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Archive for the tag “faith”

The Word for Today

Have you ever noticed after a major event – whether it’s unprecedented weather, the solar events of late or even the death of Billy Graham – people voice their belief that Jesus is coming very soon? Anne Graham Lotz, Billy Graham’s daughter, spoke at her Daddy’s funeral about Jesus returning very soon. She talked about the day of Billy’s death related to the death of Moses. The actual day is significant in Jewish history as the day when Moses was taken to heaven (7th of Adar). Moses was taken to heaven before he was allowed to enter the Promised Land. However, he led God’s people to the very edge. Joshua was chosen to lead Israel into the Promised Land after the people mourned for Moses.

It’s interesting to hear Anne’s take on this. If Billy’s death is significant and reflects Moses’ death, then who would bring God’s people into the Promised Land? Who is the modern-day Joshua? It’s interesting to consider the name of Jesus – it’s the Greek form for Joshua. Well then, maybe we are really close to that time. Great! But if we still have to go through the desert for a few more years, then we need to buckle up and be ready to ride the roller coaster that will happen over the next few years.

I don’t know when the Church will be removed from this earth. I do believe it will happen one day, whether I see it from this side of heaven or not. Jesus said it would happen. He said it. I believe it. However, I have been wavering over the whole “pre-Trib/post-Trib” event. I have concluded it really doesn’t matter when it will be. What does matter is the fact we are to be ready regardless of the time of His appearing. We have to be able to endure the hardships until it’s time to meet Jesus face-to-face, whether in death or in the clouds. Only God knows the timing of events, we’re just told to be ready for them. We are told to endure through them so that we will receive our crown of life (James 1:12).

It’s hard not to know the future, what life will bring over these next few years. We might have a vision of how life is supposed to look. I have found though, it’s not always like the vision. Actually, it never looks the same. It’s a matter of trust in God to sort through our desires and refine them to match His desires for us and for His Kingdom. Unfortunately, our plans may have to burn in the fire of God’s refinement before we see anything come to fruition. Just be prepared for it. Trust Him to refine our vision because His plans are the best for us. It will be greater than we could ever ask or imagine.

Maybe this message is just for me. I have trouble enduring any hardship. I typically just quit when it gets too hard. I balk at the first “no” I hear. I turn into the scared little five-year old girl who runs to Mommy or Daddy to take care of the problem. At this time of my life, there is no Mommy or Daddy to run to. Mom died a few years ago and Daddy isn’t able to comprehend my need anymore much less fight for me. However, I have a heavenly Daddy that can take care of any need, any problem, or any fight that I could ever face. Sometimes I forget this though.

Endurance is the key to a greater faith. It’s the purpose of the trial. No matter what we have to get through, we can trust Jesus to lead us to the other side. It’s what He does. We’re called to trust Him in the process. It will always lead us to a better outcome than whatever we expect. No matter if it doesn’t happen as we expect, we are to be faithful in the process. Just do the next thing that Jesus leads us to. Every step has been ordained by God to strengthen us and to make us into who we need to be – who He has envisioned us to be since the foundation of this world. He saw us then and sees us now as that person – complete and fully formed in His image.

So whether or not Jesus is coming back soon, endurance is the word to bring about a greater victory. What a testimony we will have when we finally make it through those pearly gates. I can’t wait to hear yours. It’s going to be epic! The angels are already rejoicing in heaven over the victory Jesus gave us by His blood and we can believe it on this side of heaven. Victory has already been claimed. Endure, my friend. The end is almost here. Wait for it! Don’t quit when it gets tough, it’s just the beginning of something greater. Okay, I needed that; I hope you did too!

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. James 1:2-4

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The Passing

Ever since I heard of Billy Graham’s change of address – his words he hasn’t died but changed addresses; I have been moved to tears with many of the testimonies on the wide world web. His impact cannot be denied.

Although he wasn’t instrumental in my “Just as I am” moment (my local pastor was), Dr. Graham (or Billy as he like to be called) did impact me too. He was part of my spiritual journey. When his events were televised, I listened with my parents; sometimes under compulsion, sometimes with great interest. When Billy had an event in my town, I went and sat on the steps – disregarding fire regulations and the ushers. I don’t remember a word that was said. But I remember the feeling of being in something significant. Many lives were being changed in that moment of time.

I think I am most sad today that it is a passing that will most likely never be matched again. World leaders will die and be honored in such a way that will match the magnitude of what we witness next week. However, there is something so much more significant in what we will observe with his passing. One last time, we will witness something significant. We may not understand it in the moment, but I believe when we look back we will recognize this moment – it will be a hinge moment in our history. It will be a significant passing.

God chose this hour for Billy’s passing from this life to his eternal life. I think it is very significant in the greater picture. I think our nation is in that moment when people are seeking something greater. They say Billy reached millions for Jesus Christ. I totally agree with it. But what I have been wondering about the aftermath of the crusades. The ones who received that glorious gift in those events, did they go on to be discipled in the way of Jesus’ teaching? Maybe, maybe not. I can’t say.

My prayer is for the next week, those people who were not discipled will remember the moment they heard Billy’s message will respond once again in his passing. They have to wonder if what they have is real as it was for Billy. And they will start seeking once again.

I am praying for such an outpouring of the Holy Spirit that anyone who has heard the message in their lives, that they will respond to the Holy Spirit’s prompting – whatever that prompting maybe. Change of heart; change of lifestyle; removing any obstacle that is breaking the fellowship with Jesus; anything that will hinder the Good News in their lives so that they can live more authentically with Jesus.

They say Billy was a humble man. They say he was authentic at home as he was on stage. He raised good kids who all have championed the call of Jesus Christ. I have read that he prayed continually and kept an open Bible close by so that anytime he passed by he would read a verse or two, a chapter or two or stay in it for an hour or two. He was dedicated to knowing this Jesus whom he proclaimed as Lord and Savior for whosoever – all; no distinction of color, race, gender or nationality.

Many are calling Billy the modern-day Apostle Paul. Paul was greatly used by God to reach the known world for Jesus – in Paul’s time, but also in ours. Billy has been said to have reached millions, more than any other pastor in history. There have been many in generations who led great awakenings and carried the Word to the masses. They didn’t have all the technology advances to do everything that Billy did in his lifetime. I wonder how Billy stacks up to the rest of those who have done great things. But then again, does it really matter? God can use anybody at anytime to do such things – greater things than anyone could imagine; even Billy said he had no idea what God had in store for him.

The difference in these men (and women) of faith who did these things was that they were available. That’s all God is asking of us. Be available to be used. Just say yes. Billy’s passing isn’t the end of the era of those great things. It’s just another opportunity for someone else to step into the void and be the useful tool in God’s hands. Who is it going to be? If there is another great awakening in this land, then someone needs to stand in the gap. Is it you? Is it me? Is it all of us doing our part? Yes, to it all. It’s reaching across the fence to the one on the other side to share what Jesus has done in each of us. People want to know if this Jesus is real. Tell them the story. You have one. Me too. Maybe it’s the time when you were at the Billy Graham crusade and met Jesus there.

Billy’s faith became sight on February 21. And we can have the same confidence that Billy had. We can also discover this Jesus for ourselves in His Word, just like Billy. The difference is – will we take the time to discover these things or just pass them off – save it for later in life? We just never know when life will change in a heartbeat and we discover Jesus is for real when it’s too late to choose. The choice is here and now, not when we get to heaven. Billy left us with a reminder that Jesus is for all “just as I am.”

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” Jeremiah 29:11-13

Pressing In

Several years ago, I realized I needed to make a move before I was in the age of unemployable; but I didn’t make the move. Like the times before when I have made a move, I stayed in the job until I became dissatisfied and restless. When the restlessness settled in, I jumped into something new. I didn’t know how I was going to make it on my own, but I felt that God was with me in it. And He was, just not the way I envisioned it.

It’s been seven years ago this month since I made the move to try this new thing. The new thing is no longer new or deemed feasible for my long-term progress. So here I am in this age of unemployable where I didn’t want to be. Is God doing something in this season? Yes, but it’s going to be different from what I envision – it’s just His way.

Over the last few weeks, I have been pressing more into God. I am learning how to pray more effectively or at least pressing into the desperation more and praying for God to move. At times, the lack of faith is evident with a certain downcast spirit. A feeling of defeat settles on me, which is not from God.

The feeling of defeat is none other than the enemy trying to devouring me. The enemy looks for those types of opportunities when the faith is weak and the opportunity to trust God is great. It’s the perfect set up for God, but also the perfect set up for the enemy to cast us into worry.

Speaking of worry, Dr. Tony Evans had a message on how to reverse anxiety. He said that worry is a sin. Worry means we are “torn into” – it shows we are torn between two masters and we cannot serve both. Worry actually shows our lack of faith in our great God. The passage in Matthew 6:25-34 gives us Jesus’ take on worry. The “worry” teaching comes right after the “money” teaching. Jesus told His disciples that life is more than food and clothes. He said to look at nature and see that nature doesn’t worry about the things we wring our hands over. The birds always get the worms. They always find twigs for nests. The lilies of the field receive sunshine and rain. God gives them exactly what they need to survive.

Why do we worry? God knows what we need. If He provides in nature, why don’t we think He will provide for us, who He loves more than the birds and the flowers? Jesus said to seek first his kingdom and his righteousness and all these things will be given to you as well.

Dr. Evans said that trouble in our lives is our opportunity for God to show up. This is the season to press harder into God’s loving embrace. Dr. Evans said that God doesn’t give us tomorrow’s mercy today. There are new mercies every day. God is faithful in today. We are not guaranteed tomorrow. So for today, this is the day to remember God’s faithfulness. He has been faithful in the past, so why would He change today? He doesn’t. He is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. He is never late. Nothing is a surprise either. I may have not seen this season coming, but He did.

I usually do not worry. I usually have more faith. Sometimes though, worry creeps in until I can get a hold of God’s promises. Once I get with God, He will reassure me and I find peace once again. This season will be a defining season for me – it will be a faith building exercise. It’s not the end of my story. God’s pen is still poised to write a greater testimony for me. I can’t wait to see how He will show up and show off. I can’t wait to sit down and write what He is doing. Right now, I am praising Him for the opportunity and for the provision for today. I am rejoicing that God is still on His throne and He still has His eyes on me.

Dr. Evans stated: God is in His rightful place; He is not reacting to us, but we need to react to Him. If God is moving, then we need to move with Him. We need to see the opportunities as they come. It means we keep our faith in Him but also do our part. God has me in the right place to learn a new lesson and I will write the testimony of God’s greatness. However, I wouldn’t mind if the prayer warriors reading this would help me pray about these matters.

In Mark Batterson’s Draw the Circle 40 day prayer challenge he wrote that we need to share our testimonies of how God moves in our lives during our rough spots. We need to share it because others need to hear it. Mark wrote that if God did it for them, He might just do it for me. So testimonies are fuel for our faith. Let’s spark some fire in our souls; watch God work through us and give Him a shout of praise! Amen!

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:4-7

Persist with Joy!

So the message this past weekend was to count it all joy. All the struggles, trials and tribulations are for a reason. God wants to take us from Point A to B – from where we are to where we need to be. He is developing in us a greater faith. Faith always has to be put to the test. Heaven is for the faith-filled believers; the ones who endured to the end. We never like to go through the storms in life. We are so anxious to get out of them before we learn the lessons. But Book of James tells us to stay the course and count it as joy. The testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything (James 1:3-4).

In my readings this past week, I learned of the Wright Brothers tenacity. I read of the struggles in Auschwitz through Viktor E. Frankel’s Man’s Search for Meaning. And in The Greatest Salesman in the World, I am contemplating “persist until you succeed.” The theme this week is persistence or perseverance. You never know when the next step will lead you to the promise. It’s always right before you. The trouble is we give up before we find the answer. It’s always just around the bend.

