Category: Jesus

Vineyard Worship: SURE

One thing that has kept me going recently is the reality that “God will not give up on me!” That He was, is and always will be faithful until the very end. I don’t know about you but when I am in a challenging season, I need to many reminders because the negative and discouraging thoughts just keep coming. But, God is faithful and He will often bring a song in season that speaks out the cry of my heart and encourages me in what I need to be reminded of in terms of God’s character.

Sure as my life is in Your hands. Sure as Your sacrifice has set me free. When all is shaking, Lord Your love stands firm. Your spirit calms my heart and steadies me. (x2)

You’re the anchor that’s holding me.

I’m sure of Your faithfulness. I’m sure that You will never change. My Lord, You won’t give up on me. (x2)

Matthew 28:20b (NIV) “And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age!”

Hebrews 13:8 (NLT) “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.”


One Thirst: Jeremy Riddle & Steffany Frizzell

What is it that you thirst for?

You say to us, seek Your Face
Our hearts reply, Your Face we seek

Come teach us Lord, reveal Your ways,
Anoint us for, the greater things

(Chorus)
We have gathered with one thirst and hunger
Here to drink of glory and wonder
Here to cry out, Come and fill this place!
Come and fill this place

Our single wish, our sole desire
To gaze upon, Your beauty God
We will not rest, nor will we cease
Till with our eyes, Your face we see

(Bridge)
We wait for you to come and show
Your glory here today

(Tag)
We wait for you…
Hallelujah, Come (repeat)

Lyrics: (Jeremy Riddle, © BETHEL MUSIC)


i want to know You (Jesus Culture)

Addiction is sin, make no mistake. When a person is caught in the snare of addiction, what has happened is that they have over time repeatedly placed first, above all else, whatever they are addicted to and have come to depend on this substance (both tangible or intangible) over and above everything else in their life (a place in which only God deserves to be). This is why addicted people will endure through so much for their addiction. They’ve made an idol of their addiction, choosing to bow down in worship to their addiction as they give themselves over to their addiction again and again. Escaping (getting high) has become the ultimate goal of their life. I believe James has it right when he says, “Temptation comes from our own desires, which entice us and drag us away. These desires give birth to sinful actions. And when sin is allowed to grow, it gives birth to death” (James 1:14-15 NLT). If and when addiction is left unattended and left to grow without restraint death becomes the only option. But, this is not where the story ends. There is Good News. Jesus Himself says, “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed” (John 8:36 NIV). Wow! What amazing words. To know Jesus means to be set free by Him from the bondage of sin, to be set from from our addictions. But, in order to be set free by Jesus a person needs to know Him. So, what does it mean to know Jesus?

I don’t believe a person, who has a casual relationship with Jesus can say that they know Him. They may know of Him, but to truly be able to say that you know Jesus is to know Him as the Son of God. In order to truly know Jesus, a person needs to understand their deep need for Him. I was talking with a person the other day and while I was talking with him, I heard the Holy Spirit say to my spirit, “he (the person I was talking with) doesn’t see a need for Jesus in his life right now.” I believe this is right. Unless a person sees a need to invite Jesus into their life, then why would they bother pursuing to know Him. And if they did pursue Him, I believe the relationship would be a superficial one at best because anyone can know Jesus as a good person or even a prophet of sorts, but to know Him as the Son of God demands faith. And unless a person is willing to put their faith in Jesus as the Son of God, then He will always be just another person like you and me. But, to know Jesus and to place your faith in Him as the Son of God means to also know Him as Savior, Lover, Redeemer and Friend. And if you know Him like this you will love Him and be drawn into worship to Him because you will have realized that it is only through His sacrifice on a cross for the sins of the world (including yours) that you have peace with God, with people and within yourself. And it is when we are worshiping Jesus that we are propelled into a deep abiding intimacy with Him. This is what it means to know Jesus and be set free by Him.


the Ways of God

Over this past week, I’ve been reading through the book of Jeremiah (I spent last month in Isaiah) and what the Holy Spirit has been showing me while I’ve been reading is this: “God’s love is always guided by His truth and His truth is always fueled by His love which constitutes God’s ways.” Now, I know that this is a bit simplistic (I mean there’s also grace, mercy, justice, goodness, etc. all of which are also of God and important), but sometimes I feel like we complicate things. For me, when things happen in my life that I don’t understand, it helps to remind myself that God is love and that He is truth (I would also add that He is good). And though I may not understand why this or that is happening in my life or in the lives of the people around me or the things happening in the world I can trust that God knows what He is doing. Being at peace means I start from a position of trust in God’s ways and that His ways are comprised of His truth and His love.

