God’s Providence to Abraham [Lesson 2.6]

18 Jun

Ever wonder where God is when you are experiencing problems in life? In the Psalms, one of the common themes is the Psalmist, crying out to God – asking Him where He is!

I’ll paraphrase…

Lord, we have been knocked down! I don’t know where we will ever get the energy to get up and continue with the fight. You don’t even seem to care. God, do you have it in for us? Our problems seem to scream at us and ask us – where is your God? Is He out to lunch? Is He taking a nap? Where are You when we need You most?

The truth is, as the Psalmist concludes, most of our pain is the result of our own actions, choices, and attitudes. So he prays! Please forgive us for neglecting your plan for our life. Please, pull us out of this mess. Do what You’re best at doing. That is saving! That’s what God’s specialty is. (Psalm 79)

Now think about Abraham. God told Abraham to sacrifice his only son. Did you hear Abraham saying – Where are you God? Why would you have me do this? You can’t be serious!

No. Abraham obeyed. When Isaac asked where the lamb was, Abraham said, “God Himself will provide one”. What faith. Abraham knew what Isaac didn’t – God had asked Abraham to sacrifice Isaac. But, Abraham’s faith in God’s Providence was so great that he knew that God would provide a lamb.

So, what is our answer to God when we experience trouble? I trust you God to know what is right for me and that through your Providence, you can make all my stupid actions work out for good. And when you do, I will praise you over and over and over. Actually, maybe I should start now!

The Providence of God [Lesson 2.5]

17 Jun

prov·i·dence (noun)

1. Care or preparation in advance; foresight.

2. Prudent management; economy.

3. The care, guardianship, and control exercised by a deity; divine direction

4. Providence God.

http://dictionary.reference.com/search?q=providence

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And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor. -from the Declaration of Independence

The Founders were characterized, as a group, by remarkable intellectual ability, foresight and public-spiritedness. When they signed the Declaration of Independence, they knew they were risking everything. Most would sign this pledge knowing that they would become instant wanted men. They also knew that in order for this country to survive, the American people would have to depend on God’s Divine Providence. The Declaration contains five references to God – God as supreme Lawmaker, God as Creator of all men, God as the Source of all rights, God as the world’s supreme Judge, and God as our Protector on whom we can rely.

They were dependent on God’s care, foresight, prudent management, guardianship and divine direction. They knew that man alone could not accomplish this by themselves. Whew — I am still in awe at the brilliance of these men.

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Consider this quote by Robert E. Lee

“We failed, but in the good providence of God apparent failure often proves a blessing.”

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God is always watching out for us – even when we think He isn’t.

God the Creator [Lesson 2.4]

16 Jun

cre·a·tor (noun)

1. One that creates
2. Creator God. Used with “The”

http://dictionary.reference.com/search?q=creator

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In the beginning God…

These first four words of the Bible form the foundation for faith. Believe these words, and you can believe all that follows in the Bible. I love to read the Genesis account of creation. We know from our previous lesson that God is omnipresent. Time and space isn’t a concept in His world. He is the ultimate time traveler!

I still marvel at Gods creative power. Six years ago, Patti and I were surprised to find out we were about to have triplet daughters. For a number of reasons, we knew there was a possibility of multiples. We used in-vitro fertilization, so automatically, it was a possibility. Multiples run in my family and lucky us, it was my generation’s time! My brother Shawn already had a set of twins and my cousin has twins. Two of our triplets are identical. Our doctor said, “As good as I am, I can’t do that!” An egg splitting is totally a God thing.

As I reflect on the uniqueness of my girls, I started thinking about how God continues to create today. God gave man the knowledge to perform the procedure that ultimately produced our daughters. We like to think that God wanted to remind us that He was the author of creation by splitting that egg. In fact, He used his creative power to create each one of us, unique as we are!

I’m glad we are all unique…I don’t think the world could handle another me.

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Creation – Another view

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After creating heaven and earth, God created Adam and Eve. And the first thing he said was “DON’T!”

