ACTS 9:1-6: “Now Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest, and asked for letters from him to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any belonging to the Way, both men and women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem. As he was traveling, it happened that he was approaching Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him; and he fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?” And he said, “Who are You, Lord?” And He said, “I am Jesus whom you are persecuting, but get up and enter the city, and it will be told you what you must do.” NASB

OBSERVATION: Have you ever asked yourself this question – “Will they ever change?” Is there someone in your life, a son or a daughter, a family member or a friend, who you have been praying for seemingly to no avail? Sometimes the call of intercession is a lonely call and we feel like giving up. When this happens it is good to remember the Biblical truth…


The story of the Damascus Road is a reminder of this truth. Saul was a Pharisee that was both zealous and militant. He was commissioned by the High Priest to seek out followers of The Way and to bring them bound to be judged in Jerusalem. We don’t know how many people Saul had imprisoned or how many had been stoned due to his activities. However, the Biblical account records that Saul was instrumental in the stoning of Stephen.

  • “When they had driven him out of the city, they began stoning him; and the witnesses laid aside their robes at the feet of a young man named Saul. They went on stoning Stephen as he called on the Lord and said, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit!” Acts 7:58-59

Saul was the catalyst for the dispersion of believers from Jerusalem. Yet, Saul was not content with simply hunting those of The Way in Jerusalem. Saul actively sought authority to seek out these believers in Damascus. Damascus is about 135 miles from Jerusalem. This shows how militant Saul was in his pursuit to eradicate this new movement.

To the casual observer, Saul seemed like a hopeless case. I don’t know if the new church was actively praying for his salvation. They probably were praying for their protection from his violent acts. However, although the Bible does not tell us who it was, I believe, without a doubt, that some faithful saint was calling on Jesus to save this man of destruction.

It only takes one intercessor to change the course of history!

And, changing the course of history is what happened. This man, the one who was so greatly feared, the one who appeared to be far beyond the pale of hope and change, the one who most had given up on, was intersected by someone’s faithful prayers and the grace of God on his way to harm others. The Damascus road is the continuing declaration that no one is beyond the reach of the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ!

  • “As he was traveling, it happened that he was approaching Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him; and he fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?” And he said, “Who are You, Lord?” And He said, “I am Jesus whom you are persecuting, but get up and enter the city, and it will be told you what you must do.”

There is a phrase that is missing from the NASB translation of this text that is found in the NKJV version. It is found in verse 6.

  • “So he, trembling and astonished, said, “Lord, what do You want me to do?” Then the Lord said to him, “Arise and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.” Acts 9:6 NKJV

I love this verse. It shows the power of God’s grace to change anyone. The same insolent man who breathed constant threats against those of The Way now meets THE WAY on his way to continue his acts of violence. When he meets Jesus he finally comes to the end of himself. There is nothing that he can say in his defense. He stands there naked before God and can only say,

“Lord, what do You want me to do?”

God’s grace is able to reach to the uttermost. There is no one that is beyond the reach of His great grace. Does this mean that if we only pray the entire world will be saved? Obviously not. However, let’s reverse this question. How many will not be saved if there is no one who is willing to stay on their knees in fervent prayer for the salvation of the one who is lost?

Earlier I said we do not know who the person was who interceded for Saul. Yet, could it have been Ananias? Think about it. Why did God choose Ananias to receive Saul, pray for him to receive his sight, to be filled with the Spirit, and baptized? Could it be that Ananias was the very person who had been interceding for the salvation of Saul? We may never know until we enter heaven – but it is an intriguing thought to ponder!

Through the prayers of an intercessor, through the power of God’s grace, and through the restoring work of both Ananias and Barnabas, this Christian killer Saul became the great Apostle Paul who spread the Gospel to most of the known world of his day and wrote almost half of the New Testament.

This is the power of God’s grace!

So who are you about ready to give up on? Who is it that you have begun to slack off on your prayers out of discouragement that they have not changed? Who is it that the enemy has tried to convince you that they will never change?

Remember the Road to Damascus!

If God can change Saul and turn him into the Apostle Paul – He can change anyone!

Lord, forgive me for the times my faith has waned and my prayer life has weakened. Grant me grace, strength, and faith to stand in the gap for those You have called me to be an intercessor. Help me to continue praying until they too have a Damascus road encounter with Jesus! May they meet the one who can truly change their lives and heart and transform their lives into a life of God-ordained purpose and fulfillment.

  • “Now for several days he was with the disciples who were in Damascus, and immediately he began to proclaim Jesus in the synagogues, saying, “He is the Son of God.” All those hearing him continued to be amazed, and were saying, “Is this not the one who in Jerusalem destroyed those who called on this name, and had come here for the purpose of bringing them bound before the chief priests?” But Saul kept increasing in strength and confounding Jews who lived in Damascus by proving that this Jesus is the Christ.” Acts 9:19-22 NASB

In Jesus’ Name!

