Archive for the ‘Worship & Wonder’ Category

The King of Glory

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Lift up your heads, O gates!  And be lifted up, O ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in. Who is this King of glory? The Lord, strong and mighty, the Lord, mighty in battle!  Psalm 24:7-8 ESV

The Lord reigns, He is robed in majesty; the Lord is robed in majesty and armed with strength; Psalm 93:1 NIV

Splendor and majesty are before Him, strength and joy are in His place. 1 Chronicles 16:27 NASB

Who is like You O Lord? — majestic in holiness, awesome in praises, working wonders?  Exodus 15:11 NASB

Yours, O Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty, for all that is in the heavens and in the earth is Yours. Yours is the kingdom, O Lord, and You are exalted as head above all. 1 Chronicles 29:11 NIV

Righteousness and justice are the foundation of Your throne; love and faithfulness go before You. Psalm 89:14 ESV

Worthy are You, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for You created all things, and by Your will they existed and were created. Revelation 4:11 ESV

O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is Your name in all the earth! You have set Your glory above the heavens. Psalm 8:1 ESV

Let all the earth fear the LORD; let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of Him. Psalm 33:8 NASB

To whom, then, will we compare God? Or who is His equal? Isaiah 40:25 NIV

You answer us with awesome deeds of righteousness, O God our Savior, the hope of all the ends of the earth and of the farthest seas, Psalm 65:5 NIV

You alone are the LORD. You made the heavens, even the highest heavens, and all their starry host, the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them. You give life to everything, and the multitudes of heaven worship You. Nehemiah 9:6 NIV

Let them praise the name of the LORD, for His name alone is exalted; His splendor is above the earth and the heavens. Psalm 148:13 NIV

They raise their voices, they shout for joy; from the west they acclaim the Lord’s majesty. Therefore in the east give glory to the Lord; exalt the name of the Lord, the God of Israel, in the islands of the sea. From the ends of the earth we hear singing: “Glory to the Righteous One.” Isaiah 24:14-16 NIV

Lift up your heads, O gates! And lift them up, O ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in. Who is this King of glory? The Lord of hosts, He is the King of glory! Psalm 24: 9-10 ESV

What will that glory be?

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If eye has not seen, ear heard
or mind conceived
what God has prepared
for those who love Him,

WHAT WILL THAT GLORY BE?

If the splendor of this creation
so incredible to behold
is anxiously longing
to be set free,

WHAT WILL THAT GLORY BE?

To know only in part
and see dimly in this mirror,
but soon face to face
with joy inexpressible,

WHAT WILL THAT GLORY BE?

If this body so fearfully
and wonderfully made
is a seed sown in weakness,
but raised in power,

WHAT WILL THAT GLORY BE?

When our tent wears out
and we breathe our last,
and faith becomes sight
as hope bows to possession,

WHAT WILL THAT GLORY BE?

In the twinkling of an eye
when there’s no more death,
no more sin, and
no more crying or pain,

WHAT WILL THAT GLORY BE?

To long for a home
as yet unseen,
an eternal dwelling
He prepared for me,

WHAT WILL THAT GLORY BE?

When our veil of sufferings
lifts to reveal
an eternal weight of glory
far beyond all comparison,

WHAT WILL THAT GLORY BE?

When the Morning Star arises,
splits the sky like a scroll,
and darkness pierced
by the coming of our King,

WHAT WILL THAT GLORY BE?

When God dwells among us,
wipes away every tear
and by His Word
makes all things new,

WHAT WILL THAT GLORY BE?

To stand before the Lamb of God
with saints from
every tribe and tongue,
in mighty song of praise,

WHAT WILL THAT GLORY BE?

To look upon the King of Glory,
Exalted Majesty,
Beautiful Savior,
the One who died for me,

WHAT WILL THAT GLORY BE?

But to walk with Jesus here and now,
to love Him we have not seen,
and to shine His light
before all men,

WHAT WILL THAT GLORY BE?

 

A Not So Silent Night

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Any woman who has ever been “great with child” can certainly relate to the discomfort Mary would have experienced making the difficult 80-mile journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem so late in her pregnancy. Such a small town bursting to overcapacity from the mandated census made finding peaceful accommodations all the more challenging. Since the trip was exhausting and there was “no room for them in the inn,” Mary and Joseph bedded down in an area where animals were kept. It was good just to get off their feet.

And while they were there – at just the right time – in the fullness of time, Mary gave birth to her firstborn son, wrapped him snugly in strips of cloth and laid him in a manger. Fitting, a common feeding trough became a cradle for the Bread of Life. By all appearances, His was an extraordinarily ordinary birth.

Along with a chorus of animals and the percussion of a crowded village, the cries of a newborn baby harmonized the night’s song. The One who had spoken all things into existence by the power of His Word – the Word made flesh, now as Mary’s little lamb, is reduced to the simplest form of human speech.

Shepherds, keeping watch over their sheep in nearby fields, were the first to receive the Good Shepherd’s birth announcement. Heaven’s joy simply could not be contained and spilled out across the skies. For suddenly, the shepherds were surrounded by the glory of the Lord as multitudes of the heavenly host began praising God and saying,

Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will to men” (Luke 2:13-14).

The angels sang at the dawn of creation and now they sing at the dawn of redeeming grace! Oh, the majesty of such praise! For on that not so silent night, the King of Kings lovingly set aside His royal crown, clothed His glory with flesh and made His throne a bed of hay.

Jesus. God with us. His was no ordinary birth. Let heaven and nature sing!

Joyful, all ye nations, rise,
Join the triumph of the skies;
With angelic host proclaim,
“Christ is born in Bethlehem.”
Hark! the herald angels sing,
“Glory to the new-born King!”

“For my eyes have seen Your salvation, which You have prepared in the sight of all nations…” Luke 2:30 NIV

The Fragrance of Prayer

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Every morning and evening, Aaron would burn incense on the golden Altar of Incense located immediately before the veil separating the Holy Place from the Ark of the Covenant in Holy of Holies. Constantly burning, it was the closest object in the Tabernacle to the glorious Presence of God.

The incense was made from a unique recipe given by God in Exodus 30:34-38. This was God’s fragrance – “most holy unto the Lord” – reserved solely for this purpose. As it was consumed, it produced a sweet aroma and smoke ascending day and night. Once a year, on the Day of Atonement, the priest would cleanse the Altar of Incense with sacrificial blood.

Why am I telling you this?

Because the Altar of Incense is a picture of the prayers of God’s people. Prayers of faith reserved solely for the Lord being offered day and night – a fragrant aroma ascending like smoke to the Throne of God. David connects the dots for us, “May my prayer be set before You like incense; may the lifting up of my hands be like the evening sacrifice” Psalm 141:2.

And before you say, “But I’m not living in the Old Testament and haven’t been to the Tabernacle lately,” consider this. Having been cleansed by the blood of the Lamb, this altar can also be seen as a picture of Christ’s glorious mediation. Our Great High Priest sits at the right hand of the Throne of God always making intercession for us.

But there’s more.

What is no longer found in an earthly tabernacle or temple, now rests in a Heavenly One. At the Throne of God, Revelation 5:8 shows us “golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints” and Revelation 8:3-4 describes an angel “at the altar, holding a golden censer; and much incense was given to him, so that he might add it to the prayers of all the saints on the golden altar which was before the throne. And the smoke of the incense, with the prayers of the saints, went up before God out of the angel’s hand.”

So, when you pray, why not picture this incredible scene in heaven? See your prayers ascending like a holy offering of incense from the temple of your heart to the Throne of our great God!

Pray without ceasing. 1 Thessalonians 5:17

Sonrise

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Watching the sun rise is truly amazing. One minute it’s night, but then a wonderful miracle of transformation occurs – that incredible moment when an uncontainable source of light breaks over the horizon and banishes the darkness simply by its presence.

On Christmas Eve 2000 years ago, the world turned and the sun rose, but from heaven’s vantage point, a thick darkness remained. For people were still held captive under the inescapable darkness of sin. Even the light of the sun was insufficient to dispel this darkness.

Many actually loved the darkness as it hid their true estate – serving as a temporary cloak but all the while tightening its relentless grip on their very souls. Others dreaded the darkness and were filled with the despair of being trapped by a force they were helpless to escape. And the powers of darkness rejoiced.

Yet on that night, the first Christmas night, another Light was about to shine unlike any other ever seen. Eyewitnesses spoke of a unique star shining in the east and of angels who lit up the sky over Bethlehem. But in the spiritual realm, it was that first cry of the manger that pierced the darkness of sin, death and hell with an Everlasting and Unquenchable Light.

Simply by His Presence, hope was born. The Light of the World shattered the powers of darkness with the dawn of redeeming grace. God clothed in flesh. Immanuel. God with us. For that silent night long ago, there was a glorious Sonrise as Jesus set His heavenly crown on a pile of straw and all of heaven rejoiced while the world slept.

Celebrate the Sonrise!

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

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 Wonders of His Love

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Opting out, privacy mode, incognito windows and do-not-track requests! We live in a crazy world where I’m not sure anything is truly private unless it’s in a shoebox under your bed with a rubber band on it. So much personal information from our digital footprint is being collected and disseminated that it’s kind of scary. Technology is watching us.

On a relational level, experience has taught us to be a bit more selective – deciding who, when and how much is made known. There are so very few we can trust with full disclosure – with the innermost part of our being – without being judged, exploited or exposed. To be known is simultaneously one of our deepest needs and greatest fears.

But there is One who knows everything about us – who knows us better than we know ourselves – and still loves us. Our great God is intimately acquainted with all our ways. He is completely aware of all we do, sifts our thoughts and knows what we will say before we even form a word. He knows us on our best days and worst days – and still loves us.

Where can we go from His Spirit? Where can we flee from His Presence? From the heights of heaven to the depths of death, we are not only pursued, but awaited by Him. On our darkest nights and in our greatest fears, His song will be with us as the light of His Presence banishes anything that would separate us from His love.

We can get no closer to or further from His Presence. He encloses us behind and before and tenderly lays His hand upon us. His Presence is in the present in the midst of our every heartbeat. If we look in the rearview mirror, He is there. If we lift our eyes beyond the horizon, our future is full of Him.

Fear not. The God who knitted you together in your mother’s womb, who adorned you with beauty and purpose, who established your days before you took a breath, can be trusted. Since there is no way to hide from God, perhaps we should simply hide in God. He alone is our Hiding Place. We are safe and protected. We are accepted and valued. We are fully known and fully loved.

Is this kind of love too wonderful?  Yes, especially for those of us who aren’t very lovable. But it is more real than anything we can touch and truer than anything we’ve ever seen. It’s the love of our good, good Father indescribably full of wonder and that’s where we must leave it. Praise Him today for the wonders of His love.

I will give thanks to You,
For I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
Wonderful are Your works,
And my soul knows it very well.
Psalm 139:14 NASB

Devotional based on Psalm 139. Please read it!

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!

Hallelujah!

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Music is a universal language that we all speak fluently.  It makes us feel and move and sing.  We turn up the volume and sing along even if our voices are not ready for prime-time or we can’t actually hit all the notes.  And those of us who cannot play a real instrument are virtual all-stars on air guitar, drums and keyboard.

Music resonates deeply within us, easily sways our emotions and can instantly transport us to other times and places.  It’s so captivating, we unconsciously memorize lyrics and can sing-along perfectly with songs we have not heard in years.

But there is a singular type of music that is set apart above all others.  Only one that supernaturally unites heart, mind and soul.  Only one that penetrates to the very core of our being and yet resonates within the throne room of heaven.  Only one that joins the song of our heart with the song of all creation.

The praise of God.

Songs of praise – especially when they incorporate the words of Scripture – create a spiritual symphony that both honors the only One worthy of such praise and aligns our hearts to beat with His.  Orchestrated by the Spirit of God, praise produces a harmony like no earthly composition.  It is simultaneously a passionate chord, a liberating Word and a piercing sword.  Does it not cause your lips to sing, your soul to agree and your life to move in the key of God?

I’m going to venture a guess that one of your favorite parts of the Bible – a place you return to time and time again – is the Psalms.  Ever wonder why?  They are songs!  Supernatural songs!  Songs of salvation and praise.  Hymns of hope and deliverance.  Anthems of thanksgiving and joy.  And while we don’t have the original musical score, the Spirit of God supplies a worthy accompaniment as we “sing” them.

On a family trip earlier this month, our 2-year-old grandson, Graham, picked up a silent wireless speaker, shook it and kept saying “Hallelujah!”  He knew where praise usually came from and he wanted to hear it.  What’s crazy is almost no song we play has that word in it!  Think about it: he could have shaken it and said, “Music!” or “Sing!” or many other things, but he said “Hallelujah!”

Go shake your speaker today!

From the lips of children and infants You have ordained praise because of Your enemies, to silence the foe and the avenger.  Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless His holy name – that my heart may sing your praises and not be silent. Come, let us sing to the Lord!  Let us shout joyfully to the Rock of our salvation.  Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth; break forth into joyous song and sing praises!  Psalm 8:2, 103:1, 30:12, 95:1, 98:4

Spread the Word!

If you want to have a powerful worship experience in the Psalms, try Shane and Shane’s “Psalms Vol 2.”  

 

 

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

Poiema

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“For You formed my inward parts; You wove me in my mother’s womb. I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; wonderful are Your works, and my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from You, when I was made in secret, and skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth; Your eyes have seen my unformed substance; and in Your book were all written, the days that were ordained for me, when as yet there was not one of them”
(Psalm 139:13-16 NASB).

“For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we we would walk in them” (Ephesians 2:10 NASB).

I cannot think about one of these passages without being drawn to the other. The first speaks of creation – the first birth; the second, re-creation – the new birth. The first begins the Potter’s work; the second completes it in Christ Jesus. The days are inscribed in the first, but unfold in the second. But both proclaim the amazing truth that we are His masterpiece.

How beautifully this psalm of David describes the precious mystery of life as our Creator gently knits us together like a fine, colorful tapestry. Our souls should sing, “How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God! How vast is the sum of them!” (Psalm 139:17 NASB).

All our translations fall incredibly short of describing the indescribable – of attempting to put such vast wonders to words. Perhaps the Greek word used here for “workmanship” captures it best: we are His “poiema” – in English, His “poem.”

We are all unique creations of God – handcrafted works of art – individual masterpieces. Like a beautifully written poem, we are not just casually thrown together, but something arising from deep within the heart of God – intimate and intricate; overflowing with purpose and brimming with promise.

We know that God’s Word always accomplishes its purposes. And since God never wastes words, then surely He has something significant to say in and through our lives. As living letters penned by God’s own hand, we are strategically composed to convey a message – His message. And when people read us, they should read a great poetic work to God’s glory and long to know more about our Author.

But what if you’re questioning your purpose, struggling with identity, living in regret or wondering if you are truly loved? Read over the letter of your life – start from the very beginning – remember what it says about you and about your Savior – refocus on why He created you and what He re-created you for — and rejoice.

You should find it to be a beautifully authentic work of how the threads of God’s amazing grace are tenderly woven into the fabric of a life that’s far from perfect, yet perfectly being perfected in Jesus. You are His Poiema. Now walk in the Spirit as He writes the next verse.

Spread the Word!

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

The hand of God

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When you hear the phrase “the hand of God,” what comes to mind?

Many times people invoke that expression when they are referring to some terrible disaster or devastating turn of events.  There is no doubt that God is powerfully present in His creation, is actively judging the affairs of men, and is strategically orchestrating the movement of history toward the glorious return of His Son.  Still, we must be cautious in what we attribute to God, and yet not be blind either, “O Lord, Your hand is lifted up yet they do not see it” (Isaiah 26:11 NASB).

Others are unquestionably feeling the weight of God’s hand just like David, “When I refused to confess my sin, my body wasted away, and I groaned all day long. Day and night your hand of discipline was heavy on me. My strength evaporated like water in the summer heat” (Psalm 32:3-4 NLT).  We can be certain that the love of God will not leave us alone to hide in our sin.  Unless your conscience has been seared and your heart is hardened against Him, the Spirit will relentlessly pursue you with a heavy and restless conviction until you move toward confession and cleansing.  Been there.

But focus on this aspect of His hands for a minute: “You have enclosed me behind and before, and laid Your hand upon me” (Psalm 139:5 NASB).  I love the way the NLT phrases it, “You go before me and follow me. You place Your hand of blessing on my head.”  How amazing is this truth?!  Hands that powerfully sculpted the universe, tenderly hold you.  Hands that sovereignly move the very course of history, lovingly encompass the path of your life.  And where the Shepherd leads, goodness and lovingkindness surely follow (Psalm 23).

I believe the New Testament equivalent of this thought is found in Jesus’ words, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of My hand.  My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. I and the Father are one” (John 10:27-30 ESV).  Do you see it?  You are twice blessed.  Encircled by both the hands of the Father and the Son!  What a vivid picture of God’s loving protection and eternal security!

In one of Israel’s darkest times, the Lord spoke these beautiful words of comfort and assurance to Zion (Jerusalem), “Behold, I have inscribed you on the palms of My hands, your walls are ever before Me.”  Don’t you wish the Lord said that to you?!

Rather than simply saying it, He showed it.  Jesus literally inscribed us on the palms of His hands.  Not with a pen, but a nail.  Not with ink, but with blood.  For the hands that embrace your life, also bear your name.  And because it was written with His precious blood, Jesus will never let you go.

For You, O Lord, have made me glad by what You have done, I will sing for joy at the works of Your hands” (Psalm 92:4 NASB).

 

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
www.OnEveryWord.com

Presence

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There are many gifts you can give someone, but your presence may be the greatest gift. To enjoy the company of another person – conversation, connection, relationship, face-to-face, eye-to-eye – the mutual sharing of a unique moment in time. While there have always been things that compete for these moments, the competition seems to have intensified. (more…)

Big God, Big Things

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Most of us don’t have any problem imagining a big God who does big things. In fact, we prefer it that way. Our problem seems to be believing in a big God who does big things for us.

The Scriptures reveal much about God…a BIG God. (more…)

Above all else

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We place great significance on someone’s last words.  We lean in and hang on every syllable.  Given the opportunity, what would yours be?

It’s only been a week since we celebrated the glory of the empty tomb, but stand with me again at the foot of the cross.  In those final agonizing hours as He bore the sins of the world – our sins, Jesus’ seven last words from the cross are worth drawing close to.

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Back in the box?

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How was your Christmas?  I bet you had to think about your answer! Even though it’s only been thirty days, it may seem like such a long time ago!

Most of us decked the halls for the big celebration.  In keeping with the spirit, we strung lights and decorated the chosen tree.  We decked the halls of our homes with festive colors, stockings were hung by the chimney with care, and, of course, a manger scene took its place in prominent display.

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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?

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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.

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Spread the Word

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God’s Word is alive. Read it as if the ink was still wet. When you read something from someone you know well, you hear his or her voice, don’t you? When you read God’s Word, you should hear His voice.

Rejoice in it.
Meditate on it.
Hide it in your heart.
Believe it.
Pray it.
Live it.
Speak it.

And remember this: when we speak, we control our words and determine if they will encourage or wound, heal or tear down. But when we speak God’s Word, we lose control. It’s bigger than we are. It’s different than our words. It’s not our breath; it’s His. It’s supernaturally powerful and always accomplishes His purposes. It’s unpredictably amazing as it blows where He wills! It transforms darkness into light. It penetrates deeply and can soften even the hardest heart. It never returns void.

As in C.S. Lewis’ The Lion, The Witch & The Wardrobe and now in Prince Caspian, Lucy sees what the others cannot. It is her sight that opens the eyes of those she loves. For Lucy, Aslan (the Lion who represents Christ) has changed from what she remembers…

“Aslan,” said Lucy, “you’re bigger.”
“That is because you are older, little one,” He answered.
“Not because you are?”
“I am not. But every year you grow, you will find Me bigger.”

“Great is the Lord and most worthy of praise; His greatness no one can fathom. One generation will commend Your works to another; they will tell of Your mighty acts. They will speak of the glorious splendor of Your majesty, and I will meditate on Your wonderful works. They will tell of the power of Your awesome works, and I will proclaim Your great deeds. They will celebrate Your abundant goodness and joyfully sing of Your righteousness.” Psalm 147:3-7 NIV84

Great is our Lord. Spread the Word!

→ To read our year-end update, click here.

© 2012 Tim McKenzie – www.OnEveryWord.com

A Grateful Heart

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In every sense of the word they were unclean – physically, socially, religiously.  Contagious and quarantined. Cut off from family, friends, work, and society. Outcasts. Walking pictures of sin and alienation from God. Utterly hopeless.

Yet these men had heard of Jesus. They knew the law and respected social protocol so they kept their distance. To compensate for their faint voices, they cried in unison hoping to increase their chances of being heard. “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!” (Luke 17:13 NASB). They called him “Master,” “Epistates” in the Greek, “one of notable power or authority” and that He was indeed.

Jesus heard their cry and commanded, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” At this time, the law required that someone who had been healed from leprosy be examined by the priests and pronounced clean (Leviticus 14), but these guys had not yet been healed. Jesus was testing their faith! They heard, obeyed, and Dr. Luke notes, “as they were going, they were cleansed” (Luke 17:14 NASB). A step of faith led to healing.

However, their healing just set the stage for Jesus’ main point of this encounter: “Now one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back…” (Luke 17:15 NASB). Think about it. He was healed! He could finally return to his family…perhaps his wife and children, to work, to worship, to love and be loved, to life itself! But in light of all that was soon to be restored, he first returned to Jesus! No longer speaking with a frail, damaged voice, he was “glorifying God with a loud voice.” His new life was evidenced by a new song full of glory, humility, worship, and thanksgiving as he fell on his face at the feet of Jesus “giving thanks to Him” (Luke 17:16 NASB).

But before Jesus granted him a final blessing, He asked three emphatic questions: “Were there not ten cleansed? But the nine—where are they? Was no one found who returned to give glory to God, except this foreigner?” (Luke 17:17-18 NASB).

The nine got what they wanted and were gone. Jesus noticed. He memorialized the ingratitude of the nine, but drew near to the one.

So in this unnamed village, this nameless Samaritan was used by Jesus to exemplify the kind of heart that pleases God – a grateful one. In His final blessing Jesus said, “Stand up and go; your faith has made you well” (“sozo” = “whole, saved”)(Luke 17:19 NASB).

We are forgetful creatures. Far too often like the nine: more likely to pray than praise; to ask than remember to say thanks; to complain than worship; to feel entitled than show humility; to walk away than fall on our face.

Take nothing for granted.
Leave nothing unsaid.
In everything give thanks.

Oh give thanks to the Lord, for He is good, for His lovingkindness is everlasting. Let the redeemed of the Lord say so… (Psalm 107:1-2 NASB).

© 2012 Tim McKenzie – www.OnEveryWord.com

 

Childlike faith

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Abraham is 100, Sarah 90. Years into their journey to the Promised Land, they are still living in a tent, still have no son, and are still chasing the seemingly far-fetched promises of God. Sarah has become disillusioned so God pays them a personal visit in Genesis 18 to announce that she would soon bear a son.  Sarah “laughs” in her heart and thinks, “after I have become old, shall I have pleasure, my lord being old also?” And yep, that means exactly what you’re thinking.

In response to her laughter, God Himself poses this question, “Is there anything too difficult for the Lord?” (Genesis 18:14 NASB). Literally in the Hebrew, “Is there anything too pala for Yahweh?” (‘marvelous, amazing, wonderful’ – to get a true sense of the word, see how “pala” is used in verses like Psalm 107:8, Psalm 119:18, Isaiah 29:14, Job 5:9, Psalm 86:10, and Psalm 139:14). But God had them right where He wanted them – “no way” – “that’s impossible!” Now, He will give birth to an entire nation from a dead womb.

What about you? Ever laugh in unbelief at the promise or ability of God? Sure we have…maybe not out loud, but we’ve doubted, we’ve scoffed, and we’ve done it our way. Some of us are fearful of boxing God in so as to demand a miracle, but many more turn away in doubt without even asking.

Most of us are so capable, so blessed, and/or so self-sufficient we do not depend on the pala’s of God. We live in the realm of reasonable possibilities. Our faith is constricted by our vision of and dependence on God and we have prayers to match. But it was not always so.

As a one or two year-old, we were never concerned if dad was able, we just believed he could and asked. We thought he could do anything and he did: protection, power, authority, ability, knowledge…he had it all. Too heavy for me, but not for him. Too high for me to reach, but not for him. We asked because we weren’t able. Little did we know that we were asking these “miracles” from a limited, imperfect father…even so, we did it with all our hearts.

The other day I was with my 1½ year-old grandson, Noah, when a dog started to jump up on him and I firmly said, “Sit!” With just one word, this wild beast obeyed my command. Seriously, what do you think that taught Noah about my power and authority?

So what about our Heavenly Father? A Father who said, “Let there be,” “Be still,” “Be healed,” “Be forgiven,” “Be cleansed.” The same One who conquered death, has the power to save, and sovereignly reigns over all.

Now, we know a perfect Father who has no limitations. We’re all grown up and far more capable, but with far less faith. Maybe a part of us should never grow up? Maybe that’s why Jesus often hung out with children? Maybe they have as much to teach us as we do them?

Is your Father calling you to believe again in the pala’s of God just like He did Abraham and Sarah? As it was for them (see Hebrews 11:11 and Romans 4:19-21), could this be a turning point in your faith?

What do you need the Lord to do for you? While I’m not promising God will always give you what you want (we knew what was best for our kids), maybe we “have not because we ask not” (James 4:3 NASB). Is He calling you to remember what it was like to simply reach up in childlike faith and ask of your father?

Is there anything too marvelous, too amazing, too wonderful, too pala for the Lord?

Ask.

© 2012 Tim McKenzie – www.OnEveryWord.com

Through the eyes of a child

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My wife and I are really enjoying the blessing of our one-year-old grandson, Noah. To look at the world through the eyes of a child is to restore the wonder of it all. Everything is new and fresh, wondrous and amazing. Even the simplest things – a twig, a leaf, a bird, a squirrel – compel a wonder all their own.

I’ll say, “What’s that?” or “Look!” and though he cannot fully express himself in words, there’s no doubt he’s in awe. You can see it and hear it. His eyes grow wide and bright and he begins to chirp, “Oooh, Oooh, Oooh!”

The Word of God frequently uses the word “behold” as if to say, “What’s that! Look! Prepare to be amazed!” From “Behold, it was very good” to “Behold, a virgin will be with child,” there is a certain sense of exclamation and swiftness in the original Hebrew word – almost like something meant to leave you wide-eyed and singing a chorus of “oooh’s.”

What about “beholding” the wonder of the Lord?  “Michael” the archangel’s name literally poses the rhetorical question, “Who is like God?” The psalmist unwaveringly answers, “There is no one like You among the gods, O Lord, nor are there any works like Yours” Psalm 86:8 NASB.

Be in awe of the majesty and glory of God and proclaim, “Who is like You among the gods, O Lord? Who is like You, majestic in holiness, awesome in praises, working wonders.” Exodus 15:11 NASB

Stand amazed at the Lord “who does great things, unfathomable, and wondrous works without number.” Job 9:10 NASB

Draw near to the Light of His Word and pray, “open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of Your law.” Psalm 119:18 ESV

Be captivated by the beauty of Jesus, our “Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.” Isaiah 9:6 NASB

Expectantly pursue the Word of the Lord to, “Look among the nations! Observe! Be astonished! Wonder! Because I am doing something in your days you would not believe if you were told.” Habakkuk 1:5 NASB

So with childlike faith, let us welcome this day with a renewed sense of awe and wonder at the Lord our God. Why? Because worship follows wonder.

© 2012 Tim McKenzie – www.OnEveryWord.com

Don’t be outdone by a rock

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Riding into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, Jesus was showered with shouts of praise, “Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord!” (Luke 19:38). Enraged, the Pharisees ordered Jesus to rebuke His followers and silence the crowd. Jesus answered, “If these become silent, the very stones will cry out!” (Luke 19:40).  Surely He was exaggerating just to make a point…or was He? God’s Word consistently talks about the seas lifting up their voice (Psalm 93:3), the heavens having a universal voice that goes out to all the earth (Psalm 19:1-3), and mountains singing together for joy (Psalm 98:8). Romans 10:18 even uses the Greek word for “musical sound or note” to describe their “voice.”

Still not convinced?  In a rare glimpse of God’s heavenly throne room, we see a mighty chorus of praise erupt around the throne and ripple outwardly to encompass all of creation:

Then I looked, and I heard the voice of many angels around the throne and the living creatures and the elders; and the number of them was myriads of myriads, and thousands of thousands, saying with a loud voice, ‘Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing.’  And every created thing which is in heaven and on the earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all things in them, I heard saying, ‘To Him who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb, be blessing and honor and glory and dominion forever and ever’” (Revelation 5:11-13).

It may be worth noting that “every created thing” is fairly all-inclusive not to mention the fact that John “heard [them] saying…” God not only created it all, but also gave creation a magnificent voice, a glorious song, a mighty chorus to praise His great Name.

So what about these stones Jesus pointed us to? He could have at least picked doves cooing or lambs bleating, but pebbles? They had to be the least glamorous thing around. But then again, maybe He chose them since they are largely ignored with no apparent voice and yet are foundational to everything!

All things considered, “Let the redeemed of the Lord say so!” (Psalm 107:2). May we live in such a way that we never cease to sing His praises, tell of His greatness, or speak of His amazing love. Praise is foundational to everything. Don’t be outdone by a rock!

© 2012 Tim McKenzie – www.OnEveryWord.com

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