Tuesday, January 31, 2012

2/1/12- The Trinity

Q. 6 In how many persons does this one God exist?
A. Three persons exist in the one God: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.  These three are one God, the same in substance, and equal in power and glory.

Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit (Matthew 28:19)

May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all. (2 Corinthians 13:14)

16 As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. 17 And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.” (Matthew 3:16,17)

(Baptism of Christ- Francesco Alba 17th century)

Thoughts: The word "trinity" is not found in scripture but the experience of the trinity is found throughout the Bible. Scripture speaks of the Father being God the Creator, Redeemer and Sustainer.  Most of us assume this.  The Spirit is the Spirit of God and is also divine.  Annanias was told that he had lied to the Holy Spirit and lied to God (Acts 5:3,4).  Many of the attributes of God are given to the Spirit Jesus is also called God (John 1:1,14; 20:28).  In the passages above, the three persons of the godhead (the essence of God) are brought together-- yet are seen as one and at the same time distinct.  Most Christian believers have experienced the Father as God, the Son as God and the Spirit as God, yet we also know God is One.  The three passages above indicate the three separate persons in one being. The trinity is not some philosophical shananigan, but was born on scripture and also our experience.  

Prayer: Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Ghost!  As the essence of God was in the beginning, it is now and will be forever; world without end, amen. 

Q. 6. How many persons are there in the one God?
A. Three persons are in the one God, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. These three are one
God, the same in substance and equal in power and glory.

Q. 6- How many persons are there in the Godhead?
A: There are three persons in the Godhead: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, and these three are one God, the same in substance, equal in power and glory.

Monday, January 30, 2012

1/31/12- Worship God alone

Q. How many God's are there?
A. There is only one, the living and true God. 

 6 “This is what the LORD says— Israel’s King and Redeemer, the LORD Almighty: 
I am the first and I am the last; apart from me there is no God. (Isaiah 44:6)

so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the LORD is God and that there is no other. (1 Kings 8:60)

4 So then, about eating food sacrificed to idols: We know that “An idol is nothing at all in the world” and that “There is no God but one.” 5 For even if there are so-called gods, whether in heaven or on earth (as indeed there are many “gods” and many “lords”), 6 yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom all things came and for whom we live; and there is but one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things came and through whom we live. (1 Corinthians 8:4-6)

19 Do I mean then that food sacrificed to an idol is anything, or that an idol is anything? 20 No, but the sacrifices of pagans are offered to demons, not to God, and I do not want you to be participants with demons. (1 Cor. 10:19-20)

(Solomon's Idolatry- Ricci Sebastiano)

Thoughts: There are two trains of thought about idols in scripture.  One is that idols are nothing at all but pieces of wood (1 Cor. 8:4).  The other is that idols and other gods are demonic, and there are indeed spiritual powers or beings behind the idol but not for good.   Once when I was in Cuba I spoke to a vudu priest (they called it African religion there).  He told me that they believe in a high and holy God, but that there are other gods not quite as powerful that pave the way between us and Him.  Christians recognize angels, demons, and other powerful spiritual beings but do not worship them.  Calvin spoke of anything that claims first love in our heart (money, work, sports, even family members) can become an idol for us.  We should remember that the Lord alone is worthy of our worship.  

Prayer: May I give my heart and soul to you alone, O Lord.  

Sunday, January 29, 2012

1/20/12- Monotheism

Q. How many God's are there?
A. There is only one, the living and true God.

Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. (Deuteronomy 6:4)

But the LORD is the true God; he is the living God, the eternal King. When he is angry, the earth trembles; the nations cannot endure his wrath. (Jeremiah 10:10)

There is only one God.  Romans 3:30

For there is one God.  1 Timothy 2:5

(Idols in a store)

