Great and Worthy is the Lord!

Reading: Psalm 96
We have a clown loach named Pongo. He travelled with us in the car all the way from Buderim to the Burdekin. As we settled into a new house, he settled into a new fish-tank.

Ever since we bought him, Pongo definitely wanted to be "top dog." He would bite the tails of the guppies. He persecuted two small catfish to the point of death. He attacked two large snails, eventually killing them, their shells riddled with holes. The situation is much better since we introduced two smaller clown loaches.

Too much of our human life is a power struggle - jealous rivalry in the work-place, vicious competition between businesses, race-track mentality on the road... We feel we must "prove" ourselves - more than that, to prove ourselves superior to others. The attitude has the potential to destroy marriage, families, our society and the world.

Psalm 96 calls on all the earth to sing a new song to the Lord. His "salvation," "glory" and "marvellous deeds" are to be declared among all nations, all peoples (vv. 1-3). All "families of nations" are being called to worship the Lord, acknowledging his glory, strength, splendour, holiness (vv. 7-9). "The Lord reigns" - the Creator of all things, who will judge everyone with fairness, righteousness and truth (vv. 10,13).

"For great is the Lord and most worthy of praise" (v. 4a).There are many who aspire to greatness but are in no sense worthy of praise. Many names come to mind from recent and current history. There have been political and religious ideologies too - presenting themselves as candidates for greatness, even for world mastery. Sooner or later the truth emerges - they may be great, but not worthy.

There is only one true God, the Psalmist insists. "For all the gods of the nations are idols, but the Lord made the heavens" (v. 5). The Lord is great and most worthy of praise.

Recently, I had a conversation with a man who declared himself to be an atheist. All religions are the same, he said, and none of them make sense.

Unfortunately, it wasnít possible to pursue the conversation. I sensed this could possibly be a disillusioned VietNam veteran. Certainly, his opening arguments seemed tired and unresearched. I doubted he had seriously considered any religion. It was highly unlikely he had ever studied the gospels and faced the claims of Jesus.

We live in an open, tolerant society. Faith in Christ is a voluntary matter - and so it should be. Enforced "christianisation" in some eras of Church history is as abhorrent as enforced "islamisation" of Christian villages in parts of Indonesia in recent years. Such actions are a denial of who God is and how he relates to us.

But we can make the opposite mistake - in the name of tolerance (and fear?) failing to get the message out about the greatness and worthiness of God, about his marvellous deeds and his inviting love.

Godís love is "unconditional," we are told - yet it isnít non-directional. We are told that "God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us" (Rom. 5.8). Thatís true unconditional love. We also read that God "wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth" (1 Tim. 2.4).

Our calling is to love people unconditionally. Our prayer is that, through our practical caring love, they will recognise the greatness of God and his worthiness of their faith, allegiance and praise. But, whatever their response, we will keep on loving them.

Prayer: Eternal Lord, we sing your praise. We want the whole world to know about your marvellous deeds and unfailing love. You are great and most worthy of our praise, of our love, of our faith, of our life, of our obedience. Help us to love people unconditionally. Through our love, may they glimpse your love. Whatever their response, give us the strength to keep on loving them. In Jesusí name, Amen.

God so loved the world

Praise the Lord!
Exalt his name!
Declare his goodness day by day!
Shout for joy!
The Lord is King!
His kingdom bring!

God so loved the world
that he gave his only Son,
that whoever trusts in him
will have eternal life.

Praise the Lord!
Exalt his name!
Declare his goodness day by day!
Shout for joy!
The Lord is King!
His kingdom bring!


© Peter J. Blackburn, Burdekin BlueCare Devotions, 5 November 2002.
Except where otherwise noted, Scripture quotations are from the New International Version, © International Bible Society, 1984.

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