Archive for the ‘Grace & Peace’ Category

A Sure Foundation

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When the foundations are being destroyed, what can the righteous do? Psalm 11:3 NIV

“Violence is everywhere!” I cry, but You do not come to save. Must I see these evil deeds forever? Why must I watch all this misery? Wherever I look, I see destruction and violence. I am surrounded by people who love to argue and fight. The law has become paralyzed, and there is no justice in the courts. Indeed, the wicked intimidate the innocent. For this reason, justice is perverted. Habakkuk 1:2-4 NLT/NET

Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; who substitute darkness for light and light for darkness; who substitute bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter! Isaiah 5:20 NASB

Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a disgrace to any people. Proverbs 14:34 NASB

The way of the wicked is like deep darkness; they do not know over what they stumble. Proverbs 4:19 ESV

For the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God. James 1:20 ESV

My soul is in deep anguish. How long, O Lord, how long? Psalm 6:3 NIV

I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? My HELP comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth. Psalm 121:1-2 ESV

God is our REFUGE and STRENGTH, a very present HELP in trouble. Psalm 46:1 ESV

I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the GOODNESS of the Lord In the land of the living. WAIT for the Lord; be STRONG and let your heart take COURAGE; yes, wait for the Lord. Psalm 27:13-14 NASB

The Lord has ESTABLISHED His throne in the heavens, and HIS SOVEREIGNTY RULES over all. Psalm 103:19 NASB

For KINGSHIP belongs to the Lord, and HE RULES over the nations. Psalm 22:28 ESV

“BE STILL, and KNOW that I am God. I will be EXALTED among the nations, I will be EXALTED in the earth!” Psalm 46:10 ESV

“If My people who are called by My Name HUMBLE themselves, and PRAY and SEEK My face and TURN from their wicked ways, then I will HEAR from heaven and will FORGIVE their sin and HEAL their land.” 2 Chronicles 7:14 NASB

“When the earth quakes and its people live in turmoil, I am the One who KEEPS its foundations FIRM.” Psalm 75:3 NLT

“[And] for you who fear My Name, the sun of righteousness shall RISE with HEALING in its wings.” Malachi 4:2 ESV

REND your heart and not your garments. RETURN to the Lord your God, for He is GRACIOUS and COMPASSIONATE, slow to anger and ABOUNDING in LOVE. Joel 2:13 NIV

Even in darkness LIGHT DAWNS for the upright, for those who are gracious and compassionate and righteous. Psalm 112:4 NIV

If we walk in the LIGHT, as He is in the LIGHT, we have fellowship with one another, and the BLOOD of JESUS His Son CLEANSES us from all sin. 1 John 1:7 ESV

REJOICE with those who rejoice, WEEP with those who weep. LIVE in HARMONY with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is HONORABLE in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live PEACEABLY with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God… Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with GOOD. Romans 12:15-19, 21 ESV

Then shall your LIGHT break forth like the dawn, and your HEALING shall spring up speedily; your RIGHTEOUSNESS shall go before you; the GLORY of the Lord shall be your rear guard. Isaiah 58:8 ESV

Lord, I stand in AWE of your deeds. Repeat them in our day, in our time make them known; in wrath REMEMBER MERCY. Habakkuk 3:2 NIV


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Nestled on a grassy hillside 25 miles north of Jerusalem, you’ll find some excavated stones with lots of scattered pieces of pottery quietly paving the ground. But 3,500 years ago, Joshua made a home for the tabernacle in Shiloh and it became the center of worship of Jehovah God for the next 369 years.

As we stood on that hilltop, we imagined we were among the twelve tribes who gathered to worship as the glorious Presence of God filled the Holy of Holies. Families would bring a sacrificial meal, and once offered, would break the pot as both the meal and the vessel were considered holy unto the Lord. And so, the fragments on which we walked took on whole new meaning.

Can anything beautiful come from such brokenness?

For it was on these fragments a barren, broken and weeping Hannah walked to the door of the tabernacle to beg the Lord for a child (1 Samuel 1:20). God poured the oil of joy onto her pain, answered her prayer and blessed her with a son named Samuel.

And Shiloh had visited us before we visited Shiloh.

After the birth of her first child, our daughter-in-law experienced a miscarriage and cried out to the Lord for another child. God heard her prayer and in February of this year, Samuel was born to Mollie and Jon.

