God is…

These are my reflections from the teachings of a sermon series called God is…

Who is God to me and more importantly how can I grow to know him more fully in order to establish and foster a relationship with him.  During our study we looked at scripture to first glean why it is important to God that we know him.

Jeremiah 9:24(NIV) …but let him who boasts boast about this: that he who understands and knows me, that I am the Lord, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight, declares the Lord.

We can learn who God is by his own words and how he describes himself. In the earlier verse (v.23) he chides us about our own placement of importance on such things as wisdom, strength and riches. We have a tendency to boast about these things and place them high on the list of how we feel about ourselves and our accomplishments. We decide that being smart and having the money to purchase and use the latest smart phone is important. These things have no value to God; they are not important to him. What is important, God declares, is our knowledge and understanding of him, that we know that he is the Lord. He teaches us in his word that our knowing his attributes, what he does for us, his purpose, his love for us – in all of these he delights.

Another scripture we studied in the God is… series was Isaiah 6:1-3 where Isaiah looked upon the Lord and described him seated on a throne with a robe that filled the whole temple. Seraphs or angels called to one another:

Isaiah 6:3 (NIV) Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty, the whole earth is full of his glory.

We learned that triple repetition of the word holy denotes God’s infinite Holiness; a way to exclaim before there were exclamation marks. Holy is defined in Webster’s dictionay as revered, set apart, awed. The majesty, splendor and grandeur of God is described by Isaiah who is so awed and inspired that he answers God’s question to be the one God sends to deliver his message. Will we be so inspired and not run away from the tasks, the challenges that God puts before us? Will we listen and obey; will we run to him and welcome the relationship offered to us. God’s invitation is clear.

We can learn who God is by exploring how God describes himself. This time we looked at scripture where The Lord asks:

                 Isaiah 40:25 (NIV) “To whom will you compare me?”… and in V.28 Isaiah responds “The Lord is the everlasting God, the creator of the ends of the earth.”                 

There is none to compare to him. He can name every star by name; he most assuredly knows who we are and wants us to know who he is. He wants us to understand who he is and to develop a relationship with him.  We are to be in awe of his power and his majesty but we also are to be aware of his love, his kindness and his righteousness provided for us the faithful, obedient people he created. God you truly are Awesome, awesome, awesome to me. You are wonderful and to be praised.

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Stewartship of God’s Gifts

Whatever God has put into your trust, be it, self, family, finances, relationships are your responsibilities. God’s appointed trust in His church (1 Corinthians 12:28) and gifts from the Holy Spirit (See 1 Corinthians 12:7-11 ), are required to administer those responsibilities according to God’s will and way. 1 Corinthians 4:2 “Now it required that those that have been given a trust must prove faithful.”

Out of Darkness – John 3:1-21

The detail that Nicodemus came “by might” to see Jesus shows that he and the other Jewish leaders associated with Jesus only in secret. Since Nicodemus’ questions were inquiry and not interrogation, it is evident that he understood there were elements of misunderstanding amoung the Jewish leaders regarding Jesus. Nicodemus was seeking information, but he was blind to the truth of God.

Are we Christians often blind to the truth of God? Do we really understand what God wants through us and from us, or are we as blind as Nicodemus? Nicodemus didn’t understand Jesus or His mission because he was looking for a Messiah of a political kingdom. He didn’t understand that Jesus had come to be the Messiah of a “New Birth” resulting from the impregnation of the heart by the Spirit of God. Like Nicodemus, many come to Jesus in the dark for the wrong reasons? Are we more concerned about the miracles He will do for us or are we concerned about true change of being Born Again? Worse, do we ever grow enough in our Christian walk to know the difference?

In John 3:1-32, Nicodemus got it wrong, but did he later get it right? Maybe the answer is found in John 19:38-42. Most importantly, where do you stand and are you willing to grow?

Permissible but not Benificial

Life brings on all kinds of challenges, such as family, home, occupation, and relationships. Because we are saved by the blood of Christ, there also will be challenges in our walk with Christ. With freedom in Christ there are responsibilities. We must always remember that, because a solution is non-sinful, it may not always be a responsible solution. Paul in speaking to the Corinthians (1 Corinthians 6:12) reminds them that with freedom “everything is permissible to me”- but everything is not beneficial. “Everything is permissible for me” – but I will not be mastered by anything. Always remember that with the freedom of salvation through Jesus, you always have responsibilities.

How do I know what God’s will is, what does He want me to do?

Thank you for submitting this question. Scripture often refers to passages which give instructions on doing the “will of God”. For example; in the Old Testament we find, (Psalm 40:8), “I desire to do your will, O my God; your law is within my heart.”, and in the New Testament, Jesus said; ( Matthew 12:50) “For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.” In both Scriptures the word “will” is applied to the “Will of God”, where God has the power and authority of choosing and determining a strong purpose, power of self-direction, deliberate action, choice, disposition or attitude toward man. God’s purpose is carried out in such a way that man’s actions are affected.(1) Note that the “Will of God” or His purpose remains supreme from Genesis to Revelation. His purpose always becomes reality.

There seems to be a difference in the Old Testament and New Testament on how the “Will of God” is carried out.(1) In the Old Testament “the action or purpose is ascribed to God.” Therefore, you find verses like Isaiah 46:9-10 “Remember the former things, those of long ago; I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me. I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come. I say: My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please.” The New Testament brings about a shift, as Jesus makes a conscience choice to be an instrument of God’s work and purpose, as in John 4:34 “My food,” said Jesus, “is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work.” Jesus also encourages others to join God’s purpose as in John 7:17 “If anyone chooses to do God’s will, he will find out whether my teaching comes from God or whether I speak on my own.”

