A FATHER WORTHY OF WORSHIP: LIVING IN GOD'S PLAYG

A FATHER WORTHY OF WORSHIP—

LIVING IN GOD’S PLAYGROUND

(PSALM 104)

FATHER'S DAY 2009
By
Eric C. Whelchel
 

          My daddy told me a story once—a story about the Flint River. He said, “It all begins right here in East Point.” “Underneath Willingham Drive,” he said, “God opened up a little spring and that spring…well, God made it grow into a bigger spring…then a little stream…and in time…a full sized RIVER filled with life!

          Little wonder, then, how naturally we sing “How great thou art!” Maybe it was David, who knows for sure, but the hymn writer of Psalm 104 surely had a heart for the greatness of our God: “Bless the Lord, O my soul! O Lord my God, You are very great…” I want to talk to you about “A Father Worthy of Worship” or “Living in God’s Playground!” but before you can fully appreciate that first part of Psalm 104:1, you need to come with me very quickly to the opening of God’s word. Genesis 1:1, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form and void, and darkness was upon the face of the deep; and the Spirit of God brooded over the face of the waters.” Like a big, playful, loving bird, trying to decide the best place for a nest…to raise up their young…the Spirit of God broods over an earth as yet devoid of all life…of all light…and then the startling words—“Let there be light…and there was light!” Like a parent turning on the lights in the living room on Christmas morning and the children all running with eyes wide open…the excitement, the playfulness…the overture to life!”

          Now we can more fully appreciate the playful images of Psalm 104, our Father God bringing all life to light, indeed, our Father God, the Only One able to “take up light like a garment and put it on!” Psalm 104:1, the last line: “You are clothed with splendor and majesty, covering Yourself with light as with a cloak, stretching out heaven like a tent curtain. He lays the beams of His upper chambers in the waters; He makes the clouds His chariot; He walks upon the wings of the wind; He makes the winds His messengers, flaming fire His ministers” (Psalm 104:1-4). My daddy had it right and how he loved to sing “How great thou art!” I remember him today, but more than remembering my daddy I praise my Father in Heaven: “Pavilioned in splendor and girded with praise,” He is in charge of the winds of the earth and its flaming fires; nothing is too big for His power, too mysterious for His understanding. But notice the intimacy of this portrait. Our God is like a loving Father setting up a campground for his family to enjoy: pitching the tent as a shelter from the elements. He is like a Master carpenter, laying out the beams or rafters for His upper rooms—a house carefully and playfully constructed for His family’s needs. Notice the playfulness throughout: riding the clouds as His chariot; walking upon the wings of the wind; commanding the winds and the flames to do His bidding, to play the game the way He wants them to play! Our heavenly Father is also our Sovereign God—worthy of all our life’s worship!

          O our God is powerful in His playfulness—He’s like a Great Naval officer, commanding the seas, the waters over all the earth. Psalm 104:5-9—He’s the envy of every navy man, every captain over every boat: HE SETS THE WATERS IN FLIGHT! “He established the earth upon its foundations”—stability is the idea…the Master Engineer and Architect is our Heavenly Father—“…so that the earth will not totter forever and ever.” “You covered it with the deep as with a garment; the waters were standing above the mountains. At Your rebuke they fled! At the sound of Your thunder they hurried away! The mountains rose; the valleys sank down to the place which You established for them. You set a boundary that they may not pass over, so that they will not return to cover the earth.”

          Water’s a powerful force to be sure. I once canoed down the Deer River in Tennessee at a time when the waters were at flood stage. I’ll never forget that log coming at our little canoe with the force of a torpedo and how it turned us over into the river like a bowling ball sends all 10 pens flying! But the strongest, most violent of storms over the open sea are no match for our Father who simply plays with His waters! Now listen carefully to the most important feature of our God and His WATER WORLD! In Psalm 104:10-13 we come to the most beautiful lesson to be learned from good old “H2O” and our Father God:

