The Attributes Of God – God Is Glorious

What are God’s attributes? Each Friday we will look at an attribute of God. This week, God is glorious.  Defining the glory of God is impossible.

“The glory of God is the infinite beauty and greatness of God’s manifold perfections. The infinite beauty—and I am focusing on the manifestation of His character and His worth and attributes — all of His perfections and greatness are beautiful as they are seen, and there are many of them. That is why I use the word manifold.” – John Piper. 

What is the glory of God? And what does it mean to glorify Him in our everyday lives? The glory of God is a term used often in the Bible.

When Moses asked God in Exodus 33:18, “show me your glorious presence” he wasn’t asking for a glimpse of the vault of heaven or to hear a list of God’s credentials read aloud to him. He was asking to see God–to see Him for everything He is. To see His greatness, His splendor, His majesty, His perfect holiness, His goodness. The Bible doesn’t say this, but I wonder if after he said it, Moses was worried about getting what he asked for. It was no small request that could cost him dearly. In verse 20, God says, “…you may not look directly at my face, for no one may see me and live.” Moses is shielded from seeing God’s face, but God says in verse 19,  “I will make all my goodness pass before you.”  

The scriptures tell us: ”[He] has weighed the mountains and hills on a scale? … all the nations of the world are, but a drop in the bucket. [to Him] …[He] spreads out the heavens like a curtain and makes his tent from them.” (Isaiah 40: 12, 15, 22). The prophet attempts to give God’s glory some scale through word pictures. Still, even these very picturesque and helpful descriptions fall miserably short of capturing the awesome glory of God. God’s glory encompasses the greatness, beauty, and perfection of all He is. There is none like Him; He has no rivals, and no valid comparisons can be made to Him. He is beyond our ability to estimate, understand or describe.

There is one activity that Scripture associates far more than any other with glorifying God, and that is worship. At its heart, worship ascribes all glory to God alone. We can glorify God in many ways, but Scripture indicates that nothing we do delights God more than calling on His name with sincere hearts and declaring that all glory belongs to Him.

1 Corinthians 10:31 says “So whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.”

Discussion Questions:

  1. The definition of glorifying God is: To honor God by our lives showing His splendor, love, and perfection, that His presence is seen in us. In what ways does the believer do this in everyday life?
  2. What can we do this week to glorify God?

What Are You Afraid Of?

But Moses told the people, “Don’t be afraid. Just stand still and watch the Lord rescue you today. The Egyptians you see today will never be seen again. The Lord himself will fight for you. Just stay calm.” – Exodus 14:13-14

We all have fears. Some people may be afraid of rollercoasters, sharks, spiders, or the dark. However, there are also fears that seem to follow us around on a daily basis. Whether they be fears of the future, financial trouble, health concerns, failure, or disappointment. On our own, we can find it difficult not to let anxious thoughts occupy our minds and ideas. However, when we rely not on our own strength but on God’s power, we can find that our anxieties and stresses do not overtake us.

In the Bible, and the Psalms especially, we can find many references to having faith over fear and trusting in God in difficult times. “The Lord is for me, so I will have no fear. What can mere people do to me?” (Psalm 118:6)  Psalm 27:1 says, “The Lord is my light and my salvation— so why should I be afraid…?” God has a plan for our lives and did not create us to be fearful: “For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.” (2 Timothy 1:7). When we have God on our side, we need not be afraid. With Christ in our lives, we know that there is hope for the future.

Look at the events that take place in Exodus 14. God has brought the Israelite people out of slavery in Egypt and is guiding them to the promised land. There’s just one small problem. They barely make it to the edge of the Red Sea before the pharaoh changes his mind and starts to chase them down. Naturally, the people are terrified. They begin to cry out against Moses, saying they should’ve never even left Egypt.  It was in this moment that Moses stands before God’s people and delivers perhaps the GOAT of motivational speeches: “…Don’t be afraid. Just stand still and watch the Lord rescue you today. The Egyptians you see today will never be seen again. The Lord himself will fight for you. Just stay calm.” (Exodus 14:13-14)

Moses had faith in God and His promised deliverance. He was reminding the Israelites that when God begins something He will see it through to the end. No king or people or group is a match for God. In the midst of their terror, Moses encouraged the Israelites to have faith in the power of God.

