Worship the Creator

“Thus says the LORD, “Heaven is My throne and the earth is My footstool. Where then is a house you could build for Me? And where is a place that I may rest? For My hand made all these things, Thus all these things came into being,” declares the LORD.” Isaiah 66:1‭-‬2a NASB

Who are we to question the Creator? Who is man, to build fancy buildings and claim that they are GOD’S house? How do we become so arrogant as to believe that something we put together is sufficient for Him?

I have been blessed to be able to travel some in Europe, and see some of the stunning, soaring architectural features of many cathedrals. I’ve been in the backwoods of middle America, and in the Southwestern states, and witnessed majestic churches and humble adobe ones. The awe that I felt was the same for all. Stepping into a building that is dedicated to the LORD brings a sense of worship to me. I have felt His Presence.

BUT.

I have felt the majesty of my God even more profoundly out in His Creation. Have you ever stood on the edge of a mountain at sunrise, or sunset? Have you witnessed the unspeakable grandeur of the Grand Canyon? Have you stood in a creek at daybreak, witness to His creatures waking to a new dawn? Have you been in a field, listening to His breath as it brushes across your skin? Watching clouds as they appear to boil up on the horizon, or been caught out in a summer rain shower? It amazes me that anyone can see these things, and still refuse to acknowledge our Almighty God!

For all of history, man has been trying to impress God with buildings. I’m not against church buildings. They serve a necessary purpose for the gathering together of fellow believers. It’s when we try to out-majesty the Majesty of our God that we often begin to go astray. Are we trying to impress God, or people? I’m not against pretty churches. I attend a pretty (in my opinion) church. I have enjoyed visiting God’s church buildings across the U.S. and Europe. I’m just afraid that we get too caught up, sometimes, in “going” to church. Especially now, in this weird time of social distancing and not being able to join together in our usual manner, we have the opportunity to observe God in His Creation and worship with Him there.

If you are able, take your online worship outside. Use our Savior’s beautiful creation to enhance your time. I think He will be pleased with us. Even my humble backyard is a part of His glorious world.

WORK : A Four-Letter Word

Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” Genesis 1:26 NASB

God created Man to rule over the earth; to care for it (everything in and on it) and to cultivate it; to subdue the earth – we are a contractor for God the Creator. In other words, we are to work the earth. The LORD God is all about work, and He created us in imitation of Him, in His image: the Bible opens with God working. From Genesis 1:1 (“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” Genesis 1:1 NKJV) to the end of Revelations, God is working. Creator Potter Shepherd Builder Judge ….. we are created in the image of God, therefore we are created to work.

“Who does great things, unfathomable, And wondrous works without number.” Job 9:10 NASB

“For the LORD will rise up as at Mount Perazim, He will be stirred up as in the valley of Gibeon, To do His task, His unusual task, And to work His work, His extraordinary work.” Isaiah 28:21 NASB

“He has made everything appropriate in its time. He has also set eternity in their heart, yet so that man will not find out the work which GOD has done from the beginning even to the end.” Ecclesiastes 3:11 NASB

“Then the LORD GOD took the man and put him into the garden of Eden to cultivate it and keep it.” Genesis 2:15 NASB

Work is an integral part of our lives, and all work is included, from the CEO to the janitor, to the “housewife” to the farmer, to the homeless person picking up cans to sell. No work is better or worse than any other. If the CEO thinks he/she is too good to clean up a spill, or to clean their bathroom or pick up trash, then they have the wrong concept of work. The concept goes far beyond our paid workplace, individually and collectively, as we go about our daily lives. Do you stop to pickup that piece of trash to dispose of it properly, or do you step over it (I’m not getting my hands dirty!)? Are you careful to make the most of our resources, reducing waste, and not being wasteful with food?

We are under a mandate of work – it is a calling, and should never be considered a curse. As our pastor said, “Before Jesus was known as the Christ, He was known as ‘the carpenter’.” From Genesis, we know that work was present before the fall.

“Then the LORD GOD took the man and put him into the garden of Eden to cultivate it and keep it….. Then to Adam He said, “Because you have listened to the voice of your wife, and have eaten from the tree about which I commanded you, saying, ‘You shall not eat from it’; Cursed is the ground because of you; In toil you will eat of it All the days of your life.” Genesis 2:15, 3:17 NASB

The work is not cursed, but it falls under the curse, making it more difficult, as “marked by thorns”. It’s interesting to note that the Greek word for “to cultivate” can be used for work, worship, and service. We are coworkers with God. It’s not for Him to do everything, and not for us to do by ourselves, but to work together in partnership. He wants us integrated with Him and His Will: everything we do is important to God, not just ministry or church work. All work is equally valuable and pleasing to God. There is no sacred/secular or blue/white collar division; in fact, it has been said that a Sacred Place is wherever God has placed us, and according to William Tyndale, all work is sacred.
“Our primary calling as followers of Christ is by him, to him, and for him… Our secondary calling, considering who God is as sovereign, is that everyone, everywhere, and in everything, should think, speak, live, and act entirely for him. We can therefore properly say as a matter of secondary calling that we are called to homemaking or to the practice of law or to art history.” – Os Guinness

I like this, too: “Divine service is done here three times a day” hanging over the kitchen sink of Ruth Bell Graham.

“There is nothing better for a man than to eat and drink and tell himself that his labor is good. This also I have seen that it is from the hand of God.”
Ecclesiastes 2:24 NASB

We Are Insufficient

“Blessed be the LORD, Who has given rest to His people Israel, according to all that He promised; not one word has failed of all His good promise, which He promised through Moses His servant. May the LORD our GOD be with us, as He was with our fathers; may He not leave us or forsake us, that He may incline our hearts to Himself, to walk in all His ways and to keep His Commandments and His Statutes and His Ordinances, which He commanded our fathers. And may these words of mine, with which I have made supplication before the LORD, be near to the LORD our GOD day and night, that He may maintain the cause of His servant and the cause of His people Israel, as each day requires, so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the LORD is GOD; there is no one else. Let your heart therefore be wholly devoted to the LORD our GOD, to walk in His Statutes and to keep His Commandments, as at this day.”

In 1 Kings 8 we learn about the temple Solomon builds for the LORD GOD. To build today, it would cost $200 billion dollars, or $60 million dollars per square foot* for Solomon’s temple; just the building itself. For reference, the average square foot price in the Oklahoma City Metro area is $117*, according to Zillow Real Estate Marketplace.

[See 2 Samuel 6:13 for the story of moving the Ark containing the tablets of Moses with the Ten Commandments to Jerusalem. We learn in that passage that Aaron’s rod and the pot of manna are no longer in the ark.]

Consider the scope of this day:

“And King Solomon and all the congregation of Israel, who were assembled to him, were with him before the ark, sacrificing so many sheep and oxen they could not be counted or numbered.” 1 Kings 8:5 NASB

Nothing we can do is sufficient; and these passages highlight just how insufficient we are. 1 Kings 8:1-64 describes the temple Solomon built to house the Ark of the LORD; to glorify the Most High God. In spite of being the most beautiful, expensive building (v27) ever built, it is insufficient for God. The countless sacrificial animals are insufficient. The priests are insufficient. The altars are insufficient. The immense sacrifice of all of the animals was insufficient. God’s PRESENCE was there, but He doesn’t LIVE there. Anything we can do is insufficient, because GOD ALONE is sufficient for us, for every area of life. It took the once and for all sacrifice of Jesus (Hebrews 9:26) to be sufficient to cover our sins.

The significance of this passage is to highlight the insufficiency of man, and the sufficiency of God. It talks of God’s Presence (v.57,59), God’s Power (v58), God’s Passion (v.60), and God’s Pardon (v.62-63). Seven times in the chapter Solomon highlights the listening of God.

Now the king and all Israel with him offered sacrifice before the LORD. Solomon offered for the sacrifice of peace offerings, which he offered to the LORD, 22,000 oxen and 120,000 sheep. So the king and all the sons of Israel dedicated the house of the LORD. On the same day the king consecrated the middle of the court that was before the house of the LORD, because there he offered the burnt offering and the grain offering and the fat of the peace offerings; for the bronze altar that was before the LORD was too small to hold the burnt offering and the grain offering and the fat of the peace offerings.” 1 Kings 8:56‭-‬64 NASB

Where is your significance? Does it it lie in Jesus Christ alone, or are you still trying to prove your own sufficiency to the LORD GOD of the Universe?

Co-Regents with GOD

Did you realize that man was created to rule with God? In Genesis 1-2, Adam and Eve were created as co-regents with God to rule over ALL of creation. He created us to be rulers over the earth. How are we doing?

“Then GOD said, ‘Let Us make man in Our Image, after Our Likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.’ And GOD blessed them. And GOD said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.’ ” Genesis 1:26‭, ‬28 ESV

“The LORD GOD took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it.” Genesis 2:15‭ ESV

GOD is the Creator, and man is His Creation, created to rule over the earth and everything in it. He gave us free will to make our own decisions, so I ask again, how are we doing? Based on what I see, I don’t think the Creator is going to be giving us any commendations like this master did:

“And he said to him, ‘Well done, good slave, because you have been faithful in a very little thing, you are to be in authority over ten cities.’ ” Luke 19:17 NASB

The astounding thing to me is that even with the incredible mess we have made of our lives and the earth, JESUS CHRIST, Son of the Living GOD, integral part of the Trinity, still wants us to reign with Him for eternity (that’s a long time). He, Jesus Christ, is the second Adam, and we will reign with Him! Based on how we do here, we will each be put in a different place of authority. Faithfulness is the key.

“If we endure, we will also reign with Him; If we deny Him, He also will deny us…..” 2 Timothy 2:12 NASB

“He who overcomes, I will grant to him to sit down with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne.” Revelation 3:21 NASB

“And there will no longer be any night; and they will not have need of the light of a lamp nor the light of the sun, because the LORD GOD will illumine them; and they will reign forever and ever.” Revelation 22:5 NASB

What will we reign over?

