The Lord Reigns Eternally

On February 6, 1952 Queen Elizabeth II began her reign as queen of England. She was coronated later that year on June 2. She is the longest reigning monarch in the history of England. The ninety-four-year-old queen has reigned for over two-thirds of her life. It is quite an accomplishment, but it pales in comparison to the reign of Almighty God.

The psalmist tells us “Your throne is established from the beginning; you are from eternity” (Psalm 93:2, CSB). In other words, the Sovereign Lord has always been king. His throne is emblematic of His rule. It dates back to the beginning. Actually, it is before the beginning even began. And the Lord continues to reign today. He has not wandered off or taken a sabbatical. He is not distant and distracted. He has not abandoned His rule or His responsibilities. He reigns. He has since the beginning. He does today. And He always will.

One day Jesus will return. When He does, He will gather up those that are His and He will visibly and demonstratively reign forever with them. The rule that began long ago in eternity past reaches far ahead into eternity future.

You and I are invited into this eternal kingdom. Jesus made it possible for us to be part of it. In Him, we have both access and security, comfort and confidence. Amid all the uncertainty of life, remember this unshakeable truth. The Lord still reigns. He always has. He always will. So, there is no need to allow the headlines of the day overwhelm you. You and your troubles do not fall outside of His jurisdiction. Your sin and struggles are not beyond His reach or His help. Jesus has conquered them all. Rest in the assurance that comes from knowing the Lord is still enthroned. He’s not just a past-tense king. He’s not just a future-tense king. He’s a present-tense king. He reigns eternally.

His Sustaining Hand

They just don’t make ‘em like they used to. At some point, everyone over a certain age has muttered this sentence as they stand over a broken-down appliance or automobile. A few years ago, my wife and I were shopping to replace our washing machine and dryer. We told the salesperson that our previous machines had lasted eighteen and twenty years respectively. He looked at us, looked around at his showroom, and said, “Don’t expect these to last like your others did. They aren’t made like that any longer. These will last about five years.”

My first thought was “you must be new at this.” My second was an appreciation for the young man’s honesty. He knew to be true what I thought to be true. They just don’t make ‘em like they used to.
The psalmist writes “The world is firmly established; it cannot be shaken.” (Psalm 93:1, CSB). He suggests to us that the world on which we live is established by the Sovereign Lord. Thus, it is stable and sustainable. It shall never be moved. The world and everything on it bears testimony to the creative power of God. Paul writes, “ since what can be known about God is evident among them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, that is, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen since the creation of the world, being understood through what he has made. As a result, people are without excuse” (Romans 1:19-20, CSB).

The world and everything in it (the whole cosmos as a matter of fact) bears testimony to the creative power of God. It’s endurance is a statement on his power and ability. This world will not be shaken until the Lord comes and makes all things new. 

The Scriptures tell us that after the return of Jesus, this world that is broken and tainted by sin will be renewed and recreated. The Lord says, “For I will create new heavens and a new earth” (Isaiah 65:17 (CSB). The apostle John caught a glimpse of this and shares it with us. He writes, “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more” (Revelation 21:1, CSB).

So, remember that the Sovereign Lord sustains this world. It will remain until He determines otherwise. And, when that day comes, He will make all things new. That’s the beauty of the reign of God. He shows His power in the work of His creation. He upholds it all by His power. The Lord is a God of power and stability. That which He holds cannot be shaken or undone. What an encouragement to you and me. In the craziness of life, God holds fast. In the most tumultuous of times, He and His cannot be shaken. And in the times when we are reminded of the brokenness of this world and of our own lives…those times when sin rears its ugly head and reminds us it’s tainted so much, we rejoice for we know that Jesus has overcome and will make all things new.

Robed in Majesty and Strength

It’s not uncommon to go into a store today and see the majority of people wearing gym clothes and yoga pants. It wasn’t that long ago that the same store would have been filled with people in suits and dresses. Business casual is a thing. A few years ago, it was dress-down Friday. Before that, traditional business attire. Times change, as do the clothes we wear. God, however, is unchanging. And while our wardrobes have evolved over time, the Lord continues to wear the garments befitting his sovereign reign.

