Nothing Too Difficult

Behold, I am the Lord , the God of all flesh: is there any thing too hard for me?
Jeremiah 32:27 KJV

God does not get overwhelmed. This comforting truth calmed my soul as I prayed the other day. At the time, there were several people I knew who needed a special touch from God. Some needed healing, some grace, some strength, some wisdom. They all needed something I could not give but I knew God could.

We as humans can be bombarded to the point where we feel crushed, we feel weighted down, we feel pressed in on all sides. When everything in life seems to be out of our control, we tend to begin to feel out of control ourselves.

But not God. Nothing is too hard for God. He is always in control. He always knows what has happened, what is happening, and what will happen. He knows. And He can handle it.

God does not get overwhelmed.

Furthermore, God does not get overwhelmed as we bombard him with our questions, our needs, our wants, and our cries. No matter what we bring to Him, and no matter how much we bring it, God does not get overwhelmed. He has the whole world on His shoulders and in His hands. He hears you, He hears me, He hears the baby, He hears the child, He hears the one at the beginning of the journey and the one at the end. God hears all, knows all, and sees all–yet God is never overwhelmed. It is never too much for God; it is never too hard for God

Why? Because God is God not man. This means we cannot and should not ascribe to Him the limitations of man. The gods of the heathens are ones they created. Those gods are limited; those gods are powerless. Those gods are not God. Yet our God is God. He is real. He is eternal. He is immortal. He is invincible. He is all and is in all. And most importantly: He created us, not we Him.

Therefore as a fellow child of God–a limited, human child of God–I encourage you in this truth: God does not get overwhelmed.

Whatever it is you are facing today–whatever mountain or mountain range looms before of you–remember God is more than able and more than enough. He can move that mountain. He can handle your pleas. He can handle it all.

Because He is God.

And God does not get overwhelmed.

Advertisements

His Word

Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger;
James 1:19 ESV

as it is written: “None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.” – Romans 3:10‭-‬12 ESV

for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
Romans 3:23 ESV

And when he had removed him, he raised up David to be their king, of whom he testified and said, ‘I have found in David the son of Jesse a man after my heart, who will do all my will.’
Acts 13:22 ESV

Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit.
Psalms 51:10‭-‬12 ESV

Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 3:12‭-‬14 ESV

I messed up. I said (well, actually texted) something I shouldn’t have. And although my intent was not to hurt the recipient, I did. Guilt. Sorrow. Frustration. Those inevitable self-deprecating thoughts immediately began to plague my thought life.

But I stopped them. I arrested them. I took them captive. I followed the instructions found in 2 Corinthians 10: For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ (2 Corinthians 10:4‭-‬5 ESV)

And as I meditated on the passages above from God’s Word, my thoughts began to shift. My countenance began to change. The burden began to lift. No, I couldn’t change what had occurred, but through the power of God and His Word, I was able to get back up and keep moving forward.

It was actually this morning as I woke up still free from the burden of guilt God reminded me of the key to victorious living: His Word. In 2 Timothy we read the following: All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work (2 Timothy 3:16‭-‬17 ESV). Psalm 119:11 reads, I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you. Hebrews 4:12 reads  For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.

God’s Word is indeed powerful. Its power was evident last night in those initial moments of recognizing my own selfish frailty. For as I confessed my sins (knowing according to 1 John 1:9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness) God began to flood my mind with His Word. The verses listed at the beginning of this post are just some of those passages God’s Holy Spirit brought to mind. Each one played a part in enabling me to get back up, dust myself off, and to keep moving forward.

No, none of the above verses justifies my sin. But they do cleanse me. They do remind me who I am and whose I am.

