Category Archives: God’s Sovereignty

Be Still and Know that He is God

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It is over… finally. The marathon of the campaigns and election has come to an end. As I write this, I think of my family, church family, friends, and acquaintances. There is a mixture and wide range of emotions going on. Sadness, joy, anger, relief, worry and fear, expectancy, unsettledness, hope, doubt, smugness, disgust, and combinations of all of them. I have no idea what our future holds. But I do know that yesterday’s election was not the solution to all of our problems or the end of all of our hopes and dreams, regardless of how we now view the situation.

“Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!” Psalm 46:10

God is on His throne. Throughout the insanity of the past year or two, God has not been wringing His hands, awaiting the results of our American elections. He was not troubled as to whether the outcome would derail or thwart His eternal plans. His ability was, and is, never limited by what a group of fickle, often self-serving, human beings decide to do. He uses all things and all circumstances to bring about His purposes and ultimate good for those who love Him (Romans 8:28). God purposes will be accomplished – period. We may not understand the means or the journey used to achieve His ultimate goals. But we can believe that He knows what He is doing and, if we trust in Him, that He will work things out for our good and His glory.

God is not a Republican, Democrat, or any other political affiliation. I know that there are some of you who may think that a particular political party is endorsed by God Himself. I do not believe it. Let’s just take to two primary political parties as examples. There are policies or beliefs within both party platforms that reflect moral principles revealed in the Bible. There are also current stances or views within these two parties that do not reflect biblical principles, and, in some cases, are in direct opposition to biblical teaching. I am not going to get into specifics, but both parties fall short of biblical standards when held to God’s standards for righteousness, justice, showing kindness, and walking humbly before God (Micah 6:8). Neither party is exempt. Neither party is holy. Neither party holds the true and definitive solutions for the needs of this nation. And God’s requirements go far beyond and supersede those of any political party.

God, in Christ, is our only true hope. The ultimate solutions for what our nation and the world needs will never come through a political movement or government. Yes, God may, and does, use these means to accomplish some of His purposes. However, true change will only come in this nation when hearts change. When God reigns in our hearts, it is only then that our thoughts, actions, and words take on a different tone and purpose. Even when there is disagreement, our actions are governed by our love for God and our concern and compassion for our neighbor. Without this, it degenerates into what we had during the recent campaign. We are left with the fear and disdain that was, as is still, being expressed. Yes, we need to engage the political process to implement change, where possible. But our main focus, as Christians, should be to share the gospel and introduce people to Jesus Christ. Only He can truly change the heart and the direction of someone’s life.

Be still, and know that He is God. We need to take a step back, catch our breath, and we need to trust in God. We need to view things from the perspective of God’s sovereign, loving care for all that He has created. Even if things don’t go our way and the world keeps changing, often for the worse, God still has this world in His hands. No matter the circumstance or challenges this life brings, our lives are still in His hands. We can trust Him. He is on His throne. Trust and pray and seek His face. Delight in Him. Only God will always have our best in mind. We cannot say that about anyone else, any system, or institution, because they are all fallible. Only God is forever true and forever faithful to be Who He says He is and to do what He says He will do.

Throughout the centuries, those who have followed God have lived through all kinds of differing circumstances. Some enjoyed times of peace, but many also endured times of trial and suffering under a variety of unfavorable societal environments and governmental systems and reigns. Through it all, God was still with them and used them to proclaim His truth, and He used them in the lives of people and nations for change and transformation. We need to always be ready to go and do what God calls us to do. But in our hearts, we need to be still, and trust Him. We need to be still, and rest in our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. We need to be still and know that He is God.

Together for His glory…

I Just Don’t Have That Much Faith

I was sitting in the drive-thru lane at a fast food place today, when something caught my eye. Or I should say caught my ear. I had my car window down and I could hear a bird chirping. So, I starting looking around and finally saw the bird, sitting atop the menu sign, chirping away. After a moment, he flew away, swerving this way and that, until he was out my sight. Maybe, after viewing the menu, he realized no one should really be eating this stuff, and headed off somewhere else to look for food. Unfortunately, for the rest of us in line, we did not come to that conclusion.

