Tuesday, October 21, 2014

My Year with Spurgeon #42

Tomorrow
Charles Spurgeon
1856
“Boast not thyself of to-morrow; for thou knowest not what a day may bring forth.”—Proverbs 27:1.
GOD’S MOST holy Word was principally written to inform us of the way to heaven, and to guide us in our path through this world, to the realms of eternal life and light. But as if to teach us that God is not careless concerning our doings in the present scene, and that our benevolent Father is not inattentive to our happiness even in this state, he has furnished us with some excellent and wise maxims, which we may put in practice, not only in spiritual matters, but in temporal affairs also.
Boasting never makes a man any the greater in the esteem of others, nor does it improve the real estate either of his body or soul. Let a man brag as he will, he is none the greater for his bragging; nay, he is the less, for men invariably think the worse of him.
To-day hath no brother, it stands alone, and to-morrow must come alone, and the next and the next, also, must be born into this world without a brother.
I never knew a man who was always hoping to do great things in the future, that ever did much in the present. I never knew a man who intended to make a fortune by-and-bye, who ever saved sixpence a week now.
I think I have given up resolutions now; I have enough of the debris and the rubbish of my resolutions to build a cathedral with, if they could but be turned into stone. Oh! the broken resolutions, the broken vows, all of us have had! Oh! we have raised castles of resolutions, structures of enormous size, that outvied Babylon itself, in all its majesty.
There are great many things we may do with to-morrows. We may not boast of them, but I will tell you what we may do with them if we are the children of God. We may always look forward to them with patience and confidence, that they will work together for our good. We may say of the to-morrows, “I do not boast of them, but I am not frightened at them; I would not glory in them, but I will not tremble about them.”
We may be very easy and very comfortable about to-morrow; we may remember that all our times are in his hands, that all events are at his command; and though we know not all the windings of the path of providence, yet He knows them all. They are all settled in his book, and our times are all ordered by his wisdom.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Monday, October 20, 2014

Book Review: An Arrow Pointing to Heaven

Rich Mullins: An Arrow Pointing to Heaven (A Devotional Biography). James Bryan Smith. 2000. B&H. 272 pages. [Source: Bought]

I first read this one years ago, probably seven or eight years ago. I was inspired to pick it up again after watching the new film, Ragamuffin. I was thinking about writing up a post about the movie itself, but, a few sentences in this book review would probably do just as well.

My thoughts on the film. First, I think this one is a movie for Ragamuffins by Ragamuffins. The point of the film seems to be humanity's brokenness: a need for a Savior, a need for honesty or transparency, a willingness to be vulnerable in community, in the church. It is biographical film about Rich Mullins. The film goes to ugly, uncomfortable places. Places that God is more willing to go than His followers, perhaps. There were scenes that were difficult to watch. There were scenes that I loved, however. The book does a better job, perhaps, of contrasting highs and lows, light and darkness. I did think the movie focused more on the darkness and the misery and the ugliness of life. When the movie was good, it was GREAT. I'm thinking in particular of the scenes where Rich and Brennan Manning are together, and he has been given the assignment (by Brennan) to write a letter to himself from his father.

My thoughts on the book. An Arrow Pointing to Heaven is not a traditional biography, a chronological biography. The book shares some details of his life, from various points in his life. But. It's a devotional biography. It is arranged topically. These are topics or subjects that were important to Rich Mullins. These were topics that came up again and again in his writing, in his songs. Each chapter gives readers a glimpse into Rich Mullins' life, a chance to see what was important to him, and why. The book keeps God very central. It is rich in lessons Mullins learned about the God he loved and served.

The table of contents:

  • First Family: Understanding His Roots
  • Creed: Being Made in the Church
  • The Love of God: Encountering the Reckless, Raging Fury
  • Boy Like Me/Man Like You: Trusting in Jesus
  • Calling Out Your Name: Seeing God in The Beauty of Creation
  • Bound to Come Some Trouble: Growing Through Struggle and Pain
  • My One Thing: Finding Freedom in Simplicity
  • Growing Young: Dealing With Sin and Temptation
  • Brother's Keeper: Learning to Love One Another
  • That Where I Am, There You May Also Be: Meditating on Death and the Life to Come
  • Social Aspects of the Beatitudes (by Rich Mullins)
  • Scared of the Dark (by Rich Mullins)

From the introduction:
Rich Mullins was a man who stood among the ruins--the ruins created by his own faults and failings, the ruins that result from the ravages of time. In the midst of the ruins he pointed to heaven, to the God who bundles our brokenness and heals our wounds. (2)
From "The Love of God: Encountering the Reckless Raging Fury"
It is hard to love an angry God. It is also difficult to see ourselves as God's beloved children if we believe we are worthless. (60)
Whatever else we may think we want, the thing we need is God's love. (63)
The love we are longing for is a love that loves not in spite of but in light of our weaknesses and failures. We long to be loved as we are, with all of our defects known. Only then will we truly feel that we are loved. But this kind of love belongs only to God. We humans are too limited to give it. That is why finding it anywhere except in God is impossible. (63)
Comprehending the love of God was difficult for Rich, but it is no less difficult for any of the rest of us. There is no one who can understand how much and how passionately and how tenderly God loves us. There is nothing that is beyond God, but there is much that is beyond us, and grasping this love is one of them. (66)

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Week in Review: October 12-18

I want to invite you to join me in Celebrating the Bible this November.

ESV:

  • Psalm 90-150
  • Proverbs
  • Ecclesiastes
  • Song of Solomon
  • Isaiah 1-29

KJV (Rainbow Study Bible)

  • Deuteronomy
  • Psalms 28-106
  • Obadiah
  • Jonah
  • Mark 8-16
  • 1 Corinthians
  • 2 Corinthians
  • Galatians
  • James
  • Revelation


MEV

  • Psalms 42-90
  • Matthew
  • Mark 8-16
  • Titus
  • Philemon
  • James
  • 1 Peter
  • 2 Peter


© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Celebrate the Bible, Coming This November

Join me this November to celebrate the Bible. I would encourage you to read and meditate and study Psalm 119 with me. I would encourage you to pick up your Bible and read something. Even if you choose not to dedicate the month to the longest Psalm in the Bible!!! My goal is not to have you fall in love with Psalm 119. My goal is to have you fall in love with God's Word. I want you to "taste and see that the LORD is good!" I want you to join with me in saying, "Oh, magnify the LORD with me, and let us exalt his name together!"

I'll be sharing some resources below. But I'll also be sharing resources throughout the month of November.

Week One, November 1-8

November 1, read Psalm 119
November 2, read and mediate on Psalm 119:1-8
November 3, read and meditate on Psalm 119:9-16
November 4, read and mediate on Psalm 119:17-24
November 5, read and meditate on Psalm 119:25-32
November 6, read and meditate on Psalm 119:33-40
November 7, read and meditate on Psalm 119:41-48
November 8, read Psalm 119 OR read OR listen to John Piper's Scripture the Kindling of Christian Hedonism. It is available to read. It is available to watch as video. It is available to listen on their site, or you can download it.

Week Two, November 9-15

November 9, read and meditate on Psalm 119:49-56
November 10, read and meditate on Psalm 119:57-64
November 11, read and meditate on Psalm 119:65-72
November 12, read and meditate on Psalm 119:73-80
November 13, read and meditate on Psalm 119:81-88
November 14, read and meditate on Psalm 119:89-96
November 15, read Psalm 119 and/OR read J.C. Ryle's Bible Reading

Week Three, November 16-22

November 16, read and meditate on Psalm 119:97-104
November 17, read and meditate on Psalm 119:105-112
November 18, read and meditate on Psalm 119:113-120
November 19, read and meditate on Psalm 119:121-128
November 20, read and meditate on Psalm 119:129-136
November 21, read and meditate on Psalm 119:137-144
November 22, read Psalm 119 and/OR listen to Alistair Begg's sermon How To Know Your Bible and/OR read John MacArthur's post How To Study Your Bible

Week Four, November 23-29

November 23, read and meditate on Psalm 119:145-152
November 24, read and meditate on Psalm 119:153-160
November 25, read and meditate on Psalm 119:161-168
November 26, read and meditate on Psalm 119:169-176
November 27, read Psalm 34
November 28, read Psalm 19
November 29, read Psalm 119 and/OR read Charles Spurgeon's sermon "Christ's Indwelling Word."

