pastorjohnb

Thoughts and musings on faith and our mighty God!


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Live Up

Reading: Psalm 8

Verse 5: “You made him a little lower than heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor”.

The psalmist begins and ends with the same line: “O Lord, our God, how majestic is your name in all the earth”! It is a good reminder of who God is and of our proper response – to praise God. In accordance, as the Psalm unfolds, the writer marvels at God’s handiwork that is evident in the heavens, stars, and moon. It leads him to questioning God being mindful of humanity. Compared to the vastness and immensity of creation, mankind can seem insignificant. We are but one small piece of the created order.

Humanity is one small but very important piece of the creation. In verse 5 we read, “You made him a little lower than heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor”. We are each made in the image of God. We are the “closest” to God in all of the created order. In the next verses we are reminded that God made humanity the “ruler” over the works of his hand. This idea of being a little lower than God can be both good and bad.

The idea is good when we read “ruler” as steward or caretaker of the earth and creation. The image we get of God is one of loving father, doing what is best for his children, even if it is sometimes hard. When God created, all was good. This remains God’s bent, for good to reign. But at times we can read “ruler” and think we can do or say anything we want. Our will and our desires can become the only thing that matter and the results are usually not for good.

When we consider this awesome responsibility, our place in the created order, we must remember that we are not God but are made in the image of God. Yes, we are called to be like him, but not to be him. When we see ourselves as “a little lower” than God we are less likely to be prideful and arrogant and self-serving. It does say “a little lower” so we must also seek to live up to that concept. In living up we remember our sacred worth and to live that out so that the Lord our God delights in us. The psalmist calls us to a high standard, one guided by love and care for the created world. May we live in a way that is pleasing to God.

Prayer: Lord God, you call us to a great standard – living in your image. Jesus lived that image well. He modeled a life filled with grace and mercy and love and service. May I follow him well this day, caring well for all that you place in my hands today. Amen.


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Creation

Reading: Psalm 104: 24-34 & 35b

Verse 24: “How many are your works, O Lord! In your wisdom you made them all”.

Here in south central South Dakota it looks a little gloomy this morning. It is overcast and breezy and a little cool. Outside my window I can hear the chorus of many birds filling the morning air. Along the front and side of the house flowers are blooming, bursting forth with color. The leaves on the trees are vibrant colors of green and the lush grass sways rhythmically in the gentle breeze. The world outside testifies to today’s opening verse: “How many are your works, O Lord! In your wisdom you made them all”. Thanks be to God!

If one steps outside my little corner of the world, the diversity of God’s creation grows exponentially. God’s creativity and wisdom brought us thousands of kinds of birds and thousands of kinds of fish and animals and trees and crops and flowers and… and… and… God designed a world that nourishes itself with rains and floods and cleanses itself with fires. He created the seasons not just to bring us variety but also to guide patterns of life. Our world is really an amazing place, all under God’s loving care. As verse 30 says, “You send your Spirit, they are created, and you renew the face of the earth”.

As creatures if this creation, as stewards, we play a role in helping to love our earth and all its creatures. Verse 31 reads, “May the glory of the Lord endure forever”. May it indeed! To this end, may we each play our role well, caring for all that God has blessed us with this day. May our praises to God give thanks for this gift of life all around us and may we rejoice in God’s creation today!


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Praise

Reading: Psalm 148

Verses 1 and 7: “Praise the Lord from the heavens… from the earth”.

The psalmist calls for all created things to praise the Lord.  He begins with the heavens -the angels, the heavenly host, the sun, moon, and stars, and the sky.  All of these objects in the heavenly realm were created by God and they praise God continually through their splendor and beauty.  They testify to God’s power and might.  The angels and heavenly host praise God continually as they gather around the throne.  Next the psalmist goes on to include all created things on the earth – living and non-living alike.  The mountains, hills, and trees join the sun, moon, and stars in bringing praise to God.  Coming alongside of these are all forms of life, including all types of people.  In the Psalm we see the praise brought to God by all things.

In the Psalm we also gain a sense of the connected nature of all things.  There is a sense that all things have value and that all things matter to one another.  In this way the Psalm reminds me of Paul’s words concerning the parts of the body in 1st Corinthians 12.  Each part of creation would be less if a part of it were missing.  Although mankind is listed near the end of the Psalm, our role is primary in the care for creation and all of life.  As the pinnacle of God’s creation, our role as steward must be taken seriously.  This too is a part of our praise to God.

The Psalm closes with a focus on the singular nature of our praise.  We should not praise our own accomplishments (individually or corporately) but should keep our praise focused on the creator and giver of all good things all things: God.  “Praise the Lord from the heavens… from the earth”.  May we join our voices with all of creation as we praise the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords.


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With or Against?

Today, a unique angle on Pentecost.  Paul reminds us in Romans 8 that all of creation groans as it awaits God’s redemption.  Just as humanity is, creation is in a constant cycle of life – birth, growth, decay, death.  Just as with humans, the Spirit seeks to breathe life into all of the life cycle of the earth and the creatures of the earth.

Parts of our earth are in bad shape.  As the people tasked with the stewardship of the earth, sometimes we do not do so well.  People who are “connected” to the earth speak of hearing it cry, of feeling the pain of the earth over how we have exploited the earth, its creatures, its resources.  All too often we are a part of these processes that have negative impacts upon the earth.

Pentecost is about the way God breathes new life into the believers.  It is also about how the Spirit seeks to breathe new life into the earth.  The Spirit wants to bring healing to the earth, to heal all of the scars and brokenness.  God will never abandon the earth.  He seeks to bring redemption and healing to all of creation.  God calls for our participation as stewards of this place.

Two main questions.  One: can you hear the earth crying?  If so, what is our response?  If not, how have we gotten so far from the role God called us to?  Two: will God save creation from us or with us?  Make no mistake, He will redeem all of creation.  Are we with Him or against Him?

Scripture references: Psalm 104: 24-35 and Romans 8: 18-23


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Healing Our Hearts and Minds

In Psalm 104 we read of God’s loving care for the earth and all its creatures.  God’s Spirit brings life to the animals, birds, plants, trees, waters, mountains, and even to us. His absence brings death to all these things.  All He creates is good.  All that is lost He mourns.

In our care of His creation we have done much that is wrong or bad for the earth and its creatures.  But we are leaning and beginning to rights our wrongs and to live with more attention to creation.  God’s Spirit guides us here too if we listen.  We can trust the Spirit’s leading and the Spirit’s lead to bring our efforts to fruition.

In our care for all of mankind, we still have some progress to be made.  In a world that produces much more food than it needs, no one should be starving.  In a world full of vast medical technology, no one should be dying of diseases that are preventable and/or curable.  In our nation of amazing resources and huge wealth, no one should be living in poverty.

Please pray with me today for God to continue to nudge us with the Spirit and to continue to bring healing to our hearts and minds so we can truly love all of His creation.