Rooted Above

Some pity the military lifestyle; while even fewer understands it. In the midst of yet another moving season, it is easy to feel isolated and overwhelmed with the rapid changes that seem to all hit you at once. As friends say goodbye, boxes are packed and final photos are taken, the inevitable becomes all the more real. With many proverbial plates in the air, taking on any new challenges, such as searching for a new home, church and school for your children, seem truly beyond reach. Quiet murmurs of others can become a near constant drone of worry, shock and horror. If such negativity is paid too much attention to, the military family themselves can begin to internalize these comments and actually start to pity the very place where God has called them.

 

This was the case for myself as my husband had just left for a year at another U.S. Embassy within the Middle East. I had our two young children to comfort as they cried for their daddy both day and night and begged him over video chats to come home. In the midst of this rollercoaster of emotions and desperately trying to plug into this new American community to share life with for the year, comments would be shared in passing that would take my fatigued self off guard at time.

 

As well intentioned as these comments were, the very last thing I needed to hear were further reminders that many could not relate to my current trial. “I can’t believe you have to go through this. I could never do it! I feel so sad for you. You are like a single parent!” Others would aim their comments on the fact that my husband was away and affirm their own views that men are not needed anyway. “See, we women don’t need men in our lives to take care of us! Look at you! You are doing just fine looking after the kids and your husband is on the other side of the world.” I would reject the notion that I didn’t need my husband and would take the opportunity to affirm my husband and his vital role. Yet, even still, I began to harbor resentment towards my husband for doing the job that we had both prayed about prior to him accepting the position within this specific U.S. Embassy.

 

Although we had the direction of God, there was not a let up on the daily difficulties and pressure all around us. It was truly such a needed blessing to be affirmed by both family and close friends through prayer and constant contact amidst it all. I had to continually take these daily challenges back to the Lord through prayer as days of this journey turned into weeks and then into the first two months completed. We knew that we were where we were supposed to be. I would then consequently ask the Lord why we were enduring so much difficulty along the way.

 

What continued to come back to my heart was the reality that as Christians, no matter how many or how few are standing at our sides to affirm our walk with the Lord is really irrelevant. What does in fact matter is in whom we place our trust and eternal hope. The call of every Christian, military or otherwise, is to do the will of God whether others are standing alongside us with pom-poms, billboards and broad smiles or we find ourselves standing alone before strangers as they prepare to take our very lives. As the Apostle Paul assures all followers of Jesus Christ within his letter of Romans, “if God is for us, who is against us? (Romans 8:31)”.

 

Ladies, the peace of God is not given strictly to those with luxurious lifestyles and personal shoppers—no, not by a long shot! The peace of God, according to the Bible, is available to all through Jesus Christ and it will blow logic clear out of the water! When the world tells you to worry, the Bible will encourage you to worship God for His goodness (1 Chronicles 16:34, 2 Chronicles 5:13, 2 Chronicles 7:3, Psalm 86:5 & Psalm 100:5). When the world tells you to feel depressed, the Bible encourages you to deepen your faith by holding fast to the promises of God (Psalm 27:13-14, Psalm 31:24, Psalm 62:5 & Isaiah 25:9). When the world tells you to give up, the Bible encourages you to give it all to Jesus in prayer (Matthew 6:19-21, Matthew 6:25, Hebrews 4:15-16 & 1 Peter 5:6-7). You see, no matter what the circumstances may be in front of you, God has encouragement for you to faithfully lead you through each step with His divine presence and supernatural peace (John 14:26-27). How do we go about acquiring such peace? We are told in Philippians 4:6-7 that we are to bring all of our concerns, issues and baggage to the Lord Jesus Christ in prayer. Jesus Christ is our direct access to God the Father; there is no other way to approach God but through the risen Messiah Jesus Christ our Lord (1 Timothy 2:5-6). Therefore, regardless of the boxes of worry, anxiety, chaos or suffocating doubt that may be trying to envelop you at present reality; reject the stacking fears and cry out to the Lord Jesus Christ this very moment for His intervention, intercession and direction.

As a military spouse, it is a challenge to move from familiarity, uproot and embrace another set of calendar years in the next duty station; especially once we add children and a deployed spouse to the mix. But! There amidst these challenging times, there is hope from above! You see, regardless of how many times your address, phone numbers and even driving routes may change, there is One element in life that will never change; this unchanging reality is the Lord Jesus Christ.

 

“Keep deception and lies far from me, Give me neither poverty nor riches; Feed me with the food that is my portion, That I not be full and deny You and say, “Who is the LORD?” Or that I not be in want and steal, And profane the name of my God.”

Proverbs 30:8-9 (NASB)

 

When speaking of military families being “uprooted” by moves and new job assignments, may our hearts be reassured of biblical truths. As followers of Jesus Christ, our “roots” are not planted here within this world. Praise God for a lifestyle that teaches us to appreciate the moment, while never gripping too tightly to the things and people around us. As believers in Jesus Christ, we are to “root” ourselves above…away from the dirt, depression and disease of this world. In other words, we are to “root” our hearts on the things above (Isaiah 26:9, Isaiah 33:6, Matthew 6:19-20 & Matthew 6:33-34 & John 6:26-40). May I encourage you this day to cry out to the Lord in a new way and ask for His guidance and eternal perspective for He cares for you. May we reach up our hearts and hands to the Lord and thank Him for not only hearing our cries, but for caring enough to intervene in His perfect time and sovereign way.

