Thinking Thoughts About God

June 16, 2019
by Martin Wiles

Psalm 23:1 – The Lord is my shepherd; I have all that I need. (NLT)

I turn God into whatever I think of Him.

Dad was a harsh disciplinarian — at least when I was young. I'm not sure where his ideas of discipline sprang from, because he didn't copy the pattern of his parents or grandparents. Dad went by the book. Severe consequences followed broken rules. His parents were more understanding and lenient.

Dad was also legalistic in his view of God. God had rules and regulations that must be adhered to. When they weren't, discipline followed. God was also a God of love, but He was quick to punish when someone broke His laws — not lenient or understanding.

While growing up, I noticed that Dad's view of God bled over into how he conducted his household. Perhaps his idea of God explains why I had a framed set of rules hung on my bedroom wall — a list of do's and don'ts, accompanied by a set of consequences for breaking each don't.

Dad was right in one sense. God does have rules that He expects me to abide by, and when I choose to break them, consequences follow. I suppose that it was the way Dad carried out the process that coloured my view of God as a harsh deity instead of a loving Saviour.

David knew that God had rules, but he also pictured Him as his shepherd — which paints a different portrait. God disciplined him when he went astray — and he did quite a few times — but He also lovingly guided his life journey.

If I think of God as a harsh disciplinarian — sitting in heaven waiting for me to make a mistake — I might still love Him, but my relationship with Him will be somewhat distant — not close up and personal. On the other hand, if I see Him as a grandfatherly type, I might assume that He'll let me get away with anything without consequence — which He won't.

Jesus showed us the loving characteristics of God that the rules of the religious leaders had almost completely obscured. But He also reminded us that God has standards that He expects us to obey. When my view of God is balanced, I'll obey Him because I love Him and because of what He's done for me, not simply because I'm afraid that He'll punish me if I don't.

Let us think correct thoughts about God, so that we will love Him deeply and serve Him intently.

Prayer: Father, may the thoughts that we think of You cause us to have an accurate picture of who You are. Amen.

About the author:

Martin Wiles <mandmwiles@gmail.com>
Greenwood, South Carolina, USA

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1 Comment

  • PresbyCan Feedback says:

    Thank you for your email devotional. God is love.


    Excellent devotional today Martin!
    Happy Father’s Day.


    Amen Martin. Your dad must have been related to my dad. Must have been a generational issue!


    Thank you, Martin. I had a dad like that, and it took me a long time to understand what you said in this message.


    Thank you, Martin Wiles, for your devotional that builds up to a climax of truth to believe and live by and pray for.
    Keep writing.


    This is such an important message, one I identify with too, in that my father was harsh due to mental illness, even so, he loved God.
    Blessings on your day.


    Hello
    Thank you for sharing. It is amazing how people see God and live accordingly. I am so thankful God is who He is and deals with me with grace and compassion and yet letting me know when I do wrong.
    God bless you and have a great day!!


    Oh my! How I would be interested in that list of rules for behavior! What a fascinating way to describe the details of our understanding of who God is! Helps me. Coming from perhaps even harsher physical consequences, I sure would like to see YOUR list… those ‘old days’ were surely punitive when it came to penalties. Thank you for this thoughtful take on how we see our God personally. Grateful for your sharing today.


    Many people I know have trouble of thinking of God as a loving father because of their own relationship with an earthly father.
    I had friend who found Father’s Day so painful he just went to bed until it was over.
    But it is, I think, only the Holy Spirit who can change that perception.
    One way that happens is to know Jesus Christ.
    Your sharing will, I think, help people who struggle with this issue.


    Hi Martin,
    I really enjoyed reading your devotional today. I have a friend whose parents were brought up by Catholic nuns who beat them when “God was angry with them”. They grew up in terror of God and passed that onto their kids, who are afraid to let Him into their lives. I pray for them. Thank you for sharing that we need to have a balanced view of God.
    Blessings.


    Good stuff as always Martin. Thanks… Grateful that my dad erred on the side of love.

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