The Sovereignty of God: A Wake Up Call

The Sovereignty of God: A Wake Up Call

Psalms. The Hebrew songbook. David wrote many, and we love the twenty-third psalm.

But have you read Psalm 2 lately?

Gee whiz. A top forty tune, this isn’t.

If you ever wanted a perspective of the sovereignty of God and the world at large, take a look.

Psalm 2
Why do the nations conspire
and the peoples plot in vain?
The kings of the earth take their stand
and the rulers gather together
against the LORD and against his Anointed One.
“Let us break their chains,” they say,
“and throw off their fetters.”
The One enthroned in heaven laughs;
the Lord scoffs at them.
Then he rebukes them in his anger
and terrifies them in his wrath, saying,
“I have installed my King
on Zion, my holy hill.”

I will proclaim the decree of the LORD:

He said to me, “You are my Son;
today I have become your Father.
Ask of me,
and I will make the nations your inheritance,
the ends of the earth your possession.
You will rule them with an iron scepter;
you will dash them to pieces like pottery.”
Therefore, you kings, be wise;
be warned, you rulers of the earth.
Serve the Lord with fear
and rejoice with trembling.
Kiss the Son, lest he be angry
and you be destroyed in your way,
for his wrath can flare up in a moment.
Blessed are all who take refuge in him.

World powers. Nuclear weapons. Rebellion.

And God is amused at the thought.

Then, He gets down to business.

God is God, and we are not. He is in control and always has been. He has a plan—and that plan is Jesus. Before whom every knee will bow.

Every knee.

I know that in my head. God is great. He is mighty and all-powerful, etc., etc.

But I forget He really is—great, mighty, and omnipotent. Old Testament miracles of Red Sea partings and enemy armies wiped out by a single angel? Well, those things happened a long time ago. Today, I just want my family saved and covered.

Have I made Him too small? Have you? Are we settling?

God’s advice is this:

Submit

Recognize the sovereignty of God and submit to the authority of His Son Jesus. Psalm 2:11 reminds me, “Kiss the Son . . . blessed are all who take refuge in him.”

Stop

Stop relying on my own strength, wisdom, and understanding because it pales in comparison with His. Psalm 2:1 tells me, “. .  the peoples plot in vain.” Proverbs 3:5-6 says, “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.” “Plotting” my own plans” and “Leaning” on my own understanding are constant battles for me.

Seek

Seek Him, because the God of the Old Testament is the same God today. Psalm 2:10 says to be wise and be warned. The sovereignty of God will prevail. Psalm 27:8 tells us, “My heart says of you, ‘Seek his face!’ Your face, O LORD, I will seek.”

The sovereignty of God cannot be brushed aside without major consequences. Let’s adjust and daily seek His plan for us. He’s waiting.

Questions:

Does the God of the Old Testament have a place in 2015?

Do you find yourself in wait mode, waiting for heaven or for Jesus’ return with little expectations for the in-between time?

When is the last time you encountered God?

Family Application:

We all have expectations—of each other and of God? What expectations do you have of God?

Evaluate those expectations. Do they require much faith?

Talk through: submit, stop, and seek. Which one is hardest for you? Why?

Tweetables:

If you want to examine the sovereignty of God vs. the world at large, take a look at Psalm 2. Click to tweet.

World powers. Nuclear weapons. Rebellion. And God is amused at the thought. Briefly. Click to tweet.

Have I made God too small? Have you? Are we settling? Click to tweet.

The Real Prison Bars

The Real Prison Bars

Slavery or submission? That’s our choice. And make no mistake, we are free to choose.

Don’t like those choices? Let me flesh it out for you. Scripture makes it clear we will serve someone or something. Two forces contend for our loyalty.

One is good.

One is not.

Check out this verse from Romans, “Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone to obey him as slaves, you are slaves to the one whom you obey—whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness.” (Romans 6:16 NIV)

Paul follows that verse with these, “When you were slaves to sin, you were free from the control of righteousness. What benefit did you reap at that time from the things you are now ashamed of? Those things result in death! But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves to God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life.” (Romans 6:20-22)

In John 10:10, Jesus says, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”

When we offer to obey something or someone other than God, we willingly take on shackles. We willingly walk into the jail cell. The enemy is subtle. He tweaks our thoughts and camouflages the bars. Sin looks so good—until the key clicks in the lock, and we can’t get out.

Only God can set us free.

