Not Taken, Given

John 7: 30

They were seeking therefore to seize Him; and no man laid his hand on Him, because His hour had not yet come.

John 10:14-15

I lay down My life for the sheep.

Some people debate and rage over who killed Jesus. These become very passionate debates. Some say the Romans killed Him. Some say the Jews. When we really understand the passion of Christ, then we can finally let go of this debate. The only one who had power over Jesus’ life was Jesus.

In the seventh chapter of John, those who hated Him tried to seize Him so that they could put Him to death. But Jesus’ hour had not yet come so they were unable to take Him. Jesus just slipped away as He did at other times. In the tenth chapter of John the crowd was going to stone him. The scripture says in verse 39, “Therefore they were seeking again to seize Him, and He eluded their grasp.” Notice that the verse says they were seeking to seize Him again. This wasn’t the first time and it was not to be the last, but Jesus had a say in what was going to happen to him. The temptation in the garden of Gethsemane wouldn’t have been so difficult for Jesus if the end was a forgone conclusion and he did not have any power to affect the outcome. No, it was because He had to willingly go into captivity and to the cross that the temptation was so great. He had the power to walk away but made the choice to stay.

Only when Jesus’ time had come was it possible to capture him. Even then Jesus had to practically help the soldiers arrest him. When they came with Judas to arrest him, they all ended up falling to the ground under the power of God. Read John 18: 3 – 11. Jesus waited for them to recover and then, again, identified himself for them. Peter drew his sword to defend Jesus but Jesus told him to put it away. Jesus said, “Put the sword into the sheath; the cup which the Father has given Me, shall I not drink it?” Jesus had chosen to follow God. He had chosen to lay down his life for the sheep. That is the only way they could have ever put him on the cross, through his choice. In John 10, verses 17 and 18 Jesus said, “For this reason the Father loves Me because I lay down My life that I may take it again. No one has taken it away from Me, but I lay it down on My own initiative. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This commandment I received from My Father.” Jesus was saying that no one had the authority to take his life from him. Only he had the ability to sacrifice his life. And that he willingly did for us.

If you ever hear people debating this question again you can answer, “It wasn’t the Romans that put Jesus on the cross; it wasn’t the Jews. It was love that put him there. Love for you and me. As Jesus said, “Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends,” John 14: 13. And that he did; laid down his life for us. It was his to give and freely he gave it to us.

Easter in Christmas

1 Peter 1: 20        TPT

This was part of God’s plan, for he was chosen and destined for this before the foundation of the earth was laid, but he has been made manifest in these last days for you.

I really enjoy Christmas and I feel extra close to Jesus during the Christmas season. Yesterday I was celebrating Jesus’ birth and said to him, “Jesus, thank you for being born.” Just think about that.

Jesus was with God when Yahweh created the earth (John 1: 1 – 3). He witnessed and participated in the creation of the world and everything in it. In today’s verse we see that God had a plan for redemption before the earth was even formed. That means that when God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit were creating the earth, there was already a plan which involved Jesus coming into the earth as a human being in order to save all humanity. So, what was it like on that Christmas morn 2000 years ago?

Jesus already knew that he was to be born of a virgin as a human baby. He also knew that he would have to sacrifice himself if he was to redeem our lives from the pit of hell. So how did that conversation go?

God: Jesus, it’s time.
Jesus: Time for me to go earth as a flesh and blood person?
God: Yes. It is time for you to leave our heavenly home and to be born a baby, a human baby. You will leave your deity here and become fully human. You will be born a human, live as a human and die a human death. Your birth will be cause for a great celebration which will be remembered for all time. In the shadow of the great event of your birth will be the certainty of sacrifice and death. Are you willing to go?
Jesus: Yes!
God: Are you ready?
Jesus: Yes.
God: Then go, my son. Be born of Mary. Bring joy to the world and save every person the earth has ever or will ever know from the torture of eternal death.
Jesus: Yes, Father. All this I will do.
God: I am proud of you and I love you.

So, in the celebration of Jesus’ birth is the foreshadowing and the promise of Easter. He came to give us life, but our life was in his death and resurrection. That is why I thank Jesus for being born. Had he not said, “Yes” to Christmas, there would be no Easter. Praise God! Thank you, Jesus, for Christmas. Let every human voice be raised in song as we celebrate the savior’s birth.

Trust Dividend

Romans 5: 2       NLV

By putting our trust in God, He has given us His loving-favor and has received us. We are happy for the hope we have of sharing the shining-greatness of God.

What good news this is. When we invest our trust in God, we open our own path to happiness and His favor. I want you to see this verse from the Passion Translation as well, “Our faith guarantees us permanent access into this marvelous kindness that has given us a perfect relationship with God. What incredible joy bursts forth within us as we keep on celebrating our hope of experiencing God’s glory!” I like this guarantee, don’t you, a guarantee of His marvelous kindness and a perfect relationship with God. Really, what more could we want or need?

