Author Archive

Chains

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It’s not a sin to live in Sodom and Gomorrah, but Sodom and Gomorrah should not live in us.  No matter the location, size or demographics of your city, the alluring pull of the world is ever-present.  And with social media and the Internet, our city’s limits have expanded to vast dimensions – and so have the rivals for our hearts.

We were created to love, but we are warned “not to love the world nor the things in the world” (1 John 2:15).  When we do, we marry our identity, purpose and affection to something other than Jesus.  It’s as though we handcraft idols to worship and grant control of our lives.  These modernized idols are usually not made of stone, wood or gold, but manifest in possessions, comfort, approval, accomplishment and control.

Regardless of how patiently and subtlety we may have been wooed – regardless of how adamantly we may deny possessing them – God is calling us to turn our back on these idols.  We must destroy them by seeing them for what they are, breaking off the power we’ve granted them and looking to Jesus to set our hearts free.  Jesus warns that we “cannot serve two masters.”  We cannot wholly serve one without “hating” the other (Matthew 6:24).

Oh, you might selectively love God, but when His way and your expectation do not align, you will rebel and cling to your idol.  God says to you, “Find contentment in Me.  I know what is best for you,” but you answer with the voice of your idol, “I must have this – I deserve this – and since You will not give it to me, I will get it for myself.”  A divided heart is always conflicted and never truly free to serve God.  Wake up!  See the chains enslaving you to these idols!

Consider Lot.  He and his family actually lived in Sodom and Gomorrah where Lot was a city elder.  And when God called them to leave before He judged those cities, He warned them to escape and “not look back” or they would also be swept away.  But Lot’s wife did look back and lost her life (Genesis 19:17-26).  Something behind her was more compelling to her heart than what lay ahead.

God has called us out.  He has commanded us to turn from idols to serve the true and living God.  By His gracious Spirit, He has empowered us to escape their lies and be set free in His truth.  Jesus died and rose again to break these chains and bind our wandering hearts to Him.  Why in the world would we look back?!  But if we waver in heeding God’s warning, Jesus has three words to bring us to our senses: “Remember Lot’s wife” (Luke 17:32).

But that should not be our story.  We are not of those who shrink back to destruction, but of those who have faith to the preserving of the soul (Hebrews 10:39). It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery (Galatians 5:1).

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© 2017 Tim McKenzie
On Every Word Ministries
www.OnEveryWord.com

The Lord of Hosts

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You and I seek stability.  Stable foundations.  Stable relationships.  Stable employment.  Stable finances.  Stable health.  Most of us work very hard to establish and maintain a reasonable level of predictable outcomes and a future that unfolds according to our plan.  We like calm seas, sure footing and world peace.

But in spite our best efforts, we live and learn that life is inherently unstable and this is unsettling.  For those who like control, there is simply so much beyond our control.  The earth gives way.  Things crumble.  Mountains quake.  Oceans roar.  Enemies rise up.  Fear grips us.

Yet amid all of life’s uncertainty and turmoil, we are invited to find refuge – a stronghold – a place of safety – in God.  Not in some distant, impersonal heavenly being, but the One who is “a very present help in trouble” (Psalm 46:1).  Near.  Aware.  Available.  Able.

For He is “The Lord of Hosts” – “Jehovah Sabaoth” – “The God of Heaven’s Armies.”  Able to change the face of the earth or subdue raging enemies by His Word alone, He is also Supreme Commander-in-Chief over multitudes of angels ready to execute His command.  Everything in all creation bows the knee to His divine authority.  And from His unshakable and immovable throne in heaven, this Sovereign of the Universe tenderly speaks to our hearts: “Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10).

There’s only one problem with accepting this amazing invitation, we must “be still” – literally “cease striving.”  Ha!  You know very well that we excel at striving.  And striving means we trust in our plan and our ways rather than His.  Admit it.  We’d rather act than wait.  We’d rather worry than rest.  We’d rather fear than trust.  The crazy thing is that as we seek refuge in Him, a peace that passes all understanding comes even though nothing else may yet have changed.

