044: Now & Then

Life is not making any sense right now! Since I’ve committed all I have to serving Jesus Christ, I’m faced with more temptations and distractions than ever before. It seems like the more I try to do what’s right, the more everything goes wrong. It makes me want to give up and give in!

Emergencies, crisis, and all the circumstances of life don’t take God by surprise. He is in complete control! God saved you for one reason. Everything you go through in this life is to conform you to the image of Christ, and to bring glory and honor to the Lord.

You may not understand why you have to go through it, but how you respond to these trials and temptations right now, will determine what happens then: the day you stand face to face before Jesus.

For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.

I Corinthians 13:12

Now I see through a glass darkly. It may not be clear right now.  .  . the how or why . . . but I have to walk on faith by the glimpses I have right now. Even when my analytical mind just wants to figure it all out . . . to understand how . . . to know why . . . to see what’s going on, I have to trust God is a good, loving God. He knows what He’s doing, even when it makes no sense at all.

When I demand to understand it . . . If I have to have proof . . . If I refuse to submit until I see the proof then it’s no longer faith. Proof negates faith.

I have to have faith that what seems to be a mess right now, God will work it out for His honor and glory, and also for my good. It will all work out, in God’s time.

Tune in to this podcast. Be encouraged to have faith, to trust God, and keep on for Christ. What you do right now . . . who you are right now will be accountable to God then. Whatever pain or suffering, whatever sacrifices you make now in this life, will be so insignificant when you behold the splendor of Jesus Christ then!

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Out Of Weakness

I’m small, insignificant. There’s nothing special about me. I’m not strong, and I’m not smart. No one would pick me for anything.

Do you ever feel this way?

1 Corinthians 1:27 says: “But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty;”

In other words, God has chosen the foolish things, the weak things. He did not call the ones who think they are wise, or strong, or who think they have it all together. That means God chose me. He chose you.

But wait a minute! God said to “be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might” (Ephesians 6:10). Why does God advocate both strength and weakness?

Although confusing, God did not contradict himself. In fact, everything God does comes out of weakness. The weakest state of being is death. Death has no life in it, no movement. Everything has shut down and ceased to be. But we know that Jesus miraculously overcame death, and the grave no longer holds power over us if we know Jesus as our Savior. For us, the greatest miracle was in his resurrection.

In this sense, every promise given to us by God must die so it can be resurrected. God will wait until the improbable becomes impossible. But why?

1 Corinthians 1:29 goes on to say, “That no flesh should glory in his presence.” God waits until all possibility of me having anything to do with the fulfillment of his promise dies so that I don’t get any credit.

When it’s evident that I’m at the end of my rope and I’m struggling to hold on, God will come through for me. Only then I will call God my provider, my strength, and my peace.

Does God mean to wait until I give up hope? Certainly not! Faith isn’t faith until it’s tested. God wants you to be willing to endure and trust him when things don’t seem to be going your way and he doesn’t seem to be pulling through.

So rejoice when it looks impossible! Go ahead and get excited about what God will do. Because when the situation becomes impossible is when God makes it possible.

But if I’m to be weak, then how am I supposed to be strong against the devil?

Note that satan’s quest is for power and authority. Furthermore, while the Spirit of God has no way to work except through us, the devil also has no means to work except through the flesh. It is easy to see that by walking in the flesh, we give the devil the power he so desperately seeks.

On the other hand, we rob the devil of all power by walking in the Spirit and saying no to the flesh. The devil cannot overcome the Spirit that is in you.

However, when we rely on our own strength God’s only choice is to withdraw His. In doing so, we give in to the flesh and give grounds to the devil.

2 Corinthians 12:9 says, “And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness.”

You see, being weak is a prerequisite for being strong. I must be weak before I can be strong. Recall that before Christ could be raised in power, he had to die in weakness. Likewise, before I can be strong in the Lord, I’ve got to be weak in myself.

If you’re feeling weak, burnt out, or broken…be encouraged. Note the people who God uses the most are those who feel completely useless. Because only when we are weak will God make us strong in Him.

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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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The dragon and The Lamb

Dragon and the Lamb - Sun May 1am

As gentle as a lamb…A lamb is a weak and defenseless creature. Yet throughout the Bible, Jesus is referred to as a lamb. It’s easy to understand this depiction when we think of Jesus as the sacrifice for our sins…the Lamb for sinners slain!

But what about in the book of Revelation? Most of us know the book of Revelation is the end…the culmination of events when Jesus puts an end to the devil once and for all…the same devil who has done everything in his power to intimidate, tear down, and deceive as many Christians as he can.

And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world…

Revelation 12:9

How is a defenseless little lamb going to be a match for a fire breathing dragon?

Stay tuned to this podcast episode to learn more about why you should cling to this little Lamb. Even though the circumstances and trials you are facing are bigger than you, you can rest in this Lamb of God! You don’t have to be smarter or more cunning than the devil! You don’t have to be bigger or stronger than the devil! You don’t have to rise equal with the devil because even when the devil brings his best, God only needs a little Lamb to defeat this dragon once and for all.

