God is sovereign, and the sovereignty of God means that He is self-contained, complete in Himself, and has need of nothing apart from Himself. There is nothing that happens which is beyond His influence, or His authority. There is nothing that He is not aware of. He has no limits and there is no measure to His power. He is the ultimate source of all power, authority, and everything that exists.
Colossians 1:16 “God created all things and holds all things together, both in heaven and on earth, both visible and invisible”.
Revelation 21:6 “God is above all things and before all things. He is the alpha and the omega, the beginning and the end. He is immortal, and He is present everywhere so that everyone can know Him”.
Having said all that, how amazing is it that the sovereign God decided He would empty Himself and become as you and me, in a flesh body, being tempted with all manner of things we are tempted and tested by, so that He could accomplish our salvation and show us what He can do through the same human form as we have, with the same spirit that is available to us. But even greater in my mind is the fact that God made himself subject to Mary and Joseph, subject to earthly authority, subject to those who would condemn Him, scourge Him, and crucify Him, when He had the power to call legions of angels to destroy them all… But He became subject to man so that Satan’s power could be broken, and believers could have access to His power and authority to expand His kingdom in the earth and reconcile the world unto Himself.
GOD MADE HIMSELF SUBJECT TO MAN…. So that mankind could return to the relationship which He had with Adam and Eve before the fall…. The age of innocence, of righteousness and Godliness….
One of the most incredible statements in the entire bible is found in
Isaiah 45:11 “Thus says the LORD, the Holy One of Israel, and his Maker, Ask Me of things to come and concerning the work of My hands, command ye me”. COMMAND YE ME!!!
What a statement…. That the sovereign God, who is self-contained, complete in Himself, and has need of nothing apart from Himself, would say to inferior beings such as us, “COMMAND ME”…..
As I try to wrap my head around that, I must also search out it’s meaning and how that would possibly operate in our lives, and at the same time not violate the sovereignty of God!
I believe we can get good insight on this, from a scripture found in
Hebrews 6:13 “For when God made a promise to Abraham, since he had no one greater by whom to swear, he swore by himself, 14 saying, “Surely I will bless you and multiply you.” 15 And thus Abraham, having patiently waited, obtained the promise.
v16 For people swear by something greater than themselves, and in all their disputes an oath is final for confirmation. 17 So when God desired to show more convincingly to the heirs of the promise the unchangeable character of his purpose, he guaranteed it with an oath, 18 so that by two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie..”
When God says “I swear to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, then He is bound by the truth He has sworn by”….
To violate one word that He has sworn by Himself that He would do, would compromise His sovereignty. Basically, He would have to resign as God.
If you swear to someone that you would do something, and you swear it by your reputation, your family name, and Your track record of faithfulness, righteousness and perfection…. And you break your promise and fail to fulfill your vow… Your word is no good and should not be trusted.
We all have a problem with the “Do as I say not as I do” type of leadership….And certainly if someone is GOD, they could be that kind of being, I mean what could anyone do about it….. If our parents tell us to make our bed or pick up our room, but they don’t do what they’re telling us to do, it lacks a lot of credibility.
If they tell us to put sunscreen on when they’re not, or eat a nutritious meal when they’re not, it’s not very convincing. It’s about something called “mirror actions,” where children arehard-wired to act just like their parents do, after all, children want to be Just Like Us, from walking and talking to emulating behaviors and worldviews. They are greatly influenced by what we do and say….
One guy says that when he was growing up, his dad told them they should treat him like a god...so they pretty much ignored him until they were sick, hurt, or broke or generally needed something.
God puts it all on the line when He says He will do something…by laying His own reputation as God on the line….How much more could He do to show us His love, concern and compassion, than become one of us and struggle as we struggle, weep as we weep, bleed as we bleed, and experience weariness, weakness, pain, and suffering….. To care enough to place himself in subjection to the injustice, unfairness, cruelty, greed, prejudice, and judgmentalism that mankind must deal with…. I would believe a God like that, and I trust His word and His intentions.
So now, we come back to this amazing statement God makes…when he tells those He created…. “Command Ye Me”…. Our God is a God of integrity, who will always back up what He says and He will authorize those who act on it to be able to perform it, because He has bound Himself to His word.
Numbers 23:19 “God is not a man, that he could lie, neither the son of man, that he should repent. Has he said it, and shall He not do it? or has He spoken, and shall He not make it good?”
James 1:17 “Every good gift and every perfect gift comes down from above, from the Father of lights, with whom is no variation nor shadow of turning”.
Matthew 24:35 “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away”.
One verse of the old hymn, “Standing on the promises”… says “Standing on the promises that cannot fail,
When the howling storms of doubt and fear assail,
By the living Word of God I shall prevail,
I’m Standing on the promises of God”.
Those words are about Commanding God, by standing steadfast and unmovable as we take Him at His word.
Elijah activated it and the dead were raised, oil and meal were multiplied and a three and a half year famine ended in a deluge of rain….
Gideon commanded the sun and moon to stand still until the battle was won and it obeyed him….
Moses was told by God that He would be with his mouth and plagues came upon Egypt while the land of Goshen was protected…water flowed from a rock like a river, manna from heaven fed one million and a half people, the Red Sea opened so they could walk across, not one person was feeble or sickly, and even their garments did not wear out for 40 years in the desert journey.
People were raised from the dead, all manner of sickness was healed and every human condition was cured, Satan was bound and demons were cast out. The impossible was made possible because the God of the impossible said it would be so!!!
