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!