10 Say ye among the Gentiles, the Lord hath reigned. For he hath corrected the world, which shall not be moved: he will judge the people with justice.
11 Let the heavens rejoice, and let the earth be glad, let the sea be moved, and the fulness thereof:
12 the fields and all things that are in them shall be joyful. Then shall all the trees of the woods rejoice
13 before the face of the Lord, because he cometh: because he cometh to judge the earth. He shall judge the world with justice, and the people with his truth.
An appropriate view of God is to recognize Him as Parent. Jesus is smart to introduce God, His Father as our Father when He prays, “Our Father who art in heaven, Hallowed be Thy Name.” David calls God “King” and “Judge.” And yes, God is our King and our Judge. But above these roles, He is our Parent. He corrects us like the perfect parent corrects – with justice and love.
And so, the heavens rejoice; and the earth is glad. Everything on the earth is joyful “because He comes; because He comes to judge the earth…with justice, and the people with HIS TRUTH.”
God is a refuge in the day of trouble – of this there is no doubt.
His mercy comes in the morning. Ever notice? You go to sleep at night, perhaps with a weight on your chest and in the morning you may be briefly aware of peace, of an absence of worry and heaviness. God’s mercy rests on you instead. He’s given you a night of deep rest, of dreams you may or may not remember. He’s clothed you in His mercy, and for a moment, you may notice. Then you’re up, taking a shower, dressing in something presentable or classy or flashy to go out and about. The weight on your chest returns, sometimes with vengeance, sometimes with subtlety. But God’s mercy seems to drift off and you have no way of getting it back.
Sing to the Lord a new song, a song of praise, of song of recognition that He is merciful and full of grace. He is your stronghold, your mighty fortress, your rock and your redeemer. You live and breathe and walk about in His mercy. Without Him, you are nothing. Even Paul says that the Christian is to be pitied above all if our merciful God does not exist.
Sing to the Lord a new song.
But I will sing of thy power, and will praise thy mercy in the morning: for thou hast been my defense and refuge in the day of my trouble.
Jesus tells us the truth. One day — “as He lives” — every individual who ever existed will bow to Him and give God praise. Now I can see every person kneeling in humility before God, but imagining every one praising God is not as easy. I’ve heard such vile, foul statements made against Him in my time here on earth that imagining those same persons speaking words of praise is difficult.
Think of Hitler or Stalin or Manson speaking words of praise to God, and you may have some appreciation for what I am saying. Praises from such men are incongruous with their personalities.
So, what happens? What changes? Do their hearts change at the judgment? Do they become like Job who said to the Lord, “I know that Thou canst do every thing, and that no thought can be withheld from Thee. Who is he who hideth counsel without knowledge? Therefore I have uttered that which I understood not; things too wonderful for me, which I knew not. Hear, I beseech Thee, and I will speak; I will demand of Thee, and declare Thou unto me. I have heard of Thee by the hearing of the ear, but now mine eye seeth Thee. Wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes.” (Job 42:2-6, KJV)
Will persons such as Kim Jong-il and Saddam Hussein suddenly recognize God and “abhor” themselves? Will they see God and “repent in dust and ashes?” As they bend their knees and fall on their faces, will their mouths open in songs of praise?
Tonight I take a moment to thank God for an air-conditioning service man this summer who gently but strongly suggested I purchase a carbon monoxide detector because my gas furnace heat exchanger was “pretty rusty” and might fail. He did say he didn’t think it would fail any time soon, but should be checked “at next routine cleaning service.”
Today, the cold snap hit the Low Country and my furnace failed. The carbon monoxide detector went off and my son grabbed Hank — my Bichon — and went outside because the detector said, “Move to fresh air now.” I called the same service; they came out and gave me the bad news — “yep, you need a new furnace.”
The price — well, let’s just say, “Ouch.”
But, we are alive.
Thanks be to God. To think, I might not have listened to the service man this summer. I might have put off buying the detector. My son might not have heard it — he said it wasn’t very loud.
“God, who is like You? You cause me to experience many troubles and misfortunes, but You revive me again. You bring me up again, even from the depths of the earth. You increase my honor and comfort me once again.” (Psalm 71:19-21)
I “endure suffering as discipline. God is dealing with [me] as [a] son. For what son is there that a father does not discipline? But if [I am] without discipline — which all receive — then [I am} an illegitimate child and not a son.” (Hebrews 12:7-8)
But,”You redeem me.” (Psalm 71:23) Therefore, “my mouth tells about Your righteousness and Your salvation all day long, though I cannot sum them up. I come because of the mighty acts of the Lord God; I proclaim Your righteousness, Yours alone.” (Psalm 71:15-16)
I “strengthen [my] tired hands and weakened knees, and make straight paths for [my] feet, so that what is lame may not be dislocated but healed instead.” (Hebrews 12:12-13)
“My lips shout for joy when I sing praise to [God] because [He] redeems me.” (Psalm 71:23)
Mary, the mother of Jesus, says: “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord.” In her praise of God, Mary mentions or references the Lord a total of seventeen times. She mentions or references herself only six times. In the mention of herself, she speaks of her “soul” and her “spirit,” her “humble condition;” and that “from now on” she will be called “blessed” by “all generations.” (Luke 1:46,47,48) She also refers to herself as “[God’s] slave.”
