Tag Archives: God’s will

The Knowledge of God: Grow in the Knowledge of God, Part 1

 

Grow in the Knowledge of God, Part 1

Knowledge of God Recapped

To know or knowledge (yada) in the Old Testament means to: (1) know by observing and reflecting (thinking) and (2) to know by experiencing and being acquainted with.  Yada represents both the intellectual and experiential side of knowing.

In the New Testament this same thought is continued with the Greek words, ginosko and oida, which recognizes an increase in knowing or knowledge.  The word epiginosko (epi, “upon”) expands knowing to full knowledge through a special participation and uniting with the object (Col. 1:6).  This is the experiential side of knowledge.

Knowledge of God accomplishes three things in our life as believers: (1) it establishes the moral authority and inspiration in our life, (2) it results in purposeful living, and (3) it enlightens us as to what God has given to us.

Knowing God and knowledge of God are both part of the same coin.  Our knowledge of God paves the way to knowing God AND knowing God creates a desire to increase our knowledge of Him. 

Peter’s blessing

In Peter’s second letter to God’s elect, he expressed concern about false teachers in their cities.  He opened with a special blessing that would offer both favor and protection against the error being communicated at that time.  Peter prayed that grace and peace would increase abundantly to meet the challenges they faced.  How?  By continuing to grow in the knowledge of God AND Jesus their Lord (2 Pet. 1:2, NKJV).

Like the elect receiving Peter’s letter, we too are surrounded by false teachers.  I use this term more generally to describe those who perpetrate disinformation and misinformation.  Their sole purpose is to create false narratives, perpetuate divisiveness, and seed dissension for gain.  Social media continues to invade our thoughts resulting in unhealthy influences, high anxiety, and fear.  AI with its many benefits also brings new threats of abuse and misuse.

Peter contends that through knowledge of God, we have everything we need for living godly and prosperous lives.  This knowledge is made available to us through God’s Word (Psa. 19:7-9) and through His Holy Spirit.  In addition to God’s “exceeding and great promises”, we are also partakers of His “divine nature” (2 Pet. 1:3-4).

Even in the direst of circumstances, we must remember and declare that we have the victory through Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior (Rom. 8:35,37; John 16:33).  Our knowledge of God is the filter through which we respond to 21st century challenges and live triumphantly even in a fallen world (2 Cor. 4:14-18).  Next week we will detail how we can grow in our knowledge of God.

Closing Reflection

Truth time.  Do we want to come to a knowledge of God?  Do we want to increase our knowledge of Him?  Or are we satisfied with what we know today?

A.W. Tozer in his book, “The Dangers of a Shallow Faith,” shares his observation of the modern Church in their search for things of “this world” rather than knowing God.  After reading this short excerpt, let’s ask ourselves, “what are we seeking as a substitute for the knowledge of God?”

The Early Church was in wonderment at Christ. He dazzled them and stirred within such feelings of amazement that they could never get over Christ. All they talked about was Christ. All they thought about, from morning to night, was Christ. Christ was their only reason for living, and they were more than willing to die for Him. Now we looked to celebrity to dazzle us. For some reason we assume that carnal entertainment is the appropriate replacement for the sanctified adoration of the Most High. No cheap thrill can ever replace the ecstatic joy of knowing Jesus Christ.

 

The Knowledge of God: Grace and Peace in the Knowledge of God

 

Grace and Peace in the Knowledge of God

Knowledge of God.

In his second letter to God’s elect scattered throughout what is now modern Turkey, the Apostle Peter expressed his concern about false teachers.  The area in which these Christians lived was a hotbed for philosophies and teachings that challenged their belief in Jesus.  Are these concerns still a threat in 2024?

Peter opens his letter with a special blessing, “Grace and peace be multiplied to you through the knowledge of God and Jesus Christ” (2 Pet. 1:2, NKJV).  He knew that knowledge of God was key to truth and protection against error—whether it be religious or secular. And it still is!

What is it?

To know or knowledge in Old Testament Hebrew has a wider meaning than in our English language.   To know is not to be intellectually informed, but to experience it as part of one’s reality.  Divine-human relationships are often expressed in this term.  The Lord knew Moses “by name.” (Exod. 33:11, 12, 17)

In the New Testament, the thought continues that knowing God is not simply an intellectual exercise.  The difference lies in the fact that knowing God is a response of faith and acceptance of Christ (John 14:7; 17:3)

There is more to be said about the difference between knowing God and having a knowledge of God.

