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This is a picture of an Oxydendrum…and not just any Oxydendrum…this is the Oxydendrum that will be planted in my yard. Now let me be clear: I’ve never been one to do much yard work…most of my life I dodged yard work! However, over the past few years, that has begun to change…and my appreciation for the work has increased as well along the way.

My appreciation started when I bought a push reel mower & had to power the mower myself…it makes you enjoy a freshly mowed lawn all the more! Then it increased as I spent hours making sure that my lawn and the flowers around my lawn got the proper amount of moisture from the various sprinklers spread through the yard. And now this…an Oxydendrum is being planted in my front yard…and I’m oddly excited about it.

Why have I become so excited about all this? Why does it produce such enthusiasm in my life? I have been asking myself these questions a lot this spring…why? And I think I’ve landed at 2 answers: instant gratification & new beginnings.

I get a lot of joy from all this yard activity because you get to see the results of your work relatively quickly. I mow, then after mowing…voila…a yard that looks different than it had 45 minutes ago! There are few endeavors in life that get you that kind of instant gratification! You see weeds growing, you pull those weeds, and tada…weeds are gone & you feel great about it! So instant gratification is one reason…but I want to focus on the other reason.

I love the concept of new beginnings. I love that right now this tree is so small & yet has so much potential. I love that depending on which direction you face the lead growth of the tree right now…it will make a difference down the road. I love that I’ve spent time googling with this tree might look like years down the road…here’s a picture to help you get as excited as I am…

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And all this thinking on new beginnings and potential in what’s to come makes you begin to think about the other parts of your life. Most specifically for me, I’ve been thinking about my habits. So take a moment to consider this: What are habits that you could start now that may not initially seem like much…but over time would make a massive difference in your life?

Maybe it is changing your morning routine, maybe it is spending 23 fewer minutes watching a show on Netflix, maybe it’s taking a walk during your break at work, maybe it’s putting your phone on the mantle when you get home in order to spend time with the people in your home…this is the time for new beginnings. This is the time to see the potential of these small changes & begin the change now

So I’m going to watch an Oxydendrum grow, and I’m going to continue to examine my own habits…and I hope you do the same (now go plant a tree & think).

Last week, I wrote about resting in the sovereignty of God. One of my hopes was that as you arrived at the end of the writing, you would be asking yourself, “HOW DO I DO THAT? HOW DO I REST IN GOD & HIS SOVEREIGNTY?”

Well, if that’s you…I think that’s a great question! And here’s my response to that question, let’s start by looking at what’s said in Ephesians 2:1-3,

And you were dead in the trespasses & sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience—among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body & the mind, & were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.

Here’s what we realize from these verses: you can’t do it on your own. You will never drift into resting in God or His sovereignty. And why is that? Because of who we are: dead in sin, followers that rebel, living for ourselves, headed for certain destruction. So we quickly realize, we won’t do this ourselves, but then we keep reading in Ephesians 2:4-9,

But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—& raised us up with him & seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.

After hearing & recognizing the severity of the news in v. 1-3…then you get these great words, “even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved…”

So how do we rest in God’s sovereignty? It only happens by being alive with Christ! The only people who will ever rest in God’s sovereignty, who will find peace, or comfort, or joy in the sovereignty of God…are those who are in Christ…those who have been saved through faith in Christ, those who’ve staked their ultimate hope on the person & work of Jesus Christ alone. And those who are in Christ are never in Christ because of their own brilliance…but by sheer grace alone. Look at the passage again. Being in Christ is because of God’s love, accomplished by God’s work, done for God’s glory, given by God alone. And because of this news of rescuing grace, look at Ephesians 2:10,

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

We just said that the only people who will rest in God’s sovereignty are those who are saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ. And that on its own is wonderful news…but there’s more…we come to see that those who rest in God’s sovereignty find that God’s sovereignty delivers them real rest! Because of God’s sovereign grace…Christian: you can walk, you can live freely & confidently for the glory of God. For the one in Christ…you can know that you are made for this purpose: God’s glory.

You can find real, lasting rest in the sovereignty of God.

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From my experience, one of the most reassuring doctrines in all of Christianity is that God is sovereign.

Now that statement might strike you as odd…and you wouldn’t be alone…there are many that don’t think of comfort & God’s sovereignty as going together in any way. But I’m not sure you can find real comfort, real rest in anything BUT the sovereignty of God.

If I try to find rest in my work, I’ll never rest…I’ll constantly wonder if my work measures up. If I try to find rest in my accomplishments, I’ll never rest…I’ll know that there are others who’ve done more. If I try to find rest in my status, I’ll never rest…there is always someone who is more likable, agreeable, pleasant, has more followers on social media. You can go on from here…but know that if you try to find comfort in yourself, it won’t last…it will be exhausting & ultimately it will be defeating.

And when you arrive at that point, find your lasting rest in the sovereignty of God. Work hard, strive for excellence, engage the world…but rest assured, God is sovereign. Throughout the Bible, we can see that God is glorious, God is excellent, God will accomplish His purposes. A great passage to help begin to explore this truth is Isaiah 46:9-10,

“Remember the former things of old; for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done, saying, “My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose…”

So rest in the sovereignty of God. And how do we do that? That’s coming up next, thanks for reading.
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