KNOWING GOD

Believers are usually pretty comfortable with revering God for his immortality, power, and perfection, and so we should be. He is the Creator, in whom we live and move and have our being. He is the Great I Am. But our connection with God will always be unfolding. If a person only focuses on the immensity of God, and on reverence for him, they will know little intimacy. If a person understands the great freedom we are promised in Christ but knows no reverence, they will be without foundation, To walk closely with God, we must be ever journeying, getting to know facet after facet of the divine nature. It is madness to think of him as less complex, less finely calibrated than ourselves.

God has sovereignly chosen to make himself vulnerable, in that he experiences difficult and negative emotions, along with great joy and delight, in response to earthly events.

The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And the Lord regretted that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart. 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.” Genesis 6:5-7

Divine regret is a difficult concept, as it challenges our understanding of infallibility. We relate regret to either poor choices, bad luck, or lack of knowledge – ‘If I knew then what I know now, I wouldn’t have done it.’ But God was fully cognizant of every one of his actions and choices, and still found himself regretting some of them. For God to feel regret, he must therefore be vulnerable to our choices. Free will must actually be free, and poor choices on our part can cause divine pain. The Lord gets upset and frustrated, just as He is pleased and delighted by us in turn. The only way I can make sense of this vulnerability is as a deliberate, sovereign choice. The Lord of All could have placed himself above such feelings, but instead, he chose a version of creation in which the choices of his children affect him.

We can see the breadth of God’s emotions at work in the life of Jesus. What do you make of the following passage?

‘O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing!’ Matthew 23:37

Compassion, for example, drove him to acts of kindness and mercy, such as healing the sick.

‘And Jesus went forth, and saw a great multitude, and was moved with compassion toward them, and He healed their sick.’Matthew 14:14

Jesus knew ordinary, everyday emotions too, such as pleasure and friendship. There was a particular disciple he was closer to than any other, on a human level. John is referred to as ‘the disciple that Jesus loved’ on several occasions and was depicted leaning back on Jesus’ chest at the last supper to ask him a question. On the cross, Jesus charged this same disciple with looking after his mother, and his mother with looking after this disciple.

When Jesus, therefore, saw His mother, and the disciple whom He loved standing by, He said to His mother, “Woman, behold your son!” Then He said to the disciple, “Behold your mother!” And from that hour that disciple took her to his own home.’John 19:26-27

How human! How relatable! On the day of his death, he was concerned about those he was leaving behind, providing for their emotional needs by calling them, mother and son. How dear, how important, this must have been to Jesus, at that moment.

There was no time when the emotions of God were stretched like they were in the Garden of Gethsemane.

‘And He was withdrawn from them about a stone’s throw, and He knelt down and prayed, saying, “Father, if it is Your will, take this cup away from Me; nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done.” Then an angel appeared to Him from heaven, strengthening Him. And being in agony, He prayed more earnestly. Then His sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground.’ Luke 22:41-44

At that moment Jesus was a man in torment, able to prevent his own suffering but choosing to embrace it anyway. He was desperate to escape the agony of the cross – not just the physical pain, but the spiritual horror of becoming all human brokenness, for our sake – and yet he bowed his head. This total mastery of self serves as a supreme example to us. If Jesus were not a deeply emotional person, mastery might have been easier, but being torn up inside and still submitting to God? That is staggering, to me, what about you?

Adapted from an article by Duncan Edward Pile, October 27th, 2021 “Hold Me Closer Cosmic Dancer” http://www.patheos.com

REMEMBER GOD IS IN CONTROL

In times of great political change, major cultural transformation, and social upheaval like you and I see today, we have to remember that God is in control. 

Great article by Martyn Iles, God has raised up the Martyn Iles for His purposes in these last days.

This is of extraordinary comfort to the Christian. God knows His people and He cares for them.

That is the story of Scripture and of history. And that is your story. He will not leave or forsake you – that is one thing you can be certain about.

There is not one square inch of all creation over which God is not sovereign. He governs all things; He ordains all things. He sits above and behind all things and gives all things their meaning – including the government.

Daniel 2:21 tells us: “He changes times and seasons, deposes kings, and sets up kings.” 

Romans 13:1: Paul said: “there is no authority except God, and those authorities that exist have been instituted by God.”

God can’t be shut out of government.

Some want to say, “No, this is a secular society and God cannot come in.” But it’s not possible. It matters not whether the people in government have faith or not. God was, and is, already there.

And you and I are in a rare situation today – it’s called a democracy.

That means as Christians in this nation, you and I can be a voice of righteousness when leaders are weak, failing, or evil. It means you and I have an opportunity to speak up. We can tell the truth. We can mobilise.

Some may say, “Does political action really matter? Shouldn’t we just preach the Gospel?” My response would be: “Why can’t we do both?”

You and I need to be whole Christians. We need to be Christians who live and speak the Gospel in the workplace, in the community, and in the public squares. That’s when people will ask, “What’s different about you?” and they’ll come on the journey towards Christ.

That is desperately needed right now. YOU are needed right now – to be salt and light in a society that is gripped by uncertainty.

In difficult times the work of God becomes more urgent, not less. People need to hear the truth with more urgency and clarity because the stakes are higher.   

You and I are called to speak of Christ, represent Christ, and do good. To be salt to stop the decay, and light to drive out the darkness.

Democracy is a precious gift we can use to be the voice that our leaders sometimes are not.

And that leads me to the upcoming elections. If you want to know how you should vote, I will tell you … Vote for righteousness.

Don’t vote for the widest motorway or the biggest welfare cheque. Vote at a macro level for right and wrong.

