March – Week Eleven – Daily Devos

March 12th – “Standing O” 

[Bible reading: Numbers 16:41-18:32; Mark 16:1-20; Psalm 55:1-23; Proverbs 11:7]

“So then, after the Lord had spoken to them, He was received up into heaven, and sat down at the right hand of God.” – Mark 16:19

Mark closes His account of the Jesus story by telling us how Jesus was one moment talking with His followers and the next He was taking an invisible elevator up into the heavens. That must have been pretty cool to watch. Mark then adds that Jesus “sat down at the right hand of God“.  We next read of Jesus in Acts 7:55-56, when Stephen, a radical follower of God, was being murdered for his faith in Jesus. As Stephen was about to be stoned with rocks until he was dead, he looked up into the sky; “But he, being full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God, and said, ‘Look! I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God!’” I find it extremely interesting that Mark specifically tells us that Jesus went up to “sit down” at the right hand of God, and then Stephen specifically tells us that he saw “Jesus standing at the right hand of God“. This is huge, because it means that Jesus stood up. Jesus gave Stephen a standing ovation!

I often think about the fact that when I die and meet Jesus face-to-face I am going to hear Him say something directly to me. I pray that what I hear Him say will be, Well done My good and faithful servant” (Matthew 25:21). However, it’s an interesting thought that I could actually cause Jesus to stand up now, while I’m still alive! I want to be a man that receives a “Standing O” from Jesus. How can I make that happen? I believe I must be a man like Stephen; A man that is willing to lose his life for the cause of Christ.

“Father, today I choose death to self. I choose to live for You and You alone. I want to share Your love and Your good news to all, whether they like it or not, whether they criticize me or not. I want to be as bold and radical as Stephen and not care, in the least, about this life. Truly, anything I could have here, any opinion of man, pales in comparison to pleasing You. You are worthy of my praise and of my life. Help me to make a true stand for You and live in such a way as to cause You to stand. I love You, my King!” – Michael

March 13th – “Tears In A Bottle” 

[Bible reading: Numbers 19:1-20:29; Luke 1:1-25; Psalm 56:1-13; Proverbs 11:8]

“You number my wanderings; Put my tears into Your bottle; Are they not in Your book? When I cry out to You, then my enemies will turn back; This I know, because God is for me.” – Psalm 56:8-9

God is for me” is a pretty special sentiment. The idea that the ultimate Being, the Creator of the universe, the only omnipresent (everywhere at once), omniscient (all-knowing), and omnipotent (all-powerful) God is rooting for me is extremely awesome!  It’s better than the young, inexperienced boxer who has the undisputed heavy-weight champion of the world in his corner. And God is not only for us, He is compassionately caring about what you and I are going through. “You number my wanderings” points to the idea that wherever we go, whether in or out of times of joy (Psalm 121:8), God is aware.

Put my tears into Your bottle” is a reference to a practice that has been passed down through the centuries. Not only in times of antiquity and Roman times, but also the Victorian Period and during the American Civil War, and even up to today, stories have been found of how women were said to have cried into tear bottles and collect their tears of greatest joy and happiness, as well as their tears of greatest sorrow and sadness. They’d wear these small bottles around their necks all their lives. If the woman’s husband was away at war, their wives would save them until their husbands returned from battle and present the bottles to their husbands with their collected tears of joy and tragedy. This loving act would show the men how much they were adored and missed. This shines new light on the passage in Luke 7:38 that shares the story of a ‘sinful woman‘ who, “…stood at His [Jesus] feet behind Him weeping; and she began to wash His feet with her tears, and wiped them with the hair of her head; and she kissed His feet and anointed them with the fragrant oil“.  What she may well have been doing was taking her tear bottle and pouring it on Jesus, saying, “Jesus, You have my heart. You have my greatest joys, and all my brokenness. I hold nothing back. Everything I am is Yours.” This is an awesome truth, because when we give our heart to Jesus we can be confident that He’ll take really good care of it. Why? Because God is for us.

“Father, like the sinful woman I want to pour my love on You; All my joys, all my hopes, all my fears, and all my brokenness. I give it all to You, knowing that You care for me more than I can even imagine. Thank You for watching my silly wandering, but also caring about each and every tear I’ve ever cried. You are a good, good Father… and I love You!” – Michael

March 14th – “Cross-Eyed” 

[Bible reading: Numbers 21:1-22:20; Luke 1:26-56; Psalm 57:1-11; Proverbs 11:9-11]

“So Moses made a bronze serpent, and put it on a pole; and so it was, if a serpent had bitten anyone, when he looked at the bronze serpent, he lived.” – Numbers 21:9

As the people of Israel journeyed through the desert, they often complained about their living conditions. This particular time God sent fiery serpents into their midst and the snakes bit them and many of them died because of the snake bites. This caused them to confess that they had sinned and they begged their leader, Moses, to go to God on their behalf and ask Him to forgive them and take away the snakes. Moses did this, and was then instructed by the Lord to make an image [statue] of one of these fiery snakes wrapped around a pole, and then set it up in a place where anyone could look at it. If the people, when they had been bitten by one of the snakes, would simply look upon the image, they would be saved.

I find it interesting that God didn’t take away the serpents, but had Moses put up a pole that people could look to for salvation. John 3:14-18 declares: “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.”  These verses contain the single most quoted verse in all the Bible, John 3:16, but how many people truly understand its context? Much like the people in Moses’ day had to look upon the pole that had been lifted up, so too you and I must look up to the Cross, where Jesus was lifted up and killed on our behalf. God has chosen not to remove the sin from this world, just like He didn’t remove the snakes. But because of His grace, He has given us an option: We can choose to remain snake-bit by sin and die, or we can simply focus our eyes on the Cross and be saved.

“Father, thank You for making salvation something that I can simply find. Today, I choose to gaze upon Jesus – the Author and Finisher of my faith (Heb. 12:2). Please help the venom of sin not to have its desired effect on my life, and help me to live my life with You always in my sights. I love You!” – Michael

March 15th – “Go With The Flow” 

[Bible reading: Numbers 22:21-23:30; Luke 1:57-80; Psalm 58:1-11; Proverbs 11:12-13 ]

“God is not a man, that He should lie, nor a son of man, that He should repent. Has He said, and will He not do? Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good?” – Numbers 23:19

God had told Balaam what to say to Balak, the king of Moab, and it wasn’t good news. Wanting desperately to avoid delivering the bad news, because he knew the king would hate it, Balaam was unable to change God’s mind. Unlike the false gods of that region, who were often depicted as whimsical and easily manipulated, the God of Israel – the only, true, living God – speaks, and doesn’t change His mind.

Today, we often want things our way right away. We aren’t as concerned with what God’s will or opinion is if it doesn’t line up with ours. When God has spoken something into our hearts, whether through His Word or by His Holy Spirit, it’s not an easy thing  for us to get Him to change His mind. Isaiah 40:8 declares that “The grass withers, the flower fades, but the Word of God stands forever.” When God convicts me of something, or directs me to ‘do’ or ‘say’ something, no matter how I might plead with Him about how uncomfortable it makes me… He doesn’t change. Am I a man who is constantly kicking against the Lord and His Word? What has He clearly spoken to me that I have acted as though He wasn’t serious about? “C’mon, Lord… You certainly didn’t mean that You really wanted me to submit to him?” “Lord, You surely wouldn’t want me to say ‘that’ to ‘them’… it could get me fired!

“Father, Your Word is true, and it is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. That means that it can guide me and keep me. Forgive me for the times I have doubted Your Word, and when I have out-and-out disobeyed what You’ve spoken because it made me uncomfortable. Today, I choose to trust You and walk according to Your ways. I want to go with where Your Word and Your Spirit is flowing. I love You!” – Michael

March 16th – “Destination Disease” 

[Bible reading: Numbers 24:1-25:18; Luke 2:1-35; Psalm 59:1-17; Proverbs 11:14]

“Where there is no counsel, the people fall; But in the multitude of counselors there is safety.” – Proverbs 11:14

In other translations, this verse is very interesting.

  • For lack of guidance a nation falls, but victory is won through many advisers.” – New International Version
  • Without wise leadership, a nation falls; there is safety in having many advisers.” – New Living Translation
  • Without good direction, people lose their way; the more wise counsel you follow, the better your chances.” – The Message
  • Where there is no guidance, a people falls, but in an abundance of counselors there is safety.” – English Standard Version
  • Where there is no [wise, intelligent] guidance, the people fall [and go off course like a ship without a helm], But in the abundance of [wise and godly] counselors there is victory.” – Amplified Bible

In any and every endeavor, pride is a serious enemy of self-improvement and success. When a person shuts their ears to the wisdom and advice of others, it can be devastating. The reason we do this is singular; we think we already know everything. This unteachable and prideful attitude can stagnate a person and keep them from having the impact that God intends for His followers to have. Thus, listening to multiple sources can greatly multiply our effectiveness. Be a learner. It’s been said, “We should learn as if we were to live forever, and live as if we were to die tomorrow“.

All too often I can have something called, “Destination Disease“. That’s when all I want to do is just enough to “arrive” and then simply kick back and “retire“. I must fight this tendency and be constantly learning and improving. I must not be satisfied with who I was yesterday, or what I accomplished years ago. I must look for ways to become better. This requires reading, and listening to others that have gone before me, so that they might pass on to me what they’ve learned. Musician great, Bruce Springsteen once said, “A time comes when you need to stop waiting for the man you want to become and start being the man you want to be“. In other words, I must apply what I’ve learned so far, but I also must be willing to change and grow. This requires less pride and more listening to others.

“Father, I don’t know everything. I also don’t want to stagnate. Help me die to myself and be open to instruction and guidance from others. Thank You for reminding me that I still have much to learn. May I never have that “I’ve arrived” attitude. Help my heart to be humble… and moldable, ultimately for Your glory.  I love You!” – Michael

March 17th – “What’s Your Rank?” 

[Bible reading: Numbers 26:1-51; Luke 2:36-52; Psalm 60:1-12; Proverbs 11:15]

“Then He went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was subject to them, but His mother kept all these things in her heart. And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.” – Luke 2:52-53

These verses follow the story of Jesus, at 12 years of age, being in the temple and blowing away the teachers gathered there by His “listening to them and asking them questions” (Luke 2:46). His parents had lost Him and were looking for Him (I imagine frantically) for three days! Once He was finally located, they rebuked Him for causing them to freak out (verse 48), and then they all three headed back home to Nazareth, where Luke tells us specifically that Jesus was “subject to them“.  The word ‘subject‘ is the Greek word, ‘hypotasso‘, which is defined, ‘obedient‘. However, Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words states that it is primarily a military term that specifically means, “to rank under“. This is interesting, because it means that Jesus –the only Son of God, the Messiah, the One who had just made a bunch of adult scholars and teachers of the Word be ‘astonished’ – obeyed His earthly parents and considered Himself to be under them and their leadership! Joseph was a carpenter. Mary was an unschooled, young mother (some believe to be approximately 26-28 years old at this time). Jesus was the Anointed One from God!

Later in Jesus’ life, approximately 18-20 years later, Jesus is teaching and is told that His mother and brothers wish to see Him (Matthew 12:47-48). Seemingly, they don’t understand what He’s up to and want Him to stop. However, at this time, Jesus doesn’tsubmit‘. He lovingly continues His ministry and refers to the crowd who is listening to Him as His ‘mother and brothers‘. What changed? Was it that He and His family no longer got along? No. Jesus still loved and cared for His family (John 19:26). The answer lies in the fact that Jesus “increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men“. Jesus grew in ‘wisdom‘ (intellect and practical holiness), ‘stature‘ (physically He grew to adult size), ‘favor with God‘ (spiritual intimacy with His heavenly Father), and ‘favor with men‘ (social respect and acceptance). He grew to understood Who He was and His unique calling. As a 12 year old boy, His calling was to submit to the God-given authorities that had been placed in His life. As an adult man in His thirties, His calling was to submit to His Father’s will… even if there would be a cost.

Wherever I am in life, I am to be a man that is submitted to whatever God has called me to. The God-given authorities that He has placed over me are there for a reason. God knows the reason, I don’t have to. I’m simply called to submit to them, as unto the Lord. However, first and foremost, I am to always submit to the Lord. If there were ever to come a time when the authorities over me were asking me to live contrary to God’s Word, then I would need to lovingly decline (Acts 4:19).

“Father, You are in control of my life. The authorities that You’ve set in place over me are there because You wanted them to be there. I thank You for them and pray that You’d bless them and continue to guide their lives. Help me to remember that as I submit to them, I’m really submitting to You. Take away my pride and that feeling I get that I don’t want to “rank under” anyone else. I see in Scripture where even You submitted to Your authorities when they didn’t clash with what Your call was, and I want to be like You. Thank You for having Your hand upon my life, I don’t deserve it, but I sure appreciate it. I love You with all my heart.” – Michael

March 18th – “I Wanna Rock!” 

[Bible reading: Numbers 26: 52-28:15; Luke 3:1-22; Psalm 61:1-8; Proverbs 11:16-17]

“Hear my cry, O God; Attend to my prayer. From the end of the earth I will cry to You, when my heart is overwhelmed; Lead me to the rock that is higher than I.” – Psalm 61:1-2

The writer of this prayer is exhausted. In poetic language they are describing how they’ve come to the end of their rope and all they can do is cry out for help from God alone. They ask that God lead them “to the rock that is higher” than they are. This is an interesting request and brings to mind the story of the people of Israel in Numbers 20, and how they were thirsty and the Lord quenched their collective thirst with water supernaturally coming out of a rock in the desert. This provision by God is mentioned at other times in the Scriptures (Deuteronomy 8:15, Nehemiah 9:15, and multiple times throughout the Book of Psalms – For example: Psalms 105:41He opened the rock, and water gushed out; It ran in the dry places like a river.“) The psalmist knows that supernatural provision and quenching of thirst can come through this ‘rock’, and he wants it. 1 Corinthians 10:4 interestingly describes Jesus Christ as that ‘Rock‘ (“and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them, and that Rock was Christ“).

One day a a great rabbi of around Jesus’ time, Rabbi Akiva, came across a rock by a river that had been greatly worn away by a slow drip of water falling on it over the centuries. He remarked, “What has hollowed this stone? Is it not a small drop of water falling on it day after day? If soft water can wear away hard stone, how much more should the words of the Scriptures, which are like iron, carve their way into my heart, which is flesh and blood? It is interesting to note that it was not one drip of water, but the constant force, drip after drip, year after year, that had a great effect. Often times we Christians think a big event like a weekend conference or a special-guest speaker will change peoples’ lives. But most of the time, God’s Spirit tends not to work through big “splashes”. Instead, through the slow drip of spending time with Jesus through study and prayer, day after day, year after year, He shapes us into what He wants us to be.

“Father, You are the Rock of my salvation, You are the hope of my life. I know that time spent in Your presence, day after day, is the only thing that will quench the thirst in my soul. Today, lead me to Jesus, the Rock that is way higher than I am. I love You, my Rock!” – Michael

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Blessed Assurance

BlessedAssuranceRemember the old hymn, “Blessed Assurance”(The lyrics are at the bottom of this blog)? These beautiful words have been running through my head all day. Here’s the reason: Today I met with a wonderful lady who happens to be 91 years young. She was raised as a catholic and has only recently begun attending our church with a neighbor friend. She had many questions and we had a wonderful talk. Her biggest question revolved around the fact that she did not feel absolutely sure that if she were to die she’d go to be with Jesus. She told me that there was just ‘no way’ she could be certain until she did indeed die. I told her she was, fortunately, very wrong. We then took a short trip through some amazing Scripture that I want to share with you today. My hope is that it will encourage you, as it did her and I. God’s simple, yet powerful Word has a way of doing more than anything I could ever say or imagine.

(All the following verses are taken from the New King James Version):

Job 19:25-27

25            For I know that my Redeemer lives, And He shall stand at last on the earth;

26            And after my skin is destroyed, this I know, That in my flesh I shall see God,

27            Whom I shall see for myself, And my eyes shall behold, and not another. How my heart yearns within me!

 

Proverbs 28:13

He who covers his sins will not prosper,
But whoever confesses and forsakes them will have mercy.

 

John 3:16

 

 John 5:24

 “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life.

 

John 10:27-28

27 My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. 28 And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand.

 

Acts 16:31

So they said, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household.”

 

Romans 5:9-10

Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him. 10 For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.

 

Romans 8:16-17

16 The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together.

 

Romans 8:38-39

38 For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, 39 nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

 

Romans 10:9-10

that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.

 

2 Corinthians 5:21

For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

 

Ephesians 1:13-14

13 In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, 14 who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory.

 

Ephesians 2:8-9

For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.

 

Philippians 1:6

…being confident in this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ…

 

2 Timothy 1:12

For this reason I also suffer these things; nevertheless I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day.

 

Titus 3:4-7

But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior, that having been justified by His grace we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.

 

Hebrews 7:25

Therefore He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.

 

1 Peter 1:3-5

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.

 

1 John 1:9

 

1 John 3:1-3

Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.

 

1 John 4:13-16

13 By this we know that we abide in Him, and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit. 14 And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent the Son as Savior of the world. 15 Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. 16 And we have known and believed the love that God has for us. God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him.

 

1 John 5:13

These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God.

 

BLESSED ASSURANCEFrancis J. Crosby – 1873

Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine!
Oh, what a foretaste of glory divine!
Heir of salvation, purchase of God,
Born of His Spirit, washed in His blood.

This is my story, this is my song,
Praising my Savior all the day long;
This is my story, this is my song,
Praising my Savior all the day long.

Perfect submission, perfect delight,
Visions of rapture now burst on my sight;
Angels, descending, bring from above
Echoes of mercy, whispers of love.

Perfect submission, all is at rest,
I in my Savior am happy and blest,
Watching and waiting, looking above,
Filled with His goodness, lost in His love.

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They’re Playing Our Song

Have you ever had ‘a song’? My wife and my ‘song’ is Phil Collins’ “Groovy Kind of Love”. We can be walking through a grocery store and hear that song come on… and she’ll look at me and say, “They’re playing our song!” and we’ll literally stop, right there, and slow dance. My kids love this!

I think that Jesus had a song. Because it’s the Christmas season I want to share a quick Bible study with you. In Luke chapter 1… we read what has been historically called the ‘Magnificat’ – Mary’s Song. This is the song that the mother of Jesus sang, while He was still in her womb. This is a song that I believe impacted His life big time.

A man by the name of Jack Kornfield, (not at all a professing “Christian”) recounts in his book How, Then, Shall We Live?” the custom of one African tribe. He says that in this tribe, when a woman decides to have a child, she goes and sits alone under a tree, and she listens. She listens until she hears the song of the child who wants to come. Once she hears the song, she returns to the man who will be the child’s father and teaches the song to him. When they make love to conceive the child, they sing the song to call the child to them. When the woman is pregnant, she teaches the child’s song to the midwives and old women of the village so that when the birth time arrives, the people surrounding the mother sing the song to welcome the child among them. Then as the child grows up, the other villagers learn the song. If the child falls or hurts his knee someone picks him up and sings the song. When the child does something wonderful, the people of the village sing this song. When the child goes through the rites of puberty and becomes an adult, the villagers sing the song. It goes this way through life. At a wedding, the songs of both husband and wife are sung together. Finally, when this child grows old, and lies in bed ready to die, all the villagers know the song, and they sing it for the last time.

That, to me, is a very beautiful thought; The idea that each person in that village has their own, special, very individual and personal, song… a song they carry with them throughout their lives. Reading that, I began to think about Jesus, and the song of HIS life. I remembered that Mary, during her nine month pregnancy, did indeed sing to Jesus?

When Kelli was pregnant with our children, at night… every night, we’d read and sing and talk to her belly. She had read that that was important, and so it’s something that we did. When our first son, Conor, was born there were some immediate concerns. The doctors didn’t have time to let me cut his cord; they quickly cut it and rushed him out of the room and into a smaller room where they checked him out. It was after a few moments of him screaming at the top of his little lungs that they asked if I would want to cut the chord. I was so nervous and happy and scared… I began to talk and say ‘yes, I’d love to’. As soon as Conor heard my voice, not the voices of all the nurses and doctors talking, he stopped crying! He even slightly turned his head… and stopped crying! It was as though he recognized my voice. All that time talking, praying, and singing to him… had caused him to know me!

Look at Luke 1:46-55 and read this incredible song that Mary sang, while Jesus was in her womb:

Luke 1:46-47   NKJV

46 And Mary said: “My soul magnifies the Lord,47 And my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior.

Our souls are the part of us that relates to this world… it is our thoughts and emotions. Our spirit is the part of us that relates to God – the part that will live forever and ever. So what Mary is saying here is that “because my spirit has related to God – rejoiced in what He has done for me, I make a choice to magnify and worship the Lord”. Super cool. Because oftentimes we will come into a church service like this, with stuff on our minds… and, if we’re honest, we simply don’t feel like worshipping. But God is looking for those who will worship Him in Spirit and in Truth… and worship has NOTHING to do with how we feel… it has everything to do with what God has done for us!

Luke 1:48-55   NKJV

48 For He has regarded the lowly state of His maidservant; For behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed.49 For He who is mighty has done great things for me, And holy is His name.50 And His mercy is on those who fear Him From generation to generation. 51 He has shown strength with His arm; He has scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts. 52 He has put down the mighty from their thrones, And exalted the lowly. 53 He has filled the hungry with good things, And the rich He has sent away empty. 54 He has helped His servant Israel, In remembrance of His mercy, 55 As He spoke to our fathers, To Abraham and to his seed forever.”

When you read this song of praise it’s easy to see why Mary is so revered. Truly, she is a pretty neat young woman. I mean, she is totally humble, but at the same time she recognizes that “all generations will call me blessed”. Now obviously, some people throughout history have revered her a bit too much…to the point of praying to her and even worshipping her. This is not what she meant to happen! I’ve always found it interesting that the last recorded words we have from this amazing woman were those she spoke to the servants at the wedding in Cana of Galilee:

John 2:5 – “His mother said to the servants, ‘Whatever He says to you, do it.’”

You see, Mary was a special lady… blessed by God, for sure, to be chosen… but even she directed others to her Son… she knew that JESUS was the One to listen to… to GO to.

I want to throw a thought your way that, perhaps, you’ve never considered: I believe that Mary had a major impact on the life of Jesus. Of course, Jesus was ultimately the Son of God, but God chose for this particular woman to be His mother, to be the one that would have that place in His life during his growing up years. Why? Perhaps it was because His mother’s influence was something that would help shape His life and ministry… beginning with the words that she spoke and sang over Him in the womb!

She sings of how God would use her Son to;

  • “show mercy to generation after generation” 50 And His mercy is on those who fear Him From generation to generation.
  •  “scatter the proud, because of the thoughts of their hearts” 51 He has shown strength with His arm; He has scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts.
  • “topple the mighty from their thrones” 52 He has put down the mighty from their thrones
  • “exalt the lowly” 52 And exalted the lowly.
  • “satisfy the hungry” 53 He has filled the hungry with good things

Some of these thoughts should ring a bell for those of us who are familiar with the life and teachings of Jesus Christ…

The very first recorded sermon Jesus ever preached, He stood up in the local synagogue, grabbed the Scroll of Isaiah and read; Luke 4:16-21

“Spirit of the Lord is upon Me”
“He has anointed Me”

                “to preach the Gospel to the poor”

                “to heal the broken hearted”

                “to proclaim liberty to the captives”

                “recovery of sight to the blind”

                “to set at liberty those who are oppressed”

                “to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord”

Probably His most famous sermon ever was what we call The Sermon on the Mount, in Matthew 5, where He declared;

“the poor in Spirit are the ones who are blessed” (vs 3)

                “those who hunger and thirst for righteousness are blessed”(vs 6)

                “those who show mercy… blessed” (vs 7)

His most famous miracles were probably when He physically fed thousands who were hungry… just like His mother’s song spoke of… that He’d fill the hungry with good things. And the times He exalted the lowly by bringing sight to the blind, eating & hanging out with sinners, and touching lepers.

As He hung on the Cross, He said seven specific statements that included:

  • Extending grace to a sinner being murdered for his crimes by declaring that the guy would be forgiven and freed from the captivity of sin that very day and be with Him “in Paradise”.
  • Declaring It is finished– speaking of the price being paid for redemption – the forgiveness of the sins of the world – freedom of the oppressed and captives of sins!
  • Take care of My mother – a woman who without a living husband would need to be cared for, especially during a terrific grieving process.

As a matter of fact, I’d suggest that if you do a careful study of the seven letters that Jesus commands John to write to the seven churches of Revelation, you’ll find the very same themes He was known for throughout His life and ministry;

  • God wants to show mercy to generation after generation
  • God will scatter the proud, because of the thoughts of their hearts
  • God will exalt the lowly
  • God will satisfy those who are hungry… for HIM – even come in and dine with them in intimate relationship.

What’s my point? What if Mary’s famous song, the song she sang while He was still in her womb – was not only ‘prophetic’… but was something that would help shape and mold her Son’s life and ministry? What if Jesus’ song, like the song of the villagers I mentioned earlier, was something that was sung over Him from before He was born, during His life here, and even afterwards to this very day?

And when I think of that ‘song’…

…the ‘Jesus Song’…

…do I really know it…

… and am I truly singing it?

If there were a “song” that defined my life… your life… what would it be?

Jesus’ song was one that exalted the poor and lowly

…it sang of God’s amazing grace and incredible mercy to all generations

…it truly satisfied people’s deepest hunger.

What’s the song of my life doing?

  • Is it a buddy-beer-drinking song that talks about all the good ‘ol friends I have in low places?
  • Is it a romantic love song that speaks only of my relationship with my wife? “Groovy Kind Of Love…”
  • Is it an annoying little commercial ‘diddy’ that speaks of nothing more than my materialistic concerns… and materialistic stuff?  “Every kiss begins with ‘K’…”

If your life were put to music… what would YOUR song be?

Livin’ On A Prayer…take my hand and we’ll make it I swear…”

Very Superstitious… the writing’s on the wall”

And I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Lookin’ For

You’re So Vain… you probably think this song is about you!”

Or is the song of our lives… WAY MORE THAN THAT? What if this Christmas we decided to make the song of our lives… the song of the LambJesus’ Song?

I’m not saying “Mary’s Song” should be our song… I’m talking about Jesus’ song… the song of the LAMB! The truth is… One day we’ll be singing it anyway… why not start singing it now

Revelation 15:2-3 – NKJV And I saw something like a sea of glass mingled with fire, and those who have the victory over the beast, over his image and over his mark and over the number of his name, standing on the sea of glass, having harps of God. Check out what they are doingThey sing the song of Moses, the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying:

What exactly is this: SONG OF THE LAMB??? Great and marvelous are Your works, Lord God Almighty! Just and true are Your ways, O King of the saints!

Better yet… what if we made the song of our lives not just the song of the Lamb… but the Lamb Himself? What if Jesus, Himself could be the very core of who we are… the Song of our hearts? I wonder if that would… catch on? Have you ever had someone sing a song and it just got stuck in your head… and all day long you were singing that song? What if the song of our lives… the song of the Lamb… became contagious? Where others began to sing it too?

A couple of years ago, videos began to pop up on the Internet of a lone, shirtless dancer in the midst of an open sloping field at the 2009 Sasquatch Festival in eastern Washington. The video begins with one guy doing an improvised dance to the song “Unstoppable.” Though his form is jerky, his lack of inhibition is striking. I apologize for the lack of quality of this video clip, but check out what happens in this 3 minute video…

After a period of dancing alone, the shirtless dancing guy is joined by a brave dancing partner who syncs his own unique movements with the lone dancer. Before you know it, more and more people rush to join in the dance. In just three minutes it’s a dance party, and a movement is born.

In first-century Palestine, a similar movement was born. A solitary man from the fields of Galilee began to dance of life to a brand new SONG… so different and unique, so daring and innovative, that most at first could only stare in amazement, wondering who this astonishing Human could be. He was joined first by Peter and Andrew, next by Philip and Nathaniel. Then one by one, more and more excited followers began to join Him. “Come and see!” was the invitation. Jesus’ disciples came, saw, and followed the life-giving dance to the incredible Song of the ages, until dancer and dance became one.

Our concert of praise

To Jesus we raise,

And all the night long

Continue the new evangelical SONG:

We dance to the fame

Of Jesus’ name,

The joy it imparts

Is heaven begun in our musical hearts.

                                                                                                                 – Charles Wesley*

 

What does this dancing guy on a hillside have to do with following Jesus? A lot more than you think.

When I look a little closer at that crazy, weird video… I’m reminded of something. It reminds me of a crowd a long time ago… on another hillside… passing out loaves and fishes. Jesus set the story in motion, but His disciples passed the food. If they hadn’t, the crowd wouldn’t have eaten – or been fed.

Like all life’s decisions, to get something moving it must begin with a singular motion, then someone passes the motion, and the motion goes forward. The Song of the Lamb may start with an unconventional and unique way of moving. But the truth is, without someone to stand up and join in – to be the first singer – no true movement will be born.

If we all have a song that is resonating through our lives, then whose song do you feel moving with the rhythms of your body? Those singing the song of Christ… feel the Jesus way, share the Jesus truth, and live the Jesus life. And they pass the Song of the Lamb on to others.

So who is that first singer? Who is that risk taker willing to stand beside that unexpected innovator and be a singing fool? Would it be you? Would you lay down your coat and get up and actually let your very life sing for Jesus? In front of everybody else? Knowing you’d be following a way of living different from everyone else, knowing you’d be taking on a new identity as a mover and a shaker, knowing your newest Friend may well alienate you from the rest?

Someone who realizes that the Song of our lives… is actually the Person of Jesus Christ…

is a way paver,

a true disciple,

and a life sharer.

They choose a way to go even when no one else is going there. They know that to sing from the soul means to embody the Song itself.

We are the followers. HE is the Song, feel the rhythm, pass the motion, make some music. Get up and dance… because they’re playing our Song.

This Christmas – let us not just strive to keep “Christ” in “CHRISTmas”… but may we strive to keep the Christ in US!

May we keep “CHRIST Jesus” as the song of our hearts. 

 

* Charles Wesley, Hymns for the Watch-night, Hymn 17, “Innocent Diversions,” in Hymns and Sacred Poems, vol. 2, pt. 1 (Bristol, UK: Farley, 1749), 141. Available online at Duke Divinity School Center for Studies in the Wesleyan Tradition, downloadable PDF updated 30 September 2010, http://divinity.duke.edu/initiatives-centers/scwt/wesley-texts/charles-wesley

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