How Great Is Our God

We often think of the Bible as a kind of “how to” to live our life. After all, Scripture is full of statements like “obey thy father and mother,” “pray without ceasing,” and so many other directions. Our devotions can become centered on this aspect of God’s word as well – often consisting of reading a passage and meditating on how we are called to live based on that passage. None of those things are wrong. We do find valuable instruction on how to live our lives in the Scripture, and we should read the Bible from that perspective and think about it often. However, something we can tend to miss with that focus is what Scripture reveals about the greatness of God.

Isaiah 40 lays out the greatness of God using many beautiful metaphors. Isaiah begins in this chapter comforting the people of Israel, telling of the deliverance God will give them from captivity. He then describes the greatness of the God who will deliver them. Reading this chapter puts awe in the heart of the child of God – our God is so great, so all-knowing, that He knows exactly how many specks of dust there are in the earth, and knows the exact measure of the heavens. Nothing man has calculated, no scientific or mathematical theorem can come close to determining those numbers. As far as our finite minds can see, the universe never ends – but God knows its exact bounds.

Verse 15 describes the magnitude of every powerful and great nation in the world to God – a drop in a bucket, or “less than nothing” in verse 17. The governments on this earth seem so sovereign and have so much authority in our eyes – laws are passed that have great effect on our daily lives, wars are declared, and taxes are required – but all their might is puny compared to the might of our God. Even the most powerful of men is as only as strong as a grasshopper in comparison to Him.

His glory is seen even more clearly when we look at creation in the proper perspective. When we realize that God is the one who “stretched out the heavens as a curtain, and spreadeth them out as a tent to dwell there in”, we can examine every aspect of creation and see His amazing design – from the inner workings of our own body, to the fish in the deepest parts of the sea, and the weather patterns that stretch across the entire globe. Wherever men stand in awe at nature, make sure you “lift up your eyes on high, and behold who has created these things.”

And now remember how Isaiah started this chapter – this is the God who will deliver His church Israel. This strong and powerful God who Isaiah has described is not some abstract higher being who really has nothing to do with us. He is our God. He is our strength when we are weary, or when we are struggling with sin. God chose His people out of all the insignificant nations of the earth, loved them with His powerful love, and used that power to deliver us from our sins through His Son. How great is our God!

Kenzie Kuiper

 

Forget Not the Lord Thy God

“Only take heed to thyself, and keep thy soul diligently, lest thou forget the things which thine eyes have seen, and lest they depart from thy heart all the days of thy life: but teach them thy sons, and thy sons’ sons” – Deuteronomy 4:9

Recently in my psychology class, we were studying the stages of child development.  One idea that we studied was that young infants lack “object permanence,” which is the awareness that an object continues to exist even when it cannot be seen or heard.  This is the main idea behind games like peek-a-boo – babies are amused by quick appearances and disappearances because they do not yet understand that people exist even when they cannot see them.

During class, we watched a short video clip of a baby crawling toward a toy. When the toy was covered by a blanket, the baby stopped crawling and looked around, confused. As far as she was concerned, the toy that she had wanted only seconds ago no longer existed! The toy was uncovered again, and she began to crawl toward it, but when the blanket was thrown over it, she would stop. This was repeated several times until finally the toy was in the baby’s reach – but just as she was reaching her hand out to grab it, it was covered by the blanket again. Of course, she pulled back her hand, sat back, and looked around, completely clueless.  Naturally, the video was quite amusing. The baby had just seen the toy, had nearly touched it, yet somehow, she didn’t understand that it was still there!  How silly it seemed to us!

But as I thought more about it, aren’t we sometimes the same way when it comes to remembering the presence of God?  At times, we see God working so clearly in our lives and in the lives of His people, or we hear His Word preached so powerfully into our hearts. When we are spending time in His Word or taking the time to pray, He is at the forefront of our minds. Like the baby crawling toward the toy, we see God and we want to follow after Him and grow closer to Him.

But just as we begin to do this, Satan appears, ready to “cover God up,” to distract us and make us forget about Him. Maybe the blanket he uses is difficult circumstances in life that make it hard to believe that God is really present and working in our lives. Maybe it’s the distractions of the entertainment of this world or simply the busyness of everyday life that keeps us from focusing our hearts on Him.

And the sad thing is, far too often we fall for Satan’s lies and tricks. We hear God’s Word preached so powerfully on Sunday, but the rest of the week we are distracted and forget that He is even there. We make time for devotions in the morning, but then completely erase God from our thoughts for the rest of the day. Like the baby in the video, we look around, confused about what we should be doing because we have lost sight of our goal of growing nearer to Him.

We must not let this happen! Instead, we must be like the apostles, who were so excited by Jesus and His amazing words and works that they said in Acts 4:20, “We cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.”  We need to read God’s Word often, and apply it to our lives so that when Satan attempts to distract us from God and make us forget Him, we see right through his plans and keep our minds and hearts focused on the Lord.

Deuteronomy 8:11 – “Beware that thou forget not the Lord thy God, in not keeping his commandments, and his judgments, and his statutes, which I command thee this day.”

