Knowing God as Lord

How can we know that God is Lord?  Do we know Him as Lord through the creation around us?  Through His revelation to us in His Word?  Through the earthly blessings we receive from Him?  These are all legitimate answers to the original question.  However, while they are probably the most obvious, they are not the only options.  One answer that particularly stands out to me is one that may at first seem paradoxical, especially in our current church world: we know God as Lord through His seemingly unfair actions in the world around and through His chastising of us.

For some time now, I have been working through the book of Ezekiel in my personal devotions.  One thing that I have come to notice is the frequent use of the phrase, “and ye shall know that I am the Lord,” or similar such phrases.  This line often concludes a verse in which God proclaims that he will send judgement on the people of the earth.  One example is Ezekiel 12:20: “And the cities that are inhabited shall be laid waste, and the land shall be desolate; and ye shall know that I am the Lord.” Another example is Ezekiel 30:26 “And I will scatter the Egyptians among the nations, and disperse them among the countries; and they shall know that I am the Lord.” And there are many others.

This is an idea that is very unpopular in the nominal Christian world.  Saying that God causes the hardships in our lives and the seemingly evil events in the world around is seen as unfairly doing harm to the reputation of God as good and loving.  Many Christians refuse to acknowledge that God is the cause of our trials or of natural disasters, seeking instead to attribute these things to the devil.  I recently read a book entitled Against Calvinism in which this was a frequent point of discussion for the author.  His main point was that making God the cause of what seemingly to us is evil detracts from His loving nature – after all, God is love, is He not (I John 4:8)?

What this author and others like Him forget is that our human understanding is very limited – even the least of God’s wisdom far transcends that of man (I Cor. 1:25).  We are often unable to understand why He causes certain events to take place.  However, this does not make Him automatically unloving and unjust; on the contrary, it makes Him exactly what He claims Himself to be in I John 4:8.  Proof of this can be seen in James 1:2-4.  In verse 2, the word “temptations” can be understood as trials.  The idea is that God sends seemingly evil events (whether a natural disaster or a simple trial in one person’s life) to strengthen the faith of His people through patience. By these trials we are taught to rely on Him and trust more fully in Him.  In so doing, God manifests His love for us.  Meanwhile, for the wicked, God sends such events in just judgement for sinfulness.  Many would object to this, but our response ought to be God’s response throughout Ezekiel: “And they shall know that I am the Lord.”

Throughout this week, then, think of how you know God to be Lord.  See Him as Lord in His Word, certainly, as well as in creation and in your blessings from Him.  But, fellow Christian, forget not to see Him as Lord in the difficult events as well.  Remember that your trials work patience and that patience leads to us being made “perfect and entire” (James 1:4), and thus know that God is Lord.

Matt Koerner

Reflections

“No man can survey himself without forthwith turning his thoughts towards the God in whom he lives and moves.” (John Calvin, The Institutes of the Christian Religion).

I recently stumbled across this quote and have been stuck on it ever since. Every time I start looking at who I am, I can’t help but see my Creator. He is the one who made me. He is the one who knows everything about me. I see Him in every aspect of me.

First of all, I think of God when I consider the physical me. I have the same thoughts as David did in Psalm 139:14: “I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well.” Who am I? A 5’10” woman with curly brown hair and blue eyes—and God has given me each of those attributes to make me Grace, His chosen child. Before the world was even created, God knew who I was and what I looked like because He lovingly chose me! That gives me goosebumps! How great a God I serve! He created me perfectly so I can glorify and serve Him my whole life long. I can even say God created me just to remind me that He is God, the Holy One who deserves all praise!

Then I look at the people I am surrounded by. I have a godly father and mother who do all they can to make sure I am raised in the fear of God, and because of that, I am brought to my knees to thank my Father in heaven. I have ten younger siblings to be an example for and to help along this pilgrim path that we all are on. Being the oldest of a large family often reminds me of Ecclesiastes 3: there are often times of weeping, times of laughing, times of getting, times of losing, times of loving, and times of hating. Yet I am reminded in all these times that God put me in these situations for a reason, and that is so I can learn to glorify Him at all times. He gave me all my siblings because He loves me and knows what is best for me. My God works everything for my good! So once again I am moved to consider God by examining myself.

An investigation into my life reveals how poorly I actually measure up to all of God’s requirements. I sin constantly, and I even go back to sins I know are wrong! I struggle with loving my siblings all the time. I make excuses so I don’t have to do personal devotions. I complain about people in my college classes. I can surely say with Paul that I am the chief of sinners. Now after this investigation, I could just continue looking at myself and have no hope because I am a such a lawbreaker. However, I can (and not only can, but must!) look to God and praise Him, even in all my sins! Because He loves me so greatly that He punished His Son on the cross to satisfy His wrath. God has forgiven each and every one of my sins and does not even look at them anymore because Jesus paid for them all! What an amazing reality! What an amazing God!

I can do nothing after these considerations but praise God. Praise Him for eternity! I am nothing without Him. I can do nothing without Him. I would have nothing without Him. I owe my Father everything, and so I will glorify and serve Him with my whole being for my whole life.

I know that these thoughts are mine, and tailored to me. However, every single person that reads this should do the same thing. Survey yourself, and you will discover that you will see God in every aspect of who you are. It is amazing to realize that God has directed and is directing everything in your life…for your good!

Grace Medema

 

How Great Is Our God

We often think of the Bible as a kind of “how to” to live our life. After all, Scripture is full of statements like “obey thy father and mother,” “pray without ceasing,” and so many other directions. Our devotions can become centered on this aspect of God’s word as well – often consisting of reading a passage and meditating on how we are called to live based on that passage. None of those things are wrong. We do find valuable instruction on how to live our lives in the Scripture, and we should read the Bible from that perspective and think about it often. However, something we can tend to miss with that focus is what Scripture reveals about the greatness of God.

Isaiah 40 lays out the greatness of God using many beautiful metaphors. Isaiah begins in this chapter comforting the people of Israel, telling of the deliverance God will give them from captivity. He then describes the greatness of the God who will deliver them. Reading this chapter puts awe in the heart of the child of God – our God is so great, so all-knowing, that He knows exactly how many specks of dust there are in the earth, and knows the exact measure of the heavens. Nothing man has calculated, no scientific or mathematical theorem can come close to determining those numbers. As far as our finite minds can see, the universe never ends – but God knows its exact bounds.

Verse 15 describes the magnitude of every powerful and great nation in the world to God – a drop in a bucket, or “less than nothing” in verse 17. The governments on this earth seem so sovereign and have so much authority in our eyes – laws are passed that have great effect on our daily lives, wars are declared, and taxes are required – but all their might is puny compared to the might of our God. Even the most powerful of men is as only as strong as a grasshopper in comparison to Him.

His glory is seen even more clearly when we look at creation in the proper perspective. When we realize that God is the one who “stretched out the heavens as a curtain, and spreadeth them out as a tent to dwell there in”, we can examine every aspect of creation and see His amazing design – from the inner workings of our own body, to the fish in the deepest parts of the sea, and the weather patterns that stretch across the entire globe. Wherever men stand in awe at nature, make sure you “lift up your eyes on high, and behold who has created these things.”

And now remember how Isaiah started this chapter – this is the God who will deliver His church Israel. This strong and powerful God who Isaiah has described is not some abstract higher being who really has nothing to do with us. He is our God. He is our strength when we are weary, or when we are struggling with sin. God chose His people out of all the insignificant nations of the earth, loved them with His powerful love, and used that power to deliver us from our sins through His Son. How great is our God!

Kenzie Kuiper