In the book of James the writer says, “The Lord is full of compassion and mercy. “(5:11) That is true and many verses in Scripture speak of the grace and love of God. But at the same time God is not a pushover. He is a Father. Our problem is that we have lost the true concept of a man and of good father. He is not self indulgent. A father gives of himself sacrificially for the good of his wife and children. At the same time he is firm in the moral and spiritual direction the family is to go. He is a protector, but he is also willing to let his children struggle with difficult tasks, and take some hard knocks. He prays continually for his family that the Lord would protect them physically and spiritually, and that their hearts would be opened more and more to the Lord. If we begin to understand a bit more of the Scriptural picture of man, and of a good father, we will understand more of the nature of our God.
In Mark chapter 2 there is the account of Jesus healing the paralyzed man. But He begins by saying, “Son, your sins are forgiven.”(vs.5) There were some of the Jewish leaders observing this, and they immediately objected. “Why does this fellow talk like that? He’s blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?” And that is exactly the right question. “Who can forgive sins but God alone?” Jesus was revealing Himself to be God. There have been some in recent times who have tried to say that Jesus never claimed to be God. They certainly have not really considered Jesus statements about Himself. It is ultimately the Holy Spirit who has to reveal the truth of Jesus to each heart, but Jesus certainly did claim His identity with God, even to the point of taking the holy name of God for Himself. In John 8:58 He declared “before Abraham was born, I am!”. The “I am” is the most holy name that God gave to Moses when He called him to deliver Israel from bondage. (Exodus 3:14) This Jesus that we worship is truly God. Glory to His holy name.
Statistics have shown that a very high percentage of people believe in god. But god is a very general term. It can mean almost anything. Even the devil is called the god of this world.(2 Corinthians 4:4) The only true God we know has been revealed to us in Jesus Christ. In the very beginning of his Gospel the Apostle John declared “No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is himself God and is in closest relationship with the Father, has made him known.”(1:18) God has created us and wants to be known by us. He is a real and personal being with a plan and purpose for the people of His creation. Yet we are separated from His absolute holiness and perfection as a lump of clay is from the potter.(Jeremiah 18) God can only be known in the person of His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ. Jesus said of Himself, “he who has seen me has seen the Father.”(John 14:9) So we do not worship a god however we might conceive of him, but the only true God who has revealed Himself to us in His Son, Jesus. He is the One who is the center of our life.
Let’s continue a few thought with the 19th Psalm. One can picture David as a shepherd in the fields with his flock having much time to meditate on all nature surrounding him, and at night seeing the heavens filled with stars. He proclaims, “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they reveal knowledge.”(vss.1-2) The Apostle Paul writing to the Roman Christians underlines this same truth. “What may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities–his eternal power and divine nature–have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.”(1:19-20) We go to great lengths to keep God from interfering with modern life, but somehow the mark of His handiwork keeps showing itself. As with David, it should bring us humbly to our knees in worship, and opening ourselves to His revelation.
God boggles my mind! I guess that should not be surprising. Any God worth believing in has got to be infinitely great than the capacity of my mind to comprehend Him. At any rate, when I think about Almighty God, creator of the cosmos, the One who set this planet earth in perfect balance to sustain human life, who has place on earth myriads of marvelous plants and animals, and has made our male and female human bodies in all their astounding complexity, I am amazed at the work of His hand. Even more than this, that this Almighty God has said that He knows and loves each and every one of us, and that He has revealed Himself perfectly to us by taking on our human body in the person of Jesus of Nazareth, I am brought to my knees in awe and worship. We repeat a very simple phrase – God loves you. But there is so much truth and depth in that statement. “For God so loved you that He gave His one and only Son for you, that if you believe in Him you will not perish but have everlasting life.”(John 3:16) This is who you are in God’s sight – a blessed child for Jesus sake. Astounding!
Yesterday I used the phrase “the one true God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” This is important for our understanding when we talk about our Lord. There are many so called gods and lords, and many ways of conceiving of Him, but there is only one right description of the God Christians worship, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. This declares the truth in the way God has revealed Himself to us in His trinitarian nature. We believe in the unity of the one true God who has revealed Himself to us as a creating Father, a redeeming Son, and a sanctifying Spirit. The phrase above only speaks of two persons, but leads us to the Scripture which clearly reveals the third, the Holy Spirit, coming to us from the Father as the Lord’s indwelling presence in the believer. To believe in God is fine, but the only God we know is the God of gracious love who has revealed Himself to us as the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
At our Monday evening Men’s Bible Study we were discussing a couple of questions of what God does in certain situations. We had no answers, and came up against a total mystery. We really don’t like that. Our Yankee ingenuity, problem solving, defeat the bad guy nature doesn’t like to face questions we can’t answer. But, after all, this is God we are talking about. There are many aspects about His divine nature and will that are hidden to us. That is as it must be. If God were no bigger than our human reason He would not be a God worth our trust and worship. (But on the other hand, there are many today that worship there own human reason!) Our God has and does reveal Himself to us in all of the ways that are necessary for our salvation, life, and hope. He has given His greatest revelation in the living person of Jesus Christ. He has shown us amply evidence in Scripture, and in life that makes Him worthy of our complete trust. In all eternity we will not know all there is to know about our gracious God, but what we already know today is the strength and joy of life.
Happy Valentines Day! I hope you have a good day in sharing love for those around you – which is what each day should be. Valentines Day focuses on the aspect of romantic love which is great, but only one expression of the love God has given to mankind. John tells us that God is love, and that we love only because God first loved us.(IJn.4:19) This has always been astounding to me! Almighty God, Creator of the universe has the nature of perfect love, love that reaches out to seek the good of all that He created. As that love comes to us and works in us, we are changed, so that we love others with the same kind of love we have received. God’s love is never selfish, or self serving, but finding the greatest joy in what is good for the one loved. This is true whether it is romantic love, love for a friend, or parent for child. It is not soft and dependent upon emotions, but praying, speaking, and acting for the good of another. You are loved by God with a love that is beyond our human comprehension. We seek to share a small measure of that love with those around us. Happy Valentines Day!
Psalm 73 is a wonderful Psalm of hope and strength. It is clear about the trials and temptations of life that plague us all. Yet the Psalmist’ focus always goes back to his only source of hope. “Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you.” (vs.25) This should be true for us in all times, whether good or bad. If God is our desire, our focus, the longing and hope of our life, then all things take on a different perspective. God takes all life’s situations, and all people we encounter, helping us to deal with them by His cleansing, strengthening, guiding touch. All parts of life look different with God’s hand upon them. “As for me, it is good to be near God. I have made the Sovereign Lord my refuge.” (vs.28)
My flight into Baltimore was delayed getting in last night. There were severe thunder storms in the vicinity that shut the airport down for about an hour and a half. Numerous planes in distant cities, all destined for Baltimore, were unable to take off. Man has the intelligence to carry hundreds of people from one place to another at high rates of speed, as well as devise thousands of other technical marvels. Yet, there is always something that declares to him, “You are not in control. You are not God. I Am.” That is the holy name of God. Yahweh. The Great I Am. (Exodus 3:14) Mankind has been fighting that lesson for millennia, ever since it was first given to Moses. It is time we heard Him speak, humbling ourselves, and seeking His wisdom above our own.