Tuesday, November 24, 2009

7 Aspects of God’s Abundance

The great abundance that is in Christ should be a cause of continual thanksgiving.

The title of this blog is “Abundant Life Now.” The God who created everything (Colossians 1:16) and maintains everything (Colossians 1:17) never lacks in abundance. The earth and all that is contained in it belongs to Him (1 Corinthians 10:26-28). We will look at a few of the things which Scripture specifically says are available in “abundance.”

God offers abundant mercy (1 Peter 1:3) and abundant grace (1 Timothy 1:14). Mercy is not getting something negative that is deserved. Grace is getting something positive which is not deserved. (Justice is getting that which is deserved.)

Abundant mercy and abundant grace are available because of abundant pardon (Isaiah 55:7) to those who accept it. Beyond abundant pardon, our God offers abundant life (John 10:10).

Those who have received the abundance mentioned above are eligible for abundant joy (Philippians 1:26) and abundant peace (Psalm 37:11).

All this abundance is due to the abundant power of the omnipotent—all powerful—God (Ephesians 3:20).

Jesus said, “I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance (to the full, till it overflows)” (John 10:10 Amp).

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Structure of the Psalms

In 2006-07 I was privileged to have the opportunity to lead a mid-week adult Bible study on the Book of Psalms—something I had wanted to do for some years. While I had loved the Psalms for many years, that process caused an increased love of this wonderful book.

Christians like to repeat the phrase, “God is good … all the time!” That is the message of the Book of Psalms. However, it may not always seem that God is good all the time. The Book of Psalms is a great place to find comfort during stressful times. Repeatedly within the Psalms we find phrases such as, “In my distress I called upon the Lord.” Psalms relates much about the difficult nature of life on earth.

When asked how the Book of Psalms is structured, many would reply it is a collection of individual Psalms. Others would say it was Israel’s hymnbook. Both are right. The Psalms were the hymnal of Israel and hence it has been termed “the faith of the Old Testament set to music.” Still others might view the structure of the book through one of several variations of a five-part outline such as:

Israel’s Redeemer and Remnant (1–41)
Israel’s Ruin and Redemption (42–72)
Israel’s Return and Restoration (73–89)
Israel’s Relapse and Recovery (90–106)
Israel’s Re-gathering and Retrospect (107–150)

SUGGESTION: Read the Book of Psalms in a similar manner as you read any other book. Keep in mind the three main parts of any book, the opening, the body, and the close.

Opening—Introduction ~ Psalm 1, sometimes called “The Preface Psalm,” provides the key to understanding the rest of the Psalms. It introduces the contrast of blessing for those who really seek to follow God and for those who go their own way. It clearly states that the Godly man will possess a deep joy and happiness. However, those who go their own way will be miserable—they never find true satisfaction.

Body—Argument ~ The Book of Psalms is not only the biggest book in the Bible but is placed near the center of the Bible. We must never forget that the Psalms, like all the books of the Bible, are about Jesus Christ. Jesus Himself said that much of the Psalms are about Him (Luke 24:44). Did you know that of all the Old Testament quotations included in the New Testament about Christ, nearly one-half are from the Psalms? The Book of Psalms relates to the struggles of life on earth.

Close—Conclusion ~ The last Psalm, which has been labeled “the doxology Psalm,” is the conclusion of the book. It is a psalm of praise—the word occurs over and over within this psalm (three times in verse one and twice in every other verse). Actually the last five psalms, 146-150, build to the great finale of Psalm 150, which is like a choral symphony of praise. Imagine a magnificent chorus of thousands of voices singing hallelujah to God combined with a huge orchestra reaching its great climactic notes—that is how this wonderful book ends!

SUGGESTION: Read the Book of Psalms in a similar manner as you read any other book. Keep in mind the three main parts of any book, the opening, the body, and the close.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Tri-Rx for Fear or Worry – Part 3 of 3

3-Legged Stool of Stability for Difficult Times – Summary & Conclusions

God, because of His nature, cannot be unkind, cannot make a mistake, and cannot be surprised! Considering these truths, the only logical conclusion we can come to is that we can rest!!! We can be tranquil in an ever-changing, stressful environment. “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:5-7 NIV). “You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You” (Isaiah 26:3 NKJV).

There is an old hymn that says, “Our times are in Thy hands, Father we wish them there.” If He were not both loving and wise, we would dread His control. If He were not sovereign, He would be incapable of control. But since He is who He is, we want Him to be in ultimate control. The beginning and end of one Psalm says, “You are my God and protector. ... I can lie down and sleep soundly because You, LORD, will keep me safe” (Psalm 4:1a, 8 CEV).

