The Lightning and Thunder of God

Lightning & Thunder of God

God reveals Himself in innumerable ways. Have you sensed the lightning and thunder of His Presence recently? If so, was it fierce or awe-inspiring?

In our area, we often experience thunderstorms — some severe. People respond to the storms in various ways. Some people run for cover and hunker down until it’s over. Others carry on with life like nothing unusual is occurring around them. Still others, who border on insanity, pursue storms, enjoying the near-death experience of pushing the boundaries of reasonable safety.

Sometimes a soft rumble of thunder offers the only evidence of atmospheric disturbance. More often a sudden flash followed by an intense clap awakens onlookers to take heed. The more experienced may “feel” the storm coming a long way off, sensing it in the air, and feeling it in their bones.

God often speaks through nature, pointing our attention to deeper spiritual concepts. Paul said,

“For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities — his eternal power and divine nature — have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.”
Romans 1:20

Storm Clouds

God reveals His “invisible qualities” through His creation. In nature, the flash of lightning produces the sound of thunder. What about in the spiritual? Do we need a similar combination of visible and audible, power and voice, to comprehend God more personally and fully? Perhaps.

Word and Light

The Gospel of John opens with Word and Light, the audible and visible, thunder and lightning.

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God.”
John 1:1

In the beginning — before created things — the Word, Jesus Christ, was with God and was God. From the beginning, preceding time as we know and understand it, the thunder of God’s Word existed and resonated.

“In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”
John 1:4-5

Here it is! Lightning and thunder! The Word, above all words, speaking all things into existence! The Light overcoming every darkness!

Lightning flashes and is gone; Jesus came and remains eternal. Thunder roars for a moment; Jesus’ words endure forever.

Storm Coming

Fearful

My mother experienced disabling fear of electric storms. At the slightest hint of danger, she gathered everyone and everything into protection. Quickly she closed and latched windows and doors, pulled curtains shut, and busied herself attempting to occupy her fear-filled mind. Many others react similarly.

When God descended upon Mount Sinai with “thunder and lightning, with a thick cloud over the mountain and a very loud trumpet blast. Everyone in the camp trembled (Exodus 19:16). Such an awesome revelation of God certainly would have made my knees shake and heart beat intensely.

” . . . Speak to us yourself and we will listen. But do not have God speak to us or we will die.”
Exodus 20:19

Many people easily relate to the Israelite’s response to God’s Presence, seeing God as fierce, cruel, and judgmental. Moses knew God personally and more fully.

“As the sound of the trumpet grew louder and louder, Moses spoke and the voice of God answered him.”
Exodus 19:19

Storm Over the Ocean

Years later, David wrote these words:

“He made known his ways to Moses, his deeds to the people of Israel: The LORD is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love.”
Psalm 103:7-8

The fear of God will either draw us near, like Moses, or cause our hearts to tremble and our feet to run away, like the people of Israel. Knowing God’s attributes and nature dispels negative fears and nurtures positive affection and attraction.

Storm Chasers

For a rare breed of others, the mention of an impending thunderstorm incites excitement, their hearts pound with enthusiasm and anticipation. Just the mention of lightning and thunder to these folks causes a flurry of motion as they leap from lethargy, jumping into their jalopies to go wherever necessary to experience the storm close up. With cameras in hand, they ready themselves to catch the ultimate image. Then they tell their adventurous stories with enthusiasm.

The church contains a few similar enthusiasts, ready on a moment’s notice to fly to the far reaches of the globe to hear their favorite speaker, teacher, revivalist, healer, or evangelist. Their enthusiasm for the things of God is exemplary. Their senses sustain high alert for revival. They, too, zealously tell their stories of close encounters with God’s Presence.

Into the Storm

Though not all fit this category, some people chase God only for the thrill of the experience or for what they hope to receive, rather than to know Him more fully. There have always been a few followers, only seeking fringe benefits.

“Jesus answered, ‘Very truly I tell you, you are looking for me, not because you saw the signs I performed but because you ate the loaves and had your fill.”
John 6:26

God will eventually confront all selfish seekers who attempt to imitate true God followers. Seeking God for the rush of spiritual lightning and thunder falls far short of leaning close to God, waiting to discover His heart and learn His ways.

Resting

My father labored through many storms while keeping alert to the shifting skies. Wisdom taught him to respect the power of lightning and heed the warning thunder, but he walked confidently through them both. He knew when to stand in awe with appreciation and when to shut the door for protection. We often sat together in a dark room, scanning the horizon for the next lightning flash, giggling, gasping, and glorying in God’s majestic display. Even secure in our home, we felt the fear as the house shook with intensity. It was a fear that drew us close in wonder and amazement.

