Why I Believe – Psalm 7

Throughout David’s ordeals on his way to becoming king, I can’t imagine the extent of the feelings he battled. The fear for his life from his enemies; the anger towards his father-in-law’s behavior; the frustration of those who twisted Saul’s ear with deceptions against David; the deep resentment over the betrayal of Saul after all David did for the kingdom of Israel; the loneliness and exhaustion from fleeing danger across the country all on his own. As faithful a man as David was, I can only assume in his human condition he fought these things the same way I imagine many of us would. I imagine most would people nowadays may feel a thirst for justice or desire for revenge in David’s shoes.

Psalm 7 is an incredible song of deliverance from these captive chains of revenge. David demonstrates an incredible surrender of his own accord to God’s judgement; as he states in verse 8, “The Lord judges the peoples; judge me, O Lord, according to my righteousness and according to the integrity that is in me.” God will shield the righteous from destruction, and will rightly punish those who do Him wrong and refuse to repent. David could totally get mad and go all Goliath round 2 against those chasing him and take his rightful throne by force. But even as death chases him, he knows his opinion of who is in the right and wrong is purely subjective, and instead sings for the Lord to judge according to His standards, even if it ends with David punished for wrongdoings of his own.

The freedom from hatred within the heart, the recognition of an authority over right and wrong beyonds our capabilities and judgement, the practicing of God’s control over our lives; David’s words speak to reasons my own faith is essential. When the world feels so saturated with evil, full of men only after the desires of their own selfish hearts, my belief in God’s continued sovereignty and righteous judgement calms my heart and assuages my reactions towards these things. In David’s actions and words of mercy towards his pursuers (1 Samuel 24:12-13, 1 Samuel 26:19), I see faith in action. I see the Lord healing the scars borne of our fallen humanity and bringing a righteous calm to a raging storm.

This is one thing I think clearly demonstrates God’s existence and the enacting of His will. I have borne the burden of a fallen human heart myself, and empathize with the feelings David must have felt. To hear him take his burden to the Lord and praise His righteousness and judgement above all else – to experience this lightening of burdens when I likewise bring my own troubles and failures to the Lord – this is more than proof enough for me that God changes the hearts of those who believe. Knowing the condition of our sinful hearts firsthand, I know no one and nothing other than God could possibly put minds at true peace and fill hearts with joyous praise, despite our natural inclinations otherwise. This is part of why I believe: from experiencing firsthand the refuge and deliverance David describes when we right ourselves with God.

Like David in his time of need, we must hold firm against Satan whispering in our ears, encouraging us to overstep our bounds over God’s rights. Jesus said in the Sermon on the Mount “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also (Matthew 5:38-39).” Our culture encourages – and often even celebrates – vengeance and payback against the perpetrators when we are wronged. We as Christians demonstrate our belief  when we defy this and surrender our need for justice to Him – not that we should at all tolerate or accept wicked deeds, but knowing recompense for wickedness extends beyond our human reach. When our actions display our trust in God’s judgement and we relinquish our pursuit to ruin those who wrong us, we defy the way of the world and show faith in the Lord’s deliverance. The world needs a ridiculous love, and I can attest we offer proof of a ridiculously loving God when we trust in Him to right things when we are wronged – if not in this life, then the next. And let us always sing alongside Psalm 7:17: “I will give to the Lord the thanks due to his righteousness, and I will sing praise to the name of the Lord, the Most High.”

A Day of Praise

Merry Christmas! Rejoice! Our Savior is born! Today is a day of jubilee as we celebrate Christ Jesus, true unique Son of God, fully God yet still flesh, being born in Bethlehem many years ago. Today commemorates humanity receiving the greatest gift we could hope for; the prophesies of Christ the Messiah throughout the Old Testament coming to fruition; the realization of God’s plan for our guarantee of salvation. Today is a wonderful day of joy and triumph, and I hope you all enjoy this time of celebration with family & friends, whether together in-person, or over the phone, or just in your hearts.

Now that Jesus is born, how could we properly express our excitement? Luke 2 tells of many reactions to this great and glorious news of our living Savior. Mary was filled with thoughtfulness and thankfulness for a truly miraculous gift, in deep adoration and love of the Lord’s gift to her. The shepherds spread this news all over in awe of a declaration the likes of which they’ve never seen. Later, Simeon, waiting to fulfill his life’s last purpose of welcoming Christ, praised God for His deliverance of salvation and excitedly sharing the amazing plans he knew God had in store for this baby. And Anna, the elderly prophetess widow, immediately lovingly started telling all around her of God’s works immediately upon seeing Jesus for herself.

