The Twin Pillars of Mercy and Sovereignty

Good morning. It is Fri . . . I mean Wednesday, March 11, 2015. 26 days until Opening Day. And we go to Glen Rose tomorrow!

Today’s word of the day is jeunesse dorée. Obviously French, this phrase means, “Originally: the group of fashionable counter-revolutionaries formed in France after the fall of Robespierre. Later more generally: young people of wealth, privilege, or fashion.”

Today is No Smoking Day. But I do that every day. I wouldn’t want to be a smoker, these days. In some ways, I think that people who smoke are getting the raw end of the deal, actually. I hear that, in some states, you can’t even smoke in bars! I mean, c’mon! What are bars for, even?? As Eddie Izzard said, “Soon, no talking and no drinking!”

I’m struggling just a bit, this morning, with what I hope is only a mild case of indigestion. I had Little Caesar’s pizza last night for dinner, and, for some reason, had some pretty severe gas during the night. I didn’t sleep well. But I’m drinking some peppermint tea, this morning, instead of my usual coffee. I don’t feel nauseated, really, so I’m choosing to believe that it is not related to what Christi had. We’ll see how that goes. Either way, we’re going to Glen Rose tomorrow. If I’m going to be sick, I’d rather be sick sitting on the front porch, or in the hot tub of our favorite cabin. But I’m not going to be sick.

Christi does continue to feel better, but is still experiencing some pretty bad headaches. I noticed that she got up a couple times, during the night, to take some Advil.

Not much else, really, so on to the devotional. The format of that part of the morning may be changing soon. I’m not sure yet. The book on prayer that I am reading, written by Tim Keller, is having a drastic impact on what I am doing. I’m going to have to give it some serious thought, though.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL

Be not far from me, for trouble is near, and there is none to help.
Many bulls encompass me; strong bulls of Bashan surround me;
they open wide their mouths at me, like a ravening and roaring lion.
I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint; my heart is like wax; it is melted within my breast;
my strength is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue sticks to my jaws; you lay me in the dust of death.
For dogs encompass me; a company of evildoers encircles me; they have pierced my hands and feet—
I can count all my bones— they stare and gloat over me;
they divide my garments among them, and for my clothing they cast lots.
But you, O LORD, do not be far off! O you my help, come quickly to my aid!
Deliver my soul from the sword, my precious life from the power of the dog!
Save me from the mouth of the lion! You have rescued me from the horns of the wild oxen!
I will tell of your name to my brothers; in the midst of the congregation I will praise you:
You who fear the LORD, praise him! All you offspring of Jacob, glorify him, and stand in awe of him, all you offspring of Israel!
For he has not despised or abhorred the affliction of the afflicted, and he has not hidden his face from him, but has heard, when he cried to him.
From you comes my praise in the great congregation; my vows I will perform before those who fear him.
The afflicted shall eat and be satisfied; those who seek him shall praise the LORD! May your hearts live forever!
All the ends of the earth shall remember and turn to the LORD, and all the families of the nations shall worship before you.
For kingship belongs to the LORD, and he rules over the nations.
All the prosperous of the earth eat and worship; before him shall bow all who go down to the dust, even the one who could not keep himself alive.
Posterity shall serve him; it shall be told of the Lord to the coming generation;
they shall come and proclaim his righteousness to a people yet unborn, that he has done it.

Psalm 22:11-31

Even though David speaks about himself, he foreshadows the suffering of Christ on the cross.

You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.
Isaiah 26:3

(From Solid Joys)

Today’s reading is “Two Infinitely Strong and Tender Truths.”

. . . declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done, saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose,’ . . .
Isaiah 46:10

The word “sovereignty” does not occur in the Bible, just as the word “trinity” does not. Yet we use it (sovereignty) quite a bit to refer the truth that “God is in ultimate control of the world from the largest international intrigue to the smallest bird-fall in the forest.”

In the Isaiah passage quoted above, (actually beginning with the last phrase of verse 9), the Bible puts it like this: “I am God and there is no other. . . . My counsel shall stand and I will accomplish all my purpose.” In other places, we see the Bible say: . . . he does according to his will among the host of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth; and none can stay his hand or say to him, “What have you done?” (Daniel 4:35) But he is unchangeable, and who can turn him back? What he desires, that he does. For he will complete what he appoints for me, and many such things are in his mind. (Job 23:13-14) And one of my favorites, Our God is in the heavens; he does all that he pleases. (Psalm 115:3)

Verses like this do not frighten us. In fact, we get great comfort from them, because we believe that it is “God’s great desire is to show mercy and kindness to those who trust him (Ephesians 2:7; Psalm 37:3–7; Proverbs 29:25).” And his sovereignty means that his plans for us cannot be thwarted.

Nothing that happens to those of us :who love God and are called according to his purpose” falls outside of the realm of what is “for our deepest and highest good” (Psalm 84:11).

“Therefore, the mercy and the sovereignty of God are the twin pillars of my life. They are the hope of my future, the energy of my service, the center of my theology, the bond of my marriage, the best medicine in all my sickness, the remedy of all my discouragements. And when I come to die (whether sooner or later), these two truths will stand by my bed and with infinitely strong and infinitely tender hands lift me up to God.”

Father, I thank you that these truths give me such great joy and comfort. I am encouraged by the many verses that proclaim the truth that you are in control of all things, and yet, you desire to give only good to us. These “twin pillars” of faith have gotten me through some hard times. I pray that others will be able to gain the same kind of comfort and encouragement from them. I pray that, for those who are frightened by the thought of an all-powerful God, they might look through the eyes of faith and see, as well, a God who cares for us and takes great delight in doing good for us! Your grace and mercy are truly amazing, Father!

I pray for this day. I pray for our travel to and from work, that it will be safe. I pray for the work day ahead, that we will accomplish everything that we need to accomplish, and that we will, in doing so, bring glory to you and your name. Help us to share your kingdom with those around us. I pray for Stephanie, that she will know your great love today. Grab her attention and show her your grace. Thank you that Christi is feeling better, and I pray that my momentary discomfort is just that, and that I will also feel better as the day progresses. I pray for our upcoming weekend, that it will be peaceful and relaxing.

I pray for our brother, Brandon, who is in the hospital recovering from gall bladder surgery. May your hand of healing be upon him.

I pray that you, too, take great comfort in the “twin pillars” of God’s sovereignty and mercy. He is in control of all things, but he delights in doing good for us!

Psalm115_3

Grace and peace, friends.

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