I think this best illustrates how I approach God’s lightning and thunder — the awareness of His Presence and the sound of His voice. I don’t want to miss the miraculous, but desire to see clearly His movements in my generation. God still speaks. I want to be tuned to listen.

Lightning and Thunder

While multitudes came and went, a few stayed true to Jesus. Peter captured the reason well.

“Simon Peter answered him, ‘Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and to know that you are the Holy One of God.”
John 6:68-69

To be a Christ-follower isn’t only about rushes and thrills, miracles and encounters, although these are available and important. Being a worshipper of Jesus means knowing there is no other One we want to be with — to see and hear, to believe and to know.

Lightning And Thunder

The Holy Spirit enlightens our minds to understand, so the thunder of God’s voice creates the greatest impact. The disciples who knew Jesus the best missed most of the essence of what He did and said, until He opened their minds so they could understand” (Luke 24:45).

Everywhere Jesus went, He performed miracles and taught truth. He became incomparable lightning and thunder wrapped in humanity! The Book of Acts records how the apostles followed His example of teaching and doing miracles. Paul speaks to the church in Corinth, saying,

“My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on human wisdom, but on God’s power.”
1 Corinthians 2:4-5

Lightning And Thunder

Lightning and thunder, miraculous power united with God’s Word, best demonstrate God’s attributes and character. They steer our eyes from Earth to Heaven — our allegiance from human to divine. Today, this combination still evokes various responses.

Like the seasoned, experienced weather trackers of old, may we possess a strong sense of God’s movements and His ways. May we acknowledge His transcending Presence, His unstoppable power, and His overflowing goodness and grace. May we stand in this window of opportunity, delighting in His display, seeing His lightning power, and hearing His thunderous voice. Fear not!

**********

Processing…
Success! You're on the list.

The Pursuit of God: To See and Know God More

The Pursuit of God

Are you in pursuit of God, desiring to know Him in ever-increasing ways? The little I know doesn’t satisfy my desire for more. The more I see and know, the more I realize I don’t really see or know much!

Have you ever tried a “What is it?” quiz? That’s where you look at a close-up image of something and guess what it is. Sometimes pursuing God resembles the opposite. Through an encounter with a distant shadow, we try to figure out what He is fully like.

A.W. Tozer said, “We pursue God because, and only because, He has first put an urge within us that spurs us to that pursuit.”

Pixabay - OCC Public Domain - Fractalius Big Cat Animal Animal World Lion Mane

God wants to be found; He desires to be discovered by us. That knowledge offers great comfort and hope.

“You will seek me and find me
when you seek me with all your heart.”
Jeremiah 29:13

Shadows

The Old Testament gives us bold expressions of God’s identity through His many names: God, LORD, Healer, Creator, Shepherd, Redeemer, and many more. The list is long, the images unique to another facet of who our God is.

The vast God-shaped palette fills with colorful texture as our knowledge of Him fills and finds depth. When we look, seeking with our whole heart, we find His image revealed, yet concealed.

Pixabay - OCC Public Domain - Fractalius Big Cat Animal Animal World Lion Mane

In the pages of the New Testament, we quickly see that most people, Jewish and otherwise, believed they had Him figured out. The portrait they painted was Scripture perfect. Or so they thought! They believed in the diligent pursuit of God.

John quotes Jesus as saying,

You study the Scriptures diligently
because you think that in them
you have eternal life.
These are the very Scriptures
that testify about me.”
John 5:39

John’s generation, as well as preceding and following generations, studied God’s Word with a what’s-in-it-for-me attitude, rather than a pursuit-of-God intention. As a result, they missed God, even when He stood among them.

Me, Too!

Honestly, that’s me too! John himself probably fit into the same category. As a Jewish boy, he would have studied the Torah, knew the names of God, and memorized key passages about Him.

If someone asked if he knew God, John undoubtedly would have responded in the affirmative. His incomplete perception of God blew apart when Jesus came along.

Pixabay - OCC Public Domain - Fractalius Big Cat Animal Animal World Lion Mane

Jesus, the God-Man, didn’t look like, sound like or act like the God John thought he knew. Yet Paul would write,

“The Son is the image of the invisible God,
the firstborn over all creation.”
Colossians 1:15

Another disciple, Philip, was in pursuit of God. He felt he needed more. Being with Jesus, hearing his authoritative teaching and witnessing miracles left him lacking.

“Philip said, ‘Lord, show us the Father
and that will be enough for us.”
John 14:8

In no uncertain terms, Jesus responds,

“. . . Don’t you know me, Philip,
even after I have been among
you such a long time?
Anyone who has seen me
has seen the Father. . .”
John 14:9

This, too, I find strangely reassuring. Even the disciples who lived with Jesus intensely pursued more of God!

Majestic Glory

John’s entire perception of God changed in the face of Jesus. He discovered Him to be more loving, merciful and gracious than John ever imagined. Was it this new understanding that transformed a “Son of Thunder” into “the Beloved?” Talk about a radical life transformation!

As our view of God changes, so will we.

God made Himself visible, reachable, touchable, understood and seen in Jesus. So much more remains to be seen, known and discovered.

Pixabay - OCC Public Domain - Fractalius Big Cat Animal Animal World Lion Mane

Jesus led Peter, James and John high up a mountain one day. The rest of his close followers stayed below.

“There be was transfigured before them.
His face shone like the sun,
and his clothes became as white as the light.”
Matthew 17:2

Just when they thought they had God figured out He blows their tidy little box apart. Jesus shows Himself in a way they have never seen Him before. They flounder for words, stumble over preconceived notions, stunned by the majesty of God.

In Peter’s last letter to the church, he wrote about the experience.

“. . . we were eyewitnesses of his majesty . . . when the voice came to him from the Majestic Glory, saying, ‘This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well please.’ We ourselves heard this voice that came from heaven when we were with him on the sacred mountain.”
2 Peter 1:16-18

The God they thought they knew proved beyond majesty and perfection — holy and awesome. The pursuit of God led them into deeper and deeper revelations of His glory.

The Pursuit of God

If any one of us would have witnessed such things, would that satisfy? Would that one blinding glimpse of His majestic beauty, the thunderous sound of His voice, the heart-pounding Presence of the divine, be enough?

I hope not!

Pixabay - OCC Public Domain - Fractalius Big Cat Animal Animal World Lion Mane

Here was King David’s heart’s cry,

“You, God, are my God,
earnestly I seek you;
I thirst for you,
my whole being longs for you,
in a dry and parched land
where there is no water.”
Psalm 63:1

I know this desire echoed constantly within John. How can I be so certain? In the last words we receive from him, he remains constant in his pursuit of God. John discovers Him to be more than he ever thought possible.

More to See

Banished to the Island of Patmos for his bold declarations of faith, John waits with the only One who matters.

“On the Lord’s Day I was in the Spirit, and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet . . . I turned around to see the voice that was speaking to me. And when I turned I saw . . . someone like a son of man, dressed in a robe reaching down to his feet and with a golden sash around his chest . . . ”
Revelation 1:10-16

There is always more of God to see. To turn around? Sometimes to know Him more requires a turning on our part — turning away from something and turning toward Someone. Only then will we see Who we are looking for.

When He speaks, when His voice nudges me, do I turn around to look? Or am I too busy? Or too fixed in the knowledge of Him I already possess?

Two Things

As a Christian, two dangerous attitudes hinder me from knowing God.

The first is believing I know enough. Then, I allow the shadowy figure of past understanding to create a mirage, a distorted outline, of who God is. In so doing, I twist and press the grandness of Scripture into my Pharisaical belief system, denying the majesty and greatness of Him to form before my eyes. In it, I deny the revelation of His unfolding fullness.

Pixabay - OCC Public Domain - Fractalius Big Cat Animal Animal World Lion Mane

Second, I can read the Word of God intent on discovering what He will do for me. Rather than an earnest desire to know Him more, I search for His promises with me-centered fixation. He walks by, whispering my name, nudging me to intimacy of relationship. I fail to notice until perhaps it is too late!

Like David, Peter, John and generations of others, may we never cease our pursuit of God. Throughout the stages of life, may we be held in awe of His Presence, in wonder of His majesty, and in reverence of His holy divinity. May our pursuit of God captivate us, viewing Him intently close and from afar.

The Bible, Hardcopy or Digital – Sweeter than Honey on the Comb

Is your bible hardcopy or digital? Either way, it is sweeter than honey on the comb! The richness of the bible will never be exhausted. Its relevance stands the test of time, across cultural boundaries, remaining true for all generations in all circumstances.

Tonight I sat around the table with eight new friends. One woman, in her eighties, mentioned that she has never owned or read the bible. Others also said they have never read the bible, even in part. Only one woman was experiencing the wonder and pleasure of reading a bible regularly.

Books come and books go. But the Bible has remained the top selling publication of all time. Many similes describe the Word of God, each revealing a powerful attribute within its pages.

The Bible Reveals

The Word of God shines a soft but distinct light before us, guiding our feet along solid ground.

