How many of you just had a few, “Oh man, I totally forgot about that” moments? I did.
When it came to toys, the 80’s were AWESOME! Back in the ‘80s, we thought a tablet was something that you swallowed when you were sick. And the only thing you could do on a phone was talk. We didn’t have the world at our fingertips like we have today, but what we did have were awesome toys.
We had things like Pound Puppies. And how many girls here had a Cabbage Patch doll? And girls also had toys like Rainbow Brite, Care Bears, and My Little Pony.
Meanwhile, their brothers were playing with Micro Machines and He-Man and GI Joe figures.
But don’t get me wrong…we might not have had the kind of technology that kids have today, but we did have awesome video games.
We had Atari. I’m talking Space Invaders, Pole Position, Asteroids, Frogger, Pac-Man, Q*Bert…just pure 80’s awesome.
And then, a little later in the 80’s, we took a huge step forward.
We got Nintendo. I’m telling you…kids today will never know the joy of have to blow into a video game cartridge to make it work. And they will never know the magic of up up, down down, left right, left right, b, a, start.
We had technology, but you had to bring something to it. You had to work for your video games.
And when you were a child of the 80’s, you didn’t have access to cartoons 24/7 like kids do today. We had never heard of Disney Channel, On-Demand, DVR, and other crazy stuff like that. And that’s why we LIVED for Saturday mornings, because cartoons were on all morning long.
I’m talking a morning filled with cartoons like Thundercats, Gummi Bears, The Snorks, and Muppet Babies.
I’m talking He-Man and the Masters of the Universe, Jem and The Holograms, Inspector Gadget, and Transformers.
I’m talking Alvin & The Chipmunks, The Smurfs, Ducktales, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
When you were a child of the 80’s, you LIVED for Saturday morning cartoons. And a child of the 80’s looks at what passes for cartoons today, and they weep for the future of humanity.
This series has been so much fun as we remember the 80’s. I have just been having a blast, and I hope you have too. Because like I’ve said every week in this series…if you can’t have fun at church, where exactly CAN you have fun?
In this series, we’ve been remembering the 80’s. Our band has been ripping up some 80’s tunes. They have really blown people away in this series. And I’ve been preaching from the ‘80s…just not the decade. I’m preaching from the 80th chapters of the book of Psalms.
When you look at the 80’s in the Psalms, you get a foundational, back-to-basics view of who God is and what God wants to do in our lives.
So far in this series, we’ve explored the truths that God Restores and God Provides.
Today, we’re going to talk about one of the most basic, but most important, truths about God. God is Powerful. We’re going to be in Psalm 86 today. Let’s pray and then we’ll jump in.
Today, we’re really going to focus on just one verse. In Psalm 86:10, David wrote, “For you are great and do marvelous deeds; you alone are God.” (Psalm 86:10, NIV)
At first glance, this verse seems pretty innocuous. If Bible verses had different flavors, this one is probably vanilla.
This is one of those Scriptures that’s kind of a like a bumper sticker Scripture. “For you are great and do marvelous deeds; you alone are God.” That would work well for a Facebook post. You can see that on a bumper sticker. You can almost hear the makings of a K-Love song in these words.
It just seems like one of those very safe, very predictable Scriptures that Christians gravitate toward. Nothing offensive. Nothing controversial. Nothing that would cause me or anyone else to be uncomfortable. And nothing that would really cause any upheaval in my life.
If this verse was an ‘80s toy, it’s probably a Pillow Person or a Fluppy Dog or a Glo Worm. Harmless. Cute. Soft. Squishy. Lovable. Never hurt anybody.
If that’s what we’re all thinking, then we’d better dig a little deeper. Because there is some big stuff in this verse. There is definitely some stuff that should cause some upheaval in our lives. And there is some stuff that not everyone is going to like…simply because it’s true and the truth can be hard to accept at times.
This verse teaches the simple truth is that God is powerful. But just because a truth is simple doesn’t mean that I can take it for granted. I can never become comfortable or complacent about God’s power.
So let’s dig deeper into this Scripture. David prayed to God, “For you are great and do marvelous deeds; you alone are God.” (Psalm 86:10, NIV)
The first thing we see is that God is great. And again, this sounds so basic. After all, most of us already know this. It’s probably the first prayer we ever learned. “God is great, God is good, and we thank Him for our food. Amen.”
We’ve got preschool kids in the rooms behind me today who can learn this truth. So why should us grown-up people talk about this? Somebody might even be thinking, “I knew it. Any church that would play secular music from the 80’s has got to be a shallow church. This pastor is all milk and no meat. They don’t deal with the deep truths. It’s all feel-good, surface-level stuff.”
To that person, I would say, “Welcome to Connect,” because it’s obviously your first time here. If you’ve been here more than 5 minutes, you’ll know that there is no truth that we’re afraid to tackle here at Connect.
God is great is not a surface-level truth. It’s the foundational truth that everything else is built on. Here’s why.
A God who is great is worthy of my worship.
H.M. Carson said, “Worship is the declaration by a creature of the greatness of his Creator.”
In other words, worship is bragging about God to God. It is simply telling our great God just how great He is. And He is worthy of it.
In Revelation 5, the apostle John had a vision of thousands of angels around God’s throne. And John wrote that, “In a loud voice they were saying: “Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise!” (Revelation 5:12, NIV)
And in Psalm 145, it says, “Great is the Lord! He is most worthy of praise! No one can measure his greatness.” (Psalm 145:3, NLT)
God is worthy of our worship. He is great, meaning that He deserves our praise and our adoration and our worship.
If you’re a Christian, my guess is that you believe that. You agree with everything that I just said. So here’s a question…why do we often give our great God halfhearted worship? It seems like we believe that God is worthy of our worship in theory, but when it comes to the practical reality, we give Him something far less.
I’ll be honest…there are times when I don’t feel like worshipping. That might sound weird coming from a pastor, but we value honesty and authenticity here at Connect. And the honest truth is that there are times when I don’t feel like worshipping. And the fact that I’m a pastor doesn’t change anything. When it comes to worship, there are times when I’m just not feeling it.
And this is exactly why, for so many of us, we give our great God lackluster worship. Because we’ve made worship all about us.
Think about what happens in the church. For some of us, we come to church and the service starts. And if we like a song, we’ll get into it. We’ll sing. We might even clap our hands. And if we want to get really crazy, we might even raise our hand.
But for some of us, if we don’t like the song, you can forget about it. We might mouth along with the words. Or we might just stand there and not sing. We might fold our arms and frown. And we’re secretly hoping the worship guy sees us, because we don’t like this song and we want him to know it!
But you know what the worship guy ACTUALLY sees? You know what everyone else around you ACTUALLY sees? They see a person who has made worship all about them. If your participation is based on whether you like it or not, then it has become all about you.
And way too often, that’s what we’ve done to worship. We’ve made it all about us.
And then there are the times when we don’t feel like worshipping because of what is happening in our lives.
This happens to me a lot. There are times when I don’t feel like worshipping because of what is happening in my life. But worship isn’t about who I am. It’s about who God is. It’s not about my circumstances. It’s about my Savior. True worship recognizes that God is great even if life isn’t.
David wrote, “For you are great and do marvelous deeds; you alone are God.” (Psalm 86:10, NIV)
But when did he write these words? He wrote it during a very dark, dangerous, anxious, fearful, difficult time in his life.
Look at some of the other verses from Psalm 86. See if you can relate to this.
David wrote, “Hear me, Lord, and answer me, for I am poor and needy. Hear my prayer, Lord; listen to my cry for mercy. When I am in distress, I call to you, because you answer me.
Arrogant foes are attacking me, O God; ruthless people are trying to kill me—they have no regard for you.
Give me a sign of your goodness, that my enemies may see it and be put to shame, for you, Lord, have helped me and comforted me.” (Psalm 86:1, 6-7, 14, 17, NIV)
This is not exactly a good time in David’s life. He’s under attack, and he feels helpless. He called himself “poor and needy.” He begged God to listen to him because he was so distressed. And he begged God, “Give me a sign of your goodness.”
You ever been there? “God, please just give me a sign. Show me something, anything, to remind me that You’re still there for me.”
That’s where David was when he wrote Psalm 86. And yet, in the middle of all this, in the middle of this dark, lonely, scary time in his life, he wrote this.
“For you are great and do marvelous deeds; you alone are God. Teach me your way, Lord, that I may rely on your faithfulness; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name.
I will praise you, Lord my God, with all my heart; I will glorify your name forever.” (Psalm 86:10-12, NIV)
In the middle of the trial, David worshipped. In the middle of this scary, uncertain season in his life, he worshipped.
He worshipped because God is great even if his situation wasn’t. That’s what the people of God do when life roughs them up. They worship through it.
Worship takes the focus off of me and puts it on God. Worship reminds me that God is bigger than me and is greater than my circumstances.
This is one reason why we desperately need the church. So many times, I’ve seen people walk away from the church during a tough season. Life gets tough, and they walk away from the one place where they can worship together with other believers. And their perspective is wrecked in the process.
When times get tough, we shouldn’t be asking, “Am I going to church today?” We should be asking, “What time does church start again? Because I need it now more than ever.”
There have been times when I walked into this place and I just wasn’t feeling it. But afterward, I walked away knowing that worship had changed me. Worship is not about me, but it does change me.
Mark Batterson said, “Don’t let what’s wrong with you keep from you worshipping what’s right with God.”
God is great even when life isn’t.