A year ago, our daughter called in tears with news the fertility specialist said her chances of pregnancy were very slim. Yes, the Lord had already blessed her with three wonderful children, but she longed for a fourth. We agreed to ignore the test results and, in faith, cling to God. Within three months, God answered her prayer and just 2 days ago, Hannah was born to Jenn and Ellis.

It’s humbling to think my wife and I were in Shiloh in April, at the very spot where Hannah prayed. Standing on the brokenness of sacrifice, we were overwhelmed with the beauty and goodness of God. How grateful we are for two daughters (and two husbands) of faith and a faithful God.

Is there brokenness you need to bring to God and ask Him to transform into something beautiful? It’s time to go to Shiloh.

“And in due time Hannah conceived and bore a son, and she called his name Samuel, for she said, “I have asked for him from the Lord.” 1 Samuel 1:20 ESV


Make Me Smile

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Looking into the face of another, there’s nothing quite like a smile. Think about the face-to-face interaction between a parent and child. Parents spend hours of face time trying to get their newborn to smile. Then finally, around 6-8 weeks old, it happens, and mom and dad rejoice! For what cannot yet be communicated with words, is so easily said with a smile. With such limited understanding and literally zero vocabulary, a baby speaks volumes by something so simple – and so do we.

As one of the very first things we learn, it stands as one of the most powerful God-given powers we possess. Intricately woven into our hearts and minds, smiles make the face shine and put light in the eyes. Some of us try to smooth out those smile lines as we age, but they really are a beautiful testimony to our outlook on life. They stand as visible evidence that things are well with our souls – that we love laughter and, as the proverb says, “smile at the future.”

Isn’t it interesting all people smile in the same language? It’s truly an expression that transcends all boundaries. It puts joy, optimism and delight on display. It radiates warmth and communicates acceptance. It makes you feel welcome and draws you in. We cannot overestimate its impact because it’s proven to be highly contagious.

The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make His face shine on you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn His face toward you and give you peace. Numbers 6:24-26 NIV

In the Hebrew, grace, often translated favor, means “to be cheerful; to bestow delight and joy.” It is highly connected to both a greeting and the face. Because of this, the Scriptures frequently couple it with the phrases “in the eyes of” or “in the sight of.”

With the eyes of your heart, look up at the face of God and one feature should be sharply in focus. Do you see it? He’s not frowning or shaking His head, He’s got a big smile and “yes” written all over His face. And oh, how He loves to shine His amazing grace on you in Jesus – not just in salvation, but throughout all your days.

You have much to smile about today. 😃

Make Your face shine on Your servant; save me in Your steadfast love! Psalm 31:16 ESV

Just another day?

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Since Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year, shouldn’t we be astounded that the Eternal Son of God would willingly clothe His divine glory with flesh?

Shouldn’t we be speechless at the One who spoke everything into existence by the power of His Word willingly reduced to unintelligible sounds in the arms of His mother?

Shouldn’t we stand in awe as we consider His long and humbling journey from the right hand of the Father to the womb of a virgin as Creator became creature?

Jesus. Immanuel. God with us. The Promised One. The perfect Lamb of God born to die for our sins. His birthday was the day in the fullness of time when God’s Incarnate Love could no longer be restrained. It was that perfect day when the dawn of redeeming grace pierced our sinful darkness and heaven’s joy could not be contained.

Yes, Jesus came that holy night long ago and that’s good news, but the best news is that He is still coming for you. This Christmas, may Jesus be born anew in our hearts as we fall on our knees in worship – unable to describe the indescribable. But where words fall short, wonder says it all.

By common confession, great is the mystery of godliness: He who was revealed in the flesh, was vindicated in the Spirit, seen by angels, proclaimed among the nations, believed on in the world, taken up in glory. Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift! 1 Timothy 3:16 & 2 Corinthians 9:15

Spread the Word!


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My eyes are open,
But it’s so dark I cannot see.
Weary, empty, thirsty,
I only feel the rolling of the waves.

The current moves me further from
Where I thought I’d be
Where I need to be
Where I should be.

I am drifting
My feet hang over the depths of the abyss
My failures surround me like a vast ocean
I am immersed in a sea of regret.

Yet I am strangely content.
I deserve this.
Unfit for the land of the living
Unworthy of the safety of dry ground.

Preserved by only an old wooden beam,
Unsure how I continue to cling.

“You are not alone.
I am near — here.
That beam is stronger than you know,
And it bears more weight than your own.

