Think about it. If you want to know how something works you tear it apart and put it back together. I still remember an incident that took place in our family life years ago. The children had a gold fish. My son, Jeremiah, came to my wife and asked my wife if she knew that the blood of a goldfish is black. She asked him why he asked that. He said he found Bernie on the floor dead so he decided to dissect him with a clothes spin. Jeremiah was about 3. Think about it, we can figure how things work by tearing them apart and putting them back together. It helps if you know something about what you are tearing apart and how to put it back together. In order to find out how something works it is important to remember the age old statement that many men often want to forget: “READ THE DIRECTIONS.”
Some people may be able to figure out how something works by tearing it apart and putting it back together.. But when it comes to the question before us this morning is that so true? HOW DOES GOD WORK IN OUR LIVES? Some of us may say we may know the answer but life’s ups and downs have a way of causing us to forget. Even with directions in hand it may be difficult to answer the question: HOW DOES GOD WORK IN OUR LIVES? Are we talking about how God provides for us? Are we talking about how God protects us? Are we talking about how God guides us? Are we talking about how God saves us? Simple answer to those questions is all the above.
When we look at the Scriptures we can initially come away with different answers if we look at isolated incidents in the lives of God’s people. Let’s say we look at how God saved people or called them to follow him. For example God worked in the life of Saul who became the Apostle Paul by appearing to him on the way to Damascus and confronting him personally and then blinding him before he totally worked for God instead of against God. When God called Isaiah he used a vision of the glory of the Lord and put hot coals on his lips. God appeared to Moses in a burning bush and called Moses to lead his people. God worked at certain times in history through some pretty amazing miracles. Even in our text you can say that Jesus was directly working with the people he called to be disciples in a visual physical way. How can I be sure that God is working in my life because Jesus is no longer walking the earth?
Looking carefully at God’s Word this morning from the gospel helps us to see how the Lord worked in the lives of his disciples then and how he works in our lives now. “The next day Jesus decided to leave for Galilee. Finding Philip, he said to him, ‘Follow me.’ 44 Philip, like Andrew and Peter, was from the town of Bethsaida. 45 Philip found Nathanael and told him, ‘We have found the one Moses wrote about in the Law, and about whom the prophets also wrote-- Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.’ The Bible reminds us throughout that we have no power to seek out God and his promises. He comes to us to make himself known. We are reminded in the Scriptures that we are born not knowing and not wanting to know God or follow him. Jesus found Philip. Jesus invited Philip to follow him. When Philip worked as the messenger of Jesus in inviting Nathanael he used the Word of God to remind Nathanael that Jesus of Nazareth is the one whom the Old Testament Scriptures had promised. Even though Jesus worked with Philip and before this, Andrew, personally, it was the Word of God that he used to work in their lives. In some cases when he called the disciples he created faith and in others he strengthened their faith that was already there in the plan of God’s salvation through the Messiah the Christ, Jesus of Nazareth.
In the ups and downs of life we can lose sight of how God works in our lives. We can admit he made the world. We can admit that he even made us in our mother’s womb. But we may forget that he has called us to follow him through the revelation of God’s plan in the Scriptures. God erases our doubts and uncertainties as he reminds us that God has worked our salvation through his own dear Son he sent into this world as our brother to be our Savior. As we look back in our lives over the past years we may see God working in our lives more dramatically than other times. God reminds us in the Scriptures to follow him. We follow him by coming to know he is the one God planned to send to rescue us from eternal death to eternal life. His promise to save us is connected to his promises to hear our prayers and answer them, to provide for us spiritually and physically.
It is interesting to see how God worked in the life of Nathanael who heard the invitation by Philip and seems to respond somewhat skeptically. 46’Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?’ Nathanael asked. ‘Come and see,’ said Philip. 47 When Jesus saw Nathanael approaching, he said of him, ‘Here is a true Israelite, in whom there is nothing false.’ 48’How do you know me?’ Nathanael asked. Jesus answered, ‘I saw you while you were still under the fig tree before Philip called you.’ 49 Then Nathanael declared, ‘Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the King of Israel.’ It is helpful to know that at the time of Jesus people often used the shade of a fig tree to pray to God. Jesus reveals to Nathanael that he knew him before Phillip even invited him. Nathanael had been waiting for the promised Savior. He knew the plan of the Almighty God. He knew that God worked in the lives of his people through the promises of the God who had revealed himself in the Scriptures. He confesses his confidence and trust in Jesus of Nazareth as the Son of God. Jesus provided the information of his omniscience as God to strengthen the faith of Nathanael and to reveal to him that Jesus was the Messiah he was waiting for.
If you look at the ministry of Jesus in the Scriptures you will see there were times when Jesus was coming to a person who had no knowledge of who he was and then at times he was simply announcing that he was the one who was promised in the Scriptures. Philip’s invitation to skeptical Nathanael was important and so was the invitation to “Come and See.” Many times in our own lives we need the reminder to “Come and See.” Be reminded of who the Lord is and how he is has worked in your life and how he is working in your life to provide, protect but most importantly to save you eternally. Other times we ourselves are the instruments of God in bringing that message to other people in our work place or in our own families or neighborhood.
Personally I believe we ask ourselves the question more often than we think about: how is God working our lives? We can see a car and tear apart and see the parts and how they work together. But often we fail to see, know and believe that God is working our lives ever single day to remind us of what he has done and is doing in our lives. Nathanael’s confession was genuine and real because he understood that the God who knew him completely and totally was standing in front of him. Jesus reminded Nathanael that he would see great things. Jesus said, ‘You believe because I told you I saw you under the fig tree. You shall see greater things than that.’ 51 He then added, ‘I tell you the truth, you shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.’” What my son Jeremiah could see was a gold fish and its guts. We see the world and its violence, ups and downs, feel the cold weather but often forget that God is working in our lives to have us follow him as we come and see who is and what he is doing in our lives. And he confidently reminds us that we will see greater things. He has promised us to be with us every day in every circumstance. He has promised to reveal himself fully and completely in our life with him in heaven.
Jacob the Old Testament believer had deceived his father and had to leave home because of his deceit. He had God’s promises but perhaps confused and weak in his understanding of how God was working in his life. That night that he left his home he laid down to sleep and was given a vision of angels ascending and descending a ladder to heaven. More importantly he was remind of God’s promises first given to grandpa Abraham and his father Jacob. He went on to his uncle Laban confirmed in his faith to face other challenges n his life. Be reassured as Jacob and Nathanael were reassured by the Lord that you too will see great things in the future. God has worked in your life and is working in your life. Come and follow him as you listen, believe and trust his word. Come and See who he is and what he has done and is doing for you as your Savior.