Jesus, Provider and Sustainer

Scripture: Philippians 4:19
Date: 02/23/2013 
Lesson: 8
"... Jesus continues to sustain the existence of the universe by His power. The universe is not independent; its existence depends on the continuous exercise of divine will."
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Welcome to Sacramento Central Seventh-day Adventist church. We're so glad that you're tuning in and joining us. If this is your first time - an extra special welcome. This is where you go every week. You spend time with us here at central church.

We're so glad that you're just tuning in again - you're part of our Sabbath school family. We have visitors in our sanctuary from all over the world. We have ones from argentina with us and we're excited. Here at central we get visitors from all over the planet - and if you are ever in the Sacramento area and you want to come and worship with us, you know where to go. We would love to have you.

Of course, if you're local, come on over to Sacramento Central Seventh-day Adventist church and join with us on an upcoming program. We always sing your favorite songs and today is no exception, so pull out your hymnals - those of you at home - and we're going to start - #518 - 'standing on the promises'. This is from nicole in australia, veronica, angel, and jasmine in the bahamas, camillo, even and priscilla in California, sean in Canada, lydia in columbia, gregory in dominica, kimberly, rafael, candy and yah in england, emanuel in florida, gary, lou, and katy in Georgia, April in honduras, bob and Paula in Idaho, tanusia in jamaica, armore in Louisiana, leo and dorothy in Michigan, dolly, jane, vanetta and joyann in new york, mattea, tricia and adrian in new zealand, william in nigeria, roy, helen and sydney in North Carolina, carol in Oklahoma, carlos in Pennsylvania, vincent in the Philippines, luciano in portugal, armenia, jason, and tony in trinidad and tobago, and ephert and anning in the united arab emirates. Lovely song - we're going to sing all three stanzas - 'standing on the promises' - join with us. I love it when bernadette plays the piano.

She just puts life into it and I'm really happy for all of the musicians that join us every week here at central church. There's just something nice about having more than just voices - piano and strings and woodwinds and - thank you, guys. If you have a favorite song that you want to sing with us on an upcoming program, it's so simple. If you have a computer and you can get online, all you have to do is go to our website at '', click on the 'contact us' link and there you can find every song in our hymnal and you can sing it with us and we love hearing from so many of you. You love to sing hymns and so do we so it works out great.

So send them in and as we continue working our way through the hymnal - #40 is what we're singing today. We're starting in the 'morning worship' section so some of these may be a little bit slower. I'm sure not all of them, but there's some very beautiful songs and so we're going to learn them with you. #40 - 'The dawn of God's dear Sabbath'. We're going to sing all four stanzas of this one and this is from beryl in australia, lisa ann in Canada, andrew and rachel in the United States - I'm not sure where that - United States - yeah, we know where that is.

So #40 - through 4. Father in Heaven, it is your Sabbath - your holy Sabbath that we celebrate every week - a gift that you've given to us because you loved us and you wanted us to take 24 hours out of the week to just reflect on you and what you've done for us. You knew that we would get so busy that we would just keep going and never stop and so you gave us this memorial of creation so that we could always reflect on you as our heavenly father, you as our Savior and you as our creator. And I pray that today will be no exception. That we will spend that time with you as we open up your word and we study together.

We just ask you to fill us. Give us that peace - that understanding that only you can give no matter what we're going through. In Jesus' Name, amen. At this time our lesson study is going to be brought to us by our senior pastor here at Sacramento Central Seventh-day Adventist church, Pastor Doug Batchelor. Morning.

It's fun learning some of those new songs and - it's just like reading a new hymnal all over again. Happy Sabbath. We are glad to be able to study with you. I want to always welcome those who may be visiting here at the Sacramento central church. We're glad that you're here - glad for our regular folk as well - our extended class that is watching either on satellite or the internet right now or listening on the radio and some of the extended members of central church that are out there around the globe, welcome.

We are continuing our study today - we'll be getting, in just a moment, into lesson 8 of the quarterly dealing with origins but, as we often do, we have a free offer. Now, today is sort of an extra special offer. This is a full-size book called 'victory through Christ'. We thought as we were talking today about God as our sustainer as well as our creator, it would be helpful if we offered something that talked about 'how do you have a victorious life?' Do you ever struggle with, maybe, temptation? And do you like to know - have that peace and assurance that you are walking in Christ and you are living that successful, victorious Christian life, not walking after the flesh but after the Spirit. This is by e.

g. White. We'll send it to anybody that calls and asks for it. By the way, it's offer #783 and if you call the number up on your screen, they'll be happy to send that to you. And so, just ask for 'victory through Christ' and that's our free gift for today.

