For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, for it is made holy by the word of God and prayer.

1 Timothy 4: 4, 5

Although Paul had just indicated that he was discussing the subject of marriage and of setting aside the consumption of certain foods, this statement about the goodness of all of creation is, I think, to be much broader in its application. This statement takes us back to the beginning of earth’s time when it was all formed out of nothing by God’s hand, and when at the end of the phases of that process it was pronounced to be good and very good by the most exacting of all critics, God Himself. Nothing that He made was of any lesser character or quality, and in the end of that process, it was all here for the care, feeding, and nurture of God’s final and pinnacle work, God’s companions in the garden, humanity. Now, not everything escaped the rampage of sin upon the perfection that came forth from God’s touch, but everything was given the promise of redemption from sin and restoration to that sacred point of origin.

Moving ahead from Paul and Timothy’s times to ours, we still live in an age where our understanding of the holy and the sacred becomes confused and distorted. We see some times in our lives as our periods of devotion to God. We may take an hour or two out of a Saturday or a Sunday to commit to worship and to gathering with other people of faith in the name of the Lord. We might also give some part of other days or even of every day to a spiritual practice or devote it to the reading of Scripture and consider that to be serious devotion of our lives to the Lord. But Paul is telling us to live life with a different set of priorities and a reframed perspective on all of the content of our days. When he says that all of God’s creation is good, Paul is indicating that there is little that we will encounter in the universe that falls outside of the realm of the sacred. As Paul talks in terms of the elements and the aspects of life being made holy through prayer and by the word of God, he is providing us with a form of liturgy to be lived out in the course of life.

With this attitude and approach to each and every aspect of life on view, the ratio of the hours of our days that are sacred verses those that are secular is inverted. The perspective that is being stated here makes even the most ordinary of tasks into something that can be devoted to worship of God. It says that we can and even should be giving thanks to God for the pleasure that we find in the company of friends, for the stimulation of a good book, for the simple joy of biting into a crisp apple, and for every other element of this world that we encounter or engage with. It is all good as it is taken before the Lord and dedicated to Him. All of life is thus lived out as an act of worship, and every day is one that is spent in the presence of the same God and Father that walked with the first people in the garden. Now the mundane is sacred, the routine is divinely inspired, and all interactions with our world and especially with God’s preferred of creation, with people, take place in the presence of the Most High God.  

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Then the devil left him, and behold, angels came and were ministering to him.

Matthew 4: 11

There is something that I need to admit. I have never seen an angel. At least, I have not set eyes upon one that I was aware of looking at. Still, I believe that they exist, and I am certain that they are active and involved in our world today. The scene that Matthew records is the one in which Jesus was tempted by Satan over a period of forty days, and this is that point when the test was finished, but Mark makes it clear that these angels were with Jesus throughout the ordeal of temptations and deprivation. The presence of these angels, I think, had less to do with the fact that the person who was receiving their support and aid was God, Himself, than it was a part of the way that the Father cares about and for this world and its inhabitants. Angels seem to do various forms of work and take on tasks at God’s bidding. He sends them forth to enter into the events and the situations that are present in our world.

They seem to be operators in the background of the world for the most part, but there are times recorded in scripture when they are involved on the front lines of the action and where they are seen and known by the participants in various events. Their purpose is always to serve God’s greater mission, and they never seek to be thanked or worshiped in any sense for what they have done. Their actions are a form of worship that they are giving to the Lord, and it would appear that their reward is found in simply existing in the presence of God. So, if I haven’t seen them and they don’t want to be recognized for what they do so they are perhaps a bit shy about being noticed, why do I think that they are real and prevalent in our world? Could it be that they were either an aspect of an earlier age in history only, or that they are nothing more than a part of myth or of the telling of fanciful fables?

So, my belief in the presence of angles is based upon the fact that they are mentioned some 203 times in the Bible with their presence, actions, and purposes being well and thoroughly described by numerous authors along the course of that narrative. Beyond that, there are instances in life that are hard to explain without the interaction or the interjection of some form of wise, capable, and powerful forces that comes from outside of the perceived world at hand. These hand of God moments could be the direct action of God, Himself, but they could also be the work of these angelic beings, who are acting in agreement with God’s will and His plans. Recognizing the presence of angels in my world has one primary purpose, and that is so that I will remain mindful of the remarkable presence of God in the environment where I dwell. The Lord literally saturates this place with His presence. He walks upon this earth through each and every aspect and facet of every day that the Sun rises and sets, and His hand of love, grace, mercy, justice, and righteousness is not absent for even a second of those days. These angels, who I do not see but know that they are with me, are proof of God’s profound and unceasing care for all of His Creation. 

Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name;

worship the LORD in the splendor of holiness.

Psalm 29: 2

 

According to Merriam-Webster the verb ascribe has a simple definition; “to refer to a supposed cause, source, or author: to say or think that (something) is caused by, comes from, or is associated with a particular person or thing.”

