Music for Praise

Bible:

Praise the Lord!
Praise God in his sanctuary;
praise him in his mighty heavens!
Praise him for his mighty deeds;
praise him according to his excellent greatness!

Praise him with trumpet sound;
praise him with lute and harp!
Praise him with tambourine and dance;
praise him with strings and pipe!
Praise him with sounding cymbals;
praise him with loud clashing cymbals!
Let everything that has breath praise the Lord!
Praise the Lord! Psalm 150 ESV

Great and amazing are your deeds,
O Lord God the Almighty!
Just and true are your ways,
O King of the nations!
Who will not fear, O Lord,
and glorify your name?
For you alone are holy.
All nations will come
and worship you,
for your righteous acts have been revealed. Revelation 15:3b-4 ESV

Reflection:

What kinds of instruments did people play in Bible times? This psalm mentions a number of them. It mentions trumpets, and there were two kinds of trumpets. One was made out of a ram’s horn, and it was used to call people to worship or soldiers to battle. There was also a trumpet made of brass or silver, and this was also used for worship and in battle. The lute usually had about five strings that were strummed, and it was small enough to carry. A harp was bigger and had 10 or 12 strings, and was shaped like a jar or bottle. A tambourine was actually more like a hand drum, and clay figures often show women playing a tambourine. Clay figures also show people playing pipes, which were double-piped flutes with holes to cover to make different notes. Cymbals were made out of copper or bronze, and gave a very loud, ringing sound.

Psalm 150 calls on people to use all kinds of instruments to praise God. Music is a wonderful gift of God for us, and we can use music to worship and praise God. What kinds of instruments do we use today? We use organs and pianos and guitars and drums and flutes and many, many others. God is honored when we give him our best music and use our voices to tell about how great and wonderful he is. God’s angels praise God in the highest heavens, God’s people Israel praised him in his sanctuary, we praise him in our churches, and we can also sing and make music and praise God anywhere.

The most important part about praising God is to know why we praise him. The Bible says we should praise God for his mighty and amazing deeds. God gives us everything we are and have, and even more, when we turned away from him in sin he sent Jesus to die on the cross for us. Jesus rose again from the dead and defeated sin and death and all the forces of evil, and this is the most mighty and amazing deed of all. Jesus died for us and for all people everywhere, and people from all nations come to God through Jesus to thank and praise him for everything he has done. Everything that has breath has reason to praise the Lord now and forever.

Prayer:

Dear Heavenly Father, we praise you for how wonderful you are and for everything you’ve done for us, and especially for Jesus, our Savior. In His Name, Amen.

Source:

The Lutheran Study Bible St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 2009, p. 993.

All God’s Creatures

Bible:

Praise the Lord!
Praise the Lord from the heavens;
praise him in the heights!
Praise him, all his angels;
praise him, all his hosts!

Praise him, sun and moon,
praise him, all you shining stars!
Praise him, you highest heavens,
and you waters above the heavens!

Let them praise the name of the Lord!
For he commanded and they were created.
And he established them forever and ever;
he gave a decree, and it shall not pass away.

Praise the Lord from the earth,
you great sea creatures and all deeps,
fire and hail, snow and mist,
stormy wind fulfilling his word!

Mountains and all hills,
fruit trees and all cedars!
Beasts and all livestock,
creeping things and flying birds!

Kings of the earth and all peoples,
princes and all rulers of the earth!
Young men and maidens together,
old men and children!

Let them praise the name of the Lord,
for his name alone is exalted;
his majesty is above earth and heaven.
He has raised up a horn for his people,
praise for all his saints,
for the people of Israel who are near to him.
Praise the Lord! Psalm 148 ESV

“For you shall go out in joy
and be led forth in peace;
the mountains and the hills before you
shall break forth into singing,
and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.
Instead of the thorn shall come up the cypress;
instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle;
and it shall make a name for the Lord,
an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off.” Isaiah 55:12-13 ESV

Reflection:

Have you ever heard the song, “All God’s Creatures Have a Place in the Choir”? It talks about the sounds different animals make–the bullfrog that  croaks, the hippopotamus that moans and groans, and the cow that says, “Moo!” It talks about honey bees and dogs and cats and donkeys and crickets and all kinds of animals. Each animal makes its own kind of sound, and all the sounds fit together just the way they should. It’s a happy song about all the animals God made and how they all have their place in God’s world.

Psalm 148 is like that, but it doesn’t only talk about animals. It talks about everything God made. It starts with the angels, then it talks about the sun, moon, and stars. It talks about clouds and sky and sea creatures and hills and mountains. It talks about fire and hail and snow and mist. It talks about trees and animals, bugs and birds. Then it talks about people, all kinds of people. It especially talks about rulers in the world. They especially need to remember that they belong to God.  People are God’s creations, just like angels and fire and bugs. We are all made by God, and this psalm calls on all of us to praise God. God made us to praise him and to enjoy our place in his creation.

People have a special place in God’s creation. God created us in his image and put us in charge of his world and told us to take care of the world and the animals and plants and fish and bugs. But then we fell into sin, and the whole creation was hurt by our sin. God promised to send a Savior who would bring us back to him again, and that Savior was Jesus. Jesus died and rose again to defeat sin and death and to make us God’s children. All creation is waiting for the day when God will make everything new and good again in a new world where everything will love and praise God the way he intended.

Prayer:

Dear Heavenly Father, Thank you for making us and for sending Jesus to bring us back to you. Help us to praise you now and always. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Source:

http://bussongs.com/songs/gods-creatures-place-choir.php

The Lord of Winter

Bible:

Praise the Lord, O Jerusalem!
Praise your God, O Zion!
For he strengthens the bars of your gates;
he blesses your children within you.
He makes peace in your borders;
he fills you with the finest of the wheat.
He sends out his command to the earth;
his word runs swiftly.
He gives snow like wool;
he scatters frost like ashes.
He hurls down his crystals of ice like crumbs;
who can stand before his cold?
He sends out his word, and melts them;
he makes his wind blow and the waters flow.
He declares his word to Jacob,
his statutes and rules to Israel.
He has not dealt thus with any other nation;
they do not know his rules.
Praise the Lord! Psalm 147:12-20 ESV

God thunders wondrously with his voice;
he does great things that we cannot comprehend.
For to the snow he says, ‘Fall on the earth,’
likewise to the downpour, his mighty downpour.
He seals up the hand of every man,
that all men whom he made may know it.
Then the beasts go into their lairs,
and remain in their dens.
From its chamber comes the whirlwind,
and cold from the scattering winds.
By the breath of God ice is given,
and the broad waters are frozen fast.
He loads the thick cloud with moisture;
the clouds scatter his lightning.
They turn around and around by his guidance,
to accomplish all that he commands them
on the face of the habitable world.
Whether for correction or for his land
or for love, he causes it to happen. Job 37:5-13 ESV

Reflection:

Winter is the coldest season of the year. In some parts of the world winter brings snow and ice and storms. There are fewer hours of daylight and the darkness of night is long. Winter happens because the earth is tipped on its axis. The part of the world that is tipped away from the sun has winter, and the other part has summer at the same time. So, in Australia people have winter in July, and summer in January! During the winter, some animals like bears, ground squirrels, and hedgehogs hibernate. Their body temperatures drop and they sleep soundly. Plants stop growing and also sleep. Bulbs rest underground, trees have lost their leaves, and even evergreen trees rest from growing.

Psalm 147 talks about winter being under God’s control. He works even in times of cold and darkness and death. He gives the harvest so that people have food to eat during the winter. We can see God’s power and majesty in the ice and the storms and the wind. We see beauty in the snow and the ice crystals. Plants and animals rest and sleep during the winter, but God is still active and at work.

This psalm also talks about how God gave his law to his people Israel. They were blessed more than any other people to know his law. God sent his law into the darkness and death that sin had brought to the world. The law showed the people how to walk with God, but it also showed how they had turned away and had not followed his law. God’s word promised a Savior to the people of Israel and to the whole world. Jesus came into our world of death and sin and gave his life for us on the cross. Because of Jesus, we now live in the light and warmth of God’s love and forgiveness. We can know the love of God in the dark times of our lives, and be sure that we will live in his heavenly kingdom of light forever.

Prayer:

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for being our God even in the times of darkness and death, and for sending Jesus to give us new life. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 

God Knows and Cares

Bible:

Praise the Lord!
For it is good to sing praises to our God;
for it is pleasant, and a song of praise is fitting.
The Lord builds up Jerusalem;
he gathers the outcasts of Israel.
He heals the brokenhearted
and binds up their wounds.
He determines the number of the stars;
he gives to all of them their names.
Great is our Lord, and abundant in power;
his understanding is beyond measure.
The Lord lifts up the humble;
he casts the wicked to the ground.

Sing to the Lord with thanksgiving;
make melody to our God on the lyre!
He covers the heavens with clouds;
he prepares rain for the earth;
he makes grass grow on the hills.
He gives to the beasts their food,
and to the young ravens that cry.
His delight is not in the strength of the horse,
nor his pleasure in the legs of a man,
but the Lord takes pleasure in those who fear him,
in those who hope in his steadfast love. Psalm 147:1-11 ESV

Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows. Matthew 10:29-31 ESV

Reflection:

How many stars are there in the universe? Astronomers can only tell us about the universe that we can see, and we don’t know how many stars might be beyond what we’re able to find with our telescopes. But a good guess might be that there are one thousand billion billion stars in the universe. That’s a lot of stars! We couldn’t possibly count them all, but God knows exactly how many stars there are. He even has a name for each one. We have names for some of the stars we can see, such as Sirius and Regulus and Procyon. We mostly name groups of stars, like the Big Dipper or Orion the Hunter. But God knows each individual star by name. That’s pretty amazing!

Psalm 147 talks about God knowing and caring for all of his creation. It says that he numbers and names the stars, covers the sky with clouds and brings the rain to earth, makes grass grow on the hills, and makes sure the animals have food. He cares especially for his human creation. He brings outcasts back home and heals people with broken hearts. Jesus says that our Heavenly Father knows when a sparrow falls down dead, and that God cares for us even more. He knows everything about us, even how many hairs are on our head! The Lord isn’t impressed by people who are strong and powerful, but he is ready to help people who respect and honor him instead of themselves.

God’s power is amazing and his loving care is more than we could ever hope to understand. When we were outcast from God’s presence because of our sin, he didn’t leave us alone. He sent Jesus to save us and bring us back to him. Jesus died for us so that our sins could be forgiven and we could be God’s people. Because of Jesus we have God’s love and care through all our life, and a heavenly home with him after our life on earth is over.

Prayer:

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for the loving care you give your whole creation, and for the love you show us in Jesus. In His Name, Amen.

Source:

http://helios.gsfc.nasa.gov/qa_star.html#howmany

Who You Can Trust

Bible:

Praise the Lord!
Praise the Lord, O my soul!
I will praise the Lord as long as I live;
I will sing praises to my God while I have my being.

Put not your trust in princes,
in a son of man, in whom there is no salvation.
When his breath departs, he returns to the earth;
on that very day his plans perish.

Blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob,
whose hope is in the Lord his God,
who made heaven and earth,
the sea, and all that is in them,
who keeps faith forever;
who executes justice for the oppressed,
who gives food to the hungry.

The Lord sets the prisoners free;
the Lord opens the eyes of the blind.
The Lord lifts up those who are bowed down;
the Lord loves the righteous.
The Lord watches over the sojourners;
he upholds the widow and the fatherless,
but the way of the wicked he brings to ruin.

The Lord will reign forever,
your God, O Zion, to all generations.
Praise the Lord! Psalm 146 ESV

The fear of man lays a snare,
but whoever trusts in the Lord is safe.
Many seek the face of a ruler,
but it is from the Lord that a man gets justice. Proverbs 29:25-26 ESV

Reflection:

In 1961 John F. Kennedy became the President of the United States. He was young and handsome and very popular. It was a time of hope and optimism for the United States, and many exciting things were happening. The economy was expanding and doing very well, so that many Americans felt comfortable and rich and there were plans to help the people who were poor. The civil rights movement gave hope that black people would have the rights they deserved in society, and some new laws were passed to protect these rights. The Peace Corps was started and gave young people a chance to help and serve in developing nations in the world. There was even talk of sending a man to the moon! But two years later a terrible thing happened. President Kennedy was shot to death while he was riding in a parade. He couldn’t do anything more for the American people, and anyone who had hoped for the great things he would do had to put their hopes somewhere else.

Psalm 146 warns us not to put our trust in the rulers of the world. Some rulers are blessings from God and do good things, but they are human beings. They make mistakes, and they won’t live forever. Their hopes and plans often die with them. Some rulers do bad things, and people might suffer because of what they do. People worry and are afraid of having a bad ruler. But this psalm reminds us that God is in control. It is foolish and wrong to trust a ruler to make everything right, or to be afraid that any ruler will make life too terrible to handle. It’s the Lord who brings justice and feeds hungry people, who watches over the poor and helps the prisoners. The Lord is the king of the world, and he watches over and takes care of his people no matter what.

God often does good things through the governments of the world, but there’s one thing no government and no ruler could ever do. No ruler is good enough or powerful enough to save people from their sins. Only God can do that. He sent his Son Jesus to be our Savior. The rulers of Jesus’ time put Jesus on the cross even though he wasn’t guilty of any crime. But God was working through this terrible injustice. Jesus died on the cross, but his plan to save us didn’t die with him. His death paid the penalty for our sins, and he rose again and conquered death for good. Jesus gives us salvation and peace with God, something no ruler in this world could ever give.

Prayer:

Dear Jesus, thank you for being our Savior and our wonderful king. Amen.

Source:

http://www.whitehouse.gov/about/presidents/johnfkennedy

Helping the Helpless

Bible:

All your works shall give thanks to you, O Lord,
and all your saints shall bless you!
They shall speak of the glory of your kingdom
and tell of your power,
to make known to the children of man your mighty deeds,
and the glorious splendor of your kingdom.
Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom,
and your dominion endures throughout all generations.

The Lord is faithful in all his words
and kind in all his works.
The Lord upholds all who are falling
and raises up all who are bowed down.
The eyes of all look to you,
and you give them their food in due season.
You open your hand;
you satisfy the desire of every living thing.
The Lord is righteous in all his ways
and kind in all his works.
The Lord is near to all who call on him,
to all who call on him in truth.
He fulfills the desire of those who fear him;
he also hears their cry and saves them.
The Lord preserves all who love him,
but all the wicked he will destroy.

My mouth will speak the praise of the Lord,
and let all flesh bless his holy name forever and ever. Psalm 145:10-21 ESV

For he delivers the needy when he calls,
the poor and him who has no helper.
He has pity on the weak and the needy,
and saves the lives of the needy. Psalm 72:12-13 ESV

Reflection:

In the middle ages in Europe, knights were expected to live up to a code of chivalry. To be a true knight meant more than just being powerful and winning battles and killing enemies. Chivalry included protecting the weak and defenseless, helping widows and orphans, and respecting women. Knights who helped and protected people that needed their help were considered the best knights. Many stories and songs were made about powerful knights who used their strength and skill to help the weak. We still like to hear stories about King Arthur and his knights. If someone asked one of King Arthur’s knights for help, the knight would have considered it an honor and an obligation to give it. Chivalry was what made them great.

Psalm 145 talks about how great and wonderful God is, and the glory and power of his kingdom. God’s people love to tell stories about the things the Lord has done, and pass the stories on to their children. God is great not only because of his power and majesty, but especially because of the way he loves to help the poor and needy. The psalm says that God holds people up who are falling and raises up people bowed down with trouble. He satisfies hungry people and animals with food. He is close to people who are in trouble and call to him for help, and he saves them from their trouble. God shows how great he is by helping people who are weak and needy.

We were all in terrible trouble because of our sin. We were separated from God and under the power of evil and death. We couldn’t do anything to help or save ourselves, but God didn’t turn away from us. Instead he showed wonderful kindness to us by coming to us in Jesus to rescue us from sin and death. Jesus died on the cross and rose again, and because of him we are saved from the power of evil and have life with God. Jesus shows us his greatness by loving us and saving us and making us his people now and forever.

Prayer:

Dear Jesus, thank you for your love and the forgiveness that you won for us on the cross. Amen.

Mercy for the Whole Creation

Bible:

I will extol you, my God and King,
and bless your name forever and ever.
Every day I will bless you
and praise your name forever and ever.
Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised,
and his greatness is unsearchable.

One generation shall commend your works to another,
and shall declare your mighty acts.
On the glorious splendor of your majesty,
and on your wondrous works, I will meditate.
They shall speak of the might of your awesome deeds,
and I will declare your greatness.
They shall pour forth the fame of your abundant goodness
and shall sing aloud of your righteousness.

The Lord is gracious and merciful,
slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
The Lord is good to all,
and his mercy is over all that he has made. Psalm 145:1-9 ESV

For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. Romans 8:18-24a

Reflection:

Do you know what a veterinarian does? A veterinarian is an animal doctor, someone who takes care of sick or hurt animals. A veterinarian might take care of small pets, or farm animals, or even possibly animals in a zoo or a wildlife refuge. Is that something you might like to be? It’s wonderful work, taking care of the animals God made and cares about.