Getting into our lesson right away - we've got a lot to talk about. We're on lesson #8 in our quarterly and, by the way, for our friends who are watching, if you'd like to study along with us, I'll bet you if you give a call or drop by and visit your local seventh day adventist church, they'll provide one of these for you where you could study along with us. You can also find this online if you just type in the words - as they say, Google the words Sabbath school. You'll find that there's a couple of different sites that offer the study guide where you can do it online. Between you and me, that's principally how I do my study from day to day is - I open it up online.

Sometimes I find a good quote and it's easy to copy and paste it into my notes that way. We're dealing with the subject of 'Jesus our provider and sustainer'. Now, we all know that he's the creator, but he also provides and sustains. We have a memory verse. Philippians 4:19 - Philippians :19 - and I'll be doing this from the new king James version, which will be very similar to the King James, so if you want to say it with me - are you ready for Philippians 4:19? Here we go: "and my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.

" God'll supply all of your need according to his riches in glory. Now, do you know what 'deism' is? Deism - some of the historians that are sort of recreating history - or rewriting history - they say all of our founding fathers were deists and, while it's true that jefferson was a deist - Benjamin franklin dabbled in it for awhile, but if you read his autobiography, he pretty much gave up on it later in life and went back to Christianity. So deism teaches that God sort of created things and then he left the neighborhood - and he established certain rules and things just sort of continued to wind out on their own and, you know, he just left. God's a creator but he's not a sustainer. But does the Bible teach that? Do you know what a deadbeat dad is? And, by the way, when I was looking this up - they used to always talk about 'deadbeat dads' - that sort of rhymes a little bit - now they're talking more about deadbeat moms too.

But, I'm old fashioned. I think if a man is calling his ex-wife deadbeat because she won't support him, I have problems with that. But in any event - that's just because I'm sure I'm not up to date. In any event, they estimate that - the government data tells us that 6.2 million single mothers do not receive support or receive under what they've been allocated. And I read - one father that had like eight children by about five different women - made a great salary, didn't support any of them, which means you're supporting them in most cases - to some extent.

So, according to the dictionary, a deadbeat dad is a father who 'does not provide for a family that he was part of creating. He doesn't have the moral responsibility enough or nature to nurture and realize how difficult he's making it for his family.' Here's the big question: is God a deadbeat dad? Does God create a family and then walk away or does he sustain what he creates? And so - and that's very important for us to remember - God not only is a creator, he's a sustainer. He takes care of what he creates. Would God make such a wonderful world that is filled - such a big world - filled with so many wonderful things and then say, 'but you're on your own now'? Now, having said that, some people wonder 'where is God'? How many people have you met that said, 'I pray and there's no answer.' God actually answers a lot more prayers than people give him credit for. In fact, the majority of prayers God answers people don't even pray.

Do you know what I mean by that? God is supplying things all the time for people that don't even ask or don't even think to ask. And we only notice the things we don't get but we forget, often, many things he does supply. There are a million ways that God sustains us. Anybody that complains about God not sustaining them must have strength from God in order to complain. Did you get that? He has to supply them with the strength to criticize him.

So - it's like when you hear people protest our troops. What gives them the right to protest our troops is our troops that kept them free to protest. Do you know what I'm saying? So it's sort of a dichotomy. Alright, God is a sustainer. We're going to give you some verses to look up.

Somebody has Hebrews 1, verse 3 and someone else has Corinthians 8:6. First let's establish where the microphones are. We've got a microphone over there and who has Corinthians 8:6? Is someone over here with a microphone? No. We've only got one microphone today. Okay, you'll be next then.

Alright, before we get to that, I'm going to read Colossians :16 and 17 - speaking of God as sustainer - "for by him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things consist." In him all things consist. Now I'm going to go ahead and have someone read for me Hebrews :3 - are we ready for that? Go ahead. Hebrews 1:3, "who being the brightness of his glory and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down at the right hand of the majesty on high.

" He not only made all things, he upholds all things. It's one thing to create the planet and start it spinning, but like atlas he holds it on his shoulders. Bad analogy. He upholds - he sustains all things. And then someone, in a moment, is going to be reading Corinthians 8:6 - want to hold your hand up? They give you a microphone? Alright, we're not quite ready for that but I just wanted to get you geared up.

