In the Highest

Jesus,

You who always were

in the highest

 

and always were

the Highest

 

humbled Yourself

lowly

for me

 

And I am in awe

of the sacrifice

 

of majesty

and Sonship

and royalty

 

Because the highest place

and the highest position

and the highest praise

 

are what You deserve

 

A wooden animal trough

made by a carpenter’s hands

is where you came to be

 

And I will forever thank You

and I will forever bless You

and I will forever praise You

 

for You are the Highest

bent low

for me

 

– Susie Stewart

 

And in a flash there appeared with the angel a vast host of the armies of Heaven, praising God, saying, “Glory to God in the highest Heaven! Peace upon earth among men of goodwill!”

– Luke 2:13,14 (PHILLIPS)

 

For the Lord Most High is to be feared [and worshiped with awe-inspired reverence and obedience]; He is a great King over all the earth.

– Psalm 47:2 (NLT)

 

Applause, everyone. Bravo, bravissimo!
Shout God-songs at the top of your lungs!
God Most High is stunning,
astride land and ocean.
He crushes hostile people,
puts nations at our feet.
He set us at the head of the line,
prize-winning Jacob, his favorite.
Loud cheers as God climbs the mountain,
a ram’s horn blast at the summit.
Sing songs to God, sing out!
Sing to our King, sing praise!
He’s Lord over earth,
so sing your best songs to God.
God is Lord of godless nations—
sovereign, He’s King of the mountain.
Princes from all over are gathered,
people of Abraham’s God.
The powers of earth are God’s—
He soars over all.

– Psalm 47:1-9 (MSG)

 

 

I cry out to God Most High, to God who will fulfill His purpose for me.

– Psalm 57:2 (NLT)

 

Lord Most High, Your voice
thundered from the heavens.

– 2 Samuel 22:14 (CEV)

 

I will thank the Lord because He is just; I will sing praise to the name of the Lord Most High.

– Psalm 7:17

 

Jesus was in the center of the procession, and the people all around Him were shouting, “Praise God for the Son of David! Blessings on the One who comes in the name of the Lord! Praise God in highest heaven!”

– Matthew 21:9 (NLT)

 

Right at the crest, where Mount Olives begins its descent, the whole crowd of disciples burst into enthusiastic praise over all the mighty works they had witnessed: Blessed is He who comes, the king in God’s name! All’s well in heaven! Glory in the high places!

– Luke 19:37,38 (MSG)

 

 

Thunder

Your voice will not be denied,

God of Heaven and earth

 

It thunders,

for Your power rumbles great

 

And we should all be

extremely grateful

that our God of Thunder

 

does not pour out His holy wrath

every time we rebel against You

 

For Your power is staggering

and Your voice immense

 

My heart listens for Your quiet voice

knowing Your thunderous voice is coming

 

when holiness brings judgment

with a loud and deafening clap

 

And there are those who hide in Your shelter

and those who stand exposed

 

I will be sheltered

by my Jesus’ sacrificial love

 

– Susie Stewart

 

The Lord thundered from heaven. The Most High made His voice heard.

– 2 Samuel 22:14 (GW)

 

Whenever this happens, my heart stops—
I’m stunned, I can’t catch my breath.
Listen to it! Listen to His thunder,
the rolling, rumbling thunder of His voice.
He lets loose His lightnings from horizon to horizon,
lighting up the earth from pole to pole.
In their wake, the thunder echoes His voice,
powerful and majestic.
He lets out all the stops, He holds nothing back.
No one can mistake that voice—
His word thundering so wondrously,
His mighty acts staggering our understanding.

– Job 37:1-5 (MSG)

 

For in the day of trouble He will keep me safe in His dwelling; He will hide me in the shelter of His sacred tent and set me high upon a rock.

– Psalm 27:5 (NIV)

 

The blast of the ram’s horn grew louder and louder. Moses spoke, and God answered with a voice that rumbled like thunder.

