Joy and Sadness

Joy and Sadness

Daily Reading: (Psalm 30:11-12, Jeremiah 31:13): “You turned my wailing into dancing; you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy, that my heart may sing your praises and not be silent. Lord my God, I will praise you forever.” “Then young women will dance and be glad, young men and old as well. I will turn their mourning into gladness; I will give them comfort and joy instead of sorrow.”

David wrote in the same chapter a few verses earlier “Sing praises to the Lord, O you his saints, and give thanks to his holy name. His favor is for a lifetime. Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning. (Psalm 30:4–5).”

For those with faith in God, no setback, no misery, no loss can be lasting. Christ conquers our greatest fears and pains, not always swiftly, but surely. The suffering and loss cannot outlast the life he purchased for us on the cross. For us as believers, joy comes with the morning, and after the morning, and even in the mourning. And so we sing (Psalm 30:4), even in the middle of severe sadness because our hope is that God can turn it. God can (haphak) overturn/ turn around, change, transform your sadness into dancing (Psalm 30:11). 

God isn’t going to force a change in your emotion only you can allow God  through the Holy Spirit to overturn what has turned on you. David is speaking here of what I believe is not only his present circumstances but will be his future experience as well. For this Psalm, scholars believe was written in 1017 B.C. Solomon was born around 1010 B.C. or seven years later. Seven years later the Psalm David wrote would be enacted in his life, after his child died that he had with Bathsheba, God would give him Solomon.

We go to 2 Samuel 12:14-31 at a time when David was in sackcloth and it shows probably the greatest sadness you could ever experience, the death of your child. David pleaded with God for the child. He fasted and spent the nights lying in sackclothon the ground. 17 The elders of his household stood beside him to get him up from the ground, but he refused, and he would not eat any food with them.

David mourned for the death of a child, he worshipped God (2 Samuel 12:20) and allowed God to turn and transform his sadness into dancing- which leads to the eventual birth of Solomon. Do you know what the name Solomon means? It is where we get the Hebrew word shalom from. It means peace. God brought forth peace (Solomon) into the world of a grieving father and mother as a result of worship (2 Samuel 12:20).

I can tell you from my own life experiences I have in the past mourned too long for the loss of something when God wanted to turn my mourning into dancing and great joy. A job loss, a financial loss, a loss to my health, even a loss in a sports game. What turned it around was worship. Allowing God’s transformative grace to result in peace in my life. It didn’t mean the child was brought back to life. It didn’t mean the no turned into a yes. It meant God was bringing forth something new and the change, the (peace/Solomon) began in my heart before any noticeable difference took place and it led me to dance.

Jeremiah 31 talks about the Lord who leads (9) redeems (verse 11), delivers (11) provides (14) but it all comes out of His everlasting love (verse 3) for us.  And in both Psalm 30 and Jeremiah 31 they both say the miracle of the down-trodden, mourning people who are transformed into joyful dancing people is a work of God. It is a miracle to behold.

My prayer for all of us is that we would bring Jesus into our situation, that we might see ourselves as victorious even when battles are lost and ultimately allow God to transform our emoticon status on our life’s social media page to joy. Faith is essentially dancing and rejoicing and worshiping God for who He is and what He will do for us.

More Than Conquerors

More than Conquerors

Daily Reading: (Romans 8:37): “No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.”

Genghis Khan, Alexander the Great, Napoleon, Julius Caesar, Cyrus the Great, and even Hitler what did all these men all have in common. They were all conquerors. When we hear the word conqueror we might think of ones of these individuals, but the chances are we might not think of ourselves in that way. You are not just a conqueror, but more than a conqueror. “No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.”

Paul wrote to the Ephesians, “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” Since we know our battle is a spiritual one (Ephesians 6:12) it is significant to know that we are more than conquerors in the spiritual realm.

More than a conqueror- (hypernikaō)- to gain a surpassing victory.

