The Attributes Of God – God Is Just And Merciful

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? An attribute of God is something true about Him. Each Friday we will look at the attributes of God. This week, God is just.

“Therefore the LORD waits to be gracious to you, and therefore he exalts himself to show mercy to you. For the LORD is a God of justice; blessed are all those who wait for him.” – Isaiah 30:18 (ESV). 

We have been talking each Friday about the attributes of God. The problem is there are not enough Fridays in our lifetimes to talk about the attributes of God, the glories of God, and the perfections of God. “Great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised, and his greatness is unsearchable.” (Psalm 146:3) Try as we will, we will never unwrap the glories of God as revealed in Scripture.

In Isaiah 30:18 we see two characteristics of God: His mercy and His justice. God is powerful and just. This verse reveals so much about God’s character and how good He is. This verse gives us direction in how we are to live and reveals that God waits. He waits to be gracious. Let that sink in for a moment. The Lord waits to be gracious to you. He longs to pour out His favor and show you mercy. Isaiah 30:15 reveals why He waits, “This is what the Sovereign LORD, the Holy One of Israel, says: “Only in returning to me and resting in me will you be saved. In quietness and confidence is your strength…”

But God is a God of justice. He is absolutely just. God cannot be fooled. Because He is all-knowing and ever-present, He has all the facts at His disposal. He knows the circumstances and motives, so His decisions are always based on absolute truth. God is also a perfect judge. “Everything He does is just and fair. He is a faithful God who does no wrong; how just and upright He is!” (Deuteronomy 32:4)  

Justice is one of the pillars of society, but there are times when justice is compromised by people seeking personal gain. But while it is possible to manipulate justice in our courts, we cannot manipulate God’s justice. Because He is a just God, His verdict will always be right. King David said, “For the righteous Lord loves justice…” (Psalm 11:7)

Because God is just, He will always treat you fairly. However, as the holy and righteous creator and sovereign of the universe, God cannot ignore any act of sin. The psalmist writes, “You spread out our sins before You — our secret sins — and You see them all… Who can comprehend the power of Your anger? Your wrath is as awesome as the fear You deserve.” (Psalm 90:8,11)  

“God will judge us for everything we do, including every secret thing, whether good or bad.” (Ecclesiastes 12:14)

Discussion Questions:

  1. Has there ever been a time when your idea of justice and God’s idea of justice were different? How did you reconcile those feelings? 
  2. Does justice mean forgive and forget? Why is it important that God confronts evil and sin and holds people accountable?

The Attributes Of God – God Is Righteous

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? An attribute of God is something true about Him. Each Friday we will look at the attributes of God. This week, God is righteous.

“The LORD is righteous in all His ways and faithful in all He does.” – Psalm 145:17 (NIV).

The righteousness of God, one of the most prominent attributes of God in the Scriptures, is also one of the most elusive. Initially, distinguishing the righteousness of God from His holiness or His goodness seems difficult. God always acts righteously; His every action is consistent with His character. God is always consistently “Godly.” God is not defined by the term “righteous” as much as the term “righteous” is defined by God. Righteousness is part of God’s character. Since He is righteous, that means that there is no other way for Him to act because He must remain true to who He is. 

We live in an age when the distinction between right and wrong is becoming increasingly blurred. Our culture believes that what is morally right varies from person to person and situation to situation. Yet God’s standards do not change; they are timeless. God’s laws are a reflection of His own righteous nature. Through faith in Christ, we are given His righteousness. He bore our sin at the cross, then blesses us with the gift of His righteousness when we come to faith in Him.

Romans 3:21-22 (ESV) says, “But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction.” Romans 5: 17 says, “For the sin of this one man, Adam, caused death to rule over many. But even greater is God’s wonderful grace and his gift of righteousness, for all who receive it will live in triumph over sin and death through this one man, Jesus Christ.” 2 Corinthians 5:21 adds, “For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ.”

Isn’t it amazing that our God would make that kind of trade? It seems beyond comprehension to imagine that a holy, righteous God would take our sin upon Himself so that He could cover us with His righteousness. But if He didn’t do so, we would have no hope. God could have chosen to remain unknown to us, but He didn’t. Instead, He offers us the righteousness of Christ.

Discussion Questions:

  1. When you hear the word righteousness, what do you think of? 
  2. From your perspective, how does a person become righteous or unrighteous?
  3. Do you struggle with trying to measure your righteousness against that of others? What about that of Jesus? 

The Difference Between Involvement And Commitment

  “Carefully determine what pleases the Lord.” –  Ephesians 5:10.

There is some confusion between involvement and commitment. To be involved typically means staying as long as you are happy.  Commitment is entirely different. Commitment is not a promise, it is the point when the promise is kept. Commitment requires planning, perseverance, and sacrifice.  

What would have happened if Noah had not been fully committed; if he had completed only ninety percent of what God asked him to do?  Imagine if he had left part of the hull unfinished, choosing instead to use the time for other things.  

God wasn’t asking for an imperfect being to create a perfect product out of imperfect material, but He was asking Noah to stay committed and complete His request.  Noah could not afford to be indifferent to God’s will, and neither can we.  Noah had to complete the Ark because it was God’s will.  His salvation, his family’s chance of surviving catastrophe, and the fulfillment of God’s will were all dependent upon his complete and total willingness to trust God.  The same is true for us.  We need to trust God completely.  “Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.” (Proverbs 3:5-6)

Real commitment is certainly difficult, yet we are asked to do it every day.  We’re asked to commit to spouses, children, jobs, church, communities, and countless other things.  Many of these types of commitments require balance. Work-life balance means we have to balance the time and effort from one commitment to another.  While this is important, it doesn’t work with our commitment to follow Jesus.  God does not expect us to manage everything perfectly, but He does expect our first commitment to be to Him.  

Much of our spiritual life is a process of letting go of old habits and embracing our new life as a follower of Jesus.  We won’t always get it right and we will make mistakes, but we will keep moving forward if we remain steadfast in our commitment to God.  “So, my dear brothers and sisters, be strong and immovable. Always work enthusiastically for the Lord, for you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless.” (1 Corinthians 15:58)

A life serving Jesus requires total commitment.  Galatians  6:9 says, “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” God doesn’t leave us alone.  He gave us His Holy Spirit to walk and climb right next to us, giving us strength. God will remind us of how He guided us through difficult paths in the past so we can persevere now.

Discussion Questions: 

  1. On a scale of 1 to 10, where is your commitment to Jesus? Why did you pick the number you did?
  2. Who or what has the most influence on your day-to-day decisions? Where does Jesus fall in the order of influential voices in your life?
  3. What step do you need to take this week to make your relationship with Jesus your No. 1 priority?

Christmas is a Time For Salvation

As much as I like to plan ahead, I still need someone to save me at Christmas. It always seems, while I have a plan, I either wait too long to order Christmas gifts on line and have them delivered in time for Christmas, or I simply forgot one person on my Christmas list. I really don’t like going to malls, especially in the last few days before Christmas because I probably won’t find what I am looking for and may have to wrestle somebody for one item that multiple people are trying to get. Yes, usually I need someone to save me from over scheduling and trying to be in too many places at the same time, from overspending and a myriad of other things during the Christmas season.

Fortunately for all of us, Christmas is really all about salvation.

God knew that the world’s people would one day need rescuing. Sin would enter the human race and cause a break in our relationship with the heavenly Father. As a result, all people would die and experience eternity apart from Him.

The Bible says that “before before the creation of the world” (1 Peter 1:18-20), a plan for our redemption was already in place. This plan has been revealed through the ages and testified to in Scripture, from Genesis to Revelation: ”But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship.” (Galatians 4:4-5)

Luke 2:11 (NASB) says, “for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” Notice that this savior is “for you” for all of us. When people think of salvation, they often have a very narrow concept of it: they think that salvation is being saved from hell. But God had so much more in mind than just fire insurance when He sent Jesus to be our Savior.

And Christmas is so much more than the celebration of the birth of Baby Jesus. Christmas is experiencing a Savior through grace. Jesus came to save you from sin and all of the hurt and guilt. Jesus came to save you for the purpose of significant living. Jesus came to save you by His Grace. Christmas was, is and will always be until Christ comes again, a season of salvation to everyone who is willing by faith to ask Jesus to become their Lord and Savior.

If you’ve never heard this story before, it’s what Christmas is all about. But if it is familiar, you might be like many other people who no longer realize just how powerful this holiday really is. Whatever the case, as we walk together through each detail of Jesus’ birth story, observing the Father’s wisdom, I pray you’ll come to realize just how great and mighty our God is.

Discussion Questions:
1. To you personally, is Christmas about the birth of a baby or the birth of a Savior?
2. Is Christmas about garland or grace?
3. What do you need to be saved from this Christmas? (Worry, Fear, Debt, Addictions, Loneliness…)

Christmas is a Time For Celebration

Reflecting on Christmas reminded me of The Pursuit of Joy/Philippians teaching series. Why? Because Christmas has become a time to focus on joy and happiness. Philippians tells us how to unlock joy and find contentment in our lives.

Remember Philippians 4:4: “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!”

The word rejoice appears over 200 times in the New Testament. What is rejoicing? It can be different things to different people but I believe there are some principles that we can apply in general. Rejoicing is acting like you have something to be happy about. If your sports team wins the championship, you might shout, dance or even sing. If someone gives you the ultimate gift on your wish list, you would be sky high and tell everyone how excited you are. Jesus gave us the gift. He paid for it with His life. At Christmas, we celebrate the event that set that gift into motion.

My prayer is that you view the Christmas season as a time to rejoice, to celebrate what God did for us on that first Christmas night. Begin to rejoice for that gift even in the midst of the stress and pressure of the holidays. Rejoice for that gift even if you are not able to do all you would like or if you are separated from those you love. Rejoice in the Lord for He will never leave nor forsake you. Let this rejoicing seep into your daily life. Rejoice in the Lord right in front of the world. It ‘s the one time of year they won’t think you are strange. Well at least they’ll think your are less strange.

As you do, you will tap into the Joy of the Lord. That joy will change your outlook on the season and it will spill over to those around you. Rejoice and let your rejoicing spread joy to those around you. You may be surprised at the results for you, your family and even the world you live in.

The more meaningful a season is, the more reason to do things that help us experience the fullness of that season. So, unsurprisingly, this season has grown into one of the busiest times of the year – with so many options for doing and giving than any one person could not possibly expect to do them all. So, between all the things we do in and through the church, and all the opportunities available through work, the community and with family, celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Discussion Questions:
1. What is the best part of Christmas? What is the worst part?
2. What impact do you think that all the “merchandizing, stress, commercialization, etc. has had on Christmas?
3. What’s the one thing you would like to change about Christmas?
4. How do you rejoice in the Lord on a daily basis?