Saturday, May 14, 2016

How Great Thou Art! God is a Creator and Designer, but He is So Much More

I and many other Christians love the song entitled “How Great Thou Art” because it expresses to God how magnificent He truly is. It is a song that really praises the Lord for His greatness, creativeness and love. With this one song, the lyricist Carl Boberg was able to put into words what so many “born-again” Christians feel in their heart; the wonder of His creativeness, His power and the love of God. Certainly, Mr. Boberg’s song captures with the words the praise that is due to the all-encompassing and all amazing God, for the very first stanza states, “When I in awesome wonder, consider all the worlds Thy hands have made. I see the stars, I hear the rolling thunder, Thy power throughout the universe displayed.

Why should we understand how Great God is? Why should we understand His Power, Strength, and Creativeness? More importantly, though, why should we take a moment or moments from each day to tell God how wonderful He? Furthermore, why should our praises list some of God’s attributes while praising Him for what He has done?

 Well, there are many reasons why we should take time to praise God and list His attributes. First, if we take the time to express to God our understanding of His greatness, we are giving God the glory and honor, which He so richly deserves. He deserves our reverence, our esteem, and our worship. So, at least once a day we should glorify and magnify God.

Secondly, if you are sharing your faith with another person, you need to be able to answer their questions about God and why you have such faith in Him. But, if you have not thought about the power and greatness of God in terms of what He is done for mankind and you, or if you cannot express what God has said about Himself and His creation through the biblical scriptures, then you may have a hard time explaining God to other people who are searching. You will certainly have a hard time sharing your faith in Him.

Finally, if you are actively engaging in Christian mentoring, then you need to have biblical Scriptures at your fingertips, including Scriptures about God’s greatness ready to share with your mentees no mater what type of mentoring you are engaging in. In fact, you will be surprised when you are actively mentoring just how often the Holy Scriptures can be an important component in bringing spiritual understanding and comfort to others. Moreover, the biblical Scriptures can be used within all the types of mentoring like teaching, counseling, sponsoring, accountability, and fellowship mentoring, just to mention a few. Then, such songs as “How Great Thou Art” can give both the mentor and mentee a chance to reflect on the omnipotence, omniscience, and omnipresence of God as they listen to this beautiful song. So, let’s discover some of the majesty and wonder of God by taking a closer look at this song entitled “How Great Thou Art”, and then we will look at some of the Holy Scriptures that support the statements within the song.

(This blog is always a week’s worth of blogging, so please feel free to read it in segments if you don’t have the time to read it all at once.)

The Creativeness and Power of God

Thy power throughout the Universe displayed.” Have you ever really stopped and thought about or considered in wonder the creativeness and power of God? It is on display for all to see. Well, if you haven’t considered God’s power and creativeness, take a moment to look up at the stars and the night sky some clear evening, and you will see God’s own display of His creative power.

 Although science professors and Atheists will tell us that the stars and planets are all there because of some random scientific happening, we know better. For, it is God in His greatness and power Who put them into each perfect spot in the universe so that we can see not only the Gospel message in the night sky, but so that we can also use the stars for navigation as well as light. Certainly, there is no randomness to where each star was placed by God, for they were placed specifically for our benefit.

If you are looking up into the night sky it is not good enough for you to just consider the greatness and creative power of God within the sky though. For, you also need to look at the earth that God made for His creation. Obviously, we see the earth everyday of our lives, but sometimes we fail to look closer at what we are actually seeing. We need to really look at and see the beauty and the strength of everything that God has put on this earth for our use and pleasure. We also need to understand that God did not just make humans and then decide at a whim to leave us stranded in some type of limbo. No, God had a greater plan. He gave us a temporary earthly home with everything that we would need; knowing that someday we would get to be in our permanent heavenly home, if we just trusted in God and believed on Jesus Christ, His Son.

The Bible, which is God’s Word, describes some of His creative power. Moreover, the writer of the book of Job has recorded within this book in the Bible that, God, specifically and directly spoke to the man named Job after Job and his three friends attempted to discuss and determine who God was and what He did. The three friends also tried to ascribe to God certain characteristics as well as His powerfulness. Finally, though, God had heard enough, so God spoke to Job and said, “Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell me if you have understanding, who set its measurements? Since you know. Or who stretched the line on it? On what were its bases sunk? Or who laid its cornerstone, … Or who enclosed the sea with doors when, bursting forth, it went out from the womb; When I made a cloud its garment and thick darkness its swaddling band, And I placed boundaries on it and set a bolt and doors, And I said, ‘Thus far you shall come, but no farther; and here shall your proud waves stop? – (Job 38: 4-11. NASB).