For the kind of ceasing commanded here is not passive, but calls forth a faith that actively clings to God and His Word just as you would cling to a rock in a storm.  It’s the kind of faith that rests in both His Power and His Presence.  In the God who is able to deliver and able to protect.  In the God who rules nations and melts mountains, but also knows the ever-diminishing number of hairs on my head.  The God of unlimited power and unfathomable, intimate love.

Who is this King of Glory?  The Lord of Hosts is His Name.

“Cease striving and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” The Lord of Hosts is with us; The God of Jacob is our stronghold.  Psalm 46:10-11

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© 2017 Tim McKenzie
On Every Word Ministries
www.OnEveryWord.com

 

Crossroads

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Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls” – Jeremiah 6:16

As we travel the road of life, we pass through many intersections.  The most significant one is located at Broad Way and Narrow Way –  the way of life and the way of death – the way of joy everlasting and the way of eternal separation.  Since these roads lead in opposite directions, an intentional decision must be made – we must choose which way to turn.

You and I flew by this intersection time after time like it wasn’t even there (Proverbs 14:12).  We continued cruising down the many, spacious lanes of the Broad Way not even noticing that narrow, one-lane road. Then Jesus opened our eyes and we saw the street sign for the first time.  Now we see – it’s not a man-made road, but a divine one – one bought and paid for by Jesus Himself and paved with His precious blood.  This is no mere intersection, but a Crossroad.

Having seen His sign and made that turn, we head down a new road – His Road – and that road ultimately leads to heaven in the Presence of our Savior.  Until that day, our journey is filled with both great opportunities and great challenges – divine purpose and earthly temptation – the upward call of heaven and the alluring sound of the Broad Way.

Although we have a heavenly destination in our eternal GPS, we still come to various intersections and we still have choices to make.  Some intersections are clearly marked by Scripture that we must not turn down that road, but others reveal the gracious choices God sovereignly allows us to make while on the journey.  But how and when do we turn?  How do we know which way is best?  What if we make the “wrong” choice and have a head-on collision with failure or hardship?     

Here are few key points to remember from the Owner’s Manual:

  1. Stay on God’s path – sin is a dead-end street; confess it and turn around quickly – 1 John 1:9
  2. Ask for directions – God is listening and ready to answer our prayers for wisdom – James 1:5
  3. Look for signs – God’s will is often marked by visible signs both to guide and to warn – Matt 7:7
  4. Fasten your seatbelt – it’s a cross country trip so expect ups and downs – John 16:33
  5. Keep your eyes on the road – comparing yourself to others leads to envy or pride – Gal 1:10
  6. God knows the way – He is not only with you, but goes before you – Psalm 139:5
  7. Drive friendly – watch for those with car trouble, flat tires or who are out of gas – John 13:34
  8. Fill up with premium – you can’t be both full of yourself and the Holy Spirit – Gal 5:16
  9. Don’t speed – God numbers our days and has plenty for us to do along the way – Psalm 90:12
  10. Enjoy the drive – God makes known to us the path of life and it’s full of joy! – Psalm 16:11

I will instruct you and teach you in the way which you should go; I will counsel you with My eye upon you”  – Psalm 32:8

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© 2017 Tim McKenzie
On Every Word Ministries
www.OnEveryWord.com

The Lion King

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While I’ve never been in the wild and heard a lion roar, I know I couldn’t sleep through it – unmistakable and terrifying, I would be wide-eyed with my heart pounding.  The scriptures warn us, “Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour” 1 Peter 5:8.

A lion usually does not roar when stalking because that would warn the unsuspecting prey of its whereabouts.  (“Does a lion roar in the forest when he has no prey?” Amos 3:4).  Lions roar to communicate a message – especially at night – to intimidate and lay claim over their territory and their victims.

Satan is no different.  He seeks to drive us into the darkness of doubt by fear and intimidation – fear of missing out, fear of not getting what we want or think we deserve, fear that God is holding out on us, fear of loss or pain or unhappiness, fear of the future, fear of rejection, fear of ________.   These fears exploit “the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and the pride of life” 1 John 2:16.  And like a lion, “sin is crouching at the door; and its desire is for you” Genesis 4:7.

