Friday, August 31, 2012
Thursday, August 30, 2012
We cannot presently define God. We cannot know what He is. I suspect this will always be the case as God forever remains God, and we forever remain ourselves. Certainly, our Lord has drawn breathtakingly near to those who trust in the Lord Jesus, but not so near that we become Him. Nor does He become us.
“O LORD God… there is none like Thee, neither is there any God beside Thee” (II Samuel 7:22).
Early in its existence, the human race embraced the devilish lie that “ye shall be as gods”
(Genesis 3:5). The deadly error infused our flesh with the same deception that long ago began with Lucifer. We believe we can be more than God created us to be.
“Thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north” (Isaiah 14:13-14). I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High.
The darkness of Satan became humanity’s darkness when Adam and Eve believed his lie. “The god of this world hath blinded the minds of them that believe not” (II Corinthians 4:4). Such deception manifests itself in innumerable expressions of error, with pride being perhaps our greatest delusion. Again, the grave notion pervades our flesh that we can “be as gods,” leading us to believe we should be able to fulfill our own desires and control our destiny. We possess no capacity for Divinity, however, leading to blindness and frustration. “If a man thinketh himself to be something when he is nothing, he deceiveth himself” (Galatians 6:3).
Unto such a race of the delusional, God provides the gift of a Bible that tells us countless wonders about Himself, ourselves, creation, and glories of time and eternity. It does not include, however, a definition or explanation of its Author. It does not tell us what He is because, by definition, the proud need to be humbled. In this case, Scripture calls us to respond to One who will tell us much about Himself in order to draw us into His light. He will not tell us all, however. He will not tell us what He is.
We likely could not understand or survive a definition anyway. “No man can see Me and live” (Exodus 30:20). Even if we could, our Lord would likely withhold the information because we so desperately need to learn the foundational reality of our existence, namely, that God is God and there is no other (including and especially ourselves). I believe this truth to be perhaps the first light that must shine forth into our hearts. Indeed, the salvation in which we receive relationship with God apart from any work or effort on our part plainly reveals our complete helplessness to help ourselves. How can we be gods when we cannot save ourselves from the pit of sin into which our original fathers fell (and in which we all freely and individually participate)? We cannot, and freely given forgiveness and relationship with One whom we cannot define establishes us in the proper Creator/creation recognition of who God is, and who we are (and who we are not).
What is God? The fact that we cannot know, and that we know we cannot know should thrill our hearts with wonder. There is and will always be something, Someone, greater than ourselves who beckons us to come and see some new facet of His ineffable glory. Just as a child knows deeply within that his parents must be smarter, stronger and more capable than he is himself, so were our hearts made to find their joy in the God whose mystery fills our being with light every bit as much as His illumination. Yes, the unanswerable question of “What is God?” provides the first light of who He is, and who we are. There is no more blessed truth whereby our hearts discover peace both now and forevermore.
In our next consideration, we will address the challenge of accepting God as God, and ourselves as His dependent creatures.
“Put them in fear, O LORD: that the nations may know themselves to be but men.”(Psalm 9:20)
“Thou art God alone.”(Psalm 86:10)
“The King of kings, and Lord of lords, who only hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto; whom no man hath seen, nor can see: to whom be honor and power everlasting. Amen.”(I Timothy 6:16).
Wednesday, August 29, 2012
Tuesday, August 28, 2012
Part 1 -- “What Is God?”
What is God? The question suggests that we seek to define Him.
This is highly problematic because we normally define things by comparison with other things, and to a lesser degree, by contrast.
For example, the question, “What is a bear?” might begin with the response that a bear is an animal. This leads to familiar reasoning as we consider other creatures known as animals. Animals are multicellular, mobile, possess internal organs for the purpose of digestion of food and production of energy. They tend to procreate by sexual reproduction (although not always), and they feed on other living things. These facts, among countless others, define animals for us, and thus begin to provide some framework of understanding the nature and definition of bears.
