good

I have had more than a few conversations with people about destiny.  No, not what you think the future holds for you in a way of career and family, but what eternity holds.  What happens to you when you die?  Most people have told me they believe in heaven.  Then I ask the million dollar question…. How do you know that is where you are going?  Most common answer. “I am a good person”.

Is this how we get to heaven? Do we need to be “good people”?  How do we know what “good” is?  Do I use our own standard of “good”?  Do I use someone else’s standard of “good”?  Or do I use God’s standard of “good”?

Some will use their own standard of “good”.  I recently heard a Tim Keller sermon in which he made the point that if someone uses their own standard of good and took a tape recorder and put it around their neck, then at the end of the day played back everything they said, they could not even live up to their own standard of “good”.  I agree.  I know me and know I couldn’t do it.

So let’s look briefly at someone else’s standard.  If I can’t live up to mine how can I live up to theirs?  Unless theirs is so low that they allow me to live how I want.  This may be so they can live without the guilt of not living up to their own standard.

Now let’s look at God’s standard.  How do we know God’s standard for good?  We have His Word.  We have the bible.  We have in the bible the commandments given to Moses.  I will not list them but I will test myself against a few to see if I live up to the standards God’s wants me to live by.

Have I ever taken the Lord’s name in vain? Have I used it as a curse? Yes! One commandment broken.

Have I ever dishonored my parents?  Yes!  Strike two!

Have I ever taken something that wasn’t mine?  Maybe even something small like a pencil?  Yes!  Strike three!

Have I ever been angry with someone and not forgiven them?  Yes!  Jesus says this is like committing murder in your heart. Strike four!

“You have heard that the ancients were told, ‘You shall not commit murder’ and ‘Whoever commits murder shall be liable to the court.’ But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be guilty before the court; and whoever says to his brother, ‘You good-for-nothing,’ shall be guilty before the supreme court; and whoever says, ‘You fool,’ shall be guilty enough to go into the fiery hell.  Matthew 5:21-22

Have I ever looked at a women with lust?  Yes!  Jesus says if you look at a women with lust you have committed adultery in your heart.  Strike five!

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery’; but I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart. Matthew 5:27-28

Let’s stop at five.  I can keep going because I have broken them all.  There is no one who hasn’t.

as it is written, “THERE IS NONE RIGHTEOUS, NOT EVEN ONE; Romans 3:10

for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, Romans 3:23

So what does this mean?  We can’t live up to our own standards.  We sure can’t live to God’s standards.  He will judge us.  If God is just, He will give us what we deserve.  He will not weigh the good we have done against the bad.  That would not be just.  That would be like if a person commits murder and goes to the judge and says “judge, look at all the good I did.  It must outweigh the bad.”  Would he be a just judge to let the murderer go? 

 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.  Romans 6:23

Here is the GOOD NEWS!!  Here is the GOSPEL!!!  We have someone who took our punishment for us.  God sees our sins and says “guilty”.  My punishment is death.  But, God came down and became a man in the form of Jesus.  He was fully man and fully God.  He lived that perfect life that God commands.  He was tempted as we are tempted.  He did not sin.  Then He took a sinners punishment being whipped with a cat of nine tales being lashed to the bone.  He was spit on and mocked made to wear a crown of thorns.  He took my cross up Cavalry and had nails driven into His wrists and His feet and before He died said “It is finished.”  He atoned for our sins.  Now we can repent and put our faith in Him for our forgiveness.  We no longer have to be slaves to sin.  We can be free as slaves to Jesus Christ.

but god

I do not write this to make you feel bad.  I do not write this to lift myself up in self righteousness. I struggle with sin everyday!  I am not perfect but I am being made perfect through Jesus Christ.  I am a wretched sinner in need of the Savior.  My hope is that you think about these things: “Am I good?  By what standard? Can I live up to God’s standard on my own?  Why did Jesus die?  Can I put my faith in Him for taking my punishment and repent?  Can I pick up my cross and follow Jesus? 

I know this is a popular Scripture but it is truth.

“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.  John 3:16

My prayer is always that you are “whoever”.

For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. Ephesians 2:8-9

Saved by grace alone, through faith alone, through Christ alone, by God alone.

running_joints_1209

Everyday is a gift.  I know this is a cliché but it is true.  Even if that day you have been given is a rainy one.  It is a gift.  The air we breathe we take for granted.  The water, the food, the clothing, the shelter are all gifts.  This is what allows life to continue.  What happens in that life may not feel like a gift.  You may feel your life is terrible.  Maybe even unlivable.  Maybe you are jobless, friends less, or homeless.  Maybe the life you were  living suddenly changes because you lost a loved one to death or they left you.  Maybe you get up everyday and go to a job you don’t like going to.  Maybe there is some “dream” you want to be living.

There are a few ways you can look at those situations.  Some say life is what you make it.  If you want to go after your dream just go get it.   You can do this but be careful.  Make sure going after your dream doesn’t negatively affect others you love. Even before that, make sure going after your dream doesn’t negatively affect your relationship with God.  This should be first before you go after that dream.

For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul?  Mark 8:36

Go to any book store and you will see a huge self-help section.  There will be many books about improving yourself.  There will be many books about how to succeed in business, health, and life overall.  There may even be a few of these books in the religious section teaching you how to live your best life now.  But what good is any of this if you lose your soul?  What good is any of it if you don’t have a relationship with God?  What good is any of it if you don’t know Jesus?

That which has been is that which will be,
And that which has been done is that which will be done.
So there is nothing new under the sun. Ecclesiastes 1:9

Godsunrise

I was one of those people with ambitions to be successful in business.  I was chasing that American dream.  Mean while things in my life weren’t firing on all cylinders.  More than that, I didn’t know Jesus.  I was truly just doing my own thing.  I was just after making me happy and serving myself.  I was my own god.

I see this as a common occurrence in the world.  People are chasing success.  Again, there is nothing wrong with going after your vision, but your why is what is important.  Are you chasing that dream to say you did it?  Are you chasing that dream because the world says you have to leave that type of legacy for your life to mean something?  Are you chasing that dream because it is now your identity?

I chased it for these reasons.  But if I would achieve what the world sees as success what would I really have?  What would I really have if I didn’t know Jesus?  In the end I would still end up dead.  I may end up with a bunch of money to hand down, but I would still be dead.  If I was to live my entire life successfully, as the world sees it, and not know Jesus, I would end up dead and forever separated from God.  I would have lived for nothing.  All would be in vain.

But all of that changes when you know Jesus.  Your heart changes.  Your thirst for the things of this world will be quenched.  He gives you living water that is so much better than the water of the world.

Jesus answered and said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will thirst again; but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never thirst; but the water that I will give him will become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life.” John 4:13-14

When you know Jesus you will have eternal life.  Will that make your life easy?  No!  It may make it harder.  Following Jesus is not the easy road, but it is the road that leads to life.  It leads to an abundant life.  Not with the things of the world that are perishable, but with the things of heaven.

 I am the door; if anyone enters through Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly. John 10:9-11

My prayer is that if you don’t know Jesus, He begins to work in your heart.  I pray you know that He came down to earth

to take our punishment for our

sins.  We deserve death, but He took our death on the cross and gave us life. 

I pray you repent and put your faith in Jesus and live the life He gives. 

I pray that if you know Jesus that you are living for Him and not chasing your own god. 

I pray you aren’t thirsting for the water of this world but that you

share the water of Jesus Christ by sharing His gospel.  From there what you do is not what defines you. 

Jesus Christ defines you. 

The conclusion, when all has been heard, is: fear God and keep His commandments, because this applies to every person. For God will bring every act to judgment, everything which is hidden, whether it is good or evil.  Ecclesiastes 12:13-14

Get in His Word!  Stay in His Word! 

i-believe

When I say I believe in Jesus Christ it is not a belief like when you’re a kid and you believe in Santa, the Easter Bunny, or the Tooth Fairy. When I say I believe it is like when someone says they believe in themselves to accomplish a goal. Or like when you tell someone you believe in them accomplishing their goals.  Better yet, when you believe in someone to provide for your well-being.  My belief in Jesus Christ isn’t about His existence.  I already know Jesus is real from Holy Scripture and personal experience. My belief is in what He has done and the promise of what it means.