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ACTS 4:11-12: “He is the stone which was rejected by you, the builders, but which became the chief cornerstone. And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among mankind by which we must be saved.” NASB

OBSERVATION: ONE WAY! If anyone saw the recent movie “Jesus Revolution” they will remember the scenes of hundreds of young people with a single finger pointed to the heavens. This was the clarion call of these young believers during the Jesus Movement Revival that moved across America in the late 1960s to early 1970s.

I can still remember driving on the freeway, seeing a car with a Jesus sticker on it, and putting my hand out the window to point to heaven. The normal response was that the other driver would do the same. This type of message was not met with any hostility during this time. It may have been looked at as being weird but no one threatened us or told us to stop.

One day, in my apartment complex, a new person moved into the apartment next to me. His car was parked next to mine and it had a Jesus sticker on it. When I saw him walking to his car I put up my finger pointing to heaven and said – “ONE WAY!” He looked at me as if I had come from another planet and said – “What?” I said I saw the sticker on the back of his car. He responded, “I just bought this car and don’t know what this sticker is all about!” Yet, there was no hostility.

Today we live in a much different world. If you proclaim that there is ONE WAY to God you are viewed as a hater, a bigot, and the problem with our society. There is tolerance for every other viewpoint today except for the Gospel of Jesus Christ. This is nothing new. The disciples faced this early on in their ministry in Jerusalem. Peter and John had just been detained by the Sadducees for proclaiming the resurrection and for the healing of the paralytic man.

  • “When they had placed them in the center, they began to inquire, “By what power, or in what name, have you done this?” Acts 4:7 NASB

Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, proclaimed,

  • “Let it be known to all of you and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead— by this name this man stands here before you in good health.” Acts 4:10 NASB

Then Peter, in essence, lifted his finger toward heaven and cried – ONE WAY!

  • “He is the stone which was rejected by you, the builders, but which became the chief cornerstone. And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among mankind by which we must be saved.” Acts 4:11-12 NASB

Have you ever noticed that you can talk about God, heaven, blessings, love, joy, and peace – but the minute you mention the name of Jesus and proclaim that He alone is the Way, the Truth, and the Life –


Yet, this is the Gospel message. This is what we are called to proclaim. This is the only message that can lead one to salvation. There is no other name under heaven that has been given among mankind by which we must be saved. To proclaim – ONE WAY!, is not to be arrogant. It is the highest measure of love.

  • “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.” John 3:16-18 NASB

Jesus is the Way! He is the Only Way! He is the ONE WAY! There is no other pathway that leads to a restored relationship with God and eternal life. Without Jesus’ death on the cross for our sins we would all still be lost and destined for eternal condemnation. God loved us so much that He sent Jesus to die in our place. The cross reminds us of Jesus’ sacrifice and the empty tomb assures us that because He lives – we too will live with Him!

Sin and death cannot be reasoned away. We cannot reach heaven through our good works because we all fall short of the glory and perfection of God. We need a Savior. We need forgiveness. We need someone who can break the power of sin and death in our lives. Jesus is the Chief Cornerstone! Jesus is the Son of God! Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life! Jesus is Life! There is only…


This Easter, look beyond the cross. Look toward the empty tomb. The stone has been rolled away but the Cornerstone still stands! Jesus is alive! Jesus is risen! Jesus is knocking at the door of your heart and waiting for you to invite Him in. Humble your heart before Him. Confess that you are a sinner in need of a Savior. Open the door and invite Him into your life. You will meet His grace and will receive His faith to be saved. And, you will discover the truth of the ages. There is only…


In Jesus’ Name!

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JOHN 21:20-22: “Peter turned around and *saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following them —the one who also had leaned back on His chest at the supper and said, “Lord, who is the one who is betraying You?” So Peter, upon seeing him, *said to Jesus, “Lord, and what about this man?” Jesus *said to him, “If I want him to remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow Me!” NASB

OBSERVATION: How is my focus? Do I find myself losing focus in life? Am I easily distracted by what others are doing or not doing? Is my lack of focus keeping me from fulfilling what God has called me to do?

We are in one of the most important weeks of the year. It is a week of focus and purpose. The world around us will keep spinning and their attention will be on whatever news cycle is the most sensational at the moment. However, for the Christ follower, there is only one focus that is important during this week.


Jesus began this final week of His life and ministry with a single purpose and focus. Jesus knew, from the Father, that His time was at hand. Everything He came to accomplish on earth would be fulfilled in one very misunderstood event. The nation He had come to save would turn their backs on Him. They would embrace a common criminal rather than the Lord of the universe. Everything would come to a single and final focus –


How did Jesus keep His focus? How did Jesus face the rejection, betrayal, mocking, injustice, and intense physical suffering He endured in the final hours of His life? The writer of Hebrews gives us some insight into this question.

