Cattle On A Thousand Hills Doesn’t Make The Promise We Think It Makes

Awful GlorySo often evangelicals encourage each other to expect the Lord to bless them materially by saying, “After all, our Father owns the cattle on a thousand hills.”  This remark alludes to a verse fragment in Psalm 50. They imply (if not outright declare) that they have unfettered access to material abundance because they claim God as their Father.

Some Scriptures, such as Matthew 6:25-33, assure us that our Heavenly Father will provide the things we need. The Lord indeed takes care of His own, sometimes even giving us much more than we actually need. For example, as I type this article, I’m looking at two of the three blouses my sister sent me as an Easter gift (I wore the other to church yesterday). The Lord definitely blesses His children.

But let’s look at how Psalm 50 uses the clause about God owning the cattle on a thousand hills. Back up to verses 1-6, in which Asaph draws a picture of the majestic Lord summoning His people Continue reading

Flashback Friday: Neglected Trinity

Originally published on February 13, 2016.

“God in three Persons, blessed Trinity!” Hymn singers will undoubtedly recognize that majestic closing line from “Holy, Holy, Holy,” a hymn that praises the magnificence of God by exploring various aspects of His glory. Yet, could our familiarity with the hymn (for Shamrock Shadedthose of us who still sing hymns) cause us to gloss over its doctrinal declaration that the one and only God exists as three distinct Persons–God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit? And how often do we think about the Trinity anyway (except briefly when and if we sing “Holy, Holy, Holy”)?

The doctrine of the Trinity seems to receive very little attention in our present time, perhaps because our inability to “wrap our heads around it” embarrasses us. Of course our analogies of H2O (water, ice and vapor) and shamrocks fall short of providing adequate explanations of  how He could exist as three distinct Persons while being one in essence, and the shortcomings of those illustrations frustrate our desire to present convincing arguments. Mystery makes us uncomfortable. So we avoid the discomfort by simply minimizing or ignoring the topic altogether.

Additionally, few Scriptures state the doctrine in easy-to-use sound-bytes. Don’t misunderstand; the Bible certainly teaches that God is one Being in three distinct, co-existing Persons. But there’s no handy little proof-text to insert into a blog post to settle the question. We’d need separate essays examining the deity of the Father, the deity of the Son (Jesus Christ) and the deity of the Holy Spirit in order to clearly show that Scripture indeed teaches that God is a Triune Being.

Having said that, I’d invite you to examine Christian Apologetics & Resource Ministry‘s compilation of Scriptures at God As A Trinity. In authoring this article, Matt Slick links to several Scriptures that defend the doctrine of the Trinity, making it easy to study. He also counters common objections.

The strategy of neglecting the doctrine of the Trinity may buffer us from a good measure of intellectual discomfort. But that strategy also places people at risk of entering eternity without a true understanding of Who God is. Of Who Jesus is. And that’s very scary, since we must acknowledge Jesus as Lord (which necessarily assumes His deity) as a condition of salvation (Romans 10:9). So, while no human possesses the intellectual capacity to  comprehend how one God can exist in three Persons, it’s essential to understand that this doctrine is true. Jesus and the Holy Spirit are every bit as much God as the Father.

Having lost a dear friend who belonged to a cult that denied the Trinity, I believe it’s imperative that Christians regain an insistence on teaching this vital doctrine to young believers. A year before my friend’s death, I made the opportunity to tell her the true Gospel, and I emphasized the doctrine of the Trinity. Sadly, she gave no indication of accepting what I had to say, but I can hope that the Holy Spirit worked in her heart before she died.

And I pray now that evangelicals will increase the preaching of the Trinity, so people will know God fully. Rather than neglecting the doctrine for the sake of intellectual comfort, let’s boldly embrace it with joyful conviction, firmly established in the testimony of God’s Word. Oh, no one will actually comprehend how He could be a Trinity, since it is something far beyond the scope of our finite minds. But the very wonder of God in three Persons can draw us into worship.  “God in three Persons–blessed Trinity!”

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Giving Thanks Should Have A Direction

2004_0810Plymouth0052Does anyone seriously deny that America has become a secular society?  On the local news this morning, for instance, reporters had difficulty concealing their celebratory attitudes as the first shops to legally sell recreational marijuana opened at 8:00 a.m. today. Two of them. Only shops on the East Coast. Right here in Massachusetts! I grieved over the obvious disregard for God’s standards of sobriety.

Not long after running the story showing the massive amount of people lining up to buy their legal pot, the station ran another story predicting the massive amount of people who will be traveling for the Thanksgiving holiday. Maybe I have a quirky way of viewing things, but it struck me as odd that Americans thumb their noses at the God of the Bible as they flock to celebrate a holiday originally intended as worship for His care and provision.

The Christians who celebrated that first American Thanksgiving (right here in Massachusetts, by the way), called for the feast as an expression of thanks to the Lord for sustaining them through that harsh New England winter and for the abundant harvest that ensuing Fall. (Do public schools still teach that part of American history?) Their thankfulness was more than a nebulous gratitude directed at nobody in particular, but heartfelt thankfulness to a personal Lord Who had lovingly taken care of them.

