if you don’t give 100% it’s something less than sacrificial

Been thinking today about the benefit of hindsight.  As Christians, we all know the outcome of the Crucifixion.  Sometimes perhaps we are a little too familiar rushing through Good Friday so we can get to the joyous celebration of Easter Sunday.

In my Bible reading this morning I read of the four women who stood beside the cross and witnessed his death.  It made me question, how did they feel?  His Mother, his Aunt (had never realised that she was there), as well as friends. They didn’t have the benefit of knowing that Jesus would rise again.  There must have been so much grief and hurt, sadness and pain as they watched Jesus, whom they all loved, murdered in front of their eyes.

John 19:25-27 – Jesus’ mother stood beside his cross with her sister and Mary the wife of Clopas. Mary Magdalene was standing there too.  When Jesus saw his mother and his favourite disciple with her, he said to his mother, “This man is now your son.” Then he said to the disciple, “She is now your mother.” From then on, that disciple took her into his own home.

If I am honest up until this year I don’t think I had a clue what pain and anguish they went through, because I had never experienced the death of a close friend or relative.  Having lost my brother suddenly in January I can relate more closely with some of their emotions.

The final part that really stood out for me was that in his suffering he still was thinking of others as he asked John to look after his Mother.  I think that is symbolic, he was thinking of his Mother, yet he was also thinking of me.  If he hadn’t been focussed on me (or you) then he wouldn’t have gone through with it, what would have been the point?  Right to the end the love of Jesus shone through, his sacrifice was given 100%, he never wavered from the path his Father gave him.

NO HALF MEASURES

Sacrifice, well it’s not really a sacrifice if it doesn’t cost or hurt, if you don’t give 100 per cent it’s something less than sacrificial, what would you get if you gave yourself fully to Jesus?  Just look at how he lived and died, in order to save us he had to give it all, there were no half measures, he didn’t stop after the mocking, he didn’t stop after the beating and even as he carried the cross on which he would hang he didn’t waver from God’s plan, see here’s the thing, we are not called to be like other Christians we are called to be like Jesus, what would happen if you came to Jesus right now just as you are, fall at his feet and allow him to make you complete, what would happen if you immersed yourself in his word, released the burdens you are carrying?  Don’t settle for cheap grace, forgiveness without repentance, God offers acceptance, love and salvation, our roles in this story are about something so much bigger, it just isn’t about you and it’s not about me, it’s about the big picture, Jesus dying on the Cross, Jesus’s sacrificial loss, Jesus rising from the grave to save you, to give you a hope and a future, don’t sell yourself short, don’t accept half measures, say goodbye to every sin cos you are forgiven, our risen Saviour saw to that, now ask yourself, what can I give back?

Supporting you until like a bird you are ready to leave the nest

Picking up your Cross and following Jesus.  Was thinking about this today, not so much what it means but how God empowers us to do this.  I’m giving my testimony in a couple of weeks and as part of that I was reflecting on Jesus being a life changer.  When I think about where I was before I met God and what I had to change to get to where I am now I could not have done it in my own strength.  When Jesus asks us to pick up our cross it’s important to remember that he’s right there behind you taking the weight, you are not doing it alone.

Matthew 16:24 – Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.

MY CROSS

Pick up your cross, pick it up and see how light the burden is now you’ve chosen to follow me, impossible my reality, difficult becoming easy, night becomes day, I say to you if you want to be my disciple you must deny yourself, yet what you may not get is the promise that I will never let you falter, never leave you to struggle with the sacrifices in your life, make no mistake I will never forsake you, so as you put yourself out for me you’ll start to see my lamp as I light your path, start to feel my strength rise up in you as you face the storms head on and win, as you turn from your sins in obedience to me, you’ll feel more free, you’ll see that I am by your side, not just along for the ride but bearing the burden of your sin, transforming you into that new creation, gently supporting you as you find your feet, seated beside you as you sleep, walking beside you every day, taking the weight of the cross away, pick up your cross and follow me, see what I can do for you, see where I will take you, believe that you will soar on wings like an eagle because I have freed you, supporting you until like a bird you are ready to leave the nest, supporting you as a Father who knows what is best, pick up your Cross and follow me, deny yourself to receive.

No longer indifferent to King Jesus

No matter what is happening in the world right now, how people are persecuted for their faith, how people follow money or fame over God, how people live selfish lives at the expense of others, how people mock us for our faith, there is one truth to hold onto.  One day at the name of Jesus EVERY knee will bow.  And OK sometimes that doesn’t make particular situations any easier but it does provide a sure and certain hope for the future.

Not only that though, that truth should also should be a driver for us to evangelise. Do we want anyone to not enjoy our Father’s love because we were silent?  We must be bold in telling others about Jesus so that more bow down now and confess that he is God, so that all may have the opportunity to be saved.