How many of you remember the conflict that Jesus had with some of the religious leaders over the Sabbath and - because he healed someone on the Sabbath day? And one of the things that Jesus said in John 5:17 - he said to them, "my father has been working until now, and I have been working." So I don't know if you ever thought about applying that verse to this lesson, but it tells us, 'not only did God create the world and, even on the Sabbath day, God is working to sustain the world, isn't he? So God is not just sustaining hours a week. God is not just sustaining six days a week. God is sustaining everything hours a day. What would happen to you and me if the Lord, for a moment, ceased to sustain? But sometimes we're not happy with the level that he's sustaining us. Now keep in mind, sometimes the answers to our prayers will be corresponding to the intensity - or the answers to our prayers will correspond to the intensity of our prayers.

Alright, read for us now Corinthians 8:6 please. 1 Corinthians 8:6, "yet for us there is one God, The Father of whom are all things and we for him, and one lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we live." Even through whom we live now - he didn't just create us, it's through him that we live. Every bite of bread that we take is stamped with the cross of Christ. There is a quote from the book 'education' in your lesson and it's from 'education' page 132. "The hand that sustains the world in space, the hand that holds them in their orderly arrangement and tireless activity, all things throughout the universe of God, is the hand that was nailed to the cross for us.

" That hand that was nailed to the cross is the same hand that created - it's the same hand that sustains everything that we have. Acts 17:28, "for in him" - and we've read this before in the lesson - "for in him we live and move and have our being, as also some of your own poets have said, 'for we are also his offspring.'" We're the children of God. God is not a deadbeat dad. He's taking care of his children. He is sustaining.

Now, do we all know children that don't get everything they ask for? Why do some parents not give children everything they ask for? Because they don't love them or because they do love them? And it may not feel like it at the time. So, sometimes, when we're not getting what we want or the exact item we want, or the quantity we want and we think, 'oh, God's not taking care of me. He doesn't love me.' Maybe it's because he does love you. You know, even the devil can cast prosperity in a person's path to destroy them. Sometimes God is sustaining us by withholding from us.

And we think, 'God's left us!' You know? He just wound up the clock and walked away like that deist idea of God. You know, we have evidences of God's provision and his miracles all the time that we forget about. And every now and then God'll do something remarkable to remind us that he is a living and a real God and he's interested in the little details of our lives. Do you mind if I share with you just a little story that happened this week that, to me, was a miracle that reminded me of God's sustaining power? We had a meeting at the amazing facts office. Just to give you the background, Amazing Facts does a live radio program every week called 'Bible answers live'.

We've been doing that now for 17 years, but in spite of the fact that we've been doing a radio program for 17 years, we have no radio facilities of our own. We record this at the kfia - which is salem broadcasting station - here in Sacramento. Well, we've been wanting to put 'Bible answers live' on tv, but what that would mean is we would need to get some of our own radio equipment so we could do it ourselves in our new studio we just built. So we're all gathered around in our office - most of us with tv experience - and we're trying to figure out what we need to do to get the radio thing going and, you know, we're just - we're running into walls because we lack the experience in radio engineering and the radio technology. We do a lot of tv but radio is a little different and the prices we were getting quoted were very high and we were wondering, 'where do we go from here lord?' While we're in that meeting, in that room, reaching an impasse, we get a text.

Someone in the office gets a text and they say, 'there's a man from geneva, switzerland in the office and he wants to see Pastor Doug.' I'm thinking, 'someone from geneva, switzerland? Who could that be?' And I thought, 'oh, I've got a friend there, ron meyers, he's the president of radio 74.' I said, 'send him in.' Instead of me going out I thought, I don't need to just go out and see him, he needs to come in here and help us. So he didn't want to interrupt our meeting - I said, 'no, we need you in here. Come in here.' He comes in, he sits down. This man is, in my opinion, there's nobody in the seventh day adventist church that knows more about radio than ron meyers. He's been doing it for 50 years, worked with adventist world radio, he's got radio stations around the world, he's an engineer, broadcaster, just - he speaks fluent radio.

And I said, 'ron, first tell my friends here in the room what your experience is.' So he began to tell them, 'well, I've been doing radio 50 years. Used to run a station down in l.a. And I've done this and this all over the world with radio.' He's going to build some more radio stations - or towers - up in klamath falls and he said, 'I just thought I'd stop by.' He said, 'I was up the road seeing the glorystar people and thought I'd just - on a fLuke - stop by and see how you're doing and then I've got to leave.' He walks in - we talked to him about what we need and he says, 'oh yeah, you can do that for a lot less.' And he answers our questions, gives us some Numbers and then he drives off. And I'm thinking to myself, 'lord, did that just happen?' Were we all kind of at a loss for what to do with radio and how to proceed and lacked information - all of a sudden somebody from geneva, switzerland stops by our office for 40 minutes, answers our questions and then leaves. The most experienced radio person in the church shows up when we need him.

