Archive for the ‘God’s Glory’ Category

There is a lot of basic doctrine to be found in the pattern for prayer that Jesus gave us in Matthew 6:9-13. It is usually called “The Lord’s Prayer,” but it is actually a general prayer guide for his followers. It was given at the request of one of his disciples (Luke 11:1-4). I don’t see anything in the Bible that annuls this pattern or supersedes its particular doctrines. As usual, please forgive my inconsistent grammar in this writing.

“Our Father in Heaven,” I am glad that you have a haven where all would be welcomed if all would welcome you; a place where you can take us when this world becomes more than can be borne. Evolutionists believe in “Father Time,” but time is not our father. Time is a creation of God, our caring Father.

“Hallowed be your name.” The name of God; the name of Jesus, is despised, dishonored, and dragged through the mud.

“Your kingdom come.” The peaceful kingdom where the lion eats straw like the ox will become a reality. This earth whose nations now reject you, and wage war upon each other, will one day become a world where there will no more hurt or destruction. Your kingdom will become a physical reality (Isaiah 11:6-9).

“Your will be done on Earth as in Heaven.” Jesus is Lord, but we don’t yet see all things in submission to his will (Hebrews 2:8). We are far from it, which is why we are to pray for it. The perfect will of God has not permeated this world since the day Adam and Eve undertook to reinterpret all knowledge. Things are not beyond God’s control, but God is not a puppeteer.

“Give us this day our daily bread.” Sustain us Immanuel (manna and man, Man of Heaven); bread that is broken for us.

“Forgive our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.” We all offend in many ways (James 3:2), but love covers a multitude of sins (1st Peter 4:8).

“Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.” A man in the Old Testament (Proverbs 30:8-9) prayed for God to give him “neither poverty nor riches,” but only that which was sufficient for him. He recognized the fact that just about anything can lead to trials for us. Lead us in some other way Lord. Let us not enter temptation. God tempts no man (James 1:13), even though all are tempted by life itself. Do we really want what we feel like we want? Sometimes our freewill does not feel free. Deliver us from the evil one.

“For yours is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, to forever.” You have the right, and the power when you choose to exercise it. Hallowed be your name. One day your name will be cleared. Man’s assumptions and accusations against God will be proven false, and the truth will be evident. That is the true definition of the “glory of God,” not the vainglory of human definition. One day Jesus will be seen in his own true light, without our shadows casting doubts and deceptions about him. “For your’s is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, to forever. Amen.”

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A picture of a starving child is a picture of the greed, ignorance, and apathy of man. It has always been the policy of man to starve enemies into subjection, and to ignore the undesired. That is not what God wants (Matthew 5:43-45). It is not the will of God that has led to the suffering we see in the world today, but the policies of man. We are self-willed, and we sin.

Long ago, in the garden of Eden, the first human beings chose to know good and evil, and to make their own decisions about all things as if they were gods. Because of that decision, evil is loosed to walk the earth, and human beings create many “impossible” situations, where there are no pleasant answers. We live in the shadow and consequences of prior human choices, and others will walk in ours. It is a long walk in the darkness.

Jesus said that whatever is done to others is done to him (Matthew 25:42-45), so a picture of a starving child is also a picture of God. God starves with the starving. It was God who created the empathetic and sympathetic qualities that human beings sometimes exhibit. Those are characteristics of God. In fact, the only way to hurt God is to harm his creation. The enemy of all humanity knows that when he targets a person, he nails the Messiah. God has been the primary target all along.

As any caring person knows, love draws us into the pain of others (1st Corinthians 12:12,26, and 13:4-7). Love makes God vulnerable along with us. The cross of Jesus is the physical manifestation of that phenomena. The crucifixion of Jesus is the perfect expression of God’s entanglement in our world’s problems. Where is God when we are hurting? He is there on the cross.

The name Immanuel (Isaiah 7:14, Matthew 1:23) means “God with us.” “El,” in the ending of the name, is a Hebrew name for God. The Greek spelling is Emmanuel. In Greek, “eme” means “me.” The Greek word “manna” comes from the Hebrew “man,” the word for the bread (Exodus 16:14-18) that fell from the heavens during the exodus of the Hebrew slaves from Egypt. Jesus compared himself to this manna (John 6:32,33) which came down from heaven. He is the broken bread (1st Corinthians 11:23-24), the antidote for the fruit of the knowledge of good and evil. “Manuwn” is a little used Hebrew word meaning “heir,” or “son.” I think all these words and meanings are implied in the prophetic name Immanuel.

