I AM

Psalm 8:1  LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!

I am always left amazed when I try to understand more about who our God is and what he’s like. He is infinite. No matter how much we strive we can never fully grasp his entirety, but the tiny glimpses he has given continue to show me how aptly he calls himself, I Am.

God is.

God is one. He doesn’t have parts. Nothing can be taken away and nothing can be added to who he is. He doesn’t have a collection of attributes. He is those attributes. They don’t require him to act a certain way (implying they are something outside of him). They are him. God is love. God is justice. God is goodness. His attributes don’t conflict and he cannot act outside of them.

Any not only that, whatever God is, he is to the maximum. If God loves something, he loves it infinitely, with all power…no hint of unlove at all. We humans have this fickle love all the time, but not God. He loves me, and YOU (yes, you!) that much. Actually I can’t even use “much” because that would give it limit. His love for us is unlimited! When God acts, everything He does is good with not even the tiniest hint of bad. When he justly acquits us of our sin through the atoning sacrifice of his only Son, we are fully “not guilty”. There is not even a hint of regret or conflict in his mind about forgiving us all our treachery and disobedience.

God is.

This God, the great I Am, is what I am searching for. This God is what you are searching for. He is what we are longing for, what we struggle each day to be content with. God IS the answer. God IS the treasure. When we go outside in the morning and see the sun rise over the mountains, hear the birds sing, breathe in the fresh air, this is able to fill us with life and inspiration because we’re looking at the amazing work of God’s hands. The reason we find such joy in sharing with and serving others is because that’s what God created us to do and we are fulfilling his purposes. The reason I love someone else is because they were created in the image of our God and they display some of God’s character for me. See? God is in everything that is good! So stop searching. If we find ourselves dissatisfied, run to God. Abide in Christ who made it possible for us to approach our Creator and we will have joy, bear fruit, and if we ask, he will give us more than we could ever imagine.

We get to have a relationship with the I AM! What’s there to lose? Let’s pursue him with all we have and he will never let us go.

God is.

Exodus 3:13-15     Then Moses said to God, “If I come to the people of Israel and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ what shall I say to them?” God said to Moses, “I am who I am.”And he said, “Say this to the people of Israel, ‘I am has sent me to you.’” God also said to Moses, “Say this to the people of Israel, ‘The Lord, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you.’ This is my name forever, and thus I am to be remembered throughout all generations.

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A Bold Request

 

Matthew 14: 28 And Peter answered him, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.”

Isn’t it wonderful that no matter how many times we read a passage from the Bible, it will never get old or too familiar? The possibilities will never run dry for learning new things, seeing a story from a new angle, or grasping a familiar concept in a fresh way. Unlike any other written document, the Bible is alive! It is God’s literal words spoken to us which can penetrate to our innermost parts. Ah, the wonder of the mysterious ways of our awe-some God.

This renewed sense of the Bible’s alive-ness came as I read the story of Jesus walking on water in Matthew 14. The disciples see this “ghost” walking on the water and they are terrified (as any of us would be). To calm them, Jesus speaks peace upon them and says, “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.” Now the disciples could have had many responses to this. They were probably still not convinced of their safety, but Peter breaks the mold with a response that is so unexpected and brazen. He basically says, “Prove it!” and commands Jesus to have him come and walk on the water too. I’m taken aback. Is that a proper response to the Son of God who is at that very moment demonstrating his deity and supernatural power by walking on water? I almost expect this God-man to strike Peter down right there or at least reprimand his shameless request. But again, Jesus’ reply is not what’s expected. He is not offended by Peter’s boldness and desire to be sure of his words. Jesus simply says, “Come.” And when, only seconds later, Peter’s confidence falters and he begins to sink, Jesus reaches out his hand and leads him to safety.

There is so much richness in this tiny little story that takes up only a few verses. There is a lot we can learn from Peter’s boldness and Jesus’ answer. Because of the response I had to this interaction I came to realize that I often limit what I think God can do. I thought Peter’s request to Jesus inappropriate, but Jesus didn’t. Jesus did what Peter asked and blessed Peter with a supernatural, once-in-a-lifetime experience. Peter, instead of fearing the unknown like the other disciples, decided to take a chance. He wasn’t going to believe what this “ghost” claimed until he went out there and made sure he was who he said he was. Who of us is bold enough to ask Jesus to do something so miraculous? To question Jesus from the desire to be sure of his identity? Jesus wants us to be sure of him and he wants us to experience his power to its fullest; but do we have that desire and are we asking him for it? James 4:2b says, “You do not have because you do not ask.”

This has challenged me to be bolder in prayer with my Father. He is not limited in power or ability.  There is no request too big that would offend him. He can do so much more than we ever imagine to ask for and more beyond that! Our God wants to be glorified in this world. He desires to “show off” his greatness and power so all the nations can see and he has chosen to do so through us, his children. Let’s not be timid in our requests. Let’s be bold like Peter and ask for big things from God. And we can’t stop there. We must also trust in the words of Jesus and take that first step into the waves. There is nothing to fear. He will lead the way and when we falter (because we will falter) he will hold our hands tight and encourage our faith. If we are thinking eternally, our uncertainties, our fears, and our human limitations will decrease, the desire to know Christ and his power will grow, and name of our Lord will be made great in this world!

Matthew 14:25-33  And in the fourth watch of the night he came to them, walking on the sea. But when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified, and said, “It is a ghost!” and they cried out in fear. But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.” And Peter answered him, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, “Lord, save me.” Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him, saying to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased. And those in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”

Zealous for Good Works

Titus 2:14 …who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.

 

The theme of this blog is “think eternal” and the ways God is teaching us to live every moment of our lives with his glory and love as our sole motivation and purpose.  As we daily strive to be thinking eternally it can be very easy to get caught up in what we need to do or not do and lose sight of the grace of God which doesn’t require us to do anything. As followers of Christ who are supposed to be Christ-like, this is a difficult principle to balance in real life application. I am a “doer”, so I especially struggle with feeling like I’m never doing enough. Thankfully God knows our hearts better than we know them ourselves and he has been revealing the many places in his Word that speak to this issue and can help keep us sorted.

In Titus 2:14 it says “[Jesus] gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.” Jesus sacrificed himself so he would have a people who were zealous, eager, even excited to do good works! This isn’t the picture the world seems to have (or we may even have ourselves) of Christians who have to give up all the exciting things of the world and become staunch, joyless beings who do “good works”. No! This is the redeemed, who have been renewed by the Holy Spirit and washed with regeneration and find eternal joy and fulfillment in doing what God created them to do!  The good works have become the exciting things of life: to love God, obey his commands and love others like he has loved us. This isn’t an obligation of drudgery, but what we long to do with our lives. With fresh hearts and minds, the things of this world are no longer so desirable.

This begs the question then, how do I become “zealous” for good works? And again we fall into the trap of trying to do something to become more zealous! But we’ve then missed the point of the verse. It says Jesus purified a people who are zealous for good works. There is nothing in there about what we did or are supposed to do. Jesus did all the work for us. He wanted a people for his own possession, so he did what had to be done. He bore our sins on the cross, paid our unpayable debt, and gave us his righteousness. As I’ve been meditating on this verse, the same pattern has come up in so many other Bible passages. In John 13, Jesus is washing the disciples’ feet and says “If I do not wash you, you have no share with me.” If we are to be a part of Jesus, then we must allow him to wash us clean, purify us from lawlessness. In Psalm 23 it says, “He guides me in the path of righteousness, for His name’s sake.” And again, John 15:4 says we can’t bear fruit unless we are abiding in Jesus. He cleanses me, He guides me, and He abides in me so I am righteous, fruitful, and eager to do good works. Our role is simply to fall at the feet of Jesus in worship, confess our sin, and allow him to dwell in us. If we let him, he will give us hearts like his, excited to do the good works we have been created for.

John 13:8 Peter said to him, “You shall never wash my feet.” Jesus answered him, “If I do not wash you, you have no share with me.”

John 15: 4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me.

Ephesians 2:9 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.