Amy Kaiser

Preparing Our Hearts for Worship

As Christians there is nothing better, nothing sweeter than going to God’s house with fellow believers, hearing the words of Christ spoken, singing Psalms of praise to our God and experiencing the communion of saints. Question 1 of the Heidelberg Catechism asks us, “What is thy only comfort in life and in death?” It is followed by the answer: “My only comfort in life and death is that I belong to my faithful Savior Jesus Christ.” Only through Christ can our true comfort be found, not in things, not in other people, but in Christ. We are not alone. We belong to Christ. We are God’s eternally. We are His precious possessions and He wants us to praise and honor Him.

Going to God’s house is a weekly occurrence that we as Christians do and love to do. Unfortunately, sometimes it can become such a routine, just a habit that it becomes an activity we just do. God calls us to worship Him in spirit and in truth. How often have you thought about the preparations we must make to worship Him?

What we sometimes do.

In getting ourselves ready for worship we can oftentimes prepare everything but our hearts. We have our car gassed up, our collection ready to go, our outfit figured out. But before we arrive at church our minds are on the trivial things of life-the dishes we left in the sink, all of the preparation we have yet to do for lunch, did we leave the stove on? When we are in the pew-on the family sitting in front of us, the baby crying in the back, if it’s too hot or too cold in the sanctuary, the test we have to take on Monday, or the fun things we will be doing that week. Our minds can usually be on everything and anything but on the One whom we came to worship.

Sometimes we may even come ready to serve. Maybe we teach Sunday school, usher, or like to seek out people to talk to after church. We come ready for those things, anticipating those things, all the while forgetting why we do those things. Sometimes maybe that can be where we get our self-worth or significance. We can put too much emphasis on the activities of church and be prepared for those, but forget to be ready to worship God.

Oftentimes we can come with an attitude that says I’m here for me. I’m here so that I can feel better about myself; I’m here so that I feel fulfilled, so that I feel like a good person. I need to walk away with something that I “felt.” With this kind of attitude we can oftentimes feel disappointed-disappointed in the minster himself. When it comes down to it, church can become a place for me rather than God. Is it really always the minister’s fault when I come away saying that there was nothing in that sermon for me? Was it because I was uncomfortable? Maybe it was a hot day. Or was it the way we worshiped? do I think we need to sing more songs that go with today’s culture, or hear more jokes to make me get more out of the worship service? OR is the real reason because I didn’t come with my heart prepared?

How we should do it.

First of all we need to realize, what a privilege it is that we get to gather as fellow believers, go into the house of the Lord, and hear God speak to us. We have no fear of persecution as other believers might, we have a place to worship God, most of us even get to go with our families, these are only a few of the blessings we have been given! Because of this we should be coming to church with a heart of thankfulness. “Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name.” (Psalm 100:4).

We also need to comprehend who we are coming to church to worship. “For by Him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by Him, and for Him” (Colossians 1:16). Or the words of David in 1 Chronicles 29:11 “Thine, O Lord, is the greatness, and the power, and the glory, and the victory, and the majesty: for all that is in the heaven and in the earth is Thine; Thine is the kingdom, O LORD, and Thou art exalted as Head above all.” How great is our God, and how wonderful is it, that we as sinful people, get to come before Him, not only on Sundays, but each and every day! Hebrews 12:28 says “Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear.” This ties into realizing how great and powerful God is. When we come to worship Him we need to do so reverently and with great awe.

There are many ways to prepare our hearts for worship. Prayer is one of the best ways. Pray and ask God to prepare your heart for going to worship Him. Ask Him to make you ready to listen and want to listen. Pray for God to forgive your sins so that you don’t come to church separated from Him. There are practical ways of preparing our hearts: making sure we are well rested, going to bed early and getting up on time so we are able to get ourselves ready. Sometimes even reading the sermon passage beforehand so that we are in the right mindset can be helpful.

Preparing our hearts doesn’t need to be done JUST for attending church either, it needs to be done whenever we spend time worshiping God with our family or alone. Anytime we bow before God in prayer, we need to be in the right mindset–once again realizing how great and powerful the one with whom we are speaking is.

Worship isn’t easy, it takes work. It’s not about me, it’s about hearing God. Worship isn’t deemed “successful” if I come away pleased; it’s successful if God is praised and honored. If we come with hearts ready to worship: sins confessed, no hatred for the brother and thankful hearts, we will leave satisfied. We will come to bless God, but go away being blessed ourselves in the end. “The preparations of the heart in man, and the answer of the tongue, is from the Lord” (Proverbs 16:1).

We will also be satisfied and assured. 1 John 1:7 says: “But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.”  Jesus Christ’s precious blood washed our sins from us and that alone can only make us worthy. Christ is the only one that can satisfy us. Satisfy our hunger for something more, and make us acceptable to God. Knowing God through worshiping Him will help us be assured. Assured that we will have eternal life with God, glorifying and praising Him.

In ending this, a couple verses come to mind. 1 Peter 3:15 “but Sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready to always give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear.” Psalm 95:2-3 says “Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving, and make a joyful noise unto Him with psalms. For the LORD is a great God, and a great King above all gods.”

Prepare your hearts. Come ready to listen and praise our great and glorious God.

Lisa Heystek