White and Black Dog: The One We Feed Will Grow

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A wise, elderly pastor shared an illustration, explaining how life resembles living with both a white and black dog inside of us. Whichever one we feed will grow; while the one we neglect will become dominant. The black dog represents the sin nature with all its selfish cravings and demands. The white dog represents a life empowered by the Holy Spirit, following and obeying everything godly — love, grace, and beauty … honor, humility, and honesty. God encourages us to intentionally feed and focus on only the “white dog” of the Holy Spirit.

I know the illustration is faulty, but it also gives a clear picture of the two realms we struggle between. In Romans 7, Paul explained this daily dilemma of living with two desires warring against each other.

Dead

When we commit our lives to Christ, God wipes the slate of past sin clean, erasing all the charges once rightly held against us. The old has gone and the new has come! Done deal!

Although this “legally” holds true, we experience a different reality — a reality of contending for the very victory Christ has already won. The white and black dog war within us. The black dog refuses to accept death, while the white dog welcomes us to the fullness and freedom that is ours.

For as long as we lived that old way of life, doing whatever we felt we could get away with, sin was calling most of the shots as the old law code hemmed us in. And this made us all the more rebellious.
Romans 7:5

How true these words? Whatever we felt we could get away with, we did or perhaps still do.

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Alive

But now that we’re no longer shackled to that domineering mate of sin, and out from under all those oppressive regulations and fine print, we’re free to live a new life in the freedom of God.”
Romans 7:6

“But now!” Oh, how I love those words! The white and black dog both ask to be fed. But now, the freedom of Christ gives us the power to choose. Will we feed the things of the Spirit or our own cravings?

Deciding to do the right thing, the good thing, the godly thing, often fails us, however. Our past rebellion ingrains our present actions, as we repeatedly say and do things which we know dishonor God and hurt others. Again and again, we feed the black dog.

We obviously need help. The thing we want to do, we are unable to accomplish.

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Something More

“But I need something more! For if I know the law but still can’t keep it, and if the power of sin within me keeps sabotaging my best intentions, I obviously need help! I realize that I don’t have what it takes. I can will it, but I can’t do it. I decide to do good, but I don’t really do it; I decide not to do bad, but then I do it anyway.”
Romans 7:17-19

God understands our dilemma and has given us all we need for complete victory. The something more we need is Someone more — Jesus Christ. Into our poverty and powerlessness, He comes, providing the way.

“The answer, thank God, is that Jesus Christ can and does. He acted to set things right in this life of contradictions where I want to serve God with all my heart and mind, but am pulled by the influence of sin to do something totally different.”
Romans 7:25

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The Choice

So, we live within a sobering reality. God provided through Jesus all we need for a complete and victorious life in the Spirit. Each decision leads us to feed either the white or black dog.

Jesus summarized all the commandments this way,

Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’
Matthew 22:37-39

Whatever attention we give to the black dog of sin results in a disastrous outcome. It may be delayed, but it will come. But love always feeds the things of the Spirit. As we give our full attention to loving God and others, the things of the Holy Spirit (or the white dog) will grow stronger. Through Jesus Christ, victory becomes our portion over every area of our lives.

When we can’t find the strength or power to will and do God’s pleasure, thank God … Jesus Christ can and does! Let us turn to Him each day in prayer and petition, in reading His Word and devoting ourselves to follow its direction, and to love and serve God and others to the best of our ability.

May the black dog die from neglect and the white dog flourish.

MaryAnn Ward - Blog - White Dog

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The Cheering Squad – A Huge Crowd of Witnesses

The Cheering Squad – A Huge Crowd of Witnesses

This past weekend our family gathered, forming a cheering squad for our granddaughter’s volleyball team. We were a loud and ruckus group! Dignity was cast to the wind as we applauded every good move they made — despite points scored. As it turned out, they lost most of their games. Nevertheless, we were proud of this small-town team as they faced league champions without flinching or bowing.

After two days of leaping to my feet and cheering, this grandmother felt more than a little hoarse and weary. But my heart rejoiced at my granddaughter’s accomplishments. That evening as I rested, I felt the nudge of God, “Do you think you cheer for someone you love more than I do?”

I was instantly brought to tears with the realization of how much God loves us and cheers for us. Whether we “score” points in our Christian walk or “fumble the ball,” He is for us and not against us. And when He is for us, who can stand against us?

“What shall we say about such wonderful things as these? If God is for us, who can ever be against us?”
Romans 8:31

A Huge Crowd

A recent scientific study examined the effects of cheering on sports team. When crowds couldn’t gather to cheer for their teams during covid, they found that the points scored had significantly diminished.

Oh course, God knew the advantage of applauding crowds long before human studies proved the point. I’m not sure how this all works, but I believe the Bible when it says,

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.”
Hebrews 12:1

If you believe this great throng consists of negative naysayers waiting for us to fumble and fail, think again! These people have already experienced how tough life becomes. They know what it is like to fight the same battles and face off with the same enemy we fight and face every day. Because they understand our struggle and know our pain, they cheer for us all the louder.

Let’s close our eyes for a moment and open our hearts to envision this heavenly cheering squad, rising to their feet in thunderous applause as we lunge for the ball? Whether we make the save or not, they roar on our behalf. Whether we spike the ball into enemy turf or not, their hands are raised in victory.

I love the way the Message Bible describes the scene, “Do you see what this means — all these pioneers who blazed the way, all these veterans cheering us on …” (Hebrews 12:1). WOW!

Keep Going

Several times during a match, our beloved team would be down by a few points. Our frantic cheering from the sidelines kept their spirits high and hopes elevated. As a result, so many on our team demonstrated their best performances ever.

Casting aside any discouragement, they refused to quit and fought for the win!

What a wonderful example of what God calls us to do.

“It means we’d better get on with it. Strip down, start running — and never quit! No extra spiritual fat, no parasitic sins.”
Hebrews 12:1b MSG

It’s time to give our cheering squad, that huge crowd of witnesses, reason to leap to feet. Let’s strip off everything that limits us from running our best race and effectively fighting against the enemies strategies. Is there known sin? By quickly confessing and renouncing it, we refuse to allow shame and condemnation to sideline us. Let’s shake it off and get back into action. Those things that has drag us down or hold us back don’t belong to us. We can break free for the win!

