Saturday, September 12, 2015

Unless you repent...

“Now on the same occasion there were some present who reported to Him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices. And Jesus said to them, "Do you suppose that these Galileans were greater sinners than all other Galileans because they suffered this fate? I tell you, no, but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish. Or do you suppose that those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them were worse culprits than all the men who live in Jerusalem? I tell you, no, but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish."”       Luke 13:1-5 NASB

We began our study in Luke 13  with a look at the brevity of life. Yesterday, we paused to remember 9 11. (Follow the links to get caught up.)  

Today, we return to Luke 13. Jesus was speaking to the "crowd", people who had come to hear Him, but weren't necessarily disciples. They "reported to Him about the Galileans". I can hear them talking with Jesus. Maybe it went something like this...

"Hey, Jesus, did you hear about those men from Galilee that got killed in the temple?"

"Tell me about it." (Because He already knew, but he wanted to hear them admit what they had on their minds.)

"You're from Galilee. You might've known them. Anyway, they were in the temple to offer their sacrifice, and Pilate's soldiers came in, swords a'blazing, and killed them. It was terrible. Blood was everywhere. Sacrifice blood. Galilean blood."  What sin must they have committed to deserve something like that? (They didn't say this part, but they probably thought it.)

Jesus, as usual, went straight to the heart of things. "It was terrible. Did you think they were killed in this way because they were worse sinners than you are? Unless you repent you will all likewise perish."

I would think a hush fell over the crowd. Really, what could you say to that?

"Do you think the men who were killed when the tower of Siloam fell on them were worse than the people who live in Jerusalem? Unless you repent you will all likewise perish."

When Jesus had an important point He wanted to be sure His listeners understood, He repeated it. This is an example of the confirmation of importance by repetition. 

Twice in one conversation, Jesus said, "Unless you repent you will all likewise perish." (I've repeated it to confirm it's importance, too.)

This short passage was not about the perils of traumatic death, nor about a murder committed in the temple. 

Jesus was speaking about the deadly consequences of sin.

Unless we make a conscious decision to address the sin in our lives, we, too, will be in grave peril, because the wages of sin is death. That death is an eternal separation from God, spent in hell.

We can have eternal separation if we choose, but it would be so much better to repent, turn to our loving Heavenly Father, and spend eternity in heaven.

With one short sentence, Jesus brings us to a decision point. Unless you repent... 

Why wait? Repentance must be done

Let's pause to take a close look at our lives. Are we living the way Christ intended us to live? Are we obeying Him? Are we living in such a way that others can see Christ in us? If not, let's simply repent and choose His ways, His paths.
Our Father, who are in heaven, hallowed by thy name. Forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us. Help us to not only ask for forgiveness, but also turn away from our sin and choose your way. In Jesus' name, Amen.

#disciple #theBible #JesusChrist #repent #eternallife   photo courtesy of

Friday, September 11, 2015

Remembering 9/11: How to Prevent Another Terrorist Attack

“Now on the same occasion there were some present who reported to Him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices. And Jesus said to them, "Do you suppose that these Galileans were greater sinners than all other Galileans because they suffered this fate? I tell you, no, but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.”       Luke 13:2,3 NASB

Today is the anniversary of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States. For those who are reading from outside the U.S., al-Qaeda terrorists hijacked four airliners. Two of the planes were flown into the World Trade Center towers, one hit the Pentagon in Washington, and a fourth crashed in a Pennsylvania field. 2,973 people died in the initial attacks, and more have died as a result of their injuries since. 

Life has changed radically in this country as a result of those terrorists who sought to destroy the symbols of American prosperity and government. Since that dreadful day, we've traded freedom for a tentative and fragile security. Are we safer now than we were then? Probably not, despite all the men and women who work tirelessly to prevent another attack.

I say those frightening words, not because those who work to protect us are inefficient or ineffective, but because of the nature of evil itself. Hunting down and destroying a single person might make us feel safer, but it is not enough, for the enemy is not a specific nation or a specific terrorist cell. The enemy is not even one specific terrorist mastermind.

The enemy is the master of lies and deceit, Satan himself. The Apostle Peter wrote, "Your adversary, the devil, prowls about like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour." (1 Peter 5:8) Jesus described him as the thief who "comes only to steal and kill and destroy". (John 10:10)

It somehow comforts us to think that security screening at airports, passport checks, watch lists, and vigilant guards can protect us. The Apostle Paul wrote that "our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places." (Ephesians 6:12) No airport scanners can screen for the "world forces of darkness".

