Earth Worship

Common Sense Stewardship Over A One Of A Kind Planet

We are the earth’s stewards, not its Savior, and while this planet is our home, don’t confuse it with our heaven. We are simply to watch over the created cosmos, being careful not to cross over the thin line that exists between watching and worshiping.

Wise Stewardship of Planet Earth

Read: Psalm 114 // Focus: Psalm 114:3-4, 7-8

“The sea looked and fled, the Jordan turned back; the mountains skipped like rams, the hills like lambs… Tremble, earth, at the presence of the Lord, at the presence of the God of Jacob, who turned the rock into a pool, the hard rock into springs of water.

There is a lot of earth worship going on these days. If you don’t know what I am talking about, pay a little more attention to what is happening in the environmental movement. In my view, a radical form of environmentalism that is tantamount to idolatry has replaced common sense stewardship of the earth. Earth worship, to be precise—the worship of creation over the Creator.

Think about it: Blind loyalty, if not fawning love, is offered to the cosmos, monetary offerings are given to uphold its cause, the words of its high priests are revered without challenge, its message is spread by aggressive followers with the fervor of door-to-door evangelists, and those who don’t readily accept the message are mocked and marginalized.

Sounds like a religion to me!  The Apostle Paul spoke about this in Romans 1:25, “They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen.”

Now don’t get me wrong, I love the earth. I think God brought his ‘A game’ when he created this planet. But don’t miss the point: Like everything else, it was created. And we, as the highest order of God’s creation, were given the assignment to manage the rest of creation on God’s behalf—and that includes lovingly and wisely caring for Planet Earth. But we are the earth’s stewards, not its Savior, and while this planet is our home, don’t confuse it with our heaven. We are simply to watch over the created cosmos, being careful not to cross over the thin line that exists between watching and worshiping.

Grasping this is so important, you see, because the earth actually worships its Creator. (See Romans 8:19-21) That’s what this psalm is about. And though God has put the systems in place that run the physical world day in and day out, season by season, eon after eon, every once in a while he breaks back into it and commands the cosmos to fulfill extraordinary things for his purposes. Those extraordinary acts are, in reality, nothing more than the release of pent up praise the creation longs to give its Creator. In other words, during those extraordinary moments of earth-shattering activity, the planet is praising.

And yet, when the earth simply goes about doing what the earth does—rising and resting with each twenty-four hour period, moving seamlessly from one season to the next—it too, in those ordinary moments, is offering praise to the One who created it and by his mighty power, sustains it. Moment-by-moment, day-by-day, year-by-year, the earth is worshiping.

The creation worships its Creator. What an awesome thing to consider. What an amazing thing to behold. I don’t want to get caught up worshiping something that worships Someone else. Do you? I want to give my worship to the Creator, and as I care for his creation, even then, I am offering him his rightful worship.

Earth worship! Sure go ahead. Join the earth in worship of its Creator.

Making Life Work: Get out your hymnal (that’s a song book we used to use in church) or Google the hymn, Praise To The Lord The Almighty, and sing it back in worship to your Creator.

The Condescending Creator

Reaching Up to the God Who Stoops

God is not an invention; He is the Inventor. And the Great Inventor has taken the initiative to walk among his people.

Tesfa

Read: Psalm 113 // Focus: Psalm 113:5-6

“Who is like the LORD our God, the One who sits enthroned on high, who stoops down to look on the heavens and the earth?”

He is the God who stoops.

No one in a million years could ever have invented a condescending deity like that. Even if we had thought God up, it would have been a long stretch to imagine One moved by interest in the plight of his creation, full of compassion and pity, extending grace and mercy, exuding love and kindness, much less One who actually stoops to do something about it.

The God who stoops—who’d a thunk it?

Whenever man invents god, there you find a deity who is unapproachable, aloof, angry, interested only in his subjects keeping him happy and characteristically impossible to please. But God is not an invention; He is the Inventor. And the Great Inventor has taken the initiative to walk among his people. As John Henry Newman quipped,

I sought to hear the voice of God and climbed the topmost steeple,
But God declared: “Go down again – I dwell among the people.”

A God who dwells among his people! It is no wonder the psalmist begins his song with a hearty, ‘praise the Lord” as he tries to grasp this Condescending Creator. He is a God who condescends to lift his people up and fill their lives with satisfaction: “He raises the poor from the dust and lifts the needy from the ash heap” (Psalm 113:7); he gives them significance: “he seats them with princes, with the princes of his people” (Psalm 113:8); and fills them with unbridled joy: “He settles the childless woman in her home as a happy mother of children” (Psalm 113:9).

He is the God who stoops—imagine that!

And this God who stoops was at his condescending best when he not only walked among his people, but when he became one of them. You see, he was not merely a God who got his hands dirty for a day before returning to the riches of heaven, he became poor for a lifetime so we through his poverty we could become rich for eternity.

“For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich.” (II Corinthians 8:9)

He is the God who stoops!

The late Carl F. H. Henry, arguably America’s preeminent twentieth-century theologian, put it simply, yet profoundly: “Jesus Christ turns life right-side-up, and heaven outside-in.” The Condescending Christ stooped to lift fallen humanity from the quagmire of sin into the undeserved riches and indescribable glory of Almighty God.

Yes, thank God for a Savior who stooped!

Making Life Work: I think a simple and heart-felt “thank you” to God is in order here.

Bad News Immunity

When You Fear the Lord, You Have Nothing to Fear

There is no such thing as bad news for the God-fearing, commandment-keeping believer. I didn’t say they are immune to bad things, only to bad news. You see, when God is on your side, or perhaps more correctly, when you are on God’s side, no matter what, you win—always! And that’s good news.

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Read: Psalm 100 // Focus: Psalm 112:1,7

“Blessed are those who fear the Lord, who find great delight in his commands. They will have no fear of bad news; their hearts are steadfast, trusting in the Lord.”

You’ve heard it said, “no news is good news.” The psalmist puts a different spin on that old bromide: There is no bad news! You see, for the one who “fears the Lord” and “takes delight in his commands” (Psalm 112:1), good things will happen and even bad things will be turned into blessings (Psalm 112:4). Furthermore, God will not only pour out blessings on the one who fears him, but ensures prosperity to their posterity, according to Psalm 112:2,

“Their children will be mighty in the land; the generation of the upright will be blessed.”

When you fear the Lord, you have nothing to fear! (Psalm 112:1,8)

Now I know what you are thinking: “No bad news for the believer—you gotta be kidding!” Yes, there is no such thing as bad news for the God-fearing, commandment-keeping believer. I realize that you could point to any number of faithful people in the Bible—Joseph, David, Daniel, Jeremiah, the disciples, Paul, even Jesus himself—and remind me that they indeed experienced bad news during their respective journeys on earth. And talk about bad news—what about Job? If you were to look up the definition of bad news in the dictionary, you would find Job’s picture there.!

I wholeheartedly agree with your point, but that is not what I am talking about. I didn’t say that the godly are immune to bad things, only to bad news. You see, when God is on your side, or perhaps more correctly, when you are on God’s side, no matter what, you win! And that’s good news. How so? God turns even bad things into good things for you, and while he is at it, he uses them to bring glory to himself as well. That’s what is promised to God-fearing, commandment-keeping believers in his Word. I love how John Newton, the former notorious slave trader who was dramatically and profoundly converted to Christ, put it,

“We serve a gracious Master who knows how to overrule even our mistakes to His glory and our own advantage.”

Wow! No bad news for believers! If you doubt Newton’s theology, take a moment to absorb Roman 8:28,

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who[a] have been called according to his purpose.

Now please don’t think I am promising a pain-free life. I am not; nor is God. What God is promising is to use all the things that occur in your life for his purposes, and even use them as the very catalyst that will conform you to the image of his Son. From that perspective, what others consider bad news you can embrace as good news. So in a very real sense, you, dear God-fearing believer, are immune to bad news.

Now that’s what I call good news!

Making Life Work:Make a list of all the difficult, unwanted things you are facing right now. Once you’ve done that, pray over each one this prayer: God, thank you for using this to shape me!

Built-In Reminders

Ponder Anew What The Almighty Can Do

God wants you, on a regular basis, to call up from your memory banks the things that he has done. He wants you to delight in his sovereign acts and stand in awe of the mighty works his hand. God didn’t perform them only to have the written in the history books. They are to be pondered, delighted in, publically extolled.

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Read: Psalm 111 // Focus: Psalm 111:2

“Great are the works of the LORD; they are pondered by all who delight in them.”

When was the last time you took some time just to remember what God has done? Psalm 111:4 says, “He has caused his wonders to be remembered.” In other words, built into the mighty acts of God is a reminder to remember the One who performed them.

God wants you, on a regular basis, to call up from your memory banks the things that he has done. He wants you to delight in his sovereign acts and stand in awe of the mighty works his hand. God didn’t perform them only to have the written in the history books and then forgotten. They are to be pondered, delighted in, remembered, and as Psalm 111:10 says, they are to lead his people to offer him eternal praise. (Psalm 111:10)

Now there are reasons God has built these reminders to praise and thank him into his mighty acts. The most important reason is the reminder that he is worthy to be adored, plain and simple. But another very pragmatic reason is that it benefits your own soul. Arthur Pink said, “Happy the soul that has been awed by a view of the majesty of God.” But the downside of failing to recognize what God has done is huge. John Piper powerfully points out,

“If you don’t see the greatness of God then all the things that money can buy become very exciting. If you can’t see the sun you will be impressed with a street light. If you’ve never felt thunder and lightning you’ll be impressed with fireworks. And if you turn your back on the greatness and majesty of God you’ll fall in love with a world of shadows and short-lived pleasures.”

Let me suggest a profound way to engage the greatness and majesty of God: read and reflect on Psalm 111 in its entirety. Then take a moment to speak forth your delight in the great things God has done. The psalmist has even provided a wonderful template of praise just for you. For instance,

• You can reflect on the undeserved compassion that God has extended to you. (Psalm 111:3)

• You probably ought to include a verbal gratitude list for the gracious provision he has made for your daily needs.

• While you are thinking about that, thank him for staying true to his character and his promises. (Psalm 111:5)

• You might want to bask in the Divine power that has led to victories in your life. (Psalm 111:6)

• You could add your appreciation for his fair and just rule, too. (Psalm 111:7-8)

• And best of all, why not let the reality of your redemption cause you to be undone with love all over again. (Psalm 111:9)

If you allow yourself some time to ponder anew the past acts of God on behalf of his people, and on your behalf, too, I am sure that nothing but good things will come from it. I can’t think of a downside to a session of praiseful pondering, can you?

Making Life Work: Take a few minutes to listen the hymn, Praise To The Lord, The Almighty, the offer your own heartfelt praise to the Lord, the Almighty! Here is a good link to this beautiful hymn: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BNq0WtMSmIY

The Turbulent End To Gentle Persuasion

Now Is The Time To Make Jesus King Of Your Life!

Here’s the deal: the day is coming when God will call a halt to this current time of gentle persuasion and Jesus will literally return to earth to rule over it in power and glory. And to those who have refused his rule—his words, not mine—he will crush them as with a rod of iron. Today’s a good time to get on the right side.

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Read: Psalm 110 // Focus: Psalm 110:1

The LORD says to my Lord: “Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet.”

Psalm 110 is arguably the most thoroughly messianic of all the psalms. The Holy Spirit inspired King David to write of a future time when the Messiah, his Lord—he who was superior to David and to whom the king of Israel was submissive—would rule the earth as both king and priest (Psalm 110:4), and would rule in wrath and judgment over those who refused his authority (Psalm 110:5-6).

The Lord has sworn and will not change his mind:
“You are a priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.”

The Lord has taken an oath and will not break his vow:
“You are a priest forever in the order of Melchizedek.”
The Lord stands at your right hand to protect you.
He will strike down many kings when his anger erupts.
He will punish the nations
and fill their lands with corpses;
he will shatter heads over the whole earth.

That is what the future holds—for Jesus, for you and me who have willingly submitted to his righteous rule, and for a world that has grown tone deaf despite his ceaseless invitation to bring them under his loving and rightful authority. In this present moment, God is preparing Christ’s enemies for destruction (Psalm 110:1), Christ is representing the needs and concerns of believers in heaven before the Father as our high priest (Psalm 110:4, Hebrews 7:24-26), and the Holy Spirit is calling to world to God through Christ by the preaching of the gospel through the witness of the church (II Corinthians 5:18-22).

But the day is coming when God will call a halt to this current time of gentle persuasion and Jesus will literally and physically return to earth to rule over it in power and glory, and to those who have refused his rule, he will crush them as with a rod of iron. This time of rule is what we refer to as the millennial reign of Christ—the thousand-year period commences with the Second Coming and lasts until the Great White Throne judgment. It will be a time where the Kingdom of God will thoroughly cover the earth from one end to the other.

That time is coming, my friend, and it is coming soon! I urge you then, in light of God’s unbreakable promise, to lovingly and willingly submit to his thorough rule as Messiah, King and High Priest of your body, mind, and heart today.

The Puritan preacher Thomas Brooks wrote, “Christ is a jewel more worth than a thousand worlds, as all know who have Him. Get Him, and get all; miss Him and miss all.” Christ’s full and complete rule over you is only right and fitting! Jesus must be Lord of all, or He is not Lord at all.

Making Life Work: Have you lovingly and willingly submitted to Christ’s thorough rule as Messiah, King and High Priest of your body, mind, and heart today? There is no time like the present!

It’s Lonely At The Top

How To Endure In Your Position of Influence

If you are a leader—in your home, or at school, in your business, in the community or at the church—live for God’s smile, and you will be a great and enduring leader. At least God will think so, and he is really the only one who ultimately counts.

ronald-reagan

Read: Psalm 109 // Focus: Psalm 109:28

“My accusers may curse me if they like, but you will bless me! When they attack me, they will be disgraced! But I, your servant, will go right on rejoicing!”

Can you imagine what it’s like being the president? At any given time, about half the country admires you and thinks you are doing a decent job while the other half can’t wait for you to just go away. And that’s on a good day! It is often much worse than that for the person in the Oval Office. Think about it—it is not uncommon for a sitting president to have sixty to seventy percent of the citizens treat him as if he were Satan’s spawn.

It is hard to imagine why anyone would want that job. And yet, every four years, a herd of politicians line up for their chance to live at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. That can only means one of two things: They are either crazy or they are called. (Actually, there are several other motives we could talk about—but we’ll save that for another time.)

I’m not sure who said it, but there were right: it’s lonely at the top. Leadership at any level is a tough job. In fact, it is not only tough, it can be a lonely, sometimes thankless, even downright painful job. It certainly was for King David.

David is another man whose leadership we tend to romanticize. But if we were able to catch David in a brutally honest moment, I think he would tell us just how unromantic his job was. If we just go by what he says in the psalms, David lived with persistent criticism for a goodly portion of his reign. It might even seem from reading these psalms, which in a way, was nothing more than David’s spiritual journal, that he was a little paranoid. But that was only because people were out to get him.

I think what made David a great leader was how he endured under the pressure. It wasn’t just his amazing victories, his ever-expanding kingdom, his winsome personality or his musical skill, it was his dogged determination to please God. David took his cues from the Chief Justice of the Universe rather than what would make him a more popular leader at the moment.

As you read the entirety of Psalm 109, you will notice yet again that David bookends (verses 1-2 and 30-31) this detailed account of his detractors vicious accusations with his dependence on God:

O God, whom I praise, don’t stand silent and aloof while the wicked slander me and tell lies about me.

But I will give repeated thanks to the Lord, praising him to everyone. For he stands beside the needy, ready to save them from those who condemn them.

Above all, David wanted God’s blessing more than anything—high approval ratings, more power, a larger palace. He simply lived for God’s smile, and that’s what made him great, that’s what fueled his endurance under pressure, that’s what enabled him to run strong and finish well.

If you are a leader—in your home, or at school, in your business, in the community or at the church—live for God’s smile, and you, too, will be a great and enduring leader. At least God will think so, and he is really the only one who ultimately counts.

Making Life Work: Give your president a break. Here is a good rule of thumb: Pray for him or her twice as much as you criticize. Do that, and I’ll bet you dollars to doughnuts that you will quit criticizing the leader of the free world at all.

Confidence!

When You Know The Outcome Before The End

Pray with confidence! God has helped you in the past, given you victory at each turn, supplied your every need and seen you through when there was no way through. After all that, you’re still standing. You will be tomorrow, too. So stand firm today!

Jan 24, 2016; Charlotte, NC, USA; Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton (1) celebrates after scoring a touchdown during the second quarter against the Arizona Cardinals in the NFC Championship football game at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Read: Psalm 108 // Focus: Psalm 108:1

“My heart is steadfast, O God; I will sing and make music with all my soul.”

A few years ago, since I was unable to watch it live, I recorded a pro football game on television in which my favorite team was playing. I’m not normally a big fan of recording anything because I like the sense of watching something “live.” I like knowing the outcome has yet to be determined.

So I broke my own rules and watched a game that had already been played. But also I broke a second rule: I had purposely found out who won the game before I watched it. I didn’t want to waste my time and get all bummed out if my team was going to loose. I know—I’m a fair weather fan! But I’ll tell you what: I watched my team play with a lot more confidence, because I knew they were going to crush the other team.

In a sense, that is what David is doing in this psalm. He is asking God for help in giving him victory over his enemies, but he is doing so confidently, knowing that the outcome has been predetermined. He has viewed the end of the contest in advance, and now he is going back to play the game.

You see, the words of David’s psalm are taken from two previous psalms in which he had cried out to the Lord for help, and in both cases, the Lord heard David and gave him victory. The first of these psalms is Psalm 57:7-11, where David fled into the cave to escape from King Saul. And you know the outcome of that contest: David ultimately triumphed over the murderous efforts of the unhinged Saul. God took care of Saul by taking him out of the picture, and God took care of David, taking all the way to the throne by making him King over all Israel in place of Saul. The second is from Psalm 60:5-12 where God gave David an overwhelming victory against an extremely large Edomite army.

There is something about a past victory that gives you present confidence going into a new battle. When God has helped you in the past, given you victory over the Enemy, supernaturally supplied your need, provided a spiritual breakthrough, seen you through when there seemed to be no way through, you pray a little different in the next crisis. You go to him with greater assurance, firmer expectation, and deeper peace than you might otherwise.

What are you facing this week? Has God helped you in the past? Why wouldn’t he help you again?

As you pray over this situation, call to mind the mighty acts of God from your past—and let the Holy Spirit birth confidence within you for the present. What God has done for you yesterday, because he is the unchanging and dependable God, and because he loves you with an everlasting love, he will do for you today, then again tomorrow and the next day after that!

The outcome has been predetermined. You win! Now, get in there and play the game of your life.

Making Life Work: As you pray over whatever is currently threatening your peace of mind, health, family relationship, financial stability or walk with the Lord, call to mind the mighty acts of God from your past—and let the Holy Spirit birth confidence within you for the present. Consider what God has done for you yesterday—and declare it aloud in your prayer. Then lean into this: because he is the unchanging and dependable God, and because he loves you with an everlasting love, he will do for you today, then again tomorrow and the next day after that!
Making Life Work