God’s Mercy and Our Daily Bread

Thomas Manton’s An Exposition of the Lord’s Prayer has been a remarkable work. My soul has been filled, my heart has been challenged, and my joy has been stirred. The depth to which the Lord’s Prayer can be plumbed is, in my estimation, unimaginable.

Yet Thomas Manton has performed a wonderful work by presenting one more beautiful facet of the Lord’s Prayer. It comes on the petition, “Give us this day our daily bread.” (Matthew 6:11, NASB)

Though his treatment of this verse spans seventeen pages, I found one point particular spectacular. Manton writes,

Ps. cxxxvi. 25, you have there the story of the notable effects of God’s mercy, and he concludes it thus: ‘Who giveth food to all flesh; for his mercy endureth forever.’ Mark, the psalmist doth not only ascribe those mighty victories, those glorious instances of his love and power, to his unchangeable mercy, but our daily bread. In eminent deliverances of the church we will acknowledge mercy; yea, but we should do it in every bit of meat we eat, for the same reason is rendered all along.

….It is not only mercy which gives us Christ, and slavation by Christ, and all those glorious deliverances and triumphs over the enemies of the church; but it is mercy which furnisheth our tables, it is mercy that we taste with our mouths and wear at our backs.

(Thomas Manton, Works, Volume 1, 154-155)

I just read that Psalm this morning in my private reading. What powerful thoughts! Every time we pray for God’s provision for our daily sustenance, it is because His mercy endures forever.

What a glorious thought! Have you contemplated this truth today? Do you realize that everything you have been gifted is all because of God’s mercy and provision? Imagine how different our lives would be if we, like Jesus instructed us to, prayed “Give us this day our daily bread.”

 

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Disciple: 5 Lectures for the Help of the Church

In July-August of 2018 I was allowed to lead one of our Life Seminars (a Bible study). I chose the topic of discipleship, as, in my humble opinion, churches can improve in this area.

I broke the subject down into five lectures. Below are my own lecture notes and accompanying study notes. If they are helpful, praise God! All mistakes are my own, and any glory belongs to our gracious and sovereign Heavenly Father.

WHO IS A DISCIPLE?

Who Is a Disciple? Lecture Notes
Disciple Study Notes Lecture 1

WHAT DOES A DISCIPLE BELIEVE?

What Does a Disciple Believe? Lecture Notes
Disciple Study Notes Lecture 2

WHAT DOES A DISCIPLE DO, GENERALLY?

What Does a Disciple Do, Generally? Lecture Notes
Disciple Study Notes Lecture 3

WHAT DOES A DISCIPLE DO, SPECIFICALLY?

What Does a Disciple Do, Specifically? Lecture Notes
Disciple Study Notes Lecture 4

HOW DO I MAKE DISCIPLES?

How Do I Make Disciples? Lecture Notes
Disciple Study Notes Lecture 5

A Study in Affliction: An Introduction to Psalm 119 and the Believer’s Trials

Recently I have experienced some incredible times of God’s presence. I have been reminded of His powerful sovereignty. I am revived by the sufficiency of God’s Word for all of our problems.

What is the cause of these sweet times with my Father? I can answer that question with one word: affliction. I will not go into details, but the last few months have been incredibly difficult for our family. Now, I do not mean that every day has been a struggle. Quite the opposite, we have enjoyed many joyful times in our private and ministerial life. However, we have experienced an increase in affliction.

Shortly before these afflictions began, I started reading Psalm 119. The psalm is packed with references to God’s Word, and I desired to see how intricate His Word is for the life of the believer. This personal study has produced an incredible yield of fruit in my own life, and consequently, in the life of others. My hope and prayer is that this brief series would encourage you with the sufficiency of God’s Word, the sweetness of God’s sovereignty, and the all-sufficient supremacy of God above everything.

In my personal study, I focused on Psalm 119:92. David writes, “If Your law had not been my delight, Then I would have perished in my affliction.” (NASB) One afternoon I had some additional personal study time in which I jotted down just a few thoughts.