  • “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:1-2 NASB

Jesus ran with perseverance the race that was set before Him. He came to give His life as the ransom for our sins by dying on the cross. He kept His focus on this singleness of purpose and endured such great suffering because He saw the joy set beyond the cross. Jesus saw the will of God, the redemption of mankind, and the reuniting of God with man – as He looked beyond the cross into the promise of the Father!

So what does that have to do with us, with the text in the Gospel of John, and this section of Hebrews? Each person has a race that is marked out for them by God. Jesus had a race marked out for Peter. This race, this calling, included the nurturing and care of God’s people, the church. However, it also included a call to suffer for Jesus and die for his faith. When Jesus spoke to Peter he ended with these simple words…


Yet, Peter quickly took his eyes off this calling and began to look at the disciple that Jesus loved (John. Peter asked Jesus – “Lord, and what about his man?” Jesus answered Peter with these words,

“If I want him to remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow Me!”

Jesus had just finished restoring Peter from his greatest failure, denying Jesus three times. Jesus lovingly called Peter to the race that was marked out before him. Yet, Peter, as he had done so many times, took his eyes off of this calling and started to look at others. Peter was easily distracted. Jesus basically told Peter –

“Don’t worry about anyone else. Follow Me on the path that I have marked out for you!”

Worrying about the other runners in the lanes next to him is the easiest way for a runner to lose a race. A glance to the side can cost the runner precious seconds and cause him to lose the race. The only way to win the race is to keep one’s eyes fixed on the lane marked out for him and the ultimate goal – the finish line. Jesus kept His focus on the cross and the joy of His obedience. As a result, Jesus defeated both sin and death and now sits at the right hand of God the Father in glory and power.

This final week of Jesus’ life reminds us that we too must keep our focus on the cross. The cross is the pathway and the goal of our life of faith. We are called to die to ourselves, pick up our cross, and follow Jesus. We are not called to worry about the calling of others or measure our race against theirs. Our calling is to walk in faith and be faithful to the race marked out for us.

The grass always looks greener across the street. We can spend our entire life comparing ourselves to others and miss the blessing and purpose of the life we have been given. Life is not a competition against others. Life is an endurance race in fulfilling the path marked out for us by our Creator, Savior, and Lord. Our call is to be like Jesus and to keep our focus on the cross and the joy that is set before us.

The more we focus on the race that God has marked out for us, the more we will be able to walk in the joy set before us. And, when we do this we will also be able to encourage others to complete the race God has marked out for them!

Father, forgive me for the many times I have been distracted by looking at the race of others and neglecting the race that you have marked out for me. Help me to be like Jesus, who endured the cross for the joy set before Him, fulfilled His calling, defeated sin and death, and finished His race.

Grant me the grace to finish my race and to keep my eyes on Jesus!

In Jesus’ Name!

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JOSHUA 1:7-9: “Only be strong and very courageous; be careful to do according to all the Law which Moses My servant commanded you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, so that you may achieve success wherever you go. This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will achieve success. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not be terrified nor dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” NASB

OBSERVATION: Have you ever gotten lost? Have you ever tried to take a shortcut only to find yourself traveling down a road that you knew you shouldn’t be on? Today we have GPS, yet even now, when we are traveling somewhere we have never been before…


It was around 11 PM and my Dad was doing the final check on our vehicle for our annual Zehnder family vacation. We would travel every year from California to Michigan for the annual Fourth of July Zehnder family reunion. Our trip would always begin at night so that we could drive through the desert when it was cool. Air conditioning in the car was a luxury that we did not have.

My Dad spent a lot of time preparing for this annual trip. The journey to Michigan was a race against time. With AAA TripTik in hand, a water bag on the front of the car for extra cooling, and Mom with a large thermos full of ice water – the Zehnders were off! Another trip had begun! On the way there my Dad would stick close to the TripTik because he had a deadline to meet.

However, the trip home, after our family visit, was more of an adventure. Looking back at it I am thankful for all those side trips that we took. As a child, I saw most of the great sights one could see on such a road trip. We journeyed through Yellowstone National Park, saw Mt. Rushmore, went through the Black Hills, visited Jackson Hole Wyoming during Cowboy Days, and saw “The Thing” on the way through the desert!

Yet, my Dad had a habit of adding to the adventure of the trip back with his penchant for trying to improvise the route with his famous shortcuts. One such shortcut is one I will never forget. We began taking a side road that soon led to a winding drive up the side of a mountain. My mother began to freak out as the pavement turned into a dirt road and the dirt road started to get narrower and narrower.

I can still hear my Mom cry out with tears – CARL!!!!!!!!!!