What does that have to do with our fears today? Even when everything around us seems to be falling apart and we can’t imagine how anything good could come from our present circumstances, God still moves, still provides, and still makes a way for His name to be glorified.

While you probably won’t completely rid yourself of fear, not this side of heaven anyway, it doesn’t have to control your life. Your reasons to trust God are so much greater than your fears.

Discussion Questions:

  1. Max Lucado says, “The presence of fear does not mean you have no faith. Fear visits everyone. But make your fear a visitor and not a resident.” How does one go about doing that?
  2. What can you do this week to diminish fear and increase your faith? 

I Can Trust God With My Grief

“Be gracious to me, O Lord, for I am in distress, my eye is wasted from grief; my soul and body also. For my life is spent with sorrow, and my years with sighing”Psalm 31:9-10 (ESV).

In times of grief, it is hard to keep trusting in God — and in His plan for our life. There are things that happen that completely take the starch out of the present and seemingly our future. A heartbreaking loss seems like it will take years to truly recover and heal.   

You are not alone. Nobody escapes this life without battle scars. No matter how strong your faith or deep your love for Jesus is, you will experience pain. But if you choose to trust God, you’ll also experience deep joy, peace, freedom, and hope. Learning how to trust God’s plan for your life will get you through your loss, no matter how heartbreaking it is.

So, as we search for something to grab hold of in the midst of grief that will bring comfort, or as we search for words to say to someone else who is grieving, we want to make sure that what we’re grabbing hold of, or offering to someone else to hold onto, is profoundly, fully, and eternally true.

C.S. Lewis wrote in Mere Christianity, “Comfort is the one thing you cannot get by looking for it. If you look for truth, you may find comfort in the end. If you look for comfort, you will not get either comfort or truth — only soft soap and wishful thinking to begin with and, in the end, despair.”

It seems counterintuitive, but grief and grace co-mingle pretty well together. When we are grieving God does not throw up His hands and say, “I’m done with him or her. Where is their faith?”  God loves each one of us and His grace will never leave us.  Psalm 94:18-19 reminds us, ‘I cried out, “I am slipping!” but your unfailing love, O Lord, supported me. When doubts filled my mind, your comfort gave me renewed hope and cheer.’”

You can read God’s words for you in Hebrews: “This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin. So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.” (Hebrews 4:15-16). God is reminding us that He isn’t far off. He wants to comfort you. He wants you to find His grace.

Trust God in hard times. Even when times are hard and grief seems to be a constant companion, trusting God is possible. In a time of loss, choose to trust that God is still with you and has a glorious plan for your life. As David said in Psalm 31:14, “But I am trusting you, O LORD, saying, “You are my God!”

Discussion Questions:

  1. How can you tell your grief is affecting you more than you thought it was? 
  2. Have other people suggested that you need “to get on with it” and move on? Is this good advice? What do you need to say to them when they tell you this? 
  3. What does it mean to lean into God in your grief? How do we effectively do that?  

The Attributes Of God – God Never Changes

What are God’s attributes? Each Friday we will look at an attribute of God. This week, God never changes.  The Bible clearly tells us that God is unchanging. “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.” (Hebrews 13:8)  Malachi 3:6 says, “I am the Lord, and I do not change…” While everything around us is changing, we can depend on God continually showing us His grace, love, and compassion. All our material possessions may blow away, but God is still there.

