God


“Hey! Where’ve you been? You missed a week!” Yes, I hear you, but we have been in the throes of a move which has included delays with Internet hook-up and tireless running around trying to get this little thing and that done. So, I took a week off from my ramblings to take care of some life moments.

In the meantime, life has gone on. Rather than bore you with those details, I think today it is appropriate to rehearse a little of what all the details has been teaching me. And here we go:

Regardless of whether you are a George Lopez fan or not (and don’t shut me off because I mentioned a comedian in the opening lines), one of his comedic characters often indicated to those around him that he was able to handle a situation or cope with its outcome. His favorite line was, “I got this!” And this is often the report that many of us face life with—“I got this!”

Interestingly enough, most of the time we are like the comedian’s character. We “don’t got this” all the while insisting that we do. Let me refer back to moving—if you have ever moved (across town or across country) you will understand that there are many details that you would like to do for yourself, but need some help doing—getting the power turned on, the water running, the right stores located, and not to mention getting the truck unloaded.

Life is often like this—we need some help to get the details done. This is where God comes in. In all those moments where we claim to be in charge (but know full well inside that we aren’t) God’s got this—He loves it when His children ask for His help. Next time life throws you one of those difficult situations—even if it’s just a detail—let God get this one. He can. He wants to. He will. God’s got this!

Haven’t I commanded you: be strong and courageous? Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.” —Joshua 1:9

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Perhaps you have seen the poster. It is the one with lots of words on it, and in the center in big, bold letters of proclamation are the two simple words “I AM.” Some of the producers of such posters call the artwork “The Names of God” because that is what all the words surrounding the “I Am” contain. Names like Jehovah, Father, Yahweh, and so on which are names that are used in Scripture to refer to God.

But one of the best names we have available to us for God is that two-word designation. Theologians have referred to it as the personal name that God used to introduce Himself to Moses: I AM. It is a reminder to us that God always is in His present-tense form. Regardless of whether we are talking about the Father, the Son, or the Holy Spirit, God is “I AM.”

He is present in the past before (and when) the world was created. He is present in the everyday goings on of this life that we now live in the 21st Century. And He forever is present reaching all the way into the future beyond the edges of time. This is a great comfort, that whatever befalls me, my God is “I AM.”

“‘I am the Alpha and the Omega,’ says the Lord God, ‘the one who is, who was, and who is to come, the Almighty.’”   —Revelation 1:8

 

Long ago, I heard some unnamed evangelist say, “I asked Jesus how much He loved me, and He stretched out His arms and died.” In the midst of that sentiment we learn a lot about how God cares for us. He cares for our eternity, and He cares for our here and now.

Because He cares so much He made provision for our future when we couldn’t afford the price. Yes, God is that loving Heavenly Father. So, I thought that it might be appropriate for us to talk about how much He cares for our earthly existence as well.

He knows when our world is turned so upside down that we can’t find “up” any more. James Taylor used to sing, “When this old world starts getting me down/And people are just too much for me to face/I climb way up to the top of the stairs . . . On the roof it’s peaceful as can be . . .” (“Up On the Roof” by Gerry Goffin and Carole King) And the song only gets it partly right. Whenever we find ourselves overwhelmed by the world, it is good to look up, but not just to see the stars up in the sky, but to address the God who dwells in heaven.

Since He knows all of the goings on, He can tell when we are struggling. He wants to help us find the right solution to our times of despair and despondency. Our first line of defense is prayer—communication with the God who cares for us. As we entrust our cares into His care, He leads us into the place where we can find relief.

“For God loved the world in this way: He gave His One and Only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.”   —John 3:16

Several years ago, I was reading through the Sunday comics and came across a Ziggy strip. The artist, for this particular Sunday, had combined all six panels into one in which he had painted a most beautiful and realistic looking sunrise picture. The magnificence was breath-taking and made one think of the splendor of watching the real thing happen on a crisp spring morning. Tucked away into the corner of the panel stood Ziggy with his little dog beside him and the simple caption, “Go God!”

That is the manner of God. When He shows Himself it is a spectacular event—something that cannot be duplicated in the lab or on the computer screen. Even with the master artist’s brush, we find it hard to capture the everything, the anything, of all that God is able to do. And what He can do, will do, and has done all does one thing: prove that He is God!

Bible accounts are filled with God events that prove He is God and there is no other: He said, “Light!” and there where only void and darkness had been, light! In a race for life and death, God opened the sea so a multitude of Hebrew slaves could escape an angry Pharaoh. In the heat of battle, when the another generation of Israelites needed just a few more hours to win the day, God made the sun stand still. And when a king needed proof that God was greater than even he (the mighty king) was, God kept the fire at bay, allowing three young men to escape the fiery furnace without even the smell of smoke on them.