But as I watched the bird, I once again was amazed at the wonder of God’s creation. By just watching a simple bird, there are so many facets of its existence that are astonishing. Watching them fly, if we really stop to observe it, is a marvel to behold. There are so many things that have to be exactly right for that to happen. Once again, it brought to mind what Scripture says:

“The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork. Day to day pours out speech, and night to night reveals knowledge. There is no speech, nor are there words, whose voice is not heard.” Psalm 19:1-3  “For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.” Romans 1:19-20

I have said this before, and will say it again. I am not a scientist. I know scientists, but I am not one. I have listened to scientists who deny the existence of God and the purposeful design of creation. I have listened to scientists who acknowledge the existence of God and His intentional creation of the universe and everything in it. None of them witnessed the beginning of life in the universe. Therefore, all of them have to take what they observe, both current and the remains of previous life, and make a determination or hypothesis about how it all came to be.

For those who deny the existence of God, I am not going to argue with you. You will use a lot of big words that I don’t understand. But I have listened to your arguments, and I don’t buy it. I can’t buy it. The more you talk, the more absurd it sounds to me. Your arguments against purposeful creation often have the opposite impact on me. The longer you speak, the more incomprehensibly impossible it seems that it could have taken place in the way that you propose. I just don’t have that much faith. You may say that I am mixing in religion or faith with science. Well, my friends, I say you are doing the exact same thing. And I think it takes far more faith to believe there is no God, than to say that no one is responsible for the universe in which we live.

Everything I see screams, “God, God, GOD!” I see design. I see purposefulness. I see care and provision. I see the fingerprints of a Creator and, if you are honest, I think you see it too. Or, at least, you once did. Maybe you have hardened your heart to the point where you can no longer see it. I pray that this is not the case.

For those who hold on in faith to the One Who designed and created the entire universe and each one of you, your trust and hope is not unfounded. Take refuge in the One Who cared so much for those He created, that He sent His Son to pay the penalty of our rebellion, in order to receive all who would come to Him in faith and trust.

As I close, I would like to quote from one of my favorite books, The Silver Chair by C.S. Lewis. The quote is from Puddleglum, who is one of my all-time favorite characters in a book. This quote takes place when Puddleglum and the children, from our world, are captured by the queen of the Underworld. She is trying to convince them that there is no such place as the Overworld and the land of Narnia.

“One word, Ma’am,” he said, coming back from the fire; limping, because of the pain. “One word. All you’ve been saying is quite right, I shouldn’t wonder. I’m a chap who always liked to know the worst and then put the best face I can on it. So I won’t deny any of what you said. But there’s one more thing to be said, even so. Suppose we have only dreamed, or made up, all those things – trees and grass and sun and moon and stars and Aslan himself. Suppose we have. Then all I can say is that, in that case, the made-up things seem a good deal more important than the real ones. Suppose this black pit of a kingdom of yours is the only world. Well, it strikes me as a pretty poor one. And that’s a funny thing, when you come to think of it. We’re just babies making up a game, if you’re right. But four babies playing a game can make a play-world which licks your real world hollow. That’s why I’m going to stand by the play world. I’m on Aslan’s side even if there isn’t any Aslan to lead it. I’m going to live as like a Narnian as I can even if there isn’t any Narnia. So, thanking you kindly for our supper, if these two gentlemen and the young lady are ready, we’re leaving your court at once and setting out in the dark to spend our lives looking for Overland. Not that our lives will be very long, I should think; but that’s a small loss if the world’s as dull a place as you say.” C.S. Lewis, The Silver Chair

And unlike the characters in The Silver Chair, who were trapped in the Underworld of darkness, we live with God’s creation in full sight. And it speaks of His glory and character, His eternal power and divine nature. And the more that science uncovers, the more it declares this truth. The universe declares that it has a Creator, and He is the Almighty God, regardless of what many will say. And this truth is far more appealing than the unintentional and purposeless view of the existence of the universe that many hold to be true.

Together for His glory…

When God’s Footprints Are Missing

I have seen them for years. I am sure that many of you have as well. These are the pictures with the footprints in the sand, along with the accompanying poem. It speaks of looking back on the path that we have walked in life and seeing one or two sets of footprints in the sand, depending on the event or season of life. As the poem or story goes, when there are two sets of prints, it is when the Lord is walking beside us. When there is only one set, it explains that this is when the Lord is carrying us.

There is actually a passage in Scripture that speaks of the footprints of the Lord. However, the message is not the same as in the story above. It does speak of missing footprints. The difference, though, is that it is the Lord’s footprints that are missing.

