Bryce Canyon in Utah was one such place for us. It was beautiful and the hoo-dos were intricately made from rain, wind and ice. They were not carved by water! We stood at the canyon rim and we were breathless in its beauty and expanse.
Another place that took our breath away was Yellowstone National Park in Montana.
The stunning terrain …
The smoking pits with water way past the boiling point …
Geysers like the White Dome geyser that spewed hot water high into the air …
And Old Faithful geyser that is so predictable its eruption can be timed to the minute.
We live in a chaotic world where people have a difficult time getting along, where people murder and maim those who hold philosophies different than theirs, and where wars and rumors of war disrupt life for millions of people on a daily basis.
But, when we look at nature, we see God’s magnificent handiwork and His power, even in this fallen and sinful world.
David said this about God’s creation in the Psalms:
O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory above the heavens.
The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.
The heavens are yours; the earth also is yours; the world and all that is in it, you have founded them.
The heavens proclaim his righteousness, and all the peoples see his glory.
For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him;
Paul, in the letter to the Romans, says this about God:
For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.
Beloved, look around and see the glory of God. It is evident in the beauty of nature. God’s glory is shown in His creative work, even today. The beauty of flowers and trees, of birds and animals, the beauty of a newborn baby. Yes, sin has entered the world and it is not the glorious creation God intended, but evidence of God’s power and nature still exist, even in this fallen world.
Take time to open your eyes and behold the beauty of God’s creation. Then, praise Him for His wondrous works to the children of men.
If you don’t know Jesus Christ as your savior, seek out a Christian who can tell you about the Lord and help you come to saving faith in the Savior who gave His life for His people. Then you will be able to rejoice and view the world in a new light, an everlasting light through Jesus Christ, our Lord and Redeemer.
Father, thank You for the glorious creation You provided for us. I pray that whose who don’t know You would seek out someone who could guide them in their walk with Jesus. I ask this in Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Have you ever heard those words? “Teach me”, says the young child who wants to do a new and exciting task, perhaps tying his shoes. Here’s a note that one of the grandchildren wrote to his Mom – you can feel the excitement as he passed this milestone of childhood.
“Teach me”, says the adolescent who desperately wants to learn to drive the family car.
“Teach me”, says the college student when learning in a career path, hoping to find his/her way in the world after graduation.
“Teach me”, says the new employee who is faced with something that is both daunting and exciting.
“Teach me”, says the newly wed wife to her husband, when she is trying to make his favorite meal that his mother made for him all the time.
“Teach me”, says the husband who wants to know how to help and comfort his wife as they learn to be man and wife.
“Teach me”, says the older woman to her grandchild when she is faced with a smart phone and doesn’t know how to use it.
We often say those words, and usually they stem from a significant desire to learn, or possibly from a need to do something unfamiliar.
There are things that we need to learn in our everyday lives but there are also things that we should be learning about our spiritual life, specifically about our God, His Son and His Holy Spirit. Indeed, our hearts should cry “Teach me!” to the Lord so we will know what God desires.
1 “Now this is the commandment–the statutes and the rules–that the LORD your God commanded me to teach you, that you may do them in the land to which you are going over, to possess it, … 7 You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.
Deuteronomy 6:1, 7
Note that we are not to just learn God’s commandments for ourselves but we are to teach them to others, specifically to our children. The command is not just for when we are in “school” but when we sit in the house, when we walk along the way, when we are traveling in the car, when se are seated around the table, when we lie down and when we rise. God’s Word should be on our lips throughout the day, not just a few designated times in the week!
David repeats “Teach me” in numerous psalms. Here are just a few examples;
Make me to know your ways, O LORD; teach me your paths. Lead me in your truth and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all the day long.
29 Put false ways far from me and graciously teach me your law! … 66 Teach me good judgment and knowledge, for I believe in your commandments. … 135 Make your face shine upon your servant, and teach me your statutes.
Psalm 119:29, 66, 135
Behold, you delight in truth in the inward being, and you teach me wisdom in the secret heart.
So, what does God teach us? His paths, His truth, His salvation, His law, His good judgment, His statutes, and His wisdom, just to name a few things!
The New Testament does not ignore teaching. Rather, Paul says this – teach people what I have taught you so that they can teach others the gospel, the Good News of Jesus Christ.
and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.
2 Timothy 2:2
We don’t “go it alone” when we teach others, rather Jesus has given us His Holy Spirit to guide and teach us as we live our lives in Him. See John 14:26 for this great promise:
But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.
At the end of time, Scripture tells us that all will know God and will serve Him. We read in Jeremiah the following:
And no longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, ‘Know the LORD,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the LORD. For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.”
What a blessing! Can you imagine this? At some point in the future, we won’t need to teach others of the Lord Jesus, all will know Him. Praise His Holy Name!
“Teach me” should be our heart cry every morning and every evening. Then, when some difficulty arises, don’t be surprised. God is answering your prayer and is teaching you something that you need to learn as you grow in the likeness of His Son. Until the time Jeremiah foretells, let us continue to ask God to teach us so that we will become the image of our Savior, Redeemer, Lord, Jesus Christ.
Father, help me to grow in the likeness of Jesus. Help me reflect His nature and His love to those around me. Enable me to see what needs to be done and then give me the ability and wisdom to accomplish the task You have laid before me. In dark times, help me to remember that all things are in Your Hand and that trials are lessons masked in difficulty, sometimes painful, but always working good for me and for others.
We have been watching one of The Great Courses on Pompeii. It is a fascinating look at the society that formed in the Bay of Naples centuries before the time of Christ. The predominant physical structure of the area is Mount Vesuvius. The lecturer said that today, the volcano is about 3,000 feet high. Prior to its eruption in A. D. 79, the volcano was in excess of 7,000 feet high. The effect of the volcano blowing its top was a sudden cataclysmic pouring of lava, volcanic ash and pumice throughout the region. Notably, Pompeii was buried in 13 to 20 feet of ash and pumice. That is blowing your top in a big way!
When we were in Yellowstone National Park, we observed a number of geysers including one call the White Dome Geyser. It was clear why it was called that – it was a white dome that looked like the top of an ice cream cone.
It would erupt at different times each day with a spray that went high into the air. Although it is the result of volcanic activity deep underground, clearly the White Dome Geyser is on the scale of the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius. It is much more controlled, still venting, but not destroying.
Fortunately, few of us ever experience a Mt. Vesuvius explosion. But, on a personal level, blowing your top can take a variety of forms. Usually there is loud, sometimes abusive, language accompanied by throwing things, slamming doors, or breaking items that are in our way … in short, there is dynamic activity that potentially destroys something, or someone, in the process of relieving our pent-up anger. Then, when all is done, there is a, perhaps, strained quiet, but after the outburst at least it is quiet. The outburst is over – now it is time to assess the damage.
Scripture talks about blowing your top … not in those words, but the meaning is abundantly clear. Take these Old Testament references for example:
“Whoever is slow to anger has great understanding, but he who has a hasty temper exalts folly.”
“A hot-tempered man stirs up strife, but he who is slow to anger quiets contention.“
“Good sense makes one slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook an offense.”
“Make no friendship with a man given to anger, nor go with a wrathful man,”
“Refrain from anger, and forsake wrath! Fret not yourself; it tends only to evil.”
This theme is continued in the New Testament by the Apostle Paul to the Ephesians:
“Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger,”
Ephesians 4:26. This verse states that it is alright to become angry; but we must not let it fester so that you become enraged, and out of control so that you then are guilty of sin.
“Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice.”
Jesus Christ showed us what should cause our anger:
“And Jesus entered the temple and drove out all who sold and bought in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold pigeons. He said to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer,’ but you make it a den of robbers.””
Jesus was angry when His Father’s house was subject to desecration, when people were being cheated and when people could not pray there.
Scripture tells us that God can become angry, very angry indeed! But His is a righteous anger when His creation has become so sinful that He cannot tolerate to even look upon it.
Consider the flood which wiped out all people, animals and plants, except for Noah, his family, and the animals secreted in the ark. (Genesis 6 and 7) Consider Sodom and Gomorrah where God said He would spare the cities if He could find 10 righteous people in them. When He could not identify even that few righteous ones, the cities were destroyed by fire from heaven. (Genesis 18 and 19)
David recognized that God could become angry.
“Who considers the power of your anger, and your wrath according to the fear of you?”
David also recognized that God was merciful and slow to anger.
“But you, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness.”
If we are honest, our anger is usually triggered by a feeling of personal hurt, by a sense of being ignored or cast aside. Our own agenda has been violated, our desires have been dashed, our wants have been slighted. We feel that others have taken advantage of us to our detriment and to their benefit, and we are angry. In short, our anger is usually self-centered. We are focused on I/Me/Mine.
