Category Archives: Attributes of God

DESIGN & ORDER amidst human disorder

 

Newscasts trumpet misery, scandal and chaos. BUT! As I wander down summDSCN5023 (3)er DSCN4962 (2)pathways and drive along our country roads I’m impressed by a recurring theme. Whether it’s the tiniest beetles I find on leaves or the rising of the moon, there is evidence of design–and of the Designer.

DSCN2805 (2)It’s the same when I gaze on the apparently bewildering display of creativity among flowers. Or the astounding intricacy of a snowflake. Or the various plumages of birds or even the blades of grass DSCN5204 (2)in a farmer’s field. Variety but not randomness fills our world with a richness and interest our busy lives usually lead us to ignore.

From sunsets to cloud formations, from eyesight to dandelion fluff all around us throbs the evidence of an omnipotent Creator. “Day after day they pour forth speech.”  Too often our ears throb with a cacophony of artificially generated sounds.

Lord, help us to pause, to look around, and to lift our hearts in worship and praise–and even appeal. DSCN3181 (2)Truly, “this is my Father’s world.” This Father can bring order and redemption to our disordered and broken lives.

January Sunset

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Our Home; Castle, Idol, or God’s Provision

dscn3692Being homeless must be one of the most difficult experiences humans can endure. Imagine wandering from place to place with no expectation of adequate shelter let alone a place to call home. Divorce, illness, or unemployment has caused many to lose everything, casting them onto the street. Many have seen their hopes rise only to be shattered again and again. They are left in despair, self-respect gone.

The despair of the homeless is compounded among refugees forced from familiar homes by war. They gather with others in camps and erect plastic shelters against rain and dust and cold. One month. Two. A year. Two. Five. Again and again they’ve attempted to flee to a congenial country only to be rebuffed. Despair must corrode all their expectations.

By and large most people, be it ever so humble, have a home. Whether constructed of concrete, stone, brick, wood, or mud; most have a place to which they can go to find shelter and warmth. A place where they feel safe and at peace, a place they can decorate dscn3925with their keepsakes.

In many places in the world, including Canada, we take having an attractive house for granted. It is our basic right. Our houses become a mark of our “success” as measured by their size and luxuriousness.

It is almost impossible for us to feel with those who are homeless. Indeed, the description of Christ sounds unbelievable. “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head” (Luke 9:58) Then Jesus said, “Follow me.” Clearly, being a disciple who follows Jesus wherever He leads has priority over having a comfortable place to call home.

Baby Robins, 2012In truth, we idolize our homes or take them for granted. It’s extremely hard not to. During the last four or five months, God rocked our world. He gave us a little—very little—insight into being a homeless disciple. The apartment where we planned to spend our twilight years was sold. We were given notice to leave with no certain place to go.

Frantically, we beat the bushes for another apartment to rent or a reasonable condo to buy. We quickly found that those migrating from Toronto’s super-inflated real estate market had bid up house-prices and filled available apartments. Our offer for an adequate condo was instantly submerged by much higher bids. For a month or two extreme anxiety stalked our lives. Would we be forced to go far afield, join a new church, find a new doctor? Would we be able to find anything?

Fortunately, memories of how God has protected and provided for us over 56 years of marriage kept smothering our worries. Our daughter and others in our loving family kept reminding us of God’s care.

God also used Scripture during that challenging time. “Lord you have been our dwelling place throughout all generations. Before the mountains were born or you brought forth the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God” (PsalOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAm 90:1,2). He, not bricks and mortar, is our eternal dwelling place. Cannot He who created the world and continues to govern it provide for us?

“He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I
will say of the Lord, ‘He is my refuge and my fortress, my God in whom I trust.’” (Psalm 91:1,2). Oh, Lord, are we resting in you as our shelter and fortress, or in a condo or house? Deepen our trust.

Finally, under God’s marvelous providence we found a condo amenable to our limitations and within our price range in a nearby town. But even at the last minute, complications arose that almost sMovingcutled that provision. It was as if God was saying, “Do you really trust me?” His provision has been so amazing and so timely, we still shake our heads in awe.

Yes, we are very fortunate in our housing but we try to remind ourselves daily not to idolize our home but to rest in the Almighty who is our real, and eternal shelter.

