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God’s Sovereignty

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It’s probably quite obvious that Nora and I are both insanely passionate about the sovereignty of the Lord – it’s honestly my favorite attribute of who He is. To think, God predestined for His children to choose sin over His Glory in the garden and planned the most beautiful story of redemption through the Cross, it never ever ever gets old.

To define God’s sovereignty, A.W Pink says, “The sovereignty of God may be defined as the exercise of his supremacy. Being infinitely elevated above the highest creature, He is the Most High, Lord of heaven and earth. Subject to none, influenced by none, absolutely independent; God does as He pleases, only as He pleases as He pleases.” God’s sovereignty is necessary for our salvation, but I wanted to discuss why it gets even better through a life’s process of sanctification.

One of my most favorite things to say whether I am praying over someone, reminding myself of the sovereignty of the Lord, or explaining the doctrine of predestination is – “We are never outside of God’s Will.” I feel like those 7 words hold so much weight, so I wanted to unpack them a bit. As sinful human beings, it can be quite intimidating to know someone is ordaining every single one of my actions. I love being in control of what I do, where I go, and who I am — but isn’t that the essence of total depravity anyway? I think the basis of God’s sovereignty has got to begin with salvation; if we don’t believe He’s sovereign and in complete control over our salvation, than why would we believe He controls all other aspects of our lives? So, yes God is indeed sovereign over our sinful little hearts, softening them and opening our eyes to see His Glory. But let’s check that with scripture first; Ephesians 1:5-7 —”He predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace.” Pretty clear ;) 

Sooooo every little thing we do, even sin, is predestinated by the God of the Universe? Yes, yes it is. But yes, we have responsibility over our choices. The Lord graciously provides us with wisdom — “Do not forsake wisdom, and she will protect you; love her, and she will watch over you. The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom. Though it cost all you have, get understanding.” Proverbs 4:6-7. As Christ followers, there is this constant tension of knowing God is sovereign over our choices, but also being wise. It’s dang hard. The first thing to agree on is that God is in control of our wills, desires, and motives. John Piper coined the term “Christian Hedonism” (I have my own thoughts about that term, but it fits for this argument). Essentially, Piper’s argument is we will make a god out of what we take most pleasure in. So, God transforms our hearts, and places specific desires in our hearts. Obviously, the main one is His Glory above all. Say I have two choices in front me, UGA or Harvard — the one I pick is the one God has given me the greatest desire for. I am not in control of my desires, God is. Our choices come back to that each and every time. So, we are redeemed, still tainted by sin though. In understanding this, we recognize that sometimes our desires will be very sinful — acknowledging whose in control, we go to the Lord in prayer, understanding the depth of our sin, and beg Him to replace that sinful desire with holiness. Accountability, prayer, scripture, and the local church are such necessary remedies for such desires. 

I know you remember me saying that I believe God ordains our sin — so confusing, I know, but so.dang.good!! God plays no part in sin and hates sin — but he does ordain sin for such greater good. Hear me out. Genesis 50:20 “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.” Joseph literally spoke this doctrine clear as day alllll the way back Genesis. Joseph’s brothers wanted to kill him, God wanted to save a ton of people. So, God ordained their sin, knowing the sinful desires of their heart — but ultimately their sin would bring about Joseph saving a ton of people and becoming the ruler over Egypt. I bet his brothers never had that intent when they were trying to kill him. 

 Sit in this truth, wrestle with it, and cling to it. 

 “There is no attribute more comforting to His children than that of God’s sovereignty. Under the most adverse circumstances, in the most severe trials, they believe that Sovereignty has ordained their afflictions, that Sovereignty overrules them, and that Sovereignty will sanctify them. There is nothing for which the children ought more earnestly to contend than the doctrine of their Master over all creation — the Kingship of God over all the works of His own hands — the Throne of God and His right to sit upon that throne . . . It is God upon the throne that we love to preach. It is God upon the throne whom we trust.”

—- Charles Spurgeon



For more on this subject, check out the book, What About Free Will: Reconciling Our Choices with God’s Sovereignty.


Resting in God’s Love

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Without God’s love we have no breath in our lungs.

Without God’s love we have no ground to stand on.

Without God’s love we have no joy in our hearts.

God is love. Without him we have nothing, gain nothing, are nothing.

God’s love is satisfaction, joy, peace and goodness. What He sent His perfect son to do on the cross was for no other reason than that he loved each and every one of his children so deeply, so intensely, so perfectly that he would do whatever it took to reconcile them to Himself. For our good, and HIS glory. Romans 8:28 — “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.”

Is it just me or is it hard to balance the understanding of our sin, yet the reality of God’s love for us in spite of it? It is much easier to be hyper aware of my sin, fighting it with every fiber of my being, than to walk in the reality of His love for me. I forget to give God the glory that the battle against sin has already been won -- and praise Him all the more for it.

