Tag Archives: cross

When surrender was Victory

Picture what it must have been like for Jesus’s disciples.

Standing in the Garden of Gethsemane, watching Judas Iscariot lead an entire detachment of soldiers towards them.

The noise of many feet, the sound of the armor, and the cold dread which must have clung to the hearts of these men, who loved Jesus so much.

Then, all eyes focused on Jesus, as he walked towards this dangerous crowd.

Jesus therefore, knowing all things that would come upon Him, went forward and said to them, “Whom are you seeking?”
John 18:4 NKJV

Adrenaline had to be coursing through the veins of every man, for all present, save one, seemed to anticipate a fight.

They answered Him, “Jesus of Nazareth.” Jesus said to them, “I am He.” And Judas, who betrayed Him, also stood with them. Now when He said to them, “I am He,” they drew back and fell to the ground.
John 18:5‭-‬6 NKJV

Can you hear the sound of these men falling to the ground and then quickly, awkwardly standing again?

Can you imagine the wonder at what the disciples just witnessed, they had seen a great many miracles, but never had such a circumstance occurred before.

Every nerve must have been tingling, what could possibly be coming next.

Then He asked them again, “Whom are you seeking?” And they said, “Jesus of Nazareth.” Jesus answered, “I have told you that I am He. Therefore, if you seek Me, let these go their way,” that the saying might be fulfilled which He spoke, “Of those whom You gave Me I have lost none.”
John 18:7‭-‬9 NKJV

Was the handle of Peter’s sword already within his grip as he, with astonishment, listened to the words of Jesus?

Obviously, surrender wasn’t what Peter had expected, nor was he willing to quietly move aside and let this mob take his Lord.

Then Simon Peter, having a sword, drew it and struck the high priest’s servant, and cut off his right ear. The servant’s name was Malchus.
John 18:10 NKJV

To completely clarify that He was doing the will of His Father, Jesus spoke.

But Jesus said to him, “Put your sword in its place, for all who take the sword will perish by the sword. Or do you think that I cannot now pray to My Father, and He will provide Me with more than twelve legions of angels? How then could the Scriptures be fulfilled, that it must happen thus?”
Matthew 26:52‭-‬54 NKJV

God loves us so much that He didn’t want any to perish, and this was the way of salvation.

Jesus surrendered to torture and death that He might have victory over sin and eternal death.

“A sinless Man in an appointed garden was about to do battle with Satan’s representative (Luke 22:3). The first time this happened, the sinless man failed. The Second Adam would not fail.” David Guzik

Jesus also knew that this time the cunning lies of the enemy would lead to His death, but it would turn the tables on Satan, making it possible to free mankind from the sin Satan tricked us into at the beginning.

Although, the disciples couldn’t grasp these truths at the moment in the garden, they understood completely when Jesus rose from the dead and the Holy Spirit was given.

Acts 2:14 KJV — But Peter, standing up with the eleven, lifted up his voice, and said unto them, Ye men of Judaea, and all ye that dwell at Jerusalem, be this known unto you, and hearken to my words:

Acts 2:22-24 KJV Ye men of Israel, hear these words; Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know: :23 Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain: 24 Whom God hath raised up, having loosed the pains of death: because it was not possible that he should be holden of it.

Acts 2:36 KJV — Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ.

Acts 2:37 KJV — Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do?

Acts 2:38 KJV — Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.

The truth of Jesus’s surrender and sacrifice is as life changing today as it was more than two thousand years ago.

It is the single most important choice anyone can ever make.

For those who chose to surrender themselves to Jesus, it is a continual decision, made daily to live in surrender to our Lord, for He Himself said we are to take up our cross and follow Him.

Luke 9:23 KJV — And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.

Dear Lord Jesus,

Thank You for Your Word. Thank You for Your love and encouragement. Thank You for teaching us through Your sacrifice how to live in surrender to You. Lord, I love that it wasn’t a circumstance of You having no choice, You could have easily defeated ten times the number of people who came against You. Instead, it was Your gift to us. Your blood cleanses us from sin and Your sacrifice closed the gap between us and eternal life with You in Heaven. Thank You! I simply can’t put into words the depth of my gratitude for Your amazing sacrifice. Thank You, Jesus. Thank You. Amen.

A symbol of Christmas

Isaiah 9:6 KJV — For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.

“As you think of Christmas, let me encourage you to think of a cross.” Pastor Chuck Swindol

Pastor Swindol went on to explain how the horizontal beam of the cross is the line “a child is born” and the vertical beam of the cross is “a son is given”.

God chose a human to bare His own Son, as He came from Heaven to Earth.

Who would have thought a baby would be the answer for mankind’s desperate need of a Savior?

Only God could weave such an incredible story.

Even Jesus’s disciples did not expect the cross, but God knew the way to conquer sin was to sacrifice His Son.

As weighty as the sins of all mankind were, they had no power over Jesus Christ, for His death on the cross was actually a victory which was clearly displayed when Jesus rose from the dead.

A symbol of Christmas is a cross, for it was as much a part of Jesus’s miraculous life as His birth.

The light of salvation shines through Jesus, for He is the light of the world.

May our Redeemer be reflected in our lives this day.

Dear Lord Jesus,

Thank You for Your incredible gift. Lord, during this Christmas season please help us to live as You did, to love as You do, and to rely completely upon You. Lord, please help us to keep our focus upon Your blessed gift of redemption. Please help us to freely give the gifts You’ve given us: forgiveness, joy, compassion, understanding, and truth. Lord, please help us to be faithful in doing good, looking for the opportunities You provide to share the truth of Your birth. Lord, please keep us from growing bitter, hardened to those around us. Instead, please remind us that You died to save the lost. Thank You! You are the reason we can celebrate and have hope for eternity. I love You, Jesus. Amen.

Forgiveness in the midst

Did you ever notice when Jesus forgave those who were responsible for His death?

It was in the midst of His suffering.

Luke 23:34 KJV — Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do. And they parted his raiment, and cast lots.

This truth struck me this morning as I was praying.

Jesus is the believer’s example in all things and that includes forgiveness.

Thus, we should be quick to forgive, even in the midst of the pain, right in the middle of the wrong, we need to forgive.

What about those things which happened already?

Yes, we need to forgive those who hurt us in the past as well.

Because Christ Jesus forgave us, we must forgive others.

Acts 5:31 NKJV — “Him God has exalted to His right hand to be Prince and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins.

Dear Lord Jesus,

Thank You for Your forgiveness. Thank You for Your example, that You chose to forgive, even in the middle of the most horrific abuse You were experiencing. Thank You that it doesn’t matter how much we are hurt, it matters how much You are willing and able to heal the hurt. Lord, thank You for Your incredible sacrifice. Thank You for salvation. Amen.

Week before Easter

Matthew 26:1-2 NKJV — Now it came to pass, when Jesus had finished all these sayings, that He said to His disciples, “You know that after two days is the Passover, and the Son of Man will be delivered up to be crucified.”

There’s nothing which can really prepare someone for the death of a loved one.

But this is an even deeper shock.

The disciples had great expectations for Jesus and crucifixion wasn’t one of them.

Not to mention, that Jesus had done nothing wrong.

What would they accuse Him of?

How could an innocent man be allowed to pay the ultimate punishment?

Their minds couldn’t grapple the full truth of what was occurring.

Jesus understood.

The Gospels were written for those who came after.

So we might learn the truth as well as those who walked with Jesus.

Luke 24:15-17 NKJV — So it was, while they conversed and reasoned, that Jesus Himself drew near and went with them. But their eyes were restrained, so that they did not know Him. And He said to them, “What kind of conversation is this that you have with one another as you walk and are sad?”

Jesus, Himself, explained all that had happened to His disciples, that they might share the truth.

It was why He came.

Luke 24:25-27NKJV — Then He said to them, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken! “Ought not the Christ to have suffered these things and to enter into His glory?” And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself.

As difficult as it is to realize that Jesus was born to die on a cross, all of scripture points to Him as the Redeemer.

It is truly wonderful that Jesus knew exactly what He was walking to and when He rose, He had made the way to salvation.

As we walk forward in this week before Easter, let us spend time meditating upon Jesus.

What He did.

Who He is.

And why He did it.

Dear Lord Jesus,

Thank You for Your sacrifice. Nothing I can do or experience will ever compare to Your wonderful gift of salvation. How great a blessing! What a wonderful, beautiful, priceless gift! Lord, I want to honor You and Your sacrifice. I want my life to reflect Your love and truth. Please help me to live daily, carrying my cross with joy. Thank You for Your promises. Thank You for Your love. I love You. Amen.

Amazing Grace

“Amazing Grace! how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like Me!”

John Newton’s hymn is timeless.

Although there are many hymns and songs which articulate the same truths this one does, it will always be a favorite.

The first line vibrates with such meaning.

For a sinner, covered in the stains of disobedience, the sound of Jesus’voice granting both cleansing and rebirth is the sweetest melody.

“I once was lost, but now am found, Was blind, but now I see.”

The truth of being lost in utter darkness is a terrifying place to be, but oh how joyous to have Christ throw open the heavy disgusting prison door of wickedness and separation from God, to allow the truth of His sacrifice to bring such as myself into the glory and healing of life in the Son.

“‘Twas grace that taught my heart to fear, And grace my fears relieved; How previous did that grace appear The hour I first believed!”

When one sees clearly, the enormous gap between the sinner and God Almighty seems an unreachable divide.

Then the cross becomes a door, a gift of grace to all who chose to enter, and upon opening the door of belief in Jesus each one finds even more grace through the abundant love of Christ Jesus.

“Through many dangers, toils and snares, I have already come; ‘Tis grace hath brought me safe thus far, And grace will lead me home.”

Once the sinner turned saint steps into the journey of life in Christ Jesus they find a friend Who walks with them through every trial and trouble.

They are sojourners on their way through this world toward life eternal with Christ in heaven.

“When we’ve been there ten thousand years, Bright shining as the sun, We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise Than when we first begun. Amen”

Our time oriented minds can not truly fathom eternity.

But to spend a little imagination, we might think, we might well picture what praise, worship, and prayer at the foot of God’s throne could be like.

To be utterly free from sin, wickedness, evil, death, fear, anxiety, trouble, hunger, grief, pain,…

I can easily see why we would spend ten thousand years worshipping and be content to continue on and on.

Revelation 4:8 NKJV — The four living creatures, each having six wings, were full of eyes around and within. And they do not rest day or night, saying: “Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, Who was and is and is to come!”

Dear Lord Jesus,

Thank You so much for being holy. Thank You for salvation and Your amazing grace. Lord, thank You for giving us so much, for we do not deserve any of it. Lord Jesus, please help those who have yet to know You to see You and recognize Your salvation. Lord, please soften hearts and open their eyes to Your truth. Lord, for those who are called by Your name, please help each one of us to remain humble, aware of Your incredible grace each and every day. Let us never take advantage of the glorious gift You have given, but instead strengthen us to remain vigilant, wise servants who watch and wait for the return of their Master. I love You, Jesus. I praise Your holy name! Amen.

Answers

It’s been several days.

I’ve been seeking the Lord for direction and guidance for our family.

My prayer: “Lord let us know what Your will is.”

The answer came yesterday.

But it didn’t look like what I expected.

It wasn’t a comfortable circumstance.

Yet, our direction was clear.

As I went to bed, I thanked God for His direction, although was still a little emotionally prickled by the form.

I hadn’t realized it until this morning.

Without really thinking about the words my emotions were asking God, “Why did the answer have to come that way?”

With my first thoughts this morning He answered.

You wanted direction and I gave it.

I chose that tool to make it very clear to you and your husband.

And my response had been to be focused on my own discomfort, rather than praising God for answering.

I had to wonder.

Would my husband and I have accepted His guidance if He’d used a different circumstance?

I can say, my perspective changed in that moment.

I began to praise God for His direction and guidance.

My heart thanked Him for His Sovereignty.

I looked at my life and began to see a long series of circumstances which were uncomfortable, some very painful, and I could look back at how God’s hand of direction was in each.

Although I didn’t enjoy walking through those things, I am praising God for them.

He has used trials, pain, and all manner of life’s struggles to direct, guide, and hone me.

As difficult as those things were, I am praising God for them.

As uncomfortable as some things are, I’m praising God for them.

I don’t want to live without Him, and He said to take up my cross and follow Him.

He wasn’t walking to a picnic when He carried His cross.

I shouldn’t expect one either.

Following Christ, carrying His cross, brings so much reward.

His path broke the chains of sin and death forever!

Then He rose, and He walked a little longer with mankind on the Earth.

And now He is preparing a place for all who believe in His name, what He did, and who He is, God’s Son.

Part of that preparation is a wedding feast, the marriage of the Lamb.

Yes, I want to carry my cross and follow Him.

For the days of struggle, trials, and pain are few compared to the joy which eternity holds.

I praise God for His path for me.

And I’ll take a wedding feast over a picnic any day!

Psalm 16:11 NKJV — You will show me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

Preparing for Sunday

Obviously, this is not an ordinary Easter weekend.

Yet, the order to stay home doesn’t change the fact that this is a Sunday not to be forgotten.

The day Jesus rose again!

Just think on what that moment meant.

What it still means!

Life, death, and eternity all changed forever.

That’s worth celebrating!

It doesn’t take a crowd.

Nor fancy clothes.

Nor tables piled with food.

This celebration only needs one thing.

Our hearts.

True worship of God and His Son Jesus.

Not an agenda.

Not speaking ritualistic words.

But the honest, humble, grateful heart.

Because it was my sin which nailed Him there.

It was my voice that denied knowing Him.

And it was my debt He suffered and died for.

Mine.

That is the incredible, awesome truth of Jesus.

He paid it all for me.

And He did the same for you.

I can’t think of a better reason to celebrate!

And I’m starting today.

Just in simple ways to praise and thank my Lord Jesus.

Hebrews 13:15 KJV — By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name.

Pictures of truth

pictures of truthWhat is in a picture?

At times I stare at a group of brush strokes

and will myself to find the meaning

the artist so carefully portrayed.

Other times I view something

and shut my eyes tight hoping that the scene will be washed away.

Then there are those times

I ponder

looking intently

drinking in the deeper meaning behind the picture.

More often than I would like to admit my eye passes over many things and I dispose of them as unwanted, unimportant, unnecessary visual jargon.

Monday held a surprise for me.

A generous person had given some children along with my son a bracelet with symbols.

Then he explained the meaning behind each and I was surprised at the truth each little symbol held.

A heart: standing for the love of God

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

An X: every person does things they know to be wrong: sin

“for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” Rom.3:23

A cross: Jesus died and rose again to pay for that sin

“…that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He was seen…” 1 Cor. 15:3b-5a

A ? : What will you do with this information? I have made the choice to follow the LORD.

“…But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.” Joshua 24:15b

I listened to my son talk through the pictures with me.

Smiling I hugged him as he thrilled to announce:

“This means we go to heaven!”

“Yes!” were the only words that I had.

As he proudly wears his bracelet I think to myself,

am I as happy about these pictures of truth as my little boy?

Am I willing to wear such a thing?

To answer questions and boldly proclaim:

As for me and my house we will serve the LORD?

Here is my answer:

bracelet #2

I hope you too can walk through these symbols and see the truth, understand the gift of love, and

answer the question.