A huge crowd watches in anticipation of our victory.

The Champion

Perhaps we feel much like our small-town team facing athletic giants, who boldly display their victory banners from previous wins. We may feel weak against the strong.

The tables are about to turn! Victory is ours! How do I know? “If God is for us, who can ever be against us?

May we never forget The Champion of all champions, Jesus Christ, lives in us and stands for us. We rise victorious by keeping our eyes on Him.

 “We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne.”
Hebrews 12:1-2

Often when one of our girls missed a move, they instinctively looked toward their coaches who watched from the sidelines. Without fail, their coaches smiled, applauded, and gave them a thumbs up, while cheering, “Great job! You have the right idea! Yeah, keep going!”

Our Champion and Coach, Jesus Christ offers us far more. Yes, He points where we can and should improve. Yes, He gives us wisdom and direction. But no one cheers us on more than He does. He dwarfs the thunderous cheer of the great crowd of witnesses with His victorious roar!

We Win

As we work together, we become an unbeatable team. We have no time for backbiting and criticizing each another. Some have taken a hit to the face. Others have fallen and injured themselves. Not everyone senses the great crowd of witnesses cheering them on to victory.

Let’s be the one patting them on the back and encouraging them to the finish. Let’s step forward, helping them back to their feet. May we, like Jesus, whisper in their ears, “Great job! You have the right idea! Yeah, keep going!” By the grace of God, we can become a one-person cheering squad wherever we go.

Together we win!

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The Battle is Already Won — A Song in the Night

The Battle is Already Won — A Song in the Night

What struggle are you facing today? God desires us to know, beyond all doubt, He has already secured our victory through the cross. I read it in the pages of His Word. It resonates through the proverbs of the wise and pen of poets. But often, Holy Spirit confirms our victory through songs He brings in the night.

I wasn’t feeling well yesterday, so I crawled into bed a few hours early to sleep off whatever my body was fighting. Though my body ached, peace filled my mind and heart. Several times in the night, I awoke with a song on my heart, affirming my victorious position in Christ.

“You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.”
1 John 4:4

Don’t believe, for a moment, that there is a cosmic war in the heavenlies between Jesus and the citizens of darkness. Jesus Christ absolutely defeated the enemy once and for all. At the cross, Jesus crushed the head of our accuser under His heal.

He took back all the authority and power the enemy stole from humanity. Jesus holds it all. The only weapons the enemy has left are fear and lies, which he uses to manipulate and intimidate God’s children.

Songs in the Night

So, if you are facing a battle, I offer these few songs for your night watch.

“You will not have to fight the battle. Take up your positions, stand firm and see the deliverance the LORD will give you … Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Go out to face them tomorrow, and the LORD will be with you.”
2 Chronicles 20:17

Shane & Shane: The Lord Is My Salvation

“But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
1 Corinthians 15:57

Shane & Shane: Holy, Holy, Holy (We Bow Before Thee)

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Romans 8:37-39

Shane & Shane: His Mercy Is More

Greatest Weapon

Different types of music resonates more with us than other types and speak to us in different ways. Nonetheless, I intentionally pick up instruments of praise in the midst of battle. The attitude within us and the atmosphere around us will shift as we fix our eyes on Jesus, our Great Conqueror and Defender.

Shane & Shane: He Will Hold Me Fast

“What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?”
Romans 8:31

Shane & Shane: Tis So Sweet

The battle has already been won. May God give us His song in the night. Through Him, every battle has already been won.

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Freedom and Victory: Living the Victorious Christian Life Today!

Freedom and Victory: Living the Victorious Christian Life Today!

The cross of Jesus Christ delivered us from the sordid penalty of sin. It also guarantees our freedom and victory from the power of sin. What He accomplished is for today! For here! For now!

As a Christian, our future deliverance from the presence of all sin will eternally be experienced in Heaven. But how well have we been taught and demonstrated a life of freedom and victory in the grungy realities of our present circumstances?

The enemy keeps way too many people trapped in the recesses of darkness by blinding us to this beautiful reality.

Probably for you, as it is for me, the battle with sin refused to cease upon the confession of faith in Jesus Christ. Why? What’s going on? Why are so many Christians living cloaked in unnecessary guilt and shame.

We find the solution in Romans chapter 6.

Because of Baptism

Paul encourages the Roman believers, and us today, that because of baptism in Christ, we sin no more!

“What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.”
Romans 6:1-4

In Christ, we died to sin. It is done! Finished! Past tense!

And in Christ, we were baptized into his death. So in the same way, in Christ we may live a new life of freedom and victory now — today.

That’s worth shouting, “Freedom! Celebrate! Victory is ours!”

No Longer Slaves

Our old lives conditioned us to listen to the slave master of sin, who continues to bark out orders. Everything in us cringes and cowers to the sound, while we resist the urge to obey our old master.

“For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin—because anyone who has died has been set free from sin.”
Romans 6:6

The Passion Translation contains a wonderful note:

“…that the body of sin might be annulled and put out of business. To beg God for victory over sin is a refusal to understand that we have already died to sin. Our joyful task is to believe the good news, rather than to seek to “crucify ourselves.” Sin is not suppressed by the cross; it is eliminated. Upon the “water” God commands us to step out and walk, for we are now in him.”

We don’t need to beg God for victory over sin in any area of our lives. But oh how marvelous to understand that we have already died to all its demands. Through our union with Jesus Christ, every sin in our lives has been put out of business.

Listen to the Right Voice

Jesus gives us the freedom and victory to listen to the right voice — His voice.

The voice of sin barks commands, “You may as well give in, you will do it anyway … You’ll enjoy this … Just once more … You know you want this …” Whatever his enticement, we don’t need to listen to the deceptive voice of our old slave master, sin.

Jesus whispers His truth to our hearts, “You don’t need to do this anymore. You don’t need to watch that, tweet that, smoke that, eat that, say that, or do that. You are mine! I have set you free! You don’t have to sin anymore!”

I keep a simple “self-portrait” in my Bible as a cheerful reminder of my union with Christ. Just as this little image is in my Bible, I am in Christ. Where my Bible goes, the sketch goes. As Christ leads, I follow. Why? I am in Christ Jesus.

“For by his sacrifice he died to sin’s power once and for all, but he now lives continuously for the Father’s pleasure.”
Romans 6:10 TPT

Consecrate

The Oxford dictionary defines consecration as declaring something to be sacred and formally dedicated to a divine purpose. Things are consecrated and sanctified when they are used for the purpose God intended. Everyone, once consecrated, lives according to God’s design and perfect purpose for their lives.

With Jesus’ example before us, we consecrate and devote ourselves to also live continuously for the Father’s pleasure. We give back to Him what He has already given to us — our hands, our feet, our mouths, our time, our resources, our gifts, our all — living each day in freedom and victory.

“So let it be the same way with you! Since you are now joined with him, you must continually view yourselves as dead and unresponsive to sin’s appeal while living daily for God’s pleasure in union with Jesus, the Anointed One.”
Romans 6:11 TPT

An Invitation

“This life of reflected goodness, and beauty is not only a demonstration, it’s also an invitation. By its very nature, it calls to people and invites them to more. More than they ever thought was possible. More than they could ever ask or imagine … So the life we live and the work we do reveals a new reality in Christ that is both available now, and will continue to unfold for all eternity … How you live matters to God because you are His plan for releasing His Kingdom in the earth … This is the work of the Kingdom. It’s for now and it only gets better. Abundant, transformative living with an eternal hope.”
– Matt Tommey

Let’s respond to God’s invitation to walk in liberty, united with Christ in the freedom and victory we possess today.

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A Time for War and a Time for Peace

Time for War

Jesus said, “Blessed are the peacemakers,” but is there a right time for war? If so, when, why, and how do we take our stand?

King Solomon wrote,

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens . . . a time for war and a time for peace.”
Ecclesiastes 3:1,8

The older I get, the less things appear worth fighting for — either to fight to win or to risk losing. Battles must be chosen wisely and fought strategically. Whether as willing or reluctant soldiers, God has enlisted Christians into a much larger engagement than we often realize.

Jesus forewarned His followers that satan, who was bent on destroying Him, would also engage in formal military combat against us.

Only two territories exist — the Kingdom of Light and the kingdom of darkness. No neutral ground exists. Though defeated, satan continues guerilla warfare to discourage and sidetrack the children of God.

Paul called his spiritual son, Timothy, onto the battlefield when he said,

Join with me in suffering, like a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No one serving as a soldier gets entangled in civilian affairs, but rather tries to please his commanding officer.”
2 Timothy 2:4

Faith

It is a fight our Commanding Officer, Jesus Christ, already won for us. Because we win, it is a good fight!

“Fight the good fight of true faith. Hold tightly to the eternal life to which God has called you. which you have declared so well before many witnesses.”
I Timothy 6:12

Paul writes this instruction near the end of his long fought battle of true faith. Second Corinthians 11:23-28 vividly describes Paul’s combat: imprisonment, countless beatings, often near death, five times forty lashes minus one, stoned, three times shipwrecked, night and day adrift at sea, frequent journeys, dangers of river, robbers, from Jews, Gentiles, and false brothers, in the city and in the wilderness. Then add toil and hardship, sleepless nights, hunger and thirst, cold and exposure, plus the daily pressure of caring for the churches.

Paul encourages Timothy to fight the same way — not with traditional weapons of war, but with courage, dedication, and standing for true faith.

Believing and trusting in Jesus Christ eternally secures our place in heaven, but few people will fight for a belief! To fight the good fight of faith, we need a deep-seated conviction — a conviction for which we are willing to risk our lives. When faith is threatened, it is time for war.

Marriage and Family

My husband and I recently celebrated our fiftieth wedding anniversary. We have fought many battles to reach that milestone.

Although we both have an aversion to engage issues head on, we have learned that for a relationship to not just survive, but thrive, is to fight for what is most loving, most honorable, and most life-giving in our relationship.

The Bible offers solid advice.

If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.”
Romans 12:18

Flies hang around garbage. It is a fact of nature. Everyone within relationship must be willing to deal with their own pile of refuse — garbage attitudes, garbage goals, garbage agendas, garbage emotional triggers . . . At times, I am shocked how much garbage I willingly drag around!

But when people lack willingness to tackle their own issues, peaceful co-existence becomes extremely difficult or even impossible. Whatever depends on me, is mine to correct with the help of the Holy Spirit.

The faint of heart shrink back, blame, and avoid. The courageous enter the battle and grapple with issues that threaten the integrity of relationships such as marriage, family, and friendships.

To protect these important relationships, we must discern the time for war.

The Internal Battle

Often, our greatest battles come from within.

Again, Paul defines this battle so well:

“So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me.”
Romans 7:21-23

Every Christian fights this war “within” — the war between our carnal nature and the Spirit of Christ. The battle continues until we enter heaven’s gates in ultimate triumph.

With all our hearts we desire to please and obey our Commanding Officer, Jesus. Yet our selfish nature demands its own way. At times, we boldly hold the winning line. While at other times, we succumb to old patterns!

“What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death! Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!”
Romans 7:27

Since Christ has already triumphed, He carries us through to victory. No matter how it appears at the moment, He will ultimately deliver us from this conflict between our sinful nature and the holy desire of the Spirit within us.

Every day is a time to war this strategic battle. Just as Jesus’ win became ours, our wins become the encouragement for others within the ranks.

A Time to War

Every campaign narrows down to the fight between good and evil, the Kingdom of God and the kingdom of darkness. Whether the battle openly shows up in our relationships or hides deep within our hearts, we must continue to fight, not in our own strength or through natural means, but through Jesus Christ.

For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds.”
2 Corinthians 10:3-4

The moment we pick up earthly weapons, we lose our grip on divinely powerful ones. God equips us with something far more than angry words, manipulative tactics, or military might. He gives each of His followers powerful spiritual weapons in our arsenal.

