We have entered a new year, 2018. In considering what God has done for us through the past year, I was contemplating what we believe about Who our God is, what is He like, what is His nature? In other words, what are the attributes of our God?
So, as we begin this year, we will consider the attributes of God as a special “series” of posts each Friday for the next several months. A couple of notes at the outset of this series.
There are numerous listings of the attributes of our God, and I will not be covering each and every one.
I certainly will not consider the posts here to be the final authority on any of the topics, but I pray that we would think about the nature of God and His attributes and realize that each of them have a significant impact on our faith in Him.
There will probably be times when pictures are not appropriate for the post topic. So please bear with me.
There will likely be many questions, comments, and elements of the attributes that I do not cover in the post and tangential positions that I did not explore. I would encourage you to let me know of your comments, etc., and if there are questions I will gladly respond. But, the posts are not intended to be exhaustive studies on the attributes.
I pray that the studies presented here will whet your appetite for your own further, more detailed, study of the attributes of God so that your understanding of Him will be deeper than ever before.
If your family is like mine, on New Year’s Eve we held out until midnight when we watched the ball drop to mark the beginning of the new year. As we were ticking off the minutes to that moment when the calendar changed and 2017 was gone forever, we pondered just where the “old year” went? How did time fly away so quickly? What have we done with the time that God has granted to us?
Since “time” was so paramount in our thoughts that evening, I thought the best place to begin in consideration of the attributes of God would be His Eternality – that is His eternal nature. That post will begin the series next Friday, January 12.
As we begin to consider this topic, I would ask that you pray for guidance and that, together, we will grow to be even more in love with our God, His Son, and His Holy Spirit than ever before.
Blessings to each of you, my dear followers, as we embark on our 2018 journey.
We speak of love often in our conversation with others. We love people, animals, objects and activities and it is usually a love that is conditioned on a multitude of different factors. For example, we love those related to us in a different way than we do our general acquaintances.
We love some flowers and not others.
We love certain foods while others wouldn’t eat it or even touch it!
In our modern culture, we fall in love and things are heavy with passion and emotion. But, when difficulties arise or when someone younger/prettier/richer comes along, we fall out of love; and often there is just as much heated passion against the other party as there was when we fell in love in the first place.
The bottom line is that there is almost always self-motivated volition involved in human love. And, we consider love as an emotion, as something that we feel, and when the feeling is gone or when it is transferred somewhere else, so is the love.
But, not so with God. Scripture says that God IS love. It is one of the attributes of our God – it is part and parcel of His nature.
“Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.”
1 John 4:8
Indeed, we are COMMANDED to love the Lord our God, and not just a little bit or for a limited time! In Deuteronomy 6:5 we read:
“You shalllove the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.”
Jesus reiterated this commandment in Matthew 22:37 and then He expanded the command in Mark 12:29-31 by saying we are to love God as commanded in Deuteronomy, but then we are also to love our neighbor as we love ourselves.
Jesus took love out of the emotional/spiritual world and puts it into the physical/material world. Love is action rather than mere emotion. We see our neighbor and we are not to have mushy, mind consuming passion for our neighbor; we are to love him/her.
The Apostle John elaborates on the commandment to love others when he says:
“In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. …
We love him, because he first loved us.”
1 John 4:9-11, 19
There it is in a nutshell – we love God BECAUSE He first loved us. We cannot love Him on our own – we are sinners and He is holy. We can’t do anything spiritually to make Him love us — all our “good works” are like filthy rags in comparison to the holiness of God. See Isaiah 64:6. BUT, God Himself gave His Son so that we could approach Him, so that we could love Him, so that we could love others through Him.
Since we received love while we were undeserving sinners, we certainly should not have any trouble following the commandment to love others, whether they are loveable or not, whether they return the love to us or not, whether they like us or not, whether they can help us achieve some goal or not.
There should be no reciprocal obligation in our love to others. God’s love to us is one directional – He initiates it and gives it to us through His grace. Yes, we are to love Him in return, but the full commandment is that we love others as he loved us.
That is the way we are to love others, especially those who are of the family of faith. We may not agree with each other on various issues, but if we are Christians, if we have been adopted into the family of God, we are commanded to love each other.
“Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.”
God loved us even when we were dead in our sin and unholy before Him. He sent Jesus Who walked in love and gave Himself to the death on the cross so that we could be accepted by God, so that our sin would be paid for, and so that we would be granted the righteousness of Jesus. When we understand the gravity of our sin and the holiness of God, we will see that we can and must love others unconditionally, because but for the grace of God we would be in the same condition before God.