Just as each of us are unique individuals, our manifestations of praise and worship in times of closeness with the Lord are deeply personal and one-of-a-kind. But all the same, when we share a deeply personal experience with the Lord as all these people did, we can’t help but express our awe at these moments; it’s almost reflexive for us as Christians. Christmas Day is more than just a day to spend with family and share presents: it is a day to experience the closeness and blessings of a God who would send His own son to die in our stead. It’s a time to reflect upon every little gift God’s bestowed upon you in the last year, and how they’ve prepared your heart to receive Him today. It is a day to focus on & be moved by God’s works, to treasure His gifts and to share them with the world through our own one-of-a-kind voice and praises.

Merry Christmas to you & your families, and may this be a wonderful praise-filled day of shared adoration for our Savior. I pray that you could all use today to draw close to the Lord and be filled with His Holy Spirit. Among the festivities and jubilation, I pray that we could all experience a deep, loving closeness with the Lord, and that this would be a day of energy and excitement for sharing the good news of Christ’s birth.

Preparing His Way

A big component of Advent is the anticipation of our Savior’s birth; every year as our country engages in the usual festivities, we reflect and wait excitedly for the celebration of Christ’s birth. But whereas the other Gospels begin with the news of Jesus and His birth, Mark’s Gospel is notably more centered on Jesus’s works and services, focusing on Jesus as servant of God. Beginning with Jesus’s baptism and the start of His ministry, Mark writes in Mark 1:1-3 a recollection of the prophet Isaiah’s words in the Old Testament, saying: “Behold, I send my messenger before your face, who will prepare your way, the voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.’”

John the Baptist had been preparing the way for Jesus very literally in this scenario – by preaching of the forgiveness of sins and baptizing the people in Jerusalem, he was preparing the hearts and minds of those around him for Christ’s arrival, when He could share His good news. In living this life of asceticism and committing himself wholly to teaching of the Lord, John prepared his heart to welcome and accept Christ when He was ready to appear.

In this season of anticipation, Mark focuses on this as a call to action: actively preparing for the Lord by clearing His way. We’re called to prepare the way for Christ’s return, to make His way as easy and clear as possible for His second arrival, just as John cleared the way for His first. There is much that needs done both within our hearts and shared with the world around us before Christ comes. Preparing His way and making His path straight is something we can all actively focus on this Advent season. By living in His word always (Psalm 1:1-3), continually diving into His word (Psalm 25:4-5), and sharing His word with all the world in need (Psalm 96 1-6), we help ready ourselves and the people of the earth for His return. By outwardly living the renewed lives Paul describes in Ephesians 4:25-32, we show the world a glimpse of Christ’s transformative love and ready it to accept His return.

This season of reflection and excitement centered around Christ’s return is always encouraging, as we marvel at how Christ’s way was prepared for His birth and ministry many years ago, and how even now we get to do the same for His second coming. The actions you take right now that reflect Christ’s impact on your life are important for demonstrating Christ’s redeeming love to the world, and for preparing the hearts of even more people for His return. Are you acting as a stumbling block for your fellow Christians through unloving words and actions, or are you helping His works, helping to keep His path straight as Isaiah’s words encourage us to be? Do you contribute to Christ’s ministry positively as John 13:35 asks us to? Take a moment of reflection this Friday on what you can do to help prepare the way of the Lord as Mark wrote about, and may these blessings of the Lord shine through you today.

Advent

Now that Thanksgiving has come and gone, the holiday season is finally upon us and the end this rollercoaster of a year is coming close. For those of us who haven’t already done so, it’s time to start preparing for Christmas. Time once again to put up the Christmas tree, pour yourself a cup of eggnog or two (or the whole bottle, in my case), get your gift ideas together, and build up the mental fortitude to get through what will be a very different Christmas season than usual. Among the rigor of what our culture seems to commodify into a more stressful holiday every year, we need more than ever to set aside this time to prepare our hearts for reflecting on the blessings of Christ this season.

