Without repeating themes from the previous days this week, like the punishment of Israel or the reconstruction of the remnants of Jacob, we’re going to focus on one verse in particular.
“It will come about at that time That I will search Jerusalem with lamps, And I will punish the men Who are stagnant in spirit, Who say in their hearts, ‘The Lord will not do good or evil!’ ” (Zephaniah 1:12)
These words of God issue a strong warning to a multitude of people, many of whom are within our churches. Similar to the warning issued by Jesus about not having a lukewarm faith, here God is warning us to increase our own. The follow up to that is when those who are stagnant in spirit then say “The Lord will not do good or evil”, It is stated that God will indeed punish them. This draws me to think of Romans eight, when Paul writes about either being in the flesh or the spirit.
It is my understanding that you are either living in the flesh or in the spirit. There isn’t really a way to balance it. The people saying that “The Lord will not do good or evil” are trying to balance and will receive punishment.
I am reminded of a saying I have heard from an elder in my church that goes like “Being a Christian requires more than being a ‘good ole boy.’ ” The older I get, the more I realize that is much too prevalent in our world. Too many think that just being a good person is all there is to living for God.
It is my encouragement to all readers today to structure a prayer along with the wishes of the apostles in Luke 17:5. “Increase our faith!” When we become on fire for God and don’t remain lukewarm we can truly experience what God has required of us. To fully dedicate our lives, as a living sacrifice.
How would you describe the stagnant in spirit or those with a lukewarm faith? What are their attitudes toward God? Where do you see this today?
Do you want your faith to grow? If so, definitely pray for it! Then what? How badly do you want your faith to grow? What are you willing to change in your life, your schedule, your speech, your heart, your priorities in order to see your faith grow?
While deciding what to write for each day this week I was quite confused about the second chapter of the prophet Nahum. The book at face value is a prophecy of a military assault on Nineveh. Verses one and two call the people of Nineveh to battle. Verses three through seven go through the visions of the battle. Using phrases like “Chariots rage in the streets” and “The palace is dissolved” or my personal favorite, “They run like lightning.” Close to the end of this section is the phrase “She shall be led away captive.” Nahum saw the outcome of the battle and knew that Nineveh would eventually fall to the hands of this mighty army. In verses eight through twelve, is the prophecy of Nineveh crumbling and being looted after the war. “Take spoil of silver! Take spoil of gold! There is no end of treasure, or wealth of every desirable prize.” Nineveh was seriously gone.
“I am against you,” declares the LORD Almighty. “I will burn up your chariots in smoke, and the sword will devour your young lions. I will leave you no prey on the earth. The voices of your messengers will no longer be heard.”
That was Nahum 2:13. The direct quote from God, the LORD Almighty, was that he was against Nineveh. While reading a commentary about this, the author quoted Romans 8:31 “…If God is for us then who can stop us.” The author followed it up with the question “If God is against you, who can be for you?”
This small chapter of the Bible is one that may not be entertaining at first glance but there at the end, ask yourself the question; “Would God have a reason to be against me?”
Pray for discernment of all things in your life, and repent. Get right with what rules God has laid out for us to follow, so that God will be for us.
Really, ask yourself the question, “Would God have a reason to be against me?” Pray for discernment, examine yourself and repent.
Are there any of God’s rules that you need to work a bit harder at following? Which ones
How would you answer question 1 in light of Romans 3:23? What does Jesus’ sacrifice for your forgiveness mean to you? Does this mean you can sin now?
Peter draws to attention the fact that in the history of Israel, false prophets arose among the people and the same thing will happen in the church age… False teachers will arise, so we must be on the watch. If many will follow, we must be watchful and call out these false teachers as to prevent as many people as we can from falling into these destructive teachings. In thinking of what modern teachings this applies to we could put “Word of Faith” or “Prosperity” teachings into this category. We could also think about the many “liberal” denominations that reject the sexual ethics of scripture and the “evangelical” teachers that often seem to conflate (at least in the way I see it) being a Christian with voting for a particular political party. We need to make sure that we stand in the word and do not allow ourselves to be deceived and exploited, but also we must stand in the gap (Ezekiel 22) and do what we can to keep others from being deceived and exploited.
Peter then delves into ideas concerning judgment and preservation of righteous people standing up in the midst of wickedness. If God will rescue Noah and Lot, will he not also rescue some of us from perishing in this present age of wickedness? Of course, God does not keep all of his people from perishing (for reasons that are known to him and not us… i.e. Stephen and many of Jesus’ disciples), but he does in many instances deliver his people out of dire straits. Not only will he in many instances rescue us, but those who stand in wickedness stand in punishment. While we may not see the unrighteous handled in ways that we desire, we must recognize that God deals in his own ways (Isaiah 55:8-9). Peter then writes of the ways of deceivers and references Balaam (see Numbers 22 to begin his story) as he is pointing out many of the traits of these wicked opponents of God.
Peter states that those who depart from the corruption of the world and come to Jesus, but then depart from him and return to deception are worse off than they were at first. Can we wrap our minds around that? It’s better to have never known Jesus than to come into that saving knowledge and then depart from him. That makes it all the more important for us to keep in Christian community and to have people who can speak truth into our lives when we stumble and fall short in our pursuit of righteous living. The self-deception that comes from a lack of self-control is more than just a minor issue, it can cost us everything (abundance now, but more importantly, that abundance that we can embrace in the coming Kingdom).
We just got a new puppy about a month ago, so when I read Peter’s reference to a dog returning to its vomit, it gives me an all too clear visual of what that means. Our dog ate a couple of our children’s socks and had a miserable night (gagging constantly) and then when my wife took him out in the morning he proceeded to puke them up (it was Sunday morning, so in the rush of things getting ready to leave for church, the socks remained on the ground). When I took the dog out after several hours in the kennel, what did he do? He went right for one of the socks and tried to eat it (I got rid of it this time). Later that day (or the next), he got lucky(?) and ate the second sock… I’ll spare you the details of the next morning… The socks were bad for my puppy (he got lucky all things considered), but that did not stop him from going after them. Sin can be the same way for us, even though things are bad for us (and even when we absolutely recognize this), we often return to it (or at the very least are enticed by it) which makes it ever more important that we stay vigilant (constant vigilance!) in abiding in our lord Jesus, because without his advocacy and without the helper that he will send, i.e. the spirit of God, his father) , we are done for.
1. What do I need to be most on the guard for? What types of deception might entice me to neglect my faith in Jesus and his kingdom message?
2. Why do the promises of false teachers often sound so sweet? Do they play around with scripture and make it sound like it is saying something that it is not? What can we do to limit the voices of deception that are lurking not only in the shadows, but out in the limelight?
Chapter 10 contains one of the five major warning passages in Hebrews, which makes up the second half of the chapter. It is this section that we will focus on as it functions in a very unique way in this context.
Leading up to verse 26 where the warning begins, the author has now fully explained the perfect sacrifice and the forgiveness that is now possible which was not available under the old covenant. And so, as the author concludes, “where there is forgiveness of these sins, another sacrificial offering for sin is no longer required” (v. 18). This is valid so long as certain conditions are met as the author will go on to describe.
The warning passage begins: “For if we deliberately continue sinning after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a terrifying expectation of judgment and the fury of a fire that is about to consume the adversaries” (vv. 26-27).
For those who choose to continue willfully committing sin after coming to know the truth about Christ’s sacrifice, it says “there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins.” What does it mean that there is “no longer” a sacrifice for sins? The author has just gone to great lengths to show the perfect sacrifice of Christ, and such an offering as Christ’s is the only one that is able to “perfect forever those who are sanctified” (v. 14).
If Christ’s sacrifice is the only sacrifice that is sufficient to take away sins forever, and since the author made it clear that the old covenant sacrifices could never “take away sins” (v. 11), then if a person disregards the cleansing and sanctification that is brought about through Christ by willfully continuing to sin, then they have no other recourse to fall back on for forgiveness. Christ’s sacrifice is the only offering that can remove the defilement of sin. Therefore, repudiating Christ and disregarding the knowledge of the truth leaves a person with nowhere else to turn. And that is why the author says that such a person only has to look forward to a “terrifying expectation of judgment and the fury of a fire.”
