170 – Do You Really Know Who God Is? Part 5

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Do You Really Know Who God Is? Part 5 Write from the Deep podcast with Karen Ball and Erin Taylor YoungAre we hearing—and worshiping—God as he truly is, or only as we imagine him to be? Why does this matter? It’s so easy—and dangerous!—to let our own ideas of who God is take center stage over who he’s actually revealed himself to be in his Word. When we do that, we’ve made up our own god to serve, love, and pray to. There’s a word for that: Idolatry.

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Erin: Welcome, listeners, into the deep with us. We are so glad you’re here. If you’ve been with us for a while, you know that we just finished a great interview with Shadia Hrichi. She writes Bible studies. Her joy and her excitement over studying God and his Word was such a delight for us.

We want to keep that spark going in this next podcast with a continuation of our series on God’s attributes. I cannot stress this enough. We need to know God. The real God. To paraphrase what Eugene Peterson wrote in The Message, we need to be faced with God as he is, not as we imagine him to be.

This is a danger, guys. We cannot just imagine the kind of god that we want. And it’s so easy to do that, but it becomes a god we’ve made up and not the God that he revealed truly to us of himself. We can’t just imagine a god or make it up, because that’s an idol. So I want to encourage us again to know God as he revealed himself. As he truly is.

Karen: Let’s go ahead and consider the first attribute, which is one that I have been so thankful for over the last several months.

God is never overwhelmed by emotions

Karen: As many of you know, my husband and I are in the process of moving to Washington from Oregon. Selling our home, buying a home.

Erin: That’s not easy.

Karen: Oh my gosh! It’s been a turbulent time, I can tell you. And here’s what I love about God, this characteristic of God: God is never overwhelmed by emotions. Never.

Everything in God is perfect, and that includes emotions. For us, though, for humans, our experience of emotions is imperfect. Meaning we can be overwhelmed and influenced by them. And boy howdy have Don and I been influenced by them lately.

The emotions we humans experience have been given to us by God, because they’re a part of who he is and help reveal himself to us. But just as our understanding of God is incomplete and imperfect, our understanding of emotions is the same.

Yes, God has emotions, but with him, they are perfect. They are never overwhelming, and he is not controlled by them.

With Don and me trying to communicate, I say something, and the way he hears it is so warped by his perceptions and his emotions that it comes out the total opposite of what I was saying. So he gets frustrated, and he comes back, then I hear through my own filters and warp things, and then it just gets really ugly.

That never happens with God. Because we know that he understands us, even in the midst of these messy, confused, turbulent emotions. But we never ever have to worry about him being arbitrary or moody for no reason or any of a host of other things that we humans not only experience, but allow to influence us.

This is why it’s so important to realize that emotions are seldom, if ever, a good measuring stick for us for reality. Our emotions cloud our judgment, cloud the things that we say and the things that we do. But emotions will never cloud God’s judgment.

His emotions are as stable and unchangeable as he is, which means he will never, ever stop loving us. We can trust him without reservation. He doesn’t communicate in hidden messages. He doesn’t base his love for us on how many books we’ve published, how many books we’ve sold, or what our marketing programs are.

His love for us is simply based on who he is and that we are his creation and his children through Christ. His emotions are stable. We can trust him in every facet of what we’re doing.

God is our Rock

Erin: Following right up on when we’re talking about God being stable with his emotions, God is also our rock. That’s stable, right?

I love the imagery in Psalm 18:2. It says, “The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.”

Isaiah 26:4 says, “Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord God is an everlasting rock.”

I love the imagery of rock. It makes me think of strength and refuge, solid and unfailing. There is just nothing in this world that’s certain or solid. Look at the stock market lately. It’s up, it’s down, and down some more.

Look at what’s happening in other countries around the world. The awful situation with what Russia is doing invading Ukraine, and just the constant battles over pieces of land since the dawn of civilization.

Look at our health. One minute we’re fine. The next we’re facing cancer or who knows what. Look at our houses, one minute it’s there and the next minute there’s a fire, and it’s all gone.

Look at technology. One time, I couldn’t get into our website because a plugin had gone haywire, and that was blocking me from getting into our website. That’s a surprise. Nothing is stable. People aren’t stable. They’re wonderful. We love them, but they make mistakes. They don’t live forever.

Readers are wonderful, but they can be fickle. They can give you good reviews, bad reviews, who knows. Contracts come and go. The writing industry changes, there’s upheaval. It goes on and on.

But God is steady, secure, solid, eternal. You can hope in him. You can cling to him. You can trust in him. He is not going anywhere ever.

God is our rock.

God is the strong one who sees

Karen: Not only is God our rock, but he is El Roi. That is one of his names, and it means “the strong one who sees.” We see that first in Genesis 16:13. But in Psalm 3:3 it tells us, “But you, Lord, are a shield around me, my glory, the one who lifts my head high, you are my refuge and my shield: I have put my hope in your word.”

This God, who is our rock, and he is the strong one, he sees. He sees everything that we experience. Every joy, every disappointment, every difficult thing that we face, every triumph that we experience. God is there and he sees, and he’s the strong one. He’s almighty. Nothing is stronger than God.

No publisher is stronger than God. No readers, no reviews, no nothing. We are not stronger than God. When we start to question what we’re doing and if we’re doing it right, turn to God. He’s the strong one who sees you. He sees your disappointment. He sees your insecurity. He sees all of it and he will respond.

You never have to deal with anything on this writing journey alone, because God is there. He’s the strong one who’s almighty. He’s able, he’s capable, he’s willing. And he sees you. Never doubt that.

Erin: I love that because what would it matter if he was the weak one who sees you? Not helpful.

Karen: Yeah.

Erin: But the fact that he sees and is strong, now he can do something about what he sees. I love it.

God is our rewarder

Our next attribute is that God is our rewarder. Colossians 3:23-24 says, “Whatever you do, do you work heartily, as for the Lord and not for people, knowing that it is from the Lord that you will receive the reward of the inheritance. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve.”

It’s easy to see measures of earthly success, right? How many copies got sold? How many contracts we got or awards or reader reviews or whatever, whatever, whatever. But earthly success cannot be the measuring stick of our writing because how much weight are we going to put on giving somebody hope?

What is that worth in dollars? It’s just not. Dollars or sales or acclaim or whatever, that’s not the right measuring stick. Our job is to please God, to be obedient to him, and to work for the reward that only God can give.

I’m not saying it’s wrong to make money as a writer, because that might be your earthly job. But it’s God who provides that money because he knows your needs. And ultimately, God is the one who provides the reward we were all made for: heaven.

1 Peter 1:4 says, “We have a priceless inheritance—an inheritance that is kept in heaven for you, pure and undefiled beyond the reach of change and decay.”

That’s our reward, and guess what? No one can take it away because our Father gives it to us, and he keeps it safe.

God is a great king

The next thing that we want to talk about is that God is a great king. We talked previously in this series about God being sovereign, that he rules over all, and he works all things according to his plan.

But in thinking about God as king, what I want to highlight is respect. The reverence and honor that’s due to God as a great king. The greatest king.

In our culture, singers, TV stars, movie stars, professional athletes, billionaires, self-help gurus, gamers, even, yes, household-name authors, they are all given incredible status. At the same time, the King of the entire universe, the Maker of all reality, has his name tossed around in profanity. How many people don’t even believe their maker exists? That’s appalling.

I want us to take some time to think about how we treat God. His name, his reputation. How do we go about speaking to him or talking about him?

There’s still a queen in England. If she were coming to your house, how would you treat her? How would you pay attention to her or speak to her?

I mean, we’d probably figure we should stop what we’re doing and give her the time of day. It’s a whole different ballgame because she’s the queen. That’s the kind of reverence and awe that is sometimes missing in our interactions with God. We’re in danger of becoming too focused on God as our friend, which he is, but we forget to fear and revere him.

I love this verse in Malachi 1:14. It says, “But cursed be the deceiver who has in his flock a male, and takes a vow, but sacrifices to the Lord what is blemished.” In other words, not giving our best, right? “‘For, I am a great King,’ says the Lord of hosts, ‘and my name is to be feared among the nations.'”

Meditate on the respect and awe and honor that God deserves. How he deserves our best effort in everything. As a writer, as a person, this is what’s going to keep you humble and meek and service-oriented and focused on what truly matters in this life: on honoring our great King.

Karen: Amen.

God is the Lord of Hosts

Karen: There’s no better thing for us to do than to honor him because another name of God in Scripture is Yahweh Sabbaoth and that means “the Lord of Hosts.”

The hosts are considered the heavenly beings that God created. He is the Lord, the commander of heaven’s armies, heaven’s hosts.

According to Scottish preacher and expositor Alexander MacLaren, “By that title, ‘the Lord of hosts,’ the prophet and psalmist meant to express the universal dominion of God over the whole universe in all its battalions and sections, which they conceived of as one ranked army, obedient to the voice of the great General and Ruler of them all.”

So, how much is a host? How many people or how many heavenly hosts are there? Well, it talks about at the birth of Jesus, a multitude of the heavenly host. Scripture doesn’t specify how many, but if you look at Daniel 7:10 and Revelation 5:11, and if you take them literally, they both talk about 10,000 times 10,000, which equals a hundred million heavenly hosts serve the eternal.

It’s countless. It’s multitudeness. There’s no way to know how many, but I tell you what, it’s a whole lot more than any of the armies here on the earth.

Psalm 46:11 tells us, “The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.”

Erin talked about the struggles in the world. There is a war on truth and righteousness and godliness taking place. There has been since the beginning of time, but in our time right now it seems to be intensifying, and it feels like righteousness and godliness and good and truth are losing.

The state of the world is clear evidence that there is a spiritual battle being waged and intensifying. But the wonder is that we don’t need to fear this battle or its outcome. Indeed, we are commanded to take part by appealing to God, the leader of heaven’s armies, the Yahweh Sabbaoth, and ask him to mobilize those heavenly armies to bring down evil.

Erin: Cool.

Karen: In our writing, we must stay faithful to God’s truth in what we put on paper. We cannot let the world force us to water down God’s truth. Will it be easy to stand like this? Of course not. When has war ever been easy?

But remember 2 Corinthians 10:3-5 says, “We are human, but we don’t wage war as humans do. We use God’s mighty weapons, not worldly weapons, to knock down the strongholds of human reasoning and to destroy false arguments. We destroy every proud obstacle that keeps people from knowing God. We capture their rebellious thoughts and teach them to obey Christ.”

We do that by calling on the Lord of hosts and asking him to mobilize his armies to attack and defeat evil. If we authors stand under pressure from publishers, if we feel like Davids facing Goliaths, then we can echo David’s words in 1 Samuel 17:45. Remember, David is just a kid when he’s looking at this giant. He’s facing this enormous Goliath, and what does he say to him? “You come against me with sword and spear and javelin,” or parenthetically, sensitivity readers and canceling contracts and demands in marketing, “but I come against you in the name of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies…”

Friends, you don’t have to be afraid. You don’t have to fear anything. You are a follower of Yahweh Sabbaoth and you can implore him and beseech him and ask him to mobilize those heavenly host, that army, in order to help us fight evil.

Jesus is the author and perfecter of our faith

Erin: The next thing we want to talk about is that Jesus is the author and perfecter of our faith. Hebrews 12:1-2 says, “Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

I love this translation because we’re authors and we can relate to what it means to author something. To Jesus being the author of our faith. Other translations say things like the pioneer, the founder, the leader, the source, originator, champion, initiator, maker of faith.

But Jesus did more than just make it. Word Biblical Commentary translates it like this: “The champion in the exercise of faith and the one who brought faith to complete expression.” That’s Jesus, the one who brought faith to complete expression.

Why is this important? Because it’s imperative that we keep our eyes on Jesus, who first designed this whole concept of faith, but then who also came to earth to demonstrate what perfect faith looked like.

Now, are we ever going to be perfect? No. But we have that picture to aim for in every step of our lives, through adversity and joy. And of course it’s not our own, right? But as the author, Jesus has this unlimited supply to share with us. He gives us faith. He builds our faith. He helps support our faith. That’s who he is as the author and perfecter of our faith.

God is one

Karen: Last but not least on our list today, God is one. He’s the only true God. There are no other gods who exist. They are false gods. There are no other gods beside him. He’s unique. Even these other gods that the world has created, that people have created, there is no other faith based on love and grace and sacrifice and redemption.

God is unique. There’s nobody else like him. In Isaiah 43:10 we see, “‘You are my witnesses,’ declares the Lord, ‘and my servant, whom I have chosen that you may know and believe me and understand that I am He. Before me know God was formed, nor shall there be any after me.'”

In Isaiah 44:8 it says, “Fear not, nor be afraid; have I not told you from old and declared it? And you are my witnesses! Is there a God besides me? There is no rock. I know not any.”

Then Ephesians 4:4-6, “There is one body and one spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all who is overall and through all and in all.”

One God. And you know what’s amazing? This unique, omnipresent, almighty, transcendent, utterly amazing, one unique God loves you. Loves you, and loves me, and has given everything to restore us to himself.

As we think about these attributes of God, I want us to end with Psalm 113. Listen and praise with me.

“Praise the Lord. Praise the Lord, you his servants; praise the name of the Lord. Let the name of the Lord be praised, both now and forevermore. From the rising of the sun to the place where it sets, the name of the Lord is to be praised. The Lord is exalted over all the nations, his glory above the heavens. Who is like the Lord our God, the one who sits enthroned on high, who stoops down to look on the heavens and the earth? He raises the poor from the dust and lifts the needy from the ash heap; he seats them with princes, with the princes of his people. He settles the childless woman in her home as a happy mother of children. Praise the Lord.”

Erin: Amen.

Karen: Amen.

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