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“So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him, male and female He created them…..Then God saw everything He had made and indeed it was very good”  Genesis 1:27,31

“God said to Moses, ‘I AM WHO I AM.'”  Exodus 3:14

God is the Creator.  God is the only Creator!  Please do this for me; look up.  What do you see?  God created that.  Now, look to your left and look to your right.  What do you see?  God created that.  Now, look down (I know, you know what’s coming next but I’m going to ask it anyway). What do you see?  God created that.  Okay, about this time some of you may be wanting to push back saying: Now Doug, when you tell me to look all around I’m seeing things I built, that I “created” or at least were created by another person.  So while I completely acknowledge that it may be true that you or some human being manipulated God’s initial creation to reform it, to build it into something different, that does not alter the fact that God created the initial components of it.  So now that we’ve established the precept that God is the Creator, take a  moment just to be silent and contemplate that all things, visible and invisible, God created………..                                          (okay times up)

Where am I going with this? First, God created some amazing, stunning, powerful beautiful things to be sure.  Yet of all the countless things, stars, flowers, waterfalls; and on and on, only one thing did He declare, upon its creation, that He created in His own image.  Again, stop and really ponder this for a moment.  Of all creation, we are the only things, you and I, that were created based upon God’s image

Next, and this may seem particularly obvious, God is talented at what He does.  Not only is He talented at it, but scripture tells us in Genesis, that God was happy with His creation.  That five out of six days of His creation, He saw what He had created and pronounced it “good” (and when God says something is good you can take it to the bank).  Yet after creating You and I on the sixth day, He, God that is, pronounced something different.  He looked at what He had created in His own image and didn’t just pronounce it good; He pronounced it, that is You and I, very good!

So I’m going to slightly deviate off topic for a moment to cover an aspect, sadly at least for me, which seems to come up within some people of faith when we discuss the creation story.  This particular aspect is that, really only man, that is the male was created in God’s image and the female was created in man’s image so, in some way she is an inferior creation to the male creation.  Or perhaps the male is more “very gooder” (I earnestly and deeply apologize to all English teachers out there) than the female.  However, scripture seems very clear in the passage quoted directly out of Genesis; ….male and female He created them.  It was only after creating them both, did He pronounce their creation, very good.

Now let’s get down to the crux of this posting.  You may be feeling insignificant.  The world may be telling you, you don’t matter.  You may have people tell you that, to make a difference, to be important, you must dress a certain way, act a certain way, step all over your fellow person, have more, be more, make more.  If you don’t fit into the world’s more; you are of little to no value.  You are inconsequential.  Don’t you believe it!  You and I are the only things created in the image of God and proclaimed to be very good.    Also, that Image we are created in did not include big houses, fancy cars, fine clothing or expensive jewelry.  Hardly, in fact we were created nude, with the provisions of God to take care of us.

Yet before we get too high on ourselves and too vain concerning our existence, we must remember; an image is not the same, is not equivalent to the original thing.  You and I are not God.  We are not the Creator.  We are not equal to the Creator.  You and I are not as wise, as powerful, as loving, in short; we are not perfect like the I AM, Our Father in Heaven, God Almighty.  Tragically, we sometimes fall victim to the temptation to believe that the image is as good as the real thing.  Jesus Christ warned of that when He replied to the rich young man who came to ask Him a question and called Him a “good teacher”.  Jesus rebuked the young man telling him that no earthly man is good; only God in Heaven is truly Good.

So the paradox of being the only thing created in the image of God is this; we can be confidently humble.  Confident that God sees value in us.  How do we know?  Because God saw so much value in us that He sent His only Son, Jesus Christ, do die for us and take away our sin.  Humble in that, we are not God.  We can not defeat the power of Satan on our own.  Our plans, our judgements our knowledge, our ability to love is not perfect and, unless we abide in Jesus Christ we can do nothing.  Conversely though, we are promised, and may be the only thing in creation to have this promise, that if we abide in Christ, we can do all things.

Dear Sisters and Brothers; scripture tells us that God created us.  That upon seeing us, He declared His creation very good.  That God loves us and will never abandon us and His Grace will be there for us regardless of what we do.  However, we must also be humble in our understanding that we are not God.  We are fallen and do sin.  That we must have Jesus Christ as our Savior to accomplish anything.  That we are only the image of the I AM, yet even that is enough to find peace and joy and bring praise to the Creator’s Name.

Our Most Gracious Heavenly Father, we are humbled and thankful that You saw fit to create us in Your image and pronounce that creation, very good.  Forgive us when we forget that, although created in Your image, we are not You or equal to You.  Also forgive us when we count Your image to be nothing and value the images of this world more.  Pour out Your Spirit of Truth upon us, testifying of Your Love for us and Your desire to be with us every moment of our existence.  Give us the power to resist the temptation of this world to seek after our own image and instead abide in Yours.  That, in living into Your image, we would bring about Your will for us and the world, through Jesus Christ our Lord and in His Most Holy Name we pray.  Amen

“Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow….”  Matthew 6:34

“I have told you now before it happens, so that when it does happen you will believe…” John 14:29

“Listen to me whom I have called…….I am He, I am the First and I am the Last…I alone am God”  Isiah 48:12

A year has come and is almost gone.  We spend much of this last day of the year, looking back, sometimes in regret at what has happened; sometimes in regret that what has happened is ending.  We also look to the future.  Sometimes that peering into the future can fill us with great fear at the tragedies that might unfold.  Other times that peering can bring about much anticipation at the wonders which are to come.

There are many things out in society that exacerbate this process of remembering and prognosticating.  So many programs are both reviewing the previous 364 days and telling us what we should feel.  Those same programs are looking to the future and telling us what we should be worrying about, planning for, expecting to happen.

This can be the one day each year where it is extremely difficult to focus on what is happening during this 24 hour period.  So knowing that your day is probably very full, I will be brief (I know there were a few “Thank God” at that last phrase) concerning some things the bible, Christ and the Father tell us.

Jesus Christ is very clear about how we should treat this day.  We should treat this day the same as any other.  To look into the past is to spend time contemplating things for which we have no ability to change.  In fact the enemy can use the past to dredge up our failures as well as insults and injuries inflicted by others to argue that life is futile.  To attempt to see the future in any aspect of clarity or definiteness is wasted energy.  The future is only in God’s control and we will never exist in it.  We will only exist in today.  So again, the enemy can use our fixation on the future to keep us cowering in fear or so excited in anticipation that we completely disregard what God has done for us today.

Yet Jesus Christ also knows us.  He knows that we see ourselves in a linear existence.  So He told us things about the future that we would remember He said in the past.  Why?  So that we might believe.  Not only believe the specific thing that He said: (I am going to the Father), but also to believe that Jesus Christ, unlike us, has perfect knowledge of what is going to happen.  If He said it and those things He promised, will come to pass.

Then there is the mystery of God.  The God who told Moses; I AM.  Though I can not explain it, not truly even comprehend it; God’s existence is not a linear progression.  Last January 1, He is there.  Today, He is here.  December 31st, 2014, He is there.  It is not that He was or will be, like we are.  He is.  That means He is in control, completely and unequivocally.

With that knowledge; what should you and I be doing?  Understanding.  Understanding that God is with us completely.  Responding.  It is not that we should never look back or look forward.  It is the attitude with which we cast our gaze back and forth that truly matters.  When we look back, we do so with words of praise and adoration, knowing that whatever the circumstances; God got us through it.  When we look forward, do so with hope and thanksgiving, knowing that God is in control of all things and we will never be forsaken.

Dear brothers and sisters, I pray for blessings, strength, joy, peace and love for you in this new year.  What I know is that our God; I AM, Is and that is more than any of us will ever need.

Our Most Gracious and Heavenly Father, as we move into a new year, we acknowledge that the year is not new for you.  Where we are going, You are there.  Where we are, You are there.  Where we’ve been, You are there.  Thank you Father.  Pour out Your Spirit on each of us that we will rest in Your assurance of I AM, no matter what earthly circumstances we may face.  And may our response to You be praises on our lips and love in our hearts.  In Jesus Christ we pray.  Amen

“Thus you shall say to the children of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you.”   Exodus 3:14

“….and considering the objects of your worship, I even found an altar with the inscription TO THE UNKNOWN GOD…” Acts 17:23

Definition: the formal statement as to the meaning or significance of a word, phrase, idiom, etc.

We tend to be all about definitions.  We can become greatly concerned about the significance of something; is it important or trivial.  For over a decade now we have been a part of an information revolution that is transforming the way we think and as importantly act based on how we define things.  Our sources of information have become vastly greater while at the same time being less certain of their sources.  Voices are becoming ever louder and more numerous trying to sway our opinions and our efforts because of them.

Yet here is the thing.  When we define something we are much saying what it is not as much as we are saying what it is.  If someone is tall, they can not also be short (of course depending on your point of view).  Wise is not foolish, pretty is not ugly; you get my drift.  So it is that we are constantly engaged in the process of defining our world and those whom we find accompanying ourselves in this journey.

Moses wanted a definition.  He knew that those he was going to would want a definition.  He was being sent to a people who truly did not know him; would not have defined Moses as their leader or champion.  He was being sent by God Almighty, their God.  But Moses was a human being.  He was not going to show up descending on a cloud of glory.  No, he was going to walk into their midst.  They will want to know who sent me; Moses reasoned.  They will ask.  What should I respond?  God replies:  I AM WHO I AM.

Paul is in Greece.  He has been walking in the city and seeing many statues to gods (speaking of information age, I in fact had to go look up some definitions).  He would have likely seen statues to gods  and goddesses like Athena, Apollo, Aries, Aphrodite and many more.  These gods by their names were defined:  Athena the goddess of wise counsel, Aries the god or war and so forth.  And in the midst of these statues and their altars of worship stood an alter to a God with no name.  Having no name, this God, would be hard to pin down, just who was this God and what was He the God of; what was He capable of?  Paul knew.

Thus, today the world finds itself asking the same types of questions and if we are not careful we might find ourselves falling into this same trap.  Who is God?  What is this God thing all about?  Explain Him to me; define Him for me that I might believe in Him.  I Am.  I Am is the answer.  What kind of answer is that?  To a people stubbornly believing they have all the wisdom, all the knowledge necessary to comprehend any and all subjects, it is a fools answer.  To us; it is truly the only answer that does and indeed can fit.

For I AM denotes the fact that we can not come to grasp the fundamental nature, the complexity of His existence, the extent of His power that is God.  Our language is too feeble, our concepts too small, our perceptions to erroneous to capture or define the essence of God.  Try to adequately explain the theory of relativity to a two year old (for that matter it floors me) or the nature of love to your pet.  We don’t have the mutual frame of reference around which we can even start the conversation.

So if we are unable to adequately define Him, then how are we supposed to define ourselves in relationship to Him?  I am righteous as He is?  I am wise as He is? I am loving as He is? I am…………..?  Our definitions for ourselves can become muddled and confused.  We are then left with the only definition that truly matters, the only definition that will carry us above the world and its desires to put categories and limits on things.  I am His.  He created me.  He loves me.  He has a plan for me; personally.  I am His.

The world will tell us that definition isn’t good enough.  The enemy will tell us we must search for a greater meaning.  Yet this is it,   whether tall/ short, college educated/ never been to school, wealthy/poor, man/woman, every gender, every nationality; I am His. To the extent that we can live to that definition; oh what a blessed, joy filled, praise worthy life we will lead.

Our Most Gracious and Heavenly Father we proclaim that You are the Great I Am.  We also humbly confess that so often that is not good enough for us.  That we try to limit You through our own definitions and our own standards.  Forgive us Merciful Father, for our arrogance in trying to define You in our terms.  Pour Out Your Spirit upon us Wonderful Father, writing Your name on our hearts and giving us the true desire to make Your Will our own.  That we would declare with sure knowledge that by the gift of Your Son Jesus Christ, we are Yours and that alone is enough of a description.  That being Yours, we would live a faith filled life worthy of Your Praise we pray.  In the Name of Jesus Christ Our Lord and Savior.  Amen

 

 

“And God said to Moses ‘I AM WHO I AM'”………….  Exodus 3:14

“I am the resurrection and the life.”    John 11:25

 

We change.  Depending on our stage in life, physically we may be adding cells leading to growth in our systems like skeletal, muscular, etc.  In other cases we are losing cells (except in my case the cells around my middle…heavy sigh) faster than we are gaining them.  We may change through our experiences, adding to our wisdom or perhaps our cynicism depending on our point of view.  Our actions may change based on our access to resources to acquire things, to move and see things, to share things.  In so many ways; ways we want to, ways we don’t want to, ways we hope to, ways we fear, we change.

