The dictionary defines still as not moving or making a sound; deep silence and calm.
To be still then can mean not moving, and being quiet.
However, from a biblical perspective, to be still takes on much greater meaning.
The word still is a translation of the Hebrew word rapa, meaning “to slacken, let down, or cease.”, to let go, surrender.
To be still means to stop frantic activity. The meaning would be best understood to say “cause yourself to become restrained or to let go”. For Christians being “still” would involve looking to the Lord for their help. In other words, we need to come to a place where we are willing to submit ourselves to God and acknowledge that He is in sovereign control.
Exodus 14:13 (NKJV)13 And Moses said to the people, "Do not be afraid. Stand still, and see the salvation of the LORD, which He will accomplish for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall see again no more forever.
This command—“be still”—forces us to realize that we are finite, and that God is infinite, that He’s in control, He’s sovereign over our lives, He’s Lord of heaven and earth.
Romans 14:11 (NKJV) For it is written: "As I live, says the LORD, Every knee shall bow to Me, And every tongue shall confess to God."
Being still doesn’t mean that there won't be trouble. It is remembering that He promised to never leave or forsake us.
Deuteronomy 31:6 (NKJV) Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid of them; for the LORD your God, He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you."
Romans 15:4 (NKJV) For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope.
In a Bible study that I led we talked about creating a “God-space”.
Matthew 6:5-6 (NLT)5 “When you pray, don’t be like the hypocrites who love to pray publicly on street corners and in the synagogues where everyone can see them. I tell you the truth, that is all the reward they will ever get.6 But when you pray, go away by yourself, shut the door behind you, and pray to your Father in private. Then your Father, who sees everything, will reward you.
I don’t think that Jesus was talking about a literal closet but a place where it was just you and God. It could be a literal closet, or a place in your home where it is quiet with no major distractions from outside you, But it doesn’t have to be a literal place if you are able to “create space in which God can act.” That’s a God-space, a place to be still
Psalms 46:10 NKJV Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!
The word exalted means being lifted up or honored. The next verse says that we can be still because God is our refuge.
Psalm 46:11 (NKJV) The LORD of hosts is with us; The God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah
That means that God is our shelter from danger or trouble. A place to be still.
Jesus told the multitudes;
Matthew 11:28-30 (NKJV)28 Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.29 Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.30 For My yoke is easy and My burden is light."
by Sarah Jennings Phillips
Be still and know that I am God. (Ps. 46: 10)
The affairs of God are accomplished little by little and almost imperceptibly. The Spirit of God is neither violent nor hasty. -- St Vincent de Paul
If you're American, you're probably busy right now. We're a country filled with activity. Studies show we're some of the most sleep-deprived people in the world. We work long hours, come home to more work (completed with the television blathering on in the background) before collapsing into bed to repeat the process again the next day.
Why do we live such frantic, hyper stimulated lives? Sometimes it's out of a sense of obligation - we feel it's a sin to say "no" so we overextend ourselves trying to fill the roll of Savior for everyone around us. Sometimes our frenzied lives stem from a sense of inadequacy - "If I work hard and accomplish such-and-such, I will have value." Sometimes it's a mode of escape - burying ourselves in work or in a TV program keeps our minds off life's disappointments. And sometimes we've just lost sight of our priorities, defaulting to the heightened pace of the culture around us, unaware that we've let our down time slip away little by little.
Regardless of why we're living in the fast (and loud) lane, deep down we all know we need to get out of it. Our souls crave peace, stillness, and silence. And even if we can ignore the cries of our souls for awhile, our bodies demand it when they eventually wear out.
Why do we crave that stillness? It seems the "noise" of life is more often man-made than God-ordained. In Scripture we see that time and again, God calls us to find peace in Him, to lighten our burden with Him, to set aside our anxieties and meaningless business. We see God speak to the prophet Elijah through a "gentle whisper" and tell an anxious Martha that her sister Mary chose the "better" part when she abandoned household duties to sit at Jesus' feet. (Luke 10: 41-42)
After a long day of running here and there, you may find yourself longing to be peaceful Mary whose only job is to be with Christ. So how can we become more like Mary when the vast majority of us more closely resemble worried Martha? I love the opening Scripture verse -- it's so simple, it cuts through all the junk clanking around in my brain. Be still.
In the midst of the activity surrounding her, Mary made a simple choice. To sit and be still. You and I can make that simple choice too, even when life seems to be pressing on all sides. It may be awkward at first - we may be tempted to grab for the remote or cut our time with God short. But by seeking stillness we are effectively saying, "Nothing else is as important to me as You at this moment, Lord."
A skewed view of God shuts down our prayers, but relating to God as He actually is fosters freedom and confidence in prayer.
Think of a friend that you have gotten to know over the years. Was there ever a something that puzzled you or put you off but you now understand. For example when you first met them they seemed aloof and like they didn’t want to be bothered with you only to find out later that they were very shy. Or talking about a party you were planning for family member and they changed the subject or didn’t want to help you only to find out later that they lost a child through an accident. Now that you know these things your relationship with them has gotten better because your view of them has changed.
I can be the same with God. Our perceptions or misperceptions affect our conversations with with Him. I preached a sermon, last year, about how important is to be open and honest with God (read “Stop Faking It” here). But who wants to risk being open unless we are sure that He will accept us warts and all, no matter our condition. When we have a clear view of who God is we will become more free and confident in prayer. Upgrading our views of God to match His true character is essential if we are to develop a real relationship with Him.
We all know certain truths about God:
Head Beliefs vs. Heart Beliefs
These truths are good basic theology. However, we often have another set of beliefs about God that we hold almost subconsciously. We don’t consciously think thiem, much less say them aloud. Nevertheless these thoughts are there deep in our subconscious. The lady who wrote the book “Prayer Begins with Relationship”, Cynthia Hyle Bezek, calls these two set of beliefs “head” beliefs and “heart” belief. Head beliefs are what we say we believe, and heart beliefs are the perceptions that actually shape our feelings and reactions to circumstances and our relationship with God.
For example you may believe in your head that God will protect you and provide for you and not let any real harm come to you. But when the doctor says,”we need to do a second test just to rule out cancer”, or when you lose a job, or face foreclosure, that belief of protection may not be the one you operate on. A misperception about God may take over and shake you whether you say it or not. You may operate on the belief that God is really allowing you to suffer to develop something in your character, or He’s disciplining you for something.
These heart beliefs may come from anywhere like a negative experience with a boss, a parent, or even a church leader. Those heart beliefs are usually not entirely wrong but twisted just enough to create a barrier to approaching God as He really is.
Here are some perceptions that we often have of God.
If your perception of God is that He’s an enforcer, or the strong silent type, of just wants to teach you a lesson, you may not tell anybody that’s what you think about God, you may not want to say it to yourself, because you know what the Bible says about God being love, and never leaving you alone, your relationship is based on His grace and not your performance. But you still somehow have this heart belief. Your relationship will be affected by these views of God so when you pray and have your conversations with God they become more stuffy and formal rather than real and open. Sometimes you may not talk to Him at all.
If you thought of God as a friend you would be more open about how you really feel. I finally admitted that I was worried and that I was viewing what was going on as a lesson, and that God was never satisfied with me, and He was an enforcer and angry because I wasn’t more trusting and aware of His faithfulness and love for me.
We need to change that heart belief to a head belief, something that we say we believe.
Here are some characteristics that are true about God and that enable us to talk freely and openly with Him. Truths which we should want to regularly experience as you pray.
You Have to Know God to Know How to Talk to Him
By Rick Warren
“For the Lord is always good. He is always loving and kind, and his faithfulness goes on and on to each succeeding generation”(Psalm 100:5 TLB).
Don’t you hate it when people call you on the phone and don’t identify themselves? They just jump right in as soon as you answer, assuming you know who it is. When you don’t know if it’s the pope or the pizza guy on the other end, it affects your conversation a lot. You don’t know what tone to use. You’re a little more guarded.
Even when you’re talking with someone in person, if you don’t know much about that person, you tend to be more formal. I can always tell when people I run into around town are a part of Saddleback Church because they’ll say, “Hey, Pastor Rick, how’s it going?” But when someone says, “Hello, Reverend Warren,” it’s clear they know who I am but not that much about me.
Proximity and relationship determine how you talk to somebody. What you know about somebody determines your conversation with that person.
