Have I taken the time today to thank God? Now I tend to take things for granted…my health, safety, material needs. And it’s not until I have some kind of close call or problem that I suddenly stop and thank God for watching out over me! This verse illustrates how God’s great love for us was revealed in the person of His Son, Jesus Christ, Who came to break the chains of sin…the sacrifice of His blood making our atonement. And after accomplishing this miraculous feat, now lives in our hearts. (Luke 17:21) Yes, I have so much to thank God for…His love, grace, mercy, and the very breath in my body.
Another Psalm that goes along with this one is Psalm 9:9-10, “The Lord is a refuge for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble. Those who know Your name will trust in You, for You, Lord, have never forsaken those who trust You.” But when we’re ambushed by sickness or loss, putting our faith and trust in the Lord may be difficult, especially if what we think should happen isn’t materializing. That’s when we start doubting everything…our spiritual strength, our faith level, even our reliance in the Lord. This Psalm talks of surrounding ourselves with Songs of Deliverance. Now Songs of Deliverance were used to not only praise God for bringing them through a battle victoriously, but to recall God’s power and provision in the past, as well as to declare confidence in Him in the future. These songs showed God’s omnipresence and omniscience…that He was present in all places at all times with unlimited authority and understanding. We all have within us a unique and very personal Song of Deliverance. It’s made up of past battles, victories, and how God has worked in our life…and should be used in times of trouble to bolster our faith.
Well it happened yesterday, the Governor of Illinois extended the “Stay at Home Order” for another month. While I’m not surprised, I must admit a groan of disappointment came out of me. What I have especially missed is the meeting together of fellow Believers at Church…and from many conversations with others, I know this is a common feeling. That’s because we are all living stones being built into a Spiritual house called the Church (I Peter 2:5)…but right now the Church as we know it cannot be together…so what do we do? Many weeks ago as I encouraged friends to reach out from their homes using their gifts, talents, and passions, I called it their “Quarantine Ministry” A way of practicing hospitality and works of charity from their homes using what the Lord has given them…their gifts, talents, and passions. And I can only praise God as I watched these friends use what they do well to benefit others! We may be isolating for another 30 days, but that doesn’t mean our acts of generosity should be affected. For God’s work knows no bounds…and helping others is a beautiful act of praising His Name.
Just think…some day we will join in a celebration of praise around the throne of God. We will gather together…a untold throng of humanity from all parts of the world… speaking every language known…yet all together with a common bond. And in a loud voice our praises will rise as one expression of thankfulness and gratitude to our Heavenly Father and to His Son.
The path we follow as Believers is narrow and fraught with potholes…some placed there by the enemy, others we’ve dug ourselves. But no matter how difficult the course, it is the only way to righteousness and life. And as we traverse this path, we will soon discover God’s plan and purpose for us is embedded not in the end result, but in the long and arduous process to get there. For it becomes a daily decision of placing of our hope in our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, not in ourselves…of matching our heart’s desires to His not ours. And as we journey along this way, we are reminded to exalt Him in Psalm 145:2 which says, “Every day I will praise You and extol Your Name for ever and ever.”
The Lord reigns over all, and one day He will return to judge the world with justice. (Acts 17:31) And it tells us here that heaven and earth, the sea and fields… even the trees will rejoice at His coming. But they all may be singing already, for in Psalm 65:9 it says, “You care for the land and water it; You enrich it abundantly.” And because of God’s wonderful care for the earth, starting in verse 13 of Chapter 65, it says the grasslands of the desert overflow, the hills are clothed with gladness, the meadows are covered with flocks, the valleys are mantled with grain, and they all shout for joy and sing. So just imagine, every crash of waves on the shore, every rustle of leaves or ripe grain in the field could be the earth’s way of praising God…we just don’t know the song.
“For the Lord is the great God, the great King above all gods.” (Psalm 95:3) I added the emphasis to make us all think for a moment of just how glorious and awesome God is. He is deserving of our praise and worship… He is God (capitol G)… not all the “little” gods we allow in our life. For when we put our trust in idols (little gods), we’re putting our confidence in worthless and vain man-made objects…not the God that created the heavens and earth. He is the one and only great God above all, and is so worthy of our praise.
The world tells us to do whatever will make us happy at the moment. We’re also encouraged to look out for #1…and that the desire for immediate gratification is normal. But Christians are not called to do what makes us happy…we are called to do what glorifies God. Honoring God in whatever we do will quickly strip away all of our selfish, self-absorbed, self-centered ambitions and behaviors, for we will take on a servant’s heart. And servant-hood is all about others…not about self.
This verse implies… it’s not about us…and it’s not at all about our “righteous acts”. That’s because God’s infinite mercy and kindness towards us isn’t based on our works. It’s actually quite the opposite…for in Isaiah 64:6 it says, “…all our righteous acts are like filthy rags to God.” And if you think about it, we can’t even take any credit for the relationship we have with God…for without the Cross spanning that chasm between God and man, we’d be lost. No, all honor needs to go to God, the Creator and source of everything. All glory needs to be ascribed to Him… for He is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin. (Exodus 34:6)