What, then, can be done? Are we powerless? Must we sit back and let evil devour us? Of course not. If death and destruction ultimately come from the enemy of our souls, then our efforts at protecting ourselves need to be directed at the ultimate enemy. 

It will not be the people outside the body of Christ who fight this battle. It will be those who follow Christ. As disciples, we must fall on our faces and fight in prayer. 

The movie War Room was #1 in the box office at this time last year. We're drawn to the idea of powerful prayer; we celebrate the potential victories to be found in intercessory prayer. Being intrigued by spiritual warfare through prayer, however, is not the same as being involved in prayer. It is not the same as being committed to prayer, being effective in prayer.

If we want to protect ourselves and those we love, we must do it God's way. The foundation for battle is a lifestyle of love (loving God first and our neighbors second - Matthew 22:38-39). The manner of battle is spiritual. 

The protective gear includes the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, the boots of the preparation of peace, the shield of faith, and the helmet of salvation.

There is only one offensive weapon with which we can effectively battle evil, and it is not a gun or a bomb or a missile. It is the Sword of the Spirit which is the word of God. 

"With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition..." (Ephesians 6:18)

It is past time for the body of Christ to be the body of Christ. 

Fake church is not only a waste of time; it is an offense to God. We must become disciples who are willing to do battle for our family, our culture, our world, and we must do our battling on our knees with the sword of Scripture. 

As we remember the more than 3,000 people who died as a result of the terrorist attacks and ponder the enormity of evil in this world, let us, the disciples of Christ, commit ourselves anew to the war that only we can fight. Let us dedicate ourselves to continuous intercession, praying the very words of Scripture, and do battle. 

It is past time to take up our armor and use the powerful, two-edge Sword that God has given us. 

The words of Jesus to those shocked by the brutal attack at the temple, in which men from Galilee bled and died, are no less pertinent today than they were more than 2000 years ago. "I tell you, no, but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish." (Luke 13:3 NASB)

If we hope to save our nation, we must do our part. There is no one else. Body of Christ, arise, take up our armor, fall to our knees, and fight. 

Forgive us, our Father, for our prayerlessness. Create in us a passion for prayer, for intercession for those we love, for our nation, for our world. Bring the kind of revival that demonstrates Your truth, Your love to the world around us. Create in us clean, prayerful hearts and change the world through us. In Jesus' name, Amen.

#NeverForget #Remembering911 #prayerchangesthings #terroristattack #preventingterroristattack #disciple #TheBible #JesusChrist #radicalobedience #WarRoom #twintowers

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Life is Short, Live Like You Mean It

“Now on the same occasion there were some present who reported to Him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices. And Jesus said to them, "Do you suppose that these Galileans were greater sinners than all other Galileans because they suffered this fate? I tell you, no, but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish. Or do you suppose that those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them were worse culprits than all the men who live in Jerusalem? I tell you, no, but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish."”       Luke 13:1-5 NASB

At last we come to Luke 13. These verses are complex and may take us a few days to cover completely. 

"Now on the same occasion" refers to the preceding chapter's verses. (Remember, Luke didn't write in chapters. He simply wrote. Later, scholars assigned chapter and verse notations.) The "occasion" referenced here was Jesus' talking with the crowd. You may remember that He had turned from teaching the disciples to speak specifically to the crowd concerning signs of the times and the debt we could not pay

Jesus had closed the discussion of the debt by telling His listeners that the debtor who did not reach a settlement with his accuser would be thrown in jail and not get out until the debt was completely paid. 

Jesus had just completed His discussion of the debt when some people broke in to report a tragic occurrence. A number of Galileans had gone to Jerusalem to present sacrifices before the Lord. The description of the events suggests that the Galileans may have been killing their sacrifices themselves (which was acceptable) before giving them to the priests. As the animals were being killed, Pilate's soldiers burst on the scene and slaughtered the men where they stood. Then men's blood flowed down and mingled with the blood of their sacrifices.

This was not a secret slaughter. It was at the temple, in front of all the people present that day. It was in a holy place, with no regard for the sanctuary. The soldiers did not (apparently) allow discussion or a trial. 

Pilate had an offense against these men, judged them, and condemned them to death. He ordered their execution be done in a most heinous way and, it appears, to take them by surprise when their  guard was down.

Before we move to what Jesus said, let's consider what happened.

A number of men from Galilee had gone to Jerusalem to worship and make sacrifices to their God. They were in the temple, probably the safest place they knew. Soldiers burst in and killed them. It happened so fast, they could not escape and were unable to defend themselves. (At least not successfully.)

Selah. Pause and consider.

These men died abruptly and unexpectedly. They probably knew Pilate had an offense against them, but they went to Jerusalem anyway. They may have been afraid, and probably were, but fear did not stop them from worshipping or sacrificing. No matter their age, they all likely presumed they had more life, more years ahead of them. Just as we presume. Life, however, is fragile and we are not guaranteed length of years.

Life can end in an instant, when we least expect it.

We can walk out our front door, planning to be home for dinner in the evening, and die before we reach our destination. That knowledge should change the way we live. The brevity of life should cause us to treasure every day we're given, to live fully every day. 

Forgive quickly. Apologize promptly. Love fiercely. Give extravagantly. Pray unceasingly. Serve unreservedly. Make a difference.

My friend, Gene Merkl, attaches a quote to the end of every email. I don't know the source, but it describes how I want to live, how we all should live.

"Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming 'Wow, what a ride. Thank you, Jesus.'"

Some months ago, I heard Sean Malone (founder of CRI) say, "I would rather enter heaven with my head in my hand than to arrive, head intact, and have to admit to our Lord that I left the harvest in the field because I was afraid."

If we lived as these men live, the body of Christ could make an impact on the world that we can't even begin to imagine. It would be risky. It would require courage. It would require commitment and perseverance, but it would be exciting and thrilling and the most incredibly sweet time with our Lord. 

It would be worth it.

We have a choice to make. We can live cautiously or we can live with abandon. 

I choose abandon. I choose joy. 

It is past time to decide how we will live. So let's live as Christ intended us to live.

It's time to live like we believe the faith we proclaim. No matter the cost.
Our Father, forgive us for our timidity. Help us to live with abandon, no reservation. To follow where You lead, to live as You want us to live. Help us to love as You Love. In Jesus' name, amen.
#disciple #TheBible #JesusChrist #livelikewebelieve #worthit #radicalobedience #nomatterthecost #lifeisshort

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

The Debt We Cannot Pay

My mama was big on predicting the weather from the "signs". She'd look at the sky and proclaim what was coming. One of her favorites was, "Red at night, sailors delight. Red in the morning, sailors take warning."

I'm not so big on predicting weather. Instead, I tend to look at the signs of the times, the culture around us, and predict which direction our world is going. We're a mess, and we're not going in a good direction.

Of course, it's easy to see what's wrong with the world outside us. Jesus calls us to turn our eyes from others to look inside our own hearts. He wants us to see what's wrong inside us.

“You hypocrites! You know how to analyze the appearance of the earth and the sky, but why do you not analyze this present time? "And why do you not even on your own initiative judge what is right? For while you are going with your opponent to appear before the magistrate, on your way there make an effort to settle with him, so that he may not drag you before the judge, and the judge turn you over to the officer, and the officer throw you into prison. I say to you, you will not get out of there until you have paid the very last cent."”       Luke 12:56-59 NASB

We should be able to see our hearts as they are and anticipate our appearance before Almighty God. Jesus presents His discussion in the framework of a court proceeding. 

In this mini-parable, the person is taken to court by an opponent (or complainant) who has a valid complaint against him. We know it's valid because, unless the defendant settles, the opponent will drag him before the judge, who will turn him over to the officer, who will throw him in prison. He owes a debt he cannot pay.

We, too, owe a debt we cannot pay. It is a sin debt, and the payment required is so vast, we have no hope of settling our case. 

Jesus makes a few things abundantly clear, and we do well to review them, for they are the situation in which we all find ourselves.

1) A debt is owed and payment is demanded.
2) The debt is astronomical. There's no way for us to pay it.
3) There will be payment of some kind, and we will either settle with our complainant or we will be imprisoned with no chance of release.
4) The only hope is to make a settlement.

This is my condition. This is your condition.

There is a solution. The debt must be paid, but God knew it was hopeless unless He intervened. So, He did. Jesus left heaven to wrap Himself in flesh and dwell among us. 