The same is true with God. Your understanding of what God is really like shapes everything else in your life, including your prayer life.
A lot of people have misconceptions about God. Some people think he’s a grumpy god, who’s cranky and upset all the time, and they think they can never please him. Some people picture the “crouching tiger” god, who is ready to pounce on them when they make the wrong move. Some people have the flaky father god, who’s moody and changes his mind continually about them.
Some people think of God as the cosmic cop, whose goal is just to make sure you keep the rules, or the dictator god, who’s never satisfied and always demanding more and more and more. And some people have what I call the Play-Doh god and just make him into any form they want.
Ever heard somebody say, “I like to think of God as . . .”? Well, I’m sorry, but it doesn’t really matter what you think God is like. It matters what the Bible says he is!
A. W. Tozer wrote, “What comes to your mind when you think about God is the most important thing about you, because it affects everything else in your life.”
It’s important that you know the real God. If you have a misconception about him, then prayer is going to be a duty and drudgery. God doesn’t want you to pray out of guilt! He wants you to talk to him because you love him. And you will love him more as you get to know him better through his Word.
Four unique forms of love are found in the Bible. They are communicated through four Greek words: Eros, Storge, Philia, and Agape.
Eros is the Greek word for sensual or romantic love. The term originated from the mythological Greek god of love, sexual desire, physical attraction, and physical love, Eros, whose Roman counterpart was Cupid. Even though the term eros is not found in the Old Testament, Song of Solomon vividly portrays the passion of erotic love. The Bible's prohibition of sex outside of marriage necessarily limits erotic love to married couples.
Storge is a term for love in the Bible that you may not be familiar with. This Greek word describes family love, the affectionate bond that develops naturally between parents and children, and brothers and sisters. An interesting compound word using storge, "philostorgos," is found in Romans 12:10, which commands believers to "be devoted" to one another with brotherly affection.
Romans 12:10 NKJV Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another;
Philia is the type of intimate love in the Bible that most Christians practice toward each other. This Greek term describes the powerful emotional bond seen in deep friendships.Philia is the most general type of love in Scripture, encompassing love for fellow humans, care, respect, and compassion for people in need. The concept of brotherly love that unites believers is unique to Christianity. Jesus said philia would identify His followers:
John 13:34-35 NKJV A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”
Agape is the highest of the four types of love in the Bible. This term defines God's immeasurable, incomparable love for humankind. It is the divine love that comes from God. Agape love is perfect, unconditional, sacrificial, and pure.Jesus Christ demonstrated this kind of divine love to his Father and to all humanity in the way he lived and died. Following his resurrection, Jesus asked the apostle Peter if he loved him (agape). Peter replied three times that he did, but the word he used was phileo or brotherly love. Peter had not yet received the Holy Spirit at Pentecost; he was incapable of agape love. But after Pentecost, Peter was so full of God's love that he spoke from his heart and 3,000 people were converted.
How does agape express itself?
Paul gives us an excellent description:
1 Corinthians 13:4-8 EASY If I love, I will be patient. I will be kind. I will not want to be like other people so much that I get angry with them. I will not tell people how good I am. I will not think that I am better than other people. If I love, I will always be polite. I will think about what other people want. I will not think only about what I myself want. I will not get angry quickly. And I will not always be remembering the wrong things that other people have done to me. If I love, I will not be happy about bad things. But instead, I will be happy about things that are right and true. If I really love people, I will never stop loving them. It will not matter what happens. Whatever things may happen, I will still continue to love. If I love, then, during all things, I will still continue to believe. If I love, then, during all things, I will still continue to hope for good things. If I love then, during all things, I will still continue to be patient and strong. If I love, that will never come to an end. But it is different for all those gifts that God has given to us. The time will come when we do not need them any longer. People will stop telling messages from God. They will stop speaking in special languages. The many things that people know will finish.
God loves with agape, the love described in 1 Corinthians 13. He loves you so much that He sent His Son to die on the cross for you, that you might have everlasting life. His love is not based on performance. Christ loves you so much that while you were yet a sinner, He died for you.
Romans 5:8 NKJVBut God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
God's Love Is Unconditional
God's love for you is unconditional and undeserved. He loves you in spite of your disobedience, your weakness, your sin and your selfishness. He loves you enough to provide a way to abundant, eternal life. From the cross Christ cried out, "Father, forgive them for they know not what they are doing." If God loved those who are sinners that much, can you imagine how much He loves you -- His child through faith in Christ and who seeks to please Him?
Why Doesn't God Reject Sinners? - Daily Hope with Rick Warren - October 10, 2018
”[God] will not constantly accuse us, nor remain angry forever. He does not punish us for all our sins; he does not deal harshly with us, as we deserve . . . The LORD is like a father to his children, tender and compassionate to those who fear him” (Psalm 103:9-10, 13 NLT).
The Bible says there is no condemnation for our sin once we place our faith in Jesus, but it does not say there are no consequences. Every time you disobey God, you hurt yourself and you hurt other people. You lose your fellowship with Christ. You lose your effectiveness and joy here on Earth. You lose rewards in heaven.
But you do not lose your salvation. Why is that? Why doesn’t God just kick us out when we blow it? Why doesn’t God reject believers when we sin?
God’s love is unconditional.
God doesn’t say, “I love you if” or “I love you because”—just “I love you . . . period!” God will never stop loving you, because you are a recipient of his grace.
Lamentations 3:22 says, “[God’s] compassion never ends. It is only the Lord’s mercies that have kept us from complete destruction” (TLB).
Your salvation isn’t based on your performance.
The Bible says, “He saved us, not because of the righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy” (Titus 3:5 NLT). You can’t earn your way into heaven, buy your way into heaven, work your way to heaven, or bluff your way to heaven. The only way you ever have any hope of getting into heaven is by the grace of God.
Jesus has already taken your punishment.
The law of double jeopardy in our criminal justice system says you cannot be tried for the same crime twice. That’s true in God’s book, too. People are not punished for the same crime or the same sin twice.
Two thousand years ago, Jesus stretched his arms out on the cross and took the punishment for your sin. He served your term. The price is paid in full—all you have to do is accept the gift of forgiveness and salvation that he offers!
Jesus understands your human weaknesses.
God is sympathetic and understanding. He knows your frailties, your faults, and how you’re wired. And he is patient with you.
“This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin” (Hebrews 4:15). Jesus lived in human flesh for 33 years, so he understands your weaknesses.
God doesn’t keep grudges.
The Bible says, “[God] will not constantly accuse us, nor remain angry forever. He does not punish us for all our sins; he does not deal harshly with us, as we deserve. . . . The Lord is like a father to his children, tender and compassionate to those who fear him” (Psalm 103:9-10, 13 NLT). If you are a believer, God is not angry with you. Why? Because all of the punishment was taken on the cross.
You may be thinking, “You don’t know how far I’ve fallen. You don’t know what I’ve done.” No, I don’t. But God does. If you think you’ve strayed too far from God, this is what God says to you: “Come back to me, you unfaithful children, and I will forgive you for being unfaithful” (Jeremiah 3:22 NCV).
Mark 16:14-20 NIV Later Jesus appeared to the Eleven as they were eating; he rebuked them for their lack of faith and their stubborn refusal to believe those who had seen him after he had risen. He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. And these signs will accompany those who believe: In my name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up snakes with their hands; and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all; they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well.” After the Lord Jesus had spoken to them, he was taken up into heaven and he sat at the right hand of God. Then the disciples went out and preached everywhere, and the Lord worked with them and confirmed his word by the signs that accompanied it.
Many Christians use this scripture as evidence that all Christians are able to “drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up snakes with their hands; and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all; they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well.”, but is that really true. Let’s take a look at the context of the scripture and what followed after Jesus was taken up into heaven.
The "them" is referring to the apostles, therefore, there is no evidence that all believers can do what the apostles did. What did occur is the word was first preached and the signs and wonders followed to validate the new leadership for the Church. In much the same way Jesus’ miracles were to validate his person and message.
Signs and wonders were to follow those who believe, not the believer following after the signs.
Acts 14:1-3 NIV At Iconium Paul and Barnabas went as usual into the Jewish synagogue. There they spoke so effectively that a great number of Jews and Greeks believed. But the Jews who refused to believe stirred up the other Gentiles and poisoned their minds against the brothers. So Paul and Barnabas spent considerable time there, speaking boldly for the Lord, who confirmed the message of his grace by enabling them to perform signs and wonders (emphasis mine).