Systematically, I believe that all truth is God’s truth, but that there is a hierarchy to truth. Meaning, there is general revelation which consists of creation which points to a Creator (Romans 1:18-20), basic principles of the world (Romans 12:1; Colossians 2:20; Galatians 4:3) and the knowledge of morality (Romans 2:14, 15) all of which God set into place when He created the universe (Genesis 1, 2). And then there is special revelation which consists of Scripture (2 Timothy 3:16; 2 Peter 2:20, 21) and Jesus (Hebrews 1:1, 2). Naturally, special revelation must always supersede general revelation. Nonetheless, truth will always be truth and hence must come from God who is truth because God cannot lie. “So God has given both his promise and his oath. These two things are unchangeable because it is impossible for God to lie” (Hebrews 6:18a NLT; also cf. Titus 1:2; Numbers 23:19).

Now if this isn’t enough we must also remember that God’s thoughts and ways are higher than our thoughts and ways (Isaiah 55:8, 9) which collectively hopefully characterizes God as completely transcendent, all-powerful and down right overwhelmingly Divine which should inspire what the Bible talks about as the fear of the Lord (2 Chronicles 14:14; 17:10; 19:7, 9; Job 28:28; Psalm 19:9; 34:11; 111:10; Proverbs 1:7, 29; 8:13; 9:10; 10:27; 14:26, 27; 15:33; 16:6; 19:23; 23:17; Isaiah: 11:2, 3; 33:6; Acts 9:31; 2 Corinthians 5:11). Sometimes, (and I include myself here) I feel like the majesty of God and His transcendentness has gotten lost in the midst of friendship with God. Now, hear me on this, I love being friends with God in fact I cherish our friendship. But, there are times where I can get too comfortable and casual with God where I forget that He is also the Creator of the universe, who is omniscient (knows all things), omnipresent (is able to be in all places at the same time) and omnipotent (all-powerful and all-ruling).

It’s not that the children of God (those found in Jesus) should be fearful of God in the sense that we should run and hide from Him, but that while we fully embrace being friends of God we should also stand in awe of His majesty and bow in reverence to His divinity. I know that this may seem complicated or overwhelming at times, but we can take heart because Jesus fully embodies all of this which is why He is able to say: “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me (John 14:6 ESV). We must always remember that the only reason that we are friends with God is through Jesus. Without Jesus, we would still be enemies of God because it is only through Jesus’ shed blood on the cross that we have peace with God (Romans 5:1-11). Those found in Jesus need not fear punishment (1 John 4:16-19), we only need to concern ourselves with being disciplined (Hebrews 12:4-11). Biblically speaking there is a difference between punishment and discipline.

Add to all of this that God is love (1 John 4:8, 16) and what we get is the reality that God’s love, truth and ways are deeply and infinitely unified with one another. I don’t believe we can separate them, nor should we ever try or think of them separately but as always working in relation to one another. The love of God always being guided by His truth and His truth always being fueled by His love which constitutes God’s ways because the ways of God must always been seen as being comprised of His truth and His love. I mean, isn’t this what we find in Jesus?


LIFE: light

What comes to mind when you hear the word light? For me, I associate light with life. When I think about light, the sun naturally comes to mind; the sun whose life giving rays nourish all life on earth. Without the sun, life as we know it would end because the sun provides both energy and warmth to all of creation. But, we are not solely just natural beings who have only natural appetites and desires. No, we are also spiritual beings who have spiritual needs and desires. Just as the sun gives nourishment to our bodies, so the Son gives nourishment to our spirit. As Jesus tells us “Yes, I am the vine; and you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5 NLT). Remaining in Jesus gives us the nourishment we need to produce fruitful lives.

