Tag Archives: Prayer

God is sovereign!

Genesis 15:12-21 – delivered at Shalom Church on 31 Dec 2019

These are the last few hours of 2019 and I was given 10min to speak.

I was wondering what would be a helpful exhortation to give in such a short time?

Yes, we should always think about Christ & how his love for us should “…compel or constrain us” in how we should live – 2 Cor 5:14

But today, I want us to be energised by thoughts about the absolute sovereignty of God.

Because when your eyes are opened to this truth, it will affect how you live in 2020 & beyond….

How you raise your children, manage your money, deal with conflict, spend your time & make decisions everyday.

Here in Gen 15, God gave Abraham a glimpse of the future.

God told Abraham that his descendants will not inherit Canaan immediately.

Instead, they will be in a foreign land for 400 years – v13.

Now, why is this the case?

V16 – Because “..the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet complete.”

God sovereignly decided to let the Amorites continue their wickedness in Canaan.

And, it is His prerogative whether to reveal His reasons for this to us.

But note this – God has also appointed a time when He will bring judgement to these Amorites.

And we are told that this appointed time is after 4 generations of Abraham’s descendants.

And you know what?

We saw history unfolding in exactly the manner that God had decreed & reviewed.

That is the history recorded for us from Genesis to Joshua in the old testament.

My dear friends, this is our sovereign God.

He decreed history.

He brought every event to come pass according to His will, for His purposes and for His glory.

Some of you may now be wondering.

If all that God decreed will come to pass, aren’t we all like puppets?

If all that God decreed will come to pass, why should we even bother to pray?

Wouldn’t God’s sovereign will & decrees come to pass regardless of whether we prayed?

I caution you against taking a fatalistic view on this matter.

The truth is that God is not dependent on our prayers to bring His will to come to pass.

And I thank God that this is the case.

Because I have a poor prayer life.

And if my future is dependent on whether I prayed, I am doomed!

And the beauty of the gospel of grace is that we are dependent on Christ and not our merits to get to heaven.

But let me put it to you this way – it is precisely because God is sovereign that we ought to seek Him in prayer.

Because prayer is not about pleading for our will to be done.

Prayer is about learning to ask for things in accordance to God’s will.

1 John 5:14 “…if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.”

Jesus taught us to pray “…Your kingdom come. Your will (not mine) be done on earth as it is in heaven.”

Prayer is about seeking God.

And when you have found Him, you will understand His will.

Let me illustrate this with an example. (Some of you may have heard it from me before, but I will say it again).

In 2 Cor 12, the apostle Paul told us that he had a thorn in his flesh.

And We are not told what it was, but we are told he prayed 3 times that this thorn will be removed from him.

Very often, we pray in the same manner don’t we?

We ask & sometimes we “expect” God to do exactly as we dictate in our prayers.

The fact is that God answered the Apostle Paul’s prayer.

But He did not answer it in the manner that Paul asked.

God did not remove his “thorn in his flesh”.

Instead, God changed his perspective of this ‘thorn in his flesh’.

God made the Apostle Paul realize that this thorn was placed there by His sovereign will.

And because God placed it there, He had full control of it.

And because God had full control of it, He will be glorified through how He helped Paul handle it.

And the Apostle Paul finally understood this after much wrestling in prayer – That’s what wrestling in prayer does to you!

He was then able to say ‘when I am weak, then I am strong’.

‘I will boast of my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.’

The Apostle Paul learned to align his desires to the will of God.

And he learnt to pray in accordance to God’s will.

And God’s power was made perfect in his weakness.

Now, as 2020 dawns upon us, let us remember that God had already decreed all that will come to pass.

The future will unfold itself day by day.

But you know what?

The bible has already given us a glimpse of what God had decreed will happen.

Jesus will come again to judge the world – Heb 9v28.

And He will bring His people to heaven.

He will come when you least expect it – 2 Pet 3v10.

The event will happen like “a thief in the night”.

The world will come to a sudden end – this will be worst than any disaster that has ever struck us!

And many people will regret because they are not ready for the judgment day.

They will be thrown into hell where there is eternal suffering.

Remember, whatever God revealed to Abraham in Gen 15 unfolded in exactly as it is was revealed.

Therefore, I have not doubt that the future for us will unfold in exactly the way God had already revealed.

If you are His child, you will find comfort because the bible says that “God works all things for our good” – Rom 8:28.

And God says to His people in Jer 31:3 “I have loved you with an everlasting love”.

And in Eph 1:4 “..He chose us before the foundation of the world..”

So, if this sovereign God who controls the future is for you, then who can stand against you?

What is there to fear?

What is there to worry about how the future will unfold?

Whether it is 2020, 2021 or beyond?

The fact that this Sovereign God is on your side should bring you the greatest comfort & assurance you ever need.

And the fact that you did nothing to deserve this would also keep you very humble when handling all the situations in your life.

And your response to everything in your life will based on whether it pleases Him and not yourself.

But all these will be so different if God does not know you.

Because this effectively means He is against you.

And if that is the case, then all that you will have is a fearful expectation of the future.

If this is your situation, repent and seek help now while you still have life.

Come to Him through the way He has prescribed – which is through His Son Jesus Christ.

The Amorites were given 400 years to repent, but they didn’t.

They squandered away all the opportunities given to them.

On the other hand, God sent Jonah to preach to Nineveh, and the city repented.

So are you going to be like the Amorites or the Ninevites?

Would you say like Joshua did – As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord!

I want to tell you that the greatest pleasure you can have on earth is the experience of God’s presence with you.

That was the experience of Enoch when he walked with God in Gen 5.

And he was taken to be with God without even experiencing death.

So, my wish for you in 2020 if you are not a Christian is that God will grant you repentance & faith in Jesus Christ.

And if you are a Christian, may you be so conscious of the presence of God with you with every step that you take.

Then you will live your life “energised” by the love of Christ.

Then you will be energised by the truth that this sovereign God is with you and for you.

And you will find great joy, strength & purpose in all that you do.

Have a blessed 2020 ahead! To God be all glory!

Judges 16:28 – Strengthen me, I pray, just this once, O God…

“Then Samson called to the LORD, saying, “O Lord GOD, remember me, I pray! Strengthen me, I pray, just this once, O God, …””  ‭‭Judges‬ ‭16:28‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

This was Samson’s prayer when he was humiliated by the Philistines. He had lost his eyes. He had lost his great strength. But in the depth of such helplessness, he prayed. Lo and behold, the LORD heard him. And the LORD answered his prayer! Here are 2 lessons I see amongst many in this verse:

Firstly, Jesus taught us to ask, even when it seems ridiculously “out of our mind” to do so. He told us the parable of the friend who came at midnight seeking for some food to entertain his visitor. It was simply unthinkable to make such a request. Yet, the request was granted because of the persistence of the one who asked.

The lesson for us is simply this: we may be brought to a humbled state due to our own folly and we feel “too embarrassed” to ask for God’s mercies. Yet, we ought to ask. Samson did just that and God answered his prayer.

Secondly, God’s grace is amazing & supernatural. God is not obligated to grant sinners any pardon or privilege. Unfortunately, many people only realise this when they are in circumstances similar to what Samson was experiencing. But God’s grace is amazing and supernatural. He did not need to answer Samson’s cry for help. Yet, He did.

This passage exists in the scriptures to help us appreciate the fact that God’s grace was extended to a sinner who called out for help. It was a sinner who ought to be ashamed of all the wrong he had done, all the misuse of gifts and privileges bestowed to him. And this prayer of a totally unworthy sinner was heard by a God who is gracious and merciful. And this God could extend His pardon to sinners was possible because He earned their pardon by His own Son’s  death on the cross.

 

Psa 39:4-6 – Lord, make me to know my end…

“ Lord , make me to know my end, And what is the measure of my days, That I may know how frail I am. Indeed, You have made my days as handbreadths, And my age is as nothing before You; Certainly every man at his best state is but vapor. Selah Surely every man walks about like a shadow; Surely they busy themselves in vain; He heaps up riches, And does not know who will gather them.” Psa 39:4-6

This is a sober reminder of how frail we are, that God is the Creator and we the creatures. How important it is that we have a right measure of ourselves before our Creator! This will keep us humble and meek in our interactions with fellow men.

2 Chr 32:20-21 God answers prayers…

Now because of this King Hezekiah and the prophet Isaiah, the son of Amoz, prayed and cried out to heaven. Then the Lord sent an angel who cut down every mighty man of valor, leader, and captain in the camp of the king of Assyria. So he returned shamefaced to his own land. And when he had gone into the temple of his god, some of his own offspring struck him down with the sword there.  2 Chr 32:20-21

Judah was faced with an impending military threat. They were about to be attacked by Assyria whose armies are far superior in every way. In response to this threat, the verse says that Hezekiah and Isaiah prayed and cried out to heaven. And the Lord responded with deliverance.

How often have we missed deliverance and help because we failed to pray? Because we failed to be aware the God is present at every situation we encounter, we attempt to handle the situation with our own wisdom and strength. This verse is a reminder that we ought to pray at all times. God is near us and will respond to our call for help.

2 Chr 20:6-9 … what do we “appeal to” in prayer?

and said: “O Lord God of our fathers, are You not God in heaven, and do You not rule over all the kingdoms of the nations, and in Your hand is there not power and might, so that no one is able to withstand You? Are You not our God, who drove out the inhabitants of this land before Your people Israel, and gave it to the descendants of Abraham Your friend forever? And they dwell in it, and have built You a sanctuary in it for Your name, saying, ‘If disaster comes upon us—sword, judgment, pestilence, or famine—we will stand before this temple and in Your presence (for Your name is in this temple), and cry out to You in our affliction, and You will hear and save.’   2 Chr 20:6-9

How do we pray? Do we appeal to God based on how good or deserving we are? Or do we appeal to God for His righteousness and our utter helplessness?

Jehoshaphat appealed to God as the God ruling over all the kingdoms of the nations in heaven. He appealed to the “reputation” of the name of God who gave that land to His people. And God heard his prayer.

How do we pray? What is our motivation in prayer? How do we view God as we pray? Let us learn from Jehoshaphat whose prayer was answered.

 

Job 1:5 – Interceding for our children….

So it was, when the days of feasting had run their course, that Job would send and sanctify them, and he would rise early in the morning and offer burnt offerings according to the number of them all. For Job said, “It may be that my sons have sinned and cursed God in their hearts.” Thus Job did regularly.  Job 1:5

Job had grown up children. As young people often do, they enjoyed dining and feasting. Today, we call this partying. Job’s practice was to pray and intercede for them. He did not leave anything to chance. He was concerned that they may have done something unwise in the midst of dining and feasting.

So, as a concerned parent, he would regularly pray for them. He would seek God’s forgiveness upon them in case they sinned “in their hearts.” He will leave it to God to work in their hearts to bring about the work of salvation. He will just be faithful in praying for them and trust that God would be merciful to them.

This is a reminder for Christian parents to exercise the same spiritual diligence for their children. We ought to pray daily for our children – not just for their material well-being (which I have no doubt we will certainly pray for), but more for their spiritual well-being because this has an eternal bearing.