Joel Belz: Two basic steps

MARY REICHARD, HOST: Today is Monday, February 4th. Good morning! This is The World and Everything in It from listener-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Mary Reichard.

NICK EICHER, HOST: And I’m Nick Eicher. Up next, WORLD founder Joel Belz on recognizing the works of God.

JOEL BELZ, FOUNDER: It’s pretty hard to remember something you didn’t know in the first place. And that fact, sooner or later, could 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.

People’s ignorance today on both fronts is profound. They’re ignorant of the simple facts of what is happening in the world. And they’re ignorant of the reality that what is happening is God’s doing.

So most people will never be able to praise God the way he wants them to. That concerns me a lot, because it’s one of the main tasks of this podcast is to help people praise God as they ought.

So here’s a simple two-step outline to help listeners keep current on what God is doing. First, know what’s going on. That means, in good journalistic parlance, know the who, the what, the when, the where, the why, and the how of current events.

We find this repeatedly in Scripture. The Psalmist 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 pretty boring if 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 future generations.

That means your acquaintance with people, with economics, with geography, with history, and so on, is not just optional. You simply can’t give God the praise he’s due until you’ve tucked away some real acquaintance with the details of his work. You can’t let yourself off the hook by saying, “Well, I’m not too 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.

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, “I wonder what memorable things God is doing today.” The difference between those two expressions suggests whether a person has a God-directed heart of praise.

When we fail to mention our great God in such casual conversation, we reinforce, even in our own minds, the inclination that God is really just a distant force, an abstraction who doesn’t matter. That’s a bad enough way to think now. It will be much worse when, as we stand before him face to face and he challenges us to recall his mighty acts, we can’t remember what we never knew.

For WORLD Radio, I’m Joel Belz.

(Photo/Creative Commons)

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