What reason do I have to wake up with the rising sun And not be held down by the weight of all the things I’ve done? What reason do I have to feel this hope instead of hurt? How can it be I don’t receive the judgement I deserve?
How can you see me at my worst and still say I am loved? What promise can I stand on when I don’t feel good enough? When the enemy’s reminding me of all that I’ve done wrong What freedom do I have to sing this new creation song?
I know the only reason I can stand here free of all my shame Is wave upon wave of grace upon grace Wave upon wave of grace upon grace Upon grace
I have done so many things wrong in my life and, at times, still do. I’m not too fond of it when my wife, who is full of love and grace herself, sees the darkest side of me. There are times I am ashamed of my behavior. I thought by now, with God’s help, all my personal struggles would have been defeated. I can only continue to ask for forgiveness, ask for help, receive God’s grace, and continue fighting the good fight of faith. God’s grace is for you too!
But you, Timothy, man of God: Run for your life from all this. Pursue a righteous life—a life of wonder, faith, love, steadiness, courtesy. Run hard and fast in the faith. Seize the eternal life, the life you were called to, the life you so fervently embraced in the presence of so many witnesses. 1 Tim. 6:12 (MSG)
Parts of the song “Grace Upon Grace” were used. Songwriters: Matthew West, Aj Pruis
I don’t usually open with scriptures, but I need to today to set the stage. I love this true story from the Bible. It speaks of love in action and adequately uses of “words of knowledge.”
John 8:1-11Jesus returned to the Mount of Olives, 2 but early the next morning he was back again at the Temple. A crowd soon gathered, and he sat down and taught them. 3 As he was speaking, the teachers of religious law and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in the act of adultery. They put her in front of the crowd.
4 “Teacher,” they said to Jesus, “this woman was caught in the act of adultery. 5 The law of Moses says to stone her. What do you say?”
6 They were trying to trap him into saying something they could use against him, but Jesus stooped down and wrote in the dust with his finger. 7 They kept demanding an answer, so he stood up again and said, “All right, but let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone!” 8 Then he stooped down again and wrote in the dust.
9 When the accusers heard this, they slipped away one by one, beginning with the oldest, until only Jesus was left in the middle of the crowd with the woman. 10 Then Jesus stood up again and said to the woman, “Where are your accusers? Didn’t even one of them condemn you?”
11 “No, Lord,” she said.
And Jesus said, “Neither do I. Go and sin no more.”
One could write about a lot from this passage, but I want to focus on one part. Most theologians, of which I do not consider myself to be one, honestly I had to look up how to spell it, agree that when Jesus bent down and wrote in the dust, he was writing the sins of the woman’s accusers.
So one might ask, “How did Jesus know their sins?” Yes, Jesus was the son of God, but he was the son of man when he walked the earth. Here is the answer; Jesus was filled with the baptism of the Holy Spirit.
16-17 The moment Jesus came up out of the baptismal waters, the skies opened up and he saw God’s Spirit—it looked like a dove—descending and landing on him. And along with the Spirit, a voice: “This is my Son, chosen and marked by my love, delight of my life.” Mat. 3:16-17 (MSG)
The Holy Spirit filled Jesus the moment the dove landed on him. With the infilling comes power, as Jesus foretold his disciples before he ascended into heaven. Part of that power is knowing things about people. Sometimes, something they don’t want you to know. This is called; “word of knowledge.” This gift of the Spirit is sometimes needed to lead you on how to pray for someone, to get someone’s attention, so they will hear what comes after the supernatural event. One should not focus or get hung up on the gift when it is demonstrated but instead focus on what God wants to do.
I once got word of knowledge concerning a man and a woman in our church who weren’t married to each other. The Holy Spirit whispered, “affair.” After the initial shock, and I didn’t tell anyone in the church, which would have hurt them tremendously, but I prayed for them. A few weeks later, the woman’s husband was offered a job out of state, and they moved. God wanted me to pray, potentially preventing their desires from overtaking them. Am I special? Am I a saint? Am I a super Christian? No! The Holy Spirit chooses who to give this gift to, when, and where. (see 1 Cor. 12:11 but not now. After you finish this post.)
