ll walk through it. Naturally he could have taken another route. Naturally he could have gone a different way. I’ll put your back to the wall and do something that exceeds the K of men and goes against the laws of nature. I’m not a God that exists on this plane. I’m a God that exists on this plane. When women went to the tomb, what did they bring? Spices for the purpose of preparing the body. They went to the tomb thinking Jesus was dead.
As they get there, there are two women in Lk 24, they saw the tomb was rolled open. Why are you looking for the living among the dead? Why are you looking for he who is alive amongst the dead? These disciples came thinking his body would be there. You think I’m in this tomb? Their evidence was I saw him die on the cross. I saw the body being carried to the tomb. God said I’ll do something that will exceed your natural thinking. Time and space and laws of nature and physics and death has no power over me. Why are you looking for someone who is alive amongst the tombs? He is a God that is supernatural. His resurrection exceeded every law of nature he ever put into place. He is a living God. He’s changing in the sense that he is not going to be put in this little box for people to say nice Jesus. Like a little kid or dog. Nice doggie. Don’t treat me that way. I am a living God.
When he comes to Jn 5, the paralyzed man said I have no one to help me. Take up your bed and walk. Maybe we can give him some money and make his life better. Jesus said I am greater than that. Pick up your bed and walk. The blind man made mud and put it in his eyes. Does mud cure blindness? It’s not the cure. That’s in the medical book. It’s not in there. He’s been blind from birth. He’s been lame from birth. Pick up your bed and walk. This woman caught in adultery should be stoned. He is a supernatural God. The law says be stoned but Jesus said where are your accusers? This woman walked free because Jesus did something different than what was expected by the multitudes. Jesus, we have these 5,000 people here. Go feed them. Jesus, we have 5,000 people. We have to send them away because they have no food. Jesus said feed them. That’s enough. Don’t send them away. That’s supernatural. Natural thinking: Send them away. Supernatural thinking: Let’s feed them. How do you multiply fish? Maybe slowly with natural birth but not instanteously with 5,000 people.
This is the God that we have. This is how he wants us to know him. He’s going to speak to us these ways. These supernatural thoughts that he wants us to think with him. He wants us to think with him and not bring him down to think with us. That’s the message! I could have said that one line and said have a nice day. That’s what the whole message is. God’s thoughts are higher than ours. Come up and think with me.
You’re 64. You can’t go on the mission field. You can. I will make a way. I can’t and I can’t. That’s all this natural thinking. That’s the way we think sometimes. God says will you think with me. I want you to think something heavenly about yourself and your situation.
Let’s think with this great God we have. I can’t do anything about it? Watch me. You can’t heal on the Sabbath? Really. That guy was blind from birth. He’ll never see. Watch me. One of the high priests said they wanted the Romans to guard the tomb. If we don’t do this, the result of not doing it will be worse than anything that’s happened so far. If he is raised from the dead, we are in more trouble than ever. This is the scribes and Pharisees saying that. This resurrected Christ is more dangerous than the one we just crucified. Watch me. I’m so much bigger than your crucifixion and your cross.
I love that about God. We tend to bring God down to our level. We think God’s thoughts are just a little bit higher than ours. God, I’d love to see a healing but this sickness is real. I could heal you just like that if it’s my perfect will. Medical reports are natural but God says in a moment I can heal you because I am supernatural. I can do it in a moment of time. That’s our God. He’s a living God.
We are the church of the living God. So many live with a historical God. What about today? We are stuck here and God says I am a living God. Let’s keep going. I have so much more for you. After Job debated with his friends for 39 chapters, God finally intervened. I’ve been listening to you for 39 chapters. It’s getting old. That’s the way I personify him. They were trying to figure out what Job’s problem was. God called all of that dark counsel. Who is this speaking with this dark counsel? God says where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Job didn’t say anything after that and neither would we. God goes through what he has done in creating the world. Were you there, Job? Did you see that Job? I’m so much bigger than these 39 chapters you’ve been talking about. Job, I am using you as an example to the atmosphere and bragging about you. It’s so far above what you think is going on here.
That’s the God we serve, the supernatural God who is beyond our understanding in many ways. He wants us to join him in these thoughts.
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