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?

Christian Households and God – Colossians 3:18-21

The Family Is Attacked By The Enemy Because It Displays The Order And Submission Of The Trinity

18 Wives, submit yourselves to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord.

19 Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them.

20 Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord.

21 Fathers, do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged.

Orchestrated Order

There is order in the family just as there is order in the Trinity.  The order shows that the participants are co-equal but with different roles.  In this case, the order is that the husband has a role of authority over the wife and children.  The wife has the role of authority of advisor to the husband and authority over the children.  The children have the role of learning the roles of authority of the wives and husband.  The husband’s role is not one of tyrannical dictator, but rather the orchestrater of the plans and purpose of the family unit towards success in all things they set out to accomplish under the watchful and guiding efforts of the Spirit of God.

The key – the glue that holds this all together – is mutual submission.  Without submission, the family as a God-appointed organization will fall apart and fail.  The good news is that the Bible shows us how there is perfect submission in the Trinity of God, and to watch Jesus Christ’s example of this to learn the skills of submission and obedience to ensure the survival of the Family.

Wisdom for Wives

Paul starts out his instructions for Christian households with the hardest yet simplest command first – that wives submit to their husbands.  The enemy hates the concept of submission.  This can be seen in the first chapters of the first book of the Bible – Genesis – when the serpent plants seeds of doubt as to the character and nature of God in the ears of Eve, telling her that God is withholding something precious and valuable from her – the ability to be like God.  And the curse of sin reflects this, since women now desire the role of their husbands in family and life – to be in charge over everything.  And while it is certain that there are women who are more than capable of wielding authority (take the God-appointed judge of Israel Deborah for example…), the role assigned to women is as man’s helper.

The desire to serve self over others is key to sin.  When we desire to serve ourselves at the expense of others, we reject the love that God desires each of us to understand and obey:

4 “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 5 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.”

“And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.‘”

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.”

God is love.  He desires that each of us display his love – agape love – towards others and Himself.  God has wired women to be able to display this type of love to others.  It was only fitting then that the enemy would try to corrupt what God instituted in the beginning.  Satan, hating God, unable to touch God, did the only thing he could – he tried to get women to stop loving, and in this particular case, convince Eve to stop submitting to God and her husband.  By eating the forbidden fruit of the knowledge of good and evil, Eve chose self-glory and abandoned her God-given role as the beacon of love and submission that she was intended to be.

Jesus Christ, as part of His mission on Earth, was to set straight our understanding of the Father by displaying Him (His character) to the world.  And Jesus did so through submitting to the Holy Spirit of God and the Father.  He did this to show us that this was how it was to be in the beginning.  It is only through submitting to the assigned and ordained roles that God places each of us in that we properly reflect His order and completion.

When women submit to their husbands through the execution of their innate ability to display unconditional, volitional, and sacrificial love towards their husbands in a respectful, submissive manner, they radiate the message that God intended and bring Him greater glory, restoring that which is lost to selfishness through the three primary influences:

  1. The Flesh
  2. The World
  3. The Devil

and the three primary attack vectors:

  1. The Lust of the Eyes
  2. The Lust of the Flesh
  3. The Pride of Life

Help for Husbands

Paul goes on to give husbands the key through which they are able to enable their wives to reach their full potential in Christ – to love them.

This is a simple concept that is not innate within men.  Men are wired for respect, not love.  Ask men whether they would rather be respected yet hated, or loved and disrespected, and most men would choose the former over the latter.  God recognizes this, and gives husbands the key to their wives’ hearts – they must love (agape) them as Christ loves the church, laying down his life for hers.

When husbands love their wives, they are putting their wives’ best interests over their own.  They are looking to ensure that their wives are taken care of first, and that their needs are fully met.  When husbands love their wives in this manner, it is easy for their wives to submit to their husbands and respect them – the wives are being placed above the husbands in all things except for his duty to God.  What wife can complain that her doting, loving husband who seeks the best for her when he is acting in this manner?  Is this a cause to hate, despise, ridicule, nag, and otherwise disparage and disrespect him?  May it never be so!

Coaching for Children

God gives children a simple directive (the verb hupakouete is an imperative command) – obey your parents in everything.  This is a training that will yield a great harvest of righteousness in the lives of children.  Obedience to their parents sets a pattern that will translate to obedience to God.  Additionally, obedience teaches submission.

When children allow themselves to be taught through obedience and submission, they are more likely and able to transition these skills into their adult lives.  And as mentioned above, submission is the key to the hearts of both men and women.  Obedience is the hallmark of love towards God.  In all of this, these two skills prepare you to live life to its fullest.

When children refuse to be trained by submission and obedience, we see the fall its ignoble display.  Seeking to grasp the forbidden fruit, it is not until long after the taste of the fruit leaves the mouth that the consequences of those decisions begin to haunt the one hungry for self-fulfillment.   But thanks be to God in Jesus Christ, for His blood atones for all our sins, and gives us the second chance no one deserves.

Failings of Fathers

There is a final warning to fathers concerning their children.  In the pursuit of training up a child in the way they should go, Father are to be very careful that their desire for respect is kept in balance with the needs of the children to grow and learn.  Fathers don’t have the innate ability to gauge when they are being too strict.  In their minds, obedience should be complete and immediate – a show of respect.  But just as anyone learning a new skill will tell you, it takes time and practice get good at it.

And while fathers need to be on their guard so that they don’t exasperate their children in their attempts to guide and teach them, they should also be wary of the manipulative sinful nature of all children to appear outwardly compliant while inwardly harboring hate, bitterness, and dissent.  Relationship is the key to influencing your children.  A child is more likely to respond to a parent that has a solid relationship with them than one who thinks their father either doesn’t care about them or won’t make time for them.

There is a story about a man and his son that goes something like this: a man and his son went fishing for a day.  They cast their bait out on hooks, but the fish just weren’t biting.  They finally went home, and each wrote in their diaries.  The man wrote,”We didn’t catch a thing all day.  The day was a complete waste of time.”  The son wrote, “I spent an entire day with my dad.  It was the best day of my life!”

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask a question:  Are we submitting to each other in our families the same way that Christ submitted to the Father and the Holy Spirit?

A short prayer of presentation:

Father in Heaven, You have shown us Yourself through the life of Your Son, Jesus Christ.  Grant me the ability to submit to You completely and without reservation, that I may serve You in the manner that You desire and be obedient to Your every command.  Help me to accept the role that You have assigned to me in my family.  Give me the strength, wisdom, and words so that I can fulfill Your will as You greatly desire.  Help me to overcome my innate, sinful tendencies that I may embrace Your goodness, compassion, mercy, and grace, and help my family to succeed so that it will be a beacon on a hill to all who see.  May others praise You because of the example of my family.  This I ask in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

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

Holiness of God – 1 John 1:5-7

There Is No Darkness In Pure Light

5 This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. 6 If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth. 7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.

Glorious Glow

God is perfect.  His light is without defect.  It is when we look through the lens of our own version of morality that we ascribe any wrongdoing to God.  When confronted with the facts, most people object to God based on morality, for God provides us with overwhelming proof of Himself and His Righteousness.

We cannot begin to understand God until we come to the realization that God is perfect.  It is only in the lens of perfection that God is able to be seen clearly.  John tells us that there is no darkness in Him at all.  Any perceived darkness that we think we see in God is our own darkness clouding the truth about God’s light.  God allows this to occur for many reasons:

Darkness of Deception

The bane of the church are those who claim to know Christ, and claim the title of Christian, yet refuse to live in the light.  When we walk in darkness, we cannot claim fellowship with the light.  It is like water and oil.  The two are immiscible – they won’t mix properly.  Shake them as together as much as you want, but the oil immediately separates from the water and floats on top.

We cannot claim to be light and hide the very thing that we claim to be.  When we obscure the light of God, we suppress the truth with wickedness.  This is like a person camping and trying to start a fire by pouring water over the dry wood.  Any sane person would be horrified at the results, and counsel the person to stop sabotaging their efforts.  Sin effectively sabotages our witness for it extinguishes any claim to light that we have.

There are wheat and chaff.  The wheat falls to the ground during the threshing, and the chaff blows away in the wind.  We experience trials to perfect our faith and endurance, so that as the mighty winds of difficulty come upon us, we will fall to the ground as kernels of grain rather than be blown away by the pressures of our trials.  And it is during persecution that there is a great separation of the wheat from the chaff.

The world watches us in hopeful expectation.  Some watch in the hopes that we will fail. When we do, they feel justified in their own sinful behavior.  Others watch in the hopes that what we say is true so that they can believe that it is really true and embrace the truth.  The way in which we conduct ourselves will impact many others.  Walking in darkness is guaranteed to have negative results, not only for us, but also for those who watch us.

Relationship in Radiance

When we walk in the light, we experience fellowship with each other and with God.  God intended for us to be with Him from the very beginning.  It wasn’t until Adam sinned that there was a separation between God and man.  Walking in the light is to enjoy the character and company of those who are like us and in the presence of God.

When we walk in the light, we are sanctified.  The light exposes our deeds of darkness, and gives us the opportunity to turn from darkness and turn towards the light.  The more we turn towards the light, the sweeter the fellowship is between us, God, and the ones who choose the light.  The blood of Christ is able to wash away our sins.  We can only do that when we turn from darkness and head towards the light.

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask a question:  Are we allowing the light of God to penetrate and expose any darkness in our ways?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, You are pure light, and there is no darkness within You.  You are perfect, and do not change like shifting shadows.  In all things, You are holy and righteous.  My ways are not Your ways, and my thoughts are not Your thoughts.  Help me, Father, to align my heart to Yours, that I would better understand Your ways and Your thoughts.  Purify me of all darkness that is within me.  Cleanse me of my unrighteousness.  Peel back the layers of darkness and deception that have infiltrated my life through the world, the flesh, and the devil.  Father, help me to turn to You at all times.  Guard and guide me so that I may walk in the way everlasting.  Help me to be a beacon of light on a hill, that it would lead others to You.  This I ask in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

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

 

God the Son – Colossians 1:15-20

The Supremacy Of God The Son

15 The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16 For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. 17 He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. 19 For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.

Invisible Image

Jesus was sent so that the invisible would be made visible.  Jesus has said,

“And the Father who sent me has himself testified concerning me. You have never heard his voice nor seen his form,”

“If you really know me, you will know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.”

“…Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?”

Jesus came not only to bear witness to the truth; to seek and save the lost; but also to display His Father to all through Himself.  Through the submission of Jesus to the Holy Spirit, He was able to display His Father through His words and actions.  Jesus displayed relationship with the Father as well as the Father’s mercy, grace, righteousness, and justice.  We get a clear picture of God the Father through God the Son.

Righteous Resurrection

Jesus was the firstborn among creation.  He was the first person to experience resurrection in its fullest.  Although other people were brought back to life from the dead, they eventually died again.  Jesus has died, and was resurrected as the firstborn of creation.  He has taken His place at the head of creation at the right hand of God.

Creator’s Command

There was nothing created that was not created by God the Son, Jesus Christ.  He spoke everything into existence that was created, whether it was invisible or visible.  Jesus created Satan and the heavenly host.  He created the sun, the moon, the stars and the Earth.  He created Adam and Eve, and even now, He knits us together in our mother’s wombs as we are created through childbirth.  Everything that is created was created by Him and for Him.  And God the Father gave Jesus all of creation, with the Earth as His footstool.  He has won it back from Satan’s control through His perfect life, death, and resurrection.

Supremely Sovereign

Jesus holds all things together.  He is rightly the head of the Church, for He founded it. He again was the firstborn through resurrection so that in all things, Jesus Christ is declared sovereign over all.  There is nothing in the heavens or on Earth or below the Earth that Jesus is not sovereign.  He rules from Heaven, and awaits the time for God the Father to reveal Him again to the world.  His second coming will be as lion, though He first came as a lamb. All things will be completed when He arrives again.

Resulting Reconciliation

Jesus chose to put aside His glory and majesty to show us the Father, and to reconcile us to the Father.  All things will be reconciled to Him since He has paid the price to have them reconciled.  It is through His perfect, sinless, shed blood that we are reconciled.  He was the perfect and final sacrifice for all sin.  Jesus has rightfully restored what Adam lost.

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask a question:  Are we remembering the sacrifice that Jesus made to reconcile us to the Father as we live our daily lives?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, You are glorious to behold.  You have shown us Yourself through Your Son, Jesus Christ.  I am grateful that You love us so much to have sent Your Son to be the perfect sacrifice for our sins.  Remember me this day, Father.  Help me to keep in mind the great and terrible sacrifice that Jesus made to reconcile me to You.  Even now, as I pray, You have given me this opportunity to come before You to praise You, present my concerns to You, and experience relationship with You, all because of the blood of Jesus Christ.  May I never forget what it cost You to bring this about.  This I ask in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

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

Blessing of God – Galatians 3:14

He redeemed us in order that the blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus, so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit.

Everyone wants a blessing.  We seek it in approval from those we respect and love.  Who doesn’t want their parent’s blessing when they are going to be married?

A blessing in the Old Testament was more than just a physical inheritance; it was often a prophetic pronouncement over the life and future progeny of the children.  Isaac, when giving his blessing to Jacob (who was tricked into believing it was Esau), pronounced a prophetic future blessing for Jacob’s family.  When Jacob pronounced the blessing for his sons, he too pronounced a prophetic blessing on them.

We have been grafted in to the vine of Christ.  And in it, we receive the blessing given to Abraham.  This is not replacement theology – we are the wild vine grafted in, being sustained by the same root as the native plant.  And with it comes the blessing.  You have riches in Christ (read Ephesians 1-3).

But all of this is because of the relationship we have with the source.  A branch pulled from a live tree, left alone, will die if it doesn’t have another source of nourishment.  It is the relationship of the branch to the root that provides it.  We often come for the blessings, and stand on the blessings, and sing of the blessings, and praise the blessings.  But, as it was once said, God is not a cosmic vending machine where you put a prayer in and out pops the blessing you selected.

So let’s ask ourselves a question: do we desire the relationship with the giver – desire Him – more than we do the blessings?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, You have blessed us so much, for You have taken us out of darkness and brought us into the light.  You provide for our every need, and many of our wants.  Father, help us to look to You today, to gaze upon the beautiful face of Christ, to remember who our blessings came from, and to desire to be at the feet of Jesus more than all of the blessings you pour out upon us.  Prepare our hearts for the journey You have planned for us today.  This we ask in the precious name of Your Son, Jesus Christ, Amen.

Unity with God – Galatians 3:28

There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

What does it mean to be “one in Christ”?  In this passage, it would appear that we are to stop thinking of division by race, ancestry, position, and even gender. But this barely scratches the very tip of what this means.  Our entire identity is to be found “in Christ.”  This is not the only place in scripture that we see this type of language used.

Here are some scriptures to review before we go on:

John 10:38

John 14:10-11

John 14:20

John 17:21

Romans 6:11

Romans 6:23

Ephesians 1:3

There are others but this should suffice.  The recurring theme is being “in the Father” and “in Christ.”

Do you not realize that the Most Holy God, who created us, loves us, sent His Son to redeem us so that we can have a relationship with Him, did this not so He could have some long-distance relationship with us, but rather invites us to be WITH HIM NOW?  Eternity in the Father and in the Son and in The Spirit began the moment you said “YES!!!!!!” to Christ.  We are not only reconciled; we are not only sons and daughters of God; we are asked to come into an even deeper relationship with Almighty God: we have been invited into The Trinity.  We are not God; we are to have the same relationship (koinonia in the Greek) with God that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit experience in the Trinity.

Oswald Chambers in “My Utmost for His Highest” says that in resurrection life, we will no longer need to ask questions, because we won’t have any.  As we grow in our relationship with God, the eventuality is that our dependence upon and identity with the Living God is so rooted and solidified that we will no longer have any questions.

We, in effect, are one with God, and God will provide every answer, every direction, all knowledge – EVERYTHING – for we are ONE IN HIM.  Let go of those things that pain you, trouble you, and cause you to question.  Fully embrace your resurrection life, and be wholly and completely dependent on the Omnipotent, Omniscient, and Omnipresent God as Jesus, who was fully God and fully man, did while He walked the Earth 2,000 years ago.

A short prayer of preparation:

Our Heavenly Father, You have done something that no one could have dreamed of and have invited us into Your Most Holy relationship.  We can barely even understand what You are doing, for Your thoughts are higher than our thoughts, and Your ways are higher than our ways.  Teach us through Your Word and Your Spirit these wonderful things.  Grant us understanding that as we comprehend, we will draw closer.  May our lives reflect this most holy calling, and may we walk so closely with You that our faces would glow like Moses after we leave Your presence.  You are beautiful, Oh Lord, and we love you dearly.  This we ask in Jesus’ name, Amen.

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