I was intrigued by the Wright brothers’ determination to fly. It was all they thought about. They persisted until they succeeded. They went through many years of tweaking their design until it proved right through all their experiments. Time after time, they focused on getting it right. If this worked this time, how can it be made better for the next version? During that same time, many others tried to develop plans for an airplane. Some were close, but they weren’t close enough; they never sustained flight. The Wright brothers focused on the birds. They saw how a bird used their wings to fly. The brothers worked their designs in accordance to how nature works, and the airplane came to be in a very simplistic manner.

Viktor E. Frankel’s book gives his account of the struggles behind the walls of the concentration camp. As I was reading about his fight to live, I wondered if the lucky ones were the ones who were taken to the gas chamber right away. They didn’t have to endure the harshness and horrendous circumstances in the camp. In his account, Viktor wrote about the ones who lost hope and gave up. They died right before liberation came. Viktor lived for three years behind those walls; barely surviving on very little food – a small bit of bread and watery “soup” each day. They worked in snow and ice with no gloves or coats to keep them warm. Some had shoes with no laces or no shoes at all. I am reminded of the depravity of man when man has no soul. But Viktor survived; he made it to the end of the war and saw liberation day.

We are told in 2 Timothy 4:7, Paul fought the good fight; he finished his race and kept the faith until the end. Paul lived a life of testing. He endured the beatings, the shipwrecks, and various hardships. He stayed the course. After his conversion, Paul was told all that he must suffer for the sake of the Gospel. And he did it. He was the man for that hour – to get the message rolling through the known world. His tenacity brought the message to you and me. He introduced the Gospel message to the Middle East, Asia and Europe. And it spread like fire. He fought the fight so that we could keep it to ourselves. No, that’s not right. He did his work so that we could do ours.

We have our own battles to fight. We have our own hour to shine for Jesus. Our faith needs to be pure. It has to be tested and made sure. Like the refiners fire, the dross needs to be removed so that our faith is purified. When we suffer, we actually identify with Jesus. He took on our sin and shame and endured the cross for us. He suffered for us. So we shouldn’t be surprised when we too have to suffer in this life. It will either draw us closer to Him or it will drive us away. This is the testing of our “soils” to see if we have good soil or the word was sown in rocky soil; when persecution comes, we fall away. Faith has to be sifted. The rocks have to be removed. It’s the only way to know for sure where we stand. When we endure until the end, we succeed in obtaining the crown of righteousness. When we count our trials as joy, we keep the end in mind – the crown will one day be ours, if we persist. So, persist; it builds character in us and gives us the hope for liberation day. It’s coming – count it as joy!

Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance, perseverance, character; and character, hope. Romans 5:3-4

In the Center

In my last newsletter, I sent out a challenge to the readers – to grow in godliness in 2015. I like to encourage them in their health goals. However, I realized most people know how to get healthy, but they just don’t do it. One of the things we need in order to obtain any goals is self-control or discipline. Maybe the area that needs work is our health or maybe its finances or even to help grow in our spiritual life. All these things though require discipline or self-control. Those of us who have the Holy Spirit in us already have everything we need to accomplish our goals. We are given self-control as a fruit of the Spirit. But why don’t we see greater success in our yearly “resolutions?” We give up way before we accomplish many of our goals in life. In my opinion, we just don’t allow the Holy Spirit to work in us to become the men and women God has created us to be.

One of the things I would like to accomplish in 2015 is to memorize scripture. I am terrible in this discipline. I can memorize numbers without really thinking too hard on them, but words are hard for me. I would also like to grow in my spiritual life. Each year I want to see a difference over the previous year. I know I cannot become the woman God has designed me to be staying the same each year. I don’t know if I particularly like how God grows us though. God likes to take us through those difficult places in order to grow. God takes us through them – He does not leave us there! There is always another valley to cross; another storm to conquer; another pit to climb out of. But it’s always with the help of Jesus and His Spirit that gives us a way out.

I want to be in the place God wants me to be in order to grow. As Pastor Steven Furtick (Elevation Church) explained in his New Year’s Eve message (on Genesis 26), we need to be able to get into the “flow” of the Holy Spirit. We might have to dig out a few wells to be able to let the water flow again. There may be areas in our lives that block the Holy Spirit from working in us. This is something that needs to be examined closely and let the Holy Spirit reveal those blockages. Last year, I know the Holy Spirit was working on my blocked wells. I had some digging out to do. I am not finished with the process, but I am much further along than I was. I want 2015 to be successful in God’s way. I don’t know what that looks like right now, but this is something that I want Him to reveal to me. I don’t need more information – I need more revelation!

One of the points the Pastor made was “we cannot fulfill our calling in our comfort zone.” We need the challenge in order to grow. Muscles are only developed when they are stressed. Faith is grown when we take risks; when we are in that uncomfortable place. The enemy would love to block the flow of the Holy Spirit so that we will not accomplish what God has in mind for us. We let the enemy win when we fold too easily! I want endurance. I want security in His presence with me in the battles. Do I really want to grow if that means God is going to place me in those difficult battles? Do I really mean what I am asking God for – His will to be done? The amazing thing is when I am finished with the battle, I will see His blessing. I will see God’s glory in it. It will be worth it in the end.

One of the verses that I really want to memorize is Isaiah 41:10. This verse was given to me a few years ago. God was beginning a new path for me, and He gave me this verse. This verse also encouraged my Mom when she was facing her battle with cancer. I know that God has a plan in all that we face in this coming year. And it’s very comforting to know that God goes with us and helps us in the middle of whatever we’re facing. We will be in the center of His flow when the wells are dug out, and the Holy Spirit is working through us in those difficulties – it’s for our good and for God’s glory!

So do not fear, for I am with you;
do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. Isaiah 41:10

God’s Gift

Christmas is here. Wow – how did it come so fast? Are you prepared? In Galatians we are told in 4:4 that when the time had fully come Jesus was born. God gave us the greatest gift we could ever ask for. He gave us His Son in human flesh so that we could come to know the Father. Revelation of Jesus changes the way we view our image of God. I must admit I have a rather small view of God sometimes. I don’t normally worry, but there are times when worry creeps up on me. In that case I am not trusting God. I must not believe God can handle my problems. In truth, I have a heart problem. The thing about our hearts is that we follow the thing that has our hearts. I have recently heard several sermons on the matter of worship. We are made to worship something. Worship is a response to revelation. Worship is the overflow of our hearts. The Christmas story is full of responding to the message with worship.

Mary responded to the angel in humility (Luke 1:38). She responded to Elizabeth with a song of praise, rejoicing and glorifying God (Luke 1:46-47).

Elizabeth, who was pregnant with John the Baptist, heard Mary’s voice and responded in a loud voice of praise for the one who was carrying her Lord (Luke 1:42). The baby John leapt for joy in Elizabeth’s womb at the sound of Mary’s voice (Luke 1:44).

The shepherds who were given the announcement of Jesus’ birth went to see Jesus and returned glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen (Luke 2:20).

Simeon who had been waiting on God’s promise to be fulfilled, took Jesus in his arms and praised God for the salvation of Israel and the light for the Gentiles had been kept true to the promise (Luke 2:28).

The wise men traveled great distances to find Jesus. They were overjoyed to find the exact location of Jesus and bowed down to worship Him (Matthew 2:11). They brought their best for Him and presented their treasures to Him.

God gave us such a wonderful gift in Jesus. What could we possible give Him in return? What does He want for His birthday gift? I can only imagine it would be our praise and worship of Him. It would be our heart full of joy and gratitude for the wonderful things we have seen and heard. After all, what else could we possibly give to the One who created everything? All our works are nothing in comparison to what He has already done. Nothing has been accomplished that magnifies God’s glory like the life of Jesus. But is worship enough for God? Shouldn’t we be doing something for Him too? I think it all begins with the proper respect for a glorious God who loved us enough to send His one and only Son to save us from our sins (John 3:16). When we get the right perspective, everything flows from that response to what God has revealed to us.

Pastor Jimmy Carroll (Journey Church) said about worship “the greater our perception of God, the greater our worship.” We cannot in our own natural response worship God the way we should. It is a supernatural response. He is the source of our worship. Louie Giglio (Passion City) said that the cross is the epicenter of worship. When we get the perspective that Jesus came to die for our sins – to bear our cross – then we will understand true worship comes at the point of the cross. When our hearts fully understand the sacrifice Jesus made for us so that we could have eternal life with the Father, we will finally be able to worship God. God’s gift of Jesus should be received with great joy – our hearts leap within us for our salvation has come!

And all of this is a gift from God, who brought us back to himself through Christ. And God has given us this task of reconciling people to him. For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them. And he gave us this wonderful message of reconciliation. 2 Corinthians 5:18-19

Liar, Liar

Have you ever told a lie? Has someone ever told you a lie? You might have answer yes to both of those. I know I did. But what’s worse is we believe the lies we tell ourselves. Last week, I mentioned the movie Frozen and the famous song. The icy queen tells a big fat lie in that song – well, I think it was a lie she told to her own heart. She sang that she was going to “let it go” and she sang she liked the cold anyway. Personally, I get it; we make excuses that we can believe so that we can live with the decisions we make. She was hurt, lost and alone. The decision seemed like a good one at the time. And she believed it was for the best. But was it really?

I am leading a group of women through the Daniel Plan (by Rick Warren). In session four, Dr. Daniel Amen speaks about how the thoughts we have affect our health (physical, spiritual and emotionally). His point was to capture those thoughts and ask – “Is this the truth?” If it’s not the truth, then let it go. (I know; I am carrying this song way too far.) The thoughts we have can harm us. Dr. Amen is a brain specialist. He says there are chemical reactions to our thought life. When we have positive thoughts, the chemical release is a feeling of pleasure. The negative thoughts are toxic. How true is that? Negativity kills our good moods!

How many times do we hear something over and over and start to believe it’s the truth? Scripture tells us that Satan is the father of lies. He is speaking his native tongue. Why do we let him speak to us in his own language? Why do we believe him? I think it’s because we don’t recognize the truth of God’s word to be The Truth. We are to think of the things that are noble, right, pure, lovely, and admirable (Philippians 4:8). These are the things we are supposed to capture, not the things that keep us bound up in that negative place. The verse before this one, says that the peace of God will guard our hearts and minds for those of us who are in Christ. I love the picture of putting on the helmet of salvation – part of the armor that God gives us to protect our thoughts.

I don’t know who coined the term, but we need to get rid of our stickin’ thinkin’! We need to dismiss those lies that we hear in our hearts. Our own hearts will lead us astray. Our hearts will deceive us. That’s just hard to believe, but it’s true. I can look back over my past and see where heart has told me something that I believed for years. I didn’t reconcile it to the word of God. God said He made us in His image. However, we can believe aren’t worthy. We can believe we are bad people because of all the things we have done and said. There maybe things in our past that is bad. But the truth is: that God sent His Son for us even when we were so far from Him. God said He loved us, even when we don’t love Him.

I remember being in a bar (in my drinking days) and a total stranger came up to me and told me how beautiful I was. I laughed and everyone around me laughed at the drunken woman. A few days later, I was in another bar in another town, and a man did the same thing. This time, I was the only one who heard it. I was taken aback. I don’t remember what else was going on at that time in my life, but I was far away from God. I think that was God using them to tell me He loved me even when I was far from Him. He saw me as beautiful even when I couldn’t have been further from the truth of it. He never moved; I did. And when I turned around, He was right there waiting on me.

He loves us; He never lies to us. We just need to believe in His love. And He will never lead us to wrong thinking. Capture any thought that does not reflect His truth and dismiss it as a lie from our enemy.

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. Romans 12:2

Saturday

I am writing this on Saturday between Good Friday and Easter Sunday. The day when nothing happened. The day between fear and faith. During my quiet time, I thought about the disciples locked in their houses living in fear. Jesus was gone. I am sure they didn’t understand what was taking place. They had yet to receive the Holy Spirit; they didn’t yet have the understanding so they were still clueless on this day. They didn’t have the whole story at that point, even though it was foretold in Scripture and even Jesus said it on numerous occasions – I will be raised to life on the third day. But in the midst of their grief and their fear, they didn’t remember all the teachings of Jesus. No one had written it down yet. Here they are shut up and worked up.

I can look at Scriptures and wonder how the disciples missed it, but I am too much like them. I live in those Saturday times between fear and faith. When fear overtakes my understanding of what Jesus has taught me. When my faith is still weak, and I can’t see a thing. I know – faith is not by sight. I understand it but in the midst of the circumstances, I just don’t seem to have that full faith that Sunday is coming. Jesus said it so I should believe it. The disciples ran away. Me too, at times. The disciples had to see for themselves in a few hours that Jesus wasn’t in that tomb; what He said is true. He is alive. He has risen. But on this Saturday, the darkness is still there.

I think on this particular Saturday morning, the skies are overcast and the rain has been hit or miss, I have the sense with anticipation of a new beginning even when it doesn’t look like it right now. I think of the promises of God that are yet to be fulfilled. Yesterday, I was reading Revelation 22. It is the hope of what is to come. Jesus said in Revelation 22, “I am coming back.” He said it three times in that chapter alone. It hasn’t happened yet. It’s still Saturday waiting on the promise to be fulfilled. Three times is significant. I have the hope of that coming. I have faith that will become sight one day. I don’t know if it will happen in my lifetime or not, but either way, I will see it one day!

On that day, Sunday will be glorious just as it was when the disciples laid eyes on their risen Savior. Can you imagine the joy they experienced when they saw Him for the first time? Can you imagine seeing the nail scarred hands? Can you imagine looking in His eyes and seeing the love that must have been evident? What a glorious day when we too will see those nail scarred hands! What a glorious day when we look into His eyes and see the love that is meant for all people but His focus is on each one of us. But on this Saturday, why wait until Sunday to believe in the promise? I think we should live in anticipation of it. We should live in faith and celebrate it now. His love endures forever – even now when the rain is falling, and the skies look bleak. His eyes are focused on us, His beloved. Fear nothing. God is good and keeps His promises. Yes, Jesus is coming back. Praise the Holy One of God, the One who died for all. And praise the One who defeated death for all who believe in Him!

Jesus went on to say, “In a little while you will see me no more, and then after a little while you will see me.” “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:16,33

Finished!

Jesus said it from the cross – (it is) Finished! Even in the smallest details, God spoke it and it was done. From the very beginning, God spoke and what was spoken was done – the stars, the heavens, the seas, and everything in between. Nothing is outside the tip of His finest paintbrush. He painted the picture of Jesus Christ through His every Word, and He became all that was spoken. Every detail is painted by the Master, but most fail to see His hand. Most of us are too blind to see. Most of us are dead to live freely. But Jesus said – it’s finished. Nothing else needs to be done. He died so that we could see. He died so that we could have life. All it takes is for us to believe it and receive it freely.

He paid the price and became the substitute for me. It was my death and your death that He took on. Jesus bridged the gap between us and God. Nothing we could ever do would get us into the presence of God. The religious activities wouldn’t do it. Our wills as weak or as strong as they could be won’t do it. Even our good deeds will not get us to the point of holiness and righteousness that is acceptable to God. Through Jesus, it’s done. I believe therefore, I have the righteousness, and I have the holiness. But it’s not because of me; it’s because of Jesus.

I have believed this for many years and sometimes I forget that even today, He died for the sins I committed yesterday. I forget all that I have done in my past that put Jesus on my cross. Every day, I am told to surrender and take up my cross. But sometimes I forget that I must do this so that I may be His hands and feet in this community. Yes, I am forgiven even for the sins I committed yesterday and today. Yes, I am no longer condemned. Yes, I am His child. Easter is for us to remember all Jesus has done for us and will do through us when we receive that free gift. Easter is a time to be grateful and acknowledge His love for us by His sacrifice on the cross.

Easter reminds me to come bending low at the foot of the cross and receive the gift of life for today. This is the day that the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it! What God spoke into existence is still being fulfilled. Jesus finished His work here, but we still have much work to be done. What God started will be completed until the day of Jesus’ returning. How do I know that Jesus will return? Because God spoke and said it will be done. Jesus told us He is coming back (three times in Revelation 22). And on that Day, when I bend low at His feet, He will raise me up and say well done. Not because of me, but because of His work in me. What God started in me, will be finished. I may not look like I am done yet because I am not. I am still a work in progress; I still fail miserably and God still forgives me. God has the finest paintbrush still in His hands. Even the little details, which I don’t know yet, God does. God said it, and I know it will be done! The cross bridged the gap for us! Believe it and receive the free gift – it’s paid for by Jesus!

This is the message we heard from Jesus and now declare to you: God is light, and there is no darkness in him at all. So we are lying if we say we have fellowship with God but go on living in spiritual darkness; we are not practicing the truth. But if we are living in the light, as God is in the light, then we have fellowship with each other, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, cleanses us from all sin. 1 John 1:5-7 (NLT)

The Warnings

A couple of weeks ago, I started reading a book called The Harbinger by Jonathan Cahn. I started one afternoon and couldn’t put the book down (or close the laptop as the case may be). I read it until I got through all the nine harbingers. The book concerns the 9/11 devastation and the aftermath. The story is written as fiction but reveals the facts of the 9/11 attacks. The book basically states America is under God’s judgment. God used the attacks on 9/11 as His warning to us before judgment comes.

Soon after the attacks, I remember thinking – whether this was revelation from the Holy Spirit, I don’t know  – I believed God’s hand was taken off of America temporarily; the hedge of protection was dropped briefly. I also remember hearing the news then Senator John Edwards gave a speech on the anniversary of 9/11 in 2004; he wanted to offer the country “hope” through the Scripture found in Isaiah 9:10. The Scripture is actually foretelling the destruction of Israel. He was not the only one though that used this same Scripture. The Speaker of the House used it as well the day after 9/11. According to the book, all the prophecies mentioned in the Scripture have come true for America. The Scripture was spoken over Israel in Isaiah’s time. According to the author, with the ones who spoke the Scripture connected America to the same judgment.

Was this God’s warning of coming judgment for America? I don’t know; time will tell. But this I do know, we have not heeded any warnings to correct our course. I stopped reading to go to bed after the nine harbingers. The next morning I began on the “second” warning. As I was reading I began to get a little anxious. The night before, I hadn’t been anxious because everything had already taken place. The more I was reading about the next warning, the more I realized there could be another major “shake” in our future. I stopped reading for lunch. I put aside any anxious thoughts. I sat down with my lunch and tuned into a sermon. The sermon was on fear. The sermon was on focus, faith and fear. Where we put our focus will either cause our faith to grow or our fear to grow. Fear says “what if” but faith says “even if.” Even if something bad happens, God has already said “He will never leave me or forsake me.” Where is my focus?

One thing I know for sure, my financial picture does not make me secure. God has been working on this concept for the last three years with me. When I was anxious about the future possibilities, I realized I was looking again at the concept of my financial security being shaken again. Do I sell everything and hide in a cave? Or do I face these uncertain times with faith that God will get me through it once again? Even if I lose everything, God is my security. He is my Deliverer. We might be in for another shake that will expose our true foundations; only God knows the future. But if judgment comes, I am secure in Him. I know where my security lies. My foundation is built on the Rock.

As for everyone who comes to me and hears my words and puts them into practice, I will show you what they are like. They are like a man building a house, who dug down deep and laid the foundation on rock. When a flood came, the torrent struck that house but could not shake it, because it was well-built. But the one who hears my words and does not put them into practice is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. The moment the torrent struck that house, it collapsed and its destruction was complete.” Luke 6:47-49

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