“Don’t what?” Adam replied.

“Don’t eat the forbidden fruit.” God said.

“Forbidden fruit? We have forbidden fruit? Hey Eve… we have forbidden fruit!!!!!”

“No Way!”

“Yes way!”

“Do NOT eat the fruit!” said God.

“Why”

“Because I am your Father and I said so!” God replied, wondering why He hadn’t stopped creation after making the elephants.

A few minutes later, God saw His children having an apple break and He was ticked!

“Didn’t I tell you not to eat the fruit?” God asked.

“Uh huh,” Adam replied.

“Then why did you?” said the Father.

“I don’t know,” said Eve.

“She started it!” Adam said.

“Did not!”

“Did too!”

“DID NOT!”

Having had it with the two of them, God’s punishment was that Adam and Eve should have children of their own.

Thus the pattern was set and it has never changed.

God is Love [Lesson 2.3]

15 Jun

But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.

Romans 5:8 (New Living Translation)

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Because God is Holy, He separates Himself from people because of human sinfulness. How then can we communicate with God if we are sinners.

In the Old Testament, only one person was allowed in the holiest part of the tabernacle. A sanctified priest was permitted to enter once each year to sprinkle blood on the mercy seat. He did this to make atonement for the sins of the people in the presence of a holy God. In this way, God’s people were made to see how much God hated their sin.

In present times, God has provided us a way to come into His holy presence through atonement provide by His son, Jesus Christ who was the sacrificial lamb, paying for our sin with His life. It is the ultimate act of love.

How could He love us so much?

God is Love, and His love is very different from human love. God’s love is unconditional, and it’s not based on feelings or emotions. He doesn’t love us because we’re lovable or because we make Him feel good; He loves us because He is love. He created us to have a loving relationship with Him, and He sacrificed His own Son (who also willingly died for us) to restore that relationship.

God is the Creator of all things, and by His very nature, He is love. God says love is unconditional and sacrificial, and it’s not based on feelings; therefore, love is not an “intense affection… based on familial or personal ties”. To understand what true love is and to be able to truly love others, we must know God, and we can do this through a close personal relationship with Him. We can have that close relationship with God by putting our faith in Jesus Christ, who was God’s sacrifice of love for us.

God is Just [Lesson 2.2]

14 Jun

just (adjective)

1. Honorable and fair in one’s dealings and actions

2. Consistent with what is morally right; righteous

http://dictionary.reference.com/search?q=just

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God has given me and my wife the wonderful task of raising four daughters. One of the most challenging things I experience as a parent is watching my children disobey and then having to play parent. It saddens me when I have to discipline one of my girls. Nothing melts a fathers heart quicker than big sad eyes that say – “Daddy, I love you… I’ll obey next time”. I know that as a God fearing father, it is my role as a parent to provide good sound biblical discipline when our children disobey. I don’t like it, they don’t like it, but it’s for their own good.

Wow – I sound like my parents!

The bible says it best:

In this all-out match against sin, others have suffered far worse than you, to say nothing of what Jesus went through–all that bloodshed! So don’t feel sorry for yourselves. Or have you forgotten how good parents treat children, and that God regards you as his children?

My dear child, don’t shrug off God’s discipline,
but don’t be crushed by it either.
It’s the child he loves that he disciplines;
the child he embraces, he also corrects.

God is educating you; that’s why you must never drop out. He’s treating you as dear children. This trouble you’re in isn’t punishment; it’s training, the normal experience of children. Only irresponsible parents leave children to fend for themselves. Would you prefer an irresponsible God? We respect our own parents for training and not spoiling us, so why not embrace God’s training so we can truly live? While we were children, our parents did what seemed best to them. But God is doing what is best for us, training us to live God’s holy best. At the time, discipline isn’t much fun. It always feels like it’s going against the grain. Later, of course, it pays off handsomely, for it’s the well-trained who find themselves mature in their relationship with God.

