Based on: Isaiah 55:10-11
When you were younger you probably played games and used your imagination to pretend you were something or someone else. You imagined that things to be true that weren’t necessarily true as you played house or pretended to be at war with your neighbor. I don’t know, maybe you still use your imagination, may be to pretend you won the lottery. Today we are going to use our imagination a little bit and pretend that we can evaluate God’s statement that his Word is effective. Of course we are only God’s creation, and we have no right to stand in judgment over what God says. But for a few moments we are going to pretend and we are going ask the question, "Does God’s Word work?"
What about God’s statement concerning his Word, "It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it." How does this statement compare with your own experience? Do you ever look at what happens in the world around us and have doubts about whether God is in control? Whether his Word actually accomplishes God’s work?
When we lived in Texas, near Dallas, there were a number of very large churches in the area. These churches had thousands of members, perhaps some of them even had tens of thousands. I’m sure that in some of those churches you would hear the gospel message, but at others it was clear that their message was intended specifically to get people in the doors. It could really make someone wonder about the power of God’s Word when you looked at the church we attended which faithfully proclaimed God’s word and yet had only about a hundred members and then you looked at that church that proclaimed a very human message and had many thousands of members along with a bowling alley and shopping and so much more right on the church grounds.
If we look a little closer to home, what is our experience here in Sleepy Eye? What are we supposed to think about God’s Word when membership slowly declines and the youth of our church often leave? When a parent is concerned about their child who has abandoned the church and worried about their salvation, can you really comfort them with the message that God’s Word works? Then when we look around us in this congregation at our fellow Christians who have suffered and some who have also died, do you wonder what good work God’s Word actually does for us?
Even pastors can get discouraged and wonder about the work being done. Perhaps they don’t doubt that God’s Word is effective, but they wonder if perhaps they are doing something wrong.
The real problem comes when we doubt God’s Word. When we doubt that God’s Word can and does change people, when we doubt that God’s Word actually accomplishes what God desires, then we fail to use it. If we don’t think God’s Word is going to help then we are not going to use it to comfort ourselves or others in difficult times. We are not going to use it to remind us of our sin and our need for a savior, and we are not going to use it to remind us that God has forgiven us and that we have a much better place waiting for us. If we doubt the power of God’s Word to change people then we are certainly not going to use it to tell others about their savior.
Yet, to not use God’s Word is a great sin against the God who said his Word works. Not only is it a sin against God, but it is one of the greatest atrocities we can commit against ourselves. To not use God’s Word is to say "I’m not interested in the blessings of the Gospel."
Now we can stop pretending that we can judge God’s Word. Whenever we try to sit in judgment over God’s Word we only end up with problems. We need a solution, but what is the solution? The solution is simply this, God says, "As the rain and snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it but and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: it will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent."
The solution is that God says it is true. Just as the rain comes from heaven and creates and sustains life here on earth so does God’s Word come from God who is in heaven and creates and sustains life. This is a statement that can only be accepted through faith.
Through the eyes of faith we can even see some examples of God’s Word at work. When you are baptized and the minister used God’s Word in your baptism, God sent his rain showers to water the seed planted in your heart and faith sprouted.
All of you here today are a testimony to the fact that God’s Word does work. If God’s Word did not work why would you be here? You wouldn’t. You are here because you want to know what God has to say to you. You want to hear his wonderful gospel message that you are forgiven for your sin.
Even for the many times that we don’t see the obvious effects of God’s Word working in the lives of people, let us remember that it will accomplish what God desires, not necessarily what we desire. Immediately before these two verses that we just read from Isaiah Chapter 55 God says, "’For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,’ declares the Lord. ‘As the heavens are higher than the earth so of my ways higher that your ways and my thoughts that your thoughts.’"
Consider the rain coming down from the sky. You don’t know when or where or how long it will rain and perhaps it doesn’t rain exactly when or where you would like it. God is in control of that. You don’t always see the results right away, do you? You don’t see plants immediately pop out of the ground after it rains. No, it takes time. We may not see the results of God’s Word working until many years later. We might not see the results of God’s Word working until we get to heaven, but we can be sure the God’s Word does work according to God’s purpose.
We don’t know where or when the rain is going to do its work, but we do know that it is all according to God’s own purpose. Even when there is drought in one area and flooding in another we can be sure the God is carrying out his plan. The same is true with God’s Word. God describes his purpose in the verses following the to verse as we read today, "You will go out in joy and be led fourth in peace; the mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands." God is describing the joys of Heaven. God’s purpose for sending out his word is to have people enjoy the blessings and peace of eternal life with him.
That is the power of God’s Word, to create life that lasts into eternity.
Do have a tool or a recipe or machinery or something that you use that always works? It is probably the first thing you go to when you have a problem that this thing, whatever it is, can solve. God’s Word is a tool that always works. It always accomplishes precisely what God intends it to accomplish in spite of what we see with our eyes. We trust that it is true. This tremendous power to give life exists right here in our Bibles.