God is in Control (especially of the American Government)

Today's passages look rather, well, random.  In family devos, we were finishing up Psalm 63.  (I am very fond of this psalm partly because I really like the tune Te Deum and think it fits well.)  For myself, I read Job 41 in English.  (While I was in DC I started Job... at the point that Elihu starts making his speeches, which is chapter 32.)  Then, not feeling like tackling Job in Hebrew (yikes!) I went for part of Psalm 63.  Then for Greek, I read John's part about the triumphal entry (John 12:12-19).  And then for my singing psalm (which sometimes happens and sometimes doesn't...) I was on 63, of course.  

Like I said, it all seemed rather scrambly.  While I was reading Greek, I thought about how good it is for me to read stuff in Greek, because it ensures that I am actually thinking about the words somewhat.  (See how well that works?  I was thinking about something else while doing it...)  And then I was sort of left glaring at myself, and thinking about what I had already read, in English and in Hebrew, because that's important to remember too.  With English, I can read it and not give it another thought.  With Hebrew, I can be soooo concentrated on trying to find words that I know and track it somewhat that I can entirely miss the big picture.  Greek, with my English Bible nearby to doublecheck things, is my happy medium at the moment.  But all that can turn into an excuse for inattention and laziness.

So I thought about what I was reading -- Jesus going into Jerusalem.  And that seemed to tie into a discussion that we had at breakfast after reading Psalm 63, about America and our government.  The government is picking up all kinds of control that it is not supposed to have, and that can be scary.  I'd love to see the church flourish, and be refined, and... I'm not all that eager to be persecuted, myself.  I want God's glory, but I like my life the way it is.  

When the New Testament was written, the Romans were the masters of the world.  They weren't the nicest masters you could imagine, either.  The Jews were so excited when Jesus came riding into Jerusalem, that day.  I would have been, too.  "Hey!  It's our king!  It's the messiah, the one God promised!  He's going to set us free and life will be good and..."

It didn't happen.

At least, it sure didn't happen the way they planned it.  Instead, this "messiah", this "savior", went and got himself killed.  I can tell you what -- I have never had political dreams that got that badly smashed.  I've worked campaigns and enjoyed it, but I don't have a dream candidate.  My view on government is pretty sadly (but accurately) described by the despair.com picture...

In the midst of my being-on-the-road-to-hyperventilation about our government comes the reminder that God is in control.  Yes, I know that.  I know that.  I know it!  

Since I know it so well, God saw fit to remind me in Job.  I read about Leviathan -- which no one even knows what it is.  But it's obviously big and strong and undefeatable.  Kinda like... well... the government.  

But although Job can't control Leviathan, God obviously can.


God's in control.

I know.

Psalm 63 told me so, too.  You can listen to the tune here, although it sounds much better with people singing it (especially at Titus's, I may be biased).  It starts off slow and confident and moves into confident and triumphant.

Oh God, You are my God, and early will I seek for You
My soul is athirst for You
My flesh cries out for You, from out a dry and thirsty land
A land where no water is.

For thus to behold You in splendid strength
I gazed after You in the holy place
Since Your grace is much more than life
My lips will give praise to You!

I'll bless You while I live, and I will ever lift my hands
To praise and confess Your name
My soul will be made full as with all choice and hearty meats
I'll praise You with joyful lips.

I think of You thus as I lie in bed
And bring You to mind in the hours of night
Since You ever have been my help
Your wings are my shield and joy.

My soul clings fast to You, Your right hand holds me safely up
When men would destroy my life
To depths of earth of earthy they go, they are delivered to the sword
To jackals become a prey

The king will rejoice and be glad in God
And they boast aloud who have sworn in Him
But the mouth will be made to stop
Of those who declare a lie.

Seriously, learn and sing this song.  Pray that our leaders will "rejoice and be glad in God".  And whatever happens -- whether the government takes over everything, whether they do all come to know and obey God -- we don't have reason for fear.  Bulletproof by Chuck Holton is a very good book dealing with why Christians should not fear anything, and what that looks like.  

John's story of the triumphal entry ends with the Pharisees saying to one another, "Look, the world has gone after Him!"  

Little did they know.  

That day, it was Jerusalem.  But Jerusalem would be back with them soon enough, shouting to crucify this "messiah" who had let down their hopes.  It was afterwards -- AFTER they killed Him -- that the whole world would, in fact, go after Him.  

Two passages to keep in mind, and, I'd recommend, memorize.  One to anchor yourself, and one to launch you.  

But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.

Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you. Only let us hold true to what we have attained.

Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us. For many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, walk as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things. But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.  [Philippians 3:7-21]

Our citizenship is in HEAVEN.

In light of that truth, and the uncertainty of the world which we live in, we do have a certain mission.

Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.  [Matthew 28:19-20]

The whole world is called to go after Him, no matter what is going on.  If we fear, we are wasting energy which is to be given to that mission.  

Where is your focus?  This world is a "dry and thirsty land" (the Newsboys say, "Maybe this world is a barren place/ for a soul prone to get lost", and it is) but our heart's cry is to be, 

For thus to behold You in splendid strength
I gazed after You in the holy place
Since Your grace is much more than life
My lips will give praise to You!

For heaven still hounds from the smallest sounds/ to the cries of the storm-tossed... [Newsboys]

And very probably, heaven especially hounds IN the cries of the storm-tossed.

God is in control.


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