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Greatness Defined.

What a lot of hype for today's Super Bowl! While I hope to see my hometown Forty-Niners get the 'w', flashbacks of Montana and Steve Young, about one thing I am clear: no matter the winner, no matter the level of play or play calling, any level of greatness will be truly limited.

Only One is not limited - in scope, definition, ability, knowledge, power and love.

As we turn the page to Romans chapter 11, we see Paul consider his 'unsaved' fellow Jews once again. And in so doing, he asks questions about the ways of God. Sometimes I wonder if Paul's questions are truly his, or if they are questions he knew others would ask . . . questions the Holy Spirit who inspired his writing would know that centuries later would jump off the page at us.

Here's the thing: if you could answer all of your questions about God, he would not be eternal.   If you could understand all of God’s thinking, he would not be infinite, and your thinking would not be finite.  If you could figure out all of his ways, and what he would do next, then you would not need faith, whereas the writer to the Hebrews clearly states that, “without faith, it is impossible to please God.”1

There is a reason that God’s ways are often called mysterious, because his ways are higher than our ways, and his thoughts are higher than our thoughts.2  Indeed, his thinking is beyond our capacity to comprehend—he is God, and we are not.  So, while Paul agonized over the hard-heartedness and the arrogance of the Jews’ rejection of Jesus, in the end, he trusted God.  He knew the Lord’s heart, and he trusted his ways.  He knew the holy Scriptures that spoke of the Lord’s goodness. 

We saw Paul pour out his heart, expressing his anguish over how many of his Jewish brethren had spurned Jesus the Messiah.  Yet, he highlights the truth of the sovereignty of God over all things. And then Paul the teacher, becomes Paul the poet, as he expresses the feelings of his heart and his own concrete thinking about God being the origin of all things.   

“Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out!

“For who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has become His counselor?”

“Or who has first given to Him And it shall be repaid to him?”

For of Him and through Him and to Him are all things, to whom be glory forever. Amen. Romans 11.33-36, NKJV

Oh yes, Paul knew the Scriptures!  In this short passage, he quoted the prophet Isaiah and he quoted Job.  He anchors his Christian teaching to the Old Testament truths which he had studied and loved since his childhood.  Paul knew Job’s biography well--that though Job lost everything of consequence and value in his life, he trusted the heart of God.  “Naked I came from my mother’s womb; and naked shall I return.  The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.”5  Ah, blessed be the name of the Lord.

What a charge to you and me—that whatever comes our way, we can say, “Blessed be the name of the Lord.”

Paul knew what it was to suffer, because he was beaten, stoned, shipwrecked, imprisoned—and all for the cause of Christ. Strangely, each time his commitment to Jesus just grew stronger.  O, that you and I might be like him!

There are times when the difficulties of life defy real description, and any earthly consolation. And yet because our Lord suffered, he knows our suffering and does not leave us alone in it.  He is there with us in our pain.  HE GETS US. When we do not understand, he yet bids us, ‘trust in the Lord, and do good.’6   And then in the very next verses in Psalm 37, he invites us to move still higher, still deeper: “Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to him, trust in him, and he will do it.”7   For it is in him we live and move and have our being.8

So with Paul, join me and say aloud, “Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways!  For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen.”  Indeed, great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised!9

P.S. --did you see the 'He Gets Us' commercials? I confess that I did not know much about the advertising campaign, but then learned of the impact it has made . . . wow! More than 600,000 people signed up for Bible reading campaigns, more than a 100,000 found their way to local churches--these things for starters. It seems that our culture is increasingly wanting to know about Jesus Christ, and this campaign gives them direction on just how to do it.10 And you? What's your part? You could ask someone at work what they thought about it . . . and then, 'well what do you know about Jesus?' and the next question and so on. Open the door. Set the table. Invite folks into a conversation--the most important one they will ever have.

Throwing it back - Great is the Lord,

Just contemplate God's greatness~


1   Hebrews 11.6

2   Isaiah 55.9

3   Isaiah 40.13

4   Job 41.11

5   Job 1.21

6   Psalm 37.3

7   Psalm 37.4,5

8   Acts 17.28

9   Psalm 48.1

10 - great podcast that talks about He Gets Us:

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