Come Forth, Unbind Him

S (Scripture) – John 11:43-44 “When He had said these things, He cried out with a loud voice, ‘Lazarus, come forth.’  The man who had died came forth, bound hand and foot with wrappings, and his face was wrapped around with a cloth.  Jesus said to them, ‘Unbind him, and let him go.'”

O (Observation) – Lord Jesus, when You call us out of spiritual death, and tell us to “come forth” to spiritual life with You, that is an amazing thing.  2 Corinthians 5:17 says, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.”  What’s interesting to see here about Lazarus is that he was still bound with grave clothes when he walked out of the tomb, even though he was now alive.  He still needed to take them off and walk in the newness of life, free from the items that bound him in death.  Likewise, even though a new Christian may be alive for the very first time after trusting You and receiving the Holy Spirit, it is necessary (by Your grace) to shed those remnants that continue to bind.  Lazarus did not walk out of the tomb in a new outfit – he took off the old, and then put on the new – it is a process, but one that thankfully begins and ends with Your grace.

A (Application) – When we see other believers walking in bondage to past hurts, unable to let go of brokenness, bitterness, and resentment, or even just continuing to believe the lies of the enemy and this world, we can pray for them, and ultimately come alongside them, in order to help them grow in their relationship with the Lord, and understanding the truth about who they are in Him.  Maturity is a process, not an event.  Recognize that just because someone has professed to be a Christian does not automatically mean that they are walking in the freedom that God has for them.  “Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom (2 Corinthians 3:17).”  Our role is to help others understand the freedom that is already available to them.

P (Prayer) – Heavenly Father, thank You for freedom.  Thank You for Your desire for us to not only come fully alive in You, but to walk without the hindrances of our past bogging us down.  You invite us to take the backpack of stones that we have been carrying our entire lives and just drop it at the foot of Your cross.  Oh, the feeling of walking for the very first time without that weight!  What a glorious truth that so many of our Christian brothers and sisters still have yet to claim for themselves.  Help me to live a life of perfect freedom in You, and help others do the same.


Fully Alive

S (Scripture) – John 10:10 “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.”

O (Observation) – While Satan desires to render us ineffective for the Kingdom of God, Jesus has come to build us up, and to equip us.  Satan attempts to tear us down, steal our joy, destroy our hope, shipwreck our faith, and wants us to doubt the very existence of God and His goodness.  Jesus wants us to have true life – abundant life – not just a meager earthly existence where we shuffle through each day, waiting for the next task to complete.  He wants us to live on purpose, fully alive, walking in-step with the Holy Spirit each and every day.

A (Application) – We hear it all the time – “life is short.”  None of us is promised tomorrow.  God has given us this opportunity on earth to live for Him, here and now, and He has Kingdom work for us to do.  We mustn’t allow another moment to go by where we fail to embrace the life-changing truth that our God wants us to live a life of abundance, purpose, intentionality, and love.  Don’t allow the temporary setbacks of each day to cloud your vision of what will ultimately matter in the grand scheme of eternity.

P (Prayer) – Lord, thank You for this promise – that You want us to have this abundant life for You.  Show me what that looks like.  Help me to walk victoriously all the days of my life.  I pray for protection of my mind – don’t allow anything in this world to distract me and pull me away from Your kingdom purposes.

Different Ways of Getting Lost

I came across my very first journal recently, and plan to share these entries as a way to preserve them, pass them on, and see how the Lord has richly blessed my journey with Him over the years.

March 15th, 2009

S (Scripture) – Luke 15:1-10, 24 Now all the tax collectors and the sinners were coming near Him to listen to Him.  Both the Pharisees and the scribes began to grumble, saying, “This man receives sinners and eats with them.”

So He told them this parable, saying, “What man among you, if he has a hundred sheep and has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open pasture and go after the one which is lost until he finds it?  When he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing.  And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!’  I tell you that in the same way, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.

“Or what woman, if she has ten silver coins and loses one coin, does not light a lamp and sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it?  When she has found it, she calls together her friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found the coin which I had lost!’  In the same way, I tell you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”

[The Parable of the Prodigal Son], with v.24, “…for this son of mine was dead and has come to life again; he was lost and has been found.’ And they began to celebrate.”

O (Observation) – [Taken from the Life Application Study Bible notes: “The sheep was lost because it foolishly wandered away; the coin was lost through no fault of its own; and the son left out of selfishness.”]  What really struck me is how some people get lost through no fault of their own…whether they just grew up in a household where Jesus was never taught, or they were in a very “religious,” but fake/empty household, these people didn’t ask to be lost, like the one who was foolish or selfish.

A (Application) – Even more of a reason to reach out for Jesus and share Him with others – because everyone desperately needs Him, but some do not have Him and it is for no reason of their own.

P (Prayer) – Heavenly Father, I want to share You with everyone, even those closest to me…help me!