Growing up in the Catholic Church, I remember lighting the candles on our Advent wreath every Sunday evening leading up to Christmas and weighing those serene, meaningful moments against the Scriptural theme of that morning’s service. The first candle symbolizing the hope we find in Christ’s promises, the second one our preparation for His return, the third the joy & celebration of His birth, and the fourth, the love we feel for our Savior, who came down to earth from heaven for our sakes. These lessons have reminded me every year since why we do all this at Christmas time, about how all the presents and decorations and festivities are secondary to our living Savior’s appearance.

Advent is a season of centering focus on Christ’s coming to earth, to give due diligence to the miracle of God humbling Himself by being among man; the incredible sacrificial love shown by sending His son to earth to die for our sakes. When Christians began celebrating Advent as a time of remembrance back in the 4th or 5th century, it has been a time of reflecting upon Christ’s promises, for preparing new Christians for baptism and for penitent prayer and dedication to studying the Lord’s word. It was as much an act of anticipation of Christ’s second return as His first, but at some point the focus turned more towards His birth.

Just as equally as His first coming to Earth, in this time, we can prepare for Christ’s second coming. While we traditionally use this time is for celebrating that quiet night many years ago, just as much as it is for readying for that day when Christ will make all things new and we will dwell with Him. It’s about looking back on the promises God has already fulfilled in Christ’s birth, as foretold in Numbers 24:17: “A star will come out of Jacob; a scepter will rise out of Israel.”. But just as we celebrate God’s fulfilled promises, we proclaim our faith in the promises He still will fulfill, like in John 6:39 & 40: “And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day. For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.” Just as we celebrate Jesus’s rise out of Israel, we can focus our hearts on Christ until that last day arrives.

So as we explore Scripture throughout Advent centered on Christ’s birth and prepare our hearts for the Christmas season, think about not only the joy and love Christmas morning symbolizes, but on the hope for salvation Christ’s return will herald, and the preparation our hearts and minds need to remain faithful amidst our exile until that day. Amidst the kindnesses we get ready to show our families and communities, we reflect on the perfect selfless act of Christ’s love, and for His deliverance to come. I pray God’s love fill all of you in this time, and may this Advent season be a thoughtful and penitent one as we use this season to focus on Christ as the center of our lives.

Following the Good Shepherd

There is incredible power in good leadership. A parent firmly adhering to God-centered parenting can make an enormous difference in their child’s growth. A caring manager who listens and acts according to the strengths and best interests of their teams can skyrocket workplace productivity and morale. A politician who listens carefully to all constituents and works tirelessly to compromise on effective policy for all citizens can make any place much more harmonious and prosperous. So what happens when those who try to lead do so selfishly, with what serves them instead of what serves God and His people?

In John 10, when confronted about healing the blind man at the temple, Jesus uses an analogy about sheep listening and following their shepherd by the sound of his voice, and how the sheep safely enter and exit their pasture through the shepherd’s will. Others who seek to deceive and steal these sheep may sneak in, but the sheep will run from those they don’t recognize. He uses this to demonstrate what He has come to do: to be the rightful leader of God’s people how no one else could, in a way the thieves of God’s kingdom could never impede.

The context in which Jesus tells this story of people trying to falsely lead God’s people to destruction makes it a powerfully defiant move. The Pharisees have all gathered here together after Jesus restored the sight of a blind man, solely to judge the work of a man who has done this on the Sabbath in violation of the law. No celebration of this miracle, no thanking God for healing this man of his affliction. Just doubling down on demanding to know his sins and questioning Jesus for invalidating their authority. Then Jesus responds by telling how the sheep will flee from the voice of a stranger, how we may enter heaven only through Him, and those who came before were thieves and robbers.

This declaration that the Pharisees have failed in leading God’s flock is full of tough truth. They used their power and authority simply to enforce their rulings of the written law, rather than listening and obeying God’s commands and leading the people to Him. Unfortunately, Satan finds footing in the hearts and acts of even incredibly intelligent and apparently God-centered men like the Pharisees when they only act according to their own strength and knowledge.

It’s as written in 2 Corinthians 11: 13-14: “Such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light.” Or 2 Peter 2: “False prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction.” We are warned constantly in Scripture of those who would lead people seeking truth in the direction of destruction instead. And for good reason: 1 Peter 5:8 warned us, “Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” It only makes sense that the Devil would twist truth as an easy means to get into the hearts of men.

