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Series: The God You Need to Know
Dr. Woodrow Kroll
August 30, 2010

Woodrow Kroll: Where is God?

Tami Weissert: And what is He doing?

Woodrow Kroll: Two universal questions and we'll find the answers to them in today's study. Hi, I'm Woodrow Kroll.

Tami Weissert: I'm Tami Weissert.

Woodrow Kroll: And this is Back to the Bible.

Tami Weissert: Thank you for taking some time to join us today. Dr. Kroll, we're in Florida. How in the world did we get to Florida?

Woodrow Kroll: We took a wrong turn in Albuquerque I think. Actually, we're here at the invitation of WAY Radio. WAY Radio is a wonderful radio station here in Jacksonville. We've actually been on WAY Radio since day one.

Tami Weissert: Wow! OK, so we're in Florida. We love that. But even though we're in a different location, always, always the same message.

Woodrow Kroll: Every day we open God's Word. God only wrote one Book and I think He'd be pleased to have us read this Book.

Tami Weissert: Every day this week, we're going to be looking at some specific things that God wants us to know.

Woodrow Kroll: Right, there are definite themes in the Bible, definite issues that God wants you at home and those of us gathered here on the beaches of Jacksonville, Florida--definite things He wants us to know about Him. And today on Back to the Bible, we're going to find out the very first thing and that is this: God wants you to know that God is in control. That's our subject today on Back to the Bible.

Tami Weissert: Today's Back to the Bible study was recorded earlier in Jacksonville, Florida, thanks to our friends at WAY Radio and First Christian Church of the Beaches.

Woodrow Kroll: Let me to encourage you--even at home or wherever you are--to get a Bible and join us in Psalm 115.

The first lesson that I learn about God and me is a very, very important lesson. In fact, there are two things you always want to remember about God and you--two great lessons in life. They are these: 1) there is a God, and 2) you are not Him.

We have to learn those two lessons and Psalm 115 is a great place to learn the lesson about God and His relationship with us. Now, if you have a Bible before you, you notice Psalm 115:1, begins with a declaration of the glory of God:

"Not to us, O LORD, not to us
but to your name be the glory,
because of your love and faithfulness."

Interesting that He starts with the glory of God because this declaration of God only being the One worthy of glory is really where we need to live every day of our lives. He begins the Psalm and He ends the Psalm with the declaration of the glory of God. He says, verses 16:

"The highest heavens belong to the LORD,
but the earth he has given to man.

It is not the dead who praise the LORD,
those who go down to silence;

It is we who extol the LORD,
both now and forevermore.
Praise the LORD" (Psalm 115:16-18).

Glory belongs to God. Now, one of the things God wants us to know and to understand very, very clearly is His glory. He will not share His glory with you or me. He will not share His glory with anyone else. He won't share His glory with any other gods. God says, "The glory belongs to Me."

Now, often the glory of God is associated with some of the great things God does. Remember Luke 2:14, "Glory to God in the highest and on earth, peace good will toward men." When God sent His Son as a baby to be born in a stable in Bethlehem, the angels knew that the glory belonged to God.

The same is true in Luke 17:18, the story of the 10 lepers. Ten lepers healed--only one came back to thank the Lord Jesus. And when he came back, he gave the glory to God--not to the Lord Jesus, but to God. In fact, Paul says that the same way in Romans 4:20, Abraham, the father of the Israelites did not doubt God's ability to give him a son, so it says, "He grew strong in faith and he also gave glory to God."

Now we want to do that today. In understanding what God wants us to know, we want to understand that whatever God wants us to know will bring glory to Him and good to us. If it doesn't bring glory to God and doesn't bring good to you, I can tell you right now, it did not come from God. It came from some place else, but it didn't come from God.

So he starts out in Psalm 115 talking about God being in control and he says the glory belongs to God. But in verse 2, however, is the universal question--the question everybody asks in every generation and of every ethnic background. "Why do the nations say, 'Where is their God?'"

Now, isn't that the universal question? The Psalmist desires to give glory to God, but he recognizes he lives in a world in which people don't naturally want to do that. In fact, just the opposite is true. In our world, most people even question the existence of God. Or, if they believe God exists, they think He's mean; He's selfish; He's doing horrible things to them. Every tornado, every hurricane, every disaster, every fire, people immediately blame on God. "Where was God when that happened?"

