Archives For Sovereignty

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Only God can transform a bad life situation, but His first desire is to transform you through your surrendered dependence upon Him alone.

Twenty years had gone by, and the day Jacob has been dreading is now upon him. He is about to run into his brother Esau. God has asked Jacob to return, and the last time Jacob saw his brother Esau, Esau wanted to kill him.

God is at work in Jacob’s life, but at this point Jacob is to afraid to just trust in God’s plan, so he comes up with a plan of healing himself. He is convinced that he can boost his odds of a successful meeting with his brother by the power of self-sufficiency. However, God has a different plan.

God’s desire it to transform Jacob by freeing him from self-sufficiency. God is looking for surrender and not Jacob’s plans. God is looking for complete surrendered dependence. C.S. Lewis once said, “Until you have given up your self to Him you will not have a real self.” God is looking to help Jacob find his real self that is found only in the surrendering of everything to God.

Try as we might, we can’t heal ourselves the way God can heal us. Self-Sufficiency must give way to surrendered dependency on God. In other words, you can’t be fully His until you are fully given over to Him. God has Jacob right where He wants him. Jacob has no recourse left but to rely on God, and that’s a perfect place to be.

In Genesis 32:24-31 Jacob is alone and wrestles with God until the breaking of the day. It’s not so much a physical confrontation as it is a spiritual battle where God is trying to give Jacob a new freedom. After a long match, God touches the hip socket of Jacob and Jacob is left in a position of utter and absolute brokenness and dependence before God.

Jacob declares,  he will not let go until he gets God’s blessing. Up to this time Jacob’s biggest weakness was not trusting God completely and trying to micromanage every step of his life. Verse 27 God answers Jacob by giving him the blessing of a name change.

A name change is a character change. A name change is a direction change. A name change is a purpose change. God changes his name from Jacob to Israel. God’s purpose for Israel has always been that they would bring the whole world to God himself. In one beautiful moment, Jacob’s plans are turned over to God and replaced with God’s purpose.

Jacob calls the place Peniel, saying, “For I have seen God face to face, and yet my life has been delivered. From that day forward,  he walked with a limp and a smile. He was now free because of surrender. How about you today? Are you free? Are you trusting God or trusting your plans?

Abraham had to lay down Isaac and trust God. Jacob had to lay down self-sufficiency and trust God. What do you need to lie down before God? It’s tempting to put off what you need to surrender. However, self-sufficiency, non-surrender and avoidance never brings healing.

Only God can transform a bad life situation, but His first desire is to transform you. God doesn’t want your plans He wants you.

Here the message, Surrendered Dependency Upon Him

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The restoration of our true humanity began at the cross and resurrection and will be completed at the second coming of Christ. The first step of the journey of restoration is to give your self in complete dependence to God who is the shaper of the clay. C.S. Lewis once wrote, “Until you have given up your self to Him you will not have a real self.”

The resurrection of Christ gives to us the gift of being valuable signpost pointing to the one true way. By surrendering to Christ working through us, we are helping to restore the world and point others to the only hope humanity has. We are called to be a part of building for God’s kingdom.

We are being shaped by Christ, and His Spirit has filled us to  shape the world around us. We are called to dependency on Him in order to show the world His glories power working through weakness. Our very lives announce redemption is possible through Christ alone.

Salvation is at work in us. We are rescued, and we are being rescued in order to open the eyes of the blind.  We are vessels God finds joy in working through. Yes, He works in us and even for us, but the work through us is of greater value to a lost and dying world.

As Christ followers, we are pictures to the world of God’s kingdom that is now and not fully yet. In the words of N.T. Wright, “Those in whom the Spirit comes to live are God’s new Temple. They are, individually and corporately, places where heaven and earth meet.”

As you walk through you day, remind yourself again and again that God is walking through you for the sake of others. It will change the way you evaluate your day. I promise.

