God Reveals Himself – Psalm 18:25-27

God Reveals Himself Experientially

25 To the faithful you show yourself faithful,
to the blameless you show yourself blameless,
26 to the pure you show yourself pure,
but to the devious you show yourself shrewd.
27 You save the humble
but bring low those whose eyes are haughty.

Opportune Observation

Everywhere in the Bible, we see God revealing Himself.  He does so through His word.  He reveals His amazing character through His interaction with His creation. We have the wonderful opportunity to observe through reading God’s word exactly how He interacts with us in the universe that He created.  We have been provided the perfect place to keenly observe, without filter or pretense, what has gone on before.  This gives us a better perspective of what we should expect from our God, who is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow.

Experiential Encounter

But He goes much deeper than that.  As we start on the path of reconciliation with God through repentance and sanctification, we begin to desire to experience God on a more personal level.  The only way to do that is to walk with someone.

When you walk with someone, you have the opportunity to share in the life-experiences of that person.  You are there when things happen, and are immediately impacted by the results of the circumstances that you both encounter.  God does not merely want us to read about what He did yesterday (or a long time ago, in our cases); He wants to us personally be involved with Him in what He is doing today and what He is planning to do tomorrow.

Jesus called us to follow Him.  The Greek word for follow is akoloutheo.  It means to walk alongside someone, shoulder to shoulder, if you will, almost as if you were in lock-step with them.

Relational Relevance

When we being to experience God’s character by walking with Him, He reveals Himself in a greater and deeper way to us.

Blessed are the merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.

In the case of the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus reveals that to those who exhibit the Godly character of Mercy, He will reveal Himself by being Merciful to them.  The benefits of experiencing God’s character is that God makes it real to us as we exhibit it.  It becomes experiential knowledge rather than just head-knowledge.

If a person always has food to eat, hunger truly isn’t real for them.  They may understand hunger at a simple level, maybe if they miss a meal, or fast for a short period of time.  But to truly understand hunger, a person must be in the position of not even having the option of eating for a very long time.  Whether that is self-imposed or imposed by circumstances, the reality of not even having the opportunity to eat reveals the nature of hunger as it affects those so afflicted.

Participatory Providence

While we are forgiven our sins at the time we confess Jesus as Savior, we are afforded a more intimate knowledge of the character of Almighty God.  To truly appreciate something, you generally have to pay for it yourself.  Then you begin to understand the sacrifice, effort, and cost of something.  Time, effort, and money are expended in the process that precludes the purchase of other things.  Everything comes at a price and, unless you have unlimited time, money, and skill, there are only so many choices that can be made.  Likewise, when we participate in the character of God, we give up the right to exercise other options that are available to us at the price of following the path of righteousness.

For instance, forgiveness comes at a three-fold cost.  First, there is the initial harm that we experience when we are wronged.  Second, there is loss as we give up all claim at justly recovering (if that is even possible) what was originally ours.  Finally, we suffer harm in knowing that justice for the offense will not occur (in the case of those whose sin has been forgiven.  In the case of those who refused to believe God in life, they will suffer the most grievous and just penalty for that in the Lake of Fire, and there justice is fully meted out).

Disciplinary Danger

We are warned by the Psalmist that we need to be careful in how we conduct ourselves with regards to character.  God reveals His character as a Just Judge when we exhibit ungodliness in our own character:

Pride goes before destruction,
a haughty spirit before a fall.

Even in the case of ungodly character, God reveals Himself to us as well, even if it is in a less pleasant manner and method.

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask a question:  Am I daily receiving a more experiential knowledge of God’s character?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, You have revealed Yourself to me in Your word.  Help me to put into practice all that I have read and learned, so that I may better experience Your character and understand the depth and breadth of the love that You have for me.  As I experience this, help me to better love my neighbor as myself, and love one another as You have loved me.  Help me to love You as You desire to be loved, and I pray that my character, daily, would more closely align with Yours until they are indistinguishable from each other.  I ask, Father, that You help me to yield myself to the Holy Spirit so that He can work more effortless through me and in me, that Your character would be on display for the world to see.  This I ask in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?

The Holiness of God – Psalm 101:1-4

God’s Love Is Tempered In Holiness

1 I will sing of your love and justice;
to you, Lord, I will sing praise.
2 I will be careful to lead a blameless life-
when will you come to me?