Instead, we must listen to Jesus’s words in verse 3: “The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.” We must first and foremost seek out Christ: for He is the Good Shepherd who has laid down His life for us, and only He has conquered death in the process. Only He can grant us passage into the Kingdom of Heaven, and only in Him can we never be separated from God. So we must look for wisdom and truth from Him; finding answers in Scripture and guiding each other to God’s word for the answers to our questions, rather than not looking past our flesh and feelings for guidance. We must be wary for sin in our own hearts, and search for support in fighting and defeating our sin only in Him who knew no sin, alongside those who mirror our same pursuit in both word and action.

Finally, I’d be remiss in not concluding this with a statement of thanks; it is that time of year to reflect on what we’re thankful for, after all. God gave us leaders in our families and communities for a purpose, but only He can lead us to everlasting life. Only Jesus Christ our savior can open the gate into the pastures of eternity, where we will never be snatched out of His hand. I am thankful today for our Good Shepherd, who would lay down His life for us so that we may reside with Him forever. I pray for renewal in our minds and hearts, that we would seek and follow only Christ’s voice now, that we may ignore the voices of all others who seek our demise, and steadfastness until our eternal reward with Christ has arrived.

Leading by Example

I’ve been thinking lately about the effect my friend Hank has had on my spiritual journey recently. Hank is an older man at the small country church I grew up in, who helped out with the youth group back when I was in high school. He has been a very caring and good friend in the years since, especially in college as I struggled heavily with depression and anxiety and needed the help of a friend such as him. He frequently made hour-long trips to see me on the weekends to make sure I was fed, gifted me many books on thought-provoking and encouraging scripture-based life advice, and helped me find a new church in a new area when the peak of my social anxiety would have made that a monumentally difficult task on my own. He’s always been a good friend and a wise mentor in walking with Christ. Even now, Hank still seems to know when to send encouragement and kind words my way when I need it most, and even occasionally sends candy or coffee for my wife & I to enjoy together.

Above all though, Hank has shown me the profound effect of following Christ by example can have on others. When I think of the Christ-like example Hank has shown me, I think of Paul’s words in Phillipians 3:14-17: “I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus… brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us.” Or in 1 Peter 4:8-10: “Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace.” I think of how I’ve grown through the actions of Hank and others like him who’ve shown grace and love, acting as good stewards of the gracious gifts God’s given them, and using those gifts by outwardly building up others through example in their own walk with Christ, and through the words and wisdom they share. From experiencing Christ’s radical love shown through this form of mentorship, I have grown closer to Christ myself, learning and seeing the value of walking your whole life with Him. Hank’s love of Christ points me in Christ’s direction, and demonstrates the patient, kind love that only Christ offers. It also shows me through my first-hand experience, how important it is for me to teach and lead others through example by always living by Godly principles.

So today I offer a simple reminder of the importance of sharing what Christ has taught you with those around you. If through following Christ’s teaching at home with your children, mentorship of those younger than you at your church, or simply leading a life wholly devoted to Christ as an example for the younger generation, showing the change God has brought into your life never goes unnoticed, nor unrewarded. I really could never put it as well as Paul does in Phillipians 3:8 & 9: “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.” When your walk with Christ lead others to Christ and your help strengthen their relationship with Him, you are helping others find an immeasurable gift: peace with God. And what could be more rewarding and worthwhile that being a light to God’s shining glory?

Keeping Me in Perfect Peace

I don’t need to tell you how peace has been tough to come by these days. Even before the COVID era, but especially throughout this time, it’s seemed as though every day, people find something new to be unnecessarily concerned about. It’s no wonder 40 million American adults suffer some kind of anxiety disorder (a number I’d be interested to see the increase of in these times!). I deal with anxiety a lot myself, as do a lot of my close family members and friends. That’s why I felt compelled to write this week about Isaiah 26:3: “You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.”