And, you know, God's timing is so great - how he works those things out. Isn't that a miracle? I mean, what are the chances of something like - that's kind of like when mordecai is about to be killed and the Lord wakes up king ahasuerus and makes him read from the Chronicles at the very moment when haman comes in to ask for him to be killed. You think about the timing. But we spotted it this time. How many times do we miss it when God is intervening to protect us? How many times we might complain because all of a sudden we realize we're out of gas, we're running behind, or you get a flat tire and you're complaining and saying, 'why does this happen to me? God doesn't care about me.

' And you don't know it's because you were going to miss the biggest traffic accident in town God gave you a flat tire. Or whatever it was. You know what I'm saying? And so whenever anything like that happens you have to say, 'lord, I believe you're still leading and sustaining and this might be how, as our father, you're choosing to do it today.' I thought that was so neat that happened this week. He's a generous provider. Somebody look up for me Psalms :15 and 16.

Got a hand? Over here? Sorry. And we'll get to you in just a minute. I wanted you to be ready. You know, in the lesson it reminds us of that famous verse in John 1, verse 3, "all things were made through him and without him nothing was made that was made." So everything good is from God. God made everything good.

When he made it in the beginning he said, 'this is good, good, very good.' Every good and perfect gift is from God. Will God sustain his good creation? He not only sustains the good, he sustains sometimes even those that have turned from him. Genesis 1:29 and 30. Did God provide for adam and eve when he first made them? "God said, 'see, I've given you every herb that yields seed which is on the face of all the earth, and every tree whose fruit yields seed; to you it shall be for food. Also, to every beast of the earth, to every bird of the air, and to everything that creeps on the earth, in which there is life, I have given every green herb for food'; and it was so.

" So not only does God sustain people, it says he sustains the creatures that he's made. I mean, I wish he wouldn't, but he sustains mosquitos - via you and me - but I mean, he sometimes - but he sustains everything that he makes. And so Jesus said, 'look, if God takes care of the little birds, will he not take care of you o ye of little faith?' Alright, I think you were ready - emily, you were going to do psalm 145. "The eyes of all look expectantly to you, and you give them their food in due season. You open your hand and satisfy the desire of every living thing.

" Every living thing is supplied by God. You notice what it said though? 'In due season.' Doesn't always do it maybe exactly when we think, but God comes through on time. Another verse from Genesis talking about origins. Genesis 2, verses 8 and 9, "the lord God planted a garden eastward in eden, and there he put the man whom he had formed. And out of the ground the Lord God made every tree grow that is pleasant to the sight and good for food.

The Tree of Life was also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil." I had a call this week on our Bible answer program and someone said, 'didn't the Lord sort of set up adam and eve? Wasn't that a mean thing to do?' I mean it'd be - he says, 'here you've got this delicious tree with a fruit - probably had fragrance of good and evil and God puts it front of them and says, 'don't eat it.' He said, 'that's like putting a kid down in a room by themselves with a bowl of vanilla ice cream with a little chocolate syrup and a cherry on a top and saying, 'now don't touch that.' That was mean for God to do that.' I said, 'no, that's the wrong analogy, friend.' I said, 'what God did was he put them in a baskin robbins with flavors and said 'just don't eat the chocolate.' He said, 'you can eat everything else.' It's not that there were just two trees in the garden, there were every kind of tree. There were so many good things - God just said, 'don't eat this one.' And that's the one they wanted. But, you know, even - we're like that sometimes. Our kids are like that. Do you ever notice that you'll take your child somewhere in some public place and say, 'whatever you do, don't step over that line there.

' What's the first thing they do if you've got a strong-willed child? They go like this and they go like this and they go - and then they want to see what happens, you know? Were you at all like that growing up? Just wanted to test the envelope? No. Some of you were good, compliant children. Usually those kids rebel at about 40. Call it a mid-life crisis. So they may as well get it over when you're young.

You know, this is a verse - it really wouldn't be right to talk about God as sustainer if we didn't address this - Matthew 6, verse 25, "therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your Heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?" I want to stop. Sometimes this is not popular in our culture, believe it or not, to say this, but it's still true. There are variations of value among the animal kingdom.

