For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. – 1 Corinthians 2:2
Who can understand the mind of a woman? No one aside from God. I think we can all agree on that one, we even confuse ourselves much of the time. The female mind is like a jungle: full of fantastic beauty, yet containing pathways of perilous danger. Today I want to encourage you to block off one particular pathway and to train your thoughts to walk in gospel light.
One of the most dangerous roads we tend to wander down in our minds is the pathway of comparisons. We assume certain things are true about others when they are not. Before we even enter a room of people we have a dozen thoughts zooming into our consciousness. Thoughts of inadequacies and self-doubt, feelings of not measuring up in appearance, intelligence or experience. We assume we are lacking in some serious ways that others are not.
Even in our own homes we are not shielded from the taunts of deception. We assume other women are better mothers, housekeepers and cooks (I mean, just look at their Facebook page). We assume they are loaded with friends and social events when we are often lonely and longing for just one good girlfriend to hang out with. We assume they have it all together while we are struggling to stay sane.
Stop the assumptions, ladies! I’m here to tell you today that you are just not as special as you think you are! One thing I have come to learn about women is that we are most certainly more alike than we are different. We tread very similar pathways and experience what is common to womanhood. Just like Paul said in 1 Corinthians 10:13, “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man.” These deceptive assumptions that we allow (yes, allow) to cross our minds are from our enemy and his aim is our distraction (wow, are we easily distracted). He has been using the same simple play book for decades on us. Why not change up his strategy? Because it works! We fall prey over and over again.
No more. Board up that perilous pathway of thought and walk away from it. Send your thoughts where your all-knowing Father tells you to. He makes it clear in Philippians 4:8, “Finally, brothers [and sisters], whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” Thoughts consumed by what is praise-worthy (the epitome of all of these attributes is Jesus) do not have time to wander off into darkness. They are trained away from darkness and toward light.
I think Paul said it best when he said, “For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.” 1 Corinthians 2:2. When he went to the people of Corinth, he was not consumed with thoughts of his potential inadequacies (what he looked like, what the people would think of him, how he would compare). In some ways he would have been inferior to them and other ways superior, but here is the point…it didn’t matter. Paul didn’t care about any of that. He decided to know only Jesus and what he did on the cross. That was his only concern - to display the gospel. His mind was trained away from petty, earthly concerns and trained onto gospel purposes.
That should be our concern too. Not how we measure up (which is WAY off target to reality anyway) but how we can display the gospel to others. We need to think on Jesus and display him in our actions. Ladies, the next time you feel the coming bombardment of deceptive thoughts (whether in private or public) remember that you no longer take that path, it is off limits. Do not entertain dangerous assumptions leading to pointless comparisons (truly idolatry of others). Refuse to be distracted from your purpose for breathing!
Train your mind to walk in the light of the Word and turn your thoughts onto your true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent and praise-worthy Savior. Decide to know nothing except Jesus Christ and him crucified.
Ladies, have you ever noticed how taking a walk can be an awesome attitude changer? Have you ever been in a bad mood, taken a walk and come home in a much improved state? I sure have. Take along a loved one or a friend and the benefits seem to magically multiply. Along with all the obvious health benefits, this seemingly simple activity can help you focus your thoughts, decrease anxiety, and improve your mood. Why would this be?
When you leave your home and step outside for a walk you are in a great position to enjoy a vast array of God’s blessings: his beautiful creation in the world around you, your body that he made with all of its amazing abilities, and time to commune with him as you leave your busyness behind at home. Time spent enjoying and treasuring God is always an attitude changer. God even sends feel-good chemicals to our brain (endorphins) to let us know this walking thing is a good idea.
Walking is one of my very favorite ways to spend time with a friend. In the past couple years I have had many great walks with close friends as we discuss what is going on in our lives and how God has been working in our hearts. We tell each other of areas where we are struggling and need prayer and we encourage one another to stay in God’s word and in-line with his will for our lives. We even rebuke each other if needed, in a loving way.
I have also gotten to know a few new friends this way. They may not accept an offer to church or a Bible study, but a simple walk around the block or track a few times is hard to turn down. It is very easy to carry on a conversation with someone as you stroll side by side; it is a comfortable environment to share your heart in.
Jesus put many miles on his sandals while on earth. He was walking by the sea of Galilee when he called his first disciples (Matt. 4:18), he walked up and down mountains to teach and pray (Matt. 5:1, John 6:4), he walked from town to town to preach and heal the sick (Matt. 9:35, Mark 10:32), and he took a long walk with a couple of men headed to Emmaus after he was raised from the dead (Luke 24). Jesus knew how to “walk well” and, as with everything, he is our excellent example to follow.
We are told in Deuteronomy 6:6-7, “And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.”
Walking while sharing Christ and discussing his word is an awesome way to proliferate the gospel.
So, Ladies, my enCOURAGEment to you today is simply this… take a hike. Head out your door to enjoy the blessings of God and spend time with him in prayer. Better yet, invite someone to go along with you: a good friend, a neighbor you are too shy to ask to church events, or someone God has laid on your heart to get to know better. Lace’em up, Ladies, and let’s go... and if you ever need a walking buddy, you just give me a call!
Ladies, today I enCOURAGE you to rejoice with me in the fact that we are forgiven. If you have accepted the gift of sacrifice from Jesus Christ your sins have all been paid for long ago. You don’t need a man dressed in black with a white collar or robes or blue jeans to tell you this. The one and only man who walked this earth who could redeem you and pay your penalty did so long ago, job done. Period.
Forgiveness of sins happened at only one point on our human timeline of history and that was on the cross of Jesus Christ years ago. His blood poured out as he consumed the full wrath of his Father (the wrath we deserve), he then gave up his spirit as he declared, “It is finished!” John 19:30. This is the moment when sin died, mission accomplished. Jesus paid for your sins and mine at that exact moment. It is imperative that you understand this if you are a Christian.
Never minimize the sacrifice of our God dying in our place. If you think you can say enough repetitive prayers or do enough good works to earn forgiveness you are gravely mistaken and in attempting to do so, you are spitting in the face of Jesus. How dare you? If his act was lacking than we would have to crucify the Son of God over and over again to accomplish forgiveness multiple times. What a worthless and insufficient god that would be. That is not my God. That is not the God of the Bible.
Women, do not fall prey to a deceived way of thinking. If you have accepted Jesus, have turned from your life of sin, and now live for him, you are forgiven. Your sins have been washed away by the all sufficient blood of Jesus Christ. This is what causes us Christians to love our Savior so much and propels us to worship him with unreserved gratitude.
Is repentance needed? Oh, yes for sure. When your eyes are opened to your ugly sins and see that they are what keep you from a loving God, you will fall on your knees with a contrite heart seeking mercy and forgiveness. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9.
After salvation will we still sin? Yes, to our shame knowing what it cost our Redeemer. It is a true daily battle, but the payment of Jesus still stands good. Once accepted in earnest, all sins have been forgiven.
Ladies, when Jesus died, the veil in the temple that separated the Holy Place from the Most Holy Place (where only the high priest was allowed to go once per year to atone for the sins of the people) was torn in two from top to bottom (Matthew 27:51). No more earthly intercessor needed, full access granted to the mercy of God because of what Jesus did.
“And every priest stands daily at his service, offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, waiting from that time until his enemies should be made a footstool for his feet. For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.” Hebrews 10:11-14.
If you have not yet done so, seek this mercy today and turn to God. If you have received this mercy, you are familiar with the awesomeness of this forgiveness that I speak of. Praise him for it! Your freedom has been granted, walk in the victory that Christ has provided, knowing your debt has been paid in full!
“The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever.” Isaiah 40:8
o The Bible is the story of Jesus. It is God’s plan through time of the redemption of his people through his son’s ultimate sacrifice and victory over death.
o There are 66 different books in the Bible, written by over 40 different human authors. These authors were kings, shepherds, doctors, prophets, fisherman, tax collectors, farmers and more.
o The Bible was written over a time period of more than 1500 years.
o The Bible is divided into two main sections, the Old Testament and the New Testament.
o The Old Testament is the “old covenant” or promise of a coming Savior. It is full of history, laws, stories of kings and judges, poetry, songs of praise and books of wisdom. It also contains writings of the prophets of long ago who foretold the coming Messiah (also called the Christ or Savior).
o The New Testament is the “new covenant” or promise. This new covenant comes because Jesus enters the world as a fulfillment of all of the old prophecies. The new promise is that if we believe in him and accept his gift of payment for our sins on the cross, we become part of his family and can live with him in Heaven someday. He also promises to return to earth soon to judge all people and establish his new Kingdom.
o The first four books of the New Testament are the four gospels (gospel literally means “good news”). They are four stories from four perspectives of the life of Jesus on earth. They are the books of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.
o After these gospels comes the book of Acts (or Acts of the Apostles). This book tells of what happened after Jesus was resurrected from the dead and went back to Heaven. This is the story of the early church, what they did and how the good news of Jesus began to spread across the world. Also about the persecution that began to rage against Christians. You will find much about Peter and Paul in these pages.
o What follows the book of Acts are letters and narratives written by Paul, Peter, James, John, and Jude. These writings expound on why Jesus is the Messiah and how we are to live and act in light of this.
o The final book is a prophetic future account of what will happen in the end times (coming very soon according to the Bible). This is the book of Revelation written by John.
Where do you start? Get to know Jesus. Pick one of the gospels to read first (John may be my favorite, but all are good). Then read Acts and on to Romans. Reading these three books will give you a solid foundation of who Jesus is and what his life, death and resurrection are all about. But after these, do not stop, just keep going!
Why do I trust the Bible? Faith. I have full faith in all the Bible says. This is not blind faith, the scriptures are full of evidence that prove the existence of Jesus and of the events described. Most people are either blind to it, don’t care or are too lazy to open the Bible and see it for themselves. Don’t be one of them; don’t settle for anything less than the truth. Don’t rely on someone else to tell you what it says (even me). Belief is between you and God, pray and ask that he opens your eyes and heart to understand the truth.
How do I know the Bible is accurate? A consistent story of one main character written by a variety of authors (who mostly did not know each other), over a time span of 1500 years. Explain that apart from a Holy Spirit’s divine direction. Also, because the Bible says so. “All scripture is breathed out by God.” 2 Tim 3:16. Once you understand the authority the Bible has as the full and inerrant word of God, there is no other source that we can compare it to. If this isn’t enough walk outside, did all of this creation happen by accident and random chance? “For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.” Romans 1:19-20.
What does the Bible mean for you? Life or death, and the choice is yours to make… “I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Therefore choose life, that you and your offspring may live, loving the Lord your God, obeying his voice and holding fast to him, for he is your life and length of days.” Deuteronomy 30:19-20
Jesus = Life
Above all else, my heart’s desire is that you come to love Jesus. Plain and simple. Yet this has immense eternal significance. Please allow me to walk you through why this is so vitally important and keep in mind, if I didn’t care about you, I wouldn’t waste my time and effort to put this together and give you this gift of God’s Word. How hateful it would be for me to possess the cure for eternal death and not share it with you. Not only the cure for death, but also the only way to experience peace beyond understanding, true joy and full security while on this earth knowing my soul is safe in the hands of a Mighty God who has redeemed me to be his own. So here it is…
God is our Creator, he is holy, perfect and just. In his presence joy, peace, and love abound. Where he is is where Heaven is. In order to be with God we must also be perfectly holy, God will not tolerate anything less in his presence. No sin is allowed.
“Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created.” – Revelation 4:11
“Since it is written, ‘You shall be holy, for I am holy.’” – 1 Peter 1:16
Sin enters the world. The very first man and woman God created (Adam and Eve) chose to sin and rebel against God. Since that moment humankind has continued to sin against God. Have you ever sinned? Have you ever told a lie, lusted, wished evil on someone, envied someone? Then yes, you are a sinner. We all are, me too. When we sin, we are rebelling against God and his rules, we are putting ourselves above him.
“for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” – Romans 3:23
“None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.” – Romans 3:10-13
God will not tolerate sin. God is a loving God, but also a just God. Sin must be dealt with and brought to justice. What does sin cost? Remember sin cannot be present with God. Someone with sin must be removed from God, that place is called Hell. Since we sin, we deserve Hell.
