Message 6, A Puny God:
If the church has a low view of God, its light will be dim, and the darkness will not be pushed back. Today, our concept of God is often sentimental rather than biblically based. Many people embrace what has been called “moralistic therapeutic deism,” a view of God that says He exists to make us feel good about ourselves, and that He involves Himself in our lives only to affirm us and solve our problems. As long as we do not properly grasp the transcendent majesty and holiness of God, our light will not pierce the darkness. In this message, Dr. Steven J. Lawson proclaims the centrality of a high, biblical view of the Lord, calling upon God to restore the truth about His transcendent majesty and holiness in His church.
Well, as we start this session, I do want to say how my own heart was greatly challenged by the message that we just heard from Dr. Sinclair Ferguson, and I trust that each one of us will give careful thought and even implementation in our lives regarding the truth of Revelation chapter 2.
I invite you to take your Bibles and turn with me to the book of Isaiah, Isaiah chapter 40. And, in this session I’ve been asked to address the subject of a puny God. I don’t know that I’ve ever been assigned a topic that I least want to preach on more than to preach to you the subject of a puny God. If I had a list of a thousand topics from which to choose, this would be 1,000 on the bottom of the list, but I’m going to try, by God’s grace, to magnify the antithesis of a puny God, which is to hold forth the greatness, and the grandeur, and the glory that belongs to God alone.
Isaiah chapter 40 beginning in verse 12. “Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand and marked off the heavens by the span and calculated the dust of the earth by the measure and weighed the mountains in a balance and the hills in a pair of scales? Who has directed the Spirit of the Lord or as his counselor has informed him? With whom did he consult and who gave him understanding, and who taught him in the path of justice and taught him knowledge and informed him in the way of understanding? Behold, the nations are like a drop from a bucket and are regarded as a speck of dust on the scales.
Behold, he lifts up the islands, [or it could be the coastlands or the coastlines] like fine dust. Even Lebanon is not enough to burn, nor its beasts enough for a burnt offering. All the nations are as nothing before him. They are regarded by him as less than nothing and meaningless. To whom then will you liken God or what likeness will you compare with him?”
It was A. W. Tozer who wrote years ago: “The most important thing about you is what comes into your mind when you think of God.” Tell me what you think of God and I will tell you what is the direction and the trajectory of your life. A high view of God ultimately leads to high worship of God and high and holy living, and low views of God lead to trivial worship and lead to manipulative evangelism and lead to low, base existence. Everything in one way or another hinges upon your understanding of who God is. God is that important.
And this is why the most important issue facing the church in every generation is its understanding of God. No church, no ministry, no believer, no seminary, no society, no nation can rise any higher than its worthy thoughts of God. That is why Calvin began his institutes with the knowledge of God understanding that everything flows out of our knowledge of God. \
The topic that has been assigned to me is a puny God. Those two words just do not even go together. This has to be the ultimate oxymoron. A total contradiction in terms. A puny God? Such simply does not exist, but tragically, many people have crafted a puny God in their own minds. Some have a God who does not see or know the future. Some have a God who does not govern human history, but merely passively is an observer of the flow of the occurrences here. Some have a God who does not overcome man’s resistance, a God who approves of every lifestyle, a God who is without a sovereign free will. Quite frankly, such a God is not to be praised, but to be pitied.
To be sure, believing in a puny God produces puny worship and puny living. Puny theology produces puny doxology. That is why we need to revisit this text again here in Isaiah 40 and for it to surge through our spiritual veins and for it to rejuvenate our hearts. Here’s the total antithesis of a puny God. Here is the reality of who God is. And what this is in reality is an expansion of what we read at the end of verse 9. At the beginning of verse 9, Isaiah says, “Get yourself on a high mountain.” In other words, in a place where you can speak and you can be heard loud and clear. “Get yourself on a high mountain, O Zion, bearer of good news. Lift up your voice mightily. O Jerusalem, bearer of good news, lift it up. Do not fear. Say to the cities of Judah, here is your God.”
And now, beginning in verse 12, and extending through the rest of this chapter, there is the manifestation and the exultation and the revelation of the awesomeness and the greatness of our God. In every generation when the church stands strong, it is in those hours in which the church has the highest view of God and in those hours in which the church has languished in its impotence and has had so little effect upon the world around it is when the church has had the most base and low views of God. And if we are to have a Reformation, if we are to have a revival in this hour and this day, it will be a Reformation and a revival that begins in the knowledge of God, for nothing is more important than the knowledge of God.
