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Archive for the ‘God’s Power’ Category

 

 

“The hills are clothed with gladness,” King David proclaimed (Psalm 65:12b).

 

I couldn’t agree more. Even on the little hillside of our backyard viewed from my perch on the deck, I see much gladness. And observations of the gladness lead to worship.

 

Sun glints through the trees creating a spotlight effect on some branches and turning backlit leaves into glowing emeralds. Down by the creek bed foliage is draped in deep, green-black shadow, beckoning wildlife into its cool environs.

 

 

Thank you, Father, for the comfort and cheer of dappled light.

 

 

Air currents waft through the trees causing branches to bob and sway. The long, compound leaves of the black walnut tree swing back and forth like bells joyfully ringing on the breeze. And flowers appear to wave jauntily to their Maker.

 

 

Thank you, Father, for the restoration and delight of a cool breeze.

 

Two cardinals take turns serenading amidst the lacy greenery overhead. Robins, house wrens, chickadees, and more add accompaniment; the cicadas provide percussion.

 

 

The hills have certainly burst into song this day (Isaiah 55:12)!

 

Thank you, Father, for the pleasure and solace of bird song.

 

Two small squirrels play tag, spiraling rapidly around a tree five times. When they stop, I wonder, Are they tired or dizzy? And how do they run so fast, even clambering upside down without losing their grip?

 

(Woosh!)

 

Sometimes they jump impossible distances from tree to tree and I catch my breath. Their safety seems in jeopardy, yet the little fellows never fall. God has specially equipped them to handle such feats—just one of a million examples of how he has engineered every plant and animal for survival.

 

 

(“In his hand is the life of every creature.–Job 12:10a)

 

Thank you, Father, for the evidence of your wisdom, power, and influence—even among our backyard squirrels.

 

I’m remembering other animals that have visited less frequently. In the fall, a chubby woodchuck lumbers in the underbrush, fueling up for hibernation. Every now and then we spot a chipmunk or rabbit; sometimes even deer emerge out of the thicket, regal and quiet, to feed and rest in the yard. Our resident raccoon occasionally perches in his hole high up in the hawthorn tree, checking on the weather.

 

 

On summer nights we enjoy a festival of fireflies. Our trees appear decorated for Christmas with hundreds of twinkling lights. Frogs in the creek bed offer the sound track.

 

Thank you, Father, for the fascinating variety of creatures with which you’ve populated the world. “How many are your works, O Lord! In wisdom you made them all; the earth is full of your creatures” (Psalm 104:24).

 

 

The sky is full of God’s creatures, too. A small gaggle of Canada geese announce their coming with raucous honking. They’re heading for the pond behind duplexes down the street. Long necks stretch forward; large wings gracefully ply the air.

 

Also skyward, among great banks of cumulus clouds glides a puffy hippo!

 

And sometimes a red-tailed hawk glides in circles above the trees. Landing requires several battings of wings with feathers fanned out and talons extended forward–a lesson in aerodynamics and precision.

 

 

“The heavens declare your glory; the skies proclaim your works” (Psalm 19:1), O God, night and day.

 

Thank you, Father, that all things speak of you—flora and fauna, rock and water, earth and sky.

 

This deck has become a holy, hallowed place where the glory of your creation excites wonder.

 

And woven throughout your works is the mystical and supernatural—to inspire, expand, and enrich our souls for more of you.

 

To that end I seek for my own life the same wisdom, power, and influence I see in your creation. Then I too may reflect your glory (2 Corinthians 3:18).

 

 

________________________________________

 

 

What has compelled you to worship from your deck, porch, or beach towel? Please share your thoughts in the comment section below!

 

(Photo credits:  www.guideposts.org; Nancy Ruegg; http://www.flickr.com; Nancy Ruegg; http://www.pixnio.com; http://www.wikimedia.com; http://www.pinterest.com (2); http://www.flickr.com; http://www.slideshare.net; http://www.pinterest.com (2).

 

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No doubt it’s happened to you too: a shift of life-circumstances occurs in an instant and suddenly your world is shattered. Maybe it’s a job transfer or termination. Maybe it’s the break-up of a long-term relationship or marriage. Maybe it’s an accident or life-altering medical diagnosis.  Your thoughts wrap around the event and its consequences with such ferocity, you can think of nothing else.

