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Is God ALWAYS in control?
Isaiah 53:6 All we like sheep have gone astray; We have
turned, every one, to his own way; And the LORD has laid on Him the
iniquity of us all.
We who are believers in the Lord, believe that God is
omnipotent (all powerful), omniscient (all knowing) and omnipresent
(everywhere present). As a result, when bad things happen and sometimes
when good things happen we tend to say, "I am glad that I know that
God is in control." We also say, "There is no such thing as an
accident with God." The presumption is that if God is God, He has
everything managed and planned and nothing can turn aside His plans. Is
that ALWAYS TRUE?
are two words in particular that make me pause when I think of God
always having everything under control. One is the word "sin."
The other is the word "long-suffering." Sin is basically
disobedience. Sin can be not doing what the God has asked us to do or it
can be doing what the Lord has asked us not to do. The first is a sin of
omission and the second is a sin of commission. When people are sinning,
is God in control? I would say no. Our verse says we have gone astray
and we have turned to our own way, it does not say that God caused us to
disobey and go our own way.
Our verse really has to do with the disobedience of Israel
but it applies to all of us. Sin came into the world through Satan who
beguiled Eve and who shared her sin with her husband. When Adam and Eve
and all of creation was finished, it was "very good." Sin is
not only not "very good," it is evil. So did God create sin?
No! Did God allow sin? Yes! Did God who is all knowing get caught by
surprise by sin? No! That is why God has always provided for the blood
sacrifice of animals to prefigure the way He would put away sin at the
cross. That is why the Lord could say prophetically, "And the LORD
has laid on Him (that is on Christ) the iniquity of us all."
While God did not
cause sin and while sinners are not under Godís control when they are
sinning, can God use sin to glorify Himself? Yes! If Adam and Eve had
not sinned, humanity would never have known about divine love which is
the love for the unlovable. Humanity would never have known how far God
would go to forgive our sin. Mankind would never have known about Godís
"long-suffering." In 1 Timothy 1:16 Paul says, " However,
for this reason I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might
show all longsuffering, as a pattern to those who are going to believe
on Him for everlasting life." Long-suffering is the patient
endurance of lasting offense. In 2 Peter 3:9, Peter reminds us that God
is long-suffering because He is not willing that any should perish. He
is withholding the fulfillment of His prophetic promises because He
still wants to save some. Thank the Lord that He did not come before I
trusted in the Lord. The Lord was long-suffering to me, to others, and
He is long-suffering to the nation of Israel. Does that mean that He can
be charged with causing all the sin that He is being long-suffering
toward? No! Does that mean that there are limits as to how far sinners
can go and as to how long-suffering the Lord is? Yes!
What does God
There are things
that the Lord did and does have completely under control. His prophetic
plan concerning the coming of the Lord into this world was completely
planned. It was completely under His control. There are certain things
with regard to the affairs of the nations that seem out of control but
that I believe are completely "in control." But one thing I
know, even as a Christian I am told to be "filled" or
"completely controlled" by the Holy Spirit. This command would
not have to be given if each of us was totally "filled" much
like a hand puppet is filled by the hand of the puppeteer who controls
the puppets movements and speech. In addition, we are told to present
our bodies as living sacrifices (Romans 12:1). Obviously, we arenít
always acting like living sacrifices and when we fail, I donít think
we can say that we are being controlled by the Holy Spirit and that God
is at fault.
God could micromanage everything but He has chosen to test
manís sense and loyalty by not doing that. I believe that God is not
willing that any should perish and yet many will perish. I believe that
they will have only themselves to blame I believe that those who perish
will finally have to take responsibility for their own sin and they will
not be able to blame others or God for their unbelief. Yes, God is in
ultimately in control but that does not mean that He can or should be
blamed for all the bad things that happen in this world.
Now are there such things as accidents? We had a bad one at
the end of this last year and I can see good coming out of it. But did
God cause it? Did He preplan it? I am still pondering that.
for the week of April 6, 2014
Godís Dear, Precious,
Special, Unique and Only Son!
Luke 9: 35 And
a voice came out of the cloud, saying, "This is My beloved Son.
A person could be known in a
lot of different ways in this life. Some want to be known as President,
some as CEO, some as rich, and some as intelligent. But there is nothing
quite like being known as "beloved." This a term of endearment
that implies a unique special quality of love. This person is precious
to the one who is calling him or her beloved. In some cases even the
adjective beloved isnít enough and the person is called well-beloved.
Such was Godís relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ.