The Bible teaches that Jesus is the physical manifestation of God. In John 14:8, Philip said to Jesus, “Show us the Father, and it is enough for us,” but nothing is ever quite enough for man. The world is not enough. The next verse gives the answer of Jesus, “Am I with you so long, Phillip, and you haven’t known me?” “The one seeing me has seen the Father.”

The Bible tells us that Jesus wept (John 11:35), and that God was in Jesus reconciling the world unto himself (2nd Corinthians 5:19). The tears of Jesus were the very tears of God. Jesus displayed emotions, and his emotions are those of God. Evil denies all of this, and either claims that God does not exist, or it presents him as being distant and unaffected. Evil uses every possible angle against God, but it all comes into focus at the cross.

“I like pain,” a man once said to me, “It keeps me on my toes.” “I like pain,” said another. “Otherwise, I wouldn’t know I was alive.” The statements were an attempt at humor, but they are sad words nevertheless. Another man said to me, “I don’t think that other people feel things like I do, and it makes me want to hurt them.” I tried to convince him that his thoughts were not true either of man or God. How many people want to hurt God because they think that God does not feel? God sees, God hears (Psalms 94:9), and God feels (Luke 13:34).

I’m sure that God does not like pain, and I don’t like it. A man once tried to convince me that Jesus didn’t really suffer when he was crucified. That man’s professed view was that Jesus was so spiritually exalted that he was beyond physical suffering, but love doesn’t make one immune to suffering. It magnifies it instead, yet love gives us purpose.

Jesus faced the cross in spite of the suffering, because that was the way to get us to face the truth, and it is the way to change our hearts. Why doesn’t God simply force all of us to do the right thing? Well, where do we want him to start, and where do we want him to stop? Can we get a consensus on our guidelines for God’s conduct, and would that agreement be the right one? Love must be voluntary.

We hurt ourselves when we harm others, and we hurt others when we harm ourselves. We hurt God when we harm ourselves and others, and we harm ourselves and others when we hurt God. That is life on Earth in a nutshell. Is that what we want, or is evil using, and confusing us?

Jesus said, “If I am lifted up (crucified), I will draw all mankind unto myself.” This he said signifying what death that he would die (John 12:32-33). The Messiah’s death on the cross might seem to us like the all-time low of his eternal existence, and it was, but at the very same time, it is the all-time high mark of sacrificial love. Jesus, on the cross becoming one with every one of us, (2nd Corinthians 5:21, becoming sin for us) taking all our wrong into his own body, and destroying it in his death while saving the souls of all who will believe in him, is the height, depth, and breadth of God’s love.

We cannot see God in his true light (glory) if we do not see the depth of Christ’s suffering. There is a tendency in the churches to gloss this over, and only glory in the resurrection, but if we don’t acknowledge the communion of the suffering of God for man (1st Corinthians 11:26), we are missing the reason for his long journey down to Earth. If we do not see the suffering of the Messiah, we won’t be as able to deal with our own suffering, and we can’t see very far into the heavens of God’s love. This earth is a world of suffering, but it is not our final destination.

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The way we face is the way we go. I noticed soon after I began driving, that if I looked at something off to one side, I would tend to veer in that direction. In Genesis 4:14, Cain speaks as if he is being driven away to be hidden from the face of God, but Cain was already gone. He had turned away from God long before. When there is an emotional distance between people, every meeting can push you farther apart. That is true even when one person desperately wants to hold onto the other. Face to face can get uncomfortably close to “heart to heart.”

The story of Cain parallels that of man. It is the story of God calling man to turn. He has called us to seek his face (Psalm 27:8). All through the Script, there is a play upon words that emphasizes the meaning of its passages. It’s impossible to grasp them all. They have actually become part of the framework of language.

The Hebrew word “Panah,” means “to turn.” It is very similar to the word “Paneh,” meaning “face,” which is sometimes translated as “open.” (Note: Many Hebrew words have various spellings, and attempts to transliterate Hebrew words using English letters also compounds the spelling difficulties) Our English word “pan,” which Webster’s says is slang for “face,” probably came about because a pan of water, or its own reflective surface, can serve as a mirror.

