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Posts Tagged ‘Romans 11:36’

I had no idea; maybe you didn’t either.

One of the reasons birds can fly has to do with the tiny barbs on each feather—hundreds, even thousands of them per feather, depending on the size. The barbs zipper-lock together, providing an airtight seal on the bird’s wings. Without that seal, birds would not be able to achieve lift (1).

 

 

The Almighty Engineer of the universe was mindful of every detail necessary so his avian creations could fly. And that’s just one small example out of millions in nature, proving:

 

God pays attention to detail.

 

But creation is not the only theater where his attentiveness is on display.

Our detail-oriented God has been active throughout recorded history. Out of countless illustrations, consider these three from the American Revolution:

 

Bunker Hill, Boston, Massachusetts, June 17, 1775.  “Don’t shoot till you see the whites of their eyes” was the pre-battle cry that day and quickly became famous.

 

  • The British brought the wrong-size cannonballs to the Battle of Bunker Hill. Though officially the Americans lost this conflict (they ran out of ammunition), the British casualties more than doubled those of the patriots (2).
  • Perfect weather in March, 1776 assisted the Americans in their move to free the citizens of Boston from British occupation. Frozen ground made it relatively easy to move 350 ox carts of heavy wooden obstacles (in one night!) so they could fortify their position above Boston at Dorchester Heights. In addition, ground fog in the valley hid the patriots from view and a strong wind in the heights helped carry away the sound of their movements (3).
  • On Christmas Eve of 1776, Hessian Colonel, Johann von Rall was playing cards in Trenton, New Jersey when he received a dispatch: Washington’s army was nearing the city. But Rall stuffed the message in his pocket, unread, and by evening’s end, forgot it was even there. Washington’s attack on the 26th was a complete surprise and a victory for the patriots (4).

 

(Washington inspecting the captured colors

after the Battle of Trenton,

by Edward Percy Moran, 1914.)

 

General Washington wrote to William Gordon in March, 1781: “We have…abundant reasons to thank Providence for its many favorable interpositions on our behalf. It has at times been my only dependence, for all other resources seemed to have failed us” (5).

Our own lives give similar proof of God’s attention to details, when we’ve received just what we needed at the precise time we needed it.

Years ago we needed a new refrigerator. The budget was tight, and such a large expense would normally have required a withdrawal from our paltry savings account.

But! We “happened” to receive an unexpected state income tax return—from a couple of years previous. It was sufficient to purchase the refrigerator with a few dollars to spare.

Yes, there are those who would see such events as coincidences. But when circumstances of protection, provision, and guidance occur again and again, the explanation of simple happenstance proves insufficient.

 

 

George Washington was right: we have abundant reasons to thank God for his many favorable interventions.

Think of all the scriptures that assure us of his wise administration of all things and his loving care of all creatures. I find great comfort in the knowledge that:

  • I am always sheltered under his wings (Psalm 61:4).
  • “[He] works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will” (Ephesians 1:11).
  • “From him and through him and to him are all things” (Romans 11:36).

 

 

Do I always rest peacefully in these truths? No. When troubles assault, it can take some time for my emotional state to catch up to my statements of faith.

However! Even though I may quake at the uncertainties in front of me, I can still choose to trust my attentive Father who will see me through—down to the last detail.

*     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *

I praise you, Jehovah-sabaoth, the Lord of hosts. All power and authority belong to you, all things are under your control—even the seemingly insignificant details of my life. How thankful I am to be one of your sheep, under your care, my great, attentive Shepherd.

I pray that you, Jehovah-sabaoth, bring all power and authority to bear upon Hurricane Irma, tearing toward Florida as I type.  Yet even in the face of uncertainty, your people are grateful.  You are in control and every person is in your attentive care, O Great Shepherd. Thank you for watching over them as only you can.

 

Notes:

  1. Anne Graham Lotz, Refresh My Heart, Word Publishing, 1998, p. 77.
  2. www.wnd.com, “Generals Marvel at God’s Intervention in American History,” Bill Federer.
  3. https://fsu.digital.fivc.org
  4. www.warfarehistorynetwork.com
  5. www.wnd.com, “Generals Marvel at God’s Intervention in American History”, Bill Federer.

 

(Art & photo credits:  www.wikipedia.com; http://www.flickr.com; http://www.wikipedia.com (2); http://www.wikimedia.com; http://www.dailyverses.net.)

 

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If there were a Museum of Faith, and artifacts from earliest times still existed, the heroes of Hebrews 11:4-12 would surely be represented. On display we might find:

 

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  • Rocks from Abel’s altar, where God proclaimed him a righteous man.
  • Enoch’s walking stick, left behind when he strolled with God one day and ended up in heaven.
  • Part of Noah’s ark, which he spent at least 100 years building before God’s promise of rain (and protection for Noah’s family) was fulfilled.
  • Abraham’s tent, in which he lived while traveling to a place God had chosen, though Abraham did not know where he was going.
  • Isaac’s swaddling clothes, reminders of his miraculous birth to elderly parents, twenty-five years after God first promised his arrival.

