The Orphans Heart

Perhaps Jesus’ disciples and followers experienced feelings of abandonment as they huddled behind locked doors following His death. They feared what might happen next. Would they be arrested and executed, too? Although Jesus tried to make them understand in the final days of his ministry, they were unprepared and stunned by his absence, left with feelings of grief and uncertainty.

All of us feel abandoned at times. When health issues, job losses, financial crises, and relationship problems overwhelm, it is human to wonder why God doesn’t immediately swoop in and fix everything. Feelings of loss and abandonment seem especially keen on holidays. As we see others smiling and happily enjoying the moment, it feels like we live on the fringes, merely going through the motions. Often holiday sadness is not a result of death, but rather the loss of a relationship, painful childhood memories, or the challenges of difficult relationships or circumstances. Sometimes we forget God is still with us. He hasn’t disappeared. The Holy Spirit lives within and promises to comfort and counsel us.

As I navigate grief and step into a new phase of life, I look back across generations and see how the Lord sustained our family through financial hardship, physical ailments, wars, and periods of grief and loss. We are not the first to experience sadness and uncertainty. Just as the Lord guided our parents and their parents, He will lead and protect us. He is a comforter, helper, and friend. Most of all, He is Father. Having been adopted into the family of God, we are not orphans.

But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship. Because you are his sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba,Father.” Galatians 4:4-6

Over 2,000 years ago, God sent Jesus to dwell among us and rescue those who were lost, orphaned, and without hope. He was God with skin on. A man who experienced temptation, persecution, pain, and grief, but also joy. He understands us, loves us, and promised never to leave or forsake us. His presence is our blessed hope at all times and in all circumstances.

KEEP LOOKING TO JESUS!!!

We Have Victory In Jesus Christ

“But I tell you truly, there are some standing here who shall not taste death till they see the kingdom of God” Luke 9:27

After the miracle of feeding the five thousand, Jesus had been alone praying when His disciples joined Him. Jesus asked, “Who do the crowds say that I am?” They answered, “John the Baptist, but some say Elijah; and others say that one of the old prophets has risen again.” He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter answered and said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God'” Luke 9:18-20

Jesus knew people would be talking about the miracle. But who did they think performed it? He warned them to tell no one, saying, “There are some standing here who shall not taste death till they see the kingdom of God.”

The first time I studied this, I thought “What did Jesus mean? His disciples died a long time ago and we are still waiting to see the kingdom of God.” But I lacked revelation. I assumed He was speaking of heaven, but in actuality, He was referring to retrieved authority.

In the beginning, when Adam sinned, the authority and dominion God had given man was transferred to Satan. Jesus came to retrieve this authority. The Bible says:

“For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil” 1 John 3:8

After the miracle of feeding the multitudes, Jesus said, “I tell you truly, there are some standing here who shall not taste death till they see the [retrieved authority] of God.” He was speaking of His victory at the cross. It was drawing near.

This is proven in another context of scripture:

“Now it came to pass, about eight days after these sayings, that He took Peter, John, and James and went up on the mountain to pray. As He prayed, the appearance of His face was altered, and His robe became white and glistening. And behold, two men talked with Him, who were Moses and Elijah, who appeared in glory and spoke of His decease which He was about to accomplish at Jerusalem” Luke 9:28-31

This passage is often referred to as the Transfiguration. As He prayed and talked with His two visitors, the countenance of Jesus changed this day. But what’s more interesting is their use of the words “decease” and “accomplish” in the same sentence. The words “endure” or “suffer” might seem more appropriate, but not the word accomplish, right?

Wrong.

“But I tell you truly, there are some standing here who shall not taste death till they see the [retrieved authority] of God.” His disciples didn’t understand. Then a week later, a couple of cheerleaders from heaven encouraged Jesus of what was about to take place. Moses and Elijah spoke with Him about His coming death, which was about to be ACCOMPLISHED at Jerusalem. Their mission was to encourage our Savior, for He was about to retrieve authority for all humanity for all time! His death on the cross, as hard as it might be in the flesh, was going to be a great victory for God and man.

Hebrews 12:1-2 says, “…for the joy that was set before Him [He] endured the cross].”

In other words, He looked ahead at the victory that would be accomplished. He wasn’t focused on the cross itself, or the pain of the moment. Instead, His focus was on the resurrection!

This passage says He “endured the cross” which is absolutely true. But Moses and Elijah came to remind Him of His purpose—He was about to accomplish the greatest victory that has ever been or ever will be! The cross wasn’t going to be easy, and God didn’t want His Son to lose heart, so He sent these messengers to remind Him His coming decease would be a great victory.

No wonder His countenance changed! “As He prayed, the appearance of His face was altered, and His robe became white and glistening.” Our countenance changes too when our focus and meditation is on the right thing (our victory in Christ).

So be encouraged today! God has rallied all of heaven behind you and I that we might run with endurance the race that is set before us. Remember, we are of those who have not tasted death, yet have seen the retrieved authority of God—for JESUS HAS RISEN!

KEEP LOOKING TO JESUS!!!

God’s First Evangelists

We learn from scripture of the women who followed the Lord Jesus and helped Him in His earthly ministry, just as these women do today. Women have a special place in the Lord’s heart because of the pure love and devotion they have for Him. 

As we remember that first Easter, we find the Lord’s disciples, the guys, in hiding, cowering and grieving behind locked doors, gripped with fear and unbelief. But the women go to the tomb with boldness to serve the Lord, even in His death. The angel of the Lord revealed to them that Jesus had risen and showed them the empty tomb. As they hurried to tell the disciples, Jesus Himself appeared to them and these women were the first to worship the risen Lord.

Jesus showed tenderness as He told them, through their praises, to go and tell His brothers, the disciples, to meet Him in Galilee. These precious women of God, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, Salome, Joanna, and others were given the first commission to share the gospel!

Scripture tells us,

“So they rushed back from the tomb to tell his eleven disciples — and everyone else — what had happened.” Luke 24:9

Jesus used devoted women of God to be the first Easter Evangelists and spread the Gospel. He is risen!

KEEP LOOKING TO JESUS!!!

Jesus Rescues Extreme Cases Today Also

While ministry has those moments that make us smile, the truly satisfying aspect of ministry is the joy of seeing someone’s life changed through an encounter with Jesus. Mark, in his Gospel, records a classic example of that.

“And they came, bringing to him a paralytic carried by four men. And when they could not get near him because of the crowd, they removed the roof above him, and when they had made an opening, they let down the bed on which the paralytic lay. And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven..’” Mark 2:3-5

This miracle is significant because it not only shows the power of Jesus, and His grace to those who need Him, but it shows the way we can be part of His ministry.

There is tenderness in the way Jesus greeted the paralyzed man. The man was a sinner. That is clear because one of the things Jesus did was forgive his sin. Now his friends had lowered him into the presence of Jesus, the holiest man who ever lived. That would be intimidating. He was paralyzed, had been dropped through the roof, and now lay helpless in front of the very Son of God. Understanding the man’s dilemma, Jesus first said to him, “Take heart, my son.” Matthew 9:2 What a comforting thing to say to a sinful man who had interrupted His teaching session. Jesus literally meant, “There’s nothing to fear here.”

How many times have we thought of God as Someone to fear? Ashamed of our sins, we too often avoid His presence, when His presence is the safest place for us to be. While Jesus would eventually forgive the man’s sin and heal his paralysis, He began by removing the man’s fear.

Anyone could see that the man was paralyzed. Jesus would deal with that. What no one else could see was the condition of the man’s heart. Jesus started there. He probed deeper than anyone else could have. He does that for us, too. He goes right to the root problem and deals with that first. Jesus begins His dealings with us by removing our fear of Him and taking our sin away.

When Jesus finally said, “Get up, take your mat and go home,” the man did something he hadn’t been able to do. The natural response to that would have been, “I can’t do that, I’m paralyzed.” The paralyzed man didn’t say that. He attempted something that had been impossible before and stood to his feet. That’s what happens to us when fear and guilt are removed. We aren’t afraid to attempt the impossible.

The unique aspect of this story is the four friends and the lengths to which they went to help their friend. He was paralyzed and couldn’t have gotten to Jesus on his own. He needed the help of friends who cared enough about him to carry his limp body to the place where Jesus was ministering.

The most amusing part of the entire story is the method the men used to get help for their friend. The building was so crowded that they couldn’t get inside. So they climbed the stairs on the outside of the house, with their friend in tow, and dug a hole in the roof large enough to accommodate a man’s bed. They tore up a roof to get their friend to Jesus. Those four desperate men did something that violated every principle of property rights. They destroyed a man’s house. Anyone who destroys someone else’s roof is a lawbreaker. We may have expected Jesus to look up and say, “Vandals!” He didn’t. Mark says that He looked up and “saw their faith.”

We live in a world where people are hurting. They are swamped by shame, guilt, and condemnation. They need someone to carry them to Jesus. When we came to Jesus, someone carried us. Some people will never get to Jesus unless they’re carried. As you walk through life this week, be alert for opportunities to be the one who carries a paralyzed person to Him.

The God Of The Second Chance

The story of Joseph in the book of Genesis is one of my favorites. Sold by his brothers into slavery, taken to a foreign land, unfairly accused and imprisoned, and with little hope or expectation of ever seeing his family again, Joseph was in what seemed an impossible situation. Despite all that, the Bible says, “The Lord was with him.”

God allowed the testing to build character in Joseph. Joseph went through years of waiting and suffering before he saw God’s plan in it all. God used Joseph to save Egypt, the surrounding nations, and Joseph’s own family. God’s plans and purposes are so much bigger and greater than our own.

At the end of his story, Joseph says,

“You meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day” Genesis 50:20

 That same truth is reconfirmed in the book of Romans in the New Testament.

“All things work together for good to those who love God” Romans 8:28

God is indeed, the God of second chances.

Thank You, Lord for the constant message of restoration that runs throughout Your Word. Thank You for the glimpse of Your handiwork that is so much bigger and more beautiful than I could have imagined. Help me to be faithful in times of testing. Align my life with Your will. Spirit of the living God, fall fresh on me. In Jesus’ Name I Pray, Amen.

Be A Sheep – Not A Goat

In Matthew 25:31-46 you can see that The Lord Jesus speaks of a day when He will judge the earth. Verses 31-33 state this:

“But when the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, then He will sit on His glorious throne. All the nations will be gathered before Him; and He will separate them from one another, as the shepherd separates the sheep from the goats; and He will put the sheep on His right, and the goats on the left.” Matthew 25:31-33

Jesus goes on to clarify what He means. In the story, the sheep represent true believers and goats represent those who claim to be believers but are not. The ‘goats’ show they are not true believers by their lack of action.

I’m not saying that anyone earns his or her way to heaven, not only is that impossible, and it’s not Biblical. I’m just sharing with you what God’s Son, Jesus said.

And what The Lord Jesus says is important. Life-giving. His Word clearly defines life eternal and death eternal in damnation – like that passage.

In a world where people mention God or Jesus or spirituality, it’s important to understand what it means – or perhaps, what it doesn’t mean.

When people mention god, it doesn’t mean they are speaking of the God of the Bible. People like to dress god up to look like them. Kind of like the Greeks did — a god who is okay with promiscuity or lying or cruelty.

The Great Jehovah far, far transcends all of that.

These ‘goats’ today and throughout history talk about Jesus as a great man or a prophet, or one way to God. Yet Jesus says

“I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.” John 14:6

Jesus demands exclusivity.

Someone might say, “I’m a spiritual person.”

My response is “But are you a Born-Again person?”

You might receive a shocked face if you say those words to someone — even an angry face, and in some countries, you may receive imprisonment or torture or even death. That simply means you’re a sheep.

And then some of you who are reading this may be goats and may not even be aware of it. You may be serving in your church and receive a perfect attendance Sunday School pin. But it means nothing because you do it all for the wrong reasons. Perhaps pressure from your family, or tradition, or church is another form of social networking for you.

I have one word for you now – repent! Turn from trusting in your works or your idea of God and turn to Jesus Christ today.

Or face His judgment tomorrow.

Listen to verse 41 in the last part of our Matthew passage:

“Then He will also say to those on His left, ‘Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels;” Matthew 25:41

Don’t be a goat, be a sheep.

Your eternal life depends on it.

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