And this is why I write all this to you today. I want to remind you God’s Word is powerful. God’s Word is life. None of us is perfect, but God’s Word is. So read it. Meditate on it. Memorize it. Daily dwell in His Presence and in His Word. No, you will not achieve perfection, but you will be whole. You will be able to get back up after you fall and keep moving forward. You will be victorious knowing “…he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world” (1 John 4:4). For The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple; the precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes; the fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever; the rules of the Lord are true, and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, even much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and drippings of the honeycomb. Moreover, by them is your servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward (Psalms 19:7‭-‬11 ESV)

God Is Not Reasonable

Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one…. Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.
James 1:13‭, ‬16‭-‬17 ESV

I don’t know–three words our pride hates to admit and our curiosity hates to hear. From a young age, we as humans are always asking “why.” Why do I have to do that? Why did she have to say that? Why did this happen? Why didn’t that happen? Why, why, why. We always want to know the why behind it all.

Yet here’s something very important we need to remember: we will never fully understand the why.

Really. There will be more times than not when we will not understand the whys and hows of our lives.

And that’s okay.

Really. It is perfectly acceptable and I daresay expected for us not to have all the answers.

Why? (haha!)

Because God is not reasonable. No, I’m not saying he’s unreasonable; God is extremely reasonable. He’s not cantankerous in the least. What I am saying is that God and His ways will always be beyond our understanding, beyond our reasoning, and beyond our whys.

Because God is God, and we are not.

Really.

Yes, I know life would be much easier if we knew the reasons for everything that has and will happen in our lives. I’d love to know why that person is sick. I’d love to know why that father of five lost his job. I’d love to know why that child had to die. I’d love to know… well, I’d love to know it all.

But I don’t.

Because I am not God.

And I hate to burst your bubble, but neither are you.

So if none of us is God, then none of us will ever know the answers to all the questions in our lives.

And that’s okay.

Really.

We don’t need to know all the answers to the whys and hows because we know the Who who does.

Read Isaiah 55:8-9.

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord . For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.

God is God. We are not. This means God’s ways are not and cannot be reasonable to us. So we need to stop trying to explain our inexplicable God using human reasoning. It won’t work.

And I daresay it’s sin. How? Well, when we try to explain away the ways of an inexplicable God, we are robbing Him of His sovereignty and omniscience. We are stripping Him of His Godhead.

And that’s sin. God does not create evil. God will not lie. God is not man that He will justify evil for the sake of good. God is God. We are not.

So no, I cannot explain today why you got sick. No, I cannot give you a good reason why that accident happened. And no, I certainly won’t minimize the death of your loved one by attaching human reasoning to an unreasonable situation.

Sure, I wish I could explain why. I wish I could explain how. I wish I could put my arm around you this very moment and give you the perfect reason for everything going on in your life and in the lives of those you love. But I can’t. So I won’t.

Yet here’s what I do know: God. God is God. God is good. And God’s ways and reasons will never be reasonable to our finite minds. Never.

And that’s okay.

I am not sure what you are going through today. I am not sure what wall stands before you. I am not sure what sickness plagues your household. But of one thing I am sure: You are not alone. God has always been and always will be right by your side. Even when you don’t understand. And I daresay especially when you don’t understand.

For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Romans 8:38‭-‬39 ESV

 

Rainbows Require Rain

And God said, “This is the sign of the covenant that I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for all future generations: I have set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and the earth. When I bring clouds over the earth and the bow is seen in the clouds, I will remember my covenant that is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh. And the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh.
Genesis 9:12‭-‬15 ESV

The rainbow. We often call it God’s Promise. For God used the rainbow to promise Noah He’d never flood the earth again–He used the rainbow as a sign of His faithfulness. And from the young child to the one advanced in years, the sight of a rainbow is always uplifting and exciting. Whether we are in the car, at work, or at home, we tend to pause and gaze in wonder when we see a rainbow in the sky.

Yet recently as I read a selection about rainbows in the Abeka reader Adventures in Nature, God reminded me there is much more to the rainbow than meets the eye. Here is an excerpt from the selection:

…A rainbow is caused by the effect of sun shining on rain.  When the sun peeks out from between the clouds after a shower, the rainbow appears in the sky opposite the sun…the drop of water acts as a tiny prism….If there are enough raindrops for prisms, we see a gorgeous rainbow!…Raindrops must be large for a large and brilliant rainbow.  The larger the raindrops, the more brilliant the rainbow.

