What is it?

Looking through my journals and email, I found out that I was wishing for a lot of good things to happen. I claimed to be “hoping,” but I did not/could not be confident the desired outcome would happen. That is not what hope is about. Hope is more than wishing. [Want to know more? Click here.]

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Praise God For His Just Judgment

Yes, God is the Judge. It seemed weird to me that I would praise Him for what seems like such a negative characteristic. But regardless of how I feel, God is the just and righteous Judge of all mankind. It’s part of who He is. I admit I did not think to praise God for this character attribute on my own. I don’t often like to think of God as Judge. Yet there are some very important characteristics of God tied into His being the Judge.
First we need to understand that a Biblical judge is not the same as a modern, American, judge. There are characteristics of judges in Biblical times that are not true of judges in our society. One of those characteristics is ultimate authority. “In the Bible world, the king was always the supreme judge, because his was the supreme ruling authority. It is on that basis, according to the Bible, that God is judge of His world. As our Maker, He owns us, and as our Owner, He has a right to . . . make laws for us, and to reward us according to whether or not we keep them.” (J.I. Packer, Knowing God, p. 127) God is both the Lawgiver and the Judge.
Second, a Biblical judge is identified with what is good and right. That’s true of God. What He has decided is good and right. He is a passionate God who cannot be impartial. “The biblical judge is expected to love justice and fair play and to loathe all ill-treatment of man by his fellow-man . . . The Bible leaves us in no doubt that God loves righteousness and hates iniquity . . .” (Knowing God, p. 128)
Third, a judge displays wisdom and is able to discern truth. In reality, only God can do that 100% of the time. “When the Bible pictures God judging, it emphasizes His omniscience and wisdom as the searcher of hearts and the finder of facts. Nothing can escape Him . . .” (Knowing God, p. 128) Only God can discern truth, factual truth and moral truth, and be right every time. And, He not only can tell the truth, He has to judge based on the truth.
Finally, a Biblical judge has power and is able to execute a sentence. In our modern society, a judge just pronounces the sentence, usually determined by a legislative branch making laws. Also the judge does not enforce the penalty. That’s left up to a separate branch of government. “God is His own executioner. As He legislates, and sentences, so He punishes. All judicial functions coalesce in Him.” (Knowing God, p. 129)
When you take all that into account, being a judge is essential to His character. Without being a just and righteous Judge, God’s other attributes would not be displayed in the same way. Everything from His omniscience to His omnipotence to His love are part of what makes Him a just Judge of mankind. Being a Judge is one of His attributes and it’s worthy of our praise.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Praise God for His Grace

I like to tell myself I believe in the grace of God. I’ve heard many times that grace is undeserved favor. I buy that simple explanation as in my humanness I am fully aware that I do not deserve much of anything and yet God has given me much. Another saying I’ve heard about God’s grace is that it is God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense. I believe in that kind of grace, too.
However, I don’t pretend to fully comprehend God’s grace toward me. That is because I truly believe that I am flawed and totally undeserving of total forgiveness and grace. I struggle to believe that God can forgive me. I also struggle with forgiving myself. Fortunately, God is not limited by my abilities, either to believe in Him or to forgive myself. His grace is bigger than my beliefs and bigger than me. Just when I think I understand His grace, I am overwhelmed by my lack of understanding. I can only seem to hold onto the thought of total forgiveness and grace for short periods of time. Then it wanes and I struggle with believing in it again.
In Knowing God, J.I. Packer put it this way: “The grace of God is love freely shown towards guilty sinners, contrary to their merit and indeed in defiance of the demerit.” (p. 120) What this says to me is that God loves me and shows that love no matter how good I am. It also says that no matter how bad I am, that same love is freely shown to me. You see, God’s grace covers me regardless of whether I am holy (which I am not except in Christ’s forgiveness) or whether I am sinful (which I often am). His grace is not dependent upon my goodness or my badness. It just is. And it’s all encompassing. It covers me whether I’m good or bad, and it covers me because I am both good and bad.
It is beyond my comprehension that God can love me so unconditionally. Yet, He does. And He does so because He wants to. His grace is something to be thankful for and something for which to praise Him.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Praise God for His Majesty

Majesty is just a fancy word for greatness or grandeur. It comes from Latin. We use it to talk about Her Majesty, the Queen when we talk about the Queen of England. We are saying that the Queen is great and grand. Other synonyms for majesty include illustriousness and stateliness. It also has a sense of nobility about it.
However, it is often found in the Bible in describing God. He is the ultimate in greatness, grandeur, and stateliness. He is the highest nobility there is. So using majesty to describe God makes sense. Some of my favorite praise passages in Scripture use majesty as part of the description of God. A few of those passages are below.
1 Chronicles 29:11: “Yours, O Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty, indeed everything that is in the heavens and the earth; Yours is the dominion, O Lord, and You exalt Yourself as head over all.”
Psalm 45:3: “Gird Your sword on Your thigh, O Mighty One, In Your splendor and Your majesty! And in Your majesty ride on victoriously, For the cause of truth and meekness and righteousness; Let Your right hand teach You awesome things.
Psalm 93:1: “The Lord reigns, He is clothed with majesty; The Lord has clothed and girded Himself with strength; Indeed, the world is firmly established, it will not be moved.”
Micah 5:4: “And He will arise and shepherd His flock In the strength of the Lord, In the majesty of the name of the Lord His God. And they will remain, Because at that time He will be great To the ends of the earth.”
Hebrews 8:1: “Now the main point in what has been said is this: we have such a high priest, who has taken His seat at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens,”
2 Peter 1:16: “For we did not follow cleverly devised tales when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of His majesty.”
Whether the Scriptures are talking about the God of the Old Testament or about the Lord Jesus Christ of the New Testament, His majesty is noted. That’s because God is great in every way and majesty is the one word that can describe that greatness. Praise Him for His majesty.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Praising God for His Immutability

Immutable. Unchangeable. God is unchanging. God is the same as He’s always been. That’s good news for us. It means that the God who did all those great and mighty things throughout Biblical history is still able and willing to do great and mighty things today.
Sometimes it’s hard to picture God at work in our world. We don’t see Him miraculously fighting major battles in our conquest for the promise land like He did in Israel’s day. I know for me I have to be looking to see where God is working. But because He worked in the past, I can be sure He is working today. It’s part of His character to be unchanging in every aspect. So, for me today, it’s important to know He’s at work in my life.
According to J.I. Packer in Knowing God, there are six ways that God is unchanging. In looking at a couple of the ways God is unchanging, I gain confidence in my God acting on my behalf.
One point is that God’s life is unchanging, meaning that He’s eternal, always was and always is going to be. Psalm 90:2 says, “Before the mountains were brought forth or ever You had formed and given birth to the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting You are God” [Amplified Bible]. “Created things have a beginning and ending, but not so their Creator.” (Packer, p. 69) God did not need to be made. He always existed and will always exist. God is not going to just disappear sometime in the future leaving me without hope. My hope is in an eternal God.
Another point is that God’s character is unchanging. Packer says that “in the course of a human life, tastes and outlook and temper may change radically: a kind, equable man may turn bitter and crotchety; a man of good-will may grow cynical and callous. But nothing of this sort happens to the Creator.” (p. 69) James 1:17 tells us that God “does not change like shifting shadows.” [NIV] God’s character is as it always has been and that’s good news for us because “God is sheer mercy and grace; not easily angered, he’s rich in love” [Psalm 103:8, The Message]. He will always be merciful and full of grace toward me. He’s not going to get angry with me, or stop loving me. It’s not in His character because we’ve been told what He’s like. His character will always be loving toward me because He is love.
The fact that God is immutable means I can count on Him at all times to be just like He is described in the Bible. I choose to focus on His never-changing love and mercy for the people throughout history. I can rely on Him to still be that way for me today.