The Known God

The Known God

2 Corinthians 1:3-5 (NKJV)  Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also abounds through Christ.

I have a friend who is experiencing a difficult season in life. He has family issues. He is experiencing health issues. He is an optimist at heart but the last message bringing bad news threatens to take him out at the knees. He writes editorials for the local paper. Articles from a personal perspective offered as encouragement. He came to me asking if I would read his latest commentary. His concern was that his perspective was too raw and might be detrimental to his readers. He is part of the Unitarian church which believes that each person is free to search for their own personal truth on issues such as the existence, nature and meaning of life, deities, creation and afterlife. The mission is “inspiring to seek freely, live ethically, and nurture each other and the Earth.” He is one of the kindest people who I know that lives this very thing in his life. However, knowing the adversity that he is facing and reading the words pouring from his heart, it is clear that in the midst of this overwhelming trial – he is struggling to keep his optimism. Without faith there is an end to optimism.

Paul talked about the “Unknown God” standing before the council in the midst of Areopagus…“Men of Athens, I perceive that in all things you are very religious; for as I was passing through and considering the objects of your worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: TO THE UNKNOWN GOD. Therefore, the One whom you worship without knowing, Him I proclaim to you…”(Acts 17) When everything is going right and all is well in life, it is easy to praise and worship an “unknown” God but when everything is falling apart and nothing is as it should be – this person is not enough. Without His Constant, Abiding and Sovereignty, there is no anchor of hope to hold on to and no one to put our faith in. So it is through our suffering that God is truly revealed to us. Our desire to know Him deepens trying to make sense of the unthinkable when it comes. He is the one who we carry the pieces of our broken heart and life to in an effort to be made whole again. It is hard to make sense of suffering sometimes but thank you that God doesn’t have to be foreign and unknown to us anymore. Greater is He who lives in us than He that is in the world. (I John 4)

Proverbs 14:10 (NKJV) The heart knows its own bitterness, and a stranger does not share its joy.

Suffering is defined as enduring pain, disability, or death patiently or willingly. To tolerate or allow. To undergo, be subjected to, or endure. You know the very thing that is causing your heart sorrow or even bitterness today. The very thing that challenges your heart and mind to believe beyond the impossible boundaries of the earth into the heavenly realms of possibility just to survive. The Lord is close to the brokenhearted. He rescues those with crush spirits. (Psalm 34) The sufficiency of God’s Grace that releases His Power in our life is when weakness takes over and we cannot in our own strength do anything at all but rely on the Lord. (2 Corinthians 12) God knows what we need, when we need and how to give it to us. We must only have faith in God to receive it. The decision to make the Living Hope a known reality in our life is essential.

Romans 15:4 (NKJV) For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope.

Faith is illogical apart from God’s Word. Without a knowledge base to build our faith in Christ upon, there is no possible way to convince our mind of anything else. To attempt to believe in Jesus without knowing Him including His Sacrifice, His Character, and His Identity will only lead to frustration and failure. Jesus is the Word of God. He came wrapped in flesh to be our living love story. (John 1:14) The Cross is unpleasant. His Death violent. His Blood shed quite messy. It is all relevant to the story and without it – God remains unknown to us. Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life. We can know who God is by name but become His Child or know Him. God loves you. He loves me. Jesus died for every single human being on the earth. It is totally up to us in accordance to freedom to choose to know Jesus or not. The seed of faith must be planted in the Word of God to grow and mature into confident hope. This is the substance of things hoped for and evidence of the unseen reality of the Living God at work in us and through us. Without faith, it is impossible to please God. When God becomes known to us, His Comfort surrounds us. He doesn’t make our life comfortable but gives us love, joy and peace from the inside out.

Acts 9:25 (NKJV) Then the churches throughout all Judea, Galilee, and Samaria had peace and were edified. And walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, they were multiplied.

God has given us a Comforter. He is the Holy Spirit. The essence of Christ released when He died on the cross and made available to all of mankind through His Sacrifice. The veil or curtain in the manmade temple which separated God and His People was destroyed in that moment. Free access to God in His Presence offered to all who come by way of Christ. We need God’s Word to know Him and His Spirit to be known by Him.

Those who walk in reverence to God (fear) and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit where multiplied even in the heavy persecution of the early church. The word “comfort” used in this passage comes from the word “paraklesis” which means calling alongside to help, to comfort, to give consolation and encouragement. The Holy Spirit is the one who produces the inner peace that allows us to walk by faith and not by sight as instructed. (2 Corinthians 5) “Paraklete” means strengthening presence or the one who upholds those appealing for assistance. The Presence of God is essential for our successful navigation of trials, troubles and trauma in life. It doesn’t make sense. Jesus warned that as sin grew rampant and love would grow cold. There would be wars and rumors of war. There would be hard times. Those who endure to the end will be saved. This means that no one is exempt from such adversity in life but that we all can overcome through the Word of God and His Spirit. True worshippers do so in Spirit and in Truth. (John 4) And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death.” (Revelation 12:11)

2 Corinthians 4:7-10 (NKJV) But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us. We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed—always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body.

“That which does not kill us, makes us stronger.” (Friedrich Nietzsche) The humanistic statement quoted by many is simply not true. What doesn’t kill us can make us bitter and broken. It can destroy our soul with vacant barrenness as the last shred of hope is consumed by fiery trial. The treasure I have is the Known God who loves me. He is constant. He is in control. He is good. He is always working for my good and His Glory in the worst of all possible situations. Faith in God is my comfort zone. I must leave the earthly comfort of complacency, compromise, and conventional thinking to know Him. I must accept the terms and conditions of salvation which require a Savior and Old Rugged Cross. I know it makes you uncomfortable to owe someone something. The flipside of the coin is certain death. To live a life that ends in torment forever. Thanks be to God that though there is suffering and sorrow in life – my hope is secure. Faith in God makes all things possible. He comes close to us in our brokenness to be our comfort. He is the Resurrection and Life but to experience these qualities something must die.

We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed—always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body.

I am praying for my friend today. His heart is heavy. Hope is waning. He is struggling to maintain happiness and hope without substance. His Faith is in an Unknown God defined by his mind. The Unknown God will never be enough. We must know God to enter His Presence and live in it. You know your own suffering today. Your heart can well define its sorrow. Bad news may have come calling. It has visited me recently too. It is only by faith and trust which gives way to confident hope that I am still here. God knows what I need and how to deliver. His Spirit comforts me, encourages me and restores me when emptiness threatens to overtake me. Christ is enough. He must be our portion. We must live in Christ to know God and experience His Glory and Goodness in our life. His Way is always better which means I must yield my way to Him. Even when that way is dark and foreboding, I must go where He goes, doing what He does, saying what He says, and becoming who He has called me to be. I must decrease so Christ increases in my life. (John 3:30) It is only then that we do not fear the messenger but fully embrace the Word. Only then can I take my eyes off the giant and turn to my Champion. I have hope that is eternal and cannot be stripped away. Living hope. He is the Known God to all who seek Him. His Name is Jesus Christ.

I Peter 1:3-5 (NKJV) Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.

 

Resurrect Me

Resurrect Me

John 16:33 (MSG) Jesus answered them, “Do you finally believe? In fact, you’re about to make a run for it—saving your own skins and abandoning me. But I’m not abandoned. The Father is with me. I’ve told you all this so that trusting me, you will be unshakable and assured, deeply at peace. In this godless world you will continue to experience difficulties. But take heart! I’ve conquered the world.”

Good Friday. It doesn’t feel like a good day. The list of to do is way too long. The amount of sleep way too small for the weekend filled with remembering the greatest day in history. But there had to be this day, the day that Jesus died for us. Releasing His Grace and His Power that would be available to us. The death and resurrection of Jesus Christ are important. The sacrifice is the very thing that saves us, but there is so much more to the story than His Death. However, one must be observed with the other for a perfect union to be made. Communion is not just that which signifies His Blood but there must be a breaking of the bread which is His Body, too. What can wash away my sins? Nothing but the Blood of Jesus. Today is that day… the day His Blood ran red for me. It was a messy day filled with the failures of those who promised to be with Him, to stay by His Side, and never deny Him. The ones who were committed to even “die” for him. All empty promises in the shadow of the “old rugged cross”. Why do we call such an epic failure on our part – something good? Good Friday is the day is the day that despite our inability to be who we promised that Jesus was exactly who He promised.

The responsibilities of today are overwhelming. I have a great deal to do in just a 24-hour span. I am feeling the pressure of performance yet in the quiet place of God’s Presence – I am challenged to release this heavy burden and take hold of His Grace. Maybe the clouds in my head, and heaviness of my heart are not about my inability as a person to do all the many things I want to do but it is the heaviness of the moment – Jesus died for me. If it had ended there, it would have been enough to save me. Perfect sacrifice for imperfect people. However, God had a plan. It is was for my good. It was to prosper the purpose inside of me and release my full potential. The pressure around me is pushing this out of me. Overcoming power is rising up within me. Jesus is with me. He is the One who is everything I need to conquer this day and every challenge that comes in this life.

