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He is risen!

Before our Lord Jesus endured his final hour, Isaiah prophesized how he would die. The words, pierced, bruised, and crushed all describe the scene at the hands of the Jews and Romans on that fateful day. Many would have passed out from only a portion of what Jesus endured. Amazingly, he hung in there through the suffering. All for you and me.

The sacrifice he made, the torture, the humiliation, and how he was mentally and emotionally brought down by the weight of humankind’s sin is mind boggling. What the Lord went through is stirring in the deepest of ways because what he suffered was what we deserve. An innocent lamb led to slaughter. Though because of this miraculous feat, we are now set free. Set free spiritually from everything that besets our souls forever.

The compassion of God is truly greater than anything we’ll ever come to know. The more we dwell upon the flogging he endured… the stripes upon his back, the nails in his wrists, and the crown of thorns on his head, the more fully we can understand the magnitude of his suffering. The greater meaning of it all, we’ll understand in heaven, but for now, we can rest in the truth of God’s word that these things were designed from the beginning for good.

The only remedy for the world’s sickness and disease of sin with all of its manifestations is the Lord. Isaiah tells us: “By His stripes we are healed.” We take medicine for our physical ailments, but the only medicine to cure our souls is the blood of the perfect lamb.

We walk by faith and not by sight

When walking with the Lord, we take the time to fully seek him through prayer and study of the Bible and come to find that is where he reveals himself. His power is displayed also in nature, but in His Word, he speaks to us.

As Apostle Paul states in his letter to the Corinthians, we are assured of the resurrection by the granting of the Holy Spirit to all believers through Christ. What a great gift! Abiding in God’s word and submitting to his good and perfect will, we find ourselves led by the Spirit and yearning for the blessed hope when we see him face-to-face. Until then, we need to continue to walk with him daily and worship him—even washing the dishes can be a worshipful experience when the Lord is present in our hearts and minds.

Seeking His kingdom and searching for him in scripture is the ultimate journey we can accomplish every day as the Lord guides and directs us until we go home. Walking closely with the Lord in every avenue of our lives will never fail to yield the fruit of peace.

James 4:8 says, “Draw near to God and he will draw near to you.”

As the deer pants for water…

When the Jews were exiled to Babylon, the Lord told them that after a period of 70 years of captivity, he would allow them to return to their homeland. Even though God sent them away, he still kept his eye on them.

“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.”

As a deer pants for water, we ought to seek after the Lord through our prayers and supplications for He is our refuge. When confronted with our sin, we need to find ourselves sincerely in a place of a penitent and contrite heart, which he says he will not despise, and, like the Jews, he will come to us just as he encouraged the Jews through his discipline to see their need for him.

“Then ye shall call upon me and ye shall go and pray unto me, and I will hearken unto you…”

It is only through grace that we can enter into a relationship with the Lord, but our hearts must be earnestly open and yielding to whatever he wants to show us.

Where your treasure is, there lies your heart

Apostle Paul warned the believers not to be overly concerned with worldly things—clothing, food, or their lives in general. The laws of the Pharisees regarding these were useless. Rather, he warned them of greater things.

“And I say unto you my friends, be not afraid of them that kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do. But I will forewarn you whom ye shall fear: Fear him, which after he hath killed hath power to cast into hell; yea, I say unto you, fear him” ~ Luke 12:4-5

Paul also instructed them on what was pleasing to the Lord, knowing that some were concerned with amassing riches and glory for themselves, and some were of a doubtful mind, beset with worry. Instead of worrying about the banal things as the world concerns themselves, Paul posed the question: “Is not life more than meat and raiment?”

To think that God clothed the lilies of the field and did not pause to forget that their lives are short lived—here one day and faded the next—how much more will he clothe you? Those of little faith, take heart, Paul said. The hairs on our heads are numbered. His eye is on the sparrow. Are you not more important?

Solomon may have been an elegant dresser, but even the lowly lily still outdid him.




 

Wisdom, knowledge, and the word

In Athens, Apostle Paul spoke to the highly educated leaders plainly about Jesus. However, despite their keen knowledge, most of them were lost and could not grasp what he was saying. Instead, they laughed at him. Such is the way of the world.

Some knowledge just can’t be obtained through logic. No matter how smart or scholarly, we are not able to encompass all that belongs to the Lord if we are devoid of faith. While he has prepared wonderful and marvelous things far beyond our scope of comprehension and can do “exceedingly, abundantly above” all that we can even imagine, there is only one way to fully comprehend the truth of God’s word and that is through the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

“…we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world to our glory.” 1 Cor. 2:7.

As humankind’s intelligence is limited, how can we affirm we have any spiritual knowledge or wisdom above and beyond what has been revealed to us and that we understand through faith? In the chasm between our finite minds and God’s infinite sovereignty, there is a wealth of knowledge to be found, and the Lord is only too pleased to use the Holy Spirit to teach and to guide us as we earnestly search for His truth.

 

Be still…

With all of the noise coming from Twitter, Facebook, and TV news, it seems everyone has something to say in the public square. Often, the black and white issues of the day become lost in didacticism, leaving little to be stilled in those who have it all figured out as they see fit.

For us, as God’s holy people, His word tells us to be still. Adding to that it says, “and know that I am God.” Does that mean we have to be silent at all times or become a mannequin?

No, to be still before God is to render ourselves in His capable hands and into his control. To allow the Holy Spirit to control our mind and our tongue. When we face issues that come in the heat of the noise around us, He says to release everything into his hands, remembering that He is the strength of our lives. By letting go, we’re trusting God because He’s already proven himself time and time again throughout history. After all, he is the King of Kings.

While there’s a time and place to speak and act, doing so without being still before the Lord can make our desires preeminent to the Lord’s. One day, he will be exalted among the nations and “every knee will bow” to him. As his children, we can do that right now by allowing the Holy Spirit to speak to us, to trust him to lead us going forward and, above all, to be still before the almighty, living God.

Reap what we sow

A common metaphor in the Bible uses horticulture—seeds, plowing, sowing, reaping, growing to give a visual image of the Lord’s truths. The words of Jesus to his disciples concerning the vine and branches in the fifteenth chapter of John came on the night of his betrayal. He wanted to prepare them for what will soon come: the crucifixion, resurrection, his ascension to heaven, and the work that’s to be done until he returns to earth.

Jesus’s intention was to bring joy to the hearts of the disciples.  He knew they’d be despairing soon and wanted to reassure them of his intentions that if they kept abiding in him, they would be fruitful in the work set before them.

“These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full.” 

The world longs to have joy and often seeks it—not in the vine—but somewhere else. They may dig and plow to reap their sustenance, but outside of the one true vine, they will not find what they’re looking for and will reap what they sow.

As we grow in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, we find our sustenance can only be replenished through the one true source of all strength, light, and spiritual nourishment…Jesus.

 

One in the Spirit

With all of the focus on diversity these days, it’s interesting to note that God doesn’t even notice things like race, color, or gender. These statistics don’t matter as the Lord’s focus is on the heart.

As believers, we have fellowship with him as our father, and that makes us collectively all brothers and sisters in the Lord. We comprise the body of Christ. Some may feel like they’re just the big toe, but in a body, the toe really has a huge function!

As Christians, we are called to love one another. Although we all have shortcomings, we’re to make every effort to love in spite of our predilections and peculiarities. We need to preserve the unity of the spirit at all costs. Why? Because we are one—in Christ.

Maintaining a bond of peace is not always easy, but the power of the Holy Spirit gives us the fortification and strength. May we always remember that “There is but one Lord, one faith, and one baptism” (Ephesians 4:5) and also one hope that we share. Truly, it all rests in Him.

Bearing fruit

As we know from Apostle Paul, there is no good thing in our flesh, and any beauty we display is all due to God’s Holy Spirit living inside us, which bears fruit that is peaceable, good, and pure.

The early church in Galatia was aware of the presence and the power of the Spirit, but at some point turned back to their former ways… back to the old and now obsolete covenant—the Law—to live in the flesh. Paul said, Wait…no, you’re beyond that now!

“Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.” (Galatians 5:24-25).

 When we become saved, we are no longer the same person, and we are free from the old ways which once dominated our lives. Rather than obey its lusts, we have a higher calling and a higher purpose. No longer living for ourselves, we live to serve the King.

The power of the Holy Spirit in us has already conquered the flesh. All we need to do is want to please the Lord, and through prayer and seeking his will, we allow the spirit to work in us. There is no life more abundant than one that brings forth the fruit of God’s righteousness.

Great is His faithfulness

God is great and God is good. How often we said those words in prayer before meals as a child. We recited them as a perfunctory duty at the instruction and leading of our parents. It was dinner time protocol. In rattling off the quick prayer, we hastened in an effort to soon pick up the fork! Though, later in life, those same words began to take on a real meaning as we grew more fully in Christ and came to understand more about him.

When the actual greatness of God becomes manifest, it’s jaw dropping to fathom just how great he is. His power is exemplified not only in his ability to keep the earth rotating on its axis, the sun shining, trees growing and flowers blooming, but his power extends to the atoms and molecules holding everything together, including the very nails that held his hands and feet to the cross!

His greatness is above our imaginations and his goodness is purer than the finest gemstone. To know him is to love him, and the more we know the Lord, the more we see his power working. Right now, we see merely a glimpse of his true glory. When we see him face-to-face, his greatness will be like nothing we’ve ever known or could ever fathom while here on earth.

Maranatha, Jesus!