What Is God To You?

What is God to us? Doctrinally, we can blurt out a laundry list of answers ranging from creator-God to provider, but in our day to day lives, what is God to us? For most of the time, it seems that God is not much more to us than a cash cow, lucky rabbit’s foot, ace-in-the-hole or trump card for life’s circumstances. When things appear to be going wrong and then work out, we praise God. When things don’t turn out so well, we are silent towards God and wonder or even question why God did not interact or provide deliverance.

How much of your prayers are focused on trying to get God to adjust life’s circumstances to meet your desire? When he does not answer, how do you react or feel? Do you think that he does not care? Do you feel abandoned or rejected? Many people do and it becomes the beginning of the erosion to their faith. What about Moses on the back side of the desert for 40 years? Was he abandoned, rejected or forgotten? Remember Joseph in prison. Was he turned away or forsaken by God? Abraham, who waited for so many years after the promise of a son was given, was not forsaken by God. Their lives were a demonstration to us that God has a plan greater than our understanding and even though discouraging times may come, he is in control to work all things for good.

Our response to negative life circumstances is different than theirs. We praise God for the actions that he does as long as they align with what we want. God performs those actions because he wants them. However, we do not praise God when he does or allows things in our lives that he wants, but are contrary to our desires. We complain and even at times rebel against him. What we should do is praise God in the midst of all circumstances of life because he commanded us to (1 Thessalonians 5:18) and because he promised to work all things for good to those who love him (Romans 8:28).

We do not because we fail to remember our deep plight of misery when we were enslaved to sin. All attempts to rescue ourselves from its grip of bondage were futile… and then Jesus came. He saved us from the penalty of sin and gave us a new life in him. With that work alone, we should for the remainder of our lives be thankful and not expect anything further from The Lord. We need to remind ourselves daily that we belong to God and are his servants. He does not serve us: we serve him.

Half Hearted (1 Chronicles 13:8)

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Half hearted. Have you ever faced life that way? If not, you most definitely have met or worked with individuals that have. Their demeanor grates against your zeal and struggles to pull you down to their level of complacency. Half heartedness results from being motivated for something else other than the task at hand. Before we become too judgmental, we must recognize that we all have this tendency. What is your work progress like on Friday afternoon just before your two week vacation? How about just before the Christmas holidays? If you are like most, your work rate drops drastically because your mind and heart are focused elsewhere.

However there are other times when we have a great zeal for what we are doing and we do work tasks with diligence. On these occasions, our focus is either on the work, the goal of the work, or a person for whom the work is to be completed. Expressions such as “he’s doing it with all his might” or “he’s putting his heart into it” are used to describe such diligence.

When we are diligent for God, it pleases him. David, a man after God’s own heart, had such a characteristic. Although a tragedy soon followed after this passage, it does not negate the fact that David served God with all of his heart.

And David and all Israel played before God with all their might, and with singing, and with harps, and with psalteries, and with timbrels, and with cymbals, and with trumpets. (1 Chronicles 13:8)

God wants us to serve him with all of our might. This service is not limited to actions in the church or for ministry. God wants us to serve him in everything that we do. Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God. (1 Corinthians 10:31). Whatever the task, God wants us to put our hearts into it. He wants us to do all of our work as unto him. Will it still be difficult to work just before that vacation? Of course it will, but we should battle to achieve our best for God who gives us nothing less than what is best for us.

God’s Countenance (Hebrews 5:2)

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What countenance is on God’s face? The varied answers that people may give would be based on each person’s perspective of God. As a child, I disappointed my parents on many occasions and on each of these their countenance was negative in nature reflecting anger, frustration, disappointment or dissatisfaction. Is God the same way? Does his countenance change towards me? For those who are away from God, what is his countenance like? Is he angry? Is he frustrated? Thankfully from the scriptures, we can see that his countenance would be one that reflects compassion.

Who can have compassion on the ignorant, and on them that are out of the way; for that he himself also is compassed with infirmity. (Hebrews 5:2)

Compassion? That doesn’t seem like a relevant response to a disobedient believer. Why would he be compassionate? Why wouldn’t he display a negative response towards their lack of regard for his love, salvation and provision? The reason is simple. He has compassion, because he experienced the struggles that we face and the many infirmities that we bear.

As a man, he felt hunger, pain, sorrow and loneliness. Disappointment followed him continually and in his greatest hour of need, he was abandoned by all on earth and in Heaven. He knows that we are not as strong as him and that we are prone to sin and wander. So with compassion, he patiently waits. Oh, don’t get me wrong. God still hates sin and never condones it, but he loves us still. He knows that what we need the most during times of discouragement, fear, failure and sorrow is a compassionate friend.

He will continue to work in your life and patiently wait for your return. The days that you are away from him are a loss to you. He will not force you to come back. We must understand that we are not returning to an angry God, but instead to a compassionate father.

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How Did It Happen? (2 Thessalonians 2:13)

You have heard of people who lived a terribly wicked life and then for some reason became a Christian. How did such a thing happen? Some credit it to circumstances in the individuals’ lives and in response to them, they make a turn to God hoping that things will get better. Other people attest it to a fear people have of dying and being judged for their sins. Both of these situations may be factors in their decision, but they only have a minimal impact. What brings people to God, whether it be to Christ for salvation or to the father in Heaven, is the working of the Holy Spirit and the truth of the word of God.

