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May 27, 2016

In response to a question I posed to my pre-school Sunday School class more than 25 years ago, our son Bobby replied, “We can’t understand God because our brains are puny compared to his.” Indeed. Bobby knew at five years of age what Solomon declared at the dedication of the temple: “Behold heaven and the highest heaven cannot contain you; how much less this house I have built.” (1 Kings 8: 27).   God will not be contained by the limitations of our puny brains. God’s reach, intellect and power are limitless.

Jen Wilkin sums up how Psalm 139 reveals God’s attributes to us: “Omniscient, eternal, incomprehensible, omnipresent, self-sufficient, self-existent, omnipotent, sovereign, infinite, immutable. No, Psalm 139 is not a psalm about me, fearfully and wonderfully made. It is a psalm about my Maker, fearful and wonderful. It is a psalm intended to inspire awe.” (Wilkin, None Like Him (2016) Crossway, p. 257).

This week’s Scripture lessons are examples of how we understand, or don’t understand, the incredible breadth, power, and love of God. [1]In his book, Knowing God, J.I. Packer quotes from a sermon delivered by C.H. Spurgeon when he was just 20 years of age: “ There is something exceedingly improving to the mind in a contemplation of the Divinity. It is a subject so vast, that all our thoughts are lost in its immensity; so deep that our pride is drowned in its infinity . . . But while the subject humbles the mind, it also expands it. He who often thinks of God, will have a larger mind than the man who simply plods around this narrow globe.” (emphasis original) (Packer, Knowing God (1973) InterVarsity Press, p.13).

Solomon certainly knew that no temple could contain God or limit his reach. He asked God to listen to the prayers of Jews and non-Jews alike: “Then hear from heaven, your dwelling place, and do whatever the foreigner asks of you, so that all the peoples of the earth may know your name and fear you, as do your own people Israel.” (1 Kings 8:43, NIV).

This is a lesson that Bobby knew instinctively, by the grace of God, and that Solomon in his great wisdom knew, as did the centurion, in an extraordinary exhibition of humility and faith. But the Galatians–not so much.

Paul chastises the Galatians for “so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and . . . turning to a different gospel—not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ” (Galatians 1:6-7). The church in Galatia was preaching that Gentiles had to practice Jewish laws and customs, including circumcision, to be saved. They tried to impose limitations on God’s ability to reach out to others beyond those who followed Jewish customs. But almost a thousand years earlier, Solomon knew that God listens to both Jews and Gentiles.

In telling Jesus, through friends, that he was not worthy of having Jesus in his home, the centurion exhibited a humility and faith so powerful that Jesus exclaimed: “I tell you, not even in Israel have I found such faith.” (Luke 7:1-10).  The centurion showed us how to tap into Jesus’ power through his simple faith.  He came to Jesus in total humility and asked for his help.

God encourages us to open our mind to the incredible breadth of his power and love: “Learn to relate to others through My Love rather than yours. Your human love is ever so limited, full of flaws and manipulation. My loving Presence, which always enfolds you, is available to bless others as well as you. Instead of trying harder to help people through your own paltry supplies, become aware of My unlimited supply, which is accessible to you continually.” (Young, Sarah, Jesus Calling (2004) Thomas Nelson, p. 139).

Unlike Brian Finch in the popular TV show, Limitless, we don’t need a dose of the miracle drug NZT-48 to have access to God’s limitless intellect and power. We don’t need to do it on our own. In fact, he insists that we depend on him and not on our own understanding (Proverbs 3:5). He offers to help us and encourages us to tap into his unlimited love, intellect, and all of his other resources to help us be a blessing to those around us.

Tap into God’s limitless resources today. Ask him to forgive you and to help you. You will never regret it.

Diane Cieslikowski Reagan


[1] The Scripture texts for the Second Sunday after Pentecost are Psalm 96:1-9; 1 Kings 8:22-24; 27-29; 41-43; Galatians 1:1-12; Luke 7:1-10.

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