A Father Rejoices

Proverbs 23:24

The father of a righteous child has great joy; a man who fathers a wise son rejoices in Him.

Happy Father’s Day to all the Dads out there!

I love the truth of this verse and it resonates so deeply.  Indeed, the father of a righteous child has great joy! Indeed, a man who fathers a wise son (or daughter) rejoices in him (or her)!  Righteous. Wise. Faithful. These are the qualities I believe every father desires to instill in his children. What could possibly matter more to a man than to see his children living in the light of the Truth? This verse reminds me of another favorite. Written by the Apostle John: “It gave me great joy when some believers came and testified about your faithfulness to the truth, telling me how you continue to walk in it. I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.” (Cf. 3 John 3-4)

When I contemplate my own life, and the legacy I hope to leave my children, I pray the most important “take away” they will receive from me will be a legacy of faith in Jesus Christ.  I have found that nothing else truly matters in this life except our fellowship with God and our love for Him … and accordingly … our sincere love for one another.  Leading our children to faith in Jesus Christ and discipling them in the faith is the greatest demonstration of real love that I could ever imagine to impart.  Why?  Because I know they will not have or experience abundant life or fulfilling love apart from Him.  If we love and cherish children as God ordained for men to do, then it follows that we must bestow upon them the best gift possible … the love of God through His Son … the only hope of eternal life!

I am sure that most of us have failed to be consistent in our own journeys of faith at times over the years … and our examples have not always been the best in difficult situations or personal challenges.  But in whatever way we have fallen short of being God’s best for the building of our children’s faith, know it is never too late to redeem the time or to express a sincere desire to continue the walk together going forward.  And so, do not hesitate to humble yourself and ask your children to look beyond the sins … the missteps and mistakes made along the way … and assure them that you have endeavored and will always strive to love each of them as you have been loved by God through His Son.  Yes, remind them that God is their true Father … and that His love is perfect, full of grace, and abides forever.

Well, I apologize if I sound too emotional this morning. It is hard for me not to feel emotional on Father’s Day because the love and joy I feel from having children and grandchildren in my life is overwhelming! The delight of fatherhood has been a precious and treasured gift from God; and I want to savor this occasion with thanksgiving for the honor and privilege of being an earthly father.  This morning, I told my children how extremely proud I am of each of them … their awesome accomplishments … and the incredible impact each of them already have had upon this world.  Likewise, each one of your children and grandchildren will make this world a far better place and bless others with their unique gifts, talents, and expressions of love.  So I pray this morning that every father will be grateful for the blessings of their children; and I pray our Heavenly Father will fill each of you with His unending grace and His unfailing love!

So Now You Know….

Have a Blessed Day!

Forever … You Are God

Psalm 90:2,4

Before the mountains were born or you brought forth the whole world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God. A thousand years in your sight are like a day that has just gone by, or like a watch in the night.

I want to continue our theme on the sovereignty of God.  Before the mountains were ever formed, before the foundations of the earth were ever laid, God existed.  Perhaps, a better way to correctly phrase it: God exists!  God IS.  He revealed Himself (His Name) to Moses: God said to Moses, “I am who I am. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I am has sent me to you.’” (Exodus 3:14) So, from everlasting to everlasting, He IS God!  Time is nothing to God.  There is no time with Him as we know and understand it as created beings. God is eternal, and that establishes His power, majesty, glory, authority, and sovereignty over all His creation.  He is Creator and we are created…. In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. (Genesis 1:1) If you have an opportunity, I encourage you to read Isaiah 40 for a meditation on God and His attributes….

“The beginning” only refers to a framework for the knowledge and understanding that God has determined to give or reveal to us.  I think this “beginning” of creation was given as a reference to afford us the concept of time – which is interesting because Ecclesiastes 3:11 declares: “He (God) has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.  But perhaps a more important message to me is this passage: “He (God) has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of His own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time, 10 but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior, Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.” (Cf. 2 Timothy 1:9-10) Life as we see it … as we experience it … was in the mind and will of God before we ever came into existence.  And the realities of His true nature and being were “brought to light” through the life and ministry of Jesus….  

Once we ascent to and believe these “beginnings” of revealed truth … we can go on to understand and embrace all of what God has revealed of Himself.  To believe God is to “fear” Him … meaning to show reverence and honor due unto Him.  It means submission to Him and His authority.  It means trusting Him. It means loving Him … because “God is love.” (Cf. 1 John 4:16) It is His kindness that leads us to repentance (Cf. Romans 2:4); and it is His mercy that redeems us from wayward, rebellious hearts that oppose Him. As Paul wrote: “For God has bound everyone over to disobedience so that He may have mercy on them all. (Romans 11:32) All these things are mysteries to us until we begin to seek greater understanding for ourselves … and that “desire to know” becomes the foundation of faith. Without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him. (Cf. Hebrews 11:6)

Each of us has a unique “beginning” to our knowledge of God … but it truly forms when we “fear” Him … when we acknowledge Him and reverence Him.   King Solomon wrote about the pursuit of knowledge and wisdom in several of his proverbs.  I will reprint some excerpts here, but I encourage you to read the full chapters when you have an opportunity:

Proverbs 1:7 (NIV)

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction.

Proverbs 4:5-7 (NIV)

Get wisdom, get understanding; do not forget my words or turn away from them. Do not forsake wisdom, and she will protect you; love her, and she will watch over you. The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom. Though it cost all you have, get understanding.

Proverbs 9:10-12 (NIV)

10 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding. 11 For through wisdom your days will be many, and years will be added to your life. 12 If you are wise, your wisdom will reward you; if you are a mocker, you alone will suffer.

So where am I going with these thoughts?  I suppose to exhort us to “Get Wisdom!”  It begins with acknowledging Almighty God the Father as sovereign over the universe and everything in it.  It begins with worshiping and subjecting ourselves to Him.  It begins with a proper view of our “position” in the created order of life (i.e. a little lower than the angels). (Cf. Psalm 8:5) It begins with understanding that we are subject to mortal time; but with God, time does not exist.  God has revealed the certainty of the eternity which God set in our hearts when He sent His Son, Jesus, to redeem us and grant us that eternal life….  So, I guess my point is that until we settle these foundational pillars of theology in our hearts, building the rest of the “house of faith” is going to be spiritually slower and arduous.  When we understand who God is, understanding ourselves and His purpose for us begins to take hold. And we can know God through His Son, Jesus Christ, who is the exact representation of His Being. (Cf. Hebrews 1:3)

As you begin your day … I encourage you to seek the wisdom and the knowledge of God or to continue going so.  Everything else in your life really hinges on those two pursuits.  And remember, the fear (reverence) of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.

So Now You Know….

Have a Blessed Day!

Sovereign God

1 Chronicles 29:11 (NIV)

Yours, Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the majesty and the splendor, for everything in heaven and earth is yours. Yours, Lord, is the kingdom; you are exalted as head over all.

I read this verse from 1 Chronicles this morning and just felt overwhelmed with the message … an exaltation … an expression of praise to God simply for who He is!  It helped me to remember (before I start my day) that He is everything!  There is none besides Him! I need (we all need) this perspective … God reigns!  This passage reminds me of when Jesus taught His disciples the “Lord’s Prayer” … a model of prayer to guide us in our communication with God … the “finale” which concluded the prayer is very similar:

Matthew 6:9-13 (NKJV) – Jesus is speaking

In this manner, therefore, pray:

Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your name. 10 Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. 11 Give us this day our daily bread. 12 And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. 13 And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.

Although the final phrase of Verse 13 is not contained in most texts or manuscripts, and therefore, not included in other “translations” of the verse, the King James Version includes this “doxology” or liturgical formula of praise to God which I believe originates from the rich language of 1 Chronicles 29:11.  I personally love its inclusion in the Lord’s Prayer because of the recognition it gives to sovereignty, majesty, and glory of God the Father.  I think it helps us better understand who we are in light of who He is.  We are the creatures and He is the Creator!  This truth should diminish all rebellion and sin in our lives as it penetrates our hearts….