But we are bound to give thanks alway to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth: (2 Thessalonians 2:13)

It is the Holy Spirit that does a work of drawing us to God. He works through conviction, guidance, comfort, intercession, teaching, directing and overseeing our lives. His work is done in conjunction with truth or the word of God. As lost sinners, he brought truth to us by various ways. He then used that truth in our hearts to bring us to repentance and a calling out to Jesus. He continues to work upon us in that same manner. For situations that we face in our lives today, the Holy Spirit performs the same work by using the word of God. From truth and the Holy Spirit’s guidance, we can gain the strength that we need to face the trials and troubles.

What we must do in the midst of difficult times is continue to expose our hearts to the word of God. Without truth in our hearts, we limit the work that the Holy Spirit wants to accomplish. Sadly to say, most who struggle with trials give up. They stop exposing themselves to the word of God in the many ways that God wants to bring it to them and because of that decision, they weaken themselves and limit the Holy Spirit’s liberty working in their lives. But if we yield ourselves to the Holy Spirit and expose ourselves to truth through God’s word, he will accomplish the plan that he has chosen for our lives. The work is accomplished by God: our part is to follow the Holy Spirit’s leading to his precious powerful word of truth.

The Motive (Psalm 95:10)

From the beginning, man has always looked outside of himself when it comes to blame for his actions. It started in the garden and continues to this present day. People have blamed ethnic heritage, financial status, lack of education, social oppression, situational circumstances and even the sins of others as an excuse or cause for their sinful actions. However, God sees the matter differently.

Forty years long was I grieved with this generation, and said, It is a people that do err in their heart, and they have not known my ways: (Psalms 95:10)

God reveals that the origin of sin is in our hearts. It is a heart of lust and covetousness that steals items from those who worked for them. It is a prideful and angry heart that lashes out at those who hinder them from gaining what they desire. It is a proud selfish heart that believes people are just objects to satisfy its sexual pleasures. It is an envious and jealous heart that gossips about others in an attempt to make themselves look better. It is not the Italian, Irish, German or any other ethnic culture that causes a person to have angry or wrathfully outbursts. It is the heart of a person that determines their actions. Circumstances do not determine actions or else everybody would respond the same way to those circumstances. However this is not the case.

Consider for example people who work with a complaining coworker. Some may respond with anger while others may respond with compassion. While some may react by complaining about the complaining coworker, still others may put a lid on their emotions and just deal with it. If situations cause people’s reactions, then the situation must cause the same reaction in all people all of the time. Since they don’t, then the motive for reactions must come from within the individual.

How have you been acting lately? Your outward actions reveal to yourself the condition of your heart. Consider the following verses.

Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life. (Proverbs 4:23)

A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil:for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh. (Luke 6:45)

Precious In His Sight (Isaiah 43:4)

I remember holding my children not long after their birth. My son was a strapping infant with strength and vitality. My daughter was the opposite. She was tiny, frail and weak. They were at opposite ends of the spectrum, but one thing each of them had in common was that they were precious in my sight. They were precious because they were of great value. As rare jewels and metals are sometimes called precious, my children were also precious.

When The Lord looked at us, he too saw us as precious. Me, precious? I don’t think so. One quick look at my past and I see anything but precious. Just glance at my heart today and you will find tucked in the resources of it thoughts, desires and attitudes contrary to anything good. Precious? Not me. How about you? Do you find yourself the same?

It spite of all that, God still declared you and me to be precious. The question remains. How can God see someone like me with all of the undesirable afore mentioned qualities as precious? Although I am not precious in and of myself and neither are you, we are precious because of what God saw we could become.

Since thou wast precious in my sight, thou hast been honourable, and I have loved thee: therefore will I give men for thee, and people for thy life. (Isaiah 43:4)

Have you ever been rejected? If so, it was because they valued you differently than your true worth. Do you feel like you don’t measure up? Your points may be true, but you value yourself less than God values you. Only God can see what you truly are and will become. What we must see and accept is that we are precious in his sight.

Trusting Draws You Closer

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Yesterday in celebration of our nation’s birth, public and private fireworks were displayed. For most, it was a wonderful time of celebration ending with multiple oohs and aaahs. However for some it was not so pleasant.

Trauma never takes a holiday. While some were rejoicing, others were not. As some may know, my family rescued a German Shepherd with a laundry list of phobias. While aiding him through most of the night, I learned some distinct lessons about my relationship with God.

While trembling in terror, my family provided support and our presence to him. Calming words, hugs, and a makeshift place for him to hide provided the strength that he needed. When firecrackers, M80s and the neighborhood fireworks went off, we quickly responded with “It’s okay, Duke. Everything is okay.” When he responded positively, we lauded him with praise. This went on until at least midnight, with most of the overnight hours spent transitioning him back to functioning independently.

This morning, Duke came close to me. He gently licked me–which I really can’t stand–and snuggled his head into my chest. I patted him on the side and gently spoke about how brave he was and that he was a good boy. It was then that it hit me. As this dog bonds closets to me after times of trials, I too bond closest to God after the same. As I shared words of praise for his bravery, God does the same with me for my faith. What draws the dog closest to me are situations greater than he can bear. What draws me closest to God are not blessings, but situations greater that I can bear.

In the end, I learned that the best way for me to know God will not come from books, sermons or bible studies, but from trials and his presence in the midst of them.

I will be with him in trouble (Psalm 91:15b)