“Great Is The Lord”
“Great is the Lord, most worthy of all praise!”…This is the song we were made to sing. As Jesus followers, carrying and declaring this truth feels like breathing. God made us, gave us breath and brought us to life in Christ so we could sing His greatness to the world and reflect His worth with our lives…
“For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy.” (Colossians 1:16-18)
When this song of eternal, unrivaled glory fills our hearts and the air around us, the line between what is seen and what is unseen blurs and we enter into the attitude and posture of heaven where the angels and the elders never stop bringing praise to King Jesus (Revelation 4). There is no room for self exaltation in this song. There is no place for ego in this song, only humble adoration. When God gives us a revelation of who He is and the heights of His love, our only response can be to bow our knees, lift our hands and lay our hearts before Him and say, “Great are You Lord and most worthy of all praise.”
- Kristian Stanfill
When people think about the coming of Christ they may have a fuzzy memory of the verses found in Matthew 24:27, 30 & 44 describing His return at the end of the age,
“For as lightning comes from the east and flashes to the west, so will the coming of the Son of Man be….Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven…and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory….Therefore…be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.”
They cling to the distant knowledge of these verses and think to themselves, “If I hang on for a little longer in this hard life, I will be able to see Jesus when He returns to take me to heaven, to have everything made right. If I just grin and bear it for a bit more, I will be able to leave this life behind and all of the baggage, loneliness, sorrow and hardship it holds and finally find peace, joy, happiness, and love in the presence of Jesus.” These thoughts remind me of something I read once by A.W. Tozer. He says,
“We habitually stand in our now and look back in faith to see our past filled with God. We look forward and see Him inhabiting our future; but our now is uninhabited except for ourselves. Thus we are guilty of a kind of temporary atheism which leave us alone in the universe, while for a time, God is not.”
It is this line of thinking that leads to churches and people who are hollow shells. Lifeless services and conversations that teach about a removed god who is not present or doesn’t care about our lives right now. Perhaps some even speak about God being present in our lives but live as if this thought is anything but the truth. Their words falling out of their mouths like dust. Lifeless. Eaten away by disbelief.
It’s easy to separate ourselves and our modern lives from those in the bible. We see God and His work throughout the bible and we envision Him in the someday, heaven, but we live our lives right now as if He left us alone.
But we are not alone.
John 14:15-18 says,
“If you love me, obey my commandments. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, who will never leave you. 17 He is the Holy Spirit, who leads into all truth. The world cannot receive him, because it isn’t looking for him and doesn’t recognize him. But you know him, because he lives with you now and later will be in you. 18 No, I will not abandon you as orphans—I will come to you.”
Ahhhh! We can forget abandonment! He is here. Inhabiting. We can call to Him and He will come to us. He will reside in us, never leaving us.
We have a promise made by our Creator/Savior God. We can toss out our disbelief and throw our hands in the air and say, “You swore! You promised!” We can clutch at our empty chests and say, “Fill me up. Every bit of me.” Then, once we have realized His presence is within us we can start praying for eyes to be opened around us. We can pray for those lifeless churches/friends/lives around us that their dry bones would be raised. And, we will continue to cry out, “Come now. Don’t make us wait. Come suddenly. We are desperate for Your presence now!” until…
“Without warning there was a sound like a strong wind, gale force—no one could tell where it came from. It filled the whole building. Then, like a wildfire, the Holy Spirit spread through their ranks…” Acts 2:2-4
- Sarah MacIntosh
“I Want It All (Just Give Me Jesus)”
Some of us ascribe to Christianity as a club or a moral code. Some ascribe to theology and scriptures as a way to be more intelligent and knowledgeable about God. Simply being religious will not satisfy the ache in us for true life. On the other extreme is the blatant outright irreligion. There are a million ways to offer short term pacification to our flesh that can end in great losses and addictions. But whether we are clinging to religion and morality or excessive blatant sin, we all lay in the same place and our hearts and souls will be satisfied by only one thing…Jesus. Just give me Jesus…this is the deep cry of the heart and soul. Nothing else can satisfy this thirst and hunger inside of us but the real Jesus. The Jesus that carries in Him living water. The Jesus that was fully God and fully human, living sinless. The Jesus that carries the crucifixion, as His perfect union with the Father was broken so that he could absorb the wrath that was meant for us. The Jesus that carries the power of the resurrection and is fully alive. The Jesus that holds forgiveness of sin and balm for our brokenness. The Jesus that left the Holy Spirit here with us so we could have constant union and communion with the Trinity at all times. This is the Jesus that we need, not the one we create out of our imaginations but the real Jesus. A man made Jesus or the hunt for simple passing emotion is not the beautiful, powerful, resurrected, life giving Jesus that performed miracle after miracle with the greatest being the offering of forgiveness to humanity. So with all of our lives we cry out just give me Jesus, his presence, and all that comes in Him, with Him, and through Him.
English Standard Version (ESV)
Rivers of Living Water
37 On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and cried out, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. 38 Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’” 39 Now this he said about the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were to receive, for as yet the Spirit had not been given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.
- Charlie Hall
“Praise The Invisible”
There is only One, who is worthy of all praise. Only One worthy of all honor. There is only One, who upon death, conquered it, took back the keys, and is alive today. Jesus, our Love, our God, the Invisible One! How could we hold back our praise? How could we be silent? One glimpse of Him, one touch from His presence; we cannot help but worship Him with every fiber of our being! His kindness and His love are endless. We can set our hearts at rest in His presence, knowing that He is the One who holds us, knows us, loves us, heals us, and sets us free. There is no other, so deserving of all that we are and all that we have. One taste of His love and we become who we were always meant to be: worshippers!
Psalm 103:1-5 (MSG)
O my soul, bless God.
From head to toe, I’ll bless His holy name!
O my soul, bless God,
don’t forget a single blessing!
He forgives your sins-every one.
He heals your diseases-every one.
He redeems you from hell-saves your life!
He crowns you with love and mercy-a paradise crown.
He wraps you in goodness-beauty eternal.
He renews your youth-you’re always young in His presence.
- Kim Walker-Smith
“Behold The Lamb”
The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!”
People had been waiting. Waiting for so long. How long? Well, that’s hard to say. Waiting for what? The Messiah, the leader, the next Moses, the son of David- the lamb of God. Moses says in Deuteronomy 18:
15 The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your fellow Israelites. You must listen to him.
So at the VERY least, the children of God, the followers of the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob had been waiting for close to 1,400 years. That’s a long time. That’s a lot of years to let the memory fade of a chosen people and for the desire that’s deep in ones heart to slowly dissipate. Not to mention, even if the memory remained, to at least start to doubt and believe that perhaps this was all some sort of misunderstanding or that it was just made up by people of long ago and could not possibly be real.
And through the years how many times had their hearts been broken? How often had they heard rumor that “this could be the one” only to find out that the man was truly just that. A man. One that couldn’t bring freedom from political and governmental bondage, much less, break the chains that truly hold mens hearts from being completely free.
But then one day he appeared. From what seemed to be out of nowhere. Prophesies had been clear. But most people could not see them or at least misunderstood them. The Israelites were looking for a king. One that would finally free them from the oppression of Rome. They wanted a strong military man that could fight battles like David could, bring down the Red Sea upon their enemies like Moses had, or even lead them like one of the many Jewish kings or judges of yesteryear. But God had something very different in mind. Jesus wasn’t concerned so much for the politics or the government of his people. He very well knew and had seen numerous times before that it was the heart that mattered most. If that wasn’t “fixed” then all the other outside circumstances wouldn’t make much difference.
That is why God decided that it was finally time to fix the problem on the inside. The problem of sin that had been passed down to every living being no matter what their circumstances since the very first disobedience from our first earthly Father, Adam. And the most beautiful of all about this “fix”?It would be freely offered by faith and grace. Not gained by works or achievement.
In the book of Exodus, before they are to leave the oppression of Egypt and break away from the chains of slavery, the Hebrew people were given the order to sacrifice a lamb and pour the blood on their doorposts in order for God to know to “passover” their homes and spare their sons death. Jesus would soon become our “lamb of God”, our “Agnus Dei” that would not only take away the sins for that day or year, but for all time.
So here is the cousin of Jesus, John, proclaiming to Israel, and in turn, proclaiming to the whole world “This is Him!” The one that we’ve been waiting for. The one that will bring us that freedom that we don’t even realize that we want or need. The one that can bring healing for every heartache and every worry. The only one that can truly break those chains that bind us and seem to only grow stronger every year. The one that will defeat sin and death and give us the opportunity because of what he has done to do the same. The one that another John proclaims a few years later in his “Revelation” that is surrounded by many creatures, kings, and a great multitude that cries out:
“‘Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty”!
And so we have the opportunity now. Follow the plea of John and “Behold the lamb of God”
- Mac Powell