When Jesus showed up, for Lazarus, he was already dead. The sister of Lazarus had called on Jesus when Lazarus was just sick. When he got there Martha said, “If you had been here, Lord, Lazarus would not have died”… She had faith for the past, (all the what if’s) but she didn’t have the same faith for what God could do in the future. But what if God wanted to do it another way, than you had it in your mind or your plans for Him to do. You looked at it as a failure, God was planning something better and much greater. When Elijah was by the brook, he could have gotten bogged down in the “What ifs.” He was shut off from everyone, he could have felt like a failure, or that he had missed God, but the most powerful days of his ministry were just beyond the brook….God had something better!
David spoke the “I wills, instead of the “What if’s”… in Psalm 138:2 “I will bow down toward Your holy temple and I will praise Your name for Your love and Your faithfulness, for You have exalted Your name and Your wordabove all things”.
There is nothing that is not subject to His name and His word!
He is the great God, the mighty God, the Creator God. We can see His wisdom and His power manifested throughout creation. The heavens declare His glory; the oceans manifest His power; the mountains reveal His strength; the snowﬂakes illustrate His wisdom. All these marvels of creation demonstrate to us God’s greatness. But it is His Name and His Word that make Him available to us….. Through His name and His Word He does for us what nothing else can do….He makes Himself completely available to us.
John 14:12 Jesus says, “Very truly I tell you . . . I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it”
When my mom had her country store, before the days of credit cards, she would maintain a ledger book recording the activities of each customer’s account and the amount owed on time. She knew her customers well and how much they earned. A customer would at times send others to the shop with a list to make purchases and bring back materials needed for their home or business. Those sent in the customer’s stead (their children or workers) would be able to receive the goods “in the name of” the account owner. But, if they tried to purchase things different than what my mom knew the customer normally bought, the purchase would be denied until she could verify it.
Coming to God in Jesus’ name and the list of things He said he would do, is similar to those old financial transactions. Jesus is the holder of the account, and we are welcome to come to the Father in Jesus’ name to receive what we need. The Father willingly grants our requests because of the authorization of Jesus. Of course, if we are asking for things that are contrary to the character or will of Christ, then we cannot expect to receive those things. So we are encouraged to remain in the will of God and seek what it is He is looking for in our lives. I heard a guy say that God finally answer his prayers about winning the $15 million dollar lottery. The answer was no.
God is not promising to be our personal vending machine, but when we come with “Not my will but thine be done”…. He will not turn us away and will always have an open ear!
The other day I saw someone shaking and kicking a vending machine because what they wanted wasn’t coming out. This guy wanted to have it his way, but it wasn’t happening. He wasdefinitely not approaching with a “not my will but thine be done” attitude. Hey, folks even try to use the word of God to get their own way, but quoting the word won’t get it for you, unless your heart and spirit are submitted and your motive is to glorify God and exalt the Lord! I know folks that try to convince God that it’s for His good that they win the lottery. They’ll give to the church, help good causes and give to the needy, but where were they when God kept them healthy, protected them and their family from destruction and gave them chance after chance… They didn’t realize they had won the lottery every day…..
A minister parked his car in a no-parking zone in a large city because he was short of time and couldn't find a space with a meter. So he put a note under the windshield wiper that read: "I have circled the block 10 times. If I don't park here, I'll miss my appointment. FORGIVE US OUR TRESPASSES."
When he returned, he found a citation from a police officer along with this note: " If I don't give you a ticket, I'll lose my job. Jesus said “LEAD US NOT INTO TEMPTATION."
If You’re not praying in faith, you’re only wishing…..Perhaps we need to ask ourselves if we are like the church that was praying for Peter to get out of jail, and when God opened the prison, the church was shocked that he was knocking at the door. That’s called wishful praying. We know we should pray, but we’re praying our wishes instead of the word of God. God said HIS WORD WOULD NOT RETURN VOID, BUT WOULD ACCOMPLISH ALL IT WAS SENT FORTH TO DO!
The word of God is not a magic wand we use….There are no magic formulas. KAZAAM IS NOT THE SAME AS AMEN! When we pray “in Jesus’ name,” we pray according to the will of God; we pray for what will honor and glorify Jesus. God will provide the means necessary to accomplish His objectives, as He equips us to be His servants and His messengers of transformation. Ultimately, God receives all the glory and praise for what is done while we wait in the wings for the next assignment .
If I arrived home some evening, walked into the living room, turned on the light switch and nothing happened, I would know immediately that there was something wrong that was causing the electricity not to work as it should. Either I haven’t paid the bill, there’s a burned out circuit or a burned out bulb. But it would be ridiculous for me to say that electricity was a failure, or that I was never intended to have light in the house. I don’t pass judgment on electricity simply on the basis of my personal experience. But I begin the process of elimination until I discover what was preventing the light from coming on.
Jeremiah 29:12 “Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. v13 You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart. v14 I will be found by you, declares the LORD, and I will restore you from captivity…”
If our experience is not corresponding to what the Bible says, then there is something wrong, not with the Bible, but with our experience. So when I come to a promise in the Word of God that is not being fulfilled in my life, I begin to ask the Lord, “How can this become real to me?” John 15:16 reinforces this conviction: “You did not choose Me, but I chose you, and appointed you, that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain; that whatever you ask of the Father in My name, He may give to you.”
