Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Big Problems Are Actually Small Problems

Leslie Basham: There is great comfort in knowing that God is bigger and greater than any of our problems. Here’s Nancy Leigh DeMoss.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: Do you think that my little problem could escape His notice, that He doesn’t know how to solve the little, itsy bitsy issues in my life? You say, “They’re not itsy bitsy issues in my life; they’re big issues!” Well, that depends on your perspective. Are you looking at it from your perspective or from God’s?

Leslie Basham: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss for Thursday, December 31.

Have you ever been following your routine and suddenly been struck by how big nature is? A mountain, an ocean, or a sky full of stars can suddenly make you stop and stare in awe. These are nothing compared to God.

Nancy will help you catch a glimpse of God’s greatness continuing in the series, Behold Your God.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: We’ve been looking at Isaiah chapter 40. I’ve shared with you that God has been using this chapter in a very encouraging way in my own heart in recent weeks. Let me say, by the way, when I talk about pressures or problems or things that are going on in my life or in our ministry, I don’t want you to get the wrong idea. We’re not all falling apart.

I think being women we sometimes assume things are falling apart when it just feels that way to us at the moment. But the point of this chapter is, things aren’t falling apart if we could see it from God’s perspective. If we can behold our God in the midst of our circumstances, our circumstances look so different.

So I don’t want you to write letters or worry, “Is Revive Our Hearts going off the air? Is there something we should be worried about?" We have as every ministry does, organizational challenges. I have in my life as you do, challenges and pressures and problems. I’m just saying God is so good in the midst of those to bring passages to us like Isaiah chapter 40. It’s been an encouragement to me, and I can tell that it is to many of you as well.

Now as we come to verse 12 in Isaiah 40, the prophet asks a series of rhetorical questions. His purpose, his objective, is to help people see the greatness of God.

Yes, the Assyrians are on the march. Yes, the Babylonians are coming. Yes, there are going to be 70 years of captivity. But God is bigger and greater than all of that. God is bigger and greater than every enemy, every foe, every circumstance—everything that threatens your world this day.

He uses some fabulous word pictures here to help the Israelites and to help us realize how big is our God. Verse 12:

Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand and marked off the heavens with a span, enclosed the dust of the earth in a measure and weighed the mountains in scales and the hills in a balance?

What is Isaiah saying? God is the Creator, and as the Creator, He is infinitely bigger than His creation. What is huge to us is small to Him. The problems that we think loom so great—they’re nothing to the God who created this whole universe.

Look, for example: He has measured the waters in the hollow of His hand. I’ve been on Google this week doing a little bit of Internet research about some of these figures, some of these pictures in Isaiah chapter 40. I wanted to find out how many gallons of water are on the face of the earth.

Now, for obvious reasons, nobody really knows the answer to that question. But one number I came up with was 340 quintillion gallons of water on the face of the earth. That’s 34 with 19 zeroes. And God holds all those gallons of water in the hollow of His hand!

He marked off the heavens with a span. What is a span? It’s the width of a hand. Now, how big are the heavens? How big is the universe? Well, one figure I read said the universe is 30 billion light years across; or, if it’s easier for you to think of it this way, 600 sextillion miles. I don’t even know how many zeroes that is. And God measures it all with one span of His hand. That’s a pretty big hand!

Now, let me ask you: If God can hold all the oceans, 340 quintillion gallons of water, in the palm of His hand, do you think He can handle your problem? Do you think He can handle my problem? If God can measure the span of the universe with the span of His hand, do you think His hand is big enough to take care of your issue and mine?

It says He puts the dust of the earth in a measure. I’ve got a little measuring cup here. You could fill this measuring cup with dirt. How many times do you think you’d have to fill it up to get all the dirt on the earth? But God has measuring cups, so to speak, that can take all the dust, all the dirt of the earth, and put it in one of His measures. That’s how big God is.

He’s weighed the mountains in scales and the hills in a balance. My little bit of Internet research told me that the earth weighs six sextillion metric tons. That would be 21 zeroes. And that earth hangs in empty space? God weighed the mountains in scales and the hills in a balance?

I think of that song that we sometimes sing with children:

My God is so big,
So strong and so mighty,
There’s nothing
My God cannot do.”

That’s the point. God is so big, so strong, so mighty. There’s nothing He cannot do.

Then we come to verse 13, and we see the omniscience of God, the fact that He knows everything. Not only is He strong and powerful, but He knows everything. The incredible wisdom and knowledge of God is what is in view here.

Who has measured the Spirit of the Lord, or what man shows him his counsel? Whom did he consult, and who made him understand? Who taught him the path of justice, and taught him knowledge, and showed him the way of understanding?

The answer is, nobody has ever taught God anything. God never said, “Oops. I didn’t think about that. I forgot about that.” No one ever explained anything to God. I’ve had to have people explain a lot of things to me, but nobody has to explain anything to God.

God doesn’t need any advisors. He doesn’t need a Cabinet to brief Him. He doesn’t need personal assistants. He doesn’t need help. He’s eternally self-sufficient. The infinite wisdom of God—there’s never been a question that He did not know the answer to.

I think of that verse in Romans chapter 11, verse 33: “Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!” He’s so wise. He knows everything.

Do you think that my little problem could escape His notice, that He doesn’t know how to solve the little, itsy bitsy issues in my life?

You say, “They’re not itsy bitsy issues in my life; they’re big issues!” Well, it depends on your perspective. Are you looking at it from your perspective or from God’s? See, God is so great, so big. If you’ll behold your God, then you’ll see that the issues in your life really are itsy bitsy at their most.

God doesn’t need our advice. We need His. So as we behold our God, He makes His advice available to us.

Now in verses 15-17 Isaiah points out another comparison. He’s comparing the nations of the world to God. These world powers seem so great—nations like Assyria, Babylon, Persia. You could think of nations in our world today that we think of as being great nations, nations with great military prowess, nations that are developing certain kinds of nuclear weapons. We read about this and we say, “They could blow up the whole world!” These tiny nations that seem to have so much power. And those nations can seem so powerful.

But Isaiah says, “Behold, the nations are like a drop [in] a bucket.” Now, you think of taking a drop of water and putting it into a bucket. What difference does it make? Nothing! It’s insignificant. “The nations are like a drop [in] a bucket, and are accounted as the dust on the scales.”

I’ve got a scale here. It’s a little kitchen scale, and I just imagine that scale getting dusty, just putting a little dust on there. What does it do to the scale? It doesn’t make any difference. It’s weightless, in effect. It’s insignificant.

Isaiah is saying, “All these nations that seem so great, they seem so powerful—they’re like a drop in a bucket. They’re just like your scale getting dusty. It doesn’t make a difference.”

Behold, [God] takes up the coastlands like fine dust. Lebanon would not suffice for fuel, nor are its beasts enough for a burnt offering. All the nations are as nothing before him, they are accounted by him as less than nothing and emptiness (verses 15-17).

How much is less than nothing? We can’t even picture that, can we? Nothing is the least we can think of. God says all those great, powerful nations, those forces in our world—in God’s accounting they are as less than nothing and emptiness. They are utterly insignificant compared to God.

Now, compared to us those nations, those powers, those people in your life may seem to be very powerful. They may seem to be very great. If we look at the nations, if we look at the powers, if we look at evil in our world, we’ll be fearful. We’ll be terrified. But we’re looking at the wrong place. That’s why we need to behold our God.

You say, “Well, I’m not worried about the nations. I’m worried about my boss. It’s my husband. It’s my ex-husband. It’s this person in my life who’s so difficult.” A drop in a bucket; dust on the scales. Accounted as less than nothing and emptiness.

That doesn’t mean they don’t matter to God, but what it means is that, compared to God, they are all utterly insignificant. So again, we come back to the message of this chapter: Behold your God. Verse 18:

To whom then will you liken God, or what likeness compare with him?
An idol! A craftsman casts it, and a goldsmith overlays it with gold
and casts for it silver chains. He who is too impoverished for an offering
chooses wood that will not rot; he seeks out a skillful craftsman to set up an idol that will not move (Verses 18-20).

Now, let’s just stop there and unpack that for a little bit. To whom will you liken God, or what likeness compares with Him? What’s the point here? There is no comparison between God and anyone or anything else. But isn’t it true that the tendency of our hearts is to construct idols, images, likenesses of God, things we think can satisfy and help us, though they can’t?

John Calvin said, “The heart is an idol factory.” Our hearts are always manufacturing substitutes for God, things we think can take God’s place in our lives. So Isaiah is saying, “Pagan idols are nothing compared to God.” We’ve already seen that the nations are nothing compared to God, that the created universe is nothing compared to God; and now we see that pagan idols are nothing compared to God.