Digging Ditches

Digging Ditches

I just don’t understand! I’ve done everything I know to do, but nothing is working! How desperate are you? Are you willing to surrender all control and do things God’s way for a change? Will you follow the Lord, even if His way doesn’t seem to make any sense?

Sometimes God’s way doesn’t seem the most logical at the time. Naturally, we like to understand things and sometimes we get too smart for our own good. It’s hard to surrender to God when you are constantly trying to figure things out for yourself.

At some point, you have to trust God and stop leaning on your own understanding.

Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.

In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.

Proverbs 3:5-6

Trust God’s leading even when it doesn’t make sense!

In chapter 3 of II Kings, Jehoram and Jehoshaphat find themselves in a dry, barren wasteland facing a mighty enemy. One of the kings knows he can’t afford to lean on his own understanding. Even when God’s way doesn’t make sense to him he dares to trust God anyway.

The story begins when the king of Moab rises up and rebels against Jehoram, the king of Israel…

But it came to pass, when Ahab was dead, that the king of Moab rebelled against the king of Israel.

Jehoram was a wicked king and “…wrought evil in the sight of the Lord” (2 Kings 3:2).

Although Jehoram was ungodly and leading Israel away from the things of God, he didn’t mind enlisting the help of a God fearing man.

Jehoram makes a plea to Jehoshaphat, the good king of Judah.

Will you help me fight the king of Moab? I don’t need your God, except when I’m in trouble. Aren’t we guilty of the same? We like to do things our way, follow our own plans, do our own thing until we are facing tragic circumstances. Then we are quick to call on the prayer warriors.

Jehoshaphat was a righteous king, and for whatever reason agreed to join forces with Jehoram to fight their common enemy, the Moabites. Maybe Jehoshaphat longed for the divided kingdoms of Israel and Judah to be united once again.

I can almost picture Jehoram, frantic because his gods were failing him. He’s about to lose part of his kingdom and all the tribute from the king of Moab. The power and wealth that he put so much faith in, along with all the pleasures that it afforded him were fading away. He was distressed!

Jehoram must have relied on the calm, steady nature of Jehoshaphat for his faith was in a God that wouldn’t fail him.

And [Jehoram] said, Which way shall we go up? And [Jehoshaphat] answered, The way through the wilderness of Edom.

Jehoram, desperate to save himself, followed Jehoshaphat’s plan and went by way of Edom where they joined forces with the king of Edom.

Edom was a desert, barren land. Sadly, the Edomites were cursed to live in this unfertile land all because they were the descendants of Esau. It all started when Esau forfeited his birthright and blessing for a measly bowl of beans just to satisfy his own flesh (Genesis 25).

So the king of Israel went, and the king of Judah, and the king of Edom: and they fetched a compass of seven days’ journey: and there was no water for the host, and for the cattle that followed them.

Talk about gloom and doom! These three kings were facing the mighty Moabite army, but now even more vulnerable, they were stranded in a barren wasteland with no water supply.

What do you do when all hope is gone and there’s nothing left to do? Most of us would say cry out to God for help. But Jehoram was wicked. Rather than humble himself and turn to God and repent, he mocks and blames God for their predicament…

10 And the king of Israel said, Alas! that the Lord hath called these three kings together, to deliver them into the hand of Moab!

However, Jehoshaphat trusted the One True God for everything, especially when there was no hope in sight. Jehoshaphat was committed to God not just in the best of times, but in the worst of times as well. He knew he had to seek the Lord for help and guidance, else all would be lost.

While Jehoram ranted and raved about their plight…

Jehoshaphat trusted the Lord! Let’s see what my God has to say!

11 But Jehoshaphat said, Is there not here a prophet of the Lord, that we may enquire of the Lord by him? And one of the king of Israel’s servants answered and said, Here is Elisha the son of Shaphat, which poured water on the hands of Elijah.

12 And Jehoshaphat said, The word of the Lord is with him. So the king of Israel and Jehoshaphat and the king of Edom went down to him.

So Jehoram, Jehoshaphat, and the king of Edom went to the prophet Elisha to seek God’s will.

Can you imagine what Elisha must have thought when wicked Jehoram sought the advice from a prophet of the very God he had blatantly disregarded and disobeyed?

13 And Elisha said unto the king of Israel, What have I to do with thee? get thee to the prophets of thy father, and to the prophets of thy mother. And the king of Israel said unto him, Nay: for the Lord hath called these three kings together, to deliver them into the hand of Moab.

You can feel the hostile sarcasm of Elisha when he asks Jehoram, “…What have I to do with thee?” Why don’t you go to the prophets of your mother and father? You know the ones you chose to serve instead of the Lord God Almighty. If the idols and false gods that satisfied your flesh were good enough before, why aren’t they good enough now?

Of course, Jehoram smugly replies, your God is no better, “…for the LORD hath called these three kings together, to deliver them into the hand of Moab.”

14 And Elisha said, As the Lord of hosts liveth, before whom I stand, surely, were it not that I regard the presence of Jehoshaphat the king of Judah, I would not look toward thee, nor see thee.

Elisha agreed to seek God’s will, but made it perfectly clear it was not for the evil King Jehoram. Essentially, if it wasn’t for the godly King Jehoshaphat, Elisha “… would not look toward thee, nor see thee.” Thankfully, there are still people today like Jehoshaphat who have a testimony of living right to please God.