I think it was then that my Dad realized that he was lost. He kept on trying to reassure us that he knew where he was. Yet, you could see the worry on his face too! What made matters worse is that there was a steep cliff to our right, my Mom’s side and this added to the hysteria. As my Mother’s tears grew and my Father’s awareness set in – it became clear…


This situation called for more than my Dad’s familiar phrase – “It’s just down the road a piece…” We needed a radical course correction! The funny thing about this story is I don’t remember how we turned around. All I can remember is that it was a long, long night’s ride to the next motel and it was very quiet in the car. As usual, we arrived at the motel too late to use the pool. It was right to bed for me. Tomorrow the adventure continued!

I think the rest of this trip my Dad did not deviate from his map. We had already faced demise on the cliffs, my Mother’s meltdown, and the silent ride in the night to a crummy motel. Course corrections were made and we stayed on the road the rest of the trip. This experience came flooding into my mind when I read these verses from Joshua chapter one. Joshua, like my Dad, was headed on a long trip. And, God made it very clear to him…


The map God gave Joshua is the same map we have all received. It is God’s Word. It is His love letter to us that is meant to guide us safely through the journey of life. We can choose to deviate from this map but it will only lead to narrowing rocky roads on the side of a steep cliff. God wants us to succeed in life more than we do. So He calls us to follow His map. His map of life is not meant to limit us. It is meant to guide us to our destiny.


  • “This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will achieve success.”

Lord, as I reflect on this very familiar Scripture, I am deeply challenged, both in my memory and in my heart. Thank you for a practical memory from life that shines a bright light on my spiritual need for this present day. Forgive me for the many times I have tried to take a shortcut and veered off the path that You have given me. Grant me the grace to stay on course, the course of Your Word, and to be faithful in the journey that is before me!


In Jesus’ Name!

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JOHN 16:7-11: “But I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I am leaving; for if I do not leave, the Helper will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you. And He, when He comes, will convict the world regarding sin, and righteousness, and judgment: regarding sin, because they do not believe in Me; and regarding righteousness, because I am going to the Father and you no longer are going to see Me; and regarding judgment, because the ruler of this world has been judged.” NASB

OBSERVATION: Are you experiencing the Holy Spirit Advantage? Are you struggling to live life, to find direction, to know what choices to make, to overcome the obstacles and enemies of life? If you answered yes to any of these…


The setting of this discourse between Jesus and His disciples was the last Passover meal and His final words to them before going to the Garden and being betrayed. Jesus tried to tell His disciples what was going to happen and to prepare them for the time when He fulfilled His ministry and returned to the Father.

Naturally, this news was hard to swallow. It was hard to believe and understand. Why would Jesus talk about death when He is the Messiah? Why would Jesus talk about leaving when He had only just begun His ministry? In the midst of the disciple’s confusion, sadness, and questioning, Jesus says these important words.


Have you ever watched the recap of a championship sports game? They list the stats side by side of each team. As they lay out these stats a summary is compiled and each skill is awarded to the team who has the ADVANTAGE. What is an advantage? Webster defines advantage as,

“Any state, condition, or circumstance, favorable to success, prosperity, interest, or reputation.” (Websters 1828 English Dictionary)

Jesus made it very clear what the believer’s advantage would be. It would not be based on his skill or education. It would not be a result of his personal strength or faith. The believer’s advantage was not something they possessed. Rather, it was something that would be given to them when Jesus left and returned to the Father.


When Jesus walked this earth He was filled with the full measure of the Holy Spirit. He was the living cloud and pillar of fire of God that led the children of Israel in the desert. He was the Light of Life. As long as Jesus walked this earth the Holy Spirit could not be given to His disciples. However, when He returned to the Father, then the words of John the Baptist would be fulfilled.

  • ‘“I baptize you with water for repentance. But after me comes one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.” Matthew 3:11 NASB

Why do we need the Holy Spirit? Why is He our advantage? Why is He central to all that we are called to do and become? Jesus answers these questions with three clear and decisive statements of which entire books could be written on each one.

  • “And He, when He comes, will convict the world regarding sin, and righteousness, and judgment: regarding sin, because they do not believe in Me; and regarding righteousness, because I am going to the Father and you no longer are going to see Me; and regarding judgment, because the ruler of this world has been judged.”

The purpose of my reflections this morning is not focused on developing these three points. It is focused on emphasizing our need for the Holy Spirit in everything we do. So, I will simply list these three critical things we cannot do without the Holy Spirit’s vital ministry and presence in our lives.

  1. CONVICTION OF SIN: We cannot convince anyone of their need for Jesus. We cannot convict anyone, including ourselves of our sin and need for repentance. When we try to change our lives or the lives of others with mere human efforts we will always fail. Only the Holy Spirit can convict one of sin and their need for a Savior!
  2. CONVICTION OF RIGHTEOUSNESS: We cannot discern the truth, understand the Bible, or walk on the path of righteousness without the Holy Spirit. Left to ourselves we will all wander down the wrong path. The disciples had the physical presence and teaching of Jesus to guide them. Jesus, now sitting on the right hand of the Father, has sent for the Holy Spirit to be our teacher, comforter, and guide in His place!
  3. CONVICTION OF JUDGMENT: We cannot win the battle against sin and the enemy without the Holy Spirit. It is the Holy Spirit who proclaims the victory of Jesus’ death and resurrection through the gifts that He bestows upon the church. It is through these gifts that we partner in Jesus’ victory and break the strongholds of sin and the power of the enemy in our lives.

I don’t know about you – but I want to live with God’s ADVANTAGE! This advantage was so important that Jesus told the disciples to wait until they received power from on high before they did anything! When they walked with the risen Christ they were ready to go. Yet, if they had started prematurely they would have quickly met defeat. When they were baptized in the Holy Spirit on that wonderful day of Pentecost the –


The Holy Spirit was the changing factor as He indwelt the lives of the 120 that were gathered in the upper room, the 3000 that believed and were baptized when Peter preached, and all those who from that point would repent, believe, and receive!

  • “Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.” Acts 2:38-39 NASB

Every person who repents and believes in Jesus Christ receives the Holy Spirit when they are saved. However, there is a baptism of power when a believer yields their life to the Holy Spirit and allows Him to lead, correct, teach, and empower their life. This is the Baptism of the Holy Spirit which is available to everyone who asks in Jesus’ Name!

  • “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” Acts 1:8 NASB
  • “If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” Luke 11:13 NASB

Lord, I thank you for the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit in my life. I also thank you for the Holy Spirit’s baptism of power that You freely give to everyone who asks! Today I desire to yield my life fully to the work of the Spirit. I want to live with the ADVANTAGE that You promised.

Holy Spirit, convict my life of sin, righteousness, and judgment.

In Jesus’ Name!

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JOHN 12:46-48: “I have come as Light into the world, so that no one who believes in Me will remain in darkness. If anyone hears My teachings and does not keep them, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world, but to save the world. The one who rejects Me and does not accept My teachings has one who judges him: the word which I spoke. That will judge him on the last day.” NASB

OBSERVATION: What will be the final judge of our lives? This is a sobering thought to consider. No one likes to think about the end of their life. Yet, we all will face this day. There is no one who will escape it. Therefore, it is important that we are prepared for it!

With the thought of judgment comes our concept of who God is. Is God the eternal judge who is sitting in heaven just waiting to punish us for all of our failures in life? This is the idea that many people have of God. Jesus came to reveal the heart of the Father. Jesus was the express image of the Father. In Jesus’ life, we find the true nature of God revealed.

  • “I have come as Light into the world, so that no one who believes in Me will remain in darkness. If anyone hears My teachings and does not keep them, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world, but to save the world.”

Jesus came as Light to the world. He came to illuminate the truth of God’s Word, God’s heart, and God’s love. Jesus came to be the light to all mankind – to everyone who would believe. He did not come to pronounce judgment upon the world. Jesus came to die for this world and to save it. This is the heart of God.

Yet, this does not mean that there will not be a final judgment. If God is a God of love He also must be a God of justice. True love demands justice. Truth always calls one to a decision. It is this decision that will be the core of the judgment that we all will face. Jesus makes it very clear what the final judgment will be.

  • “The one who rejects Me and does not accept My teachings has one who judges him: the word which I spoke. That will judge him on the last day.”

So many today dismiss the Bible as a fairy tale. They reject the claims of Jesus Christ. They ignore the cross and the empty tomb. They believe there is no absolute truth. Truth is something that each person decides for themselves. If there is a God then He will judge us by how we have lived and treated our fellow man. As long as I do my best that is all anyone can expect – Right?

Wrong! Truth is not relative. Our judgment will not be based on what we have done but on what we have believed. The Bible is clear, we are all sinners and fall short of the glory (perfection) of God. Even our best efforts are not enough to escape the final judgment. At the end of our life, there will be a final judgment and a final judge. This final judge will be the very Word of God that so many dismiss. Jesus’ words will judge all men at the end of their life.

The final judgment will not be a performance test. It will not be based on how well each person followed Jesus’ teachings. If that were the case we all would fail. The final judgment will be a faith test. There is only one consideration that will determine our eternal destiny at the end of our lives.

What did we do with Jesus?

Did we embrace Jesus as our personal Savior and Lord and His teachings as the truth? Or, did we dismiss Jesus’ claims and His words? No one will escape the final judgment based on works. The only way to escape final judgment and receive the assurance of eternal life is to place our complete trust in Jesus Christ. To trust Jesus Christ as our Savior and Lord is also to embrace all of His teachings. Jesus said,

  • “…If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” ‘ John 8:31-32

Jesus’ teachings, His truth, will set us free. It will set us free from the power of sin in this life and the judgment for sin in the life to come. To reject Jesus is to reject His truth. To reject His truth is to reject Jesus. On that final day of our life the only thing that will matter will be –

Did I believe in Jesus as the way, the truth, and the life?

Only those who place their complete trust in Jesus Christ will go from death to life and escape the judgment of sin. To those who reject Jesus Christ and His Word, Jesus Himself will not judge them. Jesus’ very words will be the final judge of their life and they will determine their eternal destiny.

God is a God of love. He is not willing that any should perish. His love is full of truth and justice. God sent His only Son, Jesus Christ, to show us the way, the truth, and the life. Jesus died on the cross, for our sins, in our place, so that we could escape the power and penalty of sin in the final judgment. To embrace Jesus Christ is to receive life and peace. To reject Jesus Christ will result in death and eternal judgment.

Jesus and His Word have been given so that all may believe!

Lord, I pray that everyone who reads these words will be convicted by the Holy Spirit, will repent, and receive the free gift of eternal life through Jesus Christ. May they know the joy of life, peace, and the blessed assurance of eternal life, without judgment, forever secure in the arms of a loving God!

In Jesus’ Name!

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JOHN 5:39-44: “You examine the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is those very Scriptures that testify about Me; and yet you are unwilling to come to Me so that you may have life. I do not receive glory from people; but I know you, that you do not have the love of God in yourselves. I have come in My Father’s name, and you do not receive Me; if another comes in his own name, you will receive him. How can you believe, when you accept glory from one another and you do not seek the glory that is from the one and only God?” NASB

OBSERVATION: When was the last time I had my spiritual eyes examined? This may seem like a strange question. How can one have a spiritual eye exam? The last time I looked, Lens Crafters did not offer this service. Yet, just like I need to watch the health of my physical eyes, I also need to care for my spiritual eyes.

Spiritual nearsightedness or farsightedness is a real malady that affects all believers. We are all vessels of clay going through different times of trial and testing. These struggles, and how we react to them, have a lot to do with the health of our spiritual eyes. It is very easy to begin to see and understand God’s Word incorrectly – through our eyes of hurt, disappointment, or failure.

This was the case with the Jews whom Jesus was addressing in John chapter 5. They took great pride in their religion and in being the recipients of the Word of God. Yet, they completely missed the very Messiah that God’s Word proclaimed. Jesus, standing in their midst, was not embraced for who He truly was. It was not that they did not revere God’s Word. The problem was with their spiritual eyesight. Jesus said,

  • “You examine the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is those very Scriptures that testify about Me; and yet you are unwilling to come to Me so that you may have life.”

How can a person be a student of the Scriptures and miss the very essence of God’s Word? How could one pour over the Word, day in and day out, and miss the very life they were seeking – when it stood right before them? And, it was not simply that they were missing it. Rather, they were openly resisting it!

  • “…And yet you are unwilling to come to Me so that you may have life.”

What were these people missing? What do we so often miss in our pursuit of the truth? What is the defining component of healthy spiritual eyes? It is not the amount of time we spend in the Word. There are many that use God’s Word in ways that lead many astray. So what is it?

It is the condition of our heart that determines the health of our spiritual eyes. And, the condition of our heart that is a prerequisite to the health of our spiritual eyes is – HUMILITY! This is exactly what Jesus focuses on when He challenges those who were resisting Him.

  • “I do not receive glory from people; but I know you, that you do not have the love of God in yourselves. I have come in My Father’s name, and you do not receive Me; if another comes in his own name, you will receive him. How can you believe, when you accept glory from one another and you do not seek the glory that is from the one and only God?”

Jesus had only one focus in His life. It was to please the Father, to do His Father’s will, and to speak His Father’s words. Jesus did not do this for any fanfare or acclaim. He did this out of a humble heart of obedience. The result of this obedience was both suffering and misunderstanding from those He came to save.

On the other hand, the Jews who stumbled at His word were more interested in their own personal comfort and acceptance from others. They hungered for their peers’ glory and honor and would do anything to receive it. This spiritual pride, this hunger for acceptance, and this need for affirmation from their peers, blinded them from seeing the very Son of God. Instead of humbling themselves before Jesus, they criticized what He did because it did not fit into their personal framework.

In the recent movie, Jesus Revolution, there is a scene from the movie where one of the church leaders is upset because the hippies that are now attending church do not wear shoes. His objection is that their dirty feet will stain their new carpet. When we begin to worry more about the church’s carpet than the heart of someone who needs Jesus Christ we have lost our spiritual eyesight!

I love the scene that follows. As Sunday approaches, the man who objected to the dirty feet, and his family, approach the church, only to see a long line of hippies at the door. He angrily pushes through and mutters – “What is this all about!?” When he gets to the door he sees the pastor, kneeling down, and washing the feet of each person who came to church without shoes. Angrily, he passes by and takes a seat. He would soon leave the church!

