Sunday, September 30, 2012

A Seed Of Doubt

How do you feel when you know you can do something but someone doubts your ability? It's pretty devastating isn't it? You've got yourself all psyched up to do this great thing and someone comes along who pops your bubble with "Are you crazy? You can't do that". Suddenly you feel like you can't. You have to have a lot of confidence and determination to do great things in the face of doubters.

Doubt is a destructive thing no matter what we are talking about but especially when it comes to your relationship with God. Here we have been promised all these things by Jesus and we should be able to act upon them, but many of us don't because of that nagging voice of doubt. "What if ..." is what we hear over and over again. What if that promise isn't for you? What if he is holding something against you? What if you've got it all wrong? What if he doesn't really love you? Maybe this is the reason apostle Paul prayed this for the Ephesians:

I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith.  (Ephesians 3:16-17)

Yes, we need to be strengthen in our inner being so that we have the faith to permit Jesus to live in us. There are plenty of voices on the outside and inside yelling at us that we are stupid to believe. It is only going to get worse. As the world looks for justification to hate the Church it will attack the truth with lies and will try to paint a picture of you to make you feel stupid for believing.

The pressure will only get worse as we have prominent celebrities telling parents to believe what they want but not to pass their superstition on to their children. I know parents don't want to hear it but there is a concerted effort in the school system to separate children from faith in Jesus. It comes as no surprise as the Bible tells us over and over again what the last days look like:

But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive,disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God—  having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with them. (2 Timothy 3:1-5)

You think it is bad now? Watch what is already here and growing. There will be hatred in the world against the Church and even within the Church there will be destructive forces trying to destroy you, the Bride of Christ:

The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons. (2 Timothy 4:1)

We need to check ourselves and encourage others to check themselves. We need to take inventory and see where we stand in faith with Jesus. We need to shore things up now because the days are growing short and the great tide of opposition is beginning to hit us. It will not get better and is promised to only get worse. If you don't have faith to stand up under the little bit you have been facing now because of the name of Jesus, how do you hope  to stand against the great storm that is approaching?

I'll tell you how: you will stand in the power that is strengthening you in your inner being. That power is given by the Father to insure that you will stand because in faith Jesus lives in you. You are far more powerful, strong, determined, and persevering than you can possibly imagine because of Jesus in you. Block out those voices, get your eyes fixed on the goal, don't stop praising Jesus and, no matter what it costs. never give up on the hope that is ours. Our Father will see us through the days that lay before us and we will meet together in the home he has prepared. Until the that day comes, stay strong in the Lord and stand your ground.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

We Are Family And That Means Something

I have ten children and it is not very hard to tell they are related. Some of them have the same features yet they are clearly distinct from each other. It is strange, some are short and some are tall. Some are blonde and some are not. Some are bulky and some are thin. Some are dense and rather heavy to pick up yet others are as light as a feather. Some laugh easily and others are a little more withdrawn. Some are soft spoken and others are as loud as a freight train. Still, it is easy to tell they are from the same family.

My children share many of the same experiences. They have memories that tie them together. The vocabulary they use is similar. Some of their mannerisms are common between them. They share many of the same likes and dislikes. But the thing that ties them all together is their name. They are tied together by the same name due to their common parentage. It is the same with you and me.

You and I belong to the same family. We may live on opposites sides of this planet, come from different races and nationalities, have different likes and dislikes and we probably don't look anywhere near the same, but we are still family. In fact, you and I have the same experience in common that changed how we look and act, our nationalities and race. We are no longer identified by anything from this world because we belong to God's family; we have common parentage:

For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom his whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name. (Ephesians 3:14-15)

I don't need to know anything else about you; tell me you are Christian, a follower of Jesus and you are already precious to me. You are family to me. That is suppose to mean something between me and you. It means we have a privileged obligation to love and support each other. I have a responsibility to encourage you as you have that same responsibility to me. Sometimes we forget when we allow the system of this world to rule over us, but the Bible makes it clear:

The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body. So it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. (1 Corinthians 12:12-13)

It doesn't matter where we go in this world, if we are in the company of Christians we should always feel welcomed and at home. It is the same if someone joins with us, we should always make them feel welcomed and at home because they are our brother and sister.

Maybe the practices of our congregations are a bit different,  it doesn't matter. What matters is that we have the same Father, we are under the same King and we were birthed in the same Spirit. We have the experience of the cross in common and we are all clothed with the same spiritual garments. Gone are the nationalities, races, colour of the skin, different languages, all borders are erased. The only national pride we feel is that of the Father's love. All ties to this world are cut and our identity is only found in Jesus Christ. This is quite the family we belong to and we have much to celebrate together.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Live Large For Jesus!

You have to admit that our perspective is pretty messed up. The things we tend to put value on have no eternal value at all. The things we try to avoid are the things that are essential for our growth. We read and study the Bible and only hold on to the things that make us feel good. We like celebrating the victory without participating in the fight. We tell God to take our life and use us but when he does we fight him all the way. It's not meant to be this hard.

Something that should tell us that we don't quite get it is found in the book of Acts. It is the part where the apostles were arrested, questioned, beaten and then released. They did not come out of the prison shouting about their rights or demanding justice. They came out celebrating that they were considered worthy to suffer for the name of Jesus. It doesn't mean we should go out looking to be beaten but it should tell us that our view of what is valuable is all wrong. It should tell us that our attitude is not exactly where God would want it to be.

When apostle Paul wrote to the Ephesians he was writing from jail. This was likely his last letter written; this and 2 Timothy. He did not want them to be discouraged by his situation so in a paragraph he reminded them of who he had been and who he now was through Christ. Nothing had changed because of his circumstances. Just because he was in jail did not make him less of an apostle or unable to fulfil God's purpose for him. He summed it up with this:

I ask you, therefore, not to be discouraged because of my sufferings for you, which are your glory. (Ephesians 3:13)

Paul was not in jail because he killed someone or because he was a thief. Paul was in jail because he lifted up Jesus Christ. He was suffering for the Name of Jesus and it was the glory of the Church. We seem to miss that in our living. Suffering for the Name should be celebrated not avoided.

