God

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God’s Benefits Package

You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.Jeremiah 29:13

What an unusual world in which we live! Science is advancing at a blistering pace, technology is evolving so rapidly that new products are obsolete by the time they are available in the market. Once isolated viruses are advancing at unimaginable speeds, and new medical procedures are available to you and me which would have been called magic five years ago.

Truly, the world we called home five years ago is nothing but a memory; it bears little resemblance to the one we live in today. Mercurial social definitions, strange weather patterns, and the unraveling of the delicate balance among geo-political powers stagger our minds. Just the thought that vehicle manufacturing would grind to a halt because of the lack of $2.00 integrated circuits.

Speaking of grinding to a halt, church attendance has significantly contracted. This pulling away is affecting Christians, Jews, and Muslims! According to a Gallup Poll:

  • In 2020, 47% of U.S. adults belonged to a church, synagogue, or mosque
  • Down more than 20 points from the turn of the century
  • Change primarily due to rise in Americans with no religious preference

It would seem justifiable for people to throw up their arms and say, “Enough, already!” But, if you are a true Christian, all of these changes and fearful cries can’t move us. We walk in joy because our obedience to Jesus promises joy. (John 15:11) We walk in peace because Jesus promised us peace. (John 14:27). We walk in love because this is Christ’s command. (John 13:34)

How can we be moved by the world? God lives in us. (John 17:20-21) So, here we stand, as guideposts, pointing to the world the way to salvation and all of its benefits. We are ambassadors for Jesus, representing Him in the affairs of humanity. We are love, not lustful love, but the love that comes from God. We are confident, we are bold, we are humble, we are knowledgable, self-controlled, steadfast, and godly. We show brotherly affection and love. (2 Peter 1:5-8)

We have the fruit of the Holy Spirit at work in us. These are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. (Galatians 5:22-23)

Google; paupers. Facebook; wannabes. Amazon; amateurs. We have the most comprehensive benefits package that has ever existed. So, let’s consider today’s verse.

You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.” Jeremiah 29:13

There is no circumstance or situation that we are in bondage to – except that which we bound ourselves to. In a moment, a mere heartbeat, we can find God when we seek Him with all of our hearts. How can life be better than to be known by the creator of everything? He knows us by name. He knows how many hairs are on our heads. He goes beyond knowing us; He loves us. And I’ve not touched on being saved from God’s coming wrath and the promise of eternal life with Jesus. Let’s celebrate and shout for joy for what God does for us!

Image by Sam Williams from Pixabay


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Tree Tribe tree Trunk tree Bark thicker Stem root

All Creation Shares a Common Root

I recently watched a documentary about linguistic archeology. This is the study of discovering the branches of a language and finding the root language from which our modern languages developed. Here’s an interesting quote from Dr. Paul Geggarty1, an expert in archaeology and Language:

Human societies don’t just come from nowhere, and nor do the languages we speak. And unlike the archaeological record, our languages are still living lineages, inherited directly from how our ancestors spoke. Romanian is a direct linguistic legacy of Rome, for instance — and so too are Italian, Spanish, French, and various others. Whereas English is most definitely not.

This characteristic found in languages is a good example for us. It reminds us that Jesus created everything, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible. (Colossians 1:15-18); everything has its root in Jesus, and all things are held together by Him.

This isn’t a stretch for God’s Word. John wrote concerning Jesus that “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” (John 1:1) and in the Creation account in Genesis, we find: And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light.” (Genesis 1:3) Notice the words, “And God said.” These words testify to Christ’s work of creation.

Now consider something C.S. Lewis said, “Birds, flowers, trees, and mankind have all sprung from the same root, which is the word coming forth from the Father.” So, we can say with great confidence that humanity (something visible) and the laws of physics (something invisible) share a common root, Jesus Christ, the Word of God.

When anyone creates something, an artist creates a painting, or a welder welds a joint on an oil pipeline; the creator leaves an invisible part of themselves in everything they create. This is true with Jesus, also.

So, we can say with confidence that birds, flowers, trees, and mankind are not that different since we all share the same root. Does this mean that Jesus created evil? Did he devise lying, cheating, and stealing? Of course not, although many people have difficulty with why evil exists in the world.

