God is in Control
July 31, 2016
Life isn’t easy. I don’t think I’m going to get too many disagreeing with me on that one. Life isn’t easy, but it’s good. Is it possible to still greet each day with a smile, to be excited about the possibilities, excited about life, excited about what God is doing – – – even when you’re in the middle of a mess.
What do I mean by mess? It’s those unwelcome and sometimes unexpected complications that have a way of coming our way. Maybe the mess was caused by your own mistakes, maybe it was caused by someone else, maybe it’s the result of circumstances beyond your control. They come in all shapes and sizes. They can be financial problems, work or school problems, health problems, relationship problems — or, sometimes it seems, everything at once.
We’re in week two of a three week series on how to get centered in God’s presence — how to remain optimistic — even when life doesn’t fully cooperate with you. You can trust in God’s presence even when you’re going through difficult times.
Last week I spoke about the first step to getting centered in God is to declare – – to trust – SLIDE- – GOD IS FOR ME. God loves me, and in fact, God even likes me.
If you believe God is for you — you can endure anything. You can face prison, persecution, poverty, sickness, loneliness, failure — if you believe God is for you, you will have the strength you need to persevere anything life throws at you.
On the other hand, if you don’t believe God is for you . . . if, instead, you believe God is out to get you . . . every little problem becomes monumental. Every obstacle becomes insurmountable. Something as simple as forgetting something – – can make you doubt the value of your existence. It’s a crucial first step toward getting centered – – – you need to believe – – – God is for you. It’s trusting and believing God is in control.
I think we would all agree – – the world seems like it’s totally out of control. It doesn’t feel like the good guys are winning. The reports on crime and war and unrest all over the world. Add to that the declining influence of church in society.
But I want you to know, in spite of how things may appear – – – – God is in control. No situation is beyond His grasp. No situation is beyond His power to save.
We see examples of this throughout the Bible. When the people of Israel stood on the banks of the Red Sea, with the rushing water in front of them and Pharoah’s army closing in behind them, the situation looked out of control. But, with God, things aren’t always what they appear to be. He made a way for the people of Israel to pass through the Red Sea, and He stopped Pharaoh’s army.
In the same way, when Jesus was arrested on that Friday — — when His disciples scattered and He was crucified, then His lifeless body was put into a tomb. The world appeared out of control. There was chaos. All that Jesus worked for, all He spoke about, seemed to be lost forever.
But with God, things aren’t always what they appear to be. The death of Jesus on the cross wasn’t a victory for satan. It was a crushing defeat. God was in control!
Some of you are facing out-of-control situations right now. Life seems to be tossing you one catastrophe after another . . . and maybe you don’t know how to respond. Maybe you think this is a situation no one can fix — not even an all-powerful, all-knowing God.
In spite of how things appear, I want you to know: God is in control. Whatever is going on in your life, God knows about it. Your situation did not catch God off guard. He’s not surprised by your mess. He knows all about it. If you want to find a place of peace during the storm, if you want to get centered in the middle of this mess, then you need to nail down this certainty once and for all.
Yet, I want you to know that if you’re in a mess right now and you feel like all of life is against you, know that you’re not alone. Listen to the Psalmist ~
1 Why, O Lord, do you stand far away? Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble? – Psalm 10:1
23 Awake and rouse yourself for my vindication, for my cause, my God and my Lord! – Psalm 35:23
2 For your arrows have sunk into me, and your hand has come down on me. – Psalm 38:2
10 You have made us turn back from the foe, and those who hate us have gotten spoil.
11 You have made us like sheep for slaughter and have scattered us among the nations.
12 You have sold your people for a trifle, demanding no high price for them. – Psalm 44:10-12
Those are words in the Bible. Can you believe the brutal honesty? Sometimes that is how we feel. And it’s okay to tell God all about how you feel.
It’s absolutely OK to be absolutely honest with God. You can tell God what you feel, what you think, what you believe, what you doubt, what you want, what you don’t want — you can tell God exactly what’s in your heart.
Here’s why: He already knows. When you talk to God, you’re not supplying Him with new information. You’re not bringing Him up to date on your situation. He already knows. When you pour your heart out to God, He’s not shocked — He already knows what’s in your heart.
I like what C.S. Lewis said, “We should bring to God what is in our hearts, not what we think should be in our hearts.”
So when you’re in a mess, you can be honest with God. And then, you can take that honesty one step further. It’s not enough just to complain about the details of your situation.
We need to learn to say, “God, in spite of all that’s going on, I will trust you, because I choose to believe you’re in control. I don’t like this situation. You know I don’t like it. This situation is bigger than me, but it isn’t bigger than you. I believe you’re in control.”
Here’s the first thing you can do ~ Celebrate each day as God’s gift.
Psalm 118 contains a famous verse – so many of you have said this – –
24 This is the day which the Lord has made; Let us rejoice and be glad in it. – Psalm 118:24
There may be times when this is really difficult to say!! Yet, this is a great way to start each day ~ declaring that today is God’s day, He created it and He’s in control of it, and I WILL rejoice in it.