People who don't care about where God is when good things happen always bring Him up when bad things happen. Why is that? Well, it's because they don't want to believe God really is in control. They want to question the ethical and moral ability of God to take care of everything in our lives. So, if you happen to be one of those people, let me encourage you today. God says this about Himself. Verse 2 of Psalm 115: "Why do the nations say, 'Where is their God?'" He answers, verse 3, "Our God is in heaven; he does whatever pleases him."

Thomas Aquinas, one of the early writers of the Christian faith said, "To one who has faith, no explanation is necessary. But, to one without faith, no explanation is possible." See, the issue is not Do I understand God? The issue is Do I trust God? because you won't understand God. And God doesn't say, "What I want you to do is understand Me." What He says is, "What I want you to do is trust Me."

And in Psalm 115 He's showing us that the very first thing He wants us to know about Him is that He is in control. God is the One to whom the glory belongs and God is the One who gives the affirmation that He is absolutely in control of every situation; everything that comes into your life--none of these things takes God by surprise. If the death of His Son on the cross of Calvary did not take God by surprise, if He was in control of that situation...there isn't anything that happens in your life that you can say, "I don't think God knew about this." or "I don't think God cared for me about this." God is in control in every situation of life.

So, as we look at the first lesson that God wants us to learn about Himself it's that He does exist and He exists as the sovereign God. He is the God who is in control.

Tami Weissert: You're listening to Back to the Bible with Woodrow Kroll.

Woodrow Kroll: Now, throughout the course of this week, we want to find out what we can learn about God. How can we understand the character and the work of God even better? What is my relationship to this God? What do I know about this God? What does He mean to me? What do I mean to Him?

And the very first thing I learned about God is that God wants us to know that He will not allow other gods to control your life. He will not allow you to attribute to other gods, other things, other people, those things that belong only to Him. God is in control.

The universal question about belief is Where then is God? And the answer to that Where then is God? is He's in heaven and He does whatever He pleases. Now if that sounds a little bit autocratic to you, you know, "God does whatever He pleases," I have to tell you, if I did whatever I pleased, well, first of all, my wife wouldn't let me get away with that, but if I did whatever I pleased, probably the State would not appreciate it; the Country would not appreciate it; law enforcement agencies would not appreciate it; and you would not appreciate it.

One of the things we're going to learn throughout this week is that the reason God can say, "I'm in control; I do whatever I please." is that whatever pleases God always benefits you. And one of the lessons I want us to learn together about God today is that nothing happens in your life, nothing ever enters your life that God is unaware of and nothing ever enters your life that God is not already making sure happens for your benefit and for your good. "All things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose" (Romans 8:28).

God's never going to allow anything to happen in your life that He's not aware of and He's not going to allow anything to happen in your life that He does not approve of. That doesn't mean you and I are always happy about that thing that happens in our lives. It just means that underlying everything that occurs in life has to be this commitment and this understanding that we find in verse 3 of Psalm 115: "Our God is in heaven; he does whatever pleases him."

Today we're going to see what pleases the God who is in control. In just a bit I want to talk about the competition that comes from other "gods" in your life and how that competition is set up against the control of God in your life.

You know, we have the tendency to believe that God is in control until we don't want Him to be in control. But for now, we're to rest in this fact: when everyone says to you, "Where is your God?" you can confidently answer, "My God is in heaven and He does whatever He pleases."


Renee: Hi. I'm Renee from Darien, Georgia, and I have a comment/question from when you say, "If people ask 'Where is your God?' and you're supposed to answer 'He's in the heavens doing whatever pleases Him,' to me that's kind of a remote answer. To say that He's in the heavens, my immediate response would be to say, "Well, He's here with me. He's living in me." So is there just a comment; to me, that's not personal enough.

Woodrow Kroll: You're absolutely right. Remember, this comes from the Psalms in the Old Testament. Now, this particular Psalm doesn't have a name of an author, so we don't know who wrote Psalm 115, but whoever it was was a person who lived approximately in David's time,somewhere back in there, 1000-950 B.C. Now, if that person lived A.D.1000 to 950, they could have something else to say about where God is.

Not only could they say, "God is in the heavens and He does whatever He pleases, but oh, by the way, He also left the heavens in the person of His Son, Jesus, came and died on the cross and now lives within me." We have a whole new perspective on where God is and what He can do. He still does whatever He pleases; He just doesn't have to do it from the heavens anymore.

