Restored

“The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid; for I know that you are looking for Jesus who has been crucified. He is not here, for He has risen, just as He said. Come, see the place where He was lying.” – MATTHEW 28:5‭-‬6 NASB

The cross couldn’t hold Him, death couldn’t retain Him, and the grave couldn’t keep Him. The cross and the tomb shall remain empty for the rest of eternity, and then forever more. He is Risen, Restored to His Glory, restored to His Throne! Jesus Christ, the LORD of Heaven and Earth has conquered death and hell, and He has arisen, Victorious and Glorious!

He is Risen, He is Risen indeed!

Plainly Said

“When it was day, the Council of elders of the people assembled, both chief priests and scribes, and they led Him away to their council chamber, saying, “If You are the Christ, tell us.” But He said to them, “If I tell you, you will not believe; and if I ask a question, you will not answer. But from now on the son of man will be seated at the right hand of the power of God .” And they all said, “Are You the Son of God, then?” And He said to them, “Yes, I am.” Then they said, “What further need do we have of testimony? For we have heard it ourselves from His own mouth.” ” – LUKE 22:66‭-‬71 NASB

Plainly said.

He doesn’t hesitate to say the words that condemn Him to the most gruesome death imaginable. Would you be so bold?

“Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the Praetorium and gathered the whole Roman cohort around Him. They stripped Him and put a scarlet robe on Him. And after twisting together a crown of thorns, they put it on His head, and a reed in His right hand; and they knelt down before Him and mocked Him, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!” They spat on Him, and took the reed and began to beat Him on the head. After they had mocked Him, they took the scarlet robe off Him and put His own garments back on Him, and led Him away to crucify Him. As they were coming out, they found a man of Cyrene named Simon, whom they pressed into service to bear His cross. And when they came to a place called Golgotha, which means Place of a Skull, they gave Him wine to drink mixed with gall; and after tasting it, He was unwilling to drink. And when they had crucified Him, they divided up His garments among themselves by casting lots. And above His head they put up the charge against Him which read, “THIS IS JESUS THE KING OF THE JEWS.” – MATTHEW 27:27‭-‬35‭, ‬37 NASB

After a night of being beaten and mocked, Jesus is brought in front of the authorities. I can only imagine the dignity with which He must have carried Himself as He was brought into the chamber. He knew what would happen to Him, yet He refused to cower or deny the Truth.

I would be that honest and forthright in my bearing and my witness: plainly spoken.

Stuck In The Muck and Mire

“But behold, the hand of the one betraying Me is with Mine on the table. For indeed, the Son of Man is going as it has been determined; but woe to that man by whom He is betrayed!” When He arrived at the place, He said to them, “Pray that you may not enter into temptation.” – LUKE 22:21‭-‬22‭, ‬40 NASB

When I turned on the radio this morning, and a new song by Matthew West was playing. It’s called “Unplanned.” I was unplanned. My 2 younger sisters and my younger brother were unplanned. Should we then not be allowed to live? How many of you, my wonderful readers, were unplanned by your birth parents? I can’t hear the song without being brought to tears. What a slap in the face of the Creator it is each time an unwanted, unplanned baby is destroyed! We betray our Lord with each abortion that is performed. I supported the abortion industry for years until I realized exactly what I was supporting. I wasn’t supporting women’s rights, I was supporting a massive industry that was all about money. As a society, we are stuck in the muck and the mire of political correctness, in which there is very little that is correct.

“…. behold, the hand of the one betraying Me is with Mine on the table…..”

That hand was my hand. Betraying the God of the Universe; betraying His Son, and putting His life on the line, just as we put the life of every single innocent baby on the line with each abortion performed. Jesus had to bear that sin on the cross!

