July 31: Cosmic, Creation, Chaos
2 Samuel 23:1–24:25; Jude 1:17–25; Psalm 148:1–150:6
Psalm 148 is cosmic in scope and comforting in the message. It’s a depiction of how Yahweh brought order to chaos in the very beginning. Yahweh put the heavens, heights, angels, hosts (His armies), the sun, the moon, stars, and waters in their place—each a sign of His rule over the universe (Psa 148:1–5). Yahweh rules over the elements commonly depicted as gods in the ancient Near East; He rules over the symbols of chaos. And this cosmic depiction is comforting.
The version of the creation story we typically hear tells how things came to be, which is good. But when the story is cast like it is in Psa 148—where we see God as ruler and Lord over chaos—the message moves beyond an intellectual knowledge. If God rules over chaos and has since the beginning, He can bring order to the chaos in our own lives. For this reason, the psalmist praises Yahweh both for His creation and for His work in his own life.
The end of Psa 148 further reveals Yahweh’s intimate work with the worshiper: The psalmist declares Yahweh praise-worthy because “he has raised high a horn [the symbol of strength] for his people … for the children of Israel, a people close to him” (Psa 148:14). Yahweh’s work in creation proves that He is the most worthy partner in adverse situations. When things get tough, Yahweh will come through.
Sadly, the message of God’s provision for us has become so cliché that it’s easy for us to take for granted. Perhaps that’s why it’s the central message of so many biblical books. For example, when Jude prays for protection for believers, he calls out to Jesus—dedicating his message to Him and His work (Jude 17–25). In doing so, Jude uses the words that would have traditionally conjured up images of God’s work in either creation or war—both of which parallel psalms like Psa 148. Jude declares that Jesus deserves “glory, power, and authority” (Jude 25) because He is the “savior” of people and the universe, both of which Yahweh created (Jude 24). Jesus is the one who came to earth to win the battle against chaos.
Next time things seem to get rough, try replacing the cliché of “God is in control” with “God is Lord over chaos.” The tense here is important. God isn’t trying to be Lord—He is Lord. When God spoke, the chaos was subdued. Likewise, when God speaks truth into our lives, the chaos in our lives is subdued. Through Christ’s work, we have the opportunity for this intimate relationship with God. Through Christ’s efforts in us, we can become people who act with Him to subdue chaos.
What chaos do you need God to subdue today?
John D. Barry
Barry, John D., and Rebecca Kruyswijk. Connect the Testaments: A One-Year Daily Devotional with Bible Reading Plan. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2012. Print.
Morning, July 31 Go To Evening Reading
“I in them.”
If such be the union which subsists between our souls and the person of our Lord, how deep and broad is the channel of our communion! This is no narrow pipe through which a thread-like stream may wind its way, it is a channel of amazing depth and breadth, along whose glorious length a ponderous volume of living water may roll its floods. Behold he hath set before us an open door, let us not be slow to enter. This city of communion hath many pearly gates, every several gates are of one pearl, and each gate is thrown open to the uttermost that we may enter, assured of welcome. If there were but one small loophole through which to talk with Jesus, it would be a high privilege to thrust a word of fellowship through the narrow door; how much we are blessed in having so large an entrance! Had the Lord Jesus been far away from us, with many a stormy sea between, we should have longed to send a messenger to him to carry him our lives and bring us tidings from his Father’s house; but see his kindness, he has built his house next door to ours, nay, more, he takes lodging with us, and tabernacles in poor humble hearts, that so he may have perpetual intercourse with us. O how foolish must we be, if we do not live in habitual communion with him. When the road is long, and dangerous, and difficult, we need not wonder that friends seldom meet each other, but when they live together, shall Jonathan forget his David? A wife may when her husband is upon a journey, abide many days without holding converse with him, but she could never endure to be separated from him if she knew him to be in one of the chambers of her own house. Why, believer, dost not thou sit at his banquet of wine? Seek thy Lord, for he is near; embrace him, for he is thy Brother. Hold Him fast, for he is thine Husband; and press him to thine heart, for he is of thine own flesh.
Go To Morning Reading Evening, July 31
“And these are the singers … they were employed in that work day and night.”
—1 Chronicles 9:33
Well was it so ordered in the temple that the sacred chant never ceased: for evermore did the singers praise the Lord, whose mercy endureth for ever. As mercy did not cease to rule either by day or by night, so neither did music hush its holy ministry. My heart, there is a lesson sweetly taught to thee in the ceaseless song of Zion’s temple, thou too art a constant debtor, and see thou to it that thy gratitude, like charity, never faileth. God’s praise is constant in heaven, which is to be thy final dwelling-place, learn thou to practice the eternal hallelujah. Around the earth as the sun scatters his light, his beams awaken grateful believers to tune their morning hymn, so that by the priesthood of the saints perpetual praise is kept up at all hours, they swathe our globe in a mantle of Thanksgiving and girdle it with a golden belt of the song.
The Lord always deserves to be praised for what he is for himself, for his works of creation and providence, for his goodness towards his creatures, and especially for the transcendent act of redemption, and all the marvelous blessing flowing therefrom. It is always beneficial to praise the Lord; it cheers the day and brightens the night; it lightens toil and softens sorrow, and over earthly gladness, it sheds a sanctifying radiance which makes it less liable to blind us with its glare. Have we not something to sing about at this moment? Can we not weave a song out of our present joys, or our past deliverances, or our future hopes? Earth yields her summer fruits: the hay is housed, the golden grain invites the sickle, and the sun tarrying long to shine upon a fruitful earth, shortens the interval of shade that we may lengthen the hours of devout worship. By the love of Jesus, let us be stirred up to close the day with a psalm of sanctified gladness.
Spurgeon, C. H. Morning and Evening: Daily Readings. London: Passmore & Alabaster, 1896. Print.
Till you are entirely His
Let your endurance be a finished product, so that you may be finished and complete, with never a defect. James 1:4 (Moffatt).
Many of us are all right in the main, but there are some domains in which we are slovenly. It is not a question of sin, but of the remnants of the carnal life which are apt to make us slovenly. Slovenliness is an insult to the Holy Ghost. There should be nothing slovenly, whether it be in the way we eat and drink, or in the way we worship God.
Not only must our relationship to God be right, but the external expression of that relationship must be right. Ultimately God will let nothing escape, every detail is under His scrutiny. In numberless ways, God will bring us back to the same point over and over again. He never tires of bringing us to the one point until we learn the lesson because He is producing the finished product. It may be a question of impulse, and again and again, with the most persistent patience, God has brought us back to the one particular point; or it may be mental wool-gathering or independent individuality. God is trying to impress upon us the one thing that is not entirely right.
We have been having a wonderful time this Session over the revelation of God’s Redemption, our hearts are perfect towards Him; His wonderful work in us makes us know that in the main we are right with Him; now, says the Spirit, through St. James, “Let your endurance be a finished product.” Watch the slipshod bits—‘Oh, that will have to do for now.’ Whatever it is, God will point it out with persistence until we are entirely His.
Chambers, Oswald. My Utmost for His Highest: Selections for the Year. Grand Rapids, MI: Oswald Chambers Publications; Marshall Pickering, 1986. Print.
Let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall
1 Cor. 10:12
Angels fell in Heaven, Adam in paradise, Peter in Christ’s presence.
Hardman, Samuel G., and Dwight Lyman Moody. Thoughts for the Quiet Hour. Willow Grove, PA: Woodlawn Electronic Publishing, 1997. Print.