Psalm Nineteen (Part Ten)

Psalm 19:13-14

Keep your servant also from willful sins; may they not rule over me. Then I will be blameless, innocent of great transgression. May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer (NIV).

We conclude this great psalm about God’s revelation. Its closing words speak joyfully about his confidence in God and the grace that is freely received from him. God’s words are intended to lead us to his joy, but that is only received as we trust in him, as he has revealed himself to us.

“Then will I be blameless, innocent of great transgression.” As David prays for help against sin, he uses the argument that such help will enable him to live for God as he should. This is the blameless character of which he speaks. He would be blameless in regard to willful or defiant sin. Every saint should make this his/her aim, as also the apostle Paul tried to live. Because of this, I always try to maintain a clear conscience before God and all people (Acts 24:16 NLT).

“May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart…” David concludes this psalm with what has become a very well-known prayer. Notice that he asks for God’s help with both his outer man (“my mouth”) and his inner man (“my heart”). As Jesus taught, the mouth speaks what comes out of the heart. You brood of vipers, how can you who are evil say anything good? For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of. A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him (Matthew 12:34-35 NIV). What David prayed showed his concern for the purity of the whole person, body and soul. We might perhaps say the right thing, but if the heart is not producing those words, we are being hypocritical.

David recognized that his heart would meditate or ponder on things that his mouth might not necessarily say, yet he wanted to be pure in heart also, for he knew that God knew what he was thinking in his heart (cf. Psalm 139:1-6). Idolatry of the heart is as evil as outward performance (Ezekiel 14:3-4). David wants God alone to be worshipped by him.

David was focused on the Lord. He desired that his words and thoughts would be pleasing in your sight…. Here was David’s great concern, that his whole person and actions would bring pleasure to God. The believer should not merely be concerned about avoiding offense to God, but he or she should have a positive concern about how to please the living God. If we are made to glorify God and to enjoy him forever, then we ought to recognize that we are not reaching the goal of our being until there is this joint pleasure of God in us and we in him. True Christianity is more than not doing things; it is living in the Lord’s presence in fellowship with him to bring him honor and pleasure and to enjoy all his excellent worth.

O LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer: Here is the focus of David’s life. The God who has spoken in creation and in the holy writings is more than a communicator to David. He is also personally interested in David, and graciously makes himself available to those who trust in him. David views him as his Rock, the one who is able to provide full stability to David’s life, and as his Redeemer, because he had set David free from his sins (see Romans 4). The goal of the Scriptures is to lead us to have fellowship with the living God. David entered into that purpose. Have we?

Grace and peace, David

God’s Reassuring Promise (Part Two)

Genesis 46:1-7

The walk of faith in God can be difficult. God is infinitely greater than us, and we often fail to know his plans and promises, even though they are clearly stated in his word. We are limited beings, and there is much we cannot understand. Personal trials and suffering can mislead us. In addition, we often misinterpret our situation because of the effects of sin on our minds. But God is gracious! He encourages us by his word to rely upon him, to endure, and to put our hope in him. Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God (Psalm 42:5 NIV)

See God’s word to Jacob. And God spoke to Israel in a vision at night and said, “Jacob! Jacob!” “Here I am,” he replied. “I am God, the God of your father,” he said. “Do not be afraid to go down to Egypt, for I will make you into a great nation there. I will go down to Egypt with you, and I will surely bring you back again. And Joseph’s own hand will close your eyes” (Genesis 46:2-4 NIV).

God gave his word to Jacob by direct, personal address. The doubling of the name speaks of God’s love for the person (46:2). Think of Abraham (Genesis 22:11); Samuel, (1 Samuel 3:10); Martha, (Luke 10:41); Simon Peter, (Luke 22:31); Saul Paul (Acts 9:4). The Lord revealed himself as the One whom Jacob had worshiped for many years (46:3).

God gave a comforting promise to his loved one (46:3-4). God told Jacob:

  • Don’t be afraid, for I am working out my plan in human history. I will do there what I have promised you and your fathers.
  • Be assured of my presence with you. I’m going with you there, and I’ll certainly bring you back to this land again. Did Jacob have some visual sense of the glory of God accompanying him? It is not said, but it is highly unlikely. But God’s word is as good as a visible sign. Do you believe this? See Hebrews 13:5: God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”
  • Know that you will be reunited with Joseph. God is able to repay for the years the locusts have eaten. I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten—the great locust and the young locust, the other locusts and the locust swarm—my great army that I sent among you. You will have plenty to eat, until you are full, and you will praise the name of the Lord your God, who has worked wonders for you; never again will my people be shamed. Then you will know that I am in Israel, that I am the Lord your God, and that there is no other; never again will my people be shamed (Joel 2:25-27 NIV).

How did Jacob respond? He acted according to God’s word. He obeyed (46:5-7). It is like Jacob told his family, “Boys and girls, let’s go! God is about to fulfill his word. His time has come to make us a great nation. He wants us out of Canaan and in Egypt. Therefore, let’s go to Egypt!”


  • What tremendous obedience in a man of 130 years! He is willing to upset the remaining days of his life, forsake everything, and follow God’s call. May his tribe increase!
  • Here is an amazing promise to rest on. “I will go… with you.” We ought to prove his promise true by going and making disciples.
  • The church’s land of rest is the spiritual Canaan, a new heaven and a new earth. We will possess that land at his appointed time. Now he is making us a great nation in this spiritual Egypt, this present age. Let’s remember he is always with us during this time.

Grace and peace, David

Psalm Nineteen (Part Four)

The law of the Lord is perfect, refreshing the soul. The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple. The precepts of the Lord are right, giving joy to the heart. The commands of the Lord are radiant, giving light to the eyes. The fear of the Lord is pure, enduring forever. The decrees of the Lord are firm, and all of them are righteous. They are more precious than gold, than much pure gold; they are sweeter than honey, than honey from the honeycomb. By them your servant is warned; in keeping them there is great reward (Psalm 19:7-11 NIV).

The creation bears witness to the glory of the I AM, but if we are to know the Sovereign Lord of whom creation testifies, if we are to know how we may be right with him and do his will, we need more. For this reason, David turns from general revelation to special revelation. He takes us to the Holy Scriptures, which he calls by a number of names: law, statutes, precepts, commands, fear, and ordinances. All of which combine to say that God the Creator is also God the Communicator. He has spoken to mankind through his written word.

In the first two stanzas about creation, the I AM was called “God,” Elohim, once. In the third stanza about the Scriptures, he is called “LORD,” YHWH, six times. For now he speaks as covenant Lord—the One who approaches mankind “person to person,” who graciously calls rebellious people to himself.

Verses 7-9 follow a pattern. First, there is a descriptive name for the Scriptures; second, the possessive phrase “of the LORD is used;” third, there is an appropriate predicate adjective; and fourth, David speaks of a beneficial effect or other praise of the Scriptures.

Let us start by considering the descriptive names for the Holy Scriptures that David uses.

  • law” — This word is about used 221 times in the Old Testament Scriptures. Its basic meaning is teaching. When we hear the word “law,” our minds move in the legal-political sphere, but this word means law in the sense of authoritative instruction from God. “In addition, the book of Deut itself shows that the law has a broad meaning to encompass history, regulations and their interpretation, and exhortations.” [Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament, TWOT] Due to various theological presuppositions, various writers become confused when they read this verse, thinking of either “the moral law,” or “the ten commandments,” etc. Neither does it mean the law covenant given at Sinai. Here “law” refers to the Scriptures, the inspired, written revelation of God.
  • statutes” — This word is perhaps better translated as “testimony.” It is used many times in this sense; for example, in referring to the Ark of the Covenant, the Tabernacle, or the Tablets of Stone. Exodus 24:12; 31:18; 32:15; 34:29. “This word is always used in reference to the testimony of God.” [TWOT] It is as God, rather than claiming “executive privilege,” allows himself to be examined on the witness stand. But in this case, it is God himself taking the initiative to make known testimony about himself, his will, and his redemptive activity. God testifies about himself, and about what man should do or has failed to do. For example, read 1 Corinthians 10:1-13.
  • precepts” — This “is a general term for the responsibilities that God places on his people.” [TWOT] God orders us to do various things and forbids us to do others. It is his voice of authority to us about how to use our lives.
  • commands” — This has the idea of “the instruction of a teacher to his pupil” [TWOT], Proverbs 2:1; 3:1. It is used of the Ten Words. Exodus 24:12.
  • fear” — This is an unusual way of referring to God’s word. David uses a word to describe the Holy Writings that speaks of the effect they are intended to create in the hearts of those who listen to them. This is the “awe or reverence for God that is the basis for real wisdom.” [TWOT] Job 28:28; Proverbs 9:10; 15:33. The Scriptures may not be treated as abstract principles, but as God’s message that is intended to transform our thinking, feeling and decision-making.
  • ordinances” — “Represents what is doubtless the most important idea for correct understanding of government—whether of man or by man or of the whole creation of God … an ordinance of law.” [TWOT] These are the judicial decisions or verdicts God has given for human situations. Final authority! See Deuteronomy 33:10, 21; it is used 16 times in Psalm 119.

“Together, these terms show the practical purpose of revelation, to bring God’s will to bear on the hearer and evoke intelligent reverence, well-founded trust, detailed obedience.” [Kidner] Read through these verses a few times to receive the cumulative impact of their description of God’s special revelation. Consider what each one means for your world and life view and way of life. How will they transform your view of God’s word?

Grace and peace, David

The Doctrine of the Holy Spirit (Part Six)

20120605_1038432 Peter 1:20-21

Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation of things. For prophecy never had its origin in the human will, but prophets, though human, spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit (NIV).

The Spirit acted in a way that made sure that the content was God’s word: “as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.” The process of the Spirit breathing out the word is full of mystery. This brief phrase is as close as the Spirit comes to explaining his communication of God’s message through human writers. He carried them along, is a forceful expression. Compare the use of the Greek word phero in Mark 2:3; 4:8; 12:15-16; Acts 27:15, 17. But how did he carry them along? “We take the historic fact; but we decline every attempt to explain the inscrutable mode… no finite mind can venture, without presumption, to say how the human faculties concurred and acted with the Spirit’s activity in the expression of a divine oracle” (Smeaton, The Doctrine of the Holy Spirit, p. 166).

As God the Holy Spirit carried along the apostles and prophets, he “did not destroy the author’s individuality and talents, making the whole Bible stereotyped, with one style from Genesis to Revelation—the style of the Holy Spirit—with all the human differences of the writers overridden and ignored” (Palmer, The Holy Spirit, p. 50). Instead, the Holy Spirit acted differently. He used “the experiences of the authors to govern their writing, their different emotions to color their thinking, their individual tastes to be expressed in the Bible” (Ibid.)

Let’s think of some examples. What would the Bible be like without the strong faith of Abraham in Genesis 22, or the repentant prayer of David in Psalm 51, or Paul’s holy passion to know Christ in Philippians 3 or John’s tender exhortation to his dear friends to love one another in 1 John 4? In the Scriptures you see our holy Maker getting down in the muck of human lives to draw forth gems for his glory and our good. You ought to worship a God like that!

The process of the Spirit breathing out the word is full of God’s sovereignty. This is seen in the various ways that he gave the Scriptures (Hebrews 1:1): “dreams, visions, individual illumination and research, as well as ordinary and extraordinary divine providences, are involved in the process” (Ferguson, The Holy Spirit, p. 27).

The Spirit carried along the men who spoke in many ways:

  • By directing their heredity, family upbringing, education and personal history
  • By his continual work in the history of redemption; all stood at a point of history for his selected purpose
  • By his influence on their hearts through previous revelation
  • By applying Christ’s redemptive work to their hearts
  • By in some way revealing God’s mind to them so that they had to speak it, consider Jeremiah (Jeremiah 1:4-10; 15:16; 20:9)
  • By leading them to produce a unified message: the story of God’s glory in Jesus Christ

The Scriptures themselves are one of the brightest witnesses to the sovereign grace of God. The Lord the Spirit reached down among people in conformity with the Father’s choice, molded a life, drew that person to salvation, and worked through them in such a way, so that when they wrote the Scriptures, it was the Spirit of God speaking (2 Samuel 23:2; Matthew 22:43; Acts 4:25; 28:25). Now is the time to worship the Sovereign God, who can so powerfully work in human hearts! And here is hope. The same God still speaks through his word today! He can change your life and the lives of people you love!

Grace and peace, David

A Turning Point

img_4139-edited2 Chronicles 20:14-15a

God made people to be worshipers. We all worship something, whether in a religious format, or the pursuit of created things, or even ourselves, which we usually call pride. If you wonder about the rightness of God commanding us to worship him, I will now simply refer you to John Piper’s book, Desiring God. But now we must see what the Lord does to bring out this desire to worship and praise in Jehoshaphat and his people.

In the account of the life of Jehoshaphat, king of Judah, we can see what we all experience: a clash of good and bad desires. Sometimes we can wonder about ourselves and others! Why do we feel such desires for what is evil and destructive? Why do our lives get out of control? How can we change for the glory of God and the good of others? In this chapter, we have seen Jehoshaphat filled with fear. Yet he counteracted his fear with faith, expressed in leading his nation in prayer. But at the end of the prayer, has anything changed? Does God listen to our prayers? Is it meaningful to pray? Many struggle today at this point, and so we need this part of God’s word to encourage us to pray. It is not that we expect the Lord God to do exactly what he did in this account in answer to his prayer. But we need to learn that God does hear our prayer, and he answers in unexpected ways. I doubt that anyone at that time expected to get the answer given in our text.

In the middle of the congregation, the Spirit of the Lord came on Jahaziel (son of Zechariah, son of Benaiah, son of Jeiel, son of Mattaniah, a Levite from Asaph’s descendants) and he said, “Listen carefully, all Judah and you inhabitants of Jerusalem, and King Jehoshaphat. This is what the Lord says: ‘Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast number, for the battle is not yours, but God’s’” (2 Chronicles 20:14-15 HCSB).

The Spirit of God stepped in to bring radical change to the situation of God’s people. This idea is developed throughout Chronicles. When God tells us stories in his word, the Bible, he wants us to understand ideas about him and the way he relates with his creatures. In Chronicles, the Holy Spirit tells us a few things about his activity, so that we might know its absolute necessity for life and worship.

  • The Spirit worked so that people gathered to support David as king (1 Chronicles 12:18).
  • The Spirit gave the plans for the building of the temple (1 Chronicles 28:12).
  • The Spirit spoke to encourage Asa to act against idolatry (2 Chronicles 15:1).
  • The Spirit enabled Zechariah to stand against the wickedness of Joash near the end of his reign (2 Chronicles 24:20).
  • The Spirit came upon Jahaziel to deliver God’s message to the people.

We only know the truth and power of God’s message when the Spirit is working in its delivery. Otherwise, we are like elementary school students hurrying through the Philadelphia Museum of Art, ignorant of the masterpieces on display. Here, the Spirit of the Lord is active in both the message and their response to it. We ought to pray constantly for the work of the Spirit (1 Thessalonians 1:5).

The Word is the basis of radical change, which the Holy Spirit produces.

  • Our contemporary Christian problem resides very much in extremely low opinions of the Word of God. For example, we do not appreciate its power, as displayed in the creation (Genesis 1; cf. Psalm 33:6-11). In a decaying situation, we remain unmoved, unlike Jeremiah, who knew the power of God’s word (Jeremiah 23:29).
  • The Spirit uses the Word to produce deep change in human hearts (Psalm 19:7-11). All true spirituality comes from and agrees with God’s Word.

Have you ever listened to God’s Word? I mean, not just heard it, but do you pay attention to it? Do its ideas grip you, transform you, and motivate you? How is the Spirit presently using the Word to transform you into the likeness of Christ?

Grace and peace, David

A Dangerous Encounter

IMG_2088Ruth 3:1-9

In the Bible we read of many actions of believing men and women that we are not to imitate, though we are to learn from them. Some of these are easy to discern. For example, Moses and the people of Israel sacrificed a lamb at Passover and sprinkled the blood on the doorposts of their houses. Clearly, we are not obligated to do that, because Jesus Christ is the better and final Passover Lamb. Many actions are controlled by the covenant under which they occur. Circumcision was mandatory under the old covenant, but now it is nothing (Galatians 5:2-6). Other matters were plainly for one event, like walking around the city of Jericho to have its walls fall down. As tempting as it might sound to some, God is not calling you to walk around Congress in session until the walls come down.

On the other hand, the Holy Spirit does want us to see what faith in the living God can accomplish (cf. Hebrews 11; Romans 15:4; cf. 1 Corinthians 10:11). For this reason, we must read the Bible wisely, especially the narrative portions. When you read of someone doing something, pay attention to the historical and covenantal setting. The Lord may simply want you to learn from their faith or their failure to walk in God’s ways.

In our text we read of a dangerous encounter. It was planned by Naomi for the good of her daughter-in-law Ruth. I think that both acted in faith at this point. However, the plan was very risky for many reasons, which we will consider. If parts of the Bible were rated like movies are, this passage would have an “R” rating for language and adult situations. Such accounts do not embarrass God, since he created us as sexual beings, and these are matters that he wants us to think about. So then, let us listen to God’s word.

Naomi came up with a risky plan (3:1-4). To see the risk, we need to understand the historical setting. In that culture, parents were responsible for the marriage of their children (cf. Judges 14:1-3). Ruth, as a widowed daughter-in-law, had put herself under Naomi’s authority. For this reason, Naomi wanted to “find rest” for Ruth; that is, a husband for her. At this point it is reasonable to ask why Naomi simply didn’t approach Boaz directly about marrying Ruth. The Bible provides no answer. Given Israel’s history with Moabite women (Numbers 25: 1-3), some suggest that Boaz might have been reluctant to get involved with Ruth, but then we ask, how would a midnight rendezvous at a threshing floor have improved the situation? We must say that we simply don’t know.

In addition, Naomi seemed to approach this marriage proposal under the concept of a kinsman-redeemer (not levirate marriage, which concerned the responsibility of a brother-in-law toward his deceased brother’s wife, Deuteronomy 25:5-10.) Naomi was not asking Ruth to act like a hussy and throw herself at the first man she meets in a bar. No, Ruth acted as a woman in need of redemption. She sought the liberation of herself and the land inheritance of her deceased father-in-law and deceased husband.

Yet Naomi used a daring method to bring Ruth and Boaz together. Clearly, Naomi had been doing some feminine thinking about this first date! She knew where Boaz would be and that he would be happy from celebrating the threshing of grain, which to him meant a full stomach and a full bank account! This was a perfect time to approach a man! Naomi advised Ruth to make herself attractive, which is a good idea for any young woman who is thinking about marriage. Men usually aren’t that attracted to a woman who is dressed like construction worker in a blue jeans commercial. Appearing clean, feminine and sweet smelling is a better way to attract men. A woman needs to dress for the kind of man she wants to attract. It is possible that Naomi might have been telling Ruth to dress like a bride (cf. Esther 2:12; Ezekiel 16:6-14). However, Naomi sent Ruth into a dangerous situation. She had already spoken to Ruth of the danger of being out alone (2:22), but here she sent Ruth out alone at night to a threshing floor, which was a place of sexual encounter in that culture. (Think a cheap motel for current images in our culture.)

People tend to make plans that have a mixture of good and evil and of wisdom and folly. This is the reason we need counsel continually from God’s word and godly people. So then, what are you currently reading in the Scriptures? Are you part of a small group? Read the Bible together as a small group. I encourage people to do this constantly, because it gives not only mutual accountability but also a basis for shared spiritual knowledge. We need to learn together who we are and what we have in Jesus Christ, so that our way of life would show forth his glory.

Grace and peace, David

Meeting Together

DSCN0604Hebrews 10:25

Not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching

Traditionally, western churches (gatherings of believers) have met in buildings that they own. Over a period of seventeen hundred years, a local church has been very identified with its building, so much so that to talk about “meeting together” became synonymous with going to the church building. For ease of reference, we will call these “edifice churches”. Much of the people, time and monetary resources of edifice churches is consumed by the building. I know this firsthand, because I grew up in such churches, trained for the ministry in edifice churches, and was the pastor in two of them. I mention this because most people think that “meeting together” equals “attendance in the church building at its regular services”.

I say all this to address an attitude difficulty about this verse. Please don’t think of it as a text that a pastor uses to beat his people to attend services in a building. Please don’t think, “Oh no! I know just what he’s going to say, and I’m not going to listen!” Frankly, I am not your judge, and I think we can both give thanks for that! Jesus Christ is your Lord, and he alone must be the Lord of your conscience.

  • If you think that this text is a weapon to clobber you, then I think you misunderstand the nature of a new covenant ministry and of many pastors and teachers who love you. (Sadly I admit that there are many pastors and teachers that are legalists and look for Bible verses to control people who they’re supposed to be serving in love.)
  • If you view any texts of Scripture as clubs, then I think you have been taught about the Bible incorrectly or might have a serious spiritual problem (1 Thessalonians 5:19). Why are you hiding from what God the Holy Spirit says to you in his word?
  • If in this text you hear the voice of the local leaders of your gathering instead of the Lord’s, then I think that you need to reconsider your accountability to the Lord. When I was a pastor of an edifice church, I said the following many times. “If your reason for missing a service is good enough for the Lord, then it had better be good enough for me. But is it good enough for the Lord?”

Now that hopefully we have cleared some of the bogeymen away, let’s listen to what the Holy Spirit says in this Biblical text.

The writer of Hebrews confronts a grievous problem. Some were in the habit of staying away from the gatherings of God’s people. They were giving up meeting together.

Let’s consider a couple possible explanations for their conduct.

  • Fear of suffering because of persecution: Across the world many followers of Jesus Christ constantly live with this fear.
  • Spiritual laziness: the cares of this life have a greater importance than the values of the spiritual life, including loving one’s brothers and sisters in Christ
  • Unbelief (Hebrews 3:12) – this is secret at first but gradually becomes known; someone looks like a convert, but they have not been changed. Spurgeon told of such a person in his autobiography, the converted “wild man”. He looked good at first, but he had never counted the cost (Luke 14:25-33). Soon, he was absent from God’s people.

What is the special concern of this text? It is not dealing with the questions of when and how often. It says nothing about which day of the week that Christians should have for our gatherings. It also says nothing about the number of times that we should meet in any given time period. It clearly says nothing about going to a meeting in a building to fulfill some sort of an obligation to God.

Instead, the text is directly speaking to the issue of forsaking the assembling of Christ’s people, period. “Some people are not among your gatherings; don’t follow their wrong example.”

Here are some additional clarifications:

  • This verse has nothing to say about what may or may not be valid reasons for not attending any particular meeting. Everyone wants to start asking questions at this point. Illness? Death in the family? Employment? Distance? Vacation? Old age? Something else? You are adult sons and daughters in God’s family, and your Father in heaven expects you to figure this out without a direct word from your local leaders.
  • Instead, this passage refers to those who abandon meeting with the other followers of Christ. The person knows that their local assembly is meeting. He or she could be here if he or she wanted to be, but he or she doesn’t. Something else is more important to him or her than public worship and mutual fellowship. One thing that I have learned over the years is that people basically do what they want to do. To those who forsake meeting with your brothers and sisters in Christ, I would simply ask, “Why don’t you want to be with them?”

Next time in this passage, we’ll talk more about what this means in a positive sense. But for now, think about how important it is for you to be with other followers of the Lord Jesus on a regular basis. You need to be opening your heart and sharing your life with them. 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