Knowing or Knowledge:  What’s the Difference?

The difference between knowing God and knowledge of God is a subtle but deeply important one, touching on the very nature of faith and belief.

    • Knowledge of God refers to intellectual understanding and information about God. It can come from studying religious texts, attending sermons, learning about different doctrines and philosophies. You might possess a vast amount of information about God’s attributes, actions, and teachings.
    • Knowing God goes beyond mere intellectual knowledge. It’s about a personal relationship and experiential understanding of God. It’s about encountering God in your life, feeling his presence, and having a sense of connection with him. This isn’t achieved solely through information but through practices like prayer, meditation, and living a life guided by faith.

Consider this analogy:

    • Knowing about a tree: You might know its species, leaf shape, and how it photosynthesizes. You could even recite poems about trees.
    • Knowing a tree: You’ve spent time under its shade, climbed its branches, felt the wind in its leaves. You have a personal connection and understanding beyond textbook knowledge.

Similarly, knowledge of God is like the textbook, while knowing God is like experiencing the tree itself.

Knowing or Knowledge:  Which is better?

So, is knowing God better than having a knowledge of God?  For me, both are part of the same coin.  Each is important in developing a complete and personal reality of God in our life.

Our knowledge of God paves the way to knowing God.

Knowing God creates a deep desire to increase our knowledge of Him.

 That being the case, we will continue our study to know more.  I leave you with several insights from other notables of the faith who continue their pursuit of the knowledge of God.

“May God give you more and more grace and peace as you grow in your knowledge of God and Jesus our Lord” (2 Pet. 1:2, NLT)

 

The Christian is strong or weak depending upon how closely he has cultivated the knowledge of God.   A.W. Tozer

Intimate knowledge of God is possible if we habitually search His Holy Scriptures and translate what we find into obedience.  George Mueller

 

Too many Christians are fighting graduate school sins with grammar school knowledge of God.  John Piper

 

How can we turn our knowledge about God into knowledge of God? The rule for doing this is simple but demanding. It is that we turn each truth that we learn about God into a matter for meditation before God, leading to prayer, and praise to God.   J.I. Packer

 

 

 

The Knowledge of God: Begin with the Basics

 

Begin with the Basics

Learning from our experiences

In last week’s teaching on “Lessons Learned in 2023”, I shared those things I will take with me as I moved forward into 2024.  The “egg” I will carry includes spiritual growth, eternity, and finally, my knowledge of God.  It is in this last area that I’d like to begin a new series, “The Knowledge of God”.

Knowledge of God has always been one of the foundational tenets that forms the framework for our teachings and programs that support our mission of “Transforming lives through teaching God’s Word.”  The other tenets include knowing our identity in Christ (Gal. 2:20) and in remembering that our citizenship is in heaven (Phil. 3:20).  We are part of the Kingdom of God.

Why is knowledge of God important?

Our knowledge of God…

    • Establishes the moral authority and inspiration in our life. We look to God to provide us with truth needed to guide us in this fallen world.  God gives us peace, joy, and hope needed during troubling and uncertain times.  He is our strength and deliverance (Ps. 18:1-3).
    • Results in purposeful living. We are God’s workmanship, created to do good works which He identified at the foundations of the world (Eph. 2:10).  To live out the purpose God has for our life, it is critical that we are obedient to God’s directions.  Living purposefully, the goal is spiritual maturity and ultimately, conformity to the image of Jesus Christ (Rom. 8:29).
    • Enlightens us as to what God has given to us. As believers, we have everything we need to live godly in this world (2 Pet. 1:3).   First and most importantly, we have eternal life.   In addition, as children of God, we have access not only to Father God, but also to all the blessings and promises that go with this special relationship (Eph. 1:3-14).

All these things and much more are ours today.  But it requires correct knowledge and understanding of who God is—His goodness and His greatness.

The journey begins.

The rise of humanism in our world, has caused man, incorrectly, to believe he is the most important and knowledgeable creature on the earth.

Humanism primarily focuses on human flourishing in the present world, emphasizing social progress, ethical living, and addressing immediate concerns. This may not automatically lead to a focus on knowledge of God unless individuals actively seek to connect those values with their spirituality.

In his groundbreaking work of faith, Your God is Too Small, J.B. Phillips encourages Christians to redefine their understanding of who God is.  Phillips explains that the trouble facing many of us today is that we have not found God big enough for our modern needs.

Many women and men are living, often with inner dissatisfaction, without any faith in God at all. This is not because they are particularly wicked or selfish or, as the old fashioned would say, godless, but because they have not found with their adult minds a God big enough to account for life, big enough to fit in with the new scientific age, big enough to command their highest admiration and respect, and consequently they’re cooperation.[1]

We invite you to join us as we expand our knowledge of God.  Let’s learn how God is “big enough” to meet us where we are today, even amid the complexities of 21st century living.

[1] Your God is Too Small, J. B. Phillips

On the Road to God’s New Thing

A road by any other name

A road is literally defined as a wide way leading from one place to another. We often think of roads as access to new opportunities of commerce or development, such as the road to success.

A road can also describe a series of events or a course of action that will lead to a particular outcome. In the book, The Road Less Traveled, M. Scott Peck uses “road” figuratively to describe the sometimes hard and often painful process of change. Peck uses the “road less traveled” as a illustration of the journey this requires.

Jeremiah’s  road

In Jeremiah 31, the prophet speaks to the people of God in Babylon to prepare them for a “road”—both literally and figuratively—that would return them to their own land after their 70-year exile.

Jeremiah’s message is clear. They are not to be afraid or lose heart. They are to be focused with a firm resolution to rebuild the nation of Israel.

In Jeremiah 31:22,  Israel is called to refrain from falling back into their old rebellious habits as God creates “a new road”  to their salvation—a “new thing” that had never been done before (or since).

How long wilt thou go about, O thou backsliding daughter? for the LORD hath created a new thing in the earth, A woman shall compass a man.  

Failure on the road

Israel is warned against potential backsliding which is interpreted as “faithless”. In the past both Israel and Judah had consistently failed to “holdfast” to God and depend solely on Him for their every need. (Job 27:6) The results was always disastrous as proven by the conquest of both nations.

Where are we placing our faith? Is it in people—elected officials, family members, or friends?  Are we dependent on things—bank accounts, social status, or professional affiliations? Do we believe only in ourselves—our intellect, looks, or personality? When Jesus returns, will He find  us faithfully following Him on the new road? (Luke 18:8)

With God on the road to new things

Israel is encouraged to trust God, Who would create a “new thing”—interpreted as strange and surprising—in the earth. God would create a woman who would “compass” or protect man.

Many interpreters understand this “new thing” to be the incarnation of Jesus Christ.  A woman, the Virgin Mary, enclosed in her womb the Might One. This was to be their incentive.

They would know that with their return from exile came the promise of not only their physical restoration but also the spiritual blessing of the Mighty God (Is. 9:6). God would not cast off His people but bless them. This was to be their assurance.

What is the road for us today?

How do we  to live in the knowledge of this “new thing”?  Knowing the blessings of being in Christ (Ep. 1:3-14).

We live attentively in God’s presence. God is creating new opportunities for us.  However, we must listen for His voice and watch where He is working. (2 Chronicles 16:9)

We live expectantly in God’s provision. God has provided all that we need to live godly lives and to accomplish His purpose in our lives. (2 Pet. 1:3-8)

We live faithfully in God’s purpose. As the elect of God we live by faith. We do not backslide or “draw back unto perdition” but trust that He who began this “good work in us” is able to complete it. (Phil. 1:6)

Our journey to understanding “new things” has hopefully provided incentive and inspiration to walk in the divine purpose God has created for our lives. When we as believers trust God and understand God’s reason for “new things”, we can move forward joyfully in faith and confidence.

God’s Reason for New Things

God's Reason for New Things

Why change?

Last week we asked if we are ready for “new things”.  Maybe your life is going great and you have no need to change.  Great!  But for the rest of us, we realize that as the world changes, we too, must make sure that the way we are operating is within the will of God and His purpose for our lives.

Why resist?

It is human nature to resist doing new things even if new things offer more than the status quo.  The Book of Numbers takes us to where we observe the impact of a nation’s resistance to “new things” with respect to God and His divine purpose for their life.

