“Oh God, Thou Art My God”
Basic Truths of God Applied in Our Lives
Annually we read the book of Psalms from January to March in our daily readings. Each year I am amazed afresh by the Psalmist’s ability to take basic truths about God, and translate them into powerful statements to govern his personal thoughts and feelings as he struggles with day-to-day issues.
For example, in Psalm 118 he describes being surrounded by his enemies, as a swarm of bees on the attack. We would normally panic. But the Psalmist proclaims this basic truth: “The LORD is on my side; I will not fear: what can man do unto me?” (Psa 118:6). Sadly, and too often, we do fear. We become anxious, and lie awake in the night hours, too stressed to sleep. Contrast this with David as he flees from Absalom: “I laid me down and slept; I awaked; for the LORD sustained me.” (Psa 3:5). Then, think of the total confusion and anxiety this experience would have bred in us. And what about Psalm 31? Here David shares the weight of his isolation:
Yet, in the following verse, he confidently responds with this basic truth: “But, I trusted in thee, O LORD: I said, Thou art my God” (v. 14). Notice how David personalizes this relationship: “my God.” Fifty-five times the Psalms lift our relationship to this level of intimacy with this same expression “my God.” And in many other passages this intimacy is reinforced. Psalm 18:2 overflows with it:
David reminds us how important it is to ponder the daily implications of living our basic beliefs. What practical steps can we take to apply these? To help us do this in Hyderabad, India, our ecclesia formulated its present statement of faith, or “Confession of Faith,” so that each statement includes a clear implication for us to work on. For example, Clauses 6 and 7 read:
Clause 6: We believe that God, in His kindness, conceived a plan of restoration which, without setting aside His just and necessary law of sin and death, could save faithful human beings from destruction, and fill the earth, with sinless immortal people. We therefore believe we should praise God for that kindness, that despite our sin He cares enough to call us to be His, and we believe that we should be like that, showing a kindness that seeks to restore relationships despite everyone’s unworthiness.
Clause 7: We believe that He initiated this plan by making promises to Adam, Abraham and David, and afterwards elaborated it in greater detail through the prophets. We therefore believe that we should be sincere to the promises we make.
There is a definite consequence to every belief and basic truth, which should impact our life in every way. This should cause us to reflect on the supernatural attributes that constitute our basic definition of God: that He is omniscient, omnipotent and omnipresent. It is essential for us to translate these academic descriptions of God into personal applications. Firstly, God is omniscient, or all knowing. Therefore, Job’s assertion, “He knows the way that I take” (Job 23:10 ESV), is true for Job and us. Job did not know the path that God was taking (v. 8) or even the path God had marked out for him (v. 9), but Job still acknowledged “God knows my way” (v. 10). Furthermore, we can be sure God knows what He is doing. Job radiates this assurance in verses 13-14 when he declares: “He performeth the thing that is appointed for me.” In contrast, we cannot work out or comprehend the ways of God. Even Job could not. And even the wisdom of the wise writer of Ecclesiastes could not: Then I beheld all the work of God, that a man cannot find out the work that is done under the sun…. though a wise man think to know it, yet shall he not be able to find it. (Ecc 8:17).
We can be sure God knows what He is doing.
Though we cannot fathom God’s ways, it is reassuring to know He can fathom us: “O LORD, thou hast searched me, and known me… and art acquainted with all my ways.” (Psa 139:1-3). How grateful we are that this knowledge is with Him, for He is the one with the power to lead us along the path to His Kingdom. Even if we knew the path which lies ahead in His providence, we could not, with human strength, walk the Kingdom road. But, as Paul reminds us, He knows and can perform. (Rom 4:21). “For it is God that works in you, both to will and to do of his good pleasure.” (Phil. 2:13). With certainty, God knows the way that we take. Every mile, and every millimeter. If we tread the path He maps out for us, we shall come forth as gold (Job 23:10). God is omniscient; therefore, God knows.
Secondly, God is omnipotent, or all-powerful. Not just as an abstract principle, but in the practical realities of the daily lives of His people. The simple matter of fertility in two old women illustrates this for us in Genesis 18:12-14 and Luke 1:36-37. As does the conception in a virgin maid in Luke 1:34-35. God’s rhetorical question to Abraham declares this plainly: “Is any thing too hard for the LORD?” (Gen 18:14).
When Jeremiah purchased a field that was over-run by the enemy, surely the world laughed, and the seller gleefully counted the coins. But Jeremiah’s purchase, impractical as it appeared, was a testimony to God’s power to keep His word. Thus, he prays: “Ah Lord God! behold, thou hast made the heaven and the earth by thy great power and stretched out arm, and there is nothing too hard for thee.” (Jer 32:17). God is all-powerful to remove the obstacles that might block the way to the Kingdom. What temporal riches impede our progress along this Kingdom Road? Are they material things, prestige, or respectability in the eyes of a godless world? There are too many obstacles for mankind to gain salvation, but Jesus assured his disciples and us when he said, “with men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible.” (Matt 19:26).
All things are possible! Even forgiveness of those sins for which we feel we could never forgive ourselves. “If our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things.” (1 John 3:20). It is God alone who can comprehend the human heart, whether it is “desperately sick” (Jer 17:9-10 ESV) or sincerely seeking Him (Acts 15:7-8). God “knoweth all things” and can do all things.
Thirdly, God is omnipresent, or present in all places at all times. How eloquently David writes of this in Psalm 139:7-13. Wherever the path of His providing takes us we can be sure that “even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me.” (v. 10). This is true even if He leads us into the wilderness. And in that place, we can there cry with Hagar, “Thou God seest me.” (Gen 16:13). How desperately we need God’s omnipresence and the ways of His providing. Only in Him can “we live, and move, and have our being.” (Acts 17:28). He does not need us, “as though he needed any thing” (v. 25), for “Every beast of the forest is mine, and the cattle upon a thousand hills… for the world is mine and all the fullness thereof.” (Psa 50:10-12).
We need the sure anchor of faith that God truly surrounds us
But how desperately we need Him every day of our life! All is His and all is at His command. Have we translated His omniscience to “He knows the way that I take”? Does His omnipotence truly teach us each day “there is nothing too hard for thee”? Does His omnipresence assure us that “thou God seest me”? God the provider, He who maps out the ways of providence of each day and night for His beloved is ever present with all knowledge and all power at His command. With this guarantee we can with loving resignation say, “He knows the way that I take,” and “I shall be satisfied, when I awake, with thy likeness.” (Psa 17:15).
To achieve the same sense of security as David, as we wake each morning to face another day, we need the sure anchor of faith that God truly surrounds us, and is working all-powerfully in us, knowing us, and present with us.
God Is… Light, Good, Love
If we want to appreciate God’s attributes in the same way as David, Job, or Jeremiah, the first step of our journey is to recognize that “God is.” Paul reminds us of this when he declares, “He that comes to God must believe that He is.” (Heb 11:6). A God who “is not” can provide us with nothing. Yahweh alone is the eternal one, who was, and is, and is to come. Whether past, present or future, He is the “I am.” The God who exists when no others do. In contrast, Baal could not answer his worshippers because Baal did not exist. “They have mouths, but they speak not; eyes have they, but they see not; they have ears, but they hear not; neither is there any breath in their mouths.” (Psa 135:16-17).
Our God alone is the God who “is,” and who can both see and hear. The Psalmist writes “He that planted the ear, shall he not hear? He that formed the eye, shall he not see?” (Psa 94:9). And so, we share the same relief of David as he sings: “The eyes of the LORD are upon the righteous, and his ears are open to their cry.” (Psa 34:15).
The wonderful thing about the attribute of existence is that it tells us that there is more to follow. “God is” is the prefix for a whole range of other characteristics, and basic truths.
John reveals one example when he tells us “God is light.” (1 John 1:5). To understand the depth of this basic truth, we must remind ourselves of the genetics principle of Genesis 1:11 and of its outworking in the spiritual realm as a sort of spiritual genetics. “Each bearing seed after its kind” was the vital principle God put into all that He made. By this, we know a lemon tree won’t produce mangoes, or a thorn bush apples, or a human mother a baby lizard. How much security that gives us!
When our loved ones deliver their offspring, we only have to ask: “a boy or a girl?”, not, is it a calf, or a piglet, or a baby goanna (lizard). The law of genetics was put there by a loving Father in Genesis 1:11, and it has been there ever since. Now, what is applicable to all creation, is also true of God. If God “is light” then that which is of God, is also “of light.” Therefore, the fruit of all He does is light even though the paths of His doings may be flecked with shadow from a human perspective. That which is of this world is darkness, for “all that is in the world, the lust of flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.” (1 John 2:16).
God’s glory is His goodness.
From Genesis 1:3-4 we learn that the light which was of God was “good.” So interrelated are “God” and “good” in scripture that when Moses prayed “show me thy glory,” the LORD replied, “I will make all my goodness pass before thee.” (Exod 33:18-19). God’s glory is His goodness. By nature, He is omnipotent (all powerful), omniscient (all knowing), and omnipresent (everywhere present). But the glory is, that with all that power, all that knowledge, and His all-pervading presence, He is still “merciful, gracious, longsuffering, abundant in goodness [Heb. chesed = kindness] and truth.” (Exo 34:6).
Man by nature cannot in this life display the supernatural power of God. We all fall short of His glory (Rom 3:23) because we fail to be as merciful, as gracious, as patient, as kind, as truthful, as forgiving or as just as God. All that is of God therefore “is light” and it “is good.” It is a principle that we, the children of faith, must believe and apply in our lives. His Word is of Him and so “Thy word is a light unto my path and a lamp unto my feet.” (Psa 119:105).
Do we consider the paths of our lives with this perspective? God the provider brings light through all the ways of providence, however dark those paths may seem. Finally, it is John who also reminds us of another basic truth, that “God is love” (1 John 4:8,16), and that which is of God “is love.” (v. 7). The ways of providence will always be paths of love. The path of providence that took Jesus along the “via Dolorosa” (the sorrowful way) to Golgotha was the way of love. Thorny and painful, to the extreme, though it was.
If we recognize that: 1) “God is light and in Him is no darkness at all” (1 John 5:7), and 2) that “Thou [LORD] art good, and doest good” (Psa 119:68), and 3) that “God is love” and “love is of God” (1 John 4:7-8), this is an essential foundation for an appreciation of God and His wonderful working in your life and mine.
Hyderabad Ecclesia, India