Sermon Info:

Responsive Reading:  John 5:5-17
Key Verse(s): John 14:16-17
Background Scripture:  Numbers 22:1-20; Numbers 23:1-12

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Before you and I was even a thought, when there was nothing, the Lord was busy and at workToday, some believe that the Lord is on vacation as our world burns, but I tell you today that God is always at work!  The question is this:  Do you realize that God is at work?

God Does Not Take Breaks

I want you to know today that God does not take any breaks; He does not take any time off!  Now, some will hear that statement and they will ask, believing they are wiser than all, “what about the Sabbath?”  My response would be to ask, “what about it?”

God is at work on Sabbath

Sabbath — the day of rest; a day not well understood.  Do you know that Jesus had to correct the Jews when it came to their understand on the day of Sabbath?  In our key verse for today’s message, Jesus plainly said to the Jews, “My Father has been working until now, and I have been working.”

16 For this reason the Jews persecuted Jesus, and sought to kill Him, because He had done these things on the Sabbath. 17 But Jesus answered them, “My Father has been working until now, and I have been working.”


As we know, God is the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; all three persons are one and have been working together even before the time of mankind.  In the book of Genesis, we see the Spirit of God present as it hovered over the waters and moved to form all of Creation.  In John’s gospel, John spoke of how the only begotten Son, the Word, was there in the beginning (John 1:1).

In this passage of scripture recorded in John’s gospel (John 5:1-17), Jesus had just healed a lame man on the day of Sabbath.  The man, after he was healed, stood to his feet and carried the bed he laid on while waiting at the pool of Bethesda and walked.  The act of carrying his bed was something the religious leaders frowned at.

So, the religious leaders confronted the man about carrying his bed, doing labor, on the day of Sabbath.  Their frustration was carried over to Jesus because Jesus had healed the man and told him to take up his bed and walk.  So, I want you to understand that the religious leaders were angry at the fact that work, labor, was being carried out on the day of Sabbath – the day of rest.

In response to their frustration, Jesus, if I were to paraphrase my key verse, said to them, My Father has been working until now and I am working this very moment.  Yes, Jesus, God in the flesh, was clearly putting in work on the “day of rest”.

Now, this was not the only time that the religious leaders were frustrated with Jesus’ working on the “day of rest”.  On another occasion, the religious leaders watched to see if Jesus would heal a man with a withered hand on Sabbath so that they could raise accusation against Him.  Jesus, on that Sabbath, healed the man with the withered hand no matter their thoughts and opinions (Luke 6:6-11).

On another Sabbath, prior to the man with the withered hand, Jesus and the disciples went through a grainfield, and as they went through it, the disciples plucked the heads of the grain and ate them (Luke 6:1-5).  This drew the ire of the religious leaders who accused them of not being lawful for laboring on the Sabbath.  To this, Jesus said to them, “The Son of Man is also Lord of the Sabbath.”  In other words, His thoughts on Sabbath superseded their thoughts as He is Lord.

Always at work

Sabbath is seemingly thought of as the one day that God rested — stopped working.  I want you to know that this understanding is very lacking.  The “day of rest” as recorded in Genesis, was the day the Lord completed His work of creation.  After finishing His creation, the Lord continued working by overlooking His creation – He did not take a day off!  To this very day, the Lord is still overlooking (ruling over) His creation.

The prophet Isaiah said of God to Israel, “Have you not known?  Have you not heard?  The everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth, neither faints nor is weary … (Is. 40:28).”  I say to you today, God is always at work; working on the behalf of all of those who genuinely love and believe in Him.

Sometimes we question whether or not the Lord truly is at work for us.  Sometimes we are able to tell – to see – the Lord working and moving on our behalf; these moments are very reassuring to us as believers.  However, most of the time, the Lord is moving and working and we are unable to see or realize it.  These are the moments that make many of us grow concerned and ask whether or not God is moving on our behalf.

We should rest assured that God is at work on our behalf, even in those moments when we cannot see His works.  In other words, the genuine believer should be of true faith that God is at work for them every second of every day.  As the writer of Hebrews wrote, “faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen (Heb. 11:1).”  I ask this of you today:  Do you believe God is at work for you, even when you may not see it?

God’s Work

You see, scripture is filled with several times where God’s work is clearly seen and recognized by people.

Can be seen

Going back to Old Testament days, in the book of Genesis, the Lord’s work was clearly seen and witnessed by Noah and his family.  Noah, after he built the ark, did not have to go out and fetch the creatures that would board the ark.  No, the Lord brought those creatures to the ark.  Not only that, but Noah witnessed the floods and the draining of the water that allowed him and his family to set foot on dry ground (Gen. 6-9).

Again, in the book of Genesis, Abraham was one that literally witnessed the Lord’s work before him.  The Lord, face to face, spoke with Abraham about the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah the day before it happened.  The next day, when Abraham looked in the direction of Sodom and Gomorrah, he witnessed its destruction (Gen. 19:12-29).

Still in the Old Testament days, Moses and the children of Israel literally witnessed the Lord’s work happening before their eyes.  While they were in the bondage of Egypt, they watched as the Lord plagued Pharaoh and the land of Egypt with plague after plague to reveal His great power to man.

Even today, we are able to see that God is at work through nature and through the miracles that have happened in our life and the lives of others.  Yet, faith is not about what we can see because as many witnessed the parting of the Red Sea, many did not believe.  As many witnessed the blind and lame healed, and a man raised from the dead by Christ, many still did not believe.  As it is said by Paul, we must walk by faith and not by sight (2 Cor. 5:7).

Is often not seen

While scripture shows us that the Lord’s work has been seen by mankind, scripture also shows us that God’s work is often not seen or recognized right away by mankind.

In his day of stress and trouble, Job said of the Lord, “I go forward, but He is not there, and backward, but I cannot perceive Him; Where He works on the left hand, I cannot behold Him; When He turns to the right hand, I cannot see Him.  But He knows the way that I take … (Job 23:8-9).”  The Lord is omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent; He is all powerful, all knowing, and is everywhere at all times, moving and working for all of us even when we cannot perceive it!

David, on this same thought, said that the Lord knows our thoughts, our sitting down, our rising up, and understands all of our ways – this goes for every single person, righteous and unrighteous (Ps. 139:1-3).  Where we are often unaware of all that goes on around us, God is never in the dark as to all that is going on around us and in His creation.  God moves and works in the arena of all the things we go unaware of!  To me, this is where the Lord’s best work takes place – in the invisible. 

God’s Invisible Work

In the book of Numbers, we see an example of the Lord moving and working in the invisible arena on behalf of the children of Israel.

The book of Numbers follows the children of Israel on their journey to the Promised Land.  As we know, their journey was not an easy one and it often led to the children of Israel being at odds with Moses, and therefore the Lord.  I liken their journey to all of us as our journey of faith is not an easy one; it often finds us at odds with the Lord, His direction, and what He is doing or “not” doing.

For the children of Israel, and for most of us as well, their main issue on their journey to the Promised Land was their lack of faith in the Lord.  For example, while on the journey, the children of Israel complained about only having manna to eat as opposed to the finer things they used to eat while in bondage (Num. 11:1-6).  Many of us are the same way in that we often struggle to be happy with what God has given us because what He’s given is often considered not to be the finer things we want.

When the Lord brought the children of Israel to the point of entering the Promised Land, the children of Israel refused to enter the land because they let the doubt in the hearts of some influence them not to move forward (Num. 13:17-14:10).  The thoughts that lie within our hearts often lead to our actions.  So, we would be foolish to think that the thoughts and actions of those around us do not influence the actions that we take.

Making a way

Because of their refusal to enter the Promised Land, the children of Israel were made to wander in the wilderness for a generation.  Even though they had rejected the Lord’s blessing, the Lord was still with them and was working on their behalf.

On their journey through the wilderness, they would encounter several enemies; from the Canaanites to the Amorites, they would have to do battle.  Scripture shows us that the children of Israel would choose to be obedient and of faith in God.  Because of their faith, God moved and delivered up the enemies of Israel into their hands and they were victorious (Num. 21).  When God is at work for you, victory is assured; you will overcome all obstacles on your journey and you will be blessed and victorious!

Now, Israel’s victories did not go unnoticed.  Balak, the king of Moab, was paying close attention and saw the success Israel had over his neighbors in the region.  So, Balak grew fearful of Israel as he assumed their next success would come at the cost of his and his people’s life (Num. 22:2-4).

So, as the children of Israel relaxed and camped nearby in the plains of Moab, Balak came up with a plan in his heart to move against the children of Israel.  The children of Israel were completely unaware of this king’s intentions towards them and the actions he took.  Again, many of us on our days of calm and rest just do not realize how much is actually trying to push and work against us.  Thankfully, God is at work and is completely aware.

