Monday, May 24, 2010

The greatness of God!

There is only One God and He alone is worthy, He alone is great.  Why?  Well, for one; because all other things, beings, and creations are completely and totally dependent on Him for all things.  Dependent on His goodness and His strength.

A comparison should never be made between God and any other creature.  You need to affirm that God, as the infinite and self-existent Creator, He is infinitely above His finite creation.

Psalm 95:3-5 (NASB) - For the Lord is a great God And a great King above all gods,  4 In whose hand are the depths of the earth, The peaks of the mountains are His also.  5 The sea is His, for it was He who made it, And His hands formed the dry land.

God is a great God and a great King.  God proves the infinite greatness of His might and the pre-eminence of His Kingship in that He is the Creator of the whole universe.  It is mentioned in this Psalm that God reigns over all the earth.  His influence is exerted over the highest mountains and the depths of the sea.

This came at a time when people believed that their gods (little g) dwelled on mountain tops and that the underworld was below the waters.  This Psalm deliberately destroys this belief.  God’s power knows no limitations – this is the unshakable foundation of His Salvation for man and the cause for all praise, honor, and glory.

Daniel 9:4-5 (NASB) - I prayed to the Lord my God and confessed and said, “Alas, O Lord, the great and awesome God, who keeps His covenant and loving-kindness for those who love Him and keep His commandments,  5 we have sinned, committed iniquity, acted wickedly and rebelled, even turning aside from Your commandments and ordinances.

The Lord is Great and Awesome!  The word awesome comes from the Hebrew word yare’ (yaw-ray) which means ‘to fear, revere, or be afraid’.  Even the tiniest revelation of God’s greatness and holiness would strike even the most splendid of His creatures with astonishment, reverence, and even terror.  God is awesome, and therefore He is worthy of the greatest reverence.

Psalm 104:1 (NASB) - Bless the Lord, O my soul! O Lord my God, You are very great; You are clothed with splendor and majesty,

The Lord is very Great; He is clothed with Splendor and Majesty.  His splendor and majesty are not something external that He puts on, but are a part of His very being.  Unlike men, God has no need to add something to Himself to enhance the greatness of His beauty.  God is so much greater than any other thing that to add anything to Him would be to diminish Him.

The Psalmist expresses wonder at the greatness and glory of God.  It sums up that whole Psalm.  Here a man sees himself standing before God, to whom he confesses in this prayer the thoughts that fill his soul.  What he sees around him, what he perceives in nature is what he knows about his own origins tell him of the One Mighty God.

Psalm 145:3 (NASB) - Great is the Lord, and highly to be praised, And His greatness is unsearchable.

His greatness is unsearchable.  The word refers to that which is beyond investigation.  A thing that cannot be searched out or measured.  It would be far easier to count the sand on all the shores and deserts of the world, or to number all the stars in space than to measure the greatness of God.

The theme of the whole Psalm is that the everlasting praise of the name of God, who has revealed Himself in all His majesty and unsearchable qualities.

Psalm 77:13 (NASB) - Your way, O God, is holy; What god is great like our God?

God is Holy – unlike all others!

Asaph, the writer of this Psalm, made a conscious decision to turn from his pain and focus his thoughts on the person, works, and wonders of God.  God cannot be compared to any other god or power.  This wondrous God demonstrated His power in a variety of ways, but especially in the redemption of Israel from the bondage of Egypt.

Psalm 86:10 (NASB) - For You are great and do wondrous deeds; You alone are God.

God is great and does wondrous deeds.  He alone is God.

Worship of God is not rooted in our personal circumstances or experiences.  It is founded on His incomparable nature!  We worship Him for who He is!  Not what we want Him to be.  God is incomparably superior to all other gods and He is greater on account of His wondrous deeds.  The only One to whom the name of God can even be applied! 

Friday, May 21, 2010

Still true today...

One of the commentators I enjoy reading is J.F. Strombeck.  Ran across this quote from him the other day that rings all too true today.  Here's the crazy thing.  This quote is from 1940.  How sad that we still struggle with the same problem.

"There is an abundant life, widely advocated these days, but that is restricted entirely to the material and temporal.  A large part of the professing Christian church has, to an amazing extent, become concerned about the abundance of the material and temporal to the exclusion of the spiritual and eternal.  Moral reform, social uplift and economic problems have taken the place of the proclamation of a salvation that God freely offers to sin-cursed human race that is traveling at a terrific speed toward an everlasting separation from Him and all that flows from Him.  Even when the need for salvation is seen and faithfully presented, very often the temporal values derived therefrom, in the form of reformed lives and remade homes, are the most loudly acclaimed, while the spiritual and eternal values that come to the individual are in many, yes, very many, instances seldom mentioned and much less given their primary importance.  The present day emphasis upon lifting the human race out of its low state has largely become one of dealing with temporal values.  God's emphasis, on the other hand, as found in the Bible, is to deal with the problem of human sin and all its consequences on the basis of eternal values.  This is through Salvation.  Social welfare work and all moral reform, however good for the present, do not help men and women beyond the grace, and the grace is not the end of man.  He has an undying soul that goes on and on and on into eternity.  The salvation that God, and He alone, has accomplished through Jesus Christ provides for that undying soul of man and brings it into an unending infinitely glorious and blissful state."

Get out there Christian and PREACH THE GOSPEL!  Pastor, teach your flock to value the person and work of Jesus Christ.  Only through a right estimation of who He is and what He did that they will ever develop a passion for His name and the spreading of it.

2 Timothy 4:1-5 - I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom:  2 preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction.  3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires,  4 and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths.  5 But you, be sober in all things, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.

The perfect will of God

The will of God is perfect because it is founded upon His perfect and most Holy character.  The implications of this truth are far reaching.  His purpose and plan for us is worthy of absolute trust.  We should never lean upon our own understanding or seek to do what is right in our own eyes.

Instead, we ought to trust in God and obey His Word, the Holy Scriptures.  How is the will of God described in Scripture?

Romans 12:2 - And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.

The Greek word for ‘conformed’ is suschematizo (soos.khay.mat.id.zo).  It means ‘to fashion one’s self according to another’s pattern’.  In other words it means bending your mind around His.  Too often we try to force God into our pattern.  Making Him into what we are comfortable with, however, Scripture says for us not to be conformed to this world, but to be transformed!

Psalm 119:36 - Incline my heart to Your testimonies And not to dishonest gain.

Bend my heart to You God!  When was the last time you prayed that way?  Not, God bless me, not even God thank You for what I have, but God incline my heart!  Bend it! Form it to You and not this world.

You see that is the implied opposite there.  If we are seeking God’s will, pleading with Him about our heart, then we are less likely to be found seeking dishonest worldly things.  You see that connection?  Why?  Because He is good and perfect and Holy!

Romans 12:2 then says that we are transformed so that we may prove what the Will of God is.

That which is Good. – Meaning that which is excellent, honorable, agreeable, pleasant, and useful.  Something that brings Godly joy or happiness.

That which is Acceptable. – Meaning that which is pleasing or approved.

Finally, that which is Perfect. – Meaning complete and lacking in nothing.

How should this description motivate us to live a life of obedience to the will of God?

Evaluate your life, how does your obedience to Christ, your walk, line up to what God’s Word says it should be?  Now, listen, disobedience is sin and for the believer that sin was paid for on the cross.  I’m not saying that you aren’t necessarily a believer either.

But a believer should have a Holy-Spirit driven desire to be obedient to the Word of God, because it reveals the Will of God.  It stands to reason then that if there is no desire to be obedient and FOLLOW after Christ, you may need to evaluate whether or not you are truly in the faith at all...

Proverbs 4:23 - Watch over your heart with all diligence, For from it flow the springs of life.

Watch over your heart with ALL diligence, for from it flows the springs of life.

Now, here is something that may interest you.  Turn over to Matthew 7:2.  The same word for transfigured is used to say transformed in Romans 12:2.  It’s not a work we can do, but a work of God!  We are here being called to use the means that God has given for us to be conformed to His will!  Namely prayer and study of His Word.

What, then, is our response to the good, acceptable, and perfect will of God?

Matthew 6:9-10 says we should pray – Not my will be done God, but YOURS.

How do we do the will of God?

Psalm 40:8 - I delight to do Your will, O my God; Your Law is within my heart.”

I delight to do Your will God, why?  BECAUSE Your Law is within my heart.

Ephesians 6:6 - not by way of eye-service, as men-pleasers, but as slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart.

We do the will of God ‘not by way of eyeservice’, which means only working well when being watched, ‘as man-pleasers, but as slaves of Christ, doing the Will of God from the heart.’  Not just legalistic actions, but from the heart.

Jesus demonstrated a correct attitude and response to the will of God?  How do we imitate that?

John 4:32-34 - But He said to them, “I have food to eat that you do not know about.”  33 So the disciples were saying to one another, “No one brought Him anything to eat, did he?”  34 Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me and to accomplish His work.

What sustains us?  God!  Can I just suggest to you that the reason God designed us to need food and water was to be an ever present reminder that we are now self-sufficient.

We rely on food.  We need to look at that and see that we rely on someone for life.  Who?  God, the giver of that food.  What else do we rely on God for?  EVERYTHING!

What sustains Jesus more than food itself?  Doing the will of God! 

John 5:30 - “I can do nothing on My own initiative. As I hear, I judge; and My judgment is just, because I do not seek My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me.

We make decisions and judgments based solely on the Will of God!

God’s will is perfect because God is its Author and its Preserver!

Psalm 19:7-9 – God’s Word is perfect!
Psalm 12:6 – God’s Word is pure!  Refined 7 times, the perfect number)
2 Timothy 3:16-17 – God’s Word is inspired!  Profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness.  Why?

So that we may be adequate, equipped for every good work.

Finally, the Word of God is the primary means through which the will of God is revealed. 

What is our attitude to be to this?

