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Tuesday, July 17, 2018

God's Symphony of Praise

   "Shout with joy to the LORD, all the earth! Worship the LORD with gladness. Come before him, singing with joy. Acknowledge that the LORD is God!  He made us, and we are his. We are his people, the sheep of his pasture. Enter his gates with thanksgiving; go into his courts with praise. Give thanks to him and praise his name.  For the LORD is good. His unfailing love continues forever, and his faithfulness continues to each generation." Psalm 100:1-5.
       The refrain, Count your many blessings, name them one by one, echoes in my mind today as I consider Anna Daisy Siemens’ poem, God’s Symphony of Praise. Living with our Lord God in our hearts, we receive many presents, including spiritual gifts to help others know joy.  
Do you have the gift of helping others? “Do it with all the strength and energy that God supplies. Then everything you do will bring glory to God through Jesus Christ.” (from I Peter 4:11).
"When Jesus was asked about the greatest commandment, what was His answer?  Jesus replied, “‘You must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’  This is the first and greatest commandment.  A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’" Matthew 22:37-39.
Everyone wants to be loved. Jesus spoke these words, knowing He soon would be crucified.  He would become a sin offering for our sins, because of His great love for those alive then and those who came after, like you and me. What does it take for us to desire to praise God? It takes humility and understanding to know Who our God is before we to follow His Way.
I continue to treasure a memory of standing ankle-deep in the Pacific Ocean. Astonished at the pull and power of the undercurrent, I realized then the might and majesty of our God. I humbly worshipped Him at that moment. In those few moments, I knew how great our Lord is.
Reading Job 36 and 37, the awesomeness of our Lord God becomes clearer. "Look, God is greater than we can understand. His years cannot be counted." Job 36:26. Men have determined scientifically what the makeup of air is. In Genesis 2:7, we learn how man came to life "Then the LORD God formed the man from the dust of the ground. He breathed the breath of life into the man’s nostrils, and the man became a living person." 
Thankfulness and not complaints become our ‘love language’ in response to our God for giving us life and all the ways He pours His favor upon us. “Sing your praise to the LORD with the harp, with the harp and melodious song, with trumpets and the sound of the ram’s horn. Make a joyful symphony before the LORD, the King!”  Psalm 98:5-6
We look at nature around us in the Spring. We see each tiny flower, a new leaf, and butterfly and they begin to create a need in us to be thankful to them. Each one praises Him in its way, creating a symphony of celebration. Leaves sing a melody all their own, as the breeze flows through each branch of the tree. The birds answer with the song the Creator has written for them. They bid us join in their songs of praise.
         Our Lord blesses us, and this favor becomes the cause for our praise.  Being blessed is not a part of our circumstances, but the divine favor of God. Being blessed comes from two things – depending on God for the sustenance of our spirit.  The second is knowing with all our heart that Jesus loves us beyond all comprehension.  We often throw the word, love, around with abandon. Only Jesus died to save us because He loves us.  This knowledge gives us the reality of hope and joy for God’s coming kingdom of eternity.
Everyone loves to receive a gift. A gift is not appreciated until it is unwrapped and treasured.  The love of Jesus is a gift. If we refuse to accept it or unwrap it, the joy of Jesus is unrealized. Seeing others through the eyes of Jesus becomes a gift through the love of Jesus. Observing world events through the eyes of Jesus, and we are not fearful.  We know God has a plan.
         In the poem, Anna Daisy Siemens gives us her experiences of thankfulness and faith. Nothing was too small or too weighty to praise God.  As she sewed, gardened, cooked a meal, baked bread, taught piano and the Bible, she was ready to sing, Praise God from Whom all Blessings Flow, Praise Him, all creatures here below; Praise Him above, ye heav’nly host; Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.    
This chorus is the last song in our old brown hymnal, but first on her lips on many occasions.    

God’s Symphony of Praise
God orchestrates His morning song
From holy hushed deep forest shrines,
Where redbirds vault against the sky
And whistling winds pluck ancient pines
All nature bids us glorify
And we must sing along.

God orchestrates His high-noon choir
When clouds call thunder drums to roll
Across wide plain and ocean beach.
Before wild lightning takes controls
With crashing sound as if to teach.
Our hearts to echo heaven’s fire.

God orchestrates His freeways
From thankful hearts of every race
Who worship God’s own Son of love
And through redemption touch His grace;
One day we’ll join the host above
To sing eternal songs of praise.

                           Anna Daisy Siemens


Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Master of All Elements

      The first verse of Anna Daisy’s poem pictures to me, a small girl in the middle of Kansas wheat country, experiencing a menacing thunderstorm.
     In awe I see. Your magic fire
     Rip jagged streaks through 
           churning clouds
     That split the sky and shatter trees
     Like vivid* exclamation points.
    I continue to read this poem remembering the words in Genesis 1. “The earth was formless and empty, and darkness covered the deep waters. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the surface of the seas.”  Genesis 1:2-3.  Then follows – “God said” and “it was good!”  He created all the laws to make the rains come, and the clouds form, the winds blow, fires come forth.  He created all the elements on earth, including fire, lightning, thunder, the wind, plus chemicals and precious stones. He made the sun, the moon, and the stars as lights.
    The verses in Job 28:25-28 astound me. “He decided how hard the winds should blow and how much rain should fall.  He made the laws for the rain and laid out a path for the lightning. Then he saw wisdom and evaluated it. He set it in place and examined it thoroughly. And this is what he says to all humanity: ‘The fear of the Lord is true wisdom; to forsake evil is real understanding.’
    Colossians 1:15-16 – “Christ is the visible image of the invisible God. He existed before anything was created and is supreme over all creation, for through him God created everything in the heavenly realms and on earth. He made the things we can see and the things we can’t see—such as thrones, kingdoms, rulers, and authorities in the unseen world. Everything was created through Him and for Him.”
    When we walk in this world, Jesus Christ is our companion.  He makes everything we see and cannot see. We breathe the air He breathes into our lungs. He is the Master of our world.
     Even as we cannot see wind, but we know the results. We cannot hold love in our hands, except through the beauty around us, in a smile, in a gentle rain, and in acts of selfless kindness for others.  
      Have you ever stood before a perfectly shaped shade tree, a cascading waterfall, or a newborn baby, and be unable to catch your breath?  The lyrics, “I stand in awe of You - Christ the Way, the Life and the Truth,” come to my mind. (Phil Wickham).
      We endure extremes of drought, heat, record-breaking cold, To Whom do we turn? The Ultimate Authority in all matters on earth and the Heavens.  He controls all things. We learn to listen for His Voice and Trust Him in all things and begin to live freely in His will.  His Way becomes our greatest desire with every breath we take.
    The elements speak to us when we walk through life with Jesus.  The burning bush spoke to Moses, Jesus quieted the stormy wind on the sea, the lions would not attack Daniel, Abraham’s arm was arrested in midair as he prepared to sacrifice his son, Noah built an ark saving his family from the flood as God commanded.  Even today the ‘rainbow promise’ appears in the sky.
    God raised Jesus from the dead and He was taken away by the clouds into Heaven. It is when we bow down before our Lord God, and worship Him, and we are wrapped in God’s rainbow promise of love.
     Thanks, Mom, for this poem which teaches me about God’s Great and Lasting Love through Jesus Christ.   

Master of All Elements
In awe, I see your magic fire
Rip jagged streaks through churning clouds
That split the sky and shatter trees
Like vivid exclamation points.

I cower when your frozen rain is hurled to
Earth in vented rage
To strip green leaves from shrub and field
And harvest corn before it is ripe.

From the cave, I hear gigantic winds
Rake grasping claws across the land
To leave a jumbled disarray
Of broken dreams and tested faith.

I hug warm fires when drifting snows
Choke every lane and thoroughfare,
Creating winter wonderlands
To hide the somber browns of the earth.

Yes, Master of all elements,
I recognize your might.  But, Lord,
Just shower me with gentle rains
And wrap me in your rainbow love.
                  Anna Daisy Siemens
*original word by author ‘livid’