The availability of comparisons also provides contrasts. We might further our definition of bears by considering them in juxtaposition with other non-bear realities. Bears are not fish. They are not trees. They are not, generally speaking, weak and defenseless creatures. Again, countless other features and characteristics antithetical to the nature of bears help us to discover a working definition of this creature interesting to consider, although not so interesting to encounter!
A working definition of God, conversely, does not allow for the type of definition possible for bears, or for any other created entity. The Psalmist and the prophet unite to provide the reason for this difference.
“O God, who is like unto Thee?... There is none like unto Thee, o Lord!” (Psalm 71:19; Jeremiah 10:6).
God exists in His own kingdom, phylum, class and order, as it were. He cannot be compared with anything else, and thus, we cannot define Him by utilizing our normal conceptualmethodology. Contrast does not help us either since we possess no comparative means of defining God. Simply considering that He is not a fish does not enlighten us because the understanding of what He is not still leaves us with nothing with which we can compare Him.
An apparent intellectual dilemma confronts us. We cannot define God. We cannot answer the question, “What is God?” The Bible never provides specific light in this matter. It speaks of the Lord’s existence, His nature, His characteristics, His ways, His actions, and the internal workings of His infinite heart and mind. However, Scripture never seeks to offer to us a working definition of God. There is none, at least not for our finite minds. Thus, we find ourselves at the precipice of the greatest mystery our minds will ever ponder. We exist by the determination of One who, rightly considered, causes us to honestly confess, “I don’t know what He is!” Or even more, “Icannot know what He is!”
To confirm, God appears in the first verse of Scripture with no explanation or definition of Himself. Genesis merely records His original creative activity.
“In the beginning, God created the heaven and earth” (Genesis 1:1).
This abrupt entrance of God in the Bible, given without explanation or definition, tells us something about ourselves, namely, that we possess no capability to fully understand our Maker’s essence. Certainly, the Bible tells us much about countless other truths that describe the living God. We even find ourselves called into living and personal relationship with Him through the Lord Jesus Christ. Never, however, do the writers of Scripture address the question of essence. Never do they define God. Again, this seems to present a dilemma. Rightly received and interpreted, however, this Biblical omission shines perhaps the brightly light of all concerning our glorious Creator, Sustainer, and Savior. We will consider this illumination in our next essay.
“The King of kings, and Lord of lords, who only hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto; whom no man hath seen, nor can see: to whom be honor and power everlasting. Amen.”(I Timothy 6:16).
Monday, August 27, 2012
Relationship with God, rightly known and experienced, necessarily involves frequent experiences of awe, fascination, and wonder. Indeed, too many days without some experience of the transcendent nature of Christianity’s great promise – the living presence of God with and within us - hinders the most devoted believer from experiencing the Christian life as our Heavenly Father means it to be. Perhaps most importantly, the Lord Jesus Christ suffered and died a lonely death on the cross of Calvary to provide for us the perpetual reality of an earthly life lived by Heavenly means. How can we comfortably live as merely ourselves when such Love has made the trusting heart into the very scene of the Most High God?
“I will dwell in them and walk in them” (II Corinthians 6:16).
In days to come, we will consider together the great questions that lead us to immerse ourselves in the wonder of the Divine and human united in Christ, and now revealed in us by the Holy Spirit. Five questions will guide our wondering, as it were.
What is God?
Who is God?
Where is God?
When Is God?
Why is God?
A long eternity will not suffice in our full discovery of the Biblical answers to these questions. The Spirit of God nevertheless beckons us to come and see glories that will thrill our hearts in both the now and the forever. In days to come, we will seek to mine at least a bit of the gold presently available through the Word of God, the Spirit of God, and the church of God. Even the smallest portion of gold dust unearthed in so sublime a quest can fill and fulfill our hearts with the wonder that causes our lives to glimmer with the light of His light, and the life of His life. May our Lord lead and illuminate us as we seek to discover together new facets of “the unsearchable riches of Christ.