Behind the scenes

Balak sent for a fortune teller named Balaam; he desired for Balaam to curse the children of Israel (Num. 22:5-6).  Again, Israel had done nothing to this man but he desired greatly to move against them!  I often wonder how many curse us while we are unaware of it, because we are blessed and highly favored by God.  We also know that more than flesh and blood moves against us as our enemy is often rulers of the darkness of this age, principalities, and spiritual hosts of wickedness (Eph. 6:12).

Though the children of Israel were unaware of Balak’s motivations, we find that the Lord was moving ahead of Him.  Scripture tells us that the Lord came to Balaam and directed him not to go with the people that Balak would send his way; God told Balaam not to curse the children of Israel because they were blessed (Num. 22:9-12).

You see, this was God moving on behalf of the children of Israel with them having no knowledge of what was going on at that time.  God is at work for you today in like manner as the Lord works within the hearts of man — God is at work behind the scenes in that invisible arena.

After being visited by God, scripture shows us that Balaam rose in the morning and said to the messengers that Balak had sent to him, “Go back to your land, for the Lord has refused to give me permission to go with you (Num. 22:13).”  Again, all of this was happening with the children of Israel having no knowledge that God was at work protecting them from an enemy!

Now, this was a word that did not please Balak as he sent the messengers again to the fortune teller.  And, for a second time, Balaam said to the messengers, “Though Balak were to give me his house full of silver and gold, I could not go beyond the word of the Lord my God, to do less or more (Num. 22:18).”  This fortune teller, a Gentile, I tell you, recognized the power and authority of the one that spoke to him in his heart and was working in that invisible space!

God’s invisible work benefits us

Eventually, Balaam went and stood in person before Balaak to deliver to Balaak the word that the Lord had put in his mouth.  Balaam said to the one that desired to curse the children of Israel, “How shall I curse whom God has not cursed?  And how shall I denounce whom the Lord has not denounced (Num. 23:8)?  Who can count the dust of Jacob, or number one-fourth of Israel?  Let me die the death of the righteous, and my end be like this (Num. 23:10)!”

You see, the children of Israel were blessed and highly favored and nobody could move against them with the Lord working on their behalf!  This reminds me of Job in that the devil could not move against Job unless the Lord allowed him to do so; the Lord had a hedge about Job (Job 1:8-11).  This also reminds me of the religious leaders that wanted to put an end to the spreading of the gospel but Gamiel raised up and said to them that nobody can overthrow the work of God (Acts 5:33-39).

Now, Balaak did not like what he had heard in person from Balaam.  We will see that he exclaimed, “What have you done to me?  I took you to curse my enemies, and look, you have blessed them bountifully (Num. 23:11)!”  Yes, people may curse you and our spiritual enemy may move in the dark but we are in the hands of God and nobody can take us out of His mighty hands (John 10:27-28)!

God Is at Work Today

God, we should understand by now, is the sovereign ruler over the visible and the invisible.  As Paul wrote, “For by Him (God) all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers.  All things were created through Him and for Him (Col. 1:16).”

You better believe it today, the Lord still watches over and rules over the visible and the invisible; all things are under His control.  The Lord, I want you to understand, works in multiple aspects of all of our lives, even when we happen to think that He is not there and is at work.

God’s work comes to light

Though we may not see nor recognize God’s invisible work right away, we should know that His works eventually do come to light and can be perceived by us.  To the Romans, Paul wrote, “For since the creation of the world His (God’s) invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by things that are made (His works), even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse (Rom. 1:20).”

There is no excuse for us to ever doubt that the Lord is working on our behalf because we have proof through the lives we have lived thus far.  So, I want you to know today that God is at work and that there is a work that the Lord is doing for you today even though you may not see or recognize it.

As we have seen today, there are times when God is at work and we can perceive His work right away.  Yet, several times God is at work for us and we are unaware of this, but, we know that God is moving to our benefit; He is shielding and protecting us from our enemies and is making away for us.  By now, we should know that God’s got our back!

Through the prophet Isaiah, the Lord declared that He is always doing something new for us and the new thing He is doing will spring forth (Is. 43:19).  Now, we may not see the Lord working on that new thing for us today but rest assured that God is at work on it.  Rest assured today that when the Lord’s blessing springs forth, you will know it and you will be blessed and victorious!


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