Others will know that we have been adopted into God’s family by the way we love them.
In this new year, love others as He loved us. Unconditionally, whole-heartedly, and without judgment. Let our love for others be our witness of our love for Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord. Take love out of the world of platitudes and put it into action, real life, concrete, discernible and undeniable action.
Father, I pray that the meditation of my heart is acceptable to you this day. I pray that you would forgive me when I have failed to love others as You have loved me. And I pray that your Word would be used by the Spirit to illuminate the hearts of those who do not know You.
We hear that cry everywhere we go. “Merry Christmas to you!? At least we hear it unless the speaker doesn’t want to acknowledge Christmas in which case it is “Happy Holidays”. That seems to cover the waterfront of celebrations at this time of year.
Then we also hear the phrase “Jesus is the Reason for the Season”. We see it on greeting cards, plaques, china, even coffee mugs at Cracker Barrel.
I certainly agree that Jesus came to earth as a baby born to a Virgin, although whether it was December 25 is somewhat in doubt. I am glad that the phrase at least indicates that we are celebrating Christmas because our Savior came, and if it encourages people to think about our Lord’s birth then I am glad for it.
But is He really the reason for the season? In a blog post by Jill McIlreavy on her website Mustard Seed Blog entitled “Jesus is NOT the Reason for the Season” she argues that the phrase is theologically wrong – WE are the reason for the season. [You can find her blog at https://mustardseedblogs.com and I encourage you to read her post that gives her thoughts about this phrase.]
You see, Jesus did not leave His home in heaven because He wanted to visit our planet, or because He wanted to take a “road trip” or because He wanted to see how the “other half” lived!
“Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”
He left glory to come to this earth in humiliation: born of woman, in a cattle shed, with no clothing other than rags. The manger became a king-sized bed as it was where the King of Kings was laid.
Think about it – the One who was coexistent with God the Father from all eternity, even before the world was created and before His plan for mankind was put in place, the Creator of the world and everything in it had absolutely nothing upon His birth. The One who could call legions of angels to do His bidding had nothing but a mother and stepfather as the Babe was surrounded by farm animals.
Why would He do such a thing? Why would He suffer such indignities as these? He was despised by those in power from the moment He arrived. Then after three years of declaring His message, He was rejected by the very people He came to save. He was betrayed and belittled; He was mocked and beaten; He was crucified. He voluntarily died a death so horrible that only one of His followers remained with Him. Why would He do that?
Because God loved YOU and ME.
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.” – John 3:16-17
He came so that WE could come to God in repentance and humility, so that WE could hear the Holy Spirit tugging at our hearts and pointing us to Him, so that WE could receive forgiveness of our sins. He knew what awaited Him on earth … He willingly went through agony because of God’s love for us!
He came because of us – WE are the reason for the season.
Father, I thank You and praise Your holy name for sending Your Son from heaven and for His obedience in coming to this planet to live a sinless life that we could not live and for dying a death that we deserved but which He did not, all so that we could be forgiven of our sins and have a life here and forevermore with Him in heaven.
In the English language, we use the word “seasons” with reference to many different things.
For example, we talk about the season of childhood, when new things are learned and experienced every moment of every day. Sometimes those lessons are hard and painful, other times they are fun and silly.
Then there is the adolescent season, when lessons are a bit more difficult and the consequences are more far-reaching but also where we have unbounded energy and dreams of exciting days ahead.
We later arrive at the season of adulthood where we are still challenged with new problems and adventures [I am thinking about adjusting to technology here!]. Disappointments may arise when we are downsized from a long-held job. Hardships may come when physical disabilities are hampering living life to the fullest. Tears may fall as the child has to become the parent as dementia takes over the mind of a loved mother or father.
No matter what season of life we are in, God is there with us. David writes:
“He asked life of you; you gave it to him, length of days forever and ever.”
There is the season for work and accumulation of wealth. But when we think we have arrived, we must take a second look at the situation:
“And I will say to my soul, ‘Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.’ But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?'”
Many are the souls that work hard, care for their family, accumulate goods and money in the bank, without regard to caring for their soul. It is paramount that we remember this world is not the end … as wonderful as it is, we will all perish and spend eternity somewhere. Bank accounts won’t matter there – what matters is the relationship we have with God through Jesus Christ, His Son.
We use the word “seasons” to talk about various holidays and celebrations. In the United States, for example, we have the season of Thanksgiving, a day when we recall those first settlers from Europe who endured hardships and forged the basis for our country to grow. We give thanks to God for His providence in preserving and sustaining those early settlers. Often the meal centers around the Thanksgiving turkey! (Of course, every day should be a day of thanksgiving, not just one time per year!)
On the heals of Thanksgiving we have the season of Christmas, the time we celebrate the birth of the Lord Jesus Christ. It is a time to focus on the advent of our Lord, the ultimate gift of God to us. The Christmas tree and representations of the nativity scene are found in many homes across the country.
A sweet description of the season of the blessed life is found in the very first psalm in Scripture. David, in speaking of the man who walks in the counsel of God, says:
“Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers.”
God is in all our seasons. He is the one who gives us life and breath. He gives us security when we follow Him and walk in His Ways. This verse does not mean that God promises that we will have material wealth here and now. This is not the prosperity gospel from the Old Testament.
Rather, God is speaking of prospering us in spirit, the ultimate evidence of this is the gift of Christ as our atoning sacrifice so that we can approach God in prayer and so that we will be accepted into heaven because we have been adopted by God into the family of the Lord. Adoption as a child of God is true prosperity and security.
Father, thank You for giving me the security of being a child in Your family. I love You and praise my Lord and Savior for all that He has done. Help me to see Your Hand in all the seasons of my life and may I live each day You give to me to the honor and glory of Your name. I can only do that through the power of Your Son, and my Savior.
It is no secret that I have been doing many more crafty things since retirement than I had time for while working. I have been enjoying experimenting with canning, sewing, knitting, and yesterday I started crocheting.
My grandmother taught me to crochet while I was in elementary school, but it had long gone from my memory and my hands don’t remember the motions that come automatically when experienced hands pick up the crochet hook.
After a tutorial on Google, I started work on a baby cap with my crochet hook when my dear husband asked what the difference was between crocheting and knitting.
He understood the obvious difference – one uses pointed needles while the other uses a single hook. But otherwise, it seems that they are alike. They both usually start with a slip knot, then they take some material, likely yarn, and, through a series of knots, they create something to wear, display, etc.
After this discussion, I continued crocheting and thought about the differences between crocheting and knitting, and that disparity brought to mind the sermon series based on the book of 1 John that is underway at our church. John was telling his congregation that there were teachers in their midst who perhaps sounded good but were teaching false doctrine. They needed to beware that their own doctrine was not compromised.
“Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world.“
1 John 4:1 ESV
In other words, John is warning his readers to be careful. Something might look and sound like teaching from our God but it might not be so. Similar but different.
But, John not only warns them, he tells the young Christian body how they can “test the spirits” of those who have been teaching them. What is the test?
“By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you heard was coming and now is in the world already.”
1 John 4:2-3
Only true believers can confess with their mouth that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh, that He has died, that He arose from the dead, and that He is God incarnate. God in flesh just as we are, except He is without sin so that He can be the perfect sacrifice to atone for our sin.
Knitting and crocheting are similar but different.
People who preach anything other than Christ crucified and now alive in the flesh and in Heaven are not preaching the gospel. They might dress the message up with words that sound good, that is to say, their message may sound similar, but it is not a saving message from the Bible or from the Holy Spirit if it does not focus on the crucified Christ.
There are many things upon which we can agree to disagree. Manner of baptism or number of sacraments, for example. But this is not one of them.
“Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world.“
Paul said the same thing a bit more colorfully:
“Let God’s curse fall on anyone, including us or even an angel from heaven, who preaches a different kind of Good News than the one we preached to you. I say again what we have said before: If anyone preaches any other Good News than the one you welcomed, let that person be cursed.”
Galatians 1:8-9 NLT
Similar but different. Who cares? We all should care because the difference is whether you will have eternal life in heaven with our Lord and Savior or whether you will have eternal life in hell … one way or another you will be existing eternally. Being with our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is far better than the only other alternative.
Father, I praise Your name for sending Jesus Christ as our atoning sacrifice so that we can come to You through Him as our Savior and Lord. I pray that the words of this missive would encourage the readers to call on the Holy Spirit if they do not already know You, and if they are believers, I pray that they would study only under those who preach and teach the message of Scripture, not of worldly wisdom.
Sometimes we get a glimpse of the incredible variety and diversity among even things that usually look very similar.
While that sentence sounds like gibberish, I am thinking of the glorious beauty that God gives each Autumn when the leaves on most deciduous trees change from their traditional green color into an incredible pallet of colors of various intensities, hues and shades.
As we were driving through the mountains of Virginia recently, the views from the highway were breathtaking as the colorful leaves broadcast their praise to their Creator. The beautiful views in the mountains made me think of the Scripture speaking of the joy we can have through Jesus Christ, our Lord.
In Matthew Poole’s in-depth commentary on Isaiah 55, he says the scripture speaks of an invitation to seek spiritual blessings from Jesus Christ, who was sent by the Father. We should come to Christ speedily, by repentance, and rest assured that His grace is infinite, His Word is powerful and that believers in Him will have joy eternal.
In Isaiah 55:12-13 God is speaking, and it reads as follows:
“For you shall go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and the hills before you shall break forth into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands. Instead of the thorn shall come up the cypress; instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle; and it shall make a name for the LORD, an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off.”
The mountains and hills and the trees of the field will break forth in singing and clapping their hands at the joy of the Lord and at His reign.
Westminster Confession of Faith, Chapter IV.1 says:
It pleased God the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, for the manifestation of the glory of His eternal power, wisdom, and goodness, in the beginning, to create, or make of nothing, the world, and all things therein whether visible or invisible, in the space of six days; and all very good.
Scripture confirms this statement of faith. See for example:
For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities–all things were created through him and for him.
Psalm 33:5 says:
He loves righteousness and justice; the earth is full of the steadfast love [goodness] of the LORD.
This world was created by our God for His glory, and even the plants and animals were created for His glory. In fact, we, too, were created by God and it is our incredible privilege to live for His glory and to love Him supremely.
Beloved, does your spirit soar when you consider the love that the Lord has for you? Do you look around at this beautiful time of the year and see the Lord’s hand outstretched before you?
Open your eyes and see the marvelous works of God. Praise His name and come to Him in repentance and love. Bless His name throughout your days, and the peace of our Lord will rest upon you eternally.
Father, thank You for evidence of Your love and blessing as we look around us during the beautiful autumn days. I pray that I would not take these blessings for granted but that I would praise You and glorify You each day that I live. In Jesus name, I pray.
We were visiting in Tampa recently when we were invited to have lunch at a restaurant named Ulele. It is in the old waterworks building so it has a charm that modern buildings just cannot replicate.
Inside the restaurant, there is a magnificent bronze statue of a stallion created by Victor Delfin, that is the focal point of the décor.
Standing closer to the figure you get a sense of its size and musculature.
Scripture contains many references to horses. One that I dearly love is found in the book of Job where God is responding to the demand for answers that Job propounded to Him:
“Do you give the horse his might? Do you clothe his neck with a mane? Do you make him leap like the locust? His majestic snorting is terrifying. He paws in the valley and exults in his strength; he goes out to meet the weapons. He laughs at fear and is not dismayed; he does not turn back from the sword. Upon him rattle the quiver, the flashing spear, and the javelin. With fierceness and rage he swallows the ground; he cannot stand still at the sound of the trumpet. When the trumpet sounds, he says ‘Aha!’ He smells the battle from afar, the thunder of the captains, and the shouting.”
Job 39:19-25 ESV
This description of the horse grips me with awe for the strength, courage and resilience of this mighty animal. But we are warned in Proverbs to give credit where credit is due:
“The horse is made ready for the day of battle, but the victory belongs to the LORD.”
Proverbs 21:31 ESV
When we have battled a temptation and won, we must not boast in the victory – rather, we give God the glory for the victory because He enabled us to be victorious.
Further, we read in Psalm 147 that while God created both the horse and man, their strength does not bring God delight:
“His delight is not in the strength of the horse, nor his pleasure in the legs of a man, but the LORD takes pleasure in those who fear him, in those who hope in his steadfast love.”
Psalm 147:10-11 ESV
Just think of the privilege we have — we can bring pleasure to the Creator of the universe! When we reverence the Lord, when we cling to His steadfast love, it is in those times that we bring the Lord pleasure! The prophet Micah reminded the people that God has told them what He required:
“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?”
Micah 6:8 ESV
These same commands apply to us today. These things bring our God pleasure!
One of the final references to the horse in Scripture is in the last book of the Bible, Revelation where we read:
“Then I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse! The one sitting on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he judges and makes war.”
Revelation 19:11 ESV
Our Lord will be victorious. He will come in righteousness as the perfect Judge of the world He came to save but which rejected Him. For the Christian, the white horse is a welcome sign; for the non-believer it bespeaks of judgment and rejection.
So, do you trust in the horse or in the One who created the horse and who will ultimately return on a white horse in judgment at the end of time?
Father, I praise Your name for sending Jesus Christ to be our atoning sacrifice on the cross. Thank You, Lord and Savior, for Your obedience and willingness to come to save us from our sin. Thank You, Holy Spirit, for quickening the hearts of Your children so that we can believe on the name of the Lord and be saved.
Just a short note to say that Today, October 31, is the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation. October 31, 1517, marked the beginning of the unveiling of the light of the gospel that had been hidden during the dark Middle Ages. It was a day that resulted in being able to spread the word that salvation is available through faith alone in Christ alone.
Martin Luther stood up and faced the authorities, challenging them to accept Scripture as God’s Word and the sole guidance for our life and as the rule for our faith.
He also penned multiple hymns, the most famous of which is “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God”, based on Psalm 46. This hymn celebrates the sovereign power of God over all earthly and spiritual forces, and it highlights our sure hope that we have through Jesus Christ. It is said that Luther’s hymn was on the lips of the people and that it encouraged the faint-hearted, bringing strength to fight the battle of the Lord.
It was sung at Augsburg during the Diet, and in all the churches of Saxony, often against the protest of the priest. It was sung in the streets; and, so heard, comforted the hearts of Melanchthon, Jonas, and Cruciger, as they entered Welmar, when banished from Wittenberg in 1547. It was sung by poor Protestant emigrants on their way into exile, and by martyrs at their death. It is woven into the web of the history of Reformation times, and it became the true national hymn of Protestant Germany.
Studies of Familiar Hymns, by Louis F. Benson, D.D., The Westminster Press, 1903, “A Mighty Fortress is Our God” at page 159.
Listen to this wonderful hymn and praise our God for the work of Luther and the other Reformers 500 years ago. Then, praise God for His preservation of His Word and for His marvelous Gift to the children of men!
Here is “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God” as presented on the album Hymns for All Saints: Adoration, Praise, Comfort, (Concordia Publishing House).
As you listen to this wonderful hymn, praise our God for the work of Luther and the other Reformers 500 years ago. Then, praise God for His preservation of His Word and for His marvelous Gift to the children of men! Now, work for God’s kingdom and pray that 500 years from now, if the Lord has not yet returned, the light of the Reformation will still shine out over our planet!
On August 21, 2017, many of us in the continental United States had the opportunity to witness a total solar eclipse. While I am told that eclipses occur frequently, there has not been a coast-to-coast total solar eclipse in the United States since 1918.
The moon cast a 70-mile wide shadow over the earth as it traversed between ourselves and the sun. How could the moon block out the sun? The numbers are easy to understand but incredible to comprehend. The sun is 400 times greater than the moon, but the moon is 400 times closer to the earth than the sun.
Even though you no longer can see the sun itself in the total solar eclipse, its power is impossible to contain as the corona emanates from the sun while the moon appears to linger on its journey. The corona is a superheated region of plasma located above the sun’s photosphere, and scientists assert that it extends for over five million kilometers. Staggering figures that give further evidence of the magnificence of our Creator God.
There are many who will write tomes about this eclipse, and my offering here will surely be rudimentary and simplistic, but, after seeing this heavenly event, I can only be in awe of God’s majesty and glory, repeating what the Psalmist said:
On the glorious splendor of your majesty, and on your wondrous works, I will meditate.
God has chosen to communicate Himself to us through the glory and majesty of His created order, nature. The theologians call this General Revelation or Natural Revelation – that is to say, these are the works or acts by which God reveals himself through nature.
The purpose of General Revelation is to make God’s eternal power and deity manifest to all mankind.
For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 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.
The solar eclipse caused me to sing praises to my God and the Father of my Lord Jesus Christ. Truly His eternal power and divine nature were on clear display during the eclipse, confirming the truth that His majesty is above earth and heaven. His glorious splendor is apparent in His creation, and His works are, indeed, wondrous. Praise God that He has provided evidence of Himself in nature and in His created order.
Father, I thank You for the privilege of watching Your creation operate in such wondrous ways. I praise Your name for the gift of seeing Your power and majesty as they are exhibited in Your creation. You are God, and there is none like You. Praise and honor are due to You, and You alone.