1 Timothy 2:4 – The Attributes of God “Even More”

1 Timothy 2:4 – The Attributes of God “Even More”

And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. 1John 4:16 NIV

GOD IS LOVE

One of the first lessons we want to instill in our children or convey to anyone we have an opportunity to influence is that God loves them. We might say things such as, “God is love,” or “God loves you no matter what.”

Yes, God is loving. In fact, He is the epitome of love. Being the Originator of the concept of love naturally causes Him to be the most amazing example of it. However, as we get to know Him, we find out more about the attributes of God that combine to make Him who He is. There is even more to Him than love! For example, how often do we attempt to learn more about His forgiveness, holiness, tenderness, humility, jealousy, and mercy? He is a multi-faceted God who possesses traits that are essential to include when trying to describe Him accurately and authentically.

HE IS MORE THAN JUST LOVE

Imagine you were asked to describe the attributes of God, and your portrayal of Him was about to forever become the basis for someone’s understanding of who He is. Would you feel pressure to tell them more than the basics of how deeply He loves us? Not that it is insignificant information, by any means! Clearly, it is crucial to incorporate how incredible His love is into an illustration of God. Without His love, there is no gospel; there is no cross, no resurrection, and no promise of eternal life with Him. But there is even more than love, and sometimes those other supernatural qualities get overlooked. 

There is a forgiveness that removes our sin from us forever and ever. There is a holiness that makes Him so far above us that we should be in eternal awe of Him. There is a tenderness that causes Him to earnestly pursue a relationship with each and every one of us. There is a humility that drove Him to offer His Son as a sacrifice to take the place of a sinful world. There is a holy jealousy that calls us to devote our lives to only Him, and a mercy that is new every morning when we fail to put Him first.

In no way is that an exhaustive list of the attributes of God, but starting that list helps us discover how “even more” He is! Read the last two paragraphs here:    devotableapp.com

Remembrance and Restoration

Remembrance and Restoration

The physical pain, the emotional pain, the “letting people know,” the condolences, the what-ifs, the fake smile I put on to match my fake Christmas spirit, and the feeling of being crushed. If you were to ask me what I remember from a few days before Christmas in 1992, these are the vivid recollections I would list for you. 

I also remember finding a sorrowful sense of irony in losing a baby to miscarriage just days before the celebration of Jesus’ birth.

My mind had the following phrases on repeat: God could have prevented it from happening and God could have performed a miracle once it happened.

The question of “God, where were You?” evolved into, “God, why would You…” and then, “God, how dare You…” (and there’s still a part of me that wonders how I was not zapped or struck by lightning immediately after uttering those words to Him…) 

As I wrote in a post a few years ago, My First Pregnancy, My Faithful God, and My Firm Stand“He knew my husband and I were ecstatic about being parents. How dare He take this baby away? Yep, I said those words to the Creator of the Universe. I looked upward, right up to the sky and screamed, “How dare you!” Looking back on that moment and the bitterness I harbored for quite some time afterward, I sometimes think, “Wow, God, it takes a lot of nerve for an almost 22 year-old woman to challenge Your sovereignty. Thank You from the bottom of my heart for being patient with me and lovingly waiting for me to realize there was no one to blame.” I wasted a lot of time being mad at God when I could’ve spent that time being comforted and held by Him instead.”

I am unable to give an eloquent explanation of why it occurred, and equally unable attempt to inspire others with a “Therefore, this is why terribly sad events sometimes happen…” speech wrapped up in some sort of Christmas-time revelation gift with a bow on top. Oh, how I wish I could say that I remember that I allowed God to fill my emptiness to overflowing with His comfort and love. But instead, I remember resting in rage and resentment and not allowing God to console me with His relief and restoration.

I clearly remember a list of painful moments stemming from a miscarriage during the Christmas season years ago, but in Lamentations 3:21, there is mention of “remembering something that fills me with hope.” What is that something? As verse 22 and 23 say, “The LORD’s kindness never fails! If he had not been merciful, we would have been destroyed. The LORD can always be trusted to show mercy each morning.” That something is an unrivaled kindness and mercy that He lovingly pours out upon us. Years have passed, and although there is a comfort and excitement in knowing I will meet that baby in Heaven, I still wish there had been a different outcome – namely one in which I am a mother to 5 thriving children, instead of 4. I believe we can still be Jesus-loving, God-trusting people even if we sometimes wish a couple of parts of our life stories had been written differently. But dwelling on those thoughts instead of asking God to increase our trust in Him causes us to hang on to hurt instead of having the beautiful experience of being healed by Him. His unmatched kindness and mercy will ultimately overshadow painful memories every time.

I eventually made a choice to focus on remembering God’s kindness and mercy instead of loss, and as a result, gained an incomparable hope of a future filled with promise.

ISAIAH 55:11 – GOD’S WORD WILL NOT RETURN VOID

ISAIAH 55:11 – GOD’S WORD WILL NOT RETURN VOID

so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it. Isaiah 55:11

GOD’S WORD IS A GIFT

I would like for you to imagine telling someone there is a gift waiting for them with their name on it. Imagine telling them this particular gift will renew their perspective, remind them of their priorities, and reveal their purpose. Now, imagine if that person said, “Wow, that gift sounds awesome! How wonderful to have access to that!”…and then they proceed to ignore it? They decide to leave it unopened. Would you be outraged? Shocked? Puzzled, at the very least?

If that gift was offered to you, would you ignore it and allow it to remain wrapped? No way!

But we all do it! We leave one of our most beautiful treasures unopened. Friends, we’ve been given a gift beyond words: a love letter from the Originator of Love. A Holy Book filled with love, lessons, and life. Literally!

Read the rest at Devotableapp.com.

(This is my most recent contribution to Devotableapp.com – I invite you to go to that website and subscribe to the daily emails. You will get an encouraging devotional in your inbox each morning!)                                                                                                                   

 

So Much More

So Much More

During a recent Sunday School class, we were discussing the nature of God and our identity in relation to Him. A remark that the teacher (who happens to be my husband) made, stuck with me. He said, “God isn’t just a better version of the best version of us.” How true that is.  God is so much more.

Are you ever tempted to humanize God in order to make Him easier to understand? I have been guilty of trying to reduce Him to a human level as I tried to comprehend His ways. However, that is a mistake for a few different reasons. 

1. As a society, we have gradually minimized the very essence of God. We continue to lose the wonder of a wonderful God and the awe of an awesome God. He is beyond compare and beyond description. True wisdom begins once we comprehend that His awe will never be comprehended!  Proverbs 9:10a says, “The fear of God is the beginning of wisdom.” Realizing the awe He is worthy of opens our hearts to receive His wisdom, and He gives it eagerly.  James 1:5 says, “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.” 

2. We expect God to think the same way we think. We assume He will solve problems using the same reasoning we do. However, Jeremiah 55:9 says that His thoughts are higher than our thoughts. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”  He sees the past, present, and future of a universe full of people He loves. He is working all things for good for those who love Him, according to Romans 8:28. There are countless moving pieces on this planet, and somehow He keeps perfect track of every single one of them.  All while drawing each of us to Himself. The circumstances of this world are interwoven in a way that only a perfect God could accomplish. Actually, it is a relief that He thinks differently than us. Would you want God to think in the limited, self-centered, inconsistent way that we do?  Neither would I.

3. We run the risk of thinking more highly of ourselves than we should. If we minimize God’s holiness in an attempt to understand Him, we may inadvertently increase our significance to more closely match His. When we start to erase the gap between the amazingness of God and the reality of who we are, a problem arises. Thinking that we are equal to and just as deserving as God is not a minor matter. It is pride. Pride is a sin, and sin has consequences. Remember Satan’s downfall?  

Remembering that God is God and we are not is always valuable. We often attribute human characteristics to God, and we describe His qualities using a human scale. We forget the awe and wonder that is due His name. However, He is more than we realize, more than we give Him credit for, and more than we can ever comprehend. God is so much more.

(This was my September submission to devotableapp.com — check that website out for a daily devotion!)

I Thought I Heard God’s Voice

I Thought I Heard God’s Voice

I heard God’s voice. Loud and clear.

I had been praying unceasingly for a breakthrough in a difficult situation, yet I had such an unsettled feeling about how it was going to turn out – until that day. God replaced my tension with His peace. I heard God voice the reply I had been waiting for: “I’ll come through.”

As time moved on, I continued to tell myself, “There is still time for God to come through; I know I heard Him correctly.” However, time kept moving, and then time ran out. The breakthrough I had fervently prayed for did not come to pass.

Then doubt crept in. Did God really say what I thought He said? Was it my imagination? Was it wishful thinking? Perhaps Jeremiah 33:3, “Call to me and I will answer you, and will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known,” was meant for someone else. Maybe it was meant for EVERYBODY else. Except for me.

Then the questions started. “God, did You forget what You told me? Did You forget about this situation? Did You forget about me?”

I got frustrated that God did not do what I expected Him to do. I considered giving Him the silent treatment, at least temporarily. Then I had guilt about being frustrated with God and also about avoiding Him.  

While I tried to sort through those confused feelings, I came to the realization that I DID hear God’s promise correctly. However, I filled in the blanks as to how He was going to accomplish it. When He did not do it the way I supposed He was going to, I doubted He was going to do it at all. 

I had happily accepted His assurance, but I had assumed His approach.

If we compiled a list of adjectives to describe God, the words predictable and conventional would not make the cut. Our unpredictable God frequently employs unconventional methods. 

When God grants us His unmatched “calm down, I will come through,” peace in relation to a promise He has made, our jobs are to 1. accept the peace, and 2. allow Him to choose how and when He will bring the promise to completion. What a blessing to know He is a promise-keeping God who always comes through.

Prayer: Lord, help me hear Your voice and trust Your ways. Help me feel Your Presence as I wait in confidence and expectation. Amen.

My sheep recognize my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. John 10:27 (TLB)

Acclaim His Name

Acclaim His Name

     fullsizeoutput_ced3Blessed are those who have learned to acclaim you, who walk in the light of your presence, Lord. They rejoice in your name all day long; they celebrate your righteousness. For you are their glory and strength, and by your favor you exalt our horn.  Psalm 89:15-17 NIV

The dictionary tells us in a nutshell what acclaiming means: to announce or proclaim with enthusiastic approval and to applaud. The Bible tells us in a nutshell what acclaiming God looks like and what happens because of it. “Blessed are those who have learned to acclaim you,” is a portion of Psalm 89:15 which points out that acclaiming God brings blessing. The word learned in this verse suggests that acclaiming God does not necessarily come naturally to us – evidently, we must learn how to make it part of our lifestyle.

If someone was asked to attest to our relationship with Jesus, would our words and actions speak for themselves, or would that person be forced to guess how serious we are about our faith? Is our love for and excitement about being a believer evident, or is it more of an implication we hope people catch? Does our life display a passion for Christ and a passion for seeking and fulfilling our God-given purpose, or is it something we hope others sense without having to be too forward? 

Many of us do not hesitate to credit God for loving us beyond measure and for counting us as one of His cherished children. But do we openly acknowledge Him? Do we make an effort to tell others how great He is, and that He is directly responsible for the blessings in our lives? I do not think it is necessary or realistic to begin every single one of our sentences with phrases such as, “Let me tell you why God is so great,” or Thank God that He…”  For most people, that would be a contrived, forced exchange. However, I bet we can agree that allowing His beloved name and our thankfulness for Him to become a natural component in the flow of our everyday discussions would potentially cause many in our circle to see Him in a different, positive light.

Maybe we are worried about being “that annoying Christian,” or “that Jesus freak,” who talks about Him entirely too much. But He created us, died for us, forgives us, desires a relationship with us, and makes it possible for us to spend eternity in Heaven with Him – do we honestly think we come close to talking about Him enough? Friends, do we acclaim Him? Should we not, as Christians, be intentionally seeking opportunities to acclaim the awesomeness of God?

Of course, the goal of acclaiming God is not to “get blessed.” The goal is to please God…and the bonus is that He blesses us. 

I have added the word acclaim to my vocabulary. My aim now is to add it to my lifestyle.

That Wasn’t What I Expected, Lord…

That Wasn’t What I Expected, Lord…

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Lord, I was confused for quite some time about that answer. “Yes,” would have made perfect sense, and I felt prepared to accept the blessing that I requested. And I was prepared to thank You for it.

But You said, “No,” and it came out of nowhere because I thought all signs were pointing to You responding to this prayer the way I hoped.

I felt blindsided, Lord. And You are very well aware of that because I told You several times. And then I asked several times, “Why, God?” And I did not sense an answer.

I began to realize I was in need of a heart check. I prayed that You would adjust my attitude to one of gratefulness, not one of bitterness. And while You were probing my heart, my eyes needed an exam as well. I needed You to clear my vision; to help me to focus on the many blessings in my life, instead of what I thought was missing.

Lord, I know in the future there will be more unforeseen responses to my prayers.  Remind me that whether or not I understand Your reply, it will be good. It will be right. It will be the answer that allows Your, “All things work together for those who love the Lord,” promise to be on display in my life. Lord, help my definition of good to be in alignment with Your definition of good.

Lord, from now on, help me to invite You into my heartache instead of shutting You out. Help me to acknowledge and appreciate Your Presence in my pain. If I intentionally listen for Your voice, my heart will be open to new and exciting lessons about Your restoration and redemption.

Lord, I am grateful for Your blessings. You bless me with more than I deserve and more than I could ever earn. You generously give to overflowing out of Your deep love, even though I too often zero in on the empty areas because of my short-sightedness.

You take no delight in my distress. You are willing to teach, guide, and love me through disheartening moments. You come alongside me. You never barge in and insist that I instantly proclaim Your plan as better than mine. Instead, You tenderly offer Your enlightenment, as I process the pain and revitalize and regain trust in You.

Lord, You have promised hope and a future to all Your children. Help me realize that if I am trusting You with my future, it also means believing that You know what You are doing in my present.  Replace any lingering feelings of lack and loss with Your perfect peace.
In Your holy name, I pray. Amen.