In the opening verses of Psalm 93, the psalmist declares “the Lord reigns.” He is the sovereign ruler over all things and all people. In addition to this declaration, the psalmist also tells us that “ He is robed in majesty; the Lord is robed, enveloped in strength” (Psalm 93:1, CSB). Every aspect of who God is demands our worship and praise. He is wrapped in majesty and glory. He is worthy of our complete adoration.

David expresses such when he declares, “May you be blessed, Lord God of our father Israel, from eternity to eternity. Yours, Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the splendor and the majesty, for everything in the heavens and on earth belongs to you. Yours, Lord, is the kingdom, and you are exalted as head over all. Riches and honor come from you, and you are the ruler of everything. Power and might are in your hand, and it is in your hand to make great and to give strength to all. Now therefore, our God, we give you thanks and praise your glorious name” (1 Chronicles 29:10-13 (CSB).

There is no one quite like the Lord. The prophet Jeremiah suggests this when he writes, “Lord, there is no one like you. You are great; your name is great in power” (Jeremiah 10:6, CSB).

This unique, unrivaled, sovereign Lord is not only robed in majesty, but He is also robed in strength. The language suggests that He is able and ready to get to work. It was the language used to describe a soldier preparing for battle or a worker preparing to work. He often say “roll up your sleeves and get to work.” It’s a phrase that calls one to action. Enough talking. Enough theory. Go do it.

God is the all-knowing, all-powerful creator and sustainer of all that is. He is robed in the majesty befitting His reign. Yet, He rolls us His sleeves and gets to work. He is able to carry out His plan and purpose in our lives and in this world.

So, don’t be afraid or overwhelmed by all that is happening around you. Remember the Lord who reigns. He has not forgotten you nor is He unable or unwilling to engage on your behalf. He created us. He sent Jesus to come to redeem us by his death and resurrection. He took sin, suffering, and death head on at the cross and the empty tomb. We need not fear. Our God reigns, and He is robed in majesty and strength.

Our Sovereign Lord

Amid all the chaos of life, it’s easy for us to wonder about the presence of the Lord. We see all the brokenness and corruption and wonder where is God in the midst of all this mess? In the opening verses of Psalm 93, the psalmist reminds us that God is where He has always been. He is reigning on high as our sovereign Lord. He writes, “The Lord reigns! He is robed in majesty; the Lord is robed, enveloped in strength. The world is firmly established; it cannot be shaken. Your throne has been established from the beginning; you are from eternity” Psalm 93:1-2 (CSB).

The psalmist begins with a simple declaration – “The Lord reigns.” When we think about God reigning and being sovereign, we need to remember the He has the characteristics and the traits necessary to reign in this way. We see glimpses of these throughout the Scripture. For instance, we know God is owns and is over all things (Deuteronomy 10:14; Psalm 47:7). He knows all things (omniscient). He is wise. This wisdom suggests to us that not only does God know how to apply His knowledge, but He does so in a way that is consistent with His goodness and character. He is everywhere (omnipresent). His omnipresence includes both time and space. Wherever we might go, God is already there (Psalm 139:7-8). He is all-powerful (omnipotent). Job reminds us that there is nothing God cannot do. He will accomplish His purposes and plan (Job 42:2).

When we consider all of this, there is no reason for us to be afraid. God is over everything and anything we might encounter. He knows what’s best for us and how to apply that knowledge in our lives. He is everywhere we will ever be, including the future. He is wise enough to plan well and powerful enough to carry out that plan. The uncertain in life is certain to Him. The insurmountable is overcome by Him. He puts the overwhelming into perspective. So, fear not. Fret not. The Lord reigns. He rules. He is over all. And this all-knowing, all-powerful sovereign God is our Heavenly Father who brings us near in Jesus and unfolds His purpose in our lives. He is not absent. He has not abdicated. Amid all the chaos of life, God is where He has always been…reigning over all things and all people. 