Tami Weissert: Our annual week at Willowbank in Bermuda is coming up October 23rd through the 29th. And the good news is there's still room for you. Hi, Tami here and I always look forward to our time at the Willowbank Resort and Hotel.

It's the ideal retreat because, not only do you get the warmth and the beauty of Bermuda, but you also get a wonderful chance to relax and reflect as we gather with Dr. Kroll for daily Bible study. The rest of the time is yours to explore the island. And there's so much to do--or not do--as you bask in the sun and just take in the beauty of Bermuda.

So make plans to join us. We have a special money saving package that includes your choice of room plus transportation by bus or ferry, transfers to and from the airport, special evening entertainment, and of course, free Back to the Bible study resources. I have to give a special mention to the gourmet meals and the afternoon teas. They are absolutely delicious.

Week at Willowbank--it's a retreat for your mind, body and soul. For details and a video, go to backtothebible.org or call to find out more about Back to the Bible's week at Willowbank coming up October 23rd through the 29th. Here's our number: 1-800-759-2425. And in Canada, call 1-800-663-2425.

You're listening to Back to the Bible with Bible teacher, Woodrow Kroll.

Woodrow Kroll: Well, today we're looking into Psalm 115 to learn a very valuable lesson about God. This is what God wants you to know: God wants you to know that He lives in His heaven and He does whatever He pleases. Now, that's good news for us because that means that we understand that there is a God, first of all, and that this God is going to listen to us. And what I want you to do, though, is I want you to go back to see the competitors of God.

Look at verse 4. Psalm 115:4-8:

"But their idols (that is, those who are not believing that God is in heaven and does what He pleases) their idols are silver and gold,
made by the hands of men,
They have mouths, but cannot speak,
eyes, but they cannot see;
they have ears, but cannot hear,
noses, but they cannot smell;
they have hands, but cannot feel,
feet, but they cannot walk;
nor can they utter a sound with their throats.
Those who make them will be like them
and so will all who trust in them."

Now, this is a pretty graphic description of the competition that God faces. And I know you're saying to yourselves, "OK, I understand these people in the Old Testament. They were a little "backwoodsish"; they weren't 21st century kind of people."

But think about the description He's giving here about the competition to the God that is in heaven. First of all, these gods (gods with a small "g"), don't live in heaven; they live on Earth. This is their domain. And you understand, according to Psalm 115, that verse 16 says, "The highest heavens belong to the LORD, but the earth he has given to man [you and me]."

You and I live on Earth. That's not always going to be true because Jesus is preparing a place for us in heaven, but at this point, God's competition always comes from the gods of mankind, from the "made-up gods" of mankind.

Now, since we're here in Psalm 115, let's just turn over a few chapters to Psalm 135. Here's another description of the competition for God. God wants you to know He is in control and He wants you to know He lives in heaven. He wants you to know He's real and He wants you to know He's there. And throughout the course of the week we're going to learn more about His personality, but look at this: Psalm 135 describes even more precisely these gods of the Earth. Look at verse 15, Psalm 135 at verse 15. He says:

"The idols of the nations are silver and gold,
made by the hands of men.
They have mouths, but cannot speak,
eyes, but they cannot see;
they have ears, but cannot hear,
nor is there breath in their mouths.
Those who make them will be like them,
and so will all who trust in them" (Psalm 135:15-18).

Now, you know, this sounds like déjà vu all over again, doesn't it? We read almost the same description of the competitors for God back in Psalm 115. Now we see it here again in Psalm 135.

Let's leave the Psalms here for a minute and go to one of the prophets. The Prophet Isaiah. Isaiah 40. This second half of the Book of Isaiah is a wonderful portion of Scripture that brings comfort to God's people. But in the process of comforting God's people (the first two verses of Isaiah 40 bring out this comfort), I want us to go all the way down to verse 18. Isaiah 40:18. Let's learn what the competitors were in Isaiah's day (seventh century B.C., seventh century before Christ).

Listen to what he has to say in Isaiah 14:18-20. He says:

"To whom, then, will you compare God?
What image will you compare him to?
As for an idol, a craftsman casts it,
and a goldsmith overlays it with gold
and fashions silver chains for it.
A man too poor to present such an offering
selects wood that will not rot.
He looks for a skilled craftsman
to set up an idol that will not topple."

