Three assurances from a sovereign God. And what is meant by sovereign? An almighty God who created the universe. Who rules over it and is actively working in it to carry out His purpose. Here are three assurances God’s sovereignty give us.
Three assurances from a sovereign God. God created and controls the universe
God is an infinite, eternal being who exists outside of the universe. Hebrews 1:1-3 says Jesus both created the world and upholds the universe by the word of his power. Some pretty weighty words, right?
The Greek word for “uphold” is phero which means to carry or bear. It indicates carrying something from place to place. In other words, God didn’t create the world, turn on auto pilot, and then sit back and watch it spin. And the universe doesn’t run on a hidden, built-in power supply. God actively and continually carries it forward.
Colossians 1:16-17 says, “in him all things hold together.” Acts 17:26-29 says, “In him we live and move and have our being.” And 2 Peter 3:7 says, “The heavens and earth are being kept until the day of judgment.”
The view that earth is doomed because of climate change and it’s our job to save it has no place in a Biblical worldview. Scripture assures us that a sovereign God secures the world until he brings this age to a close. And it affirms this truth: God always does what he says He will.
Until then, we are stewards of the earth and its resources. But we are not in charge. God is. So relax people of God.
Three assurances from a sovereign God. There is an eternal purpose and plan that God is moving forward
God has a plan for your life and this world. Sure. Things may look a bit chaotic and out of control at the moment. And maybe your life feels that way too. But scripture assures us that God is at work in ways we can’t see or understand.
Ephesians 1:11 says he, “works all things according to the counsel of his will.”
The Greek word for “works” is energeo and indicates that God brings all things about. Does that mean we’re puppets doing His bidding? Or He uses subliminal messaging to manipulate our behavior? No. Scripture consistently teaches we make independent choices with consequences. And we are responsible for our decisions. But God is a divine actor, not a passive spectator.
Romans 8:28 says, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” And Philippians 2:13 says, “for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.”
Even in the midst of evil and bad circumstances God will bring about good. Especially for his devoted followers. This is one of the reasons we’re encouraged to pray. Although we don’t understand how it works, scripture tells us prayer can change results.
Nothing that happens in this world takes God by surprise or derails Him from fulfilling His purpose. Because He is not subject to our decisions. We are subject to His. And His eternal plan will prevail. The only question is where we, by our choice, will land in it.
Three assurances from a sovereign God. This age and world will conclude when God decides. For something better.
Jesus told his followers he would return to earth in the future. And he gave them signs to watch for. Although there is debate among Christian theologians about many of the events, there is agreement on two of them. A final judgment for all mankind and the formation of a new heaven and earth.
It’s one of the many promises that give Christ-followers hope. One the apostle Paul tells Christians to always be ready to give a reason for. And another assurance the earth is secure in God’s hands. Because if Jesus plans to return to earth, then certainly, God will make sure it’s here for him.
But the best part? God plans to remake the earth into a new version that’s even better. So rather than live with fear, gloom, and doom, Christ-followers have something to confidently look forward to.
Finding your soul satisfaction. Have you? Because there’s a restless yearning in today’s world. Undefined, yet undeniable. An internal craving. Nagging dissatisfaction. A cry from the depths of the human soul that’s visible in human behavior. And the Bible speaks to it. Here are some thoughts on what it says.
Finding Your Soul Satisfaction. The disillusion of worldly pursuits.
In 1965, Mick Jagger sang about the angst we see today: I Can’t Get No Satisfaction. Even though he tried and tried and tried. And we’re still trying today. Doesn’t appear to be working out so well. Why is that?
Of course, the desire for soul satisfaction is not new. Neither is where or how people search for it. Here’s how Solomon described his efforts.
I have seen everything that is done under the sun, and behold, all is vanity and a striving after wind. (ESV, Ecclesiastes 1:14)
The Hebrew word for vanity means breath, vapor or fleeting. In other words, Solomon expressed the futility of seeking ultimate meaning from worldly pursuits. And he should know because he pursued and acquired more than anyone else on earth. EVER.
So I became great and surpassed all who were before me in Jerusalem. Whatever my eyes desired I did not keep from them. I kept my heart from no pleasure. (ESV, Ecclesiastes 2: 9-10)
Wealth, women, wisdom, success and power. Everything that tops most lists for human satisfaction. AND HE HAD IT ALL! He amassed possessions, pursued multiple interests and hobbies, and achieved every endeavor he set his mind to. But he still cried, “All is vanity!”