I want to draw a distinct line here when it comes to suffering. Suffering for the Name is persecution, it is not putting up with poverty or cancer. We have been given authority over many things and disease is one of those things. Suffering for the Name is when we are carrying out the mission and trouble comes against us because of it. It is when you are sharing Jesus with someone and they spit in your face. It is when you get arrested for preaching on the street corner. It is when great men and women of learning call you an idiot and lost in the dark ages of superstition. It is when friends and family back away from you because you are too extreme in your faith.

How much do we really love Jesus? He said that if we love him we would obey him. Obedience is more than trying to live a good life. Obedience is to go because he told us to go and to do what he told us to do. "Make disciples", he said, not "build a life for yourself", "gain a reputation", "be well thought of". Live for me and the lost, is what Jesus said. Love as I have loved, Jesus said. Do greater things than I have done, Jesus said. Do not fear when the world hates you, it hated me first, Jesus said.

This life here is not about us. We occupying a dying vessel that is only meant for a temporary time. As clay vessels we only have a certain life span as we break easy, but we have been told to make the most of the opportunities we have. Live in complete freedom from this world with it's do's and don'ts and live with complete confidence in Jesus. Do not avoid suffering for the Name but instead learn to appreciate and celebrate it. Live in boldness and lift up the name of Jesus for the whole world to see. This is the glory of the Church, to live a life of unbridled love for Jesus and for the lost for whom he died. This is our life, so live it to it's fullest potential in Jesus Christ, our Lord, Saviour and King. Live large for Jesus!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Freedom And Confidence

Why do we make it so hard on ourselves? Maybe there is a bit of masochism in each of us, I don't know, but I do know that too many of us make things far too difficult for ourselves. Approaching God is the easiest thing that we can do once Jesus is Lord of our life, yet we create tons of barriers for ourselves and look for methodology. There is no methodology when it comes to our relationship with God.

He loves us when we are angry, joyful, thankful, in a rotten mood, depressed, sorrowful, ignorant, insightful. We don't have to be in any frame of mind to come to him. We don't have to pray certain words. We don't have to be in a certain position. There isn't one physical location in this world more holy than any other. We don't have to climb a mountain or find a cave. We don't have to wear certain kinds of clothes or do anything special. All we do is say, "Father ..." and we are there. Or if you prefer, sit in quietness and allow your spirit to cry out.

As long as we are covered by the blood of the Lamb, the blood of Jesus, we have all the confidence and boldness to come to our Father just as we are, wherever we are:

In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence. (Ephesians 3:12)

A tiny little verse in the context of a bunch of other things but it speaks so well of the simplicity of our relationship with God. I am not saying that the events behind it, the things God did to make it possible, are simple, but God did a complicated thing to make the important thing simple. Simple is good. Simple is exactly what we need. Simple says, "Love me with everything you have." That's God to us.

In fact, Jesus said that everything comes down to those two things: "Love me with everything you have, hold nothing back" and "Love everyone else too". You see, simple is good. We should be spending our lives learning how to do these two things. Forget all the toys and gadgets, the retirement funds, nest eggs, building a career and finding your place in the world. If these two things are not the corner stones of everything we do, our purpose and desire, we are wasting our lives.

It is when we love God with everything that we have, we know we may approach him with freedom and confidence. Freedom, many of us understand but it's the confidence we lack. We think that God is going to hold something against us, that there is something we have done that he has not forgiven. Maybe a sin we have forgotten about, something we hid away. We need to relax and understand that the Holy Spirit brings to mind anything that needs to be dealt with and when he does, deal with it. Meanwhile, relax and enjoy this incredible relationship we have with our Father.

I am not saying our attitude doesn't matter. It does matter. Our Father holds nothing back from us. The promises are all ours but in order for us to actually receive them, to be open to them, to accept them, we need to be a grateful people. Gratitude opens us up to receive. God is holding nothing back but we block the blessings when our heart is hard and cold. Gratitude softens us up and makes us ready to receive. We can approach God with any attitude but if we want to get anything out of it we need to come in love, with the praise on our lips that come from the overflow of a grateful heart.

But come on, stop making it so hard on yourself. Jesus died for a reason. He was also raised from the dead for a reason. He has given you life in abundance. He has flung the gates wide open for you to come to the Father in freedom and confidence, just as you are, covered by the blood of the Son, transformed, adopted and welcomed with great open arms. Doesn't our God deserve all our praise for the great things he has done for us? Then stand in his presence and rejoice always! I will say it again, Rejoice! Enjoy the simplicity of it today.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Not Limited To What We See

I wish there was some way to show people that there is much more going on than what they see. We limit ourselves by what we can see, touch, smell, hear and taste, as if our five senses is all there is to reality. But there is so much more going on than what we realize. There is so much more than what science can explain. There is so much more to you than you realize at this moment.

How can a Christian not believe in witchcraft, ghosts and evil spirits? How can we laugh at the paranormal and say people who believe in it are crazy? Have you read the Bible?

- Balaam - who accessed God through divination (Numbers 22)
- Witch of Endor - a medium whom Saul went to (1 Samuel 28)
- Ghost of Samuel - brought up by the witch of Endor (1 Samuel 28)
- the countless demons Jesus cast out, just to mention a few things

God said not to have anything to do with this stuff, not because it isn't real, but because it is real and it destroys people. It is part of the darkside and it exists.

I bring this up, not because it is our topic today, but because I want to make my point that there is more going on than this limited physical existence we experience every day. I don't write about the dark stuff for the same reason the Bible doesn't go into details: My purpose is to glorify God, not lift up evil. I only point this out because I want you to know that God is using you to teach angels.