Perfect love, infinite wisdom, and absolute sovereignty. God is too loving to be unkind, too wise to make a mistake, and is in total control—therefore I can rest!

Visualize a three-legged stool with its three legs providing absolute stability even on uneven and rough ground. These legs are God’s sacrificial love, His infinite wisdom, and His absolute sovereignty. The seat of the stool is labeled peace. The ground below is uneven, but as long as we are seated on the stool, the three legs provide tranquility unknown to the world around us.

In my introduction to this three-part series I mentioned that since these three attributes were impressed upon my mind I have found that others have also come up with three critical aspects of God’s nature and the practical significance of them. There are remarkable similarities in all of them.

A.W. Tozer wrote: With the goodness of God to desire our highest welfare, the wisdom of God to plan it, and the power of God to achieve it, what do we lack?

Thomas Eskine put it this way: How reasonable it is to trust ourselves to the keeping of God’s infinite love, and infinite wisdom, and infinite power.

In 2004 I learned that Chuck Swindoll had written on the Book of Job where he states that God is too kind to do anything cruel… too wise to make a mistake… and too deep to explain Himself.

Finally, I found the following saying but without reference or credit to the writer: Lord You are perfect love and want only what is best for me. You are perfect wisdom and You know what is best for me. And You are perfect power and You are able to make it happen.

Sleep well!

CONTEMPLATE: Suppose someone asked you to explain the structure of the book of Psalms. How would you reply?

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Tri-Rx for Fear or Worry – Part 2 of 3

3-Legged Stool of Stability for Difficult Times – The Three Legs

“You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in You, all whose thoughts are fixed on You!” (Isaiah 26:3 NLT) The key is to have your thoughts focused on God.

The three attributes of God which the Spirit of God repeatedly uses to bring calm to me are God's sacrificial love, His infinite wisdom, and His absolute sovereignty. Understanding what each of these attributes means and how they are intrinsic to God’s nature and integral with each other brings peace and tranquility.

Sacrificial Love. John, “the apostle whom Jesus loved,” was apparently in a closer relationship with Jesus Christ on earth than others. It is John who tells us “God is love.”

Consider what the Scriptures have to say about God’s Sacrificial Love. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16 NKJV). “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written: ‘For Your sake we are killed all day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.’ Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:34-39 NKJV).

What would be the consequences of a god who lacked love—even a god who possessed both wisdom and sovereignty, yet lacked perfect sacrificial love? Such a god would be unpredictable and fearsome. Yet our God is complete and perfect and we read “Perfect love casts out fear” (1 John 4:18 NIV). A god without perfect love could be cruel or vindictive! The practical implication is that the God of sacrificial love is too loving to be mean. Because of who He is and His nature, He cannot be unkind!

Infinite Wisdom. God is the source of all truth and the origin of all wisdom.

Think for a moment about the God of Infinite Wisdom. “O LORD, how manifold are Your works! In wisdom You have made them all. The earth is full of Your possessions” (Psalm 104:24 NKJV). “Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out!” (Romans 11:33 NKJV). “Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men” (1 Corinthians 1:25 NKJV).

What if we worshipped a loving and sovereign god who lacked wisdom? Without complete and accurate insight to guide his action, we would have a god who did not fully understand circumstances, events, and relationships. In other words such a god could exercise bad judgment! Because of God’s Word we can be assured that the God of infinite wisdom is too wise to error. Because of His divine nature, He cannot make a mistake!

Absolute Sovereignty. Sovereignty means control. The Scripture tells us that God is in total control.

Another attribute of the trio is the Absolute Sovereignty of our God. “For by Him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by Him and for Him. He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together” (Colossians 1:16-17 NIV). “And He is not served by human hands, as if He needed anything, because He Himself gives all men life and breath and everything else. From one man He made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and He determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live. God did this so that men would seek Him and perhaps reach out for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us. ‘For in Him we live and move and have our being.’ As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are His offspring’” (Acts 17:25-28 NIV).

What would be the impact of a god who lacked sovereignty but possessed great love and wisdom? Such a god would be a powerless god—an ineffective god, a god who meant well but was incapable of carrying out his desires. God’s absolute sovereignty assures us that He is in complete control, therefore nothing can catch Him off guard. His absolute sovereignty assures us that He cannot be surprised!

CONTEMPLATE: The three identified attributes. Are there other aspects of God’s nature that would be equally effective in dealing with anxiety?

Next time we will look further into the implications of this trio of attributes.