I’m fairly certain I wouldn’t want to be eaten by a lion – especially if he ate me one bite at a time.  But that’s how I think the devil feeds on most of us.  It’s usually not one big bite and it’s over – it’s more like one bite at a time as he comes to devour our hearts and minds.  Slowly, but surely, we are consumed.  So, when we retreat into these fears, we lose life, joy and relationship one bite at a time as we are pulled into the grip of our adversary.

But there is another Lion in the jungle who has “overcome.”  He is the Lamb who bore our sin on the cross, triumphed over Satan, conquered death, and rose in victory as the “Lion of the tribe of Judah” (Revelation 5:5).  And this Lion is greater than the one who is prowling around seeking to devour you (1 John 4:4).

The question is not which lion is greater; the question is whose roar do you hear?

The devil roars to drive you into sin –  to steal, kill and destroy.  The Lion of the tribe of Judah roars to proclaim His victory over sin and call you to walk with Him by faith in strength, security and fullness of joy.  And as the Lover of our soul, His mighty roar drives the enemy of our soul back into the darkness of defeat empty-handed.

Straying from Jesus’ side, we are vulnerable, but staying near Him, we are invincible – for He is both the Lamb of God and the Lion King.

Do not fear, for I am with you; do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.”
– Isaiah 41:10

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© 2017 Tim McKenzie
On Every Word Ministries
www.OnEveryWord.com

Stepping on the scale

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The time between Thanksgiving and New Year’s is, as the song says, the most wonderful time of the year, but it is also fraught with peril.  Having been buried alive by a blizzard of endless food and tasty treats, many of us begin to dig out with a New Year’s resolution to drop a few pounds.  Although we tried our best to ignore the tighter-fitting clothes and the last notch we’d moved to on our belts, our worst fears were confirmed when we finally stepped on the scale.  Sadly, the numbers don’t lie.

After swearing to never do that again, we stepped off the scales promising to do better.  Establishing and maintaining a healthy lifestyle is certainly a worthy pursuit.  After all, carrying around too much extra baggage is not only frustrating, but can also put unnecessary stress on your body.  So, if you’ve taken a 2017 “do better” oath, please don’t overdo it, but stick with it.

However, there’s another weight that cannot be measured by our waistline, seen in a mirror or captured as a number on a scale, but is far more deadly.  It is the weight of sin – a burden we were never designed to bear.  When we do, we ultimately cry out like David, “my guilt overwhelms me — it is a burden too heavy to bear.  I am exhausted and completely crushed” (Psalm 38:4 NLT).  All of us can identify with David’s diagnosis.  And right now, some of us may also be enduring the heavy burden of sin.  We’ve been avoiding the spiritual scales, but we know it’s true.

But I have good news – there is a cure!  Jesus “bore our griefs and carried our sorrows” (Isaiah 53:4 ESV).  “He was pierced through for our transgressions; He was crushed for our iniquities” (Isaiah 53:5 NASB).  “He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness” (1 Peter 2:24 NASB).

If you are tired of carrying around this oppressive weight, listen to Jesus calling, “Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28 NIV).  That’s the voice of the sin-bearer – the Lamb of God who takes away all our sins (John 1:29) – past, present and future – those sins that once eternally separated us from Him and those which ensnare us each day.

All we must do is come to Him.  And because of His great love for us, “if we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9 ESV).  Then your cry will not be one of weariness or despair, but a testimony of glory and praise, “Blessed be the Lord, who daily bears our burden, the God who is our salvation!” (Psalm 68:19 NASB).  This is the joyful shout of renewed fellowship with Jesus.

And when our hearts are lighter, we are free to fulfill the law of Christ and “bear one another’s burdens” (Galatians 6:2 NASB).  You see, when we are weighted down with sins, we lose our Holy Spirit-given capacity to help others – to lighten their load – to share their burdens – to not allow them to be crushed by a hostile world – to put our arms around them and bring them to the healing arms of Jesus.  Jesus stretched out on a cross and laid down His life to show us that loving means bearing.  After all, “love bears all things” (1 Corinthians 13:7).  Now go lose some weight.

“Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” – Jesus
Matthew 11:28-30 ESV

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© 2017 Tim McKenzie
On Every Word Ministries
www.OnEveryWord.com

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