 

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Then we come to verse 13.

 

“All these people were still living by faith when they died.

They did not receive the things promised;

they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance,

admitting that they were foreigners and strangers on earth”

(NIV, italics added).

 

What was the writer of Hebrews referring to? What things did these heroes of faith not receive that God had promised?

They did not see fulfillment of the most important promises: the arrival of Jesus the Messiah, his glorious resurrection, and all the blessings and privileges he provides. (All the way back in the Garden of Eden, God foretold that One would come to defeat Satan—Genesis 3:15).

 

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If the great heroes of faith listed in Hebrews did not receive things promised, I’d be wise to prepare myself for the same.

What should I do when promises are not being fulfilled? Below are five possibilities:

 

  1. Consider that the roadblock might be me.

Many promises come with conditions. If I’m not willing to comply, how can I expect the promise to be fulfilled? Philippians 4:6-7 offers a good example. If I want to receive God’s promise of peace, I need to be praying with a grateful heart.

 

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  1. Consider that the time is not right.

More than a few biblical heroes endured long waits for their promises to come to pass: Abraham for his son, Joseph for his position of leadership, the Israelites for their promised land, David for his kingship, and devout Jews like Simeon and Anna for their Messiah—to name a few.

I must remember that God is always at work carrying out his plan (Isaiah 46:11b). My work is to trust, pray, and wait.

 

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  1. While trusting, praying, and waiting for one promise, I can celebrate those already kept.

 Dozens of promises have been fulfilled in my life already. At the appropriate time God has provided:

  • Wisdom for difficult decisions (James 1:5)
  • Peace in the midst of challenging circumstances (Philippians 4:6-7)
  • Provision in miraculous ways (Philippians 4:19)
  • Purpose (Ephesians 2:10)
  • Strength to push through weariness (1 Peter 4:10-11)
  • Help in all sorts of situations (Isaiah 41:13)

 

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Praise for what God has already done is a powerful weapon against discouragement.

  1. God’s ways aren’t my ways.

If God has not fulfilled a particular promise, he has good reason. What I desire may not be for my ultimate good or for the good of others.

Surely Paul had to wonder sometimes why God allowed him to be imprisoned in Rome for two years. Perhaps he recited from the psalms:

 

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“’Because he loves me,’ says the Lord, ‘I will rescue him;

I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name…

…I will deliver him and honor him.”’

–Psalm 91:14-15 NIV

 

Paul had every right to claim this promise. His love for Jesus was passionate, and he acknowledged his Savior’s name everywhere he went. But God did not rescue Paul. No angel came to deliver Paul, as had happened to Peter.

As a result, we are beneficiaries of Paul’s letters, containing priceless teaching from the heart of God: Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, and Philemon–all written from his prison cell in Rome.

 

  1. Fulfillment may come after I’m gone.

Abraham, Isaac and Jacob did not see their descendants become as numerous as the stars (Genesis 15:5).  But the promise was kept centuries later, because there is no stopping the perfectly wise, precisely timed will of God.

 

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“From him and through him and for him are all things”

(including the fulfillment or unfulfillment of his promises).

“To him be the glory forever!”

–Romans 11:36 NIV (parenthetical comment added)

 

What helps you cope with unfulfilled promises from God?  Please share in the comment section below.

 

(Art & photo credits:  www.biblewalks.com; http://www.pinterest (5); http://www.thefellowshipsite.org; http://www.dailyverses.net.)

 

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Oh, look–a cardinal perched on that branch! Such a brilliant red. Against the foliage he reminds me of Christmas…What fun we had last year when Sophie* was here…Her school’s science fair is this week…I wonder how she’ll do? ‘Wish we could attend. Maybe Sophie could give her presentation on Skype…

 Now how did I get from cardinals to Skype? Well, you see the progression. That’s what often happens when the mind isn’t focused on a task: attention wanders from one thing to another.

Sometimes thoughts run in a positive direction, sometimes not.

Research has proved that positive thinking is actually good for us, providing:

  • A longer life span
  • Less depression
  • Less stress
  • Fewer colds
  • Better physical and mental health
  • Less risk of death from cardiovascular disease
  • The ability to cope better during hardship**

But oh, how easy it is to fall into the negativity trap, and before we know it, we’re wallowing in despair.

King Solomon knew the danger we face. “Above all else,” he warned, “guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life” (Proverbs 4:23, NIV).

 

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In other words, get smart about your thoughts and think about your thinking!

So, using Solomon’s imagery, let’s imagine ourselves as guards over our hearts. When a negative thought comes knocking, what should we do?

How about demolishing it with positive rebuttal from scripture? Here are a few verses that have helped me:

 

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  • Genesis 35:3 (NIV) – “He answered me in the day of my distress and has been with me wherever I have gone.” Jacob’s affirmation is a reminder that God has answered me many times in the past. He’s provided his calming presence, all-wise guidance, and loving care my entire life. I can trust him for all my tomorrows.