But if the LORD make a new thing and the earth open her mouth, and swallow them up, with all that appertain unto them, and they go down quick into the pit; then ye shall understand that these men have provoked the LORD.  Num. 16:30 (KJV) 

What should have been an eleven-day journey resulted in a forty year “funeral procession” (Num. 14:28-29; 32-35).  Regardless of Israel’s opposition, God would show them a reason for His new thing.

Resistant and rebellious until the end!

From the time of their departure, Israel complained and was rebellious against not only the leadership of Moses and Aaron but also against God Himself.  Israel had seen the many miracles of God yet  in their hearts, regardless of what God did for them, “Israel had Egypt in their hearts. ” [1]

Where is your heart?  When God attempts to move you to your divine purpose, do you complain and murmur?  Is your affection set on the things of this world when God’s plan offers much more? (Col. 3:2-4)

New things may come with a price.

Read Numbers 15:1-20:13

Motivated by jealousy and envy, Korah, Dathan, and Abiram attempted to seize the priesthood from Aaron and his sons. In so doing, they also challenged the sovereignty and authority of God.

In the wilderness, God would teach Israel a painful lesson about the reason for “new things”—about sacrifice, authority, and responsibility.

That “new thing” would come with a price—it would cost Korah, Dathan, and Abiram their life, their families’ lives plus the lives of 14,700 people within Israel’s camp.

One of the reasons for God’s severity in punishing Israel was to prepare the way for His new thing—a people who would accept the “new beginning” He had readied for them in the Promised Land.  It would be there that Israel would experience new victories, a new priest (Eleazar), a new leader (Joshua), and a new generation.

How does God use “new things” in our life?
    • God might need to reset or reboot our current efforts. Stalled plans, ungodly influences or fleshly lusts can often take us off the path God sovereignly chooses for us.  God’s intervention will guarantee success. (Phil. 1:6)
    • God may desire to take us out of our comfort zone. He may even allow “trials and tribulations” into our life to move us forward.  In trusting and waiting on the Lord, we find courage to persevere as we pursue God’s plan for our life.  (1 Pet. 1:6-7)
    • God could choose to introduce us to an opportunity that may not have been on our radar screen. It is in those moments we can depend wholly on God to bring prospects into our life that will result in our good and His glory.   (Matt. 7:11)
God always has a reason for introducing new things into our life.

They may not be easy but they are always worth it.  We may not understand “why” but we can trust “Who” (God).

In the past when faced with new things, I was like Israel, guilty of complaining and murmuring.  Out of fear and frustration, I would cry, “Lord, why me?” I now choose God’s path for my life and when faced with “new things” I sigh in faith and confidence, “Lord, it’s YOU and me!”

[1]   Wiersbe Bible Commentary

Ready for Something New?

Ready for Something New?

Do you need something new?

Do you need a new surge of inspiration?  Perhaps you began 2023 with a New Year’s resolution to lose weight, gain more faith, or increase your personal time with family.

Perhaps you’re fasting to discipline your body or engaged in a prayer effort to renew your spirit.  Aren’t these the things we normally do?  How’s it working?  Maybe it’s time to change our thinking.   Maybe it’s time to do a “new thing”!

It’s been said, “If you keep doing what you’re doing, you’ll keep getting what you got!”  So do a new thing!  God’s thing!  Walk in the divine purpose God created just for you—from the beginning of time (Eph. 2:10).

What’s a “new thing”?

In the Old Testament, the use of “a new thing” is cited in only three (3) texts:  Isaiah 43:19, Numbers 16:30, and Jeremiah 31:22.  Here they describe situations where God’s greatness and sovereignty is on display as God “invites man” to move into His designated purpose.

In the New Testament this concept of “a new thing” is manifested in the fulfillment of Messiah who came to gift us with salvation and to restore man to God’s original purpose—to glorify Him and live with Him forever.  God was unable to fulfill His purpose through families, tribes or kings; through prophets, mediators or priests.  God brought salvation to earth through Jesus Christ—”God’s new thing”.

This “new thing” would result in:

      • The Kingdom of God coming to earth. (Matt. 4:17)
      • Mercy, grace, and truth. (Ps. 85:10)
      • Man becoming a “new creation”. (2 Cor. 5:17)
      • Freedom from the penalty and power of sin. (Rom. 8:1)

A new thing is promised.

