God Is In Control

Deuteronomy 29:9

Almighty God reserves the right to reveal some things and conceal others. Although we may not know why natural disasters occur, the biblical truths we do know with absolute certainty allow us to trust the Lord even in times of great suffering. Because of the Bible, we can be certain:

God is in control (Psalm 103:19). Nothing in heaven or on earth is outside of His rule and authority. He does not react to events but sovereignly ordains or permits them to run their course. Although we cannot know for certain if He has sent a catastrophe or allowed it, we can trust in His goodness and wisdom.

The Lord loves people and wants them to be saved (John 3:16-17). Giving His Son for the salvation of the world proves without a doubt that He loves each person. This truth stands firm despite the fact that many reject the Savior. He cares for us, even when we can’t feel it or won’t accept it.

God works circumstances for His good purpose (Isa. 46:10). Though we can’t fully comprehend what He’s doing in each incident, every disaster is a wake-up call for humanity. God is alerting us to the need for repentance—so the lost can be saved and the saved can be revived to live totally for Him. The Lord wants to get our attention, and catastrophes open our ears to hear from Him.

The One who loves us perfectly is in full control, working everything out according to His plan. Knowing this should fill us with hope, even in the midst of crisis situations. The Lord promises to turn disaster to good for those who “are called according to His purpose” (Rom. 8:28).

The Power of The Holy Spirit

Romans 8:26-27

God’s Spirit indwells believers at salvation, which means His power is available from that moment (Eph. 1:13). God created a simple way for us to access that strength every single day.

First, we must accept the truth that in and of ourselves, we are powerless to live out God’s will. No matter how capable we may be, our own strength and wisdom are insufficient. Sometimes Christians become prideful about the good they have done or the number of years they’ve been saved. Imagine how much more we could serve the Lord if we would humbly get out of God’s way and let Him work through us.

Second, we surrender our entire life to the guidance and governing of the Holy Spirit. In other words, we choose to conduct our spiritual walk—as well as our vocation, finances, family, and relationships—as God desires. His Spirit is not going to release supernatural power into a life that is continuing in rebellion.

Third, we exercise faith, which means demonstrating belief and trust in the Lord. Faith is the “switch” that releases the Spirit’s power. It’s like saying, “I believe You’ve got a plan, God, so I’m going to trust You to give me what I need in order to do Your will.” Then He will move heaven and earth to provide for your need, whatever it may be.

Merely memorizing and reviewing the steps isn’t enough. Instead, commit to these principles as a way of life. Get used to thinking, I can’t but God can— I’ll submit to His will because His plans are for my good and His glory. That’s the kind of life that overflows with the Holy Spirit’s power.

Experiencing The Greatness Of God

No matter how great God is, if we don’t know Him personally through an intimate relationship and experience His power and glory in our lives, His greatness would not mean that much to us at all. By the way, His greatness can only be as relevant to us to the extent that we allow Him to unleash it in us. Since His greatness has already been revealed plainly to us, the thing that matters the most is how we choose to respond to it.

The ideal way to consider the greatness of God Almighty concerning responding to it in a meaningful and life changing fashion is through the lens of His love. God is love by nature (1 John 4:8). He has loved everybody unconditionally and sacrificially (John 3:16). That love is flowing mightily through the person of Christ Jesus.

But the big issue is that not everyone that He loves is enjoying the most important blessing that comes out of that love due to their sheer unwillingness to respond to that love provided to them through Christ Jesus. Moreover, what about His saving grace that is readily available to everyone who is willing to act out in faith in order to receive the gift of salvation?

In the light of the analogy being used earlier, it’s obvious that if we’re not willing to take our responsibilities to make His greatness become real or the top priority in our lives, we won’t be able to enjoy His greatness from a personal level. When it comes to responding to God’s greatness in order to make it significant to us, there are two vital things we can do that can sum up our responsibilities toward Him. First, we are to glorify Him. Second, we are to place our faith in Him.

1) Glorifying God

God has made man for His own glory; in other words, to further reveal His greatness to another type of conscious being after creating the angelic hosts (Isaiah 43:7). When it comes to our responsibilities toward Him, He made us with one unique purpose, which was to glorify Him. It’s an unimaginable privilege that the great Creator of this universe has granted us. It wasn’t because that He couldn’t live without being glorified by us. It wasn’t because He was obligated to bring mankind into existence. Furthermore, He wasn’t under some kind of pressure to do so.

But it was because He willingly chose to express how great He is to the human race. He made us in His own image and equipped us with the abilities to enjoy, contemplate, and admire His works and wonders, and glorify Him in return by serving Him, living for Him, carrying out His will, praising, and worshiping Him alone. Let’s examine this Scripture verse below that sums up God’s worthiness to receive glory.

You are worthy, our Lord and Our God, to receive the glory and the honor and the power, because You have created all things, and by Your pleasure they exist and were created (Revelation 4:11).

You see, according to this Scripture, God’s worthiness to us is based solely on the fact that He has made us and the world around us. Since He has made us for Himself, He’s expecting us to give Him glory and honor due to Him alone. The question is how can we glorify God acceptably?

Within the greatness of God, you find His glory. And within His glory, the key element that you find is His holiness, which is the most exalted of His divine attributes (Isaiah 6:3Revelation 4:8). Holiness is the very nature of God Himself, and righteousness is His character. Holiness saturates His being. The glory of God is the manifest beauty of His holiness.

To glorify God means so many things since there are many ways He can be glorified. But the most important aspect about glorifying God relates to His holiness. To glorify Him means revering whom He is as a holy and righteous God. If He’s a holy and righteous God (1 Peter 1:16; Psalm 145:17), the only way we can glorify Him acceptably is by living in a way that is in line with whom He is. He has commanded us to be holy since He is holy. Let’s take a further look at these Scriptures below.

Therefore I urge you, brothers, on account of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God, which is your spiritual service of worship (Romans 12:1).

Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price. Therefore glorify God with your body (1 Corinthians 6:19-20).

Do not let sin control the way you live; do not give in to sinful desires. Do not let any part of your body become an instrument of evil to serve sin. Instead, give yourselves completely to God, for you were dead, but now you have new life. So use your whole body as an instrument to do what is right for the glory of God (Romans 6:12-13).

Glorifying God starts with the kind of life we’re willing to lead before His sight for His glory through the means of committing ourselves fully to Him. Leading a holy and righteous life is literally what will enable us to do the very things that fall within glorifying Him such as worship, praise, honor, magnify His name, and so forth. We cannot glorify Him while continuing to live sinful lives before Him because living in sin is a matter of trying to satisfy self or living for self, which is in direct contradiction with how God wants us to live for His glory.

Sin goes against the very nature and character of God. You see, God hates sin because it injects in the sinner a spirit of hostility and irreverence toward Him who deserves eternal praise and glory. He hates sin because it builds a constant propensity in the sinner to continue to live in the same sinful condition that God already hated up to the core. God hates sin because it either destroys, hijacks, or defiles the very characteristics He has made us with that reflect whom He is by infusing us with the nature of the devil.

It destroys the spiritual appetite of the sinner by making him want nothing to do with God. And it also causes the sinner to find himself in situations where he’s constantly running away from God for the sake of trying to satisfy himself with things that are outside of God’s will for his life. It literally causes the sinner to become prideful, arrogant, irresponsible, negligent, and a liar. Sin separates people from God by placing them in situations where they can no longer have fellowship with a holy and righteous God.

As a result, if we’re serious about glorifying God, we have to make sure that we conform our lives to His will revealed to us through His Word. We must be willing to obey Him. Our obedience to Him is the essence of glorifying Him. We have to offer ourselves to Him without reservation, so that He can fill us up with His greatness. That’s in fact the starting point of true worship.

Glorifying God is the pillar of spiritual growth. As a believer focuses on the glory of God, he will change from one level of glory to the next by the power of the Holy Spirit (2 Corinthians 3:18). The main purpose of that serie regarding the greatness of God is to enable you to live a transformed life filled with the fullness of God Almighty. In short, glorifying God is based on acknowledging His greatness revealed to us through the creation and give Him honor by praising and worshiping Him.

2) Placing Our Faith In God

It’s always one thing to learn about the greatness of God either by reading His Word, through preaching, or through testimonies, but it’s something entirely different to make His greatness becoming the cornerstone of our lives. Placing our faith in God is predicated on making Him become as great and powerful He truly is in a personal level.

The truth is that we do believe that God is great since He is the creator of all things. The big problem is that belief isn’t sufficient at all when it comes to tapping into whom God truly is in a personal level. And this belief can be labeled as a passive type of belief since it doesn’t really involve us exercising faith in Him as He wants us to do so.

Our biggest problem is that we don’t always live in complete dependency on His greatness in every circumstance that we find ourselves in by allowing whom He is to shape our perspective concerning life’s struggles. We’re about to read this following verse, which will show us how to connect our lives to God’s greatness.