God wants everyone to know that He is God. And if we will pay attention, He will flood the mountains with His presence.

As Moses looked, he saw that the bush was on fire but was not consumed. 3So Moses thought, “I must go over and look at this remarkable sight. Why isn’t the bush burning up?”   —Genesis 3:2-3

As He so often does, God showed up again a few months ago as we were in the process of finalizing our second adoption. We had received instructions from our adoption agency and had made travel arrangements according to the timetable they had sent us. We arrived in country as planned and then, on a daily basis, learned that the timetable we had been given was more or less wishful thinking. With each passing day, appointments we had on our schedule were delayed, and we began to think that our travel arrangements as well as the funds we had arranged would need to be changed and stretched to accommodate the delays.

The outcome was a God’s-timing thing, though. While our meetings in city number one of a two-city requirement did not happen as planned, we were able to check out city-one hotel on time without extra charge, and into city-two hotel on the prescribed arrival day. And although my anxiety continued to soar throughout the process, we were even able to head back to the USA (child Number Five in hand) a day early.

The lesson we learn (again and again) in life’s arena is that God has the most impeccable timing of anyone. The biggest struggle that most believers (even preachers) have is to wait on His timetable. When we follow His calling, trust in His leading, and hope in His providing, we are never disappointed, and often overwhelmed.

 “‘For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,’ declares the Lord.”   — Isaiah 55:8

Ah! Vacation Bible School. With the week upon us, can’t you just hear the high-pitched voices of the children roaming through the church hallways, catching up with friends from school and from last year’s VBS? And then there are the teachers and helpers, smiling and enthusiastic, a bit bedraggled by Wednesday or Thursday, but still smiling (a smile that turns into a relieved grin when the last child departs with parents or grandparents on Friday). Yes, it’s VBS week, and we are excited. Excited about the children and families who will be touched by our ministry this week. Excited about all the volunteers who will be helping out with this mammoth endeavor. Excited for the chaos that clutches the church during these few short summer days. But most of all we are excited about the story of Jesus and the Heavenly Father that will be told, retold and absorbed this week.

Personally, I am excited to be looking to the stars for the evidence of God’s existence, His love, and His provision that will be our focus this year with the help of LifeWay’s “Galactic Starveyers” VBS material. If we are in doubt about the existence of a Creator-God who loves us, we can simply look to the skies and see the evidence of His Majesty. If we can’t get our eyes on the stars, we can gaze at the world around us and see His handiwork proclaiming His perfection. And if we don’t find any of the natural world in our scope of vision, we can make a quick examination of ourselves—we are designed to breathe automatically; our blood flows unaided by a thought (unless we have gone out of our way to damage our heart); even our fingertips shout out to us that the One True God had a design because each one of us can claim the uniqueness of personal fingerprints. So, this week let’s look (if we can) to the stars and discover the God of the universe.

God saw all that He had made, and it was very good indeed.”  —Genesis 1:31a

It was supposed to be a game. The two opponents would face each other and grab hands interlocking the fingers. Then they would begin to push on each other trying desperately to bend the fingers of their opponent back to near breaking point, until one or the other would cry out, “Mercy!” The game was called “Mercy” and I do NOT recommend it as a form of pastime or entertainment. I also do not see it as a means to learn about mercy.

What I know of mercy I learned from my father. He walked a life that was courageous, contagious, and filled with the love of God for his fellow man. Perhaps the best example of this attribute was based on an image that I had built up within my own mind. Dad was strict, and he had a way of indicating how things should be—his way. So, when I knew that God was directing my path to study at an institution in another state rather than the college where he wanted, expected, and knew I should attend, I didn’t know how to approach him. When I finally drug up the courage to tell him that I was transferring from his choice to mine, I expected a long, drawn-out argument in which I would have to defend my choice. The lesson in mercy came in Dad’s response, “If it’s what you’ve got to do, Son, it’s what you’ve got to do.”

Our Heavenly Father is much more succinct in showing His mercy. He gives it every day. When we breathe in and out, His mercy lets us live. When we say “yes” to faith and obedience to His Son, His mercy grants us everlasting life. In this He gives us what we do not deserve, what we have not earned: an on-going relationship with Him. What unwarranted gift have we given someone today?

“I will show mercy to whom I will show mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.”  —God to Moses as recorded in Romans 9:15

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