Psalm 119:127-128 – Therefore, I love Your commandments above gold!

God’s Word is not a yoke on us, it is our delight!

Go home and rejoice in the perfect will of God.  Look to His Word and see what it says, then pray that God conform you to it.  Transform you!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

The Kindness of God

You need to understand from the start that it is because of God’s relationship to the Christian through the atoning work of Jesus Christ that you are even able to obey God or express any type of love and worship to Him.

God is not an impersonal being that is incapable of entering into a relationship with others.  God created man so that He might know him and be a recipient of the riches of His goodness.

When man’s relationship with God was broken through sin God sent His own Son in order that the relationship might be restored.

From Genesis to Revelation, the Bible portrays God as the One who desires a relationship with man.  He does not need this relationship to sustain Him in anyway, but He wants it so that He might show His love to us and demonstrate His kindness and goodness for His Glory.

Sin affected Adam’s attitude toward God.  

Genesis 3:8-10 (NASB) - They heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden.  9 Then the Lord God called to the man, and said to him, “Where are you?” 10 He said, “I heard the sound of You in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid myself.”

Once he had been excited for God to come and walk in fellowship with Him in the cool of the day.  But now He hides himself and tries to cover his sin and shame with leaves.  But not even his covering gave him boldness to stand before the Lord.

It was the approach of the Just Judge and it put them into a fearful mode.  But notice how God was coming to them.  He came, just walking.  Not bearing down on them with anger or military might.  He’s walking to them.  It let’s us know something about God’s patience and kindness towards man.  He was already fully aware of what they had done.  He knew they would do it before they did it… before He even created them….

Even though he would have been completely justified in coming with wrath, He didn’t.  He came to them in fellowship to humble and restore them.  Demonstrating that He is slow to anger.

What had been an intimate relationship though is now a fear-filled one.  Not a true Holy fear like Abraham possessed, but a literal terrified fear.

But because God desires a relationship He does not destroy them.  We need to be more mindful of His mercy daily because it clearly reaches far beyond what we can possibly imagine.  How did this terror of God affect their relationship from that point forward?

Genesis 3:23-24 (NASB) - therefore the Lord God sent him out from the garden of Eden, to cultivate the ground from which he was taken.  24 So He drove the man out; and at the east of the garden of Eden He stationed the cherubim and the flaming sword which turned every direction to guard the way to the tree of life.

The communication of God’s upholding Grace and His sustaining Grace has now been removed and Adam became weak.  His relationship with God was lost in closeness and Adam would one day die.

Isaiah 59:1-2 – explains the change in God’s relationship with Adam, from that we can see how that affects and teaches us about our own sin. - Behold, the Lord’s hand is not so short That it cannot save; Nor is His ear so dull That it cannot hear.  2 But your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, And your sins have hidden His face from you so that He does not hear.

Your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God and your sins have hidden His face from you so that He does not hear.

According to Genesis 3:8-9, who sought restoration of this broken relationship after the fall?  It was God.  That speaks volumes about His character and Sovereignty.  We don’t even seek out God in our unregenerate, unsaved state, He seeks us…

Romans 3:10-18 (NASB) - as it is written, “There is none righteous, not even one;  11 There is none who understands, There is none who seeks for God;  12 All have turned aside, together they have become useless; There is none who does good, There is not even one.”  13 “Their throat is an open grave, With their tongues they keep deceiving,” “The poison of asps is under their lips”;  14 “Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness”;  15 “Their feet are swift to shed blood,  16 Destruction and misery are in their paths,  17 And the path of peace they have not known.”  18 “There is no fear of God before their eyes.”

No one does any good at all!  And yet God seeks to redeem us!  He initiates every part of it and He has been doing that ever since the Garden of Eden.

Acts 17:26-27 (NASB) - and He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their habitation,  27 that they would seek God, if perhaps they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us;

Why does God sovereignly determine the times and places in which all men are born and live?  [So] that they would seek God.  He initiates it, salvation, and we respond because His grace is irresistible.

He requests the relationship and no one that He calls, who responds, will be turned away.  I would just leave you with this thought.  Please consider yourself in light of God’s Law (see Exodus 20).  Consider that you have broken His Law, God must punish all Law breakers.   Yet in His abounding love God has sent Jesus to die on the cross, paying once for all the price for sin so that you can be forgiven. 

If you find yourself wondering how you can be saved, Mark 1:15 Jesus says, the time has come… REPENT (Turn from your sin) and BELIEVE the Gospel.  Trust in Christ today and be saved!

Monday, May 17, 2010

Genesis 1:1-8

Genesis 1:1-2 (NASB) – In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.  2 The earth was formless and void, and darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters.

It is an axiomatic truth that God has always existed and was there in the beginning.  Since God was the only One in existence ‘in the beginning’, who better to trust for a record of what occurred but God Himself?

The state of the earth was “formless and void” – this means “not finished in its shape”; uninhabited by creatures.  God will now quickly (in 6 days) adorn His initial creation.  It basically means that the earth was like a giant ball of potter’s clay.