As we fight, staying in tune with the Spirit, both internal and external strongholds must crumble and fall. Ephesians 6:10-18 more clearly defines our weapons. They are worth repeating here:

Entire books have been written on the significance of our spiritual weaponry. When it is time to war, let us confront with truth, righteousness, peace, faith, salvation, and the Word of God — implementing each through fervent prayer.

Victory

Jesus engaged in the bloodiest altercation ever fought. He came forth victorious. Because He overcame, rising triumphant over the horrendous onslaught of satan, death and hell, we, too, face every adversary from victory’s side.

Today, we come to Him not for victory, but from victory!

Rise up, saint of God. You are mighty for the task! It is time for war!

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Easter — Why the Blood? Part 1— Surrender

Surrender

Easter, the greatest celebration of the Christian Church, correctly emphasises the resurrection. Though once dead, Jesus Christ lives! His resurrection signed the guarantee for each of us to now have the hope of eternal life.

Easter celebrates His life.

As we approach this Easter season, I again consider the significance of the shed blood of Jesus. Many believers today, hesitate to discuss this often-controversial subject. In so doing, we perhaps miss key truths and essential realities of our faith.

So pardon me while I briefly share a few thoughts. Each one only skims the surface, but hopefully it will help us to consider why the blood is so significant, both to us as individuals and also to the larger church “body.”

“For the life of the body is in the blood. I have given you the blood on the altar to purify you, making you right with the LORD. It is the blood, given in exchange for a life, that makes purification possible.”
Leviticus 17:11

Baby Bird

Surrender of Will

Redemption began, not on the cross, but in the Garden of Gethsemane. Jesus travailed in prayer, calling to His Father and seeking another, even easier, way to accomplish His mission.

“‘Abba, Father,’ he said, ‘everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.'”
Mark 14:36

Jesus knew every detail within the impending hours. Being fully God, Jesus was also fully man. As a man, He felt, as intensely as you or I, the sting of betrayal, the isolation of abandonment, and the pain of physical suffering. Yet in great angst, He surrendered His will.

Baby bunny

“And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.”
Luke 22:44

Our redemption began in the Garden. Because of the blood of Jesus, now our wills, too, may be fully surrendered to the authority of Lord.

Surrender of the Mind

“They stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him, and then twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on his head. They put a staff in his right hand. Then they knelt in front of him and mocked him. ‘Hail, king of the Jews!’ they said.”
Matthew 27:28-29

The full cruelty of these soldiers is difficult to imagine. They wove a crown of thorns, pressings it into Jesus’ head, piercing his flesh, and releasing a flow of blood. But as they mocked, Jesus won for us the victory over the devil’s influence over our thoughts, shattering the negative strongholds over our minds.

Baby Kitten

“The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”
2 Corinthians10:4-5

Why the blood? Easter reminds us that through the blood, Jesus gave us the ability to surrender our minds completely to the authority and truth of God.

Surrender of Pride

The soldier continued to vent their full aggression upon Jesus.

“Again and again they struck him on the head with a staff and spit on him.”
Mark 15:19

We scarcely want to believe the brutality Jesus experienced. They beat His face and head again and again with fists and rods. The prophet Isaiah spoke about the event hundreds of years prior,

“Just as there were many who were
appalled at him —
his appearance was so disfigured
beyond that of any human being
and his form marred beyond
human likeness —”
Isaian 52:14

Baby Chick

Why the blood? Jesus submitted to the soldiers beating as a symbol of surrendered pride and vanity. Through His blood, we now have the power to endure humiliation, reproach, and the loss of reputation. The blood of Jesus strengthens us to withstand persecution as His divine beauty shines through us.

Surrender of Position

Isaiah adds another detail to the soldier’s treatment of Jesus.

“I offered my back to those
who beat me,
my cheeks to those
who pulled out my beard;
I did not hide my face
from mocking and spitting.”
Isaiah 50:6

The beard represents priesthood, dignity, distinction, maturity, and position.

Baby Duckling

Why the blood? As the soldiers ripped the beard from Jesus’ face, His blood paved the way surrendering earthly position and prestige. Now, He brings us into a higher place of serving the Him as His priests.

” . . . To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood, and has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father — to him be glory and power for ever and ever! Amen.”
Revelation 1:5-6

Easter

We celebrate Easter, rejoicing in the resurrection of our Lord and Savior. No one and nothing could hinder Him from completing our redemption to the fullest. Through the power of His blood, we gain the victory to surrender our wills, minds, pride, and position to Him completely.

Why the blood? Through Jesus shed blood, we join Him in overcoming, conquering, and triumphing.

“They triumphed over him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death.”
Revelation 12:11

As we prepare for family gatherings and celebrate Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection, may we appreciate every way Jesus’ blood was shed.

“Thank You again, Jesus, for Your precious blood. Amen.”

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Winning and Losing — Gideon — A Great Warrior

A Great Warrior

When I look at Gideon, a great warrior in the Bible, I ask, “What constitutes great leadership? What propels a person beyond the normal? Why do some people fall from leadership, while others rise above?”

Did Gideon’s father and mother see greatness in their squirmy, newborn son when they chose his name. Gideon means great warrior, great destroyer, one who smites and cuts down, leaving only a stump. He entered the world while Deborah, another magnificent judge, led Israel to victory and renewed worship of God.

How quickly Israel forgot, abandoning their God for lesser things! So God, for a season, abandoned them to their enemies. Hordes of Midianites swarmed upon their land, completely decimating everything in their path.

“Because the power of Midian was so oppressive, the Israelites prepared shelters for themselves in mountain clefts, caves and strongholds.”
Judges 6:2

LIzard in Cave

While hiding like lizards in the caves, they cried out to God for help. God responded, sending a prophet to confront their idolatry and wickedness.

Every time someone spoke his name, Gideon was reminded of the greatness encrypted on His life. However, the evidence of such greatness hid as illusively as the people within the mountain caves.

Gideon’s Call

God often speaks suddenly when we least expect it.

