IS GOD IN CONTROL OF MY LIFE?
Pastor Dennis Heppner
August 21, 2005
Psalm 93, 97, 99
Is God really in control of my life? This is a good question. Does God rule over the daily circumstances of my life? Is everything that happens to me God’s will, plan or purpose?
Today, once again we will look at three psalms. Psalms 93 to 100 all celebrate His rule over the earth but three of them have a unique beginning. Psalm 93, 97 and 99: Each begins with the same phrase-“The Lord reigns”, and each ends with the same theme–God’s holiness. So let’s read a few verses from these psalms.
1 The LORD reigns, he is robed in majesty;
the LORD is robed in majesty
and is armed with strength.
The world is firmly established;
it cannot be moved.
2 Your throne was established long ago;
you are from all eternity.
1 The LORD reigns, let the earth be glad;
let the distant shores rejoice.
1 The LORD reigns,
let the nations tremble;
he sits enthroned between the cherubim,
let the earth shake.
I. The Lord Reigns–Receive Him
The Lord reigns. There have been some very evil rulers, kings and monarchs throughout the world history. Human rulers have often brought unimaginable suffering to their world and to their own people. In ancient times, some of Israel’s kings were wicked. King Herod during the time of Jesus’ birth, killed all the children in bethlehem. Then in modern times there’s Adolf Hitler, Saddam Hussein, Idi Amin of Uganda, Joseph Stalin and many more. Sadly, we see that even today, it still goes on.
Part of the problem is the character of the human being. The Bible says:
“The human heart is most deceitful and desperately wicked. Who really knows how bad it is?”
It is impossible for anyone to behave consistently in a way that is inconsistent with their character. What you really are inside will come out in the way you live and rule. You may, at times, put your best foot forward. You may turn a new leaf at some point. You may be in full control for part of the time, but sooner or later your character will be seen in your life and behavior. So the character of the king determines the characteristic of the kingdom.
The psalmist says, “The Lord reigns.” The word “Lord” in its Hebrew form is found 6,519 times in the Bible. God, Lord, Yahweh–the God who is in covenant with His people, the God who cares for His people, the personal God of His people–He reigns.
If you’d like to know how the Lord will reign, you will have to look at the character of the Lord.
- How will God relate to me?
- How will God treat me?
- What will God do for me and to me?
God will treat me in a way that is consistent with His character.
From this psalm, we learn that His character is strong. You could say He is strong and consistent, He is strongly consistent and He is consistently strong.
How strong is the Lord? Well the Bible says in its opening verses, that God created the heavens and the earth. Paul says that creation reveals God’s power.
NLT Romans 1:20
From the time the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky and all that God made. They can clearly see his invisible qualities–His eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse whatsoever for not knowing God.
If God is not really God, then His words can be minimized. I receive copies of the National Geographic magazine. I like the pictures in it, but the whole National Geographic society is built on one theory–that the world and everything we know has evolved into what we see today.
Charles Darwin, one of the founders of the theory of evolution wrote in 1860, “I cannot think of the world as we see it is the result of chance and yet I cannot look at each separate thing as a result of design. Again, I say, I am and shall ever remain in a hopeless muddle.”
National Geographic should print that!
Rather than just admit that everything pointed to a God who designed this world, Darwin chose to believe the theory- and it is still just a theory- that the world evolved.
There is an issue here much bigger than evolution. It is a basic attack at the God who reigns, the creator. If God–the Lord we trust–did not create this world as the Bible says, then exactly how powerful is He? What can He do?
These psalms were written to celebrate the Lord who reigns. If Creation stands as God’s masterpiece, then is there anything God cannot do?
If he really reigns, He cannot be manipulated or pressured to do evil. He cannot be changed. He is true to His Word.
NLT Psalm 93:3
3The mighty oceans have roared, O LORD. The mighty oceans
roar like thunder; the mighty oceans roar as they pound the shore.
4 But mightier than the violent raging of the seas, mightier than
the breakers on the shore– the LORD above is mightier than these!
