Seeking God Successfully (Part Seven)

Psalm 27:8

You have said, “Seek my face.” My heart says to you, “Your face, Lord, do I seek” (ESV).

Seeking God testifies that our joy is found outside of ourselves. We seek something when we realize that we do not have sufficient resources in us. A thirsty person will get up and look for a glass of cold water. A hungry person will raid the refrigerator, because he or she knows that food is to be found there. In the same way our hearts reach out for God when we are convinced that he has what we need spiritually and eternally. This kind of conviction is the work of the Holy Spirit within us. For we know, brothers and sisters loved by God, that he has chosen you, because our gospel did not come to you in word only, but also in power, in the Holy Spirit, and with full assurance (1 Thessalonians 1:4-5 CSB; cf. John 15:26; Romans 8:15).

On the other hand, when God seeks us, he is not seeking to supply some deficiency in himself, because he is fully satisfied. And human hands can’t serve his needs—for he has no needs. He himself gives life and breath to everything, and he satisfies every need (Acts 17:25 NLT; cf. Psalm 50:7-15; Romans 11:36;). Instead, God seeks us (Luke 19:10) in order to meet our need. God, wanting to share the immensity of his love, reaches out to us that we may drink at his fountain and be utterly satisfied. So he tells us that all his fullness is to be found in Christ and that he gives this fullness to us in Christ. For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, and in Christ you have been brought to fullness. He is the head over every power and authority (Colossians 2:9-10 NIV). So then, we should realize that our Father in heaven really wants us to approach him in faith and through Christ by the Holy Spirit draw all that we need to satisfy our thirsty souls (John 4:10-14; 6:34-35; 7:37-39; 10:9-10; 16:24; Philippians 3:1).

Believers must be seekers. Such is the generation of those who seek him, who seek the face of the God of Jacob (Psalm 24:6 ESV). In heaven we will possess all things fully, and God will live with us in a way that is the completion of our present experience (Revelation 21:3-5). But now we are caught in the tension or pull between what we have by grace in Christ and what we still long for—to live directly in God’s presence.

By the presence of God, the Scriptures mean something richer than the omnipresence of God. Truly God is everywhere (Psalm 139:7-10; Jeremiah 23:23-24; Amos 9:2-5; Acts 17:26-28), and he is fully present and active in the fullness of his divine power. But by the presence of God, the Bible means God being with his people to bless and help and encourage and make his love known to us. We have this presence through the indwelling ministry of the Holy Spirit. As J.I. Packer points out in Keep in Step with the Spirit (p. 49), the Holy Spirit makes known to us the presence of Christ with us so that three events keep happening:

  • Personal fellowship with Jesus – the Lord draws near to us to share our lives with us. God is not a passive spectator but an active participant in our struggles.
  • Personal transformation of character into Jesus’ likeness – the Lord works in us to make us more and more like him, and we produce the fruit of the Spirit.
  • The Spirit-given certainty of being loved, redeemed and adopted through Christ into the Father’s family – the Lord lets us know that we belong to him and that he will never turn his back on us.

Let us draw near to God. He offers much to his children who rely on him. He promises himself, the awesome God over all!

Grace and peace, David

The Attributes of God (Part Nine)

Praise the Lord! Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever! (Psalm 106:1 ESV)

God is Good. “In one aspect of this word, it is merely equivalent to holiness… On the other hand, the goodness of God may be spoken of as kindness, benevolence, or beneficence towards others, in which it is seen to terminate outside of himself. Thus we speak of him as being very good to us.” (Boyce, Abstract of Theology, p. 93). God wants to act for the benefit of others; he desires that others enthusiastically share in the joy and peace of all that he is (Exodus 33:19; 2 Chronicles 5:13; 30:18; Psalm 25:7-8; 31:19; 52:9; 100:5; 119:68; Nahum 1:7; Matthew 19:7). Out of this desire flows goodness toward his creation (Psalm 145:7, 9, 15-16; Lamentations 3:25; Acts 14:17; James 1:17). In fact, since the creation came by the power and will of the One who is good, all that God made was “very good” (Genesis 1:31).

God’s people should rejoice in his goodness (2 Chronicles 6:41; Psalm 106:1; 107:1; 118:1), and we should seek to experience the goodness of the Lord (Psalm 34:8). And we find that God in his goodness reaches out to his people (Psalm 73:1; Matthew 7:11; Romans 8:32; 2 Peter 1:3). God is “essentially good; not only good, but goodness itself: the creature’s good is a superadded quality, in God it is his essence. He is infinitely good; the creature’s good is but a drop, but in God there is an infinite ocean or gathering together of good. He is eternally and immutably good, for He cannot be less good than He is; as there can be no addition made to Him, so no subtraction from Him” (Manton, quoted by Pink, The Attributes of God, p. 65).

“When others behave badly to us, it should only stir us up the more heartily to give thanks unto the Lord, because He is good; and when we ourselves are conscious that we are far from being good, we should only the more reverently bless Him that He is good. We must never tolerate an instant’s unbelief as to the goodness of the Lord; whatever else may be questioned, this is absolutely certain, that Jehovah is good; His dispensations may vary, but His nature is always the same” (Spurgeon, quoted by Pink, p. 69).

God’s goodness motivates God’s people to act for the good of others. This is a trustworthy saying. And I want you to stress these things, so that those who have trusted in God may be careful to devote themselves to doing what is good. These things are excellent and profitable for everyone (Titus 3:8 NIV). Since we have experienced the goodness of God, we should act for the good and benefit of our neighbors. In this way, we are instruments of his goodness in the lives of all around us.

Grace and peace, David

Thinking about God and His Friendship with His People

Psalm 25:8-15

Good and upright is the Lord; therefore he instructs sinners in the way (Psalm 25:8 ESV)

Previously, we considered two prayers that open this encouraging psalm. It is a meditation on the covenant friendship between God and his people. In the first part of the psalm we observed David’s confession of his struggles about his hope, his need to learn God’s ways, and even his relationship with God. Now after two prayers in which he confessed his struggles, he stopped to think about God and the people who are friends of God.

In the opening chapter of the Institutes of the Christian Religion, John Calvin wrote the following, which will assist our own meditation of the subject of this psalm. “Nearly all the wisdom we possess, that is to say, true and sound wisdom, consists of two parts: the knowledge of God and of ourselves… As long as we do not look beyond the earth, being quite content with our own righteousness, wisdom, and virtue, we flatter ourselves most sweetly, and fancy ourselves all but demigods. Suppose we but once begin to raise our thoughts to God, and to ponder his nature, and how completely perfect are his righteousness, wisdom, and power—the straightedge to which we must be shaped. Then, what masquerading earlier as righteousness was pleasing in us will soon grow filthy in its consummate wickedness. What wonderfully impressed us under the name of wisdom will stink in its very foolishness. What wore the face of power will prove itself the most miserable weakness. That is, what in us seems perfection itself corresponds ill to the purity of God.” [1.1.1-2] This is the great problem of our day: “We flatter ourselves most sweetly.” Although such flattery may make us feel good for a while, in the end it is destructive, warping our opinions and leading us away from the God who is able to meet our true needs. David has turned from flattery; now he thinks about the God who is there and speaks, the God who should be our truest friend.

David directed fellow worshipers to think about the character of God. The Lord is good and upright. When we think of God being upright, we mean his moral perfection. His character is perfect (Deuteronomy 32:4), his ways are perfect (Hosea 14:9; his works are perfect (Psalm 111:8), and his word is perfect (Psalm 119:137). By God’s goodness we mean his moral perfection in benevolent and generous action.

