The voice of a man

Joshua 10:12-14   At that time Joshua spoke to the Lord in the day when the Lord gave the Amorites over to the sons of Israel, and he said in the sight of Israel, “Sun, stand still at Gibeon, and moon, in the Valley of Aijalon.”  And the sun stood still, and the moon stopped, until the nation took vengeance on their enemies. Is this not written in the Book of Jashar? The sun stopped in the midst of heaven and did not hurry to set for about a whole day. There has been no day like it before or since, when the Lord heeded the voice of a man, for the Lord fought for Israel.

What would you pray for if you knew God would hear you and answer?  What would you have the faith to believe Him for if you knew, with no doubt or fear, that He was on your side?

The story of Joshua praying for the sun to stand still in the sky is often centered around his bold prayer and God’s answer, but shift your focus just for a moment back on verse 8 of this story.  Notice that before Joshua had the bold faith to pray for a mighty miracle, he heard from God.  The Lord told Joshua that He was on his side and that Israel would win over their enemies.

With that knowledge, Joshua was able to pray with complete faith, knowing that God was with him.  We too can be courageous in our prayers if we first hear from God that He is on our side.  Are you living for Him?  Is He on your side?  Consult God’s Word and find where He wants you.  When you are there, He is fighting on your side, and your voice too will be heard.

———-  So what would you pray for if you knew He would answer?

Christ’s bride

The Church

Ephesians 5:25-27  Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.

Of all analogies given in Scripture to describe the relationship between God and man, maybe one of the most peculiar is that of husband and wife. Christ is the groom and we (collectively, as the Church) are His bride.  Why is this comparison used to speak of our relationship with Jesus?

First of all, any analogy that tries to capture God within human understanding fails.  God is not just like anything we have knowledge of.  But He is kind of like a husband who loves his bride and would do anything (DID everything!) for her.  The best attempt we have at coming close to understanding God’s love is a healthy marriage relationship where there is mutual love.  Christ gave everything, His own perfect life, for His bride.  He sacrificed it all that we might be reconciled to God.

We, His bride, are made spotless (here’s the white dress) to be presented at the marriage (Christ’s return).  He’s made a covenant with us that will never be broken and He remains faithful.  His love never falters, never fails.  His love is true.  And His love is for us.  We await the perfect wedding day to come.

Work out your salvation

Philippians 2:12-13  Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.

Though we can’t earn salvation through good works, not all of the effects of salvation can be seen immediately in us and we’re called to persevere in our faith and “work out” our salvation.  As we progress in our walk with Christ, God works in and through us.

At the point we would call conversion, we do become new creations (2 Corinthians 5:17), our old nature dying and our new nature being in Christ.  It’s through persevering faith, though, that we really take on the new attributes of a Christ-follower, the fruits.  The Holy Spirit works in us “to will and to work for His good pleasure”. This means our very desires begin to change because of God’s work in us.  We don’t just change because we think we’re supposed to change, we change because we now desire to do so.  Our wants begin to align with God’s will and purpose.

When we follow Christ, we take on His plans as our own and God has us bring about His will by transforming us to be more like Him.

Three in One – God revealed

The Trinity

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

Anyone who’s ever tried to understand the triune nature of God knows that it’s a difficult task.  It’s even harder to describe than it is to understand.  People have attempted many different ways of describing God over the centuries and all of them fall short.

The water analogy (God is like water:  it exists as liquid, solid and vapor) fails to capture the nature of God because H2O cannot exist as water, ice, and steam simultaneously and each of these three has different properties.  God is simultaneously Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  Each contains the same essence.  The candle analogy (Father=candlestick, Son=light, Spirit=flame) is even worse as each fail to coexist with each other in a way that would even come close to a picture of the Trinity.  Likewise analogies like the courtroom (which gives a good idea of the roles of the Trinity in judge, bailiff and defense attorney) cannot capture the triune nature of God because saying that all of these make up “one court” is nothing like the oneness of our God.  Analogies fall short because God is above our understanding.

We have a tendency to think that we need to figure everything out, that there is somewhere out there a perfect analogy to show just what our God is like.  But God is not like anything in creation.  He is God.  And it’s ok to not understand the mysterious things about Him.  But when He reveals something about Himself, it’s worth taking note.  Through the Scriptures, God has revealed that He is Three in One, and we do well to believe it to be so.  All of the details of this fact may remain a mystery, and we need to be willing to accept that God is more complex than we could ever understand with our finite minds.  If He wasn’t, He wouldn’t be much of a god.

Proper motivation

1 Timothy 1:5  The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.

In our lives as Christians, we can often get caught up in thinking that we’re just supposed to do certain things, obey the rules, and work for God.  The problem is that sometimes our motives are all wrong.  We do things because we’ll be noticed or we do them because we want God to think more highly of us.  The Lord, whether we realize it or not, cares very much about our motives.  He cares that we do things out of love, a pure heart, and sincere faith.

We shouldn’t do things just because we’re going through the motions of what we think we’re supposed to do and we should never do good things out of selfish motives.  A good deed done for personal gain is worth nothing.  God’s work in us, our sanctification, should lead to fruits that bear witness to Him.  Selfish good deeds do no such thing.

Follow the lead of Matthew 5:16 and let your light shine so that others will glorify God because of it.

Three in One – Perfect Community

The Trinity

Ephesians 4:4-7  There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.  But grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ’s gift.

So how does believing in the Trinity affect your life?  How do you live differently because of the triune God?  What part of believing that God is made of one substance but three persons makes this doctrine “Christian” and what does it mean for the church?