Signs and wonders, miracles are not for the Christians who already believe, they accompanied the Gospel and were done in the presence of the unbelievers to have them believe in the message. If we look at the book of Acts who was it that took up a serpent? (not on purpose) Paul an apostle. Who laid hands on the sick? The apostles. This was never a normal occurrence for everyone who was a Christian. It's not that we can't pray for the sick today, we can. And the Lord may use whoever he may wish to today (The Holy Spirit has given some, not all, the Spiritual Gift of Healing). If signs and wonders were to follow all who believe how could one tell who the apostles were. There would be no distinction in leadership. The very reason for the signs and miracles were to appoint the apostles as a governing leadership over Gods new entity the Church. This was not entrusted into everyone's hands that believe but those who were hand picked and spent time with Jesus. Those who were to dispense the new teaching of Jesus God used and validated by working through them signs and miracles like Jesus.
Acts 2:42-43 NIV They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles (emphasis mine).
Acts 5:12 NIV The apostles performed many signs and wonders among the people. And all the believers used to meet together in Solomon’s Colonnade. (emphasis mine)
If you are strong in faith you don't need signs and wonders to know that the Father cares for you. You don’t need to be further convinced of God by the exhibiting of power. We don't need signs and wonders to prove that He exists or that He hears our prayers.
Romans 10:17-18 NIV Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ.
Without seeing any evidence of supernatural manifestations, we can believe because God has granted us grace to believe based upon the testimony of His Word.
Signs And Wonders Attract, Love Reaches
John 13:34-35 NIV “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
What's the difference between attracting and reaching?
To attract is cause to come to a place or participate by offering something of interest, favorable conditions, or opportunities. To reach is to stretch out in order to touch or grasp something.
God has a strange way of reaching the world. There was a guy who followed and served Jesus for two decades. But one morning he woke up and realized he did not really believe any of it. He prayed for things that God never gave. He asked to hear God’s voice, but never heard a sound. He asked to see God, but never did. So he framed a blank piece of paper and set it on his desk, telling God to write something on it if he was real. Until then, he would live as an atheist. To this day, that paper is blank. Wouldn’t God be wise do one of these things for every living person, so that no one could deny his reality?
Jesus says, “No. I will show myself in a different way.” Perhaps he knew better. After three years of undeniable miracles, people still put him to death. He also knew the story of Israel, how it only took a few months after the miracles of the Exodus for them to bow down before idols. Miracles simply aren’t as convincing as we think. But real-life love between friends, spouses and a community is deeply convincing (especially when that love transcends socio-economic, ethnic and national borders).
This is, perhaps, why Jesus said he would convince the world not through miracles, but through our love.
As missionaries who reach their neighbors and co-workers by loving each other well? When people see and hear our love, they will finally ask: what empowers you to love so strangely? When we answer, “Jesus,” we might just convince someone.
I know a lot of people,and you may be one, who say that you should never question God. After all He’s omniscient, omnipresent, omnipotent, and eternal. He’s sovereign and can do whatever He wants whenever He wants. (However there are some things that He can't do. Read my post “There Are Some Things That God Can’t Do”). But I haven't found anywhere in scripture where God says that we shouldn't or can't ask Him questions.
Questioning doesn't mean doubting.
Isaiah 1:18 (NLT2) “Come now, let’s settle this,” says the LORD. “Though your sins are like scarlet, I will make them as white as snow. Though they are red like crimson, I will make them as white as wool.
In fact there are a number of places, in scripture, where people ask God questions and sometimes they ask for proof. Let me be clear I’m talking about questioning not doubting.
When we question God, we aren't saying that we don't believe due to our limitation, we are saying I want more information. I wrote and published a post several years ago where I said that doubt doesn't equally unbelief (Faith vs. Doubt The Battle of Our Lives). It's OK to question God as long as our motivation is not about us. It's about God. We don't question God to say we think he is making the wrong decision. We are questioning God to help us understand. We are asking God for more details and a clearer direction.
Deuteronomy 29:29 NIV The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may follow all the words of this law.
When we do question God we can let him know we are frustrated and upset. Even David cried out to God with anger.
Psalm 22:1-2 NIV My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, so far from my cries of anguish? My God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer, by night, but I find no rest.
We can tell God what we like and don't like about the situation. We can even tell him we are afraid. But bottom-line, in it all we have to come to that place of trust. God chooses to reveal what he wants, when he wants. Asking God keeps us in a balanced relationship with God, whereas doubting keeps things one-way.
A feeling of uncertainty or lack of conviction. Depending on your maturity in Christ, we can often doubt God. We might question what he is doing in our lives. We see things happen around us and we can get so blinded by the enemy. We don't see how God is going to help us out of the situation. We simply settle on man's best vs. God's best. Because God doesn't work on our timetable we give up, losing our trust in him.
When we doubt, we become very self-focused. You forget how God has come through in so many other situations in your life, or how he is going to come through in the future. We doubt God when we truly do not believe who he says he is and what he is. We have to learn to trust God, to be obedient, no matter what. Please understand, if God has appointed you, he has then anointed you; he will equip you and always provide. This is God's process with his children, his heirs. Because of this truth, we have no need to ever doubt. Doubt comes from the enemy, not from God, whereas questioning can be from God.
I'm not talking about those times we are asking for guidance or permission like David and others Kings asking if they should attack their enemies and if they did if He would guarantee victory. I'm talking about questioning one of God’s decisions of asking for proof the He really meant what He said.
Gideon asked for proof and he asked twice.
Judges 6:13, 15-15, 17-18, 36-40 NIV “Pardon me, my Lord,” Gideon replied, “but if the Lord is with us, why has all this happened to us? Where are all his wonders that our ancestors told us about when they said, ‘Did not the Lord bring us up out of Egypt?’ But now the Lord has abandoned us and given us into the hand of Midian.” “Pardon me, my Lord,” Gideon replied, “but how can I save Israel? My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my family.” Gideon replied, “If now I have found favor in your eyes, give me a sign that it is really you talking to me. Please do not go away until I come back and bring my offering and set it before you.” And the Lord said, “I will wait until you return.” Gideon said to God, “If you will save Israel by my hand as you have promised— look, I will place a wool fleece on the threshing floor. If there is dew only on the fleece and all the ground is dry, then I will know that you will save Israel by my hand, as you said.” And that is what happened. Gideon rose early the next day; he squeezed the fleece and wrung out the dew—a bowlful of water. Then Gideon said to God, “Do not be angry with me. Let me make just one more request. Allow me one more test with the fleece, but this time make the fleece dry and let the ground be covered with dew.” That night God did so. Only the fleece was dry; all the ground was covered with dew.
Jeremiah questioned God.
Jeremiah 15:15-18 NIV Lord , you understand; remember me and care for me. Avenge me on my persecutors. You are long-suffering—do not take me away; think of how I suffer reproach for your sake. When your words came, I ate them; they were my joy and my heart’s delight, for I bear your name, Lord God Almighty. I never sat in the company of revelers, never made merry with them; I sat alone because your hand was on me and you had filled me with indignation. Why is my pain unending and my wound grievous and incurable? You are to me like a deceptive brook, like a spring that fails.
Jeremiah 20:7-8 NIV You deceived me, Lord , and I was deceived ; you overpowered me and prevailed. I am ridiculed all day long; everyone mocks me. Whenever I speak, I cry out proclaiming violence and destruction. So the word of the Lord has brought me insult and reproach all day long.
Habakkuk questioned God.
Habakkuk 1:2-3 NIV How long, Lord , must I call for help, but you do not listen? Or cry out to you, “Violence!” but you do not save? Why do you make me look at injustice? Why do you tolerate wrongdoing? Destruction and violence are before me; there is strife, and conflict abounds.
The problem is many people often question God with a rebellious untrusting heart not truly trying to get an answer from the Him.
They try to attack the character of God because God allowed something to happen. Attacking God’s character is dangerously close to blasphemy.
We can’t see the future so we don’t know what God has planned for our lives, and we can't see the things He’s doing behind the scenes. Sometimes we might say, “why God” and later find out the reason that God did this and that.
It’s one thing to ask God why and another thing to doubt His goodness and His existence. In confusing situations pray for wisdom and expect an answer.
James 1:5 (NLT2) If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking.