There are five truths that I want you to note from this text beginning in verse 12 and they all exegete and exposit the greatness of our God. I want you to note first beginning in verse 12 that the greatness of God is found first in His infinite power. Here in verse 12, he asks a series of five questions in staccato-like fashion. Who has measured the waters, and who has marked off the heavens, and who calculates the dust, and who has weighed the mountains, and who has weighed the hills in a pair of scales? And this is an extraordinary picture of God as the sole creator of heaven and earth and that He is dwarfing creation. When He spoke everything into existence out of nothing, it was like mere child play for this awesome God.
It says, “Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand?” And God is seen here so dwarfing creation that all of the oceans and all of the seas are contained in the mere palm of His hand. Creation is illocution compared to this infinite power of God. Then he goes on to say, “And who has marked off the heavens by the span?” That’s the distance between the outstretched thumb and the little finger, and the entire expanse of outer space is measured simply by the span.
The answers to these rhetorical questions are so obvious that Isaiah does not even bother to answer these questions. Have you noticed this? The answer is so obvious that anyone who has two brain cells that are touching between the ears know what the answer to this is. No one except God could have brought about such creation, and he says, “And who has calculated the dust of the earth by the measure?” It’s as if God has like, a little cup, and He puts all of the dust of the earth and all that there is into this little cup and God just measures it. No one except God. “And who has weighed the mountains in the balance?” It’s like a small pair of scales. Again, like child’s play. The proportions here comparing God to His creation is like comparing the blazing sun in the sky above to a glowworm. “And who has weighed the hills in a pair of scales?”
Here is God taking all of the elevated topography around the earth and placing them on one side of the scales and then trying to balance it out with other raised up places on the other side of the scale so that they would be perfectly in balance so that as the earth rotates, it will not be lopsided and as it circulates, it will not be over-weighted on one side, but that as the earth would rotate, it would have perfect distribution of its weight. That was God as He spoke with such extraordinary power.
The people of God in Isaiah’s day needed to be reminded of the awesomeness of who He is. This was written in a day in which the Assyrian empire was threatening the Northern kingdom and it would be in a soon — soon when the Babylonian kingdom would come against the Southern kingdom and they would be carted off to 70 years of captivity in Babylon and they needed to recapture an extraordinary view of God and by the mercy of God, beginning here in chapter 40, Isaiah looks to a time in which He will bring them back from Babylonian captivity and they will appear to be as grasshoppers in the sight of the Babylonians, but what God wants them to see that though their enemies are so much greater than they are, God is so much greater than the entire earth.
Better to have small faith in a great God, than great faith in a small God. Your faith is only as good as the object upon which it is cast. G. Campbell Morgan was the predecessor of Martin Lloyd Jones at Westminster Chapel and they served side by side for a number of years as well, and one Sunday morning, G. Campbell Morgan preached this extraordinary message on prayer, and a proper English woman came to him in the lobby after the service was over. She had on white gloves and took G. Campbell Morgan’s hand with her white gloves and said, “Mr. Morgan, can I pray about little things or do I only pray about big things to God?” And G. Campbell Morgan looked at her and said, “Dear woman, everything in your life is little to God.”
There is nothing in your life that is big and so it is. That’s the way we want it. We want to have this awesome God, not a puny God. A puny fortress is our God? “Puny, puny, puny.” “Oh how Puny thou art.” That hymn just doesn’t work. No, we need an awesome God, a majestic God, a sovereign God, an all-powerful God. And as we do, our own hearts are enlarged and we are elevated and we are lifted up and we live on high places.
This is what the people of God needed to recover. Their view of God had become dismally small. What they needed to see is that no prayer was too hard to answer, no circumstance too hard for God to overturn, no obstacle too hard to remove, no door too hard to open, no heart too hard for God to humble, no soul too hard for God to save. This is where this begins with the immense power of God. And I would say to you and to myself that whatever is the burden, the stress, the anxiety, the worry, it is very small compared to the bigness of God. As long as Peter kept his eyes on the Lord, he could walk on water, but when he began to look at the waves crashing around him, he began to drown.
Let us focus upon the greatness of our God, but second, not only His infinite power, but please note in verse 13 His inscrutable wisdom. It’s one thing to have power, but power could be misused and abused. But, this is an extraordinary combination, infinite power with inscrutable wisdom. Notice in verse 13, “Who has directed the spirit of the Lord?” What we find here is going to be now another series of questions, and these rhetorical questions, the answers, again, will be so obvious that He does not even bother to answer them. As he asks these questions, they are intended to cause us to think, to probe our thinking.
“Who has directed the spirit of the Lord?” Paul will quote this in Romans chapter 11, and the answer is no one has directed the Spirit of God and the use of His awesome power, or as His counselor has informed Him. In other words, God’s never learned anything and God has never looked down the proverbial tunnel of time to see what would any — see what anyone would do about anything, because God already knows everything and the reason God knows everything is because God has foreordained all that shall come to pass. It is already known by God, so who could bring information outside of the knowledge of God to God and then be His counselor, and the answer is no one. God does not go to anyone for counsel.
With whom did He consult, and the reference here is to the time of the creation of the world, and who gave Him understanding? Who explains things to God about your life? Certainly not you or me in our prayers or in our thoughts. With whom — who taught Him in the path of justice? Who taught God what is fair? No one. Who taught Him knowledge? Who schooled God? Who discipled God? Who instructed God? Who brought God up to speed with what’s going on? And who informed Him of the way of understanding?
God always knows what is best in every situation because God has perfect wisdom. He knows everything perfectly. He discerns everything completely. He plans everything wisely. God has never made a mistake in judgement. God never needs a second chance to get it right after missing on His first option. God oversees the affairs of providence perfectly. If you and I had a thousand years to meet together and to collaborate and to try to improve upon the plan and the will of God just one iota for any one of our lives, it could not be improved upon to any extent.
God answers every prayer perfectly. He works out His timing for our lives perfectly. God sizes us our needs perfectly and He charts the right course for our lives perfectly. This inscrutable wisdom of God. This is what the people of God needed to hear 800 years before the coming of Christ as they were surrounded by oppressive empires in Assyria and Babylon that were threatening their national security. They needed to look up to God and to see the absolute power and the infinite wisdom of God and to put their trust in Him.
And then third, in verse 15, His immense glory. This awesome God who’s full of glory that far surpasses and outshines all the splendor of all of the nations combined. There will be now more rhetorical questions. Here are two more. Verse 15, “Behold, the nations are like a drop from a bucket.” Please note, nations plural, not just Babylon and not just Assyria, but Egypt, and the Medes and the Persians and all of the empires and all of the dynasties and all of the nations of the world collectively together, all of their pomp and all of their splendor, and all of their glory are but a tiny little drop of perspiration on the outside of a bucket that just comes slithering down the outside. The nations are nothing compared to the immense glory of God and can do nothing to thwart the eternal decree and sovereign purposes of God.
“Behold the nations are like a drop from a bucket.” Verse 15, “And are regarded as a speck of dust on the scales.” In other words, all of the nations that are threatening Israel, all of the nations that are stressing and causing their worry and anxiety, Isaiah is saying they are so insignificant compared to God that they are like a speck of dust on scales. They do not even weigh in. “Behold, he lifts up the, the coastlines or the islands like fine dust.” That’s even less significant than dust, fine dust is a sub-category of dust. It’s just fine dust. It’s nothing. There’s no weightiness, there’s no gravitas. There’s no importance. There’s no significance compared to God and God carrying out His plans and His purposes for human history.
Verse 16, “Even Lebanon.” Now, that was the land with the largest forests and the largest trees. “Even Lebanon is not enough to burn.” In other words, if you gathered all of the trees and all of the forests of the rich lands of Lebanon and burned them all in offering to God, it would be way too insignificant to communicate the majesty and the transcendence of almighty God. “Nor its beasts enough for a burnt offering.” If all the animals in the land were to be gathered to be sacrificed and put on an altar, it would be too small of a sacrifice to adequately convey and communicate the greatness of our God.
So in verse 17, he comes back to what he said in verse 15 to reinforce it. He says, “All the nations.” All the world empires, all the world dynasties collectively together, “All the nations are as nothing before him.” Now, this does not mean nothing in importance because they are created in the image of God, but they are nothing as to their power and their splendor and their glory. They’re nothing compared to this God and the advance of His kingdom. They are regarded by Him — look at this in verse 17. “They are regarded by him as less than nothing.” That’s a negative. That’s less than zero. That’s in the minus category. All of the nations of the world are less than nothing in significance and splendor before almighty God.