God is generously good; he wants his creation to share the joy of his glory. God shows his goodness in two ways. The first is called “common grace” (Psalm 145). God created everything “very good” (Genesis 1:31). Though God cursed creation because of human sin (Genesis 3:14-19), the curse is within the larger context of showing greater glory in Christ restoring all things (Romans 8:18-30). So even now in common grace he preserves life and provides the blessings of life (Acts 14:17). The second way God shows his goodness is called “special grace” (Titus 2:11), which is all he does for the salvation of those who believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. Followers of Christ share in the glory of redeeming grace.

At this point we must avoid a trap. The trap is having a ‘formal theology’ that is contrary to our ‘functional theology’. What do I mean? On one level, we Christians can talk with each other and say, “We believe that God is good. Amen.” But how do we live our lives? Do we think that God is holding out on us? Do we view God as somehow demanding that we obey him without joy? Do we think that he puts the cookie jar in front of us, but never lets us have any cookies? “One of the deepest deceptions is the lie that there is something good out there and it is better than what God gives” (Welch, Addictions, p. 192). Do we think that everyone else is having fun, and that God really wants us to be miserable? Don’t listen to Satan’s lie that God is not good, and that sin is really good. But this is where our struggle lies!

Here David tells us what God does because he is good and upright. Since he is good, he instructs sinners in his ways. Since we are sinners, he knows that we need to know his ways. The compassion of his goodness reaches out to us, as a caring adult reaches out to help a lost child.

The devil makes unbelievers blind to lead them more easily to hell, but God teaches us his truth to guide us to heaven. He did this especially in sending Christ, who is our prophet, priest, and king. Before Jesus died for sinners, he preached to sinners for three years. Yes, more than that, Jesus pleaded with people to have a change of mind and believe the good news about himself (Mark 1:15). More than that, he promised a kind welcome to all who come to him (Matthew 11:28). More than that, he guaranteed that all who come to God through him will never be driven away (John 6:37). And today, his Holy Spirit welcomes all to come (Revelation 22:17). Right now is an excellent time to believe on the Lord Jesus and be saved!

David found assurance that his prayer to be taught (25:4-5) would be answered because of the character of God. If we want to leave the paths of sin, we should be encouraged that the Lord wants to teach us exactly how to do that, not only by information, but by teaching us about Jesus (Ephesians 4:20-21) from the inside out.

Grace and peace, David

Christ’s Story of the Great Banquet

img_3539Luke 14:15-24

In the Gospel of Luke, we see often Jesus as the great teacher, sent from God to tell us about salvation. Since he was sent on this mission and was faithful to it, he never missed an opportunity to speak for the glory of God his Father. Many times he happily joined in opportunities to share meals with people. Meals are an excellent opportunity to get to know others and to talk about life with them.

The occasion in our text was Christ’s attendance at a meal offered by a Pharisee (14:1-14). When someone at the meal heard Jesus recommend the attitudes of humility and generosity towards other at meals, a man was moved to make the remark recorded in 14:15, which means, “How happy are the people who will enjoy the feast of eternal life and salvation!” Jesus takes that opportunity to teach that salvation comes from an invitation from God. The Lord used a story to make known the truth that in his goodness, God seeks the happiness of people (14:16-17).

  • God’s goodness is seen in the preparations for the banquet. It was a great banquet. This is an illustration of the happiness and satisfaction that God desires for those who seek him (Psalm 23:5; Isaiah 25:6-9; Matthew 22:2; Revelation 3:20). Many were invited as guests. No small, polite dinner party was intended. God invites many to come to him!
  • God’s goodness is seen in telling people that the feast was prepared. Think of the long (from a human point of view) preparations that God made for the banquet of salvation. Thousands of years of human history had passed from Adam to Jesus the Messiah. The servant is Christ; he is the Servant of the Lord (Isaiah 42:1; etc.). His great word is “Come!” (cf. Matthew 11:28).

We must view God as good and generous, or we have never understood him. His goodness and generosity must influence our attitudes and actions if we claim that he is our Father.

Yet, out of dislike for God, people make excuses to refuse God’s generosity (14:18-20). Observe the character of the human heart. People do not want God to provide them with joy – not really. Yes, people get upset if they think that God is judging them or making their lives unpleasant. But people do not want God’s joy, because it involves God, and God is holy and righteous and the Judge. Behind people’s excuses to come to Bible studies, small groups, etc. is a lack of desire, a lack of desire for God. So people invent excuses, in order that they can avoid God and his blessings. Here are two:

  • People turn from God to property and possessions. The first two excuses are transparently false; they are the excuses of liars or foolish people. Who would buy a field without looking at it? Who would buy five yoke of oxen without checking them out before the purchase? Even if such unlikely events had happened, both could wait to check on their purchases later. They could check them out after the banquet.
  • People turn from God to people. This excuse is of someone plainly disinterested and desperate to find any way out. There was nothing hindering him from bringing his wife, especially considering the generosity of the host of the banquet.

Let us notice that none of the three gave a simple refusal. Each had “some reason of his own why he ought to be held excused… Each differs from the other, and each has its own plausibility; but all arrive at the same result – ‘We have other things to attend to, more pressing just now’” (John Brown). Through the cares of this world and the desire to be rich and to enjoy the passing pleasures of this world, many refuse to accept God’s invitation. But all other preferences must go in the face of God’s invitation. What is your response? “Infidelity and immorality, no doubt, slay their thousands. But decent, plausible, smooth-spoken excuses slay their tens of thousands” (Ryle, his emphasis).

According to the freeness of his grace, God extends the invitation to many (14:21-24).

Since God is the overflowing fountain of goodness, he continues to seek people. Like the host in the parable, God seeks out the disadvantaged and those despised and rejected by other people. God is like the host of the banquet. He is “very big-hearted and generous. He loves to make people happy, especially those down and out” (Hendriksen). In one sense these were the common people of Israel, the “rabble who don’t understand the law”, to use the words of the Pharisees. In another sense they are all who the world deems “misfits”.  God invited all these people purely out of grace (cf. 14:14). They were not bringing anything to the banquet; instead, the feast was for their enjoyment.

Like the host in the parable, God seeks out a “full house”.  In one sense these are the Gentiles, the people of all nations. They were not near the banqueting house, but they are brought near. They would have to be “compelled” with many arguments, because they would not believe that the God of Israel would be generous to them. In another sense, they are any far removed and out of the way. The servant was not to take “no” for an answer (cf. 2 Cor 5:20).

God’s purpose will not fail. The Lord will have a full banqueting house. There will not be empty seats at the table. Everyone who serves the Lord should desire to see his or her Master’s table filled. I would like to see my neighbors in heaven, glorifying God and enjoying his glory, wouldn’t you?

However, since God is just, he gives people what they want. If people refuse God and eternal joy, God will not give it to them. People can and will have justice if they so desire. I did not say that people like the alternative, but they would rather have the alternative of justice than turn from their sins and idols to God. The Lord threatens terrible things to those who refuse to be joyful with him. The Lord is saying in this parable to all who refuse his gospel invitation, “Since you will not receive fullness of joy, my joy freely offered to you, you will receive the opposite, eternal misery.” There is no second chance. “Only one life will soon be past…” Just as people are destined to die once, and after that to face judgment… (Heb 9:27 NIV).

There is a great central lesson to this parable. “Accept God’s gracious invitation to eternal happiness. Accept it now!”

Grace and peace, David

Surprised by God’s Blessing

IMG_2550Ruth 2:17-23

The Lord our God gives generously. This is not what most people expect God to do. They suspect that he is rather stingy, though receiving daily provisions from him. God has not left himself without testimony: He has shown kindness by giving you rain from heaven and crops in their seasons; he provides you with plenty of food and fills your hearts with joy (Acts 14:17). Even faithful believers can fail to bank on God’s goodness when times are tough, the pantry is bare, and available jobs always seem to go to someone else. The book of Ruth reminds us that God provides and teaches how he works out his plan in Christ by many acts of kindness to and through his people.

The first surprise came when Ruth found out how much she earned for the day (2:17-19). After gleaning, Ruth still had hard work to do, because she had to separate the barley grain from the stalk. She would have had to beat the stalks with a curved stick or wooden hammer, which separated the husks from the kernels, and then gather the kernels together. This would be tedious, time-consuming work. When finished, she probably gathered the kernels together on her shawl, and then carried them home on her back. Ruth was probably exhausted at this point. She discovered that she had gathered about five gallons of grain. This would be enough to feed them for a couple weeks. In their reckoning, this would be about two week’s wages. So Ruth did quite well that day.

Naomi was pleasantly surprised about what Ruth brought home. Ruth gave Naomi her leftover roasted grain from lunch. She knew how much Naomi would enjoy it. This shows Ruth’s generous and loyal nature. When Naomi took all this in, she realized that Ruth had to have received help to achieve all this. For this reason, Naomi had many questions to ask in her excitement. She also prayed for a blessing on her benefactor. Notice how praying for God to bless someone was part of her life now, since she saw a token of God’s goodness to her. Prayer should be as natural to us as breathing. It should be part of our conversation at appropriate times. Ruth revealed her benefactor’s name. Notice how she said his name last, which is also the word order in the Hebrew text. You can see how she let the suspense build, as one woman might do in talking to another. Though the narrator has let us in on some of the significance of Boaz (2:1), Ruth did not yet know this information. Up to this point, Boaz had simply been a kind man to her. When was the last time that you were pleasantly surprised by God’s blessings to you? Do you notice how much the Lord gives you constantly?

Naomi celebrated kindness received (2:20-23). She began to worship. In an instant, Naomi understood that the Lord had not abandoned her! Everything was not as hopeless as she had thought. God was not attacking her, but was helping her through some tough circumstances.

Naomi again prayed for God’s blessing on Boaz. He was not present for her to thank him, which she ought to do, but she did what she could at that moment. God only expects us to do what we can in our situation. Praying for God’s blessing on someone is the best thanks we can give. Do we have this on our minds, so that when such situations arise, words of blessing come from us? This is an area of life in which we must become more properly spiritual.

Naomi realized that she had received kindness. Grammatically, this can refer to either the Lord or Boaz, but I think it is better to refer it to the Lord, since it is difficult to understand how Boaz could have been such a source of kindness to Naomi over the years. (Notice that she says, “He has not stopped showing his kindness….”) So then, Naomi knew that God was still involved in her life and continued to show her kindness, which is steadfast, loyal love, kindness and mercy rolled into one.

Naomi explained the significance of Boaz to Ruth. We must remember that Ruth was from Moab, and there would be much about life under the law covenant that she did not understand. Naomi assured Ruth that Boaz was the close relative and kinsman-redeemer of both of them. The kinsman-redeemer had various duties in the clan:

  • He was responsible for the repurchase of property once owned by clan members but sold from economic necessity (Leviticus 25:25-30; cf. Jeremiah 32:1-15).
  • If financially able, he also redeemed relatives whose poverty had forced them to sell themselves into slavery (Leviticus 25:47-55). It is on this point that the rest of the book of Ruth
  • He had the duty to avenge the killing of a relative by tracking down and executing the killer (Numbers 35:12, 19-27; Deuteronomy 19:6, 12: Joshua 20:2-3, 5, 9).
  • He received the money paid to the clan as restitution committed against a deceased clan member (Numbers 5:8).

Ruth and Naomi were able to celebrate what had happened.

The women agreed that Ruth should only work in Boaz’ fields. Besides obvious reasons, why would Naomi urge Ruth to stay in a place where God was blessing her? She would do this, because she had left the place of God’s blessing ten years before, and she doesn’t want Ruth to repeat her mistake!

Ruth was able to glean until the completion of the barley and wheat harvests. The point is that God continually provided for them. It was not just one good day, but many good days had come!

Rejoice in what the Lord gives you. In Ruth’s case she had to work very hard throughout the entire harvest to get food for them. And at the end of the harvest period, she was still living with her mother-in-law and waiting for a marriage proposal. The Lord blessed her, but her life was not “perfect”—whatever we assume that means. If we choose to be very honest, all of us have to admit that there are some items on our wish list that we want to receive immediately. But don’t allow what you lack to hinder your gratitude for what the Lord has already provided. Thank God continually for present blessings, while you wait for what he will do in his time.

Grace and peace, David

Beyond Coincidences

IMG_0910Ruth 2:1-7

Once in a while, you might see a movie or read a novel that presents both sides of a story. The main characters function as both protagonists and antagonists. An example would be the movie Gettysburg, which attempts to tell the story of the battle of Gettysburg from both the perspective of the Union and the Confederates. In this section, we encounter something similar occurring. As we see Ruth take center stage, we see two sides of the story. On one side we find Ruth, her significant choices, and random or chance events. But on the other side the story is about the invisible but true God, directing her life so that it moves beyond coincidences.

Ruth exercised a bold initiative; she decided to act. Ruth knew that having a house and a table is insufficient. They needed bread on the table, if they were going to survive. She was not afraid to work for that goal. The Bible teaches that we both pray for God to supply our food (Matthew 6:11) and actively fulfill our responsibility to work for it (2 Thessalonians 3:10). Ruth overcame the temptation to laziness and the apparent depression of her mother-in-law. When Naomi agreed to Ruth’s action, she gave a two-word answer in Hebrew. So then Naomi was not in a good emotional or spiritual condition. If you are in a depressed condition, you need to return to active service for Jesus. To do this, look to his cross and see a better covenant made with you by his blood. The Lord is on your side and he is committed to help you, regardless of your present circumstances.

Ruth used a provision in God’s old covenant law for her good (Leviticus 19:9-10; 23:22; Deuteronomy 24:19-22).  To glean means to gather or collect. God allowed those who were in need in the specified circumstances to provide food for themselves from the property of others, since the land belonged to God ultimately. We should see more than the law; we should see the kindness of the Lord who gave the law to his people. God’s commands flow out of his nature, all revealing his glory as God in some way.

We need to see all that we have as coming from the kindness of our Father in heaven. Whatever we give is his anyway, and by giving we reflect God’s kindness. Observe carefully that Ruth was not guided to glean by some nighttime vision or dream, by hearing voices from heaven, or by an angelic escort. She simply walked according to the word of truth, the Bible.

Ruth took a risk. There was danger because of her ethnicity. People have many prejudices in regard to people of other ethnic groups. Many of these arise from differences in skin color, language, customs, and religion. Though the Lord had given the law of gleaning to provide for the aliens in Israel, not everyone would be willing to obey God’s law. The law of God reflected God’s character and will, but it did not achieve it. Grace comes through the gospel, not the law.

There was danger because of her gender. The time of the judges (cf. 1:1) was marked by open sexual immorality, like our time. (Sexual immorality is always a human problem in this world, cf. Mark 7:21; Romans 1:24-27.) Without a strong central government committed to God’s law covenant, outward expression of the heart’s sexual immorality was not hindered as it should have been. It could have been risky for a woman to go out to the fields alone. We will notice more about this in the next section. Israel had become more like the nations that she was to be separated from. Having forsaken God and the good news of Jesus, our nation will become increasingly sexually immoral and violent, which is the companion of sexual immorality. (Read Romans 1:18-32.)

There was also a risk because of her limited knowledge. All people face this in various ways and degrees. Ruth was not sure about who would show favor to her. Would they treat her as a needy person or as an unwelcome, troublesome foreigner? She simply didn’t know. But she took the risk. God expects us to live by faith according to the Scriptures. In his providence, Ruth was a widow, an alien, and poor. In his covenant law, he had provided for her provision in the law about gleaning. By faith she had to act on God’s revealed will and to trust God to provide.

