MANKIND AND CREATION’S VASTNESS

God in His Word reveals why He created human beings. We are meant to be in a relationship with Him.

Genesis 1:27 states: “God created mankind in his own image.”

Psalms 8:1–5 says: “O Lord … What is man that You take thought of him … Yet You have made him a little lower than God, And You crown him with glory and majesty!”

John 3:16 explains God gave humans His son to redeem us out of His love for us.

The vast expanse of space

These texts show that God is human-oriented: human beings are like God, and he values us highly.

When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him? Yet you have made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor. You have given him dominion over the works of your handsPsalms 8:3-6

Note the contrast between vv. 3–4 and v. 5. Looking at the stars causes the psalmist to ask why He (God) cares for us. And yet in verse 5, He crowns us with glory and honour. The psalmist is clearly capable of meditating on his own insignificance in the light of the sky, and yet he also acknowledges God’s care for us in the way He made us.

Solomon makes a similar observation, this time concerning God dwelling in the temple he has just built.

But will God indeed dwell on the earth? Behold, heaven and the highest heaven cannot contain you; how much less this house that I have built! 1 Kings 8:27

Solomon prayed these words after God had manifested his special presence in the temple (1 Kings 8:10–11), so he wasn’t questioning whether God would care enough to dwell in the temple. Rather, he was marvelling that God would condescend so far and fill the temple with His glory. This is even more evident in the Incarnation, where the eternal Word of God “tabernacles among us” (John 1:14as the human Jesus of Nazareth.

The vastness of the universe impresses on us God’s sheer immensity. Even the cosmos, as large as it is, can’t contain God! But we’re so small. Little dots on a single speck of a planet floating in some nondescript place in the vast cosmic dark. Does it make God feel immense? Of course, it does!

And yet, we are right at the centre of God’s spiritual concerns. The Incarnation proves that. But this disjunct is precisely what we’d expect of God.

“For thus says the One who is high and lifted up, who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy: ‘I dwell in the high and holy place, and also with him who is of a contrite and lowly spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly, and to revive the heart of the contrite.’” Isaiah 57:15

God is a God of loving condescension. He voluntarily descends from His transcendent dignity to care for us “mere specks of dust”. What better way for God to create a context for that impression than to create a vast universe in which we’re alone on a tiny speck in the vast cosmic dark? He fills all things, yet concerns himself with us so much that He sends His eternal Son to become one of us to bring us into eternal communion with Him by making it possible for our Heavenly Father to send the eternal Holy Spirit to indwell our spirit.

Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.1 Corinthians 6:19-20

Our spirit was always meant to be indwelt by the Holy Spirit, as this verse shows, our spirit is the lamp of the Lord which needs the Holy Spirit to function as God intended.

The spirit of man is the lamp of the Lord, searching all his innermost parts.Proverbs 20:27

Extract from the article “Why did God make such a big universe?” by Shaun Doyle 19th July 2022 http://www.creation.com

2022 NEW YEAR RESOLUTIONS

A relationship with God is among the three most common subjects of New Year’s resolutions, particularly among younger Americans, according to a new Lifeway Research survey.

The Lifeway Research poll found that 44% of respondents said they’ve made a resolution about their health in the past. Additionally, 29% said they’ve made a resolution about their relationship with God, and another 29% have made a resolution about their finances. 

Those ages 18-34 (35%) and 35-49 (35%) were more likely to make faith the subject of their New Year’s resolutions than those 50-64 (25%) and 65 and older (17%).

Home Bible Study Group

About half (48%) of Christians who attend a worship service at least four times a month said they’ve made a resolution about their relationship with God. By contrast, just 20% of those who attend less than once a month have done so.

Black Americans (41%) are more likely to have made a resolution about God than white Americans (27%), and the religiously unaffiliated were much more likely to have made a resolution about money (36%), time (29%) or work (22%) than about God (14%).

Among all Americans, other popular resolution topics include those about relationships with a family member (26%), use of time (22%), work (18%) and relationships with a friend (15%).