Psalm 33:10 says “The Lord nullifies the counsel of the nations. He frustrates the plans of the peoples.” His plans go forth from one generation to another. Proverbs 27:1 says, “The heart of the king is in the hand of the Lord. Like rivers of water, he channels it whichever way he will.”
I had a lamp at home that had a lion and it represented the British empire, and the paw of the lamp is upon a globe and it shows the dominance of the British empire in the nineteenth century over the entire earth, but in reality, the Lion of the tribe of Judah has His paw upon the globe, and He dominates the world scene by the carrying out of His purposes here upon the earth.
So, verse 18, these two rhetorical questions, “To whom, then, will you liken God?” The answer is no one, because God is incomparable. “Or what likeness will you compare with him?” Any comparison and every comparison that we would make with God falls infinitely short of the reality of the height and the depth and the breadth and the length of His glory.
In verse 19, he talks about the gods of these nations that are as nothing. He says, “As for the idol,” that would be the false, fake gods that the other nations worshiped in the days in which Isaiah lived. “As for the idol, a craftsman casts it, a goldsmith plates it with gold, and a silversmith fashions chains of silver.” That’s a rich man’s idol.
In verse 20 is a poor man’s idol. “He who is too impoverished for such an offering,” in other words cannot afford the gold and the silver to have — to hire a goldsmith or a silversmith to make an icon for Him, he was too impoverished for such a thing, “Selects a tree that does not rot. He seeks out for himself a skillful craftsman to prepare an idol that will not totter.” Worshiping false idols and false deities is the ultimate futility. Dumb idols are nothing. They know nothing. They have nothing. They say nothing. They offer nothing. They give nothing. They are nothing.
And today, we have idols not made with hands, but idols made with the mind in which we have reconfigured God in our own image, and we have lowered the greatness of God. A. W. Tozer says, “The essence of idolatry is the entertainment of thoughts about God that are unworthy of Him. How we need to have elevated yet again the escalation of our understanding of the holiness and the sovereignty and the grace of our God.
As he continues to expand this ‘behold your God,’ not only His immense glory and His infinite power and His inscrutable wisdom, but fourth, beginning in verse 21, His invincible sovereignty. The true living God exercises undisputed, supreme authority over every world order, over all world rulers, and over world history itself. Notice beginning in verse 21, and now, here is another rapid-fire succession of rhetorical questions. Again, the answers of which are so obvious that anyone here today who is able to process reality knows the answer to this instinctively.
“Do you not know?” It implies a positive answer. Yes, you do know this. “Have you not heard?” That implies you have heard this. “Has it not been declared to you from the beginning?” This has been made known to you since day one. This is theology 101. This is theology at kindergarten level. This is entry level knowledge of God. “Have you not understood from the foundations of the earth?” And here’s what it is in verse 22. It is the absolute sovereign authority of God over all the works of His hands.
Verse 22, “It is he who sits above the circle of the earth.” Please note, He sits. And that is to say He is enthroned on high. He is occupying the throne. He is exulted. And as He is seated upon His throne, He is exercising His regal and royal prerogatives. He is ruling and reigning.
When John, in Revelation chapter 4:1-2, when a door is open in heaven and he is caught up into heaven, the very first thing that he sees is not streets of gold, or gates of pearl or who’s there or who is not there. The very first thing that he locks in on and it is — it has seized his attention is that there is a throne standing in heaven and that everything in the universe finds its location by its proximity to the throne, and as he goes through the chapter, everything is either beneath the throne, beside the throne, above the throne, coming forth from the throne or approaching the throne, but everything revolves around the throne.
It is the irresistible sovereignty of God, and when the Lord Jesus Christ returns in Revelation chapter 19, that same door is open in heaven and there is a white stallion that comes bursting out of heaven and He who sat upon it has many diadems, just sovereignty stacked upon sovereignty upon sovereignty. Unlimited sovereignty, and He has a name that no one knows, meaning that His sovereignty far exceeds whatever — what any human mind can even begin to comprehend. However sovereign you perceive God to be, it falls far short of the reality of who He is and what He possesses in heaven.
