Tag Archives: Jesus

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.  

 


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


Being United With Jesus

carrying crossThat I may know Christ and the power of His resurrection, and may share His sufferings, becoming like Him in His death.   Philippians 3:10

If you marry someone, you take on the other person’s life.  You adapt to your spouse’s work, sleep, and eating  patterns.  The more time you spend together, the more you take on each other’s personalities and preferences.  Now think about that marriage union in regards to us being “in Christ.”  It is a union that glues us together with Jesus and brings us multiple benefits, such as the ones listed out in Ephesians 1–being adopted, chosen, redeemed, lavished with God’s grace and being sealed by the Spirit for redemption until the end of time.  May I understand and know these benefits of my salvation.  Open my eyes, God.

We also get the power of His resurrection.  Paul wrote about that in Ephesians 1:19 when he prayed that we would know God’s incomparably great power that rose Jesus from the dead and utilize it because that power is working for us.  In Ephesians 3:20 Paul again prayed, “Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly more than we can ask or think according to His power that is at work in us.”  May I know that power and see it at work in and through me.  Show me Your power, God.

But then Paul takes a turn away from the “bless me Lord,” portion of our Christian life.  It is about sharing in His sufferings and becoming like Him in His death.  Oh no, wait a minute!  Do I want that in this marriage union with Him?  In Mark 14:50 it says that, just as Jesus was being arrested, “everyone deserted Him and fled.”  Then Paul, in 2 Timothy 4:16, says the same thing:  “ At my first trial no one stood by me, but everyone deserted me.”  He shared in Jesus’ sufferings and death, just like he prayed.

Would you be so bold as to pray, “Lord, I want to complete my union with You by suffering for You”?  That is is where we find God’s resurrection power–through death to self.  John 12:24 says it: “ Unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains alone.  But if  it dies it bears much fruit.”  How do we do this?  Here are a few ideas:

  • Endure hardship, harsh treatment, rejection and scorn for the sake of Jesus’ name.  Don’t stay silent because you might get grief for it.  Do this joyfully and willingly.
  • Die daily, as Paul said in 1 Corinthians 15:31.  Die to flesh, die to self, die to your own ambitions and agenda, die to self absorption and self promotion–and then present yourself to God to live for Him, humbly seeking His will each day, and obeying HIs voice.
  • In Luke 23:18 the crowd yelled out “Give us Barabbas!” in exchange for Jesus.  Yell out each day to God, “Give me Jesus!”  Don’t exchange the hard way for the easy one.

Work Your death in me, O God that I might know your life.


The Gospel Shaped Life

Therefore, having this ministry by the mercy of God, we do not lose heart.  But we have renounced disgraceful, underhanded ways.  We refuse to practice cunning or to tamper with God’s word, but by the open statement of the truth we commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God.  2 Corinthians 4:1-2

We have been saved by the mercy of God and are called to follow Him.  We don’t give up when things get tough.  But we do renounce our old ways of getting things done one way or another.  We will not deceive, mislead, or manipulate.  That in itself is big.  But the biggest commitment that Paul makes here is to not tamper with God’s word to make it easier to take or to suit our own purposes.  Some people talk away the Bible by saying that it has mistakes, or that it was just written by people.

That’s not for us!  We believe that God’s word is our authority for life, that it does not contain errors or contradictions and that what it says, we will do.  We will not water it down to justify our sins, or the sins of others.  As we stand on the Word, we speak to people’s consciences, because our core problem is sin.  And our consciences are where we make the choices between right and wrong.  We do all of this in the sight of God, who sees all that we do and will one day judge each one of us for what we have done.

Tim Keller, a pastor at Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City, preached a message called “The Gospel Shaped Life.”  In this sermon he talks about how the Gospel, the good news of Jesus coming to save us from our sins and to set us apart for Him, shapes our life so that it is entirely different from someone who does not follow Jesus, or who does not allow his or her life to shaped by Him.  He talked of three main things about this Gospel shaped life, though there are many implications beyond that for all of us.

First, the grace of God appears to us and He teaches us to say ’no’ to ungodliness.  That’s what Titus 2:11-12 tells us: “For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions and to life self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age.”  So we don’t do the ungodly things anymore, not because they will make us look bad, or for fear of being caught or any other selfish motive.  I say ‘no’ because God’s grace is in my life and it has changed my cravings and it has made me loathe ungodliness and selfishness.

Second, the Gospel sets us free from a variety of things.  Those are things like our childhood, anger at being abused or shorted, addictions, obsessions, guilt, shame, anxiety, etc.  As Acts 13:38-39 proclaims, through Jesus we are set from the things we couldn’t get free from before.  As we move away from the things that shackle us, we are free to do all kinds of things we had no energy or ability to do before.

Finally, the Gospel makes us think of ourselves less.  This is in contrast to thinking too much of yourself, or thinking you are ‘less than’ everyone else.  We just think of ourselves less and of Jesus and others more.   

Have you been shaped by the Gospel?  

(Photo from Gracecityphilly.com)

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Led in triumph

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But thanks be to God, who in Christ Jesus always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of Him everywhere.  For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing, to one a fragrance from death to death, to the other a fragrance from life to life.    Who is sufficient for these things?   2 Corinthians 2:14-16

 

Paul was writing to the Corinthians about all of the obstacles he was facing.  He had just survived a huge riot in Ephesus, and he was still trying to deal with the fallout of a believer who was living in sin that Paul had rebuked.  In the handling of the sin deal, people started to question Paul’s authority and even his motives.  They accused him of not keeping his word by not coming to see them when they thought he was.  And to top it off, Titus was supposed to meet him in Troas and he wasn’t there.

In the middle of Paul’s troubles, he reminded the Corinthians and himself of the truths of the above verses.  God leads us, not in defeat, but in triumphal procession.  And wherever we go, Jesus goes.  He is inside of us.  His fragrance is being emitted from us wherever we are.  We don’t even have to open our mouths.

You could probably write a laundry list of all of the obstacles that are facing you.   For some of you, it is addiction that is your obstacle.  You may have made choices that are destructive and now you are trying to figure out a different way to live.  For others, your obstacles are different.  You may have the stress of raising a family, working, and trying to keep your head above water.  Whatever your obstacle is, if you have Jesus in your life, this is a true truth (as Francis Schaeffer would say): Jesus leads you in triumphal procession and spreads His fragrance through you.

Now some of you may ask: really?  Do I really emit Jesus?  How does that work?  Is it something I have to consciously do in order for others to know that I am a Christian and be impacted by my presence?  My questions to you would be: how much of you does Jesus have?  And how much of Jesus do you have?  Is He shaping your life in a way that makes you different because you belong to Him?  If Jesus isn’t shaping your life, why isn’t He?

Jesus always leads us in triumph, so that would indicate that He does that for every Christian, whether they know it or not.  So then the issue would be about how you walk in that realization of Jesus’ fragrance coming through you.  Jesus is inside of you and He lets the people around you know that you belong to Him.  Some people will reject you because they are rejecting Jesus.  Others will like you because they are attracted to Jesus.  Start walking in this mindset of victory.  Ask Jesus to work in you and through you right where you are.  And then watch what He does.


In Over Your Head?

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Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death.  But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead.

 2 Corinthians 1:9

 

Paul was telling  the people in Corinth that he would have come sooner, but he was a little busy.  He was in Ephesus and a riot broke out just after a great revival.  Luke tells about it in Acts 19.  There was a battle between believing in Jesus or keeping the people in bondage to their god Artemis.  Breaking strongholds isn’t easy work, and it doesn’t come without a spiritual and sometimes a physical battle.  Paul’s companions were drug into a theater to be beaten and the believers there had Paul slip out of the city to save his life.  He had been beaten and jailed before, so it wasn’t that he was a chicken.

But this time, as Paul recounts in 2 Corinthians 1, he and his ministry companions were “utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself,” from verse 8.  He thought this was where he was going to die.  They could not rely on their own words of defense or counter measures, but only could rely on God.  And Paul summarized it by saying that it was so that they would learn to rely on God to get them through, rather than on their own devices.

It reminds me of a show my husband and I are watching, “The Selection.”  It is a group of 30 regular people who are going through the same training that Navy Seal people go through.  The leaders put them through all kinds of situations to teach them what their bodies and minds can really endure, to weed out the weak, and to make the ones who haven’t rung out ready to face anything.

In a sense, God is the training officer for us.  He wants us to grow strong in our faith so that we will trust in Him, and to see Him rescue and work regardless of the situation.  You may not be facing a thousand angry people ready to rip you apart because you are preaching about Jesus.  But you may be in situations that you feel like you are going to crack or  ones where you despair and wonder how you are going to make it.  You may not have enough money, any friends, or you hate your job.  And God’s word to you is the same one that He had for Paul: “I can raise the dead.  I am able to help you.  Trust Me.”

Your relationships could be crumbling around you and you know it’s because of things that you have done–and you are calling out to Jesus to give you a different way to live and act.  I just wrote a friend in prison in this kind of a situation, reminding her of a quote by Corrie Ten Boom: “You will never know that Jesus is all that you need until Jesus is all that you have.”

Whatever your circumstance, God knows where you are and where you have been.  And He holds out His hand for you to take a hold of and He wants you to trust Him from this day forward.  When you learn to rely on God and do things His way, He is able.  God is able to rescue, He is able to turn your heart and the difficult peoples’ hearts that are around you.  Sometimes His rescuing looks like staying right where you are but using the strength that God provides to not bail out.  He is able to raise the dead and He is able to work in your life.