The One on the throne

Read Psalm 96 this morning. Is there anywhere else in the Scriptures where so many exclamation marks are packed into one short chapter? I don’t know; I haven’t done that research. But I do know the Lord Almighty deserves every one.

This psalm is David’s exuberant response to everything God is and has done.

Worship the Lord in all his holy splendor,
Let all the earth tremble before him.
Tell all the nations, “The Lord reigns!”
(verses 9,10)

We constantly use the title Lord to refer to or speak to God. When the word leaves our lips, do we think of what we’re saying?

Jesus used it when He prayed to His Father: “O Father, Lord of heaven and earth…” (Matthew 11:25)

“Lord” is one of those words we’ve thrown about so much and so carelessly that I fear we’ve lost the weight of it. I don’t think Jesus used it just out of habit, as we so often do. I think Jesus’ use of the word Lord was acknowledgment and worship of the One who rules. Dictionary.com has a powerful reminder for us today. It defines lord as “A person who has authority, control, or power over others; a master, chief, or ruler.”

The Apostle John was given a vision of a door standing open in heaven, and he was invited to come, take a look. “And I saw a throne in heaven and someone sitting on it,” he wrote. (see Revelation 4:1,2).

A glimpse into heaven’s throne room!

There John saw the holy Lord God, the Almighty, worshipped by creatures representing all of creation. Everything and everyone falls down and worships the One on the throne.

Who is God? He is the One on the throne.

He is the Creator. He existed before our world, before our time. He always was and always will be. All of creation—all we know of it and all we have yet to discover—was created because it pleased Him to do so. This is His world. It is not simply a speck whirling through time and space. The Lord of heaven and earth has a plan for His creation, and He will carry it out. And His plan, by the way, includes a coming day when everyone and everything will bow before His throne and acknowledge Him as Lord.

Oh, to have a glimpse into that heavenly throne room! To have the door opened, just enough for us to catch even a smidgeon of awe at God’s rule and sovereignty! Our eyesight is so clouded and dull. Too often, all we can see is the world right in front of us.

But God, in His grace, does give us glimpses. In His created nature. In His Word, as the Spirit uses it to speak to our souls. Through other children of God, who live in His Spirit. Psalm 111: 2-3 says that everything the Lord does reveals His glory and majesty. “All who delight in the Lord should ponder His amazing works.” We do catch sight of the One on the throne.

Our hope knows that He is Lord.

Today, Lord of heaven and earth, give your children a glimpse into your throne room and remind our hope that You alone are on the throne.

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Who is God?

In Athens, Paul noticed the altar to “An Unknown God.” He introduced the Athenians to God. Our God is the same God.

“He is the God who made the world and everything in it. He himself gives life and breath to everything and satisfies every need.
He created all the nations throughout the whole earth. He decided beforehand when they should rise ad fall, and he determined their boundaries.
His purpose was for the nations to seek after God and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him — though he is not far from any one of us.
Now he commands everyone everywhere to repent of their sins and turn to him.
For he has set a day for judging the world with justice …”
(from Acts 17:24-31)

That’s the God on whom our hope rests.

 

 

Psalm Prayer:

For you are great and perform wonderful deeds.
You alone are God.
(Psalm 86:10)

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For MORE glimpses of the One on the throne: Exodus 34:5-7; Deuteronomy 4:35, 39; 1 Samuel 2:2-3; Job 41:11; Psalm 22:27-29; Psalm 24:1-2; Psalm 29; Psalm 33:6-15; Psalm 46:8-10; Psalm 86:8-10; Psalm 96; Psalm 100:3; Psalm 102:25-27; Psalm 103:19; Psalm 111:2-3; Psalm 115:3; Psalm 119:55: Psalm 135:5-6; Psalm 148:5-6, 13; Isaiah 40:12-31; Isaiah 42:8; Isaiah 44:24; Isaiah 46:1-4, 9-10; Isaiah 48:12-13; Isaiah 51:6; Isaiah 55:8-9; Isaiah 66:1-3; Jeremiah 10:1-16; Hosea 14:8-9; Zechariah 12:1; Acts 17:22-31; Romans 11:33-36; Romans 12:11-12; 1 Timothy 1:17; Hebrews 4:13; Jude 1:25; Revelation 1:8; Revelation 4:1-2.

 

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© Elaine Starner 2015 Photo credits: Thanks to Claire Pridgeon, Paul Stutzman, Lana Turner, and Mary Jane Smith for sharing photography I’ve used on this site. (Click on each name to see more.)

“Who else?”

“Who else has held the oceans in his hand?
Who has measured off the heavens with his fingers?
Who else knows the weight of the earth or has weighed the mountains and hills on a scale?”
(Isaiah 40:12)

We can only attempt to grasp the glory and power of our God. He has no equal, and I suspect human language is totally inadequate. I am totally inadequate to write this post.

But if we want to at least begin to put our thinking about God into a proper perspective, all we need to do is read Isaiah 40:5-28. The opening lines of this post are from that passage. Here’s a few more:

Who is able to advise the Spirit of the Lord? Who knows enough to give him advice or teach him?

…all the nations of the world are but a drop in the bucket. They are nothing more than dust on the scales.

Are you deaf to the words of God—the words he gave before the world began?

God sits above the circle of the earth…

He spreads out the heavens like a curtain and makes his tent from them.

He judges the great people of the world and brings them all to nothing.

Who created the stars? He calls each by its name…because of his incomparable strength, not a single one is missing…

Many other passages in Scripture attempt to describe His greatness and power. But how can we fathom it? In Romans 11, the Apostle Paul exclaims How great are God’s riches and wisdom and knowledge! It’s impossible for us to grasp. God reminds us, too, that His thoughts are not our way of thinking, and His ways are far beyond anything we can understand.

And yet He gives us glimpses. Like the passage in Isaiah 40. Our minds might not be able to understand the dimensions of His ways and His glory, but we begin to see that there is no one else like our God. We begin to see who we are in relationship to Him. The Word says that God will stand against and even destroy the proud and arrogant. I believe that’s because the proud and arrogant do not give the Almighty the respect and honor and worship that belong to Him. Our pride and arrogance can put our perspective and our attitudes completely out of whack. We need to read Isaiah 40 frequently.

But here is the most hope-full thing about this chapter. If you read it, you’ll see these verses on the power and sovereignty and unmatched glory of God are bookended by words that speak comfort to God’s people. Verse 10 says the Lord is indeed going to rule all of heaven and earth. But hear this:

He will feed his flock like a shepherd. He will carry the lambs in his arms, holding them close to his heart.

There is the compassion and mercy of our matchless God. There is His love and tenderness for His people.

And the chapter ends with a half-dozen verses that say,

How can you say the Lord does not see your troubles? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of all the earth. He never grows weak or weary. No one can measure the depths of his understanding.

And then come those promises that He gives power to the weak and new strength to those who trust in Him. He always sees our troubles and understands our hearts. The weary ones will soar and run — on His strength.

That’s the incomparable God who has no equal, and those who know Him and believe in Him will find incomparable hope.

I like the verse quoted yesterday, from Isaiah 43:10: “There is no other God—there never has been, and there never will be.”

Who else gives us such hope?

 

 

 

Psalm Prayer:

For you are great and perform wonderful deeds.
You alone are God.
(Psalm 86:10)

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© Elaine Starner 2015 Photo credits: Thanks to Claire Pridgeon, Paul Stutzman, Lana Turner, and Mary Jane Smith for sharing photography I’ve used on this site. (Click on each name to see more.)

God Alone

The story is humorous. As a matter of fact, I laughed aloud when I read it. But then the Spirit said, Wait a minute. Before you laugh at them, take a look at your own idols.

In a battle with the Israelites, the pagan Philistines had captured the Ark of the Covenant. It was carried back to one of their own towns, and they hauled it into their own temple and set it up beside their idol Dagon. This created a buzz, and the next morning the locals came to the temple to see the prize. But the image of Dagon had fallen and was lying face down in front of the Ark of the Lord. So the Philistines propped up their god. And the next morning, the same thing had happened — except this time, the idol’s hands and head had broken off and rolled towards the door! (See 1 Samuel 5 for the story)

Again and again in the Old Testament history, God warns about staying away from idols. Idolatry was one of Israel’s most grievous sins. “I am the Lord!” He says. “I will not give my glory to anyone else or share my praise with carved images.” (Isaiah 42:8) At other times, he challenges His people: “Can your idols save you? Can they tell you the future? Can they create worlds? Can they do anything that I do for you?”

We have our idols too. Not carved images that we set up in a temple. But we all have things or people in our lives that we are prone to look to as  our “Saviour” or our Rescuer. We look to things other than God for our security. We sacrifice parts of ourselves and even our children to gain things we think can provide what we need or satisfy our desires or solve our problems. And our gods, sooner or later, start falling apart too.

God says, “I am the one who answers your prayers. I am the tree that is always green. Your fruit comes from me, and me alone.” (See Hosea 14:8)

And that is where the problem of idolatry lies. We look to other things (or people) for what God says He provides. We give our worship to things other than God. Yes, we give our praise to worldly, temporal things instead of to the Creator and Lord of the Universe. We allow things other than God to shape our lives and direct our thoughts and behavior.

“I am the Lord, and there is no other Saviour. There is no other God. Never has been, never will be!” (See Isaiah 43:10-11)

“Let those who are wise understand these things.” (Hosea 14:9)

He alone is God. Always. Forever.

 

 

 

Psalm Prayer:

For you are great and perform wonderful deeds.
You alone are God.
(Psalm 86:10)

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© Elaine Starner 2015 Photo credits: Thanks to Claire Pridgeon, Paul Stutzman, Lana Turner, and Mary Jane Smith for sharing photography I’ve used on this site. (Click on each name to see more.)

The Creator and Owner…and Me

And what relationship does God have to us? He is the Creator and Owner of this world, but what about the 7 billion people on earth today? What about me and you? What are we to Him?

Look at these Scriptures that answer our questions.

“I made you.”  Those are God’s words, recorded in Isaiah 46:4.

“He gives life and breath to everything , and he satisfies every need….For in him we live and move and exist.” (from Acts 17:25, 28) I take my breathing for granted. These words remind me that every breath is given from God. And we might wonder about that phrase “satisfies every need” when we look around at situations in the world today. But might it be that in Him we find our needs satisfied? We have such a worldly perspective when we think about “needs”. Might it be that His created beings find themselves fully satisfied by Him?

He “formed the human spirit” and “made their hearts so he understands everything they do.” (see Zechariah 12:1 and Psalm 33:15) Think about it. Put those statements in the first person: God formed my spirit and made my heart, and He understands everything I do. And so I can pour out my heart to Him, as the psalmist recommends, not only because He cares about me but because He knows me so well and understands me like no one else. That’s comforting to me. Remember the passage where God tells Moses who He is? Some of His first words are mercy and compassion. Not judgment and punishment or wrath and retribution.

He cares about and for us. Again, hear God’s words: “I have cared for you since before you were born. Yes, I carried you before you were born. I made you, and I will care for you.” (Isaiah 46:3,4) The song writer says God made us and now we “are his people, the sheep of His pasture.” Jesus said He was the Great Shepherd of our souls. We can’t identify fully with that metaphor, since most of us have not experienced the role of a shepherd and the dependence of the sheep on their shepherd. Still, this sheep knows how much she depends on her Shepherd’s care.

His purpose was that we should seek Him and find Him.” (Acts 17:27) Even though, the Apostle Paul adds, He is right here, not far away. He wants us to come to Him.

We are accountable to the Creator and He’s set a time when we’ll be judged. Nothing in all creation is hidden from Him. He knows and sees everything. (see Hebrews 4:13) Two things have happened in God’s creation: Satan has spread his evil, and God has come to earth Himself, in Jesus, to show us the way. The relationship between the Creator and His people was broken; Jesus came to mend that. Our part is to “repent of [our] sins and turn to him. For he has set a day for judging the world…” (Acts 17:30).

The Apostle Paul outlined all of this beautifully when he preached to the intellectuals in Athens who had created an altar to an Unknown God. “This is the God you do not yet know,” he preached. “This is who He is and what He has done and is doing.”

Paul’s audience did not know this God. My hope knows, though. Put another way, this is why I know hope. I belong to a God who made me and understands me and cares for me. He wants me to come to Him, and He even became a human being and lived a life here in my world to show me the way and the truth and bring me life.

That’s it. That’s why my hope trusts Him.

 

 

Psalm Prayer:

For you are great and perform wonderful deeds.
You alone are God.
(Psalm 86:10)

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© Elaine Starner 2015 Photo credits: Thanks to Claire Pridgeon, Paul Stutzman, Lana Turner, and Mary Jane Smith for sharing photography I’ve used on this site. (Click on each name to see more.)

The Creator and Owner

Back in the fall of 2012, I happened to be in Aroostook County, Maine, during the Republican convention, when Clint Eastwood got roars of approval from the crowd with his speech that declared, “We own this country. And when someone isn’t doing the job, we’ve got to let him go.”

His talk of owning this country reminded me of something we too often forget:

The earth is the LORD’s, and everything in it. The world and all its people belong to Him. (Psalm 24:1)

Aroostook Country is one of the Lord’s jewels. The northernmost county of Maine, it covers almost 7,000 square miles and is the largest county east of the Mississippi.

I had just two days, so I could only sample the flavors of such a large place; but I saw blue and purple mountains, glittering lakes, green river valleys, and deep forests broken occasionally by sunny meadows filled with thick drifts of Queen Anne’s lace and goldenrod. We drove by hunting lodges, huge grain and potato fields, serene rivers, and tiny towns of no more than eight or ten houses. Aroostook calls itself The Crown of Maine, but I think it is surely one of the Lord’s dazzling jewels.

The long drive through beautiful Aroostook reminded me that there is a bigger and more important perspective than human ownership of a country. As I drove through the County, I thought about what God has to say about this earth.

“I made everything; it belongs to me.”

He owns this earth and everything in it, because He made it. In His own words, “I made everything. It belongs to me. Could YOU build me a temple this fine?” (See Isaiah 66:1,2) The imagery in Scripture is beautiful: He breathed the word and the stars were born; He stretched out the heavens, and cupped the oceans in His hand. He ignores the arguments about creation and evolution and big bangs, and He says simply, “I made it all. And everything belongs to me.”

“I have a plan for the whole earth…and everything I plan will come to pass.”

Because creation belongs to Him, He has plans for it. Satan’s been spreading his poison, but God has plans for Satan, too. No one can change His plans or stop Him. His plans stand firm forever. No nation can thwart them. (see Psalm 33:10-11) And regardless of what powerful people think, He is the one who determines the rise and fall of each nation (see Acts 17:26).

He is the Creator and everything belongs to Him. He has plans for this creation, and everything He’s planned will come to pass.

That increases my awe as I walk through what He has created. It comforts me to know that He holds the reins as this earth hurtles through its history.

Is there a better person to whom I could entrust my hope?

 

 

Psalm Prayer:

For you are great and perform wonderful deeds.
You alone are God.
(Psalm 86:10)

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© Elaine Starner 2015 Photo credits: Thanks to Claire Pridgeon, Paul Stutzman, Lana Turner, and Mary Jane Smith for sharing photography I’ve used on this site. (Click on each name to see more.)