Today isn’t an accident. God made this day in your life. This is the day the Lord has made, and He intends to accomplish one of two things in the next 24 hours ~ He will carry you through whatever situation you’re facing, or He will deliver you from it. He made this day to strengthen you. He made this day to empower you. He made this day to change you. He made this day to move you one step closer to the person He designed you to be.
You can celebrate today – – and every day to come. No matter what troubles may be around the corner, you can make a choice to celebrate this day in anticipation of what God is going to do.
The Psalmist said, “Let us rejoice and be glad.” This is really important . . . to rejoice requires a choice. It’s something you decide to do. From the time you open your eyes each morning you’re making choices. Too often when we’re going through hard times we start the day thinking, “What’s the next bad thing that’s going to happen What’s the next problem? What else can possibly go wrong?”
We may even be saying, “This is the day my problems have made, I will complain and grumble in everything.” And before we know it, we’re completely focused on the power of our problems, the power of our mistakes, the power of our sinfulness, or the power of our enemies — and we’re not thinking about the power of God. We’re not thinking about how He has created this day.
The best way to learn to celebrate each day is to make it part of our routine to get in God’s presence as early as possible. As soon as you wake up, as soon as you’ve shaken the cobwebs out of your head and you’re capable of coherent thought, thank God for the day and give your day to God. Lay it at His feet.
This is exactly what Jesus did. We see an example of it in Mark 1:35. “And in the early morning, while it was still dark, He arose and went out and departed to a lonely place, and was praying there.” Try to get into the practice of talking to God before you talk to anyone else, even if it’s just to say, “Good morning, Lord. This is the day You’ve made, and I WILL rejoice in it.”
Make it a point to remember this throughout the day. The Lord made this day and look for signs of His presence. Look for opportunities to grow, look for solutions, look for the possibilities. It’s God’s day. He made it for you to experience Him.
A second way to develop a God-is-in-control mindset . . . Ask for more . . . The Psalmist said ~
25 Save us, we pray, O Lord! O Lord, we pray, give us success!
The Psalmist isn’t praying with a poverty mindset. He’s not saying, “Lord, just help us squeak by. Help us get through it somehow.” He’s saying more than give us success. He’s literally asking for prosperity. Send abundance, send plenty.
Think about what prosperity means in the context of your problems right now. What kind of abundance do you need? Is it an abundance of money? An abundance of cooperation? An abundance of ideas? An abundance of health? An abundance of love? An abundance of contentment?
When you believe God is really in control of a situation, you don’t need to ask for barely enough. Ask for it all. God’s in control. When you ask for just enough to get by, you’re really not asking for anything. You’re just hoping circumstances get a little better. That’s not faith; that’s acquiescing to your circumstances. That’s passive acceptance. It’s not in God’s plan for His people to merely survive;
He wants you to thrive. Jesus said He came to give us life and give it to us abundantly!
Too often we settle for the leftovers. We don’t strive to thrive. We accept the ho-hum. No matter what your life looks like today, know this: God is in control. That means you can ask for more than enough. Paul reminds us we should ask for more than we can even imagine! Ask for blessings and abundance and prosperity — no matter how far away they seem. You can ask for it all.
Finally, in verse 27, we read ~
27 The Lord is God, and He has made his light to shine upon us.
Light is such a great and powerful word. Biblically, it can have many different meanings. The word light can refer to God’s Word, as we see in Psalm 119 ~
105 Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. – Psalm 119:105
If you’re in the middle of a mess, spend more time in God’s word. Read the Psalms; read the heartfelt prayers. You’ll remember you’re not the first person to feel this way, and you’re not alone. Read through the Bible, it’s a book of Hope! God has given us His Word and it will encourage you.
The word light can also refer to hope, as David said in Psalm in 27:1. The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? You don’t have to endure day upon day of darkness. God wants to bring light in your life. He wants to give you hope. For the moment, it may seem like there is no solution to the problems you face. You might feel like your life is one big unmanageable mess. Don’t believe your feelings. Look for the light. Look for signs of hope. Look for the possibilities. God will not leave you nor forsake you.
And Jesus said ~ 12 I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life. – John 8:12
We never have to walk in darkness. We have the Savior of the world on our side. He will strengthen and encourage you. He will give you amazing grace and amazing power! We must believe and trust in Jesus.
Trust God is in control. Even in the midst of your mess. Be centered on God. Develop a God is in control heart, spirit and mindset! It means you’ll see God in the midst of your mess. Whatever it is, whatever reason your there. God knows all about it. And He will be there with you and for you! Always!
Life isn’t easy. We all know that. We face challenges – – – big and small, and sometimes things seemingly spin out of control. No matter how things look today, you can find a place of peace in the presence of God. You can get centered in Him, because He is for you, because He’s in control of every situation — including yours.
You have a choice. You have one everyday, 100’s of times each day. Will you believe God is in control? Will you give thanks and rejoice that this is the day the Lord has made!?!?
You can ask for more than enough, because God has the ability to help you thrive. He wants you to thrive. And you can look to the light, because in His word and in His presence, you will find all the help you need.
It’s your choice. It always will be. Trust God is with you. He loves you . . . and yes, He even likes you!