  • Philippians 2:10 – that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth
  • Psalm 95:6 – Come, let us worship and bow down, Let us kneel before the LORD our Maker
  • Romans 14:11 – It is written: “As surely as I live, says the Lord, every knee will bow before Me; every tongue will confess to God.”
  • Revelation 5:13 – And I heard every creature in heaven, and on earth, and under the earth, and in the sea, and all that is in them, saying: “To Him who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb, be praise and honour and glory and power forever and ever.”

BOW DOWN

You hung on a cross and were mocked, people all around oblivious that you were Christ Jesus who will one day return victorious, how things will change on that day when you come again, instead of their mocking all will be dropping to their knees in reverence, no longer indifferent to King Jesus, no longer will they persecute your disciples, banish the Bible, torture your people, for this is a new season, a season where all will have reason to fall on their knees as every eye looks up and sees the Saviour of the world return in victory, I believe that all will hail you Jesus and I will hail my Saviour, Hallelujah Christ returning to claim his throne, he’s coming back for us and as we proclaim his name, King Jesus, every knee will bow, every tongue confess that he is God, creator of the universe, the Lord who came and lived on earth, the Lamb who was slain for us, returning victorious, all praise and glory to his name, all power to the one who reigns supreme in earth and heaven, we worship and adore your name, we bow low, we raise our voices high, we cry out in adoration, we sing in adulation as all the nations in unison will proclaim the amazing glory of your name.

Who decided that God was not relevant to this generation?

Bit of an eye opener this morning as my daily reading turns back to the Old Testament and Judges.  Wow did this speak to me of the world we are living in now.  People not listening to their leaders, people not believing in or obeying God’s commands, everyone doing as they see fit.  And yet God never gives up on his people he goes back time and time again to save them.  Even in this modern time God wants us to be faithful to him and no matter how hard things get he tells us in 1 Corinthians that we can be faithful and obedient to him despite all the worldly temptations, God is with us and will provide us with support in every situation.

  • Judges 2:17 – But the people wouldn’t listen to their leaders. They weren’t faithful to the Lord. They joined themselves to other gods and worshiped them. They didn’t obey the Lord’s commands as their people before them had done. They quickly turned away from the path their people had taken.
  • Judges 21:25 – In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as they saw fit
  • 1 Corinthians 10:13 – No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.

LISTEN UP

Listen up, God is talking to us, take a chance on listening cos we are faltering without him, the world is messed up, confused and our leaders have no clue how to put things right, they switched off the lights long ago when they decided that God was not relevant to this particular generation, when they took God off the curriculum decided it was time to dumb down the word of the Lord for fear of offending all those that heard, it’s time to stop the anarchy if we want to see the victory, we need God, we need his word, it’s absurd to be apologetic, I just don’t get it, I am not apologising for my Saviour so do me a favour listen to this, Jesus died on a cross for this generation, Jesus loves every nation, no favourites, no specials, we are all chosen, adopted by God and however hard it may seem to stand up and be counted, this is our time, our opportunity to stand up in front of all humanity and tell of God’s love, tell of God’s gift, start healing the rifts that are seen in our land, reach out our hands to the sick and the hurting, offer support to the poor and the broken, have you spoken up for God this week, have you stood up on your feet and defended your faith, are you showing others the way to be saved, listen up, God is calling, don’t let him down by failing to answer his call, he calls on us to give our all, to pick up our cross and follow him, to shine our light in this world where the light is so dim.

Handing Jesus to the enemy in order to secure the victory

Was doing my daily reading and this jumped out at me, not sure I’ve read it before but it’s really kind of blunt and to the point.  Jesus did miracles in front of you yet you allowed him to be put to death (all part of God’s amazing plan) so that God could raise him from the dead proving once and for all that Satan is defeated, death is defeated because nothing can keep its hold on God.

Acts 22:22-24 – Fellow Israelites, listen to this: Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs, which God did among you through him, as you yourselves know.  This man was handed over to you by God’s deliberate plan and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men put him to death by nailing him to the cross.  But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him. 

Kind of makes you think that God’s plans are so intricate, so long thought out and so personal that any circumstance you find yourself in is something God can use and will use for his Kingdom, so don’t get deflated or upset if you think things are not going your way, it’s all part of God’s plan, talk to him!!

CREATIVITY

God sent Jesus to live among us, now Jesus was accredited by God to do miracles, events that we cannot explain in a human way, supernatural activity like healing the sick, making blind men see, in fact, if you read the bible you will know the disciples witnessed amazing acts, masterpieces of creativity like turning water into wine, enabling thousands to dine from five loaves and two fishes, making our deepest wishes kind of reality, this man healed many, brought people back from death, yet many who witnessed all this stuff didn’t get it, maybe they were just a bit slow on the uptake but they sure made a mistake, handing him to wicked men who put Jesus to death, but I see that whilst Jesus’s words fell on deaf ears it was God who’d planned it all those years, deliberate, painstaking planning, handing Jesus to the enemy in order to secure the victory, their evil intent used by God to cement his position as King of Kings, his suffering used to bring us freedom, Jesus carried every sin on him when he was nailed to that cross, every sin weighing down heavily, everything you ever did wrong or that you are still yet to do, Jesus carried that all for you, his love surpasses my understanding and here’s the thing, Jesus chose to follow it through, he chose to die for you, he chose to die for me, and I can’t see what I have ever done to deserve the attention of God’s son, to merit his gift of eternal life, to be worthy of his sacrifice, but he chose me, let me say that again slowly, God Chose Me, now that’s a message worth shouting about, check this out, I have a God who chose me, singled me out for his ministry, works tirelessly to set me on a heavenly trajectory, praise God he knows my story and yet he still loves me.

In weakness I said I didn’t know you

When I was out walking yesterday afternoon I was listening to some worship music and it really got my mind thinking about the concept of Jesus as a friend.  That then led to me thinking about how I would feel if a friend of mine was snatched from under my nose by the authorities, condemned to death and that death was a public execution. It kind of puts a different slant on what Jesus did for us, it made me see it from a different angle and I cannot begin to imagine the hurt and the pain of his family and friends who witnessed his death.

Wrote this from Peter’s perspective..

BEST FRIEND

Best friend taken from before my eyes, soldiers came with weapons drawn, manhandled you through the crowd, it was all so loud, so quick, so sudden and I didn’t stop to think of heaven and what this arrest meant to all mankind, I was frightened, this was my teacher, my friend and I couldn’t mend this, I couldn’t stop the rot of humanity stealing my best friend from me, and my heart bleeds as I think of the pain they inflicted, the mocking, the laughing, how they goaded you, but you remained true to your Father in heaven, you never raised a hand in self-defence, you accepted their violence as part of the package of my salvation, we family and friends had to watch in frustration as the soldiers made their preparations, as you walked with the cross your hands were shackled but you could have tackled them there, made your escape, it wasn’t too late, but you knew if you did it would be too late for me, I could never be free if you didn’t see it through, you knew and my pain comes in knowing that you were going to die a death that would hurt, you would hang in the heat of the midday sun, your body ravaged, savaged by those who worked for the enemy, who thought this was the way to change our destiny, but their expectancy was flawed, this was the door to eternity, God’s son a living sacrifice bringing life back to me, it is finished you cried and as I cried and hid my face I was not aware of the grace that God poured out on me in that moment, I was frozen in sadness, shame and regret, I had let them take you, denied you, three times I had denied our friendship, I thought we were joined at the hip and then in weakness I said I didn’t know you, but even that didn’t throw you, you knew, you’d told me before but I was too stubborn to believe your words, words that ring now in my head, rang loud and true now you were dead.  But it wasn’t finished for I witnessed the miracle for myself, Jesus come back to life, Jesus returned from the grave, you came to save us, you came for freedom, so all could enter your heavenly Kingdom and your love overpowered, you forgave me my weakness, overlooked my failings, and I am hailing you as my friend and my King, I shared in your suffering not realising I was witnessing my God and King dying so that I could live, how can I not give my life back to you, how can I not do whatever you ask me to do?

I am a small cog in the mighty works

Have been reading about Rebekah this week, noticed how God used her in an amazing way and as she obediently left her family to marry an unknown stranger she had no idea of the role she was to play, she did not see “the Big Picture”, God’s amazing plan.  Yet she was obedient and by doing so played her role in God’s plan.  Just spoke to me that we also should be prepared to be obedient, we may have no idea why God wants us to do something but we can rest assured that it will be in order to complete his amazing plans that we know nothing of.

Mark 8:34-35 – Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: ‘Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it.

Isaiah 60:22- The least of you will become a thousand, the smallest a mighty nation. I am the Lord; in its time I will do this swiftly

Isaiah 41:13 – For I am the Lord your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you.

WILL YOU GO?

God has a plan, a big picture, the great unknown and I am a small cog in the mighty works, doing my part but not seeing the final result and I’m OK with not knowing because I am growing in God daily and know that anything he asks me to do will come out OK, God says his plans are to prosper me and not to harm me, God himself takes hold of my right hand to calm me, pick up your cross and follow me so I venture into the unknown, throw myself into serving my God knowing when the time is right he will make it happen, pave the way for me to serve, keeping my nerve and trusting my God, faithfully keeping my eyes on his word, praying for wisdom and revelation, resisting temptation to go my own way, learning to say yes when God asks me to go, tuning in to his wavelength and developing strength of character to recognise the lies of the predator, to stop living a secular life, embrace God’s sacrifice and live a life of obedience, praising and praying, serving, obeying, playing my part in God’s mighty plan.