Ode to Joy

I stumbled upon a video the other day of something I have never seen before. It appears to be just one musician in a public square, playing for a little girl who places a coin in his hat. He begins to play Beethoven’s Ode to Joy and what happens in the next few minutes is beautiful. I won’t spoil it for you, except to say it reminds me a bit of what Heaven is like. The Christian hymn Joyful Joyful We Adore Thee, written by Henry Van Dyke, is set to the music from Ode to Joy. I couldn’t help but think of those words during this video. Think of it, one day thousands upon thousands of Christians will lift up our voices in song to praise our Heavenly Father. Heaven is not at all boring contrary to the lies we’ve been sold in our culture. We won’t be sitting on marshmallow clouds plucking harps, yawning away the day. Heaven is one big adventure without sin entangling us. Like Adam and Eve in the Garden, we too will enjoy sweet, unhindered fellowship with our Creator. I believe we will get to explore the new Heaven and new Earth, just as our first parents had free reign over God’s Creation except of the one tree. But I digress…

Even though this video is an orchestrated ad for a Spanish banking company, I was moved to tears nonetheless. 

Here is the video: Ode to Joy

Grace upon grace,


Obedience as Worship

“Do good to Your servant, and I will live; I will obey Your Word.” -Psalm 119:17


If we have nothing to live for, our hopes dashed, then a sorrowful existence hangs about our neck like a millstone. The psalmist wants a life of zeal and purpose while God gives him breath. Where does such blessing lie? In seeing and experiencing the goodness of God. God is always good. We may not understand how this is true especially when we do not get something we want or experience more of the harsher reality sin’s curse has brought upon this world. How do we know God is still good in spite of the pain of sin? He sent His Son Jesus to pay our sin debt so that one day when we awake to see Christ face to face there will be no sin to taint our hearts. Yes, God is good all the time because His mercy is bigger than the oceans yet sufficient with one drop toward redeemed sinners. Therefore, in light of who God is and what He has done for a soul so unworthy, our response should be a desire to obey Him. Like the psalmist we pray to obey as our worship, becoming a daily living sacrifice before God’s Throne of mercy.


Grace upon grace,


“Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God- this is your spiritual act of worship.” -Romans 12:1

Act of Worship

“I will praise You with an upright heart as I learn Your righteous laws.” -Psalm 119:7

The psalmist pivots to a heart of praise in verse seven. This posture of worship pleases the Lord. The psalmist has just meditated on God’s mercy in light of his sin and inability to save himself. What is his response? As the Holy Spirit continues to teach him the depth of God’s wisdom, the psalmist explodes in gratitude with praise. He would likely echo Paul’s doxology in Romans, written hundreds of years later:

“Oh the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable His judgements, and His paths beyond tracing out! Who has known the mind of the Lord? Who has been His counselor? Who has ever given to God that God should repay him? For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be glory forever! Amen. Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God- this is your spiritual act of worship.” (Romans 11:33-12:1)

God has given us His Holy Word to learn His righteous laws, recognize our need for the Savior, and come to Jesus. The soul which leans on the work of Jesus, abiding in His Spirit for holy living becomes a precious offering before the Throne of Grace.

Grace upon grace,


The Fragrance of Worship

“But thanks be to God, Who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ and through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of Him.” -2 Corinthians 2:14


I love the smell of coffee and oven-roasted bacon lingering in the morning, hours after breakfast. It’s an inviting aroma that says ‘Come and stay awhile’. When I was little my grandmother’s home always seemed to have a comforting aroma wafting through the house (usually fresh baked bread from scratch). Fragrances have a way of bringing to mind a memory or a person. They have the power to make us react with delight or a visceral response of disgust.

When I think about our sense of smell and the impact it has, it’s interesting to read in Scripture how Paul uses the metaphor of fragrance (2 Corinthians 2:14-16). Back up even further to the Old Testament and we see the first priests using sacred perfume in the tabernacle (Exodus 30:22-38).  It was not to be replicated for common use. Only priests were given the task of administering the perfumed oil to anoint the Tent of Meeting. Priests were also consecrated with this holy perfume, carrying around a specific fragrance.


