January 20

God is Truth

Bible Reading: John 14:6; Hebrews 6:17-18; 1 John 5:20; Ephesians 4:25

In the most unjust trial of history, when God in the person of Jesus was subjected to accusations of evil, Jesus made this bold statement, “For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into this world–to bear witness to the truth” (John 18:37), to which Pilate mockingly responded, “What is truth?” (John 18:38).  

There are no doubt many in our day who’d agree with Pilate’s sentiment.  In the public discourse of these divisive times many people claim to adhere and speak the truth, only to be met by the contradictory claims of others.  Having no agreement as to where truth is founded, we now live in a day where anyone’s idea of truth is deemed to be of equal value to another’s even if they disagree.  Having no sure basis upon which to judge truth, public sentiment and/or the latest media narrative steps in to fill the void.

On the one hand, this should not surprise us, for we live in a time in which mankind is actively working to suppress the truth (Romans 1:18).  On the other hand, we must be careful to exercise diligence in our pursuit of the truth, lest we ourselves become comfortable and acclimated to the kind of skeptical thinking once voiced by Pilate.  Pilate mocked the concept of truth in the presence of the One who embodied it.

Put simply, truth is that which accords with reality.  God is the ultimate reality, since He is the creator of all things.  The pursuit of truth must start with Him.  He is absolute truth and all truth, including His Word and revelation to us, is sourced in Him.  The Truth is who God is and what He does.  He is absolutely dependable, without falseness of any kind.  His plans, principles and promises are completely reliable, accurate, real, and factual.

When Jesus Christ became flesh and dwelt among man, His disciples beheld His glory as One who was full of “grace and truth.” He came to bear witness to the truth and embodied the truth. As He boldly proclaimed, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” The pursuit of truth is a pursuit of Christ. He also acknowledged God’s Word to be truth (John 17:17). We should look to God’s word for Truth, reminding ourselves it is Scriptures which bears witness of Him (John 5:39).

The good news for those weary of today’s contrary and contradictory voices, is truth is not dead.  It’s alive and well! The God who is truth “desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:4; cf. John 8:32).  He likewise desires His children to walk in the truth (3 John 1:4).  In possessing the truth, the child of God possesses a treasure of infinite value which is in short supply.  Let us value it accordingly, as Thomas Watson once exhorted: “Oh! I beseech you, labor to be like God. He is a God of truth. He can as well part with his Deity—as his verity. Be like God, be true in your words, be true in your profession. God’s children are children that will not lie. When God sees “truth in the inward parts,” and “lips in which there is no deceit,” he sees his own image—which draws his heart towards us.”

Heavenly Father. How precious this truth that You are truth! In a world filled with so many conflicting and misleading voices, we never have to doubt Your integrity or the veracity of Your Word! Grant us hearts that are forever loving the truth, that we might walk in the truth and grow in Christ. We, Your People, are called to be the Pillar and Support of the truth in this world–forgive us for not always standing strong that way. Embolden us that we might be holding forth the truth in this needy day. Amen.

January 16

God Rules

Bible Reading: Daniel 2:20-23; Ephesians 1:11

A company’s organizational chart explains the interrelationships within the company, the name at the top is the one in charge!  That person has authority over all the others, dictating how things are to function and the various roles of his subordinates.  

When it comes to the universe there is only one at the top and that is God.  The Creator rules over all.  Unlike earthly leaders, God rules with absolute authority, possessing all power and knowledge, with complete freedom to exercise His will and to fulfill His purposes.

While there are many excellent reasons to be joyful over this truth, this doctrine is difficult for us to understand.  For example, one might ask, if God is sovereign, why did He allow sin, death, evil, pain and tears into this world. A. W. Tozer had this to say, “While a complete explanation of the origin of sin eludes us, there are a few things we do know.  In His sovereign wisdom God has permitted evil to exist in carefully restricted areas of His creation, a kind of fugitive outlaw whose activities are temporary and limited in scope.”

Another question often raised has to do with the relationship between God’s sovereignty and man’s responsibility.  If God is sovereign over all, how can He hold man responsible for the sinful choices he makes? This question has not only been the source of much debate in the church through the centuries, it also led to the forming of two different theological camps, Arminianism and Calvinism.  There’s a tendency to emphasize either side of this puzzle to the negation of the other, but It should not escape our notice there are examples in Scripture of God working through the sinful choices of men to accomplish His predetermined plan (see for example Genesis 50:20 and Acts 2:23).

