“The heavens are telling of the glory of God; and their expanse is declaring the work of His hands.” (Psalm 19:1)
Lord, You make the wind blow and cause grass to grow.
You give the birds their wings and a song to sing.
You awaken green in spring
From brown of earth’s sleeping.
You paint sunrise at each morning’s light
And sunset near the edge of night.
You give light and breath to all, great and small.
Awesome, almighty–no measure of Your worth,
Maker of heaven and earth.
To those who seek You, You offer more and better life.
Yes, You bestow unbreakable, eternal life.
All thanks and honor to You, O God Most High.
You give rich, abundant love and grace.
O Worthy Lord, please accept our praise.
“[Ask] the birds of the heavens, and let them tell you. … that the hand of the LORD has done this, In whose hand is the life of every living thing, and the breath of all mankind?” (Job 12:7, 9-10)
(Scriptures are from the New American Standard Bible.)
Advertisers love to proclaim Christmas in July so we’ll buy more stuff. Now how about Thanksgiving in August? The official Thanksgiving holiday is over 3 months away, but I’ve decided to celebrate God’s goodness a few months early. After all, giving thanks to the Lord is always in season.
Let me share one of the things God has used to help me escape and stay out of the pit of a negative outlook on life. About a year and a half ago, our pastor challenged us to write down at least one thing we were thankful for each day from Thanksgiving to Christmas. I accepted the challenge, and wrote a few items down daily for which I was thankful. I decided not to stop at Christmas and have been keeping up my “thanksgiving journal” ever since. I’ve experienced much more of the Lord’s joy since starting this practice.
I hope you have never fallen into ugly habits like whining, complaining and self-pit-y, but they have been too much a part of my personal past. I do praise and thank God and also thank my pastor for helping me start this one simple thing that has made such a difference in my life.
“And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful.” (Colossians 3:15, New Living Translation)
The melody of beginning light and mingled blues and pinks in the skies of sunrise.
The blend of golds and oranges and reds of the waning light of sunset.
A chorus of singing birds and wind in the trees, chattering squirrels and flowers in the breeze at noonday.
Clouds may roll in and shroud the skies in darkness with lightning and thunder and power of strong winds,
Varied voices of God’s people singing praise to Jesus, King of Kings and creator of all things.
Moon and stars and galaxies far, and birds at rest within their nests sound notes of night time.
Near and far, day and night, it’s only right that all things and all people everywhere would lift songs of praise to the God of all.
These thoughts brought to mind the hymn “I Sing the Mighty Power of God” by Isaac Watts.
The lyrics include such lines as: “I sing the mighty power of God, that made the mountains rise,” “I sing the wisdom that ordained the sun to rule the day,” “Lord, how Thy wonders are displayed, where’er I turn my eye,” “…All that borrows life from Thee is ever in Thy care,” with “And everywhere that we can be, Thou, God art present there.” An excellent acapella version of this hymn can be found at I Sing the Mighty Power of God.
Psalm 8:1 “O Lord, our Lord, how excellent is Your name in all the earth, who have set Your glory above the heavens!”
Isaiah 6:3 “And one cried to another and said: ‘Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of His glory!’”
Jeremiah 10:12-13 says, “He has made the earth by His power, He has established the world by His wisdom, and has stretched out the heavens at His discretion. 13 When He utters His voice, there is a multitude of waters in the heavens: And He causes the vapors to ascend from the ends of the earth. He makes lightning for the rain; He brings the wind out of His treasuries.”
(All Scripture quotes are New King James Version.)
Psalms 36:5, 7-8 “Your unfailing love, O Lord, is as vast as the heavens; your faithfulness reaches beyond the clouds…. 7 How precious is your unfailing love, O God! All humanity finds shelter in the shadow of your wings. 8 You feed them from the abundance of your own house, letting them drink from your river of delights” (New Living Translation)
Thank You, Lord, for letting us drink from Your river of delights (or as the New King James puts it, the river of Your pleasures). Thank You for Your written Word, O Lord and for the hymns I grew up with. They seem to me to be gifts of love from Your river of delights. You are so good to us, Lord!
“From our mother’s arms [You have] blessed us on our way with countless gifts of love” (from “Now Thank We All Our God”). Countless gifts of love—like the hymns, the Scriptures, my learning to sing harmony, the help to believe Your love for me as an individual, a song on the radio that calmed one of my fears at just the right time, a letter that calmed me in panic, an ability to read music, the hymn books I have, and on and on. Also Lord, Your nearness, compassion, and tender mercies are gifts of Your love.
Part of the first verse of the hymn “I Am Thine, O Lord,” says, “I have heard Thy voice, and it told Thy love to me.” Yes, every time You speak and help me to hear is a gift that tells Your love to me.
The first 2 verses of “This Is My Father’s World” remind me that You speak to me through nature and that You speak to me everywhere. Thank You!
“Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! For His mercy [or “faithful love”] endures forever.” (Psalms 136:1 New King James Version)
Every good and perfect (appropriate, timely) gift is from You. As Ps. 36:7 says, “How precious is Your unfailing love (lovingkindness), O God!”
One day last winter, I admired the beautifully snow-frosted evergreens along the roadside as we drove to church. The next day I looked out at our bird feeder while the temperature outside was zer0 degrees F. with snow on the ground. How delightful to see the sleek red-wing blackbirds which come to feed along with the handsome junco and stunning cardinals with their less colorful mates! I viewed the many sparrows and the female blackbirds which look like over-sized sparrows. I admired the distinguished- looking chickadee and the tufted titmouse with his regal crest. Even the petite goldfinch comes for seed.
And I prayed, Loving Heavenly Father, Thank You that we can provide a little seed for these Your creatures because of Your provision for us. Thank You for physical eyes and mental capacity to enjoy it. I praise You for the wonder and beauty of Your creation. All glory and praise and thanks to You, mighty, marvelous, creative God! Amen.
Photo credits: From http://www.public-domain-image.com –snowy evergreens picture by Rosendahl, junco picture by Dave Menke. From http://www.publicdomainpictures.net/ –split log feeder picture by Peter Attila Antal.
At a state park recently I took a morning walk among the trees. It had rained the night before, and I saw a stream flowing over large rocks making a couple of delightful cascades, and water pooled in a few low places.
It inspired me to pray, Father God, I love and worship You as Creator of everything. How faithful and merciful You are! Your Spirit is like a mighty river. May I be like a rock pool through which Your Holy Spirit flows, coming in at the depths of my heart and flowing over the top of my life. Let it wash away all the regrets and memories of failures from the past—even from yesterday. Please wash away any sadness or hopelessness that lingers. Stir up bad attitudes and ugliness that keep me from shining Your light in the darkness so I can repent and be clean. Break down any barriers that prevent Your love from filling my heart and flowing out to others. Amen.
Jesus said in John 7:37-38, “…Anyone who is thirsty may come to me! Anyone who believes in me may come and drink! For the Scriptures declare, ‘Rivers of living water will flow from his heart.” —New Living Translation
Father God, all-wise Creator, You are wonderful and amazing. There is no one like You. Your marvelous wisdom and vast knowledge are far beyond our comprehension. We humans are so arrogant sometimes, thinking we know so much. We’ve built robots and developed “smart” phones, computer tablets/notebooks, as well as the Internet which makes massive amounts of information available to great numbers of people. Advances in medicine have enabled healing and/or prevention of much disease. People have invented cars, kitchen appliances, heating units, water wells, and dozens of other things that improve our earthly lives.
And yet, You, Lord, are the giver of all this knowledge and understanding. Compared to yours, even the sum of all human understanding—all that ever was or will be—looks like a microsecond in the midst of millions of millennia. You are Creator; we are created. You are infinite; we are finite.
Only You, Lord, have the wisdom, knowledge, power, and love to take care of this world and its troubles. Your marvelous creation shows us these things time and again. You’ve shown us Your love with blessing after blessing. Not only that, You came to us and became one of us. You died to redeem us from our sin. And You rose in power to give us real life.
Jesus, You came to seek and save that which was lost (Luke 19:10), and that includes me. Thank You for redeeming me. Amen.
Isaiah 55:8-9 “’For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,’ says the Lord. ‘For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts. ‘” New King James Version
In Ephesians 3:14-21, Paul says that he prays for believers “16 that [God] would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, 17 that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height — 19 to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. 20 Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, 21 to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.”
(New King James Version)
Verse 20 is often quoted in assurance of God’s ability to answer some request. But I’m thinking it applies more to the context in verses 16-19 than I’ve really considered before. God is able to do exceedingly abundantly above—
- Strengthening our inner man through His Spirit
- Christ dwelling in our hearts through faith
- Rooting and grounding us in love so we can comprehend the extent of Christ’s love
- Our knowing from experience His love (which is really beyond understanding)
- Our being filled with all the fullness of God
These were the things Paul prayed for the Ephesians, and it’s a wonderful prayer for us followers of Christ to pray for one another. Paul is saying that all glory belongs to God because He can do all this by His power working in the believers, and He can do far more besides.
Lord, You’ve filled our lives with blessing on blessing:
Life overflowing, abundant and true;
Love that is growing and peace everlasting,
The delight of Your presence and mercies ever new.
Only in You, Lord, can we find life worth living.
Thank You for drawing us so we will seek You,
We bless Your great Name with hearts of thanksgiving.
We praise and thank You for all that You do.
And someday we’ll join in the heavenly chorus.
In that day, our journey on earth will be o’er,
And we’ll still have eternity always before us.
Lord, we’ll sing Your praises forever more.