Neither Have You

July 8, 2013 — Leave a comment

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I’ve never been skipped over by God and neither have you. On the other hand, there have been many times I’ve felt like God doesn’t even know where I’m at, I’m sure you have felt the same. Facts and feelings often seem to be in conflict with one another.

The unwavering facts of God’s love grace and mercy are abundant. However, at the same time, conflicts of emotions try to erode it all away.  Feelings fight against faith, but faithful is He who has you engraved on the palms of His hands.

When the walls of Jerusalem were torn down, God assured His people He was still in control. It is no different today in your life, or in my life. When the walls of safety, protection, assurance and hope are torn down, He is still master.

It is in those moments we are reminded that He alone is our answer, protector and provider. He is enough. He is our contentment. Like the Apostle Paul, we know what is like to be in need, and we know what it is like to have plenty.

We embrace the same secret of being content that he embraced many times in his life. That secret was simply,  “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” You are not skipped over, and feelings can never win. God’s word boldly declares, “…greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world.”

I’ve never been skipped over by God and neither have you.

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Have you ever felt numb emotionally and spiritually? I’m sure you have. Maybe even today you find yourself in just such a place. You don’t have any feelings because they seem to be gone. The effect of sadness and depression over the many closed doors in your life have slowly cut off your faith blood supply, and you feel only numbness.

Numbness! That place in your faith life where you want to completely give up, but you know you can’t, and you know you won’t. Numbness is the part of walking by faith that personally haunts me the most. Maybe you know the feeling I’m referring to?

You are doing everything right and still all the doors in your life seem to close with a dull rudeness. You break out your faith check list to make sure you are walking pleasing to the Lord and sure enough everything for the most part seems to be right on track. Why then is every door closing, and yet for everyone else around you, the doors seem to not even have a close option?

Numbness will take you to the place of Elijah. Elijah had just witnessed an incredible miracle in his life. He witnessed God move on Mount Carmel in such a way that human involvement couldn’t be credited with any part of it. Yet, not long after the open door miracle, we see him whining that he’s all alone as a follower of God. He is numb! He is in the perfect storm.

Numbness led him to isolation but even in the isolation God was there. Numbness can’t push God away from you. He is commanded to get up and eat and to his surprise food and water have been supplied for him. Numbness can’t cut you off from your needs being supplied.

Then he was told, “Go, stand on the mountain at attention before GOD. GOD will pass by.” We are informed that a hurricane type wind passed through the mountains and shattered the rocks, but God wasn’t in the wind. Then after the wind there came an earthquake, but God wasn’t found in it either. Next, fire came, and God was not found in the fire. Finally, a whisper! God was in the whisper.

Numbness can’t be blown away. Numbness can’t be shattered away. Numbness can’t be shaken away. Numbness can’t be burnt away. However, numbness can be whispered away.

The whisper always comes. The whisper always comes. I’m waiting on my whisper. It will come!  How about you?

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Caution! Looking over the fence can lead to cutting your chin. A better usage of your chin is to bow it in prayer, thanksgiving at the feet of Jesus. Bowing your chin in prayer and thanksgiving acknowledges Christ as Lord. Cutting your chin on the fence revels the desire to be the center of the universe and last I checked, neither you, nor I can run the universe. The call of the Christ follower has never been to look for what we already have. We have everything. We have been rescued. We have Him.

I guess looking over the fence started in the garden. God assured Adam and Eve that He had everything in control and hadn’t missed a detail. He even gave details about the tree to leave alone. Guess what? That tree soon became their “fence.” The enemy introduced a very seductive word. That word was introduced to get them to look over the fence. That word was, “surely.” The serpent spoke, “You will not surely die.” In other words,  the lie was, “You don’t have all that you need.”

Looking over the fence is a hard one to resist. We all want answers that fit with how we think it should be or how we think it ought to be. Therefore, we often think to ourselves, the answers I’m looking for are surely on the other side of the fence. After all, I can smell the barbecue goodness coming from the other side. I can hear the laughter of plenty. They never seem to hurt or want for anything on the other side of the fence.

