Why Nothing is Going Wrong

Ultimately, nothing is going wrong, because Jesus Christ is the Redeemer of all things, including us who believe in Him. His will is being done perfectly.

Today’s Reading

Isaiah 41-42; Colossians 1

Selected Verses

Behold my servant, whom I uphold,
my chosen, in whom my soul delights;
I have put my Spirit upon him;
he will bring forth justice to the nations. Isaiah 42:1

For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell,  and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.  Colossians 1:19-20

Reflections

Yesterday I asked, “Why is everything going wrong?” I tried to summarize the cause. But there is more to the story. In truth, nothing is going wrong, because all things are under God’s control and all things will culminate according to His plan and will.

Isaiah wrote to Judah and Israel, the divided kingdoms, where it seemed that their existence was hanging by a thread. He has called Israel “His servant” (41:9), but what a flaky servant she is! She cannot be trusted to be faithful to the Lord. Israel is quick to worship idols. She is blind to her own calling and history (42:18-25). What does God do? He chooses a new servant. Well, He is not really new because we learn He is the Son of God, the Messiah, the Lord Jesus Christ.

This Chosen Servant has the Spirit of God upon Him. He will bring justice to the nations. He will not wear out or give up before accomplishing His work in the earth. How gracious of God to find Someone to do what Israel could not or would not do!

Paul writes much about Jesus, showing who He is and what He has done. [See also Ephesians 2-3].  Paul prays that the Colossians will grasp the truth about Jesus, because it is through His suffering on the cross that He has made peace and reconciled all things to Himself. Through Christ we “have redemption, the forgiveness of sins” (vs. 14).

Think about it

We need to recognize the trends and problems of our society today and do what we can to forestall corruption. Yet more than that, we need to recognize that nothing intimidates or frustrates God. Jesus will not grow faint or discouraged before accomplishing His work of redemption in the earth. Should we? Take heart. From God’s viewpoint, nothing is going wrong.

God’s Providence vs. Man’s Autonomy

No life is the result of personal autonomy or of random acts and choices. Rather it is God’s sovereign providence at work according to His eternal decrees.

Today’s Reading

Job 33-34; Acts 13:24-52

Selected Verses

 Behold, God does all these things,
twice, three times, with a man,
 to bring back his soul from the pit,
that he may be lighted with the light of life.  Job 33:29-30

And when the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord, and as many as were appointed to eternal life believed. And the word of the Lord was spreading throughout the whole region. But the Jews incited the devout women of high standing and the leading men of the city, stirred up persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and drove them out of their district. Acts 13:48-50

Reflections

Elihu sets about correcting the faulty statements of Job and his three counselors. Elihu correctly emphasizes the justice of God in all His dealings and the way of God to use trials and difficulties to correct His children. This point has been mostly ignored by the three counselors with the exception of a brief comment by Eliphaz (Job 5:17).

In his account of the first missionary journey of Paul and Barnabas, Luke reports that “as many as were appointed to eternal life believed.”  Apostles proclaimed the gospel. Some believed.  Why?  God had appointed them to eternal life. Others rejected because they were not appointed for eternal life.   The difference is not in the words of the preacher. It is in the response of the hearer. That is the result of the sovereign work of grace in the heart of the hearer.

Think about it

Personal autonomy is an idol of our times, maybe the greatest idol. The doctrines of the sovereignty and providence of God thunder against that false god. Do you believe in the Lord Almighty Who rules over all things, even the hearts of people? If so, that would be a likely indicator that He has appointed you for salvation. If not, you are still called to repent and believe the gospel, but you cannot and will not in yourself, without His powerful working in you to bring a new birth (Mark 1:15; John 3:3).

Does all this stir in you sense of desperation?  Call on God to “be merciful” to you, a sinner (Luke 18:13). God has promised that He is “near to all who call upon Him, to all who call upon Him in truth” and “For ‘everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved”’ (Psalm 145:18; Romans 10:13).

God’s Election; Man’s Response

Today’s reading

Genesis 33-35; Matthew 11

Selected verses

So Jacob said to his household and to all who were with him, “Put away the foreign gods that are among you and purify yourselves and change your garments.  Then let us arise and go up to Bethel, so that I may make there an altar to the God who answers me in the day of my distress and has been with me wherever I have gone.”   Genesis 35:2,3

At that time Jesus declared, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children;  yes, Father, for such was your gracious will.  All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.”  Matthew 11:25-27

Reflections

God is sovereign over all things, including His call and election of people to Himself by grace through faith for salvation.  He hides truth from those who are wise and understanding in this world but reveals it to little children.  The Son has authority to reveal the Father to whom He chooses.

But this does not mean that there exist some who desperately want to be saved but cannot be because God turns them away.  Jesus makes this offer,

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”  Matthew 11:28-30

God’s sovereignty in calling people to Himself is seen in the life of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. The lives of all three show serious flaws.  Jacob, for example, tolerated his family members serving idols. None deserved God’s grace.  God chose them freely, not based on their merits.  Likewise, God did not choose people from cities like Chorazin, Bethsaida, and Capernaum, even though Jesus had performed “most of his mighty works” there.  They refused to repent in spite of the compelling evidence that Jesus was the Christ. So they bore their own responsibility for their condition.

Think about it

Pride in one’s own wisdom is an insurmountable obstacle to faith and, thus, to salvation.  Pray for a childlike spirit, for grace to believe and repent.  Come to the One who will give your soul rest and your life a purpose, yoked with Him in His redemptive work.  You will discover His election of you to salvation.

Why Bad Things Happened to a Good Person

Today’s reading:

Acts 2:14-4:22

My selection:

 “Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs that God did through him in your midst, as you yourselves know—  this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men.  God raised him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it.  For David says concerning him,

“‘I saw the Lord always before me,
    for he is at my right hand that I may not be shaken;  Acts 2:22-24

For more reflections on this passage, see the corresponding reading in my book Cover to Cover: Through the Bible in 365 days.

Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture references are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Permanent Text Edition® (2016). Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.

Resisting our Default Position

As we continue today in Proverbs 1:8-3:35, it’s clear that this book is filled with warnings and promises about how to live in a way that pleases God.  Our default position is to give in to peer pressure and to avoid anything that is uncomfortable.

Believers in Jesus Christ have the command to “… be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might” (Ephesians 6:10b ESV).  We are not strong in ourselves but only in Him and in the strength of His might.

Be strong in the Lord and have a blessed day.

[For more reflections on this passage see the corresponding reading in my book Cover to Cover: Through the Bible in 365 days].

No Hand Wringing, Please!

If God is sovereign and in complete control of all people, places, and things, then hysteria by professing believers does not glorify Him.  Today’s reading (Psalm 8:1-15:5) reinforces this point.  Gloom and doom sells newspapers and raises money for causes, but it does not reflect confidence in Almighty God.

Beware of falling in step with the world which does not know Him or believe in Him.

[For more reflections on this passage see the corresponding reading in my book Cover to Cover: Through the Bible in 365 days].

God’s Sovereignty over Kings

How confident are you that God rules over all people and things, even kings, presidents, and nations?  Here we find an example of the power of God over a pagan king (Ezra 6:22).

Today’s reading:  Ezra 4:1-7:28

When things look bleak in our society, it’s easy for us to forget that God rules over all.  But we are commanded to pray and to trust God. Today, let worry and complaining go.  Pray instead.

[For more reflections on this passage see the corresponding reading in my book Cover to Cover: Through the Bible in 365 days].

 

The Eternal King

Where is history going? God unfolds His plan for mankind gradually, but that doesn’t mean the end is uncertain or behind schedule. Today’s reading tells of “a giant step forward.”

Today’s reading: 1 Chronicles 17:1-20:8

God has His own timetable down through the millennia. We know this as human history.  Doubters and scoffers have long been asking, “why is the Lord’s return  taking so long?”  [2 Peter 3:1-4].  God doesn’t tell us everything we might like to know, but He does reveal progressively what He is doing and why He is doing it.  One author called it “the unfolding drama of redemption.”*  Like spectators at a great three-act play, we watch the production seeing only the part happening in our lifetimes.

David was blessed to be chosen as the king whose Son would reign over a kingdom that would never end.  That Son, Jesus, has come and completed the work of His first advent.  He will come again.  Stay tuned and stay faithful.

[For more reflections on this passage see the corresponding reading in my book Cover to Cover: Through the Bible in 365 days].

* The title of a famous work by the late W. Graham Scroggie

Honorable Jabez; Wise God

A popular slogan is “Prayer Changes Things.”   Do you know the flaw in this saying?

Today’s reading: 1 Chronicles 2:3-4:23

While prayer is commanded and important, it is God, not prayer, that changes things. To believe we change things by our prayers eliminates God’s sovereignty and wisdom.  God blessed Jabez and He blesses His people who pray to Him in faith. He does hear our prayers but in the final analysis He determines the answers.

This is not to diminish the importance of prayer, but to give the credit to the One who deserves it.

[For more reflections on this passage see the corresponding reading in my book Cover to Cover: Through the Bible in 365 days].

God’s Sovereignty over the Nations

To listen to the media, one would think there is no sovereign God ruling over the nations.  But is that the truth? No way!

Today’s reading:  2 Kings 5:1-8:6

We are fed by a steady diet of bad news.  Chaos seems to reign around the globe: famine, war, terrorism, poverty, global warming, political corruption, and so on.  We need to be reminded that these kinds of crises have existed for thousands of years.  Is God still God?  Absolutely.  Trust Him come what may.

[For more reflections on this passage see the corresponding reading in my book Cover to Cover: Through the Bible in 365 days].