What are the things that we are more than conquerors against? Paul list what we are more than conquerors against (in verse 35) and verses (38 and 39) and if you read the chapter in its entirety you would see a header that identifies the fact that Paul is talking about us living our life in the Spirit. Victory in the spiritual, (the battle in our mind), will manifest itself into the physical realm.

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, whohave been called according to his purpose.” Do you believe the battle you are going through is for your good? If you see yourself as more than a conqueror in Christ you will. 

“If God is for us, who can ever be against us?” God > Everything Else  (Against Us) [Romans 8:31]. I recently taught my daughter Ava how to play the card game of War. I was dominating her early on and she was getting frustrated, but I hadn’t seen an Ace come up yet. I told her don’t lose heart because I have all your two’s, three’s, and four’s. I said it’s not the number of cards you have, it’s really about who holds the ace’s. And then she began to dominate me even though I had more cards because she held all four aces. If God is for us (the Ace), it doesn’t matter how the cards fall in the moment- who could be against us? The victory is ours in Jesus. As a child of God, you have an inheritance. Knowing the victory we have in Christ is crucial as we move forward, led by the Spirit as more than conquerors.

Ambassadors of Christ

Ambassadors of Christ

Daily Reading: (2 Corinthians 5:20): “We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.”

There are many Christians who are not engaging in the ministry of reconciliation as an ambassador of Christ because no one ever told them what they are and they never studied out properly what this text is telling them. God had selected you and appointed you as Christ’s ambassador with a life changing message.

What is an ambassador exactly? Presbeuō in the Greek means to be an ambassador.An Ambassador is a person who acts as a representative or promoter of a specified activity.So all believers have been chosen to act as a representative of Jesus Christ with a specific activity in mind. What exactly does God have in mind for us or what exactly are we in our lives to be about? For far too long the church universal throughout the ages has at times misrepresented our identity and has promoted the wrong message. We have been more focused on what we are against then promoting the message of what we are for. We are ministers of reconciliation as the very ambassadors of Christ. Our churches should be the most reconciling, peaceable, happy places in town. 

The message or the activity that we are to share it is right there in the text twice. First in the verse before this declaration of what we are (verse 19) and then right after it (same verse 20) just to reinforce it and make sure we understand it.

What is my role as an ambassador? Verse 19 and 20

“This is the message of Christ’s ambassadors: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation.”

And then…

“God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.”

If you are about anything other than this you are off mission as ambassador.

As Christ’s ambassadors- you are a minister of (katallagē): the restoration of the favor of God to sinners that repent and put their trust in the expiatory death of Christ.

Wherever God has placed you, whatever gifting He has given to you, it shall be used to tell others the good news of the Gospel of Jesus that in Christ there is favor with God forever.

Paul reinforces the supremacy of the ministry of reconciliation and the only thing he changes is he calls it a word or message of reconciliation (verse 19) instead of a ministry (verse 18). He uses the Greek word ‘Logos’. In chapter 1 of John, John identifies Christ as the Logos. What this means in this subtle shift is that the way we proclaim the favor of God (the ministry of reconciliation) is by proclaiming Christ as the reconciler and the only way to bring restoration in relationship with God our Father (2 Corinthians 5:19).

An ambassador is a representative. His message, his authority are given to him by his king. What authority do we go out into the world on this reconciliation message with… the authority of Jesus, all authority in heaven and on earth (Matthew 28:18).

Royal By Blood

Royal By Blood

Daily Reading: (Ephesians 1:5): “He predestined us for adoption to sonshipthrough Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will.”

Some Bibles will include a footnote that says that the Greek word for adoption to sonship is a legal term referring to the full legal standing of an adopted male heir in Roman culture. We have been adopted into God’s family with full legal standing as a child of God. This means that you are royal by (Jesus’)blood (Ephesians 1:5). Christ shed blood brought you into the family of God. What this should do is elevate our minds to see the kind of love God has for us, and our new God-given identity we have in Christ changes the way we behave- because those who are in Christ are now royal.

