Brought to Your Knees

The most interesting thing about when people become Christians is the fire that is within them to share the Gospel to those around them.  The hardest part of the whole process is the ‘let-down’ that takes place when those who are around them start to reject the message they are sharing.  This can be demoralizing and even destructive for many new Christians.

I want to share a couple of words of encouragement to these people this week.  First, don’t lose hope…remember that you once were right where they are at now; rejecting the message that is being shared to you.  Many new Christians don’t remember what they came from, and that is good, because once you are there, God doesn’t remember where you came from either.

This can be discouraging however for many who are experiencing this new life.  They are so wrapped up in how great it feels to have a new life that they lose sight of what it took to get them to this point.  They become overzealous with the idea that everyone should want this in their life and at times do not remember what it took to get through their walls that first time.  We need to help each other through these moments (moments that will occur in an even greater scale for those closest to us).

Secondly, don’t lose sight of the bigger picture.  When the world rejects us, we tend to sink back and lose hope…these are the moments where we can shine even brighter.  The world is content in self-service.  No one wants to be told that they are doing it wrong…no one wants to give up selfish ambition or pride; especially if that is what they have always known.

There are many in this world that only seek to please themselves, and in many cases, don’t even know they are doing it.  They always degrade those around them, pushing others down and using them as stepping stools to reach that next plateau.  These people are so self consumed that the good news of Christ is something they cannot even fathom because of their vanity and pride.

Remember this, when they push you to your knees…you are in the perfect position to pray for them.  I would venture to say that if you look back over your life, there are times when you were the same way.  In going back to the first point…I’m not saying remember your old life…I’m saying remember what you came from and how much more enjoyable and pleasing your life is now that you found the way out.

It may not be easy, but Jesus does give us a promise in Matthew 11:28-30:

28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

Take time to show this to others…share the joy of the relationship…show them it is different…and hit the ground praying.

The Cost of the Cross

Did you ever sit down and think just what the cost of the Cross was? Exactly what did Jesus go through for our sins?

I was thinking about this the other day and came across a description of what happens in a Roman crucifixion, as well as studying what scripture says that Christ went through.   Here is what I found and wanted to share it with you this week: (Note: this may be a little graphic)

The Roman crucifixion was probably the worst possible death that someone could suffer. They usually began by completely stripping the condemned of their clothing and beating them mercilessly. After this, they would use a whip with thorns attached to it; as this took place the whip would attach to the chest, back, and stomach of the accused and then pulled off. This resulted in peeling off almost all of the skin.

If the accused had facial hair, as we see mentioned of Jesus in the scripture, it would be shaved along with the skin in many cases. They would then be beaten with heavy wooden poles, many times in the face. The truth is that it is a wonder that none of Christ’s bones were broken.

The accused would then carry their cross down the street to their final destination, they would be nailed to the cross through the wrists and the feet, and hang for hours. The weight of the body pulling down on the arms and suffocating them, pulling up what was already a beaten, bloody and open back on a less than smooth plank of wood. The person would struggle to breath and some could take days.

There was an experiment done recently where 10 men were hung by ropes to a cross in the same way Christ would have been and not a one lasted more than a couple minutes crying out to be let down; the pain was too great to continue, struggling to breathe, yet Christ hung there for at least 6 hours.

This is only part of the suffering, and in scripture we are told of all the suffering that Christ dealt with, some records reporting that He suffered more than many others would have.   They were trying to prove a point, they were trying to make a statement.

Yet we act as if the cross cost nothing, and truth is it did cost us nothing, but it cost Christ everything. Live today for him. After all, He DIED for you!

“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 (ESV)

Did you hear?

Some of the most damaging words in the world are “Did you hear…” because you often know that what follows is going to be gossip, at least in many circles, and unfortunately it has become the normal way of life in our country. The thing about gossip is that it damages more than just the person it is said about and more than just the person spreading it; Gossip is damaging to families, communities, and as we are seeing, entire countries.

Let me explain it this way: There is a reason we are instructed in Ephesians 4:29 to “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.” We are to watch what we say, and unfortunately the Church is not exempt from this epidemic. James put it this way in verse 1:26, “If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless.”

Gossip is damaging to the Church, it can tear God’s people apart at the core, and many people tend to go out and share their findings within the community with these words, “Did you hear” about this person or that person or this problem or that problem. Paul said it this way to the Philippian Church, “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things (4:8).”

Where it is most evident in our country today is within the political realm. We hear candidates who are out to spread vicious lies and rumors to try and gain an upper hand in the race they are in…why? This is why I would encourage you to pray about God’s guidance in who you should vote for.

We should not join in gossip; we should not spread anything malicious about anyone, even if we heard it from his or her lips. Our lives are not to see how many people we can destroy with our words about them in settings where they do not belong…and our jobs as Christians is to build up and glorify the Name of Jesus…We are to be examples of who Christ is…not examples of why He had to come and give His life to offer salvation.

Today I challenge you as Paul did Timothy, “But avoid irreverent babble, for it will lead people into more and more ungodliness (2 Tim. 2:16).” Do not join in, rise above…do not lead others into ungodliness, lead them to God.

Leap Year

February 29 is a rare date on our calendar, it only happens once every 4 years, and was instituted as a way to redeem the time that we lose each year within our daylight hours. The orbit of the earth around the sun actually takes a little longer than 365 days, so this was figured up and keeps us on track, adding a day every four years to make up that time and redeem the day. It is a way of resetting our calendar.

As I got to thinking about this, I realized that it is a day that we can also use to reevaluate our relationship with God and really examine and redeem our time as Christians. Too often we get wrapped up in life and fail to realize that God is working on our behalf. We decide that we want things now, rather than wait on what God has in store…we try to force God’s hand, and many times move faster than we are ready to move…trying to accomplish things that are not yet for us to obtain.

We must be willing to wait on His timing, and we must take time to reset our relationship at times, redeeming the time to be most effective for the Kingdom. That doesn’t mean that we are in the wrong praying and asking for things, but many times we think the answers should come in specific ways and in our timing. I would urge you to reevaluate this in your time. It doesn’t have to be February 29, it could be every day of the year…constantly praying and seeking for God’s will and allowing Him the time to work.

In fact, don’t worry about the things that you have no control over…ask God, and wait. Jesus said, “You do not have because you do not ask God,” and we are also reminded in scripture to “Rejoice in the Lord always.” Today, take the time to rejoice in the Lord, thank Him for the things He has done in your life, and redeem the time that you have lost, resetting your walk and pushing on toward that goal in Christ Jesus.

“This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.” Psalm 118:24