Thoughts: Many in our day of post-modernism say it doesn't matter what you believe.  Such a thought is very close to polytheism- or henotheism (the worship of one God while acknowledging there may be more).  But the Bible mentions that God is one in Himself.  Such internal unity and jealousness of other gods (1st and 2nd of the Ten Commandments), tells us that God, is single in focus, love, purpose and will.
    The unity of God is not disturbed by His own majestic internal plurality.  God is multi-faceted- but one in essence and substance (homoousios).  The idea of trinity recognizes three persons in one essence (as H2O is ice, water, steam; as sun, heat, and energy are all separate but are all one; as father, husband, worker maybe all one person with different roles).
    The unity of God is also not disturbed by the making of creation.  Some cannot separate creation from God, recognizing that God's imprint is on what God has made.  But scriptures separate creation as truly as a father is separate from a son (perhaps this is one reason why scripture's adjectives for God are male rather than female).   God is not everything, though everything bears his signature as its author.  A book is not the author, though surely it is dear to the author, and traits of the author are evident in it.
     The unity of God is not disturbed by the diversity in life- for God is separate from creation and the diversity in life may still be under a single purpose.  Someone may think that rain is a blessing but fire a curse.  But the fire (like the ones in Yellowstone 12 years ago) may make things grow better and faster. The same rain that causes the crops to grow may cause a flood.  The evil and harm we see in life is not out of control of God (as some may suppose), but are limited by Him and in fact point people to a need for help and a Redeemer. It was a man made Zoroastrianism that had an evil god making evil things and a good god making good things- while no one knew who was really stronger.  There is only one true God who is truly powerful and purposeful. In that sense we do not pray to Him with an eye that maybe He cannot help us, or that there maybe another god to pray to that we do not acknowledge.  We do not need to guess at such things. God has spoken and told us of His oneness and singularity.  

Prayer: May my focus be singularly on you, O Lord.  Give me grace to worship you solely and fully.  

[Modern translation- Douglas Kelly]

Q. 5. Is there more than one God?
A. There is only one, the living and true God

[1647 WSC]
Q. 5- Are there more God's than one?
A. There is but one only, the living and true God.

1/29/12- Knowing God

WSC- Define God.
A: God is a Spirit, whose being, wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness and truth are all infinite, eternal, and unchangeable.    

23 This is what the LORD says: “Let not the wise boast of their wisdom or the strong boast of their strength or the rich boast of their riches, 24 but let the one who boasts boast about this: that they have the understanding to know me, 
that I am the LORD, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth,
   for in these I delight,” declares the LORD. (Jeremiah 9:23-24) 

10 I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death. (Philippians 3:10)

(Jesus Christ- Warner Salman 1941)

Thoughts: If we know about God but do not know Him personally then our knowledge, though wide, is shallow.  If you know all about Christianity but do not know Jesus Christ personally, that knowledge puffs up rather than builds up.  I can know all about someone on Facebook- but if I have never met them then my knowledge is limited, and in fact could be wrong (just think of the Craigslist murders- Philip Markoff (4/2009) and Richard Beasley (2011) who presented one image on Craigslist but another in real life. You can know this shorter catechism answer. But it's purpose is that knowing about God- you will want to know Him. Billions have testified that the God of the Bible is worth knowing.  They speak of the power of God to help them in time of need.  They speak of the love and goodness of God that strengthens them when they are weak.  They speak of the truth and holiness of God that gives them meaning and a basis for living their lives with confidence and hope.  Do not just seek to get information about God, seek God's presence, God's worship, God's strength in your life.  If you seek Him, you will find Him when you search for Him with all your heart. (Jeremiah 29:13). 

Prayer: You are my rock, my strength my stone.  May I find my peace, my joy, my hope and strength in you, O Lord. 

Friday, January 27, 2012

1/28/12- God is truth

WSC- Define God.
A: God is a Spirit, whose being, wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness and truth are all infinite, eternal, and unchangeable.   

And the Lord passed before him and proclaimed, “The Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abounding in goodness and truth (Ex. 34:6)

For His merciful kindness is great toward us, And the truth of the Lord endures forever.(Psalm 117:2)

(A star trail with Polaris- the north star in the center- pointing to true north). 

