8/23/14

Wonder and Our Walk


When God captures our hearts with wonder – when we stand in awe of who who He is and what
He does – we should be driven to consider our attitudes, behavior (ways) and relationships.
In other words, wonder should affect our walk. (See some of the things we know about God at the end of this post.)*


We may not know everything about God, but the Bible reveals quite a lot about His character, attributes and plans. If you are in a relationship with God in Christ, and you sit down and read each of the verses in the list at the end of this post, it will likely stir something within you to live for our great God!

But just knowing about God doesn't guarantee we will live for Him. Even Satanwho knows far more than we do about Godstill lives in rebellion against Him.

It is only when Christ redeems us and the Holy Spirit lives within us that we finally have the inner "bent" to obey the Lord. Our stony hearts that only want to rebel against God are transformed. We may obey our Father imperfectly, but our heart and eternal destination are radically changed.
When I focus on the majesty of God and who I am in relation to Him, the Spirit of God brings fresh humility into my soul.  
I want to love him more. I want to obey and serve him more. I want to be like Him in his goodness, love, mercy, faithfulness, etc. Like Paul, I may still do the things that I don't wish to do, because my flesh rises up against the truth, but the Holy Spirit continues to convict me and draw me into closer intimacy with God.

When I stood outside under the starry sky last December on the night that started my journey into "wonder," my insignificance in the universe actually frightened me a bit. I felt so small. I felt like the Psalmist may have felt when he said, "When I consider Your heavens ... What is man that You take thought of him...?" (Psalm 8:3-4a)

But then I remembered what my Father did to give me worth in Christ. What a wonder that He should set his love upon me, redeem me and give a new heart! When I think about the cross, I'm moved to "reset" my heart on following Jesus.

Some time ago, I shared with a group of women about "The Christian Walk" as found in Ephesians 5:1-20. Verse 1 says we should be "imitators of God, as beloved children." We cannot imitate a God we do not know. Just as a child can be seen walking in her father's footsteps on the beach, we can know and closely follow our Father God, step by step.
  • Ephesians 5:2 tells us to walk in love, and subsequent scriptures explain what that looks like.   
  • Verse 8 says, "walk as children of light." Again, we need to learn what the Light of God looks like so we can imitate that light. It should affect our conduct; we need to walk in holiness, because He is holy (1 Peter 1:15-16). 
  • Ephesians 5:15 says, "Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as foolish." We gain this wisdom as we read and apply the truth of the Word of God.
It's interesting to me that following these "Christian Walk" scriptures are clear instructions about our walk in marriage (vv. 22-33). This follows the pattern of knowing God and how He works, and a walk that flows out of wonder concerning His plan. Marriage is to reflect the profound mystery of the relationship between Christ and the Church.

Romans 6:1-5 explains this as well. Because of the wonder and glory of the Gospel message - because we were baptized into Christ in His death (we are dead to sin) and will also to be united with him in a resurrection like His - we are to "walk in newness of life." 

Revival is a fresh awareness of God's presence
 and and understanding of who He is and our relationship to Him.

Perhaps one of the greatest reasons we need a revival of wonder is because our "walk" is often more like "stumbling around" instead of following hard after God.

Do you see the wonder-walk connection in your life?


- Image (adapted) courtesy of franky242 / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

* The Scriptures tell us about God 
(and I'm not even scratching the surface here!)
 