Consequently faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes through the preached Word of Christ (Romans 10:17).

The foundation of our Christian life is laid upon our faith in God through Christ Jesus by the power of the Holy Spirit. Therefore, the ideal way to tap into His greatness is by spending quality time meditating on His greatness revealed to us all throughout His Word. Doing so will eventually strengthen our faith in Him since our faith is totally dependent on His ability to remain faithful to His promises.

We are to believe that He’s fully capable of bringing to pass the promises found in His Word in our lives. This will empower us to pray with confidence and boldness. When we allow whom God is to become the core foundation of how we live, we invite His power and might to strengthen and transform our lives day-by-day.

Prayer

Note: That is a prayer model that you can pray in order to better acknowledge the greatness of God Almighty in your life. You can customize it if you want to.

Father God, I glorify and honor Your holy name because of who You are. And I praise Your mighty name for what You’ve done and what You have in store for me. I want to make a great God like You look as great You really are by magnifying Your name. You are the source of my life. I thank You that my whole life has been sustained by Your greatness since the day You formed me in the womb of my mother.

You knew me before the foundation of this world way before You formed me. You knew me before time actually came into being, LORD God. Thus, my existence isn’t an accident. I acknowledge that every fiber of my being is held together by Your power. I thank You for the salvation that You’ve granted me through Christ Jesus, which is another massive manifestation of Your power in my life.

You’re infinitely greater than all my struggles. I give You praise, glory, and honor for Your limitless greatness and power. I may not like the current situation that I’m going through right now, but I will not let it keep me from depending or acknowledging Your greatness. You are worthy to receive honor, glory, and praise as the sole creator of all things and the sole sovereign Lord of all things.

LORD God, You are so great to the extent that the many great blessings that You’ve poured out in my life that have changed me are just a tiny fraction of what You’re able to do. I rejoice in the reality that nothing is too hard for You Lord. You’re not only the God of the impossible, but You’re the God operating far above that realm; therefore, the impossible has no hold on You.

Lord of heaven and earth, You are great and do marvelous deeds; You alone are God. I will praise You, O Lord my God, with all my heart; I will glorify Your name forever. I pray that You help me to better understand how great You are Lord. And I pray that You empower me by Your Spirit to live a life characterized by complete reliance on Your greatness. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

God’s Loving Arms

God’s Loving Arms

Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good;
his love endures forever.
— 1 Chronicles 16:34

There once was a father who carried his son on his shoulders everywhere they walked. He cared for all his son’s needs, giving him food and drink, keeping him in the shade when it was hot, and walking in the sun when it got cold. A stranger passed by the pair one day, and the son casually asked him, “Have you seen my father?”

This anecdote teaches us about how we take so many of our gifts from our Father in Heaven for granted. We don’t even recognize that it is He who is giving us everything we have and everything we need. God carries us through life, but if we don’t look for Him, we won’t see Him.

Some people think that it is hard to have a loving relationship with God because He is so far from us, all the way in the heavens. But this story shows us that the opposite is true. The reason why so many of us don’t have a relationship with our Father is because He is so close to us! He is so close, and His presence so familiar, that we rarely notice Him.

Every breath we take is a gift from God. But how many of us feel that way throughout our busy days? We take the clean air and our ability to breathe for granted because we are given that gift every moment of our lives. But try holding your breath for a few minutes, and you might come to have a new appreciation for your next breath and the one after that.

In 1 Chronicles, after the Ark of the Covenant was brought into a special tent that King David had created for it, a ceremony took place involving sacrifices and offerings. But then David instructed the priests to constantly serve with words of praise and thanks to God. This was critical to their daily service. We read: “Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever.” Giving thanks was the anthem of David’s life.

In fact, the sages teach that at one point during David’s reign, there was a plague that killed 100 people a day. Recognizing that this physical malady had a spiritual cause, David prescribed a spiritual cure: To recite 100 blessings each day. The plague stopped, and David’s prescription is followed by observant Jews to this very day!

Everyone is asking what will it take to put our world in a better state. We see all the bad things happening around us. But maybe the cure is to notice the good things, to give thanks for them, and to bless God for giving us all the gifts we have in our lives.

djs

 

The Power Of Prayer In Our Changing World

The Power Of Prayer In Our Changing World

Hanging above the door in our house, my parent’s favorite plaque constantly reminded us, “Prayer changes things.” From an early age, I witnessed this powerful truth through their example. They would tell us about some difficulties they was facing and then have the family pray about them with them. And later, they always would be sure to give God the glory when sharing the awesome news that He had answered those prayers.

Indeed, this is our confidence: Anything we pray for that aligns with the Father’s plan will be granted. And the more time we spend with Him, the more we’ll come to understand His will and how to pray for it.

Remember, prayer doesn’t change God’s mind, but it does transform the believer’s heart. Some requests are granted immediately, simply because our Father is good and He loves to give His children gifts. Other requests may require time or certain divine preparations before they can be given. We, meanwhile, must simply persevere in prayer.

Whatever the Lord’s response or timing, we trust that He has only the very best in store for His children. That means we might not receive exactly what we’re asking for, but something even better. Such is God’s great pleasure, for He alone perfectly knows each heart’s desire and wishes to fulfill it.

Our most powerful tool for shaping the world and lives around us is always available. Prayer lets us witness God’s hand in any situation. And as we give attention, time, and perseverance to conversation with Him, we find there’s no limit to what He can achieve in people’s hearts and circumstances.

djs

Thy Will Be Done

Thy Will Be Done
In the Lord’s Prayer we pray for God to reign in our lives and in our world: Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. 

What do we mean when we pray, “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven”? We are praying that something will come about, but which has not yet fully happened. We are praying that God will bring about his heavenly purpose on earth. We are praying that God would use us to do his will. We are making ourselves available to do the will of our heavenly Father, to fulfill his purpose. 

This was the prayer of Mary after the angel Gabriel had revealed to her the will of God in bearing the Incarnate Word, Jesus. “I am the handmaid of the Lord. Be it unto me according to thy word.” Mary prayed that God’s divine will might be done in her life, and the world was transformed because of her “yes” to God’s will. 

Even our Lord Jesus, the Incarnate Word of God, when He was in agony in Gethsemane, prayed to His Father, “Nevertheless not my will, but thine be done.” 

When we pray, “Thy will be done” we are not simply resigning ourselves to whatever happens; rather, we are praying for triumph – that is, the triumph of God’s divine will. That prayer is not an invitation to passively stand by, to acquiescence to prevailing circumstances; rather, it is a means to buttress our resolution to fight for what is right, noble and true, for whatever is pure, lovely and admirable. It is to pray for the spirit of victory, the victory of God’s will, of God’s reign, of God’s kingdom – here on earth, as it already is in heaven.

God Is The Source Of Everything

God Is The Source of Everything

Unless the LORD builds the house,
the builders labor in vain.
Unless the LORD watches over the city,
the guards stand watch in vain.
In vain you rise early
and stay up late,
toiling for food to eat—
for he grants sleep to those he loves.
— Psalm 127:1–2

For thousands of years, Jews around the world have repeated this phrase in Hebrew: B’ezrat Hashem, “With the help of God.” This isn’t something that people say occasionally, rather it’s something that is said multiple times throughout the day.  Whether we are going to meet friends for coffee or on our way to an important business meeting, everything we do is b’ezrat Hashem. From the big stuff to the smallest issues, everything we do requires the help of God.

The Sages teaches that Psalm 127 was written just after King David was informed that he would not be the one to build the House of God. It had been David’s dream to build the Temple in Jerusalem, but it was a dream that he would never realize. Instead, David’s son Solomon was given the task: “He is the one who will build a house for my Name . . . ” (2 Samuel 7:13). As disappointed as David must have been at that moment, he accepted God’s decision with grace. In this psalm, David shares with us the clarity that allowed him to accept God’s will and move on.

David wrote,  “Unless the LORD builds the house, the builders labor in vain.” In other words, no matter what we do or how hard we try, we will never succeed at something that is not the will of God. If God didn’t want David to build the Temple, then no matter what David did – and he had plenty of funds and manpower to accomplish the job – he would never succeed.

David gave us another example, saying that unless God is guarding a city, all of the watchmen are useless. David shared one more example that especially hits home for us today. No matter how early one gets up in the morning, or how late one goes to sleep, or how hard one works all day, it does not determine how much money one will earn. God will provide for whom He chooses, regardless of how hard we try.

Now, of course, this isn’t to say that our actions and efforts aren’t necessary. Our personal commitment is critical and beloved by God. Yet we have to put our efforts into the proper perspective. They are only as successful as God wills them to be.

When we are successful, we must acknowledge that it is only because of God’s help. We must remember to thank God and enjoy our successes humbly. On the other hand, when we fail, that is also the hand of God. We must accept our disappointments like David did — with humility, acceptance, and grace, knowing that God’s will reigns supreme and everything He does is for the very best.

Shalom, peace, on this Shavuot of 2016!

djs