Thoughts: Reality is truth and truth is reality.  God abounds in truth because He makes reality.  Some religions believe that there is no reality that life is all one big cosmic dream (maya- Matrix style).  God speaks the truth- and does not lie.  He does not hide reality, and we cannot hide our sins and faults from Him.  We cannot masquerade before God.  He see what is true, speaks what is true and lives truth.  Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life" (Jn. 14:6).  Pilate asked "what is truth" not knowing that Truth stood before him and he would condemn Truth to die.  But truth did not die with Christ.  The truth of God rises.  It is an illusion to think we make ourselves or that we can ignore the Maker and sustainer of reality.  

Prayer: Your truth gives me hope that putting faith in you will be best for me and true to reality.  

1/27/12- The Goodness of God

WSC- Define God.
A: God is a Spirit, whose being, wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness and truth are all infinite, eternal, and unchangeable.  

give thanks to him and praise his name. 5 For the LORD is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations. (Psalm 100:5)

Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance? (Romans 2:4)

(Jesus and the children- Carl Bloch)

Thoughts: How do we know God is good?  The Zoroastrians thought that there are two gods- basically equal- one good and one evil.  Devil worshipers think the devil has the upper hand. There are many whose life is hard- in their eyes and so they think God is mean. Ironically, some of those with the most worldly blessings think God has not given them enough health, money, beauty, strength, time.  Some of the poorest people in the world are grateful to God for what they have.  The phrase, "God is good...all the time; all the time...God is good" came from people in poverty and slavery.  Perhaps they saw the contrast that human beings are not good (theologians call it "total depravity" meaning that wrongness affects every part of us).  Many who think human beings are good have ironically a hard time thinking that God is good.  In a political year in which the flaws of every candidate are drug out into the open air, one should be able to say minimally that "no one is perfect."   Many of us just float through life not thinking about good or evil until we experience suffering or pain, and then it is hard to judge or think clearly about such things. Some of the new atheists (Dawkins, Hitchins) use the old argument that if suffering exists then God must not.  Randy Alcorn writing in the new book, "If God is Good" says, “This is one of the great paradoxes of suffering. Those who don’t suffer much think suffering should keep people from God, while many who suffer a great deal turn to God, not from him.”
    But even more important than all of the above is the definition of "good".  Good should not be defined simply from a personal, self-centered perspective of comfort.  Ironically, today in this generation when we ask someone if they're okay or comfortable they say "I'm good" (only slightly different from the old southernese- "I'm fine"- even though my hand is chopped off).  Is good a social value- that is whatever the majority thinks is right?  If so, those in Nazi Germany who had the majority opinion that the Jews were valueless were good.  Majority and might do not make right (or good).  The question remains for those who do not believe in God- and think that we are all one materialistic, cosmic accident- why bother?  If all we are is a bunch of random atoms/molecules, then what difference does it make if we love or hate?  Should we go back to Nietzschean/Darwinian ethics that the survival of the fittest is good (Hitler saw the Arians as the fittest and should thus dominate based on Nietzsche).  Good is best defined by a constantly good and faithful God.  The life of Jesus is a visible example for Christians of good.  He embodied goodness and love.  Without God, I would say, there is no final, ultimate reason to even define good- much less do it.  But the goodness of God elicits us to be good, and calls us away from selfishness and simple-animal-like survival.  Christ in his coming, his living and his sacrifice embody selflessness, humility (even of God Almighty), love and human kindness.  Ironically, he embodied goodness without the values of our day of sex, military/athletic power, and popularity. God has not only told us what goodness is, He has shown us in Jesus Christ- which gives us faith, hope, and love.  

Prayer: Help me, O Lord, in evil times to believe in your goodness.  Help me to fix my eyes on Jesus and His goodness, and follow in His steps. 

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

1/26/12- The Justice of God

WSC- Define God.
A: God is a Spirit, whose being, wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness and truth are all infinite, eternal, and unchangeable.  

4 He is the Rock, his works are perfect, and all his ways are just. A faithful God who does no wrong, upright and just is he. (Deuteronomy 32:4)

8 He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. (Micah 6;8)

(Modern day American courtroom)

Thoughts: God is just and wants us to be just as well. God does not create us to exploit us, but longs for us to recognize His love and care- and love Him and neighbor in return.  Too often we judge God as if we had a righteous leg to stand on.  We the clay, try to judge the potter.  Our concepts of fairness often rest on trying to absolutize length of life, temporary human values (beauty, intelligence, athleticism), or just not condemning others (because none of us are perfect in thought word or deed).  God's fairness is a more eternal concept that is measured against His own character as Creator.
     International Justice Mission
http://www.ijm.org/) that there is more human trafficking today than in the trans-Atlantic slave trade days.  People are owned by others who exploit their bodies for sexual lust and in the process spread VD and AIDS.  $32 billion is generated each year and 2 million children a year are enslaved for pedophilia.  Injustice should be fought on such levels. 
      But injustice also occurs when the poor are exploited by the power of the rich, or the rich are exploited because of the numbers of the poor.  Injustice occurs when someone is judged by how much or how little money they have; or whether they are a certain race; or whether they are of a certain gender.  All people are invited to be treated with fairness by the God of fairness.  In the end, God is the great judge who holds all accountable for how we treat each other. 

Prayer: Let me, O Lord, trust in your justice.  Let me long for your justice to break out on the nations.  Let me also work, give, and pray for your justice to be done on earth as it is in heaven. 

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

1/25/12- God is holy

WSC- Define God.
A: God is a Spirit, whose being, wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness and truth are all infinite, eternal, and unchangeable.  

“Speak to the entire assembly of Israel and say to them: ‘Be holy because I, the LORD your God, am holy." (Leviticus 19:2)

I saw the Lord, high and exalted, seated on a throne; and the train of his robe filled the temple. 2 Above him were seraphim, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. 3 And they were calling to one another:“Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory.” (Isaiah 6:1-3)

 “‘Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty,’ who was, and is, and is to come.” (Revelation 4:8)

(White dot on a black board and
black dot on a white board- contrast)

Thoughts: God is holy.  Holy means different- other- separate.  In contrast to the pull of popularity to be just like everyone else- to be "normal"- to be of the lowest common denominator; we are called to be like God- which is different from living animal-like.  If everything is holy- then nothing is holy, for holiness means different.  We are called to not tolerate in the name of peace, but to stand up for righteousness in the name of God.  We are, of course to be loving.  But loving is always balanced with a desire for truth and holiness.  Love without holiness allows for a kind of evil which destroys love.  The people of Israel were called to specifically not be like all the other nations around them.  Christians are also called not to be conformed to this world but to transform it into a more holy, fair, and loving place. 

Prayer: Lord, you are holy and worthy of praise, admiration and respect.  Help me to keep an eye toward your standard of righteousness and follow in the way of holiness. 

Monday, January 23, 2012

1/24/12- The Power of God

WSC- Define God.
A: God is a Spirit, whose being, wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness and truth are all infinite, eternal, and unchangeable. 

1 When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the LORD appeared to him and said, “I am God Almighty; walk before me faithfully and be blameless. (Genesis 17:1)

 11 One thing God has spoken, two things I have heard: “Power belongs to you, God, 12 and with you, Lord, is unfailing love”; and, “You reward everyone    according to what they have done.” (Psalm 62:11,12)

(Mount Gibraltar- the Rock- Some translate "El Shaddai" as literally "God of the mountain")

Thoughts: God is often called "God Almighty" (El Shaddai).  It is not that God can do all things, but that God can do all things that are possible (or that might can be done).  God cannot, for example, do the illogical (make a rock so big He cannot lift it).  Yet God is able to move mountains and seas- the largest things we can imagine on earth.  "El Shaddai" can literally be translated "God of the mountain."  There was a time when Israel's enemies thought that the God of Israel was only God of the mountains- probably because of this name- and not God of the plains.  But God showed them otherwise (1 Kings 20- esp. vs. 23). 
    In practical terms, it means that God is strong and powerful for us.  He can help us, and His arm is not too short to save.  The Almighty One can deliver when no one else can.  When we think we "haven't got a prayer" that is when we have one with the Almighty God who not only can, but He loves to help us. 

Prayer: Lord, you are Almighty.  No mountain is stronger than you.  No planet, star, or ocean is able to hold your power and will back.  Help me to trust in your ability to help.  

Sunday, January 22, 2012

1/12/12- The Only Wise God

WSC- Define God.
A: God is a Spirit, whose being, wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness and truth are all infinite, eternal, and unchangeable. 

Great is our Lord and mighty in power; his understanding has no limit. (Psalm 147:5)

to the only wise God be glory forever through Jesus Christ! Amen. (Romans 16:27)

Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, be honour and glory for ever and ever. Amen. (1 Tim. 1:17)

To the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen.(Jude 1:25)

Thoughts: What does the phrase "only wise God" mean?  It means that God's wisdom is incomparable to the wisdom of any other being.  His wisdom is infinite, eternal and unchangeable.  Our wisdom is finite, temporal (and limited by time), and wisdom often encourages us to change our minds.  Since God sees the future and the past perfectly, He does not have any factors that would make changing His mind necessary.  He not only sees all- but is able to understand and make sense of things.  Wisdom is defined as crystallized intelligence- an ability to take different facts and get them to make sense.  God's creation makes perfect sense to Him.  He is like a conductor bringing the notes together to make a symphony.
     Because God is so wise, we can trust in His wisdom.  He is wiser than us, so we should humble ourselves before Him.  He is wiser than us, so when we cannot see a way out, or a way through- then we can still trust Him.  

Prayer: Give me grace, O Lord to trust that you see and understand what I cannot begin to see or understand.  Even the darkness is not dark to you.  

Saturday, January 21, 2012

1/22/12- The Being of God

WSC- Define God.
A: God is a Spirit, whose being, wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness and truth are all infinite, eternal, and unchangeable.  

 13 Moses said to God, “Suppose I go to the Israelites and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ Then what shall I tell them?”
 14 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.’”
 15 God also said to Moses, “Say to the Israelites, ‘The LORD, the God of your fathers—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob—has sent me to you.’ “This is my name forever, the name you shall call me from generation to generation." (Exodus 3:13-15)

" Very truly I say to you, before Abraham was, I am."  (John 8:58)

(Source spring for mighty Mississippi River that divides the United States)

Thoughts: God is.  Paul Tillich defined God as "The ground of all being."  If anything exists, God exists.  God defines Himself with the verb "to be."  "I am who I am"- is the idea that God was and is and is to come.  Jesus identified Himself with God when He said, "Before Abraham was, I am."  The Jews recognized this and sought to stone Him after this statement.  Without the existence of God, we would not be here.  The other day I went to a grandparent's birthday party.  A little girl looked up and said, "Grandma, without you, I wouldn't be here."  In a being sense, God is the One who is the Father of us all.  We can be grateful to God for His existence, the One who is always present, always existing. For without Him we would not have life.  Any joy we have in life we owe to God, for without Him that joy would not be there. He is the spring from which all rivers flow-the source of all. 

Prayer: Thank you for life, Lord.  Thank you for your own life from which mine comes.  

Friday, January 20, 2012

1/21/12- God as the Unchangeable One

WSC- Define God.
A: God is a Spirit, whose being, wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness and truth are all infinite, eternal, and unchangeable. 

19 God is not human, that he should lie, not a human being, that he should change his mind. 
Does he speak and then not act? Does he promise and not fulfill? (Numbers 23:19)

(Ptolemaic system with the earth at the center- the sun is in the fourth ring)

Thoughts: There is a movement today to say that God changes with time- adjusting to His creation (Process Theology- popularized by Rabbi Kushner).  The reason they try to do this is to say that God's creation is almost more powerful or important than God Himself- which is a self-centered theology.  It is kind of like the idea that the sun revolves around the earth because we feel we are more important and it should.  It might be pleasing or popular to have us as the center of the universe with God adapting to us, the more common way to think about it is that the least powerful and more temporary adjusts to the most powerful and more eternal.  There is a story of a storm and a powerful Navy ship signaling the light ahead to change its course because it is a large navy vessel.  The reply came back that lighthouses don't change courses.  The truth is that God is our faithful, reliable, rock.  He is the steadfast source of strength to whom we can go.  He is not wishy washy in His promises (like the promise of eternal life), or His ideas of love and holiness. 

