Teaching Thursday – The Sovereign Lord

God wants us to understand that He alone is Sovereign over all things. Unfortunately, we humans have a very hard time understanding the concept of His Sovereignty.

In the book of Ezekiel, God commissioned Ezekiel to be His mouthpiece to the Israelites at a very sorrowful point in the life of the Hebrew nation. The majority of the nation was in Babylonian captivity, but some remained in Israel and were being ministered to by the prophet Jeremiah. Ezekiel was taken into captivity during the second siege of Jerusalem around 597 B.C. King Nebuchadnezzar, ruler of Babylon, destroyed Jerusalem in 586 B.C., in his third and final siege of the city. Daniel, who was very close in age to Ezekiel, was taken captive during the first siege of Jerusalem in 605B.C.

The exiles hoped they would return to Israel, but it was Ezekiel’s task to relay God’s message of judgment. While the information was hard to hear, wrapped within it was a message of hope for Israel’s restoration to the land sometime in the future.
In Ezekiel 11: 16-21(NLT) the Bible reads: “Therefore, tell the exiles, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Although I have scattered you in the countries of the world, I will be a sanctuary to you during your time in exile. 17I, the Sovereign Lord, will gather you back from the nations where you have been scattered, and I will give you the land of Israel once again.’”

What can we know today from the message given to the captives?

Let’s look at history. We know Israel was taken into captivity, scripture tells us that fact as do historical documents. Over the centuries since the exile, Israel has indeed been scattered among the nations of the earth. However, the fulfillment of the prophesy in Ezekiel 11:16-21 occurred on May 14, 1948, when Israel became a nation once again. God, as Sovereign Lord, kept His word. He always does.

Israel learned they could worship God anywhere, even in captivity and in lands other than their own. They didn’t have to have their promised land to worship God. God was the Lord of Israel no matter where Israel dwelled. Israel’s problem was they were hard-hearted, stubborn, seeking after their own ways, wanting to worship God according to their prescriptions instead of God’s. God pointed out their idolatry in Ezekiel 13 and 14, and what would be the result, the destruction of Jerusalem (Ez. 14:12 ff). God didn’t punish Israel for the sake of punishment, but to get their attention. He wanted them to see He was indeed Holy, Righteous, and their only Provision. God desired to be their first love, not themselves, other nations, or other gods. God was (and is) the Sovereign Lord over Israel.

Think about this: Don’t we try to worship God after our own way? Kinda like that old adage about both having and eating our cake. In pulling Israel away from what was known, and into the unknown, God wanted Israel to know He was their only Satisfaction. We either serve God, or we don’t. With God there is no pretending. He isn’t fooled. He wants us 100%. God wanted Israel 100%.

But even in the punishment He is provision given through His mercy. There were so many instances where Israel played the harlot. She took what was holy unto God and used those things in idol worship. Israel went after the gods of her neighbors when she had the One true God pursuing and loving her (Ezekiel 16). God remembered His covenant (Ez. 16:60) with Israel. It was an everlasting covenant, and He made it with Himself. Even in Israel’s rebellion, God was committed to His covenant relationship with her.

Let’s take a look at two different Scriptures.

Old Testament: And I will establish my covenant between me and thee and thy seed after thee throughout their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be a God unto thee and to thy seed after thee. (Gen 17:7, NASB)

And

New Testament: Now the promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. He does not say, “And to seeds,” as referring to many, but rather to one, “And to your seed,” that is, Christ. (Galatians 3:16, ASV)

Do you get that? God established an everlasting covenant with Abraham (who represented Israel, after all he is the Father Abraham). The everlasting covenant wasn’t the Mosaic Law, which Israel clearly couldn’t keep, but the covenant was sealed with the promise of THE Seed, the ONE who is Jesus Christ. God made a covenant with Himself, using His Son, the Christ, the second person of the Trinity. (Yes, I know the word “Trinity” isn’t in the Bible per se, but the concept of the Trinity is indeed scriptural. Yes, God is three in one, and no, not three gods, but One God in three persons: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. I’ll leave this topic for a future post.) In essence God provided a way (His mercy) for Israel to be saved (grace), and what more He didn’t just provide it for Israel, but all humankind. By ONLY one name under heaven can a man (or woman) be saved; His name is Jesus Christ (see: Acts 4:12). That’s grace imparted to all through His glorious mercy.

And if you look in verse 62 of Ezekiel 16 you will find these words: “And I shall establish My covenant with you. Then you shall know that I am the LORD (NKJV).” The people of the exile knew what Ezekiel was referring to here: the Covenant God made with Abraham. God tells them further in verse 63, they would remember all of this and be ashamed, and would have an atonement ( who was Jesus) provided for them.

Ezekiel 37 establishes with a great word picture the rebirth of Israel as a nation. The dry bones will be made flesh and Israel will dwell in the Promised Land once more, and they do today, partially. Many Jews are returning (called aliyah) to their beloved Israel from all nations of the world. What was once desolate, dry, and dead is alive again, and one day Jesus will return and rule the nations from His throne on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.

I’ll leave you with these words from Ezekiel 37: 25-28. It is a promise the Sovereign Lord has made, and it will come true, and He will establish Himself in their (Israel’s) midst forever.

25They will live on the land that I gave to Jacob My servant, in which your fathers lived; and they will live on it, they, and their sons and their sons’ sons, forever; and David My servant will be their prince forever. 26I will make a covenant of peace with them; it will be an everlasting covenant with them. And I will place them and multiply them, and will set My sanctuary in their midst forever. 27My dwelling place also will be with them; and I will be their God, and they will be My people. 28And the nations will know that I am the Lord who sanctifies Israel, when My sanctuary is in their midst forever.”’” (NASB)

Amen.

Posted in Teaching Thursday | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Teaching Thursday- Delaying post to next week

Hi Readers,

I had planned on getting the post up for today, but I’m still working on it. Sorry, but sometimes other priorities get placed before my writing time, and this has been one of those weeks for doing just that. I’ll have it ready for next week, along with the Friday FUNday recipe I created. Hope you have a nice Thursday with sun and warmth.

Latanya

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Wednesday Wisdom – Sovereignty of God

God is in control.

How do I know?

His Word, the Holy Bible tells me, plus He has shown me through life experience.

Here are a few Bible verses to encourage you today.

Our God is in heaven and does whatever He pleases. Psalm 115:3 (Holman Christian Standard Bible)

Whatever the LORD pleases, he does, in heaven and on earth, in the seas and all deeps. Psalm 135:6 (ESV)

The heart of man plans his way, but the LORD establishes his steps. Proverbs 16:9 (ESV)

He prayed, “O LORD, God of our ancestors, you alone are the God who is in heaven. You are ruler of all the kingdoms of the earth. You are powerful and mighty; no one can stand against you! 2 Chronicles 20:6 (NLT)

And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. Romans 8:28 (NASB)

“I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” John 16:33 (ESV)

For the Lord will not
cast off forever,
but, though he cause grief, he will have compassion
according to the abundance of his steadfast love;
 for he does not afflict from his heart
or grieve the children of men. Lamentations 3:31-33 (ESV)

He gives power to the faint,
and to him who has no might he increases strength. Isaiah 40:29 (ESV)

The Lord has established his throne in the heavens,
and his kingdom rules over all. Psalm 103:19 (ESV)

At the end of the days I, Nebuchadnezzar, lifted my eyes to heaven, and my reason returned to me, and I blessed the Most High, and praised and honored him who lives forever,

for his dominion is an everlasting dominion,
and his kingdom endures from generation to generation;
all the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing,
and he does according to his will among the host of heaven
    and among the inhabitants of the earth;
and none can stay his hand
or say to him, “What have you done?” Daniel 4:34-35 (ESV)

Furthermore, because we are united with Christ, we have received an inheritance from God, for he chose us in advance, and he makes everything work out according to his plan. Ephesians 1:11 (ESV)

In the book of Ezekiel, God, the Sovereign Lord, instructs Ezekiel on how He wants him to address the rebellious people of Israel. Israel was hard-hearted and stubborn (Sounds like us, right?), and as a result were in exile because of it. In instructing Ezekiel to address His people in this way, God wanted this title to be a reminder that He was the One in control and not Israel. God will not be mocked, and because the people chose not to obey and follow after the One true God, they were lifting themselves up in a position above God. If you take a look at the warning Ezekiel was commanded to share with the Israelites you will be taken aback at the harshness of the words (Ezekiel 11: 5-12). God wanted His people to know sin has consequences, and for Israel it would mean their destruction, but oh, the glorious Lord, who is the Sovereign One over all the earth, He always provides an out through restoration of a few.

In Ezekiel 11: 16-21(NLT) the Bible reads:
“Therefore, tell the exiles, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Although I have scattered you in the countries of the world, I will be a sanctuary to you during your time in exile. 17 I, the Sovereign Lord, will gather you back from the nations where you have been scattered, and I will give you the land of Israel once again.’

18 “When the people return to their homeland, they will remove every trace of their vile images and detestable idols. 19 And I will give them singleness of heart and put a new spirit within them. I will take away their stony, stubborn heart and give them a tender, responsive heart, 20 so they will obey my decrees and regulations. Then they will truly be my people, and I will be their God. 21 But as for those who long for vile images and detestable idols, I will repay them fully for their sins. I, the Sovereign Lord, have spoken!”

God restores through His mercy, not because of what we have done but because of Who He is.

“So now, this is what the Sovereign Lord says: I will end the captivity of my people; I will have mercy on all Israel, for I jealously guard my holy reputation!” Ezekiel 39:25 (ESV)

God is Sovereign over all things, always and forever.

~~~

Come by for a visit for tomorrow’s “Teaching Thursday” where I’ll take a deeper look at God’s Sovereignty. We’ll revisit Ezekiel. It’s going to be fun!

Posted in Wednesday Wisdom | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Theology Tuesday – The Sovereignty of God

As humans can be described by their personal character tracts, so can God be defined (although in our limited understanding) by His personal characteristics. What Makes God, God? His divine attributes. Ronald Nash says: “A divine attribute is an essential property of God. A property is essential to some being if and only if the loss of that property entails that that being ceases to exist. A divine attribute is a property which God could not lose and continue to be God…If the being called God lost just one of His essential properties, He would no longer be God. ” (Concept of God, 16-17.)

So what are these essential properties that make God, God? These essential properties God possesses are eternal, not temporary.

There are many characterristics or attributes that can be used to define who God is. These attributes can be divided into two categories: incommunicable and communicable. *Incommunicable means those attributes which are true of God alone; no human can have these attributes. The incommunicable attributes are: sovereignty, infinity, immutability, omnipresence, omniscience, omnipotent, aseity (self-existence), eternality, and immateriality.

The other set of attributes are known as communicable attributes. Communicable means those which are shared by humans to some degree. The communicable attributes include: holiness, justice, love, truth, mercy and grace. All humans can possess holiness (not apart from Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit), justice, truth, mercy and grace. Our sharing of these communicable attributes is only to a degree. We cannot fully possess any of them in our own power and might.

Today we’ll look take a brief glance at the Sovereignty of God.

He is completely holy and is completely sovereign over all things. Ronald Nash says: “A divine attribute is an essential property of God. A property is essential to some being if and only if the loss of that property entails that that being ceases to exist. A divine attribute is a property which God could not lose and continue to be God…If the being called God lost just one of His essential properties, He would no longer be God. ” (Concept of God, 16-17.)

Sovereignty means absolute rule. (Psalm. 115:3; 135:6; Ephesians 1:11).

We can rest assured that God’s purposes will be accomplished; this is the essence of God’s sovereignty. He has absolute control over everything. (See Isaiah 46:8-10, Job 42:2)

“What do we mean by [the sovereignty of God]? We mean the supremacy of God, the kingship of God, the god-hood of God. To say that God is Sovereign is to declare that God is God. To say that God is Sovereign is to declare that He is the Most High, doing according to His will in the army of Heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth, so that none can stay His hand or say unto Him what doest Thou? (Dan. 4:35). To say that God is Sovereign is to declare that He is the Almighty, the Possessor of all power in Heaven and earth, so that none can defeat His counsels, thwart His purpose, or resist His will (Psa. 115:3). To say that God is Sovereign is to declare that He is “The Governor among the nations” (Psa. 22:28), setting up kingdoms, overthrowing empires, and determining the course of dynasties as pleaseth Him best. To say that God is Sovereign is to declare that He is the “Only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords” (1 Tim. 6:15). Such is the God of the Bible.” A. W. Pink, The Sovereignty of God, chapter 1

God is Adonai or Lord over all of Creation. Every finite and minute detail is absolutely under His control and rule. No matter what man tries to do to gain control, he/she cannot have full and total control, because God will fulfill His purposes.

He is God and man is not.

*Each attribute of God will eventually be covered in a Theology Tuesday installment. Stay tuned.

Come by tomorrow to receive encouragement from God’s Word in this month’s Wednesday Wisdom.

Posted in Theology Tuesday | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Monday Musings: We Are Not In Control