Elisha prayed for an answer and the Lord revealed His will…

16 And he said, Thus saith the Lord, Make this valley full of ditches.

Dig a ditch in the middle of a desert! Not just one ditch, but cover the whole valley full of ditches!

I can hear Jehoram…Really Elisha? That’s all you’ve got! You want us to dig ditches when we should be wielding a sword! How’s that going to defeat the enemy?

Like Jehoshaphat, are you willing to trust the Lord when it just doesn’t make sense?

17 For thus saith the Lord, Ye shall not see wind, neither shall ye see rain; yet that valley shall be filled with water, that ye may drink, both ye, and your cattle, and your beasts.

I’m sure they all had their doubts. We are facing an army! We have absolutely no water for the troops or our animals. There’s no clouds in the sky, no sign of rain whatsoever… so where’s the water going to come from?

Have you ever wondered how God would work all the mess out in your life? Are you facing decisions right now that you just aren’t prepared to make? Nothing catches God off guard!

18 And this is but a light thing in the sight of the Lord: he will deliver the Moabites also into your hand.

It’s nothing for the Lord, a light thing!

God will conquer the Moabites His way, and not by man’s devices. Put your swords down, pick up your shovel, and start digging!

God said dig a ditch, and He will fill it! If you do your part and obey, God will do the rest.

The Bible doesn’t tell us…but I wonder if Jehoram even picked up a shovel. Or was that just too humiliating…digging ditches in a desert? Really? Was Jehoram content to rest in his tent while Jehoshaphat did all the hard work?

I’m sure it wasn’t easy and Jehoshaphat may have struggled with feelings of resentment towards Jehoram. But Jehoshaphat knew he wasn’t digging ditches for Jehoram or himself. Jehoshaphat dug those ditches because God told him to! This work was for something greater than defeating the Moabites. This work was about the whole nation of Israel, bringing a divided kingdom together to witness the glory of God.

What are you willing to do to be in God’s will? Will you humbly dig a ditch when you’ve planned to wield a sword? God wants to use you to build His Kingdom, to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ to a lost and dying world. But it’s got to be His way…

Dig a ditch, and God will fill it!

20 And it came to pass in the morning, when the meat offering was offered, that, behold, there came water by the way of Edom, and the country was filled with water.

The water God promised came from Edom. Wait a minute! A miracle came from the barren, cursed wasteland of Edom. Never underestimate what God can do! He can make a way where there seems to be no way. Sometimes your hopeless situation, might turn out to be your next miracle.

God will provide! It may not be how you would have imagined. Trust God anyhow! He is in complete control of every situation you might be facing today and He is faithful to those that are committed to Him!

Okay, it all sounds good! I want to commit myself to God, but I am no king Jehoshaphat. If anything, I’ve been like wretched Jehoram. I don’t deserve a miracle! I’m in this mess because of my own rotten self. I chose this path and it’s only right that I suffer the consequences.

God will take your wretchedness, your mistakes, your faults, and turn all of it into a vessel of honor for Him, if you are willing.

None of us deserve God’s mercy, but He extends it anyway. Without Jesus Christ we all deserve an eternity in hell separated from God.

God wants to work miracles in and through your life, but the greatest miracle starts with knowing Jesus as Lord and Savior. God gave His only begotten Son, Jesus, not because you deserve it, but because He loves you! God is full of mercy and compassion and wants to work everything out in your life for your good, and for His honor and glory.

The Moabite army assembled, put on their armor, and waited at their border for the battle to begin.

22 And they rose up early in the morning, and the sun shone upon the water, and the Moabites saw the water on the other side as red as blood:

Miraculously, God angled the sun’s rays just right so that the water reflected red. The Moabites thought the ditches were full of the blood of the three kings and their armies.

23 And they said, This is blood: the kings are surely slain, and they have smitten one another: now therefore, Moab, to the spoil.

The Moabites reasoned, surely everyone’s dead. The spoils are ours for the taking and we don’t even have to fight for it. And they proceeded down into the camp …

24 And when they came to the camp of Israel, the Israelites rose up and smote the Moabites, so that they fled before them: but they went forward smiting the Moabites, even in their country.

The Moabites were defeated! Not by man’s way! But God’s way, with a valley full of ditches!

What about your life? Are you facing enemies right now wondering how you are going to make it through? Sickness, cancer, depression, … relationship problems, financial struggles, and the list goes on and on…You worry and wonder how it’s all going to work out.

Do you want to see God move? Then provide the vessel… Dig a ditch to hold the outpouring and God will fill it up to overflowing.

If you need a miracle, God needs a ditch to fill! If you need salvation… He’s the Savior! If you want to be filled… He’s the Baptizer! If you are sick… He’s the healer.

Whatever you have need of, God is willing and able to meet your need. But if you never dig the ditch, how can you expect God to fill it?

Commit yourself to God! Set time aside for prayer! Turn the TV off and read God’s word! Fast a meal or two! Walk in the Spirit! Live a life to please God!

