When a Man of God Dies…

. . . Nothing of God Dies. 

This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.

Joshua 1:9.

Passing away this week: a theologian, Thomas Oden; a missionary, Helen Roseveare;  a worship leader, Cliff Barrows; and a Patriarch, Randolph Adler. Through their lives, ministries, and/or books, each of these individuals exemplified Christ and now through their passing, we feel their absence.

In today’s quote, A, W, Tozer examines what happens spiritually when a mentor is taken from us. In many instances, our relationship with the Lord is so intertwined with our relationship with the mentor, when the mentor leaves our daily lives, our relationship with the Lord suffers. Often, we have trusted the Lord through our mentor’s faith and obeyed the Lord through that mentor’s understanding. With their leaving, God challenges us to believe his covenant promises, stand on his Word, and trust his provision through our own convictions and by our own faith.

We cannot think rightly of God until we begin to think of Him as always being there, and there first. Joshua had this to learn. He had been so long the servant of God’s servant Moses, and had with such assurance received God’s word at his mouth, that Moses and the God of Moses had become blended in his thinking, so blended that he could hardly separate the two thoughts; by association they always appeared together in his mind. Now Moses is dead, and lest the young Joshua be struck down with despair, God spoke to assure him, “As I was with Moses, so I will be with thee.” Moses was dead, but the God of Moses still lived. Nothing had changed and nothing had been lost. Nothing of God dies when a man of God dies.

A. W. Tozer, God’s Pursuit of Man (Camp Hill, PA: Wingspread, 1950), 3.

HT: A.W. Tozer Daily Devotional

Things Deep and Mysterious

Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!

Rom 11:33 ESV

I’m a pastor-theologian, I enjoy theological discussions as much as the next pastor-theologian. However, there are times when discussions need to end and worship should begin. Theological discussion is only helpful if it leads to awe-inspired adoration, mind-exulting praise, and heart-searching holiness for our Lord Jesus Christ. God is deep and mysterious and to think that we might ever figure him out goes beyond human pride and self-deception.

Important as it is that we recognize God working in us, I would yet warn against a too-great preoccupation with the thought. It is a sure road to sterile passivity. God will not hold us responsible to understand the mysteries of election, predestination, and the divine sovereignty.

The best and safest way to deal with these truths is to raise our eyes to God and in deepest reverence say, “O Lord, Thou knowest.” Those things belong to the deep and mysterious profound of God’s omniscience. Prying into them may make theologians, but it will never make saints.

A. W. Tozer, The Pursuit of God (Camp Hill, PA: Wingspread, 1982), 64.

Indeed, God is in Control

 

Then Daniel praised the God of heaven. He said, “Praise the name of God forever and ever, for he has all wisdom and power. He controls the course of world events.

Daniel 2:19-21

God’s sovereignty is the biblical truth that God is the King and has legal authority over all his creation. God reigns and nothing is a surprise to him, nothing is by chance, and nothing is beyond his purpose and workings. The fact that God is sovereign should bring us great peace: our lives are not just a series of random events and lucky breaks.

The sovereignty of God is his powerful might working his purposes in and through our circumstances, irrespective, of Satan’s wicked devices and man’s evil intentions. You and I can be thankful for the Lord by his sovereignty is working his appointment in the midst of our disappointments. My life and yours has meaning, purpose, and divine direction. The bad breaks in life when submitted to God can bring spiritual growth and intimacy with Jesus. Indeed, God is in control.

Things were in God’s plan which I had not planned at all. I am coming to the living faith and conviction that – from God’s point of view – there is no chance and that the whole of my life, down to every detail, has been mapped out in God’s divine providence and makes complete and perfect sense in God’s all-seeing eyes.

St. Edith Stein

HT: Quote Catholic

 

Not a God of Confusion

All the people of the earth are nothing compared to him. He does as he pleases among the angels of heaven and among the people of the earth. No one can stop him or say to him, ‘What do you mean by doing these things?’

Dan. 4:35 NLT

God’s sovereignty is the biblical truth that God is the King and legal authority over all his creation. God reigns and nothing is a surprise to him, nothing is by chance, and nothing is beyond his purpose and workings. The fact that God is sovereign should bring us great peace: our lives are not just a series of random events and lucky breaks.

