Whatever the Lord pleases He does, in heaven and in earth, in the seas and in all deep places” (Psalm 135:6, NKJV).
“God is in control.” We hear that a lot, but what does that mean? The Scriptures help us understand God’s control over the world. (1) God’s sovereign will prevails on earth (Psa. 135:6; Dan. 4:34-35). “He rules and works according to His eternal purpose even through events that seem to contradict or oppose His rule” (Holman, 1523). (2) God did not create the world and then walk away from it. The false theology that only nature’s laws operate in this world is called Deism. It rejects God’s interaction with His creation whether by revelation, by miracles, or by answering prayers (Eph. 3:3-5; Heb. 2:4; Matt. 7:7-11; Acts 14:17). (3) God does not control every event in your life. Free will means we can choose between good and evil, and our choices have consequences (Deut. 30:19; Gal. 6:7-8). Conversely, fatalism is the “doctrine that events are fixed in advance so that human beings are powerless to change them” (Merriam-Webster). Calvinism’s doctrine of predestination is false since God gave us free will (Josh. 24:15). (4) God’s plan for us is that we fear Him and keep His commandments (Eccl. 12:13). His will and purposes prevail in heaven and earth, and human redemption in Christ is the centerpiece (Rom. 8:28-30). Through the gospel, God is calling us to believe and obey Him to be saved and walk with Him in life and eternity (Mark 16:15-16; 1 John 1:5-10; Matt. 7:21-23).
30 No wisdom, no understanding, no counsel can avail against the Lord. 31 The horse is made ready for the day of battle, but the victory belongs to the Lord. (Proverbs 21:30–31, ESV)
A great temptation faced by all is to believe our wisdom, understanding, and counsel are unquestionably better than any other. This temptation opens a door through which pride enters to prevail over our thinking and conduct. The sin of pride leaves God and His will out of the picture as we make decisions and set the course of our lives. James put it this way, “Come now, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit’— yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, ‘If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.’ As it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil” (Jas. 4:13-16, ESV). We must revere God’s sovereignty in all our preparations for success (whether in business, in relationships, politics, or any other endeavor under the sun). Our wisdom, understanding, and counsel cannot prevail against the revealed will and purposes of God. God gives grace to the humble but resists the proud – a lesson we all need to remember (Jas. 4:6). As we “fight the good fight of faith” and “lay hold on eternal life,” we must not forget the victory belongs to the Lord, not to us (1 Tim. 6:12).
If the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do? (Psalm 11:3, NKJV)
The foundations of our society are cracked. Decades of denying the existence of God and His truth, of sanctioning the killing innocent, unborn life, of oppression of our neighbors to get ahead, and of rejecting the fundamental truths of morality and marriage – all these and more can tempt us to despair of hope and remedy. Through David, God gives us answers that look above the moment and beyond the horizon of hurt and horror. When the foundations are destroyed, the righteous can 1) Keep their trust in the Lord God (Psa. 11:1-2). Corrective truth comes from God, not humans (Jer. 10:23). He protects us from an eternal perspective that we must foster that grounds us in times of trouble. 2) Remember God has not moved (Psa. 11:4). He remains enthroned in heaven; His sovereignty secures our faith and assures us His purposes prevail. 3) Know God sees and investigates every person and judges between the good and the evil (Psa. 11:4-6). The wicked do not escape His gaze and cannot hide from His justice (Rev. 6:12-17). 4) Know God is righteous, and He loves righteousness (Psa. 11:7). He beholds and rewards those who seek peace and pursue righteousness (Matt. 6:33). The righteous remain steadfast when foundations are shaken because we have a kingdom that cannot be shaken. God is a consuming fire upon evil and the sustaining hope of all who serve Him “acceptably with reverence and godly fear” (Heb. 12:27-29). These are the things the righteous can do.
