Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Tuesday's with Jesus #140

#140 "Saturdays"
March 25, 2008
""Come now, let us reason together" says the Lord. Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool."" (Isaiah 1: 18)

I normally write "Tuesday's" on Monday. However, if my sweet angel of a daughter doesn't go into labor this weekend, she will start being induced on Monday. Because I wouldn't miss writing to you for anything in the world, here I am at the keys on Saturday afternoon.

I have been way too self-focused of late. While, thank you, Jesus, I have had awesome moments of ministry in the last couple of weeks, too many of my thoughts and prayers have been all about me, my sins, my shortcomings. I would venture to say that many of my recent days have been Saturdays in my soul. Trying to make some sense out of all of this, won't you come along with me... just in case you're relating in any way to what I'm saying?

Not much is recorded in the Bible about that Saturday. You know the one I mean. The sound of the nails, fastening their Hope to the cross on Friday, was still ringing in their ears. The only words that refer to that day are found in Luke 23: 56. Listen to this: "The women who had come with Jesus from Galilee followed Joseph and saw the tomb and how his body was laid in it. Then they went home and prepared spices and perfumes. But they rested on the Sabbath in obedience to the commandment." Let me go back and read that again...they "rested"? I don't know about you, but this woman would have found it quite hard to rest. The Greek word used for "rested" is "hesuchazo" and means "to be still, to rest from labor". According to their custom and God's commandments, which were still in full force despite the events of the day, the Sabbath rest was observed.

I will concede a physical rest to those women. But what about in their souls? What about in the deepest recesses of their hearts? Could they have truly been at rest? Interestingly enough, the same word, "hesuchazo" is used elsewhere in the Bible to mean "holding one's peace". Sometimes we just don't "hesuchazo" very well, do we? Holding one's peace is hard when circumstances and situations beat us up. When things don't turn out the way we thought that they would. When life isn't fair and we just plain can't seem to get it together the way we know God wants us to. "Hesuchazo" is hard when Friday has stolen your hopes and your dreams and all of your joy. Now it's Saturday and you don't know what lies ahead.

Sometimes those Saturday's come when we are feeling beaten down by our past or by our present sin. Let me know if you're feeling this one at all. "I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God's law; but I see another law at work against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members. What a wretched man (woman) I am!" (Romans 7: 15 and 21-24a) Oh, Paul...it's as if you were reading my mind! In my inner being, I love God's Word. I absolutely delight in His law and His ways and His commands and not the least of which, I delight in Him. I cannot adequately describe my delight and joy in following your ways, O Lord! So why do I continue to do those things that I don't want to do? Why don't I do those things that I should? Are you feeling this one at all? "Who will rescue us from this body of death?" (v. 24b) Where is there any hope for us? Look at verse 25: "Thanks be to God--through Jesus Christ our Lord!" Because we are "in Him", "there is now no condemnation" for us! (Romans 8:1) Because of Him, we have true "hesuchazo".

Last night we experienced a snow storm that seemed so out of place for the weekend of Easter. I was outside very early this morning, before anyone had disturbed the snow, and God reminded me of something that was written thousands of years before those words of my friend Paul. "Come now, let us reason together," says the Lord. "Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow." (Isaiah 1: 18) When God says that He wants to "reason" with us, He is using a law term that is used of arguing, convincing, or deciding a case in court. We are to be convinced that our sins are like blood-colored stains on our souls, but God in His grace, through His Son, Jesus Christ, has decided the case against us and has made those sins spiritually white like that snow I saw in my own backyard. I am truly forgiven and free from anything that would condemn me. When the devil and my own mind take me to court...case closed!!

My hand held the hammer that drove the spikes into my Savior's hands. And occasionally I drive them in afresh. Scarlet sins shed innocent crimson blood that Friday. But we know something that those women didn't know. Sunday was coming, and Jesus would rise, so there could truly be hope. Hope in Christ. No condemnation. Sins like scarlet made white as snow. I am free to take my eyes off of myself and fix my eyes on Christ. I may be sick of me, but I'm so in love with Him! That, my dear one, can give me "hesuchazo" rest on this Saturday afternoon.