James 4:7 tells us, “Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”

Funny, God never flees from us. Instead, Scripture gives us pictures of a father running to meet the returning prodigal, a shepherd leaving ninety-nine to search for one, and a bleeding savior taking our place on the cross.

Submission to the evil one or submission to Jesus? Death or life? The choice really isn’t that hard.

Questions:

Where does the idea of independence come from?

Why do we buck the idea of submission?

What has been your experience with each master?

Family Application:

Discuss the ideas of independence and submission.

Compare your kids’ ideals of freedom as a grown-up to reality.

Talk about how to choose whom to serve.

Tweetables:

Slavery or submission? That’s our choice. And make no mistake, we are free to choose. Click to tweet.

Scripture makes it clear we will serve someone or something. Two forces contend for our loyalty. Click to tweet.

Sin looks so good—until the key clicks in the lock, and we can’t get out. Click to tweet.

With Christ In the School of Fear

With Christ in the School of Fear

“Fear is not an emotion. It is an entity.” –Jimmy Evans, pastor of Trinity Fellowship in Amarillo, TX, founder of Marriage Today

It was a light bulb moment as I sat at our church’s women’s conference. Jimmy Evans backed up his statement with the following verse, “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, of love, and of a sound mind.” (2 Timothy 1:7 NKJ)

If the verse sounds familiar, it’s because I’ve mentioned it a few times. It’s the one God gave me for 2015. There’s a well-known book on prayer by Andrew Murray called With Christ in the School of Prayer. Great book, but this year I could write a different one—With Christ in the School of Fear.

God is calling me to deal with fear like never before. I didn’t think it was an issue. Talk about a blind spot. Here’s what I’m learning.

First Response

My initial reaction to something is often fear, though I would call it—concern. Like when I read my syllabus for Evangelism class this summer and noted the amount of practical application required. My muscles tightened, and my heart sped up.

The Holy Spirit said, “See? Fear.”

Dang it. He was right. Now I’m more aware of my first response and I’m changing it to something else. Peace. Faith. Prayer.

War Zone

This is war. I have one child who deploys to the Middle East this year, and another giving me fits. The battle is on. My weapons? The armor God provides. Taking every thought captive. And worship. Lots of worship. And in worship, praise and thanksgiving. Over and over again.

More Than a Conqueror

God is faithful. He trains me to stand my ground—not as a quivering victim, but as an overcomer, a conqueror, a daughter of the King.

It’s easy to “what-if.”

It’s easy to stress.

It’s easy to give in to self-pity.

But that’s not what He calls me to. Negative fear is an entity, and it belongs under my foot, not around my neck.

If you struggle with fear, with worry, with concern, buckle on your armor and crank up the praise music. It’s time for school. Grab your Book and learn from the Master.

Questions:

In what ways can fear manifest?

What does fear steal from us?

Are you tired of it?

Family Application:

How do you define fear in your life? Scared, afraid, nervous, anxious, worry, concern, anticipation? Talk through it as a family.

Match a memory verse with the definition that fits you and your trouble spot best (fear of the dark, what people think, the future, the unknown, bad things, loss).

Kids’ Resources: GT and the Halo Express, Glen Keane’s Adam Raccoon series (Glen Keane worked as a Disney animator and is the son of Bill Keane of Family Circus cartoon fame. Look for these under Cross Training at the Amazon store on my website.

Tweetables:

“Fear is not an emotion. It is an entity.” –Jimmy Evans, pastor and founder of Marriage Today Click to tweet.

God is faithful. He trains me to stand my ground—not as a quivering victim, but as an overcomer. Click to tweet.

Negative fear is an entity, and it belongs under my foot, not around my neck. Click to tweet.

Discipline: Turning Want-Tos into To-Dos

Discipline: Turning Want-Tos Into To-Dos“Endure hardship with us like a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No one serving as a soldier gets involved in civilian affairs—he wants to please his commanding officer. Similarly, if anyone competes as an athlete, he does not receive the victor’s crown unless he competes according to the rules. The hardworking farmer should be the first to receive a share of the crops.” (2 Timothy 2:3-6 NIV)

Soldiers. Athletes. Farmers.

The common denominator?

Hard work. Discipline. Focus. Things our culture admires—from a distance. Because we would rather greet the returning soldier, cheer the athlete from the sidelines, and pick up a salad from the grocery store than serve, train, and plant ourselves.

‘Cause it’s hard.

The older I get, the more I battle laziness. Physically. Mentally. Spiritually. Yet Paul reminds me in Ephesians 6, I am a soldier, “Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.” I need to have both my armor and my game on.

