If it feels good, and doesn't hurt anybody, do it

onionboy drawingWe're starting a new series today. We're going to look at some of the lies that we've believed. A couple of weeks ago, a few of us sat down and asked ourselves, "What are some of the lies that we have always believed?" We came up with about a dozen. We're going to look at some of them over the next few weeks. You may have some that you'd like to suggest as well. If you do, let me know. We may like your idea better and bump one of yours.

What we really want to do in this series is to look at the lens through which we see the world. Some of you never knew that you wore glasses, and that's just the point. We all have a worldview. A worldview is a set of assumptions that we hold - consciously or unconsciously - through which we interpret the world. We pick these up through culture, through our families, from all kinds of places. We don't even know that we hold many of these assumptions, but we do. These assumptions color our interpretation of everything that we encounter. It's important to take a step back and to look at whether these assumptions are actually true.

Here's the kicker: some of the lies that we believe seem so obvious to others, especially from different cultures or generations. You can probably spot some widely accepted beliefs in previous generations which look blatantly false to you, but everyone believed them not so long ago. The same goes with younger generations, and those from very different cultures from our own. We're really only blind to our own assumptions, which seems pretty clear to everyone else. Let's see if we can identify what some of these assumptions might be, and then look at what the Bible says about them as well.

The first lie is this one: If you want to, it feels good, and it doesn't hurt anyone - just do it. Dear Abby once wrote, "It's wrong only if you hurt yourself, someone else, or if you feel it's wrong for any reason." This is probably one of the most widely accepted beliefs in our culture. We face moral decisions all the time. How do we decide what is moral and what is immoral? Some people use a code of ethics. Some use Biblical teaching. The majority of us ask a couple of questions: first, do I want to do it? A desire is a powerful thing. We tend to believe that an unmet desire is a travesty - another assumption! And then we ask ourselves, "If we do this, will it hurt anyone?" If the answer is no, then we go ahead and do it with a clear conscience.

On one hand, this sort of makes sense. You can see the reasoning behind it. How could you possibly object to an action that has no harmful effect on anyone else? How could you call such a thing immoral? It helps deal with all kinds of decisions that we have to make quickly everyday. It's much more attractive than some of the arbitrary rules that many of us don't like.

I could give you all kinds of examples. Yesterday, I had someone quote me for a job, and he gave me a cash price. A cash price means that it's all under the table, and nobody pays any taxes. It's cheaper for me, and easier for the worker. The only one who loses out is the government, and really, do they need the money? At a moment like that, we tend to think, "Who is this really going to hurt?" and, if we decide that nobody will get hurt, we go ahead and do it. That's a pretty small decision, but the same thing happens all the time with small and large decisions that we make.

On the other hand, you have God, and all kinds of commands that seem unreasonable. When we face a moral decision, we sometimes think that we'd like to do what God says, but what's the harm in ignoring some of the stricter commands? Where's the victim? Why should we obey God when he tells us not to do something we want to do, even when it doesn't hurt anyone?

I suppose we could just say that God trumps all of us, and that if he says it we should do it. On one hand, that's not a completely bad answer. It's presumptuous of us to think that we know better than God, and in a sense, if God says it we should just do it no matter what we think.

On the other hand, God doesn't approach us that way. God could have said, "Obey me and be quiet," but he didn't. God explained his desire for us, and he's given us the logic behind his commands. A child is much more obedient when she is sure of her parent's intentions for her, and we're likely to fall in line with God's commands when we understand his intentions for our lives.

You could go in all kinds of directions in trying to figure out why we should obey God even when disobeying him wouldn't hurt anyone. I came up with three main reasons this week, which essentially come down to one main reason. Let's look at these three reasons and see if we can make sense of why we should obey God even when disobeying doesn't seem to hurt anyone.

God wants us to be like Him

The first reason is that God desires something for us. You could say that God has an agenda for our lives: he wants us to be like him. God doesn't give arbitrary rules without purpose. He has a deeper reason. He wants to transform us so that we're increasingly like him.