I’ve been keeping that verse close to my heart this year, and it has helped remind me constantly of what is important. As Isaiah was prophesying here about the Assyrians’ and Egyptians’ comeuppance for antagonizing the Israelites, he knew that more important than his own concern was that God was in control over all the heavens and earth, and that He would provide salvation and security no matter what. When I am gripped by worry and anxiety of the future and of the world around me, this verse points me to the Lord, who provides peace instead. And I know in those moments, God can take my troubles and replace them with songs of praise. “Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord God is an everlasting rock. So what exactly does this verse tell me?

a) Peace, truly harmonious peace, comes only from Christ – not a momentary ease, but as Christ says in John 14:27, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you.” In all things, the Lord satisfies more than our immediate physical need, not “as the world gives”, but serenity brought only by a trust greater than earthly sources could guarantee.

b) Perfect – as is all things from Him, God’s peace is infallible, incomparable. Psalm 18:30 “His way is perfect; the word of the Lord proves true.” When I’m troubled by the reflection of a broken world, to know God’s promise of peace is not like the world’s temporary peace, offers assurance beyond what my words could describe.

c) To focus on God – it seems often like my anxieties come from focusing on myself, and my own selfishness. This reminder to shift perspective beyond myself helps me analyze my priorities – how can God use this situation? What good would this worry do for in my work for God? How is God moving me to action through this right now? I thank Paul for his reminder to Colossae in Colossians 3:1: “Since then you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God.”

d) Trust – to trust, not that I’ll be without worry, but that I can come to God and He will be there for me. It seems so many of my anxieties can be traced to a lack of trust. How useful it is to remind myself with this verse: trust that God’s got this! That we would have a friend, a confidant, a source of comfort in God, Who we could pour our hearts out to and know He is listening and He guides us through it: that is peace!

In these reasons and more this verse helps point me to God in times of anxiety and stress, to know I can take my worry to Him and He’s got it taken care of. I thank the Lord that He turns these many worries into songs of praise. I thank Him that he would give me opportunities to share with others where my peace comes from, that I could tell of a perfect, soul-filling tranquility from heaven to those who need to know. And I pray that you too could focus on God over all else, and when inner harmony would seem nowhere to be found, that in Christ you would find peace.

Unique Son of God

John 3:16; one of the greatest messages and reminders we have today of God’s love. We may all be considered the children of God as John 1:12 would put it: “But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.” Yet only Him – the Him this verse displays the light and radiance of, the one John 1:14 goes on to speak of saying “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.” Jesus – the Word of God, the Word that commands all else; a glory we know that gives us hope, that we would gladly give our lives to; this is God’s only Son, the only Begotten of God, the true light that would light our way, the only one worthy to atone in sacrifice for the weight of all men’s sins; that is the Son of God who died for us!

But though we may call ourselves children of God, only Jesus Christ alone is unique Son of God and Son of Man, part of the Holy Trinity, the Godhead, three in one. Tracy had an invigorating journal earlier this week about God being absolute, perfect truth, revolving around John 14:6: “Jesus said, I am the way, and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” I thought of that verse while writing this too; only in Christ can we find salvation. Only through Him can we hope to come to & know God. Paul writes in 1 Timothy 2:5: “ For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.” Who else is worthy to stand in front of God on our behalf? When our own sin damns us, who else but the perfect, true Son of God would be able to grant our pardon from what we’ve deserved? Only Jesus Christ, Son of God, could save us!

There is none other like Jesus; no one else to live a sinless life in the flesh, who could satisfy the wrath of God. No other could step down from heaven to earth, and demonstrate to us what it means to be different from the world. In prayer today, I thank God for His Son, the one and only, who did what no other man could do for us: dying a death in the flesh so we may live a life beyond it. I praise God for the unique role He set aside for Christ, and I praise Christ for being willing to step up to that role for us. I humble myself in awe at the magnitude of His plan, of His perfection, and pray a simple prayer that in this perfect love Christ showed, I could look and learn a little more every day how to love more like Him. I hope you can join me in this prayer as well. Together, may we flood a world in need with a love resembling His unique love for us.

Stronghold

We recently stayed with my wife’s family while traveling, and while praying over a meal, her stepmom specifically asked “that Satan would have no hold here,” which has been on my mind since. In the line of Philippians 4:6, we experience the power of prayer in our home all the time, and have seen how God answers our constant pleas for help with worry, anxiety, and freedom from sin. But this one line in our family prayer got me thinking about finding complacency in God’s protection. It’s a trap I occasionally find myself falling into: that feeling of security and protection leads to me being lax in focusing on God, which the deceiver can so adeptly slip through. It’s nice to have those occasional reminders of our need for vigilance. It’s as 1 Peter 5:8 says: “Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.”

In all ways the devil can attack us, God offers protection. 2 Samuel 22:3 says “my stronghold and my refuge, my savior; you save me from violence.” Or Psalm 9:9, “The Lord is a stronghold for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble.” Or Psalm 27:1 – “The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear; The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?” Though his evil may constantly hound us, God offers no sway to the deceiver. In times of turmoil, our God is our stronghold, our impenetrable fortress to hold against any siege. In all times, Satan can find a hold on our hearts if we let our guards down and try to find safety and security in our own means. It happens to me time and time again, as will everyone else admit to sometimes: it just seems to be our prideful nature that lets us believe we’re doing ok and don’t need any help. But as time and time again have shown… no, we can’t. Only in God, our stronghold, comes victory over evil. It requires embodying such reminders as James 4:7, “submit yourselves to God; resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” Or as Paul says in Ephesians 4:27, “give no opportunity to the devil.” Those constant prayers for no holds for the devil, that reliance on Biblical foundations, on God’s power over evil are where our hope lies.

When a stronghold is well-maintained and well-stocked, it can outlast sieges from even the largest of armies over extended periods of time. But our enemy has been telling lies and spreading for far longer than we’ve been around. When we try to build our own defenses against the sadness and pain of this world on our own, surely Satan will find a way to tear them down. But God is our perfect stronghold, our defense, our shelter; when we surrender our lives to His calling, He upholds His promise of guidance through the pain and oppression and times of trouble this sinful, broken world besieges us with. 2 Thessalonians 3:3 says it well: “the Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen you and protect you from the evil one.” Only in God will we find a safety and a home that stretches beyond this life & overcomes death. As Paul says, we must be watchful; always reliant on God, always focused on a pure heart of service towards Him that we may give the devil no hold. Today, I implore you to extend this prayer we shared with your own families: that God would be your stronghold against the evils of this world, that He would protect your hearts and minds from the many lies of Satan, keeping hearts devoted to Christ that would make the devil flee in terror.

Sovereign God

One of God’s traits I keep coming back to over and over in my reading, writing, and thoughts is His sovereignty. To know my God is our sovereign God – the rightful, unquestionable, unrestrained leader, creator, decider, and controller of all –  has been a priceless comfort in this life. When I am overwhelmed with the state of the world; when I feel powerless to the happenings in my life outside my control; when I feel not up to the task of handling things I can control on my own; when my own negativity and pessimism drown out all other rational thoughts; when my sorrow and grief feels discordantly crushing; every time these things happen, I learn more and more the value of belonging to the Lord, instead of relying on myself for these things. Romans 8:28 reminds us, “we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” When God is singular Lord over us and all that ails us, we know in all these things we further experience His goodness and His holiness by trusting those facts over ourselves. Through Scripture, we know we don’t need to worry of any of these – we know God’s got it all under control.

In this way, I understand the prophet Habakkuk’s sentiment in Habakkuk 3:19 – “The Sovereign Lord is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to tread on the heights.” When confronted with the inequity of man’s action, he finds joy and strength in the promise of the Lord’s promise of deliverance and rule over all that assails him. Or the understanding of Simeon in Luke 2:29, the righteous man who waited patiently at his life’s end to see Christ with his own eyes, declaring “Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you may now dismiss your servant in peace. For my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the sight of all nations: a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of your people Israel.” Knowing the Lord has created and resided over all His people and planned their salvation from the beginning brings me the deepest peace I could know. God’s incontestable claim over me consoles me that none could separate me from Him. God’s hand stretched over all creation and all time helps me know that of course the Lord will see me through all things to do good in His name.

Take the time with me today to ruminate on what Romans 11:36 means in your life: “From him and through him and to him are all things.” Paul’s words to the Church in Rome all those years ago still ring true submission to the sovereign rule of Christ – all we have and all that is, He created. Not for me, or for any of us, but to Him, for His glory. I think – when I say that God is the one and only creator and king over all there is and all I have, do I consider these things from, through, and to Him? Does thanking God for what comes from & through Him go hand in hand with knowing and acting on how all should go to further His glory as well – how all I have, I desperately need to give to God? One constant prayer of mine is for a heart that would do less for myself and more for Christ, and I know God answers this prayer when, at the times I need it most, 1 Corinthians 10:31 comes into my head: “Whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”

Our God is the sovereign Lord over all – the one and only, no-holds barred ruler over all that was, is, and is to come. Pray that all the world, created in His glory, may receive with open hearts His word so that all would proclaim the glory of God that is rightfully His. Pray that all you would go to Him to further His kingdom here on earth. And, today and every day, be thankful for the claim our Lord has on us!