There is a graduating - I don't know exactly - I don't have them all in perfect order, but I think I can prove from the Bible that people are worth more than sheep. Now the Bible says, 'look, if you would get your ox or your lamb out of the ditch on the Sabbath, of how much more value is this woman whom satan has bound for 18 years?' Jesus said, 'of how much more value?' And he says, 'look, if your Heavenly Father feeds the birds, or if two birds are sold for a farthing, and your heavenly father takes note of that, of how much more value are you than the birds?' And I would expect birds are of more value than ladybugs, you know what I'm saying? And a ladybug is of more value than a germ. Ladybug's of more value than a mosquito, in my mind. I'll see a little ladybug sometimes caught in our house - I'll feel sorry for it and I'll take it outside and say, 'go little ladybug. Eat aphids off my rose.

' But if I see a mosquito I treat it differently. So - but there's a variation and you know what? I think God - I think the scale is really the creatures made in his image and with intelligence - I think a whale is of more value than a sardine - not just because they're bigger, but they're more intelligent. And so there seems to be a variation of value. If God takes care of ladybugs and tuna fish, then Jesus is saying, 'of how much more value are you, made in the image of God? Won't he take care of you?' Let me finish here. "They neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your Heavenly Father feeds them.

Are not you of more value than they?' Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature? So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these." You remember when the queen of sheba saw Solomon and his servants and their apparel - it says that she was without spirit - and that word is breath. You ever hear the expression 'breathtaking'? It comes from the Bible. The queen of sheba said that what she saw was breathtaking and - Solomon's clothing and the apparel - breathtaking. Jesus said, 'the flowers that God graces in the field are more breathtaking. You ever see a field of flowers - I'm talking about wild flowers - on a spring day after a rain when they all open to the sun and they're all different colors? Tehachapi - you can look online - they are some places that still have these fields that all turn different colors with wild flowers.

Tehachapi is like that. They used to have that in palestine where they'd have all these bright reds and blue flowers and Jesus said, 'if God cares about clothing the grass of the field, will he not clothe you?' He said, 'today it's shining' - "tomorrow is thrown in the oven, will not he much more clothe you, o you of little faith?" - God is a sustainer - "therefore do not worry, saying," - I have to tell myself this all the time, don't you? I find myself trying to embrace all the worries of life - like I could control everything. Don't worry, saying, "'what shall we eat?' Or 'what shall we drink?' Or 'what shall we wear?' For after all these things the gentiles seek." I went to the mall yesterday - now that's notable for me to say that because I almost never go to the mall - and I went to the galleria mall and I don't know how many years it's been there, but I think maybe once before I've been there. And I walked around - now Friday afternoon I don't dress up, I dress - I put on my jeans and any kind of shirt that will protect me from the elements and wether it matches or not is not very important and I've got my boots on and my baseball cap and I felt fine. And then I went to that mall.

I started walking around and I thought - I said, 'I probably look a little frumpy. I managed to park by the part that is where the entrance of nordstrom's is and I walked into nordstrom's with all their delicate music and everybody was dressed to the nines and I'm going - I became very self-conscious about how I looked. And I was looking for a computer bag and I went into this store - and I was worried right away when I walked into the store and a man is standing there dressed in like a tuxedo at the entrance and I thought, 'I wonder if I can afford a computer bag in this store.' And they did have one computer bag in the store and I looked at it and to me I thought it was kind of like an average bag and I said, 'how much is this?' She said, 'three thousand dollars.' The store was louis vuitton? Something like that. I didn't know whether she was kidding me or not. And I tried to keep a straight face - I just wanted to kind of cough out a laugh.

When I realized she was serious I said, 'that was a little more than I was thinking of spending today.' Now, if you think I was self-conscious before, I thought, 'I've got to get out of this place.' Oh, but you know, God clothes us, doesn't he? If he - we may not have the robes of Solomon, but he'll take care of us. Anyway, alright, I don't know why I said that. I just became very self-conscious about what I was wearing. I thought, 'I didn't know you had to dress up to come shopping here.' They don't worry - "for after all these things the gentiles seek. For your Heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.

" Now, just because he knows, does that mean we shouldn't pray? Does God know what we need before we ask? Should we still pray? Yes. He supplies more when we pray. "But seek first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you." I just remembered a story that I used to share in evangelistic meetings. This widow, she had several children and struggled just from day to day. She rented from the man that lived next door - it was actually like the servants quarters and so she owned the house next door.

She was a firm believer in God - he was an atheist. And she frequently would tell him about God and he used to think, 'this is the strangest thing, she's always talking about God and here she's so poor and she's always struggling and doesn't she know there's no God?' And she was always praising the Lord for everything. And one day he thought, you know, I think I know a way to teach her a lesson. He walked by the house one day and looked in and she and all the children were gathered around in the room and they were praying and he kind of tipped up and leaned towards the window and he could hear they were praying for food - they were all out of food and they were praying for food. And so he thought, 'I know just what to do.

' So he went and got a ladder from next door and he quietly leaned it up against the house. He tipped up on the roof and he had a bag of groceries with him and he began to drop these bags of groceries down the chimney and the kids heard that stir and they saw these bags dropping down the chimney and there was no fire in the chimney - it was in the summertime - and they opened it up and it was full of food and they were all jumping up and down and rejoicing saying, 'praise the Lord! Praise the Lord! Praise the Lord!' And the mother's saying, 'praise the Lord!' And he quickly scurries down and knocks on the door and says, 'what's all the noise? I heard the noise from next door, what's going on?' And she said, 'oh, it was just so wonderful. We were praying for food and it just dropped down the chimney. God has supplied our needs. He sustained us.

' He said, 'aha! There's no God. It wasn't God. It was me. I brought the food. I dropped it down the chimney.

You're praying to God and it's not God, it's natural things that are happening.' And she said, 'oh, praise the Lord! Praise the Lord!' He said, 'now why are you praising God?' 'Because he can even use the devil to answer our prayers.' Which is true. You know, there are some other verses here - Hebrews 12, verse - Hebrews 12, verse 2 - you know, one reason I know that God is not only the creator but he is the sustainer is because the Bible's pretty clear that he is everywhere on the continuum of our faith. And somebody else look up for me Revelation 21:6. Now, I don't think I gave this to anybody so I'll take a volunteer. Revelation 21:6 - do we have a hand? Andrew's got it - go ahead.

Now I'll read Hebrews 12, verse 2. "Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God." Author and finisher - now, I'm an author but not always a finisher. I've started a lot of books that aren't finished. Matter of fact, I've got the beginning of about 20 books. Matter of fact, I was driving with Karen this week and I said, 'I thought of another title for a book.

' In our family we're reading 'creeping compromise' again - it's a good book by Joe Crews - and I thought of some things that I'd like to update. I said, 'dear, we could do 'creeping compromise' called 2.0. So, I've got the title but I haven't written the rest yet. I'm the author of many books that aren't finished. But does God not finish a book he starts? And then some people, when they write a book, like pastors with a sermon, they get their opening illustration and they get their closing illustration but they have no content in between.

So, does God also supply the internal content? We know that he's the author of our faith. He's the finisher of our faith. Is it safe to conclude that he's also there in the middle taking care of things? Okay, read for us please - same theme - Revelation 21, verse 6. "And he said to me, 'it is done! I am the alpha and the omega, the beginning and the end. I will give of the fountain of the water of life freely to him who thirsts.

" You know, this is the second to last chapter in the Bible and the Lord here - Revelation - I'm sure you've read it before - really covers a continuum. Revelation says, 'the things of which you're reading are about to happen.' It ends with the second coming of Jesus - so Revelation begins with the time of John, it ends with the second coming - actually, it ends with us being in the new earth and all things are made new and perfected and sin is dealt with and all things are good again, but it fills in everything along the way. It shows the battle between good and evil from the time of John until everything is restored again and Christ shows he is overseeing and sustaining and protecting in spite of the fact the devil is trying to annihilate God's people all through history. And through the vision of the seven churches it's the spiritual history of the church. Through the seven trumpets you've got a military history of the church.

Through the seven seals you've got a political history of the church. Through this whole thing it shows that Jesus is there, he's watching over, and as he gives the messages to the seven churches he says, 'I am in the midst of the candlesticks. That means all along the way through the history of the church I'm there. You may forget about me. You may not see me.

You may think I've left for a little while and I'm coming back, but I'm there.' By the way, that's what makes our God different than baal. You remember when, on mount Carmel, there was this showdown between the prophets of baal and the Lord jehovah and Elijah? And first they're trying to call down fire and what does Elijah say? He says, 'you better call a little louder because I think he may have gone on a journey. Your God is a deist God. He created things and he's left. You better shout and see if he hears you from a distance.

' But when Elijah finally got his turn, did he have to shout and cry and beat the drum and jump on the altar and cut himself all day long? Do you know if you time it, Elijah's prayer takes about seconds? He prays 35 seconds and God sends fire down from heaven. God was ever present through it all. He is the sustainer of his people. Alright, in the section here on 'natural evil' - now, this is a difficult section - and most of this is based upon job 42. Matter of fact, somebody look up for me job 42, verse 8.

