God Thoughts (6)

“God is not man, that he should lie, or a son of man, that he should change his mind. Has he said, and will he not do it? Or has he spoken, and will he not fulfill it?”     Numbers 23:19

There is such a temptation to make God in our image.  That way He becomes someone we can more easily relate to and try to manipulate.

What? You’ve never tried to manipulate God by promising Him something to get something you want from Him?  “God if you’ll just get me out of this mess I promise I’ll….” (fill in the blank).  We know how to weasel what we want from humans, this doesn’t work with God.

Your relationship with God is unlike any other relationship you will ever have because He needs nothing from you.  There is nothing we can offer to Him to change His mood or to make Him more gracious or forgiving.  He is what He is, to coin a phrase.

This why religion (doing or not doing something to make God happy with us) is an exhausting futility.  God initiates the relationship with us because of who He is not because of what we do.  God reveals Himself to us because He is good, not because we are good.

Once we accept this reality life takes on a freedom and a joy we can never sustain in any other way.  Let’s take religion out of our relationship with God and rest in His grace.

God Thoughts (5)

 “For You formed my inward parts; You wove me in my mother’s womb.”  Psalm 139.14

I find it compelling to return to the question “why are we here?” I know that we often find ourselves searching for an answer when things are challenging. Being in a mess is not often fun and “why” is a normal human reaction.

I’ve decided that we can seldom get an accurate answer until we step outside ourselves. Like it or not, God is in control. Any answer must begin with Him.

As Psalm 139 so powerfully communicates, we are here because God wants us here. The God of glory wants us to have a relationship with Him. Mind you, it is not something that He needs, but something He wants. And it doesn’t change who He is, but it blesses Him when we turn to Him.  Think of the privilege granted to us that He wishes for us to know Him and arranges for it from the very beginning of our lives by giving us life.

The fact that we are here, the fact that we are living, breathing beings, this fact in itself is of enormous significance. This gift of life from God means that we have been given the privilege to know God experientially, and the potential to grow into the glorious creatures that God’s creative vision intended for us to become.  It should assure us of his provision of an eternal, ever deepening relationship with him!

Think about that for awhile.

God Thoughts (4)

“Then the Lord passed by in front of him and proclaimed, “The Lord, the Lord God, compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in lovingkindness and truth;  who keeps lovingkindness for thousands, who forgives iniquity, transgression and sin…”  Exodus 34.6-7

There are believers who think of God in a schizophrenic way.  The God they know from the New Testament is kind of cool, but the God of the Old Testament is someone you mostly want to avoid!  What does that say about Him?  Has He evolved over the thousands of years we read about from Genesis to Malachi?  Did He grow up over the millennia?

When we think that way we are creating God in man’s image.  In case you didn’t realize it, that’s backwards!  It is man who is predictably undependable, not God.  God’s character is the unattainable standard against which all thoughts, words, deeds and lives are measured.  This is an important aspect of His glory.

When Moses asked to have a glimpse of God, to see God’s glory, He told Moses up front that he wasn’t man enough to handle seeing the full Monty of God!  This came to be understood as a sure prescription for death!  Was Moses suicidal or did he just want to know better the one he was dealing with in the person of God?

When God decided to arrange for Moses to have a peek at Him, what Moses experienced is a compassionate, gracious, patient, unfailingly loving, unflinchingly trustworthy, accepting, forgiving God!

That sounds to me a lot like the God of the New Testament.  Here’s why: “Jesus Christ (God) is the same yesterday (the Old Testament) and today (the New Testament) and forever.” (Hebrews 13.8)

Since God doesn’t change we must change our thoughts about Him.  That’s one big reason why Jesus came to live and die on earth.

God Thoughts (3)

“…whom I have created for My glory.”  Isaiah 43.7

I’m thinking I’d like to dwell on this idea a bit longer.

Here’s why: As image bearers of God we have a vital function, an enormous privilege really, that nothing else in the created order can pull off in the same way we humans can.  I think it means that in some way we must “look” more like God or must “be” more like Him than anything else in creation.

Because the core of our being is spirit, you and I have the innate potential both to experience and to manifest God-likeness.  In doing this we are most fulfilled personally and we fulfill our created purpose.  In this one simple scenario we bless God and are blessed by Him and His glory flows on earth.  Life need not be more complicated than this.

Why then is life often anything but simple?  One of us, Adam, thinking he had hit upon a shortcut to glory, introduced the world to sin.  Since early creation this adversary has worked to mobilize multitudes into disappointment and death.  Our God-imaging ability was hijacked to serve sin.  Without understanding sin’s adversarial bent against God and His glory, we will never understand the loss of human glory nor the perplexities of life on earth.

The Gospel is the good news that God sent Jesus, also one of us, to defeat sin and to break its tyranny over humanity.  Now, in Christ, the privilege of revealing God’s glory is restored to us.  Through His resurrection life in us we can be that God glorying creation and life can become simple again.

For to me, to live is Christ…”  Philippians 1.21