Charles Spurgeon, one the greatest evangelists to ever live, said this, “for those claiming to be Christians, Baptism and the Lord’s Supper will also deceive you, if you rest your salvation on them; when you are near death you will find them too frail to be supports to bear the weight of an immortal soul’s eternal interests. It will be worthless when you lie dying, if your conscience prompts you to say, “I went to church or to prayer meetings so many times a week.” You will find it a poor dressing to your soul’s wounds to be able to say, “I made a profession of godliness.” Oh, your facade will all be torn away from you by the rough hand of the skeleton called “Death”; you will need a real Savior, vital godliness, true regeneration, not baptismal regeneration; you will need Christ, not sacraments; and nothing short of this will do “at the end.”

Are we merely claiming to be Christians, the Christians Charles Spurgeon talks about, resting our ‘Christianity’ on an outward show of rituals and attendance, or have we put Jesus in our hearts and our consciousness? Are we listening to our Lord apeak in our lives? I am a massive failure at hearing God in my life. Many times, I hear Him and then I do what I decide to do. I know one thing: I do not want to continue to be that hand on the table betraying my Lord! Abortion – or rather, the opposition of it – may not be your ‘sword’, but I believe it should be in every Christian’s arsenal.

Please hear this: There is forgiveness for having an abortion, or for having facilitated one (or hundreds). That doesn’t mean it’s okay to sweep our participation under the rug, so to speak. I am grateful I didn’t have an abortion, even though I was not prepared in any way to raise a baby*. I was blessed beyond measure that a family member was there to step in and adopt my child, and I know that there are hundreds of Christ-followers who would give almost anything to be able to have those unplanned, unwanted, babies. (*I wanted my baby, but was emotionally, physically, and financially unable to care for the child…. and the father was even more ill-equiped than I.)

“For You formed my inward parts; You wove me in my mother’s womb. I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Your works, And my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from You, When I was made in secret, And skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth; Your eyes have seen my unformed substance; And in Your book were all written The days that were ordained for me, When as yet there was not one of them.” – PSALMS 139:13‭-‬16 NASB

“Surely our griefs He Himself bore, And our sorrows He carried; Yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken, Smitten of God, and afflicted. But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, And by His scourging we are healed. All of us like sheep have gone astray, Each of us has turned to his own way; But the Lord has caused the iniquity of us all To fall on Him. He was oppressed and He was afflicted, Yet He did not open His mouth; Like a lamb that is led to slaughter, And like a sheep that is silent before its shearers, So He did not open His mouth.” – ISAIAH 53:4‭-‬7 NASB

Jesus bore the weight of every single child lost through abortion. Like Him, they are lambs, and we are the sheep that are silent. We will do well to immitate Him. As Peter tells us,

“To sum up, all of you be harmonious, sympathetic, brotherly, kindhearted, and humble in spirit; not returning evil for evil or insult for insult, but giving a blessing instead; for you were called for the very purpose that you might inherit a blessing. For the eyes of the Lord are toward the righteous, And His ears attend to their prayer, But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil. For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God, having been put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit ….. ” – 1 PETER 3:8‭-‬9‭, 12,18 NASB

Matthew West announced this song on Twitter with the following message, “As long as my God holds the world in His hands, I know there’s no such thing as Unplanned. Watch the music video for Unplanned from the @UnplannedMovie at the link below. https://t.co/hsd7HT0ruT pic.twitter.com/yg1bU2L3WN

Oh I don’t believe in accidents
Miracles, they don’t just happen by chance
As long as my God holds the world in his hands
I know that there’s no such thing as unplanned

Leading to the Cross

On the Tuesday before Easter Sunday, “Good” Friday looms and our focus is on the suffering of Jesus and the Cross. He has just entered into Jerusalem in triumph; the people welcoming Him with jubilation and celebration, thinking that He is going to take over the government of Judea and become their new king on earth. Such excitement runs among them! What thoughts must have been running through Jesus’ mind? I hope He was able to soak up the adoration and love, in preparation of the ordeal He knew He was facing. He knew His central purpose was to die as the sacrifice for our sins. He didn’t deserve to die – unlike the rest of humankind, Jesus never once in His life on earth committed any sin. Never once; not one. His death on the cross is, without doubt, the worst injustice ever done or to be done in all of earth’s history. This passage describes Jesus’ life beautifully.