 

“I will rejoice and be glad in Your faithful love because You have seen my affliction. You have known the troubles of my life and have not handed me over to the enemy. You have set my feet in a spacious place.” Psalm 31:7-8 (HCSB)

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Victory Over Insurmountable Odds Through the Lord Jesus Christ

“Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” Hebrews 12:1-3 (NASB)

 

We are pack people by nature…it is easy to endure hardship in a crowd with multiple people cheering us on and running beside us. But, it is when we feel alone and grow extremely fatigued that the weight of stress and pressure begins to feel unbearable. Yet, as believers of Jesus Christ, may we recall that there is always a great cloud of witnesses cheering us on to run the race set before us to bring glory to God and honor His name to all people. In times of genuine turmoil and tunnels of chaos, may we realize that regardless of the amount of change or pain that we may endure, the Lord is faithfully with us. And if we are prayerfully approaching each new season, may we take heart in the fact that the Lord will lead us in His ways for His glory and for our ultimate good.

 

“Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you; but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing, so that also at the revelation of His glory you may rejoice with exultation.” 1 Peter 4:12-13 (NASB)

 

Remember, the journey of one life will never exactly mirror that of another. The Bible as well as church history is packed full of stories of great followers of God who had to endure great hardship and suffering for the furthering of the Lord’s will. Moses’ life of movement back and forth to Egypt with his family and obedience to the Lord looked very different than the life of Daniel as a prisoner of war within Babylon. Both were used mightily for the Lord, yet both stories played out very differently for a distinct purpose. The same can be said of Esther, a beautiful Jewish girl who was made queen and used by God to save the whole nation of Israel.

Thus, it is vital that we prayerfully have our noses in the Holy Bible to discern the will of God for our personal families; for if we try to create a life that mirrors that of another follower of Jesus Christ, we may be forever waiting. Why? Because the life that the Lord has called each of us to walk is absolutely unique for the plan and purpose that He has set out for each of our giftings and talents (Jeremiah 29:11-13). The Lord is faithful and has given each individual a unique set of skills to further the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

 

“As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. Whoever speaks, is to do so as one who is speaking the utterances of God; whoever serves is to do so as one who is serving by the strength which God supplies; so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belongs the glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.” 1 Peter 4:10-11 (NASB)

 

And maybe, just maybe, the reality of your present sufferings or silent questions may be used to catapult you into the path of a soul who deeply needs the encouragement that only the Lord can provide. And it would be the biggest honor given to any soul to speak of the very One who can mend any wound and heal any situation; this is the Lord Jesus Christ (Psalm 34:18). And as one who has trekked through many mountain tops and deep valleys with the Lord, may I encourage each one reading today to hold fast to the teachings of the Holy Bible–realizing that God sincerely cares for each life (John 3:16, 1 John 1:9 & 1 John 4:9-10).

Need further examples of enduring through insurmountable odds by the power of Jesus Christ? Just look at Peter on the waves (Matthew 14:29-33)! May we look up when we struggle to maintain the coarse for He is right there to grab hold of us with great strength and divine power to raise us up back atop the waves, where we have been called to walk by faith (Matthew 10:28). Take a deep breath in the reality that with the Lord Jesus Christ, there is deliverance from any heartache or difficult situation.

 

“But now, thus says the LORD, your Creator, O Jacob,
            And He who formed you, O Israel,
            “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
            I have called you by name; you are Mine!

“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
            And through the rivers, they will not overflow you.
            When you walk through the fire, you will not be scorched,
            Nor will the flame burn you.” Isaiah 43:1-2 (NASB)

 

 

Prayer of a Soldier’s Wife:

LORD, You are good. You are trustworthy. By Your sovereign will and gracious love we will embrace another season of global separation as war wages on. Thank You for walking with my man as he is in harm’s way. Thank You that nothing passes into our lives that does not first meet approval to bring You ultimate glory. Please give me Your eyes.

 

Help me to stay focused on the promises found within Your Holy Word as I hold our children while they cry in the night from missing Daddy. Please allow my patience to be infused by Your wisdom and grace as we try to adjust to yet another new town, new church and new school. Thank You that I can look back and see the undeniable evidence of Your unabashed love for us in each move. Thank You for this lifestyle of learning to yearn for and rely upon You, rather than routine.

 

With each new move, new opportunities to see You at work in the lives of others are all around. You allow for us to both pour into the lives of others for their encouragement and Your glory as well as receiving refreshment from new friends along the way. Thank You that the truths of Your Word are indeed transcendent. There will never be a place on this big world where You will not faithfully walk with us. You will always walk beside us and lead us to the best path for our lives.

 

Thank You for the joy that You infuse the soul with—it is not based on external metrics or anything personally conjured up. No, it is more stable and concrete than that. The joy of Your giving nestles down deep into the bones, the minds and the hearts of those who call upon Your name. And in times of great longing, and genuine distress, it is that same joy from You that blossoms into peace to weather any storm or devastation that this world can bring (John 16:33).

 

The joy of the LORD is our strength! With each new challenge, with each new obstacle, may I come before You and throw all of my worries, fears and unknowns at Your feet. You have welcomed me to do this and I thank You for a lifestyle that continually provides opportunities in which to declare Your supremacy over every circumstance—and for this—claim the victory that belongs to each believer in Jesus Christ (Romans 8:37). It’s in the victorious name of my risen Savior, Jesus Christ, that I pray, amen.

