Nov. 30 God's Love

Monday, November 30, 2009

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November 30 - God's Love

One of the greatest mysteries to me is that the God of the Universe, the God of all Creation, loves me. The kind of love that He brings to the relationship with mankind as a whole and each of us individually is beyond anything that I can comprehend. From the moment He created man, He loved us.

Jeremiah says "The Lord appeared to us in the past, saying: 'I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving kindness.'" (Jeremiah 31:3)

Throughout all of history, we find God working to bring His people into a close relationship with Him. We fought against it, we continue to fight against it - through deliberate means, through apathy ... over and over, we miss out on the one loving relationship that will never fail us.

When God saw that it was time, He sent Jesus - God's Word - to earth so that every single person would have the chance to spend eternity with Him. He doesn't want to miss out on that relationship with any of us!

"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life." (John 3:16)

"But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us." (Romans 5:8)

This continues to be the single, greatest gift we could be given.

"But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions - it is by grace you have been saved." (Ephesians 2:4-5)

God's grace, mercy and great love for us enables us to be saved from ourselves - from the mistakes we make (whether in error or deliberately).

I love this last verse - what a great use of the word "lavish." God loves us more than we can ever absorb.

"How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!" (1 John 3:1)

Nov. 29 Angels

Sunday, November 29, 2009

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November 29 - Angels

I don't like to spend a lot of time talking about angels because I fear that it is too easy to focus on them, not on God, who sends them to care for us. But, angels are quite mysterious to us and reveal another aspect of God. We easily accept the fact that there are angels, many people have seen them, we see the work they do while on earth, we read and hear stories about people's interactions with angels.

"For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways." (Psalm 91:11)

"In all their distress he too was distressed, and the angel of his presence saved them." (Isaiah 63:9)

These angels were sent to minister to our needs. We find an angel protecting Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego in the fiery furnace. (Daniel 3:13-27)

An angel shut the mouth of the lions to rescue Daniel. (Daniel 6:16-23)

In Mark 1:13, we read that angels attended Jesus when he was tempted by Satan and was in the desert for forty days.

In Luke 16:22, Jesus tells us that angels carried the beggar Lazarus to Abraham's side in heaven while the rich man went to hell and in Acts 5:19, we find an angel releasing the apostles from prison to preach the message in the temple courts.

The response to the church's prayers for Peter were answered when the night before Herod brought Him to trial, an angel appeared, woke Peter and escorted him from prison. (Acts 12:1-25)

Hebrews 1:14 says, "Are not all angels ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation?"

God's tender love for us is revealed through these servants who surround us and serve us in ways we can never comprehend. Sometimes we are fortunate enough to recognize their presence around us, but most of the time we are oblivious to the fact that God has placed us in the care of His servants. It all just seems so amazing to me when I consider the reality of His presence on earth. I would be completely overwhelmed if I only saw a bit of it. I am, however, thankful that He interacts with me, even when I don't see Him.

Nov. 28 Resurrection Appearances

Saturday, November 28, 2009

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November 28 - Resurrection Appearances

There are a lot of fantastic things that I seem to take for granted until they are set before me as a 'fantastic' thing. I read a lot of science fiction, so am probably more accepting of things and ideas that surpass what I know as reality, but I also have been exposed to the supernatural power of God for my entire life and hence, take the reality of the resurrection for granted.

This is a mystery! That a man could die a hideous death, be in a tomb and then through the power of God, come to life again, fully resurrected is a mystery!

Christ appeared to many people. There is simply no way to deny the truth of what they saw. It wasn't just two or three of his best friends and closest followers, it was to many, many people.

If you read this on the blog, and hover your mouse over the scripture verse, it should pop the verse up on your computer screen for you.

He appeared to Mary Magdalene (Mark 16:9)

He appeared to other women (Matthew 28:9)

He appeared to two disciples (Luke 24:15)

He appeared to eleven disciples (Luke 24:36)

He appeared to Peter (1 Corinthians 15:5)

He appeared to the ten - Thomas was absent (John 20:19)

He appeared to eleven disciples (John 20:26)

He appeared at the Sea of Galilee (John 21:1)

He appeared to five hundred brothers (1 Corinthians 15:6)

He appeared to eleven disciples in Galilee (Matthew 28:17)

He appeared to James (1 Corinthians 15:7)

He appeared at the time of his ascension (Luke 24:50)

He appeared to Paul at his conversion (Acts 9:5, 1 Corinthians 15:8)

Jesus was not shy about showing up and allowing people to recognize him in his resurrected form. This mystery is unexplainable, but it is an amazing gift to us!

Nov. 27 Nature's Mysteries

Friday, November 27, 2009

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November 27 - Nature's Mysteries

It's interesting to realize that some of the things the scripture writers believed to be mysteries and secrets unrevealed, have been made known by science. However, there are still so many things that we don't fully understand and that only serves to make me believe more strongly in God as Creator!

Psalm 139:15, "My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place."

We understand the miracle of birth and the creation of the human body so much more than the Psalmist possibly could, but we still consider it an amazing miracle! That simple cells could develop into a human being will always be a mystery.

"As you do not know the path of the wind, or how the body is formed in a mother's womb, so you cannot understand the work of God, the Maker of all things." Ecclesiastes 11:5

Meteorology has to be one of the most frustrating jobs. Predicting the path of a storm, or the coming weather changes, while considered a science, is still a mystery to most - and relatively unsuccessful. I suspect that with time, the mysteries of the climate will be revealed to us and we will be able to fully predict the coming weather ... but, God has left us much to learn.

"Night and day, whether he sleeps or gets up, the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how." Mark 4:27

I have been traveling through Iowa and have thoroughly enjoyed watching this year's harvest occur. There are massive grain storage facilities on my route and Cargill Seed Company has facilities that I pass regularly. These people know about grain. They know how it works, they understand the science of it. I wonder if they still see the miracle in the growing of a crop.

John 3:8, "The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit."

The mysteries of nature, the mysteries of man ... we can not know, we can not always predict. That is the way it is with the Spirit. But, we can know that God has all of this in His hands. That is where I rest comfortably.

Nov. 26 Giving Thanks

Thursday, November 26, 2009

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I'll interrupt our regularly scheduled programming for something a bit more applicable to the day.

We are commanded to give thanks to God all throughout scripture. It seems like such a simple thing to do, yet it is also so easy to forget.

"When you have eaten and are satisfied, praise the Lord your God for the good land he has given you." (Deuteronomy 8:10)

"Give thanks to the Lord, call on his name; make known among the nations what he has done." (1 Chronicles 15:8)

"Sacrifice thank offerings to God, fulfill your vows to the Most High ..." (Psalm 50:14)

Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name." (Psalm 100:4)

"Let them sacrifice thank offerings and tell of his works with songs of joy." (Psalm 107:22)

"Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ." (Ephesians 5:19-20)

"Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God." (Philippians 4:6)

"And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him." (Colossians 3:17)

"Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus." (1 Thessalonians 5:18)

"For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving ..." (1 Timothy 4:4)

From beginning to end, we are told to give thanks, no matter the circumstance, no matter our concerns. God is the author of all things, the giver of everything we have, He is worthy to receive our praise AND our thanksgiving.