Anyway, in my time of mediation this morning, these thoughts became more personal in nature; and I was drawn to the words Psalm 139.  This Psalm brings a more intimate knowledge of how God is sovereign over our lives … our own beings.  I thought that I would share it this morning – thinking someone besides me truly needs this Word to speak to them … and to remind them how deeply God loves you and how intimately He knows you.  He knows where you are.  He sees you … and He lavishly loves you beyond all you can think or imagine!  You need to trust Him … His Word … His Mercy … His Compassion … His Kindness … His Goodness … His Patience … His Faithfulness … (oh help me, Lord) … HIS EVERLASTING SOVEREIGNTY!  There is no life … no salvation apart from Him.  He is seeking YOU this morning!  God wants personal time with you today!  I fervently pray you will go the “secret” place and just meet with Him there!  You WILL find healing in the shadow of His wings. You will find rest.  He is waiting for you….

Psalm 139:1-18 (NIV)

1 You have searched me, Lord, and you know me.
You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar.
You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways.
Before a word is on my tongue you, Lord, know it completely.
You hem me in behind and before, and you lay your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain.

Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea,
10 even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.
11 If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,”
12 even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you.

13 For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful; I know that full well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.
17 How amazing are your thoughts concerning me, God! How vast is the sum of them!
18 Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand—when I awake, I am still with you.

So Now You Know….

Have a Blessed Day!

Verse of the Day – 02/01/19

Deuteronomy 6:4-5

Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.

This verse from is probably a familiar one for most of us.  It is a doctrinal pillar for the Judeo-Christian faith and distinguishes monotheism (belief in a single God) and pantheism (belief in many gods).  If we went back into human history, Adam and Eve, would have testified to only one God … the One who walked and fellow-shipped with them in the cool of the day each morning.  Noah believed in the one God; and his reverence compelled him to build an ark to save all living creatures from the appointed judgment (Epic Flood) God would inflict upon the earth for the continual evil intentions and thoughts of their hearts … including the worship of other gods and idols. If we continue up until the time of Abraham, there are diverse human cultures and civilizations had developed belief systems that included multiple gods – most of whom represented celestial bodies, animals,  forces of nature, and human ideas which led to the creation of idols.  Except for a remnant of the Adamic lineage, it appears most people had abandoned the one, true God who is the Creator … who is the Lord.

In some of the earliest literature contained in our canon of Scripture, we can find this philosophical and theological chasm between monotheism and pantheism.  The Book of Job, for instance, is the oldest inspired narrative recorded in the Bible according to most scholars.  It was written before Moses even penned the Torah (Pentateuch – the first five books of the 24 Books of the Tanakh).  Job believes in and dialogues with one God; and of course; Moses develops an entire structure of worship for the “I AM” or self-existent One under holy inspiration.   And so along with other records from the contemporary period (Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob) we find the Jewish descendants holding firm to faith in the “one” true God.  He is not a plethora or composite of many gods, but a single, self-existent being who created all that is seen and unseen – with a unique, revealed purpose for the people He created “in His image”.

While we understand and believe that God is One … there is language found in the Scriptures that might suggest something other than one unique, self-existent Creator.  We can find it in the Book of Genesis … the foundational construction (the beginning) and explanation of how human existence came into being.  The first sentence … Verse 1 … states, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”  The word translated “God” here in our English bibles is the word “Elohim”.  It is a plural form of the general name “El” as used for God in the Ancient Near East.  So when we arrive at Verse 26, we see the plural form used again, “Let US make man in OUR image, according to OUR likeness….”  Yet, in Verse 27 we read the singular form, “God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.”  I mention these distinctions not to imply an inconsistency in the concept of God or His nature; rather, the two forms to me will actually affirm a singleness or oneness of the revealed nature of God in the whole of Scripture.  The trinity (Father, Son, and Spirit) and the unity (God) are evident in the inspired language used to impart this theological concept to us.

