"So let’s not allow ourselves to get fatigued doing good. At the right time [IN DUE SEASON] we will harvest a good crop if we don’t give up, or quit." Galatians 6:9. Use the talents and gifts God has given you and REJOICE in the harvest.
Pilate did not say Behold the King of the Jews or Behold the Son of God, but Behold the Man. Jesus was in his humanity clothed in the only clothing we could offer Him, robe and crown of thorns from the ground.
In Exchange, Christ clothes us in His righteousness (Galatians 3:26-29). In Luke 24:49, Jesus tells us that He will clothe us with power from on high (Holy Spirit) and Ephesians 4:20-24 talks of putting off your old self and put on the new self, fashioned after God in true righteousness and holiness.
Clothing: the Crown
Jesus also replaced the crown of thorns. 1 Corinthians 9:25 talks of those who complete the race will receive a crown that will last forever. 2 Timothy 4:8 talks of us receiving the crown of life that the Lord promises to those who love Him. 1 Peter 5:4 talks of the crown of glory that will never fade away.
Names are Changed
We now have the spirit of son ship. We can cry, “Abba, Father” (Romans 8:15, NIV). But when the set time had fully come, God sent His son, born of a woman, under the law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to son ship. (Galatians 4:4-5, NIV). As a son God has made us an heir (Galatians 4:7-9)
We live in a world of contracts. Contracts are easily broken, amended, or rewritten to suit our fancy. God, however, is a God of covenants, not contracts. Covenants are binding. Covenants typically involve three things: The shedding of blood, an exchange of items between the parties, sometimes a change of name which signified a change in the relationship.The first thing God did after Adam and Eve sinned and by eating the fruit was to make a covenant or promise that He would bring a savior:
The word ‘bruise’ denotes a crushing or completely overwhelming. Jesus would completely crush Satan, Praise God. Bruising of Jesus’ heel is a foreshadowing of Jesus bleeding from His feet when nailed to the cross. There was blood shed and items exchanged. God killed the animals and clothed Adam and Eve. Also names were changed, Adam named the woman God had given him, Eve after Fall (Genesis 3:20). There are other covenants between God and man in the Old Testament, the covenant with Noah, Abraham and Moses. Overall, the Bible describes two main covenants, the Old Covenant, which was based on Moses’ laws and the New Covenant, which is based on Jesus Christ.
The Old Covenant
Under the old covenant the priest went once a year into the Holy of Holies portion of the tabernacle and sprinkled blood on the mercy seat of the Ark of the Covenant. The priest did this once a year for atonement of sin. The blood came from a lamb that was spotless, and it was sprinkled seven times. It was a foreshadowing of the sacrifice of Jesus, who was spotless and bled in seven places for our redemption during the Passover week. The blood cover our sins but it did not pierce our hearts.
The New Covenant
God wanted to establish a covenant that would be written on our hearts. It would be everlasting, forgive sins and would establish Him as our God and us as His people (Jeremiah 31:30-33) It would be a cleansing from the inside out, not the outside in. It would cause change at the very core of our being. This would be a covenant that God would establish. It would be instigated by Him. We could not establish the covenant because of the sin. We could not approach God to establish a covenant. It would be a covenant for both Jews and Gentiles. Jesus would once and for all enter the Holy of Holies as the high priest did in the Old Covenant. However, it would not be with blood of goats or lambs, but His own blood. Christ became the negotiator and mediator of the this entirely new covenant agreement.
There is only one way. We cannot save ourselves, we are not without blemish. We cannot ‘do good works’ in order to put ourselves in right standing with God. We cannot earn God’s approval and love by doing good, being good, and working hard. The only way to bridge the gap and access a covenant relationship with God is through Jesus Christ. Many times we look for the perfect husband, perfect boyfriend, perfect family, perfect parents, perfect kids, perfect job to define who we are and bring our salvation and peace. The only PERFECT savior is Jesus Christ.
I love Easter. To me it is the first hint of spring. Of new life, of a new promise. To me, Easter is not a celebration of bunnies and chocolate, but the celebration of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Knowing the end of the story it is easy to celebrate. Jesus is risen and the tomb is empty, our sins have been forgiven. Amen! It is easy to forget the sacrifice that Jesus made, the shedding of His own blood for our sins. My husband reminded me that sacrifices in the Bible were pretty gruesome stuff. The Romans perfected crucifixion to be excruciatingly painful. In fact the word “excruciating” was a word originally used to describe the pain of crucifixion. I have been a Christian for long time, but studying the cross and Jesus’ sacrifice for us, opened my eyes again to the mercy and love God has for us. So I thought I would share some of what God has shown me about the cross. I am not a theologian, just a mother of three with a love for Jesus and His word. I am calling these thoughts:
Resurrection Eggs for Adults.
(Resurrection eggs are plastic eggs filled with a symbol of the Passion Week. Each day your child can open them and read a scripture and learn about events leading up to the Resurrection of Christ).
My prayer is that you enjoy these posts, but mostly you will grow in deeper understanding of Jesus for the blood of Jesus is one of spiritual weapons along with the name of Jesus, and the Word of God. It is our firm foundation that everything else rests.
When we think of the cross, what do we think about? Blood, cross, Jesus, sins, love??? Probably all of the above and more. The cross is pivotal in many ways. Historically it divided time, BC and AD. Spiritually it unites us with God. Ultimately it is a picture of unconditional love. To understand the cross, you need to understand Covenant and the importance of the blood.
“For the life of the flesh is in the blood: and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls: for it is the blood that make an atonement for the soul” Leviticus 17:11.
Life is in blood. In our bodies the blood supplies nutrients, removes impurities. It cleanses. The sin that came with Adam is passed down with the blood. God had given Adam a choice and he chose to give it to Satan Genesis 3:15 but God said that He would send someone to bruise his heel or to bruise his authority. Jesus is that sacrifice. He took the authority so we could have victory not just in heaven but here on earth. He overcame the devil (Revelations 12:11).
“We have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins.”– Ephesians 1:17
“We are redeemed with the precious blood of Christ.”–1 Peter 1:19
When you have boys you become accustomed to a certain amount of noise. As a mom of boys you develop the ‘mommy spider sense’ of when to intervene with the noise. It is when the conversational tone changes just slightly, or when the pounding on the floor becomes just a hair louder, or the worst yet…. when every thing gets quiet. This mommy spider sense develops after numerous trips upstairs responding to what sounds like the ceiling falling in only to discover that they are “wrestling”. They would see me and shake it off and burst out laughing. I asked my youngest son the other day how he was getting along with his older brother. His response was, “The normal mom, nothing to worry about, we have a certain degree of struggle being brothers.” OK, so with brothers there may be a certain amount of struggle or wrestling but after years of accidentally elbowing the other of punching just a little too hard, each has learned where to draw the line with the other. It is like they haven’t completely bonded until there is an arm punch or light air karate kick or something. Unfortunately, this is not the case with most things we wrestle or struggle with.
“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers (principalities), against the powers, against the world forces (rulers) of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places”. Ephesians 6:12
With my boys, they have learned to read the other and recognize when it is ‘just play’ and when it is serious. Unfortunately, many of us as Christians have not learned how to recognize play with battle. What we see as playing many times is a battle. Unfortunately, we don’t recognize that we are in a battle it until we are seriously wounded. Satan doesn’t draw a line with us. His objectives are to kill, steal, and destroy. He doesn’t play.
The Bible says in Ephesians 6:12 that we wrestle or struggle with four things, principalities, powers, rulers of darkness of this world, and spiritual forces of this world.
Principalities (arche, n.)
Principalities are the leaders. When a ranking order, they are the chiefs. The Greek word for principality refers that these are what causes an issue to have life.
Powers refers to the power of authority, judicial power, the power of a government to rule over someone.
Rulers of the age refers to devils and demons that exist during this time in history or age. The Greek word here is a noun and it is only used once in the New Testament. These are specific rulers. Darkness refers to those in spiritual darkness, ignorant of divine things. If you are blinded to the spiritual battle then the world forces can rule over you. Other references for spiritual darkness is Luke 1:79, John 3:19, Acts 26:18.
Spiritual Forces of wickedness (poneria,n.)
The word for spiritual is not found in the four gospels or in the Old Testament. It is post pentecost word. It is connotes an idea of invisibility and power. In Ephesians 6:12 it refers to angelic hosts who are lower than God but higher than man. These are beings in charge of ‘wickedness’ . They are in charge of depravity, malice, evil purposes, evil plots.
After studying all this, I am thinking, ok what chance do I have regarding this battle. These are serious opponents. I think Paul knew we would feel that way because he ‘sandwiched’ this scripture between telling us to Put on the armor of God (Ephesians 6:11) and to Take up the armor of God (Ephesians 6:13). Put on mean to be enveloped, clothed completely like sinking into a soft cushy blanket that completely wraps us. Take up means to pick up with the purpose of using it. We are to be completely covered with the spiritual armor that we need for the battle. This is not play so don’t just rest in the armor, take it up and use it for what it was created for… Battle.
When I first started this Family Fantasy Football with my boys and family from coast to coast, I had no idea the ups and downs that would follow. It sounds easy. I mean you pick your players each week and then points are collected as they play. Hopefully I will have more points than my boys, I mean I am the mom right. I gave birth to them (moms always pull the birth card when we are behind!). Well, no one told me about injuries and how that affects the Fantasy points. Did you know that one injured toe cost me over 20 Fantasy Points? Who would have thought a toe would be such a big deal? I mean it is just a toe right?
It may have been just a toe but it not only affected the player who had to be benched until he heals, but it affected the team as well. The quarterback had to rely on two other players to cover the one injured. These players were good but did not have the same timing with the quarterback. The timing that came from weeks of practice until you instinctively know that the player is there to catch the ball and complete the play.
“But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be.” 1 Corinthians 12:18 (NIV)
God has placed us on a team and has given us a position. He knows our gifts and talents and abilities, because He put them there. As we study God’s word, He works with us to develop those talents and abilities so that when the game is played we are ready.
Our human tendency is to not see the significance of ourselves or our lives. We may become frustrated in the growth process and in the training process. We may think if “I don’t play, it will not matter”. We may become injured physically or emotionally either through neglect or laziness or through no fault of our own. Or we may think, “I am one of many so it will not matter if I don’t serve this one time”. We may think it will not matter if I stand down this one time. We forget that we are part of a team and when one goes missing it affects the whole team. God still has His plan.
“On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable” 1 Corinthians 12:22 (NIV).
Although a toe seems insignificant, in the Bible it represents our feet walking in the path of God’s word. In the Old Testament the priest’s toe was sprinkled with blood as a symbol of consecration to God’s path in life. In the New Testament, Paul, in discussing the armor of God, reminds us to have our feet shod with the “preparation of the gospel of peace” (Ephesians 6:15, KJV). In Romans, we are reminded that the feet of him who preach the gospel of peace and bring glad tidings of good things are beautiful (Romans 10:15, KJV). There numerous Biblical references to the washing of our feet, symbolizing washing off the dust and grime of the world. Without a big toe, our gait is off, running is affected, and ability to stand our ground is hindered. Staying in the word of God will keep our feet protected with the gospel of peace, keeping us in the game.
“I gain understanding through your precepts; therefore I hate every wrong path. Your Word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path.” (Psalm 119:104-105, NIV).
Ever watch football? At my house we have put together a fantasy football team, connecting my family which is stretched from coast to coast. It has sparked a whole new interest in football for me. With a house full of boys, it was bound to happen. If you have watched football, you will notice that there are times when the coaches or the players call for a time out. It is a time when the commercials are played. But mostly it is time for the players and the coaches to say we need to refocus, renew and rejuvenate. They get out of the game and mingle on the sidelines. The players then come back into the game and you can see it in their faces. They have a plan, they are focused, they are strengthened.
What would happen if they stayed on the sidelines?
In life there are times when we need to be like the players and call a time out. For me it usually involves coffee. I like to sit on the porch with a cup of coffee and drink in Jesus’ word as I read from the Bible. Sometimes, my time outs last a few days, sometimes a few months as I withdraw to the sidelines to confer with my coach. OK, God, why am I here? We are stuck in the middle of the field and the offense is strong. I am barely able to hold the the line. Tried throwing and it got intercepted. Tried passing it off and it got fumbled. What is the plan?
That is when I hear a voice telling me:
“Do you not know? Have you not heard? The everlasting God, the Lord, the creator of the ends of the earth, does not become weary or tired. His understanding is inscrutable. He gives strength to the weary and to him who lacks might, He increases power. Though youths grow weary and tired and vigorous young men stumble badly, yet those who wait on the Lord, will gain new strength; they will mount up with wings like eagles, they will run and not get tired, they will walk and not become weary.”—– Isaiah 40:38-31
Jesus is saying, ” It is time to get back into the game.” This time with My understanding, with My strength, with My might, My power. Jesus will give you new strength, you will run and not get tired, and will walk and not become weary, but you have to get off the sidelines, the buzzer has sounded, get back into the game!!
