Shaken

Esther 2:8   (KJV)   So it came to pass, when the king’s commandment and his decree was heard, and when many maidens were gathered together unto Shushan the palace, to the custody of Hegai, that Esther was brought also unto the king’s house, to the custody of Hegai, keeper of the women.

Beyond her control, Esther’s life was drastically and dramatically changed. Before this, there was nothing spectacular about her life prior to what we know now. But her life was Esther 2.8 - Shakenchanged suddenly because of a king’s edict—an imperial king who would eventually become her husband.

Our lives get shaken once and a while—like everyone else’s. When that happens, others get extremely troubled. There’s confusion, there’s doubt, there’s denial, and even loss of faith. But contingencies are real. They’re inevitable, no matter how well laid out our plans and preparations are. But when unexpected things happen that shake us, even at times to the very core of our being, as unpleasant as they may seem; as out of control as they may be, we don’t lose our peace; we don’t lose sleep over them. Instead, we flow with what God allows—restfully, knowing that He will work out everything for our best.

Our most trustworthy God, You’re in control of everything; this is very reassuring to us. No matter what happens, we know there’s not a time and there will never be a time when things are not working out for our best. You are able to—in your incomprehensible wisdom—accomplish that. Help us to see how You’re not just allowing and tolerating situations as You carry us and protect us through them, but You utilize those seemingly unpleasant surprises to direct us, and even catapult us to our destiny. Who can equal to such wisdom? Thank You Dad, in Jesus’ Name, amen.

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God’s Reach; God’s Touch

Zechariah 12:1   (KJV)   12 The burden of the word of the Lord for Israel, saith the Lord, which stretcheth forth the heavens, and layeth the foundation of the earth, and formeth the spirit of man within him.

Our Lord’s reach touches the farthest and the closest of His creation.

Zechariah 12.1 - God's Reach, God's TouchWhen He tells us not to worry, it’s because there’s really no reason to. God is the Sovereign ruler of everything and everyone. Even when things and people are spinning out of control, He’s still in total control.

We have free will. We may not completely understand His ways. We may not comprehend how He works all things for the good of those who love Him and those who are the called according to His purpose—both our good times and bad times. We may not understand how the devil is allowed to roam around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour, how the devil seems to be influencing the vast majority of people, and yet at all times, God is victoriously utilizing all of the devil’s schemes and works to end up serving His purposes. When people saw defeat on the cross, He was triumphantly parading His vanquished enemies in the open.

We still don’t know the ultimate limits of our universe. We still don’t fully know the most detailed outworking of our body parts. We still don’t accurately and consistently predict weather and earthquakes, but we know our God—little but enough knowledge to be sure that in all of them, we can rest confidently in Him—His awesome power, and His unending love. The universe is incalculably huge. It takes a lot of work to keep them in order and working well. But it’s nothing that He can’t handle. Amidst all of that macrocosmic management, we’re still in the very center of His heart and sight.

God’s Surprising Ways

Habakkuk 1:5   (KJV)   5 Behold ye among the heathen, and regard, and wonder marvelously: for I will work a work in your days which ye will not believe, though it be told you.

Our God is a sovereign God. He is a creative God. He’s not bound to anything or anyone, not even to the ways He’s done things in the past. In fact, the Lord will do something new Habakkuk 1.5 - God's Surprising Waysin our nations, something wonderful and marvelous. It will be so amazing that it will be so hard to believe if we are told about it now.

Godlessness pervades our nations. We find it in every corner and facet of society. Lies, deception, and fake news are everywhere. But our just and loving God don’t just sit idly by. He won’t allow the righteous to be caught in insidious plots and deadly traps of the enemy.

The wicked trusts in their own devices; they glory in their ability to deceive; they don’t realize that God watches over His people. They march boldy brandishing their banner of evil while gleefully setting up the righteous for a fall, not realizing that they’ll be caught in their own snares. The harm they plan for God’s people will boomerang to them.

God, our heavenly Father Who created this big, vast, inscrutable universe surprises His enemies. They can’t predict how He does things. We as His people, though surrounded by evil, live in peace. Our confidence is in the LORD. We’ve tasted and seen that the LORD is good. He never leaves us defenseless. We may not be sure as to the ways He delivers us, but we’re sure He always delivers us.

Even though lawlessness may exponentially increase, even though our economy may suddenly collapse, even though our freedom may be greatly threatened, even though God’s people are constantly harassed, we will neither fear nor be dismayed. We will find our joy and our peace in the God of our provision and protection. He is our strength; He establishes our steps. After all is said and done, everyone will recognize: God is God. He continually governs in the affairs of man. He rules over all nations. The lives of kings and queens, presidents and rulers are in His hands. Every knee will bow, and every eye will see: He is Lord. So yes; we’re at peace—always ready to be amazed by our Father’s new yet always astonishing interventions.

God’s Love and God’s Leaders

2 Chronicles 2:11   (KJV)   11 Then Huram the king of Tyre answered in writing, which he sent to Solomon, Because the Lord hath loved his people, he hath made thee king over them.

God raising a good leader demonstrates His love for His people.  The question arises: “If God ordains who rules, why then aren’t all leaders godly?  In fact, it seems like God’s own Old Covenant people had more evil rulers than godly ones.”  That’s absolutely true.  Dream SpeechThere is no question about God’s love for everyone—good and bad alike.  In fact, that’s how He so beautifully demonstrated His love for us: when we were still sinners, Jesus died for us.

