Infinite Distance

When we think of God’s holiness, the first thought that usually comes to mind is moral purity.  This is certainly an important aspect of it, as we shall see.  But when the seraphs called out, “Holy, holy, holy,” they meant something far more profound and fundamental.  The Hebrew word for holy is qadosh, which generally means, “cut off,” or “separate.”  When used of God, the word expresses the idea of separateness or “otherness.”  God is wholly “other” from all His creation, from angels, from men, and especially from sinful man.  He is absolutely distinct from all his creatures and is infinitely exalted above them in incomprehensible glory and majesty.  R. C. Sproul uses the word transcendence to describe this holiness:  “When we speak of the transcendence of God we are talking about that sense in which God is above and beyond us.  It tries to get at His supreme and altogether greatness…Transcendence describes God in His consuming majesty, His exalted loftiness.  It points to the infinite distance that separates Him from every creature…”  — Jerry Bridges, The Joy of Fearing God, pg. 66-67

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Be Still and Listen

I never understand people that force having their way.  It’s always so much better to wait quietly, listen to God and trust in His way and timing.  Patience and kindness to others, especially when we disagree, is always best.

Whenever God gives a vision to a Christian, it is as if He puts him in “the shadow of His hand” (Isaiah 49:2).  The saint’s duty is to be still and listen.  There is a darkness that comes from too much light–that is the time to listen.  The story of Abram and Hagar in Genesis 16 is an excellent example of listening to so-called good advice during a time of darkness, rather than waiting for God to send the light.  When God gives you a vision and darkness follows, wait.  God will bring the vision He has given you to reality in your life if you will wait on His timing.  Never try to help God fulfill His word.  Abram went through thirteen years of silence, but in those years all his self-sufficiency was destroyed.  He got past the point of relying on his own common sense.  Those years of silence were a time of discipline, not a period of God’s displeasure.  There’s never any need to pretend that your life is filled with joy and confidence; just wait upon God and be grounded in Him.  (see Isaiah 50:10-11)  — Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest

Special Gift

One Christmas my wife gave me a book I had wanted for a long time.  It was a rather obscure book on N. C. Wyeth.  When I discovered it (she had tried to hide it in the wardrobe) I was surprised and happy.  I didn’t hug the book, however, and give it a big sloppy kiss.  No, I dropped the book and embraced her, the one who had given such a special gift.  — Michael Card, Joy in the Journey

Miraculous

A group from our church was visiting a rescue mission when something miraculous happened to me.  One of our group was spending time with an elderly man who bore all the classic signs of the street alcoholic.  The Lord spoke to me in a way I had never experienced.  As I watched our team member open himself up to this man, he disappeared and Christ became visible.  And as the alcoholic man received the lovingkindness of my friend, he too began to disappear, and take on the image of Christ, who was present in his pain and need.  — Michael Card, Joy in the Journey

No Miracle

Those who passed by hurled insults at Him, shaking their heads and saying, “You who are going to destroy the temple and build it in three days, save yourself!  Come down from the cross, if you are the Son of God!”  — Matthew 27:39-40

If ever a moment demanded a miracle, it was this moment.  The crowds are clamoring and calling out for it.  So are the two thieves crucified on either side of Jesus.  Above all, it would seem that common sense demands it.  Now is the moment.  Now is the time to show them your miraculous power!  In the course of Jesus’ misunderstood life, this is the moment He is most misunderstood.  The crowd still clamors for miracles.  But He did not come to give them miracles; He came to give them Himself.  And on the cross He is doing precisely that.  The cross reveals to us that Jesus’ greatest miracle was His refusal at that moment to perform a miracle at all.  –Michael Card, Joy in the Journey

Overcoming

This seems a cheerful world, Donatus, when I view it from this fair garden…But if I climbed some great mountain and looked out…you know very well what I would see; brigands on the high road, pirates on the seas, in the amphitheaters men murdered to please the applauding crowds…Yet in the midst of it, I have found a quiet and holy people…they are despised and persecuted, but they care not.  They have overcome the world.  These people, Donatus, are Christians.  –St. Cyprian writing to his friend, Donatus, in the 3rd century

Three Questions and Three Answers

Did not the Christ have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?  –Luke 24:26

Michael Card, a Christian musician and author, has some amazing thoughts about the crucifixion.  This very articulate writer has 37 albums, 27 books, and over 19 #1 hits.  And yet his goal in life has always been to “simply and quietly teach the Bible.”  I love his writing; it’s powerful in his unique, close relationship with our Lord.  He wrote the delightful book, Joy in the Journey, from which the following quotes came as he explained his song-writing process for one piece in particular.  These words are profound, in my opinion.

The trappings of the crucifixion had always puzzled me.  Why was it necessary that a close friend betray Jesus?  Why the crown of thorns, that grim tribute to humor?  Why the cross–wasn’t there some other way for him to die?  I had been playing with those three questions, trying to make them sound lyrical, in other words trying to make them sound pretty.  But they aren’t pretty questions.

I had finished three verses of a song incorporating the questions.  I had planned to write one chorus which would answer all three.  That proved to be as impossible as the questions themselves.  So I did the only thing a committed seeker of the Truth could do:  I gave up and put them away in a drawer!

Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.  –Hebrews 12:2

Weeks after I gave up and put away my three song verses, I was awakened in the night with three separate choruses going through my mind, something that had never happened before and has never happened since.  To my trilogy of vain, cynical questions the Lord gave three unexpected answers:

Why did it have to be a friend?  Because only a friend comes close enough to cause such pain.

Why the thorny crown?  Because  in this life, the only kind of crown the world would give such a Lover is a crown of thorns.

Why did it have to be a cross?  Because the cross is the place for a thief.  And Jesus had come to steal the world’s heart away.

Now each time I listen to the song, I hear two separate voices:  my own pessimistic voice asking the meaningless why questions, and another gentler Voice speaking the wonderful answers.  –Michael Card