Matthew 10:7-8

"And as you go, preach, saying, 'The kingdom of heaven is at hand.' Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out demons. Freely you have received, freely give."

Saturday, April 25, 2015

JESUS, I AM STRONG ENOUGH TO DIE FOR YOU.........(well maybe........I think)

There is something that the Lord has been asking me from time to time that makes me ponder and wonder why He keeps asking.  It seems like this question will come up when I am least expecting it, so it really gets my attention.  And that is probably exactly what God wants.  The same question has been asked enough that sometimes it causes me to become unsettled.

"SO, ARE YOU WILLING TO GO TO PRISON INSTEAD OF COMPROMISING MY WORD?"  And then after a pause of a second or two I hear.  "AND ARE YOU SURE?"

The funny thing about the "and are you sure" part is that the Holy Spirit will ask me that before I can, and without me answering the first question.  It's happened enough to where I find myself silently saying back to God, "Okay, so why do You keep asking me this?"  Does He know something that I don't, or maybe that I wouldn't want to know?

Now as much as I want to be able to stand in front of God, my family and church family and boldly proclaim with an outstretched arm and clenched fist shouting, "YES GOD, I WOULD GO TO PRISON FOR YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!," I am reminded of the words of Simon Peter,"Lord, I am willing to go with you, both to prison and to death."  And then I ponder.

There was a time when I would stand before people and tell them that I knew I could die for Christ without even thinking about what I was really saying.  I have heard other American Christians sometimes flippantly say similar things.  We can make these statements almost with arrogance, making ourselves sound good, and that is beginning to scare me.  I am no longer so quick to stand and boldly make such a claim.  If I do address that topic now I will usually use words or a phrase along with it such as that I "would hope" that I could; or I will soften the statement by saying that "I am pretty sure" that I could.  We really need to think about what we are saying.  Maybe you are surprised at my thoughts today, but as my pastor would say, "Hey, I'm just keeping it real here."

"I TELL YOU, PETER, THE ROOSTER SHALL NOT CROW THIS DAY BEFORE YOU WILL DENY THREE TIMES THAT YOU DO NOT KNOW ME."  Jesus response to Peter haunts me as I hear the Lord questioning me.

I heard a similar topic of discussion on a radio station earlier this week.  While I am working I like to have music playing in the background that will help me to keep my mind right and on the Lord.  I'm blessed to have a job where I am able to do that and lately I've been listening a lot to WAY-FM out of West Palm Beach, Florida.  I also enjoy listening to that station because our oldest daughter and her family live just outside of West Palm.  So, we of course have been there several times.  As I listen to the announcers talk about the area I can picture places in my mind  and it makes me think about what our daughter, grandsons and son-in-law, might be doing.  It makes me feel like I am a part of their day to day lives and somehow that makes me feel good.  Does that sound silly?

One morning earlier this week I heard them talking about people who are being martyred in other countries for being a follower of Jesus, which of course led them to raise the question as to if we are willing to die for our faith in Jesus rather than deny Him.  As they opened up the question to the listeners, among all the ones that called in with a response, there was one lady in particular who gave an answer that stood out the most to me..  It was an answer that I am going to adopt in my own walk with Christ.  It impacted me that much.  I think it was also the most honest response out of any.

Faced with the decision to deny Jesus and live, or stand by her faith and die, this soft spoken woman simply said that in that moment she would have to PRAY and ASK the Holy Spirit to give her the strength to not deny Jesus.  She added that she would need to do this because she was reminded of Jesus saying,"Whoever confesses me before men, him I will also confess before my Father who is in heaven.  But whoever denies me before men, him I will also deny before my Father who is in heaven."

Do you get it?  This woman was baring her soul, honesty and pretty and admitting that she would need help.  That this was something that she could not do on her own.  And like to admit it or not, neither can you or I.  Our flesh, like Peter's flesh, will not allow it.  I can't do it on my own.  The only way is with the power, strength and help of the Holy Spirit.  Oh, but how this helps me to better understand the teaching of the beatitude, "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven."  In other words blessed is the one who recognizes that they are spiritually bankrupt and in spiritual brokenness except for God's grace.  Blessed is the one who casts aside all self dependence and cries out to God for strength.

I am not trying to burst any bubbles today.  But maybe I am for this one post, trying to help us to be a little more sober minded and cause us to think on these things.  Grasp the truth of that beatitude and it will help you to overcome so many adversities, trials and problems in day to day life.  Stop trying to do things using your own strength or wisdom!  This is a great spiritual principle for everything we do in life, let alone help us in dealing with the more serious topics of discussion that I imposed upon you today.

.............................................Wow, I'm not used to being quite this serious on this blog.  I'm not even sure how to close or wrap this up today.  I guess I will close by just saying that we need to be on guard.  satan is on the prowl in the world, looking for those that he can destroy.  We need to firm up our relationship with Christ.  We need to flee from any false sense of security in ourselves, calling instead upon the grace, mercy and love of God.   And maybe I'll just close things out this way:   Finally my brothers and sisters..............

"Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on all of God's armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places. Therefore, put on every piece of God's armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm. Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God's righteousness. For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared. In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil. Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere." (Ephesians 6:10-18, nlt)

I love you guys,

Mark S