by David Phelps

“Do not wait for leaders; do it alone, person to person.” – Mother Teresa

May, 2016

Last month (Person-2-Person, April, 2016), I mentioned that our Music Director, Amy, couldn’t be in three places at the same time. Our earliest spiritual ancestors believed the same thing about God. In the story of Adam and Eve, sometimes God was there in the Garden of Eden and sometimes God wasn’t (Gen. 3:8). So they could do things—like eating the forbidden fruit (vs. 6-7) or hiding from God (vs. 8)—without God knowing about them (vs. 9). This was a God who could create the heavens and the Earth but who couldn’t see around corners, more of an extraordinary man than the way we think of God today.

Over time, God came to be viewed as omniscient or all knowing, as in Jeremiah 23:24 (New Century Version): “‘No one can hide where I cannot see him,’ says the Lord. ‘I fill all of heaven and earth,’ says the Lord.” Jesus brought these words into the personal realm: “‘Two sparrows cost only a penny, but not even one of them can die without your Father’s knowing it. God even knows how many hairs are on your head. So don’t be afraid. You are worth much more than many sparrows.’” (Matt. 10:29-31 NCV). God was always there watching us.

The earliest disciples came to realize the same thing about Jesus. They knew he wasn’t an ordinary man (Matt. 16:16, Mark 8:29, Luke 9:20, John 3:2) but at first they didn’t fully realize just who he was. One evening, when he and the disciples were in a small boat during a storm, “His followers woke him and said, ‘Teacher, don’t you care that we are drowning!’” (Mark 4:38b NCV). They thought Jesus didn’t know about their trouble, or perhaps that he didn’t care.

It’s easy sometimes to believe God doesn’t know about our troubles or that God doesn’t care, that God is absent or asleep or has more than God can handle. If it weren’t true, we think, there wouldn’t be so much trouble and suffering in the world. Sometimes we might think there wouldn’t be so many bad things in our own lives. But during those times we can say with Jeremiah, “Oh, Lord God, you made the skies and the earth with your very great power. There is nothing too hard for you to do.” (Jer.32:17 NCV).

Deuteronomy 29:29 says “There are some things the Lord our God has kept secret, but there are some things he has let us know. These things belong to us and our children forever so that we will do everything in these teachings.” (NCV). Whatever we know, God knows too, and whatever we don’t know, God also knows. God especially knows what is happening to us, and God cares.

Paul wrote to the church in Rome, “. . . nothing above us, nothing below us, nor anything else in the whole world will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Rom. 8:39 NCV). The only one who can stand between us and God is us. Matthew wrote that, when Jesus was in Nazareth, “. . . he did not do many miracles there because they had no faith.” (Matt. 13:58 NCV). Mark’s gospel goes further and says “Jesus was not able to work any miracles there except to heal a few sick people by putting his hands on them. He was amazed at how many people had no faith.” (Mark 6:5-6a NCV). As far as Mark was concerned, Jesus couldn’t perform miracles when the people didn’t believe.

How often do we fail to receive miracles or blessings because we don’t believe they will happen? We call ourselves people of faith but more often we’re people of doubt. I know it’s true of me. James wrote, “I will show you my faith by what I do.” (Jas. 2:18b NCV). If we believe God can do what God said, we should act like we believe. If we believe in the will of God instead of the won’t of God or the can’t of God, we can show it in our lives. Ultimately, what we believe matters less than what we do about it. People around us can’t see what we believe but they can see what we do, and what we do can show them Christ.

“Oh, Lord God, you made the skies and the earth with your very great power. There is nothing too hard for you to do. . . . You plan and do great things. You see everything that people do, and you reward people for the way they live and for what they do. You did miracles and wonderful things in the land of Egypt. You have continued doing them in Israel and among the other nations even until today.” (Jer. 32:17, 19-20a NCV.)

Copyright © 2016 by David Phelps