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God created all things to the praise of His glory. #glorytoGod

 

Romans 11:35-36 “‘Or who has given a gift to him that he might be repaid?’ For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.”

 

Again Paul exhorts us by quoting from the Old Testament, in this case Job 41:11 where God says to Job, “Who has given to me, that I should repay him? Whatever is under the whole heaven is mine.” In short, we cannot hold God in our debt since we can give nothing to Him that is not already His. He created all things and everything belongs to Him. Luke wrote in Acts 17:25, “Nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything.” It is extremely important that we have a correct perspective on these things so that we properly praise Him and extol His name with glory and honor. Everything, including all of mankind, was created by God through His power and will, and He did so in order that all things would point to Him. What should be our response to His work? Our response should be adulation that is unfathomable, praise that is immeasurable, and gratitude that is incalculable.

 

Study/Meditation: What does all things are from God, through God, and to God mean? (Read Ephesians 1:11, Romans 9:16, and Proverbs 16:33.) What should your life look like in response to these truths?

 

*Father, there is nothing I can give You for what You have given me. Therefore I offer You the only thing You ask and that is my praise to Your glory and my love for You. Amen.

 

God is the God of past, present, and future; therefore He knows it all.

 

Romans 11:34 “For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor?”

 

Imagine Paul is forming two lines, one on his right and one on his left, and he is asking every person on the planet to decide if they belong in one of the lines. He says, “Okay, everyone who knows the mind of the Lord, everyone who knows exactly what God is thinking and why, get into the line on my right.” He would expect, and rightly so, that no one would move toward that line. Indeed, none of us knows what is in God’s mind. Then Paul says, “Now everyone who would like to give God some advice step into the line on my left.” Again, Paul would expect that line to be empty, as well, but surprisingly many, many people would step into it. We all at one time or another think that we have a better plan and a better way for things to work out than God seemingly does, and yet none of us knows what God knows. Our Lord knows the beginning from the end. We only know the minutes we experience in the now or the things we read about or experienced in the past. This is a God we can not only praise in His inexhaustible wisdom and knowledge of past, present and future, but one in whom we can trust because of these things. Our God is a God who is greatly to be praised, mighty to save, and in whom we can wholly trust.

 

Study/Meditation: Why is it so very comforting to know that God knows everything—past, present, and future?

 

*Father, You are wise and wonderful. I love You and I trust You. Please forgive me for the moments when I question Your goodness and wisdom. Amen.

Why do we worship God?

 

Romans 11:33 “Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!”

 

Why do we worship God? On what premise do we base our absolute reverence, complete devotion, and whole-hearted trembling before the Lord of the Universe? Certainly the basis for worship of this magnitude comes not when we have all of the answers, nor does it come when someone simply makes much of us. Of course some measure of adoration, even a large measure, would be the result of fully understanding something or in receiving great love. However, complete worship and reverent praise can only come when the beauty and majesty of something is beyond our understanding. We stand back in awe when we are in the presence of something so magnificent and amazing that it defies all human logic and comprehension. God not only does that, but his riches and wisdom and knowledge are wrapped up in His immeasurable love for us. When Paul contemplates the glory of what he understands of God and then also the vastness of what he doesn’t understand, he can do nothing less than praise the Lord and worship Him as almighty and glorious. Sometimes we have a tendency to bring God down to a place of human understanding, when in fact the truest place where His glory exists is far beyond what we can comprehend. That’s why we worship Him.

 

Study/Meditation: Read Deuteronomy 29:29. How is Moses expressing the same thoughts as Paul does in Romans 11:33? What should your response be to such a revelation?

 

*Father, there are never words enough to express my adoration and praise of You. You are mighty and You are my Lord. Amen.

 

Many are the instruments in God’s symphony of mercy.

 

Romans 11:32 “For God has consigned all to disobedience, that he may have mercy on all.”

 

Before moving into the prevailing and magnificent truth of this verse, a moment of attention must be paid to the word “all” as it is used, both here and in other places in God’s Word. In the reading of any work, careful attention must be paid to context—literary context and historical context. If we were to take Romans 11:32 alone, it may seem as if the Universalist view that all people will be saved is advocated by the Apostle Paul. However, when read in context, both here and in Paul’s other writings, we know that the “all” Paul is referring to is the remnant of believers from the Jews and Gentiles. Once read in context, the verse might read something like, “For God has consigned all of His children to disobedience, that he may have mercy on all of them.” The great truth of this verse is encompassed in the magnificence and glory of God’s sovereignty. Our sin does not surprise Him, nor does it cause Him to change His course of action to catch up to our bad decisions. On the contrary, our sin is just one more instrument in God’s amazing symphony that displays the wonder of His mercy. It is true that for those of us who have seen our sin and know the enormity of God’s forgiveness, knowledge of the enormity of God’s glory comes quickly thereafter. (Luke 7:47c)

 

Study/Meditation: Read Luke 7:36-50. What does Jesus teach us about the revelation we receive when we are forgiven of our sins?