God said to make the valley full of ditches, not just a little hole in front of your tent. But cover the entire community with ditches. The work of God is not just about you… Miracles don’t just happen so my circumstances change. The power of God is demonstrated to point souls to Jesus Christ! An outpouring of God’s Spirit is about building God’s Kingdom and bringing glory to God.

We want an outpouring of God, but are we willing to pick up a shovel and dig some ditches to receive it? When you’re desperate for God, you will dig…But you don’t have to wait for a tragedy to seek the Lord.

Break out that shovel that you used a long time ago when you first got saved. Recall that moment when you first cried out to Jesus. Remember when you were desperate for something this world couldn’t offer.

Pick up that shovel and start digging ditches. Be committed and faithful to God’s work. Don’t question His way. Just dig, and dig, until the miraculous outpouring of God comes.

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The Eternal Now

 

Eternal Now - Sun Apr 10Eternity…Our minds can’t even fathom what eternity will be like. While we live on this earth bound by time, God exists in one time. He doesn’t have a yesterday or a tomorrow. He is not limited by time. God lives in an eternal now.

Do you ever reminisce and wonder where all the years have gone? God sees everything and knows everything from start to finish. Do you sit and wonder what tomorrow will bring? While we look ahead anticipating what the future will hold, God is already there.

Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever thou hadst formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, thou art God.

Psalm 90:2

God is from everlasting to everlasting. He is the first and last, the alpha and omega, the beginning and the end.

Your time on earth starts at birth and ends at death (or the rapture). However, whether you realize it or not, the only time that really matters for you is right now…this very moment in time. The past you can’t change, and your future belongs to God. The only thing you have control over is a decision in this temporary now. Will you decide to live for Jesus, or live for yourself?

In Time Past

I wish I could live a Christian life! I’ve tried, but I have so many regrets. I feel so unworthy…so many mistakes, so many wrong choices, and now I have to live with them! I don’t know if I’ll ever overcome this. I’ll never be good enough!

Sound familiar?

No matter what you’ve been through, whether you have a lifetime of wonderful memories or haunting regrets, one thing is for certain. We all have a past and there’s no going back. There are no do-overs! What’s done is done!

1And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins;

Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience:

Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.

Ephesians 2:1-3

In time past you were dead in trespasses and sin. All of us, saved and unsaved alike, have at some point in time lived in disobedience to please the flesh. But praise God our lives don’t have to be judged by the times past.

The question is: what are you doing right now?

 

Right Now

There are certain days that stand out as you look back over your life. We cherish and safeguard happy, joyous occasions with photos, scrap books, or souvenirs. While heartbreaking, tragic events that we wish we could forget, remain embedded in our conscious as long as we live. Some say all these things mold and make you into who you are. All these circumstances, good or bad, may affect your life here on earth. However, the most important event that should concern each and every one of us affects not just your time on earth, but your eternity when you leave this earth. The most important time of your life is the time at hand, right now…

Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: for the time is at hand.

Revelation 1:3 (emphasis mine)

Time is at hand for all of us. Right now is the most crucial time of your life! Your right now moment changes with each tick of the clock. It’s only God’s mercy that we are given another right now moment.

None of us deserve it…

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;)

                Ephesians 2:4-5

That’s why it’s called amazing grace! It’s not about how good you can be. You can’t be holy enough to earn God’s favor.

For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:

Not of works, lest any man should boast.

Ephesians 2:8-9

Even the most kind, compassionate person can’t be good enough to approach God. If it was about good works, then there was no need for Jesus to suffer and die a cruel death on a cross. But it’s not about how good we can be. The Bible says ”…there is none that doeth good, no, not one” (Romans 3:12).

If you don’t know Jesus as Lord and Savior, salvation is a gift that is yours for the taking. All you have to do is receive it, right now! Essentially that’s all you have is right now. There’s no point in looking ahead to the future because you aren’t guaranteed another moment.

 

Time No Longer

Your future belongs to God! If you’re saved, then your future is secure in Christ! However, whether you are saved or not, God still holds your future. What you do with your now moment determines how you will stand before God in eternity

But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ.

Ephesians 2:13

If you say yes to Jesus, God will judge you for your right now decision “…by the blood of Christ.”

I’m not ready to surrender to God right now! One day when the time is right, I will call on Jesus then. God gave me a choice to do it that way, right?

You do have a choice right now who you will serve? But there are no guarantees you will ever be given the opportunity again. Time is running out!

And sware by him that liveth for ever and ever, who created heaven, and the things that therein are, and the earth, and the things that therein are, and the sea, and the things which are therein, that there should be time no longer:

Revelation 10:6 (emphasis mine)

There is coming a day, according to the book of Revelation, when time will be no longer. When you enter the eternal now one day, you will either stand before God in His mercy or in His judgement.

If you choose to submit to Christ in this temporary now, your past will be covered by the blood of Jesus. However, if you never take advantage of the now moment, then you will stand before God in judgement. Your life will be judged by your time past.

I’ve been a good person! I haven’t committed any crimes. What do I have to worry about?

No flesh can stand before a Holy, Righteous God and live! You must be covered in the blood of Christ!

God sounds so frightening and intimidating!