How’s your fruit? What have you done with what you’ve been given? Barrenness is a curse and it can and must be broken just like any curse. Have you hidden your light, have you failed to give when God stirred you to give, or commanded you to tithe. (if you don’t tithe the bible says that the destroyer is having his way with you) Are you standing for Christ when others are backing down. Are you expanding the kingdom, or hiding in a corner.
God says, He appointed us to bear fruit, and if we are bearing fruit….using what He has given you… whatever you ask of the Father in His name, He will give it!
Prayer is not preparation for what we do, it is what we do! Jesus told us to pray continually, to seek his guidance continually, to listen to His voice within our spirit continually…It is not just speaking to God but allowing God to speak back to us, with instruction, and revelation which connects the past, present and the future….of God’s intentions.
IN JESUS NAME is not just a religious phrase, or just a christianeze term we use. It is exercising the power of attorney. It is a legal term which allows someone to fully represent someone else in any transaction which they might do in their absence.
A military person will give power of attorney to their spouse, so they may represent them and do whatever they might do if they were present, in their name. When Jesus said “whatever you ask of the Father in My name, that He may give it to you.” He was giving each believer, who truly seeks to represent Him and do His will, the power of attorney.
Fully authorized, empowered, and anointed in His stead….
John 14:7 “But I tell you the truth, it is for your benefit that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you. v8 And when He comes, He will convict the world in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment: v9 in regard to sin, because they do not believe in Me; v10 in regard to righteousness, because I am going to the Father and you will no longer see Me; v11 and in regard to judgment, because the prince of this world has been condemned.
v12 I still have much to tell you, but you cannot yet bear to hear it. v13 However, when the Spirit of truth comes, He will guide you into all truth. For He will not speak on His own, but He will speak what He hears, and He will declare to you what is to come. v14 He will glorify Me by taking what is Mine and revealing it to you. v15 Everything that belongs to the Father is Mine. That is why I said that the Spirit will take from what is Mine and reveal it to you”.
Webster describes an advocate as… one who pleads the cause of another….one who defends or maintains the cause of another…. one who supports or promotes the interests of another…. Jesus says that’s what the Holy Spirit is for us…
Ron Dunn says that Several years ago he took his three children to the county fair with his brother and his family. Pretty soon he realized that what the kids were most interested in was the rides, so he bought a roll of tickets. He would stand at the entrance of every ride and he would give a ticket to each child. He wasstanding at the entrance to the tilt-a-whirl, and he had given out about four tickets, when a girl came up who wasn’t with their family and she was holding out her hand for a ticket! Ron says that he wasn’t about to give her one of those tickets. Then his son said, “Dad, she’s my friend. I told her you would give her a ticket.” Right then Ron says, he tore off a ticket and gave it to that girl — in his son’s name. The girl really had no right to the ticket, but because HIS SON HAD ASKED HIM TO DO IT, hedid.
Ron says, That day he was reminded that he could go to hisheavenly Father and ask for the desires of his heart in the name of Jesus. And because of what Jesus is and what He did at Calvary, God answers. God never hears me because of what I have done or because of what I am; it’s always because of Jesus. And the Father will move heaven and earth in order to honor the name of His Son.
Each day, we are faced with the decision to walk according to God’s purpose for our life or according to our own purposes.The only reason the Christian life does not work in many people’s lives is because they are trying to pull God into their will. We follow God when He goes where we want to go, but then we sit and pout with a ugly face when God does not. People are disappointed with God because they think they will be fulfilled outside of His plan. When we go outside God’s will to find what we want, we have to stay outside His will to keep it. That can all turn around, the moment we repent and come into “Not my will but thine be done.”
God loves us and He is crazy about us, and when we take one step towards him, he takes a hundred towards us. The father of the prodigal saw him afar off and ran to meet him. That’s what our Lord is doing right now. He has watched far off and sees us coming. He is running in our direction with the robe, the shoes and the fatted calf….He’s been waiting to bless you beyond your wildest dreams!
Take that first step and see for yourself! He’s been calling you back home to Himself. Nothing is worth being far off from Him. He’s drawing you closer. Don’t let anything stand between, run into the arms of his forgiveness and mercy. Feel the embrace of God upon your soul. You can make it happen today….He’s waiting to heal you, show you the way and turn it around….
What a powerful statement the prophet makes in Hosea 2:15 “Our God will transform the Valley of Achor (or trouble) into a door of hope”.
When men try to fix it, by leaving God out, they just mess it up…. On the cover of one edition of Time Magazine, titled “America’s Forever War” it said “One of thousands training for a war that started before he was born”… In October, 1940, Presidential candidate Franklin Roosevelt promised, (quote) “I have said this before, but I shall say it again and again: Your boys are not going to be sent into any foreign wars.” (We know how that turned out) Kennedy promised us Camelot, and proposed an alternative to war, and move away from Eisenhower’s battle centered approach.He chose to negotiate with foreign enemies which made him seem weak especially after the “Bay of Pigs” fluke, while the nightmare of Vietnam was escalating. Then Lyndon Johnson promised,(quote) “We are not about to send American boys nine or ten thousand miles away from home to do what Asian boys ought to be doing for themselves” (We know how that turned out) This information comes from the book, “No Matter How Thin You Slice It, It’s Still Baloney” Our trust in politicians to keep their campaign promises has been so undermined, that we have a saying, “If their lips are moving, then they are lying”.
