Responsibility AND Sovereignty

Responsibility and Sovereignty

God’s word is very clear. We are responsible for our thoughts, words, and deeds, AND at the same time God is sovereign over everything. 

We are to work out our salvation with fear and trembling (Philippians 2:12), AND God promises to work everything together for good (Romans 8:28).

God is totally holy, infinitely sovereign, and works all things after the counsel of His will (Ephesians 1:11).

God has a plan, is working His plan, and guarantees ultimate victory with righteous judgment, condemnation for some and glorification for others.

Right now, God is sanctifying us (believers), making us more like Christ (Romans 8:29). But, we must acknowledge our responsibility, and strive to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which we have been called (Ephesians 4:1).

Until glory, we will still sin, but, if we confess, God forgives and cleanses us (1 John 1:9). And our sin still results in consequences, some severe. At the same time, we know that in His sovereignty He has a purpose for everything that happens. We grieve our sin AND rejoice in His utter power over it.

Both. And. 

What to do

We must diligently learn His word and strive to please Him (Ephesians 5:10). We must grow up in Christ (Ephesians 4:15).

Let’s pray He strengthens us with power through His Holy Spirit (Ephesians 3:16) and walk in His will.

We must continually praise God. Our holy God is at work. 

Systemic Sin

Systemic Sin

The fundamental systemic problem underlying the world’s ills is sin.

Most of my career I worked on preventing problems and harm. The key lesson is that to prevent a problem, we need to work upstream, at the underlying issues, and that more than one intervention is most likely needed.

The famous model is the “Swiss Cheese” model. Think about putting slices of swiss cheese in  row. Each slice has one or more holes, but if you close one hole, the chances of the problem getting to the next slice decline. If you solve more than one hole, and if you work on closing the holes in more than one slice, the chances of the problem getting to the person decline even more. You might even eliminate the chances of harm.

I don’t want to make this post focus on current difficulties, but if you’ll look into any of them, from “systemic racism,” to illegal behavior, to gun violence, to problems with law enforcement, to high school graduation rates, to poverty, in each there are a series of issues that cause the problem and need to be addressed. And for every issue, every single one, sin is the systemic issue.

As humans, we need to understand the chain of events leading to the problem and address multiple points to reduce harm. Often the temptation is to work just at the “pointy end,” the final step that results in the problem. But that is not the powerful place to focus. And, even if you can eliminate the “pointy end,” the underlying issues will result in a different “pointy end.” The more we can resolve issues “upstream” of the problematic result, the better.

We are responsible to do this.

But we also need to recognize that the fundamental issue is the relationship between God and man. Those without Christ walk in darkness and do the deeds of darkness. 

Let’s pray we see our sin, repent, and turn to God in belief. 

Tremble

Tremble

Have you ever had a very close call? A time when you might have been seriously injured or fatally wounded? How did you feel?

People laugh, or cry. They may be weak-kneed. They may tremble with relief. I’ve seen photos of pilots kissing the ground.

From a spiritual perspective, believers have been rescued from darkness and transferred to the  kingdom of Jesus Christ. We don’t deserve it, but we are saved from hell and headed to heaven.

He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son. (Colossians 1:13

Now that should make us rejoice with weak-kneed, trembling, joy.   

And we should tremble when we think what Jesus endured for us. His suffering was vast, His crucifixion is unimaginable, and the impact of experiencing God’s wrath is beyond comprehension. All that to save those who believe in Him.

Tremble!

You might want to find some music or videos of Were You There? Or sing it yourself.

[Since you] believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, obtaining as the outcome of your faith the salvation of your souls.” (1 Peter 1:8–9

Rejoice!

Peace

God of Peace

Yahweh is peace. (Judges 6:24)

God is peace. (Philippians 4:9, Hebrews 13:20)

Jesus Christ is the Prince of Peace. (Isaiah 9:6)

The Holy Spirit gives peace.  (Galatians 5:22

Peace is an attribute of God—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Peace is who He is. He is the source of all peace (true, whole, rich peace, not just the absence of trouble). All peace comes from God, the source of peace. 

Peace with God

The bad news

Unless we are reconciled to God through belief in Jesus Christ, we are enemies of God. 

While we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son … (Romans 5:10) 

Whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. (James 4:4) 

“There is no peace,” says my God, “for the wicked.” (Isaiah 57:21

This is why we need the good news. 

The good news

We can have peace with God, both eternally and now … IF we have received Christ as Lord and Savior.

Having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,” (Romans 5:1

Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.  (John 14:27

The good news includes eternal peace.

He has now reconciled you in His fleshly body through death, in order to present you before Him holy and blameless and beyond reproach— (Colossians 1:22

Peace right now

The peace we (believers) experience in this world increases as we are sanctified.

The Lord grants us peace

Now may the Lord of peace Himself continually grant you peace in every circumstance.  (2 Thessalonians 3:16) 

And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.(Philippians 4:7

We are to work at developing peace

We have responsibility here too. We are to let Christ rule in our hearts, and we are to practice righteous living.

Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts. (Colossians 3:15

The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you. (Philippians 4:9

The result is perfect peace!

