DEFENDING GOD…. (He Needs No Defense)

Spiritual Blog - Defend God

Genesis 1:1 – “In the beginning God…”  NASU

             I was challenged recently by a person telling me that I needed to DEFEND GOD.  I won’t go into the entire conversation or situation but this individual felt it was incumbent upon believers to DEFEND GOD.  That set me to thinking and examining my theology and core beliefs regarding God, my relationship with Him, and my responsibility as a believer.  I did not and have not finalized my thoughts on that front but let me share something that did come to mind as I examined this thought.

I AM HUMAN…

Therefore, for me to presume that I can or even need to ‘defend God’ causes some problems in my thinking.  God is infinite, omniscient, omnipresent, omnipotent and infinite.  How am I a finite human being to defend God?  I may well need to ‘defend’ my faith or the reason for my faith.  I may well need to ‘give answer’ for the reason of hope, that is in me.  I may well need to ‘defend’ my right to believe and worship according to the dictates of my heart following the biblical directives but DEFEND GOD?   He is all powerful and I am mortal with limited might.  He is all knowing and I see in part and know in part.

Please understand, I am not saying that there is not a need or time to ‘stand up’ for our faith but I am saying that God needs no defense.  The entire question caused me to reflect on God’s encounter with Job and the questions asked of God by the INFINITE GOD of all creation.  It became a comedy and my feeble attempt to ‘defend God’ would likely result in the same.  Defend Him, no!  Stand for Him, yes!  Declare my devotion, my faith, my understanding of Scripture, and my hope in Christ, absolutely!  To try to do a clinical defense of God would, in my mind, attempt to elevate me to His status and I would never presume to do that.

GOD NEEDS NO DEFENSE…

Creation speaks for itself for design implies a designer.  For me just a casual glance at the creation of God in the universe is so staggering I can have no response but to believe HE IS.  Having experienced the ‘new birth’ spiritually and witnessed the transformation of my life and the testimony of others about the transformation of my life I can only say HE IS.  Having experienced and witnessed His miraculous work in my own body, circumstances, and in the lives of others, I can only respond HE IS.  When I open my Bible the first words I read are, “In the beginning God…”  When I go to the last book of the Bible I read the statement of Jesus, “I am the Alpha and the Omega… who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.”  HE IS.

I do not need to defend electricity for it to be useful I just need to allow it to function.  I do not need to defend aerodynamics to benefit from air travel I just need to get on the plane. I do not need to defend oxygen to breathe I just need to inhale and exhale.  I know I’m going beyond what some would deem necessary but instead of trying to DEFEND GOD why not just respond to Him and allow Him to demonstrate His existence, power, and love through our lives?  That would be the best defense of God I can think of.

            God bless you as you go through your day!

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WHY DO WE LIMIT GOD?

Spiritual Blog - God Unlimited

Mark 16:15-18 – “And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.  16 ” He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved; but he who has disbelieved shall be condemned.  17 “These signs will accompany those who have believed: in My name they will cast out demons, they will speak with new tongues;  18 they will pick up serpents, and if they drink any deadly poison, it will not hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.”   NASU

 

I have never understood limiting the Omniscient, Omnipresent, Omnipotent God of all creation but many have including myself.  Some limit Him through their theological beliefs and others their actions.  Yet most all of us would say, “With God all things are possible.”  If all things are possible why are so many things, in our minds, not probable when it comes to God and His power?

I have been told that God no longer heals today because we have doctors, science, and medicine and that the miracles of healing were only to help establish the fledgling church in the 1st century.  Where does it say that in the Bible?  Some quote the verse about tongues passing away and omit the rest of the quotation that ‘knowledge’ also passes away.  If God is the SAME yesterday, today, and forever why do we not expect Him to perform His works in our present day?  Yes, we have science, doctors, technology, and many modern advancements but He created us and has the power to touch ALL DIMENSIONS of our lives does He not?

Sometimes we pray, ‘If it be Thy will’ and too often that is a prayer of faithlessness rather than submission to His will.  It is often a prayer with no expectation.  Of course, anything MUST be in His will to be realized.  I readily acknowledge that and do not mind that addendum to a prayer if it is submission, but charged with faith and expectation.  I am not trying to be critical and know I’m treading on thin ice with some but suggest that along with that addendum we might add, “Unless it is not your will I will eagerly await the answer with expectation.”  I have had people say, “Well we can only pray” and hear others asking, “Has it come to that?” as if prayer were a last resort in a hopeless cause.

We do not get everything we ask for but that should not stop us from asking and seeking for God is God and He always will be God.  We have, as Hebrews reveals, a Better Covenant established on Better Promises and the Old Covenant was not too shabby!

            May God bless you as you go through your day and provide you whatever you need from Him!  Blessings!

HUMANLY POSSIBLE……

Spiritual Blog - Christ

Hebrews 2:14-18 – “Therefore, since the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same, that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, 15 and might free those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives. 16 For assuredly He does not give help to angels, but He gives help to the descendant of Abraham. 17 Therefore, He had to be made like His brethren in all things, so that He might become a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. 18 For since He Himself was tempted in that which He has suffered, He is able to come to the aid of those who are tempted.”  NASU

  

The writer of Hebrews speaking by inspiration of the Holy Spirit pulled back the veil for us to see a truth of possibility and redemption.  He makes it crystal clear that humans experience temptations and trials as depraved creatures.  He further illustrates that as a lost creature under the domain of darkness man could not satisfy ‘divine justice’ and need one to come who was ‘sinless’ and yet functioned as a man to be the sacrifice for sin.  Adam lost the purity of life in the Garden and through sin became a slave of the devil.  Satan gained a legal right to man as the ‘god of this world’ through man’s disobedience.

There had to be one who could operate, live, feel, think, and experience the temptations and trials that are common to man and to do so without sin.  No flesh could meet that requirement so God chose the Incarnation of Jesus to come ‘as man’ and ‘for man’ experiencing and subject to all the temptations as we.  Jesus came and satisfied the divine requirement of being without sin and qualifying Him as the ‘Lamb of God’ to atone for man’s sin.  He was made like us ‘in all things’ yet did not yield to temptation or sin.  He, as the LAST ADAM did what the FIRST ADAM could not do.

When Jesus died on the Cross the ‘Son of Man’ paid the price to buy us back or redeem the race from the devil’s clutches and legal dominion.  That did not and does not mean that ‘all were or are saved’ it means that the door is open for their salvation.  The debt has been paid, divine justice satisfied, and through this incredible demonstration of unconditional love the Door to Salvation has been opened for ‘whosoever will’ as per John 3:16.  If you have not received Him, today is the day of salvation and now is the accepted time.  As the Holy Spirit brings conviction to your heart repent and believe!  He is still calling today!

            May God be with you as you go through this day!

WHAT IS GOD’S NAME?

Spiritual Blog - Names of God

Isaiah 52:6 – “Therefore My people shall know My name; therefore in that day I am the one who is speaking, ‘Here I am.'”  NASU 

Exodus 6:2-3 – “God spoke further to Moses and said to him, “I am the LORD; 3 and I appeared to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, as God Almighty, but by  My name, LORD, I did not make Myself known to them.” NASU

 

The way some people use the name of God in vain you’d think their damming was reflected His last name, but it doesn’t.  God is not a proper name and on numerous occasions in the Bible people sought to know His name.  In studying scripture we find that a name reflected character whereas today a name is simply some cute, catchy handle that parents dreamed up for the child to identify them.  I would venture to say that often there is little thought or prayer as to what to name a child other than finding something unique.

Jacob wrestled with God, his nature changed and subsequently his name as well.  In his encounter, he inquired of God, “What is Thy Name?”  (Genesis 32).  In Judges 13 Manoah asked, “What is Thy Name?”  In Proverbs 30 the writer asks, “What Is His Name?” In Deuteronomy 6:4 we find the name ‘Elohim-Yahweh’.  In Exodus 3 we find Moses saying to the Lord, “The people will ask what is His name?  What shall I say?” It is clear that God has a name!

