30 Days of Cultivating Thankfulness Day 12 –Sovereignty of God

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Inspirational Thought of the Day:

Maybe your greatest sorrow is also your greatest deliverance.

Scripture of the Day:

Romans 8:28

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”

Last month I wrote about a hope I discovered when I was going through the greatest suffering of my life. I call this hope – Hope Reinvented – because my view of hope has been forever altered. One of the biggest sources of comfort to me was God’s sovereignty while I was on the hunt for deliverance and a scrap of hope.

The sovereignty of God is not just comforting because He knows everything, but because He sees everything and weaves all our moments together into a perfect masterpiece. How He manages to take the most painful pieces and carve them into a thing of beauty just blows my mind. I am forever grateful that God can take our wounds and use them in our lives for good.

Instead of despair, the very moment of our debilitating hardship becomes a place of worship at the feet of our sovereign God Who is LORD over all.

maybe-your-greatest-sorrow

Lord, thank You for giving us just a glimpse of Your greatness. Oh how much we thank You for being Who You are – Holy, perfect, Omniscient, Omnipresent, I cannot fully describe You – but I rest in Your sovereignty with delight in my heart.

30 Days of Cultivating Thankfulness Day 8: Election Night – Suffrage

election-2016

Inspirational Thought of the Day:

More than the right to vote is the incredible duty and privilege to pray to the God of this universe on behalf of our leader.

Scripture of the Day:

1 Timothy 2:1-2

“First of all, then, I urge that requests, prayers, intercessions, and thanks be offered on behalf of all people, even for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life in all godliness and dignity.”

I had to interrupt my plan for thankfulness today in honor of the right to vote. Amazingly, it has not been quite 100 years (August 18, 1920) since women were granted the freedom to vote in the United States. I am so very grateful for this privilege that we have to cast our vote for a candidate who would grant us freedom and life.

Over the pages of history, man has been enslaved and freed, kingdoms have risen and fallen, and God has been sovereignly in control of it all. Democracy has paved the way for the Gospel to be spread and served the purposes of God. We get to exercise our will to play our part, and God takes it all and uses it for good. What an honor.

Our church held a worship and prayer service this past Sunday and Pastor Gabe Turner delivered a message I wish everyone could hear. Vote because it is our responsibility and our privilege, and pray earnestly for the leader, whomever he may be. Here is the news coverage of the event.

Politics are not more powerful than our God. More than the right to vote is the incredible duty and privilege to pray to the God of this universe on behalf of our leader. People, let’s get to praying and see what God does in our President and nation for His glory!

Lord, thank You for Your sovereign reign over all! We trust You and are grateful we get the freedom to vote, all for Your glory!

Scriptural Saturday: The Present of His Presence

the-present-of-his-presence

Inspirational Thought of the Day:

The present of His presence is all we need.

Scripture of the Day:

Psalm 73:25-28

“Whom do I have in heaven but you? I desire no one but you on earth. 26 My flesh and my heart may grow weak, but God always protects my heart and gives me stability.27 Yes, look! Those far from you die; you destroy everyone who is unfaithful to you. 28 But as for me, God’s presence is all I need. I have made the sovereign LORD my shelter, as I declare all the things you have done.”

As we prepare to come together in congregational worship, my heart thrills at the thought of joining voices to praise the One Who is omnipresent but also present in such a special way when we gather together. He is indeed enthroned on our praises.

The stage of conflict is set in this Psalm, yet the Psalmist declares He stands firm in the presence of God. Once an enemy of God who could not stand in the presence of a Holy God, Asaph’s comfort was in God’s sovereignty as his shelter.

This peace the Psalmist had was formed as he declared all that God has done for him. 

As we struggle with conflicts of our own, the Psalmist has blazoned a trail we can follow. As we praise God for all He has done and recount His mercy and kindness, faithfulness and unending character, we, too, are satisfied in His presence. He truly is all we need.

Lord, You are beyond description, beyond comprehension, yet You invite us to know You. Help us to find our complete soul’s rest in You alone, no matter what surrounds us in this life.

 

Truthful Tuesday: Politics and God

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(c) Photo Credits cccomaha.org

Inspirational Thought of the Day:

Still people want to remove God as if that could ever be achieved. The Creator of all that exists is not so easily dismissed.

Scripture of the Day:

 

Romans 13:1
 

“Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God.”

Daniel 2:21

“He changes times and seasons, deposing some kings and establishing others. He gives wisdom to the wise; he imparts knowledge to those with understanding.”

When we bring up the topic of God and politics, I can hear some already before this post is begun, stating that there is a separation of church and government. This fallacy has been propagated so much it has contributed to the degradation of our society.

Studying history reveals that church was to influence government, but government was not to mandate religion. Still people want to remove God as if that could ever be achieved. The Creator of all that exists is not so easily dismissed.

God already knows the end of all things, so it would seem that politics are inconsequential to Him and to us – but He still has a role for us to play – and He is in control of it all.

What can we do when feathers are flying and it seems that the possibility of a candidate we did not want to be installed in office is very likely?

Pray.  

1 Timothy 2:1-4

“First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.”

We are commanded to pray for our leaders and government. Most of the time it seems people would rather speak against our leaders. It is understandable – they are fallible and often ungodly. But even so, God is in complete control of our government systems and the politics of man. When we partner with God and pray, we are part of accomplishing His will.

Educate ourselves. While man tries to frame up his viewpoint in a way that influences man and frets about who might win the election, we can seek to find the truth of the matter and not just swallow the media’s spin.

Get involved. By all means, vote. Maybe even volunteer to help the candidate you are supporting. Pray and study to know who would represent your Christian values who actually has a chance of winning. Expecting a staunchly Christian candidate in a post-Christian era is probably not realistic.

God is wondering if we might place our trust in Him and pray for His will to be done. Perhaps we might pray for the salvation of our next President and recognize the reality that no matter what happens, our Sovereign God will use it all for His glory and our good.

It is at first unsettling when we consider the fragile future in light of the prophecies in Scripture, but for the believer we know that every aspect of what is transpiring on the world stage was already spoken of by God. He is sovereign and in complete control. Amen.

Lord, You are all omnipotent, omniscient, and You own it all. Help us not to worry but to seek to glorify You in all our circumstances.

Freedom Friday: Gospel Across Cultures

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Inspirational Thought of the Day:

The hand of God is moving the people of this world so that they may hear of His great love.

Scripture of the Day:

Exodus 23:32-33

“You must make no covenant with them or with their gods. 33 They must not live in your land, lest they make you sin against me, for if you serve their gods, it will surely be a snare to you.”

The nations have been brought to our doorstep – the beautiful melting pot of the United States. Nations that did not have the same freedoms in their own homeland can now have access to the freedom in our land – for such time as this.

The tremendous blessings of having such a diverse culture are many, but there are also many dangers. Primary among the flaws of such a culture is the possibility of adopting false gods. God sought to protect Israel from such idolatry and in our desire to accept all people, we must guard our hearts from the same danger to our faith.

We are called to love all people, yet not embrace their gods. They have been brought to our home and we have an opportunity like no other time in history to reach these people with the love of Christ. People who could not formerly hear the good news in their country are now free to do so. People who could not share the Gospel in their culture now can.

What a sovereign God who would use all circumstances in our times to bring people to Himself. May we be faithful to spread the freedom we have found in Christ to all who come to our land. The fields are ripe.

Lord, You are amazing! Thank You for drawing people near to You. Help us to be Your hands and feet, propagating the Gospel to anyone who has ears to hear.

 

 

Truthful Tuesday: Prevention or Provision of Blessing

Blessings prevented

Inspirational Thought of the Day:

The prevention of blessing in our lives is either caused by God’s sovereign grace or our disobedience.

Scriptures:

Genesis 16:2 ESV

“And Sarai said to Abram, “Behold now, the LORD has prevented me from bearing children. Go in to my servant; it may be that I shall obtain children by her.” And Abram listened to the voice of Sarai.”

Genesis 17:1-2

“When Abram was ninety-nine years old the LORD appeared to Abram and said to him, “I am God Almighty; walk before me, and be blameless, 2 that I may make my covenant between me and you, and may multiply you greatly.”

Walking in the Spirit means sometimes God prevents or leads in a way that does not make sense.  We want the typical blessings of life and do not understand that God’s timing is best.  So it was with Sarah.  God made a promise and she was going to make sure it happened.  Whenever we have to strive to produce God’s promise, we are probably missing the leading of the LORD.

I do not blame Sarah.  I’ve done the same thing myself.  She did not want something wrong, she just went about it the wrong way.  Compromise is like that.  It happens when we follow our own inclinations instead of waiting on the LORD and trusting His timing.

What did God want Abraham and Sarah to do?  To walk before Him blamelessly.  What is intriguing about this requirement is the word “that” which follows God’s command. Waiting on God is all about relationship.  He makes a covenant with us and WE can prevent God’s blessings in our lives when we simply do not walk with Him in obedience.

We can be like a toddler, wanting what we want and all the while God is saying, “come and fellowship with me.  I want to bless you.”  Those who would seek Him would receive the blessings and the greatest of blessings which is Himself.  Those who would seek the blessings miss out entirely on the purpose of the covenant.

If we break His covenant He is still faithful, but we might not see the promise fulfilled or see it massively delayed.

Remember the Israelites in the desert?  That trip should have taken eleven days, but instead it took forty years.  BUMMER.

Even if the journey becomes difficult, walking in the Spirit and trusting in God’s plan and timing is far better than veering off course.  God might prevent us from something, but He is always leading us to another.

Obtaining blessing apart from God’s perfect will feels empty, but the peace of Christ that comes from abiding in God and walking in His ways is unsurpassed to any blessing we were seeking in the first place.

Lord, thank You for Your faithfulness, trustworthiness and promises.  Help us to wait upon You, knowing Your plans and ways are perfect.

A Season of Thankfulness: Day 6 – Our Sovereign God

Photo Credits: bluecollargospel.com

Photo Credits:
bluecollargospel.com

Job 42:2

““I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted.”

Isaiah 46:9-10

” Remember the former things of old; for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done, saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose.’”

Proverbs 19:21

“Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand.”

People want to be around people of power … if they are in good favor with them.  It is also impressive to be around someone who is extremely knowledgeable, but no one likes a know-it-all.

But being in the presence of God, the only truly sovereign being, is at once humbling and comforting.  He knows us completely, yet He chooses us.  Nothing is Hidden from Him, yet He accepts us.  The plans of this world seem out of control, but He is in complete control of it all.

This is perhaps one of the attributes of God that I am most thankful for.  A King Who rules over all takes time to notice each one of His former subjects who have become His children.  His promises are always kept and His plans are foolproof.

His rule is perfectly righteous and He never wonders whether His decision is the right one, for He knows the end fully.  He is never surprised nor anxious, for He set the world into motion and holds it all together.

In Him coincidences are truly divine appointments and circumstances are designed and orchestrated by Him.  When evil makes its way into our lives, He is sovereign over that, too.  Using all things together for our good and His glory.  What an amazing God!

Lord, thank You for being Sovereign, Holy, Righteous.  You amaze me, God, and are too great for me to fully comprehend.  

Thoughtful Thursday: Exalted Expectations

Jeremiah 29:11

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.

Proverbs 23:18

Surely there is a future, and your hope will not be cut off.

Proverbs 10:28

The hope of the righteous brings joy, but the expectation of the wicked will perish.

Psalm 62:5

For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence, for my hope is from him. 

Philippians 4:6

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.

Philippians 1:20

As it is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be at all ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death.

At the root of every heartbreak and every discouragement was once a hope or an expectation.  Sometimes life feels like one big carrot thrust in front of us, full of promise.  Then the carrot is taken away, like a big tease.  What do we do then?  Look for the next carrot, maybe?  That next carrot might be even worse than the former one.  What then?

God placed eternity in our hearts and placed us in this time and space, knowing our complete story.  That brings comfort to my soul, but I sure wish at times that I could know what is coming up ahead.  Well, at least I think I do. But in all honesty, if I had known some of the sorrows I was to face ahead of time, I do not know that I would have operated in the same grace as when those things unfolded.  Fear would have likely gripped my heart and I would have tried to impede the suffering ahead of time.  Probably would have complicated matters worse, instead of simply trusting God in all circumstances.  Ironically, I would have potentially missed an even greater blessing that God had planned – I just could not see it in the middle of the carnage of fallen expectations.

If our hope is in some relief or escape from the pain of our expectations being crashed, that is a shallow hope compared to waiting to see what God is going to do with our mess.  Instead of expecting everything to go our way, despite the fact that we are obviously impacted by every turn of this wild ride called life, what if we were, instead, to look eagerly to the LORD to see what He brings about?

Manipulating circumstances to avoid something terrible is attempting to operate as a god, and last I checked, that does not work out too well.  Surrendering the idol of our expectations to God in submission to His will and plan is placing our lives in the hands of the one true living God – a much safer place than in the hands of fallible man.

I like to know where I am going and am not terribly fond of surprises.  Bottom line – I think most of us probably prefer life to be problem-free, but that is not a likely scenario in a fallen world.  What is known and certain is that God knows it all, and He is in control, even when everything seems out of control.  Praise His Name!

Lord, thank You that You never abandon us.  I am amazed at how You can take every situation, every circumstance and turn it around for your glory and our ultimate good.  Help us to trust You while we wait on You.  Thank You, Father, for not granting expectations that You know would ultimately harm us.  You are good all the time and You are Sovereign – even when our expectations are unfulfilled.  

