I have a beautiful cross that I never take off. It is my constant reminder of everything Jesus has done in my life.
It is also a slap in the devil’s face.
Think about it. The cross was the most ghastly, abhorrent, abominable thing imaginable. If you were hung on a cross, you were a despicable human being worthy of the greatest contempt.
Cross = BAD
Now we see the cross as a beautiful thing. Even many who don’t believe in the saving work of Jesus Christ often wear it as decoration because it is beautiful. Imagine what a headache that constant reminder must give the devil.
But this is exactly what Jesus does. While He lived, He specialized in making bad things beautiful. Whether He was healing lepers, delivering a woman from being stoned, returning dead children to their parents…
And He does the same today. It makes no difference to Him that you’ve been bad. He doesn’t care what you’ve done. He cares about you letting Him do what only He can do – turning your life from bad to beautiful.
Imagine sitting down in Heaven between God and Jesus. I did; it happened in a vision a few months ago. I was at a worship service with a group of women, loving on Him, when God told me to sit down.
God opened my spiritual eyes, and it truly was as if I were sitting down between Him and Jesus. It would sound sacrilegious to say it if it weren’t for Ephesians 2:6, but I assure you it happened; and as we sat there God had me look out in front of us. When I did, I saw an enormous gathering of people worshiping Him. There seemed no end to the crowd.
I asked Him, “Who are these people?” and He answered, “This is everyone who is worshipping Me right now.” What God showed me in that vision is that when we truly worship Him, whether it be in a church service, an official worship service, or in our own prayer closets or kitchens, we enter directly into the throne room of God. I’ve read about it, and I know the scriptures that talk about coming boldly before the throne of grace, but still… the whole idea floors me!
Not only that, but when we do this, when we bring wholehearted worship to the King, we come into unity with untold numbers of other people. We know that where there is unity a blessing is commanded, and this means that even if you are alone in your bedroom while you are worshiping God you are in unity with every other worshiper in that moment – and a blessing is commanded in that unity.
In 1 Chronicles 6 we are reminded of the tribes Gershon, Kohath, and Merari. They were responsible for carrying the various parts of the Tabernacle from place to place.
Then Solomon built the Temple. So was God done with them, these faithful men who had carried the house of God through the desert and into Canaan? No. Absolutely not.
The change began in 1 Chronicles 6:31 when David assigned men from these three tribes to lead the music at the Tabernacle. Far from being finished with them, God was drawing them closer to Him and truly giving them even more responsibility-that of leading worshippers into His presence.
We could learn from these tribes. Sometimes we go through seasons when we think God is done with us, that there is nothing left in us that He can use. When we think that, we’re wrong.
Farmers today, when they’re ready to plant, either place an order online or dash down to the store, but it wasn’t always that way.
In previous generations, a man bought seed to plant if he had to, but most farmers kept back seed from their own harvests and held it for the next season’s crops. This is where the phrase “Don’t eat your seed” comes from. If you ate your seed wheat, you had nothing to plant when the time came.
In a beautiful cycle of sowing and reaping, it was the harvest that provided the seed.
This law of sowing and reaping still works today. Give (plant seed), get a harvest, give (after returning the tithe of course), receive another harvest, give…
I’ve seen this process so much in my life, but especially in our church’s annual auction. This auction helps fund a variety of missions, outreaches, and assistance projects, and it holds my heart. That first year I had little I could give, but I gave it, and every year since God has enabled me to give even more, to raise even more funds.
Spiritually speaking, my harvest from the seed I sow one year provides seed for me to sow the following year. It’s a miraculous and beautiful thing, and I celebrate it just as joyously as any farmer celebrates successfully getting his fields planted and harvested on time.
“The veil.” It wasn’t a simple thing like the sheer piece of fabric worn by a bride. This 60’ high, 4” thick curtain was massive, heavy, and effective. It separated man from God and God from man in a visible way just as completely as sin separated them spiritually. Yet it was torn, split down the middle when Jesus completed His work on the cross.
Only God could have torn it, and He did. In that action, He returned to us the right to enter into His presence. He began the process of drawing us ever closer to Him. It’s what He wants, what He wanted in the garden.
And then what happened? Man started trying to repair that veil. Think about how much work would have gone into repairing a FOUR INCH THICK piece of fabric.
But man is still trying to “repair” that veil today, drawing together threads made of rules, regulations, traditions, and even fears designed to separate man from God just as surely as the Temple veil separated them that morning before Jesus shouted, “It is finished!”
Have you ever really thought about Jesus, specifically about His emotional state, in Matthew 14:13-21?
He’d just learned that John the Baptist, His relative, the first one to recognize Jesus (in his mother’s womb), the one who prepared the way for Him, the one who baptized Him and announced to the people that He was The One they’d been waiting for, had been murdered, beheaded. Jesus was divine, but He was also human, and His human heart had to be torn.
So He set out to go to the desert to be alone. To mourn, perhaps? To talk to His heavenly Father about it? Who knows? But the very fact that He went shows that He had a need. However…
The people followed Him, and He chose their needs over His own. Honestly, He had every right to take some time off, to receive comfort for a while. But that’s not what happened.
If you’re not familiar with Gary Chapman’s book, The 5 Love Languages, I encourage you to pick it up. It explains the five primary ways in which we show love to others (and, consequently, expect/need them to show love to us). It is a powerful tool in helping us learn to relate to and even minister to others.
A project at work (I’m a church secretary) has had me looking at the love languages again. I’ve known what my love language is for years, but have just had a revelation about it that rocked my world.
In my relationships with others, all others, I can look at my instinctive interactions with them in respect to my love language and get a very clear picture of how much I love them.
It sounds simple, doesn’t it? But it’s been humbling. In less than 24 hours I’ve faced some pretty hard truths as I’ve realized there are certain groups of people around whom my love language shows up regularly, and a few others (with whom I’m very close) around whom I exhibit more selfishness than love.
So the revelation is this: My love language can act as a love thermometer. As I walk in love with others, I instinctively offer love in my own language. If I know their love language, I may intentionally offer love in theirs too, but mine will still be evident. If I don’t offer that love, I don’t love enough.
And THAT shows me where I have work to do in my own heart.
It would be awesome if I could come up with something wise and wondrous to say about the new year and new decade.
In the past 24 hours I’ve spent quite a bit of time praying for multiple people who were in absolutely crazy and even dangerous situations. One of them even commented that it was as if 2020 decided to go out as insanely as it’s been.
No, I don’t expect things to change dramatically overnight, though I do look forward to the new. I’m just glad. I’m glad I’ve grown this year, instead of the opposite. I’m glad I’ve learned this year, instead of stagnating. I’m glad I’ve loved people this year, instead of…yeah.
I’m particularly glad that my God has been with me every step of the way, because He never leaves me or forsakes me. At one point this year, when I was having a rough moment, He said, “You never walk alone.”
That’s the answer, and I thank Him for it. Whatever comes in 2021, whether it’s as crazy as 2020 has been or is truly a whole new era, I’ll be ok because He is with me.