Tuesday, April 21, 2015

A Crown for a King

based on “Jesus, We Crown You with Praise” by Lanny Wolfe

During the celebration of Easter, we saw the passion of Jesus Christ as told in the story of His journey to the cross.  We saw His trials, His torture, His crucifixion and His resurrection.  If you listen closely you can still hear Jesus being referred to as “the king”.  If Jesus really is king, I wonder what kind of crown He might have.

Born as a lowly baby to a poor, working-class mother and father, the King of Glory slipped into humanity like a hand slips into a glove- He became flesh and lived among us.  His life and work, His miracles and teachings are recorded for us in scripture, but His earthly life drew to a close amongst some of the most humiliating treatment humanity could invent.  You probably know the story well, how the soldiers who tortured Him, brought mockery to Jesus being called a king.

The soldiers prepared a crown of thorns for His head, and a purple robe for His shoulders, and mockingly bowed to His Majesty.  This was the best that humanity could do for the king of glory.  It was as though the people of Jesus time showed the true colors of all mankind as they praised Him at the triumphant entry, and brought Him to humiliation and crucifixion a few short days later.  What a crown for a king!

Lanny Wolfe wrote a song entitled, “Jesus, We Crown You With Praise”, and in it he makes reference to the first time Jesus came to this earth.  
The first time You came they crowned You with thorns
As on an old rugged cross You were laid
But the next time You come it won’t be as before, 
for this time we’ll crown You with praise!

The miracle of Jesus resurrection brought correction to the mockery of the soldiers who doubted and degraded Jesus’ majesty and glory.  He showed once and for all that His kingdom far surpassed their own, and that His authority outweighed that of any king or emperor of this earth.  If Jesus had stopped there, with that brilliant display of His power and authority over death, it would have been enough.  Jesus, however, was not nearly finished with His reign.

He continues to be the first and last over all creation, the mighty and eternally existing God.  He is King over all kings, and Lord over all lords.  And one of the most impressive of all His claims to His disciples was that He would one day return to bring His followers into His kingdom in heaven.  John 14:2-3 says, "In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?  And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.”  Again, from Lanny Wolfe’s song, these lyrics:

Jesus we crown You with praise
Jesus we corwn You with praise
We love and adore You
Bow down before You
Jesus we crown You with praise!

It is time to see Jesus as king.  Whether on this earth, or when we stand before Him at the end of days, every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord!

Order My Steps

Order My Steps- Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir

Order my steps in Your word dear Lord,
lead me, guide me everyday,
send Your anointing, Father I pray;
order my steps in Your word,
please, order my steps in Your word.

Humbly, I ask Thee to teach me Your will,
while You are working, help me be still,
Satan is busy, God is real;
order my steps in Your word,
please, order my steps in Your word.

Bridle my tongue let my words edify,
let the words of my mouth be exceptable in Thy sight,
take charge of my thoughts both day and night;
order my steps in Your word,
please order my steps in Your word.

I want to walk worthy,
my calling to fulfill.
Please order my steps Lord,
and I'll do Your blessed will.
The world is ever changing,
but You are still the same;
if You order my steps, I'll praise Your name.

Many people these days have learned to make use of navigational systems like GPS, smartphones, and other devices.  It is one of the easiest ways to find your way around new territory, go hiking, take a road trip, and learn more about your current location.  Before these navigation systems we had to refer to maps and charts.  Are you old enough to remember Mom or Dad unfolding a gigantic state map, trying to find a destination or intersection, and trying to re-fold the map….while driving?  Ahh, the “good old days”!

Spiritually speaking, our world has always been a difficult place to navigate.  Some would say it is more challenging today than it has ever been before.  So, how can we navigate the greater and lesser paths that life presents to us?  How do we pursue excellence and avoid self-destructive behaviors?  How can we live in a way that is pleasing to the God that created us?  

Consider the words of Psalm 119:133, “Keep steady my steps according to your promise, and let no iniquity get dominion over me.”  Another way of saying this would be, “Order my steps according to your word, and do not let me become overwhelmed in sin”.  In this Psalm, the writer is making an important request of God, one that will affect the rest of his life and direction.

First, the psalmist must assume a position of humility.  It takes humility to ask for direction, and a greater dose of humility to then follow those directions.  Secondly, the psalmist is asking to be given a firm path to walk upon.  All other ground is shifting and unstable.  He requests that his path be built upon the word of God.  Elsewhere in scripture, the Bible says, “The grass withers and the flowers may fall, but the word of the Lord stands forever” (Isaiah 40:8).   This request resonates with the glorious declaration of the hymn writer who said, “On Christ the solid rock I stand.  All other ground is sinking sand.”  In our day, we need a solid path of proven principle and Godly wisdom to inform our decisions, teach us right from wrong, and show us the right way to go.

Seeking God’s guidance is not only a wise thing to do, it is necessary.  God’s perspective on the past present and future, on right and wrong, on daily life, is just like the perspective of the satellite we access with our navigational devices.  We use a GPS or smartphone to look at a map and get step by step directions toward our destination.  When we take a wrong turn, the system “re-calculates” and tells us how to get back on track.  When there is construction or heavy traffic ahead, our navigation systems warn us of trouble ahead.  God’s word speaks to us from the perspective of eternity, and it tells us of the dangers and joys on the road ahead of us.  It teaches us what God thinks about our every-day questions.  It shows us the way to go.

Our biggest challenge to applying this truth is humility.  In a culture that is built on the sovereignty of the individual, it takes a great deal of humility to submit to God’s word and say ‘God’s way is right, and I must follow Him’.  In a song by the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir called “Order My Steps”, the writer cries out to God, "Humbly, I ask Thee to teach me Your will, while You are working, help me be still…”  What a tremendous challenge, to be still while God works His perfect will.  

Finally, the purpose the psalmist expresses for seeking after Godly guidance and wisdom is that he would not be overtaken by sin.  There is no kingdom darker and more pervasive than the destruction and devastation that comes from sin overwhelming your life.  You can be free from bondage to sin through Jesus Christ when you turn to Him in faith for forgiveness and a new start.  

Can I just encourage you today to ask yourself where you get your life-direction from?  Instead of wandering around blind in a morally and ethically questionable world, ask God, the Creator of life itself, ‘what is the way to go’.  Read His word, seek Him.  He will not disappoint.

When Calvary Comes Through

When Calvary Comes Through

The Easter season has come, and I pray it has left you with a sense of worshipful remembrance of the Love of God, expressed through the sacrifice of His Son on the cross, and the power of His resurrection.  Easter is a great time to celebrate the wonderful things that God has done in history, and the great promise of His presence even today.

The cross of Jesus Christ did not happen by chance.  That event happened at just the right time, when centuries-old prophecies were coming to pass, when the political climate was brewing, when a nearly universal language could be readily used to spread the gospel, and when people who were looking for a delivering messiah would be introduced to Jesus of Nazareth, who would indeed deliver them from the bondage of their sins.  Romans chapter five verse six says that when we were at our very worst, God gave us His very best when Jesus died for the ungodly.  Humanity had not cleaned up enough for God to finally love us, He loved us when the world was still pulling away from Him in sin.  He didn’t come because we somehow deserved to be saved, He came because He loved us and desired to show the awesomeness of His mercy and grace to us by paying the price for our sins.  

The cost of saving humanity was no less than the death of God the Son, Himself.  Jesus, in His last breath cried out in a loud voice, “It is FINISHED!”.  The debt of sin was paid in full, the victory over death and hell had been won, the captives were declared free, and peace with God the Father had finally been made available through the death and resurrection of God the Son.  The cross of calvary had come through!

The cross of Jesus Christ is not merely a page from humanity’s past.  The cross of Jesus Christ, its saving and delivering power, and it’s God-ward pull are still in force today.  Read these words from Romans 5:10-11 (NLT)… 

"For since our friendship with God was restored by the death of his Son while we were still his enemies, we will certainly be saved through the life of his Son.  So now we can rejoice in our wonderful new relationship with God because our Lord Jesus Christ has made us friends of God.”

Calvary comes through, even today!  Is there sin in your life?- Calvary is the place where your forgiveness was purchased by Jesus.  Is there need for strength in every day life or in significant times of upheaval and difficulty?- Calvary is the place where God brought life and immortality to light by the gospel of Jesus Christ.  Is there concern and question and confusion?- Calvary is the place where God reached out His hands to show you how deep and how wide was His love for you.  Consider the words of the song, “Calvary Came Through” by the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir:

Through days of hurt and pain my heart cried "all is vain”.  I'd lost all my will to live
Too many times I tried, too many ties I failed and it only brought tears and shame
Then I saw that old cross where I won through His loss
And I knew one more time there His strength became mine

That's when Calvary came through once again when I lost all my courage to win
Just when I thought I'd been defeated, the cross was all I needed
That's when Calvary came through once again.

From the stable to the grave my Savior gave and He gave His life as a final price
Now I cherish that tree where I found victory
Conquering Hell and our foes, praise His name, He arose!

There is not a greater victory found in human history than that of Jesus’ victory over death and hell on the cross of Calvary.  The cross remains the singular place of salvation for anyone who turns to Jesus in repentance and faith!  Come to the cross and find forgiveness, find grace, find strength, find peace with God!