“Oh, how great are God’s riches and wisdom and knowledge! How impossible it is for us to understand his decisions and his ways!” –  Psalm 90:2

Just think about that for a moment. How many friends have you had and lost or become distant from over the years because you just “grew apart?” It’s because one of you changed. But God never changes. 

God is unchanging in His existence. There has never been a time when God was not. There will never be a time when He will cease to be. Psalm 102:27 says, “But you are always the same; you will live forever.” All that He is today, He has always been, and forever will be. He cannot improve for the better, because He is already perfect. His power can never diminish and His glory will never fade. His existence never changes.

His Mercy is unchanging. Psalm 100:5 says, “For the Lord is good. His unfailing love continues forever, and his faithfulness continues to each generation.” The same is true with His sovereignty, holiness, power, faithfulness, goodness, patience, grace, and even His wrath. His attributes never change.

The God we serve is the same God today as He was the day He raised Jesus from the grave. He is the same God today as He was when He spoke the world into existence. He is the God who saves and He is the God in whom you can place your hope.  If God never changes, then that means His love is forever. His forgiveness is forever. His salvation is forever. His promises are forever. And His attributes are forever. 

 We should find extreme comfort in God’s unchanging nature. Every created thing in this life will let you down at some point in time. Whether it is circumstances, relationships, health, career, children, technology, etc. However unstable the circumstances around us are, God never changes. 

A.W. Tozer said, “God never changes moods or cools off in His affections or loses enthusiasm.  His attitude toward sin is now the same as it was when He drove out the sinful man from the garden, and His attitude toward the sinner the same as when He stretched forth His hand and cried, ‘Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.’”  

Discussion Questions:

  1. How does God’s unchangeableness have the power to change us?
  2. How would we live our lives differently if we truly believed all God’s promises will never change?

True Happiness Can Only Be Found In God

“Yes, joyful are those who live like this! Joyful indeed are those whose God is the LORD.” – Psalm 144:15.

Human history is the story of mankind’s search for true and lasting happiness. Some find it, some don’t. Even billionaires who appear to have it all and want for nothing can’t seem to find true contentment and joy.

We are probably not one of the approximately 3,311 billionaires looking for happiness. While we are in a different place financially, we still look for happiness: often in the wrong places. We focus on what is not important rather than what is. We all experience happiness at different times in our lives. But if our happiness is found outside of God, then it is temporary.  True happiness cannot be found in relationships, wealth, status, or accomplishments because all of these things can be undone or disappear rather quickly. When that happens, we are giving away our joy, nobody is stealing it.

Happiness is a choice.  Randy Alcorn says, “Those who sit around waiting to be happy shouldn’t hold their breath—it will likely be a long wait.” True happiness comes from having a relationship with God, our Creator, and Jesus His Son. That’s where true and lasting happiness comes from—not in stuff we build up here on earth. When we know, love, and serve God, His peace invades our hearts and we can see life in a different way.

God is eternal, His purpose is perfect, and we are forever His. He gives us all things and works all things for our good. What makes God’s gifts so special is not the thing given but the One who gives it. If we are going to be happy, truly happy, then we have to look behind the gifts we enjoy when days are easy to the God who gives them. And when days are dark we have to look beyond our painful circumstances to the God who loves us and strengthens us.

Being “joyful always” doesn’t mean we have to walk around with a fake smile on our face all the time, ignore reality or suppress every negative emotion. This verse simply implores us to intentionally let our faith, not our feelings, dictate our joy. The secret to real happiness isn’t really a secret at all.

To find true happiness you must look to the Lord Jesus, find beauty in His character, fall in love with His work, and stand in awe at what He has done for you and the future you have in Him. In Him, we have real joy. 

Discussion Questions:

  1. Do you believe joy is a feeling or a choice?
  2. Remind yourself of the importance of rejoicing by searching the Bible—both Old and New Testaments—for God’s instructions in this area. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 reminds us it’s God’s will that we “rejoice always” and “give thanks in all circumstances.”

