Tag Archives: Sovereignty of God

Confessions of a Kingdom Builder

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I am a kingdom builder. My kingdom is self.

I build my kingdom according to my will. When circumstances or people fail to meet my expectations, I respond in impatience, disbelief, and anger. Sometimes I am willing to compromise a bit, but my reasons for doing so are selfish. I give a little to get a little for my kingdom.

The problem is that my idea of what the Commonwealth of Terrie should look like is in direct opposition to the Lord’s. Not only that, but I try to build my kingdom at the same time God is tearing it down. This is futile, frustrating, and absolutely exhausting.

Sometimes, a wrecking ball is called for. Sometimes the Lord uses more subtle means. But either way, my kingdom must fall. The foundation is pride, and it must be destroyed.

But this I know and believe: His Kingdom is best, His realm, the most beautiful. His authority is trustworthy and true.

My kingdom will end. It is mere vapor, all smoke and mirrors. His Scepter reigns forever.

My kingdom is constructed on a lie, His on the Truth.

I build my kingdom on shifting sand. His Kingdom is founded on the Rock that is Christ.

This morning, first thing, circumstances thwarted my kingdom yet again. I had plans. But a dead battery in my car put an end to what I had intended for my little empire today. I did not respond well.

But, there is good news.

If I should try to build my personal domain ten thousand times a day, God’s mercy and grace demolish each beggarly attempt. It is for love’s sake that my Heavenly Father will not allow my kingdom to stand. And, it is for the Gospel’s sake that my prideful response to its dismantling is crushed by the cross. He meets me there, and I am magnificently ruined and gloriously wrecked.

Jesus died for kingdom builders like me.

Your throne, O God, is forever and ever; A scepter of righteousness is the scepter of Your kingdom.  Psalm 45:6

By His Grace and for the Gospel,
Terrie van Baarsel


Learning My Lessons

I am a life-long learner.

But, sometimes I look around and think that everyone else is more accomplished than me. Everyone else has it all together, right? Although that’s how it may seem, the reality is far different. You are a life-long learner, too.

English: School room.

English: School room. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

With that in mind, and in the spirit of encouraging one another, here is a short list of things I am learning and in some cases, re-learning!

1. Don’t worry. Trust God.
Worrying about things that I have no control over is just crazy. But this is what I do. If only I could finally and fully learn that I can trust God. This is one lesson I fear will need to be repeated again and again until my life on earth is done. What a relief it will be someday to finally rest from worry. I am beginning to seriously question my personal sovereignty, but I guess that could be a good thing.

Those who know your name will trust in You, for You, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek You. (Psalm 9:10)

2. Life may not be perfect, but there is still much to be thankful for.
I yearn for my life to be in order. I like all my ducks in a row and everything on my list to be checked off. For me, busy-ness begets the blues. I love to be around people, but I also need time alone to think and to process. And, I detest conflict.

But, my life is not in order. My ducks are not only out of line but chaotically quacking like crazy. It takes a Herculean effort to check even one thing off my list, and “Busy” is my middle name. Moments alone are few and far between. Conflict is a given.

Yet, in all of this the Lord is faithful to remind my harried heart that there is still much to be thankful for. My life is filled with blessings, and even the difficulties I face are being used by Him for my good and His glory. Always.

Even if all else should give way around me, let me be found “joyously giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in Light.” (Col. 1:12)

3. God is sovereignly working.
There is no graph, no algorithm, no equation that indicates exactly when or how our Heavenly Father accomplishes His will. But, He is working and always in a million different ways.

Life is not a math problem, but a grand story with eternal scope and perspective. God writes life stories that are rife with plot twists, filled with quirky characters, and include conflict (both resolved and unresolved with real-time cliff-hangers). We turn each page not quite knowing what the next chapter may bring, but we do know the ending and it’s a happy one.

He is working in me. And, although I don’t always see it, I can trust He is working in my loved ones, too.

I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come. I say: My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please. (Isaiah 46:10)

What about you? What life lessons are you learning?

By His Grace and for the Gospel,
Terrie van Baarsel


Things We Can Know in Our Weakness

Sermon Notes, Pastor Milton Vincent
Cornerstone Fellowship Bible Church, January 22, 2012

Romans 8:26-28

What do we know to be true in our weakest moments? In times of weakness and bewilderment, what you hold to be true tells much about your spiritual condition. The focus of this morning’s message is not so much what we know when things are going well, but what we know is true in the midst of suffering, ignorance and weakness.

“My memory is nearly gone, but I remember two things–that I am a great sinner and that Christ is a great savior.”
-John Newton

See also Job 19:13-26; Psalm 56:1-9

FIVE THINGS PAUL KNEW TO BE TRUE IN THE MIDST OF HIS WEAKNESS AND IGNORANCE

1. That the Spirit helps us in our weakness. (Rom. 8:26)
-The Holy Spirit is not put off or disgusted or irritated by our weakness, but rather He is attracted to our weakness.

2. That the Spirit intercedes for us. (Rom. 8:26)
-You are always covered with perfect, flawless prayer.
-The Holy Spirit prays with perfect understanding and articulates perfectly what you need to the Father.
-Be blessed by the Holy Spirit’s intercession for you!

3. That God knows the mind of the Spirit. (Rom. 8:27)
-Know=as in knowing approvingly, not just knowing in the omniscient sense.
-The Father approves of the prayers that the Holy Spirit prays for us.
-The Father’s response to the Holy Spirit’s prayer is, yes, that is exactly the prayer I want to hear for this child of mine.

Romans 8:28 is telling us how the Father answers the prayers that the Holy Spirit prays for us:
And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to His purpose.

4. That God is working all things “into” good for those who are His people. (Rom. 8:28)
-God is always doing something in direct answer to the prayers of the Holy Spirit for us.
-God uses all circumstances in our lives, good and bad, as part of His design to work good for us.
-In all things and in everything God is busy working for our good.
-Does NOT mean that all circumstances are good. We are not calling evil, good. Rather, we are saying that there is no evil that God cannot use for good.
-Does NOT mean that God works everything for good according to what WE think is good.
-In His infinite intelligence and wisdom, He allows circumstances into our lives and weaves them together for good.
-A good example of this is the story of Joseph. …you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good… (Gen 50:20)
-Consider the example of Christ’s death on the cross. God takes this massive evil against His Son and combines it with Christ’s obedience and weaves it into the best thing that has ever happened in human history resulting in the salvation of many.
-If you believe the Gospel, it should help you to believe that God works everything for good.

Believe Romans 8:28 in every situation and know that whatever God allows in His good Providence, He will work for good in the lives of His children.

For this light and momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison.
2 Cor 4:17


Traveling the “What if?” Road

List of car audio manufacturers and brands

Image via Wikipedia

The Lord has established his throne in the heavens, and his kingdom rules over all. Psalm 103:19

It’s always a mistake to travel the “What if?” Road. Yesterday, I had the opportunity to do just that.

Backing out of the driveway on my way to do some grocery shopping, I pressed down on the brake pedal of my van. The pedal felt weird, almost spongy.  Then, the pedal went all the way down to the floorboard.

I pressed harder. Nothing. A slight panic. Then, ever so slowly, the van came to a stop.

My first reaction was minor annoyance. Nobody gets excited about car repairs, right? But minor annoyance quickly turned to fear.  And even though my preferred mode of transportation held firm, I nevertheless veered toward a quick detour down the “What if?” Road via my second favorite mode of transportation that never seems to break down. My imagination.

What if I had been on the freeway when my brakes failed?

What if I had been driving on a mountain road?

What if was unable to stop at a red light?

What if? What if? What if?

Later, as I thought about my reaction, I remembered another time I had traveled the “What if?” Road. Several years ago as I was saying my goodbyes to a friend, I took several steps backward into the street (stupid, I know). But, it was a quiet residential area, a 25 mph zone, and concerning myself with a maniac traveling full-throttle-freeway-style in my direction was the last thing on my mind.

It happened so fast, it’s really hard to put into words.

I stepped back directly into the path of the speeding car. Just before the car roared past me, a strong gust of wind blew me back towards the sidewalk. Yes, you read that right. A strong gust of wind. The car missed me by a hair. I felt it. 

I traveled the “What if?” Road that day. In fact, I think I might have taken a full road trip!

But, yesterday’s travels down this well-known route were cut short. By God’s Grace, a minor detour. The Lord reminded me that there is no “What if? Road for His children.

A minor annoyance turns to fear. Fear submits to the truth of our Heavenly Father’s divinely appointed plan for our lives.  A plan that cannot be thwarted. In fact, the “What if?” Road does not exist. Sometimes it takes a speeding car or a failed master brake cylinder to remind us of just that.

By His Grace and for the Gospel,
Terrie van Baarsel

See: Psalm 115:3; 57:2; Isaiah 46:9-10; Daniel 4:35; Prov. 16:9; Matt. 8:27; Rom. 4:20-21, 8:28


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