Skip to main content

Joel BelzVoices Joel Belz

His mighty acts

Knowing the details of God’s work is crucial to giving Him praise

His mighty acts

(Corinne Dubreuil/Abaca/Sipa via AP)

It’s pretty hard to remember something you didn’t know in the first place. That fact could, sooner or later, put a lot of people in jeopardy when they come face to face with God.

God tells us repeatedly in the Bible to remember His mighty acts. That involves two crucial steps: You have to know the acts themselves. And you have to recognize them as coming from God.

We live in a time when people’s ignorance on both fronts is profound. Most people are ignorant, first, of the simple facts of what is happening in the world. Even more people tend to be ignorant of the reality that what is happening is God’s doing.

That means that most people will never be able to praise God the way He wants them to.

All this involves one of the main tasks of a magazine like WORLD. For in a sense, our ultimate mission is to help people praise God as they ought.

You can enhance your sense of praise by daring to give God public credit for what you believe deep in your heart He has actually done.

So, following the simple two-step outline noted above, WORLD’s assignment has two key parts. First, we need to help readers know and be conversant with the details of what God is doing. That means, in good journalistic parlance, helping them know the who, the what, the when, the where, the why, and the how.

We find this repeatedly in Scripture. The psalmist, for example, knew the details of Israel’s frequent deliverances—and he knew those details so well he could rehearse them again and again hundreds of years later. Such remembering brought praise to God—but it would have been just theoretical and boring if the vivid details hadn’t been part of the account.

We can infer that it’s important to learn the significant details of world affairs and to pass them on to our children and others we teach. Such details might properly be seen as part of “all the counsel of God” (Acts 20:27).

A profound implication is that your acquaintance with people, with events, with geography, with history, and even with ethics and philosophy, are no longer just optional interests. All those categories take on new importance as you increasingly discover you can’t give God the praise He’s due until you’ve tucked away some real acquaintance with the details of His work.

Not that we’re all obligated to become Ph.D.s in esoteric subjects—but neither can we casually let ourselves off the hook by saying, “Well, I just was never very good with maps, you know.” Now you see a map as the geographic outline of something God has done, or one more reminder to remember.

Christians may well be just as deficient as the population at large on this score. There’s little evidence to suggest that believers take world affairs much more seriously than unbelievers do. But they should.

The second level of this approach, however, is even more important. A believer’s perpetual instinct should not so much be to ask, “I wonder what’s happening today,” as it is to ask, in effect, “I wonder what memorable things God is doing today.” In a profound way, the difference between those two expressions boils down to whether a person has a God-directed heart of praise.

It’s possible to cultivate such a heart. You can enhance your sense of praise, even in this secular age, by daring to give God public credit for what you believe deep in your heart He has actually done. That means, when you see a magnificent sunset, you specifically thank God instead of muttering a mealy-mouthed reference to Mother Nature. It means explicitly noting God’s involvement with current affairs rather than suggesting “that’s the way things seem to have worked out.”

It takes surprising courage to do something so simple in company where most people have only a secular bent of mind. We’re afraid of being known as zealots or religious fanatics.

Yet when we fail to mention our great God in such casual conversation, we do something worse than silencing the witness we ought to be giving. We reinforce, even in our own minds, the inclination that God is really just a distant force, an abstraction who doesn’t ultimately matter. That’s a bad enough way to think now. It will be much worse when, as we come before Him face to face and He challenges us to recall His mighty acts, we can’t remember what we never knew.

Comments

  • Xion's picture
    Xion
    Posted: Sun, 01/27/2019 10:15 pm

    Here is how I daily remind myself of God's mighty acts.  It is based on Romans 1 and the most complex thing in the universe, i.e. the human brain.  When I interact with other people, like a cashier or waitor or anyone, what I see is the impossible which is therefore miraculous. 

    People picture something in their minds and use symbolic language to communicate that thought across the room with vocal patterns creating sound waves which are received by audio sensors such that the image is recreated in another mind.  What is conveyed may be something trivial like some drama or humor or subtle innuendo.  That complex creatures focus so often on the trivial indicates just how miraculous and excellent our existence is.

    It is self evident to everyone that all of this is a miracle of God.  Yet the most popular explanation for how this all came to be is that ancient dust caused it to be so for no particular reason.  Instead they use their collective imagination to declare that nature is our creator.  I think about all this as I interact with people.  I wonder how they could be missing the obvious.  And I pray for them, that their eyes would be opened.