  • God’s Word must be meditated on because
    • Because it gives us a right perspective of God
    • Because it gives us a right perspective of ourselves
    • Because it gives us a right perspective of our successes and failures
  • God’s Word must be meditated on constantly
    • Because we often forget about God and ourselves
    • Because we are constantly beset with sin
    • Because our problems are new every day

After reading these thoughts to my wife, she asked if I was preparing a sermon. Though I usually am, it was meant simply for personal edification. However, it turned out that I was given an opportunity to preach, and so I set to work developing these points further.

After the sermon, I realized that there was much more contained in this psalm, and so I spent more time studying.  One goal I had was to develop the idea of affliction as it is used in Psalm 119.

I found seven uses of the English word affliction in the NASB. These are Psalm 119:50, 67, 71, 75, 92, 107, and 153. In my research I found that the word translated as affliction comes from two Hebrew words.

In the following posts, I hope to provide an overview of affliction as presented in Psalm 119. I am amazed at how God’s Word is always the answer to our afflictions. I hope that these tools will find their way in your tool box, for past, present, and future afflictions. I pray that you and I will, like David, cry out “If Your law had not been my delight, then I would have perished in my affliction.”

 

On the Meditation of Scripture

David declares, “O how I love Your law! It is my meditation all the day.” (Psalm 119:97, NASB)

As Christians, we should love God’s law. Peter says we desire it like new born babies desire milk (1 Peter 2:2). It should be our constant meditation. Unfortunately, many of us do not know how to meditate. Our impression of meditation is sitting with our legs crossed while humming.

Meditation is not that. The word used for meditation can also mean reflection, prayer, musing, and devotion. In other words, it is something you think about. Of course, there are a variety of ways to think about something. This word, however, gives the impression of eagerness and delight. For example, when I come home from work, my children run out shrieking with excitement. It is seriously one of my favorite parts of my day. I think about it throughout the day with increasing excitement. I imagine their smiling, fruit snack-covered faces giving me kisses. I muse on it. Or, to put it in a biblical way, I meditate on it.

That is the idea here. The question, then, is how do we do this?

As with many things in the Christian life, there are a variety of ways to meditate on Scripture. Depending upon your personality and way of learning, you may meditate differently. For some, meditation takes place with pen and paper (I am thinking of Jonathan Edwards here). For others, it may take the form of writing songs (perhaps an Isaac Watts?). The list could go on, but one thing I have found helpful is to briefly jot down some main thoughts.

In order to provide some structure for this, I created a little document I call “Personal Notes on Scripture Reading.” You are free to download it here: Personal Notes on Scripture Reading

I organized it in a way that suits my study habits and personal quirks. Let me breakdown what I have, and perhaps it will help you meditate on God’s Word.

PASSAGE READ

This would be the Scripture you read. It may be several chapters, a chapter, or a section of verses. It simply depends upon your time and ability to consume Scripture. Don’t worry about the amount you read, focus on the content of what you read.

MAIN THOUGHTS

What are the main thoughts of the passage? Is is a story? Is it a letter? The literary genres in Scripture are vast. The different people and points are also expansive. The idea here is to capture the main points (or thoughts) of the passage. This will help you remember what you read throughout the day. (For a little more treatment on this, check out this post.) Besides help in remembering what you read, this also helps in writing the thoughts in your own words. In other words, it helps with retention.

THOUGHTS FOR FURTHER INQUIRY

The third section is for questions that come up during your reading. In my example, my question for Psalm 119:71 is, “Why does affliction bring about greater learning of God’s

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Word?”

When reading Scripture, we need to be asking questions. Will this create more work? Yes, it will. However, it will yield fruit lasting for years. Imagine if you took a few more minutes each day to read Scripture in this way. The gems mined from your daily readings would invigorate your love for God’s Word. It would provide a feast for you for years to come. It would help you understand God, His ways, and our purpose, with ever-increasing clarity. 

 

PRAYER POINTS

The last section of my “Personal Notes on Scripture Reading” is called prayer points. What I am looking for here is how can this shape my prayer life. Using Psalm 119:71 as an example, I wrote, “Rather than praying for the removal from affliction, I should pray for learning during affliction.” This is a personal application. I can easily turn that to a prayer for my family, friends, my students, their families, our church, etc.