Life always seems better elsewhere, but it’s not.  What is out of our touch, or inaccessible, often seems of more wealth than what is present and sanctioned in our life on God’s side of the fence. It seems to be in our human nature to desire what we can’t have, and at the same time despise what we have right under our feet.

I’ve often found I start looking over the fence when I stop ministry to God. Ministering to God is the safest place to be. When I totally surrender to the beauty of sitting at His feet, the fence has no power and the voices on the other side grow strangely dim, and my soul gives way to a song.

“You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup runs over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I will dwell in the house of the LORD Forever.” Psalm 23:5-6

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There are 365 days in a year. I’ve never tried, but I would be willing to bet, if I placed the word happy on each day of a calendar when I finished the day happy, there would be less happy days than not. If it were one big wall calendar, you could back away from it to get the whole view, and it would look like a hopeless sight. However, that’s not the way I would see it as a Christ follower.

As a Christ follower my goal is not happiness. My inheritance is joy. Joy is not even a goal. Joy is a gift. I don’t have to fight for it. I don’t have to earn it. The Spirit of God living on the inside of me gives Joy. Now, back up from the same calendar and take another look and you would see the word joy on every day.

Happiness is an emotion. I enjoy experiencing happiness, but it’s not life giving. Joy, on the other hand, is a bi-product of the Holy Spirit. Joy arrives each day on the wings of mercy and walks with me through the ups and down of everyday life. When I walk with joy, happiness often merges along side of me for a while, and it’s nice, but when happiness leaves I don’t grieve because joy is always there.

Joy can’t leave because it’s a gift of God. Weeping might endure for the night, but joy comes in the morning.  If happiness is your goal there are many things you can do that brings it to you temporary. However, once that experience is over, happiness runs off and begs for you to wear yourself out chasing it again.

You never have to chase joy. Joy is part of the DNA that was given to you when the Spirit of God came to live inside of you. You are a temple of God, and His temple is a temple full of Joy. At times, you might sing a song of unhappiness, but underneath the unhappiness is a river of Joy that can’t be explained or shut off. It just is! Enjoy your joy and you are enjoying God Himself.

Galatians 5:22-23

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Is it just me or is there anyone else that worries about not worrying about what God may or may not do? When I’m under pressure, I tend to overlook for answers in my own strength.

At times,  it manifest in running every scenario that could happen, or should happen to the point I can’t even sleep well at night. Time and time again living my faith in this manner proves to be a big waste of…well…FAITH.

After all the time wasted searching in my own power, I always end up with nothing! Then it happens. God reminds me that I can’t do anything with NOTHING but He can do anything and everything with NOTHING.

Suddenly, deep in my heart I can feel a groaning of the Spirit of God praying for me the perfect will of God and then it happens; peace consumes me. Sometimes, when you stop looking, and you stop trying to figure it all out, God moves for His glory in your life.

The searcher of hearts is always looking and listening for the groaning of the Spirit inside our hearts. God is always having conversations and communion in our hearts. When there are no more words to pray, the Spirit of God intercedes with groanings at the intersection of ruin and misery within the Christ Follower.

You must share in God’s sufferings to share in His glory. However, suffering when complete gives way to a beautiful witness of His glory and that is enough. God uses suffering, emptiness and troubled times of unanswered prayers to build His character in us, conforming us to Christ, and prepare us for final glory when heaven and earth become one.

You might not get what you thought you needed, but you will get what brings Him the most glory. Sometimes it takes getting nothing to get everything.

Romans 8:26-30 (NKJV)
26 Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for uswith groanings which cannot be uttered. 27 Now He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God.

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Revelation 6:10 (NKJV)
10 And they cried with a loud voice, saying, “How long, O Lord, holy and true, until You judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?”

There is coming a day that every known and unknown part of the universe will breathe a final sign of freedom. God’s perfect fullness will flood the earth as the waters cover the sea. The kingdoms of this world offered by Satan at the temptation of Jesus will fully and forever become the kingdoms of the Father and of Christ our Lord.

Revelation 21 will become reality as heaven and earth renewed will be forever and justly ruled under the righteousness of Christ. Humanity will be embraced with complete and perfect love as God makes His dwelling among His creation. Evil will be no more.

The redeemed of God will live in the perfect reality that God had intended all along for His creation. History shows us the great price paid for the guarantee of God’s glories eternal future. That history I write off is the cross and resurrection of Jesus.

The accomplished work and love of Christ has opened the beauty of eternity to all who will trust and believe in His finished work. We don’t have to live our lives asking, “Why is evil permitted to continue?” We can, because of the cross and resurrection, ask, “How long?” To the latter question I can hear the whisper of the Spirit, “Not long; not long.”

Romans 8:23 teaches that creation is not alone in its groaning for final redemption. We, the body of Christ as the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan also as we eagerly wait for our adoption, which is the redemption of our bodies. We long to be born fully into what we were always meant to be. We are saved. We are being saved. We will forever be saved.

Our cry is not, “Why?” Our cry is, “How long?”

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No matter how you add it up zero added to zero equals nothing! However, add God to the equation and you get endless possibilities. You serve a God who is altogether above mathematical quandaries. He has always been able to blow the lid off the box of our limited human reasoning and capability.

Give God a few fish and some bread and He can feed over 5,000 people. Give God your empty wine vats and He can fill then with the best wine using only water. Give God a withered hand and He can heal it. Give God a storm and He can calm it. Give God a dry fishing spot and He will fill the boat with fish. Give God your impossible and He can make it possible.

You can’t control how God will answer your need, but you can be well assured He will answer in a way that brings Him the most glory. Just knowing that God will get the glory should be enough to reassure you that everything you are facing is going to be all right. It might not be the answer you want, but it will be in the end the answer you need.

When I’m feeling overwhelmed about the outcome of any particular situation that is uncomfortable in my life, I remind myself His glory will win out and if His glory wins, I win! God always acts with a view to His glory alone and everything is secondary. When God is put first, everything is going to be just fine.

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“Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!” Now that’s my kind of prayer! It’s my kind of prayer, and I venture to bet it’s your kind of prayer from time to time also. It’s not a faithless prayer. It’s a prayer that is mixed with trust and yet a hint of despair.

Despair is often the unwanted guest of an ongoing crisis. Despair somehow slips into our temple and pokes around causing us to doubt things will ever change.  Such is the case of the man in Mark 9.

His son is a demon-possessed, and he brings his son to the disciples of Jesus for deliverance. His steps of faith toward the men of God have ended in complete failure.  The disciples are not able to help his son.

The voice of despair grows stronger in his heart. He thinks to himself, “What now?” Suddenly, Jesus takes center stage. Jesus asks a few questions, and the man asks Jesus to do something. “But if you can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.” I love the response of Jesus, “If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believers.”

Then we see the broken beauty of the moment. A man of flesh and blood has faith and yet unbelief mixed in his heart, but Jesus answers his prayer anyway. With tears, the father cries out, “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!” It’s a prayer that bottles the request to remove the despair and fill up what is lacking in his trust.

He has seen the failure of the disciples, and it has only increased his  sense of despair and now what faith he has left seems to be quickly draining away. However, whereas the disciple didn’t have enough faith to accomplish the request, Jesus has unlimited power.

Jesus helps his unbelief and the miracle happens. Sometimes the greatest faith move you can make is to give your unbelief to Him in faith! The cries of this man’s heart have resonated with many that fight the same battle across the sands of time. He prays for relief just as he is, a doubter that needs a touch from God. Never forget; you can do the same.