 

*Father, thank You for bringing me into Your family, despite my many sins. You are majestic and glorious in all Your ways. I praise Your name! Amen.

 

God’s plan of salvation reveals His glory and mercy.

 

Romans 11:30-31 “Just as you were at one time disobedient to God but now have received mercy because of their disobedience, so they too have now been disobedient in order that by the mercy shown to you they also may now receive mercy.”

 

In these verses, Paul is peeling back the curtains a bit on God’s plan of salvation and revealing how His end relates to His means. He’s telling them that God’s intention was that the Gentiles, a people who for thousands of years denied Him while Israel worshipped Him as the one, true living God, would be brought into His family when Israel rejected the Messiah they had so long waited to receive. Israel’s rejection made God’s mercy in salvation available to everyone else. But God will not stop there. His very people who have rejected Jesus Christ as Messiah will one day also be brought back into God’s family by way of the same mercy shown to the Gentiles. God’s plan has always been to bestow mercy on sinners, just as Jesus said in Matthew 9:13, “For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.” God’s sovereign plan was always to show the world His glory and His mercy.

 

Study/Meditation: Read Ephesians 2:11-22. What does Paul write in this letter to the church in Ephesus that speaks of the same thing he writes of in Romans 11:30-31?

 

*Father, Your ways are so much higher and more perfect than any of the ways of mankind. I love You and I worship You, my King. Amen.

Laurel photoBy Laurel Strasshofer

Hide me in the shadow of Your wings from the wicked who despoil me, my deadly enemies who surround me. They have closed their unfeeling heart, with their mouth they speak proudly.” (Ps 17:8b-10)

If you are like me, when you are crying out to God to rescue you from your current circumstances, especially from the wounding of a brother or sister in Christ, you tend to shy away from praying such prayers as David did. Surely, such calls to God for safety, protection, vindication and rescue are only meant to be asked when those who don’t know Him are the source of our wounding or troubles! It would be wrong to ask Him for such deliverance from the hands of fellow believers, right?

I was pondering over this a short while ago – and feeling guilty for making the cry of the Psalmist my own prayer – when it occurred to me David’s own call to God for rescue from his “deadly enemies” had to do with his flight from Saul.  Saul – who once considered David his confident and friend.  Saul – appointed of God to be king of Israel. Saul – a God-follower. A God-follower who unwittingly fell into fear and pride and as a result became David’s accidental enemy.

…though I am God’s child, I can become an accidental enemy of those I lead…

This made me wonder, “Have I ever, through my own actions, become an accidental enemy of those I lead?”  How many times, when thinking I was doing right by my team, had I actually inadvertently “closed my heart” and been a source of wounding to them? This caused me serious introspection as I considered the consequences of unintended harsh leadership that can come from blinding pride.

It is sobering to know that though I am God’s child, I can become an accidental enemy of those I lead by:

  • Responding to people based on perceptions instead of reality (assuming instead of asking)
  • Expecting the worst of someone (starting with distrust instead of trust)
  • Speaking negatively (gossiping about or criticizing instead of speaking well of those we lead)
  • Behaving with indifference (being aloof; treating people like things [or a means to an end] instead of valued contributors with hopes, dreams, hurts and joys of their own)
  • Self-promoting (taking credit for the work of others instead of recognizing and elevating them)
  • Blaming (pointing fingers instead of accepting responsibility)
  • Minimizing efforts (demoralizing with words like, “How hard can that be?” or, “What does she do all day, anyhow?” This could also be done by frequently changing plans without consideration for the work your team has already invested in the process.)
  • Letting ego rule (responding out of fear someone might outshine or know more than us instead of ceding to his expertise and encouraging his growth)
  • Holding onto offenses (bringing up the offense or continuing to use it as an excuse for distrust long after the incident is past instead of offering restoration)

So, what can we do to try to avoid becoming the source of someone’s cry to God for rescue and relief?

Perhaps we could follow David’s cue. Because he was keenly aware of the deceitfulness of pride and that he may have his own blind spots, he regularly gave God permission to expose those things in him. It was not uncommon for him to make his prayer, “Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me and know my anxious thoughts; and see if there be any hurtful way in me, and lead me in the everlasting way.” (Ps 139: 23 & 24)

I am making this my prayer today, too.  May I lead with love. Always.