1 Thessalonians 4:3 says, "God wants you to be holy." Romans 8:29 says, "God knew his people in advance, and he chose them to become like his Son." God's main desire isn't to allow us to do whatever we want that doesn't hurt anyone. God has a higher agenda: he wants whatever takes place in our lives to make us more like his Son. One writer calls this a renovation of the heart. That's what God wants for all of us.

When Jesus came to earth, the religious leaders of that day majored in moral commands. They were experts in knowing and even adding to the commands that God gave in the entire Scriptures. You might think that Jesus came to say that none of that matters, that God doesn't care about the rules. Jesus said the opposite. Matthew 5:17-20 says:

Don't misunderstand why I have come. I did not come to abolish the law of Moses or the writings of the prophets. No, I came to fulfill them. I assure you, until heaven and earth disappear, even the smallest detail of God's law will remain until its purpose is achieved. So if you break the smallest commandment and teach others to do the same, you will be the least in the Kingdom of Heaven. But anyone who obeys God's laws and teaches them will be great in the Kingdom of Heaven.

But I warn you-unless you obey God better than the teachers of religious law and the Pharisees do, you can't enter the Kingdom of Heaven at all!

After saying this, Jesus gave some examples of God's commands. Instead of lowering the bar, Jesus went even further and showed what the true meaning of the command was in God's mind. He emphasized the deep, underlying principles behind God's commands, and a total commitment to it.

This is all getting a little scary. We generally hate rules, and the most unattractive people are those who major in following rules, as well as making sure everyone else follows the rules. Jesus wasn't in favor of the Pharisees, and there is strict teaching about legalists - those who create rules of their own, and think that rule-keeping is the way to get to heaven. That's not what I'm talking about at all.

It's a mistake, though, to think that God doesn't want our obedience. Jesus didn't come to say that obedience no longer matters. The reason why it still matters is not so that we could earn a good standing with God. It's because he wants us to be like him. There are actions that we could take that go against this agenda, and God warns us against them. God's desire is that we become like him.

We don't know as much as God does

We could stop there, and as I said earlier, it should be enough that God says something. If God says something, who am I to argue? He isn't arbitrary, and he does have an agenda for our lives - that we become more like his Son. There's a second reason why: we don't know as much as God does. We don't have the information needed to decide what's right and what's wrong. Making moral decisions on our own would be too heavy a burden for people to bear. God isn't limited in his knowledge, and he's able to see what's best for us.

One of the problems with making our own moral decisions is that we're not always the best judges of our situations. We have all kinds of biases. Sometimes what I ought to do is the exact opposite of what I feel like doing. Jeremiah 17:9 says, "The human heart is most deceitful and desperately wicked. Who really knows how bad it is?" That sounds a little harsh, but it's true: we are very capable of deceiving ourselves, of telling ourselves that something that is wrong should be right. We're not in the best position to decide for ourselves what is moral and what isn't.

The Bible also teaches that Satan opposes us, and wants to destroy us. If you take our lack of information, our lack of objectivity, and the presence of opposition, you'd have to conclude that we don't have a basis for deciding what's right and wrong on our own. It would be asking far too much for us to have to make these decisions ourselves.

We don't always see the consequences of our actions. It may look like we're not going to hurt anyone, but these same actions can have devastating consequences later on. We have these old windows in our house. At one time, they used to stay up on their own. Now, we have to prop them up with sticks. One day, I caught my son sitting under one of these windows that was propped up by a stick. I explained to him why it was a bad idea, how he could get hurt, and all of that. A few days later, I found him there again. This time, I gave him a demonstration of how hard that window would come down, not just once but twice. I knew the damage that the window could do; he couldn't foresee what could be wrong. When we have all the information, things can make a lot more sense.

Some of us could stand up and talk about decisions that we've made that we didn't think would hurt anyone, but have ended up doing a lot of damage. God's commands are given because he knows and understands things that we don't, and he's protecting us from the consequences of our own disobedience.

One more reason:

God wants us to be free

We tend to think that commands are restrictive, and that we lose our freedom if we have to obey commands. The Bible presents a different perspective: God gives commands to ensure our freedom. God's commands are expressions of love, given not to restrict us but to set us free. Love is the essence of God's law.

So whenever you speak, or whatever you do, remember that you will be judged by the law of love, the law that set you free. (James 2:12)

I will walk in freedom, for I have devoted myself to your commandments. (Psalm 119:45)

God means keeping his commandments, and really, that isn't difficult. (1 John 5:3)

Contrary to what you'd think, obedience to God leads to freedom, and disobedience leads to bondage. Make sense? You wouldn't predict that it would be this way, but it is true. Disobedience looks like the route to freedom, but it leads us to harm ourselves and others, and also to dishonor God. It looks like the route to freedom, but it's the opposite. It leads us away from freedom.

I've talked about three reasons why obedience is necessary, even when disobedience looks like it won't hurt anyone. I've talked about God's desires for us, his knowledge, and his love. Boil this down and you've got one main reason to obey God: because of his character. Because of who God is, we can trust that he's not arbitrary or strict for the sake of being strict. He's motivated by his desire to make us like his Son, to protect us from the harm that we don't see, and out of his incredible love for us. That's why we're called to obey him.

Boil down the reasons to obey, and you come up with love. Obedience is the response of love to who God is and what he has done for us. Jesus said, "If you love me, obey my commandments" (John 14:15). I could tell you to obey God, but that wouldn't do a lot of good. We can't motivate ourselves to be good by ourselves. But we can be in relationship with God, and to stay so connected to him that our motivation is not duty but love. He promises to help us, because nobody can do this by themselves.

So let's pray. Let's confess any area in which we've chosen to ignore God's commands, because we can't see how disobeying would hurt anyone. Let's thank him for his character, that he has given his commands as an expression of his love and protection. Let's ask him to draw us close to him, that we would obey him, not because we have to, but because we love him.


Darryl Dash

Darryl Dash is a graduate of the University of Waterloo, Heritage Theological Seminary, and Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. He’s married to Charlene, and has two children, Christina and Josiah. Darryl is currently planting Liberty Grace Church in Liberty Village, Toronto. He previously served as pastor of Richview Baptist Church and Park Lawn Baptist Church, both in west Toronto.

Bring Them Down (Daniel 4)

Have you ever caught yourself wishing that someone would be brought down? Occasionally, I'm driving when someone cuts me off or weaves in an out of traffic at twice the speed limit. I find myself thinking, "Bring them down." I fantasize about catching up to them and finding that the police have pulled them over. I sometimes even dream about having my own police light that I can whip out, like I'm an undercover traffic cop. I feel like saying, "Bring them down."

Have you ever had that thought? It's usually about someone who's done something wrong and looks like they won't get caught. It's sometimes about a sports team. It could be someone like Martha Stewart or Conrad Black. It's not so much that we want revenge, but we want justice. We want someone who looks untouchable to be brought down.

Today we're going to look at one of the great villains of history. His name was Nebuchadnezzar, and was the most powerful person of his time. He was the second king of Babylon, and for the Jewish people of that time, he would have been enemy number one. He laid siege to the city of Jerusalem four times. The first time, he took some vessels from the temple and some captives. The second time, he captured Jerusalem and probably killed the king. He came a third time, and finally, he completely destroyed the city. He set fire to the temple, and broke down all the walls of the city, leaving only the poorest people to work the land. You can read about it in Jeremiah 52. It was one of the lowest points of history for God's people at that time. When they thought of Nebuchadnezzar, they would say, perhaps under their breath, "Bring him down." They would like nothing better than to see this man humbled.

God did in fact bring Nebuchadnezzar down, and we're going to read about it today. You would think that God would bring him down for conquering his people, or for killing the kings. You'd think that we would be cheering God as he does this. We would be, except for one thing. God doesn't bring him down for any of these reasons. Instead, he brings him down in the one area of overlap between Nebuchadnezzar and you and me. We probably have very few things in common with this man, and yet the one thing that you and I have in common with him is the very thing that God judges. If you've got a Bible, let's track along together as we look at Daniel 4 and the story of how God brought Nebuchadnezzar down.

One night, Nebuchadnezzar had a dream. In that time, people believed that dreams were messages from the gods. The dream was about a giant tree that was cut down and destroyed:

While I was lying in my bed, this is what I dreamed. I saw a large tree in the middle of the earth. The tree grew very tall and strong, reaching high into the heavens for all the world to see. It had fresh green leaves, and it was loaded with fruit for all to eat. Wild animals lived in its shade, and birds nested in its branches. All the world was fed from this tree.

Then as I lay there dreaming, I saw a messenger, a holy one, coming down from heaven. The messenger shouted, "Cut down the tree; lop off its branches! Shake off its leaves, and scatter its fruit! Chase the animals from its shade and the birds from its branches. But leave the stump and the roots in the ground, bound with a band of iron and bronze and surrounded by tender grass. Now let him be drenched with the dew of heaven, and let him live like an animal among the plants of the fields. For seven periods of time, let him have the mind of an animal instead of a human. For this has been decreed by the messengers; it is commanded by the holy ones. The purpose of this decree is that the whole world may understand that the Most High rules over the kingdoms of the world and gives them to anyone he chooses-even to the lowliest of humans." (Daniel 4:10-17)

Nebuchadnezzar shared this dream with all of his magicians and astrologers, but nobody could interpret it. Finally, a Jewish man named Daniel was brought to the king, and he could interpret it. It wasn't good news. Bad news: the tree represented Nebuchadnezzar, and God was about to bring him down:

That tree, Your Majesty, is you. For you have grown strong and great; your greatness reaches up to heaven, and your rule to the ends of the earth...

This is what the dream means, Your Majesty, and what the Most High has declared will happen to you. You will be driven from human society, and you will live in the fields with the wild animals. You will eat grass like a cow, and you will be drenched with the dew of heaven. Seven periods of time will pass while you live this way, until you learn that the Most High rules over the kingdoms of the world and gives them to anyone he chooses. But the stump and the roots were left in the ground. This means that you will receive your kingdom back again when you have learned that heaven rules. (Daniel 4:22, 24-26)

God warns us against pride

Did you see the problem? Nebuchadnezzar wasn't going to be judged because he destroyed Jerusalem, or because he was an enemy of the Jewish people. He wasn't going to be judged because he destroyed the Temple. He was going to be judged because he forgot something important. He forgot who really is in charge. He needed to learn that he wasn't in charge. He needed to learn that it's God, the Most High, who rules.

Nebuchadnezzar was judged because of his pride. He was judged because he made the same two mistakes that we make all the time. He took credit for what God had done. He looked at what he had accomplished and thought that he could take credit for it. That's not hard to do. Nebuchadnezzar was incredibly successful. He was a brilliant politician. He had defeated all kinds of other countries. He was the most powerful person of his time. Nebuchadnezzar, however, was not responsible. God was. Nebuchadnezzar needed to learn "that heaven rules."

I can relate. It's easy to look at our accomplishments and to think that we're responsible. On one hand, we have had a role in what we've accomplished. But everything we have is ultimately a gift from God. Our abilities - they're a gift. Our accomplishments - they're allowed by God. There's nothing we have that hasn't been given to us from God. We think we rule sometimes, that we're the ones who've done things, but God wants to remind us that he rules. He's the one in charge.

Nebuchadnezzar made another mistake. He thought that it couldn't be taken away. Verse 27 says, "Seven periods of time will pass while you live this way, until you learn that the Most High rules over the kingdoms of the world and gives them to anyone he chooses." God can give whatever he wants to any individual that he wants. He can also take it away. There's nothing that we have that God can't take away in a heartbeat. We have only what God allows us to have. He can give; he can also take away.

We need to hear this. We believe in being self-made. We take pride in what we've been able to do in our lives. We look at what we've accumulated, what we've done, and we take credit for it. God warns us specifically against this type of pride. James 4:6 says, "God sets himself against the proud, but he shows favor to the humble." Just as clearly as God warned Nebuchadnezzar against pride, he warns us against pride. If we want God to oppose us, to take us down, here's the way: become proud. God opposes the proud. He brings them down. To the humble, however, God gives his favor.