Every verse or passage may not lend itself to easy application. It may take more work to fill in this chart for a narrative than for an epistle. But you know what? As I continue to learn and apply God’s Word, I find myself, more and more, crying out “O how I love Your law! It is my meditation all the day.”

 

How do you meditate on God’s Word? I would love to hear about it!

 

Edwards and Self-Examination: Remembering Life Without Christ

We read in Ephesians 2:11-12 (ESV),

“Therefore remember that at one time you Gentiles in the flesh, called ‘the uncircumcision’ by what is called the circumcision, which is made in the flesh by hands- remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world.”

Paul, encouraged the Gentile believers to constantly remember their estate before Christ. He wanted them to remember their hopelessness, so they could marvel at God’s amazing grace (see Ephesians 2:8-).

We, like the Gentile believers, are in need of remembrance. How easy is it to forget that we were once lost, completely blinded by sin, and spiritually dead! We are all prone to this forgetfulness. Which is why we need to obey Paul’s exhortation to remember.

I am currently reading through Iain Murray‘s biography on Jonathan Edwards. It is, second only to the Bible, my favorite book. I love Jonathan Edwards, and I am always personally challenged when I read about his life.

As I was reading, I came across this reference to Edwards’ dairy. Though it is long, I think it is helpful to reproduce here for our own edification. May we, as we read Mr. Edwards’ words, be propelled to contemplate on our own wickedness in order to marvel at the majestic grace of God. Edwards writes,

Often, since I lived in this town, I have had very affecting views of my own sinfulness and vileness; very frequently to such a degree as to hold me in a kind of loud weeping, sometimes for a considerable time together; so that I have often been forced to shut myself up. I have had a vastly greater sense of my own wickedness, and the badness of my heart, than ever I had before my conversion. It has often appeared to me that if God should mark iniquity against me I should appear the very worst of all mankind-of all that have been, since the beginning of the world to this time, and that I should have by far the lowest place in hell.

My wickedness, as I am in myself, has long appeared to me perfectly ineffable, and swallowing up all thought and imagination; like an infinite deluge or mountains over my hear. I know not how to express better what my sins appear to me to be than by heaping infinite upon infinite, and multiplying infinite by infinite. Very often, for these many years, these expressions are in my mind, and in my mount, ‘Infinite upon infinite…Infinite upon infinite!’ When I look into my heart, and take a view of my wickedness, it looks like an abyss infinitely deeper than hell.

I have greatly longed of late for a broken heart, and to lie low before God; and, when I ask for humility, I cannot bear the thoughts of being no more humble than other Christians. It seems to me, that though their degrees of humility may be suitable for them, yet it would be a vile self-exaltation in my, not to be the lowest in humility of all mankind. Others speak of their longing to be ‘humbled to the dust’, that may be a proper expression for them, but I always think of myself, that I ought, and it is an expression that has long been natural for me to use in prayer, ‘to lie infinitely low before God.’ And it is affecting to think, how ignorant I was, when a young Christian, of the bottomless, infinite depths of wickedness, pride, hypocrisy and deceit, left in my heart.

(Jonathan Edwards in Iain Murray, Jonathan Edwards: A New Biography (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth Trust, 2008 reprint), 101-102.

This kind of self-examination is needed. We need to remember what we were, but before Christ saved us and even after He saved us. We are all creatures of His exquisite grace, and were it not for His wonderful grace we would all perish under the righteous wrath of God.

Paul, shortly after penning the words found in Ephesians 2:11-12 (ESV), writes “But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.”

Hallelujah! What a Savior!

 

 

 

 

(Photo Credit)

4 Ways to Minister Like the Angels: A Word from T. Manton

In his exposition of the Lord’s Prayer, Thomas Manton provides biblical insight, pastoral application, and enthusiastic advice. Jesus prays in Matthew 6:10, “Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” (NKJV)

In developing the idea of the execution of God’s will on earth like it is in heaven, T. Manton discusses the angels. One thing I love about the Puritans is they were extremely practical. “How does this apply to my life?” was a question they incessantly asked of every passage of Scripture.

Manton mentions four ways you and I can minister like the angels.

