It was great to gather together again this Tuesday and embark on another round of classes. I’m sure each of you, like me, are looking forward to what this semester holds and the new insights we will gain on the character of God as we study His Word together. But before we start with the new, I want to take one last look back at the old. Two women, Julie Luse and Doni Stoner, share with us today about their time in the Psalms class. I love how Doni’s art and Julie’s words paint a picture for us of our majestic God who stoops to love us.
The God who Stoops
by Julie Luse
For years I thought of God as this great big force that is high above the clouds – calling the shots and ready to strike on evil forces. Somewhat of a spiritual babysitter. For many more years I thought I could earn his love by being so good and sweet and obedient. Those lofty ideas slowly chipped away as my theories dissolved in the true light of God’s character–full of compassion, intimacy, forgiveness and grace. I couldn’t earn his love any faster than I could lose it. The God I know today is near and thoughtful and His passion is not that of tyrant ready to strike.
What’s interesting is that, though I’m desperate to know his character more and more, I have continued to look for it only in specific places of the Bible. The New Testament and the life of Jesus give me great insight into God’s character, but I’m embarrassed at the dust growing in my Old Testament. He’s gotten a bad rap there.
So when the idea of doing a bible study on the book Psalms presented itself, you might see why I was dragging my feet. My opinion was that Psalms was a book of over dramatic songs and poems, old-fashioned longings of ancient problems.
Well, that right there is a great example why God is in charge and I am not. I couldn’t have been more wrong.
God loves to surprise us.
I take away from this study the discovery that Psalms and the whole Old Testament candidly reveal the deep heart and compassion God has for his people. And that God cares about it all, even the small stuff. He’s intimate and He is a God who stoops.
Yes. He stoops.
In Psalm 113 we get a glimpse of the greatness of God’s stooping and depth of it.
The Lord is exalted over all the nations, his glory above the heavens. Who is like the Lord our God, the One who sits enthroned on high, who stoops down to look on the heavens and the earth? (Psalm 113:4-7 NIV)
He is way above Heaven, yet he stoops down to see Heaven. Then he stoops down even further to see earth.
But hold the phone. All this stooping is leading somewhere.
He raises the poor from the dust and lifts the needy from the ash heap; (Psalm 113: 7 NIV)
He stoops down to the lowest of the low–the misfortunate, the unwanted, the diseased, the rejected, the worthless. They surfaced around this ash heap because there wasn’t a place for them elsewhere.
The ash heap – a gathering place of the outcasts. It was a garbage dump.
“The sun would warm the ashes during the day and the ashes would keep the people warm at night. It was the one place that people avoided going near, but our God visits rejected people and changes their lives. “ –Warren Weirsbe, Be Exultant.
So he not only lifts them out of their mess, he gives them something more valuable than any monetary need.
“he seats them with princes, with the princes of his people.” (Psalm 113: 8 NIV)
If this isn’t an inspiration for the Cinderella story I don’t know what is. And if the Lord stoops down to the lowest, then surely He does the same for all of those in between. The result of all this stooping is our God giving us worth! Telling us who we really are. His message to his people is that we are heirs and heiresses, sons and daughters. It doesn’t matter what the world thinks of us. It doesn’t matter what we appear to be worth — based on the opinions of others. We are worth great value, and we have a high purpose.
And if our God stoops like that with purpose and intent to give worth to his children, then shouldn’t we, those that follow him, strive to imitate his passion with others?
Found in an unforeseen corner of the Bible.
Put there by my unconventional God.
He’s good, real good.
Don’t ya think?
By Doni Stoner
As I reflect upon our study in the Psalms this past semester, I am reminded of an oil painting class I taught a few years ago. I had been teaching art for quite a while. In previous classes my students had discovered the basics of forms, how light travels and other fine art concepts. Now it was time to put their knowledge to work by creating a majestic piece of art.
I felt the same way in our Psalms class. Renee took information I had studied in the past and brought it to life. She gave me a fresh new perspective . . . creating a full picture of our Majestic God. With our hearts as the canvas, she applied another layer of color with each class. The Lord, the master artist; she, the brush. Renee’s transparency brought authenticity . . . inspiring others towards the same.
As I look back I see the mighty hand of God. Our God is an awe-inspiring Majestic Majesty. He creates His masterpiece within our souls.