All posts by Nicole Vaughn

What Business Is It Of Mine To Judge

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What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside?

1 Corinthians 5:12

I understand that the world we live in is changing. Our nation that once was a shining city on a hill seems to be growing darker and darker right before our eyes. However, I am not afraid. I believe we are right in the midst of the purifying will of God. Nothing that is happening is a surprise to God.

Personally, I believe this has been a long time coming. It’s simply the world we live in. We live in a fallen, selfish, lawless world where the majority of the people have forgotten God… including those who sit in a “church” building every week. It doesn’t do anyone any good to hear the Word if they do not live the Word. It actually just makes that person harder and nastier… like Pharaoh in the days of the Exodus.

The Word is very clear that as a believer I have no business to judge anyone who is outside of Christ. I am not to judge them, but in the kindness of God I am to demonstrate love to them by sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ with them. I am to speak and live the truth in love and pray that God would open their hearts and that the Holy Spirit would convict them of their sin and that God would draw them to Himself as I lift up and exalt Christ through a life lived to glorify Him. I am, in fact, to come to them as Jesus came to the woman at the well. He didn’t condemn her. He was probably the first person in a LONG time to treat her like a human being.

Sure it makes it easier to be “a Christian” if we live in a society that allows us to never have to actually choose Christ over convenience and comfort, but where do we read that in the description of following Christ? There are places I do not go and things that I do not participate in because I am convicted about giving God’s money to them or I am concerned about the safety of myself and my girls and feel it unwise to be there. This can be inconvenient at times, but it’s worth it to me.

“Morality cannot be legislated, but behavior can be regulated. Judicial decrees may not change the heart, but they can restrain the heartless.”

Martin Luther King Jr.

I really don’t know if these new bathroom laws will be beneficial. Perhaps we should also be focused on laws that allow a doctor to surgically change the sex of someone from what is stated on their birth certificate. After all a person is born distinctively male or distinctively female. It’s in our DNA make up and changing our bodies or clothing can’t altar that. We have waiting periods on divorces and guns, but do we on this? Laws focusing on those who perform them may not change the hearts of those who desire it, but it would restrain the doctors who perform them simply out of greed.

 To me the bathroom laws are like when Hercules chopped the head off the hydra, all it did was grow more heads. He had to deal with the body of the beast in order to destroy it.

The purpose of the church is to love all, and the purpose of a member of the church is represent God in every area of our life. It is not the purpose of the church to run the government but it the purpose of individual members of the church to represent Christ in the government. It is not the purpose of the church to force Christianity on anyone, but it is the purpose of the church to represent Christ to everyone.

Jesus never forced anyone to follow Him and God never forces anyone to conform to Him or His will. However, we will experience the full consequences of choosing not to. God can use us to work out His perfect plan for the ages whether we live in rebellion like Pharaoh, live in fear and failure for half our life like Moses, or live in steadfast obedience and faith like Joshua.

I would love to raise my Christian kids in a world full of melodies and butterflies, but it’s not looking to good for that, so my husband and I are preparing them to live in a world that hates them because they love Jesus. But do you know what our current day does for me as a believer? It makes me stand out. It makes me look, sound, think, and act different. In a world that screams hate, when I am found to be whispering sweet words of grace and love that does not condone sin, but instead points people to the reality that they do not have to remain slaves to it, it’s this whisper that catches the attention of the hurting… maybe not the evil… but the hurting. We have a nation FULL of hurting people.

We have a nation full of grown adults that were left to raise themselves. A nation full who were left to be taught their life convictions by the tv (and it wasn’t The Brady Bunch or Andy Griffith that they grew up watching). We have a nation full of men and women who were raised in fatherless and motherless homes by way of the selfish choices of those who were supposed to be willing to love them enough to live and die for them. We have a nation full of grown adults who were taught that they were an accident and nothing more than a glorified ape.

We have a nation full of grown adults who grew up in church being condemned, ignored, talked down to, or falsely hyped up with lies of a prosperity gospel that flowed freely from the lips of selfish men and women who, with a spirit of Balaam, told them what they wanted to hear in order to fill their own pockets and then left them with nothing to deal with the power of sin and the flesh and the deceitfulness of their heart. They either decided the people listening were too stupid to handle the doctrine of God, or they simply didn’t want them to know it, because then they would see them for who they truly were, wolves in sheep’s clothing.

I fear we have spent generations condemning sinners and giving grace to false prophets and false teachers. When we were supposed to be giving grace to sinners and condemning false prophets and false teachers. Our nation is backwards because the light started applauding the dark and we began glorifying the teachings of men and ignoring the teachings of Christ. We have too often put people on pedestals and made Christ an afterthought.

As a precept leader do you know how often I have heard Christians say that they don’t have time to study the Bible?

The world is going to get darker. Jesus told us that up front. He never sugar coated the reality of what it will mean to follow Him to the end. The world gets darker, but in its darkness the light of His church shines ever more brighter so that those who DO NOT LOVE the darkness can find that glimmer and follow it to the gospel of Jesus Christ and be transferred from this kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of Light by faith in Him.

In this world we have a bunch of people who are in bondage to immorality because they are powerless to fight against the impurities, passions, and evil desires in their own heart and minds because they do not have the Word of God dwelling in them. Many do not have the Word of God dwelling in them because those who should have it to share with them have not put off anger, wrath, malice, slander, abusive speech, and lies from themselves and therefore the message of the gospel is maligned and God is blasphemed among the lost. The true church of Jesus Christ is supposed to be known by our love for one another and our willingness to serve the least of these.

So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you. Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful. Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God. Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.

Colossians 3:12-17

In this short passage of Scripture the word thank is used three times in three different forms. After we are told to put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience, to bear one another, to forgive, and to love, we are told to be thankful. This phrase is the word eucharistos and it means well, grant freely, thankful for God’s grace working out what is (eternally) good. As a true believer I am able to put this list of things on and I am able to freely grant grace because I know that God is somehow, someway, at sometime going to work out what is eternally good.

In whatever we do, in whatever we say, we have to remember that if we profess to be a Christian, we are doing and saying it in the name of Jesus. So how are you telling and showing people Jesus through your words and deeds? If you are the only Jesus they ever meet would they be willing to come to Him and lay down their lives and take up their own cross and follow Him?

