Wilderness begets wilderness

Oh that my head were waters,
    and my eyes a fountain of tears,
that I might weep day and night
    for the slain of the daughter of my people!
Oh that I had in the desert
    a travelers’ lodging place,
that I might leave my people
    and go away from them!
For they are all adulterers,
    a company of treacherous men.
They bend their tongue like a bow;
    falsehood and not truth has grown strong in the land;
for they proceed from evil to evil,
    and they do not know me, declares the Lord.

Let everyone beware of his neighbor,
    and put no trust in any brother,
for every brother is a deceiver,
    and every neighbor goes about as a slanderer.
Everyone deceives his neighbor,
    and no one speaks the truth;
they have taught their tongue to speak lies;
    they weary themselves committing iniquity.
Heaping oppression upon oppression, and deceit upon deceit,
    they refuse to know me, declares the Lord.

Their tongue is a deadly arrow;
    it speaks deceitfully;
with his mouth each speaks peace to his neighbor,
    but in his heart he plans an ambush for him.
Shall I not punish them for these things? declares the Lord,
    and shall I not avenge myself
    on a nation such as this?

I will make Jerusalem a heap of ruins,
    a lair of jackals,
and I will make the cities of Judah a desolation,
    without inhabitant.”

“Who is the man so wise that he can understand this?.. Why is the land ruined and laid waste like a wilderness, so that no one passes through? ‘Because they have forsaken my law that I set before them, and have not obeyed my voice or walked in accord with it… Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches, but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight, declares the Lord.’” Jeremiah 9:1-6,8-9,11-13,23-24

A cold heart, barren of compassion or concern, begets relationship deserts. A mindset bent on conniving and manipulation is void of life-giving truth and constructive purpose. A famine of spiritual drink and Christian fellowship leads to dry, fruitless living. Whoring after the world and its pet idols leaves a wilderness of soul that rejects the Lord who created it, the only One who can fill its shape with zest and meaning. Rejecting the knowledge of the Lord and His good ways leads to empty living, and grieves Him Who made us for so much more.

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There are desolate times that come upon us unwittingly, where we have no ability to diffuse the trauma, or hurt, or loneliness. But there are other situations where we can make a change, or a difference. Not every wilderness needs remain barren, but can become a place of hope and flourishing when we repent of our contribution. Will I forsake the treachery in my idolater’s heart? Every trace of disdain for others? Any deceit in appearance or speech?

Lord, may I daily understand You better. Transform my wildernesses into pure, fruitful lands, for the sake of Your delight and glory.

 

 

Seek the Welfare of the City

Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, to all the exiles whom I have sent into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: Build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat their produce. Take wives and have sons and daughters; take wives for your sons, and give your daughters in marriage, that they may bear sons and daughters; multiply there, and do not decrease. But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare…

For thus says the Lord: When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will visit you, and I will fulfill to you my promise and bring you back to this place. For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you, declares the Lord, and I will restore your fortunes and gather you from all the nations and all the places where I have driven you, declares the Lord, and I will bring you back to the place from which I sent you into exile.” Jeremiah 29:4-7,10-14

When we are sent to an exile beyond our control, be it a foreign land to live, a strange place of unemployment, isolation, diagnosis, or station in life, the Lord says, ‘Do not waste the places and hardships I assign.’ He has holy purpose for every aspect of our days, and in order to experience the welfare He intends, we are to seek our ‘city’s’ welfare. Pray in every situation, and for it. Make our home there, plant good seeds to bear fruit and benefit those around us, invest in relationships. Do not fritter away the time complaining, longing for former comforts and familiarities and ‘what always was,’ paralyzed in bitterness or worry, regret and what-ifs.

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When we dig in, and make the best of where we are, God builds us, teaches us, reveals new aspects of Himself we can adore and trust, and prepares us for the next place in His plan. His promise is for our ultimate good, and we learn in exile that our good is His presence, our wealth His limitless spiritual riches, our freedom His perfect will, our guaranteed security His Spirit’s seal, our future the hope of glory. If these are surely ours, we have every motivation to make the most of present circumstances, to exercise our gifts, to share the glorious light of the gospel. (Ephesians 1:3-11; Colossians 1:27)

What am I intentionally, actively contributing to the lives of those in my ‘city’– be it a physical place or a hard circumstance? With what am I investing, and where, to make an eternal difference? Are there resources and talents at my disposal that I have hoarded for an unknown hour, when God is calling me to contribute now?