Christian, I plead with you to rest. Do not hear me say to stop fighting, hear me say to REST in the love God bestows upon his children. When He looks at you, He sees HIS work through Jesus on the cross, not your filthy sinful heart. He sees the you He created for His glory and the you He will spend eternity being worshipped by.

So, how do we walk in both?

Acknowledge your wretched state before Christs work, weep over it, mourn your sin. James 4:9 — “Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom.” Then acknowledge the state the cross puts us in. Romans 8:1 — “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”

For the regenerate Christ-follower the two go hand in hand, and by His daily grace to us we find the balance in seeking him daily, hourly, minute by minute. The gracious, loving God of heaven and earth did not send his son to die on the cross for us to mope around wallowing in our sin. His love sets us free, His love is our new identity. Find the balance and get comfortable there. Fight your sin always, yet trust with your whole heart that God is a God of love.

I leave you with this sweet verse of to rest in, Psalm 90:14 — “Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love, that we may rejoice and be glad all our days.” His love is satisfying, His love is joy, His love is a gracious gift to all who confess and believe that Christ Jesus is Lord. If you are in Christ, your Heavenly Father has credited all of Christ’s righteousness upon you — He loves you. The Creator of the Universe chose you and loves you.

-Nora

“If you have true faith that Christ is your Savior, then at once you have a gracious God, for faith leads you in and opens up God’s heart and will, that you should see pure grace and overflowing love. This is it to behold God in faith that you should look upon his fatherly, friendly heart, in which there is no anger nor ungraciousness. He who sees God as angry does not see him rightly but looks only on a curtain as if a dark cloud had been drawn across his face.”

— Martin Luther

Words. 

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According to Language Log, the average person speaks 13,500 words. 13,500. 13,500. Let’s really break this down – the average day is roughly 15 hours, that means you are speaking 900 words per hour. You really have an impact on people. I am not trying to say that to build you up and make you feel all good inside, I am saying that to show you that the words you speak really do matter. 

 1 Corinthians 10:31 – “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”

 Proverbs 15:1 – “A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.”

 James 1:26 – “Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless.” 

 Proverbs 15:4 – “A gentle tongue is a tree of life, but perverseness in it breaks the spirit.” 

 Proverbs 16:24 – “Gracious words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body.”

 Matthew 15:11 – “What goes into someone’s mouth does not defile them, but what comes out of their mouth, that is what defiles them.”

 Proverbs 18:4 – “A person’s words can be life-giving water; words of true wisdom are as refreshing as a bubbling brook.”

 Colossians 4:6 – “Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” 

 Proverbs 18:21 – “The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit.”

 1 Peter 3:10 – “Whoever would love life and see good days must keep their tongue from evil and their lips from deceitful speech.”

 Ephesians 4:29 – “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”

 Proverbs 10:19 – “Sin is not ended by multiplying words, but the prudent hold their tongues.”

 Psalm 141:3 – ‘Set a guard over my mouth, Lord; keep watch over the door of my lips.”

 This doesn’t even come to close to the amount of times scripture mentions the power of the tongue 

The first words that come out of your mouth in the morning are directed toward your husband, wife, children or roommates. Every single morning – those are the people that hear you talk to them every day. You talk to the cashier at the grocery store. You thank the man that made your coffee this morning at Starbucks. You are short and maybe even rude to the waitress that isn’t waiting on your table the way you expect her to. You are in a bad mood when you get home from work and choose to walk past your roommates without saying a word to them, or even worse, you’re harsh with them. Your child throws there 36th temper tantrum today, and so yelling is how you choose to handle the situation. The list could go on you – you have dozens up dozens of interactions per day. Some of these interactions may be with the same people, while others are with people you may never see again. Either way, they are impacted by the words that you speak. It’s insane to me how careless we are with our words. In one moment, I tell my roommates how much I appreciate them, and literally 10 minutes later, I am speaking quite rudely to them because there are dishes in the sink.  

 The claim you make as a Christ follower is evident in the words you speak. John 14:15 – “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” Scripture is pretty cut and dry – if you make the claim that you love the Lord, and Jesus died on the cross for your sins, those 13 Bible verses above will really resonate with your soul. Your desire with the stranger you pass on the sidewalk, your husband, or your roommate will be to speak words of encouragement because that is what glorifies the Lord. If this is not your desire, because on most days it probably won’t be because of how prone to selfishness we are – beg the Lord for the desire to glorify Him in your speech. Don’t believe the lie that it’s just ‘a’ word. You speak 13,500 a day. Words matter. People are affected by them. 

 The very next word that comes out of your mouth will either glorify the Lord or not, lead you to sin or not, encourage whose listening or not, or share the gospel or not. I challenge you to mediate on those Bible verses above, ask the Holy Spirit to convict you and give you a gentle spirit. Be really careful with your words this week. You are an image bearer of the Creator of the universe. He has given you standards for speech. 

— Sam

For more on this topic, go watch Paul David Tripps sermon ‘War of Words: Getting to the Heart for God’s Sake’


Psalm 23

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The Lord is my Shepard; I shall not want

He makes me lie down in green pastures.