Prayer: Lord, may I be ever listening, ever adjusting to you.  Help me to rely and trust on you and your faithfulness. 

1/20/12- God is eternal

WSC- Define God.
A: God is a Spirit, whose being, wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness and truth are all infinite, eternal, and unchangeable. 

11 But the plans of the LORD stand firm forever, 
   the purposes of his heart through all generations (Psalm 33:11)

Grace and peace to you from him who is, and who was, and who is to come, and from the seven spirits before his throne, 5 and from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth.
   To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood, 6 and has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father—to him be glory and power for ever and ever! Amen.

(Sun rising over the sea of Galilee)

Thoughts: What is the difference between the infinity of God and the eternity of God.  A simple answer may be one emphasizes space and the other time.  God who created life and time- sits outside of time.  Time, in our culture, is measured by the sun.  But God, who created the sun,is before, between, and beyond the sun and time.  So, God's promises are sure.  Augustine spoke of time being eternally present to God.  Einstein wisely said that if we went to the nearest star and got a telescope big enough to see the light coming to that star from light years away- we could see the past.  God sees that, but also sees the future and the present.  He sees it, but He is beyond it- He is, in Himself eternal.  So the promises of God are sure and eternal- His care for us is also eternal.  Jesus, the loving one, identified himself with the eternity of God when he said, "Before Abraham was, I am." 

Prayer: May I trust in your eternity more than I trust in the sun's rising. 

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

1/20/12- God is Infinite

WSC- Define God.
A: God is a Spirit, whose being, wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness and truth are all infinite, eternal, and unchangeable.

 “But will God really dwell on earth? The heavens, even the highest heaven, cannot contain you. How much less this temple I have built! (1 Kings 8:27)

24 Who can hide in secret places so that I cannot see them?” declares the LORD. “Do not I fill heaven and earth?” declares the LORD. (Jeremiah 23:24)

Thoughts: God is infinite in his being, wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness and truth. Too often we limit God.  We think that God does not know or care. Or if He does care, we are not sure He can or will do anything about it.  Moralistic Therapeutic Deism rules the day (according to Smith and Denton's survey of American teens).  Here is a summary of that thought: "God is nice, and wants us to be nice and think better about ourselves, but God does not interfere in our lives- unless we are desperate."  Yet scripture indicates that God sees us even when we are in "the secret place."  Jesus even said to pray in your closet- for there God hears us (Mt. 6:6).  As air fills all things, so God fills all things.  

Prayer: May you, O God, fill heaven and earth with your love and your care for us. May I never forget your goodness, truth, holiness and power are in all places.  

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

1/18/12- Defining God

WSC- Define God.
A: God is a Spirit, whose being, wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness and truth are all infinite, eternal, and unchangeable.

24 God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.” (John 4:24)

(Michelangelo's picture of God in creation)

Thoughts: Is it possible to define God?  In the post-modern world, many would say that is a hopeless cause.  It would be hopeless except that God has given us a Word in order that we would know what He is like.  The children's shorter catechism has the answer- "God is spirit and hath not a body like men."  The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints says that God has a body and we are made in His image.  The commandment to not make an image/idol of God is based on the idea that God is spirit.  As great as Michelangelo's Cistine Chapel picture is, it is misleading and limits God.  God's power and presence is not limited by a body.  God's omniscience is not limited by the space of a brain.

Prayer: Give me grace, Lord, to not limit you in my thinking, in my praying, in my trusting.

Q. 4. What is God?
A. God is a spirit, Whose being, wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness, and truth are infinite,
eternal, and unchangeable.

Monday, January 16, 2012

1/17/12- Deliverance

Heidelberg Q. 2- How many things are necessary for thee to know, that thou, enjoying this comfort, mayest live and die happily?
Answer: Three; the first, how great my sins and miseries are;  the second, how I may be delivered from all my sins and miseries; the third, how I shall express my gratitude to God for such deliverance.