The sovereignty of God is his powerful might working his purposes in and through our circumstances, irrespective, of Satan’s wicked devices and man’s evil intentions. You and I can be thankful for the Lord by his sovereignty is working his appointment in the midst of our disappointments. My life and yours has meaning, purpose, and divine direction. The bad breaks in life when submitted to God can bring spiritual growth and intimacy with Jesus. Indeed, God is in control.

He is not a God of confusion, of discordance, of accidental, random, private courses in the execution of His will, but of determinate, regulated, prescribed action.

John Henry Newman, “Sermon 11: Order, the Witness and Instrument of Unity,” Sermons Preached on Various Occasions

I Am Not in the Hands of Men

 

[God’s] rule is everlasting, and his kingdom is eternal.

All the people of the earth are nothing compared to him.

He does as he pleases among the angels of heaven and among the people of the earth.

No one can stop him or say to him, ‘What do you mean by doing these things?’

Dan. 4:34b-35 NLT

Trusting God is a challenge even for the most mature believer when our lives are turned upside down by situations that surprise us with deep pain and stun us with their sudden brutality  The Bible encourages us that God is there in the pain, he is acting, and he is loving. Our circumstances scream that he has forgotten us and does not care, but scripture assures us that we are not in the hands of men, but God’s hand is there, there in our pain. By the Cross of Christ, we know that God has experienced our suffering. By the promises of God, we know that we are held in the palm of his hand.

For how many a soldier in a concentration camp, weak with hunger and smarting under the whip of the torturers; for how many a person huddling in the last extremity of ghastly dread in a bomb shelter; for how many on the endless gray road of a refugee trek was it not the great experience suddenly to know: I am not in the hands of men, despite everything to the contrary; another hand, a higher hand is governing in the midst of all man’s madness and canceling all the logic of my calculations and all the images of my anxious sick imagination?

I am being led to the undreamed-of shore, the harbor, the Father’s house. And always when things grow dark, suddenly that marvelous helping hand is there. If there is anything that is really bombproof, then it is this, that God is there . . . “

Helmut Thielicke, The Waiting Father, trans., Robert Doberstein (New York: Harper & Row, 1959), 36. [paragraphing mine]

HT: Ray Ortlund

Experiencing the Depths of Jesus Christ


And God sent me before you to preserve for you a remnant on earth, and to keep alive for you many survivors. So it was not you who sent me here, but God.

Gen. 45:4-8

In a recent post, we discussed choices: reacting or responding (Heb. 12:14-15). Reacting is being angry at our circumstances, frustrated with people, and despondent at not getting our way (James 1:20). Responding is seeing the bigger picture: God has an appointment in our disappointment. It is not God’s will that people sin, but when God allows their sin to touch our lives, then their actions have become God’s will for us (2 Cor. 4:7-12).

To grow deeper in our relationship with the Lord, we must have a yielded will: a willingness to allow God to use our trials and tribulations anyway he wants in order to produce the life of Christ in us (Phil 1:29, 3:10). We must trust that in God’s sovereign purposes, he is using selfish people, hard places, and broken things to give us our heart’s desire: Christlikeness (Rom. 8:17). We must believe that God has an appointment in our disappointment.

To penetrate deeper in the experience of Jesus Christ, it is required that you begin to abandon your whole existence, giving it up to God. . . . You must utterly believe that the circumstances of your life, that is, every minute of your life, as well as the whole course of your life-anything, yes, everything that happens-have all come to you by His will and by His permission. You must utterly believe that everything that has happened to you is from God and is exactly what you need.

Jeanne Guyon, Experiencing the Depths of Jesus Christ (Gardiner, ME: Christian Books, 1975), 32.

Disappointment, His Appointment

On Responding to Disappointment

My suffering was good for me, for it taught me to pay attention to your decrees.

Psalm 119:71 NLT

Our daily choice: react or respond to life’s unexpected setbacks and mind-boggling disappointments (Heb. 12:14-15). Reacting is being angry at our circumstances, frustrated with people, and despondent at not getting our way (James 1:20).

Responding sees the bigger picture: God has an appointment in our disappointment. It is not God’s will that people sin, but when God allows their sin to touch our lives, then their actions have become God’s will for us (2 Cor. 4:7-12). To grow deeper in our relationship with the Lord, we must have a yielded heart: a willingness to allow God to use our trials and tribulations to produce the life of Christ in us (Phil 1:293:10). In order to grow spiritually, we trust God’s sovereign purposes. He is using selfish people, hard places, and broken things to give us our heart’s desire: genuine Christlikeness (Rom. 8:17).

Responding believes that our Heavenly Father has a divine appointment in the midst of our various trials and setbacks. It trusts God’s goodness knowing that God’s sovereign hand is operating in and through the baffling and trying times of life.

We may not understand “why,” but we choose to trust our Heavenly Father who is good, loving, and gracious. We believe that the Father has our best in mind and is not rejecting us by allowing various difficulties in our lives (Heb. 12:7-12).

Responding comes forth from a thankful heart drawing us into the Holy Spirit’s wellspring of grace (Heb. 12:14-15). Responding says “yes” to God and looks for opportunities to grow in our intimate love relationship with Christ. In short, responding is confident that God has an appointment in our disappointment.

 

Disappointment, His Appointment

 

Disappointment-His appointment, change one letter

Then I see, that the thwarting of my purpose is God’s better choice for me.

His appointment must be blessing, though it may come in disguise.

For the end from the beginning, open to his wisdom lies.

 

Disappointment-His appointment, whose?

The Lord’s who loves me best,

Understands and knows me fully, Who my faith and love would test.

For like loving, earthly parent,

He rejoices when He knows,

That his child accepts unquestioned all that from His wisdom flows.

 

Disappointment-His appointment,

No good thing will He withhold, from denials oft we gather,

Treasures of His love untold,

Well He knows each broken purpose leads to fuller deeper trust,

And the end of all His dealings, proves our God is wise and just.

 

Disappointment-His appointment,

Lord, I take it then as such,

Like the clay in hands of potter yielding wholly to Thy touch.

All my life’s plan is Thy molding, not one single choice be mine,

Let me answer unrepining Father not my will but THINE.

Lyrics: Anonymous

Made popular by Phil Keaggy

Album: “Love Broke Thru”


Causing God’s Heart to Beat Faster

Blessing God With a Thankful Heart

You have ravished my heart, My sister, my spouse;

You have ravished my heart, With one look of your eyes.

Songs 4:9 NKJV

When we look to Christ in faith and trust his goodness in the midst of our disappointing and perplexing circumstances, we bless God’s heart. When we are genuinely thankful “in” and “for” all things, we cause his heart to beat faster (1 Thess. 5:16-18, Eph. 5:20). When we see God’s appointment in the midst of our disappointments and say, “Thank you God, ” we bring joy to our heavenly Father.  A thankful heart trusts God’s goodness irrespective of whether we understand our on-going tribulations and persistent trials. A thankful heart knows that the Cross has conquered this fallen world and that our troubles are small compared to Christ’s great suffering on Calvary’s tree.

Jesus is moved to happiness every time He sees that you appreciate what He has done for you. Grip His pierced hand and say to Him, “I thank Thee, Saviour, because Thou has died for me.” Thank Him likewise for all the other blessings He has showered upon you from day to day. It brings joy to Jesus.

Ole Hallesby, Prayer (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1994).

We ought to give thanks for all fortune: if it is good, because it is good, if bad, because it works in us patience, humility and the contempt of this world and the hope of our eternal country.

C. S. Lewis cited in The Quotable Lewis, edited by Wayne Martindale and Jerry Root (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House, 1989), 579.

Is God Really in Control?

The Sovereignty of God

I (Job) know that you (God) can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted.

Job 42:2

God’s sovereignty is the biblical truth that God is the King and legal authority over all his creation. God reigns and nothing is a surprise to him, nothing is by chance, and nothing is beyond his purpose and workings. The fact that God is sovereign brings me great peace: my life is not just a series of random events and lucky breaks. My life and yours has meaning, purpose, and divine direction.  Even the bad breaks in life when submitted to God can bring spiritual growth and intimacy with God. The sovereignty of God is his powerful might working his purposes in and through our circumstances, irrespective, of Satan’s wicked devices and man’s evil intentions. You and I can be thankful for the Lord by his sovereignty is working his appointment in the midst of our disappointments. God is in control.

