Why Standing Stones?

Why Standing Stones?

In ancient Israel, people stood stones on their end to commemorate a powerful move of God in their lives. It was a memorial to something God spoke or revealed or did. Often these standing stones became reference points in their lives. Today, we can find reference points in the written Word of God. Any scripture or sermon can speak something powerful into our lives, or reveal something of the nature of God. In this blog I offer, what can become a reference point for Christians, taken from God's ancient word and applied to today's world.

Monday, December 19, 2016

The Superlatives of God

As a writer I’ve been taught to be careful of the use of superlatives.  Superlatives are words like “fantastic”, “magnificent”, and “splendid”.  Generally, when a writer uses words like that, they’re probably exaggerating.  Let me show you an example:

Fuddrucker’s Restaurant advertises that they serve “The World’s Greatest Hamburgers.”  You’ve tried every hamburger in the world and you know that?

We use words like that all the time to describe what are really ordinary things.  Fuddrucker’s hamburgers are pretty good, but the best in the world?  I seriously doubt it.  When the writers of the Bible described the blessings of God on His children, they wanted to speak in the strongest of terms, so the Bible is full of superlatives.

Today I want to post on Thanksgiving.  I think that as Christians we have a lot to be thankful for, like the blessings of God. 

2 Corinthians 9:10-11 (NKJV)
9:10 Now may He who supplies seed to the sower, and bread for food, supply and multiply the seed you have sown and increase the fruits of your righteousness, 11 while you are enriched in everything for all liberality, which causes thanksgiving through us to God.

The Superlatives of God

A superlative is a comparison word.  For example, This is the Best tea of these two.  Best is the superlative.  It’s interesting to read your Bible and see the way the writers thought about God.  It’s difficult for them to speak of God’s attributes without using words like “greatest”, “best”, or “most”.  Face it God’s abilities are far beyond ours.  He’s much more capable than any of us.

Psalms 147:5-8 (NKJV)
147:5 Great is our Lord, and mighty in power; His understanding is infinite. 6 The Lord lifts up the humble; He casts the wicked down to the ground. 7 Sing to the Lord with thanksgiving; Sing praises on the harp to our God, 8 Who covers the heavens with clouds, Who prepares rain for the earth, Who makes grass to grow on the mountains.

What I really want to post on today is Thanksgiving.  As Christian we have a lot to be thankful for.  For one thing we’re not on the way to Hell, anymore.  I don’t know about you but I’m glad about that. 

One other thing we might have to be thankful for is the mercy and character of God.  The writers of the Bible articulated their thoughts on the awesomeness of God by talking about His attributes in the most expressive terms available:

Isaiah 55:7 (NKJV)
55:7 Let the wicked forsake his way, And the unrighteous man his thoughts; Let him return to the Lord, And He will have mercy on him; And to our God, For He will abundantly pardon.

Here Isaiah is speaking of God’s mercy, “He will abundantly pardon.”  God’s not stingy with his mercy.  He pardons abundantly; over and over.  He doesn’t withhold mercy.  How wonderful for you and I.  I can’t tell you hoe many times people have told me that God couldn’t forgive them, “You don’t know what I’ve done.”  You’re right, I don’t, but the Bible says, “God is faithful to forgive.” (1 John 5:9)  That means He always forgives, if you repent.  That’s what the mercy of God is like; it’s abundant, and do you know why?

Ephesians 3:19 (NKJV)
3:19 to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

It’s because the love of God “passes knowledge”.  That means it’s beyond what you could know.  Think about how much Jesus loves you.  He loves you so much that He died a brutal death for you.  He loves you so much that He left heaven just so He could come to earth and suffer for you.  Those are things that you know about his love.  Guess what, He loves you more than that; more than you could possibly know.

He did all of that so that you could be filled with the fullness of God:  So that God could dwell in you.  That’s what we have that no other religion has – God dwelling in us:  God becoming a part of us.  What a gift God has given us in the gift of His Son.

2 Corinthians 9:15 (NKJV)
9:15 Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!

There are no words that can describe that gift.  Words are inadequate.  This verse is talking about the blessings of God that come to you, through other people praying for you; contending for you, because of your generosity:  What you have given them.  This isn’t necessarily about material things (although it could be) it’s about giving of yourself:  Giving of your time, your resources, your encouragement and your prayers.  People will want to pray for you as you live your life in imitation of God’s abundance of love, mercy and faithfulness.  The value of prayers and blessing is indescribable.

Finally, there’s this:

Psalms 147:5 (NKJV)
147:5 Great is our Lord, and mighty in power; His understanding is infinite.

His understanding is infinite; without end.  God know everything; He understands all.  He understands what you need, what you go through.  He understands every temptation and weakness.
 Hebrews 4:15-16 (NKJV)
4:15 For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

He understands and He’s willing to help.  He encourages us to come to Him for help.  What a gracious God we serve

What are you thankful for?

People sometimes struggle with gratitude.  There are people who focus their lives on what’s missing.  How unhappy they are!  They never take time to be thankful for the things of God.  It’s always, “I don’t have the nicest car.”  Or, “I don’t have the nicest house.”:  “The most sensitive husband, the most beautiful wife.”  Those people only go to church for what God can do to make their lives seem better.  They’re consumed with the carnal things and forget about the blessings of God.  Look at what the psalmist says:

Psalms 105:1-3 (NKJV)
105:1 Oh, give thanks to the Lord! Call upon His name; Make known His deeds among the peoples! 2 Sing to Him, sing Psalms to Him; Talk of all His wondrous works! 3 Glory in His holy name; Let the hearts of those rejoice who seek the Lord!

Are you thankful for a God that does wondrous works?  Are you thankful for a God who gives mercy abundantly?  Are you thankful for a God that lifts up the humble and casts the wicked down to the ground:  The God who makes rain so that grasses can grow.  (Rice is a grass – His rain produces food.)  Are you thankful for a God like that or are you more concerned with worldly things?

I’ve seen Christians who are depressed because they don’t have it all.  They forget about a God who forgives sin and who prepares a place for them.

Revelation 21:4-5 (NKJV)
21:4 And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away." 5 Then He who sat on the throne said, "Behold, I make all things new." And He said to me, "Write, for these words are true and faithful."

You may not have it all on this earth, but there is a place where there will be no more sorrow or pain.  A place where there’s a crown of righteousness laid up for you.

2 Timothy 4:8 (NKJV)
4:8 Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing.

Have you forgotten about God’s goodness and love?  Are you so focused on the world’s definition of greatness that you can’t be thankful for the spiritual things you have; for the future you have in Jesus:  The eternal things of Christ?

Be Thankful

Psalms 100:4-5 (NKJV)
100:4 Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, And into His courts with praise. Be thankful to Him, and bless His name. 5 For the Lord is good; His mercy is everlasting, And His truth endures to all generations.

This is the attitude we should have.  This is talking about the temple, Enter into the place of God’s inhabitance with thanksgiving and praise.  How many come to church grateful for the God that we serve?  How many come to church looking for more from God?  Are you entering into the house of God gratefully?

Every November Americans celebrate Thanksgiving.  Thanksgiving was instituted in the beginning by George Washington:

Whereas it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and to humbly implore his protection and favor…The people of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God…

This is what thanksgiving is about.  We shouldn't be grateful one day a year, after all, God works wondrous works in us every day of our lives.  This is not American culture – It’s Christian culture.  Abraham Lincoln made it a national holiday to thank God for fruitful fields, healthful skies, abundance of precious metals, and a harmonious and increasing population.  He called them the gracious gifts of God.  We should thank God for all of His gracious blessings but also just for being whom He is. 

All of these writers used superlatives to describe God.  They had to, because God is beyond comparison with people.  You can’t describe God in normal ways because God is above all of that.  I don’t know about you but I’m grateful to serve a God who’s not like people but infinitely greater.

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