God is all-powerful! He is not the most powerful, but all-powerful! If He was the most powerful, then there would be others in line as the next most powerful. But there isn’t even a close second most powerful! God is all powerful!

Yes, He is all-powerful to carry out His justice in righteousness. But God is equally all-powerful to cover me in His love, mercy, and grace. God is all-powerful in everything!

You may be resisting God every step of the way, but He loves you so much and has done everything to make a way for you to be saved. No matter where you go God still loves you and continues to draw you to Himself.

Thou hast beset me behind and before, and laid thine hand upon me.

Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high, I cannot attain unto it.

Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence?

If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there.

Psalm 139:5-8

The word beset in Psalm 139:5 means to confine or corral in. God is working right now in your life. He sets up circumstances and situations in your life, not to control you, but to guide you to the cross. In mercy and love, He narrows your path and points you to surrender to Jesus Christ.

You’re not a robot. God won’t force His will on anyone. It’s your choice what you do with Jesus right now. Those who make Jesus Lord and Savior of their life, not years ago or yesterday, but right now, the eternal benefits and blessings of being a child of God begin right now.

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

That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.

Ephesians 2:6-7

In God’s eternal now, if you are in Christ, you are already seated with Christ. The riches of God’s grace are yours. Instead of judgment, you are covered in His loving kindness right now.

Will this be your now moment? You can draw near to God right now by just calling on the name of Jesus. Then you can say I was once a sinner eternally separated from a Holy God, but now…because of the blood of Jesus Christ, I am a part of the Kingdom of God. You can sit with Christ in heavenly places, and partake of God’s mercy and goodness.

 

 

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A Wall Great and High

Part 2

A Wall Great & High

Like you and me, John’s thoughts of heaven were limited by his human flesh. It was when he was carried away in the Spirit that John truly saw the splendor of the Holy Jerusalem.

John was carried away in the spirit.

10 And he carried me away in the spirit to a great and high mountain, and shewed me that great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God,

Revelation 21:10

Without the Spirit, we aren’t strong enough or smart enough to understand the Kingdom of God. The path beyond the great and high wall must go through the Spirit.

God wants His children to realize heaven is so much more than just an escape from hell! If your concept of heaven is nothing more than a nice place to go and live out eternity, then you are missing out. Heaven is so much more than a place to experience pleasures forevermore. Heaven is Heaven because the presence and glory of Jesus Christ is there!

The Holy City that John saw is not just a place, but it represents everything God is working toward in the lives of the redeemed; it’s the culmination of everything God has promised the Church. It’s the long awaited union of Christ with His bride!

But until we actually enter that Holy City, there is a wall great and high between us and Heaven.

12 And had a wall great and high, and had twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels, and names written thereon, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel:

Revelation 21:12

This wall doesn’t change or move for anyone. There’s only one way into heaven! You can’t charm your way in or bribe your way in. You can’t disguise yourself as something you’re not. You can’t make it into the Heavenly Kingdom by attending church, or by playing church.

In fact, in Matthew 7:21-23 Jesus warns us that even demonstrating spiritual gifts and doing good works won’t get you into heaven.

21 Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.

22 Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?

23 And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.

Matthew 7:21-23

Then how am I supposed to make it in? How do I know I will be able to make it past that wall great and high?

27 And [Jesus] said, The things which are impossible with men are possible with God.

Luke 18:27

You can’t do anything within yourself to be worthy of heaven. God knew it was impossible for us to live without sin so He sent His only begotten Son to be the sacrifice for our sin. All you have to do is accept this gift of salvation and follow the blood trail of Jesus Christ straight to that city.

When you repent and ask Jesus to wash your sins away, your name is written in the Lamb’s Book of Life. Have you made Jesus Lord of your life? This is the starting point of your journey, but it doesn’t stop here.

You were saved for a purpose! The Christian life is never a chair of experience; it’s a walk! It’s an ever changing, always increasing experience, a path that leads you closer and closer to God.

How do I get out of the chair and start fulfilling God’s purpose and will for my life?

Be filled with the Spirit!

15 See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise,

16 Redeeming the time, because the days are evil.

17 Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is.

18 And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit;

Ephesian 5:15-18

 The role of God’s Holy Spirit is crucial in your walk with Christ. The baptism in the Holy Ghost is not an option, but a command. The Bible clearly tells us to be filled with the Spirit!

Don’t be drunk with wine for it impairs your senses and judgements to serve the flesh. Instead be filled with the Spirit so God’s Holy Ghost can possess and control your every thought, feeling, and action to serve Jesus Christ.

When you are filled with God’s Holy Ghost, you surrender all control to God’s will. When He says speak, you speak! When He says go, you go! Whatever He wants, you do, because you are no longer in control!

However, just because you’ve been filled before doesn’t necessarily mean you are filled right now. We need to be filled and refilled with the Spirit on a daily basis to flush out all the worldly garbage that our lives are inundated with every day. We need to be refreshed not only to counter the influences of the world, but to keep our own flesh in check.

I don’t understand how I can be controlled by Christ if I am trapped inside this flesh.

Walk in the Spirit!

