Verses That Seem Impossible
By Bro Norman Pierce
Presented at the Rocky Mountain Missionary Baptist Association Meeting held at Landmark Missionary Baptist Church, Lakewood, Colorado on August 10, 2007. Bro Pierce is Pastor of Black Hills Missionary Baptist Church in Rapid City, South Dakota.
I thank my brethren for the fellowship and for the times that we spend together. I thank you for your confidence and asking me to bring this message tonight. I will agree with Brother Hanes about our special fellowship. We have fellowship with all our brethren. However, I think it's in this country where proximity and necessity puts us together in positions that we rely on each other.
I want to take this opportunity to explain to you why our sponsoring church is not here. Brother Ramsey and Highland Park Missionary Baptist Church are having Bible school this week. They planned it some months ago, and when they found out about this [meeting], they felt it was a little too late in the game to change their plans.
I want to say thanks to everyone who has supported us and who does support us. There are many of you that either do or have at one time or another, and I appreciate that. I thank the Lord for you, but regardless of whether it is financial, please make it prayerful, and I know that you do pray for us. I thank you for your love and prayers. I am privileged to meet two of our new pastors tonight. It is just good to see you and to meet you.
Thank you for your help. Please come see us. We'd be delighted to have you. People ask how the work is going. Well, it's probably similar to yours. It's never like you'd like it to be, but we thank God for the progress and His blessings. I ask that you pray for Mike and Lavern. We all need your prayers.
I debated and prayed to determine a message that I felt God wanted me to use. We will start tonight in the book of Romans chapter 11.
32 For God hath concluded them all in unbelief, that he might have mercy upon all.
33 O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out!
I look at these verses, and I'm made to believe that there is nothing that my God can't do. I realize that we feel so helpless, hopeless, and even useless at times, and I guess that's good because that way we depend on Him.
I am sharing with you tonight several verses that I call "Verses That Seem Impossible," and I just want you to rejoice with me over verses that we seem to be impossible, and they become the opportunity of an all powerful God.
You Must be Born Again
7 Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.
From a human standpoint, Nicodemus's reaction was totally appropriate. "What? Do you mean to tell me I've got to be born again? I am an old man. How can I reenter my mother's body and be born?" Since the Lord said, "Ye must be born again," don't you think Nicodemus had an idea of what needed to be done?
Jesus goes on to say, "The wind blows and you don't know where it's going. You don't understand it." Jesus continues, "By the way, the birth you're talking about is physical birth because that which is born of the flesh is flesh is flesh is flesh and will be flesh even if it could be a thousand times, and once is enough. And that which is born of the spirit, and it is spirit as opposed to flesh, and once is enough." You must be born again.
I am so moved sometimes for people because of their views. Shall I call it religiosity? They look at it from various standpoints. One man said, "But I am 78 years old, and I've been taught this all my life." I would say, "So." It doesn't matter what we've been taught. If it is not the Word of God, we must undo and redo our teaching. You must be born again.
Nicodemus, from what happened later, evidently became a silent believer. He was a believer but was silent for fear of the Jews. You know, that seems to have rubbed off. I know some people like that today, don't you? You must be born again.
I Can Do All Things
13 I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.
We have used this verse a multiplicity of times but use it so matter of factly. "I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me."
I heard a story about a man who was a muscle man; a body builder. He was giving a demonstration. He took a lemon, cropped the end off of it, and squeezed the juice out of it. He said, "I defy any man to come get one more drop of juice out of this lemon." There was a little bitty sort of a dried up scrawny older feller, and he got up, puttered forward, and said, "I can get it out." The old man took the lemon, took the jar, and squeezed the lemon, and out came juice. "How in the world did you get that out?" demanded the body builder. "Oh, I am an ex-IRS agent," replied the old man. Who says you can't get more juice out of a lemon?
But our strength comes from God. Not from an ex-IRS agent and not from body builders.
Have you ever heard of Paul Anderson? He was once billed as the strongest man on earth. On television one time, I saw him doing strange things. He had a table. He went through the audience, and he picked some men. "How much do you weigh?" Paul would ask. "I weight 230," a man would reply. "You weigh too much," Paul would say. He picked five men that told him they weighed exactly 200 pounds. "You come with me." He took these five men on stage and put them on the table. "Everyone get up here and sit down," Paul instructed. "Now what are you gonna do?" they would ask. He smiled and got up under the table and picked it up. Paul lifted one thousand pounds. "Paul, how do you do it?" He opened his Bible and read, "I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me." And then he proceeded to teach to that group of people that it was not physical strength that really counts. He said, "One of these days I'll lose this." And he preached them a sermon on how strength comes from God. "I can't do this on my own. God has given the strength and ability to do this. He'll give you the strength to trust Jesus as Savior and to put away the harmful things in our lives."
Let's look at it from my life and yours. What do you face every day? You're tearing down the streets of our dear Denver, and all of a sudden, another motorist runs you off the road and you end up on the curb somewhere. Do you then address his accessorial heritage, or do you say, "Hmm. That sure is inconvenient. I really prefer that it hadn't happened, but I thank God that He gave me the strength to NOT do what I normally would do"? God uses strength, but have to want it. When you were saved, did He save you against your will? As a child of God, you've been scripturally baptized, part of a New Testament church and serving in it. Do you have everything that you do just poured on you and do you do what He wants you to do just by natural osmotic transfusion, right? No! It's not right! It takes the very power of God, the grace of God, to get up and do what we ought to do. What's God called you to do? Well, I can look at several faces and know that God's called you to preach because you've told me that He has, but every child of God and every church member have a place to serve. Do you know how I know God has a service for you? You're still alive. When He's done with you, you're not still alive. God has a way.
We have a couple that used to come to our church. Does anybody remember Tony? He and his wife came to this meeting when we met in Cheyenne several years ago. I met Tony in a very special way. I met Tony over the barrel of a police officer's handgun. I am a police chaplain and was riding with one of our officers. Tony was drunk and threatening suicide. I got an opportunity to witness to Tony because the officer took him to the hospital for treatment. I witnessed to him, and he was saved. His wife was saved, and his wife's parents were saved, and they were all baptized. All this came to pass because the police officer and I were able to witness to Tony. Folks, they're gone. I don't know what happened to Tony, and I don't know what happened to his wife. They don't come to church any more. When they get in trouble, do you know who they call? I walked into the YMCA the other morning and walked into the concession area where you get your daily dose of cholesterol, that is, bacon and eggs, etc. I met Tony's wife at the YMCA. She ran from behind the counter and hugged my neck and said, "Pastor, how have you been?" I came so close to saying, "I am fine, but I've been at church." Then she said, "Pastor, I like to see you." Again, I held back saying, "Well, I'm there every Sunday morning, Sunday night, and Wednesday night."
What am I trying to say? "I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me," but He won't make me do it if I don't want to do it. You may say, "I thought God disciplined his children?" Oh, you better believe it.
There were some teenagers taking to me about their lives. "What I do doesn't hurt anybody but me." That's a devil's lie. It hurts you, and it hurts everyone that loves you. And besides that, it's like a cafeteria. You make the choice, but when you get to the end of the line, you pay the bill. You can do what you want. If you're not big enough, you can get help. If you don't have the money, you can borrow it, but I promise you, your actions have consequences, and they don't always wait until you die. "I can do all things," but what do you do for the Lord?
By the way, thank you for the special recognition that you gave my wife and me today. We appreciate it. We hadn't been up long this morning when the phone rang. I answered it, and our son said, "Happy anniversary, Dad." We talked for a little bit, and I said, "Son, I really love you, and I really appreciate what you do for me, and I'd really like to repay you." My son said, "Daddy, I do it because I love you. I don't need any repayment."
Until you and I get to where we love Him enough to serve Him because we love Him regardless of the cost, we will never know what it means to "do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me."
It was mentioned earlier in the moderator's address that Moses wanted to look at God (Exodus 33:18-23). God said, "No!" Why? Moses would die. I see the hand of a loving father who does everything he can for his children. He put Moses in a crack in a rock, covered him with His hand, and walked by showed Moses everything he was man enough to see. You can do anything God wants you to do if you'll put your life on the line and dedicate yourself to it. Why? Doesn't Philippians 4:13 tell us? "I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me."
My Grace is Sufficient for Thee
2 Corinthians 12:9-10
9 And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
10 Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.
Paul, the old stalwart apostle, found himself faced with a thorn in the flesh in 2 Corinthians 12. He prayed three times for God to remove it. I get the idea that this is one of those prayers where God just didn't say anything until Paul finally got serious about it. The Lord said very explicitly, "My grace is sufficient for thee" (2 Corinthians 12:9). I look at this situation, and I don't care what it is or what you face, I hear the Lord say to Paul, "My grace is sufficient for thee." And then I substitute Paul's name with my name: Norman. "Norman, my grace is sufficient for thee."
How many of you take pleasure "in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses"? Most Missionary Baptists when they stump their toe sound like a cat with its tail shut in the screen door. All they know to do is scrawl. Can you remember what Paul went through? He was shipwrecked and stoned, yet he says, "Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities." He goes on to say, "I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses." I think that pretty well proves that Paul was not a Missionary Baptist. Of course, I say that tongue in cheek. I say that to my own limitations as well as to each of you. Folks, it is there, it is possible, and it is ours if we will but trust in our Savior, follow him as Lord, and do what he has called us to do. It's that simple. The last part of verse 10 says, "for when I am weak, then am I strong."
When I was working in the seminary, we had an old professor who was very wise and very aged, and he would ask one of the promising students to preach at a little gathering we were having at the school. The speaker was seated stage right of the pulpit, and the old professor walked up to the pulpit and introduced him. The speaker jumped up from his chair, trotted up the steps, took his position behind the pulpit, and opened his Bible You could tell by the expression on his face that he was just as blank as a wordless piece of paper. He stood there for a few minutes staring at his Bible. With his head hanging down, he walked over to his chair and sat down. The old professor got up and stood in front and said, "Young man, don't you ever forget this. If you had gone up as you came down, you couldn't have come down as you went up."