Joel Beeke used this helpful illustration to explain, “Just as the rails of a train track, which run parallel to each other, appear to merge in the distance, so the doctrines of God’s sovereignty and man’s responsibility, which seem separate from each other in this life, will merge in eternity.  Our task is not to force their merging in this life but to keep them in balance and to live accordingly.”

Having said all that, it is easy to get caught up in the theological details and miss the glorious point.  What a comfort to know the ship of humanity is not sailing off course to some unknown destination!  God is the captain and the ship is headed exactly to where He has purposed for it to go.  As A. W. Tozer has said, “We know that God will fulfill every promise made to the prophets; we know that sinners will someday be cleansed out of the earth; we know that a ransomed company will enter into the joy of God and that the righteous will shine forth in the kingdom of their Father; we know that God’s perfections will yet receive universal acclamation, that all created intelligences will own Jesus Christ as Lord to the glory of God the Father, that the present imperfect order will be done away, and a new heaven and a new earth will be established forever.” 

Heavenly Father.  All praise and thanksgiving belongs to You.  Lord, You work all things according to the counsel of Your will.  It is a great comfort to realize all power and authority is vested in You, the One who is good and has our best at heart. There is so much angst and confusion in this broken world.  Lord, help us to always remember “though the wrong seems oft so strong, You are the ruler yet,” and always will be.  Amen.”

January 10

The Unlimited God

Bible Reading: Psalm 145:3; Isaiah 55:6-9; Romans 11:33-36

We humans have limits.  There is a limit to how far or how fast we can run, jump, or swim.  No matter how strong we are, there’s only so much we can carry, or lift.  On the best of days there is only so much we can accomplish.  Our cars are limited in how fast they can go.  Our computers are limited by how much memory they can hold.  Everything we own is limited by how long it can last.  There are limits to how much we can spend (except when it comes to the government) (haha).  There are even limits to how much we can think, or love, or endure.  The very length of our existence on earth is of limited duration.

It’s difficult to think of a God without limits.  There is a temptation, if not a sinful tendency, on our part to put “God in a box.”  We are prone to think of Him in earthbound ways.  Just as the French writer Voltaire once said, “If God has made us in his image, we have returned him the favor.”  A.W. Tozer likewise noted, “This God we have made and because we have made Him we can understand Him, because we have created Him He can never surprise us, never overwhelm us, nor astonish us, nor transcend us.”

Because God is infinite, it means He is measureless and knows no bounds.  It is not just that He transcends us (which He does), but His transcendence is in an infinite sphere  of existence in which it is impossible for us to comprehend.  We’ve measurements for length and weight and volume and speed and power and other such things, but these are all rendered useless when it comes to our understanding of God.

Though we struggle as limited beings to comprehend a God without limits, there is much comfort and hope bound up in our consideration of it.  We are limited, but God is not.  What is true of the person of God, is true of Him in all His perfections.  So, when it comes to His thoughts and ways, they are higher to us than the heavens are from the earth (Isaiah 55:8-9).  When it comes to His love and the “breadth and length and height and depth of it” we are told it is a love which “surpasses knowledge” (Ephesians 3:18-19).  When He forgives, He removes our transgressions from us “as far as the east is from the west” (Psalm 103:12).  His omnipotence is such that “nothing is too hard” for Him (Jeremiah 32:17).  When He saves He “saves to the uttermost” (Hebrews 7:25).  The peace He can bring to our hearts is a peace “which surpasses all understanding” (Philippians 4:7). Indeed, our infinite God is able to work in our lives in a manner which is “far more abundantly than all that we ask or think” (Ephesians 3:20).  He is infinite in who He is and infinite in what He does!  His greatness is unsearchable (Psalm 145:3)!

J. B. Philips authored a book entitled “Your God is too Small,” in which he deals with many of the common misconceptions regarding God. It is possible for us to invent in our minds a small and manageable god whom we can contain. We are better off to trust the Spirit, in whom our minds are being renewed, to increasingly aligned our thinking to the truth about God revealed to us in of the Word.

