Major Beliefs Day 38 – Who We Are (Ecclesiastes 12)
Ecclesiastes 12: 13 -“The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep His Commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.”
Solomon had it all and if he hadn’t tried it all he had tried most of it. He had untold riches and power and because of that he was able to have everything that he thought that he wanted. He pursued pleasure and all of the things of the world with reckless abandon. In the process what he found out however was that there was no joy in the things of the world. Looking at his life through the eyes of the world Solomon had it all, and yet what he had was absolute emptiness. Thats why so many times throughout the book of Ecclesiastes Solomon cries out “vanity, vanity all is vanity,”
He had it all but his life was empty. He had tried to tie his identity to his wealth, his fame, his success, his pleasure, but to no avail, life was still empty. Why? Because he wasn’t designed and created for those things. He was designed and created to bring God glory and those things fell short of that. So his life was nothing but emptiness.
People today do the same thing don’t they? They try to find their identity in how they look, their bank accounts, their degrees, their possessions, their accomplishments, even in their children’s success, but yet their lives are still empty. Why? Because as Augustine said 1700 years ago “we are created with a God shaped hole and the only thing that can fill that hole is God Himself.” Augustine had a right to say that because he, just like Solomon had pursued the things of the world with reckless abandon, only to come up empty. Why? Because he wasn’t created for those things. He was created, just as we are to have a relationship with God through the Lord Jesus Christ and to bring Him glory. That is why we were created, and it must truly be our identity. “Fear God and keep His commandments it really is the whole duty of man”.
Major Beliefs Day 37 – Wonderfully Made (Psalm 139)
Psalm 139: 13-14 -“For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb, I praise you, for l am fearfully and wonderfully made.”
God’s creative power is absolutely mind boggling and at the apex of His creation is us: humanity created in His image. We are the top of His creation and we are truly fearfully and wonderfully made. Because of that the psalmist cries out that he will praise God. He praised God for His creative power but also because God has knitted him together, which implies that God has a plan for his life. And he also praises God because if God has created him and if God has formed him in his mother’s womb then God knows everything about him. The thought of this is so wonderful that the psalmist breaks out in praise. God created him, God knows him, and God loves him, these facts are so amazing that the psalmist simply must give God glory.
These are life changing facts not only for the psalmist, but also for us. God created us, He created us with a purpose, as our Creator He knows all about us, and He loves us. These are transformational facts, and because of them we must praise as well. We must glorify God, it becomes our identity. Because we are loved, because we are known, because we are created by God, and created with a purpose we must praise Him. We must glorify Him because we are fearfully and wonderfully made. In fact that is our identity, we are God’s creation, loved by Him, known by Him, and created with a purpose, That is our identity, it is who we are. Above all else we are God’s creation and as such we belong to Him,
Major Beliefs Day 36 – Who am I? (Psalm 8)
Psalm 8: 3-4 -“When I look at your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon, and the stars, which You have set in place, what is man that You are mindful of him, and the son of man that You care for him”
I can’t read Psalm 8 without thinking of the Casting Crowns song, “Who Am I?” It says who am I that the Lord of all the earth would care to know my name, would care to feel my hurt, who am I that the Bright and Morning Star would choose to light the way for my even wandering heart.” Those are good questions, questions certainly inspired by David in Psalm 8. David himself was inspired as he looked at the vastness and the beauty and the splendour of God’s creation. He was the king, he was a great warrior, he was an accomplished musician and songwriter. He appeared to have it all, respect, power, money, success. You name it and David had it, but when David, the warrior king looked at the greatness of God, and compared his life to God’s splendor he realized he was nothing.
Yet he realized that even in his nothingness, even with all of his limitations, and failures and problems that God still loved him and cared for him. And so he asked the question that had to be asked, who am I, God that You care for me? Why do You love me? And of Course the further realization, I am loved not because of anything I have done, but I’m loved because that is the character of God. For years the Gospel was presented almost as if a lonely God needed a relationship with us. This Psalm however makes it clear that the God of the universe definitely doesn’t need us frail human beings, and in fact the Bible declares that God has need of nothing. Further He has no need of relationship because within the Trinity there is perfect harmony of relationship? God doesn’t need us, but still He is mindful of us and He cares for us.
So because of that we ought to be asking David’s question even more today. Asking it even more because today we see the full measure of the love of God displayed on the wondrous cross. We see that God loved us enoughvto send Jesus so that we could be saved. So we ought to be asking who am I that God loves me? Whether we ask it standing in the shadows of great mountains, looking into the eyes of our children, or simply basking in the forgiveness and grace of God, who are we that the God of all the universe would choose to love us and care for us.Who are we that Jesus would choose to die for us? Isaiah gives us at least part of the answer in Isaiah 43, “we are His beloved,” Other passages tell us that we are children of God, adopted into His family because we are covered by His precious blood. Who am I? Just simply a sinner saved by the marvelous, matchless, infinite grace of the loving Lord! To God be the glory.
A Better Word
Hebrews 12:24- “and to Jesus the mediator of a new covenant and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.”
Horatio Bonar wrote a book in the 1800s entitled simply, “The Blood of Christ.” And in this short book he expands on the power of Jesus’ blood. He says the blood of Jesus speaks a better word than the blood of Abel. Abel’s blood, he says speaks of enmity and strife between brothers because it was poured out because of the sin of his brother, Cain. Abel’s blood cries out from the ground and screams tension and conflict.
Jesus’ blood however doesn’t speak any of those things it speaks the word reconciliation, it shouts the word peace. It brings reconciliation to brothers but even more importantly it brings reconciliation between us and a Holy God.
Without the blood of Christ the Bible makes it abundantly clear that we are enemies of God because of our wickedness and our sins. Through His blood however we can have our sins forgiven, we can be cleansed, we can be declared righteous, and because of that we can be reconciled to God. As the Bible says, “we can have peace with God through the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ.”
Peace not Strife, the blood of Jesus really does speak a better word. To God be the glory!
Major Beliefs Day 33- “The Full Armor” (Ephesians 6)
Ephesians 6: 11 -” Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil.”
Our church recently began a self defense class and just last week we offered a ladies self-defense seminar. It seems hard to believe but its very important to know how to protect yourself in the world we live in. People are always coming up with new ways to “steal, kill, and destroy,” inspired of course by the very one who started it all in the garden of Eden. Because of that I believe its important to know how to protect yourself and your family.
As important as that is however it is infinitely more important to be able to protect yourself and your loved ones from the attacks of the devil. The Bible makes it abundantly clear that he is like a roaring lion roaming around seeking someone to devour. He is looking for those opportune times to lead us into temptation and sin. So what do we do? We realize the seriousness of his attacks and we do as Paul says here, and we put on the full armor of God. We take up the:
* the belt of truth(dwelling on the truth of the word of God).
*the breastplate of righteousness (which has to be Jesus’ righteousness imputed to us, since we aren’t righteous on our own, see 2 Corinthians 5: 21)
* the shoes of the gospel of peace ( remembering daily Jesus’ sacrifice for us on the cross and being ready to share that Good news with other people)
* the shield of faith (knowing that Jesus “is our refuge and strength, “that He is our hiding place)
* the helmet of salvation ( remembering again the Gospel, and what Jesus accomplished for us in giving us salvation. Keeping this wonderful truth always on our minds and being continually thankful for it)
* and finally taking up the of the sword of the Spirit (knowing and using the word of God and letting it be applied to our lives daily).
If we do those things AND we humble ourselves before God in prayer each day we will be able to Stand Strong against all the temptations of the evil one. God is good and thankfully even though life can be hard and temptations abound we don’t face them alone , God goes with us promising to never leave us or forsake us. To God be the glory!
I have written a book review for Keller’s excellent book, The First Christian, it can be found at graceforsinners.com, which is a great website with many Christ centered resources
Major Beliefs Day 30 – Opportune Time (Luke 4)
Luke 4:13.” And when the devil had ended every temptation, he departed from Him until an opportune time.”
The devil came at Jesus, and he came at Him hard. Jesus had been 40 days without food. He was hungry, he was probably thirsty. He was exhausted and there in that opportune time, the devil came rushing in, thinking if I can make Jesus stumble and fall then the battle is over and I’ve won. Make no mistake about it the entire fate of the world hung in the balance as Satan bombard Jesus on His weakest day.
We may not look at this story that way, we’ve read it and heard it so much we don’t appreciate it. We probably don’t even see the drama of it but in reality with each temptation there was an opportunity for failure. Jesus certainly was God come in the flesh but He was also flesh, He was also man, and as a man He could have given in to temptation . He Could have fallen into sin but thankfully He didn’t . If He would have Satan would have won and Salvation would have been impossible. It was a battle of cosmic and epic proportions
Our response to temptation doesn’t have those kind of ramifications but there is still consequences to our giving into sin. That’s why Peter reminds to “be on the alert because our enemy prowls around like a roaring lion seeking whom he can devour.” And its certainly why Jesus tells us that the “thief comes to steal, kill, and destroy.” Someone said he wants to steal away the joy of our salvation, he wants to kill our Christian witness and he wants to destroy God’s plan for our life. That’s what he wanted as he bombarded Jesus and its what he wants for us as well. That’s why it is important how we respond to temptation.
We must respond like Jesus who stood strong in His weakest moment by clinging to God the Father, when Jesus stood strong the devil left, not permantly but until another opportune time. There are plenty of opportune times to hit us isn’t there? Opportunities aboud, but like Jesus we must stand strong by relying on God the Father. Relying on His word, His Strength, His love, and His truth. We must rely on Him or we find ourselves swept away by the flood of temptations that we face each day.