The Confidence of the Cross

“The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.” John 10:10

I hope this great truth never escapes our attention or is put on the back burner of familiarity, dimming the bold message coming from it: for us to gain life, Jesus had to lose His.

But life is now the promise of today and all days, and that day that is to come because of the precious gift our Lord secured for us.

His love for you and me would not settle with allowing brokenness, sin, and destruction to continue to litter the pathway for our existence here on this earth.  No, when He laid down life it was to regain life – when He gave up everything, it was that we may gain even more.

Imagine a love that is so on fire for you that He will go to extreme measures so that you will get to heaven, so that you will get to be with the Father.  He already knew what this was like, and nothing would stop His pursuit to make a way for you and me to experience it too.

Life is the confidence of the cross.  The enemy’s purpose is to destroy life, but Jesus’ purpose is to give everything heaven has to offer, everything the enemy is working so hard to prohibit: LIFE.

“Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live:” John 11:25

“In him was life; and the life was the light of men.” John 1:4

“Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” John 14:6

“He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life.” 1 John 5:12

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I Say to You, Arise!

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“I say unto thee, arise.” Mark 5:41

It’s too late.  The time for a turnaround has passed.  The episode of this life is gone and there’s nothing we can do about it.

“There is nothing we can do about it.”  Sound familiar?  How many times in our lives have these words been spoken by others, or even by us?  These words surface when we are at a loss for how to handle what’s before us.  It could be that we have tried, perhaps multiple times, to work on a solution in the midst of a mess, but our trying has fallen flat, and it just didn’t come together as we had hoped.

At this point, the white flag of surrender is raised, and we give up.  Looking at what seems to be irreversible and impossible, a solution unrecognizable to us, it is easy to believe that the time of hope is no more. “Why troublest thou the Master any further?” (v. 35).  For them, they knew what death looked like and the time for help has gone by according to what they believed to be true, so they spoke, “Thy daughter is dead.”

But when you invite Jesus to your house.  When you ask for Him to get involved with the problem, there is nothing too hard for God (Jeremiah 32:17, 27).

“As soon as Jesus heard the word that was spoken, he saith unto the ruler of the synagogue, Be not afraid, only believe” (v. 36).  Jesus stepped in and took immediate action against anyone who would try to stand in the way of this miracle from going forth.  As soon as He heard the negative report, He countered it with His own promise: “Be not afraid, only believe.”  Their news was dismal, and they were ready to close the case on the possibility of something good coming from this hurt, but Jesus had better in mind.

There is no situation that is beyond His power to help when it is relinquished into the hands of our God.  Instead of holding on to what you see and feel, hold on to your faith.  During these crucial moments, give Jesus space to work a miracle.  Others may not understand, and the full revelation may escape you, nevertheless, “let your requests be made known unto God” (Philippians 4:6) and believe.

“I say to you, arise” (NKJV).  The command for life to return to this daughter speaks hope: “It is not too late!”  Where we may see the end, Jesus sees a new beginning.  In what area are you hoping to see a turnaround? Believe, trust, and arise!

Father God, we are praying for Your touch in the midst of whatever we are facing.  Healing, deliverance, or just circumstance – Father God, we need You.  We believe that You can work the impossible.  We believe that Your favor and blessings and miracles are still in effect today.  And whatever it looks like, it is not too far gone for You.  Father God, we believe that You can restore, you can bring it back to wholeness and healing, and cause us to arise.  “I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help.  My help cometh from the Lord, which made heaven and earth” (Psalm 121:1, 2) is my heart’s prayer, and it is in Your hands, O God, we place it all.  In the name of Jesus Christ, our Savior, we pray, AMEN!

“Wait on the Lord: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the Lord.” Psalm 27:14

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By the Seaside With Jesus

“And he began again to teach by the sea side: and there was gathered unto him a great multitude, so that he entered into a ship, and sat in the sea; and the whole multitude was by the sea on the land.  And he taught them many things by parables . . .” Mark 4:1, 2

By the seaside with Jesus. To sit under His words. To hear His gentle yet commanding voice. The stories He told were more than just stories. They unfolded the realities of life. More importantly, they opened the truth of the Kingdom of God.

“Who hath ears to hear, let him hear,” He speaks (Mt. 13:9), knowing the choice will always be up to the individual heart.

He will plead for you to listen. He will die in case you do. For no story is worth more than the story of love played out in the life of this beautiful Savior who sees us, knows us, and still decides to lay it all down for us regardless of what our choice may be.

Sitting with Jesus beside the sea is a beautiful scenario. But sitting with Jesus within heaven’s walls is even more glorious. It’s a story whose chapters never end, being read through eternity is the love we have found in this Friend.

Don’t settle for the here and now, look for Him then. For by the seaside, those stories lead to a marvelous end.

I would love to sit with Jesus, with my toes in the water, but on this earth, I don’t want to loiter.

Those stories, those words, put a seed in my soul, and I declare today, on good ground, it was sown.

The call of the sea is beautiful to me, but more pulling is the call, with Him, to spend eternity.

“And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.” John 14:3

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One Sure-Fire Way!

If you have ever had hiccups the advice comes out of the woodwork on how to deal with them. “Hold your breath” some will say. While another may tell you to drink this or that, believing this will be the cure.

Growing up, we received a lot of advice on how to do this or get rid of that, or how to treat a specific ailment. Some refer to these homegrown remedies as old wives tales, and yet, history shows that some actually help in dealing with illness and the like (chicken noodle soup is a definite go-to for me). And it doesn’t matter if you didn’t agree, you would never convince those who pass down these remedies that it doesn’t work, for they have seen it help in the past and are convinced it can still help today.

David knew a thing or two about going through some things. Adversity was no stranger to his doorstep and yet, for all he faced, he always managed to stay in the faith.

How did he do this?

One way we can see this happening is through his own testimony found in Psalm 16:8 where he states, “I have set the LORD always before me . . .” Was this David’s sure-fire remedy for remaining when others would have moved?

Let’s examine the facts. When facing Goliath, David said, “Thou comest to me with a sword, and with a spear, and with a shield: but I come to thee in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom thou hast defied” (1 Samuel 17:45).

When dealing with Saul’s mess, the Bible says, “David behaved himself wisely in all his ways; and the Lord was with him” (1 Samuel 18:14). Leaving it all in the hands of God, David refused to lay a hand on king Saul (1 Samuel 24:12, 13).

When his son, Absalom, drove David from his kingdom in his rebellion, and Zadok desired to bring the ark of the covenant, David spoke, and said, “Carry back the ark of God into the city: if I shall find favour in the eyes of the Lord, he will bring me again, and shew me both it, and his habitation” (2 Samuel 15:25). 

When cursed by Shimei, David refused to allow vengeance to take place on his behalf. Rather, he said, ” . . . let him curse; for the Lord hath bidden him. It may be that the Lord will look on mine affliction and that the Lord will requite me good for his cursing this day” (2 Samuel 16:11, 12). 

And when faced with his own sin, David said, “I have sinned against the Lord” (2 Samuel 12:13). To God he said, “For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me” (Psalm 51:3). “Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me”(51:10).

David found God even in the adversities he encountered. The rest of Psalm 16:8 is when David proclaimed, “Because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved.” Keeping God before his face was David’s way of being able to come through many difficult times, and yet still be dubbed “a man after God’s own heart” (1 Samuel 13:14; Acts 13:22).

We can learn a thing or two from David.

How can we keep the Lord always before us?

  1. Simply put, don’t take your eyes off God. When Peter was invited to walk the waves with Jesus, his focus shifted to what was before him instead of the Christ who stood with him, and he began to drown (Matthew 14:25-30). Peter may have seen Jesus physically, but David saw God with a heart of faith and that’s where he kept his focus.
  2. Don’t compromise your beliefs. If God is before you, His word, His instructions are before you (Psalm 16:7), and like the three Hebrew boys, there is no fear of the furnace that will cause you to sway from that truth (Daniel 3:16-18). Hold on to His unchanging hand.
  3. Establish your hope in God alone (Psalm 16:11), now, and in the time to come. One day, this will all be over and we will see God face to face (Revelation 22:3-4).

David’s sure-fire way of dealing with this life will work in your life, too. With that king of old, we too can say, “I have set the Lord always before me.”

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“Walk In Peace!”

“Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee,” Isaiah 26:3

Peace is something that may seem far out of reach for most.  It is greatly desired and sought after; yet, many will never lay hold of it.  Why is that?  The answer is because of where it is found.  It is found in a made-up mind centered on who He is and a devoted heart that believes in the promises He has made.  “Perfect peace” speaks of the character of God at work.  Wherever He operates and whatever He delves into is marked by perfection.  That means when He established something that He wants to offer to all mankind He does so without there being anything wrong with it.  No fault in it whatsoever.  And He does here also.  As a matter of fact, the only thing that can mar this “perfect peace” that He is so willing to give is how man (the human race) accepts it.

When one’s mind is focused wholeheartedly on an idea, then that becomes the single vision of that person.  Once the picture of the mind’s eye is narrowed in one direction, that’s where one will be led to follow.  Now imagine a time of being in the midst of arduous and severe trials and tribulations.  Where there are sorrows and disappointments that seem to do nothing to encourage one’s focus on God, only working to tear away at one’s faith.  Yet, through it all, that person takes a stand within them and says, “If God be for us, who can be against us?” (Rom. 8:31).

The person who is able to stir up his faith in this manner as a defense and a shield to his mind, using the focus of God at work in his life and verifying it through His Word, will be kept in “perfect peace.”  He has made an on-purpose decision that no matter how bleak and dismal it may seem right now, God is greater than all, and “His tender mercies are over all His works,” (Ps. 145:9).  “How is one able to do that?” you may be crying out in frustration.  I answer you with Abraham’s example as referred to by Paul in Romans 4:20-21, where it says, “He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God; And being fully persuaded that, what he had promised, he was able also to perform.”  Simply put, as our verse in Isaiah 26:3 says, “Because he trusteth thee.”

2 Timothy 3:16-17 tells us that “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.” That is including, “perfect peace.”  All His promises are in His Word and the one who bases the foundation of all that he believes on that one rock-solid truth will be upheld and kept through the worst of storms.

“Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7

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It’s a Matter of Choice

 When I was a child, one of the simplest toys we used to play with was dominoes.  I never played it as the game intended.  My only use for dominoes was to stand them aright like little soldiers in a line just to watch them fall.

After the pattern of my desire had been set, I tipped the first one, and that’s all it took.  As the first fell, it tipped the second, and the second tipped the third, and so on until they all lay still in the place where they had fallen. 

My designs were simple, but there are those who master intricate patterns and make designs on a grander scale.  And when their first domino tips, a beautiful display of artistry and showmanship unfolds, mesmerizing the onlookers.

The time and talent it takes to perform such works are amazing.  Investment of oneself is key for without that dedication the performance that brought the end reward would have never been accomplished.

And that’s how our lives pretty much go.  Daily we are faced with a myriad of decisions and each of these decisions matters.  Like dominoes, one will affect another, and then another, and so on, with not only the present moment of the decision being impacted but also the future that is to come.

With people being caught up in the here and now, the future, with its possibilities and consequences, is not the first thought on their minds. 

On the other hand, there are those who are concerned about their future and want to know what they can do to improve its outcome, be it physical, financial, or relationally.  The better investment of oneself in these areas is for a better turnout. 

But what about spiritually?

There was a young man who came to Jesus and wanted to know about his spiritual future.  He wanted to know what to do to gain eternal life (Mt. 19:16).  Jesus’ response to him was to follow the commands of God (v. 17).

“All these things have I kept from my youth” (v. 20), the young man replied, and yet, was there something still missing?  Did he feel a certain void?

I don’t have a definite answer, but I do know he pursued Jesus with more questioning, asking Him, “What lack I yet?”

“Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me” (Mt. 19:21).

Jesus’ response to his question of lack was not something the young man was expecting.  The answer he had been looking for to secure his future was found in giving up everything and following Jesus.

He had a decision to make, and like those tipping dominoes, one would lead to another.

After processing what Jesus required of him, he went away (v. 22) and Jesus explained how hard it was for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of heaven, the eternal life he was looking for.  It would be akin to threading a camel through the eye of a needle (Vv. 23-24).

With their thinking that the rich man had the better vantage point, the disciples were astonished at what Jesus had spoken and asked Him, “Who then can be saved?” (v. 25).  Jesus plainly let them know, “With man this is impossible; but with God all things are possible” (v. 26).

Thinking about their lives and the decisions each of them had made in walking away from everything and following Jesus, Peter asked Him, “Behold, we have forsaken all, and followed thee; what shall we have therefore?” (Mt. 19:27).

That’s an important question, Peter.  When you decided to wholeheartedly follow Jesus, the first domino fell.  Everything that followed came from the ripple effect of your first choice.  And while there may be many occurrences that happen in the middle thereof, the end result will be the very thing the young man was searching for but missed out on: everlasting life (v. 29).

When asked to follow Him, the young man turned away, but Peter, along with the other disciples, invested themselves and followed on.

The path to follow may not always be easy, but after all the dominoes have fallen, and all the choices have been made, one day we will look back over the story of our lives from the vantage point of salvation, and be mesmerized by the beauty of heaven before us, for that’s what will we have, and it is a glorious future to behold! 

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The View That Will Change Your Life Forever

Some views will change your life forever.  The scenic wonder as you look out over the mountaintops. The sun that sets below the horizon daily.  The waves that crash on the ocean shores where land and sea collide.  Seeing and feeling the peace of a forest walk as nature saturates your senses.  When our eyes meet with places like these, there seems to be an extraordinary pull within us that longs for us to want to relive that experience day after day.  What your eyes see and what you experience has a way of affecting you on the inside.

But what about what your heart sees?  How do you respond to the vision of Jesus before you today?  When you look at Him, who do you see?

One day Jesus had a private moment with His disciples. In that moment, He wanted to know what they saw, not with their eyes, but with their hearts.  After asking about the opinions of others (Mt. 16:13), He wanted to know what those around Him thought for themselves: “But whom say ye that I am?” He asked (Mt. 16:15). 

With that questioning digging into their personal understanding of Him, only one spoke in revealed truth that centered itself in his very being and wouldn’t let go.  Only one man, by the name of Peter, saw Jesus for so much more.  “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God,” (Mt. 16:16) he said without hesitation or flinching, being fully confident in his answer.

In Jesus, I believe he saw not just the miracles, and wonders, and powerful teaching.  He saw Him for who He was: “The Son of the living God.”

When you see Jesus for who He really is, your life will be filled with wonder in a way you have never experienced before, and you will be changed forever.  When the veil of truth is pulled back and revelation dawns upon your knowing heart, and heaven shows you the Son, things will never be the same. 

As your eyes of faith look upon Him and your soul is drawn to Him, you find in Christ what you have been searching for all your life.  Forward you walk.  Closer to thee, O Lord, I must be, becomes the craving of your inner man, and it cannot be satisfied with another.

I know how the world views Him.  They call Jesus many things and have many opinions.  But as I rise this day and every day, I see your glory.  I see Your hand in the very details of my life.  I feel you in my heart, and as with Peter, I see the Son before me.  That is a view that has changed my life forever. 

Blessings ~

Father God, we are praying today for many souls to see You for who You are.  We are praying for eyes and hearts to be opened to the eternal truth: salvation can be found in no other, but only in Jesus Christ can lives be truly changed forever (Jn. 14:6).  May many grab hold of this truth today and believe and receive Him for themselves.  In the name of Jesus Christ, we pray, AMEN!

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Before the day was, I am He!

“Yea, before the day was I am he . . .” Isaiah 43:13

There is a time and a place for all things, that is what they say.  Some will argue their disbelief in God because they have trouble with not being able to pinpoint His beginning.  This life, this walk of faith demands that we believe God for who He says He is: “I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty” (Revelation 1:8), meaning there was never a time God was not.  He was before all and will continue to be, forever and ever.  The psalmist celebrated this by saying, “Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever thou hadst formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, thou art God” (Psalm 90:2), a truth repeatedly recognized throughout Scripture (Job 36:23; Psalm 93:2; Isaiah 41:4).  

The Bible begins with the very words, “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth” (Genesis 1:1).  God is responsible for all of the Creation events.  He “laid the foundations of the earth” (Psalm 104:5).  When “the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep” (Genesis 1:2a), God was already there moving: “And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters” (Genesis 1:2b).  Before light (Genesis 1:3-4), and even before there was a day or a night (Genesis 1:5), there was God.  He has always been and will always be.

“To whom then will ye liken me, or shall I be equal? saith the Holy One.  Lift up your eyes on high, and behold who hath created these things” (Isaiah 40:25-26a).  God is the Creator of all things.  Knowing who laid the foundations.  Knowing He who was before all things, solidifies our faith in the one and only true living God.

There is no one like our God.  He testified of Himself before Moses and said, ““I AM THAT I AM,” (Exodus 3:14), meaning just that.  He has always existed before anything else, and He has always been before even one day was ever noted in history.  He is God all by Himself: “Thus saith the LORD the King of Israel, and his redeemer the LORD of hosts; I am the first, and I am the last; and beside me there is no God” (Isaiah 44:6).

God has no equal!  There is nobody that can be measured up to Him!  There is no comparison, no rival, no match, and no substitutes – none that can be even remotely like God!  There is only one God, and from before the foundations of the earth, God has been, and He has been in control.  All we need to do is simply put our trust in Him, believe in Him, wait on Him, and watch Him work: “Wait on the LORD: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the LORD” (Psalm 27:14).

The eternal nature of God cannot be understood by pinpointing days, only by believing in faith: “Of old hast thou laid the foundation of the earth: and the heavens are the work of thy hands.  They shall perish, but thou shalt endure: yea, all of them shall wax old like a garment; as a vesture shalt thou change them, and they shall be changed: But thou art the same, and thy years shall have no end” (Psalm 102:25-27).

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God, plan perfectly my day.

We all have desires.  We all envision how we want our life to go.  And we are all guilty of thinking we know the best way to achieve it.  Often, we try to come to our own rescue by formulating plans, mentally putting pieces of this puzzle together, thinking, if this happens, then I’ll do this.  And if that happens, then this can be done.  Even though we may have prayed over the matter, maybe quite sincerely, that doesn’t mean we have invited God into the issue.  It doesn’t mean we have actually asked for His input, released it into His hands, or asked for His perfect will.

Leaving God out of the process means we have to have all the answers.  It means we need to know the beginning from the end and all the future consequences and ripples in our lives that those decisions cause.  It means we have to have perfect knowledge of everything about them now, and what’s to come – and, I am sorry, not sorry, to say, none of us are that smart.  No, not one.  That type of omniscient power can only be of God.  So, why do we fight so much to have it our own way?

Getting your way all the time is not all it’s cracked up to be.  With it comes more responsibility than we are equipped to handle.  So, today I urge you to release your plans, days, and life to God and pray for Him to plan it according to His perfect and unfailing will.

“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.” Jeremiah 29:11

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Let them find life in You!

Father God, Your love for this world is unimaginable.  You go and have gone through the extremes of love to save as many souls as possible.  Today, we are praying for the increase of Your holy kingdom.  We are praying for many souls to enter in.  We are praying for new eyes and new hearts of faith to see You and to love You for the wonderful God that You are.  “Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10).  

You are mighty and strong.  A refuge in the time of trouble.  You are our hope and our solid rock upon which we build our trust.  Let them see You for themselves.  Let them know how much You love them, that You are the good Father who gave the best gift that we may enter Your presence, that we may enter Your glory, the place where You dwell: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).

Let them find life in You.  Searches have been made to find fulfillment in many things, but in You only there is life.  We pray for hearts, minds, and eyes to be opened to that holy truth, and that many souls will turn to You for their refuge and their soul salvation.

In the name of Jesus Christ, we pray, AMEN!

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