Our God: Awesome in Power and Glory-Always Battling for His PeopleRelated Media
One of the attributes of God's greatness is his infinite and awesome power, particularly displayed in creation and redemption. In a children's book entitled Is A Blue Whale the Biggest Thing There Is? Robert Wells gives us a taste of God's power in creation; he takes us from a size we can grasp to one we can't.1
The largest animal on earth is the blue whale. Just the flippers on its tail are bigger than most animals on earth.
But a blue whale isn't anywhere as big as a mountain. If you put hundreds of blue whales in a huge jar, you could put millions of "whale jars" in a hollowed out Mount Everest.
But Mount Everest isn't nearly as big as the earth. If you stacked a hundred Mount Everests on top of each other they would only be a whisker on the face of the earth.
And the earth isn't anywhere as big as the sun. You could fit over one million earths inside the sun.
But the sun, which scientists tell us is a medium size star, isn't anywhere as big as the red supergiant star called Antares. Fifty million-that's right, count them all-fifty million of our suns could fit inside Antares.
But Antares isn't anywhere as big as the Milky Way galaxy. Billions of stars, including supergiants like Antares, as well as countless comets and asteroids, actually make up the Milky Way galaxy.
But the Milky Way galaxy isn't near as big as the universe. There are literally, billions of other galaxies in the universe. And yet, filled with billions of galaxies, the universe is almost totally empty. The distances from one galaxy to another are beyond our fertile imaginations. It simply defies exhaustive comprehension. And so does the One who made it! To think that he did all this with just a spoken word! Incredible! "Righteous"...as certain young people are wont to say these days. But if the truth be known, it was only an infinitely limited expression of his power. He did it in his sleep!
So when you approach your God today, come with humility, a profound sense of wonder, and a sober fear of displeasing him. For He is awesome in power and a fierce and relentless warrior on behalf of his people. There is good reason the Hebrews referred to him as El Shaddai, "the Almighty," Ish Milchamah, "a man of war"!
God is omnipotent; there is no end to his power to accomplish his saving purposes. Jeremiah the prophet said, "Ah sovereign Lord, you have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and outstretched hand. Nothing is too hard for you" (32:17)!
Whatever your needs are, you have not exhausted his strength and power. Whatever your concerns, you have not run his emotional well dry. Whatever your situation, his hand is not too short to save, provide, lead, and fight for you. Whatever the depth of your offenses against him, he is not prevented from forgiving, releasing, and drawing near the truly repentant person. Nothing is too hard for him!
Meditate on Moses' song from Exodus 15 and highlight the different names, attributes, and actions ascribed to God. He is worthy of our unquestioning obedience and devotion. Think also of Moses' response to God's deliverance! God is always in the business of saving his people and opposing those who oppose them.
15:1 Then Moses and the Israelites sang this song to the Lord: "I will sing to the Lord for he has triumphed gloriously, the horse and its rider he has thrown into the sea. 15:2 Yahweh is my strength and my song, and he has become my salvation. This is my God and I will praise him, my father's God, and I will exalt him. 15:3 The Lord is a man of war, the Lord is his name. 15:4 The chariots of Pharaoh and his army he has thrown into the sea, and his chosen officers were drowned in the Sea of Reeds. 15:5 The depths have covered over them, they went down to the bottom like a stone. 15:6 Your right hand, O Lord, was majestic in power, your right hand, O Lord, shattered the enemy. 15:7 And in the greatness of your majesty you have overthrown those who rise up against you. You sent forth your wrath; it consumed them like stubble. 15:8 And by the blast of your nostrils the waters were piled up, the waters stood upright like a heap, and the deep waters were congealed in the heart of the sea. 15:9 The enemy said, "I will chase, I will overtake, I will divide the spoil; my desire will be satisfied on them. I will draw my sword, my hand will destroy them." 15:10 But you blew with your breath, and the sea covered them. They sank like lead in the mighty waters. 15:11 Who is like you, O Lord, among the gods? Who is like you?-majestic in holiness, fearful in praises, working wonders? 15:12 You stretched out your right hand, the earth swallowed them. 15:13 By your loyal love you will lead the people whom you have redeemed; you will guide them by your strength to your holy habitation. 15:14 The people will hear and be afraid; anguish will take hold of the inhabitants of Philistia. 15:15 Then the chiefs of Edom will be terrified,/netbible/exo15_notes.htm the leaders of Moab will be seized with trembling, and the inhabitants of Canaan will melt away. 15:16 Fear and dread will fall on them; by the greatness of your arm they will be as still as stone until your people pass over, O Lord, until the people pass over, which you have bought. 15:17 You will bring them in and plant them in the mountain of your inheritance, in the place, O Lord, you made for your residence, the sanctuary, O Lord, your hands have established. 15:18 The Lord will reign for ever and ever! 15:19 For the horses of Pharaoh went with his chariots and his footmen into the seas, and the Lord brought again the waters of the sea on them, but the Israelites went on dry land in the midst of the sea." 15:20 Then Miriam the prophetess, the sister of Aaron, took a hand-drum in her hand, and all the women went out after her with hand-drums and with dances. 15:21 And Miriam sang antiphonally to them, "Sing to the Lord, for he has triumphed gloriously; the horse and its rider he has thrown into the sea."
Consider also, the words of the angel to the church in Philadelphia (note the highlighted section):
3:7 "To the angel of the church in Philadelphia write the following: "This is the solemn pronouncement of the Holy One, the True One, who holds the key of David, who opens doors no one can shut, and shuts doors no one can open: 3:8 `I know your deeds. (Look! I have put in front of you an open door that no one can shut.) I know that you have little strength, but you have obeyed my word and have not denied my name. 3:9 Listen! I am going to make those people from the synagogue of Satan-who say they are Jews yet are not, but are lying-Look, I will make them come and bow down at your feet and acknowledge that I have loved you. 3:10 Because you have kept my admonition to endure steadfastly, I will also keep you from the hour of testing that is about to come on the whole world to test those who live on the earth. 3:11 I am coming soon. Hold on to what you have so that no one can take away your crown. 3:12 The one who conquers I will make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he will never depart from it. I will write on him the name of my God and the name of the city of my God (the new Jerusalem that comes down out of heaven from my God), and my new name as well. 3:13 The one who has an ear had better hear what the Spirit says to the churches.'
1 Robert Wells, Is A Blue Whale the Biggest Thing There Is? (Morton Grove, IL: Albert Whitman, 1993).
"I Am with You Always, Through Thick and Thin"
God is all powerful and all knowing. But have you thought recently about his relationship to space? Not to outer-space, per se, but his relationship to everywhere in the world? The God whom you worship is omnipresent. Jeremiah said it well: "Can anyone hide in secret places, so that I cannot see him?" declares the Lord. "Do not I fill heaven and earth?" declares the Lord (Jer 23:24).
This means that wherever we are, God is there. This means that right now God is near you and if you're a Christian he is with you-in a very special way-with his whole being and in absolutely undivided attention. And yet, at the same time, and in the same way, he is with me and each of our brothers and sisters around the world. Thus there is an intimate relationship between his infinite knowledge and his presence. The psalmist knew this and marveled at God's wonderful nature:
In Psalm 139:1-4 the psalmist is quite aware of God's knowledge of everything about him...
139:1 O LORD, you examine me and know. 139:2 You know when I sit down and when I get up; even from far away you understand my motives. 139:3 You carefully observe me when I travel or when I lie down to rest; you are aware of everything I do. 139:4 Certainly my tongue does not frame a word without you, O LORD, being thoroughly aware of it. 139:5 You squeeze me in from behind and in front; you place your hand on me. 139:6 Your knowledge is way beyond my comprehension; it is so far beyond me, I am unable to fathom it.
...the psalmist then relates God's intimate knowledge of us to his presence with us:
139:7 Where can I go to escape your spirit? Where can I flee to escape your presence? 139:8 If I were to ascend to heaven, you would be there. If I were to sprawl out in Sheol, there you would be. 139:9 If I were to fly away on the wings of the dawn, and settle down on the other side of the sea, 139:10 even there your hand would guide me, your right hand would grab hold of me. 139:11 If I were to say, aaCertainly the darkness will cover me, and the light will turn to night all around me,aa 139:12 even the darkness is not too dark for you to see, and the night is as bright as day, darkness and light are the same to you.
...then the psalmist marries God's knowledge and presence with his power in creation. God is the One who created us and determined the plan for our lives (cf. Acts 17:24-28):
139:13 Certainly you made my kidneys, you wove me together in my mother's womb. 139:14 I will give you thanks, because your deeds are awesome and amazing. You knew me thoroughly, 139:15 my bones were not hidden from you, when I was made in secret, and sewed together in the depths of the earth. 139:16 Your eyes saw me when I was a fetus. All the days ordained for me were recorded in your scroll before one of them came into existence (see Jer 1:5).
Is it any wonder that the psalmist ends up with a penetratingly clear realization of his own limitations and creaturely-ness in contrast to God's infinite knowledge, presence, and power...
139:17 How difficult it is for me to fathom your thoughts about me, O God! How vast are their sum total! 139:18 If I tried to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand. Even if I finished counting them, I would still have to contend with you.
...The net result is that we should desire the establishment of God's kingdom both in the world and in our own lives as well!
139:19 If only you would kill the wicked, O God! Get away from me, you violent men! 139:20 They rebel against you and act deceitfully; your enemies lie. 139:21 O LORD, do I not hate those who hate you, and despise those who oppose you? 139:22 I absolutely hate them, they have become my enemies. 139:23 Examine me, and probe my thoughts! Test me, and know my concerns! 139:24 See if there is any idolatrous tendency in me, and lead me in the reliable ancient path!
So what difference does all this make? Well, let's think about it. God's omnipresence means that Jesus will be with us as we set out on our mission to make disciples of all nations. He told the disciples that all authority had been given to him and that they were to go and share his message of faith and obedience to all peoples on the globe and then added, "And surely I am with you always, even to the very end of the age" (Matt 28:19-20; cf. Gen 28:15).
His omnipresence also means that when people do come to Christ, and there are problems in relationships, Christians can get together to work out those problems with the full knowledge that Christ is there present with them. In Matt 18:20 he said-in the context of church discipline-that aawhenever two or three come together in my name (i.e., to restore a sinning brother or sister), there am I with them.aa Now the truth is that Jesus is with Christians whether there's one person present or one-hundred, but he wants us to know that he will not abandon us in the difficult aspects of discipleship. We can count on his presence when we have to deal with a sinning brother, confront a spouse, question an erring teenager, fire an employee, meet the legitimate expectations of our children, face difficulties at work, deal with irate customers, etc.
Therefore, the truth of God's omnipresence is good news because it assures us that no matter what God calls us to do or what he permits to happen in our lives, he will be there with us. He will never leave or forsake us.
Related Topics: Devotionals
So What's the Rush? Stay and TalkRelated Media
United States National Park officials welcome 250 million people to their treasured parks each year. Most visitors are day trippers, coming to look and run. In 1983, the average time spent for all forty-eight national parks was four and one-half hours. For Isle Royale it was four days, perhaps due to remoteness. But, Yosemite or Sequoia, Yellowstone or Glacier National Park in four and one-half hours? To so heatedly race in and out of these stunning temples of granite offers no time to pause, let alone stop and look, listen and smell the delights of the mountains, rivers and high country.
What's even worse is that our conversations with God often fare no better. We rush in and out, with a McDonald's drive through spirituality, often missing God's majesty in our haste to go nowhere.
Now this is in part due to our weak comprehension of the beauty and goodness of God. In a culture driven insatiably by this-worldly infatuation, our knowledge of God is scarce, questionable, and threatens prayer with extinction. This is why when Jesus taught on prayer-since he had to deal with the same problems we face today-he expended considerable energy explaining the good nature of God.
So our prayer times often look more like a pit stop on race day at Daytona than a purposeful and delightful stroll through a beautiful park on a spring afternoon. But we did not learn this from Christ. Not a chance! Our Model was different. He was constantly in prayer and for long periods of time. Such was his devotion to prayer and his relationship with the Father that the writer of Hebrews-probably pulling on early church tradition concerning Christ's earthly ministry, including Gethsemane-was prompted to say that "During his earthly life [Jesus] offered both requests and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to the one who was able to save him from death and he was heard because of his reverent submission" (Heb 5:7).
Let's take a brief look at Hebrews 5:7. The stress in this wonderful passage is generally on the humanity of Christ, that he was truly human-like we are, yet without sin-and needed communion with the Father. He prayed constantly and seriously with great concentration, knowledge of God, and sincerity. The term "supplications" is more intense than "requests" and has been associated by some NT scholars with the ancient practice of holding out an olive branch as a sign of appeal.1 Further, the reference to "loud cries and tears" expresses anguish, struggle, and a deep sense of humble submission to the will of God. Rabbinic tradition suggests that "there are three kinds of prayers, each loftier than the preceding: prayer, crying, and tears. Prayer is made in silence: crying with raised voice; but tears overcome all things (`there is no door through which tears do not pass')."2 Finally, though Gethsemane is an excellent example of Hebrews 5:7, the writer says that this kind of prayer characterized the days of Jesus' life. Our Lord prayed seriously and without ceasing; he loved his Father deeply.
So where are we in this regard? Do we pray constantly? Seriously? With great strength? Or, do we pray once in a while, with passing interest and no real conviction? If this is the case, do not turn inward with a "woe is me" attitude. This will accomplish nothing. Instead, begin to ask God to teach you to pray and expect that you can learn much. This is one of the problems in our churches. We really don't believe that prayer is something that has to be learned through practice, trial, and error. If this were not the case-i.e., that prayer did not need to be learned-then Jesus would never have had to teach his disciples to pray and critique wrong-headed prayer (Matthew 6:5-15)? While it is true that even children can pray, and should, it is equally untrue that adults should remain childish in regard to their prayers. There is a difference between that which is simple and that which is simplistic-and nave. The latter is no virtue.
I leave you with one example which illustrates the "ongoingness" of Jesus' prayer life. The story is in John 11. Martha and Mary informed Jesus that their brother, Lazarus-a person whom Jesus loved-was sick. Now Lazarus was in Bethany in Judea and Jesus was probably across the Jordan to the east when the news reached him. But, instead of departing immediately to attend to his friend, he spent two more days where he was (11:1-6). Then he journeyed to be with his friend.
As Jesus came close to the village of Bethany, he met Martha and eventually Mary. He comforted both of them because Lazarus had died and was buried four days earlier. Jesus himself was deeply moved and wept (11:35). He then went to the tomb where they had laid Lazarus and asked that the stone be moved away. After the stone had been taken away, Jesus looked up to heaven and uttered a most amazing prayer. The part that interests me here is:
"Father, I thank you that you have listened to me" (John 11:41).
The point I wish to make is that nowhere in the text does it say that Jesus had been praying. When, therefore, did God listen to him? If it were a general reference to his prayer life in the past, we would expect to see the word "always" inserted here: "Father, I thank you that you have always listened to me."3 But this is not the case. The context suggests, on the other hand, that from the moment he had heard about it, he had been offering prayer for his friend Lazarus, and for all the people involved, namely, his disciples and friends.4 We may logically infer, then, that his prayers regarding this issue were constant and perhaps silent as he traveled from across the Jordan to Bethany. The fact that he knew when Lazarus died (11:11),5 apart it would seem, from any human means, makes this more tenable. Further, his confidence that God wanted to raise Lazarus from the dead was most likely developed through prayer and communion with God (11:14-15, 23, 40). In any case, the point is that he was praying continuously and as such he provides an excellent model for us. Jesus did not succumb to a drive-through mentality; he was in no rush to skate past God's mountains, rivers, and high country.
1 Donald Guthrie, Hebrews, Tyndale New Testament Commentaries, ed. Leon Morris, vol. 15 (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1983), 129.
2 Leon Morris, "Hebrews," in The Expositor's Bible Commentary, ed. Frank E. Gaebelein, vol. 12 (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1981), 49.
3 The fact that it is in the next phrase does not change the thesis advanced here since there it is used with a pluperfect tense verb, i.e., "I knew," whereas the first phrase is in the aorist tense.
4 The whole event is orchestrated to develop the faith of the disciples (11:14-15) as well as Mary and Martha (11:17-37).
5 All he knew up to that point in the text is the report of the illness. There was no mention that Lazarus was dead.
Related Topics: Devotionals
Caught Up in a Story of Wild ProportionsRelated Media
"When I was a small boy," says Bruce Larson, "I attended church every Sunday at a big Gothic Presbyterian bastion in Chicago. The preaching was powerful and the music was great. But for me, the most awesome moment in the morning service was the offertory, when twelve solemn, frock-coated ushers marched in lock-step down the main aisle to receive the brass plates for collecting the offering. These men, so serious about their business of serving the Lord in this magnificent house of worship, were the business and professional leaders of Chicago.
"One of the twelve ushers was a man named Frank Loesch. He was not a very imposing-looking man, but in Chicago he was a living legend, for he was the man who had stood up to Al Capone. In the prohibition years, Capone's rule was absolute. The local and state police and even the Federal Bureau of Investigation were afraid to oppose him. But single-handedly, Frank Loesch, as a Christian layman and without any government support, organized the Chicago Crime Commission, a group of citizens that was determined to take Mr. Capone to court and put him away. During the months that the Crime Commission met, Frank Loesch's life was in constant danger. There were threats on the lives of his family and friends. But he never wavered. Ultimately, he won the case against Capone and was the instrument for removing this blight from the city of Chicago. Frank Loesch had risked his life to live out God's call on his life.
"Each Sunday at this point in the service, my father, a Chicago businessman himself, never failed to poke me and silently point to Frank Loesch with pride. Sometimes I'd catch a tear in my father's eye. For my dad, and for all of us, this was and is what authentic Christian living is all about."
There is nothing like a living example of truth to dispel the fog from our brains and motivate us to action. Truth clothed in flesh is like meeting a famous radio personality for the first time; it's amazing how different they look from what you had imagined.
My brothers and sisters around the world, it is time to live out our faith and to graciously stand for what we know to be right. It's time to seek God for our families, towns, cities, countries, and world. Yesterday I went with a friend of mine, early in the morning, to walk around a high school and pray for the students, teachers, principal, vice principal, parents, maintenance crew, and every other person connected to the school. There is so much violence, drug abuse, immorality, and general hopelessness among our teens these days that such anguish has certainly reached heaven's ears. Certainly God is concerned about the oppression people are under and has come down to see if the situation is as grave as he's been told!
Genesis 18:20 So the Lord said, "The outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is so great and their sin so blatant 18:21 that I must go down and see if they are as wicked as the outcry suggests. If not, I want to know."
Jonah 4:10 The Lord said, "You were upset about this little plant, something for which you have not worked nor did you do anything to make it grow. It grew up overnight and died the next day. 4:11 Should I not be even more concerned about Nineveh this enormous city? There are more than one hundred twenty thousand people in it who do not know right from wrong, as well as many animals!"
We're praying for ways to serve and bless all those connected to the school: "Lord, lead us in our prayers! Lead us into the kinds of ministries you want to see developed there. What is the best way to serve these people, share the gospel, and disciple them?" Our ultimate aim is to see a vibrant, Spirit-led, scripturally relevant church planted at the school and all sorts of ministries going on for the kids and staff there. We want to see the Lord of love, life, and liberty exalted in that place. We want to see people worship Him with zeal, power, and understanding. We want to see them delivered from their addictions, futility, and idolatry and brought into the kingdom of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ (Col 1:13-14).
Look carefully at what God said to Moses:
Exodus 3:7 Then the Lord said, "I have surely seen the affliction of my people who are in Egypt. I have heard their cry because of their taskmasters, for I know their sorrows. 3:8 I have come down to deliver them from the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up from that land to a land that is both good and large, to a land flowing with milk and honey, to the territory of the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites. 3:9 And now, indeed, the cry of the Israelites has come to me, and I have also seen how severely the Egyptians oppress them. 3:10 So now, go, and I will send you [Moses] to Pharaoh to bring my people, the Israelites, out of Egypt."
Notice how the idea of "deliverance" is God's, but he chooses to send people to serve Him in the process of saving others. God is the One who sees oppression; we are those who either create it or comply with it. But God stands against it and marshals himself and others to do something redemptive about it.
But notice that he doesn't do it alone. He says, "I have come down to deliver..." but then he commands Moses, telling him to "go!" For some reason it seems that God loves to involve people in his plans. God sees oppression, so he sends a person to bring about a new state of affairs where righteousness, peace, and love reign! In other words, we get the privilege of walking with him and participating first hand in his world-changing plans! Wow!
So ask yourself a question today: "God, what great plan of yours are you calling me into? How can I serve you like Frank Loesch served you? What are you doing in my midst and how can I get on board?" You may find yourself caught up in story of wild proportions! Just read on in Exodus and see what I mean...
Related Topics: Devotionals
Knowing Diamonds or Loving Diamonds: Which Is It?Related Media
The famous New York diamond dealer Harry Winston heard about a wealthy Dutch merchant who was looking for a certain kind of diamond to add to his collection. Winston called the merchant, told him that he thought he had the perfect stone, and invited the collector to come to New York and examine it.
The collector flew to New York and Winston assigned a salesman to meet him and show him the diamond. When the salesman presented the diamond to the merchant he described the expensive stone by pointing out all its fine technical features. The merchant listened and praised the stone but turned away and said, “It’s a wonderful stone but not exactly what I wanted.”
Winston, who had been watching the presentation from a distance, stopped the merchant and asked, “Do you mind if I show you the diamond once again?” The merchant agreed and Winston presented the same stone. But, instead of talking about the technical features of the stone, Winston spoke spontaneously about his own genuine admiration of the diamond and what a rare thing of beauty it was. Abruptly, the customer changed his mind and bought the diamond.
While he was waiting for the diamond to be packaged and brought to him, the merchant turned to Winston and asked, “Why did I buy it from you when I had no difficulty saying no to your salesman?”
Winston replied, “The salesman is one of the best in the business and he knows more about diamonds than I do. I pay him a good salary for what he knows. But I would gladly pay him twice as much, if I could put into him something I have and he lacks. You see, he knows diamonds, but I love them.”
Do you just know about Christ? Do you unconsciously equate knowing the Bible or theology with really loving Him? Or, do you know Him and love Him? Is your Christianity rooted solely in the intellectual technicalities of the faith? Or, are you emotionally and spiritually in love with your Savior? Does He command your best thoughts, draw out your deepest desires, and secure your happy and willing allegiance? Have you experienced His wooing? His attractive presence? Is there a joyful spontaneity about your relationship? Or, is your Christianity predictable—akin to watching the same ol’ miserable reruns you once loved, but have now grown quite tired of? Your life can burst forth like a song, you know, it doesn’t have to read like a telephone book!
Listen to the passion of the apostle Paul: “My purpose is to know him, to experience the power of his resurrection, to share in his sufferings, and to be like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead” (Phil 3:10-11). When I read this passage the first time (and many times since), I bowed my head and asked God to grant me the same heart he gave Paul. Wouldn’t it be great, I imagined, to love Christ like this! So free! So fearless! So all encompassing! I want to know him, experience his power, share in his sufferings, and be like Christ in his death. I want my life to be so taken up into His that I might be able to cry out, “For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain” (Phil 1:21)! There are moments, however, when I shudder to think how God might fulfill that prayer, but in the end his perfect love drives out all fear.
In short, I think it’s necessary to know and understand theology, the scriptural text in detail, church history, apologetics, and anything else that stimulates our thinking and commitment to truth. But, blessed are those who love our Lord Jesus Christ more than these; who understand the difference between finding a famous site on a map and being there to enjoy it in person. Blessed are those who love Him with an undying love (Eph 6:24). Blessed are those who intuit the difference between knowing a lot about diamonds and loving the One, True Diamond!
Related Topics: Devotionals
He Pitched His Tent Among UsRelated Media
When narcotic's squad detectives recently raided a loft apartment in a depressed area of New York City, they came on a scene straight out of "The Beggar's Opera." Every square foot of the long, dingy apartment was crowded with human derelicts who were sleeping on the floor, or sitting huddled in corners; dimly visible overhead were a number of gay paper ceiling ornaments, left over from the days when the loft had been a dance hall. After searching the crowd, the detectives arrested six men who were carrying hypodermic needles and packets of heroin; they also arrested the derelicts' host, a mild, weedy-looking man who was charged with harboring drug addicts in his apartment.
At police headquarters, the weedy-looking man claimed he was actually well-to-do, but that he had chosen to live among the homeless in order to provide them with food, shelter, and clothing. His door, he said, was open to all, including a small minority of narcotic addicts, since he had not known it was against the law to feed and clothe people with the drug habit. Checking his story, the police found that the man was neither a vagrant nor a drug addict. He was John Sargent Cram, a millionaire who had been educated at Princeton and Oxford, and whose family had long been known for its philanthropies.1
So it is with God in Christ. He too, though rich beyond measure, left His penthouse dwelling and made His home among the homeless, destitute, and morally shunned of this world. He left His palace of gold to walk streets of mud...and he did it to rescue us (Gal 1:4). He left a drug-free zone to live with pill pushers and drug dealers, determined to feed, clothe, and redeem them. As John said, Jesus pitched his tent among us and we have beheld his glory, the glory of the One and Only, Son of God (John 1:14).
Have you ever given serious meditation and prayer to the thought of the incarnation, that is, to the fact that God somehow clothed Himself with human frailty in order to live among those with unclean hands and tainted hearts? It's as mysterious as it is wonderful that God Himself should visit His planet and pitch His tent among us-among the Pharisees, tax-collectors, prostitutes, and the poor and needy. Like a breathtaking sunset, clothed in rich purple, orange, and blue, the thought of the incarnation is marvelous, utterly mysterious, and majestic. That my God should leave the richest fair to eat with those on the street is utterly wonderful and incomprehensible.
Toady, as you go about your business, think deeply about Jesus Christ, especially about the cost he paid to dwell with us as the God-man. Ask yourself some questions: (1) Would you have made the sacrifice? (2) What are some implications that flow from the truth that the eternal Son of God has forever clothed Himself with humanity? Have you considered that? The second person of the trinity will forever walk with us as the incarnate Son of God. At no point in the eternal state will he give up His glorified body. (3) What does the incarnation say about God's desire to fellowship with us? (4) How was Jesus' first coming both a revelation of who God is, but also a veiling at the same time? (5) What does the incarnation say about God's view of creation? (6) How does one reverently worship God in light of our knowledge of the incarnation?
1 Charles R. Swindoll, ed. The Tale of the Tardy Oxcart and 1,501 Other Stories (Nashville: Word, 1998), 111.
Related Topics: Devotionals
Go for the WineRelated Media
Every now and again we must be reminded that the Lord's Prayer begins with "Our Father" and not "Our needs." Prayer involves access to the presence of God, first and foremost. C. S. Lewis observed essentially the same thing. In discussing the question of whether prayer really "works," with his candid insight, he explains that,
The very question `Does prayer work?' puts us in the wrong frame of mind from the outset. `Work': as if it were magic, or a machine-something that functions automatically. Prayer is either a sheer illusion or a personal contact between embryonic, incomplete persons (ourselves) and the utterly concrete Person. Prayer in the sense of petition, asking for things, is a small part of it; confession and penitence are its threshold, adoration its sanctuary, the presence and vision and enjoyment of God its wine. In it God shows himself to us. That he answers prayers is a corollary-not necessarily the most important one-from the revelation. What he does is learned from what he is.1
Now we are clearly not saying, nor would God ever endorse the idea, that making requests of Him is unchristian or pure paganism. Not at all. But, we are saying that coming to Him only for what we can get out of Him or constantly coming to Him, first for what He can give us, is sub-Christian. This is the same mistake made by those who revel in God's promises all the while divorcing them from the Promise-Giver who wants to be known personally as the Faithful One. These people want the gifts, but not the Giver. They've passed over the adoration and the presence and vision of God for something less.
Therefore, what prayer is really all about knowing God intimately, and while that entails answers to prayer, the more important fact is communion with Him and the enjoyment of His presence. Communion with Him, however, is deeply rooted in who we understand Him to be. A. W. Tozer has said that,
what comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us. ...the gravest question before the church is always God himself, and the most portentous fact about any man is not what he at any given time may say or do, but what he in his deep heart conceives God to be like. ...Always the most revealing thing about the Church is her idea of God, just as her most significant message is what she says about him or leaves unsaid. ...Were we able to extract from any man a complete answer to the questions, "What comes into your mind when you think about God?" we might be able to predict with certainty the spiritual future of that man. Were we able to know exactly what our most influential religious leaders think of God today, we might be able with some precision to foretell where the church will stand tomorrow.2
Our understanding of God is absolutely crucial to our relationship with Him and especially to our prayer lives. Prayer is carried to God in faith. Growing faith, in many respects, is dependent on who we think God really is. Therefore, the vibrancy of our prayer lives is directly dependent on our thoughts and our personal knowledge of God.
This may answer the question as to why there is so little real prayer in our churches today. People do not think about their God very often, and according to the latest polls in evangelicalism, not very seriously either.3
Here I am not referring solely to "knowledge" as mastering systematic theological outlines and details, though it most certainly entails this kind of thinking. Rather, I am referring to a deep, theological understanding of God, ourselves, and our world, as pressed home to our hearts in biblical study, meditation, prayer/worship, and going through temptation.
But, while the distance from the head to the heart in most people is only about 12 inches, the pipeline joining the two appears to be less than the width of a straw. The solution: Repentance and Trust-trust expressed in sincere and devout reflection on God in his Word and in His presence. We must also reflect on what godly theologians as teachers of the church have said about Him in the past and present. But we must do so with humility and prolonged meditation, not just to fill our heads for the next unsuspecting victim, but to be truly drawn into a fuller experience of and relationship with our Savior! We must lay hold of God himself! We must go for the wine, as C. S Lewis has said. What would that look like for you?
1 C. S. Lewis, "The Efficacy of Prayer," in Fern-seed and Elephants and Other Essays on Christianity, ed. Walter Hooper (Glasgow: Collins, 1975), 101.
2 A. W. Tozer, Knowledge of the Holy (Harper & Row, San Francisco, 1961), 1-2.
3 See Os Guinness, Fit Bodies, Fat Minds: Why Evangelicals Don't Think and What To Do about It (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1994); Mark Noll, The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1994).
Amazing GraceRelated Media
It is quite a simple step, logically, that is, to move from our sinfulness to God's love expressed in His grace. For if He is to love us at all-and He most certainly does-it must be a love rooted in His graciousness. He could have demanded that we meet certain expectations before He showered us with every good thing His benevolent heart could dream of. But, if this were the case, we would never have enjoyed His love. For "there is no one righteous, no, not even one" (Rom 3:10). But the love of God is manifested brilliantly in His grace toward undeserving sinners. And that is exactly what grace is: God's love flowing freely to the unlovely.
In Pursuit, author and evangelist Luis Palau writes:
Thank God his grace isn't "fair." A couple of years ago, one of my nephews (I'll call him Kenneth) was near death. He had AIDS. During a family reunion in the hills of northern California, Kenneth and I broke away for a short walk. He was a hollow shell, laboring for breath.
"Kenneth, you know you're going to die any day," I said. "Do you have eternal life? Your parents agonize. I must know."
"Luis, I know God has forgiven me and I'm going to heaven."
For several years, since his early teens, Kenneth had practiced homosexuality. More than that, in rebellion against God and his parents, he flaunted his lifestyle.
"Kenneth, how can you say that?" I replied. "You rebelled against God, you made fun of the Bible, you hurt your family terribly. And now you say you've got eternal life, just like that?"
"Luis, when the doctor said that I had AIDS, I realized what a fool I'd been."
"We know that," I said bluntly, but deliberately, because Kenneth knew full well that the Bible teaches that homosexual behavior is sin. "But did you really repent?"
"I did repent, and I know that God has had mercy on me. But my dad won't believe me."
"You rebelled in his face all your life," I said. "You've broken his heart."
Kenneth looked me straight in the eye. "I know the Lord has forgiven me."
"Did you open your heart to Jesus?"
"Yes. Luis! Yes!"
As we put our arms around each other and prayed and talked some more, I became convinced that Jesus had forgiven all of Kenneth's rebellion and washed away all his sin. Several short months later he went to be the Lord at age twenty-five. Says Palau, "My nephew, like the repentant thief on the cross, did not deserve God's grace. I don't either. None of us do. That's why grace is grace-unmerited favor."1
Grace is the theme of the New Testament and the key to understanding its message. For the New Testament writers speak of salvation and always connect it to the grace of God. Our salvation from sin and wrath was God's gracious idea before the beginning of time (2 Tim 1:9) and was brought to realization in history according to his gracious plan and call (Romans 8:30). We are saved by the grace of God, not by works, (Eph 2:8-9), and the grace of God teaches to live out our salvation before God in an honorable way (Titus 2:11-12). The praise of the glorious grace of God is the final goal of salvation (Eph 1:6). In short, it's grace from beginning to end.2
And just so that we would understand the extent of God's grace He gave many examples in the Bible, in particular, the example of the apostle Paul. Isn't it amazing that God should take the greatest legalist of all time and make him the greatest exponent for grace? Paul said that God had chosen him so that people might learn in him-a murderer and persecutor of the church-the true meaning and full extent of the grace of God:
1 Timothy 1:15 This saying is trustworthy and deserves full acceptance: "Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners," and I am the worst of them. 1:16 But here is why I was treated with mercy: so that in me as the worst, Christ Jesus could demonstrate his utmost patience, as an example for those who are going to believe in him for eternal life.
While we were at war with God-enemies as Paul says in Romans 5:10-He was making a way to extend His grace to us. What incredible love.
During WWII a man died and his two friends desperately wanted to give him a decent burial. They found a cemetery in a nearby village. It happened to be a Roman Catholic cemetery and the dead man had been a Protestant. When the two friends found the priest in charge of the burial grounds, they requested permission to bury their friend, but the priest refused because the man had not been a Catholic. When the priest saw their disappointment, he explained that they could bury their friend immediately outside the fence. This was done.
Later, they returned to visit the grave, but couldn't find it. Their search led them back to the priest and, of course, they asked him what had happened to the grave. The priest told them that during the night he was unable to sleep. So he got up and moved the fence to include the dead soldier.
And so it is with God. He was not able to sleep until He had made a way for the unlovely and unworthy to be included in His gracious love. In point of fact, He not only moved the fence, He actually destroyed the barrier into His holy presence. But He did so through the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ and His cross. It is through the crucified Christ, and Him alone, that we freely approach the Father (John 14:6). The question that remains is, "Have you done that?" Have you turned from your sin and embraced Christ with your whole heart?" There's no time like the present! He promises to shower His amazing grace upon all who come to Him in repentant faith, to set His wild love upon all those who seek the Lord their Helper and Savior. God is passionate about showering His grace upon you, that is, about having you experience His abundant love firsthand. You've heard about it, now receive it!
Hey, all who are thirsty, come to the water! You who have no money, come! Buy and eat! Come! Buy wine and milk without money and without cost! Why pay money for something that will not nourish you? Why spend your hard-earned money on something that will not satisfy? Listen carefully to me and eat what is nourishing! Enjoy fine food (Isaiah 55:1-2)!
1 Luis Palau, "God's Ocean of Grace," Pursuit, vol. 4, no. 11.
2 J. I. Packer, Key Bible Themes: Studies of Key Bible Themes (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1981), 94-95.
Related Topics: Devotionals
Consider It All JoyRelated Media
God uses many different kinds of trials in our lives in order to mold, awaken, and mature us, i.e., to make us lovely, Christlike people. These sources for trial can be compared to various things in life, for example, a hammer, a file, or a furnace. A. W. Tozer explains,
Now, the hammer is a useful tool but the nail, if it had feelings and intelligence, could present another side of the story. For the nail knows the hammer only as an opponent, a brutal, merciless enemy who lives to pound it into submission, to beat it down out of sight and clinch it into place. That is the nail's view of the hammer, and it is accurate, except for one thing: The nail forgets that both it and the hammer are servants of the same workman. Let the nail but remember that the hammer is held by the workman and all resentment toward it will disappear. The carpenter decides whose head will be beaten next and what hammer shall be used in the beating. That is his sovereign right. When the nail has surrendered to the will of the workman and has gotten a little glimpse of his benign plans for its future it will yield to the hammer without complaint.
The file is more painful still, for its business is to bite into the soft metal, scraping and eating away the edges till it has shaped the metal to its will. Yet the file has, in truth, no real will in the matter, but serves another master, as the metal also does. It is the master and not the file that decides how much shall be eaten away, what shape the metal shall take, and how long the painful filing shall continue. Let the metal accept the will of the master and it will not try to dictate when or how it shall be filed.
As for the furnace it is the worst of all. Ruthless and savage, it leaps at every combustible thing that enters it and never relaxes its fury till it has reduced it all to shapeless ashes. All that refuses to burn is melted to a mass of helpless matter, without will or purpose of its own. When everything is melted that will melt and all is burned that will burn, then and not till then the furnace calms down and rests from its destructive fury.1
Suffering is no fun. Sometimes God uses a hammer-at least it feels that way-and at other times he uses a painful file. He even uses a furnace, though perhaps not as often, being ever mindful that we are made of dust. Suffering is gut wrenching and drawn out at times, but the one thing that you must know, Christian, is that God is with you through the whole ordeal. He has focused all his energies on you and will never leave your side, though for a moment it may seem as if he's abandoned your heart and fled from your thoughts.
But how should we respond to suffering? Sometimes we balk at the very thought of it. It's unthinkable to us that our heavenly Father would even permit, let alone design suffering into his plan for our lives. We persist in this illusion even though scripture clearly teaches us that God creates both light and the darkness, peace and calamity, though only for our good.
Now there are various reasons why we suffer. Some times we suffer because we've made patently impetuous and poor decisions. And so we're in the process of reaping what we've sown and God permits it to teach us that His glory and our good are all that matter to Him. This does not mean that you cannot ask God to end the trial. He may say "No," but in his infinite wisdom and mercy He may grant your request as you humble your heart and return to your Savior. It may, however, be better to ask for wisdom in the midst of a trial, rather than ask God to immediately end it. Nonetheless, God is infinitely merciful, taking delight in His people and listening to their cries for help (Exod 3:7)!
But there are seasons in our lives when we suffer though we've not sinned in any specific way. We all realize that we sin each and every day of our lives, but that is not the same thing as committing a particularly egregious sin or developing an ongoing pattern of unbelief or moral impurity. In short, there are times when we suffer-whether at the hands of other people or circumstances God sends our way-simply because God is working in our lives to purify, strengthen, and enlarge the room in our hearts for Him. So has God brought a hammer into your life lately? Is He working away with a file? Or do you feel like you're in the furnace right now? What is God's overall wisdom to us in these circumstances? Listen to James:
1:2 My brothers and sisters, consider it nothing but joy when you fall into all sorts of trials, 1:3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance. 1:4 And let endurance have its perfect effect, so that you will be perfect and complete, not deficient in anything. 1:5 But if anyone is deficient in wisdom, he should ask God, who gives to all generously and without reprimand, and it will be given to him. 1:6 But he must ask in faith without doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed around by the wind. 1:7 For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord, 1:8 since he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.
Suffering is no fun. But James doesn't tell us to consider it fun! He tells us to "consider it all joy." Going to Disney's Theme Park is fun. Suffering daily with illness, losing a business, or grief through any form of loss...well, that's not fun! But such trials can be processed with joy, be they a hammer, file, or furnace!
Yet you ask, "How in the world can a person consider the trials which have surrounded them, like a pack of hungry wolves, all joy?
Don't psychiatrists preach that such a perspective usually evidences gross denial, plain and simple? And don't the experts claim that such people should immediately go on medication or be locked up before they explode?
But again, James doesn't say, "Deny that you're in a real tough battle right now." He doesn't say, "Deaden the pain though binging and purging, through more movies, through other forms of escapism." He actually tells us to consider our trials, that is, he encourages us to give careful thought to what's going on in our lives. And he tells us to do so in a certain way, because of what will happen in and through us as a result. That's materially different.
First, James encourages us to consider, regard, or view these trials with joy. And, "no," he's not joking! We are to welcome difficulties as we would an old and dear friend. Think of an old friend you haven't seen for years. Think of meeting him/her again. Would your face be downcast when you saw them? Would you offer them bitterness, anger, and a pouting attitude? No! You would receive them into your home, delighted that they had come to visit. You would open your heart to them and receive them with joy! So it should be with trials...at least according to James.
But, James tells us not to welcome trials simply with joy, but to welcome them with all joy! Our joy is not to be mixed with anything but more joy. It is to flow like pure brook water, untainted with the dirt of unbelief and bitterness.
But why? Why should we consider the trials in our lives with all joy? Answer: Because we know what trials accomplish in us. We are being tested so that we might look more like Christ in terms of patience/endurance. In short, we are being tested so that we might become mature and complete, with a pure and undefiled faith. We go through testing so that we might not lack anything!
Have you seriously considered that before? If you deeply want to grow in Christ, to enjoy greater intimacy with Him, and to reflect his persevering heart in your experience, then welcome trials with joy. Like the words of faithful friends, they cut deep, but in the end, you're a more Christlike Christian! In the end, your family benefits. In the end, the church is blessed. In the end, the world is changed!
But there's a second reality that empowers us toward rejoicing and joy in the midst of trials and it is this: if we're being tested, there must be Someone giving the test! Thus we know that we are not suffering for something, but for and with Someone...We're suffering at the nail-pierced, blood-stained hands of Christ Himself. He has designed the particular trial through which we're passing and He will carry us in it-carry us, I say, with those blood-stained hands!
So, if you know Him and today there are no particularly difficult trials in your life, consider yourself blessed and thank the Lord. But if you know Him, and you're passing through the fire today, then consider it all joy; welcome the various and diverse trials as old friends! Know that it is Christ himself who is working out his great plan in your life and that nothing can separate you from His love (Rom 8:38-39). He is only working spiritual fruit in you so that you might be mature and complete and that you might in turn enjoy Him more.
If you do not know the Lord today, then listen to what he's telling you through the difficulties of life. You were not made to "go it alone." You were designed for relationship with people and, most importantly, with the Ultimate Person. Trials are God's knock at your door. Don't tell Him He has the wrong address. Rather, welcome Him in and watch how everything changes!
1 A. W. Tozer, The Root of the Righteous, as quoted in Charles Swindoll, ed. The Tardy Oxcart, 581.
Related Topics: Devotionals
The Life of the MindRelated Media
Many people in America and indeed around the world are very familiar with TV personality, radio talk show host, and author Paul Harvey. He's famous for "telling the story behind the story," for taking his readers behind the scenes with interesting, yet true insights, anecdotes, and tidbits. He often takes well known events and researches them, serving up the bizarre twists and turns hitherto unreported and relatively unknown. Perhaps you recall his TV or radio show simply by the way he brought each tale to an end, i.e., by his oft repeated line: "And now you know the rest of the story."
In Paul Harvey's The Rest of the Story, Harvey tells this most interesting story about the making of the massive Oxford English dictionary. It took over 50 years to complete (1933) and contains more than 15,000 pages. In any event, when the Macmillan company was searching for the best editor for the project they settled rather easily upon the president of England's Philological Society, Dr. James Murray. Apparently he was the best in his field, a true expert.
But the production of this dictionary was a massive undertaking and so Dr. Murray would require assistance. Now a certain Dr. W. C. Minors, when he heard about the project, wrote a letter to Dr. Murray, offering his assistance. Dr. Murray was rather nonplussed about Dr. Minors' offer for he had never heard of this scholar and who did he think he was to imagine that he could offer any real help. It took a keen mind and total dedication to pull off something so grand. So Dr. Murray wrote back, feigning a positive response, knowing that he was not the least interested.
After receiving the letter, Dr. Minors wrote an amazing letter back to Dr. Murray. In the letter he included "dozens of items, definitions, references...each expertly arranged and constructed in every detail...and more than that." At once Dr. Murray realized that he had been corresponding with a genius. So he quickly dispatched another letter to Dr. Minors expressing his gratitude and soliciting any further guidance, criticism, or help Dr. Minors might want to offer. Immediately the letters began pouring in from Dr. Minors with thousands of valuable insights, many of which eventually made their way into the Oxford dictionary.
But up to this time, Dr. Murray and Dr. Minors had never met. All that Dr. Murray knew of this "mystery scholar" was his address: Dr. W. C. Minors, Crowthorne, England. Dr. Murray determined the two must meet and so he invited Dr. Minors to Oxford. The latter was not able to come, for physical reasons, but would be glad to have Dr. Murray come to visit him. Dr. Murray agreed.
A few days later Dr. Murray traveled to Wellington College Station where he was greeted by a uniformed gentleman who escorted the scholar to Dr. Minors' residence and to the shock of his life. Harvey's words are priceless:
...the great mind of Dr. Minors...the brilliant brain behind a major contribution to the great Oxford dictionary...was only partly there...
For you see, though this extraordinary man's love of learning could not be constrained, he had to be. Dr. Minors was a convicted mad-dog murderer.
Dr. Murray's pen pal...was in the pen...an inmate at the Broadmoore Asylum for the Criminally Insane!1
It would be difficult to list all the factors that went into the development of Dr. Minors' problems, but suffice it to say that we have here a man whose knowledge outstripped his life...whose dazzling demonstration of dialects was only outdone by his dumbfounding display of depravity. He knew facts, but understanding, like the proverbial four-leaf clover, apparently eluded him. In short, there was a Grand Canyon size gulf between his knowledge and his life. He walked outside God's plan in creation/redemption.
Have you ever noticed how easy it is to desire knowledge for its own reward? Hopefully you've never done anything as heinous as Dr. Minors, but have you ever become aware that the more you focus on gaining knowledge for its own sake, the more meaningless life becomes. The problem is two fold. First, like a world rooted in evolution, knowledge by itself has no raison d'etre and functions like the blackest of black holes; it has sucked many unsuspecting victims into its nothingness. Second, like candy, it cannot satisfy in the long haul because it only addresses a small, however important, dimension of who we are. Knowledge or facts are not personal, in themselves, and therefore, those who worship their accumulation will become something other than, dare I say, less than, fully human.
Now some of you are thinking that I'm disparaging the life of the mind. On the contrary! God created the mind. But that's the rub...God created it; it is designed for life in relationship with God, people, and the world, not just to fix itself upon inanimate objects, events, things, etc. Nor was it meant to objectify and depersonalize God and other people. It was not designed as a CD ROM or hard drive, that is, to simply store information to be spit out at a later time. It was designed for so much more! As Woodrow Wilson is reported to have said, "I use all the brains I have and all I can borrow." It is probably safe to say that we've never seen what the human mind can do.
Neither is the problem, as is so often offered up as "insight" among evangelicals, a problem of thinking too much and acting too little. I am convinced that those who repeatedly say this are either threatened by those who are knowledgeable about this or that topic or they want to keep the less knowledgeable in the dark so that they might exert influence over them. Postmodernism, with all its variegated strands, has taught the modern world the truth (though it's not the whole truth) about knowledge as power and its possessors as power brokers.
So then, don't believe people and leaders who claim that what is required is less thinking and more acting. Abandon this idea; it is sub-Christian. It still misses the proper place God gives the mind in his plan of creating and redeeming. As I recall, Jesus said, "Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength" (Mark 12:3). So what is the proper place of the mind in God's overall plan?
The first thing we need to realize about the mind is that it is ultimately designed by God to enable a person created in God's image2 to receive knowledge from Him and to humbly enter into relationship with him. It enables us to recognize something of God's unfathomable, yet revealed greatness and majesty, and then to intelligently and wisely love, serve, honor, and obey the living and all knowing Creator-Redeemer. Thus we cannot talk properly about the life of the mind apart from its ultimate object, i.e., God, and its ultimate purpose, i.e., worship.
Like a wise orchestra conductor, who himself seeks to please the audience of heaven, the renewed mind in Christ continuously leads the woodwind, stringed, brass, and percussion faculties of the soul in the harmonious, sweet sounding worship of the One and Only true God. Every day our lives spring forth with new songs of love for the Lord; the humble mind leading its close friends, conscience, will, emotions, memory, and the five senses in the playing of various melodies for the Lord. Whether in the study of culture or creation, sociology or science, the mind informed by Scripture, listening to the Spirit of God, and committed to truth, is a mind pleasing to the Lord. Any other mind is living out its former connections with depravity and ushers forth nothing but a cacophony of disparate sounds, a disjointed and dishonoring representation of reality. It is sub-Christian.
Thus the mind was given to identify God's presence and to grasp the weightiness of truth over error so that the affections could love the one and hate the other, and the will choose the one over the other. The mind was never designed to function as an automaton with "things" as its chief focus. Such an orientation, as we might find in many areas of modern science-enamored as it is with creation over Creator-is the mind having skidded off the well marked highway and over the embankment. In reality, it is idolatry.
Further, while the mind as God's creation is extremely powerful, it is not designed to totally grasp or tame God. Rather, it was given to make communion with the Lord a reality, not to stand in judgment over God. God wanted to be known so he created sentient beings-beings that possess the faculty we call mind, i.e., the knowing abilities. The mind is designed and redeemed by him so that a person might grasp intelligent service to God and pursue it while rejecting dishonorable service. In other words, we must not talk about the life of the mind apart from its design, calling, and therefore duties.
Do you see, then, how utterly beneath the mind God created exists a life given to the mere study of creation or some facet thereof? Such a pursuit for its own sake is demeaning to the mind and therefore demeaning to the One who created it. Yet the mind in submission to and in agreement with God (i.e., about its place in God's world) studies all these things with joy, enjoyment, and relentless commitment to finding and embracing truth. Sciences, hard and soft, can prosper in this scriptural framework-a framework in which God's honor is the highest ideal and, therefore, the sanctity of life and liberty is truly protected and human beings creatively flourish and discover. Recognizing that God created the human mind, then, for certain functions under His Lordship and within His plan of creation/redemption, is crucial not only to the proper functioning of the mind, but also to its future as well!
1 Paul Harvey, Jr. Paul Harvey's The Rest of the Story (New York: Bantam, 1997), 31-33.
2 The imago dei includes the faculty of mind, but also much more; it includes all that it means to be human and "godlike." This, of course, does not mean or imply that each of us is a God/god. We are creatures endowed with powerful faculties.