The Lifeway Survey comes on the heels of an earlier study conducted this year by Evangelical pollster George Barna and the Family Research Council, which found that only 6% of Americans have a “biblical worldview.” This statistic is most troubling because we know from the parable of the ten virgins, which is a parable that Jesus told the disciples when they asked him about the “end times” that Jesus prophesied that 50% of Christians are not born again. All ten virgins were waiting for their bridegroom but only half had oil for their lamps and when they returned with oil Jesus told them to go “I do not know you”.

Afterward, the other virgins came also, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us.’ But he answered, ‘Truly, I say to you, I do not know you.’ Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.Matthew 25:11

This clearly teaches us that half of the people who call themselves Christians are not born again of the Holy Spirit and will be the church of Laodicea which is left behind to experience the wrath of God poured out with the Trumpet and Bowl judgements. Note above that about half (48%) of Christians who attend a worship service at least four times a month said they’ve made a resolution about their relationship with God.

.”And to the angel of the church in Laodicea write: ‘The words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of God’s creation.
“‘I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth. For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked. I counsel you to buy from me gold refined by fire, so that you may be rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself and the shame of your nakedness may not be seen, and salve to anoint your eyes, so that you may see. Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent.Revelation 3:14-19

How different from the church of Philadelphia that was raptured and kept from the hour of trial (wrath of God).

And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write: ‘The words of the holy one, the true one, who has the key of David, who opens and no one will shut, who shuts and no one opens.
“‘I know your works. Behold, I have set before you an open door, which no one is able to shut. I know that you have but little power, and yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name… Because you have kept my word about patient endurance, I will keep you from the hour of trial that is coming on the whole world, to try those who dwell on the earth. I am coming soon.
Hold fast what you have, so that no one may seize your crown.” Revelation 3:7-8,10-11

Can I suggest when thinking about 2022 you adopt David’s approach as given in Psalm 31:14.

“But I trust in you, O LORD;
I say, “You are my God.”
My times are in your hand”

HAPPINESS AND HOLINESS

“Holiness is the royal road to happiness. The death of sin is the life of joy.” Charles Spurgeon. Indeed, holiness is exactly what secures our happiness.

To be holy is to see God as He is and to become like Him, covered in Christ’s righteousness. And since God’s nature is to be happy, the more like Him we become in our sanctification, the happier we will be. Forcing a choice between happiness and holiness is utterly foreign to Scripture. If it were true that God wants us to be only holy, wouldn’t we expect Philippians 4:4 to say, “Be holy in the Lord always” instead of “Rejoice in the Lord always”?

The Puritans, Jonathan Edwards, Charles Spurgeon, and many others used the words happy and happiness frequently in biblical, theological, and Christ-centered contexts. When they called on believers to be happy, they weren’t speaking of happenstance or chance, but of enduring delight and pleasure and good cheer in Jesus.

Sadly, Bible teachers such as Oswald Chambers saw people trying to find happiness in sin so they came to think that pursuing happiness is sinful. Chambers said, “Joy is not happiness,” and continued, “There is no mention in the Bible of happiness for a Christian, but there is plenty said about joy” (God’s Workmanship, and He Shall Glorify Me, 346). I respect and have been blessed by Oswald Chambers publications such as My Utmost for His Highest, but statements like this are misleading. It simply is not true. In the King James Version, which Chambers used, Jesus tells his disciples, “If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them” (John 13:17 KJV). Speaking of faithful Christians, James said, “We count them happy which endure” (James 5:11 KJV). Peter said to fellow believers, “If ye suffer for righteousness’ sake, happy are ye” (1 Peter 3:14 KJV) and “If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye” (1 Peter 4:14 KJV). I am not sure what Oswald Chambers thought of these verses but it seems clear God wants us to be happy but we can only be happy when we are in close relationship with Him and obedient to His Word and call.

LIVING ETERNAL NOW

Living eternal now is only possible through prayer. Do you realise “prayer is life’s greatest joy, highest privilege and most powerful venture.” Nothing can compare to it. This gem was extracted from the “Love to Pray” course by Dr Paul Cedar.

God wants to use you to do great things but it is only possible through prayer.

You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” Psalms 16:11

David understood the truth, go to the Psalms for abundant wisdom.

