Saturday, April 21, 2012

Who's in Charge Here?

Who's in Charge Here?   

We hear a lot about the sovereignty of God and the doctrinal debates and heated discussions that follow. So I was a little reluctant to share on this subject.
So I'll give a little introduction to why this subject has come to mean so much to me.

My story: I was brought up believing we "control" our destiny and sometime the devil does, and sometimes God does. But God only controls our destiny when we don't let the devil or self in. So basically, God is in control in a very limited way. In 1988 it all came to a head when my world went into a whirlwind of stuff. I was convinced the devil and I had so messed up things that God couldn't fix the mess. Then in 1992 I heard a message of a cassette tape by a minister, that started to open my eyes just a little bit about our sovereign God. Then, I really started to see and understand our God is sovereign in 2002/2003 AND am still growing in that understanding. But atleast I can now answer the question: Who's in Charge Here with my Almighty and Sovereign God.

I am not a know it all, but I do hope that some of what follows from the scriptures will minister hope, peace, and a belief in a God who is bigger and watch's over ALL your circumstances.

For the sake of devaluing my thoughts and exalting the Bible I have put in smaller font my "commentary". So that if you are having a hard time with "me" then atleast read the scriptures put in red for ease in reading. I'm always here for God's body and to Glorify God in all I say and do!

Today, we will lightly cover that exact subject, as it is quite vast.
The Sovereignty of God is the biblical teaching that all things are under God's rule 
and control, and that nothing happens without His direction or permission.

God’s Tapestry
God weaves the strands of life
Into a perfect tapestry. 
And though His plans for us 
May sometimes seem a mystery. 
If we but trust Him, 
Even when we do not understand, 
Our lives can be great works of art, 
designed by His own hand…
by Emily Matthews 
Sometimes we are exhorted to try to make our own way through life. This is an 
unbiblical idea. It is the Lord who orders our steps. He is weaving together a beautiful 
tapestry in our lives and in this world. This tapestry is to be a display of His glory. 
If I try to weave it myself, it would turn out to be rather ugly. God is the Weaver.

How far does God's authority really extend? Is He sovereign over everything or just some things? Is He intimately involved in the details or just the general plan? And if He's not in charge, then who is?

Three Options: Yes, there are actually only three options to choose from:
1. Chance - There is no God. Everything that happens is unplanned and accidental.
2. Dualism - Authority is shared between two (or more) gods who are at cross
purposes with one another.
3. God controls and has authority over everything.

Let's look at this not from an emotional standpoint, but based on what the Bible says:

1. The LORD is Intimately Involved with All Things:

He determines the roll of the dice -- 
The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the LORD. - Proverbs 16:33

Not one sparrow alights upon the ground apart from God's direction -- 
Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father. - Matthew 10:29

God directs through the decisions of government leaders -- The king's heart is in the hand of the LORD; He directs it like a watercourse wherever he pleases. - Proverbs 21:1

God causes affluence and creates calamity -- 
I am the LORD, and there is no other; apart from me there is no God. I will strengthen you, though you have not acknowledged me, so that from the rising of the sun to the place of its setting men may know there is none besides me. 
I am the LORD, and there is no other. I form the light and create darkness, 
I bring prosperity and create disaster; I, the LORD, do all these things. - Isaiah 45:5-7 

The LORD has a plan and works out everything in conformity with the purpose of His will Ephesians 1:11

Therefore, no plan of man can succeed against the LORD -- 
There is no wisdom, no insight, no plan that can succeed against the LORD. - Proverbs 21:30

2. The LORD Directs the Decisions and Destinies of Men and Women\

A man's mind may plan his way, but the LORD is the one who determines his steps - Proverbs 16:9

No one from the east or the west or from the desert can exalt a man. But it is God who judges: He brings one down, he exalts another.  -- Psalm 75:6-7 

My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.  -- Psalm 139:15-16 

3. The Scriptures Are Not Afraid to Confirm that Even the Actions of the Wicked are Ultimately Under God's Control:
The LORD works out everything for His own ends - even the wicked for a day of disaster (Proverbs 16:4).