Don't forget where the power is. Don't forget where the authority is. It isn't in you, and it isn't in me. "For when I am weak, then am I strong." God, help us to realize that the only limitations that we have are the ones that we put on ourselves. God can do it we will let him.
In Everything Give Thanks
1 Thessalonians 5:18
18 In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.
You tell people that, and they say, "You've got to kidding me. You don't know what I've been through. I've had this kind of problem and that kind of problem." Look at the verse very carefully. Do you see any asterisks at the end of it? Do you see any footnotes at the bottom of it? Perhaps it actually should say, "In every thing give thanks...except when you have a problem." Or maybe it should say, "In every thing give thanks...except when your wife runs off with another man." I could you give you a thousand other scenarios that you can already imagine. Until you and I can thank God for what we classify as the bad as well as the good, this verse can't mean much to us.
Some of you know some of the things that we've been through. That's not bragging. That's not anything else except to say I know where honesty is, because until I was able to thank God for the bad, things never were quite right. Can you thank God for the bad as well as for the good?
I Do Always Those Things That Please Him
29 And he that sent me is with me: the Father hath not left me alone; for I do always those things that please him.
I look at this verse and I realize that Jesus is saying this, and I realize He's telling the truth. However, I look into your face, and I look into the mirror, and I ask myself the question, "Can I say that truthfully?" Can you say that truthfully? Folks, I would to God that we could. "I do always those things that please him." May God help us to do the things that we can do and the things that he wants us to do without rebellion and without hesitation.
Many times we are like our children. Have you ever told your child to take out the garbage, and he just sits there in front of the TV for 30 minutes, 45 minutes, or an hour? Then you, in a gross exasperation, stomp the floor with your foot, raise your voice, and say, "I told you to take the garbage out!" So the child gets up, stomps in there, and says, "All right, if I've gotta do it, I'll just go do it." They grab the garbage and take it out while they grumble, growl, and fuss. Answer me one question: is that obedience?
Obedience is doing what you're told, when you're told with a Godly attitude. God help us to maintain "I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me." Then, though we can't say it like Jesus can, let us do our best to truthfully say, "I do always those things that please him." It's a goal, a desire, a plan, and a purpose.
I Have You in My Heart
3 I thank my God upon every remembrance of you,
4 Always in every prayer of mine for you all making request with joy,
5 For your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now;
6 Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:
7 Even as it is meet for me to think this of you all, because I have you in my heart; inasmuch as both in my bonds, and in the defence and confirmation of the gospel, ye all are partakers of my grace.
I see a stalwart warrior who looks over the congregation of the Philippian church and says, "I have you in my heart." At first glance, how in the world can you have a congregation in your heart? Physically, it's impossible. Paul said what he said because he meant that he had a love for them and a respect for them, not only because he had a hand in leading them to Jesus, but he was the one who taught them and shared with them. "I have you in my heart."
To Live is Christ, and to Die is Gain
21 For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.
What does that mean? It means that when I live, Jesus lives through me, and when I die, there is profit. Not monetary profit, but gain in the sense of gaining many things. When I live, Jesus lives though me. Can you say that? Can we say that together? I trust that we can, that we do, that we will, and that it will be true.
Folks, these scriptures may seem impossible, but nothing is impossible with God, and he assures us of that. I think of a few examples of servants who were faithful in their service to God. I mentioned Moses a while ago. I recall Elisha who stood as the Syrians were encompassing them, and Gehazi who was scared to death because of all the chariots of the army of the Syrians. He was scared and trembling. Elisha simply said, "Fear not: for they that be with us are more than they that be with them" (2 Kings 6:16). I can just picture Gehazi as he looks and counts the soldiers in the Syrian army. "One, two, and three...they are more and we...what?" Elisha prayed to God, "And the LORD opened the eyes of the young man; and he saw: and, behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha" (2 Kings 6:17).
When we live close to Jesus, and when we do the things that we thought were impossible, we see Him do things for us and through us. We find ourselves in a place of joy, peace, and comfort that the world only dreams of. They will never find it until they find it in Jesus and faithfulness in service to Him.
1 Corinthians 2:14
14 But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.
Looking at these verses that humanly are impossibly, I hope we realize that through the over abundance and over flowing fantastic power, strength, leadership, and will of God in our lives, we are in a position where the world thinks we're crazy, but there's nothing in the world that can compare to it because we've seen Jesus, and we've been with Him. I remember the smile that must have been on Stephen's face when he looked and said he saw "Jesus standing on the right hand of God" (Acts 7:55). One of these days, it will be worth it all.
So realize tonight that from these verses, it may be impossible as far as we're concerned, but if we know God leads us, then we can do all things through him who strengthens us.