It comes at the end of Psalm 77, which has a theme of seeking the Lord in the day of trouble. The Psalmist, Asaph, speaks of being weary and troubled. However, in places throughout the Psalm, he also remembers the faithfulness and works of the Lord. And towards the end, Asaph recalls the work of the Lord in delivering the nation of Israel from Egypt and the pharaoh at the Red Sea.

“Your way was through the sea, your path through the great waters; yet your footprints were unseen. You led your people like a flock by the hand of Moses and Aaron.” Psalm 77:19-20. A couple of things stand out to me in this passage.

God’s path was through the sea. God knew what His plan was for His people. They did not understand it. They were crying out to God and blaming Moses for bringing them to death’s door. But God had things under control, and His plan was to lead His people through the sea and bring them safely to the other side. In fact, God said to Moses, “Why do you cry to me? Tell the people of Israel to go forward. Lift up your staff, and stretch out your hand over the sea and divide it, that the people of Israel may go through the sea on dry ground.” Exodus 14:15-16. It was as if God said, “What are you waiting for? Let’s get going.”

God’s footprints were unseen, but He was leading His people. Moses, Aaron, and the people did not see God leading them through the sea on dry land. There were no footprints in the sand or sea floor. But the presence of God was unmistakable. The traveled through the sea on dry ground. The water stood up like a wall on either side of them as they traveled through. As soon as they passed through, the water came crashing back to where it had been before, wiping out their enemies and oppressors. God’s footprints were unseen, but He was there with His people – leading, providing for, and protecting them.

We may not always see God’s footprints. We may sometimes have trouble seeing what God is doing. Obstacles and trials can press in on us from every side, making it hard to focus and remember the promises of God. Yet, He calls for us to continue walking in obedience, even when the way is unclear. We can do this with confidence, even if we don’t know what we are walking into, because God is with us.

God has promised that He will always be with His people. He will hear us when we cry out to Him. He is with us in times of joy and in times of suffering and trial. We need to remember His Word and His promises. We need to remember how He has worked in our lives so many times before. We need to recall the work He has done throughout history. The evidence of the presence of God is all around us. We only need to open our eyes to see it. He is there, even when He does not leave any footprints.

Together for His glory…

The Foundation of Trust

Over the past several years, I have heard many songs by various Christian artists that deal with the topic of trials and suffering. Many of these songs spring from passages that deal with suffering and the issue of evil and hardship and how God relates to those situations. In some biblical passages, we are allowed to see the outcome and purpose behind the suffering. In others, we are not. And for the people in those situations, and for us, we are called to trust in God.

In some of these recent songs, though, the songwriter does something that is a little different. They seem to almost invite suffering. Within the context of the song, it is usually within the purpose of bringing greater glory to God, so it seems their heart is the right place. However, it kind of comes across to me like they are saying, “Bring it on, God!”

I don’t know about you, but this makes me a little nervous. I think life has enough hardship and sorrow without asking for more. Maybe I am a wimp, but I can’t see myself ever praying, “Bring on the suffering, God.” I do want God to be glorified in my life. I do want God’s best for me and those I love. But God makes me a little nervous. His ways are often mysterious and His ways are not my ways. The ways of God can make us tremble. And it is good to have a healthy fear of the Lord, as long as it is balanced along with fullness of Who God is.

My wife and I were talking about this topic this morning. On Sunday, we sang a Chris Tomlin’s song that contains the line, “God, whatever comes my way, I will trust You.” She mentioned that this is a hard phrase to say. She is right. It’s hard to sing it when there is hardship in your life that you are trying to understand. It is hard to say, when you know that life can bring the unexpected and unwelcomed. It is hard to sing it when You are afraid. However, as she and I discussed, we always need to remember this within the context of Who God is. And even with this song, the line is within the context of the earlier part of the song:

Sovereign in the mountain air
Sovereign on the ocean floor
With me in the calm
With me in the storm
Sovereign in my greatest joy
Sovereign in my deepest cry
With me in the dark
With me at the dawn

 In Your everlasting arms
All the pieces of my life
From beginning to the end I can trust You
In Your never-failing love
You work everything for good
God whatever comes my way I will trust You

“Sovereign” by Chris Tomlin | Jason Ingram | Jonas Myrin | Martin Chalk | Matt Redman. © 2012 Said And Done Music; A Thousand Generations Publishing; sixsteps Music; Sixsteps Songs; worshiptogether.com songs; Worship Together Music; Thankyou Music; Sony/ATV Timber Publishing; Open Hands Music; SHOUT! Music Publishing.

