I just love it when I know the Lord is speaking a common theme in my life. When He confirms something again and again, from various sources, it's hard to deny that He's got a Word for me. The thing He's been pressing on my heart has shown up in my morning devotional book, in my Tuesday morning Bible study, in the text we are walking through at Church (Matthew), in conversations with friends and in struggles I find myself wrestling with.
In all of it, I keep hearing His voice speaking over the noise of my anxiety, saying to me;
"I'm Sovereign...I have a plan...You can trust me"
It's so easy to operate in a state of worry or to grieve over the way a situation unfolds, all the while wondering where is God? Has He forgotten me? Is He not seeing what's happening? Why would He choose this for me? Those thoughts are common for all of us, in one circumstance or another. Our finite minds cannot know or see the "big picture" and we have this crippling limitation due to our humanity.
Forget WHO HE IS.
Forget WHAT HE'S DONE.
Forget WHAT HE SAYS.
Forget WHO WE BELONG TO.
Forget WHERE HE SITS.
Unless we are intentional to remember, intentional to open our eyes and count the gifts, intentional to go to His Word...we forget. We operate in what we feel, instead of operating in what we know. But even better than operating in what we know, we should operate in what He's already done and what His Word promises. It takes time and it takes work and it takes intention to be someone who remembers Him, who looks for Him in all things and who responds in gratitude and praise. But that really is the best way to live, the best way to see Him clearly. As I've done some intentional things lately, He has been faithful to remind me of His Sovereignty. He has pointed out a plan that I couldn't see when I was in the thick of it, but as I looked back I found His fingerprints all over it. He's also convicted me to stop doubting Him with my actions, living as if He doesn't exist, but to trust Him with everything. In and over and under and through it all. Every detail.
One of the ways He's spoken so clearly is through my Tuesday morning Bible study and this walk through the Old Testament that we've been taking. Tracing the major events in the history of Israel, the major players in God's grand story of redemption. He did not give us their story so we'd be more informed about His chosen people and their place in time, or even so we could emulate our heroes of the faith and do what they did. There are some whose actions are worth emulating, but each one is flawed to some degree and their stories are not the focus, even though we often try to make them our aim. He gave us their story, so we could learn more about HIS story. Knowing more about them, ultimately leads to us knowing more about HIM. There is always a lower story going on, but praise be to God that He's also always unveiling an upper story that explains what we cannot see. In His Sovereignty, He has a plan for all people, for all time. He knows exactly where each of us fit in that plan and He's got a reason for everything He allows in our lives. I don't know about you, but that is extremely comforting to me. It gives me peace in the dark places, knowing that He's in control and always will be. It gives me purpose to know that I play a role in the grand story, but perspective to know that life is not all about me and my role either! It also reminds me that I have a responsibility to Him and that is to trust in His saving work at the cross in my place, to believe that He is God and only through His Son's death and resurrection can I have peace with Him and to obey Him in all I do, because I love Him and He is worthy of my surrendered heart and life.
I've been blessed beyond measure to refresh my heart and mind about the Old Testament account of God and His people. He awoke my heart to Who He is anew, when He led me to read through the Bible chronologically last summer and then when I joined this study and we started tracing His redemption from the beginning. It's been worth all the reading and time spent, a thousand fold! The study has been incredible, but just as good was the simple reading. It matters that we know God's Word. It matters that we take time to read it for ourselves. It matters that we can explain how the Bible is written and why. It matters that we can give a reason for the hope that we have.
I'm letting you in on some of the work we've done this year as we've traced the first chunk of Israel's story. We are moving into the New Testament now, to the entrance of Jesus into the story and His divine invasion that turned Israel and the world upside down. But I didn't want to let go of the Old Testament without first sharing it with you. I know the Old Testament gets a bum wrap sometimes and it's not the easiest thing to read. The stories can be confusing sometimes and God often seems harsh or angry or impatient when we pick stories at random. But the truth is, He's not any of those things and when your read His story from beginning to end, He paints a beautiful picture of His great mercy, His Holiness, His tender care, His unending love, His faithfulness and His justice. It matters to know Him and to know His story because He is worth knowing and a saving relationship with Him, changes everything.
So here is a snapshot of His story from the Old Testament, a highlight reel of His redemptive plan through His people, Israel...It's not comprehensive, but hopefully helpful or just a good reason to give God praise today and be reminded that He always has a Sovereign plan, no matter how we feel or what we see.
Creation- World spoken into being/man & woman/ Adam & Eve
The Fall- Sin/curse/ forgiveness promised
The Flood- Noah/warnings & judgement/a promise & covenant
Abraham- Covenant with 3 promises/patriarch/foreshadowing of coming gospel
Isaac/Jacob- Patriarchs/sacrifice test/chosen by grace to lead
Joseph- Actively trusted/picture of redemption
Exodus-Time of Judges
Israel enslaved- Moses born/called to lead/nation called out of slavery
Israel freed- Passover/delivered from Egypt/Red Sea crossing
Desert wanderings- God provides/law given/cycles of sin, repentance, obedience
Desert wanderings- God provides/tabernacle instructions given/cycles of sin, repentance, obedience
Desert wanderings- God provides/sacrificial system given/cycles of sin, repentance, obedience
Promised land- Joshua leads
Judges- Time of unrest/Ruth/kinsman redeemer/foreshadowing of Christ
Kings of Israel- Exiles
David- Israel's future King promised/good reign under David
Solomon- Wisdom/peaceful reign/temple built
Kingdom divided- Solomon's sin/Israel & Judah/Evil kings & good kings
Prophetic warnings- God given prophets/patience/Israel & Judah fall
A Nation Exiled- Prophets/Consequence/Hope
Exiles Return- Temple & wall rebuilt/Worship restored
400 years of silence from God
Stage being set for a new way, a Savior, a plan for all of mankind, not just Israel...
" I'm Sovereign...I have a plan...You can trust me."
Yes, and Amen!!