Snapshots: Day 44

Snapshots: Day 44

The Snapshot: “God said, “I will be with you.”  (Ex 3:12a) Is just knowing He is here enough? If everything the preachers say is true, it is not. If He is love, I want to sense that love, if He is comfort, I want to sense that comfort. If He says I will provide for you, I want to know that sense of provision. If He says I am the healer, I want to know healing. If I don’t know these things, why not?  What is missing? What am I missing? What? I must “believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.” (Heb 11:6) That I need to remember to come near to him? (Jas 4:8) I can keep it in my intellect that He will never leave me (Heb 13:5) or I can wait upon Him, desiring to draw near to Him, until I sense He is here. That is a possibility; I’ve known it, so why don’t I do it more often?

Further Consideration: In the previous snapshot we considered some of God’s attributes about His being, His existence, but there are more that pertain to His character which leads to His words and His actions:

He is Faithful, He is Good, He is Just, He is Merciful, He is Gracious, He is Loving. If these things are true – and they are – if my heart isn’t yearning to experience them, there must be something wrong with me!

Thus when God says, “I will be with you,” then all of these things will be part of that experience, knowing His presence in the days that follow. We know that we can trust Him because He never changes in His attitude towards us, we can be assured of His goodness, that strange description that is so difficult to grasp, yet when we do, we have a feeling that it is right, pleasant, enjoyable and we need have no doubts about Him in any shape or kind. And so it goes on; these are the things about God that the Bible is clear about and which make knowing Him not only worthwhile but essential in life.

The apostle Paul wrote, “If God is for us, who can be against us.” (Rom 8:31) which could be equally said, “Because God is for us, who can be against us.” That is the truth, He is for us. He is with us, indwelling us by His Holy Spirit, working around us by His sovereign power, and ruling from heaven over the affairs of mankind, working them together for our benefit (Rom 8:28). That is almost too good to be true – but it is! But my experiences of Him being “with me” will vary.

There will be the relatively rare times that I referred to previously when His presence is virtually manifest and there is such an awareness of Him there; there will be other times when we have no sense of Him there (although He still is), and there are a multitude of experiences in between. Sometimes He seems very active in our lives, sometimes it seems like He is waiting and still – but He is still there!   Rest in that.

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Snapshots: Day 43

Snapshots: Day 43

The Snapshot: “God said, “I will be with you.”  (Ex 3:12a) Having a friend or a loved one alongside you has to be one of the surest ways of feeling secure in this unsure world. To be alone in the trials and tribulations of this fallen world is an anguish the Lord wants us to avoid. But if there are no other people, there is always Him. Even if that friend or loved one says nothing, it is just good to have them there. But is God a ‘friend’ who is just there? The thing about the friend’s presence is that we can always turn to talk to them and trust them in their counsel. With God it is so obvious because we are always talking about prayer. But dare I believe He is actually here in this place? Whether I sense it or not, it is true and that must be the starting place for my security.

Further Consideration: There is something strange about being a Christian that I have found over the years. There is comfort in the truth of His word, the Bible, there is comfort in being one of God’s people and having other believers around me who are like me and are for me.  If is comforting to learn the truth about the attributes and ways of God and the wonder of the Gospel, of what Jesus did and has done for us. Yes, all of these things are reassuring and comforting; it is good to know about God and who He has made us.

But the strange thing that I have found is that the greatest comfort comes either when He speaks personally or when I catch a sense of His presence – “He is here!” I have lost count of the number of times when He has spoken a personal word to me. It doesn’t happen all the time, it doesn’t happen when I want it to, but when it does happen, I find that even if it is just a single short sentence, somehow, having heard from my Lord is immensely comforting.  And then there have been those times when I have been waiting upon him, a relatively few times, sometimes with others, and then comes that awareness that He was there, making His presence felt in a way that really denies further description. And it always comes with an amazing sense of peace.

I’ve pondered on why it should be, and it is only when I think of His attributes do I understand. When you are infinite and without origin, you have no need to worry about your past or prove yourself in the future. When you are immutable or self-sufficient, you have no need to rely on others. When you are all-powerful you have no need to feel defensive. When you are all-knowing, you need have no doubts. When you are everywhere, you will see everything and miss nothing.  When you are all-wise, you have no need to feel confused. God IS at total peace because of this, and in His presence we too sense and feel that peace. How wonderful.

36. Jesus, the fullness of God

Meditations in Colossians: 36. Jesus the fullness of God

Col 1:19    For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him,

We always try to pick up every significant word in our verses in these studies and so we should wonder at the link word, ‘for’. It flows on from the previous verse that concluded, so that in everything he might have the supremacy.”  Perhaps we could change it to read, “in everything he might have the supremacy because God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him.” Because God’s fullness was in him, all these others things happened and he was shown to be supreme above all others. What other human being could claim to contain the “fullness of God”?

Which leaves us wondering, what exactly does that phrase mean? Let’s use that little cheat method I’ve encouraged you to use, of seeing what the various paraphrase versions or other translations say. The Living Bible says, God wanted all of himself to be in his Son.” The JBP version says, “It was in him that the full nature of God chose to live.” The Amplified Bible is more helpful;: “for it has pleased [the Father] that all the divine fullness (the sum total of the divine perfection, powers, and attributes) should dwell in Him permanently,” which is interesting because I have a CD commentary which comments, For Paul “fullness” meant the totality of God with all his powers and attributes.”

Paul himself comments further on in this letter, “For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form.” (Col 2:9)  So, if God is good, then Jesus is good. If God is love, Jesus is love. If God is holy, then Jesus is holy. But we have to be careful, for other attributes of God the Father are that He is all powerful, all knowing, all wise, He is infinite, He is eternal and so on, and we have to ask, was Jesus all powerful, all knowing etc. and the answer has to be as far as the presence of the divine Son of God was in this particular body, and the Son was one with the Father and the Spirit, yes.

And yet there s a mystery here, how God can exist in a single human body and be God incarnate, God in the flesh. Clearly the body was limited in time and space (until after the resurrection) and there are indicators that suggest that the human person that was Jesus had limitations and had to rely upon the Holy Spirit. Yet he was God from conception and was still God when he ascended back to heaven, and he did not change in between.

So the human body clearly had human experiences and got tired and felt pain and anguish. Indeed I have suggested that when Jesus cried out on the Cross, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me,” that was the human element or maybe even the divine element covered in sin that momentarily lost the sense of the Father and Spirit. That they were still there, I have no doubt because the Father would never turn His loving back on His Son, even when he was going through what he was going through. No, not even the Sin of the world that the Son was carrying would have made the father turn away, because He faces it in you and me, even as He did in Abram, Isaac, Jacob, Moses etc. throughout history.

So how could divine and human blend together? Why is it so difficult to understand and distinguish divine and human in this incarnation?  I think the best illustration I have heard of is the analogy of the Meal Offering of Lev 2.  It consisted of fine flour, representing the humanity of our Lord, and olive oil which stands for the Holy Spirit and deity. Each become blended together to become for ever one. The cake that was thus made was one cake, not two, although the two materials exist together so we cannot see them. In the same way the two natures – human and divine – exist together but not being observable. With the incarnation, the Son who had pre-existed in heaven with the Father, became man.

The Son, we have seen a number of times now, existed from before the Creation, begotten of the Father (coming from the Father) and with all His attributes. From all we have seen, the Son was God and the Son came into being at the will and pleasure of the Father, and with all of the Father’s nature. It was this nature, these powers and attributes that we see expressed in the life and ministry of Jesus Christ as recorded in the Gospels. The physical side (the flour) experienced all that we experience as human beings – except  he did not sin: “we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are–yet was without sin.” (Heb 4:15)

The divine side, expressing the nature, powers and attributes of the Godhead enabled Him to perform the signs and wonders etc.: “Men of Israel, listen to this: Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs, which God did among you through him.” (Acts 2:22) When the body was put to death on the Cross, God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him.” (Acts 2:24) Was it possible to distinguish human from divine? No, in the same way it is impossible to distinguish the flour from the oil in the cake.

Here’s a closing thought: “the church, which is his body, the fullness of him.” (Eph 1:22,23)  “so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.” (Eph 4:12,13)  “you have been given fullness in Christ.” (Col 2:10) We said above that when it speaks of Christ being indwelt by the fullness of God it means the totality of God with all his powers and attributes. So if we have the fullness of Christ then we have access to all of God’s powers and attributes and the church has access to all of God’s powers and attributes. Ponder on that.