Verse 22, “It is he who sits above the circle of the earth” and as He looks down from His throne, it says, “And its inhabitants are like grasshoppers.” Like mere insects unable to resist His right arm in the day of His power. “Who stretches out the heavens like a curtain.” The vastness of the universe is incomparable, immeasurable. We cannot even take in the breadth of outer space, and as God has spoken everything into existence, it’s like you going back to your hotel room and just spreading the curtain in your shower. “And spreads them out like a tent to dwell in.”
Verse 23, it is He, “He it is who reduces rulers to nothing.” Those rulers that breathe greatest terror into the ears of those upon the earth, God reduces them to nothing. He makes the judges of the earth meaningless. They are of no significance.
Verse 24, “Scarcely have they been planted.” In other words, briefly for one fleeting moment they have been put into their office and put into their place, scarcely have they been planted. And, it is God who has planted and placed them there. “Scarcely have they been sown” meaning been placed in the land. “Scarcely has their stock taken root in the earth” meaning they have barely even begun to rule once assuming their power. “Scarcely has their stock taken root in the earth but He” — God — “merely blows on them.” Like a man snapping a dandelion, just blowing on it, and all of those small little seeds just go in every direction. He merely blows on them and they wither.
He’s got the whole world in His hand, and he’s got the hearts of the rulers of the world in His hand and he’s got the oceans and the sea and the hills and the mountains in His hand, and He has inscrutable wisdom to carry out His sovereign purposes and even what they mean for evil, God means for good, and He is so sovereign that not even a sparrow falls apart from the Lord, and our very hairs of our head are numbered and the casting of the lot into the lap, it’s every turning up is from the Lord. “And the storm carries them away like stubble.” They are political light weights. They have no staying power.
So, verse 23, another question intended to cause us to think. The raising of the question forces us to give the answer at least silently within our own minds. Rather than Isaiah speaking it to us, but in this case, the question is raised by God Himself as God now interrupts and God calls for the question, “To whom, then will you liken me?” Which world ruler, which empire will you liken to my kingdom? “To whom, then, will you liken me that I should be his equal?” The answer is, that if there is an organizational chart for the universe, God is at the very top and everyone is so beneath Him. There is no one on His level. There is no one in His league. There is no one in His class. It is just God and God alone presiding over all of the affairs of the world.
“To whom then will you liken me that I should be his equal says the holy one” meaning the one who is a cut above, the one who is transcendent and majestic. The one who has established His throne in the heavens and His sovereignty rules over all. The one to whom the angels are crying out, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God almighty.” The people of God needed to have their focus riveted upon this sovereign God in heaven.
So, he says in verse 26, “Lift up your eyes on high. Look up into the heights of heaven and see who has created these stars.” And the answer is, it is God and God alone who has created these stars, the one who leads forth their host by number. God providentially governs and controls these massive celestial bodies. He calls them all by name. Orion, Pleiades, He has them all named and numbered. “Because of the greatness of His might and the strength of His power, not one of them is missing.” Listen, the stars are not controlling our destiny. The stars are being controlled by God Himself. There are no maverick molecules. There are no maverick stars. There are no maverick planets. There is no maverick anything. God in His infinite sovereignty overseeing and orchestrating from the greatest to the smallest, from the heavenly bodies, to world rulers and empires all the way down to mere men who are but grasshoppers. They all exist to do His bidding.
Finally in verse 27, there’s a fifth truth that I want you to see. Not only His irresistible sovereignty, but finally His inexhaustible grace. This sovereign God gives all sufficient grace to His people in their trials and in their afflictions, which is not to say that the nations of the world as they bring their terror and their devastation upon the land of God’s people — it is not to say that it is without reality, God will not protect them from all of this devastation, but God will give them the grace to persevere through the most difficult and dark hours that they will face. He gives a greater grace. He gives strengthening grace that is all sufficient.
Verse 27 begins with yet another question. “Why do you say, O Jacob, and assert, O Israel my way is hidden from the Lord and the justice due me escapes the notice of my God?” The reason this question is raised — because this is exactly what Jacob and exactly what Israel was thinking. As they will be carted off into captivity to Babylon and be there for 70 long years and in their mind they will be thinking, ‘God has forgotten us and our way is hidden from God and this is perhaps unfair. The punishment far outweighs the crime and where is the justice of the Lord? He is too heavy handed with us.’ So, that is the point of the question in verse 27. These are questions that you and I often ask as well. Has God forgotten me? Does God remember where I am? Has God forgotten me in the midst of this trial in this dark situation?
