There is within man an innate instinct for survival. When life is threatened, we do whatever is necessary for self-preservation. Science calls this the fight or flight response. Whichever method we employ, we do so with the sincere belief that it is the best option for our survival.
I find myself employing the same self-preservation tactics even as I attempt to lay down my own life on an altar and die. My flesh resists. I continually fight or constantly run. I fight against the death of my flesh even though it is my desire to lay it down that my LORD may live through me.
Why is it that I lay my life: my problems, my fears, and my sins on the altar only to find them clenched in my firm grip once again?
Because dying is hard to do.
The Spirit in me knows this flesh must die but my flesh is fighting for its life, fighting for its desires. This battle between flesh and Spirit is constantly raging. Paul described to us the difficulty of dying by telling us that it is something he had to do on a daily basis.
I die daily. – 1 Corinthians 15:31
Wow! If Paul, the great apostle and writer of much of the New Testament, if this Paul had to crucify his flesh afresh on a daily basis, then dying must be hard to do.
So here I am at the altar. Before I had hoped that I would crucify this flesh and the battle would be over; but it wasn’t so. My flesh is fighting for survival and the Spirit in me is fighting for Life. Once again, I am laying it all on the altar. I am dying to my will, my selfish ambitions.
I will do it again tomorrow. Because dying is hard to do.
But I am finding that it is possible. And, oh, the joy I find when I am crucified with Christ!
State regulators got more than they bargained for in 1999 when they asked local minister Joe Wright to bless their session in prayer. Everyone expected the normal “politically correct” generalities that come with prayers in these situations, but what they heard instead was a stirring call to repentance and righteousness.
Heavenly Father, we come before You today to ask Your forgiveness and to seek Your direction and guidance.
We know Your Word says, “Woe on those who call evil good,” but that’s exactly what we have done.
We have lost our spiritual equilibrium and reversed our values.
We confess that:
We have ridiculed the absolute truth of Your Word and called it pluralism.
We have worshiped other gods and called it multiculturalism.
We have endorsed perversion and called it an alternative lifestyle.
We have exploited the poor and called it the lottery.
We have neglected the needy and called it self-preservation.
We have rewarded laziness and called it welfare.
We have killed our unborn children and called it choice.
We have shot abortionists and called it justifiable.
We have neglected to discipline our children and called it building self-esteem.
We had abused power and called it political savvy.
We have coveted our neighbor’s possessions and called it ambition.
We have polluted the air with profanity and pornography and called it freedom of expression.
We have ridiculed the time-honored values of our forefathers and called it enlightenment.
Search us, O God, and know our hearts today, cleanse us from every sin and set us free. Guide and bless these men and women who have been sent to direct us to the center of Your will. I ask it int he name of Your Son, Living Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.
Twelve years later, America needs to pray this prayer more than ever.
You may have heard in the news or possibly seen the advertisements guaranteeing that Saturday, May 21 will be the day that the LORD takes His church out of the world and begins a five month period of judgment and destruction of this earth. I do not wish to enter into a discussion on the accuracy of these predictions, nor do I wish to mock the man (and group) that is making them. As for my stance on the issue, I believe that the LORD may very well come back on Saturday, May 21 but I do not believe that the Bible guarantees it. It would simply be a coincidence that someone had guessed the very day.
I simply want to say, whether the LORD comes today, May 21, or later… THAT DAY IS COMING!
If the May 21 predictions were correct, what feelings would you have? Just imagine that the Church is taken out of the world and judgment begins on this day. Do you feel anxious? Scared? Nervous? Or do you feel confident?
1 John 2:28 “And now, little children, abide in him; that, when he shall appear, we may have confidence, and not be ashamed at his coming.”
This Scripture plainly teaches that we should be confident concerning the appearing of our LORD. If the thought that this world may come to an end in the near future does not leave you feeling confident, ask yourself, “Am I abiding in Him?” If you would be ashamed if the LORD returned on Saturday, May 21, ask yourself, “What am I doing that I would be ashamed of? What am I NOT doing that I would be ashamed of?”
Repent. Correct those things today. This could be the day.
Once again, I was struck with the realization that what I call punishment God calls mercy. It has to do with the motivation of punishment. If you are a parent and you punish your child with the motivation being the child’s best interests, the child calls it punishment but you call it mercy. If your motivation is not the child’s best interests, the child calls it punishment and I call it abuse.
God does not abuse His children!
Isaiah 57:14-21 gives us one of the most beautiful and poetic pictures of God’s mercy to the repentant and contrite of heart.
“I dwell in the high and holy place, with him who has a contrite and humble spirit.” (57:15)
“I have seen his ways, and will heal him; I will also lead him…” (57:18)
I will “restore comforts to him and to his mourners.” (57:18) *What a great promise for those of you that are praying for a backslidden loved one.
These verses are beautiful and their promises overflow with the hope of anyone who has ever fallen and stood back up. God forgives! I was encouraged as I read these words today, but then my eyes fell on the final verses of the chapter.
“But the wicked are like the troubled sea when it cannot rest, whose waters cast up mire and dirt. ‘There is no peace,’ says my God, ‘for the wicked.” (57:20-21)
I read that and call it punishment, until I understand His motive. There is no peace for the wicked, no peace in this world outside of Him. The purpose of the punishment is to direct us back to Him. I call that mercy.
Their shouts of anger have become our prayer for pardon! The irony of what they said…
“When Pilate saw that he could prevail nothing, but [that] rather a tumult was made, he took water, and washed [his] hands before the multitude, saying, I am innocent of the blood of this just person: see ye [to it]. Then answered all the people, and said, His blood [be] on us, and on our children.” (Matthew 27:24-25)
They said it with hearts full of anger. Wanting only to be finished with this Jesus. “Who cares, Pilot! The blood won’t be on you. Let it be on us and on our children! Just crucify Him!”
We say it with hearts emptied in repentance. “We have failed you, Jesus. We are sinners. We need your forgiveness. Let your blood cover me and my children!”
Good Friday. Is His blood on you?
“…and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.” (1 John 1:7)
Jesus did not offer any conditions when He told his disciples to follow him. He didn’t give them any specifics. He didn’t tell them where they would be going. He didn’t say follow me, unless I go somewhere that you don’t want to follow. He simply said, “Follow Me.” And that meant Everywhere.
And if I may, let me suggest on this Easter week, that there are three very specific places that we must follow Him; we must follow Him to the cross, we must follow Him to the grave; and then (and only then) we will follow Him in resurrection.
1. The Cross
“Take up your cross and follow me,” is what Jesus said. There is no following Christ without a cross. There is no following Christ without repentance. Many imagine that they are following Jesus but they have not turned from their sin and toward Him. Paul knew it and understood it. He said, “I die daily,” and “I am crucified with Christ.” If we are going to follow Him, following Him to the cross will be one of the first steps that we take.
2. The Grave
Just as Jesus was buried, we also must be buried with Him in Baptism. Baptism is done by immersion (greek: baptizo) and is in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. Paul had more to say about this in his letter to the Romans, “Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death…” If we have followed Jesus to the cross, it is only natural that we will follow Him to the Grave.
3. The Resurrection
Finally, if we have followed Jesus to the cross and to the grave, we are promised that we will follow Him in resurrection. “…that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also [in the likeness] of [his] resurrection:” When we follow Jesus to the cross in repentance and to the grave in baptism, we are promised that we shall follow Him in resurrection as we are gloriously filled with the Holy Ghost!
What do you say friend? Have you followed Him Everywhere? If not, this Easter season would be a great time to fall in behind Jesus and let your heart sing, “where He leads me, I will follow.”