If God is in Control...What Does He Control?
Scripture: Psalm 147:1–147:20
If God is in Control . . .What Does He Control?
Pastor Joel Sutton, September 15 2013; If God is in Control . . . Sermon 1
God controls . . .
. . . the operations of creation vv. 4-8; 15-18; Isaiah 4:25-27
. . . the course of history vv. 12-14; Isaiah 40:23, 24
- He rules over rulers and nations. Prov. 21:1, 31; Job 12:23
- He works good even out of evil. Gen. 50:20; Rom. 8:28
- He sets boundaries. Dan. 4:35; Job 1:12; 2:6
- He preserves His people. 1 Peter 1:9
. . . the availability of His grace vv. 10,11; Isaiah 40:28-31
Take Home Idea: The Sovereign God who controls creation and keeps history on course is the same God who offers His grace.
Sermon Discussion Guide
- Open: Share a time in your own life when it seemed like God was not in control or share a time in your own life when it seemed obvious that God was in control.
- Read: Habakkuk 1.1-4
- What is Habakkuk's complaint?
- God seems to be allowing injustice to go unpunished within the Kingdom of Judah in which Habakkuk lives. The wicked prosper and the righteous are oppressed.
- Why does Habakkuk bring this before God? What does he think God can do?
- Apparently, Habakkuk believes God can and should do something about this. It reflects Habakkuk's faith that God has the power to act, to establish justice for his nation.
- What kind of answer do you think Habakkuk is hoping for?
- Probably that God will fix it - that God will do what Habakkuk thinks best - punish those Habakkuk thinks wicked and vindicate those Habakkuk thinks righteous
- Read Habakkuk 1.5-11
- What is God's response to Habakkuk?
- God's response is that He is aware of the problem and already at work. Specifically, God is raising up the Chaldeans (Babylonians) to punish the wickedness of Judah
- What does it reveal about God's power and involvement in our world?
- God knows everything that is happening - he is not sleeping or taking a vacation. Moreover, God is actively involved in our world - even when we may not see it.
- Read Habakkuk 1.12-17
- How does Habakkuk feel about this response?
- Habakkuk is horrified. He seems to think God is unaware that (in his humble opinion) it is worse to allow the Babylonians to be the instrument of his punishment since surely they are (in his opinion) even more wicked than Judah
- What is his second complaint?
- He complains that surely God will not let these even more wicked gentiles go unpunished or conquer the whole world.
- Read Habakkuk 2.6-8, 18-20 (or all of chapter 2 if you have time)
- How does God respond to this complaint?
- God responds by assuring Habakkuk that no one will escape his justice. The Babylonians will be punished for their wickedness even as Judah will be punished for theirs.
- Habakkuk's original complaint is about the justice of God, how does this last section a response to that as well? (Who is beyond the reach and power of the justice of God?)
- God affirms, as we have seen, that his justice will always be accomplished. Neither the Babylonians nor even his own people in Judah are beyond the justice of God.
- Read Habakkuk 3.1-2, 16-19 (or all of chapter 3 if you have time)
- What is Habakkuk's final response?
- Habakkuk prays. He praises God, puts his hope in God, and prays for mercy.
- Would you say that Habakkuk understands exactly what God plans to do and why?
- Clearly not.
- Would you say that Habakkuk "likes" the plan? (v.16)
- Clearly not. Habakkuk trembles at what is to come.
- Given your answers to b and c, why do you think Habakkuk prays for the work of the Lord to go forward? What has he learned that changed his attitude?
- He has remembered the greatness and sovereignty of God. He has remembered that the God who made all creation has also sustained it from the beginning - and all without Habakkuk's help. And he has been reminded that his faith should not be in his own understanding - in his own desire or plans for world events, but in God and his plan.
- Given b and c and verse 17, how do you think Habakkuk is able to pray v.18-20?
- Habakkuk has been reminded that not just judgment, but also salvation comes from God. Habakkuk has remembered that the plans of God are greater and better than anything he might himself conceive.
- When we look at nature and the course of history, it can be easy to be discouraged or even to wonder where God is and what he is doing. Habakkuk asks essentially the same questions. He is troubled by what is going on within his country - and later by the coming course of international politics.
- What can we learn from Habakkuk's final response and prayer?
- Can we expect to understand or like everything that God allows to happen? Can we expect to know all of God's plans? Why not?
- What does God's sovereignty over nature, history and salvation mean for us in these situations? How did that knowledge change Habakkuk?
- How should these facts impact the way we live and look at world events?
- How should it impact the way (and maybe the amount) we pray?