As Christians, we are called to be like our Father and to follow the example of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior. James, the half-brother of Jesus said we should live like this:
“Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.”
We are called to keep our anger under control. Note the list that includes anger and the list that includes self-control in Paul’s letter to the Galatians:
“Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.”
Don’t blow your top. When the acid of anger wells up in your heart, quench it with the fruit of the Spirit. Remember that you did not deserve to be saved from your sins – it was an unmerited gift from God. Because of that gift, you should give others undeserved love as well. Remember, Paul gave this instruction, from Deuteronomy 32:39, to the Christian:
“Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.””
For the Christian, there really is no need to blow his/her top!
Father, forgive me when I have become angry with others, when I have vented my anger in an ungodly manner rather than seeking the other person’s good. Help me to remember the Holy Spirit is my strength and guide and may I grow in self-control today, and throughout my life.
We had the privilege to go on an extended vacation last summer. We traveled throughout the western United States and visited many of our national parks.
The sights and sounds were incredible. Often, the primary sound we heard was silence, as the beauty of the national park was mesmerizing in itself … words were impossible to describe the beauty and we just drank in the view.
The Grand Tetons were magnificent in their snow-topped heights, and sprawling majesty.
The colors and pillars (called “Hoodoos”) of Bryce Canyon became etched in our minds as we considered the beauty and majesty of God’s handiwork.
Monarch Pass in Colorado, at an elevation of 11,312 feet, was windy, cold and dizzying when viewing the mountaintops that surrounded the parking lot at the summit.
Descending form the parking area, the mountains were up close and personal. Visages of raw power, strength and rugged beauty.
We were praising God throughout our trip as we saw glorious, sculpted rock pillars in numerous variations of colors and shapes, and prevalent even along the highways. We praised our God for the beauty of the mountains and for the wondrous provision of water, lakes, rivers, ponds and fountains throughout the hills and byways.
The hymn “How Great Thou Art” does a good job of summarizing our reaction and wonder as we got a view of God’s creation that was different than we usually experience in East Tennessee.
HOW GREAT THOU ART
O Lord my God, when I in awesome wonder Consider all the worlds Thy hands have made I see the stars, I hear the rolling thunder Thy power throughout the universe displayed
[Refrain] Then sings my soul, my Saviour God, to Thee How great Thou art, how great Thou art Then sings my soul, my Saviour God, to Thee How great Thou art, how great Thou art!
[Verse 2] When through the woods, and forest glades I wander And hear the birds sing sweetly in the trees When I look down, from lofty mountain grandeur And see the brook, and feel the gentle breeze
[Verse 3] And when I think, that God, His Son not sparing Sent Him to die, I scarce can take it in That on the Cross, my burden gladly bearing He bled and died to take away my sin.
[Verse 4] When Christ shall come, with shout of acclamation And take me home, what joy shall fill my heart Then I shall bow, in humble adoration And then proclaim: “My God, how great Thou art!”
Of course, the hymn does not describe merely the creation that God has provided to us, it goes on to describe the glories of salvation that God has given when we believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. Creation tells us that God exists. Salvation tells us the magnitude of God’s love for His people in that He sent Christ to pay for our sin. Praise is the our rightful response for both His creation and His gift of salvation.
The Book of Psalms in the Bible is the hymnbook of the Israelites, and it is full of exhortation to praise the Lord. Here are just some of the verses that admonish us to praise Him:
“Let this be recorded for a generation to come, so that a people yet to be created may praise the LORD:”
“Praise the LORD! Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever!”
“Praise the LORD! Praise, O servants of the LORD, praise the name of the LORD!”
“Praise the LORD, all nations! Extol him, all peoples! For great is his steadfast love toward us, and the faithfulness of the LORD endures forever. Praise the LORD!“
The book of Psalms ends with this same exhortation that applies to everyone:
“Let everything that has breath praise the LORD! Praise the LORD!”
Oh, that I would remember how great our God is even during the humdrum activities of life that so often seem to be frustrating and irritating. When we consider all that God has done for us through Jesus Christ, His Son, we should be shouting our praise and love for Him from the housetops, in everything that we do and in all the ways we serve others.
Praising the Lord is a matter of the heart. We can have a settled heart and mind because we can praise the Lord through whatever comes our way. Praise Him when good things happen, certainly. That’s not hard! But, praising Him when adversity may arise is difficult. We know that pain will be present in our lives; difficulties will present themselves at unexpected and usually inconvenient times; heartache will interrupt our lives when malevolent activities cause grief and loss.
Beloved, no matter what we may have to endure, nothing will take us out of the Hand of our God, the Almighty God who uses even these hard times to transform us into the image of His Son. This is why we can praise the Lord even as we are in tears.
“Praise the LORD! Blessed is the man who fears the LORD, who greatly delights in his commandments!”
Praise the Lord. I am challenging myself to make praise my “default position” before God. Care to join me in this challenge?
Father, I praise Your Name for the wonder and glory of salvation through Christ our Lord. I praise You Name when I see the creation that You have placed before me, and when I think of Your steadfast love and mercy. Enable me to praise You even more each day, and may I make praise my “default position” before You!
When we were in England, we had the opportunity to visit the city of Bath. It was a fascinating day as we saw the Roman baths, the wall around the city, and the Abbey.
The town is quaint — who could resist this shop of Cornish delicacies!
The hot springs that existed there were known to people in the area for centuries prior to the Romans’ arrival. According to the Victorian churchman Edward Churton, Bath was known as “Akemanchester” (translated “aching men’s cry”) during the Anglo-Saxon period, this name referencing the reputation the baths had for healing the sick.
However, the city of Bath became a world-renowned spa in 60 A.D. when the Romans built public baths and a temple.
Massive sculptures of Roman gods and soldiers line the colonnade around the baths, dwarfing the tourists visiting the area.
In the Pump Room, the restaurant that is attached to the baths facility, there is this fountain which provides hot drinking water for those who desire it. The thermal springs that made Bath famous thousands of years ago are still providing warm rejuvenation for people in the modern era.
Of course, one of the most imposing structures in the city of Bath is Bath Abbey, founded in the 7th century. An incredibly ornate, beautiful building complete with leaded stained glass windows and vaulted ceilings.
We were mesmerized by the town, its history and its beauty. But we are not the only people who loved the place!
Folliott Pierpoint [1835-1917], a classical scholar who lived a rather leisurely life, loved his hometown of Bath, England. It is thought that the loveliness of the area inspired Pierpoint to write this hymn in 1864 when he was 29 years of age. While he wrote other hymns and poetry, this is his most remembered and cherished hymn.
It was originally written as a Eucharistic hymn with the title “The Sacrifice of Praise”. The repeated refrain was :
Christ, our God, to thee we raise This, our sacrifice of praise.
Later, the refrain’s text was changed to read:
Lord of all, to thee we raise This our hymn of grateful praise.
And, it is these words, rather than the original words, that we find in most hymnals today. The hymn praises God for a host of beauties, indeed, they are things that we encounter in everyday living, but which we often fail to appreciate: the beauty of the earth and skies, the beauty of each hour, the joy of ear and eye, and the joy of human love. Moreover, it includes thanksgiving for the church and for our Christ.
Listen to this hymn that began in Bath, England and marched around the world in celebration of the great gifts from our God and our Savior Jesus Christ.
In lifting your heart and your voice in thanksgiving, you are acting in accordance with both the Old and New Testaments of Scripture. Consider these passages from Psalms and 2 Corinthians:
” To the choirmaster: according to Muth-labben. A Psalm of David. I will give thanks to the LORD with my whole heart; I will recount all of your wonderful deeds.”
“Sing praises to the LORD, O you his saints, and give thanks to his holy name.“
“I will give thanks to you, O Lord, among the peoples; I will sing praises to you among the nations.”
“Praise the LORD! Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever!”
“All your works shall give thanks to you, O LORD, and all your saints shall bless you!”
“You will be enriched in every way to be generous in every way, which through us will produce thanksgiving to God. For the ministry of this service is not only supplying the needs of the saints but is also overflowing in many thanksgivings to God.”
2 Corinthians 9:11-2
This Thanksgiving holiday, stop and thank God for the multitude of blessings that He has bestowed on us each and every moment of every day.
Then, make it a priority to give thanks to our God each day, not just on the secular day of Thanksgiving. Make gratitude your “default position” … putting thanksgiving at the top of your list daily. You will be edifying our God and you will be encouraging your own heart in so doing. And, the Holy Spirit will be able to work in you in ways that will surprise and excite you.
Be thankful in all things. Bless His Holy Name!
Father, may we see Your blessings and gifts to us every day. Open our eyes so that we can recognize the gifts that you so bountifully grant to us moment by moment and then may we give thanks in humble gratitude and recognition that we cannot do anything on our own, it is all through Your grace and love that we even exist, let alone thrive. Thank You Father.
I am doing a good bit of embroidery since last Christmas when my beloved husband gave me an embroidery sewing machine. Although I am certainly not an expert in using the machine and all its features, I am enjoying my new-found hobby immensely.
We joke that the machine is the “gift that keeps on taking”!
Because of the continuing costs of fabric, embroidery floss, stabilizers, and, of course, embroidery patterns there is some basis for this assertion.
I was looking at new designs and found many with Thanksgiving as the theme, understandably so since, in the United States, we will celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday on November 22.
There were innumerable designs, many with expressions such as:
“In Everything Give Thanks.”
“A Grateful Heart is a Thankful Heart”
“O Give Thanks Unto the Lord”
“There Is Always Something to be Thankful For”
“Grateful Hearts Gather Here”
While it seems that our celebration of Thanksgiving often is more focused on the meal including the turkey, dressing, potatoes, cranberries and pumpkin pie, the real foundation for our Thanksgiving is not food, not even a great harvest: it is in our Heavenly Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.
In the book of Leviticus, we read:
“”And this is the law of the sacrifice of peace offerings that one may offer to the LORD. If he offers it for a thanksgiving, then he shall offer with the thanksgiving sacrifice unleavened loaves mixed with oil, unleavened wafers smeared with oil, and loaves of fine flour well mixed with oil. With the sacrifice of his peace offerings for thanksgiving he shall bring his offering with loaves of leavened bread.”
Thanksgiving was a part of worship throughout the Old Testament.
“Then on that day David first appointed that thanksgiving be sung to the LORD by Asaph and his brothers.”
1 Chronicles 16:7
“And the Levites: Jeshua, Binnui, Kadmiel, Sherebiah, Judah, and Mattaniah, who with his brothers was in charge of the songs of thanksgiving.”
Nehemiah 12:8. These folks were specifically set apart to be in charge of the thanksgiving songs of the people in worship.
“The one who offers thanksgiving as his sacrifice glorifies me; to one who orders his way rightly I will show the salvation of God!”
“Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name!”
Thanksgiving continues to be extolled in the New Testament as well.
“You will be enriched in every way to be generous in every way, which through us will produce thanksgiving to God.”
2 Corinthians 9:11
“Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving.”
“do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.”
“Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving.”
Thanksgiving will continue even after the end of the age and we are in Heaven with God.
“After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” And all the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures, and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, saying, “Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever! Amen.””
Can you hear it? Can you see it in your mind’s eye?
Thanksgiving is not just something that is imposed on people. Rather it is from the heart and it is ranked in the same category as “blessing”, “glory”, “wisdom”, “honor”, “power”, and “might”. Listen as these words are sung in the Chorus “Worthy is The Lamb That Was Slain” as presented in Handel’s The Messiah.
Thanksgiving is due to God because of Who He is and what He has done for His people. Thanksgiving is due to the Lord Jesus Christ, the Lamb Who was slain, because of His atoning work on the cross that paid the price of our sin, satisfied the wrath of God against us because of our sin. Thanksgiving is due to the Holy Spirit for His quickening of our hearts which had been dead because of sin, and for His leading and guiding us as we are being transformed into the image of Jesus Christ.
Make thanksgiving the norm, the modus operandi of your daily walk. Look for opportunities to give our Lord thanks throughout the day, however murky and disappointing it may be. At a minimum you could thank Him for life, grace, mercy, and His unconditional and unfailing love … that should provide sufficient fuel for you to lift your eyes and your heart to Him, even as the day is swirling around you.
Blessings to you as you journey along your walk of faith.
Father forgive me for the multitude of times that I have accepted Your gifts with open hands without so much as a whispered prayer of thanks. Forgive me for the myriad of days that have passed through my fingertips without any acknowledgment from me that the day is, in itself, a gift from You, a gift for which I should be profoundly thankful. Lord, forgive me for accepting the gift of mercy and grace, of salvation and of Your love without even humbling myself so as to bow at Your feet in adoration and thanksgiving for the great work that You did in securing my salvation from my sin. Lord, have mercy and forgive.
On our trip to Yellowstone National Park, we visited the Norris Geyser Basin. According to the information on the park’s signs, the basin is far below the towering peaks of the Gallatin Mountains. Water accumulates underground. The basin sits near the Yellowstone Caldera and is at the edge of one of the largest volcanos on our planet – the Yellowstone Volcano. Heated by the volcano, the water travels upward to erupt from acidic geysers, or to rise from steaming fumaroles (an opening in or near a volcano through which hot, sulfurous gasses emerge), or to simmer in shimmering pools, steaming throughout all kinds of weather. Names such as Fearless Geyser, Monarch Geyser, Yellow Funnel Spring, Steamboat Geyser, Whirligig Geyser, and Pinwheel Geyser give evidence of the variety of sights available in the Norris Geyser Basin, appropriately described as beautiful and bizzare.
While watching the geysers, I considered that they were rather like an allegory for what anger looks like.
For example, the White Dome Geyser stands tall and is silent.
Until, at some unpredictable time, it erupts.
Now, I’m certainly not saying that the geyser is angry … but the unpredictability of its eruption is similar to those whose anger can flare up for seemingly no reason.
Of course, we know that the geyser named Old Faithful erupts almost to the minute on its schedule. No National Park Ranger has to tell it when to erupt – it just does it, day in and day out, on time, on schedule.
Old Faithful could represent the one whose anger erupts over the same trigger, time and time again. Those around him/her know not to say anything about that trigger in fear that the tantrum could erupt again.
We even saw one vent in a fenced off area of a parking lot.
Steam rising up from underground without an on or off button! This geyser could represent the one whose anger is just under the surface, whose anger tinges his/her attitudes and reactions even if a full-fledged eruption does not occur. It is just a matter of time.
Not all geysers shoot high into the heavens. Some geysers bubble up from under the ground, and they continue bubbling nonstop.
This could represent the one whose anger is always churning within, whether or not anything is said to others … the anger is seething and boiling up inside in a never-ending tumult of pain.
Anger – it is something that all of us, if we are honest, have experienced and most would likely say they have experienced it often.
Ralph Waldo Emerson said: “For every minute you remain angry, you give up sixty seconds of peace of mind.”
Long before Emerson said this the Psalmist said:
“Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him; fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way, over the man who carries out evil devices! Refrain from anger, and forsake wrath! Fret not yourself; it tends only to evil.”
In the Book of Proverbs, we read Solomon’s words on anger:
“Whoever is slow to anger has great understanding, but he who has a hasty temper exalts folly.”
“A hot-tempered man stirs up strife, but he who is slow to anger quiets contention.” –
“Make no friendship with a man given to anger, nor go with a wrathful man,”
“Wrath is cruel, anger is overwhelming, but who can stand before jealousy?”
The Apostle Paul said:
“Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice.”
But too often our anger is misplaced, and many times our anger is motived from self-interest, greed or a desire to control. I know that I have been angry over the actions of another person and the Holy Spirit immediately brings to mind a time when I had done the same thing to someone else. In other words, sin in our life is also a cause for anger.
Thomas Jefferson is credited with saying something along these lines: “When angry count to ten before you speak. If very angry, count to one hundred.”
The advice to be reluctant before exercising anger is stated in scripture frequently, with the Apostle Paul saying:
“Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger,”
I suspect that most everyone has heard “Don’t let the sun go down on your anger”. This is a good statement to newly weds and is a good policy for a positive marital relationship. But it extends much more broadly to all our relationships.
However, the first part of Ephesians 4:26 is not quoted as often. In certain situations, it is appropriate to be angry. Remember Jesus at the temple when he was angry that it had been turned into a “den of thieves”? Read Mark 11:15-17. That is appropriate anger, my friend!
Anyone can become angry – that is easy, but to be angry with the right person and to the right degree and at the right time and for the right purpose, and in the right way — that is not within everybody’s power and is not easy.
I suggest to you that anger is frequently sinful and, when harbored continuously, is physically harmful to you. Eruptions of anger increase blood pressure and all sorts of physical reactions when, in the long run, can cause damager to your body, even disregarding the damage it can cause to relationships, family members, etc.
Take time to consider the geysers and their eruptions, consider which one parallels your emotional make-up, and then consider the scripture that speaks to anger and its management.
