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.
A prayer for Monday:
Dear Heavenly Father,
Help us to become better disciples and instill in us the knowledge and compassion we need to carry out your work.
We also ask you to help us broaden our commitment to your son, Jesus.
There’s much all of us can do to help relay your message to all people we come in contact with, daily.
We must actively commit ourselves to this mission. In your son’s name, we pray.
Our topic for tomorrow’s Bible study is the continual prayer mentioned in 1 Thessalonians 5:17. Since it’s prayer Monday anyway, I thought I’d post some of the more interesting things I find.
- ‘Pray without ceasing: why anyone can do it and almost nobody does‘. This is a great post. Listen: “Prayer isn’t something I generate, it’s something I join in progress”, and “Prayer is where we begin telling the truth about our own lives.”
- “The position of our text [1 Thess 5:17] is very suggestive. Observe what it follows. It comes immediately after the precept, ‘Rejoice evermore;’ as if that command had somewhat staggered the reader, and made him ask ‘How can I always rejoice?’ and, therefore, the apostle appended as answer, ‘Always pray.’ The more praying the more rejoicing. Prayer gives a channel to the pent-up sorrows of the soul, they flow away, and in their stead streams of sacred delight pour into the heart. At the same time the more rejoicing the more praying; when the heart is in a quiet condition, and full of joy in the Lord, then also will it be sure to draw nigh unto the Lord in worship. Holy joy and prayer act and react upon each other. Observe, however, what immediately follows the text: ‘In everything give thanks.’ When joy and prayer are married their first born child is gratitude.” Maestro Spurgeon; read the whole sermon here.
- “Whether we think of; or speak to, God, whether we act or suffer for him, all is prayer, when we have no other object than his love, and the desire of pleasing him.” —John Wesley
The real problem with “Love the sinner; hate the sin” is that hate comes so much more naturally to us. . .
And when you start hating sin, you’ll find it is oh so much easier to hate other people’s sin — i.e., sins toward which you have no particular inclination — than your own. Which makes you no less sinful than those you judge, but a lot more hypocritical.
I say let’s focus on just trying to “love the sinner” for a while. When and if we get that down — if we learn to truly love sinners as Jesus did — then maybe we can talk about hating their sins.
Read the whole post here.
This makes me want to shake loose the foundations of thingsasweknowthem. Read Roger Wolsey’s post here. No regrets, promise.
Bill Gatewood and Rick Taylor only needed one minister to marry them at their longtime place of worship, Arch Street United Methodist Church.
Instead, they got fifty.
Risking the loss of their credentials, the ministers came to show their support of same-sex marriage, an issue currently being hotly debated in the Methodist Church, as well as to show solidarity with an embattled colleague who has been personally affected. Rev. Frank Schaefer of Lebanon, PA, will stand trial on Nov. 18 in front of the church because he officiated his son’s same-sex wedding, which is currently against church law.
At Gatewood and Taylor’s wedding, the Methodist clergy members along with other clergy from other denomination filled the front of the church after vows were exchanged. Resting their hands on each other and the couple, they said in unison, “Those whom God has joined together, let no one put asunder,” according to Philly.com.
I suspect Paul combined this call for the Body’s unity with an acknowledgement of the Body’s diversity because he knew that unity isn’t the same as uniformity.
We’re not called to be alike; we’re called to love.
We’re not called to agree; we’re called to love.
We’re not even called to get along all the time; we’re called to love each other as brothers and sisters, as people united in one baptism, one communion, one adoption.
Maybe we need these differences to be animated, to be alive, to mature. Maybe friction isn’t a sign of decay, but of growth.
The world is certainly watching. But this doesn’t mean we hide our dirty laundry, slap on mechanical smiles, and gloss over all the injustices and abuses, conflicts and disagreements, diversity and denominationalism present within the Church; it means we expose them. It means we talk about them boldly and with integrity, with passion and with love. I suspect that talking about our differences is better for our witness than suppressing them, and I’m sure that exposing corruption and abuse is better for our witness than hiding them.
And when it comes to injustice, a far more important question to me than “What will the world think if they see us disagreeing?” is “What will the world think if they don’t?”
So when we find ourselves in a position of privilege in the Church, this means listening with patience to the concerns of our brothers and sisters from the margins, even when their calls for change strike us, at first, as bitter or unwelcome.
When we find ourselves speaking from the margins, this means putting in extra effort to ensure that our challenges are issued respectfully and kindly, even when it seems exhausting and unfair to do so. And it means responding to shaming tactics (deliberate or inadvertent) by pressing on and continuing to speak the truth, even when it makes people uncomfortable.
For all of us, I think it means abandoning the notion that unity requires uniformity and that arguments, even heated ones, mean we don’t love one another.
We are, after all, brothers and sisters.
Let’s fight like them.
via On being ‘divisive’….| Rachel Held Evans
For those among us struggling to acclimate to the new week…
The following prayer requests were made by 11 second graders at tonight’s CCD.
– “Please God help that animal that my mom ran over by accident, and please, please, please don’t let it be somebody’s pet.”
– “I hope my grandma’s headache goes away soon and I’m sorry we gave her one by cheering for the Steelers and stealing so many cookies.”
– “ I would like to pray for world peace and my hamster.”
– “Please, Jesus, bring back my turtle’s appetite.”
– “ I saw a dead raccoon on the way here. I would like to pray for it and also that someone cleans it soon.”
– “God, remember all of my nine dead pets.”
– “My grandmother’s mom’s friend’s sister or maybe her cousin? I don’t know actually, I just know she knows her and her name is Violetta.”
– “For everyone’s health and lots of candy on Halloween.”
The following things were said by the same second graders.
Teacher: “And when is Jesus’ birthday?”
Ecstatic children: “Christmas!!!”
One girl: Additionally, I do believe, if I’m not mistaken, that Christmas is also the day that Santa Claus got married.”
“I know God made me but what I want to know is can we make hot chocolate or not?”
“Yea I know what the Trinity is, my dad works there. He can put a refridgerator on your bike and he will do it for free.”
“Could you hold my tooth? It fell out.”
“When I grow up I’m going to be a peanut butter and jelly sculptor and even though it will be hard for no one to eat my art I’m going to make something beautiful.”
“Does Mary wear high heels or flip flops?”
“Has Jesus ever farted?”
Read the whole post: Happy Tuesday. | Good One God.
So, perhaps we should mourn Satan, the only named thing in all of Creation whose fate is foretold, inescapable, disconnected from grace, from free will, from salvation. Some early theologians found this idea so abhorrent, they imagined some kind of ultimate redemptive grace, even for Satan, maybe even especially for Satan: a true, pan-physical universalism.
Because with Satan, there is an ultimate conundrum. He is part of Creation, part of God’s plan. Evil is meant to be amongst us. I cannot fathom a theology in which there was a cataclysmic “whoops” in the Garden, and the Creation since then has been going completely against His plan, with Him staring on helplessly. So, if there is meant to be evil, there is a reason for it, far from our understanding as it may sometimes seem.
So, if we love this doomed creature, does that play into his hands? I think at heart that this is a Pharisaical idea, that we need to avoid contact with evil. Jesus encounters evil time and time again, and greets it time and again with agape. Even in the wilderness, there is no hate. I’ve always been struck by Jesus in the wilderness. It runs as an extended, lengthy debate, not as an epic battle. Why? Because Satan has no hope for victory. Jesus is calm, because he has no cause for alarm. And on the cross, that victory is made eternal. On the cross, we share in Jesus’ victory. It is our right.
Interesting perspective–read the whole thing: John Watson: Sympathy for the Devil | Red Letter Christians.
If this is your first time experiencing [spiritual] dryness, then please know that just because you don’t feel God doesn’t make you a bad Christian. It just makes you an honest one.