For a period of my life, I would choose a word at the beginning of each year to “focus on”. I chose words that would point me back to God, words I could study in the Bible and learn from. In 2020 (the last time I did this), my word was Rule.
It comes from a Psalm I memorized in 2019, and more specifically, a verse that helped me through some difficult times at the end of that year.
“The LORD has established his throne in the heavens, and his kingdom rules over all.” Psalm 103:19
I wanted to enter 2020 with the reminder that God rules over all creation, all people, and myself. He rules over each situation I find myself in. He rules over all authorities and positions of power. He rules over the wealthy and the poor. No matter what happens in my or anyone else’s life, He still rules. What a great God we have. (And what an appropriate word to meditate on in the year of Covid in particular!).
I think we often forget or minimize the sovereignty of God. Our human brains can only comprehend so much. We can only imagine Him in terms of what we’ve seen. It may seem obvious that we can’t picture the unseen but think about it. There could be colors beyond the visible wavelengths that contribute to the beauty of God. I’m sure there are sounds and songs of which we cannot detect the notes. Angels and other supernatural beings whose only descriptions are those made by humans and recorded in scripture. The extent of his supreme power and authority are hard to grasp, so it is understandable that we fall short of recognizing it.
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I’ve noticed a trend in Christianity lately from reliance on God to reliance on self. Pastors are writing books on how to better your life, increase your wealth, and be happier. As much as I loved the enneagram at one time, those types of personality “boxes” are making us obsessed with self-discovery and self-betterment. We’re fighting our own battles instead of relying on the One who already won it all. This shift didn’t happen overnight, and I don’t think we’re even fully aware of it as it happens.
One particular moment that I noticed this was in my former church back in early 2020, as we were worshipping. In a “spontaneous” moment (they’re rarely spontaneous), the worship leader began to sing “What would you do if He walked into the room?” over and over again. Meaning, if Jesus entered the room right now, how would you respond? My first thought was that I would hit the floor and bow in reverence for the perfect, holy, everlasting God in my midst, because I am a sinner and unworthy of being in His presence.
But as I looked around, I saw people cheering, clapping, jumping, etc. as if Jesus was merely a celebrity. I don’t know anyone’s heart posture in that moment, so I may be generalizing. But it further evidenced this idea that we have lost sight of the sovereignty of our God – of how much power and holiness He truly has. My knees get weak when I so much as think about Jesus’ glory. If He was standing in front of me, I’d be on the ground.
I’m not saying everyone needs to be on their knees every Sunday. I understand people worship differently and churches have different atmospheres that may or may not easily support that posture. But it’s important that we evaluate our own posture (both physically and of our hearts) for the reverence that our God truly deserves.
Even if we’ve had nothing “good” our entire lives, God deserves all of our praise simply for His never-changing character. We must not overlook the fact that He who created the world, who flooded almost everyone and everything in it, who punished the Israelites by leading them in circles in the desert for 40 years, who offered up His servant Job to the workings of the devil, who stood in the fire with His devoted people, who called prophets and fishers of men, who sent His one and only son to die the death that each of His created people deserved…THAT God is the same God who dwells in our hearts, the same God who created your millionaire neighbor and your homeless neighbor, the same God who let you get sick, the same God who brought you that job, that spouse, that volunteer opportunity. What a comfort it is to have a God who does not change in character. He ought to be worshipped for that every single second.
God displays His authority numerous times in scripture. One passage that has always stood out to me is Acts 5:1-11. A man and his wife acted selfishly and lied to God. Upon being called out by Peter, they dropped dead. Right there in that moment. It says in verse 11 that “great fear came upon the whole church.” This fear was a combination of awe and reverence at the power and authority of the Living God. How would your fear of God change if you witnessed a scene like that? If you saw such a clear demonstration of His power, would that change the way you think about, talk about, and worship Him?
The concept of fearing the Lord is frequently mentioned in scripture, not to make us scared of Him exactly, but to make us reverent toward Him. I have found such delight in studying this topic over the last several years. True devotion to the Lord is security I have not found elsewhere. When I acknowledge His authority, and I take my rightful place in this world (which is very low), things seem to work out. My stress is reduced since I’m no longer relying on self-help. I desire to serve others more because I see that we are all equal at the foot of the cross. We were never designed to be our own god, so when we try to be, things don’t go the way they are supposed to.
I challenge all of us (myself included) to consider how we view God in our day-to-day. Is He there to help us get what we want, or are we there to further what He wants? If He really walked into the room we are in right now, what would we do? Let’s reflect on all the times God has displayed His power in scripture and in our own lives and be reverent of that. Let’s give Him true and honest glory in all we do.