In Isaiah 43:19, God is promising to retrieve and restore Israel from their 70-year exile.

Behold, I will do a new thing; now it shall spring forth; shall ye not know it? I will even make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert.  (KJV) 

The New Living Translation makes God’s plans even clearer.

For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it?  I will make a pathway through the wilderness. I will create rivers in the dry wasteland. 

The Israelites deliverance out of captivity would be more famous than that from Egypt (Jer. 23:6-8).  Israel thought they knew God but He was about to show them something different—“a way in the wilderness, rivers in the desert”.  To do this would be humanly impossible but God alone had the power and authority to do “a new thing” (Isa. 45:7, 12).

I am learning that with God nothing is impossible (Gen. 18:14).  As my pastor stated in his Sunday sermon, the reason we aren’t realizing God’s best for our lives isn’t because of God.   “God is not the problem.  WE are the problem!”  Our lack of faith and refusal to get out of our comfort zone keeps us from moving into God’s promises and His purpose for our lives.   1 Corinthians 2:9 reminds us that: “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared or those who love him.”

Are we ready for a new thing?

For us, God is more than able to “make a pathway through the wilderness and create rivers in the dry wasteland.”  God wants to do a “new thing” in our life so we can walk in His divine purpose.  Here is the “CPR” we can use to revive us and begin our journey.

      • Confess areas of sin in our life that are interfering with hearing God.
      • Position ourselves to hear God speak—pray, read and meditate on His Word.
      • Reflect on where God has already begun working in our life.

Then ask God how we can serve in His Kingdom (our purpose), wait patiently, and listen attentively.  God invites us to join Him in doing a “new thing.”  When we trust God with our lives, we can look forward to an exciting future with purpose (Jer. 29:11).

Although and Yet: A Prayer of Faith

 

Although and Yet: A prayer of Faith

Wickedness leads to judgment

Last week we were introduced to Habakkuk the prophet.  Habakkuk lived and prophesized in the reign of king Manasseh, when wickedness abound.  Destruction by the Chaldeans was imminent.  God would use them as an instrument of His judgment.

If God were to assess the moral condition of our nation, would we be prepared to receive His punishment?  Last week, we listed the “sins of Judah” that resulted in its fall.  Disobedience is a slippery slide that leads to a continuum of sins (James 1:13-15).

What’s in a name?

Before being taken into captivity, Judah would experience the loss of all its material wealth and property.  All the blessings of God (Deut. 28:1-14) would be eliminated because of the wickedness and rebellion of Judah (Deut. 28:15-68).

How was Habakkuk to respond to God’s pending punishment on the nation of Judah? Habakkuk is an unusual name which means “to embrace or cling”. In the final chapter of this book, his name becomes apparent as Habakkuk chooses to cling firmly to God regardless of what happens to his nation.

Although and yet.  These two conjunctions reflect how devoted Habakkuk was to his God and the trust he would need to navigate through the dark days that lie ahead.

Habakkuk’s declaration

In the final chapter of the book, Habakkuk concludes with a prayer confessing his continuing trust in the rightness of God’s dealing with Judah (Hab. 3:17-18).

Though the fig tree may not blossom,

Nor fruit be on the vines;

Though the labor of the olive may fail,

And the fields yield no food;

Though the flock may be cut off from the fold,

And there be no herd in the stalls—

Yet I will rejoice in the Lord,

I will joy in the God of my salvation.

May I digress and spend a moment on the grammar Habakkuk used in this prayer.  Though is a conjunction meaning “in spite of the fact that”.   When used at the beginning a phrase, clause, or sentence, it offers a contrast to the main sentence.   Yet is also conjunction that means, in this context, “nevertheless.”  What are you saying, Habakkuk?  Put it in 21st century language we can understand!

In spite of rising costs and inflation,

And drought burned crops and dying cattle in the fields,

In spite of fires, floods, and ravaging storms,

And our shrinking GNP and personal investment accounts,

In spite of doing more with less

And receiving little in return

Nevertheless, I will rejoice in my Lord!

I will be joyful and trust in God.

He is my salvation!

That is the kind of faith we need today. Our world continues to shift from the familiar to the unrecognizable.  These lead to uncertainty and fear.  How will we respond?  Take a moment and write your own declaration of faith.  What is your “in spite of” and your “nevertheless”?

Habakkuk’s faith

Habakkuk concludes his prayer by living up to his name.  He praises God’s wisdom even though he doesn’t fully understand God’s way.  Habakkuk chooses to cling firmly to God regardless of what happens to his nation.

That faith and trust is captured in his closing statement (Hab. 3:19, NLT):

The Sovereign Lord is my strength!

He makes me as surefooted as a deer,

able to tread upon the heights.

In the King James version of this verse, two different words are used for “make”.

  • “He will make my feet like hinds’ feet” or “to transform into”.
  • “He will make me to walk upon my high places” or “tread, bend, or march”.

The deer in this verse was not the domesticated goat we see on farms today but was a wild mountain goat that was equipped the move through the rugged terrain of the mountains.  Narrow openings and ledges, crooks, and jagged rocks.  This is where the deer lived, yet they moved confidently knowing they were created for that world.

Application for us.  Our sovereign God has created us for such a time as this.  He is transforming us and bending us so that we will be able to not only survive but thrive.  But our ability to walk upon “our high places” is dependent on our faith and trust in God—even if we don’t understand His ways.  We must live by faith (Hab. 2:4).  If we do, then we too will be able to walk on our high places (Hab. 3:19).

What’s Going On?

What's going on?

What’s going on?

One of my favorite songs (past and present) is by American soul singer, songwriter, and producer Marvin Gaye.

It was released on May 21, 1971, by Motown Records.  The narrative established by the songs is told from the point of view of a Vietnam veteran returning to his home country to witness hatred, suffering, and injustice. Gaye’s introspective lyrics explore themes of drug abuse, poverty, and the Vietnam War. He has also been credited with promoting awareness of ecological issues before the public outcry over them had become prominent (Mercy, Mercy Me).[1]

As I look around our nation and world, I ask the same question. What’s going on?  And I even ask where is God in all this confusion?  And why doesn’t God intervene?  Such was the case with the prophet Habakkuk as he looked upon the nation of Judah.

The consequence of sin

The prophetic book of Habakkuk shares the dialogue between a “gracious God” and an “anxious prophet”.  As is true with both the major and minor prophets, we are given great insight as to how a holy God deals with an unholy and rebellious nation.

Although the nation of Judah was God’s “covenant people” (Deut. 7:7), God was now prepared to meter punishment on them like they had never experienced. The prophet Habakkuk has been chosen for “such a time as this”—a time when time has runout!

Judah was guilty of extraordinary sins.  Habakkuk inquired of God how long He would allow the wickedness of Judah to go unpunished.  They would not go unpunished.  God would use the nation of Babylon as His “chastening rod”.

We often think that our wrong behavior is not being seen by others.  While that may be true for a moment, the fact is, God sees!  What is done in the dark, will always come to light (Luke 8:17).  Many of our ousted elected officials and fallen religious leaders can attest to that truth.  However, there are always consequences for sin and it’s usually not good.

The cost of sin

God lists for Habakkuk the sins of Judah in five (5) “woes”.  God “had” indeed taken notice of Judah’s crimes (Hab. 2:5-20).  They included:

      • greed and aggression (vv. 5-8)
      • exploitation and extortion (vv. 9-11)
      • violence (vv. 12-14)
      • immorality (vv. 15-17)
      • idolatry (vv. 18-20)

We live in a world like Judah.  Look at the woes!  We sin both individually and collectively, as a nation.  God’s standard for righteous living has not changed (Micah 6:8; Mal. 3:6). Does God see what we’re doing?  Of course, He does (Ps. 33:13-14; Ps. 139:8-12).  The question is, are we willing to deal with the consequences of our sins?  Are we willing to accept the cost?

The cost is being realized as we see the immediate impact sin has on our children, our families, and our communities.

    • The hungry. Hunger is a very real issue for 12% or 41 million people in the United States.
    • The homeless. Why are people homeless? Because of “lack”!  Lack of affordable housing, income, employment opportunities, and healthcare.
    • The abused. Domestic violence.  Sexual abuse.  Human trafficking.

