God’s Plan Is Good!

-He Uses Evil Men!

When evil men set their will against God, He will use them & their evil plans for His Sovereign purposes! We’ve been talking about God’s Sovereignty the last couple weeks; and, Scripture tells us that God actually raised up Egypt’s Pharaoh to accomplish His Sovereign purpose:  “The Scripture tells Pharaoh: I raised you up for this reason so that I may display My power in you and that My name may be proclaimed in all the earth” Romans 9:17.  God, in His Sovereignty, turns Pharaoh’s evil plans, for Israel, against him & sets Israel free, from their slavery to Pharaoh, to the praise of His Glory!

-God’s Eternal Plans!

In addition, to His Sovereignty, there is another thread that weaves its way through Scripture; and, it’s closely related to His Sovereignty. I’m referring to God’s eternal plans for His creation! He has a divine plan for all of His Sovereign work in the world & in our lives. One of my most favorite Scriptures, in all the bible, is an acknowledgment that Joseph makes in Genesis chapter 50. After their father Jacob’s death, Joseph’s brothers fear that he will take revenge on them for selling him into slavery many years earlier. But, look at Joseph’s response:  “You planned evil against me; but, God PLANNED it for good to bring about the present result—the survival of many people” Genesis 50:20.

-Confidence In God’s Plans!

Joseph had become so confident, in God’s Sovereignty & His plan for Joseph’s life, that he even trusted God with the evil plans others had against him.  He didn’t separate his “church life” from the “rest of life.” There was no secular for Joseph! Everything, in life, was part of God’s sacred plan! God used Joseph’s negative life incidents to grow him! To sanctify & mature him! To set him free from the bondage & slavery of sin! We also see that God’s plan was to use famine to bring Jacob’s family to Egypt; where, He promised that, in 400 years, He would lead them out of Egypt to a “promised land” that flowed with milk & honey.

-There Are No Coincidences!

In this way, God orchestrated all those “circumstances” to raise up Moses to lead Israel, in their Exodus, out of Egypt.  The world would say it was just a set of “coincidences”! But, we know better! It just “so happened” that Pharaoh’s daughter found Moses, in a basket, among the bulrushes. And, because she “Just happened” to be Pharaoh’s daughter, she had the power to save his life, though Pharaoh had determined to kill all Israelite males! It just “so happened” that Moses’ own birth mother was selected, by Pharaoh’s daughter, to wean him & train him; so, he could grow in the things of Yahweh!

-God’s Never Surprised!

In fact, Moses’ mother was actually paid, by Pharaoh’s daughter, to raise him (Exodus 2:9). Later, God informed Moses that it was “His plan” to send him to Pharaoh & demand, of him, that Egypt would let Israel, God’s people, go! God always has a plan! The Book of Revelation, the last book of the Bible, says that Jesus was, “…the LAMB slain from the foundation of the world…” Rev. 13:8.  From before creation, God had already planned that Jesus, His Son, would come to earth as a man; and, die on the cross to deliver us from sin! What a great God! He’s never taken by surprise! So, even when the world is surprised by a world-wide virus like COVID-19, God had planned, from eternity past, to use it to bring Glory to Himself!

 

Worship Is Giving Your All!

-It Changes Us!

When it’s genuine, worship CHANGES us! It seems, to me, that when Paul defines our “spiritual worship” as presenting “…your bodies as a living sacrifice…” that he interprets worship as a personal meeting, with God, that has such a redemptive & sanctifying impact, on us, that it CHANGES us (Romans 12:1-2).  That’s what genuine worship does to us! Worship is not an exchange where we check it off of our spiritual “TO DO” list so God becomes obligated to give us something in return!

-Worship Is A God Encounter!

Worship is nothing short of an encounter with the living, active, covenant-keeping God! It’s seeing how He humbled Himself & came to the planet—that He created—as a vulnerable baby; and, gave His ALL on the cross for us, so that, He might gain our redemption! Worship is being so moved, by His action, that, in brokenness & humility, we seek nothing more in return; but, in the likeness, of our Savior, we give our all back to Him—A LIVING SACRIFICE! We’re undone! All, of life, becomes worship!

-Before The Face Of God!

