Too often we find ourselves in troubling times. This is the lot of the human experience, yet for believers in Jesus Christ, these troubling times are not without hope. This truth has brought me to the Songs of Ascent that we see in the Book of Psalms. These were sung by the pilgrims on their way up to the temple at Jerusalem for the feasts and, I believe, are helpful for our journey through this brief, but important, life here on earth.
Every day we are faced with situations in our life when the only resource we have is prayer. The problem is that instead of supernatural prayer, we try in vain to solve problems using measly human means. We quarrel among each other. We emotionally anguish inside. And all the while, Satan roams about looking to devour our very souls. We see that this only compels the believer to resort to God alone for our delivery.
Distress as mentioned in Psalm 120 is used by the Holy Spirit to stir us to pray. Only when the Holy Spirit initiates prayer will it be effective. Now, remember the time and manner of answering our prayers are in God’s sovereign hand. But coupled with the truth that God will always do what is best for His children, we know that the certainty of relief is no doubt unfailing.
Besides prayer, our responsibility as believers is to seek peace. Part of the measly human means we look to for deliverance in times of distress is our own tongue. No doubt, spend a few minutes on cable news in the evening, and you will find talking heads firing wicked darts at each other until it makes you sick to watch any longer. We should be warned against falling into any of the sins of the tongue. What can we gain from slinging mud? Only dirty faces. Scripture is quite clear about slanderers. We are not to associate with or participate in this behavior.
Good men love peace, pray for it, pursue it, and will give anything for it. Romans 12:18 teaches us of the marks of the true Christian when Paul says, “If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.” Most men love strife. We must labor to overcome evil with good. Let us labor to tame our tongue when we find ourselves in a disagreement. We must quietly plead for peace and copy the psalmist when he says, “I am for peace.” It is a hard, but worthy, cause to be longsuffering with others. If God can be patient, surely it should be our goal as well as we imitate Him.
Through all the trials and distresses of this life, our God is there to deliver us. The Almighty sustains us through it all. His everlasting arms are strong enough and His mercies rich enough to deliver us from the most trying of times and disputes we may encounter. In your quiet time today, acknowledge Him in all His ways and wonder at His divine deliverance.
When I study the prayers of the Apostles I see a couple consistent themes that run through their petitions. One no doubt in the prayers of Paul especially is his thankfulness for his brothers and sisters in Christ. He regularly calls them saints, which means “holy ones”. Paul recognizes they have been set apart according to God’s love. What would happen in the church today if we referred to one another as saints more often? And really meant it! Another prayer is that the believers would know and understand God’s Word in order to know Him more. There is a serious lack of knowledge of God’s attributes and His character. That is one of the main reason I started writing this blog. I want us to wonder at God’s nature and character. The Apostles wanted the follower’s of Christ to live righteously and bring glory and honor always to Jesus Christ not because of what He can do for us but because of who He is. How do we do that today? We study the Bible in a way of understanding the entire theme of every chapter and verse is pointing us to Jesus Christ and the redemption of those He saves by the power of His blood and atoning work on the Cross. This takes time and consistent prayer asking God to illuminate to us the truths of His Word.
As I study 1 Thessalonians 3 we see the prayer of Paul for the Church, We can learn some very practical lessons on how to love and comfort one another in the local body of believers God has placed us. First, we can find joy that our brothers and sisters are growing in the faith. Especially when those young in the faith are walking in truth. This helps me see God’s work in people’s lives which leads me to worship God and rejoice with thanksgiving. Secondly, it leads me to prayer. Paul prayed night and day with energy that God would complete the work that He had started in all our brothers and sisters in Christ. None of us have reached our full potential in the Lord. We will all continue to be sanctified as we walk out this life here on earth. Thirdly, we should all have that desire to live in unity with other Christians. Through difficult times we should be there for one another and hold one another accountable. Trusting the difficult situations in our lives to God is made easier when we walk with others that have the Holy Spirit residing in them. And finally, it reminds me to love. In light of the fact that God loved the world and sent His Son to die for human sin, even my sin before I was a believer. What a gift, and we are reminded not to just love other believers but to love ALL people. Someday He is coming again for all His saints, let us pray as Paul has, that there would be no grounds of accusation because of unholiness in our lives. Pursue peace, do good, be patient, pray, and show consideration with honor to All those you come in contact with today.