So what causes a rainbow to appear? Well, first, the rain must come.  No rain; no rainbow.  Second, the sun must shine on that rain.  Rainbows do not appear where there is no sun.  Third, it is the rain that acts as the reflector.   The rays of the sun are always shining, but it takes the raindrops to reflect and to refract that light to form the rainbow.  And finally, the bigger the raindrop, the bigger the rainbow.  A light rain reveals a light rainbow; a heavy rain deepens and intensifies the rainbow.

Now let’s apply that to life.  Do you want to see a rainbow–a rainbow with deep, brilliant hues that causes others to pause in awe?  Well, first, you need two things:  the sun and the rain.  The sun is God–His presence, His Word, His power, His salvation.  God is light, and in Him is no darkness.  Then there is the rain–the struggles, the storms, the temptations of this life.  Now I’m sure if we were honest, we would admit it is the rain we do not like.  Oh how wonderful life would be if we could find a way to have a rainbow without the rain–to have the promise without the precipitation!

But that is not possible.  Rain is necessary. Clouds are necessary. Rainbows don’t appear when all is sunny; they appear with the rain.

Yet there’s more to rainbows than just sun and rain. And it also applies to our lives. First of all, we don’t see rainbows when the rain is completely gone. Often there are still clouds and still sprinkles. Sometimes it’s still raining where we are but the sun in the distance provides the promise that it will be ending soon. So with our lives–the storms may not be completely over at the sight of God’s promise.  But God’s promise  is that it will end soon; God’s promise is that no storm will last forever. The sun will shine; the rainbow will appear. And when the rainbow is gone, it’s because the sun fully shines again. So also the storm you are in is not forever; the sun will shine fully again.

Another applicable aspect of rainbows are the raindrops. Raindrops are the prisms.   It’s not the sun that reflects itself; it’s the rain that reflects the sun.  No rain; no rainbow.  Lots of rain; a large rainbow.   Big raindrops; a brilliant rainbow.  The greater the storm, the more amazing the rainbow will appear afterwards. And so it is with our lives. When the rain begins to pour, we must allow the raindrops to reflect the Son. We must remember that the bigger the drops pelting us, the greater His glory in the end. God can and will use the worst storms of your life to produce the most brilliant rainbows.

If you let Him shine.

God is the light. And He wants to shine on the raindrops in your life. He not only wants to shine on them; He wants to shine through them. He wants to reveal the rainbow–the picture of His promise to never let you go.

I am not sure where you are today. You may be glancing up at blue skies and enjoying the full heat of the sun upon your face. Or you may be looking out the window, waiting for the storm to pass–seeking and searching for the Sun–trying to find the any sign of a rainbow. Regardless of where you are today, you can find hope in the promise of the rainbow. You can know just as the sun is always shining even when the clouds block our view, God is always shining even when the storms of life seem to block our view. As the rain pours down, you can know and trust that God’s light is just on the other side of those clouds. You can know and trust God’s light will soon break through those clouds and produce the most glorious rainbow that you and those around you have ever seen.

God never ceases to shine, my friend. And the rain does not last forever. So remember today that if you never saw a storm, you would never see a rainbow. So look up. Look for the Sun. Face the rain. And as you do you will soon see God’s light shining on that storm, reflecting through the raindrops, and producing the most glorious rainbow of God’s faithfulness.

Yes, the rain will come. But take heart, rainbows require rain.