Lord, give me Your eyes and heart for wherever I am, and through me bear lasting fruit for Your glory and others’ good.

 

All Things His Servants

Give them this charge for their masters: ‘Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: “It is I who by my great power and my outstretched arm have made the earth, with the men and animals that are on the earth, and I give it to whomever it seems right to me. Now I have given all these lands into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon, my servant, and I have given him also the beasts of the field to serve him. All the nations shall serve him and his son and his grandson, until the time of his own land comes. Then many nations and great kings shall make him their slave.”‘” Jeremiah 27:4-7

Your faithfulness endures to all generations;
    you have established the earth, and it stands fast.
By your appointment they stand this day,
    for all things are your servants.” Psalm 119:90-91

Prophet under God, envoys under kings, nations under Nebuchadnezzar… all serve the LORD of hosts. From soldier to animal, sun to storm to pandemic, passions to famines, all things are God’s servants. Like chess pieces on a board, created for His sovereign purposes and existing in His appointed time and place, all are moved and moving according to His will. (Acts 17:26-28)

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When we consider all that goes on around us, in our communities and in the nations, do we fret and fear, or trust the One whose writing of history is served by these events? As we observe tumult in the heavens and seas and on earth, do we quake with anxiety, or humble ourselves in wonder at the Lord over all created things? When life-wasting disease or mental illness encroaches on a loved one, or violence rocks a city, or dreams die painful deaths, will we languish in despair, or look to the Master who is present in every storm, has the ability to calm us in the midst, and brings us securely to the other side? (Job 38:4-14,25-37; Psalm 8:1,3-5; Mark 4:37-39)

And what are we doing deliberately to serve God’s purposes in His church, in our areas of influence? When do we take regular time to search His word and listen for instruction? Where am I exhibiting His love? How am I employing hands of service, feet carrying good news, a voice of truth to convict, encourage, or console? What personal areas do I need to surrender as the Lord’s, not my own, here to serve His purposes and priorities over selfish desires? (Psalm 32:8; Romans 10:14-15; 1 Corinthians 14:3; Galatians 5:13; Ephesians 4:11-15; 6:15)

A charge to keep I have,
A God to glorify,
A never-dying soul to save,
And fit it for the sky.

To serve the present age,
My calling to fulfill:
Oh, may it all my pow’rs engage
To do my Master’s will!

Arm me with jealous care,
As in Thy sight to live;
And O Thy servant, Lord, prepare
A strict account to give!”  ~Charles Wesley (1762)

Worthy God, may I ever keep Your charge, that Your will be done. I acknowledge that all I am, and have, exists to serve You, and to exalt Your glory and fame. May every choice, action, word, expression, and attitude declare that You alone are Master and Lord. (Matthew 6:9-10)

 

For Whom do I Build?

Woe to him who builds his house by unrighteousness,
    and his upper rooms by injustice,
who makes his neighbor serve him for nothing
    and does not give him his wages,
who says, ‘I will build myself a great house
    with spacious upper rooms,’
who cuts out windows for it,
    paneling it with cedar
    and painting it with vermilion.
Do you think you are a king
    because you compete in cedar?
Did not your father eat and drink
    and do justice and righteousness?
    Then it was well with him.
He judged the cause of the poor and needy;
    then it was well.
Is not this to know me?
    declares the Lord.
But you have eyes and heart
    only for your dishonest gain,
for shedding innocent blood,
    and for practicing oppression and violence.” Jeremiah 22:13-17

He has told you, O man, what is good;
    and what does the Lord require of you
but to do justice, and to love kindness,
    and to walk humbly with your God?” Micah 6:8

Our flesh and our world tell us to build our lives around us, our careers to be applauded, our relationships to be fulfilling, our days around our preferred or necessary activities, our fortresses to insulate from harm and anything distasteful. The end of this life-orientation is ultimately meaningless; a spacious edifice for cedar and cinnabar will be empty of all but woe. But God presents a different way to build, where all can be well, now and forever. (Ecclesiastes 1:2-3,8)

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If I am driven to construct my own great house, in ministry or any work, I may fall to taking advantage of, mistreating, or devaluing others who get in my way. My project may become my idol, consuming time and energy on everything but walking humbly. But to build what God has prescribed and provided is to know Him and make Him known. We are stewards of His good and perfect plans, and build with the intangible bricks of righteousness and justice, honesty and compassion and humility. Our finished product is  God’s honor, not our own, and the blessed good of others.

Are we willing to forego the temporal to invest in people, love, and God’s word that will never pass away? Where, and with what means, are we building beauty that brings glory to its Creator, not to self? For what ends do we employ our ‘stuff’– personal recognition, or exaltation of the Giver of every gift? (James 1:17)

How can I invest most wisely to introduce people to Jesus, to spread and apply the Gospel? How am I enriching others’ lives in ways that will last, storing for them treasures in heaven and not on earth? With every guest hosted, every meal served, every gift purchased and given, every note written, am I spreading the fragrance of Christ, unveiling the glories of God, pointing individuals to their Redeemer? (2 Corinthians 2:15; Colossians 3:17)

By wisdom a house is built, and by understanding it is established; by knowledge the rooms are filled with all precious and pleasant riches.” Proverbs 24:3-4

Lord, capture my eyes and heart only for You. Help me love and employ kindness in every effort. May I carefully and energetically build according to Your righteous plans, for the gain of Your glory in the earth.

A Long Obedience

The word that came to Jeremiah concerning all the people of Judah, in the fourth year of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah, king of Judah (that was the first year of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon), which Jeremiah the prophet spoke to all the people of Judah and all the inhabitants of Jerusalem: ‘For twenty-three years, from the thirteenth year of Josiah… to this day, the word of the Lord has come to me, and I have spoken persistently to you, but you have not listened. You have neither listened nor inclined your ears to hear, although the Lord persistently sent to you all his servants the prophets, saying, “Turn now, every one of you, from his evil way and evil deeds, and dwell upon the land that the Lord has given to you forever. Do not go after other gods to serve and worship them, or provoke me to anger with the work of your hands. Then I will do you no harm. Yet you have not listened to me, declares the Lord. Therefore, because you have not obeyed my words, behold, I will send for all the tribes of the north, and for Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon, my servant, and I will bring them against this land and its inhabitants, and against all these surrounding nations. I will… make them a horror, a hissing, and an everlasting desolation.”‘” Jeremiah 25:1-9

“And when Jeremiah had finished speaking all that the Lord had commanded him to speak to all the people, then the priests and the prophets and all the people laid hold of him, saying, ‘You shall die!'” Jeremiah 26:8

God calls us to be faithful, not successful. We answer to Him, not to the world or our peers. When we consider that Jeremiah, day in and year out, plodded on with God’s message through the mists of unbelief, the tangle of leaders’ criticism, and the cold of Israel’s rejection, we cannot but be humbled at his long, steady obedience to the One who had called him. (Jeremiah 1:4-10; Philippians 2:12-13)

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Obedience to the Lord is no guarantee that we will be looked upon favorably in the here and now, that we will accumulate accolades among those with whom we live, or that the message we are told to proclaim will be well-received. But it is the path to His blessing, His ultimate, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” What Friedrich Nietzsche called “a long obedience in the same direction” requires, for the Christian, a deep trust in the God who calls us to obey His instructions and see His word through to His directed end, no matter what comes. We can find solace and help by pouring our complaint to Him, and can continue on in His power, because of His presence with us. (Joshua 1:9; Jeremiah 1:8,12; 8:18-19; 12:1; 20:1-3; Matthew 25:23)

Obedience to the Lord is a proof of our love for Jesus. The longer we walk in His steps, doing as He has commanded, the better we know Him, by experience and intimate communion. The better we know Him, the more we love Him. Obedience is a glorious, long journey. (John 14:16; 1 John 5:3; 2 John 6)

Lord, may I never weary in doing the good Your word assigns to me. As You are faithful, so may I continue in long, unbroken, loving faithfulness to You. (2 Chronicles 15:7; Galatians 6:9)

