I can’t think of a better way to end this week than with Mike’s Chair’s song, Someone Worth Dying For. Listen to the words and let them sink deep into your soul. They are Truth and Life. YOU are Someone Worth Dying For! At least Jesus seems to think so anyway!
Posts Tagged With: cross
“Be alert” Acts 20:27
Yesterday, as I was driving home from the vet’s office with the kids and dog in the backseat I had a strange thought run through my head, “Since you’re such an important person in the kingdom of God you should drive your car off the road into that tree and prove it.” Now, at the time I was driving at no slow speed so of COURSE the thought frightened me and I immediately pushed it aside. So while I didn’t obey it, I didn’t stop to think where a thought like that could be coming from either. I simply pushed it out of my mind and kept driving. And I didn’t think about it again until this morning at 3:22am when I woke up from a dream with a start. I can’t remember any of the dream except driving my car off the road into a tree!
Now while some may say a dream like that is straight from the devil I will strongly disagree with them, because that dream woke me up! It alerted me to the demonic activity that had been so surrounding me during the day that I had ceased to realize their efforts to destroy me. I had failed to remain alert to their ploys. I had not been taking EVERY thought CAPTIVE.
“For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, being ready to punish every disobedience, when your obedience is complete.” 2 Corinthians 10:3-6
You see, those thoughts of running my car into a tree, they weren’t my thoughts. Yet I was still allowing them to tromp their way through my head instead of capturing them and punishing them for invading my space. Our minds are the battlefield of spiritual warfare because as a man thinks, so he is. And out of the overflow of his heart a man speaks, (Matthew 12:34, Luke 6:45) and those words contain the power of life and death (James 3) to all who hear them including the speaker.
When I awoke from my dream I simultaneously awoke from my spiritual slumber as well. I had been renting out space in my head to the Liar himself and it was high-time I kicked him out! So right then and there I opened my mouth and spoke, “Spirit of Suicide, in Jesus’ name, report to Jesus immediately for sentencing.” On and on I went, Self-harm, Self-destruction, Indifference, Lack, Depression, Fear, Self-reliance… capturing them by the ear by calling our their name and punishing them the best way I know how. I sent them to The Judge for eternal punishment. For an HOUR I lay in bed quietly and calmly calling out the names of my former tormentors, telling them where to go and then asking the Holy Spirit to come and fill the space they had occupied with His beautiful fruity self: “Come Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Goodness, Gentleness, Kindness, Faithfulness and Self-Control!” I praised God for opening my eyes to the bonds that had been hindering me from fully praising Him and fully appreciating His love for me.
In that very car on the way TO the vet’s office I had been sobbing for God to help me, to free me from this unknown and un-named prison I seemed to be in. A prison I knew I couldn’t get out of on my own. Right then the scale tipped back toward my favor and the Enemy knew he had been defeated because I had run into THE tree!
THANK YOU JESUS!
I feel like a completely different person today without all those “cling-ons”!
See what just one short week of daily Bible reading can do for you!?! I certainly have missed it! Oh my friends, the best is yet to come, won’t you join me!?!
This is the sight that greeted me as I walked into the bathroom to get ready for bed tonight. I turned to my husband and said, “That girl,” our daughter, “just can’t help but leave a mess behind her can she? I’m going to start calling her Pig pen!” And I was only half joking. Yet part of me smiled as I looked at her clothes shed for her nighttime bath. Someday there won’t be a little blonde-haired girl running through the house half-naked and dripping a trail through the living room and giggling as she goes. Someday our house won’t be the loud chaotic mess it is now. It will be quiet and things will stay where I put them. Some days that thought thrills me… others not so much.
Someday I’ll walk through this house and it will be clean, no traces of sticky finger prints on the windows or door knobs. There won’t be any dirty socks stuck between the couch cushions or any toy trucks to stub my toe when the lights go out. My house will be quiet and clean… maybe a little too clean if you ask me. For years I fought the mess with everything I had in me. Some days I still do, but not usually.
Yes, tonight as I brushed my teeth I smiled at the mess and, of all things, thought of Thomas’s famous statement of doubt. “Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe.” (John 20:25) Thomas wanted to see the scars, the mess left behind from the cross. He wanted the proof that it had really happened, that Jesus had really been there at the cross and come back. And he wasn’t disappointed either. Eight days later, Jesus came to him in a locked room and told Thomas to touch His scars and believe. Jesus kept His scars from the cross, He’s God, He could have easily erased them from His resurrected body but He chose to keep them. Why? Because they are the proof, the only proof, that He truly hung on the cross and died. They are proof that He came and conquered Death itself. They are proof that He has overcome the trials, troubles and tribulations of this world and won. Which means that we can too.
Paul tells us in 2nd Corinthians chapter 4 verses 16 through 18, “do not lose heart. Though our outerself is wasting away our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing us for an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient but the things that are unseen are eternal.”
Whatever you’re going through today, a messy house or cancer treatments, it won’t last forever.
Trust the Truth
Some people like to think that Jesus was just a good teacher, maybe even a prophet, but not God or the Messiah. There’s a problem with that thought process though, the things that He taught and claimed about Himself weren’t on that same level. He was either absolutely and completely insane or He was Satan himself or He was actually telling the truth and is who He actually says He is. In fact many people accused Him of being demonic (in Matthew 12:22-37) but their accusations were silenced when he pointed out the error in their thinking. If Jesus is demonic then He wouldn’t be commanding the demons OUT of people but rather IN to them!
In Mark’s retelling of this same story of the teachers of the law thinking Jesus was “possessed by Beelzebub! By the prince of demons He is driving out demons.” (3:22) Mark includes a little “behind the scenes” info for us. Before this fateful conversation with the teachers of the law, Jesus’ family came to “take charge of Him, for they said, He is out of His mind.'” (Mark 3:21) Again in John 10:20-21 “many of them said, ‘He is demon-possessed and raving mad. Why listen to Him?’ But others said, ‘These are not the sayings of a man possessed by a demon. Can a demon open the eyes of the blind?”
Would a demon open the eyes of the blind? I don’t think so. Considering that the goal of Satan is to keep as many people as possible spiritually blind, wandering around in complete and total darkness, unable to find God, it makes VERY little sense that Satan would even CONSIDER opening those closed minds and eyes. And since that is the most obvious conclusion I feel it is fairly safe to assume that Jesus was neither insane nor demonic which leaves but one logical conclusion, He is completely sane, telling and teaching the truth and therefore is who He claims to be! Sometimes the truth sounds the most insane because it is the truth. So seldom do we encounter pure unadulterated truth that it automatically resounds in our brains as a foreign invader and thusly insane because it is simply that radically different. Just like when someone donates a kidney to a friend. Even if they’re a perfect match the friend still has to take anti-rejection drugs to keep her body from rejecting the gift she has been given, we too need to take our own anti-rejection medicine in order to accept and keep God’s gift of salvation.
TRUST. Sometimes you just have to trust, even when nothing around you makes sense. Maybe none of it is making sense because it’s really the truth that has been injected into an environment that is simply unfamiliar with the truth. New truth, well, new-to-you truth can be hard to accept. But that doesn’t make it any less the truth, it just makes it less yours. You see, we can possess the truth and the Truth can possess us. Or a falsehood can possess us, as we continue to hold onto it because of its familiarity. But just because it’s our belief that we’re holding onto doesn’t make it any less false, it just makes it ours.
When we encounter a treasure in our path, if our hands are full of trash we’re unable to pick up the treasure. We come to a moment of decision 1) keep the trash and leave the treasure or 2) reject the trash and pick up the treasure.
Matthew tells us that “The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field. Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it.”(13:44-46)In these two stories we meet two men who discover great treasure and are willing to give up everything they own in order to possess that tremendous treasure. At first glance it seems as though both stories are the same message told in two different manners. However, if you look closely at the grammar and the structure of the like statements you will find a subtle difference. In the first story the kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. The kingdom of God and all its wisdom, power and truth are a priceless treasure worth our life-savings to acquire. (And I speak from personal experience and tell you that it is.) But look at the second like-statement in the second story! The kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. In this story the kingdom isn’t the treasure, the kingdom is the one searching for the treasure! Now if God is the one searching for the pearl of great value, then what pray-tell, IS the pearl of great value? Now, I want you to think for a moment, what is the one thing in all of creation that God the Creator does not already possess? Keep in mind that He is GOD, EVERYTHING is His. Except, perhaps, for you. You my friend are that pearl of great value. You are the one that Jesus Himself is willing to set EVERYTHING aside for. EVERYTHING. All His power, all His majesty, all His life; He laid it ALL down at the foot of the cross like trash to pick up the treasure – YOU.
Don’t let the falsehood keep it’s hold on you any longer. Let go of the belief that Jesus was less than what He said He was, that He can’t do everything that He says He can. Because He is, He can and He will… but never without your permission. He is a gentleman after all.
So, how can we apply all this information to our marriages? By remembering that WE are a pearl of great value, worth selling everything else for. If you need help remembering, buy yourself some pearl jewelry and wear it! Then every time life throws you a dirty look, a sneer or snide remark you can look at your pearl – or touch them on your neck and say to yourself “I am worth dying for.” Then just smile back and say “God bless you!” as if they had only sneezed at you and nothing more.
When we place our trust and value in the hands of God it’s out of reach of the things of this world. They can’t touch them. If you feel like your husband isn’t valuing you like the pearl of great value – it doesn’t matter, because your worth doesn’t lie in his hands, but in God’s. However, you can’t just lie down and let your husband walk all over you like a door mat either. Stand up for yourself in prayer. Tell God how your husband is treating you and how you feel about it. Remember, it is not your job or place to change your husband, only God can change hearts. But it IS your job to PRAY FOR HIM!
So often we don’t feel like we’re doing anything when we pray. But nothing could be farther from the truth! I believe that if we could catch just a glimpse of what our prayers activate in the unseen spiritual realm we would never get up off our knees! Why else was that the one thing that ALL the gospel writers mentioned in their letters? If they went without food or water or clothes, or if they were in jail or shipwrecked they could manage, but go without being covered in the prayers of others? NEVER! Prayer IS doing something, it’s doing MORE than you could even imagine. Never stop praying for your husband, not ever!
When Jesus walked this dirtball, He was constantly under pressure and ridicule; even His family thought He was crazy at one point. They failed to believe in Him, failed to believe that He was telling the truth, failed to remember who the angel told them – before His birth – who He would be! Take a moment to do a mental inventory, have you been believing in your husband? Or have you joined in on the ridiculing and doubt? As his wife he needs for you to be his “safe person”. The one who he can always trust to be in his corner when things get rough and the Enemy starts to attack. He needs to know that no matter what is happening in his life you WILL be there to cheer him on and help him up. Can your husband count on you to be that person? Is he that person for you? He should be.
Do you doubt your husband’s ability to perform any of these tasks? Take those doubts to the cross. Ask God to take care of them, His ear is not too dull to hear nor is His arm to short to save. He is MORE than able to help you and your husband achieve greatness in your marriage. God is able to do abundantly more than all you can ask or imagine! So start imagining and asking for that great marriage you dream of, and then let God work His miracles. He is able and He is willing, you need only to ask, believe and then wait patiently on the LORD.
Day 8: Sacrifice
For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. John 3:16-18
When we love someone it requires personal sacrifice. Sometimes it’s with a simple compromise: I want Chinese for dinner and Christian wants Mexican so I sacrifice my desire for Chinese because I love him. At other times though, to prove our love to one another, it takes something a little more drastic.
After 5 ½ years of dating, I started having doubts about my future with Christian. Since he was the only man I’d ever been with, I was starting to feel like I had missed something. So one night I asked him to come over to talk, because I was planning on breaking up with him. After many hours of tears and talking, I was ready to leave him. I had given him my engagement ring back and everything. But he wasn’t going to let that happen. He asked if I was willing to take a walk with him and I said “sure”, despite the fact that you could see our breath as we walked. When we got to the fountain at the center of campus I asked Christian why he was so disappointed that the fountain was off and he replied, “I was going to run through it to prove my love to you.” Christian was willing to sacrifice his health and his comfort to prove to me how much he loved me; because love requires sacrifices, sometimes big ones. The ultimate and perfect love of God for us, required the ultimate and perfect sacrifice of Jesus, for us.
Jesus – though He had done nothing sinful or against the law in His entire life – was betrayed by one of His closest friends, arrested, and secretly whisked off to an immediate trial in the dead of night. The Sanhedrin found Him guilty and sentenced Him to be flogged, and die by Crucifixion. Once sentenced, He had one chance to “get out of it” so to speak. At that time, it was the festival of Passover and during the festival it was customary for one prisoner to be released. They were given their choice between the Savior of their souls and a murderer for a rebellion against Rome. The Jews chose to release Barabbas the murderer (which is how it had to be for God’s plan of redemption to work). Jesus heard His friends and neighbors chanting “Crucify him, Crucify him, Crucify him”.
The book of Matthew tells us that Pilate released Barabbas, had Jesus flogged and then handed Him over to be crucified. Usually when retelling the story of Jesus’ sacrifice we focus on the crucifixion, skipping the fact that He was flogged – or brutally tortured – first. Flogging is where they whip your torso and your back. But it’s not just a simple whip like a horse whip, its long leather straps with fish hooks and metal shards woven within them so as to inflict the maximum amount of pain possible without actually killing the person. Most times after being flogged the skin would be hanging open, the victim’s bones, muscle and internal organs completely exposed. It is one short sentence in the scriptures, but it was not a short sentence for Jesus. It was long and painful, and only the beginning. Next, He endured more pain and humiliation as the soldiers dressed him in a “royal” robe and placed a crown of thorns on his head. Beating it into His head with a reed while spitting on Him and mocking Him. Once the soldiers were satisfied with this utter humiliation they took His robe, put His clothes back on Him and led Him out to be crucified. By custom, crucifixion victims were forced to carry the 75-100 pound cross-member of their own cross for roughly 1/3 of a mile. In John it says that Jesus carried this Himself, but in the other gospels it says that Simon, a Cyrenian, carried it for Him. It is very likely that Jesus started out the journey carrying His own cross; however after being awake all night long, beaten, bruised flogged, beaten more and humiliated, He lost His strength quickly and couldn’t carry it any further, requiring the assistance of Simon. Once He reached Golgotha He was placed on top of His cross where they drove spikes between the bones of His wrists and the heels of His feet. Not the small wood nails we’re used to seeing in the hardware store but spikes, large metal spikes. He was lifted into place on the cross, hung at 9 in the morning according to Mark’s gospel. He was placed between two criminals, equating Him with criminals; something He was not. As people walked by Him on the road they mocked, “He saved others; He cannot save Himself. He is the King of Israel; let Him now come down from the cross, and we will believe in Him. HE TRUSTS IN GOD; LET GOD RESCUE Him now, IF HE DELIEGHTS IN HIM; for He said, “I am the Son of God.” The robbers who had been crucified with Him were also insulting Him with the same words. (Matthew 27:42-44) But that’s just it. He COULD have saved Himself! Just one word and He could have sent 10,000 angels to free Him from this pain and absolute humiliation but He didn’t say a word. He endured every bit of it. Just for you and me. He hung on that cross, blood and life slowly draining from Him, excruciating pain and humiliation, His lungs filling with blood making it more and more difficult to breathe, slowly dying for SIX HOURS. Luke tells us that for the final 3 hours of His torture it was dark. Finally at 3 He cried out “It is finished” and died. That, my sister, is part of the punishment that you and I deserve for our sins, and yet we will never receive that punishment… because Jesus took it all for us. After watching the Passion of Christ I asked, “Why God, why would you do that for me? Me?” He replied, “Because my Beloved, that’s just how much I love you! I love you so much I would rather die than live without you!”
Christian was willing to be cold and wet and sick for me, which was very romantic. Christ was willing to be tortured and died for me. So who loves me more? There is NO possible way that Christian who is human can love me as much as Christ who was completely human and completely God. Christ had a choice; He didn’t HAVE to do it. He didn’t have to suffer the humiliation and the pain, yet He CHOSE to go through that so that we could live with Him forever! The ultimate love required the ultimate sacrifice to prove that love, and it DID prove it! When we ask Jesus how much He loves us, He says “This much” and spreads out His arms, reminding us of how He died for us. He… chose… YOU. He loves you that much. He died and endured things that no one, human OR God should ever have to endure, and He did it to prove to you how much He loves you. Love. That’s what it’s all about, LOVE.
First, we are to love God with our entire self, more than everything else in our life. Then, we are to love our neighbors more than ourselves. This is especially important in marriage because it’s your love for God and your husband that is the greatest testimony to the people around you. Your husband is your very own personal gift from God himself, show your husband you really love him, even when it’s hard and you really don’t feel like it. If you claim that you love God, but complain constantly about your husband you are not showing him or the people around you the kind of love that God gives. No matter what we’re doing or what our attitudes are like, God still loves us deeply and continues to show us all the time. When we are being our most difficult, He still loves us; because He knows that that’s when we need His love the most.
We have all had to sacrifice things before. But no one has ever sacrificed like Jesus did. He sacrificed His life; AND He did it VOLUNTARILY! Do you know why? Because He loves you that much. If you love your wife, you are going to have to make some sacrifices. You can’t just expect her to make them all.