Glory: A Prayer for the Connected

“May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer.” (Psalm 19:14)

[Cue movie announcer’s voice:] If you only attach one Bible verse to your forehead this year, attach this one.[/announcer]

To my knowledge, King David of Israel never Googled anything. He didn’t have Facebook or Twitter. He didn’t write comments on someone’s Instagram. But under the inspiration of God, he wrote Psalm 19:14 for all those of us who do those things today.

glory_350The Internet and our smartphones practically beg you and me to convert every random thought in our heads into published words. That’s dangerous, and it should scare us way more than it does. Not just because we might say something to make ourselves look foolish – but because we might write something unkind or deceptive or immoral and make our God look foolish.

Maybe even worse, the Internet offers an avalanche of ideas and images for our hearts to “meditate” on. And even if we don’t consciously think about them all, our “hearts” and minds are always processing those messages. We must develop the ability to delete the worthless thoughts and keep the valuable ones.

David sees that the only hope for pleasing God with our words and thoughts comes from our Rock and Redeemer.

Think: Do you have a different standard for what you will say and think about online or on your phone than in the rest of your life? Is that standard more or less pleasing to God than the one you stick to in the real world?

Pray: Write down this verse with your hand and pray it every day this week and/or month and/or year.

Do: Notice someone who reflects God’s character on any social network this week and thank him or her for that.

Glory: Hidden and Willful

“Who can discern his errors? Forgive my hidden faults. Keep your servant also from willful sins; may they not rule over me. Then will I be blameless, innocent of great transgression. ” (Psalm 19:12-13)

If you’ve been following along in Psalm 19 this week, you’ll notice another shift in verse 12. In the first few verses, David looked up. He found himself amazed by a God who could create the heavens, especially the enormous and powerful fireball called the sun. Then he looked down into the pages of God’s Word and was overwhelmed that the creator of the heavens would talk to us in words on paper.

glory_350Now David looks into his own heart. Compared to the sun, he sees his smallness. Compared to God’s commands in Scripture, David sees how sinful he is. He realizes immediately he often does not live according to the Law. He is not operating according to the design. He naturally sins without thinking of it sometimes.

At other times, David admits, he intentionally rebels against God’s commands. For the fist time in this chapter, he asks God for something: “Forgive the sins I do without realizing I’m doing them – and keep me from doing the ones I know are wrong. Please help me not to be controlled by my sinful desires.”

Think: Do you ever feel overwhelmed by the sense that you are way off the path of living according to God’s design for your life? Do you ever run into a brick wall of conviction over your sinful choices?

Pray: Pray this passage to God. Ask him to convict you of sin and to give you the courage (and power in his Spirit through faith in Christ) to obey him.

Do: Ask someone you trust to tell you if they think you have any “hidden sins” that you aren’t aware of most of the time. (Be brave and try not to get defensive.)

Glory: How to Drive

“The ordinances of the LORD are sure and altogether righteous. They are more precious than gold, than much pure gold; they are sweeter than honey, than honey from the comb. By them is your servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward.” (Proverbs 19:9-11)

Imagine if you lived 1,000 years ago and you woke up one morning to discover that everyone in your village had a car parked in front of their house. Cool, yes? Except nobody has ever seen a car before. Nobody knows what it’s for and why it exists or where it came from. Some people start using their cars for beds or dining rooms or less pleasant things. Others begin to worship the cars as a kind of god.

glory_350What would it be worth to discover, hidden under one of the floor mats, an owner’s and driving manual written in your own language? If you studied it, you’d suddenly understand the point of “car.” You’d get that it was transportation, that it was meant to be fast, that it has an in-dash stereo. You’d realize what the key was for – and you’d learn some things not to do if you wanted it to work properly (e.g., put sand in the gas tank, drive at night without headlights, etc.).

Having the car’s maker explain in writing how the car works best would mean the difference between having a worthless hunk of metal – and having a ticket to drive really fast. Paying attention to the maker’s warnings and direction would mean the difference between life and death. (Okay, you get the metaphor – God’s directions to us about how to live are worth everything. Don’t worry about where you’d find gas or the lack of roads. It’s just an analogy. Come on. Work with me here.)

Think: What are the chances of coming to the right conclusions about how our lives are meant to be lived if you eliminate God’s instructions in his Word?

Pray: Ask God to help you to value his Word for what it’s worth.

Do: Write down three things the Bible warns you to avoid on the road of the life. Then briefly describe (in a sentence) the reward of obeying God’s commands.

Glory: Light and Heat

“The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul. The statutes of the LORD are trustworthy, making wise the simple. The precepts of the LORD are right, giving joy to the heart. The commands of the LORD are radiant, giving light to the eyes. The fear of the LORD is pure, enduring forever.” (Psalm 19:7-9)

Wait a minute? Wasn’t David just describing the heavens? Wasn’t he just writing beautiful poetry about the sun? Did someone change the channel on the psalm? Now it’s all about the law and statutes and precepts and commands.

glory_350Nope, same story. David is expecting us to make the connection between God’s glory in creation and his glory in Scripture. If you’re impressed with the sun – and who is not? – then you should be astounded by the Law. David is talking about the Scripture he knows, which would have included the first five books of our Bible. Specifically, he’s describing God’s instructions to his people Israel.

These revelations of God’s heart tell us about God just as his creation does. They revive our souls, teach us wisdom, and bring us great joy. Why? For those called to live under God’s Law at the time, it showed how the Creator of life intended for life to be lived. And living life as he designed it is the best life there is. Just as the sun helps us see what is hidden in the dark, God’s commands in the Law lit up dark roads, showing what to avoid and how to stay on the path.

Think: What other connections can you find between the beauty of God’s creation and the beauty of his Word?

Pray: Thank God for showing you his heart on the pages of your Bible. Ask him to give you the courage to follow his commands to you for your good.

Do: Off the top of your head, write down three commands from the Bible, instructions to you personally, that light up your path by telling you what to avoid and which way to go.

Glory: Fireball

“In the heavens he has pitched a tent for the sun, which is like a bridegroom coming forth from his pavilion, like a champion rejoicing to run his course. It rises at one end of the heavens and makes its circuit to the other; nothing is hidden from its heat.” (Psalm 19:4-6)

I’ve heard some guys mock verses like this. They say David’s description of the way the sun works proves that God’s Word is flawed. They say it shows that David thought the sun revolves around the earth. The guys who do that don’t tend to be poets.

glory_350Yes, we all know its the earth that does the rotating and revolving around the sun, not the other way around. God knows it, too. Here, he inspired David the poet to describe in rich metaphor what is happening on the big screen called “the sky.” David doesn’t really believe the sun lives in a tent, either. He uses the language of poetry to capture the beauty of creation.

In fact, in clearly describing the sun as a beautiful, powerful created thing instead of an actual personality, David is standing against those in his day who worshipped the sun as a god. Even in poetry, he is standing for what is rational, the understanding that we must worship the God who created that powerful, relentless ball of fire that dominates our days with its light and heat. Don’t worship the thing, as awesome as it is. Worship the God who made it.

Think: Are you ever tempted to dismiss God’s Word when it talks about nature and other areas of science? Why or why not?

Pray: Ask God to help each new discovery about the natural world to make you more impressed with his supernatural power.

Do: Write your own poem describing how you see the sun or stars or moon.

Glory: UNMUTE

“There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard. Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world.” (Psalm 19:3-4)

One of my favorite buttons on the remote control is MUTE. You’re watching something intense; the emotion is running high; then they cut to a commercial and instantly double the volume. Ack! Hit the MUTE; shut that guy up.

glory_350Our brains come with MUTE buttons, too. Psychologists call it “selective hearing.” We’re able to tune out things we don’t want to hear, noises that distract from what we’re interested in – static on a radio station, other people’s conversations in a crowded Starbucks, even the voice of someone talking directly to us when we’re not ready to listen (e.g., your mom calling you to dinner when you were little or a friend who never quite stops talking).

Way too many of us learn to MUTE the voice described in these verses. It isn’t God’s voice. It’s the voice of “the heavens” (sky, stars, moon, and especially sun). It’s the voice that announces to the earth day and night, “Look at us, and think about God’s power and wisdom! He made all of this! Pay attention! Make the connection between our beauty and his glory! Don’t miss this!”

Don’t MUTE the heavens.

Think: Have you learned how to MUTE God’s creation? What can you do to start listening again?

Pray: Ask God to help you learn to block out worthless noise and to UNMUTE the important voices.

Do: Grab a blanket (and maybe a friend) and find a spot outside to lay down and listen to the heavens for a while.

Glory: Look Up!

“The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge.” (Psalm 19:1-2)

Ever have to fill out a job application or hand over a résumé to someone? You work hard to list all of your best accomplishments, your education, your experience. You hope the person sees from a summary of credits that you’ve got what it takes to do that job. Your work and academic history—and your references—speak for you.

glory_350In Psalm 19, David makes the case that God doesn’t need to carry any kind of résumé with him. He should not have to convince anyone that he exists, that he is real, or that he is powerful. He can just say, “Look up.” “The heavens” should be all the PR he needs. The sun and moon and stars shout down to the earth, “Look what God did. Look how powerful he is, how creative, how artistic, how precise.”

What a silly thought that the God who created all that beauty and function and light would have to prove himself to anyone.

Think: If the heavens speak of God day and night, what are some of the things they say about him? What are some concrete things we can know about God from his creation?

Pray: Ask God to help you see his fingerprint in what he has made. Thank him for giving you the ability to notice.

Do: Look up! (Works best if you’re outside.)