Your word is a lamp for my feet,
    a light on my path.”
Psalm 119:105

In an ever-shifting, unstable world, various “paths” flash with neon insistence and luring enticement, “Come here! Go there! Buy this! Choose me!” Only the bible grants steadfast principles to not only walk unhindered, but run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” (Hebrews 12:1)

The Bible is a light

I enjoy night walks in the country with only the stars and moon as my light. Withdrawing from the “visual noise” of city life, I find I “see” more clearly as I walk and meditate on God’s Word. Here God often gives wisdom for the days ahead, correction for today, and healing from the past.

The bible is also a mirror.

 “But whoever looks intently into the perfect law
that gives freedom, and continues in it—
not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—
they will be blessed in what they do.”
James 1:25

The Power of God’s Word

The bible reveals the hidden motivations of our hearts. His “perfect law … gives freedom!” For those prepared to “look” and “continue” in His Word, a blessing of obedience follows. The light and mirror of His Word brings visibility, but it is in the “doing” that His freedom is released into our lives.

Crafted into His Image - Hammer and Fire

When stubbornness and rebellion persist, The Word of God gently and firmly offers healthy discipline. Like a fire that refines or hammer that convicts, God’s Word removes what doesn’t belong and break strongholds of the enemy over us.

 “Is not my word like fire,” declares the Lord,
“and like a hammer that breaks a rock in pieces?”
Jeremiah 23:29

The Word of God forms a plumb line between right and wrong, good and evil (Hebrews 5:14). His love powerfully sets us free, while tenderly protecting us in the process. Faithfully God uses His Word to craft us into perfection.

The Bible Feeds

All of us have a spiritual hunger deeper and stronger than any natural hunger. A hunger only God supplies! The bible contains a banquet feast necessary for health and growth.

“Jesus answered, “It is written:
Man shall not live on bread alone,
but on every word that comes
from the mouth of God.”
Matthew 4:4

The bible is food!

The Word of God is bread for the hungry, solid food for the mature, and milk the youngest in the faith can absorb. The format you choose is insignificant. Your bible, hardcopy or digital, will become

“… sweeter than honey,
    than honey from the honeycomb.”
Psalms 19:10

To be spiritual healthy, a continuous portion of the spiritual food is necessary. Corporate worship once a week won’t sustain us.

Most people have difficulty fasting from food for more than a few hours, yet many purposely ignore the hunger of the soul. Without a constant supply of spiritual nourishment, we will inevitably become gaunt, weak, and fail to reach maturity.

“Like newborn babies,
crave pure spiritual milk,
so that by it you may grow up in your salvation,
now that you have tasted
that the Lord is good.”
1 Peter 2:2-3

Cleanses and Purifies

The bible is also an instrument in God’s hands.

 “For the word of God is alive and active.
Sharper than any double-edged sword,
it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow;
it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.”
Hebrews 4:12

The bible’s pin-point accuracy penetrates right to the heart. The living Word activated within us produces results. It exposes thoughts and attitudes that may or may not align with godly principles.

The bible cleanses

The cleansing power of the living Word continuously works in our lives!

“…Christ loved the church and
gave himself up for her
to make her holy,
cleansing her by the
washing with water through the word,
and to present her to himself as a radiant church,
without stain or wrinkle or
any other blemish, but holy and blameless.”
Ephesians 5: 25-27

The “water through the word” removes every stain, wrinkle and blemish. It is more precious … than much pure gold.(Psalms 19:10) The bible actively working in our lives is of immeasurable worth.

Refreshing

But there’s more! The water of the Word refreshes and nurtures.

“As the rain and the snow
    come down from heaven,
and do not return to it
    without watering the earth
and making it bud and flourish,
    so that it yields seed for the sower
and bread for the eater.”
Isaiah 55:10

The bible produces

God’s Word brings life to those who hear and receive it. God has a purpose for each word He speaks. The seed of His Word encases future reproduction and growth. At the same time, it sustains the hungry. Like rain coming to earth, His Word nurtures and produces what He desires. Seed and bread!

“For you have been born again,
not of perishable seed,
but of imperishable,
through the living and enduring word of God.”
I Peter 1:23

The bible activates faith bringing forth eternal life in those who believe and receive it!

“…faith comes from hearing the message,
and the message is heard
through the word about Christ.”
Romans 10:17

More than a Book

The bible, hardcopy or digital, is incomparable to any other book — more than words, thoughts, philosophies, history or prophecy.

“The Word became flesh
and made his dwelling among us.
We have seen his glory,
the glory of the one and only Son,
who came from the Father,
full of grace and truth.”
John 1:14

I cannot fathom this concept, “The Word became flesh!” The Old Testament presents Christ in a concealed manner. The New Testament reveals Christ so we can behold Him.

The Bible - Hardcopy or Digital

In scratching the bare surface of the power of God’s word, awe fills me, and so it should. God wants to not only know us, but make Himself fully known to us.  The psalmist said,

“I will bow down toward Your holy temple
And give thanks to Your name
for Your lovingkindness and Your truth;
For You have magnified Your word
according to all Your name.”
Psalm 138: 2

Yes! More precious than “thousands of pieces of silver and gold” (Psalm 119:72), it gives wisdom to the wise, and knowledge to the understanding. Maybe it’s time to take a new look at the bible, hardcopy or digital and begin to read. Meditate on its truths, letting them become ingrained into your life.

If you are not plugged into the bible yet, don’t put it off! You have so much to gain!

**********

 

The Farmer Sows The Word – People Are Like Seed

The Word

Jesus sat in boat just offshore teaching; one parable tells about the farmer sowing the word – people are seeds. I have read this familiar parable often. “People are like seed,” is the phrase that caught my attention.

I see a parallel between my life and this parable in a new way this morning.

The Path

“As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up.”
Mark 4:4

Jesus later explained that some people hear the word, but “Satan comes and takes away the word that was sown in them.” (vs 15)

The Path

I grew up in a loving home; faith was not absent, but it was distant. We rarely attended church. A bible was present but rarely opened. I heard God existed, Christ came as baby and died as a man. There was no ability within me to connect the Word further. In my limited understanding God seemed distant and unrelational.

Like the parable, I could “hear” but I was robbed of deeper understanding!

The Rocks

“Others, like seed sown on rocky places, hear the word and at once receive it with joy. But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away.”
Mark 4:16-17

When I was 12, I went to a bible camp. What a great experience! It was here that I first “heard” the message of God’s love for me. God was no longer distant or distracted. His love and intention is for all to come into a personal relationship with Him. This is the reason He sent His Son Jesus,

born as baby,
holy and righteous in every way
to live pure
paying the price for my sin
on an agonizing cross
then rising to live again
exalted in heaven…

The truth of the Word hit my rocky heart breaking it! Such love beyond comprehension! Such a Saviour! Who could possibly reject such love?

Rocks

Just like the parable, “with joy” I received Jesus as my Saviour! But my life held no roots system – no one to support me in this new decision. My trouble and persecution was very minor, through parents who did not believe – prayer and consistent bible reading was not an acceptable practise in my home. It grieves me now to confess how quickly I fell away…..

The Thorns

It would take 10 years of painful wandering. At a point of utter desperation, I heard the Holy Spirit as He showed me He had never left me! I crumbled to my knees,

giving God back
every broken piece
of what remained
a fragile offering
insufficient
so little – so late…

“Still others, like seed sown among thorns, hear the word;
but the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful.”
Mark 4:19

To take a Christian from culture is one thing; to take culture from the Christian is another! Worries, wealth and desire have life gripping holds!

Thorns

God continues to deal with these, not because He is mean or demanding, but rather because they “choke the word, making it unfruitful” in my life.

There has been a long process of breaking these things in my life. I wish I could say it was quick and painless!

If I were totally honest, a large chunk of my praying has really been religious complaining about “worries, wealth and desire“. Only when I agree with God’s desire to see a fruitfulness in my life, will I be willing to leave these things behind.

Good Soil

“Others, like seed sown on good soil,
hear the word, accept it and produce a crop –
some thirty, some sixty, some a hundred times what was sown.”
Mark 4:20

Hearing… accepting… producing! The quantity of production isn’t the most important! Producing is!

Fruitfulness

To reach our full potential of God’s purpose means

an intentional redirection in accepting God’s word
a deliberate move away from the things that would choke out life
a focused purposeful aim toward all that
He desires
leaving our own behind.

Consumer mentality never comes here! This is the place of actively

pursuing Holy Spirit
treasuring spiritual gifts
exercising legs of faith and
backbones of endurance.

Hearing is easy! Acceptance is a decision! Producing requires labour!

The Farmer Sows The Word – People Are Like Seed

So where am I now? Since accepting Christ and the finished work of the cross, I have left the hard path. I am intentionally walking in “good soil”. Thankfully, God continues exposing and dealing with rocks and thorns that effect my ability to root and grow completely.

More and more I see God’s potential and design for my life. Sometimes I even see a glimpse of “the crop” He is producing through me.

Refreshed, I move forward.

I see a moving forward in many people’s lives; a God positioning time!

The Word

God give us each the grace
to leave grumbling and complaining behind,
stretching forward to
hear and accept all you are saying
in my life and in the lives of others.
I desire to truly produce
a healthy and abundant crop
into your kingdom.