Saturday, January 9, 2016

Does God Know When I Will Die? part 1

A friend called me earlier this week with a serious question. The people at work had posed a stunning dilemma. "If God knows when we will be born, does He also know when we will die?" That question was followed by another. 

"If our time of death is predetermined, does it matter what we do? Does it matter if we treat medical problems with medication?" 

As a physician, I had to be particularly careful with my answer for fear someone would abandon vital medical care in the mistaken idea that it "didn't matter". 

"Give me a few days to think about it," I suggested. "I'll probably blog about it."

The answer is not as simple as yes or no, so it will take me more than one blog to clarify, but this is my attempt to answer the two-fold question.*

To begin, we need to understand that God is not human, with humanity's limitation. 

Blue Letter Bible lists sixteen attributes of God that include eternality, goodness, grace, holiness, imminence, immutability, justice, love, mercy, omnipotence, omnipresence, omniscience, righteousness, self-existence, sovereignty, and transcendence. 

For our purposes, we will consider only two. Omnipresence and omniscience. 

Omnipresence means that God is everywhere, all at once, with all of Himself. 

He is here with me at the same time that He is there with you at the same time that He is in all places around the world. He is here. Supporting Scripture (in case you want to look them up) include Job 11:7-9, Jeremiah 23:23-24, and my favorite, Psalm 139:7-10. 

David asked the question, "Where can I hide from God?" He, like many of us, knew the agony of total failure and the desire to hide from God rather than face Him with his sin. The answer David found was "nowhere". 

There's nowhere to hide from God. 

No matter what we do, no matter where we go, God is already there. When we do things we hope will never be found out, things that would bring shame were they known, we can be assured that God knows because He is there.

"If I ascend to heaven, Thou art there; 
If I make my bed in Sheol, behold, Thou art there. 
If I take the wings of the dawn,
If I dwell in the remotes part of the sea,
Even there Thy hand will lead me,
And Thy right hand will lay hold of me." 
                                                             Psalm 139:8-10 nsb

The attribute of omniscience goes hand in hand with omnipotence. 

Omniscience means that God knows everything and there is nothing that He does not know. 

He knows what we do, the words we say, the thoughts we think. He knows. Neither the good we do, nor the evil in which we indulge is overlooked by God. He knows it all. Supporting Scriptures include Psalm 147:5, Ezekiel 11:5, Romans 11:33, 1 John 3:20, and Hebrews 4:13. The passage in Ezekiel is the one that always gives me pause. 

"...Thus says the Lord,... I know your thoughts..."
                                                  Ezekiel 11:5 nasb

For today, it's enough to remember that we serve an all-knowing, all-seeing, ever-present God. 

We are not alone. We are not overlooked.

For good or ill, our God knows us as we are and loves us anyway. There is great hope in that truth. 

He loves us anyway.

Today, rejoice in the anyway-love of God and know that, no matter what you do, you can never escape the watchful eye of our sweet and loving God. 
* Tomorrow, we'll tackle the question, "Does God know when I will die?" and "Does how I live make a difference?" The answers may surprise you, so be sure to check back. Hint: We can add days and take them away by our choices. 


#lifeanddeath #doesGodknow #disciple #Christian

Thursday, January 7, 2016

The Potential for Heritage

Reading through Genesis continues to surprise me. This morning, I read these words:

"Two nations are in your womb..." (Gen 25:23)

Rebekah (wife of Isaac, Abraham's son) was pregnant with twins. The children were struggling so much that she took her concerns to the Lord. "Why?" What did it mean? 

God was clear. The children in her womb weren't just babies. They were nations. 

Ponder that for a moment.

Psalm 139 tells us that God not only knows us in our mother's womb, he knows our "inward parts" because He formed them. He "knit us together", putting all the parts together to make something perfect and beautiful. He knows about the days of our lives, including how many there are. (Ps. 139:16... more on that tomorrow)

When Rebekah approached God about the struggle of her unborn children, she saw them only as pre-born babies. 

God, however, saw the children and the kind of heritage they would leave behind.

He knew one would be stronger than the other. He knew the older would serve the younger. Rebekah didn't have to orchestrate it. It already was. 

God knew the two boys would be born with the potential to father "nations".

I cannot begin to debate the question of predestination and choice, but this is what I know with certainty.

Adam and Eve, in the garden, had the potential to choose sin or not. Either choice took them in a certain direction. God knew their possibilities. Did He know what they would choose when He created them? I don't know. 

I believe He knew their possibilities and the heritage they could leave behind. Just like He knows that about each of us.

We, you and I, are building a heritage for those who remain after our life has ended. We can leave a heritage built on shifting sand or solid rock. Which will it be?

Will we leave a heritage of material wealth or a heritage of faith? Will we leave the heritage of a world changed for God or a world that is relatively untouched?

We can make a difference, but not if we live life focused on ourselves and our desires. 

Look up. Seek God. Look around. See our neighbors. Their is great need and great possibility. There are things only you can do. Only I can do. 

Life is short, but not too short to make a difference in the world around us. Not too short to leave a heritage that will impact generations yet to come. 

