Monday, August 31, 2009

Who Is Our God?

Today we finished our Summer Series. "Who Is Like Our God?" We celebrated the wonderful truths about His character and the wonderful reality of being renewed in His image -- changed from glory to glory in the image of His Son!

When the LORD finished His proclamation of the name YHWH, Moses responded to the
amazing, dazzling vision of God. First he worshipped. Moses bowed down to the ground. Worship is the reasonable response of those who glimpse the Glory of God. We stand amazed, we sing for joy, we thank and praise. The Glory of God inspires His people to worship Him.

When the LORD finished His proclamation of the name YHWH, Moses trusted God. He said, "If I have found favor...then go with us..." He put his hope in the character of the LORD just revealed to him. God's presence would bring safety and success. Without God's Presence, Moses would not move. His future depended on the LORD. The Glory of God invites His people to trust Him.

When the LORD finished His proclamation of the name YHWH, Moses confessed. "...we are a stiff-necked people, forgive our...sin" Isaiah, when caught up in the wonderful vision of God, high and lifted up, cried out, "Woe is me! I am undone." Seeing God's glory also brings into focus our vainglory -- our shabbiness and our sin. We then must choose to admit what we see in the light of Glory or deny it. Confession simply agrees with our condition in terms of God's glory. The Glory of God challenges His people to confess to Him.

When the LORD finished His proclamation of the name YHWH, Moses surrendered. "Take us as your people..."More than worship, which acknowledges God's glory, and trust, which relies on God's character or even confession, which agrees with our condition-in-light-of-the-glory, surrender opens the way for a life of blessing. When we gife ourselves to God, He begins the transformation. He renews the image of Himself in us! The Glory of God demands His people surrender to Him.

Then something happens that is even more thrilling, mind-blowing and life-changing than even proclaming His name and character. The LORD God invites humanity to enter into a close personal relationship (covenant) with Him. He offers Himself, in all His resplendant Glory, to be our God. He chooses us to be His holy people. He commissions us to reflect His Glory in the Glow of our life and character.

He has not introduced Himself as simple the Master of the Universe. He introduces Himself as our Covenant-Keeping Lord. All His promises will be carefully kept. All His duties will be faithfully performed. He is our God!

On the night before He was betrayed, Jesus took the bread, blessed it, broke it and said, "This is my body. Do this in remembrance of me." Later He took the cup and said, "This is the new covenant in my blood. Drink this, as often as you do it, in remembrace of me." This covenant -- this personal relationship with the Glorious God -- was made possible by the substitutional death of God the Son. It was ratified by the powerful resurrection of God the Son. It is available to us today.

This God offers Himself to be our God and invites us to be His people. Have you accepted His offer?

Monday, August 17, 2009

Who Is FORGIVING Like Our God?

This week we celebrated the baptism of baby Christian Gall at Faith Community Church. This sacrament marks initiation into the Church and fits well with the Summer Series in which we find ourselves. Our God declares that He is a Forgiving God.

The GLORY of the Forgiving God.

The LORD says He bears our sins. The word used here means He carries off the shame, takes away the punishment and lifts the burden of guilt that resulted from our sins. These consequences of sin are done away with in His forgiveness.

He carries off the shame of our sins. With the first covenant people of God, He instructed them to present two goats to make atonement for their sins. The priest cast lots and one goat was sacrified to pay the death-penalty for sin (...when you do, you will surely die [Genesis 2.17, etc].) The priest laid his hand on the goats head, confessed the sins of the people and then slit its throat. The priest then placed his hand on the head of the second goat -- the scape-goat -- confessed the sins of the people and then that goat was removed from the community and set loose to wander in the wilderness. It carried away the shame of the sinful acts. This ritual was carried out year after year.

Jesus offered Himself as our scape-goat to carry our shame away from us. He was crucified "outside the gates." He died a shameful death to carry away our shame, to remove it from us. this He did once for all time!

He takes away the punishment of our sins. There were many sacrifices prescribed by the LORD for His first covenant people. Each dealt with the cold reality that sins separate people from this Compassionate, Gracious, Slow-to-Anger, Love-and-Faithfulness-Maintaining God. The penalty or punishment for sins is death -- spiritual and physical. So the Gracious God allowed for substitutions to bear the death-penalty. Yearly or even more frequently, sinners placed their hands on the heads of sacrificial animals, confessed their personal sins and watched them die -- in their place. There was a continual death-march leading up to the altar of sacrifice.

Jesus died IN OUR PLACE. He suffered terrible torture and died because He was carrying our sins in His body on the tree. "By oppression and judgment He was taken away...for the transgression of my people was He stricken" (Isaiah 53.8, etc.) Because He died we can go on living in forgiveness!

He lifts the burden of guilt from our sins. When God forgives, He cleans our conscience. We can rest at night knowing our darkest deeds have been brought to light as we confessed them to God (1 John 1.8.) There is now no fear of exposure or condemnation of mind (Romans 8.1.) He sprinkles our conscience clean with the sacrificial blood of Jesus (Hebrews 10.22.)

Rather than oppressed and obsessed about our wrongdoing, we are now free, through God's forgiving work, to live life to the fullest.

What He forgives... a little theological sidenote is in order here. This caviat merits its own sermon someday... In declaring Himself the Forgiving God, the LORD details what it is that He forgives. He forgives wickedness, transgressions and sins.

Sins...are those acts or thoughts that "miss the goal"or "miss the mark." Unintentionally, we do things that fall short of the glory of God. The best we will ever do will not measure up to the standard. We wander from the narrow way. We literally get lost in the wilderness of options placed before us. But God promises and has provided forgiveness for these "misses."
Transgressions...are acts of willful rebellion. While any parent might be quick to forgive the misses of their child[ren], willful disobedience is hard to forgive. We trespass. We see the line, then we choose to step over the line, anyway. Yet our Merciful LORD wants and waits to forgive the times we flip Him off and go it our own way. How forgiving!! the twisted depravity that is the root cause of our sins and transgressions. Just as a duck quacks and waddles because it is a duck and these things are in its nature, we sin because we are sinners. Since our first parents rebelled, every human is borne with a nature twisted away from God and in-grown with self-love. The LORD has promised and provided for a cleansing even of this sin-nature. What a radical claim God makes!

The Glow of a Forgiving People

Colossians 3 says we are to "...forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you." (verse 13) Jesus in the Our Father teaches we should expect God will "...forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin agains us..." His later commentary on the prayer is very clear: "For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins." (Matthew 6.14-15) If we are the people of the Forgiving God, we must be forgiving people. We cut ourselves off from God's forgiveness when we refuse forgiveness to others. But with the forgiveness of our God flowing through us, we can find ourselves forgiving as well.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009


Again Sunday we look at the Glory of YHWH, the LORD. Like Moses we want God to "teach [us] Your ways so [we] may know You and continue to find favor with You." We long to better understand Who the "I AM" is.

This week we see the Glory of the LORD "...maintaining love to thousands..."


God guards His love for us. He shields His heart from the disappointment, deminishment and even betrayal of our relationship to Him. He wants always to respond to us in love. His loving heart sends rain on the just and the unjust, sunshine on the righteous and unrighteous. Even when we, like the Golden Calf crowd, reject His love and rebel against His leadership, His guarded love reaches out to us.

The LORD keeps carefully His love for us. He tends to the relationship with tenderness and concern. Like a gardener (John 15) He looks over our relationship and tends it. He weeds out what would sap His love, He fertilizes what is weakened in our relationship. Men generally do not give such carefulness to relationships. Women do. Like His compassion, coming from the Hebrew word for womb, God fusses over our relationship carefully. He wants it to work.

God keeps continually His love for us. God is love and always loves. Even on our worst day, God loves us. From before there was a molecule of matter that makes up our selves, God loved us completely, without condition. And in eternity future, His love will continue. Even for those who choose to be eternally separated from Him!

The LORD preserves His love for us. Like jelly or jam, the love of the LORD is stored up for us. It will not run out or even low. His passion for us does not fluctuate nor is He fickle in His feelings for us. In our moment of greatest need, His love is strong.


The LORD maintains love to thousands. This can either mean "thousands of persons" or "thousands of generations." Perhaps it implies both.

The Scriptures clearly declare that the LORD loves every person. "God loved the whole world so much that He gave His One and Only Son, so that all those believing on Him would not die but have eternal life" (John 3.16.) Here, when speaking to the chosen leader of the Chosen People, the LORD hints at His universal love of all people. James clearly forbids partiality based on economic circumstances. Jesus declares we are to be "perfect as our Father in heaven is perfect" chiefly in this matter of loving all people, not just the lovable.

Later in this Proclamation of the Name, the LORD will promise to "punish the sin of the the second and third generation." Here YHWH says He maintains His love to thousands of generations in a family. We will look into this issue of family crime and punishment in a few weeks. The amazing thing is not His judgment on 3 generations, it is His love for thousands of generations. Grace that is greater than all our sins! PTL!


We are to glow with the glory of our God. If He is unique in His dealings with humanity, we are to be unique, as well. He is renewing us in the image of our Creator. We glow with His "maintained" love to thousands when we interact with all persons treating them with equal dignity and kindness. We must allow the Holy Spirit to continually guard our hearts from preconceived notions about people based on economics, race, or religion. We all have such notions instilled in us through upbringing and environmental factors. BUT, the people of a God who loves thousands must reflect that love as He enables.

Monday, August 03, 2009


Let's review our pericope: Then the LORD came down in the cloud and stood there with him and proclaimed his name, the LORD. And he passed in front of Moses, proclaiming, "The LORD, the LORD, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished; he punishes the children and their children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation." (Exodus 34.5-7, NIV)

This week we, along with Moses, hear the LORD declaring the glory of His Name. He is the God abounding in love and faithfulness.

The Glory of the God: Abounding in Love and Faithfulness

To say that God abounds in love says first that God deals with us with loving-kindness. His love moves Him to deal with us carefully and tenderly. We experience His kindness and often take it for granted. We are more amazed by His occasioinal acts of judgment than we are in perpetual acts of loving-kindness. Paul chides the Roman Christ-followers, "Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, tolerance and patience, not realizing that God's kindness leads you toward repentance?" (Romans 2.4, NIV.) His kindness is designed to draw us to Him.

The LORD also abounds in faithfulness. He remains true to His commitments. He keeps His promises. He always speaks the truth. Relationships rest on the central issue of trust. Our LORD has proven His trustworthiness over the entire scope of history. Like Hosea of old, God remains faithful to our relationship even when we commit the spiritual equivalent of adultery. 2 Timothy 2.13 declares if we are faithless, he will remain faithful, for he cannot disown himself. (NIV) We find security in His faithful commitment to us.

The LORD God is abounding in these qualities. Not just barely enough, His love and faithfulness know no limits. He overflows with love and faithfulness. When Jesus came into the world, John described Him as "full of grace and truth" The psalmist repeats the refrain, "His love endures forever."

The Glow of His People
As the people of this Love-and-Faithfulness-Abounding God, we reflect that glory in a world darkened by infidelity, lies, hate and indifference. Colossians says we are to put away lying. Ephesians says we are to speak the truth in love. Jesus says we are to let our "Yes, be 'yes' and our 'no' be 'no...'" What a challenge this week. LORD, help your people to be overflowing with love and faithfulness, to your Glory and Praise. AMEN