I believe in Jesus Christ in His life.  He lived a perfect life that I can never live.  In this perfect life He was tempted in every way that I am.

For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. Hebrews 4:15

He lived as a human and did not fall as I do.  He was the perfect lamb.

I believe in Jesus Christ in His death and work on the cross.  He was beaten and humiliated.  He was nailed to a cross through His wrists and feet.  He was piecered through His side and was a bloody mess.  This is the death that I deserve.

But He was pierced through for our transgressions,
He was crushed for our iniquities;
The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him,
And by His scourging we are healed. Isaiah 53:5

I believe in Jesus Christ in His resurrection.  He was dead for three days then came back. Not just spirit, but His entire being, body and all was raised.  In this I have eternal life.  In this I have the promise of resurrection.

But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they came to the tomb bringing the spices which they had prepared. And they found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. While they were perplexed about this, behold, two men suddenly stood near them in dazzling clothing; and as the women were terrified and bowed their faces to the ground, the men said to them, “Why do you seek the living One among the dead? He is not here, but He has risen. Remember how He spoke to you while He was still in Galilee, saying that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again.”  Luke 24:1-7

Jesus Christ is not a fictional character in whose existence I believe.  I already know He exists.  I believe in His life, death, and resurrection for my salvation.  C.S. Lewis said, “I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen: not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.”  This is how I also believe. I see everything by Jesus Christ.  He has given me faith.  This faith is also not a blind faith.  It is faith in what is real.  It is faith in Who is real.  It is faith in what Holy Scripture says.

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. Hebrews 11:1

I put all my trust in Jesus Christ. He changed my heart. He opened my eyes. No more walking in darkness. His promise is true. Believe in Him and walk in the light of salvation.  Jesus Christ is all.  He is enough.

And Jesus cried out and said, “He who believes in Me, does not believe in Me but in Him who sent Me. He who sees Me sees the One who sent Me. I have come as Light into the world, so that everyone who believes in Me will not remain in darkness.  John 12:44-46

I encourage you to get a Bible.  Read these passages I have shared.  If you don’t have one I will send one to you.

My prayer is for Jesus Christ to work in your heart.  I pray for Him to open your eyes.

I am nobody special.  I am just a sinner who has been saved by the grace of God through the perfect life, bloody death, and amazing resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ.

For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; Ephesians 2:8

I pray He saves you.

morningsun

cloudsSky

Life is short. You don’t know what tomorrow holds.  You don’t know if tomorrow holds anything at all.  You may wake up.  You may not wake up. If you are blessed to wake, what will you do with the time you are given?  What will you live for?  Will you take advantage of the time or will you let it take advantage of you?  If you knew today was your last what will you do with it?  Will you spend it having fun?  Will you spend it living out the stupid acronym that was popular a few years ago YOLO?  Or would you use your last day sacrificially?  Would you give all you are?  Would you do what you think will help people the most?  This life is short.  I pray you come to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.  He offers everlasting life.

For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God;  not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.  Ephesians 2:8-9

I live today to tell you about Jesus Christ because I love you too much not to. I believe the most important thing I can do is tell you about Jesus Christ.  I need to tell you what He did for us on the cross.  I need to tell you that I am a sinner and so are you.  I need to tell you God loves you and became a man and died the worst death because we are sinners.  I need to tell you this because your sin, my sin, deserves to be punished.  I need to tell you that God, who loves, is also just and will carry out the judgment, wrath, and the punishment we desever if we don’t come to the saving knowledge of His Son Jesus Christ who took that wrath for us.

