Divine Creativity

high thoughtsPersonal Worship Lesson 9

By Claudine Lehman

In order to have victory in our lives in the midst of trials and crisis—good times and bad—we must get our eyes off of others and onto the King of Kings.

When we look around at each other and our circumstances, we find ourselves comparing, asking questions, being judgmental and all this will cloud our thinking. We find ourselves asking: “Why is she receiving so many blessings and I’m not?” “How come God answered her prayer and not mine?” “Why was her child healed and mine is still sick and suffering?” “How come some families breeze through life and we struggle?”

This kind of thinking will always take our attention off the Main Thing.

Nobody goes through life without hurts and troubles. It may appear that way sometimes, but it’s not true. Everyone hurts somewhere—some time—either in a major way or in small annoying ways. (And even that is relative, isn’t it?)

God is absolutely creative in His dealings with these hurts and troubles—these crisis times in our lives. He never treats two people the same. We often say, “I know how you feel.” Well, yes and no. We are all different. How I feel and react in times of crisis will be different from the way you do.

We must remember His ways are not our ways; His thoughts are higher than ours. [Isaiah 55:8-9] His ways are never the same as our ways, because WE DON’T THINK LIKE GOD! His thoughts and motives are always higher than ours, and because his motives are pure and right, we may not always comprehend the meaning of His actions.

Nowhere in Scripture does He command us to understand Him. Instead, He commands us to trust Him. There is a tremendous difference between understanding and trusting. (I don’t understand how my car works, but I trust it to start when I turn the key.)

Let’s take some time to consider this Divine Creativity. In Numbers 12, when Miriam and Aaron began to grumble and complain about Moses—their God-appointed leader—God’s anger burned against them and when the cloud lifted from above the Tent, there stood Miriam—leprous like snow. Later, when the children of Israel were opposing Moses, the ground opened up and swallowed them. Same sin, two very different consequences.

In 2 Kings 20, King Hezekiah becomes sick, and the Lord sends Isaiah the prophet to tell him to put his affairs in order because he will not recover. Yet, when Hezekiah prays, God listens and grants him 15 more years of life. Isaiah tells the king to put a poultice of figs on his boil, and he is healed. But when Mary and Martha are facing a family crisis when their brother falls ill, their pleas for help to their friend Jesus are seemingly ignored. He allows Lazarus to die so He can reveal His power by raising Lazarus from the grave later.

In Acts 5, when Ananias and Sapphira lied to God and the other believers, God struck them dead. Does He always deal with lying that way? No, but He did here.

How many times was Paul put in prison only to be delivered in numerous ways? God shook the gates of one prison open and had an angel lead him out of another. Yet when John the Baptist was imprisoned, he stayed there until he was beheaded.

Same God . . . different actions. Infinite creativity.

His motives are high and lofty and most often above our understanding. We can go back into the Old Testament and see the way God shut the lions’ mouths for Daniel, but history also records thousands of Christian martyrs God did not save from the lions.

Look at how God protected Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego from the fire, yet He allowed many Christians to be burned at the stake. He saved Jonah from the sea, but other believers have drowned.

Take a moment to read through Hebrews 11. As you read, be amazed at the creative ways God dealt with His own. In verse 5 we read that Enoch was translated. So was Elijah. God simply took them home. What a wonderful way to go, but realistically, most of us will die. And every death is different.

Consider the contrast in the following passages. Verses 33-35 are full of triumph. Through Christ, believers “subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, waxed valiant in fight, turned to flight the arms of the aliens . . . received their dead to life again.” WOW—Delivered Believers!

But then in verses 36-37 we find “some were tortured . . . had trials of cruel mockings and scourgings . . . bonds and imprisonment . . . were stoned . . . sawn asunder . . . tempted . . . slain with the sword . . . wandered about in sheepskins and goat skins . . . being destitute, afflicted, tormented. . . .” Yes. Undelivered believers as well.

The point of this is ALL believers—delivered or undelivered— have the same Sovereign God. He simply uses each life in entirely different ways.

Let’s read on.  Hebrews 12: 1-3 are key verses. We are told to “look unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith” –not circumstances, not each other, but Jesus— “who for the joy that was set before Him endured (submitted to) the cross.” Jesus didn’t enjoy the cross—He endured it.