Hebrews 12:4-11
The Message

God is Holy [Lesson 2.1]

13 Jun

ho·ly (adjective)
  1. Belonging to, derived from, or associated with a divine power;
  2. Regarded with or worthy of worship or veneration;

http://dictionary.reference.com/search?q=holy

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Men are notorious for wearing underwear way past their usefulness.  I have a pair that I only wear on Sundays…They are holy! (rim-shot please!)

Seriously…

God is holy in His absolute uniqueness. Everything else belongs to a class. We are human. Rover is a dog, the oak is a tree. Earth is a planet, the Milky Way is one of a million galaxies, Gabriel is an angel, Satan is a demon. But only God is God. And therefore He is holy, utterly different, distinct, unique.

All else is creation. He alone creates. All else begins. He alone always was. All else depends. He alone is self-sufficient.

And therefore the holiness of God is synonymous with His infinite value. Diamonds are valuable because they are rare and hard to make. God is infinitely valuable because He is the rarest of all beings and cannot be made at all, nor was He ever made. If I were a collector of rare treasures and could somehow have God, the Holy One, in my treasury, I would be wealthier than all the collectors of all the rarest treasures that have ever lived.

The holiness of God is the absolutely unique infinite value of His majestic glory. To say that our God is holy means that He is beautiful beyond degree in the magnificence of His glory and that His value is infinitely greater than the sum of the value of all created beings.

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Reflect on these words:

Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty
Early in the morning our song shall rise to Thee
Holy, holy, holy, merciful and mighty
God in three persons, blessed Trinity

Holy, holy, holy, all the saints adore Thee
Casting down their golden crowns around the glassy sea
Cherubim and seraphim, falling down before Thee
Which, wert and art and ever more shall be

Holy, holy, holy, though the darkness hide Thee
Though the eye of sinful men Thy Glory may not see
Only Thou art holy, there is none beside Thee
Perfect in power, in love and purity

Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty
All Thy works shall praise Thy Name in earth and sky and sea
Holy, holy, holy, merciful and mighty
God in three persons, blessed Trinity

God Is Awesome! [Bonus 1.6]

11 Jun

 

awe (noun ) A mixed emotion of reverence, respect, dread, and wonder inspired by authority, genius, great beauty, sublimity, or might

awe·some (adjective) Inspiring awe

http://dictionary.reference.com/search?q=awesome

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As I struggled to get my email server working correctly so I could send these emails and have y’all (remember our conversation on Sunday) actually receive them, I was struck at how similar this is to our own process in trying to live a christian life. My email server is equipped with many filters and firewalls. Predelivery and post-delivery processing rules. All in an effort to prevent all of the unwanted garbage the internet can expose us to. On average, even with all of the rules and procedures and walls in place, I still get 150-200 junk emails per day which I still have to sort through just in case my rules snagged a good email. (Ever wish there were a Culligan Man for computers?! )

On my journey in christian living, I have also established rules, procedures, walls etc.all in an effort to live a life pleasing and accountable to God. As much as I try, garbage still enters into my life and I have to deal with it. I like knowing that there is a God, who desires a personal relationship with me. He already knows the consequenses of whatever choices I might make. I take comfort in the fact that I can call upon His knowledge and wisdom to guide me into making the right decisions.

Now – if God would only do email!

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From the Groaner Department

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What did the horse say when he fell?

“I’ve fallen and I can’t giddy up!”

God is Triune [Lesson 1.5]

10 Jun

tri·une (adjective) Being three in one.

http://dictionary.reference.com/search?q=triune

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There are three persons in the Godhead: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. They are of the same substance; they are equal in glory, power, majesty, and eternity; and they are one.

The big question many ask is: To whom do we pray?

We could take the lead from some children’s prayers:

Dear Jesus: Please send a new baby for Mommy.
The new baby you sent last week cries too much.
Debbie, 7

Dear God: Who did you make smarter? Boys or girls?
My sister and I want to know.
Jimmy, 6

Dear God: This is my prayer. Could you please give my brother some brains.
So far he doesn’t have any.
Angela, 8

Dear Lord: Thank you for the nice day today.
You even fooled the TV weather man.
Hank, 7

Dear God: Please bring me a new brother.
The one I got socks me all the time.
Agnes, 6

Dear Jesus; I am saying my prayers for me and my brother,
Billy, because Billy is six months old and he can’t do
anything but sleep and wet his diapers.
Diane, 8

Seriously, it is important to know whom we should address our prayers to. Jesus told us to address our prayers to the Father (John 16:23, 26 & 27). Since we believe that God has given all authority to Jesus, it is alright to address your prayers to Jesus as well. Some teach differently, saying it is wrong to address prayers to anyone but the Father specifically, but this is Biblically unjustifiable doctrinal hair-splitting. See Acts 7:59; Stephen, with his dying breath, prayed to Jesus, “…calling upon God…”. Also, by the context, St. Paul said in II Corinthians 12:9 that he prayed to Jesus. And last but not least, the famous phrase, “Amen, Even so, come Lord Jesus!” (Revelation 22:20) is a prayer addressed to Jesus. It is probably also alright to address a prayer to the Holy Spirit. You are certainly invoking the Holy Spirit when you use the words “In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, Amen” (Matthew 28:19), and an invocation is a kind of prayer.

It is also important to know whom NOT to pray to. It is absolutely unscriptural to pray to anyone else, such as “Mary” or one of the saints. In fact, doing so is idolatry. An answer from such a source may come from Satan!

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While our friends from India traveled around California on business, they left their 11 year-old daughter with us. Curious about my going to church one Sunday morning, she decided to come along. When we returned home, my husband asked her what she thought of the service.

“I don’t understand why the West Coast isn’t included too,” she replied. When we inquired what she meant, she added, “You know, in the name of the Father, the Son, and the whole East Coast.”

– From Readers Digest

 

God is Omniscient [Lesson 1.4]

9 Jun

om·nis·cient (adjective) Having total knowledge; knowing everything

http://dictionary.reference.com/search?q=omniscient

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Alan Kay is a prominent and respected computer scientist. He works in a field where it’s notoriously difficult to predict the future: ten years before the World Wide Web emerged, no-one anticipated anything like it: everyone thought back in the eighties that the future of computer was going to be in things like voice-recognition interfaces. His take on how to predict the future of computer science is insightful: “The best way to predict the future is to invent it.”

We can understand God’s perfect knowledge of past, present and future in much the same light: he invented it. He knows it perfectly because it’s his plan.

As it relates to our lives, He does not make the decisions about what is going to happen to us. He just knows what our decisions will be before we make them. He foresees, he does not predetermine the events in our lives.

God is Omnipresent [Lesson 1.3]

8 Jun

om·ni·pres·ent (adjective) Present everywhere simultaneously.

http://dictionary.reference.com/search?q=omnipresent

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It seemed to Abdullah that all in Petra were on their faces and yet still somehow able to see Christ. And when the Savior had called Abdullah by name, he could tell from the response around him that Jesus had called each person by their own name. Even better, Jesus had spoken to Abdullah in his native Arabic.

Kenny shouted, “He knows me!”

And Beth Ann wrapped her arms around George’s neck and squealed, “He said my name!”

From that moment, Abdullah heard everyone conversing with Jesus as if He were speaking to each of them alone.

Excerpt from The Glorious Appearing by Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins

When I read this book, it sent chills down my spine to think that someday, I too will get to talk to Jesus face to face. And knowing that He is omnipresent, I won’t have to stand in line. In fact, He is able to talk to all of us, in our own language, at the same time. In fact, because He is omnipresent, we don’t even have to wait for his return – He hears us right now when we talk to Him. I admit – I can’t wait to see Him but, it is also nice to know that I can still talk to Him until that day!