This is what stood out to me today in Romans 1:
“For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened.” Rom 1:20-21
The invisible attributes of God are clearly seen and understood, even His eternal power and Godhead, just by the things which He has made, since the creation of the world. When we look out our window, and see families in houses, mothers and fathers and children, water running and trees bearing fruit and plants growing, and seasons cycling through the year — these are the things that can clearly show us the invisible attributes of God. Francis Bacon, the founder of the scientific method, said that “no man … [can] be too well studied in the Book of God’s Word, or in the Book of God’s Works.” (I.e., science, or the natural world; Advancement of Learning).
Sometimes people are without the Book of God’s Word. For many centuries, in the Holy Roman Empire, it was a crime for a private citizen to own a copy of the Book of His Word, and during the Reformation, many valiant men were burned at the stake for translating the Book of His Word into the common language from Latin, and copies of the Book of His Word in the common language, were gathered up and burned in huge bonfires. (So cherish your copy of the Book of His Word; many have died and would die today to own or make available those words more precious than gold.)
And even today, there are many countries in which it is a crime to own or distribute a copy of the Book of His Word. Or, there are nations, in which the Book of His Word is not available in the common tongue, nations that Wycliffe Bible Translators has not yet reached. So, God established two witnesses for Himself (for every fact must be established by two witnesses, Mat 18:16): the Book of His Word, and the Book of His World. Even if a man cannot own a copy of the Book of His Word, he can look out of his window and see with his eyes the Book of His World, which no tyrant can erase or restrain or burn in bonfires.
If a man has children, he can understand the love that Father God has for His children, and the lengths that Father God will go to to save His children from destruction. If a man is married to a wife, he can understand the love the Bridegroom has for His Bride. Likewise, many things about God can be discerned from the Book of God’s World, which is in agreement with the Book of His Word. God is constantly speaking! His Voice is crying out from day to day and night to night, if we will unstop our ears and listen (Psa 19:1-4)!
In verse 21, Paul states that those who knew God, did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, so their thoughts became futile and their hearts became foolish and darkened, and lots of other bad things and deceptions and darkness followed from that. You know, people who know God can be deceived and darkened in their hearts, because of willfulness, stubbornness, or unyieldedness, rebelliousness, and ungratefulness!
All of us have gone through trials that were difficult and unpleasant. But looking back, we can see the fruit of that trial, that it brought us closer to God, or taught us something about ourselves or our walk that needed changing, or brought into closer alignment with God’s ways, so that things would go better for us from now on. Our obedience adds nothing to God. God desires our obedience to Him, because it adds benefits to us. Obedience helps us (Deu 28:1-14). (Go back to the Book of God’s World. Parents do not give their children rules of the house because it benefits the parents. How can a child who eats his vegetables or who goes to bed at 8 o’clock add anything to his parents? But parents, because they love their children, give them rules of the house because it benefits the children if they submit to them.)
So the person who in the middle of a trial gives thanks to God, is a wise person. He exhibits trust in God, that even though things look bad: “I praise You, Lord God, for You are on Your throne! Your love for me has not ended! You have an answer! And even if things are bad over here, I thank You for Your blessings over there! For giving me a family who loves me! I thank You for a roof over my head! I thank You for a meal yesterday!” Or, “I thank You for my salvation in Jesus Christ, which no man or devil can take away!” There is always something to thank God for!
The children of Israel complained in the wilderness in one instance after another. They did not give thanks to God! But God had just delivered them from slavery in the kingdom of Egypt! They were now free men! They had something to be thankful for! They knew God, but they were not thankful, and they became futile in their understanding, and their hearts were darkened. That generation perished in the wilderness and never entered the Promised Land (Num 14:20-23, but read all Exodus and Numbers). All that is in the Torah is history- prophecy. Those things happened to them to instruct us, not to do as they did (1 Cor 10:11)!
Not everyone who knows God, glorifies Him as God, by bowing their knee to His sovereignty (obedience), or by giving Him thanks in the circumstances of their lives (trust).
Trust and obey, for there’s no other way
To be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey! Amen!