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Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Tuesday's with Jesus #139

#139 "Come Out of Hiding"
March 18, 2008
""But Lord," Gideon asked, "how can I save Israel? My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my family." The Lord answered, "I will be with you, and you will strike down all the Midianites together."" (Judges 6: 15-16)
Suggested Reading: Judges 6: 1-16
Two explorers were on a jungle safari when suddenly a ferocious lion jumped in front of them. "Keep calm" the first explorer whispered. "Remember what we read in that book on wild animals? If you stand perfectly still and look the lion in the eye, he will turn and run." "Sure," replied his companion. "You've read the book, and I've read the book. But has the lion read the book?"
The Bible tells us that the power of Midian was so oppressive, the Israelites prepared shelters for themselves in mountain clefts, caves and strongholds. (v. 2) What would make these people, the chosen ones of God Himself, the ones who had just conquered every enemy and taken possession of the Promised Land, hide? These were the same people whose ancestors, under Moses, were led with a cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night. They had heard the stories of how manna and quail fell from heaven. Water flowed from rocks to quench thirst. Red Seas and Jordan Rivers had parted. Walls around cities fell down when they marched and shouted. And they were in hiding from yet another strong group of enemies. They were the children of the Promise. They were God's Chosen Ones. They were supposed to be conquerors and now they were hiding in caves and mountain clefts and strongholds. Why?
On this side of the Cross of Christ, we are called "more than conquerors through Him who loved us." (Romans 8: 37) We are told that Christ "always leads us in triumphal procession". (2 Corinthians 2: 14) We are His chosen ones, bought with the price of His shed blood which was not cheap. Saved and sanctified and filled with the Holy Spirit. Yet, so many of us are hiding in the clefts and caves and strongholds that we have built for ourselves. Full of fear, we never enter into the true promise of what is ours in Christ.
Year after year the Midianite cousins of the Israelites (through Abraham's wife Keturah Genesis 25: 1-2) would let them plant and then plow in the winter, but arrive at each harvest time and steal all of their crops and animals. They were an impressive lot, with men and camels, likened to swarms of locusts. They would ruin the land and leave it parched and empty. The Midianites lived up to the meaning of the name "Midian" which means "strife or contention".  Year after year, for seven years, it was the same old story.
What army of invaders seems to be attacking you year after year, leaving your life impoverished and stealing any of your hope that things will get better? Does it seem like your money is going into purses with holes in them? For years you've been trying but just can't seem to get ahead. Midian (strife and contention) attacks your family so that there are only brief times of peace. Maybe you're in a dead end job that is taking you on the fast track to nowhere. Maybe it's depression or discouragement. Somewhere in your life there are "-ites" attacking you year after year after year. And now you're hiding...
The first thing the Israelites did was to cry out to the Lord for help (v. 6). Mind you, this was their pattern. There was a recurring sequence of events in the period of the Judges. It began with sin or rebellion through idolatry or apostasy. This would always be followed by servitude of Israel to foreign peoples due to God's retribution. Each time, the Israelites would then cry out to the Lord, repent, and God would bring salvation through military deliverance and restoration to His favor through a Spirit-empowered judge. Then the land would rest from war. Before long, however, the pattern was repeated. And so it was in Gideon's day. 
With their cry for the Lord's help, came a prophet to tell them what was up. He told them that they had disobeyed the Lord once again, in spite of all He had done for them in the past. The word of the Lord was, "But you have not listened to me" (v. 10). Have you cried out to the Lord in your distress? When the enemy keeps coming in like a flood, day after day, year after year, do you cry out to Him? I'm sure the people didn't like the prophets' answer very much...and maybe you won't either. Ask yourself: Have you listened to the Lord? If not, maybe today is the day to decide to skip some steps in the old sequence. Skip the sin, thereby skipping the enemy oppression. Keep crying to the Lord, repent and enter His restoration and peace. Listen to the word of the Lord that may convict you of your sin and turn from it.
Then...come out of hiding. Gideon was scared to death. Instead of threshing the little bit of wheat that he had on an open threshing floor, he was hiding in a wine-press, below ground, living in dread that the enemy would find him and take what little he had. He wasn't in there pressing wine or stomping on grapes. He was threshing wheat! The Lord appeared to Gideon...fearful, frightened Gideon and said, "The Lord is with you, mighty warrior." Well, that sure did sound like a joke! Mighty warrior? Hiding in a wine-press, trying to be quiet so the enemy wouldn't know where he was or what he was doing. Gideon saw himself as totally not able to be called a mighty warrior. He told the angel that he was from the weakest clan and was the least of his family. "Who Me?"
"God did not give us a spirit of fear, but of power and love and of a sound mind". (2 Timothy 1: 7) Come out of hiding. Replace your fear with faith and find out who you really are in Christ. Stop letting the enemy get the best of you and what belongs to you. Remember the lion story? Look your enemy, who Peter called "like a roaring lion" (1 Peter 5: 8), right square in the eye. He may not have read the book. But you've read THE BOOK! You may feel like so much less than a mighty warrior in the face of your enemy but as one commentator put it, "God calls Gideon valiant then makes him so." The Jewish historian Josephus said that God would supply what was defective in Gideon. This enemy wasn't more powerful than Israel. With God in the midst of them and fighting for them, they could've conquered any enemy. God answered Gideon's doubt by saying, "I will be with you, and you will strike down all the Midianites together." That meant with ease. "Together" would be like dominoes falling all in a row.   
If you're hiding from your enemy today, God will find you there just like He did Gideon. You can't hide from God. Receive His word to you about what your part in your battle is. Receive it and repent. God will call you valiant and victorious and then make you so. He will supply what is defective in you. Remember this? "...my power is made perfect in your weakness." (2 Corinthians 12: 9) Your enemy is no match for your God! With Him in your midst and fighting for you, your enemies will fall like dominoes ahead of you.
I invite you to read the rest of Gideon's story for yourself. He would go on to muster up an army and defeat the Midianites. And he is listed among the great, in the book of Hebrews Hall of Fame, as a mighty man of faith. (Hebrews 11: 32) You are a child of the living God. You are an heir to all of His promises. You have been bought with a price, saved by the precious blood of Jesus Christ and are now righteous in Him and more than a conqueror. It's time for God's people to come out of hiding and fight! We are mighty warriors following our Commander in Chief! And there hasn't been a battle yet that He hasn't won!
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Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Tuesday's with Jesus #138

#138 "When Hope Is Hanging On A Cross"
March 11, 2008
"Many women were there, watching from a distance. They had followed Jesus from Galilee to care for His needs. Among them were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Joses, and the mother of Zebedee's sons." (Matthew 27: 55-56)
The men couldn't be there. They more than likely would be arrested. But if the women didn't interfere, they would be allowed to witness the event. So there they stood. Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Joses, and the mother of Zebedee's sons. Watching the One they had followed, the One they had supported out of their own means and the One who meant everything to them, nailed to a cross. 
Mary Magdalene remembers the day she received her freedom. Jesus freed her from seven demons that possessed her, causing her to do, we don't exactly know what. Christ had set her free and she had followed Him ever since. She just couldn't get over Him. Mary the mother of James and Joses, followed Jesus from Galilee and moved with Him from place to place during His ministry. Her sons were part of His following and maybe she came along at first to be near her boys. But she would soon find out that there was something about this Man. Something she could not resist or ever walk away from. And Salome, the mother of Zebedee's sons ... well ... she had once harbored such high hopes for James and John. And she remembers being so bold...bold enough to ask the Lord for seats in His kingdom, at His right and His left, for her sons. Remembering, Jesus' words to her sent chill bumps from her head to her feet. "You don't know what you are asking. Can you drink the cup I am going to drink?" (Matthew 20: 20-28) She sure didn't get it back then. But could this be what He had meant? Three women stood at a distance and watched their Hope hanging on a cross. 