So why did I choose Psalm 119 for this little project? Well, I LOVED hosting "Give Thanks" last November which focused on reading the book of Psalms. So I wanted to do something, host something this year. But ever since I've read Kevin DeYoung's Taking God At His Word last spring, I've wanted to do something focusing on the Bible itself.
This book begins in a surprising place: with a love poem. It's not a new poem or a short poem. But it is most definitely a love poem. You may have read it before. You may have sung it, too. It's the longest chapter in the longest book in the longest half of a very long collection of books. Out of 1,189 chapters scattered across 66 books written over the course of two millennia, Psalm 119 is the longest.
I can think of three different reactions to the long, repetitive passion for the word of God in Psalm 119. The first reaction is, “Yeah, right.” This is the attitude of the skeptic, the scoffer, and the cynic. You think to yourself, “It’s nice that ancient people had such respect for God’s laws and God’s words, but we can’t take these things too seriously. We know that humans often put words in God’s mouth for their own purposes. We know that every ‘divine’ word is mixed with human thinking, redaction, and interpretation. The Bible, as we have it, is inspiring in parts, but it’s also antiquated, indecipherable at times, and frankly, incorrect in many places.” The second reaction is “Ho, hum.” You don’t have any particular problems with honoring God’s word or believing the Bible. On paper, you have a high view of the Scriptures. But in practice, you find them tedious and usually irrelevant. You think to yourself, though never voicing this out loud, “Psalm 119 is too long. It’s boring. It’s the worst day in my Bible reading plan. The thing goes on forever and ever saying the same thing. I like Psalm 23 much better.”
If the first reaction is “Yeah, right” and the second reaction is “Ho, hum,” the third possible reaction is “Yes! Yes! Yes!” This is what you cry out when everything in Psalm 119 rings true in your head and resonates in your heart, when the psalmist perfectly captures your passions, your affections, and your actions (or at least what you want them to be). This is when you think to yourself, “I love this psalm because it gives voice to the song in my soul.” The purpose of this book is to get us to fully, sincerely, and consistently embrace this third response. I want all that is in Psalm 119 to be an expression of all that is in our heads and in our hearts. In effect, I’m starting this book with the conclusion. Psalm 119 is the goal. I want to convince you (and make sure I’m convinced myself) that the Bible makes no mistakes, can be understood, cannot be overturned, and is the most important word in your life, the most relevant thing you can read each day. Only when we are convinced of all this can we give a full-throated “Yes! Yes! Yes!” every time we read the Bible’s longest chapter.
© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Bible Review: Rainbow Study Bible

Holman Rainbow Study Bible KJV Edition (New, Improved User-Friendly Design) 10/1/2014. B&H Publishing Group. 1632 pages. [Source: Review copy]

The introduction states,
"The Holman Rainbow Study Bible is a simple yet thorough Bible based upon the premise that every verse of every Bible falls under one of twelve thematic headings. Each of the twelve headings is assigned a different color; then each verse of the Bible is color-coded to the heading to which it is most closely related…The Holman Rainbow Study Bible allows the serious Bible student the opportunity to study and teach the great Bible themes while avoiding a time-consuming or complicated system."
How is the Rainbow Study Bible different from other Bibles? Is it a necessary or beneficial publication? Who is the best match for the Rainbow Study Bible? I hope to answer these questions in this review of the Rainbow Study Bible.

The Rainbow Study Bible is certainly different from other Bibles. There are two things which make this Bible unique. 1) Every verse of the Bible has been color-coded. There are twelve themes and colors. The themes are: God, Discipleship, Love, Faith, Sin, Evil, Salvation, Family, Outreach, Commandments, History, and Prophecy. Each theme--or subject--covers many sub-categories*.

