National Sovereignty and God – Nehemiah 13:1-3

It Is Not In The Best Interest Of A Nation To Allow Those Who Hate The Nation And Its People To Dwell Among Them

1 On that day the Book of Moses was read aloud in the hearing of the people and there it was found written that no Ammonite or Moabite should ever be admitted into the assembly of God, 2 because they had not met the Israelites with food and water but had hired Balaam to call a curse down on them. (Our God, however, turned the curse into a blessing.) 3 When the people heard this law, they excluded from Israel all who were of foreign descent.

Enlighten Everyone

My people are destroyed from lack of knowledge

There has been a great disservice done to the people of the United States of America.  In an attempt to socially engineer an entire generation of people to forget and reject their country’s past as evil and antiquated, for years educators have been excluding the founding documents of the nation from the public instruction of the children.  These documents shed light on the foundation of the nation, as provided by the Lord God Almighty Himself, and provides the basis for which the nation has since been, for the most part, a place where people who yearned to be free from the oppression of tyrants and religious persecution to come and live without the fear of repercussion the practice of hard work and righteousness.  That era has passed, and now even their children have been deprived of the knowledge of what led to the formation of the nation, as well as the character and intent of the founders of the nation.

In this passage, the Israelites had listened to the reading of the word of God.  It is critical that we know our founding documents and laws.  For the Israelites, it was the word of God.  As disciples of Christ, it is STILL the word of God.  We are strangers in this world.  As inhabitants in a strange land, we have an obligation to follow the rules of the land where they do not conflict with the word of God.

But how can you follow the rules of the land if you do not know what they are?

How can you know if the leaders of the nation are following the rules of the land if you do not know what they are?

The Israelites, after learning again what was in the law of God, realized that they were not following God’s law, and attempted to make the necessary changes to begin to follow what God had required of them.

Unconditionally Unite

One of the first things that they did was to recognize that the word of God had authority in their lives.  We too must realize that not only does the word of God have authority in our lives, but that the leaders placed over us have implemented laws to help govern us in our day to day actions.  And while not every rule of man is righteous, every directive of God in His word IS righteous.

The people in Jerusalem at that time united together.  They had several common bonds:

  • Genetic ancestry (they were all family through Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob)
  • Geographic residency (they were living in Israel, specifically in Jerusalem)
  • Godly instruction (the word of God was their law)

United we stand, divided we fall – Aesop

It is important that the people of a nation be in agreement with the laws of that nation.  In the case of the United States of America, no one has a gun pointed at their heads instructing the people that they may not freely move nor forbid them to leave to go elsewhere.  They live there by choice.  If people live in a nation by choice, should they not unite in agreement with the laws that govern how they are to behave in that country?

Practice what you Preach

For the disciple of Christ, it is imperative that we practice what we preach.  Hypocrisy is a terrible sin and a temptation that each of us faces each and every day as we are presented with the challenges of life.  Joseph faced grave consequences for upholding the law of God when Potiphar’s wife attempted to seduce him and he declined.  We too must take the time first to know the law, to obey the law (where it is not in direct contradiction to God’s law), and to not only obey the law, but encourage and exhort our leaders to do the same.

The laws of men are not perfect, but should be in place to protect the citizens of that nation from the harm that happens when sinful people seek to take advantage of, harm, impede, or otherwise cause damage to others.  If we do not follow the laws set before us, are we not being hypocrites?  In the United States of America, the people there have the ability to change the law.  This is both a blessing and a curse.  It is a blessing when an unjust law is changed so that the people can live in peace and freedom.  It is a curse when evil people seek to impose their will upon others by getting into the positions of power that permit them to manipulate the switches and levers of power to their own benefit rather than the freedom of their people.

The law of God is clear and concise.  It is not written in legalism, wrapped in an enigma, and shrouded in mystery.  It is plain and easy for all who read it to understand it.  So it should be with the laws of men.

In the case of the Israelites, the word of God told them to exclude the Ammonites and Moabites from them because they had not helped the Israelites in their time of need, but intended harm to the Israelites, even hiring Balaam to curse them.  In the same manner, nations should be permitted to exclude those people who ignore and refuse to respect the laws of that nation who are seeking entrance to live in that nation.

These people intend harm to the people of the nation; for if they are unwilling to submit themselves to the laws of the nation through the established processes that the nation has set for entry into the land, they certainly will ignore any other aspect of that nation’s laws when it conflicts with their own interests.  Such people are to be considered dangerous, and are to be excluded from the possibility of ever being permitted entrance into the nation, even for the purposes of visiting.  The Israelites took action, and excluded those foreigners from among them.  Nations who have leaders who are wise should consider doing the same.

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask a question:  Do I take the time to know the laws of my nation?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, Thank You for Your word.  Thank You for freeing me from the bondage of sin.  Thank You for Your great mercy and compassion.  Thank You for being holy and righteous in all that You do.  Help me to better understand Your word so that I may live in a manner that better glorifies Your name.  Help me to understand the laws of my nation so that I may obey them and thus bring glory to Your name.  Help me to encourage the leaders of my nation to obey the laws of the land and act in righteousness towards all.  Give me the courage to do so, even if doing so may bring about my imprisonment or death.  Help me to fear no man, but only to fear You, Lord God Almighty.  Grant me the strength and courage to live a life that loves my neighbor, but doesn’t excuse or ignore their evil.  Help me to stand up to wickedness through righteousness as You empower me to do so.  Give me the words to say to all who ask why I do this.  Remember me today, Oh God, as I seek to step out for You.  This I ask in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?

 

 

National Sovereignty and God – Revelation 21:10-12,25-27

God Reserves The Right To Exclude Those Who Can Enter His City

10 And he carried me away in the Spirit to a mountain great and high, and showed me the Holy City, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God. 11 It shone with the glory of God, and its brilliance was like that of a very precious jewel, like a jasper, clear as crystal. 12 It had a great, high wall with twelve gates, and with twelve angels at the gates. On the gates were written the names of the twelve tribes of Israel…25 On no day will its gates ever be shut, for there will be no night there. 26 The glory and honor of the nations will be brought into it. 27 Nothing impure will ever enter it, nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life.

Why Walls?

Many have wondered why, if we are all created equal and in the image of God, we should build walls, defenses, obstructions, barriers, or any other kind of impediment to people who wish to enter the borders of a nation.  For example, let’s choose a nation in particular, the United States of America.

The President of this nation as of this writing, Donald J. Trump, has made the very bold suggestion that a wall be built to separate the national borders between itself and its Southern neighbor, the country of Mexico.  Many have spoken out and said that building walls to keep people out of a country is RACIST, BIGOTED, and ANTIQUATED.

Yet, we see that GOD HIMSELF has built walls for His city, The New Jerusalem.  Let’s take a moment to look at the CHARACTER of God to see if God is RACIST, BIGOTED, and ANTIQUATED:

  • Is God RACIST?
    • There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.Galatians 3:28
    • Here there is no Gentile or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all. Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. – Colossians 3:11-12
  • Is God BIGOTED?
    • And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved; for on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there will be deliverance, as the Lord has said, even among the survivors whom the Lord calls. – Joel 2:32
    • And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself. – John 12:32
    • For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. – John 3:16
    • You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. – Jeremiah 29:13
    • But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything done in it will be laid bare. – 2 Peter 3:8-10
  • Is God ANTIQUATED?
    • All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness – 2 Timothy 3:16
    • What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun. – Ecclesiastes 1:9
    • He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything [continually*] new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” – Revelation 21:5

These are just a few passages from God’s holy word about HIS character.  From what can be gleaned here, it would not appear that God is RACIST, BIGOTED, nor ANTIQUATED.  If that is the case, then building a wall around a sovereign area is NOT RACIST, NOT BIGOTED, and NOT ANTIQUATED. Therefore, when a leader of a nation, such as Donald J. Trump, POTUS, desires to build a wall around a sovereign nation, he is not RACIST, BIGOTED, nor ANTIQUATED (for wanting to build a wall around the sovereign nation that God has appointed him in his position of governance).

These arguments are instead a deceitful, emotionally charged, slanderous and/or libelous attempt to defraud, defame, and otherwise impugn the character of a leader of a nation for the purposes of influencing public opinion on a particular subject.  This type of distraction is very effective when directed towards people who have been trained to think with their emotions rather than logical and ethical/moral reasoning.

Guardians at the Gates?

God has placed angels at the gates.  The word angel is used to denote a messenger.  But angels have had specific duties in addition to delivering messages to people.  Usually these involve protection, or destruction.  In this case, although the Bible does not clearly say so, it is most likely protection (when taken together with the verses that are after it).  Why place guardians at the gates of your city?  Should we not allow EVERYONE to have complete, unrestricted, access the city, its people, and it treasures?

Access Allowed?

God has, in His sovereign decree, restricted access to His holy city, The New Jerusalem, to ONLY those who names are written in the Book of Life.  By sovereign decree, God is specifically EXCLUDING some who may desire to enter His city.

Viable Vetting?

God is in the process of vetting those who can access the city.  For instance, only those whose names are written in the Book of Life can enter.  So, what is the exclusionary criteria for barring entry into the city?

  • impurity
  • shameful acts
  • deceitfulness

Why would God specifically exclude anything impure, or shameful, or deceitful?  After all, isn’t God “inclusive” and “wanting everyone to come to Him” and “wanting no one to perish”?  Why would God NOT allow some people access to the city?  What possible motivation could God have that would even place the thought of being “EXCLUSIVE” into His thinking?

  • God is HOLY
  • God is RIGHTEOUS
  • God is PURE

God cannot stand wickedness in His presence.  God’s very nature abhors that which is antithetical to the truth.  And those who cannot accept that there is truth (a measurable and quantifiable definition of the absolute nature of reality) will not understand the concepts of HOLY, RIGHTEOUS, and PURE, because to them, these are all RELATIVE TO THE PERSPECTIVE OF THE PERSON VIEWING THEM, rather than objective and concrete and universal.  Sin is like yeast.  It alters and distorts that which it comes in contact with.

“A little yeast works through the whole batch of dough.”

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask a question:  Do leaders have the right to impose restrictions of entry to people within the sovereign borders of their nations?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, You are merciful and gracious.  Yet You are also holy, righteous, and pure.  Thank You for having the iron fist with the velvet glove.  Blessed be Your name.  You and You alone are able to completely, without error, rule in correct judgment all created things, including me.  Help me to understand Your position on National Sovereignty.  If my views do not align with Your views, please change my heart to align with Your heart.  Break down every stronghold in my mind that the world, the flesh, and the devil have erected to stand in opposition to Your revealed word.  Help me to embrace Your character and Your heart, that I may draw closer to You as the last day approaches.  Help me witness with my actions, but more importantly, with my words, about who You are and what You believe.  Strengthen me as I encounter opposition to You and Your word.  Remember me in my efforts to faithfully tell about Your Son and what He has done for everyone.  This I ask in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?


Notes: This blog has been edited for clarity

*The Greek verb here for making, poiO, does not have a direct English single-word translation.  Strong’s notes on this verb indicate that it is:

  • apparently a prolonged form of an obsolete primary;
  • to make or do (in a very wide application, more or less direct).