Thoughts: On this Martin Luther King Jr. Day, I am straying away from the Westminster Shorter Catechism for a moment to think about freedom and deliverance.  The Heidelberg Catechism has some excellent statements about these.  It is a bit ironic- but it is true- that in order to find comfort in life, we must know where our misery lies.  Our slavery lies in our sin.  Slavery is a sin, but sin also can become slavery.  Sin is a slavery that can effect rich, poor, black, white, male, female, people of all nations and language groups.  Drug and alcohol addicts know this clearly, but all sin can become- not just bad habits- but addictions that lead to self destruction.  Something must happen in order for us to really say, "Free at last, free at last; thank God almighty I'm free at last."  Real freedom comes when we are free physically, mentally, socially, but ultimately and eternally-- spiritually.  Jesus Christ offers us deliverance by his payment for sin on the cross.  For that we should express gratitude.

Prayer: Thank you, Lord, for showing us our misery and showing us how to escape it.  Set me free from my sin and free me to have your joy as my strength.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

1/12/12- What we are to believe about God.

WSC: What is the main teaching of the scriptures?
A: The main teaching of the scriptures is we are to believe about God and what God requires us to do.

31 But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.(John 20:31)

(God the Creator- Michelangelo)

Thoughts: The scriptures teach us.  They are not just there for entertainment, or interest.  They are a map, a guidebook, directions for life.  
Some scriptures claim to be dictated from God (like the Ten Commandments).  But in general the scriptures claim to be inspired of God to let us know God's will.  But God shows us His will not just for our interest, but to teach us what to believe and what to do.
A few days ago Cee Lo sang, "Imagine" by John Lennon- but instead of saying, "Imagine no religion" sang "and all religions true."  There are those who say it doesn't matter what you believe. There are also those who say that all that matters is that you are sincere.  In some ways, that is the post-modern mantra of our era.  What matters most is that we respect each other, not that the beliefs are important.  In some ways this elevates respect for others over respect for God.   If we have as our highest standard respect for others, then the feelings of others rule our day and become our God.  

    There are some religions (like certain forms of Buddhism) that say the existence of God doesn't matter.  While others say the existence of God is the main part of religion.  There are Some that separate God from creation (like theism) and others that say God is creation (pantheism or certain forms of panentheism).  In some God is capricious, selfish, and perhaps evil (like Greek or Roman paganism) while in others God is good.  In some God is distant and cannot possibly love (like certain forms of Islam).  In others God is love (like Christianity).  What you believe about God effects what you do.  If you believe God exists in heaven- you may work for a treasure there.  But if you believe God exists only here- then your focus will be on the here and now.  Thus the pagans can be evil or selfish as their gods are.  Christians, however, are called to moral and sacrificially kind.  

Prayer: Help me, Lord, to see and understand what you tell us about yourself. 

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

1/11/12- What the Scriptures Say

WSC: What is the main teaching of the scriptures?
A: The main teaching of the scriptures is we are to believe about God and what God requires us to do.

Thoughts: The scriptures tell us what to believe and what to do.  Belief without action is dry.  Action without belief is hollow.  But action that is the result of belief is a beautiful thing.  In our day, we believe that the scriptures only inform us of what we are to believe and do, instead of being the source for our lives as teh Word of God.

Prayer: Help me to believe in your goodness O Lord.

WSC 1647- #3What do the scriptures principally teach. ?  A: The scriptures principally teach what man is to believe concerning God, and what duty God requires of man.

Monday, January 9, 2012

1/10/12- Giving God the Glory

What is the main goal of human life?
The main goal of human life is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.

"Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit.  Rather consider others better than yourselves." (Phil. 2:3,4)

"For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ; for it is the power of God for those who believe- first for the Jew but also for the Gentile."  (Romans 1:16) 

Thoughts: There are a lot of Tebow haters out there.  But this is a symptom.  There are a lot of people who do not want Christians to be bold about their faith for it makes them uncomfortable.  Yet Tebow is doing what he has been taught by others and by scriptures- not seeking credit for himself but glorifying God.
    Just because you are a Christian, however, and seeking to glorify God, doesn't mean you'll win every football game.  There are lots of people who seek to honor God but cannot play at Tebow's level.  But glorifying God doesn't hurt your game.  It may give you focus, purpose, strength, courage, and confidence (even when others lose theirs in you- as many lost theirs  against Tebow last week). 

Prayer: Help me to not be ashamed of the gospel, but seek to honor you.  


Sunday, January 8, 2012

1/9/12- Who ought to baptized?

Q. Who ought to be baptized?
A: Those who are not members of the visible church ought not to be baptized, until they state they believe and will follow Him in obedience; But the infant children of church members ought to be baptized.

Thoughts: Baptism is too often seen as an insurance policy.  In a sense it is too easy to just get up and say you believe and say you will obey Christ.  In a world that doesn't value loyalty and commitments- talk is cheap. Some degrade baptism as simply a nominal way to be Christian, and nominalism is a sin.  The Bible does speak of those who honor God with their lips but their hearts are far from Him.  God calls us all to honor Him with our hearts- but we can't honor Him with our hearts without honoring Him with our lips. Baptism is a seal to our profession.
The children of believers are included because
1) The Lord included children in his welcome- "The promise is for you and your children and all those whom the Lord will call- to all who are far off."
2) Baptism is the New Testament equivalent of the Old Testament family initiation of circumcision (Col. 2:11).
3) There are seven New Testament instances of household baptism- notably the two Philippians- the jailer and Lydia whose households were baptized upon their conversion.

(1637 Westminster Shorter Catechism)
Q. 95- To Whom is Baptism to be administered?
A: Baptism is not to be administered to any that are out of the visible Church, till they profess their faith in Christ and obedience to him; but the infants of such as are members of the visible Church are to be baptized.

(1984 Modern Translation)

Q. 95. Who should be baptized?
A. Those who are not members of churches should not be baptized until they have publicly stated
that they believe in Christ and will obey Him, but the infant children of church members should be

Saturday, January 7, 2012

1/8/12- What is Baptism

Q. 94- What is Baptism?
A: Baptism is a sacrament.  Baptism is a washing with water in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, signifying and sealing us into Christ.  In it, we receive the benefits of the covenant of grace, and our relationship to be a child of the Lord.

"The promise is for you and for your children, and for all who are far off even as many as the Lord our God will call."  (Acts 2:39)

There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism."  (Ephesians 4:5)

Thoughts: there is a washing, the making of a sign, and the giving of a seal in baptism.  The washing with water symbolizes the cleansing away of our sins by the blood of Christ's sacrifice on the cross.  There are those who do not believe they need cleansing- just as surely as there are those who cannot see their dirt or smell their odor because they have become desensitized to it.
Baptism is full of promise and promises.  There are promises in faith by the participants (or made on their behalf by their guardian).  Promises to believe, to follow for adult believers; or to live a godly example, pray for and teach the faith to their child.  Baptism is a sign that God the Holy Spirit is at work in our lives- that we are not alone-but are claimed and are a part of the family of God.  But the washing with physical water is a symbol that we will be cleansed of our sins in the end.
Baptism is individually done, and we are individually named and called a "child of the covenant."  In baptism we recognize we are brought into relationship with the living God.  There is a sense that once we have had the water on us, it cannot ever be taken off.  It is in this sense that we are sealed.  In this sense baptism is like a brand or a tattoo that is always on us- similar to the number on the forehead described in Revelation (14:1). It is a joining, an "ingrafting" similar to a branch grafted into a tree- with the promise of growth and the hope of nourishment. When we are made part of the one living organism of Christ we are not only "one" with Him, but we are "one" with each other.  It is a major experience in life that is shared only by those who have undertaken it.  There is always a tie to Christ for those who have been baptized.

Prayer: Lord you were baptized giving me an example of its importance.  Help me not to take it for granted.

WSC Q. 94- What is Baptism?
A: Baptism is a sacrament, wherein the washing with water, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, doth signify and seal our ingrafting into Christ, and partaking of the benefits of the covenant of grace, and our engagement to be the Lord's.

Q. 94. What is baptism?
A. The sacrament of baptism is a washing with water in the name of the father, the Son, and the Holy
Spirit, which is a sign and seal that we are joined to Christ, that we receive the benefits of the
covenant of grace, and that we are engaged to be the Lord’s.