Godís introduction of His Son
When the Lord was baptized, in
a sense God the Father introduced Him to the world then since He began
his three and one-half years of public ministry at that time. In Luke
3:22 we read, "And the Holy Spirit descended in bodily form like a
dove upon Him, and a voice came from heaven which said, "You are My
beloved Son; in You I am well pleased."" Later on the mount of
transfiguration the Lord is again presented as the beloved Son. Luke
records the event in Luke 9:35 which says, "And a voice came out of
the cloud, saying, "This is My beloved Son. Hear Him!"" I
believe that the mount of transfiguration gives us a glimpse of what
heaven is like. I believe that God will always keep us reminded of the
preciousness to the Lord Jesus to Him; and, thus to those of us who are
there. No one who thinks that they earned a spot in heaven by something
that they have done could possibly appreciate the preciousness of the
Lord, Godís beloved Son. Those people are occupied with themselves and
with what they have done and not with the Lord and with what He has
done. But those of us who know we donít deserve to be there will truly
appreciate how "beloved" this "well-beloved" Son was
and is. We are the only ones who will be able to truly understand the
magnitude of the love demonstrated to us in that while we were still
sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8). Our occupation throughout
eternity will be with Him.
The Old Testament Example
In Genesis 22, we have God
asking Abraham (the father) to offer Isaac (the unique well-beloved Son)
as a burnt offering to God. Isaac had been born after both his mother
and father should have been able to have children. He was not only a son
of Abrahamís old age, but he was a son of promise. He was born as a
result of a miracle by God. He was the son who was the basis of future
promised blessing to Abraham. But God tested Abraham to see if he would
willingly offer him as a sacrifice to God. Abraham was willing; and, of
course, God provided a substitute for Isaac so that Isaac was not slain.
We know from Hebrews 11:19 that Abraham had expected Isaac to be raised
from the dead, but still this was a real trial when we consider the love
of Abraham for Isaac. God says that Abraham loved Isaac. Those of us who
have sons and daughters know what that bond of love is like. So it was a
very difficult thing that God was asking of Abraham. This helps us
understand from a human point-of-view how difficult it must have been
for God to "give His only begotten Son that whoever believes in Him
should not perish (John 3:16)."
The Blessing Extends to New
When Paul addresses the Romans
he does it this way, "To all who are in Rome, beloved of
God, called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and
the Lord Jesus Christ (Romans 1:7)." The saints or holy ones in
Rome were beloved of God. Certainly, if God "so loved" the
world that He was willing to give His unique Son as the sacrifice for
our sins, then those who trust His Son and respect that sacrifice must
be precious to Him as well. The only way a sinner can truly honor the
Son in whom God is well-pleased is by simply trusting Him. When we trust
the Son that God finds dear or precious, then God finds us dear or
precious. That is a wonderful truth.
The Preeminence of Christ
We know that the Old Testament
tells us that Christ is coming. The New Testament tells us that Christ
came and is coming again. But while Christ is the anointed One of God
who came to earth to fulfill a mission and to fulfill prophecy, yet this
anointed one of God is Godís beloved Son. God can seem aloof and
abstract to me. The truth about Christ can seem deep and academic to me.
But the truth that the Lord was Godís beloved Son presents the Gospel
in a way that touches me. I can identify with the concept of a beloved
Son. I can understand how it must hurt God when people despise and
reject His son. Looking at the beloved Son as a father would, I can also
understand why those who reject this beloved Son have the wrath of God
abiding on them (John 3:26).
for the week of April 13, 2014
24:39 ďBehold My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself. Handle Me and
see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see I have.Ē
things are hard to believe. People
have a hard time believing that a great fish swallowed Jonah.
Some have trouble with the story of Noah and the flood.
Others deny the reality of God being THEIR creator.
But nearly all of us have to admit that the idea of resurrection
sort of boggles the mind.
Lazarus died, his sisters and even the Jews believed that if the Lord
had been there, Lazarus would not have died.
They had confidence in the Lordís ability to keep people from
dying, but they did not believe in the Lordís power to overcome death
itself. In Lazarusí case,
he had been dead four days when the Lord called him forth from the
grave. Apparently, there was
no doubt that it was Lazarus. Seeing
him must have been one of those Ah-ha moments in their lives.
Ah! The Lord really is the resurrection and the life!
The Raising of the Lord
you have trouble really believing in the Lordís resurrection, you are
not alone. The apostles and
those closest to the Lord had trouble believing in the resurrection as
well. They had been told on
numerous occasions that the Lord would be crucified and then raised from
the dead. Luke 18:31-32
says, ďThen He took the twelve aside and said to them, ďBehold, we
are going up to Jerusalem, and all things that are written by the
prophets concerning the Son of Man will be accomplished. For He will be
delivered to the Gentiles and will be mocked and insulted and spit upon.
They will scourge Him and kill Him. And the third day He will rise again.íĒ
This was written in the Old Testament and yet they didnít
believe or understand this. So
the Lord took time to convince them after the resurrection that it was
He Himself that had been raised from the dead.