The implication is that God will, for all eternity, be making His creation continually new.  Imagine being in a finite place that never changes and is always the same.  Many people call that JAIL.  God, understanding that He has imbued us with His creativity and curiosity, will be forever subtly or drastically altering the very Universe He created so that we will not become bored.  His glory, majesty, power, and dominion will be continually demonstrated and experienced by us for all eternity.

God is Sovereign – Isaiah 40:21-24

God Is Responsible For Installing Rulers Among Men As Well As Removing Them

21 Do you not know?
Have you not heard?
Has it not been told you from the beginning?
Have you not understood since the earth was founded?
22 He sits enthroned above the circle of the earth,
and its people are like grasshoppers.
He stretches out the heavens like a canopy,
and spreads them out like a tent to live in.
23 He brings princes to naught
and reduces the rulers of this world to nothing.
24 No sooner are they planted,
no sooner are they sown,
no sooner do they take root in the ground,
than he blows on them and they wither,
and a whirlwind sweeps them away like chaff.

Forgotten Foundations

When events in our lives trigger great emotional distress, we are often at risk of forgetting our foundational beliefs.  For many people, the recent election of Donald J. Trump to the office of President of the United States has caused great anguish.  It was reported that upon hearing the news, many people wept openly and bitterly.  Others cheered and rejoiced.  Both were emotional responses to a desired outcome that either was fulfilled or frustrated.

When we experience this type of deep emotional response to something, we should take a step back, and check it against our core values.  We should then ask ourselves some questions:

  1. Why am I feeling this way?
  2. How should I respond?
  3. What is God doing?

In our emotional condition, we can often forget a most important aspect about God – that He is Sovereign.

Supreme Sovereignty

God is seated on His throne in Heaven.  He and He alone is sovereign over all of the universe.  God is the one who raises rulers up and takes rulers downThere is no authority on Earth except that which is established by God, either currently ruling, in training to rule, or being removed from their rule.

Disciples of Christ have a tendency to forget that we are merely ambassadors for Christ here on earth; our true home is in Heaven with Jesus.  And while the world around us is amazed and bewildered by the seemingly random and odd circumstances that they find themselves in, disciples of Christ should realize that God is sovereign, He has a plan, He is working His plan, and we have nothing to fear because God works out everything to good for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose.

Royals Removed

God is the one who topples rulers.  We are like a mist; here for a short while, and then gone.  There is no position of authority that we place men and women in rule above us that is not overseen by God. We think that because we have voted someone in or out of office, or they have been assassinated, or they are disgraced, that somehow we have done these things.  It is instead God who has allowed them to happen.  Nothing happens in this universe without the express prior knowledge and approval of God.

To think that we are solely responsible for the removal of persons in power is mere arrogance and pride.  God is able to protect His rulers from all harm and evil if it suits His purposes.  It was said that the American Indians realized that George Washington was blessed and approved by the Great Spirit.  Indian warriors of renown who never missed their prey with their arrows reported that their aim was true when they would fire upon Washington, but the arrows would not find their mark.  Even now, shells fired from rockets that get through the Iron Dome in Israel are sometimes blown out to sea by great winds that suddenly arise after the shells penetrate Israel’s defensive perimeter (much to the chagrin of those who fire them at Israel).

Deep Distraction

God’s people have allowed politics to cloud their vision of Him, His power, His will, and His way.  Many disciples of Christ set their hopes, fortunes, paths, and joy on the outcome of elections rather than the goodness, mercy, grace, holiness, and righteousness of God.  We place God in a second-tier position, as though God is the one who is responsible for executing our commands and fulfilling our every desire.

We treat God like a genie, and send prayers up to God (“rub the genie’s bottle”) every time we need something, only to shove the genie back in the bottle and cork it when we have our wish and don’t need Him anymore in our lives.  We relegate God to our slave and desire Him to only be sovereign in our lives when WE want something changed.

We have forgotten that God is sovereign.  We weep and wail when we don’t get our way.  James gently chides us for this:

1 What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? 2 You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. 3 You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions. 4 You adulterous people!  Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. 5 Or do you suppose it is to no purpose that the Scripture says, “He yearns jealously over the spirit that he has made to dwell in us”? 6 But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” 7 Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8 Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. 9 Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. 10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.

Instead of sorrow at our circumstances, or who is pulling the switches and levers of power in this Earthly realm, let us set our eyes upon Him who is in the Heavenly realm, and petition Him according to His will.  Let us submit ourselves to God, resist the devil, and watch as the enemy flees*.  Let us rejoice that our Creator is in charge, and that leaders come and go at His behest.  Let us set our hearts upon the commission that we have received, and let God take care of our provision and care.

Was God able to rescue Joseph from the hands of his brothers and Potiphar?  Was God able to rescue Daniel from the lion’s den?  Was God able to rescue Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego from the flaming furnace?  Was God able to rescue Peter from being chained in jail with guards?  Was God able to rescue Paul from those who sought his death?  Was God able to rescue Jesus Christ from eternal death?   If He is able to do that for them, why would you think that He is unable to do that for you?

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask a question:  Am I more concerned about politics or God’s will?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, You and You alone are sovereign over all.  Help me to remember that I am merely a visitor here on Earth, and that my place is with Christ in Heaven.  Help me to have a proper perspective on all that occurs in life, so that I may not be shaken or swayed when events do not go my way, and especially when then do go my way.  Father, help me to have a heart that is always centered on You, and to accept Your sovereign rule in the lives of men.  Give me peace in the choices that You make in the rulers over my life, and help me to be a faithful witness of Your Son regardless of the circumstances I find myself in.  This I ask in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?


