The God who made our universe is unchangingly reliable, “the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness.” That’s good news in a harsh and unreliable world. We have a divine counterclaim and divine counterexample to the world around us. In a world that is regularly ruthless and self-absorbed, God is always “compassionate and gracious.” In a culture increasingly ready to do and say anything, God continues to act consistently and overflows with “love and faithfulness.”
Today’s text suggests that God is not a distant deity with vague warm feelings toward his creatures. Instead, the Lord’s compassion and grace overflow in action with an abundance of steadfast love and faithfulness. God’s heart, God’s word and God’s actions are all congruent with one another. So it should be for all of us who claim to follow and lead in God’s Way.
Seeing life as a gift and seeing our redemption as a gift shapes the kind of leaders we become. Biblical hope is irresistibly resilient not because we are great leaders who are relentlessly determined to overcome all obstacles, but because the LORD is “the compassionate and gracious God.”
Is there a personal God and what might such a God be like? One of the problems with the way the Bible describes God is that God cannot be manipulated. In other words, no scientific experimentation is possible. If we are to know anything about God, it would require God’s self-revelation. That’s why the Bible is the essential book of human culture, since it claims to be the unique record of God’s self-revelation in human history. So, what is this God of the Bible like?
One of the challenging parts of the Christian journey is to undo our misconceptions of God. However we accumulate such conceptions, it’s important that we replace them with a biblically rooted vision of what God is like.
Numbering comes naturally to human beings. It’s hard to imagine human society functioning without our ability to keep count… We’ve invented previously unimaginable technologies to expedite the process. It’s led to the ability to quickly calculate all sorts of measures for all manner of things. On the downside, this has enabled us to generate volumes of data which may be of little value. Today’s text reminds us that this need not be so. Counting and wisdom can go together. But how do we learn to count well as human beings?
What kind of preparation would be required when God shows up to announce the good news that he is the rightful Lord of this world and that he is about to make everything right? Surely that would be the most momentous event in human history. Who would be God’s “advance team” to get people ready? What would they do to prepare people for God’s coming? How would they go about their work?
Darkness is our beginning / Not our ending. // We begin in darkness / The womb of Creation / Covering the face of the deep. / So also, darkness is the beginning / Of Redemption. // A Star appears in the darkness— / A signpost to the wise / Of all times and from all places / To leave their darkness / And journey to find him / Who is Light.
It’s worth remembering that our position, privilege, and responsibility are meant to bless others, not just ourselves. Giving thanks for our blessings is intended to provoke us to respond to those blessings in a way that benefits others. We are called as God’s people to care for those who are disadvantaged—“the foreigners, the fatherless and the widows who live in your towns (that they) may come and eat and be satisfied, and so that the LORD your God may bless you in all the work of your hands” (Deuteronomy 14:29).
Early in my Christian experience, I thought that the Apostle Paul intended me to retreat from the world to spend all my time focusing on my interior life of prayer… Thankfully, the apostolic command to “pray continually” isn’t primarily about developing our devotional prayer life, even though that is important. It has much more to do with learning to pray our everyday life, particularly in the context of our work, where prayer may be the last thing on our minds.