In Your Presence

Being in the presence of Almighty God is amazing, and we’re all continually in His presence (He 13:7); there is no place or time where God’s not fully present (Ps 139:7) or His glory hidden. (Is 6:3)

We’re instinctively aware of His presence: we know He hears us as we pray, any time, anywhere. So, if we aren’t enjoying God it isn’t because He’s far away, it’s that we’re ignorant (Ep 4:18) and blind(2Ki 6:17)

It’s impossible to be physically separated from God, to create any space between Him and anyone else. Anyone who desires the infinite God is invited to continually enjoy His glory (2Co 3:18), basking in His immediate presence and feeding in His majesty, in unbroken fellowship with Him. (Ps 16:11) The question isn’t, “Where is God?” but “Where are we.” (Ge 3:9) Do we want Him?

We may think we do, that we’d simply love for Him to reveal Himself to us … but if we aren’t already enjoying Him all the time, cleaving to Himdelighting in His Law and rejoicing in Him every hour of the day, when He’s right beside us, in and through us (Ac 17:28) … if we aren’t avidly internalizing the written revelation in which He’s already revealing Himself (Col 3:16), continually hiding it in our hearts so we won’t offend Him (Ps 119:11), and systematically meditating on it so we’ll know Him (Ps 119:99), it should be obvious that we’re not after God Himself.

I think what most of us are really after is an image we’ve constructed of God in our own minds, an idol in every sense: we’re making a god up as we wish him to be, like ourselves: aloof, uncaring, capricious, unjust, hard to reach and connect with. But God isn’t like that: He’s anything but that.

Let’s face it: the problem isn’t God … it’s us. The problem isn’t finding God, it’s wanting Him. Being with God isn’t an option; no one will ever be separated from God, not now, not ever, not even in Hell. What makes Hell unbearable isn’t the absence of God, but His holy, terrifying, indignant presence, as He unveils His infinitely holy nature to the desperately wicked, who genuinely hate and despise Him, which is, evidently, almost everyone. (Ro 3:11)

We can choose to seek God (He 11:6) until He transforms us into beings who enjoy Him, drinking Him into our innermost being, or we can continue trying to hide, lurking in make-believe shadows, hating the light (Jn 3:19-20), as we did in the Garden in our primal father, Adam. (Ge 3:8) Either way, we’re all going to spend eternity with Him, and He’s spending eternity with each and every one of us, right now.

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Rejoice in the Lord

YHWH. Jehovah God. The infinite, unchanging (Ja 1:17), omniscient, omnipresent, omnipotent Creator. Matchless in beauty, infinite in wisdom and understanding (Ps 147:5), unwavering in truth. (Tit 1:2) He cannot learn; He cannot risk in hope: He knows.

Orion Nebula, Hubble

He inhabits eternity (Is 57:15), ever present in all places at every moment of time (2Pe 3:8), both within and beyond time and space, knowing all, pervading all, all powerful.

He made the stars (Ge 1:16), arranging them in countless, gigantic, spectacular galaxies, and calls them all by name (Ps 147:4) as they each uniquely proclaim His glory (Ps 19:1), His exquisite, eternal, infinite majesty. (Ps 96:6)

He is infinitely sovereign, in absolute control of everything all the time. (Da 4:35) He always works everything according to His own will. (Ep 1:11)

He’s relational, in Himself a flawless divine community (Ge 1:26), in perfect delight and harmony within Himself (Jn 17:5), needing nothing and no one (Ps 50:12), welcoming every sentient being to come to Him and enjoy Himself. (Re 22:17)

He’s created each of us uniquely in His own image (Ge 1:27) to express some nuance of the divine nature, giving us meaning, purpose and intrinsic value, loving us unconditionally (Jn 3:16) and individually. (Jn 13:1) Though we’re all born at enmity with Him (Ep 2:1), He’s reaching out to every one of us in the mystery of the gospel to reconcile us to Himself, regardless what we’ve thought or done. (2Co 5:19)

He has revealed Himself though perfect Law (Ps 19:7), a living expression of His love and justice (He 4:12) in the context of human brokenness (Mt 22:37-40), revealing and exposing as corrupt all that is contrary to His nature. (Ro 8:7)

He has also revealed Himself through His Son Jesus Christ, Himself the godhead incarnate. (Col 2:9) God Himself condescended to become one of His own creatures, one of us, to show us exactly what He’s like (Jn 14:9), willing to die for His enemies (Ro 5:10), enduring His own justice on our behalf, receiving us into His family and adopting us as His own (1Jn_3:1), if we would just be willing to receive Him. (Jn 1:12)

He’s perfectly just, no respecter of persons (Ac 10:34), and yet He’s infinitely merciful (Ps 103:17), benevolent and kind (Lk 6:35), even offering us the strength to obey Him if we’ll have it; He will never turn anyone away who’s diligently seeking Him (He 11:6), and will eternally terrify (2Co 5:11) all who won’t. (Mt 25:46)

He’s made many, many amazing promises (2Pe 1:4), and He’s never broken one. He’s perfectly faithful; He will never leave us nor forsake us. (He 13:5)

Regardless where I am, who I’m with, or what’s happening to me or around me, I can always rejoice in the eternal infinitude of God, beholding His beauty (Ps 27:4), feeding in His majesty, being delighted in, awed by and overcome with the perfection of His Way.

The almighty, eternal God repeatedly commands me to rejoice in Him, and to persist in this, always. (Php 4:4) He will have it no other way; He’s made me to exult in Him: enjoying God is the singular fuel of the human soul, joy unspeakable and full of glory. (1Pe 1:8)

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God Is Kind

God is good, benevolent and merciful to all (Ps 117:2), so it’s tempting to confuse answered prayer and temporal blessing with divine approval, thinking God’s kindness implies His validation. We may be like that, but not God.

God loves His enemies; He’s kind to the unthankful and to the evil (Lk 6:35), and often showers the wicked with earthly blessings and health. (Ps 73:3-7) In fact, God may often answer prayer that’s abominable to Himself. (Pr 28:9) There’s no strict correlation between God’s provision for us and His approval of us.

God knows how to deliver the godly out of temptations and to reserve the unjust until the day of judgment to be punished. (2Pe 2:9) By afflicting the righteous He teaches us His ways (Psa_119:67 71), so it would seem that one way He reserves the wicked for judgement is by blessing them and giving them what they want in this life.

If God is answering the prayers of the wicked we shouldn’t be envious (Ps 37:1-2), nor find satisfaction in Him paving their way to destruction. (Pr 24:17-18) God takes no pleasure in the ruin of the lost (Ez 33:11); we should be weeping for them (Php 3:18-19), esteeming others better than ourselves.

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Inhabiting Eternity

YHWH is eternal, having neither beginning nor end (He 7:3): He inhabits eternity. (Is 7:15) He’s outside time and space, being ever present in every moment of time, and continually abiding beyond the boundaries of time. (Jn_8:58)

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Butterfly Nebula

It’s difficult to fathom the nothing elseness of only God, when there was nothing but God … no time, no space, no light or dark … just the self-existent eternal Being. The instant of the beginning, the great I AM Who never began … created space and time, Earth and Heaven. (Ge 1:1) If we can say “before” this instant, when there was no space or time, the triune God was, and only God.

And as YHWH is ever present in every moment of time, in every place with everyone, He is spending eternity with you, and with me, in this very instant. For an infinite past, and an infinite future, God is experiencing you, and me, in each moment of our existence. This experience never began in God, and it will never end in Him.

As YHWH is infinite in His existence, He’s also infinitely infinite in every facet of His being, as He infinitely occupies all of space and time. He is infinitely beautiful, infinitely majestic, infinitely holy, infinitely just, infinitely wise, infinitely merciful, infinitely loving. He is infinitely perfect in an infinite number of ways … the ultimate expression of infinitude.

How does one not worship a timeless Being! Sit back in awe at One so majestic, so mysterious, so altogether immense and powerful! How can we doubt His wisdom, goodness or faithfulness? Getting lost in the infinitude of God, let’s feed on His majesty, finding all that’s worth finding in the grandeur of the timeless One.

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Lord Knows

Back in the late 80’s Bo Knows ads featured my favorite athlete, Bo Jackson, whose seemingly superhuman feats awed both baseball and football fans for years: Bo could do anything.

But saying “Lord knows” (2Pe 2:9) seems like such an understatement … His understanding is infinite. (Ps 147:5)

YHWH is both omnipotent and omniscient; infinite power, infinite knowledge, infinite wisdom. (Is 40:28)  How can He try? or learn, or hope or grow? We can’t measure anything about Him. Saying He “knows how” suggests He developed a capability or acquired a challenging skill … an anthropomorphism that just won’t fly; He’s infinitely infinite.

God has always known everything about everything (Ac 15:18), so saying “the Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations, and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished” (2Pe 2:9) is indeed stating the obvious. But it’s evidently an obviousness worth pondering.

God knows how … knows how to deliver the godly, those that are becoming more and more like Himself, out of temptations: He doesn’t spare us life’s trials and testings but forms us into His likeness through them. God knows how … and He does it with style. We count it all joy to be His workmanship (Ep 2:10), growing stronger under His loving hand and watchful eye through all our difficulties. (Ja 1:2-3)

But this omniscient, omnipotent God also knows how to reserve … to preserve, keep in store … the unjust, the biased, who judge inconsistently and selfishly … setting them aside unto the Day of judgment when He will expose all wickedness for what it is, and deliver them over to be punished. God knows how … and He’ll do it in righteous vengeance. (He 10:30-31)

God is goodGod is justGod is faithful: I rest in His perfect knowing, in His faithful timing, in His awesome, righteous power.

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God Is Just

The human heart longs for justice, to see evil punished: we say, “Don’t get mad; get even!” We demand that wrongs against us and our loved ones be righted, that sin be paid for, that the crooked be made straight. Our sense of injustice, that evil goes unpunished in this life, can be maddening, driving us to bitterness.Lightning

Our instinctive longing for justice is beautiful; it’s God’s image at work in us, even proving His existence, but there’s a problem: we’re unjust. We seldom see our own sins rightly, and our response to evil is usually warped; we exact more than we should.

So God says, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay.” (Ro 12:19) He wants perfect justice more than all the rest of us combined, but only He knows what it looks like.

God is perfectly just, and only God is perfectly just; He will make all the crooked places straight (Is 40:4); He will right all wrongs … even our own. It’s an awesome mystery how God’s justice and mercy work together (Ps 89:14), how He can offer eternal salvation to sinners, His own Son taking our place and satisfying His own indignation against us. We do well to receive His mercy rather than the second death, and to rejoice when others do … especially our enemies(Mi 6:8)

How and when God makes everything right is up to Him; when He does it will be supremely satisfying, beautiful beyond thought! (Re 15:3-4) Enjoying it now in hope, before He does, glorifies Him and gives us peace.

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God Is Faithful

RainbowDoubleGod is faithful (1Co 1:9): true to His word, keeping His promises, trustworthy, dependable; we can safely trust Him to do what He says He’s going to do.

We can see this both in Scripture (2Th 3:3) and in Nature: for every need He’s designed fulfillment. YHWH is good; we need Him to be faithful, and He is, more than we can know. (Je 17:7-8)

But the enemy lies to us about God’s nature, twisting God’s promises and promoting wrong expectations so when God doesn’t meet them we’re tempted to mistrust Him. Falling for his lies steals our joy and traps us in bitterness; it’s too painful.

So God set His bow in the clouds to remind us of His faithfulness (Ge 9:13); scientists still don’t fully understand how He does it. Jehovah’s gone out of His way to assure us that He’ll never break His Word; He makes no promise lightly; He puts His reputation on the line in every single one. God’s promises are exceedingly precious gifts, open doorways inviting us into His nature. (2Pe 1:4) 

As we wait on the Lord, expecting Him to be faithful, we’re saved by hope; it’s an abundant life of faith rooted in the character and nature of God. (Jn 10:10) 

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The Terror of the Lord

In all His public teaching Jesus never once mentions God’s love*, yet He speaks of Hell often and without apology. (Mt 18:9) He warns of God’s justice and wrath, and exhorts us all to fear Him (Lk 12:4-5); He’s a consuming fire. (He 12:29) The terror of the Lord is the divine default in appealing to souls (2Co 5:11), not love and compassion (Jud 1:22-23), yet we’ve lost our holy trembling. (Php 2:12)

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Calbuco Volcano Eruption

Why is God so angry with unbelievers? (Jn 3:36) He treats them like hardened criminals rather than victims. Is God unjust, or are we missing His perspective? (Is 55:8-9)

God’s anger implies the lost are without excuse (Ro 1:20-21); in our free will we’d rather rebel against God than submit to Him. (Re 16:9-11) Men glady submit to gods of their own making, but not to the God of Heaven.

I think we forget that sin harms God; it grieves Him … He hates it. (Gen 6:6) If Hell is no more than God disarming His enemies in order to end His own suffering, how can we complain against it? And if God’s heart has always been open-armed (Ro 10:21), offering His oppressors relief if they’ll just humble themselves and repent (Eze 33:11), why wouldn’t He keep doing so throughout eternity? He doesn’t change. (Ja 1:17)

From all appearances, Hell is a prison defended from within — by depraved souls and spirits who lunge at any opportunity to resist and damage a merciful, benevolent, loving God … no matter what the cost to themselves or others. If there are no victims in Hell, only deliberate fiends and devils, how is God being unjust? (Ez 33:11)

Those who know Jehovah worship Him as He is, in all His works and ways. (Re 15:3) I think it’s high time we stop apologizing for God’s anger, downplaying His indignation, vengeance, hatred and wrath. (Ps 50:21-22) He’s not being unfair; Man is. Let’s encourage joyful trembling (Ps 2:11), and as ol’ John Baptist, tearfully warn the disobedient to flee the wrath to come. (Mt 3:7-8)

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* See 1st comment below