Now, two descriptions (actually three if you consider Psalm 115 as well) and in all three of these descriptions of the gods, He says these gods start with trees. They start with chunks of wood. When man creates a god, he cuts down a tree and he takes a chunk of the tree and he fashions an idol out of it. Sometimes they take stone and chisel the stone to do the same thing. But notice that the god always comes from the earth.

Now, we're not satisfied with just an old wooden god or stone god, so what man does then is he covers it with silver or gold; makes it look better. He takes this tree that he has carved with his own hands and he overlays it with silver, overlays it with gold. Then he puts precious jewels on it and he really makes something from it. I mean, it's really nice to look at. But it's a tree! It's a chunk of wood!

So His point here in Psalm 115 is [that] this god that these people have made has eyes. They've put eyes in it, but it's like Frosty the Snowman. He can't see anything. He has hands, but it's like stick hands. Hands on a snowman can't feel anything. It has ears, but it can't hear. It's just an overlaid, expensive piece of wood.

The issue is this: Can a god like that really help you? Do you really want to trust your eternal future to a god that used to be a tree in your back yard? Now, you say, "I don't really do that." You know what? We've cut out the middleman in the 21st century.

So our portfolio becomes our god. Our job becomes our god. The material things we buy with the money that we would have overlaid a piece of wood with--that becomes our god. And we really aren't all that removed from these people. We just don't carve trees anymore. We just take the silver and that's what's important to us.

Now, there's a real danger in our going after competitors to the one God who sits in heaven and does whatever He pleases. And the danger is that the God in heaven has power. The gods we make do not.

Look at verse 8. Psalm 115:8--"Those who make them will be like them, and so will all who trust in them." If I make a god with my own hands, I become like the god I make because I make that god in my own thinking. And if I trust that god, I become just like that god. And I think there's a real comparison here. Many forms of images that are made are gods today, but they're all powerless because they are created with our own hands.

So the choice for you and me is this: Do we trust a God described in the Bible as sitting in the heavens doing whatever He pleases, or do we trust a god that we, from the materials that God created in this earth, simply make a god with our own hands?

Now, here's what God wants you to know. God wants you to know that He exists. God wants you to know that He is real. He's not made of a tree or of stone or overlaid with silver or gold. He's a person. God wants you to know He sits in heaven and God wants you to know He is sovereign. He will do whatever He pleases.

But tomorrow, we're going to find out that just because God is sovereign doesn't mean He's mean. Because He's also gentle, He's loving, He's kind, He's considerate, He's a Father. And for you and me, that makes all the difference in the world.

Tami Weissert: You're listening to Back to the Bible with Woodrow Kroll.

There's a God you need to know. Sounds like an introduction, doesn't it? Well, it is. It's also the title of this week's series [The God You Need to Know] which really gives us a basic introduction to God. Hi, this is Tami and during this series, we'll get to know God as a loving Father and we'll come to understand just how much pain He went through at the sacrifice of His only Son.

We'll also examine the claims Jesus made about Himself and discover how those claims hold up in the face of all world religions. These are important points of the Christian faith, so I hope you'll be able to catch all five studies this week. But even if you don't, if you miss one or two or you want to review what you've learned or maybe share Dr. Kroll's teaching with your friends and family, then be sure to order the entire series on CD. It's such a convenient and effective resource for personal or shared studies.

So give us a call. We'd be happy to take your order for this week's CD series. Here's our phone number: 1-800-759-2425.

We see God is in control today, absolutely. Tomorrow, we're looking at God as a loving Father. And sometimes people have a problem putting those two things together.

Woodrow Kroll: They do and that's why I think it's important to understand God fully, not just to spend one day on what God wants us to know. We're going to spend this entire week on what God wants us to know. Today, God wants you to know that He is in control. He is God. But if you think that means He's somehow distant from you and remote from you and doesn't even care about you, you need to join us again tomorrow because tomorrow we're going to Luke 23, the story of the death of the Lord Jesus. And what I want you to see tomorrow in our study is the best way to understand the character of God is to see God not as a sovereign but as a father--a Father who loved His Son dearly and yet was willing to give up His Son so you and I could have eternal life. That's tomorrow here on Back to the Bible.

Thanks to all of you for joining us here in this beautiful location in Jacksonville, Florida. Thanks to you at home for joining us as well. God bless you. I'm Woodrow Kroll. My prayer is the same every day for you at this time. I pray that you will have a good and godly day, for of what lasting value is a good day if it's not also a godly day?

Scripture used in today's program was based on the New King James Version of the Bible.

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