We are all the Jews who stood before Jesus, or the angry man worried about the carpet if we do not humble ourselves before the mighty hand of God. If we worry more about pleasing others than pleasing God – we will be blinded from the very truth that will set us free. God always resists the proud but He gives grace to the humble. His grace is like a finely tuned pair of eyeglasses. It keeps us in a place of humility and enables us to see and understand the truth.

Grace corrects our spiritual vision so that we can clearly see!

The more we strive, the more we try to convince others, the more we worry about what people will think of us – the more we move away from the heart of the Father and the truth of His Word. Yet, when we humble ourselves under His mighty hand, when we desire to please God more than man, when we are willing to count the cost of discipleship and take up our cross and follow Jesus – we receive God’s grace and our spiritual eyes are opened!

Lord, I hunger to see You and know You. I hunger to know You through Your Word. I hunger to be pleasing to You in all that I do and say. So, this morning, search me and know me and see if there are any roots of pride or insecurity that are springing up in my heart. Give me the grace to humble myself under Your mighty hand.

Open my eyes and let me see Jesus!

In Jesus’ Name!

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JOHN 3:19-21: “And this is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the Light; for their deeds were evil. For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light, so that his deeds will not be exposed. But the one who practices the truth comes to the Light, so that his deeds will be revealed as having been performed in God.” NASB

OBSERVATION: What is the oldest battle known to man? Is it the struggle for political power? Is it the war between the sexes? Is it the battle for competing ideologies? The oldest battle known to man is…

The battle between light and darkness.

This is the ultimate battle. This is the battle that takes place in the heavenlies and in our own backyard. It is the battle that will one day be settled once and for all when Jesus Christ returns in glorious light and overcomes and dispels all darkness once and for all. When Jesus Christ sets up the New Heavens and New Earth there will be no darkness at all – either physically or spiritually!

  • “And the city has no need of the sun or of the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God has illuminated it, and its lamp is the Lamb. The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it. In the daytime (for there will be no night there) its gates will never be closed…” Revelation 21:23-25 NASB

What a glorious day that will be! Yet, today, we find ourselves in the battle of light and darkness as we look for this day. We are all thrust into this battle. There is no way to escape the battle. However, there is a way to have victory. Our victory is found only in the light. We cannot dispel or overcome the darkness. Only the light, the True Light can do this.

  • “In Him was life, and the life was the Light of mankind. And the Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not grasp it. ‘ John 1:4-5 NASB

Jesus is the True Light. We need to always keep this forefront in our minds and hearts. The battle that wages in the world, the battle of light against darkness, sin against righteousness, is ultimately a battle of the enemy against Jesus Christ. The kingdom of darkness, under the rule and authority of Satan, is constantly battling against the Kingdom of Light, ruled by Jesus Christ our Lord.

As believers, we know and understand the end of the battle. Jesus wins! We win in Christ! Yet, we often forget this fact amid the battle when the struggle becomes personal. When we are accused of being intolerant, unloving, narrow-minded, haters, bigots, and all sorts of vile things, we begin to take it personally. We forget that the attack is not against us but against The Light!

  • “And this is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the Light; for their deeds were evil.”

Jesus is the light. We are called to be reflections of His light. The world and its system are under the rule of the prince of darkness. Therefore, the world will hate The Light and us as we reflect His light. So what is our call as lights to the world? Is it to be exposers of darkness or reflections of His light? This is where many become confused and also discouraged in this ongoing battle.

As children of the light our call is to proclaim the Light. The Pharisees were famous for pointing out the darkness in others. Yet, when God sent forth His Light, it was not to expose the darkness of the world – it was to proclaim His light – His love!

  • “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but so that the world might be saved through Him.” John 3:16-17 NASB

Jesus came to proclaim the love of the Father. Jesus came to be the true light to a world lost in darkness. Jesus came so that everyone who believes in Him could have eternal life. He did not come to judge the world. He came to die for it! This is the message of the Gospel. This is the purpose of the light. So then the question remains – why doesn’t everyone embrace the light? Why doesn’t everyone embrace Jesus Christ through faith?

Light does not have to point out darkness. Light naturally exposes it. When one turns on the light whatever is broken, dirty, or deficient is immediately exposed. It is not that the light is looking for these things. They already exist. It is simply that the light exposes that which has been hidden in the darkness. When the light exposes these things then a choice has to be made.

The choice is repentance and faith – or rejecting and hating the light.

  • “For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light, so that his deeds will not be exposed.”

This is why the battle continues to wage on. The enemy or our souls hates the light. Those who embrace evil hate the light. They hate it because it exposes the true nature of their deeds. The truth of God’s Word, the call of His love, and the person and work of Jesus Christ, all shine a light that exposes the reality of their life and their choices. There are only two decisions that are possible. Either you come to the light in repentance or you hate the light and avoid it at any cost.