 

“For the High and Exalted One who lives forever, whose name is Holy says this:” I live in a high and holy place, and with the oppressed and lowly of spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly and revive the heart of the oppressed.” Isaiah 57:15 (HCSB)

 

After reading this, now, it is your turn. Write a prayer that declares your own hope in God’s perfect timing and sovereign will over your own personal story. God is bigger than our troubles (Isaiah 55:8-9). God is faithful to walk with us each step of our journeys (Isaiah 40:28). And He can use all circumstances for our good and His glory (Romans 8:37).

 

Take a moment to declare truth both to your heart as well as declaring back to the LORD how good He is.

 

As The Wind Blows

A while back, in the midst of cleaning the house and preparing meals, our toddler son brought in a beautiful bouquet of little yellow flowers from our backyard. He proudly walked up and held them out to me with a broad smile and his chest puffed out. He had picked these just for me and he was overflowing with anticipation for me to take his gift. I had been so busy and tired that day… as had pretty much been the case for every day previous that year as my husband was traveling much for business. But, something about the way he approached me caused me to pause. I knelt down and smiled warmly as my heart was reminded of a dream the Lord had given me years prior.

 

In this dream, I saw streetlights at night along a beautiful park. These stately lights then turned into burnt matchsticks that were bent over and smoldering. And from there, I could see dandelion seeds taking flight from the smoldering matchstick as the wind blew. At the time of the dream, I was preparing for the missions field and a foreign culture. Yet all the while, I had a strong sense that this dream would apply to a later time, but had no idea what it could mean. Then, after marrying my husband and moving to the Middle East with our precious ten-month-old son and our precious toddler daughter in toe, something struck a cord within my soul.

 

I was burnt out, feeling overwhelmed and utterly out of ideas of what to do with our littles in the day. I needed a break—so I thought. I needed to just get away and recharge—so I kept telling myself. Yet, as I would meet with a wise, older Christian woman about once a month, I was blessed to glean from her insights on life. And among them, she kept pointing out how much the Lord uses us mothers to forward the kingdom of God here on earth. And it is not simply on our “refreshed days”, but often times through our heartache and times of great need for intervention of His divine nature, that we are able to see and experience His presence all the more profoundly.

 

After another wonderful time with this precious older woman of the faith while still in the Middle East, I headed back to our home to my husband and our now sleeping children. I could not shake the feeling that I was missing out on something. That somehow I was focusing on the wrong things during our time abroad. And then, the dream of the dandelion seeds in the wind came back to mind as I thought of our children.

 

Because of Your adversaries, You have established a stronghold from the mouths of children and nursing infants to silence the enemy and the avenger.” Psalm 8:2 (HCSB)

 

It hit me like a ton of bricks. I was that burnt out instrument and complaining rather than seeking the Lord’s guidance and continual renewal. I was that smoldering match. But, what encouraged my heart—and what was affirmed through prayer in that moment—was the reality that raising Christ loving and Christ following children is vital in combatting the enemies of God. Stay with me here….It is in such seasons of prolonged fatigue and sleepless nights that God was able to show Himself all the more glorious in my own story. It was when I was willing to cry out with my need for Him and claim the truths of His Living Word, contained within the Holy Bible, that I would find a renewed sense of focus, meaning and willful hope. Perhaps you too can relate. It is when I have been willing to say, “this one is so far beyond me, Lord…I just cannot go another step. Please take the lead. I just want to honor You”

It is there, in that very moment that the Lord intervenes in truly miraculous ways that astound the mind and baffle the senses.

 

“He lifted me out of the pit of despair, out of the mud and the mire. He set my feet on solid ground and steadied me as I walked along.” Psalm 40:2 (NLT)

 

All these memories came rushing back to me as I hugged my son and thanked him for his flowers before he ran back outside to play with our daughter who was already on the rope swing. And as I walked into my husband and I’s master bathroom to place my new bouquet next to the very same type of flower bouquet my daughter had given me just the day previous, my eyes saw something that affirmed it all. Where the delicate little flowers had rested the day previous, now white little puffballs were bloomed in their place.

 

It was such a profound and meaningful encouragement to my heart from the Lord. Although I was indeed exhausted and trying to take care of two extremely active children, the fact remained—these children are my seeds.

 

As mothers, and women in general, we have the awesome privilege to not only physically, but also spiritually invest into the lives of our children. And whether it’s a “good day” or “bad day”, they watch us to see how we choose to respond to the circumstances the Lord allows into our day.

 

He makes me as surefooted as a deer, enabling me to stand on mountain heights.” Psalm 18:33 (NLT)

 

Ladies, I encourage you this every moment, to ask the Lord above to breathe afresh upon you. He can take any situation and breathe life, hope and direction into it (Ezekiel 37). Acknowledge your need for His guidance, favor and continual mercy amidst the chaos (Psalm 71:20). Ask the Lord to breathe anew upon your soul to refresh you in this time of need—right where you are—so that you may glorify Him even in your fatigue and responsibility (Psalm 138:7). Ladies, please take this to heart, the care and guardianship of the next generation is of highest importance to the Lord (Genesis 1:28, Psalm 113:9, Psalm 127:3, Mark 10:14).