16 This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.

Galatians 5:16

Walk in the spirit! In the flesh, it’s impossible! You can’t go anywhere or do anything for God without His Spirit! You were saved so that God could have a vessel to live in. God wants to transform you so that you look like, act like, and even think like His Son, Jesus Christ. However, this is impossible in the flesh! Without God’s Holy spirit leading you, you’ll never completely fulfill all that God wants you to be.

What can I do for God? I have so little to offer, and I am afraid of what God might ask me to do.

Faith is a risk!

In a parable in Matthew 25, Jesus likens the Kingdom of Heaven to a man who goes away and leaves three servants in charge of his money. When the master returns, he honors and rewards two of the servants for taking their talents and investing them wisely. Despite the risk, these two men invested all they had and received a return on the investment. They were called faithful servants and were made rulers over many things. However, the master condemns the third servant for hiding and not investing his part of the money. Despite his excuses, because the servant didn’t use what he was given, what little he had was taken away, and he was called wicked and slothful.

The truth is the only thing we have to offer God is our faith and willingness! When we step out in faith and invest what little we have, God honors and multiplies our willingness into something He can use. When we realize without God we can do nothing, then the flesh can’t take credit, and all the glory and honor goes to God.

Are you serving God with everything you have? Do you hear Christ calling you into a closer walk with Him? Do you feel God challenging you to leave your comfort zone and do the impossible?

Flesh can’t do the impossible!

…Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the Lord of hosts.

 Zechariah 4:6

If you accomplish anything for God, it must be done by the Spirit of God!

Not only does God want you to make it past that wall great and high, but He wants to use you to lead others into the Kingdom as well. However, the path over this wall great and high must go through the Spirit. Only those things done in the Spirit will last for all eternity.

 

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A Wall Great and High

 Part 1

A Wall Great & High

We all have our own thoughts about what heaven will be like. Do you dream of spending an eternity fellowshipping with family and friends? Or do you imagine endless days enjoying your favorite sport, hobby, or pastime? Do images of the perfect paradise come to mind: a place to experience pleasures untold? We talk about the streets of gold, the gates of pearl, and the mansions bright! But the truth is our finite human minds can’t even imagine just how glorious heaven will be.

 

In Revelation 21, John was taken away in the spirit and shown the holy Jerusalem.

10 And he carried me away in the spirit to a great and high mountain, and shewed me that great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God,

Revelation 21:10

Around that holy city there was a feature so prominent that John had to describe it—a wall great and high.

11 Having the glory of God: and her light was like unto a stone most precious, even like a jasper stone, clear as crystal;

12 And had a wall great and high, and had twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels, and names written thereon, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel:

13 On the east three gates; on the north three gates; on the south three gates; and on the west three gates.

14 And the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and in them the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.

Revelation 21:11-14

 

A structure that extraordinary was not put there by accident. Nothing God does is by accident! Why would God put a wall around His Holy City? What’s so significant about this wall? There are four things I believe this wall tells us.

1) The wall creates a boundary.

The wall John saw declares there is an inside and an outside to God’s Kingdom. You are either inside or outside; there’s no in between. There is a stark contrast between what is on the inside and what is on the outside. This boundary creates a property line. Those inside belong in the Kingdom and have rightfully taken their place as heirs to all its riches.

7 He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son.

Revelation 21:7

Sadly, those that don’t make it into the Kingdom will be outside, eternally separated from God, and will take their place in the lake of fire and brimstone.

 

8 But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.

Revelation 21:8

 

2) The wall is a shield from evil.

We have walls around our homes to protect us from the elements and from anything that will harm us. This wall great and high will shield the children of God from all evil!

And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away. And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new…

Revelation 21:4-5

There will be no more sorrow, no more pain, and no more death because there will be no more curse (Revelation 22:3).

Our enemy, Satan, will be destroyed, and will never threaten the Christian ever again. Hallelujah! And the greatest enemy, man’s own flesh, will be defeated as well! The flesh man will no longer wage war against the spirit man because there won’t be any flesh in that heavenly Kingdom.

50 Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption.

Corinthians 15:50

 

3) The wall denotes exclusiveness.

Nobody likes to be excluded from anything, but not just anybody can enter into the presence of a King. You have to be invited in. The good news is God’s love and mercy is so great that He doesn’t want to exclude anyone from His Kingdom. In fact, “…whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Romans 10:13). We all have sinned! And it doesn’t matter if you’re rich or poor, God has made a way for you. Regardless of your race or ethnicity, He wants to adopt you into His family. Despite whatever crimes you have committed, God wants to be your Father. He wants you to inherit His Kingdom more than you do. All you have to do is accept the precious gift of salvation God has provided through His Son Jesus Christ!

That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.

 Romans 10:9  

When you make Jesus Lord of your life, He washes your sins away and you become a child of the Most High God! Purchased by the blood Jesus shed on the cross.

16 The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God:

17 And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.

Romans 8:16-17

By making Christ our Lord, we become joint-heirs with Him. And if we continue steadfast in the faith and don’t quit then we will live forevermore in the wonderful presence of God!

7 He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son.

Revelation 21:7

 

However, if you’re not in Christ and not an heir, then you don’t belong in the kingdom. Just know that your exclusion is by your own choice and not because God didn’t invite you in and make provision for you.

