Meditation on God's Attributes
10 "Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth."
1 John 4:8&10
8Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.
10This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for[a] our sins.
"Be still, and know that I am God," the Psalmist says. - I can imagine billions of people the world over closing this year out wondering where God was through all the tragedies, disasters, wars, crises and scandals of the nations, floods, fires, mudslides, hurricanes and tornadoes--> "Where ARE You, God?", hearts cry out. Economies in nose-dives, health care costs out of control--> "God, where ARE You?" Soldiers and rebels killing each others' children, and drug-lords even so bold as to attack governments--> "Where IS God, and why does He permit such loveless insanity?" — We, TOO, may wonder!
From the earliest time, though, GOD's perspective has been to ask--> "Where are YOU?" - "Adam, where ARE you?" - "Job, where were YOU when I laid the earth's foundation?" --- We are who stray from HIM, and at least one of the reasons we don't understand all God's ways is so that our relationship with Him will be based on faith. Saint Paul explained, "..Now we see in a mirror dimly, but LATER face to face. Now we know in part; LATER (we) shall understand more fully." (1 Corinthians 13:12)
In the meantime the word of invitation still applies to us to encourage and calm our hearts: "Be still, and know that I AM God!" - Let's meditate briefly, then, on some of God's attributes as we leave behind yet another year filled with both sorrows and blessings.
Nature itself is proof enough for us that God exists, the Bible tells us:--> "The heavens tell the glory of God, and the firmament proclaims His handiwork." "What can be known about God is plain...because God has shown it." "..His eternal power and Deity have been clearly perceived in the things that have been made."
(Psalm 19:1, Romans 1:19-20)
All people of all places and times demonstrating at least some sense of having a moral conscience also points to the fact that, in our hearts, we know we're accountable to a higher and Supreme Being. - God IS, in other words, and we really all know it full well!
REVEALED ATTRIBUTES - (Listed in Luther's Small Catechism)
To know that some Sovereign Creator is out there somewhere doesn't say much about what He may be like, though. Nor could we have ever found out if God chose not to reveal Himself in the teachings of Scripture and through Christ's incarnation. God HAS chosen to reveal many of His attributes, though...
God is TRIUNE, which is a truth we can't fathom, but which Scripture nevertheless shows and asserts in many ways. A religious group isn't recognized as "Christian," in fact, if it doesn't fully accept the teaching of One God in the Three Persons of Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
God is SPIRIT, which is something we can't ultimately define except that He exists unseen by physical eyes. We therefore speak of seeing Him through the eyes of faith and in the teachings and actions of Jesus, His Son, as the God-Incarnate (come to us in human flesh).
God is ETERNAL and UNCHANGING, which fit together like hand in glove. From everlasting and to everlasting! Never a beginning, and He'll never come to an end! He asserts, "I, the Lord, do not change." (Malachi 3:6) And of His Son we're told, "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever." (Hebrews 13:8)
God is OMNIPRESENT, OMNIPOTENT and OMNISCIENT! - There is nowhere God is not, from the furthest reaches of the universe and beyond to the oceans' deepest trench, to the innermost spaces between the protons and electrons of the individual atoms of which our bodies are made. God declares that He fills Heaven and earth, which is a warning to unbelievers and great comfort to believers.
"With God nothing shall be impossible" -or- "All things ARE possible." Scripture states it both ways! - We take a lot of His wonders for granted and would definitely appreciate them more were they to be taken away; -things like the sun faithfully rising day-after-day or our daily bread.
God knows all things and knows us completely! Before a word can reach our tongues He knows it. He understands the deepest scientific marvels of nature and creation, but also knows our secret sins and weaknesses, all our needs and the deepest yearnings of our hearts.
Our Catechisms and theological textbooks go on with lists of attributes that include God's HOLINESS, His JUSTICE, FAITHFULNESS, MERCY and GRACE... All those traits bear the qualities of being both infinite and perfect, but if we were able to sum it all up in just one word, it would have to be that God is LOVE, of course! Infinite and perfect LOVE!
As St. John declared, "In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the expiation for our sins." - Calvary's Cross always presents us with history's two greatest truths...
--First, of course, is the truth of the depth of humanity's and your and my sin! It's grievous to ponder what unfathomable pain and torture Christ endured; the scourging at His trial, the "Via Dolorosa," the Cross itself and abandonment by our Heavenly Father; -but such suffering does give the picture that God will have no "truck" with our sin. God is dead-serious with His threat of sin's punishment.
--Yet secondly, the Cross exhibits the unmistakable proof of the infinite and perfect love that God HAS for us! No matter what, He never stops loving us, and nothing can separate us from such ultimate love!
The power of that love then raised Jesus from the death He suffered and is extended to us as a certain and living hope. Because Christ paid for our sin, He conquered sin AND death. The mission was completed, and no power anywhere can undo it! - Rejoice that your sins are therefore forgiven and nothing can take that security away as we face the unknown days in the year to come!
Some boys were out playing in deep snow and began to head across an open field towards a barn. They held a contest to see who could make the straightest line of tracks there. The youngest boy won easily, and when asked how he did it replied, "I was looking at the weather-vane on top the whole way."
"Be still, and know that I am God," we began. - In this present stillness here with God's Word we're assured of His presence and love in any and every circumstance as our eyes remain centered on Christ and His Cross in our daily lives. St. Paul wrote, "We have..received..the Spirit which is from God, that we might understand the gifts bestowed on us from God." (1 Corinthians 2:12) So, although we can't comprehend the infinite dimensions of God, we know enough that they're true. We receive them in faith. And we believe that Jesus Christ, who lived and died and rose for us, is the same as this awesome God.
While some may wonder where God was through so many experiences of the past year, we know that He and His perfect love were there attending us all the time -- at every moment! And through the event of the Cross we have insurmountable proof that He NEVER WILL leave us or forsake us.
God grant you each a very happy new year as He keeps you looking to Christ and His Cross - where we can "SEE" that His steadfast love never fails. r.e.d.
(Above "Weather-Vane" illustration from Give Your Life a Lift, Herman Gockel - Concordia Publishing House, Copyright 1968.)