Yes, you, a member of the Body of Christ, the Church, are being used by God to teach his wisdom to all rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms. Those are the ones that you cannot see with your eyes, touch with your hands, smell with your nose, hear with your ears, or taste with your tongue, but they are there and you are God's object lesson:

His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms, according to his eternal purpose which he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Ephesians 3:10-11)

God kept his plans so close to his chest that not even the authorities in the heavenly realms knew what he was up to. Yet, through us, mere clay vessels, God is displaying his glory and making known his wisdom to angels. They are looking in on us with awe as God reconciles us, his enemies, to himself and then glorifying himself through us. I don't know, maybe we are too enamoured with the decaying delights of this world to understand the awesomeness of this, the thing that even the angels find amazing.

I just want you to know, as you wake up and get going in this normal day of yours, that you are a walking object lesson of God's wisdom today. You my friend are a trophy of grace. You are a clay vessel containing the glory of God. You are the object of our Father's affection. You are even the Bride of Christ. As you live your typical day, with your typical friends, in your typical town, with it's typical delights, realize you are far beyond typical to the authorities of the heavenly realms. They are watching you with wonder at the great things God has, is and will do through you. May others see the glory of Jesus in you today.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

The Danger Of Being Entertained

Sometimes we consider our church pretty boring. It's not as hip and exciting as some of the churches out there. Sometimes we wish there was a way to make Bible reading and Bible study more interesting. If only we could dress it up somehow and repackage it; a lot more people might get into it. Sometimes we are a bunch of spoiled children who have been over stimulated by this world and have lost all spiritual sensitivity. We have no idea how absolutely fantastic our church and Bible are.

When we come into our churches we are looking to be entertained. We look for the wrong type of value in our experience. What we should be realizing is that we are about to look into the great mystery of our God and what he has done. We consider, "Yeah, yeah, I know already. God loves us, yada yada yada". We have this attitude because we look at the results without understanding the roots of it.

Do you think that apostle Paul found this boring? Was he looking for entertainment value as he suffered for it? I think Paul woke every morning with a sense of excitement and urgency because of what he had to share and teach to people:

This grace was given me: to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, and to make plain to everyone the administration of this mystery, which for ages past was kept hidden in God, who created all things. (Ephesians 3:8-9)

Look at that wording: the unsearchable riches of Christ. Guess what? Through the revelation that has been given those riches are now searchable to you every time you open the Word of God. Not everyone can see it. You have to have Jesus to have the Spirit and it is the Spirit who gives us understanding. That's us, understanding that mystery of God and are able to tell other people about it.

Paul's job was to make plain the administration of this mystery. How is it possible for us, who were not a people to become a people? How is possible for us to receive salvation? How is it possible for us to be possessed by the Holy Spirit? How is it possible for us to be in the presence of God? These things were unknown before. The people of Israel did not enjoy what we enjoy today. This mystery was kept hidden in God until now, revealed in this age of grace.

What is available to us now was not available to even the prophets. They could only look in on it, from a distance, write about it, long for it; this thing that we consider dull and lacking entertainment value. Do you not realize that Jesus said the least of us, so the one with the smallest amount of faith, is greater than John the Baptist. As great and important as John was he did not get to enjoy what we have today.

This world with all its sensuous delights, with all its entertainment value, its bright lights, loud noises, and time wasting activities, is dulling our spiritual senses. It is overwhelming and distracting us. It is ruining our palate so we can no longer distinguish between junk food and the riches of Christ. If church is boring and the Bible dull you need to ask Jesus to clean your palate so that the things of this world become dull and uninviting, and the things of God explode with excitement in you. I think we can all do with a little palate cleansing.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Humility And Power

Sometimes we do not know as we aught to know. Other times we do not see ourselves as we aught to see. It is true that God has declared us holy and blameless. It is true that as his children we are beautiful in his sight. It is also true that we are the objects of his affection. But we also need to keep in mind that this is all by his grace. Sometimes we forget and we think of ourselves more highly than we should.

It's almost like a balancing act because we do not want to deny who we are in Jesus. We have the authority to cast out demons, heal the sick and bring new life into every situation. Not our power but the power of Jesus in us. We have this incredible relationship with our Father to be free in and to enjoy it. At the same time we can't allow it to go to our head so that pride ruins the whole thing. That was Satan's failing and we do not want to repeat that mistake.

Humility must remain a cornerstone of our walk with Jesus. That should be an easy thing considering our humble beginnings. Doesn't matter what we were before we met Jesus. We could have been the most successful, wealthy, liked person in the world but before God we were nothing more than a rebellious creation, a sworn enemy of the Creator. When we accepted Jesus everything changed, it was a rebirth and suddenly we were rich in all the blessings of our God, a child of the Father and a sibling of the King.

Apostle Paul never forgot what he was before encountering Jesus and it kept him humble, despite his position in the Church:

I became a servant of this gospel by the gift of God’s grace given me through the working of his power. Although I am less than the least of all God’s people, this grace was given me: to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ. (Ephesians 3:7-8)

It was because of his persecution of the Church that Paul always considered himself the least of God's people. It kept him humble but it did not rob him of his purpose or of the power of Jesus in him. Paul knew what he had been and he knew what he was now. He also knew that he did not deserve to be in that position and it was simply a work of God's grace that had him there. Paul clearly understood his purpose and the One who made it possible for him to fulfil that purpose.

We can remain humble without denying the purpose and power of Jesus in our life. We may feel like the least of God's children but we must never deny his grace to do with us as he sees fit. We cannot deny our calling just because we do not feel worthy of it. Who does? The person in service to the King who feels he deserves to be there should not be there. Pride is knocking on his door. All of us were worthy of only death but it was by grace that we have received salvation and by grace that we serve.