Infinite God.  In our minds we’ve shrunk You to such an extent you bear little resemblance to the full measure of your limitless perfections.  Forgive us.  Open our eyes that we might behold the wonderful truths from your Word which can work to correct our smallish vision of You.  May our hearts be henceforth filled with praise and thanksgiving as we worship You according to the wonderful reality of who You are! 

“To whom then will you compare me,

that I should be like him? says the Holy One.”

Isaiah 40:26

January 9

The Uncaused God

Bible Reading: Exodus 3:14-15; Isaiah 44:24; Acts 17:24-25; Colossians 1:16-17

God is self-existent and self-sufficient.  He alone has no outside grounds for His existence.  The answer to the question of “Who created God?” is “NO ONE!”  The self-existent God does not depend on anyone or anything outside of Himself for His life and being.

In his book “The Attributes of God,” Arthur W. Pink spoke to these aspects of God’s nature: ‘In the beginning, God’ (Genesis 1:1). There was a time, if “time” it could be called, when God, in the unity of His nature (though subsisting equally in three Divine Persons), dwelt all alone. ‘In the beginning, God.’ There was no heaven, where His glory is now particularly manifested. There was no earth to engage His attention. There were no angels to hymn His praises; no universe to be upheld by the word of His power. There was nothing, no one, but God; and that, not for a day, a year, or an age, but ‘from everlasting.’ 

During a past eternity, God was alone: self-contained, self-sufficient, self-satisfied; in need of nothing. The creation of the universe, angels and mankind, when He did, added nothing to God essentially. He changes not (Malachi 3:6), because of this His essential glory can be neither augmented, nor diminished.  God was under no constraint, no obligation, no necessity to create. That He chose to do so was purely a sovereign act on His part, caused by nothing outside Himself, determined by nothing but His own good pleasure; for He “worketh all things after the counsel of His own will” (Ephesians 1:11). That He did create was simply for His manifestative glory.”

By way of contrast, we humans are neither self-existent nor self-sufficient.  In 1943 an American Psychologist by the name of Abraham Maslow theorized what he called “Man’s Hierarchy of Needs,” which were categorized according to the following groups: physiological, safety, belongingness and love, esteem, self-actualization and self-transcendence.  According to his hierarchy, basic needs such as food, water, air, clothing and shelter were just the start if a person was to achieve what he referred to as “self-actualization.”  We creatures can’t long survive apart from that which has been provided to us by a benevolent creator.  As A.W. Tozer has noted, “All breathing things need air; every organism needs food and water.  Take air and water from the earth and all life would perish instantly.  It may be stated as an axiom that to stay alive every created thing needs some other created thing, and all things need God.  To God alone nothing is necessary.”

Sin reveals itself in many ways, but at its core is a rebellion which leads to the erroneous belief that we, as created beings, can somehow exist and function independent of our Creator.  The doctrine of the self-existence of God is an affront to every self-worshiper.  In our secular society many folks live their lives supposing the universe revolves around them, only to grow increasingly frustrated by the universe’s refusal to cooperate. 

Though God does not need us, we have intrinsic value inasmuch as He created us in His image. Though He doesn’t need us, He has loved us enough to send His own Son to rescue us from sin’s folly.  Jesus died for our sins and rose from the dead so we can be saved (John 3:16; 1 Corinthians 15:3-4; Ephesians 2:4-5).  Though He doesn’t need anything from us, by His grace He privileges us to serve Him, having prepared beforehand good works for us to do (Ephesians 2:10).  The Creator of all things, has no needs and in His perfection He is altogether deserving of our worship!

“Worthy are you, our Lord and God

To receive glory and honour and praise

For you created all things,

And by your will they existed and were created.”

Revelation 4:11

January 8

One God in Three

Bible Reading: Matthew 3:16-17, 28:19; 2 Corinthians 13:14

If we are to think rightly about God it is necessary to grapple with the doctrine of the Trinity.  I say “grapple,” because the truth of the trinity is neither easy to understand, or to  articulate.  Though the word “Trinity” does not appear anywhere in our Bibles, the doctrine is clearly taught in Scripture and affirmed to us throughout the history of the church. 