While the word “trinity” is not used in the Bible; its applicability to our understanding of the “One” God is revealed when Jesus Christ boldly declares His oneness with the Father in John 10:30.  And when Jesus spoke of the Holy Spirit in Luke 12:10, He taught that anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but anyone who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven.  In essence, Jesus implied that blasphemy against the Holy Spirit was blasphemy against God.  When the resurrected Jesus gave “parting” instructions to the disciples in Matthew 28:19, He instructed them to go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit…. 

The name of God is the unifying image or concept of three beings of the same substance or nature … if you will.  God is One, but He manifests or reveals Himself as Father, Son, and Spirit.  Jesus taught us that God is Spirit in John 4:24. When Jesus prayed for His disciples as recorded in John 17:11-12, He said, “I will remain in the world no longer, but they are still in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name, the name you gave me, so that they may be one as we are one. While I was with them, I protected them and kept them safe by that name you gave me.”  I find it interesting that we can infer here that the name of the Holy Father is the name given to the Son – Jesus.  The interpretation here does not have to literal (i.e. the name Jesus).  But think of it in these terms, the name (image or nature) of the Father is the same name (image or nature) given to the Son.  The concept is still the unity of oneness of the Father and the Son … as well as the Holy Spirit as we will see.

So where am I going with this train of thought?  The OT Scripture declares God is one – but it reveals that God is plural in His nature and in the sense of His self-revelation to man.  Mankind is commanded to love God … the Lord our God … with all of our heart, soul, and strength.  Contrast with the NT Scripture and the declaration in 1 John 5:1 which reads, “Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and everyone who loves the Father loves His child as well.  When you and I love Jesus with all of our heart, soul, and strength … we fulfill the commandment of God.  Perhaps the following passage will better explain what I am trying to share here:

John 16:7-15; 25-28 (NIV)

But very truly I tell you, it is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Advocate (Holy Spirit) will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you. When He comes, He will prove the world to be in the wrong about sin and righteousness and judgment: about sin, because people do not believe in me; 10 about righteousness, because I am going to the Father, where you can see me no longer; 11 and about judgment, because the prince of this world now stands condemned.

12 “I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. 13 But when He, the Spirit of Truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on His own; He will speak only what He hears, and He will tell you what is yet to come. 14 He will glorify me because it is from me that He will receive what He will make known to you. 15 All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will receive from me what He will make known to you.”

25 “Though I have been speaking figuratively, a time is coming when I will no longer use this kind of language but will tell you plainly about my Father. 26 In that day you will ask in my name. I am not saying that I will ask the Father on your behalf. 27 No, the Father Himself loves you because you have loved me and have believed that I came from God. 28 I came from the Father and entered the world; now I am leaving the world and going back to the Father.”

So, the message I want to share is that God (Father, Son, and Spirit) has revealed Himself to us … to all people … in “forms” or “persona” that we can understand in order to have the fellowship and life He desires for us to have and experience.  He has made known His passionate, everlasting love for us.  And though we should respond with like passion … I believe if we were honest… we often fail to love God as we ought … with ALL of our heart, soul, and strength.  But I hope we might consider that God has given us relational ways to experience Him AND to express our love to Him.  Profoundly and literally, Jesus the Son, has truly shared our human form.  And Jesus said “the Spirit will receive from me what He will make known to you.”  So, again, we have an Advocate who is relational to us as well.  And as we pray to the Father, I believe our own spirits can feel connected to Him as approach His throne of grace to receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. (Cf. Hebrews 4:16)

There is so much we do not know and will never know about God.  But instead of focusing on what remains mysterious, let us delight ourselves in all He has revealed.  We have creation itself which reveals God’s invisible qualities – His eternal power and divine nature. (Romans 1:20).  We have Jesus Christ the Son who is the image of the invisible God. (Colossians 1:15) And we have the Holy Spirit … the gift from God (cf. Acts 1:8; 2:4; 2:38; Romans 5:5; 1 Corinthians 6:19).  He is the seal of our redemption through Christ Jesus … who is the only way to the Father.  I pray that we will walk in the knowledge we do have … and love the Lord our God with ALL of our hearts, souls, and minds as He has empowered us to do….  Amen.

So Know You Know….

Have a Blessed Day!