I understand this world is getting a little scary. I understand the fear that can be placed in our hearts and minds as we watch the news and hear of all the calamities and perversions and simple lack of common sense that permeates the highest offices in our land and the pulpits of many loosely called churches in our midst. However, we have been commanded by our God to not fear, to not be surprised, but to be awake, prepared, and ready to give an account for the hope we have because of the One in whom we have believed.

God specifically chose us for this day and this hour…

He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their habitation…

Acts 17:26

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Nevertheless, each person should live as a believer in whatever situation the Lord has assigned to them, just as God has called them. This is the rule I lay down in all the churches.

1 Corinthians 7:17

Does the Lord assign us to live as a believer in situations such as government and politics? Yes, He does.  So if you are there in that position, that situation, then you live for Him. Does the Lord assign us to live as a believer in situations of education and entertainment. Yes, He does. So if you are there in that position, that situation, then you live for Him. Does the Lord assign you to live as a believer in your office or on your job site, every day, before your co-workers? Yes, He does. No matter what, no matter where, we are to live for Him, through Him, and in Him so that others can see Him.

Called To A Cross

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Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory.

Colossians 3:1-4

The smallest words in Scripture come with the most punch and power. The words but, now, if, so, then, when, in, with… all are small little words that when used in the Word of God are packed with huge colossal life altering meaning. We seem to read the Scriptures and let the big words like predestination, justification, and propitiation cause us to claim that the Bible is to hard to understand and to read and to teach to our children, when all we need to do is focus on the little words, because if we do, the big ones will take care of themselves.

I love every book of the Bible, but there are a few that if I was stranded on a desert island and could only have one book of the Bible I could narrow it down. I would want Deuteronomy, Psalms, John, Romans, or Colossians. Currently I am teaching through Colossians, so this one is my present favorite. The book of Colossians is so relevant to our present day here in America. We have been fed so much crap in our Christianity that we have forgotten what being a follower of Christ actually means.

As I sat and listened to Wayne Barber teach from Colossians 3:1-4 after our last class, he shared about an illustration that someone used to teach him about salvation. He shared how it was a popular one, and it was, and is, because I have heard it too. He shared how the teacher would stand up front with a quarter in his hand and tell the group of kids in front of him that whoever wanted this could come and get it. He shared how the class would always be so timid that they no one would get up, but he knew the illustration so he always got up and grabbed the quarter and sat back down. The teacher would then share how salvation was a free gift and all you had to do was receive it… and although yes, it is true that salvation is a gift and it is free and it must be received, it is so much more.

Salvation is a call to a cross not just THE cross.

Salvation is not a quarter in God’s pocket that He passes out to those who are willing to come and jump in His lap. As Wayne Barber shared a “gift” in that sense can be lost, can be stuck away, can be taken back, can be received without any personal cost, this is not the way we receive salvation.

When God calls to you, when He holds His hand out to you, it’s not filled with a quarter. It’s filled with nails, and they are held in a nail scarred hand.

Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me.

Matthew 16:24

Salvation is a call to die. It’s a call to enter into the death of Christ so that you can be raised with Him a new creation. The old you put off, laid aside,  done away with, no more… for you were crucified with Christ, buried with Him, and raised with Him.

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In Colossians 3:4 we are taught that we have died and our life is hidden with Christ in God. In Ephesians 2:6 we are taught that we, now alive in Christ, are seated with Christ in the heavenly places with Him. In Galatians 2:20 we are taught that we have been crucified with Christ and that we no longer live, but Christ lives in us, and the life that we live here and now in this present flesh is lived by faith in the Son of God. Salvation is not a quarter that we tuck in the pocket of our heart. Salvation is a glorious exchange.

Now I say this, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. Behold, I tell you a mystery; we will not all sleep, but we will all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For this perishable must put on the imperishable, and this mortal must put on immortality. But when this perishable will have put on the imperishable, and this mortal will have put on immortality, then will come about the saying that is written, “Death is swallowed up in victory.

1 Corinthians 15:50-54

Salvation is kind of like the movie “Freaky Friday” when the mom and daughter exchange bodies. Remember how the mom woke up to discover that she was now living in the daughter’s body and the daughter awoke to discover that she was now living in the mom’s body? In the mind of God your life, your eternal beautiful life, is hidden with Christ in God seated with Him in the heavenlies and Christ is now in you, and your earthly body is now His, to be used by Him, through Him, and for Him to bring others to Him. You are not your own, you have been bought at a price (1 Corinthians 6:19-20).

This is the truth. This is being a new creature in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17). The old you is dead and the new you is being renewed and conformed into the image of the Son of God by the Holy Spirit who now lives in you.  If Christ is in you, then you are in the process of being changed.

Remember how in the movie the hearts of the mother and daughter were changed? This crazy exchange of bodies allowed the mother to see things through the eyes of her daughter and her daughter was able to see things through the eyes of her mother and now because of this new knowledge and wisdom and revelation of truth, they were forever changed.

Beloved, Christ came so that you could finally see things through the eyes of God. Unlike “Freaky Friday” He didn’t need to see things from our perspective, He came to earth and put on flesh so that He could die for us, not so He could understand us. We, however, will never truly see or understand the mind of God unless we have come to Him and trusted Him enough to take the nails out of His nailed scarred hands and come to our own cross by way of His.

For we do not preach ourselves but Christ Jesus as Lord, and ourselves as your bond-servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, “Light shall shine out of darkness,” is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the Light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ. But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves; we are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body. For we who live are constantly being delivered over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So death works in us, but life in you.

2 Corinthians 4:5-12

This is why if you have salvation you cannot lose is, it can’t be stuck away and hidden, it cannot be taken back, and it’s freely given but it indeed comes with a cost…  You can’t die, be buried, be raised, and be placed with Christ in God seated in the heavenlies and then be unseated, unraised, unburied, and undead to be dead in sin again. That’s where that little big word IF comes in…

Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ… (Colossians 3:1)

Count the cost beloved. Jesus did and counted you worthy. Now will you do the same?

Is He worthy?

Is He, His life in you, worth the cross?

This cross will mean that you willingly choose to keep seeking Christ. It means that you are willing to die to every desire, thought, and deed that is contrary to the Word of God. It means you trust Him and His Word, not your own heart and not the words of mere man that change according to culture and personal benefit.

Is He valuable enough to you that you are willing to die daily to the old you until the day that death is swallowed up in victory and you are revealed in Him and with Him in and with glory?

Are you reading this as someone who counted the cost and said yes to the cross, but you are MISERABLE because you have let the old self be resurrected and your mind and others are telling you that God has forgotten you, that He won’t forgive you, that He never really knew you?

Hear me loud and clear…

IF you are presently living and walking in things that you know are wrong, that you know are contrary to the truth of the word of God, that you know Christ died to save you from, then beloved if you are miserable that is NOT God condemning… that is HIS MERCY calling you. He is calling out to you to come back to Him. There is only one reason that sin can make you uncomfortable and cause you to hate yourself and that is because IT IS NO LONGER YOUR NATURE! 

Christ is calling you to come, to come and repent, and let Him wash your feet…

If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

1 John 1:9

Hanging By A Thread

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My church is reading through the Bible this year together. Our church has been been highly focused on the unity of the body of Christ. My husband and I picked up on this unity when we began visiting there two years ago and not long after we joined the church began purposely planning ways to grow this unity. We are all looking with hopeful expectation to see what the Lord will do through us as a local body as we grow more unified in Him through the study of His Word.

This looking with hopeful expectation is what stirred my heart in our One Year Bible reading the other day. I am currently in the book of Joshua. As I read of Rahab and the spies in Joshua 2, there was a verse that jumped out at me that I don’t believe has before in this way. That is part of the beauty and mystery of the Word of God, it’s living. You never stop learning from His Word and He speaks to you through it… if you are willing to listen.

Rahab had heard of the children of Israel along with everyone else in Jericho and all the neighboring cities around. The LORD had made quite a disturbance in the area from all that transpired in Egypt and in the wilderness up to the day that the children of Israel finally camped by the Jordan River. The once believed great gods of Egypt had been completely annihilated by the God of these Hebrew slaves and everyone was afraid and unsure of these people and this now very Known God.

Jericho had their own gods as well, all the nations did… but Rahab had decided that she was not going to trust in them. I have no doubt that God already had Rahab’s heart. It was no accident that these spies ended up at her house. This was a woman who was enslaved as well, not in physical chains, but by society and culture and the desperation to provide for her family, and I bet as the news of what happened in Egypt made its way past the walls of Jericho she cried out in her heart asking for the same deliverance that was granted the children of Israel be granted to her. The God of these Hebrew slaves, the Great I AM, heard her. He always, ALWAYS, answers a heart’s cry to know Him.

The spies came. Rahab hid them. She even lied to protect them. Then she told them how to escape and she asked them to spare her and her family when they came in to destroy the city. When it came time for the spies to leave they told her to hang a scarlet cord in the window so that they would know that she was the one to be delivered.

Behold, when we come into the land, you shall tie this scarlet cord in the window through which you let us down, and you shall gather into your house your father and mother, your brothers, and all your father’s household.

Joshua 2:18

I believe it was the spies that gave her the scarlet cord. In the book of Exodus we learn that when the Lord gave Moses instructions concerning the priest and the tabernacle scarlet yarn was a must in the carrying out of them. The curtains, the screen, the veil all were woven using scarlet yarn. All the scarlet yarn was gathered from donations given by the people of Israel which were collected from the Egyptians as they left the nation in haste after the tenth and final plague that brought the death of the firstborn of all not under the blood of the Lamb. This cord, this scarlet cord, was to be hung in her window when they came into the land.

However, it was not the scarlet cord that pricked me as I read this historical event again. Instead, this time, I noticed when Rahab hung this scarlet cord in her window.

And she said, “According to your words, so be it.” Then she sent them away, and they departed. And she tied the scarlet cord in the window.

Joshua 2:21

Rahab didn’t wait for the attack to hang the cord. She didn’t throw her opportunity for deliverance in a drawer to grab at a more opportune time. She didn’t didn’t put it in a safe place to come back to later. She also didn’t hide it in fear. She hung it right then.

How long did that cord hang in Rahab’s window?

The spies hid for three days before they even left the city (Joshua 2:22). Then they returned to Joshua and still had to cross the Jordan with all the people (Joshua 3). After crossing over all the males were circumcised and after they were healed from their circumcision they celebrated the Passover (Joshua 5). Then they still had to march around the wall of Jericho for seven days (Joshua 6).

Rahab had all that time to hang that scarlet cord. She had all that time to wait before she hung that thread of salvation in her window. Yet she didn’t wait. She hung it immediately.

She was hanging by a thread. A thread of a promise. A promise that she had placed not just herself in but all those she loved.

This scarlet cord hung in her window for all to see. She didn’t care. She wasn’t waiting for a sign of the coming attack. She was NOT taking any chances of it not being there when the time came. She was not only trusting in the promise of this scarlet cord to deliver her in the day, she was trusting it to keep her until that day.

Rahab could hang by a thread… because Rahab’s hope wasn’t in the thread of that scarlet cord, it wasn’t in the spies, it wasn’t in their promise to her. She didn’t know these men, but she knew their God. Her hope was in Him. Her hope was in the One who watched over the promise made by the spies who handed her that scarlet cord. She knew that He was no ordinary god, but He was THE GOD!

for the Lord your God, he is God in the heavens above and on the earth beneath. Now then, please swear to me by the Lord that, as I have dealt kindly with you, you also will deal kindly with my father’s house, and give me a sure sign that you will save alive my father and mother, my brothers and sisters, and all who belong to them, and deliver our lives from death.

Joshua 2:11-13

Rahab was able to immediately hang that scarlet cord in her window because she was not ashamed and she was not afraid. She knew the One in whom she believed and she knew He was able to deliver her…

She no longer was a slave to fear. She no longer was a slave to the culture in which she lived. She no longer was a slave to the ridicule of others. She didn’t care what they had to say about that scarlet cord hanging in her window. She made a public display of her faith.

For this reason I also suffer these things, but I am not ashamed; for I know whom I have believed and I am convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him until that day.

2 Timothy 1:12

She didn’t know when God was coming for her… she just knew she was going to be ready when He came.

For this reason you also must be ready; for the Son of Man is coming at an hour when you do not think He will.