Too often we judge ourselves and others by the past but as a follower of Jesus our pasts do not exist. We are a new creation and we need to remember that too. Yes, allow what you were to keep you humble in your service but also allow what you are now, a child of God and a servant of the King, to cause you to rise up and fulfil your purpose. Although I was 'that', by grace I am 'this'. Be not proud but neither handcuff the Spirit in you by denying God's grace which has transformed you into something beautiful and new. Serve our Lord in humility and power.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

By What Are You Defined?

What defines you?

Is it your hair?

Perhaps it is the way you laugh or maybe your smile. Your perfect teeth?

Maybe you are known as a reader, someone who curls up in a corner with a book and disappears from this world for hours at a time.

Are you defined by your causes, the things you constantly champion? There are so many good things in this world to hold up. So many things that people need to defend. So many needs.

You might be defined by your family, if it is a strong or strange family.

There are lots of things that can define us if we allow them to. There are many different faces we can present. There are many different ways that we can shape how we are known. Or, we can allow other people to do it for us.

Sometimes things we have no control over are used by people to define who they see us to be. Born to a single parent. Born to a poor family. Raised in a dysfunctional neighbourhood. Do we get to choose our height or gender or skin colour? But these are used by some to define us.

We cannot do much about how some people choose to define us but we can do a lot about how we define ourself. In fact, we should know that we don't define ourselves. We are defined by our Father.

A couple of things we need to understand starts with the fact that our Father had a choice with us. He could have just left us to our own destruction. Sin defined us, as did hatred and rebellion. But our Father's love for us was too great. While we were his enemies he did what had to be done so that he could adopt us. He had to sacrifice his only Son so that a way would be made possible for us to become his children.

People don't understand that Jesus sacrificed himself for eternity. Jesus gave up what he was to become the first born. He became something new. He became what we will become on resurrection day, the day we will be called to him. In a blink of an eye everything will change. But for now, at this time, in this place we are covered his grace. Our Father is covering us, calling us holy and blameless, declaring it so that it is.

You see, we are defined by our Father, by the grace he has poured over us. He has called us holy and blameless. He has called us his children. He has called us sinless and perfect in his sight.

In his sight!

It doesn't matter how anyone else defines you. Doesn't matter how you define yourself. Doesn't even matter how Satan defines you. All that matters is how the Father defines you.

And he says you are beautiful!

But don't just sit there admiring yourself. There are a lot of other people lost in the ugliness of their sin who also need to hear this good news. They need to hear that God has redefined them, that they are not stuck, that there is hope, light and a future for them. You need to tell them, because of Jesus, our Father only sees perfection in them.

Go on! Tell them.

For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. (Ephesians 1:4)

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. (Ephesians 2:8-9)

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Have You Thought Much About Israel?

I don't often remark on specific countries because I believe there are no borders for those of us who follow Jesus. Our pledge of allegiance is not to a single flag but to our King. We are not citizens of a piece of territory defined by a line on a map because we are citizens of a Kingdom that is far above the definition of man. However, I do want to point out why Canada appears to be a nation blessed above other nations in recent days.

Where the world has suffered terrible financial hardships, Canada has breezed along relatively unscathed. There have been some natural consequences to a financially struggling world but, despite the nay sayers, Canada is doing excellent. Many don't understand why, citing that perhaps it is because of our strong banking system. There is another reason but most people don't want to consider it: Canada has stood by Israel, defending and supporting her when most of the world turned their back on her.

It is clear that Israel remains important to God and the Word of God speaks truth: Those who bless Israel are blessed and those who curse her are cursed. As Christians there are even more important reasons for us to stand with Israel.

We may not agree with what is going on there and it is true that much of that nation has turned its back on God, but that is for God to deal with. The reason we need to stand with Israel is because the word is clear that they will turn to Jesus. They are part of us and we are part of them:

In reading this, then, you will be able to understand my insight into the mystery of Christ, which was not made known to men in other generations as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to God’s holy apostles and prophets. This mystery is that through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body, and sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus. (Ephesians 2:4-6)

Even though this is a revealed mystery it seems it is still a mystery to most Christians. Some actually think that we have replaced Israel, that we have replaced the Jews. But God has said that he has brought the two together and has created a new thing, so now we are all the Church, the Body of Christ.

Some blame Israel for the Middle East Crisis but Israel is not to blame for bringing beauty to a wasteland. Israel is not to blame for protecting herself. It was the world who came into agreement to give Israel back part of the land that was taken from her many years ago. It was God's judgement to take away the land those many years ago just as giving Israel back is part of the end time prophecies fulfilment. We need to be watching Israel because the signs of Jesus' return is seen there.

I know this may seem uninteresting to you but it is important for us as fellow members of the Body of Christ to realize. Seek the blessing of Israel and stop with the cursing. Don't be indifferent to her plight but support her in prayer. Don't ignore what is going on there but instead diligently watch and look for the signs of our King's return. Israel remains an important place for all of us.

Friday, September 21, 2012

How Do You See Yourself In The Big Picture?

Sometimes it is hard for us to understand that we are not the center of the universe. Sometimes, from our perspective, everything rotates around us. That is, unless we have just fallen in love. In that case everything rotates around the object of our affection. But we are not always in that state of love and so we find ourselves fairly solid at the center of our universe.

Even when it comes to the latest brand of Christianity being peddled around the world, we have God placing us on a pedestal, as if everything around us is just for our benefit. Strange how the Word tells us to consider others more important than ourselves. Strange how Jesus never sought for himself but always gave out to others. Strange how he demonstrated the attitude and actions of a servant.

Have you thought for a moment that God is very pleased with you and has already prepared your reward which is to come? But right now, at this moment, he needs you in the role of a servant. Have you thought that his purpose for you is not to selfishly receive from him but to be one who administers God's great gifts to others? Have you thought for a moment that he has placed you where you are so that he can love others through you and glorify himself in you so others will come to know him?