Now, let’s go back to our verse again. David wrote, “For you are great and do marvelous deeds; you alone are God.” (Psalm 86:10, NIV)
First, he reminds us that God is great.
Then, David reminds us that God does marvelous deeds.
Again, this doesn’t seem to be earthshaking news for believers. God does marvelous deeds. Yep. Sure. Got it.
But do we really? See, it’s one thing to believe that God can do marvelous deeds. It’s another to believe that God will do marvelous deeds for you.
It’s one thing that believe that God is powerful here at church. In a worship service, we say, “God is awesome! God is great! God is powerful! God does marvelous deeds! God can do anything!”
Here at church, we’ll sing about it. We’ll preach about it. We’ll “amen” about it. We’ll get all fired up about it! God can do anything…on Sunday.
But how about on Monday? How about after the emotions of Sunday die down and the grind of life kicks in? How about when it feels like life just sucker-punched you?
God can do anything on Sunday. But how about when we walk straight into a crap storm on Monday? Or when we get some tough news on Wednesday? Or when we just didn’t see that coming on Thursday? Can God still do anything then?
David proclaimed that God “does marvelous deeds.” And he didn’t write this when he was on the mountaintop. He wrote this in the valley. He didn’t write this when he had just experienced a great victory. He wrote it when he was feeling defeated. He didn’t write this when life was going great. He wrote it when life was falling apart.
God is great, even when life isn’t. And God does marvelous deeds, even when we don’t see it at the time.
One of my favorites stories in all of Scripture is in the Old Testament book of 2 Kings. The king of Aram was at war with Israel. And he was specifically targeting a prophet named Elisha. When the king found out where Elisha was, he sent his troops to capture him.
Starting in 2 Kings 6:13, the Bible says, “Go, find out where [Elisha] is,” the king ordered, “so I can send men and capture him.” The report came back: “He is in Dothan.” Then he sent horses and chariots and a strong force there. They went by night and surrounded the city.
When the servant of the man of God got up and went out early the next morning, an army with horses and chariots had surrounded the city. “Oh no, my lord! What shall we do?” the servant asked.” (2 Kings 6:13-15, NIV)
You ever been there? Elisha’s servant walked out of the house and saw that they were surrounded. The king’s troops had completely encircled the city. There was no way out. And so he ran back in and asked Elisha, “What shall we do?”
You ever been there? On Sunday, you’re all about, “God can do anything!” But on Monday, it’s, “What am I going to do?”
Tough times, times of crisis, trials…it takes our focus off of, “God can do anything!” and it puts the focus on, “What am I going to do?”
See what happened? Once again, the focus shifted from God to you. The focus shifted from, “God is great,” to, “My life isn’t.” The focus shifted from, “God can do marvelous deeds,” to, “What the heck am I going to do?”
And anytime the focus shifts off of God and onto me, things are going to all apart.
But Elisha was there to help his servant regain the right perspective. The servant saw that the city was surrounded. He was in a panic, and he ran in and found Elisha and yelled, “What are we going to do?”
Next verse. “Don’t be afraid,” the prophet answered. “Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.”
And Elisha prayed, “Open his eyes, Lord, so that he may see.” Then the Lord opened the servant’s eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.” (2 Kings 6:16-17, NIV)
All the servant could see was the army that had surrounded their city. He couldn’t see what God was doing, but that didn’t mean that God was doing nothing. The army of God had completely encircled them and was ready to fight for them.
The army of God was just as real as the army from Aram. Just because the servant couldn’t see it didn’t mean that the army wasn’t there. And the same is true for us.
Just because you can’t see what God is doing doesn’t mean that He’s doing nothing.
Sometimes all you can see is the opposing army. All you can see is the obstacle, the problem, the discouragement, or the pain. And that’s where a lot of us run into trouble. It’s not that we don’t believe in God. It’s not that we don’t believe that God can do marvelous things. It’s that we don’t believe that He will do marvelous things in our lives.
And when an opposing army is bearing down on you, that’s a pretty easy thing to fall into. It’s easy to begin to feel helpless and hopeless. It’s easy to begin to believe that God isn’t going to do anything about it, because you don’t see Him doing anything about it.
But let me give you a lifeline here. I love how the Message paraphrase reads in Isaiah 45:15. “Clearly, you are a God who works behind the scenes, God of Israel, Savior God.” (Isaiah 45:15, The Message)
Just because you can’t see what God is doing doesn’t mean that He’s doing nothing. God is all-powerful. God does marvelous deeds. God fights on behalf of His people. Just because you may not see it happening doesn’t mean that it isn’t happening. And just because you haven’t seen God come through for you doesn’t mean that He won’t.
When life roughs us up, it’s easy to forget that the exact same power that raised Jesus from the dead is at work in us.
In Ephesians 1, the Apostle Paul wrote, “I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better.
I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people,
and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead…” (Ephesians 1:17-20a, NIV)
God’s incomparably great power is alive in everyone who believes. And Paul reminds us that it is the same exact power that God used to raise Jesus from the dead.
Now, that doesn’t mean that tough seasons won’t come. Remember that Jesus was in the tomb for three days. This resurrection power wasn’t displayed immediately. For three days, it seemed like God was absent. It seemed that God was either unwilling or unable to do anything. But after those three days, God’s power was displayed in full.
Just because things are tough doesn’t mean that God doesn’t care and it doesn’t mean that God isn’t able.
Faith trusts that God can and God will, even if God hasn’t yet. I can’t tell you why God’s timing is what it is. I can’t tell you when and how God will come through for you. But I can tell you that God is working behind the scenes. I can tell you that God loves you, and God fights for those that He loves. I can tell you that God is great and God does marvelous things, and that promise applies to you as much as it applies to anybody else. I can tell you that.
But we’ve got to keep the perspective that David gives us in this verse. “For you are great and do marvelous deeds; you alone are God.” (Psalm 86:10, NIV)
David tells us that God is great. God does marvelous deeds. But it’s all based on this truth.
“You alone are God.”
God alone is God. And if I can extrapolate just a little bit…if God alone is God, that means that you’re not.
And if you’re not God, then why are you trying to handle everything like you are? You’re not God here at church on Sunday, and you know that. But do you also realize that you’re also not God on Monday when life happens and you don’t know what to do?
God alone is God…so it might be a good idea if you stopped trying to do His job for Him.
Life will trip you up, but it will never trip God up. Life will throw you curveballs that you didn’t see coming, but nothing is unforeseen to God. Life will give you things that you simply can’t deal with, but God has never met anything that He couldn’t deal with.
The plain fact is that God is much better suited for the role of God, so why don’t you just stop trying to play the part? You’re not very good at it, anyway.
Am I hitting you hard today? It’s because I love you. And I want you to be set free. It’s incredibly freeing to know that God is God and I’m not. Because it takes the pressure off of me. It means that I don’t have to have an answer in every situation. I don’t have to be the man with the plan.
That’s been a huge learning experience for me, because that’s what I’ve tried to be for years. I’ve always tried to be the man with the plan. I’m just like Vanilla Ice. “If there was a problem, yo, I’ll solve it!”
That’s who I’ve tried to be for most of my life. But lately, God is teaching me something big. That’s not who I am. I’m not the man with the plan. I’m not the one with all the answers. Just the opposite. The truth is that I usually have no idea what I’m doing. And it is exhausting trying to pretend like I’ve got it all figured out when I don’t. It is exhausting living like I have all the answers, that I can fix it, just give it to me and I’ll take care of it, whatever “it” is.
And the reason it’s exhausting is because it’s a lie. Lying is exhausting. It is exhausting to try to be someone you’re not. But there is freedom and rest in the truth.
But it’s incredibly freeing to let God be God. And that’s what David was experiencing in this dark, desperate time in his life. Even when nothing was going right, he just took a breath and said, “You alone are God. It’s not on me. I don’t have answer. I don’t have a plan. There’s nothing I can do about this, but God you are great. You do marvelous deeds. And I trust that you will do that for me, because you alone are God.”
Breathe in that truth today. And remember that truth when life happens later this week.
The same love that sent Jesus to the cross for you is still present with you. And the same power that raised Jesus from the dead is at work in you.
And if Jesus would go to the cross for you…and if He rose again so that He could always be with you…why do you think He would ever give up on you?
The truth of the gospel is that Jesus gave up everything so He wouldn’t have to give up on you. If you wonder if God can do anything in your situation, you don’t have to look any further than the cross and the empty tomb.
Is God great? Great enough to save you. Great enough to die for you.
Does God do marvelous deeds? He raised His own Son to life again. And through Jesus’ resurrection, you are given a brand new life.
But it’s all because God is God alone. God alone went to the cross for you. God alone rose again to give you new life. God alone rescues you. God alone empowers you. God alone will never leave you.
You don’t have to look any further than Jesus to know that it’s true.
In fact, Jesus is the perfect fulfillment of the verse we’ve been exploring all morning.
“For you are great [Jesus is] and do marvelous deeds [Jesus does]; you alone are God. [Jesus is and always will be]” (Psalm 86:10, NIV)
Jesus is great, even when life isn’t.
Jesus has done and still does marvelous deeds. He is at work, whether you see it or not. He is fighting for you, whether you know it or not.
And He alone is God. There is no other. He is the King of kings and the Lord of lords. So you can just stop. Stop trying to act like you have it all figured out. Stop feeling like you have to carry the world on your shoulders. You don’t, because you’re not God. Jesus is. And He wants to carry your burdens and your anxiety and your pain and your disappointment and your uncertainty for you.
As with anything else we will ever talk about here at Connect, it’s all about Jesus.