Having just come through another year of the Together for the Gospel Conference, I am reminded how imperative, glorious, beautiful, true, satisfying, transforming, good, fulfilling, and joyous the Good News of Jesus Christ is. Good news is not something we are hearing much of today. Christian, we have a reality that is different and greater than most of the world. My question to everyone reading this is why do we not make much of this Good News? Why do we not wonder at the Gospel? I want to hit some highlights from the conference this year in a hope that it will be as encouraging to you as it was for me. And not only will we be in awe of it. We will want to share it too!
The first encouragement is that because of faith in the Gospel, we are “in Christ.” Therefore, we should seek things that are above and not the things of this world. In this time when we feel as if we have no control in our lives, we need to think on the awesome, sovereign power of Jesus. Understand that you are a citizen of heaven and that you are a child of God.
Secondly, King Jesus came to suffer for us on the cross. Because of the cross in which Jesus drank the cup of God’s wrath, we are saved from an eternity apart from His love. There is no other political or military leader who can deliver us eternally from God’s judgment. There is no earthly leader who can bring the hope we see in the life, death, burial, and resurrection of our King Jesus.
Our third encouragement comes in the glory displayed in the Gospel. Through the Gospel message, we see more clearly who God is. We are reminded that God never changes. He does not need us, yet over and over again through history, He saves His people. Who are we that God would save us, and not only save us, but use us in His ministry? He created everything out of nothing, yet He cares for the minutest of details in our lives.
In the Gospel, we also see the beauty of the triune God on display. We see God’s love for His creation in full affect. We see Christ actively laying His life down for those in all of history who would believe. Then we see the beauty of freedom from our sin and ourselves. There can be no greater encouraging truth to meditate on today for sinners than that of freedom in Christ.
Finally, the most powerful truth for me expounded by Pastor Kevin DeYoung was the never-failing, never-changing, all-surpassing goodness of God. He reminds us that we see God’s goodness in His creation; in His providence; and, of course, the redemption of His people. Let us wonder at this Good News not only today but every day for all of eternity!
If you have read this far and have never heard the Gospel message, please send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. I would love to share more with you of who God is and why, as sinners, we need Him to save us from eternal punishment and to a blessed hope. He is calling all to repent and believe in the person and work of His Son Jesus Christ.
As we approach Easter in the year 2020, I think we would all agree that our day-to-day lives have been turned upside down. No sports; no dining out; no gathering with friends; and most upsetting, no assembling together with believers. We have tried our best to stay connected. Whether it is social media or Zoom meetings, it is just not the same. And yet, while all those things are troubling, I believe the most unsettling thing about this whole situation is the uncertainty of it all. We don’t know when this quarantine will be over, we can’t be sure of just how many people are becoming infected and sick, and most alarming to us all is the fact that many of these situations end in death. Like never before, Americans are being confronted with death in real time. Like a stock market ticker on any news feed in the world, you can find a graphic showing us the mortality rate of COVID-19. Is anyone like me and shutters when that number goes up knowing that that is not a statistic but a mom, dad, sister, or brother?
That being said, we know that for the human condition, the mortality rate is 100%. So today for believers, we hold firm to the living hope of the resurrection. The Lord continues to bring 1 Peter 1:3 to my mind in this time. “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to His great mercy, He has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.”
I say to you today with certainty that the resurrection of Jesus Christ is absolutely the best-attested fact in ancient history. We can praise God just as the Psalmist does, “Blessed be the Lord, for He has heard the voice of my pleas for mercy.” Our God relates to us as a father, and we should praise Him for that. What a helpful salve for broken hearts in this time of uncertainty and fear. God brought about a new birth through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. Our hope is living through the power of this resurrection. God has secured new spiritual life through this resurrection. We now have a renewed relationship with the Almighty God. This side of heaven I don’t think we will understand what that fully means, but God’s Word tells us that it lasts forever, it is without stain, and it will never be diminished. Today let us wonder at our living hope that comes from a living, resurrected Christ!
Just recently coming through the Thanksgiving holiday it is easy to be mindful of the goodness of God. We are reminded of the blessings God has bestowed upon us over the previous year. I don’t know about your local church but here at Liberty we have an annual praise dinner and this year we listened to testimonies of God’s goodness from our people. We heard stories of how God worked in the life of one of our college students; directing them to ministry. We heard of God’s healing power in the life of a man that was losing blood faster than they could put it in him with little to no chance of survival. We heard the praises of a mother for her new born child they never thought would come. And those were only the praises we heard in front of the record crowd that had gathered; there were numerous other praises that rang out from table to table as we reflected on God and His goodness. The question was raised however if God had not done all these seemingly impossible things would He still be good?