What kind of Christian soldier will I be?

Paul understood the difficulty of training. He shares his personal struggle with discipline:

Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training . . . we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly . . . No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize. (1 Corinthians 9: 24b, 25a, c, 26a, 27)

What kind of spiritual athlete will I be?

Jesus speaks in John 15:8, “This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.” Paul Harvey fleshed out what it takes to cultivate a harvest in a great piece called “So God Made a Farmer.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QuzhwkaNC40

What spiritual harvest are you cultivating?

God calls me to discipline. This month, some friends and I begin a journey through Spiritual Classics: Selected Readings for Individuals and Groups in the Twelve Spiritual Disciplines, edited by Richard Foster and Emilie Griffin. Celebration of Disciplines is another Foster book I like. I want to be a lean, fit believer, like Eric Liddell of Chariots of Fire fame.

Trained, in shape, disciplined.

Andy Andrews says, “Discipline is the ability to make yourself do something you don’t want to do to get a result you really want.”

What do you really want from your relationship with God?

Are you up for a challenge? Ask God about a training plan today.

Questions:

Is your want-to strong enough to become your to-do?

What will remind you of your “really wants” and help you keep going?

Who is your accountability partner?

What’s your next step?

Family Application:

Do your spiritual goal setting as a family. Encourage one another and hold each other accountable. Share your struggles. Focus on the want-tos.

Check the Amazon store on my website for the books above.

Tweetables:

Hard work. Discipline. Focus. Things our culture admires—from a distance. Click to tweet.

My desire is to be a lean, fit believer, like Eric Liddell of Chariots of Fire fame. Trained, in shape, disciplined. Click to tweet.

Andy Andrews says, “Discipline is the ability to make yourself do something you don’t want to do to get a result you really want.” Click to tweet.

Draw Near to God

Draw Near

Draw Near“Even the sparrow has found a home; and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may have her young—a place near your altar, O LORD Almighty, my King and my God.” (Psalm 84:3 NIV)

A mama robin has set up shop in our backyard. Her nest balances on a thin rail of our patio cover. She brings to mind the verse above. Psalm 84 is a favorite. You may recognize bits of songs and choruses in its verses, but the message is to draw near to God. The psalmist speaks of his desire to be in God’s dwelling place: in the courts, at the altar, in the doorway. I love how even the birds nest close to the altar.

To draw near to God no longer takes a trip to the Temple. If you follow Christ, the Temple is you. We are walking, talking, living, breathing Holy of Holies, because God’s Spirit lives within.

Why is it so easy to forget He is there? Too often I act independently or expect Him to keep up with me.

I need a retriever mindset—like my Lab Zuno. Zuno doesn’t set the day’s schedule. He simply follows me. Downstairs to throw in a load of laundry. Upstairs to my office for work. Back downstairs for lunch. He doesn’t care what I’m doing. He just wants to be with me.

Try these tips to draw near to God through the day:

  • Instead of talking to yourself, talk to Him.
  • Begin your work with worship.
  • Plan breaks to reconnect.
  • Don’t sweat the time you give Him. God will redeem it through the day.
  • Keep a Christian book handy.
  • Choose a verse to think about for the day.
  • Keep praise music on.

To draw near to God doesn’t require a pilgrimage or even a trip to church, though you’ll benefit greatly from being plugged into a vibrant body of believers. All it takes is shifting your attention to Him.

And He treasures every moment.

“There are no losers excepting those who quit.” –Frank Laubach

Questions:

When you think of drawing near, does God seem close or far away?

Family Application:

Keep a jar on the table with idea slips: What can I do with God today?

  • Listen to a song
  • Take a walk.
  • Read a Christian book.
  • Read your Bible.
  • Draw a picture.
  • Eat a _____ and think about how God made it and why.

A great resource for developing this mindset is Practicing God’s Presence by Bro. Lawrence and Frank Laubach. Check the Amazon store on my website for Practicing God’s Presence and other recommended reads.

Tweetables:

Today drawing near doesn’t take a trip to the Temple. If you follow Christ, the Temple is you. Click to tweet.

We are walking, talking, living, breathing Holy of Holies, because God’s Spirit lives within. Click to tweet.

I need a retriever mindset—like my Lab Zuno. Zuno doesn’t set the day’s schedule. He just wants to be with me. Click to tweet.

All it takes is shifting your attention to Him. And He treasures every moment. Click to tweet.

“There are no losers excepting those who quit.” –Frank Laubach Click to tweet.