Genesis 1:3 (NASB) - Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light.

Now this is important because here we have the creation of light, but what is displaying the light?  Other than God Himself.  There is no origin for the light.  See this, the earth is dark and void and formless  but God is the light and He chooses to let His light illuminate the earth.  He speaks that His light shine on the earth.  I think this goes beyond merely bringing illumination to the planet and goes far deeper to the fact that God chooses where to allow light and where to allow darkness, all the while keeping in our mind that the light is GREATER than the darkness.

God doesn’t even create the sun or the moon until verse 14.

God creates the light and the light removes the darkness… There’s a picture of the Gospel for you, In John 8:12 – Jesus calls Himself “the light of the world”.  Jesus, being the light, removes the darkness of sin in our hearts so that we may walk in what?  The light!

Elsewhere in scripture God refers to Himself as the light.

Psalm 104:2 (NASB) - Covering Yourself with light as with a cloak, Stretching out heaven like a tent curtain.

Genesis 1:4 (NASB) - God saw that the light was good; and God separated the light from the darkness.

Anytime the word “good” is used it means ‘good for the purpose for which it was created’.  Just like a flathead screwdriver is ‘good’ for the purpose it was made.  A Phillips head can’t turn a flat head screw.

So the light and darkness He had created for His purposes and after examining it God declared it to be good—a powerful term of God’s blessing.  For God to call it good, you can be assured, it WAS.

Genesis 1:5 (NASB) - God called the light day, and the darkness He called night. And there was evening and there was morning, one day.

After the initial creation, God continued to complete His universe.  Once God separated certain things and He named them.  Separating and naming them were acts of dominion and will serve as a pattern for man in a few verses because Adam will name some of God’s creation. 

Here we get to the meaty portion of knowing that the world was created in 6 literal days. 

The Hebrew word used here for day is yom.

You are probably familiar with this Hebrew word if you’ve heard of the Jewish holiday “Yom Kippur”, etc…

One thing you’ll learn the more you study scripture, particularly studying the original languages, and that is that Hebrew and Greek are extremely passionate languages and the English language is not.  In that light, the Hebrew word ‘yom’ or ‘day’ can mean 3 things.

1.)    The light portion of a 24 hour period (daytime) as in Genesis 1:5;14.

2.)    An extended period of time – Genesis 2:4

3.)    The 24 hour period which basically refers to a full rotation of the earth on its axis, called evening and morning.  The Jews counted a day from sunrise to sunrise.  Rather than starting at midnight the way we do.  However, their hours were the same.  1 hour = 60 minutes, etc…

So their day would have started around 5am-6am.

The question then becomes, which use of the word ‘day’ is used here, and how do we know which one it is?

Anytime in the OT you see the word ‘day’ (yom) used with a numerical adjective.  It means 24 hour period.

Always! Everytime! Without fail!

Notice the difference between Genesis 1:5 and the often misunderstood 2 Peter 3:8.

2 Peter 3:8 - But do not let this one fact escape your notice, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like one day.

Here Peter uses the Greek word hemai, which merely meant time as an era.  Not necessarily a literal day.

It means that God is outside of time.  He sees the whole of time, from beginning to end all at once.  We see our little piece of the puzzle, God sees the completed work.  If you read on to verse 9 you see Peter explain further.  2 Peter 3:9 (NASB) - The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.

What’s Peter saying in that passage?  That God is patient, and we should be thankful for that patience.  He’s saying, don’t think that just because God hasn’t erased you over your sin that He has somehow forgotten about it.  He hasn’t, but His loving-kindness and patience directs Him to show you grace so that you have an opportunity to repent and trust Jesus.

Also, note the difference in the way Peter phrases it.  A day is like a thousand years and a thousand years is like a day.  Its an analogy.

The reason that secular dating methods such as carbon dating are so poor and inaccurate is because they fail to recognize that God put them on the earth and created them fully formed.  Perfect.  Adam wasn’t an infant, trees weren’t saplings, and mighty oceans weren’t small streams.

Outside of Genesis 1 the word day (yom) is used 410 times with a numerical reference and every time it is referring to a literal day.

Have you ever stopped to think about why it is that non-Christians attack the meaning of the days of creation and no other place where day is used the same way?  No one questions how long Joshua walked around Jericho (7 days), or how long Jonah was in the belly of the whale (3 days).

Genesis 1:6-8 (NASB) - Then God said, “Let there be an expanse in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters.”  7 God made the expanse, and separated the waters which were below the expanse from the waters which were above the expanse; and it was so.  8 God called the expanse heaven. And there was evening and there was morning, a second day.

So if you’ve been drawing this mental picture of creation so far then you have the earth created.  Just a globe covered in water and space pushed right up to the surface of the waters.  No sky as we know it, clouds, etc. 
Now God speaks again “Let there be…” God creates the sky and what we see as atmosphere.  But look carefully… what does it say happens here?  Separating what?  Separates the waters from the waters.

So now we have water as we know it and apparently waters above the earth.  This seems to be a vaporous blanket covering the earth.  We would probably call it the Ozone layer.  This upper layer of water also plays a part in the Flood that God sends in Genesis 7.  God opens up the skies and pours out this water.

As much as we need to solidify the facts surrounding creation and we are going to get very practical with our study in that we’re going to look at physical evidences of Biblical creation, flood, etc…

But as much as all that we need to see the pictures of the Gospel found in all these different texts. 

Why is that important?  Because that’s the goal of the whole Bible, to Glorify God for ALL His works.

Look at the formless and void earth.  The Hebrew language used to talk about it was equal with talking about an unformed lump of potter’s clay.  Until God intervenes, speaks, its nothing.  Formless.  Void.

Can I submit that possibly the most powerful picture of what happens to us at conversion is found there.  In what He does to the heart of a sinner when He redeems them for His glory.

Look at Isaiah 64:7-8 (NASB) - There is no one who calls on Your name, Who arouses himself to take hold of You; For You have hidden Your face from us And have delivered us into the power of our iniquities.  8 But now, O LORD, You are our Father, We are the clay, and You our potter;

We are helpless prior to conversion… but GOD speaks to us and calls us out of the darkness so that we might be SAVED!  From my favorite Hymn, 'All hail the power of Jesus' name, let angels prostrate fall, bring forth the royal diadem and crown Him Lord of all!'

Friday, May 14, 2010

God is a jealous God?

Exodus 20:3-6 (NASB) - “You shall have no other gods before Me.  4 “You shall not make for yourself an idol, or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth.  5 “You shall not worship them or serve them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, on the third and the fourth generations of those who hate Me,  6 but showing lovingkindness to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.

God was not to be viewed as one among many gods, but as the Only God!

-    No other Gods
-    No idols, (of any kind) that includes pagan idols of Buddha as well as money… cars… houses… sex… alcohol… fame… etc.
-    Even creating an image of the true God in your mind that is contrary to the Bible is idolatry.  Most do this in order to clear the conscience and make God more palatable to them.

Why, view God this way?

v5b - for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, on the third and the fourth generations of those who hate Me,  6 but showing lovingkindness to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.

He is a jealous God.  That is to say that God has a passion and a zeal for the truth that He is the only true God.  Jealous of any rivals.  And because God is perfect, His jealousy cannot be understood as man's jealousy.  Man has no right to be envious of anyone else or anything because we are not the perfect example of anything. 

The Hebrew word ‘visiting’ there means that God comes in divine judgment to those who attempt to supplant Him as God.  However, for those who acknowledge Him in all things, for them He demonstrates loving-kindness.

Mark 12:28-30 (NASB) - One of the scribes came and heard them arguing, and recognizing that He had answered them well, asked Him, “What commandment is the foremost of all?”  29 Jesus answered, “The foremost is, ‘Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God is one Lord;  30 and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’

This statement sums up ALL 10 commandments.  Because if we do this then all else will follow.  Love God and Love People.  If you love God, you’ll love people.  If you don’t then nothing else will matter or help you change your guilty circumstances.

Paul wrote to the Corinthians quoting from Isaiah.  1 Corinthians 2:9 (NASB) - but just as it is written,
“Things which eye has not seen and ear has not heard, And which have not entered the heart of man, All that God has prepared for those who love Him.”

In Ephesians 6:24 he writes that a Christian is one who loves our ‘Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity’.

Christians must be characterized by sincere love.  Sincere love for God is the first mark of a genuine faith.  That is true, not because we can do anything or demonstrate any sort of love or righteousness of our own.  But because of God, because He IS Love and through His Spirit He enables us to love both Him and others!

Romans 5:5 (NASB) - and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.

The love of God ‘has been poured out in our hearts’ (given that you are a born again Christian).  God’s love, poured out on us.  Love, true love, comes from Him and Him alone.  Therefore ALL praise must be given to Him and Him alone for He alone is WORTHY!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

The oneness, eternal nature, and sovereignty of God

Deuteronomy 6:4 (NASB) - “Hear, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord is one!

The Jews refer to this as the Shema.  It’s the first thing that they teach their children.  And it is a right thing to teach.  It’s the implications about what that truly means that the Jews miss.  Because this statement points towards not only the One true God’s existence.  But also that the One True God is unified as God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

Properly translated out this verse in Hebrew says Hear, O Israel ‘Jehovah our Judge is One Jehovah.  This is one of the most important declarations in all of Scripture.

1.) The God whom we serve is Jehovah, a Being Who is infinitely and eternally perfect, self-existent, and self-sufficient.

2.) That He is the One and only living God; HE only is God, and He is One.

This firm belief armed Israel against all idolatry.  As it should us as well.  Does everything we do, everything we stand for, etc… Does it reflect that the Lord is OUR God!  Our ONLY God!

The word used here for ‘one’ means unified.  While Scripture clearly teaches that there is only ONE God, what’s being taught here is that God is unified in His persons.  Trinity God.  Father, Son, and Holy Spirit… perfectly One and perfectly unified.  God in three persons.  So it is a clear indication of the unity of all members of the Trinity.  Jesus said in John 10:30 that He and God are One!  They are one, they are unified!

