6. LETTING GOD BE GOD
1 Chronicles 29: 10 - 13
Today I want us to look at God's Sovereignty - 1 Chron. 29: 11 "Everything in the heavens and earth is yours, O Lord, and this is your kingdom. We adore you as being in control of everything." Sovereignty simply means that God is in control. He's in control of everything because He created everything. He created nature. He sustains nature. When He wants to overrule it and do a miracle, He overrules it. It's His prerogative. God is in control of history. Everything is moving toward a climax. God is in control of our lives. God's sovereignty decided when and where you were going to be born. God decided already how long you are going to live. God has decided already which natural abilities and gifts you were going to have, you didn't deserve or earn. You were born with certain talents. God gave them to you in His sovereignty.
If God is in control of everything, do I even have a choice? Is there really any freedom? Yes there is freedom. But it is limited. There are boundaries which you cannot go beyond. You do not have total freedom. God gives you freedom to choose the way you want to live, but once you make those choices you are no longer free. You are not free to choose the consequences. God says if you do certain things then certain things are going to be the result. You reap what you sow. I want us to take this truth - that God is in control - and talk about 3 practical ways this applies to your life.
1. MY PLANS: BECAUSE GOD IS IN CONTROL, MY PLANS HAVE A LIMIT
God decides what the limitations are in your life and my life. Proverbs 19:21 "Many are the plans in a man's heart, but it is the Lord's purpose that prevails." Proverbs 16:1 (GN) "We may make our plans, but God has the last word." Have you discovered that things do not always go the way you planned them? At best your plans are tentative because you can't see ahead. You make plans but they really are changeable. Many times God has a better idea. How many of you did not marry the first person you intended to marry? Enter the first career you intended to go in to? God changed your plans.
God changes our plans. We need to be tentative in our plans. We need to be flexible in our plans.
Wrong Attitude: Presumption - I don't need God. I can work it out. I know exactly what I'm going to do. I'm not going to pray about anything. I just assume that everything is going to go the way it's intended to go, that's presumption.
Life is uncertain - we should not presume on it. James 4:13-15 "Now listen, you who say `Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business, and make money. Why, you don't even know what will happen tomorrow! Instead, you ought to say, `If it is the Lord's will, we will live and do this or that.'" It's OK to make plans as long as you understand that they are tentative. A mature person makes his plans flexible. Mature faith is changeable. I make plans but I realize ultimately God calls the shots in my life.
Right Attitude: Co-operation - I include God in my plans. How? You pray. Anything without prayer is presumption. People used to write at the end of letters "DV" which stands for Deo Volente - "God Willing." "I'm going to come see you Lord willing. I realize that ultimately my plans may be changed." That's the right attitude. Proverbs 16:9 (LB) "We should make plans counting on God to direct us." That's cooperation. Make plans but realize they are tentative. “God, what do You want me to do?” Pray about your plans. Ask Him for wisdom. Since God is in control my plans have a limit.
2. MY PROBLEMS: BECAUSE GOD IS IN CONTROL, MY PROBLEMS HAVE A PURPOSE
1 Peter 1: 6, 7 (Ph) "At present, you may be temporarily harassed by all kinds of trials. This is no accident.It happens to prove your faith which is infinitely more valuable than gold." Life is not a series of random events that have no meaning. If you are a child of God, nothing can come into your life without the heavenly father's permission.
I am not saying that everything that happens is God's will. It isn't. There are many things that happen in life that are not God's will. Sin is not God's will. Someone gets cancer - "Must be
God's will". Who said? Someone's in an accident and dies - "Must be God's will". Who said?
We are to pray "Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven" because God's will is not always done. I'm not saying that everything is God's will or that He causes everything. He doesn't. He doesn't cause sin. He doesn't even cause all your problems. He doesn't have to. We bring enough problems on ourselves. Other people bring enough problems on us.
What I am saying is this: God allows - He permits - problems. Then He uses them for a greater purpose. God could have kept Paul out of prison at Philippi, but He let him go to prison. He allowed it. As a result the jailer became a Christian. How should I respond to my problems knowing that every problem has a purpose behind it and that God hasn't caused it but has permitted it for a reason?
Examples: Job was the wealthiest man in the world and he lost it all overnight. He went bankrupt and all of his family was killed except his nagging wife. Then he got a dreaded disease and he's miserable. Even Satan couldn't get at Job without God's permission. Satan had to come to God and say, "Can I do this to Job" and God said, "You can do this and no further." Satan can not even get at your life without God's permission. There is only one God and even Satan has to do what God says. If you lost everything the way Job did, how would you respond?
Job 1:21 "The Lord gave me everything I had, and they were His to take away. Blessed be the name of the Lord." Job says, everything I have comes from God anyway. He gave it to me, He can take it all away. It is His right. The end of the story is that God later restored everything the devil had taken away, twice as much. Because God is in control. He says "Blessed be the name of the Lord. He is in control." He is a good God and knows what He's doing.
Joseph is an example of how to handle things when people hurt you intentionally. I'm sure he was saying, "Where is God in all of this? What did I do to deserve this?" If I were Joseph I'd be saying, "Why me, God?" But he was exactly where God wanted him to be. God was in control and God was working through circumstances and situations. He didn't cause it but he allowed the brothers to sell him in to slavery. Later on, Joseph rose to a position of prominence in Egypt and there was a great famine. Because of his wisdom both Egypt and Israel were saved. Later he came face to face with the very brothers that tried to hurt him. Genesis 50:20, one of the greatest verses in the Bible. Joseph says to his brothers, "You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives."
Some of you are hurt right now by bosses, brothers, sisters, employees, by other people. They mean it for bad but God means it for good. There are people who are out to destroy you or maybe they don't like you and are trying to get your job. They mean it for bad but God is in control and He means it for good and He's got a purpose behind every problem.
What is the key to my response then? Look past the pain and try to find God's purpose behind the pain. Some things in life we're never going to know. Why do people die at a certain time? I don't know! We all die eventually. Why now? I don't know! But God has a plan and God is a good God. He's in control. Look past the pain. 2 Cor. 4:16, 17 (Ph) "This is the reason we never lose heart. These troubles (which are temporary) are winning for us a permanent, glorious, and solid reward out of proportion to our pain." In the next verse Paul says, "We don't look at the temporary problems we're going through. We keep our eyes on the eternal things. The things that really count. The things that matter." Look past the pain.
God is in control. Your problems have a purpose and your plans have a limit.
3. MY PRAYERS: BECAUSE GOD IS IN CONTROL, MY PRAYERS HAVE AN IMPACT
They make a difference. They're worthwhile. It's not a waste of time to pray. Have you ever prayed and felt you were just blowing off steam. Is anybody really hearing this? Prayer works. Because God controls everything He has the ability to answer your prayers. If God were not sovereign then prayer would be a waste of time. Because He is sovereign then we can pray and it does make an impact. That's the basis of every miracle. God is in charge of everything so He can change things. He can overrule nature and He can heal somebody. He can make time last longer or make it rain or not make it rain, split the Red Sea, turn water into wine. He can do anything He wants to do.
Ephesians 3:20 (LB) "God is able to do far more than we would ever dare to ask or even dream of infinitely beyond our highest prayers, desires, thoughts, or hopes." The point is, prayer can do whatever God can do. Why don't we then take more advantage of it? Over 20 times in the NT - "Ask." Ask, Seek, Knock. God says "I want you to ask. I'm in charge. I'm in control. Ask and I'll show you great and mighty things that you don't know. Prayer does have an impact.
It's encouraging to me that the things that are beyond my control are not beyond God's control. My children – my health – my present situation - nothing beyond God's control. Pray about it. God can control it. That is the power of prayer.
Let's apply this to your life in a practical way.
Do you include God in your plans? Which of these words best describe your attitude: presumption or cooperation. Many Christians live as if God were not in control. That's why there is so much frustration in your life.
Some of you are saying, "One day I'm going to become a Christian - one of these days I'm going to make my peace with God and ask forgiveness and make sure I know I'm going to heaven when I die. I'm going to settle this and really commit myself. I'm planning to do it." That is presumptuous! None of us have any guarantee of any tomorrow. Don't presume upon the future. Now is the day of salvation. Today is the accepted time. Do it now while you know you're still here!
Do you look for God's purpose in your problems or do you throw a pity party? Maybe God just wants you to trust Him. To trust Him without question, to trust His goodness and graciousness and His control. If you lost everything, like Job, how would you respond? Would you have the maturity of faith to say, "The Lord gave. The Lord took away. Blessed be the name of the Lord. If He wants to restore it He can do it."
Do you take advantage of the privilege of prayer? Instead of complaining about that boss or that job, why don't you try praying about the job? Instead of worrying about your finances, why don't you try praying about your finances? You'll have a lot less to worry about. Instead of giving up on your marriage, why don't you pray about your marriage? The things that are beyond your control are not beyond God's control.
There is no attribute that is more comforting to the Christian than the attribute of God called His sovereignty. He is in control.
Prayer: Father, thank You that You are in charge. What a comfort that is. We look at the world and it's troubling to see chaos and yet there is a grand design above it all. Even the problems that come into our lives are there by Your permission. Help us to learn that our plans have a limit, our problems have a purpose and our prayers have an impact because of You. In Jesus' name. Amen.