Joining The Angel Choir

The angels are highly visible around the birth of Jesus Christ in Bethlehem, but here’s the amazing thing—we are invited to join the angelic choir singing praise to Jesus! 

Nowhere else do we see such a concentration of angels as during Christ’s time on earth, and especially at His birth. In the Old Testament prior to Christ’s birth, and in the New Testament following Christ’s ascension, we don’t see as many angels clustered together on Earth— 

    • Gabriel brings a birth announcement to Zechariah 
    • Gabriel brings a birth announcement to Mary
    • an angel talks to Joseph in a dream (three times!) 
    • an angel gives instructions to the wise men in a dream
    • angels minister to Jesus in the wilderness after His battle with the devil 
    • angels are poised for action in case Jesus calls on them prior to His crucifixion
    • angels are present at Christ’s tomb after His resurrection
    • and a massive angel choir sings at Christ’s birth (Luke 2:8-14) 

Charles Wesley wrote a Christmas carol called Hark! The Herald Angels Sing. In the first stanza, we’re invited to “join the triumph in the skies.” But how can someone sing a song grand enough, majestic enough, or worthy enough to honor Almighty God?! That would be like me being asked to compose a song or play something on the piano to honor Mozart—how could I play anything worthy of his musical talent? 

In a similar way, when the Israelites thought about coming into God’s presence, they were gripped with knee-knocking, gut-churning fear (Exodus 19:16-19; 20:18-19)! 

But notice that the angels didn’t sing, “God is born in Bethlehem.” They sang, “Christ is born in Bethlehem.” Christ: the Messiah; the One who sets things right. No wonder this is such good news of great joy that brings peace and God’s favor (Luke 2:10, 14). 

The simple fact is that we couldn’t approach God and join in their angelic song. Instead, Jesus approached us as our Messiah, our Deliverer. How could this happen? Wesley’s carol reminds us that Jesus came so that God and sinners are reconciled! 

The First Advent is God approaching us. If we allow Jesus to reconcile us to our Holy Heavenly Father, then we have no fear of Christ’s Second Advent. His Second Advent will be attended to by angels just like His First Advent (Matthew 25:31-32; Mark 8:38; Jude 1:14-15). Those who haven’t had their sins forgiven will hear a song that is soul-crushing to them, while those who have accepted the reconciling work of Jesus will join with the angelic host in a victorious song bringing glory to God forever and ever (Revelation 14:9-11; 15:1-4). 

We don’t have to wait until we get to Heaven to join the triumph of the skies. We can join the angelic choir right now in singing our praise to God today. And every day! 

Join me this Sunday as we continue to look at the fantastic messages in our Christmas carols. 

Returning Home

And Abram went on his journey from the south as far as Bethel, to the place where his tent had been at the beginning … to the place of the altar which he had made there at first. And there Abram called on the name of the Lord (Genesis 13:3, 4).

While he was in Egypt, Abram pitched no tents nor did he set up any altar of worship. In fact, it was probably unwise of him to go to Egypt in the first place, as there is no record of God telling him to do so. While he was sojourning there, Abram also perpetrated a lie as an attempt to protect himself.

Whenever we take an unwise detour—and then realize it—part of repentance is to return to where we know we previously had met with God. Abram returned it to the place where he had first set up his tents, and worshipped God once again at the altar he had built at first. There he once again “called on the name of the Lord.”

It was from this place (not from Egypt) that God could say to Abram, “Arise, and walk in the land through its length and width, for I give it to you” (v. 17). “THEN” (v. 18)—and only then—was it safe for Abram to move his tents and set up a new altar of worship. 

Prayer—Father, I am sure I have strayed into an Egypt before, sojourning where my wits—and not Your voice—have led me. Thank You, Lord, for protecting me there, and for allowing me to “return home” to the place You intended for me, to the place where Your blessings flow. May I not move forward again unless You direct me. In Jesus name, Amen.

Love Has A Name (YouVersion reading plan review)

I love listening to the Jesus Culture band lead people in worship! Their humble spirits and biblically-sound lyrics are a powerful combination. If you haven’t checked out their latest album called “Love Has A Name,” please do so! And also check out their YouVersion devotional with the same name. 

Love Has A Name is a 10-day reading plan on YouVersion in which the members of the Jesus Culture band have written the devotional for each day. Each devotional is associated with one of the songs on their new album and will take you behind the lyrics to the seed-thought of that song. Then you will also read the biblical passage(s) that were woven into the song’s lyrics. 

Each morning during this 10-day reading plan I read the devotional thought, read the Scripture, and then worshiped along with the song that corresponded with that day’s reading, and then journaled some thoughts. I found that hearing God’s Word sung in such a passionate way was a fantastic way to keep God’s Word in my mind and heart all day long. 

Please check out both the album and the YouVersion reading plan Love Has A Name. 

Thursdays With Oswald—Jeremiah 24

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

Jeremiah 24

[These are notes from Oswald Chambers’ lecture on Jeremiah 24.] 

     The estimate a Christian must hold of his own value is what he is worth to God. You cannot judge whether you are right with God by His blessings because “He makes His sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust” [Matthew 5:45]. God is not meant to bless us; the vital question is—What am I worth to God? In times of affliction am I giving way to self-pity? am I badgering the throne of God for Him to bless me, or am I saying, “Though He slay me, yet will I wait for Him” [Job 13:15]? … 

     The question, “What do you see, Jeremiah?” is the call for Jeremiah to state clearly to himself what it is he sees. ‘Two baskets of figs set before the temple of the Lord’—these symbolize the people as they appear before God. They have been trying to bring wrong things to the altar, and now God is saying He will destroy the evil and wrong out of the nation.

     “Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship” (Romans 12:1). This verse refers to an abiding law, individually and nationally: we cannot consecrate to God anything that is sinful. We cannot present our bodies “a living sacrifice” to God unless we have been cleansed from sin; He won’t have them. The call in this verse is not for sanctification, but for the service of the sanctified. We could never begin to be of worth to God in service until we have been through what is represented in the atoning sacrifice of Our Lord Jesus Christ. That is why the majority of us are of no worth to God. We are of no value to God until we enter into the experience of instantaneous, continuous sanctification, then our “spiritual act of worship” is the offering of ourselves “as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God,” and we no more bother about ourselves.

From Notes On Jeremiah

This is, without a doubt, a challenging word from Oswald Chambers that deserves some time for us to thoughtfully consider it. 

Can God use me? Am I allowing the Holy Spirit to continually and instantaneously stamp the image of Jesus more clearly in my life? Or am I saying, “I’m good like this. I don’t need to go any further”? 

God wants to use us for His glory. Are we allowing ourselves to be in a place where we can be used “as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God”? 

Unexpected Praise

Well, this isn’t what I expected! David says his song in Psalm 9 is supposed to be sung to the tune of “Death Of The Son,” so I’m expecting a prayer that is loaded with minor notes. But instead, David gives us … this! 

The opening verses show us David exploding in praise to God. Check out his vocabulary—

  • I will praise You—this literally means David is pumping his hands in the air
  • I will tell of all Your wonders—David is not doing this just one time but is ticking off a long list of God’s praiseworthy deeds and attributes
  • I will be glad—his face lights up with joy 
  • I will rejoice—this word means a roar of praise (see 1 Chronicles 16:32)
  • I will sing praise—there is a new melody with every praise David lifts to God

Why this loud, exuberant, unexpected praise? Because David has noticed that whatever has “died” on earth is only a temporary loss, but God is forever! 

There is an unusual word pairing at the end of verse 16: Haggaion and Selah. This is the only time these two words appear like this in all of Scripture, and it’s also the only time Haggaion is used without being translated. 

Haggaion appears just four times in the Bible—(a) in Psalm 19:14 where it is translated meditation; (b) in Psalm 92:3 where it is translated solemn sound; (c) in Lamentations 3:62 where it is translated whisper and mutter; and (d) here in Psalm 9 where it is untranslated. 

By combining Haggaion and Selah, David is wanting us to solemnly meditate on an important contrast: God’s way vs. man’s way. In verses 3-16, David uses huge and eternal terms for God like righteous Judge, reigns forever, refuge, stronghold, merciful, and prayer-answerer. 

Side-by-side with these eternal terms for God, David lists the temporary terms for man like stumble, perish, ruined, forgotten, and trapped. In fact, David ends this Psalm by reminding us evil men who do evil things are “mere men.” Other translations fill in the details: 

  • make them realize their frail nature (AMP)
  • show them how silly they look (MSG)
  • merely human (NLT) 
  • puny men (TLB)

Then David ends with a final Selah—one more call for us to allow this message to resonate with us, especially during the times others may call dark, depressing times. The message that should resonate in our hearts and cause us to throw our hands up in joyful celebration of God is…

these earthly things are temporary and God is eternal. He has never forsaken those who seek Him, and He has never forgotten those who call on Him for help. 

When a dark time—a “death of a son”—tries to rock your world, don’t do what puny mortals expect, but throw your hands up in the air, and sing and roar a praise to the Almighty God Who cares for you! 

Join me this coming Sunday as we continue our looks at the Selahs in the Book of Psalms. You can join me in person or on Facebook Live.

9 More Prayers From A.W. Tozer In “The Wisdom Of God”

In each chapter of The Wisdom Of God, A.W. Tozer prayers for us that we would see Wisdom as a Person to be known. Here are a few more of those prayers. 

“Let me not stay my heart till I have discovered Thee in all Thy fullness.” 

“Manifest Thy grace and wisdom in my life today as a witness to those around me.” 

“O Lord God, Thy wisdom has been poured into my heart, creating such a longing for Thee that nothing in this world can satisfy.” 

“Heavenly Father, open my eyes to recognize Thy hand in my life. … May I be aware of my surroundings in light of what Thou art doing.” 

“Let me penetrate the cloud of unknowing and see Thy face and allow it to transform every aspect of my being.” 

“I praise Thee for Thy faithfulness in pursuing me and going to the ultimate end to rescue me from myself.” 

“My heart, O God, needs Thy most sacred protection. Keep me from the infiltration of sin into my life so that I may glorify Thee in everything I do.” 

“I praise Thee, O God, for the restlessness of my spirit has driven me forward to discover my rest completely in Thee.” 

“Dear heavenly Father, may I sent before me only that which will glorify Thee in all the beauty of Thy purity and holiness. I pray Thy wisdom will guide me throughout my life in making the choices that will bless me and honor Thee.” 

You can check out some of the other prayers from The Wisdom Of God that I shared here. You can also read my review of this collection of sermons by clicking here.

Thursdays With Oswald—Jeremiah 10

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

Jeremiah 10

[These are notes from Oswald Chambers’ lecture on Jeremiah 10.] 

     The ungodly disposition in a man makes him worship beings or things or ideas in order to render them powerless, and the same idea is apt to creep into the worship of God amongst Christians if not watched—“God will never let this or that come to me; I am a favorite of His.” Jesus Christ’s life is an illustration as to how God will deal with us, He will not shield us from the world, the flesh or the devil, they are allowed to do their worst because God has staked His all on what He has done in us (see John 16:33; 1 John 4:4). Trials and tribulations are trumpet calls to the witnesses to God. …  

     One moment’s realization that Almighty God is your Father through Jesus Christ, and I defy anything to terrify you again for long. If we realize, what these prophets realized, that nothing can happen without God’s permission, we are kept in peace. Worrying is wicked in a Christian. “Let not your heart be troubled.” How dare we be troubled if Almighty God Who made the world and everything in it, is our Father? … 

     We have got to be holy someday, why not be holy now? … No matter how moral we may be, every domain of our life that is not regulated by the direct application of the wisdom of God is brutish in God’s sight. … 

     The greatest obstruction to the working of God comes from those who give themselves to interpreting the words of God rather than doing them. … Obedience is superbly easy because we have Almightiness on our side. Acknowledge God’s voice, take the step in the right direction and obey, and you will be backed by omnipotence in every detail. 

From Notes On Jeremiah

We go wrong when…

  • …we try to make God in our image, telling others what God will or won’t do 
  • …see trials and temptations only as bad things 
  • …allow our fears to paralyze us to God’s strength
  • …think we are unworthy to call God our Father 
  • …worry obsessively 
  • …block the Holy Spirit from continuing to make us holy
  • …keep God out of certain areas of our life 
  • …hear God’s Word but don’t obey it

I love this question—“We have got to be holy someday, why not be holy now?” Well, why not?! 

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