Allow me to prove that Jesus did not create evil. Jesus is the root of things both visible and invisible but consider this. Can a lie exist without truth? No, a lie is a perversion of truth, but if the truth doesn’t exist then the lie is irrational. Let’s consider cheating. Can cheating someone exist without objective morality? Of course not. If there are no moral laws to follow then it would be completely impossible to cheat. This same argument is true with stealing. Without an objective moral law, instead of subjective morality, stealing cannot exist. Only when there is a moral law against theft can stealing exist.

Now consider evil. Can evil exist without objective morality? The answer is “no.” Something cannot be evil unless something holy exists. Holiness can exist without evil, but not the other way around. All things that the Bible calls out as wrong are declared wrong because they did not grow from the root.

Evil, lying, cheating, stealing, coveting, and so forth are not from the root. They have not grown from the root; they are not derived from Christ Jesus. Evil and its many devices come from a created being that is “hell bent” on perverting the holy things of God.

So why do bad things happen to good people? Why is there evil in the world? How can a good God allow ethnic genocide? None of these evils are part of creation, their lineage cannot be traced back to Jesus the root. God has revealed His will and what is holy in His Scriptures. We know the fruit of the root. But we are all born sons and daughters of Adam. Our flesh is as hungry for sin as we get when we see Reese’s® Pieces commercial.

In this life, God has called us to be reunited with His creation, to once again be a branch from His root. Through Christ’s sacrifice, we can be free of this world. This world is an artificial, ungodly system; it has nothing to do with planet earth. To serve Jesus, He has given us promises and armor to do His will in this world, a world which we are in but not of. (John 15:19)

Image by Peter H from Pixabay 

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1: Archaeology and Language | FifteenEightyFour | Cambridge University Press. 17 Mar. 2014, accessed on July 6, 2022

The Beam of Light

“Though you have not seen him [Jesus], you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.”

1 Peter 1:8-9 

A Sunbeam in a Dark Room

Have you ever noticed how a sunbeam shining past a window curtain dominates a dark room? It usually happens when you are trying to “sleep in.” You’ve got a day off from work and no commitments, so you intend to revel in the ambrosia of sleep without demands. But, then, the sun finds a gap in the only window which sunlight can creep through and glare straight into your eyes.

No matter how you try, you can’t find a way to position your body away from that beam of light. Finally, you look straight into the beam, and when you do, you see the beauty of the day; blue sky, puffy clouds, and the sun dominate your view, filling you with awe and wonder at the beauty you see.

C.S. Lewis wrote a similar but exceedingly better analogy about a beam of light shining through a crack in a wall of an old garage. He made a valuable observation. We can either be the person that contemplates the shaft of light or be the person in the beam of light, immersed in the light and enjoying God.

Marinade in the Holy Spirit

Lewis called observing the beam Contemplation and immersion in the beam Enjoyment. For Christians, we need Contemplation – reading God’s Word, listening to a good sermon, listening to an edifying Christian podcast. Contemplation teaches us the tools we need to be effective in the Body of Christ and often leads us into the beam; into the presence of God.

Nevertheless, acquiring spiritual tools is not an end in itself. The purpose of tools is to use them, so that’s where we need to spend the majority of our time. We need to “marinade” in the Holy Spirit, having the Holy Spirit on us, in us, around us, and shining out of us; being in the Light of God is Enjoyment. That is where we need to spend most of our time – in the beam!

Westminster Shorter Catechism has this Q&A:

Q: What is the chief end of man? 1
A: Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.

Living in the Beam

There is a considerable difference between seeing the beam and being in it. Before salvation, all we could do was see the beam. We could contemplate it. We’d see the beam, occasionally, in someone. We might contemplate the beam on Easter and Christmas and at funerals. The saved and the unsaved can contemplate the beam, but only a child of God can enter the beam. Contemplation is vital, but Enjoyment is where we should live.


Photo by Kaique Rocha, https://www.pexels.com/photo/person-holding-brown-leaf-290617/, accessed on July 2, 2022

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1: Heidelberg Catechism, accessed on July 2, 2022

Photo Album Old Pictures Photos Memories Album

Release from Old Memories 

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.”  

2 Corinthians 5:17

Perhaps it’s just me, but sometimes, I have flashbacks from my past, memories of things I’ve done that were selfish, socially clumsy, or countless other mistakes I’ve made. These memories only last long enough to send me down mental rabbit trails that are spiritually unfruitful. For a long time, I fought against them, seeing them as a spiritual attack. But recently the Holy Spirit showed me how to deal with them. 

I discovered these flashbacks are a two-fold blessing from God. First, the first time an old memory attacks me, I take it to Jesus. If it was a sin, then I confess it and ask Christ for forgiveness. Then I thank God for His mercy and grace that permeates this memory. Mercy, from my Father, is enough to provide a way for me to be forgiven and grace for His great love to extinguish the power of that flashback. Once it’s dealt with, it no longer has power over me. I am free indeed from that memory’s condemnation. 

The second blessing is that, from God’s grace, each flashback shows me my growth in Jesus. That old memory is not the event itself but only its imprint in our minds. It is not the wave but the imprint of the wave on the sand.  

By God’s mercy, His forgiveness drains the power of old memories. Old memories provide me with “one time” to confess and ask for forgiveness; after that, I simply enjoy my new nature. By God’s grace, I see my growth as a follower of Jesus.

These flashbacks become blessings instead of condemnations through God’s mercy and grace. That’s just how good God is to me. His mercy and grace are equally available to you. Let’s all advance with God instead of wasting His grace by putting ourselves under condemnation.


Image by congerdesign from Pixabay 

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Chevrolet Truck Blue Hot Rod Vehicle Old Retro

Would We Council God?

Murals

When I was a young man, I had a good friend that was a naturally gifted artist. His specialty was painting murals. I never ceased to be amazed when he’d start sketching out a picture on a roll of butcher block paper that ran the length of a room.

Perhaps the fascinating aspect of his work on murals was that he didn’t start in one corner and work from right to left or left to right. He typically started somewhere entirely unexpected. Maybe he began with the nose of the central character, or he might start by sketching the fender of a car. It made perfect sense to him, but no sense to me.

Image if I’d watched him start a mural and then said, “Tim, I think you are drawing the nose too big.” Ignoring me, Tim continued to draw, and soon I discovered that he’d been drawing the rear fender of an old Chevy pickup!

Council God

Christ’s apostles did this kind of thing several times. Take, for example, when two of the three apostles of Christ’s inner circle suggested to Jesus that He kill some people.

When James and John saw this, they said to Jesus, “Lord, should we call down fire from heaven to burn them up?”

Luke 9:54

Perhaps, we should recall when His disciples designated themselves as crowd control and blocked parents from bringing their children to Jesus to be blessed.

One day some parents brought their children to Jesus so he could lay his hands on them and pray for them. But the disciples scolded the parents for bothering him.

Matthew 19:13

We mustn’t forget when the Apostle Peter decided to give Jesus some “sound council.”

Jesus turned to Peter and said, “Get away from me, Satan! You are a dangerous trap to me. You are seeing things merely from a human point of view, not from God’s.”

Matthew 16:23

The Big Picture

We should consider ourselves before we rush to judge those that laid the foundation for the Church[1]. Do we ever tell God what He needs to do? Have we ever been deeply hurt because we felt that God failed us? Has fear ever won out in our actions?

Here’s the thing, we may look at our life and see what looks like a big nose, but that’s only because we don’t know the picture in which God has included us. Later, maybe only after we are in heaven, we will see God’s mural. That nose wasn’t a nose; it was the rear fender of a classic Chevy truck. Let’s not rush to judge God’s actions.

We can be confident that nothing God does to us, through us, or by us is done so without love, for “We know how much God loves us, and we have put our trust in his love. God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them.” (1 John 4:16)

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  1. Together, we are his house, built on the foundation of the apostles and the prophets. And the cornerstone is Christ Jesus himself. Ephesians 2:20  ↩

Who Am I?

It is the Holy Spirit in us that makes us helpful to others. It is our imperfections (not sin) that make us relatable to others. Consider what the Apostle Paul wrote:

13 You know it was because of a bodily ailment that I preached the gospel to you at first, 14 and though my condition was a trial to you, you did not scorn or despise me, but received me as an angel of God, as Christ Jesus.