Luke 23:44-54 (MSG) By now it was noon. The whole earth became dark, the darkness lasting three hours—a total blackout. The Temple curtain split right down the middle. Jesus called loudly, “Father, I place my life in your hands!” Then he breathed his last. When the captain there saw what happened, he honored God: “This man was innocent! A good man, and innocent!” All who had come around as spectators to watch the show, when they saw what actually happened, were overcome with grief and headed home. Those who knew Jesus well, along with the women who had followed him from Galilee, stood at a respectful distance and kept vigil. There was a man by the name of Joseph, a member of the Jewish High Council, a man of good heart and good character. He had not gone along with the plans and actions of the council. His hometown was the Jewish village of Arimathea. He lived in alert expectation of the kingdom of God. He went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Taking him down, he wrapped him in a linen shroud and placed him in a tomb chiseled into the rock, a tomb never yet used. It was the day before Sabbath, the Sabbath just about to begin.

There was a man named Joseph. The Word of God remembers him as someone who was good and had a good heart. He lived “in alert expectation of the Kingdom of God.” I like him already. He went to Pilate requesting the body of Jesus. He took him down from the cross, the broken body of our Lord, and wrapped Him carefully in linen and placed Him in a tomb. It was the day before the Sabbath. It was the day before… How many times on the brink of breakthrough do we do the same thing? Take Jesus off the Cross burying Him with our dreams and visions wrapped in the grave clothes of doubt, unmet expectation, failure, or even just plain disbelief. It is over. God, you didn’t. I failed. It’s over. Time to move on. Oh but the Sabbath is coming. The Sabbath is just about to begin. Sabbath had two purposes – rest and worship. The Lord was about to make a grand appearance. What people called the end and death of the dream was actually only the beginning and donning of miracles. It is human nature to see the physical state of our lives as reality. If our perception of Jesus goes with Him to the Cross and follows Him to the grave but gives up right there – where is the power? His Grace sufficient in His Death and Sacrifice. Enough to cover every sin I commit, fault that I have and failure that is before me. However, Jesus didn’t stay in the grave. Death had no hold. It was only the beginning.

I Corinthians 15:15-57 (MSG) God can pour on the blessings in astonishing ways so that you’re ready for anything and everything, more than just ready to do what needs to be done. As one psalmist puts it, He throws caution to the winds, giving to the needy in reckless abandon. His right-living, right-giving ways never run out, never wear out. This most generous God who gives seed to the farmer that becomes bread for your meals is more than extravagant with you. He gives you something you can then give away, which grows into full-formed lives, robust in God, wealthy in every way, so that you can be generous in every way, producing with us great praise to God.

On the day that Jesus died, His Lifeless Body hanging on the Cross. I wonder how overwhelmed and disappointed the people who followed Him must have felt. Fearing for their own lives – they went into hiding. Soon many would return to an ordinary life – their traditions of religion. Too often we live in the three days between His Death and Resurrection. Accepting part of the package but giving up on the Power promised on the third day when the grave was now empty. We don’t get that far as the pressures of life force us into busyness and our failures force us into hiding. Good Friday is a Good Day! Resurrection Day changed everything. Will this be the year that it marks His Triumphant Resurrection? Will this be the day that I finally take hold of the Keys to His Kingdom and begin opening all the doors and windows of my life to His Presence and Power? I call myself a Christian because I love and follow Christ. My journey didn’t end at the Cross but began there. It followed Him to the grave, but what I must do is stay there. I must stay in the dead zone called comfort and compromise but accept all the Power His Resurrection holds.

The seeds in my life will grow with faith. Trust in the Lord is what waters my potential and develops into purpose. There are two more days until Sunday – the Sabbath. Jesus died for me. Today I remember and rejoice in His Sacrifice that made a way for me. I cannot stop at the Cross. In the natural, I cannot see how in the world that I will accomplish everything on my demanding schedule in just three days. Grace is not just what saves us but empowers us. It is a busy weekend after a long week. But Sunday is coming…the Sabbath is almost here. The Lord is doing something is us that will soon be poured out of us. Our lives are becoming fully-formed and complete in Him. The Lord is enriching every area of our life and making us wealthy in every way. He is filling us with His Love and overflowing generosity to give our life away praising Him along the way. He is the Bread of Life that blesses our life making us edible. I have nothing to offer anyone even myself outside of the Christ in me. He has to live in me. I must allow Him to fill me.

John 11:21-26 (MSG) Martha said, “Master, if you’d been here, my brother wouldn’t have died. Even now, I know that whatever you ask God he will give you.” Jesus said, “Your brother will be raised up.” Martha replied, “I know that he will be raised up in the resurrection at the end of time. You don’t have to wait for the End. I am, right now, Resurrection and Life. The one who believes in me, even though he or she dies, will live. And everyone who lives believing in me does not ultimately die at all. Do you believe this?”

Lazarus had been dead more than three days. His family including his sisters, Martha and Mary, were mourning his passage. Jesus arrived to join them. Martha told the Lord if only you had been here…my brother would not have died. Jesus told her that he was going to be raised up. He was dismissed in her disbelief. Jesus is the Resurrection and the Life. For His Life to end in the natural would pay the price for our sin, but it is in the Resurrection that life begins now and the supernatural abundance of God is released. His Power is accessible by His Grace. His Grace gives us an open invitation to attend His Resurrection. Nothing meant to live can remain dead when Jesus is present. It must come to life. It cannot stay in its former state. Yet, there is a process. Jesus was in the grave for three long days. It seems that Lazarus may have endured the same process before Life called him out.

“Do you believe this?” Good question for this Good Friday. We struggle just to accept the sufficiency of God’s Grace and the totality of Christ’s Sacrifice – let alone allow it to be the dominate power in our life. Good Friday cannot just mark the death of Jesus but the death of self. I remember one night sitting at my son’s bedside in a dark hospital room. For days it seemed that he had been sleeping which given the circumstances was not a bad thing. I felt so alone in that place. The clicking and beating of monitors like a ticking clock on the wall. I put in my headphones to crank up the music and drown out the noise. Ready to dissolve in His Presence and escape overwhelming isolation so I went to YouTube. Kari Jobe was the next video loaded and the song, “Forever”. One of my favorites – I cranked it up really loud closing my eyes. It was that night that I fully experienced and fully comprehended the Power of the Resurrection. The future of the resurrection insured that our son had a place. Suddenly every boundary and barrier between heaven and earth melted to reveal a Savior who is the Resurrection and Life both now and forever. So many things were broken up in my heart that night with tears streaming down my face. “Everyone who lives believing in me will never die.”

Hebrews 11:5-6 (MSG) By an act of faith, Enoch skipped death completely. “They looked all over and couldn’t find him because God had taken him.” We know on the basis of reliable testimony that before he was taken “he pleased God.” It’s impossible to please God apart from faith. And why? Because anyone who wants to approach God must believe both that he exists and that he cares enough to respond to those who seek him.

When Jesus came back to life, He walked among the people again. But now, He was God unstoppable. His Flesh was no longer a hindrance. His Power unlimited. I wonder if that is the message of Easter. Could it be that this pressure is the response of my dying flesh? I love Easter. It is my favorite holiday. No kidding! It is the day that Jesus came to live in me. His Power made complete by grace partnered with faith. Now I can please God with the feeble offering of my life – because Christ is enough! He lives in me! He is making His Way through me so His Love will pour out of me. Now…in the land of the living. I love Enoch’s story. He walked so closely with the Lord that one day he just disappeared. God’s Glory is for us. It rose to meet us. We didn’t meet Jesus at the tomb. In fact, not a single person witnessed the Resurrection of Christ. The stone was rolled away, the grave clothes neatly folded, and the tomb empty. Jesus was gone. Where was He? Standing at the grave of our life, speaking life to us, digging up our dead dreams, and changing the reality of our life and its destination. I was not at His Grave … He was at mine.

Overcoming death to live in overwhelming grace is a process. Exchanging doubt and fear for faith and trust is a huge endeavor that must be a daily endeavor. However, need I remind you as the Lord is reminding me – His Grace is enough to release His Resurrection Power in every area of our life? Martha revealed that her faith was invested in the future. Jesus was about to release His Power right then and there. Living for forever points to the Cross and the Sacrifice of Jesus including the outpouring of His Grace. It is Good Friday! But Sunday is coming! The tomb is history. Jesus just became the history maker, earth shaker and world changer. His Power is now available today. It is our ability to establish faith and decide that His Grace and Power are for today that lead us to fulfillment. Jesus died to give us a rich and satisfying life now. Today. The process of moving from death to life took the Lord three days. It was a similar experience for Lazarus. Enoch walked so closely with the Lord that He disappeared in His Presence. I want to be that person who lives and walks by faith every day. I want to live adventurously expectant of God’s Power manifesting in my life all the time not just when He raises me in the final day. I want all that He died for me to have and rose up to give me. I must live in such expectancy. So today in the midst of overwhelming pressure, overpowering details, and a chaotic life – God resurrect me. Lord, I speak life in the Name of Jesus to every dead dream, paled vision and unclaimed promise in my life. You are the Resurrection and Power for this life not just my forever! Resurrect me Lord to live in Your Shadow and dwell deeply in Your Presence now and forevermore.