And we’re surprised when we pursue the same things without success? So what does that say about the source of soul satisfaction?
Finding Your Soul Satisfaction. Jesus cried out for it on the cross.
No other person walked with God as intimately as Jesus Christ because he was God in human flesh. He makes that claim in John 10:28-30 where he says, “I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.”
But Jesus lost that connection for a brief moment when he carried the full weight of our sin on the cross and it separated him from God. The anguish of that separation was worse than the physical pain of the crucifixion as he called out, “My God, my God why have you forsaken me?”
However, it was a sacrifice Jesus willingly made for our redemption. It broke the power of sin and opened a path of forgiveness through Jesus Christ. And it also reminds us that a soul satisfying relationship with Jesus Christ involves regular self-examination, confession, and repentance of sin. Because sin is always a barrier between you and God.
Finding your soul satisfaction. It’s in a personal relationship with God.
David also searched for soul satisfaction. But unlike Solomon, he pursued it through a satisfying relationship with God. And it wasn’t just a casual past-time. A once a week Sunday routine. But a desire for intimacy that he describes in Psalm 42:1-2:
As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. And David goes on to explain why: For he satisfies the longing soul, and the hungry soul he fills with good things. (ESV, Psalm 107:9)
Despite all his sin. His victories and defeats. David knew God was the source of soul satisfaction. And he pursued that relationship with passion.
Jesus recognized the same spiritual thirst in the Samaritan woman at the well in John 4:5-15 and offered to satisfy it when he said, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”
At the end of Ecclesiastes, Solomon reached a similar conclusion.
The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every deed into judgment, with every secret thing, whether good or evil. (ESV, Ecclesiastes 12:13-14)
And it all leads to the final question: As you seek soul satisfaction in your own life, are you following the example of Solomon or David? And how is it working out for you?
How the Bible deals with doubt. The Bible starts by speaking openly about doubt. Why? Because doubt is a confidence killer. The seed of uncertainty. Bane of belief. And we all experience it. Although when it comes to ultimate questions like does God exist? Is heaven and hell real? The stakes go up quite a bit. Here are some thoughts on how the Bible addresses it.
How the Bible deals with doubt. It’s okay to express it
Mark 9:14-29 tells the story of a man who presented his mute son to Jesus for healing. But unlike others who asked Jesus for healing, he didn’t express complete confidence. Instead, he says to Jesus “If you can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.” And Jesus immediately challenges him. “‘If you can! All things are possible for one who believes.”
You can almost picture Jesus with hands on his hips, raised eyebrows and slight smile. If? What do you mean “if?” There is no such thing with an all-powerful God. But you need to believe.
The man immediately realized his mistake. And to his credit he didn’t fake it or make an excuse. He did believe but maybe not enough because he still had some doubt. But if Jesus required more belief to heal his son he asked Jesus for help there as well. “I believe; help my unbelief!”
Don’t we all do this at some level? We doubt because we’re not sure God hears our requests? We’re unsure of our worthiness. Possess a limited amount of faith.
And the good news is God doesn’t demand a fixed level of belief you must demonstrate before he responds. Like the minimum height requirement for a roller coaster you must meet to ride. At least he didn’t in this case. Jesus went on to heal the boy.
It’s comforting to know that God understands our humanity. And doubt is not a disqualification as Jesus’ disciple Thomas demonstrated.
How the Bible deals with with doubt. The Apostle Paul considers a “what if?” possibility
What if God doesn’t exist? Jesus didn’t rise from the dead? Heaven and hell are fiction? These questions can present moments of doubt for followers of Christ. Rather than run away from these questions the Apostle Paul honestly speculates a “what if?” scenario in 1 Corinthians 15:14-19 by confronting the possibility. What if they all AREN’T TRUE? And his answer is brutally honest. In that case, those of us who believe are the most to be pitied.
I wouldn’t take it quite that far and think he’s maybe exaggerating a little to make a point. Because he goes on immediately in V.20-25 to assert that Jesus did rise from the grave and in him, we too are alive.
However, Paul willingly presents one side of the intellectual argument. Not because he believed it. But to admit. Okay. If, you’re right…if Jesus didn’t rise from the dead, then all of my belief is in vain. I’ve been duped and deserve your pity.