Do you spend all your energy on getting the equipment, but have no plan? I have a friend who has multiple gym memberships and she actually uses all of them! Well, she is helping me with a workout plan. In planning to start an exercise program, I took inventory first:
Free weights- check
Exercise ball- need to get out of the garage but check
Exercise mat- needs cleaning but check
Cute exercise outfit-definitely check
By nature most of us, including myself, feel constricted by the word ‘planning’. It means that we may have to carry it out! It takes time, energy, and commitment. However, we also realize that to achieve anything, planning needs to occur. We plan our vacations, we plan our career goals, we plan our day. I admit some plan more than others, but we usually have some idea. Like most of you, with the New Year, I have been praying and setting all sort of goals. I have begun to realize that this desire to plan comes from God.
God is a planning God. He had a plan when Jesus was born in the manger. Thankfully, God had a plan for our redemption and salvation. In the very beginning, with the story of creation, we can see that God has always had a plan.
From the story of creation, there are seven things we can learn about plans.
Plans usually fall apart unless God is in the center. Genesis 1 says that “In the beginning was God… ” God was at the center of creation. Are you doing what you want or what God has called you to do? Even if you don’t have a plan, God does.
Plans don’t constrict…. they release. I used to think that plans inhibit creativity. God is a creative God. God’s plans saved time because there was no ‘do overs’. He created fish after He created the oceans. He created birds after He created the sky. Because God had the environments in place, He was free to be creative in the embellishments. Like decorating a room, once the walls are up and painted, you can get to the fun part.
Plans need a date on them. Something about the concept of time motivates me to act. God added the time concept when He created the earth. On the first day…on the second day…. on the third day…
Plans require action. Plans don’t do any good sitting on a shelf. God in creation spoke it into being. He took action. The Spirit of God moved…..
Plans need to be flexible and stay on point. Planning can be boring. Having flexibility to enjoy the journey is needed, but don’t loose sight of the ultimate goal. The end result is not the only goal. The goal also includes the things learned and created along the way. God said after each day, “He saw that it was good”. God did not stop until His plans were completed.
Plans require partnerships and accountability. God walked with Adam in the garden of Eden. God brought the animals for Adam to name. God made Eve to be Adam’s partner. Neither could do it alone. God partnered with Adam and Eve. Who are you partnered with? Who are you allied with?
Rest comes when the plans are complete. On the seventh day, after all the work was done, God rested. He did not rest until the plan was done. God had the strength and power to complete the task and finish strong. We will also if we turn to Him.
Ok, Now where in the garage did I put that exercise ball?!?
Sometimes I think we take for granted the importance of the birth of Jesus. Living in the timeline after the birth of Christ we forget that there were years of longing for the Messiah to be born, the Prince of Peace, our Redeemer.
The birth of Christ was ushered in with praise. The praise did not start on earth, but rather originated in heaven with an army troop of angels. Luke 2: 13 is the first time the word praise,‘aineo’, is used in the New Testament. It was not only verbal praise but was connected with a promise or vow.With the birth of Christ came the promise of salvation.
“For to you is born this day in the town of David a Savior, Who is Christ (the Messiah) the Lord!” (Luke 2:11, quoting Micah 5:2)
God has shown me the importance of putting the presents aside and take moments to praise Jesus. Praise Him for leaving heaven to be born on earth a baby! Praise Him for the blessings He has given us. Praise Him for choosing to die on the cross for our sins 2000 years ago. Praise Him for loving me today and bringing me joy and salvation. Praise Him for who He is, more than a baby in a manger…………….
It is getting close to Christmas. My emails are inundated with sales and promotions. The parties have begun in full force. And under all the hustle and bustle I hear on the radio, “A baby changes everything…” I stop and think. As a mom of 3 blessings from heaven, I know how my life has been forever changed by a baby. For Mary, the mother of Jesus, I can only imagine how she felt. It was because of God’s love for us, that Jesus was even born. Mankind had been looking for the coming Messiah, the Prince of Peace, the Redeemer. Mankind was waiting.
But when the fullness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law. Galatians 4:4
I think of the times I waited. I waited for the delivery of my children. Did you feel that you would be pregnant forever? Then the labor pains start and you know that the end is near. That is when us women reach for our super power, that part of us that makes us determined to deliver this baby no matter what. When the baby is delivered, you rejoice and laugh and cry. This is the culmination of the waiting. Or is it? For a baby changes everything.
And the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, filled with wisdom: and the grace of God was upon him. Luke 2:40
The phrase ‘waxed strong’ refers to the growing of our spirit. It means to show yourself brave, to empower, to increase in vigor.The birth of Jesus was the beginning of God’s plan for our redemption, not the end. After the birth comes the maturing, the nurturing. This takes time, patience, and being purposeful. You may not be birthing a baby, but maybe birthing a dream or a goal. The waiting is agonizing. When will it arrive? When is the ‘due season’? When it does, then get ready to roll your sleeves up and press in to God. The dream cannot grow and mature without loving nurture and purposeful attention. That takes time, patience, steadfastness. It takes the Holy Spirit leading you and guiding you. Just like people, dreams were not meant to stay a baby.
“…..with all prayer and supplication praying at all seasons in the Spirit, and watching thereunto in all perseverance and supplication for all the saints.” Ephesians 6:18
Ever hear of the term ‘marching orders’. I grew up in a military town. As a child I would hear my friends talk about their dads or brothers, ‘receiving their orders’. In the military, you are trained and equipped for battle. When that battle occurs, you don’t know. But you are to be ready in season and out. Many times those orders occurred in the middle of the night or on the weekend, or a holiday. Battles are not convenient. Battles are messy. Battles are ugly. Battles are dirty. The battle that God equips us for is a battle for the life and heart of people. It means answering the phone call at 2 am from the woman that gets on your nerves, but who is struggling in her marriage. It means rearranging your schedule to hold the hand of a sick friend in the hospital as she receives the results of tests that could change her life. It means looking at sin in all its ugliness when every part of you wants to look away.
What are our marching orders? What are we called to do?
What? “pray and supplication…”
Prayer and supplications are requests made to God from deep inside our hearts and soul. From a childlike confidence, we know that regardless of what we see or people tell us, God can accomplish the impossible.
Are you praying for what looks like the impossible in your self? Your family? Your fellow Christians at church?
When? “In all seasons…”
I noticed right away that God didn’t say, “later this afternoon if you get a minute or if you think about it, can you pray for so and so.” No! this is a fixed and definite period of time, a season. There is a reason God has called you to be a such a place and time. He sees the whole battlefield. We are to act Now!
Are you praying now for yourself? Your family? Your fellow Christians at church? Or are you putting off until tomorrow?
How? “….in the Spirit, and watching thereunto in all perseverance…”
First we are to pray in the Spirit. The Holy Spirit gives us the words to pray, and reminds of the Word of God that is sharper than a two edged sword. Remember, the Holy Spirit wields the sword to make our aim true.
Are you yielding to the Holy Spirit regarding your self? Your family? Your fellow Christians in your church?
Second, we are to be watching. Watching means to be on the alert. Ever hear soldiers talk of ‘taking the first watch’. The one on watch stays awake when others sleep. They are alert to the slightest movement, sound, smell, anything that is a change. While others sleep, they are vigilant.
Are you being vigilant regarding yourself? Your family? Your fellow Christians in your church?
Third, we are to be on alert with perseverance. The word for perseverance, ” proskarterēsis“, is a noun. This is the only time this word is used in scripture. The dictionary defines perseverance as “steady persistence in a course of action, a purpose, or state; especially in spite of difficulties, obstacles or discouragement.” It implies an unyielding holding on in following a course of action.
It has been said that endurance and perseverance combine to win in the end.When a battle is raging on, the soldier who has perseverance is what you want. By his very nature, he remains steady despite what he sees or has to overcome. He is the one who sees the mountain not as an obstacle, but as an opportunity for God to overcome and be glorified. The one with perseverance is still putting one foot in front of the other while knee deep in mud while the storm is raging. Remember battle is messy.
Are you persevering with areas of your self? Your family? Your fellow Christians at your church?
By putting on the Armor of God, we have the equipment needed to win the battle. Now we need to embrace the heart or quality of perseverance to stay the course with our fellow believers. We are called to come alongside with prayer and support, holding fast not to what the world says, but what the Word of God says.