Praise God, From Whom All Blessings Flow
Let’s take a deep breath and open our hearts, mind, soul and spirit to receive the message that God has for us this morning. Let’s focus our thoughts on the mystic presence of the Holy One. Let us pray: Lord God, Lord Jesus Christ and Holy Spirit, please let the words of my mouth, and the meditations of all of our hearts, be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord our Strength, our Rock and our Redeemer. In Jesus’ name, amen.
At about 40 light years from earth, the exo-planet TRAPPIST-1 may be in the prime habitable zone for potential life. Scientists are looking for earth-like planets relatively close to earth, that could potentially have life on them. And even though these planets are relatively close to us in terms of the size of the universe, with our current technology, it would take us only about 720,000 years to travel that 40 light years to get there!
Well, it is said that space is the final frontier, but I think the final frontier lies in the realm of our inner spirit and spiritual self. So today, I would like to bring to you a message of love, blessing, and joyful thanksgiving for the wonderful earth that God has put us on and in. And Psalm 65 is just that; a Psalm of thanksgiving and joyful praise. We read; “Praise awaits you, O God, in Zion; to you our vows will be fulfilled. O you who hear prayer, to you all men will come. When we were overwhelmed by sins, you forgave our transgressions. Blessed are those you choose and bring near to live in your courts! We are filled with the good things of your house, and of your holy temple.” Well, God is the Lord of heaven and earth and of our lives as well; God is ready to hear our prayers, forgive our sins, invite us into His presence, and bless us with the good things that God’s abundance and character provides for us. God has searched us and knows us. God is always with us and has said, “I will never leave you, nor will I ever forsake you.” “Better is a day in God’s courts than a thousand elsewhere.” (and) “How lovely is your dwelling place, O Lord God Almighty! My soul yearns, even faints, for the courts of the Lord; my heart and my flesh cry out for the Living God.” Therefore, the praise and worship that we bring to God today, are the right and proper offerings to God, and by God’s grace and mercy, we are eventually even invited into God’s Holy presence through the risen Jesus Christ.
In verses 5 through 8 we read, “You answer us with awesome deeds of righteousness, O God our Savior, (you are) the hope of all the ends of the earth and of the farthest seas, who formed the mountains by your power, having armed yourself with strength, who stilled the roaring of the seas, the roaring of their waves, and the turmoil of the nations. Those living far away fear your wonders; where morning dawns and evening fades you call forth songs of joy.” The awesome deeds of God as Savior have revealed to us that
God is not only the creator of the world and the multi-verse that we live in but is also the hope of the whole world, and in fact, all worlds; because without God’s grace, mercy, love and forgiveness, there is no hope. But with God’s loving presence in our lives, through the living risen presence of Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit, there is not only hope, but there is the radical assurance of life eternal for each of us who believe and follow! Psalm 65 goes on to celebrate and honor God’s strength and power as cosmic ruler and creator of all things. God is Lord of all the earth. In Psalm 24, we read, “The earth is the LORD's, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it; for He founded it upon the seas and established it on the waters.” And continuing in Psalm 65, we read in verses 9 through 13 that, “You care for the land and water it; you enrich it abundantly. The streams of God are filled with water to provide the people with grain, for so you have ordained it. You drench its furrows and level its ridges; you soften it with showers and bless its crops. You crown the year with your bounty, and your carts overflow with abundance. The grasslands of the desert overflow; the hills are clothed with gladness. The meadows are covered with flocks and the valleys are mantled with grain; they shout for joy and sing.” God anoints our heads with the oil of the Holy Spirit, and our cup overflows! Like David the Psalmist, who wrote Psalm 65, we praise God as the caretaker of the cosmos, the earth, and us as well. God is present in all aspects of His creation, and we honor and praise God for the care of all the earth. Out of God’s love for His creation flows the elements that are necessary to rebirth the fertility and productivity of our flocks, our crops and pastures, our forests and wilderness, the living things on the earth and in the seas, and even ourselves, in the totality of creation. The beauty of it all is that our God is an awesome God, and up to the task. He speaks to us in love.
God is not only the God of all the earth, but He is also God of the entire multi-universe. We read in another Psalm, Psalm 19, more about the wonders of creation: “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge. There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard. Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world. In the heavens God has pitched a tent for the sun, which is like a bridegroom coming forth from his pavilion, like a champion rejoicing to run his course. It rises at one end of the heavens and makes its circuit to the other; nothing is hidden from its heat.” The Psalm goes on to say that, “The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul. The statutes of the LORD are trustworthy, making wise the simple. The precepts of the LORD are right, giving joy to the heart. The commands of the LORD are radiant, giving light to the eyes. The fear of the LORD is pure, enduring forever. The ordinances of the LORD are sure and altogether righteous. They are more precious than gold, than much pure gold; they are sweeter than honey, than honey from the honeycomb. By them is your servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward.” God is our perfection! God is our joy! And God is our provider, our nurturer, and our savior! God is so great and awesome that He can even write a new life on your heart. That’s what He’s doing with Elaine and I! He’s writing a new life on our hearts. Your prayers can also open the doors for God to write a new life on your heart, too!
Can we really understand the depth of these verses? Can we understand the love behind these verses? As mere human beings, we have, at times, been overwhelmed by sin. Sin is all around us. Sin is always on our mind. Like Jonah, we may be constantly running away from God. We continue to constantly do whatever we want, instead of listening to the still, small voice of God calling us. We constantly ignore the One God who gave us everything and would like to write a new life on our heart! So, what has God done? God took us in, and saved us from whatever it was that we were drowning in. God could have given us what we deserve. God could have punished us forever. He could have blotted us out of existence, like He almost did with Noah, but instead, God loved us. God cared for us. God didn't want it to end that way. He found a way to cover our transgressions forever. God, looking down on us with loving-kindness, decided to do something about it. He sent His Son Jesus Christ to die for us. Jesus was sacrificed so that we did not have to face what was coming to us.
How much would you be willing to love someone who didn't love you back? Would you even lift a finger for them? Do you do only what you have to, to get by? The next time you see someone who you don't get along with, an enemy, maybe a person who hurt you, or whoever; it could even be your spouse; follow the example that God gives, step up and show them the true love that you know you are capable of. Like Elaine and I did: think back to when you were a kid and ask yourself: What was important to us as kids? What did we want to do with our lives? Then, think where you are right now and direct, or re-direct, your life toward those goals. Open your heart to the mystical and radical presence of the Holy One and express God’s love to whoever or whatever person you’re with. Even if you have to start off small, take time to show love to someone, even if it’s only in a small way. Then work up to showing the kind of love to the person and the kind of blessings that God has shown to you. It is only when you show love with your actions, that you can fully understand the depth of these verses, and the depth of God’s love for you. So, let us quiet our minds, and open our hearts, soul, mind and spirit to the praise of the one and only God who
deserves our praise and worship. As we celebrate this day, let us give thanks to God, who is ready to write a new life on your heart.
Let us rightfully give thanks for the good earth and the good things that come from the earth that nurture and feed us. Let’s give thanks to God and honor and praise the One whose gift of a fertile earth transcends all our science, our technologies and economies. Let’s give thanks to the One upon whom all our science and technologies and economies depend on, completely! This is praise and thanksgiving as it should be! We love you, Lord!! So, Praise God, From Whom All Blessings Flow!!!
Let us pray: Lord God, today we thank you for the gift of your Son, Jesus Christ. Lord, thank you for your love and your saving grace. We love you, Lord, and pray for your complete presence in our lives. Lord, today, right now, we pray, in Jesus’ name, that you take away our hearts of stone and give us a new heart of flesh. Lord, write a new life on each of our hearts! We pray this in your Holy Name, Amen.
Jan Ekstedt, MDiv