Wednesday, April 30, 2014

40 Day Challenge - Draw Closer to God & Your Hubby (Day 3: Trust in God's Sovereignty)

Reminder: before starting your day read the good news you were directed to post somewhere you'd see it every day (remember, Day 1?). 

Day 1's challenge was to recognize the power of Jesus Christ and what He accomplished on the cross. There is absolutely nothing more powerful than this to get us through our darkest hours.

Day 2's challenge was to simply stop and praise God. Like Job we need to "...stop and consider the wondrous works of God." (Job 37:14) Instead of complaining and letting bitterness seep into our soul, praise God for His greatness, letting Him seep into our very heart, soul, and mind. You were also told to read Job 38-41 and list all the attributes that told of God's greatness. Here's my list:
  • He laid the foundation of the earth! (38:4)
  • He determined the measurements of the earth! (v.5)
  • He knows the base on which he placed it! (Uh, mind blown.) (v.6)
  • He laid the cornerstone. (v.6)
  • The STARS SING? (v.7)
  • The shut in the sea with doors when it burst forth at the sound of His voice. (v.8)
  • He made the clouds and the darkness. (v.9)
  • He told the waves of the sea to "stop here, go no further" (v.11)
  • He commands the morning and the dawn to know it's place. (v.12)
  • He asks Job, "Have you comprehended the expanse of the earth?" (v.18)
  • He has storehouses of snow and hail that He has reserved for the time of trouble, battle and war. (v.22-23)
  • He owns a "cleft channel for the torrents of rain" (v.25)
  • He "binds the chains of Pleiades or loose the cords of Orion" (v.31-32)
  • He guides the bear with its children! (v.32)
  • He knows the ordinances of the heavens! (v.33)
  • He sends forth lightening and it answers him! (v.35)
  • He gives understanding and wisdom. (v.36-37)
  • He can number the clouds! (v.37)
  • He hunts for the lions and provides for the raven. (v.39-41)
  • He knows when the mountain goats give birth and when they're ready to be on their own. (39:1-4)
  • He takes care of donkey's. (39:5-8)
  • The wild ox serves Him. (39:9-12)
  • The ostrich has no fear of her eggs dying because, "God has made her forget wisdom and given her no share in understanding." (v.13-17)
  • He gives the horse his might. (v.19-25)
  • "Is it by your understanding that the hawk soars and spreads his wings toward the south?" (v.26)
  • Is it at your command that the eagle mounts up and makes his nest on high?" (v.27)
  • "Shall a faultfinder contend with the Almighty? He who argues with God let him answer it." (40:2)
  • "Will you put me in the wrong? Will you condemn me that you may be in the right? Have you an arm like God, and can you thunder with a voice like his?" (40:8-9)
  • He brings down the low and treads down the wicked. (40:12-13)
  • LEVIATHON! This part is my favorite: "Will [Leviathon] make many pleas to you? Will he speak to you soft words? will he make a covenant with you to take him for your servant forever? Will you play with him as with a bird, or will you put him on a leash for your girls?" (41:1-34) Haha, sometimes I read sarcasm in His voice? That last line especially: will you put him on a leash for your girls? Haha! LOVE IT. But more importantly this mighty sea creature who God describes as having flaming torches fly out of his mouth and when the mighty see him they are afraid and that there is not one creature like him and ends it with, "... he is king over all the sons of pride." And God plays with him as with a bird? He puts a leash on him? This mighty creature makes PLEAS to GOD? I can't even fathom God's greatness!
  • "Who has first given to me, that I should repay him? Whatever is under the whole heaven is mine." (v.11)
Confession: I woke up yesterday morning to a messy house. Early Sunday morning we found sopping wet basement carpet (sigh). Which meant that we needed to drag all of our furniture elsewhere so we could begin the drying process (in other words my house is a disaster and it reeks of wet carpet). The first thing I did yesterday was let the frustration of that spill over in my conversation with my hubby, in fact it was the first thing I said to him. Not "Good morning!" or "Did you sleep well?" or "Do you want me to make you breakfast?" or "I love you!" Nope. It was complaining about the mess in our house. I felt immediate conviction, especially when my hubby told me to simply, "get over it." I found myself redirecting my thoughts The weather is nasty and ruined some plans. Our Bible study got canceled because there are so many people sick, including me and my family. There's only a teeny tiny path to get to my laundry room but laundry is overflowing and must be done. (Another sigh.) You see Satan uses these little things to plant seeds of bitterness and yesterday it was threatening to seep into every fiber of my being. I forced myself to sit down and create a song playlist called "God is GREAT!" (which contained songs like Indescribable and Our Great God and The Perfect Wisdom of Our God that were all about the wonderful characteristics of GOD - they were all God centered songs redirecting my thoughts to HIS WONDROUS WORKS) and I can't tell you what a difference that made. All day when I felt a complaint rising to the surface I'd instead refer to my playlist and to Job; and began praising God! His wondrous works are worth praising and because my thoughts were redirected to Him, the way I treated my husband was better, the way I interacted with my daughter was more patient and loving. I knew that in order to draw closer to my hubby I must draw closer to God FIRST, but the reality of that knowledge didn't hit me until yesterday when I put it to work. Here's why: your overspill will continue to be bitter complaining unless you realize the GREATNESS of the God you serve. So today the challenge is recognizing God's sovereignty in your life, because once you learn to trust Him wholeheartedly with you'll understand the freedom to truly love Him with every fiber of your being - totally changing your "overspill". 