Psalm 145 praises God for all the good things he does. It says that he is the king of the whole world. God is so wonderful that parents pass down to their children and grandchildren all of the things God is and does for them. It talks about God being gracious and merciful, slow to get angry and having love that lasts. But then it says something else. It says that God is good to all and has mercy on all he has made. That means people of course, but it also means animals and plants and all of creation. God cares about everything he has made.

When people sinned, they not only became separated from God and fell under the power of sin and evil and death, but the whole world became sick with sin. People weren’t the only ones to suffer. Death and pain and disease hurt plants and animals and the whole of creation. So God sent Jesus, the Savior, to die and rise again to defeat sin and death. Everyone who believes in Jesus has God’s forgiveness and new life with him. But there’s even more. God’s plan is to make all of his creation new someday. He will put all the pain and suffering in the world to an end. Everything will be new and beautiful and good, the way God intended it to be from the beginning. We can look forward to the day when God will make all things new.

Prayer:

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for sending Jesus to be our Savior and for your promise to make everything new in him. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

God, Evil, and Us

Bible:

How precious to me are your thoughts, O God!
How vast is the sum of them!
If I would count them, they are more than the sand.
I awake, and I am still with you.

Oh that you would slay the wicked, O God!
O men of blood, depart from me!
They speak against you with malicious intent;
your enemies take your name in vain.
Do I not hate those who hate you, O Lord?
And do I not loathe those who rise up against you?
I hate them with complete hatred;
I count them my enemies.

Search me, O God, and know my heart!
Try me and know my thoughts!
And see if there be any grievous way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting! Psalm 139:17-24 ESV

Your boasting is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? Cleanse out the old leaven that you may be a new lump, as you really are unleavened. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. Let us therefore celebrate the festival, not with the old leaven, the leaven of malice and evil, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. I Corinthians 5:6-8 ESV

Reflection:

Do you know anyone who is allergic to peanuts? For this person, if you are making some delicious chocolate chip cookies, even a little bit of peanut butter or a small handful of chopped peanuts would turn what might have been a special treat into sudden illness and possibly even death. If you or someone in your family were allergic to peanuts, your mom or dad might even want to keep anything with peanuts in it out of your kitchen and home. A person’s life is too precious to risk losing it to a few peanuts.

Psalm 139 has been talking about how wonderful God is, and how wonderful we are because he made us. But then the psalmist says some things that are hard to understand. He wishes God would kill the wicked people who don’t love and obey the Lord. The psalmist says, “Do I not hate those who hate you, O Lord?” This seems so wrong! Does God want us to hate people and wish that he would kill them?

There are a few things we can notice and think about. First of all, the psalmist doesn’t say that he, himself, is going to kill the wicked people. He leaves that in God’s hands. God never tells his people to act on their own and carry out their own judgments on others. The psalms are helpful to us because through them we can tell God about all our feelings, even anger and impatience and doubt. We don’t have to hide these kinds of feelings from God, but we can pour them out to him and let him take care of what we feel and need. This psalmist understands that God’s beautiful creation and his people are terribly hurt by the sin and evil in the world. Even a little bit of evil causes all kinds of trouble and pain, just as even a few peanuts can bring death to some people.

The most important things we should notice is that after the psalmist talks about wicked people, he asks God to search his own heart. He knows that he is also a sinner, and he wants God to get rid of his own evil thoughts. He wants to follow and obey God all the way to everlasting life. Our thoughts are not pure and holy like God’s thoughts, and because of that we are separated from God. But God came to us in Jesus, and Jesus followed and obeyed God perfectly. His heart was pure before his Heavenly Father, and Jesus gives us his perfect life and death to cover our own sin and guilt. He forgives our sins and gives us new hearts every day so that we can follow him all the way to heaven.

Prayer:

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for giving us forgiveness through Jesus our Savior, and for letting us come to you with all our needs and feelings. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Wonderfully Made

Bible:

For you formed my inward parts;
you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works;
my soul knows it very well.
My frame was not hidden from you,
when I was being made in secret,
intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed substance;
in your book were written, every one of them,
the days that were formed for me,
when as yet there was none of them. Psalm 139:13-16 ESV

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.”

So God created man in his own image,
in the image of God he created him;
male and female he created them. Genesis 1:26-27 ESV

Reflection:

The way babies develop inside of their mothers is truly amazing. At the end of the first month of the life of a baby in the womb, he or she will have large, dark circles for eyes; the mouth, lower jaw, and throat will be developing; and the tiny heart will already be beating. All this is happening even though the baby is smaller than a grain of rice! By the end of the second month, the beginnings of the ears, arms and legs are forming, and even the fingers and toes are starting to form. By the end of the the third month inside the mother, the fingers, toes, and even fingernails and toenails are all formed. The baby can open and close his or her fists and mouth. All the organs inside the body are formed, although at this point the baby is only four inches long.

Psalm 139 talks about how God knits babies together in their mothers’ wombs. Nowadays we might see a picture, called an ultrasound, of a baby inside his or her mother, but for the most part what is happening with the baby is a secret that only God sees. The whole amazing development of a baby in the womb is planned and brought about by God. He designed babies to be made in this wonderful way. He sees the days that babies have ahead of them even when they haven’t been born yet. He saw you when you grew inside your mother and knew what kind of person you would grow to be.

God created us to be in his own image, to love him and serve him and to take care of the earth and all its living creatures. But we turned away from God and went our own way. We disobey God and sin against him. We don’t treat the life he creates with the respect and care that he wants us to have. Instead of a wonderful life with God, we chose death and sorrow. But God sent Jesus to bring us back to him again. Jesus came to win forgiveness for our sins and to defeat sin and death. In Jesus, we are God’s people once more, and he sends us his Holy Spirit so that we can serve and follow him now and in the new world to come.

Prayer:

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for making us in such a wonderful way, and for sending Jesus our Savior to make us your children. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Source:

http://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases_conditions/hic_Am_I_Pregnant/hic-fetal-development-stages-of-growth

God Is Everywhere

Bible:

Where shall I go from your Spirit?
Or where shall I flee from your presence?
If I ascend to heaven, you are there!
If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there!
If I take the wings of the morning
and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,
even there your hand shall lead me,
and your right hand shall hold me.
If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me,
and the light about me be night,”
even the darkness is not dark to you;
the night is bright as the day,
for darkness is as light with you. Psalm 139:7-12 ESV

Now the word of the Lord came to Jonah the son of Amittai, saying,“Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and call out against it, for their evil has come up before me.” But Jonah rose to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord. He went down to Joppa and found a ship going to Tarshish. So he paid the fare and went down into it, to go with them to Tarshish, away from the presence of the Lord.

But the Lord hurled a great wind upon the sea, and there was a mighty tempest on the sea, so that the ship threatened to break up. Jonah 1:1-4 ESV

Reflection:

Roseen wanted to steal some money from her mother’s purse. She went into her mom’s bedroom when her mom was busy and took the purse. Then she went into her own room and hid in her closet while she stole the money. She knew her mother couldn’t see what she was doing in the closet, and she thought that God wouldn’t be able to see either. She was very little, and she didn’t know how silly her idea was. But even some grownups sometimes think that God is only in church, and that he doesn’t know or care what they do when they’re in other places.

Jonah had thoughts like that. God called him to do something he didn’t want to do, and he thought that he could run away from the Lord. He got into a boat and traveled somewhere that he thought God wouldn’t see or know about. Jonah thought that the Lord lived in his temple in Jerusalem and that he wasn’t in other places in the world. But when God sent a storm on the sea, Jonah learned that God is everywhere. He learned that he couldn’t run away from God. Psalm 139 talks about how God is everywhere in the whole universe. It’s impossible to run away from God or to find a place where God isn’t there. God is there in the darkest cave, and he’s far beyond the atmosphere, and he’s in the deepest trench of the ocean. Wherever we go, God is there, and when we die he will still be there.

This is both bad news and good news. We are sinners, and we sometimes want to run away from God and go our own way. We don’t want God to see or know where we are or what we are doing. But it’s also good news. No matter where we are or what kind of trouble we have, even if no one else is there to help us, God is there. He will never leave us alone, and we can always talk to him in prayer and be sure that he hears us. Even though he knows all about our sins, he still loves us. He sent Jesus to die on the cross for our sins, and because of Jesus, we can be glad that God is always with us, no matter where we are.

Prayer:

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for always being with us, no matter where we go and no matter what happens. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.