I Was Blind, Now I See

S (Scripture) – John 9:25, 35-38 “He then answered, ‘Whether He is a sinner, I do not know; one thing I do know, that though I was blind, now I see…’  Jesus heard that they had put him out [of the Temple], and finding him, He said, ‘Do you believe in the Son of Man?’  He answered, ‘Who is He, Lord, that I may believe in Him?’  Jesus said to him, ‘You have both seen Him, and He is the one who is talking with you.‘  And he said, ‘Lord, I believe.’  And he worshipped Him.”

O (Observation) – Lord, You reveal Yourself to Your children.  In this interaction with a man that was born blind, You restored His sight, and the religious leaders of the day still questioned whether or not You are the Son of God.  They tried to find every possible reason why not to trust in You.  Not much has changed.  The people of this world search the Scriptures looking for errors, contradictions, and some sort of concrete means to disprove Your truth.  They are not really interested in what You have to say, as they are blinded by their own selfish desires.  One thing that can absolutely never be taken away from a believer is his or her own personal experience and relationship with You.  People may argue about everything in the Bible, and bicker about whether or not they believe in what You say, but they cannot deny the personal redemption and restoration of a born-again, Spirit-filled believer.

A (Application) – You are not some ancient book that stands idly by as Your children decide whether or not they are going to conform to some religious standard…we have both seen You, and know that You are the one who is talking with us.  You are alive, active, moving Your kingdom agenda forward in our midst, and beckoning us to fall to our knees at the cross and surrender completely so that we can be a part of it.  You will never force Yourself on anyone, but, by grace, You do relentlessly pursue our hearts.  When we face open rejection and opposition from the world that just cannot believe in Your truth, we can stand firm in our own personal experience with You, and rest assured that You are faithful to us to the end.

P (Prayer) – Lord Jesus, You are a personal God.  You know us better than we know ourselves.  You are standing at the end of our lives and waiting on the other side, yet You walk in step with us each and every day.  Your sacrifice for us on the cross was not just so we could be in Heaven with You when we pass on from this life.  It was very much for the here and now – our life on this earth should be lived abiding in You (John 15:4).  Paul says in Galatians 2:20, “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.”  Thank You, Jesus – may we live our lives with You at the helm, confident that our experiential faith is unbreakable, and our hope is eternal.

The Outside of the Cup

I came across my very first journal recently, and plan to share these entries as a way to preserve them, pass them on, and see how the Lord has richly blessed my journey with Him over the years.

March 11th, 2009

(S) Scripture – Luke 11:39-52 

But the Lord said to him, “Now you Pharisees clean the outside of the cup and of the platter; but inside of you, you are full of robbery and wickedness.  You foolish ones, did not He who made the outside make the inside also?  But give that which is within as charity, and then all things are clean for you.

“But woe to you Pharisees!  For you pay tithe of mint and rue and every kind of garden herb, and yet disregard justice and the love of God; but these are the things you should have done without neglecting the others.  Woe to you Pharisees!  For you love the chief seats in the synagogues and the respectful greetings in the market places.  Woe to you!  For you are like concealed tombs, and the people who walk over them are unaware of it.”

One of the lawyers said to Him in reply, “Teacher, when You say this, You insult us too.”  But He said, “Woe to you lawyers as well!  For you weigh men down with burdens hard to bear, while you yourselves will not even touch the burdens with one of your fingers.  Woe to you!  For you build the tombs of the prophets, and it was your fathers who killed them.  So you are witnesses and approve the deeds of your fathers; because it was they who killed them, and you build their tombs.  For this reason also the wisdom of God said, ‘I will send to them prophets and apostles, and some of them they will kill and some they will persecute, so that the blood of all the prophets, shed since the foundation of the world, may be charged against this generation, from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah, who was killed between the altar and the house of God; yes, I tell you, it shall be charged against this generation.’  Woe to you lawyers!  For you have taken away the key of knowledge; you yourselves did not enter, and you hindered those who were entering.

O (Observation) – Jesus rarely, if ever, talked down to the “sinners” of his day.  The prostitutes, adulterers, tax collectors…rather, He spent the majority of His rebuking on the “religious” of His day.  Even if people are doing the “right things” with the wrong intentions and motives, they’re still wrong.  Jesus spoke about separating the sheep from the goats, and in other metaphors so that the “sinners” would recognize the need to repent; but to the Pharisees He told them to their faces that they were flat out wrong.

A (Application) – Jesus is merciful and encouraging to those who just don’t get it yet…but teachers (who “get it”) will be judged more harshly.

P (Prayer) – Lord, open the eyes of my heart that my intentions will always be pure and for the right reasons.

Know the Truth, Be Free Indeed

S (Scripture) – John 8:31-36 So Jesus was saying to those Jews who had believed Him, “If you continue in my word, then your are truly disciples of Mine, and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.”  They answered Him, “We are Abraham’s descendants and have never yet been enslaved to anyone; how is it that You say, ‘You will become free’?”  Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is the slave of sin.  The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son does remain forever.  So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed.”

O (Observation) – Lord, if we continue in Your word, You promise us that we will know the truth – this implies that there is such thing as ultimate truth, and consequently, there is also the presence of lies in the world.  Our post-modern world tries to tell us that truth is relative – that each person can have his or her own truth and that we are all right.  This is just not possible.  If we are not in Your word on a regular basis, mediating on it, seeking to understand it, and hiding it in our hearts, we are vulnerable to the lies so easily presented to us from a variety of conflicting sources – the media, entertainment, and society at large are all fundamentally opposed to what is true.  So many people live each day in bondage to the slavery of sin because they are believing the lies of the enemy and of the world.  You crashed into time, became flesh, and dwelt among us in order “to testify to the truth (John 18:37).”  By believing this truth, You have promised to set us free.

A (Application) – People often ask, “What exactly is Jesus saving us from, anyway?”  There are a few responses such as “hell,” “eternal separation from God,” “ourselves,” etc. that are all correct.  One response that is typically overlooked is the fact that God sets us free from the slavery of sin.  What does that even mean, exactly?  We are slaves to whatever it is to which we are obedient – if we are obedient to our sinful nature, apart from Christ, we are slaves to sin.  If we are obedient to Christ, walking in step with the Holy Spirit, we are slaves to Christ.  Despite the fact that we are now “slaves to Christ,” we are actually in fellowship with our Lord and Creator the way we were designed to be connected, and therefore, are actually free.  2 Corinthians 3:17 says, “For the Lord is the Spirit, and wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.”

P (Prayer) – God Almighty, thank You that You never give up on me.  I am far from perfect, but by Your grace You continue to draw me closer and closer to You each day.  I will never have all of the answers, have it all figured out, or pretend to understand with clarity everything there is to know about You…but I don’t have to – I trust that You are my Creator, and You designed me to walk in freedom with You.  I don’t see our relationship as a set of rules that I have to abide by in order for You to love me.  I see our relationship as me abiding in You, and You abiding in me, as a result of the complete love and acceptance I feel from You by the free gift of grace given to me by Jesus’s death on the cross and subsequent resurrection.  Jesus conquered sin and death!  I obey You because I love You.  Help me to remain in Your word and truth always, no matter what the opposition tries to say otherwise.

The World Hates Its Censor

S (Scripture) – John 7:7 “The world cannot hate you, but it hates Me because I testify of it, that its deeds are evil.”

O (Observation) – Jesus, You are telling these words to your brothers who did not yet believe in You to try and help them understand why the religious leaders of Your day hated You and wanted to kill You.  “The world,” as used here, refers to humanity that is far from You spiritually.  Why would anyone in all of creation intentionally distance his or her self from the Creator of the universe?

Taken from The Pulpit Commentary:  “The world hates its censor; it repels the judgment passed upon it.  It is satisfied with itself and its own idea of righteousness.  It is satisfied with its own standards and cries and professions, so that to be accused of wrongful notions, of a depravity under the clothing of Pharisaic propriety, of a hidden leprosy which is eating into its vitals, rouses all its animosity.”

In other words, the natural human condition is sinful apart from You, and no one wants to be told what to do, what is right and what is wrong.  The world believes it is perfectly capable of determining appropriate morality based on the culture of its day.  Over time, what is deemed to be right in the eyes of society will change.  God’s word never changes.  Those who preach and teach God’s word will always face opposition from a world that naturally opposes anything that may indicate the way of its thinking is not in alignment with the truth and God’s design.

A (Application) – None of this is new – even in the book of Judges, we see the cycle of “men doing right in their own eyes,” followed by the Lord withdrawing His protection and covering from the nation, then there was a humbling experience required to get the nation’s attention, and then the people cried out to God for someone to rescue them.  This cycle happened repeatedly – people that are far from God spiritually will always default to doing what is right in his or her eyes, leaving God and His word out of the equation.  We must recognize this natural, fleshly tendency to desire our own way, and consciously place the Holy Spirit on the throne of our life each and every day.

P (Prayer) – Lord Jesus, You are Lord of my life – You are in control.  I thank You for rescuing me from the barren wilderness otherwise known as life apart from You.  Help others to see that walking in step with You is not a laundry list of rules and regulations, but rather, relationship of love and trust – You know what is best for Your children, and we need to trust that Your ways are higher than our ways.  I’m so thankful that Your Holy Spirit comes alongside each of us to help us in our journey of understanding more fully all that You want to show us.  I pray for a lost and broken generation of people that think they know better than You – help them to know how much You love them, and desire for them to come to a knowledge of the truth.