Praying Glorifies God

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Praying Glorifies God

James R. Aist

“Let us then come with confidence to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” (Hebrews 4:16)

In an earlier article, I presented biblical evidence for the understanding that the main reason God created mankind, and, thus, the reason for our existence, is to glorify God (click HERE). In this article, I will argue that the very act of praying, regardless of the outcome, glorifies God, and therefore, it helps us to fulfill the main purpose for which God created us.

In evangelical Christianity, we are used to the idea that we glorify God by our singing, preaching, serving and even our giving. But, in my experience, bringing our concerns, our cares and our needs to Him in prayer seems to have been relegated to more of a self-serving exercise, where any glory given to God depends on the answers, if any, to our prayers. Such an attitude can prevent us from praying, or, worse still, it can lead us to put God on trial, as it were, where we, in effect, demand that God give us an explanation for unwanted outcomes, or else! But God has shown me a better way to approach His throne of grace, an attitude that will always give Him glory, regardless of His response. I believe that this better way, when embraced and employed, will allay the fear of unanswered prayer that so easily can become a roadblock to praying at all.

This better way is really very simple, albeit not necessarily easy. Start with acknowledging that God is on His throne in heaven and does whatever He pleases (Psalm 115:3). The corollary to this fact is that you, on the other hand, are not God. And, God is still God regardless of the outcome of your prayer. These three things we must settle in our hearts, before approaching Him for help. Then, be prepared to accept and make peace with the outcome of your request as the best outcome possible, regardless of how it stacks up against your personal opinion or desire. Trust that God always has a good reason for His response to your request, and remember that He doesn’t owe you an explanation if you don’t like it! “Where is the glory in that?”, you might ask. Well, the glory is in the act of going to God for help, thus acknowledging both who He is and His great and everlasting love for us. The mere act of praying to God glorifies Him by acknowledging who He is, and it fulfills the very purpose for which He created us! There is no such thing as a fruitless prayer!

Finally, in this context, I want to leave you with a thought to mull over. Could it be that maybe, just maybe, praying is ultimately more about God than it is about us. If the act of praying, regardless of the outcome, glorifies God, and if that, in turn, fulfills our primary purpose for existing, then what outcome could possibly be more important than that?

(To find more of my articles with a biblical theme, click HERE)

The Only Love That Can Fully Satisfy

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The Only Love That Can Fully Satisfy

James R. Aist

“Consider how much love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God.” (1 John 3:1)

Before I jump into this subject with both feet, it is important to first bring to mind just who this God of the Bible really is. Perhaps you have never really taken to heart just how authoritative, powerful and supreme God is. The God of the Bible is often referred to as “God Most High” or “Most High God” (e.g., Genesis 14:22 and Hebrews 7:1). Psalm 97:9 declares, “For You, O Lord, are Most High above all the earth; You are exalted far above all gods.” Thus we derive the Christian doctrine of the “sovereignty” of God, His absolute rule and reign over all of His creation, including the affairs of men. Nothing happens that He did not either do Himself or allow to be done. There is no higher authority than the God of the Bible, He always gets it right the first time, and nothing is impossible for Him (Luke 1:37). His opinions trump the opinions of mere mortal men – and the devil – every time.

That said, when God created Adam and Eve, there was, I believe, a built-in need for this creator-God to approve of them. They were, after all, the only created beings who God made in the image and likeness of Himself (Genesis 1:26). And, because of the infinite greatness of God, their “parent-child” relationship, if you will, was far more highly valued and essential than even the best parent-child relationships we can experience with each other. I reckon that Adam and Eve became accustomed to the unqualified approval that they experienced as God walked with them in the cool of the day (Genesis 3:8). And, ever since they forfeited this intimate and unchanging approval by lusting after the knowledge of good and evil, mankind has longed for God’s approval to be restored. However, our attempts to replace this divine approval by such things as wealth, fame and/or power, or even human relationships, are all in vain, because all of these fall short, leaving us with a built-in, inner longing for the infallible approval that only God can satisfy.

I have learned over the years that a person has to know someone to really love them. A newborn baby can soak up the personal attention of its mother and respond affectionately when its mother fulfills its basic needs for breast milk and a sense of security. But that isn’t really love, but a positive response to having its needs met. The baby knows nothing of the mother’s character and integrity. It doesn’t know what kind of person its mother is. It is not even aware of the degree to which the mother is committed to its well being. So, the mother may assume that the baby loves her with a perfect love, since the baby has no basis for judging her. But, as the baby grows and develops and gets to really know its mother as a person – both the “good” and the “bad” – the capacity for real love develops, and so does the capacity for judgment. When the child has grown enough to love its mother despite her perceived flaws and weaknesses, then real love has made its debut. The love of God toward us is like that. Only God knows us completely; He knows everything about us, good and bad (Psalm 139:14), yet He still loves us. Why is that?

Why does God love us?

Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness – Genesis 1:26. God loves us because we are uniquely made in His image and likeness. We may not know for sure just what that “looks like”, but we do know that God does not have that kind of relationship with any other of His created beings, including even the angels!

You made him a little lower than the angels; You crowned him with glory and honor, and set him over the works of Your hands. – Hebrews 2:7. Again, we don’t know for sure in what ways we were created a little lower than the angels, but we do know that we are the pinnacle of His creative juices manifested during the six days of creation (Genesis 2:4-23). And, we know that God must have a very high regard for us in order for Him to crown us with glory and honor and set us over the works of His hands!

We are the only earthly beings created to be able to know God and to glorify Him intentionally (click HERE). This fact makes us unique in our ability to freely love and sincerely glorify God.

We were created to glorify God (click HERE). There is no greater calling than to glorify the God of the Bible!

In short, God created us to be capable of loving Him and worthy of His divine love! Therefore, He loves us.

How great is God’s love for us?

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life. – John 3:16. Greater love has no man than this: that a man lay down his life for his friends. – John 15:13.  But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. – Romans 5:8. There is no greater love than God’s love for us. God said so, and He proved it!

…that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth and length and depth and height, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. – Ephesians 3:17-19. The love of God for us is so unimaginably massive that it must be experienced to be fully capable of satisfying our hunger for divine approval.

Consider how much love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God. – 1 John 3:1. Your biological children are related to you in unique and precious ways, too numerous to quantify and too special to measure. Ponder that for a moment, and then let it sink in that the God who created the Universe has declared us who follow Jesus to be His spiritual children, children of God, no less!

How secure is God’s love for us?

For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, neither angels nor principalities nor powers, neither things present nor things to come, neither height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. – Romans 8:38-39. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. – Romans 8:35, 37. Unlike any merely human relationship, our relationship with God through faith in Jesus Christ is guaranteed, by God Himself, to never fail, not ever. Now that is absolute, fully trustworthy security!

How authoritative is God’s love for us?

God is not a man, that He should lie, nor a son of man, that He should repent. Has He spoken, and will He not do it? Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good? – Numbers 23:19. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts. – Isaiah 55:9. What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? – Romans 8:31. God, and only God, has the authority and the power to declare those who believe in Jesus to be the righteousness of God in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:21) and, therefore, worthy of His divine and everlasting love!

Whose opinion will you believe?

What, then, is the “take home” message in all of this? Simply put, if you have put your faith and trust in Jesus, then don’t believe the opinion of the devil when you are experiencing doubts about God’s love for you. His love for you is the only love that can fully satisfy. Believe God’s opinion of you, not the opinion of the devil, for “When he lies, he speaks from his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies.” (John 8:44).

(To read more of my articles with a biblical theme, click HERE)

The “Knowledge of Good and Evil” Ruined Everything!

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The “Knowledge of Good and Evil” Ruined Everything!

James R. Aist

“…you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” (Genesis 3:5)

For the longest time, I read right through Genesis 3:1-7 not really understanding what the tree of knowledge of good and evil was about. After all, isn’t it essential for us to know what is good and what is evil in order to obey God?  So what is it about us knowing good and evil that upset God so much that He cast Adam and Eve out of the Garden of Eden for it? Then one day, I read in a book an explanation of it that made all kinds of sense to me. And, it truly does explain a lot!

Let’s begin by reproducing Genesis 3:1-7 here: Now the serpent was more subtle than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said to the woman, “Has God said, ‘You shall not eat of any tree of the garden’?” And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit from the trees of the garden; but from the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God has said, ‘You will not eat of it, nor will you touch it, or else you will die.’ ” Then the serpent said to the woman, “You surely will not die! For God knows that on the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” When the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasing to the eyes and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate; and she gave to her husband with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. So they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.

Next, let’s unpack this passage, point by point, and “Fact Check” each claim:

Claim # 1: Now the serpent was more subtle than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. True. This claim that Satan uses subtlety to entice his victims is confirmed elsewhere in the Bible (e.g., 2 Corinthians 11:14, Ephesians 6:11 and Revelation 12:9);

Claim # 2: And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit from the trees of the garden; but from the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God has said, ‘You will not eat of it, nor will you touch it, or else you will die.’ ” True. In Genesis 2: 16-17, God gives this very same instruction to Adam, before Eve was created. They have no excuse;

Claim # 3: “You surely will not die! False. Satan is lying here, in order to set Eve up for the accusation against God that follows;

Claim # 4: “…God knows that on the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened…” True. Satan begins with the truth, in order to make the lie that follows more easy for Eve to accept as being also true, but he doesn’t tell her the whole truth;

Claim # 5: “…you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” Patently False and not really True! Herein lies (pun intended) the subtle deception. Satan himself was driven by his ambition to be like God (Isaiah 14:14), so he tempts Eve with the same ambition. But, in reality, no created thing can ever be like its creator; not Satan, not Eve. (I doubt that Eve was aware of that fact.) Then, he says she will become aware of good and evil, like God is, and she did (Genesis 3:22). Well, sort of. God’s awareness of good and evil included His authoritative determination of what actually is good and what actually is evil, whereas Eve’s awareness of good and evil was nothing more than her personal opinion, without any authority to actually determine what is right and what is wrong. In other words, her believing that she had been given the last say as to what is right and what is wrong was nothing more than a subtle delusion. Moreover, now that she was aware of good and evil, she was responsible to God for honoring His moral code. Ouch!

To summarize: Satan lured Eve into the delusion that, if she would eat of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, she would not only become aware that there is good and evil in the world, but that she would also, by the same act, commandeer from God the right and the authority to determine what actually is right and what actually is wrong. That is the delusion that ruined everything!

So, “How has that delusion ruined everything?”, you might ask. Well, in a nutshell, this delusion is at the heart of every manifestation of mankind’s rebellion against God (i.e., sin), from the Garden of Eden until now; this delusion that it is OK for every man to do what is right in his own eyes (cf., Judges 21:25); this delusion that there is no “higher moral authority” to which we will be held accountable; this delusion with which every human being is born, the “sin nature” that we all have inherited, somehow, from Adam; this delusion that has caused the whole creation to groan and travail in pain together until now (Romans 8:22).

All was “very good”  between God and man in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 1:31) until Adam and Eve believed a lie of the devil; namely, that they could usurp God’s moral authority to determine what is good and what is evil. That’s when the trouble began. But, “Whatever the Lord pleases, He does in heaven and on earth…” (Psalm 135:6). In the fullness of time, He will end all rebellion against His absolute moral authority and reign on the earth in righteousness and peace, forever. The good news for mankind is that all who accept Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior will rule and reign with Him. Will you be there?

(To read more of my articles with a biblical theme, click HERE)