There seems to be no limit to the capacity for evil in humankind. Some are capable of all kinds of atrocities. Why? Because they believe the reward is worth it. But if we keep in mind our heavenly rewards, then we too are capable of great acts… in the name of mercy and love.
My life isn’t perfect.
It’s full of holes, deep pain, and sorrow.
But somehow God, you lifted me up again. How?
How does this happen? Continue reading
What do you think about when you think of freedom? Do you think it means doing as you please? The true meaning of freedom is being free from something.
When we do wrong, we fall under the condemnation and the power of our wrongdoing. We are condemned since the wages of sin are death (Romans 6:23). This means that sin brings a state of spiritual death to us. We really don’t need the Bible to tell us this do we? Whenever we do something wrong, we know it and we don’t like it. Many times we condemn ourselves for our mistakes in a way much harsher than anyone else would.
This condemnation generates something terrible in us: fear. One of the phrases most repeated by Jesus was, “Fear not!”
Freedom from fear is a great blessing. Fear is the root of so much illness in the world, such as mental health problems. Fear can lead to anxiety, depression, heart disease and a whole host of other medical disorders. But when we live fearlessly, we are free to be healed by God. It all has to do with the concept of justice.
Perfect Justice, Perfect Mercy
We have a funny way of thinking about justice, because in many ways we want an unjust god. We want a god that will say, “There, there, your mistakes are not such a big deal. Nothing to see here, now. Run along.” That way we slip into heaven like a teenager sneaking into the back door of a movie theater.
But when it comes to justice here on earth, we want perfection. We expect criminal acts to be dealt with by the justice system. The reality is that God’s justice is even more severe. His demand for perfection sits much higher than we can possibly imagine. God condemns sin with the utmost severity as sin cannot exist in his presence.
But when Jesus gave up his life for you, he removed all condemnation. Instead of falling upon us, the punishment fell upon the Son of God. This is one of the hardest things to accept and understand. Ironically, rejection of this truth is often rooted in another form of slavery: pride. We are so proud sometimes that we don’t even want to give up our mistakes.
The humiliation of God’s Son established perfect justice. How? Because perfect justice of God requires perfect payment. This could only be achieved by the perfect sacrifice. Jesus, completely innocent, was the only one that could fill that role. He became sin and was put to death for our sake. For your sake.
You Are Free
Even though the torture and humiliation of Christ’s persecution, trial and crucifixion were painful, it was nothing compared to the spiritual pain that was felt by God the Father and Jesus at that moment.
What does this mean?
It means that you are free. It means that your soul is saved from spiritual death. It also means that you are free from the power or influence of sin. You’re no longer a slave. You no longer have to live in fear.
Does this mean that you’ll never make mistakes again? Of course not. But when you’re a slave, you have no other option but slavery. I recall when I was under the influence of alcohol and drugs, I had no choice. I ran to these things because I loved them, or at least that’s what Satan wanted me to believe. But the Spirit of God freed me from this power. I may struggle with other things, but I’m no longer a slave. A slave has no choice, but a free person can resist and fight.
It’s A Process
Remember, the full blessings of freedom don’t come all at once. Think of it like a multi-lane highway. In some lanes, you zip along smoothly while in other places cars barely crawl forward. But bit by bit, God’s hand helps you remove the traffic jams. Your prayer life helps monitor your progress. When you faithfully seek God’s presence, he shows you how to get to a point where your freedom flows uniformly, like a river. Be patient with yourself during this process, and be confident that you are maturing.
Be completely free of excessive worry and anger. Be liberated from arrogance, pride, vanity or jealousy. Escape from impatience or a desire for vengeance. Break away from laziness or a distorted self-image. All these things lead to spiritual death, while freedom in Christ lets you soar on wings like an eagle (Isaiah 40:31).
So ask God frequently to set you free from the chains that tie you down.
This freedom, born of the Spirit of God, allows you to resist all the negativity and evil in the world and say, “Enough! I do not believe in a world that tries to sell me isolation and despair. Instead I believe in a great King who lives and is seated at God’s right hand. I believe in a heavenly King who brings a new righteousness to my heart. Not a righteousness of power and control, but the righteousness of love.”
This post is an excerpt from Vince’s book, Is Jesus Real? Can Jesus Help Me? Order from Amazon today.
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Everyone has been wounded at one time or another. In the most serious cases, these experiences affect every aspect of our lives – especially personal relationships. Some may end up suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) requiring years or even a lifetime of treatment. How do you cope with your deepest wounds? Should you take medication? Let’s find out more.
Take meds or not?
Today’s mental health sciences have come a long way in the treatment of PTSD, depression, and anxiety. Perhaps the greatest advances have been in the removal of the stigma surrounding these problems. These are true medical issues, and no one should ever feel ashamed about them. Instead it’s important to get help. In some cases, physiological counseling and medications are a necessary part of recovery.
One mistake people make, however, is believing that pills contain some kind of magic power. If you need medication, take it as prescribed, but be realistic about the limitations of science. Never forget that the deepest healing comes from God’s love and mercy. This is where you should place your trust.