Our faith gives us access to a perfect relationship with God. Our trust in Him yields His favor and we have the promise that He receives us. Knowing that we are received and accepted by God is a huge thing. Many people live their whole lives awaiting their parents’ approval. We have our Father’s acceptance. His acceptance is that He receives us to Himself. We are part of Him, part of His family and we have the joy of sharing the glory of God with Him. I love how this verse states it, “sharing the shining-greatness of God.” Wow!

We aren’t orphaned children who have been let into the feast. We are His own pride and joy. He welcomes us in and makes us part of the celebration. The key to sharing the bright, shining glory of God’s presence is trust. We invest our trust in Him and He receives us, pouring out His “loving-favor” upon us. The favor of God is a great thing but to appreciate that His favor is colored by love makes it even more grand. His light and love are our inheritance. Actually, they are the reward, or the dividend on our investment of trust. I used to talk about “radical trust.” Maybe it is time to think on that again. What does radical trust look like? Pour out your heart to God. Bathe in His bright, shining glory and enjoy being His own beloved.

The “One” Sin

Romans 5: 20      TPT

So then, the law was introduced into God’s plan to bring the reality of human sinfulness out of hiding. And yet, wherever sin increased, there was more than enough of God’s grace to triumph all the more!

I hear comments, and I know you do too, about how the world, and even our own cities, are falling into greater and greater sin. Some speculate that God is not as active because sin has become greater, or more prevalent. One day when I heard someone speaking in these terms it made me wonder what sin we are engaged in these days that is causing the breakdown of societies. There really is nothing new under the sun. You can read the Bible and see that. The Israelites created idols while God was leading them to the Promised Land. How much more blatant a sin can there be? What is it that is going on today that is any different than in previous times? What is the sin which is destroying us?

As I pondered this question, I sought the one with all the answers, and do you know what, He answered me. He showed me two points: first, the one great sin which is our problem and second, that conventional sin isn’t really the issue. Where sin has increased, God’s grace has increased more. No matter how great a sin problem we have, if we understand today’s scripture then we know that God’s grace expands to even greater volumes. So, there is a sin problem, but then again there isn’t because God’s grace is greater than any sin committed by man.

So, what is the problem? The way the Lord said this to me was, “There really is only one sin, one great sin and though this is not what people refer to when they speak of the increase in sin, it actually is the root problem from which all other sin is derived.” Does this surprise you? Are you anxious to know what the “One” sin is? I was. The problem we have, the one which is destroying the fabric of society is the sin of attrition. Spiritual Attrition is the slow wearing down of our Christian faith, but it is more than that. The core issue is that fewer and fewer of us seek God. The Lord showed me that the real problem is separation from Him. He has grace for the sin, but He does not have a remedy for people who choose not to partner with Him.

The great sin of the world is separation from God! And you can quote me. If you think about it, that is the same problem God constantly addressed in the Old Testament. The people kept turning away from Him. Once they took their eyes off Him, then they fell into all sorts of sins, even to serving foreign Gods. When Israel sought God, they flourished. When they fell away from Him, they suffered lack and hardship. Their sin grew too but sin isn’t the problem. When a people serve God, when they spend time in His presence, they have no desire for the “sins” that we often sculpt into lists. Unbelief and abstinence from prayer and seeking are the problems that undermine society. God can deal with sin when people believe in Him but when the nation turns its face from God, there is no one to pray, no one to intercede. Who heals the land of a nation that does not believe in nor seek God?

Even as Christians, we are forced into some important questions, questions that I had to face in this conversation with God. In what ways or in what areas am I separated from God? Is there a part of my life which I keep separate from Him? Do I go to work everyday without Him or even thoughts of Him? Where is He on Monday? Tuesday? Am I seeking Him in all aspects of my life or have I divorced Him from part of my life? We probably all have little spaces in our lives where we have yet to intertwine with the Lord Jesus. If we have little separations, little areas where a vacuum exists, then who shall lead the uninitiated.

We don’t have a sin problem.  Jesus and Father took care of the sin problem.  Here, world, is the real problem. We have separated ourselves from God and not only is this the one truly big sin, but it is also hell. To the degree we do not involve Yahweh in our lives, we are living in sin and experiencing hell. God would give you encouragement though, because now that we know what the actual problem is, we can individually and collectively take measures to correct it. Ya wanna talk about hell? Or pontificate about sin? They both exist right outside our front door. The good news is that we also have the power to free the world from both. Seek the Lord, your God with all your heart, all your mind, and all your soul – then teach others to do the same. This is how we save the earth!

Where Are You?!

Psalm 79: 9 – 10          TPT

Our hero, come and rescue us! O God of the breakthrough, for the glory of your name, come and help us! Forgive and restore us; heal us and cover us in your love. Why should all the nations sneer at us, saying, “Where is this God of yours?” Now is the time, Lord.

Asaph mourned the diminished standing of Israel. Where it once was a formidable and glorious nation, the foreign nations no longer held it in awe, no longer did they fear the prowess of the Israelites or their God.

Under David, the nations came to know the God of Israel. They learned that Israel had a defender, a mighty and powerful God who would proactively fight for Israel. Under Solomon, all the world marveled at the wealth and beauty of Israel, as well as its king’s wisdom. Israel was feared and admired. During the time of Asaph, Israel had lost its luster. Foreign nations had begun to invade the nation with increasing frequency and confidence. They taunted Israel as the would later taunt Jesus, “Where is this God of yours?”

Perhaps the most grievous aspect of this verse and its haunting question which plagued the nation of Israel throughout history, is that it is as fresh a stinging refrain today as during any other time in history. The barbs of this enigmatic taunt prick the very soul of the modern day believer, “Where is your God? Show us this Almighty, powerful God of yours!”

Does your heart seize in reflection of this question come taunt? Do you feel, as did Asaph, the ridicule of our faith and our God? Where is this all knowing, all powerful deity who is supposed to be more than a God to us; He who proclaims to be, foremost, a Father to the faithful? Where is your God? Show me!

What was it that caused the God of David and Solomon to recede into the heavens? Was God angry? Is He now? I don’t truly believe in an angry God. Yes, He has emotions and anger is one of them but He also taught us not to let the sun go down on our anger which was His way of saying, “Get over it! Deal with your anger and put it to bed.” Therefore, I do not think He has withdrawn any part of Himself because of anger? What then? Does He love us any less? Maybe David and Solomon were just special people or the nation of Israel under them showed a better class of faithfulness than do we.

David and Solomon were both flawed. Their lust for women crippled their faith so they were no more perfect than we. The people of those days struggled with faith and sin just as painfully as do we. No, I don’t believe the answer is in an angry God or a more righteous people. Then what was it?

This is a question best pondered in your heart for the question is more important than me having an answer for you. We are not perfect, but we have been called to righteousness. Jesus, though, is our righteousness so we do not even have to be our own righteousness. Therefore, the fact that we are not perfect is not the stumbling block. In fact, Jesus called himself the stumbling block. What could he have meant by that?

The question to which I really do want an answer is, “How do we show the nations of the world the glory, power and beauty of our God?” What is our answer to the question, “Where is this God of yours?” It does taunt me so even as I ask you to consider this query, I seek our beloved and His answer? Where are you, O God of my faith? Where is your glory in this generation? Have you fallen asleep? Have I failed you? At the end of all things, Father, at the end of all inquiry, I know that you are the loving God of Israel and Ivey. I know that you are alert and present. You love all the people that I represent with this Word of the Day and your compassion for them is deeper than the deepest ocean. Your love for them is ever expanding as with the universe. And knowing this Father, I ask and require of you to speak to your people. Give us hearts of understanding. Bring alive your spiritual gifts within us so that we might hear and learn. Lead us, as you have promised, in the way we should go. Bless our coming in and going out and teach us to praise you with a jubilance that would make David jealous. Shine down upon us glorious Lord as we turn our minds and hearts towards the celebration of Jesus’ birth. I pray, Father, that this year you will activate, within each of us, a new and special affection for You and Your son. Touch our spirits, Lord, and bring us into a new space with you which will forever bind us closer and closer with you. Let this be the Christmas season that changes our lives forever. I love you Lord!

Be Blessed

Numbers 24: 9

His people lie down and rest like a lion. They are like a lioness. Who dares to disturb them? Those who bless you will be blessed! Those who curse you will be cursed!”

God is in the blessing business. Yesterday you probably spent some time blessing and thanking Him. You can never out bless God, though, so today He is sending a blessing back your way. And, anyone you bless will be blessed. Again, the blessing will return to you. Anyone who blesses you, shall be blessed. This is the way God’s kingdom operates. Blessing is the currency of the Kingdom.

It may sound trite when someone says, “Be blessed,” or “God bless you,” but in reality, those are powerful words when they are accompanied by intention. Each of us has the power, and the authority, to speak blessing into the earth and into the lives of others. Unfortunately, the other side of the coin is that we have the power to speak the curse into the environment too. So, we guard our mouths that we do not inadvertently, and certainly not intentionally speak cursing. Instead, we can open our hearts and spirits and, literally, pour out blessing into the surrounding atmosphere. You have power to bless. Your spirit is so powerful that you can send blessing out to others even as you walk through the grocery store. Wherever you go, so goes the blessing of God.

I bless you in the name of Jesus. I speak your life and spirit full of the blessing of God. Now, go forth in the power and majesty of our Lord and spread the bounty of who he is in you. Be blessed!

Thanksgiving Offering


Psalm 100: 4

Enter His gates with thanksgiving And His courts with praise. Give thanks to Him, bless His name.

What would you like to say to Father if you could sit with Him face to face?  Does today’s verse capture the essence of your sentiment?

We are far enough removed from the harvest that we don’t experience the relief and exaltation of having a crop come in.  That is, however, what this holiday is intended to embody.  Though it is a time for family and festivities, it is ultimately the one day of the year, above all others, that we are meant to pause and give thanks.  Mom might have gone to the market and bought the food and cooked it but our heavenly Father is truly the source of all of our bounty.  Praise the Lord that we have money to buy food!  Give thanks for friends and family with whom to share God’s blessings.

I give thanks to my God for you as well.  You carry the torch of God’s light and you keep me going with your faithfulness.  I pray, in the name of my Lord and savior, that you will be blessed and touched with his beautiful grace this Thanksgiving Day!