Who is like you, O LORD, among the gods?

   Who is like you, majestic in holiness,

   awesome in glorious deeds, doing wonders?

Exodus 15: 11 

Sometimes I just need to close my eyes and open my inner being in order to allow all that is the Lord to come flooding deep into my mind, heart, and soul. It does seem that all of us require these times of reflection, for otherwise, life is just too busy and we are far too distracted to even notice what God has been about along the path of our traveling. God had certainly been active and present during the time just before Moses and the Israelites sang this stanza from their great song of thanksgiving to God for saving them from the Egyptian army. We can look at this scene and quickly recognize the fact that it is relatively easy to give thanks to God when He has done something spectacular such as parting a large body of water and then closing it up again to swallow up the angry forces that are seeking one’s own destruction. Expressing appreciation for God in those circumstances is no problem at all, but those sorts of events don’t come along very often. So, we need to find other points along the way wherein we stop and reflect on the wonder, the majesty, the loving care, and the provision of the Lord in our lives. These are the moments when we reflect upon God’s perfect holiness.

God does not do what He does for the reasons that motivate most of us. God acts out of the depths of His character, and the words and deeds that spring forth from there are carried out as a full expression of His nature. The Lord genuinely loves His creation in ways that we struggle to begin to comprehend. He cares about the way that our lives go, and He enters into the course of affairs in our world in a manner that expresses that care, concern, and desire for us to flourish in this life. The rub for people often comes from the fact that God’s concept of flourishing is quite different than is ours. We think in terms of comfort, wealth, health, and position or power when we describe what it means to be successful in life. The Lord looks to our souls and desires for us to be people who love Him, seek after His presence in the ordinary spaces of our lives, and who take a similar attitude of loving care and understanding grace with others that we encounter during our days. God never promises us that we have wealth, health, or an easy journey through life; instead, He promises to us that He will never leave us in this life and that we will be with Him in Heaven for eternity after these days are completed.

So, back to that moment of quiet, close-eyed reflection. It seems to me that it is very easy to lose sight of God as I go through the processes and engage with the urgencies of my days. The voices that assail my mind often place blinds over my heart’s ability to discern truth and wisdom, and the tasks that life demands frequently claim my mind’s total attention to the degree that they have my absolute loyalty. All of this comes at the expense of my ability to appreciate the One who makes it possible for me to do everything that I accomplish and who grants me the love, grace, and wisdom that I need to enter into all of it with a heart that is set on doing what is righteous, good, and holy. The Lord desires for each of his people to live out every one of our days in a manner that will bring the presence of God into all of the places that we occupy and that will leave the sweet aroma of His holy love behind us as a reminder of why we live as we do. The ability to go through life with God in front of us in everything is gained and is enhanced in these times of looking closely upon His face, of expressing thanksgiving for all that the Lord is and does, and by seeking His will for each thought, word, and action that we will undertake today.  

But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it — the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe.

Romans 3: 21, 22

 

God’s character stands above everything else in creation. In fact, it is this character that sets the standard for what constitutes rightness and righteousness in everything. The character of God is itself an expression of His nature; so, when God, Himself, is considered, absolute righteousness is what is on view. No other standard, rule, or law that has come in any sense from the hands of humans can match that exact image of the Lord, for all others are nothing more than copies or amateurish sketches that were crafted by ill-informed and shaky hands.

 

Now God’s Word, as God’s Spirit has directed it onto the page, does give us our best written facsimile. Still, it is expressed in our imperfect human language, and it requires that people engage with it out of our relationship with the Living God in order to gain our best understand of its content and direction for our lives. Also, when it comes to viewing God’s character in earthly terms, the lives of people who have been transformed by Christ in them is the world’s living depiction of God and expression of His kingdom in its glory among us on earth. God desires that all people would know Him and be in relationship with Him; so, the Father sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to live as us and among us, and Christ sent His Spirit to continue that earthly dwelling with all of us who enter into a relationship with God.

