The Lord made the heavens

For all the gods of the peoples are worthless idols, but the LORD made the heavens. Psalm 96:5 (ESV)

I’ve been thinking about this verse for a couple of days. There are many places in Scripture where we are reminded of the utter helplessness and impotence of man-made objects of worship. These are “idols” that become “gods” to us. These are objects that we fashion ourselves, as in Psalm 115:4-8:

Their idols are silver and gold,

the work of human hands.

They have mouths, but do not speak;

eyes, but do not see.

They have ears, but do not hear;

noses, but do not smell.

They have hands, but do not feel;

feet, but do not walk;

and they do not make a sound in their throat.

Those who make them become like them;

so do all who trust in them.

Impotent, powerless, insensitive, empty. Made of precious materials, but of no value whatsoever.

But why in the immediate context, does the psalmist compare the “gods” to the Lord as the maker of “the heavens”?

This is what I’ve been thinking about. The Lord of my life “made the heavens.” This echoes Genesis 1:1, In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. Out of nothing, God created everything. What has an idol created? It had to be fashioned, either as a physical object, as with the “worthless idols” referred to in the psalm, or as an object in my mind, such as my sense of self-worth, pride, desire, passion, or self-confidence.

“But the LORD made the heavens.”

Oh, foolish heart! Why do I continue to trust in myself? Why do I continue to put myself as the greatest idol of my life? All worthless idols are just means to an end: self-exaltation. I don’t even want the idols or want to worship the idols for what they are. I want what they can give me, make me–how they can satisfy my never-ending need for what I want: glory.

And I resist God’s glorious call to me because I know that God will not serve me. I must come to him and worship him for who he is, and that alone. Though the phrase, “who he is”, is full of everything that was, is and is to come. He will not be confined by my limited knowledge of him.

I want to be known! “But the LORD made the heavens.”

I want fame! “But the LORD made the heavens.”

I want to be esteemed and revered! “But the LORD made the heavens.”

I want to be loved on my terms! “But the LORD made the heavens.”

I want my desires to be fulfilled! “But the LORD made the heavens.”

“But the LORD made the heavens.”

“But the LORD made the heavens.”

“But the LORD made the heavens.”

I am crushed into surrendered sweetness by the weight of his glory.

In the morning you hear my voice…

O Lord, in the morning you hear my voice; in the morning I prepare a sacrifice for you and watch. Psalm 5:3 (ESV)

O Lord – the first person I speak to in the morning is you, Lord. For only you hear me in the truest, deepest sense of hearing.

in the morning – at the beginning of the day, I need you. I need you to hear me. I need you to answer me.

you hear my voice – you do hear me, Lord. You hear me to the depths of my soul, whether in joy or despair, faith or hopelessness

in the morning I prepare a sacrifice for you – what is my sacrifice for you today, Father? I sacrifice my self-assurance, my self-confidence, my confidence in my own wisdom and strength.

and watch – I watch for your answer! You answer prayer all the time, faithful God, and I miss it too often because I’m looking for my answer, the answer I want. Help me to look for your answer.

“I shall again praise him…”

Why are you cast down, o my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God. Psalm 42:11

The longing to praise God doesn’t go away when I am in the depths of despair. I wrestle within my soul because I know the truth: God is my salvation and my hope, my only surety, the only one in whom I can fully trust. I know these things!

So, why I am struggling so? Why am I so sad?

Oh, God, is my wrestling with these thoughts worship? I am trying to work these things out before you. Am I giving you praise in the midst of it? And by that I mean am I looking to you alone for the answers? Praise is recognizing God, recognizing you, Father, for all you are. All of your majesty, all of your holiness, all of your love, all of your grace, all of your justice, all of your faithfulness, all of your steadfastness, all of your power.

As I cry out to you from the depths of my despair I am seeing through the tears, through the dimness of the dark day, that you are the only one I can turn to. You are the only one I can cry out to. So, I am praising you. I am worshiping you, even in the pain. I praise you in the dark as I seek your light.

There is a dawn coming. And in the light of that dawn, I will see you anew and afresh. I shall again praise you in the light of day.

“All that I have commanded you…”

Matthew 28:19–20 (ESV): Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

The process of making disciples is ongoing. We continue to do it until the end of the age. I’m confident that Jesus is with me, with us, in this process because he promised that he would be. “…behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

So we know that he is with us, our “hope of glory” (Col. 1:27), helping us in the process of making disciples. We can have great joy even in the midst of difficulty because of his abiding presence with us. There is no doubt that he is with me through the presence of his spirit, our great power of the Holy Spirit. But I would say also that he is with us in the very things that he has commanded us to do. That is, he is with us in “all that I have commanded you.” He is with us in the Holy Scriptures.

All that Jesus trusted and quoted and promised to fulfill of the Law and the Prophets, as well as what the Holy Spirit inspired in the New Testament writers, all of that is imbued with his very living presence. As we abide in the Scriptures, we abide in him. As we use the Scriptures as the foundation of our “teaching (disciples) to observe”, he is with us.

And his power in teaching is so much greater than our power. His wisdom so much greater than our wisdom.

If you grow weary in your efforts in making disciples, return again to trusting and believing in the power of Christ, working through his testimonies, to do “far more abundantly than all that we ask or think.” (Eph. 3:20)

Humbling yourself

Matthew 23:12 (ESV): Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.

I can somewhat understand how I can exalt myself, both inwardly and publicly, in various ways. I have exalted myself on more than one occasion. I’ve then just as often been humbled (or humiliated) in the aftermath. It’s interesting how humiliation is most often a public thing. I rarely find myself humiliated in my private thoughts…

So where does the ability to humble myself come from? How can I, being imperfect and human and stupid and insensitive, make myself humble? Is that even possible?

I love Tim Keller’s quote: “Humility, true humility, is not thinking less of yourself. It’s thinking of yourself less.”

And there may be the necessary act in humbling myself. I can’t actively, in a sense, humble myself. But I do take on the attitude and action of Christ-like humility simply by thinking of myself (about myself) less.

So today, Lord, help me to think of others more: how I can serve? how can I pray? how can I actively make the lives of others better?

Roots of worship


Gratitude is rooted in remembering. Joy, peace and worship are the fruit growing out of the healthy vine of thankfulness.

Psalm 9:1-2

I will give thanks to the LORD with my whole heart;

I will recount all of your wonderful deeds.

I will be glad and exult in you;

I will sing praise to your name, O Most High.

Heaven is like…


I woke up early this morning. I don’t know why, really. Maybe it was so I could see this sunrise.

I thought, “Heaven is like this…” 

But then I realized there will be a day with no more analogies of “Heaven is like…” 

There will just be an eternal day of Heaven is.