Romans 8:15-17 (MSG) This resurrection life you received from God is not a timid, grave-tending life. It’s adventurously expectant, greeting God with a childlike “What’s next, Papa?” God’s Spirit touches our spirits and confirms who we really are. We know who he is, and we know who we are: Father and children. And we know we are going to get what’s coming to us—an unbelievable inheritance! We go through exactly what Christ goes through. If we go through the hard times with him, then we’re certainly going to go through the good times with him!

Breathless

Breathless

Matthew 16:24-26 (NLT) Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross, and follow me. If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it. And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul? Is anything worth more than your soul?

I love praise and worship. To begin with a simple song, and get lost in His Presence erases the burdens of the day filling the heart and mind with freedom all over again. A room full of people evaporate into a moment of just us – the Lord and I. If you haven’t experienced such a time in the Presence of God – I highly recommend it. With my eyes closed lost in His Love, the worship leader made a statement something like, “When you woke up this morning, the Lord was there with you, but what if He wasn’t?” My heart stopped. I couldn’t find another breath. It was unthinkable to comprehend a morning without Him let alone a whole day. I am too far gone in this thing called faith. Somewhere in the last few years, my life has become unmanageable without the Holy Spirit in me, filling me, holding me and keeping me. It was a defining moment. Just an ordinary midweek service in a little church in the woods, but nevertheless no less motivating than that which thrust Peter from a boat in the midst of the storm. Maybe this is what it means the deep cries out to deep.

If you want to be my follower…Jesus didn’t force us to go after Him. He invites us into His Presence but does not push or shove us to go. He just tells how to do it, and makes the way clear with unconditional love, overwhelming grace and new mercy each day to accompany us on our journey. We must decide to start. The steps are clear and uncomplicated. You must give up your own way. Take up your cross. Follow me. We are the ones who make it more difficult than it really is. With fancy religion, outdated tradition, and overrated opinions creating methods that do not lead us into the Presence of God or create a lasting relationship with Jesus Christ. In the end, there is nothing. A fathomless void of empty promises sealed with regret.

To save our life, we must lose it. What does it benefit me if I gain the whole world, but lose my soul? Is anything worth more than my soul? Not to Jesus. He died to rescue our soul, the essence of our being that makes it to eternity. My body will die. Everything I own turn to rubble. It is my soul that must prosper. As He breathes new life in me day by day, I find that I am no longer breathing on my own.

John 14:6 (NLT) Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me. 

I have a friend who grew up in the Greek Orthodox. She knew of God. Heavily immersed in the teachings of her church, it was something she did not about someone she knew. It was when the Lord heard her cries and answered, “No one can come to the Father except through me” that she finally accepted the grace that is sufficient to allow us access into God’s Presence again. The doorway opened by faith and maintained by hope can never be closed again by anyone but those who possess it. Jesus is the Way. He is the Truth (Word of God). He is the life (His Spirit). All these qualities wrapped in a love so great and inconceivable even those who receive it seldom know what to do with it.

Repentance is truly the giving up of our way to walk through life the Lord’s Way. I cannot step into right standing with God or come to Him boldly outside the covering of grace given to me by Jesus. I cannot follow another without surrendering my way. People are not given to surrender or submission. It is a sign of weakness in society but God uses such things to confuse the enemy. Jesus is the only way. I was talking to a very nice gentleman who belongs to a certain fellowship that believes that life is a journey to God. It doesn’t matter what path you choose – you will get there. Believing only that one must be a good person and give their life to others it leads to Heaven. That is not what God’s Word says, and you cannot change it without nullifying the whole thing as tainted to truth which becomes a fallacy. He missed it. They all missed it. Studying the Bible yet not surrendering one’s way leads to darkness. Compromise is of this world, a new life in Christ is bound by commitment. It is the only way that our faith become the key that unlocks His Kingdom for us.

John MacArthur defined the first step of discipleship as self-denial. He said, “Discipleship is on God’s Terms, just as coming to Him is on His Terms. The Lord here reminds us that the key discipleship principle of wining by losing involves self-denial, cross-bearing, and loyal obedience.” The word “deny” is from aparneomai which means to completely disown, to utterly separate oneself from someone. This is the kind of denial a believer is to make regarding self. To utterly disown and refuse to acknowledge one’s old self. Arthur Pink wrote, “Growth in grace is growth downward; it is the forming of a lower estimate of ourselves; it is a deepening realization of our nothingness; it is a heartfelt recognition that we are not worthy of the least of God’s mercies.” It is in the midst of such revelation that one can move on to take up our cross.

Galatians 2:20-21(NLT)My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I do not treat the grace of God as meaningless. For if keeping the law could make us right with God, then there was no need for Christ to die.

How do I take up my cross? John MacArthur relate that this “is simply to be willing to pay any price for Christ’s sake. It is the willingness to endure shame, embarrassment, reproach, rejection, persecution, and even martyrdom for His Sake.” Early followers understood the concept of the cross because they watched people carry the load of it all the way to their death naturally, physically and visually daily. During the lifetime of Christ alone, it is estimated that there were about 30,000 crucifixions that took place. MacArthur goes on to share to take up our cross for the Lord as His Disciple is to begin a death march through this world. In fact he sums it up quite nicely as “To come to Jesus Christ for salvation is not to raise a hand or sign a card, although such things may sometimes play a part. To come to Jesus Christ is to come to the end of self and sin and to become so desirous of Christ and His righteousness that one will make any sacrifice for Him.”

My old self is crucified with Christ. The process is complete but my transformation is not. Each day the Lord reveals more and more to be sacrificed and surrendered to His Love, Grace and Mercy. To complete this journey of genuine faith and confident hope means that I must continue to follow Christ with my cross by my side to nail every passion, desire and intent outside of His Way and keep moving as instructed. The cross represents the suffering I will face in my pursuit of Christ. Christ does not call us to His Side to make life easy and prosperous but to make us holy and productive. This will result in complete peace and satisfaction in our acquisition of the life that He planned for us.

Matthew 10:37-38 (NLT) “If you love your father or mother more than you love me, you are not worthy of being mine; or if you love your son or daughter more than me, you are not worthy of being mine. If you refuse to take up your cross and follow me, you are not worthy of being mine.

In the children’s movie, “Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town”, the character known as Winter Warlock wants to leave his evil ways behind but cannot seem to find his way. Kris Kringle attempts to help him with the song, “Put One Foot in Front of the Other.” It goes like this – Put one foot in front of the other and soon you’ll be walking ‘cross the floor. Put one foot in front of the other and soon you’ll be walking out the door.” One step turns into another and another. Change of direction is formed one footstep at a time. I hope you are not offended by this analogy. But rather than making following Christ so difficult, why not keep it simple? It truly is basic. Deciding with a single footstep and continuing with each footfall to follow Jesus. That’s really all there is to it. Change is always overwhelming. Comfort is compromised when our Call is Christ. I didn’t say it wasn’t hard. In fact, it challenges me every single day in each choice I make to choose Christ, His Way and His Word. But it is worth it…oh so worth it.

To follow Christ may mean leaving others behind. It is a radical transition from death to life that some people will not embrace. Love them. Lead them. Pray for them. You have to keep moving closer in obedience each and every day to reach the full potential God placed in your life and achieve the purpose for which He has called you. So what does this have to do with anything from the worship experience? It means everything and here’s why.

Ephesians 3:17-20 (NLT) Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God. Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.

About halfway through our son’s battle with cancer, I think around the third and most heavily involved relapse, I reached the end of me. The distance between God and man became too wide to live on both sides any longer. Each conversation laced in pity. The treatment plan now involved the word “death”. In our faith and medically, just about the time it looked like we had won only to discover it was fighting back harder and stronger almost smarter each time. Just about the time, a glimmer of hope began to shine it was threatened by insurance. I don’t know what happened or exactly how it did or the precise moment of transition but somewhere in the mix of chaotic details, I detached from reality and grabbed faith with both hands. I couldn’t straddle the fence, I was forced to choose who to believe and to follow. I think we all come to that inevitable moment when we can no longer serve God and this world. In that moment a choice is made that will change our life forever…at least it did mine.

The moment of truth comes when we must answer the call to deeper things of God. Not the occasion run for the altar or shedding of some tears, but the moment that we finally disconnect from faith in anything or anyone other than Jesus. It is a traumatic event to completely surrender one’s faith and life to the Lord. However, what I found in that moment when I could not bear the details of my life any longer that His Response was unfathomable and endless love for me. He filled all the empty spaces and cavernous voids left in the process of refinement when all the worthless things in my life were burned away to reveal fresh ground for new faith.

How did it begin? Not the moment my heart was shattered along with every sense of security I had when they told me that he had cancer. It was not in the complete undoing of my perception of life to accept the reality of Christ found in our crisis. It began when I made the commitment to give up my life, take up my cross and follow Him. It was not spectacular in production just the simple choice to put one foot in front of the other again and again. When I came to the end of myself, Jesus was waiting. Diving into the depths of His Love, I still struggle to fully understand this encounter. When Christ completes us, it leaves us breathless to try imagine life without Him immersed in His Love. He wants you to experience the width, length, height, and depth of His Love for you. You must come to Jesus. Do things His Way. Take up your cross laying down your life and decide to follow Him no matter what the cost. Nothing more or less will do. In exchange for your life, He gives us His Glory. Through His Mighty Power at work in us, the Lord will accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. This is His Promise to me. This is His Promise for you. Yes, it leaves me breathless.

Job 33:4 (NLT) For the Spirit of God has made me, and the breath of the Almighty gives me life.

This is the air I breathe, this is the air I breathe, Your Holy Presence living in me. This is my daily bread. This is my daily bread. Your very Word spoken to me. And I’m desperate for you, and I’m lost without you! – Breathe by Michael W. Smith

The Moment that Changed Everything

The Moment that Changed Everything

John 19:30 (NIV)

When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.

 

Can you hear it? Do you feel the earth moving beneath you? It makes my heart beat wildly and the hair rise on the back of my neck. It’s Good Friday. That means that it’s almost here. Just a little while longer. I haven’t always felt this way about Easter. When I was a little girl, my grandmother insisted on sewing my sister and me matching dresses with cute little bonnets. The trouble was that my sister and I are seven years a part in age, so while she looked adorable at four or five, I looked ridiculous at that age. I remember brightly colored baskets filled with plastic eggs, a big chocolate bunny and other little trinkets. I can smell the ham roasting and taste the rainbow deviled egg that was made from the eggs once colored. I had no idea as a child what I know now as an adult. Easter is the greatest day in history. It was the day everything changed for me. My past, present and future all wrapped up in a single moment of time. It began on Good Friday on an old rugged cross. My Savior, my Lord, and my God hanging there on the brink of death. Bearing every sin, shame, burden and sickness, Jesus fulfilled every single line of the law for me since I had fallen short. He made sure that every weakness was sufficiently covered by His Grace. He took stripes to ensure that sickness and disease would not live in my body. The Lord allowed a crown of thorns to be pressed deep into His Precious Brow not bloody and swollen from all the beatings that He endured for me so that I could one day have the Mind of Christ to overcome the lie of the enemy. All of this for me. One might think it was over but oh no friend it was just the beginning.

 

This would be the beginning of the end. These final moments on the Cross. The disciples watching and waiting anticipating the death of their dreams and end of all hope. How could this be? This is not what they expected? The hero doesn’t die but lives to overcome the enemy. Where is He going? He promised never to leave us or forsake us but He is definitely on His Way Out. I wonder if Mary pondered this in her heart along with the promised that God had given her. Did she realize that her Son was born to die? All things thoughts on this day as the Savior of the world died.

 

This morning as I contemplate Easter, I do not for a moment discount the magnitude of this moment when Jesus died. Jesus declared it was finished. “Telelestai” is a comprehensive, comfortable and confident word. In the Greek, this is considered to be a “perfect passive indicative” which is very important. This is definitive. What exactly had been done? Jesus had fulfilled the requirement of God’s Law. He fulfilled every New Testament prophecy concerning the Messiah. Jesus ended the power of sin in that moment because it was not ineffective. The Blood of Jesus poured out in sacrifice covered every possible transgression that might keep us from peace with God. Jesus finished the Work of His Father to perfection. In that moment, the suffering of mankind found an end. No longer were we victims of the fall of humanity, but now overcomes through the Blood of Jesus Christ.

 

Jesus bowed His Head and gave up His Spirit. Two things of importance here. Most people who were crucified kept their head up to continue to breathe from such a position. At the time of death, their heads would fall after their soul left their body. But Jesus bowed His Head in submission to God first, and then He released His Spirit. His Life was not taken from Him but freely surrendered to God in absolute obedience and submission to His Father’s Supreme Power and Authority. A sacrifice is to surrender something. It cannot be taken but must be freely given. All of this in one moment and one verse that would change history forever.

 

Matthew 27:50-54 (NIV)

 And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit. At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook, the rocks split and the tombs broke open. The bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life. They came out of the tombs after Jesus’ resurrection and went into the holy city and appeared to many people. When the centurion and those with him who were guarding Jesus saw the earthquake and all that had happened, they were terrified, and exclaimed, “Surely he was the Son of God!”

 

The moment that Jesus surrendered His Life, He released or gave up His Spirit. This was not the sound of His Final breath escaping along with His Soul. No He cried out in a loud definitive voice, “It is finished.” Work complete. Game over. In that second, He released His Spirit the earth quickly responded. The veil in the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. Mankind could now access God the Father all by himself. The earth responded to the Spirit as it began to quake with purpose and fulfillment. Tombs opened and many holy people who had died were raised to life. Why? They could now access Heaven through Christ – their long wait had ended. Before leaving, they went about the city. Salvation was released in that moment as the first soul saved is captured in these verses, “When the centurion and those with him who were guarding Jesus saw the earthquake and all that had happened, they were terrified, and exclaimed, ‘Surely he was the Son of God!’” This was the moment everything changed. Resurrection Power released by His Spirit encircling the earth. Wow…what a moment! In Acts 2:1-4, the Spirit finds His Home as He begins filling people empowering their faith to do the impossible.

 

John 11:25-26 (NIV)

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?”

 

I remember my favorite Sunday school teacher, Mrs. Strock, sharing the story of Passover around the time of Easter. I was fascinated by the story of blood on a doorpost that would cause the death angel to “pass over” that home. I had no idea of the significance. As I shared before, although we went to church on Easter, my memories are more about the holiday than the Hope found that day. That was then and this is now. As a child, I naturally anticipated Christmas more than Easter. Now, I am more excited about Easter than any other day of the year. Jesus Christ is the Resurrection and Life. Anyone who believes in Him will live and death becomes a crossover point to everlasting life. The same power that God exerted to bring Jesus back from the grave now is available to us. We can live with a holy inhabitation of the Holy Spirit that brings every dead thing back to life. He is the One who cultivates every seed sown in faith to become fruit worthy of God. Do you believe? When we believe, God’s Power fills us and the Potential in our life becomes limitless. If only we could believe…

 

I Peter 1:3-9 (NIV)

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

 

I have living hope today through the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. Hope that breathes new life into everything I put my hands to as a Spirit-filled and surrendered servant of the Most High God – His Favor is in me so that when I set out to do something it is supernaturally accomplished by faith because I have the Resurrection of Christ in me. Genuine faith is of greater worth than any commodity traded on the earth. His Love produces in us something far greater that is intangible and cannot be taken by the enemy. With this idea in mind, I challenge you to see today that His Power in us is not going to change the condition of the world. It is not designed to end circumstances, change consequences or eliminate situations. His Power is here to save us. It is here to change us. It is bringing dead things to live but the world will continue to die and fade away. Things will steal be corrupted and eaten by moth. Resurrection Power is for the human soul. It is the procurement of every promise hidden in God’s Plan for us. It is produced to complete us from the inside out. The end result of faith does nothing for our natural condition but does everything for our soul condition. As our soul prospers… so will we.

 

Ephesians 1:18-23 (NIV)

I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.

 

Jesus is now King Jesus. He reigns supreme with all power and authority. God gave this to Him. Jesus chose to give His Power to us. He decided to invest His Spirit in us when it was released in the atmosphere and breathed into humanity once again. We have a glorious inheritance of completion and total fulfillment possible when we surrender our life to Jesus Christ. God never intended to stop at the time of salvation though many will give their hearts to Jesus on Sunday few will every move past the moment to experience full growth and development in Jesus Christ. He offers us His Fullness but too many times, we settle for something less. Something familiar. Something comfortable. Something in an ugly shade of gray rather basking in the Light of His Love. The same power that raised Christ from the dead and exalted Him to the Right Hand of God is living and breathing in those who choose to believe. Why don’t we do what Jesus did? Why not surrender our life in submission to God? Why not release His Word, His Spirit and His Power on the earth? Why not here? Why not now? Do you believe? Lord, help my unbelief so that I can experience more of Your Power in my life today.

 

Philippians 3:10-14 (NIV)

I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. 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.

 

Yesterday, I received the wonderful, miraculous news that our son is still in remission. It has been almost two years since his bone marrow transplant. The transplant was part of a clinical trial to save his life after it was clear that cancer had the upper hand. I had the Word of God that said, “He would live and not die.” At first I carried that Word over my head like a banner that was the first time. But there would be a second, third and fourth time followed by an fifth. By the time we had been denied the final time exhausting all earthly avenues to allow him to undergo the experimental clinical trial, all I had left was God’s Promise. I bowed my head at my desk in the empty building. I did not cry and I am not sure why. I simply told God what His Promise to me was and laid it all at His Son’s Feet. I felt a burden lift. I cannot explain in when all earthy options were exhausted and we were completely denied. I still had this Word that I was clinging too although my banner now resembled the strip of paper in a fortune cookie. I clung to it. My God is not dead. My Jesus is alive. He will do as He promised. Well, as most of you probably know by now, the approval for his procedure was waiting in the fax machine the very next day. No one knows who did it or where it came from. No one cared they literally ran with it. This is not the miracle though.

 

The clinical trials all come with information that is required reading by the participant. As I read each one, I was not at all encouraged. There was a 2% survival rate among patients participating in the trial. Most died before they completed treatment and even more in the first ninety days. Of the 2% who did survive, no one made it more than two years. We have entered the twentieth month. The doctors have given him a clean bill of health. Other than some inconveniences post treatment that are considered minor, they marvel at his resilience. He has recently been able to visit another young man who is battling the same cancer. He is giving away encouragement and hope. He is a full-time engineering student at a major university who filled with the Resurrection Power of Christ never gave up faith that God would restore his life. God did it for Him. He wants to do it for you! Our son’s story is far from over. Cancer is not the climax. The wonderworking power of God inside of Him is still working its way out.

 

Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, are your pressing for the goal to win the prize for which God has called you today? Why not? Do you have dead dreams? Do you have a broken heart? Is their sickness in your body? Are you a captive fear? Whatever insufficiency is in your life today – His Grace is enough! Jesus is declaring “IT IS FINISHED” for you today. Will you believe? Will you take Him at His Word? Pass by the Cross, leave your sin and shame but move from the death to life. Claim His Resurrection Power. Let Jesus breathe His Spirit and new life in you this weekend as we celebrate an empty tomb and Risen Lord. Don’t leave this moment unchanged. Everything in your life can change in a single moment. The moment you believe. It is finished. It is over. The battle is won. You are saved, healed, delivered, and complete in the Name of Jesus Christ and His Resurrection Power. To know Jesus to know His Power to share it with others – this is my goal. This is my race the one called faith. This will be my moment that changes everything because I choose to believe.

 

I Corinthians 15:54-58 (NIV)

When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.” “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.

So You Want Revival?

So You Want Revival

John 11:25-27 (NIV)

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?” “Yes, Lord,” she replied, “I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.”

There is a small cry building momentum rising from churches across America and around the world calling out for revival. People want God to manifest His Presence. They desire a move of God beyond the natural confines of buildings and productions. Is this a need to see God for validation or is it a burning desire for Him to come closer? It makes a difference. Our church is crying out for revival. We want God to come in our midst. Our deepest desire is to be an institution completely given to the lost, dying and afflicted people all around us. Our vision becomes our mission to see all – saved, healed, developed and fulfilled. Knowing our purpose, one must come up with a plan. This morning as I once again petition the Lord send His Revival, the thought occurs to me, “Do we know what we are asking for?”

God is not like us. His Ways are not our ways and His Thoughts much higher than human consciousness or basic perception. As begin to dig deeper into this ancient cry now beginning to resonant again, it must be fundamental. The origin of the root word “revive” is to return to consciousness or restore to health. It comes from the Latin word “revivere” which is re – again and vivere – live. The dictionary defines “revive” to activate, set into motion, or take up again. To renew. To restore life. To quicken or renew our mind. When you add “al” to the end of the word, it means to set it into motion or make it a reality. There is nothing new about revival. It comes from something ancient and authentic that is inside of us.

 

Lazarus had died. They called for Jesus to come while he was sick, but the Lord did not make it in time so their brother had passed away. He had been dead and buried for three long days. When Jesus arrived, He found His Friends mourning and in the midst of grief. He presented a different option. He offered resurrection and life. Whoever lives believing in Jesus will never die but live again. After His Statement, Jesus asked Martha, “Do you believe?” What a respectful cover she gave, thinking fast on her feet, she offered all that she had in that moment, “I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.” Why didn’t Martha say something like, “Yes, I believe”? Because Martha’s faith was limited to the here and now. She was the sister consumed by activity and responsibility. The one who worked her way to approval and affirmation. She was the busy one who had no time to wait around but rather chose to make things happen. All she knew and believed was that if Jesus had been there her brother would not have died. She did not realize that before her stood the Resurrection and Life that would change her situation. The One who would end her mourning. Jesus would be her Revival that day.

Every moment that I spend with Jesus thinking I am getting to know Him is lost in the revelation that I am only beginning to discover His Love, Grace, Faithfulness and Goodness to me. Revival is not something we do. It is not like a fire beginning with a spark that we can add fuel to. Revival is Jesus. Plain and simple. Revival comes when we allow our faith to grow beyond this life to experience everlasting life – now. Initially, people come to the Lord desiring a better life now. Seeking release from the bondage of sin, its consequences, life’s hardships including sickness and disease. All of these things are now. Following Jesus will absolutely change our life now. But if we limit our pursuit to just this life, we are selling ourselves short.

James 1:4-6 (NIV)

Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.

We must allow faith to finish its work so that (God’s People) will be mature and complete, not lacking anything. Are you lacking anything today? I have a good life. Things are going well right now. However, I am lacking some things. If you have a single pain, ailment or sickness in your body – you are not complete. If your mind has an inkling of fear, stress, worry or anxiety, you are lacking. If you do not believe in any way shape or form that God is doing exactly what He promised in your life or you possess a dead dream – God is not finished with you yet. Faith and confident hope are the basis of revival. We must take the tiny seed of faith and take the time to build confident hope that connects us to Jesus until we become so rooted and grounded in His Love we are fully mature. How do I know that the church has not arrived? Simple.

Mark 16:16-18 (NIV)

Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. And these signs will accompany those who believe: In my name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up snakes with their hands; and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all; they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well.”

This passage states that “whoever believes and is baptized will be saved” and “these signs will accompany those who believe.” Accompany means to “go along with.” The New King James Version uses the word “follow”. Stop and think about that for a moment. I have ever since I studied this passage yesterday. Signs will follow those who believe. If signs, wonders and miracles are not following me or accompanying me – it is directly connected to my faith and ability to believe. If I truly believe, they will follow and accompany me which means that it is not something that I do but the Resurrection and Life who is Jesus Christ emanating from inside me.

Isaiah 57:14-15 (NIV)

And it will be said: “Build up, build up, prepare the road! Remove the obstacles out of the way of my people.” For this is what the high and exalted One says—he who lives forever, whose name is holy: “I live in a high and holy place, but also with the one who is contrite and lowly in spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly and to revive the heart of the contrite.

Isaiah 61:1-4 (NIV)

The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion—to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor. They will rebuild the ancient ruins and restore the places long devastated; they will renew the ruined cities that have been devastated for generations. And they shall rebuild the old ruins, they shall raise up the former desolations, and they shall repair the ruined cities, the desolations of many generations.

In the book of Isaiah, there are many passages that point to Jesus and His Work on the earth. He came to rebuild the way for mankind to return to their Creator. He became the Way. Note that in Isaiah 61 it says that “the Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me.” On me versus in me. The Spirit of God is in us because in the New Testament – Jesus, the Sinless Son of God, sacrifices His Life for our life. The word “revive” becomes “resurrection” in the New Testament because now that same Spirit of the Sovereign Lord moves from on me to in me. (John 20:22) People can now be baptized with the fire that was promised that will send a spark of revival into their soul. Revival is resurrection life. Resurrection life will always be direct gift from Jesus Christ. We can do nothing to facilitate revival other than believe. To believe motivates us to follow the Lord which will be evidenced by the “signs that follow us.” I want to see people saved. I want them to be healed, oh how I desire it so. I want to see them fully developed and mature so the enemy can stop misleading and distracting all God’s People. I want to see others fulfilled. Martha’s belief only carried her as far as this life, Jesus wanted it to lead her to forever. Resurrection and life stood before her. She could see the Lord. However, now revival, resurrection and life live in us. Greater is He who is in me than He who is in the world. As I decrease, Christ increases. If I continue to pursue Jesus and only Jesus – revival will come from the inside out.

Romans 6:4-8 (NIV)

We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his. For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin—because anyone who has died has been set free from sin. Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him.

Something must die to live again. Revival cannot happen until something dies in us. Repentance is the beginning of resurrection life. (Isaiah 1:27-28) As we consistently and completely turn from sin and darkness into the Light of His Love. People repent in varying degrees. How do I know? If you do not live, look and talk the same way in the world as you do in church – then your repentance is limited. I know, I know. I am only human, too but I want to be like Jesus. If it makes me look over my shoulder, than I am going the wrong way. Revival requires repentance. We must die to our flesh and live by His Spirit in and out of church. I am the church. To live a double life doesn’t fool anyone. The psalmist in Psalm 85 ask the Lord to be revived. He says, I will listen to what God says.” God’s response – revival includes faithfulness born of love. It is given as part of our salvation. It is cultivated by those who desire to remain faithful and righteous before God in all things. It is a life of reverence considering God’s Word, Will and Way in all things not just things pertaining to religion or the church. It requires a life of sowing and reaping in the Spirit. It is revolutionized by obedience. God desires us to live complete lacking nothing. It must become our desire and mission in life to fulfill God’s Desire. We must die to our selfish, sinful nature and all of its wiles and take up our cross to follow Jesus. No matter how many times we may stumble, fall or lose our way – those who continue to pursue, press in, and persevere will see God’s Glory in their natural life.

Philippians 3:10-11 (NIV)

I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead.

Our desire to know Christ, really know the Lord, must become the drive and motivation of our natural life to experience the supernatural manifestation called revival. Just the revelation that revival is not something new, but rather those dead to sin coming alive in Jesus is exciting. Suddenly, I don’t have to do anything but believe which as we all know and will admit is tough sometimes. I can do nothing to promote revival or be resurrected except die to sin allowing Christ to live with in me and make His Way out into the world around me. Count me in. If this is revival, I want it. I am completely incompetent of laying hands on the sick so they will recover. However, Jesus makes me competent as a minister of the New Covenant to do exactly that. (2 Corinthians 3:5-6) The Spirit gives me life that allows me to resuscitate others with the Love and Grace that I have been given. The more I accept Him, acknowledge Him and allow Jesus to give me a new life allows me to let it flow from me to others.  I am a new creation. (2 Corinthians 5:16-17) I must stop allowing the world and its opinion to dissuade me from the Truth. There will be naysayers until corporate revival breaks out because a group of believers embarked on the same mission together. (Acts 4:32-35) Those same people that picked on you, persecuted you and rejected you will be first in line and you will receive them according to the Grace you have been given.

My belief in Jesus Christ must begin to believe in His Resurrection and Life of today not just forever. David said in Psalm 27, “I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.” Are you confident in the Lord today? Are you willing to bet your life on the new life and new creation that He promised? It is this kind of belief that brings Heaven to earth sparking a revival that will spread among believers and followers of Christ. I am afraid that we may have forgotten or become overwhelmed like Martha. In Matthew 24, Jesus warns us that “the love of most will grow cold.” He is not talking about the world. The world does not know love outside of Jesus. He is talking about the church. He concludes that those who endure to the end will be saved. He is definitely talking about His Followers. Revelation 3:16 warns that the “lukewarm” will be spit or vomited from his mouth. Church – He is talking to us directly. Are we listening? We cry out for revival? His Response is the same – “Come to me!” He is the Resurrection and Life. We must put all of our hope and trust in the Lord and His Word, Will and Way to see revival come. (Psalm 119:49-56) So do you still want revival? I do more than ever – even so come, Lord Jesus come!

I Peter 1:3-5 (NIV)

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.

 

Just One

Just One

I John 3:4-6 (NLT)

Everyone who sins is breaking God’s law, for all sin is contrary to the law of God. And you know that Jesus came to take away our sins, and there is no sin in him. Anyone who continues to live in him will not sin. But anyone who keeps on sinning does not know him or understand who he is.

 

“I’ll never know how much it cost to see my sin upon that Cross.” You may recognize this verse from the popular worship song, “Here I Am to Worship” by Michael W. Smith. Definitely an oldie, but goodie. As I sang these words in a youth service last night, the impact was significant at the realization that a single sin nailed Jesus to the Cross, so I will never know the cost of the multitude of sins I have committed and will commit in my lifetime. Perhaps, since I am saved, you are wondering why think about that now. After all, the Grace of God is sufficient and the Blood of Christ complete. It is indeed. However, I do not believe for a moment that we can every stop thinking about sin. It is the darkness that longs to permeate our heart and drag us back into slavery long after we have been washed in the Blood. It is commonplace in the modern church to not discuss the details of the Cross anymore or imagine the stream of bright red blood flowing from it. We open our doors to everyone just as God suggested but leave them unchanged because the church is unchanged. Wearing filthy rags of religious works, sometimes we forget to maintain our white robes of righteousness. We will never be completely free of sin until we are raised with Jesus Christ. When you consider that every sin committed in our life, even those that seem less significant than others, cost Jesus His Life – it should make a difference in what we do, how we think and the way we live.

When our son was undergoing cancer treatment, over and over again, the doctors would warn us prior to each round of the horrible side effects that he would have from the poison being pumped into his body. Horrific but necessary to save his life. Well, we prayed with each infusion and trusted the Lord to protect him and keep him through treatment. I can testify today that this kid did not endure half of what they promised. Yes, it was tough. His body went through a lot. But not everything they promised happened. He continued to attend school when not in the hospital which is unheard of. He did not have all the setbacks. I have praised God on many occasions for His Miraculous Protection of our son through this ordeal as all the doctors and nurses scratched their heads as to why he did not have these problems. On one such occasion, the reality hit me that our son did not go through all these things because Jesus bore them on the Cross. I was immediately brought to my knees with the impact of this revelation. Every sickness and disease was born by our Savior on the Cross. Just imagine it in the natural…a man hanging on a cross dying a death for every single sin every committed while bearing the brunt of sickness and disease in the process. A single sin cost Jesus His Entire Life which makes me the culprit…

Romans 3:23-26 (NLT)

For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. Yet God freely and graciously declares that we are righteous. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins. For God presented Jesus as the sacrifice for sin. People are made right with God when they believe that Jesus sacrificed his life, shedding his blood. This sacrifice shows that God was being fair when he held back and did not punish those who sinned in times past, for he was looking ahead and including them in what he would do in this present time. God did this to demonstrate his righteousness, for he himself is fair and just, and he declares sinners to be right in his sight when they believe in Jesus.

 

During the process of a bone marrow transplant, they asked my son if would like to be an organ donor. As we talked about it, he laughed at the thought they could still use his body parts but absolutely would give to others anything usable. For some reason, this was very hard for me. I am an organ donor. My adult children have all chosen to do the same. The reality of death on one’s doorstep changes one’s perspective for sure. The thought of harvesting organs to save someone’s life seems like the right thing to do… until it is your child’s body being considered. Yet Jesus in His Complete Perfection stepped down from Heaven and freely gave His Life for us. God consented and allowed the sacrifice of His Son for all mankind despite its sinful betrayal and full rebellion against their Creator.

We are all guilty. Grace does not change the sequence of events that brought us to the Lord. Grace does not make them allowable due to human weakness. Everyone has sinned and fallen short of God’s Glorious Standard of Living. I cannot get caught up in comparison to think that just because I am able to avoid some sins better than others that I in any way was not as responsible for the death of Jesus Christ. I was totally responsible. I owe Him my life.

Romans 6:19-23 (NLT)

Because of the weakness of your human nature, I am using the illustration of slavery to help you understand all this. Previously, you let yourselves be slaves to impurity and lawlessness, which led ever deeper into sin. Now you must give yourselves to be slaves to righteous living so that you will become holy. When you were slaves to sin, you were free from the obligation to do right. And what was the result? You are now ashamed of the things you used to do, things that end in eternal doom. But now you are free from the power of sin and have become slaves of God. Now you do those things that lead to holiness and result in eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.

The wages of sin is death. It was from the beginning and will be to the end. I have joked many times if you see me running – you should run to because something is chasing me. The mentality of many is that I just need to be one step ahead of the next guy not to get by whatever is chasing me. The truth is that life is not a footrace against others but a race against sin. We must endure to the end to be saved. What are we enduring – the battle against sin! Jesus has a firm hold on us. His Love will never fail us. He will never ever let go. The question is whether or not I will. Jesus broke every chain that keeps us from following Him and living a life in right standing with God. Too bad we choose religion as our comfort zone rather than embracing God in a righteous relationship. A relationship with God means refusal of sin. He loves us. We love Him. Sin gets in the way. I love my husband. He loves me. Another lover would definitely end our marriage. Salvation is free, but never cheap and easy. To fully accept the Gift of God that is eternal life is to walk away from sin. We must “take up our Cross” and follow Him. We cannot pay the price for our sin. Jesus paid it all. We can be responsible to walk in complete recognition and respect for His Sacrifice each and every day. We do this when we avoid sin and love Him more.

John 3:16-20 (NLT)

“For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him. There is no judgment against anyone who believes in him. But anyone who does not believe in him has already been judged for not believing in God’s one and only Son. And the judgment is based on this fact: God’s light came into the world, but people loved the darkness more than the light, for their actions were evil. All who do evil hate the light and refuse to go near it for fear their sins will be exposed.

Jesus did not come to judge the world. Mankind was already condemned by sin. With nothing to lose, sin grows rampant and love grows cold around us today more than ever. God doesn’t get mad at me when I sin just keeps pointing me to Jesus. He wants me to be saved. I cannot live out my salvation covered in sin. One sin makes a difference in my life. God’s Glorious Standard of Living is fully achieved by avoiding sin at all costs. Will I be sinless? No, of course not. I can try though. To live in God’s Word, listen to His Spirit, communicate with Him daily and do what He says will change my life now and forever. Sin will always cost me something but not my life. No, now sin keeps me from having what Jesus died for me to have. When I allow darkness to seep into my heart, it takes the place of the Light of His Love. I cannot love and embrace wrongdoing and Jesus at the same time. I have to make a choice. Many choices every single day to have the life that God has promised me. If you are living in the favor and blessings promised by God, it is not a God problem. It is a “me” problem. It is a “you” problem. It is an “us” problem. We will never have the life that God promised and we desire living in the darkness because it is only found in the Light of His Amazing Love. The kind of love that would give their whole life for a single white lie, a thoughtless act, or random distraction. See Jesus didn’t die just for the murderers, thieves, pedophiles, rapists, gangbangers, or the like…He died for me. I have never murdered anyone with my hands but I have in my heart. I have not openly taken advantage of another but have thought it in my head. I am not the member of a gang, but have been a part of a religion before. But today I am reminded that I didn’t have to do anything heinous or illegal to need the Blood of Jesus or become a part of the Cross – I just had to sin one time to be a part of the crucifixion and death of an innocent man. It was my sin that killed Jesus. Just one of them demanded His All. I am humbled by the thought today. It changes everything all over again. “So here I am to worship…here I am to bow down… here I am to say that You’re my God!”

I John 4:16-18 (NLT)

We know how much God loves us, and we have put our trust in his love. God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them. And as we live in God, our love grows more perfect. So we will not be afraid on the Day of Judgment, but we can face him with confidence because we live like Jesus here in this world. Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced his perfect love.

I am reminded today of God’s Perfect Love. I am reminded of how much God Loves Me as I think about the sacrifice of His Son, Jesus for me. To live in God means that our love for Him grows more perfect. To love God means to hate sin – all sin. There is no such thing as justifiable sin just forgiven ones. We must daily come to the Cross and carry it as a reminder of how much love was given us that day. We will never know just how much it cost to see our sin on the Cross. I have to live in that thought every single day to see the significance of sin in my life whether hidden or openly entertained. It is only then that I will allow the Light of His Love to overtake the darkness there and lead me deeper into His Everlasting Love. To fully trust the Love of God and do things His Way is to believe that this world has nothing for me. So God, here I am to worship! Show me anything that offends you in my life today so I can nail it to the Cross and be faithful again.

Philippians 3:7-9 (NLT)

I once thought these things were valuable, but now I consider them worthless because of what Christ has done. Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ and become one with him. I no longer count on my own righteousness through obeying the law; rather, I become righteous through faith in Christ.[a]For God’s way of making us right with himself depends on faith.

Giving Up Weakness

Giving Up Weakness

Isaiah 53:4-6 (NLT)

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. All of us, like sheep, have strayed away. We have left God’s paths to follow our own. Yet the Lord laid on him the sins of us all.

Weakness is ownership of that which makes us weak. It is to take that quality or attribute holding tightly to it. Everyone experiences weakness. The difference comes in what we do with our weakness. Just being human, we possess the natural propensity to sin. It is in our DNA. From birth a person desires personal satisfaction and demands their own way. As the individual grows, develops and mature with proper discipline and guidance these qualities are subject to their own self-control. For example, my quietest child becomes a raging bear when she is hungry. She was almost the perfect baby and toddler as long as she was fed. But should she become hungry, watch out. I would keep snacks hidden away in her diaper bag as not to be caught off guard. She is now a teenager. She eats when she is hungry and still will hide away a snack in her backpack or purse so she doesn’t get “hangry”. The other day – we had a girl’s day with her sister. In the car, I noticed she was getting grumpy and being short. She couldn’t answer a question and got mad if you asked. I knew she was hungry and asked her, “Did you eat something this morning?” In our rush to leave, she admitted she did not. So to save our experience, I immediately fed the emerging beast and true to form it transformed back into my precious child.

Everyone has weakness. Some just hide it better than others. Whatever it is that makes us weak is an opportunity to experience more of Christ in our life. When Jesus went to the Cross, it was with our weaknesses. He carried them to the hill along with every sorrow that hurts our heart. He was tortured for us and every sin that we should have received punishment for to make a way for us to approach our Father, God again. He was beaten so that the sickness and disease associated with our sin would be dealt with as well and that we could be whole again. By His Stripes lashed into His Back, we are healed. I am humbled at the thought and sad that with all of His Sacrifice that I will never be perfect. I am weak. He makes me strong. I must learn to take every single weakness and allow His Grace to cover them. No more carrying that which makes me weak and calling it “my weakness” but surrendering everything that makes me weak to the foot of the Cross.

2 Corinthians 12:9-10 (NLT)

Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness. When I am weak, then I am strong. How humbling? Truly. Perfection does not need grace. Weakness needs a pardon. The Power of Christ will only work in me if I am insufficient otherwise why would I relinquish power? But once we accept Jesus Christ into our heart and His Spirit in our life, it is easy to become confused. Some of those things that once kept us from being right and doing right quickly melt away in the Presence of God and the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Human nature is to assume that a little goes a long way but God’s Way is all or nothing. The “good things” happening in our life are always God. If our entire life is recorded before we are born as the Word of God indicates, then none of it is our idea or doing. (Psalm 139:16) The only choice we have is to obey God or continue to disobey Him. Do what God says and have all His Blessings! End of story. Except we have this thing that makes us weak called sin. Everyone sins and falls short of God’s Glorious Standard of Living. (Romans 3:23) Grace is a requirement for all those times we allow that which makes us weak to become our weakness to be covered by His Blood and put back on Christ’s Shoulders and nailed to His Cross.

Comparison is our enemy as we evaluate our strengths and weaknesses through the eyes of man. We look at our friend, neighbor, fellow church member or even a common stranger and immediately judge the book by its cover. We decide how we are doing by comparing our life to their life. What about when they are not on display? What are they like then? Do you know? Can you see their heart – the very thing that God examines each and every day? We cannot but still feel that they are worthy of comparison as we evaluate our life for flaws. To have God’s Glory fill my life requires a comparison to His Standard of Living. Outside of God’s Grace provided by Jesus Christ – I will always fall short. I am weak. He makes me strong. Surrendering my weakness begins by comparing my life to God’s Word and deciding to strive to live like that. This is what it means to truly accept the Grace of God for our life. This openly sacrifices weakness for His Strength and Power. I will always be weak but I do not have to own it.

Hebrews 4:15-16 (NLT)

This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin. So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.

Our weakness should not keep us from the Presence of God but push us deeper into His Presence to find more grace. When we allow weakness and sin to keep us from drawing near to God is when we take ownership of our weakness and hold on to sin. It can be a pride thing. It can be a trust issue. There can be a number of reasons that people withhold weakness from God. The church of modern society doesn’t like to talk about the Cross or the Blood. It is messy. It makes them uncomfortable. Seeker sensitive congregations keep people from the Grace of God because it is only accessible at the Cross and through the Blood. It is not a feel-good story but a battle to the death. The Good News is that Jesus won. We can live in God’s Glorious Standard but there will always be only ONE WAY to get there.

Jesus is our High Priest. We do not need the help of anyone else to get through life. He is our example to follow and will show us how to do it. He did it – flawlessly. Through His Grace, we have access to the same power that kept the Lord from sinning or falling short during His Life on the earth. “Every high priest is a man chosen to represent other people in their dealings with God. He presents their gifts to God and offers sacrifices for their sins. And he is able to deal gently with ignorant and wayward people because he himself is subject to the same weaknesses.” (Hebrews 5:1-2)

 

Romans 8:26-27 (NLT)

 And the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. For example, we don’t know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words. And the Father who knows all hearts knows what the Spirit is saying, for the Spirit pleads for us believers in harmony with God’s own will.

 

The Lord has given us His Spirit to help us in our weaknesses. I love the Holy Spirit. I tried Christianity without an active relationship with the Trinity of God including His Spirit and failed miserably time and time again. When I made the Holy Spirit my partner and stopped ignoring His Presence, it all came together just like that. I still sin and make a lot of mistakes but He helps me through each one. To try to live for God without His Son and His Spirit is to not be fully equipped and let’s face it – we need all the help we can get. Love is cold. Sin is rampant. No one is going to condemn you for going with the flow but try to live for God and all hell breaks loose in life.

The Holy Spirit is a gentleman. It’s true. He will not wrestle with you to take your weakness and bless you but waits for you to decide you want His Help. He knows God’s Will for your life. He knows the Way to get there. He knows what the Word of God means and how it incorporates in you to express God’s Blessing through us. He knows what is stopping you. He knows what is hindering your progress. But until you want to know enough to give all your weaknesses to the Lord rather than hiding them or hoarding them – He waits.

2 Corinthians 13:4-5 (NLT)

Although he was crucified in weakness, he now lives by the power of God. We, too, are weak, just as Christ was, but when we deal with you we will be alive with him and will have God’s power. Examine yourselves to see if your faith is genuine. Test yourselves. Surely you know that Jesus Christ is among you; if not, you have failed the test of genuine faith.

 

Jesus was crucified in weakness. He was covered in our weaknesses that were nailed to the Cross with Him. He now lives by the Power of God. The grace that is offered by way of the Cross through the Blood of Jesus allows us to live by the Power of God, too. It is all about the grace. There is no do over. We all have sinned. Grace doesn’t make us strong in our own right but extends God’s Power to us. Weakness is not a trophy of the Cross but a sacrifice on it. When we say “His Grace is sufficient” and “when I am weak than I am strong” – it is never a personal strength but commitment of ever weakness to the Lord for His Power to take over. All things are permissible but not all things are beneficial. To live with one hand on the Cross submitting some of our life but have the other in the world with those things we just don’t want to give up is to live in mediocrity and compromise that will limit the Power of God in our life. We are all weak. But to live in weakness taking ownership of it is opposition to the Cross and refusal to accept the Power of His Grace. His Grace is enough for me. It is a faith decision that gives Jesus all of our weakness holding nothing back. There is no “I’ll do it myself” in faith or hope. It is totally reliant on the Grace that was enough for me. Each day I must examine my heart and life to see if my faith is genuine. Testing my attitude and actions for complete and total surrender to Christ. If I do, I will have all of God’s Power in my life just for giving up my weakness.

Psalm 136:23 (NLT) He remembered us in our weakness. His faithful love endures forever.   

Rolling Stone – A Devotion

Rolling Stone

Mark 16:3-4 (NLT)

On the way they were asking each other, “Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance to the tomb?” But as they arrived, they looked up and saw that the stone, which was very large, had already been rolled aside.

 

This may seem like an odd scripture for a devotion. Jesus was dead or so these ladies thought as they went to the tomb to properly burial the One who they had called Lord. Falling back into the confines of religion, they waited dutifully for the Sabbath to end and gathered the usual items to carry out their task. Walking to the tomb asking each other, who will roll away the stone from the entrance to the tomb? Just another day in the life of these ordinary people who had no idea they were about to witness the extraordinary. When they arrived, they were surprised to find that the stone (which was very large) had been rolled aside. When they dared enter, they were greeted by an angel who gave them the best news of their life – Jesus was alive. He was resurrected from the dead and He was alive. Jesus is alive.

As I have shared before I have found solace in my workout routine when stress keeps my mind from being firmly wrapped around Jesus Christ and my faith is threatened by fear. Sunday morning I woke up foul. There are probably many natural reasons that I was just not happy but none of them held much credibility when compared to the life that I am afforded by faith and confident hope in Christ. So I threw on some gym clothes and headed to out for a quick 30 minutes of cardio before heading to the House of God. It is my privilege to worship the Lord. On Sunday morning, the day chosen for corporate worship it is my job to come prepared to focus on the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. My pastor may be mandated with the task of preaching but I must be prepared to honor Jesus Christ in that place mind, soul and body. It is not enough to show up but I must be ready. Jamming earplugs in my ears, and climbing on the steps of an elliptical machine, I embarked on a journey to clear my head, free my mind and unlock my soul now laden with unnecessary burdens. It took a couple very anointed songs to break through the hardness of my heart. That is until the song, “Forever” came on by Kari Jobe. As she painted a very vivid picture of the Cross making it a personal place where Jesus died for me, she then carried me to the tomb. “The ground began to shake. The stone was rolled away. His Perfect Love could not be overcome.” I broke right there in a sweaty workout room with innocent bystanders all around as tears mixed with sweat. The Love of God can be a powerful force in our life if we let it. It’s true. I realized in that moment that there are times when the “ground begins to shake” and the “stone is ready to roll away” as God’s Love begins to resurrect, restore and renew things in my life that I stop it. My hands hold the stone firmly in place preventing His Resurrection Power from overtaking my life.

Matthew 27:50-54 (NLT)

Then Jesus shouted out again, and he released his spirit. At that moment the curtain in the sanctuary of the Temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. The earth shook, rocks split apart, and tombs opened. The bodies of many godly men and women who had died were raised from the dead. They left the cemetery after Jesus’ resurrection, went into the holy city of Jerusalem, and appeared to many people. The Roman officer and the other soldiers at the crucifixion were terrified by the earthquake and all that had happened. They said, “This man truly was the Son of God!”

Do you remember the day, hour or moment that God’s Love for you became real? Not the day that you realized that He loves you but the moment that it went from a notion to complete knowledge. I wish that I could be so holy as to admit that it was the day that I was saved at eleven years old when I walked down a church aisle, shook the hand of a waiting pastor, and prayed the sinner’s prayer. But I left that place wondering why something that promised to be so life-changing felt so ordinary. I fervently chased the Lord but never seemed to get that close all through adolescence and high school despite a fabulous youth group. Spent an entire summer in Africa looking for God’s Call and Purpose for my life – yet His Love still was not real. Rededicated my life after many years of wandering and countless mistakes, finally getting a glimpse of His Wonderful and Magnificent Grace. Still, knowing but not really comprehending the Cross or power released when the ground began to shake. But that small glimpse and taste of His Goodness was preparing me for the rough road ahead. I discovered the Power of God’s Love for my life when life as I knew it completely changed. When I came to the end of human strength, worldly knowledge and my heart broke into a million pieces, in my utter devastation I found the Power of His Love.

When Jesus died on the Cross, the disciples were devastated. They could not understand what when wrong. This is not how they thought things would be. Giving up their lives and livelihood to follow Christ led them to their worst nightmare. The religious rite of the day would not demand their blood as well. When Jesus shouted and released His Spirit, everything began to change as life was released once again. The curtain in the Temple separated mankind from their God was ripped from top to bottom. Access to the Throne of God was now made possible to all who believed once more. Graves were unlocked and the dead began to come to life walking around Jerusalem. Earthquakes rippled as the war on death was waged and Jesus emerged victoriously. It was in that moment that the soldiers who facilitated the death of an innocent man finally understood that this was the Son of God.

Matthew 15:16-19 (NLT)

Then he asked them, “But who do you say I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” Jesus replied, “You are blessed, Simon son of John, because my Father in heaven has revealed this to you. You did not learn this from any human being. Now I say to you that you are Peter (which means ‘rock’), and upon this rock I will build my church, and all the powers of hell will not conquer it. And I will give you the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven. Whatever you forbid on earth will be forbidden in heaven, and whatever you permit on earth will be permitted in heaven.”

“But who do you say that I am?” The disciples had already shared with Jesus who everyone else thought He was but Jesus didn’t care about all that at the moment. “Who do YOU say that I am?” Well Peter, of course, piped right up and declared that “You are the Messiah, the Son of the Living God.” Peter was told that he would be the “rock” on which Jesus would build His Church. I am sure that Peter was quite pleased with himself in that moment as the disciples commonly debated who was the greatest among them. Yep, it’s me! (He must of thought with his chest puffed out in pride.) That is until he sat by the fire trying to blend in with the crowd avoiding the same fate as Jesus Christ. He looked into his eyes as his third and final denial fell from his lips. All was slipping away what now. The next day at Calvary, Peter watched with the other followers of the Lord as His Beaten, Bloody Body was nailed to the Cross and lifted up as a spectacle and warning to all the other radical Christians. Can you imagine how Peter must have felt in that moment? Everything was falling apart, nothing was going as planned, and the Son of God was about to die. God help us. The Power of God’s Love will never fully being unlocked and unleashed in our life until we come to a working knowledge of Who He is. Jesus Christ is the Messiah, Son of the Living God who is alive and well in you! So if this is true, where is the wonder working power that is promised in the Blood of the Lamb?

Philippians 3:7-11 (NLT)

I once thought these things were valuable, but now I consider them worthless because of what Christ has done. Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ and become one with him. I no longer count on my own righteousness through obeying the law; rather, I become righteous through faith in Christ. For God’s way of making us right with himself depends on faith. I want to know Christ and experience the mighty power that raised him from the dead. I want to suffer with him, sharing in his death, so that one way or another I will experience the resurrection from the dead!

 

Everything else is worthless compared to the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus as my Savior and Lord. This is a bold statement made lightly day after day by believers who do not understand that Power of the Blood or the Potential of His Resurrection and its impact on our life. When the ground begins to shake – we try to hold on to our Will and keep everything in place when God is trying to unsettle us and dissatisfy us so we will let go of the past and grab hold of confident hope as our future. When everything seems to be falling apart, we grab all the pieces and slap it together because we fear that this is nothing more to life than what we see despite constantly professing to believe. We see Jesus on the Cross but cannot comprehend the Resurrection because we have not ever seen it up close and for real. The stones that cover all the dead promises, dreams and endeavors in your life is shaking and moving but we hold it firmly in place because we do not really know the Son of the Living God enough to fully trust His Amazing Love. It is the very thing that changes every detail of our life for His Good. It is that which perfects all that concerns me. Rather than blaming God for ignoring us which is evident in our complaining, complacency and dissatisfaction, and Jesus for abandoning us when He died on the Cross leaving a trail of Blood filled with Grace that we trample in and out of – perhaps if we would just let go and let God (not to sound too cliché) maybe things would be different if we released the Power that raised Jesus from the dead in our own life. It is a choice to have the Will of God by releasing our own ideals and objectives. It is a decision to follow Jesus Christ all the days of our life whether we feel like it or not. The day that I made this decision was the day that I lost all confidence in anything else and He became my only hope. It was the day that I surrendered my life to Jesus Christ because I could do nothing with it. When I turned to worship rather than worry and decided to praise rather than push, everything began to change. Some days I am better at this thing called faith than others. Hope is the one thing I rely on because everything else let me down. I must be one with Christ. Everything else is garbage. I can trust no one like my Lord. Now when the ground begins to shake, I immediately wonder what God is about to do. I rest on the Peace that passes understanding because I have witnessed signs, wonders and miracles in my life by simply letting go of the stone so it can roll away. I am no longer afraid of death or the grave. Open the doors of my life wide, because I want more of Him. I want to know Christ and the mighty power that raised Him from the dead. I have seen it bring our son back to life five times. I am hooked. Our life has been turned upside down, nothing will ever be the same, but I would not change the faith that I have found and hope discovered when the stone was rolled away and I became fully aware of God’s Love for me! Does it seem as though everything is changing? Is your heart broken? Can’t hold it together anymore? Life is not turning out as you expected? Lift up your tired hands and fall on those weak knees, let the stone roll away and get lost in His Love today. When we give up our will to fully accept God’s Will everything changes … for the better but it is through death of self that we find new life. God’s Love and Power will always overtake us. It is overwhelming and endless. It belongs to you – hidden behind the rolling stone.

Ephesians 3:17-20 (NLT)
Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God. Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.