The word ‘one’ comes from the Hebrew word echad.  So this statement would have signified to them that God is unified in His persons and His judgments.  Only one God in three distinct persons who are working together as a unit to accomplish all that is righteous.

Deuteronomy 4:39 (NASB) - “Know therefore today, and take it to your heart, that the Lord, He is God in heaven above and on the earth below; there is no other.

The Lord, that is Jehovah, which means ‘the existing One’, is God, Jehovah is judge, He is Sovereign in heaven above and on earth.  He is over all things and there is NO OTHER.

It makes total sense then why God goes on in verse 40 to say that because only He is Sovereign… then we should keep His commandments and His statutes.  (His Law)

So God is ONE, He’s unified, and also He is the only True God.

God is also eternal.  He has always existed.  Genesis 1:1 establishes that ‘In the beginning’ there was ‘God’.  This is confirmed in and more of the unity of God is seen John 1:1-3.  John 1:1-3 (NASB) - In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  2 He was in the beginning with God.  3 All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being.

The eternal existence of God is self-explanatory. 

Isaiah 43:10-11 (NASB) - “You are My witnesses,” declares the Lord, “And My servant whom I have chosen, So that you may know and believe Me And understand that I am He. Before Me there was no God formed, And there will be none after Me.  11 “I, even I, am the Lord, And there is no savior besides Me.

Whose witnesses are we?  God’s witnesses.  Whose servants are we?  God’s servants.  Why?  So that you may KNOW and BELIEVE Him.  And understand that He is.  He says of Himself ‘I AM He.’ 

Isaiah 41:4 (NASB) - “Who has performed and accomplished it, Calling forth the generations from the beginning? ‘I, the Lord, am the first, and with the last. I am He.’ ”

v11 – There is NO Savior besides Me!  So who is the Savior?  God!  Who was Christ?  God in the flesh.

What God is establishing about Himself here though is that He is eternal.  Before Him, no gods, after Him, no gods.  Who has always existed?  God.

Isaiah 43:12-14 (NASB) - “It is I who have declared and saved and proclaimed, And there was no strange god among you; So you are My witnesses,” declares the Lord, “And I am God.  13 “Even from eternity I am He, And there is none who can deliver out of My hand; I act and who can reverse it?”

From eternity, I AM HE!  No one can deliver from MY hand.

Lastly, God is the Sovereign Creator of all!

Isaiah 45:18 (NASB) - For thus says the Lord, who created the heavens (He is the God who formed the earth and made it, He established it and did not create it a waste place, but formed it to be inhabited),“I am the Lord, and there is none else.

He is the God who formed the earth and made it.  HE established it and did not create it a waste place, but formed it to be inhabited.

So, God created, formed, and established the earth.  So that He could populate it with us and that through even just creation alone He demonstrates His Sovereignty over all things.

Psalm 19:1 (NASB) - The heavens are telling of the glory of God; And their expanse is declaring the work of His hands.

The gods of the pagans did not create the world.  All these pagan gods swirling around Israel.  They aren’t real and did not create anything.

- He formed the world.  It’s not an unfashioned chaos resulting from a big bang.

- He established it, which is to say He fixed it.

Job 26:7 (NASB) - “He stretches out the north over empty space And hangs the earth on nothing.

He hangs the world on nothing.  In other words, He set the earth’s orbit in space.  Keep in mind that in the case of Job 26:7 that at the time that was written, it was believed that the earth sat on a large animal or a giant.  Around 1500 BC.  Science didn’t discover that the Bible was accurate until 1650.  So, 3100 years later!

He fitted it for use by man to be His witnesses!  Created it merely to demonstrate that He could.  He didn’t need it or us, but we certainly need and rely on Him.  We were created solely to bring Him Glory!

The Westminster Catechism wisely states it this way, 1. What is the chief end of man?
A. Man’s chief end is to glorify God,[1] and to enjoy him forever.[2]

[1] Psalm 86. Bow down thine ear, O LORD, hear me: for I am poor and needy. Preserve my soul; for I am holy: O thou my God, save thy servant that trusteth in thee. Be merciful unto me, O Lord: for I cry unto thee daily. Rejoice the soul of thy servant: for unto thee, O Lord, do I lift up my soul. For thou, Lord, art good, and ready to forgive; and plenteous in mercy unto all them that call upon thee. Give ear, O LORD, unto my prayer; and attend to the voice of my supplications. In the day of my trouble I will call upon thee: for thou wilt answer me. Among the gods there is none like unto thee, O Lord; neither are there any works like unto thy works. All nations whom thou hast made shall come and worship before thee, O Lord; and shall glorify thy name. For thou art great, and doest wondrous things: thou art God alone. Teach me thy way, O LORD; I will walk in thy truth: unite my heart to fear thy name. I will praise thee, O Lord my God, with all my heart: and I will glorify thy name for evermore. For great is thy mercy toward me: and thou hast delivered my soul from the lowest hell. O God, the proud are risen against me, and the assemblies of violent men have sought after my soul; and have not set thee before them. But thou, O Lord, art a God full of compassion, and gracious, longsuffering, and plenteous in mercy and truth. O turn unto me, and have mercy upon me; give thy strength unto thy servant, and save the son of thine handmaid. Show me a token for good; that they which hate me may see it, and be ashamed: because thou, LORD, hast holpen me, and comforted me. Isaiah 60:21. Thy people also shall be all righteous: they shall inherit the land for ever, the branch of my planting, the work of my hands, that I may be glorified. Romans 11:36. For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen. 1 Corinthians 6:20; 10:31. For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's.... Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God. Revelation 4:11. Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.
 