I give Him thanks every day for everything He has done for me.

We had a tradition in our household. It began with 5 kernels of seed corn on our plates. Before we had the feast, we gave thanks for five things in our lives. Fortunately over the years, Dad graduated to cooked corn and then candy corn. Those were much more palatable, but the tradition was the same. On this day of giving thanks, we recognized God as our provider. Tomorrow, people around this country will be offering gratitude for all that they have. What a glorious celebration!

Nov. 25 The Incarnation

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

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November 25 - The Incarnation

Christ reveals God to us, but His birth was a revelation. God revealed His connection to humanity with the birth of Christ. He not only is our Creator, but He wants us to know and understand Him so that we can have the relationship with Him that He wants.

"Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel." (Isaiah 7:14)

"For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace." (Isaiah 9:6)

It would have been one thing for God to send an angel, a heavenly being to earth to interact with us, but He did so much more than that. He sent His Son to be human. Jesus was so far above humanity because of His divinity, but this was a chance for God to make Himself known to the people of earth in a way that they could fully understand. He became just like us.

"You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus." (Luke 1:31)

"The Word became flesh and lived for a while among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth." (John 1:14)

"For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the sinful nature, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in sinful man." (Romans 8:3)

"...but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness." (Philippians 2:7)

"Beyond all question, the mystery of godliness is great: He appeared in a body, was vindicated by the Spirit, was seen by angels, was preached among the nations, was believed on in the world, was taken up in glory." (1 Timothy 3:16)

God revealed Himself to us in a form we would be comfortable with - a man. A man who walked on this earth among friends and enemies, who taught us what it was like to have a friendship with God.

"This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God." (1 John 4:2)

December posts

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

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Advent is a time of preparation.

Most of us understand that we are preparing for the coming of Jesus, but what many of us don't know is that Advent is actually a time of preparing for the Second Coming of Christ. While we celebrate His birth on Christmas, we prepare our hearts for His return during Advent.

This Advent (well, the month of December), I'm going to take us through the Bible's prophetic texts regarding Jesus' return. We'll look at the Old Testament, the Gospels, Paul's letters and the other New Testament writer's writings about His return and then spend time in the Revelation.

Since I haven't yet mapped out the outline, there is every possibility that this might take us into January as well.

If you know someone that would get something out of this study, please invite them to read the blog, or ask them to email me at -- nammynools (@) cox (.) net -- and I will get them on the daily email list. Otherwise, they can follow me at the blog or subscribe to the RSS feed.

What does the Bible actually say about the return of Christ? The first thing we need to know is that He is coming back. The second thing we need to know is that He calls us to be prepared. As we prepare our homes and families for the celebration of Christ's birth, let us prepare our hearts for His return.

Nov. 24 Divine Instruction

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November 24 - Divine Instruction

They call us lifelong learners. For me, that is something I never want to lose, that desire to learn and take in information.

"Since my youth, O God, you have taught me, and to this day I declare your marvelous deeds." (Psalm 71:17)

Knowing that God is concerned with instructing me with what He wants me to know is very exciting to me! Can you simply imagine learning from the Creator of the Universe? Oh my goodness, that's exciting!

Jeremiah 32:33 says, "They turned their backs to me and not their faces; though I taught them again and again, they would not listen or respond to discipline."

He taught them again and again ... His patience never wavers, He takes great pains to ensure that His children learn. This is the kind of teacher that many of us need, especially when it comes to learning how to hear God speak and what it is that He wants from us.

"It is written in the Prophets: 'They will all be taught by God.' Everyone who listens to the Father and learns from him comes to me." (John 6:45)

"Surely you heard of him and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus." (Ephesians 4:21)

1 Thessalonians 4:9, "Now about brotherly love we do not need to write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love each other."

We have a God who continually works with us to help us learn. As much as I love information and knowledge, He wants me to learn about the relationship with Him and with the world. I have spent a lifetime learning about this relationship I have with God. I want to know everything I can about Him.

Mom took a writing class at the University of Iowa. She came home after her first day all excited. Her professor was David Morrell, the author of First Blood. She was going to learn with a relatively famous published author. The very best part of the learning I experience is that I get to have the author of creation as my instructor!

God reveals Himself to us through the things that He teaches us. This is individual instruction at its very best.

Nov. 23 God Appears

Monday, November 23, 2009

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November 23 - God Appears

I often wonder about the time when God actually stopped appearing to man on earth. He and Abram managed to spend some time together:

"Abram traveled through the land ... The Canaanites were then in the land, but the Lord appeard to Abram and said, 'to your offspring I will give this land.'" (Genesis 12:6-7)

"When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the Lord appeared to him and said, 'I am God Almighty; walk before me and be blameless. I will confirm my covenant between me and you and will greatly increase your numbers.'" (Genesis 17:1)

"The Lord appeared to Abraham near the great trees of Mamre while he was sitting at the entrance to his tent in the heat of the day." (Genesis 18:1)

Then, he spent time with Isaac:

"The Lord appeared to Isaac and said, 'Do not go down to Egypt; live in the land where I tell you to live..." (Genesis 26:2)

And then with Jacob:

"After Jacob returned from Paddan Aram, God appeared to him again and blessed him." (Genesis 35:9)

We know that God talked to Moses - first from the burning bush, but look at what Exodus 3:16 says. "Go, assemble the elders of Israel and say to them, 'The Lord, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, appeared to me and said: I have watched over you and have seen what has been done to you in Egypt."

God uses other means to communicate with His people until we come to 1 Kings 3:4-5, "The king went to Gibeon to offer sacrifices, for that was the most important high place, and Solomon offered a thousand burnt offerings on that altar. At Gibeon the Lord appeared to Solomon during the night in a dream, and God said, 'Ask for whatever you want me to give you.'"

"When Solomon had finished building the temple of the Lord and the royal palace, and had achieved all he had desired to do, the Lord appeared to him a second time, as he had appeared to him at Gibeon." (1 Kings 9:2)

Now, having the Lord God Almighty show up to have a conversation with me would probably cause me to fall apart at the seams. I'd much rather He sent angels or prophets. But, He had important things to bring to His children as they were developing the relationship that Israel had with Him.

The further that they got from Him because of their sin, though, the more difficult it was for any of them to actually be in His presence.

I will be fine with seeing Him in all of His glory when I get to the throneroom. I can hardly wait to experience that moment!

Nov. 22 His Word a Light

Sunday, November 22, 2009

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November 22 - His Word a Light

I remember first hearing Amy Grant sing "Thy Word is a Lamp Unto My Feet." The discovery of those words in Scripture were amazing to me. Because that's the way I had always felt about the Bible and there was the verse that described what I was feeling.

Muslims feel about the Qur'an the way we feel about Jesus Christ. The words that were given to Muhammad over a period of 23 years by the angel Gabriel came directly from God. They weren't interpreted by man, or inspired by God, they were from God, just as we believe Jesus came directly from God. Muslims believe that Arabic is the heavenly language, so the only way to really understand the Qur'an is to speak it in that language. It's an amazing bit of faith. They are as committed to those words as we are to the knowledge that Jesus is the only way to the Father.

While there are some people that believe the Bible was given directly to men by God, that's not a prevalent belief within Christianity. We acknowledge that it is divinely inspired - God-breathed (2 Timothy 3:16-17), but not inerrant and not spoken directly by God, unless we consider the words of Jesus and several other portions. God placed His blessing upon this book and I believe that it is composed of His words to us. I believe that through the centuries, God continues to ensure that it is correct and has worked through man to correct errors and assist us to understand it in the proper manner.

I also believe that God reveals Himself to us through this book.

"The precepts of the Lord are right, giving joy to the heart. The commands of the Lord are radiant, giving light to the eyes." (Psalm 19:8)

"Your word is a lamp to my feet and light for my path. (Psalm 119:105)

"The entrance of your words give light; it gives understanding to the simple." (Psalm 119:130)

"For these commands are a lamp; this teaching is a light, and the corrections of discipline are the way to life." (Proverbs 6:23)

All of this makes sense as we read Peter's words: "And we have the word of the prophets made more certain, and you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts." (2 Peter 1:19)

God's revelation of Himself through the Bible, through His words are a light that makes it able for us to see in the darkness that surrounds us.

When I get to the cabin in the middle of the night, there is never a light shining for me to find my way. I rely on my headlights to get down the lane and ensure that I arrive at the front door without incident. The first thing I do is flip on the outside light. If I come back in the dark another day, that light is on. It's warm, welcoming and shines through the black night that fills the area.

God, through scripture, fills the night with light. It's a safe place to be when darkness surrounds us.

Nov. 21 The Finger of God

Saturday, November 21, 2009

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November 21 - The Finger of God

I just love discovering things in scripture that I didn't put together previously. There are many references to the Finger of God. Who knew? I knew about the episode in Daniel (and we'll get to that), but there are others.

In Exodus 8, God is releasing the plagues on Egypt to convince Pharaoh that it is time to release the Israelites. The magicians are able to keep up for awhile and match the plagues, but by the time it comes to the gnats, they just couldn't do it. Their response to Pharaoh in Exodus 8:19 is "This is the finger of God." But, Pharaoh wouldn't listen.

In Exodus 31:18, the Lord was with Moses on Mt. Sinai giving him the tablets of the Testimony. "When the Lord finished speaking to Moses on Mount Sinai, he gave him the two tablets of the Testimony, the tablets of stone inscribed ... by the finger of God." Isn't that amazing? Imagine the power behind those words. God inscribed them Himself.

David says in Psalm 8:3, "When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place ..."

The work of God's fingers. We see His handiwork day after day. It was God's fingers that put each star into place. He didn't consider it tedious or taxing. He placed each star where it belonged with tender, loving care, never worrying about how long it might take or if anyone else would ever see it.

In Daniel 5 we find King Belshazzar, the son of Nebuchadnezzar, drinking from the blessed goblets that had been taken from the temple in Jerusalem. All of a sudden, fingers appeared and wrote on the wall. "Mene, Mene, Tekel, Parsin."

Daniel interpreted the words in Daniel 5:26-28. "Your days are numbered by God and have come to an end (this was said twice for effect), You have been weighed on the scales and found wanting. Your kingdom will be divided and given to the Medes and Persians."

That night, it all came true.

Jesus speaks of the finger of God in Luke 11 when He speaks to the crowd about Beelzebub. You can find it in Luke 11:20.

Our fingers do the work of creation. When I knit or paint, type (write), when my mother created sculptures or when I play the piano ... fingers are involved in doing the actual work. God's fingers reveal another portion of His creativity!

Nov. 20 The Holy Spirit

Friday, November 20, 2009

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November 20 - The Holy Spirit

God revealed Himself to the world as the Holy Spirit several times.

In Matthew 3:16, we read, "As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and lighting on him."

John the Baptist told others about this event in John 1:32, "Then John gave this testimony: 'I saw the Spirit come down from heaven as a dove and remain on him.'"

In Acts 2:3, the Spirit doesn't come down as a dove, He shows up as tongues of fire. "They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them."

I don't know about you, but I love the fact that God reveals Himself to us in so many different ways. We see Him in the form of Jesus, in varying forms of the Holy Spirit and in many different forms as God Almighty.

During both of the Comparative Religion courses, there seemed to be a point where everyone in the class was questioning the need and appropriateness of the various denominations, feeling as if this was more of a dividing issue than it needed to be. However, there was no one that could offer anything that each of us could actually fully accept. No one doctrine, no one form of worship. They varied in how people should dress when attending church, what the building should look like, on and on. Yet, even through all of that, they could not see how diversity was healthy.

I'm grateful for a God who presents Himself to me in many forms. I still know that He is one God, the same God. But, when I need to be prodded and pushed, I don't need a gentle dove. I probably need tongues of fire under my butt! Sometimes I need to see God as the mighty King, ruler of everything, because I need to understand that even in my weakness, He is strong.

Our God chooses to continually be creative in the ways that He reveals Himself to mankind. For this, I can only offer praise and thanksgiving.

Nov. 19 Signs to Confirm Faith

Thursday, November 19, 2009

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November 19 - Signs to Confirm Faith

I've spent a lot of time wondering whether or not God is real. Does He care enough about me to answer my prayers? Am I praying correctly so that He will answer? Why won't He just show me what the answers are to my questions! On and on and on.

Now, in reality, most of these question come up when I'm frustrated. In my normal existence, I'm very confident of God's presence in my life, but sometimes I just need a concrete response to my queries.

He actually did that a lot in the Bible. For me it is good to remind myself that God revealed Himself to His people through signs that seemed to give them courage to proceed.

For instance, Gideon needed an answer and God answered by making the floor dry, but a wool fleece wet with dew and the next night, the ground was wet, but the fleece was dry. (Judges 6:36-40)

King Jeroboam had built shrines to other gods and finally a prophet came to him. He prophesied that a sign would come from the Lord - the altar would be split apart and the ashes on it poured out. (1 Kings 13:3). Funny thing. Jeroboam refused to believe, he tried to have the prophet killed ... the altar split.

King Hezekiah needed a sign from the Lord that He would do as He promised. Isaiah told Hezekiah that the Lord would send a sign and that Hezekiah could choose. Should a shadow move forward or backward. Hezekiah choose backward, the shadow moved back ten steps on a stairway. The Lord sent a sign to prove His faithfulness. (2 Kings 20:8-11)

In Isaiah 7:14, we find the promise of the coming Messiah. This was a sign that the entirety of Israel would be watching for, "Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son and will call him Immanuel."

The angel of the Lord announced the birth of the Messiah to the shepherds with the words, This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger."

In scripture, prophets and angels announce the signs that reveal the Lord. It might be easier for us to recognize them if we had those intermediaries pointing the way for us, but the Lord does give us signs. There are miracles and wonders that He performs around us, for us and through us. But now, we have to actually pay attention and recognize them for what they are.

Nov. 18 Glory of God

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

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November 18 - Glory of God

Yesterday I wrote about the Shekinah - the presence of God ... in the clouds, in the fire that led the people of Israel. When God was present on earth, it was called Shekinah. (shuh - kine' - uh).

There are actually quite a few references to this in scripture and I want to look at some more of those today.

Exodus 24:17, "To the Israelites the glory of the Lord looked like a consuming fire on top of the mountain."

The glory of the Lord is something that I don't know if we fully understand. The Baker Encyclopedia of the Bible says that it refers to God's majestic beauty and splendor and the recognition of that by people on earth. But, the other part of God's glory is His holiness.

In Psalm 19:1, we find that the "heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands." He is the King of glory in Psalm 24 and in Psalm 57:5 we find that He is exalted above the heavens and His glory is over all the earth. He is jealous of His glory in Isaiah 42:8, "I am the Lord; that is my name! I will not give my glory to another or my praise to idols."

God's glory is proclaimed by creation and is a great theme of praise by mankind!

Glory also refers to the dwelling of God with man - Shekinah. When the temple was destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar and then rebuilt, God's Shekinah glory never returned to the temple. The people of earth didn't see a return until Jesus was born.

Luke 2:9, "An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified."

With Jesus' birth, God returned to earth to dwell among His people.

John 1:14 says, "The Word became flesh and lived for awhile among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth."

Stephen sees the glory of God in Acts 7:55 and Saul is blinded by it in Acts 9:3.

We will see the glory of God when Jesus returns to usher in the New Kingdom. Revelation 10:11-12, "And he carried me away in the Spirit to a mountain great and high, adn showed me the Holy City, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God. It shone with the glory of God, and its brilliance was like that of a very precious jewel, like a jasper, clear as crystal."

God's glory is present. Praise the Lord!

Nov. 17 Shekinah Glory

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

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November 17 - Shekinah Glory!

Do you remember the scene in the first Indiana Jones movie where they uncovered the Ark and everyone that had their eyes open died? Did you shake your head at the audacity of it? Well, maybe a little bit?

Let's look at a few verses. I think that Steven Spielberg might not have been as far off as we believe.

Exodus 40:34-35. "Then the cloud covered the Tent of Meeting, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle. Moses could not enter the Tent of Meeting because the cloud had settled upon it, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle."

Leviticus 16:2. "The Lord said to Moses: 'Tell your brother Aaron not to come whenever he chooses into the Most Holy Place behind the curtain in front of the atonement cover on the ark, or else he will die, because I appear in the cloud over the atonement cover."

Sounds a little ominous, doesn't it?

You see, God promised that He would meet Moses there.

Exodus 25:21. "Place the cover on top of the ark and put in the ark the Testimony, which I will give you. There, above the cover between the two cherubim that are over the ark of the Testimony, i will meet with you and give you all my commands for the Israelites."

God planned to show up there. This is called the mercy seat.

Look at 1 Kings 8:10, "When the priests withdrew from the Holy Place, the cloud filled the temple of the Lord. And the priests could not perform their service because of the cloud, for the glory of the Lord filled his temple." (also 2 Chronicles 5:13)

The Psalmist knows that the Lord resides there. "Hear us, O Shepherd of Israel, you who lead Joseph like a flock; you who sit enthroned between the cherubim, shine forth ..." (Psalm 80:1)

Isaiah 37:16, "O Lord Almighty, God of Israel, enthroned between the cherubim, you alone are God over all the kingdoms of the earth."

Ezekiel 9:3, "Now the glory fo the God of Israel went up from above the cherubim, where it had been, and moved to the threshold of the temple."

When God spent time on earth, He did so from between the cherubim on the lid of the Ark of the Covenant. The word "Shekinah" comes from the Hebrew root meaning 'to dwell.' It is translated as the 'presence of God.' God's presence in the cloud - His glory fills the temple. He is present.

Nov. 16 Clouds & Fire

Monday, November 16, 2009

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November 16 - God Revealed in Cloud & Fire Pillars

"By day the Lord went ahead of them in a pillar of cloud to guide them on their way and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, so that they could travel by day or night. Neither the pillar of cloud by day nor the pillar of fire by night left its place in front of the people." (Exodus 13:21-22)

Before the Israelites even got the to the Red Sea, God had established that He would travel with them and guide them!

Look at the next chapter - Exodus 14:19. The Egyptians have come upon them and the Israelites are terrified. God moves from in front of the people to the back coming between them and the armies of Egypt. Then, Moses stretched out his hand and the sea was split so the Israelites could pass through.

Not only was God guiding them, but He stood in protection for them.

This is the presence of God standing in the midst of His people! Once the Tabernacle was designed and constructed, we see that the people looked for the cloud to show up at the Tent of Meeting to speak with Moses. When God did this, the people would stand in the entrances of their tents and worship. (Exodus 33:10)

Just as an aside, read Exodus 33:11, "The Lord would speak to Moses face to face, as a man speaks with his friend." Those words just touched my heart ... what an amazing relationship. Anyway ...

The people of Israel counted on God to travel with them through their journey. "In all the travels of the Israelites, whenever the cloud lifted from above the tabernacle, they would set out; but if the cloud did not lift, they did not set out - until the day it lifted. So the cloud of the Lord was over the tabernacle by day, and fire was in the cloud by night, in the sight of all the house of Israel during all their travels." (Exodus 40:36-38)

We see a little more detail in Numbers 9:15-23. The Israelites moved or remained in place based on the Lord's command. They obeyed Him.

In Numbers 12, we find Miriam and Aaron talking against Moses. They didn't like his Cushite wife. Whaddya know?! God didn't like this at all and called those two along with Moses to the Tent of Meeting. He summoned Aaron and Miriam to the entrance and spoke to them. Again, I love these words He spoke about His relationship with Moses.

"When a prophet of the Lord is among you, I reveal myself to him in visions, I speak to him in dreams. But this is not true of my servant Moses; he is faithful in all my house. With him I speak face to face, clearly and not in riddles; he sees the form of the Lord. Why then were you not afraid to speak against my servant Moses?" (Exodus 12:6-8)

He was furious with them ... for their punishment, read on in the chapter.

The next time we see God show up in the cloud is in Numbers 16. The people had just seen the destruction of Korah's men and all their possessions because of their audacity in believing they coul be priests like Aaron's lineage. The Israelites decided to grumble about this and gathered to oppose Moses and Aaron. About that time, the Lord showed up in the cloud at the tent of meeting and told Moses and Aaron He was going to destroy the lot of them. Moses sent Aaron immediately to make atonement for the people, but the plague had already started. It stopped once Aaron offered incense and made atonement, but scripture says 14,700 people died.

In Deuteronomy 31:14-29 we are at the end of Moses' life. The Lord comes once again in a pillar of cloud. "And the Lord said to Moses: 'You are going to rest with your fathers ... '" (Deuteronomy 31:16)

He gave Moses the song that is written in Deuteronomy 32, warns Moses of Israel's rebellion, tells Joshua to be strong and courageous and promises that Joshua will bring the people into the Promised Land.

Isaiah promises that the Lord will show up in smoke and fire at the last day in Isaiah 4:5.

Watch for Him. He will return. Clouds will surround Him as He comes back. God is revealed in clouds and fire!

Nov. 15 Christ Reveals God

Sunday, November 15, 2009

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November 15 - Christ Reveals God

This is something that many of us take for granted.

The Lord promised to Moses in Deuteronomy 18:18, "I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their brothers; I will put my words in his mouth, and he will tell them everything I command him."

Then, Jesus said in John 12:49, "For I did not speak of my own accord, but the Father who sent me commanded me what to say and how to say it."

John 14:10, "Don't you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you are not just my own. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work."

John 17:8, "For I gave them the words you gave me and they accepted them. They knew with certainty that I came from you and they believed that you sent me."

Jesus proclaimed over and over that He was revealing God through Himself. What astounding news this had to be to His listeners!

Every once in awhile I try to separate myself from hindsight and look at the Gospel with eyes that had never heard of Jesus and hear His words as if they were new, knowing that the only thing His listeners had was their tradition and our Old Testament.

When Peter was preaching in Acts 3, he quoted the Deuteronomy passage (Acts 3:22-23) as he spoke of Jesus. I love verses 24-25, "Indeed, all the prophets from Samuel on, as many as have spoken, have foretold these days. And you are heirs of the prophets and of the covenant God made with your fathers."

How exciting and confusing it would have been to experience all that those people were living through during the years that Jesus lived on earth and the years just following. Peter tells us that he knew they were in the middle of great history. The prophets had been foretelling those days and those days had finally occurred!

We look back on these passages in scripture and simply accept them because they have been part of our existence since before we were born.

Every period of history is profound, but nothing was more world-changing than the coming of Jesus to earth, revealing God. Jesus was the Word of God - made flesh.

Nov. 14 Full Revelation in the Future

Saturday, November 14, 2009

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November 14 - Full Revelation in the Future

I'm often told that patience isn't one of my virtues. Now, you see, that's just plain funny. When I was in high school, we had these amazing spiritual weekends called Lay Witness Missions. People from the region would gather at a church, witness to the life changing experience that knowing Jesus brought to them and on Saturday evening there would be an altar call of some sort.

For some foolish reason, I recognized my lack of patience and decided to ask God to help me gain more of it. I thought it was a reasonable request. Little did I know that it was the craziest thing I had ever asked for from Him. Over the next 35 years, God has placed more than a few practical examples in my life that have taught me about patience. I failed at most of them, but I have been learning patience since that day that I foolishly asked God to help me.

I love the internet. Talk about immediate wish fulfillment! I have said it before and I'll say it again - knowledge and information are things that I constantly desire. I'm not sure how I existed before the internet. I love being able to have my questions fully answered within moments of asking. I'm incredibly impatient with ignorance and lack of knowledge on my own part. I want to know it all! Yes, I would love to be jacked into the Matrix. Until then, I'll be grateful for the access that I have.

In John 13:7, Jesus said, "You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand."

That statement would have been like flinging a red cloth in front of a raging bull for me. How could I now understand Him? What was I missing? I want to understand and know it all ... right now!

John 16:13, "But when he, the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come."

Here's the deal. I'm so thankful to be living on this side of the coming of the Spirit of truth, I can hardly stand it. I get to look back at the teaching of Christ through eyes that see with the Holy Spirit. I don't have to be confused by His teachings, I don't have to wonder what it is that He means. The Holy Spirit has come and is here to help us understand and know it all.

1 Corinthians 13:12, "Now we see but a poor reflection, then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known."

Honestly, I'm grateful to know that there are things that will finally make sense to me once I get to heaven. Through all of the training I have gone through these last 35 years, God has been able to make a few things very clear to me. He is in charge, He knows and understands it all. He will reveal those things to me that He wants me to know and when the day comes that I stand before His throne, He will show me everything. I can be patient and await that day.

Nov. 13 Nature Reveals God

Friday, November 13, 2009

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November 13 - Nature Reveals God

I'll be honest, I would never make a great tree-hugger, I've never been interested in living among the animals, I'm not a fan of sleeping under the stars, bugs and creepy crawlies make me a bit crazy. You'd never actually call me a nature lover.

However, when I see a beautiful sunset or experience the majesty of the Grand Canyon, when I hear the birds singing and watch the seasons change, I recognize the hand of God at work.

Many of the mysteries of God are revealed in nature.

"The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands." (Psalm 19:1)

"The heavens proclaim his righteousness, and all the peoples see his glory." (Psalm 97:6)

Do you know what the Fibonacci sequence is? It's a mathematical sequence of numbers that is found throughout nature - named for the man who discovered it.

1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, 55, 89 ... etc. Add 1+1 to get 2, then add 2+1 to get 3, then move forward in the sequence - 3+2 to get 5, 5+3 to get 8, 8+5 to get 13, etc.

Well, enough of math. The amazing thing about this sequence, though is that by working with it, we achieve something called the Golden Ratio (take the ratio of two successive numbers in the sequence, then divide that by the number previous, and you begin to get the Golden Ratio).

I guess I wasn't done with math.

Anyway! All of that math finagling produces things like a Golden Rectangle, which is said to be the most perfect shape - pleasing to the eye. But, it also produces what is called the Shell Spiral - which is found in the Nautilus shell. The sequence also shows up in petals of flowers, in pinecones, in leaf arrangements on plants. It's found in cauliflower - the hints of this are everywhere in nature.

As man has discovered these things, I believe that man has discovered God. God is not random, He has put Himself in the midst of us to be discovered.

"For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities - his eternal power and divine name - have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse."

God has revealed Himself in nature. Thought many try, it's difficult to deny the existence of a God who creates with such perfection.

Nov. 12 Prophetic Visions

Thursday, November 12, 2009

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November 12 - Prophetic Visions

Isaiah was a strong, strong man. He received visions from God prophesying the disasters that would befall Israel. "A dire vision has been shown to me:" (Isaiah 21:2). Now this same man wrote these words, "I saw the Lord seated on a throne, high and exalted and the train of his robe filled the temple." (Isaiah 6:1)

The Old Testament prophets received these visions and were expected to tell the people so that they could warn them of the impending doom. Prophetic visions were also given to encourage the people.

Ezekiel's vision in Eze. 11 was about the return of the people to Israel from exile. The Lord promised that they would clean the idols out of the land, bring unity among them.

I love Ezekiel 12:26-28. God pays attention to the words we say and the complaints we make. His visions to Ezekiel were for that time and place, but the Israelites simply wouldn't believe it. They complained because they believed that God wouldn't bring the vision to pass until far in the future. God was having none of that. "None of my words will be delayed any longer; whatever I say will be fulfilled." (Eze. 12:28)

This makes me wonder. Do we really believe that God's Word will be fulfilled? Do we really believe that the prophecies regarding Jesus' return will ever happen? If you do actually believe it, does your life reflect your belief? I don't know that mine does. I count on the fact that the end of the world won't happen in my lifetime, that Jesus won't return until long after I have died and gone to heaven. What if I'm wrong? How do I change my life so that it shows I believe He could return tomorrow!?

Amos, Obadiah and Nahum all had visions that dealt with nations around Israel. Obadiah's vision concerned Edom, a kingdom southeast of Judah. Nahum received a vision regarding Nineveh. Amos' vision told of judgment on Israel's neighbors and then judgment on Israel, then called for them to repent and return to God.

In the Revelation given to John, he spent time with the angel as he saw the things God wanted him to write to the people.

Prophecy through visions is powerful.

We talked a lot in my last Comparative Religion course about Muhammad being the final prophet - that with his death, God had completed the information he was sending to the people of earth.

I don't believe that. God transmits His word to His people when they need it most. He allowed Israel to get far enough way that they couldn't return to Him without intervention and He sent the Old Testament prophets. When they pulled away again, it wasn't a matter of them worshiping idols, but they had totally lost contact with the spirit of the Law. He sent His son to change the outcome of every life on earth.

We are told in Revelation 11 that there will be two witnesses who will prophesy for 1260 days, clothed in sackcloth. God will always find ways to communicate with His people when they quit listening to Him. There are people today that receive prophecy. There are people who see visions that are given by God.

I get excited when I see Him move on this earth. What about you? Does it excite or terrify you?

Nov. 11 Visions as Revelations

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

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November 11 - Visions as Revelations

The Bible describes many different ways that God reveals Himself to us. Some are deeply profound, sometimes He shows up in quiet ways, sometimes He allows someone else to deliver the message. Have you ever had a vision or known someone who did?

The first time God shows up in a vision, it's with Abram in Genesis 15. He is about to share His side of the Covenant with Abraham. I can't imagine what Abram was thinking when God showed up, but God's first words to him were "Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your very great reward." God tells Abram that though he might be fearful, the one thing (or person) that Abram fears is his shield, his protection and will be his reward. This is a pretty amazing way to start a relationship that will last through eternity.

God shows up in a vision to Jacob (Israel) in Genesis 46, telling him to go to Egypt, where Joseph was and that He would make Israel into a great nation there.

Do you know about Ezekiel's vision of the dry bones coming to life? God had plenty to say to Ezekiel in that passage (Ezekiel 37).

In Acts 9:10, Ananias is visited by the Lord and told to go out and meet Saul on the road to Damascus. Then, in Acts 10:3, the Lord visits Cornelius (a Gentile) and tells him to send for Simon Peter. This is immediately followed up by a vision that Peter receives which forces him to accept that Gentiles are not unclean. He is able to meet with Cornelius and baptizing Gentiles with the Holy Spirit.

Paul has a vision in Acts 16:9 telling him to go to Macedonia, in Acts 18:9 which tells him to not be fearful but to keep on speaking while he is in Corinth. In Acts 22:18, the Lord comes to Paul in a vision and tells him to leave Jerusalem quickly because the people aren't accepting his testimony and in Acts 23:11, another vision tells him that he will testify to the Lord in Rome.

As I was studying this, I was struck by how God uses these visions. Every time God shows up in a vision, it is to move someone down the road to the next thing in their life. They are being asked to do something they would never have considered doing. Imagine how Cornelius felt when God showed up in a vision! He wasn't a Jew, he didn't have experience with all of the history of God in his life. And Ananias! Out of the blue, God tells him to go out to the road and meet the one man who has been persecuting Christians.

My first take on all of this is that I hope I never receive a vision from the Lord because I know that He will be asking me to do something I'm not comfortable with and go somewhere that I am unfamiliar with. But, in every case, God assures the person that He (God) is in control. He will walk with them. He just needs us to be willing.

Nov. 10 Divine Revelations

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

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November 10 - Divine Revelations

There's nothing better than uncovering something that has been a mystery. I specifically remember sitting in Algebra II as we were working on matrices. All of a sudden I saw the pattern as to how they worked. I must have gasped out loud because the teacher looked up from his desk, saw my face and just grinned at me. He watched my lightbulb moment occur.

I have the same moments often when I'm reading scripture and all of a sudden the patterns come clear to me. I see what God was planning and how He made it happen. I get really excited!

Daniel 2:22, "He reveals deep and hidden things."

Amos 3:7, "Surely the Sovereign Lord does nothing without revealing his plan to his servants the prophets."

Jesus said, "I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master's business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you." (John 15:15)

"However, as it is written: 'no eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him - but God has revealed it to us by his Spirit. The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God." (1 Corinthians 2:9-10)

I love how God works! Jesus told His disciples, "But when he, the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own, he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come." (John 16:13)

The plan was for the Holy Spirit to be among us after Jesus ascended into heaven. This is the same Spirit that searches the deep things of God. This is the same Spirit that is here as our Comforter, our Teacher, our Counselor. The deep things of God, the plans of God, the revelation of God. All of these things, these things we believe are mysteries are known to the Holy Spirit who is here now. I get kind of excited about what He will reveal to us next!

Nov. 9 God Owns the Secrets

Sunday, November 8, 2009

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November 9 - God Owns the Secrets

Deuteronomy 29:29, "The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may follow all the words of this law."

How much do you really trust the Lord? Do you trust Him with your closest secrets? Are you assured that everything you know - He knows? Do you feel safe with that? These verses are filled with an assurance that I can barely understand.

Psalm 25:2, "It is the glory of God to conceal a matter; to search out a matter is the glory of kings."

It excites me to realize that God has created mysteries to fill the universe, things that He fully expects us to discover. Does it frighten you to think that man could someday uncover the full depths of knowledge about our mind or our body? God has given us minds that are curious and placed mysteries before us so that we are always searching.

The time of the last days is coming, but this is another of those mysteries that God has sealed up. He told Daniel, "Go your way, Daniel, because the words are closed up and sealed until the time of the end." (Dan. 12:9)

Jesus said, "No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father." (Mark 13:32)

God has told no one about the day or hour of the end of time. If He can be trusted with that information, He can be trusted with everything you know and everything that worries you.

Revelation 10:4, "And when the seven thunders spoke, I was about to write; but I heard a voice from heaven say, 'Seal up what the seven thunders have said and do not write it down.'"

The greatest secret - the end of days, the great secrets - those that we hold close. All of these are kep safe with the Lord God Almighty.

Nov. 8 The Future is a Mystery

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November 8 - The Future is a Mystery

Proverbs 27:1, "Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring forth."

Wow, no kidding! Do you know that there used to be a period of time that I dreaded extremely spiritual weekends? If I knew that I was having a prayer retreat coming up and it was going to be amazing, I was terrified! Not because of the weekend, but because of Monday. Every single Monday following a spiritual high - something awful would hit me. I never knew what direction it would come from, but I knew it was coming.

Matthew 24:43, "But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into."

Now, Jesus is talking through this passage about the end of the world and how we need to be prepared because we can't know when it will occur. If I were to take this verse alone, I might get pretty worked up over everything.

Several years ago, some kids (we assume) broke into the house. The smashed the glass window on our back door, unlocked the house and went through taking what they wanted. It was just stuff, but it was an awful feeling. There was nothing more we could have done to avoid the theft. It took a long time, though to get past the fear of it happening again.

And this takes me to another passage in Matthew, "Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself." (Matthew 6:34)

It took about a month for me to relax about the house being broken into, I still worry about extreme spiritual highs, knowing that just around the corner there might be a terrible low. But, that's because the only place I put my faith is in myself. The proper response for me is "But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness and all these things (the things we worry about) will be given to you as well." (Matthew 6:33)

"Now, listen you who say, 'Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.' Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, 'If it is the Lord's will, we will and do this or that.' As it is, you boast and brag. All such boasting is evil. Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn't do it, sins." (James 4:13-17)

That passage actually goes against everything we actually believe about life. There's not a one of us out there that really trusts the Lord to tell us what His will is. We don't actually trust that we will know and understand what His will is when He tells us. And we have people around us that continually insist that they know better than we do what God's will is for our lives.

Boasting and bragging - thinking that we know better than God. James says it is evil. What do you say?

Nov. 7 Knowledge Withheld

Saturday, November 7, 2009

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November 7 - Knowledge Withheld

This is a difficult lesson for me. You see, I really like to 'know' things. I study all the time, I think that research would be the best job in the world for me, I am so excited to have the power of the web at my fingertips nearly all the time. I love knowledge. To find that God withholds information and knowledge from us is a little unnerving to me. But, I am quick to recognize that He is God and I am not.

Genesis 2:17 says, "but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die."

Ok ... God placed a tree in front of me that is filled with knowledge and tells me not to eat the fruit from it. Ummm ... God? Do you not know who I am? I would so be Eve. And I would be in trouble.

Jesus said in John 13:7, "You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand."

Why did He say this? Well, Simon Peter had just asked him if Jesus was going to wash his feet. Hmmm .. since Jesus had done it for everyone else - what do you think, Peter? And Jesus said those words to him. I might have said something along the lines of, "Duh ... and someday you will understand what is going on here, but today? You're dumb as a rock." Alright, maybe I wouldn't have said all those words, but I certainly would have thought them! Sometimes we're just too slow to understand what it is that God is doing in our lives and the lives around us!

In John 16:12 he says, "I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear." Wow, sometimes I feel that way when I'm reading scripture - there's too much to comprehend. Yes, Jesus probably was overwhelming His listeners with information that was beyond their thinking.

1 Corinthians 13:12 says, "Now we see but a poor reflection; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known."

1 John 3:2 says, "Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is."

I've been told that I am not a terribly patient person. Let me tell you, waiting for the knowledge of the world to be given to me nearly kills me sometimes. But, I am confident in the fact that God knows it all and sometime in the far future when I'm in His presence, I will have no more questions and no more desire for knowledge. I will know everything in full.

Nov. 6 God's Face is Hidden

Friday, November 6, 2009

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November 6 - God's Face is Hidden

Deuteronomy 31:18 says, "And I will certainly hide my face on that day because of all their wickedness in turning to other gods."

This is one of those things that we sometimes have difficulty understanding, but if we think about it - it actually makes sense. God, in His perfection can not be in the presence of sin. He will destroy the sin. So ... if sin is in us, He would end up destroying us with that perfection.

Exodus 33:20, "But," he said, "You cannot see my face, for no one may see me and live."

Job says, "When he passes me, I cannot see him; when he goes by, I cannot perceive him."

"No one has ever seen God, but God the only Son, who is at the Father's side, has made him known." (John 1:18)

"And the Father who sent me has himself testified concerning me. You have never heard his voice nor seen his form." (John 5:37)

Paul says in his letter to Timothy, "...who alone is immortal and who lives in unapproachable light, whom no one has seen or can see. To him be honor and might forever. Amen." (1 Tim. 6:16)

Unapproachable light. We would be like a moth in a flame - consumed by the power of God's perfection.

This is why I am so thankful for the mercy that our God shows to us. He has made that mercy and His grace available to us in the offering that covers all of our sins through Jesus Christ.

When God resided in the Tabernacle - in the Holy of Holies, a priest that had spent an entire year preparing himself, cleansing himself, offering sacrifice after sacrifice for his own sin as well as the sins of the people could enter. There was fear among the people that he would be killed as he came into the presence of God, so a rope was tied around his ankle just in case his body needed to be pulled from that room.

This is the fear we have in approaching the Lord God Almighty. But, when the curtain separating that room from the world was ripped in two at the crucifixion of Jesus, we were given immediate access to the throne of God. The final sacrifice had been made. All we were required to do was come before Jesus ... who was born into the world and was of the world ... who was made like us so that He would not consume us with His perfection ... all we have to do is come before Him. He makes us clean and stands with us as we approach the throne. We can do so in full confidence that we will not be consumed and we are given a chance to have a relationship with our Creator, the author of all perfection, the Lord God Almighty.

Nov. 5 God Veils Himself

Thursday, November 5, 2009

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November 5 - God Veils Himself

Why would God hide Himself from us? This is one of those questions that perplexes me. He has spent so much time trying to get us to open our eyes and He has uncovered Himself and revealed Himself to us in amazing ways.

Job 23:8-9 - But if I go to the east, he is not there; if I go to the west, I do not find him. When he is at work in the north, I do not see him; when he turns to the south, I catch no glimpse of him.

Psalm 10:1 - Why, O Lord, do you stand far off? Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?

Psalm 13:1 - How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me?

Psalm 89:46 - How long, O Lord? Will you hide yourself forever?

Isaiah 45:15 - Truly you are a God who hides himself, O God and Savior of Israel.

As I read these verses, it occurs to me that maybe God hasn't hidden Himself as much as the author simply can't find Him!

The Psalmist (many times - David) constantly feels the separation that comes when God isn't walking close beside him. He counts the times when his enemies seem to be gaining the upper hand as times when God is either hiding Himself ... or just far away from David.

Job felt as if he had been abandoned God. But, what we miss if we only read verse 9, is the next verse which says, "But he knows the way I take, when he has tested me, I will come forth as gold."

Job couldn't find God, though he searched the four corners of the earth. He remained confident that God could find him.

Sometimes we can't find God. I'm betting it's because we don't remember where we put Him, not because He's actually hiding from us. The good news is that God always knows where we are and He knows the way we take.

Nov. 4 Can You Fathom It?

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

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Nov. 4 - Can you fathom it?

The mysteries of God are so far beyond our comprehension.

"He performs wonders that cannot be fathomed, miracles that cannot be counted." (Job 5:9)

"Can you fathom the mysteries of God? Can you probe the limits of the Almighty?" (Job 11:7)

"He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end." (Ecc. 3:11)

"Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom." (Isaiah 40:28)

"For who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ." (1 Corinthians 2:16)

I think we are all guilty of trying to place God in a box. We want to limit what we know of Him to our experiences and knowledge. We can't imagine that He might make decisions that we know nothing about or could begin to understand. Maybe he doesn't care about the same things that we put so much passion into creating. Perhaps He doesn't actually find that the politics and laws that mankind has created affect His relationship with people. I wonder if He sees the separations that each of us place out there based on belief systems, dogmas, biases, etc.

We can no more understand Him than an ant traveling to its anthill understands us. There is an enormous divide. Fortunately, the mystery of the relationship He wants to have with us is discovered in the Bible ... and in His Son. We have the mind of Christ. God has opened Himself to us, it's just up to us to decide if we really want to pay attention to Him or insist that He pay attention to us.

Nov. 3 Mystery of Christ & Redemption

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

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November 3 - Mystery of Christ and Redemption

Romans 16:25, "Now to him who is able to establish you by my gospel and the proclamation of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery hidden for long ages past ..."

1 Corinthians 2:7, "No, we speak of God's secret wisdom, a wisdom that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began."

Ephesians 3:4, "In reading this, then, you will be able to understand my insight into the mystery of Christ, which was not made known to men in other generations as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to God's holy apostles and prophets. This mystery is that through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body, and sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus."

Colossians 1:27 "To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory."

Colossians 2:2, "My purpose is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge."

I started some of this yesterday, but as I uncovered more and more passages regarding the mystery of Christ coming at the time that He did, opening the gates of heaven for everyone, not just the Jews, I became overwhelmed!

I don't know who Paul was speaking to more - the Gentiles or the Jews, but he wanted to make it very clear that the time God had been waiting for was NOW and the mystery was being revealed in Christ Jesus.

For thousands of years the Israelites had been searching for their Messiah, for the final chance of coming to terms with their sin and their Creator. He is here and through His resurrection, He is in all of us. While this information is easily accepted by most of us, it is profound and would not have been understood by the people of Paul's time. This was an incredibly powerful message.

Do you understand what could have happened had God not made His gospel available to the Gentiles through Jesus Christ? Imagine the difference in the world, if the Jews had recognized Jesus for who He was and would have accepted Him as the Christ - the Messiah. There is every probability that acceptance would have triggered the end of the world. God would have redeemed His people and everything else would be over.

But, His plan is perfect. God knew that He didn't want to allow anyone on earth to perish if He could avoid it. For that to happen, the Jews needed to reject Christ as their Messiah so that He could open up the Gospel to every nation on earth.

"He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance." (2 Peter 3:9b)

As Gentiles ... we have been given the greater gift. We need to acknowledge it and be grateful. We need to not squander this glorious gift.

Nov. 2 Great Mysteries - Continued

Monday, November 2, 2009

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November 2 - Great Mysteries - Continued

"Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed - in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet." (1 Corinthians 15:51-52)

This is one of those mysteries that I just accept. I don't question it, I just figure that God's got it worked out and I'm along for the ride.

Now, I know that most people don't always respond to mysteries like I do. They want concrete proof and reasonable assurance. Huh ... I guess that's why it is called a mystery!

When mom was dying, we had a long discussion about eternity, heaven, dying, being buried, transformation at death ... the whole thing. Yah, I wanted to know what was in her head while she was facing death. And, she wanted to talk about it. So, we did. I asked her if she really believed that God was real and that everything she had taught was true. There was absolutely no doubt for her.

One of the things she told me, though, was really interesting. I talked about how much I was going to miss her - that I had decades before I would see her again. She laughed and gloated a little bit. Because what she believed was that time on earth in comparison to time in eternity was just that ... a twinkling of an eye ... not even a blink. Eternal time was nothing like what we could possibly understand. So, for her, not a single moment would pass between her arriving in heaven and me arriving ... even though so many years would pass for me.

I think this is one of those difficult to comprehend passages because we try to grasp the concept of time in eternity based on our understanding of time on earth. If mom was right (she generally was), this is how everyone is changed in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. Does that make sense?

"Beyond all question, the mystery of godliness is great: He appeared in a body, was vindicated by the Spirit, was seen by angels, was preached among the nations, was believed on in the world, was taken up in glory." (1 Timothy 3:16)

Wow! Colossians 1:26-27 says, "...the mystery that has been kept hidden for ages and generations, but is now disclosed to the saints. To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory."

This is another of those great mysteries that I have just accepted all of my life. Colossians tells us that Christ was kept hidden for ages and generations, but at this time is being disclosed. God's timing was planned. He was not surprised at the need of the world for His Son to be sacrificed. He planned it. Until God was ready for Christ to be known, He kept Him hidden.

The mystery as to God's timing still remains. We don't know or understand why He chose to do what He did and why it occurred at that specific time. All we know is that both Gentiles and Jews ... everyone on earth is able to approach the throne of God because of Christ's work on the cross. Because of this we have the hope of glory!

Nov. 1 Great Mysteries

Sunday, November 1, 2009

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November 1 - Great Mysteries that Test the Faith of Man

Thompson in his Chain Bible, highlighted several mysteries that seem to be difficult for us to accept.

Jeremiah 12:1, "You are always righteous, O Lord, when I bring a case before you. Yet I would speak with you about your justice. Why does the way of the wicked prosper? Why do all the faithless live at ease?"

I'm pretty sure I just wrote about this last month with one of the Psalms. My goodness but it makes no sense to us when God seems to allow the wicked to live lives of leisure on this earth. Mom always told me that it was because they would live in hell for the rest of eternity. I know she was trying to comfort me. Sometimes it just didn't work!

John 3:8. "The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit."

Jesus used the wind as an analogy to the Holy Spirit. Man can not control it. Man can't manage the Spirit, man can't influence the Spirit. This didn't make sense to Nicodemus (whom Jesus was speaking with about being born again). He could not comprehend the fact that he was unable to influence his way into heaven. The Jews had spent centuries refining their laws so that people would live correctly and attain eternal life. Jesus said that man didn't have that power. It was the power of the Holy Spirit. What a different set of ideas He was placing into their minds!

Romans 11:33. "Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out."

Paul has just finished telling the Romans that all of Israel will be saved. (Romans 11:25-32) The fact that God is big enough, powerful enough, has enough forgiveness and love and will do anything to bring all of the earth into His Kingdom is difficult for most to believe and accept. There are deep theological discussions about this all the time. But, Paul is willing to believe the prophets in the Old Testament and knows that God will not refuse access to heaven to His Chosen People. There are depths that we will never be able to plumb with regards to the wisdom and knowledge of God. Who are we to question Him or His actions in this world!

I think that one of the greatest things God could have done for us is to give us mysteries which are revealed as we probe the depths of the universe. We have curious minds. Those minds are given to us by our Creator. God also presented great mysteries within His Word. I can't wait to see what they reveal about Him, about us, about His creation!