You know about apostle Paul. Do you know that he realized that what he received was not for his benefit but for those whom he was sent to minister? All that grace he had received, the great revelation and insight into God's Word, he realized was for the benefit of those lost outside of the nation of Israel:

For this reason I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for the sake of you Gentiles—
Surely you have heard about the administration of God’s grace that was given to me for you, that is, the mystery made known to me by revelation, as I have already written briefly. (Ephesians 3:1-3)

"Given to me for you." Can you imagine waking up to the reality that everything you have ever experienced was never meant for you directly but was for others to have through you? Well, that is our reality which we have twisted so that we are the center instead of those to whom we are sent to minister. Of course there is a residual benefit. What passes through us also benefits us but we are not the sole intended target. Each of us have been placed her to administer the grace God has given to us.

Without a doubt our Father loves us but I wonder how often we disappoint him when we put ourselves ahead of those he wants us to love? I wonder how disappointed he is with the self-centered nature of this latest brand of Christianity? I pray for the conviction of the Spirit to come upon us, that we would realize what we are making it to be compared to what our Father desires it to be. I pray for a fresh revelation of God's truth, that we would be horrified that our neighbour is facing the eternal fires of hell and instead of being concerned about our own needs. May we realize that this great grace that has been poured into us is for the benefit of those to whom he sends us, like our neighbour.

Selfishness does not please Jesus but generosity does. Be generous with the grace of God and with everything else he has freely given you.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Borders Do Not Exist In The Kingdom

At the prayer meeting last night we had a discussion about our citizenship. We were discussing the different political situations in the world and the up-coming American election. We talked about the importance of realizing that the only place we call home is the Kingdom of God and, although we vote for those who best represent Jesus, we do not belong to the process. We have no part in civilian affairs. We are Kingdom dwellers.

Now this morning, I open the Word of God to see what I will be writing about today and I read this:

Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit. (Ephesians 2:19-22)

Citizens with God's people, members of his household. Not Canadians, Americans, Brits, or anywhere else but citizens of the Kingdom of Jesus Christ. Sometimes we live as if we have duel citizenship but this nullifies the most important citizenship. With Jesus it is all or nothing. We are only passing through here, and God has placed us exactly where he wants us because he needs us in that place. We are passing through this place but we are passing through with purpose.

It doesn't matter where we were born, what language we speak or what traditions we follow, when we accept Jesus as Lord all that stuff falls away and we stand as a new citizen of the Kingdom. We are part of God's family. That is how we must see each other. If I meet a brother from Russia I do not see a Russian but a fellow citizen of the Kingdom. We do not allow to exist any differences between us because we are united by the same Spirit, have the same King and are loved by the same Father.

As citizens of the Kingdom we must rise above any boundaries or traditions that would attempt to divide us. There are brothers and sisters being killed in various parts of the world because of the name of Jesus. Egypt and India are bad places to be as Christians but our Father has placed them there for a reason and they must stand their ground. What are we doing to support them. Are we praying? Are we reaching out in support? Or is it because they are not from our country that we don't care?

This is crazy. We can't let things of this world divide us. Politics of this world cannot be a wedge. It doesn't matter your age, sex, nationality or tradition when it comes to our citizenship. The Word tells us:

There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. (Galatians 3:28)

For our American friends I would like to add Republican nor Democrat. For those in Canada, especially Quebec, I would add, Federalist nor Separatist. You are familiar with your part of the world and know the things that divide there so consider them. In many of the countries were there is Muslim unrest, our brothers and sisters are suffering. We look at the news and want to wash our hands of the whole thing, but our brothers and sisters are there with a purpose. Don't allow the traditions of this place to blind you to the work of the Kingdom.

We need a real good shacking up so the blinders will fall from our eyes allowing us to see with God's perspective. Far above everything else we are citizens of the Kingdom. We have a responsibility to support, encourage and build up our fellow citizens. It dishonours our King for the citizens to tear each other down over things that have nothing to do with the Kingdom. There should be no differences between us, only love, peace and joy. It would do us good to remember which of our passports is for eternity.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

God Has Done A New Thing

I realize that politics and government are boring subjects to many people. We would rather just deal with what is important to us and leave the important stuff to other people to figure out. Even in the Church we only want to deal with worship and prayer, leaving other matters to the pastors and elders to deal with. But there is one subject that is important for us all to grasp and deal with. It is important for us to understand our relationship with Israel.

Wow, I actually heard a number of people switch off there. No, seriously, it is important for us to understand our relationship with Israel because there are those who believe that we have replaced the Jewish nation. They teach that the Jews have been kicked to the curb and the Church has been raised up in their place. This is wrong.

We can never forget that we have been grafted in but the Jews are natural to the vine. Although they have been allowed to exist in the darkness of their rejection of Jesus, they will not remain like this. Those who are natural to the vine will awaken to the truth and when they do it will be a beautiful thing. What is really important for us to understand is that we will be one with them. We have not replaced them. God has done a new thing, tearing down what was and creating something new, in which the natural and the unnatural have become one and the same:

For he himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by abolishing in his flesh the law with its commandments and regulations. (Ephesians 2:14-15)

That's where the Jews struggle, over the law issue. Who can blame them? The law has defined them for thousands of years and then God says, "No, I am doing a new things." Suddenly instead of leaning on the law they have to lean on Jesus. Yes, in order to be part of this new thing God is doing, both the natural and unnatural must enter through the cross, the blood of Jesus Christ:

His purpose was to create in himself one new man out of the two, thus making peace, and in this one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility. (Ephesians 2:15-16)

Now there is no longer the natural and unnatural, the Jew and the Gentile. God has done a new thing and we are one in Jesus. The Jew no longer has the advantage of the law, it is no longer what defines them. We are no longer excluded, left out in the cold, considered foreigners. We are as natural to Jerusalem as the Jews. We all have the same Father and we all have access to him by the same Spirit:

He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit. (Ephesians 2:17-18)

It is why we pray for and support Israel. We have not replaced Israel but instead, together, we have become something new through Jesus Christ by the will of the Father. Many may be in the dark right now but soon they will see. In fact, many Jews have abandoned even the Law, abandoned God and have nothing to do with faith. Pray that the conviction of the Spirit and the faith of God will descend on these people so we will see our brothers and sisters rise in Jesus and take their place with us. May God receive the glory in the love we show to Israel.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Kicked To The Side

Have you ever been excluded from anything? Kicked to the side? Ignored? That was most of my Junior High years. Having been moved to a bigger school, separated from my friends, and by nature shy, I was an easy target. It was a horrible feeling and for three years I hated going to school. Being left out in the cold, without a friend in the world, surrounded daily by hostility is a terrible position to be in.

