January 28 2015

Experience God

experience GodEveryone has their own way to experience God. Some people have had an encounter with Jesus where they have actually seen Him walk into the room and sit on the bed. Amazing. I have heard stories of villages where everyone had the same dream that they saw Jesus, and whole villages are being converted. Paul the Apostle saw Jesus on the road to Damascus and was changed forever. Some people experience God through a gift of healing others by praying in the name of Jesus. There are so many ways to experience God, to really feel and see and taste His presence in your life.

Taste and see that the LORD is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him. Psalm 34:8

Have you experienced God for yourself? Have you had an encounter with the one true Living God that has blown you away? If not, then prepare to open your heart friend, because He is waiting to show you so much more. When we open are hearts and minds to Jesus, when we are obedient to the promptings of the Holy Spirit, you can watch God do the most amazing things in your life!

During the first year of my walk with Jesus I was very open to the promptings of the Holy Spirit. He asked me to change many things in my life, things that I didn’t really want to change, but I knew it was right. And I wanted to honor and obey my Lord, because I love Him. He knows whats best for me, much better than I do. I tried to keep myself open to the Holy Spirit and let Him led me often. Unfortunately there were times when I refused to listen, and I can see how it has impacted my life. Not because I was punished by God, but much as a child refuses to listen to a parent, they reap the consequences of it.

Yet many times I followed through with things I felt the Spirit moving me to do, even when it seemed downright crazy. There have been many times I felt God prompting me to tell different people things. I went with it. It was weird for me. But it was also so cool. God wants to work through us to speak to others! We just have to listen, trust and obey. I am learning many of the spiritual gifts God has given me because of my willingness to obey Him. For instance, I felt very strongly at one point to email one of the church leaders and tell them a message God wanted me to give. I really did not want to. I really felt it was very crazy and dumb. I mean who emails church leaders with a message from God?

God doesn’t really speak through people to prophecy anymore, right? God doesn’t use people to heal or work miracles still. Those are all just stories from the Bible. Stories from 2000 years ago! Right? WRONG!  Do not be fooled into thinking God has changed! He has not. The God who walked with His people and commanded us to go out and heal and cast out demons and prophecy is still real, still alive and still exactly the same.

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. Hebrews 13:8

Satan does not want you to experience God, however. It is his job to keep you away from God. To deceive you into forgetting the truth and thinking that the stories from the Bible are dead and done for our generation. Look at all the distractions in life that take you away from God? Do you think it is a coincidence? Are lives are jam-packed with things to do and stress and problems – all designed to mask the reality that we have been given by God. We are here on earth to live a victorious life and to spread the Gospel message so others can live a victorious life as well. Are you claiming your life of victory right now? Or living just trying to get by every day?

Last year there was a homeless man who began to stand on a little strip of concrete that divided the road near a busy intersection. Honestly I didn’t think much about him and he was there for probably a couple of weeks. Until one night my husband and I were driving home from Bible study. Suddenly I was overcome by compassion for the man and I told my husband we needed to stop. He said he would stop tomorrow on the way home from work, but I insisted we needed too. He declined again and as were rounded the corner into our neighborhood we saw a cat that looked like the one that had run away. My husband turned the car around so we could look for her, and I asked him again to go back to the homeless man. I knew God wanted us to talk to him.

So he turned around and we went back to the corner and parked in a parking lot. My husband went over to the man and knelt down next to him and prayed. It was so weird because there was something almost angelic about the man. I felt very strongly that we needed to give him a Bible and I told my husband so when he got back in the car. He said the man was Christian was quoting scripture to him. He said he would bring him a Bible tomorrow. I said no he needed one now. So I handed my Bible to give to the man. Of course we had already started driving away again, so my husband had to turn around and go back. But the man was gone. So we looked for him and found him at the gas station on the opposite side of the street. My husband gave him the Bible, then came back to the car. I asked him if he had given him money for food, and he hadn’t, so he went to find him again to give him money.