8 Come, behold the works of the Lord, Who has made desolations in the earth. 9 He makes wars cease to the end of the earth; He breaks the bow and cuts the spear in two; He burns the chariot in the fire. 10 Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth! 11 The Lord of hosts is with us; The God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah” (Psalm 46:8–11, NKJV)
The Lord continues to rule over the kingdoms of men, which testifies of His boundless wisdom and power to be our refuge in times of distress (Dan. 4:25-26, 34-35). God uses times of turbulence and warfare to raise nations and bring them down according to His purposes and judgments (Amos 6:14; Hab. 1:5-11; Jer. 50:8-16). Eyes of faith see God’s justice roll “down like water, and righteousness like a mighty stream” to execute His will among the nations (Amos 5:24-27). Instead of being anxiously distracted from trusting and obeying the Lord in times of trial, Christians keep their faith set squarely upon God. Eyes of faith see God’s exalted place, power, and providence in all things. So, in reverent humility, let us pause and ponder during the psalmist’s interlude (Selah), and grasp the comfort in knowing God is our stronghold – a mighty fortress in times of trouble (Psa. 9:9; 27:5).
“one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.” (Ephesians 4:6, NKJV)
The ancient world had many, many gods. Paul acknowledged the obvious, “For even if there are so-called gods, whether in heaven or on earth (as there are many gods and many lords)” (1 Cor. 8:5). Times have not changed. There are literally millions of gods in Hinduism. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons) teach there are many gods over many worlds ((Joseph Smith, Jr., History of the Church, VI:474-475), even as their Book of Mormon says there is one God (Alma 11:26-31). But, the one true God has revealed His power and deity through creation (Rom. 1:20). He has revealed His character and His will through Jesus Christ (Col. 1:15; Heb. 1:1-2). There is no other God than the God of the Bible (Isa. 44:6). While there are many things about God we do not know, we can understand what He has revealed of Himself in nature and in His Scriptures. He is our Creator (“Father of all,” Acts 17:25, and heavenly Father of His schildren, Matt. 6:9). He is Sovereign (“above all,” Acts 11:26). He sustains our lives (“through all,” Acts 17:28). And, He lives with His people (“in you all,” Jno. 14:23). He is the great Unifier of Christians in the (one) body of Christ, the church (Eph. 1:20-23). His reward is with all who diligently seek Him and worship Him in spirit and truth (Jno. 4:23-24; Heb. 11:6).
O Lord, our Lord, how excellent is Your name in all the earth, who have set Your glory above the heavens! (Psalm 8:1, NKJV)
Yahweh (Jehovah) is the eternally-existing One, the great I AM (Exodus 3:14-15). He is Lord (sovereign) over heaven and earth, and so His name (His honor, authority and character) is renown in all the earth and above the heavens. Our concept of God, our attitudes toward God and our conduct toward God must reverence His supreme place of power and praise. Only then are we able to submit to Him fully, worship Him acceptability, and serve Him faithfully. Only then do we live by every word that comes from His mouth (Deuteronomy 8:3; Matthew 4:4). We are without excuse for being under His wrath when we choose to reject God and will not honor His majesty and respect His rule over us (Romans 1:18-20). We corrupt ourselves in unbelief if we spurn His majestic honor to serve gods after our own image (Romans 1:21-23). We must always recall that God, who reigns supreme, has crowned us with glory and honor (Psalm 8:3-8). We are not gods – He is the only God! He alone, by His great might, overwhelms silences every foe. How utterly disrespectful it is to disdain His name and refuse to live thankful, holy, and obedient lives. When we say we love God then our lives must show our love by obedient submission to His will and by faithful thanksgiving to Him for His abundant blessings.
1 Then Job answered and said: 2 “Even today my complaint is bitter; My hand is listless because of my groaning. 3 Oh, that I knew where I might find Him, that I might come to His seat! 4 I would present my case before Him, and fill my mouth with arguments.” (Job 23:1–4, NKJV)
Have you ever complained against God? Like Job, most of us at one time or the other have found ourselves in a place that was not of our own choosing – someplace we never thought we would be. “Why this trial?” “Why this pain?” “Why this loneliness?” As such times we are tempted to blame God, to long for a chance to explain things to God about why we are being treated so unfairly. We are tempted to think we know more than God. We may even find ourselves arguing against God by opposing and rejecting His word, the inspired Scriptures. We think we know better. But, the truth is, we don’t. The truth is, our eyes need to be opened to God’s power and purposes, as Job’s were when God explained things to him (Job 38-41). Then, Job understood God is sovereign and that we never counsel God (Job 42:1-2). Job confessed, “Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know” (Job 42:3). Don’t blame God. Don’t argue with God. Trust Him, believe His word and follow His truth. Come what may, He does all things well (Mark 7:37; Romans 8:35-39). Instead of asking, “Why me?” ask, “Why not me?”
5 And the heavens will praise Your wonders, O Lord; Your faithfulness also in the assembly of the saints. 6 For who in the heavens can be compared to the Lord? Who among the sons of the mighty can be likened to the Lord? 7 God is greatly to be feared in the assembly of the saints, And to be held in reverence by all those around Him. (Psalm 89:5–7, NKJV)
The sovereign majesty of God is on full display in the heavens: “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament shows His handiwork” (Psalm 19:1). The wondrous precision of the heavenly bodies sustains life on earth and measures time on this globe. God faithfully works in the heavens and in the assembly of His holy ones. He rises above all the heavenly host and is held in reverential awe by them. The holy ones before His throne proclaim, “You are worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honor and power; For You created all things, and by Your will they exist and were created” (Revelation 4:11). How much more so, then, ought we to fall before His majesty with reverential praise and adoration! Worship is not play time, entertainment time, or anything else but giving homage to the Lord God “in spirit and truth” (John 4:24). As the hymn says, “There is none like Him, none can compare.”
67 Now his father Zacharias was filled with the Holy Spirit, and prophesied, saying: 68 “Blessed is the Lord God of Israel, for He has visited and redeemed His people, 69 and has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of His servant David,” (Luke 1:67–69, NKJV)
With words of inspiration, the father of the forerunner of the Messiah, spoke forth praise unto God for His wonderful provisions of redemption. God’s plan of redemption for Israel (as well as the nations) was always spiritual in nature. In Christ Jesus, this plan is fully realized and accomplished, as salvation from sins is provided through Him (Galatians 4:4-7; Ephesians 2:11-18). Note the threefold aspect of Israel’s redemption, as proclaimed by Zacharias: 1) Its Source is supernatural. The Lord Himself visited and redeemed His people. Jesus Christ is this supernatural visitor and Redeemer (John 1:11-13); 2) Its Strength is salvation. God’s might against sin is magnified in Jesus Christ, the Savior of the world (Acts 4:12); 3) Its Sovereign reigns. The Messiah sits on the throne of His father, David, ruling the kingdom of God (Luke 1:32-33; Psalm 110:1-2; Acts 2:32-36). God has sent His salvation. His name is Jesus. He calls us out of sin and into the warmth of His love and forgiveness. Come to Jesus; He will save you (Matthew 11:28-30).
3 The floods have lifted up, O Lord, the floods have lifted up their voice; the floods lift up their waves. 4 The Lord on high is mightier than the noise of many waters, than the mighty waves of the sea. (Psalm 93:3–4, NKJV)
Jehovah God, clothed in majesty and girded with strength, reigns in eternity, high above the world He created (Psalm 93:1-2). Powerful flood waters rise as hurricanes and cyclones ravage coastal plains. Disaster strikes. Lives lost. Property destroyed. But, our God reigns on high, and is mightier than the strongest tidal surge. He appointed the boundaries of the seas; they will not prevail beyond measure (Psalm 104:5-9). The havoc of storms, floods, and other natural catastrophes bring into focus the sovereign power and majesty of God. Our confidence is in Him who never slumbers nor sleeps (Psalm 121:4). Most importantly, God’s mercy and truth endure through the dark night of sin’s terror, brightening the way to eternity (Colossians 1:13; Ephesians 5:8). Fellow Jesus, and have the light of life (John 8:12). He will see you through the storm, and land you safely on eternity’s shore.