Where Do You Stand?

I would have loved to be standing in the room with Thomas and the other followers of Jesus when this happened!

“Then [Jesus] said to Thomas, “Reach here with your finger, and see My hands; and reach here your hand and put it into My side; and do not be unbelieving, but believing.” Thomas answered and said to Him, “My Lord and my God!” Jesus said to him, “Because you have seen Me, have you believed? Blessed are they who did not see, and yet believed.” Therefore many other signs Jesus also performed in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these have been written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name.” – JOHN 20:27‭-‬31 NASB

As I contemplate this meeting between Thomas and our Lord, I wonder where I would have stood on that day? Would I be next to Thomas, needing to see the wounds to believe that this man was truly Who He claimed to be? Or would I be across the room with Mary and the other followers, knowing that my Lord was in the room? I know where I stand today, firmly with the ones who believe without having seen. How can we not, when we look at the incredible things He did and the incomparable life He led, witnessed by hundreds – thousands – of people, and recorded by such diverse men?

I believe in Jesus Christ; I believe He is the only begotten Son of the Creator God. I believe that He died for my sins and was resurrected on the third day, and I know that on the day my earthly body dies, I will see His Face as He welcomes me into our eternal home. Where do you stand? It’s crucial to decide! Selfishly, I want to see you in heaven.

“Blessed are they who did not see, and yet believed.”

Can I get an Amen?

(Image from Pinterest)

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!!

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

Oh, Jerusalem

“Comfort, comfort My people, says your GOD. Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and proclaim to her that her hard service has been completed, that her sin has been paid for, that she has received from the LORD’s Hand double for all her sins.” – Isaiah 40:1‭-‬2 NIV

Jerusalem, the “city of peace.” This is an ancient (over 3000 years old) – and very modern – city that has been completely destroyed twice, and partially destroyed several times. King David claimed it in the name of LORD for the Israelites, and throughout history it has been called the most favored city of the LORD. There is a battle continuing even now in Jerusalem between the Israeli and the Palestinians. We know there is a major battle over the city still to come, because it was prophesied thousands of years ago, telling of the LORD’s return.

“Then the LORD will go out and fight against those nations, as He fights on a day of battle. On that day there will be neither sunlight nor cold, frosty darkness. It will be a unique day – a day known only to the LORD – with no distinction between day and night. When evening comes, there will be light. The LORD will be King over the whole earth. On that day there will be One LORD , and His Name the Only Name. The whole land, from Geba to Rimmon, south of Jerusalem, will become like the Arabah. But Jerusalem will be raised up high from the Benjamin Gate to the site of the First Gate, to the Corner Gate, and from the Tower of Hananel to the royal winepresses, and will remain in its place. It will be inhabited; never again will it be destroyed. Jerusalem will be secure.” – Zechariah 14:3‭, ‬6‭-‬7‭, ‬9-11 NIV

What Hope the LORD gives! This passage was written over 2700 years ago, and once again, the prophet nailed what would be happening to Jerusalem and Israel in the 21st century. Are you anxiously awaiting the LORD’s return, or are you a scoffer who doesn’t believe? My friend, my heart hurts for you if you haven’t called on JESUS for your salvation. Our hope, the world’s hope, Jerusalem’s hope – indeed, the only hope – all lie within the MESSIAH, LORD, the CHRIST, JESUS.

“And everyone who calls on the Name of the LORD will be saved.’ ” – Acts 2:21 NIV

Image: http://www.wikiwand.com/en/New_Jerusalem

Acknowledge HIM

“Religion in the United States” is a survey done in 2016, and published on Wikipedia.org. According to the report, 73.7% of adults in the U.S. claim Christianity as their religion. Judaism claims 2.1%, Islam 0.8%, other non-Christian religions are 2.5%, unaffiliated 18.2%, and those who didn’t answer in the survey 2.7%.

I wonder, how many of the 73.7% and how many of the 18.2% of the unaffiliated go beyond ‘religion’ to really know JESUS CHRIST as their personal Saviour? How many of these people live as though JESUS were standing next to them, or show the Love of JESUS to their ‘neighbors’? Are we religious ‘Christians,’ ‘pew-Christians,’ Sunday Christians ….. or are we spirit-filled, life-changing, followers of CHRIST CHRISTIANS?

JESUS said: “I tell you the Truth, everyone who acknowledges Me publicly here on earth, the SON of MAN will also acknowledge in the presence of GOD’s angels. But anyone who denies Me here on earth will be denied before GOD’s angels. Anyone who speaks against the SON of MAN can be forgiven, but anyone who blasphemes the HOLY SPIRIT will not be forgiven.” – Luke 12:8‭-‬10 NLT

Remember, even Satan and his followers know Who JESUS is and admit to Him being the SON of the LIVING GOD. I think they bask in the lies of the so-called Christians who say the words and claim the title but live in the world. I’m sure the enemy rejoices every time a Christian neglects the LIGHT of our LORD, opting for the glitz and glamour of sin. I know that I gave the enemy many years to gloat over my fallen life before my eyes were re-opened to see Truth, the Light, the Hope and Mercy of my LORD JESUS CHRIST.

Fellow Christian, CHRIST-followers, lovers of the LORD, how do we comport ourselves; how do we let the LIGHT shine in our lives? Are we Christian in name only? Listen to For King and Country “Joy” – do you lift your voice in prayer to the LORD, do you choose JOY in JESUS CHRIST? That is Christianity!

Are you too busy to give Him your time? If we aren’t praising the LORD and acknowledging Him in our lives; if His Light isn’t Shining out through our flaws and brokenness, then we are liars living an empty life – EXACTLY what the enemy wants!

“But you, beloved, build yourselves up on your most Holy Faith; pray in the HOLY SPIRIT; keep yourselves in the LOVE of GOD; look forward to the Mercy of our LORD JESUS CHRIST that leads to ETERNAL LIFE.” – Jude 1:20‭-‬21 NRSV

Eternal LIFE, or eternal DEATH. My choice. Your choice. “Hallelujah, death has lost it’s grip on me! JESUS CHRIST is my LIVING HOPE.” (Phil Wickham, “Living Hope”)

I Adore ….

“Yours, O LORD, is the Greatness, the Power, the Glory, the Victory, and the Majesty. Everything in the heavens and on earth is Yours, O LORD, and this is Your Kingdom. We adore You as the One who is over all things.” – 1 Chronicles 29:11 NLT

Complete this sentence: I adore __________.

Is this your verse, or is your adoration focused somewhere else? Where our focus is, is usually where our adoration is. Our kids, marriage, job, friends, shopping, food, even alcohol or sex – none of these is bad in themselves, but how much of our focus, our adoration, is left for our LORD? How about these – drugs, alcohol, self-gratification through sex or food, selfishness and greediness? When our focus is on these things, there’s no room left in our hearts or minds for adoration of the SAVIOUR. I don’t mean to say that when a person is immersed, buried, in one of these behaviors that they can just decide to change their focus, because that is rarely possible. Addiction of any kind is straight from Satan. He is continually fighting to keep our attention and adoration focused away from the LORD, and the best way to do that is to train our focus onto the highs he gives in those things.

How do we adore the GOD Who is over all things, when we can’t even lift our heads enough to see how miserable we are in our current “adoration”? It is definitely not easy! I follow a blog called beautybeyondbones. It is about a woman’s journey to break the addiction of anorexia and to come to a place where adoration of our LORD supercedes the adoration and worship of the disease. Again, this is not an easy task, because none of us chooses to be addicted to anything. I believe that true healing of any addiction, any disease, is only available through JESUS CHRIST, our LORD and SAVIOUR. Whatever the addiction, the disease, Satan will not let you out of it easily. When we put any other adoration in front of the ALMIGHTY GOD, we are falling into the enemy’s trap. He makes it so easy to fall, but hard to see that we are falling! Even though Satan tries to keep our eyes down on his path, the Hand of JESUS is extended down to us so the if – when – we open our eyes, He is right there, waiting to help us up and take our burden, that burden of the enemy that is keeping us bowed down from the weight.

Sometimes our only recourse, the only thing we can do at that point, is to breathe the Name of JESUS; JESUS, help me. As we begin pulling ourselves up with His help, we begin to see Hope and to have real Adoration for Him. As His Grace and Mercy begin to permeate our souls; as we see the Light and continue to reach for it, the enemy is pulling with all his might to keep us down. Relapse happens because walking upright while the enemy keeps loading us with regret and hopelessness and self-loathing is very difficult. When we look back, or down, we loosen our hold on JESUS, sometimes letting go completely. Because He is a gentleman, and because GOD has given us free will, He won’t drag us back to Him. It’s always our choice, but too often the enemy has such a hold that he can keep us mired in the addiction – BUT GOD has given us many tools to overcome the enemy and leave his focus, the false admiration, and to see and adore JESUS. Counselors, recovery groups, doctors – GOD gave them the talents and skills to help us recognize where our addictions begin, and what we can do to break the hold it has on us, giving us room to truly adore our SAVIOUR.