Because of who you became in Jesus, a member of the royal family, every spiritual blessing is yours (Ephesians 1:3).Your old life could not compare in any way to your new royal life. Your blood bought adoption right means that any and all spiritual blessings are ours.

Thanks to Jesus’ half-brother James he writes that generally speaking many times we don’t have what we ask for because of one of two reasons. James writes in James 4:2 “You do not have because you do not ask God.” You might not ask God because perhaps you don’t even know what is available to you as your spiritual inheritance (Ephesians 1:11).

“You do not receive” (lambanō) lay hold of, to take what is one’s own, claim for one’s self. “Because you ask with (kakos) improperly, wrong motives so that you may spend what you get on your own pleasures” (hēdonē) it is where we get our word hedonism from. The heart of what James is writing is that we should in prayer, claim what Christ has purchased for us to have through faith (James 4:2-3).

“An adopted child received a new identity. Any prior commitments, responsibilities and debts were erased. New rights and responsibilities were taken on. Also, in ancient Rome, the concept of inheritance was part of life, not something that began at death. Being adopted made someone an heir to their father, joint-sharers in all his possessions and fully united to him.”[1]  Adoption is a constant reminder that we are fully desired, fully loved; that we have taken on a new identity through Jesus; that we were created for Heaven, but even now, are heirs to God, “co-heirs with Christ” (Romans 8:17).

[1] Ellen Mady. September 12, 2017.

Been Made Perfect

Been Made Perfect

Daily Reading: (Hebrews 10:14): “For by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy.”

You have been Made perfect (teleioō): to make perfect, complete. This means that you are holy not by what you do but because of what you became through Christ sacrifice.

Christ has already perfected his people, it is complete. I know the text reads “those who are being made holy” and it sounds like an ongoing process but we will explore what is really being said in the original Greek text.

If we believe that our holiness is tied into our performance then when we sin, we can mistakenly believe that we are no longer holy.  I am just in process. I am being made; I have not yet become. While it is true none of us are perfect in our behavior and attitudes, what is also true is that all who are in Christ are perfect and are holy. The very people who “have been perfected” are the ones who “are being sanctified.” Christ’s people are perfected now in the sense that God puts away all our sin and never brings them to mind again as a ground of condemnation. In this sense God sees us as we stand before Him in Christ that we are perfect or blameless. Christ has fully perfected those who are now being sanctified. We are holy or better yet, we are God’s holy people. Practical holiness is learning to walk in the reality that Jesus made you whole and has given you everything you need for life and godliness.

Up to this verse (14) in chapter 10 the point has been that Christ’s death for sin replaces the provision for sin in the Old Testament Law. The point is straightforward. The law prescribed repeated animal sacrifices for sin. And the very repetition of the sacrifices that were made for the people’s sins showed that the Old Testament sacrifice did not perfect the sinners. Nothing decisive and once-for-all happened to deal with sin. Because if they had perfected the people once and for all, the sacrifices would have stopped being offered. Why did God have His people do these ritualistic animal sacrifices over and over again? The reason is because it testified to their inadequacy. They did not perfect the people. They did not deal with sin decisively, finally, once for all. This was shown in the first verse of this chapter in Hebrews 10:1: “The law is only a shadow of the good things that are coming—not the realities themselves. For this reason it can never, by the same sacrifices repeated endlessly year after year, make perfect those who draw near to worship.” The plan was always Christ.

If you continue to look at yourself and your track record you will never see yourself as you truly are, a holy saint- one who has been made perfect. The atonement was utterly complete; the Father was completely satisfied with the Son and all the enemies will fall before the reigning Christ in heaven.

Prayers and Provisions of the Spirit

Prayers and Provisions of the Spirit

Daily Reading: (Philippians 1:19):

“For I know that through your prayers and God’s provision of the Spirit of Jesus Christ what has happened to me will turn out for my deliverance.” 

You do not need to fear the path ahead if you know who goes with you and the provisions that have been made for you in Christ Jesus. Paul in uncertainty is certain of his deliverance and it comes from the prayers of the believers at Philippi and God’s provision of the Spirit of Jesus.