Notes: This blog was edited for spelling errors.

  • Jesus was comforted by angels after his encounter with Satan in the desert.  When we submit ourselves to God (the rest of these sequence of events is PREDICATED upon this primary principle), resist the devil (which may come at a very high cost in money, emotional distress, and/or difficult circumstances), it is only then that he will flee.  Don’t think that this is going to be easy.  You have signed up for a war.  Many of the combatants don’t even know they are engaged in it.  Be wary, and listen to your Commander-in-Chief, who will provide all necessary instruction to win the battles (Jesus already won the war on the cross…).

The Sovereignty of God – Psalm 104:10-16

God’s Love Is Displayed In His Sovereign Provision

10 He makes springs pour water into the ravines;
it flows between the mountains.
11 They give water to all the beasts of the field;
the wild donkeys quench their thirst.
12 The birds of the sky nest by the waters;
they sing among the branches.
13 He waters the mountains from his upper chambers;
the land is satisfied by the fruit of his work.
14He makes grass grow for the cattle,
and plants for people to cultivate-
bringing forth food from the earth:
15 wine that gladdens human hearts,
oil to make their faces shine,
and bread that sustains their hearts.
16 The trees of the Lord are well watered,
the cedars of Lebanon that he planted.

Sprouting Springs

Water is an interesting substance.  It sustains life through hydration.  When heated, it can be used to generate electricity, and when frozen, it is the only substance known to mankind that expands in size, rather than contract into a smaller space.  By forming ice, God protects the creatures beneath the seas and oceans from being crushed beneath the very fluid that enables them to survive.  Ice also protects the waters beneath from the ravages of cold weather.  Even the Eskimos use ice to protect themselves from the harsh winter winds.

Water apparently has a mind of its own.  In Genesis, we see the waters covering the face of the Earth.  It is not until the Lord God Almighty tells it that it must recede that it goes where it should underground.  It is the Lord who determines where the boundaries of the waters are by saying where they can go and go no farther.  Wisdom bears witness to the sovereign creation of God, and that God has set boundaries on the waters of the Earth.

And it is God who brings forth water from the Earth to provide for all of creation.

Creatures Content

The beasts of the field are provided with the liquid that keeps them alive.  The birds above build their nests around water to ensure that they have easy access to the life-sustaining liquid.  God shows his love by providing for the needs of every creature on Earth.  He does not withhold his blessing upon them, except when He is rebuking man through drought.

Even creatures in the desert, where water is scarce, are provided for by Almighty God.  He has given them the ability to survive in these areas and even to thrive.  His provision continually demonstrates His love for all that He created.  He shows wisdom in the careful planning that went into the design of all creatures that live during their appointed times and at their appointed places and provides for their every need.

Sovereignly Satiated

The Psalmist also indicates that the land itself is satisfied with the sovereign provision of the Lord God Almighty.  The mountains are watered by His hand and command.  The land is satisfied with water.  If you ever doubt this, go somewhere after an intense drought has ravaged the land.  The land forms deep cracks and looks terrible.  But once the Lord waters the land again, it softens and gives up its nourishment to the plants that God had placed upon it.  And when God continually provides for the land, the plants thrive, and the creatures abound.

Furnish Food

It is the Lord God Almighty that provides the grass for the cattle.  He continually provides the water that allows the plants to survive and thrive.  It is He who gives them their sustenance.   But God is the one who also provides us with plants for our food.  Prior to the flood (say, where did all that water come from, anyway?), God had given all of the seed bearing plants as food for man.  He is the one who provides for our every need and desire.  It is God who furnishes us our food, and satisfies us with nourishment from His Earth.

Supplying Sustenance

God does not only provide for our minimal needs of existence; He also provides for those things that make our hearts glad.  In the picture provided here, the Psalmist shows that it is God who provides us with wine to gladden our hearts, and oil to protect and soften our skin.  He also provides bread that fills our stomachs and noses with aromas and flavors that far exceed the minimum required to sustain life.

Imagine that the only thing available to eat was gruel with no salt (now imagine the Israelites eating manna for forty years without spices or herbs…).  Imagine eating that for every meal, day in and day out.  It is God who provides the seasonings for us to make wonderful meals.  The flavors and aromas of the vast cornucopia of produce and grains, let alone the spices and herbs, can provide a potential plethora of palatable provision.  And it is God who shows us how to make all of these different variations of meals to satisfy our hunger and thirst.

God does not merely want us to survive; He wants us to thrive, and to experience the majesty of all that He created so that we, in wonder of the work of His hands, would give Him all of the glory and praise that He so rightly deserves.

Provision for Plants

God not only provides for the land, and all of the creatures on it, He also provides for the plants.  Every time it rains, especially when we have more rain that we think we need, and while we long for the weather to break, and the sun to shine upon us again, God is providing the vital liquid that sustains the life of every plant.  And every time we see rain, we are seeing the supernatural provision of Almighty God for His plants, His creatures, and His land.  God waters His plants just as we do when they are thirsty.  And God replenishes the water in the rivers and lakes for all of the teeming life that He placed in them.

In everything, God is constantly providing for the needs and desires of all that He created.  He does not turn His back on us, His land, His creatures, nor His plants.  He continually refreshes them with the fruit of His labors, and watches in contentment as His creation thanks Him and returns praise for the mighty works of His hands.

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask a question:  Do I see the mighty provision of God in all that He does?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, the heavens declare Your glory, power, infinite wisdom and knowledge.  And I praise and rejoice in You that You have provided so much for me to have.  Even when I am destitute in money and worldly possessions, I have You, and with You I am rich beyond blessing.  Help me to recognize, as I contemplate the workings of Your creation, just how much You love me and all that You have made.  Help me to gain deeper insight into the greatest aspect of Your character that You display for everyone to see – that You love all that You have made, and rejoice in it.  Help me to remember that You and You alone are sovereign over all You have made, and that You do not abandon that which You start, but rather see everything through to its very end.  Give me wisdom that my eyes might see, and ears might hear, all that You are communicating to me through Your word and Your world.  This I ask in the mighty name of Jesus, Amen.

Want more? Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?

 

 

Travel by the Spirit – Acts 8:39

God Is Sovereign And May Take You Where You Need To Be

When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord suddenly took Philip away, and the eunuch did not see him again, but went on his way rejoicing.

Virtually Vanished

Twice in the Bible, an interesting method of travel is mentioned by God concerning His people.  The first appearance of this is in 1 Kings 18:12 when Obadiah, a faithful servant of the Lord, is told by Elijah to announce to King Ahaz that he can be found where he stood.  Obadiah’s response is interesting:

11 “But now you tell me to go to my master and say, ‘Elijah is here.’ 12 I don’t know where the Spirit of the Lord may carry you when I leave you. If I go and tell Ahab and he doesn’t find you, he will kill me. Yet I your servant have worshiped the Lord since my youth.”

Obadiah is very concerned that Elijah won’t be there when Ahaz comes to take him away.  But there is a sense of the suddenness of Elijah’s departure that is interesting.  After all, Elijah on foot could only go so far.  King Ahaz’s men should surely be able to find him.  Yet Obadiah was concerned that the Spirit of the Lord would carry him off somewhere, implying that it would be very far away, and that no one would be able to find him.  We see the very exact same situation documented in Acts 8:39 where the Spirit of the Lord seizes (hErpasen, from the root word harpazo, from the same root word used to describe the effects of the taking of disciples during the rapture) Philip from the Ethiopian to be somewhere else.

This is amazing!  In God’s sovereign timing and will, prophets of old would be hErpasen by the Holy Spirit and taken where God wanted and needed them to be!  Who needs airplanes, cars, boats, rocket ships, or “Star Trek style” transporters when the Holy Spirit of God provides this as He desires?

Amazing Appearance

But while the seizing of someone was amazing, the appearing of someone was just as amazing.  In several scriptures we are shown where, suddenly, people appeared from nowhere.  They were most likely hErpasen by the Spirit of God and placed where they needed to be.  Acts 8:40 seems to indicate this:

Philip, however, appeared at Azotus and traveled about, preaching the gospel in all the towns until he reached Caesarea.

This method of transportation appears to be used when it is needed, rather than all of the time.  When Peter was chained in prison, an angel of the Lord freed him, walked him out of the prison, and sent him on his way.  God could easily have hErpasen him to where He wanted Peter to be, but chose an angel to free him instead.

Other instances of people suddenly appearing include, but are not limited to:

On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!”

A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!”

There he was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light.  Just then there appeared before them Moses and Elijah, talking with Jesus.

Philip, however, appeared at Azotus and traveled about, preaching the gospel in all the towns until he reached Caesarea.

Tremendous Timing

In each case, it was the sovereign will of God in His timing that each of the people appeared where they needed to be, when they needed to be there.  God’s timing in His word is impeccable, and further confirms that He is sovereign by showing that everything that He says will come about does come about exactly when it is supposed to happen.

God’s timing is crucial in every aspect of life.  There are times when a delay in our day seems like Satan is trying to impede our progress.  If you believe this, seek out and find all of the people who found themselves delayed on September 11, 2oo1 2001 as they were headed to their jobs at the Twin Towers in New York City.  God spared each and every one of them.  God’s warnings and discipline are timed exactly when they need to occur in order to get the job done right.

God’s blessing and provision are also timed exactly right to ensure that God receives the maximum glory and honor that He so richly deserves.  And God’s timing, in the act of taking people from one place and (with an apparent instantaneous action of) moving people from to another place, fulfills His plan to ensure that every resource that He has available is being used to their fullest capacity while giving God the maximum glory.

Forever Faithful

Our God is an amazing God.  He does things that seem impossible, but for Him, are not only possible but done to increase our faith and our effectiveness.  We can be assured that God is faithful in all that He does, and that no one can thwart His plans, no matter how egregious the enemy rages against God.  In the end, God is the one who will ensure that everything that He has planned in His heart will come to fruition.  Nothing on Earth, under the Earth, or in the heavens above are able to keep The Lord God Almighty from being faithful to His word, His plan, and His people.

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask a question:  Am I willing to be used by God in such a way that I would accept, without reservation, if He suddenly seized me and placed me elsewhere?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, You are a most glorious and wonderful God.  There is none like You.  Thank You for Your faithfulness in all things.  Give my heart encouragement that no one and nothing can stop You in executing Your perfect will in Your perfect plan.  Help me to accept my circumstances as being sovereignly permitted by You for Your will and my sanctification.  Give me encouragement as I see the enemy do everything in his power to try to thwart Your plans.  And help me to humbly rest in joy as I watch You exert Your sovereign will in all of these things.  This I ask in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Want more? Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?

 

 

The Perfect Plan of God – Isaiah 28:23-29

Use The Right Tools And Methods To Accomplish Any Purpose

23 Listen and hear my voice;
pay attention and hear what I say.
24 When a farmer plows for planting, does he plow continually?
Does he keep on breaking up and working the soil?
25 When he has leveled the surface,
does he not sow caraway and scatter cumin?
Does he not plant wheat in its place,
barley in its plot,
and spelt in its field?
26 His God instructs him
and teaches him the right way.

27 Caraway is not threshed with a sledge,
nor is the wheel of a cart rolled over cumin;
caraway is beaten out with a rod,
and cumin with a stick.
28 Grain must be ground to make bread;
so one does not go on threshing it forever.
The wheels of a threshing cart may be rolled over it,
but one does not use horses to grind grain.
29 All this also comes from the Lord Almighty,
whose plan is wonderful,
whose wisdom is magnificent.

Magnificent Methods

God shows us in these verses that there is a very discernible method to His ways.  He asks several rhetorical questions that would be been easily answered during the prophet’s time, as they were a primarily agricultural people.  Perhaps we could rephrase the question for today’s world and say, “When we prepare concrete for pouring, do we mix it forever?”  There is a time (chronos) and a season (kairos) for all things.  Just as a farmer doesn’t work the field all season (he must eventually plant seeds or nothing will grow), God shows us what we should be doing as well

Tremendous Teaching

God teaches us the way we should go.  Since everyone is a different part of the body, each of us must be instructed on what we are to do, where we are to do it, and when we are to do it.  It is God who provides the instruction for each of these steps.  We are to be submitted to the Holy Spirit, just as Jesus was, so that God can use us as His tools to accomplish His purposes.  It is God who teaches us all of these things, and in doing so, prepares a generation of people who can help instruct and guide the next generation through their sovereignly assigned duties and tasks

Process and Procedure

God uses some very interesting agricultural examples to show us the necessity for using the right tools in the right way to accomplish our goals.  Have you ever tried to insert a screw into wood with a hammer?  I do not recommend ever trying this method.  It is beyond frustrating, and will most likely damage whatever project you are working on.  Everything has its proper tool and process to use it correctly.  Though many of us, upon receiving brand new technology, just open it up and start using it, they come with instruction manuals to help guide us with their use, diagnose what is wrong when it doesn’t work right, and provide solutions to address any issues encountered.

When faced with difficulties as the plan of God unfolds, remember that God has given you an instruction manual – His holy word, the Bible.  And when you need tech support, feel free to call upon God for assistance in prayer.  Additionally, it never hurts to confirm what You have been shown with some of the experts in their field who have been down the path before you.

Expert Extraction

God uses the threshing of seeds as a prime example.  If you were to use a sledge-hammer to attempt to extract the seeds of caraway, you would completely destroy the valuable part of the seed.  Each seed requires its own method of extraction.  Some use the same methods as others, but each requires a specific method.  The people of that time would have recognized this, and understood the greater underlying spiritual truth that God is revealing to us – that God knows EXACTLY how to handle each and every situation that we encounter.

Perfect Plan

God has a perfect plan.  His plan was crafted before the first matter in the universe was created.  His plan was thought out and crafted before time was even a construct.  Each and every detail of His creation was laid out and examined, perfectly placed, and is being perfectly executed.  Nothing escaped His attention, and God accounted for every contingency.  Even the issue of sin was taken into account, and the remedy to bring that which would be lost to sin back in harmony with the Creator was carefully planned, and when implemented, was perfectly executed.

God shows us, through His creation and the fulfillment of all of the prophecies that He has provided to us, that we can trust Him implicitly.  God is incapable of failing, and His perfect plan is working exactly according to His plan and purpose.  What appears to us to be chaos, setbacks, and failure is merely a launching pad for circumstances that will bring about even greater glory to God.

Wonderful Wisdom

God reveals to us through His perfection – the perfect display of His character – that He has all wisdom.  We can trust in God, for God is omniscient – He knows all things.  Knowledge, however, is not wisdom.  God, however, is all-wise.  Seeing all things perfectly without the lens of sin to distort reality from His perfect gaze, God has perfect wisdom to match His perfect intellect and knowledge.  And when we look back over how our small part of His larger story plays out, we begin to see the magnificent wisdom of the Lord God Almighty, and how His perfect plan is being perfectly executed.

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask a question:  What lessons are God trying to teach me about His perfect plan and the part He has assigned for me to accomplish?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, You reveal Your character in how You treat each and every one of us here on Earth.  Thank You for Your continued patience and prodding, and for revealing Yourself through Your Son, Jesus Christ.  Thank You for revealing Yourself through Your word.  And thank You for providing me an opportunity to play a part in Your perfect plan.  Show me, Father, what You would have me do.  Call me, equip me, and strengthen me to do all that You desire to accomplish.  Help me to remember that You are sovereign in all things, and that my perception of loss and difficulty in events and circumstances that are painful and difficult are all part of Your plan to bring about Your perfect will in all things.  Guard my heart against impatience, pride, and bitterness, as trials and tribulations abound in this life.  Give me peace and joy in knowing that You have everything under Your control.  This I ask in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Want more? Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?

National Sovereignty and God – Nehemiah 2:2-6

God Approves Of Walls Built To Establish The Sovereignty Of Nations

2 so the king asked me, “Why does your face look so sad when you are not ill? This can be nothing but sadness of heart.”

I was very much afraid, 3 but I said to the king, “May the king live forever! Why should my face not look sad when the city where my ancestors are buried lies in ruins, and its gates have been destroyed by fire?”

4 The king said to me, “What is it you want?”

Then I prayed to the God of heaven, 5 and I answered the king, “If it pleases the king and if your servant has found favor in his sight, let him send me to the city in Judah where my ancestors are buried so that I can rebuild it.”

6 Then the king, with the queen sitting beside him, asked me, “How long will your journey take, and when will you get back?” It pleased the king to send me; so I set a time.

A Terrifying Truth

At that time in history, no one dared enter the king’s presence with a sad face.  Everyone was required to smile.  To do otherwise could possibly result in a person’s immediate and very public execution.  God had placed Nehemiah in his position in the king’s service to further His purposes.  He has done this with many others, including Joseph, Daniel, and Esther, to name a few.  Even though Nehemiah tried, he could not hide his distress from the king.

Facing Fear

Over three hundred and sixty times in the Bible, God’s people are told, with differing words and the same message, “fear not”.  Nehemiah had just heard from Hanani, one of his brothers, that the wall of Jerusalem was broken down, and the gates were burned by fire.  Nehemiah was the cup-bearer to the king.  He had immediate access to the highest human authority in the land.  God was placing a very heavy burden upon Nehemiah’s heart.  It so distressed him that he had sat down and wept, then mourned, fasted, and prayed to God for days.

So when the king noticed Nehemiah’s glum appearance and brought it to his attention, Nehemiah faced his fear and told the king of the burden that he felt upon his shoulders and his heart.  It should be noted that just prior to telling the king everything that was on his heart, the Bible records that Nehemiah prayed.  This is a great pattern for all of us to follow.  When we have fear in our hearts, our first (not last!) resort should be to consult and petition the highest authority possible – The Lord God Almighty.  We should do this even (and especially) when faced with the possibility of certain death, for this is the correct path to follow.

A Royal Request

Nehemiah, burdened by God with crushed heart concerning the situation that his people found themselves in concerning the land which God had sovereignly gave to them after the Exodus from Egypt, prayed to God and asked the king for a personal leave of absence to go to Jerusalem, his homeland, to rebuild the wall.

Not only did he request the time from the king, the Bible shows us that he was even more bold.  He had asked for the king to give him letters of passage across all of his lands so that no one would stop him or impede his progress – he needed safe passage.  He also asked the king to provide him, from the royal park, the necessary timber to both rebuild the gates of the city as well as the house that he would need to build once he arrived to stay in.  Now that takes courage!

Granted by God

Nehemiah notes that the gracious hand of his God was upon him.  And he was absolutely correct. Not only did king Artaxerxes provide him with the time off, lumber, and letters of safe passage, God sovereignly placed it upon the king’s heart to provide Nehemiah with a royal escort – something Nehemiah had not asked for.  This would absolutely guarantee that everyone would believe and comply with all of the requests that Nehemiah would make of them on behalf of the king through his written orders.

When we are burdened by God to do something, God will absolutely ensure that we have everything that we need to do what He has sovereignly assigned for us to do.  And sometimes when we forget to ask for something that is critical to our mission, God will provide what is necessary to ensure that His will is accomplished.

And in this case, God sovereignly approved of a wall that established as sovereign the city of Jerusalem.  God approves of national borders, and the right of nations to determine who is permitted to enter their sovereign soil.  If God believed that everyone should have the right to enter any place on Earth anytime they wanted to, He would have stopped Nehemiah in his quest to rebuild the wall of Jerusalem.  Those who believe God and His Son, and whose faith is credited as righteousness, should take careful note of God’s view on the sovereignty of nations and His approval of walls to regulate the flow of people into their lands.

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask a question:  When faced with certain danger, what is the first thing that I do?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, there is nothing that surprises You.  You are the one who sets up kings and rulers in authority.  All authority in Heaven and on Earth is Yours and Yours alone to delegate to whomever You choose.  Grant my heart wisdom and discernment as I read Your word so that I would know and understand Your position on national sovereignty.  Help me to reconcile any thoughts, attitudes, or opinions that differ from Your thoughts, attitudes, and opinions.  Help me to align my heart to Yours, and to accept, regardless of how I feel, that Your ways are above my ways, and Your thoughts are above my thoughts.  Father, I do not have the proper perspective of seeing the end from the beginning, nor knowing the disposition of every bit of matter in the universe at any point in time.  Help me to accept what I don’t understand, and give me peace in my heart when You do not desire to provide me with answers so that my heart may be at peace when my emotions are trying to overrule Your divinely inspired word.  Thank You Father for all things.  This I ask in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Want more? Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?

Transition of Power – 1 Chronicles 11:1-3

The Whole People Should Recognize The Leader That God Has Chosen

1 All Israel came together to David at Hebron and said, “We are your own flesh and blood. 2 In the past, even while Saul was king, you were the one who led Israel on their military campaigns. And the Lord your God said to you, ‘You will shepherd my people Israel, and you will become their ruler.'”

3 When all the elders of Israel had come to King David at Hebron, he made a covenant with them at Hebron before the Lord, and they anointed David king over Israel, as the Lord had promised through Samuel.

A Great Gathering

After Saul died, all of Israel came together as a group.   This was important, for it showed unanimous consensus among God’s people that they recognized the transition of leadership to David.  Samuel had anointed David’s head with oil as the next king over a decade prior.  And now, that promise of God was being fulfilled.

Royal Recognition

It is important that all of them recognized the transition of power.  Rather than refuse to acknowledge the new king, they embraced him as God intended as one people.  It is very difficult when questionable circumstances overshadow the transition of power.  That can divide a nation and cause irreparable harm to the unity of the people.  It has been said, “United we stand, divided we fall.”

The enemies of peace have long understood this concept, and work tirelessly in opposition to unity in order to foment discontent and resentment towards the leaders that they do not like.  When a nation is torn in two this way, the nation is being set up to be financially pillaged and eventually overrun.  There is great profit in confusion.

In this particular case, the people pulled together to recognize David as their new king.  The ardent followers of Saul supported David.  They did not try to stage a coup and insert their own candidate for king.  This served to unite the people even more.