If we don't humble ourselves, God may do it for us

God warns us against pride. God goes even further. If we don't humble ourselves, it's possible that God might choose to do it for us. That's exactly what happened with Nebuchadnezzar.

Here you have the most powerful person in the world. You would think that nothing could bring him down. Then one day, everything changes:

But all these things did happen to King Nebuchadnezzar. Twelve months later, he was taking a walk on the flat roof of the royal palace in Babylon. As he looked out across the city, he said, 'Just look at this great city of Babylon! I, by my own mighty power, have built this beautiful city as my royal residence and as an expression of my royal splendor.'

While he was still speaking these words, a voice called down from heaven, 'O King Nebuchadnezzar, this message is for you! You are no longer ruler of this kingdom. You will be driven from human society. You will live in the fields with the wild animals, and you will eat grass like a cow. Seven periods of time will pass while you live this way, until you learn that the Most High rules over the kingdoms of the world and gives them to anyone he chooses.'

That very same hour the prophecy was fulfilled, and Nebuchadnezzar was driven from human society. He ate grass like a cow, and he was drenched with the dew of heaven. He lived this way until his hair was as long as eagles' feathers and his nails were like birds' claws. (Daniel 4:28-33)

God humbles the proud. God can humble the most powerful person, even the most powerful country or multinational corporation. God can humble us, bring us down. He's creative. I don't want that to happen in my life, but I know that if I need it, God is more than capable of taking me down.

Here's the scary part. Verse 29 says "twelve months later." Presumably, Nebuchadnezzar had been doing fairly well. He had avoided pride. He took the dream seriously, and was trying to walk humbly as much as he could. Twelve months later, though, he made the mistake of becoming proud. As soon as he did, God took action. That's one of the dangers of pride: it's not enough to be humble once. Humility is required every day, all the time. God can humble us any time that we start to become proud.

But here's the other side. For those of us who (like me) sometimes struggle with pride, God isn't just into humbling the proud. He's also able to give grace to those who are humble. At the end of the prophesied time, Nebuchadnezzar acknowledged God's sovereignty:

After this time had passed, I, Nebuchadnezzar, looked up to heaven. My sanity returned, and I praised and worshiped the Most High and honored the one who lives forever.

His rule is everlasting,
and his kingdom is eternal.
All the people of the earth
are nothing compared to him.
He has the power to do as he pleases
among the angels of heaven
and with those who live on earth.
No one can stop him or challenge him,
saying, 'What do you mean by doing these things?'

When my sanity returned to me, so did my honor and glory and kingdom. My advisers and officers sought me out, and I was reestablished as head of my kingdom, with even greater honor than before. (Daniel 4:34-36)

The end of verse 37 concludes with the point of this story. It reads, "All his acts are just and true, and he is able to humble those who are proud." Here's the point of the story: God is able to humble those of us who think we're proud. God humbles the proud. The point of this passage isn't just about us and our place. It's about God and his place. Here's the key, the main point of what we're supposed to learn: God demonstrates his sovereignty by showing us that we're not. God still demonstrates his sovereignty today, and is able to remind us that he's in charge and we're not.

When we are humble, God is able to use us. One of the most famous early missionaries was named Hudson Taylor. Someone once asked him why God chose to use him powerfully. Here's what he said: "The Lord was looking for a man weak enough to use, and He found me."

So here is where we're left. We're left with the challenge of living - not just one day, but for the rest of our lives - in such a way that we know God's sovereign. We live knowing that we're not sovereign, that we're not in charge, and that if we think we are that God was warned us, and has said that he opposes us. It's remembering who God is, and who we are beside him.

I invite you to pray today. First, let's confess our pride. Let's confess when we've thought we're responsible, when we think that what we have can't be taken away. Then let's pray that God would grant us the ability to remember that he's in charge, that we would be humble, because God opposes the proud, but he gives grace to those of us who are humble.