It is humbling to know things, to be used of God. So take it seriously, and be responsible with what you know. Jesus used his knowledge of the woman’s accusers to demonstrate forgiveness and love. Do you think the woman went away unchanged? No. She left forever changed, and no doubt shared her story with everyone. Be filled with the Spirit of God, and be open to being used by God to help change lives for eternity.
It happened in the very first inning of the Southwest Region championship. Two boys who when they woke up this morning only cared about one thing… get to Williamsport. Suddenly everything changed, because in real life things happen just like that … things change in a heartbeat.
Kaiden Shelton is the big man on the powerful Pearland team, their big pitcher, their big hitter. Isiah Jarvis is the shortstop on the scrappy Oklahoma team that had through incredible perseverance made it to the championship game . One team has already been to Williamsport, the other has never been.
The Pearland team scored 3 runs in the top of the first, but Oklahoma came right back at them in the bottom of the inning , they scored 2 runs and had a big rally going on, there was noise everywhere, coaches were yelling for the pitcher Shelton and the batter Jarvis to ”Battle” “win the battle.”
Then it happened, a twist of fate, Shelton lost control of a fastball and hit Jarvis right in the helmet, and Jarvis fell in a heap at home plate
Suddenly nobody was thinking about Williamsport anymore. With Isiah laying there and coaches and medical staff rushing to his prone body, Shelton kind of circled around the area between home and the pitchers mound. The staduim was silent. Jarvis’s mom stood in the stands , one hand clasped to her face, the other to her heart. And every mom who has ever sent their boys into these games was right there with her.
The Pearland players took a knee, eventually so did Shelton. Seconds seemed like hours. On one knee, Shelton was totally alone with his thoughts. But going through his mind were the words of the umpire immediately after Jarvis had gone down .”Oh my God” the umpire had said.
Finally they helped Jarvis to his feet , on replay you could see how the ball had hit his helmet in a good spot , it got more helmet then anything, Jarvis had been more frightened then anything . He trotted down to first , but now the trouble was with Shelton.
Before that pitch he had only one thought – Battle… win the battle … the words of coaches…now the only words he could hear in his mind… were the words of the umpire: “Oh my god.”
And just like that he started to cry. He was standing on the mound crying, and nobody went to him, not his teammates, not his coaches . Then one person did go to him… Isiah Jarvis left first base threw his helmet off, walked right to him and hugged him. That hug said… it’s okay. It was just what Shelton needed at that particular moment , I am sure his mom had wanted to Rush out there and hug her boy, Isiah took care of that for her , because Shelton was a big kid with a big heart and he didn’t want to hurt anybody , he didn’t want to hear an umpire say “Oh my god” over something he did . He was there to play baseball and make new friends, he hadn’t bargained for this
The game resumed , somebody won , somebody lost, one team went to Williamsport, the other packed their bags for home, it will all be forgotten , but that moment of perfect sportsmanship will live for as long as there is human competition
Before the tournament Isiah Jarvis said his biggest dream was to make sports center . I think it’s going to happen.
His name is Isiah and in the book of Isiah there is a famous passage about coming quickly to the rescue “I will sustain you and I will rescue you.” It’s almost perfectly symbolic that a boy named Isiah would come quickly to the rescue and do it when it was most needed.
(I searched but could not find the author of the above post.)
Hundreds reacted to this post with comments they were fighting tears. This true story touches our hearts because for a moment love was displayed. We don’t always see it sadly, these days, but when we do we sit up and pay attention. Whether a person is a child of God or not their spirit man sees the love of God in action and is drawn to it.
