A Prayer to the Sovereign Lord

April 21, 2017

Recall that Hannah, the mother of Samuel, suffered deep distress and provocation because of her inability to conceive (1 Samuel 1:1-11). Consider these words that she prayed after God granted her heartfelt plea, giving her a son whom she then handed over to the Lord:

The Lord kills and brings to life;
he brings down to Sheol and raises up.
The Lord makes poor and makes rich;
he brings low and he exalts.
He raises up the poor from the dust;
he lifts the needy from the ash heap
to make them sit with princes
and inherit a seat of honor.
For the pillars of the earth are the Lord’s,
and on them he has set the world. (1 Samuel 2:6-8)

Pray with me in response:

O Lord, You are sovereign over all things: Over life and death, over poverty and prosperity, over success and failure. You give us a grant of life and breath and time and resources to be used for Your glory – and You take those away from us when so doing is for Your glory. We acknowledge You as our rightful Sovereign, agreeing with Scripture that You not only have a right to do as You please, but that all You do is good and wise. We ourselves deserve not one iota of all the gifts you give – not even one sip of water or one breath of air. Indeed, we confess that we only deserve Your wrath and judgment.

Throughout our lives You have given us good gift after good gift, and we have failed to thank You for so many. We confess that rather than thank You we have acted as if we deserve them or earned them. So we now say wholeheartedly, Thank You, O gracious and generous Father, for Your ample provision, poured into our overflowing cup.

Yet those obviously good gifts are the ones that most easily produce thankful hearts in us. So now we say further: When you remove any blessing from us – whether health or resources or friends or status or life itself – we know that then too You are doing good. When you lift up someone else to a position higher than our own, we acknowledge that You do right. When we suffer physical or emotional pain, we agree with Your apostle that our deepest afflictions, seen through the lens of eternity, are light and momentary, and always work in us an eternal weight of glory that far surpasses the pain (2 Corinthians 4:17).

We know that all Your goodness to us, however it is expressed, comes about only because of the crucifixion and resurrection of our Savior, the Lord Jesus. We know that His once-and-for-all sacrifice is the only way we gain access to Your presence, the only basis for Your giving us what we don’t deserve. So we bask in what we in no way merit: Your steadfast, everlasting love for us in Christ.

Thank You that both Your provision and Your removal of blessings are part of Your wise governing of the world that will bring about the culmination of all things – the creation of a new heavens and new earth, the summing up of all things in Christ, the salvation of those from every tribe and tongue and nation, the perfection of His glorious Bride, the Church, and the wiping of every tear from our eyes. How we long for this final day! Come, Lord Jesus!

 

God Is Faithful To His Promises

April 7, 2017

“Not one word of all the good promises that the LORD had made to the house of Israel had failed; all came to pass” (Joshua 21:45).

Think of the promises God had made to the house of Israel – including those made before Israel existed!

  • God promised that Abraham’s descendants would inherit the land of Canaan (Genesis 13:14-17).
  • God promised Abraham that He would bring his descendants out of slavery with great possessions (Genesis 15:13-14).
  • Hundreds of years later, God promised that He would use Moses to rescue the people from slavery in Egypt (Exodus 3:7-10).
  • God promised that He would harden Pharaoh’s heart so that he would not let Israel go, even after Moses conducted miracles (Exodus 4:21).
  • Yet God promised eventually Pharaoh would drive the Israelites out of Egypt (Exodus 6:1).
  • God promised that He would not just bring the people out of Egypt, but that He would bring them to Himself (Exodus 6:6-8).
  • God promised plague after plague after plague on the Egyptians – and they all came about (Exodus 7 to 10).
  • God promised that the firstborn in every house in Egypt would die, but not in the houses of the Israelites (Exodus 11:4-7).
  • God promised that the Israelites would walk across the Red Sea on dry land, but the Egyptians would drown (Exodus 14:13-18).
  • God promised that He would provide meat and bread to the people in the desert (Exodus 16:11-12).

We could go on and on. God promised direction in their travels, defeat of enemies, parting of yet more waters – and all came about.

The people had doubted and murmured; the enemies had been strong and powerful. But God fulfilled every promise – despite the enemy, despite the people’s lack of faith.

So, what about you? Do you trust God to fulfill His promises? And do you recognize the greatness of those promises? Here are a few on which to meditate:

  • Jesus will return with power and great glory (Matthew 24:30).
  • He will reign over an eternal Kingdom of righteousness and peace (Isaiah 9:6-7).
  • Jesus will destroy Satan and his minions (Revelation 20:10).
  • God will complete the good work He has begun in you (Philippians 1:6).
  • Indeed, we will be like Him (1 John 3:2).
  • God will bring to Himself through faith in Jesus those from every tribe and tongue and people and nation (Revelation 7:9-10).
  • Throughout this life, He will watch over you and guide you, and then bring you to Himself forever (Psalm 23:6).
  • He will work all things together for your good and His glory (Romans 8:28).
  • God will so work that at the Name of Jesus every knee will bow and every tongue confess that He is Lord, to God’s glory (Philippians 2:10-11).
  • God will wipe every tear from your eyes, having ended death and mourning and crying and pain (Revelation 21:6).
  • God will rejoice over us, His people, with loud singing (Zephaniah 3:17).
  • By the blood of Jesus, you are declared fully righteous; He will remember your sins no more (Romans 3:21-25, Hebrews 10:11-18).

He has sworn by Himself that this is so – and it is impossible for God to lie! So hold fast to the confession of your hope without wavering (Hebrews 6:13-19); stand firm on His level ground, not sliding down into unbelief (Psalm 26); eagerly anticipate the fulfillment of every promise. For He is the faithful God, who keeps His covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love Him and keep His commands (Deuteronomy 7:9).