You Are Not Alone

Do not be afraid of anyone, for I will be with you to rescue you. This is the LORD’s declaration. Jeremiah 1:8 (CSB)

It’s easy to be afraid. We all can identify with those childhood fears. We’ve been afraid of the dark, afraid of the storm, afraid of the monsters lurking in the shadows. As we age, our fears simply mature. Our fear of the dark becomes a fear of the unknown. Our fear of the storm becomes a fear of the uncontrollable. Our dreaded monsters no longer lurk in the shadows. They now dwell in the anxieties of our hearts and mind. And, at the center of all of these is the big fear…the grand phobia if you will. We are afraid of facing these things alone. 

Jeremiah had a difficult task. His message would be unpopular. His ministry would be opposed. He would be ridiculed and rejected. Yet, God tells him not to be afraid. Can you imagine? You’ll be unpopular, but don’t fear. You’ll be opposed, but don’t be afraid. You’ll be rejected and ridiculed, but fear not. How is this even possible?

The call to fear not is backed by the promise of God’s presence. God assures Jeremiah that He will be with him. Jeremiah will not be alone. God will be with him in the dark. He will be with him in the storms. He will stare down the monsters with the Lord at his side. Difficulty will come. Challenges will rise. But, God will be there with him at every turn. 

The promise of God’s presence is not reserved for His prophets. It’s available to each of His children. He is with us in the unknown. We are not alone when circumstances swell beyond our control. He is present as we face down our anxieties. We are not alone. He is with us (Matthew 28:20). He is our rescue. His rod and His staff comfort and guide us (Psalm 23:4). And, in Him…by Him…with Him, we can overcome all the fears in life. 

So, stop being afraid. Stop letting fear rob your peace and crush your spirit. Yes, challenges are real. Yes, days are difficult. But we are not alone. God is with us. He is a refuge and our rescue. So, stand fast. Be strong. Serve well. Do not be afraid. Our Creator, Savior, and Lord is with us. He will rescue us. 

You Were Born for This

“I chose you before I formed you in the womb; I set you apart before you were born. I appointed you a prophet to the nations.” (Jeremiah 1:5, CSB)

A few years ago, there was a television show titled “Dirty Jobs.” Each episode, the host of the program would come along beside people who worked difficult, dirty jobs. It seemed like every week he’d find himself in muck, mire, or manure of some kind. Any time I’d watch it, I’d be thankful I didn’t have to earn a living doing those tough jobs.

The prophet Jeremiah had a tough job of his own. He was going to take a message from  God to a people who didn’t want to hear it. He was going to be a prophet. And, as you might expect in the face of that enormous task, he had some reservations. But before he could even mutter them aloud, God filled his heart with a simple assurance. Long before you were born, I made you for this. Long before this moment, I set you apart for this. Long before you were born, I appointed you to do this.

What an encouragement to a young, hesitant prophet. God’s words reminded Jeremiah that he had a purpose. And, God had made him for just that purpose. The Lord had formed him with all that he would do in mind. He wasn’t mismatched or misplaced. As long as Jeremiah was where the Lord wanted him, he was in the perfect place to do what he had beem prepared to do.

That same encouragement is ours as well. We may not be prophets. We may be nurses or teachers or moms just trying to make it through the day with a houseful of toddlers. We may be factory workers or students or retirees. We may be in tough places carrying on difficult ministry. Whatever we’re doing, wherever we’re doing it, as long as we are surrendered to the Lord and doing what He’s called us to do for His glory, we are doing what he’s prepared us to do.

As you engage in your own tough job today, know that you are not ill-quipped. You are not out of place. God is working through you in His own way to accomplish His purpose and plan. Your life may not look like someone else’s. That’s okay. God prepared you for and placed you in your context. He placed them in theirs. Don’t get caught up looking around. Stay focused. Stay grounded. Keep doing what He’s appointed you to do. Your context may be tough, but you were born for it. You can do it because God formed you long ago with it in mind. He’s prepared you your entire life for this day. Live it confidently in Him.

No Need to Fear

Transitions are hard. I can imagine the fear and trepidation that filled the heart of Joshua as he prepared to take over for Moses as the leader of Israel. Moses was the only leader this people had known. He had led their ancestors out of Egypt. He had led their parents to the promised land. He had led them through the wilderness. And now he was passing that mantle of leadership to Joshua.