 

Keep Marching On

So when the people set out from their tents to pass over the Jordan with the priests bearing the ark of the covenant before the people, and as soon as those bearing the ark had come as far as the Jordan, and the feet of the priests bearing the ark were dipped in the brink of the water (now the Jordan overflows all its banks throughout the time of harvest), the waters coming down from above stood and rose up in a heap very far away, at Adam, the city that is beside Zarethan, and those flowing down toward the Sea of the Arabah, the Salt Sea, were completely cut off. And the people passed over opposite Jericho. – Joshua 3:14‭-‬16

I noticed something as I read this passage this morning. The priests had to get their feet wet. It was not until they stepped foot in the waters that God stopped the waters. And the water God stopped was not a simple stream or a bubbling brook; it was the Jordan River at flood stage.

Have you ever seen a stream or river at flood stage? It is a very intimidating sight. And it can be very dangerous endeavor to be close to it as well. We are often told never to attempt to pass through water that is overflowing from the banks of a river. For that water is often very strong and very unpredictable. People have lost their lives attempting to cross flooded roads.

Yet in the case of the Israelites, God not only called the Israelites to get close to the flooded waters; He called them to dip their feet into it. He called them to trust in His ability to stop even the most raging river.

And so too we must trust Him with the raging rivers in our lives. We must trust in God’s ability to stop the waters. Yet we must also understand that sometimes God does not act when our feet are dry; sometimes He waits until we dip our feet in. Sometimes God calls us to do it afraid–to not only walk toward the waters but also to stick our feet in the waters.

And as we do–as we walk in faith into the waters of uncertainty, we will see God move in a mighty way. We will see God make a way where there was no way. We will see God calm the waters and stop the waters. We will see God’s Amazing Grace as we walk to the other side on dry ground.

So keep moving forward today. Keep trusting that God will bring you to the other side. Keep believing that you will see the goodness of God in the land of the living. And keep knowing that you know that you know that not even a raging river could keep you from what God has promised you. For with God all things are possible–all things–including overcoming whatever waters may be in your way.

When Life’s Not Fair

For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. 
Romans 8:18‭ ESV

Day after day we see good people suffer for the choices of the evil. Someone decides to drive a car through a group of unsuspecting pedestrians. Someone chooses to run a red light at the moment someone else is innocently passing through the green.  Someone who chooses to drive under the influence of drugs or alcohol then crashes into the vehicle of the one obeying the rules of the road. One spouse adheres to the marriage vows while the other chooses the fleeting pleasures of sin. Or as we heard about yesterday, someone who does not love the Lord chooses to take the lives of those who do.

It doesn’t seem fair when bad things happen to good people–when one person’s choice to do wrong impacts those who chose to do right.

It doesn’t seem fair…

…because it’s not fair.

It will never be fair.

There is nothing I nor anybody else can say that could possibly make it fair. The senseless loss of 26 lives is not fair. The senseless loss of even one life is not fair.

But we are not to live our lives based on what’s fair. We are to live our lives by what’s right. We are to live our lives knowing that both good and evil “will receive their reward.” We are to live our lives knowing God’s economy is based on eternity. The true riches will be in the life to come.

God doesn’t promise an earthly life free from suffering; He promises an Eternity free from it. Our hope and our happiness and our joy cannot and should not be based on the events of this life; our hope and our happiness and our joy must be based on the life to come. So even when life on this earth isn’t fair–even when senseless acts of violence attempt to instill a sense of fear and plague us with doubts–we must remember God is still God. We must remember even when this life is not fair, God is. He is always fair. He is always just. Yet His fairness and justice extend beyond human expectations and limitations. God’s fairness and justice are based on God’s character. And God is Holy. And God is eternal. Therefore His fairness is not limited to the world we live in now; His fairness is based on the world to come.

This life is not fair. It will never be fair. Bad things will continue to happen to good people. Yet what we must remember is through it all God remains the same. God is still God. God is still good. And God will never leave nor forsake His children.

Therefore, no matter what happens today or in the days to come–whether things go your way or things go awry–I encourage you to remember that God never changes. I encourage you to remember that God’s economy is eternal. I encourage you to keep doing right, to keep praising God, and to keep knowing that you know that God’s love is and always will be greater than man’s evil. Remember this day that nothing–not even death–could ever separate you from the love of God found in Christ Jesus.