Obviously, it’s never a perfect choice. But vote for the one who you truly believe will promote that which is good, and restrain that which is evil, more than the other. That’s what the government is meant to do!

ACL is here to inform you, equip you, and mobilise you to be a voice of truth and righteousness at a time when there are many conflicting messages, and when our government is making critical decisions for our nation.

IGNORE/REJECT GOD AT YOUR PERIL

Does the world consider that the one who has the most power, the most authority, and the most strength is God? God has unlimited power, and He uses that power.

Flash lightning

Whatever the LORD pleases, He does, in heaven and on earth, in the seas and all deeps. He it is who makes the clouds rise at the end of the earth, who makes lightnings for the rain and brings forth the wind from His storehouses.Psalms 135:6-7

Give thanks to the Lord of lords, for his steadfast love endures forever; to Him who alone does great wondersto him who by understanding made the heavens… to him who spread out the earth above the waters… to him who made the great lights… the sun to rule over the day… the moon and stars to rule over the night, for his steadfast love endures forever;Psalms 136:3-9

 He need only to speak and things are created. Jesus said just two words to the storm and it was still. God said just two words and there was light. On top of that, God owns the cattle on a thousand hills (Psalms 50:10).

There is nothing God wants to do that He can’t do. “With God all things are possible” (Matthew 19:26).

God has power over the created world. It is His mighty power that causes the rain to fall and the sun to rise. God exercises this power in the everyday, normal operations of the earth. We see this when we consider the power of floods or volcanic eruptions.

God’s power is specially revealed when He acts in a way that is different from natural phenomena. He uses His power to cause the sea to part (Exodus 14:21), the sun to stand still (Joshua 10:12-13), the water to turn to wine (John 2: 1-11), and the dead to come back to life (John 11:1-46).

God also has power over people. He raises up kings and causes them to fall (Daniel 4:17). He turns the king’s heart like channels of water (Proverbs 21:1). 

God opens the eyes of the spiritually blind and sends the Holy Spirit to indwell their spirit enabling them to live the Christian life with a new heart that they might love Jesus (Ephesians 2:4-6). This is the power of God on full display.

Christians pray to God asking him to act because we know that He is the only one who is able to do all that He wants and He will answer our prayers if we are operating according to His will.

Adapted from an article by Thomas Eglinton The Attributes of God: All Powerful in AP Journal of the Presbyterian Reformed Church of Australia.

THE POSTSCRIPT TO ALL PRAYERS

Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.” And there appeared to him an angel from heaven, strengthening him. And being in agony he prayed more earnestly; and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground.Luke 22:42-44

This is the most challenging prayer of all. Here we have Jesus asking His Heavenly Father to remove the coming experience of suffering and death on The Cross. Thank goodness Jesus added the postscript, “not My will but Your will be done” otherwise all of us would be consigned to Hell on Judgement Day.

When the German Christian mystic Meister Eckhart would pray he would qualify whatever he brought before God with the following words. “Lord, give me nothing but what you will and do Lord whatever and however you will in every way”.

I was reluctant to quote Eckhart as much of what he had to say has been picked up and misquoted by New Age thinkers but this quote is Biblical.

According to Eckhart therefore, none of our prayers can insist that God give us this virtue, or this thing, or this way of life but rather “Lord give me nothing but your will, and do Lord whatever and however in every way..”

We truly have learnt how to live the Christian life when we come to the knowledge that we are not in control and that God is working out His plans and purposes on His earth. Moreover, in the Bible, His written Word, He has given us a history of His world from its beginning and with prophecy, what He is doing now and will do right up to its end. Our prayers need to get in step with what He is doing on this earth, particularly in our sphere of influence. All prayers need to have the postscript “Not my will but yours be done” and probably our greatest prayer is a simple “Thank You“.

GOD IS ALL POWERFUL

The book of Nehemiah vividly demonstrates that God is all-powerful and able to accomplish his will, both in individual lives and in nations. Nehemiah’s prayer in Neh. 9 focuses on praising God for his sovereign and powerful acts: God created the heavens and earth (Neh. 9:6), called Abram from Ur, and gave the land to Israel (Neh. 9:7-8, 22-25). The miraculous signs in Egypt, the parting of the Red Sea, and the provision of guidance, food, and water in the wilderness all demonstrate God’s power over man and nature to provide for his people (Neh. 9:9-15).

The Lord had sent the Israelites into exile after generations of persistent sin (Neh. 9:26-27). Now he was fulfilling part of his promise to restore them (Neh. 1:8-9).

NEHEMIAH HAD CONFIDENCE IN GOD

Nehemiah had confidence to pray and lead because he knew that everything that happened was part of God’s sovereign plan. This same confidence in God’s sovereignty led Abram to leave Ur and by faith go to an unknown land (Genesis 12:1-3; Hebrews 11:8-10), caused Rahab to trust in God (Joshua 2:9-14; Hebrews 11:31), and prompted Hezekiah not to give in to the demands of the Assyrian king Sennacherib (2 Kings 18–19).

Confidence comes when people believe that God will keep his promises and complete the work he has started in their lives.

And I am sure of this, that He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” Philippians 1:6

How about you? Where do you lack confidence? Can you think of any promises God makes that you can rely on as a source of confidence? Share some of God’s promises that have given you confidence in the Comments section and I will share them on LEN. Love to get feedback.

Available as a ebook on Amazon and from me as a trade paperback edition by making a donation of $10 (Australia) or $15 (International to cover postage) Click on Donation icon on Home Page. Email ron@bakb.com.au your mailing address.