Dependence On God

Living in the spirit means that I trust the Holy Spirit to do in me what I cannot do myself. This is completely different from the life I would naturally live of myself. Each time I am faced with a new demand from the Lord, I look to Him to do in me what He requires of me. It is not a case of trying, but of trusting; not of struggling, but of resting in him.” – Watchman Nee. 

We need to be dependent on God. But here is the catch: you and I don’t always like having to depend upon God. So instead of learning to depend on God, we spend our whole lives trying to supplement our dependence upon Him.  We try to put enough money in the bank so we don’t have to depend on Him for our daily bread. We try to control our decisions so we have some control over how much we need to depend on God. 

Dependence starts by acknowledging Almighty God as the owner of everything, and the controller of every circumstance. Nothing is impossible with God, and everything is within His reach. Your part is to trust and obey, and His part is to do the rest. Dependency depends on Him working in and through you. “For 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)

Jesus said in John 15:5:” Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing.” Jesus wants us to stay “plugged in” to Him, and depend upon Him, to be able to do anything in the Christian life.

Jesus is not an add-on to a full and balanced life—He is our life. It is short-sighted to use the Lord as a last resort only after we have exhausted ourselves and our resources. That is not dependence on Him. “But they delight in the law of the Lord, meditating on it day and night. They are like trees planted along the riverbank, bearing fruit each season. Their leaves never wither, and they prosper in all they do.” (Psalm 1:2-3).

The Beatitudes are character qualities of Jesus Himself. He lived them out perfectly. He demonstrated dependence on God the Father continually throughout His life on earth. In John 5:19, Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself. He does only what he sees the Father doing. Whatever the Father does, the Son also does.” Jesus knew He had to depend upon His Father for everything He did here on earth.

In the same way, we can do nothing without Jesus. Just as Jesus could do nothing without the Father, so we can do nothing apart from Jesus. We will inevitably struggle in heart, body, mind, or community, and so our ultimate reliance on God is demonstrated through daily embracing His undeserved grace and never-failing love.

Discussion Questions:

  1. When do you tend to learn the most about God–when things are going well or when things are going poorly? Why do you think that is so?  
  2. How can you display dependence on God in times of pain and times of prosperity?

The Attributes Of God – The Wisdom Of God

What are God’s attributes? Each Friday we will look at an attribute of God. This week, the wisdom of God. On a human level, we learn wisdom through experience, usually by the wrong application of knowledge. We may act wisely from time to time, but we also act rashly or foolishly at other times. The wisdom of God, on the other hand, is perfection. God must act wisely in everything He does, not because He has wisdom, but because He is wisdom.

“Oh, how great are God’s riches and wisdom and knowledge! How impossible it is for us to understand his decisions and his ways!” – Romans 11:33

Like Solomon, Christians have prayed for wisdom. James 1:5 speaks to God’s promise to give wisdom any time we ask for it. This powerful assurance is comforting since we need wisdom. We may be sometimes wise, but God is always wise.

Trying to wrap our arms around the wisdom of God is impossible. Man cannot, through his own wisdom, knowledge, and learning, come to an understanding of the wisdom of God. His understanding is infinite, and so there is no earthly comparison. His knowledge is immutable, for He knows all, and is all in all. Mankind will never understand the solitary, unending, limitless, established wisdom of God. 

Indeed, when we see wisdom like this, we realize just how much our limited, finite wisdom compares with the limitless, infinite wisdom of God. The fact that God can never be wiser means He is always doing the wisest thing in our lives. In God’s perfect way and God’s perfect time, He continues with His perfect plan. No plan we could make for our lives could be better than the plan He has already crafted and is carrying out for us. We might not understand His ways today, but we can trust that because God is infinitely wise and is working all things out in the best possible way.

The fact that God is wisdom, that He knows all and knows how to use all, should make us trust Him more. Living out a life of wisdom was never designed to highlight our handling of things, but rather when we realize that we aren’t enough on our own. We realize that in Christ we have more than enough to equip us to live bigger, bolder, and fuller lives.

Discussion Questions:

  1. In what area of your life have you asked God for wisdom recently?
  2. What is one way you could use the knowledge you’ve been given to impact the world around you?

When God Is Speaking To Me

“When God speaks, he does not give new revelation about himself that contradicts what he has already revealed in Scripture. Rather, God speaks to give application of his Word to the specific circumstances in your life. When God speaks to you, he is not writing a new book of Scripture; rather, he is applying to your life what he has already said in his Word.” ―  Henry T. Blackaby, Hearing God’s Voice. 

As Christians, we talk a lot about having a personal relationship with God, But a genuine relationship is impossible without a two-way conversation. In order to know God for yourself, you need to hear God’s voice.  When we choose to follow Him, God gives us the Holy Spirit who speaks to us wherever we are. The challenge is learning to discern God’s voice above the others we hear. 

We spend a lot of time wondering if God is speaking to us.  But think about that for a minute. It seems unlikely that we would pray and speak to God without expecting God to speak back. The fact of the matter is that God doesn’t try to speak to us. God does. God does speak to us, but various aspects of our lives get in the way. We are distracted, or too busy, or we are having trouble with our earthly relationships so He’s not able to get through. In other words, we are blocking His attempt to speak to us. 

If God has something to say, He has no trouble getting His message across. Can you name a single place in Scripture where God tried to communicate something but didn’t get through? Look at Saul of Tarsus. He was a passionate insurrectionary who was persecuting the church and putting to death men and women who trusted in Jesus as the Messiah. Acts 9:4 says, “…“Saul! Saul! Why are you persecuting me?” Paul didn’t say when he picked himself up off the ground blind, “Gee, I wonder if God was trying to tell me something there on the road to Damascus.” 

Although God may seem silent regarding a specific request or petition, remember that He is in a constant state of communication with us. In fact, it is possible that you already have an answer from God. The Bible is full of specific answers about what is right and wrong, as well as information about God’s character and His intention for us as His followers.

“Is God speaking to me?” God didn’t have any problem speaking to any one of us. The point is this: if God is not speaking to me then what is in the way that keeps me from hearing Him?  

Discussion Questions:

  1. Read 1 Corinthians 2:9-10, 12.  How does God speak to us today?  Why is this important? What can happen when we try to “hear” God apart from the Spirit?
  2. Why is the primacy and authority of scripture so important when we are listening to God?  Discuss how we hear God’s voice through scripture.  
  3. What is the most important role of prayer in how we listening for God’s voice? 

The Attributes Of God – The Grace Of God

What are God’s attributes? Each Friday we will look at an attribute of God. This week, the grace of God. Grace is the bestowal of blessing unearned or unmerited. When we speak of God’s grace, we speak of those wonderful gifts, like salvation, that no man deserves but God grants anyway.

“But there is a great difference between Adam’s sin and God’s gracious gift. For the sin of this one man, Adam, brought death to many. But even greater is God’s wonderful grace and his gift of forgiveness to many through this other man, Jesus Christ….God’s law was given so that all people could see how sinful they were. But as people sinned more and more, God’s wonderful grace became more abundant.” – Romans 5:15, 20.

While all of God’s attributes should evoke a sense of awe, humility, and wonder, grace is one of the most astounding and life-transforming aspects of God’s character. From the beginning of time, God has chosen to give us grace rather than His wrath. Time and time again, we’ve turned our backs on Him, and yet “ He is so rich in kindness and grace that he purchased our freedom with the blood of his Son and forgave our sins.” (Ephesians 1:7)  

Both the Old and New Testaments describe God’s character as gracious, meaning that He is full of grace and kindness. This is how God described Himself to Moses: “Yahweh! The Lord! The God of compassion and mercy! I am slow to anger and filled with unfailing love and faithfulness.” (Exodus 34:6-7). King David also wrote about God’s graciousness: “The Lord is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love. The Lord is good to all; he has compassion on all he has made.” (Psalm 145:8-9 NIV). King Hezekiah proclaimed that “…for the Lord your God is gracious and compassionate… ” (2 Chronicles 30:9 NIV). The apostle Peter called God “the God of all grace.” (1 Peter 5:10)

Each morning we wake up is a show of God’s grace. If you’re able to drive to work in a car or have money to take the bus, those are displays of God’s grace and mercy. Jesus teaches us that God doesn’t hoard good. He doesn’t hoard His grace or give it out to a limited number of special people. God demonstrates a desire for everyone to experience His grace. This includes “those people who are annoying maddening or just bad.” In Jesus’ time, the so-called “bad people” were tax collectors, sinners, Samaritans, and Gentiles. But Jesus welcomed these people and forgave them. Jesus puts God’s grace on display to humankind.

It’s God’s grace that equips you. It’s God’s grace that holds you. It’s God’s grace that grants you a relationship with Him and eternal life with Him.  

As God’s grace works in our lives, we learn how to extend it to others. Through our actions, the grace of God blesses those who come in contact with us and become a testimony to others.

Discussion Questions:

  1. Does grace erase the consequences of wrongdoing? Why or why not? 
  2. How might your life change if you were to accept God’s free gift of grace, love, forgiveness, and mercy?

The Attributes Of God – The Goodness Of God

What are God’s attributes? Each Friday we will look at an attribute of God. This week, the goodness of God. The clear message of Scripture is that God is uniquely good and that He is the measure for everything we call good. Considered together with His wisdom and power, Christians can be assured that God not only desires to reveal His goodness but is able to accomplish His good plan in the best possible way.

For he raised us from the dead along with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ Jesus. So God can point to us in all future ages as examples of the incredible wealth of his grace and kindness toward us, as shown in all he has done for us who are united with Christ Jesus.” – Ephesians 2:6-7.

God’s goodness simply can’t be fully grasped.  How can any human being ever get their head around the awesome goodness of God? It transcends our understanding, yet we know its truth through scripture. God’s love and goodness are universal. It encompasses all people. Psalm 145:8-10 says, “The Lord is merciful and compassionate, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love. The Lord is good to everyone. He showers compassion on all his creation. All of your works will thank you, Lord, and your faithful followers will praise you.“  

When we are saved and we love and serve God we experience the boundless riches of God’s grace and goodness toward us. We experience what David says in Psalm 23:6, “Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will live in the house of the Lord forever.” Think about that for a second: the goodness of Good follows us. 

The question is how is God’s goodness showing up in our daily lives? There is any number of ways, When we leave our lives in the hands of our good God, we will see the good things God has for us. We see the goodness of God in how He sustains us each day. He is faithful to meet our physical needs and loves us through the people He’s placed around us. Even when life is hard, we can trust God to sustain us. We can trust God’s providence even if His provision doesn’t align with our desires.

Forgiveness reveals God’s goodness, daily. Daily, we come to God for forgiveness, because we all fall short of the glory of God. (Romans 3:23) In His goodness and through the sacrifice of His Son, we are able to embrace the gift of forgiveness He has given to us, and thus forgive others as He has done for us. In the greatest act of love, God sent His one and only Son, Jesus Christ, the promised Messiah of the Old Testament, to earth. Fully God and fully man, Jesus came to earth to die a sacrificial death on the cross by crucifixion. He was innocent, yet died a criminal’s death, intentionally for us. The cross is a daily reminder of the goodness of God.

Discussion Questions:

  1. If circumstances in your life cause you to doubt God’s goodness, where in Scripture can you turn for reassurance and confidence? 
  2. Which of God’s other attributes can assure you that God is able to exercise His goodness? Can you think of more than one? 
  3. If somebody asked you about the goodness of God, what would you say?