281 Tales of the Unexpected


In my Sermon today entitled “Tales of the Unexpected”

I want to talk with you about a God who is a Master of the unexpected, the unimagined, the unusual and the unlikely.

In fact, the more I have thought about it, it seems to me that God takes a peculiar delight in doing things exactly the opposite way to the expected norm.


In the first place let us ponder

The Unexpected God of the Scriptures

For example, when God asked Noah to build an Ark, we read that this was initially “ for the saving, the salvation of Noah’s Household – to save Noah’s Family” Hebrews 11:7.   One might ask “why did God not simply lift Noah, his wife, his three sons and their wives, – lift them up out of this world like he did with Enoch and with Elijah?”   “Why did God not save them this way – and why did he not simply recreate the animal kingdom after the flood waters had gone down?”   These and many other questions and queries dog the mind of the intellectual enquirer in an attempt to understand the unexpected and unusual ways of God.


Think too of the unexpected methods enforced by God and employed by Joshua to march around the city of Jericho in an attempt to topple it or take it, instead of attacking it head on?   Who in their right mind would march around a city and expect victory without drawing a sword or firing a shot?

Think too of Gods encounter with Moses at the burning bush.

Why did God speak from a flaming fire, why did he not just speak to Moses as he spoke with Abraham, or with Samuel, or with David …. Why use a burning bush in the desert?

If you are looking for “Tales of the Unexpected” then there is no better place in all the world to find them than in the pages of your Bible. God delights in the unexpected – in fact it is there that you are most likely to encounter him for yourself.


Consider then for a moment the Unexpected choice God made in “calling” Saul of Tarsus in Acts chapter Nine – calling this man to ministry and discipleship and then into leadership.

God chooses this man, we know him now as Paul, the most unlikely, the most unexpected of all candidates, in fact, as we know from earlier scriptures,   he was persecuting the Church and consenting to the killing of the Christians every day.   It would be like God choosing Hitler to “baby-sit” a family of Jewish children? The very idea is beyond our natural comprehension and reason; but – our God is a God of the Unexpected!


Similarly, I have often asked myself why Jesus choose Judas to be one of the 12 disciples knowing full well that the man was a thief, and then why on earth did he appoint him to look after their finances?

But then ask yourself what is Jesus without Judas.   Where would you be without those who have betrayed you, where would you be without those who have let you down? It was all

a “set up” because our God is a God of the Unexpected.


Do you remember how Jesus’ close Friend Lazarus was sick and near to death and his sisters, Mary & Martha, – they sent for Jesus to come and heal their brother.   It was the expected thing, but Jesus did the unexpected.   Not until the man was dead four days and stinking, did the Lord actually show up?   It seems to me that even though God knows what we expect of him, he takes delight in answering our prayers and petitions in the most unexpected ways.   Lazarus was raised from the dead back to life again. It was a great miracle and of that there was no doubt in anyone’s mind, but the point is made in it all, that God will be God whether we like it or not, and whether we approve of it or not.   God cannot be ordered about – God is no ones servant!


This is the Unexpected God of the Scriptures.

In the second place let us consider …

The unexpected God of the Stable.

The events depicting the Birth of Jesus and recorded for us in the Gospels are amongst the most unexpected revelations in all of the Scriptures.   We know of course from the Old Testament prophesies that the Messiah was coming, and that He would eventually be King of an everlasting kingdom.   We know too that “the government will be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. (and) of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, …” Isaiah 9:7-8.


So here was the Prince from Heaven, here was God in the Flesh, here was the Son of God, the Son of Man, the Wonderful Counsellor, the Prince of Peace and yet was there any more unexpected place on earth for Mary to give birth to the child?

One might have expected the birth to have taken place in a great Palace, or a stoutly constructed Castle, in an ancient Monastery or at the very least – in a luxury five star hotel room, but NO!

Unexpectedly, Unusually, and Unlikely he was laid in a manger in a stable and the only spectators to this world-moving event were a few cattle, or a donkey or two and maybe the hens of the farm yard. Later a few local Shepherds would confirm the story as they too spread the “good news” in the hillsides around Bethlehem.   God, had stepped down from His majesty on high, lowered himself to less than the Angels and wrapped himself in human flesh. Now he appears to the world as a crying struggling infant dependant on the Mother who gave him birth, and milk rags to cover him and keep him warm.