All the Lord’s Doing

Then Jephthah sent messengers to the king of the Ammonites and said, ‘What do you have against me, that you have come to me to fight against my land?’ And the king of the Ammonites answered the messengers of Jephthah, ‘Because Israel on coming up from Egypt took away my land, from the Arnon to the Jabbok and to the Jordan; now therefore restore it peaceably.’  Jephthah again sent messengers to the king of the Ammonites and said to him, ‘Thus says Jephthah: Israel did not take away the land of Moab or the land of the Ammonites… The Lord, the God of Israel, gave Sihon and all his people into the hand of Israel, and they defeated them. So Israel took possession of all the land of the Amorites, who inhabited that country. And they took possession of all the territory of the Amorites from the Arnon to the Jabbok and from the wilderness to the Jordan. So then the Lord, the God of Israel, dispossessed the Amorites from before his people Israel; and are you to take possession of them? Will you not possess what Chemosh your god gives you to possess? And all that the Lord our God has dispossessed before us, we will possess… I therefore have not sinned against you, and you do me wrong by making war on me. The Lord, the Judge, decide this day between the people of Israel and the people of Ammon.” Judges 11:12-15,21-24,27

When the Ammonite king challenged Jephthah, the assigned leader of Israel, he came armed with a horizontal perspective: ‘You took my land, and I want it back.’ His strategy was determined by how he humanly saw what had transpired, where all is tied up in possessions and turf. But Jephthah saw from a different, vertical vantage point, where all was orchestrated by God’s invisible hand, tied up in kingdom purposes. The king cared only for his realm during his reign, whereas Jephthah had God’s covenant promise of the land in mind and in his sights. His motive and efforts were for something much grander and lasting.

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So much of what we do and how we react in a day is driven by our horizontal view of things, and the control we think we can exercise. The gravity of our flesh keeps our sights pulled earthward, and we operate in the lowest common denominator of my rights, my entitlements, my walls, my world. We jaunt around Ammonite kings, adjusting our crowns to what we want and what we think we deserve. We buttress ourselves from being affected or helped by a broader vision, a wider understanding of God’s vertical purposes in our sanctification and His kingdom work.

But the Lord calls us to be Jephthahs, to see all as His doing, to credit Him with our possessed gifts and any successes, and to eagerly seize and employ all He supplies. With those who have limited sight we are to share eternal, spiritual vision, to expose the folly of lesser gods like Chemosh and point them to trust the true Judge of all the earth. Are we so bold, and purposeful, and willing?

Lord, keep me believing and rejoicing that all is Your doing. In every challenge, with every opponent, my lot and my hope are with You.

Choose Your Persuader

Now at the feast the governor was accustomed to release for the crowd any one prisoner whom they wanted. And they had then a notorious prisoner called Barabbas. So when they had gathered, Pilate said, ‘Whom do you want me to release for you: Barabbas, or Jesus who is called Christ?’ For he knew that it was out of envy that they had delivered him up. Besides, while he was sitting on the judgment seat, his wife sent word to him, ‘Have nothing to do with that righteous man, for I have suffered much because of him today in a dream.’ Now the chief priests and the elders persuaded the crowd to ask for Barabbas and destroy Jesus. The governor again said to them, ‘Which of the two do you want me to release for you?’ And they said, ‘Barabbas.’ Pilate said to them, ‘Then what shall I do with Jesus who is called Christ?’ They all said, ‘Let him be crucified!’ And he said, ‘Why? What evil has he done?’ But they shouted all the more, ‘Let him be crucified!’

“So when Pilate saw that he was gaining nothing, but rather that a riot was beginning, he took water and washed his hands before the crowd, saying, ‘I am innocent of this man’s blood; see to it yourselves.’ And all the people answered, ‘His blood be on us and on our children!’ Then he released for them Barabbas, and having scourged Jesus, delivered him to be crucified.” Matthew 27:15-26

Religious leaders persuaded crowds, who with lusty shouts and hollow reasoning persuaded Pilate. Their voices drowned out Pilate’s wife, and the importance of her sole verbal warning. Fear of a riot and disdain for confrontation choked his own conviction of what was just. Pilate was a sad leader who, at the coercion of a crowd of emotion and voices, elevated one notorious prisoner at the expense of an innocent. He made an irreversible choice in the pressure of a moment to avoid what he deemed a worse end, and even washed his hands to pretend he didn’t know better.

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In our everyday priorities, to whom do we listen, and with what results? It’s important to be aware of different viewpoints, to hear and understand how other people think, and the motivation for their behavior. But what are we allowing to persuade us, to determine our decisions and what we do? How aware are we of the power of the media, or a celebrity, or a ‘thought-leader’ of any school, or the editorial staff of any publication, to sway public opinion and shape our own beliefs? Since when does a tweet, or an academically-credentialled speech, weigh more than the truth? Whose word molds our convictions– the crowd’s, or the Lord’s?

Am I more persuaded by the passion and tempo of argument, or its facts? When others steer astray from truth and calm, what will I do to maintain peace and reason, to elevate the vocabulary and conversation? How well am I expressing value for individuals, while being willing to turn away from the crowd when it stands against my God?

Father, keep me steady in the midst of vocal turmoil, and grant spiritual discernment for the present time. Persuade my mind and heart by Your glorious truth.

Hold the High View

I lift up my eyes to the hills.
    From where does my help come?
My help comes from the Lord,
    who made heaven and earth.” Psalm 121:1-2

Do you not know? Do you not hear?
    Has it not been told you from the beginning?
    Have you not understood from the foundations of the earth?
It is he who sits above the circle of the earth..;
who stretches out the heavens like a curtain,
    and spreads them like a tent to dwell in;
who brings princes to nothing,
    and makes the rulers of the earth as emptiness.

Lift up your eyes on high and see:
    who created these?
He who brings out their host by number,
    calling them all by name;
by the greatness of his might
    and because he is strong in power,
    not one is missing.

He gives power to the faint,
    and to him who has no might he increases strength.” Isaiah 40:21-23,26,29

In days and broadcasts poisoned with vitriolic combat, a natural inclination is to look at stuff owned, opportunities enjoyed, freedoms exercised, and wonder why there is so much hatred and discontent. No matter where we live, if social policy or pressure is to squelch a high view of God, or inhibit discussion and contemplation of Him, we have lost our footing and spiritual elegance, and are deigned to wallow in the lowest common denominator of horizontal human passion. It is an upward battle to contend for lofty thought and speech when dodging an incessant barrage of mud balls and have no holy foothold.

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So where is the vein of heavenly blue that bids us ascend, that lifts our eyes above the grey slush of acrimony? It exists. We must fight for the Lord, for His ways, His word, His manner and perspective of life. We must press on in our daily habits to know Him, to seek His wisdom and insight, to be filled with His Spirit. We must be diligent to exhibit His countenance, to make Him known in our interactions, to bring into our private, virtual, and public discourse fresh and biblical ideas, to punctuate the hateful darkness with holy light. (Hosea 6:3; Ephesians 5:18; Philippians 3:10; Matthew 5:14-16)

What will we do to cultivate healthy, life-giving friendships that help lift our chins when gravity pulls our sights downward? Whom will we encourage, and ascend beside? Our help, our helpers, and our courage and strength for the call, come from the Lord.

“I saw the LORD, high and lifted up… ‘Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!..’ Then one of the seraphim flew to me,.. and said: ‘Behold,.. your guilt is taken away, and your sin atoned for.’ And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, ‘Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?’ Then I said, ‘Here I am! Send me.’” Isaiah 6:1,5-8

Almighty God, keep me considering Your ways that I might know You better, and Your glory that I will rightfully worship. Grant me holy boldness to proclaim abroad the excellencies of Your Name and works that You be esteemed and exalted. (Exodus 33:13,18)

 

Broken Cisterns of Self and Shame

“I remember the devotion of your youth,
    your love as a bride,
how you followed me in the wilderness,
    in a land not sown.
Israel was holy to the Lord,
    the firstfruits of his harvest..
declares the Lord.

What wrong did your fathers find in me
    that they went far from me,
and went after worthlessness, and became worthless?..
I brought you into a plentiful land
    to enjoy its fruits and its good things.
But when you came in, you defiled my land
    and made my heritage an abomination.
The priests did not say, ‘Where is the Lord?’
    Those who handle the law did not know me;
the shepherds transgressed against me;
    the prophets prophesied by Baal
    and went after things that do not profit.

My people have changed their glory
    for that which does not profit.
Be appalled, O heavens, at this;
    be shocked, be utterly desolate,
declares the Lord,
 for my people have committed two evils:
they have forsaken me,
    the fountain of living waters,
and hewed out cisterns for themselves,
    broken cisterns that can hold no water…

For long ago I broke your yoke
    and burst your bonds;
    but you said, ‘I will not serve.’
Yes, on every high hill
    and under every green tree
    you bowed down like a whore.
Yet I planted you a choice vine,
    wholly of pure seed.
How then have you turned degenerate
    and become a wild vine?
Though you wash yourself with lye
    and use much soap,
    the stain of your guilt is still before me,
declares the Lord God

I will bring you to judgment
    for saying, ‘I have not sinned…’
You shall be put to shame [and] come away
    with your hands on your head.” Jeremiah 2:2-3,5,7-8,11-13,20-22,35-37

We push, push with do, do. We plan and finagle and edge our way forward on tracks we construct, in perpetual motion fueled by our pursuit of what it is we think we want, or need. And we find we are going nowhere, never arriving. We reshape God’s good provisions into false gods, and let our affections run rampant in lusty pursuit, spending our souls, never satisfied. We blur God’s glory, and distort that of man made in His image, redefining what is good into passions and trinkets with illusive sparkle. All the while we hew cracked cisterns and try to fill them with tainted water, forsaking life-giving water intended for a whole (and new) vessel. (John 4:10,13-14; 2 Corinthians 5:17)

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Why do we keep at it? The Lord instructs, and we shake off His help to flee our own way. Leaders called to teach conform to the world, choose their own platforms, and lead many astray. Fresh mercies and costly freedoms are shunned so egos can rule, pride can drive, self can be king. (Romans 12:2)

But God cannot be mocked; our sin will be found out. Jesus came to atone for our guilt and remove our shame. The Master Potter renews our minds and transforms our brokenness into noble vessels that carry His Spirit and light. Will we yield to His divine remaking, His holy filling? (Numbers 32:23; Jeremiah 18:6; Galatians 6:7; 2 Timothy 2:21)

Lord, I am Yours. Please shape me as Your cistern to pour out Your life. May others sip and see that You are good. (Psalm 34:8; Isaiah 64:8)

Look at These Stars

And God said, ‘Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night. And let them be for signs and for seasons, and for days and years, and let them be lights in the expanse of the heavens to give light upon the earth.’ And it was so. And God made the two great lights—the greater light to rule the day and the lesser light to rule the night—and the stars. And God set them in the expanse of the heavens to give light on the earth, to rule over the day and over the night, and to separate the light from the darkness. And God saw that it was good.” Genesis 1:14-18

When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers,
    the moon and the stars, which you have set in place,
what is man that you are mindful of him,
    and the son of man that you care for him?” Psalm 8:3-4

[The LORD] determines the number of the stars;
    he gives to all of them their names.” Psalm 147:4

“All things were created through [Jesus] and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.” Colossians 1:16-17

Oblong panes across the way flicker with strange light, changing every few seconds, now off, nothing to watch in the dark pre-dawn. On again, TV blinks another try. But I, I am outside under the soft wind chimes, mesmerized by other stars, the real stars of fame. The longer I gaze, the more I see– a scattered few, now dozens, twinkling bright and majestic against indigo at this early hour, from horizon to deepest space, diamonds strewn on black velvet. Each has a name, a place. Each is sustained by supernatural power. A brilliant planet is also suspended, mysteriously and incomprehensibly spinning, as am I, in its orbit around our unseen sun. What can rival this celestial display?

There are some sources in this world here below that supply news, enlightenment, or entertainment, and they can be selectively chosen. But there is the rich resource of God’s creation that elevates the mind and feeds the soul, heavenly lights that order seasons, determine times, and instruct, displaying God’s order, sovereign control, exquisite beauty, and inestimable love for mankind.

As the golden orb that rules the day ascends, paling the sky to periwinkle, the stars fade and seem to disappear, like so much of the Lord’s grandeur as we approach our day and focus on the many things we now see to do. Once exposed to this famous array and its Creator, and have been given dominion over it and crowned with glory and honor as royal priests ourselves, how are we then to enter our days, and behave? How will we display His brilliance in the way we love and serve, speak and work? (Psalm 8:5-6; 1 Peter 2:9)

It is God who determines name and fame. It is He who sustains us and our purpose in the place He assigns. He fills us with holy light and love so we shine like stars in this dark world. Am I looking and learning? (Matthew 5:14-16; Romans 5:5; Philippians 2:15)

Lord, draw me to Your heavenly quiet and still, where I behold and relish your incomparable mastery. Then shine through me.