Bryce Canyon in Utah was one such place for us. It was beautiful and the hoo-dos were intricately made from rain, wind and ice. They were not carved by water! We stood at the canyon rim and we were breathless in its beauty and expanse.
Another place that took our breath away was Yellowstone National Park in Montana.
The stunning terrain …
The smoking pits with water way past the boiling point …
Geysers like the White Dome geyser that spewed hot water high into the air …
And Old Faithful geyser that is so predictable its eruption can be timed to the minute.
We live in a chaotic world where people have a difficult time getting along, where people murder and maim those who hold philosophies different than theirs, and where wars and rumors of war disrupt life for millions of people on a daily basis.
But, when we look at nature, we see God’s magnificent handiwork and His power, even in this fallen and sinful world.
David said this about God’s creation in the Psalms:
O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory above the heavens.
The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.
The heavens are yours; the earth also is yours; the world and all that is in it, you have founded them.
The heavens proclaim his righteousness, and all the peoples see his glory.
For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him;
Paul, in the letter to the Romans, says this about God:
For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.
Beloved, look around and see the glory of God. It is evident in the beauty of nature. God’s glory is shown in His creative work, even today. The beauty of flowers and trees, of birds and animals, the beauty of a newborn baby. Yes, sin has entered the world and it is not the glorious creation God intended, but evidence of God’s power and nature still exist, even in this fallen world.
Take time to open your eyes and behold the beauty of God’s creation. Then, praise Him for His wondrous works to the children of men.
If you don’t know Jesus Christ as your savior, seek out a Christian who can tell you about the Lord and help you come to saving faith in the Savior who gave His life for His people. Then you will be able to rejoice and view the world in a new light, an everlasting light through Jesus Christ, our Lord and Redeemer.
Father, thank You for the glorious creation You provided for us. I pray that whose who don’t know You would seek out someone who could guide them in their walk with Jesus. I ask this in Jesus’ Name, Amen.
If you follow The Ruminant Scribe regularly, you are probably tired of hearing about our two miniature pinschers, Cuddles and Snickers. Their antics are legendary, well, not legendary but to us they are terribly funny!
At times other than during the Christmas season, we have a sofa that is in the living room under the picture window. The “girls” love to sit on the top of the sofa and look out the window, scanning the street for anyone who would dare walk in front of the house. Indeed, one of the things we love is coming up the drive and into the carport while we see their faces watching for us from the back of the sofa. Of course, they are barking little dogs. Thus, they sit on their perch and bark like banshees when someone walks along the road, only to be quiet when the person is out of their view.
While we are eating in the dining room, we have this view of them! It is humorous because they are always in the same relative position. Cuddles on the left and Snickers on the right.
The last couple of days, however, we have had rain and extreme fog. So much so that we could not even see the house across the street, and the canine banter was severely hampered (praise the Lord)! They still watched outside but they couldn’t see anything!
This morning, however, the girls were, again, sitting on the sofa while we were having breakfast and the sun was shining outside. All at once I saw it.
!!!! Doggie Nose Smudges !!!!
Their nose marks were all across the front window. As long as the fog and clouds were around, I did not notice them. But when the sun hit the window, the smudges were clearly in view.
That started me thinking.
When we are not walking in the Lord’s will, when we have intentionally failed to help others, when we ignored the cries of the widow, or when we have stubbornly refused to share our funds with those less fortunate than we, we are tempted to think that God is not paying attention. Or, perhaps we think that God does not see what we are doing. Or, perhaps we think we are immune to such actions because we pay our money to the church!
But, when the light of His Word shines in our heart’s window, we see clearly and it is not a pretty picture. We see the ugly, sinful smudges we have made on the window of our heart, and we need to repent and confess our sin.
“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
Do we do this? Do we honor God and love Him with all our heart, mind and soul? Do we love our neighbor as ourselves? What would our life look like if we obeyed these two commandments?
Regarding the ten Commandments, do we follow them? I dare say that most of us have not committed adultery or murdered anyone. But what about worshipping anything other than God? Have we made money, fame, family, status, profession, … more important than God? Have we become our own idol, putting ourselves in the place of God? All these idols can supplant the place appropriately reserved for God, the Father Almighty.