“Never pay back evil for evil to anyone. Respect what is right in the sight of all men. If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men. Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of GOD, for it is written, “vengeance is mine , I will repay,” says the LORD.” – ROMANS 12:17‭-‬19 NASB

Jesus could have easily retaliated against the soldiers who beat and mocked Him, and He could have punished the Jewish leaders for their unjust treatment of Him. Legions of angels – His Angel Army – were just waiting on a single word from Him to swoop in and rescue Him! Jesus knows His Father, and He trusted in GOD for ultimate justice and revenge. Peter reminds us of our calling as followers of Christ Jesus in this passage he wrote to followers living a far distance from Rome as they were being mocked and harassed for their faith (much as we are today).

“For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps, Who committed no sin, nor was any deceit found in His mouth ; and while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously; and He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed. For you were continually straying like sheep, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Guardian of your souls.” – 1 PETER 2:21‭-‬25 NASB

By His woundsall of His suffering was inflicted on the Son of GOD, endured by the only perfect, sinless man for the sin and the sickness of our souls. “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of GOD in Him.” – 2 CORINTHIANS 5:21 NASB Jesus is our Guardian, our Overseer; He is watching over us constantly from heaven, and He left us with His Holy Spirit so that we are never alone.

Do I resemble Christ when I am mistreated? Have you accepted what Jesus did for you – and me – on the cross?

“Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.” – 2 CORINTHIANS 5:20‭ NASB

“My fear doesn’t stand a chance when I’m standing in Your Love!” Thank you, Bethel Music, for this fabulous song, and K-LOVE Radio for playing it!!

Got to go back….

I skipped church for years. Growing up, I went religiously (pun intended) every Sunday, both morning and evening, every Wednesday night, and for meetings and groups and special events. I was there a lot. Left home for college, and I let life – i.e. the Enemy, Satan – sidetrack me. That became my new normal, and it lasted for years. I knew church / GOD was there, and I did go occasionally (mostly only when I visited my parents, which was not often. Guilt, you know), but Sundays were for sleeping in and recovering from the weekend of partying. It’s a great lifestyle if you are running from the Truth. Just for the record, please let me give you this real Truth, which is not the world’s truth: when you take God’s hand, His gift of salvation, He will never let go of you. Doesn’t matter how hard or how far you run, or into what darkness you descend, He is always – always – right there with you.

It can be pretty embarrassing if you think about what you have thought or seen or done in secret…. because when you remember that the LORD GOD, the CREATOR, is Omniscient and Omnipresent, you also remember there are no secrets. On top of that knowledge is this:

“For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps, Who committed no sin, nor was any deceit found in His mouth ; and while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously; and He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed. For you were continually straying like sheep, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Guardian of your souls.” – 1 PETER 2:21‭-‬25 NASB

He – JESUS, Son of the Living All-Powerful GOD of the Universe – bore our sins …… for we [are] continually straying like sheep ……

I am humbled by this knowledge. I would like to say that I haven’t sinned since I returned to the LORD, but that would just be heaping insult onto Him. I sin every day. That He Loves me enough to forgive me each and every time, and He Loved me so much He died for me ….. oh. I encourage you to seek Him. If, at some time past you accepted His salvation gift, to find Him you only need to raise your eyes. He’s right there. For anyone who is seeking Him, I would say the same thing. Look up. Take your eyes off of the sin and lift your eyes to see Him, standing with you, hands outstretched so all you need to do is take them.

Find the song by Cochren & Co., “Church (Take Me Back)”. Play it. Listen to the words. Then do what it says. You will be amazed and surprised, maybe, but oh, so rewarded.

There was a time that I swore I would never go back
I was blind to the truth, didn’t know what I had
I was running, I was searching
But every place I turned for healing
Left me more broken than the last

https://awesomechristianmusic.com/cochren–co/church

Approaching the Resurrection

“For the Word of the Cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the Power of GOD.”

“For consider your calling, brethren, that there were not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble; but GOD has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and GOD has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong, and the base things of the world and the despised GOD has chosen, the things that are not, so that He may nullify the things that are, so that no man may boast before GOD. But by HIS doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us Wisdom from GOD, and Righteousness and Sanctification, and Redemption, so that, just as it is written, “Let him who boasts, boast in the LORD.” ” – 1 CORINTHIANS 1:18,26‭-‬31 NASB

The only thing in my life I dare boast about is my salvation through Jesus Christ. Nothing I have done or will ever do compares to that one thing! My GOD, the world’s despised GOD, chose me to be His child. Pretty amazing, awesome, breathtaking….. unbelievable and indescribable! He chooses you. He doesn’t force Himself on anyone, because He is the consummate gentleman – perfect and complete.

Where do you stand? Do you love Easter for what it represents, the triumph of our LORD over Satan and Death, or is it just a day to eat play and candy, and decorate with baby chickens and bunnies?

Image from Pintrest

Lead Me

Lead me, for I can’t do this alone.

Sanctus Real sings this in the song, “Lead Me.” It’s something I say to God every day because life is hard, and I can’t do it alone. None of us can. We think we can; we can ‘shoulder through the pain’, we can ‘pull ourselves up by the bootstraps’, we can ‘think positive’ and adopt an ‘I can do it’ mentality, but how successful are we – really – when we are truly alone? Without family or friends, without any spiritual or emotional support, where would you be?

The LORD, the Psalmist’s Shepherd

A Psalm of David

“The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside quiet waters. He restores my soul; He guides me in the paths of righteousness For His name’s sake. Even though I walk through the valley of deep darkness, the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil or harm, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You have anointed my head with oil; My cup overflows. Surely goodness and lovingkindness will follow me all the days of my life, And I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” – PSALMS 23:1‭-‬6 NASB

There are many ‘successful’ people who are without a Saviour out in the world, but at what cost to themselves? Money and power on earth are only meaningful temporarily. They can’t buy us into eternity, and they can’t bring us any kind of lasting peace or companionship. The wealthiest people I’ve met in my life are also the most miserable people I have ever known. Having millions of dollars (and I am being literal here) didn’t provide them with the thing they truly craved: real love, and real friendships. What I saw was immense paranoia that someone would ‘take advantage of them’, and I saw it taking place with those people the wealthy had surrounded themselves with to ‘protect’ themselves. They were unable to accept that someone might care for them just for themselves, making themselves absolutely reject anyone reaching out to them in real friendship; lonely, isolated and alone, while surrounded by people. Immensely saddening situation, especially knowing that it is their choice to live that way. Immune to the Gospel, because that would require trusting someone outside of themselves. Keeping too busy in the whirlwind of social life to face reality.

Successful, rich, abjectly lonely, and miserable.

I won’t deny that it would feel so good not to wonder how to stretch a too limited income to cover expenses, and to be able to write a check (not a ‘rubber’ one!!) to pay bills as they come in…… but I have someone, my Saviour, Who loves me regardless of my socio-economic standing. He loves me no matter how I look, how I dress, or whether my address is trendy enough. He loves me through my down times and my up times. His Name is JESUS.

I am blessed to have a family and friends who love me, too. It’s something that many people don’t have, and I know what a blessing it is. That’s the thing about Jesus – He loves you and is reaching out for you, even now. He wants you to understand what it’s like to know you are loved and cared for! Do you know? Have you realized yet that what He is offering is total, absolute, and completely without any strings? Free, a gift for the taking, waiting for you to accept it?