Why can we trust God with whatever comes our way? Because He is sovereign. He is with us. He will never leave us. He is with us in joy and sorrow, when it is light and when it is dark. God holds us in His everlasting arms. He loves us with a never failing love. And He works in all of our circumstances to bring forth an ultimate good, even through suffering.

“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28

“What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died – more than that, who was raised – who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?” Romans 8:31-35

The answers are clear: No one or nothing can separate us from the love of God. And He has promised that He will work all things for the good of those who love Him. “No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:37-39

You see, if being able to say, “I trust You,” in whatever comes my way was solely based on my ability to summon up the courage and “have enough faith,” it would be pointless. I am weak and don’t feel very courageous at times. However, if my trust is founded in the fullness of the character of my God, then I am saying, “Based on Who You have revealed Yourself to be, I will trust You.” And for me, wrapped up in my confession of “I will trust You,” is “help me to trust You.” As the father who had come to Jesus exclaimed, “I believe; help my unbelief.” Mark 9:24

So, I may not understand all of Who God is or what He is doing, but if my trust is based on His character and promises, I have a foundation to rest upon. My trust is not based in outcomes, appearances, circumstances, people, or things. My trust is based on the unchanging character of God, His unfailing love, and His promises to work all things for the good of those who love Him. We trust and we pray for more faith. We remind ourselves and each other of the unfailing love of God, Who cares and provides, and suffers with His children.

Together for His glory…

The Sacrifice of the Life of Worship

And he [Jesus] said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.” (Luke 9:23-24 ESV)

Control. We like to have it. It gives us security and pleasure. We think we have to possess it in order to have happiness and accomplish the things we want in this world. The world itself tells us that we need it. And yet, Jesus tells us that the only way to truly live is to relinquish it. There is a lot packed into those two sentences from Jesus.

Deny myself. This means that I give up ultimate control of my life to Christ. It is far more than making resolutions or giving up certain things a few times a year. It is more than trying to be a good person and follow the teachings of Jesus. This is a complete turning over of my life to God. It is yielding my wants, desires, and dreams to the perfect plan of the sovereign God.

Take up my cross. Taking up my cross implies that I must die. I must die to my will for my life, and take hold of God’s will for my life, my family, my church, my community, and my world. I must be willing to face the rejection that comes with identifying with Jesus Christ.

Follow Jesus. I must follow Jesus wherever He leads. During His earthly life, Jesus’ path often led Him into suffering and sacrifice. As His follower, I must expect that my path will lead there as well. Today, if I truly follow Jesus, the world will not stand up and cheer. If I truly follow Jesus, I will sacrifice many things in this life.

Losing my life to save it. As I deny myself, take up my cross, and follow Jesus, I will find that I have lost nothing. In losing my life, I will actually save it. I may lose temporary, earthly things that the world clamors after, but I will gain the riches of eternity. In denying myself, yielding control of my life to God, I actually find freedom and joy in the richness and wonders of God. In taking up my cross, I might lose the favor and rewards this world has to offer, but I gain the favor and rewards of God Himself. And in following Jesus, while I may experience suffering and loss of worldly gain, I gain Christ and become co-heirs with Him.

“Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own.” (Philippians 3:12 ESV) As the apostle Paul says in this verse, I have not yet arrived. I have a long way to go. I want to be abandoned to God, but I get in my own way and I let other things turn my gaze away from the greater purposes and glory of God.

This past Sunday, our pastor spoke from the book of Malachi. It was a call to abandon mediocre living in every area of our lives. My selfish desires and fixation on temporary things are what keep me from living beyond the mediocre and experiencing the wonder of being in the center of God’s will. This is because moving from mediocre to extraordinary requires me to lose my life. It means giving up my rights to my time, my possessions, my money, and my life. It means putting it all at feet of God.

This is the sacrifice of the life of worship. It is yielding, dying, and suffering loss. And in turn, it is freedom, living, and gaining the riches of eternity.  In losing my life, I find it, in abundance from the very hand of God, through Jesus Christ. For all of the promises of God are fulfilled in Christ (2 Corinthians 1:20).

“So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.” (2 Corinthians 4:16-18 ESV)

Together for His glory…