[2] Psalm 16:5-11. The LORD is the portion of mine inheritance and of my cup: thou maintainest my lot. The lines are fallen unto me in pleasant places; yea, I have a goodly heritage. I will bless the LORD, who hath given me counsel: my reins also instruct me in the night seasons. I have set the LORD always before me: because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved. Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoiceth: my flesh also shall rest in hope. For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell; neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption. Thou wilt show me the path of life: in thy presence is fullness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore. Psalm 144:15. Happy is that people, that is in such a case: yea, happy is that people, whose God is the LORD. Isaiah 12:2. Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and not be afraid: for the LORD JEHOVAH is my strength and my song; he also is become my salvation. Luke 2:10. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. Philippians 4:4. Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice. Revelation 21:3-4. And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God. And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

The unchanging faithfulness of God

Clearly a short blog post cannot begin to fully unpack the amazing nature of God.  Let alone His faithfulness.  With that in mind, this is not intended to be a thorough handling of the subject, rather these are some thoughts on God's faithfulness taken from Romans 3:3-6.

Romans 3:3 What then? If some did not believe, their unbelief will not nullify the faithfulness of God, will it?  God chose Israel, but all throughout their history what does Israel do?  They rebel.  For example, in Exodus 3, God has heard the cries of the Israelites, groaning under the merciless hands of the Egyptians.  He hears their cries for deliverance.  As you know, God uses Moses to ultimately deliver them and lead them out.  But when you get to Exodus 14 and Pharaoh is pursuing them, they complain that they would have rather died in Egypt.  But again God delivers them.  This is where He parts the Red Sea.

Then in the wilderness, God provided for them, yet they groaned and complained… Do you see a trend?  I do.  GOD IS FAITHFUL!  As Jews, he tells them, you’re history of constantly rejecting God testifies first hand that God is faithful!

The Jews are a greatly privileged people; honored by God.  But these things are not saving facts for them.  None of that guarantees them salvation.  God will always uphold His promises.  Always without fail.

Psalm 90:1-2 - Lord, You have been our dwelling place in all generations.  2 Before the mountains were born Or You gave birth to the earth and the world, Even from everlasting to everlasting, You are God.

Even when we demonstrate unbelief, and others reject Him totally.  Still God is faithful.  God has been the hope, the same hope and only hope for all man in all generations.  He is both the starting point and the focal point of all things.  As a Christian, the outlook for our lives isn’t rooted in this world.  On the contrary, it is rooted in and oriented around God’s eternal being!

There is a wonder and awe that is aroused in the human heart at the pondering of His eternal being.  So, Paul says, GOD IS FAITHFUL!  The fact that He revealed so much and blessed the Jew so much proves God’s faithfulness.

Even if some of the Jews didn’t believe the Word of God and certainly some didn’t.  God will be faithful to what He has promised.  Our unbelief does not alter reality.  Out belief doesn’t alter reality.  Reality is reality.  Now that sounds like such a simple statement.  You are probably thinking, well of course reality is reality.  But you’d be amazed at how many college students are being taught these days, in the post-modern school of thought, that everyone can be right.  That there truth is there truth if they believe it to be and no one can tell anyone else that they are wrong.  That’s absurd.

If I believe with all my heart that I can walk through walls and I take off and leap head first into a brick wall.  My belief doesn’t alter the reality.  If I tried that, I’d be in serious trouble.  On a more sober thought, thinking you can do whatever you want, take all the dangerous chances you want, simply because you are young and feel invincible.  You don’t think anything could ever happen to you… your belief doesn’t change the reality that death has no respect of age.  Your time to die will come just like every one else who has ever lived.

So will the unbelief of some nullify the faithfulness of God?  4 May it never be! Rather, let God be found true, though every man be found a liar, as it is written,

Don’t even entertain the thought that God is unfaithful.  It is not God who is a liar, but EVERY man. 

Jeremiah 17:9 - “The heart is more deceitful than all else And is desperately sick; Who can understand it?

Psalm 62:9 - Men of low degree are only vanity and men of rank are a lie; In the balances they go up; They are together lighter than breath.

Since God is true and every man is a liar, then He is justified in whatever He does.  In this context, what’s being referred to is God’s justification of the judgment of the Jews.