The steadfast of mind You will keep in perfect peace, because he trusts in You. (Isaiah 26:3

Messengers of Peace

We are to be messengers of peace and to be peacemakers. (This is a topic for you, or for another time)

~~~~

Father, thank You that, through Your Son, we have been reconciled to You and have peace with You. Thank You that You have granted us the way to have peace in every circumstance in this world, and that You show us the way to achieve it. Help us increasingly trust You, rely on You, and walk in Your way. 

God as Enemy

Harry Durgin Facebook

Recently I heard a Christian music group telling the audience that God loved them. The crowd cheered.

Their message was misleading and potentially deadly.

God does love that group of people listening to the music, but His love isn’t what was implied. 

He loves the world so much He sends rain on the just and unjust (common grace), He warns us of the consequences of our sin (eternal death), He sent Jesus Christ to die for us, and He saves us IF we repent and believe in Christ.

The people in that crowd who have not repented and believed in Christ are God’s enemies. Do they know that?

If they die in their sins (that is, without having received Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior), God condemns them and sends them to hell. God is their enemy.

That is truly bad news!

We wouldn’t need the good news of the gospel without the reality of bad news.

I am concerned that we tend to give only the good news without telling people about the bad news and why they need good news.

Each of us has only this life time to reconcile with God through Jesus Christ. 

It is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment.  (Hebrews 9:27

Let’s determine to help people understand they need a Savior (the bad news) and joyfully and lovingly tell them the good news. And pray for their salvation.

For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 6:23

Big and Little

Big and Little

The world is in chaos. AND God is in control. Both are true, but we have to trust God in order to believe it.

For His own reasons, He is allowing evil to increase, lies to proliferate, society to break down. At the same time, He is calling sinners to Himself, and sanctifying believers in Christ.

He works all things after the counsel of His will, and His will pertains both to the world and to each individual. Nothing and no one is out of His sight. Nothing and no one can escape His attention and intention. Nor do we, as Christians, want to.

He is working at the big level (society, nations, world), and also at the little (individuals). All of it ends in judgment or glory.

If I keep my eyes on Him, I’m okay. If I look at the disaster around me, I’m not.

He has a plan for the nations. He has a plan for you and me, followers of Christ. He uses everything to make us more like Jesus Christ. You and I are here because He has work for us to do. 

Praise Him, the righteous Judge. Praise Him, our Savior.

Resolve to walk as children of Light, proclaiming Almighty God.

Resurrection Power–Right Now!

Harry Durgin Facebook

Resurrection Power—Right Now!

He is risen!

[Jesus Christ our Lord] was declared the Son of God with power by the resurrection from the dead, according to the Spirit of holiness. (Romans 1:4

Christ died for our sins, and was raised to save those who believe in Him.

He … was delivered over because of our transgressions, and was raised because of our justification. (Romans 4:25

God made us, believers, alive in Christ.

[God] made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus. (Ephesians 2:5–6

Because we are alive in Christ, we have the guarantee of glory! 

Christ in you, the hope of glory. (Colossians 1:27

This is beyond comprehension. Instead of the hell we deserve, we, believers, are promised heaven. Rejoice! Praise Him!

But wait, there is more!

Resurrection Power is in those who believe in Christ

Since Christ was raised, He sent the Holy Spirit. And, for believers, the Holy Spirit dwells in us.

Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us. (Ephesians 3:20

The same power that raised Christ from the dead works within us!

His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness.  (2 Peter 1:3)

We have been made right with God. He will hear our prayers. We can come into the Father’s presence with confidence. (Hebrews 4:16)

We can walk, RIGHT NOW, in newness of life. (Romans 6:4

We can walk, RIGHT NOW, as children of Light. (Ephesians 5:8)

For believers, eternal life has started RIGHT NOW!

Rejoice!

Practice! Now!

Practice Now!

Pilots practice various emergency procedures to get us all safely on the ground in case something happens. Airline pilots are regularly tested on their ability to handle them.

This paid off recently in Denver when an engine failed. Passengers got a thrill, especially those who could see the engine, but safely deplaned after landing.

Pilots have written emergency check lists, but memorize and repeat the initial critical responses in order to promptly and correctly respond.

Practicing emergency procedures is a discipline that applies to us as well. 

Practice

We need to practice trusting God and turning to God now, while the pressure is off. If we know, in advance, what to do when times are tough, how to rely on the Lord, and automatically trust, turn, and rely, we can sail through the trial. 

Challenge yourself this week to put God in the picture whatever comes your way. In times of blessing or trial, be aware that God is there. Thank Him. Turn to Him for wisdom and direction. 

At the end of the day, review and determine to see the Lord in the events of your daily life. 

Practice turning to God, learning from Him, and doing what He says.

Through practice, you prepare for inevitable difficulties. 

Stay ready

Stay ready rather than scrambling when something bad happens.

As a child of God, you have the Holy Spirit in you. The same power that raised Christ from the dead works within you. Practice! Stay ready!

Because

Since He created you, He knows what is best for you. Because He is love, He wants what is best for you. Because He is sovereign, He has the power to bring the best into your life.

And because you are in Christ, you are destined for glory.

Praise God!

~~~

From page 111 When Storms Come: Are You Ready?

Loud Voices Prevailed

Loud Voices Prevailed

Pilate found no guilt in Jesus and wanted to free Jesus. He then said he would punish Him and release Him. 

The crowd cried out. “Away with this man.” “Crucify, crucify Him.” 

They were insistent, with loud voices asking that He be crucified. And their voices began to prevail. (Luke 23:23) 

Pilate, wishing to satisfy the crowd, granted their demand.

Pilate sinned.

What about us? What about our nation?

There are many loud voices, repeating, over and over, their version of reality, and insisting on their way. It appears that their loud voices are beginning to prevail in some quarters. 

Only one voice, Pilate’s wife, countered the crowd , saying: “Have nothing to do with that righteous Man …” (Matthew 27:19) 

Are we speaking out? Resisting? Praying?

And what about loud voices directed at us personally? You might have a difficult co-worker, or acquaintance, or…. What impact does an insistent loud voice have on you?

Overcome

We must be centered in the word of God. We must have a Christian view of reality and current events. We must be able to counter, internally or out-loud as the Spirit directs, falsehood.

These are challenging times. To overcome, we must be walking after our Lord.

And God will strengthen us.