Wow! God really gave Job something to think about. But, have you ever thought about the fact that the ocean is contained within an invisible barrier that keeps it from overflowing onto land? What power and creativeness it must have taken to put the ocean in such a boundary. For, no matter how much it rains or storms the ocean does not come out of its boundary. Even with high and low tides, the ocean waves only go so far and then go no further.

In addition, have you ever considered the exact axis on which the earth sits? Because of the angle of the earth and its exact rotation, every part of earth has sunshine and darkness at different times during the day and night, making our planet comfortably habitable. Furthermore, the exact distance that God has placed the earth from the sun keeps this planet from burning up or from being too cold to maintain life. In other words, God in all His creative wisdom, in His supreme and boundless knowledge, and in His ultimate and unending power has made us a habitable planet with boundaries, beauty, and unending sources of provision; He created all this for His human creation -- us.

It is worth reading all of the book of Job and especially chapters 38 & 39, because it is in those chapters that God tells us about some of the many things that He has done within His powerfulness and creativeness that no other entity could accomplish. In the above verse in the book of Job, we also get just a glimpse of some of the mighty and wondrous things that God can do. But, above all, within those verses and those chapters God reminded Job that He is LORD and GOD of everything, and that we, as mankind, can in no way do what He does.

Within those verses, too, God also emphasizes that above all He is our Creator. Another way of saying the same thing, but perhaps a little more precisely, is to use the analogy found in the Bible, to describe our relationship to God. This analogy is that God is the potter and we are the clay. Each of us is a vessel created by God to hold our souls and to praise and honor Him. But, we also know that in creating and molding us in His image that we are only a faded picture or small shadow of who God is. So, in no way can we be anything but the created. We are not individual gods, and we do not have any power except what God gives us to sustain our existence here on this earth. Therefore, we cannot possibly understand God’s power, His strength, His abilities and His ways without reading His Word and without developing a personal relationship with Him and His Son, Jesus Christ.

The Beauty of God’s Creation

If we look around at this earth, we will, though, see the result of God’s power and creativeness. We can see the beauty of God’s Creation everywhere we look. Here again, it is when we listen to the song “How Great Thou Art”, that the words and the music will bring to mind the greatness of God. Then we can join in the singing and through song and uplifted voices offer praise for just some of the beauty that God created with this earth. For, when we can see the beauty of God’s world within our mind’s eye, we can sing with true worship and awe the following words: “When through the woods, and forest glades I wander, and hear the birds sing sweetly in the trees. When I look down, from lofty mountain grandeur and see the brook, and feel the gentle breeze." (Then The Refrain) "Then sings my soul, My Savior God to Thee, how great Thou are, How great Thou art.”

So, from even the smallest cell and bacteria that God created for our benefit, to the smallest insect, fish, or animal, God thought of everything that we or this earth would need. It is through His power and creativeness that God gave us just what we needed to not only survive but to live in comfort and beauty. Truly, we can say: “How Great Thou Art!”

A Disturbance in the Beauty of Paradise

Unfortunately, after Adam and Eve’s fall from the Garden of Eden, Satan was permitted to do what he now does daily to try and subvert God’s beautiful creation and in the process to try to usurp God’s power. Obviously, God is greater and more powerful than Satan, so Satan can never usurp God’s power or His greatness. But, Satan still tries in negative and hurtful ways to try to destroy anything good that he thinks he can, but most of all he tries to destroy the souls of men. So, whether Satan is using evil or hurtful events, evil temptations that play into the fleshly desires of people, or just using implanted negative and hurtful thoughts in people’s minds, Satan wants to hurt God. He wants to hurt God by causing humans, God’s creation, as much misery and hurt as he can while we are here on earth. However, Satan’s ultimate goal is put as many people as he can into eternal hell, thus capturing the souls of people.

Simply stated, Satan does not want individuals to come to know Christ, God’s Son, as their Savior, because that would mean that those individuals would spend eternity with God. Therefore, Satan has used mankind’s fall from the Garden of Eden to further corrupt humans through the temptations he has placed within this fallen world. Sadly, the once beauty of righteousness and love that was in the Garden of Eden has now been corrupted by the unrighteous behaviors of humans who have succumbed to all kinds of temptations along with succumbing to the evil that Satan promotes as needed self-gratification.

We should not be deceived, though, by our so-called needs, for the Apostle Paul says, “do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the Kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the Kingdom of God.” But no one has to fall for those temptations with the help of Christ, for then The Apostle Paul goes on tell us that: “Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.– (I Corinthians 9-11. NASB). In other words, anyone can be forgiven and can change, if they so desire to do so through the “Saving” Grace of Jesus Christ, God’s Son. Everyone can call upon the name of the most Powerful and Great Son of God, Jesus Christ, and then with true repentance be cleansed of all unrighteousness.

Sadly, the misery and hurt for humans often comes from our own self-inflicted wounds when we allow ourselves to succumb to Satan’s evil and sinful temptations, which are provoked by Satan and his minions in order to get us to live against God’s Truth: against the commands and laws of God. What glee and satisfaction Satan must have when someone refuses to accept Christ as their Savior, or when a Christian succumbs to one of Satan’s temptations. For, not only does this hurt God’s heart, but it hurts the individual as well.

God’s Sovereignty and Power cannot be Usurped!

Obviously, Satan thinks that he can keep God’s Creation in some kind of soul prison by getting each person to sin, or by getting the person to forget about God. One of the ways that Satan tries to do both is by providing humans with false religions or false gods and idols to believe in instead of believing in God and His Son, Jesus Christ. Satan wants to usurp God’s Sovereignty and Power by getting people to turn away from God. Although, Satan cannot usurp God’s Sovereignty and Power, he will continue to use humans as pawns in his evil game, as he promotes false religions and false gods and idols that keep people from finding and worshiping the One and Only True God.

In the Bible the Psalmist compared The One True an Only God to the false gods and idols that some men worship. First, the Psalmist said of God, “… But to Your name give glory because of Your lovingkindness, because of Your Truth. … Our God is in the heavens; He does whatever He pleases. O Israel, Trust in the Lord. He is their help and their shield. The Lord has been mindful of us; He will bless us; … He will bless those who fear the Lord, the small together with the great. May you be blessed of the Lord, Maker of Heaven and Earth. But as for us we will bless the Lord from this time forth and forever. Praise the Lord! – (Psalm 115: 1, 3, 9, 12-15, 18. NASB).

Then in contrast the Psalmist described the false idols and false gods that some people worship, stating that: “Their idols are silver and gold, the work of man’s hands. They have mouths, but they cannot speak; They have eyes, but they cannot see; They have ears, but they cannot hear; They have noses, but they cannot smell; They have hands, but they cannot feel; They have feet, but they cannot walk; They cannot make a sound with their throat. Those who make them will become like them, everyone who trusts in them.” – (Psalm 115: 4-8. NASB).

Obviously, only God is Sovereign, Mighty and Strong. Only God can speak, talk to us, move mountains, love deeper than we can fathom, care about each person more than we can comprehend, show more compassion than the entire world, be faithful through thick and thin, never break a promise, create all the worlds and us, show the ultimate justice, be the purest of righteous, and be all Knowledge, Truth and Wisdom, along with the many other attributes that are more amazing than we can imagine. The idols, however, have no power or greatness whatsoever. They are dead. Furthermore, they cannot encompass any of the above traits of God and are only pieces of metal or wood formed into the shape that a man imagines. Only God is all powerful, sovereign, mighty and strong.

Although, there are still some formed and shaped idols as well as false gods that are worshiped today, Satan doesn’t have to promote such idols when it is so much easier to get humans to worship ideas, money and self-gratification. So, whether it is the philosophical ideas of Atheism, Communism, Socialism, Hinduism, Islam, etc. that become a person’s false god, or it is simply the idol worship of money and things, including the worship of self, Satan has found a way to deceive humans and get them to worship a false god without too much effort. He just implants an idea and then the person through philosophical discussions or brainwashed upbringing accepts and then runs with their belief in these false gods. But, if Satan can’t get humans to worship and believe in a false idol god, per se, or a false philosophical or religious god, then he simply tries to get humans to worship the intangible idols of greed, pride, jealousy, immorality, etc. Either way, all of the above types of false gods fall into the category of false gods and idols, which if worshiped, will pull people and their souls away from The True One and Only God.

God Loves Us and Will not Abandon His Creation

God has no intention of abandoning the people He created, and God has no intention of letting Satan win. Instead, God has had plans even from the beginning and certainly long before “the fall” to provide mankind with a way to overcome Satan’s plans for our death and destruction. Here again, the song, “How Great Thou Art” easily explains the gift that God has given to everyone who would believe on His Risen Son, Jesus Christ. So, let’s read some more of the words Mr. Boberg wrote in this stanza and refrain: “And when I think, that God, His Son not sparing; Sent Him to die, I scarce can take it in; That on the Cross, my burden gladly bearing, He bled and died to take away my sin.” The Refrain: “Then sings my soul, My Savior God to Thee, How Great Thou Art, How Great Thou Art.

