Tag Archive for 'God'

Scripture of the Day – God is Our Refuge

Not only is God our refuge, but he wants to be our refuge all the time in all circumstances. God is never bothered and loves us to come to him in every way. Praise God for these things. The more I thought about this, the more Scripture came to mind (John 14:26).

We find refuge through prayer and Scripture.

The name of the LORD is a fortified tower;
the righteous run to it and are safe.
Proverbs 18:10*
(I would guess that a two part sermon could be given on this one verse.)

The law of the LORD is perfect,
refreshing the soul.
Psalm 19:7

the Lord delights in those
who fear him,
who put their hope
in his unfailing love.
Psalm 147:11

The LORD is good to those whose hope is in him,
to the one who seeks him;
Lamentations 3:25

The Lord is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble;
he cares for those who take refuge in him.
Nahum 1:7

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
Matthew 11:28-30

For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope.
Romans 15:4

Pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests.
Ephesians 6:18

pray continually,
1 Thessalonians 5:17

Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with them, and they with me.
Revelation 3:20

*This is the well-known verse where the traditional translations render it “the righteous man runs into it and is safe.” I always wonder if the tower is padded so that they don’t get hurt. “Look at all of those silly Christians lying around, having run into that tower.” At least they’re safe. Whenever somebody says that they ran into an old friend, I tell them that I hope neither of them got hurt. It can be difficult for those of us who are literal thinkers. I could go on about people who don’t stand in the way of sinners, but that’s another story that most of you are familiar with.

Sorry for the diversion. I pray that we will find refuge in God more and more.

God Is Love and a Lot of Other Things

Suddenly the Christian doctrine of the love of God becomes very difficult, for the entire framework in which it is set in Scripture has been replaced.

To put this another way, we live in a culture in which many other and complementary truths about God are widely disbelieved. I do not think that what the Bible says about the love of God can long survive at the forefront of our thinking if it is abstracted from the sovereignty of God, the holiness of God, the wrath of God, the providence of God, or the personhood of God—to mention only a few nonnegotiable elements of basic Christianity.

The result, of course, is that the love of God in our culture has been purged of anything the culture finds uncomfortable. The love of God has been sanitized, democratized, and above all sentimentalized.

–D.A. Carson

I love this quote and I think about this a lot. There are a lot of attributes of God in addition to love that are ignored or minimized. The greatest may be love, but God is also all of those other things. He isn’t just love. That’s not the only part of His essence. A whole other story is why this is–ignorance of the Old Testament (not that it shows God’s bad side–it shows his love as much as anywhere–but it’s almost 4/5ths of the Bible which is a lot of knowledge of God), forgetting the wrath of Jesus, not noticing the things Paul writes, being too confounded by Revelation to read it, etc., but mainly what people want to think.

God of Whom We Fear and Have Intimacy

The living God to whom believers have come is indeed the refuge and strength of his people, but their intimacy of their covenant-union is not unmixed with awe before his pure holiness.

–F.F. Bruce, Hebrews, pg 359, commenting on Hebrews 12:23 and mentioning Ruth 2:12

Hebrews 12:22-24 NIV
You have come to Mount Zion, to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem. You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly, 23 to the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven. You have come to God, the Judge of all, to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, 24 to Jesus the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.

Ruth 2:12
“May the Lord repay you for what you have done. May you be richly rewarded by the Lord, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge.”

Praise God that he is our holy king, Lord, and master that we fear in awe and that he is our refuge, loving heavenly father, brother, and friend.

Charles Spurgeon on Knowing God

What’s said here is why I love to read and is one of my favorite quotes.

It has been said that ‘the proper study of mankind is man.’ I believe it is equally true that the proper study of God’s elect is God; the proper study of a Christian is the Godhead. The highest science, the loftiest speculation, the mightiest philosophy, which can ever engage the attention of a child of God, is the name, the nature, the person, the work, the doings, and the existence of the great God whom he calls his Father.