Make a choice. Make a start. Make a heritage worth leaving.

We can change the world. If we will.

In case you missed one of this week's posts, here are the links: Out with the OldFreedom and GraceWalking with God or Hiding with the World,  The Same JesusThe God Who Never Fails, Halfway to Canaan, and The Blessing Jar.

#heritage #leaveaheritage #makeadifference #disciple #Christian

The Blessing Jar

One of my friends (Joy Melville) posted a photograph of a jar on Facebook around the New Year. She planned to write good things that happened during 2016 on scraps of paper, store them in the jar, and read all of them in one marathon of good memories at the end of the year.

The Blessing Jar is a variation on journalling that appealed to me because of its ease. As you can tell from the photo, I found a jar of my own. Jar, paper, and pen now rest in a basket in my kitchen. 

As the seventh day of the new year begins, I already have fourteen blessings in my jar. 

There have been more than fourteen blessings this year, of course, but I've recorded the notable ones. Most of the cards in my jar record answered prayers and unexpected blessings of grace that have already arrived. They are records of the faithfulness of our Grace-giving God. 

One day, I had just written a blessing on a card when a serious concern came to mind. "I can't wait to write God's answer to that need on a card and put it in the jar," I told myself. 

A loved one's loss of faith has been a major concern for quite a while. The verse, "He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion..." (Philippians 1:6 esv) came to mind. God had begun a good work. I knew that was true. If so (and it is), then He will also bring that good work to completion. 

In a way, I can count it done, even if I haven't seen that answer of God yet. 

I pondered that thought for a while and decided to thank God in advance for the answer to my prayer that's still to come. A card to record my statement of faith was quickly written and placed in the jar. It's been a big relief as I've thanked God all week for His promise.

Another concern has weighed heavy on my heart. The first "thanksgiving from faith" card was so inspiring that one more card seemed in order.  This time, I thanked God for the answer to my prayer in advance, based on a promise from Joshua 1:5. "I will never fail you or forsake you..." (nasb) 

God's answer may not look as I expect, but it will come. He will not fail. 

The words to a song, learned in childhood, comes back to me almost every time I drop a card in my Blessing Jar. 

"Count your many blessings, name them one by one. Count your many blessings. See what God has done." (Oatman, 1897)

Whether you use a jar, a journal, or voice your thanks in prayer, let's be faithful to give Thanks to God for all His blessings, great and small. 

"Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you." 1 Thessalonians 5:16 esv

In case you missed one of this week's posts, here are the links: Out with the OldFreedom and GraceWalking with God or Hiding with the World,  The Same JesusThe God Who Never Fails and Halfway to Canaan

#gratitude #countyourblessings #blessingjar #givethanksinallthings #answeredprayer

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Halfway to Canaan

I had a startling revelation this morning and I'm still pondering its meaning. I'm a little behind on reading for my Bible study and decided to catch up today. I was making good progress until I came to a verse that stopped me in my tracks.

"... they went out together from Ur of the Chaldeans in order to enter the land of Canaan..."

No. That is not a reference to Abraham's journey. It's a reference to his father, Terah. I've read this many times, but never caught it until today. Terah, along with Abraham, Sarai, and Lot, left Ur of the Chaldeans. They were headed toward Canaan.

Abraham's journey began with the journey of his father.

Terah, however, stopped short of his destination. 

They traveled about 600 miles, reached Haran, and settled there. A little over halfway, they stopped. They settled. They lived and died.

There was nothing wrong with Haram. Abraham prospered there and was soon a wealthy man. Life was good, but they weren't in Canaan. I don't know if Abraham would have left on his own, but the call of God came to him with clarity.

"Go forth." 

God spoke with more than direction. He spoke with promise. 

"I will make you a great nation.  I will bless you. I will make your name great. I will make you a blessing." If Abraham made the journey, God would do more than he could have ever hoped.

Terah settled at a good place when he was 400 miles from the promised place.

I've stopped in my own Haram before. Halfway between where I was and where God wanted me to go. It was a good place, but it wasn't the promised place. It was the place of prosperity but not peace.

Perhaps you've experienced something similar. It's easy to do. We begin a life of faith and settle for a life of religion. We begin a life of daring and settle for a life of mundane routine. We begin a life of obedience and settle for a life of habit.

God is calling and a choice is required.

Will we stay in our Haram, our place of comfort and safety? Will we step out in faith and proceed onward to our place of promise?

Terah chose to cut short his journey and have comfort and safety. He eventually died in that place.

Abraham chose the longer journey of obedience. It was dangerous and uncertain. He eventually changed the world because he went.

The same choice lies before us. Daring obedience or routine religion. 

Which will we choose? 

In case you missed one of this week's posts, here are the links: Out with the OldFreedom and GraceWalking with God or Hiding with the World,  The Same Jesus, and The God Who Never Fails.
#obedience #thejourneybeginswithonestep #disciple #Abraham #Terah #Christian

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

The God Who Never Fails

A surprising thing happened to me yesterday. I found out that what I thought I had "known" for years wasn't quite correct. 

I memorized Joshua 1:5 years ago. It's one of those verses that's a great comfort in hard times. "I will never leave you nor forsake you," is what I memorized. Yesterday, I realized that verse actually says, "I will never fail you nor forsake you."

It's only one word different, but that one word makes a world of difference.

"Never fail" indicates God will not abandon me half-way through my journey. When He leads me to a path, He won't fail to accomplish whatever He planned in that direction. That truth is a great comfort to me, especially when, like now with my fiction writing, I'm on a path that heads toward an unclear destination. 

God will help me successfully complete the task He's given me. 

Success and failure from God's perspective look entirely different from success and failure from the world's perspective, of course. When God says He will never fail me, He is not saying I will always have material success. 

God will never stop until His goals in my life are accomplished. He won't let go. He won't give up. He won't fail. 

No matter what we face, we do not go through it alone. We do not go through it without hope. Not only does our Lord go with us, He completes our journey and insures we reach His destination before we're done.

The Apostle Paul understood this principle when he wrote to the church at Philippi. 

"And I am sure of this, that He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ." Phil 1:6 esv

We serve a God who finishes what He starts, succeeds in every effort, and never leaves us alone. Take courage from this truth: 

God has a plan for you and for me. It's a good plan. It will be accomplished. No doubt about it.

In case you missed one of this week's posts, here are the links: Out with the OldFreedom and GraceWalking with God or Hiding with the World, and The Same Jesus

#Godneverfails #success #finishline #Jesus #disciple #Christian #faithful

Monday, January 4, 2016

The Same Jesus

She was reporting her word count to the writing group to which I also belong. Schuyler McConkey wrote wise words that I've thought about several times since I saw them.

"New year, new hope, same Jesus to walk with us every step of the way."

It's a truth worth remembering as we begin this new year. Circumstances may change, but Christ remains the same. 

He is faithful. (Deuteronomy 7:3)

He is righteous. (Exodus 9:27)

He is just. (Zechariah 9:9)

He always keeps His promises. (Proverbs 30:5)          

When He said, "I will never fail you nor forsake you," He meant it. (Joshua 1:5)

He knows our needs and He will provide them. (Matthew 6:33)

He hears our prayers and answers them. (John 14:13-14)

This year, no matter what we face, the same Jesus who was present when the world was formed will walk with us through it all. He will not leave us. He will not fail us.

Take comfort in that truth and put your faith and trust in Him. The Alpha and the Omega. The Beginning and the End. 

The words spoken to Joshua after the death of Moses are words we'd do well to remember as we begin this new year.

"Just as I have been with Moses, I will be with you;
I will not fail you or forsake you.
Be strong and courageous..."
Joshua 1:5,6 nasb

Our job is to know His words and obey them. Our Lord can handle all the rest.

Take heart. King Jesus is still on His throne.

"New year, new hope, same Jesus to walk with us every step of the way."

In case you missed one of this week's posts, here are the links: Out with the Old, Freedom and Grace, and Walking with God or Hiding with the World

#Jesus #disciple #Christian #faithful

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Walking with God or Hiding with the World

My homework for the first week of the new Bible study I'm attending was to read the first six chapters of Genesis. I've been through those verses several times this week, and I've found a three-word phrase that is only used of two people in the entire Bible. (At least as far as I can see) 

When God created man, Genesis 3:8 suggests, He walked in the garden in the cool of the evening. We can presume that Adam and Eve walked with Him, but what Genesis 3:8 says is that they hid from Him because of their sin.

Hiding from God because of our sin seems to be our default mode. 

622 years after creation, Enoch was born and he became a man who walked with God. It was so remarkable that, on one of their walks, Enoch walked home with God and "he was not". Enoch, I think, was the kind of man God intended us to be. 

Despite his faults, which we know he had because he was human, Enoch walked with God.

When Enoch "was not", there was not another man who walked with God on the earth until Noah was born. He is described as "righteous, a blameless man"(or a man of integrity). 

Noah, too, walked with God. 

Solomon described David as a man who walked with God (1 Kings 8:25) but we know that he didn't always walk with God.

Two men walked with God.

Every day, they had a choice to walk with God or hide out with the world. Every day, they chose God. 

We, too, have that same choice. We can choose the world and the glitter it offers or we can chose to walk with God. We can't have both, for "a little of the world" always yields less of God. 

This is a choice you and I must make. Will we walk with God or not? Will we allow Him to infuse our hearts, our speech, our thoughts, with His goodness and grace? Will we choose to obey Him at every opportunity? Will we be the men and women of faith He has called us to be?

The world is in a dreadful mess, in no small part because those of us who claim to be people of God have not walked with Him. If righteousness is to make a difference in the world, we must be ones who live with righteousness and integrity. 

We must walk with God if we hope to lead the world to walk with Him.

The way of the world leads to death and hell.  The way of God leads to life and hope and joy. Just as Enoch and Noah, we, too, have a choice to make, so let's choose well.

Will we walk with God or hide with the world? 

Our eternity depends upon our choice. Choose well.
# walkwithGod #choosewell #choice #disciple
In case you missed it, yesterday's post was Freedom and Grace.

The most read post of last week was The Sleep Goal.