Riches, Wisdom and Knowledge

“Oh, how great are God’s riches and wisdom and knowledge! How impossible it is for us to understand his decisions and his ways!”
Romans 11:33 NLT

At the end of a passage where Paul has considered God’s gracious mercy to both His chosen people, Israel, and the Gentiles, or non-Jews, he is overwhelmed by God. Paul cannot get his mind around all that God is and does, and lapses into praise. And failing to fathom the depths of God, he exclaims, “How impossible it is for us to understand his decisions and his ways!” Paul had a very healthy view of God’s greatness and his lowliness. Perhaps he would have considered himself to be a clay pot wondering how the potter created him. But Paul realised that through all the agonising about his people, and when they would be saved, if at all, he realised that, in the end, it is all about God.

As Paul realised, we can never enter God’s domain and think His thoughts and share in His plans. God said in Isaiah 55:8-9, ““My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the Lord. “And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine. For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.” But Paul looked up and received a glimpse of God through a human-limited fog, understanding once again that God’s greatness is beyond his experience. And we realise that as well. We too can only marvel how unlimited God is, in all His ways, thoughts and deeds. 

I heard recently of how a conference speaker was delayed in reaching the departure gate at an airport, to find that her plane was being rolled back from the terminus, and she had missed it. The next one involved a wait of four hours, meaning that she would miss the first conference session. Finally boarding this flight she found herself sitting next to a smartly dressed businessman who opened a conversation, asking what she did for a living. To cut a long story short, the speaker led him to making a decision for Jesus. Did God engineer circumstances to allow His grace to reach someone in desperate need? Someone more important to God than a conference preach? We don’t know God’s plans, but sometimes the circumstances accumulate to the extent that, in hindsight, we see His hand at work.

Paul knew he would never understand God’s ways. But he trusted Him. His life was totally committed to serving God, come what may. And he ended up suffering all sorts of abuse for the sake of the Gospel. He allowed God to use him, whatever the need was. Are we pilgrims totally committed to serving God, regardless of what the cost will be? We aren’t all Pauls of course. But, like the conference speaker, we may find ourselves in a situation that may be inconvenient but one that figures big-time in God’s plans. Whenever things go wrong, upsetting our schedules, perhaps we need to look to see if God is doing something, keeping our eyes and ears open to leverage any opportunities for the sake of the Gospel. 

Paul was overwhelmed in wonder about God’s “riches and wisdom and knowledge”. Everything about God combines to provide an unlimited and total ability to reign and rule over the earth and all who live in it. We pilgrims need to keep our spiritual eyes and ears wide open in obedient service to the One who knows all things.

Dear God. You are the Source of everything. Nothing happens without Your permission. And we trust You with all that we are and all that we have, knowing that You care for us in every way. We thank You and praise You today. Amen.

God Knows Us

“O Lord, You have examined my heart 
and know everything about me.”
‭Psalms‬ ‭139:1‬ ‭NLT‬‬

The thought that God knows everything about us, good and bad, is both comforting and scary at the same time. In the next few verses, the Psalmist, David, goes on to say that God is intimately acquainted with not just what we are doing but even what is about to come out of our mouths. Distance and time are no problem to God. And there is nothing that we can do to escape His presence; should we want to, of course. So if we know all that, why do we get so caught up in doing things that we know would cause God pain? The sins that blight our lives. Actions that are just plain wrong. The Apostle Paul felt that frustration. He wrote in Romans 7, “I have discovered this principle of life – that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong.” Thankfully God forgives us of our sins when we repent. And we allow His life-giving Spirit to lead and guide us, and live within us (Romans 8). 

But back to our Psalm. It gets better and better. The wonder in David’s heart comes out in verse 5, as he remarks that God goes before him and follows him. Can you imagine that? God is there right in front of us, leading the way. Pointing out the pot-holes in life to help us to avoid them. But in case we still stumble and fall, there He is behind us, picking us up and dusting us off. And there’s more – if we look up, there’s His hand of blessing about to touch our heads. It is no wonder that David can’t cope with what it all means, as we read in verse 6. And he continues to meditate on God’s omnipresence, which extends all the way from Heaven to the place the Jews called Sheol (verse 8). And the lovely word picture emerges of David riding “the wings of the morning” and “dwelling by the farthest oceans” (verse 9). And he finishes this section with the thought that God is always there in the dark, because it is light to Him. Perhaps there’s a comforting thought there for people who do have a fear of the dark.

There is an amazing truth in this Psalm. No matter how we view God. No matter if we reject Him and try and run away from Him, He is still there with us. Embracing us. Encouraging us. Blessing us. All because He loves us. So if we’re feeling neglected and unloved today, we are believing a lie. Our enemy, the devil, would want to deprive us of God’s presence and His blessings. But he can’t. We reach out, switching on our God-receptors; switching off our devil-receptors. And because God knows our very thoughts, He will complete the circuit. Connecting us to His throne room. Giving us a glimpse of His wonder. Helping us in our life-pilgrimage, every step of the way.