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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The God-Placements | Carriers of the Ministry

What does effective ministry look like to you?

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“This shall be the service of the sons of Kohath in the tabernacle of the congregation, about the most holy things:” Numbers 4:4

Every believer has a place in the calling or ministry of God. There is no such thing as someone who has been saved by grace that is not equipped in one or more ways to operate in a particular gift (s) by His grace (Rom. 12:6). And while the area you are called to work in may not look like the ministry of another (1 Cor. 12:4), it is no less critical in its impact for God’s kingdom.

Like a well-functioning body, every member is needed to step up to the plate with their gifts (comp. 1 Cor. 12:12, 14). While the spotlight tends to fall naturally on those in the front, there are many behind-the-scene positions, if they were not managed by capable persons working in their gifts, then whatever is going on upfront would not be going on at all.

After watching a good movie, especially one with multiple twists and turns, I love to scroll through the credits to see those who participated in the making of the movie. My goal is to see who the writer is. Many eyes may be drawn to the main characters, but the real star of the show is the one who wrote the story. The one who allowed him or herself to spend much time in relative obscurity, working their gift to pull the story off according to their specific design.

There are no wasted behind-the-scene moments when working to help the service of God go forward, when helping to get His story out there. There is no work that we do for our heavenly Father that is to be considered unimportant if we are working where He has called us to work. There is great value in every calling (1 Cor. 1:26, 27).

And it was God who called the Kohathites for a special job. In the days of their wilderness wanderings, when the people were ready to journey, and the tabernacle had to be disassembled into its specific pieces by the priests, it was the sons of Kohath who were commissioned by God to be there to help in the process by being carriers of the holy vessels that were inside (Num. 4:15).

Because they were not priests; because they were not the upfront guys, the items would first be covered (for their protection) so they could not see or touch them (4:17-20), but they were still called upon to help carry the things of God, to help carry the ministry.

Where they were needed to work for the kingdom of God may not seem glamourous (after all, they didn’t get the special garments, with the special office of preparing the special offerings), but the work was helpful in successfully moving the articles of the tabernacle from one location to another.

Friends, your position of performance may not include being front and center. There may be certain parts your calling cannot participate in. But wherever God has placed you, it is important, and your service to Him is valuable.

1 Corinthians 12:18 states, “But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him.” This is what I call the God-placements. According to His divine purpose and design, God has a special place for each of us, and every place we serve is essential and profitable for the Kingdom’s work.

While we may put much emphasis on those who are holding the microphone, speaking at large gatherings, singing to multitudes, and writing bestsellers – we forget the joy of being called where God knows we fit. Where God knows we can make the most difference.

We forget the importance of just doing. Doing what we do best for Him, for God. No matter how small or insignificant it may seem to others, it makes a difference for His kingdom.

One psalmist said, “For a day in thy courts is better than a thousand. I had rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God, than to dwell in the tents of wickedness” (Ps. 84:10). Whichever way you want to interpret that verse, I would rather participate in the humblest of positions in the will of God than out, for in it I will find the richest of all experiences.

Everyone has a place. Everyone in their place can do something amazing that would help this work continue to grow and spread. If it is to hold a microphone, so be it. But if I only get to be a carrier for Him, let me carry the ministry God has instilled in me with all my might and strength, knowing there is no work, big or small, that is done in vain (1 Cor. 15:58).

Your reward may not come now with the applause of men (which is a heavy responsibility that produces low returns), but when performed for God, for His glory (1 Cor. 10:31), it will come with a “well done” (Mt. 25:23) from Him, the highest reward and applause we should seek.

Lord, though our flesh may desire to see more, do more, and touch more, let our spirit rest in the truth that if we are called to only be carriers of the ministry, we are called according to Your beautiful pleasure and placement for our lives. Help us to serve in that calling, with all grace, working to please our God and heavenly Father. AMEN!

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Is the Familiar Holding You Back?

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Is the familiar holding you back?  Has the comfort of where you are now satisfied you into a state of complacency and false ease?  Has fear paralyzed your progress forward?

Unknown.  Unfamiliar.  These words are areas that we don’t know like the place where we are now.  But the plans of our life and the order of our steps were never really ours to begin with (Proverbs 19:21; Psalm 119:133).

I will admit, there are some things where I wish the curtain were opened a little wider so that I can see more of the picture hidden behind.  But that is not what faith demands (2 Corinthians 5:7).  Faith asks for trust (Proverbs 3:5-6).  And faith asks for our obedience to move forward even if we don’t quite know all the steps or how it will turn out in the end.

The familiar is all around you every day.  It can snuggle you like that comfy blanket you drape over you when you want to settle down for the evening and have a nice read or watch a favorite show.  But settling is not a place to set up shop when you feel God calling you for more.

 

Do you feel Him calling?  If so, seek His face for guidance, ask Him for help, and when He prompts you to, walk forward in faith.

Blessings to you on your journey to break the chains of familiarity.

More Inspirational Articles to Encourage Your Journey:

“Stepping Out of Your Comfort Zone”

“You Don’t Need to Know Everything!”

“Be Progressive”

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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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“Throw away those filthy rags.”

If there is one thing I really cannot stand, it’s a messy house.  I am not saying my house doesn’t get messy, because it does.  But I can’t stand it that way.  When I see a mess, I see chaos and clutter.  Some days I can let it go, but then there are those days that I just cannot.  I cannot go to bed knowing in the morning as I fumble my way to the coffee pot, I will encounter a housekeeping tragedy.

I am one of those weird people who enjoy watching other people clean their houses on videos.  And let me clarify, I do not like to just watch anybody.  The few who I do watch, who I am drawn to, are professionals or are reputable.  Some older than me.  Some are younger than me, but because of their experience, I can learn things from them about cleaning that I may not have known about.  I may have been cleaning a certain way, and now I possibly may have learned a new, better, or more efficient way to get things clean and keep them clean.

Whether watching videos or in my own experiences of cleaning, one thing I do know is that what materials you use to clean matters in the results you will get.  Inefficient tools produce inefficient results.  And if one is trying to make something clean by using a dirty rag – it is not going to work.  All you are doing is spreading the previous filth from which the rag was used, what appears to the naked eye to be clean, but now it’s riddled with invisible germs and all kinds of gross stuff you can’t see.

So, we see with those filthy rags we didn’t actually clean anything.  We didn’t make anything right or better than it was before.  All we did was re-contaminate what we thought we were cleansing. 

Isn’t that like our human nature to step back and look at something and think that we made something right on our own, with our abilities, thoughts, and actions?  To take credit for things we ought not to?  Especially when it comes to spiritual matters and our Christian walk?  It is easy to fall into the trap of thinking we have obtained any of His goodness on our own.  As if by our will, we can check off invisible boxes that said we were good enough in this area and that, therefore the graces, mercies, and salvation bestowed on us is our just reward.

No, my friend.  That thinking is so far from the truth and reality of our stance before a holy God.

Isaiah let us know that no matter what we think the best of us is, in and of ourselves, it still amounts to nothing but dirty rags before a holy God.  “But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags…” (64:6).

On our own, what we bring to the table of our lives and try to clean up, just amounts to mess on top of a mess.  Our nature has been sinful from the beginning.  This is why Jesus stressed to Nicodemus our need to be born again (John 3:3).

Outside of Christ, there is nothing within us that is powerful enough and good enough to wash away our sins and make us clean.  Any attempts within us to answer the charge against us are just that – attempts.  They are futile self-efforts of futile self-righteousness.  And self-righteous efforts never go far in God’s account book of records.  Because for one to claim self-righteousness means they can get right with God on their own and in their own way.  Who they are, their works, and their efforts speak for what they think they deserve.

By all accounts, Saul, before he became the apostle Paul, ticked off all the right religious boxes to be able to boast of his own acquired righteousness in the flesh.  In his own testimony of himself found in Philippians, he states:

“Though I might also have confidence in the flesh. If any other man thinketh that he hath whereof he might trust in the flesh, I more:

Circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee;

Concerning zeal, persecuting the church; touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless.” (3:4-6).

Have you ever been there with the mentality that the good you are or have is because of you and your efforts?  Have you ever looked down on another, even in just your heart, and felt they should be holy like you until God had to come in and knock you off your beast of pride like he did Paul to let you know you didn’t have it as together as you thought you did?  You are still harboring some mess inside of you.

At another time, in giving a defense for himself, the apostle Paul said, “I am verily a man which am a Jew, born in Tarsus, a city in Cilicia, yet brought up in this city at the feet of Gamaliel, and taught according to the perfect manner of the law of the fathers, and was zealous toward God, as ye all are this day,” (Acts 22:3).  And still, to add to his accolades, Paul said at another time, “…I am a Pharisee, the son of a Pharisee…” (Acts 23:6).

Paul supposedly had all the right stuff, and yet, he had nothing, and without Christ, he was nothing.

Back in Philippians 3, Paul continues to write:

“But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ.

Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ,

And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith,” (7-9).

Going off his own righteousness obtained by checking off the boxes of the law, Paul became a persecutor of the church.  After his transformation, he went from persecuting Jesus (Acts 22:4-8) to calling Him in Philippians 3:8, “My Lord.”

My friend, I don’t care what we think we have or bring to the table.  When we meet Jesus, we realize as Paul did, we have nothing on our own.  And that is a good place to be!

No matter who we are or what we perceive we have or do not have, we all start out with Jesus in the same way.  As Paul testified, “…not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith,” (Philippians 3:9).

So, whatever those “good enough’s” are that any are holding on to, without the righteousness found only in Christ, all those “good enough” efforts and ideas of self-realized righteousness are as “filthy rags.”

Throw away those dirty rags.  We all need Jesus Christ in order to be made right before God; in order to be saved.

Jesus, Himself, said, “…without me ye can do nothing,” (John 15:5).  He also said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me,” (John 14:6).  To make a long story short, we all need Jesus!

I have heard some say something along the lines of, “Well, I’m not as bad as some.  I don’t do this or that.  What do I need to repent for?”  In other words, they may not be super-saints (are any of us?), but they are not that bad either, so why do they need Jesus?  Aren’t they good enough the way they are?

To them, I give Jesus’ answer: “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me,” (John 14:6).

At another time, Jesus put to rest the idea of those who thought they were righteous on their own.  In the parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector, the Bible says:

“And he spake this parable unto certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others:

Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican.

The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican.

I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess.

And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner.

I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.” (Luke 18:9-14; bold emphasis added).

Friend, throw away any filthy rags of self-righteousness for they will never make one right before the Lord.

Come to Him humbly like that tax collector, realizing without Jesus cleaning us up on the inside, we will never be clean enough: “God be merciful to me a sinner.” 

When one trusts in themselves and their own works of righteousness, they put themselves in the dangerous place of tossing God’s grace aside and adopting a prideful position in life that opposes God and His plan of salvation. 

The Bible strictly warns, “Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God,” (2 Corinthians 3:5).

That is the best part of the gospel message.  It is never about what we can do, bring, or add to the equation.  It always has been, and always will be about Jesus Christ and what He has already done.

“For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.

For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die.

But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.

For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.

And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement.” (Romans 5:6-11)

Some Pharisees and those in religious circles could not accept Jesus’ message because they, in their self-righteousness, thought they were okay the way they were.  They were religious but didn’t have Christ.  They looked to be okay in all the right places and to be doing all the right things but took credit for their own perceived holiness.  Therefore, they looked down on others when it is only through the sacrifice of Christ that one can receive “atonement” and be made right.    

Then, there are those who don’t know or won’t acknowledge Christ, because as previously stated, they are not as bad as some, and think they are “good enough” the way they are.  But it is when none of us were “good enough”; when all of us were “sinners” that “Christ died for us.”

Self-righteousness is a set of filthy rags that many try to clean their life with.  We may not see the surface dirt, but the invisible attitudes of the heart, God sees it all.

Friend, we must throw away any filthy rags of self-righteousness and realize none of us got here on our own.  Everything we have and are is because of the work that Jesus Christ has already performed on the cross.  No self-works.  No self-efforts.  No self-righteousnesses can save any of us.  “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast,” (Ephesians 2:8-9). 

And, that salvation, my friends, comes through Jesus Christ alone! 

If you want your life to be truly clean, then one must come through Him who is perfectly clean, “without blemish and without spot,” (1 Peter 1:19).  No filthy rags will do. 

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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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While We Were Yet Sinners . . .

Forgiveness is something none will make it to heaven without.  It doesn’t matter who you are or what one has done in life, from the highest to the lowest, without accepting the life Christ offers through His salvation and forgiveness, we will not make it in.  The Bible records, “If thou, Lord, shouldest mark iniquities, O Lord, who shall stand?  But there is forgiveness with thee, that thou mayest be feared” (Psalm 130:3-4).

Who could stand?  Absolutely no one! (See Romans 3:10). Without His covering and remission of sins, the pathway to heaven will be blocked; access denied!  It doesn’t matter if one’s walk of life is a Pharisee or a prostitute, there is no an individual who is worthy enough to enter the gates of glory without Jesus’ forgiveness.

Question: What would happen if today God sat down and took account of all the wrongs we have done?  What would it be like if we stood before Him unable to pay what we owe?  We were there!  Jesus knew the predicament that humanity was in.  He knew that mankind could never get himself out of the debt of sin, so through Him, we obtain that freedom along with grace, mercy, and compassion as people who don’t deserve it.

The Bible reminds us, “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us,” (Romans 5:8).  I guarantee if we were to look at ourselves, we could not fathom how many times our accounts would have gone unpaid had it not been for the blood of Christ. But thank God, He acted in love to save us!  Not just us – but everyone who comes to Him in faith regardless of the background of sin.

The price has already been paid.  You are free to turn to Jesus today and accept Him for yourself:

“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.

“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.

“For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” Romans 6:23.

“In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace” Ephesians 1:7.

“In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins” Colossians 1:14.

“While we were yet sinners,” Jesus fulfilled the requirements the cross demanded on our behalf.  He paid the price we could never pay.  He didn’t wait for us to “get our act together,” for without Him, without the power of His Holy Spirit, we were never able to do this on our own.

So, with the preciousness of His life, He laid it down, so that we can experience what it is like to unload the heavy burden of sin from us and live joyfully in grace knowing how much we are loved by Him.

Adapted from the previous article: Sunday School Lesson – “Saved by Faith” Luke 7:36-50 

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A Song in Us!

I sit and I hear the birds calling out to one another.  One sings his melody, and another responds.  The beauty of this conversation puts a smile on my face as I hear the rhythms of nature in their song.

In the heavens, where our eyes cannot yet see, there is a song more glorious being called out: “Holy, holy, holy, is the LORD of hosts . . .” (Isaiah 6:3) as the seraphim cry out to one another.  The adoration and praises of God fill the atmosphere of that heavenly realm.  There, all give Him the glory.  All recognize His splendor and majesty.

What are our hearts crying out for today?  Is it more of what the world offers, or do we have something within us to offer Him?

Do we feel a calling out within us, stretching us to give Him praise?  Are we welcoming Him in our lives and days, laying things down that we might raise a shout of “Hosanna” (Mark 11:10) in our hearts?  Are we making room for Him, lauding Him as Lord over everything?

Or, have we allowed silence to be louder?

Redemption has instilled a song in us.  Our salvation has enlightened us to be quicker with a heavenly melody of our own.  Our own words of adoration come alive, wake up, take a stand, and shout of His unrecoiling love.

A love that has spared no expense to save me.  A love that has looked hurt and pain in the face that one day I can hear those songs of heaven for myself and let my heart be joined with them when my feet stand before Him.

Yes, in that future we will praise in a beautiful way we have never experienced before.  Until that day, I open my mouth and my heart today and praise the God of my salvation.  I will let the glory of who He is roll from my lips, and let my heart sing her song with rejoicing.

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Standing on the Edge

Sometimes you may come to a place that seems impossible to pass.  This is a place that edges the border of what we have been delivered from to where we are being brought to.  It is in situations like these, when God shows up, there is no doubt that His hands have been working something extraordinary through it all.  The waters may crash on the shores before and the enemy’s army may be rolling behind, but God sees you, standing there on the fringe, in a world where these two impossibilities meet, yet in Him, there is nothing impossible.  In Him, there is always a way.  In Him, you are not in a helpless position.  In Him, the victory is already won.  Before you ever came to this place, He already knew what He would do.  So rest, weary one, in His sovereignty.  Rest in His plan.  You may not understand it, but He does.  You may not know how it will work out, but He does.  This will be performed by His strength, His wisdom, and His Spirit (Zechariah 4:6), not by anything we say or do.  In getting past this place, all glory, honor, praise, and credit go to God.  He is the one who will get you to the other side in peace and wholeness, with singing and rejoicing (Exodus 15:1-21).  To you who are standing on the edge, in Him, you are not standing alone.

 “And Moses said unto the people, Fear ye not, stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord, which he will shew to you to day: for the Egyptians whom ye have seen to day, ye shall see them again no more for ever.

The Lord shall fight for you, and ye shall hold your peace.

And the Lord said unto Moses, Wherefore criest thou unto me? speak unto the children of Israel, that they go forward:

But lift thou up thy rod, and stretch out thine hand over the sea, and divide it: and the children of Israel shall go on dry ground through the midst of the sea.

And I, behold, I will harden the hearts of the Egyptians, and they shall follow them: and I will get me honour upon Pharaoh, and upon all his host, upon his chariots, and upon his horsemen.

And the Egyptians shall know that I am the Lord, when I have gotten me honour upon Pharaoh, upon his chariots, and upon his horsemen.” Exodus 14:13-18

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Don’t Wait, Pray Now!

“When my soul fainted within me I remembered the LORD: and my prayer came in unto thee, into thy holy temple.”  Jonah 2:7

There is a glorious truth that is woven through the pages of Scripture.  That truth is that God wants to hear from you now.  Alas, many put off the intimacy of regular time in prayer with the Father until they are in desperate situations and they use Him as a last resort to the problems and conditions they are facing.

God is always present.  God is always listening.  All He needs is that heart surrendered to Him in faith, one who will seek His face, bow the knee before Him, and humbly pray.

Jonah, that famous prophet swallowed whole by a great fish, found himself in desperate need of prayer.  With Jonah, as with many, the situation didn’t have to get this bad.  He didn’t have to end up in this nasty position.  He didn’t have to wait to seek God’s heart on the matter of prophesying to Ninevah.  At any given time before this episode, he could have gone to the Lord in prayer.  Perhaps then, his own heart for the people would have changed.

Yet, we will never know, because the story before us tells us the choice he made.  He chose to run from God and as a result, he found himself in a place nobody would want to be.

It was in this place, where he finally prayed, and said, “I remembered the LORD.”  The very God he tried so desperately to run away from, now in his darkest of times, he is seeking and he remembers.  When he felt overwhelmed by his choices, overwhelmed by the sin those choices led to, and overwhelmed by the experience of his sinking plight, it was as if a spiritual light clicked on deep within him and he remembered the LORD.  He remembered His Word.  He remembered His promises.  He remembered His love for His people.  He remembered His faithfulness.  He remembered His covenant.  He remembered just how great a God he served!  When he ran from God he forgot about all the wonders of God in his selfish pursuit, but now he remembers.

That remembering led to a heart that was ready to seek God in prayer.  He wrote, “My prayer came in unto thee, into thy holy temple.”  When he cried out to God, his very cry reached the presence of God.  God was listening.  Sincere prayer reaches the ears of God.  Although he had many opportunities to pray prior to being in the fish, the sincerity of his heart is now more real than ever as he reaches out to God in prayer.

The truth of the Bible is, God hears, but don’t wait until your situation is so desperate that you are at the point where you have no other choice than to pray.  God is available with a listening ear at all times.

Martin Luther is quoted as saying, “To be a Christian without prayer is no more possible than to be alive without breathing.” Why is that? Because as breath is with the body, with each inhale and exhale, one’s life is sustained, so is the prayer line that fosters that interpersonal relationship between God and man. It is not only life-sustaining, but it is soul-sustaining, keeping that glorious love connection between the two open and flowing.  And, as Jonah felt the time of his last breath drawing nearer, he then sought to reconnect with God once more through prayer, and he believed his prayer was heard.  When we call out to God we too can believe that our prayers are heard, if we also have a sincere heart.

Prayer should never be our last go-to, get-out-of-whatever situation-free card.  Prayer keeps us in holy connection with our holy Father.  Open the lines of prayer in your life today.  Do not wait for a more opportune time, or for an event that makes you fall to your knees.

Make no mistake, the Bible repeatedly tells us that God hears those desperate, urgent cries (Psalm 34:6; 39:7-8; 50:15), and I for one am so thankful He does.  But our heavenly Father wants to hear from you now, in a consistent, daily walk of fellowship through prayer.

Keep God before your face and your heart in prayer.  Foster that love line in your life and it may keep you out of some nasty situations.

“Seek the Lord and his strength, seek his face continually.” 1 Chronicles 16:11

“When thou saidst, Seek ye my face; my heart said unto thee, Thy face, LORD, will I seek.” Psalm 27:8

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