Don’t make them weapons
It’s very common for us to weaponize our wounds. We lash out and hurt others and ourselves. Seek to recognize when this happens, and ask God to free you from this behavior. When you stop causing new pain due to past wounds, you can then start the healing process.
One common way we hurt ourselves and others is by shutting out the world. This happens since you’re afraid to get hurt again. Nobody wants to feel pain, that’s for sure. But instead of closing in, let your wounds be the doorway where God enters your heart. This can be scary and complicated, so it might help to have a spiritual guide accompany you.
This process doesn’t mean you shouldn’t protect yourself, but your heart doesn’t have to be imprisoned either. Instead, God will give you a strong heart that can feel, give, and love again.
From victim to victorious
Those who have been wounded deeply are truly victims. You didn’t ask for suffering. Still, sometimes we fall into the trap of labeling ourselves as a victim above everything else. This is exactly how Satan wants you to think – that you are helpless and hopeless. Don’t believe this lie.
Look to Jesus to transform you from victim to victorious. How? Regain your dignity through the healing mercy of God. Your victory rests in saying:
“Yes. I was hurt. I was wounded seriously. But that was not the final chapter in my life. God lifted me up again. He healed me, gave me strength, and now I move forward. God gave me meaning because I know for sure he loves me. He showed me this by forgiving me and giving me his Son. Jesus knows how much I suffered, since he suffered too. But Christ rose up again, and I did too.
I am God’s child. Nothing and nobody can ever, ever take that away from me.”
The victory doesn’t stop there. You see, in God’s economy, nothing is wasted. The wounded and broken become transformed into agents of healing and grace. Many times, only a person who has suffered can help others who suffer from the same wounds.
As you are healed, you become the hands, voice, and heart of Christ that heals others. Your life transforms into a celebration where angels sing praises about how the love of God gave you your life back again.
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.
2 Corinthians 1:3-4
This post is dedicated to my friend Jan and her brother Daniel. God bless you! – Vince
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How long has it been since you felt a deep intimacy with Jesus?
Sometimes, when your relationships with other people get cold, it’s because you’ve grown cold with Jesus. Warm up to him again. He never holds a grudge. He never looks to settle a score. Jesus only gives.
Remember, it’s not a list of things to do that gives you life. Our faith is not faith in rules or doctrines. Our faith is in a person – Jesus Christ.
When you return to your first love, you regain strength. God’s grace and peace fill your life. Then you can start giving and loving others as Jesus loves you.
Return to him. Return to knowing him and feeling the deepness of his mercy and love for you. Be sure again that you are forgiven and loved as you are.
“There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear… We love because he first loved us.”
1 John 4:18a, 19
All the badness in the world, all the hatred, violence, arrogance, selfishness, and betrayal – everything – Jesus accepted as his fault. He paid the price for us all. For my sin and for yours. Think about this for a minute. Meditate upon the innocence and purity of Christ.
Understanding this truth is understanding God’s love. And for his great act of love and obedience, the Son of God rose from the dead and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
Let this truth change you. Let it transform your view of yourself and the world around you.
And let the truth set you free.
“For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. ”
Some prayers only last a few seconds, like, “I need a parking space Lord!”
Others can last for years. You know what these are.
Don’t fear the long term. Don’t rush God’s hand.
Jerusalem wasn’t built in a day, and the greatest glory takes time.
With each prayer, you gain patience.
With each prayer, you trust more.
With each prayer, hope thrives.
Lay each prayer down, day by day, and watch God’s Kingdom rise up before you.
“The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock.” Matthew 7:25
Remember. Being a Christian is not about being perfect.
Being a Christian means you know deep in your heart that you are forgiven… and you are loved.
You are a child of God. Your identity is indestructible.
So even if your life is a mess right now, grab hold of your identity and hold on tight. Hold your head up high. Because Almighty God loves you dearly.
It’s hard to let go of our pride. Nobody wants to be humiliated. Many times we worry about how things will turn out or what others will think or say about us. Begin to let it go today. Lay down your pride.
When God decides who he will work with, he doesn’t look for the strong and self-sufficient. Instead, he looks for the humble or even brokenhearted. He looks for a simple virgin. God seeks the ordinary carpenter… or even the prisoner.
God says, “There’s a heart I can work with. A heart that will depend on me and trust in me.”
Let your heart be humble and watch how much God can do with your life.
Read about how to deal with mistakes.
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Even though its detractors might say otherwise, the Christian faith is incredibly realistic. It doesn’t offer you life on a bed of roses. Its founder was tortured and crucified; that alone gives you an idea about its seriousness. But isn’t life like this? Isn’t it filled with moments of pain and suffering? If our faith cannot give us meaning to our trials, then it’s only spiritual anesthesia. When a baby is born there is pain and blood. But prior to this there is great hope. And after the suffering, there is new life.
Following Jesus is an opportunity for new life. Jesus can and will help you. However, there’s something vital that you must go through before you can reap the whole benefit of his loving grace.