I spent many years under the spell of the enemy, wasting my life and “adoration” on me and my way, refusing to see that I was miserable and missing out on a good life, a great life, with my LORD. It took the intervention of family and friend’s prayers, Christian counselors, recovery groups, and even doctors who helped by providing medications to help me break the hold of the enemy. Sometimes I find myself focusing on the past, and I realize that my adoration of the CHRIST is slipping, and I lift my eyes to His Word to read His Truth and Mercy and Hope.

Did you answer the question? Have you figured out where your adoration lies today?

Listen to Zach Williams “Survivor;” Matt Maher’s “What A Friend We Have In Jesus,” and Phil Wickham’s “Living Hope.” TRUTH! Only our LORD JESUS CHRIST, the ALMIGHTY and EVERLASTING GOD, is worthy of our adoration. JESUS is the Living Hope – everything else is temporary and will pass away, including – especially including – our enemy. You LOSE, Satan – HALLELUJAH, and Praise the LORD, we are survivors!

“[I] adore You as the ONE who is over all things.”

El Greco “The Adoration of the Name of JESUS”

Image courtesy of The National Gallery, London

In My Defense

“GOD Blesses those who patiently endure testing and temptation. Afterward they will receive the Crown of LIFE that GOD has promised to those who love Him.“- James 1:12 NLT (Note that it does NOT say “GOD helps those who help themselves.”)

Even though James thought he was writing to his contemporaries; fellow Jews who had been scattered throughout the known world, GOD’s message for him was to be sent through the ages. What James says looks eerily like it was written specifically for us today. For a person of true integrity, when he or she stands before the Great White Throne, waiting to be judged by Almighty GOD, there shouldn’t be many secrets hiding in their heart’s ‘closet’….. However, the outwardly righteous man, or the public presentation of integrity by a woman, could very well be hiding a closet stuffed to bursting with things that are secret and that they don’t want to reveal in the perfect Light coming from the throne. GOD sees past the facade we put up to fool other humans – and it is never a pretty sight.

Integrity defined: “the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles; moral uprightness; the state of being whole and undivided.” – from Google Dictionary

Jesus warns His followers, then and now:

“The time is coming when everything that is covered up will be revealed, and all that is secret will be made known to all. Whatever you have said in the dark will be heard in the LIGHT, and what you have whispered behind closed doors will be shouted from the housetops for all to hear! Dear friends, don’t be afraid of those who want to kill your body; they cannot do any more to you after that. But I’ll tell you Whom to fear. Fear GOD, Who has the power to kill you and then throw you into hell. Yes, he’s the one to fear.” – Luke 12:2‭-‬5 NLT

Remember the story of David and Bathsheba? This man, who has been declared to be a ‘man of GOD’s own heart’, was an adulterer and he had her husband murdered in order to cover his transgression. A ‘man of GOD’s own heart’, who tried to cover his secrets and hide them from the ALMIGHTY, ALL-SEEING GOD. Do you recall how well his secrets remained hidden? Not long. Days, weeks, maybe a few months, but it all came to the light – and the consequence of those sins was that their son, their firstborn, died.

“The time is coming when everything that is covered up will be revealed, and all that is secret will be made known to all.” – Luke 12:2 NLT

Could our LORD make it any more clear? Whatever the secret, it will be brought out into the Light. Now is the time to open your heart’s door and allow the HOLY SPIRIT clean out the cobwebs; to open all of those secret places in your mind so that He can do a thorough cleaning. He wants us to be sparkling clean when we stand in front of the Judge, but He will not force us to unlock all those doors. The more you keep them closed up and locked up, JESUS’s death and resurrection can’t completely cover our secret sins.

Are you holding them closed and living your life looking back at them, so you won’t ‘forget’ how bad it/you were? GOD is a gentleman and won’t force us to open the door(s) in this life – but ultimately, when we stand in the box to be judged, those locks will pop open and everything will be revealed. Won’t it be good to not have any secrets to bring to the Light? I encourage you to unlock them and let the Holy Spirit do a clean sweep, right now, today! Listen to Steve and Annie Chapman sing “The Secret Place.” Even now, after hearing it for almost 30 years, it brings tears of joy to my heart. (You’ll have to Google it, or go to YouTube)

Open the door to your secret place. That’s when you find true Hope and Healing – the ONLY Way, through JESUS.


Photo credit: heartafterjesus.blogspot.com