All-Knowing God … (January 2022 Update) 

If there is one attribute of God that I often wish I had it would be omniscience. My limited knowledge affects almost everything I do – especially my planning for the future. I have gotten pretty good at planning and anticipating what will happen. But I must admit that I am wrong far more often than I am right. What I often think will happen does not. And what I greatly desire to not happen, frequently does. 

Right now, we are faced with some monumental decisions as Russia seems poised to invade Ukraine (more on that below). Since Putin has annually made it look like he is planning an open attack on Ukraine but never followed through, it is hard to know if his latest threat is simply another attempt to gain some negotiating leverage, or if he is really planning to invade this time. If would be great to be able to know the future as we face major, life-affecting decisions in the coming days. To be all-knowing like God would be a tremendous advantage! 

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No Other Name … (December 2021 Update) 

“A rose by any other name would smell just as sweet.” That famous line from Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet captures a universal truth – what something is matters more than what something is called. But when we are thinking about Jesus, His name is more than just a name that He is called. His name signifies WHO He is as well as WHAT He does! The names of Jesus are unique and special. They convey meanings that remind us about the real meaning of Christmas. They tell us WHO Jesus is and WHY He came to us that first Christmas morning. 

In the first chapter of Matthew’s gospel, two of the names of the Messiah are given … Jesus and Emannuel. Both are essential to the Christmas message. He is Jesus – born to save His people from their sins. And He is Emannuel – God with us. Both names are essential. Jesus must have a human birth to be our savior. He must be one of us. But if He is just one of us, then He cannot save us. He must also be God to have a perfect, infinite righteousness able to cover all our sin. That’s why He is Emannuel – God with us. 

In Matthew 1:18-25, we can see three truths about the birth of Jesus. In verses 18-20, we can see His Special Birth. In verse 21, we see His Special Work. And in verses 22-25, we see His Special Person

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Thankfulness and Godliness … (November 2021 Update) 

Over the last couple of months, I have been participating in a study of Jerry Bridge’s Respectable Sins with a group of guys. It’s a great book! But this past week, we studied two chapters that I thought I would do fairly well with – ungodliness and unthankfulness. I tend to think of myself as a fairly “godly” person (in a humble way, of course) and I am usually very thankful for all that God gives me.  

But, as I read the chapters, I discovered that those two sins had become “respectable” for me too. Bridges defines “ungodliness” as a failure to recognize and depend on God at all times. I quickly realized that I usually recognize the Lord in spiritual matters but often leave Him out of my thinking in daily, regular issues and work. Ungodliness is not wickedness – but just failing to recognize God and depend on Him for everything. My previous assessment of my own godliness quickly crumbled to the ground. 

When I began the chapter on “Unthankfulness,” I felt more secure because I am very grateful for all the Lord gives me. In the first half of the chapter, I felt pretty good about being a thankful person as Bridges reminded us that we need to be thankful for all the Lord has given us. But … halfway through the chapter, Bridges switched from being thankful for what God has given us to being thankful whenever things do not turn out the way we want. Ouch! That hit home and I immediately saw that I needed to repent of my unthankfulness too. 

Godliness and Thankfulness go together. A godly person sees that he needs the Lord in every situation and learns to depend upon Him for everything. The ungodly live as though God does not exist – even if they believe that He does exist! The truly thankful person is not just grateful for the good things God gives. He recognizes that God is in every situation (godliness) and therefore he is able to give thanks even when things do not go according to his plans and wishes. A godly man is truly a thankful man. 

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The love of God is probably the one attribute that everyone likes to read about. But God’s love is not exactly the same as ours. We love because others love us. God loves us even while we were sinners. God loved us even before we loved Him! And His love is for us is what makes us special and valuable. Martin Luther once said, “God does not love us because we are valuable, But we are valuable because He loves us.” So, the love of God is a precious attribute for all believers to rejoice in! 

Let’s look at the attribute of loveFirst, 1 John 4:8 plainly says, “He who does not love does not know God, for God is love.” The love of God is not a sentimental love but is a love of passionate commitment to His creation. This love is WHO God is and all real love flows from Him. He is not only the supreme example of love; He is its source. 

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Our INDEPENDENT God … (September 2021 Update) 

Independence! 30 Years agoUkraine declared its independence from the USSR (August 24, 1991). And for 30 years, Ukraine has struggled to maintain that independence. The biggest struggle has been against many forms of Russian interference. Even in 1991, Russia recognized that Ukraine was the key to determining if the USSR would survive or not. The secession of Ukraine from the USSR ended any realistic chance of keeping the Soviet Union together. By December of 1991, Russia, Belarus and Ukraine had met to form a “Commonwealth of Independent States” to replace the USSR. Ukraine was officially independent and the USSR ceased to exist. 

But Ukraine still struggled to be really independent. Russian influence and pro-Russian politicians refused to allow Ukraine to experience real freedom. In 2004 (the Orange Revolution), massive protests against the rigged election of the pro-Russian candidate, Victor Yanukovych, led to more than 500,000 protestors camping in the main square from November to January until the election was restored to the pro-Ukrainian candidate, Victor Yushchenko. In November of 2013, after Yanukovych was “elected” again, he refused to keep his promise of moving toward relations with the EU. This prompted massive protests and violent battles between his pro-Russian government and the hundreds of thousands of pro-EU protesters between November (2013) and February (2014). After snipers shot and killed 100 protestors, Yanukovych fled the country and Russian troops captured Crimea and attempted to capture eastern Ukraine. With no army to protect itself, Ukrainian volunteers formed armies to protect Ukraine in the east, and people even gave donations at grocery stores for these volunteer armies until the government could raise funds to supply national army. Because of these selfless heroes, Ukraine was able to maintain its independence as a country. Now Ukraine is celebrating 30 years of independence! 

But, in reality, no country and no individual is completely independent. Every country depends to some degree on other countries and every individual is dependent on others. (Even the US exists today because other countries, especially France, helped the colonies in the Revolutionary War, and the current global pandemic has reminded us that we are all interconnected). We like to talk about our independence, but what we really mean is that we are mostly independent. In reality, we are all dependent to some degree. But that is not true when we speak about God and His independence. 

The Independence of God is one doctrine that we rarely speak about, but it is one of the most basic and foundational attributes of God. This doctrine is often called the aseity of God or sometimes called the simplicity of God or even the freedom of God. Regardless of which term is used, the attribute of the independence of God is essential to our confidence in God and our relationship to Him. 

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