The Glory Of His Goodness

Moses said, “Please show me your glory.”
19 And [God] said, “I will make all my goodness pass before you and will proclaim before you my name ‘The Lord.’ And I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy.

God’s glory is His goodness.

Have you ever thought about that?

Often, we think that God’s glory is a formidable, sometimes wrathful, bright light that overpowers us. But in Exodus, God refers to His own glory as His goodness. When I read the passage, I was left with a sense of awe and wonder. When we think of God as glorious, have we ever thought of it as His goodness? He is glorious because of His characteristics – not only is He good, but he is also gracious and merciful.

These things make Him glorious, and it makes me love Him even more because I realise that above all, God is good; He is goodness; He is glorious.

But God

Written by Kate Connor

God is surprising. Which is strange, since He’s also the same yesterday, today, and forever.

I think the reason that God is so surprising to me is because a creature as flighty and unfaithful as myself cannot comprehend that kind of constancy.

At my very best – my most gracious, magnanimous, disciplined, and most faithful, I still find the persisting goodness of God INCOMPREHENSIBLE. How could anything be so unyielding? Everything bends under the right conditions: granite, titanium, diamonds.

But not God.

This is why, no matter how many times I hear it, the gospel still makes my heart beat fast. My breath still catches in my chest. I still cry all the time.

Because, really? Still?

It’s too sweet. Too much love, too much mercy – it’s too good to be true – except it’s not.

And peppered throughout scripture are two little words that that point to this astonishing constancy of God – to His, as Sally Loyd-Jones writes, never-stopping, never giving up, unbreaking, always and forever love.

These two words make me lean forward in my seat –into the story. They make me whisper, “Oh! This is the good part.”

image7
They are the surprise I know is coming. Like the flips inside your belly when you free-fall on a roller coaster: you know it, you’ve felt it, you see it coming. But then IT IS, and it thrills you again, anew, every time.
“They refused to listen and failed to remember the miracles you performed among them. They became stiff-necked and in their rebellion appointed a leader in order to return to their slavery. But you are a forgiving God, gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love. Therefore you did not desert them.” Nehemiah 9:17

“Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” [Romans 5:7-8]

These words are carried through scripture, from start to finish, on the river of God’s mercy. They speak to both his immovability and to his great compassion. How improbable that those two qualities would coexist. But they do. But God. He is immovably compassionate.

“But God” means who He is and how He is is completely independent of who we are or how we are. Oh, you are a traitor? Adulterer? Murderer? Zealot? Racist? Christian-killer? BUT GOD.

God is the independent variable. You can change, tweak, and alter everything else – but not God. He is out of your league, literally. You can do or be whatever, fill-in-the-blank, but God.

“But God” means He can give grace lavishly because He gives it on His own terms. He loves us because He is loving, not because we are loveable. He loves us in spite of ourselves. I love the despite-ness of God.

Oh, we are rotten? But God. Oh, we were dead in our sins? But God. Oh, we are unfaithful? But God. Oh, we deserve death? But God.

“But God’s” punctuate my own life, marks of His hand, evidence of his care. My whole existence is a series of “This happened to me, but God. This is what I feared, but God. This is where I hurt, but God. This is what I did, but God.” I can’t imagine two more hope-filled words. They are full of promise. Because, no matter what horror or chaos or evil you are surviving, “BUT GOD.”

God is supreme and above and immovable. He is gracious and merciful and lavishly loving. Nothing is impossible for Him; nothing is too hard. He makes streams in the desert; He makes ways where there are no ways.

“All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved.” [Ephesians 2:3-5]

“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]

“Peter told them, “You know it is against our laws for a Jewish man to enter a Gentile home like this or to associate with you. But God has shown me that I should no longer think of anyone as impure or unclean.” [Acts 10:28]

“People were also bringing babies to Jesus for him to place his hands on them. When the disciples saw this, they rebuked them. But Jesus called the children to him and said, ‘Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.'” [Luke 18:15-16]

“My flesh and my heart fail; but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” [Psalm 73:26]

“Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” [Matthew 19:26]

“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” [Romans 6:23]

It should not surprise me, but it does. Every time. BUT GOD.

Written by Kate Connor, March 26, 2014

http://www.kateelizabethconner.com/blog/but-god

I do not own this.

The Importance Of Jesus’ Resurrection

This afternoon, I opened the door to a very interesting visitor.

I heard a knock and behold, who did I find but a Jehovah Witness giving out pamphlets for their special ‘Good Friday’ service!

‘Lots of people will be going’, she said as she handed me a pamphlet titled ‘Millions Will Attend – Will You?’ I politely took the pamphlet and set it on the table next to me. But curiosity got the better of me – I mean, I had never seen a JW pamphlet before, let alone been approached by one!

And as with all ‘interesting’ denominations, I scrutinised the pamphlet, looking for that one missing piece/fundamental flaw that made them JW, and me, a protestant.

And I found it – ‘You will learn how Jesus’ life and death can benefit you personally’.

Funny how there was no mention of Jesus’ resurrection, which should be no surprise because JW believe that Jesus was fully man, but not fully God.

Yet, it really made me think hard about Jesus’ resurrection. Isn’t it amazing, that the key to Christianity is Jesus and His resurrection? Yes, his death and sacrifice was immensely important, but it is the very fact that He overcame death that I can actually come to the Father justified and righteous? Who knew a JW pamphlet could make me more in awe of my belief in Jesus’ resurrection!

This idea reminded me of when I attended a Christianity Explored course (similar to the Alpha course) with a friend, and the question was asked ‘How do I know that God is real and that Christianity is the truth?’ The facilitator replied: ‘You can only know if it is true by looking at the empty tomb. Because if Jesus truly rose from the grave, then He is in fact God and God is in fact, real. And Christianity is the truth’.

So what was missing in the JW pamphlet/doctrine, was the very thing that brought me to Christ. In fact, it has brought millions to Christ. If Jesus had died for our sins and stayed dead, then it just means that the devil has won – and just like Jesus (assuming he died and never rose back to life), we will all die and never resurrect. If Jesus stayed dead, it means that God did not even have the power to raise His own righteous Son back to life. No resurrection, no hope.

So yes, as the JW pamphlet writes on the front page, ‘Millions Will Attend’. Yes, I will commemorate Good Friday. BUT, I will also be one of the millions celebrating Easter Sunday. Good Friday cannot start and end without Easter Sunday.

Besides, Friday-Sunday is after all, called the weekend 🙂

We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.
Romans 6:4 ESV

Life After Birth

In a mother’s womb were two babies. One asked the other: “Do you believe in life after delivery?” The other replied, “Why, of course. There has to be something after delivery. Maybe we are here to prepare ourselves for what we will be later.”
“Nonsense” said the first. “There is no life after delivery. What kind of life would that be?”

The second said, “I don’t know, but there will be more light than here. Maybe we will walk with our legs and eat from our mouths. Maybe we will have other senses that we can’t understand now.”

The first replied, “That is absurd. Walking is impossible. And eating with our mouths? Ridiculous! The umbilical cord supplies nutrition and everything we need. But the umbilical cord is so short. Life after delivery is to be logically excluded.”

The second insisted, “Well I think there is something and maybe it’s different than it is here. Maybe we won’t need this physical cord anymore.”

The first replied, “Nonsense. And moreover if there is life, then why has no one has ever come back from there? Delivery is the end of life, and in the after-delivery there is nothing but darkness and silence and oblivion. It takes us nowhere.”

“Well, I don’t know,” said the second, “but certainly we will meet Mother and she will take care of us.”

The first replied “Mother? You actually believe in Mother? That’s laughable. If Mother exists then where is She now?”

The second said, “She is all around us. We are surrounded by her. We are of Her. It is in Her that we live. Without Her this world would not and could not exist.”

Said the first: “Well I don’t see Her, so it is only logical that She doesn’t exist.”

To which the second replied, “Sometimes, when you’re in silence and you focus and you really listen, you can perceive Her presence, and you can hear Her loving voice, calling down from above.” – Útmutató a Léleknek

Spiritual Strength

Prayer for Spiritual Strength

14 For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, 15 from whom every family[c] in heaven and on earth is named, 16 that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19 and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

20 Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

Here we are in the book of Ephesians. Paul has been imprisoned and from his letter to the Ephesians, we can tell that the church in Ephesus is obviously distressed.

Yet, Paul writes in Eph 3:14-21, that the root of spiritual strength is understanding the character of God and all the blessings He has given. He prays that we would be strengthened by the Spirit to understand how much God loves us. Gaining strength is knowing that God is a God of love, and remembering Christ’s sacrifice of love at the cross.

The church in Ephesus was told not to be disheartened even though Paul was in prison. The main church leader had been imprisoned, and it seemed to them that they would be aimless, lost and hopeless. Yet, Paul turns their focus towards Jesus – Jesus is the centre of everything and His love is the root of Christianity.

For what is physical imprisonment when you can know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, and are filled with all the fullness of God?

Therefore, may we be less disheartened about our suffering on earth. There is news all around about persecution of the Christians, but when we focus on Jesus, we remember that victory is ours already, and the God of love will strengthen us in our time of need.

思想 – Si Xiang

Last night at iClub as we were reading 1 Peter 3:18 –

18 For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit

A Masters student from China came up to me and said, ‘I still cannot understand the 思想 (concept) of grace. This whole idea of Christianity is so new and unfamiliar to me.’ The idea that one man can take the whole sins of the world upon him. It’s like going to court for a crime, and your friend, who did nothing wrong, comes in to take your place, so that you can walk out free. No catch, no chains, no guilt. All grace.

He used this word –

思想

And this word made me linger. Christianity is a paradigm shift. It’s a new mindset, a revolutionary thinking.

Jesus Heals The Paralytic

Jesus Heals a Paralytic

Mark 2:1-12
And when he returned to Capernaum after some days, it was reported that he was at home.
And many were gathered together, so that there was no more room, not even at the door. And he was preaching the word to them. And they came, bringing to him a paralytic carried by four men. And when they could not get near him because of the crowd, they removed the roof above him, and when they had made an opening, they let down the bed on which the paralytic lay. And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven.” Now some of the scribes were sitting there, questioning in their hearts, “Why does this man speak like that? He is blaspheming!Who can forgive sins but God alone?” And immediately Jesus, perceiving in his spirit that they thus questioned within themselves, said to them, “Why do you question these things in your hearts?Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise, take up your bed and walk’? 10 But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—he said to the paralytic— 11 “I say to you, rise, pick up your bed, and go home.” 12 And he rose and immediately picked up his bed and went out before them all, so that they were all amazed and glorified God, saying, “We never saw anything like this!”

jesus-paralytic

Here Jesus is again, He is in a house, preaching the gospel and healing the sick. A paralytic is lowered from the roof of the house and he asks Jesus to heal Him. But before Jesus heals him of his paralysis, He first tells the man ‘Son, your sins are forgiven.’

‘What on earth was Jesus talking about?’ You may ask. Jesus’ words in verse 20 surprise, shock and insult. This man merely asked to walk, did Jesus have authority to heal him? It seems like Jesus was focussing on the wrong thing here – but was He really?

As we reflect on this passage, we realise a few things:

1. Jesus recognised humanity’s biggest problem

Jesus looked past this man’s physical deformity. He looked past his physical incapacity and found that sin was man’s biggest problem. He likens sin very much to a paralysis, because sin immobilises us; it prevents us from living up to our fullest potential. It is a disease, slowly killing us and robbing us from life. And Jesus recognises that. Deep in our hearts, we yearn for perfection, wholeness, purity. We aim to be a good, better or the best person we could ever be, but what exactly is that? We seem continuously frustrated that we can never attain such atonement on our own efforts.

The pharisees could not save the Jews. In the same way, doing good works cannot say you because what concept of ‘good’ are you referring to? From birth, we have been evil. Yet, Jesus sees this and says ‘I forgive you’. He recognises what we really need, and what we need is forgiveness for our sins. He rebukes the pharisees for looking purely at the rigid rules. Rather, he offers another way to heaven: believe in me and change the attitude of your heart.

2. Jesus preaches that Christianity is not a religion

When discussing this at iClub on Monday, I put out this question: ‘According to the religions in your home country, what do you need to do to become pure? In Christianity, all you need to do is ask and Jesus will forgive. How is this different to other religions?’

One spoke about how in Hinduism, there were many rules on what not to do. He observed that Christianity talks about the heart, the earnest, internal thoughts and attitude as opposed to the list of things to do in other religions.

You see, Jesus looks beyond your physical need and probes your heart. He sees what is wrong on the inside and he tells you that the only way to be saved is to change that heart. It is not about keeping the Sabbath, refraining from certain foods or doing certain things a specific number of times a day. These routines are nothing when compared to the attitude of your heart.

3. The healed paralytic took his bed with him

Every time I read this, I find it so interesting this man would bring his bed with him in verse 12. If I were healed, I would not want any memory of how I was once bound to the bed. This mat that I lay on for my whole life would be a traumatic memory of what life was life, and now I would want to look forward in life and start it anew. However, he chose to take his mat with him.

Why? Because he wanted to show others how Jesus had changed him. He wanted to show the ‘before and after’; he wanted to show people what he had been before he met Jesus. And that made me think about how I treated God when he performed a miracle. Many times we ask God for certain things/miracles, but when we get it, we completely forget what we were like before God helped. Unlike the healed paralytic, we tend to leave the mat behind and just move on with our lives.

This passage has been a recurrent one this week, and I just thought it would be nice to share a few of my thoughts.

Have a blessed Friday,
Izzy x