(Further articles, books, and stories at: http://www.countrywindow.ca –Follow him on Facebook: Eric E Wright; on Twitter: @EricEWright1; on LinkedIn: Eric Wright )

 

Does Anyone Love the Lonely? – Attributes of God, #6

DSCN2176 - CopyCrowds attend celebrations such as Canada Day and the Fourth of July. But millions are lonely, feel unloved, estranged, nervous, alienated and fearful. These words describe too many in our day. What a strange anomaly at a time when we are more connected than ever through Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, texts, and by 24-hour news updates.

In an article by André Picard entitled; “In spite of everything, pundits tell us that we have never felt more alone.” Picard writes that, “an estimated six million Canadians live in isolation. Social researchers are now calling it a hidden epidemic.”

Don’t be a lonely statistic! There is someone who is closer than our own skin; someone who loves us with an everlasting love despite our sins and foibles. God has described his care and concern for you and me in dozens of metaphors. Consider a few.

Our Shepherd: “He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young” (Is 40:11). Celebrate the gentleness with which our divine shepherd protects us, provides for us, and carries us close to his heart. This wonderful image is repeated often from Psalm 23 through Isaiah to John 10.

Our Father: Far from being inscrutable and indifferent the true God reveals himself as a loving, concerned, involved Father both in the Old Testament and especially in the New. “You are my Father, my God, the Rock my Savior” (Psalm 89:26). “Though my father and mother forsake me, the Lord will receive me” (Psalm 27:10) And so we pray, “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name” (Matt. 6:9). He loves us, not as a group, but individually, personally, practically. He listens to our prayers.

Our Provider: Feeling empty and unsatisfied; longing for something more? “Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come buy and eat! Come buy wine and milk without money and without cost….listen to me, and eat what is good, and your soul will delight in the richest of fare. Give ear and come to me; hear me” (Isaiah 55:1-3) If we digest the biblical message of the invisible God, our besmirched souls will be cleansed and our hungry hearts will be satisfied as with the choicest foods.

Our Shelter: In a setting where the sun blazes down on people without mercy, burning their skin and blinding their eyes, people seek shade and protection. The Psalmist writes, DSCN1325“He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the almighty” (Psalm 91:1). Better than venturing out in the blazing desert of life without God we would be wise to daily abide in God’s presence.

Our Canopy: We know about huge circus tents and wedding tents. We can picture the tents used by desert nomads. In this metaphor, the sky is a tent! “He stretches out the heavens like a canopy, and spreads them out like a tent to live in.” (Is 40:22) Yes, God sees earth’s goings-on; God sees your heart-ache and mine and He is strong enough to do something about it.

Our Friend: Jesus said, “I no longer call you servants…I have called you friends.” “You are my friends if you do what I command you.” To prove his loving friendship, Jesus laid down his life to atone for our sins. “ ”Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends” (John 15: 15,14,13). Imagine having the Son of God as your friend!

Our spiritual Husband: “For your maker is your husband—the Lord Almighty is His name—the Holy One of IMom's wedding picsrael is your Redeemer…God of all the earth” (Isaiah 54:5). Spoken originally of Israel, this metaphor astonishes us with the closeness and intimacy, the love, care and provision that God, like a
good husband, provides to his wife. The book of Hosea tells us that God seeks us even when we fall into deep depravity.

Loved with everlasting love, led by grace that love to know
Spirit breathing from above, thou has taught me it is so!

Have you found a friend in Jesus? Do you know God as your Father, your shepherd, your spiritual husband, and your provider? Are you assured of his love? Let your loneliness dissipate as you draw close to him.

(Further articles, books, and stories at: http://www.countrywindow.ca –Follow him on Facebook: Eric E Wright; on Twitter: @EricEWright1 and on LinkedIn: Eric Wright )

Word Pictures of God as Our Helper – God’s Attributes #5

Beneath the beauty and bounty of our world, millions face trauma. Orphans long for love. scan0010Single mothers struggle to hold everything together. Unemployed cry out for a job. The poor cannot find housing. The exploited and abused live in fear. Refugees flee horrific atrocities. Our governments try to help but fall short. At times, even our families cannot help. Where can we turn?