Ruth’s risk was rewarded by God (2:3). Here we see the hand of the invisible God silently at work. From the human perspective, Ruth simply made her choices. “Let’s see; that looks like a nice field and the workers seem happy. That might mean that the owner is generous. So, I’ll try my luck there.” But Ruth might not have even thought that much. The Hebrew text literally reads, “Her chance chanced upon.” She might have simply wandered into the field with a sigh and a shrug of her shoulders and started to glean.

However, what people call chance or luck is not simple random occurrence. Instead, this is God’s sovereign providence. God guided her steps to her destiny that he appointed for her (Proverbs 16:9). God directed her steps, so that she walks seemingly “by chance” into the fields of Boaz.

My whole life has been shaped by various chance happenings, like a computer picking my college roommates for my freshman year, randomly sitting next to someone in my first class at a new college, and a man suddenly recalling at the right moment that he had my phone number on a scrap of paper in his Bible. Those are three examples from what I do know, and God alone knows in how many other ways he has guided my life through “chance” happenings.

The life of faith is an adventure. It’s exciting to think of what God might do; that is, if you’re trusting him! Are you?

Grace and peace, David

Meeting God

IMG_0977Genesis 1:1-31

June traditionally has been the great month for weddings, which means it is also the time for anniversaries. This means it is a season when we see family members that we haven’t seen for a while. At these gatherings we also meet people that we’ve never met. I suppose everyone has had the experience of sitting at a table at a party where you didn’t know have the people. This means that we have the opportunity to expand our circle of friends, even if it is only for the afternoon or evening.

Usually, people share some general information about themselves: their names, where they live, their occupation, how they know those being honored, etc. However, when the exchanging of information is done and those who are adept at conversation have others participating, we know that we know little about the other people, except for a list of facts. We have not shared life with them, and so we don’t know who they really are.

In religious circles, people assume that they can know God by learning a list of facts about it. This happens in many ways: in Sunday school or catechism classes, in Vacation Bible School, or if one’s parents were especially devoted to God, by their parents’ kind instruction. When they mature, it is easy to continue the trend by reading books that give more lists of facts about God with philosophical discussion about those facts; namely, theology books.

The true and living God did not write a theology book when he spoke to introduce himself to us. Instead, he told his story. By telling his story, he explains his plans to us and invites us to share life with him. Sharing life with God is the experience of his glory, love, joy, and peace. We glorify him, and he promises a share in his glory forever. As we come to know his story, he uses its message, its good news, to bring us to new birth by the power of his Spirit.

Today, let us listen to the living God introduce himself. In this introduction we do learn facts about him, like in all introductions, but he does this to set the context in which we might really know him, and not merely a list of facts about him. How does he start his story?

  • God introduces himself as the Creator. We can meet him, because he created us and the world in which we live. God does more than tell us the fact; he tells us the story of how he brought us and everything else into existence. He gradually builds excitement as he talks about the creation of light, earth, and sky, to making a place suitable for human life, and on to the creation of mankind, intimating that we are an important part of the story he is telling.
  • God talks about how he created. I suppose that God might have created everything by simply thinking or by direct acts of power. But as he introduces himself, he tells us that he created by his word. Nine times he uses a phrase like “and God said” in this opening chapter of his story. God reveals that his word is powerful. He can speak and bring worlds into existence. Father, Son, and Holy Spirit can speak together about how they will make mankind, both male and female.
  • God makes known his power in his story. Our world comes into being as the act of his will. We are made in his likeness to rule over the world by his sovereign will. God gives us significance by his will. And he gives us the power to procreate and to subdue the earth by that same will. He is the God who can give authority and power to others, while ruling over all by his word.
  • God points out his goodness. He tells us seven times that he makes what is good, including mankind. God gave us a good world and told us to care for it. He wants us to know that he is the source of what is good. We can receive it from him.

God does all this in a form of a story. Listen to his majestic revelation of who he is and how he wants us to know that he desires what is good for mankind. God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us (Acts 17:27 NIV).

Grace and peace, David