Darryl Dash

Darryl Dash is a graduate of the University of Waterloo, Heritage Theological Seminary, and Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. He’s married to Charlene, and has two children, Christina and Josiah. Darryl is currently planting Liberty Grace Church in Liberty Village, Toronto. He previously served as pastor of Richview Baptist Church and Park Lawn Baptist Church, both in west Toronto.

Our Plans, God's Plans (Genesis 11:1-9)

When I talk to people, I'm sometimes amazed that they keep on going despite the obstacles that they're facing. We're able to endure lousy jobs, relational problems, sicknesses, and all kinds of other problems because we believe something: things will get better. We have hope, and that hope sees us through when things don't look good.

We believe, sometimes against the evidence, that things will get better. We could all stand up here and talk about our dreams for the future. We believe that there is hope, that we will move slowly toward what we hope for. If I told you that this is it, that things won't get any better than they are already today, then I would be seriously demoralized, and you would be too. We keep going because we hope for something more.

Our culture tells us that we can be self-made and set goals. Today's story is a cautionary tale. It's not so much that our desire for hope is wrong. Actually, our ability to plan and to hope is God-given. The desire to accomplish and to hope for the future is a crucial part of how God made us.

Something can happen in us, though, as we lay out plans for ourselves. There's a story in Genesis that you probably know. It's a story so simple that a child can understand it, yet it's one that doesn't easily reveal its message to us. It's the story of the Tower of Babel that was read for us earlier from Genesis 11.

We know the story: people decided to build a tower to reach to the heavens, out of a desire to make a name for themselves and to prevent themselves from being scattered. God intervened and confused their language, so their plans were thwarted and they were scattered all over the earth. That's a simple enough story. It really leaves us wondering what it means for today. I guess we could focus on human pride or all kinds of related issues.

As I read the passage this past week, I noticed some things that I had never seen before. The story is written in parallel. Everything that the people of the story do in verses 1 to 4 is mirrored by God in verses 5 to 9. The story is set up in two acts: the people's plans, and then God's reaction. There was obviously something in the people's plans that God didn't like. What is that?

Troubleshooting our plans

I think there were two problems with the plans to build the Tower of Babel. You can summarize them both under one heading: their plans were an act of rebellion against God. To put it in today's terms, it's possible for us today to make plans that are acts of rebellion against God. It's not so much that planning is wrong, or that God is anti-planning. Not at all. The danger is not with planning. The danger is that our plans can turn out to be acts of rebellion against God.

What was the problem with their plans? As far as anyone can figure out, the tower that they built was a ziggurat. I've got a picture of what one of these looks like. It's a lot like a pyramid with steps. It doesn't look high, does it? Back then, they only had single-story structures, and their large settlements would have been like small villages to us. This would have been a mammoth structure for them. It would have dominated the landscape and been a big deal for these people.

A ziggurat wasn't actually used for anything. Nobody worshiped there. The top of the ziggurat was intended for use by the local god. The stairs were there to make it more convenient for the god to come down for a visit. That's what they meant when they said that the tower would reach into the heavens: it would go up to the territory of the gods. So here is the first problem with their plans to build the tower: In building the tower, they were redefining or completely ignoring the true God. They weren't worshipping the true God, the creator who had revealed himself. Our plans go wrong when we ignore and redefine God.

We do this all the time. Ignoring God is easy. The problem is that God doesn't always stop us and say, "Hey, remember me?" It's easy to live for long periods of time and to start worshiping all kinds of other things besides God, and to make plans that completely ignore him. Those plans usually get God to react, as we're going to see in a minute.

Sometimes we just redefine God. I do this. I believe God, and I think I'm following him, but there's this one area where I want to change what God has said because it doesn't fit my situation. It's easy for us to think that God intended that to apply to everyone else except us. It's easy to think we can follow God, yet completely ignore obedience in one area of our lives and think we can get away with it. This is almost more dangerous than ignoring God. It's selectively following him. We make plans that go against everything that God has revealed about what's best. This is an incredible danger.

There's one other thing about their plans. They said they wanted to build this tower to make a name for ourselves. The other thing that goes wrong with our plans is that we attempt to find significance and immortality in our own achievements. We can be so focused on ourselves. This is where people usually go with this story. They take it as a story about pride and hubris. That's a pretty good take-away from this, actually. Our plans go wrong when we make ourselves the center of our worlds, when it's all about our glory and our good.