It bothers us greatly when someone we love and trust fails to keep promises that go much deeper than “pinky promises”…. like the one that says. “I promise to love you in sickness and in health, for richer or poorer, and to keep myself ever and only for you, till death do us part.” That’s not a “pinky promise”….When those kinds of promises are broken, it leaves a trail of grief and pain.Lives are scarred and generations are affected. There was one family who were leaving on a long trip and they trusted someone with their rare and valuable family treasures, which that person promised to keep safe for their return. They were stunned and greatly distressed to return and find that they had sold it all and disappeared with the cash. We’re hurt when people fail to keep promises about things that are important to us.
Trust and hope become the casualties of broken promises…and lawyers and psychologists make a fortune … The question is asked, “How many Psychiatrists does it take to change a light bulb? Answer… “Only one, but the bulb must really WANT to change”. How many lawyers does it take to change a light bulb? Answer… “How many can you afford”? Q: How many Christians does it take to change a light bulb? Answer… “We don’t know because they haven’t decided which denomination should be allowed to do it.”
I think it’s amazing that we trust the government to send us a 1,400.00 stimulus check that ended up costing all of us 1.9 trillion dollars, but we have doubts about God who gave His only Son to be rejected, abused, beaten and crucified, to redeem us and set us free! The tragedy is that folks are constantly doubting and sayingno to the promises of God, while they say yes to the multitude ofthings that bring them only heartbreak, destruction, turmoil, pain and suffering.
Healthy Boundaries become the victim when trust is violated. Doubt and unbelief bring confusion into our spirit. Hope and trust are crushed. The first cousin of doubt is logic, Fear is it’s brother, Worry is it’s nephew, and shame is it’s uncle.
Jackie Robinson was the first black person to play major league baseball. Many resented that he was upsetting baseball’s color barrier, he faced jeering crowds in every stadium. Opposing players would stomp on his feet and push and kick him. While playing one day in his home stadium in Brooklyn, he made an error. The fans began to ridicule him and call him every kind of name. He stood at second base, humiliated, while the fans jeered. Then, shortstop Pee Wee Reese came over and stood next to him. He put his arm around Jackie Robinson and faced the crowd with his feet planted. The fans grew quiet. Robinson later said that arm around his shoulder saved his career because he was at the point of quitting. When you constantly criticize others, it’s not just you they don’t like, even worse, they stop liking themselves… and that has a domino effect. David said in Psalm 119:90 “Your word Oh Lord, is eternal, Your faithfulness continues through all generations.”
Paul stated in Acts 13:26 “And we preach to you the good news of the promise made to the fathers, that God has fulfilled His promise to us, our children (and their children) in that He raised up Jesus, as it also is written” … The people of Paul’s day had been let down before, by politicians, by religious leaders, by their friends and the community… but when Jesus appeared following the resurrection… hope, faith and trust were restored and a spiritual healing began to take place and belief was renewed that God would prevail when everything and everyone in life had let them down! Hope was reborn, and if there is hope, anything is possible!
Paul is assuring us that GOD IS SOVEREIGNLY MOVING IN ALL OF HISTORY ACCORDING TO HIS PURPOSE, IN ORDER TO FULFILL HIS PROMISES.
God set key people in key places at critical times…. Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Daniel, the prophets, the patriarchs, Paul, the disciples and on into our very day. It was not so much, their choice of God, but God’s choice of them, that is significant. He chose a rebellious nation to be stewards of His covenant which He passed down to us. Scripture says that “God carried them in His arms and nursed them in the wilderness.” He chose America, with all it’s greed, it’s pride and it’s short comings, to be a leader of nations, because it’s foundation was rooted in the Judeo/ Christian faith. I believe Ezekiel 19:2 was a prophecy that included America “What a lioness was your mother (England) among lions! She crouched in a pride of young lions. Her cubs grew large. She reared one of her cubs to maturity, a robust young lion. He learned to hunt. He preyed upon men. The nations sounded the alarm”. America’s God ordained mission was to share the Christian faith with all who had lost faith, hope and trust in the God of the bible. He is choosing His instruments to be His voice and His demonstration to each generation….
It’s more than history, it is His Story!
Proverbs 16:33 We make our own decisions, but the LORD alone determines what happens.
Another version says “The lot is cast into the lap; but the whole disposing thereof is of the LORD”.
Still another version says “People cast lots to learn God's will, but the LORD determines every outcome”.
For 450 years God never forgot His promise… For 400 years of Egyptian captivity, for forty years journeying to the promised land, and for ten years conquering enemies in Canaan, He never forgot. And that should remind us that the distance with God is always worth the difference!
It should also remind us that….
We need to hold onto the vision and trust the process God is using to bring it to pass….
Habakkuk 2:3 says “For the vision is yet for an appointed time, but at the end it shall speak, and not lie: though it tarry, wait for it; because it will surely come to pass, it will not tarry” (it will be right on time). When it looks like no way…. You can shout “YES WAY”…. When you ask “Can it ever be”… You can shout “It shall come to pass”…. When Satan whispers it’s not possible… You can shout “All things are possible”…. At a weekly home Bible study, the leader asked an elderly gentleman, to open the meeting with prayer. He was praying in a quite, soft voice. Another man, straining to hear, shouted, “I can’t hear you!” The man praying replied back, “Carl, I wasn’t talking to you.” There are always other voices trying to get our attention, but there is only one voice that truly matters… and that voice is telling us in…
Luke 18:27 “What is impossible with men is possible with God.” The same power that cancelled the grip of sin in our lives, can also break the patterns which sin has woven into our lives…the old song says “He breaks the power of cancelled sin and sets the captives free!!!