In the same chapter Paul wrote in verses 12 and 13 that he is in prison for his faith and he wants us to know that what has happened to him has actually served to advance the gospel. God will use those things that look to imprison us to set the captives of sin free (to advance the Gospel) Philippians 1:12. The only way that you can share the Gospel without fear is if you see the love God has for you. God can use your situation for His salvation to reach others. 

“For I know that through your prayers and God’s provision of the Spirit of Jesus Christ what has happened to me will turn out for my deliverance” (Philippians 1:19).

“Deliverance” is the word for salvation (soteria). Because we know that the apostle Paul is in Christ, he is already eternally saved, the definition he must be using is deliverance, preservation, safety, salvation from his enemies. This is fascinating to me because somehow Paul knows he will be delivered here.

How can I be certain of anything in uncertain times? There is a clue in the text in verse 19 as the word for prayer is not a normal Greek word used for prayer. THE church is asking God for something specific- their prayer is focused, united, and Spirit-led. The church is asking God for something specific (deēsis): a need, seeking asking God, wanting something specific (Paul’s deliverance). 

For Paul there is a certainity in the uncertain because the prayers of God’s people where coupled with the provisions of the spirit of Christ. The Spirit led them in how they should pray, what was God’s will for Paul in this situation was his deliverance. Praying in the Spirit is relying on the Spirit in prayer. Because the Spirit moved on the Body of Christ to pray for Paul’s release from prison, he is certain this will be the outcome.

What is praying in the Spirit why is it important and how did it give Paul confidence in uncertainty?

Make Jesus your resting place, and all will be well. You will sleep in the storm. To pray in the Spirit, walk in the Spirit, and worship in the Spirit (John 4:24) is to come before the Lord according to His appointed means—that is through the One whom the Spirit magnifies, the Lord Jesus Christ (Romans 8:26-27), The Holy Spirit also takes our prayers and perfects them before the Almighty (Romans 8:26). The Holy Spirit prays within us when we cannot utter a word (Romans 8:26). When you are praying in submission to the Lord God and His Son, the Holy Spirit within you will testify to Jesus in His Word, in your prayers, and even in those other believers praying with you. These things and so much more are ignited by the dynamite of praying in the Spirit. Praying in the Holy Spirit is God’s glorious means of advancing His will on earth as it is in heaven.

A Kairos/Kodak Moment

A Kodak/Kairos Moment

Daily Reading: (Matthew 11:25, Acts 24:25-26, Galatians 6:10):

“At that time Jesus said, “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children.”

“As Paul talked about righteousness, self-control and the judgment to come, Felix was afraid and said, “That’s enough for now! You may leave. When I find it convenient, I will send for you.” At the same time he was hoping that Paul would offer him a bribe, so he sent for him frequently and talked with him.”

“Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.”

God-ordained (Kairos) moments could turn into Kodak moments if we seize the opportunity before us. Kairos is related to the Greek word kara (“head”). A kairos moment is a time when things “come to a head,” requiring decisive action.

“At that time” (Kairos) [right time] in this moment of time Jesus says, “I praise you Father” or I fully agree with you – I am perfectly of the same mind that “you have hidden these things from the wise and learned.”

Jesus shows that He always operates in Kairos moments and by doing so reveals that God is always right on time (Matthew 11:25).

The context is Matthew 11:20: “Then Jesus began to denounce the towns in which most of his miracles had been performed, because they did not repent” (Matthew 11:20). 

They did not repent (metanoeo)- This is the key. They did not change their mind for the better. Jesus is before them offering something so much greater than miracles, He is offering His salvation. In order to receive the salvation He offers, a person would have to abandon their religious works-based salvation system. We don’t repent (change our mind for the better) to manipulate God into bringing his kingdom down; we repent because His kingdom is already at hand. In Christ we don’t repent to get forgiven; we repent because we are forgiven.

In the old covenant, repentance implied a turning from sin. But in the new covenant, repentance means a turning to God. This is clearly seen in the book of Acts. “I preached that they should repent and turn to God and prove their repentance by their deeds.” (Acts 26:20).

“I praise you… because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned.” Our Lord does not thank the Father that he has hidden the path of salvation from the wise and prudent, but that, seeing they were hidden from them (they rejected the Gospel), Jesus is praising God for revealing the path of salvation to the others (Matthew 11:25). “and revealed them to little children.”

The Bible uses the word kairos 86 times in the New Testament. Galatians 6:10 says; “Therefore, as we have opportunity” (kairos).

Do you know when the right time is to do good to all people? “As we have” whenever there is a need. The right time to do good is whenever we can. “Let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.” Paul is writing to the Galatians, a church that almost didn’t exist anymore because of such division among them. Some were in the process of deserting Christ for another gospel (Galatians 1:6). After going back to the Gospel, there was some healing that needed to take place. Relationships needed to be mended, what better way to mend relationships in a church than to look for an opportunity to bless your own church family members by doing good to them.

“Go away for the present. When I get an opportunity (Kairos) I will summon you” (Acts 24:25, ESV). Felix wanted to pick his own opportunity to respond to the gospel, ignoring the opportunity of the present. In so doing, he did respond—he rejected the gospel.

Ephesians 5:16: “making the most of every opportunity (kairos), because the days are evil. You live wise (15) by making the most of every opportunity (16). Make the Most” (exagorazō) was a metaphor of Christ freeing the elect from the dominion of the Mosaic Law at the price of his vicarious death. Paul is simply saying to be careful to not fall into the trap of living under the bondage of the Law. Live free in the grace you have been given through the death of Jesus Christ. That is wise living. That is what it means to make the most of every opportunity. So, to put it plain, live in God’s grace and you will impart God’s grace to others. As you live free in the grace you have been given through the death of Jesus Christ you will see the opportunity (Kairos moment) and you will respond making for a Kodak Kingdom moment (Ephesians 5:16).

The Unknown is Known to God

The Unknown is Known to God

Daily Reading: (Genesis 12:1):

“The Lord had said to Abram, “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you” (Genesis 12:1).

Many people think this is the first time God spoke to Abram. It is the first recorded words of God to Abram, but it is not the first time God spoke to him. You’ve got to go to the New Testament to find that God previously spoke to Abram in Acts 7:2-4. The reason this is important is to show that when God will call us forward by faith into an unknown place He will confirm His calling to us.

To this he replied: “Brothers and fathers, listen to me! The God of glory appeared to our father Abraham while he was still in Mesopotamia, before he lived in Harran(Acts 7:2).

When we come to Genesis 12:1- the place Abram is currently at is Haran.  Abram would first settle in Harran. Harran which means dried up, parched. God’s calling on your life is not to inhabit, and live in the dried up, parched place (Haran), it might be a stop in the journey, but God is leading you to the lowland or the green pastures (Canaan) [Genesis 12:1]. 

Abram’s earthly father had died and that can be disorienting in and of itself and make you want to camp out and inhabit in the place of grief with your other loved ones. If you will put your trust in your heavenly Father and step out into the place God will lead you to, you will find movement from a dried up place of death to a new place full of life (Genesis 11:32, Genesis 12:1-3). That is where faith will lead you because that is where God is directing your path.  

Sometimes we miss the point when we think about how great Abram’s faith was, it wasn’t perfect. He forgets or doubts what God says in the very same chapter. So, this isn’t about Abram’s faith but what God’s Word will bring forth in his life.

“I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you;
I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing.I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth
will be blessed through you.”

Did you notice there is no condition put on this? You and I might screw up like Abram did many times but in Christ our salvation is secure and we are blessed as we take steps forward in our lives by faith. Even if we doubt and even if we screw up, we are still going forward to the Promised Land.

What was it that enabled Abram to head out into the unknown place? It was the Word of the Lord that initiated the faith of Abram (Romans 10:17).  

The more we see what Jesus has done for us, the more we see what Jesus has qualified us for, and the more faith will spring up within us to see miracles break forth.

As Abram (naca’) removed himself from the promised place (Canaan) he encountered famine outside of God’s Promised Word to him (Genesis 12:9-10). No matter how bad he screws up God will deliver on what He promised. The resort to Egypt (the world) is typical of the tendency to substitute for lost spiritual power the fleshly resources of the world. 

God gave Pharaoh the wisdom to see that this happened because of Abram’s faithless moment so that Abram might once again be brought back to the Word of God (Genesis 12:18).

Rewards of Peace

Listen to the Message

Daily Reading: (James 3:18, Proverbs 12:20, Philippians 4:6-7):

“And the seed whose fruit is righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.”

“Deceit is in the hearts of those who plot evil, but those who promote peace have joy.”

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

Peace is a beautiful gift that Jesus has given to all believers.  There are also rewards that come with peace as well.  This just magnifies the truth that not only does all fruit we bear in our lives comes from abiding in Jesus (John 15) but also that we will be rewarded for the fruits that Jesus helps us to bear (Romans 2:6-7, Revelation 22:12).

Reward #1 Peacemakers reap a harvest of righteousness (Peacemakers will show the way to receive Jesus’ peace).Christ the Righteous One, gave us His righteousness and through His life in us, will sow or spread peace out of our lives. His peace manifested through us will lead others to the way of Messiah’s peace (which is salvation).

Reward #2 There is a reward of joy for the peacemakers.

Proverbs 12 is incredible because it paints the picture of the life of someone who is in Christ. Here is what is said about the righteous children of God leading to verse 12:

  • loves discipline, loves knowledge (verse 1)
  • favor from the Lord (verse 2)
  • cannot be uprooted (verse 3)
  • just plans (verse 5)
  • their speech rescues (verse 6)
  • their house stands firm (verse 7)
  • praised according to their prudence (verse 8)
  • care for the needs of their animals (verse 10)
  • their employees are blessed (verse 11)

Reward #3 Paul says in Philippians 4:7 that the peace of God transcends all understanding. Our thoughts can be surpassed with the mind of Christ that we have (1 Corinthians 2:16). What we must desire to have in a peace robbing moment is the very thoughts of God about us and our situation.

So the reward of peace (with God) is the capacity to receive spiritual truth from God that surpasses our limited finite wisdom in all situations that will guard our hearts (affections and passions) and minds (understanding, judgment, conscience) of the favor position we have in Christ Jesus.  Peacemakers have the reward of joy, as the life of Christ in us spreads peace. This leads others to the way of Messiah’s peace (which is salvation).

Peace with God

Peace with God

Daily Reading: (Romans 5:1-2):

“Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God.”

Before we received salvation through Christ we were not at peace with God and it was impossible for peace to be with us. Sin had separated us from a holy and righteous God.

Right away the first word in the first verse that we encounter is a therefore- which gives us the clue that Paul is mid-thought. “Therefore” in verse 1 speaks to what Paul was referencing in chapter 4- so our peace with God and our understanding in it- insight is gained as we read chapter four.

Romans 4:3: “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.” Righteousness or right standing with God was based upon faith for Abraham not law-based living as this is reinforced in verse 13. The point is that peace with God does not come from law-based living. Peace with God is a free gift that comes through faith by God’s grace (Romans 4:13-15a).

“Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have… (echo) to have and to hold. So no one and nothing can take from us (eirēnē) peace with God (Romans 5:1). Peace with God is different from “peace be with you” in that our relationship with God (salvation) does not change but the peace we receive can waver.

Paul says faith in Jesus led to peace with God and also that you were put in and established firmly in His grace. Our response should be rejoicing or boasting in our family name- that we belong to Jesus (Romans 5:2). We have hope despite what we see, despite what we feel, because we have been justified by faith and we have and hold the very peace of God through our Lord Jesus Christ (Romans 5:1).