Christmas Count “Up” Day 21: Jesus our Sovereign LORD

Photo Credits agentsoflight.wordpress.com

Photo Credits
agentsoflight.wordpress.com

1 Peter 1:19-20

“He paid for you with the precious lifeblood of Christ, the sinless, spotless Lamb of God. 20 God chose Him for this purpose long before the world began, but now in these final days, He was sent to the earth for all to see. And He did this for you.”

Isaiah 46:10

Declaring the end from the beginning, And from ancient times things which have not been done, Saying, ‘My purpose will be established, And I will accomplish all My good pleasure’.”
1 Timothy 6:14b-16
“…Until the appearing of our LORD Jesus Christ 15 whose appearing the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and LORD of lords, will reveal at the right time. 16 He alone possesses immortality and lives in unapproachable light, whom no human has ever seen or is able to see.  To him be honor and eternal power!  Amen.
It is difficult to fathom – a father choosing His own son to die for people who hated him.  But wrapping our minds around the sovereignty of God is also not possible for us to completely comprehend.  Christ’s birth was preordained before the earth ever was.  God completely knew our need for His redemption before we even sinned.  Mind blowing.
Completely God, completely man.  Completely in control over all of the world, and yet placed himself at the world’s whim. Unheard of.  What a radical love.  He is LORD and every knee will bow before Him – whether of their own will or not.  Yet He in His sovereignty knew we could never have fellowship and know our God if the LORD of Lords did not first come in a way that we could understand.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me!  We, the sinful, wretched enemies of God, now united with the LORD of the universe through a baby.  Not just any baby – the sovereign LORD – God Himself, Who knows everything and yet does not give us what our sins deserve.  This Christmas, when we picture this babe in a manger and remember what God did for us, may we also recall that He is LORD.
Thank You, all-wise, all-knowing, Almighty God, our LORD, for coming in frailty and drawing us near to You.

A Fight Against God

Psalm 83:1-5
“O God, do not be silent! Do not ignore us! Do not be inactive, O God! 2 For look, your enemies are making a commotion; those who hate You are hostile. 3 They carefully plot against Your people, and make plans to harm the ones you cherish. 4 They say, “Come on, let’s annihilate them so they are no longer a nation! Then the name of Israel will be remembered no more. Yes, they devise a unified strategy; they form an alliance against you.”

My heart is grieved at the horror and atrocities being committed now by the hands of wicked men who slaughter innocent children. And why? Because they believe in Jesus. Simultaneously, Israelites are murdered with a hope of completely wiping them off the face of the earth. And why? Because they believe in One God. Such hatred – who is behind it all? The same enemy of our souls from the very beginning does his bidding through these men who claim to be radical Islamic Sunnis doing god’s holy calling. Really? Who are they really hating? God Himself.

This is nothing new underneath the sun. Mankind has been subjugating and persecuting one another since the beginning. From the first offspring – Cain who killed his own flesh and blood over jealousy – to nations trying to kill Israel and Christians for thousands of years. We have come so far, or so we thought we had. A holocaust could not happen again, could it? Symbols painted on doors sounds familiar. Witnesses of the Holocaust in WWII had hoped we learned a lesson from that time and that we would not repeat history, but these things are destined to occur.

Scripture is replete with prophesies – it is going to get worse, not better. So what are we to do? Cry out! Who knows if we might have yet another revival? Who knows if God will grant victory? God is sovereign and already knows the end, but we who are here at this place and time are here for a reason – not just to be bystanders shaking our heads, but to pray on the behalf of those who are being killed and persecuted ruthlessly. We cannot stand by and be idle. We cannot bury our head in the sand. We must stand with our persecuted brethren. God forbid that such atrocities should visit the USA, but I fear that time is imminent. For such a time as this, may we be faithful and fervent. For such a time as this may we boldly proclaim Christ and not shrink back. For such a time as this may we pray continually. El Roi – God sees. All.

Although it is hard as a human being to not think or ourselves, ultimately this hate is all toward God, and we are His representatives. They hated Him, they hate us. They might win a battle, but God has already won the war.

Oh God, most Holy, Sovereign Lord – You know all, and You see the crimes committed against Your children – the apple of Your eye. You see their tears and count each one. You are not far off, but are ever-present, enabling those who are suffering. Please help them, God! Hide them in the cleft of the rock – place a hedge of protection around them and show Yourself as their strong Deliverer. Act on the behalf of Christians and Jews and defeat our enemies – all for Your glory!