Dying to self

“I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

Galatians 2:20

To live you must die. To be born again you must allow your flesh to die.

To be alive in Christ you must be dead to your self.

Byron Frank

The Truth About Sin

Photo by Riccardo Bertolo from Pexels

If people truly knew the devastation of their sin, they would never “mess around”, “try it once”, “just have a little bit more”, say “it was just one time” or “it’s just a little lie.”

For those who have been burned by the sin they are in, or as a result of the sins of others, it’s just that, a painful fire of agony and devastation. It’s prison bars of hard labour and slavery to an unrelenting master.

Sin is woodworm. It rots the human soul at the roots, devouring all peace, joy, love and truth, leaving a putrid smell of rotting flesh.

Sin consumes and destroys. It destroys you and those around you. Like an uncontrollable fire ranging on a hot dry day. It devours everything that is set before it.

How poignant the picture of Jesus hanging on the cross. He who knew no sin. He never expressed, gave way or made provision for any vile thing. Even so, He choose to take the penalty of the sin we so readily invite into our lives.

The violence of sin ravaged His body, tore His flesh and disfigured the one and only God who came to earth as a human. For sin is the heart of violence, cruelty and malice.

Jesus hung on the tree to free us from our prisons, our own deplorable lifestyles. Our beautiful Saviour’s face dripped with blood and grimaced in pain.

The reality of sin laid bare. The result of sin is death.
Jesus took that death so we could be free from our own sin and the sin of others.

He bore our sin and shame. Jesus laid down His life and rose from the dead to break the curse humanity has been subject to since the garden.

He did not die to merely forgive your sins but to remove your sin.

He died not only to remove the cost of sin in our lives.
He died and rose again to restore us to our created value, like a great artist restoring His masterpiece.

Jesus meticulously removes the grime, dirt, mire and mud, revealing His original design.

The colour and depth of His creation lay hidden under the darkness of sin. He could not leave His art work hidden.
He needed to restore us!

No matter how deep and dark the sin. No matter how “far gone” you think you are, you’re not beyond the blood of Jesus Christ. You’re not beyond the loving gaze of the original artist!

He paid the ultimate sacrifice to restore you to who He created you to be.

His blood flowed to wash all your sin away. Your addictions, your fetishes and perversions; your lies and your cruelty.
Jesus’ blood was shed for all that has marred you, all that has crushed you, disfigured and twisted you.

Turn to Jesus and come into your designed purpose.
Come to Jesus and begin to live out the destiny He has had written for you before the foundations of creation.
Follow Jesus and enter into your true identity.

“There is salvation in no one else! God has given no other name under heaven by which we must be saved.”– Acts 4:12

Blessings

The Cross of Christ

“I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.

Remember what I told you: I am going away, but I will come back to you again. If you really loved me, you would be happy that I am going to the Father, who is greater than I am. I have told you these things before they happen so that when they do happen, you will believe.

I don’t have much more time to talk to you, because the ruler of this world approaches. He has no power over me, but I will do what the Father requires of me, so that the world will know that I love the Father. Come, let’s be going.

-John 14:27-31

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Romans 3:25-26


“For God presented Jesus as the sacrifice for sin. People are made right with God when they believe that Jesus sacrificed his life, shedding his blood. This sacrifice shows that God was being fair when he held back and did not punish those who sinned in times past, for he was looking ahead and including them in what he would do in this present time. God did this to demonstrate his righteousness, for he himself is fair and just, and he makes sinners right in his sight when they believe in Jesus.”– Romans 3:25-26

We see throughout the Old Testament that God shows grace and mercy to His people. He forgave the Israelites’ continual rebellion. He answered all of Gideon’s challenges with His power. He surely didn’t need to! (Judges 6:17-22, 36-40). God had a deep, unique, intimate relationship with Moses despite his past as a murderer and his continual impatience and rash behaviour.

We also read that God is holy and righteous. He is just and cannot come in contact with anything vile or profane. His standard of holiness will not allow it. Humans are evil, sinful and profane, yet we see story after story in the Old Testament of God meeting with His creation and showing them grace.

How can this be?

Romans 3:25-26 tells us! It’s because of Jesus Christ! Because of what He would do on the cross!
His blood-bought salvation is applied to all creation, even to those we read about in the Old Testament.

How is this possible? Jesus had not been born and He had not died and rose from the dead in Old Testament times?

God is outside of time! Jesus was present in creation. His death and resurrection applies to all man-kind, “through all time.”

These men and women looked forward to the day that Christ would come and redeem them from their shackles of shame, guilt and condemnation. It was this faith that activated God’s grace through Jesus Christ to the saints in the Old Testament. (Hebrews 11:13-16, 40)

There is grace and mercy through no one else but Jesus Christ!

Though it was a great mystery to those who lived before Calvary, Christ’s sacrifice still paid for their sins and showered them with His grace.

It was through Christ that Moses could hear God’s voice in the burning bush (Exodus 3) and experience the glory of God on Mount Sinai (Exodus 19).

It was through Christ that Gideon could boldly ask the powerful, Holy God to show Himself true! Without grace, he would have been struck dead for his lack of faith and arrogance.

It was through Jesus Christ and His sacrifice on the cross that the Israelites were not wiped out in their entirety, when they time and time again murmured, complained and rebelled against the Living God.

Through both the Old and New testaments we see the grace and mercy of God that was purchased by the blood of Jesus Christ.

Christ died once for all!  (1 Peter 3:18)

Praise Jesus!

Not Death, Life part 2: The World’s Grief

“There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilizations- these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals, whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub and exploit- immortal horrors or everlasting splendours…our charity must be a real and costly love, with deep feelings for the sins in spite of which we love the sinner- no mere tolerance, or indulgence which parodies love as flippancy parodies merriment. Next to the Blessed Sacrament itself, your neighbor is the holiest object presented to your senses. – C.S. Lewis
And now, dear brothers and sisters, we want you to know what will happen to the believers who have died so you will not grieve like people who have no hope.” – 1 Thessalonians 4:13: 
In the last post I spoke about the reality of life and death, that life is eternal and unending, that life has a beginning but no end, that the end of physical life is just the continuation into eternal life.
Because of this truth we know that we will meet our loved ones who have accepted Christ again, that they are included in the great cloud of witnesses mentioned in Hebrews. They are safe with Christ, without pain and in everlasting peace.
Because of this hope as believers our duty and desire is to live full and extraordinary lives, trusting God and walking out the calling He has placed before us and upon us. 
A large part of our calling is to impact our world for Christ, to influence this fallen world with the Gospel of Jesus, to offer the free gift of true life that is found in Christ Jesus.
I talked about the true life that is found through Jesus. However the majority of the world does not hold to this truth.

The World’s Perspective

The World, much like the Sadducees, cannot accept the truth of the resurrection nor understand the full scope of the life they have been given. The World does not see the truth because people are blind to it.

People only see the external reality which is present in the physical realm. To unbelievers, when the body is no longer functioning, the person is dead.

This is a limited view when we have the knowledge of all reality that is through Jesus Christ. What seems to be is not always the case. A lot more is going on behind the scenes.

Just because one doesn’t see the spiritual realm doesn’t mean that it does not exist. In fact the unseen realm is more real than the seen, in the sense that it is eternal. The natural world had a beginning and it will have an end. 
Our senses are in tune with physical realities but often we miss the deep truths of the eternal reality. We look at the natural and fail to see the spiritual.

This is like seeing the one you love from a great distance away. You can recognize a silhouette and the figure of the familiar but you do not yet behold their full beauty and radiance until they stand before you.
Life can be pleasant for those who are only present to the fleshly realm but as they are confronted with physical death their limited sight and perception fail and they are unable to recognize the deeper truth of what life was designed to fulfill.
They then cannot find any peace, hope or contentment after they lose a loved one. For them it is a finite and permanent loss.  They have no revelation of continued life after death. They have no reassurance that they will ever see those whom they have lost.
This can be a spiraling hole of depression and grief that many do not escape. Over the years I have wondered how people with no hope can continue on.
How can a mother who has lost her daughter find joy in the turmoil and loss?
How can a wife who has lost her husband get up every morning in the house they bought together, surrounded by the life they have built together and keep going?
I know some do not ever fully live again. The loss is to great and they crumble under the pressure. Some grow depressed and isolate themselves; many try to cover the pain with drugs and alcohol.
Some go into a deep denial and pretend that the person they lost never existed.You see this with some parents who have lost a young child, as they will remove every piece of evidence of their child’s existence and never speak of them.  Or they do the opposite and pretend the child is still with them, keeping every detail of their child’s life the same, keeping their room like a museum and living as if their child is still in the physical world, cutting off other relationships in the process, never dealing with their grief.

Holy Spirit Calling
You will hear many things from those who are desperate to deal with the death of a loved one.
They are an angel now, looking down on me.”
“They live on in my heart.”
“I know that their spirit is with me.”

These things are said, not only as an effort to find comfort but as a heart cry for more. As we discussed in the last post, life is not meant to end! It was created at the beginning and is to go on for eternity.

God made each person with a soul and spirit that is designed to be in everlasting relationship with Him.
When people say these things as quoted above, their souls are crying out for the truth that has been placed deep within them. What they are saying is not true, but the hearts behind those words are calling out for the truth!
All truth and hope is found through Jesus Christ!
Isaiah 40:6-8 says,
 “A voice said, “Shout!”
I asked, “What should I shout?”
“Shout that people are like the grass.
Their beauty fades as quickly
as the flowers in a field.
The grass withers and the flowers fade
beneath the breath of the Lord.
And so it is with people.
The grass withers and the flowers fade,
but the word of our God stands forever.”
This is a prophesy of eternal life, of the restoration of all life, through Jesus Christ. Though sin and death came into the world and flesh dies, “The word of our God Stands forever.” 
Jesus Christ is the Living Word, so through Him there is life forever.
As 1 Peter 1:23 states: “For you have been born again, but not to a life that will quickly end. Your new life will last forever because it comes from the eternal, living word of God.”
The old view of death is what the World still holds as true. However, their hearts cry out for the eternal life that is found in Jesus Christ. 
The Holy Spirit is already working in their hearts, calling them to Jesus, calling sorrowing people to His healing hands, calling them to restoration and to eternal life, calling them from death to life!
Jesus spoke of this calling in John 6:44: “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day.”

Our Job: What We Can Do
God has placed us here to minister to those around us. Though it seems like a daunting task, for what can we do or say to someone who has lost those they love so dearly?
Jesus stated in John 12:32:“And when I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw everyone to myself.
The Holy Spirit is already present in grief and Jesus is drawing everyone to Himself. On our own we can do nothing to help those hurting, but through Christ all things are possible.
The truth is, we have the indwelling Holy Spirit within us, and so we bring the presence of Jesus with us as we are with those hurting.
Matthew 5:13-15:“You are the salt of the earth. But what good is salt if it has lost its flavour? Can you make it salty again? It will be thrown out and trampled underfoot as worthless.
You are the light of the world — like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden.  No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.”
Jesus told us we are the salt of the earth. We bring His flavour everywhere we go. 
The most important thing we can do is be present with those hurting. To be there physically beside them in their hurt. To fill in the gap between death and life. For when we are physically present we bring the presence of the Holy Spirit, who brings life.
Jesus said we are the light of the world, This means when we are physically present in the darkness of death, we are actually bringing the light of Christ into the darkness.
If you have ever been to a funeral with those who do not hold to the truth of life offered through Jesus Christ, you know what I am talking about. The darkness and despair feels heavy and the air feels think and humid making it hard to breath. It as if the spirit of death penetrates the very air in the place.
As a believer you bring the light of Christ and the fresh breath of life of the Spirit.
John 7:37- 38: “On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and cried out, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink.  Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’” 
We have rivers of living water flowing out of our hearts! We must let them gush forward like a spring. Water grows stale unless it continually moves. We must allow this living water to flow forth. We must be present with those hurting and the love we show will be the flow of living water.
Matthew 12:43 says “When the unclean spirit has gone out of a person, it passes through waterless places seeking rest, but finds none.”

The enemy needs dry arid places to flourish. He is the one of death and he wishes to bring more death. He would take possession of those who are mourning. He would like to keep the place of mourning dark and dry so He can work more death and despair.
We possess rivers of living water and the fire of  the Holy Spirit! We can wet the ground of the funeral home with the Spirit of God, we can wet the ground of the house of mourning with Jesus Christ and bring life! If it is dry, a single spark of the Spirit will light the whole place on fire. 
Hearts set on fire and soaked in the love of the Spirit! The devil will have no place there.
Do as scripture says, “Mourn with those who mourn, weep with those who weep.”(Romans 12:15)
By doing this we will soak those who mourn with living water! By doing this she took ground from the enemy. The enemy cannot reside in living water soaked ground! 
We have great authority as believers! We may not feel like we can do much in these situations; we may feel small and insignificant. But this is not true! We cannot let our feelings get in the way of the truth. We have authority in these places to bring life!
Wherever we go, we bring life and we bring Christ!
So we are Christ’s ambassadors; God is making his appeal through us. We speak for Christ when we plead, “Come back to God!”  (2 Corinthians 5:20)
We are His ambassadors!
We feel we need to say all these things to those who are hurting and if we do not, we miss the opportunity.
This is not true. The most important thing is just to be present with them! Because we are His, because we bring His Spirit, because we have His love, we will make a difference. 
Those who are lost and broken will recognize this light, they will feel encouraged and refreshed by our very presence. They will see the hope and love that is within us and desire to have it themselves. 
When they ask about this hope we must be ready to give an answer. Then, when we do open our mouths to speak they will be words of life, peace, hope and comfort, for it says in 1 Peter 3:15,“Instead, you must worship Christ as Lord of your life. And if someone asks about your hope as a believer, always be ready to explain it.”
We must be ready to share where our spring of living water is found, in Jesus Christ. We will speak words “in due season.” We will speak the hope that is found through Jesus Christ!
We must be able to tell those who are hurting, “Jesus didn’t take your husband away: He gives only life, He does not take it.”
Your daughter was not left alone when she died: Jesus was with her the whole time and He loves her deeply.”
We must let them know they are not alone in their sorrow and grief, that Jesus is close to the brokenhearted. After all the crowds of mourners dissipate and go home, He is still there! He loves them and wants to heal their broken hearts!
Our words have power, for we speak with the authority of Jesus Christ and by the power of the Holy Spirit.
In many of the letters in the New Testament the apostles opened by saying, “Peace be with you.” This was not a mere greeting but a proclamation of peace. We speak peace, and peace will be present. We speak hope, and hope will be present. We say “strongholds be broken,” and they will be broken! We say, “Grief and darkness be gone from this place, and it will leave:  in Jesus name!

Do Not Doubt. We Are The Hands and Feet of Christ.
When Lazarus died, scripture says Jesus wept. I do not believe He wept for Lazarus for He knew he was to be brought back to life. I believe He wept for the people for they still doubted Jesus and His power. They still did not see that He had the power to bring life nor did they have faith in Him.
We cannot afford to doubt Christ! We cannot afford to question the truth of the life He offers. We cannot afford to doubt the power He has placed in us through His Holy Spirit!

The Only Death in this World is the Death We As a Church Allow!
Life is here among us: the life is Jesus Christ within us. We must share it! We cannot hoard it. We cannot be ashamed of it, or be afraid to share it.
But how can they call on him to save them unless they believe in him? And how can they believe in him if they have never heard about him? And how can they hear about him unless someone tells them?  And how will anyone go and tell them without being sent? That is why the Scriptures say, “How beautiful are the feet of messengers who bring good news!” (Romans 10:14-15)
We are the hands and feet of Christ! We are His flavour, the salt of the earth, We are the lights of the world, we have rivers of living water flowing through us. We are ambassadors of Christ and His kingdom.
His Kingdom come, His will be done. His will is that no man should perish. His will is that no one be left in the darkness of death and despair.
Rise up Church! Let us go forward and meet the darkness with light and flow forth with rivers of living water!
We cannot afford to stay at home while the world mourns. We have the answer they search so desperately for!
Everyone raise your hands up and pray for the healing hands of Christ.
Lord Jesus I pray you raise your Church to the calling you have put in our lives, that you will give us your healing hands. That whomever we touch, we will impart your healing, Lord. Let others feel the presence we bring. Let your Spirit burn within us and manifest in healing and with peace, joy and love. Let your sons and daughters arise and go to the desolate places and bring life. Let those who mourn be comforted. Let your hope of eternal life spread throughout the world and may every man and women we meet come into a true relationship with Jesus Christ. Amen.
Now, go out and grab a hold of the hand of those close to you and impart peace to those around you. Say, “Peace be with you”!
Let the peace of Jesus Christ be upon you and flow through you to this hurting world.

In Jesus name!