 

In Christ all that is God, His nature and character, have been made fully known to all people. I do not pretend to know exactly how this happens or the ways in which God brings His story of redemption and salvation into the minds and the hearts of every person on earth; I just accept His word when it says that He does. What I do know is that everything that is good, righteous, and holy in my experience of life has come out of and from God, Himself. I do understand that Christ produces my own goodness as He resides within me and as I am submitted to His perfect will, and I pledge my mind and my heart to seeking to know Christ more fully and to actively responding to His calling to live righteously that this knowledge and understanding produces.

The LORD passed before Moses and proclaimed, “The LORD, the LORD, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but he will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children and the children’s children, to the third and the fourth generation.”

Exodus 34: 6, 7

 

There is much in these words that is hard to accept and to live with. God was stating a very strong warning to Moses. The Lord was making it clear that our sinfulness and rejection of Him and of His righteousness did have consequences that would not only impact us but that they would also effect our children and their children. Sin is not just personal, for its harmful and corrosive nature intrudes into the lives of many others. Yet, that is not really the point that God was making to Moses. Instead, the real emphasis here is on the nature and the quality of God’s love.

 

Bear in mind that a lot of highly negative things have been happening in the camp of the Israelites, and God has every right to be angry with them. Yet, the Lord has spared them and He has continued to place Moses before them as the person who will lead the people to their promised destination. It would seem that these Israelites are not all that different from us. So, in light of the reality of our human propensity to sin, God presents us with this essential aspect of His nature. The Lord is constant, consistent, and ever faithful in His love for people. God would rather forgive and restore us than punish and banish us. The Lord’s love continues long after we have seemingly rejected Him and His ways and entered into the worship of our own personal idols.

 

God presented them with an option, and He grants us the same one. We can repent, turn away from the sin that destroys our lives and that separates us from God, and we can enter into the Lord’s grace and restoration. God gave us Himself in the person of Jesus in order to permanently complete the return of lost souls to His presence. This sacrifice of self for each of us is God’s greatest demonstration of His steadfast and faithful love for all of humanity. Now we can do something about the warning that the Lord gave to Moses. Now we can turn to Christ for salvation and for healing, and we can also share the truth of God’s mercy, grace, and love with others so that they too can enter into the presence of perfect love.

 

I have come into the world as light, so that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness.

John 12: 46

 

These are the profound words of a man who knows that He is facing the darkest hour of His life on earth. Jesus is only a very short amount of time away from the cross, and He is aware of the sort of pain that His body and soul will endure. Jesus also understands the nature of the great darkness that will descend upon the land at that time. He is the source of true light in the world. The light that He brings comes from God, and it is the expression of the glory that continually fills the heavens with a radiance that is beyond all imagining. This is not just the light that comes from the sun, for it is more fundamental than that. The light that Jesus brought into the world is formed in the nature and the character of God.

 

Jesus gave tangible earthly expression to that light. His presence among us brought to life the love, truth, justice, and mercy of God. He demonstrated through words and actions the righteous nature of God, and Jesus brought all of that to culmination in His sacrificial death, an act of great love, which God redeems by an even greater act in Christ’s resurrection to life. It is after His death and resurrection that Jesus’ promise of giving light becomes real. Although He brought the light of God into the world, during His earthly life Jesus was limited by place and time. Now Christ, by and through the presence of His Spirit in all who believe in Him, grants this holy light to illuminate every corner of the world for each moment of the day.

 

People who know Christ also know God’s light. We possess it. Yet, this light is not the sort of thing that should be protected or secured away in some secret place. It is a gift that God gives to His people with the intention that we would share it freely and fully with others. The light of heaven was a part of what made Jesus the center of attention wherever He went. It brought comfort to the troubled, and its glory cut through the darkness of sin to open people’s wounded hearts to God’s pure and healing touch. Now that same light is available to the entire world in the presence of Christ in His people. We are to live each of our days in God’s light, and we are to be bearers of Christ’s perfect light of love in our world