I bless the LORD who gives me counsel; in the night also my heart instructs me. I have set the LORD always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken. Therefore my heart is glad, and my whole being rejoices; my flesh also dwells secure.Psalms 16:7-9

We were created to be in fellowship with God and we get a glimpse of that with Adam and Eve walking with God in the Garden of Eden before The Fall. Jesus sacrifice for us made it possible for the Father to send the Holy Spirit (third person of the Trinity) to indwell all believers and thus renew our fellowship with God the Father. We need to acknowledge the fact Jesus made it possible for us to pray to our Heavenly Father and we do so by saying “in Jesus name we pray.”

Hopefully, you will come as David did to realise that prayer is the talking part of a love relationship with God. Sadly, many see it as a spiritual discipline, something I need to do to get right with God.

What does God do for those who relate to Him in love? David said it well when he said, “in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.”

I hope you do not mind me giving a plug for my book here:

Contents: Chapter 1: Why, Living Eternal Now – Ready for Jesus Return, Chapter 2: Existence of God, Chapter 3: Evidence for Creation & Genesis as History, Chapter 4: Evidence for an Inerrant Bible, Chapter 5: Testimonies of PhD Scientists, Chapter 6: Powerful Testimonies of People (from all walks of life) Living Eternal Now, Chapter 7: Holy Spirit’s Role in Living Eternal Now, Chapter 8: Role of Prayer in Living Eternal Now, Chapter 9: Discerning the Times.

One of the good things about the book is you can choose any chapter/topic of interest and start there. Each chapter is independent from the rest of the book.

Available as an eBook on Amazon. Also available as a trade paperback book by donating AUS$10. Click the Donations icon on the Home Page to do so. You will also need to email the delivery address to ron@bakb.com.au. The donation will cover delivery to anywhere in the world.

UNDERSTANDING GOD

The Openness of God by Clark Pinnock, Richard Rice, John Sanders, William Hasker, and David Basinger (1994). The Openness of God presents a careful and full-orbed argument that God known through Christ desires a “responsive relationship” with his creatures. While it rejects process theology, the book asserts that such classical doctrines as God’s immutability, impassibility, and foreknowledge demand reconsideration. The authors insist that our understanding of God will be more consistently biblical and more true to the actual devotional lives of Christians if we profess that “God, in grace, grants humans significant freedom” and enters into a relationship with a genuine “give-and-take dynamic.” The Openness of God is remarkable in its comprehensiveness, drawing from the disciplines of biblical, historical, systematic, and philosophical theology. Evangelical and other orthodox Christian philosophers have promoted the “relational” or “personalist” perspective on God in recent decades. It was probably the first major attempt to bring the discussion into the evangelical theological arena.

653175
Christianity Today’s 1995 Book of the Year

God is everlasting, without beginning and without end i.e. God is eternal. God is not limited by anything outside of himself. However, Scripture reveals that God although omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent, is not the “All” or the “Everything,” but He is a being rather than Being itself.

What do we read about God in God’s own revelation, the Bible? And what do we “see” in God-in-person Jesus Christ? We see a self-limiting God who grants His creation a degree of autonomy, freedom to go against and resist His will. We see a self-limiting God who enters into time and history and goes on a “journey” with His creation and especially with his covenant people. We see a God who can be deeply affected, grieved, made angry or blessed, by what his creatures do.

It seems that before there was a creation, God was not limited, but self-limitation out of love was potential within God.

Sure, philosophy can sometimes help fill in some gaps left open by the Bible, but we must be careful not to allow philosophy to overtake our thinking about God such that the God of the Bible is a mere symbol for something “more real” who is not really like the passionate, personal, historical, suffering, intervening, resistible God of the Bible. We Christians must begin our thinking about God with Jesus Christ and work our way out from there.

HOW DO YOU PRAY?

DO YOU BELIEVE ?

Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father. Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it. John 14:12

God is able “to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or thinkEphesians 3:20

Ask of Me, and I will give the nations for Your inheritance.” Psalm 2:8

You do not have because you do not ask.” James 4:2

Draw near with confidence to the throne of grace” Hebrews 4:16

But this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting” Matthew. 17:21

If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.John 15:7

Related image

What are you petitioning God for in this new year? Are you desiring to go into the land promised to you by the Lord? Whatever you are taking to the Lord in prayer, refuse to advance without His presence and intimate fellowship with Him. Refuse to view other people as a structure to build your own platform. Value the relationships God has cultivated in your life. Give honour to them without idolising them, all the while maintaining that deep personal relationship with God, giving thanks to Him in everything.