There you have it, a tsunami and it’s powerful destructive force- and it only makes you aware that God is greater. The roar, the sound of the seas, they proclaim the Lord’s greatness.
Your statutes stand firm…
His statutes or Word is firm. You can never ignore God’s ways and benefit from His promises. God is so sure and so consistent that he is willing to put it into writing. You know what they say, “If you don’t want to be quoted don’t put it in writing.” God does not mind being quoted.
NIV Psalm 119:89
Your word, O LORD, is eternal; it stands firm in the heavens. 90 Your faithfulness continues through all generations; you established the earth, and it endures. 91 Your laws endure to this day, for all things serve you
NIV Psalm 119:91
Your laws endure to this day, for all things serve you.
NIV Psalm 119:97
Oh, how I love your law! I meditate on it all day long. 98 Your commands make me wiser than my enemies, for they are ever with me.
NIV Psalm 119:129
Your statutes are wonderful; therefore I obey them.
NIV Psalm 119:105
Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.
The Lord reigns. Open your heart and life to Him and let Him and His Word reign over you.
II. The Lord reigns–Respond to Him
The Lord reigns-let the earth be glad. Let the distant shores
rejoice. Worship Him all you gods. Rejoice in the Lord, you
who are righteous, and praise His holy name.
We have a long-standing problem in my home country of Canada between the different language speaking people of Canada. Some has consistently received more federal government funding and benefits over the years than other parts of Canada. However, they consistently talk about separating from Canada to have their own autonomous government. They do not want to be responsible for their debts, but they would like to have the privileges of freedom. They want to receive everything without giving anything. This is a simplification and there is much more to it. It may also be said that they have not always been treated right. Yet it illustrates human nature. This is a human problem that we also have with God.
The Lord reigns and we understand that God is good and that Jesus loves us and that God is merciful. But also understand that even though these define God’s character, it does not mean that God does not expect anything from us. He does- He expects gratitude, responsibility, and righteousness.
He expects you to be glad that He reigns. He expects you to rejoice and praise His holy name. He expects you to worship Him.
How do we worship the Lord?
TEV Romans 6:13
Give yourselves to God… surrender your whole being to Him
to be used for righteous purposes.
Rick Warren says, “The heart of worship is surrender”. In a world of competition, “me first”, “take care of number one”, the whole idea of surrender feels like admitting defeat. This whole idea of worship begins when you formally acknowledge that God reigns and then offering yourself to God. You cannot really begin to worship until you see your own limitations. How will I ever give honor to God and allow Him to reign if I think I can do it on my own? Worship begins when you come to the end of yourself and discover Jesus.
A.W. Tozer said:
“The reason why many are still troubled, still seeking, still making little forward progress is because they haven’t yet come to the end of themselves. We’re still trying to give orders and interfering with God’s work within us.”
You should not misunderstand my concept of surrender. It is not resignation. It is not this whole idea that somehow God is in control and therefore there is nothing for me to do. This is not some vague idea that because God reigns, He has orchestrated all of the good and the bad and the evil of my life and therefore, there’s nothing I can do about this.
Remember this very important fact: evil and suffering is caused by sin not by God.
Since the beginning of man’s creation, we have consistently rebelled against God and there is the reason for our suffering.
NIV Romans 6:23
For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord
You were made to relate to God but sin has wrecked all that.
NIV Isaiah 59:1
Surely the arm of the LORD is not too short to save, nor his ear too dull to hear. 2 But your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear.
When He does not reign life gets out of order and does not work right.
The apostle Paul says you will need to aggressively surrender to the good.
Make a choice to surrender to what is good rather than what is evil.
Here is Paul’s idea of surrender:
Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer
your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God-
this is your spiritual act of worship.
Then take it one step further and understand what it really means to let the Lord reign
2 do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be
transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be
able to test and approve what God’s will is-His good, pleasing
and perfect will.
This worship of God is not passive, it is an aggressive consistent offering of your life to God’s purpose and will. The highest form of all worship has nothing to do with what goes on in this service. This may be a worship service and the singing and clapping and lifting of the hands and raising of the voices is all done for the honor and glory of God but your worship is most clearly seen by your daily life given to His Lordship and allowing Him and His ways to reign over your life. Your participation in the worship of God is directly connected to you lifestyle. Your lifestyle of surrender makes you a worshipper of God.
