Calvary: A hill worth dying on

Calvary

When I think of the incredible sacrifice that Jesus paid at Calvary, I’m thankful and humbled that He died for me; for my sins.  I know this post is after Easter when we celebrated Jesus’ triumph over sin and death by His resurrection.  I believed and received that same resurrection power in my life when I accepted Jesus as my Savior.  But I go back to the point of “He did it for me”.  It was God’s eternal grace and mercy that received me into His family.  My sins are forgiven.  Praise the Lord.

So why am I blogging today?  It may seem that I understand.  Well, my life experienced a month that shook me.  An entire month when it seemed I had to figure this all out again.  It was a month of medical setbacks and medical miracles.

I spent many hours wondering and praying about the why’s of what I was facing.  I spent a lot of time thinking about the physical stresses on my body and what I would need to do going forward to ensure a life out of the hospital.  I spent time thinking in the physical realm.  I didn’t spend enough time thinking in the spiritual realm.

Jesus went to the cross of Calvary because He knew it was a hill worth dying on.  He knew the mission He was given to save eternity from eternal death.  He knew that there was no other way.  Jesus prays in John, Chapter 17 concerning this.  Jesus prays for all believers.

I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me. And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one: I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me. Father, I desire that they also whom You gave Me may be with Me where I am, that they may behold My glory which You have given Me; for You loved Me before the foundation of the world. O righteous Father! The world has not known You, but I have known You; and these have known that You sent Me. And I have declared to them Your name, and will declare it, that the love with which You loved Me may be in them, and I in them.” (John 17:20-26)

You see it was not only Jesus obedience to His Father, but it was His desire to go to Calvary.  The hill was worth it.  He said it.  “Father, I desire that they also whom You gave Me may be with Me where I am, that they may behold My glory which You have given Me”.  While I was stuck in my physical thoughts, Jesus desired that I understand His eternal perspective.  He cause me to survive the physical, so that He could show me  His eternal plan that included further work and service to Him and to finally rest in His eternal and glorious presence.

No matter what I faced, victory was mine through the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross of Calvary.  Without the Cross there wasn’t victory.  His resurrection power was given to me only after Jesus completed the work of the Cross.  It was a hill worth dying on.

Friend, I don’t know what you are facing.  You may be facing an illness, or you may be dealing with a destructive addiction.  You may need your marriage to be restored or you may need a child to come home.  Whatever you need understand Jesus is ready to bring you victory.  He is ready to see you through whatever you are facing.  It starts with two basic things.  It starts with believing and receiving.

Romans 10:9 says, “that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.”  It is that simple.  Why? Because God’s Word promises this, For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. ” (Romans 10:10)  Let God’s promises take you away from seeing things from a physical perspective and into living with a spiritual perspective.  I am surviving by the grace of God and the resurrection power that lives inside of me.  So can you.

Don’t believe me. Believe God

 

 

 

 

It’s not your time

warehouse

He lay on the cold, concrete floor on what was simply a small mat.  He was brutally and savagely beaten.  He bled and his body ached and he knew his time alive would be short.  Others there simply walked by as if they could not even see him.  He remembers the pain and the blood that was running from him.  He looked at the light and closed his eyes. He knew it was the end.

He remembers hearing their voices and feeling their touches.  They were patting him on the back and embracing his neck.  He heard them say, “He’s here!  Welcome!”  Their voices he remembered and recognized.  They sounded so happy.  He turned around to see who they were.  He saw no one.

A great light and cloud shown around him yet in the cloud there was no form.  Within the cloud there appeared a great hand, reaching towards him.  He tried to grasp the hand but could not.  It was then he heard the voice.  The voice of the One who was in the cloud.  He said, “It is not yet your time.”  The statement shocked him.  The others he heard were now gone.  There were no longer any touches, embraces, or the welcoming sounds of their voices.

He turned and found himself again in the cold warehouse, on the cold floor, lying on the small mat.  There was no one around.  This time he could move.  There was no pain and no  blood.  He was alive.  He stood up and walked away.

“And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers.” (Acts 2:42 NKJV)

Don’t believe me. Believe  God!

 

 

Missed opportunities

Now as He drew near, He saw the city and wept over it, saying, “If you had known, even you, especially in this your day, the things that make for your peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes.” Luke 19:41-42 NKJV

I read this scripture passage and my heart grieves. The triumphant entry of the true King of Kings was not recognized by Jerusalem. They did not know of the time of the visitation of their Messiah. The opportunity for peace had come and Israel said no.

How often do we miss opportunities that God places before us? I don’t have an answer for that question. But I know I’ve missed opportunities to share the truth about Jesus as our King of Kings. You know, when we pray for God to lead us to or give us individuals that need to hear about Jesus; when we ask God to be a lighthouse for Him and to enable us by the Holy Spirit to tell the world about Jesus, do we really understand what we’re asking?

There are two specific times that come to mind where I missed it. I missed my opportunity. They are seared into my memory so that I won’t ever forget them. The first was incredibly sad. The second was incredibly tragic.

Opportunity #1 – I was driving through town one afternoon, headed to an appointment with a pastor at my church. I was a little bit late so I was kind of in a hurry. I was meeting this particular pastor to let her know of my desire to partner with her in an evangelism ministry outreach. So as I was driving, my mind was on the meeting, yet something caught my eye. There standing on a corner of town, by the bus stop was a young lady who may have been 18 or 19 years old. She was wearing all black. Her face was pale and it caused me to see that she was weeping. Black streaks were running down her cheeks. At that instant, the Holy Spirit interrupted the moment and asked me to stop and ask the girl what was the matter. I heard the Holy Spirit as if He were sitting next to me. The traffic light turned green, I continued to drive, and I didn’t stop to ask. I was headed to a meeting on evangelism to tell the world outside of the church walls about Jesus and I didn’t stop. My thoughts were not on this girl’s eternal well-being. My mind was on getting to a meeting. As soon as I entered my pastor’s office, I sat down and began to weep. She asked me what was the matter. I told her I needed to confess to her and to God that I had turned my back on this girl when God gave me the opportunity. I didn’t know the time of His visitation with her. I had missed my opportunity.

Opportunity #2 – At one time I was a successful real estate agent working in our local community and in the tri-county area. I had a very nice office that was provided to me and my relationship with the other agents and brokers was exceptional. Everyone in the office knew that I called Jesus my Savior. Some embraced that knowledge while others just set it aside. There was one particular agent whose name was Tommy. For some reason, I felt Tommy was special and we always had a mutual respect for each other. From almost the first day I met Tommy, the Holy Spirit tugged on my heart to share the truth of Jesus Christ with him. I knew Tommy’s mom really well. She was also a real estate agent and we were friends. So when I began to feel the Holy Spirit prompting me, I thought thank You Lord. This one will be pretty easy. I already knew the family. And I also knew Tommy didn’t know about Jesus. Here is where the tragedy begins. My pride got in the way of where my heart needed to be. I had seen Tommy over and over in the weeks ahead. Each time I told myself I’ll talk to him the next time we see each other. One Monday morning, I came into the office as usual, but something was different. I felt a heaviness. There was sorrow surrounding me. I found out that over the weekend, Tommy had taken his life with a single shot from a gun. Tommy was 19. My whole being felt the grief. Every bone, every cell, every part of my body grieved. I went to Tommy’s wake a few days later and as soon as I entered the room, I began to weep uncontrollably. I hugged his mom and some of his relatives that I knew. I stood against the back wall of the room and continued to weep. The weeping didn’t end at the funeral home. I carried that with me for the next week as I wept each day at home. On Sunday morning, I walked in to my church’s Senior Pastor’s office and asked if he had time to talk with me. He said yes. I think it was because he realized I had been weeping. I asked him if I could address the congregation sometime during his morning message. I didn’t know what his message was, but I knew I had to ask. I told him this story. He said his message was on the opportunities God gives us to share the gospel with the lost. So he gave me time to speak to the congregation. I challenged the congregation to never pass up the opportunities God gives us. Later, I asked forgiveness from some of Tommy’s family who attended to our church that morning for not speaking to him and telling him about Jesus.

Jesus was entering Jerusalem as a proclaimed king but was not recognized as the King of Kings. Even though He was being praised as Hosanna, He knew He would be rejected. As Jesus approached the city, He wept over Jerusalem. By rejecting Him, Israel had chosen the way of judgment. It had missed the day and the moment. To miss Jesus was to miss the time of visitation and face accountability before God. And Jerusalem did.

I’ve grown in my walk with the Lord. God did not take away opportunities to share God’s love and the need for Jesus with others. God forgave me. His mercy has overwhelmed me. His grace has been undeserved and abundant. Will I miss opportunities again? I pray that I don’t. You see, every single person that walks and breathes on this earth is God’s creation and He “desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” (1 Timothy 2:4 NKJV) Let’s not miss it. “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16 NKJV)

Heavenly Father. Thank You for Your mercy and grace. Forgive us Father when we let opportunities to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ with the lost go by the wayside. Help us to discern when those opportunities arise and anoint us by Your Holy Spirit to be obedient to Your call. In Jesus Name. AMEN.

Don’t believe me, believe God!

And He prayed

I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me. And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one: I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me. Father, I desire that they also whom You gave Me may be with Me where I am, that they may behold My glory which You have given Me; for You loved Me before the foundation of the world. O righteous Father! The world has not known You, but I have known You; and these have known that You sent Me. And I have declared to them Your name, and will declare it, that the love with which You loved Me may be in them, and I in them. (John 17:20-26 NKJV)

Jesus knew what was before Him. Every detail from His arrest to the Cross. He knew what He would suffer; all of the pain and agony. But He stopped and prayed. He prayed for “those who will believe in Me through their word”. The word of His disciples. Jesus was praying for His Church. The Church He knew would be established by His shed blood and the power of the Holy Spirit and through the words that would be given to His disciples. Jesus was praying for you and for me. Jesus prayed that “they may be one just as We are one: I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me”. He was praying for His Church, to be one in Christ, so the world would know the Name of Jesus. He saw the greater need.

I’m reminded that my life at one time was headed to eternal suffering and death. I’m reminded of the man whose name was Mark, who set aside what he was facing; his suffering, his cancer, his daily challenges and how he took me by the hands in his office, in the middle of a busy day and prayed for me. And two days later, I’m reminded of when I knelt before Jesus and asked Him to forgive me. The single most important day of my life when I called upon the Name of Jesus and was saved. This man lived out every day demonstrating the love and compassion of Jesus and took time for me because he, too, saw the greater need.

Who will we encounter? What will we need to set aside? Will we demonstrate the love and compassion of Jesus as Mark did for me? Will we see the greater need? Will we pray?

Oh dear Jesus, thank You for praying for us. You knew what You would be facing, but yet again, You set that aside and saw the greater need. You saw those whose lives would be trapped under the burden of sin and You prayed. You prayed that we too, would believe. That we would be one with You. Oh thank You Lord. May others see Jesus in me and know that You love them with an everlasting love and desire for them to call You Savior and spend eternity with You. In Your Holy Name. AMEN

Don’t believe me, believe God!

James 4:7 NKJV – Choose Wisely

Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.

Submission requires a willing act of accepting the authority of God over all things. We must remember that we are under God’s authority whether we submit to it or not. The word “submit” means “to obey”. God is in control of all things. All things. The world may lead people to believe that they have the power to “change the world”. But that’s just not something I believe.

Now don’t get me wrong. We live in the world and have certain responsibilities to do certain things. Like obey the laws of the land. We have freedom of choice. God gives us that choice. We can choose wisely or not so wisely. Either way with every choicce there will be consequences. The Bible is clear about choosing – The Blessing or The Curse.

“See, I have set before you today life and good, death and evil, in that I command you today to love the Lord your God, to walk in His ways, and to keep His commandments, His statutes, and His judgments, that you may live and multiply; and the Lord your God will bless you in the land which you go to possess. But if your heart turns away so that you do not hear, and are drawn away, and worship other gods and serve them, I announce to you today that you shall surely perish; you shall not prolong your days in the land which you cross over the Jordan to go in and possess. I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live;” (Deuteronomy 30:15-19 NKJV)

I’ll get right to the point. The day begins with choices. Do I choose to pray or not to pray? I choose to pray because I want to start the day in conversation with God. In the morning, when I wake up, I pray and ask God to guide me to make the right choices. That everything I do or say gives honor and glory to Him. I’m looking to God to help me to “choose wisely”. The choices we make can affect our lives eternally. The choices we make can and will affect those around us. A good friend once told me, “We don’t have time for God because we choose not to. There are plenty of opportunities during our day to give God the time He deserves. Make a change!” I say, “AMEN!”

The world would want you to choose the world’s ways. The world would want you to live your own life. You’re in control. Just do it!!! The enemy would want you to believe that. The enemy would want you to make the wrong choices. But if we submit to the things of God and resist the enemy, he will flee from us. Read James 4:7.

Dear Lord. You have given us a free will to choose. Help us to make the choices that honor You. Help us to discern the schemes of the enemy and of this world which lead us to destruction. Pour out Your protection over us when the enemy comes to steal, kill, and destroy. Lead us back to Your Word and the Power that resides in it to resist the enemy. Thank You, O Lord for Your mighty hand of protection. May we take the time to pray and seek Your presence. Open up our lives to the blessing of having an intimate relationship to You, Lord. In Jesus Name. AMEN

Don’t believe me, believe God!

John 14:6 NKJV – Which way, what truth, whose life

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.

This is a powerful and strong affirmation that Jesus Christ alone is the way of salvation. To even imagine or proclaim any other way is simply misleading people and forgets the necessity of His coming and redemption. (John 1:4 NKJV)

The world will try to convince us that we can only live as best as we can live and that there is little else we can do. That through our acts of kindness and thoughtfulness to humanity, we can feel secure that we’ve placed our mark on this world. Our legacy rests on being a good and loving person.

Well, that’s one opinion and I simply don’t align with that opinion. My belief rests in the truth and the knowledge of God’s eternal Word that also says, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16 NKJV) Certainly, the attributes of Jesus Christ includes being kind and thoughtful. But if we live a life that relies on just this, without the power of God’s Holy Spirit living in us, we are falling fatally short. The things of this world are temporary. We see proof of that each and every day. It’s called disappointment. It happens every day in the life we lead in this world because the world is flawed.

Do I face disappointment being a believer in Jesus Christ? Yes, I do. But I am never disappointed in Jesus. He is where my strength and my absolute trust lie. It’s the world that disappoints me. People disappoint me. Things disappoint me. But God never disappoints me. That’s a lot to believe for someone who doesn’t have a relationship with Jesus like I do or cannot believe because God just isn’t a part of their life right now. I know how that feels. I was in that place as well. And I was disappointed when I lived outside of Christ. I thought I had it all together, but life and this world disappointed me. I needed to find stability in my life and Jesus brings me that stability. His love and truth and mercy and grace and sustaining strength gives me stability in an unstable and mixed up world. I live in this world, but I am no longer of this world. (1 Corinthians 3:19 NKJV)

How do I keep on keepin on? Prayer. The more I pray, the stronger I become. The more I pray, the more compassionate I become. The more I pray, the wiser I become. The more I pray, the more patient I become. The more I pray, the healthier I become. The more I pray, the happier I become. The more I pray, the more loving I become. The more I pray, the more I prosper. The more I pray, the more clearly I can hear. The more I pray, the more I understand. This list can go on and on. When did I learn to pray? When I chose to put my faith and trust in the blood of Jesus Christ and His saving grace. My point is without Jesus Christ, there is no way.

Nowhere in God’s Holy Word does it say that the way to eternal life is being a good person. Nowhere in God’s Holy Word does it say that the way to eternal life is giving the most to those who need it the most. And it’s in God’s Holy Word that I choose to place my trust. “Jesus answered and said to him, ‘Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” (John 3:3 NKJV)

What or who will you believe? What is your truth? Which way is your way? What or who defines your life? For me, the answer is Jesus. How about you?

Father, thank You for Jesus. Thank You for sending us Your Son to live and suffer and die for us so that in belief of Him we would have eternal life. Forgive us Father when we think that we can control our life. We can do nothing. It’s only in our belief in Jesus and His shed blood on the cross that we can find assurance of our life with You eternally. Draw us Lord unto to You. In Jesus Name. AMEN

Don’t believe me, believe God!

Psalm 100:1-3 NKJV – Make a joyful shout!

Make a joyful shout to the Lord, all you lands! Serve the Lord with gladness; Come before His presence with singing. Know that the Lord, He is God; It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves; We are His people and the sheep of His pasture.

This Psalm is literally a song of praise for the Lord’s faithfulness to His people. Some people have written about this song in other publications and blogs and have called it “The Shouting Psalm”. Praise the Lord. I agree with that! Have I shouted? You bet!!!

When I think about what the Lord has done in my life, joyful shouting sometimes seems to be not enough. Really. God raised me up in spite of myself and set me upon a new life in Him. He took me from the ashes and the deepest of all pits and placed me on a path of joy, peace, service, and favor. My past is my past, but it’s close enough to remember when I wasn’t so happy; when I wasn’t so full of joy; when I wasn’t so blessed.

I’ve said before in previous blogs that, “Life is hard. It’s harder without God.” It’s true. Life in this world is very hard. Without God, I had no hope. With God, I have hope and an understanding that God loves me with an everlasting love and His plan has always been to live with Him in eternity.

Some of you reading this might say, “Well, I just don’t believe that.” It’s your right to have that opinion. I thought the same thing when I was trusting the world to care for me and finding that my options were running out. I thought the same thing when I would find myself hung over or ill because of the abuses on my body. I thought the same thing when I thought I could take my own life and all would be well.

But God had a different plan. He was not finished with me. His ways were not my ways. (Isaiah 55:9) You might be thinking, “Is the God you write about a God who could love me?” The answer is Yes and He does and always will. (Jeremiah 31:3) Or you might think, “Could the God you write about give me the same joy that would cause me to shout?” The answer is Yes and He’s waiting to rejoice with you. (Zephaniah 3:17) God is our shepherd and he cares for each one of His sheep. He will go out searching for the one that is lost and leave the others. (Luke 15:3-5) God is out searching right now.

Friend, what I’ve come to know now is that in Jesus Christ I have life; even abundant life. I can place my full trust in the Lord. God is faithful. I can be content in that understanding no matter what is in front of me or what I am facing.

Dear Lord, Hallelujah and Praise be to God that You are faithful. Thank You for picking me up when I was lost and bringing me into Your family to love me, to care for me, to heal me, to save me. Glory to Your Name. Lord, forgive me when I forget what You’ve done and dwell on my past. Help me Lord to always fix my eyes and heart on You. You are my Lord and I am Your child. I hear Your voice and follow You. Help my friends who might be reading this to turn towards You for their joy. May they understand that You love them with an everlasting love and that You are now searching for them. May they call upon Your Name, Lord, and hear Your voice. Deliver them Lord and give them joy. In Jesus Name. AMEN

Don’t believe me, believe God!