 

Thus, may we not only be in prayer for this next generation daily, but may we pray for the Lord to equip us to minister, mold and model lives that are sold out to the cause of Jesus Christ. May we be willing to follow the Lord in obedience and speak of His eternal glories to the little ones of this upcoming generation.

 

In your strength I can crush an army; with my God I can scale any wall.” Psalm 18:29 (NLT)

Through the power of His holy name, we have been given not only the victory over hell, but over all forms of confusion, fatigue, inferiority, comparing and all other forms of evil that the devil would love to use to discourage us as mamas, and women in general. Take back what is yours, as a daughter of the Most High; take back the victory that was handed to you personally as Jesus Christ victoriously defeated evil and it’s many forms as He bore our sins upon the cross and gave us His healing (Isaiah 53:3).

 

“For Your faithful love is higher than the heavens, and Your faithfulness reaches to the clouds. God, be exalted above the heavens, and let Your glory be over the whole earth.” Psalm 108:4-5 (HCSB)

 

Walk in it. Own it. Ask the Lord to blow upon the current situations in your own life and take His message of hope, restoration, peace and healing to all people groups who are in critical need of encouragement (Ezekiel 19:10).

 

May the LORD cause you to flourish, both you and your children.” Psalm 115:14 (NIV)

The Iron Shackles of Hate

“Oh no….it’s happening again! Look, look! It’s breaking news! Oh wow….oh wow…look at the front page…” Said the young twenty-two year old through wide eyes to her friend across the table of a café. She quickly covered her mouth as tears welled in her eyes. The young woman held the side of her own face as she turned her screen around to show her friend the information regarding the recent terrorist attack. Upon reading the latest news feed, the brown eyes of the girl’s friend grew large in disbelief. “Oh my gosh! Look at the streets named; we were just there a few months back during our end of year trip!” Both young women were silent for a few moments as the hot cappuccinos steamed before them. Suddenly the silence was broken in fear, “You know, they are all like this! Once a murdering people always a murdering people!” Both young adults gasped in disbelief as they continued to scroll through photos and updates before they would return to preparing for Bible study.

 

When we harbor anger, we can feel “justified” or even right with God for holding such a strong emotion due to what another has or has not done. Yet, what we are often unaware of is the fact that the iron clad shackles of hate cause our overarching joy from the Lord to slowly choke out. Rather than seeing things through the eyes of grace and the supreme reality that the Lord is indeed in control; hate begins to slowly close off exposure of our hearts to the Son of God. And the resulting darkness, can be very much at play within ourselves—even while faithfully attending church and Bible study.

 

Rather than counting one’s blessings and asking how the Lord would choose to use us to be part of the solution, as the Word of God encourages us to do (Psalm 105:1, Psalm 106:1& Isaiah 12:4), counting subsequent blunders becomes the focal point of choice. Such chains have a way of slowly distancing us from the fellowship of true believers and the needed nutrients that is absolutely essential for our souls which is found in fellowship with Jesus Christ alone.

 

Whispers of injustice, reminders of failed help and a continual song of the faults of others run through one’s mind; further justifying the stance of paranoia, mistrust and vengeance. As a result, the truths of God’s perfect and Holy Word begin to seem less applicable, less relevant and sometimes the individual even concludes that the Bible should to be “put away” while the other influences scream of hate and revenge.

 

“Proclaim the message; persist in it whether convenient or not; rebuke, correct, and encourage with great patience and teaching. For the time will come when they will not tolerate sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, will multiply teachers for themselves because they have an itch to hear something new. They will turn away from hearing the truth and will turn aside to myths. But as for you, be serious about everything, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.” 2 Timothy 4:2-5 (HCSB)

 

These swirling emotions continue amidst major blessings, but the individual cannot see them, nor stops to give thanks to the Lord for them. Rather than seeing the ever-present hand of the loving Lord at play in all seasons of life, it is as if this person has sought out each mud puddle along the beautiful path of life…and sat deep within it. Wallowing in pain, forgetting the Lord’s faithfulness and throwing mud at others because they are not wallowing in the same filth. Sounds ridiculous, right? Well, if we are truly honest with ourselves, we have all taken turns both sitting in the mud as well as slinging some at times.

 

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of may kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.” James 1:2-5 (NIV)

 

Ladies, hardship and trials are real; but so is our VICTORY over them through the victorious name of the Risen King Jesus Christ (John 16:33). We may see horror unfolding in the lives of individuals where the absolute injustice of the circumstances have awaken murderous thoughts, demonic inspired words and divisive mannerisms within our own souls. Ladies, regardless of the circumstances that bring us to the mud pits and shackles of hatred and resentment, may we always check our hearts for bitterness, envy and vengeful thoughts. For if we have allowed ourselves to wear the shackles of hatred for any length of time, seeds of bitterness and its kind, will begin to show themselves in our words, thoughts and actions.

 

Why does this matter? Why not just laugh it all off in sarcasm? Because, as one who has battled through these very attempts of Satan to steal my joy (John 10:10) allow me to personally speak of the redemption that is available to YOU this very day through the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross. It’s not enough to simply “know” what the Bible says, we must walk it out…actions speak louder than words.