Confession a year later: One short week ago my basement flooded again as a result of more than 6 inches of rain poured over our home in less than an hour (not a result of a forgotten soaker hose like last time). YESTERDAY I was struggling with the very same feelings described in my first confession. My laundry was overflowing and my laundry room was inaccessible. I am forever blown away at God's timing and the way He reveals Himself. The women I'm in a discipleship relationship decided to undertake this challenge again. THE DAY we started this challenge was the day we heard the gospel message at church followed by communion, which follows Day 1 of this challenge perfectly. AND THEN to have the same events? Focusing on God's sovereignty is absolutely, positively what I needed today and that just "happens" to be today's focus. I have goosebumps.

It's only day 2 of this challenge, but I can't tell you how badly I needed a refocus. I'm so glad you're joining me.

Day 3
Say it with me: God is in control. Say it again. And again. And again. Recognizing this one fact in your life will do wonders in allowing Him to sanctify you by whatever means necessary. It will also allow you to rest in Him and what He's doing in your life. What have you to worry about if you surrender everything to Him?

Jesus was very clear about His sovereignty in His sermon on the mount and because of His sovereignty we should not be anxious about anything, "Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink' or 'What shall we wear?' For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all." (Matthew 6:25-32) 

Throughout the book of Job you'll see little hints of Job's understanding of what Jesus meant in His sermon with comments like, "The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord." (1:21) That was his first response to losing everything - including his children, his wealth, his reputation, his health, everything. In fact, his very first response was falling to the ground and worshiping God (1:20) But as months passed with a prevailing sickness, Job began to beg God to end his life, to hear his side of the story, he'd recognize God's sovereignty in passages like 9:4-10, 12:7-25, 14:5, 23:13, 26:7-14, 28:23-28 but then turn around and say, "Today my complaint is bitter..." (23:2) and "... yet I am not silenced because of the darkness..." (23:17) We'd justify Job's complaints right? I mean, he lost everything! 

Here's the challenge we find in Job: in the midst of trials and tribulations what are we called to do?

Elihu told Job that he needed to stop and recognize God’s wondrous works because HE.IS.SOVEREIGN. (Job 37:14). That is the whole purpose of this book: that Job shut up, stop whining, complaining, and asking that God hear his side of the story (read 23:2-4 as one of many examples). When God answers Job He asks, “Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?” (38:4) and by the end of God’s sermon explaining His sovereign hand he flat out tells Job, “Whatever is under the whole heaven is mine.” (41:11) If God feeds the birds of the air and clothes the lilies of the field, if He is sovereign in their life, how much more will he take care of His children? Have faith, and praise His mighty, sovereign Name!

What can we understand about God’s sovereignty from this book? Well, He laid the foundation of the earth, who are we to question His plan? HE GIVES AND HE TAKES AWAY. (Job 1:21) Note the very specific wording in chapter 42 when Job regains his wealth, "And THE LORD RESTORED the fortunes of Job..." and "THE LORD GAVE Job twice as much as he had before..." and "THE LORD BLESSED the latter days of Job..." Based on the book of Job alone, everything, and I mean everything (your money, your clothing, the food in your pantry, your children, your life) is His. Yes, even your life (read Job 12:10). And when we add Jesus' sermon into the mix we realize that if everything is His (even food and clothing) then what on earth do we have to worry about? 

Rest in Him. Trust Him. Acknowledge Him. Praise Him (even if your refrigerator is empty). 

Sooooooo... how far does God's sovereignty reach? I don't know the answer to that exactly, but every day I read the Bible it becomes more and more evident that God is in control of it all for one purpose: HIS NAME AND HIS GLORY. I believe we will know all the answers to these questions in heaven but for now I know this... He gives each and every sinner a command: to believe in the gospel message or not. We either believe that Jesus lived, died, rose again and is seated at the right hand of God - or we don’t. (Read 1 Corinthians 15:3) There is no middle ground! We either live our lives for Jesus or we don’t. We either accept His sovereign hand or we don’t. And here’s the thing, whether or not you accept His sovereignty doesn’t matter. His plan will always, always, always win over yours. I can promise you this, once you begin to let go and let God work in your life, you truly begin to understand the freedom found in accepting Jesus Christ as your Savior! And LOVE Him as a result.

He is simply asking you to live a selfless life for the sake of Jesus Christ and His namesake. Even while you give up dreams, even while you endure hardships, HE is the only source of joy, hope, and peace. You will not win over the enemy without Him. You will not embrace your trials without Him. You will not be able to persevere without Him. Get over yourself and praise Him no matter what.

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
and do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge him,
and HE WILL make straight your paths.
Proverbs 3:5

Listen to that verse! 
  • Trust in HIM with ALL your heart! 
  • Forget about your understanding, if we have any. 
  • Acknowledge Him and His namesake in everything you do! 
  • And then He gives you a promise: He will make straight your paths. NO, it doesn't say that the path won't be rocky, or difficult, but HE WILL guide you according to HIS WORD. 
So in the midst of whatever you're going through: depression, marital difficulties, loss of a friend, child, or simply an ache for something better; even if we are unable to bask in the blessings of a loving husband, healthy children, your own health, riches, or anything else this life as to offer, know that no matter what --He is sovereign-- and we can bask and rest in the promises of God's sovereign hand in our life and acknowledge His great works

With this knowledge comes a task: read Job chapters 38 - 41 again, where God is talking, telling Job of His sovereign hand over everything. Every time you hit something that speaks of God's sovereignty, highlight it or underline it or put a star next to it (mark it however you wish, I highlight or underline it in purple). Yesterday you were asked to read these passages and list all the things that pointed to God's greatness. Today, mark everything in those passages that helps you understand that He is in control. 

And then in your journal, and for the rest of the day, praise Him for it. Seriously. Praise Him for all that He is, all that He's doing and has done and will do. Praise Him for His sovereign hand. If it helps you, like it does me, create a playlist that helps you praise Him for His greatness. Today my playlist will be on repeat.

If you just joined us, I encourage you to start with...
  • Day 1 - The Gospel
  • Day 2 - Stop & Consider the Wondrous Works of God

No comments:

Post a Comment