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What the Bible says about Accepting God's Purpose in Our Lives
(From Forerunner Commentary)

1 Chronicles 29:10-16

This is part of King David's final prayer of thanksgiving, a portion of his benediction preceding the building of the Temple, as he had made provision for it so that Solomon could begin construction with everything in order.

The words should be meaningful, coming to us from the heart of one we admire, of whom even God said was a man after His own heart. It schools us in how David felt about God. It touches on His greatness, power, glory, majesty, rulership, headship, and strength. How puny we are by comparison! We are nothing, aliens and pilgrims in a world that gives us no recognition. Compared to His, our days are but a shadow, and despite this, we are able to make an offering to Him because He has given us all we have.

Who is this One to whom we pray, calling Him "Father," "Lord," or "God"? Who is this One whom we refer to as our Creator, Healer, Savior, or Sustainer? Who is the One who is referred to as the Almighty Ruler, Life-giver, and Forgiver of our sins?

He is the sovereign Ruler of all that He has created. The term "sovereignty" first speaks of supremacy of authority, but with the exception of personal evil, God reveals Himself in His Word as supreme in every aspect of life. He is the Most High. To say that God is sovereign is to declare that He is the Almighty, the Possessor of all power in heaven and earth; none can defeat His counsels, thwart His purpose, or resist His will. Thus, Psalm 115:3 asserts, "But our God is in heaven; He does whatever He pleases."

Can we accept this? Is this merely a listing of grandiose titles of One who is great in His being but distant and remote in the actual operations of our lives? Do we relate to Him merely as most people in this world do, or is His greatness truly personal to us, as it was to David, because we know Him personally?

John W. Ritenbaugh
Fully Accepting God's Sovereignty (Part One)

Ecclesiastes 3:11

We should tie this directly to the truth of verse 1: “There is a time for every purpose.” The key word, of course, is “time.” In life's challenges to our faith, in which God is involved with us, some purpose is being worked out. In verse 11, we learn that both the timing and what is being worked out are “beautiful.” The event might be challenging, but God, who is involved in the Christian's life and in this challenge, calls it “beautiful.” With that hopeful knowledge, what should our attitude be?

The root of the Hebrew word translated beautiful literally means “bright.” The Hebrew word can be translated “fair,” “comely,” “beautiful,” “suitable,” “appropriate,” and “timely,” depending on the context. In Job 42:15, the same Hebrew word is translated “beautiful” when describing Job's daughters. It indicates something good and admirable, a blessing.

What an encouraging truth! God's timing, His oversight of events, and what He wants them to accomplish are something good! They are not merely broadly good but also suitable, fitting, appropriate, and timely.

Was the scattering of Israel and Judah beautiful in its time? If we read Lamentations without considering God's entire purpose, the situation appears very ugly indeed. However, over the long haul, the answer is undoubtedly, “Yes, it was beautiful and good!” It was suitable for that occasion.

What about the scattering of the church? Was it beautiful? The same is true. Our going through it may have been stressful, requiring painful adjustments while enduring to the end, but in the long term, it will most certainly be beautifully good.

Is correction good? Do we really want to continue doing things wrong? If God had not done what He did when and how He did it, how many serious spiritual character and attitude flaws would have gone uncorrected? How disastrous would they have been to the salvation of many?

How many nice people have we fellowshipped with in the past but who have seemingly been swept overboard and appear lost? The reality may be that they were “nice tares.” They indeed may have been fine people with many social graces but completely unconverted. Perhaps they no longer fellowship with us because God delayed their true calling, sparing them from the Lake of Fire.

Peter states clearly that God is “not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance” (II Peter 3:9). There used to be a television program called Father Knows Best. Yes, He does! And because of the way God has acted, many more will enter His Kingdom in His image than if He had not intervened. It is even possible to consider that we may all have been lost except for His rough intervention!

It is critical for us to keep in mind always that God knows the end from the beginning (Isaiah 46:10). His overview captures the entire span of events; He sees the entire picture. We, though, live in a time-bound, material universe, and all we have is a mere point of view (I Corinthians 13:12). For the most part, we are restricted to grasping things from our narrow perspective. This is why faith is required of us and why Solomon states in verse 11 that we cannot “find out the work that God does from beginning to end.”

