He Doesn’t Control Some Things

That’s right.  He controls all things.  

Is a trumpet blown in a city,and the people are not afraid?  Does disaster come to a city, unless the Lord has done it? 

Amos 3:6

Who has spoken and it came to pass, unless the Lord has commanded it?  Is it not from the mouth of the Most High that good and bad come?  Why should a living man complain, a man, about the punishment of his sins? 

Lamentations 3:37-39

For truly in this city there were gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, to do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place.

Acts 4:27-28

And this is very, very Good News.  

The greatest comfort I can give a child of God, and I can only give it to a child of God (meaning someone who has been adopted by God through faith in Jesus Christ), is that God is in total, absolute control of your pain.   And the reason why that’s comforting for the Christian is that God promises to work all things together for the good of His elect.  

This is a God whose hand predestined the worst sin in history for His people’s rescue.  

He does no evil, but neither is He perplexed or surprised by any evil.  And He will work all things together for His good purposes.  

From the other side of Christ’s return, there will not be one moment of history, from Eden’s tree to Calvary’s Cross to Hitler’s Holocaust to Hell’s shut doors, where Satan will be able to say, “Well, at least He didn’t get to work that one out for His purposes.”  When all is said and done, God’s glory and beauty and His people’s good will be pulled from every page of history, even the bloody and awful and scary ones.  And the greatest proof of that is Christ’s bloody and awful Cross.  

Some of you who are born again and in chaos or agony need to internalize this.  

What is frustrating to the unbelieving heart is peace to believing one:  There is no sovereign but God.  

I am telling you to pray to the God who will roll up the sky like a blanket, who set the Milky Way spinning as though it were a top, who fashioned all our souls from His own creative heart.  This is not a God who will win at the last second on a Hail Mary.  I am here to tell you there is a King in the Heavens.  A King.  God is not a powerful figure with good intentions who can only do so much.  This is the King of all creation, and He is taking audiences with all who will call upon Him in faith.  

There is nothing that befalls us that is not ordained by the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. 

Keep all your gods, America.  I have met the only One who can save a man like me.  

This God is in control.


Good Strength

I get seduced, often, by the brash, self-exalting trumpeting that passes as success or manhood in certain circles.  I know conservative Christians who do it, people who I’d agree with on theology and ethics, but who speak or e-mail or post in a way that magnifies themselves and denigrates almost everyone else.  I see it on reality TV, on Shark Tank, in the NFL and UFC and in Donald Trump.  And of course I often see it in myself.  When I look down on someone whose life is a little more chaotic than mine, or when I deem myself a failure for all the wrong reasons.  

It’s an attractive lie, that being strong and successful and self-vindicating is a satisfying way of life.  

But Jesus is strong as iron, unbreakable, and His glory and worth outshine every king and model and billionaire.  Jesus is purer and better and more central to the story than any of us.  And He allowed Himself to be humiliated and punished so that the ones given to Him might be rescued.  

Good strength gives of itself.  Good love isn’t puffed up.  A Christlike heart doesn’t need to beat its chest and shout out its greatness.  A mind conformed to be like His doesn’t need to fret about carving out its place in the world; it is free to give of itself and humble itself.  A Christlike soul can simply rest in what it has received.  

The degree to which we clamor to prove ourselves, to which we brag about our righteousness and despair about our failures, reveals how far our heart is from the Messiah’s.  

Only fake gods have to counterfeit their strength. 

The real God traded glory for shame, and wore a crown of thorns while Pilate hid in his palace, scared of a crowd.  The rest of us seek to be gods, and would often sooner die than give up what we hope will be our glory.  But Jesus took on skin and washed feet like a slave and hung on a Roman Cross and endured the wrath of God, and did it all freely.  

Tonight I pray for a heart more like His.  To have a heart so satisfied in God that being braggadocious seems obnoxious, and being self-forgetful a joy.  

Not that we dare to classify or compare ourselves with some of those who are commending themselves. But when they measure themselves by one another and compare themselves with one another, they are without understanding. 

2 Corinthians 10:12