033: A Far Country

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It’s getting late, way past your bedtime, but Friday night only comes once a week! The family begs you. Please! Oh please stay up and spend some time with us!

You’re exhausted, but can’t resist! You love spending time with the family and can’t say no.

Can anybody relate?

You try to engage, but can barely keep your eyes open. After a few minutes, when nobody is watching, you kick back the recliner. Before you know it, you have relaxed your way into a comfort zone, drifting in and out of sleep.

I mean you’re not sound asleep. You can still hear the voices, the giggling, and the bustling about in the kitchen. Oh no, not the kitchen! I pray they don’t make a big mess! Then you smell it . . . okay, it’s just popcorn.

Half asleep, with eyes closed, you can still keep up with your family’s conversations. Jolted by an outburst of laughter, you peek through squinted eyelids to see what all the commotion is about. You don’t know what’s so funny, but force your eyes wide open long enough to participate in the amusement anyway. Then off you go, back into your blissful rest.

We’ve all reached this point of exhaustion . . . too tired to focus on anything but sleep.

How much of our spiritual lives do we experience in this same state of lethargy?

Wherefore he saith, Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light.

Ephesians 5:14

Are we awake to all that’s going on in the Spiritual realm? Or have we been lulled to sleep by the pomp and circumstance of this life? Is it a pursuit of pleasure that has captured your attention? Or is it more like a burden of hurts, hardships, and struggles that has overtaken you?

We tend to judge everything by what we experience in these fleshly bodies. But what if the most important things of this life, the things that really matter for all eternity, can’t be experienced in this flesh?

Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God . . . Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.  That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.

John 3:3-6

Unless you are born again, born of the Spirit, you will never see this Kingdom of God. We all are just passing through this physical world in our body of flesh. However, the real world, the spiritual, is what’s going to outlive this life.

Some spend their lifetime focusing on earthly pleasures that satisfy for a season, never considering the eternal implications. However, for the child of God, the greatest pleasures experienced here can’t even compare to what will be experienced over there.

What about you? Have you been so distracted by the here and now that your senses are dulled to the spiritual?

If you are a born again Christian, although you live on this earth, you are a stranger to this world (or at least you should be). The Bible says God’s children are a peculiar people!

 Is there something peculiar about the way you live, or do you blend right in with this world? Does your life stand out as a foreigner, or are you recognized as a worldly citizen?

If you belong to Christ, your citizenship is in another country— A FAR COUNTRY!

This heavenly land holds great eternal promises that far exceed any on earth.

Whether you are a born again believer or not, whether you know it or not, there is a spiritual battle raging over you. The devil is determined to distract and detach you as far as he can from the Kingdom of God.

If you would like to learn more about this unseen spiritual world and how it affects you, then tune in to this podcast episode.

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The Only Thing God Needs

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What does God need?

That’s a no brainer. God doesn’t need anything. If He did, He wouldn’t be God!

That’s right! God doesn’t need anything to be God! He doesn’t need grand monuments, lavish church buildings, or any architectural wonder erected in His honor. God doesn’t need eloquent sermons or songs dedicated to His name.

God is Almighty God! He doesn’t need any validation from man to make Him any holier, mightier, or more majestic than He already is.

The heavens and the earth are full of God’s glory. All creation testifies of His goodness and greatness. God is so worthy that even if man chooses to reject Him, the Bible tells us the rocks will cry out to honor and glorify the Lord (Luke 19:40).

You and I can’t do anything in our own efforts to worship or serve God.

God created you, and knows you better than you know yourself. You can’t impress God with your intellect or abilities. And you certainly can’t entertain God with your talents. No matter how witty or charming, no matter how emotionally stirring, performances don’t move God.

God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.

John 4:24

You can busy yourself with church activities and boast about all you do for the Kingdom of Christ. But ultimately, if it doesn’t come from God’s Holy Spirit, then it’s blasphemy and a work of the flesh.

We are nothing without God!

Wow! Talk about a blow to your self-esteem!

There’s nothing man or woman can do in their own strength that will add to the glory and splendor that already rightfully belongs to Almighty God. God doesn’t need a politician! And God certainly doesn’t need a billionaire business tycoon to make America great again.

God doesn’t need anything! However, because He is a loving, merciful, good God, in His sovereignty, God chooses to need something. God chooses to need you and me! He doesn’t have to, but Praise God He designed it that way!

The only thing God needs to fulfill His purpose in this earth is a willing vessel.

God chooses to need those that will yield to Him and dare to believe Him. God won’t do anything without a vessel. I can’t do anything without God, and God won’t do anything without me.

What about you? Are you willing to let God use you?

How do I know God is real?

I want to believe but . . . How can I be expected to trust in a God that I can’t even see? I’ve never seen God, or touched Him. I’ve never heard His voice. How can I be expected to worship someone I know nothing about?

How do I know God is even real?

Can you relate? Do struggle with these same questions and doubts?

If that’s you, you’re not alone. The world wants evidence that God is real. They demand! Show up God! Show out! Do something that I can experience with my senses.

God does move in mighty, miraculous ways. However, you wouldn’t dare barge into the presence of an earthly king and make demands, much less the King of all Heaven.

God wants to show up and touch our lives, but it will only happen on His terms and not man’s.

You just can’t conjure up or mimic an outpouring of God’s Holy Spirit. Yet that’s exactly what many churches attempt to do. Using high tech lighting, sound effects, and don’t forget the fog machines, some have settled for nothing more than a man-made imitation of the presence of God.

If I can’t conjure up God’s presence, then how do I know God exists?

Where’s the proof?

Before I commit to God I’ve got to know He’s real! Where’s the evidence? How do I prove God exists?

God doesn’t have to prove Himself to anybody. Whether you believe Him or not, one day you will stand before God on His terms and not your questions. At some point, you have to make a choice to trust God and believe what the Bible says.

I do believe! I know God is real! I want God to use me, but I have nothing to offer Him.

You are absolutely right! The only thing any of us have to offer God is an empty possibility. We are nothing more than a vessel that God can pour His Spirit into and use as He sees fit. Without God, we have no worth, no value. But thankfully, God is in the restoration business. Until the Master touches us, we all are completely useless.

The only thing God wants from you is faith to dare to believe Him.

. . . without faith it is impossible to please [God]: for he that cometh to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him.

Hebrews 11:6

Even though we can’t see God, by faith we can believe Him. With faith, step out, surrender, and see what happens when you do things God’s way.

But where’s the evidence the world longs for?

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

Hebrews 11:1

Faith is characterized by two things: 1) substance and 2) evidence

The evidence that God is real can be found in firsthand witnesses—the lives God has changed. The faith found in God’s people is undeniable proof that God is real.

Although you can’t see God, there are many souls who will testify of His power and love.

The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit.

John 3:8

You can know the Spirit is blowing when sin stricken hearts repent and are transformed, washed clean by the blood of Jesus Christ.

He’s stirring when addicts are delivered from their bondage, broken relationships are restored, captives are set free.

God’s Holy Spirit is on the move when the sick and diseased are healed, the mentally tormented are given peace and a sound mind, the weak are made strong.

When thirsty, hungry hearts can only be satisfied by the fellowship and presence of a Holy, Righteous God, that’s proof!

Whether you believe God or not, even if you choose to do your own thing and reject the goodness of the Lord, God still chooses to need you! God chooses to need you to fulfill His purpose in the earth.

If you haven’t already given your life to Jesus Christ, what are you waiting for?

Maybe you’re thinking . . . I can’t come to God like this! You don’t know me! I would never fit in with church people.

Feel like you’ll never measure up? It doesn’t matter what you’ve done or where you’ve been, God is still patiently waiting for your surrender. He longs to cover you in His mercy and grace.

Let God start on the inside . . . He’ll transform your life and make you a vessel to be used for His honor and glory. God will fill you and empower you with His Spirit to accomplish things you could never imagine. Oh how great is the mercy and love of God!

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032: Let Down

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I shouldn’t have done it, but I trusted them! I let my guard down, and they hurt me!

Can you relate?

Nobody likes being vulnerable. Even the best of us build up barriers around our lives, and occasionally, open up and let someone in . . . until they hurt us. Then the wall goes right back up!

Or maybe it’s not people, but you’ve put your trust in a world of other things that is just as sure to fail.

People will let you down . . . careers will let you down . . . things will let you down! Whatever your passion, it will eventually let you down. And yes, you will eventually let your own self down.

Have you been there? One disappointment right after another. There are times in our lives we get let down, places that God allows us to go through. Sometimes it may seem so unfair, but God is a good, loving, perfect God. You can trust Him with everything!

Maybe you are a Christian, but still feel like you must stay guarded for fear of being hurt or disappointed. You’re afraid to commit all you’ve got. You feel like you’ve got to have a plan B, a way out, just in case this God thing doesn’t work out.  

Is that you?  

People will hurt and disappoint you, and you will do the same to them. But when you’re secure in Christ, you have nothing to lose. You can let everything down! No more reservations! No more guards! No more fears of being let down! Because unlike people, Christ will never fail you. You can trust Him because He loves you with a perfect love!

If you’ve tasted the goodness of the Lord, you know there’s nothing worth going back to. No matter how great the hurt, even when the pain seems unbearable, it’s still better than a life without God.

 Like Elisha, in I Kings 19:19-21, burn the oxen, the yoke, and the plow! Don’t leave yourself anything to go back to! Let all the past hurts and disappointments go! Let all your preconceptions about life go! Let all your plans go because Christ is the only way that will lead to life.

Tune in to this podcast episode and make up your mind to live for Christ! There’s no turning back!

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031: Incorruptible

Incorruptible - Sun Sept 4pm

I’m so tired! There just isn’t enough time in a day to do what needs to be done!

We all lead busy lives, burning the candle at both ends, but for what? Yes, we must work to make a living and provide for our families, but how much of our labor is in vain?

We spend so much time and energy stressing and worrying over acquiring things that will only bring a moment of pleasure. We devote a lifetime making plans and pursuing dreams that will amount to nothing in the end.

Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is.

I Corinthians 3:13

What are you working towards? Will all your efforts last for all eternity?

Your eternity will be entirely based on how you spend your earthly life. When your life comes to an end, you will stand face to face before Jesus Christ, the one who spent His everything for you.

What a sobering thought! One day we all will realize just how much of our life was devoted to the corruptible. Choose wisely how you spend your life. It’s not just a wasted life, but a wasted eternity!

