Getting To Know God – 5

God is Righteous

When we look at the righteousness of God it is like a cut diamond.  There are so many different facets that the sum of each facet works together to compose the beauty of the whole.  The one word righteous is a description of the character and nature of God, diffused into all areas of life. 

The word “righteous” is defined in the Old Testament as “just, lawful, and equitable”.  It is both stable and consistent in all situations.  It is fair and therefore reasonable.  It is does not excuse the guilty but it does not stand in the way of restoration.  It considers all possibilities for all that is involved to find the most equitable resolution. 

Righteousness requires that the standards of righteousness be met.  Jesus asked, “can two walk together unless they be agreed”.  In order for God and man to be in agreement, they must meet on common ground.  Since God cannot change, then man must meet God on His terms.  This presents a real problem because man is sinful and God is Holy.  Man cannot raise himself to God’s standard because of his sin, and God cannot change to become sinful, we have an impossible situation.  No amount of effort or good works can change the sinful nature of man, therefore God has provided a way for man to be reconciled to God in His meeting the demand for justice in paying the cost for man’s sin (Death) in meeting that requirement Himself on the cross, and there by giving man the choice to be justified for his sin nature.

It is the righteousness of God that made the way for helpless and hopeless man to be justified.  God didn’t look on man’s condition as one of alienation but as one that can be redeemed.  He isn’t against man but He is against sin for sin is a rejection of His very nature. Man must make the choice to either accept God’s nature or choose to keep the old sinful nature that he is born with.  To make that choice is to also choose the consequences that it brings.  Therefore man chooses his outcome and destination.  God doesn’t want anyone to end up in hell as the Bible says, “It is not God’s will that any perish”.  Hell wasn’t made for man but was made for the devil and his angles.  God doesn’t send man to hell but man chooses to go there because he rejects the transforming work of Christ in refusing to follow Him.   

Some of the facets of the righteousness of God include fairness, justice, discernment, purity, Holiness, purity, virtue, and deliverance.  These (and others) are seen in the ways and works of God.  God is often seen as the Judge of all mankind.  While this is true, that alone is an incomplete statement.  He is not just a judge, He is The Righteous Judge.  2Timothy 4:8 Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing. He sees beyond the simple act to the intent of the heart.  Hebrews 4:12 For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. 

It is important that we see God as righteous.  While that does include discernment of the truth about ourselves it also includes His love and mercy toward us.  His desire is for us, that is He is ever longing and working for our good and bringing us to Himself and separating us from our sin that would enslave us and ultimately destroy us.

Getting To Know God – 4

God is Faithful

1 Corinthians 1:9 God is faithful, by whom ye were called unto the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord.

When we consider God within the context of His faithfulness we are sometimes left with the question, “so . . . ?”  There is no immediate revelation or shocking statement that grabs our attention as some of the other attributes of God does.  That is not to say that it is unimportant nor does it say that this is a lesser attribute but we do not see how vital a roll this attribute of God really is.  We have the tendency to simply take it for granted that God’s nature is so beyond us that of course, God is faithful, that is how God is. 

The word, faithful, means to us that God will keep His word and that He will always be there for us.  While that is true, it does not even come close to the fullness of its meaning.  It also cast a picture of God as some genie that provides us with that which we do not have and will be there for us in the event of some overwhelming situation that we cannot handle.  You see the picture; we are living our lives and God is our assistant while we are in control for the most of the time.  We are number one and God is in a supporting role.  Life is measured by my success and accomplishments; this would make us idolaters because God would have been demoted to being under us so that which has been elevated above has become an idol.  I am sure that the vast majority of people would never consciously choose this simplistic picture but the reality is that a number of people choose it because they do not see the importance of the faithfulness of God.

The faithfulness of God is an attribute of God that describes his dependability which is itself dependent up the immutability of God.  For those of you who are not familiar with immutability, it means the essence, attributes and consciousness of God that is unchangeable.  In this world that is struggling to find something solid that will stand and withstand all the forces against us, God is the one thing that will never change.  He is what He always has been and He will remain the same even after heaven and earth is passed away, and on forever.  He cannot change for the better for He is already perfect; neither can He change for the worse for the same reason.  Therefor His word is consistent throughout time and what was true before creation is also true within creation.  His plan for man is the same now as it was prior to man’s sin and Satan’s temptations could never thwart God’s plan for man.  It is both comforting and reassuring to know that God is great enough to bring us all the way home.

