ATTRIBUTES OF GOD – OMNISCIENCE

We have thought about two of the “omni” attributes of God, omnipotence and omnipresence.  The third such attribute is omniscience.

Like the first two we studied, “omni” means “all”.  According to Merriam Webster, “science” is “the state of knowing: knowledge as distinguished from ignorance or misunderstanding.”  So, “omniscience” means that God knows all that there is to know. There is nothing anywhere that is outside the scope of His conception, understanding or attention.

“Great is our Lord, and abundant in power [that’s “omnipotent”]: his understanding is beyond measure [that’s [omniscience”]”

Psalm 147:5 [with bracketed information added by me]

reading to grandchildren
Papa reading to young grandsons.

We have to study, read and learn lessons; in short, when we are born, we don’t automatically come equipped with all knowledge of our world, culture, society.  Much to the chagrin of our children, we have to be taught either by home schooling or in a school outside the home.

Evans Day 041
Learning sometimes involves detailed investigation!

Not so with God.  He does not study or learn for one simple reason – omniscience.  One cannot increase a knowledge that is already insurmountable.  God knows everything, period. 

“Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!”

Romans 11:33

Further, with God there is no “maybe”.  Probability does not exist for God.  While we may consider rolling the dice as being an act of chance, such is not the case for God. 

The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the LORD.”

Proverbs 16:33

This verse in The Message reads:

“Make your motions and cast your votes, but God has the final say.”

God is omniscient.  There is one reality and God knows it in its entirety, as it exists by, through, and for Him.

“And the Spirit of the LORD fell upon me, and he said to me, “Say, Thus says the LORD: So you think, O house of Israel. For I know the things that come into your mind.

Ezekiel 11:5

God is neither surprised by the way the world works itself out, nor shocked by the choices we make.

“And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account.”

Hebrews 4:13

Because God is omniscient, God can work out His predetermined purpose and plan and His sovereignty will effect that plan.    

The king’s heart is a stream of water in the hand of the LORD; he turns it wherever he will.”

Proverbs 21:1

Beloved, the attribute of omniscience is a source of security, strength and of faith, of comfort and of joy.  God knows everything about everyone, everywhere. He will not be surprised by anything that we do because He knows all things.

Such wisdom and knowledge is too much for us to understand or comprehend. Even as I write this post, I am amazed and in awe of our God, and I cannot fully understand or appreciate how vast His nature and knowledge is.  Like the attributes that we have considered previously, the very speaking of the word “omniscience” reveals the incredible majesty of our God, His infinite being and His holiness.  It also demonstrates the vast difference between our God and us. 

Isaiah spoke God’s words which eloquently illustrate this reality:

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD.”

Isaiah 55:8

Praise Him for His omniscience.  His love is extended to us every moment of every day.  His omniscience results in God’s executing His providence which will accomplish His fore-ordained plan, including His working all things to the benefit of His children.

The hymn “These Great Things” as sung on the album Glory to the Holy One, captures the marvelous response to God’s wondrous ways toward His children.  In speaking about this hymn, Randall Van Meggelen said the following in an article entitled “For the Church: Singing These Great Things,” dated May 28, 2015:

Occasionally the sheer grandeur and incomprehensibility of God’s wondrous ways leaves the believer in almost speechless awe. “These Great Things,” from Glory to the Holy One, expresses such a state. In pondering “How can it be,” the hymn momentarily hints at the opening textual and musical motifs of the beginning of Charles Wesley’s magnificent hymn, “And Can It Be.” Both hymns assert believing submission in the truth of God’s glorious Word and humble wonder at the “mystery sublime” of God’s great works.

“These Great Things” contemplates Paul’s glorious indicative that, for the called, “all things by His grand design work good for us by love” (Romans 8:28). “No tragedy shall win, no curse for those He calls His friends.” Our good, accomplished through God’s perfect means, is to be called “His friends” and “conformed to the image of His Son” (Romans 8:29) to the end that we would glorify and enjoy God in eternal communion (Westminster Shorter Catechism 1).

Here are the lyrics to this beautiful hymn.  I pray that you would let the words and wonder fill your heart as you listen and read the lyrics.

How can it be, this truth divine,
Declared by God above
That all things by His grand design
Work good for us by love

Called by our lord in purposed ends
No tragedy shall win
No curse for those He calls His friends
He saved us from our sins

Refrain

What shall we say to these great things?
Of mystery sublime
That if He is for us we can sing
Now and for all time

Foreknown by Him with
Hearts made new
To His Son we conform
No pow’r on earth can this undo
For those He’s made reborn

Refrain

First He did choose, and called He then
To surely justify
For those of the faith beyond our ken
He soon will glorify

Refrain

Father, I come to You and praise You for Your lovingkindness.  Through Your omniscience, You know me fully, and such knowledge is too wonderful and amazing for me to comprehend.  Your power and majesty is above all persons or powers, and yet You stoop to consider and love me.  Thank You Father.

WHAT MAKES THE DIFFERENCE?

The City of Chicago lies along the coastline of Lake Michigan, the only one of the five Great Lakes that is entirely within the United States.  The other four Great Lakes are shared by the U.S. and Canada.  Several years ago, I received slide pictures that my father had taken over many decades.  After reviewing the slides, I found this picture taken in 1960 of the coastline of Lake Michigan.

Chicago coastline along Lake Michigan circa 1960

Lake Michigan is a huge lake.  It is 118.1 miles wide and has an area of over 20,000 miles.  It’s maximum depth is 923 feet and it contains bowfin, largemouth bass, yellow perch, smallmouth bass and lake trout, to name a few inhabitants.

Many rivers and streams flow into Lake Michigan, with the major tributaries being the Fox-Wolf, the Grand, and the Kalamazoo Rivers.  Lake Michigan is connected to the Gulf of Mexico via the Illinois River (from Chicago) and by the Mississippi River. 

Scripture does not mention either the Great Lakes or Lake Michigan.  But it does mention at least two other bodies of water. 

A number of years ago I came across the following in a lesson.  

There are two seas in Palestine, which, in their contrast, preach a most eloquent sermon. 

The first speaks of forsakenness and desolation.  There is no splash of fish; there is no song of birds, no fluttering leaves, no laughter of children. Men call it the Dead Sea, also called the Salt Sea.

We read of the Salt Sea in Joshua 3 where we are told about how the Israelites crossed the Jordan River on dry land:

“So when the people set out from their tents to pass over the Jordan with the priests bearing the ark of the covenant before the people, and as soon as those bearing the ark had come as far as the Jordan, and the feet of the priests bearing the ark were dipped in the brink of the water (now the Jordan overflows all its banks throughout the time of harvest), the waters coming down from above stood and rose up in a heap very far away, at Adam, the city that is beside Zarethan, and those flowing down toward the Sea of the Arabah, the Salt Sea, were completely cut off. And the people passed over opposite Jericho. Now the priests bearing the ark of the covenant of the LORD stood firmly on dry ground in the midst of the Jordan, and all Israel was passing over on dry ground until all the nation finished passing over the Jordan.”

Joshua 3:14-17

The other sea is a delightful place with its emerald bays, its cobalt-blue expanses.  Along its shores little children play.  Its waters teem with fish. Songs of birds fill the air; it gleams like a jewel in a setting of superb natural charm.  Men call it the Sea of Galilee.  It is comparable to Lake Michigan, a thriving coastal area which is beautiful and which also is teeming with fish.

The Sea of Galilee is spoken of often in the New Testament, for example:

“While walking by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon (who is called Peter) and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen.”

Matthew 4:18

What makes the difference in these two neighbor seas?  Not the River Jordan; it empties the same good water into both. 

The difference is this: the Dead Sea has inlets but no outlets; the Sea of Galilee has an outlet for every inlet.  

There are two seas in Palestine.  What each does with the Jordan determines the difference between them. 

There are two kinds of people in the world.  What each does with Christ and in turn with him or herself determines the difference between them.  The one refusing Christ can only keep his/her worldly goods, remaining stagnant, and then leave the accumulated stuff behind when he/she dies. 

“And behold, a man came up to him, saying, “Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?”” …  Jesus said to him, “If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.”” When the young man heard this he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.”

Matthew 19:16, 21-22 

The other takes Christ, shares Christ, lives Christ, and finds abundant living through giving

“I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture.  The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” –

John 10:9-10 

There are two seas in Palestine; there are two kinds of people in our world.

Jesus understood that the crowds did not necessarily understand who He was.  Luke 9 describes a dialog that Jesus had with His disciples, asking them who the crowds said that He was.  The answer He received reflected the variety of possibilities that the people surmised – John the Baptist, Elijah, one of the prophets of old.

“Then he said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” And Peter answered, “The Christ of God.””

Luke 9:20

You see, it is one thing for the crowd to speculate on Jesus’ nature, but He wanted the disciples to think about Him: “who do you say that I am?” 

Jesus asks this same question to us today, in 2018.  “Who do you say that [He] is?”  Do you answer that with the fumbling response of the crowd or can you say like Peter: “The Christ of God”.  Is He your Savior or just a name from an historical document?  Is He your Lord or is He a mythical character who does not deserve your love, respect and honor? 

If your answer is the same as the crowd, your life, spiritually speaking, is comparable to the Dead Sea.  The Sea with inlets but no outlet. The Sea without life. Do you keep and hoard, so that ultimately you will lose all?

Or is your answer like that of Peter?  If so, your life is, spiritually speaking, comparable to the Sea of Galilee.  You have inlets: the Word of God, feeding on the Scripture, praying to the Lord and living with the Holy Spirit empowering you.  And you have outlets: service to others, worshiping with fellow believers, loving your neighbors, caring for the believers around you and spreading the message of salvation to those who come into your area of influence.  If you are not exercising your life in Christ so that others can see it, I challenge you to pray to the Lord and let Him energize you so that you will be a strong witness for Him.

There are two seas in Palestine.  There are two kinds of people in the world. 

Who do you say that He is?

Father, I pray that these words would encourage and strengthen the believers who read them.  I pray, too, that these words would be a challenge to non-believers to pray for the Lord’s leading them into a relationship with the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

 

ATTRIBUTES OF GOD – OMNIPRESENCE

In today’s world, we can go, quite literally, around the world.  While most of us cannot do that in person, we have the ability to travel to anyplace that we want to go, at least through technology. 

A striking comparison brought home how the 21st century has changed how we can be “present”, even across thousands of miles.  I came across my father’s pocket notebook from when he was in Europe during World War 2.  He said that he had written my mother, and it took 3 weeks to receive her response. 

In comparison, in the early 2000s, our son was in a war zone overseas during a long deployment.  At the cost of his sleep, he “skyped” home so that the children could see him and hear their father as if he was in the room with them, even though he was on the other side of the world.  But, he was not with them.

Our daughter went to Manila, in the Philippines, twenty years ago to work with a missionary doctor.  Given the machinations of the international date line and varying time zones, we put her on a plane on Saturday and when we returned to our home after church on Sunday morning, we had received a picture of her working in the clinic on Monday.  While we were excited to see that she was alright, she was not with us. 

Right now, the Winter Olympics are underway in South Korea, and I am certain that there are many parents, coaches and friends who have found their way to South Korea in support of the athletic competition.  Those of us who did not go to attend the competition in person can watch it in real time, and we can see their skill and cheer the wins and empathize with those who lost the round, but we are not with them, even though technology makes it seem as if we were.

All this to say, our saying that God is everywhere is a fairly understandable concept, much more so than in centuries prior to our own.

However, God’s presence is dissimilar to our presence in other places in every way possible.  God is everywhere at the same time.  In other words, there is nowhere that we can go, at any time, that God is not present.

God’s being everywhere at all times is known as “omnipresence”.  As with omnipotence, the “omni” means “all” and the “presence” means “existing, being at a place”.  He is existing at all places, at the same time.  This is sometimes referred to as “ubiquity”, meaning that God is everywhere present in the fullness of His being. 

In the Old Testament times, there were a multitude of gods in the land.  People thought of their gods in terms of territory or space.  For example, it was believed that the god of the Amorites lived in the land of the Amorites while the god of Philistia lived in the land of the Philistines, and the gods did not have power in areas other than their own geographical setting.  The plagues that God visited upon Egypt were targeted at the gods of Egypt, the Lord God establishing that He alone was God and that He had ultimate power and presence, even in a land supposedly ruled by other “gods”.  Indeed God repeatedly says that He is God and there is none like Him.

The God of Abraham, Jacob and Isaac is not limited in space or territory.  Our God is omnipresent – He is everywhere at the same time.

The omnipresence of God was stated eloquently by Rahab, the harlot who lived in Jericho and who gave refuge to Israel’s spies prior to their conquest of the city.  We read her understanding of God in Joshua 2:9-11:

“”I know that the LORD has given you the land, and that the fear of you has fallen upon us, and that all the inhabitants of the land melt away before you.  For we have heard how the LORD dried up the water of the Red Sea before you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to the two kings of the Amorites who were beyond the Jordan, to Sihon and Og, whom you devoted to destruction.  And as soon as we heard it, our hearts melted, and there was no spirit left in any man because of you, for the LORD your God, he is God in the heavens above and on the earth beneath.

God is so great that the heavens cannot contain Him.  1 Kings 8:27.   The prophet Jeremiah says God’s words:

“”Am I a God at hand, declares the LORD, and not a God far away? Can a man hide himself in secret places so that I cannot see him? declares the LORD. Do I not fill heaven and earth? declares the LORD.”

Jeremiah 23:23-24

As I have mentioned in previous posts on The Ruminant Scribe, one of my favorite passages in scripture is Psalm 139.  David experienced all the emotions, great joy, desperation, guilt, fear, shame, redemption, and in this passage, he describes the omnipresence of God:

“Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence?  If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there!  If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me.”

Psalm 139:7-10. 

I again would encourage you to read Psalm 139 in its entirety, and then contemplate the greatness of our God.  In the book of Acts, we read:

The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything.  And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, that they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us, for ‘In him we live and move and have our being’; as even some of your own poets have said, ‘For we are indeed his offspring.'”

Acts 17:24-28

Since God is omnipresent, we cannot take ourselves out of His presence.  This is a comfort for the Christian who takes joy in God’s presence and in following Him throughout our day.  This attribute is, however, not of comfort to the non-believer.  Rather, it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the God Who is aware of each and every act of disobedience and rejection of His Son, Jesus Christ.   

We cannot understand the omnipresence of God.  Job responded to questions from God, and he expressed his inability to understand God:

“I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted. ‘Who is this that hides counsel without knowledge?’ Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know. ‘Hear, and I will speak; I will question you, and you make it known to me.’  I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees you; therefore I despise myself, and repent in dust and ashes.”

Job 42:2-6

We, too, cannot understand how God can be ubiquitous but yet can take actions locally, where we live and work each day.  It is a doctrine that we accept, and because scripture teaches it, we can do no less. It is a doctrine that gives both comfort and warning. 

Praise our God for His incredible nature and for the love that He has exercised on our behalf.

Father, I confess that I do not understand Your omnipresence, the ability to be everywhere at once and to be present with all Your attributes in all places at the same time.  I cannot comprehend Your greatness, Your power, Your majesty, Your holiness. I am finite and mortal, You are too great for me to comprehend.  But I believe Your word, I believe Your Son is the Christ, the Messiah, Who shed His blood for my sin.  I praise Your Holy Name.

 

CLOTHED IN … WHAT?

Several years ago, the women of my church got together to sew dresses for children in  Southeast Asia and Africa who are cared for in a ministry called Homes of Love.  The children who were orphaned or abandoned are brought into a home where they are loved and cared for by their house mother.   [For more information about Homes of Love and the wonderful work that they are doing, see their website at homesoflove.org/]  The homes undertake a marvelous work, all in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. In fact, the Homes of Love motto is “Creating Families for Life”. The ladies in our church wanted to help by creating and sending some much-needed clothing.  Look at the impact that having new clothes can make in a child’s life.

At the time this project was undertaken, I was still employed full time, so I was not able to join in this effort.   Now, however, retirement has given me some time during the day that I could do something like this,, on a smaller scale of course, but I didn’t even think about it until Christmas when my husband surprised me with a new sewing machine.

1st Homes of Love dress - picture 2
First dress with cute buttons

 

I have now completed three dresses for the precious little girls. 

2nd Homes of Love Dress - Copy
Second dress, now with a pocket.

They are not professionally done, that’s for sure, and I know where the mistakes were made and remedies attempted; but, they were made because of love for our Lord and for His children.

3rd Homes of Love dress
Third dress with decorated pocket.

3rd Homes of Love dress - decorated pocket

This project has prompted me to consider the relationship between clothing and our spiritual well-being.

Dr. R. C. Sproul, in the Renewing Your Mind broadcast entitled “Clothed in Righteousness,” comments on the first covering mankind had.  [You can access this broadcast by going to renewingyourmind.org and then accessing the archive listing for January 16, 2018.] 

Immediately after Adam and Eve ate of the forbidden fruit, scripture says:

“Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths. And they heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden.”

Genesis 3:7-8

Prior to their sin, the first couple did not know embarrassment; they did not have feelings of shame because they were naked.  They were in perfect union with each other and with God. Their bodies certainly were not shameful; they were made specifically by God for each other.   In fact, each evening the Lord would come and walk with them through the garden.  No clothing, no shame, nothing to interfere with their enjoyment of their God.

But all that changed in an instant, when they ate the fruit from the forbidden tree; their eyes were opened, and Adam and Eve now felt embarrassment, shame, guilt.  They sewed fig leaves to make themselves a covering, to help them hide and when they heard the Lord, they ran for the trees to hide themselves from their God.  Note that their fig leaves were not clothes – they were coverings.  The intent was not to exchange nakedness with fig leaves; the exchange was between innocence and obedience in sharp contrast with sin, shame and guilt.

We are like that too, are we not?  When we have disobeyed God, or even merely our parents or employers, we are shameful, and we hide ourselves.  Guilt and shame are powerful agents for hiding, trying to disappear so that our actions will not be found out or, if they become known, at least we will not be around to see the consequences. 

God, of course, knew where they were and what they had done.  He didn’t need them to provide information to Him – He needed them to understand the full ramifications of their actions.  So, after they admitted what they had done, God punished them, issuing curses on the serpent, the woman and the man.  Then God said something miraculous, and indicative of His love for His creation.  In speaking to the serpent, God said:

“I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.”

Genesis 3:15

This is known as the “protoevangelium”, a fancy word meaning that it is the first gospel, the first good news found in Scripture, and it comes in the third chapter of the first book in the Bible.  It pronounces the curse on mankind because of Adam’s sin but God does not stop there … He goes on to tell of His provision for a Savior who would take the curse upon Himself, thus relieving His people from their sin.   Think of it — even though God cursed Adam and Eve because of their disobedience, their actions did not take God by surprise!  Genesis 3:15 tells us that God had already a plan in mind for a Savior who could restore the relationship between mankind and God, the Savior known as the Lord Jesus Christ. 

This is good news indeed, but for Adam and Eve, they were still in the trees with their fig leaves.  God could have told them to get out of the garden, to leave everything that He had given them, and get out!  Go roam wherever you want but you are not welcome here, under my shelter, under my protective hand. You disobeyed, and you brought this on yourself.

But instead, the Lord provided tangible evidence of His love and care, despite their disobedience.

“And the LORD God made for Adam and for his wife garments of skins and clothed them.”

Genesis 3:21

Before He cast them out of the garden, God himself made garments of skins for clothing of the man and his wife.  Dr. Sproul calls this “God’s first act of redemption,” and the first act that required the spilling of blood.  God did not cover Adam and Eve to hide them, He clothed them with skins.  Just as blood was shed when God clothed our first parents after they sinned, He offers to clothe us with the righteousness of Jesus Christ because of the shed blood of our Lord and Savior.

Scripture says that our best works, our best clothes, our best words and actions are as filthy rags before the Holy God.  So, we, like Adam and Eve, need clothes from God so that we can stand before Him.

The prophet Isaiah said it this way:

“I will greatly rejoice in the LORD; my soul shall exult in my God, for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation; he has covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself like a priest with a beautiful headdress, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.”

Isaiah 61:10

Beloved, Jesus Christ, our Lord has clothed us in His righteousness.  Praise His Holy Name!

Hear now the song “Clothed in Righteousness” as presented on the album entitled Glory to the Holy One.  The lyrics are presented below so you can follow the words as they sung.

 

Clothed in Righteousness, Lyrics

Fallen race in Eden fair
Exposed and full of shame
Fled we naked from Thy sight
Far from Thy Holy Name

Refrain

Clothe us in Your righteousness
Hide filthy rags of sin
Dress us in Your perfect garb
Both outside and within

 

Sent from the garden in the east
Outside of Eden’s gate
Banished there from Thy pure light
Were Adam and his mate

Scarlet souls are now like snow
By Thy atoning grace
Crimson hearts become like wool
For Adam’s fallen race

Refrain

 

No work of ours is good enough
For evil to atone
Your merit, Lord, is all we have
It saves, and it alone

Refrain

 

Father, I pray that the words of this post and the music presented here would be used by the Holy Spirit in the hearts of those who read the message and hear the music.  Thank You, Father, for Your Spirit and for Your love as You clothe us in the righteousness of Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.

ATTRIBUTES OF GOD — OMNIPOTENCE

Have you ever felt overwhelmed at something ahead of you?  Maybe it is a challenge physically.  Maybe it is overwhelming sorrow upon the loss of a loved one.  Perhaps it is failing health or an illness that you must face.  Everyone has felt being overwhelmed or that things are happening which are outside of your power, and you fear that you cannot battle through. If you cannot relate to this description now, rest assured that at some point in your life you will understand these words. 

We are mortal, finite, and of limited power and strength.  Many have accomplished great things in their lifetimes but even those at the pinnacle of power share the same mortality and finiteness of the rest of us.

But God is not like us, He is omnipotent. This is how John describes the power of God:

“And I heard as it were the voice of a great multitude, and as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of mighty thunderings, saying, Alleluia: for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth.”

Revelation 19:6 KJV

The Amplified Bible renders this verse as follows:

“Then I heard something like the shout of a vast multitude, and like the boom of many pounding waves, and like the roar of mighty peals of thunder, saying,

“Hallelujah!  For the Lord our God, the Almighty, the Omnipotent, the Ruler of all reigns.””

God is omnipotent.  It is one of the attributes of His character.  It is not something that He puts on and takes off.  It is part of His nature, it is eternal, and it will never change.  He is all-powerful.  His Name is rightfully called The Almighty. 

Omnipotence is not a common word for us, but its parts are.  “Omni” is a word prefix that means “all, every, the whole, of every kind”.  “Potent” is a word that means “having great power, influence, or effect.”  Thus, “omnipotent” means “having unlimited power; able to do anything.”  Only God is omnipotent. 

Consider the Book of Job.  There we read of a man who was subjected to loss of property and family, loss of extreme wealth, loss of health, painful boils covering his body, and yet through all of that, he did not curse God.  Rather, he remained faithful to God and was rewarded for that faithfulness. 

The point for our consideration, however, is not how Job reacted to the tests.  Rather, it is how it came to be that Job was tested in the first place.

This is how we are introduced to Job:

“There was a man in the land of Uz whose name was Job, and that man was blameless and upright, one who feared God and turned away from evil.”

Job 1:1

The next verses in the chapter detail Job’s wealth and power in the community.  Then the scene switches to heaven with Satan conversing with God.  The thrust of Satan’s discussion is that Job honors God because God has blessed him.  In other words, Satan challenged God to take away the hedge around Job and Job would turn his back on God.  The first challenge and God’s response is as follows:

“”But stretch out your hand and touch all that he has, and he will curse you to your face.” And the LORD said to Satan, “Behold, all that he has is in your hand. Only against him do not stretch out your hand.” So Satan went out from the presence of the LORD.”

Job 1:11-12.  Notice that God was in control.  God is omnipotent, and Satan is not.  Satan received permission to hurt Job but there was a limit that Satan could not exceed.  After receiving word that his entire family and all his flocks and herds had been destroyed, Job said:

“And he said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.” In all this Job did not sin or charge God with wrong.”

Job 1:21-22.  Satan was foiled.  Job followed the Lord and he did not sin.  But Satan did not leave poor Job alone.  The second challenge was set up:

“Then Satan answered the LORD and said, “Skin for skin! All that a man has he will give for his life.  But stretch out your hand and touch his bone and his flesh, and he will curse you to your face.”  And the LORD said to Satan, “Behold, he is in your hand; only spare his life.” So Satan went out from the presence of the LORD and struck Job with loathsome sores from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head.”

Job 2:4-7.  Satan was again allowed to test Job, but, as before, God put a limit on what Job could do.  God is omnipotent, and Satan is not.  Job again honored God despite his wife’s nagging that he should curse God and die.  Job 2:9-10

Job endured unimaginable pain and sorrow, and then he had his three friends who came to comfort him.  He remained faithful to God even though his friends encouraged him to admit his sin and get it over with! 

Paul said it this way:

“For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.”

Romans 11:36

In Ephesians Paul notes:

“In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will,”

Ephesians 1:11

The Psalmist expressed God’s omnipotence by stating in Psalm 115:3 “Our God is in the heavens; he does all that he pleases.”

The prophet Jeremiah talks of God’s omnipotence when he said:

“‘Ah, Lord GOD! It is you who have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and by your outstretched arm! Nothing is too hard for you.”

Jeremiah 32:17

Omnipotence mandates that nothing is too hard for God – things are either done or not done, according to His will, not because they are easy or hard.  God’s power to do all that He desires is the basis for His sovereignty which then accomplishes His providence. 

So, what does this attribute mean to us?  Beloved, it means that no matter what you are facing, no matter how horribly you are treated, no matter how severe the pain and suffering you are going through, God is in control. 

As finite and mortal beings, we are no match for Satan’s power.  But, God is neither afraid of Satan nor is He unable to control Satan.  Satan may be more powerful that we are, but He is not as powerful as God is. 

Keep Job in mind.  Satan can do nothing to us that God does not allow in His sovereign providence. 

Father, thank You for Your omnipotence, Your power over all things.  I take comfort and I draw strength from the fact that You are unshakeable and that Your will takes priority over all else.  Even when I don’t understand what is going on, I thank You that I can rely on You. I praise Your Holy Name!

FAMILIES

We know what families are – the traditional family was father, mother, children. 

The extended family was father, mother, children, grandparents, aunts and uncles, and cousins, and in the South, you also would add the “kissin’ cousins”.  (Having my roots in the North, I don’t exactly know what they are, but you hear it anyway!)

Go cart with grandpa
Papa and Grandson at a go-kart track.  Not at all certain which of these fine men had more fun, but I believe it was Papa!

Then there are the folks who play a role in the family but who are not blood-line related.  I’m thinking of the Grandma and Grandpa my children had when they were very young children.  My parents were hundreds of miles away and this wonderful couple had no children, but they bridged the generation gap and “adopted” my children as if they were their own grandchildren.

Gramma Ford
The “Grandma” feeding a precious child who she loved as her own..

When we would visit, the children ran to the kitchen and found the drawer where “Grandma” kept “kid friendly” candy at just the right eye level for them to see and grab. 

When we moved from one city to another, the children came under the care of another “Grandpa and Grandma” who lived just a few doors away from us. 

Jim and Virginia Metzger
Grandpa Jim and Grandma Virginia kept the children when I had to travel for work.

In fact, Grandpa Jim taught my daughter not to be afraid of dogs during the time they took care of her when I was a single parent and was out of town for work on an extended case. 

On a whole other note but no less significant to dear friends of ours, we are now taking care of a canine daughter of an elderly couple who have suffered pneumonia and the flu and are now in rehab to regain their strength.  Not being able to have their pup with them was a terrible concern for them, a concern which was alleviated by bringing her into our home.  This picture of her resting comfortably with our girls brought comfort to this “Mom and Dad”. 

Doggies with friend.jpg
The MinPins with their temporary sibling!

The marvelous wonder of each of these relationships is that they were from our church “family.”  Each of the couples who cared for the children and who are the loving “parents” of our canine guest are believers in the Lord Jesus Christ, and they worshipped with us every Sunday, and often during the week as well.

Scripture teaches us that believers in Jesus Christ are children of God. 

“The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs–heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.”

Romans 8:16-17

When we are received by the Holy Spirit and indwelt by Him through belief in the Lord Jesus Christ, we are adopted into God’s family.  We become children of God and each believer becomes our brother or our sister in the Lord.

“This mystery is that the Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.”

Ephesians 3:6

The Christians of the first century were Jewish, just as Jesus and each of the Apostles were Jewish.  Saul of Tarsus was a Jewish leader who persecuted the Christians.  He was going to Damascus to continue that persecution when he encountered the risen Lord Jesus Christ.  In Acts 9:15 we read that Saul, later to become Paul, was commissioned to minister to the Gentiles.  In preparation for Saul/Paul’s ministry, the Lord asked a disciple named Ananias to go and care for him.  He was understandably resistant given the fact that he knew Saul was coming to Damascus to round-up and persecute the Christians.   

“But the Lord said to him, “Go, for he is a chosen instrument of mine to carry my name before the Gentiles and kings and the children of Israel.”

Paul later wrote to the Galatians and said:

“There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”

Galatians 3:28

So, for the believer, his/her family is far broader than the bloodline would seem to indicate.  The Christian’s spiritual genealogy includes all the men and women and boys and girls who have been adopted into God’s family.  The love of Christ is shed abroad to each of the family members and, when one needs help, the body rushes in to care for the wounded.

When Paul wrote to the Thessalonians, he included a commendation for their works of brotherly love that extended to other bodies of believers throughout the area.

“Now concerning brotherly love you have no need for anyone to write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love one another, for that indeed is what you are doing to all the brothers throughout Macedonia. But we urge you, brothers, to do this more and more,”

1 Thessalonians 4:9-10

So, who is your family?  Certainly, your family is, at least, those who live under your roof, and the Christian has a clear obligation to care for and provide for his/her family. 

“But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.”

1 Timothy 5:8

But it is broader than that – for the Christian, the family is all those who worship the Lord Jesus Christ.  It is particularly those that worship with you, and we are charged to take care of the family of God.

So, who is your family?  Are there needs that have gone unmet?  Can you meet those needs?  Can you lend assistance to someone who is in your church family?  Can you bring encouragement to someone who is being attacked because of their faith?  The list of needs and opportunities is endless.

So, who is in your family and what needs might they have that you could alleviate?

Father, I pray that we would take the words of your Word and put them into effect in our hearts and in our actions.  I pray that we would not read your Word without being affected by it, without being transformed by it, without having it take root in our words and actions.  Let us be Your hands and feet to those who are in need, through the power of Your Spirit, I pray.

ATTRIBUTES OF GOD — IMMANENCE AND IMMUTABILITY

Today we are considering two aspects of God’s nature that we almost never think about, but which are aspects of the majesty of God with respect to His relationship with us – Immanence and Immutability.

IMMANENCE

Immanence is a fancy way of saying God is with us, always.  Our God is at hand and He works even through the minutiae of our lives to produce a love for and enjoyment of His Word and, in fact, of Himself.  This attribute is in direct opposition to the concept that God established the world and then just walked away and left it to spiral wherever it wanted to go.  That God did not involve Himself with the creation; once the creation was done, He was finished with it and things could go well or poorly and God didn’t really care.

In Jeremiah, God asks:

“Am I a God at hand, declares the LORD, and not a God far away? Can a man hide himself in secret places so that I cannot see him? declares the LORD. Do I not fill heaven and earth? declares the LORD.”

Jeremiah 23:23-24

The Psalmist frequently talks about God and His relationship with the creation.  One of my favorite chapters is Psalm 139 where David says God knows him so well that He even knows when we stand or sit, or recline in slumber.  God is so near that He knows what we are going to say, even before we express the words out loud.  There is absolutely nowhere on earth or heaven or hell that we can go where God cannot see us, reach us, hear us.  This chapter extols the immanence of God, without using that term.  Beloved, read this chapter and know that our God cares about you, personally and intimately.

In Acts 17, verses 27-28 we read:

“Yet He is actually not far from each one of us, for in Him we live and move and have our being; as even some of your own poets have said, ‘For we are indeed His offspring.'”

Acts 17:27-28 

Scripture describes our God as One who does not sit back and merely observe a creation which He set in motion millennia ago; He is present and actively participating in His world.

What does this mean to you as a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ?  Immanence is an attribute of God that provides the believer confident rest in the knowledge that there is no place or situation that is too far to be under God’s providence and protecting hand.  Things may be difficult as far as this world is concerned, but there is no reason to fear that things will remove you from His love and care.

Paul put it best:

“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Romans 8:38-39

IMMUTABILITY

Our world is always changing.  Even things that we consider unchangeable, immoveable – actually do change.

Half dome (C)
Half Dome, Yosemite National Park

Mountains such as those found in Yosemite appear so strong and solid, and they are – at least until God shakes them in an earthquake.  But even mountains are changed, albeit gradually, by the ravages of weather. 

Yosemite giant sequoia fallen tree (C)
Giant Sequoia Tree fell and its root system was exposed.

Even Giant Sequoia Trees that have stood for centuries, change and, at some point, will come crashing to the earth.  Change in this world is inevitable.

Because of this, we have a hard time contemplating the attribute of immutability.  Nothing in this world stays the same … everything changes.  But not so with God. 

Not only does God know every little thing that is going on with each one of us, His immanence, the attribute of immutability means that God will not change His mind when it comes to His ultimate will for His children’s care and protection. 

“For I the LORD do not change; therefore you, O children of Jacob, are not consumed.”

Malachi 3:6

God, Himself, is saying that He does not change – a characteristic that is totally foreign to us.  He is immutable.  He is the same today as He was before creation even existed. 

“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.

James 1:17

The fact that God does not change his mind, his characteristics, his plan, or anything else guarantees God’s character will remain the same and that which He has willed, will, in fact, occur.   

“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.”

Hebrews 13:8

This gives the believer security to know that when we have been adopted into God’s family through faith, we can trust God not to change His mind and “unadopt” us on a whim.

No man can slip through His fingers into the breach of hell if that person is a child of God and has expressed faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. God neither changes His plan, His covenants, His prophecies, nor His justice. In other words, God is dependable – God is immutable!

Listen to the beautiful hymn “Great is Thy Faithfulness”.   Note the words “As Thou has been, Thou forever wilt be.”  That’s immutability!  As you listen, identify other phrases that point to God’s immutability.  Praise Him that He is unchangeable, and He loves us with an unchanging love!

This hymn is sung by Robert and Robin Kochis on the album entitled “Great is Thy Faithfulness”.

Father, Your mercies, grace and love are magnificent.  Your involvement with us on a moment by moment basis is such comfort and security, even when things seem to be going poorly, we know that nothing will thwart Your plan for us.  I praise You for your Immanence and Immutability.  You are God.  I praise Your Holy Name.  May my life reflect Your grace to others throughout my days.

 

WHAT IS GREATER THAN ALL OUR SIN? GRACE

When we understand the character of God, when we grasp something of His holiness, then we begin to understand the radical character of our sin and helplessness.  Helpless sinners can survive only by grace.  Our strength is futile in itself; we are spiritually impotent without the assistance of a merciful God. 

Dr. R. C. Sproul, The Holiness of God, Tyndale House Publishers, © 1998. p. 180

God’s grace is the bestowal of blessing that is neither earned or merited.  God’s grace is extended to us totally because of Christ’s death on the cross.  He took the death that we sinful creatures deserved so that we could live our life in and through Him.

The Hebrew word for “grace” means favor, acceptance, kindness. 

In Genesis we read God’s description of the wickedness on the earth and of His intention to destroy all creation.

“So the LORD said, “I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land, man and animals and creeping things and birds of the heavens, for I am sorry that I have made them.”  But Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD.”

Genesis 6:7-8 KJV   The English Standard Version of this verse says “Noah found favor in the eyes of the LORD.”  But Noah found grace, favor, before God and Noah and all his family, as well as the creatures of the earth, were saved from the all-consuming flood that arose by God’s power.

In the book of Exodus, God, Himself, includes grace as part of His nature when He was speaking to Moses.

“The LORD descended in the cloud and stood with him there, and proclaimed the name of the LORD.  The LORD passed before him and proclaimed, “The LORD, the LORD, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness,”

Exodus 34:5-6 (KJV) and (ESV)

In Psalms 145:17 we read:

            “The Lord is righteous in all His ways, gracious in all His works.” (KJV)

            “The Lord is righteous in all His ways, kind in all His works.” (ESV)

While the word “gracious” is not used often in the New Testament with reference to God, the word “grace” is used over 100 times when speaking of God’s actions toward His children.

For example, Paul in his letter to the Romans uses the word “grace” often.

“for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by His grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus,”

Romans 3:23-24

“Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”

Romans 5:20-21

The writer of Hebrews says:

“Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”

Hebrews 4:16

The demonstration of God’s grace towards us comes in different ways.  There is the grace that God shines on the elect and wicked alike; this is called “common grace”.  The word “common” does not denote that the grace is cheap or ordinary.  Rather, this grace provides all of mankind blessings that are non-eternal, such as health, good weather, prosperity, rain, etc.  In fact, life itself is a gift of common grace.  He does not have to give life to any one, no one can demand it from Him, and He can take it when He pleases. Indeed, sinful man deserves nothing but death. 

Then there is that special grace which God demonstrates toward those whom He chooses to be His people, just as He did with the children of Israel.  We read in the book of Deuteronomy these words of God:

“For you are a people holy to the LORD your God. The LORD your God has chosen you to be a people for his treasured possession, out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth.  It was not because you were more in number than any other people that the LORD set his love on you and chose you, for you were the fewest of all peoples, but it is because the LORD loves you and is keeping the oath that he swore to your fathers, that the LORD has brought you out with a mighty hand and redeemed you from the house of slavery, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt.”

Deuteronomy 7:6-8

 

 

Cross
This sign is outside the “Minister’s Treehouse” in Crossville, Tennessee.
Jesus shed His blood for You and me. 

God chooses His children not because they are more powerful, wise, intelligent, charismatic, pious, handsome, or any of the other characteristics that we would consider important in selecting someone for some specific honor.  Rather, He chooses His children simply because that is what He chose to do.

This grace is amazing for it relies not at all upon us, but solely upon God and His providential will. Our adoption as children into His family is not based on any service or good we are capable to render. The enormity of this grace is impossible to comprehend, but our reaction to it should be bowing ourselves at the feet of the Lord in praise and rejoicing for His pleasure in granting us salvation.

The hymn “All Hail the Power of Jesus’ Name” encapsulates the response we should have to this grace of our loving Father.  Listen as The CenturyMen present this hymn on their album The CenturyMen Silver Anniversary, Disc 2.

May we crown Him Lord of All as we praise Him for paying our ransom from the fall, not because of any merit that we have, but because of His abundant grace toward us.

Father, there are no words to express our gratitude for the gift of Your grace.  Lord Jesus, we fall before You and praise Your name for Your paying our ransom so that we could be relieved of the debt of sin and come to You now, and forevermore.

 

ATTRIBUTES OF GOD – HOLINESS

When you think of holiness, or of being holy, what image do you conjure up in your mind?  Someone who is a “goodie-two-shoes” or a person who speaks and acts as if he is “too heavenly minded to be any earthly good”?  Or do you not have any idea of what holiness is, so you don’t have any image to ponder?

I realize that holiness is not something that we think about on a daily, moment-by-moment basis but, if we want to know God, we should consider it because holiness is fundamental to God’s character. 

Holiness is synonymous with God’s total purity and separation from the rest of creation.  Consider Adam and Eve’s reaction after they ate the forbidden fruit and God came to visit with them in the Garden of Eden.

“And they heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden.”

Genesis 3:8

Up until this time, Adam and Eve had enjoyed God’s presence with them, but when He came to them that day, they hid.  They instinctively knew that God was holy and they were not, they had disobeyed, they had sinned and God could not look upon sin.  They hid among the trees.

Consider when God called to Moses from the burning bush, after Moses walked closer to see it, God said:

“”Do not come near; take your sandals off your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.” And he said, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” And Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look at God.

Exodus 3:5-6

Moses surely was not afraid of a burning bush … it was a distance away from him and the flock, no threat.  He went over to investigate because it appeared that the bush was not being consumed by the fire. 

Why was the place Moses approached “holy” ground?  It was not because the sand was any different than the sand that was all around Moses in the wilderness.  It was not because the bush was different than all the others in the area.  It was because God was there, so Moses was in the presence of the Holy God.     

It was at that point that God spoke to him, and notice Moses’ response — he hid his face, he was afraid!  Why?  Because then Moses knew that he had encountered the holy God

“Holy” is the English translation of the Hebrew word “qodesh”, and it means “apartness”, “sacredness”, and “separateness.”  This set-apartness is evident in the Old Testament in texts such as Leviticus 20:7.

Consecrate yourselves, therefore, and be holy, for I am the LORD your God.”

Here God is telling the people to consecrate themselves, in other words to sanctify, to dedicate, to separate themselves for a special purpose or use. 

In the Book of Acts we read:

“While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.””

Acts 13:2

Setting apart for a specific task from God is one way we acknowledge that God is holy and that even people who are doing His work should be separated from that which is worldly or ungodly.

God’s holiness can be understood as moral purity, although it is much more than that.  His holiness, His purity, is eternal and incorruptible, there is no time or likelihood that God will, at some point, no longer be holy or pure.  This total purity, total separation from anything that is sinful, explains why God gave detailed commands in the Old Testament about the way mankind could approach God. 

USED Canterbury cathedral view of the altar area
Looking toward the altar in Canterbury Cathedral,
Canterbury, England, if man can build such a glorious place, imagine what Isaiah saw!

One of my favorite passages in scripture is Isaiah 6. The prophet Isaiah had a vision of God and he described it as follows:

“In the year that King Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and the train of his robe filled the temple.  Above him stood the seraphim. Each had six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one called to another and said: “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!” And the foundations of the thresholds shook at the voice of him who called, and the house was filled with smoke. And I said: “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts!” Then one of the seraphim flew to me, having in his hand a burning coal that he had taken with tongs from the altar.  And he touched my mouth and said: “Behold, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away, and your sin atoned for.” And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” Then I said, “Here I am! Send me.””

Isaiah 6:1-8

Forgive me for quoting so much from the passage but I want you to get the full impact of Isaiah’s vision.  Just a look at the description of the LORD.  Listen to the angels, the host of heaven, calling “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts.” 

What is Isaiah’s reaction in this vision?  Essentially the same as Moses’ reaction to God’s presence.  Isaiah said “WOE IS ME!”  “I AM LOST!”  “I AM … UNCLEAN!”  In his vision, Isaiah was afraid because he instantly recognized that God is holy, and he was not.

Centuries after Isaiah wrote of his vision, John was on the island of Patmos and wrote the Book of Revelation, citing the same words as Isaiah heard.

“At once I was in the Spirit, and behold, a throne stood in heaven, with one seated on the throne. … And the four living creatures, each of them with six wings, are full of eyes all around and within, and day and night they never cease to say, “Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come!””

Revelation 4:2,8

God’s holiness is one of the primary reasons why the advent of Christ is so amazing.  Because of Jesus’ coming to this earth and dying on the cross, men, who were once unable to come before God, now can kneel before the throne of God and worship Him forever and ever. 

Because of the cross and His resurrection, because of our faith in Him as Lord and Savior, we no longer must hide our face or be afraid of God.  We now can join the heavenly chorus and shout “Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty!”  We can face God clothed in the righteousness of Jesus Christ and, rather than hiding our face, we can come to the throne of God and call Him “Abba, Father.” Praise His Holy Name!

Listen now to the hymn “Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God Almighty” s on the album  “Hymns for all the Saints: Adoration, Praise, Comfort” from Concordia Publishing House.

Father, I pray that I would never lose sight of the wonder and glory of Your holiness.  I praise Your name that Jesus Christ died so that His righteousness would cloth my sinfulness, so that I could join with the heavenly chorus and praise Your Holy Name.