And here’s the answer in verse 28. He answers the question with a question. Imagine that. In verse 27, he says “Why do you say?” And now he answers in verse 28, “Do you not know? Have you not heard?” Again the implication is yes, you do know this. Yes, you have heard this. If it’s new, it’s not true. The everlasting God. Let’s just pause there for a moment. God without beginning, God without end, self-sufficient, self-sustaining, autonomous, independent, the Aseity of God dependent upon no one, everyone dependent upon Him. This everlasting God, the Lord, the creator of the ends of the earth, He gives strength.
The God who has all power gives strength to the weary. Now, we’re all weary. It’s just some people fail to recognize it. He gives strength to the weary, to the one who recognizes their lack of strength. And to him who lacks might, He increases power. He gives spiritual power, emotional power, even physical power.
“Though youths grow weary and tired,” it speaks of those who have the most human strength. Even they become weary. “And vigorous young men stumble badly, yet those who wait for the Lord.” That’s what you and I can do. We can wait for the Lord. We must wait for the Lord. This means not to take matters into our own hands, not to assume our own purposes. It means to trust in Him and to look to Him and to rely upon Him and rest in Him and hope in Him. “Those who wait for the Lord will gain.” You see the word ‘gain’? The word literally means to exchange one thing for another. It was used to taking off old clothes and putting on new clothes.
Those who wait for the lord will exchange their old weariness for new strength, is what this is saying. “They will mount up with wings like eagles.” They will soar above the times in which they live. Though all around them are in panic and all around them are filled with dread, those who wait on the Lord will mount up with wings like eagles and they will fly over the times in which they live. And they will run and not get tired as they will pursue the will and the work of God in their generation and in their hour. They will be given supernatural strength to serve God and to carry out the purposes of His kingdom, and they will walk in the nitty, gritty of life, where life is lived. They will walk but not become weary.
How big is your God? That is the issue before the church in every generation and that is the issue before us today. And the greater we understand our God, who our God is, the greater we will love Him, the greater we will preach Him, the greater we will pray to Him and praise Him and serve Him. We must have an enlarged view of God.
Years ago, the pastor of Tenth Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia, Donald Grey Barnhouse, was asked to come to Princeton Seminary to preach in chapel to the student body. And as he came that day to Miller Chapel at Princeton Theological Seminary, as he stood to preach there on the front row was the faculty. Some of the greatest minds in the world. And there was one particular man, Robert Dick Wilson who was so smart, no one could even understand how smart he was. He was proficient in so many different Middle Eastern languages. And as Barnhouse stood to preach that day, after he had preached for about five minutes and he was consciously aware of the distinguished faculty on the front row, Robert Dick Wilson stood to his feet in the middle of his sermon and walked out.
Barnhouse could barely recover. He could barely complete the message and as soon it was over after certain nice pleasantries were expressed to Him, he made a beeline to Professor Wilson’s office.
He walked in. Where have I failed? Where have I fallen short? The professor said, “Young man, you have not fallen short. I only come back to hear my former students preach one time and all I want to know is are they a big Godder or a small Godder?” Do they have a big God who towers over the affairs of history, or do they have a puny, tiny, little God? Professor Wilson said, “You, sir, have a big God and I only needed to hear you preach for five minutes to know that you are faithful to the glory of God.”
I want to ask you this afternoon, are you a big Godder? Do you have a big God? Do you not know? Have you not heard? Has it not been said to you from the beginning that He who sits in the heavens sits above the circle of the earth, and its inhabitants are like grasshoppers. To whom then will you compare me, says the Lord.
As we come to grow in our understanding of the awesomeness of our God, the church of the Lord Jesus Christ will be strong and rooted and grounded in the midst of the times in which we live, in which we are surrounded once again by the threatenings and the terrors of the nations. Look to God. Put your faith in God. Wait on the Lord and you will gain new strength. Let us pray.
Our Father in heaven how we praise you this afternoon that you have given this revelation of yourself to us as your prophet Isaiah has spoken these words and they have been recorded for our understanding. We praise you that you are such a powerful, all-wise, sovereign, glorious God who gives strength to His people. Father, we confess our weakness, our weariness. We hear Jesus say, “Apart from me, you can do nothing.” Yet we hear Paul say, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens us.” Lord, may we in this room this day have an ever-enlarged and ever-expanded understanding of who you are. And may our own hearts be filled with new wonder and new power as we serve you. We pray this in Jesus name, amen.