Furthermore, the bible says that “God is light and there is no darkness in Him at all” (1 John 1:5). When light encounters darkness, two things happen: 1) it reveals what is hiding in the darkness and 2) it drives the darkness back. God is not intimidated, confounded, anxious or worried over the darkness of the world. Just as in the beginning when He created the universe and everything in it, He is still speaking into those who are formless and void by creating life with His words. “For God, who said, ‘Let there be light in the darkness,’ has made this light shine in our hearts so we could know the glory of God that is seen in the face of Jesus Christ. We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves” (2 Corinthians 4:6, 7 NLT). The great treasure in us is Jesus; He is the light of the world that shines in the hearts of those who put their faith in Him. “Again, Jesus spoke to them, saying, ‘I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life’” (John 8:12 ESV). Having the light of life means followers of Jesus are now living in God’s light which empowers believers, connecting them in fellowship as the blood of Jesus cleanses them of sin (1 John 1:7) while also increasing our capacity to love one another (1 John 2:10).

So this is my prayer: that the Lord would continue to shine His light in our hearts bringing greater healing, deliverance, redemption and restoration to our lives. Jesus You are the light of the world and we shine for You as little lights within Your glorious light to a lost, hurting and broken world. Help us to live more fully with You basking in Your light and Your love! To the Father’s glory and in Your Name, Jesus, Amen


ONEway

The basis for any theology must be grounded in the God man Jesus Christ. If it is not, than you might as well start a new religion based on any deranged egomaniac of your choosing. It is only through Christ’s redeeming finished work of His death, resurrection, ascension, and glorification that any one of us can call ourselves a child of God. As Jesus Himself said, “Why is my language not clear to you? Because you are unable to hear what I say. You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desire. . . . Yet because I tell the truth, you do not believe me!” (John 8: 43-45 NIV). Without Him we are truly blinded by sin and lost in total depravity due to the Fall (Genesis 3).

Because of our fallen nature we all have an obsessive and compulsive tendency to do evil and follow the devil. Paul not only confirms the words of Jesus, but he also gives us our hope in Him as well when he so eloquently states, “All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath. But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions — it is by grace you have been saved” (Ephesians 2:3-5 NIV).

If we are to further God’s Kingdom here on Earth, our very identity must be in Christ (Romans 8:1) and we must go out in His name (Mark 16:15-18), who is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords (Revelation 9:16). If we are not grounded in Christ, the Word made man (John 1:14), than our efforts will be purely humanistic, rather than for the Kingdom of God. In the end, we must recognize that we were created by and for Christ (Colossians 1:16) so that we could do good works in Christ (Ephesians 2:10). What else do we have to hang our hats on? If not the promises of God, that have been, are being, and will be fulfilled by Christ Jesus. Thankfully He will be with us always, even until the end of the age (Matthew 28:20b).


FREEdom I: are you free?

Have you ever really thought about what it means to truly live free? At first impulse, most of us would probably define this as: the freedom to do whatever we please, whenever we please. But, I believe that living like this will actually put us into more bondage, rather than freedom. I mean if we really sat down and took an honest look at our lives, we would see that we are all in bondage to a variety of things, both tangible and intangible, that keep us from living a truly abundantly full life. Now without going into detail about what an abundantly full life looks like. Simply put, from my perspective an abundantly full life is a life free from sin where we can actually choose not to do things. For me, that’s the core characteristic of freedom. When we are in bondage to something we lose the ability to choose. The world teaches that freedom is the ability to do anything, anytime regardless of the consequences. But, I believe that true freedom is the ability to choose to not do something. What is it in your life that has stolen your ability to choose?

Addiction is the epitome of the loss of freedom and there are so many addicted people in the world. Now, this may or may not surprise you, but, I believe, if we are all really honest with ourselves we will see, even admit, that we are all prone towards addiction. Take the the 420 Prayer Movement, we exists because of the harsh reality of the prevalence of drug and alcohol addiction. But, there are lots of people who are addicted to other tangible things like: smoking, gambling, food, video games, the Internet, sex, shopping, work, gossiping etc. But, there are also lots of people who are addicted to intangible things (which often times underlie the tangible addictions: anger (rageaholism), lust (fantasizing), stress & anxiety (always being in crisis), greed (accumulation of stuff), comfort (adverse to any change), laziness (lack of motivation), pain (self-punishment/mutilation), etc. But, the story doesn’t stop with our addictions. At the heart of the 420 Prayer Movement is the greater reality that true freedom can happen through Jesus. Do you believe this?

