Archive for Magnificent God

Deep Knowing

Father, in Your great heart
You long for us to know You
entirely and completely,
all we are
all You are.

You created this entire universe,
immense and majestic,
not only to show us Yourself,
but to engulf us in
Your power,
Your wisdom,
Your love, and
the vastness of Your mystery.
Yet even as we are immersed in all this, we see only
the fringes of Your robe.
We hear only
a faint whisper of You. (Job 26:14)

To show Yourself completely,
You gave us Your own Son.
You incarnated Him as
the most helpless and humble of all human beings:
the newborn infant of
an unmarried peasant girl
from a small, oppressed people
in one corner of the world.

Here is the transcendent, undiminished God!
Here is the full radiance of Your glory!
Here is the exact representation of Your very nature! (Hebrews 1:3)
Here is the fullness of Your Deity in bodily form, and
You have made us
full and complete
in Him. (Colossians 2:9-10)
As we look to Him,
we are being changed into His likeness. (2 Corinthians 3:18)

But we do yet see Him for all He is. (1 John 3:2)
With all His many magnificent names,
He has a name, an identity,
that no one knows but Him. (Revelation 19:12)

But we know this:
when He appears,
we will be like Him,
because we will see Him just as He is. (1 John 3:2, NASB)
We will know Him fully,
we will know You, Father,
even as we are fully known. (1 Corinthians 13:12)

Your deep longing for us
will be fulfilled
every moment,
entirely and completely,
all we are
all You are.
We will be immersed in You,
one with You,
saturated with
Your presence,
Your holiness,
Your love,
Your life, in all its depth and richness.

Father, finish what You have begun.
We long for You!
We are waiting at the door.

Whatever awaits me the moment after I die,
Father, I want
my first thought,
my first desire,
my first awareness to be

Hymn: Knowing God

The Enthronement

God has ascended amid shouts of joy,
the Lord amid the sounding of trumpets.
Sing praise to God, sing praises…
For God is the king of all the earth…

The kingdom of the world has become
the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ,
and he will reign for ever and ever.
(Psalm 47:5-7; Revelation 11:15; NIV)

My heart longs for our God,
for our Father,
for Jesus Christ our Savior,
for the constant breath of their Spirit,
for complete oneness with them
and in them
that we taste only briefly here.

I long for Almighty God to be enthroned over
every thought,
every desire,
every relationship,
every life,
over all reality
every moment

Your Kingdom come!

Almighty God
will soon take up and exercise
the power that has always been His.
All the kingdoms of the world
will become His Kingdom, and
He will reign forever.
He will rightly judge every individual and
establish justice and peace
throughout all His creation.

Hymn: Enthronement Hymn

Creation Will Be Redeemed

The creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth until now. (Romans 8:20-22, NASB)

For all the elegant beauty of this natural earth, it is also a violent, tumultuous place where life is always in the grip of death. How can this be, if God rules all creation? How can a good God claim to be sovereign in a world such as this?

Genesis 1:26-28 proclaims two truths about God’s creation of the human race:

  1. He made us in His own image and likeness.
  2. He created us to rule over the earth as His stewards, sharing in His sovereignty.

We are inseparably connected to God our Creator, and we are inseparably connected to this earth, over which we rule. God subjected the earth to us.

When we rebelled against our Creator, we chose to use creation for our own selfish purposes (Genesis 3:1-6). When our relationship with the Creator was corrupted, so was the earth over which we ruled, now as unfaithful stewards (Romans 8:20). As our home and our responsibility, the earth shared in our fractured relationship with the Giver of all life (Genesis 3:17-18; see Psalm 104:27-30). The results were corruption, futility, and death, both for us and for our beautiful home.

Consistently in scripture, our obedience or disobedience to our Creator brings us either God’s blessing or His cursing, respectively. This blessing and cursing are shared by our natural home as well (e.g., Deuteronomy 7:12-15; 8:6-10; 28:4, 18). As Creator God subjected this earth to us, this earth unwillingly shares in the fruit of our rebellion.

We see the turmoil in our natural world and know that as violence, pain, and death shrouds all human life, it shrouds our natural home as well.

But the good news is this: the corruption, futility, and death that rule this earth are only a passing phase. Creation’s present turbulence is only the pain of childbirth (Romans 8:19-22). When we are redeemed and freed from our suffering, our earthly home will be as well (Isaiah 11:6-9; Revelation 21:1). Our destiny, God’s unchangeable promise, is that we and our beautiful home will be perfected to the full glory of God. As it has shared our curse, it will share our blessedness. All the earth will be permeated with His life, His love, His holiness, and His perfect peace.

Right now creation groans with us
under the weight of our sin.
But soon it will share
our glorification,
our freedom from all corruption, and
our full restoration to
God’s blessing and purpose.
Imagine such a world!

Hymn: Creation Will Be Redeemed

Building a People

Jesus said to His disciples:

“Who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” And Jesus said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Barjona, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it.” (Matthew 16:15-16, NASB)

The Apostle Paul wrote:

You are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God’s household, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the corner stone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together, is growing into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together into a dwelling of God in the Spirit. (Ephesians 2:19-22, NASB)

If you had all eternity and all the resources of the universe,
what kind of home would you build for yourself?

God is building a home for himself.
That home is His people.
Our infinite, holy, all-wise, and endlessly creative God
is planning to live forever
with and in His people.

Imagine knowing such a people,
the home of an infinite God!
Imagine actually being part of them!

If God is investing all His energies in building a people,
that’s how I want to invest my life as well.
A material home will last a short time.
God’s people will last forever.

We believers are all together
in the same room,
waiting for God to finish the deliverance
He has so beautifully begun.
As we endure these final hours of
pain, darkness, grief, and death,
let’s encourage one another to the
hope and joy that are ours.
Let’s share songs, stories, and
acts of kindness that
remind us of God’s unfailing love.

Hymn: Revelation 21


How lovely are Your dwelling places,
O Lord of hosts!
My soul longed and even yearned for the courts of the Lord;
My heart and my flesh sing for joy to the living God.
(Psalm 84:1-2, NASB)

For me, heaven is not a mansion,
a harp, or
angels’ wings.
It is not meeting old friends or
an endless family reunion.
That is not what my heart longs for.

My heart longs for You,
my Father,
my Creator.
My heart longs for my Savior,
my Brother,
my Wisdom and Holiness,
My heart longs for the Second Adam of all I will be.
My heart longs for the Breath of God,
the Wind of God,
the Life of God
blowing fully, freely, and unceasingly through all I am.

I long for
a heart,
a mind,
a world
permeated completely and forever
with God alone.
Come, Lord Jesus!
I long, and
I wait.

Father, I embrace the brevity of
my life in this world, and
I long to be where
my oneness with You is complete,
constant, and forever.

Hymn: O Living God

We Are Not Home

Genesis 15; Hebrews 11:9-16

Abraham was heir to some of the most magnificent promises God ever made to a human being. Yet he didn’t see them fulfilled in his lifetime. He was to be the father of a great nation, but his single heir wasn’t born till he was one hundred years old. The promised land was to belong to his seed, but he spent his entire life living in tents, moving from place to place. The only land he ever owned was a burial plot for his wife.

He lived as an alien, a stranger, a foreigner, an exile, always temporary, always in a strange land, never a citizen, never belonging.

But he was not alone. The biblical history of God’s people is permeated with the pain of separation. Adam and Eve were forced out of their garden home, never to return. Noah lost everything and everyone in the flood, except for seven members of his immediate family. Joseph’s own brothers sold him into slavery in a foreign land. Moses lost his Jewish family, then his home in the Egyptian palace, then spent eighty years in a brutal wilderness—forty as a shepherd, and another forty leading a rebellious people. Israel spent 400 years in a foreign land, much of that as slaves, then later lost their home, their nationhood, and their dignity in a bitter exile. The prophets, John the Baptist, Jesus, the disciples, the Apostle Paul, all knew the gnawing sorrow of separation, of living where they never belonged.

We know that deep sorrow as well. Many of us know what it’s like to live much, or all, of our lives where we know we are not home.

All of us know the restless yearning of separation from our Father, our Creator. We groan under our troubles and sufferings, longing for perfect peace in Him. Even the joy of His presence makes us conscious that we are not yet completely, constantly one with Him. Each taste of Him increases our sense of separation and longing.

But realize that such longing is itself a precious gift from our loving Father. It creates a deep, undying sense of anticipation. Just as hunger focuses all our attention on food, and as the thirsty can think of nothing but water, our separation from God pulls us toward the fullness, oneness, and completeness that will soon be ours in Jesus Christ. He is the longing that overshadows every joy. He is the joy that eclipses all suffering. In pleasure and pain, today and forever, He is our only satisfaction.

Every experience, every struggle in life can bind our hearts closer and closer to Him.

The emptiness, pain, and sorrow
of our present existence
continually remind us of this truth:
Jesus Christ alone is
life as it was meant to be—
joyful, and

Hymn: The Only Good Is Jesus

A Seed Must Be Planted

1 Corinthians 15:35-58

That which you sow does not come to life unless it dies.
It is sown a perishable body, it is raised an imperishable body;
it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory;
it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power;
it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body.
(1 Corinthians 15:36, 42-44, NASB)

As we stand at the funeral of a loved one, their absence feels so complete and forever. The death of this body, this fragile vessel, seems to be the end of life itself. It feels like the eternal loss of a unique individual unspeakably precious.

But our Father reigns beyond the veil of death, and He assures us that for those who trust Him, the death of the body is the beginning of life, not its end. Ours is not a life that ends in death, but a death that ends in life. This body is planted like a seed. A seed only comes to life after it dies. It falls into the earth and disappears, only that a beautiful new life may grow from it.

The death of our bodies is the necessary first step toward a glorious new life. Every seed is planted, not to destroy life, but to create it, life infinitely greater and more glorious than its humble seed. The death of this body is not the annihilation of a life but its preparation for a future unimaginably greater. This life, this unique individual will rise as a radiant new being, fully like the risen, glorified Christ.

This broken body has served its temporary purpose and will hamper this child of God no longer. This beautiful soul will be given a new body, one designed to glow with the greatness and goodness of God Himself. It will be a body made, not for earth, but for heaven. It will be perfectly suited for love, joy, and worship in the very presence of God Himself.

What is being sown as a perishable body will be raised imperishable.
It is sown in dishonor, it will be raised in glory.
It is sown in weakness, it will be raised in power.
It is sown an earthly body, it will be raised as a body made for heaven.
This mortal being will be clothed in the splendid garments of immortality.
Death will be swallowed up in life.

“O Death, where is your victory?
O Death, where is your sting?”
Thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable,
always abounding in the work of the Lord,
knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord.
(1 Corinthians 15:55, 57-58, NASB)

Hymn: Sown in Tears, Raised in Joy

Sharing His Life

He will swallow up the covering which is over all peoples,
Even the veil which is stretched over all nations.
He will swallow up death for all time.
(Isaiah 25:7-8, NASB)

My wife and I have enjoyed browsing through antique shops. I got hooked on them years ago when I collected old books. So when she and I got the chance to spend a weekend away together, we decided to tour the small towns nearby and visit their shops.

The weekend was wrapping up, and we were in Gower, Missouri. In a small store there I came across a funeral card for a man who had died in 1887. Reading the card, I couldn’t help thinking about that man. He brought to mind the countless individuals around the world who have come and gone, seemingly unknown and unremembered. So many people. So many generations. We are like flowers. We bloom and proudly spread our petals toward the sun, only to die as quickly as we came, leaving little sign of our coming or our going. What difference does our living make? What does it matter that I, or any of us, were ever here?

We are surrounded by a stream of death that flows unceasingly through our world, engulfing all life, threatening to wash away all concept of meaning and significance. For me, antique shops quietly testify to that. They are graveyards for our treasures. When we’re gone, the things we counted precious are left behind to sell for pennies or to gather dust. They sit there on the shelf, mocking the foolishness and futility of our lives – lives hungrily invested in what is doomed to quickly pass.

As I stood there and saw myself as part of that stream of death, I was reminded that there is more.

I am not just a physical body that is dying even now. The life in me is the life of my Creator. He has shared it with me, and His life is unending. He is not a God of death and darkness, but of life and light. His life will not die with this body, and this world is not His final arena of existence or meaning.

What is more, I can know Him. I can know Him personally and live in a relationship with Him. I can please Him and talk to Him. I can learn of Him and grow in Him. I can fulfill the purpose for which I, and all this, was created.

That’s what I want above anything else. I want to become the person He designed me to be.

When redemption is complete and
God’s final judgments are pronounced,
death itself will be destroyed forever.
It will disappear from all creation, and
life will reign and abound everywhere—
life unchained,
deep and profound,
as rich and magnificent as God intended.

Hymn: Ash Wednesday Hymn

Ashes to Ashes

We do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. (2 Corinthians 4:16, NIV)

We’re all engaged in a battle to keep our bodies healthy and attractive. It’s a worthy effort.

But it’s a battle we will lose. Our bodies will decay and die. It’s happening right now.

On the other hand, that inner core of your life, that relationship with God, that inner life you share with Him, can grow more and more healthy as time goes by, no matter what happens to your body. That’s where your future lies. That’s where you should invest your effort.

Jesus, I look forward to ever-increasing health in You.

All the care we lavish on our bodies does only
a little good
for a very short time.
Nourishing our relationship with God is
infinitely fruitful
today and forever.

Hymn: Ashes to Ashes

The Inevitable Reality

Store up for yourselves treasures in heaven (Matthew 6:20, NIV).

To most people, even Christians, too much talk of heaven is not intellectually respectable.

We squirm when Jesus talks so often about trying to gain rewards in heaven. That isn’t much of a motive for doing good, is it?

But Jesus had seen heaven, as well as earth. He had a unique perspective on the shortness of life here. The heaven that we feel is so far away is upon us even now.

Jesus pointed to heaven as the ultimate and inevitable reality. He urges us in the strongest terms to be wise – to live our brief lives with that reality in full view.

Jesus emphasized the coming judgment
over and over,
in the strongest terms.
He had seen life from both earth and eternity, and
He urged us to live with eternity in view.
Look all around you: we are
temporary creatures living in a
temporary world.
All we see and touch is
quickly passing.

Hymn: Captives of Eternal Love