Saturday, March 25, 2023

God’s Nature: Attributes of the Trinity


Gd’ Nature: Attributes of the Trinity

God is a triune Being: God the FatherJesus Christ the Son, and the Holy Spirit or Holy Ghost. The number three signifies Divine perfection and completeness, as in the fullness of the God-head representing all three Members of the Trinity (Ephesians 3:19; 4:13; Colossians 2:9). All three Persons of the Trinity appear together in certain Scripture verses, such as those describing the baptism of Jesus Christ (Luke 3:22).

One way to consider these three aspects of God is that God the Father is the Originator or the “mind” of the plan, including the plan of creation, of salvation, or of anything in between or thereafter. God the Son could be regarded as the Embodiment of the plan, the One Who spoke the worlds into existence (Genesis 1:3); Who wrapped Himself in human flesh to redeem us (John 1:14); and Who will return to reign victoriously forever (Revelation 21:1-3).

The Holy Spirit is the Empowerment of the plan (Micah 3:8; Luke 4:14; Romans 15:19; 2 Timothy 1:7), Who moved upon the waters at the beginning of creation (Genesis 1:2) and Who indwells every believer at the moment of salvation to motivate their walk with Christ (1 Corinthians 6:19). The purpose of the Holy Spirit is to draw attention to Jesus Christ (1 John 4:2-3; 1 John 5:6), Who is the only Way we can know the Father (John 1:18; 5:37; 14:7,9).

As we study the Trinity, it appears that His characteristics can each be described in three facets. God is equated with love (1 John 4:8,16), spirit (John 4:24), and light (1 John 1:5). Even the Names of Christ describing His qualities can be grouped in threes!

God is All in All (Romans 11:36), and His three main attributes reflect His command over all things, persons, and events. He is omniscient, meaning that He knows everything past, present and future (Psalm 139; Romans 11:33-36). He is omnipresent, meaning that He can be anywhere and everywhere, at any time point in the past, present and future (Psalm 139Revelation 1:8). His abode is the three heavens (2 Corinthians 12:2), with the earth as His footstool (Isaiah 66:1).

And He is omnipotent, meaning that God Almighty (Genesis 17:1, 28:3, etc.) created (Colossians 1:16) and has power over all things, persons, and events, no matter when and where they occur (Genesis 18:14; Jeremiah 32:27). God therefore can transcend time, space and physical laws to accomplish His will.

And yet there are three things God cannot do: He cannot change (James 1:17), for He is the same, yesterday, today and forever (Hebrews 13:8)He cannot lie (Titus 1:2), for He is the Truth, the Life and the Way (John 14:6).

And because He is holy (Leviticus 21:8; 1 Peter 1: 15)righteous (Exodus 9:27; 1 Samuel 12:7; 2 Chronicles 12:6; Psalm 11:7; 33:5; 36:6; Isaiah 32:1; 41:10; 1 John 2:1; Revelation 16:5; 19:11, etc.) , and just (Isaiah 61:8; 1 Peter 1: 17)He cannot let a sinner into Heaven (Romans 3:23) unless that sinner is washed clean in the precious blood of the Lamb of God (John 1:29, 1 Peter 1:19, Revelation 5:12), and made righteous by his faith in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ as the only Way to Heaven (1 Corinthians 15).

Despite His infinite power and wisdom, and His wrath at sin, which is fitting for His perfect holiness, God treats His children with three benevolent traits: love, mercy and grace. The Greek word for His love is agape, or self-sacrificing charity (1 Corinthians 13) that led the Father to give His only begotten Son, so that whosoever believes in Him will have everlasting life (John 3:16). His love is constant and everlasting (Jeremiah 31:3) That same agape love led Jesus the Son to willingly lay down His life for His friends (John 15:13).