– Exodus 19:19 (VOICE)

 

The Eternal thundered in the heavens; the Highest spoke; His voice rumbled [in the midst of hail and lightning].

– Psalm 18:13 (VOICE)

 

I was caught up at once in deep worship and, oh!—a Throne set in Heaven with One Seated on the Throne, suffused in gem hues of amber and flame with a nimbus of emerald. Twenty-four thrones circled the Throne, with Twenty-four Elders seated, white-robed, gold-crowned. Lightning flash and thunder crash pulsed from the Throne. Seven fire-blazing torches fronted the Throne (these are the Sevenfold Spirit of God). Before the Throne it was like a clear crystal sea.

– Revelation 4:4-6 (MSG)

 

After the fire, there was a still small voice.

 – 1 Kings 19:12 (WEB)

 

“Pagosa Springs” sung by my brother, Danny Oertli

 

Worship with Abandon

Shout!

If you feel like it

 

Sing

If you feel like it

 

Whisper

If you feel like it

 

Bow

If you feel like it

 

Stand

If you feel like it

 

Dance!

If you feel like it…

 

Self,

Worship God with abandon!

 

Don’t just reserve your strong emotion

for things of this world

 

Nothing here should thrill you

like God!

 

May ALL that is within me

praise the Lord!

 

– Susie Stewart

 

O my soul, come, praise the Eternal
with all that is in me—body, emotions, mind, and will—every part of who I am—
praise His holy name.

– Psalm 103:1 (VOICE)

 

Bless the Lord, O my soul;
And all that is within me, bless His holy name!

– Psalm 103:1 (NKJV)

 

Praise the Lord!
Let all that I am praise the Lord.
I will praise the Lord as long as I live.
I will sing praises to my God with my dying breath.

– Psalm 146:1,2 (NLT)

 

I was privileged to hear Joni Eareckson Tada speak Saturday night at the Desiring God Conference.  Most of you know Joni, a quadriplegic, was paralyzed 38 years ago in a diving accident.  She gave a great and convicting message but as the time of worship began, I saw something that was more impressive than anything I heard.  I saw Joni dance.

Joni handles her wheelchair as deftly as any Nascar driver on a racetrack.  No sooner had the music begun than Joni began to “dance”.  As much as a quadriplegic can dance, she danced.  Joni has just enough movement and strength in her hands and shoulders to grip the controls on her chair and maneuver herself without the aid of others.  Suddenly the chair began to move with the music.  She thrust forward, then backward, then forward, then backward.  Smoothly, and yet with obvious passion, she turned to the right, then the left, then the right again.

Suddenly, the forward and backward and side to side movements gave way to spinning.  Well, as much as a paralyzed person can spin.  Joni began to turn her chair in circles, first clockwise, then back again.  If she ceased her movements, if was only so that she could lift her contorted hands as high as her paralysis would allow.  It wasn’t very high, but who’s measuring!

I had to ask myself why I often stand like a vertical cadaver.  I have the glorious gift and privilege of being able to celebrate God and honor Him with my body.  I can kneel, lift my hands to heaven, fall prostrate, clap, and yes, move to the right and left and dance.

I went home thinking about Joni and thinking about her God.  What kind of God is this who can inspire such freedom and joy in one who, from a human point of view, would appear to have very reason to hate Him?  What kind of God is this who has the qualities and characteristics and attributes and beauty and glory that He can be found worthy of the praise and gratitude and “dancing” of a woman who’s spent the last 38 years in a wheelchair?  Wow!  Now that’s some God!

– Dr. Sam Storms

 

I was dancing before the Lord, who chose me above your father and all his family! He appointed me as the leader of Israel, the people of the Lord, so I celebrate before the Lord. Yes, and I am willing to look even more foolish than this, even to be humiliated in my own eyes!…

– 2 Samuel 6:21,22 (NLT)

 

Photo by Susie Stewart

Wide Open

Jesus is a Gate

wide open

 

He is a gasp of fresh air

in a stifling world

 

He is a window to freedom

in a room of religious rules

 

He is water, living and alive

to a parched existence

 

He is a dance

in the midst of a crowd of unresponsive hearts

 

He is the Gate

I have walked through

 

and found Eternal Life

 

in the now

and forever.

