But one attribute of God which covers all the others is his holiness. In fact, Scripture describes God and his name as holy over 900 times. Actually, God can be said to be sovereign, just, merciful, gracious, loving, wrathful, etc. in his holiness. It is God’s holiness that defines him as God, and it is the first thing we think of when we consider his existence.
The Puritan writer, Thomas Watson, said of God’s holiness:
God is intrinsically holy. All he does is holy; he cannot act but like himself; he can no more do an unrighteous action than the sun can turn dark. He is the original and pattern of holiness. It began with him who is the Ancient of Days. God is perfectly, unalterably, and unchangeably holy.
In the Hebrew literature of the Old Testament, repetition was used to emphasize words and ideas. As we would capitalize a word or use bold print, the writers of the Old Testament repeated words and phrases. We often do something similar when we speak of good, better, and best. In Hebrew, repeating a word or phrase three times elevates it to the third degree, or the superlative. Interestingly, God’s holiness is the only attribute which is emphasized in this way in Scripture. The seraphim in Isaiah 6 declare that God is “Holy, Holy, Holy.” However, as important as they are, no other attributes are spoken of in this way. We never read that God is “Sovereign, Sovereign, Sovereign,” “Gracious, Gracious, Gracious,” or even “Love, Love, Love.” Only his holiness is thus highlighted and declared.
We should strive for holiness, but holiness is a flood, not an absence.
Today is the Women’s World Day of Prayer. The WWDP is held on the first Friday of every March. This year’s theme is “Streams in the desert” and the official programme was provided by women in Egypt. Go here for more information.
We had a lovely and rejuvenating service over at Nigel Methodist. The Minister spoke about how, when we are fed by the wellspring of God’s grace, this has a ripple effect on our homes, our friends and family, our places of work and worship–because whomever we encounter will encounter others.
In that spirit, here is a prayer (for International Women’s Day):
Women are a reflection of the glory of God. Today we honor the women of all times and all places:
Women of courage.
Women of hope.
Women living fully.
Women experiencing joy.
Women delighting in life.
Women knowing the interconnectedness of the human family.
Women honoring the sacredness of the relational, the affective.
Women quietly tending the garden of human flourishing.
Women boldly leading the transformation of unjust global structures.
Women seeking Wisdom.
Women sharing Wisdom.
Women receiving Love.
Women giving Love.
Women: the image of God.
Loving God, we celebrate your faithfulness and love. On this day we commit ourselves to the promotion of the full humanity of all women everywhere. We know that whatever denies, diminishes, or distorts the full humanity of women is not of God.
Help us to be faithful to your call to love.
[Your spiritual food] must be continually sought. Do not try to live on last year’s manna. Stale experiences are poor food… [Y]ou need to have a daily realisation of the things of God.
[B]e not idlers with the Word of God–search it. Get up early in the morning to read your Bible if you cannot do it at others times. Steal from your sleep a happy hour to read the Scriptures. Diligently and earnestly seek the Lord, for He has said, “They that seek Me early shall find Me.”
–Charles Spurgeon, ‘Lessons from the Manna’, no. 2332. Read the whole sermon here (it’s in PDF format and free to download).
I’m reading Jack Hayford’s “Manifest Presence”. At one point he talks about how we worship God simply because of who He is. Hayford references Exodus 3:17, in which God tells Moses, “I Am Who I Am”. I Am—well, I thought, if that’s good enough for Moses, it’s good enough for me! Then I read the whole third chapter of Exodus. This is the burning bush episode where God reveals Himself to Moses and sends him to bring the Israelites out of Egypt. And “I Am” definitely wasn’t enough for Moses: he spends most of the chapter going, “but…”
Several things strike me about this section. The first thing is that God alone is reason enough to be obedient. The second is that we always second-guess this. The third is that even when we do, instead of picking someone else for the task, God equips us—with staffs that turn into snakes and well-spoken brothers. But He equips us: He never does pick someone else to send.
You have been chosen. That’s the long and the short of it. There are things that God wants only you to do. Yes, there’s probably someone else out there who is better qualified, readier, more faithful, less doubtful–but they aren’t you. And it’s you God needs.
No ifs or buts about it. He Is.
“That love of God is hard and marvelous. It cannot and will not be broken because of our sins.” – Julian of Norwich
“Theological formation is the gradual and often painful discovery of God’s incomprehensibility. You can be competent in many things, but you cannot be competent in God.” – Henri Nouwen