But what do these impacts have to do with sin?  Re-read the “five woes” and see how they fit in our 21st century culture.  If we are not guilty by “commission”, perhaps we are culpable by “omission”—by what we don’t do to make life better for others (Prov. 3:27).

The just shall live by faith

Although God’s judgment was hard for Habakkuk to accept, he recognized the only “proper response” in the midst of this dilemma.  He was “to live by faith, not by sight” (Hab. 2:4).

As we look at the world we live in, it is easy to be disillusioned and in despair.  Just like Habakkuk, we may question how long God will tolerate sinful and evil behavior from both individuals and nations.

Regardless of who sits in the White House or State House, we as believers in Christ are to do our part to speak truth and justice.  We are to engage in our world to represent Jesus as He ensures God’s will is accomplished (2 Cor. 5:15).  We are to live by faith.

Like Habakkuk, we have an ordained purpose to accomplish (Eph. 2:10).  We are to pursue our purpose trusting that God sees and is always in control.  He is constantly, through every historic event moving us to His divine plan of salvation for mankind.

Knowing that, our purpose should not focus on our personal agendas.  But instead let us join God in His plan.  Like Habakkuk and Esther and all those who have gone before us, we were created for such a time as this.  Let us not be in despair but let us “go forth” in the strength of the Lord (Ps. 71:16).

[1] Wikipedia

Losing Our Mind

Losing Our Mind

Losing our Mind

In the 90’s there was a commercial that declared “a mind is a terrible thing to waste.” Its intent was to encourage the pursuit of higher education.

Unfortunately, a politician, hoping to win “kudos” and votes with potential constituents misquoted this saying resulting in the statement, “a mind is a terrible thing to lose.” That politician was not re-elected.

Mind management

In his letter to the church at Philippi, the Apostle Paul gives advice as to the best use of one’s mind. “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 2:5).  In other words, we are to set aside our way of thinking and replace it with the same type of thinking as Jesus.  And what is the results of doing this? Victorious living.

Victorious according to Webster is defined as having won a victory or characterized by victory. I’m not suggesting that our life will be perfect nor problem free.    Our victory comes in the knowledge that Jesus has already overcome every situation we now face in our life (Heb. 4:15; 1 John 5:5).  In Christ, we have everything we need to overcome the challenges of 21st century living (2 Pet. 1:3-4, RSV).

His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, that through these you may escape from the corruption that is in the world because of passion and become partakers of the divine nature.

How do we obtain the mind of Christ?

To have a mind of Christ we must…

Be willing to exchange our position and our plans, for the purpose God has designed for our life. Christ willingly joined God in His plan of salvation for mankind (Eph. 1: 4-6).

Trust in God and believe that all things work together for good to those called according to His purpose (Rom. 8:28).

Humble ourselves like Christ.  Our intents and actions should seek “no personal reputation” nor gain (Phil. 2:6-8).  Christ voluntarily set aside His privileges (“being in the form of God”) and accepted a lower status (“took on the form of a bondservant and made in the likeness of man”). Why? For us.  That we might be released from the bonds of sin and have eternal life.

Our victory

Finally, to have the mind of Christ, we must be obedient.   Obedience is the highest form of love. Because of our love for God, we must be willing to sacrifice our thoughts and actions to follow the instructions He has set before us (1 Sam. 15:22). Christ’s obedience was love of the highest caliber.  Jesus was obedient even if it meant death by the worst possible punishment, death on the cross (Phil. 2:8).

Paul shares with the Philippians God’s reward for Jesus Christ’s “mind” (Phil. 2:9-10):

Therefore, God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Possessing the mind of Christ will empower us to “pull down strongholds and cast down obstacles that hold themselves up above the knowledge of God.  We can do this by bring into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.” (2 Cor. 10:4-5)

A mind may be a terrible thing to lose” unless you replace it with the mind of Christ.  There is an old axiom that states, “You can’t lose what you never had.” Read the Gospel account of the Madman of Gadarenes (Mark 5:1-19) and see how losing your mind can change your life.

What is God revealing?

 

Revealing Hidden Things

As stated last week, secret things belong to God.  Revealed things, however, belong to us and to our children so that we may follow God’s law.  They are truths which God has communicated through the Bible and His Holy Spirit. These also include those things revealed through the whole counsel of God.

