Discerning Church Learning to discern the movement of God's Spirit

70 sextillion stars

Today, I am preparing a homily for funeral. Fred Shulze passed away last week. Fred was the organist at First Baptist Church Muncie for almost 40 years. He was also a professor at Taylor University and Upland, Indiana. I will be reading from a psalm during the service; the psalms are certainly appropriate for musicians. Yet many of us non-musicians also find the Psalms helpful. They aid us in our worship. When we are unable to express ourselves, the psalms help us form words to God.

A few weeks ago, I was reading Pslam 147:1-5. The psalmist praises God for all that he has done. The psalmist recognizes God’s provision for his people; He has redeemed them from exile, restoring the city of Jerusalem.

(Psalms 147:1–3 NIV) Praise the LORD. How good it is to sing praises to our God, how pleasant and fitting to praise him! The LORD builds up Jerusalem; he gathers the exiles of Israel. He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.

But he goes a step further; the psalmist recognizes God’s incomprehensible understanding.

(Psalms 147:4 NIV) He determines the number of the stars and calls them each by name.

Think about that. God has numbered the stars and names each one. I wondered how many stars that might be. So I did what any curious person might do in 2013; I asked Google. The numbers vary according to the source. But CNN reports (according to a study by Australian astronomers in 2003) that there are 70 sextillion stars. That is 70,000 million million million. Mind-blowing to say the least.

The psalmist can only conclude,

(Psalms 147:5 NIV) Great is our Lord and mighty in power; his understanding has no limit.

Do we really believe this about God? Do we really appreciate the depth of his understanding? On an intellectual level, most of us would agree with this statement. However on a functional level, our actions do not affirm this truth. This blog has to do with discerning God’s voice. It particularly has to do with helping churches discern God’s leading as they make decisions. I find it perplexing that we serve a God who’s understanding has no limit and yet we often fail to seek him in our decisions. Sure, we say that we seek him. We often offer a prayer in our decision-making meetings asking for his leading. But, in our decision-making practices, we leave Him on the sidelines.

May we learn to confess and practice our serving a God who’s understanding has no limit. If God can number and name 70 sextillion stars; He can probably figure out what our church should do about fill in the blank here. May this reality sink in; may we live as though we believe this.