The early Saints of the church, in following Jesus, took up the theme as Paul notes in examples like Acts 20:27 – “For I have not hesitated to proclaim to you the whole will of God.” , Romans 12:2 -“Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” and Ephesians 5:17 – “Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.”

In II Peter 1:21“ For prophecy never had its origin in the human will, but prophets, though human, spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.”, it is clear that there is a “Will of God” as opposed to a human will. The questions are therefore; how do we as Believers reduce our will and come more in line with the “Will of God”? Or, how do I know what God’s will is, what does He want me to do?

I have found no easy answer to this question because unfortunately Scripture doesn’t put together a “how to” on this one. My experience in my journey has led me to four keys:

1. Listen for the God’s instructions through “The Holy Spirit”. For years I have always felt that something, somewhere beyond my Earthly world has had an influence on my life. There was always a guide, it just took me a long time to listen and depend on the guide. I have since early days in Church training and Parochial School, heard of the “Holy Spirit”. I even remember when it was announced, that we are not going to call Him the “Holy Ghost” anymore, because a ghost had implications of Satan. At that early age I was familiar with the King James Version of John 16:7 “Never the less I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away; for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you.”, but the verse never made any sense. I did, however, keep listening to the voice, especially when I was in situations away from home, by myself around people who were not family. I depended on the voice, and it always worked out. It was later when I read the NIV translation of “Counselor” instead of “Comforter” in the KJV, I began to understand what was giving purpose to my life. Today I know that the “Holy Spirit” speaks to me as often as it does to everyone. We just need to listen to God’s instructions through the “Holy Spirit”.

2. Study the Scriptures to verify that your instructions are God sent. When God speaks He will confirm the message through Scripture or send Scripture that will let you know that it is not His message. As he “Holy Spirit” speaks often, we must stay close to Scripture and in prayer to receive the correct conformation. If you are not a reader, get into a bible study that requires reading Scripture with the intent of studying a specific lesson. I have found quite often that the intent of the message is one thing, and your conformation or instructions to stay away comes through.

3. Be Persistent. God’s work is not for the faint of heart. I Peter 3:13 says “For it is better, if it is God’s will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil.” Understanding why God wants certain actions from us is not easy. Stick to it and His understanding will come through.

4.Understanding the message has changes and addendums. Wherever God is taking you, whatever is His purpose for your life, won’t be known right away. God only gives us as much truth as we can handle. In 1972, I went looking for a part-time job while living in Macon, Ga., I got the job, but had no Idea that the part-time job would lead to placement of 30+ years in Saint Petersburg, FL and a ministry of Bible Teaching. God gave me the part-time job in in 1972, but if He had told me the rest of the story, my family and I couldn’t have handled it at the time. Glenda often reminds me that Abram, to please Sara, wanted a son. God had planned not only a son, but a blessed nation (Genesis 12:1-3) and …all people on earth will be blessed through you (Genesis 12:3).

Finally after about 30 years of personally searching the process, I finally found a “How To” presentation. It is Experiencing God, Knowing and Doing the Will of God by Henry Blackaby and Claude King. For the last 20 years this presentation has been one that I have taken and presented. It is one of the staples of Homewords Small Group Bible Study Ministry, which we study about every 3 years. Those who are familiar with this series usually give a positive opinion of the workbook and videos. If you are not familiar with this presentation, but want to learn more, please contact us.

1.The Interpreter’s Dictionary of The Bible, Volume Four, Abingdon Press, New York, 1962

2. NIV Study Bible, 10th Anniversary Edition, The Zondervan Corporation, 1995

Show Me Your Sacrifice! by Rev. Frank Brunson

2 Corinthians 11:21b-28

 What anyone else dares to boast about-I am speaking as a fool-I also dare to boast about. Are they Hebrew? So am I. Are they Israelites? So am I. Are they Abraham’s descendants? So am I. Are they servants of Christ? (I am out of my mind to talk like this.) I am more. I Have worked much harder, been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, been exposed to death again and again. Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and day in open sea, I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my own countrymen, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false brothers. I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked. Besides everything else, I facedaily pressure for my concern for all the churches. (NIV)

 

                A few years ago I was a member of a civic organization for community improvement that met home to home. Although we enjoyed the comfort of the home meetings we decided it was in our best interest to have a building to centralize our activities and share with the community. We had very little money, but we did have a lot of commitment to our goal of improving our community.

                 The plan to reach our building goal was simple. After finding a fix-up building we could afford to purchase, each person committed a small amount of monthly cash to cover expenses and improvement, and a lot of physical effort to work on those improvements. The project was completed due to the entire group’s commitment to the sacrifice of a little money and a lot of time.  So, as evidence of their sacrifice, whenever community activities were held in the building, the group always boasted by sharing their story of reaching their goal with the plan of little money and a large amount of time sacrificed.

                 Paul in his message to the Church of Corinth shows that he loved the people of Corinth and all the cities in which he had established churches. It was his love that encouraged his sacrifices, which guided him on the missions to help them to understand their salvation through Christ.

                His love produced the commitment of continuing on, in spite of him (Paul) experiencing suffering and sacrifice. But Paul also lovingly boasted of his suffering to quiet false preaches and teachers of the day. He showed his record of sacrifice and commitment and in a way asked them to, “show me your sacrifice”.

                 If Paul were to issue this challenge to you, where would you stand? Would you have more talk than sacrificial time? Could you show him suffering and sacrifice or little effort and little accomplishment for Christ? Paul’s method is not about boasting in self accolades, but most certainly one of self-inventory.

                 If we take our self inventory, can Christ depend on us to go the extra mile? Can Christ depend on us to get His job accomplished by putting in more time and effort for others and not self? If Christ asked you, “show me you sacrifice”, what would you have to show?