It’s important to count our blessings. Absolutely! In some ways,  I suppose it’s good that secular people step back and recognize the value of being grateful to something beyond themselves.

At the same time, I feel troubled that so many Americans have such enthusiasm about the Thanksgiving holiday when they demonstrate a total lack of interest in God Himself. As I see it, their nebulous gratitude lacks the beauty and depth of praising the glorious Lord Jesus Christ.

There is none like you among the gods, O Lord,
    nor are there any works like yours.
All the nations you have made shall come
    and worship before you, O Lord,
    and shall glorify your name.
10 For you are great and do wondrous things;
    you alone are God.
11 Teach me your way, O Lord,
    that I may walk in your truth;
    unite my heart to fear your name.
12 I give thanks to you, O Lord my God, with my whole heart,
    and I will glorify your name forever.
13 For great is your steadfast love toward me;
    you have delivered my soul from the depths of Sheol. ~~Psalm 86:8-13 (ESV)

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What Makes You So Great?

When you attend high school reunions, weddings, funerals or other social events, people invariably ask about your accomplishments. Who did  you marry?  What career did you choose?  Where are you sending your kids for college? Where do you spend vacations?

And don’t you love answering that your husband is a prestigious man? Or that your employer absolutely depends on you? Or that your kids each chose well-known universities and consistently make the dean’s list? Or that you’ve been abroad just recently and happen to have pictures on your iPhone.

We love boasting about ourselves!

But as Christians, we should boast only in Jesus Christ and what He has done to save wretches like us. His love should both puzzle us and fill us with overwhelming joy! If we must boast, let us boast in what He has done for us.

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Three Times My Savior

king-jesusOver the last six months, I’ve been praising each Person of the Trinity for His part in my salvation. Have you ever thought about salvation in terms of the Trinity?  I hadn’t until recently, when I started praying prayers of thanksgiving for having been saved from God’s eternal wrath and to eternal life.

The more I think about salvation, the more I understand that God did all the work in bringing me to Himself. In contrast to most of my Christian life, during which I routinely patted myself on the back for deciding to follow Jesus, I now focus on His gracious work to save me. For that reason, when I typed up my 2018 prayer guide in January, I considered how the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit each worked to bring me from death to life.

The Father

God the Father knew that I had absolutely no ability to atone for crimes against Him. I trespassed against His holy standards, and had no way of making an offering that could make up for those violations. Yet the Father loved me (for reasons I’ll never discern) so deeply that He provided an offering for me.

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 (ESV)

Sometimes in prayer I’ll park on that thought for a while, thoroughly fascinated that the Father didn’t even require me to bring my own offering. He had made such requirements of the Old Testament Jews, but in His mercy He supplied the Lamb of God as the perfect offering for my sins. And therefore I thank the Father for His role in my salvation.

The Son

How can I fail to adore the Lord Jesus Christ, Who willingly went to the cross and accepted the punishment for my sins? So many beautiful Scriptures come to mind as I type these words, all testifying to His inexplicable love in offering Himself as the sacrifice for me.

 For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. ~~Romans 5:6 (ESV)

In my weakness and bondage to sin, Jesus Christ died as my substitute. I should have borne the Father’s wrath, but my gracious Savior bore it in my place. I can’t imagine the depth of His suffering as He hung on the cross, naked and bleeding, facing the punishment for sin on behalf of everyone who would believe in Him. Therefore I praise the Son for His role in my salvation.

The Holy Spirit

Ephesians 2:1 says that I was dead in my transgressions. I had no way of reaching out to God, and, for that matter, no real desire for Him. But the Holy Spirit took pity on my wretched condition and mercifully gave me His life.

 he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, ~~Titus 3:5 (ESV)

I thank the Holy Spirit daily for giving me new life in Christ. Through His power, I have the faith necessary to receive salvation. Without Him illuminating God’s Word to me, I would have no hope of understanding my dependence on the shed blood of Jesus to make me right with God. Therefore I honor the Holy Spirit for His role in my salvation.

Each Person of the Trinity has done so much to rescue me from the eternal consequences of my sin and to assure me of everlasting life that I have to worship each of Them! If you’ve never associated the Trinity with your salvation, pick up a Bible and examine passages about each Person and His role in salvation. You might find yourself worshiping Father, Son and Holy Spirit too.

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The Trinity On Sunday Mornings

Two weeks ago, our church sang a beautiful old hymn invoking each member of the Trinity to bless our worship of Him. I delighted in its descriptions of Father, Son and Spirit, intrigued by how each Person works during a church service. It deepens my sense of awe as I enter into corporate worship on Sundays.

Perhaps listening to this hymn, and thinking seriously about the words, will enhance your perspective on Sunday morning worship as you contemplate the Trinity’s intimate involvement in our prayers, our hearing of His Word and our response to Him. I know it gives me a greater sobriety about worship.

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