Belief in GOD or “god”?

He is the exact image of the invisible God, the firstborn of creation, the eternalIt was by Him that everything was created: the heavens, the earth, all things within and upon them, all things seen and unseen, thrones and dominions, spiritual powers and authorities. Every detail was crafted through His design, by His own hands, and for His purposes. He has always been! It is His hand that holds everything together.    Colossians 1:15-17

The concept of “god” is suitable for most, as many people say they believe in GOD or a “god” of some sort. The problem though, is this matter JESUS. JESUS presents an enormous dilemma for many, because belief in GOD requires belief in JESUS. The verses above state that JESUS is the exact image of the invisible GOD. He is GOD in flesh and bone – the perfect revelation of true deity. JESUS confirmed this when He said:

 “I and the Father are one.”    John 10:30

It is impossible to believe in and know GOD apart from JESUS. Whatever it is people stir up in their minds and make with their hands is not GOD. JESUS is GOD – in the fullest measure and most accurate image. Other so-called “gods” have all emerged through means of peoples’ imaginations and their manufacturing of idols. They are the result of someone’s personal effort and attempt to attain favor and receive blessings. These “gods” are now employed in a variety of religions and rituals around the world used to promote peace, health, happiness, and all sorts of self-improvements. But there is a problem with these made up, manufactured “gods”– they can’t do anything.

How foolish are those who manufacture idols.
    These prized objects are really worthless.
The people who worship idols don’t know this,
    so they are all put to shame.
Who but a fool would make his own god—
    an idol that cannot help him one bit?   Isaiah 44:9-10

You would think that people would consider some things about their “gods” – such as who invented them and where they were made?

The person who made the idol never stops to reflect,
    “Why, it’s just a block of wood!
I burned half of it for heat
    and used it to bake my bread and roast my meat.
How can the rest of it be a god?
    Should I bow down to worship a piece of wood?”
20 The poor, deluded fool feeds on ashes.
    He trusts something that can’t help him at all.
Yet he cannot bring himself to ask,
    “Is this idol that I’m holding in my hand a lie?”   Isaiah 44:19-20

What people need is a GOD who is something other than we are – a GOD who is bigger and better than us. We need a GOD who knows us and still loves us anyway. We need a GOD who is for us – for us to have His best in this life right now, and also forever in the life to come. We need JESUS. JESUS came for us. JESUS came to be with us. JESUS came to give us what we need, not necessarily what we want. JESUS came to save us from all the pain and trouble we inflict upon ourselves and others because of something called sin.

If you believe that Jesus is the Christ—that He is God’s Son and your Savior— then you are a child of God. And all who love the Father love His children too.  1 John 5:1

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GOD-FEARERS & FOOLS

The wisest and richest human being who ever walked this earth, King Solomon of Israel, said these things:

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction. Proverbs 1:7

That’s the whole story. Here now is my final conclusion: Fear God and obey his commands, for this is everyone’s duty.   Ecclesiastes 12:13

King Solomon’s father, King David, who is known as “a man after GOD’s own heart” and also a great leader and warrior, said this:

Fools say to themselves, “There is no God.” They sin and commit evil deeds; none of them does what is right.   Psalm 14:1

Thus, human beings who inhabit our planet can be broken down into pretty simple groups: We have males and females, and we have GOD-Fearers and Fools. The differences between males and females used to be as obvious and basic as anything can ever be, but even now that is being dissected, debated, and determined by high courts and science laboratories. So this post will focus on the main differences between GOD-Fearers and Fools:

  • GOD-Fearers acknowledge GOD as GOD and His Word (The Bible) as truth. They proclaim that He is the One, True, Triune GOD who is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; our Creator, Savior, and Sustainer of life.
  • Fools make up a god of their own by forming an image, fabricating a notion, or formulating a scheme within their own imagination.
  • GOD-Fearers attribute all that is good, right, beautiful, and true to GOD.
  • Fools give credit to Mother Nature, Father Time, Lady Luck, Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, and the Tooth Fairy – just to name a few.
  • GOD-Fearers admit dependence upon GOD, openly surrender control to Him, and yield their free will to His will.
  • Fools boast of their independence, strive for power, and force their will upon others.
  • GOD-Fearers accept that GOD is sovereign in all matters – the good, bad, and ugly, as well as life and death. They allow and invite GOD to work through all things for their good and His glory whether or not they agree with or understand why.
  • Fools panic, complain, and attempt to control and manipulate situations and circumstances in order to “fix” things and “avoid” all pain and strain, so they forfeit their opportunities to grow and develop through such happenings.
  • GOD-Fearers worship GOD. They give Him thanks and praise for who He is and for what He does.
  • Fools worship and praise the things GOD created – nature; people who are popular, powerful, and peculiar; and themselves.

So what group are you in – GOD-Fearers or Fools?

PEACE & HARMONY

I often wonder about the various countries and people groups who live in the Middle East and think: “What’s their deal anyway?”  “Why can’t these people find a way to get along with each other?” “How long are they going to keep this up and continue killing each other and destroying their lands?

Then I look at the Church. Not any particular local congregation, but the universal Church on earth. I believe it is fair to say that nothing on our planet is more conflicted, confusing, and combative; more divided, dissonant, and denominated than the Church.

What happened? Why is the Church like this? How did so many different synods, sects, classis’, cults, bodies, branches, orders, and movements come about and muddy up the simple GOOD NEWS message?

 

For Jesus said:

I’m praying not only for them but also for those who will believe in me because of them and their witness about me. The goal is for all of them to become one heart and mind – just as you, Father, are in me and I in you, so they might be one heart and mind with us. Then the world might believe that you, in fact, sent me. The same glory you gave me, I gave them, so they’ll be as unified and together as we are – I in them and you in me. Then they’ll be mature in this oneness, and give the godless world evidence that you’ve sent me and loved them in the same way you’ve loved me.    John 17:20-23 (The Message)

 

Paul wrote:

My brothers and sisters, some from Chloe’s household have informed me that there are quarrels among you. What I mean is this: One of you says, “I follow Paul”; another, “I follow Apollos”; another, “I follow Cephas”; still another, “I follow Christ.” Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Were you baptized in the name of Paul?    1 Corinthians 1:11-13 (NIV)

 

The GOOD NEWS message is clear… JESUS died on the cross and rose from the dead. 

The GOOD NEWS message is compelling… Believe on the LORD Jesus Christ and you will be saved! 

The GOOD NEWS message is complete… JESUS SAVES!

 

So how did the Church ever get so separated over JESUS?

So why hasn’t the Church listened to JESUS and become one in heart and mind?

So what is the Church going to do about it now?

 

This godless world is waiting for its witness.

HERE, not THERE

Here am I and the children whom the LORD has given me! We are signs and wonders in Israel from the LORD of hosts, who dwells in Mount Zion.

Isaiah 8:18

 I don’t want to split hairs here, but here is a little issue that I think is worth mentioning. Almost daily, I read and hear references to GOD as “He is there” and “He will always be there for you.” So I say to myself, “where is there?”

When it comes to GOD, there is no there, but only here.

The Son radiates GOD’s own glory and expresses the very character of GOD, and He sustains everything by the mighty power of His command.

Hebrews 1:3a

Our Creator and Sustainer is forever here.

Immanuel, GOD with us, is here with me, here with you, here with all people in all places right now.

GOD has been here, always will be here.  Here as Alpha. Here as Omega.

Here at the beginning; Here at the ending; Here through the in-betweens.

From here on out, try to catch and correct yourself and others, and always refer to GOD as being here with us, here with them…here, here!

WHO IS YAHWEH TO YOU?

All people are born with an intrinsic relationship with GOD, for He is someone to everyone, one way or another. As such, everybody has some level of accountability and responsibility to GOD and is without any excuse in this matter, for He designed, created, and sustains us. HE IS our source of life.

 

But the basic reality of God is plain enough. Open your eyes and there it is! By taking a long and thoughtful look at what God has created, people have always been able to see what their eyes as such can’t see: eternal power, for instance, and the mystery of his divine being. So nobody has a good excuse. What happened was this: People knew God perfectly well, but when they didn’t treat him like God, refusing to worship him, they trivialized themselves into silliness and confusion so that there was neither sense nor direction left in their lives. They pretended to know it all, but were illiterate regarding life. They traded the glory of God who holds the whole world in his hands for cheap figurines you can buy at any roadside stand.

So God said, in effect, “If that’s what you want, that’s what you get.” It wasn’t long before they were living in a pigpen, smeared with filth, filthy inside and out. And all this because they traded the true God for a fake god, and worshiped the god they made instead of the God who made them—the God we bless, the God who blesses us. Oh, yes!

Worse followed. Refusing to know God, they soon didn’t know how to be human either—women didn’t know how to be women, men didn’t know how to be men. Sexually confused, they abused and defiled one another, women with women, men with men—all lust, no love. And then they paid for it, oh, how they paid for it—emptied of God and love, godless and loveless wretches.     Romans 1:19-27  (The Message)

GOD is Yahweh, as this the name that He gave to Himself.

