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A Love Like No Other

I post this blog every year at this time of year, so I will do it again! :)

Matthew 27:32-56: 32 As they were going out, they met a man from Cyrene, named Simon, and they forced him to carry the cross. 33 They came to a place called Golgotha (which means The Place of the Skull). 34 There they offered Jesus wine to drink, mixed with gall; but after tasting it, he refused to drink it.35 When they had crucified him, they divided up his clothes by casting lots. 36 And sitting down, they kept watch over him there. 37 Above his head they placed the written charge against him: THIS IS JESUS, THE KING OF THE JEWS. 38 Two robbers were crucified with him, one on his right and one on his left. 39 Those who passed by hurled insults at him, shaking their heads 40 and saying, “You who are going to destroy the temple and build it in three days, save yourself! Come down from the cross, if you are the Son of God!”

41 In the same way the chief priests, the teachers of the law and the elders mocked him. 42 “He saved others,” they said, “but he can’t save himself! He’s the King of Israel! Let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him. 43 He trusts in God. Let God rescue him now if he wants him, for he said, ‘I am the Son of God.’” 44 In the same way the robbers who were crucified with him also heaped insults on him.

The Death of Jesus

45 From the sixth hour until the ninth hour darkness came over all the land. 46 About the ninth hour Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?”—which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

47 When some of those standing there heard this, they said, “He’s calling Elijah.”

48 Immediately one of them ran and got a sponge. He filled it with wine vinegar, put it on a stick, and offered it to Jesus to drink. 49 The rest said, “Now leave him alone. Let’s see if Elijah comes to save him.”

50 And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit.

51 At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook and the rocks split. 52 The tombs broke open and the bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life. 53 They came out of the tombs, and after Jesus’ resurrection they went into the holy city and appeared to many people.

54 When the centurion and those with him who were guarding Jesus saw the earthquake and all that had happened, they were terrified, and exclaimed, “Surely he was the Son of God!”

55 Many women were there, watching from a distance. They had followed Jesus from Galilee to care for his needs. 56 Among them were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Joses, and the mother of Zebedee’s sons.

Jesus went through torture beyond any of our imaginations. He went through personal humiliation, physical pain, and spiritual anguish. The worst of all was probably the suffering that came in verse 46. He experienced separation from God. That is the ultimate consequence of sin. Separation. Spiritual death. I can’t even imagine what he went through at that moment. The weight of sin for everyone who ever lived, was living, and would live was upon him at that moment. That full amount of God’s wrath was on Jesus. Jesus had never sinned, but God made him to be sin for us (2 Corinthians 5:21). God’s Son, the Creator of the universe, was rejected by His creation and isolated from His Father. The separation had to be the worst suffering of all. The wrath of God was satisfied.  Because of Jesus’ suffering, we are restored to a right relationship with God if we accept His FREE gift of salvation.

According to John’s account (John 19:30) of Christ’s death, what Jesus said in verse 50 was “It is finished.” These words mark the end of his suffering. It marks the completion of Jesus’ mission to restore us to a right relationship with the Father. At the time Jesus Christ died, the “curtain of the temple” was torn from top to bottom. This symbolizes that the way into God’s presence was now open. Because of what Jesus did, we have permanent access to God for all those who give their lives to Christ.

Just one person’s sin would’ve been enough to put Him on the cross. ‎”A cross, 3 nails, the weight of my sin, loneliness, pain and sorrow. That was on my Savior’s,”to do list”,for today. I am the cause.”

“It was my sin that held him there. Until it was accomplished. His dying breath has brought me life. I know that it is finished.”

Jesus did all of this out of love. When He was hanging on that cross He was thinking of you. He gave salvation to anyone who comes into contact with His saving and delivering power. He paid the ultimate sacrifice so that we don’t have to be separated from God anymore. We now can have a relationship with Him through Jesus Christ.

“It wasn’t the nails that held Jesus to the cross, it was love.”

-Austin


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Forgive? You’re Kidding Me, Right?

Hug it out

(Hugging it out…)

The concept of forgiveness can be a hard thing to digest.  If someone wronged us, granting forgiveness can feel almost as if we’ve been hit twice.  The first time when we were so generously issued the wrong-doing; the second when we struggled to set-aside our ill-feelings and extended the gift of forgiveness.  After all, he/she may have deserved anything but a gift.

Our minds cannot grasp some acts deserving forgiveness.  Can you think of something that has been or would be hard to forgive?  I’m sure you could—I just thought of three in about five seconds flat.  Forgiveness doesn’t always appear justifiable.  Why should we let our perpetrator off the hook?  Withholding forgiveness can deceivingly present itself as our last hope to even the stakes.  However, is keeping the culprit on that hook really enforcing justice … or do we feel the weight ten-fold from supporting the hook itself?

