I know that you can do all things,
and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted.
Recently the Lord has been teaching me about His power. In Western Christian life and culture, I think we have become too accustomed to the words omniscient, omnipresent, omnipotent. We know what they mean but the words no longer give us a clear representation of who God is in our own minds. They have become words with no real significance.
How could we lose the weight of such powerful words when describing God? I think the answer is simple: we don’t trust words that describe God when we have never really experienced them.
I have sobbed in fear and trembling to the Lord when I was asked to do something because I feared that if I made the “wrong” decisions I would make God mad, or things wouldn’t work out the way they were meant to, or I would lead someone astray. After all, doesn’t the Bible say that we are under extra scrutiny from the Lord if we are asked to teach and lead others?
Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness.
But if we see that verse through the lense of fear what have we accomplished? Greater faith? Deeper knowledge? No. Instead we question our right to teach. We question our calling to teach. Our fear throws us into a chaotic blend of presumption, shame, and judgement. There’s nothing of God in those things!
Being judged with greater strictness is to acknowledge God’s real sovereignty, and His ability to teach and correct us with authority and strength. But because we don’t trust the words omniscient, omnipresent, omnipotent, we put all the emphasis on ourselves. It’s just so much easier to take the shame than to humbly believe God really is all powerful, all knowing, and everywhere at once.
It’s hard to believe those unseen realities of God. It’s hard to trust it because we don’t let ourselves experience it. We live in a world where we don’t have to experience it in order to have success, happiness, or confidence. We work hard, we get an education, we marry a wonderful person, we have beautiful children, and on and on and on. We’ve been taught to be independant, to think for ourselves, to make our own destiny through hard work and perseverance. We question everything and then we don’t know how to marry that perspective with the truth of God.
What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? 2 You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. 3 You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.
Isn’t it possible to ponder and consider the works and wisdom of God and still think for ourselves? Of course it is, but only if it is seeking after God’s heart and not our own. We must accept a dependence on God that we don’t naturally want to have. It’s too contrary to our desire to be self-sufficient, to be selfish, to do what we want.
4 You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.
Harsh words for a harsh truth. Going our own way makes us enemies with God. The good news is that God wants more for us than that. He doesn’t want us to be His enemies. He died for us that we could be His children, not His destruction!
5 Or do you suppose it is to no purpose that the Scripture says, “He yearns jealously over the spirit that he has made to dwell in us”? 6 But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” 7 Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.
When we submit to God’s will and teaching in our lives, and when we choose to believe and trust the truth about God’s omniscience, omnipotence, and omnipresent power we can actually start to learn and trust more deeply in those bigger truths. Just because our human nature tries to tear us away from such things, and pushes us to make our own way in the world, doesn’t mean that we have to submit to those things. We can choose instead to submit to God and walk in the joy and peace of God’s sovereignty and not our own way.
Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. 9 Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. 10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.
In other words: REPENT! Turn to God and trust Him to lead you. Then, when you are faced with difficult decisions and you don’t want to screw it up, you can trust in a truly all powerful, all knowing, all loving God, who longs to give you peace and joy and faith even in the midst of difficulty.
We can trust God. And we can trust the truth of who He is. His plans cannot be thwarted by us. When we humble ourselves and receive His leadership in our lives we know that He will use whatever we lovingly work to do for Him.
28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. 29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30 And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.
We have every reason to trust God and to trust His leadership and power in our own lives. God hasn’t left His glory and desires for us to be unraveled like a puzzle. He spells it out for us so that we can trust Him.
31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? 33 Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. 34 Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.
No need to worry, no need to fear. God’s got this figured out. All we need to do is trust and obey. We can’t screw it up if we’re doing that!