And by honestly doing so, he opened up the other side for honest speculation.
What if they’re all true? Then what does that mean for non-believers? This is the paradox of doubt. It works both ways.
How the Bible deals with doubt. The answer to doubt is faith
Scripture describes three aspects of faith.
More than wishful thinking, but reasonably considers the evidence
In Romans 1:19-23, the Apostle Paul says that God’s power and divine nature are clearly visible in his creation. Those who refuse to acknowledge it do so as a matter of choice, but are without excuse. Furthermore, Jesus Christ was God incarnate. And his sinless life, death, and resurrection offer us redemption.
Embraces a sense of confidence and conviction
In Hebrews 11:1 the writer describes faith as the “assurance in things hoped for and conviction of things not seen.” The Greek word for “assurance” also means confidence. In other words, faith is more than blind hope, but a confidence that is deeply and profoundly secure in the heart and mind. And this confidence and conviction moves the believer forward.
Demonstrated in the actions of the faithful
Faith in the Bible is never passive. Simply an intellectual acknowledgement. It always involves action. Jesus told his disciples to “follow me” because he demanded an active demonstration of faith. To follow him meant to follow his teaching by practicing it in daily life.
James, likewise, told believers that “faith without works is dead.” And the faith of a follower of Jesus demonstrates good works.
For now we waver between faith and doubt. And God promises to reveal himself to anyone that sincerely seeks him. But the day is coming when doubt is cast aside and faith is replaced with absolute assurance. As we stand in God’s presence and behold his splendor and glory. Then every knee will bow and tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.
Moses and his path to Godly leadership. Although Moses became a great Jewish leader, he and God disagreed on the timing for it. When Moses thought he was ready, God didn’t. When God thought he was ready, Moses didn’t. Here’s how they finally agreed in the story recorded in Exodus chapters two through five.
When Moses was born, the Egyptian king had a Hebrew baby alert in effect. Kill all male babies. The Hebrew midwives were tasked with the order, but refused to carry it out. So Moses survived his birth. And when his mother could no longer hide him, she put him in a floating basket among the reeds along a river bank where the Pharaoh’s daughter bathed. She found the basket, adopted Moses, and raised him as her own.
Moses and his path to Godly leadership. God considers pride a disqualification
The rest of Israel was enslaved, but Moses enjoyed a privileged lifestyle. You can imagine the jealousy this caused. They suffered while Moses enjoyed the best education and training Egyptian royalty afforded. Not to mention all the right power connections. So from a human perspective, Moses was uniquely qualified for leadership.
Apparently, he thought so too.
One day he intervened as an Egyptian beat a Jewish man. He killed the Egyptian and hid the body, demonstrating his sympathetic cause with the oppressed Jews. But when he intervened the next day as two Jewish men quarreled, they turned on him. Was he going to kill them too? Moses realized the Jews didn’t see him the way he saw himself.
Of course, that’s how pride works. You’re blind to what everyone else clearly sees in you. And God rejects it from godly leaders. Moses decided he might be in danger when the Pharaoh learned what he had done.
So he demonstrated his first courageous act of leadership and ran for his life.
Moses and his path to Godly leadership. God looks for willingness and a spirit of humility
Moses sought refuge a long distance away among the Midianites who were related to the Israelites. While resting at a well, he came to the aid of seven sisters there to water their flock of sheep. They invited him to their home for dinner and he ended up staying and marrying one of the sisters.
Forty years later while tending his flock, God appeared to Moses in a burning bush and called him to lead the Israelites out of Egypt. But he was now 80 years old. His youthful brashness and ambitions were gone. He had fully embraced the humble life of shepherding. He was settled. You’d expect that of an 80 year old. Time to slow down. No new adventures needed. But God was just warming up. And after Moses rattled off a list of disqualifying excuses that God ignored, he finally submitted to God’s will.
It’s an important lesson for us today. There is no retirement from serving God. Especially when God gives you an assignment. Nor is it about your qualifications. Because God’s interest is not in your ABILITY but AVAILABILITY.
You provide the willingness and God provides the way
Somewhere along the journey into humility Moses also lost confidence. Why? Maybe his youth and energy was spent. His Egyptian training forgotten after 40 years of non-use. His influence among the Israelites in Egypt dissipated.
And even worse, God called on him to demonstrate his greatest weakness–Public speaking.