 “Forgiving those who hurt us is the key to personal peace.”

~ G. Weatherly

This residual weight strapped to our shoulders is not only a nuisance, but can be draining, tormenting, and even suffocating.  To choose to carry this pain can feel as if the incident is recurring with each passing day.  Neither party wins.

My Glimpse in the Mirror

I’ve recently asked myself, “Where would I be if I was never granted forgiveness for my own transgressions?”  Sadly, the answer wasn’t pretty.  We all appreciate forgiveness for our mistakes.  God forgives us over and over again every single day.  Upon acknowledgement of our blunder and a sincere request for forgiveness, His mercy awaits.  So wouldn’t it be hypocritical not to reciprocate this generosity to others?  

“Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” 

Ephesians 4:31-32  

(NIV)

We are left with a choice:  do we forgive, or do we carry the weight?  It’s not an easy decision.  Given we make the decision to forgive, our next step(s) toward allowing that act to transpire can be even harder.  Here’s where prayer comes in, asking God to locate the strength and perspective within us to not only want to forgive but also follow through with that desire, surrendering to His wisdom when our need for justice yanks us backward.  We give our Father our torment and baggage and embrace the metamorphous of our heart.  We do this each and every day, over and over again until we are able to welcome this road as if no other choice had ever been appealing.  We simply can’t do it alone.

But How Often Should We Have to Forgive?

Ever feel like your forgiveness is constant?  Why do we continue to hand out forgiveness—shouldn’t we reach a threshold at some point?  We don’t have a limited bank of forgiveness to grant.  God emulates for us limitless love, grace and mercy.  He doesn’t issue this sparingly.  Forgiveness is a choice, not a well that will run dry.  The option will always be available.  So what stops us from giving it?  Only ourselves.

“Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, ‘Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?‘ Jesus answered, ‘I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.’”

Matthew 18: 21-22

(NIV)

Wow.  Seventy-seven times.  Does your mind present this as, “seventy-seven opportunities for another to take advantage of me”?  Or instead, “seventy-seven opportunities for personal peace”?  The choice is yours.

Always wishing you peace,

Alicia M. Smith

Twitter:  @AliciaMSmith7

 


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Bad Bosses and Irritating People, part I

Image

 

“For rulers are not a cause of fear for good behavior, but for evil. Do you want to have no fear of authority? Do what is good and you will have praise from the same; for it is a minister of God to you for good. But if you do what is evil, be afraid; for it does not bear the sword for nothing; for it is a minister of God, an avenger who brings wrath on the one who practices evil (Romans 13:3-4, NAS).”

“Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord (Romans 12:19, NAS).”

 

Since we are called to be obedient, any rebellion against God’s word is as witchcraft as we read in I Samuel 15:23: “For rebellion is as the sin of divination (witchcraft), and insubordination is as iniquity and idolatry.” When Yahweh instructs His holy people to submit to authority, good or bad, we are to do it with joy knowing that God (not the person) will repay/reward us in due season. We must view obedience and submission to a bad boss as unto the Lord, not as unto man.

 Colossians 3:23: “And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, AS TO THE LORD, and NOT UNTO MEN.”

I often think of Joseph. He had to submit to rulers that were set against God; he was a slave to an Egyptian (the enemy of the Israelite’s and God). When propositioned by Potiphar’s wife, a beautiful woman, Joseph refused because of His dedication to God, not his dedication to Potiphar. Joseph did not argue or defend himself to Potiphar when falsely accused. He merely went to prison trusting that God had a better plan in store – he trusted God’s prophecy. In addition, he served the Lord to the fullest extent while in prison instead of murmuring against and second-guessing God who had proclaimed greatness over him. Humility in tough situations is something completely supernatural – of Holy Spirit and not of the fleshly man.

Few accomplish this because most allow their flesh to rule instead of Holy Spirit within – an earthly (external) mindset instead of a Kingdom (eternal) mindset. It requires prayer and supplication (constant communion with and focus on Yeshua) at all times and in all things being willing to submit to God and trusting in His ways instead of seeing it only as unto the unreasonable boss or set of earthly rules.

Though no one has perfected this, myself included at times, isn’t it time we begin to purpose to walk in the ways of the Lord as unto God? We need to stop looking at the man/person (earthly), and look only The King, The Ruler (supernatural); but instead, we look only at what pleases or displeases us in the moment. To usurp authority positioned by God in the earth is rebellion against God.

Humility in hard places is something completely supernatural – of Holy Spirit, not of the fleshly man. It requires prayer and supplication (constant communion with and focus on the Lord) at all times and in all things being willing to submit to God and trusting in His way instead of seeing it only as unto the unreasonable boss, person, people or set of earthly rules.