“IN CONFORMITY TO THE ANGELS, WE MUST SERVE GOD READILY” (148)

As Scripture pictures angels with wings (see Isaiah 6:2) to execute God’s will swiftly, so we must seek to do God’s will in haste. Manton remarks in his typical fashion, “It is not enough to keep God’s commandments, but we must make haste; that is, before the strength of the present impulsion be lost, and those fervours which are upon us be cooled.” (Manton, “Works,” Volume 1, 148)

One way to minister like the angels is to do so immediately.

“WILLINGLY AND CHEERFULLY, WITHOUT MURMURING” (148)

How many of us are guilty of begrudgingly serving our Lord? We ‘do’ His will because we have to do so. In this we are more like the devils, as Manton remarks, than the angels.

He writes, “When we do things with reluctancy, murmuringly, we are more like the devils than the angels. When the devils obey his word, they are forced to do so by the absolute power of Christ; yet they do it not with willingness and freeness, as the good angels do.” (Manton, “Works,” Volume 1, 148)

Does our execution of God’s will mimic the angels, or the demons?

“CONSTANTLY AND UNWEARIEDLY” (148)

We are prone to weakness of the body. Our spirits give up after long bouts with temptation. We are reminded to “not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.” (Galatians 6:9, NKJV)

This is why a daily time with God is so vital. We need God’s grace to be saved. We need God’s grace to be like Him. Manton remarks, “God in communion is ever new and fresh to them; the face of their heavenly Father is as lovely as at the first moment; no weariness or satiety creeps upon those good spirits. Thus should we do it without weariness, and then we shall reap if we faint not.” (Manton, “Works,” Volume 1, 148-149)

Be like the angels and constantly do God’s will (in His strength, of course!).

“FAITHFULLY, NOT PICKING AND CHOOSING” (149)

The angels do God’s will regardless of what it is. For personal edification, using a concordance (or a online Bible), look up angels and see the variety of tasks to which they are assigned. They always do God’s will.

Like the angels, you and I are assigned different tasks. Perhaps we are given a glorious work (like announcing the arrival of the Messiah, Luke 1:8-14). Or, we may be given a behind-the-scenes task (like ministering to saints throughout the ages, Hebrews 1:14). Either way, we never read of angels bucking at God’s will or only doing part of it.

One important point Manton makes is, “‘They hearken to the voice of his word,’ whatever it be, be it to ascend or descend. So we, if it be to go backward for God, though it be against the bent of our hearts.” (Manton, “Works,” Volume 1, 149)

Has God called us to descend? Let us do it with trust in our sovereignly, good Heavenly Father.

These are four ways we can minister like the angels. Let us always, in all places, circumstances, and experiences, pray, “Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” (Matthew 6:10, NKJV)

3 Ways to Exercise Yourself to Godliness

It has been a while since my last posting. Life and ministry have a way of overrunning us if we let it! With that said, I have been reading Charles Bridges The Christian Ministry, printed by the Banner of Truth Trust.

It has been an amazing book. I should underline what does not speak to me as this may save me some ink! Seriously though, the book has been incredibly fruitful.

One thing that Bridges discusses that is of vital importance is the reading of Scripture as it relates to godliness. Though lengthy, I want to provide his paragraph for your digestion.

“’Exercise thyself unto godliness’—was one of the wise rules of the Apostle to his beloved son, for the course of his Ministry; a rule, which bears with most important application to the noviciate. Its connection with the rule of study in the succeeding context is worthy of remark. ‘Giving attendance to reading,’ without active energy, would form a most incomplete and inefficient ministry. The want of exercise is as hurtful to the spiritual as to the bodily system; nor will ‘reading’ communicate any benefit, except its results are operative in Christian activity. Equally important is the combination with prayer. In fact, study, prayer, and exercise, may be said to form the minister. Study stores the mind, prayer infuses a divine influence, exercise carries out the resources into effective agency.” (Charles Bridges, The Christian Ministry, 63-64)

Christians should read the Bible, and many often do. However, how we read is more important than simply reading. How many of us are guilty of reading a passage in the morning and completely forgetting what we read by lunch? Are we truly exercising ourselves to godliness? Are we giving ourselves a good workout toward Christ-likeness?

What are some ways we can combat this? How can we exercise ourselves to godliness?

