The Mysterious Work of God

“As you do not know the path of the wind, or how the body is formed in a mother’s womb, so you cannot understand the work of God, the Maker of all things.” (Ecclesiastes 11:5 NIV)

Every time I come to Ecclesiastes in my daily Bible reading, I am struck by its often depressing and fatalistic tone. God gave Solomon great wisdom with which he identified and recorded truths and insights about human nature and the world in which we we live that were far beyond people’s understanding at that time.

Since Solomon’s day, scientists and philosophers have discovered and continue to unveil many additional wonderfully complex truths about God’s creation and the ways of man. That reality was fully on display last year when a vaccine was developed in record time to attack an unprecedented pandemic that has uprooted our world and changed our lives in ways unimaginable at the start of 2020.

But we will never fully comprehend the work of God. Attempts to do so are destined for frustration. To accept that reality and trust those unknowable mysteries of life to an infinitely wise, loving, and sovereign God leads to a peace that surpasses all understanding (Philippians 4:17) – a peace that Solomon unfortunately had difficulty finding in his later years when he wrote Ecclesiastes. In 11:8 he writes, “However many years anyone may live, let them enjoy them all. But let them remember the days of darkness, for there will be many. Everything to come is meaningless.”

How grateful I am to know that everything to come is far from meaningless. In truth, it is “an eternal glory that far outweighs” any tribulations and uncertainties we will ever encounter in this life. (2 Corinthians 4:17)

      “Whatever may be the mysteries of life and death, there is one mystery which the cross of Christ reveals to us, and that is the infinite and absolute goodness of God. Let all the rest remain a mystery so long as the mystery of the cross of Christ gives us faith for all the rest.” – Charles Kingsley

A New Years Reflection

“Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” (2 Corinthians 4:16-18 NIV)

This seemed an appropriate verse to mark the end of a year that was full of trouble that seemed far from “light and momentary” for most of us. Who could have imagined the economic, political, and social havoc that a viral speck would wreak on our world when 2020 began?

I am grateful this morning for those who continue to fight on the frontlines in the battle against this pandemic that continues to rage as we enter a new year. I am also grateful for the vaccines that have given us hope for an end to it. But I am most grateful this morning for the eternal hope that I have in Christ Jesus “into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade.” (1 Peter 1:4) This is the living hope that will sustain us through whatever trials 2021 might bring.

As the sun sets on another year, my prayer for you is the one offered by Paul in his letter to the Colossians. May God “fill you with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding.” May you “live a life worthy of the Lord” and may you “please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and joyfully giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light.” (Col. 1:9-12 NIV)

If my posts in some small way assist you in that, may all glory be given to God, without whom I could write nothing of consequence.

Happy New Year to you all.

“I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” (Philippians 4:13 NIV)

The Word Became Flesh

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. … The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:1,14 NIV)

As Christmas draws near each year, I instinctively find myself drawn to John’s account of the Gospel. From his unique perspective as the self-described “disciple whom Jesus loved” (John 13:23), John understood better than anyone that the true meaning of Christmas reached far beyond the spectacle of the night Christ was born as detailed in the Gospel of Luke.

That precious babe lying in the manger was God incarnate – God in the flesh. During his short public ministry, with John by his side absorbing every word he spoke, Jesus showed us the Father and spoke to us the very words of God with a clarity and purity unmatched in all of Scripture.

Only through John do we hear Jesus tell Phillip, “Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. … The words I say to you I do not speak on my own authority. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work. Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me.”  (John 14:10-11 NIV)

That is the unparalleled message of Christmas – that Jesus came to show us our Heavenly Father – a message so uniquely and profoundly articulated by John with those memorable and poetic words, “And the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.”

I pray this Christmas you will ponder those words, treasure them in your heart, and reflect upon their implication for your life. Almighty God is now Immanuel, God with us. He walked with John in the flesh 2,000 years ago and to those of us who have welcomed him, he dwells within us still in the person of the Holy Spirit.

May you experience that reality and the power of His presence this Christmas as never before.

“Once in our world, a stable had something in it that was bigger than our whole world.” – C.S. Lewis

The Hope of Glory

By Julian Wells

“Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace.” (Romans 8:5-6 NIV)

I believe one of the greatest failings of the modern church is not emphasizing enough the work of the Holy Spirit in living the life we are called to live. We absolutely cannot live it successfully in our own strength. Preceding these verses in Chapter 8 of his letter to the Romans, Paul talked very candidly about his own struggles in that regard, confessing, “For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do- this I keep on doing.” (Romans 7:19 NIV)

Who among us has not nodded our head in affirmation when we read those words? More than any other New Testament writer, Paul spoke of the ongoing battle within each one of us between the flesh and the Spirit, addressing it again in his letter to the Galatians.

In both letters he makes it clear that the key to victory in that internal battle lies in the person of the Holy Spirit, writing in Galatians 5:16-17, “So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh.”

Upon confessing his struggles with the flesh in Romans 7, Paul mentions the Spirit no less than 21 times in Romans 8. And yet, sadly, in my experience, the one that Paul describes as “Christ in you, the hope of glory” in Colossians 1:27 is the most neglected person of the Trinity today. And his power lies untapped in the lives of far too many Christians.

Perhaps that explains why the impact of the church today falls so short of the standard set by those early believers who turned their world “upside down.” (Acts 17:6)

“If the Holy Spirit was withdrawn from the church today, 95 percent of what we do would go on and no one would know the difference. If the Holy Spirit had been withdrawn from the New Testament church, 95 percent of what they did would stop, and everybody would know the difference.” – A.W. Tozer

Grace Seasoned With Salt

By Julian Wells

“For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12 NIV)

God’s Word is a mirror to hold up against our lives and examine how closely our thoughts and attitudes reflect the heart of God. As we do so, his Spirit convicts us where we fall short and like a skilled surgeon, he begins to cut away those aspects of our character that are un-Christlike.

This will only happen when we take time to prayerfully and expectantly digest the Scriptures and incline our hearts to respond. 

But all too often we use God’s Word as a magnifying glass through which we judge everyone around us instead. And that rarely leads to anything that glorifies God or advances his kingdom. 

2 Timothy 2:23-24 wisely counsels us, “Don’t have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels. And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful.” (NIV)

In this day when social media impacts so many of our relationships, we would all be wise to heed Paul’s advice. (Especially around election season!)

“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone. (Colossians 4:6 NIV)