Knowing God as Lord

How can we know that God is Lord?  Do we know Him as Lord through the creation around us?  Through His revelation to us in His Word?  Through the earthly blessings we receive from Him?  These are all legitimate answers to the original question.  However, while they are probably the most obvious, they are not the only options.  One answer that particularly stands out to me is one that may at first seem paradoxical, especially in our current church world: we know God as Lord through His seemingly unfair actions in the world around and through His chastising of us.

For some time now, I have been working through the book of Ezekiel in my personal devotions.  One thing that I have come to notice is the frequent use of the phrase, “and ye shall know that I am the Lord,” or similar such phrases.  This line often concludes a verse in which God proclaims that he will send judgement on the people of the earth.  One example is Ezekiel 12:20: “And the cities that are inhabited shall be laid waste, and the land shall be desolate; and ye shall know that I am the Lord.” Another example is Ezekiel 30:26 “And I will scatter the Egyptians among the nations, and disperse them among the countries; and they shall know that I am the Lord.” And there are many others.

This is an idea that is very unpopular in the nominal Christian world.  Saying that God causes the hardships in our lives and the seemingly evil events in the world around is seen as unfairly doing harm to the reputation of God as good and loving.  Many Christians refuse to acknowledge that God is the cause of our trials or of natural disasters, seeking instead to attribute these things to the devil.  I recently read a book entitled Against Calvinism in which this was a frequent point of discussion for the author.  His main point was that making God the cause of what seemingly to us is evil detracts from His loving nature – after all, God is love, is He not (I John 4:8)?

What this author and others like Him forget is that our human understanding is very limited – even the least of God’s wisdom far transcends that of man (I Cor. 1:25).  We are often unable to understand why He causes certain events to take place.  However, this does not make Him automatically unloving and unjust; on the contrary, it makes Him exactly what He claims Himself to be in I John 4:8.  Proof of this can be seen in James 1:2-4.  In verse 2, the word “temptations” can be understood as trials.  The idea is that God sends seemingly evil events (whether a natural disaster or a simple trial in one person’s life) to strengthen the faith of His people through patience. By these trials we are taught to rely on Him and trust more fully in Him.  In so doing, God manifests His love for us.  Meanwhile, for the wicked, God sends such events in just judgement for sinfulness.  Many would object to this, but our response ought to be God’s response throughout Ezekiel: “And they shall know that I am the Lord.”

Throughout this week, then, think of how you know God to be Lord.  See Him as Lord in His Word, certainly, as well as in creation and in your blessings from Him.  But, fellow Christian, forget not to see Him as Lord in the difficult events as well.  Remember that your trials work patience and that patience leads to us being made “perfect and entire” (James 1:4), and thus know that God is Lord.

Matt Koerner

Who I Am and Who I Am Not

A lot of us have sad and tragic, yet honest stories about our childhoods or lives in general. Some of us have been through a lot more than others. I decided to use a presentation I gave in a college class as an opportunity to witness to you all, by showing you who I really am, who I’m not, and maybe along the way, helping you find out who you are, too. I’d like to start with a quote from Pastor John Piper. He says, “Not only is all your affliction momentary. Not only is all your affliction light in comparison to eternity and the glory there. All of it is TOTALLY meaningful. Every millisecond of your pain from the fallen nature or fallen man; every millisecond of your misery in the path of obedience is working for you a peculiar glory you will get because of that. I don’t care if it was cancer or criticism. I don’t care if it was slander or sickness. Don’t say it’s meaningless. It’s doing something! It’s not meaningless! Of course you can’t see what it’s doing! Don’t look to what is seen. When your mom dies, when your kid dies, when you’ve got cancer at 40. When a car careens into the sidewalk and takes her out… Don’t say, “That’s meaningless!” It’s not. It is working for you an eternal weight of glory. Therefore, therefore, do NOT lose heart. But take these truths and day by day, focus on them. Preach them to yourself every morning. Get alone with God, and preach them into your mind until your heart sings with confidence that you are new and cared for.”

This quote has come to mean so much to me. To tell you why, I’ll start with when I was in the 8th grade. I have a father who is an alcoholic. At 14 years old, I found him in the garage, attempting to take his own life. Thankfully, God was gracious and his attempt was unsuccessful. But such a situation can take a toll on a little girl who thinks about how she could have lost her daddy, no matter how difficult his circumstances with sin made the relationship.

In my junior year of high school, I had another sad event cross my path. I lost my grandma. Not only was she my grandma, but she was my role model, my confidant, and one of my best friends, even if I didn’t get to see her often because she lived out of state. Yes, God took her to be with Him in all His glory in heaven, yet there’s something that is just never the same when you lose a person who means the world to you. But, I pressed on.

I’ve also struggled with different types of mental illness since I was about 10. Anxiety Disorder, Depression, and Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder are the three I’ve had experience with. My senior year of high school, I really struggled with the depression. I was suicidal and did a lot of self-harming to cope with the pain I was feeling internally. I had a lot of support from wonderful friends, and God provided me with the resources to get the help I needed.

Fast forward to a couple years out of high school. Sexual assault. A gross sin and a crime I never would have thought I’d fall victim to. It drains you emotionally. It clouds your vision with fear, guilt, and shame. But this does NOT define me. Like Piper says in his quote, “You are NEW and CARED FOR.”

One might wonder what I’ve learned from all of this. If there is one thing I have learned in all of this, it is that God is good ALL the time. Not just sometimes. Not just when I’m feeling happy. Not just when things are going my way. He is GOOD. ALWAYS. How did I manage to get through this? Only by His grace. Do I still have struggles I face every single day? Yes. Is God still good? Yes. Is God still faithful? Yes! ALWAYS!

Now, all of you may still have the question, “Who am I?” Well, first, I’ll tell you who I’m not. I am not who my Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder says I am. I am not defined by who my earthly father is, and I am not going to let myself wear the label “daughter of an alcoholic.” I am not defined by the different emotions of shame, guilt, fear and all of what comes with having been sexually assaulted. Who am I? “I am the daughter of a King Who is not moved by the world. For my God is with me, and goes before me. I do not fear because I AM HIS.”

“And I said, My strength and my hope is perished from the Lord: Remembering mine affliction and my misery, the wormwood and the gall. My soul hath them still in remembrance, and is humbled in me. This I recall to my mind, therefore have I hope. It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness. The Lord is my portion, saith my soul; therefore will I hope in him” (Lamentations 3: 18-24).