You see, in real life, we are the pitcher who throws a foul ball but in our case sins and hurts a real person. The batter is Jesus Christ. And like in this story He comes over to the mound and offers us forgiveness. If you were touched by this story then perhaps the Holy Spirit is tugging at your heart. Saying, “It’s okay. Don’t get hung up on what you did that was wrong, that hurt people, or yourself. There is One who has already paid the price for your foul ball. His name is Jesus and He died on a cross for you, because he wanted to demonstrate just how much He loves you and cares.” I pray you will react to the Holy Spirit by accepting that forgiveness and accepting Jesus into your life.
for all have sinned (thrown a foul ball) and fall short of the glory of God, Rom. 3:23 (NKJV Italics are mine)
Being in a relationship can be challenging at times for a variety of reasons. When married couples find that changing, or compromising is harder than they think it is worth it they many times end up in divorce court claiming, “Irreconcilable Differences”.
I had to look up what those two words mean.
Definition of Irreconcilable Differences
Differences of opinion or will that cannot be brought into harmony, or cannot be brought into an agreement through compromise.
A relationship that has become relentlessly hostile.
One could make the case that God and Satan declared, “Irreconcilable Differences”! That God and Satan have a relationship that has become relentlessly hostile! Although there is one definite distinction; God had the final say-so when it came to the final judgment of their case. When Satan insisted on being a “god”, in his own eyes, and having the angels worship him God said, “No way! There is only one true God and it is me, and He was not about to compromise.
To this day Satan is working day and night trying hard to appeal God’s final judgment. He is even trying to use people to win his case. He tells them lies, half-truths that convince them of things like there is no God, there is no punishment for sin, or that there is no eternity. In other words, as he told Eve in the Garden of Eden, “You will not surely die.” (Genesis 3:4) People believe him when he tells them, “There is more to life than what you currently have now, and you deserve more. You’ve earned it.”
It’s sad when they buy into his deception. If they are not set free with the Truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ then they will stand before God when they die and He will declare with them as well, “Irreconcilable Differences” and they will be forever divorced, separated from the presence of God, and that is called, “hell”!
Please, accept Jesus Christ into your life before it is too late. Ask for forgiveness of your sins, and wrongdoing. Read God’s word, “The Bible”. Learn about the love of God and come into harmony with Him. When all truth is revealed, and it will be, you will be glad you did.
Have you ever wondered, where did it all go wrong? Or, how did they end up like this? I have. You look at someone’s life and you can’t quite figure out how they got where they are today.
I heard it said the other day, “I made a wrong turn on the way to church!” That kind of says it all. Somehow the individual took their eyes off of Jesus and looked instead at what was around them. Kind of like Peter when he was walking on the water. He let his circumstances disrupt his fixed gaze on the Master, on Jesus.
“Church” doesn’t save you, or even just “going to church” doesn’t either! I know a couple of women who “go to church” every time the doors are open, but there is no love of God in their hearts! As a result, people get hurt.
Back to the people who have strayed from the truth; they started looking at what Satan was offering them “now” that would fulfill that longing desire in their heart instead of waiting on God to provide something or someone pure, holy, and a part of Him.
The wonderful truth is this; it’s never too late to backtrack and take the right street to the church. In other words, it’s never too late to return to God. Most likely there is someone who is praying you would and God is sitting on the front porch staring down the road as far as He can hoping to see you come over the horizon toward him! He is waiting with open arms.
Let’s take a good look at the way we’re living and reorder our lives under God. Lam. 3:40 (MSG)
“Mark, you have the right to remain silent. In fact, just don’t say anything at all unless I ask you to. Anything you do say will definitely be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to an attorney. If you can’t afford an attorney, and at the age of seven I doubt you can, one will be appointed for you, but you won’t find any available.”
I appealed to have my hearing moved to the neighbor’s house, hoping that would allow for a fair trial, or at least a lighter sentence. The judge denied my request. As we begin, I looked around and failed to see a jury of my six, seven, and eight-year-old peers.
“Mark, where were you on the morning of July 7th?” asked my mother.
“I was in my bedroom, building a new train station,” I replied.
“Did you or did you not take cookies from the cookie jar after being told not to?” she persisted while raising her voice hoping I would crack.
Sweat began to bubble up on my back. “No. It wasn’t me.”
“That’s odd because I have an eyewitness that says you did.”
Gees! My accuser struck again. Seems like my older sister always caught me doing what I wasn’t supposed to be doing, and then she would run and tell my mother. In this case I was found guilty as charged. I would forever be known as a convicted cookie thief.
We all will stand before God one day. And the accuser of the brethren will be there telling on us. Informing God what we did wrong, our sins while we were on earth. We will be found guilty. But then, Jesus Christ will step forward and say to his Heavenly Father, “No punishment will be necessary. I have already paid the wages of their sin. We will escape eternal damnation, and not spend eternity in hell.
Jesus Christ did that for every one of us, out of love. Out of obedience to his Heavenly Father, God. It’s there for the asking, and it’s free. His forgiveness of our wrongdoing means we can no longer be known as a cookie thief or be forced to wear any other degrading title. We will be known as children of God and invited to enter heaven, and live happily ever after.
Salvation and power are established! Kingdom of our God, authority of his Messiah! The Accuser of our brothers and sisters thrown out, who accused them day and night before God. They defeated him through the blood of the Lamb and the bold word of their witness. Rev. 12:10-11 (MSG)
Have you ever met someone for the very first time, and you immediately like them? They are usually smiling, relaxed, mild mannered, and you just begin to match their level of gel. You find yourself feeling like they value you, and they aren’t in a hurry to get away from you. As if in that very moment, you are the only thing and one that matters.
I believe Jesus was just that kind of person. I think this is why he appealed to men, women, some high ranking officials, sinners and children. Honestly, the only ones that he didn’t appeal to were the ones who felt as if his way of living threatened their livelihood, or power.
It was this kind of appeal that gave him the ability to talk about “love”, “forgiveness”, and “the Kingdom of God”. Because of how he made them feel they listened! And many times they responded positively. Would we get the same results if we drew people toward us as he did? That should be the goal anyway.
It was Paul who said, “Follow me as I follow Christ.” (1 Cor.11:1) Paul obviously recognized this about Jesus and strived to imitate him. Three practical steps to living this kind of life:
See the people. Be observant to the people around you while being attentive to the Holy Spirit who may prompt you to speak to them.
.See the need in their life. You do this step by listening to them. Not just talking about yourself. It’s not always about you!
.See the path they should take to find God. Whether they need forgiveness, healing, or some other type of ministry, we should then lead them along that path.
Ask God to help you declutter your own life so you will have the time to spend with people. One thing I learned from my father is this; spending time with people is a gift. We should be generous.”
For me, it was the second one. I was only 7 and we attended a church that was pastored by a “hell fire and brimstone” preacher. Meaning, he held nothing back when it came to sharing what sin, wrong doing in your life, truly cost. At that age, I was a convicted cookie thief! I disobeyed my mother and then would lie about it. I was afraid if I died without God’s forgiveness I would go to hell. As I got older I learned being saved from your sins was actually about having a relationship with a loving God through Jesus.
But for others what is it? What has to happen in their life to get them to realize how loving God is? Do they need to be face to face with death before they will finally make a decision? What if they don’t have a conscience mind when they are crossing the threshold between life and death? By not making a decision is making a decision.
58 Then they pounced on him and threw him outside the city walls to stone him. His accusers, one by one, placed their outer garments at the feet of a young man named Saul of Tarsus. 59 As they hurled stone after stone at him, Stephen prayed, “Our Lord Jesus, accept my spirit into your presence.” 60 He crumpled to his knees and shouted in a loud voice, “Our Lord, don’t hold this sin against them.” And then he died. Acts 7:58-60 (TPT)
I am convinced this really messed with Saul. So because the Holy Spirit had been drawing him to God, when he saw Jesus appear he was ready to believe. You see, God had been pursuing Saul.
3 So he obtained the authorization and left for Damascus. Just outside the city, a brilliant light flashing from heaven suddenly exploded all around him. 4 Falling to the ground, he heard a booming voice say to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” 5–7 The men accompanying Saul were stunned and speechless, for they heard a heavenly voice but could see no one. Saul replied, “Who are you, Lord?” “I am Jesus, the Victorious, the one you are persecuting Acts 9:3-7 (TPT)
Talk about a life changing moment! Wow.
God is pursuing you too! If you pay attention to moments in life you will see God. You bump into him more than you realize. It’s like the car mirror, “Objects in mirror are closer than they appear”. God is closer than you think.
“The only way people come to me is by the Father who sent me—he pulls on their hearts to embrace me. And those who are drawn to me, I will certainly raise them up in the last day.” John6:44 (TPT)
As this past Christmas was April’s first in America, she was just as excited when she heard we could have snow. Growing up in the Philippines it would be her first time to see it, feel it, and see its beauty as it covers the ground. As I witnessed her enthusiasm I thought of people who have heard about God, but have never seen him, or felt his presence.
I have known some people that seem to stay on the fringes of God. They might even hear that God is at a certain location doing marvelous signs and wonders, but despite their own need for him, they won’t go. They might need a healing, a place to live, or a job, but it’s as if they would rather continue to struggle and hurt on their own then accept Him, and truly know what real living is all about. They settle for only “flakes of God”. They have never sensed his presence or have experienced the peace of his Spirit, and they have no idea how beautiful it is when their sins have been covered as white as snow.
Come now and let’s deliberate over the next steps to take together. Yahweh promises you over and over: “Though your sins stain you like scarlet, I will whiten them like bright, new-fallen snow! Even though they are deep red like crimson, they will be made white like wool!”Isaiah 1:18 (TPT)
I heard this morning there is a chance of snow later this week. Hopefully this next front coming through will generate some accumulation instead of only flakes, or flurries, and perhaps provide enough snow so April can learn how to make a snowman, or a snow angel. I’m forecasting there is a move of God coming soon. I sense He wants to make himself known. He wants to heal, He wants to rule and reign in the life of those who love him. I pray for those who have not ever experienced God in a personal way will seek him, and know for themselves what it is like to have their sins forgiven, and be white as snow.
I notice things. Annoying to April, but I think it helps me as a writer. Regardless, this holiday season I have noticed the word, “joy” everywhere. On buttons worn by Walmart employees, in TV commercials, in print, and placed on products. It almost seems as if after the last two years we have had experienced people are desperate for some “joy” in their lives!
They want it bad, so they declare it, they proclaim it, and they even wear it. People want “joy”, they need “joy”. But saying it, wishing for it, doesn’t make “joy” appear. Not real joy anyway. Real, lasting “joy” can only be found in Jesus Christ. By giving your life to him and recognizing that He gave his life to you. To die for you, as a sacrifice for every little thing you have ever done wrong in your life, otherwise known as “sin”. Real joy is:
J = Jesus O = others Y = you
You accept Jesus, make him the most important person in your life, read the book his father wrote, and learn to take on his nature, then “joy” begins. The next step in finding real “joy” is putting others before yourself.
Jesus said, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence.’ This is the most important, the first on any list. But there is a second to set alongside it: ‘Love others as well as you love yourself.’ These two commands are pegs; everything in God’s Law and the Prophets hangs from them. Mat. 22:37-39 (MSG)
This is the formula for finding “joy”, not just at Christmas time, but all year round. Serving others brings “joy” as well. Another way to find “joy” is to marry it. You see I was divorced for 24 years. I was content with that, well most of the time, but I longed for joy. My first marriage had its good moments, but I always felt in my heart that it could be better. And now I know I was right. You see my second wife’s name is, “April Joy”. I have said it before, but when I am doing my part, to love her as Christ loves the church, then she fills my life with so much “joy” words cannot describe. She knows the formula for “joy”, and she is so full of the love of God in her life. That love oozes out and covers others.
Yes, it’s Christmas, and certainly “Joy to the World” indeed, but if you want real “joy” that can last a lifetime then pursue Jesus, love others, and love yourself.