“I know the greatness of the LORD — that our Lord is greater than any other god.  The LORD does whatever pleases him throughout all heaven and earth, and on the seas and in their depths.  He causes the clouds to rise over the whole earth.  He sends the lightning with the rain and releases the wind from his storehouses.”  (Psalm 135:5-7, NLT)

More than forty years ago, J. B. Phillips wrote a book (which is still in print, by the way) titled, “Your God is Too Small.”  The title alone provokes the question: How big is your God?

The psalmist, as we see in today’s selection, had a big God.  There is a direct relationship between the size of our problems and the size of our God.  As I heard related several years ago in a sermon by Austin, Texas pastor Gerald Mann: “Big God, small problems.  Small God, big problems.”

Having a God that cannot be bossed, because He is all-powerful; that cannot be bought, because he has infinite resources; is a comfort, a joy, and an arsenal for whatever problems life presents!  – Luther

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“If someone claims, ‘I know God,’ but doesn’t obey God’s commandments, that person is a liar and is not living in the truth.”  (1 John 2:4, NLT)

Here is the essence of knowing God: Obedience to His commandments.

It is not doing great things in God’s name that shows we know Him.  It is not acquiring volumes of knowledge about God that shows we know Him.  It is not the depth of our sacrifice that shows we know God.  To know God is to obey His commandments.

God’s commandments are to love God with all our being; and to love our neighbor as we love ourselves.  (Please see Mark 12:30-31.)

To be sure, to do great things in God’s name; learning all we can about Him; and sacrificing ourselves for His name’s sake are honorable ambitions.  However, unless these and other works begin at God’s initiative, our labor and our accomplishments are in vain.

Let complete obedience to our Creator and our God be our daily goal.  It is only through obedience that we become like Him.  – Luther

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“As you know, everyone from the province of Asia has deserted me — even Phygelus and Hermogenes.  May the Lord show special kindness to Onesiphorus and all his family because he often visited and encouraged me.  He was never ashamed of me because I was in chains.  When he came to Rome, he searched everywhere until he found me.  May the Lord show him special kindness on the day of Christ’s return.  And you know very well how helpful he was in Ephesus.”  (2 Timothy 1:15-18, NIV)

As we can see from today’s scripture reading, even the best of people have bad experiences with friends and associates.  Clearly, Paul was grieved by the desertions of “everyone from the province of Asia” in general; and the desertion of Phygelus and Hermogenes, in particular.

However, he is cheered by the kindnesses of Onesiphorus.

It is telling that Paul uses more than twice the number of words recalling the faithfulness of Onesiphorus than he does for the failures of Phygelus, Hermogenes, and all of the other folks in the Asia province.  Although Paul never denied the reality of the negative, he chose to spend a lot more time — and words — dwelling on the positive.  We should, too.  – Luther

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