While many religions around the world focus on works and performance, Christianity stands out.  We, as Christ followers, don’t give all of our focus to our performance, but the core of our belief is relationship.  God is about relationships.  In fact, the very first model of a perfect community is given in the Trinity.  In the Bible we have Father, Son and Holy Spirit as an example for us of relationships.

There is no sin in God so He is not tainted by its effects.  Among the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are truth, love, humility, peace, service, honor, and unity.  There is no grumbling or complaining, no backstabbing, no gossip.  Though all three persons of the Trinity are equally God, there are different roles for each.  But we never see the Son disgruntled about carrying out the will of the Father, we never see the Holy Spirit resent bringing glory to the Son.  Because within each person of the Trinity there is the others (all one God, all one essence), they work together in perfect harmony.

We can’t be perfect, so we can’t live in the unity and harmony of God, but we have an example set before us to mimic to the best of our ability.  Not to gain perfection, but to carry on good relationships, both with other people and with God.  God is about community, about selfless relationships and love.

That you may obtain the glory of our Lord

2 Thessalonians 2:14  To this he called you through our gospel, so that you may obtain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.

He who began a good work in us will see it through to its completion.  He’s called us not only to salvation but to sanctification.  In shaping us and forming us to be more like Christ, God is bringing glory unto Himself.

When we are sanctified through the work of the Holy Spirit we bring glory to Jesus.  All glory unto Jesus is also unto the Father (John 10:30).  When we are growing into the image of Christ, we desire more and more to do the will of God the Father.

Our part in this, as Paul tells the believers at Thessalonica, is to stand firm.  We must hold on to the Gospel which we have been taught because the process of sanctification can be painful. When we face various trials, we need to focus on what God has done and what He will do.  It’s not only for our own good that He calls us to be made into the image of Christ, it’s also for His glory.

———-  What have you been through that’s been painful but you realize has been for your own benefit or God’s own glory?

Three in One – The Necessity of the Trinity

The Trinity

Romans 3:22-24  the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction:  for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus,

Some may ask, “Why is the Trinity so important to Christian belief?”.  Why, for instance, can’t I just believe in God and leave it at that?  Why do I need to know that God is Three in One?  This is a valid question and it really has more than one answer.

Without the Trinity, we lose the Gospel.  Man is sinful and God’s wrath (The Father’s) is upon us.  Jesus, the Son, comes to earth to take the sins of man upon Himself and imputes His righteousness on to those who believe on Him.  This brings reconciliation with the Father.  Upon His departure back to the Father’s side, the Holy Spirit is given to the regenerate Christian to empower him or her to live out God’s will.  If we lose any part of this plan, we lose all of it.  Each person of the Trinity plays His role in the redemption of man.  No Trinity, no salvation and no right relationship with God.

Without the Trinity, the Bible makes little sense.  Some Christians believe in something called Modalism, where God is one, but acts in different modes at different times.  The Father created the world.  Jesus was the manifestation of God as a man on earth.  The Holy Spirit is active today in the lives of Christians.  In Modalism, God does not exist as three persons simultaneously.  But then, why did Jesus come to pay the price of man’s sins to satisfy the wrath of God?  How then did God the Father speak from heaven as Jesus was baptized and the Holy Spirit descend on Him like a dove?  It’s a stretch to makes sense of such things.

The reasoning goes on, but what every Christian needs to understand about the Trinity is that God is real right now in your life and is capable of acting in any capacity necessary.  God our Father, Jesus our Mediator, and Holy Spirit our Helper. They are Three and they are One.

The Judge is on our side

Romans 8:33-34 Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.

We stand accused.  As brothers and sisters of Christ we’re enemies with Satan and he seeks to condemn us for our sin.  He’d love to bring up every wrong thing we’ve ever done, every lie we’ve ever told, every mistake we’ve made.  Misery loves company and the devil would love to have some company.  His problem in this though is that Christians have been covered in the blood of Christ.  We’re justified, no longer condemned (Romans 8:1).

No matter how badly we’ve sinned, Christ covered it all and we’re immune to Satan’s accusations.  But oh how he still tries.  Until the final day he’ll hunt around like a lion, trying to steal, kill, and destroy (John 10:10).  But in the end, God wins.  And if God wins, we win.  If He who called us and justified us prevails, so shall we prevail.  How can we be condemned when the judge Himself is on our side?  When our advocate, our intercessor, is the One who bled that we might live?

No accusation brought against us sticks because we’re children of God.

———-  How would you act differently when you felt condemned if you kept in mind that Christ is interceding for you?

Three in One – Calling

 

The Trinity

Matthew 3:16-17  And when Jesus was baptized, immediately he went up from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened to him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on him;  and behold, a voice from heaven said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.”

What we see at the baptism of Jesus is the Father confirming the ministry He was sent for and the Holy Spirit empowering Him by coming upon Him.  Jesus, being God himself, is at all times filled with the Holy Spirit, but the picture we get here as believers is that when God calls us to something, He empowers us to do it.  We have the blessing of the Father, the authority given by the Son (Matthew 28:18), and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, which enables us to carry out God’s mission.

All three persons of the Trinity are at work as we carry on with what God has called us to do and each plays a part in their own respective roles along the way.  As finite humans who are quite incapable of fully understanding how God works, we may never know exactly how God is working in a given situation, but we can know that He is working and that He is simultaneously acting in the distinct persons of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.  These three are one and they equip us to do what we’re called to do.

Equipping believers to follow Christ and make Him known