I mean, we all may say we believe this, but do your prayers reflect the truth that God is still supernaturally transforming lives? More specificallly, that He not only is able to set people free from addictions, but that He actually wants to do this because I believe He does. If you have never heard my story, please check it out because my own life is testimony to this truth. Too often I hear people say, “Well, that’s just the way I am” or even “What’s the use, I can’t change.” What this says to me is that they’ve lost any hope to change and are living purely coping lives without much hope, let alone joy. Addiction has a nasty way of sapping any and all hope, life and joy from people’s lives. But, that’s not what the Gospel says, at the heart of Jesus’ ministry was to preach good news to the poor, to proclaim freedom for the prisoners, recovery of sight for the blind and to release the oppressed because the year of the Lord’s favor has arrived (Luke 4:18, 19). What all of this tells me is that Jesus came to set people free! He even says, “So if the Son sets you free, you are truly free” (John 8:36 NLT). Are you free?


lovingAWE

Jesus tells us that “God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth” (John 4:24 NIV). Now this isn’t a suggestion that Jesus makes, but more of a non-negotiable declaration. If we are to be worshipping in the presence of God, we must be filled with His Spirit and Truth. I’ve often heard this statement, “The only way to approach a holy God is to do it His way” which is true. Now if the Father desires true worshippers, who will worship Him in Spirit and Truth (John 4:23), who are we to deny the Creator and Giver of life by worshipping Him in our own way. Do you think that He will accept our worship? Probably not. I mean that’s why there are so many religions in the world because people are deciding for themselves who, how and why they worship. But, Jesus is adamant about Him being the only way to the Father (John 14:6). It’s interesting that Jesus says “the Father” and not God. Because Jesus isn’t inviting us into some objectively impersonal notion here, but rather a subjectively intimate familial relationship.

What I find interesting in today’s churches (without getting too ecclesial) are the two extremes of friendship with God and reverence for God. On the one hand, there are churches that solely emphasize that through Jesus people are now friends with God, while on the other hand, there are churches that only emphasize having reverence for God. Both are true, but what my heart longs to see a great blending of the two. To see the people of God in a vibrantly deep and intimate familial relationship with the Father while they stand in awe of His majestic glory. After talking this over with some friends over lunch yesterday, we concluded that it’s through our friendship with God that should draw us into a deeper and more vibrant worship of God in which we experience a greater depth and magnitude of His majesty, beauty and glory. But, something is getting lost in the translation.

I can only imagine what it would be like to be in the throne room of God. What comes to mind is Ezekiel 1 where the heavens open and Ezekiel sees visions of God. Without going into the details of the vision (I recommend reading through the chapter yourself), what seems to stand out is the sheer magnificence of God and the glory that radiates from Him which moves Ezekiel uncontrollably facedown (Ezekiel 1:28). All this is pretty amazing, but it’s the next verses that have drawn my attention: the Lord says to Ezekiel, “‘Son of man, stand up on your feet and I will speak to you.’ As he spoke, the Spirit came into me and raised me to my feet, and I heard him speaking to me” (Ezekiel 2:1, 2 NIV). The only way that Ezekiel was able to stand in the presence of God was by His Word (command) and Spirit.

Through Jesus, believers today do have the Spirit of God living within them (1 Corinthians 6:19) and are hopefully filling themselves with the Word of God. So, we are able to stand in the presence of God. And as the writer of Hebrews tells us because Jesus is our High Priest, “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need” (Hebrews 4:16 NIV). Maybe what needs to happen is more of God’s people need to be meditating on the the throne of grace where Jesus, the spotless Lamb of God, sits (Revelation 5). I believe the more we envision this, the greater we will see Jesus not only as our beloved Savior and Friend, but also as the Lord of Lords and King of Kings (Revelation 19:16).


closER

Today, I’ve been meditating on what it means for God to be the Creator and Giver of life (Genesis 2:7), who literally dwells within me (1 Corinthians 3:16; 2 Timothy1:14) . The reason being is that lately I’ve been struggling something fierce with my flesh (Romans 7:15). I’ve come to the conclusion that all my flesh desires is to satisfy itself whether it be through greed, lust, gluttony, comfort or laziness (to name some of the usual suspects). But, just today God gave me this revelation: that He is closer to me than even my own flesh. Hearing these words has electrified my spirit and begun filling me with great hope. If I truly am a new creation in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17) which I am, then it makes perfect sense that because of this I am no longer a slave to sin, but a slave to righteousness (Romans 6:18). This means that the righteousness of Christ is closer to me than the sinfulness of my flesh, right?