God’s mercy (Deuteronomy 7:12; 1 Kings 8:23; Psalm 59:17; 66:20) is everlasting (Psalm 52:8; 136:26) and flows from His love and compassion toward us (Psalm 51:1; 86:15), not only for His chosen people Israel but for all who put their faith in His Son (Romans 11:30-32; 1 Peter 1:3). Because of God’s mercy, He withholds the punishment incurred by our sins of everlasting death in hell, so He doesn’t give us what we do deserve (Ephesians 2: 3-5).

And because of God’s grace (2 Thessalonians 2:16), He does give us what we don’t deserve – eternal, abundant life with Him on earth and in Heaven (Ephesians 2:5-9). Praise God that He makes those who have placed their faith in His Son to be His children, joint heirs with Christ (Romans 8: 15-17), and ambassadors of Christ (2 Corinthians 5:20).

© 2012 Laurie Collett
Reposted from the archives

Saturday, March 18, 2023

Going Home


Photo of the Burren by Suzannetmoran 2021

I dreamed that my husband and I owned a home in Ireland, a cozy cottage located in the middle of the Burren, a flat rock formation unique to Ireland, which is blanketed with colorful, delicate flowers in springtime.

We had not been there for a very long time but were now planning to return. As the Burren is only accessible by foot, we had arranged for a car to drive us to the edge of this region, and we would then have a long walk home ahead of us.

As the car dropped us off, it was still dark. But then the sun began to glow on the horizon, the soft pink and coral hues of dawn washing over the fields of flowers, illuminating them like shining jewels, glistening in the morning dew.

Almost instantaneously we were transported to the cottage, its thatched straw roof golden in the morning sun, its white plaster walls gleaming, and its lush garden in full bloom. We were amazed at its perfect state of upkeep, given our long absence and our not having made any arrangements for a caretaker. And yet it was breathtakingly beautiful, warm and inviting in its idyllic setting.

As we crossed the threshold, we discovered that the interior was immaculate, as if lovingly swept and cared for each morning while awaiting our arrival. To our surprise, we found freshly baked bread and wildflower honey in the cupboard and a kettle of tea whistling on the hearth – the perfect refreshment before starting life together in this welcoming home.

I awoke with a sense of peace and joy, yet wistfulness that it had only been a dream. It reminded me of the home that awaits all Christians, those who are saved by trusting in the death, burial; and resurrection of Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 15:1-4) as the only Way to Heaven (John 14:6).

When we die, we can’t take anything with us, other than souls we have led to the Lord (1 Thessalonians 2:19) and treasures we have laid up in Heaven (Matthew 6:20), namely, good works we have done with the proper motive to serve our Lord Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 3:11-15). Once we are born again (John 3:3-8), we don’t have to prepare for the trip, to pack, or to book accommodations or arrange for these to be made ready, or even to travel. The moment we are absent from the body, we will be present with the Lord, and He will instantly take us to Heaven (2 Corinthians 5:6-8).

Often our life here seems like a journey through the darkness of this evil world (Ephesians 6:12), which is not our home (Hebrews 11:16). But there it will be eternal dawn, lit by Jesus Christ (Isaiah 60:19-20; (Revelation 21:23), Light of the world (John 8:12), Himself! There He has prepared many mansions for His children (John 14:2), no doubt each uniquely suited to our individual preferences and personalities. The delight of each home and of the Heavenly City (Hebrews 12:22) will be far beyond our earthly imagination, although Scripture provides some details about the latter, the New Jerusalem (Revelation 21:2).  

Imagine a city with streets of pure gold, walls built of precious stones, and gates of pearl, ruled in perfect peace and harmony by Jesus Christ, inhabited by all who love Him! ((Revelation 21:18-26). Imagine having a glorified body that will never sin, age, sorrow, die or experience pain or sickness (Revelation 21:4), yet that will be able to enjoy eating and drinking (John 21; Matthew 26:29), walking through walls (John 20:19), and traveling at the speed of thought! (Luke 24:30-31). Imagine an eternity to share love, joy, and peace with Him and one another, to rule and reign with Him (Isaiah 32:1), to worship and praise Him! (Revelation 5:8-14).

All this awaits us and so much more! May we run with patience the earthly race set before us (Hebrews 12:1), look up for His soon return (Luke 21:28), and do all we can to bring others to Him, so that we may come home to our loving Father as His Son says, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant! (Matthew 25:21).

© 2023 Laurie Collett

Saturday, March 11, 2023

This Moment, or All Eternity?


Photo be Maxime Raynal 2015

Tonight, we who live in the Eastern United States set our clocks forward 1 hour, transitioning from Eastern Standard Time to Daylight Savings Time. Many feel that this time change should be permament, rather than setting our clocks back in the fall, and this is under debate in the legislature.

Time is also in the forefront of the news as many potential catastrophes -- nuclear, climate, economic, and disease-related, loom on the horizon. All this has led experts to declare that we are now at 90 seconds before midnight on the Doomsday Clock -- meaning total world annihilation -- closer than we have ever been since that clock began ticking in 1947. This should not come as a shock to Christians who have read Matthew 24, where Jesus enumerated all the signs that will precede the end of the age, when Jesus will return for His children. A mere glance at the headlines confirms these signs increasing in frequency and severity, much like labor pains, heralding this dramatic event.

But ultimately, whether or not Jesus tarries, only two time points matter for the Christian -- right now, and all eternity. I therefore thought it would be fitting to repost the article below. 

We tend to think of reality as the sum of our physical existence, past experiences, and future plans. In humanistic and philosophical terms, this is reasonable, for we are to a large extent shaped by our past experiences. Educators speak of “nurture plus nature,” or how our environment and genetics interact to predict our behavior, health, achievement, success, and a variety of other outcomes. And, as the saying goes, those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.

And there is no denying that our future plans have a dramatic effect on our present actions. Our goals influence what studies, training, and work opportunities we are likely to pursue, and even what relationships we are likely to seek. Our anticipation of what lies in store, whether good or bad, greatly affects how we spend our time and resources in the present. 

Announcements of life-changing events in the near future have a profound impact on our priorities, whether we learn that we are about to have a grandchild or that we are likely to die in six months from a terminal illness.

But as born-again Christians (John 3:3-8) who have placed our faith in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 15:1-4) as the only Way to Heaven (John 14:6), there are truly only two realities in the time spectrum: this very moment, and all of eternity. And the same goes for all of us, saved or unsaved.

The past is not something we can change nor a place we can inhabit. We can get caught up in memories of good times or guilt-ridden over prior mistakes, but we can only change their impact in the present moment by adjusting our emotional response and asking God to release their hold on our life through His peace (Philippians 4:7; Isaiah 26:3). Once we are in Christ, we are a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17), and His compassions are new every morning (Lamentations 3:22-23).

If we are in Christian or other service, we cannot rest on our laurels and point to how we used to serve God in the past. In theatre, the adage is that you’re only as good as your last performance. Conversely, our faith in the shed blood of Christ has removed us from our sins (Romans 3:25; 1 John 2:2; 4:10) as far as the East is removed from the West (Psalm 103:12). If He has forgotten our transgressions once we are clothed in the righteousness of Christ (Isaiah 61:10), why should we dwell in them? It is a lie of the devil (John 8:44) to confront us with past sins and convince us that we are therefore of no use to God and His kingdom.

The future should have no more hold on us than should the past. How many people stop enjoying the present, refusing to take vacations or to spend more time with their family now because they are working to secure their retirement and enjoy these experiences then? But sadly, they often find that an unexpected illness or loss of a loved one deprives them of fulfilling that dream.

In the Scripture example of the wealthy man who planned to build more barns to hoard his accumulated possessions, so that he could live comfortably for many years, Jesus called him a fool for not realizing that he would lose his life and his soul the very same night (Luke 12:16-20). James warns us that our life is but a vapor, vanishing like the exhaled breath before our face on a cold day, and that what happens tomorrow depends totally on the will of God (James 4:14-15) and not on our own plans (Proverbs 16:9).