Is it possible that God could ever make a mountain so big that He could not move it? Is it possible that He could ever make a river so wide, He could not cross it? Is it possible that God could ever make a wall so high that He could not get over it or through it?
Having done all to stand, stand therefore and see the glory of the Lord!!!
Excuses are the biggest destroyers of Divine opportunity. Because once commitment is made, the will must be surrendered and it must bow, before any significant life change is ever made. Excuses are always “Me” centered, not God centered, and not what’s best for you!
Excuses are like arm pits, everyone has them and if you’re not careful they really start to stink! George Washington Carver, said that ninety-nine percent of failure comes from people who make excuses. Henry Ford’s motto was….If YOU think you can’t, then you’re right!!
He also said, If YOU think you can, you’re right too!! Walter Wintel said “If you think you’re beaten, you are, If you don’t think you’ll win, then you won’t. If you think that you’ll lose you’ve already lost. For out in the world we soon find, that success will begin in your own state of mind”. A young man came up to his pastor after the service, and said “Man, this Christian living is really hard!” The Pastor surprised him when he said, “No, son. It’s not hard, it’s impossible.” We cannot do it in our power, but in the strength and power that comes from the Lord, we can and will. 1 Corinthians 3:7 “So then neither is he that plants is anything, nor he who waters, for it is God that gives the increase”.
So, we cling to every promise, God has given us, because every promise is anointed and embedded with overcoming power that will take us through it, get us over it, around it, under it or cause it like the walls of Jericho to crumble before us!!
Your loved one can be saved. Your trouble can be overcome. Your confusion can be answered. Your heartbreak can be healed. Your mountain can be moved, Your strength can be renewed, Your body can be healed, Your second chance will come, and Your promise from God will be fulfilled…. Don’t you let go…. Hold on… The battle is the Lords!!
Live as if God will do what He has promised! Joshua 1:9 He promised to be with you wherever you go…
Psalm 37:4 He promised that though you may stumble, you will not fall,
for He would uphold you with his hand. -
.Proverbs 3:6 He promised to make the crooked way straight before you.
Isaiah 30:21 He promised that Whether you turn to the right or to the left, you would hear his voice saying “This is the way; walk ye in it.”
Isaiah 58:11 He promised that He would guide you always, and satisfy your needs and strengthen and establish you. Isaiah 54:10 Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed,
yet his faithfulness will not be shaken nor his covenant of peace be removed,”
Listen, they didn’t move the great stone from the entrance of the tomb, but God did. He didn’t just move the stone to let Jesus out, but to allow us to come in and see that death is not the final word. He got up to show that Failure is not the final word… The impossible situation is not the final word!!
He will not be imprisoned in the grave of the impossible, He got up, so the impossible could now be possible….and the unbelievable could be the new reality….
Joe Louis, one of the best boxer of all time, had a spotless record of 27–0 going into his fight with the German Max Schmeling. It was 1936, when Nazi-ism was at its height, and Germany was the face of evil. So, the fight between the American and the German took place at a sold-out Yankee Stadium.
Everyone expected Louis to win. But twelve rounds into a fifteen-round bout, Schmeling knocked Louis to the mat. Louis remained there—out cold. The hero had fallen. This was not a fight just between two men. It had been a battle between democracy and fascism. Right and wrong. Good versus evil.
And it appeared that evil had won. It was reported that, throughout the country, people cried when they heard the news of Joe Louis’ defeat. All across the country that night when the news came that Joe was knocked out, people wept in despair. But Louis got up, and refused to stay down in defeat!
A second fight was scheduled between Lewis and Schmeling. The location was the same: a sold-out Yankee Stadium in the Bronx. But this time, in just under a minute, Schmeling went down for the third and final time. Louis had won the match with a knockout. Schmeling didn’t know it but before the fight had begun, he had lost to an inspired Lewis whose faith had been restored and hope had been rekindle…. Lewis showed us that you can lose without being a loser and fail without being a failure….
God has scheduled your come back, and this time it’s going to be different… This time the sick are healed, the dead are raised, the lost are found, the provision will come, the finances come through, the barriers come down, victory is snatched from the jaws of defeat!
BECAUSE JESUS GOT UP, YOU ARE ABOUT TO GET UP ALSO!!
The stone was rolled away so all could see that evil had lost and the victory was theirs because Jesus had defeated death, hell and the grave
He got up so we could follow Him into an upper room where the church was endued with a dimension of power that was not of this earth. You shall receive power after the Holy Spirit is come upon you, and you shall be witnesses unto me….
That power was for the work place, for the family room, for the neighborhood and for living an overcoming life everywhere they went. It’s not how much of the Holy Spirit you have but how much of you the Holy Spirit has!!.....If your Holy Ghost only makes you jump around, shake, feel good, and get goose bumps. That isn’t the Holy Ghost, that’s ADHD! The Holy Ghost of the scripture makes you repent, forgive, let go of your sin, draw closer to God, give your tithe, honor your commitments, and change your life. The Holy Spirit will make you cry out for more!!!
He got up so we could know the same spirit that raised Him from the dead, present and living in us!
He got up so we could be the instruments through which spiritual gifts could be given to our world.
If following Jesus does not compel me to love God more and lovepeople better, then I am no more than a 21st century Pharisee! If following Jesus is not a constant process of asking myself “What would Jesus do” in every situation, then I am only fooling myself.