EXERCISE YOURSELF TO GODLINESS THROUGH ACTIVE READING

First, by being active in our reading. When we read we can ask questions, like:

  • Who is this passage talking about?
  • What is going on?
  • What is being said?
  • What does this passage teach me about God?

The questions could go on and on. Active reading can also take the shape of diagramming the verses. It can be jotting the main points down in the margin of the Bible or in a separate journal. Though the method may vary, the point is to be active.

EXERCISE YOURSELF TO GODLINESS THROUGH DIGESTION OF WHAT YOU ARE READING

In his book, Changed Into His Image, Dr. Jim Berg discusses the MAP method for meditating on Scripture. The “P” is “Personalize the passage.” (Jim Berg, Changed Into His Image, 298-299)

He goes on to write,

“Plan concrete changes in your life that are consistent with your understanding of the passage. Such plans would include schedules, steps, and details.” (Berg, Changed, 299)

Exercising yourself to godliness includes putting what you read into practice. When you read verses about praying, you change your habits of prayer to reflect what the Scriptures are teaching.

EXERCISE YOURSELF TO GODLINESS THROUGH CONSISTENCY

The analogy Mr. Bridges uses is one of physical exercise. The human body responds to exercise. When someone lifts weights, they tear down their muscles. During the healing process, the muscles become stronger in order to lift the weight effectively. Through continued weightlifting, the individual develops stronger muscles. He can now lift weights he was unable to do so previously.

If, however, he skips a few months, the weightlifter returns to square one. In a similar way (though not precisely), we need to exercise ourselves continually. We must consistently read, meditate, and apply Scripture in order to grow in godliness.

HOW ARE YOU DOING?

So, how are you doing? Are you exercising yourself to godliness? Are you actively reading God’s Word? Are you digesting what you are reading? Are you doing so consistently?

“What is Preaching?” by Ian Hamilton

I have been privileged to meet Ian Hamilton. He is a godly man, a gifted writer, and an excellent speaker. He is gracious as well. One of my favorite parts of Ian Hamilton is his prayers. However, in the monthly Banner of Truth Magazine, Mr. Hamilton asks and answers the question, “What is preaching?”

Of course, in these days, everyone has a variety of opinions on what preaching is. Hamilton offers five clarifications, based upon 2 Timothy 4:2, that I believe are helpful and needed.

“FIRST, PAUL HIGHLIGHTS THE ESSENTIAL CONTENT OF PREACHING”


Hamilton writes, “Many Christians are languishing spiritually because they are being starved of the teaching that alone can build them up in their most holy faith.” (2) This almost seems axiomatic, but sadly, it is not. Preaching is not about our lives, it is about Scripture’s implications for our lives. Preaching is not about stories, it is about the Story. Preaching must stem from God’s Word.

“SECOND, PAUL HIGHLIGHTS THE URGENT NATURE OF PREACHING”


Preaching should be urgent, because it is an eternal life-or-death matter. If people are to hear the Gospel, it must be preached with urgency. It is not story time with the preacher. It is preaching Christ, and Him crucified. Again, Hamilton offers stinging words, “Humour that is designed to put the hearers at their ease and placard the personality of the preacher should be avoided like the plague!” (5)

“THIRD, WHOEVER THEN IS CALLED, LIKE TIMOTHY, TO PREACH THE WORD IS TO DO SO NOT CASUALLY, FLIPPANTLY, DISPASSIONATELY


There is an inherent importance in preaching. If you were to browse through some of the more popular preachers today, you would find the exact opposite of this. Preachers will do all sorts of acrobatics and theatrics to help “bring home the message.” But this flippant manner demeans the glorious Gospel message.

“FOURTH, PAUL HIGHLIGHTS THE PRESSING PASTORAL APPLICATION THAT LIES AT THE HEART OF AUTHENTIC GOSPEL PREACHING”


Hamilton clarifies, “The ultimate aim in preaching the word is not merely to inform and educate the hearers’ minds, but to see their lives transformed increasingly into the likeness of the Lord Jesus Christ (Rom. 8:29, God’s ultimate purpose for his people.” (5)

Fifth (?) “IT IS ONLY TOO EASY TO BE DISTRACTED AND DIVERTED FROM THE WORK OF THE MINISTRY” (7)


I put a question mark on this one because it was not as clear. However, the point deserves to be included here due to its emphasis. The preacher’s work is ministry, and more than helping the homeless, meeting with people in the community, and other such duties, the preacher is first and foremost, a preacher.

