A Direct line to God

chord In the toilets at Marjon University they have an emergency red cord and most likely that’s been pulled enough times for someone to put a note on it saying: “Emergency Assistance Cord“. I.E dont pull it unless it is an emergency.

But someone has written above it “A direct like to God“. It made me smile. They saw this red cord and for a laugh wrote this.

Sometimes prayer feels a bit like an emergency line to God.

It is like divine panic button. Call God only in an emergency.

It can feel like that in the christian life. Days and days go by and all is hunky dory, the sun is shining and life seems beautiful. There feels no need for God. No need to speak to him or include him. I am fine thank you – I don’t need you right now.

This isn’t an emergency so I wont pull the red cord.

Not until I get to the point where I suddenly have to find accommodation for my relay worker or my bus is late and therefore I am late for an important meeting or a crises pops up and I think: I need to pray! This is an emergency.

When I read that sign, I laughed. But I also thought; this is how I often see God. My personal 999 operator. Where he will answer with: “what is your emergency?“. From this its easy to think that God only wants to listen to the big, important stuff and if I told him about my worries or even my joys he will respond with “Why are you wasting my time? This isn’t an emergency“.

My view of God in this is twisted. Because God isn’t like this. Our trinitarian God isn’t like this.

I do have a direct line to God. But not just for emergencies. I have one through Jesus Christ by the Spirit:

Hebrews 7v25 – Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them.

Romans 8:34 Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.

I love this. I love that Jesus is ALWAYS interceding for us. I love that Jesus prays for us as we see in John 17. I love that the spirit cries Abba Father on our behalf. Jesus brings us to the Father, he intercedes for us. Without him we could never of gone to the father, we would have been like the Israelites not being able to go near the mountain because we would die.

We are carried on Christ’s heart to the Father. A Father who loves us. This direct line that we have to God is a line that is carried by Jesus to the Father through the Spirit. And he wants to hear our hearts and our worries. Not just big emergency stuff, although that too. But also everyday stuff. Worries, anxieties, jobs next year, healing for my friend, good results, getting to work safely, good relationships at work, good conversations and whatever else faces us in the day.

Sometimes people may think we shouldnt be so quick to bring our problems to God. We shouldn’t be so quick to ask for healings or an ease to our suffering or help in our day. That we shouldn’t bring things that may seem trivial. That we should sweat it out a bit. But I am not up for that.

If we have a Father in heaven who wants to hear us. A Son who ALWAYS interceded for us carrying us to the Father on his heart and a Spirit that helps us and cries Abba Father to the Father. Then I want in on that. It makes me want to pray about everything. I want to thank God for everything. If God is Tri-unity of love and invites me in on that – then I want in.

Why? Because I am deluding myself in thinking that I can manage on my own or do perfectly well without God. I am wrong in thinking that God is only interested in certain prayers. It is all lies. Sometimes lies of the enemy. Sometimes lies I buy into because I forget the Gospel.

Some people may say – you can’t just ask God for things all the time.

And I wonder – why not? I don’t mean to demand things from God or treat him like a jackpot machine. But why not come to him like a child comes to the Father and ask for help? Or bring my worries? And also thank him for being great? Why can’t I do that all the time? Isn’t that what a loving Father wants? Isn’t that what Jesus is doing already on my behalf?

My heart needs to remember this. And this is a preach to myself more than anything else.

But I do have a direct line to God. But not a red emergency cord. I have a person who carries me on their heart all the time and another person who cries out Abba Father and a Father who hears this and delights in this and never tires from this.

I really want in on that!

Can we know God?

solitudeI read a sad article today. An article written here.

A question is behind this: Can we know God? The writer of the article says no, he says “The more you claim to know God and attempt to delineate his nature the less likely you are to have hit the bull’s eye.”

He goes on to say: “Faith is not the progressive unearthing of God’s nature but a recognition that he/she is fundamentally unknowable. The signpost points not to growing certainty but towards increasing non-knowing.”

It saddens me because if this were true, if God is indeed unknowable then all of us are in trouble. An unknowable God does not speak into or indeed to his creation (Genesis v3) or walks among them (Genesis 3v8) or dies for them at the cross (Mark 15v33-39). An unknowable God doesn’t adopt us as sons to the Father (Galatians 4v1-7) or betroths us to the Son (Hosea 2v19-20). He doesn’t sing over us (Zephaniah 3:17) or warms our heart with his tender mercy (Luke1v78). Instead we are left outside, cold and very alone.

We can do as David Bryant advises: Is anything left or does this destroy the very fabric of spirituality? What remains is a Quakerlike silence during which we can respond to the numinous, develop our perceptions, hone our morality and enhance our wonder at the staggering complexity of the universe.

It sounds modern, inclusive and quite pleasant. Keep God unknown and then I don’t have to seek him, I can instead find my own path. But this silence will eventually erode you and keep you lost forever. This silence feels very lonely and I don’t think the universe is shouting any answers back.

Instead there is better news than this: come and meet the God that is revealed to us. Come and meet Jesus who reveals the Father to us. For he is:

He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.
(Colossians 1:15 ESV)

He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high,
(Hebrews 1:3 ESV)

Can we know God? Yes through Jesus Christ. Jesus reveals to us who the Father is:

No-one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal Him.(Matthew 11v27).

What a glorious verse! Come and know the Father because the Son has revealed him to us! Come to Jesus and you will know God. My friends, God is not unknown – the Trinitarian God has been revealed and has pierced this world with his everlasting light so that you no longer have to sit in darkness. Faith is not saying that God is unknown, Faith is receiving what Christ has done for you and believing that he is truly God and truly reveals the Father to us.

Bryant says: “If we envisage God as a person clothed with epithets such as powerful, loving, just, fear-inspiring and omnipotent we are creating a manmade image.”

And yet God chooses to come to us as a baby, which is what the Christmas story is all about. And through being fully human and fully God he shows us who the Father is and what he is like. And he is powerful, loving and just. Believe me you wouldn’t want a different God. The Trinitarian God that is revealed to us through Jesus Christ which we can read in scripture and it is good news and better news than an unknown God.

Calvin says: “For God would have remained hidden afar off if Christ’s splendour had not beamed upon us.”

But if God is unknown to you. Then come to Jesus. You could sit in silence and search for the hero inside yourself or cry out to the vacuum universe for answers of “who am I?” Or instead you can come to Jesus.

Come to him who holds the universe in the palm of his hand, who says to you that he will carry your burden, who will be a light in your darkness and who will give you his identity and the Father will proclaim over you “I am well pleased”. My prayer is that David Bryant and all who may agree with his article will come to Jesus, come and know him and drink deep out of his living water because then they will know God and God will no longer be unknown to them but revealed and found so beautiful.

Bruised Reed: Love of the Father

As a Christian there can be times of great emotional hurt, where we may feel like we are being engulfed in a great darkness or feeling downcast and tired, and in those times we often forget who we truly are and who God truly is. We get clouded by our struggles and hurt which becomes a dense fog to us and we cannot see beyond it. Yet to survive we must remember the great truth of Christ. We must come back to Him and be reminded of his sweet tender words, his sweet Gospel.

And to be honest that does come down to how we view God. How do you see God honestly?

Is God a harsh mean being, distant and demanding? Is God a tyrant Father hiding behind meek and mild Jesus? If that is how you see God, then I appeal that you look again, and look at Christ. And He says this of his Father:

“Father… you loved me before the foundation of the world.” John 17:24

God is a wonderful Father, loving his Son through the Spirit through all eternity, before the creation of the earth and forever more. The Father pours his love on His son and is greatly pleased with him. And so Sibbes writes:

“And what comfort is this, that, seeing God’s love rests on Christ, as well pleased with us, if we be in Christ” (pg 2)

Sibbes is saying that it is a great comfort to know that the Fathers love rests on Christ because that means his love rests on us and he is well pleased with us if we be in Christ.

Just as Galatians 4:6-7 says:

“And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God.”

So, do you know who you are? According to this you are a Child of God! You are a Son (don’t get hung up on the gender, you are also a Bride – it’s about a Father loving his Son and we are adopted as Sons in Christ and we are also Christ’s Bride, all to signify the relationship we have with our triune God) And as adopted children you have the Spirit in you and He cries for you: “Father…Daddy”

And if you are in Christ as adopted Childern and the love of the Father rests on Christ, then his glorious overflowing love rests on you because you are his child. The Father loves you greatly – do you know that in your heart?

Therefore Sibbes goes on to say:

“Let us, therefore, embrace Christ, and in him Gods love, and build our faith safely on such a Saviour that is furnished with so high a commission” (pg2)

It is to easy and wrong to think that the Father is some tyrant hiding behind gentle Jesus. We need to change the focus – the Father is well pleased with us because of Christ. You are a child of the loving Father, you only need to embrace Christ and you become an heir and with that you have all things and most of all you have the Father’s love.

This really comforts me! The language is so rich here – “embrace Christ and in him Gods love”. Embrace Christ fully and feel Gods love and know Gods love and know that he is pleased with you. This comfort should grip our hearts in times of self-doubt, feeling low and comparing ourselves with others, because we can remind our hearts of the love of God towards us and our status in Him – it is a geat comfort! Thats an amazing foundation to build upon and it never changes. We only need to come to Christ to receive that –

“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” – Matthew 11:28

Come and embrace Christ. When you do, you will not find wrath or a telling off. But you will find comfort and tender words from a loving Father that pours his love on his Son and therefore pours his love on you.

My Rock and My Redeemer

I am a real fan of Sojourn Music and this song is just very heart warming especially when we are feeling weary this time of year its good to hear the gospel sung to us. Have a listen and the lyrics are below:

All I feel is broken, and weary to the bone
I’ve given up the fight and found I have no strength to carry on
Let me run to you, Draw me close and hold me tight
Be the strength that I don’t have, And in my weakness shine

You are my Rock and my Redeemer
My Refuge sure and strong, My faithful loving Father
You are my Shelter in the storm

I find myself a captive, Of the same old tired lies
The ones that say I’m hopeless, Not even worth a try
Let your truth run through me, Set me free I know you can
Take my soul, make me whole, To seek your face again

Teach me Lord to trust You, Instead of my own strength
To find my worth in Your love alone. And my hope within your grace.

Big God or Personal God?

How we view God is very important. There are many videos such as “indescribable” or “how great is our God” that show us the greatness of God and I quite enjoy those videos, they show something of the bigness and majesty of our God. However if you have ever listened to the Transformission talks by Reeves, you may see that he says something quite different and shows us the most personal, tender God in the trinity, unfolding the beautiful dance of the Father, Son and Spirit.

On one level with those videos and as well as sermons that show us the greatness and bigness of God are in some ways right. God is most holy and majestic. He is creator and Lord. But to just stop there and ponder on that, leaves us feeling very small and wondering who this God is? because just from that description, I could be talking about Allah…?

Yet when we read the bible, it doesn’t leave us with just a Big God, all-powerful and mighty. Even from Genesis we see the Lord walking in Garden, we see the Lord eating with Abraham, we see the Lord wrestling with Jacob… The Lord comes down and is with his people, eating, walking and talking with his people. The is not just a “Big God”, this is a God who is trinity and a person of the trinity, who reveals the Father to us, from the start of Genesis is interacting with his people.

If God was just left to “big God” to worship because he is all-powerful and holy, it doesn’t give me much motivation nor joy to worship Him. But when I see God, the trinity – interacting with creation, the Father loving his people – sending his son to die for us, covering us with his blood, eating with us, hurting with us… then that moves me. I see a God who is personal and a God who wants to listen to me and who is relational within the trinity.

We must be clear about which God we are talking about. As I said before, if we leave God as just “Big God” instead of saying Jesus, who reveals the Father to us – then we could be talking about any “god”. It also implies that God is just One person – big and mighty God!  But he isn’t one person, he is trinity and we slip far too often into thinking God as big one person entity then God in three persons. So, talking about Jesus is far better, Jesus who is our bridegroom loves us so much and the Father has been fighting to save his people and prepare a bride for his Son and the Spirit has been softening hearts and revealing Christ to us. As Reeves mentioned in his talk – (paraphrased) is that God is Love and through his love he shows his strength and his might and his holiness as he fights for us and dies for us and covers us. But that’s not cos he is huge, but because he is relational, because he is love, because he is trinity.

See where you fit in? Not shrinking before God. But being invited in as adopted sons, as the bride and being invited into a feast and having a relationship with Jesus, who is our God.

Jesus shows us the face of God

I have just read a wonderful quote from Glen’s blog and I just HAVE to share it with you because it’s just beautiful and I don’t believe it’s just new testament stuff, it’s the whole of the bible from the Lord walking in the garden in Genesis and from Moses talking to the Lord face to face in Exodus to the incarnate Lord walking with his disciples. Jesus shows us the face of God. (Please do check out his blog and the full sermon that this quote comes from):

As Christians—as followers of the Lord Jesus—when we talk about God, we are talking about one who has entered into the very fabric of our world, who has come as close to us as we are to ourselves, a God who has become incarnate. When we talk about God, ultimately, we are always talking about Jesus. For the God of the gospel is the God who has come among us in Jesus of Nazareth.  We believe in God because of Jesus.

Jesus is the one who showed us the face of God—Jesus shows us the truth of God, Jesus shows us the love of God.  Jesus is God’s smile beaming at us out of the depths of eternity.  Jesus is God’s love wrapping around us, seizing us and not letting us go.  Jesus is God’s grace, reaching into the darkest and most shameful dimensions of our experience.  Jesus is God’s healing, binding up the wounded.  Jesus is God’s goodness, in a world full of chaos and disaster and catastrophe.  Jesus is God’s great strength for the weak.  Jesus is water for the thirsty, and when you drink that water you will never thirst again.  Jesus is bread for all those who are starved and hungry, famished for something good and something true.  Jesus shows us God.  He is not God’s explanation, he is not God’s argument, he is not God’s debate.  He is God’s simple, great, loving act, showing us, Here I am, here you are.  In Jesus, God shows us God.  That I believe, is the whole secret of the Christian faith.

Christ’s splendour beams upon us

Many people ask, “how can we know what God is like?” Or maybe more specifically how do we know what the Father is like? I have heard many people tell me that God is a mystery and we can never know what he like – which may in some part be true but also brings up many questions about other religions – perhaps they are all one side of the “god mountain” and they all lead to the same answer eventually… however that isn’t what we are told in scripture.

John 1:18 – “No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known. ”

The amazing truth is that we can know God, we can know the Father because Christ has made him known. If you want to know what the Father is like, then you need to look at Christ because the Father is revealed in his son.

Calvin says this –

“For God would have remained hidden afar off if Christ’s splendour had not beamed upon us.”

Christs splendour beams upon us, like the rays of the sun, revealing the Father to us. There is no mountain to go up, there are not many paths – there is just Christ. Without Christ, the Father would have been hidden from us! We cannot know God without Christ..

Calvin goes on to say –

“For this purpose the Father laid up with his only-begotten Son all that he had to reveal himself in Christ so that Christ, by communicating his Fathers benefits, might express the true image of his glory”

Jesus is the true image of the Father, which is shown in Colossians 1:15 – “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.”

This is not just true of the New Testament, but of the old Testament as well. How was the Father revealed? It must be through Christ, otherwise no one could have walked with God and know God if he was hidden from them.

Therefore it is bold for me to say that there is no point looking up some misty mountain or seeking other religions, or even going to some rustic church building to find God. If you want to know God, then come and know Christ and let the Fathers splendour, love, and mercy beam upon you through Christ. Then you will truly know the Father.