The Measure of the Greatness of God
A sermon preached by Dr. Peter James
First Baptist Church, Richmond, Virginia
October 4, 1998
Text: Isaiah 41:10
Mark McGuire hitting 70 home runs can't possibly be true. By
my way of thinking it is impossible to hit 1 home run, much less
70. Consider. To hit a home run you have to hit a round ball with
a round stick out of the ballpark. Furthermore, that ball is
coming at you 80, 90, maybe 100 miles an hour. What's more, the
pitcher causes that ball to dip, and swerve, and twist, and turn
so that you can't hit it solid. 70 home runs? Impossible. But he
did it. And with grace and on occasion, even with humility, as
has Sammy Sosa.
After he broke the Babe Ruth and Roger Maris records, McGuire
said after he got to heaven he wanted to hunt them both up and
talk to them and say thank you. Hunt Babe Ruth up in heaven? From
what I've read McGuire might have to make a long trip to see him!
It does remind me of the story of the two veteran baseball
players, Clem and Joe, now both in their seventies, remembering
the good times. One asked the other, "Reckon they have
baseball in heaven?" The other said he didn't know. So Clem
said, "Tell you what. One of us is likely to get there
first. Let's agree to come back and let the other know."
They agreed. Well, Joe passed away first. One afternoon when Clem
was rocking on the porch Joe appeared. Clem was wide-eyed and
asked, "What did you find out?" Joe said, "I've
got good news and bad news. The good news is that they do have
baseball in heaven. Wonderful green grass. Beautiful playing
fields. Perfect weather." Clem said, "What's the bad
news?" Joe answered, "The bad news is, you're pitching
An interesting feature in all of this has been the ability
they now have to measure the distance of a home run. I suppose
some laser system.
Say, how far could God hit a home run? If God could hit a home
run from one planet to another planet would that prove God's
greatness? How do we measure the greatness of God? What laser gun
can measure that greatness? What computer system could catch it?
When we turn to the Scripture we come out with one conclusion:
Don't think only of a vast universe with millions of galaxies
each with millions, even billions of stars. Think Small. Think of
one individual person, Jesus Christ the Lord, who gave up all of
the benefits and perquisites of being God, to come as a solitary,
individual person, to be servant, savior, and Lord of our lives.
Greatness for God is not galaxies but the ability to bring good
news in bad times; Greatness for God is not the outer reaches of
space but the inner reaches of salvation;It is not the measuring
of the universe with light years so much as creating light within
Here, friend is the good news about the greatness of God. The
greatness of God is about you.
Measure God's Greatness with His Presence
Put away your yardsticks. Leave your tape measures
in the tool chest. Forget the light years that measure the
galaxies of God's universe. Measure instead God's greatness with
his willingness to come to you.
"So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed,
for I am your God." (Isaiah 41:10)
Go with me please into the hospital room of one who is deeply
ill, and a beloved one standing near so distressed. To say to
that one - be of good cheer, God knows everything, even the names
of the stars in the farthest galaxy. That is knowledge important
in its place but it has no value in the deep issues of life.
You see there is knowledge that is important as information
but useless for our salvation. What is needed is the deep sensing
that God has entered that room. God is present. God has come.
Peter Marshall tells the story of a man who was having
terrible dreams. And it seems that in his dreams he was trying to
get to God. He would beat upon, in his imagined dream, a thick
plate-glass window. And he would scream, and he would scratch and
claw at the window trying to get through to God. And then one
night in his dream he heard a still small voice saying, "Why
do you scream? Why do you beat against the pane? For I am your
god and I am here where you are."
Was not this Isaiah's experience with God: "So do not
fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed for I am your
Measure God's Greatness with Understanding Beyond
Isaiah says we need not be dismayed, distracted,
distraught, because we are not God. God is God and that is
How proud we modern people are at our accumulated knowledge.
And we have accomplished much, especially in technology. It is in
people that we begin to flail and fail.
A professor in sociology turned to his seminar of graduate
students to seek their wisdom. A call has come for an
appointment. The father enters. His brow is heavy with distress.
He explains that he has a dreaded personal disease; his wife has
tuberculosis. They have had four children. The first was born
blind. The second died in childbirth. The third was deaf. The
fourth now has tuberculosis.
His wife, he explains, is now carrying their fifth child. She
is willing to have an abortion.
At this point the professor turns to the class and asks what
they would advise. They take it seriously. They ponder. They
weigh the possibilities. Finally they agree unanimously - as
regrettable as it would be, it would be better for the mother to
have an abortion.
The professor asked again, "Are you sure?" Again the
class pondered. Finally the spokesman said, "With heavy
hearts we would still say, the mother does not need another child
at this time," which of course was true as they weighed the
After a moment of pause he looked at the group and said,
"You have just robbed the world of Beethoven."
Playing God is probably the worst thing we humans do. What a
great comfort and strength it is to cling to God's understanding
instead of our own. "Do not dismayed for I am your
Measure God's Greatness by His Personal Power to
The promise is, "I will strengthen you and
help you." Turn a chapter over and read these words:
"When you pass through the waters, I will be with you."
Back in 1982 I received a card from my friend Bruce McIver
about a day when everything had gone wrong that possibly could.
Then they received word that his mother, then 87, had fallen and
broken her hip. Worse, she had fallen in the yard and it was
several hours before anyone found her. They rushed to her side.
They quickly expressed deep concern that she had to lie there
on the ground for hours before anyone heard her call. Her reply
was, "The leaves were soft." They argued, "But the
ground was cold and damp from the drizzle." "Yes,"
she replied, "but the Lord warmed everything up when the sun
The greatest power of the Creator is not the power of the
galaxy, but the creation of new life and new attitudes, and new
priorities within us.
Measure God's Greatness by His Willingness to be
as a Parent to us.
"I will uphold you with my righteous right
hand." It is the picture of a parent who has reached down to
hold the hand of a son or a daughter. Others may rush by. The
traffic may swirl by. But as long as that little boy or girl have
hold of Mamma or Daddy's hand, everything is fine. Jesus taught
us to pray, "Our Father, who art in heaven . . ."
In Connecticut a mother came to see her pastor about her son
who was saying the Lord's prayer wrong. He prayed, "Our
Father, who art in New Haven, how did you know my name." The
wise pastor reflected that he would learn the proper version soon
enough, for now just leave it alone, because he was asking the
Sometimes it is almost like the Father in heaven reaches down
and holds us, his children, by the hand and walks us through the
toughest of times. Billy Bray, a crippled preacher in Scotland
years ago, used to say, "Never feel sorry for me, for I am a
prince, the Son of the King!"
Listen to the verse one more time:
So do not fear, for I am with you;
do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strength you and help you,
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. (Is. 41:10)
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