14What good is it, my brothersif someone says he has faith but does not have worksCan his faith save him15If a brother or sister is without clothes and lacks daily food 16and one of you says to them, “Go in peacekeep warmand eat well,” but you don’t give them what the body needswhat good is it? 17In the same way faithif it doesn’t have worksis dead by itself18But someone will say, “You have faithand I have works.”  Show me your faith without worksand I will show you faith from my works. 19You believe that God is oneyou do wellThe demons also believe — and they shudder. James 2:14-19 (HCSB)

 

I tell you that God has better in store for you, too! Call out to the Lord for help in the midst of your suffering and feelings of injustice and repent for your feelings of hatred and bitterness. God will not only hear you, but also rescue and redeem you for His great glory and divine purpose!

 

19My dearly loved brothersunderstand this: Everyone must be quick to hearslow to speakand slow to anger20for man’s anger does not accomplish God’s righteousness21Thereforeridding yourselves of all moral filth and evil, humbly receive the implanted wordwhich is able to save you.

22But be doers of the word and not hearers onlydeceiving yourselves23Because if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doerhe is like a man looking at his own face in a mirror24For he looks at himselfgoes awayand immediately forgets what kind of man he was25But the one who looks intently into the perfect law of freedom and perseveres in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but one who does good works — this person will be blessed in what he does.

26If anyone thinks he is religious without controlling his tongue, then his religion is useless and he deceives himself27Pure and undefiled religion before our God and Father is thisto look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself unstained by the world. James 1:19-27 (HCSB)

 

Don’t sit in that pit or within those shackles any longer! You were created for greatness and divine adventure (Jeremiah 29:11-14), but it will never be recognized from the limited view of a mud hole or from the darkness of iron shackles. Call out to the Lord and allow Him to raise you up and break the shackles of hatred that have no business on a child of God. Take hold of the freedom available to you through Jesus Christ, the Risen Savior.

 

“I descended to the roots of the mountains. The earth with its bars was around me forever, But You have brought up my life from the pit, O LORD my God.” Jonah 2:6 (NASB)

 

May we come to realize that sometimes the kindness of God is revealed in what is taken away from us. At times it is the breaking of our dreams of “perfect” or “success” that reveal our true loyalties. Are we devoted to the world and it’s ideas of power, safety and success? Or, are we devoted to the ways of the Lord and willing to take up our cross daily and follow Him (Matthew 16:24, Luke 9:23 & Mark 8:34)—no matter what?

 

May we come to realize that God, being a perfect and sovereign father, desires what is best for each of us. And at times, that means that we will best learn and grow in our trust through tears. The Bible is filled with accounts of individuals who had to let go of their own ideas and release them fully to the Lord—knowing that He alone is fully trustworthy and good (Nahum 1:7). In the end, may we recall why we are here on this spinning rock. It is not to accumulate goods and items of status for ourselves, but for the honor—given to each heart—to worship and seek hard after the heart of God. And the only way we can please the Father God is through a right relationship through His Son, Jesus Christ, the Risen King (Romans 10:9-10). Thus, if you are reading this today—still replaying the details of something that you have recently heard or read—take it to the Lord in prayer. May we realize that sometimes the kindest thing the Lord can do for us is to break our ideals and perceptions of the world around us in order to free our hands and hearts to then pick up His ideals and world focus, which are righteous, redemptive and holy.

 

You are precious, you are priceless and you are loved by the One who created your soul. Rejoice in His ever-present love and faithful forgiveness this very day. Ask the Lord Jesus Christ how He might choose to use you and your specific talents to further the gospel of His forgiveness and reconciliation for all peoples—all across this vast globe—for HE alone is worthy (Isaiah 6:1-8)!

 

“Purify me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. Make me to hear joy and gladness, Let the bones which You have broken rejoice. Hide Your face from my sins And blot out all my iniquities. Create in me a clean heart, O God, And renew a steadfast spirit within me.” Psalm 51:7-10 (NASB)

Running to a Dark World In the Name of Jesus the Christ

“9 God’s love was revealed among us in this way: God sent His One and Only Son into the world so that we might live through Him. 10 Love consists in this: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.”

1 John 4:9-10 (HCSB)

 