 

4) The wall has certain foundations.

Great massive structures are built on deep, solid foundations that don’t shift or give way. Likewise, this great and high wall is not built on just any foundation, but one that is anchored and unfailing. It’s not built on celebrities or personalities! The wall is not built on selfish ambitions or pleasures. It’s not even built on noble causes or good works, for all these will eventually fail.

 

14 And the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and in them the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.

Revelation 21:14

The wall is built on the twelve apostles of the lamb. The foundation is the life that is sold out to the Lamb of God: not perfect people, but those that have been washed in the blood of the Lamb and have dedicated every fiber of their being to Christ. Have you dedicated your life to the Lamb of God?

 

Who is this Lamb of God?

He was the sacrifice for my sin and yours: the one that washes our sins away by the blood He shed on the cross.

 …Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.

John 1:29

 

The church is betrothed to this Lamb. And one day the bride will join the groom in a perfect union for all eternity to experience pleasures forever more. Heaven is more than just a geographical location. It is the fulfillment of every promise God has made to His Bride—the Church!

 Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready.

And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints.

Revelation 19:7-8

 

What foundation are you building your life on? Are you washed in the blood? When Jesus washes your sins away, then you become a part of the Church. You become the Bride of Christ!

As the Bride of Christ, is your life sold out to the Lamb of God? A love sick bride longs for the day when she finally unites with the groom in holy matrimony. Her wedding day is all she can think about. It consumes her thoughts and energies in planning and making preparations for the big day. Is Jesus your everything? Do you dream of the day when you will see Jesus face to face? Is your life devoted to pleasing Jesus?

You see Heaven doesn’t exist for our pleasure! The sole purpose of Heaven is for the pleasure of Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God! It is God’s Heaven and He decides who gets in.

When you come to God through the blood of Jesus, your name is written in the Lamb’s Book of Life.

27 And there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb’s book of life.

Revelation 21:27

Until we actually enter that holy city, there is a wall great and high between us and the Kingdom. If your mind is made up to live for Jesus, then you are going to inherit and inhabit this heaven. God wants you to go to heaven more than you do! However, it’s God’s wall, His Holy City, and His kingdom. God makes up the rules. We either get in His way or not at all. So until you’re ready to exchange your will, your passions, and your preferences for His divine purposes, you won’t get in. You have to surrender everything to Jesus Christ!

 

 

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The Miracle Jesus Would Not Perform

The Miracle Jesus Would Not Perform

PT 2

Throughout His life on earth Jesus performed many miracles: ministering to the hurting, the hungry, and the hopeless.  While He was hanging on the cross, the onlookers taunted and provoked Him to perform yet one more miracle.

He saved others; himself he cannot save. If he be the King of Israel, let him now come down from the cross, and we will believe him.

Matthew 27:42

They all watched and waited with anticipation to witness some magic.  But kingdoms aren’t built on sensationalism.  Kingdoms are built on sacrifice! What are you willing to sacrifice for the Kingdom of God?  Are you afraid of what God will ask you to do?  Much like Jesus, Nehemiah knew what had to be done.  When Nehemiah heard that the wall of Jerusalem was broken down after the Babylonian Captivity, he responded to God’s call.

And it came to pass, when I heard these words, that I sat down and wept, and mourned certain days, and fasted, and prayed before the God of heaven,

And said, I beseech thee, O Lord God of heaven, the great and terrible God, that keepeth covenant and mercy for them that love him and observe his commandments:

Let thine ear now be attentive, and thine eyes open, that thou mayest hear the prayer of thy servant, which I pray before thee now, day and night, for the children of Israel thy servants, and confess the sins of the children of Israel, which we have sinned against thee: both I and my father’s house have sinned.

We have dealt very corruptly against thee, and have not kept the commandments, nor the statutes, nor the judgments, which thou commandedst thy servant Moses.

Nehemiah 1:4-7

Nehemiah mourned and was burdened for the condition of His homeland.  Notice how he not only fasted and prayed, but repented, not just for his sin, but for the sin of the whole nation.

God called Nehemiah to rebuild the wall around Jerusalem.  From the very start of the project, Nehemiah met opposition.  If you serve God with any diligence, then you will certainly encounter opposition as well.

Nehemiah and the workers toiled in the hot sun building a wall, brick by brick.  It was hard, back breaking labor, but they were committed.  All the while, Sanballat “…took great indignation, and mocked the Jews” (Nehemiah 4:1), along with Tobiah taunting “…if a fox go up, he shall even break down their stone wall” (Nehemiah 4:3).  Nobody likes to be made fun of!  However, Nehemiah suppressed his feelings and refused to come down and compromise the work God called him to do.

Sanballat and Tobiah were angry when they saw the worker’s determination and the wall progressing, so they changed their tactics.  Their mockery turned to terrorism!  Nehemiah and all the workers were in constant fear of an ambush.  Has satan ever tried to paralyze you with a spirit of fear?

Despite the distraction, Nehemiah and the workers prayed and “…set a watch against them day and night…” (Nehemiah 4:9).  Nevertheless, Nehemiah refused to step off the wall, and the people worked as a team; half of the people worked, while the other half watched with weapons in hand ready to defend against an attack.

