For the past 4 to 5 months I’ve been working on a book to help followers of Jesus get to know Him better. The content of the book is based on things I’ve written on this website and the Fadingman blog. The book is called Seeing Jesus – A Disciple’s Perspective. It’s available for Kindle, and within a week (hopefully) it should be available in paperback through Amazon.com, but you can get the Kindle version right now by clicking on the cover image to the left.
I originally intended, back in August of last year, to put together a book based solely on the contents of the Fadingman blog. But I found I had some other writings that fit into the theme of following Jesus, so I included them also.
Click here to read more about the book.
… But according to your hardness and unrepentant heart you are treasuring up for yourself wrath in the day of wrath, revelation, and of the righteous judgment of God…
– Romans 2:5
This verse reminds me of the reality TV show Hoarders. The show is about people who have compulsions to collect so many things (boxes of stuff, animals, etc) that their houses become uninhabitable. At best they might have pathways through their homes a few inches wide to get around.
The most shocking part of the series is seeing the blindness of these people to their problems. They are only slightly aware that their compulsion has made life unmanageable, not only for themselves but for their loved ones and neighbors. Their denial makes it difficult to impossible for them to find help.
Isn’t this a perfect picture of our natural selves in relation to sin? Apart from the grace of God, we all have a sin hoarding problem. And we don’t realize that this is also a wrath hoarding problem. Unless we get supernatural help, we will eventually reap what we sow at the final judgment.
Only God has the solution for our problem. Only He can open our eyes for us to see what we have been doing to ourselves. Only Jesus can save us from the otherwise sure wrath that is to fall on us.
We worship an all-powerful God. Nothing can stop or hinder Him from doing whatever He wants. Practically speaking (and as far as our situations and circumstances are concerned), nothing is impossible with God.
It is our awareness of this fact, joined with our knowledge of His love for us, that allows us to go to Him with our worries and concerns for the ‘impossible’ situations in our lives, knowing that He can and does deliver us out of these situations. As we become more aware of how unlimited our God is, our faith increases.
And yet, there are some things that God does not do… even that He cannot do. These are not limitations from outside of Himself; they all center on who He is: His character and His nature. God cannot and will not violate who He is. Amazingly, our awareness of God’s ‘limitations’ also helps to increase our faith.
Several years ago, I posted a list of things that God doesn’t do on the Michael Card forum. Here’s a reprint of that list. You’re welcome to add to it.
What God Doesn’t Do
- Think or act like me (Isaiah 55:8-9, Psalm 50:21)
- Give His glory to another (Isaiah 42:8)
- Forgive the sin of speaking evil of the Holy Spirit (Luke 12:10)
- Hear my prayer if I harbor iniquity in my heart (Psalm 66:18, John 9:31)
- Forgive me if I don’t forgive my brother (Matthew 6:15)
- Allow His word to return void (Isaiah 55:11)
- Start something without finishing it (Philippians 1:6).
- Do things maliciously (purposely create trouble for someone unjustly)
- Tempt me (James 1:13)
- Forget His covenant
- Renege on His promises
- Keep His anger forever (i.e. hold a grudge)
- Sleep (Psalm 121:4)
- Blink (i.e. make mistakes)
- Fail to come through for me when I trust Him to save me (Romans 10:11)
- Do things on a whim (randomly)
- Do things half-way or half-heartedly (Philippians 1:6)
- Break the bruised reed or quench the smoldering wick (Matthew 12:20)
- Think of people in terms of statistics (He’s concerned about individuals, Luke 15)
- Think in terms of probabilities (…no such thing as chance)
- Give grudgingly (James 1:5)
- Treat me as my sins deserve, see or even remember my sins (Hebrews 10:17)
- Condemn me (Romans 8:1, … thank You, Jesus!!!)
- Cease loving me
- Despise the prayer of the needy (Psa. 102:17)
- …including those in need of wisdom (James 1:5)
- …or despise the sacrifices of a broken spirit and heart (Psa. 51:17)
- Abandon me as an orphan (John 14:18 – I’ve always thought of orphans as children without parents, but Jesus, our spiritual big Brother, said this. He doesn’t abandon us either.)
What else does God not do?
The voice of the LORD is over the waters;
the God of glory thunders,
the LORD, over many waters.
The voice of the LORD is powerful;
the voice of the LORD is full of majesty.
The voice of the LORD breaks the cedars;
the LORD breaks the cedars of Lebanon.
He makes Lebanon to skip like a calf,
and Sirion like a young wild ox.
The voice of the LORD flashes forth flames of fire.
The voice of the LORD shakes the wilderness;
the LORD shakes the wilderness of Kadesh.
The voice of the LORD makes the deer give birth
and strips the forests bare,
and in his temple all cry, “Glory!”
– Psalm 29:3-9
The voice of the Lord certainly impressed this Old Testament writer. But what about the voice of the Lord in the New Testament? What did they have to say?
The voice of the Lord…
… is worth listening to (Luke 10:39)
… blesses the hearers (Luke 11:38)
… cleanses (John 15:3)
… casts out demons (Matthew 8:16)
… heals the sick (Matthew 8:13)
… raises the dead (John 11:43-44)
… calms the sea (Mark 4:39)
… withers the fig tree (Matthew 21:19)
… astonishes with power (Luke 4:32)
… changes fear to faith (Mark 5:36, John 8:30)
… forgives sins (Mark 2:5)
… gives life (Luke 4:4, John 6:63,68)
… intercedes for us (John 17)
… does not pass away (Matthew 24:35)
Know that Yahweh, he is God. It is he who has made us, and we are his. We are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.
– Psalm 100:3 (WEB)
Through out the Bible, God’s people are referred to as sheep. But why sheep? Why not some other animal like horses, oxen or donkeys?
We think about the nature of sheep, how wayward they are. They tend to get into trouble and need the constant care of a shepherd to protect or rescue them. Of course, other animals can get into trouble, too. Personally, I think the stubborness of a donkey would make it a good human representative. But there is another trait that I think explains why we’re called sheep.
Oxen and donkeys are working animals, used to plow fields, grind grain, and carry loads. Sheep are not working animals. You won’t find sheep under a yoke pulling a plow, or grinding grain. People don’t ride sheep. They can do nothing to earn favor with their owners. They grow wool, but that takes no effort on their part. When you think about it, wool is more a product of the good care that the shepherd provides. The shepherd works to lead the sheep to water and good pasture. All the sheep do is follow the shepherd and eat grass.
How does this help your understanding of being called a sheep?
Update: I noticed that another analogy of God’s people is similar in this regard. A vine is also not used for work (Ezekiel 15:1-8).
Lately I’ve thought about the first half of Paul’s epistle to the Romans, and how the development of Paul’s argument seems to parallel the progress of our walk with Jesus. Paul begins with describing the dire state of the unbeliever (chapters 1-3), then moves on to salvation (chapters 3-5), then to sanctification (chapters 6-8). Paul’s intention is that each one of us progress in life through to chapter 8; that we don’t get stuck in some earlier chapter (i.e. be satisfied with just being saved, or even be satisfied without salvation).
If you’re like most Christians, you probably find living a righteous, God-honoring life to be a difficult, if not impossible, task. You may be in the habit of condemning yourself for your lack of victory over sin. You may even have given up trying. If so, my latest writing, Victory Over Sin, was written to help you understand that, just as salvation is not by works, neither is sanctification by works. God does the work.
As you can see, I’ve changed the website again. The main URL is still the same, but now I’m running under WordPress rather than my half-baked home-brew kludge. This will allow me to easily organize and maintain the site and concentrate more on posting.
Virtually all of the old material (over 1.3 megabytes) has been transfered to the new site and is listed on the right side of this page. Most of the HTML has been cleaned up, but some pages still need work (notably the Discipleship Class notes). There are also some broken links to outside sites that need fixing. If you notice any glitches, just let me know.
I am also in the final stages of self-publishing my book, Seeing Jesus – A Disciple’s Perspective. I’m just waiting for the final proofreader’s inputs, then I’ll publish it through Amazon’s CreateSpace website.