“Thou hast beset me behind and before, and laid Thine hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high, I cannot attain unto it.”(Psalm 139:5-6)
Friday, August 24, 2012
While we often allow ourselves to be distracted by the world, the devil, and the flesh, nothing ever deters our Lord from the perfection of His devotion to us. This was true during His earthly life, when “He steadfastly set His face to go to Jerusalem,” where a cross to be suffered for our sake awaited Him (Luke9:51). It is also true in His heavenly life, wherein “He ever liveth to make intercession for them” (Hebrews 7:25). Moreover, “He which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day the day of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 1:6).
A primary aspect of God’s faithfulness involves this perfect capacity for undistracted attention to His purposes in our lives. “The Lord thinketh upon me” declared David of God’s unwavering attention directed toward all of His trusting children (Psalm 40:17). Never must we get God’s attention when seeking His fellowship or aid. A fixed gaze and determined Heart and Mind look upon us from Heaven. “The eyes of the Lord are upon the righteous, and His ears are open unto their cry” (Psalm 34:17).
“Awake to righteousness” (I Corinthians 15:34). I find that remembering the truth of God’s attentiveness often snaps me out of my own frequent distraction from Him. Recalling His gaze upon me helps to redirect my “looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith” (Hebrews 12:2). Indeed, if God so loves us that looks upon us with unwavering devotion, the trusting heart will inevitably seek to requite His faithfulness. This moment offers such opportunity. May we look into the Eyes, as it were, that ever and forever look upon us with perfect attention to our well being and conformity to the image of Christ. Yes, our God is undistracted.
“The Lord looketh from Heaven; He beholdeth all the sons of men.”(Psalm 33:13)
Thursday, August 23, 2012
The more we discover and embrace the Biblical truth that our faithfulness is fruit, the more we will focus the eyes of our heart on the Vine that infuses us with His life.
“I am the Vine, ye are the branches” (John 15:5).
Born again believers in the Lord Jesus Christ do not become more devoted by determining to become more devoted. We rather determine to “behold as in a glass the glory of the Lord,” leading to our being “changed into the same image, from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord” (II Corinthians 3:18). The tributary of our faithfulness flows from the River of Christ, which itself proceeds from the Ocean of His Father and our Father. “I live by the Father… “God sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him” (I John 4:9). The Holy Spirit reveals in us the faithfulness of the Son to the Father as we lay aside deluded human efforts in order to apprehend the power of dynamic Divine effort. “God hath sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying Abba, Father” (Galatians 4:6).
No believer travels far down the path of righteousness before discovering that we can no more independently walk in its daunting way than we could have embarked upon the path to begin with. “As ye have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in Him” (Colossians 2:6). Whatever happened in those first twinkling moments of being birthed into the Light of God must continue to happen in this life and forevermore. We must “look unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith” (Hebrews 12:2). We must “have no confidence in the flesh,” and we must “grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ” (Philippians 3:3; II Peter3:18).
After mixing more metaphors than one essay should tolerate, we return to our original illustration. Faithfulness is fruit. Christ is the Root, the Vine, and the beloved Subject of His Father’s devoted care. We are the branches upon which the fruit of the Holy Spirit buds, blossoms and bears as we remember and affirm the corollary Biblical truths that “without Me ye can do nothing,” and “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me” (John 15:5; Philippians4:13).
“The fruit of the Spirit is faith.”(Galatians 5:22)“The remnant… shall again take root downward and bear fruit upward.”(Isaiah 37:31
Wednesday, August 22, 2012
For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light” (Matthew 11:29-30).
He shall glorify Me” (John 16:13-14).
Tuesday, August 21, 2012
Monday, August 20, 2012
“Continuing instant in prayer” (Romans 12:12).
The Apostle Paul commands that born again believers be always ready for prayer, or as today’s title indicates, we pray “at the drop of a heart.”