He leads me besides still waters. 

He restores my soul.

He leads me in paths of righteousness for his names sake. 

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil,

For you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; 

You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. 

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life,

And I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever. 

Okay, you’ve read this time and time again, but do we really understand the implications – “The Lord is my Shepard, I shall not want.”

The Lord is my Shepard, I shall not want. Let’s break this down. The Lord, the Creator of the Universe, the Maker of the stars and heavens, the One who gave you life and breath, is your Shepard. He is your ultimate and final caregiver, He knit you together in your mother’s womb, and has ordained every minute of your life from the beginning to the end. Sheep are not concerned about what they will eat for dinner, because they know they have a Shepard who provides for there every need. If it’s so easy for sheep to get the idea, why is it so difficult for me to get it? The Lord knows your needs, yes, he knows your wants – but thank Him that He doesn’t give you your every want. Could you imagine? Praise Him that He is sovereign and gives you precisely, exactly what you need, right when you need it. You will never go a day lacking anything because the Lord is your Shepard. Whatever you think you need and don’t have, your Father must not think you need it – so praise Him. 

Why would I be invited as an honored guest to such a feast reserved for faithful servants of the King? After all, our obedience is sporadic at best, and often far less than it should be. We have frequently and deliberately turned our backs on obedience and joined the rebels in eager worship of their idols. Instead of steadfast love and mercy, we deserve God’s covenant curse to pursue us all the days of our lives. But yet, Jesus lacked everything on the cross, so we don’t have to lack anything. He was beaten, forsaken and abandoned. Instead of being with His Father, he was left on the cross – shamed in darkness to die alone Christ lacked everything so we in turn lack nothing because the Lord is my Shepard. His omniscient, sovereign care is all I need for joy and peace. There is nothing I need that I don’t have because I lack nothing.

Ligoneer Ministries

— Sam





Lauren Daigle — let’s talk.

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If I could take Lauren Daigle to Blackbird, my local coffee shop in Milledgeville, GA and just chat – 

 No matter what theological beliefs you have – because I can pretty much guarantee we have many differences, we do agree that Jesus died on the cross for sinners, and without His saving grace, we are dead in sin. I rejoice in the fact that we agree on this. On another note, I can’t imagine how difficult your career must be. You have people constantly watching your every move, listening to every word that comes out of your mouth – waiting for you to mess up, waiting to disagree with you on anything they can. I bet you feel an intense amount of pressure. Your music has really started to resonate not just with Christian listeners, but others who would choose not to identify themselves as Christians. Before I write anything else, I just want to say – it must be so difficult and exhausting at times. 

 After hearing the debut of your new album, “Look Up Child,” some of the lyrics were confusing to me, some of the lyrics reminded of something my boyfriend would sing to me. I did not believe the lyrics placed any emphasis on the holiness of God – but it wasn’t reason enough to speak up. Several weeks back, you were on the Ellen DeGeneres show, and did once speak up and share the Gospel. This too confused me, because any opportunity we have to share the truth to those who have never heard it – we as Christ followers are called to gladlytake that opportunity. Still, at this point it was not reason enough to speak up.

 Earlier this week, I heard an interview you had with “The Domenick Nati Show” on iHeart radio. You claimed that you had no idea if homosexuality was a sin because “you are not God.” You continued to go on and say that you are experiencing a great deal of criticism because you aren’t “doing what people want you to do.” You ended this interview by saying that it is sad that people believe Ellen is bad because she is gay, you expressed that, “She is so joyful. She is so kind.” At this point, I do believe this is reason enough to speak up because I have to defend the sufficiency of scripture. 

 God has standards for the way we live our lives

 Romans 1:26-28 

"Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. In the same way, the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error. Furthermore, just as they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, so God gave them over to a depraved mind, so that they do what ought not to be done."

 1 Corinthians 6:9-11

“Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

 Genesis 1:27 

“So, God created man in his own image, in the image of God, he created him, male and female he created them”

 

I have never met Ellen, but from what she shares on her TV show – she exemplifies more kindness than most people I know. Unfortunately, kindness doesn’t save you, recognizing the state of your sinful nature, the blood shed on the cross for your sins and living a life of obedience to the Lord does. I am so glad that Ellen is kind, kindness is such a great quality. But great qualities do not save you. Why shouldn’t we take every opportunity to defend the truths of scripture, why leave any room open for question? We don’t have to be God in order to know His standards, we just have to read His Word. It breaks my heart to see such little respect and honor for the truth of God’s Word. The platform that you have to share the gospel with others is so huge. I pray you recognize this. Recognize how good our Lord is in giving you this opportunity. The beautiful voice you have is alllll grace, the fame you have received is allll grace, and every moment you have to influence society and culture is allll grace. 

I am praying for you. The fight is hard. 

“Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.”– 1 Timothy 6:12

 

--- Sam