Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Sovereignty and Prayer

I believe most Evangelical Christians would  argue that prayer is very important. The reason(s) why may differ from person to person, but we recognize as a whole it is important. I bring this up because I have heard people say, "If God has decided everything, why should we pray, evangelize, or do anything?" To quote Pastor Daniel, "Because God tells us to!" We are told many times to take things to the Father in the Name of the Son, Jesus Christ. 

Jesus says in John 14:12-14 “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father. Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it."

If we believe in Jesus, we will do the things that Jesus does. He said so! It is the evidences of God's grace and the fruit of the Holy Spirit in our lives. Secondly He said whatever we ask for in His Name will be done. I think it is important to see here the order in which these things are said. First we will do the works Jesus does and then He will give us whatever we ask. I do not believe this means we have to get the works right to get what we want, though many interpret these verses like that. What I see is Jesus showing that we have had a change of heart because He has changed our hearts and therefore we do His works. Because He has changed our hearts to do His works, He also changes our hearts of prayer to match His heart. Therefore, if we are praying in the power of the Spirit in Jesus Name to the Father, we will be asking for those things which God intends to do. This might be a bit crazy sounding to you. I still am struggling to wrap my head around it. But I have see things and heard things that are amazing simply because people prayed in the will of God. 

I do want to say here that God wants to hear our hearts. He knows we struggle. He knows our prayers are not perfect. He knows we hurt and wonder because we are only human. He wants to hear those things too! Prayer ought to be a conversation with our Father that is real and genuine. That does not mean that all of our prayers will be answered in the way we think they should be, but be assured, Christian, God hears your prayers and He will answer them based on His glory and will. 

I am still struggling with this everyday. But I am thankful to be struggling through it as it is teaching me to pray and to be bold with my prayers asking for things that I know from Scripture are God's will such as salvation, growth, closeness to Him, reconciliation of believers to the church and each other and for strength, wisdom, grace and mercy for the saints. I still have much to learn on this and as God shows me I hope to share more with you.

Today I challenge those in Christ to pray boldly before the Father. Take all things to Him. And then rest in knowing He will handle it in the way that is best.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Sovereignty and the Exodus

I believe I posted a while back that I had a new found appreciation for the Old Testament and was wanting to study it more in depth. I have been reading slowly and am only now in the beginning parts of Exodus reading through the plagues sent on Egypt by God to convince Pharaoh to let the Israelites go. The debate of free will is one as old as time and one not easy to let go of, but the more I read in Scripture the more I am convinced that though God's call demands a response, it is ultimately up to Him what happens.

Exodus 10:1-2 says, "Then the Lord said to Moses, 'Go to Pharaoh, for I have hardened his heart and the heart of his servants, that I may perform these signs of Mine among them, and that you may tell in the hearing of your son, and of your grandson, how I made a mockery of the Egyptians and how I performed My signs among them that you may know that I am the Lord'."

These are the Lord's words. Not mine, not Moses's, not anyone else. The Lord said, I have hardened Pharaoh's heart. This is not the first time this is mentioned. Exodus 7:3,13-14,22, 8:15,19, 9:12,35 all refer to Pharaoh's heart being hardened which is initiated by God and we see it a few more times after this passage in Exodus 10:20,27 11:10 and 14:4.

I have read the story of the Exodus many times, but this time God has shown me this so clearly, I believe, to show me over and over again that He is in control of everything, even the hearts of men. Pharaoh would have been probably the greatest earthly ruler of that time (I am guessing. I am no historian, so I beg forgiveness if I am wrong), and God was in control of His heart. Why? God said it, "that I may perform these signs of Mine among them...that you may know that I am the Lord." It was all for God's glory to show that He is the Lord Almighty. He is in control of all things, even the mightiest of rulers.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

The Sovereignty of God

God is sovereign. I have heard this numerous times over the course of my life. I have heard it from numerous people. But what does this really mean? 
The dictionary has many definitions including:
"a person who has sovereign power or authority"
"a monarch; a king, queen, or other supreme ruler"
"having supreme rank, power, or authority"
"greatest in degree; utmost or extreme"
"being above all others in character, importance, excellence, etc."

I am not going to get all technical here. This is just what one dictionary says and I am no study in words, roots and definitions. This is just to see what the world defines sovereign as and to give a starting point. 

It is clear that the word sovereign is often associated with a ruler. Perfect! God is the ruler of the universe. It is also associated with importance. Again perfect as God is perfect. And so we begin to see a picture. God is the perfect supreme ruler of the universe. 

And then what? Here is where it begins to differ from a simple earthly explanation. This is what God has been teaching me. To say that God is sovereign means that He is in absolute control over everyone and everything in the entire universe. This has not been an easy thing for me to understand or swallow some days. Let's face it, we like to be in control. I know I do. I can feel myself begin to lose my temper when things do not go as planned or something interrupts what I want to do. But the more I learn about God, the more I learn that really I am not in control. Not at all. And the more I embrace the truth that I am not in control of everything, the more freedom I begin to experience. 
God never intended us to carry the weight of the world on our shoulders. He does not want us worrying about what may come. He has given us Christ. He has given us instructions and things to do for His kingdom and His glory, but the results are in His hands and are done in His timing. How I long to rest in this truth consistently. God is teaching me step by step how to rest in this truth, how to say everyday "I will do what the Lord tells me and leave the results in His hands". 

So how about you? Are you resting in the sovereignty of our great God, Christian?