In speaking of God, Mary refers to her Lord as “great,” “Mighty,” “holy.” She delineates God’s accomplishments: “He has looked with favor” on her. He “has done great things for” her. He has been merciful “from generation to generation.” “He has scattered the proud” and “toppled the mighty” while “exalting the lowly.” “He has satisfied the hungry with good things.” “He has helped.” (Luke 1: 48-54)
Of herself, Mary only acknowledges that she is God’s slave; and that because of His favor and mercy, she will be called blessed. Mary takes no credit for this, giving all the glory back to God — the only One to whom it belongs.
“But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people of His possession, so that you may proclaim the praises of the One who calls you out of darkness into His marvelous light.”
God “calls us out of darkness.” His call is irrevocable. When He calls, He makes us “a people of His possession.” We become “a chosen race.”
“God’s love is poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit who is given to us.” (Romans 5: 5) Through the Holy Spirit we become “a holy nation.” And this transformation from darkness to “His marvelous light” occurs “while we are still helpless.” (Romans 5: 6) We are enemies of God when we “are reconciled to God through the death of His Son.” (Romans 5: 10)
If God does this for us “while we are enemies…then how much more, having been reconciled, are we saved by His life!” (Romans 5: 10)
And since we are indeed “saved by His life,” we raise our voices in praise of Christ — to whom we owe everything. Let us be grateful to our God, for He is merciful beyond our imaginings. He “calls [us] out of darkness into His marvelous light.”
“The Lord makes His unfailing love shine forth alike by day and night; His praise on my lips is a prayer to the God of my life.”
God’s love never fails; it shines on us, and from within us, both day and night — twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, fifty-two weeks a year. God’s love is permanent. His love does not waver, fade, dilly-dally, pout, wander, hurt. His love is pure.
Our praise of Him is our prayer, acceptable to God even as we fail Him. Gratitude is our response. We are grateful for our lives, for His gifts, for His guidance, for our salvation, for His love.
When all else fails us, we know He does not. He is always present, always loving-kind. Open our lips: let us praise the Lord our God.
Paul says that our redemption is “in Him – the Beloved.” Our salvation is not in ourselves or in another. Rather, we are redeemed “through His blood.” We are not redeemed through the blood of bulls, goats, lambs. Rather, Christ’s blood pays our debts. We are forgiven our sins [trespasses, debts] “according to the riches of His grace.” His grace saves us.
Christ “is the mediator of a new covenant, so that [we] who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance, since a death occurs that redeems [us] from the transgressions committed under the first covenant.” (Hebrews 9: 15) Christ “appears once for all at the end of the ages to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself.” (Hebrews 9: 26)
Paul explains that we are “predestined…for adoption as sons.” (Ephesians 1: 5) Our adoption is possible because of “His glorious grace” (Ephesians 1: 6) and “according to the purpose of His will.” (Ephesians 1: 5) We are not adopted by our will, but by His will.
God “works all things according to the counsel of His will,” reminds Paul. (Ephesians 1: 11) God is the one who is at work in us. He seals us with “the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it.” (Ephesians 1: 13 – 14)
Therefore, since God is at work in us, we should praise Him. We should give Him all the glory which is due Him for He sends His Son who willingly dies to make our adoption possible. Hallelujah!
John the Baptist’s father, Zechariah is “filled with the Holy Spirit” as he prophesies that God “has visited and redeemed His people. and has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of His servant David.”
Zechariah calls us to praise our God. We are to lift our faces to heaven, and remember how much God loves us, how much He sacrificed for us, how much He intercedes for us, how much He covets us.
God “saves [us] from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us; [He] shows the mercy promised to our fathers and [He] remembers His holy covenant, the oath that He swore to our father, Abraham, to grant us that we, being delivered from the hand of our enemies, might serve him without fear, in holiness and righteousness before Him all our days.” (Luke 1: 71 – 75)
Zechariah calls us to “serve [God] without fear.” How? We serve God without fear because He loves us. “In this is love, not that we have loved God but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” (1 John 4: 10) “By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as He is so also are we in this world. There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. We love because He first loved us.” (1 John 4: 17 – 19)
The author of 1 John calls us to live out this love of God in our lives “in this world.” He writes that “as He is so also are we in this world.” We are to love our brothers and sisters in Christ and call the whole world to Him. We are to ring out the glad tidings, the good news of Jesus Christ, born in Bethlehem, born of a woman from the overshadowing of the Holy Spirit.
Rejoice. Rejoice. I say it again: Rejoice. For God is come.