Let’s take a look at the deal we are getting.
There are common misconceptions that many false teachers sell about Christianity. So before you enter into a bargain, it’s important to know what you won’t be getting. Following Jesus Christ will not:
- Take away all your problems
- Heal you of all illness
- Make you rich
- Protect you from all potential danger
- Give you a life full of happiness without sorrow
None of this comes with the deal. The world tries to sell us peace and prosperity that it can never deliver. People make us all kinds of empty promises. But only God can give us what we really need. He gives us an identity that is unbreakable and eternal. The Gospel of John tells us that all that receive Jesus and believe in his name have the right to be children of God.
Child of God
Through Jesus, you are God’s child. Nobody can ever take this away from you. No amount of hurt, humiliation, failure, rejection or shame can take you out of the Father’s hand. This is your eternal and indestructible identity. This gives you meaning, especially in the darkest moments.
So what do you get out of the deal? Plenty. How about things like:
- A Spirit that guides you
Now it might sound nice, and it is, but wait a minute. Because the first, and most important, bridge we must cross is to get to truth. And truth means seeing yourself as God sees you. How does God see you? He sees you as a sinner redeemed. This means when God sees you, he sees his Son, Jesus. This gives you the right to be God’s child.
Let’s be perfectly honest. All mankind wants to escape blame. We don’t want to admit our faults. We want to blame it on our upbringing or something else. But our fault? So we say we are sick instead of sinful. We try to wash away the blame. In this philosophy we end up with nothing except the risk of losing our identity. Yes, we can explain tendencies, but explanation is not the same as reconciliation. And if we really are sick, where do we find true healing?
The truth is we have all gone against God. In our words, actions, and in our hearts. The natural reaction is to compare. Well, at least I’m not as bad as so-and-so. The age old saying, “two wrongs don’t make a right,” applies here. When we compare we try to make amends for our faults with other mistakes. Just like blaming our upbringing for our errors, we find no real justice. At least not until we assume responsibility. Only then, can Jesus begin to help us, because only then do we walk where he walks, in truth. Here we can begin to see who we truly are.
A Famous Sinner Redeemed
Before the Apostle Paul converted to Christianity, he persecuted Christians. He sought their arrest and even approved of them being put to death. He did all these things in God’s name. He was driven by zeal for his religion. We can imagine he had his religious, family, personal, and cultural reasons for doing what he did. But in the end, who was to blame for his actions? Whose conscience did he go against?
One day, Paul (named Saul before his conversion) was on his way to Damascus to persecute more Christians when Jesus appeared to him. Saul fell to the ground, his face in the dirt, and he heard a voice that said, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?”
“Who are you Lord?” Saul asked.
“I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,” Jesus answered. After this encounter, Saul was left speechless, blind and not able to eat or drink for three days. This is repentance. And within this challenge rests a seed of great hope and a pearl of infinite value (Matthew 13:45-46).
Saul realized that everything in his life had been misguided up until that point. Misguided because he thought his conduct could get him into heaven. Misguided because he justified his wrongdoing on a thousand other factors instead of taking the blame. When this all came to the light, Saul was left mute and blind, unable to eat.
I remember my first prayer as an adult. It was a prayer of repentance. I cried my eyes out with my face on the floor because my life had been all wrong up until then. And in this prayer that came from the depths of my soul, I held out my hands. There, God poured out all his kindness and tenderness upon me. He welcomed his child home again with open, loving arms.
God measures – and heals – the heart
No matter how good you think you are, relative to others, toss that out for a second. Look into your heart. What do you see? Have you sinned? Have you ever dishonored your parents, siblings, children or friends? Yourself? Have you ever lied, cheated or stolen? Taken the Lord’s name in vain? What excuse do you make in front of God, your Creator and the one that gives you life?
What’s a person capable of in order to avoid the truth? We see the atrocities around us day after day. In our own families and lives, how many times have we seen an entire existence being sustained to support a lie?
But wait. God gives you the answer. He says:
Tell it all to me. I already know it all, but tell it. Let me hear it and let it pierce your heart. Only then can I enter and free you. Only then can I heal you. Repent. Say it all; confess it all to me. And each and every offense, I will forgive. Each and every time you went against me, I will place squarely on my Son for you, because I love you. And I love my Son, who is exalted above all others for bearing the sins of the world. Tell it all to me then take my hand and step into the sweet pastures of truth and light.
Earlier we said that God sees us as sinners, but as sinners redeemed. Redeemed by the blood of the Lamb of God. Truth. See yourself as God sees you. As his child who he loves dearly. A child he loves so much that he wants you to be like his Son. In fact, God the Father clothes you with the grace and forgiveness of his Son.
God never runs out of patience in giving you another chance. Imagine yourself at peace with God. To make this a reality, all you have to do is speak the truth.
Meditate on this. How does it makes you feel?
Let God’s grace take root in your soul.
This post is an excerpt from Vince’s book, Is Jesus Real? Can Jesus Help Me?