Sitting out in nature comes with great gifts and even greater responsibility. First, scripture basically says that we can know God fully through nature, so much so that none of us have any excuse for not believing. Specifically, this appears in Romans 1:20.
“For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.”
Stop and think about this for a moment. According to the word of God, you can know God’s eternal power and divine nature in the things God has made. So, if you want to understand the invisible attributes of God, then all you have to do is go outside and have a look around. What you need to know is right there. This isn’t my opinion, it’s the word of God.
In fact, God takes so seriously the undeniable obviousness of his identity in nature that he expects for us to respond. The book of Romans goes on in the next verse to say,
“For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened.” (Romans 20:21)
Romans goes on to say a few verses later that because people refused to acknowledge him, God “gave them over to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done.”
I doubt you want that, so what can you do?
The answer is clear in the text. A two-fold problem exists. First, people fail to honor God. Second they fail to give thanks. Let’s start with how do we honor God.
Three ways you can honor God
- Praise God. I use a three-fold formula of praise based based on Psalm 18. I can do another blog post and expound on this more fully, but in short the formula is: tell God you love him, acknowledge who he is, and what he has done. So for example, a short praise pray might be, “I love you Lord. You are more forgiving than I deserve. I praise you for the countless times you have forgiven me.” Parts of praise are similar to gratitude, but praise is also quite distinct. Again, I’m not going to break that down today, but I can circle back to this in another post. For now just know that honoring God involves praising him.
- Be obedient. If in the process of learning about God you recognize an expectation God has, such as, loving your enemies, then honoring him involves abiding by his commands and expectations. To do otherwise is to disrespect God.
- Give witness. When God blesses you, tell the story to others. When you witness God doing extraordinary things in the world, tell the story to others. Praising God as described above honors him directly. Giving witness to the wonder of who he is and what he has done, honor him before others
Giving thanks is self-explanatory. Be grateful and express that gratitude to God regularly. At a minimum, I journal three things I am grateful for every morning. This is a simple and yet a profound discipline. Many studies have shown great benefits from gratitude, butmore importantly gratitude makes glad the heart of God. So, even if we got nothing from gratitude, we still should exercise being thankful regularly.
Putting this in perspective
Imagine you give someone a fantastic gift. You know they really need it. And yet, they neither acknowledge or even use the gift. How do you then feel about them? How enthusiastic do you feel about giving them? I suspect not so much.
Now flip this. What is your attitude toward someone who receives a gift from you and immediately puts it to use. They express how grateful they are and tell you what a difference it has made. Then on top of that, you discover they are running around telling everyone how amazing and generous you are. Now what is your attitude toward them? How willing are you to shower or entrust them with more? I suspect very likely.
Why wouldn’t God feel and respond the same way to us, depending on how we respond to gifts he places in our live? My experience has been that when I ignore direction from God, he suddenly seems strangely silent. Should this even surprise me?
Conversely, I have discovered that when I do honor God and give thanks a flood gate of providential gifts emerge. Again, why wouldn’t they, if we are being grateful, cheerful, and obedient recipients of his gifts.
Questions: How have you seen God at work recently? How can you acknowledge and praise God for this? How do you need to respond? Or in other words, what would obedience look like? Who could you tell about what you see God doing right now?
A Collect for Faithful Response: Holy God, who reveals himself in all that is around us, forgive us for not acknowledging you and receive our heart-felt thanks, praise, and obedience, so that we are not given over to futile thinking and foolish hearts, and most importantly, so we make glad your heart, in Christ name we pray. Amen.