On a plateau high above the Atacama Desert in Chile, the world’s largest radio telescope is giving astronomers a view of the universe never seen before. In an Associated Press article, Luis Andres Henao spoke of scientists from many countries “looking for clues about the dawn of the cosmos—from the coldest gases and dust where galaxies are formed and stars are born to the energy produced by the Big Bang.”
The Bible celebrates the mighty power and infinite understanding of God who “counts the number of the stars” and “calls them all by name” (Ps. 147:4). Yet the Creator of the universe is not a remote, uncaring force, but a loving heavenly Father who “heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds” (v.3). “The Lord lifts up the humble” (v.6) and “takes pleasure in those who fear Him, in those who hope in His mercy” (v.11).
He loves us so much that “He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).
British author J. B. Phillips called Earth “the visited planet,” where the Prince of Glory is still working out His plan.
Our hope for today and forever lies in the loving mercy of God who calls each star by name.
The God who made the firmament, Who made the deepest sea, The God who put the stars in place Is the God who cares for me. —Berg
God, who knows the name of every star, knows all our names as well.
The book of Psalms concludes with five hymns of praise (Psalms 146–150) that begin and end with the refrain, “Praise the Lord!” (Hebrew, Hallelujah). In Psalm 147, the psalmist calls for grateful worship (vv.1,7) as he reflects on the goodness of God to Israel (vv.2-3,6) and on His greatness in creation (vv.4-5,8-9). The psalmist celebrates God’s loving faithfulness in caring and blessing His chosen people individually (vv.2-3,7) and in displaying His mighty power in creating and sustaining His creation generally (vv.4-5,8-9). Focusing not only on God’s greatness but also on His closeness, goodness, and kindness, the psalmist affirms that it is God alone who provides security and prosperity (vv.13-14).
Recently, while watching a video of a church service held in South America, I noticed something I had never seen before in church. As the pastor passionately called his flock to yield their lives to Jesus, one of the parishioners took a white hankie out of his pocket and started waving it in the air. Then another, and another. With tears running down their cheeks, they were expressing full surrender to Christ.
But I wonder if there was more to the moment than the flags of surrender. I think they were waving flags of love to God. When God told His people to “love the Lord your God” (Deut. 6:5), it was in the context of His urging them to surrender their lives to Him.
From God’s point of view, life with Him is far more than just trying to be good. It is always about relationship—relationship in which surrender is the way we express our grateful love to Him. Jesus, in amazing love for us, surrendered Himself on the cross to rescue us from our helpless bondage to sin and set us on a journey to all that is good and glorious.
We don’t have enough words to tell God how much we love Him! So, let’s show Him our love by surrendering our hearts and lives to follow Him.
Lord, take my life and make it wholly Thine; Fill my poor heart with Thy great love divine. Take all my will, my passion, self, and pride; I now surrender, Lord—in me abide. —Orr
Surrender is God’s love language.
Deuteronomy 6:4 contains the Shema (or Shema Yisrael). This affirmation of the oneness of God (“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one!”) is the centerpiece of the morning and evening prayers of observant Jews. The title Shema comes from the Hebrew term for the first word in the verse, hear.
While I was talking with a gifted pianist, she asked me if I played any musical instruments. When I responded, “I play the radio,” she laughed and asked if I had ever wanted to play any instrument. My embarrassed answer was, “I took piano lessons as a boy but gave it up.” Now, in my adult years, I regret not continuing with the piano. I love music and wish I could play today. That conversation was a fresh reminder to me that life is often constituted by the choices we make—and some of them produce regret.
Some choices produce much more serious and painful regrets. King David discovered this when he chose to sleep with another man’s wife and then killed that man. He described the guilt that filled him as devastating, saying, “When I kept silent, my bones grew old through my groaning all the day long. For day and night Your hand was heavy upon me; my vitality was turned into the drought of summer” (Ps. 32:3-4). But David acknowledged and confessed his sin to God and found forgiveness (v.5).
It is only from God that we can receive the grace of forgiveness when our choices have produced painful regrets. And only in Him do we find the wisdom to make better choices.
Father of mercies, forgive me for the foolish choices I have made. Please enable me to be wiser in my choices. Teach me the value of resting in Your grace.
God’s forgiveness frees us from the chains of regret.
For about a year after his adultery with Bathsheba, David refused to repent of his sins (covetousness, adultery, deceit, and murder) until the prophet Nathan confronted him (2 Sam. 11–12). David penned Psalms 32 and 51 thereafter. In today’s psalm, David speaks of the heavy burden of guilt in his year-long denial of sin (vv.3-4). He also tells of the joy of receiving God’s gift of forgiveness when, with a contrite heart, he confesses and repents (vv.1-2,5) and becomes receptive to God’s rule in his life (vv.7-11). Warning of God’s disciplining hand (v.4), David urges all who have sinned to repent without delay (v.6).