It is 5 minute Friday in which I write for five short minutes, fight my urge to edit and re-write the whole thing and just post whatever I’ve got.
The word this week is Loud.
Deep calls to deep
at the roar of your waterfalls;
all your breakers and your waves
have gone over me.
(Psalm 42:7 ESV)
Moses spoke, and God answered him in thunder.
(Exodus 19:19 ESV)
I hate loud noises, especially sudden ones. I swore at the phone this evening when it rang loudly beside me, giving me a fright. I covet the peaceful quietness once everyone has gone to bed and the TV is off. To read, to think, to just be.
My aversion to loudness causes me to get stressed when multiple people talk at once. I cannot follow what is being said, get confused and flustered.
God isn’t like that. He can follow billions of conversations all at once without stress. He can cope just fine with loudness or with silence. He can communicate through a thunder storm or a torrent of water. He can make Himself known without any sound at all.
He condescends to meet me in my weakness, stopping me in my complaining to whisper, “It is not about you – this life you have, all you are – it is about Me, about My Son. About Jesus.”
It is odd how thinking about loudness reminded me of what He quietly spoke years ago.
And after the earthquake a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire the sound of a low whisper.
And when Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his cloak and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave. And behold, there came a voice to him and said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”
(1 Kings 19:12–13 ESV)
Photo of waterfall: Depositphotos
God reveals Himself to us in our thanksgiving. As we offer sacrifices of praise, continually, from lips and hearts that acknowledge His name (Hebrews 13:15), He opens our hearts to see Him as He is.
Perhaps the most powerful way in which we glorify God is to trust Him and offer thanksgiving for His holiness, goodness and love even in the midst of circumstances, events or attitudes which cast profound doubt upon these very attributes. If my heart is breaking over the brokenness of the world and the lack of hope for things to even slow in their deterioration, if I am staring starkly into the reality that in many ways it does look as though we are on our own in the awful mess we have made, yet turn my heart to thank God for the hope He proclaims in Christ – that thanksgiving is a sacrifice. Thanksgiving when your heart just wants to scream and rant at God is hard.
The one who offers thanksgiving as his sacrifice glorifies me;
to one who orders his way rightly
I will show the salvation of God!
(Psalm 50:23 ESV)
In such situations simply prattling off some trite thanks for material comforts or a happy family doesn’t cut it. Our hearts rebel at such hypocrisy, and rightly so. Sometimes reality smashes down all veneer of having it all together and we have to admit that things really are bad, there is no point denying it. This, in fact, can be the beginning of true thanksgiving – thanking God for being God.
Though he slay me, I will hope in him;
yet I will argue my ways to his face.
(Job 13:15 ESV)
Notice where Job places his hope – in Him, in the very One who is responsible for his suffering! At the end of hope is the beginning of true thanksgiving and trust, the trembling acceptance of our reality and un-done-ness and praising God as He is (Isaiah 6:5). Hoping in Him for who He is – and apart from Him there is nothing (John 1:3).
The amazing painting featured above is by Luke Allsbrook, check out the full resolution images here on his website.
Gifts I have noticed this week (227 – 237):
[including thanks for material stuff and a happy family!]
227) Being outside in bright sunshine.
228) Happy children.
229) Getting a scrubcutter to attack the jungle in our back yard.
230) My wheezy, asthmatic son snoring beside me in bed.
231) A daughter wrestling with the meaning of the fall and Romans 7:7-25.
232) The ESV Online Study Bible.
233) A strenuous walk after sitting and sleeping.
234) Literal windfalls for my gleaning.
235) Crickets chirping.
236) Laughter (Proverbs 17:22).
237) The whole book of Revelation.
It can be hard to perceive God’s glory in our lives. I often feel like I am just stumbling around in the dark trying to live my life in some semblance of faithfulness to God but not seeing much in myself that truly honours Christ. Yet, like the tree in the picture above, it is not me that has the glory but rather it is God’s light streaming down from Him that shines through my life with a glory which others may see while I remain unaware of it.
Awake, O sleeper,
and arise from the dead,
and Christ will shine on you.
(Ephesians 5:14 ESV)
The context of Ephesians 5:14 is of walking in purity (holiness) before God. This is a humble, self-sacrificing calling, given to all Christians. We are not to be self-seeking or to seek glory for ourselves. Instead, as we faithfully honour God in every little way we can in ordinary lives, Christ will shine His glory upon us (and we may not even know it).
“There is no creature that conspires against God but only devils and sinful men.” Jeremiah Burroughs in The Evil of Evils.
This sentence brought me to a complete standstill. The book it is from is not one to read quickly anyway, but the stark bluntness of being classed with Satan and demons because my sin is so evil is hard to swallow. It is true, I just don’t like it.
I have often envied the birds and animals in moments of Romans 7 frustration (see Romans 7:19-20). They simply do what God made them to do, we humans on the other hand have exchanged the truth for a lie and rebelled against God (Romans 1:25). That rebellion is sin, and sin results in death (Romans 6:23).
God is opening my eyes to see that whereas I like to refer to my sinful nature as ‘fallen’ and think of it in terms of being a bit bent and broken, God calls it evil — not that I do evil, I am evil. In the same way that demons are evil – in open rebellion against God (2 Peter 2:4, 1 John 3:8).
God is holy, totally separated from any hint of sin or evil. It is important to grasp some idea of how blindingly pure He is and that by nature we are sinners, we cannot stop ourselves sinning and so cannot exist in God’s presence. Frankly, in such a state we are doomed, not because God is mean but simply because we are evil. For people to exist in the presence of God they would have to also be holy as He is (1 Peter 1:15-16).
So, here we are, separated from God because of our sin and completely without hope (Ephesians 2:12). Then what does God do?
For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (2 Corinthians 5:21 ESV)
And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John 1:14)
The phrase ‘dwelt among us’ carries the idea of pitching a tent as a dwelling, in fact some translations express it as he ‘tabernacled’ among us (e.g., Amplified, Young’s). In choosing this wording John is giving us a connection, or comparison, with the tabernacle of God’s presence amongst Israel in the wilderness and Jesus dwelling in our midst. With the backdrop of this tent in the wilderness in mind, John writes of having seen the glory of the Son.
One manifestation of this glory was the overwhelming glory when the tabernacle was first set up (Exodus 40:34-35) which is seen in Jesus at the transfiguration (Luke 9:28-35). There are other instances of the glory of God being seen in Jesus, such as when he was baptized, when he calmed the storm, and when he raised Lazarus from the dead.
But John is not as concerned with the spectacular as we might be (note John 4:48 and John 6:26-29), he devotes large parts of his gospel to accounts of Jesus bringing light and life to those he meets (see John 4:5-42 and John 10:1-18). Most significantly, John devotes the last nine chapters (13–21) to the final day of Jesus’ life, the hour of Jesus’ departure (John 13:1) occupies over a third of John’s gospel.
Jesus loved his own to the end, and in this the glory of the only Son of God is revealed.
Jared Wilson at Band of Bloggers
The Band of Bloggers is a group of Christian folks who write blogs and get together for a workshop every second year at the Together for the Gospel conferences. Jared Wilson comments in this short video about maintaining integrity between the life we live online and the life we live in the real world. He also makes to bold statement that having an online identity, or a ministry, online which has no foundation in the real world would make us a fake.
His key point is that we need to blog about the gospel, not about how to make the gospel central, but simply to write about Jesus, who He is, what He is to us. I was very encouraged by this because that is the focus I try to maintain on this blog (see True, honourable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent, praiseworthy).
Jesus is the Son of God, the Creator of the universe – if He cannot blow our minds with His glory and newness and innovation and sheer brilliance then we really do have stony hearts. I can understand that people who are not Christians cannot see the appeal in Christ, but for Christians to miss it and prefer the gadgets, glamour and glitz of the world is a symptom of serious sickness in our hearts.