I didn't give that to anybody so I need a volunteer - we've got a hand right here. Job chapter 42, verse 8 - I'll have you read that in just a moment. I'm going to read Revelation 12:12. "Therefore rejoice o heavens and you who dwell in them. Woe to the inhabitants of the earth and the sea, for the devil has come down to you having great wrath because he knows that he has a short time.

" Now when you read the book of job and you see this titanic battle that's going on between God and the devil, do job and his friends understand everything that's happening behind the veil? When it was first happening anyway? You know, one of the wonderful things about the book of job - God, for us, through the inspiration he gave Moses - pulls aside the veil and helps us take a peek into one man's life to help us understand all of the different arguments and things that are happening between God and the devil over job - one man - these forces fighting over his soul. We're not able to note, at first glance, what's happening there. You can also see this in the book of Zechariah, where the devil is trying to accuse the pro - the high priest, rather - and then God is defending him. And you also see this in - when Jesus - Michael - comes to resurrect Moses and the devil contends with him. There's a battle over souls that's happening in the Bible.

So after you read all these different chapters in job, you get to the last chapters and - go ahead, read for us chapter 42 of job, verse 8. Job 42, verse 8, "therefore, take unto you now seven bullocks and seven rams and go to my servant job and offer up for yourselves a burnt offering and my servant job shall pray for you for him will I accept lest I deal with you after your folly in that ye have not spoken of me the thing which is right like my servant job." So you've got, in the book of job - job and his three friends and somewhere along the way a fourth friends shows up - and they're all trying to explain to job, 'the reason you're going through these trials is because you're just not confessing your sin. There's some secret sin and you did this or this or this.' And job is saying, 'no, I've been faithful. God knows my heart. I've been doing all that I knew to be true.

' And through this whole discourse of job you've got a discussion between job and his friends about why good and bad things happen to people and how God is involved and out of four of them - out of five of them, including job, only one of them has it right. You notice what it said? 'They had not spoken what is right as job did.' Now they were all Godly people. If you read job, all of them were Godly people. But four out of five got it wrong about what's really going on. How many times have you known somebody who went through a tragedy and you think - you know someone that went through a tragedy and you think, where was God in all of this? Why did he allow this to happen? And have you ever had friends that tried to explain to you the reason you're going through this trial is because of this and this and this.

And you know, sometimes they're right - maybe one out of five - but a lot of times we're trying to pretend that we know everything that's happening in the war between good and evil behind the scenes and most of the time we're like job's friends - we're just guessing. Now, let me read a verse to you here. Ecclesiastes 9 - I'm going to do things backwards - Ecclesiastes , verses 11 to 12, "I returned and saw under the sun that the race is to the fast." - If you were going to bet on a race, who do you usually bet on? The fastest runner or fastest horse, right? That's how they return odds. But God says, "the race is not to the fast nor the battle to the strong." Don't we all like it when we see the unexpected happen in a battle - like David and Goliath? I have to admit, I did smile - it made me feel good when I heard, years ago, that george foreman, who was over 45, I think, at the time - a little bit fat and bald - decided to go back into the boxing ring and everybody laughed and he knocked the guy out and he became world - the oldest world champion. It was sort of a victory for every old bald fat guy, wasn't it? We all smile - even though the other guy was probably faster and stronger - experience goes a long way, too.

I always tell my boys, as they get bigger than me, I said, 'you may be a little faster and a little younger and a little stronger, but don't underestimate experience.' When they start wanting to wrestle with me. "The battle is not always to the strong nor bread to the wise, nor riches to men of understanding, nor favor to men of skill" - notice this - "but time and chance happens to them all." That doesn't fit in with our scheme of the Bible. Time and chance? Does anything happen by chance? Now what Solomon is saying here is 'things that may appear to be totally random still happen. When the towers fell in new york, everyone's trying to say, 'some people amazingly survived. Others just happened to leave the building before the planes struck' - and we all try and calculate what God was doing, but does that mean that those other three thousand people that died must have had it coming? They must have been bad people? Time and chance happens to all.

God can work all things together for good, but when bombs go off during war - when earthquakes happen, you're not to assume that everybody that was lost was automatically bad. You know, they could be but don't assume that. It's not always that way. It goes on to say, "like fish taken in a cruel net. Like birds caught in a snare, so The Sons of men are snared in an evil time.

" Sometimes people are just caught in an evil time - like a holocaust in some nation - or genocide. "When it falls suddenly upon them" then, now, having said that, don't err too far to the other side and think that everything in the world is random. Solomon goes on to say, in case you think there's no benefit or there's no additional protection for those that are Godly, Ecclesiastes 8, verse 11 - notice this - "because sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the hearts of The Sons of men is fully set in them to do evil." In other words, if every time you sinned you had a shock collar - if God gave you all a shock collar - you all know what a shock collar is? You use for training a dog that when he runs out of the yard - as soon as he leaves the boundary of the yard there's this force field and he gets zapped and he turns back. Or if you call and he doesn't come you hit the little button and 'ugh!' The dog - and you train them. Or if he starts barking at the other dogs - 'ugh!' - And he'll stop barking eventually.

They used to have this treatment to help people to stop smoking. This electric shock treatment and the person would sit there with the therapist and they were hooked up to these electrodes and every time they'd put the cigarette in their mouth and they drew on the cigarette they'd get shocked. And supposedly training your brain to associate pain with smoking and - you know, it must not have worked because it just lasted a little while and I think those people ended up with other problems. But couldn't God do that? Couldn't he zap us with a little bolt of lightning every time - just a little bolt - not enough to kill us - every time we sin? But because he's loving and patient, "because sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the hearts of The Sons of men are fully set in them to do evil." Because God is so patient, we misinterpret his patience, sometimes, for his indulgence. God is very patient.

Notice - "though a sinner do evil a hundred times and his days are prolonged, yet I surely know that it will be well with those who fear God, who fear before him, but it will not be well with the wicked, nor will he prolong his days which are as a shadow because he does not fear God." You might live a long life, but you will not prolong your days. The only ones who get eternal life are the righteous. That's the ultimate prolonging of days, right? So he kind of ties it all off for us there and it starts to make sense. Alright, second to last section here - someone look up for me psalm 65:9 - who has that verse? Right here? Psalm 65:9 and 10, I think. 'Governing a damaged creation' - talking about governing a damaged creation here.

Matthew 5:45 - I'll read. It says, "that you may be sons of your Father in Heaven; for he makes the sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust." You know, this is just reinforcing that principle that we were talking about: God not only sustains and supplies for those who pray, God often supplies for those who do not pray. There's probably some of you here who have been Christians and you don't really pray for your daily bread because you've got a good job - you take that for granted and you pray about other things. But does God still supply your daily bread? He's got to supply the ability for you to even eat and enjoy your bread. He is the sustainer for everyone.

And are we ready? Yeah, go ahead and read psalm :9 and 10. Okay, psalm 65:9 and 10, "you visit the earth and water it, you greatly enrich it; the river of God is full of water; you provide their grain, for so you have prepared it. You water its ridges abundantly, you settle its furrows; you make it soft with showers, you bless its growth." That's a beautiful passage, isn't it? It's God who's constantly providing for the earth the things that we need and virtually every drought comes to end eventually and God blesses with rain again. Matthew 10, verses 9 and 10 - when Jesus sent the apostles out preaching did he say, 'make sure and take a big backpack with you. Have ten weeks' provisions.

Don't forget your sleeping bag. Get an extra pair of sandals. Take two staffs in case you break one along the way.' Or did he deliberately send them out with absolutely spartan supplies? He said, 'I want you to travel light and lean. I will supply your needs as you work for me.' Now there's a big lesson for us. He said, "provide neither gold nor silver nor copper in your money belts, nor bags for your journey, or two tunics, nor sandals, nor staffs; for a worker is worthy of his food.

" - His hire. God said, 'I will take care of what you need.' Now that's a promise. Does he still do that today? Especially if you're working for God and you're doing his work - he takes care of your needs, doesn't he? If Jesus will send you out, Jesus will supply. King David said, 'I was once young and I'm now old. I've not seen God's seed forsaken or his children begging bread.

' He'll watch out for us. You can also read - just as a follow-up verse, friends, psalm - I'm sorry, psalm 65 - read psalm 65:9-13 - you'll find a blessing in that but our time is up for our study today. God bless you until we study again together in our next lesson. Throughout recorded history tales of ghosts and spirits can be found in folklore in nearly every country and culture. The Egyptians built pyramids to help guide the Spirits of their leaders.

Rome sanctioned holidays to honor and appease the Spirits of their dead. Even the Bible tells of a king that used a witch to contact the spirit of a deceased prophet. Today, ancient folklore of spirits and apparitions have gone from mere superstitions to mainstream entertainment and reality. Scientific organizations investigate stories of hauntings and sightings trying to prove, once and for all, the existence of ghosts. Even with all the newfound technology and centuries of stories all over the world, there is still no clear-cut answer.

So how do we know what's true? Why do these stories persist? Does it even matter? We invite you to look inside and find out for yourself. Visit ''.

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