They were not seeing a vision or an apparition or a prophet or a
wise man or an angel. They
were seeing Him.
Magdalene had her ah-ha moment when she heard his voice, Thomas had to
see the nail prints in his hands and the wound in His side.
He told the disciple to handle Him and see because a spirit does
not have a body like he had. He
ate with them. Whether this
was the body that the Lord will have in heaven remains to be seen.
In this body, He does not mention blood, only flesh and bones. In
this body he could appear in their midst miraculously.
However, his earthly body had not seen corruption. I believe,
this was His earthly body and that He used His body to prove to the
disciples that the resurrection was real.
Whether this was His earthly body that had been raised from the
dead or whether this was the body He will have in heaven is really not
important. What is important
is that this body convinced those ďhard to believeĒ disciples that
this was the Lord Himself that they were seeing.
He was risen!
disciples and the women who came to the tomb had to see to believe.
The Lord loved them and made sure that they saw HIM so that they
would be blessed with the complete Gospel message. Their sorrow was
turned to joy. The
cornerstone truth of the Gospel is that Christ has risen and is coming
again. But knowing the
difficulty humans have in believing what is not usual or logical, the
Lord says to Thomas in John 20:29, ďThomas, because you have seen Me,
you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet
Thank God, I am one of those who have not
seen and yet have believed. But
because I have believed, I DO see or understand.
I remember when I had an AH-HA moment and trusted the Lord.
for the week of April 20, 2014
Am I a True Friend?
2 Samuel 15:37
So Hushai, David's friend, went into the city. And Absalom came into
David had sinned He had
confessed that sin, and the Lord had forgiven him. However, He told
David that there would be earthly consequences to murdering Uriah so he
could have his wife. When Absalom decides to rebel against David and
tries to take the kingdom, I am sure David realized this was happening
because of his sin. Absalom was a beautiful cunning man. He reminds us
of our real enemy Satan, doesnít he? David is forced to flee
Jerusalem, but he is willing to put Himself into the hands of the Lord.
He trusted the Lord to deal with him in a right way. I find three people
to be interesting studies as Absalom rebels and David flees. One is
Ahithophel, one is Hushai and one is Joab.
was a wise counselor, but he was also Bathshebaís grandfather.
(Compare 2 Samuel 11:3 and 2 Samuel 23:34). It appears that he had not
forgiven David and held a grudge. He sided with Absalom apparently
thinking that now David would get what he deserved. In his advice to
Absalom, he wanted to destroy David but not Davidís army, and he
wanted to do it in battle. That is the way David had destroyed Bathshebaís
husband Uriah. While Ahithophelís attitude is understandable, he only
destroyed himself by not forgiving David. When his counsel was not
followed, he went home and hanged himself.
was Davidís friend. He had Davidís back, that is, he protected him
even though he likely knew all about Davidís failures. He was loyal.
That is what having a friend is all about. They may rebuke you, they may
disagree with you, but they stick by you and defend you against those
who are not your friends. A true friend is a friend at all times. (See
Proverbs 17:17). Hushai was a friend to David.
was one of Davidís generals. He was related to David, but Joab was
self-willed and self-centered. He was also cruel, and he was strong.
David admitted that Joab and his brothers were two strong for him, that
is, he could not control him. David wanted Joab to do his best to
preserve the life of Absalom, but Joab thought he was doing David a
great service when he disobeyed and killed Absalom. Another soldier
could have killed Absalom but didnít because he heard David command
Joab to deal with Absalom kindly. Joab told that soldier that he would
have rewarded him if he had killed Absalom when he had the chance. That
soldier had Joabís number and told him that he knew Joab wouldnít
have rewarded him. He knew that David would find out, and he would be
called to account by David for disobeying. When that happened, he knew
Joab would not have his back. (See 2 Samuel 18:13). Joab was all about
do we Treat the Lord?
we think of David, we like to see him as a picture of Christ in his
humiliation and rejection. Of course, Christ did not sin while David did
so in that respect the picture fails. But we do have to ask ourselves,
"What kind of friends are we to the Lord?" Are we grudge
bearers? Do we use the Lord to promote our own "ministries"
and "businesses" and "positions?" Or are we true
loyal friends of the Lord? Do we have His back when He is stigmatized
and criticized? Do we do what He wants us to do even when it isnít
what we want to do?
do we Treat One Another?
know that the whole of the moral law is summarized by loving God and
loving one another. I have been looking at these three characters in
relationship to loving God but we should also consider them in
relationship to loving one another. Normally when we talk to people
about this issue, they say, "I wish I had one friend like Hushai."
But the better question is, "Have I ever been a friend like Hushai?"
Have I been that kind of friend to the Lord? Have I ever been that kind
of friend to another person? That is a searching question as far as I am
for the week of April 23, 2014