Certainly we cherish and require our private times of devotion in which we ferret ourselves away to seek God in His Word, and in expressing our hearts to Him. No less than the Lord Jesus Christ spent such time with His Father – “It came to pass in those days, that He went out into a mountain to pray” (Luke6:12). The Holy Spirit will doubtless lead believers to the same privilege and gift of private communion with God.
However, we must be careful that we do not miss the greater gift of prayer anywhere and everywhere, about anything and everything. The Gospel of the Lord Jesus offers to us the permanent and abiding presence of God. “I am with you always (Matthew28:20). While we may be able to more intensely focus and concentrate in the private place of prayer, the truth of the matter is that our Lord is no more with us there than along the busy avenues of our hectic lives. Thus, we need not wait to pray until we occupy a particular place or posture. We communicate with our Lord at the drop of a heart, as it were, being ready to “continue instant in prayer.”
“The woman saith unto Him, Sir, I perceive that Thou art a prophet. Our fathers worshipped in this mountain; and Ye say that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship. Jesus saith unto her, Woman, believe Me, the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father…. the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship Him” (John 4:19-23).
When I first became a believer, I was taught that private times of communion with God would lead to continual communion with Him. I did not find this to be the case. I discovered rather that viewing prayer as an anywhere and everywhere opportunity leads to far greater likelihood that private devotional times will be desired and practiced. I had reversed the order, so to speak, and thereby limited my experience of the pervasive gift of grace provided through the Lord Jesus. The more Biblical understanding of “continuing instant in prayer,” or of “prayer, at the drop of a heart,” makes relationship with God the continually living experience He means it to be. Our Savior suffered and died to provide so great a gift. May we believe and live in such a manner as to appreciate the blessedness of God’s abiding presence and desire to commune with us anywhere and everywhere, and at anytime and all the time.
“Pray without ceasing.”(I Thessalonians 5:17)
Friday, August 17, 2012
Thursday, August 16, 2012
Wednesday, August 15, 2012
“But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but My Father only” (Matthew 24:36).
This offers a different view of our Savior than we normally consider. He was and is God. However, He was and is man. As such, the Lord Jesus voluntarily took upon Himself a limitation that should fill us with wonder and loving appreciation. He didn’t know everything during His life on the earth, and since He will forever retain His humanity, the same may be true in eternity.
“He hath put all things under His feet. But when He saith, all things are put under Him, it is manifest that He is excepted, which did put all things under Him. And when all things shall be subdued unto Him, then shall the Son also Himself be subject unto Him that put all things under Him, that God may be all in all” (I Corinthians 15:27-28).
We have no frame of reference for such condescension. That a member of the triune Godhead should become man and forever remain man speaks of a truth we will never fully fathom. “Without controversy, great is the mystery of godliness; God was manifest in the flesh” (I Timothy 3:16). The thought that always comes to mind upon this consideration is the sacrifice that must be involved in such humility. For our sakes, the Lord Jesus did not surrender His Divinity. He did, however, take upon Himself the garb of our humanity in full knowledge of the consequences in both time and eternity.
In the Old Testament, an indentured servant was obligated to serve his master for 6 years (Exodus21:2-6). In the seventh year, he could freely leave, with one exception. If he had married during the time of servitude, he could not take his wife and children with him when leaving his master. He must go out alone. He could chose to remain a slave, however, and if he did, his master would pierce the ear of the slave, leaving tangible scars to indicate his permanent indenture. Far more, however, the servant’s love for his master, wife and children shone forth as a shining jewel of his heart’s devotion. “The servant shall plainly say, I love my master, my wife, and my children. I will not go out free” (Exodus 21:5).
Our Savior is this servant. “I will not go out free” declares the Lord Jesus of the limitations taken upon Himself in order to bind Himself unto us forever. “Behold I and the children which God hath given Me” (Hebrews2:13). He bears upon His body the tangible scars of His determination, wounds imprinted by the Father who smote His beloved Son for our sakes. Few considerations will more humble us with heart-filling awe, and few will more instill in us the desire to love this one who so loves us. “I will not go out free.” For you and for me, the Lord Jesus made this sacrifice in time, but far more, He makes this sacrifice forever.
“Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, and took upon Him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: and being found in fashion as a man, He humbled Himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.”(Philippians 2:5-8)
Tuesday, August 14, 2012
Monday, August 13, 2012
Friday, August 10, 2012
Thursday, August 9, 2012
(Frances wrote this for her blog, The Powder Room. I thought you would be blessed by it.)
"Are you at peace?"
This is a question I posed to my husband the other day, even though I knew his answer would be "Yes."
Glen and I love to kayak. There are many times we have paddled into an area of water so still the reflection is like glass. The water seems to be at a perfect standstill --completely peaceful. But in truth it never is.
There is always a current in the river, the water underneath moving and turning, flowing, but without a hint of movement on the surface.
This water is like people I know who are peaceful people. Even though life may throw them a curve now and then, even though they are facing great currents and turmoil, they remain peaceful.
Then there are some Christians whom I don't think of as exactly peacefulpeople. They seem stirred, disturbed, troubled and even in downright crisis.
So the second question I asked my husband was, "If a Christian is not at peace, why is that?" I thought I had a pretty good answer but his was much better than mine:
"To whom sware He that they should not enter into His rest, but to them that believed not? So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief” (Hebrews 3:19).
If we are in turmoil, stirred up, disturbed or troubled as Christians, if we are -- as one person I know says, "in a real crisis", why is that? I think it is probably because there is something somewhere in our lives that we haven't yet or won't yet trust to the authority of the Lord Jesus. Something we just won't take our hands off of to let Him have it.
In our conversation, I told Glen how there are some chores I will let our grandchildren do. Our granddaughter Emma particularly loves dusting (I think she just loves to play with the duster.) There are some chores, though, that I simply cannot trust them to do because I do not believe they will do them well, or do them the way I want them done. Perhaps that is how we are with the Lord sometimes.
Perhaps when we are in turmoil over something, it is because we know we should trust the Lord about it, but we don't want to because we don't want Him to have it lest He do it differently than we want it done! We are wrongly afraid of what He might do with our situation.
There have been so many times in my own life when I had an expectation for an outcome, I just knew how it should all play out. I trusted the Lord during the calamity of it, but it didn't play out at all the way I expected. It turned outinfinitely better than I could have imagined. The times I didn't trust Him and sought to do things my own way, well. . . I'd just rather not talk about those.
When the Lord Jesus was walking on the water to the disciples in the boat, Peter asked the Lord to bid him to come to Him and the Lord Jesus did so. Peter began to walk on the water. Then his sight shifted from the Lord to the waves, he began to be fearful and to sink. He had to cry out to the Lord again, but this time for the Lord to save him. He went from a man of faith to a man of failure; from a man of seeking to a man of sinking, in a matter of seconds.
"And immediately Jesus stretched forth His hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?" (Matthew 14:31)
"Wherefore didst thou doubt?" When we experience turmoil instead of peace, when worry becomes our pillow, we can ask ourselves the same question. Why do we doubt the One who can walk on water and calm the winds and the waves? Why do we question the wisdom of the One who "telleth the number of the stars...calleth them all by their names," (Psalm 147:4)?
In Revelation 19 the Apostle John said, "And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and He that sat upon Him was called Faithful and True... And He hath on His vesture and on His thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS." If God the Father has bestowed the names of "Faithful and True," "King of Kings" and "Lord of Lords" upon the Lord Jesus Christ, then there is one thing we can be completely sure of, we can trust Him with absolutely everything in our lives. Be it big or small, long-term or fleeting, He is trustworthy and He will always be so.
Whatever that thing is in our lives that is threatening to rob our peace, whatever is furrowing our brow and wringing our hands, let us give it to Him at last and forever. He can handle our problems with perfect wisdom and infinite understanding and He wants us to know His peace.
"Peace I leave with you, My peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid."