Sometimes you just have to preach to yourself

Reminding ourselves of what we have in Christ

Today I awoke in much pain…in both feet this time. Gout. It’s supposed to be the rich man’s disease. Hah! Then why do I have these attacks?

Now is the time for me to remind myself of God’s promises and what better place to go than Psalm 103. Today’s devotional will have a different format than usual. I am going to just post Psalm 103 with a few comments along with the text. I pray this will do you as much good as I know it will do me. (more…)

If God is good, then why…?

What does it really mean to say God is good?

And he said, “I will make all my goodness pass before you and will proclaim before you my name ‘The Lord.’ And I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy. – Exodus 33:19

The Lord descended in the cloud and stood with him there, and proclaimed the name of the Lord.  The Lord passed before him and proclaimed, “The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness,  keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children and the children’s children, to the third and the fourth generation.” – Exodus 34:5-7

Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever! – 1 Chronicles 16:34

And they sang responsively, praising and giving thanks to the Lord, “For he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever toward Israel.” And all the people shouted with a great shout when they praised the Lord, because the foundation of the house of the Lord was laid. – Ezra 3:11

Oh, how abundant is your goodness, which you have stored up for those who fear you and worked for those who take refuge in you, in the sight of the children of mankind! – Psalm 31:19

Rain in abundance, O God, you shed abroad;
    you restored your inheritance as it languished;
10 your flock found a dwelling in it;
    in your goodness, O God, you provided for the needy. – Psalm 68:9-10

Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever! – Psalm 118:29

The Lord is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him. – Lamentations 3:25

They shall pour forth the fame of your abundant goodness and shall sing aloud of your righteousness. The Lord is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. The Lord is good to all, and his mercy is over all that he has made. – Psalm 145:7-9

But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, – Titus 3:4

The idea that God is good is ubiquitous. We all hear phrases like, “good Lord,” “the good Lord above,” and “good God.” Those phrases are usually not voiced as a nuanced theological statement, but a belief that sort of floats around in the air and is not thought out.

Skeptics regularly attack Christianity with the statement, “If God is so good, then how come…..?” You fill in the blank wth any undesirable aspect of human existence. I believe it is intended to either show God is not good or that there really is no God. Otherwise these things would not exist.

So, what do the Scriptures say about what it means that God is good? (more…)

The uniqueness of the Christian God

Uniqueness that only the Trinity can provide

Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world. 25 O righteous Father, even though the world does not know you, I know you, and these know that you have sent me. 26 I made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.” John 17:24-26

 In love he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. – Ephesians 1:4-6

Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. – Romans 5:3-5

It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. – Romans 3:26

For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
    neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
    so are my ways higher than your ways
    and my thoughts than your thoughts. – Isaiah 55:8-9

For you, O Lord, are most high over all the earth;
    you are exalted far above all gods. – Psalm 97:9

 “Am I a God at hand, declares the Lord, and not a God far away? 24 Can a man hide himself in secret places so that I cannot see him? declares the LordDo I not fill heaven and earth? declares the Lord. – Jeremiah 23:23-24

 And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. – Colossians 1:17

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. 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. 10 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. 11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us. 13 By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. 14 And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. 15 Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. 16 So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. – 1 John 4:7-16

The Celtic Knot symbol of the Trinity

Only the Christian Trinitarian God is eternally loving, both just and the justifier of sinners, both transcendent and imminent and is an eternal community in himself. It is important to our worship and our apologetics to know who our God is. (more…)

The love Trinity (not a love triangle)

Without the Trinity, we would not know love

Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world. – John 17:24

For by him (Christ) 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. 17 And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. – Colossians 1:16-17

And,“You, Lord (the Son), laid the foundation of the earth in the beginning, and the heavens are the work of your hands…” – Hebrews 1:10

He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. – Hebrews 1:3

The Father loves the Son and has given all things into his hand. – John 3:35

For the Father loves the Son and shows him all that he himself is doing. – John 5:20

I will no longer talk much with you, for the ruler of this world is coming. He has no claim on me, 31 but I do as the Father has commanded me, so that the world may know that I love the Father. Rise, let us go from here. – John 14:30-31

As the Father has loved meso have I loved you. Abide in my love. – John15:9

And when Jesus was baptized, immediately he went up from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened to him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on him; 17 and behold, a voice from heaven said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.”  – Matthew 3:16-17

Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. – Romans 5:3-5

 The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all. – 2 Corinthians 13:14

 And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” – Galatians 4:6

Without the Trinity, we would not have an eternal loving Father God.

The fact that God is one God in three persons, Father, Son and Holy Spirit is of far greater importance than is realized by many. The Trinity is not just a doctrine to simply acquiesce to or maybe to argue about. Without God’s existence as Trinity, much of what we know and love would not be possible. We would not know God as an eternal loving Father. (more…)

The comfort of Divine Providence

Life is not random

By the all-powerful dispensations of Providence, I have been protected beyond all human probability and expectation; for I had four bullets through my coat, and two horses shot under me, yet escaped unhurt, altho’ death was levelling my companions on every side.
George Washington, letter to John A. Washington July 18, 1755

The Hand of providence has been so conspicuous in all this, that he must be worse than an infidel that lacks faith, and more than wicked, that has not gratitude enough to acknowledge his obligations.
George Washington letter to Thomas Nelson
 August 20, 1778

He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. – Hebrews 1:3

And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. – Colossians 1:17

You are the Lord, you alone. You have made heaven, the heaven of heavens, with all their host, the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them; and you preserve all of them; and the host of heaven worships you. – Nehemiah 9:6

In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will… – Ephesians 1:11

For to the snow he says, ‘Fall on the earth,’
likewise to the downpour, his mighty downpour.
7 He seals up the hand of every man,
that all men whom he made may know it.
8 Then the beasts go into their lairs,
and remain in their dens.
9 From its chamber comes the whirlwind,
and cold from the scattering winds.
10 By the breath of God ice is given,
and the broad waters are frozen fast.
11 He loads the thick cloud with moisture;
the clouds scatter his lightning.
12 They turn around and around by his guidance,
to accomplish all that he commands them
on the face of the habitable world.
13 Whether for correction or for his land
or for love, he causes it to happen. – Job 37:6-13

These (creatures) all look to you,
to give them their food in due season.
28 When you give it to them, they gather it up;
when you open your hand, they are filled with good things.
29 When you hide your face, they are dismayed;
when you take away their breath, they die
and return to their dust. – Psalm 104:27-29

The lot is cast into the lap,
but its every decision is from the Lord. – Proverbs 16:33

For kingship belongs to the Lord,
and he rules over the nations. – Psalm 22:28

A man’s steps are from the Lord;
how then can man understand his way? – Proverbs 20:24

The heart of man plans his way,
but the Lord establishes his steps. – Proverbs 16:9

For not from the east or from the west
and not from the wilderness comes lifting up,
7 but it is God who executes judgment,
putting down one and lifting up another. – Psalm 75:6-7

As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.  – Genesis 50:20

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. – Ephesians 2:10

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. 29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30 And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified. – Romans 8:28-30

The term “Providence” is largely lost in our contemporary vocabulary. I would love to see it restored with its full meaning. It is a powerful word communicating a concept that is of great comfort to those who have fled to the Savior, Jesus Christ. (more…)

Donald J. Trump: Love him or hate him as our next President?

We all know our nation is greatly divided, including whether we are in despair over our future with a Trump Administration or giddy at the prospects of draining the swamp. Tomorrow, Donald J. Trump will be inaugurated as our next President. Scripture gives us wisdom on how to approach the next four years (or maybe eight). Regardless of your sense of the coming Trump Admnistration, heed the wisdom of Psalm 146.

Put Not Your Trust in Princes

(more…)

Faithfulness: the secret to attaining your ultimate goal.

Know therefore that the Lord your God is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, to a thousand generations… Deuteronomy 7:9

Lord God of hosts,
    who is mighty as you are, O Lord,
    with your faithfulness all around you? Psalm 89:8

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
    his mercies never come to an end;
23 they are new every morning;
    great is your faithfulness. Lamentations 3:22-23

if we are faithless, he remains faithful— 2 Timothy 2:13

Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. Hebrews 10:23

God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. 1 Corinthians 1:9

He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it. 1 Thessalonians 5:24

Therefore let those who suffer according to God’s will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good. 1 Peter 4:19

faithfulness

As believers in Jesus Christ, our ultimate goal is to be conformed to the image of Jesus Christ. That will be fulfilled when we are glorified in the New Earth when Jesus “makes all things new.” I am really looking forward to that.

How is it that we will arrive at that day? (more…)

Your goals for 2017 in a larger context

As for man, his days are like grass;
    he flourishes like a flower of the field;
16 for the wind passes over it, and it is gone,
    and its place knows it no more.
17 But the steadfast love of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear him,
    and his righteousness to children’s children,
18 to those who keep his covenant
    and remember to do his commandments.
19 The Lord has established his throne in the heavens,
    and his kingdom rules over all. – Psalm 103:15-19

 

While planning for the upcoming year, it is good to view the year from various fields of view. It is proper to have at least a year-long calendar in mind; then it can be broken down into quarterly plans and then down to weekly action items. That way things have a context for accomplishing some bigger and longer term goals. I believe most experts who coach people on planning would essentially agree with me on this.

I would like to take this to another level based on Psalm 103. (more…)

The glory of the incarnation

The woman said to him, “Sir, I perceive that you are a prophet. 20 Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, but you say that in Jerusalem is the place where people ought to worship.” 21 Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. 22 You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. 23 But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. 24 God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” 25 The woman said to him, “I know that Messiah is coming (he who is called Christ). When he comes, he will tell us all things.” 26 Jesus said to her, “I who speak to you am he.” John 4:19-26

Where shall I go from your Spirit?
    Or where shall I flee from your presence?
If I ascend to heaven, you are there!
    If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there!
If I take the wings of the morning
    and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,
10 even there your hand shall lead me,
    and your right hand shall hold me. Psalm 139:7-10

“You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments. – Exodus 20:4-6

 not that anyone has seen the Father except he who is from God; he has seen the Father. – John 6:46

To the King of the ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen. – 1 Timothy 1:17

 who alone has immortality, who dwells in unapproachable light, whom no one has ever seen or can see. To him be honor and eternal dominion. Amen. – 1 Timothy 6:16

Horizons by Phil Koch

Recognizing the fact that the Triune God is eternal, invisible, spirit and that the eternal Son of God, voluntarily became a man (assuming a finite, visible, fleshly existence) and will forever retain his humanity in its resurrected, glorified state, makes the love of God for us even more glorious in our understanding. (The mystery is that, at the same time he has a body, the Son is eternal, invisible, infinite, spirit.) (more…)

Are you sure God didn’t change his mind?

God sent Jonah to preach destruction to Nineveh. The Ninevites took this seriously and repented. God “changed his mind” and didn’t destroy Nineveh. Does this mean that God can’t be trusted? That he just may change his mind midstream?

No, Jonah knew what would happen, and he was a bit miffed at God over it. He complained that if he preached, the people would repent and God would withhold his judgment, after all he is “a gracious God and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, and relenting from disaster.” Jonah didn’t want the judgment withheld. He didn’t like the Ninevites. Jonah had a problem of his own. (Jonah 4:1-4) (more…)