Its unbelievable to most … unless like me, you believe in a

God of the Unexpected!


Think too how this lowly birth was announced to those Shepherds.   It was not given to the great and the good, not to the religious or the pious of the temple or sanctuary. Neither was it announced around the world on “twitter” or “face-book” and it was not beamed via satellite to the darkest and distant jungles of Africa.   It was a remarkable event that would most certainly change the whole world, both then and since, yet God unexpectedly sent just a few of Heavens choristers to announce it to a few of Bethlehem’s shepherds.   No great media circus

just a great ministry chorus. Its another “Tale of the Unexpected”!


So then we have seen that

This is the Unexpected God of the Scriptures.

And The unexpected God of the Stable.

Now in the Third place let us consider…

The unexpected God of the Skies.


In the First Chapter of the Book of the Acts of the Apostles, Jesus takes leave of the Disciples and commissions them to “Go and Preach the Gospel to the world.” v8   and then we read in verse 9 that …“when he (Jesus) had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight.

v10 And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel;

v11 Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven“.


A few weeks ago, I preached a sermon about The Sunset

a reminder to us on that occasion that God is a God of the Skies.

The Sunset is something God does all by himself. He does not need help from any man or any machinery and has been placing a sunset in the western skies now for nigh on 6000 years.

Here in Acts 1:v9 Jesus also proves that he is Lord of the Skies.

It is important to realize that here he is not raptured, nor is he caught away as was Enoch and Elijah, he simply begins to ascend, – rise into the sky in front of his followers.   Soon he is as high as a house, then as high as the tallest tree, then he is level with the mountain tops, and soon he is lost to the clouds… and they can see him no more.   Now that’s an Unexpected Exit if ever you saw one!   The sceptics ask, “what does he do about oxygen”?   Listen, if he created the very air we breath, and he did, then why do you imagine that he could not breath at high altitude. He’s the God of the unexpected.


Do you realize that Hydrogen and Oxygen are both very explosive substances?   Use the wrong chemical formula or the wrong chemical balance and you won’t be around long enough to ask what happened!   Yet God put both Hydrogen and Oxygen together in such an amazing unexpected way that they would not explode, and be so safe that a child can drink it, and he called it water!   But one day, when God upsets the balance, the Book, the Bible says, the whole earth will melt and be folded up like a scroll. Rev 6:14 & Isa 34:4.   He is still Lord of the Skies.
But notice in Acts 1v 10 that “two men stood by them in white apparel; (Obviously Angels)

v11 Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven“.

The Apostle Paul puts it this way in 1 Thess 4:16-17

“ For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first:   Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord“.   In 1 Corinthians 15:52 he also says it will happen unexpectedly, “In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye,…”


One of these days the “Unexpected God of the Skies” will part the clouds again and come down.   Jesus himself said that at that time things would be carrying on as normal … “there shall be two men in one bed; the one shall be taken, and the other shall be left. Two women shall be grinding together; the one shall be taken, and the other left. Two men shall be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left.”

Luke 17:34-36

The Unexpected God of the Skies is coming back – and make

no mistake about it, it will be at the most unexpected hour!


So then we have seen that

This is the Unexpected God of the Scriptures.

And The unexpected God of the Stable.

And The unexpected God of the Skies.

Finally let us acknowledge

The unexpected God of the Saved


The apostle Paul says in Romans 8:29

“For whom he (that is God) did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren“.

David the Psalmist also makes reference to this truth that God knew us long before we were born … and says in

Psalm 22:10 “I was cast upon thee from the womb: thou art my God from my mother’s belly.” and again in

Psalm 71:6 “By thee have I been holden up from the womb: thou art he that took me out of my mother’s bowels: my praise shall be continually of thee“.   Isaiah’s prophesy also says in …

Isaiah 44:24 “Thus saith the LORD, thy redeemer, and he that formed thee from the womb, I am the LORD that maketh all things; that stretcheth forth the heavens alone; that spreadeth abroad the earth by myself;”


The point I am making is that this Unexpected God of the Saved, is a God who knew and predestined the Saved long before they were saved. But just because you are saved and predisposed to a calling and a future in Gods plan, does not necessarily mean that there will not be many unexpected things in that plan for you – BUT, “if God be for you who can be against you”?

In spite of the many unexpected things that happen to me, God is still my God and all things, even the bad unexpected as well as the good unexpected, all things are working together – working for my good and for Gods glory. The disciples did not choose Paul to join their ranks, but God chose Paul.   The old Father Jesse did not pick youngest son David nor present him to Samuel for the Kingly anointing, but God chose David.   His brothers put Joseph down a well, and Potiphar put Joseph in a prison for a crime he did not commit, but God made Joseph Prime Minister in Egypt against all the odds.   God delights in taking the most unlikely, the most unusual the most unexpected person and fitting them to the task.   If you didn’t fit in, it was God that made you a miss-fit! If you were betrayed, it was God that allowed it, if they left you, God made them leave you, if you lost it all, then God took it all – God often has to do the unexpected to get us to do the expected.   Through your tests God gave you a testimony, through your trials God made you triumphant.   Like the Potter at the wheel, sometimes God has

to break the vessel to make the vessel.


Paul writes: “For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty;” 1 Corinthians 1: 26-27   This is the Unexpected God of the Saved!


If you look through the pages of your Bible you will discover as I have that without exception, “Gods mighty men were first of all Gods flighty men“. DHG God had to take the double-mindedness, the rebellion, the selfishness, the pride, the weaknesses, the desires – God had to take all of the old man, and the old nature and transform them, every last one of them.   It will be no different for you and me. If we are to achieve a destiny that “counts with God” then there must be the Cross before the Crown. That’s the way, Gods way!

If it was good enough for Jesus, then it must be good enough

for you and me.


We must learn to trust completely in this Unexpected God of the Saved.   I can guarantee you that your path to greatness and glory in God will not be what you expect. By all means EXPECT to receive from God.   (There is no getting apart from it)   Yet do not expect to receive from him in natural or normal fashion. Remember God is a God of the Unexpected, the Unusual, the Unlikely and the Unimagined.


I have discovered myself that when I am praying about a thing and rightly expecting Gods answer, I sometimes try to imagine how it will all pan out.   Let me say it here and now – such an exercise is pure folly.   It seems to me that even if I do work it all out and am fully persuaded about how God will show up, – that just to amaze me, God will then do it

some other way – (just to prove that He is GOD).


God is not restricted to answering your prayers and mine in one or two ways, to giving us our break-through in one or two miracles, … but in 10,000 different ways God can answer your prayers – and then some.   God can bring the most unlikely person to help you. Open up the most unusual opportunity, create in you the most unimaginable idea to help, or step in at the most unexpected time.   It would be nice if God answered all your prayers in Church with a word of wisdom from the Pastor or Preacher, but sometime he will answer that prayer in the words of a child who trips over you in the street.   With just one phone-call, just one letter, just one contact, just one encounter, just one text message, just one look, God can do the unexpected for the Saved.




Paul and Silas found themselves in a Prison for Preaching the Gospel.   We read the story in Acts chapter 16 earlier in today’s Service.   At midnight when they were at their lowest ebb, when everything looked dark and dismal both naturally and spiritually, then they decided to “sing”?   They clearly understood the power of praise to change their feelings. They were rejoicing in the Lord and singing so enthusiastically that all the prisoners heard them. v25.


But what I want you to consider today is that God heard them too!   The fragrance of their praise had reached the throne of Heaven and God decided to join them right there and then.

They had no idea that God was on his way to “inhabit their praises”.   Suddenly and Unexpectedly there was an earthquake which shook the very foundations. The doors opened, miraculously the fetters fell off all hands and feet, locked doors opened of their own accord, and freedom reigned.   There was Salvation that night in the prison, God turned the place around, and Paul and Silas got the “Break-through” that they had prayed for.   But one little “tale of the unexpected” remains; for in spite of the fact that all the prisoners were miraculously set free, not one of them made a run for it?   The pains and problems of their incarceration evaporated in the presence of God; and clearly the Jailor didn’t expect that!


These are all Biblical “Tales of the Unexpected” and I am here today to let you know that God has an unexpected miracle in store for you too – so cheer up, sing up, look up, … it’s due anytime.


God Bless you