“If you love Me, you will keep My commandments (John 14:15, NAS).”

“But it shall come about, if you do not obey the Lord your God, to observe to do all His commandments and His statutes with which I charge you today, that all these curses will come upon you and overtake you (Deuteronomy 28:15, NAS).”

I hope you’ll come back next week as we continue to explore the subject of humility with bad bosses and irritating people. If you’re interested in reading more on this subject, please go to my website and check out my books.

Peace and blessings,

Alexys V. Wolf

thefierysword@windstream.net

www.thefierysword.com

https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Fiery-Sword-Global-Ministries/185299884822251

http://thefierysword.wordpress.com/


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Love that Never Ends

We’ve all fallen, haven’t we? We’ve all had bad days. Problems in life. Stress. Confusion. We all just have struggles in general. It’s in those times that we feel like we can’t get to God. Our problems and our struggles hold us back from communing with Him. However, Psalm 51:17 tells us something different: 

“The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit;
A broken and a contrite heart, O God, You will not despise.”

As David is writing this and praying this, he knows that all he can offer God is a broken heart. Because, honestly, that’s all we have. Our heart, our soul is the only thing we really own. Everything else will stay behind when you enter eternity. So, the only thing we can truly offer God is our heart. That’s not much, is it? I don’t know about you, but I don’t think I’m anything special. I know that I’ve failed time and time again. The thing is, God accepts what we offer him when we do it with everything we have. When we really mean it, He eagerly accepts our offerings. And they thrill Him because that’s all He wanted in the first place. He wants fellowship with the very people He gave the breath of life. 

I hope this short post has encouraged you tonight! God bless!

-Austin

“Well my love is over
It’s underneath
It’s inside
It’s in between 

The times that you’re healing
And when your heart breaks
The times that you feel like you’ve fallen from grace 

The times you’re hurting
The times that you heal
The times you go hungry and are tempted to steal 

In times of confusion
In chaos and pain
I’m there in your sorrow under the weight of your shame 

I’m there through your heart-ache
I’m there in the storm
My love I will keep you by my power alone 

I don’t care where you’ve fallen or where you have been
I’ll never forsake you
My love never ends”- Tenth Avenue North


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CONFORMING TO THE IMAGE OF GOD

By Neil Anderson

Neil Anderson

March 8
1 Thessalonians 4:3 
For this is the will of God, your sanctification.
 
In a personal sense, God’s will for our lives is that we conform to the image of God, something the apostle Paul makes clear in 1 Thessalonians 4:3: “For this is the will of God, your sanctification.” In his letter to Roman Christians, Paul writes, “For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son” (Romans 8:29) and adds in 1 Timothy 1:5, “The goal of our instruction is love from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.” Divine guidance will never come to those whose primary goal is not first and foremost conforming to the image of God.
 
There is no instruction in the Bible concerning career choice, where we live, or who we should marry. There is, however, an abundance of instruction on how we’re to relate to our employer and behave on the job we already have (Colossians 3:22-25). And there is much about how to relate with one another (Colossians 3:10-14) and live with our families (Colossians 3:18-21).
 
The Bible overwhelmingly instructs that to do God’s will means living in harmony with God and man: “‘You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the great and foremost commandment. And a second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets” (Matthew 22:37-40).
 
The whole purpose of the Bible is to teach us how to have a relationship with God and live in harmony with one another. We do this by assuming our responsibilities for today and trusting God for tomorrow.
 
I’m not sure the Lord cares primarily whether you are a carpenter, teacher or doctor. But He does care what kind of carpenter, teacher or doctor you are. Determine to be the person He has called you to be. No one can prevent you from being God’s person except you.
 
Prayer: Lord, I want to be Your person today, to live in harmony with You and with those around me.


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Love to Worship- Spoken Word

This is a video from Dillon Chase. I thought it was great, so I’m sharing it with all of you! :)

-Austin 

 


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NEW WINE

By Neil Anderson

banner_secondary_who i am in christ

February 8
 
Luke 5:38 
New wine must be put into fresh wineskins
 
Jesus taught that the forms of our Christian practice must change. In His parable of the garment and the wineskin in Luke 5:36-39, the garment and the wineskin are the external dress and the container, not the substance of our faith. They represent the religious customs, practices and traditions in which the substance of our faith is packaged. Jesus is stating a fact–the garment needs mending and the old wineskin is old! What worked before isn’t working anymore. Times change, cultures change, and what worked 20 years ago may not work today. But what doesn’t change is the object of our faith.
 
“Time-honored faith” and “long-established practice” blend together and become indistinguishable to the status quo. When someone advocates another form of practice, it becomes apparent that the security of the old wineskins rests in the long-established practice instead of the time-honored faith.
 
The reasoning behind the resistance is logical: “I came to Christ singing that song,” or “It worked for me. I don’t see why it won’t work for my children.” We have to ask, “Is it relevant? Does it relate?”
 
The older generation is the stable force in our churches. They are faithful and mature, and they represent the financial stability that every church needs. They also make up the boards and committees that determine the style of ministry, but they have a tendency to perpetuate long-established practices that are meaningful to them.
 
This problem is more sociological than spiritual. Why is it that a good, Bible-believing church which faithfully carries out its ministry struggles to hold onto its young people, when down the street a contemporary ministry rents a store building and has four times more young people in a matter of months? Because the contemporary ministry relates to the young and their style of music. It caters to their desire for expression and participation.
 
If we fail to provide new wineskins, we will be ill-equipped to serve the “new wine”–the next generation of believers.
 
Prayer: Lord, help me never to cling to the old ways just because they make me feel comfortable.


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THE DEFINITION OF DISCIPLESHIP

By Neil Anderson

 banner_secondary_who i am in christ

January 30
 
1 Thessalonians 5:11
Encourage one another, and build up one another, just as you also are doing
 
Jesus’ primary call to His disciples is seen in His words “Come to Me” (Matthew 11:28) and “Follow Me” (Matthew 4:19). Mark records: “He appointed twelve, that they might be with Him, and that He might send them out to preach, and to have authority to cast out the demons” (Mark 3:14, 15). Notice that Jesus’ relationship with His disciples preceded His assignment to them. Discipleship is the intensely personal activity of two or more persons helping each other experience a growing relationship with God. Discipleship is being before doing, maturity before ministry, character before career.
 
Every Christian, including you, is both a disciple and a discipler in the context of his Christian relationships. You have the awesome privilege and responsibility both to be a teacher and a learner of what it means to be in Christ, walk in the spirit and live by faith. You may have a role in your family, church or Christian community which gives you specific responsibility for discipling others, such as husband/father, pastor, Sunday school teacher, discipleship group leader, etc. But even as an appointed discipler, you are never not a disciple who is learning and growing in Christ through your relationships. Conversely, you may not have an “official” responsibility to disciple anyone, but you are never not a discipler. You have the opportunity to help your children, your friend, and other believers grow in Christ through your caring and committed relationship with them.
 
Similarly, every Christian is both a counselor and counselee in the context of his Christian relationships. A good counselor should be a good discipler, and a good discipler should be a good counselor. Biblically, they are the same role. Your level of maturity may dictate that you do a lot of Christian counseling. But there will still be times when you need to seek or receive the counsel of other Christians. There will never be a day when we don’t need each other.
 
Prayer: Father, help me remember that I will never be so mature that I need not receive godly counsel from my brothers and sisters in Christ.


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A HIGHER PRIORITY

By Neil Anderson

 banner_secondary_who i am in christ

January 21
 
Romans 8:14 
For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God
 
Two significant events in my life brought into clear focus the priority of relationship over achievement. Before being called into the ministry, I worked as an aerospace engineer on the Apollo program. I will never forget the day the lunar lander touched down on the moon. This bold headline dominated the front page of the Minneapolis Star : “Neil Armstrong Lands on the Moon.” It was an achievement I was proud to be part of.
 
But the really big news came months earlier on page 7 in the third section: “Heidi Jo Anderson, born to Mr. and Mrs. Neil Anderson, Northwestern Hospital, March 12, 1969.” That may not sound like big news to you, but it was to her mother and me. Heidi totally took over my den and captured an entire shelf in the refrigerator. She altered our sleeping pattern and restricted our social calendar. But she was ours to hold, to hug and to care for.
 
What does God care about moon shots? They are deeds to be outdone. Somebody will always come along and do it better, faster and higher. What God cares about is little people like Heidi Jo Anderson because they will be with Him forever.
 
The second significant event in my life was receiving my first doctoral degree. But it turned out to be one of the most anticlimactic days of my life. I heard no applause from heaven, and I don’t believe my achievement added so much as an asterisk to my name in the Lamb’s Book of Life. I was a child of God before that day and I was still a child of God afterward.
 
But what happens in heaven when one sinner repents? Applause! Why? Because a relationship with God is eternal, while earthly achievements last only for time. Have you sacrificed the eternal to gain the temporal? Have you ignored personal and spiritual relationships in your pursuit of human achievements? Relationships must always have a higher priority than temporal achievements.
 
Prayer: Lord, amidst the busyness of my schedule and clutter of my possessions, help me cherish and nurture my relationships today.

 


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What is the Purpose of Christmas?

This is a video journal I did for Christmas! 

Merry Christmas! 

-Austin