The whole thing was just crazy in my mind. I started to feel very strongly that I needed to talk to the man and tell him that his daughter was looking for him. His daughter? How could I know that he had a daughter. I did not want to just start talking crazy talk to someone like that, but I felt so strongly that I needed to tell him this. The conviction was so strong I could not get away from it. I had to obey it.

So again my husband came back to the car and I told him. He said OK, let’s go talk to him together. I did not want to, I was so scared! Finally I got up enough nerve to do it. I had not really had any encounters with homeless people before. I had looked down on them really. This man’s name was Charles. He was very dirty and smelled like alcohol very strongly. I began to talk to him and I could tell he was drunk. He said angels protected him while he was on the streets, and I believed it. Like I said, there was something almost angelic about him, and I knew then that what he said was true.

I asked him if he had a daughter, and he did. He hadn’t talked to her in a number of years. I told him that she was looking for him, and that she Jesus was in her life. I told him that she was going to find him and he was going to go live with her. Crazy. Then I told my husband we needed to pray and cast out demons from him. We did. Super crazy. But real. So real.

We believed in God, and trusted in Him that this happened to help this man. I felt very strongly that he had been oppressed for many years by Satan who used the alcohol and other things to keep him away from doing what God wanted him to do. The next afternoon I did see Charles at the corner again. I was driving by to get my son from school and could not stop. He looked like he had a shower though. That was the last time I saw Charles. I believe that God worked through prayer to save this man from his oppression and deliver him.

Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.  And these signs will accompany those who believe: in my name they will cast out demons; they will speak in new tongues;  they will pick up serpents with their hands; and if they drink any deadly poison, it will not hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover. Mark 16:16-18

This is real. Everyone can experience God this way. I am not special, I do not possess something unusual that others do not. Jesus tells us right in the Bible that we can and should live a supernatural life. We are not physical body’s having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual bodies having a human experience. And why should these things sound crazy? Perhaps you have been tricked by the horror movies into thinking it is all fake. Do you know in other countries they believe and know demons are real and active. They see them and have spiritual battles daily. Why is it that here in the US we are so blinded to the wiles of the devil? His biggest ally here is that we do not believe in him.

For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Ephesians 6:12

Doubtful? Repent to God for being closed to His prompting in your life. Open yourself up to the Holy Spirit and ask Him to reveal Himself to you. Trust Him and obey any convictions or promptings you begin to feel. God wants to work in you and through you. You have spiritual gifts that are waiting to be discovered. They were not given to you for your own use, but to share with others. God loves His people – all people, and He wants each of them to experience salvation and hope and love. You can be a conduit in which that can happen, all you have to do is allow God to use you.

You can experience God in amazing and powerful ways. You were created to have a relationship with the Almighty God. It can be overwhelming and scary to think about this being real. But once you taste and see the Lord and His true love for you, you will never want to go back to an ordinary life where distractions carry you far away from Him.

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. John 10:10

Category: My Salvation, Who Is Jesus? | Comments Off on Experience God
January 24 2015

Comfy Cozy Christian

I have been told many times that I have a great passion for Jesus that is very inspiring. I have also been told it is because I am a new Christian. Many of the Christians I know that have been Christian for a long time seemed to have lost that passion for Christ. I can see how being new into a relationship with Jesus can make a person feel very excited and giddy even. It can make you want to run out and share the Good News with everyone! Like any honeymoon, it does end. No one is going to have that lasting good feeling going forever. Just like a marriage, it takes work, commitment, and effort on our part, to keep things alive. To keep the passion fires burning inside of us.

christianIt is the same for a Christian and their relationship with Jesus. We have that initial honeymoon period where we feel so in love with Him, and we are ready to shout it out to the roof tops. Then somewhere along the road that feeling starts to slowly fade and before we know it, we have completely lost it. We are walking around just like every other person who has let the world shape them, not God. And it is up to us to pursue Jesus with the same intensity that He pursues us. We cannot just hope and pray for that passion to return, but we need to actively take part in growing it.

Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken the love you had at first. Consider how far you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place. Revelation 2:4-5

How easy it is to fall away from our relationship with Christ. We forget to pray, we are too busy to read the Bible, we fill our heads up with worldy lies from TV and media. We find ourselves going to church because it is a great social time with our  friends, and it at least meets the minimum requirement to fulfill our Christianity. Before you know it our hearts are becoming hardened to His Word. The Holy Spirit’s convictions are going ignored, and the things we once removed from our lives because of His conviction we are slowly adding back in. It is so much easier to be like everyone else. Why be set apart or different? Why speak out for God and His Word?

A comfy Christian life seems to be the pursuit of so many Christians now. It is a routine, and lifestyle, a habit. It is not something that penetrates us to the core of who we are. We would not go out of our way to ask a brother or sister if they need prayer. Or to go up to the homeless person and pray for them as well as give them some change. Or to smile at everyone we meet, letting the light of Christ through. Or worse yet, we store up bitterness and resent among our own church family, letting petty things chip away at us. What does the world see when it looks at you? Does it see a person who is a full of love and light, hope and faith? Or another selfish person beat down by the world.

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. Romans 12:2

It can happen to the best of us. We are all susceptible to the dangers of falling away from our relationship with our Savior. Even I, the new Christian, have experienced it. More than once. It is a scary thing to realize I haven’t even prayed in months. Or that when I pick up the Bible and try to read it, not one word makes sense to me. Or that all the negative influences I have fought to remove from my life have started creeping back in. We must always be on guard. Satan wants nothing more than to find is in our comfy cozy place, where we are just going through the motions, just trying to get through each day. Because then we are vulnerable to his attacks to bring us further away from God. It is his only mission here in this world.

We must work in partnership with God to grow a strong relationship with Him. Putting Him first, above all else. Everything else, even family, friends, work. Everything. We must trust Him and put total faith in Jesus, that He is taking care of us, working all things for the  good of those who love Him. We must set aside time to read the Bible daily, making it a priority. Even five minutes, is better than nothing. Even one verse memorized, is better than a chapter read and not understood. Make a prayer list and devote yourself to pray over it. I have a list on my smart phone and when a prayer is answered I check it off. I pray for things important to me, things I need, and people I know that need prayer. It is unbelievable how great it can feel to pray for others. And even better when you pray for those people who you can’t get off your mind because they have made you angry or upset somehow. Maybe God has placed those people in your life exactly because they need your prayer. adam

No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us. 1 John 4:12

As Christians we need to stand up and be examples of Godliness in a godless world. We need to let Christ work through us and in us in every circumstance we are in. Even the mundane. You can show love and kindness to others in so many ways. While driving, while running errands, at work, at home. During your drive time, or while you are during household chores, you can listen to the Bible. You can post scripture on sticky notes around your house or work. You can set aside your time in the shower to pray for others. Where there is a will, there is a way. We do not have to sit down and let life have victory over us, when Jesus sacrificed everything to give us victory over the world.

For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. 1 John 5:4

Never take for granted the wonderful freedom you have been granted as a child of God. Never forget that you were once dead in your sin, and an enemy of God – even those of you who became a Christian as a child. You have a precious gift – you have been hand-picked by God to a life of purpose. You do not have to live still enslaved to sin. So many others are living far away from Jesus and have no idea who He is. They have no hope, nothing to put their faith into, just despair and suffering all their lives. They don’t even know the life they are missing. But if they could just see it in us. If they could get a glimpse of God’s love through us, to see what a life lived for Jesus can do, think how their lives could be changed.

For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery. Galations 5:1

God isn’t asking for perfection from us. He is not telling us to follow a certain set of rules, or be a certain way. But what He is asking is for all of us. Jesus came to earth as a helpless baby and gave His life to pay your debt. He has given you all of His love and poured out blessings on your life. He has saved you from darkness and death. And He deserves all of you. All of our love, all of our devotion, all of our life. Are you willing to step out and be bold and courageous and live your life for Jesus?

January 19 2015

Church – The Body of Christ

For most of my adult life I have longed for a community to live in. A community where people support and help each other. A place where I could watch my kids thrive. I never thought I would find that place in a Christian church. Yet God has placed us in a church that has truly become like a second home to us. It took some time for me to learn to appreciate the church and what it really means. For a while I thought church was all about what it can do for me. I didn’t understand that God has a grand design for the church.church

We have been going to this church for almost two years now. It was Super Bowl Sunday 2013 that we first stepped foot in our church. It felt strange and right all at the same time. Over the months that we first attended church it took some getting used to for me, to learn how to open up and interact with other people. I was not accustomed to being social so often. I had learned to withdraw and be very shy, so that I could protect myself. Yet I was learning and growing every Sunday at the capable hands of the head Pastor.

My hunger and thirst for the Word grew, and my passion for God was burning white-hot. Soon I began to see drama unfold around me with some of the people I was interacting with on a regular basis. It was very upsetting for me, and naturally I wanted to just run from it. I was certain that it was not what God would have for me. I was certain that I was better than all the pettiness I was seeing around me. My husband was feeling the same way. We agreed that maybe we should start looking around for a new church.

There were other reasons we were unhappy. As we started to grow we became less and less satisfied with the teachings on Sunday. We weren’t getting “fed” the spiritual meat we felt we needed. We also felt there was a division in our church among the congregation. There were two services held at the same time – one for the modern crowd and one for the classic crowd. We just didn’t like the direction the church seemed to be going in.

It was then that I found an article on changing your church. I think I Googled how to pick a church when this article popped up. I’m not even certain, all I know is that once I read the article it was clear God had led me right to it. It went point by point why you should not leave your church, but stay with it. It stated that church is for community, and that is the main reason for its existence. For the body to work together to edify each other, building each other up. It also stated that church is full of people, and people are full of drama. You will find it in every church, everywhere, because people are not perfect.

It was a slap in the face really. I knew God was speaking directly to me, so I became resolved to change my attitude about church. My husband and I became very active at church. We had a Life Group, Bible Study, attended all the church functions, and joined many other activities and groups.  Our sons all had tons to do as well. It was going great. For awhile that is.

That is until my church announced it was going to take the next year to go through The Story. I had actually seen a copy of The Story at the local Christian book store and picked it up. I was repulsed by it, because it was just some abridged version of the Bible. What a joke. I really thought I was better than all that. I thought I was learning and growing and knew so much. I guess I needed another piece of humble pie, huh?

Well I got very upset. I began to rant and rave to all my friends, some who were higher up in the church. I was outraged and disgusted, How could our church do this to us? How could they take this infant’s milk and try to bottle feed it to us? Like we were nothing more than little babies incapable of digesting something more substantial. Wow, I took it really seriously. My husband was just as upset. We wanted our church to stand on the truth of the whole Bible, not just half of it.

That is when we became very serious about changing churches. We actively began to seek another church, as we complained to other people outside of our church. Soon we found ourselves getting all dressed up to go to a new church one Sunday. We were excited about the potential of the new church. We just knew it would be so much better – more Godly and Christian than our church. They offered things that our church could not and would not offer. It had all the appeal that new things always have.

But reality is always much different from expectations. This new church was exactly that – a new church. Completely unfamiliar. None of our friends or groups or Bible Studies were at this church. And of course we found things about it we disliked or disagreed with. By the end of the day we felt pretty bummed out and almost like we missed church that day. We went running back to our church home the next Sunday, with a much better outlook on things.

That is when I realized – God is so much bigger than all of that. He had appointed us to this church home, and he is sovereign. If I love Him, then I need to trust Him and know that He put us here for a reason. His ways are higher than our ways, and I can’t always see the purpose in His grand plan for my family. But it is there. God knew that the church was going to do The Story. Did we really think that God couldn’t use The Story to reach people? Is God really so small that He can’t take something like that and still teach and speak to His people? God is changing lives and working miracles every day. Just because we can’t see it, doesn’t mean it isn’t happening.

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. 2 Timothy 3:16-17

All scripture, not just some of it. That means if someone takes a part of scripture and makes it into a book, it doesn’t make it less useful or God inspired. Church is not about what the Pastor preaches every week. It’s not about the quality of the Bible study or the righteousness of the people who go there. It’s not about if there is a dress code or if the church is seeker friendly. It’s not about what type of worship music is played or how people dress.

Church is about community. It is about Jesus, the head of our church, bringing together His body, to be unified. 

God made church originally for community. To bring us closer together, bearing up together in love, teaching each other, loving each other, supporting each other, mourning and rejoicing together. We were not made to be alone. That is why God made Eve. He saw that Adam was alone, and that is was not good. We were created to be with other people, because we need each other. The problem is not the church, it is sin. We live in a broken world, damaged by sin. Church is not a safe haven away from sin, but a place where we can be open about our sin. We can expose our raw places where we need help, and let others pray for us and encourage us towards our Healer and Redeemer.

Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household,  built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone.  In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit. Ephesians 2:19-22

We need to stop looking at church with expectations of what it can give to us, and start looking to ourselves and asking, what can we give to our church? How can we contribute, as a member of the body? God has given us each gifts, and those gifts were not given to keep to ourselves, but to share with the fellow members of our body. Look around you. What needs do you see? There are people hurting, people in need of help in so many ways. We can reach out to them with something as simple as a smile even. Jesus called us out to make disciples of all nations. That doesn’t mean you have to travel the world to begin. You can start in your own church community where there are lost people there right now. Just because they go to your church does not mean they have a personal relationship with Jesus.

For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully. Romans 12:4-8

faithThe church needs you. You have been called for a higher purpose in this life. God did not call you out of a life of darkness randomly. It was for a reason. He personally chose you to be a child of His, to know Him and to spread that infectious and radically love boldly. Do not let the enemy bring you down with his lies, telling you that the petty little dramas around you are worth your time and energy. That is just a distraction from your true purpose.

“Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the LORD rises upon you.” Isaiah 60:1

 

 

Category: Christian Life, My Salvation | Comments Off on Church – The Body of Christ
January 15 2015

Who Is In Control?

Things in my life lately have seem to go totally out of control. Just a few months ago things were great. I remember thinking that my life was pretty great and I had no real complications going on. I was loving the Lord and all the blessings that He had bestowed upon me. I was happy with my church and my marriage and things were just all around good. I also remember thinking that life is never all good with no bad and that at some point things were going to go south.

stormIsn’t that the way life works though? It has its ups and it’s downs. No one is immune to problems because we live in a fallen world. Sin runs rampant and we as humans can’t control life’s circumstances or other people. And so it goes. Just a couple of months later it seemed like things were falling apart all around me. It wasn’t just one or two things, but everything. Little things and big things. When it rains it pours! I got through the first month of troubles on the strength of God. I clung to my Rock with hope and faith and trust. I continually kept giving Him my problems and praying, just knowing somehow God was going to come through in my hour of need.

In my distress I called to the LORD; I cried to my God for help. From his temple he heard my voice; my cry came before him, into his ears. Psalm 18:6

And He did! Boy how He did! I was amazed and overwhelmed and completely humbled. But once that one big problem was resolved, everything else just continued to come crashing down around me. It was blow after blow after blow. I lost my hope and stopped clinging to my Rock. I started to live in fear and anxiety constantly. I stopped praying every time I felt worry creep in and instead obsessed over the myriad of problems and gave in completely to desperation. I knew I needed to stop this madness and cling to God, but I seemed unable to.

I started to feel so lost and confused and alone. I knew God was out there, I knew He is a living God, completely active in my life. Yet I could not find my way to Him at all. It got to the point where finally in desperation I just sat and cried out to God, over and over and over again, begging Jesus to reveal Himself to me, to give me MORE of Him, to let me continually dwell in His presence. I could see how easy it is to get lost like a ship at see and be tossed about. I had completely lost my way and my need for Jesus was glaringly evident. It had never been so obvious how I could not do any of this life without Him.

After that I did start to feel better. I started to feel more connected to God and tried to give my problems to Him more. It wasn’t enough though. Why I couldn’t just release all this to Him, I have no idea. When things around me start to get out of control, I guess I just feel the need to buckle down and take control of them myself. If I can take control of all these problems, then I can find the sanity that I am looking for. What I couldn’t seem to remember though, is that I have no control over the circumstances in my life. But God does.

 For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-control. 2 Timothy 1:7

Finally as I continued to struggle with my frustration over the lot life had been dealing out to me, I reminded myself of just a month before when I relying solely on God for strength to get through hard times. And of how amazing God had been to me! That is when it hit me – I do not have control over my life’s circumstances, but I do have control over myself! I cannot control how my kids act, but when they get out of control, I can remain in control. I cannot control what is going on in my life, but I can control how I respond. I can control my attitude, my words, my actions, and even take every thought captive to Christ.

controlWhat an amazing gift God has given us! Self-control. With self-control I can stop obsessing over problems, and having a defeated attitude and start giving it all to God. God has granted me power – His power, and with that I can choose to end my suffering. If I trust Him and submit to Him, He will take on my yoke and my burden. He will grant me peace, not as the world does, but only as Jesus can. Because if God is for us, who can possibly be against us? God is sovereign. He has created all things and we should never be fooled into thinking God is not completely in control. He began to plan for the salvation and redemption of mankind from the very beginning. He took thousands of years to complete His plan, so it would happen in His perfect timing. And it was all foretold in the Bible! So why should we now give up and think that God has lost control and is helpless?

God works all things for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purposes for Him Romans. 8:28

God has a plan for our lives, and for the rest of all humanity, for all of time. He has graciously given us all we need and He loves us all, willing that non should perish. With that, I found the greatest peace and comfort. I was able to come before God’s throne of mercy and receive the grace that He so lavishly pours out on His people. He loves us and we need to remember we are seated in the heavenly realms with Christ Himself. So we can either live life as though we have been defeated, or we can choose to live a life victoriously – because through Jesus we are more than conquerors.

Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you. Psalm 63:3

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Category: My Salvation, Who Is Jesus? | Comments Off on Who Is In Control?
January 13 2015

Who Would Die For You?

There are many reasons why some people have a hard time believing in Jesus. I think one of the biggest is that the Bible tells us that Jesus rose from the dead. From a sane person’s viewpoint that may sound completely crazy. I mean, how could a person die and then come back to life? That is impossible by our standards. It sounds more like something you would see in a movie or read in a book, not something that could ever happen in real life.  I know for me when I was a pagan, the whole Jesus thing was just a ridiculous joke. At one point I believed that Jesus never existed, and over time I changed my opinion to Jesus was just a great teacher from the past.

But one thing I did not consider in all of this was why Jesus rose from the grave. Yes it is important to ask the hard questions and research and find facts and evidence. In doing that you will miss the very important fact of the why’s of everything Jesus did. And if you are going to ask the question why did Jesus rise from the dead, then you have to ask the question, why did He die in the first place? Therein lies the ultimate prize for any examination into the truth of Jesus and His resurrection.

If Jesus was just a great teacher, such as Buddha, or a great historical figure who did great things, such as Mother Theresa, then why would there be these strange stories of His murder and resurrection? It makes no sense. It takes a great story and makes it unreal. It takes a great fairy tale and makes it confusing. So again, you have to go back to the why did Jesus die and then ask how did He die?

crucifixionTwo other men, both criminals, were also led out with him to be executed. When they came to the place called the Skull, they crucified him there, along with the criminals—one on his right, the other on his left. Jesus said, “Father,forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” And they divided up his clothes by casting lots. Luke 23:32-33

Back in Roman times it was common to execute criminals by nailing their hands and feet to a giant wooden cross. They would then erect the cross upright and let the criminal hang there until he died. This is called crucifixion. It could take several days for a person to die in this manner and often the Roman soldiers would break the man’s legs in order to speed up his death. It was a horrifying and cruel way to punish a criminal, let alone a way for any human to die. This was how Jesus was killed.

Why did Jesus receive a death sentence of a criminal? Because the Jewish leaders of His day hated Him and wanted Him dead. Why? The Jewish people called Him Messiah – the one that God had sent to save the Jewish people. The Jewish leaders hated Jesus because they believed He was a blasphemer – a man who said He was God. So they arranged to have Him tried and executed. It seems cruel and unfair that a man be unfairly executed like this. I was appalled myself as I first learned the Gospel story. What I didn’t realize is that the Jewish leaders were just falling right into God’s plan.

Yes, God had a plan to have Jesus die. It was a plan that was set in the works thousands of years before anyone ever knew of Jesus. And that is where we come into the real why of Jesus death and resurrection. Jesus, son of the one true God sacrificed His life in order to give all humanity a chance for freedom. He died so we could have freedom from our own death. Ultimately, Jesus paid the price for us, and He did it all for love.

“For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father.” John 10:17-18

Love? I have never conceived of a love that would give up everything for me. Not just for me; for everyone through out all time. That kind of love is powerful, but it sounds unreal. To us, it is unreal. It is not a love we are capable of exhibiting. It is a divine love, bigger than any one person. We are not capable of loving in this way, yet we are capable of feeling this intense kind of love. It is not a love based on conditions or restrictions or any other parameters humans put on things. It is far beyond that and almost out of our ability to understand. It doesn’t make sense, does it?

Jesus suffered pain and humiliation that day as He died on the cross. He bared no grudge or anger towards those who seemed to send Him to this fate. He knew exactly what He was doing and why He was doing it. He took it all so He could claim victory over our sin and death. And at His last breath He said, “It is finished.” The work He came here to do was completed there on the cross, forever. It never has to be repeated and it was done for all of humanity, so that we may find peace with God.

Three days later, as His lifeless body lay wrapped in cloth in a sealed tomb, life suddenly poured back into His body. He spent 30 days meeting with His disciples before His ascension into heaven. His resurrection was a proof to all, a demonstration of God’s great power. And it showed that Jesus was not some ordinary man. No, He is God. Divine, powerful, and living. Death can not overcome God, because He is the master of life and death. And through Him we have been given the gift of life and our own resurrection.

With Jesus we can leave behind a life of hopelessness and despair. A life where we are destined to live without purpose and meaning and go down into the grave forever. Jesus brings a new level to life – to experience it to the fullest, without fear. Tell me, who do you know that would die for you? Who would sacrifice their very life to save yours? And if they were to die for you, if they were to pay that price for you, where would that leave you? Imagine: that person would have left behind their own life, family, plans for their future, etc. And you would be left with life, but also with guilt, confusion, possibly even anger. You would not want to live with knowing that you essentially took that away from someone else.

That is not what it is like for Jesus. He died for you and with His resurrection there is no guilt or shame or condemnation for us who believe in Him. There is nothing but freedom and love and righteousness for those who call upon His name. He loves us relentlessly, passionately, eternally. He wants nothing more than for us to know Him, and understand that great love He has for us. That amazing love that He displayed that day on the cross. What does He ask in return? Nothing. Not one thing.

Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. John 15:13

 

 

Category: My Salvation, Who Is Jesus? | Comments Off on Who Would Die For You?