What do you do when everything that you have hoped for and hoped in, suddenly crumbles right before your eyes? What do you do when life takes a detour straightaway south? You married that man, and sister, he was fine! He was all that and a bag of chips, but now you're looking at a bunch of crumbs. He said all the right things and made all the right promises and after some years of marriage all you have left are the pieces of those same broken vows. You scrimped and saved and invested all of your money in a sure fire business venture, and now the doors have closed and you're in the bankruptcy court. You held that bundle of joy, baby boy, in your arms and dreamed the world for him and now he's on crack or in jail. Maybe you don't even know where he is. You had your short-term goals and long-term goals and your future all mapped out for yourself, and now you're in a hospital bed facing extended times of treatment or you have to put your plans on hold to care for an ailing loved one. We get discouraged and disappointed when our hope is hanging on a cross.
What must those ladies have thought when they heard Jesus say, "It is finished." Again, they wouldn't understand. Eyes wide open, mouths agape, staring back and forth at each other, saying, "What does He mean, it is finished? What do we do now? We gave up our lives for Him and now it's over??? Just like that?" Ever felt that way? Everything you've banked on, trusted in, planned and worked for is finished... just like that. 
Across the centuries, Mary Magdalene is saying to you, "Wait, don't quit..."it is finished" doesn't mean what you think it means! It meant something more wonderful than I could've ever imagined!" You see, Mary thought it was all over but she was the first one that the risen Christ would appear to after His resurrection. The "other Mary" and the mother of the son's of Zebedee are telling you today to hang on. They thought it was over as well. But they were part of the group who went to anoint a dead body and found an empty tomb! The same Greek word, "tetelestai", that Jesus used when He said, "It is finished", is found on papyrus tax receipts and meant "Paid in Full." These same women were in the upper room and were filled with the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. (see Acts 1: 13-14) When it looks like your hope is hanging on a cross ... there's something so much better ahead. Christ knows what He's doing. It may be Friday, but Sunday's on the way!
Christ is so awesome...I can't get over Him! He is so gracious to leave us His Word so that we can pull the curtain back on a scene like this, centuries old, and have Him shine His glorious light on our lives right here in 2008. What He was like over 2000 years ago, He is the same today. He has a plan for your life. You have a purpose for being here, right now, right where you are...for such a time as this. Maybe you thought your life would go one way, but He has a better plan. Trust Him. Believe Him. Things are not always what they seem to be. Instead of being discouraged and disappointed, start eagerly anticipating what is ahead. When you feel like your hope is hanging on a cross, remember this..."do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal." (2 Corinthians 4: 16-18) I'll choose that any day!!
NOTE: I have learned that my 2008 Living the Word Ministries Update didn't reach some e-mailboxes. Please be sure to add updates@livingthewordministries.org to your approved e-mail lists otherwise it may be going to your spam folder. To read the latest update, go to www.livingthewordministries.org and click on the link. There are a few things I'm very excited to share with you.    
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Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Tuesday's with Jesus #137

#137 "Nevertheless"
March 4, 2008
"Abba, Father," He said, "everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Nevertheless not what I will, but what you will." (Mark 14: 36)           
Scripture Passage: www.biblegateway.com
(Adapted from a message I preached at Saturday Bible Study)
On Sunday the crowds cheered. They couldn't get enough of Jesus. Maybe they could see Him do another miracle. Jesus heard their praises, but He knew that in just a few days they would all turn against Him. On Monday, He witnessed the greed and prejudice of the city merchants. So overcome with righteous anger, He took a hand made whip and turned their tables over crying, "My Father's house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations..but you have made it into a den of thieves." The harassment began on Tuesday. His enemies challenged Him on who exactly He thought He was. "On what authority are you doing these things?" Animosity, hatred, and venom began to permeate the air. By the end of the week they would cast their vote to put Him to death. On Wednesday, one of His closest friends, one who knew His heart, His desires and His mission...one who had known His love... agreed to betray Him to His enemies for the price of a common slave...30 pieces of silver.
Thursday night Jesus ate the Passover meal with His disciples. They didn't understand that this would be their last meal together with Him. As Jesus looked around the room, He knew that these men would all be scattered in just a few hours. He knew that Peter, headstrong Peter, would deny Him three times. He looked up to see Judas get up and leave the table. The others didn't understand what was happening. But Jesus knew that in a few hours Judas would return with soldiers and clubs and swords. The eleven didn't get the significance of this night. But Jesus did and it was in this state of mind that He took the eleven and made His way to Gethsemane.
We enter our own Garden of Gethsemane by many routes. We enter through betrayal, loneliness, abuse, divorce, poverty, loss or grief. We enter when our wills collide with the will of God. There are many paths to Gethsemane but I believe we've all been there at one time or another. You may be there right now. Today. This dark night that Jesus spent in the garden can teach us much about our own dark nights...our own personal Gethsemanes.
We know that throughout the earthly life of Christ He often went to solitary places to pray. But on Thursday evening, He didn't want to be alone. He took the eleven with Him to the Mount of Olives as they usually did, but then He pulled aside three of His closest and went further off. We do not need to be alone in our Gethsemane. Jesus knew they were nearby. He knew they were there and He told them to pray. He knew they would go through a horrible time as well and He wanted them to be prepared by praying to the Father. When we are suffering we don't need to take the whole crowd with us. Remember that Jesus left eight of them behind. But it is perfectly proper to take a few trusted friends along with you when you are suffering. Don't try to go it alone. When you're suffering your Gethsemane, take along a friend or two.
Jesus was deeply distressed, sorrowful and troubled. The Greek word that is used for "distressed" pictures men who are struggling in a boat against wind and waves. Have you ever felt like you were in a little dinghy boat trying to stay afloat while the winds and waves of adversity threatened to drown you? That was the feeling that Jesus had that very night. He said, "My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death." Your soul is your mind, your will and your emotions. Every last bit of Christ was overwhelmed. He had not known such trouble in His earthly life thus far. He told the others that it was so bad that it threatened to extinguish His life right there and then. Forget the Cross! He thought that He was going to die right there in that garden. It was that bad!
No matter how excruciating your pain is, no matter how badly you hurt, no matter what you're going through, Jesus Christ knows how it feels. Don't ever say, "Well...He was God". He was fully God, but He was also fully Man. That's hard for us to wrap our minds around, but it's truth just the same. He was in exceeding pain and torment that night in the garden The full impact of what He would suffer hit Him and He staggered under it's weight.
"He fell with His face to the ground and prayed that if possible the hour might pass from Him." Have you ever hurt so badly that you just fell to the ground? Right here, Christ gives us permission to fall to the floor and be honest with God. We can tell Him we're suffering. We can tell Him we're struggling. We can tell Him, honestly, that we really would rather not do what He is telling us to do. Jesus did! In His own personal preference, He would rather not have experienced the pain of death and the horror of having the sins of the whole world put on His shoulders. And He told His Father so. We would often not want to go through what we have to go through. We can tell our Heavenly Father. Jesus did.
Christ would suffer physical pain but He would also suffer the pain of separation from God the Father. For a little while, God the Father would turn His face away from His Son. The One who had been with the Father since before the beginning of time, would be alone for the first time. And Thursday night in the garden was just the beginning. The kiss of a friend, angry crowds, betrayal, rejection and trials were coming. There would be mocking and spitting and scourging to the point that His skin would come off with each blow of the whip, until bone could be seen. Nails in His wrists and ankles and hanging on a Cross still being mocked by the crowds. It wasn't over yet in the garden. It had only just begun. It was enough to drop Jesus to the ground on His face before His Father, the only One who could possibly help Him. Often the pain that we experience in wrestling with submission is just as excruciating as the results of that submission will be.
Three times Jesus asked His "Abba"...His Daddy, to take this cup from Him. Jesus was persistent in prayer. If Peter, James and John had been awake they may have been reminded of the story Messiah had told them about the woman who kept bothering the unjust judge for mercy. Because of her persistence her request was granted. Christ had said that He told them this parable so that they would "always pray and not give up" (see Luke 18: 1-8). But they were asleep. He told them to watch and pray, but they slept instead. Don't sleep when you should be praying.
Maybe if Peter had stayed awake and prayed, He might not have denied Jesus. Maybe if they all would've prayed they would've received strength to endure, and they wouldn't have run like little boys. When you're facing something in your life, draw near to God. He will draw near to you and give you strength to endure well, strength for what lies ahead, and strength for victory.
Thursday night in the garden was the scene of a cosmic battle between Christ's humanity and His deity. The battle between His God-ness and His Man-ness. I believe that angels were perched over the portals of heaven watching. I can feel the evil one lurking, listening and thinking, "What's He gonna do? What's He gonna do?" All of hell sat silent, waiting and watching. Satan probably didn't understand the full scope of what was at stake in that garden, but I'll bet that he knew something was up! He's watching you too, by the way. How the next words that Jesus spoke must have rocked Satan's world! Jesus says, "Nevertheless, not my will but yours be done". Angels cheered and demons screamed in fear. The decision was made.
Way back in Genesis 3: 15, God said that the serpent, Satan, would bruise the heel of Jesus but Jesus would crush the head of the serpent. Jesus would deliver the fatal blow. Satan tries to cripple us but it's not fatal. He may bruise us, but he doesn't crush us. Jesus will always deliver the final blow to Satan. And in Him, In Him, every time we choose to say, "Nevertheless, not my will, but yours be done", we crush the head of our enemy and do tremendous damage to the kingdom of darkness. Demons shudder when we know what God's word says, and what He wants us to do, and even though we don't want to, we say, "Nevertheless". Let's do some damage to the enemy kingdom! Let's crush his head. The prince of this world has been winning for way too long, but the battle is not over. There are too many defeated Christians. It's time for Christians to start winning the battles because we know that one day Christ will win the war!
Doing the will of God isn't always easy. At times it can be excruciatingly painful.  But can we look up and say, "Jesus, I wouldn't do this for anyone else but you, not for anyone or anything but you, but you want me to .. so I will obey. Your will be done?" And in that moment, we crush the enemy's head and get the victory. Hallelujah!
I don't know what it is for you that God is asking you to do or to endure. Maybe He wants you to forgive and be kind to someone who you would much rather slap upside the head. Maybe He's asking you to give up an addiction. Maybe you need to endure a difficult person or situation with a good attitude. Perhaps He wants you to give up your secret sin. I don't know...only you do...but you know that you wouldn't do it for anyone or anything. But can you do it for Jesus? Can you say, "Jesus, I wouldn't do it for anyone else but you...your will be done."
This night was so horrific for Christ that He was sweating with drops of blood falling to the ground. I have yet to see a human suffer like that. Hebrews 12: 4 says, "In your struggle against sin, you have not resisted to the point of shedding blood." This thing...whatever it is in your life, will not kill you. It won't make you sweat blood. It won't be easy, but you will never suffer the way Christ suffered for you...Amen?
When Jesus looked up and saw an angel from Heaven appear to Him, wonder if He thought His deliverance had come. Maybe it was time for them to fly back to heaven and forget the whole thing. Did His Father change His mind? But our text tells us that the angel "strengthened Him." We may not get delivered from our problems. We may not be able to escape what God is telling us to do. We may never see God go back and tell us that we don't have to obey. But in the midst of it all, He will give us the strength that we need to endure. I imagine that the angel came to Jesus with a message. And I imagine that it was the same message that God gave the apostle Paul some time later, when he prayed three times for something to be removed from his life. God said No! But He said, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." (2 Corinthians 12: 7-10) Do you think that maybe He said the same thing to Christ that night? Is He speaking that to you today?
Because of this cataclysmic decision of Christ's to say "Nevertheless", the purposes of God Almighty were fulfilled. If He hadn't submitted and obeyed we would be on our way straight to Hell this very day. Obedience brings about the purposes of God. Jesus became the source of our eternal salvation when He submitted. Look at Hebrews 5: 7-10: "During the days of Jesus' life on earth, He offered up prayers and petitions with loud cries and tears to one who could save Him from death (sound familiar?), and He was heard because of His reverent submission. Although He was a son, He learned obedience from what He suffered and, once made perfect, He became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey Him and was designated by God to be high priest in the order of Melchizedek." It's okay to offer up prayer and petitions with loud cries and tears to God who can save us, but in the end, when the rubber hits the road, it's reverent submission and obedience that gets the purposes of God fulfilled in our lives.
Nothing, I repeat, nothing that you are holding on to is worth it. What you will gain through obedience and submission will be so much greater. Don't let fear of the pain of submission hold you back. When God's purposes come to pass there is nothing sweeter. Don't forfeit your God-ordained destiny holding on to lesser things.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr explained his situation after receiving a phone call threatening him with murder: "My strength was gone. I sat at the kitchen table searching for a way of how to disappear without being considered a coward. In this state of utmost exhaustion and complete discouragement I laid down my need before God. With my head in my hands I prayed aloud, "Lord, I believe that I am fighting for a righteous cause. But now I am afraid. I cannot go any further. I have come to the point where I cannot make it on my own." Almost immediately all my fears were gone. My insecurity disappeared! I was ready to face everything. Fear knocked at the door. Faith answered. Nobody entered." We know what Martin Luther King Jr. went on to do. He prayed and submitted and said that not even fear for his very life, would make him set aside his obedience to the purposes of God for his life. We think that great men and women, who do great things, do not go through anything. Usually the very opposite is true. Every time we are about to walk into God's plan and destiny for our lives, there will be battles to fight and there will be Gethsemane nights.
In John 5: 30 Jesus said, "I seek not to please myself but Him who sent me." In John 6: 38 He said, "I have come down from Heaven not to do my will but to do the will of Him who sent me." And in our passage today, Jesus said, "Nevertheless, not my will, but yours be done."
That same kind of strength that made Martin Luther King Jr. go on...that same kind of strength that made Jesus go on, is available for you today for whatever it is you're going through. Pray, submit, receive His strength, grace, and the power that He will give you to endure. The purposes of God will come to pass in your life. God's good plan for you will come to pass.
Christ's Gethsemane night allowed Him to do this: "I offered my back to those who beat me, my cheeks to those who pulled out my beard; I did not hide my face from mocking and spitting. Because the Sovereign Lord helps me, I will not be disgraced. Therefore have I set my face like flint, and I know that I will not be put to shame. He who vindicates me is near. Who then will bring charges against me? Let us face each other! (I can imagine Jesus hitting His chest) Who is my accuser? Let him confront me! ("Wanna go"?) It is the Sovereign Lord who helps me. Who is he that will condemn me? They will all wear out like a garment; the moths will eat them up." (Isaiah 50: 6-9) What boldness! What strength! What power!
All of that was imparted to Jesus, in that garden, that night. He didn't want to. But He did it anyway, and the big picture is that He did it to please His Father in Heaven, and He did it for you and for me. Our salvation, our forgiveness, our righteousness in Him, our abundant life, our eternity, was settled right there when Christ said, "Nevertheless".
What about you? Don't forfeit your destiny. Set your face like flint. In your Gethsemane...will you say, "I wouldn't do it for anybody else but you...nevertheless, not my will, but yours be done?"
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