The Nazarene offers an invitation. “Come unto me all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest” (Matt. 11:28). Throughout the Scriptures God has illustrated his desire to help us in a series of vivid metaphors. The coming of Christ in human form is the most concrete Pattan Minara towerproof of his love and care. Here are a few other examples.

“The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous run to it and are safe” (Prov. 18:10) Pursued by evil men or calamity, those who have been declared righteous by faith in Christ, seek God in prayer for safety and help. The towers men build crumble like this illustration, but God is changeless, eternally able to help.

Is your life being shaken? “Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed, says the Lord who has compassion on you” (Isaiah 54:10) The eruption of Mount Vesuvius buried Pompei; earthquakes shake the Himalayas and the Rockies. Although the most stable things we know change, God’s love for His people never changes. (Just review John 3:16!)

Don’t know where to go for protection? The Psalmist cried, “I have no refuge” (Ps 142:4). At least 23 times Scripture responds, “The eternal God is your refuge” (Deut.33:27). God loves to care for and protect suffering people. Canada and others countries offer refugees fleeing Syria and Iraq the safety and security they need. We who follow Christ are involved OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAin that effort, but we long, as well, to point them to eternal refuge from the consequences of evil through faith in the suffering Saviour.

Feeling alone, unloved? “Hide me in the shadow of your wings” (Ps. 17:8). David imagines himself as a young bird hiding under the wings of an eagle or some kind of great raptor. Jesus comparing himself to a protective hen, laments the rejection he received from the inhabitants of Jerusalem. But the offer stands. “How often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing” (Luke 13:34)!

Greece, ParthenonFeel threatened; unsafe? Up until modern times, threatened people fled for safety to castles and fortresses. Hence, the Psalmist describes his sense of God’s protection from evil and danger in these words. “I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress” (Psalm 91:1,2).

In danger? Fleeing for his life from his murderous son, Absalom, David affirms, “you are a shield around me, O Lord” (Psalm 3:3). ”You alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety” (Psalm 4:8). Not just a shield on one side, but above and behind and beside, God can protect His children from all evil. And so we pray, “Deliver us from evil.”DSCN2541

All those who have been born again by God’s Spirit through faith in Jesus Christ have become children of God. As such, the Triune God is very serious about protecting us. All the followers of Christ learn early that the first place they turn for help is God; our strong
tower, an unshakeable mountain, our refuge, a sheltering bird, our fortress, and much more. Lord Jesus help us to remember that your ear is ever open to our prayers. And help us to make your churches on earth to be a reflection of your concern and care.

(Further articles, books, and stories at: http://www.countrywindow.ca –Follow him on Facebook: Eric E Wright; on Twitter: @EricEWright1 and on LinkedIn: Eric Wright )

Beauty for Ashes

DSCN2359A few weeks ago, I noticed some very tiny flowers in an uncultivated flower bed—weeds, but very pretty. Later in another part of town, I spied a cheerful carpet of mauve flowers on a lawn. Alas, they too were weeds. These tiny flowering weeds got me thinking.

In many ways, the world in which we live is very dark. People are losing hope. An advertisement for a new book professing to solve all human probDSCN2535 (2)lems is a symptom of this malaise. No, it doesn’t ask us to “love God and love our neighbours as ourselves.” Evidently, forgetting the dismal record of the last 200 years, the solution proposed is scientific and biological. Vain hope. But at least its analysis of our condition is relatively accurate. We live in “a world facing complete breakdown from terrorism, refugee crises, corrupted economies, polarized politics, family disintegration, rampant mental illness and ecological devastation.”

DSCN1650No wonder doom and gloom occupy most writers these days. Yes, but what about God? “He makes all things beautiful in his time” (Eccl.3:11). As the One who is altogether lovely, whatever he touches becomes beautiful. David’s longing was “to gaze on the beauty of the Lord…all the days of my life” (Psalm 27:4). The antidote to ugliness and evil, is God.

Have we failed to notice indications of God’s glory scattered prodigiously throughout the earth? What do I mean? I mean those silent witnesses to the beauty of God and His salvation. Every beautiful thing in creation points to its Creator and whispers, hope. As Isaiah prophecies of Jesus; “The Lord has anointed me to preach good news to the poor…to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes…a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair…a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor” (Isaiah 61:1,3).

DSCN2541The beauty of a baby’s smile. The fragrance of lilac. The beauty enshrined in a grain of sand or a snowflake. The rainbow reflected from a drop of dew. The infinite shape of clouds. The loveliness and variety of myriads of flowers. The shape of trees. The magnificence of mountains. The splendour of the sea. The magic of sunrise and twilight. What about butterflies and birds; diamonds and dandelions. Lord, the earth is full of your glory!

Have we failed to notice God’s beautifying touch? The refugees who shout hallelujah after being saved by Jesus Christ. The drug addict in Brooklyn totallyRainbow delivered from addiction. The abuser becoming gentle and loving. What about myriads of men and women from every tribe and nation who have seen their fear and despair replaced by joy and peace and hope?

DSCN2373 (2)Oh, yes, the cataclysm produced by the fall of mankind into sin, produced thorns and thistles, hatred and war; and probably mosquitoes, volcanoes, tornadoes and earthquakes. And yet, God has not left us without witness. If we would but look, we would find glimpses of beauty from the hands of the Creator at every turn. And that beauty bears witness to hope in seemingly hopeless situations; hope through bowing in faith to Jesus Christ, the Lord. Then we will revel in beauty and worship God in the “beauty of holiness”.

(Further articles, books, and stories at: http://www.countrywindow.ca Facebook: Eric E Wright Twitter: @EricEWright1 LinkedIn: Eric Wright )

What is life’s supreme goal? #4

What is the highest goal of mankind? Banishing hunger? Universal peace? Loving our neighbours? These are laudable goals which, however, can never be achieved without first reaching another goal. Philosophers talk about the summum bonum, “the highest good, especially as the ultimate goal according to which values and priorities are established in an ethical system.” Surely, that highest goal of mankind is coming to know him, that is, God, “from him and through him and to him are all things” (Romans 11:36).

But how can we know God; he is infinite, invisible, and incomprehensible? This is only possible if God takes the initiative and reveals himself. Fortunately, he has DSCN1326 (1)done so by revealing his character through comparison with things we see and know. One facet of this self-revelation is his use of members of the human body for purposes of comparison. Theologians call these metaphors, anthropomorphisms.

Ears: Since it is beyond our understanding how God could hear our thoughts even before we think them, (Psalm 139) listen to our prayers, hear our groans and whispered complaints; the Psalmist imagines God having an ear. ”His ears are attentive to their cry…the righteous cry out and the Lord hears them; and DSCN1727 delivers them from all their troubles. The Lord is close to the broken-hearted” (Psalm 34:15-18) “Hear O Lord, my righteous plea; listen to my cry. Give ear to my prayer” (Psalm 17:1).

Arm: “The arm of the Lord is not too short to save….but your iniquities have separated you from your God [consider the spiritual state of our countries] “ (Isaiah 59:1,2). It is our sins, not God’s lack of ability to help us that hinder our national development and our individual salvation and growth in grace.

Hand: Imagine cupping your hand to hold a drink of water. Imagine holding the Great Lakes in the hollow of your hand. But more, imagine holding all the oceans and lakes! God “has measured the waters in the hollow of his haDSCN1641nd, or with the breadth of his hand marked off the heavens” (Isaiah 40:12). Is God big enough to help us with our problems? Yes. “I foresaw the Lord always before me. He is at my right hand that I not be moved” (Ps. 16:8 ) “Some trust in chariots [and tanks and warplanes]…but we trust in the name of the Lord our God…the saving power of his right hand” (Psalm 20:7, 6). “Your right hand will seize your foes” (Psalm 21:8). Fearful? Trust in God’s almighty right hand.

Mouth: “As the rain and the snow come down from heaven…watering the earth and making it bud and flourish…so is my word that goes out from my mouth: it will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire…you will go out with joy and be led forth in peace” (Isaiah 55:10-12). Not silent and indifferent, God is a Spirit who communicates through His revealed Word so that joy and peace may flower in our lives in the same way that snow and rain, water the earth, “making it bud and flourish”.

Eye: Since God’s ability to see everything in one moment throughout the whole universe is beyond our comprehension, the Psalmist makes it personal by imagining God‘s eyes are upon us. “The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous” to see their troubles and deliver them. “A riDSCN1741 (2)ghteous man may have many troubles, but the Lord delivers him from them all” (Psalm 34:15, 19). [Remember, we will have troubles but we must trust God WHEN and HOW to deliver.] We are so precious to God, that David imagines God keeping us “as the apple of your eye,” that is, as close as the eye’s pupil. (Psalm 17:8).

Laughs: “The One enthroned in heaven laughs” (Psalm 2:4). Using human imagery, the Psalmist describes the utter foolishness—bordering on hilarity—of nations and rulers who conspire to destroy faith in “His Anointed One,” Jesus Christ, and the extension of His Kingdom, through their plots and conspiracies. (See Psalm 2:1-6) God has laughed at the conspiracies of Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot, Mao Tse Tung, and laughs today at ISIS, but with anger. Judgement will come.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAs we use our mouths to speak and laugh, as we see with our eyes and hear with our ears, as we hold things with our hands let us lift up our praise to our great Triune God. “To the King eternal, immortal, INVISIBLE, the only God, be honor and glory for ever and ever” (1 Tim. 1:17).

(Further articles, books, and stories at: http://www.countrywindow.ca Facebook: Eric E Wright Twitter: @EricEWright1 LinkedIn: Eric Wright )

Worried? -Think God! #3

Climbing the highest mountain? No. Knowing God is the greatest human pursuit. But how is that possible when He is invisible and incomprehensible in His divinity?

Like discovering the qualities of an artist in his painting, or a sculptor in his sculpture, we discover much about the invisible God in his visible, created works. “Since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and January Sunsetdivine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men [you and I] are without excuse [if we ignore and fail to glorify God for his creation] (Romans 1:20).

Besides displaying his power and divinity in creation, God has given us, in the Bible, a host of understandable comparisons to use in learning about Him. These similes and metaphors unveil his invisible attributes in ways we can comprehend. Wonderfully, a host of them are aimed at dispelling our worries.

For example: “The Lord God is a sun…no good thing does he withhold from those whose walk is blameless” (Psalm 84:11). Plants lift their leaves to drink in the sun’s energy transforming it through photosynthesis into food. Solar panels all over world draw energy from sunshine. We have coal and oil and natural gas because of the sun. Like our sun, God is the source of all the blessings—usually unnoticed—that pour into our lives. God’s goodness is unsearchable.

God is our shelter. “Lord, you have been our dwelling place throughout all generations” (Psalm 90:1). “He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High…He is my refuge…If you make the Most High your dwelling…no disaster will come near Rockiesyour tent” (Psalm 91;1,2,9,10). We depend on buildings to shelter us from cold and ice blazing heat and torrential rain. God needs no shelter but invites us to find shelter and refuge from fear, discouragement, despair, and hopelessness in Him. In His arms we can find comfort and protection from evil.

God’s protection is impregnable. “My God is my rock” (Psalm 84:2) Threatened by enemies, David found in God the stability, protection and strength he needed to stave off despair and find courage. While the stock market falls, ISIS threatens, and our own health deteriorates we look around from something strong and stable, and find God to be our everlasting Rock.

God is our protector. Fleeing for his life from his murderous son, Absalom, David affirms, “you are a shield around me, O Lord” (Psalm 3:3) ”You alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety” (Psalm 4:8). Not just a shield on one side, but above and behind and beside, God can protect His children from all evil. And so we pray, “Deliver us from evil.”

God is our refuge. David cried, “I have no refuge” (Ps 142:4) but at least 23 times
Scripture responds, “The eternal God is your refuge” (Deut.33:27). God loves to care for and protect suffering people. Canada and others countries offer refugees fleeing Syria and Iraq the safety and security they need. We who follow Christ are involved in that effort. And we long to point them to eternal refuge from the consequences of evil through faith in the suffering Saviour.

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God is our unshakeable help. “Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed, says the Lord who has compassion on you” (Isaiah 54:10) The eruption of Mount Vesuvius buried Pompei; earthquakes shake the Himalayas and the Rockies. Although, the most stable things we know change, God’s love for His people never changes. “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).

Thank You, Father, Son and Holy Spirit for revealing your love in understandable ways!

(Further articles, books, and stories at: http://www.countrywindow.ca Facebook: Eric E Wright Twitter: @EricEWright1 LinkedIn: Eric Wright )