He Reigns

he-reigns

I live in Australia, but like the rest of the world, we are still talking about the new President of America. Trump is a surprise win, a controversial choice and an imperfect human. However, so are we.

Beyond the fear, anger and division, God remains the same. If Clinton won, He would remain the same. Beyond limited human leaders (whether they be good or bad), God has, and will, outlast them all. His reign and His kingdom is secure. I’m reminded of Psalm 146:3 which says, “Do not put your trust in princes, in human beings, who cannot save.” We hope for the best from our friends, family and leaders, but our trust must always be placed in Him. He won’t let us go, and He won’t let us down.

Christians can grow in the most persecuted places where their very way of life is under threat daily. When Jesus was born, King Herod was a child killing leader; most of the Old Testament kings were power hungry madmen, and in Paul’s day he continued to write letters to his brothers and sisters to teach them to obey their nation’s leaders – whether they liked them or not.

1 Peter 2:17 says,  “Show proper respect to everyone, love the family of believers, fear God, honour the emperor.” Those words are even more astounding when we consider that Peter wrote this during the time Emperor Nero ruled and detested Christians with great violence and persecution. Jesus calls us to not only tolerate our enemies, but to pray for them and love them. A difficult task to be sure, but when we love without compromise and when we fear and obey Him above all, miracles can happen. God has proven time and again that He can use any person, and any circumstance for His glorious, ultimate purpose. In the midst of confusion or disappointment, it may not seem like it, but 2 Corinthians 4:18 calls us to, “fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”

So what can we do? We can trust that God knows what He’s doing, and we can pray for all the leaders in our lives, as 1 Timothy 2:1-2 calls us to do. “I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people— for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.”

In Romans 13:1-2, Paul says, “Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgement on themselves.” For someone who had faced as much time in prison for his faith, and being persecuted and physically punished as Paul did, these words carry tremendous weight.

Beyond prayer, we are called to be obedient to the authorities. This may seem obvious, but that means we don’t text and drive or sneak into movies we haven’t paid for, or any of those things that we may think are ok. Remember, God has called us to a higher standard. He wants us to be obedient to the earthly authorities, but to obey Him above all. Christ never compromised due to His obedience to the Father, and love for us. We, too, must live with a similar submissive and reverential approach.

We can be confident, knowing that the King we serve doesn’t lie or change His mind. Numbers 23:19 tells us, “God is not human, that he should lie, not a human being, that he should change his mind. Does he speak and then not act? Does he promise and not fulfill?”

Beyond the fleeting panic and shock of leadership changes, God is above it all, and He’s with us through it all. He sees what we do not. He sees the past, present and future. He calls us to stay strong in Him, to cry out to Him and to know that He is the King above every king. His reign shall never end, and knowing that, we can live with great peace and confidence.

“In the Lord’s hand the king’s heart is a stream of water that he channels toward all who please him. A person may think their own ways are right,
but the Lord weighs the heart.”

Proverbs 21:1-2

“It is better to take refuge in the LORD than to trust in humans.”

Psalm 118:8

 

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Eternity With Him

just-think-about-this

I don’t have much more to say than that really.

In our darkest moments, may we think about this. There is no greater love than His for us. This life is a glimpse of what’s to come. We have all experienced moments of unbridled joy and freedom in the midst of His presence. Now, imagine that gloriously magnified in heaven, without any sin or shame or fear or tears or guilt or pain. The Bible doesn’t say much about heaven, other than that it exists. It is our mysterious, ultimate destination. It’s where we are going. It is our truest home and it will be an unfettered joy to discover all that it has to offer – colours, sights, sounds and smells we have yet to embrace. And we get to spend our eternity there!

There’s a great lyric in Hillsong United’s song Touch The Sky, which goes, “You traded heaven to have me again.” There is great strength and constant hope in the relentless fact that God did what was necessary to retrieve us from darkness and damnation. There was only one solution to the problem that kept sinners from intimacy with a perfect Father. God knew the cost it took, and in Christ, He willingly took it. His life for ours. Christ took the punishment we deserved for the treasure we didn’t.

That marvellous truth is worth reflecting upon, and rejoicing in. We don’t see heaven now, but by faith we know with certainty that one day, we shall.

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

John 3:16

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials.”

1 Peter 1:3-6

 

God’s Grace

BY THE GRACE OF GOD

Grace is God seeing you, beyond your mistakes. Grace is forgetting your past, to forge your future. Grace is God not only withholding the punishment we deserve, but giving us the victory we do not deserve. Grace is freedom beyond human effort. Grace is found only in the arms of our loving Father.

Before we knew Him, we were enemies of God.

“Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation— if you continue in your faith, established and firm, and do not move from the hope held out in the gospel.”

Colossians 1:21-23

But now? Well, this is what Jesus says about us now.

“You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.”

John 15:14-15

From enemies to friends. That’s what grace does. It welcomes and transforms. It’s Jesus touching the leper. It’s Jesus protecting the adulterous women. It’s Jesus cooking breakfast for the disciples who abandoned Him. In short – it’s Jesus. We are able to offer mercy, grace and forgiveness because that is precisely what we have received. It is grace that allows us to participate in His victory although we didn’t participate in His suffering.

Christians often define grace as “unmerited favour,” which is true. It’s God doing for us, on the cross of Christ, what we could not do for ourselves. From our sinful position, we have no influence over God, and He is under no obligation to come to our rescue. Yet He does – now and forever.

“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”

Ephesians 2:8-10

“For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.”

John 1:17

“Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

Hebrews 4:14-16