It is God’s will that we turn away from sin and embrace Christ’s sacrifice on our behalf so that we may be forgiven and cleansed from sin and have “our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience” (v. 22). The means by which we can have this purification in our hearts and minds has already been provided by God through Christ.
And this is why the author warns the reader that they must not fall away and turn aside from the knowledge of the sacrifice of Christ. At the end of the chapter, in one of the final exhortations, the author asserts, “So don’t throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. For you need endurance, so that after you have done God’s will, you may receive what was promised” (vv. 35-36).
In Christ, there is forgiveness from sin now and forevermore. But outside of Christ, we have no hope and no provision for sin. If we will endure in the faith, holding onto the perfect sacrifice of Christ, then we will have done the will of God and will receive the reward of what he promised—everlasting life.
What 4 things are we told to do in Hebrews 10:22-25 (“Let us…” -in NIV – do what 4 things?). Which of these 4 do you think you do most regularly already (though, still with some room for improvement)? Which one would you like to concentrate on doing better this month? How?
Who has spurred you on to love and good deeds? How did they do it?
Who has been an encouragement to you? How did they do it?
After plodding through Ecclesiastes 1 and 3 over the last two day’s devotions, we are finally at Ecclesiastes 12, where Solomon has his reveal about the meaning of life. Verse 1 starts out the chapter with, “Remember your Creator in the days of your youth, before the days of trouble come and the years approach when you will say, I find no pleasure in them.”
The next 7 verses highlight why the elderly may not find pleasure in their old age – because they experience things like fading eyesight, losing hearing, developing tremors, stooping because of osteoporosis, losing teeth, unable to sleep – and then die.
So what does it mean to “remember your Creator?” Is this like “remember to take out the trash?” No. And it entails a lot more than just thinking about Him once in a while. When you’re tempted to enjoy the pleasures of sin, remember your Creator. When you’re tempted to live your life in rebellion against God, remember your Creator. When your peers are doing something you know is wrong and you’re tempted to join in, remember your Creator. It means putting God at the forefront of your thoughts, dedicating your life to Him, and living for Him.
I think there are several practical reasons to start serving the Lord while you are young. Here is a partial list:
Life in a close relationship with God is satisfying and fulfilling, so the earlier you start that relationship with Him, the longer you’ll experience meaning in your life.
By accepting God while you are young, you will spare yourself a lot of pain and problems that you would experience in a life of rebellion against God.
You may want to live it up while you are young and plan on a “death bed confession” (giving your life to the Lord just before you die). But we never know when we may die. Accidents happen. And you don’t want to suffer the eternal consequences of not devoting your life to the Lord.
You may get dementia as you age, and won’t be able to make a decision for the Lord late in life.
As people age, they get more set in their ways and find it more difficult to change.
I think Solomon is giving good advice, “remember your Creator in the days of your youth.”
At the end of Ecclesiastes 12, we finally come to Solomon’s conclusion when seeking the meaning of life. Ecclesiastes 12: 13-14 read, “Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil.”
Fear includes a lot more than being scared of God. It includes being in awe of Him. Giving Him reverence. Giving him glory. Giving Him your life (living for Him).
To paraphrase Solomon, the bottom line is this:
You can live your life your own way, and experience a life that is meaningless and unfulfilling, then die. Or you can live your life God’s way, and experience a life that is meaningful and fulfilling, and then die.
Either way, you will die. And when Jesus returns, you will face judgment. If you have lived your life your own way, you will face condemnation and the second death. If you have lived your life for God, you will receive commendation and will enjoy eternal life.
The only rational choice is to “fear God and keep his commandments.”
You don’t have to be rational. But you do have to choose. Choose wisely.
Look again at the list of reasons to start serving the Lord while you are young. Is there anything else you would add to it?
If you have started serving the Lord, when did you start? Why was that a great time to do it? If you haven’t yet, what are you waiting for?
I have a story to tell you. It’s the scariest horror story and, simultaneously, the greatest love story. I’m not talking about ghosts falling in love. No, I’m talking about a garden.
We’re all little branches in a big, beautiful garden. It’s our job to grow fruit to please the Gardener.
A day is coming, however, when the Gardener will cut off the fruitless branches—the diseased, dead, good-for-nothing twigs.
“If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned”(John 15:6).
It’s scary to think about the judgment that is coming—about the branches thrown into the fire. The Bible is filled with examples of people meeting God’s wrath, like a flooded Earth, a pillar of salt, a plethora of plagues, and people dropping dead. That day is coming for us, too. This begs the question, are you living in a manner that is consistent with your calling to be holy, to bear good fruit?
I have good news for you, Little Branch. There is a Vine who is crazy about you. His job is to keep you close, to hem you in, to wrap around you, and cover you in grace. This Vine is Jesus, and he says:
“Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me” (John 15:4).
I took this picture of a vine in my sister’s backyard. Look at the way it twists, turns, and loop-de-loops to seek out and envelop a branch. The love Jesus has for you is the same. It’s reckless and unrelenting. It’s the well that never runs dry, the shepherd that leaves the ninety-nine to rescue the one, and the blood-stained body on the cross.
The same Jesus who first told us to “Come,” also tells us to “Abide.” To remain. To stay. To obey.
“If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love” (John 15:10a).
Discussion & Reflection Questions:
As the old hymn says, are you ready for judgment day? Are you bearing good fruit?
What commands do you struggle to obey? Where in your life do you need a good pruning?
A good leader, a bad leader, a boasting field commander, mourning, praying for those left, searching for a word from the Lord, reports of fighting here and there, a large impressive bully nation, a pleading king. It’s almost enough to make me look for a time and date stamp to check what century I am reading of. Am I reading the headlines of the newspaper today, or from 2 Kings 19, an account of when the small country of Judah and her king Hezekiah were being bullied and intimidated by Sennacherib the king of Assyria?
For a better understanding, we might need to back up a couple hundred years from where we are reading in 2 Kings. It is tricky fitting the whole wealth of Old Testament history and beauty and lessons into 105 days, as our Bible reading schedule this year dictates, but let’s catch up on a couple hundred years here. The end of last week we were reading of the son of King David, King Solomon – the third king of Israel. His reign over Israel was blessed by God and Israel prospered. However, after King Solomon the kingdom divides into the 10 northern tribes of Israel (which rejected the rule of the line of David and created their own system of worship since they no longer held Jerusalem, the home of God’s temple) and the 2 southern tribes then called the nation of Judah.
Israel would have one bad king after another. But still God was active and at work in their nation, as we saw with the powerful ministries of the prophets Elijah and Elisha in our readings earlier this week. But it wasn’t enough to turn the tide of the nation that had chosen to reject God. Israel would be overtaken by the bully nation Assyria (see 2 Kings 17). This was God’s judgment on a country that had rebelled against Him.
And now, Assyria was coming after the nation of Judah. Hezekiah, the 12th king of Judah and from the line of David, had been king 6 years when Israel had fallen to Assyria, within the next 8 years Assyria had attacked and captured all of the fortified cities of Judah, except the capital city of Jerusalem. Scared Hezekiah, feeling desperate to save his nation, had even tried paying tribute to Sennacherib king of Assyria – striping the temple and palace of all its gold and silver. But still, Assyria advanced and now they were at the gates of Jerusalem. Sennacherib’s field commander, had just delivered an intimidating speech to the occupants of Jerusalem – promising protection and life if they surrendered and destruction and death if they did not. He tried convincing the people saying, “Do not listen to Hezekiah, for he is misleading you when he says, ‘The Lord will deliver us.’ Has the god of any nation ever delivered his land from the hand of the king of Assyria?” (2 Kings 18:32b-33). And, that is where we are when we read 2 Kings 19.
The king, the leaders and the people are scared. Assyria has already conquered so many, including Israel and the fortified cities of Judah. It seems perhaps this will be the end of Jerusalem and all Judah as well. Hezekiah sends his advisers to the prophet Isaiah asking for prayer for the people. Isaiah replies – Don’t be afraid. God heard the boasting blasphemous words of the field commander – and God is preparing a surprise for them.