Jesus Christ is LORD…this is how you would say it in Arabic…
~~~~~~~~~yaswae almasih hu alrrbb

 

 

Jesus Christ is Lord…as Ramadan has begun (marking the month of fasting and prayer for Muslims world wide)…as believers in Jesus Christ, may we PRAY FOR THESE PRECIOUS PEOPLE who are destined to eternal separation from God (Romans 5:8-10, 1 John 4:9)–just as each of us were (Ecclesiastes 7:20, Romans 3:10 & Romans 8:28)–before meeting our precious and victorious Savior Jesus Christ (Romans 10:9-10 & 1 John 5:11).

 

It is so easy to hate those who cause harm…so easy to put our faith aside and react to the chaos. Yet, may we claim the truths of Scripture. May we lift up those grieving and suffering from the most recent attacks in Manchester and Egypt as well as previous attacks in India, California, Germany, Florida and each place around the globe that experiences acts of terror against its people. May we be marked as a people of prayer for each one affected–both directly and indirectly (Psalm 34:18, Psalm 147:3, Isaiah 57:15).

 

“The LORD is near to the brokenhearted And saves those who are crushed in spirit.”

Psalm 34:18 (NASB).

 

Each brutal and horrific loss of life is truly tragic. But as believers in Jesus Christ, may we remember that we do not battle against flesh and blood, but against the spiritual realm (Ephesians 6:10-18). There is NO act that is beyond the grace of the Risen Savior Jesus Christ…

 

…if so…I surely would not be allowed into the Holy and Pure presence of the LORD (Isaiah 6:1-8).

 

May we remember that EACH of us has a desperate need for the Lord Jesus…and such acts of terror highlight the crucial need of EVANGELISM to such people…may we call it for what it is…another tactic of the devil to “steal, kill and destroy” … but in that same verse…Jesus Christ said that He came to give us “life and life in abundance” (John 10:10).

 

The time is now church…let us run to the DARK AND DYING WORLD…with the Gospel of Jesus Christ (Matthew 28:19-20)…for the devil would LOVE to silence this message of eternal hope from each of our lips…may we fight back…with the same love, grace and eternal perspective that our Lord Jesus Christ showed towards us. The time is now.

 

“For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline. Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord or of me His prisoner, but join with me in suffering for the gospel according to the power of God, who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was granted us in Christ Jesus from all eternity, but now has been revealed by the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel,”

2 Timothy 1:7-10 (NASB)

Easter: Victory for the Soul (Part III)

The detachment of soldiers with its commander, along with the Jewish officials, arrested Jesus and bound Him (John 18:12). All of the remaining eleven faithful disciples then scattered and left Jesus to be taken by Judas and those who desired to bring Him to death; just as Jesus had prophesied (John 16:32).

Peter followed at a distance with John, as Jesus was then taken to Annas, the father-in-law of the High Priest that year, who was Caiaphas. Time had become a blur for the disciples as each soul-wrenching step of Jesus’ sorry excuse for a trial unfolded. He was beaten, slapped in the face, mocked and spit on (Isaiah 53:5, Matthew 20:28, Matthew 26:28 & Mark 10:45). Jesus was humiliated as He was dressed up with a military robe, made to wear a horrible crown made from twisted thorns and had a reed placed within his hand—as soldiers mocked him while laughing and bowing to their idea of a false king. They struck Him in the head repeatedly (Matthew 27:29-30 Mark 15:17 & John 19:2-3).

Within this depraved display of the rebellion of the human heart against the One whom in fact created all things, Jesus had been sent to Caiaphas, then before the entire assembly of the Jewish leadership, known as the Sanhedrin, where they met at daybreak and brought Jesus before them. The mighty Sanhedrin questioned Jesus as to whether or not He was in fact the Son of God (Luke 22:66-71). The Sanhedrin, as powerful as it was, did not have authority under Roman rule to crucify. Thus, Jesus was sent to Pilate to officially protest for the crucifixion of Jesus the Christ. Yet, Pilate found no such cause for death of this “King of the Jews” (Luke 23:4). Pilate, after learning that Jesus was a Galilean, sent Him to be seen by Herod Antipas, seeing as he held jurisdiction there and resided in Jerusalem (Luke 23:6-7). As a result of the cruel treatment Jesus suffered under Herod, Pilate and Herod (whom had been hostile towards one another up until that point) became friends that day (Luke 23:11-12). The badly beaten Jesus was then sent back to Pilate where three times Pilate appealed to the people that he found no grounds by which to kill Jesus—even stating that Herod found no cause to kill Him, hence Jesus had been sent back to Pilate (Matthew 27:21-26, Mark 15:7-15 & Luke 23:13-17).

The Jewish leadership and outcry of the people for Jesus’ death had won out over facts. A terrorist of the day and known murdered, Barabas, had been released to the people—as they chanted and shouted for the death of Jesus and affirmed their desire to have Barabas back within their society in order to ensure the death of Jesus (Luke 23:18-25). Jesus had been led out of the city of Jerusalem to the Place of Skull to be crucified with a criminal on either side of Him (Luke 23:32-33). On the way there, the brutally beaten, whipped and bleeding humanity of Jesus was unable to carry His own death instrument. Thus, a man by the name of Simon, a Cyrenian, was made to carry the cross on which Jesus would momentarily be nailed and killed upon—until the final destination was reached (Luke 23:26).

Once at the Place of the Skull, large nails were then driven Jesus’ hands and feet. This was the most brutal and barbaric killing instrument of that day. And it was reserved for only the worst of criminals. Yet, here was Jesus the Christ, proven to be innocent by even Pilate and Herod, and he was experiencing a criminal’s death. It could not have even been carried out upon a Roman citizen. Thus Jesus, as an innocent substitute for each and every one of the human race, bore the brutal punishment of death upon a cross (Romans 8:28). To speed up the process, at the urging of the Jews, the Roman soldiers were instructed by Pilate to break the legs of those upon the cross to cause the arms to stretch higher above the head, ushering the arrival of death quicker—seeing as the following day was the Sabbath (John 19:31-32). Yet, this was not done to the Lord Jesus Christ as He was not a victim of His circumstances, but rather He had willfully determined to go through the brutal death of humanity in order to ransom His creations (Isaiah 53:9-11, Romans 5:18, Philippians 2:8 & 1 Peter 2:24).

 

“This is why the Father loves Me, because I am laying down My life so I may take it up again. No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down on My own. I have the right to lay it down, and I have the right to take it up again. I have received this command from My Father.” John 10:17-18 (HCSB)

 

While enduring the cross and continued atmosphere of satanic celebration, the soldiers divided Jesus’ clothing by casting lots (Psalm 22:18 & Matthew 5:44). Jesus had publicly cried out to His Father in heaven to “forgive them, because they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34). He had also assured the penitent thief on the cross next to Him that “today you will be with Me in paradise” (Luke 23:42-43). When all had been accomplished to fulfill the prophesies of the Old Testament of the Lord Jesus, He cried out in a loud voice “It is finished!” and gave up His spirit (John 19:30).

The crowd gathered below was a mixture of demonic taunting and agonizing screams of horror and pain. When it came time to break the legs of Jesus, He had in fact already died (John 19:33). This fulfilled the prophesy of the Psalms and the prophets (Exodus 12:46, Numbers 9:12 & Psalm 34:20). The rocks split and the veil within the Holy of Holies of the Temple split from top to bottom as a result of Jesus giving up His spirit (Matthew 27:51). The punishment for the depravity of all humanity had in fact been paid in full (Matthew 27:45-53, Mark 15:33-38, John 3:16, Galatians 3:13-14 & Titus 2:14).

“God’s love was revealed among us in this way: God sent His One and Only Son into the world so that we might live through Him. Love consists in this: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.”  1 John 4:9-10 (HCSB)

It was still dark out on the morning of the third day since Jesus’ death. Mary of Magdala, Mary the mother of James and Salome were heading to the tomb owned by Joseph of Arimathea, where the body of Jesus had been laid three days prior (John 19:38). It was now the third day since His brutal death on the cross. The women, with heads covered and ash covered faces, walked towards the borrowed tomb. It was daybreak and they were coming to place the customary spices upon the body of Jesus (Mark 16:1). They began to ask one another whom would open the tomb for them to complete their task; seeing as a large stone had been rolled across the entrance and Roman soldiers had been stationed in front of it to ensure it stay closed (Mark 16:3). Yet, as the women approached the mountain from which the tomb had been carved, there was a violent earthquake! The large stone—which had been secured by the Roman soldiers to avoid potential body snatchers (Matthew 27:64-66)—was no longer in front of the opening of the tomb at all! No, in this hour of daybreak, still from a distance, it appeared to the women as if the massive stone door had been rolled away (Matthew 28:2, Mark 16:4, Luke 24:2 & John 20:1)! The women hurried to the tomb, not sure as to what had taken place. But as they entered the tomb, not one of them could locate the body of their crucified Lord Jesus Christ. Rather, two men in glowing clothes appear next to them and the women fall to the ground in utter fear.

Why are you looking for the living among the dead? ” asked the men6He is not herebut He has been resurrected!  Remember how He spoke to you when He was still in Galilee7saying‘The Son of Man must be betrayed into the hands of sinful menbe crucifiedand rise on the third day’? ” 8And they remembered His words.” Luke 24:5-8 (HCSB)

Mary of Magdala, Joanna, Mary the mother of James and the other women ran back to alert Simon Peter and John of this terrifying and exciting news.

“So she ran to Simon Peter and to the other disciple, the one Jesus loved, and said to them, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they have put Him!” John 20:2 (HCSB)

Simon Peter and John simply could not believe what was being shared and they set out for the tomb themselves. John outran Peter and looked inside, seeing the burial clothes and no body. Peter finally arrived and also saw the burial clothes and noted that the cloth used to cover the face of Jesus had been folded up and placed separately (John 20:3-7). At seeing this for themselves, both Simon Peter and John returned home (John 20:10). Mary of Magdala remained facing the tomb of her missing Lord. As she wept, she stooped down to see into the tomb and she was amazed at what her eyes beheld! In the place of the missing body of her Lord Jesus, there sat two angels; one where His head was and another angel where His feet were! The angels asked her why she was crying. Mary of Magdala explained that her Lord Jesus’ body was missing and that she didn’t know where to find Him (John 20:11-13).

14Having said thisshe turned around and saw Jesus standing there, though she did not know it was Jesus.

15“Woman,” Jesus said to her“why are you cryingWho is it you are looking for? ”

Supposing He was the gardenershe replied, “Sirif you’ve removed Himtell me where you’ve put Himand I will take Him away.”

16Jesus said“Mary.”

Turning aroundshe said to Him in Hebrew“Rabbouni!”  — which means “Teacher.”

17“Don’t cling to Me,” Jesus told her“for I have not yet ascended to the Father.  But go to My brothers and tell them that I am ascending to My Father and your Father — to My God and your God.”

18Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord! ” And she told them what He had said to her.”

John 20:14-18 (HCSB)

Jesus Christ’s resurrection over death and the grave is essential to the heart and soul of every individual to ever tread this vast planet. It is the most passionate expression of unconditional love, unyielding loyalty and determined redemption in all of human history. The Creator of all things, was willing to ransom humanity out of the place of depravity and eternal condemnation by taking upon Himself the shame, guilt and suffering due for each foolish, manipulative and sinful thing each and every person on this spinning rock have ever done. And in return—what’s in it for us? A new identity—complete reset. Forgiveness and pardon from every twisted and even unspeakable things we have said, thought or did. It’s all covered by the brutal price He was willing to pay—to show you, and each person alive—that your life has eternal meaning, your days have infinite value, a you are deeply loved by the God who made you.

