Summary: Don't be discouraged; instead, trust God to answer your prayers and accomplish His plan in ways far beyond what you or I could ever imagine.
No Ordinary God (Daniel 9:20-27)
One of the best Super Bowl ads in recent years was a Volkswagen commercial in 2011 that featured a child dressed in a Darth Vader costume, attempting to use "the force" around the house. Take a look at it (show Vader Volkswagen Video).
With the familiar Star Wars music associated with Darth Vader playing in the background, the boy marches down the hallway and then raises his hands dramatically toward a dryer in the utility room—nothing happens.
Next the young Darth points his hands at the family dog lying on the floor. The dog looks up quizzically—but again nothing happens.
Darth does not give up. Now in the bedroom, he raises his hands forcefully toward a doll seated on the bed. The doll stares back blankly without budging an inch. Darth's arms drop to his sides in frustration, and he slumps in discouragement.
In the kitchen, still in costume, he now stands dejectedly at the counter with his black-helmeted head on his hand. Then his father pulls into the driveway, and Darth runs out to the car as his father walks into the house. He hasn't given up! One more time he raises his hands and points them dramatically at the auto. He waits, hands upraised. Suddenly the car's yellow turn signals light up and the engine starts!
The startled child stumbles backward. We see that the playful father had started the car from the kitchen using a push-button ignition. The amazed child whirls to look toward the house, then back again toward the car. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v= R55e-uHQna0; www.PreachingToday.com)
Jesus said, “Apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5), but “With God all things are possible” (Mark 10:27). Just like that little boy, there is not much that we can do on our own, except get discouraged and look silly; but as we depend on our Heavenly Father, there is no limit to what He can do through us.
In fact, He delights in doing “abundantly beyond all that we could ask or even think” (Ephesians 3:20). So if you’re discouraged this morning, because it looks like your efforts are failing, I invite you to turn with me to Daniel 9, Daniel 9, where we see what God wants to do for those who depend on Him. Daniel has just called on God in prayer. He is desperate for God to act on behalf of his nation, and this is how God answers. Daniel 9, starting at verse 20. Daniel says…
Daniel 9:20-21 While I was speaking and praying, confessing my sin and the sin of my people Israel and making my request to the LORD my God for his holy hill— while I was still in prayer, Gabriel, the man I had seen in the earlier vision, came to me in swift flight about the time of the evening sacrifice. (NIV)
This is the same Gabriel that comes to Mary 500 years later to announce the birth of Messiah. He is an archangel, and it seems that whenever Gabriel shows up, he’s got life-changing, earth-altering news to share.
Daniel 9:22-24 He instructed me and said to me, “Daniel, I have now come to give you insight and understanding. As soon as you began to pray, an answer was given, which I have come to tell you, for you are highly esteemed. Therefore, consider the message and understand the vision: “Seventy ‘sevens’ are decreed for your people and your holy city to finish transgression, to put an end to sin, to atone for wickedness, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy and to anoint the most holy. (NIV)
Now, when Daniel was praying for his nation, the nation of Judah, he was thinking about its immediate future. They were 67 years into a 70 year Babylonian captivity, and Daniel is desperate for God to keep His Word and rescue them from that captivity in three short years. Daniel is looking for a short-term solution to their immediate problems, but God is looking more than 490 years into the future! “Seventy sevens” is 490; and in the context, God is talking about 490 years!
More than that, Daniel is praying for Judah’s rescue from Babylonian captivity, while God wants to “put an end to [all] sin and “bring in everlasting righteousness”! God wants to do for Daniel much more than what he’s asking for.
God wants to go “abundantly beyond” Daniel’s prayer request, and that’s what God wants to do for His people today. When we’re focused on short-term solutions to immediate problems, God wants to provide the long-term solution to all our problems. So if you’re discouraged today…
TRUST GOD TO ANSWER YOUR PRAYERS BEYOND ANYTHING YOU COULD EVER IMAGINE.
Depend on the Lord to go way above your immediate concerns to addressing the ultimate issues of your life. Rely on your Heavenly Father to care for you in ways far more than what you think you need right now.