What then shall we say to these things–to these unfair, evil things that continue to happen day after day? What then shall we say to those people whose poor choices negatively impact those who have been chosing right?

We speak the Truth–God’s Truth:

If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Romans 8:31‭-‬39 ESV

 

 

Right is Right

And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, “This is the way, walk in it,” when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left.
Isaiah 30:21 ESV

Have you ever been in the following situation: You know that you know that you know that you made the right choice. You began something new or stayed the course or made a life-changing decision, and at the time of the decision, you were fully confident that is what God wanted you to do.  You knew you heard that still small voice telling you the way to go. But as time marched on things went awry. What you thought was going to be the best decision of your life ended up appearing to be one of the worst. You suddenly found yourself walking through that valley of unexpected and unwanted events. So you began to question. Did you really hear from God about that decision? Did you really make the right choice? If you made the right choice, then why are you here now?

Well, as I was praying for a friend the other day who is walking through a valley she never anticipated nor would have chosen, God spoke to me something I believe we all need to remember: the negative events of today do not necessarily mean we chose poorly in days prior. Yes, sometimes the bad things of today are a result of the poor choices from the days before, but sometimes the suffering we go through today isn’t based on our choices at all; it’s based on the choices of others. In other words, people’s poor choices today do not negate the right choices you made yesterday.  You were supposed to take that job, but that co-worker was not supposed to steal from the company. You were supposed to move, but that neighbor was not supposed to act that way. You were supposed to marry that spouse, but that spouse was not supposed to have an affair. Whatever choice you made in full faith that God told you to make it, will always be the right choice even if others around you make the poor choices. God does not hold us accountable for the choices of others; He holds us accountable for what He calls us to do.

Although I wish I could give you a specific scripture regarding this truth, all that comes to mind this morning is a list of examples throughout the Bible. Abraham always followed God’s leading, but things didn’t always go his way because he journeyed through lands filled with people who did not follow God’s path. Moses follow God’s leading, but still had to wander through the desert because of the poor choices of those he was leading. Jesus lived perfectly yet still suffered at the hands of sinners. We live in a fallen world. We do not always make the right decisions, and those around us do not always make the right decisions. But I want to encourage you today that when you make the right decisions, if things do not turn out the way you expect they should, do not let Satan make you doubt your original decision. Trust God throughout the journey,  whether that journey is good or bad. Trust that when it comes to the end of your life, God is not going to judge you on the decisions of those around you; He’s going to judge you on the decisions He called you to make–the way He called you to walk.  As Jesus once told Peter as Peter questioned the path God had for another disciple: “If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow me!”(John 21:22 ESV).

Follow God today. And trust Him with tomorrow. And if today is not the day you expected, do not doubt yesterday. Believe. Believe the right you choose will remain right regardless of the wrongs that may come. For He who calls you is faithful–always faithful. “… He will never allow the righteous to be shaken (slip, fall, fail) (Psalms 55:22 (AMP).

 

Anchored in Hope. Anchored in Him.

We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain,
Hebrews 6:19 ESV

Anchors. They are extremely useful to boaters, for they secure the vessel to the bottom–to the foundation. Winds may blow, currents may flow, but a boat anchored will remain in place.

In the above passage, the writer of Hebrews mentions “this” as the anchor, the hope, for the believer. What is the “this”?  I believe it is God and His promises. Read with me the verses preceding the above verse:

For when God made a promise to Abraham, since he had no one greater by whom to swear, he swore by himself, saying, “Surely I will bless you and multiply you.” And thus Abraham, having patiently waited, obtained the promise. For people swear by something greater than themselves, and in all their disputes an oath is final for confirmation. So when God desired to show more convincingly to the heirs of the promise the unchangeable character of his purpose, he guaranteed it with an oath, so that by two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us.
Hebrews 6:13‭-‬18 ESV

We can take God’s promises to the bank. For He cannot lie. What God has promised will surely come to pass. This is what kept the prophets of old steadfast and immovable; and it is what should anchor us as well.  When we are anchored in Christ Jesus–anchored in hope–anchored in the knowledge He  who promised is faithful–winds may blow, the waves may smash against us, and the current may be strong, but we will not be moved.