We know focusing on “what ifs” and “if only-s” is counter-productive. And as people of faith we know God has our best interests at heart. But we hurt, and we wonder what God is up to.

The next time cataclysmic circumstances overtake me, I want to be better prepared, starting with a new perspective.  I want to view obstacles as opportunities:

 

“What is the difference between an obstacle and an opportunity?

Our attitude toward it.

Every opportunity has a difficulty,

And every difficulty has an opportunity.”

–J. Sidlow Baxter

(pastor, theologian, author, 1903-1999)

 

The trouble is, attitudes are not easily adjusted. How do we change our perspective? Perhaps such strategies as these will prove helpful:

 

  1. Be intentional about word choices.

We can call our situations opportunities as Reverend Baxter suggests. Challenges are adventures as we live out God’s plan for this circumstance. And we can change the D of Disappointment to an H for His appointment*—an appointment to learn, grow, and mature (James 1:2-4).

 

 

  1. Consider the circumstances from God’s point of view.

According to Charles Spurgeon, what seems a crushing burden to us is a matter of small dust to God. I need to focus on how great he is compared to the smallness of my problem.

 

 

(“Great is our Lord and mighty in power,”

His understanding has no limit.”

–Psalm 147:5)

 

Such scriptures need to be front and center, posted in attention-grabbing places like inside the refrigerator, on the steering wheel, or in the sock drawer.

 

  1. Let purpose impact perspective.

When our daughter was in high school, she joined the track team one spring. Heather never won a single race.  But she didn’t consider herself a loser, because instead of running against the competition, she ran against the clock. Every tenth of a second she shaved off her time, she considered herself a winner.  Her purpose for running was not to become a track star; it was simply to be with friends and get a good work out.  Her purpose impacted her perspective.

 

 

God has purpose in our circumstances—to produce tremendous benefit in our lives and in the lives of those around us. We can choose to embrace his purpose (even though we may not know what it is) and allow it to impact our perspective.

 

  1. Look for the blessings.

 

 

(“When I am in the cellar of affliction

I always look about for the Lord’s choicest wine.”

–Samuel Rutherford–

pastor, theologian, author, 1600-1661)

 

Rutherford wasn’t referring to material blessings, although God certainly bestows those, even in the midst of pain or trouble. The Lord’s “choicest wines” include his peace (Isaiah 26:3) and joy (Psalm 16:11) that defy explanation as difficulties assault.

But, we must look about. Will the blessing arrive through a special scripture or other reading? Perhaps through a song or the comment of a friend? The possibilities are endless because our God is infinitely creative. Our part is to be attentive.

 

  1. Focus on God himself (Isaiah 41:10).

 

 

By his power the whole universe functions as a cohesive whole. Out of his infinite wisdom, every creature is provided for. And because of his loving compassion, every person may enjoy eternal life through his Son, Jesus. God is able to do all things! He will not fail to see us through all our troubles (2 Corinthians 4:16-18).

 

 

One of the first explorers to sail around the southern tip of Africa experienced whipping winds and driving rain during that portion of the voyage. He named the area Cape of Storms.

When Vasco de Gama traversed the same promontory in 1497, he renamed it Cape of Good Hope. His focus was not on the turbulent waters under and around his ship but the treasures of India ahead.

 

Vasco de Gama

 

In life, we can focus on the storms of difficulty and pain.   Or, we can center our hearts and minds on the life of good hope Jesus provides here and now, as well as look ahead to the glorious eternity of heaven.

The choice of perspective is ours. Will we choose to view our challenges as obstacles or opportunities?

_____________________________

 

What helps you achieve or maintain a positive perspective when adversity strikes? Please join the conversation in the comment section below!

 

* His Imprint, My Expression, Harvest House Publishers, 1993.

 

(Art & photo credits:  www.wikimedia.com; http://www.pinterest.com (2); http://www.pixabay.com; http://www.azquotes.com; http://www.youtube.com; http://www.wikimedia.com (2).

 

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“Ask the animals, and they will teach you,

or the birds of the air, and they will tell you;

or speak to the earth, and it will teach you,

or let the fish of the sea inform you.

Which of all these does not know that

the hand of the Lord has done this?”

–Job 12:7-9

 

It’s true. Just a bit of knowledge in the fields of zoology, botany, or geology does inform us of the precision with which our God created all things:

  • Every living thing is provided just the right kind of nourishment it needs.
  • The Amazon rain forest supplies the entire planet with half its oxygen.
  • Rivers respond to God’s laws of physics, causing them to meander instead of run straight. As a result, calm estuaries form so young aquatic animals are protected while they grow.

 

 

Countless facts such as these make it difficult to disregard the evidence: A Supreme Being had to mastermind all this.

Even mathematical explorations lead us to the same conclusion.

Take for example Fibonacci* numbers—a sequence where each succeeding number is the sum of the two preceding numbers. 0+1=1; 1+1=2; 1+2=3, 2+3=5, and so on, produces this sequence: 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, 55, 89, 144, 233, etc.

So what’s the big deal? someone may ask. There are more than a few big deals.

First, the number of petals on a flower very often comes from the Fibonacci sequence. The calla lily has one petal; Euphorbia, two; trillium, three; violets, five; bloodroot, eight; and black-eyed Susan, thirteen. The list could continue.

 

 

Or, imagine each Fibonacci number as the sides of a square arranged like this:

 

 

Now add an arc from opposite corners in each square, to form a spiral. Someone designated it the Golden Spiral.

 

 

Look familiar?  You’ve seen it in the interior view of a nautilus shell,

 

 

the pattern of sunflowers seeds,

 

 

the tail of a seahorse,

 

 

the rotation of a hurricane,

 

 

and the expansive reach of some galaxies.

 

 

Other spirals are also in evidence:

Imagine holding a stem of leaves. Look carefully at how each leaf is attached to the stem and you’ll see a spiral pattern. Now put your (imaginary) finger on one leaf and turn the stem to find another leaf in the same position on the stem. The number of turns will be a Fibonacci number.

Count the leaves in between those two leaves you’ve just identified, and again, the total will be a Fibonacci number. For example, the ratio of turns to leaves is 1:2 for elms, 1:3 for beech, 2:5 for oak.

 

 

Trees are not the only vegetation to display spirals in a consistent ratio of side-by-side Fibonacci numbers. The scales of pinecones grow in opposing spirals in a 5:8 ratio, the bumps on a pineapple are 8:13.

Even the DNA molecule measures 34 angstroms long by 21 angstroms wide for each full turn of its double helix spiral—again, neighboring numbers in the Fibonacci sequence.

 

 

Similar ratios are found on sunflowers. The number of seed-spirals going in one direction will add up to a Fibonacci number; those going in the other direction will be a neighboring Fibonacci number.

 

 

Evidence of these number sequences is so vast in creation, The Fibonacci Quarterly was established in 1963, published by The Fibonacci Association. Their purpose is to document the occurrence of the phenomenon in nature.

I wonder if they would agree with Galileo (1564-1642) who proclaimed:

 

(“Mathematics is the language in which God has written the universe.”)

 

Just the Fibonacci sequence alone gives much proof.

 

*     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *

 

Glorious God, you are the Artist who fashioned mountains and sunsets of breath-taking beauty. You are the Scientist who designed flora and fauna to thrive and regenerate. You are the Mathematician who shaped the world with symmetry, organization, and pattern.   The whole earth is filled with your glory (Isaiah 6:3)—down to the last molecule! How can we express the overwhelming wonder that fills our hearts?        

 

* Leonard da Pisano, also known as Fibonacci (son of Bonaccio), discovered the sequence pattern around 1200 A.D.

 

(Art & photo credits:  www.pixabay.com; http://www.wikimedia.org; http://www.pixabay.com; http://www.wikimedia.org (5); http://www.pinterest.com; http://www.wikimedia.org (2); http://www.flickr.com; http://www.wikimedia.org; http://www.azquotes.com.)

 

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“If God is for us,

who can be against us?”

–Romans 8:31 NIV

 

As I write…

…two friends are fighting cancer, one of them for the second time.

…Another deals with debilitating illness every day while a fourth deteriorates as the result of Alzheimer’s. 

…A married couple among our acquaintances is separated. He is filing for a divorce that she doesn’t want or deserve.

…Families and friends of those who died in the recent terrorist attacks suffer through the aftermath, as well as those injured, their families and friends. My heart aches for the first responders as well.

 

 

Though I wish it weren’t so, even devout believers in Jesus endure physical pain, emotional hurt, and horrific circumstances. How can God be for us when so many endure anguish?

Here’s what I’ve come to understand:

#1. My interpretation of a particular verse must be measured against the whole of scripture and the experience of countless saints through the ages.

Evidence from the Bible and church history would indicate that “God for us” does not mean he will engineer a problem-free life—even for one of his beloved. Perfection is reserved for heaven.

What God has promised here and now is to:

  • be with us,
  • provide strength,
  • help us through the situation, and
  • uphold us with encouragement and comfort (Isaiah 41:10).

 

 

But when shocking news sends me spinning toward fear, when trouble threatens to destroy my peace and joy, when pain exhausts my strength, those familiar promises seem—dare I say it?—inadequate.

God may have promised:

  • His presence with me, but I want him to show me the way out.
  • His strength, but I don’t feel it Instead, I feel terribly weak.
  • His help through the situation, but I want his help around it.
  • His encouragement and comfort, but I am discouraged and uncomfortable.

Such statements bring immediate clarity to the inadequacy. Look how I am the focus of those statements, how I assert my desires for relief and ease.

The problem is me.

 

 

#2. God’s desire for me during my time on earth is not endless comfort and pleasure.

His goals include:

  • maturity (James 1:4)—fully developed character of faith, discipline, and integrity.
  • Heightened awareness of him so that “in the darkness of adversity, [I am] able to see more clearly the radiance of his face”* (2 Corinthians 4:6).
  • Lessened awareness of the inconsequential things on earth (Colossians 2:1-2).

 

 

And why are these goals important to him? Because the result is an indescribably glorious prize:

 

“Our momentary light affliction is producing for us

an absolutely incomparable eternal weight of glory.”

–2 Corinthians 4:17 HCSB

 

Paul wrote that—a man who suffered much. He was beaten, imprisoned, and even stoned because of his faith in Jesus (2 Corinthians 6:4-5).  

Yet he was able to assert that anything he had suffered was nothing compared to the glorious joys of heaven awaiting him. That’s a critical truth to remember.

 

 

Also helpful to keep in mind:

#3. Evidence abounds that God is for us no matter the circumstances.

Just for fun, I counted up God’s attributes in the index of one of my resources—attributes such as God’s Attentiveness, God’s Blessings, and God’s Care. The list includes twenty-eight different categories.  No doubt there are even more.

How can I doubt the motives of such a loving, generous God?

My own experience provides bountiful evidence.

As some of you will remember, I’ve kept a journal since 1983 of God’s faithfulness to our family. Each year I total up the blessings, and praise God for his help, kindness, and miracles during the previous twelve months. To date there are more than 1,200 entries in all.

 

(Can you see how yellowed and tattered the edges of this first page are?!)

 

At the end of one particularly difficult year my jaw dropped to discover more entries than any year previously. God had indeed been for me—through it all.

The great missionary to China, Hudson Taylor (1832-91905), was right:

 

 

(“All our difficulties are only platforms for the manifestations of his grace, power, and love.”)

 

Every day, every moment, the Almighty God of grace, power, and love is at work for our benefit.

Who could possibly win against such supremacy?

 

* Sarah Young, Jesus Calling, Thomas Nelson, p. 361.

 

*     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *

 

How have you experienced God’s grace, power, and love during a time of difficulty?  Please share in the comment section below!

 

 

(Art & photo credits: http://www.pinterest.com; http://www.wikimedia.com; http://www.pinterest.com; http://www.picturequotes.com; http://www.pinterest.com; http://www.biblesociety.ca; Nancy Ruegg; http://www.quotefancy.com.)

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Though another cold spell (down to 33 degrees!) just moved through our area, spring is still evident everywhere. Small leaves on tree and bush have quickly grown into verdant foliage. Flowers bloom in dazzling colors, and birds happily twitter nonstop. I’m captivated again by the beauty and grandeur of nature, especially as the earth reawakens from winter.

 

 

Just being outdoors surrounded by God’s splendor can increase our awareness of him. His attributes are on grand display every day, in every corner of our planet. For example, we see confirmation of:

His glory – God’s magnificence is personified in the splendor of sweeping prairie vistas, the majesty of mountains, and the vastness of oceans.

 

(Cook’s Inlet, Alaska)

 

His power – Who else could create innumerable galaxies of stars, planets, and moons, then place them over light years of endless space?

 

 

His holiness – God is perfect; his works are perfect.   Evidence abounds in the exact count of petals on a buttercup (It’s always five), the ever-changing hues of a sunset sky, and on the rainbow wings of a Fire Clipper butterfly.

 

 

His grace – God keeps Planet Earth in a state of perpetual renewal as the sun provides energy, rain supplies hydration, flora and fauna exchange carbon dioxide and oxygen.

 

His wisdom – Unlike most substances, water expands when frozen, increasing its volume. As a result, ice floats. Imagine what would happen if glaciers sunk to the ocean floor. Sea water would have chilled dramatically a long time ago and cooled the planet. Life would have been unsustainable.

 

 

His ability to work wonders – God made creatures that morph in astounding ways: caterpillars become butterflies, tadpoles turn into frogs, and newborn kangaroos, no more than pink blobs the size of bees, transform into two hundred pound adults.

 

 

His goodness – Our world abounds with countless plants and animals in various shapes, colors, textures, and more. Such diversity is surely not necessary for our survival. Wouldn’t a world in shades of gray suffice? Wouldn’t bread and water keep us alive? But God sees fit to bless us with the delight of variety.

 

His orderliness — God has designed entire ecosystems so precisely that every organism is perfectly provided for in a methodic, rhythmic cycle.

 

 

His creativity – Planet Earth is home to at least 9,000 species of birds, 15,000 different kinds of mammals, 27,000 types of fish, 400,000 different sorts of flowers, and 900,000 species of insects. Each one is unique.

 

(Rainbow Leaf Beetle)

 

The scope of creation is so vast, the most detailed descriptors only skim the surface of its marvels. Everywhere we look—into the deepest recesses of space with a telescope, or into the minutia placed under a microscope, we see intricacy, precision, and complexity.

 

(Microbe Organism)

 

*     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *

 

The earth is full of your riches, O God. Day and night the visible things of creation silently shout the unspoken truth that you are the all-powerful, ever faithful, and perfectly wise God. Lead me, I pray, to experience your world with the eyes of worship.

Psalm 104:24 ASV; Romans 1:20; Grace Notes by Philip Yancey, p. 165.

 

 

What additional evidence of God’s attributes do you see in creation?  Please share in the comments section below!

 

(Photo credits:  www.pixabay.com; http://www.maxpixel.freegreatpicture.com; http://www.wikimedia.com; http://www.pinterest.com; http://www.flickr.com; http://www.youtube.com; http://www.wikimedia.com; http://www.pinterest.com; http://www.pixabay.com; http://www.pinterest.com.)

 

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“Glorify the Lord with me,” David invited. “Let us exalt his name together” (Psalm 34:3).

M-m-m. That’s puzzling. Why didn’t David say, “exalt his names?”

He has dozens—Creator, Father, Holy One, King, I AM, —to name just a few.

My question led to three observations.

One, most of us do have at least three names: first, last, and middle. Royals are often given multiple names. Prince William of Great Britain, for example, is actually William Arthur Philip Louis Windsor. Yet even when he’s asked to give his full name, that word name is used in singular form.

Two, most parents, including royalty, take great care in choosing names for their progeny. They not only consider how first, middle, and last sound when spoken together, they consider the meanings of the names.

 

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Three, some moms and dads choose names that honor family members or friends. Perhaps they hope the name will also bequeath to their child the positive traits and accomplishments of the honorees.

Based on these observations, it would seem appropriate to do the following when we desire to praise or rejoice in God’s name:

  • Think on at least several of his names
  • Consider their meanings, especially as they relate to personal experience
  • Meditate on the attributes and accomplishments of God associated with that name

Let’s try it. The name-list above offers a start.

God of heaven and earth, you are Creator of all. My mind cannot begin to fathom your power, wisdom, and creative genius that brought this universe into existence—out of nothing. From vast planetary movements to intricate ecosystems, your divine proficiency produces perfect function.

 

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You are the Holy One of the universe—completely righteous and totally separate from anything or anyone else. You are the only one who is omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent. There is no one like you.

Yet you are my Heavenly Father! You lovingly and patiently care for me, providing guidance and instruction on how best to live. You graciously bestow blessings—sometimes special desires of my heart, and even serendipity gifts that I haven’t asked for.

You are the King of the universe, in control of everything. But unlike some rulers, you know what you’re doing. Everything you do is perfect. I can trust you with the concerns of my life because of your great wisdom and understanding.

 

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You are the great I AM, who always was and always will be. You live in a perpetual present tense. And you are always the same—dependable and faithful, loving and gracious to your children.

Thank you, God, for revealing these names to us—and many more. They help us to understand who you are and how you respond to your children. And as we meditate upon them, our hearts are filled with wordless wonder and overwhelming gratitude.

With David we glory in your holy name(Psalm 105:3)!

_________________________

 

Photo credits:  www.ourdailyblossom.com; http://www.fishwallpaper.net; http://www.pinterest.com; http://www.wallpapercave.com.

 

(Reblogged from January 28, 2013)

 

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Years ago I purchased Joni Eareckson Tada’s book, A Quiet Place in a Crazy World (Waterbrook/Multnomah Books, 1993). Have you by chance read it also? If so, you might remember that within its pages she calls attention to the many ways God meets us in the midst of the craziness, offering us a place of refuge, promise, confidence, and more.

One way to meet with God, no matter where we are or what we’re facing, is to fill our mouths with his praises (p. 141). If you know Joni’s story as a quadriplegic for over twenty-five years (when she wrote the book), you understand what an incredible statement that is. If she can praise God continually, I have no excuse.

It was during a recent rereading of A Quiet Place that Joni inspired me to conduct a word study of praise and fill an entire page with synonymns.

‘Care to guess how many I found, as one word led to another? Twenty-five!

Their definitions and synonymns overlap one another, like the pleasing harmonies of a pastoral symphony – a symphony of praise.

Not wanting to bore you (!), I’ll include just ten here, as I contemplate a few reasons for praising God’s wonderful deeds (Psalm 105:2):

 

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How do I praise thee, Lord? Let me count the ways.

 

I acclaim you, Father, with enthusiastic approval—

Even with passionate applause and loud shouts—

Because you watch over me with gracious, attentive care.

You uphold me every day of my life.

 

I adore you, my Redeemer, with profound love and reverence.

You provided the way of salvation for me

Through the sacrifice of your only Son.

Now I revel in the continual access of your presence.

 

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I am in awe of you, God Almighty.

With unspeakable wonder I contemplate your power—

Your ability to create out of nothing,

To preserve and protect with a word.

 

I celebrate you, Sovereign Lord,

To honor your magnificence and rejoice in your goodness.

Your reign is all-inclusive and spans all time.

You are good and compassionate on all you have made.

 

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I exalt you, King of Glory, in order to increase in my spirit

The intensity of your splendor—

Splendor that surrounds me but is only perceived in part,

Holy magnificence to be fully revealed one day in heaven!

 

I give tribute to you, Lord Jehovah,

With my testimony of praise,

Expressing gratitude for your benevolent gifts

And admiration for your astounding attributes.

 

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I glorify you, Creator God, with honor and high praise

For the perfection of all your works on the earth.

Billions of components function as a cohesive whole,

Manifesting your wisdom and power.

 

I honor you, God of Grace,

With deep respect and humble reverence.

Without you as my deliverer I’d drown in my failures,

But with you as my treasure I have all things in One.

 

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I marvel at your constancy, the one and only I AM.

You are self-existent and self-sufficient, dependent on no one.

You are always present, everywhere at once.

And you are pure, holy, and astonishingly perfect.

 

I revere you, God Most High,

With profound awe, deep respect, and grateful love

Because yours is the greatness and power, the glory and splendor.

All dominion belongs to you.

 

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And wonder of wonders, I belong to you, too.

 

(Art & photo credits:  www.waterbrookmultnomah.com; http://www.dayofgrace.me; http://www.pinterest.com; http://www.youtube.com; http://www.interest.com (3).

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