“When the angel of the LORD appeared to Gideon, he said, ‘The LORD is with you, mighty warrior.'”
Judges 6:12

“Warrior!?” I can almost imagine Gideon looking around, sure that someone else was hiding with him in the winepress.

Though, God spoke truth about his identity and purpose, Gideon hesitated and resisted. He even quarreled with the LORD. “Look! God isn’t with us! He has absolutely abandoned us!”

Gideon saw only depressing and oppressive circumstances. God looked and saw Gideon, a great warrior. Gideon preferred to settle — to seek whatever shelter, safety, or comfort he could, hoping someone else, anyone else, would correct the situation.

Iguana

The LORD is With You

God listened to Gideon’s complaint for a while.

“The LORD answered, ‘I will be with you, and you will strike down all the Midianites, leaving none alive.”
Judges 6:16

“You, Gideon, a mighty warrior, arise! Strike down all your enemies.”

We may try to debate, hesitate, and procrastinate when God presses us into the impossible. Yet God invites us to situations where only He can see us through.

“The LORD turned to him and said, ‘Go in the strength you have and save Israel out of Midian’s hand. Am I not sending you?”
Judges 6:14

God doesn’t pump up Gideon’s ego or remind him of all the wonderful attributes he possesses. God points to Gideon’s inadequacy. The Hebrew word for “strength” used here has a double meaning. First, koah means power or strength, but it also refers a long, slender reptile considered unclean to Israel.

Lizard in Water

“But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things — and the things that are not — to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him.”
1 Corinthians 1:27-29

What made Gideon a great warrior wasn’t his name, his character, or his stature. God made Gideon a great warrior. May we always remember that it is only through Him and by Him we accomplish anything, big or small.

“I will be with you” should be the only God response we need! Godly leaders know it takes God’s strength to overcome “lizard” tendencies. He brings worth and value to everything He does and everyone He calls. He is enough!

The LORD is Peace

When Gideon acknowledges the littleness of himself and the power of God’s Presence, he swings into action.

“So Gideon built an altar to the LORD there and called it The LORD Is Peace . . .”
Judges 6:24

Worship shifts us from apathy and self-protection to God direction. The only peace any of us experience comes through following God whole-heartedly. In following Him, we fight. Most of us won’t face the battle Gideon faced, but we all have the same enemy, satan, who seeks to obliterate us, our families, and our nations.

Sleeping Chamelion

Every step we walk with God into the battle, He fills and surrounds us with His peace. Peace holds the implication of the permanence of wholeness, completeness, soundness, health, safety, and prosperity. But in moving toward peace, we must deal with our unclean, “lizard” nature that operates contrary to God.

Cut it Down

Gideon’s name comes from the Hebrew verb “gada,” also meaning to hew down or cut off, mostly of religious regalia and holy trees. Strikingly, there are no nouns formed from this verb, suggesting that whatever was cut off, was even cut off from speech itself. Gideon, a great warrior, must first become a hacker who hews down familiar idols!

“That same night the LORD said to him . . . ‘Tear down your father’s altar to Baal and cut down the Asherah pole beside it. Then build a proper kind of altar to the LORD your God on the top of this height . . .'”
Judges 6:25-26

“Cut it down, Gideon! Destroy all foreign worship that you, and your own father, and your own community depended on. Then build Me an altar,” God commands.

Despite fearing the outcome, Gideon obeyed. During the night, Gideon stepped into the beginning of his call. That very night, courage pushed through, little strength proved enough. In dark obscurity, the evidence of his greatness shone.

The Battle

“Now all the Midianites, Amalekites and other eastern peoples joined forces and crossed over the Jordan and camped in the Valley of Jezreel.”
Judges 6:33

The moment we choose to live for God, we can expect the enemy to push back and the battle to intensify. Godly leaders know when to fight. They refuse to back down.

Iguana - WIld

Gideon sounded the trumpet, calling his people to battle. God immediately thinned Gideon’s army of thousands to three hundred. He wanted everyone to know this was His victory, not man’s. What a victory it was! A hundred and twenty thousand enemy swordsmen fell that day. Only two kings, Zebah and Zalmunna, with fifteen thousand remained.

Gideon kept up the pressure.

“Zebah and Zalmunna, the two kings of Midian, fled, but he pursued them, routing their entire army.”
Judges 8:12

Finish Well

Gideon’s story didn’t exactly start well. It doesn’t end extremely well either. Gideon followed God after much deliberation and hesitation. He finished the same way.

God instructed Gideon. “I will be with you, and you will strike down all the Midianites, leaving none alive.”

Gideon almost finishes the task. His army annihilated the joint forces of the entire eastern army except for the remaining two kings — Zebah and Zalmunna.

“Turning to Jether, his oldest son, he said, ‘Kill them!’ But Jether did not draw his sword, because he was only a boy and was afraid.”
Judges 8:20

Lizards

Gideon passed the sword to his young son, expecting someone else to finish what he had both the power and authority to fulfill. Gideon started his journey by prodding God to choose someone else, anyone else. Now, at the end, he pulls back again. How tragic.

“Zebah and Zalmunna said, ‘Come, do it yourself. ‘As is the man, so is his strength.’ So Gideon stepped forward and killed them, and took the ornaments off the camels’ necks.”
Judges 8:21

Victorious Power

The word Gideon’s enemies used for “strength” refers to the LORD’s mighty hand that delivers His people.

“Now this I know that the LORD saves His anointed. He will answer him from his holy heaven with the saving strength of His right hand.”
Psalm 20:6 NKJV

Even before Gideon completed his mission, he became distracted by the gold ornaments around the camel’s necks. After asking each of his fighting men for a gold earring from their spoils, he created a new idol, an un-god, to worship, repeating the sins of his fathers and perpetuating it to his sons.

“Gideon made the gold into an ephod, which he placed in Ophrah, his town. All Israel prostituted themselves by worshiping it here, and it became a snare to Gideon and his family.”
Judges 8:27

Anger rises in me as I read these verses. Through God, Gideon broke the generational strongholds of idolatry his father committed. Through God, Gideon united Israel to fight and defeat enemy invaders. Gideon even destroyed the leaders who murdered his own brothers (Judges 8:19).

