This session of Jim Class was inspired by the audio daily devotional I do for our church. I send a phone message through our church calling app every Monday through Friday. I try to follow a theme, and this past week’s theme was “Come, Magnify the Lord With Me.”
The premise is that we have the ability to magnify (make bigger) everything in our lives. Whether it’s a problem with our kids, a sickness or injury, or a financial strain, it seems we have mastered the art of letting people know when there’s trouble.
When I worked for a counseling agency, over 20 years ago, I attended a seminar on communication. The speaker had everyone in the room cover their watches with their hands.
Then he asked us to picture some fine details about our watches. He asked what color they were, what color was the face, were the numbers Arabic or Roman, was there a second hand, was there a day and date feature, and many other things about our watches.
Then he told us to look at them briefly and cover them up again. He asked us if we were correct in our descriptions. Several of us (yes, myself included) were obviously very proud of our powers of observation. This pride was evidenced by those who were sitting up straighter, with lungs expanded and smug looks on their faces.
He then asked us, “What time is it?” The proud group became crestfallen and red-faced as we obviously hadn’t looked at that detail. He then stated his theme for the session, “What You Focus on, is what You See.”
That is going to be the focus of Jim Class this week, but with a twist; “What You Focus on, Gets Bigger.”
Psalm 34:1 I will bless the Lord at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth. 2 My soul shall make its boast in the Lord; The humble shall hear of it and be glad. 3 Oh, magnify the Lord with me, And let us exalt His name together. 4 I sought the Lord, and He heard me, And delivered me from all my fears. (NKJV)
The Bible uses the word magnify in reference to making things bigger. But the question I have is, “Does it literally make things bigger, or do they just appear to be bigger?” When we look at things under a magnifying glass, the object we are observing doesn’t grow. It only appears bigger under the glass.
Wonderopolis.com describes the effect this way, “A magnifying glass is actually the simplest form of a basic microscope. It consists of a single convex lens that magnifies an object when the glass is held up to it. … When they pass through a magnifying glass, the convex lens bends the parallel rays so that they converge and create a virtual image on your eyes’ retinas.”
The word that stands out to me in this definition is virtual. Virtual implies not real. Something virtual is not actually present. The ant that is under the magnifying glass is not really three inches long. It just appears to be.
We hear talk of virtual reality coming from the computer industry. The programs and games have been developed to improve the aesthetics of the online experience, but those things are not real.
I have seen videos of people using virtual reality goggles or headsets, and they trip and fall, walk into walls or people, jump up and down, yell and gasp, and even are brought to tears by what they are viewing in the virtual world. But it isn’t real!
Before I get too far off into the weeds, let me bring this idea into a logical flow. We can magnify things with our imagination, our words, and our actions. Typically, what we magnify is something that isn’t real, or if it is real, isn’t really as big as we have made it out to be.
“This headache is killing me!”
“Those apples were as big as my head!”
“That fish was THIS long.”
These are all examples of what we would call exaggerations – very similar to magnifying. If we look back at Psalm 34 and the word magnify, I believe we can create some perspective on what we are being instructed to do by King David.
The actual word magnify is used 19 times in the KJV of the Bible. The Hebrew/Greek words translated magnify are used 119 times, but it isn’t always translated magnify. It is used as magnify, magnified, make great, grew, become great, grown, exceeded, and many derivations of each of those words (Biblegateway.com). But, in context, they are all referencing something that got bigger. But when I did my initial study of the word, I only looked up magnify, as it is spelled and used in the KJV.
There are an endless number of things in our lives that could be magnified to the point that they seem insurmountable, that they become a major obstacle – even to the point that other aspects of life get ignored.
Financial trouble can be debilitating – work stress can create a difficult environment at home – unexpected sicknesses can create problems in both of the previously mentioned areas. But when trouble comes – what do we dwell on?
Psalm 34: 3 Oh, magnify the Lord with me, And let us exalt His name together. (NKJV)
This verse is the focus of Jim Class – but what comes before?
Psalm 34:1 Psalm 34:1 I will bless the Lord at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth. (NKJV)
The first verse of Psalm 34 says, “I will bless the Lord at all times.” This is a concept that is commonly met with trepidation by many who read or hear it – “AT ALL TIMES.”
Phrases that imply constant attention to a given act are usually met with the question, “How can I do anything, all the time?” The simple answer is, “We are always doing something, and that’s all the time.” It sounds trite, but that doesn’t make it wrong.
A better answer is, “We need to train ourselves to be conscious of God all the time.” That way, when the difficult things arise, we are more likely to have a Godly response. Especially if that training involves, “Renewing our minds,” as we’re instructed in Romans 12:2.
We then need to take a closer look at what comes after our call to “magnify the Lord” in Psalm 34.
Psalm 34: 4 I sought the Lord, and He heard me, And delivered me from all my fears. (NKJV)
Does this really say that “the Lord…delivered me from all my fears?” Yes, but only following the instruction to magnify and seek Him.
It comes down to a very simple concept. We can build things up that actually have a beginning and end and cause them to be such an obstacle that we are hindered, or we can build something up – God – who doesn’t have a beginning or and end, and can’t be bigger than He really is – particularly as big as He could/should be to us.
It could be better stated – what we focus on gets bigger!