25 Jul

Wednesday Is for Worship: “Our God”

My calendar says that it’s Wednesday again.  So, let’s turn our attention to the worship of our great God.  In fact, today’s worship offering is called “Our God.”

Written in 2010 for the Passion conference by the big time team of Chris Tomlin, Jesse Reeves, Jonas Myrin, and Matt Redman and published through Thankyou Music, the song was the first track on Tomlin’s 2010 And If Our God Is for Us album, which won a Grammy in 2012 for Best Contemporary Christian Music Album.  The song itself was a #1 hit and won the Dove Award for the 2011 Worship Song of the Year.

I first worshiped the Lord with this song at the Hearts on Fire youth conference in Gatlinburg, TN in 2010.  Since then, my oldest son has kept it fresh on my mind by keeping Tomlin’s And If Our God Is for Us album in his CD player in his room.  We’ve worn it out!!

Enjoy the Lord today, who is our great, strong, and incomparable God!

VERSE 1
Water You turned into wine
Opened the eyes of the blind
There’s no one like You
None like You

VERSE 2
Into the darkness, You shine
Out of the ashes we rise
There’s no one like You
None like You

CHORUS
Our God is greater
Our God is stronger
God, You are higher than any other
Our God is healer
Awesome in power
Our God, our God

BRIDGE
And if our God is for us
Then who could ever stop us
And if our God is with us
Then what could stand against

____________________

Musically, this song stirs me up!  I love the synthesized strings in the intro and throughout.  I love the staccato rhythm coming out of the bridges that have this triumphant march to it.  The whole thing just magnifies God by moving my heart!

The first verse mentions some of the miracles of Jesus Christ–His first miracle of turning water into wine and then giving sight to blind people, which He did several times in Scripture–and concludes with the declaration that there’s no one like God.  The second verse, I believe, points to the work of redemption when God shined the gospel light into our darkness and brought us out of death and destruction.

The chorus is simply a response to the verses exclaiming that God is the highest and best of all beings.  And to top it all off, He’s “our” God.  That possessive pronoun is important because it signifies relationship.  He is ours, and we are His.  Since we are the possession of a sovereign and almighty God, the bridge reminds us that there is nothing that can stand against us, which comes right out of Romans 8.  Nothing can separate us from the love of Christ!

He’s our God, FOREVER!!!

As a bonus, check out Chris Tomlin and Matt Redman give the story behind the song and then perform it acoustically in the New Song Cafe:

19 Jul

Extreme Makeover: Cosmos Edition

The other day I was thinking through the tragic loss of the fullness of what God created and blessed mankind with in the Garden of Eden.  We live in a broken world.  Indeed, Paradise has been lost.

However, God has not abandoned His blessing to us.  That’s what the Bible is all about.  Paradise Lost is becoming Paradise Restored.  The commencement is found in Genesis, where God tells how everything began and went wrong, and the culmination is found in Revelation, where God tells us how everything ends and will be fixed.  Praise God for His mercy, grace, and faithfulness!

But even better is that God does not just restore Paradise.  He improves Paradise.  It’s like a cosmic Extreme Makeover:  Home Edition.  You know that on that show they never just restore the house back to what it was.  They always make it way cooler than before.  That’s exactly what God’s going to do with the universe!

According to Revelation 21-22, here are some of the things on His makeover to-do list:

1)  The earthly city will be replaced by the heavenly city (Rev 21:9-21).

  • By the way, it’ll be a humongous, gorgeous city that’ll be inhabited by all who believed on Jesus from the Garden to the Second Coming.

2)  The temple will be replaced by God Himself (Rev 21:22).

3)  The sun and moon will be replaced by God’s glory (Rev 21:23).

4)  The need for closed gates will be replaced with the joy of open gates (Rev 21:24-26).

5)  The mixture of righteousness and wickedness will be replaced with the presence of righteousness only (Rev 21:27).

6)  The curse will be replaced by blessing (Rev 22:1-3).

7)  The inability to see God will be replaced with the full experience of seeing God face to face (Rev 22:4).

8)  Death and defeat will be replaced with eternal life and victory (Rev 22:5).

On Extreme Makeover:  Home Edition, they always park a big charter bus in front of the finished house they are about to reveal, and then when the time is right, the crowd screams, “Move that bus!”  As the driver moves the bus out of the way, the amazing makeover is revealed, and the crowd goes crazy with excitement.  In that same spirit, we say to our God, “Move that bus!”  I can’t wait to see it all when His to-do list is completed!!