We don't need to spend a lot trying to prove that pride is an issue for us. We know it. If you were to overhear someone saying good things about you this morning, you would say "Right on." If you heard someone badmouthing you, you'd be peeved. We may not be quite like The Donald, but some of us guys wouldn't mind a helicopter with our name on it and something named after us. Our dreams and plans can often be all about our glory, our success, and our significance.

Before we go on to look at God's reaction to all of this, let me ask you to take a look at your plans. Are any of them acts of rebellion against God? Do they ignore God, or even worse, do they redefine what God has asked of your life? You've had to change a few details about God to make it fit your plans and your life. How many of your plans are about your glory, success, and significance? This is about the motive.

God's Reaction

Let's look at how God responded to their plans. God responds to plans of rebellion by frustrating our plans. There's a bit of a play on words here. The original hearers of this story would be familiar with Babylon, the most powerful city of that time. They had ziggurats there, one of which might be the one mentioned here. The name Babylon sounds like Babel, and Babel sounds like the Hebrew word for confused. The text here is making a very deliberate point: even the most powerful cultures are nothing before God. God can confuse even the most powerful forces when they make plans that rebel against God.

Take a look at how God responds here. There's a touch of irony in verse 5: "the LORD came down..." The tower looked huge from a human perspective, but to God it looked so small that he had to come down to investigate. There's a little bit of a right-sizing going on here. God can right-size our plans. He can reveal that things that look so important and huge in our lives are really insignificant from his perspective. God can right-size our plans.

God also confuses plans. God can decide anytime to say, "Enough," and that's all it takes. He acted, and the people became divided by language and scattered across the earth. I don't understand all the details of how this happened. I'd like to know, but I don't. The result, though, is clear: God thwarted their plans. God is capable of right-sizing our plans. He's also capable of stopping our plans in their tracks. We think we're in control, but God is more than capable of taking over anytime.

I don't know what's better. When our plans are acts of rebellion against God, it's an act of mercy for God to thwart our plans. It doesn't seem so at the time, but it is. The worst thing that can happen to us at times is for us to get our way. Other times, God seems to let us have what we want, and we're left to live with the results.

James says:

Look here, you people who say, "Today or tomorrow we are going to a certain town and will stay there a year. We will do business there and make a profit." How do you know what will happen tomorrow? For your life is like the morning fog-it's here a little while, then it's gone. What you ought to say is, "If the Lord wants us to, we will live and do this or that." Otherwise you will be boasting about your own plans, and all such boasting is evil. (James 4:13-16)

God isn't anti-planning or anti-accomplishment, and he doesn't delight in confusing our plans. But he does oppose the human pride, security and rebellion that we attach to our accomplishment and plans.

We've talked about how God can thwart the biggest plans of the most powerful people in the world. It's time to go back to the song we heard before the message. The flip side of this is that God can multiply the smallest effort of the life that's surrendered to him. He's able to use the most significant effort and multiply it way beyond our efforts.

We sign a song by Robin Mark sometimes. This is my prayer of surrender today:

All of my
Ambitions, hopes, and plans
I surrender these
Into your hands

For it's only in
Your will that I am free


Darryl Dash

Darryl Dash is a graduate of the University of Waterloo, Heritage Theological Seminary, and Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. He’s married to Charlene, and has two children, Christina and Josiah. Darryl is currently planting Liberty Grace Church in Liberty Village, Toronto. He previously served as pastor of Richview Baptist Church and Park Lawn Baptist Church, both in west Toronto.

The Most Surprising People... (Luke 8:19-21)


Darryl Dash

Darryl Dash is a graduate of the University of Waterloo, Heritage Theological Seminary, and Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. He’s married to Charlene, and has two children, Christina and Josiah. Darryl is currently planting Liberty Grace Church in Liberty Village, Toronto. He previously served as pastor of Richview Baptist Church and Park Lawn Baptist Church, both in west Toronto.