Reminder of Our Position in Christ

During my time with the Lord today, he brought to light / reminded me of three things that definitely uplifted my day. This will be quick, but I wanted to share the deliciousness of what we have in Christ.

1. “And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you.” Romans 8:11

The Holy Spirit is obviously the Spirit of God. This is the same Spirit who hovered over the waters in Genesis, lead Jesus every step of his life and empowered him to perform his awesome earthly ministry, as well as the one who raised Him from death to life. This Spirit is capable of healing, preaching, teaching, loving, empowering, guiding, and anything else that has to do with righteousness and the kingdom of God. It’s basically like you have the powers of all the Avengers living inside of you and allowing you to live for God. Jesus himself said it would be better for him to leave because He would send the Holy Spirit.

But I tell you the truth: It is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Counselor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you.” John 16:7

And finally, Romans 8:15 says, “For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship.” Being lead by the Spirit of God is not something of which we should be fearful. Instead, He leads us into life as a son of the Most High God!

2. Was Jesus not God’s most beloved? However, God, in his wisdom, chose to allow his son to come to earth and die an excruciating death so that we might be reconciled to him and live with him forever. If this isn’t good enough news already, it gets better! Romans 8:32 says the following.

He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all – how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?”

The way this struck me today was that if God would give up the thing that was of greater worth to him than anything else (his son), will He not give us all things now that we are reconciled to him? Let me put it this way, everything that God has is not worth as much as his son, yet He gave his son for us. However, David said, “you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand” (Psalm 16:11). David knew that in God’s presence were eternal pleasures. Honestly, it doesn’t really matter what the pleasures are because, whatever they are, we are joint heirs of them with Christ (Romans 8:17). Now, I don’t say all of this to get us excited on material things, I say this to get us excited on heavenly things, things that reflect the goodness and favor of God!

3. “Christ Jesus, who died – more than that, who was raised to life – is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us” (Romans 8:34).

Jesus didn’t just die and rise to life and then leave us alone and say, “There, I’ve done my part, now you live for me because of what I did for you.” No, he constantly intercedes for us as we go through this life. To add a bonus to this, look back at Psalm 16:11 two paragraphs ago. David said that eternal pleasures were at God’s right hand. Romans 8:34 says that Jesus is at God’s right hand. Is it possible that Jesus is our eternal pleasure?

Let me summarize what we have in Christ. First, we have the most powerful thing that’s in the earth today actually living inside of us and counseling us how to live. In addition to having Holy Spirit live within us, we know that we are co-heirs with Christ and everything that is the Father’s is our inheritance as well. And finally, Jesus is praying for us night and day. That’s a power punch of hope! Being saved by Jesus is the best thing anyone could have!

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Joy for the Watchmen

Yesterday (01/29), the Lord approached the University of Georgia (UGA). At 2:30 PM ET, a few students gathered in one of the on-campus chapels to pray. Approximately 12 hours later at 2:30 AM ET, the prayer session concluded and hundreds of students drifted home, filled with the Holy Spirit. What started as a small group seeking the Lord turned into an outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon the students of UGA.

UGANo one arose to speak. No one took credit for the outpouring. Instead, the sound of students worshipping emanated from the chapel location. Students walking by heard the sound and were drawn to the chapel. Soon, hundreds of students were gathered in the chapel, lifting their voices to the sound of a lone guitar. Tears rushed down the faces of students as the Holy Spirit gathered his own audience for his own event. I don’t know what will happen today, but I know that what happened there yesterday was something that God, and God alone, did.

As I heard this report from one of my best friends, Michael Pierce, I learned that Michael, his sister Melissa (who is a student at UGA), and a few others have been crying out for this to happen for years. They have been praying that Holy Spirit would encounter the campus of UGA and draw students into the presence of the Lord. At just the right time, Holy Spirit showed up to fulfill the hopes of those who have prayed ardently for their campus.

Why do I write about this? I feel today that the Lord wants to encourage those who are well acquainted with the rocky paths, the howling winds, and the unexpected storms of the mountain top. I feel God wants to encourage the intercessors, the prayer warriors!

Matthew 17:1 (NIV) After six days Jesus took with him Peter, James, and John the brother of James, and led them up a high mountain by themselves.

Jesus showed a pattern of getting away to spend time with God the Father. He would often arise early in the morning to pray. At times, Jesus would retreat to the seclusion of a nearby mountain to meet with the Father. Distanced from the multitudes of sick and hungry people, Jesus focused solely on his Father. You may recognize Matthew 17:1 as the introduction to the passage of scripture known as The Transfiguration, where Jesus met face-to-face with Moses and Elijah and his garments shone like lightning. It’s probably safe to say that something Jesus found essential to his life is also something that we, as his disciples, should reflect.

Jesus was not the only one who went to the mountains to pray. The passage below shows God calling to Moses from the mountains and Moses responds by coming up to him.

Exodus 19:2-3 (NIV) After they set out from Rephidim, they entered the Desert of Sinai, and Israel camped there in the desert in front of the mountain. Then Moses went up to God, and the Lord called to him from the mountain…

Moses encountered God in such powerful ways on the mountain that he would return to the people of Israel and his face shone so brilliantly (Exodus 34:29) that he had to wear a veil (Exodus 34:33).

What’s the point? Some of you have been praying for breakthrough and revival for a long time. Some of you have consistently gone to the mountain top to meet with God and experience his heart for his people. Sometimes the result of your labor is discouragement as you keep praying for things that you don’t see happening.

Today I felt like the Lord said to me, “Joy is hitting the mountaintops. When the sun rises, it strikes the mountaintops first. Those who rejoice in hope will not be disappointed.”

I believe that when revival strikes America, the prayer warriors will rejoice first. After all, isn’t it apparent that when the sun rises, it literally does strike the mountain tops first?! Those who are crying out in the mountains will see the sun rising and enjoy its light. They will watch with incredible joy as the sun rises and brilliantly lights the valleys and low places.

2 Peter 3:9 (NIV) The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.

For those like me who are just beginning to strongly feel the pull of the Lord to prayer, I encourage you to respond like the watchmen in the passage below. Give yourselves to prayer until the Lord restores America to himself and saves our nation with his mighty arm. Let’s allow ourselves to be gripped by God for the salvation of our brothers and sisters, our friends, and our country.

Isaiah 62:6-7 (NIV) I have posted watchmen on your walls, O Jerusalem; they will never be silent day or night. You who call on the Lord, give yourselves no rest, and give him no rest till he establishes Jerusalem and makes her the praise of the earth.

Although coming to a mountain used to be a fearful experience as Moses states below, we now come to a different mountain than Moses experienced. The mountain we come to now is one where we find incredible grace as we rejoice with thousands of angels and Saints who are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life. Boldly come before the Lord in prayer and let’s see how he changes a nation!

Hebrews 12:18-24 (NIV) You have not come to a mountain that can be touched and that is burning with fire; to darkness, gloom and storm; to a trumpet blast or to such a voice speaking words that those who heard it begged that no further word be spoken to them, because they could not bear what was commanded: “If even an animal touches the mountain, it must be stoned.” The sight was so terrifying that Moses said, “I am trembling with fear.”

But you have come to Mount Zion, to the heavenly Jerusalem, the city of the living God. You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly, to the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven. You have come to God, the judge of all men, to the spirits of righteous men made perfect, to Jesus the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.

Additional resources:  Pastor Tim Moslander at Abundant Life Fellowship preached an incredible message on prayer a couple of weeks ago. Check it out at the link below.  http://www.theuptownchurch.net/011815-kingdom-builders-prayer-pastor-tim-moslander/.

Seeking Intimacy

It was a moment of disbelief, sadness, and frustration. Before I realized what was happening, I heard these words come out of my mouth: “your presence is not enough.” I couldn’t believe it. I sat there horrified. I tried to argue it away, saying that I didn’t mean it and that those were just random words that came to mind. However, I eventually settled on the fact that out of the overflow of my heart I speak (Luke 6:45). What was I to do? I just told the God of the universe that the very thing he died to give me was not enough.

Praise God that happened years ago. Now, things are different. After that moment, I began to realize that I didn’t know how to spend time with Jesus in a way where we really connected, in a way that was relational. If all my friends were gone for a day, that day was the worst one of the week. I would wander around, filled with restlessness, not knowing how to be content in moments of tranquility.

Eventually, I started taking walks with the lord. At first I felt like I was walking alone, but then I started to feel his presence. More and more I realized that he was with me on the walks and with me throughout every moment of every day. My friends even started realizing that when I was headed out for a walk, no one else was going to come with me and I would probably be gone for a while. It was Jesus time.

Going back to my original destructive thinking, as much as it disturbed me in the moment, I was just like Israel when they wandered through the desert. They didn’t understand how to have relationship with God, so his presence was not enough. They longed for other gods that they could create, touch, and control. The God of heaven and earth was too much for them. Where was the moment where they learned how to walk with the Lord, where they learned how to hear his voice? It didn’t exist. Instead, they said to Moses, “speak to us yourself and we will listen. But do not have God speak to us or we will die” (Exodus 20:19).

Israel constantly doubted God’s plan for her life and challenged his goodness. “Why did you bring us up out of Egypt to make us and our children and livestock die of thirst” (Exodus 17:3)? They grumbled about God’s supernatural provision of manna and quail and they feared entering the Promised Land. Yet Moses had a completely different mindset. He told God that he would not go into the Promised Land unless God went with them. Moses would rather have stayed in the desert with God than be in the Promised Land without him, whereas Israel would have taken God’s offer to go to the Promised Land without Him. You can see this interaction in Exodus 33:15-17.

The fruit born of Israel’s heart was often made very evident by God. God took Israel out of captivity in Egypt because he could bear it no longer; but then God allowed almost every member of a rebellious generation to die before he brought them into the Promised Land. He gave that generation forty years to learn that relationship with him was what mattered, but they never figured it out. You will inherit the Promised Land only after you first inherit sonship (not gender specific).

Have you been stuck in a desert? Seek Jesus. He will bring you to the Promised Land once you’ve learned to seek him and rely on him. The wealth of the Promised Land will surely mean your death if you haven’t made Christ your pursuit. “Whoever trusts in his riches will fall, but the righteous will thrive like a green leaf” (Proverbs 11:28). The funny thing is that once you’ve reached the Promised Land, that is a sign that you know Jesus. And once you know Jesus, you will realize that the only thing that ever really mattered was relationship with Jesus. You will no longer be enthralled with the beauty of the Promised Land. You will give God praise and thanks for it, but your heart will go out to God, not prosperity.

If I don’t want to pursue Jesus today, why would I want to pursue him tomorrow? “Seek the Lord while he may be found; call on him while he is near” (Isaiah 55:6). Today, I’m choosing to seek intimacy with Jesus.