18 Jul

Wednesday Is for Worship: “I Will Glory in My Redeemer”

Do you have anything to praise God for on this Wednesday?  You’d better believe you do!  You have manifold reasons, both big a small, to praise your Creator.  Even if you are not a follower of Jesus Christ, you have lavishly experienced His common grace in the world around you and should return thanks to God, and if you are a follower of Jesus Christ, you’ve got eternal thanks to lift up to God as He’s shown you special grace through redemption.  Get a jump start on all the praising you’ll do in Heaven now!

And I have just the song that’ll help you do that.  Today’s worship offering to you is “I Will Glory in My Redeemer.”  It was written by Steve and Vikki Cook in 2000 and published through Sovereign Grace Music.  It’s a modern hymn with a full Christ-focused center.

Are you ready to glory in Jesus Christ?  Then sing along:

VERSE 1
I will glory in my Redeemer
Whose priceless blood has ransomed me
Mine was the sin that drove the bitter nails
And hung Him on that judgment tree
I will glory in my Redeemer
Who crushed the power of sin and death
My only Savior before the holy Judge
The Lamb who is my righteousness
The Lamb who is my righteousness

VERSE 2
I will glory in my Redeemer
My life He bought, my love He owns
I have no longings for another
I’m satisfied in Him alone
I will glory in my Redeemer
His faithfulness my standing place
Though foes are mighty and rush upon me
My feet are firm, held by His grace
My feet are firm, held by His grace

VERSE 3
I will glory in my Redeemer
Who carries me on eagles’ wings
He crowns my life with lovingkindness
His triumph song I’ll ever sing
I will glory in my Redeemer
Who waits for me at gates of gold
And when He calls me, it will be paradise
His face forever to behold
His face forever to behold

____________________

The phrase that is repeated several times in this song is “I will glory in my Redeemer.”  It would probably help us if we fully understood what it is to “glory” and to have a “redeemer.”

We don’t usually use glory as a verb, but it means to rejoice proudly in something.  It’s to be eaten up with wonder and awe and joy because of the impact something has had on you.  It’s to unashamedly boast in something.  One can glory in many things, but that which we should most glory in is that which this song sings about—our Redeemer.

A redeemer is one who frees somebody from captivity by purchasing him.  It’s a financial term from the context of a culture that had slavery, which is the vast majority of cultures in the history of the world, even today.  Whether you and I realize it or not, we are born enslaved to sin, and through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus, Jesus frees from captivity all who will believe on Him.

So, putting the two ideas together, just picture for a moment being a slave in antebellum America.  Now picture a man purchasing you and then setting you free.  What a happy day that would be!  And, you would certainly glory in that redeemer.  Even more so should we glory in the Redeemer whose purchase of us has eternal consequences.  He’s purchased us and set us free so that we might enjoy God forever!  Glory, indeed!!

Verse 1  points to the glorious fact that Jesus didn’t use gold, silver, or dollars to buy us from slavery.  He used His “priceless” blood.  Every one of us must take ownership in His death.  He died for the ones who killed Him.  Glory!  And in doing so, He crushed the power of sin and death, freeing us from slavery.

Verse 2 points to the glorious security we have in Jesus Christ.  Because He purchased us, He owns us.  He’ll always will keep us and will never forsake us, vanquishing our foes and firmly holding us by His grace.

The final verse looks to some of the future blessings given to us through the redemption found in Jesus:  divine support, loving-kindness, victory, and heaven.  There in heaven, we’ll actually behold the face of God (Rev 22:4).  Glory!

May this Wednesday be a glorious one as you glory in your Redeemer!

11 Jul

Wednesday Is for Worship: “Healing Rain”

It’s Wednesday.  Last Wednesday was a dry Wednesday, but not this one!!  Mercifully, it is raining, adding to the couple of inches of rain we’ve already received here in July after a June where we saw around a quarter of an inch of rain for the entire month.  After a much-needed drink, my tomatoes and squash are blooming out again.  Yes!!

It’s amazing how much you think about something once it’s gone.  So, rain has been on my mind quite a bit, which brings me to today’s song:  “Healing Rain.”

Written in 2004 by Christian music heavyweight Michael W. Smith along with Martin Smith (front man for Delirious?) and Matt Bronleewe (a founding but short-term member of Jars of Clay), this song became the title track for Michael W. Smith’s 2004 album and went to #1 on the Christian music chart.  Both the song and the album were nominated for several Dove Awards in 2005, and the album was nominated for a Grammy the same year.

Although “Healing Rain” is not really a congregational praise song, it’s a praise song nonetheless.  Praise the Lord for the restoration found in Jesus!  Let that healing rain fall on us!!

VERSE 1
Healing rain is coming down
It’s coming nearer to this old town
Rich and poor, weak and strong
It’s bringing mercy, it won’t be long
Healing rain is coming down
It’s coming closer to the lost and found
Tears of joy, and tears of shame
Are washed forever in Jesus’ name

CHORUS
Healing rain, it comes with fire
So let it fall and take us higher
Healing rain, I’m not afraid
To be washed in Heaven’s rain

VERSE 2
Lift your heads, let us return
To the mercy seat where time began
And in your eyes, I see the pain
Come soak this dry heart with healing rain
And only You, the Son of man
Can take a leper and let him stand
So lift your hands, they can be held
By someone greater, the great I Am

ENDING
Healing rain is falling down
Healing rain is falling down
I’m not afraid
I’m not afraid

 

04 Jul

Wednesday Is for Worship: “How Sweet and Aweful Is the Place”

 

Well, it’s Wednesday again.  Are you ready to go to the mountaintop to worship the Lord?

Today is a hymn written by one of the most endearing, enduring, and prolific writers of worship songs—Isaac Watts.  He’s known as the “father of English hymnody” and credited with almost 520 songs.  You probably know him best through his songs “Joy to the World! The Lord Is Come,” “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross,” and “At the Cross (Alas, and Did My Savior Bleed).”  Today we’ll worship with one of his lesser known but oh so good songs.  It’s called “How Sweet and Aweful Is the Place.”

Watts wrote this hymn in 1707 and set it to an unnamed ancient Irish melody.  I first worshiped the Lord with this back in 2008 at the Together for the Gospel conference and was deeply moved by lyrics and melody.  There’s just something about Irish tunes that move the heart!

Enjoy the Lord by singing along!

VERSE 1
How sweet and aweful is the place
With Christ within the doors
While everlasting love displays
The choicest of her stores

VERSE 2
While all our hearts and all our songs
Join to admire the feast
Each of us cry with thankful tongues
“Lord, why was I a guest?”

VERSE 3
“Why was I made to hear Thy voice
And enter while there’s room
When thousands make a wretched choice
And rather starve than come?”

VERSE 4
’Twas the same love that spread the feast
That sweetly drew us in
Else we had still refused to taste
And perished in our sin

VERSE 5
Pity the nations, O our God
Constrain the earth to come
Send Thy victorious Word abroad
And bring the strangers home

VERSE 6
We long to see Thy churches full
That all the chosen race
May with one voice and heart and soul
Sing Thy redeeming grace
____________________

Verse 1 seems to picture a place of worship, perhaps a church building full of worshipers on the Lord’s Day.  Jesus has promised that wherever two or three gather in His name, He will be in their midst, and that’s exactly what’s pictured here:  the place where worshipers gather, and Jesus manifests His presence.   Watts uses the words “sweet” and “aweful” to describe that place.  “Aweful” strikes our modern ears as odd, but most likely Watts is using aweful in an archaic sense.  He’s using aweful the way we use awesome.  So, think “how sweet and awesome is the place with Christ within the doors.”  Now that makes more sense to 21st-century American Christians and actually communicates what he meant!

Verses 2, 3, and 4 marvel at the grace God in the life of the one who believes on Christ.  The Father has brought us to a great feast, which causes us to marvel “Why me?  Why was I made a guest?  Why was I made to hear and enter in?”  The answer is nothing other than God has chosen to be gracious to you.  You don’t deserve to be a guest at the Lord’s banquet, but you are, which causes thankfulness to rise in you.  The same love that prepared the banquet drew you into the banquet.

Verses 5 and 6 move from the inward wonder at being at the banquet to the outward longing to see others come in as well.  It’s the grace shown to us in our own lives that pushes us to want others to experience the same.  So, Watts ends with begging God to move through the nations and bring many into the banquet until all the chosen race is gathered to sing of salvation and the Savior.

May the presence of Christ be thick as you worship Him!  May it be sweet and awesome!