In contrast, many worry about future threats at the expense of enjoying the present. The world is increasingly overflowing with chaos, confusion, persecutionnatural disasters, wars, and rumors of wars, as Jesus warned us would happen as we draw closer to the End Times (Matthew 24:3-14). Perhaps we are living under a Damocles’ sword of potentially bad news with our next doctor’s appointment, bank statement, or work memo.

But Jesus said that worry accomplishes nothing. In fact, it is actually a sin because it demonstrates our lack of trust that God is working all things together for our good and His glory (Romans 8:28). Without faith, it is impossible to please God (Hebrews 11:6). Jesus told us not to fret over our physical needs such as food or clothing, for he will provide all these if we seek Him first (Luke 12:22-32; Matthew 6:25-33), and He knows what we need before we even ask Him (Matthew 6:8).

As our former pastor used to say, “Yesterday is history; tomorrow is a mystery; today is a gift. That’s why we call it the present.” For each of us, the only reality along the continuum of time is the present moment. We can’t relive the past, and we are not promised tomorrow, or even our next breath (James 4:14-15). All could change in an instant, as it did for Job despite his exemplary obedience to God (Job 1).

But praise God, we do have this very moment to honor, glorify and commune with Him! In all that we do, let us do it heartily, as unto the Lord! (Colossians 3:23). Let us redeem the time, for the days are evil (Colossians 4:5; Ephesians 5:16). Let us give thanks in all things, for this is the will of Christ Jesus concerning us. Let us pray without ceasing by making our life a living prayer, being constantly attuned to God’s will (1 Thessalonians 5:16-24).

For those who have not yet trusted Jesus Christ, today is the day of salvation! Put it off no longer, for even moments from now may be too late! (2 Corinthians 6:2).

But in addition to the reality of this present moment, we must face the reality of all eternity. God’s Word and man’s soul are eternal (1 John 2:17). Those who trust Christ will spend eternity in Heaven with Jesus Christ and their loved ones in Him (John 3:16; Luke 18:30; 1 Corinthians 15:22-57); those who reject Christ face eternal damnation and torment in hell (Mark 3:29; 9:43-48). Time as we now know it will have no meaning, for time will be no more.

For God, eternity stretches back infinitely and reaches forward infinitely (Revelation 1:8), yet “back” and “forward” are not appropriate terms once we are removed from the timeline as we now know it. Time will stand still rather than marching on. Before time began, God designed each of us to be His unique workmanship, to fulfill His specific purpose (2 Timothy 1:9). He knew and knows all things, including who would accept and who would reject His freely given gift of salvation (Ephesians 1:3-7; 2 Thessalonians 2:13; Romans 8:29-30).

And once Jesus returns for us at the Rapture, earthly time will cease for each of His children. We shall live forever with Him and each other in glorified bodies that will never age, sin, or experience sickness, sorrow or pain (1 Corinthians 15:22-57). In the meantime, may we live in the reality of this present moment – our only opportunity to fulfill His will for our life – and in the reality of all eternity.

God had a plan for each of us since eternity past. Knowing that we will spend eternity future with Him, may we use each moment to store up treasures in Heaven (Matthew 6:19-20) and to bring others with us!

© 2018 Laurie Collett
Reposted from the archives

Saturday, March 4, 2023

For Such A Time


"Queen Esther" by Hugues Merle

Next week begins the Jewish feast of Purim, which commemorates saving of the Jewish people from Haman, an evil official of the Persian Empire under king Ahasuerus who planned to exterminate all of Persia's Jewish subjects.

Thankfully, Haman’s plans were foiled by Queen Esther, favored wife of Ahasuerus, herself a Jewess whom God had placed in this position of influence “for such a time as this” (Esther 4:14). She was an orphan adopted by her uncle Mordecai, who realized that God had orchestrated her unlikely rise to royal status so that she could help save His people.

He had wisely advised her to conceal her Jewish identity until it was needed to fulfill God’s purpose for her life. But now that her people were threatened, she could appeal to the king’s love for her to deliver all of them, and even to defeat Haman in the process, who ended up hanged on the very gallows he had built for Mordecai (Esther 5-10).

It would not be the first time God had placed an outsider in the enemy’s camp to protect or deliver His chosen people. Joseph’s eleven brothers, consumed by jealousy, sold him into Egyptian slavery. But what they intended for evil, God used for good (Genesis 50:20).

Joseph’s eventual rise to most trusted advisor to Pharaoh, despite a tumultuous course of events including false imprisonment, ultimately allowed him to provide for his family during the severe famine, leading to a surprising reunion and preservation of his brothers, who gave rise to the twelve tribes of Israel (Genesis 37-50).

God spared the life of Moses, a baby condemned to die under Pharaoh’s cruel edict to kill all the Hebrew male infants born in Israel, while their older relatives were held captive for slave labor. God carefully arranged all the details so that Moses would be nursed by his own mother, discovered by Pharaoh’’s daughter as a basket carrying him floated by the river Nile shore where she was bathing, and raised as her own son (Exodus 2).

This position of great privilege in the Egyptian court, while Moses retained his loyalty to his fellow Hebrews, gave him a tremendous advantage years later.  In a moment of anger, Moses murdered an Egyptian who was beating a Hebrew slave, and fled into the wilderness, where he spent years in exile. God spoke to him from a burning bush and announced His calling (Exodus 3). Moses would return to Egypt and deliver God’s people from captivity, ultimately leading them to safety as God parted the Red Sea for their escape, then reuniting the waters so that the Egyptians pursuing them would perish (Exodus 14).

Nehemiah, trusted cup-bearer to pagan king Artaxerxes, was in a unique position to lead the rebuilding of the wall fortifying Jerusalem. When he heard of the wall’s destruction, he convinced the king not only to give him time off to supervise the project, but also letters ensuring his safety while traveling and even construction supplies (Nehemiah 1-2).

Through God’s grace, He had lifted up Esther from the Babylonian captivity into a position of influence in the king’s palace, just as He later would elevate a humble young girl, the virgin Mary, to the honored position of being the mother of Jesus Christ, the promised Savior of the world.

God chose and exalted Mary despite her modest position in life because she was willing to obey Him and follow His perfect plan, considering herself to be the handmaiden, or servant, of the Lord (Luke 1:38; 46-53). This is in keeping with God’s ability to humble the mighty and wealthy while giving riches and power to the poor and helpless (1 Samuel 2:4-8), just as He did for Esther.

These Biblical examples, and many others, remind me that we as Christians, who have been saved by the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 15:1-4), may also have been placed by God into our unique sphere of influence “for such a time as this.” Surely the signs of the times, with wars, rumors of wars, earthquakes in unusual places, false prophets, wickedness, all increasing in frequency and intensity like labor pains, point to us living in the End Times (Matthew 24), that period before Jesus returns to gather His children at the Rapture (1 Corinthians 15:51-57).

Not all Christians are missionaries facing hardship in foreign lands, but all of us are pilgrims, passing through this world that is not our home, journeying toward the Promised Land of Heaven. En route, God allows all of us to undergo trials, for our ultimate good and His glory (Romans 8:28). He has equipped each of us with spiritual gifts (1 Corinthians 12), talents, and resources, and has placed us where we can grow (Jeremiah 17:7-8) to fulfill His unique purpose for us, which He knew since before the beginning of time (Ephesians 2:10).

Jesus Christ Himself was the only One Who could ever fully complete the work God set out for Him to do (John 17:4). Sadly, each of us will fall short of perfect fulfillment of God’s designated mission for us, but the degree of our success will be based on our faith, obedience to God’s call, and character. If, by yielding to the Holy Spirit, we can emulate the integrity, compassion, dedication, perseverance, devotion and humility of Esther, Joseph, Moses, Nehemiah, and Mary, we are more likely to accomplish our Divine mission. 

In these End Times, may we recognize that we have been positioned in God's Kingdom "for such a time as this" and follow His perfect will, living with faith, integrity and purpose until He comes again!

© 2023 Laurie Collett