Warrior Lizard

Instead of returning to the altar he built and dedicated to the LORD, Gideon reached for the ornaments of gold. He turned back to his “lizard” ways, worshiping frozen gods made with human hands.

What if? What if Gideon would have walked with God in whole-hearted devotion rather than reluctant obedience. How different his story would end!

The End

We may draw many key principles from Gideon’s wins and losses.

God challenges me through Gideon’s failure in several ways:

  • Step into whatever open door God provides without excuses or hesitation.
  • Do not shun opportunities, ministries, or leadership roles that He opens.
  • Acknowledge and repent of my own “lizard” qualities of fear, insecurity, and misplaced dependence.
  • Keep my focus on Him, knowing He is the Source of all things good and great.
  • Never quit fighting this war between good and evil — whether before the battle, in the battle, or after the battle.
  • Pursue God with wholehearted devotion.
  • Do not depend on someone else to finish what God has called me start.
  • “Build a proper kind of altar to the LORD (my) God,” returning again, and again, to worship Him.

What about you? What challenges is God speaking to you through Gideon’s wins and losses?

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Where a River Flows — An Increase of Faith

Increase of Faith

The river of God’s divine mercy flows from the high mountains of struggle to the ocean of grace, producing an increase of faith. We find ourselves in such a time and place.

Many people today are experiencing the intense pressure and weariness of rock-hard impasses — immovable, constricting, and looming large. Take courage! God turns such gargantuan opposition to serve divine purposes. Because “faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God” (Romans 10:17), I’m switching up my normal pattern of writing this week to focus entirely on praying the truths of Scripture.

As you read these words, may you experience an increase of faith for whatever trial you are facing. Take heart! “What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us(Romans 8:31)? “Ah, Sovereign LORD, you have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and outstretched arm. Nothing is too hard for you” (Jeremiah 32:17).

Fast flowing water

The following prayer originates and finds root in direct Bible verses. As you pray, release God’s power and authority over yourself and your situation.

God of The Impossible

“God, we approach Your throne of grace with confidence (with outspoken frankness, bluntness and assurance), yet also in humility, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need (Hebrews 4:16) . . . We are facing what appears impossible for us, but God, with You all things are possible (Matthew 19:26) . . . Jesus, You declared that ‘Everything is possible for (those) who believe’ ” (Mark 9:23).

“Without faith it is impossible to please You, Lord, because anyone who comes to You must believe that You exist and that You reward those who earnestly seek You” (Hebrews 11:6) . . . We believe! We know and proclaim You to be loving and infinitely good. You reward all who choose to seek Your face.

Rushing Water

“Just as Paul spoke of the believers in Rome, may it be said of us. May our faith remain unwavering during this season of pressure, believing Your promises, being strengthened in our faith, and giving constant glory and praise to You, O God. May we be persuaded that You have the power to fulfill everything You promised” (Romans 4:20-21) . . . For no word from You will ever fail! . . .

“God, grant us an increase of faith . . .

Walking by Faith

“We do not belong to those who shrink back, but we move forward courageously in faith. You deliver us from every assault of the enemy (Hebrews 10:39) . . . By your grace, we live by faith, not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7) . . .

“We choose today to pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness (1 Timothy 6:11) . . . May our lives produce lasting work produced by faith, labor prompted by love, and endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ (1 Thessalonians 1:3) . . .

The testing of our faith produces perseverance. When perseverance finishes its work, we become mature and complete, lacking nothing (James 1:3-4) . . . Lord, may we consider ourselves crucified with Christ, no longer living for ourselves, but recognizing that Christ lives in us. The life we now live, we live by faith in the Son of God, who loves us and gave Himself for us (Galatians 2:20) . . .

Rapids

“Lord, in every action, word and deed, may we not be ashamed of the Gospel. It is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes . . . For in the Gospel the righteousness of God is revealed — a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: ‘The righteous will live by faith’ ” (Romans 1:16-17; Habakkuk 2:4) . . .

“You have already given to each one of us a measure of faith (Romans 12:3). Lord, we ask for an increase of faith in each one of our hearts . . .

Warrior Faith

We take up the shield of faith, extinguishing all the flaming arrows of the evil one (Ephesians 6:16) . . . Everyone born of God overcomes the world. We are Yours! You have named and declared us to be overcomers! . . . This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith” (1John 5:4) . . .

“Thank you, Lord, for the great confidence we have before You. This confidence rests completely in who You are and all You have accomplished . . . ‘Therefore since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ’ ” (Romans 5:1) . . .

“The time is now! Warriors of faith, strap on the weapons of our warfare and take a stand against sickness and disease . . . Heal us, LORD, and we will healed; save us and we will be saved, for You are the one we praise (Jeremiah 17:14). You are the Lord who heals us (Exodus 15:26) . . . Breathe new life into us . . . Pour your soothing oil into the broken-hearted . . .

Prayer of Faith

“Lord, You invite us to ask big, to believe large, and to come expecting the impossible, so increase our faith . . . You said, ‘if we say to the mountainous obstacle, “Go, throw yourself into the sea,” and do not doubt in our hearts but believe that what we say will happen, it will be done for us. Therefore . . . whatever we ask for in prayer, we believe that we will receive it, and it will be ours!’ ” (Mark 11:22-24) . . .

Mountain, Rock, River

“So, we come today laying our petitions before You. We speak to our impossibles in Your precious Name, ‘Be moved!‘ . . . “Give us grace and courage to stand firm in the faith, to be courageous and strong (1 Corinthians 16:13) . . .

“Do it again, Lord! The things we read about in the Book of Acts we ask You to do again. We ask for an advancement of Your Kingdom in our day and in our time. We ask for multitudes to be drawn into Your family. Lord, raise up a generation of men and women, young and old, with an ever-increasing faith. May they pray confidently and humbly, desiring nothing more than to see Your Name glorified and You exalted in our time . . . May they live fearlessly for Your honor . . .

“Encourage the weary ones. Restore the wounded. Revive the frail. Oh God, come to our aid, we pray. You are our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble” (Psalm 46:1).