The Holy Spirit will help you because it is the Spirit’s job to transform you into the image of Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.
Father, I pray that we would read Your Word and consider whether the anger that we so often experience is a holy anger or if it is motivated by selfish desires, pride, arrogance or any other sin that we have harbored in our hearts. Let us confess and repent of that sin and live a life that is based on Your Word and empowered by Your Spirit. In Jesus Name, I pray.
When I was a young girl, we sang a song in our church titled “Trust and Obey”. It is an old hymn that is not sung very often “now-a-days”. But the other day I was thinking of trust, and that hymn came to mind.
Trust. It is a word that we hear often today in the phrase “Just trust me!” But what is trust? And should we just go around trusting everyone? If not, who or what is worthy of our trust?
The Merriam Webster Dictionary says that trust is assured reliance on the character, ability, strength or truth of someone or something.
One example of trust is sitting in a chair. When I lower myself into a chair, I trust that it will hold me and that it will not crumble under my weight. If I sit on a little plastic chair in the toddler nursery at church, it is likely that it will break and I will be on the floor – in other words it was not something in which I should have placed my trust. The object of my trust was unable to accomplish that which I expected. In other words, the object of your trust is important!
When we see a parent tossing a baby in the air, with the child laughing and squealing in delight, only to then be caught by the parent, we see an excellent example of trust. The child is not fearful that he will fall to the ground – his parent is there to catch him. The child relies on the parent totally: that, too, is trust.
When our young grandson had not yet learned to swim, he was fearful of jumping in the water. While he did not want to plunge into the unknown, his father was there with open arms, hands ready to greet him in the water. But for his trust in is father, he would have satisfied himself with running around the edge of the pool and would never have gone in to experience the thrill of swimming.
Scripture speaks of trust often. In fact, the word “trust” is used in the Psalms 35 times.
“Commit your way to the LORD; trust in Him, and He will act.”
“When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.”
“I will say to the LORD, “My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.””
Proverbs speaks of trusting.
“Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.”
And the prophet Isaiah extols God as he speaks of his trust in Him.
“Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and will not be afraid; for the LORD GOD is my strength and my song, and he has become my salvation.“
Scripture also makes clear that the object of your trust is important. In other words, does whatever you put your trust in merit your trust, is it trustworthy? Some things are not, even though they may appear strong and invincible.
“Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God.”
“Behold, you trust in deceptive words to no avail.”
Both the Psalmist and the prophet warn that some things simply are not trustworthy. This is in comparison to the Lord, Who is totally trustworthy. What God says He will do, will, in fact, be accomplished. When God says that He will keep His children in His hand, nothing will be able to take us out of His hand. God’s promises are true and sure, and they will come to pass in His time and at His good pleasure.
“Trust in the LORD forever, for the LORD GOD is an everlasting rock.”
So, who or what do you trust? Are you trusting in your strength and power, the modern equivalent of chariots and horses? Are you trusting in your wealth and position, your title or your education? Are you trusting in your good works or your charitable activities? Nothing in this world is worthy of your trust for eternity because nothing in this world is eternal. Rather, trust in the LORD. He is worthy of your trust. He is strong and powerful so that you will find your trust is not misplaced when it is in Him.
Hear the hymn “Trust and Obey” as presented by Don Moen in this beautiful rendition complete with lyrics and picturesque scenery.
Father, forgive me when I have taken my eyes off Jesus and misplaced my trust in my own strength or activities. Forgive me when I have relied on material things for security when You are the only true security in this world now and for eternity. Forgive me when I have failed to trust and obey, two words that are so easy to say but sometimes to difficult to accomplish. Enable me, through Your Spirit, to do Your will as a trust and obey Your voice today.
What do we do in worship of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ and of the Father, Creator of the Universe and Lover of our Souls? Some of us go to large churches with beautiful scenes depicted in stained glass and a carillon ringing from the bell tower.
Others of us go to neighborhood churches that do not have the same type formal adornments but which provide a family atmosphere among the members.
There are a variety of activities that we engage in as we worship in our local church, and those activities vary with the denomination of which we are a part.
However, I suggest that we could look at the worship in heaven and take that as a guide for our worship here on our spinning globe.
We have a beautiful description of the praise that is given to God in the vision that Isaiah had of the Lord, sitting upon His throne. Read the words of Isaiah and then close your eyes and picture what he saw. The heavenly creatures whose function is to praise the Lord because the Lord is deserving of all praise and glory:
In the year that King Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him stood the seraphim. Each had six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one called to another and said: “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!” And the foundations of the thresholds shook at the voice of him who called, and the house was filled with smoke.
Scripture continues to say that, in response to the incredible vision of the Lord, Isaiah fell to the ground proclaiming that he was a sinner, that he had unclean lips. Then, he was cleansed when the angel touched his lips with a coal from the fire, thereby allowing him to stand before God. [I submit that a true understanding of who God is and who we are will result in terrible awe as we recognize that we cannot stand before God, without His intervention to cleanse us of our sin. A holy God cannot look upon sinful creatures nor can a holy God tolerate or excuse sin. However, back to the topic of praise!]
Isaiah is not the only one in Scripture who had a vision of the Lord and the praise rendered ceaselessly to Him. This praise to the Lord is described by the Apostle John in the Book of Revelation:
And the four living creatures, each of them with six wings, are full of eyes all around and within, and day and night they never cease to say, “Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come!” And whenever the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to him who is seated on the throne, who lives forever and ever, the twenty-four elders fall down before him who is seated on the throne and worship him who lives forever and ever. They cast their crowns before the throne, saying, “Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created.”
Clearly, we should praise God with our lives, our words and actions as well as the motives of our hearts. But, our praise to God also extends beyond ourselves, even to our corporate worship each Sunday, for it is there that we glorify God in the presence of other believers as the Holy Spirit is present with us. In fact, Scripture exhorts us to worship the Lord and give Him glory in all that we do, whether it is in church or not.
So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.
1 Corinthians 10:31.
So, the question becomes: “Do I praise the Lord every day?” Do you? Not with a plastic sneering grit your teeth mantra of “praise the Lord” whenever something bad happens, but with heart-felt humbleness as we remember all that God has done for us through Christ our Lord. Even if a trial comes our way, if distress raises its head, we have the calm assurance that God is in control and He is sovereign. He will use even the things we consider negative to teach us something about Himself and to draw us closer to Him.
Go ahead … join David when he says “Praise the Lord!” In fact, the exhortation to “Praise the Lord” is found 49 times in Psalms alone. Clearly, praise is important to our God! Here are just a few verses from Psalms about praising God:
Praise the LORD! Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever!
Praise the LORD! Blessed is the man who fears the LORD, who greatly delights in his commandments!
Praise the LORD! Praise the LORD from the heavens; praise him in the heights!
In fact, make praise the default position of our spirit no matter what comes our way. Anticipate that God will use each situation for His purposes, and praise Him for having you in His hands and for Him being with you all the way.
How can I praise the Lord? Sing. Not only do Scriptures exhort us to praise the Lord, but we are told to sing to the Lord. Here is a sampling of verses with this directive:
Sing to the LORD, all the earth! Tell of his salvation from day to day.
1 Chronicles 16:23
I will sing to the LORD as long as I live; I will sing praise to my God while I have being.
Sing to the LORD with thanksgiving; make melody to our God on the lyre!
Singing to our God is exhibited in the New Testament as well.
About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them, … .
… addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, …
Praise God. Sing a song, out loud. [You don’t even need to be in the shower!] Go ahead and let out your praise in prison, at home, in the car, in church, in the choir, wherever you are. It matters not whether you can carry a tune or read music … your song will be transformed by the Spirit into heart tones that are pleasing to our Father and that will bounce back to you in enriching joy and peace, filling you with His comfort throughout the day.
Here is Integrity Music’s Scripture Memory Song entitled “O come, let us sing” which features the text of Psalm 95:1-3. This song was composed by Joey Holder and is on the album entitled The Power of Thanksgiving. I pray that you will listen and memorize these verses so you will be reminded as you go through your day that the Lord desires praise and we can rightfully provide that praise because He is a great God and a King above all gods.
Oh come, let us sing to the LORD; let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation! Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving; let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise! For the Lord is a great God, and a great King above all gods.
Go ahead, praise Him even now. Lift your voice in song and praise the Lord!
Father, forgive me when I have gone through the day with a grumpy spirit, or with a frown on my face rather than the glow of your love. Forgive me when I have forgotten all that you have done for me through Jesus Christ. Accept my petition and enable me to give You praise today, through my words, actions and thoughts.