I wouldn't have done it, but God did, because He loves us. Jesus lived with us and loved us and died for us. He took our sin, paid our debt, and conquered death and the grave. 

Jesus settled our accuser's case against us. It is finished.

If payment has been made, we have two options. We can rejoice in the magnanimous gift and accept it or refuse it. If we refuse the gift Jesus so graciously gave, we're on our own with our sin debt. Where is the sense in that decision? 

If, then, we have been set free from our debt, we should live free.

We should live as if every moment of freedom is incredibly precious and valuable. We should live as if sin, which has cost Christ so much, is abhorrent and to be avoided at all costs. 

I am reminded of a song from a few decades ago, written by Andy Williams. "Born Free" 

Here's an excerpt from the lyrics:

Live free and beauty surrounds you
The world still astounds you
Each time you look at a star
Stay free, where no walls divide you
You're free as the roaring tide
So there's no need to hide
Born free, and life is worth living
But only worth living
'cause you're born free

The only way to "live free" is to be free,  but freedom is found only in Jesus Christ, our debt-payer. We are "born free" when we are born again by the Spirit of God. We live free when we embrace His gift and follow Him.

Our Father, forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us. Help us to embrace Your sacrifice on the cross and turn away from our sin. Help us live free in Christ. In Jesus' name, Amen.

#JesusChrist #adebtwecannotpay

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Signs of the Times

And He was also saying to the crowds, "When you see a cloud rising in the west, immediately you say, 'A shower is coming,' and so it turns out. And when you see a south wind blowing, you say, 'It will be a hot day,' and it turns out that way. You hypocrites! You know how to analyze the appearance of the earth and the sky, but why do you not analyze this present time?”   Luke 12:54-56 NASB

My Mama, and my Grandmother before her, were walking almanacs. They tried to judge what would happen based on "rules" of nature. "Red at night, sailor's delight; red in the morning, sailors take warning" was an example of one of those rules that told of what the weather would be the coming day.

Jesus had been speaking to His disciples, but, in these verses, He turned to the crowds and began to speak of those age-old weather signs. They could recognize a rain cloud and know that rain was coming. They could recognize a south wind and know that it would be a hot day.  

It was fine to recognize the weather based on signs, Jesus told them, but what about the thing that matters most? They worried about the weather when something much more important was unfolding before their very eyes. Their Messiah had come, and most of them completely failed to recognize Him. "Why don't you analyze the present time?" Jesus asked them.

Indeed. Why don't we analyze the present time?

What was happening in their present time? The nation of Israel had been invaded by an occupying army. Roman soldiers walked their streets. Roman governors ruled them. One more important than the Romans also walked through their towns and villages, but they were in danger of completely missing Him.

Jesus was there. He was the promised Messiah, but He looked nothing like they anticipated, nothing like they thought they needed. Isaiah tried to tell them He wouldn't look like they expected. The Messiah would be despised and forsaken. He would not have a stately form or majesty. He would be easy to miss.

For He grew up before Him like a tender shoot, And like a root out of parched ground; He has no stately form or majesty That we should look upon Him, Nor appearance that we should be attracted to Him. 
He was despised and forsaken of men, A man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; And like one from whom men hide their face He was despised, and we did not esteem Him. 
Surely our griefs He Himself bore, And our sorrows He carried; Yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken, Smitten of God, and afflicted. 
But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, And by His scourging we are healed. 
All of us like sheep have gone astray, Each of us has turned to his own way; But the LORD has caused the iniquity of us all To fall on Him. He was oppressed and He was afflicted, Yet He did not open His mouth; Like a lamb that is led to slaughter, And like a sheep that is silent before its shearers, So He did not open His mouth. 
By oppression and judgment He was taken away; And as for His generation, who considered That He was cut off out of the land of the living For the transgression of my people, to whom the stroke was due?”
                                                                                                                        Isaiah 53:2-8 NASB

"Analyze the times," Jesus recommended. They knew what Isaiah had written, and still they missed Him, because the people wanted political deliverance. What they needed was deliverance from their sin. 

We find ourselves in much the same situation today. There is considerable worry about the upcoming presidential elections, the potential for religious persecution, the sin of this world. Terrified by the ever-increasing evil around us, we want the progress of wickedness halted.

We want a political deliverance. What we need is deliverance from ourselves and our own sin.

