I’ve been listening to the song “Refiner” this whole week. It has been playing on and on, on my laptop, in my car, in my head. It’s by Chandler Moore and Steffany Gretzinger. It has made tears flow out of my eyes and it has humbled my heart.
“You’re a fire
I wanna be consumed
I wanna be tried by fire
You take whatever you desire
Lord, here’s my life”
Wow. Yes, God is the Fire that refines us through Jesus Christ. But guess what? The only way He can fully do this is if we bow down to Him and let Him take complete control over us. And if we let Him do this, we will surely be tried by fire, and purified. “Purified”, that’s what it’s all about. Sanctification, that’s what it’s all about. And you know why? Because God knows what is best for us, but it is really all for His glory. So that we may shine to the world and show the light of Jesus.
So …do we dare say, “Lord, here’s my life”? I mean, do we really dare to mean these words? Not just say it because it’s part of the lyrics of the songs that we sing at church on Sunday, but to actually live it. Live it like our ancestors did in Acts. Our fellow saints who were martyrs and lived the words, “Lord, here’s my life”. Honestly, for me, yes, I want to give Jesus all my life. And the reason why…it’s because He created me, He is my salvation, and He is King. In the words of Kanye West, “Jesus is King”. Yes, I said it, Kanye is right.
Go…spread the word! Or, in this case The Word. Jesus is to be shared to the ends of the world.
Matthew 28:19 (AMP) “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations [help the people to learn of Me, believe in Me, and obey My words], baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit…”
The above verse is not a suggestion, it is a commandment. I have struggled with this for a long time, and honestly, I still do. Am I bold enough? Do I have enough faith? Do I know what to say? I did not go to seminary school, what could I possibly have to say? All this doubting has kept me from obeying this command in the past, but by God’s grace He kept on convicting me and He built up my courage.
The Christian faith is not based on works; you cannot possibly earn your way to Heaven. It would be impossible. When would you know you have done enough? This is why Jesus had to die on the cross. He was the only way we could meetthe requirement for entering God’s Kingdom. Jesus said, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me…(John 14:6).” And that is the requirement there, my friends.
Now on the other hand, works are very important to our faith because they are a reflection of our faith (James 2:14-26; Matthew 17:15-20). If we love Jesus then we will follow His commandments (John 14:15). I believe what this means is that if we really believe in God and that Jesus is in fact LORD (someone having power, authority, or influence; a master or ruler), then we will follow Him. This also means because of what Jesus (God) did on the cross for us this should be enough of a motive for us to obey His commandments. I recently had a conversation with a good friend who asked the same question I have had myself before,“How do I know if what I am doing is out of my own motivation instead of love for Christ?” God gave me the revelation not too long ago that what we do for Christ should be a reflection of how much God’s love has impacted our lives. It is always about what is going on in our hearts. Are we doing things to promote ourselves or are we doing things to promote Christ?
So now that God helped me figure all that out I started asking Him what is my ministry? How do I share Jesus with the world? God is so good….ask and you shall receive. Through a series of confirmations He told me to evangelize. Scary? Yes, definitely. But the feeling that you get when you know you are doing what God wants you to do? Priceless. So now I walk around with my fanny pack (yes, they are coming back in style, and I’m on that train) full of gospel tracts constantly praying for the Holy Spirit to give me boldness and faith to share Jesus with complete strangers. I have had amazing conversations with people and I have been rejected as well, but man…it is exciting being out there sharing God’s love with His people!
So I would encourage you, Christian, to ask God for a ministry and GO! Do it afraid, do it even if you do not feel credible, all God is looking for is a willing soul and He will provide you with the Holy Spirit to empower you. God gave us the gifts of the Spirit, so let’s use them! Cheeyahoo!!
“Praise the LORD! Praise the LORD, O my soul!While I live I will praise the LORD; I will sing praises to my God while I have my being.” Psalm 147:1-2
Worshipper. That is who I am. Who do I worship? Well, it used to be that I worshipped basketball; this was my life. I worshipped the Lakers (Kobe and Shaq). My mood would go up when the Lakers would be winning and it would drastically change when they would lose. I thank God that He has convicted me of this idolatry, and that He has given me grace to walk away from it.
You see, human beings are made to worship. We worship something, someone, some place, whether it be our career, spouse, kids, cars, celebrities, experiences, there is always something that we idolize. The reason why we were made to worship is because we are made in the image of God (Genesis 1:27), but without believing in the gospel our worship is misdirected towards the wrong gods.
So who do I worship now? I worship the one true living God, Jesus Christ! Why do I worship Him and Him alone? Well, because on a cold winter morning of December 2012 He became real in my life. I could not see Him, but His presence was undoubtedly real as any physical being in my life. And after that day I realized that I could not ever go back to my old life. Jesus started working in my life to sanctify me. He walked me through my repentance and forgave me for my past, present, and future sins, and made me a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17).
This is why I worship Him. He loves me so much that He only sees the good in me and forgives me for my failures. Which is quite different from how I view myself. Imagine being in a relationship where the person loves you no matter what. You do not need to hide who you are, he wants to know everything about you. Now, I do not mean that God will be okay with our sins, He is not. He will always love the person, but hate the sin, and there are consequences for sin. But this is why God sacrificed His only son. So that we may be perfected through the grace and mercy that Jesus gives us by dying on the cross for our sins.
What does this actually mean? What does it mean when someone says, “Jesus died on the cross for your sins”. Remember the game, Super Mario Brothers? In the game, I think you get about three lives to start with. Imagine you have an infinite amount of lives, then you have a better chance of getting to the last stage and winning the game. It’s the same thing for when you are in Christ. Because Jesus, the perfect sacrifice died on the cross for you, He is able to give you an abundance of grace to be able to push on towards sanctification (holiness).
Another reason why I worship Jesus is because He paved the way for me to enter Heaven. There is no other way to Heaven, but through Jesus (John 14:6). Heaven is perfect, and it is real. Hell is the opposite, and it is also real. I thank God that He provided us a way to be reconciled to Him through His Son. Without Jesus, then we would not have a way to eternal life with the Creator who loves us unconditionally.
Now how does one start a relationship with Jesus and get into Heaven? Simple, ask and you shall receive (Matthew 7:7). Ask Jesus to come into your life; confess your sins and turn away from them; receive Him as your Lord and Savior, and accept the love that He offers you. But the most important thing is that you mean it in your heart, mind, and soul. A simple prayer does not do it, it’s what you truly feel in your heart, mind, and soul that matters. I’m not in a happy marriage with my wife just because I tell her I love her…it’s because I really mean it with my heart, mind, and soul that I Love Her.
I pray friend, family, reader that you receive Jesus Christ today. There is no other relationship that is as exciting, fulfilling, and assuring than what you can have with Jesus. He is always running after you, wanting you; now it’s time that you run towards Him and enter into His kingdom. Receive the truth that you are a child of the King!
Psalm 46:1 GOD is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.
He is our very present help in times of trouble. We’re in trouble right now. Luke can’t breathe. I watch him struggle and strain, with shallow, tight breaths. I watch him run out of breath mid-sentence, be unable to roughhouse with our boys, get quiet and withdrawn with suffering.
I pray for him, I lay my hands on him and ask Jesus to touch him, I tell him how proud I am of the oh-so brave man he is. I post scriptures around the house about God’s ability and willingness to heal; about GOD’s history of healing and desire to heal. I do all that I can but we are still in trouble.
This is the kind of trouble that you can’t reason away, buy your way out of, or call your doctor to fix, because, in this case, we seem to have come nearly to the end of what medical science can offer us. We could get angry, we could get bitter, we could fall into despair, we could blame GOD. Instead, we run to Him as our only hope in this trouble. We are drowning but just as the water covers our airways we realize that He is the living water around us and we breathe him in.
I have been here before with my own breathing struggles but watching my Luke endure such suffering is brutal on my heart, in such a different way. It is salty tears mingled with desperation for his healing and pride at his courage and worry for our future and anxiety about if and when and how. But then I raise my voice or my hands in supplication and down rains peace and joy and triumph even in suffering.
You see, with all my heart and life, I am convinced that I serve the Living and Victorious One, the one who overcame sin and death (including all sickness). So just as overwhelming uncertainty crashes down, in comes peace and assurance that “He’s got the whole world in His hands, He’s got the whole world in His hands, He’s got the whole world in His hands…He’s got Luke’s lungs in His hands.” A very present help. He has us engraved on His palms. He has not forgotten our crisis for a moment and He is going to work in this situation mightily and everyone watching will witness a miracle. I believe it.
I love that the verse says “VERY present help”. He’s not just saying, ‘I’m here to help” but he’s yelling, “I’M HERE TO HELP!!!!”. He’s also offering a covering or refuge for the duration of the onslaught and His strength throughout. While it is true that we are in deep trouble and Luke is suffering and I am hurting, what is just as true is that Jesus is a “very present help”, right here, right now. When I think about that truth, I am no longer bothered about “if and when and how” because i know WHO and WHERE; Jesus here, very ready to help.
“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!(ESV) -Philippians 4:4
“And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (NIV)” -Philippians 4:7
“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. (NIV)” –Romans 8:28
I can’t breathe well. It’s May and I have not been able to stop thinking about my breathing since December. It started with a chronic cough and now my lungs feel like cement. I head over to the emergency room because I’m just tired of not being able to take a breath without pain.
They admitted me because I was not responding to any inhalers. They did a bronchoscopy on me to look into my lungs. My pulmonologist showed me pictures of what she saw and says, “I can’t believe you were still breathing, your airways were almost completely closed.”
So what’s going on with me, I ask. My heart is healthy (3 years post heart attack). Now it’s my lungs that are failing me?! Come on! Can’t I get a break?! Labs come back which reveal 3 different kinds of bacteria and 1 kind of mold growing in my lungs; Prednisone (I have heard it called the “devil’s pill”), the culprit. This oral steroid suppresses my inflammatory response but it also suppresses my immune system which then invites opportunistic infections. It’s a catch-22; I need it to keep my lungs from acting up but it also puts me in harm’s way. Asthma is what I have; severe, uncontrolled asthma.
It’s now September and my breathing is not getting better, it is actually worse. I can’t play with my sons without having to stop to catch my breath feeling like someone just punched me in my stomach, stunning my solar plexus. I can’t speak to someone without having to take a deep breath before, then feeling out of breath after. I can’t even go down to tie my shoes without feeling like I just climbed up a mountain as I stand back up.
Honestly, I have had times of weakness feeling depressed and hopeless, but hey, I’m only human. These are human feelings, but when I do feel like this I praise God that He points me back to the cross and brings hope back into my life. God says, If you love me you will follow my commandments (John 14:15). Philippians 4:4 is a commandment; He tells his followers to rejoice, always. Now how does one do this even during times of hardship? Through Jesus. God is perfect, He does not make mistakes (Psalm 18:30). I say to myself, “I love Jesus, and I am called according to His purpose, therefore, He will make all things work out for me”. Sound familiar? Then I rely on the promise that the peace of God will guard my heart and mind and that His peace cannot be compared to anything else in the world because there is none like it. It’s even greater than the peace and love my precious wife gives me.
You see, I can sit in a dark room and focus on my problems, but that’s not going to fix them (Luke 12:25). So I choose to tap into my “Jesus high” and pray that He shows me His goodness in all this. I pray that He reveals to me the purpose that He has for me. I may not be the Apostle Paul sitting in jail waiting for my death sentence, but I can say the same thing he said, “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength (Philippians 4:13).” I can go through the highs and lows of life as long as Jesus is with me. I may not be physically healed (yet!), but my heart is full.
Give me Jesus. He is all I need. Just as the song goes…”You can have all this world, just give me Jesus”.
I did not have Jesus in my life for 28 years and during that time life was empty. I tried to fill my life with friends, sports, fashion, and school, but none of these fulfilled what was missing inside of me.
“Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him (1 John 2:!5 KJV)”. I searched for happiness through loving the things of the world and the more I did, the less I felt God’s presence in my life. I grew up in a Christian family; my Mom is one of the strongest believers that I know and she prayed for my salvation from the time I was born until I got saved. She watched me go through my “darker days”, trying to stay current with the crowd around me, knowing that I was just hurting myself by growing further away from the Lord instead of closer to Him.
It was a long six months during my “darker days” that brought me to Jesus. Depression and anxiety plagued my life, but this is what brought me down on my knees in surrender to the Lord. It was December of 2012 that I specifically remember saying to Him, “Okay God, I’m done, take control of the steering wheel. You are in charge.”
I have been a Christian for seven years now. I have seen how the Lord has brought me from darkness to light. He has molded me like clay as He is the Potter. There were many times that I resisted, but I thank God that His will is stronger than mine. I have learned that the only way I can truly achieve closeness with Him is complete surrender.
In the last year God has brought me even closer to Him. I have felt the Spirit increase my appetite for His presence. Whether it be through reading of the word, prayer, worship, or through witnessing. I have been pressing on with Him trying to seek Him with all my heart, mind, and soul. I have been relying on the truth of James 4:8 “Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you.”
During this time God reminded me that “it is not about how good of a Christian I am, it is about what Jesus has done on the cross”. I have always wondered what Christianity is really about. Is it about how well I pray, worship, read my Bible, or how well I keep God’s commandments? Then one day it clicked; God showed me that what He did for me on the cross and that the joy this brought in my life needed to be shared with the world. Christianity is about getting the good news of the gospel to all the world. We are commanded to do this in Matthew 28:19, “therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” Christianity was not meant to be kept to ourselves for our own benefit, it was meant to be shared with our neighbor for their benefit. Jesus died on the cross for “our” sins, not just “my” sins.
See, Jesus is life and life can be found only in Him. All that a person needs in life is fulfilled in Jesus. The hope and joy that one experiences in God’s presence is something that cannot be explained (Philippians 4:7), but it is so awesome. I call it the “Jesus high”. So here I am at a point in my life where I can say, “Just give me Jesus.”