Category Archives: Jesus

Jesus Wins!

white horse battle

Then I saw Heaven opened, and behold, a white horse!  The One sitting on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and makes war.  His eyes are like a flame of fire, and on His head are many diadems, and He has a name written that no one knows but Himself.  He is clothed in a robe dipped in blood, and the name by which He is called is The Word of God.  Revelation 19:11-13

This is a future battle scene that will take place at the end of Daniel’s seventieth week.  In Matthew 24, Jesus’ first appearance is in the clouds.  Once He appears, the intensity of events builds, with God’s wrath unleashed: “Hide us from the face of Him who is seated on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb, for the great day of their wrath has come,” Revelation 6:16-17.  There is a pouring out of a series of judgments via seven trumpets.  When each trumpet blows, things are unleashed like hail and fire, the sea turns to blood, and the rivers and water are poisoned by a star named Wormwood.  At one point, locusts are released that heads with crowns, faces like humans, hair like women’s hair, teeth like lions and stings like scorpions.  They torture people for five months.  

There are seven bowls that follow, which include more plagues and destruction.  The Euphrates River is dried up to prepare the way for the kings to come from the east, according to Revelation 16:12.  Demonic spirits are released to assemble the kings of the whole world for battle on the great day of God the Almighty.”   They assemble at the place that in Hebrew is called Armageddon, according to Revelation 16:13,16.  This is Megiddo, which is a city in Israel, in the Valley of Jezreel.  This is where the battle will take place.

In Revelation 17 John saw that the leaders from ten countries will hand over their power and authority over to the beast to make war on the Lamb.  ‘The beast’ is described in Rev. 13 as having ten horns and seven heads.  This beast is described more in Rev. 17:7-14.  It seems to be a body of nations and rulers who line up against Jesus.  As you read further in Rev. 13 there is a second beast, which appears to be the Antichrist.  He is the one who will perform great signs to deceive those who dwell on earth, telling them to make an image of the first beast that everyone must worship.  He will also then cause everyone to take a mark to be able to buy or to sell.

Back to the battle, it will culminate in the Valley of Jezreel where Megiddo is, otherwise known as Armageddon.  In Revelation 19:11-21 there is a marvelous description of Jesus coming out of Heaven on a white horse, followed by the armies of Heaven who are arrayed in white  linen and riding on white horses.  The kings of the earth with armies will gather to make war and are then defeated.  The beast is captured along with the Antichrist and are thrown into the lake of fire.  The rest are slain in that valley.

As you continue to read, Revelation 20:1-3 tells how Satan the dragon is bound and thrown into a pit for a thousand years so that he might not deceive the nations any longer.  Jesus then sets up His kingdom where He sits on a throne in Jerusalem to rule and to reign for a thousand years.

1 Corinthians 15:25-26 tells us that Jesus “must reign until He has put all His enemies under His feet.  The last enemy to be destroyed is death.”  So the good news is that evil does not win out, but Jesus does.  God has a plan that He has been working out and will work out.  That plan includes good things for the those who call upon Jesus to save them from their sins, admitting that they are a sinners, confessing with their mouths that Jesus is Lord and believing in their hearts that God raised Him from the dead, according to Romans 10:9-13.  “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

Daniel 7:22-23 prophesies, “Then the sovereignty, power and greatness of the kingdoms under the whole Heaven will be handed over to the saints, the people of the Most High.  His kingdom will be an everlasting kingdom, and all rulers will worship and obey Him.”


Is this the beginning of the end?

end-times

And they sang a new song, saying, “Worthy are You to take the scroll and to open its seals, for You were slain, and by Your blood You ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation.”  Revelation 5:9

The Apostle John was taken in the Spirit to Heaven to see what was going to happen in the future.  He was taken to the Throne of Jesus with all of His majesty.  This was complete with jewels of all kinds, 24 elders on thrones, seven torches of fire, four living creatures with eyes going in every direction who never cease to say, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty.”  

All of the living things around the throne called out “Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for You created all things, and by Your will they existed and were created (Rev. 4:11).”  I can’t wrap my mind around the sheer awesomeness of this scene.

John then saw Jesus holding a scroll and a strong angel called out, “Who is worthy to open the scroll and break its seals?”  John began to weep because no one was found worthy to do that.  Then an elder said, “Weep no more; behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered, so that He can open the scroll and its seven seals (Rev. 5:2,5).”  Jesus is the only one worthy to do such a thing.  

Why was taking the scroll and breaking open the seals such a big deal?  Because, in doing so, this will begin the events that will usher in the end of the world as we know it.  Seal by seal it will usher in the very difficult events leading up to Jesus’ return to the earth as judge and  King.  It won’t be pretty.   The seven seals that will be opened are:

  1.  A white horse and rider with a bow,  released to conquer.
  2.  A bright red horse released, taking peace from the earth so that people would slay one another.                                                                                          
  3.  A black horse with a rider with a pair of scales, weighing out wheat and barley for a great price (scarcity of food).
  4.  A pale horse whose rider’s name was Death.  A fourth of the earth will be killed.
  5.  Those who have been slain for the Word of God will be given white robes.
  6.  Cosmic disturbances erupt, complete with red blood moon, stars falling from sky, sky rolled up like a scroll.
  7.  Silence first so the 144,000 can be sealed and a great multitude will appear before the throne.  Then there will be great  thunder, lightning and an earthquake.

Why should we know these things?  Matthew 24:32-33 states, “From the fig tree learn its lesson; as soon as its branch becomes tender and puts out its leaves, you know that summer is near.  So also, when you see all these things, you know that He is near, at the very gates.”  You need to know what will take place that marks the period known as ‘the end times.’  And you need to know what to do.  I believe that we will be here up until the sixth scroll is opened.  Wrap your mind around what that would look like.

The political systems throughout the world are a tinder box.  As things become more and more unstable, you wonder if we could get hit with nuclear missiles, if the world economy will collapse and if anarchy will reign.  It is good to have a clear sense of how things will unfold.  Knowing that God is control and world leaders are controlled by Him helps to allay fear.  God holds our tomorrow, and that’s good news.  

If now could be ‘the end times,’ how should we live?

  • We need to be about spiritual things more than being preoccupied with hobbies, mindless TV shows, and things that don’t have an eternal value.
  • We need to be ready spiritually.  That means that you must not put off making things right between God and yourself.  If you need to drop a bad sin habit, do it.  If you need to spend more time each day and week reading the Bible, praying and seeking God’s will, do it now.
  • We need to help others to be ready spiritually.  If you don’t want your loved ones, friends or acquaintances die without knowing Jesus, tell them now.  
  • We need to be ready financially.  Things could get tough if this is the time that the scrolls could be opened.   We could lose our jobs because of our faith in Jesus.  Get your debts paid so that you can walk when that happens.  Be a part of a community of believers that you can share goods with and trust.  

“But watch yourselves let your hearts be weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and cares of this life, and that day will come upon you suddenly like a trap…But stay awake at all times, praying that you may have strength to escape all these things before the Son of Man.”  Luke 21:34,36

 

*Image from Cornerstone Presbyterian Church, Katy, TX

 


You’ve lost that loving feeling

first love

I know you are enduring patiently and bearing up for My name’s sake, and you have not grown weary.  But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first.  Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first.  If not, I will come to you and remove your lamp stand from its place, unless you repent.  Revelation 2:3-6

Jesus gave John messages for seven churches in Revelation 2-3 when He appeared to John in a vision.  This message was for the church in Ephesus.  Paul helped to establish that church thirty or forty years before this, and he wrote the book of Ephesians as a letter to them.  Jesus was telling them things that they had that were commendable, and also some things they needed to repent of.  

Let’s take a look at the commendable things first.  They were enduring trials patiently for the sake of Jesus.  Secondly, they did not grow weary of standing firm, nor did they give up.  This tells me that God sees us when we labor on, doing the right thing, and  taking heat from others.  We might think that no one else notices, or wonder if it is worth it.  The resounding answer is that God sees and He will reward us for our endurance.  He sees both individuals and churches.

Lately I’ve been struck with the idea of doing things that are a secret between God and myself.  In Matthew 6:1-2 it says, “Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in Heaven.  Thus, when you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by others.  Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward.”

 There are many awesome things that God has done in my life.  If I never get to tell anyone about them, it’s okay.  That can be our little secret.  I know God sees me and He knows what I am doing and enduring for the sake of His name.  My reward will come in the end from the One who sees me.

Now for the negative:  They had lost the love and zeal that they once had for God.  He didn’t say, “That’s okay, you did a lot of good things when you were younger.”  No, He called them to repent.  To repent means to admit that losing that intensity of devotion is sin, and then to return to the devotion that you had earlier on.  It means a change of heart and a change of actions.  

It could be tempting to live your Christian life in fits and starts.  That means you have good stretches and you have bad ones.  According to this, you need to repent of the bad ones and return to the first love that gave you the drive to follow the Lord wholeheartedly, serve others and be involved in things for the sake of His kingdom. Jesus told the Ephesians that if they did not repent, He would remove their lamp stand from its place.  That means that there were consequences for their dwindling love for Jesus, or just going through the motions.  It is the same for us today.

A friend was referring to someone else who was in a “spiritual funk.”  She said, “Maybe he’s just tired of trying to save the world.”  That could sound like a good excuse for allowing someone to continue in their funk, but according to this, it’s not okay.  We can’t have good sounding excuses before God.

It’s time for a gut check: Have you abandoned your love and passion for Jesus?  If so, repent and return.  Make choices to go in the opposite direction and do it today!


How do you like Me now?

rev 2.jpg

Then I turned to see the voice that was speaking to me, and on turning I saw seven golden lampstands, and in the midst of the lampstands one like a son of man, clothed with a long robe and with a golden sash around His chest.  The hairs of His head were white, like white wool, like know.  His eyes were like a flame of fire, His feet were like burnished bronze, refined in a furnace, and His voice was like the roar of many waters.  In His right hand He held seven stars, from His mouth came a sharp two-edged sword, and His face was like the sun shining in full strength.  Revelation 1:12-16

Most of the depictions that you see of Jesus are either of Him in a manger as a baby, the crucifix where He is still on the cross, or some characterization of Him as a human.  In those pictures, Jesus is usually holding little children on His lap, or teaching the crowds.  The Jesus that John encountered in his vision is the resurrected Lord.  He is not “gentle Jesus, meek and mild” (the title of a hymn by Charles Wesley), a baby, or the crucified one.  Oh no, He is the resurrected, ruling and reigning warrior King.  

Daniel encountered this same Jesus, which he described In Daniel 7:9-10: “While I was watching, thrones were set up, and the Ancient of Days took His seat.  His attire was white like snow; the hair of His head was like lamb’s wool.  His throne was ablaze with fire and its wheels were all aflame.  A river of fire was streaming forth and proceeding from His presence.”  In Daniel 10:5-6, Daniel got another vision of the pre-incarnate Christ: “And I looked up and saw a man clothed in linen; around His waist was a belt made of gold from Ufaz.  His body resembled yellow jasper, and His face had an appearance like lightning.  His eyes were like blazing torches; His arms and feet had the gleam of polished bronze.  His voice thundered forth like the sound of a large crowd. (NET Bible)”

This is the Jesus who is now sitting on the throne, holding the universe together and interceding for us.  This is the same Jesus who will return one day in the clouds to take us home, and to then pour out His wrath on those who rejected Him.   John got to see this too, recorded in Rev. 19:11-16: “Then I saw Heaven opened, and behold, a white horse!  The One sitting on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and makes war.  His eyes are like a flame of fire, and on His head are many diadems, and He has a name written that no one knows but Himself..From His mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations, and He will rule them with an iron rod…”

I give you these descriptions of Jesus because this is the One that we place our trust in and pray to.  Jesus is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.   Jesus is holding the world together, and He holds us together.  He is not someone to be taken lightly.  Trust Jesus today and worship Him for who He really is!


The Overcomers

overcomers

Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for He who is in you is greater than He who is in the world…For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world.  And this is the victory that has overcome the world–our faith.  Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?  1 John 4:4 and 1 John 5:4-5

John was writing about false prophets, lying spirits and antichrists that deny that Jesus lived in the flesh and rose from the dead.  That’s who he was saying that we have overcome.  Why?  Because we’re on the power side, the winning side.  The false prophets and lying spirits are from the world and the world listens to the lies.  But we are from God.  God is greater than Satan, greater than false notions and ideas about what is going on and what we need to do.  And He is in us, so that makes us overcomers.  To be an overcomer means to prevail, to conquer or to win the victory.  It also implies that we face a battle.

Do you feel like an overcomer?  Or are you weighed down by the many things from life and from ‘the world’ that pull at you?  We are overrun with ‘fake news’ that makes you wonder what is true and what isn’t, and who’s lying and if there is anyone out there that isn’t involved in deception.  In our daily lives we encounter mockers, haters, obstacles, and internal struggles of all kinds.

The good news  to anchor our souls in is the fact that God is on the throne.  And through faith in Him we can experience joy, freedom and victory.  Our faith isn’t just a random, fuzzy faith: “As long as you believe something sincerely, that’s all that matters,” or “Everything is all the same, just under a different name.  You just need a higher power of some sort.”  1 John 5:5 counters that with this truth:  Our faith must be in Jesus Christ who is the Son of God.

In Acts 4:12 it says that there is “No other name under Heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”  That name is Jesus.  Don’t believe anything else, no matter how sincerely you think they are okay to blend into your life.  Everyone has to leave some belief system to follow Jesus.  Further, Colossians 2:9-11 declares, “For in Christ the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form, and you have been given fullness in Christ, who is the head over every power and authority.’  (NIV)

Jesus is the top dog, with all of the power.  Don’t settle for anything less by doing what Colossians 2:8 tells us: “See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ.”  When you place all of your trust in Jesus, you will have the power to overcome whatever comes your way.  

You don’t have to fear, nor do you have to resort to your old way of getting things done.  Maybe you used to use anger or some sort of manipulation to get what you want.  Now, you commit your situation to God and let Him do His work.  You may have been consumed with worry, thinking that somehow through your fretting that things would change.  Now you pray.  Or, you might have taken things into your hands to control, taking charge over others to make them comply to get things done.  With Jesus in your life, now you only concern yourself with your matters and leave God to work in other people’s’ lives just like He has in yours.

You are from God, you have overcome and you will overcome future problems through faith.  You have placed your faith in Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection.  Through that you have a power to see God work in situations that look hopeless, and to use you for His glory in ways you could never have dreamt of on your own.

 


Sin and the Blood of Jesus

Jesus blood.jpgIf we walk in the light in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.  If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.  My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin.  But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.  1 John 1:7,9; 2:1-2

If you asked 100 people what they think our biggest problem is, you might get quite a broad range of answers.  Some might say something about politics, others about countries who want to attack, others may talk about the environment.  God tells us in the Bible that our biggest problem is sin.  When Adam fell in the Garden of Eden, we fell, separating us from God and alienating us from Him, ourselves, others and nature.

God sent Jesus as a perfect sin offering to save us from the His wrath and the penalty of sin.  This is the heart of the Gospel, the good news of salvation because of Jesus.  When we repent of our sins, asking God to forgive us and to give us a new heart, we receive the righteousness of Christ.  When God looks at us, He sees Jesus.

But after this glorious transformation, we still sin.  We still need the blood of Jesus to cleanse us of the guilty stain that sin leaves so that we can stand clean before God.  The good news of our verses for today is that God is faithful and just to forgive our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness–if we confess our sins.  It doesn’t just happen automatically.  We can’t just do things that are offensive to God and everything to be okay because “it’s all under the blood.”  It is all under Jesus’ blood once you confess that sin and turn from it.

The other error that we might be prone to is to fall apart because of our sin.  It’s like falling down and not getting up again.  The good news is that “as far as the east is from the west, so far does He remove our transgressions from us,” as Psalm 103:12 declares.  He wants us to come and repair our broken relationship with Him, the sooner the better.  There is no sin too dark or too big that God can’t or won’t forgive.

When we sin, we have a defense attorney–Jesus Christ the righteous one.  Picture a courtroom scene.  When the judge asks “How do you plead?”  We say, “Guilty.”  The Judge delivers his sentence and then offers for his Son to pay it for us.  Though that would be preposterous in real life, that is exactly what happens when we confess our sin.  Jesus, our advocate, stands in our place.

This is made possible by the blood of Jesus.  Throughout the Bible, from the very beginning, blood had to be shed.  In the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve covered themselves with fig  leaves after they sinned.  God stepped in and covered them with animal skins.  In doing so, blood had to be shed.  All of the way through the Old Testament, the people brought animal sacrifices and their blood spilled out on the altar to show that their sin was covered by blood.  It was a down payment until Jesus came and shed His blood once and for all on the cross.  

There is power in the blood of Jesus.  In Revelation 12:10-11 it says that the accuser of our brothers and sisters has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God.  And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony…  Satan accuses us day and night, trying to get us to wallow in guilt and shame.   But if we stand in the blood of the Lamb, bringing those sins that Satan is accusing us of to God and confessing them, then Satan has no dirt to dig up on us.

If Satan is badgering you about certain events and sins of the past, confess them to God out loud, announcing to yourself, to God and to Satan that the debt is paid.  If there is something you need to do to make something right, do it.  Then you can stand free before God and before everyone else.  

Finally, Satan wants to steal, kill and destroy (John 10:10).  He will use any open door to torment and to taunt us.  If you have been abused or wounded in spirit, that puts a hole in your heart that Satan can use to mess with you.  Perhaps you have held bitterness against the offender, against yourself or against God.  Bring that incident, or string of incidents, to God in prayer, asking Him to cover those holes by the blood of Jesus.  He will set you free from that bondage and from the torments of Satan.

In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our tresspasses, according to the riches of His grace, which He lavished upon us.  Ephesians 1:7-8

*Image from speakthewordonly63.wordpress.com


What time is it?  It’s always ten to two

…But if when you do good and suffer for it you endure, it is a gracious thing in the sight of God.  For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in His steps.  When He was reviled, He did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but continued entrusting Himself to Him who judges justly.    1 Peter 2:20-23

1 Peter was written to Christians who had been scattered because of persecution.  Throughout this book, Peter gave a lot of advice, inspired by the Holy Spirit, about how to live in the midst of tough times.  In 1 Peter 2:11 he called the believers “sojourners and exiles.”  That’s who we are.  This world is not our own.  

We probably aren’t relocated because of our faith like the first century Jesus followers, losing our homes and jobs.  But our society is getting darker, and that day could be coming.  The day I’m speaking of is what Jesus followers around the world have experienced for centuries–persecution because of our faith in Jesus.

Peter wrote that if you suffer for doing wrong, you should endure it.  But it is another thing to suffer for doing the right thing.  This could mean losing much for doing the right thing.    And it could mean a lot of other more severe things as the times grow darker and the hatred of Jesus continues to ramp up.

When I was in graduate school at a state university for counseling, in order to finish the Master’s program we all had to write an assigned ‘position paper.’  The questions were ones like, “What, in your view, is the problem of man?” and “How are we different than animals?”  My professors were clearly secular and some voiced strong sentiments against God.  I knew that I must answer the questions from the Christian perspective, and I also knew it wouldn’t go over well.

One of the professors left a message the minute she read my paper, “In no uncertain terms, get God out of it.”  Another professor, my advisor, claimed to have lost my paper.  This was before the days of computers.  I stood my ground and my paper was eventually was passed through, against the professors’ strong feelings.  I’m glad to report a good outcome, but I must be ready to take stands that don’t turn out as well.

many-and-few.jpgIn the Old Testament, when Moses sent twelve spies into the Promised Land to check it out, ten came back with a bad report and only two said that, with God on their side, they could take on the giants.  It was ten against two, and the ten won out.  I’m here to say that it is always ‘ten to two’ when you follow Jesus.  We are are vastly outnumbered by those go against God, versus those who look at giants and see a giant God behind them.  Matthew 7:13-14 talks about this, saying that the road to following Jesus is hard, the gate is narrow, and only a few find it.  ‘A few’ means less than what we even think when it is time to stand up and be counted.

Be ready to suffer for Jesus.  He showed us the way and He calls us to follow in His footsteps.  Jesus didn’t use deceit to avoid the cross, and when He was treated horribly, He didn’t strike back, or threaten the persecutors.  Instead, Jesus “continued entrusting Himself to Him who judges justly.”

We must not get revenge, use the methods of the world to win, or lash out in any way.  Instead, we must continue to do good, standing in faith that God is standing with us, entrusting ourselves to God, who judges justly.  Don’t be shocked by people hating you because they hate Jesus, and don’t crumble under the push back, recanting  your faith.

ten to two

Don’t be surprised when you are standing alone and the crowd isn’t cheering for you.  It’s always ten to two.

 

 


Rescued from Hopelessness

 

abundant life.jpgKnowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways (the empty way of life)  inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot.  1 Peter 1:18-19

In 1978 Kansas released the song “Dust in the Wind.”  It’s kind of a fun sing along song, but yet it reflects the emptiness of life, “Just a drop of water in an endless sea…”  King Solomon kind of said the same thing in the book of Ecclesiastes.  He was the wisest man, had tons of money and wives and stuff, but yet he concluded it was all “a chasing after the wind,” in Ecc. 2:17.  

I was struck by this futility when hearing of an old friend who would go to her dad’s grave every year to pour a can a beer on his grave in remembrance of him.  On her way out from the cemetery, she got into a serious car accident.  It made me think of the futile and empty ways of trying to make life have meaning.   

But with Jesus, life takes on a new meaning, or He gives meaning and value for the first time.  Things go from black and white to color.  In John 10:10 Jesus declared, “I have come that you might have life, life to the full.”  And in John 14:6 He said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.”  Jesus came to give us life, meaning to life, abundant life, and a value of life that we can’t know apart from Him.  

Everyone tries to figure out life’s meaning and value, with the questions of ‘where did I come from, why am I here, and where am I going?’  When you begin to embrace the Bible and its world view, you can see that you have been created by God, the events of your life have meaning and value, and coming into a relationship with Jesus gives you eternal life.  

This was made possible by the precious blood of Christ.  Jesus shed His blood on the cross so that we could be redeemed, or ransomed from the futile ways of life that we inherited.  To be ransomed is to have a price paid to get you back from a kidnapper.  Our soul napper is Satan, who took us captive in our sin to do his bidding.  Jesus paid the bounty with His blood to buy us back from Satan and to set us free to enjoy this life that is abundant and joy filled.  Jesus rose again to demonstrate that He is the Son of God,  with power to conquer sin and death.  We must claim this personally, asking God to forgive our sin, crying out in belief that Jesus came from God, died for us and rose again and living a life given over to Him.

Last night I was reminded of the truths of 1 Peter 1:18-19 as I sat with women from our County jail in a Bible study.  Two women cried in despair as they described the troubles of their lives, of the struggles of addiction and of how they didn’t think that life has any purpose to it.  They listened as we talked about the hope that God proclaims that comes from finding life in Him.  

Oh God, may they find their hope in You, and may they be rescued from their empty way of life that has brought such pain.  Thank you that you have saved me from a hopeless life and that You have given me meaning to life, with the glorious hope of eternity with You.  Thank you Jesus, for redeeming me with Your precious blood.

For He has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought into the kingdom of the Son He loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.  Colossians 1:13-14


More on God’s Grace (I just can’t get off of it!)

Job 42-5.jpg

I had heard of You by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees You (and I repent).  Job 42:5

I led them with cords of kindness, with the bands of love and I became to them as One who eases the yoke on their jaws, and I bent low to them and fed them.  Hosea 11:4

There is a facet of grace that has been tumbling around in my mind, calling out to me to put words to it.  ‘Chesed’ is the word in Hebrew that speaks of God’s grace in terms of deliverance from enemies, affliction, or adversity.  It denotes enablement, daily guidance, forgiveness and preservation (from allaboutgod.com).  

When God does something in us, or for us, that we couldn’t do for ourselves, that is His grace.  In Titus 3:4-5 it starts with, “When the goodness and kindness of our Savior appeared, He saved us.”  This kindness and goodness doesn’t stop once we become a Christian, it carries us throughout our lives.  It keeps appearing, sometimes in very difficult or unexpected situations.

I was talking with an old friend about how things have been going.  He had told me a few months ago that his son and his brother were both struggling.  His son had only been married less than two years when his wife decided that she didn’t want to be married anymore.  Her father and mother’s relationship hadn’t been good and it ended poorly.  So her conclusion was, why stay in a bad marriage to have it end like that?  He has been waiting at least nine months for this marriage to come back from the dead, waiting with the control really not being with him at all.  As time goes on, the prospect of restoration fades.

My friend’s brother has been a pastor of many years.  Less than a year ago he revealed that he had been having an affair for several years.  Now his wife and children won’t talk to him and have refused his pleas for forgiveness.  He has lost pretty much all he has known for the last thirty years and lives in a crummy apartment back in his small hometown, helping out with their mother who has dementia.  He too waits for God to show up and do something that he can’t do.

Remember the woman who had been bleeding over 30 years?  She pressed through the crowd just so she could touch the hem of Jesus’ robe (Mark 5:25-34). She thought something like, “I will throw myself at His feet, shamelessly asking for help.”  And Jesus helped her, He did not send her away.  When God does appear with His goodness and kindness and speaks to your desperate situation, it is radical.  That’s when Job said, “I’ve heard of You, but how I’ve seen You.”  In other words, “I used to sing ‘Amazing Grace,’ but now I have met amazing grace.  I can sing of it first person.”

I have known others whose lives have been ripped apart and rebuilt into something completely different, who have a testimony of God’s grace that is riveting.  In the process of unwanted interruptions, God brings us to Himself and it deepens our relationship with Him, bringing about pure gold.

That was my thought about the son and brother who have professed knowing Jesus most of their lives.  They have heard about grace, but when God’s kindness and mercy show up and fix their unfixable situations, they can say, ‘now grace lives with me.’  And their Christian lives will explode into directions they never could have plotted out.  Just when God will do that, I don’t know.  But because of His ‘chesed,’ I know He will.

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God leads us with cords of kindness and bands of love, bending low to ease the yoke on our jaws.  Jesus appears with His goodness and kindness and saves us from our troubles, or at least gives us a ‘new normal’ with the strength that comes from Him to handle whatever yoke that is on our jaws.

 


Be Strengthened by Grace

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Do not be led astray by diverse and strange teachings, for it is good for the heart to be strengthened by grace…  Hebrews 13:9

My last devotion was about not missing the grace of God because a root of bitterness springs up in you or someone around you.  This root can pull you away with a stubborn and cold heart and produces poisonous and bitter fruit, as Deuteronomy 29:18 warns.

But today, let’s think about how to experience the grace of God and have it actually strengthen us.  There are three things I can think of today that can pull someone away from grace.  I’m sure there are dozens, but let’s start with three.

  1. Thinking that how I’m doing as a Christian is about my performance and measuring up.  Christians my parents’ age seem to have been caught up in what looks good, whether it had meaning or not.  You had to do the right thing, go to every event there was because it wouldn’t ‘look good’ if you didn’t. The Christian life was one of duty and striving to measure up.  It ends up with a ‘see me’ mentality, because if I’m going to wear myself doing these things, I better get the credit for it somewhere.
  2. Strange and diverse teachings of today.  There are so many rabbit trails out there that you can go down that might seem exciting or where it’s at, but don’t really bring you closer to Jesus and what He has for you.  Some might be into the fulness of the Holy Spirit, others into end times, yet others into finding our Jewish roots, and on it goes.
  3. Getting defeated by sin, causing the Christian life to be an impossible roller coaster of some success, but more failure.  The result here is guilt, shame, not even trying to measure up and then going back to your old life.

I won’t want to linger here, because I want to get to ways for your heart to be strengthened by grace.  I’ll stick with three again.

  1. Get off of the performance leash.  Don’t let others control you.  Learn to play to the audience of One: Jesus.  Learn to hear His voice and find confidence in letting what He’s directing you dictate what you get involved in, and where you go.  What others think of you doesn’t matter really, it is what God thinks of you.  If you are living in honest obedience to Him, then cut the leash.
  2. Just get hooked on Jesus.  Take getaways with just your Bible and a notebook, maybe even no food so it doesn’t distract you.  Don’t let up until you’ve gotten through all of the distractions to just be with the lover of your soul.  In John 13:25 we see that John leaned against Jesus’ bosom.  Get that close to Him that you can feel what He feels and you see yourself and others through His eyes.
  3. Understand that your salvation is by grace alone.  It is a gift of God, meaning that you didn’t earn this salvation, God gave it to you.  He took the scales off of your eyes.  When you bring your sins to Him, He throws them as far away as the east is from the west.  You can live in freedom and hold your head high.  You don’t have to listen to the voice of the enemy that either speaks to your mind or through others’ lips.  They are words like, “You’re no good,” “remember all of the rotten things you’ve done,” and “it’s all your fault.”  You are loved, you are free, God has good plans for you and He is well pleased with you.  He is doing a work in you that will sand off the rough edges, so let Him and it will be good.

Let your heart be strengthened today by God’s grace.  Revel in what He has done for you, rest in His presence and lean up against Jesus’ bosom whenever you can.  Grace to you!