God Time August 7-11
Monday August 7
But you haven’t believed in me even though you have seen me. However, those the Father has given me will come to me, and I will never reject them.
I have always been fascinated by the stories of those who have achieved great wealth or influence coming from humble beginnings. Do you remember this picture? The son of a candle maker who goes to the big city to make something out of himself? Does this picture help? Sure enough it is Ben Franklin. One of the key architects of this great experiment we call America.
Thinking about Ben Franklin a phrase comes to mind. The self-made man. Someone who follows his dreams and lives life with passion and hard work. I think of Sam Walton, who would be the richest man in the world by far today if he were still alive. Walton returned from serving in the army in WWII and took money he had saved to buy a Ben Franklin 5 and Dime store. Interesting. Well, he built a few other stores, as well, didn’t he?
Or take Larry Ellison, founder of Oracle, the sixth richest man in the world, who was born of an unwed mother and shipped off to his aunt and uncle to be raised in a tiny apartment in Chicago. When his adoptive mother died he dropped out of college and started an database company, Oracle, with $2000. Now if you go to Maui and look out over to the island of Lanai, realize Larry Ellison owns that whole island!
So what exactly is a self-made man? I don’t know because I have never met one. Actually it’s all a myth. It doesn’t make any difference what your background or upbringing is, how hard you work, how persistent you are, the fortune you make, you are not self-made.
You are God-made.
You have never met anyone who made themselves. We are God-made men and women. God-made. You and the person sitting next to you. We are all special in this way. The only way that really counts. God-made. We are sons and daughters of God, and we are special like any other person who realizes they are not special in the traditional way of looking at it. We are not self-made. We didn’t do anything to deserve our existence except we do exist. We thank God for our existence and we thank him for deciding we are his children.
If only it was this easy.
Since wandering in the wilderness, God’s people, and I include us here, have acted like we are special and God owes us something. We act as if we instinctively know God should do what we want him to do. Now, add to this another layer, God comes to earth specifically in Jesus.
Name five people who have had a strong influence in your life.
Tuesday August 8
For I have come down from heaven to do the will of God who sent me, not to do my own will.
Jesus will draw all people to himself. It is not what we have done or have not done that joins us to Jesus. God’s people are those who realize they are connected and don’t reject what Jesus has to offer.
This is how a God-made man or a God-made woman functions.
We don’t follow our dreams. We follow God’s dream for us. That we know and trust in his Son Jesus. We don’t live our lives with passion. Not unless what we are passionate about is to do the will of God. Jesus is our model.
Even Jesus in not a self-made man, he is man of God who comes to earth to do God’s will, not his own.
And God’s will has to do with us.
How is Jesus a good model for you?
Wednesday August 9
And this is the will of God, that I should not lose even one of all those he has given me, but that I should raise them up at the last day. For it is my Father’s will that all who see his Son and believe in him should have eternal life. I will raise them up at the last day.
The will of God is that we are his children forever. We don’t choose God. God chooses us. Not because of how great we are or how mighty we are, God chooses us because it is his pleasure to be our God.
God’s people, Israel, never understood this. Moses spoke to them of a God who “lavishes his unfailing love on those who love him and obey his commands.”
God is not an invisible force of power in the world demanding allegiance or he will rain down terror. Neither is God a cosmic piñata for us to whack and he will rain down his goodies. No, God loves us and wants nothing more than we love him and follow his ways. That’s how we receive what God wants for us. That is what brings blessing to us and through us to the world.
This is no small thing. To realize we are claimed by the God of all existence and he stakes that claim through Jesus. Unlike the Judaeans who are with Jesus and yet don’t trust him, we don’t see Jesus with our eyes and yet he chooses to reveal himself to us through our trust.
Where have you received lavish love from God recently?
Thursday August 10
Then the people began to murmur in disagreement because he had said, “I am the bread that came down from heaven.” They said, “Isn’t this Jesus, the son of Joseph? We know his father and mother. How can he say, ‘I came down from heaven’?”
But Jesus replied, “Stop complaining about what I said. For no one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them to me, and at the last day I will raise them up.
Here is dilemma for the Judaeans. The Messiah who is sent by God is once and for all. Not like anyone else. If Jesus is the true Messiah, there will not be another Messiah sent later. This is not like some kind of pro sports deal. You will receive one Messiah now, and one to be named later. Either believe in Jesus or don’t. But you can’t use human standards to judge God’s work.
It is like the Judaeans are saying Jesus doesn’t have the credentials to be Messiah. Either he can’t be human, or he can’t come from humble origins.
‘We know his parents Joseph and Mary.’
This sounds like they are questioning how Jesus can be from God if he is born of human parents. Or they are questioning the worthiness of having human parents like Joseph and Mary.
Yet, their own Scripture, the Old Testament, is filled with warnings that God’s people will doubt the Messiah. Like this passage from Isaiah 53.
Who has believed our message?
To whom has the Lord revealed his powerful arm?
My servant grew up in the Lord’s presence like a tender green shoot,
like a root in dry ground.
There was nothing beautiful or majestic about his appearance,
nothing to attract us to him.There was nothing beautiful or majestic about his appearance,
nothing to attract us to him.
So, by doubting, the Judaeans are actually themselves fulfilling prophesies from their own Scripture!
Another way of thinking about this is their own doubts should lead them to realize Jesus is the one.
We don’t follow blind faith. When you don’t have faith in the God of Jesus Christ you have blind non-faith.
Friday August 11
As it is written in the Scriptures, ‘They will all be taught by God.’ Everyone who listens to the Father and learns from him comes to me.
There we have it. God has decided all along to make all things new. God has chosen to reveal himself. You can’t use the old human ways of thinking to come to God.
Let’s look at some human ways of understanding God.
- God is like a secret treasure to be discovered by only a few wise and special people.
- God is a mysterious vindictive force who demands our worship and waits for us to do something wrong so he can punish us.
- God is at our beck and call and will do whatever we want him to do for us because we deserve it.
- God is like an extremely doting and permissive parent who approves of everything we do no matter how it affects us or other people.
- God is a mystery we can’t understand at all; we just somehow know he exists.
Here are responses to these.
1. God is not some secret treasure that only a few special people will discover. It is God himself who is teaching us to follow his ways. It is Jesus whom God sends to make the new things clear. And as we have seen throughout history, people from all cultures and all walks of life know Jesus as Lord.
2. God is open to all to freely receive his love.
3. God loves us because of who he is, not because of who we are.
4. God designs life to be lived his way. When we identify as his children we obey him and ultimately we flourish. Our rebellion doesn’t bring blessing for us and for others. To go against his design and seek our identity from any other means leads us to destruction.
5. God reveals himself repeatedly through those who love Jesus and follow him.
You see when you follow the teachings of God, you end up with Jesus.
When you disagree with Jesus, look for ways you are wrong.