Or consider coveting. That is not a term that is in high use and demand these days, and probably for an amazingly simple reason – it is not something we want to be condemned for. We lust after other people, we crave attention, we covet the possessions others have that we do not. Coveting is something that is so common in our society that we don’t recognize it, but it is pervasive and it is sin.
What about the Sabbath day? I remember when the blue laws prohibited the sale of anything on Sunday; not so now. Everything can be sold on Sunday. Or what about taking the name of the Lord in vain? I remember when there were certain words that were banned from music and television, not so now. Anything goes, even to the point where many of us blush and change channels because of the language, sex and violence portrayed.
Does the Christian have to follow these “old” laws? I answer that question with a question – Does the character of God change from age to age?
For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.
For a thousand years in your sight are but as yesterday when it is past, or as a watch in the night.
Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.
Perhaps we need to refocus and remember that the Old Testament is the basis for the New Testament. We may be in the post-resurrection period of time, but what God detests in the Old Testament He still detests today. His character does not change.
I hasten to add that we are in the season of grace because of the salvation we have been given through Christ’s death on the cross. Forgiveness for sins is available to us in a way that the Old Testament folks could not imagine. But, sin is still sin and we must confess it and repent.
“My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.”
Be guided by the Good Shepherd and follow Him all your days. Confess where we have gone astray, ask for forgiveness through the blood of Jesus Christ, and redirect your attention to what God says in both the Testaments of the Bible.
Ask God to cleanse the smudges from your heart and rejoice again in the clear, clean joy of God’s salvation.
Father, I pray that You would forgive me when I have disobeyed Your commands. Increase my love for You Lord and guide me all my days.
In reading our way through the Bible, we have come to the Book of Daniel. It has always been a favorite of mine; the stories are so full of the details of Daniel’s life as an exile from the Holy Land while he lived in Babylon under King Nebuchadnezzar. Scripture tells that Daniel and his three friends were elevated to positions of authority after God gave them learning and skill in literature and wisdom, and Daniel had understanding of visions and dreams. Indeed, after their year of preparation, the king questioned them in every matter of wisdom and understanding, and the king found them “ten times better than all the magicians and enchanters that were in all his kingdom.” Daniel 1:20.
In the next chapter we find the king asking that the wise men of the kingdom interpret a dream that he had. In fact, the “king commanded that the magicians, the enchanters, the sorcerers, and the Chaldeans be summoned to tell the king his dreams.” Daniel 2:2. The king became incensed because none of the wise men could state the dream, let alone its interpretation, and it was a troubling dream indeed. At this point, the king ordered that all the wise men be destroyed! Daniel 2:12.
Since Daniel and his friends were considered to be wise men, although they were not consulted by the king about this dream or interpretation, the king’s captain came to take Daniel away. Daniel asked what the problem was and the captain explained the situation. Then Daniel went to the king and asked that the king would appoint him a time so that he could provide the king’s interpretation and the wise men would be spared.
Daniel went to his home and told his three friends about the problem, and the four of them entreated wisdom from the Lord. The mystery was revealed by God to Daniel in a vision in the night.
Ultimately, Daniel went in before the king who asked: “Are you able to make known to me the dream that I have seen and its interpretation?” Notably, Daniel did not say that he could do this. Rather, Daniel said:
“No wise men, enchanters, magicians, or astrologers can show to the king the mystery that the king has asked, but there is a God in heaven who reveals mysteries, and he has made known to King Nebuchadnezzar what will be in the latter days.”
After Daniel detailed the dream and then gave the interpretation, the king had his response:
“Truly, your God is God of gods and Lord of kings, and a revealer of mysteries, for you have been able to reveal this mystery.”
In response to God’s revelation to Daniel, the king gave Daniel high honors and many great gifts; and made him ruler over the whole province of Babylon and chief prefect over all the wise men of Babylon.
For the purpose of this blog, however, the point of the story is not so much that Daniel interpreted the dream and then was promoted and all the foreign wise men were saved from certain death. Rather, it was what Daniel prayed after receiving the mystery from God, before going back before the king with the interpretation.
Unlike something that I would do, Daniel did not run to his friends and shout “I know the secret”. “We will be saved because of what I tell the king.” Or perhaps “I am so glad that God told me what the king wants to know. I bet this will bring on a nice promotion, and maybe even some perks!
No, after receiving the answer, this is what Daniel said:
Blessed be the name of God forever and ever, to whom belong wisdom and might. He changes times and seasons; He removes kings and sets up kings; He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who have understanding, for He reveals deep and hidden things; He knows what is in the darkness, and the light dwells with Him. To you, O God of my fathers, I give thanks and praise, for You have given me wisdom and might, and have now made known to me what we asked of you, for you have made known to us the king’s matter.
How often do we thank God for answers to prayer?
When we pray, do we expect God to answer? When He gives us an answer, are we surprised?
Do we recognize God is the source of wisdom or have we bought into the culture’s line that we can answer our questions by ourself, without any “outside” intervention?
Do we really believe that God will hear and answer our prayers?
Daniel did. He and his 3 friends prayed for wisdom so that he could answer the king’s demand and so that they would not be destroyed along with all the other wise men of the kingdom. There was no doubt in Daniel’s mind – God would answer his prayer and grant him the wisdom to know both the king’s dream and its interpretation.
Indeed, even the wise men said that no one except the gods could do what the king was asking. But their gods did not respond; how could they? They were stone, iron, bronze, wood. They were work of craftsmen who made the idols and then bowed down to them.
Daniel’s God, however, is not made of wood or stone. He is the Creator of all things. He is the Almighty God, the One who is omniscient, who knows all things; He is omnipresent, everywhere at the same time; He is omnipotent, all powerful. There is absolutely nothing that He cannot do if He desires to do it.
Beloved, God is the same today as He was in Daniel’s day and as He will be at the end of time. God does not change; He is Holy and He is eternal. And there is an additional benefit to praying to God in our day – our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, is sitting at the right hand of God and He is interceding for us on our behalf. We have an advocate, and He is our Lord.
What does that mean to you? It means that you can pray to God with full faith and confidence that He will hear your prayer and will answer you according to His will for you. Our Lord and Savior is sitting with God and the Holy Spirit will guide you as you pray. You have the entire Trinity at your disposal when you pray!
Be like Daniel and ascribe to God the praise that should go to Him. Or give thanks and praise to Him beforeyou get the answer. What a blessing you will receive when you do that!
Father, forgive me when I have considered prayer to You as a burden, or something that I just didn’t want to do. Forgive me when I have prayed without any expectation that You would answer. Forgive me when I pray for things that are transitory or temporal. May I pray in recognition of my own frailty, sin and unworthiness as I approach Your presence, knowing that I can approach Your throne with confidence through faith in my Lord Jesus Christ.
I am pleased to introduce you to a Guest Writer today, my beloved Husband and editor of The Ruminant Scribe, Bill Mowles. He wrote this submission several years ago, but I only became aware of it recently and I wanted to share his comments with you.
The Webster’s definition of “incomprehensible” is “impossible to comprehend”. Not hard to understand, not difficult to put into words, but impossible to comprehend.
During a Sunday School Class on the development of the Church, the leader used the word “incomprehensibility” in the context of our inability to fully understand God. Indeed, when cataloging 15 attributes of God, one author stated:
What are God’s attributes? When we talk about the attributes of God, we are trying to answer questions like, Who is God, What is God like, and What kind of God is he? An attribute of God is something true about him. While fully comprehending God is impossible for us as limited beings, God does make himself known in a variety of ways, and through what he reveals about himself in his Word and in his creation, we can begin to wrap our minds around our awesome Creator and God.
As I thought about the incomprehensibility of God following this class, I resisted the use of our relationship with our dog Cuddles as an example of this concept. But I kept returning to how similar our understanding of God and Cuddle’s understanding of us seems to be.
What we do must seem incomprehensible to her. We make her food and water appear, and while she “knows” when we go to a particular cabinet that a meal is forthcoming, she cannot grasp why, or what we have to do to make sure that there is food there to give her. She “knows” that when we put her harness on her that she is going for a walk or for a ride, but she has no control over what will happen to her, nor can she tell if she is going to visit a dog park (a good thing) or the vet (not quite so good). She seems to understand somehow that we are the source of all of this.
I’m amused at her expression sometimes when we are doing something not related to her care; she cocks her head to one side and seems completely puzzled. “Why”, I imagine she is thinking, “do they spend so much time staring into those funny lights on their laps (computer and cell phones), where I should be? Or that big funny light on the wall (television)?“ We provide her every need, because we care for her and want her to be well. But we don’t grant her every wish, nor do we give her a snack whenever she wants one.
Likewise, God is our loving Father, and from the beginning made available to us our every need. He has created a world made perfect for our needs. He has given us His Word, to feed on, to guide us, to make us understand what He wants for us. He doesn’t explain everything and He doesn’t give us everything we might want, but He provides our every need.
I feed the Squirrels. I started doing this to keep them out of the bird feeders, but have continued because the little rascals can be pretty entertaining, One day, when I was putting the peanuts in the little hinged box and the ears of corn on the holders, I became aware of Cuddles barking at me, She might have been saying, “why are you taking care of them? They don’t belong to our family! They don’t love you like I do!” She doesn’t understand that I care about them too.
This made me think about some of my responses to situations: Why am I surprised that God makes the “rain fall on both the just and the unjust (Matthew 5:45)? Why does God let “bad things” happen to good people? (the unbeliever’s favorite argument!) Why does He call people home to Himself when we aren’t ready to see them go?
These questions have the same answer: because there are things about Him that He is not ready for us to understand. God is incomprehensible to us now, but we will understand them when He calls us home. His ways are not our ways and His thoughts are not our thoughts. (Isaiah 55:8).
What God wants from us, here and now, is that we trust Him and to know that He is providing. He wants us to love Him and glorify Him as best as we can. He wants us to embrace the gifts He has given us, curl up in the lap of His Son, and be a part of His Body.
And I don’t need to understand much more than that!
Father God, I praise Your name for all that You are, and I pray for the wisdom and peace to accept Your will, which is beyond my comprehension. In all things, gain or loss, joy or sorrow, may Your will be done.
We know that God has many attributes, some of which are singly those of God and we cannot begin to compare ourselves with Him. Others, however, are called “communicable attributes” and these are characteristics that God has granted to us. Attributes of omniscience, omnipotence, omnipresence, for example, are attributes that belong to God alone. Even the most arrogant of people cannot assert that they can be in all places at once!
Other attributes, though, have been given to human beings, albeit in a watered down version of the pure attributes of God. For example, love is an attribute of God and it is an attribute that He has communicated to us.
God’s love, called agape love, is self-sacrificing. it is love which thinks only of the object being loved, without any strings attached, without any consideration of love being returned in kind, without any anticipation of that love being returned. it is pure love for the one who is loved.
Because we live in a fallen world and we are sinful creatures, the love that we give to others is much more selfish and self-centered. We love others but there is always at least a little bit of “what’s in it for me” associated with our loving actions. At a minimum, we expect to be thanked for the kindness that we are exhibiting.
Recently, a friend sent me this video showing the mutual bliss that God’s created beings show when love is extended to them. I expect that there are those who would argue that animals don’t feel love, they are just humoring the humans who feed them. Or, I expect there are those who would argue that God did not give animals emotions at all. I respectfully disagree!
I am not a veterinarian, and I am not an animal psychologist. I am merely a woman who has had dogs in her life for almost its entirety. The joy, comfort and pleasure that my dogs have given, and continue to give, to me is wonderful. And, we love the pets in our home, taking joy in seeing them playing and interacting with each other and with us.
Oh, that we would exhibit God’s love to each other. Scripture says:
… but God shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by His blood, much more shall we be saved by Him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of His Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by His life.
God loved us when we were His enemies, because we are sinners who disobey His commands continually. Sinners who take His blessings for granted, without gratitude or recognition. Sinners who flaunt our achievements as if we did them on our own, rather than realizing that God is the One who enables us to do everything!
Yet, despite our sinful nature, God loves us and sent His Son to be our Savior, Redeemer. That is the love we should exhibit to others. Because He loved us, we should so love others.
Father, forgive me when I have been self-centered and have not loved others as You have loved me. Open my eyes, my mind and my heart so that I can love as You love, through the power of the Holy Spirit, I pray.
We have seen many old buildings, most of which were in horrible disrepair due to their age, harsh weather and lack of maintenance, on our travels through the U.S. Some are not falling down [yet], just boarded up, no longer relevant to the modern era.
When I see an old barn, house, store, whatever, I think about the people who lived there many years ago.
In South Dakota we stopped at Fort Hays, outside Rapid City, and visited some buildings that were used in the movie Dances with Wolves.
Although this was a movie set, not the “real” old buildings, it still is a reminder of that way people lived in years past. No matter the actual age of the structure, structures from the past are fascinating to me. The stories that they could tell about what happened there and how people lived and acted within the structure. The past holds good and bad memories, recollections of good times that are often countered by remembrances of times that were not so good, possibly even horrible!
There are times that Satan throws our sin back in our face and we can get mired in the muck of self-pity, self-doubt, loathing, etc. In short, if we get stuck in the past by recollecting the depravity of our ways, we cannot live the abundant life God wants us to have in the present.
God is all knowing and all powerful, eternal and loving, holy and good. Reformed theology teaches that even before creation existed, God knew us, He saw all our actions and knew the words we would speak, both those that were intended and careless. The plan of salvation existed before creation, because God knew we would sin and need a Savior. Because of His love, He sent His Son to be that Savior for His children.
Paul told this truth to the Ephesians so long ago:
“But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses,made us alive together with Christ, (by grace you have been saved;)”
This certainly is not something that I can explain, it is a matter of faith. I can, however, thank Him for the grace and mercy extended to me in the forgiveness of my sins. The Psalmist says:
“For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us.”
Matthew Henry comments on these verses, in part, as follows:
As the heaven is high above the earth (so high that the earth is but a point to the vast expanse), so God’s mercy is above the merits of those that fear him most, so much above and beyond them that there is no proportion at all between them; the greatest performances of man’s duty cannot demand the least tokens of God’s favour as a debt, … Observe, God’s mercy is thus great towards those that fear him, not towards those that trifle with him. We must fear the Lord and his goodness.
As far as the east is from the west … so far has he removed our transgressions from us, so that they shall never be laid to our charge, nor rise up in judgment against us. The sins of believers shall be remembered no more, shall not be mentioned unto them; they shall be sought for, and not found. If we thoroughly forsake them, God will thoroughly forgive them. [Emphasis mine]
The difference between God and man is referenced by the prophet Isaiah where God is speaking and says:
“For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.”
God’s ways and His thoughts are fundamentally different from ours. When He forgives, He wipe the slate clean. There is no remnant of the sin to remind Him that we deserve punishment. Rather, He has cleaned our sin ledger with the blood of His Son and there is no longer any record of our sin before God.
So, when you begin to focus on the sins of the past, surprise Satan and tell him to take a hike. Turn your eyes to Jesus, the lover of your soul and the One who bought you with a price, His sinless blood. Don’t let your past eliminate the present. Look to Jesus and worship Him, then rejoice!
“I will greatly rejoice in the LORD; my soul shall exult in my God, for he hasclothed 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.”
“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice.“
For the Christian, the antidote to living in the miserable part of your past is to rejoice for the glorious love of your Redeemer in the present and to think about the joy we will have when we see our Redeemer in the future and for all eternity to come. For the one who does not believe in Jesus Christ as his/her personal Savior, there is no escape from your past until you call upon Him and claim Him as your Savior. Do so today!
Father, Thank You for the truth of your Word and for the Holy Spirit who enables us to live a victorious life as a testimony of your marvelous, steadfast love and mercy. Forgive us when we focus on the past, when You have already erased it from our account, when You have already credited us with Jesus righteousness because of His death and resurrection, as we have come to the cross in faith and believed on Him as our Savior.
We were driving along the road from Richfield, Utah to Bryce Canyon when we saw Panguitch. What is Panguitch, you might ask? It is a lovely, small town just 24 miles from Bryce Canyon, and we felt like we were driving through the old west a century ago (as long as you didn’t notice the traffic lights, paved road and modern cars!).
The town is small, but it has a rich history. According to the town’s website, “Panguitch” is a Native American Paiute word meaning “Big Fish”, a reference to the many lakes in teh area which are teeming with award-sized rainbow trout.
The site further describes the town by saying: “This historically rich town is unassuming, quaint, and full of its own charm. Sprinkled with wild-west history, the city boasts small museums, original architecture, stunning wilderness, and plenty of pioneer spirit.” (Emphasis mine.)
Have you ever stepped back in time? I know we can’t do it for real, but have you ever thought about a time different than our own? Perhaps it was a time in your life when things were wonderful, even though you didn’t realize it then. Or, perhaps you were reading an historical novel and found yourself lost in the time period of the characters in the book. Or, perhaps you were watching a television series like Downton Abby, and you found yourself thinking how you would have reacted if you had been living at that time.
No matter, the point of that I want us to think about is that God created time, and God is outside of time. What was yesterday, today and tomorrow for us are all the eternal present for God.
I certainly cannot explain it, because my mind is limited to time references of a temporal human being. But, the eternal Creator of time is certainly able to be outside of time. He has existed forever and He will continue to exist forever.
In Deuteronomy we read:
“There is none like God, O Jeshurun, who rides through the heavens to your help, through the skies in his majesty. The eternal God is your dwelling place, and underneath are the everlasting arms. And he thrust out the enemy before you and said, ‘Destroy.’”
Deuteronomy 33:26-27 ESV (see the endnote for more information about Jeshurun)
This verse tells us that none of the gods of the nations around Israel were capable of doing for their worshippers that which Jehovah did for His people. Matthew Henry says this about this passage:
Riding on the heavens denotes his greatness and glory, in which he manifests himself to the upper world, and the use he makes of the influences of heaven, and the productions of the clouds, in bringing to pass his own counsels in this lower world: he manages and directs them as a man does the horse he rides on. When he has any thing to do for his people he rides upon the heavens to do it; for he does it swiftly and strongly: no enemy can either anticipate or obstruct the progress of him that rides on the heavens.
His boundless eternity; he is the eternal God, and his arms are everlasting. The gods of the heathen were but lately invented, and would shortly perish; but the God of Jeshurun is eternal: he was before all worlds, and will be when time and days shall be no more.
God’s eternality is one of His attributes that is fundamental to our understanding of His nature. He existed before the Creation of all things and He will continue to exist long after this world has gone. He doesn’t need to “step back in time” because all of time is in Him at the same time.
But for us, we time-bound people, while we can think back and recall other times, we have no ability to think forward to the future. That belongs to God.
“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.”
Jeremiah 29:11 ESV
Jesus put it this way:
“Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”
Matthew 6:34 ESV
Beloved, no matter what faces you today, be aware that God knows of your situation and He has it in His control. There is simply nothing that comes your way that either surprises God or that is too difficult for Him to deal with – He is omniscient, omnipotent and omnipresent. In other words, God knows all things, God is all powerful, and God is present everywhere.
All the idols that mankind has created share at least one fundamental characcteristic – they are all manmade. God, however, is not manmade: rather, He created man. Trust Him. Believe in Him. Look to His Son who paid the price for mankind’s sin and believe in Him for your salvation and eternal life.
Moses was right – “There is none like God”.
Father, I thank You for your word and I thank You for loving your people with an everlasting love. You are God. Forgive me when I have looked to other gods for help when only You can give me life abundant now and eternal hereafter. You are God, and there is none other.
[By the way, Jeshurun is a poetical name for the people of Israel that is used as a token of affection. Its meaning is “the dear upright people” and it is used in only four places: Deuteronomy 32:15, Deuteronomy 22:5, Deuteronomy 33:26, and Isaiah 44:2.]
Many years ago, before my biological children were born, we were foster parents for several children who were placed, for a variety of reasons, in a nearby children’s home.
As an “adventure” one weekend, we took our foster children to a Civil War battlefield, complete with canons and stacks of cannonballs. It also had a museum and much for the children to interact with as they learned about what happened at the Chickamauga Battlefield so many years earlier.
When we went to the cashier to pay for our souvenirs, the Park Ranger standing there looked at our family and said to our son, “Boy, you sure look like your Father!” and to our daughter he said “And, you really look like your Mom!” We smiled at him and paid for our goodies, and then left.
In the car, we chuckled about the Ranger’s well-meaning comments. They were especially humorous since both children were in foster care and of no blood relation to us. Furthermore, they were not brother and sister but were from two separate families.
Ultimately, I did have two children, a son and daughter, and when they were in preschool, my husband left us and divorce ensued.
Then the Lord brought Bill into our lives and, 31 years later, we are still married and the “children” (now in their 40s) are very much in love with him.
When Bill had taken our son to the store for some clothing, the cashier looked at the two of them and said “Boy, your sure look like your Father!” Without correcting the clerk, without discussing step-relationships, and without missing a beat, our son said “Yes, I do.”
We were thinking about these comments recently and I wondered if I looked like my Father. Do you?
We have just concluded consideration of just a few of the attributes of God, the Father, and I thought we should bring those discussion down to earth. Do we look like our Heavenly Father?
I know that we cannot be like God, we are merely creatures who are sinful and who live in a fallen world. But some of the attributes that are of God can be found in us if we let Him live in our hearts through the Holy Spirit.
For example, Eternality is totally outside of our experience, we are time-bound, temporal, finite. But Mercy is something that we can extend to those who wrong us in some way.
Omnipotence, Omniscience and Omnipresence are attributes that no one would ever credit me with having, that’s for sure. They reside within God and are not communicable to either you or me.
Holiness is surely one of the attributes that sets God apart from the sinful creation ever since the fall of man in the Garden of Eden. But, Scripture says that we are to be holy.
“For I am the LORD who brought you up out of the land of Egypt to be your God. You shall therefore be holy, for I am holy.””
“but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.””
1 Peter 1:15-16
I cannot be holy on my own nor can I become holy through any effort or action that I take. I am sinful and will be sinful all my life. But through the righteousness of Jesus Christ, in the eyes of God, I can be holy.
Justice is another attribute of God that is tied to His Holiness. God is repeatedly called Just in Scripture and we are told that His actions are always just.
“For the LORD your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great, the mighty, and the awesome God, who is not partial and takes no bribe. He executes justice for the fatherless and the widow, and loves the sojourner, giving him food and clothing.”
While Justice is an attribute of God’s intrinsic nature, it is also something that we are commanded to be.
“He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?”
Love, the attribute of God’s nature which Jonathan Edwards called “the sum of all Christianity”. God loved us even when we were sinners and unable to approach Him even in prayer. Through the Holy Spirit, we were made part of God’s family because of His love.
In Romans 11, the Apostle Paul uses the imagery of an olive tree into which branches have been grafted, the tree, rooted in Jesus Christ, is referencing the Jews while the branches that were grafted onto the tree reference the Gentiles.
Adoption is another image presented in Scripture with respect to God’s love. The Amplified Holy Bible renders Ephesians 1:4-6 as follows:
Just as [in His love] He chose us in Christ [actually selected us for Himself] [as His own] before the foundation of the world, so that we would be holy [that is, consecrated, set apart for Him, purpose-driven] and blameless in His sight. In love He predestined and lovingly planned for us to be adopted to Himself as [His own] children through Jesus Christ, in accordance with the kind intention and good pleasure of His will to the praise of His glorious grace and favor, which He so freely bestowed on us in the Beloved [His Son, Jesus Christ].
We have been loved by God, through Christ Jesus, and have been adopted into His family. What does that mean for us here on earth, surrounded by so many who do not know Him? We are to love each other and are to live as disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ so that men can see Him when looking at us.
“By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love.”
“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.”
“You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. These things I command you, so that you will love one another.”
So, the question hangs in the air – do you look like your Heavenly Father?
At church on Sunday morning?
At the supermarket on Tuesday?
At the work meeting where your project is being criticized?
When someone cuts you off on the highway?
When you can’t think because the neighbors’ dogs are barking?
Do you look like your Heavenly Father? Do I?
Father, we so easily call You Father even though we had nothing to do with Your adoption of us. Your grace in giving us eternal life came at the incredible cost of Your Beloved Son’s atoning death. Your mercy was extended to us even while we were still wallowing in our sin. Oh, Father. Your love and compassion is too wonderful for us to comprehend. All we can do is thank You and pray that we would be transformed through Your Spirit into the image of Your Beloved Son, our Savior, Jesus Christ. May we look more and more like Jesus and, thus, more and more like You each day.
For the past number of weeks, we have considered a number of God’s attributes, looking at scripture and asking the Holy Spirit to help us understand and appreciate our God more and more each day. I must confess that, while we have thought about 13 attributes, this is clearly not an all encompassing listing. I would encourage you to do your own study of God’s attributes; I am confident that it will enrich your relationship with your heavenly Father.
During the time of our study, we have considered:
Eternality – the attribute that attests to God’s existence from all eternity past as well as future. In short, God has always existed. He is outside of time; indeed, He created time for His creation.
Mercy – the attribute which we rely on daily as we come to God in repentance and seek forgiveness for the sins which we so readily commit against Him. As believers in the Lord Jesus Christ, God extends mercy to us because we are covered by His Son’s precious, atoning blood.
Goodness – the attribute which underlies God’s character. God IS good. We have no way of knowing that which is good apart from what God has revealed to us. Indeed, scripture teaches that there is no one who is good, “no not one”. Goodness belongs to God.
Omnipotence – the attribute which highlights God’s power. There is nothing that He cannot do. He has “all – power” – He is omnipotent. While it seems that He is powerless at times when horrific evil raises its head, God is watching and waiting to take action in His time and for His purposes. Rest assured, Beloved, God is not powerless – have faith and see what He will do.
Holiness – this attribute focuses on the “set apartness” of God. He is holy. He is set apart from all that is sinful; from all that is unclean. His holiness is shown in His glory and magnificence. We are called to be holy as well, but our holiness can only come through Him; it is not intrinsic to our nature or our actions.
Omnipresence – the attribute of God which describes his presence in all places. He is all present. Psalm 139 highlights this attribute beautifully. There is no place where we can go that we will not be with God. He cannot lose us because He is omnipresent. When ask God to be present with us during prayer, we are acknowledging that we desire His presence and it is also a conscious reminder that He is, indeed, with us.
Immanence – the attribute of God which is akin to omnipresence but wonderfully different. Immanence highlights the fact that He not only is present everywhere, He is working even through the minutiae of our lives to produce a love for and enjoyment of His Word and, in fact, of Himself. God takes an active part in what is going on in His world.
Immutability – 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. God 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. Therefore, since God does not change, we have confidence that His character will remain the same and that which He has willed, will, in fact, occur.
Righteousness – this attribute means that God’s character or nature always leads Him to do that which is right. We know that God is holy — righteousness is His holiness in action. We, too, are called to be righteous, but we cannot do so on our own merit. Rather, we rely on the righteousness of Jesus Christ.
Omniscience – this attribute is the third of the “all” or “omni” attributes and it refers to God’s all-knowledge. He is all-knowing. There is nothing that takes God by surprise. He knows each person, and even to the extent of knowing the number of hairs on your head.
Justice – this attribute is tied to God’s holiness. Disobedience, sin, demands punishment because God is holy. In His mercy, however, God provided a ransom for us through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. R. C. Sproul said:
The most violent expression of God’s wrath and justice is seen in the Cross. If ever a person had room to complain of injustice, it was Jesus, he was the only innocent man ever to be punished by God. If we stagger at the wrath of God, let us stagger at the Cross. Here is where our astonishment should be focused.
Sovereignty – God is sovereign over all mankind or anything that mankind worships, nothing compares to our God and Lord. God’s sovereignty is a tremendous comfort to the believer because it enables him to have confidence that he does not need to fear, God is still on His throne and He is still sovereign – in charge – in control, no matter what might be going on in this temporal world.
Love – this attribute was called “the sum of all Christianity” by the Puritan Theologian and Pastor, Jonathan Edwards. God’s love, agape love, is total, unconditional and everlasting. We don’t have to do anything before God will love us. The Holy Spirit said it through Paul’s writing: “while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” This is the example of divine love for a being that can offer nothing … it is supreme love that is contingent not on the person being loved but on the nature of the One doing the loving.
One final thought. We have rather dissected God’s attributes, separating them one from another so that we could consider each of them in their fullness. But, God is not made up of separate parts – these attributes exist in Him and they are all active at the same time, eternally. Dr. Sproul says it like this:
God’s perfection applies to all of His attributes. His power is perfect; it has no weaknesses or any possibility of weakness. His knowledge is not only omniscient but reflects perfect omniscience. There is nothing that God does not know or that He could possibly learn. … God’s love, His wrath, His mercy – all that He is — is perfect. Not only is He perfect, but He is eternally and immutably so. There never was a time when God was less than perfect and there is no possibility that in the future He may slip into any kind of imperfection. What has been with God will be so forever. His perfection is immutable. It cannot change.
Beloved, honor this incredible, majestic, holy God and be in reverent awe of Him and of His power, justice, mercy and love. Come to Him and remember His attributes and give glory to Him, now and forever more.
Father, we cannot conceive of Your attributes in their fullness and beauty. We have insufficient words or understanding to comprehend Your nature. But, we bow in humble submission to You and declare Your greatness. Forgive us for our unbelief, for our disobedience, for our refusal to help our neighbor. May we reflect on Your attributes and may we praise Your holy name.