God is true, man is deceitful… so  “That You may be justified in Your words, And prevail when You are judged.”  The implication there is that God will uphold and preserve His own honor in this world, regardless of the sins of men.

Romans 3:5 But if our unrighteousness demonstrates the righteousness of God, what shall we say? The God who inflicts wrath is not unrighteous, is He? (I am speaking in human terms.)  6 May it never be! For otherwise, how will God judge the world?

Just in case they were confused at Paul’s words, he poses a question that is more rhetorical than anything.  He says, if our unrighteousness demonstrates God’s righteousness, then is God unrighteous in His wrath?  NO!  No, God is not unrighteous at all, not even the least little bit.  He is fully righteous and full justified.

If He weren’t, then how would He judge this world?  What standard would He use that would be perfect and right if not the standard of His own Divine Holiness?  He could not be the Just Judge if He Himself were not just.  Because He judges according to truth and HE is truth (John 14:6).


Soli deo Gloria!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

In anyone strays...thoughts on James 5:19-20

James 5:19 - My brethren, if any among you strays from the truth and one turns him back,

If someone strays from the truth.  Either from Christ, who is the Truth, by deserting Him, forsaking His ways, or embracing things that contradict God’s Word and clear Biblical teaching.

He opens is by presenting a scenario.  If anyone strays… So, if this happens… and then he says and one turns him back.  There are implications between those two phrases.  Let me give you an illustration to try and get your on the same page with me here if you already aren’t.  If you are in a busy hectic place…shopping, six flags, sea world… something like that.  If you are in one of those places with small children you keep up with them do you not?  You watch them intently.  And if you look up and one of them has wandered off.  They’ve gotten out of your sight or they haven’t come back from where you sent them and something happens to get you worried about them.  Do you sit calmly and wait for them to find their way back to you?

No, that would be absolutely ridiculous.  You go search for that child.  You are concerned for their well-being.  You don’t want them to get injured or abducted or assaulted.  You search for them and if you’ve been in that situation where you don’t know, if even for a split second, where your child is you don’t just wander around looking for them.  You scream and run and search and do everything you have to do to get that child back to you.  True?

‘If anyone among you strays’ and he has in mind here a straying or wandering away from a very specific thing.  That being… ‘the truth’.  If anyone strays from the truth, ‘and one turns him back’.  The implication is that there is a call to action.  To turn one back we have to pursue them.  He doesn’t make a case for waiting for them to wander back or hoping they do or anything else.  For us to turn them back means we go get them.

This is a call for Christians to pursue those who are straying right now.  We know who they are, each of us has folks in mind I’m sure.  We can think back to over the years and come up with folks who may fall into this category.  We are to go get those straying and not just invite them in and wait.  We don’t only invite them and wait.  We go to them with the message of the Gospel and reason with them to be reconciled to the God who gave them life.  And if they don’t come then we continue to pray and plead with God to break their sin-hardened hearts.

We labor towards bringing them back.  This is very evangelistic in nature.  Going after the ones who are professors of the faith but are giving less and less evidence of bring possessors of the faith.  Saving faith, that only comes from Jesus Christ, produces fruits.

Do you know those people?  I want you to be mentally making a list of those folks now and keep them on your heart for a minute here.  Do you know folks like that?  They used to talk about Honoring Christ but now they live in an overt sin giving little to no thought to God?  Those who, from all outward indications, have failed the test of whether they are in the faith?  I say outward signs because ultimately we can’t judge their heart.

We need to be concerned for those folks… why?  Above the fact that we are commanded to do it, we do it because it is the loving and merciful thing to do.

2 Peter 2:20 - For if, after they have escaped the defilements of the world by the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and are overcome, the last state has become worse for them than the first.

For those who know the truth and reject it, their judgment will be more harsh because they didn’t just die dead in their sins, they died having heard of the Redeemer who could spare them and they spit on Him rather than embracing Him as Lord.

You need to have compassion for the lost and straying.  If you don’t, then my friend you have never taken a long enough look at the cross of Christ.  You’ve never considered the depth of the interceding work done on your behalf by the Holy Spirit DAILY.

Have you not given thought to the mercy shown to you?  Don’t you desperately desire to see God pour out that same mercy on others around you?

There is an urgency folks.  An urgency to evangelize the lost and dying world.  We must!  How cold must a heart have grown to not care!?!  How ashamed of Christ must you be to not speak of Him?  It is the ultimate purpose of God!  To save souls and in doing so Glorify Himself!  Jesus came to seek and to save that which was lost. 

I want to ask you, have you ever marveled at your salvation?  Looked at sin and seen it for what it is.  Seen it as the creature, us, rebelling against the Creator God!  Coming from our desire to be independent of God and become like God.  Coming from our desire to steal the glory from the only One to whom it is due.

Have you marveled at His amazing Mercy and Grace?  Nothing can compare to His mercy.  Nothing can compare to His Grace, Nothing can compare to His Love!  Have you thought on those things?

James 5:20 - let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.
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