 

– Susie Stewart

 

I am the gate; whoever enters through Me will be saved. They will come in and go out, and find pasture.  The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.

 

– John 10:9,10  (NIV)

 

David danced before the Lord with all his might…

2 Samuel 6:16 (NLT)

 

So Christ has truly set us free. Now make sure that you stay free, and don’t get tied up again in slavery to the law.

Galatians 5:1 (NLT)

 

Jesus replied, “Anyone who drinks this water will soon become thirsty again.

But those who drink the water I give will never be thirsty again. It becomes a fresh, bubbling spring within them, giving them eternal life.”

– John 4:13,14 (NLT)

 

Photo by Susie Stewart

Enemy

Our natural tendency

is to despise

to mock

to wish the worst on

 

our enemies

 

And when they fall

it seems like it should feel right

to be glad

they got what was coming to them

 

Satisfaction, right?

 

But that supposed satisfaction

only leaves a bittersweet taste

in our mouthes

 

We might do well to remember

that Jesus said,

“He who is without sin,

cast the first stone.”

 

David in the Bible

he was the rightful king

 

But Saul

the actual king on the throne

feeling very threatened

 

spent much of his time

and energy

pursuing David

and trying to kill him

 

for years

15 years

 

David had logical reasons

for retaliation

to hate

to fight back

 

even to gloat

with smug satisfaction

when his enemy

died

 

But he wept

 

He wept over the violent end

that came to Saul

 

and not only for him,

but for Saul’s son Jonathan

David’s best friend

 

He wept over the death of his beloved friend

and he wept over the death of his hateful enemy

 

and there was no satisfaction

for Saul getting what was coming to him

 

only sadness

 

For this king

was a foreshadowing

of a greater King

 

who would look on a whole race of people

who should have gotten

what was coming to them

 

and He wept

 

and He died

 

and the enemies

were saved

 

and they were loved

 

– Susie Stewart

 

In lament, David ripped his clothes to ribbons.  All the men with him did the same.  They wept and fasted the rest of the day, grieving the death of Saul and his son Jonathan, and also the army of God and the nation Israel, victims in a failed battle.

– 2 Samuel 1:11,12 (MSG)

 

Yet it was our weaknesses He carried;
it was our sorrows that weighed him down.
And we thought His troubles were a punishment from God,
a punishment for His own sins!

But He was pierced for our rebellion,
crushed for our sins.
He was beaten so we could be whole.
He was whipped so we could be healed.

– Isaiah 54:4,5 (NLT)

 

Now, most people would not be willing to die for an upright person, though someone might perhaps be willing to die for a person who is especially good.

But God showed His great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.

– Romans 5:7,8 (NLT)

 

“You’re familiar with the old written law, ‘Love your friend,’ and its unwritten companion, ‘Hate your enemy.’ I’m challenging that. I’m telling you to love your enemies. Let them bring out the best in you, not the worst. When someone gives you a hard time, respond with the energies of prayer, for then you are working out of your true selves, your God-created selves. This is what God does. He gives His best—the sun to warm and the rain to nourish—to everyone, regardless: the good and bad, the nice and nasty. If all you do is love the lovable, do you expect a bonus? Anybody can do that. If you simply say hello to those who greet you, do you expect a medal? Any run-of-the-mill sinner does that.

“In a word, what I’m saying is, Grow up. You’re kingdom subjects. Now live like it. Live out your God-created identity. Live generously and graciously toward others, the way God lives toward you.”

– Matthew 5:43-48 (MSG)

 

Photo taken by Susie Stewart