The Attributes Of God – God Knows Everything

What are God’s attributes? When we talk about the attributes of God, we are trying to answer questions like, Who is God, What is God like, and What kind of God is He? It is important to study and know God’s attributes so we can grow closer to Him. How we view God impacts everything. So when we understand and embrace who God is, it gives us a firm foundation for our faith. Each Friday we will look at the attributes of God. This week, God knows everything. 

“Oh, what a wonderful God we have! How great are His wisdom and knowledge and riches! How impossible it is for us to understand His decisions and His methods! For who can know what the Lord is thinking? Who knows enough to be His counselor and guide?” (Romans 11:33-34 TLB)

Today’s smartphones are extraordinary in many ways. There is nothing you can’t ask it. It will have answers to most of your questions. You can ask for movie times, driving directions—even a recipe—and up pops the information on the high-resolution screen. Your phone has more computing power than the mainframes of just a few years ago.  But you wouldn’t ask this technological marvel for advice or guidance for living. It provides you with information but really doesn’t know you. Artificial intelligence, no matter how sophisticated, lacks wisdom. As Romans 11:33 tells us: “Oh, how great are God’s riches and wisdom and knowledge! How impossible it is for us to understand his decisions and his ways!”  

The fact that God knows everything is another one of His attributes. Psalm 139 celebrates this aspect of God’s nature. God doesn’t just know all things; He knows everything about each of us. We have no secrets from Him. He is the one who created us—“You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb. He knows our lives from start to finish; our days were written in His book long before we existed.  King David writes, “O Lord, You have examined my heart and know everything about me. You know when I sit down or stand up. You know my thoughts even when I’m far away. You see me when I travel and when I rest at home. You know everything I do. You know what I am going to say even before I say it, Lord. You go before me and follow me. You place Your hand of blessing on my head. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too great for me to understand!” (Psalm 139:1-6) 

God knows everything—much more than we could ever imagine. Our Creator knows everything and is the source of all true knowledge, understanding, and wisdom. His knowledge is undefiled by any distortions or wrong perspectives. It is totally true and accurate. God knows the answers to all of life’s questions. Unlike us, God is never surprised or bewildered, because He is always completely aware of all events past, present, and future. He also knows everything about you — your desires, motives, and thoughts. God knows more about you than you will ever know about yourself. 

We can never escape God’s attention, so how should we respond? Do we fear? Do we quit?

Just as David did, we ask God to search us, to know our hearts, test us, and lead us (Psalm 139:23-24). We respond with praise and gratitude knowing that God who knows everything is guiding us through life.

Discussion Questions:

  1. How does it make you feel to know that God knows every detail of your life and still loves you?
  2. How does the fact that God knows everything changes the way you live your life?

Is It Time To Rethink The Value Of Community?

“Let the message about Christ, in all its richness, fill your lives. Teach and counsel each other with all the wisdom he gives. Sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs to God with thankful hearts.” – Colossians 3:16.

There is a big difference between what we want and what we need in every aspect of life. For example, we all want friends that agree with us, share the same interests, and make us feel good. But what we need are friends that celebrate our victories, mourn our losses, and walk with us spiritually. Friends like that are not a luxury, they are a necessity. We need them because they support and motivate us to run the race that God has set before us.

God created community as a support system that helps us make and keep Christ as our first priority, protect and encourage us. People are there to fight for us…in person, on the phone, and through prayer, in good times, and in bad times.  

Maybe you are one of those people who see the value of community but don’t get involved. You have your family. You go to church. You read your Bible. And you have Christian friends that you can“hang out with” should the need arise. Those are all good things, but eventually, you will need a deep, God-centered community around you when a relationship goes sour, you are going through spiritual doubt, or when health issues sap your resolve. We need people to pray for us when we find it difficult to pray. We need people to listen to us and encourage us when we are in the valley and celebrate with us when we are on the mountaintop. We need people to pick us up when we are down.  

Maybe it is time to rethink joining a small group. One of the core values of Northstar is to foster community with others.  Community is more than just people getting to know each other and spending time together. We believe that community is – as described in Hebrews 10:24 – a group of people who “… motivate one another to acts of love and good works.”  We join up with others in community because we need intimate relationships: discussion that goes deep, friendships that reach beyond the surface, and support that can help us navigate through troubled waters.

Small groups provide a valuable opportunity to connect with other believers outside the Sunday morning worship. But extending our Sunday-morning relationships beyond our time together on Sunday morning and outside the walls of our buildings. Small groups have the potential to be a springboard for even deeper relationships. Smaller groups are a safe space for vulnerability, honesty, curiosity, support, encouragement, forgiveness, laughter, accountability, transformation, connection, and a whole host of other things that are not easy to do in a big crowd. 

We all need this type of community. Maybe it is time to rethink the need to surround yourself with people that help you live life to the fullest.

Discussion Questions:

  1.  Why do we need other people to watch over us and speak into our lives? 
  2. How might your life be different if you were a member of a small group?   

Having A Sense Of Urgency

“Immediately after this, Jesus insisted that his disciples get back into the boat and head across the lake to Bethsaida, while he sent the people home. After telling everyone good-bye, he went up into the hills by himself to pray.” – Mark 6:45-46. 

“Immediately” is an often used word in the gospel of Mark. The word is designed to convey the urgency of Jesus’ message and mission. God wants us all to have a sense of urgency, not hurry, about living the life He created us for. Jesus modeled this urgent lifestyle flawlessly. He knew that there was a mission that He had been sent to accomplish and that His time was limited to do so. We see this emphasized in John 4 when Jesus refused to stop and eat as He saw the opportunity to minister to a Samaritan village. 

His disciples urged Him, “Rabbi, eat something.”But he said to them, “I have food to eat that you know nothing about.”Then his disciples said to each other, “Could someone have brought him food?” My food,” said Jesus, “is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work. Don’t you have a saying, ‘It’s still four months until harvest? I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest….” So when the Samaritans came to him…because of his words, many more became believers.” (John 4:30-35, 40-41 NIV)

Jesus recognized this as an opportunity to do exactly what God sent Him to do. Jesus was never hurried. He was flexible, present, and sensitive to the prompting of the Holy Spirit. His eternal mission was His focus. His apostles were human and as a result, were hurried. They were preoccupied with the cares of life. They were trying to manage numerous tasks and obligations which is why Jesus’ response was so different. 

Did Jesus have a full schedule sometimes? Yes. Were there more people that wanted His attention than He had time to see?  Yes, again. But none of those things drew Him off course. He was never overwhelmed or hurried to the point where He lost His focus and stepped outside of His mission.

Nothing mattered but being in the center of His Father’s will. Thus He was ready to minister to the Samaritans. As a result, an entire community heard the gospel, and by the way, nobody starved in the process. We as Christians can learn that busyness is not a badge of honor. It usually means that our attention is divided across more responsibilities than we can effectively deal with. This is not what it looks like to live with urgency.

We look at a sense of urgency differently today. Urgency is stressful. It’s often addictive as we find ourselves constantly reacting to outside demands. Urgency can temporarily appeal to your sense of worth and purpose and create a sense of “getting things done.” But that is temporary because living a hectic life while constantly abandoning your goals to keep multiple balls in the air can sidetrack you from your real purpose. A sense of urgency comes from a clear understanding of one’s purpose. 

Discussion Questions

  1. What does having a sense of urgency for the lost mean to you? 
  2. What can you do this week to seize the opportunities God gives us?

A Little Encouragement Goes A Long Way

“So encourage each other and build each other up, just as you are already doing.” – 1 Thessalonians 5:11.

Have you ever had someone tell you something and it changed your whole day? Or maybe, someone told you something that changed the course of your life. Perhaps, it was just some encouraging words on a hard day or maybe someone shared their story or life experience. Words can be powerful tools to change our outlook on life for both better and worse.

The New Testament reveals that encouragement was a regular part of the early church’s life together, One example is Acts 16:40: “When Paul and Silas left the prison, they returned to the home of Lydia. There they met with the believers and encouraged them once more. Then they left town.”

The gift of encouragement is important in our lives. We can come alongside others and be there for one another. We can listen, comfort, console, and affirm. It’s a way of living out the command to extend grace and love to one another.

If you took a few minutes to think about it, each one of us could come up with any number of people who have encouraged us. Like the friend who made you laugh when you thought you may never laugh again. Or the aunt who listened to you while others just talked. Or the small group member who prayed with and for you when you were having doubts. Then ask yourself: “When was the last time I encouraged someone?” It’s not difficult, and the people you encourage are so blessed by it.

Ask God to give you a heart that loves others and the creativity to know how to show it. Ask God for the opportunities and desire to build others up. Ask God to be more like Barnabas. Barnabas was nicknamed the “son of encouragement” by the early church.”For instance, there was Joseph, the one the apostles nicknamed Barnabas (which means “Son of Encouragement”). He was from the tribe of Levi and came from the island of Cyprus.” (Acts 4:36). It is a fitting name, as we see him actively encouraging a young follower of Christ, a young church, and a young failure. His encouragement gives us an example to follow in encouraging one another in our own relationships.

Make encouragement a daily discipline. For some of us, encouragement comes naturally, for others, not so much. Find the time daily to send someone an encouraging note, email, text, or phone call. It just may be the encouragement they need. 

Discussion Questions:

  1. Have you ever felt prompted to encourage someone? How did it turn out?  
  2. How is encouraging someone one of the most spiritual things you can do? Who do you want to encourage? How could you spiritually encourage them?

Discovering Your Identity

” But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God.” – John 1:12  

Do you ever feel you are right smack dab in the middle of an identity crisis? While everyone around you is pursuing their passions and chasing their dreams, you’re just trying to make sense of who you are and what you’re supposed to be doing with your life. It doesn’t help that you see the achievements of the people around you. For example, one man you know started a flourishing company while a woman you know became a fighter pilot after graduating from college.

Perhaps, this is the reason the internet is bursting with personal development courses. Seeking to reach our full potential, we opt into the “how-to” topics such as: breaking through obstacles to manifest your best life, increasing your confidence and self-esteem, discovering your hidden potential, and mastering life through happiness, health and success. 

It is easy to associate our actions with our identity. But that is not what God does. Our culture may draw a line from our work to our worth, but God has another identity for us, one that’s unchanging and independent of our actions. It’s as His chosen and beloved child. John 1:12 says, “But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God.”

God’s acceptance of us, and hence our identity, is not defined by our actions. So we will never be a “failure” or “disappointment” when our performance doesn’t match our expectations. The only thing that matters is what our Heavenly Father thinks about us. And that is unchanging. Once we really believe this truth, our identity will be unshakable.

The Bible is replete with examples of people following Jesus. No longer were they harlots, vagabonds, tax collectors, or society’s outcasts. They were chosen by the Lord. They were accepted. And they were necessary. 

You are chosen by God. Remembering whose we are and that He chose us brings the entire picture into a better light. When we acknowledge ourselves as God’s children and understand His great love for us, we embrace grace. We no longer feel trapped by our past choices, our upbringing, or our social status. We are not manipulated into being someone we are not based on the voices around us or the ones inside our heads. We can let all that go because we belong to Jesus. You no longer need to stand on your personal merits or achievements. Your identity is found in Christ alone. 1 Peter 2:9 says, “ But you are not like that, for you are a chosen people. You are royal priests, a holy nation, God’s very own possession. As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for he called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light.” 

Just as Jesus called His disciples to identify with Him, He calls us to do the same. Follow Him. Serve Him. Belong to Him. In doing so, we are choosing to find our identity in Him and in no other. 

Discussion Questions:

  1. The only way we grow in our identity in Christ is by seeking the Lord because He is the one who restores and transforms us. Agree or disagree and why?
  2. According to Ephesians 1:4, what truth should be fully realized in order to find identity in Christ?

The Attributes Of God – God Never Changes

What are God’s attributes? When we talk about the attributes of God, we are trying to answer questions like, Who is God, What is God like, and What kind of God is He? It is important to study and know God’s attributes so we can grow closer to Him. How we view God impacts everything. So when we understand and embrace who God is, it gives us a firm foundation for our faith. Each Friday we will look at the attributes of God. This week, God never changes.

“Remember God is the same, whatever is removed. Your friends may be disaffected, your ministers may be taken away, and everything may change, but God does not. Your brethren may change and cast out your name as vile: but God will love you still. Let your station in life change, and your property be gone; let your whole life be shaken, and you become weak and sickly; let everything flee away—there is one place where change cannot put his finger; there is one name on which mutability can never be written; there is one heart which never can alter; that heart is God’s—that name love “- Charles Spurgeon. 

That sermon from Charles Spurgeon is approximately 167 years old, yet it speaks to the human heart today. Life on the Emerald Coast over the last few years has taught us that change is inevitable. But amidst all the change, we still long for a love relationship that is secure enough for us to attach our hope to it without fear it will falter or ultimately fizzle out. Our God is unchangeable because He is perfect. Nothing can be added or taken away from Him. Everything He does is consistent with who He is. God’s promises are the same, and His ability to keep them will never waver. Malachi 3:5 says “I am the Lord, and I do not change. That is why you descendants of Jacob are not already destroyed.” God is immutable. 

In short, God’s immutability means we can count on Him, no matter what.  God is unchanging in His character, will, and promises. The influences that cause a change in your life have no effect on God. His knowledge and wisdom will not increase or diminish. God does not compromise or change His values. Life and its uncertainties may shake you, but God does not move. 

If you cling to Him, His strength will sustain you. Psalm 33:11 states, “The LORD’s plans stand firm forever; His intentions can never be shaken”  God’s plan is unchangeable. It existed at the beginning of creation and remains the same today. And we are part of His plan. Paul explains, “We are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things He planned for us long ago” (Ephesians 2:10) Psalm 18:30 states, “God’s way is perfect. All the LORD’s promises prove true.”  

God’s commitment to you is as strong as He is eternally constant. The storms of life are continually changing, but God remains the same. He is consistent and reliable. He is your anchor. You can count on God because He never changes. “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.” (Hebrews 13:8)

Discussion Questions:

  1. Nobody likes change all that well.  What life changes were difficult for you to navigate?  
  2. Read Numbers 23:19. How have you personally experienced God’s consistency lately?
  3. How does the fact that God is immutable change how you live your life?

Do You Tend To Play It Safe?

“After a long time their master returned from his trip and called them to give an account of how they had used his money. The servant to whom he had entrusted the five bags of silver came forward with five more and said, ‘Master, you gave me five bags of silver to invest, and I have earned five more.’“The master was full of praise. ‘Well done, my good and faithful servant. You have been faithful in handling this small amount, so now I will give you many more responsibilities. Let’s celebrate together!” – Matthew 25:19-21. 

 In Matthew 25, Jesus gives us the parable of the three servants. The parable is about a master who left bags of gold in the care of three servants. To the first man, he gave five bags. To another, he gave two bags. And to the third man, he gave one bag of gold. The first two men invested the gold the master gave them, but the man with one bag dug a hole in the ground and buried it. The man with one bag was afraid and didn’t want to take a risk, so he played it safe. “I was afraid I would lose your money, so I hid it in the earth.…” (Matthew 25:25)

The master called him a “wicked and lazy servant,” and took the bag of gold away. That seems a little harsh on the surface. He made a decision, similar to modern people hiding money under their mattresses or in other places. He was unwilling to take a risk because he was afraid. The question is are we all that different? 

God has given each of us a gift that is more precious than gold. But sometimes we want to hide it away for safekeeping. Not because we don’t want to share it, but because we’re afraid. Maybe we are afraid of what people might say, or what could happen. Oy maybe we are afraid to step out of our comfort zone. So we play it safe.  

But God didn’t call us to play it safe. He called us to be courageous. The life of a Christian is an adventure. The journey with God is full of surprises. It is based on the fact that you never know what is around the next bend. Nor do you know that in the next minute you will have the opportunity to change your life or someone else’s life for all eternity. The most important decisions of our lives will require us to stop being invisible and risk becoming visible. A little dramatic? Maybe. But, we must never underestimate the importance of one moment, one word, one deed in the life of another human being. And these moments seldom come at a convenient time and they never come if we tend to stand on the sidelines.

Taking risks is simply stepping up and God stepping in. How often do we start the day with this question: What can I do today to make a difference in the world? What opportunities is God giving me today? Those opportunities can be anything from listening to praying, to giving somebody a ride to work, to buying some groceries.

Discussion Questions

  1. How would you rate your aversion to risk? 
  2. How does your personality impact your ability to take risks?
  3. What can you do this week to seize the opportunities God gives us?
     

Do We Need To Be Lifelong Learners?

“And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.” – Philippians 1:6.

Lifelong learning has grown in importance over the last few years. Rather than restricting education to college or formal training, lifelong learners continue to grow knowledge and understanding over time. The idea of lifelong learning should be no surprise to the Christian. Centuries before this way of thinking became in vogue, Jesus told his followers to become lifelong learners of him. He called it discipleship.

Our purpose, as Christians today is the same as in biblical times. We must never stop learning about and from Jesus. Paul said, “And you should imitate me, just as I imitate Christ.” (1 Corinthians 11:1)  Another translation puts it this way, “Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.” (ESV)

We will never follow Jesus perfectly, but day by day, month by month, year by year, we learn from Him and become more like Him as He transforms us by his Spirit. Philippians 1:6 is comforting: “And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished. . .” Yes, we have the great promise of completion, but there is an additional line: “…on the day when Christ Jesus returns.” The loop of learning doesn’t close today or tomorrow but could well last a lifetime.  

The focal point and center of our lifelong learning is the person and work of Christ. All things are in Him, through Him, and for Him. “He existed before anything else, and he holds all creation together.” (Colossians 1:17).  The heart of lifelong learning for the Christian is not merely digging deeper into the seemingly bottomless store of information there is to learn about the world and humanity and history. The center of lifelong learning for the Christian is knowing God Himself through the gospel word and the written word of the Scriptures. But you can’t say you have a high view of scripture and then ignore it. You need to put it into practice.

Lifelong learning of God’s Word is something God commands us to do, but it is not a burden. Instead, we are to abide in God’s Word in our habits, thoughts, actions, and words in a variety of ways throughout life. Never stop learning. Nourish your relationship with God every day. Keep on growing in His grace—and your lifelong learning of His truth.  

Discussion Questions:

  1. What does lifelong learning mean to you?  
  2. What can we do to ensure that we never stop learning?

Abigail And Taking Risks

“David replied to Abigail, “Praise the Lord, the God of Israel, who has sent you to meet me today! Thank God for your good sense! Bless you for keeping me from murder and from carrying out vengeance with my own hands. For I swear by the Lord, the God of Israel, who has kept me from hurting you, that if you had not hurried out to meet me, not one of Nabal’s men would still be alive tomorrow morning.” Then David accepted her present and told her, “Return home in peace. I have heard what you said. We will not kill your husband.” – 1 Samuel 25:32-35.

When you hear “risk-taking” does your adrenaline start to flow? Do the butterflies in your stomach take flight in anticipation? The thought of facing a tough challenge or taking a risk is simply not as exciting and adventurous as movies would have us think. In reality, we find a certain safety in remaining in our comfort zones, protected and secure.

As followers of Christ, we will be called to step out of our comfort zones. When the Holy Spirit calls us to step out and take a risk, how do we respond? The Bible teaches us a lot about ordinary people at that critical moment when a decision had to be made, they chose to take the risk. One such story is Abigail found in 1 Samuel 25. 

David came to Nabal (Abigail’s husband) requesting food for his army. Nabal rejected the request, by saying “Who is this fellow David?” Nabal sneered to the young men. “Who does this son of Jesse think he is? There are lots of servants these days who run away from their masters. Should I take my bread and my water and my meat that I’ve slaughtered for my shearers and give it to a band of outlaws who come from who knows where?” (1 Samuel 25:1-11)  David was angry and felt his only recourse was retaliation. He set out to kill Nabal and all his men. When hearing about what happened Abigail jumped into action even though Nabal would have never consented to her actions. 

She presented gifts to David in the most submissive, respectful way. She bowed down in his presence to ask forgiveness on behalf of Nabal. (1 Samuel 25:23) David was so moved by Abigail’s eloquent speech, he thanked God for sending her. Abigail risked her relationship with her husband to defuse a deadly situation. Her safety, her home, and her heart were saved because she trusted God.

What if we were in Abigail’s shoes? Would we exhibit the same kind of bold faith God wants to see in us? The kind of faith that makes a difference in our lives and our world. Bold faith happens when we learn to take risks for God.

 If we are facing a seemingly insurmountable problem–a situation that we believe we are powerless to influence–we should be still and wait on the Lord. But there will also be times when action is required, where we may be asked to take bold steps, and yes, to take some risks. Faith is simply doing what God tells you to do whether you feel like it or not, and in fact, especially when you don’t feel like it, regardless of the circumstances because God will see you thru.

 

 Discussion Questions:

  1. Why do you think God asks us to take risks? What do we learn about ourselves, and how do we grow by taking risks?
  2. What are the obstacles to stepping out of our zones of comfort and taking risks?
  3. Is there an area of your life where you’ve sensed God nudging you to take a step of faith? Have you been holding back, questioning the outcome of taking that step? 

God Is Love

“Dear friends, let us continue to love one another, for love comes from God. Anyone who loves is a child of God and knows God. But anyone who does not love does not know God, for God is love.” – 1 John 4:7-8. 

As Christians, we should understand and appreciate how unconditionally, irrevocably, and ridiculously loved by God we are. Just imagine: You are already loved by God. No conditions. No qualifications. No ifs, and, or buts about it. Whoever you are, wherever you’ve been, whatever you’ve done in the course of your life, you are already loved and accepted. 

When John wrote 1st John, he seemed overwhelmed with the reality of God’s love. Why else would he talk about it over 30 times? John discovered that God’s love is pure, the perfect motivation. His love has power. It casts out fear and overcomes worry, doubt, and anxiety. This love is forgiving and kind. It is practical and applies in every situation we face. Accepting God’s love transforms our lives.

God’s desire is to completely overwhelm you with His love. The love of God will guide you, establish you, empower you, and fully delight you. His love will free you, compel you, and sustain you. He longs for you to live a lifestyle of love because He knows that’s the absolute, most fulfilling, purposeful, and peaceful way of life for you. He longs to set you free from the burdens of living for your own gain. He longs to lead you to the path of abundant life. But it all starts with simply receiving His love.

Take a moment and read what Paul says in Romans 8: “Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love?… No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us. And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:35-39)

Such love is beyond our ability to grasp with our minds, but it is not beyond our ability to experience with our hearts. The more we study it, the more we understand it, and the more we realize, that we will move steadily beyond our understanding. But it does not mean that we cannot have confidence in the fact that God unconditionally loves us. Know it, cling to it, and remember it; don’t underestimate the love of God for you.

If we understand God’s love, we realize that He is love. Motivated by that love, we love to please Him and fellowship with Him. We love to know His Word and show love to others around us.  

Focus your thoughts on God right now. Love Him, unconditionally. Thank Him for His love. And let that love flow you to people all around you.

Discussion Questions:

  1. What is your definition of “unconditional love”?
  2. How often do you try to grasp the love of God?