The Sons of Issachar were men who understood the times and what the nation should do. (1 Chr. 12:32) Christian leaders today are serving as Sons of Issachar, analyzing the times and telling us what we should do. They are all recommending the same thing. It's what I've been writing and saying, too.

We need Jesus. No one else will do.

No one else can change our hearts, from which all the evil flows. No one else can change the heart of kings (and presidents and congress members and political leaders). No one else can be our stability in unstable times.  

No one but Jesus.

Let us pay attention to the times in which we live. Let us take note of the darkness of sin that surrounds us and threatens to overtake us. Let us recognize the signs, but not be overwhelmed or afraid.

Is Jesus coming soon? We are closer than we've ever been to that glorious day, but there is no need to wait for His glorious appearing for change. In fact, if we wait for His glorious appearing to change, we will be too late. God is still on His throne. He is still in charge. He is still waiting for us to repent and turn to Him with all our hearts, souls, minds, and strength. He is still waiting for us to obey.

Just to be clear. We do not primarily prepare for what is coming by storing beans and rice and toilet paper, no matter how prudent those actions may be. (Yes, I do believe in being prepared, but not in hoarding) We prepare by falling on our knees in repentance, then walking in obedience to Him.

Time is short. Be ready.
We started this series with a lesson about the fire of persecution. Others include lessons from the life of TyndaleChrist's baptism of sufferingsqueeze chute of distress, and yesterday's division of belief. 

photo courtesy of 

#signsofthetimes #JesusChrist #theBible #disciple #preparation #prepping #sonsofIssachar

Monday, September 7, 2015

The Division of Belief

“Do you suppose that I came to grant peace on earth? I tell you, no, but rather division; for from now on five members in one household will be divided, three against two and two against three. They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law."”
Luke 12:51-53 NASB

Jesus followed His words about His upcoming death with another bombshell. If the disciples thought He would bring peace to the earth, they were wrong. He wasn't bringing unity, but division. He did not bring a comfortable, easy faith. He brought a dangerous, radical faith. 

The "Christianity" we practice in this country is not quite what Jesus had in mind. 

Jesus came to earth to bring us into a deep, intimate relationship with our Lord. It's a relationship marked by radical obedience that changes everything. When we are rich, we're really poor. When we're poor, we're really rich. We are to deny ourselves and follow Him wherever He leads, without a plan of our own making. The contrasts are stark and shocking. The following is radical and rare.

Faith in Jesus doesn't make sense to our entitled, affluent, prosperity-driven society, but it makes sense to Him. 

We abandon our "rights" to follow the One who created us because He loves us and has our best interests at heart.

Radical obedience to Jesus should transform us into people filled with the fruits of the Spirit. If we allow His Spirit to work in us, we will become among the kindest, most generous people on earth, while at the same time speaking truth wherever God gives us opportunity. If you think people will embrace that change, you're wrong. Speaking the truth of Jesus is not popular. It never has been. 

First century onlookers thought the followers of Christ mad, and it's no better today. Following Jesus brings division between those who believe and those who do not. Jesus said that division would extend even to our families. Mothers and daughters, fathers and sons would be torn asunder because of their faith. 

To be sure we understand, Jesus was not talking about a simple disagreement. This is a cleaving that completely separates the parts. Following Jesus will break our hearts, because it will cost some of us our relationships with the very people we love the most. He knew this, and He warned us, but He expects us to follow anyway. 

There is a price to pay for how we respond to Jesus, either in this world or in the one to come. 

If we follow Him, we will be despised and rejected, perhaps even by our closest family members. It's a kind of informed consent. This is what you risk when you follow Me, Jesus was saying. Count the cost. 

His words are hard, and difficult to embrace. Can we do nothing? Are we to lose those we love and not look back? 

Every day, people around the world face losing their families when they convert to Christianity. This is a real issue for the body of Christ. I know people who have been rejected by their families because of their faith. What do they do? They follow Jesus, pray, and press on.

We, too, may soon find there is a price to pay for following Christ. 

What can we do? Pray as if your life and the lives of your loved ones depends upon it, for only God can help us in these difficult times.
Our Father, forgive us our frail, ineffective witness for Christ. Help us to live in such a way that others can see Jesus in us, no matter the cost. In Jesus' name, Amen.

We started this series with a lesson about the fire of persecution. Others include lessons from the life of TyndaleChrist's baptism of suffering, and yesterday's squeeze chute of distress

photo courtesy of
#disciple #radicalobedience #countthecost #JesusChrist

Sunday, September 6, 2015

The Squeeze Chute of Distress

photo courtesy of

"I have come to cast fire upon the earth; and how I wish it were already kindled! But I have a baptism to undergo, and how distressed I am until it is accomplished!”
Luke 12:49-50 NASB

We have started a new series based on the last few verses in Luke 12. Jesus was speaking prophetically of things that were to come, not all in the distant future.

We started this series with a lesson about the fire of persecution. Previously, we've studied lessons from the life of Tyndale. Yesterday, we studied Christ's baptism of suffering.

Today we turn to the emotional impact of the coming baptism of suffering. The word translated as "distressed" is synechō and indicates the anguish of being "pressed in". The idea is that of a cow being pressed in by a cattle squeeze chute. The cow is led in and the sides of the chute are tightened against the cow's sides so that the cow cannot move. It is completely hemmed in. This allows care to be done safely, so that neither the animal nor the humans working with the animal are harmed. 

The interesting thing about the squeeze chute is that, for cows at least, the chute calms them. When it squeezes against the cow, all resistance fades. The cow settles and stands still. 

The prospect of His death loomed like a cattle squeeze chute for Jesus. It squeezed tighter and tighter against Him until the Cross was all He could see. He dreaded it. He hated it. He agonized about it. 

Despite the agony already building inside Him, Jesus poured love into His disciples, into the crowd following Him, and into all those who were desperate for His care. 

Jesus preached peace and forgiveness even as the squeeze chute of death tightened against Him.

The prospect of a frightening, painful future did not stop Jesus. He clearly didn't relish the job God had given Him to do, but He pressed on. He did what needed to be done and He did it with joy.

I could learn from His example, if I would. We all could.

With the worst possible situation looming before Him, Jesus still loved. Still served. Still reached out to those less fortunate. Still drew sinners to Himself.

What if we acted like Jesus, no matter the circumstances of our lives? What if we took the hard times in our lives and presented them as an offering to God? 

I'll tell you what would happen... If we would let go of our anger, our bitterness, our hate of the circumstances in our lives and the people we think are responsible, AND embraced the place God has allowed us to occupy on this earth, it would rock our world. We would soon be filled with the fruit of the Spirit. Love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. People would see the work of God in our lives. It would draw them to Christ. 

Why don't we?

We want our anger, our bitterness, our hate. We want it because we believe we deserve it.

What we don't seem to realize in the midst of the crisis of squeezing is the price we will pay for anger, bitterness, hate. Justified, or not, they steal our peace, steal our joy, steal our witness, and affect our health. Why would we want to lose peace, joy, and an effective witness when we are being squeezed by crisis? Why would we want our negative emotions to rob us of our health?

I've seen this crazy choosing many times, and I always ask WHY? I don't have a good answer, but I wonder if we choose anger, bitterness, hate because we don't believe God is powerful enough to give us something different. We don't believe God will give us peace in the midst of turmoil. We don't believe God can give us joy in the midst of sorrow.

I have great news. God can do it. He's up to the challenge and He gives more joy, more peace, more hope in worse circumstances than our own. He is able. 

We can see the power of God in overcoming the sheer terror of looming agony in the life of Christ. He demonstrated the transforming power of God during His entire ministry. The Cross loomed throughout His three years, yet He was a friend to sinners. Filled with joy. A paragon of peace. Despite the distress.

Something amazing happened to Jesus when the squeezing of his distress became most acute. He chose not to embrace His fear. He chose not to embrace anger, bitterness, or hate. He chose, instead, to relinquish His will to His Father's. 

When Jesus embraced "not My will but Thine be done," it was a great relief, as if the cattle squeeze chute of His distress had done its work. It brought calm and peace.

Not my will, but Thine be done will bring calm and peace to us all if we will embrace it like a life raft, cling to the hope of God, and abandon our so-called "rights" for the undeserved gifts of God.

He is able. He is enough. 

So let us cling to Him instead of to our emotional reaction toward the situation at hand. When we do, we will see the mighty deliverance of our God who loves us.

Our Father, forgive us our sins, which are many, and help us to cling to You, trust You, abandon our roller-coaster emotions and trust You. In Jesus' name, Amen.

#peace #disciple #notmywillbutthinebedone