Do you want your life to count for all eternity? Are you ready to devote your life to the things of God? Stay tuned to this podcast episode to learn more about what the Bible has to say about the incorruptible. You’ll find the player below.

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A Journey of Transition

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You’ve gotten pretty good at pretending. You can fake it everywhere you go. You may even have your family convinced you are this incredibly strong person who can take anything and do whatever it takes to make a way.

Sound familiar?

You paste a smile on your face and make out everything is alright, but it’s not. You have everyone believing that your life is great. But aren’t you tired of acting like it’s all okay? Tired of pretending you have it all together? Tired of trying to do all this on your own!

You don’t have to anymore!

God is patiently waiting for you to surrender everything to Him. He has orchestrated events and circumstances in your life to bring you to this very moment. You can’t know God can, until you realize you can’t.

Recall the story of Jacob, someone who was great at pretending too. Jacob was crafty, always scheming and plotting out everything to his own advantage. He did what he had to do to make a way for himself. Jacob looked out for number one!

Have you ever resorted to manipulating people and circumstances all for your own benefit?

The truth is we are all guilty of it to some extent!

Jacob played the game and was really good at it. Waiting for the right moment when Esau would be desperate, Jacob cunningly steals Esau’s birthright. Then Jacob tricks his feeble father, Isaac, into blessing him as the first born, instead of Esau.

But something happened in the life of Jacob. A transition takes place and Jacob will never be the same. Jacob goes from being the deceiver, always looking out for himself, to Israel, a prince of God, totally sold out and surrendered to God’s will.

And he said, Thy name shall be called no more Jacob, but Israel: for as a prince hast thou power with God and with men, and hast prevailed.

Genesis 32:28

Beersheba

This journey of transition in the life of Jacob begins in Beersheba which means well of the oath. It’s the place where Jacob’s grandfather, Abraham, makes an oath and calls on the name of the Lord, the Everlasting God. Beersheba is where the Lord appears unto Isaac, Jacob’s father, and says “. . . fear not, for I am with thee, and will bless thee, and multiply thy seed for my servant Abraham’s sake” (Genesis 26:24). Isaac builds an altar there in Beersheba and calls upon the name of the Lord.

Jacob finds himself in Beersheba because of his father and grandfather. However, Jacob has yet to have his own personal experience with God. His concept of God is based entirely on the experience of his family.

What about you? Have you experienced the Lord for yourself, or do you call yourself a Christian because of your upbringing? Do you attend church because you hunger for the things of God, or are you just trying to appease your loved ones?

You will never have your own personal experience with God if you stay in Beersheba. Even though you are comfortable and everything is familiar, you are in a dangerous position. If you are content to cling to the coattails of someone else . . . if you stay in Beersheba and never experience God for yourself . . . then the devil will surely destroy you. You must know God personally!

Bethel

Jacob has stolen all of Esau’s blessings. If Jacob stays in Beersheba, Esau will surely kill him. Under the advice of his mother, Jacob leaves Beersheba.

In Genesis 28, Jacob comes to a place and makes a bed for the night.

12 And he dreamed, and behold a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven: and behold the angels of God ascending and descending on it.

13 And, behold, the Lord stood above it, and said, I am the Lord God of Abraham thy father, and the God of Isaac: the land whereon thou liest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed;

The first thing God tells Jacob is I am the God of your fathers. God didn’t say: Jacob, I am your God. Jacob had yet to experience God for himself. Jacob had to rely on his forefather’s experiences.

14 And thy seed shall be as the dust of the earth, and thou shalt spread abroad to the west, and to the east, and to the north, and to the south: and in thee and in thy seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed.

15 And, behold, I am with thee, and will keep thee in all places whither thou goest, and will bring thee again into this land; for I will not leave thee, until I have done that which I have spoken to thee of.

16 And Jacob awaked out of his sleep, and he said, Surely the Lord is in this place; and I knew it not.

17 And he was afraid, and said, How dreadful is this place! this is none other but the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven.

When Jacob woke up he was shaken to the core because he had been in the presence of Almighty God. What a dreadful place!

There are times we all need a little shaking. We need experiences that cause us to tremble in reverential fear of a Holy God. Experiences that drive us to seek and hunger for more of God. You can’t go any further with God until you are unsatisfied with where you are right now.

By providence, God sent Jacob out of Beersheba just so he could meet with him personally.

18 And Jacob rose up early in the morning, and took the stone that he had put for his pillows, and set it up for a pillar, and poured oil upon the top of it.

19 And he called the name of that place Bethel: but the name of that city was called Luz at the first.

Jacob was so impressed with the presence of God that he consecrates and names the place Bethel, or house of God.

20 And Jacob vowed a vow, saying, If God will be with me, and will keep me in this way that I go, and will give me bread to eat, and raiment to put on,

21 So that I come again to my father’s house in peace; then shall the Lord be my God:

22 And this stone, which I have set for a pillar, shall be God’s house: and of all that thou shalt give me I will surely give the tenth unto thee.

 

Now Jacob has more than just a knowledge of God, but a personal encounter with God. Jacob meets this God of his fathers and makes a vow to Him.

You must have your own Bethel experience . . . your own altar . . . your own relationship with God.