A person anchored in hope cannot be moved.

Even more, a person anchored in hope enters and remains in God’s presence. Look at Hebrews 6:19b-20:  a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain, where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf, having become a high priest forever after the order of Melchizedek.

In the Old Testament times, only the high priest could go behind the inner curtain into the Holy of Holies–and even that was permitted only once a year. But Jesus tore down that curtain. Jesus opened up the way for all of us to enter God’s presence when He paid the price for our sins once and for all. This means our hope not only secures us from the storms, but also it anchors us in His Presence. When we have Jesus–God’s greatest Promise fulfilled–as our hope. When we walk in full assurance all God’s promises find their yes in Him. Then we are not only secured by His Presence, but we are sheltered by His Presence as well. God with us anchors us.

If we allow him to.

So I encourage you today to hold fast to your confession of faith, to anchor yourself in the hope that is found only in Christ Jesus. He is our hope. He is our anchor. And even though an anchor does not prevent the storms from coming, the waves from crashing, and the winds from blowing, being anchored in Christ Jesus will keep you secure. It will keep you from being blown away. It will keep you from being blown to and fro.

So hold fast to your confession of faith. Hold fast to the anchor of hope. Hold fast to the One who cannot be moved. Hold fast. And know this:  He who cannot be moved will keep you secure. Because He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it (1 Thessalonians 5:24).

 

Jesus Knows

Then Jesus, knowing all that would happen to him, came forward and said to them,
“Whom do you seek?”
John 18:4 ESV

Questions.   We typically associate them with uncertainty.  We don’t know the way, so we ask directions.  We don’t know the reason, so we ask why.  We don’t know the answer, so we ask for it.

Yet Jesus did not ask questions because He did not know; He asked because He knew. Jesus knew exactly what the soldiers were coming to the Garden of Gethsemane to do. Jesus knew exactly who they were looking for. Yet He still asked them, “Whom do you seek?” In fact, he actually asked them twice. He then waited for them to say His name before submitting Himself to their custody.  Once they declared “Jesus of Nazareth” as the one they sought, Jesus in turn responded with “I am he” (John 18:5-8).

Jesus knew before He ever entered the Garden what events were about to unfold. He knew what the soldiers and priests were there to do.  Yet He still asked the question.  He did not ask because He did not know; He asked so they could know. He knew they were going to arrest him. Yet He waited until they spoke it themselves.

And in that simple response–I am He–Jesus conveyed His purpose–His destiny–His reason for coming to earth.  There in the Garden, when faced with the choice to choose life or to choose death, Jesus chose His death for our life.  He could have run.  He could have lied.  He could have fought.  But He didn’t.  He just asked the question He already knew the answer to, and then waited for the response.

First Corinthians reminds us “in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive” (15:22).  And it was as I read the above account in John 18 God reminded me of the other famous garden account: the Garden of Eden. This account, however, is the one that led to death, not life. Adam may have thought he was choosing life when he ate of the forbidden fruit, yet in reality he chose death–a choice he didn’t begin to fully realize until he heard God coming. When God entered the Garden and did not see Adam out and about, He asked the question, “Where are you?” God knew where Adam was.  He knew what Adam had done.  Nevertheless, I believe, God asked the question because He wanted Adam to know what he’d done. He wanted Adam to admit the choice he’d made.

God always knows. Always.  He knows our questions before we ask them; He knows the answers before we seek them. He knows.  And He also always knows the answers to the questions He asks before He asks them.  God’s questions aren’t for His benefit; they are for ours.

