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In all things as we are

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For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. Hebrews 4:15

We have little problem seeing Jesus as the Son of God, but we rarely think about what He felt as a man. This verse doesn’t ask us to consider if Jesus would have sinned (since He did not), but that He could have sinned – that He was truly tempted.

In the wilderness, we clearly see Jesus tempted by the devil to miraculously satisfy His hunger, to sensationally put God to the test, and to blatantly worship the Enemy – yet without sin. But to better understand “in all things as we are,” we need to widen our gaze.

Was Jesus ever tempted to summon angels to rescue Him or call down fire from heaven to destroy His enemies? Was He tempted when they mocked Him to save Himself while on the cross? Was He ever tempted by the many women He ministered to? According to the Word – yes, but without sin.

Was Jesus ever tempted by His power or popularity or when He was misunderstood, rejected or falsely accused? Was He ever tempted to lash out in anger or seek revenge because of betrayal? Was He tempted to avoid the cross altogether? Yes, but without sin.

If these temptations and many more were not real, then Jesus was merely an actor playing a role and reading from a script. Never! Being fully God, Jesus possessed all divine power, but to resist temptation, He deferred to the Father’s will precisely because He was fully man.

Jesus knows what it is like to wear flesh, to feel its limitations, to experience its desires and its disappointments – yet without sin. He sympathizes with our weaknesses. Don’t allow your temptations or your sins to keep you from Him. Don’t picture God frowning and shaking His head in disgust.

Because of Jesus, there is a fountain filled with a Savior’s cleansing blood, a Spirit within you to help fight the spiritual battles waging war against you and a merciful Father with arms open wide. Remember, the Son of God is also the Son of Man.

Therefore, let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace,
so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
Hebrews 4:16 NASB

Are you listening?

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Ding. Ring. Better check. Must like. Have to reply. Follow. Must know. Any updates? Click. Swipe. Post. Next. Watch now or it will be gone. Don’t miss out. Repeat often.

Taking every thought captive” (2 Corinthians 10:5) is getting more and more challenging. No longer just a sifting of good and bad thoughts, we are being inundated with a tidal wave of information 24/7. Torrents of media. Downpours of updates. A deluge of group texts. Monsoons of emails.

And like water running down a mountainside, many of us are taking the path of least resistance.  Once fully immersed, the current moves us swiftly downstream toward more, more, more – and we haven’t even addressed the demands of the workplace that follow us around.

I’m certainly not against media, work, learning, staying connected or devices, but I believe most would agree we are more distracted than ever before. It’s a wonder we can finish a sentence or have a conversation – mind if I reply to this real quick? – without interruption. Our minds are constantly busy, often far away from the present moment and present company.

Today’s technology is teaching us impatience (which I don’t think is a fruit of the Spirit) so that we are not very content with being with one thing for too long – even Jesus. I may be the only one, but when you pray, does your mind jump from one thought to the next? Imagine how disjointed some of our prayers might sound if they were transcribed into actual audible conversations!

So, what’s the answer?  STOP IT. Withdraw and then draw near. Meditate on the beauty of our Lord and His Word. Think deeply. Jot down notes. Talk out loud. Stare in awe. Be still. Wonder. Worship. Enjoy. Abide. Rest. Devote more time to feeding on His Word than checking your feeds. Spend more time staring into His face than into your device.

Jesus has so much to say to us and that’s why many times in Scripture we are cautioned, “He who has ears, let him hear.” Translation: “You may have ears, but are you really listening?” Ears don’t work very well unless the heart and mind are focused and engaged. Let’s commit to doing something different for Jesus’ sake and swim upstream against the prevailing current of media overload.

He awakens Me morning by morning, He awakens My ear to listen as a disciple. Isaiah 50:4b NASB

Good Day Sunshine

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Endowed by God with power and glory, the sun’s reach and impact are inescapable. Its entrance and exit are timed to the minute as it marks our seasons, days and years.

While its energy output has never varied more than 0.1%, a mere 1% increase or decrease would destroy all life on earth. Commanding the center of attention, its immense gravitational force holds our solar system together while providing life-giving light and heat for our little blue planet.

Sunrise. Sunset. Morning. Evening. Day after day. Year after year. Proud. Glorious. Captivating. Because of its precious light, we can use our gift of sight and we have air to breathe and food to eat. Never tiring, never failing – “there is nothing hidden from its heat” Psalm 19:6. Its scorching presence can make us cry for relief and its sustained absence can drive us to depression.

Yes, the sun has plenty to boast about as it majestically sets the rhythm of life. But instead of boasting in itself, it faithfully proclaims the greatness of God. In the beginning, God said, “Let there be light” and the Light of His Presence banished the darkness over the earth. But on the fourth day, God created the sun and endowed it with a portion of His power and glory to continue His work.

The sun shines because God told it to shine. We cannot escape its radiance no more than we can escape His Presence. We have a hard time looking at it without squinting to remind us of His glory and His power. When we call a day “beautiful” because we see it rise, we actually proclaim His beauty. “God is like the sun; you cannot look at it, but without it, you cannot look at anything else” G.K. Chesterton.

So, every time you put them on, remember sunglasses
are actually a testimony to the greatness of God.

In the heavens God has pitched a tent for the sun. It is like a bridegroom coming out of his chamber, like a champion rejoicing to run his course. So that from the rising of the sun to the place of its setting we may know there is none besides Him. He is the Lord, and there is no other” Psalm 19:4-5; Isaiah 45:6 NIV.

 

The Shadow of the Almighty

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Every Christmas, choirs of angels call us to kneel once again in worship at the manger in Bethlehem and behold His glory.  It is a journey we should never grow tired of making.  For the birth of Jesus is a story so simple children love to hear it, yet one so profound wise men cannot fathom it.  Such is the miracle of the incarnation of Christ.

In foretelling this glorious event 700 years in advance, Isaiah proclaims both Jesus’ divinity and humanity: “For unto us a child is born and unto us a son is given.”  Notice the child is “born” at a moment in time (His humanity), but the son is “given” because He has existed for all eternity with the Father (His divinity).  Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!

And Dr. Luke gives us a glimpse of this wonder of all wonders as Gabriel addresses Mary’s bewilderment (“How can this be since I am a virgin?”), “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy—the Son of God” (Luke 1:35 ESV).  Incredible.

The Spirit will “overshadow” her (this is the same Greek word used as the bright cloud covers those with Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration).  Yet this metaphor is deeply rooted in the Old Testament as we are often invited to find rest, to abide, to dwell, and to take refuge in the “shadow of the Almighty” as we are hidden beneath His “wings” (Psa 91:1-6).

It is the same picture found in creation as we witness the Spirit of God “hovering” over the darkness of the earth (Gen 1:2).  That Hebrew word is also used to describe an eagle “hovering” over the young in her nest (Deut 32:11).  How beautiful is the work of the Trinity in creation as God speaks everything into existence through His Word (the Son – John 1:1-3) in divine partnership with the gentle moving of the Holy Spirit!

Now this God of all creation, sends His Spirit to move over the womb of a virgin to divinely implant the holy Child – His only begotten Son – Immanuel – Jesus.  Fully God.  Fully man.  Great is the mystery of godliness!  And to encourage Mary (as well as us) before he departs, Gabriel reminds her that “nothing will be impossible with God” (Luke 1: 37).

This Christmas, as we celebrate the Christ-child, may our worship and wonder at the manager compel us to arise and abide in the shadow of the Almighty.  And if we listen carefully as we go, we will hear a voice reassuring us that with God, all things are possible.  Cling to Jesus – our Blessed Hope – and fear not.

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.

1 Timothy 3:16 NASB

© 2016 Tim McKenzie
On Every Word Ministries
www.OnEveryWord.com

Home

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As you look forward to opening yours or maybe heading back that way for Thanksgiving, I know “home” is a place that stirs up a variety of emotions and expectations.  More than a location, a collection of possessions or a structure, it is a unique place of safety, identity and belonging – it’s family.  Sitting at the crossroads of cozy familiarity and sweet memory, it tugs on our heart to always draw us back to that intersection.  It has an uncanny ability to overcome time and distance and bend all roads so that they gently slope toward its front door.  It is both the launching pad for incredible possibility and a welcome sanctuary for renewal.

However powerful the attraction in this life, we who are in Christ, know that this world is not our home.  What began in the heart of God will, one day, see the safe return of His sons and daughters to their eternal home in heaven.  If we are honest, this present reality and our future hope creates a holy tension between our deep sense of belonging here and the knowledge that “here” is only the starting point, not our final destination.  The beauty is found when we see the divine purpose and eternal significance God bestows on our earthly homes and families which heaven makes possible.

Perhaps we can all benefit from the apostle Paul wrestling in the Spirit with this same tension and writing down his convictions for us:

For to me, living means living for Christ, and dying is even better. But if I live, I can do more fruitful work for Christ. So I really don’t know which is better. I’m torn between two desires: I long to go and be with Christ, which would be far better for me. But for your sakes, it is better that I continue to live. Knowing this, I am convinced that I will remain alive so I can continue to help all of you grow and experience the joy of your faith” (Philippians 1:21-25 NLT).

Shouldn’t this be both our heartbeat and that of our homes?  Shouldn’t we choose to live for Jesus for all the days He gives us here in our earthly home and yet be driven by a holy homesickness to see Jesus face to face?  Shouldn’t we no longer live for ourselves, but for Jesus, and by His design, help others flourish in faith and joy?!

Yes, one glorious day, we will open our eyes to a sight we’ve never seen and yet one that will be more familiar than any place we’ve ever known.  Listen to the voice of hope growing clearer day by day and you’ll hear Jesus saying, “Welcome home!  Come and see the place I’ve prepared for you!”  But for now, as we open the door of our home, may all those who enter be welcomed by Jesus in us and feel the embrace of a love with endless possibility.

Spread the Word!

© 2016 Tim McKenzie
On Every Word Ministries
www.OnEveryWord.com

Just pray

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Regardless of the place or your posture
whether kneeling or standing
walking or sinking
in a church or a cell
in a car or on a cross
in public or in secret
in the quiet of the morning
or the midst of a storm

PRAY

With just a few words
or a whole chapter
with groans and tears
or praise and thanksgiving

PRAY

With a whole heart
and a pure heart
and never lose heart
at all times
and in every place
keeping alert in it
with all perseverance

PRAY

Fervently
earnestly
confidently
in faith believing
without doubting
and without ceasing
according to His will
and abiding in His Word

PRAY

In the Spirit
for the glory of God
in Name of Jesus
knowing He alone is able.

“Be joyful in hope,
patient in affliction,
faithful in prayer.”

Romans 12:12 NIV

© 2016 Tim McKenzie
On Every Word Ministries
www.OnEveryWord.com

Let’s save the world

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One of today’s most prevailing mantras has to be the cry to “save the world.”  Impassioned campaigns are urgently championed across the globe to basically save the planet from ourselves.  People are frequently viewed as invasive parasites feeding off and injuring the host – a pandemic that must be neutralized.  Battle lines are drawn and aggressive agendas often consume more vital resources than the actual target of their alarmism.

But while it’s easy to point out examples of overreaching environmental extremism and faulty science, there are also many initiatives which clearly do help protect and preserve our home.  After all, it is God’s garden.  He did give mankind authority over it and charged us with a stewardship to cultivate it and keep it.  We definitely should be wise about such an amazing gift from God.

But God’s love for the planet He created cannot be compared to His passion for people.  In fact, His love could not be expressed through edicts or legislation.  The only way to fully implement His plan was to send Jesus on a personal mission to save the world.  There truly is a global pandemic to be eradicated, but it’s a pandemic of sin – waging war not on the environment, but on our very souls.

Jesus came as the Light of the World to show us the way out.  He spoke powerful words of truth to shine on our path, but words alone would never save us.  The magnitude of this kind of love bound Him to the agony of the cross to willingly bear our sins, but it also pierced the darkness of death and the grave with a victorious resurrection glory.

Like the bird we found in our garage that remained confused and trapped even when we fully opened the main door to let it escape.  It was as though it could not see how to get out when there was no distinct path.  However, after closing the main door and opening a smaller side door, we created a bold light shining into a dark place that clearly showed it the way to freedom.

Jesus boldly opened the door of eternal salvation into the darkness of our world.  As His light-bearers, we have both the power and the privilege to point the way to those trapped in sin.  No matter how dark, there is a path to freedom, and Jesus is The Door.  The best way to help save the world is to shine!

The people living in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned (Matthew 4:16 NIV).

Spread the Word!

© 2016 Tim McKenzie
On Every Word Ministries
www.OnEveryWord.com

The intolerance of tolerance

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Truth is never afraid of a challenge because it withstands the test, but today’s brand of tolerance has retreated into blatant censure and, paradoxically, intolerance.

For centuries, tolerance meant respect for other people who disagreed with you or vice-versa.  It was an attitude allowing freedom of expression and healthy, truth-seeking discussion.  However, the number of those who prefer to suppress conversation about truth in the name of tolerance is increasing exponentially.  Driven by fear, modern tolerance seeks to destroy disagreement by aggressively mischaracterizing any opposing view as “offensive” and then marginalizing those who hold to it – particularly God’s truth.

Even though our nation was founded on biblical principles and religious tolerance, increasingly and ironically, Christians are being targeted and mislabeled as intolerant bigots by a society intent on systematically silencing anyone and eliminating anything that questions its lifestyle or moral choices.  It grieves me deeply to witness this widespread mistreatment and aggression.

God’s truth is, by nature, offensive as it holds error up to the light and pierces deeply into the heart to convict and reveal.  But if we will allow it to work within us, God’s truth is also powerfully transformative as it rescues, corrects, changes and restores.  In spite of all the craziness we see around us, the firm foundation of the Lord stands.  God’s throne is set in heaven.  His Kingdom is unshakable.  His Word is alive.  His-story is not yet finished.

So what are we to do?  We stand firm on the eternal truth of God’s Word – even when ridiculed or persecuted.  We speak the truth in love – even in the face of hate.  We continue to be salt and light in a world becoming increasingly dark and distasteful.  We show grace and mercy.  We remember what it was like to be trapped in darkness.  We proclaim the Good News.  We love our enemies.  We go the second mile.  We pray for our leaders.  We seek to live in peace with everyone.  We fear God rather than man or the punishment of man.  We never ever forget that Jesus is the answer and, if we remain silent, the Enemy will gladly fill in the blanks.

“Violating God’s Word only ends up proving it, not destroying it; and those who have tried to bury it, find that the Bible always rises up to outlive her pallbearers” (Ravi Zacharias).

The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God stands forever (Isaiah 40:8 NASB).

Spread the Word!

© 2016 Tim McKenzie
On Every Word Ministries
www.OnEveryWord.com

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