The evil actions of Joseph's brothers were ordained by God to accomplish His purposes.
Joseph said to his brothers, "But God sent me ahead of you to preserve for you a remnant on earth and to save your lives by a great deliverance."  -- Genesis 45:7
You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. - Genesis 50:20 

The decisions of Herod, Pilate, Caiaphas, and others to destroy Jesus were part of the plan of God 
Indeed Herod and Pontius Pilate met together with the Gentiles and the people of Israel in this city to conspire against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed. They did what your power and will had decided beforehand should happen. -- Acts 4:27-28 

Even Satan works under God's control and unwittingly accomplishes God's purposes. 
Compare 1 Chronicles 21:1 with 2 Samuel 24:1. See also Job 1:20-22; 2:10; 42:11.

The biblical view of man -- indeed, of the whole universe -- pictures a God who has made men in His image and the world to reflect His goodness. It reveals Him busily involved in all the processes of nature and society, upholding the universe by the word of His power, working all things according to the counsel of His will and for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purposes. He is shown to be the God who "doth uphold, direct, dispose, and govern all creatures, actions, and things, from the greatest even to the least, by His most wise and holy providence."
While God certainly does use secondary causes -- like genes, the environment, and all the other "impersonal" forces -- at bottom, He is at work in them all, accomplishing His good purposes to glorify Himself by the manifestation of His mercy and His justice. The whole universe is personally attended to by the living God; and men.

What a far cry from the picture of an impersonal, uncaring, even savage universe that is painted for us by the best minds of evolutionary science. This is not an impersonal cosmos, and the people with whom we share it are not simply the products of chance, time, and impersonal material particles and processes. And we must give more acknowledgment and thanksgiving to God who visits His creation for the purposes of His glory than this sad generation has been willing to give.

What Difference Does It Make to Believe That the LORD is Sovereign and thus in Control of All Things?

  • It challenges our small-minded images and concepts of God. -- We live in an age when the world and many churches are willing to acknowledge the existence of a god. But the god that is acknowledged by the world and preached about in many churches is not the powerful, sovereign, all-ordaining LORD of the Scriptures. This modern version of deity is an emasculated caricature of the God of the Bible. He is a buddy who we can use in times of trouble, but don't need to bother about when things are going good. Or He is the "good" god who fights against Satan, sickness, and weak finances when we give Him permission (-- this is just another form of dualism).

    The true God that we see in the Bible is God, the blessed and only Ruler, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone is immortal and who lives in unapproachable light, whom no one has seen or can see. To him be honor and might forever. Amen. (1 Timothy 6:15-16).

    We need to get our view of God up to Biblical standards, no matter how difficult it may be to reconcile man's freewill, the problem of evil, and God's sovereignty. 
  • These questions have Biblical answers, but we will only understand them when we are willing to believe what the Bible says about the LORD. The Bible affirms a completely sovereign God who is involved at some level in every action, every event, and every decision ever made throughout all eternity.
  • We realize our absolute dependence upon God for any blessing, any mercy, or any goodness. My times are in your hand (Psalm 31:15). We are completely dependent upon God for anything good that happens to us. People who have a proper view of God have a deeper trust in God, are more humble, and are less fretful during times of trouble.
  • We find a greater security in the Christian life when we accept that less depends on us and more depends on God. The God we read about in the Bible is not only willing, but able to keep us -- Jude 1:24 To him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy.
  • John 6:39 Jesus said, "And this is the will of Him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all that He has given me, but raise them up at the last day. For my Father's will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I WILL raise him up at the last day."

    Romans 8:38-39 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

    Nothing good, bad, or evil will happen to me without first passing through my Heavenly Father's hands, so I know that all things do work together for the good for me (Romans 8:28).

God's plan

 for your life

far exceed

the circumstances 

of the day.

In closing, my prayer is NOT that this devotion/teaching will cause any conflict in the hearts of saved man, but that we will truly see who's in charge and accept His working in our lives, EVEN when it doesn't all make sense now, as someday it will (most likely when we see Him face to face in Eternity).

To contact me
Email: Jim (

Saturday, April 07, 2012

Devotion: "Liar? Lunatic? or LORD?"

Devotion: "Liar, Lunatic, or LORD" by Josh McDowell

Jesus' distinct claims of being God eliminate the popular ploy of skeptics who regard Him as just a good moral man or a prophet who said a lot of profound things.

So often that conclusion is passed off as the only one acceptable to scholars or as the obvious result of the intellectual process.

The trouble is, many people nod their heads in agreement and never see the fallacy of such reasoning.
Analyzing Jesus' Claim To Be God
C. S. Lewis, who was a professor at Cambridge University and once an agnostic, understood this issue clearly.
He writes: "I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: 'I'm ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don't accept His claim to be God.' That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic -‑ on a level with the man who says he is a poached egg ‑- or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the son of God: or else a madman or something worse."
Then Lewis adds: "You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come up with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to."
In the words of Kenneth Scott Latourette, historian of Christianity at Yale University: "It is not His teachings which make Jesus so remarkable, although these would be enough to give Him distinction. It is a combination of the teachings with the man Himself. The two cannot be separated."
Jesus claimed to be God. He didn't leave any other option open. His claim must be either true or false, so it is something that should be given serious consideration.
Jesus' question to His disciples, "But who do you say that I am?" (Matthew 16:15) has several alternatives.
First, suppose that His claim to be God was false. If it was false, then we have only two alternatives. He either knew it was false or He didn't know it was false.
We will consider each one separately and examine the evidence.

Was He a Liar?

If, when Jesus made His claims, He knew that He was not God, then He was lying and deliberately deceiving His followers.
But if He was a liar, then He was also a hypocrite because He told others to be honest, whatever the cost, while He himself taught and lived a colossal lie.
More than that, He was a demon, because He told others to trust Him for their eternal destiny. If He couldn't back up His claims and knew it, then He was unspeakably evil. 
Last, He would also be a fool because it was His claims to being God that led to His crucifixion.
Many will say that Jesus was a good moral teacher. Let's be realistic. How could He be a great moral teacher and knowingly mislead people at the most important point of His teaching ‑- His own identity? You would have to conclude logically that He was a deliberate liar.
This view of Jesus, however doesn't coincide with what we know either of Him or the results of His life and teachings.
Wherever Jesus has been proclaimed, lives have been changed for the good, nations have changed for the better, thieves are made honest, alcoholics are cured, hateful individuals become channels of love, unjust persons become just.
William Lecky, one of Great Britain's most noted historians and a dedicated opponent of organized Christianity, writes: "It was reserved for Christianity to present to the world an ideal character which through all the changes of 18 centuries has inspired the hearts of men with an impassioned love; has shown itself capable of acting on all ages, nations, temperaments and conditions; has been not only the highest pattern of virtue, but the strongest incentive to its practice.... The simple record of these 3 short years of active life has done more to regenerate and soften mankind than all the disquisitions of philosophers and all the exhortations of moralists."
Historian Philip Schaff says: "How, in the name of logic, common sense, and experience, could an imposter -‑ that is a deceitful, selfish, depraved man -‑ have invented, and consistently maintained from the beginning to end, the purest and noblest character known in history with the most perfect air of truth and reality? How could He have conceived and successfully carried out a plan of unparalleled beneficence, moral magnitude, and sublimity, and sacrificed His own life for it, in the face of the strongest prejudices of His people and age?"
If Jesus wanted to get people to follow Him and believe in Him as God, why did He go to the Jewish nation? Why go as a Nazarene carpenter to a country so small in size and population and so thoroughly adhering to the undivided unity of God? Why didn't He go to Egypt or, even more, to Greece, where they believed in various gods and various manifestations of them?
Someone who lived as Jesus lived, taught as Jesus taught, and died as Jesus died could not have been a liar.

Was He a Lunatic?

If it is inconceivable for Jesus to be a liar, then couldn't He actually have thought Himself to be God, but been mistaken? After all, it's possible to be both sincere and wrong.
But we must remember that for someone to think himself God, especially in a fiercely monotheistic culture, and then to tell others that their eternal destiny depended on believing in him, is no light flight of fantasy but the thoughts of a lunatic in the fullest sense.
Was Jesus Christ such a person?
Someone who believes he is God sounds like someone today believing himself Napoleon. He would be deluded and self‑deceived, and probably he would be locked up so he wouldn't hurt himself or anyone else.
Yet in Jesus we don't observe the abnormalities and imbalance that usually go along with being deranged. His poise and composure would certainly be amazing if He were insane.
Noyes and Kolb, in a medical text, describe the schizophrenic as a person who is more autistic than realistic. The schizophrenic desires to escape from the world of reality. Let's face it; claiming to be God would certainly be a retreat from reality.
In light of the other things we know about Jesus, it's hard to imagine that He was mentally disturbed. Here is a man who spoke some of the most profound sayings ever recorded. His instructions have liberated many individuals from mental bondage.
Clark H. Pinnock asks: "Was He deluded about His greatness, a paranoid, an unintentional deceiver, a schizophrenic? Again, the skill and depth of His teachings support the case only for His total mental soundness. If only we were as sane as He!"
A student at a California university told me that his psychology professor had said in class that "all he has to do is pick up the Bible and read portions of Christ's teaching to many of his patients. That's all the counseling they need."
Psychiatrist J. T. Fisher states: "If you were to take the sum total of all authoritative articles ever written by the most qualified of psychologists and psychiatrists on the subject of mental hygiene ‑- if you were to combine them and refine them, and cleave out the excess verbiage -‑ if you were to take the whole of the meat and none of the parsley, and if you were to have these unadulterated bits of pure scientific knowledge concisely expressed by the most capable of living poets, you would have an awkward and incomplete summation of the Sermon on the Mount. And it would suffer immeasurably through comparison. For nearly 2,000 years the Christian world has been holding in its hands the complete answer to its restless and fruitless yearnings. Here ... rests the blueprint for successful human life with optimism, mental health, and contentment."
C. S. Lewis writes: "The historical difficulty of giving for the life, sayings and influence of Jesus any explanation that is not harder than the Christian explanation is very great. The discrepancy between the depth and sanity...of His moral teaching and the rampant megalomania which must lie behind His theological teaching unless He is indeed God has never been satisfactorily explained. Hence the non‑Christian hypotheses succeed one another with the restless fertility of bewilderment."
Philip Schaff reasons: "Is such an intellect ‑- clear as the sky, bracing as the mountain air, sharp and penetrating as a sword, thoroughly healthy and vigorous, always ready and always self‑possessed -‑ liable to a radical and most serious delusion concerning His own character and mission? Preposterous imagination!"

Was He Lord?

I cannot personally conclude that Jesus was a liar or a lunatic. The only other alternative is that He was the Christ, the Son of God, as He claimed.
When I discuss this with most Jewish people, it's interesting how they respond. They usually tell me that Jesus was a moral, upright, religious leader, a good man, or some kind of prophet. I then share with them the claims Jesus made about Himself and then this material on the trilemma (liar, lunatic, or Lord).
When I ask if they believe Jesus was a liar, there is a sharp "No!"
Then I ask, "Do you believe He was a lunatic?" The reply is, "Of course not."
"Do you believe He is God?"
Before I can get a breath in edgewise, there is a resounding, "Absolutely not."
Yet one has only so many choices.
The issue with these 3 alternatives is not which is possible, for it is obvious that all 3 are possible. Rather, the question is, "Which is more probable?"
Who you decide Jesus Christ is must not be an idle intellectual exercise. You cannot put Him on the shelf as a great moral teacher. That is not a valid option.
He is either a liar, a lunatic, or Lord and God. You must make a choice.
"But," as the apostle John wrote, "these have been written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and" ‑- more important ‑- "that believing you might have life in His name" (John 20:31).
The evidence is clearly in favor of Jesus as Lord. Some people, however, reject this clear evidence because of moral implications involved. They don't want to face up to the responsibility or implications of calling Him Lord.
Note: This devotion is not original with me, I found it at:

I look forward to bringing and writing many devotions in the future.

In His Service,