As Jesus ascends into heaven, the baton had been passed in a sense. Jesus had charged His disciples to now GO into all the world and tell everyone about Him and the NEW LIFE that is available to ALL PEOPLE from EVERY NATION by calling upon the Lord Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior for cleansing and redemption (Joel 2:28-32, Mark 16:16, Luke 24:45-47, Acts 2:21, Acts 16:31, Romans 10:13). And the beautiful thing—this message of radical redemption is still available for one and all for all time. If you have never made a decision to follow the Risen Savior, Jesus Christ, I encourage you to do so this very day and get cleaned, forgiven and eternally set right with Almighty God. You are worth it…Jesus Christ proved it (Revelation 5:12).

Happy Easter, one and all. He is risen! Jesus Christ is risen, indeed!

Easter: Victory for the Soul (part II)

 

After Jesus had finished instructing His remaining eleven disciples and praying in their presence, it was time to leave. Jesus and His remaining disciples traveled across the Kidron Valley, via candlelight, to the Garden of Gethsemene and went into it. This was a place where Jesus and His twelve disciples had frequently come to pray and they all knew this location well (John 18:1-2). By this time, it was late at night. Judas, being one of Jesus’ twelve disciples, knew exactly where to find the One he had sold out for personal gain. And now, for thirty pieces of silver (Matthew 26:15), Judas took with him a company of soldiers and some temple police from the chief priests and Pharisees and came to ambush Jesus for His arrest and coming death (John 18:3).

 

36Then Jesus came with them to a place called Gethsemane, and He told the disciples“Sit here while I go over there and pray.” 37Taking along Peter and the two sons of ZebedeeHe began to be sorrowful and deeply distressed38Then He said to them“My soul is swallowed up in sorrow — to the point of death.  Remain here and stay awake with Me.” 39Going a little farther,  He fell facedown and prayed“My FatherIf it is possiblelet this cup pass from MeYet not as I willbut as You will.” Matthew 26:36-39 (HCSB)

 

As Jesus prayed, Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, James and John, tried to stay awake while Jesus prayed a little ways away. Yet, their own hearts were filled with such sheer fatigue, they soon found it impossible to stay awake. Three times Jesus awoke the disciples and three times they drifted back to sleep (Matthew 26:40-45).

 

45Then He came to the disciples and said to them“Are you still sleeping and resting?  Lookthe time is nearThe Son of Man is being betrayed into the hands of sinners46Get uplet’s goSeeMy betrayer is near.” Matthew 26:45-46 (HCSB)

 

With lanterns and torches illuminating the faces of those traveling into the garden, all of the eleven other disciples became keenly aware that multiple weapons had been brought against them by the hand of their long time friend; Judas Iscariot. Thomas and the others were shocked and quickly parted from their sleeping state. What was unfolding before their eyes was too horrible to be a nightmare—the body armor, swords, shields, clubs and overall appearance of the battle ready troop, standing with Judas, made clear to all that there would be no negotiations tonight.

 

4Then Jesusknowing everything that was about to happen to Him, went out and said to them“Who is it you’re looking for? ”

5Jesus the Nazarene,” they answered.

“I am He,” Jesus told them.

Judaswho betrayed Himwas also standing with them6When He told them“I am He,” they stepped back and fell to the ground.” John 18:4-6 (HCSB)

 

Thomas and the other eleven disciples all were struck with awe and amazement at this moment. The powerful and well-armed representatives of the Sanhedrin, had all fallen to the ground at Jesus’ words “I am He”! This very phrase “I am” had been used by God in the Old Testament, when speaking to Moses to assure the Israelites that freedom from the captivity in Egypt was soon to end (Exodus 3:14). And now, all twelve of the disciples were seeing God Almighty Himself on display. The very One who spoke all of creation into existence (Genesis 1:1), the very one who held all things together (John 1:1-5) was now staring face-to-face with the soldiers who wore the most recognizable insignias of power in their day; yet, it was these same soldiers who had all just fallen to the ground at the power of Jesus Christ’s words “I am He”.

7Then He asked them again“Who is it you’re looking for? ”

Jesus the Nazarene,” they said.

8“I told you I am He,” Jesus replied“So if you’re looking for Melet these men go.” 9This was to fulfill the words He had said“I have not lost one of those You have given Me.” John 18:7-9 (HCSB)

 

At this, Judas began to approach Jesus to greet him with a kiss, as was customary within their culture as a greeting. But, knowing what Judas was going to do, Jesus asked Judas if he was going to betray the Son of Man with a kiss (Luke 22:48). The eleven disciples, now fully aware of what was before them, asked Jesus if they should draw their swords and fight those who had come to seize and arrest Jesus (Luke 22:49). Suddenly, something glistening caught Thomas’ eye in the hand of Peter. Without wasting another second, Peter charged Malchus, the servant of the High Priest, and cut his ear clear off (John 18:10)! Malchus screamed and grabbed his head as panic gripped the man. Jesus, after touching the man’s ear and healing it (Luke 22:51) sternly corrected Peter for such an act as He reminded Peter that this entire process was in fact the will of His Father in heaven.

52Then Jesus told him“Put your sword back in its place because all who take up a sword will perish by a sword. 53Or do you think that I cannot call on My Fatherand He will provide Me at once with more than 12 legions of angels54Howthenwould the Scriptures be fulfilled that say it must happen this way? ” Matthew 26:52-54 (HCSB)

 

(End of part II)