Exodus 4:11; Lam. 3:38; Eccles.  7:14; Gen. 45:5-8

Nothing is a surprise to God; nothing is a setback to His plans; nothing can thwart His purposes; and nothing is beyond His control. His sovereignty is absolute. Everything that happens is uniquely ordained by God. Sovereignty is a weighty thing to ascribe to the nature and character of God. Yet if He were not sovereign, He would not be God. The Bible is clear that God is in control of everything that happens.

Joni Eareckson Tada, Is God Really in Control, Joni and Friends, 1987, 1. www.joniandfriends.org [HT: Grace Gems]

God in His love always wills what is best for us. In His wisdom He always knows what is best, and in His sovereignty He has the power to bring it about.

Jerry Bridges, Trusting God: Even When Life Hurts (Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress, 1988), 17.

God Doesn’t Have a Deadline

God Never Hurries

He will not let your foot slip —

he who watches over you will not slumber;

indeed, he who watches over Israel

will neither slumber nor sleep.

Psa. 121:3-4 NIV

As a pastor, I feel like all the books that I own are half-read. My time is constrained. I read diligently for sermon preparation each week. As a canon theologian, I need to do theological research for denominational papers and essays. Also, I develop Bible studies as needed for Wednesday and Sunday nights. I am constantly looking to various resources for help in teaching and studying the Bible. I start a book to educate myself on a particular subject, but cannot finish the book for the need to move on to the next topic of inquiry.

Lately, I have decided on a new goal. Presently, I am not teaching St. Michael’s Seminary. So, I have some time for reading that I have not had over the last five years. Therefore, I have decided to make time and attempt to finish some books. Books that I, and others, consider classics. Books that have passed the test of time and devotionally inspire me to greater love of Christ. I am starting with A.W. Tozer’s The Knowledge of the Holy.

The Knowledge of the Holy is an extended meditation on the attributes of God. Each chapter focuses on a particular quality of God’s character, nature, and being. The book sounds abstract, but each chapter is written as an act of worship drawing the reader into a sweeter, more intimate love relationship with the Blessed Trinity. Tozer wrote the book out of concern for the Evangelical church. If we have a mistaken understanding of God: our conduct, choices, and actions will result in poor judgments, flawed decisions, and immoral behavior.

A right conception of God is basic not only to systematic theology but to practical Christian living as well. It is to worship what the foundation is to the temple; where it is inadequate or out of plumb the whole structure must sooner or later collapse. I believe there is scarcely an error in doctrine or a failure in applying Christian ethics that cannot be traced finally to imperfect and ignoble thoughts about God (pg. 10).

Today, I completed chapter eight on God’s infinitude. For God to be infinite means that he is inconceivably great. God has no limitation and nothing externally can determine his choices. Time is an externality that making constant demands on us, but not God. Time takes a great toll on our lives: it attempts to pressure us into making impulsive decisions. Time forces deadlines and makes us feel inadequate, insufficient, and overwhelmed. However, God is not limited by time’s constraints: he is limitless and endless. God is not shaken by deadlines: he has all the time in the world.

Jesus Christ is fully God, he lives in us by the presence of the Holy Spirit, and as he lives in us, he will not be intimidated by deadlines. Therefore, we should never be panicked, under the gun, or anxious as a result of a deadline. The God who is infinite is in control of our personal lives. God is above deadlines, and therefore, we can be free from their anxious and worrisome producing demands.

How completely satisfying to turn from our limitations to a God who has none.

Eternal years lie in His heart. For Him time does not pass, it remains; and those who are in Christ share with Him all the riches of limitless time and endless years. God never hurries. There are no deadlines against which He must work. Only to know this is to quiet our spirits and relax our nerves. For those out of Christ, time is a devouring beast; before the sons of the new creation time crouches and purrs and licks their hands. The foe of the old human race becomes the friend of the new, and the stars in their courses fight for the man God delights to honor. This we may learn from the divine infinitude.

A. W. Tozer, The Knowledge of the Holy (San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1961), 52.