When the work was on the verge of completion, and all the breaches in the wall were closed, Sanballat and Tobiah employed a whole different strategy.  Knowing Nehemiah was a diplomat and involved with political affairs, Sanballat repeatedly insisted Nehemiah join in a very important meeting.  Sanballat continued attempts to manipulate Nehemiah into a compromise by slandering Nehemiah’s name and even hiring a false prophet to prophesy gloom and doom over him.

It would’ve been easy for Nehemiah to justify leaving the wall to right the wrong committed against him.   The devil wants us to come off of the wall for just a little while.  He knows once you start coming down, there’s nowhere to stop. Many people compromise the call of Christ (or put it on hold, if that’s even possible) for a “good” cause.  However, there isn’t a cause great enough to abandon God’s will.

There are many examples in the Bible of those who didn’t stay the course, compromised their calling, and eventually left God’s will completely.  Samson left his work and went down to Gaza, and eventually met Delilah.  Jonah left the call and went to Tarshish, and from there down to the belly of a fish.  … You can’t run from God’s will. He will win out in the end!

The devil will use whatever means necessary to distract you from carrying out God’s plan for your life.  When God calls you to start a work, no matter how small or great it may seem, no matter how far-fetched or ridiculous it is to others, you must follow through and keep your focus on building the Kingdom for Christ.

Just like Jesus upon the cross, Nehemiah’s mind was made up to stay on the wall because if he compromised, the project would have never been completed.  But it was completed! The wall was finished in 52 days because Nehemiah refused to come down.

What is your why?

Why are you serving God? Are you in it for the many blessings and benefits it brings?

Is it because you were raised as a Christian and it’s all you know?  Do you fear letting your parents down?  Do you serve God as your insurance to escape hell?  Whatever your reason, if it’s not to bring glory and honor to God,  if it’s not to spread the gospel and build Christ’s kingdom for eternity, then it will all be in vain.

When your why is bigger than your what, then you will accomplish something for God!

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The Miracle Jesus Would Not Perform

pt 1

The Miracle Jesus Would Not Perform

 

Have you ever wondered if all the effort and sacrifices you make as a Christian are really worth it?  Are you tempted to give up, slow down, or just take a short break thinking it won’t matter?  Jesus faced this same temptation to do His own thing, to satisfy His own flesh and desires, and abandon the will of His Father.

Throughout His life on this earth, Jesus was moved with compassion and performed many miracles. From calming storms to casting out demons, from healing sickness and disease to raising the dead, there was no question He had authority over everything.  However, there was a miracle Jesus didn’t perform. A miracle that would have relieved His own suffering, yet He chose not to do it.

While Jesus agonized on the cross,

39…they that passed by reviled him, wagging their heads,

40and saying, Thou that destroyest the temple, and buildest it in three days, save thyself.  If thou be the Son of God, come down from the cross. 

Matthew 27:39-40 (emphasis mine)

Could Jesus have come down from the cross?  Absolutely! It would have been the easy thing to do!  Think for a moment, if you were hanging on that cross.  The physical agony alone would have been unbearable.  Add to that, the condemnation, the shame, the ridicule…

41 Likewise also the chief priests mocking him, with the scribes and elders, said,

42 He saved others; himself he cannot save. If he be the King of Israel, let him now come down from the cross, and we will believe him.

43 He trusted in God; let him deliver him now, if he will have him: for he said, I am the Son of God.

Matthew 27:41-43(emphasis mine)

While Jesus hung on the cross the devil in desperation used every force in his power to tempt Jesus to compromise the mission.  You see the devil knew Jesus was so close to fulfilling the Father’s perfect plan for His life.  Like Jesus, God has a perfect plan for your life, and satan will do everything he can to distract you from following it.   The devil’s tactics haven’t changed.  He will discourage you, mock you, and even slander your name.  He will do whatever it takes to get your focus off of building the kingdom of Christ.

If Jesus had come down from the cross and not fulfilled His Father’s will, then the whole plan of salvation would have been jeopardized. Instead, He declared “…not as I will, but as thou will” (Matthew 26:39). Jesus stayed on the cross so you and I would not be condemned to death and eternal suffering in a devil’s hell.  But more importantly, Jesus refused to come down from the cross so He could fully keep His word in fulfilling the will of The Father!

And [Jesus] said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.

Luke 9:23

Jesus was saying, you can’t be my disciples unless you stay latched to your cross.  You may find yourself struggling to stay committed and focused on your walk with Christ, but if you come down from your cross, there is a great work that will suffer.  If you quit now, you might be on the brink of a major breakthrough for the kingdom.

In the end, all that is going to matter is what’s done for Christ! It’s not about me and my comfort level.  It’s not about getting out of an uncomfortable situation, but about whether or not I am going to stay the course and be faithful to Christ.

Jesus could’ve performed the miracle of His own deliverance, but He refused. In doing so, He accomplished so much more for His Father and for us!

What about you? Are you willing to follow Christ everyday when it means staying committed to the cross?

Let me know your thoughts in the comments section below.

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