The Latin phrase, “coram deo”, means “before the face of God”; and, it’s used in the context of our worship because genuine worship is lived out everywhere & anywhere we find ourselves! Whether it’s our work, or leisure, or family time—there is nothing “secular” that is outside “the face of God” or outside His authority or realm! ALL of life is sacred! We cannot compartmentalize any sector, of our life, and claim it as ours; or, as something out of God’s reach! Paul tells the Church of Rome that spiritual worship is an intentional presentation of our bodies to God—”…present your bodies as a living sacrifice…” To what is Paul referring? The most obvious answer is the Old Testament sacrificial system, where, a lamb was slaughtered—in faith—believing that God would pass over the sin of the one sacrificing! But, I think Paul intends for us to go deeper in our meditation on this passage; and, see the Lamb of God who became the ultimate sacrifice for our sin! Jesus was the final answer—”…once for all…” God said! “It is finished,” Jesus said. There would be no more dead sacrifices!

-The Mercies Of God!

In these 2 verses, Paul says that it’s because of “…the mercies of God…” that we become “…holy & pleasing to God…” when we offer ourselves as a “living sacrifice” to Him!  Worship has everything to do with our redemption—to “redeem” something means to restore it; or, to reclaim it so it can once again be used as it was intended! When Jesus made atonement, for our sin, on the cross, He “redeemed” us—it means He “reclaimed” us, from the sin that had owned us from Adam’s fall; and, He began a “restoration” process, in us, to make us what He originally meant for us to be! And, He’ll complete that process, on the day of our glorification, when we see Him! Paul seems to infer that “worship” will become our “default setting” when we truly grasp the ALL that Jesus gave for us; and, we’ll want to do nothing less but give our all to Him!

 

Longing For Something Bigger

-Living A Conflicted Life

When I came to faith, in Jesus Christ, as a 13-year old boy, I suddenly had this longing to live for something bigger! Like my life had suddenly taken on a bigger meaning than it had before; and, I didn’t want to waste it. My spiritual mentors taught me about Jesus’ 2nd Coming; and, challenged me to be looking for Him with eager anticipation! Instead, I found myself becoming this double-minded man—if Jesus returned, while I was 13 years old, I’d never have the chance to grow up & be an adult. That meant I’d never experience marriage; never have kids; never fulfill all my dreams! So, I was conflicted!

-Aware Of Our Brokenness

It wasn’t that I didn’t want Jesus to come back… I just wanted Him to wait 20 years or so! Perhaps that resonates with you because you thought the same way if you knew the Lord Jesus as a teenager. For those of us truly “born again”, we live in that tension between today and eternity, don’t we? God created us with this survival instinct; so, if we’re mentally and emotionally healthy we wanna live! But, spiritually we’re aware of our brokenness; and, we long for something bigger!

-Made For Vertical Worship

In his excellent book, Vertical Church, James MacDonald starts the 1st chapter with these words:  “Deep in the soul of every human being is a longing for transcendence created within us by God Himself.” Our ministries are not primary; nor, is our fellowship with our faith community! Vertical worship is primary! We are called to make much of our Awesome God! He has called believers out of this world to be His “worshippers”!

-Nothing Bigger Than Pursuing Jesus

Because He alone is worthy of worship, theologically we speak of His “Transcendence”—that He surpasses & exceeds the universe, time and space! His wisdom transcends human wisdom and logic! Scripture puts it like this:  “His ways are not our ways” Isaiah 58:9.  The Apostle Paul’s words to the Church of Ephesus probably define what we mean by God’s Transcendence as accurately as any:  “One God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in all” Ephesians 4:6. That’s what we mean by His Transcendence—God is “above all”; He is “through all”; and, He is “in all.” As believers, there’s nothing we could pursue in life that’s bigger than Jesus! Chase Him!

-All Of Life Is Sacred

The book of Ecclesiastes details Solomon’s experimental pursuits of the intellect, of wealth & luxury, of politics & religion; and, he concluded that all of life’s pursuits are futile by themselves! Solomon concluded:  “When all has been heard, the conclusion of the matter is: fear God and keep His commands, because this is for all humanity.” (ch. 12:13) He learned that you can’t “compartmentalize” life! You can’t separate the “spiritual” from the rest of life; or, you can’t separate the “sacred” from the “secular.”! He’s saying that ALL of life is “sacred.” “Fear God & pursue Him” in all things! Otherwise, life is futile!