However, even the Bethel experience carries with it certain temptations and dangers.

Bethel was a wonderful place where Jacob saw and experienced something of the presence of God. But Bethel isn’t a place that you come in and out of. Bethel is an experience that must go with you. You must keep moving forward in your journey with God. No matter how spiritually profound it is, you can’t survive on a single experience.

After his Bethel encounter, Jacob goes on to build a life for himself . . . still operating in his flesh . . . still self-seeking . . . still doing his own thing. In the house of Laban, Jacob acquires two wives, two concubines, and eleven children, not to mention a wealth of servants and livestock.

Is there anything wrong with building a life for yourself . . . starting a business or career . . . raising a family . . . purchasing a home and property . . . making profitable investments? At this point you might be thinking Jacob is just living the dream.

Yes, Jacob overcame some challenges and prospered, but what he accomplished and acquired was all in vain. Jacob had a spiritual experience, met God, and made a vow, but still had not fully surrendered. Jacob was still working for Jacob!

God was bringing Jacob to something more than just a single spiritual experience at Bethel. You can’t be useful to God if you are dwelling on yesterday’s blessing. Bethel isn’t the final destination, but just part of the journey.

Jabbok

God spoke to Jacob in a dream:

13 I am the God of Bethel, where thou anointedst the pillar, and where thou vowedst a vow unto me: now arise, get thee out from this land, and return unto the land of thy kindred.

Genesis 31:13

Now God is not just the God of Jacob’s fathers, but the God of Bethel where Jacob made his vow.

Jacob obeys God. He heads back to Canaan, the land of his kindred, and comes to a river.

In Genesis 32, Jacob knows he must face his brother Esau.

22 And he rose up that night, and took his two wives, and his two womenservants, and his eleven sons, and passed over the ford Jabbok.

23 And he took them, and sent them over the brook, and sent over that he had.

After sending messengers ahead with gifts to appease Esau, Jacob also sends his wives, his concubines, his children, and all his possessions ahead to cross over the river Jabbok.

24 And Jacob was left alone; and there wrestled a man with him until the breaking of the day.

25 And when he saw that he prevailed not against him, he touched the hollow of his thigh; and the hollow of Jacob’s thigh was out of joint, as he wrestled with him.

For once in his life, Jacob is at his wits end, the place where God has wanted him.

Jacob is tired of trying to outsmart Esau. Jacob is at a place where he has nothing left . . . a place where Jacob is willing to admit he needs help. You can’t know God is your supply until you have run out of your own resources.

26 And he said, Let me go, for the day breaketh. And he said, I will not let thee go, except thou bless me.

It’s hold on for dear life, or let Esau destroy you! Jacob is determined and holds on until God blesses him.

27 And [God] said unto him, What is thy name? And he said, Jacob.

God knew Jacob’s name, but Jacob needed reminding. Yes, you are Jacob the deceiver . . . the one who manipulates and gets things done his way. But that’s about to change!

28 And he said, Thy name shall be called no more Jacob, but Israel: for as a prince hast thou power with God and with men, and hast prevailed.

Like Jacob, you and I must come to Jabbok, a place of change: not just a name change, but a change of identity.

The word Jabbok means emptying, since the river flowed down and emptied into the Jordan.  You must empty yourself of all that you are so that God can fill you with all that He is. Don’t try to understand it! Just surrender all control!

Some things you can’t figure out yourself; you just have to trust God to intervene.

When doctors don’t have a cure . . . when counselors don’t have the answer . . . when all hope is exhausted . . . it is then you have no choice but to rely on God to work it all out.

29 And Jacob asked him, and said, Tell me, I pray thee, thy name. And he said, Wherefore is it that thou dost ask after my name? And he blessed him there.

30 And Jacob called the name of the place Peniel: for I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved.

 

Peniel

Peniel means the face of God. Jacob met God face to face! Can you even imagine?

31 And as he passed over Penuel the sun rose upon him, and he halted upon his thigh.

32 Therefore the children of Israel eat not of the sinew which shrank, which is upon the hollow of the thigh, unto this day: because he touched the hollow of Jacob’s thigh in the sinew that shrank.

This was no dream! Jacob would bear the proof for the rest of his life. Living as a cripple was a constant reminder of Jacob’s weakness, and God’s power . . . a reminder of Jacob’s wretchedness, and God’s mercy. Although crippled, Jacob was finally surrendered.

Jacob, now Israel, was totally sold out to God’s will. After his Peniel experience, no longer relying on his self, Israel leaned on God alone. Israel was a new person, solely trusting the authority of God’s word, and depending on God’s promise and provision.

It didn’t mean Israel would no longer struggle with temptations or trials. Throughout the rest of his life, Israel would constantly battle with his old Jacob nature.

What about you? Have you been like a Jacob, not wanting to relinquish control?

The truth is we all have a Jacob inside of us. Our old nature is always looking for an edge . . . a way to do things in our own flesh.

However, after Jacob’s Peniel experience, Israel’s mind was made up to live for God no matter what. Jacob’s spirit was forever blessed. At the end of his life, still crippled, Jacob worshipped God and died in perfect peace leaning upon his staff (Hebrews 11:21).

Where are you on your journey with the Lord?