1. God is the Creator (Genesis 1:1-25; Nehemiah 9:6; Isaiah 40:28; Colossians 1:16; Revelation
4:11). 
2. God is sovereign (2 Samuel 7:22; 1 Chronicles 29:11-12; Job 42:2; Psalm 103:19; 115:3; 135:6; Proverbs 16:9; Isaiah 46:9-11; Romans 9:18-21; Ephesians 1:11; 1 Timothy 6:15).
3. God is holy (Exodus 15:11; Leviticus 19:2; 1 Samuel 2:2; Isaiah 6:3-5; Habakkuk 1:13a; 1 Peter 1:15-16)
4. God is just (Deuteronomy 32:4; Psalm 89:14; Romans 3:26; 2 Thessalonians 1:6; 1 John 1:9; Revelation 15:3).
5. God is loving (John 3:16; Romans 5:8; 8:39; Ephesians 2:4; Galatians 2:20; 1 John 4:8, 16).
6. God is good (1 Chronicles 16:34; Psalm 25:834:8; 86:5; 100:5; 119:68; 136:1; Lamentations 3:25; Nahum 1:7; James 1:17).
7. God is merciful (Deuteronomy 4:31; Psalm 145:8; Luke 6:36; Titus 3:5; Hebrews 4:15-16; 1 Peter 1:3).
8. God is faithful (Deuteronomy 7:9; 32:4; Psalm 36:5-6; 89:1, 8, 14; Lamentations 3:22-24; 1 Corinthians 1:9; 10:13; 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24; 2 Thessalonians 3:3).
9. God is wise (Proverbs 3:19; Jeremiah 10:12; Romans 16:26-27; 1 Corinthians 3:19; 1 Timothy 1:17).
10. God is powerful (Genesis 18:14a; Job 9:4; 26:14; Psalm 62:11; 145:3; 147:5; Isaiah 40:28-29; Jeremiah 32:27; Zephaniah 3:17; Matthew 19:26; 1 Corinthians 6:14; Ephesians 3:20-21).












7/19/14

Wonder and Our Wisdom

The wisdom of God makes me wonder about Him sometimes. I simply cannot understand what He's doing. But it's foolish to jump to conclusions about the Lord.

Proverbs 3:7 says, "Be not wise in your own eyes." Instead, we need to "fear the Lord, and turn away from evil." The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom in our hearts (Psalm 111:10a)
Isaiah 5:21 takes this a step further and says, "Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes, and shrewd in their own sight!"

Part of my wonder over God is knowing that I can never completely know what He is thinking. He is omniscient; He knows everything - and I, as one of His simple creatures, do not.

But on the other hand, the Lord gives us wisdom (Proverbs 2:1-6). The apostle Paul says to believers: "... we have the mind of Christ" (1 Corinthians 2:16b). And Jesus told his disciples, "... everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you" (John 15:15b). And after Jesus' ascension to heaven, He left believers the indwelling Holy Spirit who guides us (John 16:13-16; 1 Corinthians 2:6-16) and reveals truth to us.

Given all the wisdom we have from God and His Word, it is foolish to lean on our own understanding (Proverbs 3:5-6; 12:15).

One of the most amazing scriptures about God's wisdom is 1 Corinthians 1:25. On the surface, it appears God can be foolish, but the meaning is: those things that God requires, commands or appoints for us may seem foolish to people; but there is simply no comparison between God's wondrous wisdom and the "wisdom" of the world. He is the source of all true wisdom, and the wisdom of this world is "folly" with God (1 Corinthians 3:19).
The "world system"ungodly secular philosophies, anti-God worldviews and false religionsviews the cross and Jesus' sacrifice as "foolishness," but those who have been transformed by its power appreciate the wonder and wisdom of God in sending His Son to die for the sins of the world.
Many powerful wisdom principles are found in the book of Proverbs. The writer of Proverbs urged his son to make his ear "attentive" to wisdom and to incline his heart toward understanding (Proverbs 2:1-2). The Lord, he said "stores us sound wisdom for the upright" (v. 7).

When we sow wisdom, we reap many benefits. It will "keep" and "guard" us; and when we prize wisdom, it can lead to honor (4:5-8, 13). Proverbs also encourages us to walk with the wise, because their wisdom can rub off on us (13:20; see also 1 Corinthians 15:33). Wisdom is an advantage in moving toward success (Ecclesiastes 10:10b). It will also help us fight our battles (20:18; 24:6).

While the Spirit of God gifts some with unusual wisdom (1 Corinthians 12:8a; Ephesians 1:17), we can all ask for and receive more wisdom (James 1:5). In fact, wisdom was the one thing I remember praying for as a little girl.

Taking all of these scriptures into account, I see at least eight ways we can grow in godly wisdom. We can:
  • Seek God's heart and perspective.
  • Pray and listen for His voice.
  • Read and meditate on Scripture.
  • Evaluate and discipline our thinking.
  • Compare biblical and secular philosophies.
  • Obey the Truth and reject worldly ideas.
  • Heed godly counsel.
  • Choose our friends carefully
How are you sowing God's jewels of wisdom into your life?

6/21/14

Wonder and Our Worth



When I take time to wonder over God and all He has done, I can't help but express gratitude for one act of creation that's very personalme!

I say with the Psalmist, "I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well" (Psalm 139:14).

I do not accept the theory of evolution, because I know I am more than a grouping of cells. I'm more than a system of thoughts or the will to live. I have a spiritual nature. 

I can only understand who I am in light of who God is.

Author Laurie Wallin expresses how our uniqueness is "wonderful" in her book, Why Your Weirdness Is Wonderful: Embrace Your Quirks and Live Your Strengths. She says we carry a unique "design motif" from God. And He felt we were "worth fashioning."

"Our lives, our work and our presence here matter more than we can imagine," Wallin wrote. "When we look at our lives, full of the mundane in many ways, we must not miss the elegance of their design. We can't get lost in what we see as flaws when the fact that our hearts beat independently of anything we do makes us miracles."

God created me (Psalm 139:13) with purpose, just as He created the first couple in the Garden. He didn't mess up when He designed mankind. He created Adam and Eve to be perfectand with His personal touch. They were created in His own wonderful image (Genesis 1:26-27) and He breathed into them His own breath of life (Genesis 2:7). 

Mankind still carries the stamp of that image, even though we suffer from the consequences of The Fall. 

It's an awesome, audacious thoughtthat I could bear His image when I am so ungodlike.

So I had to consider: What does this Image of God—this imago Dei—look like? 

One way for me to try to grasp the concept is to think of a fax machine, or even a snapshot. They are copies of the real thing. But it's more than that. It's not about looking like God, but rather, being imprinted with His character.

In other words, I resemble God or mirror Him in many ways because of His "imprint."

  • I have a spiritual nature because my God is a Spirit (John 4:24).
  • I have a measure of intelligence because my God is a rational, reasoning, intelligent being (Isaiah 1:18).
  • I can speak words and express thoughts because my God communicates.
  • I have emotions because my God has emotions (1 John 4:16; Psalm 11:5).
  • I relate to others socially because my God is relational. We were made for fellowship with God and others, not meant to live alone (Genesis 2:18).
  • I can make moral choices because my God is a moral, volitional being. I can reason and choose because God gave me the freedom to do so. My moral compass is damaged because of sin (James 1:14-15), but His law is written on my heart (Romans 2:15), and I can choose the way of freedom (Galatians 5:1). I can put on His holiness (Ephesians 4:24).
  • I can live with purpose because my God is a purposeful being with a sovereign will.
  • I can create beautiful things because my God is a Creator. I can make inventions, write a book or song, and even "create" simple things like my dog's name!
  • I will live forever, because God breathed His breath into my soul. 

We don't have all of God's attributes, of course, because He is God and we are not. (For instance, we are not all-knowing; we are not all-powerful.) We desperately need a Savior to save us because, though we are imprinted with God's image, we are still dead in our sins (Romans 3:23; 8:6-9; 1 Corinthians 2:14; 1 John 4:14).

Also, although we are all made in His image, God is marvelously creative. We are unique individuals and He has a distinct, wonderful plan for each of our lives. Our greatest satisfaction and fullness will come as we seek the will of God in our daily choices and cooperate in our sanctification—allowing the Father and Spirit to make us like Jesus, the full expression of godliness (1 Corinthians 1:30; Colossians 1:15; Hebrews 1:3).

The wonder of all wonders is that God saw fit to redeem me and restore His untarnished image in me. He gives me worth through His Son. It is the wonder of the "new self (Ephesians 4:24) that comes through Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17).

Have you found your truth worth in Christ?

*Quote:  Laurie Wallin, Why Your Weirdness Is Wonderful 
(Abingdon Press, Nashville, 2014), pp. 59-60. 
Image adapted, courtesy of imagerymajestic / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

5/24/14

Wonder and Our Worship - Part 2

In the last post, I said, "... there is ... a connection between wonder and worship."

Nowhere is this more evident than in our hymns and songs of faith. There are so many I could share, but I want to share a song that moved me deeply as a young woman.

I woke up at 3 am recently, singing phrases to that old song, but I could only remember a few phrases. I went back to sleep, but the next morning I tried to find the hymn online. I found another song with a similar title, but it wasn't the one I remembered, so I asked God to help me find the right song.

A few days later at my church in Southern California, I ran into two dear friends. Don and his wife were visiting from Pennsylvania. He was my former choir director and also the professor teaching music where I attended college years ago.

After I shared my frustration in remembering the songand the few phrases I recalledlater that night Don graciously sent me a link. Some students in a secondary school in Sabah, Malaysia, were singing the song!

"O Lord my God, how wonderful Thou art 
To make our world and satisfy man's heart. 
I fail to comprehend it all somehow. 
O mighty God, how wonderful art thou."

Some people might call that encounter with my former choir director a "God-thing." But to me, it was simply an answer to prayer and another example of my "wonder"-full God showing me His love. 

I wrote about my faithful God's love in "The Blessing Basket," a chapter in the book, It's a God Thing. In my early 20s, as a young woman on a revival team, God provided for me in a way that clearly showed me I was not forgotten. My wonder over God's goodness reached down into my heart then, and here I am, in my mid-sixties, still amazed by my Father's goodness, loving-kindness and mercy.

But it is wonder with experience now.

God proves His faithfulness to me over and over. His presence is tangible in my deepest trials, His comfort is precious in my deepest sorrows, and His wisdom is supreme when I flounder in confusion. 

He is more wonderful to me today than 40 years ago! And that's how it should be as we grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord (2 Peter 3:18).

And yet I feel like I'm only scratching the surface. There is so much more to discover. I feel like the apostlemy heart still cries out, "Oh, that I may know Him!" (Philippians 3:10)

My testimony today is, God has satisfied my heart ... with Himself. There are times when I toy with lesser things; but I've found even the people and things I love most can fail me. Only God's love and His Word never fail.  
"Give thanks to the Lord of lords ... to him who alone does great wonders, for his steadfast love endures forever ... Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away" 
 (Psalm 136:3-4; Luke 21:33). 

Although the chorus is different in the original wording, I hope this song I lovewritten by Esther Duvall Eden in 1959, with music written by Blanche Osbornwill encourage your own wonder of our great God. It's titled "O Lord My God, How Wonderful Thou Art."


I walk at night beneath majestic skies
And know behind them is a God all-wise,
Who fixed all stars, each in its lonely place,
And wrapped them in a darkened robe of space.      

Chorus:
O mighty God, how wonderful art Thou To love the world while heav'ns before Thee bow.
 I fail to comprehend it all some how. O mighty God, how wonderful art Thou.

I see the moon, the stars in distant space,
And think of how the God of matchless grace
Is coming in the clouds to claim His own -
Such wonders that on earth cannot be known. (Chorus)

I scan the heav'ns with rapture in my soul
And wonder how the God Who made the whole
Could ever fix His thoughts on such as I
And give His Son upon the cross to die. (Chorus)


The wonder of creation ... the wonders of heaven. These are truly amazing. But the wonder of salvation is beyond comprehension. Those last two lines in the third verse stir my heart.

Why would this mighty God fix his thoughts on someone the likes of me? A sinner. So selfish. Not caring about Him or His kingdom. His enemy. And greater still ... how could He send His Son to die ... for me?  

Truly He is a wonderful God of matchless grace, and I worship Him today.

Do you know this wondrous God? If not, do you want to know Him? (Here's how.) The wonder and beauty of The Gospel Story* is this:
  • We were made for God's glory.
  • But our hearts are shattered by sin.
  • God made a way for us to be restored: the Good News!
  • In Christ, we are new creatures with eternal life - hope for the future.
I do hope you know Him.

* "The Gospel Story" resource from ReviveOurHearts.com

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