 

But Moses protested, “If I go to the people of Israel and tell them, ‘The God of your ancestors has sent me to you,’ they will ask me, ‘What is his name?’ Then what should I tell them?” God replied to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM. Say this to the people of Israel: I AM sent me to you.’” God also said to Moses, “Say this to the people of Israel: ‘Yahweh, the God of your ancestors – the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob – has sent me to you. This is my eternal name, my name to remember for all generations.’”  Exodus 3:13-15 (NLT)

 

Yahweh refers to Himself as “I AM”, we tell Him, “YOU ARE”, and when referring of Him to others we say “HE IS.” Yahweh is the one, true, Triune GOD, and Jesus, His Son, is the Messiah, the Savior of the world.

The basic question is then this: Who is Yahweh to you?

What is your relationship to Him? You get to choose. Do you feel close or far way from Him? To you believe you know Him and He knows you in a personal way? How do you approach Him – timidly, boldly, or not at all? How do you communicate with Him – formally, frequently, or never? What exactly is your level of intimacy with Yahweh?

 

HE IS Creator to all people – those of every tongue, tribe, group, and nation – whether or not they choose to acknowledge Him as such (including you).

HE IS is a god – one of many gods – for many groups who welcome and recognize a plethora of deities whom they invoke and appease in order to have their basic needs met.

HE IS God, in one variation to people of the Jewish and Islamic faiths as these recognize and worship the GOD of Abraham.

HE IS King to the nation of Israel, though not currently realized as such, as most Israelite’s today have rejected Jesus as their Messiah, but will one day find out that He is their true King of King’s and LORD or LORD’s.

HE IS is Messiah to millions of the Christian faith who have received His grace – the forgiveness of sins, and a new, eternal life through faith in Jesus’ death and resurrection.

 

So, Who is Yahweh to you?

 

If HE IS only the Creator to you, you may feel quite distant from Him and know very little about Him.

If HE IS only one of many little gods to you, you may feel confused by Him and don’t understand how to approach Him.

If HE IS God to you, but a misrepresentation of the GOD who HE IS because of a religion’s refusal to acknowledge Him as He has revealed Himself and related to the human race, you may feel alienated, and humiliated by Him and by the rest of the world.

If HE IS only King to you, you may fear His power and authority, but you limit Him as being responsible for only your provision and protection.

 

But if HE IS Messiah to you, this changes everything. If Yahweh is your Messiah, HE IS your one, true, triune GOD!

HE IS your loving and loyal Father who provides you with affirmation and approval.

HE IS your ever-present and empathetic Savior and Friend who provides you with assurance and acceptance.

HE IS your constant Helper and competent Counselor who provides you with assistance and advice.

 

Again, the question of the day:  WHO IS YAHWEH TO YOU?

HALF-BAKED, WITLESS, & CROOKED

Long ago, the prophet Hosea gave the people of Israel Yahweh’s message – pointing out the wickedness that had permeated every area and aspect of their lives and relationships.

He described them as:

worthless as a half-baked cake,

“My people of Israel mingle with godless foreigners, picking up their evil ways. Now they have become as worthless as a half-baked cake.” Hosea 7:8

 

like silly, witless doves,

“The people of Israel have become like silly, witless doves, first calling to Egypt, then flying to Assyria.” Hosea 7:11

 

and like a crooked bow that always misses its target,

“They look everywhere except to heaven, to the Most High. They are like a crooked bow that always misses its target.”   Hosea 7:16a

 

The people of our nation could easily be portrayed in these same ways today.

We are half-baked in having lost our direction, as we no longer consider GOD’s Word, The Bible, as our “True North” – as the ultimate truth that guides our thoughts and actions. We fail to build upon the sure, solid foundation of Jesus Christ – realizing that the salvation of lost souls is the greatest need in life to be met. Instead, everyone is doing what they consider to be right in his/her own eyes, and this is leading us into ever increasing chaos, confusion, and conflict.

We are witless in the fact that we have turned away from GOD and do not put our trust in Him as our provider and our protector. We reject, mock, and ignore Him, while relying upon our government and our own ingenuity. We foolishly attempt to live independently of Him, and it is only a matter of time until we will find out that nothing is more arrogant in all of life, than our refusal to worship the Holy, Almighty GOD who created us and the earth we inhabit.

We are crooked as we pursue evil rather than good, and stand for what is wrong over what is right. Greed, gluttony, and gossip roam unchecked amongst those us. The United States government and the Western church are two of the most divided, disjointed, and derisive institutions on the planet, and both are becoming more and more irrelevant in our society.

The United States is not Israel. We are not the chosen people of GOD. Still we can learn from their mistakes and avoid the consequences of our ways if we listen, trust, and obey.