So, with those words and music we praise God for His greatness and love for having sent His Only Son to earth to be the ultimate sacrifice needed for the sins of mankind. For, in His greatness and omnipotence God knew that Satan would someday be defeated through Christ’s resurrection and because of the many people who would come to Him through Jesus Christ, His Son. So, God sent Jesus Christ, His Only Son, to earth to die in order to conquer eternal death and to limit the power of Satan’s soul prison. “And when I think, that God, His Son not sparing; Sent Him to die, I scarce can take it in.” That is the true love for His Creation!

The Greatness of God’s Love

God loves every one of us, so He gives each of us the opportunity to repent and to be totally cleansed from our sins. But, even in His love, God will not force any person to accept Christ as their personal Savior. Yes, God rejoices when an individual chooses to repent and asks Christ into their heart. Then God looks forward to that person spending eternity with Him. God also, though, because of His love, is sad when a person’s cold heart refuses to acknowledge Christ as Lord.

Oh, what joy we have, though, when we come to Christ with repentant hearts and in knowing that Christ will forgive us no matter what we have done. Indeed, there isn’t anything that Christ won’t forgive, if the person is truly repentant and turns their life around to live for Him. Again, one of the Psalms in the Bible expresses the joy and happiness that we have when we give our lives to the Lord:

Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; For His loving kindness is everlasting. From my distress I called upon the Lord; The Lord answered me and set me in a large place. The Lord is for me; I will not fear; What can man do to me? The Lord is my strength and song, And He has become my salvation. The sound of joyful shouting and salvation is in the tents of the righteous. Open me to the gates of righteousness; I shall enter through them, I shall give thanks to the Lord. I shall give thanks to You, for You have answered me. and You have become my salvation.”  -- (Psalm 118: 1, 5, 6, 14, 15, 19, 21. NASB). Yes, indeed, every person who asks Christ to come into their heart, will give thanks to Christ for loving them and for “Saving” them from eternal damnation.

God has Created an Even Better Home than Earth for Us

All Christians know that Christ will return one day, for God has planted eternity in each of our hearts. With our Salvation, we know that we have a home in the eternity of Heaven, because Christ conquered eternal death when He arose from the grave. So, we can praise God greatly when we sing the last stanza of “How Great Thou Art.” It is here in singing this stanza that we can lift our voices to tell God how glorious and great He is and how humble we are for His even thinking of us. For, in this song we can sing, “When Christ shall come, with shout and acclamation, and take me home, what joy shall fill my heart. Then I shall bow, in humble adoration, and then proclaim, ‘My God How Great Thou Art.’” The Refrain: “Then sings my soul, My Savior God to Thee, How Great Thou Art, How Great Thou Art.

Christ told us before He went back home to heaven that He was going there to prepare a home for us. For Jesus said; “In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; If it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am there you may be also.”  -- (John 14: 2, 3. NASB). We know from this statement that Jesus is preparing a home for all who believe on Him. Indeed, He will return one day to take us home with Him.

In the book of Revelation, we find that Jesus appeared to His Apostle, John, and that Jesus then told John to write about what He saw in this vision of Him. Throughout the book of Revelation, John wrote what Christ told John about the end times and what would happen before Christ returned as well as what would happen when He returned to take His Saints home to eternity. But, one of the last things that Jesus told John to write was: “‘Behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to render to every man according to what he has done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.’ Blessed are those who wash their robes so that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter by the gates into the city.” – (Revelation 22: 12, 13, 14. NASB).

It is within those verses that the Apostle John reminds us that not only will Jesus return, but that He will return when we least expect Him to return. However, our anticipation of Christ’s return should mean that we continue to live productively and continue to allow our Christ-light to shine out upon the world. Moreover, we should be happy and anticipate the great rewards that Jesus has prepared for those who live daily for Him. For, one day we will see Christ face-to-face, and then He will take those, who have given their lives in repentance and love, to their eternal home that Christ has prepared for them with the Triune God. We will get to live with Christ in our new homes in Heaven.

Notice, too, that Christ said He was the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. We know that Christ has always existed and will always exist as part of the Triune God. He is God, and as such He is great and powerful. Moreover, it is only through the blood that Christ shed on the cross for our eternal lives that we are able to spend eternity with God.

Someday, too, we will get to eat of the Tree of Life like Adam and Eve were once able to do. This is the same tree that Adam and Eve were no longer able to eat of once they ate of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. For to then eat of the Tree of Life would have meant that they would have to live forever in their sin and unrighteousness; forever separated from God. But, because God removed them from the Garden of Eden and the Tree of Life, they and their descendants would be able to repent of their sins while believing on Christ as the risen Son of God. This meant that for everyone who did so, that they would be able to someday spend eternity with God.

The Alpha and the Omega, i.e. God, is not only eternal, but He is powerful, strong and great. He is the Only God! Christ, who is part of the spiritual essence of God, as is the Holy Spirit, revealed to us through His Apostle John in the book of Revelation many of the things that would occur during the end times or last days of this earth. But, it is also in Christ’s final words, that we again get a glimpse of all three of the spiritual essences that make up the Triune God; God who loves each of for the individuals that we are.

The Power and Strength of God.

God as our Father and Creator has many qualities that show His greatness, strength and power as well as His love and His faithfulness. In reading God’s Word, i.e. the Bible, we learn about God’s greatness and strength as recorded within the biblical Scriptures. From the destruction of the world with water, to the plagues in Egypt and the crossing of the Red Sea over dry ground on the sea bed, it is only God, the Great I AM, who had the power and strength to accomplish those things.

Psalm 78 describes and records God’s strength and power as seen through some of the events surrounding the Israelites rescue from Egypt and then their subsequent stay in the wilderness. The Psalmist said:
He (God) divided the sea and caused them (the Israelites) to pass through, and He made the waters stand up like a heap. … He (God) split the rocks in the wilderness and gave them (the people) abundant drink like the ocean depths. He brought forth streams also from the rock and caused waters to run down like rivers. … He (God) rained down manna upon them to eat, and He gave them food from heaven. Man did eat the bread of angels.

He (God) sent them (the Israelites and the multitudes who were rescued from Egypt) food in abundance. He caused the east wind to blow in the heavens and by His Power He directed the south wind. When He rained meat upon them like the dust, even winged fowl like the sand of the seas, Then He let them (the winged fowl) fall in the midst of their (the Israelites’) camp, Round about their dwellings. So they ate and were well filled. In spite of this they still sinned and did not believe in His wonderful works. (Does this sound like us today?).

Again and Again they (the Israelites) tempted God and pained the Holy One of Israel. They did not remember His power, The day when He redeemed them from the adversary, When He performed His signs in Egypt and His marvel in the field of Zoan, And turned rivers to blood, and their streams, they could not drink. He sent among them (the Egyptians) swarms of flies which devoured them (the Egyptians), and frogs which destroyed them (the Egyptians). He also gave their crops to the grasshopper and the product of their labor to the locust. He destroyed their vines with hailstones and their sycamore trees with frost. He gave over their cattle also to the hailstones and their herds to bolts of lightning.

He sent upon them (the Egyptians) His burning anger, … A band of destroying angels, He leveled a path for His anger; He did not spare their (the Egyptians’) soul from death, but gave over their life to the plague, and smote all the firstborn in Egypt…. But He led forth His own people (the Israelites) like sheep and guided them in the wilderness like a flock; He led them safely so that they did not fear. But the sea engulfed their enemies-- (Psalm 78: 13, 15, 16, 24-29, 32, 41-53. NASB).

There is no other God. God is the only holy, righteous, creative, powerful, sovereign and knowledgeable entity that could do all the things described in the above Psalm. So, in reading that Psalm and in looking around at this magnificent earth I can truly sing the words of “How Great Thou Art”: “When I in awesome wonder, consider all the worlds Thy hands have made. I see the stars, I hear the rolling thunder, Thy power throughout the universe displayed.” The Refrain: “Then sings my soul, my Savior God to Thee. How Great Thou Art, How Great Thou Art!”

Knowing God’s Greatness and the Greatness of His Son, Jesus Christ

Do you know how Great God is? Do you know the Son of God as your personal Savior?  I pray that you do, but if you don’t please take a moment and pray for insight, understanding and discernment. You can also search the Holy Scriptures that record God’s greatness, for the Bible is full of the power of God. Once you discover for yourself Who God is and Who Jesus Christ, God’s Son is, you can then in belief pray for Christ to forgive your sins and come into your heart. For, Christ came into the world to save us all from eternal death and damnation. So, if after repenting of your sins, “you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation.” – (Romans 10: 9, 10. NASB). If you do that, then be sure to go and tell someone that you have asked Christ to come into your heart and that Christ is now Lord of your life. You are Saved!

For those who are already Saved, please step up and share your faith with others. You can do it! You can share the Gospel with other people. You can also mentor others for the Lord. You can become an Active Relational Christian Mentor!

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