In addition to becoming a new leader, Joshua also had been given a new task. He was to lead this generation of people into the promised land. These things were certainly enough to make the most stout heart beat a little faster.

As Moses exits the stage, he gives Joshua some final instructions. In Deuteronomy 31, he tells him to be strong and courageous (Deuteronomy 31:6). We know Joshua will repeat this command several times as he leads the people (Joshua 1). What struck me anew today as I read these words was why Joshua need not fear. God would go with him. As a matter of fact, Moses states that fact twice to make sure Joshua grasps it in his head and his heart (Deuteronomy 31:6, 8).

Fast forward with me to a conversation Jesus has with his disciples after the resurrection. In Matthew 28:18-20, Jesus gives the disciples (and us) what we call the Great Commission. It’s the call to go and make disciples of all people. And, at the end of that call, there is a promise – “I am with you always until the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20).

In that sentence is the same promise that was made to Joshua. It’s a promise of the presence and the power of God as we walk with Him. The promise made to Joshua…the promise made to the disciples…is the same promise made to us. We need not fear as we walk with the Lord. We need not fear the new directions and the new challenges and all the transitions that come with life. We have no need to be anxious as we walk into the unknown. Why? Because we are not alone. The Lord is with us. His rod and His staff comfort us (Psalm 23:4). He will not forsake us (Hebrews 13:5). 

So, fear not. Be strong and courageous. Do what God has called you to do. Seek first His kingdom (Matthew 6:33). Go and make disciples. Live in hope and walk in complete obedience to him. You have nothing to fear for you are not alone.

After God’s Own Heart

When studying the kings of Israel, we move from Saul to David. Saul was a man who looked every bit the king on the outside. He was tall and handsome. He was a leading man from central casting. David, on the other hand, probably looked more like an every-man character actor. The biggest difference in the two, however, was not their external appearance. It was their hearts. Saul struggled throughout his entire reign to honor God. He would often do what he thought was right at the expense of what was right. It finally reached a point where the Lord “regretted that he had made Saul king over Israel” (1 Samuel 15:35, ESV).  David was not Saul. He didn’t look the part. But, he was the man God chose to reign because he was a man after God’s own heart (1 Samuel 13:14).

What does it mean to be a person after God’s heart? It can’t mean perfection, because we know that David was far from perfect. But, while David was flawed in a number of ways, his heart sought God’s heart. We see this heart in the psalms where he pours out his prayers of repentance (Psalm 32; 51). So again, the question remains. What does it mean to be a person after God’s own heart? At its most basic, to be a person after God’s heart is to want the things God wants. It is to have our desires match His desires, our actions fall in line with His commands, our hearts to reflect His heart.

When Jesus taught His disciples to pray, He tells them to pray that God’s will “be done on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10, CSB). If we understand prayer to be as much if not more as God shaping our will and desires to Him as anything else, we see then that Jesus is calling us to center our attention on God’s will unfolding here in this sin-broken world as it does in heaven. Jesus modeled this for us in the garden the night before His death when He prayed, “not my will, but yours” (Luke 22:42).

As believers, we should want what God wants. Our priorities should grow and evolve into His priorities. Our choices should reflect and honor His purposes. We want to be singularly focused on Him and His ways. We’re not pushed and pulled by the winds of doubt and the waves of immaturity (Ephesians 4:14; James 1:6-8).

How would our lives be different if we were truly people after God’s own heart? What would our homes look like? Our workplaces? Our neighborhoods? Our churches? How would realigned priorities impact our use of time and resources? Perhaps now, in the midst of this time when quiet and stillness has been forced upon us, we can take advantage of the opportunity to grow and ask the Lord to help our hearts seek His…to truly adjust and realign our lives. May now, in a season when everything is called into question, may we clearly see and live for that which really matters.

