Prayer & Fasting, Day 7: God is Everywhere.

Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence? If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there! If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me. If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me, and the light about me be night,” even the darkness is not dark to you, the night is bright as the day, for darkness is as light with you. 
(Psalm 139:7-12). Can a man hide himself in secret places so that I cannot see him? declares the Lord. Do I not fill heaven and earth? declares the Lord. (Jeremiah 23:24).

“Where is God!?” I remember him crying. He was a young man I’d been working with for a while. His childhood, however, was really troubled. Dad left, mom wasn’t great, and pain was his familiar companion far too early in life. Through his tears, he asked me the question that so many do when faced with suffering. Where is God?

“He’s right here,” I said.

To you, that answer may sound trite. But I wasn’t trying to be pithy, I was trying to speak truth. God is everywhere. There is never a moment, a location, or a space in life where God is not already present waiting for us. No one can hide from him, and no one can evade him. Jonah tried, if you remember. In the story, God called Jonah to preach a message of repentance and grace to Jonah’s sworn enemies. Filled with hatred, Jonah attempted to flee God, but failed. I remember once reading that very story to my daughter when she was younger. Her response was, “Daddy, that’s silly. You can’t run from God. He’s everywhere!” Even the 4-year-old knows that.

But why does this matter? Further, why is it good news that God is this way? Well, let’s return to our suffering young man. The news of God’s everywhere-ness (or, omnipresence), is good news precisely because even in our moments of deepest pain and brokenness, God is there. While God is holy and totally unsullied by sin, he is certainly present and aware of it. And, the God who sees our situation is certainly able to identify with it. This is, after all, part of the good news of the Gospel. Jesus came to be with us—present with us. In one sense, he already was, because God is everywhere. But in another important sense, he came to be with us physically be with us. Why? To identify with us personally, and to show us how much we matter to him.

When you’re going through pain, you can see who really cares about you. There are those who send their sympathies from afar, and then there are those who come to be with you physically and feel your pain. Jesus is in the latter category. Because God is everywhere, we never walk out of his vision. But because God is inexpressibly loving, he decided to walk into ours.

God’s omnipresence means that we can trust him, because as a just and good God, he sees all things, understanding what’s going on. For the victim of injustice who may never know real justice in this life—God is there. He knows. For the suffering, small, and hurt people who may never find a voice on this side of the veil—God is there. “He is not far from each one of us, for in him we live, and move, and have our being,” (Acts 17:27-28).

God I thank you that you've never been far from me. From highest joys to deepest pains, you'll never be from me. Thank you that you are everywhere present, filling each moment.

Today, cause me to walk with a greater awareness of your presence. You are "not far from each one of us." Thank you that "in you [I] live, and move, and have my being." Today, God, help me to keep that reality at the forefront of my thinking. Keep me from fooling myself that I'm independent and alone. In you, I am never alone. 

I love you God. And today I celebrate that I am never far from you!

For Jesus' glory, Amen.

Prayer & Fasting, Day 6: God is Limitless

The eternal God is your dwelling place, and underneath are the everlasting arms. (Deuteronomy 33:27). Have you not known? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength. Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint. (Isaiah 40:28-31).

“I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.” (Revelation 1:8).

Nothing about infinity makes sense to us. We simply can’t relate to it. All our experience is marked by beginnings and endings. We’re born, we die. Sunrise, sunset. Arrive, depart. So when it comes to meditating on God’s boundless, limitless, timeless nature, we’re dumbstruck. How are we to make sense of infinity, much less celebrate it in God?

All throughout the Scriptures, the limitlessness of God is seen as a catalytic source of hope and comfort. In Deuteronomy, the people of Israel were given the laws of God, being reminded (even after their disobedience) that covenant with God was still possible. Here he reminds them, “I am your eternal dwelling place, and my everlasting arms hold you.” See, God’s infinity is actually wonderful news for us, because unless God is limitless in wonder and strength, then relationship with him isn’t all that great.

What do I mean? The law of diminishing returns. This is that law of human experience that says that the second time you do something, it won’t be as amazing as the first. They say that addicts are always chasing after their first high. Concert goers are constantly seeking that next great musical experience. We know, if only from our life experience, that nothing lasts forever. “All good things must come to an end,” we’re told. We believe it, and move on. If God were limited, then he would be no different. He would end, and we would have no hope.

But God is different. Because God is eternal, infinite, and limitless, we know that we will never run out of God at which to be amazed. We’ll never exhaust his power, wonder, or perfection. That’s why relationship with God is so wonderful. God is the only being who can ceaselessly and eternally satisfy the longings of our heart. Each moment with God leads to greater wonder, on into forever.

His limitless power is source of great encouragement. But sometimes, we need reminding. In Isaiah, we read such an encouragement. Ours is the everlasting God. He does not get tired. He does not need a rest. He does not stop pursuing us. And what’s more, he does not run out of power and passion to pour into our hearts. He is the beginning, and he is the end.

Our limitless God has a name—Jesus. Jesus states repeatedly in the Revelation that he is the alpha and omega. He’s the bookends to existence, and that’s great news of us, if we know him. If Jesus is our treasure and joy, and if we’re his by grace, then we wonderful future. We will see him forever, and every consecutive moment with him will be greater than the moment before—forever!

Jesus, thank you for your limitless worth. You will be praised forever. Today, uphold me. You are the everlasting God. You don't grow faint or weary. You don't run out of strength or wisdom. Please sustain me with your mighty right hand, and your infinite might.

Today, as I consider all I must face, all I'm praying for, and all that we're asking you do as a church, help me to also consider your strength and power. You will never run out of grace or help, and for that I will praise you forever.


Prayer & Fasting, Day 4: God is Lord.

God said to Moses, “I am who I am.” And he said, “Say this to the people of Israel, ‘I am has sent me to you.’” God also said to Moses, “Say this to the people of Israel, ‘The LORD, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you.’ This is my name forever, and thus I am to be remembered throughout all generations. (Exodus 3:14-15). I will give them a heart to know that I am the LORD, and they shall be my people and I will be their God, for they shall return to me with their whole heart. (Jeremiah 24:7)

Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I tell you? (Luke 6:46).

[Peter said,] Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified. (Acts 2:36)

“Lord” is not a common word these days. When we stop and think about the word, our minds may drift back to old England, when lords and ladies ruled the land. This image—one of pageantry and position—perhaps gets subtly imported into our concept of God. Maybe we imagine him to be some aloof monarch who’s not paying close attention to his lands. Perhaps we might misunderstand God as Lord to mean that he’s overly concerned with his own position and authority. So, what does it mean to say that God is Lord?

Let’s consider the passages of Scripture we just read. When Moses was commanded to go and be God’s instrument of rescue, he was told that God’s name as “Lord” (Yahweh) would be his name “throughout all generations.” So, God’s pretty concerned that we get his name correct—and the primary name he chooses is, Lord. But largely, we’ve forgotten this. Israel forgot too, which is why Jeremiah prophesied as he did, that God would give his people a new heart to know that he, and not anyone or anything else, is the Lord. He prophesied that those who are truly God’s people would return to the Lord with all their heart. So, we must first observe that God’s Lordship means that he is the object of our supreme allegiance and devotion.

Now perhaps you read that and it all sounds a bit stale. “Supreme allegiance?” Sounds like God’s a control freak, right? Not at all. God’s in control whether we recognize the fact or not. I can deny that gravity exists, but I’ll do so with my feet on the ground. Similarly, we may deny implicitly or explicitly that God is truly the object of our allegiance and devotion, but it doesn’t change the fact that he should be.

And, therein lies the problem. In our sinful brokenness, we don’t want God to be Lord. We want to be Lord. We live in a world full of little lords. We wish to rule ourselves, lead ourselves, even live for ourselves. Is this you? Ask yourself this question—what about your life right now do you want God to mess with the least? Is it your career? Kids? The way you spend money? Is it what you do with your body or your view with your eyes? We are the very people to whom Jesus would pose the question which has asked in the Scripture above, “Why do you call me Lord and not do what I say?”

We’re all so quick to run to savior Jesus, aren’t we? We love the idea of total acceptance at no cost. But, there is a cost. Of course Jesus’ rescue and redemption was totally free to us and infinitely costly to him. However, when we come to him, we lose the right to be our own lords any longer. We no longer belong to ourselves. We belong to him. Coming to Jesus is the fulfillment of Jeremiah’s words as we “return to him with our whole heart.” Not part of the heart, the whole.

Jesus has come to rescue and redeem us, and that is glorious truth. But salvation is completely entangled with the Lordship of Jesus. When we come to him, it’s because we’ve left ourselves. Coming to the foot of the cross involves arriving at the end of yourself. That means that from then on, Jesus rules, he reigns, and we follow him.

Sin was a rebellion against the lordship of God. This rebellion was finally overcome, however, in the great news of the Gospel of grace. Because Jesus Christ has come to put to death in his own body the insurgency against God, we can find new life as redeemed citizen of his Father’s kingdom, living happily and passionately under his Lordship. Now, Jesus sits at the right hand of God almighty, and as his redeemed people, we follow him. What exceptional grace this is, that our treasonous rebellion has been quelled not by our punishment, but by God’s gracious gift to us in Christ.

 Jesus, thank you so much for quelling my rebellious heart. Your perfect life was one I could never live. Your death on the cross was a death I deserved. And your resurrection is amazing news to me—that you, my King, have overcome the grave I deserve so I can know you, and follow you. God, thank you for freeing me from sin and freeing me unto obedience. 

Today, take total control of my life. Rule everything—money, sex, career, family, politics—everything about me. I give myself totally and fully to you because, Jesus, you gave yourself totally and fully to me. I love you, my Lord and King. Help me follow you today.

Thank you God, amen.