4/19/14

Wonder and Our Worship - Part 1

I believe when our wonder over God is revived, it will affect every area of our lives. A spiritual awakening to who God is and what He is doing cannot help but transform us.


One of the areas that will likely change is our worship. Our worship should not be reserved only for Holy Days (Easter and Christmas) or even "worship services" each weekend.

I want to echo the song of Revelation 15:3-4 in my everyday life. It is the song of Moses and the Lamb of God:

"Great and amazing are your deeds, O Lord God the Almighty! Just and true are your ways, O King of the nations! Who will not fear, O Lord, and glorify your name? For you alone are holy. All nations will come and worship you, for your righteous acts have been revealed."

As I mentioned in the last post, there is a connection between wonder--our amazement over God--and the fear of God. But there is also a connection between wonder and worship.

We can worship God as we wonder over His CHARACTER ... CHRIST'S COMING and the power of the CROSS (Philippians 2:7-8) ... the blessing of the COMFORTER (John 14:6; 15:26; 16:7) ... God's handiwork, His CREATION (Psalm 19:1; John 1:3; Colossians 1:16) ... the CHURCH, preserved by Christ Himself (Matthew 16:18) ... and more.

Author Sharon Jaynes writes about the "glory ache" she has to "experience God's presence and working" in her life, but laments that it's so hard to be still and know Him (Psalm 46:10a). "While the world prods, 'Don't just stand there, do something!,'" Sharon wrote, "God was telling me quite the opposite. 'Don't just do something, stand there.'"

Be still. Stand there. LINGER.

We have to linger in God's Word and in quiet times of prayer and meditation to sense the wonder of who He is. We have to fight for that joy. We have to stop our mad dashing from project to project and linger in God's creation, linger with godly friends, linger in awe of what God is doing.

Lingering is hard. Being still is hard. It is so counter to our nature. We always want to "do" for God, but it's more difficult to just sit and "be" with Him. 

Yes, wonder can unlock the intimacy we crave with the Lord, and motivate us. First to be still. And then to allow praise and worship to bubble up in our hearts.

It doesn't really matter what temperament or personality type we have. We all can grow in our wonder of God and learn to better express our awe and worship.

I think King David experienced this pattern of fearing God, focusing on His wonders, and then bursting forth in exuberant praise. In 1 Chronicles 16, David offered a prayer-song to be sung by Asaph and his brothers regularly before the Ark of the Covenant. This is an excerpt from verses 8-36:

"...  give praise to the Lord, proclaim his name; make known among the nations what he has done ... tell of all his wonderful acts. Glory in his holy name ... Look to the Lord and his strength; seek his face always. Remember the wonders he has done, his miracles ... great is the Lord and most worthy of praise ... all the gods of the nations are idols, but the Lord made the heavens. Splendor and majesty are before him; strength and joy are in his dwelling place ... Worship the Lord in the splendor of his holiness ... Praise be to the Lord ...."

The passage concludes, "... all the people said, 'Amen' and 'Praise the Lord.'"

Yes, Amen. Praise the Lord.

How does the wonder over God or His mighty works move you to worship today?

Graphic adapted: Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici / FreeDigitalPhotos.net






3/22/14

Wonder - What's Fear Got to Do with It?

As I've been considering the Wonder of God, it suddenly struck me that my fear of God (or lack thereof) might affect my "wonder" of Him. Was there a connection?

And then I found this scripture, Psalm 33:8 (ESV):

"Let all the earth fear the LORD; let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him!" 

Clearly, our fear of the Lord is somehow connected to our wonder of Him.

I have heard the term "fear of the Lord" described in terms of "reverential awe." To be honest, He is God; we are not! I thought that was sugar-coating the deeper meaning. When we think in terms of God's might and our puniness, this should evoke some real fear.

The word "fear" regarding God comes from the Hebrew and, according to Strong's lexicon, variations on the word in scripture can mean to tremble, dread, fear, stand in awe of, reverence, respect, be terrified, cause to tremble and to inspire reverence or godly fear or awe.

It is a healthy fear born out of our profound awe and respect for God, acknowledging who He is and desiring to submit to His authority (Luke 12:4-5) and power (Habakkuk 3:2), to obey Him (Deuteronomy 6:24; 10:12), and to please Him in all things (Ecclesiastes 12:13).

Yes, God is a God of love, but we must never forget He is angered by sin (Psalm 76:7; Jeremiah 10:10).

We want a comfortable Christianity, not one that confronts us over our sin and God's holiness; and we get uneasy with God's expectations for us. God says, "be ye holy, for I am holy" (1 Peter 1:16; Leviticus 11:44a). He is holy and this is His expectation of us. He wants us to be a pure and holy people as we regard His holiness; and in that, to glorify Him (Leviticus 10:3). It's an impossible task without Christ.

I've found myself sinking into all sorts of attitudes that fail to honor and show reverence to God.
  • I go through the motions of "Christianity," rather than considering the implications of my life in Christ. 
  • I don't keep short "sin accounts" with God. (Do I think He doesn't notice?)
  • I spend relatively few minutes with God in my busy days. 
  • I suffer "eternity amnesia," as described by Paul D. Tripp in his book, Eternity: Why You Can't Live Without It; I forget that I was made to live forever with God. It's all too casual a faith. 

I was meant for so much more. I was meant to live beyond this world. I was meant to glorify, adore and worship the Creator God.

"For who in the skies can be compared to the LORD? Who among the heavenly beings is like the Lord, a God greatly to be feared in the council of the holy ones, and awesome above all who are around him?" (Psalm 89:6-7, ESV)

"Who would not fear you, O King of the nations? For this is your due; for among all the wise ones of the nations and in all their kingdoms, there is none like you" (Jeremiah 10:7, ESV).

I've also found that I cannot have a proper fear of God that leads to awe or wonder unless He is my Teacher. My heart is deceitful, and I sometimes think I am honoring Him when nothing could be further from the truth. I'm living for my puny kingdom instead of my God's majestic Kingdom (Hebrews 12:28-29). My agenda is different from His.

My focus is so scattered. Oh how I, like David, need a single focus. I need to honor God in all I do. I need an "undivided" heart (united/unhypocritical).

So my prayer is, "Teach me your way, O LORD, that I may walk in your truth; unite my heart to fear your name" (Psalm 86:11).

When I fear God best, I can love and praise Him most. When I fear God properly, I am amazed by His works and ways, and I glorify His name. He deserves our reverence and praise, for He is "wonder-full!"

My prayer today is the song of Moses - and the song of the Lamb of God as recorded in Revelation 15:3-4:


“Great and amazing are your deeds, O Lord God the Almighty!
Just and true are your ways, O King of the nations!  
Who will not fear, O Lord, and glorify your name?
For you alone are holy. 
All nations will come and worship you,
for your righteous acts have been revealed.”

Does this resonate with you? How does a proper fear of God motivate you to stand in awe of God and desire to live a pure life before Him?

- Dawn Wilson

2/15/14

Journey into the Wonder of God: What Is 'Wonder'?


I mentioned to a friend, "I'm on a journey to experience more of the wonder of God." She looked at me with a different kind of wonder ... wondering whether I'd fallen off the deep end, spiritually. As I explained what "wonder" means, she understood. Taking this journey is something every Christian should consider.


We respond with jaw-dropping wonder when we survey the Grand Canyon, but are just as likely to
express “Wow!” over a powerful skyline full of skyscrapers or a piece of new technology with bells and whistles. I remember my boys’ wide-eyed wonder the first time they saw fireworks. But what is the "wonder of God"?

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines “wonder” as: “something or someone that is very surprising, beautiful, amazing, etc.; a feeling caused by seeing something that is very surprising, beautiful, amazing, etc.; something that is surprising or hard to believe.” 

To wonder is to be astonished, to admire something that amazes us. The wonder of God is our amazement and admiration of Him.

As I wrote in the last post, I was overwhelmed with wonder as I stood beneath the stars on a clear winter night. I believed the heavens were declaring the handiwork of God just for me that night (Psalm 19:1). It was the beginning of a journey to know my Creator in a more intimate way.

Margaret Feinberg, in her book Wonderstruck: Awaken to the Nearness of God, says she was “wonderstruck” as she stood beneath the beauty of the aurora borealis in Alaska. I lived in Iceland as a teenager, and I understand the beauty of the northern lights.

Feinberg defines the wonder of God: 

“The wonder of God is that moment of spiritual awakening that makes us curious to know God more.”

I’ve had glimpses of the wonder all though my life, pointing me to the Father. 

Once, driving to a speaking engagement, I glanced back and forth along the highway. Suddenly, I realized all the lovely shades of green in the trees and on hillsides. God could have made everything the same green, but He didn’t. He artfully painted our world with fern green, forest green, moss green, chartreuse, and numerous other shades. It’s not just "green."

Another time, while struggling with early stages of arthritis, I
exercised my fingers before a typing project. Bending and unbending the fingers, and considering how hands work, I prayed, “Thank you, God, for my fingersthese hands.” 

Some may consider that moment a little thing; but studying my hand pointed me back to the Creator. In a similar way, God used a colored graphic of the human eye in Gil Killam's life as he sat in the examination room of his eye specialist.

In "The Wonder of It All," Killam wrote, "I studied it for a moment and was astounded at the intricacy of the creation of the eye. I wondered how anyone could deny the existence of a Master Mind that made this amazing organ ...."

Killam's observation caused him to "marvel" at God's great power. He wrote, "We read in Colossians, 'For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth ... all things have been created through him and for him' (Colossians 1:16, NIV). The human body is a fantastic work of the Creator."

Likewise, Dr. David A. Steen, a professional biologist, is repeatedly moved to praise God and declare
His wonderful acts as he explores the breathtaking wonders of creation. He wrote the devotional, God of Wonders, to encourage others to discover this “overwhelming sense of awe.”

Steen’s purpose in pointing us to the God of wonders is that we will praise Him. In his opening notes, he quotes a number of scriptures—Daniel 4:2-3, Psalm 136:3-4, and the scripture I am memorizing, Psalm40:5.

He concludes his introduction with 1 Chronicles16:8-36. Let me share a portion of that passage:

“…give praise to the Lord, proclaim his name; make known among the nations what he has done … tell of all his wonderful acts. Glory in his holy name … Look to the Lord and his strength; seek his face always. Remember the wonders he has done, his miracles … great is the Lord and most worthy of praise… all the gods of the nations are idols, but the Lord made the heavens. Splendor and majesty are before him; strength and joy are in his dwelling place … Worship the Lord in the splendor of his holiness … Praise be to the Lord … Then all the people said, ‘Amen’ and ‘Praise the Lord.’” 

Truly, the wonder of God causes us to marvel. There is a sense of His holy presence, and a hunger to dwell there. There's a deep desire in our hearts to know God's character. My "wonder desire" is to have a fresh glimpse of His kingdom, and to lay aside any lesser kingdoms to praise and serve my King.

Do you see the wonders of this world? Do they point you back to the Designer, our Creator God? Take a moment to praise Him for His wondrous handiwork.