Wherever you are, God wants to bring you to this place of Peniel. If you want to reach this point of surrender where you no longer live for you, cry out to the Lord right now.

God, I can’t do this on my own! I need you to take control of my life! My hopes and dreams have been shattered. All my plans have failed, and I am out of options. I have nothing left but you!

Go ahead and declare your dependence on God and you will be well on your way to the next phase of your journey! The place where Jesus is your everything!

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030: Ascension & Authority

Ascension & Authority - Sun July 17 pm

Oh no, please tell me this isn’t happening! Suddenly out of nowhere it strikes—a full blown crisis when you least expect it! Things were going great, but all the while satan was scheming with a plan to hit you where you’re most vulnerable.

Have you been there . . . so paralyzed with fear that you couldn’t even pray? Or maybe you were so overwhelmed with doubts and feelings of insecurity that you weren’t even sure if your prayers were worthy enough to be heard. You’re not worthy! I’m not worthy! Even the saintliest person is a sinner without Christ!

But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us,

Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;)

And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus:

Ephesians 2:4-6

Wait! Does the Bible really say that I am seated in heavenly places with Christ?

Yes, it most certainly does! If you are covered in the blood of Christ, then every privilege that belongs to Christ now belongs to you.

If Jesus is your everything and your life is totally surrendered to Him, then all the authority and power that’s in Christ is now in you. If you have faith in God and don’t doubt, you can say to the mountain be removed, and it will move (Mark 11:22-23).

You don’t have to fear the devil! Walk in the Spirit and every demon will scatter. You don’t have to struggle through those trials anymore! Walk triumphantly through each one knowing that the God of all Heaven has guaranteed your victory. When you pray, all Heaven moves out of respect for the relationship you have with God through Jesus Christ.

You have been granted the authority of Christ, but it’s not just for your benefit! Stay tuned to this podcast episode if you want to know more about how and why you have the authority of Christ.

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Why Was Jesus So Distressed?

Why was Jesus So Distressed

Jesus was distressed? Really?

But that doesn’t make sense. Jesus could have called on a host of angels at any moment to minister to Him. All hell trembles at the whisper of His name. How could Jesus be distressed?

The following verses indicate Jesus was in anguish about something.

37And he took with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be sorrowful and very heavy.

 38Then saith he unto them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death: tarry ye here, and watch with me. 

Matthew 26:37-38

Jesus is so concerned about what’s going to take place. He pleads with His disciples to stay awake, watch and pray.

42 He went away again the second time, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if this cup may not pass away from me, except I drink it, thy will be done. 

Matthew 26:42

Jesus is in such agony that He pleads with the Father . . . Is there some other way?

Now is my soul troubled; and what shall I say? Father, save me from this hour: but for this cause came I unto this hour.

John 12:27

You can hear the desperation in His plea . . . Father, save me from this hour!

Why would the soul of the guiltless, sinless Son of God be so troubled? Why was Jesus so distressed?

Jesus was in the Garden of Gethsemane about to be betrayed and given over to the Roman authorities. He would face public humiliation and ridicule to its fullest extent. Jesus would be brutally tortured and die a cruel death on a cross, condemned by the people he loved so much.

Was it man’s rejection that caused Jesus such anguish?

This was nothing new. From the very start, in the Garden of Eden, man had been rejecting God. It was no different when Jesus came to the earth. Jesus was born into a world of rejection. As a baby, Herod sought to kill him. Later on He would be rejected by society: especially the intellectuals, the leaders of the law, the religious leaders, and even His own family. Anyone who so much as even spoke the name of Jesus would be thrown out of the synagogue. Jesus told His disciples “. . . [the world] hated me without a cause” (John 15:25). Yet Jesus never expressed despair over man’s rejection. Why would He start now?

Was it a fear or dread of the suffering and death that He was about to experience?

Jesus healed and delivered many people from torment, sickness, and disease. Why would he be afraid of suffering? This same Jesus had raised people from the dead. He stood outside of the tomb of Lazarus and commanded death to let go. Even after 4 days in the grave, Lazarus came forth alive and well. How could Jesus, who had already defied death, be terrified of it? It doesn’t make sense to believe Jesus was concerned about physical suffering and death.

Was it an impending attack of satan that led Jesus to such agony?

Satan was an adversary, but not one Jesus hadn’t already encountered. Approximately, three years earlier, the Spirit led Jesus into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil. Jesus faced His enemy without so much as a flinch. Later Jesus would cast out and command legions of demons to flee. Jesus merely whispered the Word and satan buckled. Jesus knows who the devil is and what he’s made of. Jesus was there and witnessed the day when satan was cast out of heaven. I don’t think Jesus was at all concerned about any attack the devil might launch against Him.

Jesus had demonstrated His authority . . . healing all manner of sickness and disease, conquering death, and even commanding the winds and waves. Every demon and the devil himself trembled at the mention of the name—Jesus!

So why was the Son of God so distressed?

I submit to you that the cause of such grief and anguish experienced by Jesus was much more severe than any of these mentioned . . . more severe than any human will ever face.

God’s word reveals the very source of what was breaking the heart of Jesus.

6All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.

10Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him; he hath put [him] to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see [his] seed, he shall prolong [his] days, and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in his hand.