“For the wages of sin is death” – Romans 6:23
“And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment” – Hebrews 9:27
So is there any hope? Yes! That is why the story of Jesus is called the “good news”! The bad news is we are sinners and the price for sin must be paid or God would not be keeping his word. The good news is, because of God’s great love for us, he had a plan all along to redeem us. He sends Jesus, his son, to put on flesh and come to earth. Jesus lives a perfect life, free from any sin at all (read the gospels to check this out). He then offers himself up to his Father as the one who will take the punishment of our sins upon himself. Jesus will pay for our ugly sins, every single one of them.
“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us,” – John 1:14
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.” – John 3:16-17
“For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God,” - 1 Peter 3:18
We can be forgiven and saved from death! God pours his wrath and judgement upon his own perfect son instead of upon us. Though innocent, Jesus dies a horrible death and is crucified on a cross in our place. God’s wrath is satisfied, the debt is now paid in full forevermore… but only for those who accept this sacrificial gift and believe in Jesus. Those who continue to rebel and live life their own way will be separated forever from God.
“But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities;” - Isaiah 53:5
“Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.” – John 3:36
“Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.” – John 3:18
When God calls you to be his own and you chose to believe in him, there is no going back. He replaces your heart of stone with a heart of flesh that beats for him. This becomes evident in your new love for Jesus and in how you live your life for him. There will be noticeable changes in your life. You are a new creation and not the same. You have moved from death to life.
“And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.” – Ezekiel 36:26-27
“He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.” – Colossians 1:13
If this event ever takes place in your life, I want to know it. I want to rejoice with you and praise God with you.
Jesus is alive today. Jesus did not stay dead, after three days in the grave he arose, victorious over death. He ascended into Heaven and sat down at the right hand of his Father God, his work was complete.
“Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live,’” – John 11:25
“But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God,” – Hebrews 10:12
I will be praying that God will open your heart and call you soon. I want you to choose Jesus so badly I will give up anything in my life to see it happen. Call me with questions or to meet to talk. Read about Jesus and make your decision soon.
I write this slightly in jest because I am currently sitting at my computer in my home office in Cascade, Iowa on Friday afternoon. However by the time you read this on Thursday (or after) I will be in Guatemala City, Guatemala serving alongside brothers and sisters in Christ. I have my packing nearly done and am ready to fly out tomorrow morning. The more I think about it the more excited I get.
Guatemala, which is in Central America, was at one time the heart of the ancient Mayan civilization. It is often called “the land of eternal spring”. This translates into us most likely having a very wet experience while there according to the weather report. Guatemala is known for its mountains, active volcanos, and many earthquakes (an average of 3000 per year). It is a geographically rich and captivating place.
I look forward to learning more about the country and experiencing some of its beauty while there, but none of the above is why I go to Guatemala. I also don’t go to have fun, to play with poor children, to hand out toothbrushes or to see poverty first hand. Will I experience some of this while there? Most certainly, but if these activities were my focus and my reason for going I would be sorely misled in my walk with Christ and disappointed in whatever results I was hoping to achieve while there.
The only reason to go on a mission trip is out of obedience to a call God has placed on your heart and in order to proclaim his name through the testimony of the gospel. All we do must be centered on Christ (Colossians 1:16) and for his glory and not our own (1 Corinthians 10:31).
We want to be like those from the church at Macedonia. They were sending gifts to be given to those in need. Paul was commending them to the Corinthians. In 2 Corinthians 8:5 he says, “and this not as we expected, but they gave themselves first to the Lord and then by the will of God to us.” The order is very important here. We must first give ourselves to the Lord, being fully his and at his disposal for usefulness. Then in obedience to him, we give of ourselves to others.
If our focus was to just “do good” the best we could hope for would be to place a Band-Aid on broken hearts headed for destruction. We then would walk away back to our lives of comfort feeling smug about our “goodness”. Our “help” would be fleeting, forgotten and utterly pointless.
However, if we go to share the undiluted, unadulterated, and straight from the Word of God gospel of Truth to those same hurting hearts we can make an eternal difference in their lives. Let me rephrase that, God can use us as conduits of his powerful Word as he changes those hearts into hearts that beat for him for eternity. Then all glory goes to him alone. We return home humbled by what God has allowed us to be a part of, deepening our love for him.
Guatemala is a country with many confused people in it. Many claim to be Christian yet have no idea who Jesus is and what he did for them on the cross. Most have blended Mayan traditions with Catholic practices making for a very unique worship style that is not God-honoring. The Devil has had his way, twisting the word of God and making Guatemalans think they need to earn God’s favor instead of it being a free gift.
This angers me and saddens me. There is only one, true gospel. Jesus proclaimed it himself, “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” John 14:6. Only through Christ can we be redeemed and it is “not a result of works, so that no one may boast” Ephesians 2:9. We go to Guatemala to boast in Christ alone, to point others to his perfect gift of grace. To speak the true gospel of Jesus as Paul did, tolerating no other teaching. “But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed.” Galatians 1:8
We are blessed to be able to share Christ in homes, schools, and garbage dumps while in Guatemala. The team and I appreciate your prayers so much. In doing this you share in what God is doing while we are there.
Ladies, wherever you are, I enCOURAGE you to give yourself fully to the Lord first and then allow him to use you to share the one true gospel with others.
“There are never enough hours in the day!” Ladies, do you find yourself saying that often? I sure do. As if God has given us more work than we are able to complete in the 24 hours he has given us to do it in. Something in our day usually has to give, we simply can’t (or won’t) get everything done. Too often what gets pushed off our schedule is time in the Bible or prayer. By the end of the day we are spent and exhausted and tell ourselves that it just can’t happen today, but maybe with a little luck tomorrow will be better. There is always tomorrow… or next week… or next year…
There is no way around it, you only have 24 hours in a day, that will never change (okay, daylight savings time messes things up twice a year, but it evens out). God is perfect, so how he set up our measure of time and the hours set in a day is also perfect. You don’t need more time. That is not our problem. I fully believe that if we were given 30 hours in a day we would still find ourselves in the same position and asking for more. Do not accuse God of being stingy in his blessing of giving you any time at all.
I believe God desires us to have this sense of limited time, a sense that time is flying by. Why? Well for one, I can feel it every day of my life. I am amazed at how quickly the weeks go by, how fast my children grow, and how the years slip by faster and faster. More importantly, I see it in Scripture. God gives us many reminders of how limited our time here on Earth is. Here are just a couple:
“Yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.” – James 4:14
“O LORD, make me know my end and what is the measure of my days; let me know how fleeting I am!” – Psalms 39:4
Having the knowledge that our earthly time truly is short and purposefully designed that way by God should lead us to some important conclusions.
First, we need to use our time wisely. Ephesians 5:15-17 says, “Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.” Understand the will of God so that you can walk through life in wisdom.
We get this wisdom from God’s Word, so Bible reading needs to be at the top of your list instead of at the bottom. We need to prioritize our days carefully. Some items on our agenda will have to be removed to make room for what is truly important. This could mean forgoing the baseball or softball tournament teams so your family can be in church on Sundays. This may mean getting rid of television so that it is no longer a distraction for you or your family. How you spend your days is how you spend your life, therefore “look carefully then how you walk” as instructed.
Secondly, we need to live for our eternal life not our earthly life. “Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.” – Colossians 3:2. This breath of a life is not worth living for, not worth spending our riches and resources on, not worth giving our soul for. We need to invest all of our treasures in Heaven (Matt. 6:20). We need to spend ourselves on what will last forever. For
Christians, this earth is just a temporary stop before we go to our forever home in Heaven; send your goods on ahead of you instead of hoarding dust here. For non-Christians, this place is as good as you get, dust is as good as you can ever hope for.
Finally, we need to understand that the minutes of our lives are like sand pouring through an hourglass; and we don’t know how much sand we have left. We need to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ to our loved ones and to the nations. This is the work we need to be about (Matt. 28:19). We shouldn’t wait for a better time; there may not be more time. Let the urgency of this affect the way you live each day. Proclaim Christ always.
Let Psalms 90:12 be your prayer, “So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.”
Limited time on earth is truly a great blessing from God. If we belong to him we should long to be with him in glory, not toiling away here on earth. We should yearn to be home. Today I enCOURAGE you to praise God that your days are flying by, praise God that we are but a mist and so very fleeting, praise God that we will be soon be with him in glory! Revelation 22:20 - “’Surely I am coming soon.’ Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!”
This Sunday we celebrate Easter. We will attend egg hunts, church services, and family gatherings. These events are fine, but do we realize the true immensity of what we are celebrating?
Easter is a holy holiday commemorating the resurrection of Jesus Christ from death to life, but how many of us are living as if he is still dead? Do our lives reflect the power of his triumph over sin and death?
This man who was called Jesus lived on this same earth nearly 2000 years ago. He was sinless and perfect because he truly was the Son of God. “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.” John 1:14.
He fulfilled the prophesies of the Old Testament, he was the waited for Messiah. He came to love and to show us how to love. He healed, taught and proclaimed the coming Kingdom of God. Yet the more he loved the more he was hated by the religious rulers of the time. They cared more for their rules, traditions and order than for the truth.
They tried many times to capture Jesus, but he evaded them because it was not yet his hour. Finally, the time had come. Jesus had been eating with his disciples in the upper room, teaching them, washing their feet and preparing them for what was to take place. Jesus led them to the garden of Gethsemane to pray. What did he pray for? For himself, for his disciples, and for you and me. If you are a follower of Jesus Christ you were on his lips that night, read John chapter 17.
The mob came for him, a band of soldiers and officers of the priests ready for a fight carrying “lanterns and torches and weapons. Then Jesus knowing all that would happen to him, came forward and said to them, ‘Whom do you seek?’” John 18:3-4. When told they were there for Jesus of Nazareth, Jesus replied, “’I am he,’ they drew back and fell to the ground.” John 18:7. This detachment of trained soldiers with swords in hand could not even stand in the presence of this holy man Jesus, the power of his word was too much for them to even stay on their feet.
Jesus gave himself up in obedience to the mission given him by his Father. They bound the Son of God and led him off to be judged. After a bogus trial where he was actually found innocent, the Pharisees stirred up the crowd to demand his crucifixion. Pilate finally relented, valuing his physical life over his eternal one.
Jesus suffered greatly as he was ridiculed, tortured, whipped and finally raised above the crowd upon a cross. Held to rough wood by large metal stakes driven through his flesh. He hung, he bled, he died. Why? For you. “But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.” - Isaiah 53:5
There was no other way. Sin has to be paid for, the price is death. We sin, we die, separated from a holy God forever who cannot tolerate sin in his presence. What hope do we have then? Romans 6:23, “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Jesus is our hope, our only way (John 14:6). Jesus stepped in to take our place and died for us. A sinless, perfect sacrifice bearing the wrath of God against the sin of the people, our sin. That was his mission on earth, to pay your penalty and redeem you to be his own.
The lifeless body of Christ was laid in a tomb and sealed, but nothing has power over God. Not soldiers, ropes, a cross, or a sealed tomb. Jesus rose from the dead on the third day just as he told his followers he would. He defeated death and remains alive today and forever.
This is why we celebrate; we have hope of eternal life through Jesus if we accept what he did for us on the cross and fully surrender to his kingship in our lives. This event of death and resurrection was witnessed by hundreds and is recorded in all four gospels: Matthew 27 and 28, Mark 15 and 16, Luke 23 and 24 and John 19 and 20. Don’t take my word for it, read it for yourself. Read it to your children!
The tomb is still empty today; don’t live as if Jesus is still there. He remains alive and is seated at the right hand of his Father God (Luke 22:69). Are you living as if Jesus is King and has full authority? If we belong to God, our lives should reflect this truth.
Happy Easter, I enCOURAGE you to truly celebrate Jesus this weekend. We can be full of hope because the tomb is completely empty!
I have unsaved family members. I assume you do as well. If you are like me, you have prayed for their salvation and have asked others to do the same. We think about them once in a while and pray for them as we shake our heads wondering why they just don’t get it.
Not long ago I was driving down the road, once again praying for my lost family, just nonchalantly mentioning their names to God and I felt myself being frustrated with him for not acting, not showing any movement in their lives at all. What is he waiting for? “Do a work in their heart and save them already!”
You may have learned this (I am often a slow learner), yelling at God to “Do something!” often has a way of backfiring on you. I remember the question coming back at me like a brick. “How serious are you? You barely bow your head as you ask me to move in the lives of the people you say you love. You spend more time and money on your own pleasures than on ministering to those you claim to love. You drink up the Living Waters greedily when those near you are dying of thirst. You say you love my Word, but have not yet put these Words of Life into the hands of those that are lost. YOU tell me to do something? How bad do you really want this?”
I cry even as I type these words. No, God did not speak these words to me, but he was certainly doing heart surgery on me at that moment. He was cutting me deep and it hurt. There is often pain in truth. What work have I done or sacrifices have I made to encourage my lost family toward Christ? Very little.
The apostle Paul was willing to give everything up to save those he loved, even his own salvation! He had “great sorrow and unceasing anguish” in his heart for them. “For I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, my kinsman according to the flesh.” – Romans 9:3. I am so far from this mindset it is sad.
Often times the work that needs to be done before God opens the heart of someone to believe is the work that needs completed in us. Sometimes God tarries in others so that he can teach and refine us first.
I have started to get serious about interceding for my unsaved family who currently stand condemned to Hell (John 3:18). No more sugar coating it. No more avoiding the uncomfortable. They are on the burn list.
My plan involves times of planned prayer, fasting and engaging in more direct conversations. If you want specifics, just ask and I will be glad to share. My husband and I have also committed to getting Bibles into the hands of our family and to provide guidance on how to read it.
You can be sure this involves loads of boldness on our part; am I nervous? Oh my yes, but this is part of the work in my heart that needs done. It goes along with the questions, “How serious are you? How badly do you want it?” To be sure, our wanting does not make it happen, it is only by God’s irresistible grace and his perfect calling, but I will do all I can to be usable by God in this area.
As Charles Spurgeon said, "If sinners will be damned, at least let them leap to hell over our bodies. And if they will perish, let them perish with our arms around their knees, imploring them to stay. If hell must be filled, at least let it be filled in the teeth of our exertions, and let not one go there unwarned and unprayed for.”
If you have loved ones who are walking toward Hell and currently stand condemned, I enCOURAGE you to decide that now is the time to get serious and be bold, share Christ with them and pray for them like never before.
The Christmas season is a wonderful time of year. We decorate our homes, gather with friends and find ourselves singing Christmas carols anywhere and everywhere. There is more food, more fellowship and more joy. But what truly makes this time of year so great? Jesus of course. Most of us know that the true reason we celebrate Christmas today is because a special baby boy was born over 2,000 years ago to a young and weary couple in a lowly stable in Bethlehem.
This significant and long prophesied birth was accompanied with remarkable events. Shepherds were visited by a choir of angels (the most ever mentioned in the Bible) telling of the birth of the Savior and exactly where to find him. Wise men traveled from the Far East to come worship this Christ child and bring him gifts. I love this story with all of my heart and read it with my children every year, you can find it in Matthew chapters 1 and 2 and Luke chapter 2 (my favorite). However, it still does not provide an adequate reason for why this birth and Christmas is so very great.
Children are born every day and some into very unusual circumstances. This Nativity story doesn’t even set Christianity apart from other religions of the world. Muhammad and Buddha were also born into this world at certain points in history. There has to be more to our God to make him worthy of our dedication and celebration.
Praise God there is! What makes the beginning of Jesus’s life so wonderful is what happened at the end of his life. The Bible tells us that we can never go to Heaven to be with God if we are not sinless and perfect just like him. Sadly, all of us are wretched sinners (see Romans 3:23). In the Old Testament, according to the law given by God through Moses, the Israelites had to provide sacrifices to atone for their sins. This was an arduous and truly impossible task. Jesus came and changed everything.
Jesus was the Son of God; he lived a sinless, perfect life and performed many signs and miracles and taught those who followed him. The spiritually blind, religious rulers of the time hated Jesus and wanted him dead. They tried many times but were not able to arrest him until his true hour came, Jesus then gave himself over to them. He was questioned and found innocent by Pontius Pilot, yet to appease the rowdy Jewish people Pilot handed Jesus over to be beaten, tormented and finally crucified on the cross. Why did this have to happen? Because “without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins.” Hebrews 9:22. Jesus gave himself up to be the ultimate and final perfect sacrifice to pay for our sins.
Yet again the story does not end there, Jesus rose from the dead three days later, just as he told his disciples he would. He was resurrected and is alive in Heaven with his Father God today; the tomb is empty. This is something no one else can claim. Muhammad and Buddha have graves their followers can visit, and they certainly didn’t sacrifice themselves for the people they claimed to love (one died of old age and another was supposedly poisoned).
Jesus Christ loved us so much that he came and redeemed us through his work on the cross. He did this so that we can also be resurrected from the dead and go to live with him someday. This is what makes Christmas so great and why we can celebrate this time of year with joy and passion. Jesus was a baby born to die for us.
“If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” Romans 10:9. This is straight from the Word of God. If you believe in him and have received his gift of redemption, you have all you need to celebrate this Christmas.
Read the Bible as much as you possibly can every day of your life. There you go, Ladies. You have my life’s ministry in a nutshell. That really is all there is to it. Just read your Bible, a lot.
Read it Sundays, Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays. Read it on holidays, read it on vacations, read it when you are tired, read it when you are sick, read it when you are happy and healthy. Most importantly read it when you really, really don’t feel like it.
What about going to church, doing good deeds, witnessing, discipling, praying, preaching, and teaching, correcting, forgiving, and loving? Yep, it’s in there. If you are reading God’s Word faithfully as a follower of Christ the rest will follow. If you are making a daily habit of consuming the authoritative, powerful Word of the creator of the Universe, obedience follows.
Desire a better marriage? Want to know how to deal with your children? How to manage your money? How to deal with a person that drives you crazy? How to be better at everything? Yeah, it’s all in the Bible. Go find it.
Quit your complaining that you never got a handbook on how to live life in this world. Quit the excuses that you aren’t smart enough to understand it. Quit thinking that it’s some else’s job to read it and then explain it to you. Quit falling prey to the Devil’s schemes of easy excuses.
Oh, you don’t have time? You are too busy, I understand. Have you slept or eaten in the past 24 hours? Yes? Well then you had time for the Bible. Sorry, nice try.
Am I being hard on you? You bet I am. Whoever you are reading this, I love you way too much to be anything less. I care about your eternity as well as the fullness of your life on Earth and how it impacts others for Christ. I want you to live a life that points to God continually and brings him honor. You will never be happy otherwise, never.
Not sure where to start? Pick a gospel (the Good News about Jesus Christ), Matthew, Mark, Luke, or John. Mark is a nice, short and straightforward gospel; John is spiritually rich and a bit deeper. Luke has the beautiful Christmas story and Matthew the genealogy of Christ. Pick one, you can’t choose wrong. After learning about Jesus, continue on with the story in Acts and meet Paul. Learn about the Holy Spirit, discover the beginnings of the Church and read about Paul’s trials and journeys. Then continue on to read some of Paul’s letters that he wrote to Churches like in Romans, Corinthians, Ephesians, Philippians and more. These words still apply to us today, if you belong to the family of God. Read them as if they were written for you and for your life today (they were and they are).
Why do I believe in the Word of God so much? It has changed my life. Without the Word of God, I walk in darkness and confusion. Psalms 119:105 “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” It’s the only way to illuminate my walkway of life.
Without the Word of God I starve and have no life within me. Matthew 4:4 (Deut. 8:3) “Man shall not live by bread alone but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.” I need spiritual food that only comes from the Scriptures.
Without the Word of God I fall prey to my enemy, I have no weapon to fight with. Ephesians 6:17 “and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” I love to win, so you better believe I will have in my hand the mightiest weapon possible.
Without the Word of God I have no standard of truth. John 17:17 “Sanctify them in your truth, your word is truth.” I won’t settle for less than absolute truth. I want my life planted on the bedrock of Christ.
Finally, without the Word of God, I am doomed to suffer forever. John 1:14 “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.” Jesus is the Word of God, receiving him brings me eternal life.
The Word of God can change your life too, but only if you read it. You can’t carry it around and hope to absorb it by osmosis. You have to open it up and read the words on the pages. Don’t believe me, try it and let’s talk. Need help getting started? Ask me, you would make my day.