Give God thanks daily and trust in the Lord with all your heart because He knows what He’s doing.
Proverbs 3:5-6 NIV Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.
It all goes back to motive. If it’s because we are trying to delay obedience to the Lord, if it is coming from a prideful heart that says, 'I know better than God,' if we question God's authority, those are the wrong motives.
If, however, we question because we desperately want to know the answer, because we desperately want to know who our Lord truly is, because we need to see the light in the midst of our own confusion, those are right motives.
There’s a significant difference between questioning that brings wisdom and a fuller understanding of God and the kind of questioning that simply seeks to validate your own thinking.
Was He Really a Doubting Thomas?
By Greg Laurie
Thomas, one of Jesus' disciples, had the nickname Doubting Thomas, but I think that is a bit unfair. I have always thought of Thomas as more of a skeptic than a doubter. After all, Thomas did not ask for a special revelation from Jesus. He simply asked for the same proof the other disciples had (see John 20:25). Thomas was the kind of guy who wanted to know for himself. He was his own man. He would not let others do his thinking for him.
What did Jesus do with such a man? He made a special resurrection appearance for him. He condescended to Thomas and his desire to know for himself. What amazes me about this is that Jesus came to Thomas on his level. He didn't rebuke him. He didn't humiliate him. He could see that deep down in Thomas's heart, he really wanted to know God. Jesus came to him and said, "Reach your finger here, and look at My hands; and reach your hand here, and put it into My side. Do not be unbelieving, but believing" (John 20:27).
I like Thomas, because by nature I, too, am a skeptical person. I have never been one to believe something just because someone says it is true.
You might be someone who is a bit skeptical, a bit unsure of your faith. You may have a lot of questions. Deep down inside, you want to know God. You want to know for yourself. The risen Lord has something for you. He can turn your skepticism into belief.
Just come to Him with your questions. Come to Him with your doubts. You, too, will be able to say, "My Lord and my God!"
Taken from "New Knowledge for the Skeptic" by Harvest Ministries (used by permission).
God Is Omnipresent
Man is limited by a physical body, and can be only in one place at any one time. God, however, is spirit and can be everywhere in the universe at the same time. This attribute, is also related to His unlimited power to act and to know. God is present everywhere in the sense that everything everywhere is in His presence - He can see, know, and act in all places at once.
Psalm 139:7-10 (NKJV)7 Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence?8 If I ascend into heaven, You are there; If I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there.9 If I take the wings of the morning, And dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,10 Even there Your hand shall lead me, And Your right hand shall hold me.
God Is Omniscient
If God has the power to do whatever He chooses to do, it makes sense that He also has unlimited knowledge and wisdom.
Psalm 147:4-5 (NKJV)4 He counts the number of the stars; He calls them all by name.5 Great is our Lord, and mighty in power; His understanding is infinite.
God Is Omnipotent
Man and other created beings have limited power over other created things. Only God has unlimited power over all creation. Absolutely nothing is impossible for Him.
Job 42:1-2 (NKJV) Then Job answered the LORD and said:2 "I know that You can do everything, And that no purpose of Yours can be withheld from You.
God Is Sovereign
God is in control of all things, including human decisions.
Psalms 135:6 (NKJV) Whatever the Lord pleases He does, In heaven and in earth, In the seas and in all deep places.
Ephesians 1:11-12 (NKJV) In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will, that we who first trusted in Christ should be to the praise of His glory.
But There Are Some Things That God Can't Do
These attributes of God show us that He is Almighty God and can do anything that He wants to do, anywhere and anytime. God is also, good, holy, faithful, loving, just, patient, and righteous, and since these things make up God’s character there are some things He can’t do. What????
Maisie Sparks believes in the omnipotence of God, yet she has come up with a list of 101 things God cannot do, including lie, forsake his own, despise a contrite heart, allow anything to separate us from his love, or let our prayers go unanswered.
Here are 20 of those things from her book 101 Things God Can’t Do.
20 Things God Can't Do
It is because God is unable to do these things, that we can do all things through Christ.
“That by two immutable things in which it was impossible for God to lie, we might have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us.” – Hebrews 6:18
Can’t Leave You
“And, behold I am with thee, and will keep thee in all places whither thou goest, and will bring thee again into this land; for I will not leave thee, until I have done that which I have spoken to thee of.” – Genesis 28:15
Can’t Forsake You
“I will never leave you, nor forsake you.” – Hebrews 13:5
Can’t Despise a Broken Heart
“The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and contrite hear, O God thou wilt not despise” – Psalm 51:17
“Behold, He that keepeth Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep.” – Psalm 121:4
Can’t Stop Loving You
“I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee.” – Jeremiah 31:3
Can’t Go Unnoticed
“The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork.” – Psalm 19:1
Can’t Bear Sin
“But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear.” – Isaiah 59:2
Can’t Leave Work Unfinished
“Being confident of this very thing, that He which begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.” – Philippians 1:6
Can’t Forget You
“Can a woman forget her suckling child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? Yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee.”- Isaiah 49:15
Can’t Get Tired
“The everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary…” – Isaiah 40:28
Can’t Make Losers
“Now thanks be unto God, which always causes us to triumph in Christ.- 2 Corinthians 2:14
Can’t Be Silenced
“Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.” – Matthew 24:35
Can’t Be Imperfect
“Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.” – Matthew 5:48
Can’t Be Second
“Thou shalt have no other gods before me.” – Exodus 20:3
Can’t Be Divided
“I and my Father are one.” – John 10:30
" I am the Lord. I do not change." - Malachi 3:6
Can't Be Destroyed
“Thy kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and thy dominion endureth throughout all generations.” – Psalm 145:13
Can’t Break a Promise
“My covenant will I not break, nor alter the thing that is gone out of my lips” – Psalm 89:34
Can’t Be Selfish
“He that spareth not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?” – Romans 8:32
What kind of worldview do you have?
As the word itself suggests, a worldview is an overall view of the world. It’s not a physical view of the world, but rather a philosophical view, an all-encompassing perspective on everything that exists and matters to us.
A person’s worldview represents his most fundamental beliefs and assumptions about the universe. It reflects how we answer all the “big questions” of human existence: fundamental questions about who and what we are, where we came from, why we’re here, where (if anywhere) we’re headed, the meaning and purpose of life, the nature of the afterlife, and what counts as a good life here and now.
A Christian worldview is a comprehensive view of the world from a biblical standpoint. A Christian’s view of the world is comprised of a number of distinct, biblical elements. The Christian filters their day through a biblical/spiritual prism and sees the world as a harmonious set of beliefs and perspectives.
Romans 2:12 NIV All who sin apart from the law will also perish apart from the law, and all who sin under the law will be judged by the law.
God established human government and the rule of law primarily to keep in check man’s sinful nature and passions.
Romans 13:1-5 NIV Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and you will be commended. For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also as a matter of conscience.
Romans 13:1-7 NIV Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and you will be commended. For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also as a matter of conscience. This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, who give their full time to governing. Give to everyone what you owe them: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor.
1 Peter 2:13-17 NIV Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human authority: whether to the emperor, as the supreme authority, or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right. For it is God’s will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish people. Live as free people, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as God’s slaves. Show proper respect to everyone, love the family of believers, fear God, honor the emperor.
Christianity also believes in the depravity of man and his moral responsibility. Therefore, government is a necessary institution. However, government has limited obligations, not totalitarian powers.
The Secular Worldview is a comprehensive view of the world from a materialistic, naturalistic standpoint. The Secular Humanist sees no place for the supernatural or immaterial. There is no place in the Humanist worldview for either immortality or God in the valid meanings of those terms. Humanism contends that instead of the gods creating the cosmos, the cosmos, in the individualized form of human beings giving rein to their imagination, created the gods.
Your View Of God Shapes How You View The World
Editor’s Note:. The following article, 8 Misconceptions About God That Are Holding You Back written by Wesley Baines was originally published on beliefnet.com. Bold emphasis mine.
Christianity is the largest religion on the planet in terms of believers. It’s also one of the most misunderstood—even by its own adherents.
The truth is that Christianity has changed a lot since Jesus walked the earth, and not all of that change has been positive. Between people and God have come obscuring layers of tradition, misinformation, ignorance, and wishful thinking, making it difficult for anyone—believers and non-believers alike—to find out who God is anymore.