But that is exactly God’s strategy throughout the Bible and today as well. Because it’s when you’re out of your league and beyond your capabilities that God does his best work. And why God uses our greatest weakness to bring him glory. He wants us to rely on him and give him the credit.
As Moses led the Israelites out of Egypt, God gave him all he needed. Demonstrating miracle after miracle on the journey out of Egypt, through the wilderness, and to the border of the promised land.
Have you ever had experiences like that? When God gives you jobs beyond your capabilities? I have. They’ve been my greatest fear and greatest blessing. And by the grace and power of God, I will keep pressing on. I pray you do too.
Psalm 36: When you’re against or for God. David describes the decision on whether you’re against or for God as a matter of the heart. And he explains its impact on a person. Here are some thoughts on what Psalm 36 teaches us today.
Psalm 36: When you’re against or for God. When you’re against God, pride is a destructive, blinding force in your life.
In V.1-4, David describes a heart that rejects God by focusing on three words. First is the Hebrew word for transgression in V.1 which is “pesha.” It is also translated trespass and rebellion and means a conscious, willful rebellion against something. David means those who willfully disobey God’s moral laws.
Secondly, the Hebrew word in V.1 for fear is “pachad” and means a sense of terror or dread regarding your personal safety. In other words, it’s normal for us to have a healthy fear of an all powerful God. But the transgressor David describes has no such fear. Instead, he flatters himself and arrogantly makes plans against God’s law.
Thirdly, the word Iniquity in V.2 is the Hebrew word “Avon.” It means “to bend, twist, and distort.” Although a different definition than transgression, it makes a similar point. David means to bend, twist, or distort the law of God’s Word to a degree worthy of punishment.
Finally, David points out the deceptive nature of pride that the transgressor is completely blind to in his life. And boastfully embraces a rebellious lifestyle. It is a heart that rejects God and his ways in order to please itself.
Psalm 36: When you’re against or for God. David presents a more complete picture of God.
In V.5-6, David presents a more complete picture of God by listing four of his attributes:
Steadfast love extends to the heaven
Faithfulness to the clouds
Righteousness like the mountains of God
Judgments like the great deep
We celebrate God’s steadfast love and faithfulness. Acknowledge his righteousness. But balk big time when it comes to his judgments. Why? Because we understand what it means from our own judicial system. It is a reckoning. Consequences coming due. Wrongdoers get what’s coming to them. And punishment is dispensed.
And while we all inherently desire justice, when it comes to our own own willful transgressions against God’s moral law, we look for loopholes. Surely a loving God wouldn’t send anyone to a fiery hell for all eternity.
But a just God can’t simply look the other way. Because he is equally just as he is faithful, righteous, and love. And that justice must be satisfied. So what’s the solution?
And the answer is, God sent Jesus Christ to die in our place. Jesus was God’s gift love that satisfied the requirement of justice. But you must claim the gift by seeking forgiveness from and following Jesus. Which leads right back to the choice of rebellion or submission.
Psalm 36: When you’re against or for God. There is life, light, and refuge for those who follow him.
For with you is the fountain of life; in your light do we see light. (ESV Psalm 36:9)
In V.7-9, David celebrates God’s love. But even more, he delights in God as a fountain of life, source of light, and place of refuge. David understood this more than anyone since he was guilty of both adultery and murder.
But he confessed his guilt. Repented of his transgressions. Sought and experienced God’s forgiveness. And now celebrated the freedom of forgiveness. No wonder he delighted in God!
Followers of Jesus today can experience this same delight and access to light, life, and refuge. Although complete protection is not guaranteed on earth. Jesus taught his followers they would face persecution and death for his sake. But an eternal refuge awaited.
When you’re against or for God. God thrusts you down or lifts you up
David ends with praise in V.10-12 and asks God to guard his heart from pride and from following a path of wickedness. He recognizes that pleasing God involves pursuing righteousness. But it’s a path full of sinful sinkholes that drag you down. Especially pride. So he seeks God’s guidance for the journey.
And this is the way for followers of Jesus today. To pursue God’s righteousness wholeheartedly, but with humility. For temptation and sin surround us. So we must walk by faith, the power of God’s Spirit, and in a community of other believers.
While the final fate of transgressors is determined. Thrust down and unable to rise. Tripped up by spiritual blindness to their own rebellious hearts.
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