Feel the power of My grip
Making sure you never let go.
My love is far deeper than any abyss,
My grace much stronger than any current.

You are Mine and your life is in My hands.
I am your Rock and your Redeemer.
Though you cannot see shore, I can.

If the Lord had not been my help,
My soul would soon have lived in the land of silence.
When I thought, “My foot is slipping,”
Your steadfast love, O Lord, held me up.
Psalm 94:17-18

Holy Ground

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Lord, You alone are my portion and my cup; You make my lot secure.  The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance. Psalm 16:5-6 NIV/ESV

As David hikes up to a higher vantage point and looks out on the landscape of his life, he compares the many blessings he has received from the Lord to a choice piece of land with spacious boundaries – the sight of which he warmly describes as a beautiful inheritance.  With the eyes of his heart, he sees God as both his portion (present) and his lot (future).

Lands, whether an entire nation or your own home-sweet-home, are almost always fixed – limited in size and clearly defined.  But the wonders of God’s love and abundance of His blessings are boundless and without borders – something graciously given as a present possession, yet something we expectantly long for as a future inheritance.  There is both joy now and joy to come for “in His Presence, there is always fullness of joy” Psalm 16:11.

And it seems rather fitting that David’s son, Solomon, is the one who writes a song about another kind of inheritance from the Lord: “Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward” Psalm 127:3 ESV.  As parents, we tend to think about leaving our children an inheritance, but God says that, in Him and through Him, they are our inheritance.  As the lines of His love intersect in marriage, our boundaries branch out into an acreage of endless possibilities and infinite impact through His giving of children.

Since I recently celebrated a fairly significant birthday, both David and Solomon encouraged me to rejoice in the Lord as my portion and my lot, to give thanks for the blessings of a faithful and godly wife, and to gaze upon our beautiful inheritance of children and grandchildren.  Indeed, the lines have fallen in pleasant places and I have no greater joy than to see my children walking with the Lord.  For as they faithfully follow the Lamb wherever He goes, the lines expand exponentially and the borders of the property entrusted to us ever increases.

I guess I’m writing this to tell my children, including my favorite son-in-law and favorite daughter-in-law, and my grandchildren how much I love them, believe in them, value them and long to see God’s plan continue to unfold in their lives.  You are my inheritance from the Lord.  As we keep our hands to the plow by the power of the Spirit, may our land be fertile ground for the seed of His Word, be marked by the well-worn paths of His love and bear much fruit for His glory.

Perhaps today is a good day to value your priceless inheritance?

I will sing the Lord’s praise, for He has been good to me.  Psalm 13:6 NIV

From Recovery to Revival

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The rains have stopped for now, but many are afraid and living in uncertainty about what is to come.  We have all seen – and some of us have actually become – those heroes risking their own lives to save others.  Dramatic rescues.  Emotional reunions.  People leaving almost everything behind having only gratitude as they stand on dry ground.

So as blue skies appear overhead this morning and we slowly begin to move from rescue to recovery, there will be so much opportunity for the body of Christ to unite and come alongside to help in the coming months.  The recovery process in Houston will be monumental.  Many of us will take people in, care for those in shelters, help with the clean up or pick up a hammer to rebuild.

But we must not forget that our God “sits enthroned – sits as King – over the flood” (Psalm 29:10) and that He is “mightier than the thunders of many waters” (Psalm 93:4).  We must not forget that even in disaster, He has purpose.  The challenge for us now is to fully embrace that purpose.

Can you see God’s mercy even in this catastrophe?  People have been rescued literally from death, yet in His sovereignty, He granted them another day of life.  They could have perished in the flood, but they did not.  That’s mercy!   His mercy.  Can you see it?

And now that they are safe from the floodwaters of Harvey, are they truly safe?  They may have been rescued by a boat, but are they in the ark?  Jesus is our ark.  Our only place of safety.  Our only mighty refuge from the storm.  And the good news is, the Door is still open!

The body of Christ now has a tremendous opportunity to continue to lovingly meet physical needs while seeking to turn fear into faith and despair into hope.  Recovery can lead to revival!  Can you see it?

Oh Lord, by the power of Your Spirit, help us to convert the current momentum of physical rescue and provision into spiritual rescue and revival.  You are still the God of this city.  Unite the body of Christ like never before and use us to bring people to the Door of the Ark.

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.  Psalm 46:1




Sweet dreams

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So how did you sleep last night?
  Apparently, about 40% of us don’t usually sleep that well.  There are many reasons why ranging from an uncomfortable bed, to medical issues, to taking care of kids, to noise or light.  Sometimes it’s just beyond our control, but often it’s because we can’t unplug from technology, life or work.  Our minds are being constantly stimulated.  We wake up in the middle of the night and our to-do list begins to scroll in our heads.  Our hearts begin beating faster.  We stress.  We fear.  We worry.  We plan.  Our sleep deficit leads to decreased concentration, less creativity, lower energy, decreased effectiveness, moodiness, illness, depression, and more accidents, to name a few of the unhealthy byproducts.

God designed sleep for us to unplug and allow our bodies to rest, restore, repair, replenish and reenergize.  We need sleep.  Although not often enough, we say we “slept like a baby.”  Why?  Because a baby doesn’t have a worry or a smartphone or a to-do list.  We wish our children and grandchildren “sweet dreams,” and our prayers with them almost always include a request that God give them a good night’s sleep.  Seems like we should pursue God for the same thing?  After all, sleep is a gift from God.  Our Good Shepherd is the one who “makes us lie down” (Psalm 23:2).

God designed us to put our hands to good work, but He never intended for work to dominate our lives and push Him to the side.  “It is vain for you to rise up early, to retire late, to eat the bread of painful labors; for God gives to His beloved even in his sleep” (Psalm 127:2 NASB).  God lovingly blesses us with sleep as we rest in Him – as we “cast our cares upon Him” (1 Peter 5:7).  Pray before you close your eyes at night, give Him praise for the day, mediate upon all His faithful promises, and put your needs and cares in His loving hands.  A grateful heart is like a supernatural sleeping pill.

God gives sleep as a blessing, but He sometimes withholds sleep to get our attention.  As David testifies, “When I kept silent about my sin, my body wasted away through my groaning all day long.  For day and night Your hand was heavy upon me; my vitality was drained away as with the fever heat of summer” (Psalm 32:3-4 NASB).  If you’re experiencing restless nights, maybe it’s the hand of God.  Ask Him to create in you a clean heart.  Try confessing your sins to Him.  A clear conscience is way better than counting sheep.

Fear attacks like a predator to torment our hearts and minds, but it is God alone who stands watch to defend us while we sleep.  You may lose consciousness, but God thinks about you all night long.  “In peace I will both lie down and sleep, for You alone, O Lord, make me to dwell in safety” (Psalm 4:8 NASB).  “When you lie down, you will not be afraid; when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet” (Proverbs 3:24 NASB).  We fear so many other things, when “the fear of the Lord leads to life, so that one may sleep satisfied, untouched by evil” (Proverbs 19:23 NASB).  Walk with the Lord, obey Him, trust Him and fear not!  A calm assurance in our Rock is like a soft pillow.

While some of us may truly need to seek counsel from a medical doctor, the majority of us can get a great night’s sleep from regular visits with the Great Physician.  So tomorrow morning, I pray the words of Jeremiah become your waking testimony: “At this, I woke up and looked around. My sleep had been very sweet” (Jeremiah 31:26 NLT).

© 2015 Tim McKenzie
On Every Word Ministries

Trend Line

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If you’ve ever taken a step back to look at a company’s stock chart over a 10 or 20-year time period, you’ve probably seen a graph with a bunch of peaks and valleys that look a lot like a mountain range. These digital highs and lows capture moments in a company’s history – market forces, economic conditions, world events, earnings, innovation, competition, negative and positive news, etc. – all working together to drive its stock price up or down as investors react to short-term events and make judgments about how those events might impact future performance. But through it all, solid, resilient companies weather the volatility and display an upward trend line over time that points toward steady, upward growth and profitability.

So what if you graphed a life like a stock? What would that chart reveal?

If you’re like me, it contains many ups and downs over the years. Such great joys, successes, and blessings from God woven together with difficult defeat, pain, heartache and loss as a result of either my sinful choices or simply by the circumstances of life thrust upon me. Both mountaintops and valleys of the shadow of death. Cries and songs. So what happens when you and I hit a new low? What stops the downward plunge into an even deeper valley?

For me, it’s all about remembering four things:

1) God’s Sovereignty – there is a throne in heaven and our God is on it; life is not out of control; He knew our chart would look like this and His plan for our lives is a good one; He can be trusted; He’s yet to make His first mistake.

2) God’s Word – His promises are faithful and true; they bring hope, healing, and light; they are set in eternal, unchangeable, stone right before our eyes when our hearts are failing and our feelings cannot be trusted; they are life itself for they contain His very breath.

3) God’s Presence – oh how good it is to be near to God; He has adopted us into His family and we belong; He loves us with an everlasting, incomprehensible love; He will never leave us nor forsake us; His Spirit is our assurance, our Comforter, our Encourager; His Presence alone transforms our present into something beautiful.

4) God’s Purpose – He has called us to great purpose in His kingdom and for His glory; loss of a sense of purpose completely shifts the focus on to our pain or sacrifice, but embracing God’s purpose calls us back again and again to look up with line-of-sight to eternity and rejoice. God is with us in our deepest, darkest valleys and His purposes for good are continually at work even in our pain.

While we should not minimize the pain of our lows as we cling to our Rock, neither should we maximize them nor give them the power over us to hinder God’s purposes. We must remain humble in the highs, and hopeful in the lows. Remember that fidelity to His purpose is an anchor of the soul. And by the grace of God and the enabling power of His Spirit, our lives are designed to display an upward and resilient trend line over time ever pointing toward our heavenly calling.

Forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:13-14 NASB).

Spread the Word!

© 2015 Tim McKenzie
On Every Word Ministries


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You and I care about people, and we are certainly grateful for those who care about us. But all of us care only to a certain extent. No matter how much compassion we possess, we are limited by time, ability and attention. We can’t care deeply about everyone and everything. We can’t always be there. We can’t always fix things. We just can’t bear it all or we’d be crushed under its weight.


Fear not

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What is your greatest fear?  Now I know we’re afraid of stuff like public speaking, spiders, snakes, needles, and heights.  But on a more destructive note, fear of rejection, shame, loneliness, the unknown, pain, loss of freedom, failure, and death (#1) top most lists.


No Room in the Inn?

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Santa’s advent is a done deal, but Jesus’ arrival this year may be as challenging as it was during the Roman census.  Political and cultural correctness are putting up so many barriers that, once again, there’s no room in the inn. With all the hatred of Herod, the spirit of the age seeks to destroy this would-be King.  Corporate America has decorated accordingly in the name of tolerance, but increasingly capitalizes on and commercializes the day.  The hollow ring of “Happy Holidays” has euthanized the decrepit and distasteful “Merry Christmas.” It appears the Grinch stole Christmas again.

What now?  Get angry and revolt?  Give up and withdraw?  Give in and go with the flow?


The Wonders of God’s Grace

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The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of His hands” (Psalm 19:1 NIV).

Every day we are spared from death. While the sun is absolutely essential for life, without certain protective layers surrounding our planet, its radiation would destroy us. Violent storms and eruptions on its surface hurl massive gusts of charged particles at the earth. In silent submission to the voice of God, invisible magnetic fields, called the Van Allen Belts, encircle the earth to absorb and dissipate these potentially deadly cosmic forces.


Do not worry

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It’s kind of amazing when you do what Jesus says to do.  Imagine that.

A few weeks ago, I was really stressed out about some major financial decisions my wife and I had to make. Coincidentally, I was also in the middle of preparing to teach on Matthew 6:19-34. After breezing through where’s your treasure (6:19-21), how’s your vision (6:22-23), and whom do you serve (6:24), I had a head-on collision with Jesus’ words, “For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life…” (6:25).

But I was worried about my life. Reading on, Jesus said to, “Look at the birds of the air…” (6:26) and “Observe how the lilies of the field grow…” (6:28). Since my computer speaks Greek, in just a few clicks I discovered that “look” means “to consider fixedly; to look at with the mind; to discern clearly” and “observe” means to “to learn thoroughly; to examine carefully, to consider well.” Neither of these words had anything to do with a casual glance. And though I had read and even took comfort in these verses many times before, I had NEVER done what Jesus actually said to do.

The Spirit prompted me to get up and go outside to look and observe.

As it would happen, it was one of those rare spring mornings in Houston. Clear. Crisp. Gorgeous. And with paper and pen in hand, I spent well over an hour just looking at birds and observing flowers. Two very accessible things yet so common that I pretty much ignore them every day. Here’s what I wrote:

Birds – I had to look at them from a distance. They flew with great skill and ease. They were busy and worked hard as they gathered food and building materials. Sometimes they flew just because they could – soaring and free. They were joyful. They sang. They were full of life.

Flowers – I got to observe them up close. They were incredibly beautiful and diverse in both color and design. Amazingly intricate. Delicate. Textured. Seemingly woven. They flourished as they painted the landscape. Fully opened, they were joyfully pointing toward the sun…basking in its life-giving light.

Jesus seemed to say, “So what did you learn? Do they worry? Does not your heavenly Father care for them in amazing ways? Wouldn’t you like to be joyful again just like them? How much more does God love you? Do you trust Him?”

Jesus is showing all of us that worry is a symptom of a greater problem. It’s like a warning light that our eyes and our hearts are preoccupied with the wrong things. Our faith shrinks. Our fear grows. Worry is all about the future, but it chokes out the present.

There’s no denying that “each day has enough trouble of its own” (6:34). Indeed, flowers fade and birds fall, but “not apart from the will of your Father” (10:29-31). He is faithful! “Cast all your anxiety upon Him because He cares for you” (1Peter 5:7)!

A cure for worry? Jesus gives us the prescription: “Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you” (6:33).

Stop looking down and in. Start looking up and out.

Make the priority and focus of your life seeing God crowned with the glory and honor of which He alone is worthy. Our King has great treasure and He is more than willing to share it.

Note: the painting of the “Two Sparrows” was a gift from a dear friend, Jamie Vance, and its image is used with her blessing. Thank you Jamie for encouraging me to “look.”

© 2013 Tim McKenzie – 

The value of thorns

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(1Peter 5:6 NASB) is a statement completely foreign to our earthly nature.

We are immersed in a performance culture that caters to the praise of the world. Weakness is neither rewarded nor honored. Quite the contrary, it is ridiculed and exploited whether on the playground or at the office. We’ve been raised to excel in our strengths and compensate for our weakness. So we learned to boast in our strengths and hide our weakness. We display our trophies and bury our shame. At the very least, we’ve all spoken in our hearts like a Pharisee, “Thank God I’m not like those guys” (Matthew 18:10-14 NASB). We have much to be proud of.

So what do you boast in? Tim Keller, Senior Pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church NYC, said that when counseling, he doesn’t start with someone’s big failure or problem, but by determining what they boast in. Why? Because sins spring forth from the root of pride.

“Pride is a telescope turned the wrong way. It magnifies self and makes the heavens small.” – C.S. Lewis 

The apostle Paul was no exception. Paul explains, “To keep me from exalting myself, there was given me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me…” (2Corinthians 12:7 NASB). Interestingly, we are never told exactly what this thorn was, I believe, so we could all better identify with whatever “it” is in our own lives. But we are told its purpose: “to keep me from exalting myself.” And while Paul identifies this thorn as “a messenger of Satan” that was painfully effective, its purpose was wholly used by God for good.

The Greek word for “thorn” is used only here in Scripture and its meaning spans the gamut from “a thorn or splinter” to “a stake.” And since “torment” literally means “to beat or strike with the fist,” Paul’s emphasis here is probably closer to a stake than a thorn.

I implored the Lord three times that it might leave me” (2Cor 12:8 NASB). He asks, but in view of something better, God answered his prayer unexpectedly. Oftentimes, His ways are not our ways. Instead, “He has said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness’” (2Cor 12:9 NASB).

And Paul’s closing testimony to us is this: “Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong” (2Cor 12:9-10 NASB).

Did you see it? After previously begging the Lord for deliverance from this “thorn” and hearing the Lord say “no,” he is now strangely “well content.” Why? Instead of removing his weakness, God transformed it to work for him, not against him. Perspective. Paul is literally “staked” – pinned close to Jesus in surrender and dependency and emptied of self. Not a bad place to be.

All of which is possible because, Jesus, the strongest One in the universe “emptied Himself” to become humble, submissive, weak according to the flesh, and wholly dependent on God – even to the point of death (Philippians 2:5-8). For our sakes, the Lion became a Lamb. Such is the foolishness of God – the heart of the gospel – the valley of vision. Do you want to see more clearly? Do you want to be set free from the tyranny of pride?

Then learn the value of your thorn by experiencing the sufficiency of His grace.

Jesus is still saying, “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” (Matthew 11:29 NASB).

© 2013 Tim McKenzie –