Have you been watching the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea? Athletes from around the globe have prepared for a competition in their sport, each one desiring to finish well. Years of sacrifice and preparation have brought them to the Olympics to compete against the world's best. Even though every one of them would like to receive a gold medal, only one in each sport can do so. "Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize." (1 Corinthians 9:24) Ultimately, every athlete that has the privilege of competing in the Olympics wants to finish well in this pinnacle event. There is something about drawing toward the end of a journey, getting close to the finish line, that spurs you on to do your best.
Friday was the first day of Adar—the final month on the Hebrew calendar. During the cycle of months, it is God's intention that we grow further and further into our true identities and that we activate our gifts in order to use them fully. By the end of each year we should notice a change in ourselves—that we would be stronger and more fruitful. Indeed, this last month of the year, Adar, means strength.
Just like the athletes at Pyeongchang who want to finish well, we should desire to wrap up the year finishing well and ready to launch into the fullness of the next season. This is a time to prepare ourselves to receive and use the gifts God has given to us more fully. Adar leads us into the new year when we will continue to "run the race" with even greater evidence of God's fullness. May we be like the Apostle Paul who said, "But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus." (Philippians 3:13-14)
"You paint the morning sky with miracles in mind. My hope will always stand for You hold me in Your hand. Lord, I'm amazed by You...How You love me." Author Jared Anderson "nails it" in his song "Amazed." Sunrises always remind me of God's constant presence and affection for me. Each one is unique and displays a different dimension of God's palette. The one He painted on Tuesday morning was outstandingly beautiful. It began with a band of deep reddish-orange at the horizon in the eastern sky. As time went on it changed to pink-orange and added separate streaks of color that climbed up into the sky and spilled over into the southern horizon. Meanwhile, the eastern horizon changed to a bright light as the sun began to rise.
The outstanding brilliance and uniqueness of this landscape reminded me of Jared's song and of the faithfulness of God. The sun never fails to rise. We may not see it for it could be hidden by the clouds, but it is always there. We know that all of nature takes its commands from the Lord Almighty. He asked Job, "Have you ever given orders to the morning, or shown the dawn its place?" (Job 38:12) The sunrise is a reminder of God's power over all the earth. "The Mighty One, God, the Lord, speaks and summons the earth from the rising of the sun to the place where it sets." (Psalm 50:1) "The day is Yours, and Yours also the night; You establish the sun and moon." (Psalm 74:16)
As the song "Amazed" declares, "My hope will always stand, for You hold me in Your hand." Just as the sun always comes up every morning, we can count on the faithfulness of God. "The Lord is faithful to all His promises and loving toward all He has made." (Psalm 145:13) For me, the sunrise is a physical manifestation of the hope that we have in God. The surety of the sun rising daily reminds me of His faithfulness and that He is a covenant-keeping God whose promises are kept forever. I join the Psalmist in declaring, "I rise before dawn and cry for help; I have put my hope in Your Word. My eyes stay open through the watches of the night, that I may meditate on Your promises." (Psalm 119:147-148)
Just as we are assured that the sun rises with the dawn, so too we should let our hope in the Lord rise. Isaiah, the prophet, speaks for the Lord when he says, "...Those who hope in Me will not be disappointed." (Isaiah 49:23) The Psalmist agrees: "O Israel, put your hope in the Lord for with the Lord is unfailing love and with Him is full redemption." The Lord wants us to be joyful in hope. (Romans 12:12) "...Where morning dawns and evening fades You call forth songs of joy." (Psalm 65:8)
Being made in the image of God, we have the capacity to love and be loved. God's greatest desire is to have intimacy with us, and I believe that this is why He made us to be worshipers. We might miss what is at the heart of worship without understanding the meaning of the language of Scripture.
Jonathan Cahn points out in his book, The Book of Mysteries, a Greek word found in the New Testament--proskuneo--which means "to kiss." The intimacy of a kiss reminds us that worship is meant to be "the most intimate thing you can experience." True worship is freely given and comes "from the overflow of your heart." A kiss is an expression of love and joy. When given to God, it is our way to worship Him and share in intimacy with Him.
Not only does God desire our worship/kisses, He desires to kiss us. How does God kiss us? He does it through His Word. "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." (John 1:1) In her book, A Kiss a Day, Jamie Lash tells us, "According to rabbinic tradition, it is a living word of prophecy. The Christian equivalent would be a rhema word." When a specific Scripture comes alive to us and resonates in our inner most beings so that we know that God is speaking directly to us, we have been kissed by Him.
The Hebrew word nashaq (naw-shak) means kiss. Its root is to equip with weapons, to arm. So, when God kisses us through His Living Word not only is He showing us affection, but He is giving us direction and equipping us for the battles against the enemy. Psalm 2 talks about the nations conspiring against God and gives a word of prophecy that He will send His Son who is meant to be kissed. (Verse 12) He will set a standard. "I will make peace your governor and righteousness your ruler." (Isaiah 60:17)
"Righteousness and peace kiss each other." (Psalm 85:10) He is the Word and gives us kisses that bring life. "Man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord." (Deuteronomy 8:3)
The sweetest times with the Lord are when we exchange kisses--when worship from our hearts is alive and the Word of God is ministering to us. It is the epitome of intimacy! Let us exchange kisses with the Lord. His love is more delightful than wine. (Song of Solomon 1:2)
Joan E. Mathias