The application of this characteristic of God is tremendous.  Anything we have discover about God as to His character and essence is always true.  For example; Romans 5:8 But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.  And I John 1:9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.  In these two verses (and there are many other like verses) we see the eternal God consistently working to deliver us from the grip of sin.  There is no sin that He cannot forgive and He is ever reaching to us to set us free from sin’s grip.  God is faithful in His and purpose and only our own stubborn will prevents us from availing ourselves of this deliverance.

Response Needed

If this website is a help to you, I would appreciate hearing from you.  Where do you live?  What would you like for me to address?  How often do you check in?  How can I help?  My curiosity grows with the passing of time.  I have been doing this blog for over 2 years now and I really would like for your input on how I need to improve it. 

I did get one individual to interact with me recently and he told me that he couldn’t find a place to respond in the Q & A.  I looked at it and found he was right so that has been corrected.  You can go to any part of the site that has a response block to contact me and I will get it.  I am the only one that views your comments and I will not post anything that you don’t want posted.  Further, even if I post a comment I will make every effort to protect your confidentiality.  I do not share the information with anyone or any organization that can be hacked and endanger you in any way.  My sole interest in this website is to share things that will be beneficial to you in your faith walk with the Lord Jesus.

I have tried to let you know who I am and what I am about.  Further information is available in the about section or by request if you do not find it there.  You can review all of my post by searching them by topic or you can review them by date.  You can click on the cloud at the top of each post to drop me a note or ask a question.

This blog is for you and your benefit.  I make no money from it and I purposely do not allow popups and adds that waste your time and insult your intelligence.  I do it because I have been given insights that I want to share and I want to be a blessing, rather than seek a blessing.  I will do all I can do to make this site a true blessing to as many as I can.

Brother Vernon

Getting to Know God – Part 3

God is Holy

Ps 99:9 Exalt the LORD our God, and worship at his holy hill; for the LORD our God is holy.

In getting to know God, we must understand that God is Holy. What that means is that He is not like man.  A huge mistake that we make in considering what God is like is thinking that he is like us.  While it is true that man was made in the image of God, God is not in the image of man.  There are a number of major differences.  First of all, man is a created being but God has no beginning.  He is the creator but He was never created, Himself.  Our understanding comes from things that we know and our perspective is from within time and space and not outside of time and space.  Man was made in the similitude of God so that we could get some idea of what God is like but it is a mistake to equate man to God.  Man is finite while God is omnipotent; man is limited in knowledge but God is omniscient; man is contained within time and space while God is omnipresent; and man is under constant change while God is immutable, or unchangeable.  These differences are a great chasm between God and man.  That chasm was created by sin leaving man estranged from God and God estranged from man.  On the one side is Holy God and on the other is sinful man.  God cannot become less than holy or He ceases to be God.  Once man became sinful, he became incapable of making himself holy, righteous and good.

The second fact about the holiness of God is that we cannot make that crossing on our own.  God alone has the power, knowledge, presence, and will to reach across this chasm to make a way for man to cross to Him.  That way to God is Jesus Christ.  John 14:6 Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.  That way was opened when Jesus died on the cross and thereby opening the way to God.  Man must now be changed or transformed by the new birth experience which is also known as being born again.  God joins His Holy Spirit in the same way that the sperm is joined with the egg to make a new life; this new birth completes the transformation of the spirit.  The metamorphous must also happen to the soul in a process that we know as sanctification where our mind and will are transformed to be like the mind of Christ and a heart of love.  It is also where we take on the attributes of God, such as longsuffering, patients, etc.  It takes a lifetime for God to complete this change.  Finally, the body is metamorphosed or changed into a new body that is eternal and is like that of the resurrected Christ.  This is called glorification and happens at the rapture or catching away, where we are fully and finally completed in the image of God.