 

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  • John 13:7 (NIV) — “You do not realize what I am doing, but later you will understand.” Granted, applying this statement of Jesus to my circumstances a few years ago took the verse out of context. Even so, the morning I came across this scripture, it was exactly what I needed to hear.

 

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  • Romans 11:36 (NLT) – “Everything comes from him and exists by his power and is intended for his glory.” I have returned to this verse countless times when events don’t make sense.

In addition to scriptural rebuttal, we can turn our thoughts into conversation with God.   First, consider the outcome of a thought-thread such as this:

I don’t know how we’re going to get everything done by Friday. If So-and-So would only do her share, we’d be fine. Why did she have to be put on our team? It’s not fair that the three of us have to work extra hard to pick up her slack!

 Can you feel the frustration and worry building?

 But what if, as soon as I realize my thoughts are spiraling downward, I included God in the conversation:

I don’t know how we’re going to get everything done by Friday…But you do, God! How thankful I am that you’re on this team with me. Guide my way to Friday! And grant me wisdom in dealing with So-and-So. Show me how to help her become a contributing team member.

 That’s much more productive than limiting the participants to me, myself, and I.

The best news yet?  God Almighty is downright eager to come alongside and assist no matter what situation I face.  He’ll gladly come alongside you, too.

 

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We don’t have to stand guard over our hearts alone.

 

*     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *

 

Forgive me, Father, for allowing negativity to enter my mind and wreak havoc. When this happens again, help me to use scripture as rebuttal, and include you in my thought processes. Thank you for your help to turn my mind  from destructive to constructive thinking, so that I may enjoy fully the God-enhanced life you offer.

 

*Sophie is our seven-year old granddaughter who, sad-to-say, lives seven states away.

 

** from www.mayoclinic.org

 

(Art & photo credits:  www.fwallpapers.com; http://www.pinterest.com; http://www.shereadstruth.com; http://www.pinterest.com; http://www.wallpaper4god.com; http://www.pinterest.com.)

 

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Every field of study includes specialized vocabulary or terms that students learn, in order to function in that realm.

In economics, you need to know arbitrage, equilibrium price, and store of value.

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Those in the field of education learn about asynchronous learning, constructivism, and heutagogy.

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An engineer becomes familiar with Bernoulli’s Theorem, fixture units, and porosity.

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(Give yourself a pat on the back for each of those terms you can actually define!)

The study of God, theology, is no different. Sit among a group of seminary students and you’re likely to hear terms that don’t come up in our daily conversations, such as immutability, omniciency, and transcendency.

But maybe those words (and others that describe God’s attributes) should become familiar, everyday terms, because:

  • What we think about God influences what we think about everything else—our values and possessions, other people, the world, etc.
  • to fully appreciate our God, we must know him well
  • the better we know him, the greater his impact upon our lives
  • the more we know him, the more we can trust him

Take, for example, that fancy, six-syllable word, immutability. It refers to God’s insusceptibility to change (Malachi 3:6; Hebrews 13:8). It is not in his nature to change—ever. God is always the same. He is consistent in all his attributes, all the time.

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Isn’t that glorious news? When we come to him, we don’t have to worry that maybe he’s decided we’re not worthy to enter his presence anymore. We don’t have to worry about whether he’s in a good mood or not.  And we don’t have to worry that he might go back on his promises. God’s character never changes, and he doesn’t change his mind either.

How about omniciency? That’s only four syllables, but just as profound as immutability. It refers to God’s ability to know all things—perfectly.

“Stop and consider God’s wonders,” Elihu said to Job. “Do you know how God controls the clouds and makes his lightning flash? Do you know how the clouds hang poised, those wonders of him who is perfect in knowledge” (Job 37:14-16, italics added)?

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Again, what stunning news! He knows all things.  He knows the past and the future, therefore he can guide me—perfectly. He knows my personality, my innermost thoughts, my motivations. Therefore, he understands me–perfectly. He knows my needs, therefore, he can provide for me—perfectly.

And then, last but not least (for today, that is): transcendency, which means God is above all of his creation. He existed before the first glimmer of light appeared in the universe (Genesis 1:1-3). And his existence is not dependent upon creation as we are. In addition, the way God thinks and works is far beyond our limited capacities (Isaiah 55:9).

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Under the heading of God’s transcendence we find his infallible wisdom, incomprehensible power, self-existence (because no one made him), righteousness, justice, mercy, and more.

And all of these wonderful attributes he graciously exerts upon us who believe in him, who seek to know him.

Think of it. The immutable, omniscient, transcendent God who oversees the universe, is also Overseer of each of our lives. He is caring for us, living in us, and participating with us each and every day.

*     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *

I praise you, oh God, for the magnificence of your attributes. You are immutable, never responding out of character. You are omniscient, always responding in our best interest, because you know all. And you are transcendent. From you, through you, and to you are all things (Romans 11:36). Oh, that we may worship you as you deserve!

(Art & photo credits:  stagecraft.co.uk; http://www.teachtought.com; http://www.hengineers.com; http://www.shareaverse.wordpress.com; http://www.environment.nationalgeographic.com; http://www.pinterest.com.)

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