Friday, June 14, 2013

God's Sovereignty, Part 1

My mother had started a prayer study almost two years ago, sharing with me bits of her journey. After I expressed interest in doing the same, she picked up a couple of books for The Rustic Knight and me. I must say, I have had these for longer than I'd like to admit. For whatever reason, the timing just wasn't right. Now, I believe the timing wasn't right prior to The Paisley Butterfly's existence, for the purpose of sharing this experience with you :) And I am going to do my best to be completely honest and transparent with my thoughts and feelings in the moment of completing each section of this study...So, here we go!

The theme for Day 1 is: "Can I change God?"

To be honest, this is a thought that has never entered my mind -- that I can recall. I've understood prayer to be about opening myself up to God's will, to change me. I never had the intent to sway God to my wants, or to bend God to my will. Maybe it's the way I was raised in my faith, I have no idea. That's not to say I haven't needed much practice in prayer. 

I am asked in the study a multiple choice question, of what I assume happens in heaven after I pray. The options vary around the idea that we can change God's mind. There is an option none of the above. I choose this, writing, NO! Prayer changes us! 

Then, I am to read the prayer:
~ Psalm 25:4-5 ~
4 Show me your ways, O Lord, 
teach me your paths;
5 guide me in your truth and teach me, 
for you are God my Savior.

This prayer shows up repeatedly throughout the study, with emphasis, given by the author, on a different word each time this prayer is presented. The question to answer is: What is God saying to you? I am not exactly sure the intent here, but I believe it is meant to be open-ended, in the hopes God has been invited in to speak to my heart. Day 1's emphasis was on the first word: Show. I'll be honest, at first, I didn't get anything from this. I'm wasn't sure if it was because there was genuinely no communication happening, or if I had closed myself off to God due to this bible study not being a bible study, but a prayer study. I was disappointed. Disappointed because I had prepared myself for a bible study. Realizing it was a prayer study wasn't what I had signed up my mind. I even had a moment of thinking, I am beyond this. That I have been praying along the lines of that Psalm verse, for longer than I can remember -- 

Help me to want what you need for me; 
or, Do not let me stray. If I take my will back, don't let me; 
or, I want you to guide me. Make me follow you
(I know now, I was only half way there when I prayed those prayers; 
however, it was a starting point. The words were there, 
but I had much to learn in the meaning of those words. 
And I have come a long way since.) 

-- And I walked away. (In hindsight, I realize that I closed myself off to God, thinking I didn't need this prayer study.) So, I paced, prayed, and argued with God. He reminded me that I do need this, just maybe not in a way I can see, yet. Plus, I promised my husband we would do this together, to help strengthen our spiritual relationship. Not to mention, I made a commitment to share this experience with all of you. Between the promise to my husband and the promise to my readers, I made a promise to God. One that I had to keep... 

Back to the study, a bit over myself, having been humbled by the Almighty, I gave it another shot. What I felt, when I focused on the word, Show, was reveal Your truth

I laughed to myself, seeing how He showed me His truth when I threw my tantrum: I am to do this study, and let Him guide me through it. I am to share this experience on my blog. His truth, in this real time moment, was for me to obey Him, in following through with my promise to Him, regardless of whether I think I need it or not. This is about Him...not me.

Day 2's theme revolved around the Sovereignty of God. The author pulls verses from the bible that focus on this truth. Again, the objective is to see what God is saying to me, during this process. How do I understand God's sovereignty through the words in each verse? When I worked through this assignment, I literally wrote from my heart, completing verse after verse. This was tedious. This was tiring. It took me three separate days to complete this assignment, because I had to take breaks. For multiple reasons: life (story time, parks, cleaning, blogging, family functions, dealing with a roof leak -- to be in future post under Dove's Landing), and it was an intense process.  

Below is a handful of the verses incorporated into this assignment (pg. #'s for my reference w/in my bible):

Disclosure #1: I am not typically a big fan of, what I call, “cherry picking” bible verses. I feel the context of the message behind the verse is missed, when one verse is pulled out of a chapter in the bible. To me, it’s like reading one sentence from a novel and thinking you know what the entire chapter is about. With that said, for the purpose of this particular exercise, I followed the directions. Which are as follows: Read the following Scriptures and, in your own words, write what each says about God’s sovereignty.

Disclosure #2: I wrote my thoughts down, the moment I completed the readings. I have not gone back and altered any of the writing. No fixing of grammar, no streamlining of sentences, no perfecting of meaning behind my thoughts. This is in the moment representation of what was passing through my mind, and heart, in the process of completing the assignment at hand. I challenge you, if you are interested, in doing the same exercise. Read the passage, and then write down all that comes to you in that moment.  

1 Chronicles 29:11-12 (pg. 646)
11 Yours, O Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the majesty and the splendor for everything in heaven and earth is yours. Yours, O Lord, is the kingdom; you are exalted as head over all. 12 Wealth and honor come from you; you are the ruler of all things. In your hands are strength and power to exalt and give strength to all.

My thoughts: God is the ultimate in everything. Nothing happens without it being His choice, even if He chooses to do nothing. Nothing worth having can be gained without God willing it to be so. He has created everything that we know to be honest, beautiful, and fair. By realizing God’s authority, we have access to all things that come from God, by God alone.

Daniel 4:35 (pg. 1376)
All the peoples of the earth are regarded as nothing. He does as he pleases with the powers of heaven and the peoples of the earth. No one can hold back his hand or say to him: “What have you done?”

My thoughts: God reports to NO ONE. God asks for no permission. He has the first, and last, say in everything. God has the ultimate in authority. 

Daniel 5:21 (pg.1378)
He was driven away from people and given the mind of an animal; he lived with the wild donkeys and ate grass like cattle; and his body was drenched with the dew of heaven, until he acknowledged that the Most High God is sovereign over the kingdoms of men and sets over them anyone he wishes.

My thoughts: This is about Belshazzar’s rebellious actions toward God: he took things from God’s temple and used them, disregarding God’s authority. God condemned Belshazzar for this act, sending him out into the wilderness until he became like a wild animal, and stayed so until he recognized and understood God as the sovereign being He is, and that Belshazzar was not above, or equal to God. It is important for us to remember that nothing is greater than God. Not our wants, not our struggles, not ourselves. When we relent and understand that God is The creator of the universe, then we are in a position to honor and worship Him accordingly.

Psalm 115:3 (pg. 950)
Our God is in heaven; he does whatever pleases him.

My thoughts: Because God has always been, and always will be, because He has created everything we know, and those things we have no understanding of, because He is the reason we have a choice, God does as He chooses. Even if in His choice, He does nothing and allows us to choose free will. In giving us free will, He has given us a choice to live as we please. We can choose to follow God or not, but it is His choice to allow us to choose to seek Him out and come to Him.

Psalm 86:10 (pg. 918)
For you are great and do marvelous deeds, you alone are God.

My thoughts: No matter what happens within our daily lives, God is constant. He is always. He is forever. He is the greatest. He is unwavering. If we will ourselves to give our lives over to God, He will not fail us. He will give us what is best for us, because what is best for us is best for God. God is the one and only in granting us a blessed life full of love and joy and peace. All glory belongs to Him for this very reason: without God, nothing would be, and without God, nothing has any worth, including ourselves. Our worth comes from the connection we build with God, and in allowing God to use that connection for His purposes. 
 ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
My next post for the prayer study will be God's Sovereignty, Part 2, appearing next week.
It will include the remainder of Day 2's assignments. 
I broke this up into two parts, because there is so much information. 

For credit purposes, the Prayer Study I am using is: 
Live A Praying Life, New and Revised Anniversary Addition 
Jennifer Kennedy Dean ~ 
This is not an endorsement. This just happens to be the prayer study I am using, and I have decided to share my study experience, here on The Paisley Butterfly

My Bible: Life Application Study Bible, New International Version ~ 
Why I like this bible: There are extensive notes on the verses. Each page has more notes:bible verse ratio. 

Here is a link to an online bible -- there are other online bibles out there, this one just happens to be the one I use most. 

Again, listing my bible references is not for the purpose of endorsement, but an effort to appropriate credit to materials used.


  1. Dear PB - - Your thoughts show depth and spiritual maturity. I appreciate the opportunity to share in someone else's insights into The Word. Thank you for opening your heart up to your readers.

    1. I cannot even begin to express what it means to me that you have shared your thoughts! I feel so vulnerable and exposed in revealing my inner spiritual growth and understanding. Reading this positive response reminds me this process is not just for my benefit! Thank you for your comment :)