Examples of the twelve themes:

God
5 OT: Ex. 3:6, 2 Chr. 16:9, Ps. 84:11, Is. 42:1-8;  Amos 4:13
5 NT: Matthew 20:28, Acts 11:15-16, 1 Cor. 8:6, 1 John 4:4, Rev. 22:13

Discipleship
5 OT: Gen. 22:3-12, Judges 2:7, Ps. 92:1-3, Jeremiah 32:38-40, Malachi 1:5
5 NT: Luke 9:23-25, Acts 17:11, Romans 12:1-8, Hebrews 12:1, Rev. 7:9-12

Love 
5 OT: Dt. 7:7-8, 2 Kings 2:2-6, Ps. 23:1-3, Is. 49:13, Hab. 3:17-18
5 NT: John 21:15-17, Acts 5:41, Eph. 3:17-19, 1 Peter 3:8-9, Rev. 5:4

Faith
5 OT: Numbers 14:19-20, 2 Samuel 7:18-21, Job 19:25-27, Ez. 18:30-32, Jonah 2:1-7
5 NT: Mark 8:22-25, Acts 12:5, Philippians 1:3-6, James 1:3-8, Rev. 14:12

Sin
5 OT: Ex. 12:29-30, 1 Kings 19:1-2, Ps. 1:4-6, Is. 42:18-20, Hosea 10:13
5 NT: Mt. 8:12, Acts 16:19-24, 1 Cor. 2:14, 1 John 2:15-16, Rev. 9:2

Evil
5 OT: Gn. 3:1-5, Joshua 23:16, Ps. 115:4-8, Is. 5:20, Zechariah 11:16-17
5 NT: Mark 8:32-33, Acts 17:16, 2 Thess. 2:9-10, 2 Peter 2:1-3, Rev. 13:1-8

Salvation
5 OT: Ex. 13:21-22, 2 Samuel 6:9-12, Ps. 27:4-6, Jeremiah 17:7-8, Malachi 4:2-3
5 NT: John 3:14-15, Acts 4:12, Eph. 2:13, 1 John 3:2-3, Rev. 21:1-4

Family
5 OT: Deuteronomy 11:19, Ruth 3:1-6, Proverbs 4:1-4, Jeremiah 29:6, Micah 7:5-6
4 NT: Matthew 1:1-17, Acts 16:1-3, Eph. 6:1-4, 1 Pet. 3:1-7

Outreach
5 OT: Ex 20:22, 1 Samuel 7:3, Ps. 19:1-6, Ez. 33:1-9, Jonah 3:4, 
5 NT: Mt. 5:13-16, Acts 4:13-20, Romans 10:14-15, James 4:11-12, Rev. 14:6-7

Commandments
5 OT: Ex. 34:1-3, Joshua 1:10-15, Job 42:8, Is. 66:20-21, Jonah 1:1-2
5 NT: Mt. 23:8-10, Acts 9:6, Romans 6:3-4, 1 Pet. 2:13-14, Rev 1:19

Prophecy
5 OT: Gn. 9:8-17, 2 Samuel 7:4-17, Ps. 91:1, Ezekiel 37:5-8, Malachi 3:1
5 NT: Mark 13:1-4, Acts 11:5-14, 2 Cor. 5:10, 2 Peter 1:19-21, Rev. 4:1

History
5 OT: Gn. 1:1-2, Joshua 2:1-7, Job 1:3, Is. 7:1-2, Amos 1:1
3 NT: Mt. 3:4-5, John 19:12-14, Acts 10:23-24, 

2) This Bible also uses underlining to emphasize the word of God. When God--Father, Son, Spirit--is speaking, his words are underlined in both testaments. Yes, some Bibles offer readers "Words of Christ in Red." But this Bible goes beyond that.

Genesis 1:26-31:

And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.
So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.
And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.
And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat.And to every beast of the earth, and to every fowl of the air, and to every thing that creepeth upon the earth, wherein there is life, I have given every green herb for meat: and it was so.
And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good. And the evening and the morning were the sixth day.

Acts 13:13

Now there were in the church that was at Antioch certain prophets and teachers; as Barnabas, and Simeon that was called Niger, and Lucius of Cyrene, and Manaen, which had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul.
As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them.
And when they had fasted and prayed, and laid their hands on them, they sent them away.

So the Rainbow Study Bible certainly is unique. It is not just another Bible. 

Is it a necessary or beneficial publication? The second question is definitely trickier. The Rainbow Study Bible is perhaps a little too different to be a great fit for every believer. I could see how some would LOVE it and others dismiss it. (About the color-coding: Too distracting, too overwhelming, too intimidating. About the KJV: too hard to understand, too intimidating.)  

Did I find things to love about the Rainbow Study Bible? Yes. 
  • I loved the size of the font. 
  • I loved the weight of the Bible.
  • I loved how it opens and holds. The pages lay very flat. The margins are wide. No text is hard to read.
  • I loved that it was easy on the eyes. Some might find the colors distracting. I found them soothing on the eyes. 
  • I liked the book introductions. They were concise, but on task.
  • I liked the visual drama. For example, there are a few places in the Bible, where the drama of the story itself is communicated by the colors. Like in Job. Like in Revelation.
  • I liked some of the supplemental study aids. One is called "365 Popular Bible Quotations for Memorization and Meditation." I liked this idea very much. I think it is a good resource. As is the "Harmony of the Gospels." 
Who is the best match for the Rainbow Study Bible? 

I think a love or appreciation for the King James Version of the Bible is a must, if, and only if you choose the KJV Edition of the Holman Rainbow Study Bible. In February 2015, the Rainbow Study Bible will be released in a NIV Edition. 

I think you have to have an open heart/mind to thinking about reading Scripture in a new way. You have to relax a bit. At first it may seem odd and confusing. And even after you get used to it, you may find yourself at times questioning how a verse is color-coded. Scripture is complex. Verses have layers of meaning. One verse might clearly fit one theme and only one theme. But more often verses could fit several themes all at the same time. Some patience and understanding is definitely a good thing. 



I read the following books in the Rainbow Study Bible before writing this review: Deuteronomy, Ruth, half of Psalms, Obadiah, Jonah, Mark, 1 Corinthians, 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Philemon, James, and Revelation.

*Some of the subcategories:

Love: joy; kindness; mercy; mourning; lament; comfort; compassion; peace; sympathy; humility; charity

Faith: prayer; miracles; courage; confession; repentance; fasting; healing; hope; confidence; conviction; belief

Discipleship: obedience; praise; service; worship; spiritual formation; commitment; fellowship; spiritual gifts; fruit

Salvation: blessings; deliverance; holiness; Heaven; the tabernacle; angels; eternity; resurrection; second coming; judgement of the godly; grace

Outreach: teaching; counseling; questioning; instruction; testimony; ministry; preaching; evangelism; gospel; doctrine; sayings

Commandments: offerings; law; priesthood; feasts; Sabbath; tithing; baptism; Lord's supper; church; deacon; growth

Prophecy: promises; covenants; revelations; vows; visions; dreams; oaths; pledges; inspiration; fulfillment; future

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Book Review: A Bride in Store (2014)

A Bride in Store. Melissa Jagears. 2014. Bethany House. 363 pages. [Source: Review copy]

Eliza Cantrell, the heroine, is a mail-order bride. She decided she just couldn't wait any longer and came one week earlier than expected. Her intended groom is a man named Axel. (Did I believe for one second that he would be the hero? No. From the earliest chapters, I knew he was non-essential, that no matter when he entered the story, how he entered the story that Eliza would never, could never be his.) Eliza came by train. A train that happened to be robbed. During the robbery, her face is cut. She arrives in town and discovers that Axel is out of town. His business partner and friend, Will, however is very much in town. He, for one, is happy to welcome her to town. He basically starts fantasizing about Eliza from the moment they meet. He's a doctor, of sorts. Not officially. But he's got the dream bad. He stitches up her face, introduces her around, establishes her at a local boarding house, shows her around the store, in general proving that he's very good at being the nice guy. She's attracted to him as well. Though I don't believe she starts fantasizing about him as quickly. I've mentioned his dream: being a doctor. Eliza's dream is owning a store. It's a family thing. Her brother may have gotten the store when their father died, but, she got the know-how. She's unimpressed with Will and Axel's store. But she's willing to make suggestions for how to improve it to anyone who will listen. Will listens. He doesn't have a problem listening to her talk about her dreams. But the store, well, it isn't his dream. And he doesn't have the money and the time to transform it into something wonderful to please someone else's bride. Axel remains missing for the first half of the book. I don't think I'm exaggerating. During his absence, Will and Eliza get real cozy with one another. Instead of admitting to each other openly that they should be the ones to get married, they cling to the idea of Axel being the one. In some ways, I was irritated with Axel long, long before he shows up. Will Axel and Eliza marry? Will she marry anyone? Will she ever see her dream achieved? Will Will ever pursue his dream of medical school?

I liked A Bride in Store by Melissa Jagears well enough to keep reading. It is the second in a series, and, I'm wondering if I'd read the first book if I would have gotten more out of this one. You never can tell with historical romance series. I can't even decide exactly what it was about A Bride in Store that kept it an almost. Was it the fact that the hero and heroine spend most of their time fantasizing about one another? Maybe. Was it the fact that except for the hero and heroine there is little depth to the characterization? It's certainly possible. Was it the fact that it was all so predictable? Probably not. I don't mind predictable and familiar if I like the characters and writing well enough. 

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

My Year with Spurgeon #41

God in the Covenant
Charles Spurgeon
1856
“I will be their God.”—Jeremiah 31:33.
WHAT A glorious covenant the second covenant is! Well might it be called “a better covenant, which was established upon better promises.” Heb. viii. 6. It is so glorious that the very thought of it is enough to overwhelm the soul, when it discerns the amazing condescension and infinite love of God, in having framed a covenant for such unworthy creatures, for such glorious purposes, with such disinterested motives. It is better than the other covenant, the covenant of works, which was made with Adam; or that covenant which is said to have been made with Israel, on the day when they came out of Egypt. It is better, for it is founded upon a better principle.
Where there is anything of man, there is always a degree of mutability; for creatures, and change, and uncertainty always go together. But since this new covenant hath now nothing whatever to do with the creature, so far as the creature has to do anything, but only so far he is to receive: the idea of change is utterly and entirely gone. It is God’s covenant, and therefore it is an unchanging covenant. If there be something which I am to do in the covenant, then is the covenant insecure; and although happy as Adam, I may yet become miserable as Satan. But if the covenant be all on God’s part, then if my name be in that covenant, my soul is as secure as if I were now walking the golden streets; and if any blessing be in the covenant, I am as certain to receive that blessing as if I already grasped it in my hands; for the promise of God is sure to be followed by fulfilment; the promise never faileth; it always bringeth with it the whole of that which it is intended to convey, and the moment I receive it by faith, I am sure of the blessing itself.
How is GOD ESPECIALLY THE GOD OF HIS OWN CHILDREN? For God is the God of all men, of all creatures; he is the God of the worm, of the flying eagle, of the star, and of the cloud; he is God everywhere. How then is he more my God and your God than he is God of all created things? We answer, that in some things God is the God of all his creatures; but even there, there is a special relationship existing between himself and his chosen creatures, whom he has loved with an everlasting love. And in the next place, there are certain relationships in which God does not exist towards the rest of his creatures, but only towards his own children.
First then, God is the God of all his creatures, seeing that he has the right to decree to do with them as he pleases. He is the Creator of us all: he is the potter, and hath power over the clay, to make of the same lump, one vessel to honor and another to dishonor. However men may sin against God, he is still their God in that sense—that their destiny is immovably in his hand; that he can do with them exactly as he chooses; however they may resent his will, or spurn his good pleasure, yet he can make the wrath of man to praise him, and the remainder of that wrath he can restrain. He is the God of all creatures, absolutely so in the matter of predestination, seeing that he is their Creator, and has an absolute right to do with them as he wills.
But here again he has a special regard to his children, and he is their God even in that sense; for to them, while he exercises the same sovereignty, he exercises it in the way of grace and grace only. He makes them the vessels of mercy, who shall be to his honor for ever; he chooses them out of the ruins of the fall, and makes them heirs of everlasting life, while he suffers the rest of the world to continue in sin, and to consummate their guilt by well-deserved punishment, and thus, while his relationship is the same, so far as his sovereignty is concerned and his right of decree, there is something special in its loving aspect towards his people; and in that sense he is their God.
Again: he is the God of all his creatures, in the sense that he has a right to command obedience of all. He is the God of every man that was ever born into this earth, in the sense that they are bound to obey him. God can command the homage of all his creatures, because he is their Creator, Governor, and Preserver; and all men are, by the fact of their creation, so placed in subjection to him, that they cannot escape the obligation of submission to his laws.
But even here there is something special in regard to the child of God. Though God is the ruler of all men, yet his rule is special towards his children; for he lays aside the sword of his rulership, and in his hand he grasps the rod for his child, not the sword of punitive vengeance. While he gives the world a law upon stone, he gives to his child a law in his heart.
Again: God has a universal power over all his creatures in the character of a Judge. He will “judge the world in righteousness and his people with equity.” He will judge all men with equity it is true; but, as if his people were not of the world, it is added afterwards, “his people with equity.” God is the God of all creatures, we repeat, in the sense that he is their Judge; he will summon them all before his bar, and condemn or acquit them all, but even there, there is something peculiar with regard to his children, for to them the condemnation sentence shall never come, but only the acquittal. While he is Judge of all, he especially is their judge; because he is the judge whom they love to reverence, the judge whom they long to approach, because they know his lips will confirm that which their hearts have already felt—the sentence of their full acquittal through the merits of their glorious Saviour. Our loving God is the Judge who shall acquit our souls, and in that respect we can say he is our God. So, then, whether as Sovereign, or as Governor enforcing law, or as Judge punishing sin; although God is in some sense the God of all men, yet in this matter there is something special towards his people, so that they can say, “He is our God, even in those relationships.”
God is our God in a sense, with which the unregenerate, the unconverted, the unholy, can have no acquaintance, in which they have no share whatever. We have just considered other points with regards to what God is to man generally; let us now consider what he is to us, as he is to none other.
First, then, God is my God, seeing that he is the God of my election. If I be his child, then has he loved me from before all worlds, and his infinite mind has been exercised with plans for my salvation. If he be my God, he has seen me when I have wandered far from him, and when I have rebelled, his mind has determined when I shall be arrested—when I shall be turned from the error of my ways. He has been providing for me the means of grace, he has applied those means of grace in due time, but his everlasting purpose has been the basis and the foundation of it all; and thus he is my God, as he is the God of none else beside his own children. My glorious, gracious God in eternal election; for he thought of me and chose me from before the foundation of the world, that I should be without blame before him in love.
Furthermore, the Christian can call God his God, from the fact of his justification. A sinner can call God—God, but he must always put in an adjective, and speak of God as an angry God, an incensed God, or an offended God. But the Christian can say, “my God,” without putting in any adjective except it be a sweet one wherewithal to extol him; for now we who were sometime afar off are made nigh by the blood of Christ; we who were enemies to God by wicked works are his friends; and looking up to him, we can say, “my God;” for he is my friend, and I am his friend. Enoch could say, “my God,” for he walked with him. Adam could not say, “my God,” when he hid himself beneath the trees of the garden. So that while I, a sinner, run from God, I cannot call him mine; but when I have peace with God, and am brought nigh to him, then indeed is he my God and my friend.
Again: he is the believer’s God by adoption, and in that the sinner hath no part.
I have heard people represent God as the Father of the whole universe. It surprises me that any reader of the Bible should so talk. Paul once quoted a heathen poet, who said that we are his offspring; and it is true in some sense that we are, as having been created by him. But in the high sense in which the term “childhood” is used in the Scripture to express the holy relationship of a regenerate child towards his Father, in that sense none can say, “Our father,” but those who have the “Abba Father” printed on their hearts by the spirit of adoption. Well, by the spirit of adoption, God becomes my God, as he is not the God of others. The Christian has a special claim to God, because God is his Father, as he is not the Father of any else save his brethren.
Oh! Christian, do but consider what it is to have God to be thine own; consider what it is, compared with anything else.
What is heaven, but to be with God, to dwell with him, to realize that God is mine, and I am his? I say I have not a hope beyond that; there is not a promise beyond that; for all promises are couched in this, all hopes are included in this, “I will be their God.”
This is the master-piece of all promises; it is the top-stone of all the great and precious things, which God has provided for his children, “I will be their God.” If we could really grasp it, if it could be applied to our soul and we could understand it, we might clap our hands and say, “Oh! the glory, oh! the glory, oh! the glory of that promise!” it makes a heaven below, and it must make a heaven above, for nothing else will be wanted but that, “I will be their God.”

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible