The Ruling Baby King

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Inspirational Thought of the Day:

Instead of conquering us and ruling over us ruthlessly, God conquered our hearts and saved us.

Scripture of the Day:

Isaiah 9: 6-7

“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.  Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end.  He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever.  The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this.”

Don’t be fooled – this King baby will reign.  Despite the enemy’s attempts to destroy Him, God’s plan stood firm.  Despite a supposed defeat by ultimately being crucified, He rose from the dead and is coming again, only this time to reign.  For spectators of a movie, this story is difficult to watch – the injustice of the wicked seemingly destroying the Holy One and His plan; the Almighty God coming in perceived weakness.

The Jewish people were looking for their King to come and rule – now – not in the future. But God’s ways are not our ways. In His wisdom, God came as a babe so we could understand His salvation more than a God far away.  Instead of conquering us and ruling over us ruthlessly, He conquered our hearts and saved us.  He is our LORD, our Wonderful Counselor, to Whom we can come daily and moment by moment.  His rule is righteous and just.  His rule trumps every other ruler or government in this world.

In those moments when the wise men, shepherds and onlookers gazed upon God as a babe, how filled with wonder they must have been.  How humbled to see their Creator coming in such a form.  The most hardened heart was surely softened by such a gift.  May we have this same awe in reflecting on our Jesus, coming as a babe to rule our hearts.

Lord, You are all-wise, all-knowing, Almighty God!  Holy and humble, perfect One!  I worship You and thank You for ruling in my heart and opening my eyes to see.

30 Days of Cultivating Thankfulness Day 18 –Character of God – He is Good!

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Inspirational Thought of the Day:

To think that a Holy God would be ready to forgive the unholy is truly beyond words.

Scriptures of the Day:

Psalm 86:5

For You, Lord, are good, and ready to forgive, And abundant in lovingkindness to all who call upon You.”

Psalm 100:5

“For the LORD is good; His lovingkindness is everlasting And His faithfulness to all generations.”

Psalm 27:13

“I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the LORD In the land of the living.”

To think that a Holy God would be ready to forgive the unholy is truly beyond words. That He would make promises to those who cannot keep them and fulfill them to their children, as well, is absolutely incredible.

But that is just who God is. He is good and there is nothing vile in Him. Nothing. We tend to think of good as getting our way or being blessed. But the definition of good as it refers to God is not like that.

God’s holiness is hard for us to fathom. We can explore analogies to try and comprehend what is must be like to be 100% pure, but it is beyond us.

Perfect King of kings, enthroned in His majesty, cloud filling the temple, chose to leave His throne and rescue His creation by dying for them. We defied His words, disobeyed His commands, were ungrateful enemies. And He set His love on us. He is good.

Lord, thank You for redeeming us from the grave and setting us free from the sin that destroys us. You are good, righteous, Holy, perfect, beautiful.

Worshipful Wednesday: Worthy of Worship, part II

He is beyond full comprehension yet invites us to know Him. (1)

Inspirational Thought of the Day:

For this is what we were made for – to tell of His worth. What makes God worthy of worship to You? 

Scripture of the Day:

Psalm 93:1-5
1″The LORD reigns! He is robed in majesty, the LORD is robed, he wears strength around his waist. Indeed, the world is established, it cannot be moved. 2 Your throne has been secure from ancient times; you have always been king. 3 The waves roar, O LORD, the waves roar, the waves roar and crash. 4 Above the sound of the surging water, and the mighty waves of the sea, the LORD sits enthroned in majesty. 5 The rules you set down are completely reliable. Holiness aptly adorns your house, O LORD, forever.”

Last week I was trying to put the finishing touches on a new worship song, “You Are Worthy” and today as I am driving home after three days recording in Nashville, I am completely lost in the idea of just how worthy our great God is.

I cannot wait for you to hear the song – it challenged me to sing more passionately than I have before, when I considered just how awesome our God is. The verses above were a part of my bible reading plan today – how fitting.

This great God who commands armies and rules over the entire earth has always been King. No one appointed him as such. He is beyond full comprehension yet invites us to know Him. He is the highest King of kings, yet He chose to be a poor servant and to die a sinner’s death. He chose to be our Redeemer before we ever were.

As I sat with the amazingly talented co-writers this week trying to convey God’s worth, I felt His worth more than I had before. Aching to write what was in my heart, God showed me that this ache to know Him more is never fully quenched. The longing in my heart begins to give me a glimmer of what it is going to be like when we are fully in His presence in Heaven, worshipping Him. For this is what we were made for – to tell of His worth.

As the lyrics were penned and I considered each word as it relates to why God is so deserving of my worship, new revelation came and things I had taken for granted before were now new opportunities to worship Him.

He longs to be our Deliverer, to show Himself strong on our behalf. To this soul, He saw me in shame, unloved and broken – and gave me a new name.

It seems only fitting to close today with an opportunity for you to join in on the worship – how about you – what makes God worthy of worship to You?

Oh God, You are great and greatly to be praised! I worship You, my Lord and Savior! Be glorified in me and in this world! We long for you, our worthy One!

 

Truthful Tuesday: Sacrificial Worship

Sacrificial worship

Inspirational Thought of the Day:

Real worship is not consumerism, but being consumed by God’s greatness.

Scripture:

Genesis 22:7

“Isaac said to his father Abraham, “My father?” “What is it, my son?” he replied. “Here is the fire and the wood,” Isaac said, “but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?””

Romans 12:1

“Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God–this is your true and proper worship.”

As a worship leader, I am constantly seeking ways to provoke myself to sincere, passionate worship.  This morning I was reading “Face Down” by Matt Redman and read his perspective on the discussion between Abraham and Isaac when they went to the region of Moria to sacrifice to God.  This same place is said to have been the place where Christ was ultimately crucified.  What a foreshadowing of Christ’s sacrifice and God’s provision.

Abraham and Isaac were going to worship God.  Everything that was necessary for their act of worship was there, except for one thing – the sacrifice.  The son noticed the need and willingly provided himself.  God provided the Lamb.

When we come to worship God, whether it is in our homes or at church, where is our sacrifice?  The music is there, the stage is set, and we need to respond.

In an entertainment-saturated society, it can be easy to approach worship in a consumer-like fashion, but worship is not worship if it does not cost us something.

What does this sacrifice look like?  It will be different for everyone, but it begins with a contrite heart, provoked to in Holy fear to be in awe of the sacrifice that God made for us. Complacency is not on the altar, nor distracted sheep going through the motions.  No, just grateful hearts, spared death, alive in Christ, laying down their burdens and overcome with God’s amazing love.  Basking in His Word, afresh with new revelation, we lie prostrate before the King of kings.

Lord, we worship YOU!  You are Holy, perfect and beyond our comprehension.  Help us to worship You in spirit and truth.  Be glorified in our worship services and provoke our hearts to sincere worship. 

A SEASON OF THANKFULNESS: DAY 18 – OUR HUMBLE KING

Humility

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Mark 10:45 For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.

Philippians 2:5-8 Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross

There is perhaps nothing more ironic than a King becoming a servant, saving the very ones who were His servants in the first place.

In Christ we find the perfect example of humility.  He alone could boast of all the good works He accomplished or of how great He is, yet He chose a crude birth and a lifestyle among commoners.

Materialism and comfort might have appealed to his flesh in that he was 100% man and 100% God, but He did not want those things.  They were distractions from the calling His Father had for Him.  Instead, He was single-minded in His humble approach, prizing the cost of a soul as superior by far to being praised by man.

Sober-minded and dependent upon God, Christ modeled the wisdom of humility.  He captivated the hearts of His enemies not by ruling over them, but by loving and serving them.

There will come a day when Christ returns in righteous judgment, but He first exhibited godly leadership that sacrificed and made Himself subject to the very ones He sought to save.

By laying down His own life, He made a way for the prideful, lost ones truly in a humble position to know their majestic King.

Lord, thank You for demonstrating what it means to not live for self, but to live for the glory of God, instead.  Thank you for choosing a humble life that we might know You!

A Season of Thankfulness: Day 12 – Our Wise Counselor

Photo Credits: www/pixabay.com

Photo Credits:
www/pixabay.com

Ecclesiastes 7:10-12

Do not say, “Why were the old days better than these days?” for it is not wise to ask that.  11 Wisdom, like an inheritance, is a good thing; it benefits those who see the light of day. 12 For wisdom provides protection, just as money provides protection. But the advantage of knowledge is this: Wisdom preserves the life of its owner.

James 1:5

“But if anyone is deficient in wisdom, he should ask God, who gives to all generously and without reprimand, and it will be given to him.”

When I am tempted to give in to emotion or make a rash decision, it is to God that I run.  What a precious gift that we can come to Him and seek His wisdom in all things.

Recently I was reminded of this privilege when I was trying to understand the best course of action in a situation.  “Why are you trying to figure it out on your own?” ran through my head.  I guess that is my natural disposition – to try and come up with my own solution, but the foundation of that decision should be to seek wisdom from God above all else.

Wisdom, likened to an inheritance, can only be given by God.  Man can hand out down insight and knowledge, but any wisdom he has was given to him and comes from above.

Wisdom from God looks markedly different from the wisdom of this world.  It is not self-glorifying, it does not boast. It serves and glorifies God as the giver of it all.  The wisdom God gives is pure and peaceful, opposite what our flesh would offer as a solution.

Contained within all 66 books of the Bible are page after page of wisdom and folly fleshed out.  Few have truly found wisdom and to those who have found it, it is a never-ceasing pursuit.  Wisdom is not a once and done possession.  It is part of the beauty of being in relationship with the most amazing genius in all the world, our God.  He gives it freely, to those who ask . . . again and again.

Solomon pleased God by asking for wisdom above all else, yet He did not utilize that wisdom in one area of his life, in particular.  Did he know better?  I think so.  His heart was turned away by his unwise decisions regarding women, and I daresay that the brief satisfaction from choosing folly instead of the wisdom he had at his disposal could not compare to the joy he could have had from walking in wisdom.

This priceless gift of wisdom is continually given to those who would humble themselves and see their need of godly wisdom.  Available to all.  That’s the all-wise God we serve – generous and perfect in all He does; available to give us counsel when we need it.

Lord, thank You for never leaving or forsaking us.  You provide wisdom when we need it and are faithful to give us grace to seek You for it in the first place.  We praise Your Name, Sovereign King!

 

Truthful Tuesday: Exposed in His Presence

Photo Credits: julieamarxhausen.wordpress.com

Photo Credits: julieamarxhausen.wordpress.com

Leviticus 10: 1-3

Then Aaron’s sons, Nadab and Abihu, each took his fire pan and put fire in it, set incense in it, and presented strange fire before the LORD, which He had not commanded them to do. 2 So fire went out from the presence of the LORD and consumed them so that they died before the LORD. 3 Moses then said to Aaron, “This is what the LORD spoke: ‘Among the ones close to me I will show myself holy, and in the presence of all the people I will be honored.”  So Aaron kept silent. 

Leviticus 11:44a-45

“For I am the LORD your God and you are to sanctify yourselves and be holy because I am holy… 45 For I am the LORD who brought you up from the land of Egypt to be your God, and you are to be holy because I am holy.”

Nothing is hidden from the LORD.  It is folly to try to conceal anything in the first place, but we easily go astray and are deceived into thinking we can rationalize our unfaithfulness and make it acceptable in the sight of the One Holy One.

He is the same God today – still Holy in a new covenant.  He still wants our first fruits, our best – and is worthy of such an offering.  Somehow we buy into the philosophy that this amazing God of grace will wink His eye at our futile attempts because we “tried”.  It is this lukewarm washed down mentality that condones sin as being what is common and yet there is a cry in our souls that we are to seek to be Holy as He is Holy.  He who gave His very best, His only Son, expects such a sacrifice from those Who would receive such a mighty gift.

Aaron’s sons, Nadab and Abihu were serving the LORD.  Not sure what the strange fire was, but it was straying from what God commanded.  What a privilege it is to serve in God’s house.  Not because of position, but because of His incredible redemption – taking rebels steeped in self and sin and changing them to humble servants, seeking to do His will.  So what happened?  How did Nadab and Abihu stray?  Were they placed there in a position that they were not qualified for because of relationship?  Did they have accountability?  There is not much that I detest more than seeing one of God’s children failing spiritually.  The ensuing disillusionment for many affected is devastating – all over choices made to gratify self instead of pleasing a Holy God.

The example of Aaron’s sons terrifies me because I want to be found faithful but see the same capability in myself. Corruption is the natural course for us all, apart from accountability, the grace of God and the fear of God firm in our hearts. Could this sin have been avoided?  We can try to blame Dad, but his sons were all grown up by this point.  Maybe something was lacking in their training and they could have filled a two-part series on Oprah about the struggles of being PK’s.  I don’t know, but I do know that we have no one to blame for our own faithlessness other than ourselves.

In the struggle of humanity, His grace is still available to all who would reach for it.  The problem is we often do not see our need of it.  The lavish grace and blood spilled out on our behalf was not so we could just be saved and live apart from Him, but His pure, Holy sacrifice serves as a vivid reminder of the depravity of our soul when left to our own devices.  It cost HIm His life.  Back to Aaron’s sons.  They were there, offering sacrifices – right in front of them the reality of sin’s consequences – blood spilled out to cover sins – and it became merely ritual to them, something they could do their way.

This same attitude is in the church today.  Elements of the church service are fought over as different perspectives over how each aspect of our worship service should be done.  Wow, has the body of Christ missed it big time.  It is all about Him. How can we reveal His love and glory to those coming, hungering for more of Him?

In our desire to serve God and share His salvation with a lost world, we can easily get lost and forget in the midst of our programs and plans that we still serve a Holy God.  Familiarity with the church service can become religious dogma, but God is watching to see who acknowledges Him and His holiness in the midst of our routine.  Maybe routine is a distraction that can cover our nakedness before the LORD.  It is easier to go through the motions than to lay our hearts transparent before Him to do surgery.  Don’t get me wrong – order in our services is a framework that can really glorify God, but God help us to never allow that framework to become mere duty.  Nothing is routine with Him and He wants to fill our churches with His presence.

This weary world is spiraling out of control.  Judgment is coming and it starts with us – with God’s church.  The time to quarrel about techniques and perspectives is over.  The days are evil.  We must be all about cooperation and God’s glory. If we rend our hearts and set aside trying to sanitize our waywardness and instead expose our desperate need for a Holy God, in that beautiful place is liberty and true worship of our King.  He reveals our sin that we might confess our sins and find incredible mercy in His presence.

Worshipful Wednesday: The Impact of a Righteous Foundation

Photo Credits: jimbomkamp.com

Photo Credits:
jimbomkamp.com

Psalm 89:14

“Equity and justice are the foundation of Your throne.  Loyal love and faithfulness characterize Your rule.  15 How blessed are the people who worship You!  O Lord, they experience Your favor.  16 They rejoice in Your name all day long, and are vindicated by Your justice.”

Isaiah 16:5

“In love a throne will be established; in faithfulness a man will sit on it– one from the house of David– one who in judging seeks justice and speeds the cause of righteousness.”

Proverbs 16:12

“Kings detest wrongdoing, for a throne is established through righteousness.”

Psalm 9:7 

“The LORD reigns forever; he has established his throne for judgment.”

Proverbs 25:5

“Remove wicked officials from the king’s presence, and his throne will be established through righteousness.”

Isaiah 41:10

“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”


A king or ruler in this world system is not often characterized by being gracious, loving and faithful.  In fact, their predominant traits are based more in pride, power and politics.  Godless leaders in our age seek to subjugate their people by both the laws they impose and the freedoms they allow.  But our King chooses instead to embrace and exhibit perfect humility, mercy and justice toward His people.  While we are ultimately His creation and slaves, He calls us His children and cares for us and grants us access to His throne room.

It seems that the key to success in this world is all wrapped around clawing our way to the top, usually by dishonest means or political ploys.  Yet any position on this earth is merely temporal and the influence of our rule will perish, unless righteousness is at its foundation.

Unlike the politicians of this world, our King keeps all of His promises and not one of His promises are evil.  A man might gain popularity for His promises to provide for the people’s flesh, giving them laws that permit a sinful lifestyle, but a righteous leader knows that laws based in unrighteousness will ultimately destroy his people and his nation.

Any leader on the face of this earth who is worthy of esteem will bow his knee before God and seek to be His servant first. So, we, too, have that same responsibility.  Whatever our positions of leadership, we have an opportunity to embody a worldly philosophy, seeking popularity with man or to seek the favor of our God.

We might not be kings or queens, presidents or even administrators, but we can pray for those in positions of power.  God has placed us in an area of influence and leadership somewhere in our lives, too.  Perhaps the greatest role of leadership on this earth is not seen as that.  As parents, we set boundaries for our children that are based in righteousness or we allow the pressures of this world to dictate our leadership.

Parents are undermined by government and this culture, but not by God.  We need to rise up and be faithful, for God is seeking godly offspring to affect the next generation.  Much like a political figure who is watchful over his affairs, we need to constantly be on guard for wickedness and worldliness that seek to enter our home, but we also need to be demonstrating the right path daily.

The tricky thing about leadership is that is is not just telling people what to do, but showing them.  If my children see me seeking the face of God, that has a much more far reaching impact than just preaching at them.  Parenting is one of the toughest positions of leadership.  We must correct our children in love, knowing that they might not understand.  But if we are not faithful to discipline and watch over their souls, we are loving self more than them and not following the example of our Savior who led like a Shepherd.

Any position of leadership in this world is all about God and not us, all for His glory and purposes.  Every position will one day end, but the affects of how we lead can have an eternal impact.  Praise God that we have a sure foundation in Him.  He is holy, righteous and no uncertainty exists in His reign.  Wow.  May we apply His style of leadership to our lives and rest in the confidence that while the kingdoms in this world will all fall, we worship a God whose throne is established for all eternity.

Lord, thank You for showing us how to live, love and lead.  You are so Holy and we fall so very short, but please enable us to lead where You have called us to.  Help us to influence those in leadership above us in righteousness, by prayer and action.  Thank You, God, for the security we have in You, our Righteous King.

Mundane Monday: A Sense of Belonging

Photo Credits: wellnesscatalyst.wordpress.com

Photo Credits:
wellnesscatalyst.wordpress.com

Jeremiah 15:16

“As your words came to me I drank them in, and they filled my heart with joy and happiness because I belong to you.”

1 John 4:4

4 “But you belong to God, my dear children. You have already won a victory over those people, because the Spirit who lives in you is greater than the spirit who lives in the world.”

Ever feel out of sorts, like you don’t quite fit in?  Pretty sure we all have felt like that from time to time.  Some of those feelings are imagined, and sometimes groups can be exclusive, but with God all are welcome.

Acceptance and rejections await every person in any group.  This yearning that we have to be accepted can lead to idolatry and vanity, but it can also lead us to the real source where we belong – close to God.

Quiet and shy as a kid, I often wished I had the outgoing personality of those who were always popular.  But that is not how God made me.  Moving from school to school, I learned to accept others without judgment, but learning to adapt to all of these different groups and places was not as easy, and sometimes the new culture did not readily accept me, either.

When I look back at all the futile moments of time wasted searching for acceptance from man, resulting in anxiety and feelings of rejection, I wish I had the wisdom and peace that I have now.  Funny thing is, over time we receive a gift of learning to be happy in our own skin.  Sure, we can still worry about people liking us or not, but what used to bother us does not have the same affect anymore as it once did.

If you are not yet there, do not despair.  The One living in us is able to help us overcome our fear of man and convince our souls that we do in fact belong – to the King of kings and Lord of lords.  Sure, some might be saying it would sure be nice to fit in down here on earth, but God holds a neat promise there, too.  If we will seek to love people and be faithful, He will grant us favor with Himself and man, too (Proverbs 3:3-4).

If you have’t yet decided to risk joining the group called Christianity, can I just tell you that you will not be rejected if you come honestly before God and ask him to save you.  He is able to open your eyes and heart to understand and to save you.  You, too, can hear the words, “You belong”.  If you already belong to Jesus, no doubt the enemy has tried to rock that faith.  God is able to heal your heart, too.  Come to Him.  I am praying for you now.  Ultimately, belonging to Jesus is the most satisfying relationship we could ever want, and, unlike temporary popularity, it lasts forever.

Lord, thank You for accepting us despite our shortcomings and failures.  When we are tempted to yearn for belonging in this world, God, please convince our souls that we were not made for this world, but for You and Your pleasure.  

Christmas Count “Up” Day 21: Jesus our Sovereign LORD

Photo Credits agentsoflight.wordpress.com

Photo Credits
agentsoflight.wordpress.com

1 Peter 1:19-20

“He paid for you with the precious lifeblood of Christ, the sinless, spotless Lamb of God. 20 God chose Him for this purpose long before the world began, but now in these final days, He was sent to the earth for all to see. And He did this for you.”

Isaiah 46:10

Declaring the end from the beginning, And from ancient times things which have not been done, Saying, ‘My purpose will be established, And I will accomplish all My good pleasure’.”
1 Timothy 6:14b-16
“…Until the appearing of our LORD Jesus Christ 15 whose appearing the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and LORD of lords, will reveal at the right time. 16 He alone possesses immortality and lives in unapproachable light, whom no human has ever seen or is able to see.  To him be honor and eternal power!  Amen.
It is difficult to fathom – a father choosing His own son to die for people who hated him.  But wrapping our minds around the sovereignty of God is also not possible for us to completely comprehend.  Christ’s birth was preordained before the earth ever was.  God completely knew our need for His redemption before we even sinned.  Mind blowing.
Completely God, completely man.  Completely in control over all of the world, and yet placed himself at the world’s whim. Unheard of.  What a radical love.  He is LORD and every knee will bow before Him – whether of their own will or not.  Yet He in His sovereignty knew we could never have fellowship and know our God if the LORD of Lords did not first come in a way that we could understand.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me!  We, the sinful, wretched enemies of God, now united with the LORD of the universe through a baby.  Not just any baby – the sovereign LORD – God Himself, Who knows everything and yet does not give us what our sins deserve.  This Christmas, when we picture this babe in a manger and remember what God did for us, may we also recall that He is LORD.
Thank You, all-wise, all-knowing, Almighty God, our LORD, for coming in frailty and drawing us near to You.