Category Archives: Jesus

Prayer and the Throne of Grace

throne room

Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession.  For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.  Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.  Hebrews 4:14-16

Picture the throne room in Heaven.  It is filled with God’s glory, power, and radiant majesty,  a holy place from which Jesus rules over the entire universe while He sits at the right hand of God (Hebrews 1:3).  Here are three things about this throne:

It is a throne of grace.   In the midst of this throne room filled with God’s majesty and power, Jesus bids us to boldly come and present our requests to Him.  This is amazing, so amazing that I can’t even wrap my mind around it.  When we need help,  Jesus, the king of the universe,  is waiting for us to come so He can give us His mercy and grace.  In fact, in Isaiah 30:18 it says, “The Lord longs to be gracious to you; therefore He will rise up to show you compassion.”  NIV  He longs for us to come to Him in prayer.  

Conversely, when we turn to someone or something else instead of to God, He rebukes us.  In 2 Chronicles 16, King Asa asked for help from the king of Syria instead of going to God for assistance.  God sent Hanani the prophet to Asa to tell him that God helped Asa in the past, so why didn’t he ask God instead of going to the king of Syria.  Hanani then said, “For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth to give strong support to those whose heart is blameless toward Him.  You have done foolishly in this, for from now on you will have wars.”

It is a throne of intercession.  Jesus can identify with our weaknesses, He knows our weaknesses and He is praying for them.  Hebrews 7:25 declares, “Consequently Jesus is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.”  Jesus is not only ruling and reigning, but He is praying for us day and night.   Also, Hebrews 2:18 reads, “For because He Himself has suffered when tempted, He is able to help those who are being tempted.”  When you are confronted with your weaknesses, or are tempted to sin–call out to Jesus!  He will help you.

It is a throne of well-timed help.  According to John Piper, in his devotional “His Timing is Perfect,” Hebrews 4:16 is more literally translated, “that we may find grace for a well-timed help.”  God’s grace will not come too early or too late.

What good news to rest on as we bring our needs, our dreams, and our failures to the throne of grace in prayer!  


The Cure to Drifting

Fix on Jesus

Therefore, holy brothers and sisters, who share in the heavenly calling, fix your thoughts on Jesus.  Hebrews 3:1 NIV

Last time we looked at five things that contribute to drifting spiritually.  There are many more ways, knowing that the world, the flesh and the devil all work against our spiritual growth.   Since I listed five things that contribute to drifting, I’ll answer with five ways to combat the drift:

  1. Fix our thoughts, hearts and eyes on Jesus.  I love that word, “fix.”   There are several verses with the words fix and set.  Picture yourself being stuck to Jesus like glue.  You’re fixed to Him.  Colossians 3:1-3 tell us to set our minds and hearts on things above, and Hebrews 12:2 also tells us (NIV wording again) to “fix our eyes on Jesus.” It takes an intentional mindset to keep looking at Jesus in the Word, in our worship and in prayer.  Tell yourself to get your eyes and thoughts off of yourself, off of others and to fix them on Jesus.
  2. The Holy Spirit.  The good news is that we have been given the power of the Holy Spirit to work in our lives to overcome those things that pull us down and cause us to drift.  Galatians 5:16 announces, “But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.”  
  3. Fellowship with like minded believers.  In 2 Timothy 2:22 we are told to “flee youthful passions, to pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.”  That means you purposely place yourself around people who are fixed on Jesus.  If you can’t find any to hang around, then read their blogs, their books, listen to their sermons or worship songs.  
  4. Learn to worship.  Good worship music draws our thoughts and hearts to Jesus.  Don’t listen to garbage music that doesn’t do so.  Worship just doesn’t have to include singing or listening to music.  Include the Psalms in your diet.  Memorize and meditate on them.  True worship changes our affections, drawing them away from the things of the world to heavenly things.
  5. Let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly.  That means reading, studying, meditating on  and memorizing the Bible.  For me, the closest link to drifting spiritually is when I get too busy, distracted or undisciplined to be in the Word.  It means I am living my life in my own strength, in the flesh, and I am dead meat when I do that.  The verse from the hymn, “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing” is so true: “Prone to wander, Lord I feel it; prone to leave the God I love.”  

O Lord, keep me from wandering and drifting.  Daily pull me back to Your heart.  Draw and fix my thoughts on Jesus.  Fill me with Your power to walk in the Spirit and to stick to Jesus like glue.

 


Jesus is a Very Big Deal

Jesus is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of His nature, and He upholds the universe by the word of His power.  After making purification for sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high.  Hebrews 1:3

The writer of Hebrews starts off with a magnificent declaration of five things about who Jesus is.  They are central to our faith, and why Jesus is a big deal:

  1. He is the radiance of the glory of God.  Jesus is full of God’s glory, and He was even when He was a human on the earth.  The apostle John told about it in John 1:14, We beheld His glory, full of grace and truth.  If you want to know God’s glory, look at Jesus.  Read the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John) and absorb His miracle power.  In John 2:11, after Jesus turned the water into wine, John recorded, This, the first of His signs, Jesus did at Cana in Galilee, and manifested His glory.  And His disciples believed in Him.  
  2. He is the exact imprint of God’s nature.  Jesus is God.  John 1:18 tells us, No one has ever seen God; the only God (Jesus) who is at the Father’s side, He has made Him known.  If you want to know what God is like, look at Jesus.  As Colossians 1:15 also declares, He is the image of the invisible God.  
  3. He upholds the universe by the word of His power.  I love Philippians 3:21, Who, by the power that enables Jesus to bring everything under His control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like His glorious body.  And Colossians 1:17 says, In Him (Jesus) all things hold together.   Jesus holds the universe together, He holds you and me together, and He holds all of the political and climate events together.  It is not in man’s power to do this, only Jesus’.  When I watch the news and start to feel afraid and unsettled, it is this concept that comes to mind.
  4. He made purification for our sins.  We are all infected with a lethal disease that causes spiritual death–it’s sin.  No one is immune to this disease, as all have sinned, from Romans 3:23.  Our problem isn’t poverty, or pollution, or evil institutions–it’s sin.  Only Jesus could pay the price for our sin, and He did.  Hebrews 10:11-12 states, Every priest…offers repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins.  But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, He sat down at the right hand of God.  The root of purification is “pure.”  We have been made pure by Jesus’ blood.
  5. He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high.  Jesus is not the little baby in a manger, nor is He the bearded guy in the pictures with a kid on His lap.  He is now glorified, ruling and reigning on a throne, sitting next to His Father God, “the Majesty.”  He lived a perfect life, completed the job He came to do by dying on the cross and triumphantly rising again, and then was given the victor’s crown.  Jesus is executing judgment and righteousness from the throne with all power and authority and will one day come in great glory.  Check out the description that John gave after He encountered the risen and exalted Lord in Revelation 1:12-17.  This is Jesus!

 

I commend King Jesus to you that you might trust in Him,  love Him and worship Him.  

 


From useless to useful

 

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I appeal to you for my child, Onesimus, whose father I became in my imprisonment.  (Formerly he was useless to you, but now he is indeed useful to you and to me.)  Philemon 1:10-11

 

 

Paul and Onesimus were cellmates in Rome.   The story is told in the book of Philemon.  Onesimus was a runaway slave, belonging to Philemon.  Philemon was a Christian, and I’m guessing he lived in Colossus, as Paul mentioned Onesimus in Colossians 4:9.  Paul wanted Philemon to release Onesimus as a slave so that he could be a messenger for the Gospel once he got out.  Onesimus deserved to be executed according to the law, but Paul wanted Philemon to pardon him and to welcome him as a brother.

Onesimus means ‘useful.’  Maybe that wasn’t his real name, but Paul changed it to that.  Or maybe that really was his name, given by hopeful parents so he would become someone great.  Whether he knew the meaning of his name and was rebelling against it, or whether he knew it but was born in poverty to parents who were slaves, his life was about to change.  He could now live up to his name.  Onesimus became who he was supposed to be in that prison cell, because God called him by name and he became God’s child.

We are all runaway, useless slaves.  We all deserve execution because of our sin.  That verdict isn’t just for people in jail, it’s for everyone.  Romans 3:23 says it: “All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.”   We all need a pivot point where we turn from our sin to follow Jesus, turning from the useless pursuits of self interest, to the useful God designed purposes that God has for us.  Paul’s pivot point was on the road to Damascus, Onesimus’ was in prison.  Neither of them expected this wonderful change, but they got it.

2 Corinthians 5:17 promises, “If anyone is in Christ, he (she) is a new creation.  The old is gone and the new has come.”  Isn’t that a great promise?  God is in the recycling and re-purposing business.  He takes all of our previously useless mistakes, random life experiences, and unfulfilled potentials and weaves them together for good.  And He makes us useful for His kingdom.

What has been useless in your life that you can give to God to make useful?  And, how can you be Paul to someone else, just like Paul was God’s ambassador for Onesimus?  Proclaim to them the good news that all is not lost.  Your useless, painful experiences can be turned into something good.  Your destiny of being headed for destruction because of their sin can be turned around through faith in Jesus and pointed Heavenward.

I love this song by Meredith Andrews, “The Gospel Changes Everything.”  Check it out:

*Image from drawception.com


Fight the good fight!

…Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness.  Fight the good fight of the faith.  Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.  1 Timothy 6:11-12

So we are to pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness and gentleness.  What does it look like to pursue those things? We have to run after them, like we would pursue a dream, or a love relationship.  If we love something or someone, we’re going to pursue that person or thing.  In the midst of running after righteousness, godliness and the rest, the key is to run after God.

Some questions to ponder today: Does God have your heart?  Does He capture your affections, your time, your energy, and even your daydreaming?  What does capture your affections, if it’s not God?  And what do you need to get rid of that is stealing away your attention and devotion?

boxing glovesHere’s the fight part:  It is a fight to drive away the competing attention getters and to be able to flee sin, bad company and bad habits.  I was just talking with four women in jail about this.  They know about Jesus and want to follow Him, but the difficulty for them is to abandon the old life, especially because they don’t have the resources to just move to another community and to start all over.  We talked about Hebrews 12:4 that states: “In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood.”

We also talked about Matthew 5:30 where it says, “If your right hand causes you stumble, cut it off and throw it away.  It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into Hell.”  Now that’s a fight.  Jesus’ call on our lives is a radical one, not ho hum.  For some people it is really a big switch to go from walking like a child of darkness to one of light.

We are at war with the world, Satan, and our own flesh.  The ‘world’ belongs to this world, and Satan is the ruler of it, according to John 14:30 where Jesus says, “The ruler of this world is coming.”  Satan is the father of lies and our enemy.  He seeks to steal, kill and destroy, according to John 10:10.  We can’t just “go with the flow” because the world’s flow goes the opposite direction of godliness and righteousness.  Finally, Peter writes in 1 Peter 2:11 to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul.”  Have you ever felt that civil war?

              Three things to think about in the fight that counteracts the world,                                         the flesh and the Devil:

  1. The Word renews our mind, and so does the Holy Spirit (Romans 12:1-2 and Titus 3:5).  Get into the Bible and stay in it.  Call on the Holy Spirit to empower you and to fight the flesh battle for you.
  2. Take your thoughts captive.  That’s 2 Corinthians 10:3-5.  Don’t be lazy about it.
  3. Learn and remember who you are in Christ.  Ephesians 2:3 says that we once were children of wrath, but that’s not who we are anymore.  We are children of the King and His Spirit lives in us.  1 Corinthians 6:11 tells us we used to be swindlers, drunkards, revilers, etc. but now we “have been sanctified, and justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.”

Fight the good fight of faith.  Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called.

 


God is looking for you

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When the goodness and kindness of God our Savior appeared, He saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to His own mercy.  Titus 3:4-5

 

According to Genesis 3:9, the first thing God asked Adam and Eve after they sinned was, “Where are you?”  Adam and Eve were hiding and had covered themselves with fig leaves.  They were now separated from their walks with God in the cool of the evening and were probably filled with shame.  But God called them out.  He went looking for them.

That’s what God does for all of us.  He’s that kind of God.  In John 1:38-39 Jesus did the same thing.  John the Baptist had just announced to his followers, “Behold the Lamb of God!” Andrew and John were there and it was their first meeting with Jesus.  Jesus asked them, “What are you seeking?”  They asked where He was staying and He said, “Come and you will see.”  Jesus invited them to get to know Him, and  He wanted to get to know them.

I must stay at your house todayYou might think that if it was you standing there, Jesus wouldn’t have invited you over.  Not you.  Check out Luke 19 and the story of Zacchaeus.  He was a tax collector, which was synonymous with crook and outcast.  Jesus was passing through Jericho and everyone wanted to see Him.  There was such a crowd that Zacchaeus had to climb a tree to get a view.  Out of the entire crowd of people, Jesus looked up to Zacchaeus, called him by name, and told Zacchaeus that He wanted to go to his house.  Zacchaeus was looking for Jesus and Jesus was looking for him.

Luke 19:10 sums it all up: “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”  Our power verse says the same thing.  The goodness and kindness of God appeared in the form of Jesus and He saved us.  He came looking for us.  Do you suppose it was a coincidence in John 4 that Jesus just happened to run into the woman at the well?  I think Jesus went at that time and sent the disciples to town to look for food because He was looking for her.  In 2 Chronicles 16:9 it says that the eyes of the Lord run to and fro, looking to support those whose hearts are fully committed to Him.  I would say to those who are calling out to Him.  When we call out to God in our desperacy and loneliness, contempt and hunger, He finds us.  God sends someone to point you to Him.

Because of God’s goodness, kindness and mercy, He keeps calling to us, “Where are you?” when we sin and hide.  We might be hiding in work, in shopping, in partying, or in obscurity.  But God calls us out.  He doesn’t want us to be covered with fig leaves, our own way of taking care of the consequences of our sin.  He wants us to be covered by his provision, the blood of Jesus.  When we think God doesn’t see us, or know our name, or know what we’ve been through, He does.  And He picks us out of the crowd and announces, “I’m coming to your house, so get out of that tree.”

One more Biblical example.  Peter was one of Jesus’ disciples and he blew it when Jesus needed him the most.  Peter denied that he knew Jesus when Jesus was arrested and facing the kangaroo courts.  Peter said, “I don’t know Him.”  Now Jesus has risen and Peter has to face his denial.  Jesus didn’t wait for Peter to come to Him to fess up.  I’m guessing Peter didn’t even know how to fix it and wondered if Jesus could ever use such a coward.

Not so.  In John 21 we find the opposite.  Peter and the guys were out fishing, most likely wondering what their lives were going to look like now.  They see a guy on the shore and He says, “Cast the net on the right side,” and boom!  They catch 153 fish after getting blanked the whole night.  Peter was the first to shout, “It’s Jesus!”  Peter ran through the waist deep water to get to Him.  And there was a breakfast of fish waiting for them, their favorite.

Jesus asked Peter if he loved Him.  He asked three times.  It was through that dialogue that Jesus restored Peter and told him, “Feed my sheep.”  In other words, “I’ve got a plan for you.  I’m not benching you.  I love you.”

It’s the kindness, goodness and mercy of God at work in your life to enable you to call out to Him.  He’s calling out to you. He has saved you, and you can rejoice.  Not only that, but you can tell others. Psalm 40:9-10 reads, I have told the glad news of deliverance in the great congregation; behold, I have not restrained my lips, as You know, O Lord.  I have not hidden Your deliverance within my heart; I have spoken of Your faithfulness and Your salvation; I have not concealed Your steadfast love and Your faithfulness from the great congregation.

 

*Photo from the Brook Network


A New Citizenship

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He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.  Colossians 1:13-14

Renunciation is the voluntary act of giving up our citizenship.  Naturalization is voluntarily acquiring a new citizenship.  Jesus has made us a naturalized citizen in a new dominion, or kingdom.  We voluntarily renounce our affiliation with the dominion of darkness, our old citizenship.  We now serve a new king.

The NIV words it that we were ‘rescued’ from the dominion of darkness.  This conjures up an image of Jesus making a daring Tom Cruise-like rescue from some foreign, dark, rat infested prison cell, like in “Locked up Abroad.”  It’s a drama that was played out on that dark Friday 2000 years ago on Mt. Calvary.

In Colossians 2, Paul describes what happened when Jesus died on the cross.  In verses 14-15, we find that Jesus “canceled the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands.  This He set aside, nailing it to the cross.  He disarmed the demonic rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them on the cross.”  Jesus won the battle for our citizenship on the cross of Calvary.  He made a public spectacle of Satan’s minions, announcing to the spiritual realm that He won the battle.

In doing so, Jesus took our rap sheet, the record of debt that stood against us because of our sin,  and nailed it to the cross.  We lay claim to this by giving our lives to God.  It begins somehow by admitting that we are sinners that cannot save ourselves, trusting Jesus for what He did on the cross to pay for our sin, and consciously living a different life by the power of the Holy Spirit.  And when we do so, we are transferred from the kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of God’s beloved Son Jesus.

Philippians 3:19-20 describes the contrast of those whose “destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame.  Their mind is on earthly things.  But our citizenship is in Heaven and we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ.”

The connotation is that our lives are to be dramatically different because of this great rescue and redemption.  Our destiny is not destruction, but Heaven with eternal glory.  Our god is no longer our stomach, with its fleshly desires, but Jesus is now Lord of our passions.  Our glory now lies in making Jesus’ name great, because He is the king of our domain.  Our mind is set on things above, where Christ is seated at the right of God.  We eagerly wait for the return of our King, who has gone on a long journey and will some great day come back for us in the clouds.

I can’t wait.

 

*Photo from angeloakcreative.com

 


Do your prayers sound like this?

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And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to HIm.  Colossians 1:9-10a

Most of the time my prayers do not sound like  Paul’s prayers.  But when I really want to see someone grow in their Christian life, I borrow these words.  They really distill what we need to have to make it spiritually.  And when I’m stuck on how to pray for myself, I do the same.  Let’s take his prayer apart:

Being filled with the knowledge of God’s will.  According to quora.com, the average adult makes around 35,000 choices a day.  Just try to order a sandwich from “Subway” and you’ll notch about 30 choices.  It would be really nice to get a little note from God with our directions for the day.  Instead of getting that, we get the Holy Spirit who is always with us to guide us.  God, direct me today so I know I’m doing what You want me to do.

In all spiritual wisdom and understanding.   Just this last week I encountered a situation with a difficult parent where I needed God’s wisdom regarding how to respond to her bullying and berating.  I asked God for understanding what she really is angry at and how to stop butting heads with her.  God is not like a magic eight ball that gives immediate answers, but I trust that He will speak ideas into my heart and mind as I proceed.  Take your most difficult situation that is facing you and ask God for His wisdom and understanding.  

So as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord.  In the movie “Saving Private Ryan,” the character played by Tom Hanks, Captain Miller,  dies in his mission to save Private Ryan, the only son left in his family.  James Ryan went back to Normandy to Captain Miller’s grave.  Ryan stood by his grave and said, My family is with me today. They wanted to come with me. To be honest with you, I wasn’t sure how I’d feel coming back here. Every day, I think about what you said to me that day on the bridge. I’ve tried to live my life the best I could. I hope it was enough. I hope that at least in your eyes I’ve earned what all of you have done for me.” (From http://www.thesource4ym.com/movieclipdiscussions)

We don’t have to earn anything related to what Jesus has done for us.  That’s what grace is all about.  Private Ryan  felt a strong gratitude and had a  sense of purpose in life because of the sacrifice made for him.   We need to live our lives with a different purpose and sense of value because we know that Jesus  gave up His life for us.

Fully pleasing to Him.  If we do something that God instructs us to do, then we’ll be pleasing to Him.  That’s what obedience is.  If we don’t do something that we know God has commanded us not to do, the same is true.  If you want to please God, obey Him.  That’s what Samuel told King Saul in 1 Samuel 15:22, “Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord?  Behold to obey is better than sacrifice.”

May you be filled with the knowledge of God’s will today,  along with gaining wisdom and understanding from His Holy Spirit who is at work in you.  May God direct your steps and give you ideas, creativity and skill that comes from Him.  May you walk differently because you belong to Jesus, being filled with gratitude because of His sacrifice for you.  And may you please God by being obedient to Him.   May you turn from sinful ways and delight in doing things God’s way.  


Jesus Came Forward

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So Judas, having procured a band of soldiers and some officers from the chief priests and the Pharisees went there with weapons and torches.  Then Jesus, knowing all that would happen to Him, came forward, and said to them, “what do you seek?”  John 18:3-4

In reading Greg Morse’s blog on April 12, 2017 from “Desiring God,” I was struck with these thoughts:

Jesus had just finished His final words with the disciples in the Upper Room and the Garden of Gethsemane, as well as His big prayer with the Father.  “He knew His hour had come,” as John 13:1 states.  For most of the last three years Jesus had been saying, “My hour has not come,” like in John 2:4 and John 7:6, 8.  Judas brought the band of soldiers to arrest Him.  Jesus knew the Old Testament, so He knew what was going to happen.  Isaiah 53 could have been playing in the background.

Jesus was fully human (a mystery) and knowing what was ahead, He still came forward.  In the Garden He had prayed, “Father if You are willing, remove this cup from Me.  Nevertheless, not My will, but Yours be done,” from Luke 22:42.  In verse 44 we find that “He prayed so earnestly that His sweat became like great drops of blood falling on the ground.”  Jesus knew that He was going to be the Passover lamb and that,  in taking on the sin of the world, He would be separated from the Father.

Yet He came forward.  I would want to either hide or to fight.  Not Jesus.

  • He came forward with boldness. “‘Whom do you seek?’  They answered Him, ‘Jesus of Nazareth.’ Jesus said to them, ‘I am He.’”  John 18:4-5
  • He came forward willingly: “No one takes My life from Me, but I lay it down on My own accord.”  John 10:18
  • He came forward doggedly: “Looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of God.”  Hebrews 12:2
  • He came forward at the right time: “For while we were weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.”  Romans 5:6
  • He came forward for us: “Since therefore we have been justified by His blood, much more shall we be saved by Him from the wrath of God.  For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of His Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by His life.”  Romans 5:9-10
  • He came forward in love: “In this is love, not that we have loved God, but He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.”  1 John 4:10

In light of this, it is our time to come forward:

  • To no longer live for ourselves: “Therefore knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade others…for the love of Christ controls us because we have concluded this: that One has died for all…that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for Him who for their sake died and was raised…therefore we are ambassadors for Christ.”  2 Corinthians 5:11-20
  • To deny ourselves and to be bold for Jesus: “If anyone would come after Me, let him deny Himself and take up his cross daily and follow Me.  For whoever would save His life would lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it.  For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words will the Son of Man be ashamed when He comes in glory.   Luke 9:23-26
  • To proclaim His excellencies: “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for His own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.” 1 Peter 2:9

*Photo from lds.org


My ‘I can’ statement

I canI can do all things through Him who strengthens me.  Philippians 4:13

In education we have learning targets and then put them into what we call ‘I can’ statements to guide the lesson.  Teachers are to clearly state it at the beginning of the lesson and the goal is for the students to know what it is they are learning so they can check for themselves whether they got it or not.  An example in math might be “I can multiply three digit numbers by two digit numbers.”  Then they need to demonstrate that they can indeed do that skill.

So our ‘I can’ statement for today is clearly stated: “I can do all things through Him who gives me strength.”  There are three parts to this lesson.  The first is “I can do all things,” the second “through Him,” and finally “who gives me strength.”

I can do all things.  Not some things, all things.  It’s like 2 Corinthians 9:8, “God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every work.”  If you read Philippians 4:10-20, you’ll see that Paul was saying that he could do all things in the context of him being content in any circumstance.  He knew what it was like to be well fed and what it was like to be hungry.  He had learned the secret of surviving both good and bad times.  What was his secret?

Through Christ.  Paul didn’t say “I can do all things because ‘I’m smart,’ or ‘I’m strong, ‘or ‘because we all have an indomitable human spirit.’  No, Paul learned the secret of relying on Jesus for his contentment,  his strength, energy and his reason for living.  In Colossians 1:29 Paul wrote that he struggled with all of Jesus’ energy which worked so strongly in him.  In Philippians 3:10 Paul declared that his sole purpose was to know Christ and in sharing in HIs sufferings Paul would know the power of His resurrection.  John 15:5 says, “Apart from Me you can nothing.”  Ask God to show you how to access His energy and His power, not to rely on your own, which eventually (or quickly) fails.

Apart from Jesus we can do nothing.  With Jesus we can do anything.

Who gives me strength.  I was quoting these verses from Psalm 18 to myself this morning as I drove to work: “I love you, O Lord, my strength,” vs. 1; “For by You I can run against a troop, and by my God I can leap over a wall,” vs. 29; “God equips me with strength and makes my way blameless.  He trains my hands for war, so that my arms can bend a bow of bronze,” vs. 34.  People who resist the truth are wearing me down.  I am taking extra vitamins because I am worn out.  I remind myself that it is God who is my strength and I cannot give up.  I cry out to Him to renew my strength daily.

I must claim these truths each day, as you must also.  Life isn’t a cakewalk.  But we can do all things through Christ who gives us strength.