To the Hebrews knowing a name meant more than being acquainted it meant experiential knowledge.  “I Am Who I Am” is God’s declaration of His being, power, and character.  Yahweh or I AM expresses God’s eternality and embodies the past, present, and future or the timelessness of God.  In Revelation 1 we find that He is, was, and is to come!  It expresses God’s self-existence, His Omnipotence, Omniscience, and Omnipresence.  It could rightly be rendered – “I Will Be What I Will Be.”  The futuristic implication is “I will be all that is necessary as the occasion arises.”  Yahweh is always a personal name and carries a covenantal meaning.  It is often used as a hyphenated name to describe various aspects of the character of God.

We find Him described as Jehovah-jireh (provider), Jehovah-Elohim (creator), Jehovah-el Elyon (Most High), Jehovah-adonai (Master), Jehovah-rapha (healer), and Jehovah-shalom (peace).  Those are some of the many names describing his acts, ways, and character.  It is a fascinating study to search out the names of God for in them we find dimensions of the character and realize not only the promises of God but the power, ability, and willingness of God to fulfill His word.

‘Christ’ is not the last name of  Jesus but a description of who He is – Master, Savior, Lord, Redeemer!   As we grow to ‘know’ God more we ‘love’ God more and as we ‘love’ Him more we ‘serve’ Him more completely and become better equipped to face life on planet earth.

            May God be with you as you go through your day!

TEACH YOUR CHILDREN….

Spiritual Blog - Teach Them

Deuteronomy 6:4-6 – “Hear, O Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD is one! 5 ” You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. 6 “These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart.” 

Deuteronomy 11:18-22 – “You shall therefore impress these words of mine on your heart and on your soul; and you shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontals on your forehead. 19 ” You shall teach them to your sons, talking of them when you sit in your house and when you walk along the road and when you lie down and when you rise up. 20 ” You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates, 21 so that your days and the days of your sons may be multiplied on the land which the LORD swore to your fathers to give them, as long as the heavens remain above the earth.”  NASU

 

            It was a sad day in history when we turned the responsibility of teaching our children over to the government or the state.  Initially, the Bible was part of their public education but not today.  It has been said that America is no longer a Christian nation and that may well be true.  Most still profess a belief in the existence of God but do they seek to serve Him?

            It is the responsibility of parents and grandparents to teach the children the principles of life and the Word of God.  It is not the responsibility of the public school or even Sunday school.  It should be a natural part of family life.  We need to turn off the television, set aside the smart phones, log off the computers, and develop relationships that use actual language and face to face experiences with each other and our children.  Biblically we are directed to allow God’s word to be impressed upon our hearts to the degree we talk of them as a family at all key times of the day.

            No wonder the Bible says, “Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it.”  I didn’t say browbeat him/her, I said TRAIN him.  Demonstrate the importance and respect of the Word in your life and instill in him/her the core principles and values taught in God’s Word.

            Children are our responsibility let’s do the right thing by them.  God bless you as you go through your day.  Blessings be upon you!

 

RITUAL OR RECOGNITION…..

Spiritual Blog - Thanks

John 6:11 – “Jesus then took the loaves, and having given thanks, He distributed to those who were seated; likewise also of the fish as much as they wanted.”

Deuteronomy 8:10 – “When you have eaten and are satisfied, you shall bless the LORD your God for the good land which He has given you.” NASU

 

The Custom in the Middle East in Biblical times was that people, without fail, gave thanks before eating and would usually give thanks after the meal.  It was initially done in recognition of God’s provision and an expression of gratitude.  It, like so many things, evolved into a religious or societal ritual as is often the case today!  I know many who would never dream of eating a meal without ‘saying grace’.  I practice praying over the food I am about to eat.

In those days everyone at the table would repeat the words of the host as he gave thanks.  If a prophet were present he would be expected to take the lead in the prayer and bless the food giving thanks as is described in 1 Samuel 9:13 – “…he must bless the sacrifice; afterward those who are invited will eat.”  It was customary but initially, it was far more than custom and a true recognition of God’s provision and their gratitude.

When Jesus fed the 5,000 we read that “after Jesus had given thanks the food was distributed…”  In the feeding of the 4,000, Matthew is careful to include the fact that Jesus gave thanks before anyone ate.  The Jews were incredibly conscious of the fact that all they had came from God and willingly expressed their gratitude.  Sadly, for many then and now, it is nothing more than a religious or societal ritual not a genuine expression of gratitude.