Moses understood that unless the Lord went with them there was no point going anywhere. Same goes with us, unless we know we are hearing rightly from God, then spend more time in prayer, prayer and fasting if necessary until breakthrough comes. It will, if you are serious and have a humble and contrite heart.

If your presence does not go with us, do not bring us up from here. For how will it be known that I have found favour in Your sight, I and your People? Is it not by Your going with us, so that we will be distinguished, I and Your people, from all the people who are on the face of the earth?Exodus 33:15-16

Remember also, vague prayers are inferior to specific ones.

THIS FALSE BELIEF IS THE ROOT OF THE CHURCH’S PROBLEMS

Francis Chan believes the modern church has an outreach problem. We pray and intercede with fervour for miracles and the supernatural—and yet few of us take that same passion into outreach ministry. Worse yet, he says, we rely on our own power to save people, believing we can do anything to persuade someone more or less to Christ. He diagnoses the problem—and offers a persuasive answer—in this sermon. Pastor’s you need to see this message. It will be 20 minutes invested in eternal life.

AWARD WINNING RAPPER TEACHES THE NEED TO FEAR GOD

Kendrick Lamar performs a medley of songs at the 58th Grammy Awards in Los Angeles, California on Feb. 15, 2016.

Churches aren’t preaching it, so God has raised up the most unlikely person to do the job of preaching a message that the world needs to hear – Proverbs 9:10 “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” and Kendrick is the person best placed to get the message to those that need to hear it.

Lamar, the 29-year-old rapper whose fourth studio album Damn is sitting atop Billboard charts, believes the churches that only focus on the idea of hope are one-sided.
He wants to showcase a side of God that he hasn’t seen in church, one that focuses less on the blessings of God and more on God’s wrath. The rapper said he discovered a “simple truth” that while God is loving and merciful, He is also a jealous God of “discipline and obedience.”
“As a community, we are taught to pray for our mishaps, and God will forgive you. Yes, this is true. But He will also reprimand us as well. As a child, I can’t recall hearing this in service. Maybe leaders of the church knew it will run off churchgoers?” he said.
“We want to hear about hope, salvation, and redemption. Though His son died for our sins, our free will to make whatever choice we want, still allows Him to judge us. So in conclusion, I feel it’s my calling to share the joy of God, but with exclamation, more so, the FEAR OF GOD… Knowing the power in what He can build, and also what He can destroy.”
While the rapper said he loves when people sing about what makes God happy, the FEAR OF GOD made Lamar take his relationship with God more seriously.
“Personally, once that idea of real fear registered in my mind, it made me try harder at choosing my battles wisely which will forever be tough, because I’m still of flesh,” he wrote. “I wanna spread this truth to my listeners. It’s a journey, but it will be my key to the Kingdom and theirs as well.”

I got a greater purpose,” Lamar said. “God put something in my heart to get across and that’s what I’m going to focus on, using my voice as an instrument and doing what needs to be done.”

 

 

HOPE ETERNAL COMES FROM KNOWING GOD

“This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast….  Hebrews 6:19

In his book about hope, Dr. Lloyd John Ogilvie wrote, “Hope is not wishful thinking…. Hope is not simply cheery optimism. Hope certainly can produce an optimistic attitude, but an optimistic attitude is no substitute for true hope…. Hope is a gift of God through Christ that produces a confident, unshakeable trust in His faithfulness, and a vibrant expectation of His timely interventions in keeping with His gracious promises to us.

Hope sustains us as we wait on the Lord. In fact, in the Bible it’s sometimes hard to tell the difference between the words wait and hope. Isaiah 40:31 in the New King James Version says, “But those who wait on the LORD shall renew their strength….” But in the New International Version, the same verse says, “…but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength.”

eagles-wings

Hope is simply waiting expectantly and eagerly for the day God will perfectly fulfill every promise and do exceedingly abundantly above all we can ask or imagine.

Hope is a deep-seated confidence in God that anchors our souls, even in rough seas. Make very sure your anchor holds and grips the Solid Rock.

Authentic hope is always a by-product of a personal relationship with God. It comes from knowing God.
Lloyd John Ogilvie