A Climatic Covenant

David not only assumed the throne, he made a covenant with the people.  He did not merely take a verbal oath, he made a promise that carried with it the penalty of death should it not have been held up.  David was a servant to the people.  He shepherded them as God intended, rather than seek His own glory, power, and recognition apart from The Lord God Almighty.  This solidified his position with the people and gave him the accountability necessary to ensure that he would take promise and responsibility towards the people with the gravest of attitudes.

The Powerful Promise

By uniting the people, recognizing his role, and taking the necessary steps to ensure his accountability, the promise that God had made to David was fully secured in the support of the people.  Samuel’s anointing of David’s head as the next ruler of the people of Israel was complete, and he was able to rule them in joy and with God’s protection and power.  God demonstrated His choice of David as His chosen vessel of authority over men in that He increased David’s power and influence among them.

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask a question:  Am I willing to accept the leadership that God has placed over me?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, You have placed leaders over us for our protection and to bring about Your will.  Help me to be supportive of Your decisions, and to do my very best to submit to leaders who are yielded to You.  Father, I ask that You would strengthen and encourage the men and women You have chosen as leaders over me to yield themselves to You.  Help them to become the servant-leaders that You desire them to be.  Give me the strength to endure wicked leaders when You send them as judgment upon a nation, and to encourage all to pray for the people who are under difficult leadership that they would call out to You, and seek Your face, and turn from their wicked ways, that You would heal the land.  Bless the leaders that You have chosen with wisdom, restraint, and advisors that would honor and glorify Your name.  This I ask in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?

Sovereignty of God – Joshua 10:12-14

God Is Sovereign Over All The Universe

12 On the day the Lord gave the Amorites over to Israel, Joshua said to the Lord in the presence of Israel:

“Sun, stand still over Gibeon,
and you, moon, over the Valley of Aijalon.”
13 So the sun stood still,
and the moon stopped,
till the nation avenged itself on its enemies,

as it is written in the Book of Jashar.

The sun stopped in the middle of the sky and delayed going down about a full day. 14 There has never been a day like it before or since, a day when the Lord listened to a human being. Surely the Lord was fighting for Israel!

Celestial Commotion

In these latter days, it takes a lot to get our attention.  We are constantly surrounded by the miraculous with technology.  People are so overwhelmed, they often fail to react when something truly amazing happens.  Each new iteration of technology brings awe and wonder to us as we are dazzled by the seemingly impossibility of it.  Robots performing automated surgery?  That was the stuff of science fiction 30 years ago.  How about cars that drive themselves?  That again was Sci-Fi relegated to movies like “Minority Report“.  Smart bombs, drones, gene therapy, missions to mars – just fifty years ago, these were mere dreams.  But now they assault us every day, as we wait for the next great thing to happen.

So what if the Sun and the Moon stopped in their tracks in the sky?  Would that capture your attention?  It should.  This type of thing just doesn’t happen every day.  It would cause people to fear for their lives that the end of the world was at hand.  People would flock to churches, hoping that God’s wrath was not upon them.  And those who were on the other side of Planet Earth, would be plunged into a much longer darkness than before, wondering if the Sun would every shine again.  Our concept of how the Universe worked would be severely shaken.  What we have taken for granted for generations -millennia – would be thrown out the window.

Powerful Prayer

It is recorded here that this was the only time, EVER, in the Old Testament, that the Lord God Almighty listened to the command of a man.  Joshua, in the power of the Holy Spirit of God, in the presence of God and man, commanded the Sun and Moon to stop until Israel had avenged itself on its enemies.  Never before, nor after, had God listened to the command of a man.  Until Jesus:

He [Jesus] replied, “Because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” [Caption added for clarification]

We must remember that faith is closely tied to submission and obedience.  Submission and obedience is the outward sign of our faith.  For if we did not believe, we would not be foolish enough to wait upon God for action.

God would not honor a person who desired to be fabulously wealthy and who said to a pile of rocks, “turn into gold!” for personal gain.  It is the power of God in faith through submission and obedience that would cause these things to happen.  Greed, envy, and every other base and vile attitude of the heart would prevent such a thing from happening.  However, if it is the will of God, for His glory, and for  His purposes, surely it would come to pass.  We are not to abuse the wonderful gift that we have been given:

1 What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? 2 You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God. 3 When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.

4 You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world means enmity against God? Therefore, anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.

Intervention for Israel

God, in causing the heavenly bodies to behave in a nature contrary to what the laws of physics would dictate, would certainly have caused fear and horror in the eyes of Israel’s enemies.  God surely fought for Israel that day.  God surely fights for Israel today.  And God will surely fight for Israel for all eternity, for Israel is the chosen people of God.  He will not abandon them, or allow them to be scattered ever again to the four winds.

God has fulfilled His prophesy, and no one and nothing will ever prevail against her again.  And when she turns her heart fully towards God, those who seek to rob her of her land, her sovereignty, and her lifeblood, will surely be punished in a manner that will strike fear into the heart of every human being alive.  Centuries ago, it might have taken months or years for the world to know what happened in lands far away.  But now, technology gives us instant access to events that transpire in real-time and vividly, soon to be with live 3D visual effects and perhaps even 4D realism.  The destruction of the enemies of Israel will be available to be watched by nearly everyone on this planet with access to a television or the Internet.

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask a question:  Am I trusting in the sovereignty of God?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, You have shown us Your mercy and grace, and provided us with these wonderful accounts of what You have done in the past so that we may know who You are.  Give me the strength to wait upon You for Your timing in all my circumstances.  Help me to remain faithful in affliction and times of difficulty.  Uphold me and carry me when my body and spirit are too weak to continue.  Help me to always look to You for my help.  Father, You have done miraculous things for Your people in the past, and You are the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow.  You have adopted me into Your family, and I pray dear God that You would help me.  Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?