The third and final thing that we should learn about the holiness of God is that we must approach God in reverence, respect and awe.  This is the Biblical response of all who ever came into the presence of God.  It is not a requirement to be met by some merit and cannot be faked.  It is the natural response just as dry ground absorbs the rain.  It is the result of the discovery of who God really is.  It is the spiritual response of a child that has come home.

The Gates of Darkness

As I write this blog, I am thinking of the burden that the Lord has placed on my heart about training the church leadership in the Eastern Asia Countries.  It began last year when I made a mission trip to china and saw the hunger for the Bible and also saw the lack of training available for the house church pastor and church leadership.  The sacrifice they were willing to make just to attend a bible training meeting was soul searching. 

Then to be invited to speak at a Bible training conference in Japan this year had another impact on me.  As we were preparing for the conference, we visited a shrine and a temple there in Japan.  We were told that the entrance to the shrine or temple is always through a gate such as the one shown here. 

The entrance through a shrine gate

The purpose of the shrine is that the people have a place to worship and they would go through various exercises in order that the “gods” would bless them.  The gods were somewhat mystical in how they would respond but there was a void in the culture and this was established to fill that void.  It reminded me of Acts 17:23 For as I passed by, and beheld your devotions, I found an altar with this inscription, TO THE UNKNOWN GOD. Whom therefore ye ignorantly worship, him declare I unto you.

My thoughts then turned to Mt 16:18 And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.  If this worship is not of the only true God, then it is not a god at all but one of Satan’s haven of refuge that teaches his false doctrines and holds people in bondage.  Simply put it is the entrance to hell.  Jesus promised that the church would storm the gates of hell and they would not stand against the forces of God that He would bring against the forces of darkness This faith is the power and method of Christ working through the church.

We felt this power all through the conference that was attended by leadership of churches from 6 countries.  The conference was presented in three languages, English, Japanese and Chinese.  This may seem odd to some as the Chinese and Japanese have fought each other for a long time, yet about half of the attendees in this Japanese setting, came from China.  The theme of the conference was walking by faith and it extended over 4 days.  One of the features was the session in the evening where those attending the conference would share from their observations, what they had learned from the days events.  The worship sessions were a special blessing as the music was sang in three languages as well.  As we sang and worshiped together there was a unity of spirit that overshadowed all other separations so that we all focused on Christ alone and His presence was especially felt.  The afterglow that followed the day’s events was also a special blessing as it was spent in sharing and counseling as late as midnight and beyond.  This was a tremendous meeting and following it there have been additional results of three additional mission trips, and opened doors to additional possibilities.

This brings me to my burden for a training center in Japan.  I shared it with my pastor who not only endorsed it but also stated that this is where our mission efforts are projected.  He challenged me to write down my vision for such a conference and agreed to work with me in its concepts.  One of the pastors that attended the conference is now moving to Oklahoma to pastor a Chinese church there and we are meeting in December to also pray and plan for this Training Center.  Also, we will be meeting with Dr. Alan Bandy who is the NT professor at Oklahoma Baptist University who I spent a few days with over the Thanksgiving Day holidays.  I have also contacted some other Christian education schools who have also indicated their intentions to work with us on this project.

As my wife and I were returning home on the flight, I was following our progress on the monitor and considering the idea of a training center, I was jolted by what I saw on the monitor.  The route showed a satellite view of the ocean floor and just below the Aleutian Islands and on our route I saw 17:7, below the route and near the center of the picture.  The Aleutian Islands are above the route line and the islands are shown as the white portions.  You can see it also on Google Maps in the satellite view.

It has been there for thousands of years and was truly put there by God when He created the earth.  It was so plain but what did it mean?  I noted that this is the chapter and verse designation used in the Bible of separating the chapter and verse by a colon.  I began to look at each book that has 17 chapters or more and in the 17th chapter has a 7th verse.  There are 23 such verses in the Bible so which one was intended? 

Of the 23 verses in the Bible that have a 17:7 location, one stands out above all the rest because it is the only one that  references sacrifices offered unto devils and it is found in Leviticus 17:7 And they shall no more offer their sacrifices unto devils, after whom they have gone a whoring. This shall be a statute forever unto them throughout their generations. 

So I sense that the message is simply this, Go in faith that God intends to deliver those in bondage to false gods so that they may come to know the only true God, Jesus who is the Christ and He will deliver them.  Satan does not have the power to withstand against the church that walks by faith in Christ alone.

Getting to Know God – Part 2

God is light

1 John 1:5 This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.

In coming to know God, I cannot think of a better illustration of God to the human mind than the concept of light.  God wants for us to know Him as He is, and has taken the initiative in showing Himself to us, using the illustration of light. Light exposes all other materials in time and space just as God exposes Himself beyond time and space.  Light is a pure energy form different from that of other types of matter.  So also, God is a life form beyond life as we know it within time and space.  Light is not to be considered as a perfect definition of God, for He is past finding out, but it is illustrative of who He is.

Genesis 1:3 And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.  On the first day of creation, light was introduced as an intricate part of God’s creation.  We learn of our creation through our physical senses and sight is by far the greatest sense to teach is about our environment.  Without light we wouldn’t know anything near what we do know because of sight, which is possible because of light. 

Taking this thought to the next step, John 1:7-9 The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all men through him might believe.  8 He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light.  9 That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world.  John the Baptist declared that he was not that light but he also declared that Jesus is that true light.  Since God is light and Jesus is that true light, there can be but one conclusion and that is that Jesus is God.  He declared that He is the light of the world in John 9:5 As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.  Then a second time He repeated the claim in John 8:12 Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.  Onthis occasion He added that follows Him as a pattern of life will not walk in darkness but shall have the light of life (Jesus).  The Scripture goes on to state, that the purpose of the light is to illuminate (shine) in our hearts in such a way as to expose the knowledge of the glory of God as we behold the Lord Jesus.  2 Corinthians 4:6 For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.

Scripture goes on to declare additional benefits of walking in the light of fellowship with other believers and the continued cleansing from all our sin.  1Jo 1:7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.

God is indeed light.  Knowing God better will not only enable you to understand Him but will bring added benefit in understanding the spiritual realm; enhance our relationship with other Christians; and the continual cleansing from all our sin.   

Getting to Know God

 Part 1 – God is Love

1 John 4:16 And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him.

When we come to the word “love” we need to define the word in order to get an accurate meaning.  In the English translation we only have the one word, Love; but in the original language of the Bible there are several different words that are translated love.  I will only address three as the other words are a variation of these three.

The first one is “eros” and its meaning is sexual love.  It is the root word that we get our English word “erotic” from.  This word is not used anywhere in the Greek New Testament.  When it comes to any type of sexual love the New Testament is completely silent so we know that this does not describe God nor is it an important facet of worshiping Him.  This type of worship is only a part of pagan and heathen practice, and in no way is a part of worship of the one true God.  You won’t get to know God through this avenue.  Its practice is for the purpose of procreation and not worship

The second word is “phileo” and speaks of brotherly love or our value of another one.  It is the word that is used in our English word Philadelphia, known as the city of brotherly love.  The word “phileo” is also used in the word philanthropist, or a benevolent person.  It speaks of the highest type of love a person can have for another person without God’s involvement.  It refers to the love a mother has for her child or a man laying down his life for another.   It is both benevolent and sacrificial and is used several times in the New Testament.

The third word is “agape or agapao” and it describes God’s type of love as seen in John 3: 16 where it states that God so loved that He Gave His only Son.  This type of love is out of the character and nature of God Himself.  It is infinitely beyond phileo love in that it does not demand retribution nor is it based upon merit or degree.  It is freely given, unlimited in scope and without strings.  It is not found in man without God.  It is not natural to man nor can it be manufactured by man but comes only from God.  This is the word that is used to describe God. 

You cannot know this type of love until you come to know God.  Knowing God will bring you to know this type of love.  It is not natural, but supernatural.  His love is expressed in His sacrifice of Jesus on the cross to pay for our sin.  A debt that we could never pay, yet the Bible declares Ro 5:8 But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.  We cannot earn it nor do we deserve it, but it is given to us as a free gift by our returning to Him and receiving it as a free gift.  We call that grace.  If it is not of grace then it is of works and will utterly frustrate the grace of God.  It is disrespectful to attempt to know Him any other way that the way He opened to us.  If you are to know God then you must respond to His love for you in the way of loving Him back and not disrespecting His love for you.

The Necessity of the Struggle

1Co 2:3 And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling.  4 And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power:  5 That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.

When we think of the Apostle Paul, we often think of a man who presented his message powerfully and had everything under control, when in fact that is just the opposite of how it was.  He was a man of small stature, and his appearance was marred because of a physical ailment.  To see him you would not think that he was significant or mighty and would not intimidate you in any way.

He did not even suggest that was the answer to your problems for he had problems of his own.  He struggled continually with the carnal nature and the elements of this world.  So what made him so effective?  It was the struggle itself, because people do not need to see the greatness of another person, but the greatness of God.  When we trust Him, He alone is the solution to our struggles.  By seeing Paul in his weakness, they could see the greatness of God.

We often slip into the thinking that it is our strength, or wisdom or our presentation that conveniences and convicts others to come to Christ.  In reality, that may be the very thing that stands in the way of them trusting God for that is the job of the Holy Spirit.  Even if we could persuade them by our efforts then they would become dependent upon us instead of God and their faith in us would not help them, but would be a hindrance to their faith in God. 

But there is another purpose in God’s plan beyond our usability, and that is our own growth.  Note that Paul specifically stated that it was for our own faith that would bring stability with God.  It is encouraging to see faith work for someone else but it is life changing when faith works in our own life.  Like the adage “give a man a fish and you feed him for a day, but teach a man to fish and you feed him for life.”, so it is with faith.  Show a man faith and he has the pattern, but when he proves God for himself he has hope and promise.

Faith in God only comes after the old nature has been subdued.  The reason for this is that our old nature fights to be in control and the conflict is not won until the old nature is overcome.  This is a task that we cannot accomplish through any natural means and it requires supernatural power which we do not have until we place our faith in Him.  John 1:12 But as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name.  The struggle is necessary for the individual to release his grip on the controls and take his place as a passenger on this journey to forever.  We do not have the wisdom nor the skills to navigate life successfully.  The struggle is within us and the victory is won by surrendering to the Lord as our pilot (Savior) by trusting Him to get us home safely. In our weakness, we are made strong and in our coming under His control we are saved.

Planning Ahead

Here it is the middle of January, 2020 and already the calendar is starting to fill up. 

The one project that I have every year is filing my taxes so this year I have already started.  I got out my receipts and began to organize them so that I can lay my hands on the necessary information much easier.  I was able to get many of them together and organized and am already feeling less stress.

Another project is to teach a 10 week course on Faith, using my book as the basic of the study.  We had our first meeting last night and I felt it went well.  We covered the first 1 ½ chapters and while that sounds like a lot, the first few chapters are rather short and since there are 11 chapters, we will have to hurry to be able to complete the book in 10 1 hour sessions.

Another project that I hope to complete this year is the translation of my book into Japanese and Spanish.  The Japanese translation is nearing completion while the Spanish translation is stalled and I’m not sure what the problem is.  I know that my translator’s mother is not in good health and takes a lot of time but I sense that there is more to it than that and I need to know how to pray for her that Satan’s schemes can be thwarted. 

My Japanese translator’s oldest daughter is going through a tremendous spiritual battle and really could use your prayers.  She must make a choice that will affect her for the rest of her life and she is being pulled greatly in both directions.  Please pray for her victory.

We are in the planning stage for this year’s mission projects.  As you may know, our church is involved in mission projects all over the world.  It is our task to get our marching orders from the Lord.  Sometimes it is hard to distinguish between request from others, our own perception and what the Lord is actually directing.  There are many needs and limitations but we are given the ministry of reconciliation so it is a labor of love. 

Today we went to see the doctor for my wife’s three month checkup since her knee replacement.  She was told that everything looks great and that she is progressing very well.  The doctor even commented that they would like for all their patients to do so well.  We have sensed that the Lord has really helped her through this experience.  She now walks like she did years ago and she is mostly pain free.  She will continue to improve for several months yet and could even become better than she was before she started having problems with it.