There is something exceedingly improving to the mind in a contemplation of the Divinity. It is a subject so vast, that all our thoughts are lost in its immensity; so deep, that our pride is drowned in its infinity. Other subjects we can grapple with; in them we feel a kind of self-content, and go our way with the thought, ‘Behold I am wise.’ But when we come to this master science, finding that our plumbline cannot sound its depth, and that our eagle eye cannot see its height, we turn away with the thought that vain man would be wise, but he is like a wild ass’s colt; and with solemn exclamation, ‘I am but of yesterday, and know nothing.’ No subject of contemplation will tend more to humble the mind, than thoughts of God…

But while the subject humbles the mind, it also expands it. He who often thinks of God, will have a larger mind than the man who simply plods around this narrow globe…. The most excellent study for expanding the soul, is the science of Christ, and Him crucified, and the knowledge of the Godhead in the glorious Trinity. Nothing will so enlarge the intellect, nothing so magnify the whole soul of man, as a devout, earnest, continued investigation of the great subject of the Deity.

And, while humbling and expanding, this subject is eminently consolatory. Oh, there is, in contemplating Christ, a balm for every wound; in musing on the Father, there is a quietus for every grief; and in the influence of the Holy Ghost, there is a balsam for every sore.

Would you lose your sorrow? Would you drown your cares? Then go, plunge yourself in the Godhead’s deepest sea; be lost in his immensity; and you shall come forth as from a couch of rest, refreshed and invigorated. I know nothing which can so comfort the soul; so calm the swelling billows of sorrow and grief; so speak peace to the winds of trial, as a devout musing upon the subject of the Godhead. It is to that subject that I invite you this morning…

Excerpted from “The Immutability of God,” A sermon by a 20 year old Charles H. Spurgeon at New Park Street Chapel, Southwark. J. I. Packer quotes from this message in the beginning of Knowing God.

Quote pasted, with a couple of original italics added (from my 1973 edition), from Eternal Perspective Ministries

John 17:3 HCSB
This is eternal life: that they may know You, the only true God, and the One You have sent–Jesus Christ.

The Lord Is Good

Psalm 34:8-14 TNIV
Taste and see that the Lord is good;
blessed are those who take refuge in him.
9 Fear the Lord, you his holy people,
for those who fear him lack nothing.
10 The lions may grow weak and hungry,
but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing.
11 Come, my children, listen to me;
I will teach you the fear of the Lord.
12 Whoever of you loves life
and desires to see many good days,
13 keep your tongue from evil
and your lips from telling lies.
14 Turn from evil and do good;
seek peace and pursue it.

Psalm 147:10-11
His pleasure is not in the strength of the horse,
nor his delight in the power of human legs;
11 the Lord delights in those
who fear him,
who put their hope
in his unfailing love.

Lamentations 3:25
The LORD is good to those whose hope is in him,
to the one who seeks him;

Nahum 1:7
The Lord is good, a refuge in times of trouble;
he cares for those who take refuge in him.

See the context for the second two which isn’t as pleasant sounding as they are by themselves but I think they still stand.

Be Still

Psalm 46:6-10 TNIV
Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall;
he lifts his voice, the earth melts.
7 The LORD Almighty is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress.
8 Come and see what the LORD has done,
the desolations he has brought on the earth.
9 He makes wars cease to the ends of the earth.
He breaks the bow and shatters the spear;
he burns the shields with fire.
10 “Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth.”
(emphasis added)

In a blog post titled Most Misused Scriptures Doug Magnum says, “v. 10 is meant as a call to fearful awe in the face of that power, not quiet contemplation on God. … ‘Be still’ is probably better translated with the idiomatic ‘Shut up.'”

My wife had a movie on in the kitchen. It was Pollyanna, the 1960 Disney version. Pollyanna and a little boy were talking to a neighbor and the boy said something she didn’t like. She said, “Be still!” I said to my wife, Did you hear that? That’s like Psalm 46:10. My wife, who’s older than me, said she remembers her grandparents using that term as a way of saying Be quiet or Shut up.

So this is another instance where we need to learn older English usage in addition to learning how to interpret the Bible. This is an advantage of dynamic type translations where the meaning is translated into more modern English that we can better understand. But then there are advantages to the formal type translations. Thank God we have both.

This was a great example for me to see how “be still” was used in this way until not long ago. A younger generation can come along and not only take a verse out of context but misunderstand the English and come up with all sorts of alternate meanings, as I admittedly did with this verse.

Proverbs: Creation in Proverbs

According to Bruce Waltke in his commentary on Proverbs, there are ten creation motifs. I thought I’d use a feature in the WordPress RefTagger plugin where the name of the book can be listed only at the beginning (as it is in the commentary) and it will still show all the rest of the verses in a popup window. If you’d like to see a longer passage you can click More at the bottom left of the box.
Proverbs 3:19-20; 8:22-31; 14:31; 16:11; 17:5; 20:12; 22:2; 29:13; 30:2-4

Verses of the Day

Ezekiel 18:23 
Do you think that I like to see wicked people die? says the Sovereign LORD. Of course not! I want them to turn from their wicked ways and live.

