Bless the Lord O my soul, and all that is within me bless His Holy Name!
O Lord, You paint the eastern sky with sunrise every morning,
And at end of day You brush sunset colors over the opposite canvas.
Dark of night reveals the multitude of stars which populate the heavens.
Your creation praises You! I will join them with a song of joy.
I will praise and thank You for the symphony of blooms in our front yard.
The Bridal Veil and Forsythia blooms began the melody.
Then the Bradford Pears added their white-frosted branches to the mix.
Their flowers faded out, but the lilacs chimed in with their fragrant purplish mounds.
Our Spirea bushes pour forth fountains of flowers.
The flowering cherry trees add their own notes of beauty.
And daffodils, daylilies, and irises of various hues complete the chorus
To You, the Maker of heaven and earth.
Let Your people praise You! Let all the people praise You, Creator and Lord!
People can admire creation’s beauty and write about its loveliness. Some can paint replicas of nature on canvas. But we couldn’t begin to create life. You alone create living things, whether plant or animal.
You are the awesome, amazing, living God! Let everything that has breath praise You! Amen.
From the hymn “God Who Touchest Earth with Beauty”
photo by Tricia Opitz
God, who touchest earth with beauty, Make me lovely too; With Thy Spirit re-create me, Make my heart anew.
Like Thy springs and running waters, Make me crystal pure; Like Thy rocks of towering grandeur, Make me strong and sure.
Like Thy dancing waves in sunlight, Make me glad and free; Like the straightness of the pine trees, Let me upright be. …
(Lyrics by Mary S. Edgar; music by Frederick Arthur Gore-Ouseley)
(Source – Baptist Hymn Book )
One of my favorite names for God is “Maker of Heaven and Earth” because it spoke peace to me in a crisis a few years back. At that time I searched for comfort one night by leafing through the Psalms. I came upon Psalm 124:8—“Our help is in the name of the Lord, Who made heaven and earth (NKJV).” I could relax. No matter what happened, my hope was in the God who made heaven and earth. It would be all right.
So when God points out to Job in Job 38 the greatness of His creative acts, I’m reminded to praise the name of the Lord who made heaven and earth.
Some things to praise God for from Job 38:4-11 NIV:
You, Lord God,
- Laid the earth’s foundations;
- Marked off its dimensions;
- Shut up the sea behind doors when it first burst forth;
- Clothed it with clouds;
- Wrapped the sea in darkness;
- Fixed limits for it;
- Told the sea, “You can come this far, no farther,” and “Here is where your proud waves halt.” (And it obeyed.)
“Praise to the Lord, the Almighty, the King of creation. Oh, my soul, praise Him, for He is my help and salvation! All ye who hear, now to His temple draw near. Join me in glad adoration.”–from the hymn ”Praise to the Lord the Almighty” (lyrics and video at https://www.godtube.com/popular-hymns/praise-to-the-lord-the-almighty/
When the people of Israel witnessed God’s thunder, lightning, trumpet sound, and smoking mountain at Sinai, they “trembled and stood afar off” (Exodus 20:18).” “And Moses said to the people, ‘Do not fear for God has come to test you, and that His fear may be before you, so that you may not sin’” (Exodus 20:20 New King James Version– NKJV).
Psalm 5:7-8 (NKJV) says, “…In fear of You I will worship toward your holy temple. 8 Lead me, O Lord, in Your righteousness because of my enemies; make Your way straight before my face.”
Father, I pray that I will learn to fear You as I ought. Teach me the “fear of the Lord” so that I worship only You. Lead me in paths of righteousness for Your name’s sake (Psalm 5:8 and 23:3). Make Your way straight before me (Psalm 5:8), giving me grace to walk in the path of Your commandments, for I delight in it (Psalm 119:35). Amen.
How wonderful that God uses evil to bring about good! There’s the familiar story of Joseph’s being sold into slavery in Egypt and rising to power second only to Pharaoh. He told his brothers when they feared retaliation that what they meant for evil, God meant for good (to save many people alive).
In Jonah 1, God sent a violent storm on the sea where a Phoenician ship carried a disobedient prophet Jonah. In Jonah 1:16, the sailors, who before had worshiped “local” gods, made sacrifices to the living God and vowed to serve Him.
Behold the cross! God took the evil of the crucifixion of His innocent Son and used it to redeem all of humankind. He laid all of our sin on Jesus so that all who believe in Jesus the Christ (Messiah) will be forgiven of their sin and will have eternal fellowship with our triune God.
The believing in and receiving Christ begins the everlasting life with Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. And along the way, I see God redeeming the brokenness in my life, using what others mean for evil and even my own failures for my good and His glory.
Indeed, God causes even the wrath of man to praise Him (Psalm 76:10a).
“God overrules human sin for His glory and the ultimate good of mankind.” –from the devotional booklet “Our Daily Bread,” 11-19-14, note on Genesis 50:15-21.
I love it that God overrules sin for His glory and our good! I can just see a courtroom. Mr. Sin stands up with an objection to good and right. But God is the judge. The gavel comes down, and God, being far more powerful than sin or Satan, says with all authority, “Overruled.” Then God proceeds to bring good out of the evil. (Romans 8:28—“ And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.” New Living Translation)
God (through Paul) tells us to overcome evil with good (Romans 12:21). As we do, we’re being like our Father God. So I want to pray the prayer of St. Francis of Assisi which says:
“Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace. Where there is hatred, let me sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; where there is sadness, joy.
“O, Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console; to be understood as to understand; to be loved as to love; For it is in giving that we receive; it is in pardoning that we are pardoned; it is in dying that we are born again to eternal life.”
The Commander of the Lord’s army gave Joshua instructions for conquering Jericho. All the soldiers, as well as seven priests carrying trumpets, were to march around the city once a day for six days. The Ark of the Covenant (representing God’s presence) was to be carried behind the priests. On the seventh day, they were to march around seven times, the priests would blow the trumpets, and everyone would shout. The walls would fall, and the city could be overcome.
So was it the marching, the trumpets sounding, or the shouting that brought the walls down? Or all three? I believe that the obedience of Joshua and the Israelites opened the way for God’s powerful Spirit to destroy the walls. Zechariah 4:6 says regarding Zerubbabel’s work on rebuilding the temple, “’Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,’ says the Lord of hosts.”
When I encounter seeming impossibilities, I need to listen to the Lord and obey Him completely. That will open the way for God to accomplish His purposes in and through me. Those who wait on the Lord renew their strength (Isaiah 40:31). Lord, please teach me to wait to hear and then obey. Amen.
Genesis 41:16 (New Living Translation) says, “’It is beyond my power to [interpret dreams],’ Joseph [told Pharaoh]. ‘But God can tell you what [the dream] means and set you at ease.’” In The Message, “set you at ease” is “set Pharaoh’s mind at ease.”
It’s often beyond human power to do things. That’s why a doctor may say, “We’ve done all we can.” Those with faith may even add, “It’s up to God now.” Also, when I’ve sought help for problems from human beings, I’ve often been asking more than they can give.
But God is healer, problem-solver, dream-interpreter, provider, peace-giver, source of wisdom, and so much more! He can give us peace of mind. I need to seek Him always, because human power and human wisdom are limited, but He is almighty. And because He is all-wise, He will do what is the very best.
I’m not saying that God doesn’t use people, because He does. He used Joseph to interpret the dreams. But Joseph was careful to give God the glory because the interpretation was from Him. I want to remember to acknowledge and glorify God for every grace and gift I receive also.
Isaiah 40:25 “‘To whom will you compare me? Who is my equal?’ asks the Holy One.”
I see beautiful clothes, lovely and fair,
But consider the cardinal, dressed beyond compare.
Who made the cardinal and dressed him so fine?
Our great Creator, the Lord of design.
What art of man compares to what God has done?
Or what feat matches His power? There’s not even one.
Lord, You are awesome, sovereign over all.
Yet You’ve chosen to love us, both great and small.
Your wisdom is broader than the universe vast,
And Your power is stronger than imagination can grasp.
Your mercy and favor, Your grace and Your love—
Overwhelming and humbling, such gifts from above!
Walking in His Love
Colossians 3:12-13 “Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. 13 Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.”
Knowing I am beloved to God puts joy and love in my heart. The more I’m rooted in this truth, the more I can be merciful, kind, and forgiving to others. The more I recognize His magnificence, might and total adequacy and my own powerlessness and inadequacy, the more I want to praise and thank Him and bring Him glory.
(Both Scriptures New Living Translation. Picture courtesy Public Domain image.com, Dr. Thomas G. Barnes, creator.)
One of the things Pastor Tom talks about here is the fact that the cross is JUSTICE for sin. “Jesus, by his suffering, has endured what sin deserves–all sin. …You can’t just…say ‘it doesn’t matter.’ You can’t say, ‘You’ll make it up next time you’re re-incarnated.” Nor can you say, “Do your best, and God forgives the rest.” No, sin must be accounted for. Justice must be done. Excellent sermon.
God’s grace is free to us, but it was not free to Him. It was very costly. It is free in the same sense that a diamond is free to the girl who is getting engaged. It is freely given, but it cost the giver a great deal. And like the diamond engagement ring, it is offered not just as a trinket, but as an invitation into a lifelong relationship that will change the course of our future forever.
To listen to the sermon, click the play button:
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LIFE FROM DEATH
On Good Friday, we remember the crucifixion of Jesus – how we was killed by torture on a Roman cross. On Easter Sunday, we celebrate his resurrection – the fact that he…
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Psalm 67:2 “May your ways be known throughout the earth, your saving power among people everywhere.”
John 14:6 “Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.” (Both quotes New Living Translation)
Yes, Father, Your saving power is Jesus crucified and raised to life. Through His shed blood, I can approach Your throne of grace, covered with His righteousness. There I can receive mercy for my faults and failures, as well as help for each day’s living. You’ve made us who believe in Jesus Your children and Your representatives. Thank You. Please help us represent You well and to make You known to people everywhere. Amen.
Thoughts on John 6:44-47
Jesus says in John 6:44 that no one can come to Him unless the Father draws the person. However, in verse 45 He says that the Father draws everyone who hears and learns from Him(the Father). Then in verse 46, Jesus says no one except He, Himself, has seen the Father, so apparently people can hear and learn from the Father without seeing Him directly.
Indeed the Father has been revealing Himself through nature, through His interactions with people and through His Word throughout history. Then at the right time, He revealed Himself through Jesus. Those who receive and believe Jesus have abundant, eternal life through Him.
Eternal, loving Father, thank You for revealing Yourself to us. Please open our ears to hear Your voice. Thank You for placing all our sin on Jesus at the cross. Let me live only for You today. Let me have the humble mind in me that was in Christ Jesus in all my interactions with others. Amen.
(See also Hebrews 4:16, John 1:12, II Corinthians 5:20, and Philippians 2:5)