That is exactly where we all were before Jesus rescued us. Here is apostle Paul's description in point form:

"Therefore, remember that

- formerly you who are Gentiles by birth and
- called 'uncircumcised' by those who call themselves 'the circumcision' (that done in the body by the hands of men)

Remember that at that time you were

- separate from Christ
-excluded from citizenship in Israel and
- foreigners to the covenants of the promise
- without hope
- and without God in the world." (Ephesians 2:11-12)

Alone, vulnerable, bullied, owned by the enemy of God, excluded, foreigners, without hope. Pretty dark times. It is good for us to remember these things so our hearts will be filled with gratitude and praise because our Father was not satisfied to leave us kicked to the side. He had a plan to adopt us and he did it through the first born:

"But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought bear through the blood of Christ." (Ephesians 2:13)

Isn't that an incredible truth to wake up to or go to bed with. We can never forget what we were so we can never forget what Jesus has done for us. We can never get so set and comfortable in our new skin, new situation that we forget the grace and love that was pored into us. Yes, we must grow and mature but we cannot afford to forget.

If we forget we may grow spiritually fat and lazy. We may forget the foundation of our praise and worship. We may forget to be humbly grateful. We may even allow a complaining spirit to occupy our mouth. We may set our eyes on those things that have no great value and forget that which has worth beyond compare. We can't afford to forget.

Paul told us to remember. We are a branch that has been grafted into the vine. We have been adopted into this family. We are 100% sons and daughters but remember that for which we must be eternally grateful. Our Father has done a great thing for us by becoming our Father. Remember and praise him for this incredible act of love.

Monday, September 17, 2012

A Bunch Of Do Gooders

A couple of days ago I wrote concerning the tension between grace/faith and works. We created that tension. It shouldn't exist. It didn't exist for apostle Paul. He is the one who had the great revelation of the gospel of grace. He was the promoter and defender of this revelation. Yet, he was able to speak of grace and works in the same breath.

Of course I am not speaking of earning our salvation and I wrote very clearly about this a couple of days ago. Our salvation is by God's grace alone. This grace is by faith and even this faith God gives to us. If you missed this then go back and read it before we progress.

Re-read the passage for me and take note of how easily Paul speaks of grace and works together:

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. (Ephesians 2:8-10)

Salvation by grace not by works and yet we have been created in Christ Jesus to do good works. This is the part that concerns me. Everyone is so hyper sensitive about making sure that the world understands we can't earn our salvation that we back away from the good works. But we can't back away because God has prepared these good works for us in advance.

We have not been saved and left here to become philosophisers but doers. We are not "doing" for our salvation, to get in good with God, but in obedience to the love he has drowned us in. We do not "do" to have a relationship with Jesus but because of the relationship with Jesus. The "created" part comes first followed by the good works. If we get it backwards we are in trouble, but this does not mean we back away from it. We just need to make sure we have it in the right order. Now note a couple of things here.

First, we are God's workmanship. We are the result of his fine work. He did all of this, not us. We could not provide even the faith that was required. When I came to Jesus it was a result of a brief moment when God flooded me with faith to see and believe. All I did was accept the truth, fall on my face in repentance, and receive what was being offered to me. The moment before I had no faith and could not see. One hundred percent of my salvation belongs to God and I am here today as a result of his work.

The second thing to note is that we have been created in Jesus. I think we sometimes forget that the old us has passed away. We died and have been raised in Jesus. We died and became a new creation. We have been created in Jesus for God's purpose. We do not belong to ourself and every selfish notion that we have is foreign to what God created us to be. Let go of what you were and embrace what God has created.

Now he has not created you to sit around. You have been created to do good works. Not just any good works but the good works he has prepared in advance for you to do. How do you know what they are? Easy, they are whatever he brings to your attention. If you see the struggling mom on the bus then he has given you the job of helping her. If you notice the overgrown lawn of your neighbour then he has given you the task of lending a hand. If someone's financial need is brought to your attention then you are the one tagged to do something about it. If you know of a neighbour who is gravely ill you are to go to them and pray healing. If you come across someone possessed by the spirit of drugs then it is you who must cast out that demon.

He equips us for these good works. He will give you back whatever energy you need to put into it. Whatever time is used he will make sure is blessed. Whatever resources you need to use he will replenish. Never think that you can out give God. It is his plan to glorify himself through you, through the good works he has planned in advance for you to do. Don't be shy about it, rise up and take your place. It is your purpose.

We are a bunch of "do gooders" and we should be happy for it. Doing good, not for our salvation but in obedience to love. Jesus told us that we have freely received so we must freely give. As we have been loved we must also love. As we have been forgiven we must also forgive. Let's be that Army of love, do the good works we have been given to do, allow God to be glorified through us, and watch as the Spirit convicts the hearts of people through our actions.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

When Life Seems Too Confusing ...

Are you a bit confused? Join the club. There are a lot of things in this world that don't make sense. A lot of contradictions. At times life can be very complicated because our hearts can be complicated. Never forget, there is a battle raging over you. Your heart is the object of that battle.

Life is as complicated as we allow it to become. It is all a matter of decisions. Some decisions that we need to make we don't want to make because it means closing certain doors we do not want to close. Yet, by not making those decisions we are making a decision, and that is very sad.