Ascription indicates the source or the cause; so, when David tells us to ascribe glory to the Lord, he is saying that the Lord, Himself, is the one who wrote the book on glory. This form of brilliance is both greater than all light, including the illumination that comes from the sun, and also gives off a form of illumination that penetrates to the depths of the heart and the soul to reveal all that is to be found there. This is the glory that is of the Lord and that also emanates from Him. We cannot draw near to God and not be caught up in the power and the beauty of His light of glory.

 

So, if we seek to be close to God, we will encounter glory. As we seek to know Him, we experience this same great light, and the glow that comes from God’s presence is one that is infused with His holiness and that also pours out that same great cleansing truth over and into all who will accept God as our Lord. This is a wonderful gift and a marvelous reward for turning away from the influences of this world and surrendering to the love, grace, and mercy of the Father as expressed by and through Jesus Christ, the Son. In simple fact, we do not actually cause glory to be associated with God, for God is self-referential in this matter. We acknowledge what is there as we speak out our comprehension of the character and nature of our Lord and Creator. His glory is something that predates all of Creation. It is a part of the fabric of the universe as God imparted His great light of truth into all that His hands formed and granted life to. God’s glory is present in Heaven and in all that exists outside of it.

 

Although we encounter this glory in and around us in many places and as a part of much of our world, there is still only one source for it. In addition, all that is truly glorious in our world and in life comes from that same source. Now God is not stingy with giving out His glory to us; instead, He distributes it freely and widely. However, if we desire to know the source of this life-giving light, we must seek after and draw near to the Lord. As we call out God’s name and associate it with words of adoration, praise, and petition, we are engaging in worship. We also do this when we bring the pain and the struggles of our days to our Lord with trust in His goodness and mercy and expectant hope for His comfort and provision. The Lord is honored by the way that we live out our lives when we do so in response to Christ’s great sacrificial love for us, and He counts it as worship when we pour out justice, mercy, comfort, and protection upon people who are broken and downtrodden. Each and every aspect of worship comes about in response to who God is and as a reflection of the glory that radiates from His presence. As we worship we speak back to God the truth of His great love, and we open our hearts and our minds to encountering ever more of God’s awesome presence.

 

 

Everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, for it is made holy by the word of God and prayer.

1 Timothy 4: 4, 5

 

There is much in this world that I take for granted. It is with us. It is a part of the background of life. These may be things that are relatively necessary such as food and water, and there may be the background of existence such as trees, earth, and sky. The point is that I don’t think much about them, for they just are. It comes as no surprise that God might want for me to hold all of this differently as interacting with and viewing these things is a rather frequent occurrence. God has an annoying way of showing me that my perspective is distorted and how His passion meets my indifference. I guess that this is another in the long list of reasons why He is God and I am blessed to serve Him as my King.

 

In this passage Paul is reminding us that God expressed a benedictory blessing upon all of His creation. In the creation account of Genesis we hear that God proclaimed that it was all good. I believe that He meant what He said. All of creation was good, and it was all intended to be of benefit to the people that God had fashioned in His image to dwell in the land and to hold dominion over it on behalf of and in honor to our Lord. That is how God intended for it to be. However, sin entered in, and all of it became broken and God’s perfect plan was distorted by Satan’s deception and by our acceptance of those half-truths and lies. We have created false rules to live by. We have turned away from God and to the worship of various aspects of creation. Humanity has become diminished from our God-ordained position of authority and responsibility by our fears and our arrogant and self-centered need to gain power and control.

 

God wants us to view our entire world with a thankful heart. Everything that we see, touch, and experience is here for a purpose. Even the smallest of organisms was crafted by the hand of the master craftsman. Whether we view this world through the lens of a microscope or we look out into the universe with a telescope what we see is the handiwork of the King. Yet, none of it, not even the most amazing and magnificent of the things that we see, is worthy of praise or worship. All of creation points to the loving and orderly heart of the Creator, God Almighty. Perspective on it all is gained as we express our thanks to Him for this incredible gift that He made for our benefit. The Lord provides understanding of our role and responsibility in its management and care as we search His heart and will in His Word and through prayer. In this way God reveals the magnificence of His generosity, and He directs His people to live in a manner that points others toward the Creator.

O LORD, our Lord,

how majestic is your name in all the earth!

Psalm 8: 1

 

Almost everyone has read poetry. Most of us have written some of it, too. You may read or write it because you were required to do this by a teacher or a parent, or you may do it out of interest and even with great enjoyment and pleasure. Regardless of the personal reason for the contact with poetry, its highly stylized and emotion-charged words can be very impactful. These words are often fanciful and chosen for the way that they sound over what they actually say, or, at least, so it seems. In the two simple lines above we are granted the opportunity to look into the mind and the heart of one of history’s great poets, who also happens to be a passionate follower of God and a keen observer of His hand at work in our world.

 

From his early days as the young son that was left out to care for the family’s sheep on through his years of serving God and Israel as king, David was very much aware of the presence of the Lord. He experienced God’s creative hand in the land where he walked each day, in the animals that he cared for and that he encountered, and in the manner by which his needs were met, whether that was accomplished in the mundane course of the day’s occupation or through means that were nothing if not miraculous. The eyes of David’s heart were open and attuned to the touch of the Creator in everything in his world. The sun and the moon, the sky and the earth, the mountains and the valleys were all formed and placed by David’s God. The animals that fed his family and the ones that sought to kill and devour them and him were also a part of that Divine tableau. Even the flea that would bite and suck blood and the Swallowtail butterfly with its tuxedo-like appearance told the story of a God who was intimately involved in the details.

 

Thus, David could shout and sing out about the nature and the character of the God who it seemed had fabricated and maintained the world for the sake of His beloved child. Every experience of life was one more episode in the story of dwelling in the glorious presence of the Lord. For David and for us, the exquisite and splendid beauty of this world speaks of the One who formed it and of the remarkable way that His creation is designed so that my ancestors, my descendants, and myself would be fed and cared for in both body and in spirit. David’s poetry may be fanciful, beautiful, and highly creative and mine is not, but that doesn’t really matter. We both travel the roads that God sets out for us, and I can do exactly what David did in his days. I can go about everything that I do with my eyes open and my heart surrendered to the presence of my Lord. Then, His name will be on my tongue as the song of my heart, and every step of the journey can be taken in worshipful response to His name.

By the word of the LORD the heavens were made,

And by the breath of his mouth all their host.

Psalm 33: 6

 

Most of us are aware of the power of words, and because of this power, as we mature, we learn how to manage and control them. Yet, in all of my experience with words and with their use or misuse, I have never encountered anything like what is described here. A few words, some simple utterances, and all that fills the night sky came into being. The wonders of our childhood gazing, and the majesty of the psalmists vision went from nonexistence into the fullness of presence at the expulsion of a breath. Nothing, with its void that was vast beyond the scope of science fiction, was transformed into light and color and motion, and all that was necessary for life to come into being was formed up as well from out of those slim consonants and vowels.

 

Yet, this is not really the great wonder of it all. The fact that God has the capability and the capacity to do this is not nearly so marvelous to me as is the fact that He wanted to do it. For in so doing He brought into being each and every one of us inhabitants of the vastness that is the universe. God, who had no need for more than He has within the complex and infinite One that He is, designed and created a universe with His glory on display and for the sake of relating to that same creation in ways that are personal and intimate. This very God of all gods, the only true being at the center of creation, desires to have the opportunity to speak His words of love, grace, and eternal fellowship to and with simple, flawed, and rebellious creatures such as myself.

 

To me, this is the true, great wonder of who God is and of how He engages with this world. The Lord, Almighty, whose words alone are all that was required for the entire substance of creation to form up and to become the remarkably complex construct that surrounds us today desires to speak in terms of love, care, comfort, and instruction to the heart and the mind of a fallen and stubborn being such as myself. The Lord, while holding the expanse of the universe in His hand, also holds my wounded and sorrowful heart in the tenderest of all possible embraces. The God whose vocabulary includes the names of all of the stars in the heavens also knows my deepest fears and concerns and whispers His poem of love and acceptance into my ears in order to sooth my need and quiet my fears. This is the Lord. He is bigger than all of creation; yet, He still knows each of us in a way that only the One who breathed each of us into being could possibly do.

 

Of old you laid the foundation of the earth,

and the heavens are the work of your hands.

Psalm 102: 25

 

Whether we can trace our ancestry back for hundreds of years or if we don’t know who our parents were, everyone has a personal history. We came from somewhere and that origin has a lineage to it even if we know little to nothing about it. The same is true for the earth; it has an origin as does all that surrounds it in the universe beyond. We can study and consider those beginnings with all of the considerable resources at our disposal and learn fascinating facts about the timing of that origin, its processes, and the long-term effects that have been caused by our habitation on this earth. Yet, none of this study and little of the information that it engenders tell us anything about the most important aspects of the foundations upon which the universe, our earth, and humanity were devised.

 

The beginning of all was in the hands of God. This is something that happened outside of the framework of time, as we understand it. In fact, this God effected beginning would seem to define the initiation of a form of time that operates behind and beyond the structure of calendars and clocks and in itself sets the underlying rhythm and process of the entirety of what we consider as being time. Within God’s creation work is embedded the essential truth that lies beneath all that we know. All that is true is found in the nature and the character of God, Himself, and everything that we humans possess by way of righteousness and love was imparted to us by God as He created us in His image. In a similar manner, other than imparting His image into the created, God granted all of the work of His hands with the touch of the divine.

 

So, when we desire to know and to understand this world where we live, we should seek to know the One who created it. As we consider how to live better with those around us, we can look with care and contemplation upon the hands that created them and the heart of that Creator. In order to enter into healthy and growing relationships with people, both those who are close to us and those who are naturally more distant, we can start that process by seeking to know and to understand the way that God thinks about people, the manner by which He engages with us, and the nature of His love, grace, and mercy as they are applied to relationships with us. God has granted to us a solid platform to stand upon when we seek to engage with our world, and wisdom, insight, and understanding of how to enter into life within this realm. We gain an ever increasing level of access to these deep truths and wisdom as we seek out God and listen to His words of life.