87. Actually…like never before.

We have talked about new things before. New as in new of something that existed before like a new pencil or new shoes and new as in completely unique coming into existence for the first time. God is in the business of new things. Create is the powerful verb accompanying anything new. God is creator; He makes new, also new people. He takes the most vile and evil mess and restores it to a beautiful, new creation with a unique place in this world.

I am always overawed at the thought of a new beginning. How does this world need it! How many times do we see a life going horribly wrong, when superficial ideas of pleasure and success cause fundamentally wrong decisions. In the darkness of the consequences of transgression a cry for help echoes through the universe and the God of new beginnings steps in.

This glorious Creator-God became a person to live in the dust of this earth to heal and restore His own. John says it this way:

 1:14 So the Word of God became a person, and took up his abode in our being, full of grace and truth; and we looked with our own eyes upon his glory, glory like the glory which an only son receives from a father.

This statement is the core of this whole Fourth Gospel:

“This word which created the world, this reason which controls the order of the world, has become a person and with our own eyes we saw him.”  In other words, we saw God with actual physical sight.

This is where John parted with all thought which had gone before him. This was the entirely new thing, which John brought to the Greek world for which he was writing. Augustine afterwards said that in his pre-Christian days he had read and studied the great pagan philosophers and had read many things, but he had never read that the word became flesh.

To the Greeks this was impossible – a god could never become a man. The world and the physical were so corrupted; God could not even come close.

 John states a shockingly new thing: that God could and would become a human person; that God could enter into this life that we live; that eternity could appear in time; that somehow the Creator could appear in creation in such a way that men’s eyes could actually see him. Paul uses the word FLESH again and again to describe human nature in all its weakness and in all its liability to sin. The very thought of taking this word and applying it to God, was something astonishing.

Some said Jesus was a phantom, not really a man experiencing cold and hunger. So strong was this notion that it became a sect. John deals with them in his first epistle.

In Jesus we see God living life, as he would have lived it if he had been a man. If nothing else were said about Jesus we could still say that he shows us how God would live this life that we have to live.

John states it in classic Hebrew style: the concept is repeated slightly different for impact and emphasis.

It is said that this is the greatest single verse in the New Testament. It contains the most important words of the Gospel: Grace and Truth.

GRACE:

 

  • is defined as completely undeserved, something that we could never have earned or achieved for ourselves, an act of pure love on the part of God, helpless poverty of man and the limitless kindness of God. It is in essence the unmerited favour of God to us.
  • also means beauty. In modern Greek the same word means charm. In Jesus we see the sheer loveliness of God.

Grace explains God reaching out to man. Grace does not ask reciprocation. Grace acts willingly and one-sidedly.

Just in the following verses John expands this concept of unending grace. John 1:15 talks about grace for grace or grace upon grace to indicate one wonder leading to another. There is always greater, more and lovelier available. Great music, art and poetry have no end. God is infinitely more than everything we know and the longer we live, the more we discover about Him. He is limitless wonder.

He supplies all the grace you might need in days of adversity and days of ease. Grace is dynamic and always sufficient, able to deal with everything. God is the lover of the souls of men. Maybe it was not so clearly experienced in the Law, but now, in Jesus there is no doubt.

 

TRUTH:

Lovers of wisdom (philosophers) have searched for Truth over many centuries. How can it be certain? To what could it be compared? How is it measured?

According to Wikipedia Truth is most often used to mean being in accord with fact or reality or fidelity to an original or standard. How does one determine the fact or reality and how does one establish the original or standard?

Jesus said: “I am the truth” (John 14:6). To see truth we must look at Jesus. He is accessible to every mind. Very few people can grasp abstract ideas; most people think in pictures. It is difficult to define beauty, but we can point to a beautiful person or object and say that is beauty. We can look at Jesus Christ and say: “That is what God is like.” We can look to Him and know what is true.

Jesus did not come to talk to men about God; he came to show men what God is like, so that the simplest mind might know him as intimately as the mind of the greatest philosopher.

Jesus communicates truth, because He knows the truth (John 8:31) He witnesses to the truth (John 18:37), because He is the original, the standard. Jesus shows us the right way and enables us to choose right. His Spirit is the Spirit of truth (John 14:17; 15:26; 16:13). The Holy Spirit helps us to not just read the Bible and know it is true, but to let the truth live within us.

It is the Truth that sets us free (John 8:32). To tell a child what he is really like, is to liberate him and to give him confidence. The enemy lies to us about ourselves and robs us of thinking right, in order to let fear establish our thoughts and determine our lives.

Truth can be resented. Jesus was killed for it (John 8:40).

 No man ever destroyed the truth by refusing to listen.

The truth can be disbelieved (John 8:45). Many people do not believe in Jesus because it seems too good to be true; or because they are so chained to their half-truths that they will not let them go. In many instances a half-truth is the worst enemy of the truth.

Truth is not something abstract; it must be done (John 3:21). It must be known with the mind, accepted with the heart, and acted out in the life.

To live the Jesus life by His grace is true living.

It is our new beginning, even after the brokenness of this world brought us tragedy and disaster.

 

 

 

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75. He is good, good, good – always.

What do you “see” when you think of God the Father? Do you have a picture of Him? Do you see Jesus or is He sort of separate? What is this Trinity-doctrine with which the theologians shape our God-concept?

Stay with me in these chapters of Exodus; in this most dramatic scene that will shape future generations in prayer.

Moses is in conversation with God. God has just told him that He would not go with them into the promised land with an uncharacteristic reproach: (33:1,3)

 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Depart and go up from here, you and the people whom you have brought out of the land of Egypt…

 Go up to a land flowing with milk and honey; for I will not go up in your midst, lest I consume you on the way, for you are a stiff-necked people.”

 Now suddenly they are Moses’ people. How could this happen? God knows what Moses can take? He is God’s good friend remember?

So the Lord spoke to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend. (Exodus 33:11)

He is also all-knowing and stands outside of time. He knows what His reproach will stir in Moses and knows the plea that is about to put Moses’ life on the line.

Then Moses returned to the Lord and said, “Oh, these people have committed a great sin, and have made for themselves a god of gold! Yet now, if You will forgive their sin—but if not, I pray, blot me out of Your book which You have written.” (Exodus 32:31,32)

Moses stands as a true and strong prophet. He puts himself literally between God and the people.

What a miserable mess is this consequence of their sin? God looks fierce and vindictive. He is angry and blaming.

Moses reacts without fear towards this almighty, punishing God. He pleads for the people with full knowledge of God’s holiness and anger. He even reminds God that they are not his people, but God’s people.

He pitches his tent outside the camp – a separation from sin and evil. The people have the opportunity to separate themselves from their deeds and go outside to Moses. Whenever Moses goes into the Tabernacle, the pillar of cloud, the symbol of God’s presence, descends over the door. He prays:

Now therefore, I pray, if I have found grace in Your sight, show me now Your way, that I may know You and that I may find grace in Your sight. And consider that this nation is Your people.(Exodus 33:13)

Even in the midst of great evil and sin, in God’s disappointment, His presence does not leave the camp. He is where His people are.

 He is, where one heart seeks His favour and grace.

MOMENT of prayer: Show me Your way, that I may know You and find grace in Your sight.

 PRINCIPLE for a life of excellence: Moses brings the people the image of the Father.

They have experienced God’s disappointment and consequences of their sin. The gold they had to drink is symbolic of the deadly effects of our sinful deeds in life.

God knows what they need to see, when He shows Himself to Moses.

Then He said, “I will make all My goodness pass before you… (Exodus 33:19)

God will reveal His goodness to you in the fullness of the moment.

His character is the answer to every prayer.

In the midst of failure and disappointment, He showed His people His goodness.

When God revealed himself to Moses, He said of Himself:

“The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in [unfailing] love and faithfulness, Exodus 34:6 Also translated: goodness and truth [KJV & other translations]

These words can be summarized in the Hebrew word – hessed. which includes every possible aspect of covenant loyalty. When the people asked Moses, what God looks like, he said He looks hessed. Moses saw His character! God will do all that He is and said He would do. He is the Source of goodness and truth.

Whatever He does cannot be anything else than goodness and truth.

In prayer in the Presence, God will reveal Himself to you. In Him are all the answers, all the power, all the strength you will ever need. Get to God Himself. He is truth. He cannot lie. Where He is, every promise of the Word is real.

How can we pray to enter into the Presence of the Most High and sit in the secret place of the Almighty?

MOMENT of prayer: The Lord is near to those who have a broken heart, and saves such as have a contrite spirit. Psalm 34:18

Contrite means feeling or showing sorrow and remorse for a sin or shortcoming; ashamed, remorseful, hangdog, guilt-ridden. Remorse means a gnawing distress arising from a sense of guilt for past wrongs.

PRINCIPLE for a life of excellence: This is a once off – not a continuous life of guilt; quite the opposite. Confess and carry on to victory. Confession is a step forward, not wallowing in the cauldron of poisonous culpability.

Prepare to see God in His glory so that His goodness can pass before you. You can never doubt your life lived under the full impact of His glorious love for you.

The image of the Father? “See” the father of the prodigal son waiting for you to come home and running out to meet you with outstretched arms…