Excerpts from The Banner of Truth Magazine, June 2018

I would encourage you to subscribe to The Banner of Truth magazine. This June 2018 edition is marvelous (as are all of them).

Helpful Resources for Longevity in Ministry

I have only been in ministry for a few years, but I am extremely blessed to have been connected with some helpful resources. Maybe you have been in ministry for many years, but you are experiencing difficult times. Or, like me, you have been in for 5-10 years. You may even be heading toward the ministry. Either way, we can all use these encouraging resources. Like piling wood for the cold months, stock pile these resources to keep your souls hot and your churches on fire.

9 Marks


9 Marks is a wonderful ministry with a variety of resources. Mark Dever has been working to help reform the church for over twenty years. His work, along with many other faithful men and women, has provided an abundance of resources (many of them free) dealing with a plethora of ministry issues.

One message, in particular, is Pray for Slow Growth, by Aaron Menikoff. In it he deals with reasons pastors and church leaders should actually pray for slow growth. If you are more of a reader, here is the article.

Desiring God


Much like 9 Marks, Desiring God, began by John Piper, is filled with many sermons, lectures, e-books, and articles. Each sermon contains a full-transcript, which allows easier consumption of more difficult concepts.

Banner of Truth


The Banner of Truth Trust is a wonderful provider of biblical books. I have yet to purchase a book from the Trust that is not worth its weight in gold (and I do mean this literally). In addition to providing excellent resources, they also host an annual conference (in the US) for the west and east coasts, respectively. I have been to two of them, and I always leave spiritually refreshed, challenged, and with an arm full of books!

 

There are numerous other resources that are available, and many of them are free. I am thankful that God provides such wisdom through gift men and women. May they be a blessing and encouragement to you.

3 Encouragements from God’s Sovereignty

Doctrine leads to practice. This is a truth that many in the church today have apparently forgotten. I have been sitting with fellow church members from various congregations who informed me that doctrine is boring, lifeless, and impractical. Like decorative pillows that are taken off before bed and placed back upon waking, people see doctrine in the same light.

I have also heard people, including pastors, say that theology and doctrine do not really matter. This, according to Scripture, is absurd. For the sake of space, we will simply look at one example. In 1 Corinthians 12:3, Paul writes, “Therefore I want you to understand that no one speaking in the Spirit of God ever says ‘Jesus is accursed!’ and no one can say ‘Jesus is Lord’ except in the Holy Spirit.” (ESV) Jesus is Lord is a doctrinal statement. Of course, there are contextual issues that are involved with Paul’s mentioning of this, but it illustrates that without doctrine, we have nothing.

Theology proper (that which focuses on God) tells us that God is omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent. This information is gleaned from the sacred Scriptures. But this information, or doctrine, has profound implications. If God has all-power, there is no problem that you and I will face that He is unable to address. If God is omniscient, then there is nothing of which God does not have full and exact knowledge. If God is omnipresent, then you and I are never truly alone.

Doctrine leads to practice. And doctrine is practical. God’s sovereignty is blissfully practical. I want to focus on three ways, and I hope this accomplishes two goals:

  1. To increase your desire to learn the doctrines of the Bible
  2. To increase your awareness of the practicality of doctrine

 

GOD’S SOVEREIGNTY MEANS THAT NOTHING HAPPENS BY ACCIDENT


Now, this has enormous applications, some that are easy to believe and some that, beyond God’s grace, are incomprehensible.

The psalmist declares,

Our God is in the heavens;

he does all that he please. (Psalm 115:3, ESV)

There is so much more the Scriptures say about God’s sovereignty. Check out this free resource at Monergism.

This verse, along with other Scripture, teaches us that God is in control of every particle of creation, orchestrating all things for His glory and the believer’s good (Romans 8:28). John Calvin states, “Not even a drop of rain falls without His express command.” (Calvin, Institutes)

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Photo by JESHOOTS.COM on Unsplash

On Monday morning when your alarm clock fails to go off, God is in control. When your child breaks in the middle of the bike path causing you to bang your knee in an effort not to run him over, God is in control. When you sit through the stop light, again, God is in control. When the doctor brings you bad news, God is in control. 

The beautiful part of God’s sovereignty, however, is not just that nothing happens by accident.

GOD’S SOVEREIGNTY IS DISPLAYED BY THE MOST GRACIOUS BEING


That God is sovereign is sweetly displayed throughout all of Scripture. That God is also a gracious and good God is also displayed. John records of God, “God is love.” (1 John 4:8, ESV) Moses beautifully describes God as

“…a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness…” (Exodus 34:6, ESV)

If God were just sovereign, we might have reason to fear. For a human example, if Adolf Hitler had unlimited power, imagine what destruction he would reign all over the earth. And if God were sovereign, but also evil, we would be in unimaginable trouble. But God is kind, He is gracious, He abounds in steadfast love and faithfulness.

This means that on Monday morning when your alarm clock fails to go off, God is gracious. Perhaps He is preventing you from leaving on time, avoiding a fatal accident. When your child breaks in the middle of the bike path causing you to bang your knee in an effort not to run him over, God is gracious. Perhaps God is allowing this instance to come into your life in order to conform you into the image of His most patient Son, Jesus Christ. When you sit through the stop light, again, God is gracious. Maybe God knows that a certain song that will speak truth and encouragement into your life will come on before you get to school. When the doctor brings you bad news, God is gracious. It is possible that God knows that the only way you can grow closer to Him is to work through that medical issue.

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Flowers offer a beautiful display of God’s goodness. He could have made flowers unpleasing to the eyes, unpleasant to the nose, and unhelpful to the bees. But the variety, beautiful, and intricacies of the flowers are only one display of His sovereign goodness.

Do you see just how awesome doctrine is? This can transform your life! That nothing happens by accident, and that all things are orchestrated by the most benevolent Being have enormous implications. But there is one final point that I want to draw out from this doctrine.

GOD’S SOVEREIGNTY MEANS THAT, EVEN IN THE MIDST OF THE MOST UNIMAGINABLE PAIN, GOD IS STILL SOVEREIGN


I must admit, that I have had a great life. God has been so good to me. I grew up in a loving family. I married the most amazing woman in the history of our planet. I have three of the most precious children in the world. And I was born in Texas.

A few years ago my wife and I happily found out we were pregnant. However, upon our first visit, our little baby was measuring smaller than the baby should have been. The doctor informed us that this does not mean that something is wrong, but she also mentioned that it was not good.

At the next appointment, the doctor informed us that the baby would not make it to full term. We were devastated. At this point, we had two healthy children, and the idea that we might lose a baby had never entered into our minds. You can imagine the questions that raced through our minds. How could God let this happen? Why is God doing this to us? We love our children, doesn’t He know that we will take Good care of that baby?

It was a difficult time in our life. But God was gracious to us. He provided comfort in a way that exceeds our comprehension. The truth of Romans 8:28 was a constant retreat from the devastation. Consider some of the most encouraging words penned by Paul,

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28, ESV)

This verse teaches us that God works all things for good. It does not say that we will understand how it works for good. One account I constantly returned to was Joseph’s life. Imagine the questions he must have had. Sold by his brothers, lied about and punished for a sin he never committed, Joseph must have constantly asked God why? But when you read Joseph’s summary, Joseph’s belief in the sovereignty of God was a rock of comfort. Joseph tells his brothers,

Do not fear, for am I in the place of God? As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today. (Genesis 50:19-20)

Joseph did not know why he was going through what he did. But his belief in the sovereignty of God voided his need to know why because he knew Who. Perhaps you are in the midst of a suffering that many people cannot fathom. Dive into the deep love and sovereignty of God. You may never know why, but you can rest in Him. God’s truth is foundation upon which we can rest.

CONCLUSION


Doctrine leads to practice. It changes the way we think, speak, and live. God’s sovereignty is a doctrine in the Scriptures. Search them, learn about God’s control of everything. Meditate on the truth that God is a good God. And resolve to trust God more than your desire to know why. Doctrine leads to practice. And the doctrine of God’s sovereignty leads to a peace that passes our understanding.