Of course, we know that God is good all the time. In the past I have talked about His immutability, His never-ending love, His sovereignty, His infinitude, His wisdom, and other attributes for us to wonder at; but although He is great in all these things we need to be constantly reminded that what we are dealing with is a good God. God can be loved and trusted because He is good. It is so hard to explain the goodness of God in a blog but when we look at His goodness we see that it boils down to basically three moral attributes; His holiness, His righteousness, and His justice. Let’s wonder at these characteristics of God that make Him truly good.
There are so many ways to describe God’s goodness. I have tried to help us think on these three qualities that really encompass so many other attributes as a jumping off point. Prayerfully when we think of the goodness of God we remember His holiness, righteousness, and justice and we desire to emulate Him in these areas. I encourage you today to spend some time alone wondering at the goodness of God!
What brings you the most joy as a believer in God? His mercy? His love? Perhaps His justice? In a world that changes so rapidly, we all need a constant that we can be fixed on. The Lord is an anchor in the storms of our life. It brings me great joy to know that the Lord of my life is never changing.
All of His attributes we have wondered at over the past year will never end. His love never fails, He is sovereign in all things, His wisdom is matchless, God will never leave me nor forsake me, He has no beginning or end, and His compassion surpasses all! We should all be amazed at His immutability. Let’s look at 3 verses that remind us that our God does not change.
Like my most recent blog concerning God’s infinitude, when I look
at the sovereignty of God, this attribute can be just as mind
boggling. God rules the universe with total control and supreme
power. He is free from anything or anyone externally exerting
control over Him. He is free to do what He knows is best at all
times. For some of us, this is a hard concept to grasp. We believe
we are in control. In some way this is true. We do have a volitional
will that God has granted us to make choices, and God holds us
responsible for our choices. But make no mistake about it. God is
in control of everything that happens.
Many times in our lives we suffer, and when we do, we can often
think poorly about God’s decision-making. When we look around
at the world, we see tremendous devastation every day. It seems
like mass chaos at times. Just looking at the news headlines, we
see world leaders come and go daily, we see billions in poverty,
and we see relationships torn apart for no apparent reason. After
seeing these things, you would tend to conclude that God is good
sometimes and He is cruel other times.
As Christians, our words can sound shallow when we simply say
that God is sovereign; this is all for the best. But in all reality, that is
so true. As humans, we want a God that is manageable, but that is
simply not our call. God does not need our permission for
anything. We cannot ever fully explain this with our human
thinking, but scripture is very clear. Isaiah 45:6-7 says this: That
people may know, from the rising of the sun and from the west, that
there is none besides me; I am the Lord and there is no other. I form
light and create darkness; I make well-being and I create calamity; I
am the Lord who does all things.
The Lord has put all the evidence out there for us to see and know
that He rules over all things. In this scripture, we see the nation of
Israel that is questioning God’s plan for them, and God has sent the
prophet Isaiah to set them straight. As we look at verse 7, it is hard
for us to see that an all-powerful God who no doubt loves us does
not keep us from suffering. As a matter of fact, not only does He
not keep us from it, He creates it! Ugh, what a proverbial punch in
the gut. That fact is so difficult for us as Christ followers to
understand. I know that I often feel as if I have to defend God
when bad things happen. This is where I remember the words of
R.C. Sproul when he says, “God does not need me.” And He
definitely does not need me to defend Him. The mystery for us is
that God has created a world in which we have the ability to
For example, in Joshua 24:15, Joshua calls upon Israel to choose
this day whom you will serve. Yet we have an Adonai Yahweh that
has unlimited control over the universe. The only answer I can
come up with is the answer that scripture gives. Romans 8:28 says,
And we know that all things work for good to them that love God, to
them who are called according to his purpose. I trust that when
difficulty comes, I will come out more like my Savior Jesus Christ if
I am willing to face these troubles in submission to my sovereign
As I continue my blog series to wonder at who God is, I can’t help but think this is where I should have started. God is infinite and has no limits. While this may be a doctrine that impacts all of the others, it is definitely the hardest for us as humans to wrap our brain around. We are infinite beings for sure, yet we were created. We had a beginning. God had no beginning and has no end.
I remember staring up at the night sky as a child and asking myself, where does this stop? We can only see so much of the known universe with our human eyes. We can see about 6,000 stars with the naked eye, which is compared to 10-15 billion light years worth of stars that the Hubble Space telescope can see. I would explain that in miles, but there are too many zeros needed for a 500-word blog! Either way it is extremely mind boggling to ponder God’s infinitude. This staggers even the most mature Christian minds. And since God is infinite, everything else about Him must be infinite.
Romans 11:36 says, For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen. Everything begins and ends with God. He is the amen. The question is, do we believe that? Does it ever frustrate you that you don’t know all that God knows? In the Holman New Testament Commentary, it says, “In truth, no one can make a claim on God for anything since no one except God owns anything. As one contemporary preacher once said, We are change in God’s pocket for Him to spend as He pleases.” This is what makes God God. The creatures must remain dependent on the Creator. We owe everything we have to our Creator.
So what do you give someone who owns everything? This is something I struggle with here on earth as well! Every year at this time around Father’s Day, I attempt to find the best gift for my earthly father, but if you know my dad, if he wants something, he just goes out and gets it. So the question is, what do you get a man who has everything? As a side note, somehow my sisters always seem to find something amazing, but I, on the other hand, end up getting him a lame gift card. At the end of the day, I believe he just wants us kids to recognize him and honor him.
So how do you acknowledge and honor the infinite God of the universe? The one who formed you in your mother’s womb, the one who hung the stars, the one who sustains the universe? We must worship Him with all our heart, soul, and mind. And we must recognize His mercy, which He demonstrated by offering His Son Jesus Christ so that all who believed might be saved. After all, His riches are unsearchable. All God’s truths, all His blessings, all that He is and has we are unworthy to share. Let us be humble and honest with ourselves -- there is nothing that God needs that we can offer. He is the Great I Am!
“What comes to our mind when we think about God is the most important thing about us.” A.W. Tozer said this in his book The Knowledge of the Holy. So my question to you today is what comes to your mind when you think about God? There are so many amazing attributes of God that could come to mind. Lately, for me when I think about God it has been His wisdom that has caused me to stop in amazement and wonder. So what is wisdom? We throw that word around a lot in our Christian circles don’t we? According to Webster’s Dictionary, wisdom is knowledge of what is true and right coupled with just judgment as to action. While that is a pretty good definition I really like how Alistair Begg defines wisdom. He says wisdom is, “knowing how to live God’s way in God’s world.”
There are always areas in our life that we need to learn and grow. Wisdom is just one such area, but think about this, God does not need to increase in wisdom. Complete wisdom is found only in Him. Knowing what to do and how to act all the time is something that only He can do. We have all encountered many circumstances in life that we look back on and say, man I wish I would have known that before it happened. In many cases it would have changed the way we handle situations. In certain areas of our life these are situations that build over years and years.
Job 9:4 says, “His wisdom is profound, and His power is vast.”Imagine not only being omnipotent but couple that with omniscience and you have the divine character of God. This should not only fill us with wonder but it should also help us to put our complete faith and trust in the only being in the universe with such attributes. God’s wisdom is always busy and it never fails. Even at times when we think He is not paying attention He knows what we need. In times of sorrow, despair, depression, shame, or guilt He knows what the answer is. Many of us try to figure God out and we continue to frustrate ourselves. We can’t know everything because we are not God. In the book “Knowing God” by JI Packer he gives a perfect example. As we read in 1 John 4 the scripture says that God is love. We take that to mean that we are going to live a trouble free life. And hence that if we have any pain or suffering in our life then that indicates either God’s wisdom, power or both has failed. We then conclude that either God does not care or He does not exist. This of course is a mistake. It was never God’s intention to keep a fallen world happy.
In God’s infinite wisdom He did not say we would be without troubled times. His goal was always to have those who belong to Him love Him and praise Him with all our heart, mind, and soul. We are to bring Him glory always in everything we do. If you are a child of God today I challenge you to wonder in His wisdom. He has a plan for you, He has every detail worked out, I am basking in that truth today and prayerfully I will bask in it tomorrow even if it hurts!
It amazes me how unfaithful the human race can be. We go through life fluttering from one thing to the next. We put our faith in a thousand different things every week. Our culture is conditioning us to be ok with change if for no other reason than change itself.
Our God is faithful; He is unchanging. The author of Deuteronomy says, “Know therefore that your God is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love Him and keep His commandments, to a thousand generations.” The book of Deuteronomy is all about remembering. The key Hebrew word “zawkar,” meaning “remember,” is used 18 times. Even the meaning of the word “Deuteronomy” means “second law” or “second giving of the law.” In other words, God did not change. He reminds His people over and over in the New and Old Testaments of who He is.
So, who is He?
Today, in the cold and snowy Indiana winter, there is sunshine because God is faithful. In the turmoil of a culture that kills and hates one another, God is merciful. I wonder at God’s faithfulness in this very moment! But I know, Lord, I need you. Help me continue to be amazed at who You are and how much You love me.