“Or do you not know that the saints will judge the world? If the world is judged by you, are you not competent to constitute the smallest law courts? Do you not know that we will judge angels? How much more matters of this life?” 1 Corinthians 6:2‭-‬3 NASB

I know I’m not competent to judge anybody, or anything, yet my LORD is going to elevate me to co-rule with Him. That’s the most humbling thought….. He’s lifting you up to that throne, too, if you have accepted and acknowleged Him as your personal Saviour. Where are you today? Are you anticipating being co-regent with the GOD of the Ages, or are you still waffling? If you haven’t decide, remember, we aren’t promised tomorrow, or even the next 5 minutes. Make up your mind.

First, Last ….. I AM

This is what the LORD says—Israel’s King and Redeemer, the LORD of Heaven’s Armies: “I AM the First and the Last; there is no other God. Who is like Me? Let him step forward and prove to you his power. Let him do as I have done since ancient times when I established a people and explained its future. Do not tremble; do not be afraid. Did I not proclaim My purposes for you long ago? You are My witnesses—is there any other God? No! There is no other Rock—not one!” Isaiah 44:6‭-‬8 NLT

This is what the LORD says— your Redeemer and Creator: “I AM the LORD , who made all things. I alone stretched out the heavens. Who was with Me when I made the earth?” Isaiah 44:24 NLT

Let Us Make Man in Our Image

Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. God blessed them; and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” – Genesis 1:26‭-‬28 NASB

We are made in GOD’s image. Look in the mirror. What do you see? From whitest white to blackest black, and every shade of skin between, we are made in God’s image. Man or woman, we are made in God’s image. African, Asian, Pacific Islander, European, American (North or South), whatever continent or landmass you are from, we are all made in God’s image. It makes me crazy when people insist on separating us by color! I have sisters and brothers that don’t match my skin tone, but that doesn’t make our relationship any less. I saw a post online about two little girls who insist they are twins. They are not biologically related, and their skin color is quite the opposite, and that doesn’t matter at all to them. As far as they are concerned, they are twins.

Of course we are different culturally. That’s a given. I celebrate cultural diversity, and love getting to know different customs and culinary styles. It’s fascinating to see how different our customs can be even when we are in the same nation. From deep in Cajun country to the Navajo farmer to the California surfer there is probably as much or more cultural difference as between a Midwesterner to a Moscovite. But color? That’s a man-made distinction that doesn’t – shouldn’t – exist in God’s universe. We are all people of color, excepting albinos, who lack pigmentation in their skin. Even then, we could consider them the basis for all of the rest of us!

So what then, you ask?

As Christ followers, Christians, it is imperative that we lead the movement of taking “race” out of our vocabularies. My sisters Deborah and Brenda, who just happen to have different parents and darker skin colors than me, are still my sisters. They aren’t a different race. We are all part of, and full members of, the human race. Celebrate the diversity of skin colors and body shapes and unique faces that our Glorious God saw fit to populate our world with!

Can I get an AMEN, people!!

Image by Dreamstime.com

Joy, Joy, Joy!

“Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell Me, if you have understanding, Who set its measurements? Since you know. Or who stretched the line on it? On what were its bases sunk? Or who laid its cornerstone, When the morning stars sang together And all the sons of God shouted for joy? Or who enclosed the sea with doors When, bursting forth, it went out from the womb; When I made a cloud its garment And thick darkness its swaddling band, And I placed boundaries on it And set a bolt and doors, And I said, ‘Thus far you shall come, but no farther; And here shall your proud waves stop’?” – Job 38:4‭-‬11 NASB

Oh, the Absolute Joy of Creation!

“Shout joyfully to the LORD, all the earth. Serve the LORD with gladness; Come before Him with joyful singing.” – Psalms 100:1‭-‬2 NASB

Listen to All of Creation by Mercy Me!

“Praise the LORD! Oh give thanks to the LORD, for He is good; For His Lovingkindness is everlasting.” – Psalms 106:1 NASB (Psalm 118:1, 136:1)

There is so much to be thankful for! So much JOY to be had, if we just reach out for it. Finding beauty in our pain, our loneliness, our darkness…. it isn’t easy, but it’s possible. I woke up today. Sometimes, I think about the alternative to waking up here and how utterly glorious it will be to wake up with Jesus, but I’m not ready to leave just yet. So I am thankful I woke up! I walk out the door and view the profusion of God’s decorations – flowers, trees, birds – and I rejoice at His Creation. Our birth families may not be what we hoped for, but we have many opportunities to forge our own families with people we love. I am blessed to love and be loved by my birth family. We should always be able to find something to fing joy in and rejoice over!

“These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full.” – John 15:11 NASB

Jesus gives us an even greater reason for joy. He came to us, stooped down to our level, to bring His Joy to us. Amazing Grace! His Joy can be in us! Accept it!

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