Today’s Text and Thought of Encouragement:
“The precepts of the Lord are right,
they gladden the heart.
The command of the Lord is clear,
it gives light before the eyes.
The fear of the Lord is holy,
abiding for ever.
The decrees of the Lord are truth
and all of them just.
They are more to be desired than gold,
than the purest of gold,
and sweeter are they than honey,
than honey from the comb.”
Psalm 19: 8, 9, 10
“What shall I say? What shall I do?
Whither shall I go?
Where shall I seek Him? Where and when shall I
Whom shall I ask?
‘The joy of my heart fails me’;
my laughter ‘is turned into mourning’;
‘my heart and my flesh fail me’;
‘but God is the strength of my heart, my
portion for ever’…
‘Whom have I in heaven but You?’
I want You, I hope for You, I seek You;
‘to You my heart has said, seek My face’;
‘Your face, Lord, have I sought;
Turn not Your face from me.’”
From The Meditations and Prayers of
Today’s Study Text:
“At the end of the seven years, I, Nebuchadnezzar looked to heaven. I was given my mind back and I blessed the High God, thanking and glorifying God, Who lives forever…At the same time that I was given back my mind, I was also given back my majesty and splendor, making my kingdom shine. All the leaders and important people came looking for me. I was reestablished as king in my kingdom and became greater than ever. And that’s why I’m singing – I, Nebuchadnezzar – singing and praising the King of Heaven.”
Daniel 4: 34, 36, 37
The Message Bible
“Earthly Power Versus Heavenly Purpose” Part 4
“Blaze God’s Name Abroad”
“O praise the Lord, for it is a good thing to sing praises unto our God: yea, a joyful and pleasant thing it is to be thankful.”
What is it that I believe King Nebuchadnezzar learned from his time in the field?
In what ways have I acknowledged God for His blessings upon my life?
“If any one would tell you the shortest, surest way to all happiness and all perfection, he must tell you to make it a rule to yourself to thank and praise God for everything that happens to you. For it is certain that whatever seeming calamity happens to you, if you thank and praise God for it, you turn it into a blessing. Could you, therefore, work miracles, you could not do more for yourself than by this thankful spirit; for it heals with a word, and turns all that it touches into happiness.”
“Look at the very birds on earth – how they shame us! Dear little creatures, if you watch them when they are singing, you will sometimes wonder how so much sound can come out of such diminutive bodies. How they throw their whole selves into the music, and seem to melt themselves away in song! How the wing vibrates, the throat pulsates, and every part of their body rejoices to assist the strain! This is the way in which we ought to praise God.”
C. H. Spurgeon
I love this time of year. It begins getting light at around 5 A.M. at which time I get up and open our bedroom window to let the cool breeze bring fresh air into the room. But I also find it a total delight to hear the songs of many birds who claim our yard as their home. Bluebirds cover our juniper bushes and Blue Jays take advantage of our feeders filled with sunflower seeds. While these birds, along with the Goldfinches, bring the beauty of their bright blue and yellow plumage to our garden, it is the songs of the common birds, house finches and sparrows, that makes the early morning hours so very delightful.
As our above quote from the pen of Pastor Charles Spurgeon so beautifully points out, if we watch the birds when they are singing at the top of their voices, you and I can easily wonder how such a tiny little bird can sing so loudly. It’s as if every fiber of their being is stretched to the limit as they join in their choral production to our Creator. Indeed, for our feathered friends, no matter what they face each day, whether it’s a tempest or a trial, I still find their daily glee club to be an uplifting accompaniment to my life here on earth.
As I listened this morning to what I term an “exclamation of praise,” providing inspiration every morning, it got me to pondering the thought that what if the highest purpose God’s creatures here on earth have is to bring glory and praise to Him? What if nothing brings more joy to the heart of our heavenly Father than to hear words of praise come from our lips throughout each day? Interestingly, I don’t happen to be the only person who has contemplated the place joyful praise has in our lives. Augustine of Hippo went so far as to point out that he believed our “chief work is the praise of God.” I wonder how many people would be won to Jesus if the praise of our God was lovingly expressed in our Christian walk? Brother Roger wrote that “when we wake up each morning, if praise of the Risen Christ were to fill our hearts…then in the monotony of daily life, an inner surge of vitality would reveal our hidden longing.”
Just think how your life and mine would change as we touched those around us with a spirit, animated by joyful praise for the love of our Eternal Father. I have a feeling that the response would be similar to the way I’m transported by the songs of my “merry minstrels” as James Thomson calls our bird friends.
Now if you are wondering how singing birds relate in any way to the story of the Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar, let me share the reason I believe Scripture draws some lessons for us humans to consider from the creatures that surround us.