The Fortress

You may have heard the name Martin Luther. You probably haven’t heard the name Knight George. At the onset of the Reformation, Luther was given the opportunity to recant his teachings. He refused. Subsequently, Luther was excommunicated by the pope and had a price put on his head. For his protection, he was abducted by powerful friends and hidden away in a castle in Wartburg, Germany. He stayed there almost a year, and while he did he was known by the alias Knight George.

A few years later, Luther would write his famous hymn “A Mighty Fortress is Our God.” I can’t help but wonder how those months hidden in the safety of the Wartburg Castle helped influence that great hymn of the faith. Did images of its walls and gates go through his mind as he penned it? Did the security within those walls flood his heart as he wrote about the security one finds in God? I would think it must have.

We may never know the extent to which his stay there shaped his thought. But, we do know the real basis for that great hymn of the faith. It was a song written hundreds and hundreds of years before. The foundation for Luther’s great hymn of comfort was Psalm 46.

The opening words of that psalm proclaim:  

God is our refuge and strength, a helper who is always found in times of trouble. Therefore we will not be afraid, though the earth trembles and the mountains topple into the depths of the seas, though its water roars and foams and the mountains quake with its turmoil.

Psalm 46:1-3, CSB

What a remarkable assurance we find in the pages of Scripture. The psalmist reminds us that God is our security. He is our hiding place. He is the One who brings us through difficult times. Subsequently, we do not need to be afraid. Regardless of all the turmoil and upheaval of life, God is steadfast and unchanging. The “Lord of Armies is with us. The God of Jacob is our stronghold” (Psalm 46:7, CSB).  

In these uncertain times, we all are dealing with anxiety and stress. We’re worried about sickness. We’re worried about finances. We’re worried about jobs and loved ones and life in general. What does the future hold? What will things look like tomorrow? Or even next week or next month? I don’t have answers to any of those questions. But, like Luther almost 500 years ago, and the psalmists a couple of thousand years before that, I do know where to find peace and comfort. It’s in God. Our strength…our security…our help is found in Jesus Christ. May we look to Him in these days. May we embrace Him by faith and live confidently in His sovereign hands. Because of Him, we need not be afraid. He is our stronghold. He is with us. And, He must win the battle.

The Real Jesus

Identity theft is a common occurrence in today’s world. Every day we read of someone who has had their identity stolen and it impacted their lives disastrous ways. They lost time and money and any number of other things trying to restore who they are in the eyes of everyone else. In the late first century, there were those who were trying to steal the identity of Jesus. These identity thieves weren’t trying to hijack his bank accounts or his personal records. Instead, they were denying who He was and robbing the joy from those that followed Him.

The apostle John writes a short letter to combat this identity theft. And, in the opening few verses of that letter he reminds us that Jesus was real. He writes:

What was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have observed and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life— that life was revealed, and we have seen it and we testify and declare to you the eternal life that was with the Father and was revealed to us— what we have seen and heard we also declare to you, so that you may also have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. We are writing these things so that our joy may be complete.

1 John 1:1-4, CSB

In the opening verse of the gospel of John, the apostle also uses that word beginning to help affirm the deity of Jesus. This subtle connection reinforces that truth for us. Jesus is God. He is divine.

John not only suggests Jesus is divine. He also affirms His humanity. Many of the false teachers John is combating may have been denying the humanity of Jesus. The apostle is quick to point out that he had spent time with Jesus. He had talked with him and touched him and seen him at work. He indeed was real. He was flesh and blood. He was human.

A divine Jesus becoming flesh is what we know as the incarnation. And, the fact that Jesus is human and divine has serious implications for our salvation. Only a sinless sacrifice could atone for our sins. The divinity of Jesus affirms His sinlessness. Only a real death could atone for our sins. The humanity of Jesus affirms that His death was real. Full payment was made for our sin…all of our sin…our sin past, present, and future.

And, it is this Jesus who came, lived, died, and rose again for us that offers us complete forgiveness and restoration. It is in Him we find fellowship with God and with other believers. It is in Him that we find joy. 

Don’t let a misunderstanding of Jesus rob your fellowship or your joy. Don’t let a thief steal the glory of salvation from your life. Trust fully in the real Jesus. Rest in Him. He and He alone is sufficient.