For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.  Romans 6:23

These are tough words.  DEATH and WRATH!  But it is justice.  Think of the most horrible crime imaginable.  Think of this crime being commited against you.  Maybe it is theft, murder, rape, torture, or worse.  Should that person be punished for their crime?  Should that person receive justice?  Should that person be judged and sentenced to the full extent of the law? What if you are the theif or the murderer?  I know you might be saying “I may have only taken something small, or told a little lie, but I never murdered.”  Jesus said:

“You have heard that the ancients were told, ‘You shall not commit murder’ and ‘Whoever commits murder shall be liable to the court.’ But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be guilty before the court; and whoever says to his brother, ‘You good-for-nothing,’ shall be guilty before the supreme court; and whoever says, ‘You fool,’ shall be guilty enough to go into the fiery hell.  Matthew 5:21-22

Jesus is saying holding ill will, hate, and anger for another in your heart is as bad as murder.  I am guilty of that.  This is a crime commited against God.  The justice we want for a crime against us is the justice God has to carry for our sins against Him.  We deserve to die for our sins.  Not just the big ones, but all of them.  This is because God is just.  God is holy.  Any sin we commit deserves to be punished by a holy and just God.  The fact is all sins are against God.

We are all doomed!

No!  While God is just He also shows amazing grace.  God provided a way.  He provided the Way, Truth, and Life.  He provided the wages for our sins.  He provided Jesus.  We need to repent and put our trust in Him.

From that time Jesus began to preach and say, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”  Matthew 4:17

Repenting is turning away from our sins.  When you know Jesus is your savior you see your sin for what it is.  He will give you the power to turn.  You my have tried to do it on your own.  Let Him lead you.  Let Him sanctify you.

But we should always give thanks to God for you, brethren beloved by the Lord, because God has chosen you from the beginning for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and faith in the truth. 2 Thessalonians 2:13

The Truth is Jesus, who was from the beginning. May you know the Truth.  May He work in your heart.  May you come to saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.  May you be freed from your slavery to sin.  May you meet and follow Jesus.

This world is temporary, but then comes eternity.

while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal. 2 Corinthians 4:18

I pray you repent and put your trust in Jesus Christ. 

bloodforyou


good news

The bad news first.  I am a sinner.  I am a liar. I am a thief. I have pretty much broken all Ten Commandments.  I am doomed! I am a sinner!

How did this happen? How am I this bad? Is there hope?  Where is the good news??

You see, along came a serpent that asked a simple question, “Did God really say?” And then he replied to the answer “that is because you will be like Him.” Often this continues to be what plays out when we sin. The question gets asked and then we choose to try to be our own God. Our sin separates us from God because He is so Holy. But He gives us a way to be next to Him.

In the Old Testament God kept coming for His people. He chose a nation for Himself to make holy. Through this nation a redeemer would come to the world. Even though this nation kept disobeying, God kept saving them. He chose Moses to lead the Israelites out of captivity in Egypt. He did not give them a law to obey before he rescued them. He saved them from the rule of Pharaoh then He gave the law. The order of redemption is Salvation, Obedience, and Blessing. This is a theme throughout the Bible.

Knowing that the law couldn’t be kept God allowed animal sacrifice to atone for sins. The penalty of sin is death. Blood is the source of life. It must be spilled to atone for sin. A sacrificial system was laid out by God, but it pointed to something greater.

For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 6:23

As time went on Israel kept falling. The whole time this was going on God kept pointing to one moment in history. The Holy Spirit led some to prophecy about it hundreds of years before it happened.

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Isaiah 9:6

Behold my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen, in whom my soul delights; I have put my Spirit upon him; he will bring forth justice to the nations. He will not cry aloud or lift up his voice, or make it heard in the street; a bruised reed he will not break, and a faintly burning wick he will not quench; he will faithfully bring forth justice. He will not grow faint or be discouraged till he has established justice in the earth; and the coastlands wait for his law. Thus says God, the Lord, who created the heavens and stretched them out, who spread out the earth and what comes from it, who gives breath to the people on it and spirit to those who walk in it: “I am the Lord; I have called you in righteousness; I will take you by the hand and keep you; I will give you as a covenant for the people, a light for the nations, to open the eyes that are blind, to bring out the prisoners from the dungeon, from the prison those who sit in darkness. I am the Lord; that is my name; my glory I give to no other, nor my praise to carved idols. Behold, the former things have come to pass, and new things I now declare; before they spring forth I tell you of them.” Isaiah 42:1-9

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, from the words of my groaning? O my God, I cry by day, but you do not answer, and by night, but I find no rest. Yet you are holy, enthroned on the praises of Israel. In you our fathers trusted; they trusted, and you delivered them. To you they cried and were rescued; in you they trusted and were not put to shame. But I am a worm and not a man, scorned by mankind and despised by the people. All who see me mock me; they make mouths at me; they wag their heads; “He trusts in the Lord; let him deliver him; let him rescue him, for he delights in him!” Yet you are he who took me from the womb; you made me trust you at my mother’s breasts. On you was I cast from my birth, and from my mother’s womb you have been my God. Be not far from me, for trouble is near, and there is none to help. Many bulls encompass me; strong bulls of Bashan surround me; they open wide their mouths at me, like a ravening and roaring lion. I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint; my heart is like wax; it is melted within my breast; my strength is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue sticks to my jaws; you lay me in the dust of death. For dogs encompass me; a company of evildoers encircles me; they have pierced my hands and feet— I can count all my bones— they stare and gloat over me; they divide my garments among them, and for my clothing they cast lots. Psalm 22:1-18

These are just a few examples of the many. God has always been pointing to His plan to redeem. This wasn’t just for Israel. His plan is for all the nations. He gave us His only begotten Son. He came and did what the law could not do. He came and did what sacrificing lambs and goats could not do. He is the perfect Lamb. He is the scapegoat.

But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed. Isaiah 53:5

God, knowing that we couldn’t keep the law, came down to us and became a man. He kept the law His entire life, being tempted as we are tempted, feeling the same suffering we do, yet He did not fall.

For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Hebrews 4:15

He lived a perfect life without blemish. He did so knowing the pain of the cross was His main mission. He did so amongst many who hated Him. Many spit on him. Many thought He was just crazy. Yet He lived a life of perfection rooted in the Word and abiding in the Holy Father.

Then comes the humiliation. The scourging. The Cross. His death was the worst in history. The beating and the scourging took Him inches away from death. Then He had to carry His cross with a crown of thorns placed on His head.  Then they nailed Him to the cross.  Nails through His wrists and feet and the He was raised up to hang there suffocating.

On the cross came His Words:

And Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” And they cast lots to divide his garments.  Luke 23:34

And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” that is, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Matthew 27:46

When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, “It is finished,” and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit. John 19:30

crossnail

His blood is the blood of the perfect Lamb. It was spilled to cover sins. Every sin committed and yet to be committed.  His sacrifice is what the old system pointed to yet could not fulfill.

For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. 2 Corinthian 5:21

This took place for whosoever believes in Him. He suffered the worst death one could suffer so our sins can be forgiven. He suffered the worst death one could suffer so whosoever believes can have eternal life.

This is Good News!

It doesn’t end here. After this happened Jesus was in the tomb for three days and three nights.

For just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. Matthew 12:40

Then He rose. Not just spirit, but bodily. This is Good News! This is the resurrection. This is what Sunday is all about. He has risen! Risen indeed! Now we have an advocate with God.  Now we share in His resurrection.  Now we are free from the slavery of sin.  Now death has been defeated.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,   1 Peter 1:3

But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. Ephesians 2:4-7

I pray you believe.

but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8

For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 6:23

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. John 14:6

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. John 3:16-17

Holy Father, You are almighty God. You set heaven and earth in place. You make all possible. I pray that the readers of this believe in Your Son. I pray they are “whoever”. Lord, work in their hearts. There is nothing we can do. You have done it all. Others say “do, do, do,” you have said “it is finished.” Holy Spirit, work in hearts to take out hearts of stone and make them flesh. Let us put our faith in Christ Who died the worst death, taking on the sins of the world, so whoever believes and repents can be forgiven. Thank You so much for Your Son, giving us forgiveness, a way to turn from sin with a hearts of repentance, and eternal life with You. Thank You for giving us the Holy Spirit to work in us and through us. Thank You for Your Word to show us the reflection of who we are and the way to know Who You are. May we always find You there.  I pray all of this according to Your will being done on earth as it is in Heaven. I pray all of this in the Name above all names. In the only Name that saves. I pray in the Name of my Lord, Savior, Healer, Sanctifier, coming King, Yessuah AhMessiach, Jesus Christ. Amen

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.  Ephesians 1:3-10

emptycross

THIS IS GOOD NEWS!!

avictory

Have you ever loved someone so much you would do anything for them?  Have you loved someone so much you would risk getting hurt for them?  Have you loved someone so much that you would give it all for them?  Have you ever loved someone so much that you would go to battle and die just to win that battle for them?  Have you been willing to give everything you have because you believe the one you love is worth more than you are?

Many warriors fight for these reasons.  They go to war for their country, friends, family, and other loved ones.  They are willing to go into battle and risk their lives for loved ones.  Losing limbs or life is worth it to them.  Conquering the enemy to free loved ones says the loved ones more important than their own life.

When warriors come back home from war their entire family is victorious.  Even those who did not fight on the front lines share in the victory.  The mighty warriors defeated the enemy and now the family has them home.  While the warrior was fighting, the family may have been fighting battles at home.  Living while that loved one is away at war is tough.  Many challenges arise, but through the warriors bravery, the family battles on because they know how important they are to the warrior.  Sadly, sometimes that warrior doesn’t return.  He dies in battle while conquering.  He conquerors for them and the family is still victorious through the mighty warrior.

daddyhome

What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can beagainst us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written,  “For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”  Romans 8:31-36

The warrior loves for the people he fights for.  He gives all of himself.  This is what God did for us.  He gave himself.  He took our place because He loves us. We conquer because He conquered.  Because Jesus overcame we overcome.  Because Jesus defeated death, we have eternal life.  But there is more to it than just a victory.

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.  Romans 8:37

We don’t just conquer because of Him.  We are more than conquerors.  We are seen by Him as more.  We are so loved by God that He became a man and was tempted as we are tempted. We are so loved by God that we are worth dying for.  We are so loved by God that we are worth suffering the worst torture and death in the history of the world.  We are so loved by God that He suffered all of this and still is the victor and our Savior.  We are so loved by God that, once we believe on Jesus Christ, nothing can take Him away.

For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:38-39

hand

When you are a warrior you fight not just for yourself, you fight for who you love. When you are a warrior you fight with passion for someone more than you.  You conquer for those who are more than conquerors.  Jesus conquered the grave for us because we are more than conquerors through Him.

Do you believe you are more than a conqueror?  Do you know Jesus?  Is He your Savior?

If He isn’t, He can be.  If you think there is more to this world than what we see, pray for Him to show you.  If you are asking, the Holy Spirit is already be at work in your heart.  He will show you.

If you feel you don’t deserve the love of someone who died for you, you don’t.   It is by grace Jesus forgives.  It is why He died.  He said “It is finished”.  He conquered not for the perfect, but for the broken.  He conquered for me, the biggest of all sinners.  And if he conquered for me, He definitely conquered for you.

but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.  Romans 5:8

If you feel like you have done too much wrong to deserve forgiveness, you haven’t.  It is not about doing or deserving.  But we can turn to Him.  He died knowing what I have done.  He felt what I have done.   It was nailed with Him to the cross.  Now I am no longer a slave to sin, but I am free as a slave to Christ.  You can be too.  You can be “whoever”.  I pray you are.

For God so loved the world,that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. John 3:16-17

You can be more than a conqueror.

dspotting

I am a personal fitness trainer and strength coach.  Clients come to my gym to lose weight and get stronger.  Some may think it will happen just by coming in.  Some may think they will get results by doing just enough.  Some may think there is some magic trick that only the trainers know.  These people often don’t last long.  They don’t understand that in order to get stronger you have to lift things that you haven’t lifted before.  In order to get results you have to be challenged.  Many trainers have used this great saying “if it doesn’t challenge you it doesn’t change you.”  So in order to get stronger you need to lift heavier weights. I look at faith in a similar way.  If there are not challenges in your life how can your faith grow? How can your faith increase?  If things continue on in a nice status quo manner is anything making you stronger spiritually?

So we pray for our faith to be increased.  This is one of the best things to pray for.  Just be ready and understand what that may mean.  Understand that in order to increase your faith, it may be challenged.  This should not discourage you from praying that prayer. In fact, let it encourage you knowing that Jesus will be with you every step of the way.

“These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

I wrote a post a few months ago about faith being a gift from God.  For Him to increase our faith is a huge gift. It comes with many blessings.  But like I stated, it may come with trials.  Persevering through those trials is what we need to do .

Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. James 1:2-3

The enemy will try to attack. He will come at you and tell you to give up.  He will come and tell you to run away from your faith and not to trust anyone.  He will show you the dangers that having faith will bring.  But much like lifting a heavy weight and being under the barbell when you are on the bench, you know when you lift that weight you will become stronger. You know that you have a spotter, a coach, a Lord and Savior named Jesus Christ, who will be with you as you press that bar of trial off of your chest and high to the sky.  Then you pray for more faith and put some more weight on that bar.

Remember this too, Jesus won’t give you what you can already handle.  No! He is looking to get you stronger. Prepare for more than you think you will get.  Why? Because He is there with you.

Let’s take a look at Peter. Here is a man who was out fishing.  Jesus said to him “follow me” and He did.  Throughout each Gospel story Peter is asking many questions.  Even after just following Him without asking why at that moment.  Even after walking on water.  When Jesus asked the Apostles who they thought He was, Peter gave an answer.

He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” And Jesus said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Barjona, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it.  Matthew 16:15-18 peter

This answer that Peter gave was of faith.  Jesus even told Him this faith was given to him by God and not man.  He then called him a rock and said on this confession of Him as the Christ the church will be built.

Something I find interesting about Peter was even after these miraculous things, his faith was tested even more.  Tested to the point of him denying to know Jesus even after he told Jesus he would not.  Even after this Jesus still loved him.   He was not done with him.

But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going before you to Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you. Mark 16:7

Peter went on to do many great things in the face of persecution.  He preached, healed, raised to life, all by the power of the Holy Spirit.  Everyday his faith must have been challenged and everyday his faith must have grown.  In fact he wrote:

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you,  who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.  In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ; and though you have not seen Him, you love Him, and though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, obtaining as the outcome of your faith the salvation of your souls.  1 Peter  1:3-9

I can pick several people in scripture who faced trials and tribulation, all the while their faith increased.  God could have just left them alone.  He could have turned His face from them.  He can turn His face from us.  But He loved them and loves us.  He blessed them and he blesses us.  He sent His Son to die on the cross just so we can be with Him.  We are sinners who deserve death but we get life, freedom, grace, mercy, love, and faith.

There are many promises in the bible.  One way I know it is true is because we are promised tribulation.  We see that everyday.  But we also see hope.  We believe in hope because after three days in the grave our Savior rose from the dead. He is alive and in every believer.  He can raise our broken spirits back from the dead.  He can raise our broken relationships back from the dead.  He will leave the 99 sheep to get the one. He will welcome you home meeting you on the road as He sees you in the distance.

joespot

Your faith may be under the bar right now.  The weight may be more than you can handle.  Stop trying to lift that bar alone.  Those hand that are helping you lift it have wrists that have been pierced so you can know you are not alone under that bar.  I might have a day where I miss the spot and the bar crushes you.  Man will fail.  God will not.  Sometimes He will just spot you with 2 fingers instead of pulling the bar off quick.

benchspot

I pray that if you are reading this and don’t know the Savior I speak of, that you desire to know Him.  I pray He is at work in your heart right now.  I pray that you get on your knees and talk to God.  Ask Him to show Himself to you.  Tell Him what you are feeling.  Tell Him what you want.  Ask Him to give you faith, and if you have it, ask Him to increase it.  If you are under the heavy barbell press hard.  Jesus is with you. A funny thing about faith, it really doesn’t take much for miracles to happen.

The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!” And the Lord said, “If you had faith like a mustard seed, you would say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and be planted in the sea’; and it would obey you.  Luke 17:5-6

increase faith