Galatians 4:13-14

Moving on from the fourth chapter to the fifth chapter, Paul wrote:

If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.

Galatians 5:25

Who Am I?

It is God living in me that makes me valuable to others. Who am I that I would think for a moment that I can guard, encourage, deliver, bless, or in any way benefit someone else from my flesh? I can barely put my socks on in the morning. But when God lives in us, He not only will use us to affect change on the behalf of others, but He will make it clear that the glory that falls upon the ones to which we minister is from God alone.

It is clear that you and I do not possess gems of wisdom but only the sameness of others, things that all can relate to. We may need glasses to read the news or new tires for our car or to pass on a lunch get-to-gather because this month’s expenses are greater than expected. It is this comfort of commonality that people learn that we all put our pants on one leg at a time.

It is in our shared likeness with others that we avoid being off-putting and gain being relatable. And it is in the words of God that come from our lips that proclaim the Truth and Glory of God that feeds people, rescues people, and asks of them to change their direction.

38 And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

Acts 2:38

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Gramma and grandson making a cake

God’s Still Crazy About You

A little boy is telling his grandma how “everything” is going wrong.  School, family problems, bullies, and so forth. Meanwhile, Grandma is baking a cake. She asks her grandson if he would like a snack, which of course he does. “Here, have some cooking oil.” “Yuck!” says the boy. “How about a couple of raw eggs? “ “Gross, Grandma!” “Would you like some flour then or maybe baking soda?” “Grandma, those are all yucky!”

Grandma smiles and replies: “Yes, all those things seem bad all by themselves. But when they are put together in the right way, they make a wonderfully delicious cake! God works the same way.  Many times, we wonder why he would let us go through such challenging times.  But God knows that when He puts these things all in His order, they always work for good!  We must trust Him and, eventually, they will all make something wonderful!”

Just think:

  • God is Crazy About You.
  • If God had a refrigerator, your picture would be on it.
  • If He had a wallet, your photo would be in it.
  • He sends you flowers every spring and a sunrise every morning.
  • Whenever you want to talk, He’ll listen.
  • He can live anywhere in the universe, and He chose your heart.
  • What about the Christmas gift He sent you in Bethlehem, not to mention that Friday at Calvary?

Face it, God’s crazy about you!


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seeing eye dog

Why is God Hard to See?

“Daddy, if God loves us, why does He hide?” I asked my dad when I was young. I don’t remember Dad’s answer but, knowing him, he gave me a thorough, accurate, and theologically correct answer. But, sometimes, we don’t need an expansive answer articulated to us. Instead, we need something we can grab on and cling to for dear life.

Of course, the answer we receive must be theologically sound doctrine; that’s a given. But the words used, and their presentation can be vital when tossed as a life preserver to a brother or sister that feels their strength waning and satan’s imps pulling on our feet. To understand God’s Words, we must first hear them interpreted by the Holy Spirit.

I don’t remember Dad’s answer, but I knew I needed the correct answer to my question: “Why is God hard to see?”

By faith, not by sight

Why does God appear to be hiding? Oh, when I look at His creation, I see the handiwork of God. His work testifies to His existence. And when I see a newborn baby, and I’ve seen a lot of them, I am humbled by God’s gift of life. And when I sit at the bedside of a saint of God passing from this life of trials and turmoil and entering the presence of God, I see the unspeakable grace of God to His children. So, for years I was baffled by God’s propensity to remain in in the periphery of my sight.

Why, oh God, maker of heaven and earth, the establisher of kings and kingdoms, the Great I AM, why do You make it so difficult for us to see you?

God’s answer is simple. Jesus told His apostle Thomas the reason. Jesus said to Thomas, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” (John 20:29) God gives a special blessing to all of us that believed Christ’s Gospel without seeing God.

It’s a matter of trust

From Genesis all the way to the end of the book of Revelation, three things that God continually offers to people: repentance, saving faith, and the promise to never be abandoned.  Yet most people reject God and become hard hearted. Salvation is a matter of trust in the perfect work of Jesus. This is rejected by most, but God’s desire is that all would come unto repentance:

The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.

