This morning we heard a word about an enemy who has a plan to engage us in a battle. It’s a battle of entanglement to dishearten us from our weapons and the authority that is ours. However, we heard a word about God as our maintainer and our provider. He does not deal in confusion, but in the position of truth. His provision comes as the living word of truth which he watches over to perform wonders. We heard a word that says God is all sufficient and he works at the place of our surrender. We heard a word that says our God in Christ left us a pattern that we should follow, so that at the pattern of the cross we posture ourselves for success not failure. It is a posture of humility by which he will perform wonders before our very eyes. Today he would say, do not be afraid, and do not listen to the voice of the adversary who would discourage your Faith in Christ alone! When you speak those words “In Christ Alone” you make a bold declaration of surrender about who you’re going to trust. By assuming this posture, you will be speaking forth a prayer of great release. Today, let him release you from the fear, let him release you from the things that keep you from realizing what only He is able to produce! I was impressed this week with something someone had given me to read. It revealed a long forgotten story of a man in New York City, who in 1857 called a meeting to gather people with him to pray. In that prayer meeting only six people showed up. Rather than be discouraged by what may have seemed to some as a failed attempt, they would continue to meet weekly for the purpose of prayer. It would be that within the next year, the Spirit of God would move on upwards of 10,000 people to meet daily in churches all over the city to pray. As a result of a little prayer meeting, it is estimated that 1 million people came to faith in Christ during the course of the next year. There are greater things to be had when we pray in agreement with the Spirit of God. Today, find the authority that belongs to you in Christ and never underestimate the power when His saints pray in faith.
“Are you saved?” I can remember as child a Baptist preacher saying every week without fail the words; ‘Are You saved?’ I believe those 3 words are possibly Baptist’s greatest contribution to the faith. You may know a lot about Him, but do you know Him? If there is no grieving or sorrow over your sinful condition…no witness of the Spirit, then you don’t know Him. For Jesus to truly save you, you must believe you are drowning and in need of saving—otherwise the broken cry for a savior is not heard and He cannot save. It is a matter of need…do you need Him? Do you see your very real need of His love and forgiveness? Or, do you see yourself ‘pretty good’– never considering that one sin…it’s rebellion like witchcraft that has you under a spell of deception never considering yourself that bad; it is your only weak link, but it is powerful enough to destroy your whole life with that one unredeemed failure. I see God is not mocked and sin must be atoned for. What are you doing and where are you taking your sin for atonement? Because what He takes, He covers–what He covers, He redeems, what He redeems He changes, and what He changes He keeps for Himself with a movement of the Spirit that directs my steps to increase as His disciple and witness. So, I ask you again, “Are You Saved…Are You Really Saved?”
In Matthew 14:26, the Disciples were afraid they’d seen a ghost when Jesus comes walking on the water. Outside the confines of that boat there is a very important principle to be understood. There was no ghost, no apparition, it was the Master of the sea who knows how to calm storm driven waters for those who follow Him. In times of trouble our eyes play tricks on us and make us vulnerable to attack. In God’s economy, the life that lives outside the boat represents the place of greatest safety. In financial terms it would be the place of greatest return. With Jesus, in that moment of trouble, the resources of God’s power are only fully available outside the boat. The disciples were caught up with their fear amid the storm waters, but stand as testimony to the fear that would hinder us walking with Jesus because of unbelief. Peter’s request to leave the boat was a wise and proper one, and so Jesus said come. Jesus treads on the water of our troubles and calls us out by name saying, ‘come beyond your belief to the place of real faith that refuses to see ghosts, or to find comfort in the seat of fear’. You and I daily have the choice to rise up with Jesus or be left to the counsel of our own fears. The boat is a picture of a false hope which cannot deliver and its fearful contents can never produce faith. No, faith comes only to those who see Jesus as the ‘only way out’ with their cries being met by His voice. The word I read says, ‘God makes a way where none existed and He speaks to say, do not fear, believe God, also believe and trust Me, for My words are life, they are true, clear and enlightening, and they are powerfully charged to liberate and navigate your troubled waters. Stop seeing ghosts and start looking and living for Me!’
O God, listen to my cry! Hear my prayer!
From the ends of the earth,I cry to you for help when my heart is overwhelmed. Lead me to the towering rock of safety,
for you are my safe refuge,a fortress where my enemies cannot reach me.
Let me live forever in your sanctuary,safe beneath the shelter of your wings!
…In the place of overwhelming difficulty We have this word as an anchor to remind us we can be lead to a place the enemy cannot reach! Our cries are the place of heavenly access… We like David, may feel a long way off from that safety, but it’s placed within our reach when we pray!
Something made me think of my Grandmother the other day; she would often call and say, ‘I don’t know nothing….I just called to find out how you were doing’. She was a busy woman, probably too busy, but I was amazed that she could find the time to do the things she did. “I don’t know nothing” may not be good english, but it made me think about her and the love she had for me. It makes me lovingly think of others I care about and how I should find the time to reach them. The truth is, I don’t have much to offer and I really don’t know much… but, for the grace of God I am nothing and I have nothing. While in that momentary thought of, ‘what little I could offer anyone’, I found myself praying; God save my children, save my family, God save me, and Lord save others through my life…oh, how I need Your power.’ Your life is a powerful thing, a tool created really for only for one purpose and that’s to be used by the power of God to influence others for His cause. Your life is to become a living testimony made by what only the Holy Spirit can reflect upon you, so others could be saved. I love the place where Jesus says, ‘Come to Me all you who are weak and heavy laden, and I will give you rest….’ The word says, Jesus lives at the right hand of God (Mk16:19). Residing in power, He lives to make intercession for us’ (Heb7:25). He lives to call us to rest ourselves in His finished work and be connected to His life and power by the Holy Spirit whom He sent as our Helper and His agent of extra-ordinary benefits. He lives to bring you into a restful place to stop thinking there’s anything you could do for Him. He lives so you might realize it’s in only what He can do for you– to reflect His life by powerful changes in your character and demeanor. The Spirit of God moves in the place of prayer connecting us to the will and intention of His heart. While men search for the perfect; the perfect life, a perfect home, the perfect love, it can only be found in the perfect heart of God, known only by time in the presence of His own dear Son. E.M. Bounds one said, “Prayer is far reaching in its influence and worldwide in its effects. It affects all men, affects them everywhere, and affects them in all things. It touches man’s interest in time and eternity. It lays hold upon God and moves him to interfere in the affairs of earth. It moves the angels to minister to men in this life. It restrains and defeats the devil and his schemes to ruin man. Prayer goes everywhere and lays its hand upon everything.” It’s prayer that makes us behold Him who is perfect, so we should reflect His glory. The enemy would have you weak and giving up over the things you see, but Jesus would have you pray and He says, ‘come to Me!’
I sometime get that sense of God’s purpose for humanity and truly experience a desire to be used to reach others for His kingdom. In the middle of one of those thoughts, God brought a revelation to me; ‘you have abilities, or you think you do, but it’s not your abilities I need; it’s not your charm or charisma, not your personality or persona, no matter if you think it’s strong or weak. No, reaching men has nothing to do with your good intentions, or even what you think! Remember, ‘I told you to come to the cross and surrender your thoughts, intentions, and abilities or lack of them. I told you to in My word to reckon ‘yourself’ to be dead, so I could live because this world doesn’t need to know who you think your are, it needs to know Me and who I Am! So surrender your thoughts to Me! As long as you live ‘your life’, you cannot reproduce Mine! The Apostle Paul said, ‘I have been crucified with Christ and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me….’ He further says, ‘whatever things were gain to me, I counted as loss that I could know Him and the power of His resurrection life!’ God says, ‘live My life and others will see Me through your surrender. They will see a brokenness that is evidence you serve me and not yourself, and you will prove to be my disciple whose actions reach many because of who I Am!’
Jesus is in the making and what it takes to make disciples of men by way of His cross. I recently saw some youth bound in hand with their bibles in a local coffee shop, and it blessed me. We live in an age where many are seeking for a real expression to relate to this Jesus and His Lordship in their lives. It is a great thing we would aspire to do. It is however, important to remember in this new age where the music seems to lead the discourse, it has always been about the word of the Living God. Here is a thought to add to this modern age perception of all things as Christian. Jesus is not in the hairdo, or in sporting the new tattoo; He is not in the anti-establishment, or in being different for different sake; He is not in strange for strange sake. He is making His mark on men as aliens and strangers because they find a place for humility and brokenness because they are working out their common salvation through the living breathing Word of God. The music, and I love music, should lead me to brokenness, thanksgiving and praise as I walk as His disciple enslaved to nothing in this world, it’s thinking or culture. The music alone will not produce disciples, only a relationship with the Living Word can do that. Is the word you are hearing making you more like Jesus, or are you being defined by the pop-culture you are living in? His cross is not a new concept, but a clear command of the word; it is timeless rugged thing that leaves one strangely following the movement of the Holy Spirit keeping in step as His disciple, shedding the mantle of worldly influences to be uniquely His–He was pierced for a different cause and that will likely leave you more persecuted than popular because the way of the cross will always be the defining mark of real Christianity.