Today believer priests are the aroma of Christ. As a Christian my witness is a fragrant offering of who I am in Him. Reflecting the heart of Jesus is my “scent”. It will smell like death to the unbeliever as my Biblical worldview always points to an eternal perspective, emphasizing life after death. It brings them face to face with their own mortality and eternity.

To the fellow Christian my life will be a familiar and welcoming fragrance, heavily perfumed with the glory of God. This is because the true Church is knitted together with the same heart. Jesus makes this our reality. Even though our personalities, preferences, backgrounds, nationalities, and cultural differences tend to separate us, in Christ we are One. God is at work in each of us not only reconcile us to Himself in perfect fellowship, but also to one another in the Body of Christ. This is for our sanctification and how men will know we are followers of Jesus (John 13:34-35).


The world seeks to divide people, but especially God’s people. May this not be so. We have a responsibility to love each other first, our faith family. Our love for others is a direct reflection of our love for the Lord (1 John 4:20-21). Gossiping, assuming the worst in another, quarreling and even hatred do not represent Christ. In fact, this dishonors His Name and grieves the Holy Spirit.

God desires for us to worship Him by offering a sweet-smelling sacrifice. Namely, how we relate to the people around us. What we say and do, even what we think of others, matters. Our words of kindness and truth, sincere love, humble service, self-control, a listening ear, and the ability to forgive quickly will diffuse the pleasing aroma of Jesus. When we choose to react like the world of godless rebels believers miss the opportunity to display their signature scent.

You are the pleasing aroma of Jesus Christ. What a privilege it is to put on the sacred perfume He bled and bought for you and me.


Grace upon grace,



Grow deeper: Exodus 30:22-38; 2 Corinthians 2:14-17; Colossians 3:12-17

Made To Worship

I’m reading right now the book of Jeremiah in the Bible. He has a tough message to give the people. They have pranced around in a masquerade as God’s people but did not really know Him. Their hearts were far from the Lord as they paid Him lip service, deluded into thinking their Abrahamic lineage could save them.

This is what the Father tells Jeremiah to say:

“My people have committed two sins: 

They have forsaken Me, the spring of living water, and have dug their own cisterns, 

broken cisterns that cannot hold water.”

-Jeremiah 2:13


Israel ran to worthless idols, forsaking God and binding themselves as slaves to lifeless, manmade objects. The people sought purpose, satisfaction and love apart from God, coming up empty, yet lusting for more. They loved their idols more than cultivating a genuine relationship with the Lord.

They loved their idols more…

It doesn’t sound much different than our world. And it isn’t just “us” pointing the finger at “them” and their depravity. I was convicted in reading Jeremiah’s words too. How often do I run after other things, ANYTHING, other than the One who created me?

Like chasing the wind in a desert, I can commit spiritual adultery too. Reading through this book is humbling. I want to daily bring myself before the Father asking Him to guide my decisions.

There is nothing new under the sun. I think it’s spiritually healthy for believers to take stock of where our treasures are. Do I want what God can give me, more than I want God? One is soul killing, the other soul saving.

Who or what satisfies you today?


We can still be His children even when we stumble but it isn’t His plan for us. The Israelites abused God’s grace and patience. They had no real heritage with Him as they continued to reject God’s love. Those who continue to fight against the Creator doing as they please were never His to begin with.

God wants our hearts so that we worship Him alone.

We are made to be worshippers- and we all worship something. Is it the Lord? Let us not be deceived into spiritual complacency and compartmentalize God just on Sundays thinking “we’re okay” or good enough if we check a box.

Through His Son Jesus we are called to so much more. Chasing the temporary can’t bring contentment. He has equipped us together with all the saints to pursue Him in holiness, in love. We have the privilege to honor Christ today as humble warriors!

Delight in the One who gave everything for you. 

Believer, you are lavished in God’s consuming love. You are protected in Christ’s righteousness. You are guided by the Holy Spirit.

Anything other than our Father will let you down. That’s a promise. Trust in His wisdom for your life and worship God alone today.

Grace upon grace,