If anything in life we should be decisive. Make the decision and live with it. No regrets. Just live with the consequences of that decision. But what if it is the wrong decision? How can we be certain that it is the right decision? Seriously, what if, after making a decision we realize it is the wrong decision? My only advice in this is not to follow your heart, because often it is corrupted by a selfish nature. You need to follow our measuring rod, the only real guide we have in this life: Jesus.

Measure your choices and decisions against Jesus. Consider what he has taught us. Consider his example. Consider his purpose for us. Consider if our decision adds to his glory or takes away from it. Listen to the Spirit, understanding that the Spirit will never go against the Word of God.  Always be governed by Jesus' directive to love.

We get into trouble when we don't consider our decisions, we just react. Whatever we "feel" like doing we do. We allow our emotions, our loves and hates, likes and dislikes, pleasures and discomforts, to dictate our decisions. We filter perspectives with opinions and prejudices. Then, when things turn ugly, we are completely baffled by it.

Now, about that question: What if we do make wrong decisions because of our foolishness? Live with it. Seriously, we all mess up. We all occasionally get distracted and take our eyes off of Jesus. We all allow our emotions to get the better of us from time to time. We all make bad decisions. We shouldn't but we do. Living your life in regret will not benefit anyone. Say sorry. Ask for forgiveness. Repent. Do what you can to make amends in love and then have faith. Trust God.

Yes, even in our bad decisions God is sovereign. There is nothing wasted in the Kingdom. Our God is far greater than anything we can imagine and we are simply told, "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose". (Romans 8:28). This is found in the passage that explains that we are more than conquerors through Jesus. That means that we are overcomers. Through Jesus we overcome even our bad decisions by having faith that God turns everything to his advantage.

Grace is no excuse to sin. It is no excuse to sit back and put no effort into living for Jesus' glory. It is no excuse for reactive decision making in your life. Grace covers all things that fall through the cracks of our living for Jesus. This prevents regrets. It does not excuse an unrepentant heart but it does give us hope when we do repent.

This was not the blog I intended to write today. It was suppose to be part 2 of yesterday's blog but these are the words that evolved as my fingers flowed across the keyboard. It means these are the words you needed to read today. Take it to heart. Consider whether your life is governed by Jesus, whether every decision you make is weighed by his example. Consider that he has given you everything you need to live a life that glorifies him so make your decisions accordingly. I leave you with the words Peter was given to write, inspired and directed by the Holy Spirit:

"If anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God. If anyone serves, he should do it with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen." (1 Peter 4:11)

Saturday, September 15, 2012

We Are So Pathetic God Even Has To Provide The Faith

As soon as you mention "works" associated with the Kingdom there are people who start hyperventilating. There are a great hoard of grace zealots who bounce on anyone who dare mention "works". I am in agreement that we must defend, teach and hold up the cornerstone of apostle Paul's great revelation on grace but we must also recognize that we have been left here to "do". So I want to consider this in two parts.

First, let's consider that apostle Paul was so completely comfortable with grace and works that he could actually mention the two in the same breath:

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. (Ephesians 2:8-10)

Let's start with grace.

"For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith."

We have said it before and we will continue to say it: there is nothing you can do to save yourself. The only way to salvation is through Jesus. The only access to the Father is through Jesus. The only method of entering eternal rest is through Jesus. The only path to the blessings of God is through Jesus. And Jesus was a gift. We didn't ask for him. We couldn't imagine him. He was not someone we earned. Jesus was given in love, despite the fact we were the enemies of God.

" - and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God -"

What is Paul talking about here? What is the gift of God? Grace or faith? Considering that we already know that grace is not from ourselves and that grace by definition must be a gift, Paul can only be talking about faith. Faith is not found in us. Faith is not from us. Faith is a gift of God. We really can't do any of this on our own. There is no good thing in us to earn any favour from God. We can't even muster up enough faith for our salvation. God has done everything for us just as we have to do everything for a new born baby. Let that reality grip you: even faith is a gift from God.

"not by works, so that no one can boast."

We are saved by grace and not by works so no one can boast and God receives all the glory. I don't know about you but I know this fact to the core of my being. From the top of my head to the very inner place of my soul I know that I could never earn any favour from God. I know my former rebellious nature. I still feel it's shadow with every temptation I face. I know every day that it is God who is working out his will in me and I gladly surrender to him. I do this because I know the alternative, the thing from which he saved me, and I do not want to go back there.

I find it amazing that he has even provided me with the faith I need to receive his grace. He really has done everything and we have done nothing. "Not by works" and yet Paul continues, "created in Christ Jesus to do good works", and that is where many people get confused. Having addressed grace and faith today, I want us to consider this thing of "works" tomorrow.

Until then,

 Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. (Eph 1:2)

Friday, September 14, 2012

Glorify Yourself Through Me Today

Part of the reason we aren't getting much done for the Kingdom of God is because we do not realize that we have already received everything God has promised. We have everything we need. We do not have to be concerned about ourselves any more. There should be no focus on us and all focus should be on the work of the Kingdom.

There are those who will tell you that we have no work to do; that it is God who does all the work. They are right that we can't do anything for our salvation and all we can do is cooperate with the Holy Spirit when it comes to our own salvation. However, the instructions in the gospels and epistles are very clear that we have been called to do the work of the Kingdom of God, whatever the Spirit instructs us to do.

There are far too many Christians who just want to sit around and navel gaze, ponder deep thoughts, be romanced by Jesus. I'll give you that there must be a time of romance in every relationship but a husband and wife can ill afford to ignore their other work to sit at a candle light table for two all day. They have house work to do, looking after the children, earning money to put food on the table. The must reserve a time for romance to keep the relationship healthy but it isn't 100% of the time.

We have no idea why but God has called us into a partnership. It is like a father calling his son to his side to join him in his work. Perhaps it is so he can mature us through this work (I believe Ephesians 4 lends itself to this idea). Perhaps it is just because he wants to spend time with us. Whatever the reason, he has called us to join him in his mission to save the world. Through these jars of clay he is glorifying himself for the same reason he glorified himself through Israel, that the whole world would know him.

So realize this, we have received all the promises, we have everything we need, we do not have to beg anything from Jesus because it is already ours. If there is anything you feel you need just ask and it is yours. He has equipped us for the work. Now drink this in and realize where God sees us:

And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. (Ephesians 2:6-7)

So we are already sitting with Jesus in the heavenly realms. In our body we may be in this place where we are partnered with God in the mission, but in the spirit we are seated in the heavenly realms, in Jesus. We have everything ever promised so we do not have to be concerned with ourselves in order that we can concentrate on others.

We do not work to earn anything from God. We are not joined in this mission to earn brownie points. There is nothing to earn. We work out of love. We work in obedience. We work because we are compelled by the Spirit and by the love of Jesus. It is a pleasure for us to do so. Everything we need we have been given by the grace of God. If we are seated in the heavenly realms with Jesus what more could we want?


So stop filling your days with yourself and trust Jesus. Trust the promises. Trust that you already possess everything and that there is nothing else you need. Then get your eyes off yourself and on to everyone around you. Listen to the Spirit. Do what he tells you to do. Listen to the instructions and watch as our Father glorifies himself to the world through his obedient children. That should be the prayer constantly on our lips, "Father, glorify yourself through me today". Our desire is that the world would see Jesus, not us! Don't make it about you.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

It Is Good To Remember

Let's not kid ourselves, there has been big changes in our lives since we repented and accepted Jesus Christ as Lord of our lives. Stop and think about what you we were before Jesus:

As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. (Ephesians 2:1-2)

Don't sugar coat it, call it what it was. You used to belong to the false prince, the dark lord of the rebellious mob, those who are the enemies of God. We were filled with nastiness; nothing more than foul dumb beasts. We thought we were free. We thought we were the captains of our own destiny. We thought we were so intelligent, beautiful and wise. Yet, all that time we were actually ugly, twisted and unnatural to what God had created us to do.

It's good to remember where we came from.

Sometimes we forget. We forget and we look down at those we are still there, who are still disobedient. We look down and consider ourselves better than them. We point fingers and tell them to behave themselves while forgetting what it was like to be them. Forgetting that no matter how much we tried to change ourselves we couldn't. Of all the people on this earth, we should be the ones with great understanding, compassion and love for those who belong to the false prince:

All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath. (v.3)

Enemies of God. That's what we were. Objects of wrath. Deserving death. Deserving God's righteous judgement. God's enemy. Deserving to be removed from his creation. From his thought. From his memory.

It is good to remember.

But let's stress the "were" here. We were the enemy of God. We were objects of wrath. But something changed all that. Someone changed all that. And he didn't change it after we had cleaned ourselves up. He didn't change it once he thought we had earned it or deserved it. While we were still sinners, deserving death, he changed everything:

But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. (Ephesians 2:4-5)

There you go: because of his great love for us. Jesus went into the enemy's camp, not to slay us but to save us. He rescued us from the darkness; he showed us the way out; he broke the bonds and gave us the capacity to choose. We chose wisely. We chose Jesus and that has made all the difference.

That is an important point we must remember: we were dead in our transgressions when Jesus died for us. We were disobedient enemies of God when Jesus died. There was no redeeming quality, nothing good, nothing in us that provoked God to act on our behalf. It was simply because he choose to love us that God acted to rescue us. He loved us when we were in the same condition as our unsaved neighbour. It means he loves our neighbour and everyone else who remains dead in transgressions.

Because Jesus loves them we must love them. It is our purpose for remaining here, to allow Jesus to glorify himself through us so that others will be saved. We need to stop condemning the objects of God's affection even though they remain the objects of wrath. Understand God's great love and compassion for those who are his enemy. It shouldn't be hard to do. Look at what he did for you. But always remember, we can't save them. The only one who can rescue them is Jesus, and he desires to glorify himself through us for this purpose. Understand your purpose.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Because Jesus Is Lord Of All

Why do we rob Jesus of his power and glory? I enjoy seeing the testimonies people share in social networking. I appreciate the inspirational photos. I am moved by the declarations of faith and trust. But I scratch my head when in the next breath the same people are expressing fear, worry and anxiety. Do they not realize that they are robbing Jesus of his glory, power and authority?

Jesus is sovereign over all things. We love to say "Jesus is Lord of all or not at all" but then lead a life that denies the truth of it. Jesus is Lord of all, period. Because he is sovereign over everything it means there is nothing going on in your life that he does not have power to deal with. Instead of despair and hopelessness we should be expressing love and trust. We need to start living the faith we confess with our mouth.

Read these words again slowly. Drink them in like a fine wine. Let it go down slowly. Let your soul consume and enjoy the delicacy of this truth:

I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is like the working of his mighty strength, which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way. (Ephesians 1:18-22)

Let those words play across your mind:

- seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms
- far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given
- not only in the present age but also in the one to come
- God placed all things under his feet
- appointed him to be head over everything for the church

Every time we express doubt we are denying this truth.

Every time we allow fear to overwhelm us we are denying this truth.

Every time we cry over what we cannot achieve and deny God's will we are denying this truth.

Every time we complain about what we lost we are denying this truth.

Every time we paint ourselves as a victim we are denying this truth.

God placed all things under his feet. All things. That means everything. How easily we deny him, forgetting the precious promises that have been given to us:

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28)

... because he is sovereign!

These are not poetic words or a great looking sound bite. This is the truth by which we live, love and worship. This is faith beyond words, expressed in acts of trust and determination. This is when we stand against the storm, trusting the one who is greater than the storm. This is when we allow the truth to lift us above our circumstances as we know the one who is sovereign over all things. This is when we allow joy to permeate our entire being even when everything is taken from us. It is when we shout the words from the depth of our soul, `Not my will but yours be done`.

Because we know.

Because we trust.

Because Jesus is Lord of all.