Matthew 24:44

Hiro and Microbots and Christ and the Church

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This month I am teaching the preschoolers at PromiseLand about the church. Last month I focused on Jesus and His life, death, burial, and resurrection, so obviously the next thing is the church. To make this transition from the cross and resurrection I backed the kids up to the life of Christ and what He was doing the three years of His public ministry. We talked about some of the miracles He performed and we talked about how everyone all around was talking about this man named Jesus.

In the 16th chapter of Matthew we have Jesus walking with His disciples and He asks them amidst all the fuss, “who do people say the Son of Man is” (Matthew 16:13)? The disciples ramble off several of the top declarations that were going around town, but then Jesus asked them, “who do you say that I am?”. It doesn’t really matter who others think Jesus is, it only matters who you think He is. Peter boldly declares that He is the Christ, the Son of the Living God (Matthew 16:17) and Jesus then tells him that it is upon the rock that He will build His church.

After sharing this Scripture with my preschoolers I showed them this picture,

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and I asked them if this is what Jesus meant when He told Peter that upon this rock He would build His church. At first they were not sure, but then I reminded them that we had just learned that Jesus was the Rock. So if Jesus was the rock, then who is the church? At this point I showed them a picture of a group of kids. They then learned that people are the church. We who believe are the church.

This brought me to our new verse, 1 Corinthians 6:19,

Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own?

Before the cross the Lord made His presence known through all creation. He has always left us a witness and a testimony of truth. Then the Lord called out Abraham and from Abraham He called out a nation to be His. This nation was to live by His laws and commands because out of them would come our Savior.

God was at work in our fallen world preserving His promise of redemption and restoration that He made to Adam and Eve all the way back in the beginning. His Spirit was placed on individuals for moments to allow them to do His will at a particular time, yet His Spirit would leave. His Spirit was with those who sought God, but now in Christ, because our sin was dealt with, His Spirit could now LIVE IN us and would never leave us again.

His Spirt in us unites us to serve Him in a way that was never possible before. This is why Jesus told His disciples,

But I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you.

John 16:7

As I was thinking about what this new age means, this church age, this age of Christ in us the hope of glory, and the fact that when we receive Him as our Lord and Savior we are united in Him to serve Him. As I thought about how all who believe are now supposed to be one in Him, I thought of this part in a movie called, Big Hero 6:

One lone microbot could not do much. It could not hold anyone up. It could not take anyone anywhere. It could not build upon itself. However when it linked up with all the other microbots there was nothing they could not do together.

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 16:18

What made the microbots so powerful was their working in unity. They did not all do the same thing, but when each did what they were individually called to do in the group of microbots, then they were powerful.

The power behind the microbots and their unity in their individuality was the fact that each one microbot was being controlled by the same one thought. They all served Hiro. When they were no longer connected to him they were powerless. No longer held together in unity by Him, the microbots simply crumbled to the floor defeated and lifeless.

There is one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all. But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift. Therefore  it says, When He ascended on highHe led captive a host of captivesAnd He gave gifts to men.” (Now this expression, “He ascended,” what does it mean except that He also had descended into the lower parts of the earth? He who descended is Himself also He who ascended far above all the heavens, so that He might fill all things.) And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ.

Ephesians 4:4-13

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He is also head of the body, the church

Colossians 1:18

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Let no one keep defrauding you of your prize by delighting in self-abasement and the worship of the angels, taking his stand on visions he has seen, inflated without cause by his fleshly mind, and not holding fast to the head, from whom the entire body, being supplied and held together by the joints and ligaments, grows with a growth which is from God.

Colossians 2:18-19

The microbots are not trying tell each other what they should do and how they should do it. There are not divisions of microbots that are trying to tell the other microbots how to do the microbot thing right. No, they are each one individually connected to the head, each one being controlled by the head, yet somehow all working together in unity.

Oh church this is our greatest secret to the world. If we, each one, will hold fast to the Head, to Christ, then we will be like those microbots. We will be able to be the hands and feet and mouth and eyes and ears of Christ. We will be able to be the path of and to the Way, the Truth, and the Life. We will serve in a unity that shocks our community and our world.

One microbot didn’t turn anyone’s head. Yet when they all joined together and worked individually in perfect unity people stopped to watch. However also notice that they worked together for purpose, for benefit, for good works… not to just put on a show.

For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.

Ephesians 2:10

Today is Sunday. Christians will meet today all over the world. We have a choice as we meet. We can spend our time this morning talking about the world events, teaching the traditions of men, and puffing ourselves up with emotional experiences or we can empty ourselves and lay it all down at the foot of the cross and seek Christ and Christ alone.

Seek His thoughts.

Seek His will.

Seek His ways.

Seek Him.

If we will all die to ourselves and take up our cross and follow Him imagine what that would look like! United in our message, in the gospel of Christ. United in His Spirit that dwells individually within all who believe. United together in love, by love, for love. Hiro and his microbots would have nothing on Christ and His church!

Why Not Rejoice?

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Blessed are you when people hate you, and when they exclude you, and revile you, and spurn your name as evil, on account of the Son of Man. Rejoice in that day, and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven…

But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for He is kind to the ungrateful and the evil. Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.

(Luke 6:22-23, 35-36 ESV)

I was in the midst of my morning time with the Lord, ( He has been working on me fiercely these past many years) as I began crying out to Him this morning I started my prayer in remembrance of His sovereignty. I started out acknowledging that I knew that nothing happened unless it first passed through His hands and was purposely permitted by Him. I also had to acknowledge to Him that knowing these solid foundational Scriptural truths did not make the reality of these experiences any easier… and He quietly and softly reminded me that they didn’t have to… that wasn’t the point of knowing them.

Pain is pain.

Hurt is hurt.

Truth doesn’t make it go away. Quoting Scripture back to myself doesn’t make it go away. Knowing God is sovereign over it all doesn’t make it easier to bare… but that’s the problem. Who decided that it was supposed to? Who told me that lie and when did I accept it as truth? The purpose of this lie was to cause me to doubt the love that my Creator God said He had for me.

There is only one who works to cause doubt, which leads to disobedience, which leads to deception, which leads to death… and that is the enemy of old. The one who first caused Eve to doubt, disobey, deceive, and die. I will not be his victim. I will learn from the examples that the Lord has given me in His Word. I will choose to learn from Eve’s mistake instead of following in her footsteps.

I am currently reading The Calvary Road by Roy Hession. In this book I underlined these two quotes:

  1. If someone hurts and slights us, we immediately have the choice of accepting the slight as a means of grace to humble us lower or we can resist it and stiffen our necks again with all the disturbance of spirit that is bound to bring. All the way through the day our brokenness will be tested, and it is no use pretending we are broken before God if we are not broken in our attitude to those around us. God nearly always tests us through other people. There are no second causes for the Christian. God’s will is made known in His providence, and His providences are so often others with their many demands on us.
  2. So the real test along the Highway will be- are our cups running over? Have we the peace of God in our hearts? Have we love and concern for others? These things are the barometer of the Highway. If they are disturbed, then sin has crept in somewhere- self-pity, self-seeking, self-indulgence in thought or deed, sensitiveness, touchiness, self-defense, self-consciousness, shyness, reserve, worry, fear, and so on.

Who was I to think that I deserved better treatment from the world than the Son of the Living God? I belong to the One that the world hates. I belong to the One that makes others uncomfortable. I belong to the Truth teller and frankly many simply have a hard time with truth. They prefer to live comfortably in their own well-developed lie.

The past many years the Lord has been removing scales from my eyes and fairy tales from my heart. He has been teaching me to love Him and trust Him in depths that few will follow Him into. I will continue to walk deeper still. As deeply plunged beneath the blood of His Son as His hands would bid me go… I will go. I will let Him rip out every ounce of pride and selfish desires that He will that I might walk in a manner that is worthy of service to Him.

Whatever wounds I might receive cannot compare with the ones that He bore for me. I am tired of walking around this mountain of doubt and I am ready to jump off the cliff of abandoned trust. I understand that I will bounce off trees and rocks and probably fall into a few ravines that I have to crawl up out of as I make this leap, but if it brings death in me and exalts my Christ, then let it be.  I want to grow to a place in my walk with Him that allows no thing or no one to disturb the peace of God in my heart, for He is my peace.

So when hurt comes, when pain comes, why not rejoice?

Why not rejoice…

Yes, Lord I will indeed learn to rejoice.

What About God In A Body

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This morning I read a post from RZIM entitled, God in a Body. In the post Jill Carattini asks, “Far from a subject for another time or place, how might God be speaking to your physical existence even now? How does your body accompany your questions and encounters with God? In the dark and corporeal moments of Holy Week, consider Christ who walked among the world as a human body, who shared a last meal and washed the feet of his friends, who set his face toward the anguish of the cross. Consider the body of Christ, who suffered through the weight of Holy Week and now sits at the right hand of the Father as our advocate, offering his body for the sake of yours, calling you to physically come further toward him even now.”

This past week in our Colossians lesson Wayne Barber made a statement, he said, “the purpose of a body is to give visibility to an entity.” This statement of his really resonated with me. I know it has because this is the third time it has come to me as I shared with others.

So why did God come in a body?

Jesus, came in a body to give us visibility to the Entity of God.

Dictionary.com states that an entity is something that has a real existence, being or existence especially when considered as distinct, independent, or self-contained, essential nature.

In Colossians 1:15-19 the Word of God states, that Jesus “is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created through Him and for Him. He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. He is also head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He Himself will come to have first place in everything. For it was the Father’s good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him…” and then in Colossians 2:9 the Word of God declares, “For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form…” Jesus Himself said that, “He who has seen Me has seen the Father;” (John 14:9). 

Jesus came to show us what He created us in His image to do in the very beginning. We were created to give visibility to the entity of God. We were created to display His glory. We were created to be who Jesus was as He walked this earth in real flesh and blood. So what does it mean to me that God came in a body just so that I could visibly see that He is indeed real and how does that correlate with the body that He has given me?

I watch Jesus.

Whether we like it or not what we choose to do in and with this body displays the essential nature of our being. The purpose of this body is to display our nature and beloved it does. Our bodies either display the depravity of our nature or the divineness of our nature. In the flesh Jesus displayed the divine, and He died so that we, in this body, could do the same.

To those who have received a faith of the same kind as ours, by the righteousness of our God and Savior, Jesus Christ: Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord; seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence. For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature…

2 Peter 1:1-4

What is the divine nature that we are to display? Is it speaking in tongues and casting out demons and making grand displays of signs and power? Is it the ability to out wit and persuade others by our grand knowledge and charisma? Is it the ability to be stoic and stern and unbendable in our convictions? Are these the things that Jesus did in His body that drew others to Him? Is this how He displayed the divine nature of God in His flesh?

No it wasn’t.

The divine nature that Jesus displayed was grace and truth. The divine nature that Jesus displayed was submission to the Word and will of God. The divine nature that Jesus displayed was love, for God is love (1 John 4:16).

Jesus could have walked around and shot lightening bolts from His fingertips and fire from His eyes. He could have shook the earth with every step He made. He could have used the thunder of His voice to silence the roaring waters of Niagara Falls… but He didn’t.

although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.

Philippians 2:6-8

Instead he knelt down and gathered children into His arms. He stopped and noticed those that others stepped over on a daily basis. He listened to the cries of those who had so often been ignored. He spoke to those that others treated as less than stray dogs on the street. His divine nature was displayed through His heart of compassion, His gentleness, His kindness, His patience, His humility, and His self-control. This is the divine nature of God. It has been from the beginning…

The Lord descended in the cloud and stood there with him as he called upon the name of the Lord. Then the Lord passed by in front of him and proclaimed, “The Lord, the Lord God, compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in lovingkindness and truth; who keeps lovingkindness for thousands, who forgives iniquity, transgression and sin…

Exodus 34:5-7

Jesus displayed these things in His body all the way to the cross. The purpose of the body is to give visibility to an entity. It never stops doing that, even when faced with destruction, it can’t, for that is its purpose. The outside circumstances did not control the body of Christ, but His entity, the very nature within, controlled the body.

So what does God in a body mean to me?

The Scriptures tell me that when I believe on Jesus, then I am placed in His death, His burial, and His resurrection (Romans 6:3-5). The Scriptures tell me that it is no longer I that live, but Christ in me (Galatians 2:20). The Scriptures tell me that when I, by grace through faith, believe in Jesus and His gospel, then I am sealed with the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 1:13), and my body becomes the temple of God (1 Corinthians 3:16).

In other words, God in a body.

My body.

The entity within is no longer my old nature (Ephesians 2:3), but in Christ I have been given a new nature (2 Corinthians 5:17). I have been given Him within (Colossians 1:27). Therefore this body that once made visible me, my entity, and the nature of my sin now is to make visible the entity of Christ in me the hope of glory. God in a body, this body, my body.

As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world. For their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they themselves also may be sanctified in truth. I do not ask on behalf of these alone, but for those also who believe in Me through their word; that they may all be one; even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe that You sent Me. The glory which You have given Me I have given to them, that they may be one, just as We are one; I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected in unity, so that the world may know that You sent Me, and loved them, even as You have loved Me.

John 17:18-23

This is why Paul would write to Titus in 62 AD concerning the false teachers and false prophets of Crete…

They profess to know God, but by their deeds they deny Him,

Titus 1:16

God does not just call our hearts, He calls our bodies to follow Him. If our hearts have truly been changed then our body can’t help but follow, because the purpose of the body is to give visibility to an entity and if you have been truly born again, then the entity, the essential nature within, is now divine. It is now love.  It is Christ in you. Therefore we too should be making known the mystery of God to others as Christ made it known to us, through grace and truth and love.

So take a look in the mirror. For once don’t look at the bags under your eyes or the wrinkles around your mouth or the blemishes on your skin. Don’t look at the skinny arms or bulging waistline or varicose veins or cellulite legs. Don’t strain to find the grey hair or run your fingers through the receding hairline. Instead look past all that to the deeds in this skin. What do they say about the entity that is being given visibility?

When I look in the mirror can I see Christ in me? Have I ever really been changed from within? Do I live what I say I believe?

Do others see Jesus in me?

Courage

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I wrote this poem for my mother and put it on this picture that my youngest daughter drew two years ago when our family began a walk into the hardest journey that our Lord has ever placed us on. I share it today for anyone else who needs to remember that the Lord is with you and that in Him you have all the courage that you need to face whatever is before you.

Courage

Crossing into a season that one never expected to see
Opens doors of fear and doubt that were hidden within the
soul deep
Under this life’s trials and tribulations one can easily
crumble beneath
Raise me up my Jesus and gift me with Your strength
Amaze me with Your grace that You promised sufficient to be
Ground me in Your Word, let Your Holy Spirit speak
Everlasting Father, Mighty God, and Prince of Peace…
my Wonderful Counselor, my courage for today I ask You to be

~ nlhv

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Sending Someone Your Positive Thoughts

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Not long ago here in North Alabama we had some fisherman who came up missing. One of these two men was a member of a very popular local band. As I checked to confirm to my husband if this was who we thought it was I also discovered something disturbing. At least it was disturbing to me and my husband. As the group asked for support and prayers they also asked for positive thoughts, tweets, and FB shares claiming that this would send positive energy out into the universe.

I wish I could say this thinking was limited to a rare few, but sadly in today’s modern America it is now common. I have lost count of the times I have seen this as I was scrolling through my news feed. So many asking for others to pray for them and send them positive thoughts. Sadly these words are even pouring forth from the lips and fingertips of those who profess to know Christ.

The positive thinking movement and positive psychology derive from the New Thought Movement, at the origin of positive thinking.

This movement took place during the last part of the nineteenth century and the beginning of the twentieth century mainly in North America.

Religious men (thinkers, philosophers, businessmen) started to write about the power of thoughts and positive thinking from a secular point of view.

The writing of several authors surrounds the origin of positive thinking. Their essays, poems and non-fiction writing were focused on the importance of thoughts and the mind: Ralph Waldo Emerson, Ernest Holmes, Orison Swett Marden, William James,Emile Coue, etc.

The origin of positive thinking in our modern society is normally placed upon the publication of two books after the Great Depression in 1929: ‘How to win friends and influence people’, by Dale Carnegie, and ‘Think and grow rich’, by Napoleon Hill.

In 1952 Norman Vincent Peale published ‘The power of positive thinking’, which was a Christian version of positive thinking. Peale founded the ‘Guideposts’ magazine.

A great influence in the field of positive thinking is also Earl Nightingale, who published ‘The strangest secret’ in 1957, the first positive thinking audio recording.

It was initially created by Nightingale for his sales staff while he was away from the business. The strangest secret is “We become what we think about”.

Maxwell Maltz published ‘Psycho-cybernetics’ in 1960, in which he explains how the mind works and how to use positive thinking, and also proposes exercises to train the mind.

Positive thinking is applied to many different fields in the twenty-first century: in business and sales, in health, sports, children education, psychology, motivation and inspiration, self-image, or marketing.” (information gathered from a Positive Thinking Information website)

This positive thinking movement is rooted in an ancient Chinese religion known today as Taoism. Here is a little bit about this ancient religion:

The lines above are the opening lines of the Dao De Jing (The Way of Power and Virtue Scripture, 道德经) that is the main religious text of Taoism. How to translate the words into English and what the words mean is obviously the mystery of Dao. The word Dao means Way. The Way of Life. The Meaning of one’s life. In usual Chinese usage, the word “dao” means path or road. Nowadays, the name Taoism is used as a general name for any kind of native Chinese religion or ancient belief. The term covers anything from Qigong or Tai Chi exercise, to ancestor worship, to belief in any of hundreds of gods or reputed immortal people, to martial arts, to healthful food recipes to Taoist philosophy.

On one hand, very few modern Mainland Chinese would say that they are Taoist if they were asked what their religion is. Usually, people identify themselves as without a religion or as Buddhists, Muslims or Christians. On the other hand, the philosophies and religious ideas of the many faceted Taoism are a part of Chinese culture itself and in the personal beliefs of hundreds of millions of people even if they identify themselves as Christian or Muslim. If they believe in Chi, the balancing of Yin and Yang, or venerate their ancestors thinking that their ancestors acknowledge or somehow need their veneration (that is, that their ancestors still exist), they can be called Taoists. Taoism is basically a term for China’s indigenous philosophies and religious beliefs, and as defined this way, it has always been China’s main religion that colors all the others.

Daoism is China’s oldest religion. At one time, the land called China was the home of numerous peoples with different racial origins. All these ethnic groups probably had their own special gods and religious beliefs. Over time, kingdoms and empires grew in various areas and started incorporating more and more people into them.” (information gathered from a China Highlights travel website)

Sometime between 52 AD and 62 AD a young man named Epaphras traveled to Ephesus. While there he heard the gospel of Jesus Christ proclaimed straight from the lips of a man named Paul. Epaphras believed on Jesus and was saved and he went home to Colosse and told those there about Jesus and the gospel bore fruit and many were saved.

Now Colosse was right slap dab in the midst of a world trade route. It was filled with people from many different cultures and religions, especially from eastern China. As a matter of fact it was actually a hub of eastern mysticism. Epaphras began to see an infiltration of this eastern mysticism into the doctrine of the church, it was called Gnosticism. Epaphras saw the danger, but being such a young believer he did not know how to fight it, so he ran to Paul for help. Therefore Paul wrote a letter to the Colossians. A letter that is just as relevant today as we now face the same exact spiritual cancer among our own.

Paul wrote,

See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ.

Colossians 2:8

Beloved there is nothing knew under the sun. There is nothing new about this positive thinking movement nor the pursuit of knowledge as the answer to all things wrong in our world. It’s all rooted way back in the beginning with that conversation between Eve and the Serpent and the warning from God to not eat of the fruit of the tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.

The greatest lies are filled with mostly truth, but just as there is not enough health in an apple to keep a drop of TIMET from destroying you, it doesn’t matter the amount of truth the lie contains, if you believe it, just as if you ate the apple laced with TIMET, you will die.

For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.

Romans 1:25

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“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.’

Matthew 7:21-23

This is the way a false teacher and a false prophet work. They feed you mostly truth, but it is laced with a lie. If anyone preaches anything other than Christ crucified as your salvation, if anyone claims that you need Jesus and, if anyone declares to you that you need to go outside the Word of God to obtain growth in your spirit, if anyone claims that you need prayers and positive thinking, then beloved they lie.

You don’t need positive thinking, you need the Word of God renewing your mind (Psalm 119:97-99, Romans 12:1-2). In the letter to the Philippians, Paul writes:

Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.

Philippines 4:8 

But this verse is followed by:

The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.

Philippians 4:9

Positive thinking means nothing, practicing the truth of the Word of God however means everything.

Philippians 4:8 is also preceded by:

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice! Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:4-7

Do not be deceived (Deuteronomy 11:16, 1 Corinthians 6:9, Galatians 6:7). Do not be deluded (Isaiah 47:10, Colossians 2:4, James 1:22). Do not allow anyone to defraud you of your prize that is yours in Christ, if you are indeed in Him (Isaiah 29:21, Colossians 2:18)! Precious one, your prize is Christ and He is all and is in all. Absolutely nothing is needed outside of Him.

There is none true, honorable, right, pure, lovely, and admirable but Christ Himself.  Think on Him and all of His benefits (Psalm 103:2, Psalm 116:12). If you have Him you have everything and beloved the only thing that you have to send to anyone else to help in their time of need is Him.

Your positive thoughts are meaningless.

For My thoughts are not your thoughts,
Nor are your ways My ways,” declares the Lord.
“For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
So are My ways higher than your ways
And My thoughts than your thoughts.

Isaiah 55:8-9

Your prayers are meaningless if they are not lifted up in the Holy Spirit and laid in the trustworthy hands of Christ.

In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words;

Romans 8:26

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Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us.

Romans 8:34

You don’t need Jesus and an experience.

You don’t need Jesus and positive thinking.

You don’t need Jesus and a prayer cloth.

You don’t need Jesus and exercise.

You don’t need Jesus and a seminary degree.

You don’t need Jesus and a healthy diet.

You don’t need Jesus and an angel.

You don’t need Jesus and a vision.

You don’t need Jesus and an offering.

You don’t need Jesus and anything.

You just need Jesus.

In Him is everything.

Just take a moment and read through the book of Colossians and underline every single occurrence of the phrase, “in Him” and see for yourself.

Oh beloved, let us not send our “positive thoughts” out to anyone, let us send out the sure promises of our God!

For the Son of God, Christ Jesus, who was preached among you by us—by me and Silvanus and Timothy—was not yes and no, but is yes in Him. For as many as are the promises of God, in Him they are yes; therefore also through Him is our Amen to the glory of God through us.

2 Corinthians 1:19-20

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Momma, Look At My Hands!

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I am currently teaching through the book of Colossians. Oh friend I could write for days on the beauty of the truths discovered and revealed in the first two verses alone! I love this book. It is so very relevant to our present times here in the United States of America.

I always begin my journey into teaching a new study by reading the entire book that I will be digging into several times before I even open the study guide. I was doing this one afternoon while I was waiting during our youngest daughter’s gymnastics practice. She began taking gymnastics this past August.

For a little background, we only allowed our two youngest children to focus on one sport because they also are involved in music and theatre. The sport our two youngest chose was softball. However, several years ago our Bekah began to desire to be a gymnast. We told her she needed to be sure, because once she began gymnastics, softball was over. She would be forsaking softball and turning only to gymnastics.

After wavering a couple of years, this past summer she hung up her cleats and picked up a leotard. She began gymnastics at eleven years old only knowing how to do a cartwheel, but we have watched her passion grow and increase for the sport. She practices every day… in the house… in the yard… we actually have had to get on to her to stand on her feet and not her hands when we are in public.

Even though she was now capable of these wowing stunts, there was something missing. Her heart still craved something to validate that she was indeed a real gymnast. The ability to walk on her hands and do back flips and splits and turn on a balance beam simply were not enough. There are many that can do those things, but they are not gymnasts.

Then it happened.

I saw her face as she was opening  the door. I am sitting there reading through Colossians and she, grinning ear to ear, jumps in the car and gleefully says, “Momma, look at my hands!”

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“Momma, look at my hands! I got my first rips! Now I am a real gymnast!”

It wasn’t the ability to do the tricks that made her a gymnasts. It was the ability to be torn in the process and yet persevere and come back for more. It was the scars that she would bear on her body for all to see when she couldn’t do the tricks that would prove that she was indeed a gymnast.

Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I do my share on behalf of His body, which is the church, in filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions.

Colossians 1:24

Having just read this passage of Scripture, I asked her to show me her hands again so that I could take a picture of them. I felt this moment of hers was a beautiful illustration of what Paul wrote to not just the saints in Colosse, but also to the saints in Rome, and in Galatia.

The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him.

Romans 8:16-17

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From now on let no one cause trouble for me, for I bear on my body the brand-marks of Jesus.

Galatians 6:17

When we go back to the very beginning of the church this was the frame of mind of all who believed in Jesus. If they were really His… they did not cry “woe as me” in their suffering for His name. No they instead rejoiced in their suffering.

So they went on their way from the presence of the Council, rejoicing that they had been considered worthy to suffer shame for His name.

Acts 5:41

This is why when Jesus was here He said, “You will be hated by all because of My name, but it is the one who has endured to the end who will be saved” (Matthew 10:22). Then in Matthew 24:13 He warns, “Because lawlessness is increased, most people’s love will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end, he will be saved.” In the parable of the sower and the seed He taught, “The one on whom seed was sown on the rocky places, this is the man who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; yet he has no firm root in himself, but is only temporary, and when affliction or persecution arises because of the word, immediately he falls away” (Matthew 13:20:21).

You see my Bekah knew that a real gymnast was one that persevered through the pain of the rips. A real gymnast didn’t quit because they couldn’t just do the fun flips and tricks. A real gymnast had to learn to fall and to stretch and to grab hold of that bar again even when their hands are torn and sore.

Jesus proclaimed the same. A real believer would bear the scars. A real believer would be one who followed Jesus in the perseverance of their faith. A real believer was not just one that could do cool tricks and talk in flips and spin pretty words. A real believer was one who rejoiced and counted it all joy when their hands bore the rips of holding tightly to the raised bar of genuine faith in Christ.

A real believer would be one who learned how to fall and to be stretched and yet jump up and go again because from each trial they would grow. With each trial wisdom would come. With each trial our faith becomes even more firm and resolute. Not unlike my daughters hands… those rips will build callousness. Those rips though painful now will make her hands more strong, her skin more thick, and through them her hands will be able to bear up under more and more pressure allowing her to do more than she ever imagined she physically could.

Oh beloved of God… Can’t you just see our Jesus running up to His Father and saying “Father, look at my hands!” We know that He turned to Thomas who doubted and said, “see My hands” (John 20:27). Jesus persevered, even to the point of death on a cross.

Oh beloved are we willing to forsake all other things and pour all our passion into the One Thing matters? Are we willing to turn our backs to the world and our face to the Son and follow Him no matter the cost. He was willing to do it for us, might we honor Him by being willing to do the same.

Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.

James 1:12

We Don’t Have That Story

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I know most everyone likes to hear the stories and give the grand applause to a God who heals and delivers the way that we think He should have.

We don’t have that story.

I know most everyone likes to hear about how someone prayed the top ten healing Scriptures over their loved ones and circled them in prayer because that’s the book they were reading at the time and it worked.

We don’t have that story.

I know most everyone likes to hear about those that say they used the power of the blood and their spoken words to declare divine healing and cast out sickness and send it to hell and command health to enter the body of their loved one because by His stripes we are healed.

We don’t have that story.

I know most people like to hear the stories about how someone fasted and prayed and stood in the gap for a loved one and God said stop all treatment and trust in Me and you will be healed… and they did and they were.

We don’t have that story.

We prayed. We bought books. We fasted. We even got caught up for a moment in the bondage of speaking healing. We were that desperate. Beloved let me tell you that the weight of condemnation that can be poured out on you by the enemy of our souls when you watch cancer eat away three of your family members at the same time… it’s rough.

So we don’t have the story that is going to make others feel good and want a God that answers prayers. We have another story.

We have the story of a God that is still worthy of all our praise when He doesn’t answer your prayers. We have the story of a God whose grace has been sufficient thus far to carry us day by day and literally moment by moment when the next thought felt like more than you could bear on your own.

We have the story of a God who so loved us and the world that He sent His one and only begotten Son so that whosoever believed in Him would not perish but would have eternal life (John 3:16). We have the story of a God who came in the flesh to dwell among us and to die for us so that we could be justified (Romans 5:9), but then was raised so that we too could be made alive in Him, reborn not by flesh but by God Himself (Colossians 2:13).

We have the story of a God that has gifted us with the hope of this gospel (Colossians 1:23). A hope that is an anchor for our soul and is sure and steadfast and set securely within the veil (Hebrews 6:19).

We have the story of a God who is worthy of our worship and allegiance even when we did not receive the promises we thought we should when we thought we should have received them (Hebrews 11:39). We have the story of a God who is still good when life is not.

We have this story.

Last night as I listened to Wayne Barber teach on the subject of false teachers and those who could be deceived he shared a list of the characteristics of those who are easily enticed by false teachers.

  • those who have not made a determined commitment to obey God at all cost (Luke 9:51)
  • those who are not trusting Jesus  (Romans 16:25)
  • those who are not in the Word of God (2 Peter 1:12, John 17:17)
  • those who rebel in trials instead of endure (1 Peter 5:10)

In the book of Luke when Mary is standing in the temple with the baby Jesus in her arms a man named Simon comes in the the Spirit to the temple and he blesses God and after the blessing he looks to Mary and he says,

Behold, this Child is appointed for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and for a sign to be opposed—and a sword will pierce even your own soul—to the end that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed.

Luke 2:34-35

When the sword pierces your soul you discover the thoughts from many hearts… not just your own. When the sword is driving into your own heart and it’s stabbing pain is slicing deep within the recesses of your soul you will either fall on this sword and die or you will grab hold with both hands and allow God to use this sword to continue to circumcise you with a circumcision without hands (Colossians 2:11). This sword is cutting away the flesh and exposing the soul and revealing the heart and in this pain you will have to choose to either endure or recoil. You will discover in this moment if you really believe the gospel; if you really believe John 14:1-6.  You will discover if you really believe John 11:25 and Romans 8:18.

Is God real?

Is there really hope?

Have I really committed to following Jesus and obeying God’s Word no matter what? Am I really trusting in Jesus for everything and in everything? Do I love Him enough to endure this fiery trial or am I going to rebel against Him, because I really wasn’t following Jesus for Jesus, but for me and what I thought I would benefit from Him?

Is He and He alone enough?

When everything is taken away and all you have is Him will you still praise Him?