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Frame Each Day by the Cross and the Resurrection

Frame Each Day by the Cross and the Resurrection

What frames your life? What parameters establish your direction and influence your choices? As we choose to frame our lives by the cross and resurrection of Jesus Christ, His death, burial, and life direct our steps, giving us context and foundation. Rather than an annual weekend celebration, the reality of Easter should color our entire lives with hope and assurance.

Who is the first person you desire to talk with every morning? The first One on your mind? Is it God? Or do we, like many others, scroll through social media and check emails before we give Him thought or place. That first conversation, no matter how simple, acknowledges God’s place and active participation in all we are and do.

The daily spiritual disciplines of prayer, Bible reading and meditation, connection with other believers, and even communion, ground us in Christ’s finished work of the cross. For good reason, the first Christians established these basic tenants of faith early in church’s history.

“They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer . . . Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts.”
Acts 2:42-46

The breaking of bread became a tangible reminder of the New Covenant they now enjoyed. Many of these men and women became amazing giants of faith. If they framed “every day” by the cross and resurrection of Jesus Christ, should it be any less important for us?

Boast in Him

On the cross, Jesus declared each one of us precious enough to die for. Yet without Him, we have nothing to boast about. ALL honor, glory, power, and praise belong to Him. Only in humility are we rightly positioned before Him. And well it should be! All our boasting points completely toward Jesus.

The Cross

Paul wrote to the Corinthians,

“Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; (and) not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things — and the things that are not — to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him. It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. Therefore, as it is written: ‘Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.’ ”
1 Corinthians 1:26-30

Paul closes his letter to the Galatian church in a similar manner.

“May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.
Galatians 6:14

We find an inexplicable paradox in the cross. Jesus Christ is everything; we are nothing. Yet, He became nothing, to give us everything. Such realization grounds and secures us. The cross and resurrection deems humanity of unspeakable value, despite personal frailty and failure.

The Cross and Resurrection

By daily celebrating Easter’s reality, we remember the cross and resurrection, allowing God to remind us both where we came from and where we are going — from the dead root to living hope. May we never forget how Christ’s death and resurrection rescued us from hopelessness and brought us into a confident future. Jesus removed our sins from us, cancelling our great debt and bridging the gap between God and humanity. His resurrection thunder-clapped through Heaven and Earth His indisputable victory over sin, satan, and death.

By framing each day by the cross and resurrection, we remind ourselves that our lives are not our own. Jesus purchased us at a costly price. God uses these defining events to remind us that to follow Jesus means choosing the way of sacrifice.

Good Friday

“And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.”
Luke 14:27

We are forgetful and need a constant reminder of all God has done. The Israelites suffered from the same condition. The early Christians did too. Just because Christ suffered for us doesn’t mean all suffering has ended. Jesus and the other writers of the epistles spoke otherwise.

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
John 16:33

So, whether our days turn out supremely joyous or far from it, when we frame each day by the cross and resurrection, everything assumes proper perspective. Christ’s victory over-shadows everything! Today is but a millisecond in the vast timeline of eternity.

Victory

When a sports team wins a championship, a grand celebration often follows. The triumphant team hits the major news feeds. Families celebrate! Communities celebrate! Strangers even celebrate! Why? Everyone loves to see a decisive victory.

Resurrection

By framing each day by the cross and resurrection, we join once again in the celebration of the greatest victory ever.

” When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away nailing it to the cross. And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.”
Colossians 2:15

Jesus hung naked, publicly degraded, and humiliated. But then . . . through His sinless sacrifice, He disarmed every evil power and authority, exposing them before Heaven and Earth to humiliation and shame. The enemy’s signature move became his greatest defeat.

“The resurrection is not the reversal of a defeat but the manifestation of the victory Jesus won on the cross for you and me.”
Nicky Gumbel

The cross and resurrection declare God’s glory, power, and dominion. Jesus transferred His victory to become our victory. And every victory we experience is His — through Him, for Him, and by Him.

It is Finished!

Perhaps Jesus’ greatest statement from the cross lay in these few words,

“So when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, ‘It is finished!’ And bowing His head, He gave up His Spirit.”
John 19:30

It is Finished

Our limited understanding hinders us from comprehending how completely Jesus accomplished every assignment the Father had given Him. Everything that sin and rebellion stole, Jesus bought back. All Jesus needed to do was die — the Sinless for the guilty, the Prince of Peace for the turbulent, and the Obedient for the disobedient. He went far beyond!

” ‘He himself bore our sins‘ in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; ‘by his wounds you have been healed.’ “
1 Peter 2:24

The cross declares again and again, “It is finished! Stain of sin go! Incurable wound be healed! Broken in mind and spirit be restored! Sickness and disease bow! Captives, be free!” Though circumstances may try to convince us otherwise, the cross and resurrection declare the work is finished — for good, for ever.

So Much More

This is no legal requirement! Framing every day by the cross and resurrection celebrates how God empowers us to walk with strength not our own, with faith He freely gives, with courage amidst our battles, and with grace piled upon grace.

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ From the dead.”
1 Peter 1:3

The cross and resurrection stand as a framework to all generations and peoples. They bring every aspect of life and faith into focus. Jesus transferred to all who would believe “new birth into a living hope.”

Lily

Does living hope define us? When others look our way, do they see the vibrancy of Christ’s life in and through us — both the death to the old and alive to the new? As we consistently celebrate and frame our lives by the cross and resurrection, I believe they will.

Jesus – It is Finished! Bringing Justice Through to Victory

Jesus – It is Finished! Bringing Justice Through to Victory

The joyous declaration at Christ’s birth proclaimed love, peace, and joy. It was the magnificent prelude to a mighty shout, “Justice has been brought through to victory. It is finished!” Or is it?

Lately instead of echoing It is finished!“, I have been asking “Is it finished?”

“Where is the victory?
Where can justice be found?”

Both triumph and struggle mark my daily reality. The battle within and around me is often intense. I see defeat in lives around me. I hear pain in weighted voices while mock smiles camouflage hurting hearts.

Matthew echoes Isaiah’s prophecy of Jesus,

“I will put my Spirit on him,
and he will proclaim justice to the nations.”
Matthew 12:18

Through His life and death, Jesus completed this and over 300 other prophecies.”…the odds of anyone fulfilling this amount of prophecy are staggering. Mathematicians put it this way: 1 person fulfilling 8 prophecies = 1 in 100,000,000,000,000,000; 1 person fulfilling 48 prophecies = 1 chance in 10 to the 157th power; 1 person fulfilling 300+ prophecies = Only Jesus!”

In His own words, Jesus says,

“Don’t misunderstand why I have come.
I did not come to abolish the law of Moses
or the writings of the prophets.
No, I came to accomplish their purpose.”
Matthew 5:17

Justice

The World

The original quote in Isaiah puts it this way,

“A bruised reed he will not break
and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out.
In faithfulness he will bring forth justice,
he will not falter or be discouraged
till he establishes justice on earth.”
Isaiah 42:3,4

Without question, Jesus has the power and ability to use force to break the bruised or snuff out those whose passion has grown cold. Yet, “he will not”! Three times Isaiah declares this truth, “he will not!” 

If Jesus came as a baby over two thousand years ago to “establish justice on the earth”, I’m sorry, but it is hard to see! The rich become richer and the poor poorer. Horrific levels of injustice and discrimination flourish unchecked in nation after nation. In cultures void of God consciousness or respect for life, justice appears absent.

Mercy

Regardless of what I witness around me, Jesus completely fulfilled the mandate of establishing justice on earth.

Finished

Connie Inglis, an Inscribe writer, reminded me of another three-point emphasis. The Greek root word telos is used, not just once, but three times in reference to Jesus’ death on the cross.

“Later, knowing that
all was now completed (teleō),
and so that the Scripture
would be fulfilled (teleioō),
Jesus said, ‘I am thirsty’ …
When he had received the drink,
Jesus said, ‘It is finished (teleō).’
With that, he bowed his head
and gave up his spirit.”
John 19:28, 30
Powerful words! Completed! Fulfilled! Finished! When the writers of Scripture stated something three times, they were giving it the strongest possible emphasis. Like a holy shout, they were ensuring we wouldn’t miss the point.
It is finished!
“When you were dead in your sins
and in the uncircumcision of your flesh,
God made you alive with Christ.”
Colossians 2:13-15
Alive
Since the fall of Adam, sin holds all mankind in the legal grip of death. Through Christ alone, the dead receive life! It is finished!
“He forgave us all our sins,
having cancelled the charge
of our legal indebtedness,
which stood against us and condemned us’
he has taken it away,
nailing it to the cross.”
Colossians 2:14
All righteousness has been fulfilled! Jesus paid the price for our freedom, not just from sin, but from the resulting guilt and shame. The cross is more than enough. Salvation is complete in Him!
“And having disarmed
the powers and authorities,
he made a public spectacle of them,
triumphing over them by the cross.”
Colossians 2:15
What was the final act of justice? While Satan powerfully bruised Jesus’ heal, Jesus crushed his head inflicting a fatal blow. Through the cross, Jesus executed judgment on our enemy creating a path for complete restoration for each of us.

Follow Through

“It is finished!” Everything Jesus came to do, he accomplished!

Now it is our turn! God desires justice, fully and freely blended with mercy, to influence every person and invade every area of our planet. Today! Here! Now!

“This is what the LORD Almighty said:
Administer true justice, show mercy
and compassion to one another.”
Zechariah 7:9

Poverty

Mercy, (Hebrew – hesed) refers to active care. It is loving kindness and compassion demonstrated. Justice (Hebrew – tsadaq) refers more to fair treatment and equity. Mercy and justice partner together, like the left and right hand working in unison.

Brad Jersak explains it like this:

“Mercy is like the ambulance at the bottom of a cliff,
ready to help those who fall off.
Justice builds a fence at the top of the cliff
to protect them from falling in the first place.
Mercy wipes the tears from the eyes.
Justice asks, “Why are you crying?”
Mercy welcomes the hungry
to gather around God’s banqueting table.
Justice addresses why
some are under the table aching of hunger…
Mercy seeks and saves those lost in darkness.
Justice asks, “Why is it dark? Who is keeping it dark?”

Continuous Completion

In the Greek, the verb choice for “finished” is in perfect tense. It is a past action but the effect of it continues into the present. Whenever the broken are made whole, the lost welcomed home, the sick healed, relationships restored, tormented minds find peace, “it is finished” again, and again, and yet again… The past action of Christ’s finished work continues unending!

For unto us a child is born!

This past year alone I witnessed the continuing triumph through Christ at work as

people discovered personal relationship with Jesus,
many set free from destructive
or addictive behaviours,
traumas erased, lies exposed and minds set at peace,
medically confirmed miracles occurred:
brain lesions from Multiple Sclerosis disappeared;
“frozen shoulder” instantly healed;
unborn baby without a heartbeat born healthy;
those unable to conceive conceiving;
cancer disappearing;
and so much more!

When we welcome Jesus into a situation, He comes in triumph! The answers don’t always look like we hope or expect, but Christ is the answer for every hopeless situation.

Victory Triumphs

Jesus carried “justice through to victory.”  His work is complete, fulfilled and finished! Our work, through the Holy Spirit, as we follow in His footsteps, continues! Finished but ongoing!

“…And this is the secret:
Christ lives in you.
This gives you assurance of sharing his glory.”
Colossians 1:27

In His footsteps!

A call resounds for the church to rise. As she awakens from her slumber embracing the mandate of mercy and justice, we will witness on earth the impact of what legally has been completely in the heavenly realm. Oh, that Christ would receive the glory for everything He accomplished at the cross.

“He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.
And what does the LORD require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
and to walk humbly with your God.”
Micah 6:8

Celebration of advent, the arrival of the long-awaited Messiah, closed the year! Yet, Jesus’ coming announced the dawn of a new era, bringing justice and hope for all. His life and death shakes the earth, even now, with divine authority setting this upside down world right side up.

Is it finished? Yes! It is finished!

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