Tell Me The Why!

question mark neon signage

Tell me the why

I’ve written a few articles for Medium, an online publishing platform. Those articles focused on business and management but their underpinning is God’s Word. For example, one article I wrote is titled, “Tell Me The Bad News, Please.” It’s about finding the value in bad news.

I wasn’t happy with the first couple of articles I wrote for Medium. Well, actually, the first article I wrote, It’s Time to Sell California,  continues to resonate with readers. Anyway, knowing I need some help with my writing, I went to Fiverr.com and hired an editor to read one of my articles. I was blessed by finding Jessi_a, a proofreader and editor.

Jessi_a critiqued my article. She provided valuable feedback, but none more so than this: “I’d go one sentence further explaining this concept. You’re almost there, but you stop before the why.”  She was right. And I went back and reviewed a few other things I’d written and found this was a weakness in my writing. Her modest fee was worth it all for providing this insight.

God rarely says why

If I think back to elementary school, my teachers taught me in my English lessons that explanations should include the who, what, when, where, and why. At some point, probably by the end of fourth grade, the “why” fell off that list. (This might be the cause of the occasional marital misunderstandings during the last few decades. 😟 )

When it comes to our relationship with God and His Word, there are very few times that God tells us why. He’s God. He doesn’t have to explain the reasons why He does what He does. And if He did tell us, we couldn’t understand it because, well, He thinks like God.

Sometimes God does say why

Here are a handful of examples of God telling us why:

  • Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body.1 Corinthians 6:18
  • And he did not do many mighty works there, because of their unbelief. Matthew 13:58
  • So we see that they were unable to enter because of unbelief. Hebrews 3:19

Processing faith

The difference between the need to know God’s why and the resting in God’s what is like the difference between a person’s profession of faith and a person’s possession of faith. God’s why doesn’t change anything just as a person professing faith in Jesus; nothing changes. But when we accept God’s what and even rest in it, we discover peace and His comfort. Likewise, when we possess faith in Jesus as our Savior, we find rest, peace, and comfort.

The “why” is important for person to person communications and seems to carry some measure of import in a marriage.😉 As followers of Jesus, we don’t need to know God’s why, but sometimes He tells us:

  • Who – Jesus – Acts 4:12
  • What – Salvation by grace through faith – Ephesians 2:8-9
  • When – Now is the time, while it’s still called “Today” – 2 Corinthians 6:2
  • Where – Right where you’re at – Acts 8:26-40
  • Why – For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. – John 3:16

You may like: Why Pray?

Undeniable Hope

mug of coffee near eyeglasses and coaster

Undeniable hope

Are you a Christian? Me, too. When you wake up in the morning and have had your mug of coffee, tea, or (God have mercy) Pepsi, what do you sense (not feel) inside you? Yes, that’s the Holy Spirit. You may be in a “good place” in your life or a dire situation, but there’s hope there; it’s undeniable hope. Abraham, too, had this kind of hope.

In hope he believed against hope, that he should become the father of many nations, as he had been told, “So shall your offspring be.” – Romans 4:18

Hope is not at all like wishing

Abraham was old enough to be a great, great, grandfather, but still, God’s promise to him had not been fulfilled. Nevertheless, he hoped. This very same nature of God is alive in you. You have that hope.

And hope is not at all like wishing. It’s not like daydreaming. And it’s certainly not the misguided teaching of “name it, and claim it.” God’s Word tells us, “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. (Hebrews 11:1)” It is that assurance that acts as a scaffolding for the life of a Christian.

Scaffolding of our life

Our lives are under construction. And where we find construction, find scaffolds that enable the builders to move around the structure, making their repairs and building whole new things. The Holy Spirit, who lives within us, does the construction for our life in Christ Jesus. Our assurance is our confidence in God’s work in our lives.

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.” – Romans 15:13

Do we make mistakes? Yes. Do we suffer loss from our trust in others? Yes. Is there anything, anywhere, at any time, that can separate you from the love of God? No!

God is for you

For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:38-39

Is this hope the same for the people that have not accepted God’s free gift of salvation? No. “Those who are in the flesh cannot please God. (Romans 8:8)” So be full of joy, be kind to the hateful, be at peace in your world of chaos. God is for you. “What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? (Romans 8:31)”

You may like: A Faithless Man

The Patina of the World

teal wooden window door

Perhaps you saw the meme which reads, “God, please give us precedented times.” Wow, has 2020 been unprecedented, at least in our lifetimes? Still, we have so much to thank God for.

Purveyors of the Gospel

Certainly, all around us, we see destruction, deception, and disruption. Hatred, harassment, and harm seem to be the order of the day. But we, as followers of Jesus, the Beloved Son of God (Matthew 3:17), see the world differently.

The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. – 1 Corinthians 2:14

How can we be purveyors of the Gospel of Jesus Christ if we absorb the nature of the visible world? The answer is, “We cannot.” The good news is that we don’t have to! 

We read in Ephesians 2:2 (NLT), “You used to live in sin, just like the rest of the world, obeying the devil—the commander of the powers in the unseen world. He is the spirit at work in the hearts of those who refuse to obey God.” How do we remain Teflon to the nature of this world? The key is found in John 8:36, “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” Now that is not just good news; that’s great news!

The Patina of the World

So, I encourage you not to take on the patina (i.e., the impression or appearance) of the world, but instead, be transparent, so the light of Christ (John 1:4-5) shines through you to all to whom you come in contact…while maintaining social distancing. 😉

You may like: Err on the Side of Mercy

God Has Never Learned Anything

man with surprise expression

God has never learned anything. Wrap your mind around that! Well, we can’t. God is unknowable. Yes, as a follower of Jesus, I know God, but I don’t know him as my wife or child. I can’t know God because He is, in every way, different from me. Am I sure? Yes, He told me so:

Behold, God is great, and we know him not; the number of his years is unsearchable.Job 36:26
Great is our Lord, and of great power: his understanding is infinite. – Psalm 147:5

We are made in his image

We can rightly claim that God made us in His image. Yes, just as we can say that a penny is made in the image of Abraham Lincoln, but a penny is nothing compared to President Abraham Lincoln. So it is with us; we are nothing when compared to God. Isaiah prophesied:

Behold, the nations are like a drop from a bucket, and are accounted as the dust on the scales; behold, he takes up the coastlands like fine dust. – Isaiah 40:15

For he [the LORD] knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust. – Psalm 103:14

God has never learned anything

Right about now you’re thinking, “Hey, tell me some GOOD NEWS.” I just did. 😉 God has never learned anything because He has always existed and has always known everything. Now consider your needs, your problems, your hopes, your heart. God knows all of them. God cares. “Casting all your care on him; for he cares for you. (1 Peter 5:7 AKJV)”

What is the price of two sparrows—one copper coin? But not a single sparrow can fall to the ground without your Father knowing it. Matthew 10:29

So God is not just aware of us. He knows us intimately. He knows us continually. He comprehends us.

1 O LORD, You have searched me and known me.
2 You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
         You understand my thought from afar.
3 You scrutinize my path and my lying down,
         And are intimately acquainted with all my ways.
4 Even before there is a word on my tongue,
         Behold, O LORD, You know it all.
– Psalms 139:1-4

Really Good News

So we have some inkling of just how great God is. And we know that He comprehends each of us intimately and continually. So here is the really good news. Neither you nor I am able to make it through life without help. Oh, what a wonder it is to throw our travail on God. “Casting all your care on him [God]; for he cares for you.” – 1 Peter 5:7

That word “casting” (ἐπιρίψαντες) means to throw. It’s like carrying 50 pounds of potatoes on your back. God says, “Throw it to me!” How wonderful it is, as a child of God, to be known, to be understood, to receive compassion; who doesn’t need these?

You have a friend

Jesus knows us, understands us, and, through salvation, becomes our friend that sticks closer than a brother (Proverbs 18:24) and He is our mediator with God (1 Timothy 2:5). We can’t fully know our heavenly Father, but Jesus does. “As the Father knows Me, I also know the Father… (John 10:15)” And Jesus declared the following from the perspective of what the Holy Spirit inspired Paul to write:

For who knows a person’s thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. – 1 Corinthians 2:11

You are known by God if you’ve been saved by Jesus. 

But God’s firm foundation stands, bearing this seal: “The Lord knows those who are his,” and, “Let everyone who names the name of the Lord depart from iniquity.” – 2 Timothy 2:19

You may like: I know my redeemer lives

Praying Like Jacob

woman holding Bible up

May God Almighty grant you mercy before the man, and may he send back your other brother and Benjamin. And as for me, if I am bereaved of my children, I am bereaved.Genesis 43:14

The Context

There is a powerful lesson about prayer in this brief passage. Please allow me to provide some context. Jacob (aka Israel), the son of Issac, the son of Abraham, spoke these words to his son Judah. Jacob believed that his youngest son, Benjamin, was being held for ransom. As far as Jacob knew at this time, he had already lost his son Joseph, so in verse fourteen, he is facing the loss of another son.

God’s Word shows us a lot about Jacob’s human nature. Jacob’s sons, Joseph and Benjamin, were his youngest kids, and it seems that Jacob may have loved them more than their older brothers. This is a common but unfortunate outcome when children in a family span across many years. However, for Jacob, his special love for his youngest sons is not without merit.

Jacob Faces a Big Problem

So, in Genesis, chapter forty-three, we see Jacob facing a challenging problem. He’s lost Joseph, and Benjamin is being held for ransom. Does he risk even more sons? Will Egypt decimate the very children called to inherit the promise given by God to Jacob’s grandfather, Abraham, the promise passed down from Abraham to Isaac to Jacob? 

Now verse fourteen shows us the faith of Jacob. Remember, God didn’t rename Abram, Israel, and God didn’t rename Isaac, Israel, but God did rename Jacob, Israel, and it is that name that God’s chosen people are stilled called today. Jacob knew God and God knew Jacob.

Not only did Jacob carry the promise of God, but Jacob also had a powerful tailwind. God personally selected his grandfather, and his dad had, by faith, submitted to his sacrificial death and had been redeemed by a substitute ram that foreshadowed salvation through Jesus. God’s favor rested upon Jacob.

Okay, that’s the context. If Jacob attended our small group meeting or our Zoom Bible study, everyone would take to heart his comments, and he would be asked to pray the closing prayer. So, in verse fourteen, Jacob shows us true faith.

Praying Like Jacob

Jacob begins his prayer, “May God Almighty grant you mercy before the man, and may he send back your other brother and Benjamin.” Jacob has asked God, just as Jesus taught us how to pray. Prayer uses the faith God has given you to ask Him for your needs and the needs of others. Jacob did this. Then a peculiar addendum is added. Jacob essentially says, “If I must lose another son or all my sons, I accept this and say, ’The will of God be done.’” Isn’t this the same humble pray that Jesus prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane, saying:

Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done. (Luke 22:42)

So, what is the take-away for us? It’s a difficult lesson; our prayer of faith is faith in God, not faith in a spiritual recipe. We can’t add a bit of righteous living, a smattering of good deeds, and praying on our knees and get exactly what we asked. No, first, we must be sure that what we ask for represents what Jesus will put His name to. And then, as a child of God, we ask our Father in the name of Jesus. We place our request in the hands of God, and we say; nevertheless, Your will be done.

You may like: Godly Faith

The “I” of Me

five yellow Labrador retriever puppies

(This picture has nothing to do with this post.
I just thought, “Who can resist puppies!?”)

Auditing my Life

Thankfully, you’re not me. When I enter my prayer closet, quiet my thoughts, and turn my attention to Jesus, I begin doing an audit of how I’m living. The Holy Spirit comforts and encourages me, but I cannot deny the “I” of me.

“I” is Powerful

Grammatically, the first person singular pronoun is ‘I’ when it is the sentence’s subject. This places “I” in a powerful position within a sentence. Have you ever written a personal letter and, when completed, looked at the entirety of your message? How many paragraphs start with “I”?

How often do you write statements from your “I” perspective? When I do this assessment, it often saddens me. Hopefully, you focus on the intended recipient. I’ve practiced writing messages without any “I”, “me” or “my” and it’s difficult. As for me, the I’s in my messages and conversations are all too prevalent.

The “I” of Jesus

A while back, I wrote a post titled, “The ‘I’ of Jesus.” Here is an abbreviated version:

  • “I am the gate for the sheep”
  • “I am the good shepherd”
  • “I know my sheep and my sheep know me”
  • “I lay down my life for the sheep”
  • “I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen [Not the Jews in heathen lands, but Gentiles]”
  • “I must bring them also.”
  • “I have authority to lay it down [My life] and authority to take it up again.”

The “I” of Me

When considering the “I” of me, I find:

  • Too often, I am more demanding of others than I am of myself. – “Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves (Romans 12:10).”
  • Too often, I play the role of the Levite rather than the good Samaritan. – “But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him (Luke 10:33).”
  • Too often, I choose what I will sacrifice rather than give what God asks. – “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship (Romans 12:1).”
  • Too often, I hold onto things which God has forgiven rather than receive the forgiveness He gave. – “As far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us (Psalm 103:12).”

It’s Good You’re Not Me

It’s good you are not me. For me, I must die, daily (Luke 9:23-24) for sin is always at my door (1 John 1:8). So, you may ask, what is the source of this pitiful “I” of me? When John the Baptist called the Pharisees and Sadducees a brood of vipers (Matthew 3:7), the Pharisees knew that the Scriptures associated the serpent with Satan in Genesis 3. So, John the Baptist implied that the Pharisees and Sadducees bore satanic qualities. And what was the sin of satan? The prophet Isaiah prophesied, regarding satan:

You said in your heart, ‘I will ascend to heaven; above the stars of God I will set my throne on high; I will sit on the mount of assembly in the far reaches of the north;Isaiah 14:13

The “I” of Me is Defeated

Satan’s “I will” is the root from which the sins of all humanity grow. And so the “I” of me comes from my old nature, rooted in the “prince of the air. (Ephesians 2:2)” Nevertheless, God has saved me, and it is by His presence that lives in me that the “I” of me is defeated (Ephesians 2:1-10). I pray the same for you!

You may like: Make No Provision For Sin

1,050 Commands

black dump truck

Acts 26:19-20, “Therefore, O King Agrippa, I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision, but declared first to those in Damascus, then in Jerusalem and throughout all the region of Judea, and also to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, performing deeds in keeping with their repentance.

When the apostle Paul was allowed to present the defense of his faith, he preached. That’s what Jesus called him to do. While reading his sermon to King Agrippa, I noticed Paul’s phrase, “performing deeds in keeping with their repentance.

Performing Deeds

Naturally, I stopped to consider what “deeds” to which Paul referred. Before I came up with a list, I first remembered that Jesus said, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments…(John 14:15)” Certainly, these commands of Christ were in the mind of Paul and on his mind when he preached to King Agrippa.

For Christians, my guess is that most of us would struggle to remember all ten of the 10 Commandments. As for the New Testament commands of Jesus, we would probably come up with two:

Jesus answered, The most important is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” – Mark 12:29-31

1,050 Commands!

Well, I knew there were more than two, so I Googled. As you can imagine, some people had 7, and some had 10, and one site had 1,050 commands! I would be in BIG trouble if I had to memorize 1,050 commandments of Jesus. When the scribe asked Jesus the question, “Which commandment is the most important of all?” (Mark 12:28), Jesus could have quoted the entire Torah, but He didn’t. Instead, Jesus provided a summary. Whew!

So, is Christ’s response, as found in Mark 12:29-31, “all” we need to do? Well, yes, but no.

Jesus summarized all of God’s commands. Still, He spent over three years walking around Israel, teaching. He said a lot of things. We should do many things to show our love to Jesus, but none of them earn our salvation. Jesus paid the cost of our sins in full. Salvation is given from God by grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8-9); however, salvation isn’t retirement!

The Christian Life is Salvation + Works

Our works are not inconsequential. Jesus said, “For the Son of Man is going to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay each person according to what he has done.” (Matthew 16:27). The apostle Paul wrote by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, “So then each of us will give an account of himself to God.” (Romans 14:12) So, salvation is given to those that respond to God’s call (John 3:16), but we are still accountable for the things we do; did we “do” Christ’s commands?

None of the commands of Jesus earn our salvation, but salvation causes our hearts to desire obedience to Jesus. How could it not? If we consider “cause and effect,” then it’s not “because we obey, we love.” Instead, it is “because we love, we obey.”

You may like: Give me the boot!

It’s Time for Fall Cleaning!

fall trees beside body of water during daytime

Well, autumn is here in all of its beauty. Many people are doing their annual “fall cleaning.” All of us with deciduous trees are getting their rakes out, or “should” in my case. In my state, kids are back in school, on a limited basis. Much of what we think of as autumn is unfolding before us as if nature didn’t even notice the pandemic.

For those of us that experience seasons, one of autumn’s aspects is the undercurrent of urgency. We know that winter will soon be here, and we can’t stop it – many are saying, “Come on! Show what you’ve got! I can take it.” I’m not one of those people, but I admire them.

Fall Cleaning

As part of my fall cleaning, I pull our Scriptures that may have been lying around for the past six months, maybe even a year! A Christian missionary that I dearly miss taught me Matthew 13:52:

And he said to them,Therefore every scribe who has been trained for the kingdom of heaven is like a master of a house, who brings out of his treasure what is new and what is old.

So, briefly, I need to bring out one of my most loved Scriptures. I have it memorized in KJV, but I’ll write it here using the English Standard Version:

The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. – 2 Peter 3:9 (emphasis added)

To Will, Intend, Desire, Wish

I find great comfort in this message from God. And, buried within this verse is a beautiful gem. That word, “wishing,” in the above verse is from the Greek word βουλόμενός and is translated in Young’s Literal Translation as “wanting.” Strong’s Greek Concordance 1014 tells us it means: To will, intend, desire, wish.

I have to say that the King James Version seems to do the best translation of this passage of Scripture. The KJV renders βουλόμενός this way: “not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.

What we learn here is that God’s will is that no one should perish. His desire is for everyone to come to repentance. So, everyone goes to heaven? No. You may rightly say, “God’s will is always accomplished.” Yes, it is, but God is telling us that His intent is for everyone to come to repentance, but true repentance is an act of faith. God doesn’t make anyone accept Him.

Cannot Repent Without Jesus

We are incapable of true repentance. We possess no ability to turn away from our rebellion against God. Only through the act of salvation and the Holy Spirit coming to live in us can we fulfill the confession of repentance we make when we are saved. 

At its core, Christianity is not a religion. Christianity is redemption, regeneration, reconciliation, relationship, and someday, resurrection. God desires that we receive Jesus; that’s why God is patient towards us. 

Cleaning out the Dust

While it’s still autumn, let’s reaffirm our standing with our Lord. Let’s clean out the dust and grime that may have been tracked into our souls. We need to feel the urgency.

You may like: Soul Insulation

Bloom Where You Are Planted

Make it your goal to live a quiet life, minding your own business and working with your hands, just as we instructed you before.1 Thes. 4:11 (NLT)

Video by Oleg Magni from Pexels

Naked Before God

fig leaves

My wife worked as a phlebotomist for a medical lab. Her job was to go to nursing homes and draw blood samples that doctors had ordered for their patients. She told me that she looked down a corridor one day while she was at one of these homes, and an elderly woman was walking towards her. The woman had on her blouse but had forgotten everything below her waist. Suddenly, my wife heard a nurse say, “Margaret, did you forget something!”

Unlike Margaret, Adam, after he sinned, knew he was naked. We learn this in Genesis 3:7, “Then the eyes of both [Adam and Eve] were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths.” 

Naked Before God

Adam and Eve tried to hide their sin, but they were found naked because they’d lost God’s holy covering. Moses, too, felt this pain, for the glory of God, which radiated from him after meeting with God, faded, leaving his face exposed to the people. We read:

When Moses came down from Mount Sinai, with the two tablets of the testimony in his hand as he came down from the mountain, Moses did not know that the skin of his face shone because he had been talking with God. –  Exodus 34:29

Since we have such a hope, we are very bold, not like Moses, who would put a veil over his face so that the Israelites might not gaze at the outcome of what was being brought to an end. – 2 Corinthians 3:12-13

Adam and all his descendants have battled their loss of God’s perfect covering. From simple necklaces to elaborate robes, humanity has tried to hide this forfeiture. Still, people try to hide their sins from God. Our nakedness should be a reminder that sin causes God’s divine covering to be lost, leaving us exposed to God and the world.

Let Us Run

During this time of tumult and trouble that is ripping apart families and friends, neighbors and nations, we need to stop pretending that we’re ok. That’s what Adam and Eve did when they dressed in fig leaves. They were not “ok,” and neither are we. The sins of our nation are our sins. These sins in each of us are exposed to God. We cannot hide them. So let us run to our Father, confess our sins, and repent of our sins that God might remove them and cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9). Let us pray, “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. (Psalm 51:10)” 

I pray that none of us would be a “Margaret.” 


Image by truthseeker08 from Pixabay 

You may like: Art

%d bloggers like this: