Appreciating God

19 He made the moon to mark the seasons, and the sun knows when to go down.
20 You bring darkness, it becomes night, and all the beasts of the forest prowl.
21 The lions roar for their prey and seek their food from God.
22 The sun rises, and they steal away; they return and lie down in their dens.
23 Then people go out to their work, to their labor until evening.

24 How many are your works, Lord! In wisdom you made them all; the earth is full of your creatures.
25 There is the sea, vast and spacious, teeming with creatures beyond number—living things both large and small.
26 There the ships go to and fro, and Leviathan, which you formed to frolic there.
27 All creatures look to you to give them their food at the proper time.
28 When you give it to them, they gather it up; when you open your hand, they are satisfied with good things.
29 When you hide your face, they are terrified; when you take away their breath, they die and return to the dust.
30 When you send your Spirit, they are created, and you renew the face of the ground. Psalm 104:19-23

“All of creation depends on God” is the main takeaway from this passage. If He were to withhold his blessing and care, the entire animal kingdom would be in total disarray. It is interesting how the psalm writer has used the natural world to illustrate a subtle but unspoken point, almost to our shame: if the natural world can appreciate God, why can’t we?

Recall it took the children of Israel roamed in the desert for 40 years. They had everything provided for them – everything! And did they behave? Certainly not.

We humans are a fickle lot. We become spoiled and overfed. We play games hard and work little. We get upset when people point this out because it throws a wrench into our thinking.

We’re not responsible for what others do, not even our fellow Believers.

We are only responsible for our own actions.

Those reading this devotional probably have a great appreciation for the God we all serve.

Never let up. Never give in. As the prevailing culture seems to be towering over us like a giant wave, keep pressing in and thanking God for who He is and what He’s done.

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The Parodox

10 He makes springs pour water into the ravines; it flows between the mountains.
11 They give water to all the beasts of the field; the wild donkeys quench their thirst.
12 The birds of the sky nest by the waters; they sing among the branches.
13 He waters the mountains from his upper chambers; the land is satisfied by the fruit of his work.
14 He makes grass grow for the cattle, and plants for people to cultivate—bringing forth food from the earth:
15 wine that gladdens human hearts, oil to make their faces shine, and bread that sustains their hearts.
16 The trees of the Lord are well watered, the cedars of Lebanon that he planted.
17 There the birds make their nests; the stork has its home in the junipers.
18 The high mountains belong to the wild goats; the crags are a refuge for the hyrax. Psalm 104:10-18

Verses 10-14 and 14-18 give a small glimpse into creation as it progresses from the tiny to the large. It’s the traditional ecocycle of nature. What couldn’t be written is the many variations there are of this ecocycle in nature. For instance, the psalm writer only wrote about a few trees, animals, and food. Multiply that by the vast number of living species, plant life, and varieties of food, and you’ll see that the order of the natural and created world is phenomenal.

Our task, then is not to worship this created world, but to worship the God who created it, and to appreciate what we have in the short time we’re on this planet.

I was talking with my wife today in a restaurant, and the thought came to me, “We really have it easy in the United States. No disease. Clean drinking water. Good food. Clean air. We have a very easy life here.”

But as I thought for a second, I also said, “It’s slipping away because of bizarre and disastrous bathroom laws, unrestrained spending, an unelected government class that creates onerous laws to suit their fancy, and enemies who want to destroy this life.”

It’s a great paradox, and only one of the sides will prevail.

Pray for the leaders of this land. Pray that they make wise choices.

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Doing Our Own Thing

3 and lays the beams of his upper chambers on their waters. He makes the clouds his chariot and rides on the wings of the wind.
4 He makes winds his messengers, flames of fire his servants.
5 He set the earth on its foundations; it can never be moved.
6 You covered it with the watery depths as with a garment; the waters stood above the mountains.
7 But at your rebuke the waters fled, at the sound of your thunder they took to flight;
8 they flowed over the mountains, they went down into the valleys, to the place you assigned for them.
9 You set a boundary they cannot cross; never again will they cover the earth. Psalm 104:3-9

From reading this passage, you get a sense that at the snap of His fingers, the created world does God’s bidding, that is, except for the humans who inhabit the created world.

That’s a strange thought, isn’t it?

But it was like that by design. God created us to have free will.

We can choose to praise or not.
We can choose to worship the Creator or not.
We can choose to live according to God’s precepts or not.

The natural world doesn’t have that choice. We of course benefit from most of what the natural world does.

What would our world look like if the waves decided to do their own thing, rain came down when it pleased, the sun came out a few times a year or maybe even skipped a year or two, or the oceans decided to destroy vast tracts of land, or if snow wanted to play a trick on Florida and Texas by dumping six feet in a weekend? Obviously chaos would be the norm.

Those are hypothetical questions but they prove a point. We are our own worst enemy when we “do our own thing” with our lives. When we stray, chaos ensues.

On the other hand, when we submit to Christ daily – and admittedly it can be a struggle – a certain order comes into our lives. We are doing what we’re supposed to be doing.

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No Darkness

Praise the Lord, my soul.
Lord my God, you are very great; you are clothed with splendor and majesty.
2 The Lord wraps himself in light as with a garment; he stretches out the heavens like a tent. Psalm 104:1-2

The imagery the psalm writer gives us here is interesting and vivid.

First we see God in absolute control of everything He touches.

Next we understand that when Jesus said He was the Light of the World, He meant it quite literally. He is wrapped in light. We get the idea that He is totally light.

Moses had to hide in the cleft of a rock because God’s brilliance would have blinded him (Exodus 33:22). Still, Moses’ face shone brightly when he came donw the mountain. Imagine what would have happened had he gotten a glimpse at God!

So the light in this passage is significant because it keeps us “thirsty” for what is to come.

There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light. And they will reign for ever and ever. Revelation 22:5

Hallelujah!

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O My Soul!

20 Praise the Lord, you his angels, you mighty ones who do his bidding, who obey his word.
21 Praise the Lord, all his heavenly hosts, you his servants who do his will.
22 Praise the Lord, all his works everywhere in his dominion.

Praise the Lord, my soul. Psalm 103:20-22

David exhorts the angels, heavenly hosts, and even God’s works to praise Him. They do and they will do just that.

Then, and this is where “the rubber meets the road,” he exhorts his own soul to praise Him.

It’s one thing for every living creature to Praise the Lord, but He wants us to do that.

He wants us to take the time to praise Him.

He wants us to stand before His presence and “let it loose,” whatever that means to each of us.

When we do that, our soul gets fed, and our day is bound to go better.

However, when we don’t do that, our spiritual batteries don’t get recharged and we run on our own strength.

Praise the Lord, my soul. Praise the Lord.

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Ruler of All

The Lord has established his throne in heaven, and his kingdom rules over all. Psalm 103:19

There is nothing that God’s rule does not reach. It may certainly seem like we live in an out of control world, the exact opposite is true.

While it also seems like chaos, corruption, and crime reigns supreme, God will have the final say in all of those matters.

I don’t pretend to understand why He lets much of that go unanswered; I do know that He is in total control of it all.

How do I know this?

Take a look around at creation. Take a look around at your fellow human being. It all could not have just happened by a big bang exploding and somehow putting all the pieces together. It takes an awful lot of faith to believe something like that.

I go back to that old children’s song:

Jesus loves me this I know
For the Bible tells me so
Little ones to him belong
They are weak but He is strong.

Yes, Jesus loves me
Yes, Jesus loves me
Yes, Jesus loves me
The Bible tells me so.

From the tiny babies in the womb to the galaxies in the universe, He is Lord of all.

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Compassion on Dust

13 As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him;
14 for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust.
15 The life of mortals is like grass, they flourish like a flower of the field;
16 the wind blows over it and it is gone, and its place remembers it no more.
17 But from everlasting to everlasting the Lord’s love is with those who fear him, and his righteousness with their children’s children—
18 with those who keep his covenant and remember to obey his precepts. Psalm 103:13-18

It’s pretty amazing if you think about it. God created us from mere dust.

And yet He has compassion on us.

I think about it but don’t get it.

Yes it is true that we are dust, but God fashioned us into something wonderful (Psalm 139).

Why? Why would He do that? What’s so special about this dust?

Again, it goes to the very character of who God is. We can’t fully explain it or understand it, but we can certainly accept it.

This dust is going to make more noise! Glory Hallelujah!

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Deep Deep Love

11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him;
12 as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us. Psalm 103:11-12

Most people when citing this passage emphasize verse 12, but verse 12 couldn’t happen without verse 11.

We don’t know how high heaven is from the earth, but it doesn’t matter.

For those who fear him, His love is immeasurable.

Without limits.

It also tells us He’s thinking about us every which way He can. How awesome is that!

Let the words of this song sink in.

O the deep, deep love of Jesus, vast, unmeasured, boundless, free!
Rolling as a mighty ocean in its fullness over me!
Underneath me, all around me, is the current of Thy love
Leading onward, leading homeward to Thy glorious rest above!

O the deep, deep love of Jesus, spread His praise from shore to shore!
How He loveth, ever loveth, changeth never, nevermore!
How He watches o’er His loved ones, died to call them all His own;
How for them He intercedeth, watcheth o’er them from the throne!

O the deep, deep love of Jesus, love of every love the best!
‘Tis an ocean vast of blessing, ’tis a haven sweet of rest!
O the deep, deep love of Jesus, ’tis a heaven of heavens to me;
And it lifts me up to glory, for it lifts me up to Thee!

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Blessed

9 He will not always accuse, nor will he harbor his anger forever;
10 he does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities. Psalm 103:9-10

I am sure David was thankful that the words he wrote for this part of the song were true. Even though he and his family paid dearly for his sins, it could have been a lot worse for him, and he knew it. Even though he paid a price and had consequences for his actions, God chose to use him.

As sinners, we deserve hell. But by the grace of God through Jesus Christ, He saw fit to save us and allow us into His kingdom. We are certainly not getting what we deserve. Plus He uses us to spread His word and sing His praises throughout the world.

Clearly we are blessed to be in His favor.

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