So how can we meet life's challenges in the right spirit?

If we think the scattering of the church has been difficult to accept in a good attitude, we need to be patient because prophecy reveals that things will become much worse as time moves on! I am personally becoming ever more aware that time is moving on for me. My mother, who lived to be almost 93, said to me once, “Getting old is not for sissies.” She was saying in her unconverted way that, regardless of age, the trials of life never do really end. As one ages, they simply morph into another form.

To help us through our current spiritual trials as well as the intensifying times ahead, we must come to know God through a personal relationship and trust Him to work things out. We must use our faith, knowing that we do not see the entire picture.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Ecclesiastes and Christian Living (Part Three): Time

Matthew 16:22-23

Peter believed that Jesus was the Messiah. But what was wrong here? Peter also disagreed with how God would work out His purpose through Christ. What he objected to was his good Friend having to go through a scourging and a painful and shameful crucifixion, which is a terrible way to die, especially for One so good. To him, it was unthinkable that Jesus should suffer all the ignominy and be berated by those in authority—and Peter recognized that those in seats of authority could not hold a candle to Jesus. Yet these mean men would sit in judgment of Him and actually deliver Him to death.

Peter disagreed with what his Messiah said God's purpose was and how it would be worked out. We can relate to what Peter said. It really was a touching sentiment because he did not want to see Christ suffer and die, but the sentiment was wrong. Christ identified the source of what Peter said as Satan.

How did He isolate that and conclude it was from Satan? For one, it followed the same pattern as Satan's temptations in Matthew 4: offering Christ Messiahship without suffering. "Just bow down to me, and I'll give you all the kingdoms of the world. You don't have to suffer, Jesus." (This last bit Satan implied.)

Satan knew the Scriptures. He knew who Jesus was, and he also knew the Scriptures better than Peter did. Satan tossed in front of Christ the temptation of achieving Messiahship, rulership over the world, without having to go through the ignominy of scourging and death by crucifixion.

It was quite a temptation. Probably most of us would have taken the out. Jesus, though, recognized it right away.

It was not God's will. His will was that Christ first had to suffer and then die for man's sins. Where does it say that in God's Word? Isaiah 52 and 53 are clear about God's will for the Messiah.

When he spoke, Peter was not speaking God's words or thoughts regarding the Messiah. Instead, he was communicating what he would like to see occur. But God's thoughts are not man's thoughts. What Peter spoke suggested the common Jewish conception of a Warrior-Messiah who would put down Judah's enemies, elevating her over her conquerors, and she would become the kingpin of all the nations on earth. This would bypass the idea of a suffering Messiah, who dies for the sins of man. But God had willed first things first: The Christ had to suffer and die before He could become King of kings and put down His foes.

Where did Peter get the idea of a Warrior-Messiah? Peter was a victim of a demonic disinformation campaign regarding God's Word, and by believing it and acting on it, he became a stumbling-block to others. The disinformation came from Satan through his false prophets.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Satan (Part 4)

Revelation 4:8-11

The One who receives continuous praise and submission from these awesome angelic beings is our Savior and Creator. Without directly saying it, this passage touches on a major issue in this great purpose He is working out: that, unlike Satan and his demons, will we be loyal, faithful, to our Creator God, as He works out and governs His purpose for each of us personally? Or in our impatience will we resist and rebel?

Verse 11 contains the key statement that is vital to our living by faith: He created all things in the first place and all—including us—is created for His purpose to be fulfilled. The King James Version translates this phrase, "For You have created all things, and for Your pleasure they are and were created."

Satan could not accept this. Consider deeply what has resulted! So we need to take this sobering thought down to our level and to our time and examine it in more detail against the issues of our own lives.

Can we live by faith that He is, that He knows what He is doing with our lives, and that by His merciful act He has included us as part of His good pleasure? Can we accept that He knows exactly where His creative efforts are headed and what it will take to form and shape us into what He pleases? At the same time, we know His goal for us only vaguely, yet we must fully accept whatever He brings to bear on us for His purposes.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Fully Accepting God's Sovereignty (Part One)


 




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