To take this a step further, I believe that the life that we are living here on earth will be completely paled in comparison to the eternal life all believers in Jesus get to look forward to. I mean can you even imagine what it will be like to be literally standing before the throne of God? The amount of glory and life that must radiate from God must be simply awesome. I mean He is the very Creator and Giver of life, the one and only true Living God. Everything that God does has eternal ramifications. He holds all of life in the palm of His hands. When He speaks life or death happens. And it is this same fully alive almighty God, who literally dwells within us and is actively breathing more life and glory into us day by day as He recreates us into the image and likeness of His Son, Jesus, through His Spirit (2 Corinthians 3:18). What an amazing truth! When I really sit down and think about this, it blows my mind. The very notion of this can’t help but to create awe and splendor towards God within me.

So this is my prayer: “Help us Lord to recognize the wonderful gift of the Holy Spirit who dwells within us and the amazing truth that You are closer to us than even our own flesh, that it is Your righteousness that now defines us, rather than the sinfulness of our flesh. In Jesus Name, Amen.”


birthRIGHT of love

God is continually transforming us into the likeness of Jesus (Romans 8:29). What this means for us is that God is continually stretching us to love as Him. A prophetic image that the Lord gave me for this was of new wine being poured into a heart shaped wineskin which symbolizes God pouring His love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit (Romans 5:5). Now the more that God’s love marinates within our hearts, the more it expands our capacity to love. His love literally stretching our hearts just as new wine stretches wineskins as it ages and matures. The longer and more fully we embrace the Father’s love, the more His love will stretch us to love as Him. I am completely convinced that the Father’s love changes everything because His love is fully alive and moves us to live more abundantly which for me means being set free to love completely.

Genuine love is a God given birthright that too many people fail to claim. I mean we live in a pornographic culture where people pawn their God given birthright of genuine love in exchange for something that is perverted, shallow and selfish. God is love (1 John 4:8) and so He designed us to love. But, sin has perverted the way that we love. Now, here’s the good news of the Gospel for those who choose to believe: Jesus has restored us back into fellowship with God which means the Father’s love now lives within us by the Holy Spirit (Romans 5:5). Jesus has redeemed our perverted love back into genuine love. But, we need to choose to reclaim our God given birthright to this love which means letting go of our old way of loving and choosing to learn this new way of love.

After coming to faith in Jesus, one of the very first things that God revealed to me was that I really didn’t know what it meant to love. In that moment, Holy Spirit moved me to begin praying this very simple prayer: “Jesus, teach me to love.” I remember praying this prayer every day for years. Today, I am close to being 10 years in the Lord and I still pray this simple prayer, maybe not daily as I used to, but at least once a week I am confronted with how much more I need to learn about loving people unconditionally. What I’ve come to realize is that it’s God’s love that transforms my love to be more like his true love (I blogged more on this here: TRUE ✞= ♥ LOVE). Again, it’s Jesus who has redeemed our perverted love back into His genuine love.

A Scripture verse that I find great comfort in is 1 John 4:19 which says, “We love because God first loved us.” I find comfort in this because this means that I don’t have to generate this genuine love on my own, but just need to lean more and more into God’s perfect love (1 John 4:18). The more I press into God’s love the more His love will fuel my love both for Him and for others. So this is my prayer: “Jesus, teach us to love. Help us to follow your lead in loving the Father and loving others. Father, pour more of Your love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit whom You’ve given us. And Holy Spirit help us to rest in the Father’s love. In Jesus Name, Amen.

“You show that you are a letter from Christ, the result of our ministry, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts” (2 Corinthians 3:3 NIV).