He despised (scorned) the shame of the cross. What was He focusing on? The future ultimate plan of God where Jesus is “set down at the right hand of the throne of God.” We are told to “consider Him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”

If Jesus endured, we can endure. The object of our trust must be Christ Himself, not life. Situations in life often deteriorate; relationships fray; and sickness may lead to death.

Crisis may follow crisis, but God is constant. When He enters a crisis, He comes with changing power, but it is usually not the crisis that changes. It is us.

He wants to make us stable, like Him—firm in faith, unmovable in trial—regardless of the circumstances involved.

So I ask again . . . who is this God we are trying to serve? And my answer is the same as it was three weeks ago. He has to be the God of the Scriptures, not the God of our design and understanding.

He is infinite and great, the King of the Universe and the Lord of history who became accessible to the world through Jesus Christ. When I accepted Him as my Lord and Savior, He became personal to me. He took control of my life, entering every circumstance, treating me uniquely and lovingly.

I am special to Him. He fashioned me when I was still in my mother’s womb. He says He has every hair on my head numbered. He cares about my problems.

But I must always remember God does not exist to satisfy my whims. Any good that comes to me as a Christian is a by-product of my salvation, not its end. I exist for the Lord, in life’s ease and its trials. I am not my own; He owns me. I count it a privilege to serve the living Christ and rest in full assurance that His way for me is perfect whether I understand it or not.

My crises are in His hands and there they become opportunities.

Our part is to focus on Him . . . to go hard after pursuing Jesus.

Several years ago in our study of Colossians as a church, Bryan Clark challenged us with these words:

“Could you say this past week that your life was characterized by an all-out, passionate, diligent pursuit of Jesus like one pursues a lover? Would you say that it is evident that you believe Jesus is sufficient to meet your every need? If you believed that with all your heart of hearts, you would go after Him with every fiber of your being.”

And that is what this class is all about. It’s all about each one of you, personally, in your heart of hearts, passionately and intentionally, seeking to know Jesus and the character of God. This doesn’t happen by listening to more teachers, preachers or friends. It doesn’t come from great books or videos or messages on tape. It probably won’t even happen in support groups, or Bible classes or exciting retreats.

The amazing truth is He wants to meet you personally right where you are, and He wants to teach you in His own unique and creative way—even through your hurts, troubles and crises.

So put all other books, tapes and helps aside—take up His precious Word and ask Him to teach you what you need to know.

“Never let good books take the place of the Bible. Drink from the Well, not from the streams that flow from the Well.” –Amy Carmichael

Discussion Question

When we say God moves “creatively” in our lives, what do we mean? Is this a threat or a comfort to you?

Homework

Continue to work through some more attributes of God.

God is ALL-KNOWING! Job 34:21; Psalm 33:13-15; 94:9-11; Isaiah 40:13-14, 27-28; 46:9-10; Matthew 6:8

God is ALL-SUFFICIENT! Exodus 3:14; Job 35:5-7; Isaiah 40:18, 28-31; 44:6; Jeremiah 10:10; John 5:26; Acts 17:24-25

God is UNSEARCHABLE! Deuteronomy 29:29; Job 5:8-9; Psalm 92:5; 145:3; Isaiah 55:8-9; Romans 11:33; 1 Corinthians 2:10-11

God is UNIQUE! Exodus 15:11; 2 Samuel 7:20-22; 1 Kings 8:23; Isaiah 40:18-22; 43:11; 44:6-8; Mark 12:32

God is LOVE! John 3:16; 14:21-23; Romans 5:8; Ephesians 2:4-5; 2 Thessalonians 2:16; Hebrews 12:6; 1 Peter 3:18; 1 John 3:16; 4:10

Absolute God

credits: David Sedlmayer/flickr.com

credits: David Sedlmayer/flickr.com

I’m not going to lie. The last two months have been rough. Seems as if each week has brought news of another tragedy affecting our community . . . our church family . . . our friends. I don’t know about you, but I’m beginning to feel a little shell-shocked, wondering when and where the next bomb will drop.

That’s why I love these words from Claudine’s last lesson:

“You see, it really doesn’t matter who or what causes the tragedies of life. What matters is what God intends to do with those tragedies.When you and I belong to the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, what happens in our lives matters less than how God uses what happens in our lives. Our responsibility as a child of His is to TRUST HIM—even when the way seems dark. God’s way is always perfect.

BUT we cannot trust what we do not know. That’s why our quest—to know the character and heart of God—is so very crucial.”

So how’s it going—this quest to know the character and heart of God? Have you been doing the homework? Working through the list of attributes?  Reading God’s Word with these questions in mind?—“What does this passage tell me about the heart of God? What pleases Him? What displeases Him?”

Before we continue with the last two lessons of this class, I’d like to spend our time today discussing the homework. I’ll take you through my thought process as I worked my way through an attribute of God, and then at the end, I hope some of you will share with us some of the things you have learned from your homework over the past few weeks.

When I looked at that first attribute of God—God is ABSOLUTE—I’ll admit my first question was “What does that even mean?” Of course, I know what the word absolute means. Absolutely! I use it all the time. I say things like “that’s the absolute truth” or “I absolutely, positively agree.”

But when it comes to writing a definition of the word, things become a bit more muddied. In my mind, absolute means the highest . . . the most . . . the final degree of something. I use it as a qualifier. So when I see the words “God is Absolute,” I immediately think, “Absolute what?” Absolute truth? Absolute God? Absolute . . . everything?

I decided to try to define the word through the context of the scriptures we were given before heading to Webster’s for an answer and here’s what I found. The word absolute was not even used in any of those passages.

Okay. No problem. As a former English teacher, these are the types of word puzzles I love. I decided to infer the meaning of absolute from what each passage told me about God.

[I like to use several translations when I look at scripture to catch the differing nuances in the words they use. For this study I used the New American Standard Bible (NASB), The New Living Translation (NLT) and the Message (MSG). If you are doing your study online, Bible Gateway is a great tool because it allows you to place various translations side by side.]

Here are a few of the notes I jotted down about each of the passages:

  • Job 42: 1-3—God can do anything He wants; no one can thwart or upset or stop His plans.
  • Psalm 145: 11-13—God’s glory, power, majesty and authority are everlasting; He will never get voted out of office.
  • Isaiah 44:6—He is the only God there is; He’s the first, the last, the only.
  • Daniel 2:20-21—He has all the power, the wisdom and the authority. If anyone else has wisdom, power and authority, it comes from Him and Him alone.
  • Romans 14:11—He is the only God and there will come a day when everyone will acknowledge that.
  • 1 Timothy 6:15-16—He is the only God, the King of all kings, the Lord of all lords. He alone can overcome death; He has all power and dominion forever. No one can rule Him.

Then, I turned to Webster’s Dictionary for its definition of the word and this is what I found:

ab·so·lute

adjective \ˈab-sə-ˌlüt, ˌab-sə-ˈ\

: complete and total

: not limited in any way

: having unlimited power

Exactly. My original muddied definition only included the first part of the equation, but my study of the scriptures completed the picture. God is total and complete God, unlimited and all powerful. He is ABSOLUTE!

So what do I take away from all of this? First of all, it’s important not to narrow God to just one of His attributes. Knowing He has unlimited power would be terrifying if we didn’t also know He is GOOD. Knowing His plans cannot be thwarted is only comforting when we also know His plans for us are to give us a future and a hope.

Second, God wants to be known. I may go into my study of Him with muddied definitions and incomplete thoughts, but His Spirit can and will bring clarity. I hope each of you are taking the time, putting in the effort to know Him better. It’s worth it!

Discussion Question

What have you learned about God’s character that gives you a new perspective on Who God Is? Is there a word or definition you understand more clearly now that you’ve studied His Word?

Homework

Let’s continue working through some attributes of God

God is UNSELFISH! Psalm 34:10; 84:11; 103; Matthew 11:28; Romans 5:16-18; 6:23; 8:32.

God is JEALOUS! Exodus 20:5-7; 34:12-16; Deuteronomy 32:15-18; Joshua 24:19; Isaiah 31:1-3; Nahum 1:1-8.

God is PATIENT! Numbers 14:18; Isaiah 30:18; Joel 2:13; Romans 15:4-6; 1 Corinthians 13:4-5; Hebrews 10:36; 11 Peter 3:9; Habakkuk 2:3-4

God is PROVIDING! Genesis 49:24-25; Leviticus 25:20-22; 1 Samuel 2:7-8; 1 Chronicles 29:12-14; Psalm 23:1-7; Acts 14:16-17

God is AWE-INSPIRING! Exodus 15:11; Nehemiah 1:5; Psalm 33:8-12; 89:6-7; Ecclesiastes 3:14; Jeremiah 10:6-7; Hebrews 12:28-29

Tend the Fire

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