Put simply, the doctrine of the Trinity is there is One God who has eternally existed in three distinct persons, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  God is one in essence and three in person.  These three persons are not parts of One God, but three distinct co-equal persons.  Neither should we be misled into thinking there is One God who revealed Himself in three “modes” (a false doctrine referred to as “modalism”).  The three members of the Trinity of God have eternally existed, as co-equal persons, sharing in the same essence in nature and will.

If the word “trinity,” is nowhere to be found in our Bibles then what is the basis for this doctrine?  Good question!  Foundational is the clear teaching there is but one God.  Deuteronomy 6:4 speaks to this, “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one” (Cf. 1 Timothy 2:5).  But the Bible also teaches the Father is God (John 6:27; Romans 1:7); and the Son is God (John 1:1, 14; Romans 9:5; Hebrews 1:8); and the Holy Spirit is God (Acts 5:3-4; 1 Corinthians 3:16).

There are numerous examples in Scripture where we find all three members of the Godhead harmoniously working to accomplish mighty deeds: creation (Genesis 1:1; Colossians 1:16; Job 26:13); the incarnation (Luke 1:35); Jesus’ baptism (Matthew 3:16-17); atonement (Hebrews 9:14); the resurrection of Christ (Acts 2:32; John 10:17-18; Romans 1:4); the salvation of the believer in Christ (Ephesians 1:3-14; 1 Peter 1:2); the indwelling of the Spirit (John 14:16-17). 

Both texts in today’s reading speak to the “three-in-oneness” which exists within the Godhead. Before His ascension, Jesus told the disciples, “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 28:19). The word “name” is singular in the Greek, indicating there is one God. Then Jesus spoke of the three distinct persons within the Godhead.  This “three-in-oneness” is reflected again in 2 Corinthians 13:14.

There are some who scoff at this doctrine.  As A.W. Tozer observed: “Some persons who reject all they cannot explain have denied that God is a Trinity.  Subjecting the Most High to their cold, level-eyed scrutiny, they conclude that it is impossible that He could be both One and Three.  These forget that their whole life is enshrouded in mystery.  They fail to consider that any real explanation of even the simplest phenomenon in nature lies hidden in obscurity and can no more be explained than can the mystery of the Godhead” (A. W. Tozer, “The Knowledge of the Holy”).  I say, “Praise God that we worship a God whose thoughts and ways infinitely transcend our own!” (Cf. Isaiah 55:8-9).

“Praise God, from whom all blessings flow;

Praise Him, all creatures here below;

Praise Him above, ye heav’nly host;

Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.

Amen.”

January 7

Our Creator Cares

Bible Reading: Psalm 121

This Psalm is one of a group of fifteen Psalms referred to as the “Songs of Ascents.”  It is thought these songs were sung by the people ascending to Jerusalem during the three annual festival processions.  It is also possible these songs were sung by pilgrims who were thus journeying on their way.

With that thought in mind, it would be somewhat difficult for us to relate to the traveler of those days.  Most  likely traveling by foot, any lengthy trip would be filled with all kinds of challenges and hazards.  Provision for food, water and shelter would be necessary, no McDonalds along the way!  The very real threat of robbers lurking in the hills would be a concern. There’d be no one to call in case of injury or illness or attack. 

Was he looking to the hills in concern—the hills would provide cover for vagabonds who might attack?  Or, if he was on his way to Jerusalem, was he looking to the hills in anticipation of his arrival to the great city—Jerusalem was hidden amongst those hills.  

Psalmist speaks of our need for help.  He writes, “I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come?  My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth.”

The hills were places where pagan worship often took place.  The Psalmist is explaining he does not look to the hills for help, but to the God who made the heavens and earth!  But let’s face it, who doesn’t need help from time to time?  We humans are needy creatures.  We have spiritual needs, physical needs, and emotional needs.  We have needs for food, clothing, and shelter.  Needs arise out of unexpected challenges and our own poor choices.  Sometimes our needs are easily remedied.  Other times our needs lie so deep within, onlyGod alone can see and address them.

The Psalmist knew where to look for help.  He looked to the One powerful enough to create all things.  The One who is powerful enough to resolve our greatest problems.  The God who loved us enough to send His Own Son to die for us.  He cares about our  our smallest concerns.  The birds of the air neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, but Our creator God feeds them.  He is well able to take care of you too!

We’d do well to follow the Psalmists example.  Where do you go in your times of trouble?  There are plenty of options.  We sometimes anxiously focus our attention on the problem, or the need.  Other times, we look to others for their help and counsel. There’s nothing wrong with that unless it serves as a substitute for trusting in God.  I’m reminded of Ezra’s return with the exiles from Babylon to Jerusalem.  King Artaxerxes would have provided soldiers and horsemen to protect the group along the way.  But Ezra didn’t ask, since he had told the King, “The hand of our god is for good on all who seek him, and the power of his wrath is against all who forsake him” (Ezra 8:22).  So, Ezra and the people fasted and prayed and journeyed safely, as Ezra recounted: “The hand of our God was on us, and he delivered us from the hand of the enemy and ambushes by the way” (Ezra 8:31). You’re in good hands in God’s hands.

Heavenly Father.  How prone we are to trust in men to resolve our troubles when it’s you whom we should trust in every detail of our lives.  You made us–who could know us better?  Your power is on display in the universe You created–who could possibly be more able and equipped to come to our aid?  You’ve amazed us by the love You’ve shown to us through Your Son Jesus!  If you didn’t spare your Own Son, but gave Him up for us, why should we doubt your ability to come to our aid?  Thank you for loving us and watching over us!  We look to you!  Amen.

January 6

The Cause and The Cure

Bible Reading: Romans 1:16-32

If such a thing were possible, I’ve long wondered what it’d be like to instantly time-transport some average 1960s vintage American citizen from their day to ours.  Undoubtedly, they’d be surprised by the advancements in technology.  But I sense they would be even more shocked and grieved at the decline in morality and civility.  Has there ever been a time, in our lifetimes, of greater distress and uncertainty?  Some of this is because of Covid, but there’s more to it than that.  What is the cause of the morass in which we find ourselves?  Is there a cure?  Today’s reading speaks to these important questions.

The passage speaks to a downward spiral which starts in one place and ends up in another.  I think it’s going to help us to start at the ending of this text and retrace our steps.  As we shall see, this will relate the entire matter back to the course of study we’ve been traveling these past days.

Romans 1:29-32 includes a long-list of sinful attitudes and behaviors.  It’s an ugly list.  A list of things which are all too apparent in our present day society.  A couple of things stand out.  Not only are these folks engaged in evil, they became inventors of evil (looking for new ways to express the evil bound up inside).  Not only did they practice such things, they became ambassadors of evil, cheering on those who join in.

In retracing our steps, what brought them to this point?  Notice the threefold repetition of the phrase, “God gave them up” (1:24, 26, 28).  “God gave them up: in the lusts of their hearts to impurity; to dishonorable passions; to a debased mind.”  Without God’s restraint, their depraved hearts and darkened minds were freed to engage in all kinds of evil behaviors.

Again, taking a step back from that vantage point, we must ask the tragic question, “Why did God give them up?”  The answer is found in verse 18, where we find the “wrath of God is (present tense) revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth.”  Inasmuch as men are suppressing the truth in unrighteousness, God, in His wrath, has given them up.

But in what way are they suppressing the truth?  Verses 19-23 explain.  Though God, through His creation, has revealed both Himself and something about Himself, they refused to honor Him as God, or give thanks.  In fact, instead of worshiping their Creator God, they are predisposed in their futile and foolish thinking, to worship anything BUT Him.  This is the rejection which leads to ruin.  Sadly the truth of this passage is being played out before our very eyes in the days in which we live.

Yet we praise God!  There is a way to escape this pathway to ruin.  Sin is the cause, Romans 1:16 identifies the cure, indeed the only cure for all that ails us!  Romans 1:16, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes.”  The good news for those who travel the broad way is this, the same powerful God who created all things has a gospel message which is powerful to save.  Jesus died for our sins and rose from the dead so that we would be saved by grace through faith in Him.  He alone can rescue!  Sin is the cause.  Christ’s the cure!

Heavenly Father.  There was a time when I walked in denial of what was plain to see, you are the Creator of all.  My stupid sinful choices led me down a prodigal path full of burdens and loss.  Thank you Lord for making the truth of the gospel known to me and rescuing me!  These are distressing times in which we live.  People need You!  Give us a powerful testimony, compassionate hearts with Spirit empowered wisdom and boldness—to be used by you in making the gospel known to the world.

January 5

Knowing God

Bible Reading: Psalm 19

Some forty years ago, when I was serving as a submariner aboard the USS Omaha and stationed in Pearl Harbor, I received a gift in the mail.  It was a book entitled, “Knowing God,” written by J. I. Packer.  My Uncle Bob Emrich sent it to me.  Included was his note, “Jerry…Believing the most important thing about a man is his thinking about God, I hope this will be profitable for you.  With love and prayers for a Merry Christmas, Bob.”  Indeed, the book was profitable, but the note even more so—because it put into my mind an important thought which God used to change me.

Bob’s statement was true—but how are we to know God?  At the time, I didn’t know much of anything about God.  I had no idea how to grow in my understanding of the nature of God.  Theologians speak of God’s revelation to man in two different categories: general revelation and special revelation.  Today’s Bible reading in Psalm 19 speaks of both.  By means of general revelation God reveals something of Himself and His nature to all men through His created order.  Special revelation is God’s manifestation of Himself to individual persons, enabling them to enter into a redemptive relationship with Him.

In Psalm 19:1-6 we read how God communicates truth regarding Himself through His creation.  David, the Psalmist, sees the stars, moon, and sun and declares the “heavens declare the glory of God” (19:1).  Though these created things don’t literally speak, there is a sense in which their voice is heard throughout the earth (19:4).  The Apostle Paul said much the same when he wrote of how “God’s invisible attributes, namely His eternal power and divine nature” are revealed to us through God’s creation (Romans 1:20).  As good and necessary as general revelation is, it still lacks power by itself to lead a person into a saving knowledge of God in Jesus.

Psalm 19:7-11 speaks to the special revelation unveiled to us in the Word of God.  David makes six bold statements regarding the Word in which He highlights the preeminent value of the Word when it comes to knowing God.  The Word alone has the capacity to revive the soul, make wise the simple, rejoice the heart, and enlighten the eyes.  In the progress of revelation, we begin to understand the Word has the capacity, through the gospel message, to lead us to salvation.  Having been born of the Spirit with life from above, we are thereafter Spirit indwelt to understand truths which had previously eluded us (Cf. 1 Corinthians 2:12-16).

How privileged we are as believers in Christ!  We have ready access to the Scriptures.  We are indwelt by the Divine Teacher (Cf. 1 John 2:27).  In the subject of knowing God, we’ve an inexhaustible course of study, which can change our thinking and how we live—to the glory of God!

Heavenly Father. How privileged and blessed we are to know You through the saving work of Jesus! You’ve privileged us to possess Your Word, which has worked through the centuries to lead countless multitudes to know You, and then to grow in their knowledge of You through its truth! You’ve indwelt us with the best of Teachers, who instructs us that Your truth might be applied to the deepest parts of our being. Grant that we will grow in Christlike maturity and always long for truth, as we yearn to know You better. Amen.

“More about Jesus let me learn

More of His Holy will discern

Spirit of God, my teacher be

Showing the things of Christ to me.”

January 4

He Has Made Them All

Bible Reading: Psalm 104

“Oh Lord, how many are your works

In wisdom thou hast made them all

The earth is full of thy possessions

There is the sea, great and broad

In which are swarms without number

Animals, both great and small

Oh Lord, thou hast made them all.”

As a newly saved believer some forty years ago, how precious these words were to me. I remember when I went to a Christian bookstore and bought an Amy Grant cassette tape. I played that tape over and over again. The words above are from one of those songs, aptly entitled, “Psalm 104.”

In hindsight, listening to that particular song was more valuable to me then I knew. Music and songs minister straight to the heart!  I had lived my life oblivious to the obvious—God created me and the universe in which I lived.  But in bringing life to my sin-dead soul, God was at work to change my thinking.  Of course He used His Word to accomplish that.

We humans didn’t crawl out of a swamp. Green skinned aliens didn’t deposit us here on this planet. There is a God and He’s not dead. He is the creator and sustainer of all things. His creation bears witness to the awesome greatness of His wisdom and power.

The Psalmist knew this and traced all things back to the hand which made them: the heavens and the earth; the sun and the moon, the day and the night; the mountains and the valleys; the springs which give drink to the beasts and wild donkeys; the birds in the sky which sing among the branches of the tree; the grass that feeds the livestock and the plants to provide food for man; the creatures in the sea.  He was well aware of the intricacies of God’s creative order and providential care of everything He has made.  Even the lowly rock badger found a place in the Psalmist’s hymn of praise.  He praised God for it all and rejoiced in it.  And in so doing he set a good example for us all.  Foundational to our right thinking about God is to acknowledge Him as our creator, to worship Him for all He has accomplished.

Creator God.  Your creation speaks to the greatness of Your Power and Wisdom.  Forgive me.  I’m sometimes too busy, or distracted to pay attention…to thank You for all You’ve done.  Grant that I might have the heart of the Psalmist who was so ready to praise you and rejoice in You.  Help me to look for you and see the beauty of all You’ve made.  Amen.

If you have internet access, there is a wonderful YouTube video and song by Brian Doerksen which speaks to today’s theme.  You can access it at the following address: https://youtu.be/28sqs5H5hao

January 3

The Great Pandemic

Bible Reading: Genesis chapter 3

By now we’ve all become well versed in pandemic matters. We know, for example, that Covid is highly transmissible and can be deadly. We know about social distancing, mask wearing, and vaccines. Sadly we all likely know someone who has had Covid or maybe even someone who has died from it. We should all take appropriate precautions to minimize our risk, but there’s another pandemic which is even more “transmissible.” It has a 100% mortality rate. We read about it in Genesis 3.

Contrary to God’s explicit command and despite His dire warning of the deadly consequences, the woman having been devil-deceived, partook of the forbidden fruit. Then she gave to her husband, and he ate also. They had experienced intimate fellowship with God and had been well provisioned in an idyllic paradise. But all of that would suddenly and radically change. Their eyes were opened, and they realized they were naked. They sewed fig leaves together to make themselves loincloths—mankind’s first attempt to rectify the effects of his lost condition according to his own wisdom and by his own self efforts. In desperate fear, they hid from God. Spiritual death had entered into man’s existence. Physical death would likewise come soon enough (see Genesis chapters 4 and 5).

God declared a curse: on the serpent, on the woman, on Adam, and on the earth itself.  Our predecessors could hardly have imagined the tragic and far-reaching consequences of their sin, for their sin unleashed a sin contagion upon all of humanity.  Romans 5:12 explains: “Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned.”  There you have it.  The transmission rate for sin = 100% (all sinned).  Likewise, the mortality rate for sin = 100% (death spread to all men). We are all born into this world with a nature to sin, deserving of death (Romans 3:23, 623).

There’s good news amidst the bad in this sad account. In cursing the serpent, God spoke of One who would come from the woman who would render a fatal wound to the serpent. This promise looked forward through the centuries to the incarnation of God’s Own Son who, through His own death, would destroy the devil (Hebrews 2:14). God was faithful to that promise! In spite of the man and woman’s tragic choice, and by way of contrast to their ill devised fig leaf clothing scheme, God Himself clothed Adam and Eve with garments of skin (Genesis 3:20-21). Those garments, provided by way of animal sacrifice, were prophetic of the sacrifice of the Lamb of God on a cross for sins. God’s truth, righteousness, and justice were all demonstrated in the judgment He bestowed, his love, grace, and mercy were likewise revealed in His provision for Adam and Eve. Though God is unchanging in His nature, He remains who He is no matter what we do, His interaction with fallen humanity gives opportunity for us to behold His attributes in ways we’d otherwise be unable to see.

Heavenly Father. Who can measure the loss, pain, and sorrow that was unleashed on that fateful day when sin entered into the world! And to this day we live in a broken world that groans under the weight of sin’s corruption. Help us to weigh our choices according to the tragic consequences suffered by our forebears. Thank you, Lord, that in your righteous judgment on our forebears, you also made promise of a future redeemer. In the majesty of your grace and mercy we find hope. In this broken world, may we be ever thankful for your provision of a Savior, who bore the weight of humanity’s sin and sorrow. Amen.