2 Samuel 14:14
All of us must die eventually. Our lives are like water spilled out on the ground, which cannot be gathered up again. But God does not just sweep life away; instead, he devises ways to bring us back when we have been separated from him.

2 Peter 3:9
The Lord isn’t really being slow about his promise, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent.

Quote of the Day: Happy Talk

Making matters simpler for the enemy is the fact that in these days of “happy talk,” pastors, biblically illiterate parishioners, and thousands of churches that are theology-free zones, are virtual modern Marcionites. Marcion was a second century heretic who (to oversimplify a bit) embraced the “good” Redeemer God of the New Testament but rejected the (presumably) wrathful Creator God of the Old. Any discomfort with the God of the Old Testament smacks of Marcion’s heresy. To view the God in the Old Testament as different from the God of the New Testament is to expose how little we understand either.

–Jim Andrews, Polishing God’s Monuments, pg. 97

Without elaborating, sometimes when I hear people say certain things, I feel like saying, “Have you read the Old Testament?”

We’ve lost the fear of God. We’ve lost the fact that God is jealous and hates sin. I see this more than ever when reading through Numbers and Leviticus. He wouldn’t let any little tiny thing defile them and couldn’t be in the presence of anything or anyone who was unclean. And when we don’t understand that, we don’t really know God and we can’t more fully appreciate his grace and love. We talk about his grace and love all the time, but by doing that to the exclusion of other aspects of God’s character we can’t appreciate them as much as we could. We’re really missing out on enjoying God and more importantly glorifying him even more. Am I right?

This is one thing I love about the Puritans. They had that balance. And there are certainly a lot of Christians now who do too. For me this is the value of reading the Old Testament, using Psalms as a model for prayer, worship, praise etc. Spending ample time confessing when praying and when noticing things throughout the day (and asking God to point them out) etc.

I wonder if many people are afraid to fear God.

Polishing God's Monuments

Quote of the Day: To Fear God

I like this succinct explanation of fearing God in Eaton’s commentary on Ecclesiastes:

The way of safety is to fear God. In the wisdom tradition the ‘fear’ of God is the awe and holy caution that arises from realization of the greatness of God: ‘Splendour… terrible… majesty… power… justice… righteousness… Therefore fear him.’ (Job 37:22-24)

–Michael A. Eaton, Ecclesiastes pp. 122-123

Ecclesiastes 8:12-13
But even though a person sins a hundred times and still lives a long time, I know that those who fear God will be better off. 13 The wicked will not prosper, for they do not fear God. Their days will never grow long like the evening shadows.

and earlier he says:

…in the Lord’s Prayer … the twin truths that God is ‘Father’ but ‘in heaven’ guard against craven fear on the one hand and flippancy on the other.

pg.99

Ecclesiastes 5:7
Talk is cheap, like daydreams and other useless activities. Fear God instead.

Athletes Praising God In Defeat

We often hear of athletes praising God after their victories. It’s become so common (not that it’s a bad thing) that it has become cliche. It makes one wonder how many of them are genuine.

I remember quite a few years ago, in a losing locker room interview, a Christian praising God for the hope that he has and that football isn’t the most important thing in his life even though a big loss is tough.

So I came across this recent example and thought I’d pass it along.

Michigan State’s Cousins: Jesus isn’t changing
Monday, Sep 21, 2009
By Staff

SOUTH BEND, Ind. (BP)–Michigan State quarterback Kirk Cousins threw a costly interception on the Spartans’ final offensive play of the game that sealed a 33-30 win for Notre Dame Sept. 19.

After the game, while answering questions from the media, Cousins testified to his faith in Jesus Christ.

“There’s nothing I can do about it except learn from it and keep my head up,” Cousins said. “I’ve got faith. Football’s not my foundation, it’s not my identity. My faith is in Jesus Christ, and he’s not changing any time soon.”

Evangelicalism May Not Be Dead After All

Born Again in the U.S.A.
The Enduring Power of American Evangelicalism

This article is too long for most of you to read but some may find it interesting.

‘God’s partisans in Iran and elsewhere,’ Shah concludes by stating what he sees as ‘the deepest lessons of U.S.-style entrepreneurial religion: let god be God by freeing him from both governmental regulation and government handouts; do not lash him to the mast of a particular government or political party and in so doing make him a hostage to political fortune. God will indeed keep coming back – especially in those places where he has not been turned into a fawning palace courtier or a shackled political prisoner.’

–John Micklethwait and Adrian Wooldridge, God Is Back

God Is Back

HT: WorldMagBlog

Sunday Photo: Coleus

Coleuses are my favorite plant.

Garden-coleus_leaf1

Genesis 1:11-12
Then God said, “Let the land sprout with vegetation– every sort of seed-bearing plant, and trees that grow seed-bearing fruit. These seeds will then produce the kinds of plants and trees from which they came.” And that is what happened. 12 The land produced vegetation– all sorts of seed-bearing plants, and trees with seed-bearing fruit. Their seeds produced plants and trees of the same kind. And God saw that it was good.

Hearing God Speak

Do you long for a closer connection to God?
To talk to Him and hear His voice?
To follow His instructions, if only you knew what He was saying?

[I]t really is possible to hear from God. In fact, God longs to talk to us. He loves us and wants to communicate with us, just as we desire to communicate with those we love.

Praise God for giving us His written word, the Bible. Anytime we wish, we can read the words of God and hear Him speak to us.

Psalm 19:7-9 HCSB
The instruction of the LORD is perfect,
reviving the soul;
the testimony of the LORD is trustworthy,
making the inexperienced wise.
8 The precepts of the LORD are right,
making the heart glad;
the commandment of the LORD is radiant,
making the eyes light up.
9 The fear of the LORD is pure,
enduring forever;
the ordinances of the LORD are reliable
and altogether righteous.

You can also read this book. “He is always as close as your thoughts.” It’s scary what people are teaching and how people are eating it up.

How Could A Good God Allow Suffering and Evil?

I found this tucked into an interview with Randy Alcorn on suffering and evil.

How Could A Good God Allow Suffering and Evil? (PDF Document)
A Biblical Approach To The Logical And Emotional Problems Of Evil
by Andrew David Naselli

One of my favorite parts is:

You shouldn’t say certain things to people who are suffering.
The first eight are from Feinberg, who shares what is inappropriate to say.

  1. Don‘t say, “There must be some great sin you‘ve committed; otherwise this wouldn‘t be happening to you.”
  2. “Another mistake is to focus on the loss of things rather than the loss of people.”
  3. “Sometimes people try to comfort us by convincing us that what has happened spares us from other problems.” “Insensitive speculations about the future” are not helpful.
  4. Don‘t say, “Well, everyone‘s going to die from something. You just know in advance what it is in your wife‘s case.” That‘s comfort?
  5. “As we fumble for something to say that will comfort our friend or loved one, somehow it seems appropriate to say, “I know how you must feel at a time like this.” Through my experiences, I have learned how unhelpful this comment can be. One problem is that it isn‘t true, and the sufferer knows it. Hence, it sounds phony when you say it. . . . What helps is not knowing you feel like I do but knowing that you care!”
  6. “My friend replied that I was too focused on various models of God and that I needed to recognize that God is bigger than all those conceptions [of God].” This “treats what is fundamentally an emotional problem as if it were an intellectual problem.”
  7. Don‘t say, “When things like this happen, aren‘t you glad you‘re a Calvinist? Isn‘t it great to know that God is ultimately in control of it all, and he‘s already planned the way out of your problem?” “I am a Calvinist, and I found that comment distressing, not helpful.”
  8. Don‘t say, “You aren‘t spiritually mature until you‘re happy about this.” Feinberg heard an interview on Moody radio of a couple that had just lost their daughter in an auto-accident: “They concluded that even though the loss of their daughter was hard, it was all for the best. I heard that and felt more guilt. It seemed the height of Christian maturity to take life‘s harshest blows and say that it was good that this had happened. If that was what it meant to be victorious in the midst of affliction, I knew I was far from that. I couldn‘t rejoice over the evil that had befallen and would befall my family. But I thought I was supposed to, so my sense of inadequacy increased.”
  9. In addition to Feinberg:

  10. Don‘t glibly quote Romans 8:28. Not helpful!
  11. “Many verbal expressions of encouragement should not be based on the assumption that they must answer an implicit ‘Why?‘ Not everyone asks that question.”

See the document for things you can do.