Wholeheartedly

Can you name something that you love with your whole heart? Something you love unreservedly, unconditionally, with no-holds-barred? My spouse, my daughters, their husbands (my girls married UP!) and my grandchildren fit into that category for me. Oh, and my dog, even at her orneriest. Wholehearted love is easy to feel for these special people in my life. (The dog thinks she’s a person. Who am I to argue?)

Psalm 111 is a joyous celebration of wholehearted love for the Lord. It was written as an acrostic psalm, which means that each line begins with a letter in the Hebrew alphabet, written in order. It is paired with psalm 112 (also an acrostic psalm) which extols the virtue of the godly person. But today’s passage extols the virtue of a majestic and magnificent God:

Psalm 111 (Common English Bible)

Praise the Lord!
    I thank the Lord with all my heart
    in the company of those who do right, in the congregation.

When the psalmist says that he thanks the Lord with ALL his heart, it is a reminder to us that we cannot love God with a divided heart. We can’t worship God and worship little gods such as privilege, wealth, prosperity, status, or fame. We can’t love God and hate his people. We can’t preach the Gospel and post hateful memes. Divided hearts are not what the Lord desires.


The works of the Lord are magnificent;
    they are treasured by all who desire them.
God’s deeds are majestic and glorious.
    God’s righteousness stands forever.

Johannes Kepler was a 17th Century German astronomer who studied the works of the Lord. Kepler discovered the three laws of planetary motion, changing the way we understood the nature of earth, the sun, orbits, and the universe. Against great opposition, he celebrated God’s magnificent works through a telescope and brought meaning and understanding to the science community. All of his observations were credited back to God:

“It is a right, yes a duty, to search in cautious manner for the numbers, sizes, and weights, the norms for everything God has created. For He himself has let man take part in the knowledge of these things … For these secrets are not of the kind whose research should be forbidden; rather they are set before our eyes like a mirror so that by examining them we observe to some extent the goodness and wisdom of the Creator.”  (From Epitome of Copernican Astronomy and Harmonies of the World)

Kepler was a scientist who treasured all the works of the Lord, and he didn’t allow the conventional wisdom of the time stop him from his research and exploration. His work proves that faith and science can coexist in harmony when the scientist loves God wholeheartedly.


God is famous for his wondrous works.
    The Lord is full of mercy and compassion.
God gives food to those who honor him.
    God remembers his covenant forever.
God proclaimed his powerful deeds to his people
    and gave them what had belonged to other nations.

In addition to the stars and the planets, God’s wondrous works include mercy and compassion. When we love God with our whole heart, these things should be our work, too. His handiwork is honesty and justice: those who love the Lord pursue these things as well. Where is God calling you to be an advocate of mercy, compassion, honesty, and justice?


God’s handiwork is honesty and justice;
    all God’s rules are trustworthy—
        they are established always and forever:
        they are fulfilled with truth and right doing.
God sent redemption for his people;
    God commanded that his covenant last forever.
        Holy and awesome is God’s name!

Today is a good day to reflect on your covenant relationship with God. If you say you love him wholeheartedly, do your words, deeds, thoughts, actions, and posts reflect that? Wisdom begins with a reverential trust of the covenant. Keeping God’s laws brings knowledge and redemption. God always does his part in keeping the covenant…are you doing yours?


10 Fear of the Lord is where wisdom begins;
    sure knowledge is for all who keep God’s laws.
        God’s praise lasts forever!

The Works of the Lord are Magnificient by Michelle Robertson

What Lasts Forever

Can you name something that lasts forever? A few things that come to mind for me are chewing gum under a school desk, grudges, a Barbie doll’s haircut, an unflattering picture, the cycle of annual tax bills, and finally, GLITTER. Heaven and earth could all pass away, but glitter will last forever.