They also customarily gave thanks at the end of the meal as is reflected in Deuteronomy 8:10 – “When you have eaten and are satisfied, you shall bless the LORD….”  Gratitude demands acknowledgment of not only the provision but the provider.  I would suggest that if you ‘say grace’ and pray over your meal without really giving thought or having true gratitude in your heart it is more of an insult to God than an act He will receive and recognize with blessing.

Therefore make your words be true expressions of the gratitude of your heart and always remember that all we are and have has its source in God.  In Him, we live and move and have our being.  Blessings upon you as you go through your day!

PICKING UP THE FEATHERS…..

Spiritual Blog - Feathes

Exodus 20:16 – “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.” NASU

1 Timothy 5:13 – “Besides, they get into the habit of being idle and going about from house to house. And not only do they become idlers, but also gossips and busybodies, saying things they ought not to.”  NIV

 

Years ago I had a lady in the church I was serving as the pastor who would always ask, “Do you have any news?”  She would also preface what she was going to share with, “Have you heard the news?”  I asked her once if she considered what she was doing ‘gossip’ and she said, “Oh no, pastor, I’m just sharing the latest news not gossiping for that would be wrong.”   I could never convince her that they were the same thing.  She longed to hear any tidbit documented or undocumented and would then ‘share’ it with whomever she could find that would listen.

Gossip is a very destructive weapon that the devil uses to drive wedges and damage people in their testimony.  I recall hearing something once about a fellow minister that, if true, would be so damaging to his reputation that it would impact untold numbers of people.  What I heard, is not important nor his name, the fact that I listened to it is.  As I pondered what I had heard the Holy Spirit brought conviction to my heart and I sensed the Lord speaking to me saying, “Why did you allow that gossip to be spoken into your hearing?”  I began to weep for I had listened and without realizing it formed an opinion regarding this brother without any real documentation or evidence.  It was wrong!  I was wrong and the gossip was a malicious lie later proven to be false.  Yet, had I repeated that gossip I would have been furthering the harm brought to an innocent brother.  Thankfully the Holy Spirit arrested me before I participated in an activity I have long abhorred – Gossip.

When people come to me with tidbits about someone I usually ask, “Have you gone to that individual to discuss this?”  If the answer is no then I stop them and ask that they not continue with gossip but rather suggest that they take it to prayer and then approach the person in question with that little morsel they are ‘sharing’.  Some have become quite angry with me calling me ‘self-righteous’ or worse because I did not want to participate in gossip regarding another.  However, I must ask “Would you want someone spreading gossip about you?”  Consider that point when you are tempted to engage in sharing ‘news’ as that little lady called it.

Some time back, Gil LeBreton a sportswriter for the Fort Worth Star Telegram wrote a piece regarding the Texas Ranger’s manager Ron Washington’s resignation some years ago and used an illustration from a movie that speaks to what I’m talking about.  It was excellent and I share it here.

In the Academy Award-nominated movie Doubt, there is a memorable scene in which the accused priest, Father Flynn, delivers a powerful homily to the congregation. The priest, brilliantly played by Philip Seymour Hoffman, tells the story of a woman who “was gossiping with her friend about a man whom they hardly knew.” Seized later with guilt, the woman went to a Catholic confessional and asked her parish priest if she had done anything wrong. “Yes,” said the priest. “You have borne false witness against your neighbor. You’ve played fast and loose with his reputation, and you should be heartily ashamed.”  As her penance, the priest instructed the woman to go to her roof and gut a pillow with a knife, a scene classically depicted in the movie.  And what did she see, the priest asked?   “Feathers,” the woman answered. “Feathers everywhere.”  “Now I want you to go back and gather up every last feather that flew out into the wind,” the priest instructed. The woman protested. “It can’t be done,” she said.  “I don’t know where they went. The wind took them all over.”  “And that,” the movie’s Father Flynn said, abruptly ending the sermon, “is gossip!”

That is a fantastic illustration of the damage futility of trying to retrieve harmful words spoken about another.  It is IMPOSSIBLE!  The damage is done even if we go to them in repentance begging forgiveness we will NEVER retrieve all the words or find where they have been carried.  Therefore, the Biblical policy is DO NOT GOSSIP!    

            Blessings as you go through your day!