Because we change, our outlook is linear.  We think and act in terms of time.  We analyze and we plan.  As we look at today, we say today is largely based on what has happened prior to today to bring me here as well as a significant part of today should be spent planning to impact the “today” which will come tomorrow.  If we are not careful, the amount of time we focus today, in analyzing the previous todays, and the amount of time we focus today, on what the next day’s “today” should be like, will leave us precious little today to actually experience today (Sorry if you need to read that again and if it still makes no sense, write it off to a lack of my second cup of coffee).

So first, I am not stating that there is no value in contemplating the past or thinking about, even planning for the future.  I believe repentance demands that we look at our past actions to understand the nature and impact of our specific sins; thus allowing us to express,  both the sorrow in our confession and desire to change.  In fulfilling God’s plan, Solomon had to plan how to complete the temple, Paul had plans to go to Rome, Jesus Christ planned to go to Jerusalem.

Yet here is the mystery, at least for me.  God, and in God I mean God the Father, God the Son, Jesus Christ, and God the Holy Spirit, exist in a realm where time, may not exist at all or if it does, is completely irrelevant.  In God’s first direct encounter with Moses; He states that He is the God of Abraham, God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.  Jesus Christ would later use this quote to show the Sadducees where they were wrong in saying there was no resurrection.  In naming those historical names He stated them in the present tense.  It also seems to me that in stating it in that way, He is also saying, I AM the same God.  It seems He was telling Moses; during a time, you would call the past, I AM, the exact same Perfect I AM that is before you today.  Jesus Christ stands before Mary, Martha, His disciples and others gathered at Lazarus’s tomb.  Jesus tells them that Lazarus will rise.  Martha believes Jesus, but she is thinking linearly.  She says:  “I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day” (italics added).  Jesus does not mean it linearly.  “I AM  the resurrection and the life.”, Jesus responds (bold and italics added).  To punctuate his statement; He raises Lazarus right then and there.

Proverbs and Jesus Christ teach us, that while it is not a sin to plan, to be careful about how much worry and focus we put on our own plans.  Are we seeking in our plans and more importantly today; living to seek first the Kingdom of God.  It is often eloquently stated in the Psalms and Jesus teaches as well, not to dwell, especially concerning the pain and sinfulness of past.  For in believing in Him and following Him, today we are new and our past is forgiven and forgotten.

I certainly can’t grasp, let alone explain the mystery of I AM.  The ability to be eternally present, at every point in history, at exactly the same time (even words are inadequate to describe the concept…at least for me).  The power IS that God is  with me; ALWAYS.  Knowing that I am in a linear existence; His plans are set up that way.  There are people I am supposed to meet, places I will be and so many other things I can’t even begin to think about.  But and this is the important But, He knows, because He has been there.  For Him, what is now and what will be is a simultaneous existence.  And the Promise is the I AM.  I AM will never forsake you.  I AM will never stop loving you.  I AM is my resurrection; TODAY.

The world tells us we are a product of our past and our destiny is in the future.  The world wants to elevate the importance of me to the pinnacle, saying if I will study my past to learn from it and focus on planning my future, I will truly be successful.  Our Heavenly Father asks; Believe that I AM.  Yesterday, today and tomorrow, I AM the same I AM.  I Am the perfect Creator, I AM the perfect Sustainer, I AM the only Resurrection.  I AM Love.

Our Most Gracious and Heavenly Father.  As I pray “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven…..”, help me to see the “as it is in heaven” is eternal.  Guide me to an existence where I live, knowing that you are “I AM” even if I can’t understand it.  Lead me from the temptation, Heavenly Father, to stray from Your, I AM, to my own, I was and I will be.  Give me a humble spirit, that seeks to obey and constantly praises the relationship of I AM.  And thank you Most Gracious Heavenly Father, that through Your Mercy, Grace and Love, You have decided to be my I AM.  In the name of Jesus Christ I/we pray.

Amen

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