          In His infinite love and care, He has given us THE WATERS OF LIFE! That’s what my daddy was talking about when he told me all about how the Flint River came to be and all the life that it now sustains: “He sends forth springs in the valleys; they flow between the mountains; they give drink to every beast of the field; the wild donkeys quench their thirst. Beside them the birds of the heavens dwell; they lift up their voices among the branches. He waters the mountains from His upper chambers; the earth is satisfied with the fruit of His works.” Just study His created wonders to know just what He wants from each human being: He wants us to live and flourish in every way possible! Jesus will meet a lady struggling with survival in the dust of Palestine. She comes to a well to draw water, just as she has done for years. Jesus reaches out to her as he reached out to everyone within the range of His voice: “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, ‘Give Me a drink of water,’ you would have asked Him and He would have given you LIVING WATER. The Samaritan woman said to Jesus, ‘Sir, You have nothing to draw with and the well is deep; where then do You get that living water? You are not greater than our father Jacob, are You, who gave us the well, and drank of it himself and his sons and his cattle?’ Jesus answered and said to her, ‘Everyone who drinks of this water will thirst again; but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never thirst; but the water that I will give him will become in him a  well of water SPRINGING UP TO ETERNAL LIFE!’” Jesus knew what she really needed and what deep down she REALLY WANTED—the satisfaction of her spirit! With eternity set deep in her heart from God Himself, she longed for something far more necessary than cold water on a hot, dry day; she longed to be delivered from her spiritual turmoil, the wars she had fought with men, and society and sin and death. So Jesus will assure Nicodemus that “Unless one is born of water and the Spirit he will never enter into the kingdom of God.” Isn’t it amazing what our Father can do with water as His Spirit touches our lives, as we submit to Him…as we are buried with Christ in baptism to be raised to walk in NEWNES OF LIFE!

          Well now…what comes with water…BUT LIFE ITSELF! At first glance it appears that Psalm 104:14-18 is all about the lush life that springs up wherever water is found…the life our heavenly Father sustains EVERY DAY! “He causes the grass to grow for the cattle”—our scientists have their explanations and they’re true as far as they go, but we know what’s really behind that “photosynthesis!”—the conversion of water and sun light into ENERGY FOR LIFE: “He causes the grass to grow for the cattle, and vegetation for the labor of man; so that he may bring forth food from the earth, and wine which makes man’s heart glad; so that he may make his face glisten with oil, and food which sustains man’s heart. The trees of the Lord drink their fill, the cedars of Lebanon which He planted, where the birds build their nests, and the stork, whose home is the fir trees. The high mountains are for the wild goats; the cliffs are a refuge for the shephanim—the rock badgers” (Psalm 104:14-18). It’s really all about our Father’s care and concern for EVERY LIVING CREATURE ON EARTH! He prepared the world to be “JUST SO.” Every thing has its place so that life can continue to flourish, but most important of all—He wants us to trust Him as the provider for all life, especially the SPIRITUAL FAITH that we must all have to please Him. “We walk by faith, not by sight,” and so we know that behind all the growth there stands something far greater than the waters of earth; behind all the growth, all the lush life…stands our heavenly Father with more love and power than we could ever imagine.

          Your science teachers may have their explanations for the seasons, for the rhythm of night and day, but what lies behind all the glorious science? Something far more glorious! Our loving Father is the author of that amazing RHYTHM OF DAY AND NIGHT! Psalm 104:19-24—“He made the moon for the seasons; the sun knows the place of its setting. You appoint darkness and it becomes night, in which all the beasts of the forest prowl about. The young lions roar after their prey and seek their food from God. When the sun rises they withdraw and lie down in their dens. Man goes forth to his work and to his labor until evening.”

          My daddy gave me an appreciation for the early morning hours, the value of the calm tranquility of the early evening hours. Many times did we walk by the lake side or the sea side—early mornings, or in the darkness of night, combing the beach, watching the sun rise, marveling over the stars, looking at all the beauty the Lord has given us; it reminds me of the beauties of Psalm 104:25-26, THE GREAT, IMMEASURABLE SEA! What better time than “Father’s Day” to remember just what our heavenly Father did in creating the immeasurable sea! “Yonder is the sea, great and wide, which teems or swarms with things innumerable, living things both small and great. There go the ships, and Leviathan which thou didst form to sport or PLAY in it.” I can just see the wonder in my daddy’s eyes as we walked with flashlights in hand, chasing little crabs down the beach, or staring wide eyed at the little baby shark trapped in a tidal pool, or as we look out at the vast ocean to see ships coming and going from great distances and wondering about the people on those ships, their life’s stories, their missions in life. Were they aware of God’s POWER and SOVEREIGNTY, as they rode the waves with such self confidence? As they traveled over the depths, were they even remotely in tune with the creation of life around them—in relationship with the ONE WHO MADE THEM? Did they have even one single clue concerning how much they really depended on the God who has given them EVERYTHING?

          So the psalmist drives his lesson home concerning our dependence on our heavenly Father—IN HIM WE LIVE!. You may well think that you are in control of your life, the bread winner, the sovereign force over your own destiny, but only the blindest unbelief can cause a person to look out on our heavenly Father’s art work of nature and come away with such foolish human over confidence! Psalm 104:27, notice again, the playfulness and the deep concern, listen to the description of animals as if they were actually human, with emotions…joy and anxiety—Psalm 104:27-30, life at its simplest, just you and your God: “These all look to Thee, to give them their food in due season. When Thou givest to them, they gather it up; when Thou openest Thy hand, they are filled with good things. When Thou hidest thy face, they are dismayed; when Thou takest away their breath, they die and return to their dust. When Thou sendest forth thy Spirit, they are created; and Thou renewest the face of the ground.” “Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren,” James reminds us in James 1:16-18, “Do not be deceived…Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom can be no variation, neither shadow that is cast by turning. Of His own will he brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of first fruits of His creatures.” “The God who made the world and all things in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands, nor is He served by human hands, as though He needed anything, since He Himself gives to all people life and breath and all things; and He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their habitation, that they would seek God, if perhaps they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us; for in Him we live and move and have our very being, as even some of your own poets have said, ‘For we also are His children’” (Acts 17:24-28).

          I’ll never forget going camping with my family, the sparkle in my daddy’s eyes as he rolls out “the big tent” and proceeds to set it up. He knew how much we all loved that “big tent,” all the memories, all the fun. Our heavenly Father is sort of like that. In creating the world and filling it with such amusing and breathtaking life forms, so many opportunities…He was rolling out “the big tent” and making everything “just so”—for you and for me! I’ll never forget one of my daddy’s favorite expressions; it still haunts me, for I know I’ve never really lived up to it. At the end of a camping trip, as “the big tent” came down and all the stuff was packed up and made ready for home…my daddy always told us: “LEAVE IT BETTER THAN YOU FOUND IT!

          You see, our heavenly Father, and this is true for any decent earthly father, any child of God, any decent citizen of heaven, our heavenly Father is always working to renew the ground, to take care of the world, and this is our calling in Christ: to leave it better than you found it! One day the Lord of heaven and earth will come back and demand an explanation from each one of us: “What have you done with the blessings I’ve given you?” “What have you done with my creation, with all the life forms I’ve created, especially, what have you done with my children created in My image?” One day He’s coming back, but until that day comes…He’s called us to glorify Him in this world and there is no greater, no more full time job than THE GLORY OF OUR HEAVENLY FATHER! One day He’s coming back, but until that moment when time comes to an end, use your time more wisely, and let the closing challenge of Psalm 104 become your WAR CRY FOR LIFE ON EARTH! One last time, the Lord will shake the earth and all earthly glory will end in fire and smoke…So for now—Psalm 104:31-35 must be our theme EVERY DAY: “Let the glory of the Lord endure forever; let the Lord be glad in His works; He looks at the earth and it trembles; He touches the mountains, and they smoke. I will sing to the Lord as long as I live; I will sing praise to my God while I have my being. As for me, I SHALL BE GLAD IN THE LORD! Let sinners be consumed from the earth and let the wicked be no more. Bless the Lord, O my soul. Praise the Lord.” What about you? What are you doing to honor your heavenly Father? Are you taking care of His world? Are you taking care of His people? Are you taking care of your self? You can give Him your life today: Express saving faith by repenting of your sins, confessing Jesus as Lord, and then by being buried with Him in baptism. You can give Him your life today: Renew your vows; let Him know that from now on HE will be your very life!




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