So Isaiah points out the folly, the foolishness, of worshiping anything or anyone other than God. The idols that Isaiah describes in this passage are manmade. People make them out of wood or gold; they’re manmade.

Isaiah is saying, “Compare those manmade idols to God, who is the Creator of everything.” God was not made by anyone. How foolish is it to worship something that is created rather than worshiping the Creator?

Now those idols, as Isaiah describes, they may be ornate. Some have expensive idols. They overlay it with gold, with silver chains. But they’re nothing compared with God.

We tend to place great value in certain things that mean a lot to us. Everything you have is manmade. It’s human; it’s flawed; it’s limited; it’s weak. It’s foolish to worship any of those things or people who are less than God.

God says, “Worship Me. Worship Me alone. Have no other gods before Me.” God is God.

In fact, Isaiah points out that these idols that we make are powerless. They cannot move. They cannot act. Why put your hope in something, why put your trust in something that’s powerless, that cannot move, when you have a God of the universe who wants to be your God? He is your God, and He is powerful to act on your behalf!

Now Isaiah says,

Do you not know? Do you not hear? Has it not been told you from the beginning? Have you not understood from the foundations of the earth? (verse 21)

He points us back to the creation, back to the beginning, and he says, “Creation declares the existence of God, the greatness of God, the glory of God.” It bears witness to every human being. Think back. Where did all this come from?

Verse 22 says,

It is he who sits above the circle of the earth, and its inhabitants are like grasshoppers; who stretches out the heavens like a curtain, and spreads them like a tent to dwell in.

God sits above the circle, above the horizon of the earth. I think about last week when I had to take a trip in an airplane and we were landing at night. As we were coming in you could see the lights of the city below us. Everything looked so tiny as we had our position up above the earth. We weren’t very high up, but everything looked so tiny—tiny houses, tiny cars, tiny lights, tiny people.

You get a different perspective if you get up above, don’t you? That’s where God is not just 14,000 feet above the earth but infinitely above. He sits above the horizon, the circle of the earth.

What we need to do is take our position with Christ seated at God’s right hand and get God’s perspective on life here on this planet. All these things that seem so huge to us—they’re nothing to God. You see in this verse that the inhabitants of the earth are described as grasshoppers. They’re tiny; they’re puny; they’re little.

There are several words used in this chapter to describe man, kings, earthly powers. What are the words used to describe all human beings?

  • Verse 7 told us that we’re like grass.
  • Verse 15 said that the kings of the earth are like a drop in the bucket, dust on the scales, less than nothing and emptiness, grasshoppers.
  • Verse 24 we’ll see they’re referred to as stubble; I mean, just really insignificant.

Who brings princes to nothing, and makes the rulers of the earth as emptiness. Scarcely are they planted, scarcely sown, scarcely has their stem taken root in the earth, when he blows on them, and they wither,
and the tempest carries them off like stubble (verses 23-24).

Now keep in mind that the Israelites, in the day when Isaiah was proclaiming this, were living in fear, in dread of a very mighty world power, the Assyrians. There was another mighty world power coming after them, the Babylonians. Then the Medes and the Persians were after them. The Greeks and the Romans—there had been so many world empires and powers.

Isaiah is saying, “Next to God—King Senaccherib, King Nebuchadnezzar, all these mighty potentates and powers and rulers of the world—they are nothing. They’re like seed thrown on the ground that doesn’t even have time to take root. It just blows away. It’s gone. The Assyrians, the Babylonians, they’re nothing but instruments in God’s hands to accomplish God’s purposes.”

God’s kingdom will be fulfilled. His reign and rule will come about on this earth. All these kings, evil and good combined, they are just instruments in God’s hands. It’s God who establishes and removes the rulers of the earth, whether they’re rulers of nations or rulers of corporations. It may be your boss.

You say, “My boss is a wicked person. Why does God allow him to stay there? He’s not blowing away.” You’ve been there 30 years, and he’s not thinking of retiring. It seems like a long time this cruel or vindictive boss or leader of this corporation is there. But the Scripture says God establishes rulers and God removes them.

It may seem like a long time if they’re in power over nations or over corporations, over churches, over homes. Listen, I get letters, heartbreaking letters, from women who are living in desperate or painful, difficult marriages to men who do not know Christ. (By the way, we get a few letters from men also who listen to our program and write about desperately difficult situations with wives who don’t know or love the Lord.)

But I think about the women in particular, living with cruel or mean, difficult husbands. There are some circumstances when the wise and biblical thing to do would be to have a separation. But I think of these women living with the intimidation of a powerful man who is not a godly man.

We need to step back and remember that it’s God who establishes and removes the kings of the world. God can remove that authority. God can remove that power when it is His time to do that.

I’m not saying that in the meantime there aren’t steps you should take to deal with the situation. But don’t lose sight of the fact that God is greater than that human power, that God is sovereign over all kings, all rulers and all powers, that all exist to fulfill His purposes. His kingdom rules over all. All kings and rulers on this earth are term-limited, and God decides the term. God says, “You’ve ruled long enough. No more. You’re out of here.”

 

God is the ruler. God is the King, and God is fulfilling His purposes in this world in spite of any rulers or kings. He’s using them as His instruments to bring about His purposes and His kingdom in this world.

So what? So you don’t need to be afraid. So you don’t need to be intimidated. So you don’t need to be terrorized or live in dread. Lift your eyes up. Behold your God, and know that there is none like Him in heaven or on earth.

Leslie Basham: The vastness of the God who created everything will put your problems into perspective. At Revive Our Hearts we know that God can do amazing things in spite of our cautions and fears. When we hosted our first national women’s conference we felt like we were taking a risk. But we watched God work. Nancy’s here to tell you that story.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: When Revive Our Hearts made plans for the first True Woman conference in Chicago just a little over a year ago, we could never have envisioned all that God had in store. We planned this as our first national conference, but it turned into an international conference as women came from around the world.

Thousands of the women who participated in that first True Woman conference took the biblical truth that they learned and began to apply it in their homes, their churches, and their workplaces. It proved to be the beginning of what we have come to call the True Woman Movement.

That movement has been propelled through online resources around the world. For instance, the women who gathered in Chicago signed the True Woman Manifesto. But thousands more have read and signed this document online and you can too at ReviveOurHearts.com.

Women are eager to share the True Woman Manifesto with others. We heard from a missionary in the Ukraine asking if the manifesto could be translated into Russian. She’s working at a Bible college training a new generation of women. She says that she wants the women of the Ukraine to be all God created them to be. It’s another example of a True Woman Movement that came out of that first conference in Chicago.

Now True Woman ’08 involved significant financial risk and our listeners supported us generously during that time. God honored those gifts and those efforts are still being multiplied.

As we move into 2010 we’re gearing up for three more True Woman conferences, once again asking God to multiply our efforts. And again we’re asking Him to provide for a significant financial need as we move forward into these incredible new opportunities.

Now typically nearly half of the donations that we need for the entire year come during the month of December. And many of those gifts are sent during the last few days of the year. So if you’ve not already done so, would you help us end this month and this year in a strong financial position as we move forward into a fruitful year of ministry ahead?

And speaking of a new year, as we come to the close of this year could I just take a moment to pray a blessing over you and your loved ones?

Lord, how we thank You for the gift of this past year and for the challenges and the ways that You have met us and You have proved Yourself to be a great big all-sufficient God. Your grace has been all that we needed.

And Lord, I pray for our listeners and some who are perhaps right now facing some hardships, some challenges as they look to the year ahead. I pray that You would bless them, that You would strengthen them, that You would encourage them. I pray that You would give tailor-made grace for all that they will face in the days ahead.

And Lord, we just want to say to You that we’re grateful, we’re thankful for Your presence with us. We’re thankful for all that You mean to us and for all that You’re doing in this world to advance Your kingdom and to make Christ known. We want to be women that You can use to further Your kingdom purposes in this world.

So I pray a blessing, an encouragement and for great fruitfulness in the year ahead on every listener. And in the year ahead will You protect us from sin? Will You keep us trusting You and looking to You to do all that You want to do in our lives and in this world? I pray it with thanksgiving in Jesus’ name, amen.

Leslie Basham: Let us hear from you today. The number is 1-800-569-5959. or donate online at ReviveOurHearts.com.

As you prepare for a full, productive 2010, I hope you’ll enjoy your New Year’s Eve then be back with us tomorrow when Nancy asks, “Are you a practical atheist?” Find out what that is on the next Revive Our Hearts.

Revive Our Hearts is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

All Scripture is taken from the English Standard Version.

 

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