Sennacherib sends a written intimidating message to Hezekiah. I love what Hezekiah does with the letter. He takes it to the temple, spreads it out before the Lord and prays:
“Lord, the God of Israel, enthroned between the cherubim, you alone are God over all the kingdoms of the earth. You have made heaven and earth. 16 Give ear, Lord, and hear; open your eyes, Lord, and see; listen to the words Sennacherib has sent to ridicule the living God.
17 “It is true, Lord, that the Assyrian kings have laid waste these nations and their lands. 18 They have thrown their gods into the fire and destroyed them, for they were not gods but only wood and stone, fashioned by human hands. 19 Now, Lord our God, deliver us from his hand, so that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that you alone, Lord, are God.”
(2 Kings 19:15-19)
What a beautiful prayer that lays it all out before God. First, acknowledging God for who He is and what He has done – no small matters. Go back and read it again to hear the awe and reverence in Hezekiah’s voice. He knew he was speaking to the creator of heaven and earth! How awesome is that? Then, bringing before God what was on his heart. What do we want Him to look upon, and listen to? Yes, God already has heard it and seen it all. Hezekiah wasn’t surprising God or giving Him new information. But He was asking God to act on what Hezekiah was seeing and hearing, what was important to Him. And, believing that God could do it, he asked for deliverance, not just to save their own hides – but “so that all kingdoms on earth may know that you alone, O LORD, are God.” (2 Kings 19:19).
God did answer this prayer in such a way that all those kingdoms knew that He alone with God. That night, the angel of the Lord visited the Assyrian camp and killed 185,000. Sennacherib and the rest went running home. Sennacherib survived, for a short time, only to be assassinated by two of his sons. Hezekiah lives to have more prayers answered in the next chapter.
But here we are today, surrounded by more conflict, and more bully leaders, and more scared leaders and still One TRUE God over them all. Perhaps now is a good time for more heartfelt prayers to God. We know more righteous judgment from God is on its way – both now and ultimately at the end of this age when His son Jesus returns to earth. We so look forward to a time when the faithful from all nations and kingdoms are gathered before the throne – no longer waving national flags, if now their allegiance is to the Lamb of God.
Questions for Reflection and Discussion
Hezekiah’s strongest weapon was not his armies or alliances or his gold and silver – but his heartfelt prayer to God. How can we better use prayer in our own time of desperate need? How can we better use prayer for the nations in conflict today? What do you want to make sure God hears and sees? Tell Him about it, even though He already knows.
Hezekiah praised God for His creation. I wonder if, or how much, Mr Darwin and the theory of evolution has blocked the prayers of “believers”. What do we truly believe in today? When we strip God of His power and His creation, do we also strip Him of His power or desire to act on our behalf? What are other ways we fail to recognize God’s greatness and power? What do you believe God can do and will do and has done?
Do a little word study on nations or kingdoms – how do they show up in Scripture? What about in Revelation?
Having just sent out the 12 for the job he had trained and empowered them for, Jesus took a beach vacation. No, just kidding, that’s not what Matthew 11:1 says. Jesus hit the road, too, teaching and preaching in the towns of Galilee. He met up with a lot of different people along the way and he had different responses and directives for them based on who he was talking to or talking about. In a humble way he answered the questions the followers of John the Baptist asked about who Jesus was, saying look at the evidence. Consider what you see and hear. We would be wise to also follow this advice when examining who this Jesus was – and is – and will be. Jesus is known as being a man of love who spoke wisdom. And that is so true! Let’s consider what we see and hear from Jesus in this chapter to see what we can learn of him.