This truth, found in Deuteronomy 29:29, falls in the fourth address to the children of Israel by Moses.  It is a summary of the covenant demands and an appeal for covenant obedience (Deut. 29:2-29).

For the Israelites, the secret things of the LORD probably referred to future details that God had not revealed to Moses.  Yet what He had revealed (e.g., future judgment for disobedience, future blessing for obedience, His requirement for holiness, etc.) was enough to encourage the Israelites to follow all the words of the Law.[1]  

Is God’s revealed truth enough to encourage 21st century believers to trust and obey the LORD?  To answer this question, let’s consider four (4) tenets of faith currently revealed by God in His Word and through His Spirit.

These are not meant to be exhaustive, but have proven to anchor one’s faith during tumultuous times (Heb. 6:19).  As we look at our current world situation, it is easy to become weary.  Hopefully, these revealed truths will encourage us not to “lose heart” (2 Cor. 4:16-17).

What has God revealed?

Our Knowledge of Him (2 Pet. 1:3-5).  Jesus came not only to acquire our salvation but to also manifest (reveal) the Father’s name (nature) to His children (John 17:6; 26).  Armed with that knowledge, we believers have access to divine power and precious promises.  God has also provided us with spiritual wisdom and insight through His Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 2:9-10).

Our Identity (Eph. 1:3-4). Identity is defined as the set of characteristics by which a thing is definitively recognized or known.   God chose us to be adopted as sons, heirs and joint heirs with Christ (Rom. 8:17).  Our identity also connects us with other believers in God’s universal Church.  Because of our identity we have access to everything we need to accomplish God’s purpose for our life and His kingdom. (Eph. 2:10)

 Our Salvation (2 Cor. 5:17).  We are new creatures in Christ.  Because of Christ’s substitutional death on the Cross, we have been set free from the penalty and power of sin in our life.  This freedom will be fully experienced once in heaven where we will be delivered from the presence of sin (Rev. 21:4).

Our Hope (Rom. 4:18-21).  Hope is simply defined as the expectation of future good.   “Biblical hope is the anticipation of a favorable outcome under God’s guidance. More specifically, hope is the confidence that what God has done for us in the past guarantees our participation in what God will do in the future. This contrasts to the world’s definition of hope as a feeling that what is wanted will happen.”[2]

What keeps us from trusting what God has revealed?

One reason we may not trust what God is revealing is because we fail to recognize it.   In the 2020 Barna study, Signs of Decline & Hope Among Key Metrics of Faith”, it is noted that there are fewer “faith engagements” occurring among both believers and non-believers.  These include Bible reading, prayer, and church attendance.  These activities are critical to gaining an understanding of what God has revealed in the past and what God is revealing in the present.

The U.S. population is undergoing major religious, social, demographic and digital change. The rise of digital life, including social media, the economic crisis, changing attitudes about social issues and the emergence of younger generations on the scene are some of the factors that are likely to form undercurrents recalibrating Americans’ connection to faith and to Christianity.

Another reason we may not trust what God is revealing is because we choose not to believe.  One’s disbelief may be tied to the feeling that religion and the Bible are no longer relevant to 21st century living.  Such beliefs are not new.  The Apostle Paul warned the young minister Timothy that the time would come when people would not endure sound doctrine (2 Tim. 4:3-5).   People are choosing other forms of spirituality that “better accommodate” their chosen life style and worldview.

Finally, we may not trust what God is revealing because we choose not to obey God.  Have you ever noticed that when a person is auguring over a specific teaching from the Bible, it is often connected to a personal obedience challenge they are facing in their life?  Obedience is more than just following the letter of the law.  It is discerning what God would want and then seeking that outcome.

So where do we go from here?

As we discover things revealed (and the list is infinite), we gain access the very mind of God (Rom. 11:33-36).  Things revealed may be answers to those persistent questions concerning God’s purpose for our life.  Our receptivity to things revealed may be our entry to God’s power, presence, and provision.

Our life and the current challenges of 21st century living may seem impossible, but with God’s grace and favor, nothing is impossible.   In the midst of this health pandemic, strained human rights, and cries for human justice, we need only to seek Him in the things revealed.

[1]  The Bible Knowledge Commentary , Old Testament

[2]  Holman Bible Dictionary