2 Peter 3:9

So, why is God hard to see?  God can’t be seen. Our entrance into His kingdom is only available by grace, through faith, which is a work of God. “But the gateway to life is very narrow and the road is difficult, and only a few ever find it.(Matthew 7:14)

It is out of God’s love that He has made faith the device for us to not only see Him, but to be received by Him.

Photo by Matt Seymour on Unsplash


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car windshield with a few leafs on it

Whirligig

Have you ever driven your car when it begins to rain? As the torrent of rain floods your windshield, you turn your windshield wipers on. Immediately you discover a problem. You yell at your car, “I can’t see!”

Helicopters, whirlers, twisters, or whirligigs

It just takes a small leaf or whirligig (winged seeds from maple trees) to get under a wiper blade, and your vision is so limited, so impaired that you must find a place to pull off the road, stand in the rain, a physically remove that tiny obstacle. Getting back in your car, you immediately see the difference; you can see!

As Christians, we experience whirligigs in our spiritual lives from time to time. A spiritual whirligig is an obstacle that comes into our lives and, no matter how small, prevents us from effectively using the spiritual gifts God has given us. These tiny obstacles can even blind us to the vision God has placed within us.

Common obstacles

An obvious obstacle is a sin, a missing of God’s target. It can be seemingly insignificant. Perhaps it’s a TV series that “everyone” is into. Or, maybe an income problem has caused a failure to tithe. It could be entertaining an infatuation, or harboring jealousy, or lack of forgiveness. There are myriad tiny obstacles that can separate us from the fullness God desires us to experience in Christ Jesus. Though they are small, Whirligigs are mighty; they prevent us from seeing as God intends.

You may ask, “How do I discover something that may be a tiny whirligig?” The good news is that that the Holy Spirit lives within the children of God. God’s Word tells us in Jeremiah 17:10I the LORD search the heart and test the mind, to give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his deeds.”  Finding the whirligig is accomplished through prayer. The removal begins with prayer but often requires us to “get out in the rain.”

  • Such small things can cause great difficulties. They are best dealt with quickly. We must do something physically:
    • Ask for forgiveness.
    • Turn off the streaming service.
    • Confess and repent of your jealousy.
    • Give up something so you can pay your tithe.

Prayer

I pray, right now, that the Almighty God, maker of heaven and earth, will show you any whirligigs that are interfering with your spiritual sight. And if you have one stuck under your spiritual windshield wipers, I pray that you will have the courage and commitment to our Lord to remove it so you can clearly see how to stay on Christ’s narrow path. In the name of Jesus, the Beloved Son of God, I pray.

In closing, I encourage you to, “Rejoice in your hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.” – Romans 12:12 RSV

Photo by Mark Boss on Unsplash


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pots of soil

Good Soil

Seeds can be sown correctly, spaced correctly, fertilized correctly, but without good soil they will never germinate, they will never grow and produce fruit. So, what is “good soil?”

Good soil seems to have three things. It has dirt. It has sun. It has water (moisture). Think about it, for a seed to grow it needs all three. Leave out any one of those and the seed just dies.

Other seeds fell on shallow soil with underlying rock. The seeds sprouted quickly because the soil was shallow. But the plants soon wilted under the hot sun, and since they didn’t have deep roots, they died.” – Matthew 13:5-6

Dirt, sun, and water

Good soil needs dirt. A seed won’t grow without nutrients and something to hold the seed in place. “Still other seeds fell on fertile soil, and they produced a crop that was thirty, sixty, and even a hundred times as much as had been planted!” – Matthew 13:8

Good soil needs sunlight. A seed won’t grow in the dark. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God…In him was life, and the life was the light of men.” – John 1:1, 4

Good soil needs water. A seed will wither without water. Jesus said to her, ‘Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.’ – John 4:13-14

Crops for Christ

God’s Word is the seed. “The seed that fell on good soil represents those who truly hear and understand God’s word and produce a harvest of thirty, sixty, or even a hundred times as much as had been planted!” – Matthew 13:23

As believers in Christ Jesus, let’s make sure we keep ourselves bathed in the light and water of Jesus. We all want to produce a great crop for God!

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