God loves everyone; sad to say, not everyone loves God.  God desires that all men be saved; not all will be saved.  His grace is available to all; not everyone avails of His grace.  Those truths don’t mean His character changes; He never does; His love is constant.  He always desires the best for His people.  That’s why through His Holy Spirit, He continues to convict the world of sin, righteousness, and judgment.  He wants everyone to turn to Him and experience life that’s full and super abundant.

Through history, we’ve seen how God raised up good leaders among rebellious people.  Those leaders become God’s catalysts for revival.  God can do that. Why, it’s because He’s ultimately in control. He loves even the worst of us and wants us to repent and return to Him.  If He chooses a leader as the influence to turn the tide towards godliness, so be it.  We rejoice when the righteous leads, or at least, the more righteous of the choices.  Our perception about our leaders are governed by our precious Lord and His values.  Our devotion is to Him.  We choose what’s good, what’s right, and what’s godly, and we don’t have to guess as to our basis for them; we have God’s Word.  Praise God for His direction, for His truth, and for allowing us to see clearly.

Free and Obedient Hearts

1 Chronicles 29:18   (KJV)   18 O Lord God of Abraham, Isaac, and of Israel, our fathers, keep this for ever in the imagination of the thoughts of the heart of thy people, and prepare their heart unto thee:

Can our sovereign and loving God work in our hearts—people’s hearts—without violating our free will?  I guess He can.  We may not fully understand how He does it, but He can.  Otherwise, there’s no point praying for Him to make His people want to obey 1 Chronicles 29.18 - Free and Obedient HeartsHim.  We’ve seen clear examples and explicit passages in the Scriptures showing this.  God changed the heart of Saul (1 Sam. 10:9); He prophesied about giving His people a new heart (Jer. 24:7); He directs the king’s heart like rivers of water (Prov. 21:1); David prayed for God to give him a clean heart (Ps. 51:10).

Yes He can, and Yes He does work in people’s hearts.  This is not however a removal of free will, or cancelling of our responsibility.  In fact, we see clearly in the Scriptures how Saul turned away from God, how Solomon turned his heart towards the gods of his wives, how one king after another chose to rebel against God, and how His Old Covenant people repeatedly disobeyed God.  We as His people weren’t made robots when we placed our full dependence on Him to save us and surrendered our lives to Him.

We were made new creations (2 Cor. 5:17), but we still obviously have a choice whether we obey or disobey Him, whether we abide in Him or not, whether we live faithfully or not, whether we deny Him or not.  God won’t fail; if He says He’ll give us new hearts, He will. In fact, for believers, He already has.  What we do with our God-given new hearts is up to us.  As for me, and I pray my entire household, we will worship and serve Him faithfully—wholeheartedly.

Spoiling the Enemies’ Counsel

2 Samuel 17:14   (KJV)   14 And Absalom and all the men of Israel said, The counsel of Hushai the Archite is better than the counsel of Ahithophel. For the Lord had appointed to defeat the good counsel of Ahithophel, to the intent that the Lord might bring evil upon Absalom.

The Lord can easily and literally spoil the wisdom and the plans of the enemy.  If He has to do that in protecting us, He will.  If only our enemies realize how powerful our God is and how much our heavenly Father loves us and cares for us, they will not dare 2 Samuel 17.14 - Spoiling the Enemy's Counselattacking us at all.  It’s their disbelief and/or misunderstanding of our God and us—His people—that makes them continue in a futile exercise of going against us.

We pray for them; we don’t wish them harm.  But they end up hurting themselves when they try to harm us.  They fall on their own trap.  Our God is our strong tower, our mighty fortress; no one and nothing can penetrate His defenses; no weapon formed against Him and against us will prosper. We stand secure under His protective arms.  I humbly admit, I don’t understand how God does everything.  But He can orchestrate everything to His expected end without violating anyone’s free will.  That’s why we fear God (yes, it’s not wrong to fear God; it’s in fact, very biblical.  And yes, we don’t need to always qualify it every time we state that truth), and we don’t fear people.

Simply, we rest in Him and the truth that through the complexities of all situations, all people, all opinions, all His Words, all His ways—we may not understand everything, but through it all, we are well taken care of.  And that’s enough for us.

God’s Thrones

Psalm 11:4   (KJV)   4 The Lord is in his holy temple, the Lord’s throne is in heaven: his eyes behold, his eyelids try, the children of men.

The LORD’s present in our lives. He is here, but He is also the Sovereign ruler of all.  He’s enthroned in our hearts, and in the heavens.  He knows all things, even the innermost secrets of our hearts. No one is beyond His knowledge and His reach.  He is still very much involved in our affairs. He never leaves Psalm 11.4 - God's Thronesor forsakes us. In fact, His hands of invitation are continually extended to us—beckoning, welcoming.  We are His temple—His home.  He’s closer to us than He can ever be and we can ever know.

He knows our prayers and cries—even those as soft as a whisper. He is that intimate with us.  He literally knows more about us than we know ourselves.  Why not?  He loves us tremendously and He is an all-knowing God.  He is also infinitely powerful.  Although He’s very intimate with us, He is not limited to our small realm of existence.  He rules; He reigns, and He will do so forever—glorified, lifted high.

We need Him close; not everyone sticks around.  Others easily ditch us at the first sign of discomfort.  It’s good to know that Someone sticks around even when the whole world turns against us.  Some people aren’t settled with just leaving; they don’t get satisfied until we’re down, hurt, or destroyed.  They accumulate weapons and ammunition to attack us when we’re most vulnerable.  We’re not troubled.  The LORD is our more than efficient Protector.  He is our impenetrable shield.  No weapon formed against us will ever get through Him and to us—to those who are His—to those who are upright.  In the presence of our enemies, we still enjoy very restful nights and very joyful days.