Throughout His time on earth, Jesus asked countless questions. Typically, whenever people approached Him Jesus would ask a question. He’d often ask what they wanted–even though He knew fully what they wanted–and more importantly what they needed.  He never asked for His sake; He asked for the sake of those who could hear Him. Even now, God’s questions aren’t for His sake; they are for ours.  He asks so we can know. He asks so we can see. He asks so we can hear. He asks because He knows–and because we don’t.

So I encourage you in two ways today. First of all, do not be afraid to ask God those tough questions you may have.  Not only can He handle them, but He can help you answer them as well.  He knows every word that proceeds from your mouth before you ever speak it (Psalm 139:4). Your questions will never catch Him off guard; but they will always bring Him near.

And then secondly, always be diligent in answering God’s questions. For God’s questions are your answers–even when you are not seeking them. God doesn’t ask questions for His sake; He asks them for yours. Even if the answer hurts, the temporary pain pales in comparison to the eternal benefits of following God’s direction.

Therefore, I leave you with this today: God knows.  He knows it all. So whether you are the one asking or the one being asked, be at peace; for God knows.

Go Therefore

And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
Matthew 28:18‭-‬20 ESV

The Great Commission. We’ve heard about it. We’ve read about it. We’ve committed to do it. Yet as my pastor read this passage to us in his message on discipleship, I noticed something I hadn’t focused on before. It’s always been there, but I guess I never really paid attention to it.

What is it? The reason Jesus gives that we are to “go therefore.” As I’ve shared before, the purpose of a “therefore” is to tie what is about to be spoken to what was just stated, for what was just stated is the reason for what is about to be spoken.

In the passage above, before Jesus commanded the disciples (and ultimately us) to go, He gave the reason they could and should go: All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.  In other words, because all authority is His–because God is powerful–because God is sovereign–because God is more than able–we are to go. We are not to go because we can; we are to go because He can. It’s by His authority and His presence we can go and we can grow. He even reminds us at the end of the commission He will always be with us. This means we can go and make disciples because He is God and He is always with us.

As my pastor shared, making disciples does not happen by simply standing on a street corner preaching Jesus; that’s evangelism. And evangelism is necessary, for evangelism brings people to Jesus. Discipleship, however, is the next step; discipleship helps believers grow in their relationship with God. As followers of Christ, we are to preach the Word; yet we must not neglect discipleship. We must allow God-with-us (Immanuel) to disciple through us.

How, you ask? How are you supposed to make disciples when you feel so unqualified? When your life seems so imperfect?  Well, we make disciples when we walk this journey called life arm in arm with each other. The “older” children of God walk alongside the “younger,” growing and learning together. Neither is perfect, but the God they both aspire to serve is. We make disciples when we are the hands and feet of Jesus reaching out and walking alongside our fellow followers.

But we must remember an important point: none of us is qualified. Seriously, no one in and of themselves is truly qualified to disciple. Think about it. Hands and feet cannot act without the brain telling them what to do. Likewise, we in and of ourselves are not qualified to disciple. To try to lead others on our own equates to a blind man trying to lead another blind man through a room neither has ever been; both will stumble.

The only way to make disciples is to be a disciple of the One who controls it all–to be a follower of Jesus and allowing God in you to guide you in your walk with Him and in your walk with others.

I am not sure where you are today in your walk with Jesus. Nevertheless, whether you are new to the faith or “an old-timer,” God calls you to go and make disciples. But you are not to go in your own strength; you are to go in His.

I urge you then, my friend, go. Go therefore into the world today and make disciples as you walk hand-in-hand with your fellow believers. Do not go thinking you can or cannot based on your own qualifications, for none of us is qualified on our own. God is the one who qualifies the called. And He has called you. So go. Go knowing God can–knowing God is more than able.  Go therefore knowing “all authority in heaven and on earth has been given” to Jesus and Jesus is “with you always, to the end of the age.” 

Go.