I will conduct the affairs of my house
with a blameless heart.
3 I will not look with approval
on anything that is vile.

I hate what faithless people do;
I will have no part in it.
4 The perverse of heart shall be far from me;
I will have nothing to do with what is evil.

Just Judge

Almighty God is a loving God, full of mercy and grace.  He showers all of us – (unrepentant) sinners and saints alike – with mercies that renew every morning.  He shines the sun on all of us, and allows the rain to fall for all of us.  God woos us with His kindness, and declares His character through His creation.

God also is a holy judge.  He cannot stand sin in His presence.  He has been on task, calling all of us to repentance with His love.  But there comes a time when, after we have been continually wooed by His goodness and mercy, that He will instead give us His justice.

Clean Character

David greatly desired to know God’s character, and to participate in it.  He recognized the holiness of God – the complete and total absence of wrongdoing in God’s character – as something that was important to God, and important to him.  David recognized the need for personal holiness – a separation from sin and a separation to God.  David greatly desired to live a blameless life before God.  In the Psalms, many which were written by him, including Psalm 14 and Psalm 53, he declares:

1 The fool says in his heart,
“There is no God.”
They are corrupt, their deeds are vile;
there is no one who does good.

2 The Lord looks down from heaven
on all mankind
to see if there are any who understand,
any who seek God.
3 All have turned away, all have become corrupt;
there is no one who does good,
not even one.

David recognizes that all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.  No one but Jesus Christ ever lived a perfect, sinless life on Earth.  David greatly desired to live in a way that shunned sin, and embraced holiness, in light of his fallen nature.

Insulated Inspection

David sought to shield his eyes from evil.  He did not desire to look upon anything vile.  The eyes, for most people, contribute a significant portion of all stimuli.  Men, in particular, are wired to react to what they see.  David purposed in his heart to keep his eyes from intentionally dwelling upon wickedness.

In Western culture today, the focus of advertising on television and the internet has a tendency to focus on sexual immorality.  And that is because sex sells.  The ironic aspect of this is that it is culture that both bombards men day in and day out with messages of promiscuity and satisfaction in lewdness and unfaithfulness and vilifies him if he consumes their product.  Once a man has taken the bait, and partakes of this “eye candy” and the forbidden fruit, the very culture that baits him with it are the very first people to turn on him, call him vile and degenerate, shun him, and destroy his good name.

David recognized this danger, and did his very best to keep his eyes from intentionally wandering towards that which would cause him difficulty.  It should be noted that the one time he failed, when he looked upon Bathsheba, he sinned mightily and paid a most dear price for it.

Despise Disloyalty

The desire for personal purity helped David to hate what faithless people do.  They wallow in their own sin, reject the law of Almighty God, and revel in their wanton disobedience to the One who created them and calls them back to Himself.  David does not hate the wicked, but hates what the wicked do.

It is important to make the distinction between hating someone and hating their actions.  It is especially important to make this distinction, for evil people will try to manipulate others by calling their own aversion to holiness and your disagreement with their thoughts, words and deeds as somehow being related to their personal identity and not to their personal ideology.  Unless we, as a culture, can separate what a person does from who a person is, we will be sucked into a violent maelstrom that threatens to pigeonhole everyone into accepting what is vile in order to avoid being perceived (and therefore accused in the public arena) as being racist, bigoted, and hateful people.

Somehow, people in their quest to be free from the responsibility that comes as a result of being created by God, even and especially to be His image-bearers, have lost their personal identity and replaced it with personal ideology.  In other words, you can no longer disagree with someone based on their thoughts and words without somehow casting an aspersion on their race or heritage.  The evil person tries to insist that the two are inextricably intertwined, thus forcing a person to accept their ideas in order to accept them as people, for to reject their ideas, in their mind, is to reject them and their value as human beings.

Purge Perfidy

David desires to have nothing to do with evil.  He goes to great lengths to prevent its influence and actions in his life.  He so greatly desires this removal from evil, he wants to place the perverseness of people as far as he can from his heart.  David loves people, and was called by God to be a shepherd over them as king by the prophet Samuel.  Yet David, in his role as king and judge, would not permit evil to flourish under his watch.

We too are to rid ourselves of the perverse things that so easily entangles us in sin.  There should be an active desire, fueled by the Holy Spirit, and guided by the word of the Living God, to separate ourselves from what is evil in the sight of God and separate ourselves to what is good in the sight of God.  Until we do this, we are, in effect, actively courting that which is offensive to a holy, sinless, and perfect God.  For people who claim to know God and claim to be His friends, this should never happen.  What true friend actively goes out of their way to cause others intentional pain and trouble apart from trying to strain the relationship?  But thanks be to God, for He is full of grace, mercy, and love!

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask a question:  While seeking the grace and mercy of God, do I also in the same measure seek His holiness in personal practice?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, You are a holy and just God.  You cannot look upon sin, yet You continually shower Your goodness and provision upon all who live.  Father, please help me to understand the depths of Your holiness, so that I can better understand why You hate sin so much.  Give me a hatred of my own sin, and help me to see it as You do.  Prepare my heart to do whatever is necessary to honor You, and to throw off the stench of my sin.  Help me to see it as I would rotting, decaying garbage.  I praise You, O God, for you have taken my sin from me and cloaked me with the righteousness of Your Son, Jesus Christ.  Help me to keep His cloak of righteousness from being stained by my moral failings.  Help me to bear up under Your trials as my sanctification prepares me to walk in holiness before You.  Help me to remember that You are a just judge, and that You will not tolerate willful sin from me anymore.  This I ask in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Want more? Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?

God of Peace – 2 Thessalonians 5:23-24

Allow The God Of Peace To Sanctify You Completely

23 May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 24 The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it.

Power in Peace

Paul reminds us that God is a God of peace.  Peace has several facets.  It indicates:

  • Unity and harmony in thought
  • The shedding of ill-will towards others
  • The working together of people towards a common goal

God is working towards all three of these, and desires to work them through us at a level that we cannot even begin to comprehend.  God sees the whole picture of reality, from when He spoke it into existence and throughout all eternity.  He is able to see what will be, and greatly desires us to yield to Him so that through sanctification, we will be completely at peace with both Him and others.

Sanctification after Salvation

Salvation has been arranged through the birth, life, death, burial, and resurrection of The Lord Jesus Christ.  But now comes the next part – sanctification – the process of being changed from a creature that was bent towards sin and darkness towards a life dedicated to holiness and submission to God.  God loves us for who we are, but loves us too much to allow to stay the way we are.

Paul, who wrote a good portion of the writings of the New Testament of the Bible, said that even he, who had been to Heaven and came back, was not there yet.  Paul truly had been shown how much he would suffer for the name of Jesus.  He tirelessly preached the word of God to the Gentiles, in cities and in prisons.  He understood the need to walk a life worthy of the calling which he had received.  We are to do the same – to live a life that is holy and dedicated to God who paid such a great price to purchase us – redeem us – out of the slavery of sin.

Be Blameless

We are called to be blameless in body, soul, and spirit.  We are all each of these three things:

  • We each have a physical body that can be used for good or for evil.  What we do impacts us and others.  Everything that we do has significance and importance.  We are called to offer our bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God.
  • We each have a soul.  This is our ability to think, make decisions, and implement the decisions in the body.  Our thought life is just as important as how we conduct our bodies in action.  Jesus warned the teachers of the law and the Pharisees that they were outwardly compliant with the law, but inwardly – in their thoughts and motivations – they were dead, filthy, corrupt, and unclean.  We are to keep our thoughts clean as well, capturing every thought to Christ.
  • And whether we realize it or not, our spirit is affected by what we do in the flesh and minds.  God, through the sacrifice of His Son, Jesus Christ, has made provision for the life of our spirit, alive to Him, and dead to sin.  We must now, through sanctification, put to death those things that would compromise the holiness of our spirit in Christ.

Forever Faithful

We can be assured God the Father is faithful in preparing us.  We need to be submitted to Him, and allow the trials and tribulations and hardships that will give Him the opportunity to mold and shape us from what we were into what He desires us to be.  Jesus has said that God is faithful, and no one can be snatched out of His grasp.  We can trust in the faithfulness of Almighty God to do all that He has said that He will do, for God does not lie, and is incapable of breaking His word.

As He sanctifies us, we are at greater peace with Him, moving from positional righteousness to a life of applied righteousness.  And we are also at greater peace with men as we submit to one another live lives that are focused on honoring God rather than serving our own interests.

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask a question:  Am I allowing God to sanctify me through His word to be at peace with others?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, I come to You today with thanksgiving in my heart for who You are and what You are doing in my life.  Prepare me to be the vessel that You desire for Your purposes.  Help me to be more at peace with people, and to live a life that is at peace with You.  Strengthen me in my weakness, and sanctify my body, soul, and spirit, so that they will be blameless on the great and terrible day that Your Son, Jesus Christ, returns.  Place within my heart a greater yearning that the lost would be saved, and help me to bring the message of salvation to them.  This I ask in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?

Character of God – Psalm 18:25-27

God Reveals Himself When We Partake In His Character

25 To the faithful you show yourself faithful,
to the blameless you show yourself blameless,
26 to the pure you show yourself pure,
but to the devious you show yourself shrewd.
27 You save the humble
but bring low those whose eyes are haughty.

Fully Faithful

God reveals His character as we participate in it.  He has shown that He is faithful in His word.  He has ensured that all of the promises that He has made in through His prophets have or will come to pass.  Prophecies made over twenty-five hundred years ago have only recently come to pass.  The Lord is not slow in keeping His promises, but does so on His timetable in order to bring glory to Himself.

When we are faithful to Him and others, God shows us His faithfulness.  He manifests this aspect of His character in His dealings with us.  He will bring about circumstances in our lives that will cause us to rely upon Him for His help, and then He will show Himself faithful in extricating us from those circumstances.

Beyond Blameless

When we are blameless before God, He shows us that He is blameless as well.  This does not mean that no difficulties will be encountered, but that God does not fail to keep His promises.  God will show the blameless that He is blameless.  In every aspect of God’s character, He shows us more of Himself when we participate in it.  To the merciful He shows mercy.  In every way, God is faithful to reveal His character.

Perfectly Pure

And when we are pure in heart, He reveals even more: for we will see God.  God delights in revealing His character to us.  He greatly desires to be known as He knows us.  And although we will only see in part in this life, He will fully reveal Himself in the coming eternity.  God is greatly desiring us to know Him better in this life.  We should take every opportunity to experience His character through our actions and words to others.  For it is only in the experiential knowledge of His character do we truly begin to know and see His character more fully.

Helping the Humble

Jesus said that he was gentle and humble in heart.  God helped Jesus through every trial and tribulation that He faced.  He provided Jesus with food and other provisions as were required.  God provided Jesus with power and wisdom.  In all things, God helps the humble in heart.  He even lifts us up when we humble ourselves.  Humility is the correct and appropriate manner of behavior before Almighty God.  Jesus has shown us how to behave before God, and being God, revealed the Father to us fully.  If you are having difficulties, humble yourself before God.

Shrewdly Subdue

And for the proud and devious, God has a different aspect of character to reveal – His holy righteous judgement and, eventually, wrath.  God gives us every opportunity to humble ourselves before Him.  Whether that was a prophet declaring the coming wrath of God, His holy word speaking to us, and/or the occasional terror that comes through our enemies overcoming us, God gives us the opportunity.  And when we do not heed His merciful and gracious promptings,  He is forced by His character to do what is necessary.

And while mercy and grace triumph over justice, it is justice that must be meted out when we refuse to obey.  God will be shrewd with those who are devious, and eventually thwart their plans.  For some He will allow them to greatly prosper and literally get away with murder here on Earth.  But they will be lulled into a false security, for when they are required to give an accounting of themselves before His great throne of justice on that final and terrible day, they will only then realize the terrible end that they have reaped according to what they have sown.  Remember that God is faithful in all things, even if His timing is not our own.

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask a question:  Am I participating in God’s character through experiential knowledge of it?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, You reveal Yourself to us both through Your word and Your character.  You always seek to help us so that we would know You better.  Remember me this day, and help me to participate in Your character in a greater way.  Help me to experience Your character as I put it into practice in my daily life.  Help me to be faithful, blameless, pure, merciful, gentle, and humble in heart.  May each of these qualities be found in my character as I interact with others.  Forgive me for my many sins, and show me how to live this way.  This I ask in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?