This means that I trust Him. I follow Him. I want to obey Him.
Psalm 37:7 NIV
Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for Him.
Surrender yourself to the Lord and wait patiently for Him
Quiet down before God, be prayerful before Him.
Then David says, don’t bother with those who climb the ladder, who elbow their way to the top. Practice the daily skill of surrender to the Lord. This is the man or woman of principle. His/her focus is to actively live out the ways of God in his life. This means that everything I do, I want to do God’s way–that’s what it means to be surrendered to God. Sometimes this means I stand up, other times it means I walk away, and then sometimes it means I speak up and then sometimes it means I say nothing because the new bottom line is SURRENDER.
III. The Lord Reigns–Reverence Him
The Lord reigns let the nation’s tremble.
Let the nations live in reverence of God. Fear God in a world where there is no fear of God. Respect God in a world that does not respect him. We must respect his ways and his word.
One day, I sat in a restaurant across the table from a 50 year-old businessman just a short time after his father had died. He said to me, “My father must be in heaven.” Then he looked at me and asked, “Isn’t he?”
I replied the only way that I could. I said, “I don’t know. I did not know your father, but I do know the Bible says how you go to heaven. Because I did not know him and I’ve never spoken to him, I did not know anything about his personal relationship with Jesus Christ. I cannot tell you where your father is.”
He was angry that I would suggest any other possibility than heaven. He said to me, “After all the good that my father did, he has to be in heaven!” What can I say? I do not make the decisions about where people go after they die.
We are all going somewhere. We are on a journey. Larry Crabb writes about it; everything people do is moving in a chosen direction. Behavior is never static but always dynamic. Behavior is always behavior-in-motion. We all go after whatever thing will give us what we want.
Listen–God, who made you, knows that you thirst and hunger for spiritual reality. This business about the Lord and His reign and His strength, His consistency and His word cannot be minimized. This is all about the Lord who, even though He reigns, uses His word as His guiding practices. He understands your sin problem. He understands His own holiness. He knows that He cannot tolerate sin in any form and that there will be no sin in heaven. Therefore, if sin still holds your life. there will be no heaven for you.
So God sends Jesus to pay for your sin and bear your rebellion and then, as in all of God’s promises, He lays down the conditions on which you can be free of your sin.
NIV John 3:16
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.
NIV Acts 16:30
He then brought them out and asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” 31 They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved– you and your household.”
NIV Acts 2:38
Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off– for all whom the Lord our God will call.”
That repentance he speaks about, will be a complete turning away from every other basis of faith so that your entire faith is in Jesus Christ. There are no exceptions because the Lord reigns. We are all free to choose whom we will serve.
How is it that we humans want to know there is a God who is powerful and yet spend most of our lives ignoring Him? Is this not ironic? If we need Him, we would like Him to be available 24 -7. However, we care very little for His ways.
So the psalmist says, “The Lord reigns; let the nations tremble.” Let them be aware that He will hold them accountable.
Here is where God is at:
- He can do anything.
- He can orchestrate your life to its full potential IF you let Him reign.
- His specific will is not automatically fulfilled in us. It is a choice. Jesus Himself said, we should pray “Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven”.
- He knows that our sinful human nature will always pull us away from God’s way unless we willfully choose to walk in it. Only then will His control be extended to our daily lives.
- He will control the ultimate end based upon our cooperation with His reign.
Can we stop here and review our lives today? Can we consider what road we are on? Can we think about what part the Lord plays in our life’s direction and decisions?
Your life choices, are they really submitted to God? If so, that is worship! If not, then what or whom do you worship?
Why not let the Lord reign in you today? Decisions are important. You may need to make one today. You understand. The decision to get a new job, to get married, to immigrate to another country, to spend money or whatever are regularly made. Each of those is a decision that has far reaching consequences or blessings.
To choose to let the Lord reign will alter your life in ways you never thought possible. With Jesus in charge things must get better.