We often believe we need to control our lives and wrongly believe we have control. The more we attempt to control our lives, the more we learn we do not have complete control of our lives; far from it.

Probably the clearest clue we have that complete control is unobtainable is: we are not the one and only human being walking on the face of the earth right this minute. There is always someone else (or something) in our lives fighting for control of our lives.

The quickest way to know you have no control is to become a parent.

Imagine you are sleeping. Soundly. What a great night’s sleep you are experiencing, and suddenly you’re robbed, robbed of your great shut eye by the ear-piercing wail of your precious, sweet-smelling newborn. You’re NOT in control mom and dad. For that span of time little Ella or David is in control, and in order to go back to your peaceful, and formerly uninterrupted sleep, you’ve got to feed your wee one. AND they are not going to wait for one fraction of a second for you to get a warm bottle or for a comforting nuzzle against mom. Can you relate?

Or perhaps relate now…

You…

Lose a job, or your home to fire, perhaps you experience a sudden onslaught of sickness, or cancer. Not yet? Your child is painfully bullied, or maybe even you, as an adult are being bullied by those you assumed were your friends. Maybe you’re in a car or plane crash, or there’s a gut-wrenching loss of a loved one. These are all examples of not being in control.

When you are at your bottom the knowledge of not having control is all too real.

Over the last several years my husband and I have lived the world of not being in control. One of the first signs of this great reality was when I started having continual heart flutters. One night, in my kitchen while in the midst of cooking supper, I sat on the floor feeling extremely lightheaded. I thought if I was about to pass out the floor was the best place, I reasoned, to be. Between pleading with God to let me live and wrestling with whether or not I needed to grab the phone and dial 911, I wondered if I was taking my last breath, but also the thought of what if it wasn’t really anything and I made an unnecessary call which would, in turn, lead to a needless scare and unwanted medical bill. Yeah, maybe not that rational, but I started talking myself down from my state of panic between prayers to God. I was scared. Thankfully the heart monitor I was wearing was recording every little unusual beat of my heart, and yes, the frightening moment did pass. It wasn’t long after this episode my doctor determined I had PVC or Premature Ventricular Contractions. It’s when a heart makes extra beats it shouldn’t be making, but the good news, it isn’t life-threatening, just frightening and a bit of a nuisance, robbing a person of peace and rest. After going to a local heart doctor I learned my heart was very healthy; it just had an odd beat, which I’m hoping will go away on its own one day. (Not long after my diagnosis the extra beats did begin to lesson.) There’s something about knowing you’re not dying that can have an extremely calming effect, and a few, or a lot of extra heartbeats, are strange reassurances your heart does work, just a little differently than most. There are times these extra beats sneak up on me and bring with them very little sleep, like in recent weeks, but it’s just one of those things I have to submit complete control over to the One who has control over everything.

Along with this uncontrollable aspect of my life, a couple of years ago my husband lost his job of 28 years. He could have retired this year with benefits, but now we live by faith, more than we ever have before. We’re grateful his family had a business he could join them in. While some month’s the business is dry and getting by is a struggle, God shows us He is in control. We haven’t gone hungry. We’re still together. I’m still able to homeschool our children, and God has kept a roof over our heads. We are grateful—more than words worth.

I could go on and on with examples from these past few years detailing how I have no control over my life or the life of my family. I could have blamed God, become bitter and just given up. Although there have been plenty of times I wanted to, I didn’t, because I know who holds me in His hands: God. I don’t understand the whys of it all, but truthfully I don’t have to. I shouldn’t expect to understand something God is using to accomplish His purposes in me.

He cares for me with an unfailing love.

AND

He cares for YOU with an unfailing love.

In our homeschool we memorize verses, and have been doing so for eight years. We’ve worked on memorizing the usual verses, a few out of the norm verses, and even a few chapters in the book of Psalm (19 & 24). The verses we are working on right now are found in Psalm 36. Verses 5 through 7 read: “Your unfailing love, O Lord, is as vast as the heavens; your faithfulness reaches beyond the clouds. Your righteousness is like the mighty mountains, your justice like the ocean depths. You care for people and animals alike, O Lord. How precious is your unfailing love, O God! All humanity finds shelter in the shadow of your wings (NLT).”

I love these verses. That’s THE Sovereign LORD: absolute ruler of the universe working to care for us. His love is unfailing. He is faithful. He is righteous. He is just. He loves like no other. Isn’t it comforting? We can find shelter from everything that goes wrong in the shadow of His wings.

There’s not a better place to be.

~~~

Slip by tomorrow on St. Patrick’s Day to learn about the Sovereignty of God on this month’s Theology Tuesday. Can’t wait for you to sit with me!

Posted in Monday Musings | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Friday Funday: Blueberry Coffee Cake

Okay, so I didn’t exactly choose a Valentine’s themed recipe or one with a red pretty ‘something’ on or in it. Hey, it’s after Valentine ’s Day, after all. BUT you’re family is going to LOVE this yummy, moist, and scrumptious blueberry coffee cake. Mine sure do!

Blueberry Coffee Cake

*This recipe is an adaptation to a recipe found on Taste of Home’s website (Crumbed-topped Blueberry Coffee Cake). You can see the original recipe by clicking here: http://www.tasteofhome.com/recipes/crumb-topped-blueberry-coffee-cake

¼ cup butter, softened
2/3 cup sugar
1 egg
¼ tsp vanilla extract
1 cup plus 2 Tbsp all-purpose flour, divided
½ tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
½ cup milk (I prefer to use non-sweetened vanilla flavored almond milk)
1 cup fresh or frozen (don’t thaw) blueberries
3 oz cream cheese, softened

Topping:
2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
2 Tbsp sugar
¼ tsp ground cinnamon

Directions:

For batter, in a large bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy.(Add vanilla, if you chose to include ingredient) Beat in egg. Combine 1 cup flour, baking powder and salt; gradually add into creamed mixture alternately with milk (almond milk).

Toss blueberries with remaining flour. Add cream cheese to batter and mix until incorporated. Fold blueberries lightly into batter. Pour batter into an 8×8 greased glass dish.

For topping, combine sugar, flour and cinnamon into a small bowl. Cut in the butter until crumbly. Sprinkle the crumb mixture over the batter. Bake at 375 degrees for 40-45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool slightly. The coffeecake is best served warm and with a cup of coffee. Yield:6-8 servings.

Enjoy!!! (Be sure to let me know if your family liked the recipe.)

Come back on Monday, March 16 for a closer look at the sovereignty of God.

See you then,
Latanya

(Please visit my Facebook page–Grace Beyond Measure-GBM Ministry <link is to the right>– to see a photo of the Blueberry Coffeecake later today. For some reason the photo upload will not work on WordPress today. I’ll try again at a later date!)

Posted in Friday Funday, Recipes | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Teaching Thursday—To Love as Christ Loves Us

~~Written by: Billy Wagner, Jr.

Today’s post is written by my husband, Billy Wagner, Jr. He is a graduate of Wingate University in Communications and Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary with a Masters of Divinity in Christian Education. He is our family’s awesome provider, and he is a fantastic dad to Morressa, Mattie, and Luke. I’m excited to share him with my readers today. I’m ‘kinda’ partial to him. 😉

Jesus knew that relationships are the most valuable asset that we have, but at times the most difficult to maintain. That’s why in John 13:34 Jesus taught, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” Then He added, “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (verse 35).

Those who love will always “believe” in the other person. There is no second-guessing or questioning of whether the person should be loved. Love is simply given. It is unconditional. The loved one does not need to perform anything or achieve a certain goal in order to be loved. Just as Christ loves His children unconditionally, He calls us to love others. Love is based on who He is, not on what others do.

A person with God’s type of love will “always trust.” That is, he will not be suspicious of the one he loves. He will be slow to believe any damaging news concerning the loved one and will always give the benefit of the doubt. Whatever the situation, love is ready to trust. To trust someone means you are “ever ready to believe the best.

If brothers and sisters in Christ would believe in one another, setting suspicion aside and extending unconditional love, what a difference it would make in the church! When our focus is on Christ, we can show His love to meet the needs of others. 1 Corinthians 13 lists three things that will always remain: faith (pistis), hope, and love. The Christian need never be without these gifts. His nature is to believe and love.

Posted in Teaching Thursday | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment