“I can’t comprehend YOUR infinitely beautiful and perfect love, oh, I’ve dreamed dreams of majesty as brilliant as a billion stars, but they’re never bright enough, after all, YOU are HOLY, Oh HOLY, HOLY, HOLY, HOLY” (David Crowder, “After All (Holy)” <– click to view the music video).

Holy (Heb. qāḏôš) is an attribute of God.  Holy is who He is!  He is His Holy Awesome, Holy Excellent, Holy Incomparable, Holy Righteous, Holy Glorious, Holy Worthy!  Oh how we ought to be compelled to offer praise to the Holy God (Heb. hāʾēl haqqādôš) for who He is!  Even though finite words could never fully express the infinite majesty of Holy God, we do have a responsibility to respond to His Holiness in sincere repentance and reverence and rejoicing.

Deuteronomy 10:14-21 speaks of the Holiness God and of our responsibility to respond: “For the Lord your God is the God of gods and the Lord of lords, the great, the mighty, and the awesome God who does not show partiality nor take a bribe…You shall fear the Lord your God; you shall serve Him and cling to Him, and you shall swear by His name [loyally remain in covenant with Him].  He is your praise and He is your God, who has done these great and awesome things for you which your eyes have seen” (vv. 17 and 19-21, NASB95).

Psalm 145:1-21 equally speaks of the Holiness of God and of our responsibility to respond: “Great is the Lord, and highly to be praised, and His greatness is unsearchable…On the glorious splendor of Your majesty and on Your wonderful works, I will meditate.  Men shall speak of the power of Your awesome acts, and I will tell of Your greatness.  They shall eagerly utter the memory of Your abundant goodness and will shout joyfully of Your righteousness” (vv. 3 and 5-7, NASB95).

Isaiah 40: 12-31 speaks of the Holiness of God and of our responsibility to respond as well: “Who has directed the Spirit of the Lord, or as His counselor has informed Him?  With whom did He consult and who gave Him understanding?  And who taught Him in the path of justice and taught Him knowledge and informed Him of the way of understanding?  …To whom then will you liken God?  Or what likeness will you compare with Him?  … Do you not know? Have you not heard?  Has it not been declared to you from the beginning?  Have you not understood from the foundations of the earth?  It is He who sits above the circle of the earth…who stretches out the heavens like a curtain and spreads them out like a tent to dwell in…“To whom then will you liken Me that I would be his equal?” says the Holy One.  Lift up your eyes on high and see who has created these stars, the One who leads forth their host by number, He calls them all by name; because of the greatness of His might and the strength of His power, not one of them is missing” (vv. 13-14, 18, 21-22, and 25-26, NASB95).


 “And it feels like there’s not enough praise inside of me, with all these words, all my heart can sing is HOLY, YOU are HOLY, JESUS CHRIST YOU bled YOUR love, laid down YOURSELF and gave me life, in naked shame YOU hung and YOU were lifted high, here I lay in awe and wonder, I am afraid for no one’s ever sacrificed and loved me this way so on my face I fall under YOUR heavy grace, here I lay in awe and wonder” (Leeland, “I Wonder” <– click to view the music video).


John bore witness to the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ.  He was exiled to Patmos where God gave him the Revelation of Jesus Christ to make known to us.  The Holy Spirit took John to witness the throne of Holy God in heaven where He, the Eternal Living Lord, is worshiped day and night without cease– “”Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord God, the Almighty, who was and who is in and who is to come”…”Worthy are You, our Lord and our God, to receive glory and honor and power; for You created all things, and because of Your will they existed, and were created”” (Revelation 4:8 and 11, NASB95).

In the right hand of God who is seated upon His throne, John saw a sealed scroll and a mighty angel who proclaimed, “Who is worthy to open the scroll and break its seals?” (Revelation 5:2, HCSB09)  And John cried because no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth was found worthy to open the scroll or even to look in it.  BUT “one of the elders said to me [John], “Stop crying. Look! The Lion from the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has been victorious so that He may open the scroll and its seven seals.”  Then I [John] saw One like a slaughtered lamb standing between the throne and the four living creatures and among the elders. He had seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent into all the earth. He came and took the scroll out of the right hand of the One seated on the throne” (Revelation 5:5-7, HCSB09)!  Heaven was filled with praises and prayers of worship to the Lamb– Jesus Christ the only Holy, only Worthy “Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29, NASB95)!


“You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because You were slaughtered, end You redeemed people for God by Your blood from every tribe and language and people and nation. You made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they will reign on the earth….The Lamb who was slaughtered is worthy to receive power and riches and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and blessing!…Blessing and honor and glory and dominion to the One seated on the throne, and to the Lamb, forever and ever” (Revelation 5:9-10 and 12-13, HCSB03)!


 This Easter season is not meant to be just another consumer holiday, it is a HOLY-DAY. It’s a HOLY-DAY because it is a day meant to be set apart for us to respond to the Holy Lamb of God in a special commemorative celebration of repentance and reverence and rejoicing.  “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb” (Revelation 7:10, NKJV82)!  He has saved us because He alone is Holy Awesome, Holy Excellent, Holy Incomparable, Holy Righteous, Holy Glorious, Holy Worthy!

Praise be to the majesty of Jesus Christ!

Have a blessed Good Friday and Resurrection Celebration!



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Willingly and Wholly Devoted?


My mother and I are preparing for an upcoming women’s Bible study centered on the theme, “FROM DEMONS TO DELIVERANCE AND DEVOTION: THE TESTIMONY OF MARY OF MAGDALA”.  Mary of Magdala (or Mary Magdalene) is mentioned multiple times throughout each of the four Gospels (Mt. 27:56, 61; 28:1; Mk. 15:40, 47; 16:1-13; Lk. 8:2; 24:10; and Jn. 19:25; 20:1-18).  This is quite remarkable being as the authors of the Gospels wrote them with distinct emphases for their original audiences and functional themes, yet they each understood the testimony of Mary of Magdala to be relevant to their Gospels’ specific audiences and themes to each make repeated mentions of her. 1

The accounts of Mary of Magdala in the Gospels are pretty evenly split between descriptions of her individually and descriptions of her with a group of women.  It is interesting to note that in the places where she is mentioned with a group of women her name heads the list.


Mary who was called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out, and Joanna the wife of Chuza, Herod’s steward, and Susanna, and many others who were contributing to their [Jesus’ and the Twelve Disciples’] support [or care] out of their private means” (Luke 8:2b-3, NASB95).


These women devoted themselves to Christ, and accordingly, to the work of His ministry.  They attended to Christ, ministering to (serving) Him out of their substance – of their possessions, what they had.  Scholar Ben Witherington II writes in his socio-rhetorical commentary of the Gospel of Mark, “the women [among whom Mary of Magdala is included] are disciples, for they are clearly described as those who both followed and served Jesus in Galilee, two things that characterize discipleship”.


“There were also some women looking on from a distance, among whom were Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James the Less and Joses, and Salome.  When He was in Galilee, they used to follow Him and minister to [or serve] Him; and there were many other women who came up with Him to Jerusalem” (Mark 15:40-41, NASB95).


Discipleship…I thought that we were talking about devotion, so which is it!?!

Devotion and discipleship are not either-or’s.  Devotion and discipleship are both-and’s — they are like both hamburgers and french fries (or sweet potato fries, if you’re like me), both spaghetti and meatballs, both oreos and milk, both coffee and mornings, both leather jackets and Fonzie — they go together!  A disciple refers to “one who puts himself [or herself] under the teaching of someone else and learns from him”.2  Discipleship refers to “follow[ing] the precepts and instructions of another”.3  Such definitions imply willing devotion on behalf of the disciple.  In order to be a disciple, an individual must be willingly devoted the one and therefore the teachings of the one of whom he or she is a disciple.

Mary of Magdala and the group of women who accompanied her were willingly and wholly devoted disciples of Christ.  Jesus had delivered them and they did not forget that!  They had received grace and in gratefulness they responded graciously.  They were those described alike “good soil”; they had heard the word in an honest and good heart, and held it fast, and bore fruit with perseverance (Luke 8:15).


Are we “good soil”?


Are our lives seen as works of faith and labors of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ in the presence of our God and Father (1 Thessalonians 1:3, NASB95)?  Is it obvious that we have been delivered by Christ and are disciples who are willingly and wholly devoted to Him?  Do we respond graciously in gratefulness to the grace we have received?  Will we follow Christ and serve Him wherever, however, whenever He instructs?

“YOU live among the least of these: the weary and the weak, and it would be a tragedy for me to turn away, all my needs YOU have supplied. When I was dead YOU gave me life. How could I not give it away so freely? I’ll follow YOU into the homes of the broken, I’ll follow YOU into the world, and meet the needs for the poor and the needy, GOD, I’ll follow YOU into the world…I give all myself, I give all myself, and I give all myself to YOU” (Leeland, Follow You <– Click to view the music video)!




1.  The original audiences and functional themes of the Gospels are typically considered to be as follows:

–  the Gospel of Matthew was written with a Jewish audience in mind, emphasizing Jesus as the Promised Messiah and Expected King who fulfills the Law, Prophets, and Writings;

–  the Gospel of Mark was written with a Gentile audience in mind, emphasizing Jesus as the Sovereign Savior and Servant who suffered on our behalf taking the penalty for our sin upon Himself;

–  the Gospel of Luke was written with an specific individual (Theophilus) and general Gentile audience in mind, emphasizing Jesus as reliably and verifiably Perfect God Perfect Man; and

–  the Gospel of John was written with a unbelieving audience in mind (John 20:30-31), emphasizing Jesus as the Eternal Word, Wonderful Truth, and Everlasting Life.

Please note that while the Gospels as literary works have distinct original audiences and functional themes, they maintain a consistently unified theological purpose– Jesus the Christ is the Son of the Living and Loving God and Eternal Risen Savior of Jews and Gentiles (all men and women alike) through His absolute and gracious sacrifice for us sinners in utmost need of Him, to those who believe He gives forgiveness, redemption, and life through His Precious Spirit – and their message is equally meant for us!

2. Kenneth S. Wuest, Wuest’s Word Studies from the Greek New Testament: For the English Reader (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1997).

3. Ibid..


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Consequences of Compromise

Compromise (verb): means to make disgraceful or disreputable concessions which jeopardize, expose, make vulnerable to peril, or endanger.  The consequences of compromising are inherent in its definition– jeopardy, exposure, vulnerability, endangerment.  How appealing does that sound?!  It is reasonable to assume that these consequences result from the disgraceful concessions of the compromiser and will therefore adversely affect the compromiser.  But how often do we consider that the compromiser’s disgraceful concessions will ALSO adversely affect others besides the compromiser?

In Joshua 7, we are told that some men of Israel were sent to survey the town of Ai.  The men of Israel who surveyed Ai brought back the report, “‘There’s no need for all of us to go up there; it won’t take more than two or three thousand men to attack Ai.   Since there are so few of them, don’t make all our people struggle to go up there”” (Joshua 7:3-4, NLT).  So Joshua, the appointed leader of Israel, sent about three-thousand soldiers to Ai in accordance with the report.

“[B]ut they were soundly defeated…Joshua and the elders of Israel tore their clothing in dismay, threw dust on their heads, and bowed face down to the ground before the Ark of the Lord until evening” (Joshua 7:4,6, NLT).

Could you picture this…the rejoicing after Israel’s miraculous defeat of Jericho by the hand of the Lord…the jubilant confidence with which Israel approaches the battle of Ai…then the wholly unexpected and gravely traumatic defeat of Israel at Ai…the retreat in utter panic…and the disappointment of Joshua and his lament along with the elders of Israel.  “Oh Lord“, I could picture Joshua desperately praying, “How? Why?

 “But the Lord said to Joshua, “Get up! Why are you lying on your face like this?  Israel has sinned and broken My covenant!  They have stolen some of the things that I commanded must be set apart for Me.  And they have not only stolen them but have lied about it and hidden the things among their own belongings.  That is why the Israelites are running from their enemies in defeat.  For now Israel itself has been set apart for destruction.  I will not remain with you any longer unless you destroy the things among you that were set apart for destruction.  Get up! Command the people to purify themselves in preparation for tomorrow.  For this is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: Hidden among you, O Israel, are things set apart for the Lord.  You will never defeat your enemies until you remove these things from among you.”” (Joshua 7:10-13, NLT)


This was certainly an “ay ay ay” at Ai!


“Early the next morning Joshua brought the tribes of Israel before the Lord, and the tribe of Judah was singled out.  Then the clans of Judah came forward, and the clan of Zerah was singled out.  Then the families of Zerah came forward, and the family of Zimri was singled out.   Every member of Zimri’s family was brought forward person by person, and Achan was singled out” (Joshua 7:16-18, NLT).

 Could you picture this too…the Lord’s revelation of the reason Israel experienced such terrible defeat…then the morning arrives and all that are heard throughout the assembly of Israel are “gulps” as they wait in suspense until…”gasps” of horror resound because…it’s Achan!


“[H]e has done a  d i s g r a c e f u l  thing in Israel” (Joshua 7:15, NKJV).


Achan, Achan, Achan.  How could such seriously unappealing consequences ever seem appealing to the extent that you would dare to compromise, jeopardizing you AND all that you had AND all of Israel?

“Achan replied, “It is true! I have sinned against the Lord, the God of Israel.  Among the plunder I saw a beautiful robe from Babylon, 200 silver coins, and a bar of gold weighing more than a pound.  I wanted them so much that I took them.  They are hidden in the ground beneath my tent, with the silver buried deeper than the rest” (Joshua 7:20-21, NLT).

Our initial reaction to this distressing account might be along the lines of: “What was he thinking?”  Honestly, I don’t believe that he was even thinking.  He saw, he wanted, and he took.  He failed to consider the inevitable consequences of compromising and as a result not only was he subject to the adverse consequences of his compromise, but ALL Israel was exposed to jeopardy because of it.

Doesn’t this pattern –of seeing, wanting, and taking— sound quite familiar?  Remember Eve, who saw the forbidden fruit, desired it, and took it?  Remember how that ended up?  Not only was she then subject to the adverse consequences of her compromise (estrangement from God), but Adam followed suit and was equally subject to the adverse consequences, and we are even subject to the consequences of their compromise to this very day!


“Then Joshua said to Achan, “Why have you brought trouble on us?  The Lord will now bring trouble on you.”  And all the Israelites stoned Achan and his family and burned their bodies.  They piled a great heap of stones over Achan, which remains to this day.  That is why the place has been called the Valley of Trouble ever since. So the Lord was no longer angry” (Joshua 7:25-26, NLT).


Trouble…compromise brings trouble…not just for the individual who compromises, but for all those around the compromiser as well!  Our actions produce consequences which reach beyond ourselves.  We ought to be urged not to assume that our sins won’t find us out and not to act in rashness without considering the consequences of our actions.  Instead we must cry out to the Lord Jesus and seek wisdom and strength from Him by consulting His Word, listening to His Holy Spirit and prompting within us, and heeding the counsel of the godly leaders He has placed in our lives!

“I was sinking deep in sin, far from the peaceful shore,
Very deeply stained within, sinking to rise no more,
But the Master of the sea, heard my despairing cry,
From the waters lifted me, now safe am I.

Love lifted me! Love lifted me!
When nothing else could help
Love lifted me!”

(James Rowe, 1912)


But dust…


“I know that You are for me, I know that You are for me
I know that You will never forsake me in my weakness
And I know that You have come now even if to write upon my heart
To remind me who You are” (Kari Jobe, You Are For Me <- click to view the music video).

The psalmist praises in Psalm 103:14,”For He Himself knows our frame; He is mindful that we are but dust” (NASB95).  How awesome is that!  God Jehovah knows us!  He knows our weaknesses, our fallibility.  He knows we are finite and pathetic.

What’s more is that He Himself in all His Sovereign Perfection and Power has not abandoned us in our weaknesses, our fallibility, our finiteness, our inadequacy!  He pardons all our iniquities, heals all our diseases, redeems our life from the pit, crowns us with lovingkindness and compassion, and satisfies our years with good things (Psalm 103:3-5)!

“He has not dealt with us according to our sins, nor rewarded us according to our iniquities.  For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is His lovingkindness toward  t h o s e   w h o   f e a r   H i m.  As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.  Just as a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on  t h o s e   w h o   f e a r   H i m ” (Psalm 103:10-11, NASB95).

“Compassion” in this scripture is translated from the Hebrew, rachumRachum comes from the root word rechem which pertains to the womb.  Rachum is concerned with the tender mercy of God.  “The root refers to deep love (usually of a “superior” for an “inferior”) rooted in some ‘natural’ bond”. 1  The word compassion expresses God’s parental love for humanity.


“His Name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6, NASB95)


So how is it that God who knows our weaknesses, our fallibility, our finiteness, our inadequacy and who is mindful that we are but dust is compassionate toward us anyway?

He is compassionate because of who He is!  By no means is it because we deserve it.  It is because of His good pleasure!  God has shown undeserved grace to us― a rebellious, undeserving people!  We deserve to perish because of our sins and iniquities, yet “it is not the will of your Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish” (Matthew 18:14, NKJV79).  “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the Lord has laid on Him [Jesus Christ] the iniquity of us all.” (Isaiah 53:6, ESV01).

Oh, that we would recognize the severity of our spiritual wretchedness and understand the significance of, and accept, the Father’s compassion toward us, revering Him for who He is!

“But now, O Lord, You are our Father, we are the clay, and You our potter; and all of us are the work of Your hand.  Do not be angry beyond measure, O Lord, nor remember iniquity forever; behold, look now, all of us are Your people” (Isaiah 64: 8-9, NASB95).

“Who is a God like You, who pardons iniquity and passes over the rebellious act of the remnant of His possession?  He does not retain His anger forever, because He delights in unchanging love.  He will again have compassion on us; He will tread our iniquities under foot.  Yes, You will cast all their sins into the depths of the sea” (Micah 7:18-19, NASB95).

God Is Good!



1. Harris, R. Laird, Robert Laird Harris, Gleason Leonard Archer and Bruce K. Waltke. Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament. electronic ed. Chicago: Moody Press, 1999. 841.