January 9, 2008

Forty-Nine Glimpses of God, Plus One

2008 1501 page14 capUR GOD HAS TEAR DUCTS. AND AS WE SEE in Jesus, He uses them (Luke 19:41). Does He weep like us? Does He dry His eyes? Does He blow His nose? Does His throat tighten? Does His chest ache? I don’t know. But I know that Jesus is acquainted with our sorrows (Isa. 53:3, 4), and that He wept with my wife and me last night.
Jennifer’s annual Christmas tour usually starts the day after Thanksgiving. Because of this, we decorate early for the holidays (the day after Halloween, if I can persuade her). We rig the lights, hang the stockings, and put up our three Christmas trees.
This year (come back with me to 2006) we got a late start. Last night, as we dug through our decorations, we came across a goofy pair of reindeer antlers. It’s the kind of contraption that tasteless pet owners, like us, strap to the heads of their all-too-trusting dogs.
But this year is different because our dog, Beethoven, is no longer with us. He was the kindest, most loving collie you would ever meet. This would’ve been our fourteenth Christmas with him entertaining us with his antlers and Santa hat.
2008 1501 page14We had him put to sleep last summer because of an incurable, degenerative, neurological disease that had decimated his muscles and had overwhelmed him with quiet misery.
We cried last night. But we don’t believe we cried alone.
Whenever tears pour from your eyes, always know there’s another set of tears splashing on the ground beside yours. God weeps when you weep.
This is one of His most endearing characteristics; He’s the God who cares (1 Peter 5:7). He’s the compassionate Father who sets us on His lap, presses us tight against His heart, and lets us wipe our nose on His sleeve as we fall asleep in His arms of hope.1
God not only cries with us; He fixes the problem. All things work together for our good (Rom. 8:28).

Resurrection Power is in His Voice 
Resurrection power is in His voice (John 11:42, 43), and one day His words will reunite us with our loved ones (1 Thess. 4:16-18). I can’t wait, can you? Some midnight morning not long from now, graves will burst open in a cosmic flash of light, and in the twinkling of an eye their sleeping occupants will awaken, reborn into eternal youth and happiness as God clothes them with immortality and eternal peace (1 Cor. 15:51-55). Can you picture it?

Nothing is Too Difficult for the Lord 
Nothing is too difficult for the Lord (Gen. 18:14). Whether it’s resurrecting the dead, creating the planet, or redeeming His children (John 1:3; Eph. 4:17). There isn’t any good thing that God is incapable of doing. The word “can’t” isn’t in God’s dictionary.

Want to know something else about God? He delights in us (Ps. 149:4). That’s the actual word the Bible uses—“delight.”
Do you know what this means? It means that God enjoys us. He’s not being polite when He says He takes pleasure in our company. He likes us. Can you believe it?
We’ve always heard that God is love (1 John 4:8) and that loving us is in His job description (John 3:16, 17). But, in addition, He likes us.
God knows all our secrets—even the ones that make shock jocks blush. He knows the names of every skeleton in our closets. He knows everything about us and more, and He still likes us (John 13:27-38).

He's the God Who Receives 
Why? Because He’s the God who receives.
“Though my father and mother forsake me, the Lord will receive me” (Ps. 27:10).

It’s within His love that I finally feel that my life matters and that I’m worth something—because He considers me His most precious possession (Isa. 43:4). And I’m forever grateful that my value doesn’t depend on what I or others think of me, but on what God thinks of me (Luke 12:7).

He Accepts Us Where We Are 
He accepts us where we are but loves us too much to leave us there (2 Cor. 5:17). For He’s the God who restores, who mends our bruises and heals our souls (Isa. 53). He forgives our sins (1 John 1:9) and remembers them no more (Heb. 10:17).
He’s our friend. He’s always with us. And He promises to never abandon us. In whatever we’re going through today—no matter how difficult, dismal, or discouraging, He’s beside us.2
He’s the God who’s with us in trouble (Ps. 91:15), protects and delivers us (Ps. 91:14, 15); and gives us power to overcome all situations and circumstances (Luke 10:19).
This planet is a museum of evil in a palace of horror, where Satan bribes and bullies to keep us in a constant state of fearful worry and subjection.
But we’re the rich children of a loving heavenly Father who graciously gives us all things. We don’t live in fear, but in trust, for God is our refuge and fortress.3
He Surrounds Us With His Presence
He surrounds us with His presence and shields us with His power (Ps. 27:5). He’s the God of certainty in a permanently uncertain world (Heb. 13:8). “The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?” (Ps. 27:1, NKJV).*
2008 1501 page14He’s the God who gives light, who gives salvation, and who gives strength. In other words, He gives us understanding, power, and the ability to demonstrate His perfect love in an imperfect world that’s searching for life.
Right now, wherever you are and whatever situation you are in, God has your hand and He’s guiding you out of your hardship to lead you into your promised land—for He’s the God who gives you the ability to be prosperous (see Deut. 28). And whatever He calls you to do, He gives you the power to succeed. For He illumines your heart with wisdom and empowers you with grace to soar into abundant life, perfect joy, and eternal freedom.4
Yes, God is all those things and more—much more!
He Wipes Away Our Tears
But today, the thing I love most about Him is this: He is the God who wipes away my tears, and yours, too. For the day is soon coming (Rev. 22:20) when Jesus Christ will sweep us off our feet and carry us up through the midnight clouds of glory, all the way home into forever (John 14:1-3)—to that place where smiles never fade, where tears never fall, and where love never dies.

“Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also there was no more sea. Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, ‘Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away’” (Rev. 21:1-4, NKJV).
*Texts credited to NKJV are from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1979, 1980, 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

1 Lam. 3:22; Matt. 6:9; 1 Tim. 1:1.
2 John 15:14, 15; Matt. 28:20; Heb. 13:5; Isa. 43:2, 3.
3 Mal. 3:10-12; Rom. 8:16; 1 John 3:1; Rom. 8:32; Prov. 3:5, 6; Ps. 91:1, 2.
4 Joshua 1:6-9; James 1:5; Isa. 40:31; John 10:10; John 15:11; Gal. 5:1. 

Lynell LaMountain lives in Jacksonville, Florida, with his wife, Jennifer, and is the founder of Life Ignited, a daily devotional that shares Jesus internationally.