Thursday, August 16, 2018

How Can This Be? - God Can Do All Things Summer Series

For nothing will be impossible with God. Luke 1:37

Some 1,000 years after the time of David, Scriture takes us to Nazareth and introduces us to Mary. Recorded in the Gospel of Luke, it is possible that Mary herself tells Luke her own story, recalling the angel Gabriel's unexpected visit, the immaulcate conception, the journey to Bethlehem, the birth of the Messiah. Luke's writing reveals God's plan of Grace, divinely designed before time and miraculously conceived in Mary's virgin's womb. Once again, the words nothing will be impossible with God take us to place of immense possibility.

Gabriel delivers God's message to Mary, calling her favored one, describing how she will give birth to a son and name him Jesus. Gabriel says this child, "will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David." Beyond her understanding, Mary asks, "How can this be?" Mary's faithful response echoes throughtout the centuries to follow, "May it be done to me according to Your word." Warren Wiersbe writes, "Mary yielded herself to the Holy Spirit knowing full well that she would experience shame and misunderstanding."
God's purposes for us exceed our abilities and cannot be accomplished apart from Him. However, that is how God works. When He reveals His plans, He is also promising to fulfill them. Trust Him and remember, with God, nothing is impossible! - Blackaby 
We, too, stand in awe of a mighty God whose majesty and mystery confound our abilities to understand. To confess the "mystery of faith" requires a belief that goes beyond proof, requires a faith that cannot adequately explain this truth but lies at the core of Christianity. Christ, born of a virgin, is crucified and dies, but three days later He rises from the grave and returns to sit at the right hand of God. This remains God's never-ending promise of redemption for whomever believes. Like Mary, we wonder, "How can this be?" Perfect Love responds, "Nothing will be impossible with God." Let me reply, "May it be done to me according to Your word! -dho

Thursday, August 09, 2018

God of All My Days - God Can Do All Things Summer Series

In my worry, God You are my stillness
In my searching, God You are my answers
In my blindness, God You are my vision
In my bondage, God You are my freedom
In my weakness, God You are my power

...You're the God of all my days  
- Casting Crowns

Please take a moment to listen to this song that gives voice to the soul's great desires - to find unconditional love, to find joy in difficulty, to find comfort in grief, to find strength in weakness, to find hope in redemption, to find this God who can do all things! - dho

Thursday, August 02, 2018

God’s Purpose - God Can Do All Things Summer Series

Remember the former things long past, for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is no one like Me, declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times things which have not been done, saying, ‘My purpose will be established, and I will accomplish all My good pleasure’. Isaiah 46:9-10

In Isaiah 46-48, we read about the coming fall of Babylon and find exiled Israel worshiping pagan gods. Warren Wiersbe writes, “Isaiah exposes the folly of idols and exalts the greateness of Jehovah.” Isaiah calls for Israel to remember their past, to remember God’s fulfillment of prophecies, miracles of deliverance, and the blessings of provision. To see God’s revelation of His divine power and plan helps the people understand the past and hope for the future.

Yahweh, the one, true and living God, stands in contrast to multiple, non-living idols made by man. These pagan gods crafted of stone or wood, silver or gold cannot control destiny or give comfort as they are “merely a result of human creativity.” The idols and scorchers and astrologers that Israel worships cannot help them. Isaiah reminds them of the trustworthiness of the Lord.

Superior in all ways to the world’s idols, God with His divine power reaches out to each of us. From Genesis to Revelation God reveals His story, His plan for His people, and through the centuries echoes refrain, “there is no one like Me.” Any person can receive this gift of righteousness through faith in Christ whose abundant grace overflows. Unexpected and unmatched, Christ is God’s indescribable gift to us. Endless hallelujahs to my God who can do all things, especially the things I find impossible to accomplish or even imagine. -dho

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Nothing Too Extraordinary - God Can Do All Things Summer Series

Ah, Lord God! It is you who have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and by your outstretched arm! Nothing is too hard for you. Jeremiah 32:17

Jeremiah’s prayer, Jeremiah 32:16-25, expresses a desire for the assurance of God’s will while acknowledging His righteousness. For Jerusalem, this is a time of despair and doubt, a time of war and weariness; yet, the people’s rebellion toward God persists. Jeremiah focuses on God’s majesty and mystery as Creator, Judge, and Redeemer. Despite rebellion, God continues to embrace His people promising, “I have loved you with an everlasting love.” (Jeremiah 31:3)

About a year before the fall of Jerusalem, God tells the prophet Jeremiah to “buy a field” even though the land will soon be completely seized by the Babylonians. As God allows the city of Jerusalem to be destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar, King of Babylonia, the people continue their idolatry, giving offerings and worshiping false gods. Through fire and disease, famine and poverty, the buying of the field in this land becomes an “expression of confidence of a loving God’s promise of redemption.”

We are helpless to save ourselves. Regardless of a sometimes desperate desire to understand, we will not always have answers to our questions or doubts. Faith requires keeping our trust in the sovereignty of God, in the certainty of His everlasting love for us. After Jeremiah prays, God reassures with His rhetorical reply, “Behold, I am the LORD, the God of all flesh; is anything to difficult for me?” (Jeremiah 32:27) We, also, find our Blessed Assurance in this God who finds nothing too extraordinary! -dho

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Too Great and Too Marvelous - God Who Can Do All Things Summer Series

Lord, my heart is not lifted up;
    my eyes are not raised too high;
I do not occupy myself with things
    too great and too marvelous for me.

 But I have calmed and quieted my soul,
    like a weaned child with its mother;
    like a weaned child is my soul within me.
 O Israel, hope in the Lord
    from this time forth and forevermore.
     Psalm 131 - ESV

This psalm of David, part of the Songs of Ascents, describes a “calm and quieted soul” of one who trusts in God. The Songs of Ascents, Psalms 120-134, are pilgrim songs for those who travelled up to Jerusalem to worship for the required Jewish feasts. The message of this short song is to find contentment and hope in God while not being overly concerned with trying to understand all the ways of God who can do all things.

David voices the same conclusion that Job and Abraham discover about God, “I do not occupy myself with things too great and too wonderful for me.” God’s plan and provision reveal extraordinary and marvelous opportunities and offerings that we often cannot understand. With humility and childlike trust, we must allow our “measured and modest” souls to find immutable hope in the majesty and mystery of God. Contentment is simply to find satisfaction in the presence of the Lord. -dho

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Nothing Is Too Marvelous - God Can Do All Things Summer Series

Then the Lord said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh and say, ‘Will I really have a child, now that I am old?’ 14 Is anything too hard for the Lord? I will return to you at the appointed time next year, and Sarah will have a son.” Genesis 18:13-14

Scripture’s narrative describes Abraham welcoming three heavenly visitors, preparing a generous meal, and learning that he and Sarah will have a son. During the meal, Sarah, inside the tent, hears the prophecy. As both she and Abraham are very old and past childbearing years, Sarah laughs “to herself” at the idea of such. The LORD replies, “Is there anything to hard for the LORD?. A more correct translation would be, “is there anything too marvelous or extraordinary for the Lord?

Sarah’s disbelief, often like ours, seems to doubt the extravagance of God’s promises. The Gospel Transformation Bible Notes says it this way: “God’s purposes of grace are not held captive by human sin or adverse circumstances. He is the God who works out his purposes through weak and ordinary human beings such as Abraham and Sarah. It is God’s grace, not human merit, that determines the course, and the blessing, of our lives.”

At 100 years and 90 years old respectively, we know that Abraham and Sarah do welcome a son they name Isaac, which means ‘laughter’ - just as the LORD had promised. (Genesis 21:6-7)  Sarah declares her joy in this unimaginable gift, “God has made laughter for me.” This is the beginning of the lineage of Jesus, God’s covenant with Abraham to make his descendants into a great nation, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed. Generation after generation, God weaves His chosen people who will birth grace. Nothing is too hard for God who can do all things. - dho

Wednesday, July 04, 2018

Freedom of 'We the People' - God Who Can Do All Things Summer Series

Today is the 4th of July, the day America celebrates independence, remembers the signing of the  Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776, when "the Continental Congress declared that the thirteen American colonies regarded themselves as a new nation, the United States of America". For citizens of America, this was the beginning, the foundation of freedom. We don't celebrate the the Constitution, signed September 17, 1787, the written footprint of freedom and liberty that empowered and outlined the responsibilities of "We the people". Those beginnings and struggles to define freedom have been followed by decades of great efforts and epic failures to live out this kind of freedom. America is not about a particular place or group of people, rather America is "a radical and unprecedented idea, based upon liberty and freedom for all". (Eric Metaxas, If You Can Keep It)

Recently, I read Eric Metaxas’ book If You Can Keep It, The Forgotten Promise of American Liberty. The founders of America's document of freedom, The Constitution, believed that "the idea of total religious freedom was paramount." Metaxas writes about freedom and liberty, government and self-government, about virtue and love of country all being part of what formed America's ideals of freedom and what "we the people" must value. He speaks to the fragility of freedom and the uniqueness of America's government. Metaxas describes the heart of America as "the idea of living for others - of showing them a new way of living."

America, with its unique government and struggles to live its principles of liberty, continues to learn and evolve. It is not perfect, nor are its citizens; however, all citizens of America are included in the "we", each shares the burdens and enjoys the goodness. I treasure the freedom to worship as I choose, the freedom of speech to share my thoughts, the freedom to dream and opportunity to achieve dreams, the freedom to respectfully disagree with some and still remain part of this country. Especially on a day that celebrates independence, with both humiltiy and sadness, I do remember that this freedom has not come without its many wounds, some physical others pyschological, losses that linger, pain that divides. 

I believe in a God who offers a "radical and unprecedented idea" of spiritual freedom. I believe in a God who loves and chooses to love everyone. I trust in a God who desires a relationship with a sinner like me. I believe in a God who can do all things!  -dho  

** written Wednesday this week for the 4th of July! Next week, returning to Thursday!

Thursday, June 28, 2018

God Terminates Tower of Babel - Part 2 - God Can Do All Things Summer Series

So the Lord scattered them abroad from there over the face of the whole earth; and they stopped building the city. Therefore its name was called Babel, because there the Lord confused the language of the whole earth; and from there the Lord scattered them abroad over the face of the whole earth. Genesis 11:8-9 

“From these three sons of Noah came all the people who now populate the earth.” [Genesis 9:18-19] Historically, the post-flood roots of civilization come though Shem, Ham, and Japheth. Scholars trace the beginnings of Babel to the days of Nimrod, grandson of Ham. Stopping construction of the Tower of Babel occurs during the Babylonian Empire’s infancy about 100 years after The Flood and around 300 years before the calling of Abraham. The people’s rebellion against God and religious confusion causes God to intervene as God’s kingdom will never be decided by man. The Lord scattered them abroad over the face of the whole earth.

With millenniums between, we find contrasts and correlations between the Tower of Babel and Pentecost. While Babel is man’s attempt to reach heaven, at Pentecost the Holy Spirit comes down from Heaven to be God within us. In contrast, the confusion of languages at Babel fractures relationships, but on the day of Pentecost in Jerusalem there are “devout pilgrims from all over the world” who respond, “They’re speaking our languages, describing God’s mighty works!” God’s Spirit brings unity to the multitude of languages and creates community.  

God’s divine redemptive plan will always prevail. Through Grace, God brings people from all over the earth together, no longer divided but spiritually unified despite differences. From “every tribe and tongue and people and nation” disciples take the Good News throughout the whole earth. Glory be to God who can do all things! -dho

Thursday, June 21, 2018

God Terminiates Tower of Babel - Part 1 - God Can Do All Things Summer Series

Now the whole earth used the same language and the same words... “Come, let us build for ourselves a city, and a tower whose top will reach into heaven, and let us make for ourselves a name.” ...The LORD came down to see the city and the tower... The LORD said, “Behold, they are one people, and they have the same language. And this is what they began to do”... Therefore, its name was called Babel, because the LORD confused the language of the whole earth; and from there the LORD scattered them abroad over the face of the whole earth. 
Genesis 11:1-9

Photographer: Vicki De La Garza

After the flood, the generations of people from Noah’s lineage begin to populate the earth and, in time, begin to seek their own destiny and glory. With increasing arrogance and autonomy, the people celebrate their own greatness and create a sense of “corporate pride”. Substituting their relationship with God and uniting their human efforts, the people attempt to reach God through their own abilities. God intervenes to stop humanity’s willfulness, His power always transcending mankind’s limitations.

The people are trying to build a migdal, a fortified city with a tower reaching heaven. Increasing in unity with each other, they begin to see less of a need for a Creator. Rebellion repeats itself again. First the garden, then the flood, and now the tower, familiar patterns of rebellion and evil and arrogance emerge once again. God intervenes to save the people from themselves. He creates multiple languages, disrupts communication, forces a scattering of the peoples.
God created us for interdependence, and we can find strength in numbers. Yet God will jealously guard His position as our source of strength lest we substitute other relationships for our dependence on Him. - Blackaby
God desires a relationship with us, but this comes through grace, not human effort. We struggle to find the balance between independence and dependence, between courage and complacency, between strength and humility. What we can trust is that God is both Creator and Comforter, both Sovereign and Savior. He calls us to work independently and together but always for His glory. Over and over God rescues us from our selfish ambitions and renews us with His endless possibilities. After all, God can do all things! -dho

Thursday, June 14, 2018

“Who is like You, God?” - God Can Do All Things Summer Series

“God, Your justice stretches to the heavens,
You who have done mighty things!
Who is like You, O God?
You have made me see hard times: I’ve experienced many miserable days,
but You will restore me again.
You will raise me up
from the deep pit.
You will greatly increase my status
and be my comfort once again.
I will praise You with music played on a harp
because You have been faithful, O my God.
I will sing praises to You with the lyre,
O Holy One of Israel.
I will shout for joy
as I sing Your praises;
my soul will celebrate because You have rescued me. 
Psalm 71:19-23 The Voice

In reading Psalm 71, the Psalmist reflects on God’s faithfulness. The phrase “wondrous deeds” is the Hebrew word ‘pala’ meaning “extraordinary, beyond the normal capacity of humans, a word reserved for God alone.” (NKJV Study Bible) These extraordinary deeds do not exempt suffering or disappointment, do not guarantee success or reward; however, they do point to a God who can do all things. 
The righteous never lose hope, no matter how long God’s answer takes, no matter how difficult the problem. Because they know God intimately, they continue to hope, praising Him continually as they wait on Him. (Blackaby Study Bible, NKJV: Personal Encounters with God Through His Word) 
Take a moment to listen to Natalie Grant’s More Than Anything! The words echo the soul’s deepest need: Help me want the Healer more than the healing; Help me want the Savior more than the saving; Help me want the Giver more than the giving; Help me want you, Jesus, more than anything.

LISTEN:“More Than Anything” by Natalie Grant

Romans 5:2-5 reminds us of God’s “radical grace”! THIS is the extraordinary faithfulness of a God who can do all things. - dho

Jesus leads us into a place of radical grace where we are able to celebrate the hope of experiencing God’s glory. And that’s not all. We also celebrate in seasons of suffering because we know that when we suffer we develop endurance, which shapes our characters. When our characters are refined, we learn what it means to hope and anticipate God’s goodness. And hope will never fail to satisfy our deepest need because the Holy Spirit that was given to us has flooded our hearts with God’s love. Romans 5:2-5 The Voice

You can read about the personal story “behind the song” - click here!

Thursday, June 07, 2018

Introduction - God Can Do All Things Summer Series

Job answered God“I’m convinced: You can do anything and everything. Nothing and no one can upset your plans.” Job 42:1 MSG 
A theme throughout Scripture I’ve been thinking about for sometime - All things are possible with God - sounds full of endless possibilities, but so is God. God’s promises never fail; His character never changes. When life gets complicated or confusing, our frailty begins to wonder about God’s strength and certainty, we question the depth of His love, we lose hope. In the mire of difficult times, we miss the big picture, the Big God, the God who can do all things.
Job suffers enormous loss, endures illnesses, and questions the purpose of suffering, but he listens to God describe His power (Job 38-41) and comes face to face with the limitless provision of God. When Job answers I know You can do all things, and no purpose of Yours can be thwarted (Job 42), he is certain that God has the power to make everything whole, is able to have victory over every circumstance, that any intention of God, any plan or purpose of His will be accomplished. Our trusting God rests in acceptance of not knowing how God’s plan will unfold. Like Job, we must come to recognize the mystery and majesty of God who can do all things.
Jesus calls each of us to come to the table, the table of hope and love, of mercy and redemption, of freedom and community. All are welcome. This summer as we study the immeasruable possibilities of God, Scripture will help us discover or refresh the truth of God’s power and our need for trusting a mighty God who can do all things. - dho

This summer we will be looking at Scriptures thoughout the Bible that speak to the power of God who can do all things! We began May 24th, and you can read all the posts this summer at Breathing Room For My Soul. Enjoy your summer, and I would like to hear your thoughts about these posts! ~ Donna Oswalt\\