Be The One

Listen to the podcast of this post by clicking on the player below, and you can also subscribe on AppleSpotify, or Audible. 

John Maxwell was right: “Everything rises and falls on leadership.” 

As the leader goes, so goes the family, the neighborhood, the business, the church, the country. Just as Israel’s leaders fell into sin and took the people down with them, so too the religious and political leaders in America are leading people to sin. 

God told Ezekiel, “See how each of the princes of Israel who are in you uses his power to shed blood” (Ezekiel 22:6). These ungodly leaders were described as:

  • disintegrating the family 
  • mistreating orphans and widows 
  • despising God’s holiness 
  • slandering the righteous 
  • promoting idolatry 
  • living lewdly
  • winking at sexual depravity 
  • being dishonest in their business dealings
  • defrauding their neighbors 
  • treating people like possessions 
  • pursuing immoral gain
  • whitewashing evil (vv. 6-12, 25-28)

The bottom line: God says, “You have forgotten Me” (v. 12). 

This kind of evil must be punished by an All-Righteous God. 

But God is still merciful. He is still looking for just one who will turn away from the sins of the culture and live righteously. He is looking “for someone among them who would build up the wall and stand before Me in the gap on behalf of the land so I would not have to destroy it” (v. 30). 

God is looking for just one leader who will seek God’s glory and not personal gain, who will stand for righteousness even if he has to stand alone. 

Will you be that one? 

I pray I may be that one! 

I pray for godly leaders to stand up! “Holy God, may we stand for You in this evil culture. May Your Holy Spirit strengthen us to stand unmoved against the onslaught of depravity. Strengthen us against the evil one and against evil people, knowing that greater are You in us than the evil that is in the world. May we be the ones that refuse to bend our knee to anyone or anything but You. In the powerful name of Jesus, I pray this. Amen!” 

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Spirit-Filled Dads 

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Last week I mentioned that there are numerous people who only appear in the Bible once. They come on the scene—many of them nameless to us—to play their part and then we never hear about them again. 

But we still hear from them because their lives are still teaching us. 

Remember that each of you is God’s gift to the world IF you are using God’s gift in you to glorify God in the world. We meet one of those gifts in the Book of Luke that can teach us Dads some valuable lessons. 

There are several “one-timers” listed by Luke in the Advent story. Luke was a first-rate historian, researching his subject and talking to eyewitnesses to the events. Some of these one-timers have a few details Luke shared with us: 

  • Zechariah and Elizabeth—we know their family lineage (priestly), Zechariah’s role in the temple, and the fact that Elizabeth was barren 
  • Shepherds—we know where they came from (the fields surrounding Bethlehem) and their occupation. 
  • Anna—we know her tribe (Asher), her father (Phanuel), and role (prophetess), and that she had been married and is now widowed. 

But all Luke can say of Simeon is, “There was a man called Simeon…” (Luke 2:25-35). 

Although, even that short introduction is packed with meaning. 

Simeon in Greek means harkening while Simeon in Hebrew means heard. So he was both one who heard God and one who was heard by God. This speaks to me of an intimacy of relationship. Simeon didn’t view his conversation with God as a monologue but as a dialogue. I think that far too often we view our Bible reading time as God simply speaking to us, and our prayer time as us speaking to God. But both of these activities should be a two-way dialogue.

A.W. Tozer has a great definition of a godly leader that I believe accurately portrays Simeon: “A true and safe leader is likely to be one who has no desire to lead but is forced into a position of leadership by the inward pressure of the Holy Spirit and the press of the external situation.” 

I think this means that a safe, godly leader is one who sees what is happening in a Christ-less culture, who then cries out in pain to God, and then who hears the Holy Spirit telling him how to live a holy life in that Christ-less culture.

We could call this external pressure grief over unrighteousness. Simeon so stood out in his culture that Luke calls him “righteous.” This is one whose way of thinking, feeling, and acting is wholly conformed to the will of God. 

He also calls Simeon “devout.” This is a compound Greek word that only Luke uses in the New Testament which means to catch good things and make them your own. Simeon took hold of the things of God, made them his own, and then observed them carefully.

Finally, Luke tells us that Simeon was “waiting for the consolation.” He was living expectantly to see God’s Word come to its fulfillment. He could do all of this because the Holy Spirit was upon him and the Holy Spirit had revealed truth to him. 

That phrase “revealed to him by the Holy Spirit” again speaks to the intimate relationship Simeon had with God. 

Simeon knew that what God promises, He fulfills. He knew the consolation God had promised through Isaiah (Isaiah 40:1-2), and then Simeon saw its fulfillment in Jesus the Christ—

“Sovereign Lord, as You have promised, You may now dismiss Your servant in peace. For my eyes have seen Your salvation, which You have prepared in the sight of all nations: a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of Your people Israel.” (Luke 2:29-32)

In today’s darkening, Christ-less culture, godly men like Simeon are needed again. 

Dads, do you feel the external pressure of today’s culture? If so, I pray that you will also feel the inward strengthening of the Holy Spirit drawing you into a more intimate relationship with Himself.

God gives His Word to men that will wait expectantly and pray fervently for its fulfillment. God is looking for men—for Dads—that will not cave in to cultural pressure. 

Guys, let the Holy Spirit’s inward pressure strengthen you to stand strong. As you see the external downward spiral away from God, don’t collapse, don’t complain, but hear God’s Word and remain a righteous and devout man for your family and your community. 

In our series We Are: Pentecostal, we talked much more in-depth about how the Holy Spirit wants to help us. You can check out all of those messages by clicking here.

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Mother’s Day 2022

Our foolishness can get us into a lot of trouble, so thank God for mothers!

We are going to celebrate Moms by sharing three valuable lessons from a mother we meet in the Bible, as we learn how she saved her family from the consequences of their foolishness.

How wonderful to be able to say with Abraham Lincoln, “All I am, or can be, I owe to my angel mother. … I remember my mother’s prayers and they have always followed me. They have clung to me all my life.”  

If you don’t have a church home, we would love to have you join us.

Thursdays With Spurgeon—The Natural Out-Gushing

This is a weekly series with things I’m reading and pondering from Charles Spurgeon. You can read the original seed thought here, or type “Thursdays With Spurgeon” in the search box to read more entries.

Listen to the podcast of this post by clicking on the player below, and you can also subscribe on AppleSpotify, or Audible. 

The Natural Out-Gushing

If you remain in Me and My words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. (John 15:7) 

   He does not say, ‘If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will do spiritual things,’ but ‘you will ask.’ By prayer you will be enabled to do. But before all attempts to do, you will ask. The choice privilege here given is a mighty prevailing prayerfulness. Power in prayer is very much the gauge of our spiritual condition. …  

     Prayer comes spontaneously from those who abide in Jesus. … Prayer is the natural out-gushing of a soul in communion with Jesus. Just as the leaf and the fruit will come out of the vine without any conscious effort on the part of the branch but simply because of its living union with the stem, so prayer buds and blossoms and produces fruit out of souls abiding in Jesus. … They do not say to themselves, ‘Now is the time for us to get to our task and pray.’ No, they pray as wise men eat—namely, when the desire for it is upon them. …  

     Habitual asking comes out of abiding in Christ. You will not need urging to pray when you are abiding with Jesus. … 

     ‘If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask’—and you will not wish to cease from asking. He has said, ‘Seek My face,’ and your heart will answer, ‘Your face, Lord, I will seek’ (Psalm 27:8). … 

     This power in prayer is like the sword of Goliath. Wisely may every David say, ‘There is none like it; give it to me’ (1 Samuel 21:9). This weapon of all-prayer beats the enemy and at the same time enriches its possessor with all the wealth of God.

 From The Secret Of Power In Prayer

When I first met the beautiful young lady that would eventually become my wife, we spent hours and hours and hours talking with each other. It was how I got to know her heart, and how she got to know mine. My conversations with Betsy are still some of the most cherished times I have. 

But what if after we got married I said to Betsy, “I love you, my darling, and I’m so looking forward to a lifetime with you! I will make it a priority to give you my undivided attention for 90 minutes every Sunday morning. Other than that, I’ll be thinking about you while I go about my busy life.” How intimate is this relationship going remain? 

Sadly, this is how many Christians treat their relationship with Jesus. “Thank You for saving me from the penalty of my sin, Jesus! I love You and I’m so looking forward to an eternity with You in Heaven. I will make it a priority to give You my undivided attention every week at church. Other than that, I’ll be thinking about You while I go about my busy life.” 

This is not abiding. 

No branch can remain healthy and produce any fruit if it is only occasionally attached to the vine. In order for the branch to be fruitful, it must be continually abiding in the life-giving sap of the vine. 

Intimacy with Jesus means abiding with Him at all times. It means engaging in conversation with Him at all times. Brother Lawrence commented, “The time of business does not with me differ from the time of prayer; and in the noise and clatter of my kitchen, I possess God in as great tranquility as if I were upon my knees at the blessed sacrament.” 

My friend, let’s all seek to become more aware of the closeness of Jesus. Let us “take delight in the Lord” (Psalm 37:4) and continually engage Him in intimate conversation. As we do, the fruitfulness of our prayer life cannot help but blossom into beautiful things that give God great joy and glory.

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The Approachable Jesus

Listen to the podcast of this post by clicking on the player below, and you can also subscribe on AppleSpotify, or Audible. 

A friend of mine who was in a position of leadership in the Assemblies of God used to joke with people, “Since you’re bowing and walking backwards out of my office, would you like to kiss my ring too?” There are some people that we feel are in a special class so that we have to approach them differently. 

If we feel that way about certain people, what might we be thinking when we consider approaching the supreme, awesome, preeminent, incomparable Jesus?! It’s very likely that we could feel Him to be unapproachable, as though we aren’t worthy of His attention. 

But when Jesus Himself told us, “When [not ‘if’] you pray,” He is assuming that we will pray. And then He adds this amazing thought: “And I will do whatever you ask in My name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son” (John 14:13)! 

Jesus loves to help us. He died a cruel death on the Cross so that He could help us! Jesus ties our trusting prayer with His willingness to serve us (Luke 12:22-37). Note this last line from our approachable Savior: 

It will be good for those servants whose Master finds them watching when He comes. Truly I tell you, He will dress Himself to serve, will have them recline at the table and will come and wait on them. (v. 37) 

Jesus serves us?! What an amazing thought! But does this make Jesus somehow less majestic? I like what John Piper has to say about this: “Does this belittle the risen Christ—to say that He was and is and will ever be the servant of His people? It would, if ‘servant’ meant ‘one who takes orders,’ or if we thought we were His masters. Yes, that would dishonor Him. But it does not dishonor Him to say that we are weak and need His help.” 

How do we not treat Jesus as an order-taking servant? First, we have to remember that approachable doesn’t mean something we do casually. I think this is discovered in our attitude—it’s the difference between being childlike and being childish. 

The childlike attitude is one of wonder and trust. One that calls God, “Daddy.” One that is lovingly dependent on Him. One that says, “I don’t understand what I’m going through right now, but I trust Your wisdom.” 

The childish attitude is one who treats majestic things flippantly. Perhaps the childish one talks about God as “the Big Guy upstairs.” Or one who remains selfishly independent, or who says, “Do it my way—now!”

The childlike attitude glorifies Jesus as our approachable Servant Savior. 

The childlike attitude also recognizes that there are more dimensions of the majesty of God to be discovered in an abiding relationship with Jesus. Our approachable Savior wants us to come to Him, to call to Him for help, and to know Him more intimately (Jeremiah 29:13-14; Matthew 11:28-30; Hebrews 4:16; 10:19, 22). 

Prayer not only unlocks deeper, proper intimacy with Jesus, but it conforms our heart more and more to His heart. As we are conformed to Him, we reflect His approachable glory to others (2 Corinthians 4:6, 3:18). 

We approach the awesome Jesus reverently in childlike faith. It’s in God’s presence that the Holy Spirit matures our faith so that we become glory-reflectors that point others to Jesus. 

If you’ve missed any of the eight messages in our series Awesome: Learning to pray in the awesome name of Jesus, you can find the list of all of the messages by clicking here. 

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Thursdays With Spurgeon—Where We Live

This is a weekly series with things I’m reading and pondering from Charles Spurgeon. You can read the original seed thought here, or type “Thursdays With Spurgeon” in the search box to read more entries.

Listen to the podcast of this post by clicking on the player below, and you can also subscribe on AppleSpotify, or Audible. 

Where We Live

If you remain in Me and My words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. (John 15:7) 

     Believers do not enjoy the gifts of divine grace all at once. Coming to Christ, we are saved by a true union with Him. But it is by abiding in that union that we further receive the purity, the joy, the power, and the blessedness that are stored up in Him for His people. See how our Lord states this when He speaks to the believing Jews in the eighth chapter of this gospel, at the thirty-first and thirty-second verses: ‘Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”’ We do not know all the truth of God at once; we learn it by abiding in Jesus. 

     Perseverance in divine grace is an educational process by which we learn the truth of God fully. The emancipating power of the truth is also gradually perceived and enjoyed. The truth will make you free. One bond after another snaps, and we are free indeed. …  

     Every believer should be an abider, but many have hardly earned the name as yet. … You have to live with Christ to know Him, and the longer you live with Him, the more you will admire and adore Him, and the more you will receive from Him, even grace for grace. … Jesus, in the esteem of abiding believers, grows sweeter and dearer, fairer and lovelier each day. Not that He improves in Himself, for He is perfect. But as we increase in our knowledge of Him, we appreciate more thoroughly His matchless excellences. 

From The Secret Of Power In Prayer

All of us probably know what “house rules” are. In my home growing up, we took off our shoes when we came in the door; family members came in through the garage door, unless we were bringing a friend home, and then we came in through the front door. A casual observer may not catch these things, but the longer you were in our home, the more clearly you would see these things. 

In the same way, we get more familiar with the “house rules” of our heavenly home the more time we spend there. My cousin Dick Brogden pointed out, “The word ‘abide’ in Greek (meno) is where we get our word mansion, our home, where we spend our time.” 

It’s also as we abide with Jesus that we get to know His heart. And then as we get to know Him better we can pray prayers more aligned to His will, prayers that He delights to answer. This makes our relationship with Him sweeter and sweeter. Just as the old chorus says—

He gets sweeter and sweeter as the days go by
Oh what a love between my Lord and I
I keep falling in love with Him
Over and over and over and over again

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The Incomparable Jesus

Listen to the podcast of this post by clicking on the player below, and you can also subscribe on AppleSpotify, or Audible. 

C.S. Lewis, like many atheists, wondered if the God of the Bible might be an egomaniac because He is always encouraging people to praise Him. In his book Reflections on the Psalms, Lewis wrote a thoughtful response to this after he had become a Christian: 

“Just as men spontaneously praise whatever they value, so they spontaneously urge us to join them in praising it. ‘Isn’t she lovely? Wasn’t it glorious? Don’t you think that magnificent?’ … I think we delight to praise what we enjoy because the praise not merely expresses but completes the enjoyment; it is its appointed consummation. It is not out of compliment that lovers keep on telling one another how beautiful they are; the delight is incomplete till it is expressed. … This is so even when our expressions are inadequate, as of course they usually are. But how if one could really and fully praise even such things to perfection—utterly ‘get out’ in poetry or music or pain the upsurge of appreciation which almost bursts you? Then indeed the object would be fully appreciated and our delight would have attained perfect development. The worthier the object, the more intense this delight would be.” 

His phrase, “our expressions are inadequate” is especially true when we are attempting to appreciate and praise the Infinite, the Eternal, the Omnipresence, the Omnipotence of our God and Savior! But the biblical authors call for Christians to mature in this—we want to keep praising, keep expressing, until we finally find the perfect fulfillment in His presence. 

Paul talks about the maturing nature of love—when I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child (1 Corinthians 13:11)—but then he prays for us to grow in both our understanding and our expressions of our Savior’s love (Ephesians 1:17-19). 

I like the wording of Ephesians 1:19 in the King James Version: the exceeding greatness of His power to us-ward. The word “exceeding” means God pours out in a way that is beyond human imagining. The Greek word that Paul uses for “greatness” is only used here, and it reinforces the truth that God is beyond our full comprehension. And then Paul adds that this overflowing, incomparable power is directed “to us-ward”! 

Paul then prays for us to be able to understand ever-increasing new dimensions of this transcendent power and ability that God directs to us through His Son Jesus, and for us to be able to express it (Ephesians 3:14-19). In other words, we are to grow in our experience of Jesus so that we can grow in our praise to Jesus. 

The incomparable Jesus means at least four things for us. It means Jesus is…

  1. …beyond comparison. Isaiah, God Himself, and the psalmists ask rhetorically, “Who is like God? Who could ever compare to Him?” (Isaiah 40:13-14, 18, 25; Psalm 89:5-8).  
  1. …matchless in His power. Isaiah 40:12 says God holds the waters of the world in the hollow of His hand. How much water is this? Scientists estimate the Earth’s water supply to be 326 quintillion gallons of water (that’s 326 followed by 18 zeros)! Not only does God hold all of the water, but He directs its activities on behalf of His children (Exodus 15:11-13). 
  1. …unequaled in knowledge. Isaiah 40:12, 26 tell us that all of the stars in our universe fit onto God’s outstretched hand, and that He knows all of the stars by name. How many stars is this? Astronomers calculate the heavens to contain 10 septillion stars (that’s 10 followed by 24 zeros)! Not only does God know each star by name, He knows each human by name, and the smallest of details about each of them (Isaiah 49:16; Matthew 10:29-31). 
  1. …inimitable in His care. We humans can get to the end of our strength, but God never does. He cares for us unlike anyone else or anything else ever can (Isaiah 40:28-31). The Lord hears His people when they call to Him for help. He rescues them from all their troubles (Psalm 34:17). 

Knowing we have a Savior like this, why would you ever settle for anything less The Genuine?! 

Our incomparable Jesus wants us to pray in His incomparable name so that our incomparable Father can answer in a way that brings Him incomparable glory! We’re helped, He’s lifted up, and others are drawn to Him. 

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If you’ve missed any of the messages in this series on prayer, you can find a list of all of the messages by clicking here. 

A Safe Place For Mistakes

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Josh had just graduated from high school when I came to pastor in Cedar Springs. As I sat with this outstanding young man I asked him what he wanted to do next. 

“I’m not exactly sure,” he told me, “but I really feel like it’s something involved with ministry.” 

“Great!” I responded. “Let’s start experimenting.” 

I told Josh that our church was going to be a safe place to experiment: to plan new things, to try new things, to prayerfully evaluate the results, and then to use those results to plan new things. Josh jumped in right away, and over a short period of time we were eventually able to ascertain just how God had wired Josh for his niche of ministry. 

But this would have never happened without some missteps along the way. 

That’s okay. 

Leaders need to create an environment where it’s safe to make mistakes, because mistakes are a vital component of learning. 

My wife is a 3rd Grade teacher. A bulletin board in her classroom lovingly tells her students, “Our classroom is a safe place to make mistakes,” and then she gives them the keys to their successful learning. 

Leaders can help those around them grow through their mistakes by constantly reinforcing these six principles: 

  1. When someone complains, “This is too hard,” remind them, “This may take some time and effort.” 
  2. When someone says, “I’m not good at this,” prompt them to ask, “What am I missing?” and then encourage them to add, “I’m not good at this yet.” 
  3. When someone wants to settle with, “It’s good enough,” challenge them to ask themselves, “Have I given this my best effort?” 
  4. When someone wants to throw in the towel by saying, “I made a mistake,” remind them, “I failed is not the same thing as I am a failure,” and then remind them, “Mistakes help me learn.” 
  5. When someone is exasperated and says, “I give up,” come alongside them with, “Let’s try a strategy we’ve already learned.” 
  6. When someone says, “I can’t do this,” you need to lovingly encourage them with, “You can do this!” 

These responses will help foster an abundance-mindset environment where people aren’t defeated by their mistakes, but they’re energized to reengage and try again. As the brilliant inventor Thomas Edison quipped, “I’ve had a lot of success with failure.” 

Leaders, let’s make our spaces the safest places for the mistakes that lead to discovery, growth, and success. 

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The Divine Jesus

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I was teaching a class for my team members, and at one of the breaks a new employee came up to me to say how much he was enjoying the day, and to tell me that he would like to do what I was doing. I asked him, “But do you want to do what I did in order to do what I’m doing?” When I explained that I read about 10-12 books for this training time, and that it took me about 40 hours to prepare for our 4-hour class, he didn’t seem as interested. 

Most people don’t want to put in the work, but they just want the results. As Christians we need to remember these words from William Penn: “No pain, no palm; no thorns, no throne; no gall, no glory; no cross, no crown.” 

The human Jesus understands and empathizes with our painful struggles, and the divine Jesus helps us endure through these painful struggles to get the rewards on the other side. 

What do we mean by divine? The dictionary simply defines it as things relating to God or gods, so we need to use some context to help us understand who this divine Jesus is. After all, the New Testament refers to both Jesus and Artemis as divine (Romans 1:20; Hebrews 1:1-3; Acts 19:27). 

One way we can distinguish is by doing what the writer of Hebrews advised: “Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith” (Hebrews 13:7). We see that the so-called worshippers of Artemis were more interested in their own financial gain than they were her divinity (Acts 19:23-27). In contrast, the apostle Paul demonstrated a totally Jesus-focused lifestyle: “However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace” (Acts 20:24). 

Paul was following Jesus, and called all Christians to do the same. He noted that Jesus gave up all of His divine privileges to become our human Jesus, but because of this obedience, God made the divinity of Jesus shine more gloriously than anything else in creation! Then Paul transitioned to a word specifically for Christians: 

Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill His good purpose. (Philippians 2:12-13) 

In essence this is like Jesus saying, “I want you to have what I have, but you will have to do what I did to get it: That is, go through the painful struggles of life. But I will be right here with you every single step of the way!” 

The writer of Hebrews echoes this idea by reminding us that Jesus was made perfect through suffering, and so are we. So he calls us to “not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded.” He also reminds us that although the times of suffering are not pleasant, there is an unimaginable reward on the other side (Hebrews 2:9-11; 10:35-39; 12:1-11).

I especially like this conclusion: “No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it” (Hebrews 12:11).

The divine Jesus has made it possible for us to be rewarded as He was rewarded! His divine power leads to our divine nature. And His divine power helps us defeat the world’s weapons (2 Peter 1:3-4; 2 Corinthians 10:4) 

Jesus asks, “Do you want to do what I did in order to do what I’m doing?” The power of the divine Jesus can help us be perfected, but we only get to this perfected place by suffering as He suffered. That’s why we need to know our human Jesus understands, empathizes, and helps. 

Most people don’t want to put in the work, but they just want the rewards. Our divine Savior helps us work out what God has worked in us. He helps us get the rewards! 

If you’ve missed any of the messages in our series on prayer called Awesome: Learning to pray in the awesome name of Jesus, you can find all of the messages by clicking here. 

►► Would you please prayerfully consider supporting this ministry? My Patreon supporters get behind-the-scenes access to exclusive materials. ◀︎◀︎

The Beautiful Jesus

Listen to the podcast of this post by clicking on the player below, and you can also subscribe on AppleSpotify, or Audible. 

I think we all know the cliche, “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” But isn’t that too shallow? Are we really saying that beauty is only what we can see on the surface? Instead, I think we should say, “True beauty is in the heart of the beholder.”   

Where does beauty begin? What is its source? 

Jesus told us, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” I can only love others to the level that I love myself, and that also means that I can only see beauty in others as I see it in myself. But if I try to achieve this by just loving myself or telling myself how beautiful I am, my pride comes in and crumbles the whole foundation. 

So the first thing Jesus told us was to go to the Source—to Love Himself: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength” (Mark 12:30-31). When we come to our Heavenly Father through our beautiful Savior we discover how beautiful we are in Him. We are clothed in the righteous robes of Jesus, which makes us as beautiful as He is. Then our Father sings His love to us (see Song of Songs 2:10, 4:7). 

The dictionary defines beauty this way: “The quality present in a thing or person that gives intense pleasure or deep satisfaction to the mind.” But the word beauty originated from a Latin word that meant good or virtuous. Sadly, our vain world has made beauty something that is only skin deep, and very rarely is someone’s goodness or virtue described as beautiful. 

Let me say it again: “True beauty is in the heart of the beholder.” Peter and Jesus both make this same point, reminding us that something beautiful on the outside can actually be covering up something quite ugly on the inside, or to say it another way: true beauty is far deeper than merely what we see with our eyes (1 Peter 3:3-4; Matthew 23:27). 

On the other hand, Isaiah prophesied about Jesus that, “there was nothing beautiful or majestic about His appearance, nothing to attract us to Him” (Isaiah 53:2 NLT). Outwardly, especially at His crucifixion, Jesus was grotesque, but this ugliness was our ugliness—our sin, and our disease, and our pride that Jesus took on Himself. He willingly took on our ugliness to allow us to exchange ashes for beauty, mourning for rejoicing, and sin for righteousness (Isaiah 53:2-5; 61:1-2, 9-10). 

So in prayer, we go to the One who isn’t beautiful in the eyes of a vain world. Jesus made Himself nothing, taking on the very nature of a servant, He came not to be served but to serve, He washed dirty feet, He hung out with sinners, He didn’t stay at the Ritz (He didn’t even have a home of His own), and He had only one set of clothes to wear. But He willingly took on all of our pain and sin so that He could take away our ugly robes and clothe us in His beautifully perfect robe of righteousness. 

It’s only when I know how beautiful and loved I am in God’s sight that I can begin to love others and see the beauty in them. 

Looking at True Beauty is the only way I can see myself correctly. Looking at True Beauty I can see the intrinsic worth and beauty in others. 

Prayer takes me to the beautiful Savior. Prayer reveals Christ’s beauty in me. Prayer brings His beauty to a vain world. 

“Without prayer the Christian life, robbed of its sweetness and its beauty, becomes cold and formal and dead; but rooted in the secret place where God meets and walks and talks with His own, it grows into such a testimony of divine power that all men will feel its influence and be touched by the warmth of its love.” —E.M. Bounds 

I pray that we will know this truth—that true beauty is in the heart of the beholder—and that we will truly know that Real Beauty is only found when we gaze at our beautiful Savior. 

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If you’ve missed any of the messages in our series on prayer called Awesome: Learning to pray in the awesome name of Jesus, you can find all of the messages by clicking here.

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