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All About Him: Creatures and Children

“All you have made will praise you, O LORD; your saints will extol you. They will tell of the glory of your kingdom and speak of your might, so that all men may know of your mighty acts and the glorious splendor of your kingdom.” (Psalm 145:10-12)

How often do you think of yourself as a creature? As something made by another? As a manufactured item? I don’t much, personally. But it’s what we are, isn’t it? We are made by God. He is creator; we are creation.

ps145_350The reason, maybe, that it’s a hard idea to hold on to is that we are also sons and daughters of the creator, those of us in Christ. We are made and we are adopted. We are assembled and we are children with a home and a Father and a place in the universe.

Why wouldn’t all he has made praise the Lord? Why wouldn’t all of us who see ourselves as both creation and family of the Maker tell all the others of his mighty acts and glorious kingdom . . . our home forever?

I am proud to be made by him and not self-made, to belong to him and not on my own, to call my Maker . . . Father. Of course I will praise him, right along with all else he has made.

Think: Does the fact that you are a created thing make you feel more or less significant? What are some reasons you can think of that anyone would not want to think of themselves as the creation of God?

Pray: Thank God for creating you and offering you a place in his family through faith in his only begotten Son.

Do: Look for an opportunity this week to praise God to a friend or family member who does not believe in Jesus. You don’t have to sing; just say something that is great about him.

All About Him: God of the Testaments

“The LORD is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love. The LORD is good to all; he has compassion on all he has made.” (Psalm 145:8-9)

“How can you believe in the God of the Old Testament? So angry and cruel and vengeful. I’d much rather believe in the God of the New Testament.”

ps145_350Have you heard that one? Aside from the obvious problem that we don’t get to choose who God is, no matter what God we’re willing to worship, the God of the OT and the NT are the same God. He doesn’t change. Ever. God is God.

I don’t blame anyone for wrestling to understand God’s judgement and justice and wrath from a human perspective. But the God who wipes out sinners is the same God who sent his Son to die for sinners and offer salvation.

David describes God’s true character right here – in the heart of the Old Testament – and it is as it ever was: gracious, compassionate, not quick to get angry, loaded with love and good to all. That is a God worthy of our praise.

Think: Do these two verses describe God as you imagine him? If not, how do you need to adjust your picture of him?

Pray: Praise God for his grace, compassion, patience, love, and goodness to all he has made.

Do: Looking for good verses to memorize? Think about adding these two to your list.

All About Him: Talk Think Announce Enjoy

“They will speak of the glorious splendor of your majesty, and I will meditate on your wonderful works. They will tell of the power of your awesome works, and I will proclaim your great deeds. They will celebrate your abundant goodness and joyfully sing of your righteousness.” (Psalm 145:5-7)

Like most of you, when I think about praising God, the picture in my mind involves standing in an audience full of people singing words together as we read them off of a screen. And that’s a good thing we do as part of our worship service. I think we should praise God in that way.

ps145_350But notice the form praise takes in these three verses from Psalm 145. In each of these six phrases, the praiser does something – speak, meditate, tell, proclaim, celebrate, or sing – that is focused on some aspect of God’s greatness – his majesty, works, deeds, goodness, or righteousness.

I think I need to add some of these things to my praise playlist. I need to praise God by talking about his greatness to someone, by meditating on his wonderful works alone in my thoughts, by proclaiming from my Facebook or Twitter status, maybe, his great deeds. How could I celebrate his goodness this week? Would you want to come to that party?

Think: How often do you praise God outside of church? What good things have you said or thought or enjoyed about him this last week or two at home, online, at work or at school?

Pray: Ask God to help you to find more ways to praise him more often for specific things that make him great.

Do: Pick one of the six phrases in today’s passage and make it true of you this week.

All About Him: Unfathomable

“Great is the LORD and most worthy of praise; his greatness no one can fathom. One generation will commend your works to another; they will tell of your mighty acts.” (Psalm 145:3-4)

Fathom is an oceangoing term. It’s a unit of measurement about six feet long; sailors used it to describe the depth of the water below them. When the water was deeper than they could measure, it was said to be unfathomable.

ps145_350We’ve gotten better at measuring ocean depths. For instance, the Mariana Trench is the deepest spot we know of. It’s about 36,000 feet deep (or, I guess, about 6,000 fathoms). Check out this link for a cool visualization of just how deep that is. Notice the little tiny dot at the top to show the size of a person.