Our faces should mirror the love of God, but what is seen so much of the time is a mask. God doesn’t want to see only a superficial civility. He wants to see people seeking him, “…with open face beholding as in a glass the true appearance of the Lord (Jesus)…” God wants to see us coming closer, and beginning to look more like Jesus.

That quote is from 2nd. Corinthians 3:18 in the King James Version of the Script, except I changed the word “glory” to “true appearance.” I did that because the word “glory,” translated from the Greek word “doxa,” has itself become paradoxically like a veil over the face. Earlier in that chapter (3:14), it is said that the “…veil is done away in Christ.”

If you want to see God, don’t look at me, or anyone other than Jesus, and especially see him on the cross. It is in his death that the veil separating man from God is torn away (Mark 15:38). All the evil of this world distorts the face of God. It can make him look like something that he is not. The darkness isn’t a reflection of God, but of our own souls. If you want to see God, there is only one who is the mirror image of him.

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The origin of the name Easter is probably the morning star; the east star. In Revelation 22:16, Jesus calls himself “…the bright and morning star.” The Greek word for “star” in that verse, is “Aster.” A kindred word, “Stauros,” is the Greek word for cross.

Jesus is the promise of a brighter day. Some people claim that day is already here, but 1st. Corinthians 13:12 says, “Now we see through a glass, darkly…” Jesus is the light of the world, but even so, those who believe are yet seeing through dark shades. Then, there are those who promise enlightenment to the world as Lucifer did, but are only a “will of the wisp,” leading others deeper into darkness.

So, who is enlightened, and who is yet in the darkness? That argument will continue until the full light of day. “Eos,” is a Greek word for dawn. Romans 1:21-25 says that when mankind knew God, they didn’t honor him as God, but changed the truth into myths. In Greek Mythology, the name Eos is also given to the “goddess” of the dawn. Over the centuries, Eos became Eostre, or Eastre, but it still means dawn. There are several ancient words for dawn, east, and the spring and summer seasons that are spelled similarly. Queen Esther of the Bible was probably given that name by her Babylonian captors in honor of the “goddess Ishtar.”

The name for an ancient Pagan festival may be from the same origin as the word Easter, but that really doesn’t mean much. You can find or create multiple meanings for each day of the week, every week, every month, and every year, but God created time itself. If the world were to last long enough, people of the future could someday argue that Christians created Easter from the Earth Day celebrations. No matter what it’s called, Jesus is the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecies embodied in the sacrifice of Passover.

The first chapter of Genesis is the oldest recorded history in existence, though it can be argued that our copies aren’t the oldest. God created the heavens and the earth. He created man; male and female. According to Genesis 1:14, one of the reasons God created the stars is for “signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years.” I don’t believe Christians should just hide somewhere because it’s this day or that, because God has given us every day.

There are dark nights yet to come for the world, and for each of us. In the dark nights I’ve gone through since I accepted Jesus, he’s continued to give me hope for the dawn. Christians have a wonderful future, whether we can feel it right now or not. Jesus is recorded as saying one more thing after the morning star verse; Revelation 22:20, “Surely I come quickly.”

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Even to this day, when Moses is read, a veil lies upon the heart. The same veil remains unlifted in the reading of the Old Testament. Those aren’t the words of an atheist or agnostic; they are the words of Paul the Apostle in 2nd Corinthians 3:14-15. Verse 16 says the veil can only be taken away by turning to Jesus. We must look at the life and death of Jesus if we really want to understand the Bible. We can read the words, and we can certainly learn many things from them, but we won’t understand the primary message if we won’t trust Jesus.

2nd Peter 3:15-16 says that Paul wrote some things that are hard to understand, and could be twisted as well as the other scriptures. So, the Bible acknowledges that things written within it can be taken the wrong way. Should God not have spoken for fear of being misunderstood? He knew he would be misinterpreted. Romans 3:11 says there is no one who understands. Should God not have used symbolism and poetic imagery simply because we would get it all twisted up? If he let our misinterpretations stop him from speaking, then he would get nothing said.

Sometimes people would rather twist things up than to try to understand. How many differing interpretations of the Constitution of the U.S. are there? Highly educated judges read different things in the same few words, so our reason for reading something, and our points of view become factors. If we read the Bible with an open mind, still there are things we can misunderstand. If something doesn’t seem right to you, then it probably isn’t, and there’s some misunderstanding somewhere. The best thing to do is to treat such things as an obstacle on a path, go around it, and read on.

The Bible isn’t a book that is best read as we normally would from start to finish. It is a collection of several books brought together under one cover. The individual books were most likely written over a span of about four thousand years, and are not all in chronological order. Some establish a time-line and order, and others go back to give us a little more detail about something. You find the same sort of thing when several people who’ve known a particular person, write separately about that person. You’ll find some of the same information multiple times, and some things included that others missed. You’ll sometimes find a chapter within an individual book that goes back into detail on something previously mentioned.

While some lesson can be gleaned from everything within the Bible, not all the information is meant for everyone, and not all the books will interest everyone. If something doesn’t interest you, skip it, and file it away for later. There are many rewards that can come from reading the Bible. The words within it can lead you to eternal life. 2nd Timothy 3:15-16 says that very thing. The words within it lead us to Jesus, because that’s what it’s really all about. For instance, the long genealogies branch off again and again, but they end with Jesus. They are there to lead someone to Jesus.

To someone new to the Bible, I would recommend reading a few chapters of Genesis, especially the first three, and then turn to Luke or John in the New Testament. The New Testament sheds light on many Old Testament writings. If you take these things into account when studying the Bible, practically all problems that critics raise disappear right away. The few that remain will someday dissolve in light of new discoveries. Until then, there are a few things that God asks us to trust him on. When we look at Jesus on the cross, we know we can trust him. The Bible is more than simply a collection of scriptures (writings); it is the Script, containing the overview of the age of man from beginning to end. To see where the world is headed, we must have an understanding of the Bible.

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I firmly believe that God wants to treat us as equals, and that’s why he became a man. I believe he wants to be able to meet with us as friends, just as he did with Adam and Eve. I also believe that we would never be his equals, even if making us his children were, at some point, to give us equal power. We will always bow before the Lord. I believe that he had to die to live with us; that it absolutely crucifies him, either to live without us, or within us. It is God who must save us, and not the other way around.

The Bible opens up huge topics and equality with God is one of them. That’s what this whole rebellion on earth is about; the grasping for something that we can neither earn, nor take, but only receive as a gift. It is like love in that way.

I mentioned to a friend that I was planning to write something about Phillipians 2:5-7. My friend doesn’t believe we should consider the Son as being equal to the Father. Just because we disagree on this doesn’t mean that one of us isn’t “saved,” or that we’re not equals. We both believe that Jesus is the Messiah (the Christ), and our savior.

Those verses in Phillipians say, “…Jesus…being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made himself of no reputation, taking the form of…men.” I left a few words out of that quote for the sake of space, but that doesn’t change the meaning. I looked at those verses in several translations, and they all read much the same. Phillipians 2:5-7 parallels John 1:1-3 and 10 (I think the K.J.V. best translates those verses).

The case with Jesus is different from ours. He is the “only begotten Son.” Unlike us, he existed in the form of God before he became a man (John 16:28, and 17:5). My “Page”, “Trinity,” has more on this subject. The “Word” in the first chapter of John is just another name for Jesus. You could say it this way. Jesus was in the beginning, and he was with God, and he was God. He became flesh and dwelt among us… Jesus was with God, and was God in the beginning, and didn’t think that was any sort of robbery, but he didn’t even struggle to hold onto that. He became a man for our sake.

The New Testament isn’t alone in identifying Jesus as God. The prophecy about Jesus in Psalm 45:6-7 calls both the Father and the Son, “God.” “Your throne, Oh God, is for ever and ever…therefore God, your God has anointed you…” There is a fear that sometimes tries to rise against us when we first consider whether we should think of Jesus as “God in person.” I think that particular fear arises because there’s a spiritual force seeking to separate the Son from the Father in our eyes, and keep us from understanding God better. John 5:22 says, “…The Father judges no man, but has committed all judgement unto the Son.” If we want to know what God is like, we need to look ever more closely at Jesus. He said in John 14:9, “…He that has seen me has seen the Father.”

Jesus called his disciples his “friends.” In Matthew 26:50, Jesus even called Judas “friend” on the night that Judas betrayed him. The prophecy in Zechariah 13:6 speaks of the wounds that Jesus would receive, “…in the house of my friends.” God wants to be friends with us. He wants to treat us as equals, but that’s something that he cannot do if it is in our heart to always grasp for more.

We crucified God when he became equal to us. Being equal to us on this plane of existence is different from mankind being equal to God on his level. What would happen if he made us equal to himself with our attitudes as they are. It couldn’t work. We are never good enough to earn it, and never strong enough to take it. Whatever God gives us must be received gratefully.

Equality with God would not mean a competition, as we would make of it, and it wouldn’t mean any sort of division. For us, equality with God should mean a union with him, communion or oneness with God, atonement. Without a change of heart, mankind wouldn’t be satisfied with that sort of equality. Man wants to be the highest being, able to set his own standards, able to compete against God.

Mankind fell by grasping for that very thing through knowledge (Ref. ” the Tree of Knowledge” under Pages). The fact that mankind “fell,” means that Adam and Eve once were on a higher plane with God than we are now. In grasping for more and more we most often lose something. Love is left behind and lost, and without love we could never begin to be like God, for “God is love.” Jesus showed that love to us.

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In Romans 13:1-7, Paul is trying to prepare Christians for the trouble that he sees building in Rome. He knows that persecution is coming and that Christ’s kingdom cannot be established by physical resistance. He doesn’t want the Christians to give anyone an excuse for persecuting them, so he reminds the believers in Rome of several things.

In Chapter 12, he tells them to live their lives like a sacrifice. He tells them to live peaceably with others (12:14-19) to the extent that is within their control, and to bless those who persecute them, not attempting to avenge themselves. We can look back to this time in history and see that the Roman Christians heeded Paul’s advice. It’s obvious that they were horribly persecuted only because they wouldn’t worship Caesar.

Many times in history, laws have been intentionally contrived to use against Christians. Law abiding citizens suddenly find themselves on the wrong side of the law. It happened to Daniel and his friends. It happened to Peter, to Paul, and to Jesus. Christians have an enemy that seeks to portray them and their Lord in a bad light. Many times Christians, and those who call themselves Christians, unwittingly bring trouble upon themselves.

God instituted human government for the good of mankind. That doesn’t mean that governments are always good, or function as they should. Romans 13:1-4 doesn’t mean that God approves of all rulers or forms of government. Neither does it mean that Christians should bow to the governments under which they live. No doubt some Churches in Nazi Germany used verses such as Romans 13:1-4 as an excuse to compromise with Hitler.

Jesus said, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” It is one thing to bend to the will of government in particular matters, and another to bow to government instead of to God. Governments very often try to take the place of God, as several of the Roman Caesars did. They make use of propaganda in as many ways as possible to miseducate their citizens. God becomes an outlaw in their eyes, and worshipping God becomes a criminal act.

The correct Christian response in that case is to simply try to imitate the behaviour of Jesus when he was in that situation. Goverments are formed because of abuses, and they are changed constantly because of abuses. God wants to prevent as much of this as possible. That’s why we have chapters twelve and thirteen in the book of Romans.

There are absolutes taught in the Bible, but there are also general rules that don’t always apply to every situation. Some apply to particular people in particular times. Most of Chapter 13 falls into that catagory. Paul wrote in 1st. Timothy 1:8, “…The law is good if one uses it lawfully.” Even verses of the Bible can be used in the wrong way.

This section of the book of Romans has been used to try to prove that God pulls all the strings, and orchestrates all the details. Even within this section though, there are reminders that we have freewill. We would not be reminded to behave in a certain way if the possibility didn’t exist that we could behave differently.

First Peter 4:14-16 says, “But let none of you suffer as a murderer, a thief, an evil doer…” Within certain bounds, God allows man to to devise his own laws and government. He has given man every chance to get it right but it never happens. Sometimes we make it better, but it always fails somewhere.

In all of that, sometimes we can see how badly we need God. In the final analysis, Jesus is Lord and will someday exercise his sovereign authority. Hebrews 2:8, “We do not yet see all things put under him.”

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