Isaiah 53:6, 10 (Emphasis Mine)

Jesus was in such turmoil because He was about to assume a new and terrible position!

For he hath made him [to be] sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.

2 Corinthians 5:21 (Emphasis Mine)

Jesus was about to become someone totally out of His character—a sinner! Jesus would take on the very thing He despised—sin! God placed my sins, your sins, and the sins of all humanity on the charge of Jesus Christ.

Jesus agonized because He knew He was about to stand before His Holy Father as a vile, sinful creature. Jesus, the One who longed to please His Father, would become the epitome of disobedience.

Jesus, the guiltless, sinless one, would become the epicenter for all of Heaven’s wrath and vengeance. He who knew no sin would bear all the punishment and blame for our sin! As if this wasn’t enough for Jesus to bear, Isaiah 53:10 tells us it pleased God, the Father, to bruise His Own Son. God the Father took pleasure in the Son’s suffering!

If God is love, how could He be pleased with Jesus’ suffering?

The law demanded a sacrifice for sin. God, in love and mercy, gave Jesus to be the spotless lamb sacrificed for our sin. John the Baptist saw Jesus coming and said “. . . Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world” (John 1:29).

So what does all this have to do with me?

Jesus suffered and died for me so the least I can do is surrender and live for Him. I think all Christians will agree Jesus is our perfect example. We would do well to follow closely in His footsteps. Whatever makes Jesus happy should make us happy. If there is anything that grieves His heart, it should hurt us as well.

In the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus was in such agony because He knew the consequences of sin! By becoming sin for us, Jesus would be separated from the Father.

Does it sicken you when your sin and disobedience create a divide between you and God, the Father?

Maybe you’re thinking . . . I’m not living in sin. I don’t have any “bad” sinful habits.

Sin is sin! Whether it’s just a little bit or a whole lot . . . whether it’s acted out or just in your thoughts, sin is still sin. Any amount of sin and disobedience can keep us from the Lord.

We are all human! Each and every one of us have sinned, and no matter how close we get to Jesus, we will still have the potential to sin. God knew we would make mistakes and stumble. We aren’t perfect! Before Christ we had no hope, but now we can come to the Father through the blood of Jesus Christ.

But this liberty shouldn’t be taken for granted. When God convicts your heart of sin, it should be dealt with right away. Don’t play games or flirt with sin! Like Jesus, anything that comes between you and the heavenly Father should painfully grieve your spirit.

Oh God search my heart today! If there is anything in my life that displeases you . . . even in my thoughts and motives, if anything displeases you Lord, reveal it to me. Put it under the blood that Jesus shed on Calvary. I don’t want anything to ever come between me and my God. Like Jesus, I want nothing more than to please my Heavenly Father. Is that your desire today?

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029: When God Is Gone

When God Is Gone - Sun June 12am

Everyone is caught up in the moment! The lights and the stage are set! The music is moving and stirring emotions. Hands are raised in surrender! Shouting, trembling, crying, speaking in tongues… The crowd is responding with such passion and excitement! Everything is in place, but there’s only one thing missing—God!

It feels so good to be a part of a spirit filled service! But does this spirit exalt the flesh, or Jesus Christ? Does this spirit condone sin, or convict hearts to repent of their sin? Does this spirit drive you to live a holy life, and make you love even your enemies? Does this spirit motivate you and empower you to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ no matter what the cost?

The Spirit of God is called the Holy Spirit for good reason. He is Holy! Is it possible to operate like a Pentecostal Christian, out of habit or ritual, and not even realize the Holy Ghost is not the author of any of it?

For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance.

Romans 11:29

The Spirit of the Lord came upon Saul, and he prophesied. However, Saul rebelled against God and chose to do things his own way. God removed His anointing from Saul, yet Saul continued to act out as if he was still under God’s anointing…

And it came to pass on the morrow, that the evil spirit from God came upon Saul, and [Saul] prophesied in the midst of the house:

I Samuel 18:10

God is Holy and won’t tolerate sin and rebellion! He will remove His Spirit and anointing from unyielding vessels. But when God is gone something else will fill that void. Nature abhors a vacuum! If you aren’t filled with God’s Spirit, then something else will fill you.

Those who worship God must do so in Spirit and truth (John 4:24). It can’t be manufactured by flesh! If you are hungry for a real move of God in your life, stay tuned to this podcast episode. Don’t settle for anything less than the anointing of God’s Holy Spirit!

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To Live Is Christ

To Live Is Christ - Wed May25

Okay, I responded to the gospel and said yes to Jesus. What’s next? What does it mean to live the life of a Christian?

Right now you might be thinking this message isn’t for me. I’ve been living the Christian life for years so this can’t apply to me! This must be for those just starting their walk with Christ.

Have you reached the point that this world has nothing to offer you? Beware… Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall (1 Corinthians 10:12). You haven’t arrived yet!

Just when you think you have matured to a place that you no longer desire the things of this world, just when you think you are above being tempted, satan starts scheming. The devil will move to whatever playing field is necessary to distract you from God’s plan.

No matter how long you have been saved, regardless of your spiritual maturity, until you stand face to face before Jesus, you always have a decision to make about who you are going to serve. This is the relentless battle for the Christian. You will constantly be faced with the choice to either live for Jesus or seek your own will.

The gospel doesn’t stop with the sinner’s prayer. It’s a life choice…

For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.

Philippians 1:21

To live is Christ? To die is gain? That doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, but it is the gospel simplified in one verse.

To try and understand, compare Philippians 1:21 with Philippians 2:21.

The opposing view of the Christian life…

For all seek their own, not the things which are Jesus Christ’s.

Philippians 2:21

The apostle Paul said for me to live is Christ, to die is gain. But all those outside of Christ seek their own, and not the things of Christ.

I want to live Christ, but how?

The Life of Christ

So what did Paul mean when he said to live is Christ?

What about your life changed when you said yes to Christ?

Have you been careful to surround yourself with “Christian” things?

Nowadays it’s too easy to wear the “Christian” label. You don’t have to give up those amusing secular pastimes when there are so many “Christian” substitutes (sarcasm intended). From romance novels, to popular music, to action filled movies, there’s no shortage of “Christian” entertainment.

If you had a problem with offensive language before you got saved, try using some “Christian” cuss words as one comedian put it! And for those who just can’t give up the night life, there are even “Christian” night clubs.

Have you tried to live for Christ by embedding yourself in today’s “Christian” culture?

Just like in the Garden of Eden, today the devil is still a deceiver and a master at masquerading sin. But even if you dress it up and put a “Christian” label on it, sin is still sin! No flesh will glory in the presence of a Holy, Righteous God!

Every day of our lives we have the same choice Adam and Eve had to make in the Garden. Do I obey the Lord and surrender my flesh to the will of Christ or do I seek my own pleasure and desire?

Before we can understand what Paul meant by to live is Christ, we need to get a grasp of the Life of Christ.

I can’t live the life of Christ if I’m living for myself! Who was Paul living for when he wrote this?

According to my earnest expectation and my hope, that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but that with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life, or by death.

Philippians 1:20

All Paul’s expectation and his hope was to do nothing to bring shame to His Lord Jesus. He wanted every fiber of his being, everything he did in this life, and even his death, to magnify Jesus Christ. Paul recognized his life was not his own.

We are not our own either! We have been bought with the price Jesus paid on Calvary. We owe everything to Jesus Christ. Our life, our will, our hopes and dreams… All our desires need to be crucified with Christ, so Christ can live through us. God’s will can’t be demonstrated in me unless I’m fully surrendered. It’s no longer about me and what I want!

Paul was shipwrecked, beaten, stoned, and imprisoned. He suffered in weariness and painfulness, in hunger and thirst, in cold and nakedness. (2 Corinthians 11:24-27). Would we stay committed to the will of God under the same harsh conditions? Paul had no “Christian” substitute for any of this!

Paul suffered and surrendered all for the cause of Christ, yet he confessed he had not arrived. Paul said I’m pressing on toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of Jesus… (Philippians 3:14). If this was true for Paul, then I know no matter how close I get to the Lord, there will always be more of me to die, and more of Christ to live.

Paul said for me to live is Christ… not for me to live is for Christ to live. Christ will live whether I do or not. Christ will live even if I don’t yield myself to Him!

If you don’t let Jesus live through you, then He’ll go to somebody else who will. God uses willing vessels washed by the blood of the Lamb. However, God has a specific call on your life that only you can answer. Your calling is just as unique as your finger prints. It’s a job that only you can accomplish for the Lord. Only you can live Christ for you!

The Life of Christ is my life stepping aside so that His life is lived fully in me.

But that’s impossible…How can I step aside and let someone else take over and live their life through my body?

The Mind of Christ

Your mind controls all your bodily functions, whether it’s voluntary or involuntary. Your mind also controls all your thought processes and decision making. It stands to reason you can’t use your mind to live like Christ. To live the life of Christ, you are going to need the mind of Christ.

Paul said…

Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:

Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:

Philippians 2:5-6

Okay, I need the mind of Christ! But what is the mind of Christ like?

But [Christ] made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:

And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.

Philippians 2:7-8

The mind of Christ doesn’t seek His own agenda. Christ is Royalty! He didn’t have to, but He took on the form of a servant. The mind of Christ doesn’t pursue His own fame or fortune. The mind of Christ is surrendered to whatever it takes to accomplish the Father’s will and bring glory to His Father’s Name. Even if it means suffering, and death on a cross!

Without the mind of Christ, I don’t have the knowledge, the understanding, the holiness, or the capacity to live Christ. Most Christians will say they want to live Christ. But how?

Short of a brain transplant, how do I get the mind of Christ?

For you to really live Christ, you’ve got to stop trying to live Christ. Stop trying to do it on your own because you can’t do it on your own. Just surrender and let the mind of Christ take over because…

 …the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.

I Corinthians 2:14

Stop trying to use your own logic because your natural man can’t figure out God. You can’t know the things of God without the Spirit of God. For me to live Christ, I have to understand that within myself I am not able.

15 But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man.

16 For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? but we have the mind of Christ.

I Corinthians 2:15-16

Paul makes a correlation between the Spirit of God and the mind of God. They are the same. If you are a born again believer, then you have a measure of the Spirit of God living in you. So if Christ is your Savior, then you already have a measure of the mind of Christ.

But you can’t yield yourself to the mind of someone you don’t even know. In legal terms, would you give power of attorney to just anybody? No, never! You would reserve that right for a loved one, someone you are close to, someone you could trust to make the best decisions for you.

You have got to know Christ before you can yield to His mind!

The Knowledge of Christ

If you want to walk in fullness, to live Christ with all your being, you need more of the mind of Christ. But before you can submit to the mind of Christ, you must have a knowledge Him!

How do you know Jesus Christ? Yes, it absolutely starts with the sinner’s prayer. But to know Jesus intimately, you need the full measure of His mind, that is the fullness of the Spirit of God!

11 For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God.

12 Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God.

13 Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual.

I Corinthians 2:11-13

The Holy Spirit teaches and reveals Christ to us so that we might know Him, and know Him more intimately!

Do you understand the importance of Spirit Baptism? When you are baptized in the Holy Ghost, you are filled with God’s Spirit, totally surrendered to the mind of Christ. Without the Baptism in the Holy Spirit, you can’t completely fulfill the will of God for your life because part of your mind is still in control.

The knowledge of Christ goes much deeper than just studying the historical life of Jesus. It’s more than a head knowledge. To know Christ, you must have an experiential knowledge of Christ.

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

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

Philippians 3:7-8  

What is Paul talking about? All things loss? What things? Because of Jesus, Paul has lost everything. Anything that pertains to this life, Paul said is gone. Any comforts, pleasures, personal pursuits, whatever, Paul counts it all loss that he may win Christ. He counts them loss and even dung compared to the prize—Jesus Christ!

And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith:

10 That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death;

Philippians 3:9-10

To have the knowledge of Christ, or to know Him, means Jesus has become your everything. It’s no longer about what you can do, but all about what Christ does through you.

Do you want to fulfill God’s plan for your life, to know Christ intimately, to have the mind of Christ, to live the life of Christ?

Most of us would say yes, but… I can’t! How can I be expected to live like Christ?

It’s all too overwhelming. I’ll never measure up! There are so many distractions! Do you know what I have to deal with every day? I can’t do this!

You are so right! With so many things competing for your attention, it can be overwhelming! You can’t do this on your own. Nobody can live Christ in their own strength!

The Strength of Christ

The good news is you don’t have to do it on your own! You can’t live Jesus, but…

13 I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.

Philippians 4:13

Think about it! The apostle Paul laid out an impossible objective for you and me. To live is Christ and to die is gain. It would be impossible if you had to do it in your own strength.

It takes the strength of Christ to show you the knowledge of Christ…to draw you closer into His presence.

I know Jesus as Savior, isn’t that enough?

No, it’s just the beginning!

When you have a more personal knowledge or relationship with Christ, His mind can become resident in you.

In John 7, Jesus offers water to the thirsty,

37…Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink.

38 Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.”

39 By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified.

John 7:37-39

The Spirit, or mind of Christ, can’t fully come to you until Jesus has been exalted to a position of glory in your life.

You say Jesus is your Savior…but have you made Him your Lord? Does Jesus dictate every aspect of your life? Is Jesus sitting on the throne of your life? Is He the absolute object and subject of your life?

If Jesus is not Lord of your life, all you have to do is surrender. Right now, call on the name of Jesus. Confess your weakness to Him and He will give you His strength.

The more of you that tries to do it, the less of Him that can. Even if you don’t want to surrender, just be willing to be made willing. Cry out to Jesus and declare Him Lord of your life.

Thank Him and praise Him for what He’s done, and what He’s going to do. Even if it doesn’t feel like much, continue to surrender to Christ. I promise you, God will draw you closer and the mind of Christ will take over. Die to yourself so that Christ can live!

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028: The Man

The Man - Sun May 29 am

You just don’t understand! How can you tell me to love my enemies? You don’t know what they did to me. How can you expect me to have faith and trust that God will work it all out? How can I be expected to do what’s right when everything is going so wrong? I’ve suffered so much! Nobody understands what I’m going through!

Nobody…except the man, Christ Jesus.

For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus;

II Timothy 2:5

Jesus…The King of Kings, The Lord of Lords… Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace… Jesus is so much more, yet He humbled Himself and left the riches of Heaven to live on this earth as a human, to walk where we walk, to face the same temptations we face, to feel the same heartache and hurt you are feeling right now.

The man, Christ Jesus, is the only mediator who can stand before God on our behalf and say: I know what they are feeling! I lived on the earth and faced the constant struggle of flesh warring against the spirit. I felt the same pain and rejection. I even tasted the stinging, bitterness of death for all mankind.

Jesus is our mediator, the great High Priest that stands between our sinful human frailty and a Holy God. However, Jesus is much more than that. God came in the form that we can understand. Jesus blazed a trail for us to follow and set the standard for our life.

Maybe you were blessed to have had great role models and mentors in your life, but people, at their very best will fail you. It’s human nature! No one is perfect!

But Jesus will never let you down! He suffered more than any human ever had to endure, yet He stayed committed to His Father’s will. He’s the perfect example for us to follow. And if you follow closely, when the terrain gets too rough, and too steep, Jesus turns around and picks you up and carries you through it.

Are you struggling with circumstances in this life? Do you feel like no one understands and you just don’t know how you will make it? Then tune into this podcast episode and take comfort in the man, Christ Jesus.

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