The NIV version of today’s verse says that God’s greatness in unfathomable. (Other versions use the world “unsearchable.”) No matter how advanced we become, we’ll never be able to find the bottom of God’s goodness; we’ll never reach the end of his greatness.

That’s just one reason he is worthy of all the concentrated glory-giving praise we can focus in his direction – and why we’ll feel so right and satisfied when we do.

Think: How many other things can you think of in the world that are beyond measuring – or have no end? Who else do you praise besides God for their greatness?

Pray: Tell God that he is worthy of praise and ask him to help you to enjoy praising him as he deserves.

Do: Read today’s passage to another Christian and ask him or her to commend God’s works to you (or to tell you what great things he has done in their life).

All About Him: Everyday and Forever

“I will exalt you, my God the King; I will praise your name for ever and ever. Every day I will praise you and extol your name for ever and ever.” (Psalm 145:1-2)

Human beings are praise machines. We’re built to cheer. It’s in our DNA. That doesn’t mean we always want to do it, but we’ve got the code for it. Put 20 or so of us in a room where someone is performing or competing or even just telling good jokes, and we’re very like to hoot and clap and holler and buy the poster.

ps145_350Our God is the perfect praise-receiving machine. Okay, He’s not a machine, but there is no more natural target for praise in the universe than him. And we’re told hHe actually responds when his kids praise him with real hearts.

It only makes sense that we should get together, especially since that’s what he built us to do and because something in us wakes up and feels truthful when we are in the act of praising him. Everybody wins.

We’re going to praise him right along with the songwriter king of Israel this whole week to find out more about why he deserves our praise – and why we’re missing out if we don’t give it to him.

Think: Does praising God feel to you like a duty or something you look forward to? How hard is it to think of real reasons to praise him? How often do you praise him to someone else without singing?

Pray: Ask God to help you to praise him as he deserves. Thank him that as a Christian, you will praise his name for ever and ever.

Do: If you want to get a jump start on the week, read all the way through Psalm 145.

What Now?: He’s Coming Back

“They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. ‘Men of Galilee,’ they said, ‘why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.’ ” (Acts 1:10-11)

You almost feel bad for the disciples. They’re always playing catch-up to whatever Jesus is talking about or doing, right up to the very end. He tells them not to leave Jerusalem. He says the Holy Spirit will come on them and give them power. He says they will be his witnesses everywhere.

road_350Then he flies up into a cloud! Then some angels show up and say, “Why are you looking at that cloud?” Because Jesus just disappeared into it, that’s why!

But Jesus knew they needed more answers: So he sent these two angels to fill in the gaps. To let them know he was gone to heaven. And to let them know he’s coming back in the same way someday. To let them know the story isn’t over, yet.

What now? Use the power of the Holy Spirit to be Jesus’ witness in this world. And keep watching the sky, getting prepared, waiting for him to come back and make everything right once and for all.

Think: Do you have an expectation that Jesus could come back “in the same way” at any moment? If you did, how would that change the way you live today?

Pray: Thank God that Jesus is coming back someday. Ask him to help you to live like it could be today.

Do: Read on in Acts for the wild, amazing story of the early days of the Christian church.

What Now?: Going Up

“After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight.” (Acts 1:9)

We’ve spent this week walking through Jesus’ last few days before leaving earth, which finally happens in today’s verse. It’s Jesus’ last in-the-flesh miracle. Theologians call it “the Ascension.” To me, it sounds like flying. And that’s cool.

road_350Technically, we’re told Jesus was “taken up,” so maybe he wasn’t the one doing the flying. Either way, he added gravity to the list of natural laws he had effortlessly broken to make the point that he is, in fact, the Son of God.

So where did Jesus go? Peter saw the disappearing act with his own eyes and later said this about Jesus’ next stop: “Jesus Christ . . . has gone into heaven and is at God’s right hand – with angels, authorities and powers in submission to him.” (1 Peter 3:21-22)

So what does he do? Well, here’s one thing: “Jesus, who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us.” (Romans 8:34)

That’s where our Lord is right now – but it’s not the end of the story. Tune in tomorrow.

Think: What surprises you about how Jesus made his exit from earth? How much more seriously would you take his words in verse 8 if he instantly flew into the sky after saying them?

Pray: Thank God that your Lord is right now sitting in heaven at God’s right hand interceding for you.

Do: Read and ponder Acts 1:8 again, Jesus’ last words to his disciples before disappearing into that cloud.