Christianity 201

October 7, 2018

The Heavens Announce: “God’s Got This!”

This is the first time featuring the author of “A Contemplative Heart” who we think (maybe?) is from Canada!

Click the title below to read at source.

Of the sky and my gaze

I’m not always good with surprises. Gift surprises – great. Shifting plans surprises – much less great. My mind starts whirling. What could happen? What could go wrong? How come my mind never asks “What could go right?” At heart, am I really a pessimist with regards to my plans and change? 

The heavens proclaim his righteousness, and all the peoples see his glory. Psalm 97:6 (NIV)

The heavens announce that he’ll set everything right, And everyone will see it happen – glorious! Psalm 97:6 (MSG)

 The author of Psalm 97 had a much better view than I usually do. His eyes weren’t on himself. If he was noticing the heavens, then his eyes were not fixed on the present. They weren’t fixed on circumstances – the rightness or wrongness of the moment. They weren’t fixed on how excited or nervous, joyful or angry he felt.

His eyes were focused upward. Gaze fixed on the heavens above him.

I wonder what he saw? Was it the morning and he had just gotten up and was wondering what the day had for him? He watched the sun make its way up over the horizon. The sky a wash of reds, oranges and yellows. Was it the middle of the day and he needed a break from his work? He looked up and the sky was clear. Majestic blue spreading out to the horizon. Or was the sky filled with clouds, the premonition of rain and a storm waiting to be unleashed. Was it evening and the meal’s residue was being cleared away and he happened to glance out the window? The sky speckled with millions of stars all twinkling down. Regardless of the kind of sky he saw, God’s glory was on display. It could not be missed.

Sometimes, I let the sky dictate my mood. Grey and overcast – somewhat grumpy and gloomy. Brilliant blue – joyful and fun. Stormy – uncertain and unsettled. Rain or snow – wanting to stay home with a cup of tea and a good book.

That’s not God’s intention for me. Instead, the sky is the canvas of reminders that God’s got this! He knows the sun that is needed for life to be sustained, plants to grow, people to thrive. He knows the rain needed for plants to bring forth their crop and the earth to be watered. He knows that snow provides the perfect carpet to cover the ground and give it a rest even as I anxiously await the melting of spring. He knows. He’s not surprised. He’s not mistaken or confused. The sky is another reminder of His beauty on display. A testament of His care for all He has made.

God, make me a sky watcher. I want my gaze fixed on You. I want to notice how you provide for each detail of my life. I want to be focused on You and what You are doing. Your plan is better and more wonderful than I can imagine. You are the one to “set everything right.” Thank you! Amen.


Behind the Scenes at Christianity 201

Hunting and gathering material for C201 is always interesting, especially on the days we seek out writers to highlight here for the first time; as often happens with the Sunday Worship feature.

This week we discovered the blog SamSword, written by Jori Sams; and the article Commentary: God-Inspired Music.

She had this paragraph:

In the Bible where we see music and song taking place, it is always full of the love and praise of God. Look at Deborah’s song in Judges. Or the songs sung in the book of Revelation. In 1 Chronicles 16. The New Testament reveals Jesus breaking into songs of praise with His disciples. In modern times we can look at songs like, “I Can Only Imagine,” for inspiration.

which got me wondering what she meant about “Jesus breaking into songs…”

The first search result took me to the article, Jesus Sings at the Desiring God website.

…In four places in Scripture we read that Jesus, the Son of God himself, raised his voice in worship.1

Which is immediately confusing on one level. It’s not that there’s anything wrong with singing, just that I imagine our Savior much better suited as the silent recipient of adoration and worship (Revelation 5:6–14). But he also sings. And the only way to understand why Jesus sings is to briefly walk through all four passages…

Two of the passages were parallel reference to the hymn at the end of The Last Supper; the other two require connection to the Old Testament passages alluded to. You can read the article yourself and decide how much can be inferred.

Personally, I believe that Jesus would have sung at the synagogue services he attended, but there are no explicit references beyond the Upper Room meal. Apparently the gospel writers didn’t attach a lot of importance to it.

 

April 24, 2013

The Heavens Are Trying To Get Your Attention

Today we’re featuring Charlie LeHardy, who writes at AnotherThink.  At first look, this particular devotional article may seem somewhat elementary, but allow yourself to dig a little deeper with this.  You’re encouraged to read this at source, where it appeared simply as Look Up!

The heavens proclaim the glory of God. The skies display His craftsmanship.
Day after day they continue to speak; night after night they make Him known.
They speak without a sound or word; their voice is never heard.
Yet their message has gone throughout the earth, and their words to all the world.
— Psalm 19:1-4, NLT, a Psalm of King David

On Tuesday night, my friend Parks set his camera up on a hillside and captured an image of the comet Pan-STARRS, below. On Wednesday, Thursday and Friday I attempted the same thing, but failed to even see the comet much less get a photo. Millions of people around the globe saw the comet, but not me. Thousands of people on every continent photographed this visitor as it passed by, but I completely missed it.

The problem, of course (aside from my bad eyes) is that while the heavens are busy proclaiming the glory of God, they do it silently and subtly. What I needed were icons, arrows, and flashing pop-up messages in the sky. If I had been wearing one of those Google Spectacle™ gizmos, I could have turned my head in the general direction of the comet Pan-STARRS and an animated Google Doodle™ would have directed me right to it. Oh brave new world.

Because the heavens “speak” of God’s glory “without a sound or word,” their message is admittedly ambiguous. As David looked up at the night sky, especially on those long night watches in the fields as a shepherd, he had the time to really study what he was seeing, time to ponder what it all meant. He saw beauty. He would have observed the way the stars moved across the sky night after night, always returning to their places for the next night’s performance. He saw the faster-moving planets, the cyclical phases of the moon, streaking meteors, perhaps even a comet or two. When you take the time to look deep and long into the night sky, the universe seems almost alive, immense, ordered but sprinkled with random acts of unpredictability and surprise.

In all that wondrous beauty and ordered chaos, David saw God at work. But what about today?

Well, for one thing, half of us live in the midst of so much artificial light pollution that we never see the stars at all. And even when we might have a chance to look up, there are so many wondrous things dragging our gaze downward that we seldom do.

I ate lunch yesterday at a Thai restaurant with some friends, and during the meal I noticed a table of four young men, all with their heads bowed. I smiled, assuming they were praying together. On closer inspection I could see that each of them was hunched over his smart phone, oblivious to the others sitting nearby, lost in the artificial wonders to be found in a tiny glowing screen.

That may be an apt metaphor for our times: the heavens still declare the glory of God, but we’re all engrossed in our cell phones, too busy surfing and chatting and tweeting to look up.

God is speaking. Are you listening? God’s glory is displayed in the heavens. When was the last time you paused to look up?

Here’s a classic worship song from The Maranatha Singers’ Psalms Alive project based on today’s text: