The kids at our church are really learning to pray with power and such beautiful faith. Sunday, before I was to lead worship at C5 Church, some of the C5 Kids gathered with me to pray. I felt little hands around one of my ankles, then I heard these words, "God, bless Pastor Connie, and the steps that she takes, back and forth and forward and back, let them bring joy and glory to you." I looked up, and it was a little 6 year old boy named Liam. Wow! Did he even know that I have a habit of walking back and forth, forward and back when I lead worship? I doubt it. The kids are in another building during worship at our church. I was blown away by his insight and simple request to God.
That little prayer of faith was precious to me, because Liam knew the truth. He understood that the Lord takes delight in our steps. Psalm 37:23 tells us, "The steps of the God-pursuing ones follow firmly in the footsteps of the Lord. And God delights in every step they take to follow Him." (Passion Translation)
In Rome there is a place called the Scala Santa, the Holy Stairs or Sacred Steps. These steps were brought to Rome from Jerusalem by Helen, Emperor Constantine's mother, 300 years after Jesus' death. These stairs are said to have been the steps in Pontius Pilate's mansion, where Jesus came the night he was tried. These are the steps Jesus took when He was led like a lamb to the slaughter. It is on these stairs that He walked in step with the will of the Father to lay down His life for mankind.
I visited these steps a short time ago and joined together with thousands of pilgrims who came before me, who climbed each step on their knees. With each step, I was keenly aware of the weight of the decision Jesus made. With each step He could've said, "NO". With each step, He chose me. He chose you. He willingly walked those steps to pay the price for our sin.
There was a sacred silence in that place, yet emotions ran the gamut. Many cried, they whispered long silent prayers, some kissed each step, others tucked written prayers into the crevices of the stairs, as if they were tucking hidden love notes in a secret place, a place He would know to look.
He knows. He is familiar with our suffering, and acquainted with our grief. He is aware of every step we take. And yet, as we follow in His footsteps, we need to understand the big picture!
"We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God's throne." Hebrews 12:2 (NLT)
He endured, for the joy set before Him. The joy was us! He chose me and He chose you. He had us in mind and He looked forward to the joy He would have in delighting in each step we take toward Him. The joy He would have when we would say yes to following Him. The joy He would have in spending eternity with us.
Each step you take is holy unto the Lord. He delights in each one, because He takes great joy in you! You were worth it! Your eternal destiny was worth it! For the joy set before Him!
I don't think we have any concept of what eternal joy will be like. We think, worry free, pain free, sorrow free, sickness free, we think of the things that WON'T be there. What I can't wait to see is what WILL be there! For all the things I don't know and can't comprehend, this I do know. He is my joy, He is my delight, and through sunshine or shadow, I will follow Him.
What holy steps are you taking to follow Him today?
When we rounded the corner and I captured my first view of the holy city I felt as though I had the wind knocked out of me. It was more grand than I had imagined. Every column encircling the square was topped with majestic sculptures of disciples, martyrs turned saints. All the major players of scripture were there. Larger than life. The closer we got to the square, my mind was flooded with music. One particular song, actually. It was so loud, so clear. The sound of it mingled with the sounds of the fountain and the church bells and the pilgrims.
"All the saints and angels,
Bow before your throne.
All the elders cast their crowns
before the lamb of God and sing.
You are worthy of it all.
You are worthy of it all.
From you are all things and to you are all things,
You deserve the glory!"
This magnificent place, built to make man feel small, to cause him to constantly look up and behold the glory and magnificence of God. His awe and splendor are on full display in every corner and crevice. When I looked at this glorious place, my troubles seemed insignificant. I felt as though, God is real, and my "stuff" is not so big.
We walked through the holy door, into the jubilee of mercy without even realizing it. You see, the holy door is opened only during times of jubilee. 2016 is a jubilee year, and the door has been opened.
God has prepared for us a jubilee year. Every promise he has whispered in the dark times of the past, He has orchestrated for us to walk into in 2016. The door is open, whether we are aware of it or not. His mercy has been given to us and we are walking in it, even when we are oblivious to HIs goodness.
The enemy does not want us to be fully aware of the glory of God. He will throw roadblocks our way, he will try to frustrate our efforts, to discourage us and to skew our perspective. Now is the time for us to fix our gaze on the reality of His glory. His magnificence. His kindness to humanity. His continued desire for relationship with us. His plans to prosper us. His plans to give us HOPE and a future.
When all is said and done, and this jubilee year is passed, I believe we will be amazed at all He has done. All the praise and honor we ascribe to Him at the end, He is worthy of NOW. Because in reality, it is already DONE.
"For all the promises of God in Him are Yes, and in Him Amen, to the glory of God through us." 1 Corinthians 1:20 (NKJV)
I will praise Him. No matter what my circumstances appear, He is worthy of it all. I will worship Him. When trials and tests and discouragement come, He is still worthy of all my adoration. I will bow before Him. When things begin to turn and I don't "feel the need" for Him as much, I will cling to my Jesus, He is worthy of it all. When victory is had, I will cast my crown before His feet, because He is worthy of it all.
How are you approaching this year of jubilee? Are you looking up?
"Worthy of It All", words by David Brymer, music by David Brymer and Ryan Hall.
Who is God? Have you ever wondered?
I have been a good church going Christian all my life. I have learned, un-learned and re-learned so many great Bible stories through the years. I have attempted to imagine all of Jesus' miracles, to acknowledge what He accomplished for me on the cross, to grasp the great mercy He poured out upon my life, and to live in the amazing victory He gained for my life through His resurrection. I have prayed to Jesus, after all there is only one name by which we can be saved.
I love Jesus like a friend. Sometimes He is my rescuer. At other times He is my healer. Many times He is my comforter and the voice of wisdom that speaks in the midst of my noisy world.
But who is God? In my quest to answer this question, I often pictured God sitting on a great white throne in heaven, not unlike Abraham Lincoln on his perch in Washington DC's famous monument. But somehow I knew He was not really that cold, hard, immovable Diety that I imagined.
In my search, I came across this beautiful verse, written by the Apostle Paul that attempts to describe this great big God that we worship. "He (Jesus) is the exact living image [the essential manifestation] of the unseen God [the visible representation of the invisible], the firstborn [the preeminent one, the sovereign, and the originator] of all creation." Colossians 1:15 (Amp.)
So if I wanted to know who God is, I have to look again at who Jesus is. Tender, full of compassion, willing to go after the one, righteous, kind, powerful, just, over the top provider of my salvation, Jesus. So this also is God!
The Passion Translation says, "He is the divine portrait, the true likeness of the invisible God,..."
God is not austere or hard, or far away! He is with us! God is with me!
Paul knew who God was. when he penned this scripture to the church in Colossae, he was in prison in Rome.
I recently returned from a trip to Rome, while there, I had the opportunity to visit this place where Paul was on held before trial. He lived here for 2 years, before being tried and executed.
I snapped a photo of this ancient column standing in the cell where he was held. Legend has it that Paul etched words into this stone pillar with His own hand. (See the letters DEI in the photo.) Scholars theorize that this etching comes from Imago Dei, meaning Image of God. The term has its roots in Genesis 1:27, wherein "God created man in his own image. . ."
Wait, what? I can see His image in my own mirror?
God tells us and shows us who He is all through scripture. From the beginning to the end, where John gives an eye witness description of His awesome appearance in Revelation.
"The hair on his head was white like wool, as white as snow, and his eyes were like blazing fire. His feet were like bronze glowing in a furnace, and his voice was like the sound of rushing waters. In his right hand he held seven stars, and coming out of his mouth was a sharp, double-edged sword. His face was like the sun shining in all its brilliance." Revelation 1:14-16 (NIV)
Who is God to you? In my quest to know Him, I have discovered the immeasurable greatness of this God who created all that there is, holds the universe in the palm of His hand, yet knows my name! The more I know, the more I want to know! God loves to play this game of hide and seek with us, because He wants time with us! He seeks relationship! The unknowable God wants to be known!
So you tell me. Who is God?