I am reminded of a fellow pastor’s office couch after a wedding. The bridesmaids had glitter on their skirts and apparently spent a lot of time waiting on his couch. The preoccupied pastor sat down on Sunday morning to prepare to preach and didn’t notice the glitter. But the congregation did. As he processed into the sanctuary, his black robe was all sparkly across his rumpus. It was even more pronounced as he passed by the sunlight streaming though the side windows. It was glorious.

The poor man spent weeks wiping, lint rolling, vacuuming, etc. to no avail. That pastor has been gone for years, but I bet if you went into his office today, you would still find glitter embedded in the fibers.

Happily, there are other things that last which are more significant and even hopeful. We continue our study of Psalm 111 today. See if you can spot God’s promises of things that last longer than glitter:

Psalm 111 continued (Common English Bible)

God proclaimed his powerful deeds to his people
    and gave them what had belonged to other nations.
God’s handiwork is honesty and justice;
    all God’s rules are trustworthy—
        they are established always and forever:
        they are fulfilled with truth and right doing.

Powerful deeds.

Honesty

Justice.

Trustworthy rules. (Which are good only if you follow them.)

TRUTH.

Right doing.

God sent redemption for his people;
    God commanded that his covenant last forever.
        Holy and awesome is God’s name!
10 Fear of the Lord is where wisdom begins;
    sure knowledge is for all who keep God’s laws.
        God’s praise lasts forever!

This list has so many superlatives, it is breathtaking. Redemption! God’s covenant! God’s name! Knowledge and wisdom! (But only if you keep God’s laws.)

And when we put our lives under the authority of everything that will last forever, we add our voices to the chorus of praise, which also lasts forever.

Are you putting your hope in temporary things? Are you counting on earthly governments to bring justice? Are you investing in a human relationship that may not last? Are you distracted by all of the world’s “glitter” and ignoring the permanence of God’s covenant with you?

Kings and kingdoms will all pass away, but the name of the Lord lasts forever.

His Love Endures Forever by Susie Fitch-Slater

Wondrous Works

It is chilly on the Outer Banks. January and February are my least favorite months here. The wind is aggressive, the sky is mostly gray, and the temperatures are frigid without the promise of snow.

What’s not to like, right?

But there are unexpected days here and there when the wind stops and the sun comes out and that same frigid temperature suddenly feels approachable and even…dare I say it….nice.

Living on the water is a constant reminder of God’s wondrous works, regardless of the weather. My favorite photographer for these devotionals goes to the ocean almost every day to take pictures of the sunrise. She braves the abrasive, sandy wind and bitter “Real Feel Temps” to be present with God as he wakes up the world. If you read these devotionals every day, you have seen the beauty of her work. Michelle’s sense of awe in the presence of God’s majesty comes through every shot. My sense of awe that she is up that early in all kinds of weather is big, too! I thank God for every picture she takes that brings the rest of us, snuggled warm in our beds, into the magnificence of God’s sunrise moments.

Psalm 111 (Common English Bible)

Praise the Lord!
    I thank the Lord with all my heart
    in the company of those who do right, in the congregation.
The works of the Lord are magnificent;
    they are treasured by all who desire them.

It is easy where I live to see the works of the Lord and to proclaim them “magnificient.” There are other works of the Lord that are harder to see: humility, generosity, patience, grace, righteousness, and all those quiet things that we see in God’s people. These works are just as treasured by the Lord and his people.

God’s deeds are majestic and glorious.
    God’s righteousness stands forever.
God is famous for his wondrous works.
    The Lord is full of mercy and compassion.

The Lord is indeed full of mercy and compassion. Are you? Can you show mercy to someone who doesn’t think like you? Do you have compassion for those who are oppressed and forgotten? Is God calling you to reconsider your words?

God gives food to those who honor him.
    God remembers his covenant forever.
God proclaimed his powerful deeds to his people
    and gave them what had belonged to other nations.

God is in the business of righteousness, mercy, creativity, and generosity. May we also be about our Lord’s business this day.

Good Morning, Dolphin by Michelle Robertson