Jesus commends John the Baptist. It is obvious he knows John well, and thinks very highly of him and the job he has done, even comparing him to the Old Testament prophets. However, Jesus doesn’t hold John on such a high pedestal that no one else can reach him. In fact, he curiously states that, “He who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.” (Matthew 11:11)
Jesus points out inconsistencies and short-comings in the understanding and actions of his generation. He pretty much calls them immature (like children). He calls them out for their critical, know-it-all spirit. They don’t like John the Baptist and his ministry. He is doing it wrong and they know better, he must have demons, the people said. Then Jesus comes along and they don’t like Jesus and his ministry, either. He is doing it differently, but still wrong and they know better, he must be, “A glutton, and a drunkard and a friend of tax collectors and sinners”, the people said. (Matthew 11:19) When in fact, it wasn’t the current generation that knew what was going on at all. It was Jesus who saw clearly what they had completely missed, more than once.
Jesus continues with harsh (but righteous) judgment for those cities that saw his miracles and knew of his ministry but did not repent (change, turn from their sins to begin a new life). He said it will be worse for them than it will be for Sodom (which was totally destroyed), because if Sodom would have seen the miracles of Jesus they would have surely repented.
People love the “Come-to-me-I-will-give-you-rest” Jesus. That appeals to many in this tired generation. Today even the loved-the-sinners Jesus is quite popular. Perhaps we are more comfortable with sin now than those in Jesus’ time who couldn’t handle Jesus because he wanted to be with the sinners. Loving the sinners like Jesus loved is the hip modern thing to do, as long as the sinners (including me) aren’t required to actually repent and change, right? Or, perhaps it was Jesus’ love for them that made him want to be around sinners, so they could see and hear him in action, so they would see the need to change, so they would indeed repent, so they would be spared the judgment coming to the unrepentant.
As a whole it seems, we would rather dismiss the woe-to-you-unrepentant-people Jesus as a bit outdated and unpopular. But this Jesus is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. He spoke different things to different people based upon their response to him and His Father. The love-the-sinners Jesus is indeed the same as the woe-to-the-unrepentant-cities Jesus. Jesus is love. Jesus is judgment. What will he say to me? That will depend on how I will respond to him?
Questions for Reflection and Discussion
What words might Jesus have for your generation? For you? What might he see (and say) clearly that others have not?
Is there an area of your life that is in need of repentance – changing/starting over, giving up the old sins, in exchange for a new life? What’s your motivation? How will you start? Who can help? What would Jesus say?
What are your feelings as you read through this chapter? Any verses you are confused about? What do you think God’s purpose was for including each section in this chapter?
Yesterday, we read about God’s words to a people who were on the breaking point. To be fair, Israel had seen a lot– civil disputes, mass religious wars, a kingdom divided. But here, Israel is facing its final days as an independent nation.
So we read Micah’s desperate attempts to warn his people– Israel and Judah both– that their only hope is to return to the LORD. Chapter 1 talked about the coming destruction. Chapter 2 talks about these “oppressors,” who are likely people of political or financial power that are abusing the people around them.
In chapter 3, Micah now addresses two groups of people: the political leaders and the prophethood. Micah tells the leaders that they “hate the good and love the evil,” (3:1). The prophets that Micah confronts were likely professional “prophets” that lived in the king’s court. They may or may not have been followers of the LORD and they were not like the prophets that God chose for Israel. Micah says they prophesy peace when it gets them something to eat (3:5) and teach the masses when it gets them paid (3:11).
On and on, Micah confronts everyone in the nation who has shown corruption, greed, selfishness and evil. He closes chapter 3 by saying these ways are going to leave Zion, God’s holy city– flattened to a plain.
And then Micah’s message does a complete 180-degree turn. In chapter 4, he starts giving some really good news. He says that the house of the LORD will be a meeting place where everyone turns to know God (4:2). He says that God is going to bring the weak, lowly, hurt, sick, and anyone who’s been abused, and He is going to personally make them strong (4:6-7).
And here we begin to see what we call “God’s redemptive-historical plan.” That’s a fancy way of saying that God’s plans span thousands of years. And although Israel rejected and resisted God, He would not give up so easily. God sent His Son Jesus into the world to be an atonement, a light, and a leader for all of humanity. And in this way, every good thing that God has promised to mankind will be made true in Jesus our King.
If this isn’t good news enough, wait until tomorrow, when Micah is going to have even better things to say!
Our family loves camping and finding new places to hike or kayak through God’s beautiful world. The variety of his creation is truly amazing! Desert, forest, plains, mountain, ocean. We love them all and the chance to explore a new little corner of His world we haven’t seen yet. And, along the way, trying to capture a photo to remind us of the beauty and creativity we had the privilege to see.
Psalm 104 is a beautiful poem of creation. I would love to make a photo book or photo wall with pictures from our family hikes and travels depicting each verse and phrase.
“He wraps himself in light as with a garment” (vs 2) – sunshine blazing in all His glory
“he stretches out the heavens like a tent” (vs 2) – expansive blue sky from horizon to horizon
“He makes the clouds his chariot” (vs 3) – white and multi-shades of gray amazing textured rolling clouds with shafts of sunlight shining through with the brilliant blue sky behind
“He makes springs pour water into the ravines” – hot springs bubbling from the ground and flowing down the mountain side
You get the idea. There would be photos of waterfalls, lightening, mountaintops, ocean waves on the shore, rainstorms, the moon, plants and animals, sunrises, sea creatures, and people. Each one accompanied with God’s text.
I recently taught a unit on creation to the adorable children in children’s church. And it was so much fun spending a week (or more) on each aspect of God’s amazing creation. We brought in shells and rocks and leaves and bird feathers to touch and play with. We matched plant photos to foods we eat and counted plant products in ingredient labels. (Do you know how many plants are in a box of Cheerios or mac’n cheese?) We classified plants and animals and brought in a bird expert. We watched videos and explored books on clouds and planets and sea creatures and the animal kingdom and the incredible human body. And all the things that we take for granted everyday.
Not only is God’s world a beautiful world – but so incredibly functional, too! He thought of EVERYTHING! The more I learn of science and the human body in particular, the more I am amazed at His creation.
I have never made anything nearly as intricate or useful as the smallest, tiniest, most simplistic, most ‘insignificant’ part of God’s creation. But, I do like to create quilts – little scraps of colored fabric (which came from a cotton plant) sewn together in patterns to make a cozy cover to bring comfort and warmth. I can’t imagine how I would feel if I were to meet someone who explained that those quilts just came to be one day – that it grew from nothing and became strings that wove themselves together and the fabrics cut themselves into the perfect shapes and even stitches magically formed just as they were needed to piece the top together and the materials used to create the final layered project appeared at just the right time and space and lined up just so to automatically go through the final steps to create my quilt. Foolishness. It is foolishness that leaves out the thought, intention, desire, creativity, vision, purpose and ability of me, the quilt creator. Or, equally painful – maybe they would give all the credit for the making of the quilt to another.
It makes sense that the Creator of the Heavens and Earth wants us to enjoy and admire His creation – and give Him all the credit He so much deserves. But, what happens when people don’t? What happens when they take away the glory that belongs to God and call it chance instead or give it to another? What happens when they refuse to listen to God’s words – the first recorded words being – “Let there be light”? What happens when they attribute God’s creation to another? We see in the book of Jeremiah. “These wicked people, who refuse to listen to my words, who follow the stubbornness of their hearts and go after other gods to serve and worship them, will be like this belt—completely useless!” Jeremiah goes on in today’s reading to describe the drought, famine and sword that will be used in judgment of those who have stubbornly turned from God. Jeremiah 14 ends with God telling Jeremiah to speak to the people, telling them to acknowledge their guilt and wickedness and sins against Him and ask God to remember His covenant. The final verse of chapter 14 says,
“Do any of the worthless idols of the nations bring rain? Do the skies themselves send down showers? No, it is you, Lord our God. Therefore our hope is in you, for you are the one who does all this.” (vs 22 NIV)
Not only did Our Great God create this world for us – He made a covenant with us – He has power still today – and He holds out a blessed hope for those who acknowledge and worship Him for all He has done, is doing and will do.
Thank you God for your incredible Creation – help me see and appreciate each amazing part!
Thank you God for the rains today – help me see you at work today!
Thank you God for the hope you set before those who believe and worship you alone – a New Heavens and Earth that will be beyond all we can ever dream or imagine!
You are our hope – for you are the one who does all this!