Christianity is not about what happens in the church building, it’s about what happens where the rubber meets the road. When we have opposition, where things didn’t go the way we planned, when we just lost a family member, or when we just got our health report…. Believe me, it will be worth it all, Jesus said to the disciples what He says to us today… Follow me….There was no turning back…..If you look at the road behind Jesus’ disciples after the resurrection, you will find all kinds of things that were left behind…
— there were fishing nets left behind
— there were boats that were left behind
— there were family members and friends left behind
— there was a family business and occupations left behind
— there was money and worldly opportunity left behind
— there were sins and old life patterns left behind
— there were sinful partners and relationships who had to be left behind
— there was ego and selfishness and self-centeredness left behind
— there were personal ambitions and desires left behind
Paul said, “I count it all as dung, that I may follow Christ!!
If they were going to follow Jesus, there would be no place for these…. What have we left behind for Jesus?
Are there some things we no longer do because we are following Jesus? Are there dreams we no longer pursue because we are now following Jesus? Are there people and activities we can no longerbe involved with because we are following Jesus?
Are there still things which we SHOULD be leaving behind, as wefollow Jesus?
Jesus got up so we could receive His nature and character, which we know as the fruit of the Spirit, which come to grow us up and mature us in the image of Christ.
He got up so we could raise up many others who would follow Him through our example in word and deed.
He got up so we could one day welcome Him back, as we shed these earthly trappings once and for all and put on glorified, new bodies, in His resurrection likeness.
He got up so we could enjoy the heaven He went to prepare for us, then come back to a new heaven and earth to reign and rule with Him for all the ages of eternity…Whatever you have to leave behind, it will be worth it compared to all that you will gain by following Christ…
I close with the prayer of Paul….Ephesians 3:16 “I pray that according to His glorious riches He may strengthen you with power through His Spirit in your inner being, v17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in His love, v18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, v19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—and be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. v20 Now unto Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, v21 to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen”. (One Song says) It will be worth it all when we see Jesus, life’s trials will seem so small when we see Christ. One glimpse of His dear face, all sorrow will erase. So bravely run the race, till we see Christ….
Jesus observed Passover with the disciples on Wednesday, and announced that He was the fulfillment of the Passover. He was crucified on Thursday morning, then taken down from the cross and placed in the tomb on Thursday night before sundown, because it was during preparations for Passover which started at sunset on our Thursday, which is the official Jewish Friday. Jesus was placed in the tomb on Good Friday because the Jewish religious leaders (the Sanhedrin) wanted Him out of the way as the 7 days of Passover were fulfilled….
Isaiah 55:8 “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways,” declares the LORD. v9 “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so My ways are higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts”.
Don’t do your stuff, and then ask God to bless it, how about asking Him first, what He will bless, then you’ll know the blessing is assured….
Too often, my ways are not God’s ways, neither are my thoughts His thoughts…But I have come to the conclusion that God takes His job as God, very seriously and so should I…
You see, if I had my way, and I were one of the disciples in Jesusday, I would have been Peter…. Pulling out the sword and saying, “OK, you think you’re so bad, Bring it”…. I would have cut more off than the ear of that servant of the high priest who issued the order to arrest Jesus for trial…. I mean, this Jesus was a manlike no man I had ever heard of… As Peter, I would have watched His miracles, His incredible feats of walking on water (since Peter was in the water with Him), raising the dead, cleansing lepers, opening blind eyes, raising the dead…. I would have felt that the world couldn’t lose such a man as this in the midst of all the neediness and suffering everywhere I looked. I would have tried to get a militia together and rescue Jesus, I would have kept Him from the whipping post, the terrible ordeal of carrying the cross up Golgotha’s hill, the cross He would be so cruelly crucified on. I would have gotten Him down from that cross, before He uttered those words, to the thief, to John and his mother, to the soldiers, as well as the final words, to everyone, “It is finished”!
I would have robbed the world of Easter In my attempts to keep Jesus from all the suffering which He chose to go through….Iwould have brought temporary relief and created long term loss and chaos…
Yes, in order to save all of these from persecution and hardship, I would have altered the future of all Christianity….. Of course, if I were God, I would have probably put your nose on top of your head like a snorkel, and webbing in your hands and feet so you could swim better, and some eyes in back of your head to see behind you, and 4 arms to do several things at once….and that’s just to mention a few things…. Man, We would look pretty weird, if I had the chance to be God! I can’t fathom it, but the breaking and pouring out of passion week was a supreme display of God’s love… We have known love to drive people to do some very powerful and sacrificial things.
As A teenager, Arthur Hinkley, lifted a farm tractor with his bare hands. He wasn’t a weight lifter, he wasn’t that big, but his best friend, eighteen-year-old Lloyd, was pinned under the tractor. Arthur heard Lloyd screaming for help and Arthur somehow lifted the tractor enough for Lloyd to wriggle outfrom underneath. His love for his best friend somehow enabled him to do what would normally be impossible. There is the story of a priest who offered his life in place of a teenage boy in Nazi Germany. His offer was accepted and the priest took his place and died to save the boy’s life. And I add the story of a young soldier who had been condemned to death by Oliver Cromwell. He was to be shot at the ringing of the curfew bell. His fiancée climbed the bell tower and tied herself to the clapper of the giant bell so that it could not ring. When the bell did not ring, soldiers went to investigate and found the girl battered and bleeding from being bashed against the sides of the bell. Cromwell was so impressed by her love for the young man that he was given a pardon. Greater love has no man, than this, that he would lay down His life for a friend….
And believe me, my friend, If I had my way, I would be Captain Grabber! I would always want to grab you out, out of all yourstruggles and stop all your pain. I would have tried to grabJoseph from prison in Egypt, Daniel from the lion’s den in Babylon, Esther from the Persian hit man, Hayman…. and grabbed Paul away from persecuting Christians…. But God had a greater plan, And I would have sacrificed the future of the Jewish nation, and prevented the greatest evangelist from an encounter with Christ that would open the gospel of redemption to the gentile world! I would be out of line. I would be cheating you and cheating the world out of so much good.
Because God knows where you’re at and He has a plan for your comeback. He wants to display His power when the chips are down and everyone sees you as the underdog… Psalm 30:11 “Lord you have turned my mourning into dancing. You have put off my sackcloth and girded me with gladness. You have turned my sorrow into joy. No longer am I sad and filled with regret. You have taken away my disappointment and surrounded me with Your goodness”.
He knows the amazing outcome which will come forth from this hardship. And if I were to be able to spare you from all your difficulties, and hard places, I would leave you weak, and vulnerable and stripped of the personal strength and wisdom those places brought into your life. I would be saving you from your own personal Easter victory and triumph….As you begin to rise above the forces that tried to push you down!
I heard of a child who was anxiously waiting for eggs to hatch in an incubator, and one day she came home from school and one of the eggs was moving and she heard a tapping on the inside, so in her eagerness she broke the shell to let the chick out, and in doing so, it died. She didn’t realize that the process of pecking it’s way out of the hard shell, increased the blood flow to its whole body…and helped its heart to get stronger…. that the process of pecking its way out of the shell, strengthened its neck muscles and other muscles so it could be healthy.
This is what Job said in Job 23:9 “When He is at work in the north, I cannot behold Him; when He turns to the south, I cannot see Him. 10Yet He knows the way I have taken; when He has tested me, I will come forth (from the test and the trial) as purified gold”.
If you stand at Easter and look back at all the Good Fridays that you have risen above , it declares to everyone that it’s never to late to be what you might have been or all you were meant to be!!
I want the gold without the heat that purifies it and gives it value. The heat that removes the impurities and things that diminish it, and cheapen it. You stand there stronger, wiser and more confident…
Kent Keith, a sophomore struggling in college, wrote the words that are often attributed to Mother Theresa…. “People are often unreasonable, illogical and self-centered; Forgive them anyway. If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives; Be kind anyway. If you are successful, you will win some false friends and some true enemies;
Succeed anyway. If you are honest and truthful, people may cheat you;
Be honest and truthful anyway. What you spend years building, someone could destroy overnight; Build it anyway. If you find serenity and happiness, they may be jealous; Be happy anyway. The good you do today, people will often forget tomorrow; Do good anyway. Give the world the best you have, and it may never be enough; Give the world the best you've got anyway. For, You see, in the final analysis, it is between you and your God; It was never between you and them anyway.
So instead of trying to save you from it, I’m helping you rise above it, that you might be true to yourself. I’m kneeling before the Father and I’m asking Him to give you strength. To give you hope. I’m asking Him to protect you and to move you when the time is right. I'm asking Him to help you stay prayerful and discerning. I'm asking Him how I can best love you, and be a help to you. I’m believing He’s going to use your life in powerful and beautiful ways. Ways that will leave your heart grateful and humbly thankful for this road you’ve been on.” I pray this way because it may be Friday, but I know and believe your personal Easter Sunday is on it’s way…..
Without Good Friday, there would be no Easter and the one thing that stood unshakable between these two was the promise… John 2:19 -
“Jesus answered and said unto them, Destroy this (my body) and in three days I will raise it up”. No matter how bad it looks, there’s a promise God has given you…..On Thursday evening and Friday, Things looked bad, really bad, for all those who were there at the beginnings of a great world wide movement, and the leader they gave up everything for !
On Friday The Disciples faith was so weak most of them were afraid to show their faces in public, and Peter even cursed and denied Christ. Well, too often, we too live somewhere between what is said and not meant, and what is meant but not said…..
On Friday morning, Pilate delivered Jesus over to the Romans soldiers, who took turns beating, whipping and scourging him unmercifully. Then, as if that wasn’t enough, they pulled out his beard, and put a crown of thorns on his head and mocked Him by shouting “Here’s the King of the Jews”…..meaning, (who’s gonnasave you now, you foolish people who believed in Him) On Friday they made Him carry His own cross through the streets of Jerusalem and the people who lined the sides of the road would strike Him, curse Him and spit on Him. On Friday they nailed him to the cross like a common Criminal. But it was not nails that held Him there, it was His devotion to the Father and His love for you and me… On Friday all of this so overwhelmed the Son of God that as the weight of all that was happening weighed downon Him, Jesus cried out “My God my God why have you forsaken me!” (have you ever felt that way?) On Friday they took Jesus off the cross and laid him in a borrowed tomb and all the Hopes and dreams of his disciples were with him.
And on Friday, the prince of Darkness, threw a party in Hell, and every demon celebrated what had taken millenniums to accomplish. They had finally succeeded in stopping God’s plan for the redemption of mankind. Mankind would now remain in the clutches of evil and the curse, with no way out! But what a difference a few days can make….
David got it….He said, “Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me, Your rod of discipline and Your staff of guidance, they comfort me, You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil, my cup runs over”
That’s another way of saying “It may be Friday, but Sunday’s on it’s way”
Oh Yes, I love the way Isaiah puts it…. Isaiah 61:3 “He has appointed unto (has covenant with) those that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness.”. That is your appointment with God in your journey through all that Friday throws at you until the fulfilled promise of Easter Sun.
Well, on Sunday, God’s heavenly reset button was activated, and the devil’s party was rudely interrupted… (Don’t you love it when Big Red’s party of hate, jealousy, greed, power, unforgiveness, sickness, hopelessness and strife are interrupted and shut down!!!)Fist Pump!!!
The pastor’s very sheltered and protected college-age daughter came running to him in tears. “Dad, you gave me some terrible financial advice!” Surprised, he said “I did? Exactly what bad advice was that?”. “You told me to put all my money in that big reputable bank, and now that big bank is in big trouble. "Well, you must be mistaken”, her dad said, “That’s one of the largest and most stable banks in the state.” “Well, I thought so too dad,” she said between tears. “But then they just returned one of my checks with a note that said, ‘Insufficient Funds’.” Well aren’t you glad that the Lord will always have enough Easter to cover all your Fridays, it will always be sufficient and more than enough.Our lack or our insufficiency can never be the measure of His worth! My friends, today, you can beat truth up, you can trample it in the streets, you can try to gag it, humiliate it, deprive it, and bury it, but just when you think truth is defeated, it will rise and expose every lie and deceptionthat comes against it!!!
Paul wrote about this in the second chapter of Philippians when he said…, Philippians 2:9 “And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to death-- even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted Him to the highest place and gave Him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth.”
On Sunday, when the resurrected Jesus appeared to His Disciples their faith was strengthened and they would never be the same again. On Friday they were afraid of their own shadows, but on Sunday their faith was renewed and reset and they became men and women of faith, trust, and courage.
God has put you, and you alone in charge of painting your reality… There may be a red light at your intersection which requires that you stop for a certain season, or you may be at a yellow light, which is telling you to proceed with caution, but please know, that every red light eventually turns green when you get it right!
It’s been 2000 years and Friday still tries to cast its shadows across the land. Shadows of fear, hopelessness, and defeat. And sometimes it catches us when our guard is down, but even though the battle is still raging ,the victory is won ….Do what you can do, and expect God to do what you CAN’T DO!
John 10:10 tells us “The thief comes only to kill, steal and destroy, but I have come that you might have life and have it more abundantly.”
The shadows of Friday are still evident! Families are being divided, marriages under fire, kids on drugs, divorce is on the horizon, it looks hopeless, how can it ever change, But your personal Easter is coming! Friday casts it’s shadow and Sickness drags on, weary in body and mind, healing is delayed, it’s one thing after the other, most of your phone numbers are some kind of doctor, pharmacy or hospital…. But your personal Easter coming!
Yes, we see can still see Friday’s shadows! Finances are stretched, mortgage is due, grocery prices have gone up, the cupboards are nearly empty, with the virus lurking outside your door, it doesn’t help matters…. But your personal Easter is coming!
The Fridays of our lives are different for everyone….our situations and circumstances are unique so our Friday seasons are unique as well. One size doesn’t fit all….I’m glad the person who named the Walkie Talkie, didn’t name a lot of other things…. Stamps would be “lickysticky”… Defibrillators would be “Hearty Starty”….Bumble Bees would be “Fuzzy buzzies”… Pregnancy tests would be “Maybe Baby”….Forks would be “Stabby Grabby”… Socks would be “Heaty Feety”… Hippoes would be “Floaty bloaties”… and nightmares would be “Screamy Dreamies”…
Here’s what some children wrote about their Friday seasons…Maybe you can relate…. Stephen. Age 8 wrote, “I would like to go to heaven someday because I know my brother won't be there”. Arnold. Age 8 wrote, “I know God loves everybody but He must have never met my sister”. Alexander. Age 10 wrote, “Please say a prayer for our Little League team. We really need God's help or a new pitcher”. Carla. Age 10 wrote, Dear Pastor, I liked your sermon on Sunday. Especially when it was finished”.
Isaiah 43:2 “When you pass through the waters (of adversity), I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not drown you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned and the flames will not consume you”.
We can be confident, because God came up with our solution long before the devil came up with our problem! So, take back your power!!
OK, let’s look at some benefits as we push through our “Friday” experiences toward our Easter Reality… (and there are many more I could list)
Adversity brings us into an intensified learning zone of life..
When wolves show up, sheep get closer to the Shepherd
It reveals the true character of our friends.
It forces us to discover our weaknesses.
It brings humility into our lives with ourselves and others.
It brings appreciation for what we do have.
It reveals immaturity and flaws in our character.
It helps us redefine and reset our goals and dreams.
Good Friday closed with three powerful words of hope and expectation for everyone feeling those Friday shadows being cast upon them… Those words are “ IT IS FINISHED”!!! The Philipino people would *……say “Mabuhay” which means “Life long and live well” or Make your life count! “Christ died and lived again, so that we can do more than just live and then die!”Because the grave couldn’t hold Him, It won’t be able to hold those who trust in Him….
So If you don’t know how to get to the other side, He does!!!
We live our lives on this side of “It is finished”….which is the pre-curser to Easter victory! It is finished, is just another way of saying “it may be Friday, but Easter Sunday is now our reality”…..and it’s enough!
Charles Wesley wrote, “Oh for a thousand tongues to sing my great Redeemer's praise, the glories of my God and King, the triumphs of his grace! He breaks the power of cancelled sin, He sets the prisoner free;
His blood can make the sinner clean, His blood avails for me.”
Step into Your Easter Reality…..It truly is our bridge over troubled water