The Joy of Glory

Discovering endless joy in the boundless glory of God…

Tag: sovereignty

Lent Devotional: Psalm 94

Psalm 94 (click here)
O LORD, how long shall the wicked, how long shall the wicked exult? They pour out their arrogant words; all the evildoers boast. They crush your people, O LORD, and afflict your heritage. They kill the widow and the sojourner, and murder the fatherless; and they say, “The LORD does not see; the God of Jacob does not perceive.”

Understand, O dullest of the people! Fools, when will you be wise? He who planted the ear, does he not hear? He who formed the eye, does he not see?

But the LORD has become my stronghold, and my God the rock of my refuge. He will bring back on them their iniquity and wipe them out for their wickedness; the LORD our God will wipe them out. (Psalm 94:3-9 and 22-23)

Reflection
Do we have a faith that can sustain us through the “How long”?

The simplistic, Western view of God will not sustain a faith the gets slammed with the question “how long?” When our world is rocked and we suffer… when tragedy strikes… when there are global catastrophes… when we begin to lose our lives for faith in Christ like so many of our brothers and sisters around this world are already experiencing… when all this happens, will our vision of God sustain us?

Most in Western Christianity view the Lord as simply serving the purpose of their-own happiness. God exists to help life go the way I want and increase my private luxuries and pleasures. When these expectations are shattered…so is our view of God.

I’ve watched this happen over and over again. Idols always crumble under the erosive pressure of reality. Faith will always crumble when it is placed in a crumbling idol.

We need a view of our God who is the rock that will not crumble! Our God who is the everlasting… he is the only one that can make us last through the pain, suffering, and hurt of this world!

When the Psalmist is confronted with the violent atrocities of his world in Psalm 94, he recalls to mind a vision of God foreign to so many of us. He remembers that God is the sovereign creator over all. He formed all ears and all eyes…and is himself all hearing and all seeing.

In the face of extreme suffering, the Psalmist claims that God is not missing a single sound or sight of it! This is the very thing that makes God his stronghold, his rock, his refuge! For God’s sovereignty acts as a guarantee that none of this iniquity wins! God wins!

We are actually promised by God that we will experience persecution, suffering, hurt, pain… and we are told he is sovereign over it all, and he is good, and he can be trusted! Irony of or ironies…it is THROUGH these very things that God is working our greatest good and his greatest glory!

God really is working for the purpose of our greatest happiness, but that greatest happiness is found in him and in him alone! He is increasing our pleasure in him! He gives us more and more of himself through our suffering! There is so much of him and who he is that we cannot come to know in any other way than through suffering!

And when we suffer… we not only come to know him more, but we make him known to the world! We show the world that we are willing to suffer the loss of all things IN ORDER that we might gain more of Christ because there is nothing more valuable than Christ!

God works for our good and for his glory! He does this through all things! Even the darkest things! None of them win! He uses those very things to accomplish his purposes! This is why the Psalmist speaks to people he considers the “dullest” of all! They cannot see that the very things they believe are defeating the purposes of God are actually being used by God to accomplish his purposes! Ha!

This is seen nowhere more clearly than the cross! If ever there was a place that looked like evil triumphed it was the cross… yet, at the cross God took the most evil act, the murder of his own son, and sovereignly scripted it as the most glorious act!

In trying to defeat God’s purposes, evil was made to serve God’s purposes. No matter how long we have to wait to see it… we will one day know that this has been the case with every single evil thing we have ever experienced. None of it has won. God has made us more than conquerors over all of it by making it all serve the purposes of his glory and our good.

That is a vision of God that doesn’t crumble, but becomes a rock of refuge as we wait, as we cry, as we hope and ask “how long…”

*The complete SVCC Lenten reading guide is available here.

Lent Devotional: Jonah 2

Jonah 2 (click here)
For you cast me into the deep, into the heart of the seas, and the flood surrounded me; all your waves and your billows passed over me.

…yet you brought up my life from the pit, O LORD my God. (Jonah 2:3 and 6b)

Reflection
The pagan sailors cast Jonah into the sea…but they don’t get credit for it! Jonah acknowledges God’s sovereignty in his situation…the Lord is the one who cast him into the sea…even the wind and waves belong to the Lord.

God is sovereign.

Even over our difficulties, dangers, and near death experiences. This truth makes us struggle. If God is sovereign, then why do we experience suffering at all? Why does he sometimes hurl us into the sea?

There are no easy answers to questions such as these, but there is good news, namely, that because God is sovereign over the wind and waves, we know that those forces never win! Because God is sovereign over death itself, we know that death doesn’t win!

We cannot always see his purposes, but we can trust that his purposes are good. Because the Lord was sovereign over casting Jonah into the sea, he could also sovereignly save him from the sea! God brought Jonah’s life up from the pit!

God saved Jonah from the sea and, even more importantly, from his sinful self! Jonah learned that salvation belongs to the Lord, but such a lesson can only be learned when one is in need of saving.

Jesus’ disciples learned this same thing upon a stormy sea. Jesus, like Jonah, was sleeping through the storm, but for a completely different reason. Jesus wasn’t sleeping because he was running from God, but because he was God. He had nothing to fear for he was in complete control… the disciples could only learn this truth amidst the storm.

To know Jesus as the sovereign Lord over the wind and waves, we must first be cast into the storm… only then and there can we experience his sovereign salvation.

*The complete SVCC Lenten reading guide is available here.

Lent Devotional: Job 12

Job 12 (click here)
The tents of robbers are at peace, and those who provoke God are secure, who bring their god in their hand. 7 But ask the beasts, and they will teach you; the birds of the heavens, and they will tell you; 8 or the bushes of the earth, and they will teach you; and the fish of the sea will declare to you. 9 Who among all these does not know that the hand of the LORD has done this? 10 In his hand is the life of every living thing and the breath of all mankind. (Job 12:6-10)

Reflection
Job bluntly tells his friends that their nice and neat theology does not square with what actually happens in the world. The wicked do not seem to always be punished and the righteous do not seem to always be rewarded.

Just look at robbers who live in peace and luxury or people who provoke God, disregard him, or worship false gods…many of them live in prosperity and relative ease. And lest Job’s friends try to say that God is obviously not involved in these exceptions to their rules…he calls on all of creation to testify concerning the sovereign power of God! In his hand is EVERY living thing!

The very reason Job is confused amidst his suffering is because he knows that God is in control. Is this not the reason we are often confused amidst our suffering? Pain is only problematic to those who believe in a good, loving, all-powerful God. This is what leads us to question the way God is running the universe, namely, the fact that he IS running the universe.

Yet…the most interesting thing about what Job is says in verse 9 is the name he chooses to use for God… “the LORD.” This is God’s covenant name…Yahweh. In all of the many speeches throughout the book, this is the only place God’s covenant name is invoked. The name recalls God’s faithful-never-ending-love for his people.

Job may be confused about how God could be in control of his situation, but he is quick to remind himself that, no matter how confusing, it is a hopeful thing that all is in the hand of the LORD…the faithful, loving one. The events of our lives may often seem confusing in light of God being in control, but that same truth is what brings comfort amidst the confusion for we know that God is good and can be trusted.
*The complete SVCC Lenten reading guide is available here.

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