When we met the King in all his perceived glory, wandering the halls of his palace and admiring the splendor he claimed to have built by his own hands, God, through His prophet Daniel, gave the haughty king a very distinct warning by a dream which he had when asleep. The king was likened to a tree which “grew” and was “strong” and “reached unto heaven.” Daniel in describing the tree stated, “the leaves thereof were fair, and the fruit thereof much, and it was meat for all,” or as the Hebrew translation means, it brought nourishment to all (Daniel 4: 12, K.J.V.).
However, the warning which was sent which predicted that the tree would be cut down if the puffed-up king refused to take heed to God’s words of admonition. When Daniel provided the king with a heavenly interpretation of the dream, there were several specific behavioral issues brought to the attention of the foreign ruler. In Daniel 4: 27 we find the clear instruction from Jehovah: ‘Wherefore, O king…break off thy sins by righteousness, and thy iniquities by shewing mercy to the poor; if it may be a lengthening of thy tranquility.’”
There are two key words found in Daniel 4: 27 that guide us as we draw heavenly lessons from this earthly king who was so completely absorbed by his earthly power. The two words are “righteousness” and “mercy.” The Hebrew translation helps us expand our understanding of what God was conveying to the king. “Righteousness” as used in this particular passage means: Virtue. To do right in a moral sense. To be just and live justly. To be cleansed and transparent, living clearly. And the word “mercy,” used in this particular passage means: To bend or stoop down to help and show favor to one who may be called inferior. To be fair and gracious to a suppliant. To bestow favor by granting a petition.
As I read these definitions, I realized they sounded a lot like the way God treats you and me. We certainly are inferior to His perfection and yet He bestows upon us the treatment of an heir. He sent His Son Jesus Christ to earth — talk about stooping down to lift one as inferior as I am. And then He poured out upon each of us, a gracious love we did not deserve. Through His Son’s death we are cleansed. And then our Father asks us to come to Him with our petitions and He promises not only to hear us — but He also promises to answer us.
It may have taken 7 long years for Nebuchadnezzar to come to his senses but praise God, the Bible tells us that at the end of those “field years,” Nebuchadnezzar was a changed man. No longer the “Braggart of Babylon.” Instead he became the “Psalmist of Babylon.” As we read the word of the king at the end of his field exile we find a great deal of similarity to the words of praise penned by King David. As Nebuchadnezzar thanked and glorified God, his voice could be heard repeating these words:
“His sovereign rule lasts and lasts,
his kingdom never declines and falls.
Life on this earth doesn’t add up to much,
but God’s heavenly army keeps everything going.
No one can interrupt His work,
No one can call His rule into question.
Everything He does is right,
and He does it the right way.
He knows how to turn a proud person
into a humble man or woman.”
The Message Bible
The Old Testament prophet Isaiah, writing about the power of heavenly praise to change our lives, whether it is a proud king in Babylon or a humble servant of the Most High God, leaves this record which we can take to heart in the 21st century: To the meek, the poor, and the afflicted, “God has sent me to grant joy, to give them a garland of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, the garment of praise instead of a heavy burden, that they may be called oaks of righteousness, lofty, strong and magnificent, distinguished for uprightness, justice and right standing with God, the planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified” (Isaiah 61: 1-3, Amplified Bible). Indeed, King Nebuchadnezzar could say, “I will blaze God’s name abroad.”
“Let us, with gladsome mind,
Praise the Lord, for His is kind:
For His mercies endure,
Ever faithful, ever sure.
Let us blaze His name abroad,
For of gods He is the God:
He, with all-commanding might,
Filled the new – made world with light:
All things living He doth feed,
His full hand supplies their need…
Let us then with gladsome mind
Praise the Lord; for His is kind.”
John Milton, Poet
“I will bless the Lord at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth.”
“Sing to the Lord, for He has done glorious things; let this be known to all the world.”
Praise the Lord! You Heavens Adore Him
“Praise the Lord! You heavens, adore Him;
Praise Him, angels in the height;
Sun and moon, rejoice before Him,
Praise Him, all you stars of light.
Praise the Lord, for He has spoken;
Worlds His mighty voice obeyed;
Laws which never shall be broken
For their guidance He has made.
Praise the Lord! for He is glorious;
Never shall His promise fail.
God has made His saints victorious;
Sin and death shall not prevail.
Praise the God of our salvation!
Hosts on high, His power proclaim;
Heaven and earth and all creation,
Laud and magnify His name.
Worship, honor, glory, blessing,
Lord, we offer as our gift.
Young and old, Your praise expressing,
Our glad songs to You we lift.
All the saints in heaven adore You,
We would join their glad acclaim;
As Your angels serve before You,
So on earth we praise Your name.”
Stanzas 1 and 2 Anonymous
Stanza 3 Edward Osler (1836)
From Psalm 148
“Praise the name of God –
it’s the only Name worth praising
His radiance exceeds any thing in earth and sky;
He’s built a monument – His very own people!
Intimate friends of God! Hallelujah!”
The Message Bible
Dorothy Valcàrcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
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