This is a huge problem. Christianity purports to teach believers how to live a moral life, and how to go about making our world the best place it can be. When we misunderstand the character of God, both missions can become seriously warped.
And with Christianity having 2.2 billion adherents, this warped view stands to do some serious damage—when you don’t truly know what scripture says about God, you can justify just about anything in the name of Christianity.
That’s a scary thought.
But there’s an answer to this: a close, educated, and careful reading of scripture will begin to reveal what has been obscured. Reading each verse with the context in mind—who is speaking, who is being spoken to, and what historical environment they’re in—will go a long way toward helping you find the truth of God’s character.
“God supports my political party.”
It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking God backs one political party or another, but this type of thinking is in error. God is not a Republican. God is not a Democrat. God is God.
Each of our human political parties is deeply flawed, and neither can live up to God’s standards. Blind loyalty to one party or another, because you believe that God backs that party, will result in blind devotion to that party’s leaders.
But instead of thinking in terms of party loyalty when it comes to electing candidates, why not think in terms of loyalty to God? Closely examine the worldview of each candidate, and vote according to which most closely aligns with the goodness of God.
Remember—the two most important of God’s commands are to love Him, and to love one another. All too often, we forget that second command in favor of the first when we vote.
Don’t let that happen. God supports no political parties—He supports righteousness and love. Vote
“There’s no way God exists in a world full of suffering.”
There’s no doubt that it’s difficult to reconcile the existence of a loving, all-powerful God with the reality of suffering and evil. Why wouldn’t God stop the Holocaust? Why doesn’t He heal children who have cancer? Why do natural disasters kill innocent people?
If God was really all-powerful and loving, wouldn’t He stop these things from happening?
This is the question that eats at the heart of many Christians, holding them back from a close relationship with God. Fortunately, there’s an answer to be had, and it lies in two words.
God didn’t allow the temptation of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil in the Garden of Eden just so that the first humans could bring about the fall of creation. In the tree, He gave them a gift: choice.
Adam and Eve were free to choose God’s rule or their own. And despite the consequences, they chose their own rule.
God gives every creation that same free will—we can choose to live by His commands, which are meant to make the world as lovely and livable as possible. Or we can choose to live selfishly.
Consider this. Imagine a world where God stopped all sin. The moment you think about taking your sibling’s pencil, the thought disappears. Someone tries to jaywalk, only to be stopped by an invisible wall. A married man finds his eyes on another woman, and simply disappears.
Further, imagine that God changes your very mind in this world, forcing you to love and adore Him.
You wouldn’t be very free, would you? You’d be a slave.
God doesn’t make slaves, and so because we have free will and live in a fallen world as a result of our choices, bad things happen. God still loves us, and because of that love, He doesn’t try to control us.
“I can’t believe in both science and God.”
The belief that rational thought and religion don’t belong in the same room is one of the great errors of our time, and is a misconception that’s probably holding you back in more ways than one.
Consider this. God created all the universe, placed the stars and planets in their orbits, and laid down the physical laws which make it all go round. These laws of nature are constant, observable, and usable by us humans.
God made things this way for a purpose.
Remember Genesis 1:28? It features God telling the first humans to “fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”
God invites us to not only be on the earth, but to “subdue” and “rule” it. And you can’t subdue and rule what you don’t know.
That’s where science comes in. The goal of the scientist isn’t to disprove God, but to reveal natural truth—to reveal the way our universe works so that we can explore it and take advantage of its properties.
Because all truth belongs to God, the findings of science are not a threat to Christianity, but an ally—science simply reveals more and more of God’s creation.
“God is like us.”
We like to anthropomorphize God, ascribing human behavior, feelings, and thoughts to Him, but this is a grave mistake that can keep you from fully knowing God.
The truth is that although we are made in God’s image, God is not like us. He does not think like us, feel like us, or behave like us. This is because God is transcendent, immanent, omnipotent, and all-powerful.
To be transcendent is to exist apart from the limitations of reality—God is beyond space and time. To be immanent is to be within all things, pervading and sustaining the universe. To be omnipotent is to be aware of all things. To be all-powerful is to be able to act in any way.
Still sound human to you?
God is perfectly loving, perfectly just, and perfectly good in ways we cannot understand in this life—His motivations are not human motivations, and so it’s not helpful to understand Him in this way. To do so diminishes God in our minds, and may move us to question His edicts in the same way we might question the edits of a human leader.
Realize just how different God really is, though, and you’ll find faith far easier to come by.
God wants to ruin my fun.”
How many of us have been out at a party, enjoying the embrace of a loved one, or just relaxing during some free time, only to feel a pang of divine guilt. We’re having fun, and so we must be doing something wrong, right?
Not so fast. The idea that God is anti-fun holds many Christians back from full, satisfying lives.
It’s true that God gives us guidelines on how to live, but when we examine the motivation behind these rules, we can see that they’re not in place to curb our enjoyment, but to keep us happy and safe.
Take sexual sin, for example. Christ taught that adultery is a sin, and it’s no wonder that he did—simply look at the consequences. Broken hearts. Depression. Health and financial trouble. Troubled children. The list goes on.
God created us and is all-knowing, and so He knows what behaviors are good and bad for us in the long run. Scripture helps us to home in on behaviors which are good for us, and avoid those which are bad.
Otherwise, God wants us to enjoy life! The writer of Ecclesiastes 2:24 proclaims that “There is nothing better for a person than that he should eat and drink and find enjoyment in his toil. This also, I saw, is from the hand of God.”
Don’t pass up on the fun parts of life for the sake of your faith. It’s because of God that such enjoyment exists
“God will solve all of my problems.”
There’s one Christian ministry that has done more damage to the Church than any external enemy has ever managed to do.
This bending of the Christian faith revolves around the idea that God is like a vending machine. Drop in your tithe, and out pops a brand-name blessing in the form of a new car, a miraculous healing, or even a win for your favorite football team.
Thinking that God will solve all of your problems is the fast-track to losing your faith when none of those problems are solved.
The truth is this: God gives us no promise of happiness, health, or financial security in this life. Our treasures, rather, lie in heaven, as Christ proclaimed in His famous Sermon on the Mount.
Scripture, in fact, promises that difficulty will come to us in this life—it promises this from the very beginning, in Genesis.
Genesis 3:17-19 NIV To Adam he said, “Because you listened to your wife and ate fruit from the tree about which I commanded you, ‘You must not eat from it,’ “Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat food from it all the days of your life. It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return.”
John 16:33 NIV “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
1 Peter 4:12-13 NIV Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed.
God does promise healing, rewards for the faithful, and perfect happiness, but only after He remakes heaven and earth without the curse of sin.
For now, keep your eyes on this end goal, and follow God’s commands to love Him and your neighbor. You may not be made rich, but you’ll live an absolutely fulfilling life that will end in the ultimate blessing.
“God is male.”
This is a contentious topic, no doubt, but an important one. God is referred to using male pronouns throughout scripture, but just as we should avoid ascribing overly human motivations to an infinite being, we should avoid ascribing gender norms, as well.
In Genesis, God created humankind, both male and female. Both were made in His image.
Think about that. Women were made in the image of God just as much as men are. God has the qualities of both.
For example, in Matthew 23:37, Christ laments that he wishes to gather His people “like a hen gathers her chicks under her wings.” In Hosea 13:8, God is compared to a protective mother bear, and in Isaiah 66:12, He is compared to a mother comforting her child.
In God, we don’t just have a stern and watchful father to guide us, but a warm and protective mother, as well. If this seems sacrilegious, remember that God is a spirit—He doesn’t have a physical body or a gender, and so this isn’t to say that God is literally a man and a woman as we know these terms. God simply has the attributes of both.
In this, God is able to be everything we need, and so don’t be afraid to ask for the love and comfort you’d expect from a mother. God is fully able to give these things.
“I know exactly what God wants.”
Of all the misconceptions about God, this may very well be the most harmful. A sense of pathological certainty regarding His Will can give us license to do whatever we want in His name—no matter how selfish or hurtful.
This often stems from a misconception we’ve already discussed—mistakenly assigning human motivations and behavior to God. But this problem can also take root in those who don’t carefully read scripture, and who simply see what they wish to see within God’s Word, closing their minds to other points of view.
Too often, those suffering from this error use scripture to justify sinful actions, such as treating others badly or hoarding power. At the very least, it results in a Christian who doesn’t truly understand God’s direction for their life.
Absolute certainty stops the process of learning about God. We should always be open to changing our point of view upon gaining a greater understanding of scripture, and subsequently, of who God truly is. This means seeking out spiritual mentors, studying scripture closely, and being willing to entertain new ideas.
Stay teachable, and God will speak to you.
Get to Know the Real God
Knowing God takes time, humility, and a teachable spirit. But as you grow closer to Him through your studies, you’ll find that the Fruits of the Spirit—love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, meekness, and self-control—will manifest in your life and personality.
That’s one of the major ways in which God touches the world—through you, and His Church. Get to know God properly so that you can truly represent Him on earth.
I’ve always been taught that God doesn't play favorites like we do. We prefer one friend over another for almost any reason but we have always been taught that God doesn't favor any person one person over another. That's funny because we are always asking God for His favor even when that favor comes at the expense of someone else even another Christian.
Now think about this statement from “The Greatest” a YouVersion Reading Plan;
“Did you know that God doesn’t play favorites? Now, this might seem like good news or bad news depending on how your week is going. Okay, but really, the truth is that this is GOOD news for everyone. Not only does God love all people, He wants us to do the same. We’re supposed to accept, love, and value everyone—no matter how different they may be. Today, ask God to help you resist playing favorites. Ask Him to help you be open to loving and accepting people who are way different than you. Accepting all > favoring some, every time!”
James 2:1 NIV My brothers and sisters, believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ must not show favoritism.
So you can understand my surprise when I read that God has given some people over others. .
The author, Cindi McMenamin, in her article “What is God’s Favor and How Do We Get It?”, points out that the scripture we quote to show that God is impartial, when taken in context is referring to God’s impartiality in salvation only.
Acts 10:34 NIV Then Peter began to speak: “I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism
Here it is in context;
Acts 10:23-24, 26-35 NIV Then Peter invited the men into the house to be his guests. The next day Peter started out with them, and some of the believers from Joppa went along. The following day he arrived in Caesarea. Cornelius was expecting them and had called together his relatives and close friends. But Peter made him get up. “Stand up,” he said, “I am only a man myself.” While talking with him, Peter went inside and found a large gathering of people. He said to them: “You are well aware that it is against our law for a Jew to associate with or visit a Gentile. But God has shown me that I should not call anyone impure or unclean. So when I was sent for, I came without raising any objection. May I ask why you sent for me?” Cornelius answered: “Three days ago I was in my house praying at this hour, at three in the afternoon. Suddenly a man in shining clothes stood before me and said, ‘Cornelius, God has heard your prayer and remembered your gifts to the poor. Send to Joppa for Simon who is called Peter. He is a guest in the home of Simon the tanner, who lives by the sea.’ So I sent for you immediately, and it was good of you to come. Now we are all here in the presence of God to listen to everything the Lord has commanded you to tell us.” Then Peter began to speak: “I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism but accepts from every nation the one who fears him and does what is right.
So maybe we should change to say that God doesn't play favorites when granting salvation, but He does give some favor over others in some things in the church and for His Kingdom. When it comes to working through individuals for His purposes here on earth, God clearly singles out some over the rest.The decision to grant favor is His alone and may or may not be the answer to a request for favor. When He grants favor it is for His glory alone.
In fact there is a scripture that says God is looking for specific people to receive His favor.
2 Chronicles 16:9 NIV For the eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him. You have done a foolish thing, and from now on you will be at war.” (emphasis mine)
After that “aha” moment I remembered that Paul said that we are rewarded for what we do in this life. Yes rewards are earned but everybody doesn't get them. That’s a form of favor.
2 Corinthians 5:6, 8-10 NIV Therefore we are always confident and know that as long as we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord. We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord. So we make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive what is due us for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.
The question now is how do I become one of those who gets God special favor. Cindi gives us ten people from the Bible as examples for us to follow so that we can receive favor and reward from our very generous Father who shows no partiality in giving us the opportunity to obtain in His favor.
What is God’s Favor and How Do We Get It?
by Cindi McMenamin
* ALL Bold Emphasis mine
God doesn’t have favorites…right? That would seem impartial or unfair. And yet, look through Scripture and you’ll find ordinary people whom God chose to get up close and personal with. They were individuals whom God used in a particularly powerful way and they clearly had His anointing, protection, and extraordinary blessings.
While Peter said “God is not one to show partiality” (Acts 10:34), and Romans 2:11 says “there is no partiality with God,” those verses, in context, refer to God’s impartiality when it comes to saving both the Jew and the Greek. God is impartial when it comes to salvation, “not wishing that any should perish” (2 Peter 3:9). But when it comes to working through individuals for His purposes here on earth, God clearly singles out some over the rest.
Second Chronicles 16:9 tells us: “For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is loyal to Him” (NKJV). In essence, God is looking for a few committed, surrendered hearts so He may pour His favor out on them.
So what can you and I do to get in God’s “inner circle?” How can we be singled out for His purposes and blessings? By looking at 10 people in Scripture who were clearly favored by God, we can learn more about what it is that attracts the heart and favor of God:
1. Walk with God intimately – like Enoch.
Scripture says Enoch “walked with God” for 300 years (Genesis 5:22-24). We don’t have any details of what Enoch did during his life, other than that he “walked with God.” Enoch and God must have had some great talks as they walked. Enoch must have done a lot of listening, too. And they must have gained a true intimacy because God longed for Enoch’s presence so much that He “took him” home to heaven rather than leaving Enoch to die a natural death. I imagine God thought Enoch, your father, Jared is going to live 962 years, your son, Methusaleh, will live even longer! I’m not waiting nearly that long to see you face to face. Get up here… now!
Do you want to be someone whom God can’t wait to be with? Let your life be characterized by a meaningful walk – not a brisk, hurried run – with God. Take the time to get to know Him, to recognize His voice, to hear His heart through His Word, and perhaps even take long, uninterrupted walks with him every morning or evening. Leave a legacy, like Enoch, of having been one who “walked with God.”
2. Be His “friend” – like Abraham.
God told Abraham to leave his country, his people and everything he knew and “go to the land that I will show you” (Genesis 12:1). Even though Abraham knew very little of God at that time, he left everything familiar and went out “even though he did not know where he was going” (Hebrews 11:8). That is faith. Hebrews 11:6 says “without faith it is impossible to please God.” Furthermore, Scripture tells us “‘Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.’ And he was called the friend of God” (James 2:23).
Is God asking you to take a step of faith even if you don’t have the numbers, the statistics, or a “comfortable feeling” about it? Do you even recognize His voice enough to know when He is urging you to take a step of faith? Grow in your faith by growing in your knowledge of Who God is. Study His attributes. Be convinced He can be trusted. As you show tremendous faith in a tremendous God, He will likely call you His friend, too.
3. Strive for obedience – even in difficult circumstances – like Joseph.
Joseph, the favored son of Jacob, had a life of difficult circumstances that included abandonment by his family, being sold into slavery, being falsely accused, and years of imprisonment. Yet Joseph was able to see the hand of God in all his suffering and declared at the end of his life to his brothers (who earlier attempted to murder him): “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives” (Genesis 50:20). Joseph’s obedience and continual acknowledgement of the sovereignty of God touched God’s heart so much so that God continued to grant Joseph favor in every circumstance he was in, ultimately promoting him to second in command of all of Egypt. On Joseph’s authority, his family and the entire tribe of Israel was spared during years of severe famine in Egypt.
Are circumstances in your life less than perfect? Are they downright painful? Thank God in everything (1 Thessalonians 5:18) and capture His heart by praising Him in spite of how you are being treated. Keep a humble heart that ever acknowledges God’s sovereign will and He will honor you for it.
4. Be meek and humble – like Moses.
In Isaiah 66:2, God said: “These are the ones I look on with favor: those who are humble and contrite in spirit, and who tremble at my word.” We also learn in Numbers 12:3 that “Moses was a very humble man, more humble than anyone else on the face of the earth.” Perhaps it was his meekness and humility that caused God to meet with Moses “face to face” and ultimately show him His glory – something He didn’t do for anyone else. In Exodus 33:17, God told Moses: “for you have found favor in My sight and I have known you by name” (Exodus 33:17).
God dwells with, provides for, and shows favor toward the humble. Not to those who want to share the same level of leadership and glory as the Almighty. Be one who is humble and realizes that promotion comes from God alone, who “puts down one and exalts another” (Psalm 75:6-7, NKJV).
5. Desire to do His will – like David.
David, the Psalmist, wrote songs of devotion to God. He poured out his heart to Him. And because of the time he spent in sweet devotion with his Lord he cultivated the kind of faith and loyalty to God, as a mere teenager, who could take down a giant with just a pebble and a slingshot. David became Israel’s greatest king because of his heart to please the Lord. And even after a season of sin (in which he slept with and impregnated the wife of one of his “mighty men” who was out at war for him, and then had him murdered to cover up his sin), God still gave David the enduring legacy as “‘…a man after My heart, who will do all My will’” (Acts 13:22, NASB).
How can you not fall in love with a God like that – one Who sees your heart over your horrific mistakes? Study the songs of David in Scripture and get a look at the kind of heart that is pleased to obey God over anything else. That kind of devotion leaves a lasting impression on God.
6. Seek God’s wisdom above anything else – like Solomon.
As a young man – possibly insecure as he took the role of Israel’s king in the shadow of his larger-than-life father, David – Solomon was humble and dependent on God. So much so that when God appeared to Solomon in a dream and asked Solomon what he desired God to give him, Solomon didn’t pause to consider riches, fame or even success as a king. Solomon immediately asked for a discerning heart to govern God’s people and to distinguish between right and wrong. Solomon’s answer to God’s “million-dollar question” pleased God so much that God gave him wisdom, along with more riches and fame than any person on earth had ever known (1 Kings 3:5-15).
What do you want more than anything? To succeed in your business? To be known as a “good person”? To raise children who love the Lord? To be respected and admired by others? When God sees that your heart’s desire is the same as His desire for your life, He will be pleased to grant it.
Psalms 37:4 NLT Take delight in the Lord , and he will give you your heart’s desires.
7. Be surrendered – like Mary of Nazareth.
The angel Gabriel called Mary of Nazareth “favored one” when he announced that she would bear the long-awaited Messiah. But his news also meant public scandal and the possibility that Mary would be an outcast in her community (because she was still a virgin). Yet, despite those legitimate concerns, she showed no reservation, only a humble, surrendered response: “Behold, the bondslave of the Lord; may it be done to me according to your word” (Luke 1:38, NASB).
In other words, “I’m Yours, Lord, for whatever You have in mind.”
Can you say that when God unfolds a path before you that looks uncertain, undesirable, or maybe even threatening? What if His plan, like His plan for Mary, means no wedding, loss of your reputation, and a life that will be misunderstood and burdensome in a way that few will understand?
Luke 2:34-35 NLT Then Simeon blessed them, and he said to Mary, the baby’s mother, “This child is destined to cause many in Israel to fall, and many others to rise. He has been sent as a sign from God, but many will oppose him. As a result, the deepest thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your very soul.”
Develop an obedient, surrendered heart like Mary and you may find yourself “favored” by God.
8. Love God extravagantly – like Mary of Bethany.
Mary of Bethany was the woman who sat at Jesus’ feet, hanging on his every word as her sister, Martha, scrambled about the kitchen, taking care of the dinner preparation. Mary wasn’t being lazy by sitting it out when there was work to be done. She was seizing the moment to sit at the feet of her Master, and Jesus commended her for it (Luke 10:38-42). We read later that Mary, shortly before Jesus’ death, anointed Him with expensive perfume she had saved possibly for her own wedding. She realized her “Bridegroom” was at hand and she spared no expense to honor Him. Jesus again commended her, saying wherever the gospel was taught, the story would be told of what she did, as a remembrance to her.
John 12:1-8 NLT Six days before the Passover celebration began, Jesus arrived in Bethany, the home of Lazarus—the man he had raised from the dead. A dinner was prepared in Jesus’ honor. Martha served, and Lazarus was among those who ate with him. Then Mary took a twelve-ounce jar of expensive perfume made from essence of nard, and she anointed Jesus’ feet with it, wiping his feet with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance. But Judas Iscariot, the disciple who would soon betray him, said, “That perfume was worth a year’s wages. It should have been sold and the money given to the poor.” Not that he cared for the poor—he was a thief, and since he was in charge of the disciples’ money, he often stole some for himself. Jesus replied, “Leave her alone. She did this in preparation for my burial. You will always have the poor among you, but you will not always have me.”
Mark 14:3-9 NLT Meanwhile, Jesus was in Bethany at the home of Simon, a man who had previously had leprosy. While he was eating, a woman came in with a beautiful alabaster jar of expensive perfume made from essence of nard. She broke open the jar and poured the perfume over his head. Some of those at the table were indignant. “Why waste such expensive perfume?” they asked. “It could have been sold for a year’s wages and the money given to the poor!” So they scolded her harshly. But Jesus replied, “Leave her alone. Why criticize her for doing such a good thing to me? You will always have the poor among you, and you can help them whenever you want to. But you will not always have me. She has done what she could and has anointed my body for burial ahead of time. I tell you the truth, wherever the Good News is preached throughout the world, this woman’s deed will be remembered and discussed.”
Would you rather be with Jesus than do a bunch of things for Him? Can you risk the misunderstanding or judgment of others for not joining in the busy work, but instead sitting it out to spend more time with God? God honors the heart that reveres and loves His Son without hesitation, without reservations, and without regard for cost. Love God’s Son extravagantly and spare no expense to show Him what He means to you.
9. Lean in close to Him – like John the beloved disciple.
John, son of Zebedee, described himself throughout his gospel as “the disciple whom Jesus loved.” Didn’t Jesus love them all? Of course, He did. But John was especially close to Jesus. John was the one who leaned on Jesus’ breast as they reclined at the dinner table the night Jesus was betrayed, and John wasn’t afraid to ask Jesus the question everyone else feared to ask Him.
John 13:21-22, 24-25 NLT Now Jesus was deeply troubled, and he exclaimed, “I tell you the truth, one of you will betray me!” The disciples looked at each other, wondering whom he could mean. Simon Peter motioned to him to ask, “Who’s he talking about?” So that disciple leaned over to Jesus and asked, “Lord, who is it?”
John, incidentally, was the only one of Jesus’ disciples not martyred for his faith, but died in exile on Patmos, after seeing and recording the vision of God’s glory. John wasn’t perfect. Scripture calls him one of the “sons of thunder” (that tells me he was a “hot-head” when it came to his temper!). Yet John stayed close to Jesus and it made all the difference in softening him to become the one who wrote First John – the Bible’s book on love.
Can you stick close to Jesus, no matter what He says that you don’t understand? Can you stay near Him even if all your friends walk away? John stayed at the foot of the cross with the women closest to Jesus on the night Jesus died after all the other disciples had scattered for fear of their lives. Be the one who stays close to Jesus no matter what. God notices.
10. Become like Jesus – God’s beloved Son
God clearly showed favor to His beloved Son. God gives us eternal life when we embrace His Son.
1 John 5:11-12 NLT And this is what God has testified: He has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have God’s Son does not have life.
He promises to give us whatever we ask for on behalf of His Son.
John 16:23 NLT At that time you won’t need to ask me for anything. I tell you the truth, you will ask the Father directly, and he will grant your request because you use my name.
He seeks to mold us into the image of His Son.
John 16:23 NLT At that time you won’t need to ask me for anything. I tell you the truth, you will ask the Father directly, and he will grant your request because you use my name.
If you want to have favor with God, be fully committed to His beloved Son, Jesus Christ. Worship and revere Him, identify with His pain, gain a heart like His, and display His characteristics in your life. Jesus prayed that we would have the kind of unity with our Heavenly Father and with one another that He had with His own Father.
John 17:20-21 NLT “I am praying not only for these disciples but also for all who will ever believe in me through their message. I pray that they will all be one, just as you and I are one—as you are in me, Father, and I am in you. And may they be in us so that the world will believe you sent me.
That means just as Jesus shared intimacy with God, you and I can share that intimacy with God, too, as we love Him like Jesus did – with all our heart, mind, soul and strength.
Mark 12:30 NLT And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.’
Whenever something big happens in our lives; like getting that job that we really wanted, that raise, your child’s graduation, escrow closing on that dream home, that once in a lifetime vacation, learning that you're cancer free, I could go on, when those life changing things happen we say and often shout GOD IS GOOD!
Yes God is good, and we thank Him when the big things happen. But God never changes so He's good all the time even in the small things.
