Principle of Life

Principle of Life

Luke 24:5-7 (NLT)The women were terrified and bowed with their faces to the ground. Then the men asked, “Why are you looking among the dead for someone who is alive? He isn’t here! He is risen from the dead! Remember what he told you back in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be betrayed into the hands of sinful men and be crucified, and that he would rise again on the third day.”

Waking up to the smell of field peas cooking in the crock pot, I remember what today is. I need to get up as there are a few extra things to do before heading out to church. As I hesitate, my husband whispers in the dark as if not to chase it away, “Happy Easter!” I love this day. It has become my favorite of all days. A day to celebrate life and all the opportunities released the day it was clear that Jesus was no longer in the grave. He was alive. He is alive. The Living Christ lives in me. Works through me. Changes me. Challenges me. Pushes me. Presses me. Everyday strengthens me delivering mercy in the morning and more grace throughout the day. I am promised His Power because He is omnipotent. Death could not hold Him. The one thing that is feared the most by all humanity had absolutely no control over our Lord and Savior who is life.

People struggle with the concept of the Risen Christ. The Christ who exists on paper and in theory must be encountered to exist in us, impact our life and change us. It is one thing to say, “I believe in Jesus Christ” yet quite another to make this our principle of life. Ray Dalio, a hugely successful investor and founder of Bridgewater Associates who is one of the world’s largest hedge funds, said, “Principles are what allow you to live a life consistent with those values. Principles connect your values to your actions.” A principle is the fundamental truth from which all others are derived. An applied principle is to take that truth or belief and base all other attitudes and actions upon it. It is our accepted rule of conduct. Do you live like Jesus is alive? Do you truly believe that His Life influences your existence? Will today be the day that you do?

John 1:1-4, 14 (NLT) In the beginning the Word already existed. The Word was with God, and the Word was God. He existed in the beginning with God. God created everything through him, and nothing was created except through him. The Word gave life to everything that was created, and his life brought light to everyone.

So the Word became human and made his home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness. And we have seen his glory, the glory of the Father’s one and only Son.  

Jesus is the creative power behind every living thing. He is the Word of God which once released must do exactly what He promised it would do. It cannot return void. It is impossible. When God breathed life into Adam – Jesus was that one breath that perpetuated all life. Think about that for a moment. Jesus is life. He is the essence of life from God that enables us and empowers us to live up to the Glorious Standard set for us that people abandoned for sin. His Blood is the life giving power that washes us clean and allows us to apprehend such a life again. The Word of God wrapped himself in flesh to come demonstrate love for all people so that it would be vividly clear that God loves us and desires us above all things. Even with a Living Color Lord, they did not believe Him. Don’t beat yourself up. The men and women who walked with Jesus did not get it either.

The women were coming to the tomb that day to give Jesus a proper burial. They did not expect to find life but finalize His Death. They called Him the Messiah but did not believe it to be so. They expected to find Jesus trapped in a tomb, but that’s not at all what happened that day. Jesus was alive. They ran to tell the others and still no one really believed. The enemy had already begun to perpetuate lies and accusations. The body was stolen. He did not come back from the dead but was hidden by his followers. The enemy always tries to hide the truth with a lie.

John 10:9-10 (NLT) Yes, I am the gate. Those who come in through me will be saved. They will come and go freely and will find good pastures. The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.” (John 3:16-18) Jesus came to give us a rich and satisfying life. In the New King James Version, it is called an abundant life. For God so loved the world that He gave His Son so that whoever believes will have everlasting, eternal and forever life. Often this is projected forward and put into a futuristic setting. Jesus did not come to judge people. He did not come to condemn them, but that through Him that they would live. Live now. Live tomorrow. Life this life. Life forever. It is all about believing. It has nothing to do with one’s ability to change their life, make better choices or even do good things. It is all about what you believe and our ability to live that belief. The principle of life for the believer begins with the empty tomb and continues from that point throughout all eternity. If just for today, as we celebrate Easter and honor the Resurrection of Christ, we could for a moment inspect our life.

John 11:21-27 (NLT) “Lord,” Martha said to Jesus, “if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask.” Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” Martha answered, “I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.” 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.”

Lazarus was dead. Jesus appeared to be delayed and upon His Arrival everyone was in mourning. Martha met the Lord and said, “If you had been here, my brother would not have died.” Then she went on to say, “I know that even now Go will give you whatever you ask.” Martha was conflicted. Her heart and mind at odds. She said that she believed and oh how she wanted to believe but she struggled with disbelief just the same. Jesus told her, “I am the Resurrection and the Life.” He is saying the exact same thing to us today. The same Jesus that came barreling out of the tomb, visited many people, and ascended into Heaven is alive and well today. He is still the Resurrection and Life. The same person who called Lazarus to come up out of his grave and he did. This is the Jesus who lives in you and me today. We have the power to see dead dreams come to life and the Glory of God to fill our life. But just like Martha, we struggle to truly believe.

Romans 8:10-11 (NLT)  And Christ lives within you, so even though your body will die because of sin, the Spirit gives you life because you have been made right with God. The Spirit of God, who raised Jesus from the dead, lives in you. And just as God raised Christ Jesus from the dead, he will give life to your mortal bodies by this same Spirit living within you.

What if it is true? What is Jesus Christ really is alive in us? What if His Spirit is trying to give us new life every single day? What if grace really is enough to release God’s Power, His Resurrection and Life-Giving Power, to every single dead thing? What if it is my unwillingness or inability to believe that is holding the doors and windows of blessing shut? What if it is my stubborn foot standing over the seeds of faith attempting to produce good things and harvests in my life? What if my words are poisoning the good fruit that His Spirit is attempting to grow in me? What if I am aborting the birthing of my promises? What if it is me? Today changes everything!

I challenge you as the Lord challenges me today – if you are headed to church, just got home, running late or not doing anything at all but hunting some eggs with the kids and spending time with your family – look for Him today. Not the dead Savior hanging on a Cross, but the Powerful Lord who came alive with the keys to every locked door in your life, heart and mind. Jesus is alive and well. The Living Savior ready to break every chain, release your burden, heal your body and release every other forgotten benefit that marks the new life that He promised. His Promise still stands. God’s love for you cannot be taken or shaken from you. He loves you! He always loved you! He paid the highest price for you – not to make you a performer but a producer of His Love. Your dead dreams are only sleeping. Your potential is not lost just hidden in the soil of your heart. Once fertile, it will explode with life again. Every blessing and promise for your life is safe and sound. Your inheritance is secure. It is your heart that Jesus is after. Do you believe? It is impossible to please God without faith. Faith makes all things possible…we must only believe. Jesus is the principle of life. He is life. He gives life and power to those who love and trust Him. Apply this principle to your life and you will live in peaceful prosperity both now and forevermore. Living for Jesus Christ should be a satisfying life not filled with disappointment. Hope never leads to such a thing. If my life is less than I expected, then I need to let Christ increase in me. He promised to do more than I can think, imagine or even ask. This is the principle of life to be satisfied. To apply Jesus Christ who is alive and well in all areas of my life. Christ is the One who completes this process in us. He gives new life. We become new creations.

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.

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!

Dead Seed

dead-seed

Psalm 126:5-6 (NLT) Those who plant in tears will harvest with shouts of joy. They weep as they go to plant their seed, but they sing as they return with the harvest.

When the messengers of the Lord came to visit Abraham, he was an elderly man. Well past the years of successful producing the sons and daughters promised to him by the Lord. Abraham had faith in the Lord but he was also realistic. He knew his wife was well past her childbearing years as well. He even was so bold to joke with God. “Then Abraham bowed down to the ground, but he laughed to himself in disbelief. “How could I become a father at the age of 100?” he thought. “And how can Sarah have a baby when she is 99 years old?” Abraham even went so far as to give God an out. “May Ishmael live under your special blessing!”

How many times does this happen to us in life? God gives us a promise like a seed in our hand. We sow it by faith into our heart and wait for it. When the wait is too long and everything dies all around it – it is human nature to give up. Abraham was to be the father of many nations but all he had was an illegitimate son. A son born of compromise not trust. In Abraham’s desperation to achieve God’s Promise, He asked God to go back on His Word and change His Mind, His Plan. He might as well have said, “Your Kingdom come, my will be done in Heaven as it is on earth.”

Dead seeds still contain the full potential that God placed in them. There are some religious doctrines that teach of the Perfect Plan of God. This is true. It deviates from the truth when it implies that sin keeps us from every achieving it. God’s Perfect Plan includes the exact amount of grace needed for every dream to come to pass and our expectation to be fully met. Is there a promise in your life that you have given up on? A dead seed buried in the cold dark ground still yet to grow despite careful nurturing.

Genesis 18:9-14 (NLT) “Where is Sarah, your wife?” the visitors asked. “She’s inside the tent,” Abraham replied. Then one of them said, “I will return to you about this time next year, and your wife, Sarah, will have a son!” Sarah was listening to this conversation from the tent. Abraham and Sarah were both very old by this time, and Sarah was long past the age of having children. So she laughed silently to herself and said, “How could a worn-out woman like me enjoy such pleasure, especially when my master—my husband—is also so old?” Then the Lord said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh? Why did she say, ‘Can an old woman like me have a baby?’  Is anything too hard for the Lord? I will return about this time next year, and Sarah will have a son.”

I must be completely honest. If a messenger of the Lord told me that I would have a baby at 50 years of age, it would probably require a visit to the local behavioral health center. My children are almost grown. Three out of the nest, one will graduate next year and our baby almost in high school. I see the finish line in the distance. I cannot imagine a pregnancy at the age of 99. I don’t even really comprehend breathing at that time. Sarah laughed to herself. Her comments were valid. “How could a worn-out woman like me enjoy such pleasure…” The Lord’s Response is valid. “Is there anything too hard for the Lord?” If nothing is impossible for those who believe it seems that the missing element must be faith.

Hebrews 11:11-12 (NLT) It was by faith that even Sarah was able to have a child, though she was barren and was too old. She believed that God would keep his promise. And so a whole nation came from this one man who was as good as dead—a nation with so many people that, like the stars in the sky and the sand on the seashore, there is no way to count them.

Sarah did have a child when she was barren and too old. She believed that God would keep His Promise. Do you? What is that thing that you were once so confident would happen that is now a dead dream buried in a wasteland? What is the promise that you have given up on? The seed is not dead. It requires only one thing to grow into the Promise of God. It’s called faith. Faith is the resurrection power that brings dead things to life. One man who was as good as dead produced a nation with so many people that there is no way to count them. Imagine the potential of your seemingly dead but only dormant seed.

Hebrews 11:17-19 (NLT) It was by faith that Abraham offered Isaac as a sacrifice when God was testing him. Abraham, who had received God’s promises, was ready to sacrifice his only son, Isaac, even though God had told him, “Isaac is the son through whom your descendants will be counted.” Abraham reasoned that if Isaac died, God was able to bring him back to life again. And in a sense, Abraham did receive his son back from the dead.

Faith is acquired through sacrifice. The sacrificial seed is the hardest to press into the soil and leave in God’s Hands. For many years, I believed that I had faith in God. There were many instances when I tried a little faith here and there. It worked every time. But I was only offering God my faith in pieces. There is a real difference between seeds of sacrifice and seeds of offering. Offerings to God are what we choose to give. Sacrifice is to give Jesus Christ our all. I prayed for more faith. I sang all the worship songs about it. I prayed for it. I pursued it. Oh boy did I find it!

Our life was prospering in just about every way possible. The Favor of God evident in every tangible way and spiritually as well. I felt so blessed. I was thankful. We were obediently following Christ in every conceivable way. Life was good. When our son fell ill, I really didn’t think too much about it. He was a college student in the cesspool called university living. However, as he continued to have symptoms I became concerned. It was time to get in mom mode and get involved in his adult life, the medical team needed a little motivation. This would be the turning point of the “good life”. Within 24 hours, he was diagnosed with Stage III – IV cancer.

The night of his diagnosis, I locked myself in a filthy bathroom to go to war for my son. I charged into the Presence of God demanding an answer for such an intrusion and requested a cure. I spouted every word contrary to the attack on his body and reminded God of His Promises for us. I did everything I knew to do until I could barely whisper. God asked just one thing of me, “Do you trust me?” Of course, I did. Where had He been for the last decade of my life? Didn’t He recognize all the changes in our life? Didn’t He consider our commitment to Him? Didn’t He know that I loved Him? Why would He ask such a question? He whispered in that still small voice, “Lori, do you trust me?” “Yes Lord, I do!” He gave me a promise that night that “our son would live and not die.”

When God speaks – it is loud and clear. Through the test and trials of life, it is often human nature to entertain the other voices around us more than the still small voice inside of us. We get caught up in conversation and tangled in useless lies the enemy uses to call us from faith to doubt and disbelief. When the first course of treatment seemed to work, celebration broke out but was short-lived. By the third relapse, things took a turn. The doctors told us that he had entered the realm of hope. They were uncertain if they could cure our son with chemotherapy.

The cancer cells in his body were smart. When chemotherapy was introduced, they would go into a state of dormancy. As soon as chemo cleared his system, they would come raging back stronger and faster than ever before. The cancer formed when he contracted the Epstein-Barre virus but his immune system did not detect it. It formed a tumor. The tumor released cells into his system. These are not dumb cells but can decipher DNA. If one of my children has a virus and it spreads to another family member – such as a sibling – the symptoms and duration are generally worse because the virus picked up on the genetic code and improved its attack. Viruses mutate from carrier to carrier. With this in mind, with each dormancy, his cancer grew stronger as it was learning his DNA growing stronger and more resistant each time.

It was ultimately determined that our last chance would be a bone marrow transplant. This procedure is life threatening to a human who has never had chemotherapy. With each round received prior to transplant, it is more and more dangerous. When our son was finally approved for treatment, he had received five rounds of extensive chemotherapy. The clinical studies only showed a handful of people who survived the transplant. The choice was die from cancer or take the monumental risk of death by transplant to be one of the 2% who survived. I turned to Abraham. I had to put my son on the altar and trust the Lord to save Him. I would have been a fool not to consider the fact that God very well could have taken him, too.

This is when faith is evaluated on the most granular level. When there is nothing else to put our hope in but the Lord. When faith is the only solution offered to the test and trail before us. Faith is never accomplished standing on the dock waiting on the Lord, but when He says come jumping in over our head. I would have never offered my son or any one of my children or even my husband to the Lord willingly. I had to do it faithfully.

2 Corinthians 12:8-10 (NLT) Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away. 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.

The most important factor in sowing and reaping supernaturally is faith. I cannot force the Hand of God or break the Heart of God to bend or shape Him to my will. I must trust Him. I must shove that thing I want to hang on the most into the ground and wait for Him to do the rest. Faith relinquishes control of our life, body, mind, will and emotions to the Power of God to mold it and shape it according to His Plan. Trusting that He is good. His Word is true. His Love is constant. His Grace is sufficient. His Power complete. The price of that is the seed called self. I must plant myself in Jesus Christ. Pride forfeited and heart completely broken is when His Power works the best.

Romans 4:16-24 (NLT)  So the promise is received by faith. It is given as a free gift. And we are all certain to receive it, whether or not we live according to the law of Moses, if we have faith like Abraham’s. For Abraham is the father of all who believe. That is what the Scriptures mean when God told him, “I have made you the father of many nations.” This happened because Abraham believed in the God who brings the dead back to life and who creates new things out of nothing. Even when there was no reason for hope, Abraham kept hoping—believing that he would become the father of many nations. For God had said to him, “That’s how many descendants you will have!” And Abraham’s faith did not weaken, even though, at about 100 years of age, he figured his body was as good as dead—and so was Sarah’s womb. Abraham never wavered in believing God’s promise. In fact, his faith grew stronger, and in this he brought glory to God. He was fully convinced that God is able to do whatever he promises. And because of Abraham’s faith, God counted him as righteous. And when God counted him as righteous, it wasn’t just for Abraham’s benefit. It was recorded for our benefit, too, assuring us that God will also count us as righteous if we believe in him, the one who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead. 

Have you done everything you know to do to make your dream a reality? Have you tired just about everything to make God’s Promise a reality? Are you tired? Discouraged? Just about to give up? Your dream is not dead. It is dormant. It is waiting for you to introduce faith. God will take every seed entrusted to Him wrapped in faith and carried by confident trust to Him and make to grow into the Promise that He gave you. His Word says so. Abraham and Sarah testify to it. You cannot claim faith if you, your hands or ability have anything at all to do with it. Being right is not the same as righteousness. Nothing “I” do, good or bad, changes the productivity of the potential placed inside me by God. His Grace is enough. But until I realize that His Power works in weakness dreams will lie dormant and all hope seems lost. The moment I decide to entrust my life to Jesus Christ…all of it… and wrap every seed planted in my life in faith…God’s Work begins to produce the good things and great visions that He promised. How’s your faith today? If you think you can still do something to make your dream a reality, you’re not quite there yet? It is the realization that apart from Jesus I can do nothing that His Power is perfected in us. No seed is ever wasted. This is according to God’s Promise in Romans 8:28 that says He makes good of every detail of our life. Those missed opportunities are actually scheduled for the future when faith takes over. Those dead dreams are vivid reality when His Grace is enough. Nothing is wasting when faith becomes our foundation.

Romans 3:22 (NLT) We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are.

 

 

Is Jesus Alive?

Is Jesus Alive

2 Corinthians 5:17-20 (NIV)

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.

 

This morning many children will awaken to find baskets filled with chocolate bunnies and jelly beans. Before getting ready for church, they will hunt plastic eggs hidden around the house. There are even some who will marvel at little powder paw prints left by the mysterious rabbit. No different from Christmas and Santa Clause, parents continue the legend and myth to bless their children and fill their childhood with memories. I am not anti-fun. So please do not get me wrong, but I have always struggled with the idea of these two images with my children.

 

Several years ago, it was a rare occasion when my husband and I were along with our youngest child who at that time was around six or seven. It was a hot summer day and we had decided to take her to lunch spending some time with just her. Sitting in the backseat looking out the window in clear contemplation, she suddenly asked, “Mom, if I ask you a question will you tell me the truth.” I immediately assured her that I would. She then asked, “Mom, is Santa Claus real?” Silence. Now I know to some moms and dads this would be a devastating question, those who thrive on this age old tradition. My husband looked at me as if to say, “What now?” I said, “You know once you know the truth, you cannot ever go back to believing anything else, right?” “So he’s not real,” she countered. “No, he’s not.” Several long moments went by, “You know that Jesus is real right?” I asked her. See this has been my concern all along with the concepts of unreal figures making fiction factual. Harmless fun that might impact her ability to believe in the unseen. I know, I am weird about that. She immediately and confidently replied, “Of course, Jesus is real!” Relief flooded my heart and soul in that moment.

 

Today we celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. It is truly the greatest day in history even exceeding His Birth and Crucifixion because the moment He left the tomb – all things became possible to those who believe. I ask you today, “Is Jesus real? Do you believe that He is alive? Does He live in you?” These are important questions. Many people will set their alarms giving up their usual Sunday morning routine to go to church – one of only a few that they will ever attend. Some will even walk down to an altar and surrender their life to Christ for the first, second, third, fourth or a hundredth time. But without faith, confidence and certainty in the questions above, it will mean nothing. Truth can impact our life only if we believe.

 

What you believe impacts your life? No matter what it is, the nugget of truth we accept creates ripples in the mind like a stone cast onto a lake interrupting the surface and changing its movement. If anyone be in Christ, he is a new creation. A new life begins. A new person begins a process of molding and shaping into the Image of God through Jesus, His Son. New life. Resurrection life requires death of the man or woman who existed before because now our life operates under a new Truth. A new plan. A new identity. As we become reconciled to God, our life takes on new meaning and with that a new message comes forth. We become Ambassadors of Christ who is an authorized messenger and representative of the Living God. So in order to answer the question, “Is Christ alive?” Historically, yes. There is natural and scientific evidence that the tomb was empty. But where did He go? He released His Spirit to live inside of us. Now all things are possible to those who believe.

 

2 Corinthians 3:17-18 (NIV)

Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.

 

When the Spirit of the Living God, Jesus Christ makes a holy inhabitation of our life. It changes us from the inside out. Faith is the conduit of change. Faith is our confidence and trust in a person or thing that is not based on proof. Do you see my dilemma with the mythical images for our children? Where the Spirit of the Lord is there is freedom to live by three things that are constant: faith, hope and love. We have all three of these ideas in us as God has placed Eternity in our heart. Salvation in Spirit and Truth granted us by Jesus allows us to be transformed by His Glory within us to who we were created to be not who we have become. It makes the impossible possible for those who believe. What do you believe today?

 

Hebrews 6:4-7 (NIV)

It is impossible for those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, who have shared in the Holy Spirit, who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the coming age and who have fallen away, to be brought back to repentance. To their loss they are crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting him to public disgrace. Land that drinks in the rain often falling on it and that produces a crop useful to those for whom it is farmed receives the blessing of God.

 

I can remember landmark images of places and times that I know that God came close to me. When I was eleven years old and felt Him draw me to an altar. I mumbled a prayer with a pastor who honestly all that I can remember are not his words but that he had really bad breath. I remember screenshots of time when I would say or do something knowing it was not me but only later realizing it was the Holy Spirit working on my behalf. I remember giving my heart to Jesus as a teenager and trying really hard to live a godly life just like our youth pastor told us to. I tried to do everything he said so that I could have a right relationship with God. This religious worship held me until my early twenties and then back in the wilderness I wandered. Like got really messy and the message of God’s Perfect, Strict Plan now was barred by the flawed and errant person I had become. I missed it. I could never had that kind of right relationship and must settle for the crumbs of repentance left behind by the perfect. Wrong again. When I met my husband, we both had drifted far but when we met something changed. Though difficult to discern, there was a desire for the Lord deep within us that quickly connected making us inseparable so we married within about six months. We began pursuing the Lord from that moment on. I remember the night that it all came together laying before the Lord at the Altar. There would be no turning back. Would I sin again? Yes. Would I fail at faith again? Yes, miserably. Did God still want me? Absolutely. Is Jesus alive? Yes, He met me right there and I was filled with His Spirit and Life-Giving Power that moment. Things have never been the same. They will never be the same.

 

See once you are “enlightened” and the Light of God’s Love fills you, you can’t go back. I cannot explain it but even in our wanderings – He is there. He never leaves us or forsakes us even when we do not want Him. As many head to church today, the empty tomb is still barren and Jesus stands in all His Glory before us. He says, “Can I come in?” He is wondering if today will be the day that you will allow Him to come in and renew you. He wants to restore you today. He wants to bring dead things to life. He wants to make every impossible thing possible. We must only believe that God has raised Him from the dead and invite Him into our life. Is Jesus alive? Yes. Does He live in you? I have no idea. I know only that He lives in me.

 

John 14:10-12 (NIV)

Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you I do not speak on my own authority. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work. Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the works themselves. Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.

 

Our little girl, the baby in our family, thrives on truth. She cannot operate without it. She googles everything she does not know in an attempt to end her ignorance. It is really difficult to get one by on her. She requires brutal honesty. She loves Jesus. I know she does because of her innate nature that desires truth in all things. As we celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus, I am compelled to examine my own heart and mind for faith. Jesus told His disciples that “whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even great things than these.” If my life is not a complete spectacle of God’s Works including signs, miracles, wonders, unnatural grace and ridiculous love – there is more room for Christ in my heart today. Apart from Christ I can do nothing so the barren areas represent room to grow. (John 15:4-5) The Holy Spirit produces spiritual fruit that should be evidence in my life that Christ dwells in me. (Galatians 5:22-25) I should walk in step with God’s Spirit. I cannot base the fullness of Christ in me on the religious condition of my life. Traditions can make us do all the right things and still miss the mark. Anything I can do does not require faith, therefore it is manmade. The Word of God is often twisting just as the message in the childhood game called “Telephone” as people take the Word and put a softer more gentle spin on it to accommodate the compromises and sin in their own life which others adopt as the doctrine for their life. Do you see the problem? (I John 4:1-3)

 

The Fruit of God’s Spirit in our life can only be produced by His Spirit. Without the Truth of God’s Word planted deeply in a heart filled by His Spirit it will produce nothing of worth just weeds. God searches our heart looking for His Spirit. (Jeremiah 17:10) He allows us to know the contents in our words and deeds. (Luke 6:45) What is our message? It must be no less than to confess with our mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in our heart. (Romans 10:9) This is salvation. This is the beginning of life. This is evidence that Christ is alive in us.

 

2 Corinthians 13:4-6 (NIV)

For to be sure, he was crucified in weakness, yet he lives by God’s power. Likewise, we are weak in him, yet by God’s power we will live with him in our dealing with you. Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you—unless, of course, you fail the test? And I trust that you will discover that we have not failed the test.

 

To reconcile our life to Jesus today requires that I compare the evidence in my life, heart and mind to God’s Truth and yield to His Spirit for confirmation. Faith is the evidence that I believe. Once we discover the Light of God’s Love and experience His Grace in person, there is no going back. Not because He grabs us violently but because He holds us so tenderly. His Love makes us want to love Him back when we allow the Lord to enter an intimate relationship with us. He will not force His Love on us for that would not be love at all. His Spirit sets us free from sin and begins to produce those things in us that God desires. The fruit that He longs to consume. Jesus wants to reveal Himself to us. He longs to let His Love change us from the inside out. He went to the Cross thinking only of us and came out of the tomb pursuing us. His Love drives Him to possess us. By faith we discover this love, in that moment every impossible thing becomes possible. Imagine. I have been married for many years. God blessed us in our partnership. My husband instills in me things that apart from him I would never have discovered about myself. He builds my confidence. He has taught me to trust. If that much can come from an imperfect relationship, imagine entering into a relationship with a perfect Lover who teaches us to love perfectly, too. The Lord longs to set you free today. He doesn’t want to change the way you act just what you believe. In doing so, an impossible life becomes one filled with miracles, signs, wonders, fulfillment and completion. Is Jesus alive? Yes. You will determine if He lives in you!

I choose today and every day to let Him live in me. Even today, I ask the Lord to examine me and see if there is any more room to bring the dead to life.

 

Psalm26:2-3 (NIV)

Test me, Lord, and try me, examine my heart and my mind; for I have always been mindful of your unfailing love and have lived in reliance on your faithfulness.

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.

Stones

Stoned

Psalm 118:21-25 (NIV)

I will give you thanks, for you answered me; you have become my salvation. The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; the Lord has done this, and it is marvelous in our eyes. The Lord has done it this very day; let us rejoice today and be glad. Lord, save us! Lord, grant us success!

I love Easter. It is my favorite of all holidays. Spring is a time of renewal and revitalization after a long winter. Things died off in fall and were buried in the cold, but now the newness of life returns to the planet we call home. Churches will be filled this Sunday with many people who have no real idea of Easter’s potential just that mom and grandma are preparing a feast and the kids really want to hunt eggs from a fabled rabbit. This is not about the pagan aspects of Easter. Let’s step over the concept in our mind and back in time. Way back in time. Easter is about Jesus, our Risen Lord and Soon Coming King. Celebration of the empty tomb is significant because it was the moment every impossible thing in our life became completely possible. The doorway to Eternity and forever was opened and the Keys of the Kingdom put into our hands. The death sentence removed from our life freed us from all captivity. By faith, every situation, circumstance, problem and trouble now can be worked out for our good according to the Father’s Plan. All of this was achieved when the stone rolled away and Jesus emerged victorious.

 

Slow done. I have to slow down. I want to run with the ladies headed back from the tomb to tell the others. Those who are caught up in busyness. The ones who have forgotten that they are free. Those who have missed out on mercy for today. Driving to Gainesville one day, I was thinking and praying at the same time. You ever do that? It starts out as a prayer, then you get lost in your thoughts for a moment, then back into prayer again. Our mind and spirit must agree so sometimes it has to discuss a few things I guess. At any rate, I was wondering why I was so confident that our son would live through his battle with cancer. Every time my hope grew tired and faith a little weak, something inside me would surge and I was reminded again of God’s Word for his life. The enemy longs for us to feel unworthy of God’s Promises so we will abandon faith and miss out on God’s Blessing. With this thought in mind, I was really contemplating the “why” of it all when the song, “Forever” came on the radio. I turned it up. The verse that changed my wandering and wonderful to full assurance was this: “The ground began to shake. The stone was rolled away. His Perfect Love could not be overcome. Now death where is your sting? Our Resurrected King has rendered you defeated.” Everything changed in that moment when Jesus emerged victorious. His Love proved to be the most powerful force in the universe on that day and it reverberates through the pages of history right up to today to fulfillment in forever.

We have victory over all things in Jesus Christ. The moment that He becomes our Savior and Lord, we have access to His Authority and Power in the world including death and the grave. It cannot hold us. The enemy cannot stop us. So why are there so many Christians who live in defeat, disappointment and dissatisfaction each day? Where are the believers who are followed by miracles, signs and wonders? What happened to God’s Power and Authority released to all mankind when Jesus emerged from the tomb that day? It is stoned and walled in by doubt and fear. The lie of the enemy holds many captive. Jesus is the Resurrection and Life yesterday, today and forever. It is time to roll the stones away from dead dreams and find lost vision again. To dare to do the impossible which is totally possible in all things pertaining to faith and godliness. If God said, it you can do it. Have it. Live in it. See it come to pass. You just have to believe.

Daniel 6:16-17 (NIV)

So the king gave the order, and they brought Daniel and threw him into the lions’ den. The king said to Daniel, “May your God, whom you serve continually, rescue you!” A stone was brought and placed over the mouth of the den, and the king sealed it with his own signet ring and with the rings of his nobles, so that Daniel’s situation might not be changed.

Let’s look at some impossible situations. Daniel was a man of God who believed to the point of living it even when it created uncomfortable situations, persecution living in view of imminent death. He was there when the three Hebrew men were thrown in the fiery furnace, they were his friends. He had been in prison and forgotten by others. Much betrayal and treachery landed him in a den or cave of hungry lions. As if that were not enough, they placed a stone over the mouth of the den and it was sealed by the king warning others not to tamper with it. This was done so that Daniel’s situation could not be humanly changed.

Daniel 6:19-23 (NIV)

At the first light of dawn, the king got up and hurried to the lions’ den. When he came near the den, he called to Daniel in an anguished voice, “Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God, whom you serve continually, been able to rescue you from the lions?” Daniel answered, “May the king live forever! My God sent his angel, and he shut the mouths of the lions. They have not hurt me, because I was found innocent in his sight. Nor have I ever done any wrong before you, Your Majesty.” The king was overjoyed and gave orders to lift Daniel out of the den. And when Daniel was lifted from the den, no wound was found on him, because he had trusted in his God.

The king rushed to the lions’ den the next morning. Why? It says in the verses just before this one that he was unsettled and could not sleep the night before no matter what he tried to distract him. He wanted to know. He had to see for himself. Daniel’s faith saved him. He believed in the Lord and overcame death in that moment. When he emerged, the Light of God’s Love surrounded him and others who witnessed it were changed. See God doesn’t always change our situation or circumstances but we do not have to be held captive by it or changed in it. The faithfulness of Daniel sparked a revival culminated in the king’s decree that “every part of my kingdom people must fear and reverence the God of Daniel.”

John 11:38-44 (NIV)

Jesus, once more deeply moved, came to the tomb. It was a cave with a stone laid across the entrance. “Take away the stone,” he said. “But, Lord,” said Martha, the sister of the dead man, “by this time there is a bad odor, for he has been there four days.” Then Jesus said, “Did I not tell you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?” So they took away the stone. Then Jesus looked up and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent me.” When he had said this, Jesus called in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” 44 The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face. Jesus said to them, “Take off the grave clothes and let him go.”

Lazarus was dead. One of Jesus’ closest friends had passed. He was not only deceased but good and dead as he laid in the grave for three long hot days. When the messenger delivered the news that his friend was sick, the Lord declared, “This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.” God’s Word for one man’s life is declared but who will take hold of it. Before Jesus made it back to his home, the man had died. Martha met Jesus with her version of the truth. Quite simply, if you had been here then Lazarus would not have died. She then gave the Lord a solicitous “bless your heart” as we say in the south with her words. “But I know that even now God will do whatever you ask.” Jesus tested her faith, “Your brother will rise again.” Her response, “I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.” She did not fully believe… but she would. Jesus said to Martha, “I am the resurrection and life.” Do you believe that He is? Not Martha or her sister, Mary, but you. Do you believe that Jesus can bring dead things including people back to life…TODAY?

Jesus called Lazarus from the grave that day. The sisters received their brother here and now not after His Return. This is vitally important to those of us who tend to hide in caves covering the entrance with stones of our own. Our hearts become hard to the truth that resurrection life is a “now” concept and not a futuristic approach. When Jesus rose again, all of the Power and Authority that He had would come to live in those who trust and believe in His Great Name. We have to live in the full truth of resurrection power today and not wait for forever. Jesus handed us the Keys to His Kingdom ahead of time. We are to pray “Your Kingdom come, Your Will be done on earth as it is in Heaven.” Do not allow temporary circumstances dictate the outcomes in your life. Jesus brings dead things back to life. He gives parents their children back. He gives sisters to brothers and brothers to sisters. He can make all things new if we believe. Do you believe today? As we celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, it is fully embraced by one’s decision to live in the Authority and Power given on that day rather than cowering in caves covered by worthless rocks cast at us by the enemy of our soul.

Matthew 27:57-66 (NIV)

As evening approached, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who had himself become a disciple of Jesus. Going to Pilate, he asked for Jesus’ body, and Pilate ordered that it be given to him. Joseph took the body, wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, and placed it in his own new tomb that he had cut out of the rock. He rolled a big stone in front of the entrance to the tomb and went away. Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were sitting there opposite the tomb. The next day, the one after Preparation Day, the chief priests and the Pharisees went to Pilate. “Sir,” they said, “we remember that while he was still alive that deceiver said, ‘After three days I will rise again.’ So give the order for the tomb to be made secure until the third day. Otherwise, his disciples may come and steal the body and tell the people that he has been raised from the dead. This last deception will be worse than the first.” “Take a guard,” Pilate answered. “Go, make the tomb as secure as you know how.” So they went and made the tomb secure by putting a seal on the stone and posting the guard.

Jesus was dead. Joseph of Arimathea asked for the Lord’s body and prepared a proper burial. He placed Jesus in the tomb. He rolled a big stone in front of the entrance and left the Lord there. This was not enough for the Pharisees. They asked the king to seal the tomb so the disciples dare not steal the body of Jesus. Sound familiar? Not only did Pilate seal the tomb but posted a guard to watch over it. It is as if mankind backed by principalities and darkness dared Jesus to rise again. They were intend on Jesus staying dead. But that’s not how the story goes…

Matthew 28:1-10 (NIV)

After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb. There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow. The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men. The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples: ‘He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.’ Now I have told you.” So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples. Suddenly Jesus met them. “Greetings,” he said. They came to him, clasped his feet and worshiped him. Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid. Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.”

Despite all this, Jesus still came back for us. He overcame death and the grave emerging victoriously. No one rolled the stone against gravity from its resting place, the Hand of God rolled it back to reveal His Son Glorified. Jesus had won. The battle was over. Every captive freed. Every curse broken. Every disease healed and death finally averted. I cannot imagine how happy, relieved and overjoyed the men and women who followed Jesus must have been on that day. They saw the torture that Jesus endured before He was nailed to a roughhewn Cross high on that hill. They watched as others mocked Him and even turning on them. Helplessly and silently they endured heartache and despair as they watched the Lord take His Last Breath as a man. With all this on their mind, imagine how wonderfully sensationally and overwhelming it must have been when they saw that despite all of this – Jesus was alive.

Jesus is alive. He did not leave us empty handed. We have the Keys to His Kingdom. Eternity in our hearts. Filled with His Spirit. We have the same power in us that brought Jesus from the grave. Why are we not using it? We are hidden in caves covered by stones because somehow we have forgotten that we win. No matter what the weapon is – we win. We are victorious overcomers in Jesus Christ. There is no reason to give up or surrender to any adversarial opposition that comes against us. We win. We just need to stand firm in our faith and we will be victorious.

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.

In honor of Jesus on this coming Resurrection Day, I am challenged to remember and respond to the Truth that I have the same power “as the mighty strength (God) exerted when He raised Christ from the dead and seated Him at His Right Hand in the Heavenly Realms.” The same power that is “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.” God has placed all things under the Authority and Power of Jesus Christ. By choosing to believe, I can walk in this same power every single day of my life. It is to choose life. To believe that all things are possible because Jesus is alive. The Fullness of Christ belongs to you today. It doesn’t matter what man says about you. It doesn’t matter what people do to you. It doesn’t even matter if your fate is sealed by circumstances. There is no greater power over us than Jesus Christ. We can live from glory to glory when we live to Glorify His Son. We do so by living a life of faithfulness to God fully surrendered and submitted to Jesus Christ. It is the very place that Jesus’ Authority and Power is instilled in us so that we can walk in victory. Dead dreams come to life. We will see visions of the secret, hidden and deep things of God due to the power and potential of faith coming to life inside of us. Resurrection Sunday is coming. Will you let the Lord roll away the stones holding you back from fulfillment in Christ? Will you step out into the Light of His Love? Will you be victorious? Jesus did His Part. The rest is up to you and me!

Philippians 3:8-12 (NIV)

What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith. 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.

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.

 

Lovesick – A Devotion

Song of Solomon 5:5-8 (NKJV)

I arose to open for my beloved and my hands dripped with myrrh, my fingers with liquid myrrh on the handles of the lock. I opened for my beloved, but my beloved had turned away and was gone. My heart leaped up when he spoke. I sought him, but I could not find him; I called him, but he gave me no answer. The watchmen who went about the city found me. They struck me, they wounded me; the keepers of the walls took my veil away from me. I charge you, O daughters of Jerusalem, if you find my beloved that you tell him I am lovesick!

 

It was a dark day for the disciples and the followers of Jesus Christ. They were lovesick. Hiding all around the city, unsure of what to do next, reeling in the fact that He was gone. Jesus Christ stripped of His Life and Dignity. The grieved is quick departure. All that was left now was a dead man in a borrowed tomb. How would they continue without Jesus? How could they when hope was gone? Weak with love they were empty shells wandering if grief while wondering if they would ever experience such love and compassion again. These men and women had committed their lives to this Man. Unwelcome in their own religion anymore, many leaving their families and friends to follow the Messiah while closing their businesses just to be with their Beloved, there was nothing to go back to. The Kingdom of God was to be theirs but all that had changed. Jesus was gone. If only they could sit with Him one more time. They needed His Wisdom now more than ever. Just to touch the hem of His Garment as Jesus ministered to others would have fulfilled their desire, but nothing. To feel His Love surround them once more would surely be enough. Jesus, where are you? The women went to the tomb to see Jesus on the third day. The governmental seal would be removed and they could properly prepare His Body for final interment. Truthfully, they probably just wanted to be near Him one more time. They loved Jesus with more than their words. They loved the Messiah with their life. Just to serve their Master even in death seemed the right thing to do although it defied custom and had the potential to cost them their life as the Jewish leaders tried to end this nonsense. They could not help but go. They were lovesick.

Luke 24:1-11 (NKJV)

Now on the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they, and certain other women with them came to the tomb bringing the spices which they had prepared. But they found the stone rolled away from the tomb. Then they went in and did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. And it happened, as they were greatlyperplexed about this that behold, two men stood by them in shining garments. Then, as they were afraid and bowed their faces to the earth, they said to them, “Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but is risen! Remember how He spoke to you when He was still in Galilee saying, ‘The Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again.’” And they remembered His words. Then they returned from the tomb and told all these things to the eleven and to all the rest. It was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the other women with them, who told these things to the apostles. And their words seemed to them like idle tales, and they did not believe them. But Peter arose and ran to the tomb; and stooping down, he saw the linen cloths lyingby themselves; and he departed, marveling to himself at what had happened.

 

Can you imagine the hope that flooded these women as they ran to tell the disciples that Jesus was alive? He is alive. Breath again, the Savior is not dead. He is alive and more powerful than ever before. Faith was illuminated once more as the women shared the events at the tomb that day. But of all the disciples and those who loved Jesus, it is Peter who demonstrates the impetuous nature of one who is truly lovesick. When he heard this account, preserving his own life and hiding from those whose intent was to kill him also seemed unimportant. He had to find Jesus. Peter could not wait another second. He was lovesick. The desperation of the Shulamite woman seems appropriate as we think of the resurrection of hope in the life of Jesus Christ. The handles of the lock were liquid myrrh. Myrrh is a burial spice. Ironic or not, it is the very thing that separates us from our Beloved. Sin is our death sentence. Our Beloved, Jesus Christ, could not bear eternal separation from those He loves so He paid the price so that we may live together forever. Jesus is lovesick for you.  The Shulamite woman put her life on the line to find her Beloved. She was abused in her efforts yet still she pursued him. How sad that our love for Jesus Christ has become comfortable rather than desperate. The passion has left as our desire to please our lover or even pursue him for that matter has changed. Now we pursue every other passion in our life while occasionally entertaining our belief. What if the disciples had decided at the death of the Messiah, “Ok, show’s over, we need to move along”? The ramifications on our life would have been devastating. Had they not shared their passion for Jesus Christ, we may all remain separated from God by death. However, this was not the case. They were weak when Jesus departed. Their hearts ached in disbelief. Faith made them sure of who He was and now He had evidenced it once more. Jesus was alive. Their Love had returned.

John 21:5-7 (NKJV)

 Then Jesus said to them, “Children, have you any food?” They answered Him, “No.” And He said to them, “Cast the net on the right side of the boat, and you will find some.” So they cast, and now they were not able to draw it in because of the multitude of fish. Therefore that disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” Now when Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on his outer garment (for he had removed it), and plunged into the sea.

 

Peter did not ask Jesus to allow him to run on the water when he saw him on the beach after His Resurrection. Peter wasn’t thinking about signs and wonders. He didn’t care about miracles or great orations in that very moment. His love for Jesus Christ caused him to plunge into the sea. The same dangerous waters that had almost taken his life in the midst of many storms, but nothing mattered to his lovesick heart but to get to where Jesus was fast. Are you lovesick today? Do you miss having Jesus in your life? Are you desperate in desire for your Beloved? He is desperately lovesick for you. As we celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus, it is the perfect time to find your Beloved once more. He has been waiting for you to release your death grip on life and grab hold of Him. Jesus longs for His Kingdom to be yours. He went to prepare this place. There is no better time than the present to open your eyes to the Love of God through Jesus Christ and enter a lifelong love affair with the Bridegroom. Maybe you once were in love with Jesus but life has tainted your relationship. Your passion is gone. Jesus holds no grudges. His Grace and Mercy will not allow it. Run to Him even if it costs you the carefully constructed life that you reside in and fall in love with Him all over again. He is risen! Jesus is alive! What are you waiting for plunge into the depths of His Presence, open the door to your heart and be lovesick for Jesus!

Sealed – A Devotion

Matthew 27:62-66 (NLT)

The next day, on the Sabbath, the leading priests and Pharisees went to see Pilate. They told him, “Sir, we remember what that deceiver once said while he was still alive: ‘After three days I will rise from the dead.’ So we request that you seal the tomb until the third day. This will prevent his disciples from coming and stealing his body and then telling everyone he was raised from the dead! If that happens, we’ll be worse off than we were at first.” Pilate replied, “Take guards and secure it the best you can.” So they sealed the tomb and posted guards to protect it.

 

In the observance of Passion Week, the somber truth of man’s fate is abundantly clear when one considers the price that had to be paid for his redemption. An innocent man had to give His All to pay the price of rampant sin in the heart of mankind. He did. As we consider the events of that week so very long ago, one can only imagine the thoughts of the disciples of Jesus after His Crucifixion and Burial. Oh the fear that must have filled their hearts as they considered the possibility that all they had believed was a lie. After all, their hope was now buried in a borrowed tomb sealed by the government as a reminder of a sealed fate. Could it all have been a hoax? There are many times when our hope is buried and sealed by the scoffing world as believers attempt to live by faith and experience a supernatural life in the midst of a dying planet and deteriorating society. Maybe you are feeling as though your walk of faith has been a useless journey? Please do not give up. Resurrection day is coming. It will be the day when your hope is fulfilled. Faith will be renewed. Your dream will be restored. Just hang on a little while longer, Jesus is coming back.

Song of Solomon 8:6-7 (NLT)

Place me like a seal over your heart, like a seal on your arm. For love is as strong as death, its jealousy as enduring as the grave. Love flashes like fire, the brightest kind of flame. Many waters cannot quench love nor can rivers drown it. If a man tried to buy love with all his wealth his offer would be utterly scorned.

Jesus was not asleep in the tomb which surely after all that He had endured would have been warranted. Under the guise of death, our Lord conquered the power of sin over our heart and preparing it for His Arrival. Isn’t it just like the Lord to act in a way that is opposite man’s way? People view death as the end but God sees it as the beginning. Our fate was sealed but hope was on the way. Victory was being secured. While the world reeled at the thought of a dead Jesus, He was very much alive and sealing our new fate as a Child of God. Hope was alive. The covering mankind needed to bandage the gaping hole of sin was now available. “Place me like a seal over your heart.” The Love of God was now available to man despite his terminal sinful condition. Broken, bleeding, devastated hearts could now be sealed with the Love of God. Have you placed the Lord as a seal over your heart? His Love is Passionate for you. He has experienced death on your behalf. Jesus is the Lover of your Soul. Will you accept His Love today and place it as a seal over your heart? He promises to be an attentive, passionate lover. No other love will satisfy you like the Love of Jesus as it binds up your broken heart and heals your soul!

2 Corinthians 1:20-21 (NIV)

For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ. And so through him the “Amen” is spoken by us to the glory of God. Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.

 

Jesus could not just leave you with His Word although it is really all that you need to experience the fullness of God. The Lord had to remain with His People. His Love could not be separated physically or spiritually, so His Spirit has been given to us as evidence of His Return. The Holy Spirit is a part of God. Upon the Return of Jesus Christ, the Trinity will be reunited. A piece of Divinity resides in the hearts of those who are sealed by His Promise. His Spirit is evidence of the ownership of God. Not only is it a guarantee of His Return, but the Word of God says that it makes the promises of God “Yes” and “Amen” for those who have accepted His Promises who are sealed by His Spirit. There is power in the anointing of God that seals His Ownership of His People. It empowers you to stand firm in faith because of His Presence in your life. Do not underestimate the power of God’s Spirit in your life whether you practice the spiritual gifts associated with His Spirit in action or not? We need the Spirit of God. He cannot be separated by from the Divinity of God by church doctrine without breaking our covenant seal with God. God is all or nothing! Father, Son and Spirit are a requirement to experience the fullness of God and His Glory. Sealed by His Love and Promises what more could there be for those who love God?

Revelation 5:8-10 (NLT)

And when he took the scroll, the four living beings and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb. Each one had a harp, and they held gold bowls filled with incense, which are the prayers of God’s people. And they sang a new song with these words: “You are worthy to take the scroll and break its seals and open it. For you were slaughtered, and your blood has ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation. And you have caused them to become a Kingdom of priests for our God. And they will reign on the earth.”

What is the purpose of a guarantee that cannot be redeemed? Salvation is a promise of a new destiny. Death averted and life fulfilled. But there must be redemption to make it all worthwhile. The gift card craze that swept our country a few years ago is a perfect example. Retailers love gift cards because they are often lost or never used resulting in tremendous profit. Some expire before its owner makes it in the store to exchange it for goods and services making it free money to the business. What good is our salvation if there is no Eternity? Great news there is a Heaven and Forever with Jesus Christ! You are sealed for just such an occasion. Our fate was sealed when Jesus died and was placed in a carved out grave. Man sealed the door to the tomb to ensure that nothing would change the world’s perception of a dead prophet. But the Lord had other plans and went straight to work. He prepared a seal for the heart of His People to once again bond them with God. Jesus sealed every single promise of the Father for His Wayward Ones and they would now become a reality. The Lord has sealed a wonderful destiny for those who will step out in faith, accept His amazing offer of a brand new life, and place it as a seal over his/her heart. As we celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus Christ this week, what better time to renew the seals of God provided by Jesus Christ just for you? Let God’s Love be your covering. Let His Promises be your promises. Celebrate Jesus this week and let it spill over into your entire life. Be sealed!

Overnight Sensation

John 20:25-27 (NLT)
They told him, “We have seen the Lord!” But he replied, “I won’t believe it unless I see the nail wounds in his hands, put my fingers into them, and place my hand into the wound in his side.” Eight days later the disciples were together again, and this time Thomas was with them. The doors were locked; but suddenly, as before, Jesus was standing among them. “Peace be with you,” he said. Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and look at my hands. Put your hand into the wound in my side. Don’t be faithless any longer. Believe!”

Overnight sensations occur every day. A person walks in absolute obscurity and life changes in a moment because they were in the right place at the right time or a small city exists unnoticed by the world and due to some random act its name is suddenly in lights. The leap from unknown to a household word seems but a step and often the events really are not that notable they just have caught the eye of someone who believed in them and saw their potential. The years behind the waiting to be found seem endless to those who long for their dream to become reality. Whether it comes to pass exactly the way they intended or only brings the coveted fifteen minutes of fame is not relative, it is just that they were known. The journey is not about fame and fortune, it is about life validation. Leaving an indelible mark in the world and to know that one’s existence was noted in history. The benefits are just a bonus. However, seldom is an overnight sensation an instant success. The road to this moment is lined with many challenges and even more failures. It is inevitable. But when the moment of suddenly arrives, it is totally worth the wait. The hurt, disappointment and longing disappear for total confidence. Superstars usually have incredible stories of perseverance and tenacity as they struggle to become overnight sensations.  

Do you struggle within your trails and situations to continue to pursue Jesus Christ and His Plan in the midst of great defeat? Does your dream seem elusive and just when it seems close is seemingly ripped from your reality? Everyone encounters these struggles. Yet when it is us, the isolation is profound and the encounter is real. Thomas loved Jesus Christ just like the other disciples. He was devastated when His Master was brutally beaten and crucified that day. Each nail left a mark in Thomas’ faith as an invisible hammer struck his heart. When he could barely comprehend all that he was watching, Thomas felt his faith evaporating. All hope escaped in the moment Jesus’ last breath exited His Body. Many of us have been exactly where Thomas was that day. Our dream was dying before our very eyes. Adding insult to injury, now all of his friends proclaimed that they had seen Jesus alive and well. How cruel could they be thought Thomas? Couldn’t they see he was mourning the loss of his friend and his dream? He had locked himself away for eight days grieving in fear. “Suddenly, Jesus was standing among them.” Jesus was about to make Thomas an overnight sensation. His faith would be resurrected that night just as Jesus had been just over a week before. Hope came to life in that room as Thomas touched the wounds that he assumed had killed his dreams and realized that all was not lost but it was the beginning of a wonderful future. Why is it so often with the Lord, we never see Him coming? Our “suddenlies” really are not so sudden. God is not surprised for He carefully placed them throughout the intricate design of life. Like a defibrillator to a heart that has chosen not to beat, suddenly will resurrect faith and produce hope that will allow our hearts to beat in line with our Savior and create overnight sensations known as miracles, signs and wonders in life that no one expected not even us! God’s purpose is to increase our faith and cause us to put all of our faith in trust in Him! He is calling us to “believe”!

John 11:25-26 (Message)

“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?”

It is not important where you are when your dream dies, it is important to take note of the moment that it comes back to life. Jesus is not going to let it happen on His Watch. He has way too much invested in you! Don’t give up! Eternity is not the only promise that Jesus Christ ever made. Resurrection of your dreams and a supernatural life is available today! Jesus said it, “I Am, RIGHT NOW”. How awesome? Get ready, your suddenly could be today! It can be before you go to bed or even in the next instant! Don’t give up! The resurrection power of Jesus Christ is working on your behalf today! You may be the next overnight sensation!  Whether it is tonight or tomorrow night only Jesus knows but one thing that is for sure, He’s coming!