James 1:17 NIV Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.
James 1:17 NIV Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.
I confess that I I don't often say “God is good” for the small things like waking up, being able to breath, being healthy enough to go for long walks on Tuesday or Thursday, having enough to eat, having good friends, my mother still living at 96 (that’s a big thing), and the other things we take for granted.
What Does it Mean that God Is Good? 5 Examples in Everyday Life
Carrie Lowrance - Crosswalk Contributor
We often hear the phrase, “God is good.” It is used in songs, sermons, and is sometimes used as a response when both good and bad things happen in our lives, for example: a person who avoids tragedy due to car trouble or a delayed flight. Other examples are good things that happen to people, like circumstances aligning perfectly for them to buy a house or replace their old car when previously things looked very bleak. In all these things, we often say, “God is good.”
Still, what does this mean? According to Merriam Webster, the definition of “God" is “the being in perfect power, wisdom, and goodness who is worshipped as creator and ruler of the universe," however; isn’t he more than this? God is good in so many ways--the way he provides for us, guides us, and watches over us--but it goes even deeper than that. God's goodness is who he is, and we are created in his image, so, therefore, we share his goodness.
God’s goodness shows up in our lives every single day. Although we often think of his goodness when something big happens, his goodness abounds all the time--in every hour, minute, and second of the day, in the smallest of things around us. Here are five examples of his goodness in our everyday lives.
“Why do you call me good?” Jesus asked. “Only God is truly good.” Luke 18:19
1. Waking Us Up
Every day that God wakes us up is an example of his goodness. This means we are still working towards the purpose and gifts he has given us. It shows us that he isn’t finished with us yet and that we still have a mission to fulfill. We shall not grumble and complain about getting out of bed and going to work. We should be happy that we are still breathing and living for him. Many are worse off than us who need to see our light shining in the world every day.
"Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I entrust my life." - Psalm 143:8
2. Pouring His Favor on Us
On the days when we are surrounded by the smallest and most significant of blessings, we know that God is pouring his favor on us. This can be anything from your coworker bringing you your favorite coffee to your boss calling you in their office to discuss a raise or promotion. We need to pay attention to all the little things in our day, both big and small, that are a blessing to us. A lot of times, it’s the little things that mean so much.
“God has now revealed to us his mysterious will regarding Christ-which is to fulfill his own good plan.” Ephesians 1:9
3. Protecting Us
We have all heard about the woman who had car trouble and missed being in a massive pile-up on the interstate. We have heard about the disease/cancer detection that almost did not happen due to a practically-missed appointment. These are the significant ways he protects us, but he works in the smaller things too: for example, the gossip that is going around that never reaches your ears or the coworker that is trying to sabotage you but your boss, instead, sees the honest and hard work that you do. These are all ways he protects us on a daily basis.
4. Speaking to Us through Prayer
Prayer is our most powerful connection to God. It is how we express our thanks and gratitude, make our petitions known, and intercede for others. Sometimes we get an answer of “yes,” sometimes, “no” and sometimes, “wait.” Sometimes, he gives us specific instructions and, sometimes, he is silent. Other times, he speaks to us and provides us with an answer in the most surprising of ways. No matter what, he always answers, and we need to look for those answers every day. In issues big and small, he will often nudge our hearts and draw our attention in the right direction.
5. Guiding Us
We make a thousand little decisions a day, everything from deciding whether we will do our job well or whether or not to take on a client. Sometimes, we have to determine whether an opportunity is right for us and if we should follow a particular path. In these moments, God is guiding us. We need to stop, take a breath and pay attention. How do we feel in our hearts? How do we feel in our gut? We need to be still and listen to that small voice we know so well. Listen to him whispering to our hearts about what choices are right for us. Pay attention to the signs he sends us. This is his way of guiding us and nudging us to our best selves, so that we may live in the gifts we have been given and the purpose he has for us.
Are you concerned that you will get too busy and miss the signs of God’s goodness in your life?
Matthew 22:37-40 NIV Jesus replied: “ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
Galatians 6:2 NIV Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.
There is much debate among Christians about our requirements for obeying the Law as presented in the Old Testament. The Law they are talking about is really all of the rules and regulations that God gave Moses (including the Ten Commandments) during the wilderness wanderings of the Israelites.
The key to understanding the relationship betweening the Christian and the Law is knowing that the Old Testament law was given to the nation of Israel, not to Christians. Some of the laws were to reveal to the Israelites how to obey and please God (the Ten Commandments Exodus 20:1-17,). Some of the laws were to show the Israelites how to worship God and atone for sin (the sacrificial system Numbers 15). Some of the laws were intended to make the Israelites distinct from other nations (the food and clothing rules Leviticus 11, 13, 19, ). The Old Testament law is not binding on Christians today. When Jesus died on the cross, He put an end to the Old Testament law.
Romans 10:4 NIV Christ is the culmination of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes.
Galatians 3:23-25 NIV Before the coming of this faith, we were held in custody under the law, locked up until the faith that was to come would be revealed. So the law was our guardian until Christ came that we might be justified by faith. Now that this faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian.
Ephesians 2:14-15 NIV For he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by setting aside in his flesh the law with its commands and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace,
Christians are under the Law of Christ, not the Old Testament Law
Galatians 6:2 NIV Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.
The law of Christ a summary of Jesus’ response to a question about the greatest Commandment.
Matthew 22:34-40 NIV Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together. One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied: “ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
This doesn’t mean the Old Testament law is irrelevant today. Many of the commands in the Old Testament law fall into the categories of “loving God” and “loving your neighbor.” The Old Testament law can be a good guidepost for knowing how to love God and knowing what goes into loving your neighbor.
The Ten Commandments were essentially a summary of the entire Old Testament law. Nine of the Ten Commandments are clearly repeated in the New Testament (all except the command to observe the Sabbath day). If we are loving God, we will not be worshipping false gods or bowing down before idols. If we are loving our neighbors, we will not be murdering them, lying to them, committing adultery against them, or coveting what belongs to them. The purpose of the Old Testament law is to convict people of our inability to keep the law and point us to our need for Jesus Christ as Savior.
Romans 7:7-12 NIV What shall we say, then? Is the law sinful? Certainly not! Nevertheless, I would not have known what sin was had it not been for the law. For I would not have known what coveting really was if the law had not said, “You shall not covet.” But sin, seizing the opportunity afforded by the commandment, produced in me every kind of coveting. For apart from the law, sin was dead. Once I was alive apart from the law; but when the commandment came, sin sprang to life and I died. I found that the very commandment that was intended to bring life actually brought death. For sin, seizing the opportunity afforded by the commandment, deceived me, and through the commandment put me to death. So then, the law is holy, and the commandment is holy, righteous and good.
Galatians 3:23-24 NIV Before the coming of this faith, we were held in custody under the law, locked up until the faith that was to come would be revealed. So the law was our guardian until Christ came that we might be justified by faith.
While we will never keep God’s commandments or be righteous before Him by our own efforts, Christ did. It is His sacrificial death on the cross that causes our sins to be imputed to Him and His righteousness imputed to us.
Romans 3:21-22a NIV But now apart from the law the righteousness of God has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe.
Here's the problem;
Romans 7:14-20, 25 NIV We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin. I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it. Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in my sinful nature a slave to the law of sin.
Here's the solution;
Romans 10:9-13 NIV If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved. As Scripture says, “Anyone who believes in him will never be put to shame.” For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile—the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
Salvation is not by the Law
The gospel message is that we can receive forgiveness of sins through faith in the sacrifice of Christ. It was Jesus who kept of the law perfectly and never sinned sacrificed His life and died for our salvation.
1 Peter 2:21-22 NIV To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps. “He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth.”
Christians have "died with Christ"
Romans 6:4 NIV We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.
That means that they have also died to the law
Romans 7:4-6 NIV So, my brothers and sisters, you also died to the law through the body of Christ, that you might belong to another, to him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit for God. For when we were in the realm of the flesh, the sinful passions aroused by the law were at work in us, so that we bore fruit for death. But now, by dying to what once bound us, we have been released from the law so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the written code.
Therefore, Christians are not obligated to keep the law in order to be saved. But, when we love God, love our neighbor, and love one another, it's love that fulfills the law.
Donald Jacobs is an ordained minister with the spiritual gift of teaching. He is the Associate Pastor of a non-denominational church in Los Angeles, CA.