This is the battle that defines our current day. This is why we are caught in its crossfire. Yet, in all of this, it is important that we do not internalize this struggle or allow our message to be changed. Jesus said that the world will hate the one who embraces the light because they hate The Light. It is always about Jesus. The battle is between the kingdom of darkness against the Kingdom of Light. Our victory is not through becoming light police. It is through becoming light heralds!

  • “Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. He made Him who knew no sin to be sin in our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” 2 Corinthians 5:20-21 NASB

The world is waiting to catch us in our failures and accuse us of hypocrisy. We fall prey to this when we make the message about us and not about Him. The Gospel is not about how much better we are than anyone else. The Gospel is about Jesus Christ, the Light of Life, coming to this world and taking the full penalty of our sin upon Himself. The Good News is that we were all once children of darkness but have become children of light through Jesus Christ alone!

Lord, in this day in which we live, help us to let our light shine brightly in the darkness that surrounds us. Keep our light focused on the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Help us to be ambassadors for Christ, proclaiming His love, His sacrifice, His victory over death, and His promise of eternal life to all who will believe. Keep our lights burning brightly with the oil of Your love!

In Jesus’ Name!

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LUKE 20:40, 45-46: “Now when He arrived at the place, He said to them, “Pray that you do not come into temptation…When He rose from prayer, He came to the disciples and found them sleeping from sorrow, and He said to them, “Why are you sleeping? Get up and pray that you do not come into temptation.” NASB

OBSERVATION: What do sorrow and temptation have to do with each other and how can I live in victory? In context, the sorrow that I am speaking about in the account of Jesus and His disciples in the Garden is the sorrow of impending loss or disappointment. We could also look at this as the kind of depression that is not clinical but comes from a quick change in one’s circumstances.

What was this change the disciples were dealing with? As they celebrated the Passover with Jesus it became clear that their hopes of the Kingdom of God being established at this moment were replaced with the prediction of Jesus’ betrayal, death, and suffering. Jesus tried to prepare the disciples for what would be a radical change of events.

  • “And He said to them, “When I sent you out without money belt and bag and sandals, you did not lack anything, did you?” They said, “No, nothing.” And He said to them, “But now, whoever has a money belt is to take it along, likewise also a bag, and whoever has no sword is to sell his cloak and buy one. For I tell you that this which is written must be fulfilled in Me: ‘And He was counted with wrongdoers’; for that which refers to Me has its fulfillment.” Luke‬ ‭22‬:‭35‬-‭37‬ ‭NASB

Suddenly, their arguments about who would be the greatest in the Kingdom seemed foolish. Why did Jesus continue talking about suffering and death when He was the Messiah? Why did Jesus tell them to change their preparation from His previous instructions? Something was in the air and even though they did not fully understand it – their hearts were filled with sorrow. They grew increasingly depressed.

It is during these times in life that we are most susceptible to temptation. We lose heart, we hide in sleep, and our vision grows dim as we look to the future. At this moment – the enemy comes to try and kill, steal, and destroy the work of God in our life. The enemy does not come in our moments of strength and courage. He comes at the height of our loss, sorrow, depression, and physical strength!

  • “Now Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led around by the Spirit in the wilderness for forty days, being tempted by the devil. And He ate nothing during those days, and when they had ended, He was hungry. And the devil said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, tell this stone to become bread.” Luke‬ ‭4‬:‭1‬-‭3‬ ‭NASB

Whenever Jesus said, “Truly, truly…”, or whenever He repeated something twice, it was something of utmost importance that He was calling us to take note of. When Jesus and the disciples went to the Garden to pray, Jesus cautioned the disciples, both before and at the end of His time of prayer,

  • “Pray that you do not come into temptation.”

In the other Gospels, we read this additional exhortation,

  • “…for the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

What are the temptations that Jesus is warning us about? I believe there is a primary temptation that opens the door to all other forms of temptations. The primary temptation that we all have to face is that of losing heart. This is what this band of weary disciples was dealing with as they were told to watch and pray but chose to allow sorrow to overcome them and they fell asleep so they did not have to deal with their sorrow.

What is losing heart? It is looking at our circumstances and letting go of our faith. It is to look down instead of up. When we lose heart we are prone to make bad decisions and bad choices. These are not necessarily falling into overt sin, although this too can happen. However, it all starts with a general malaise that causes us to turn from the path of righteousness to the easy path of our own making. This has been the general downfall of God’s people throughout the ages.

The Scriptures are replete with warnings about not losing heart. Yet, Jesus puts a laser focus on this when He tells us to watch and pray! To watch and pray is an active engagement with God and His Word. It faces uncertainty with faith and presses into God’s presence amid our sorrow and loss. It recognizes the willingness and weakness of our human nature and our need for power from on high. It is only in active communion with God through prayer and His Word that we are equipped to overcome this temptation!

  • “Therefore, since we also have such a great cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let’s rid ourselves of every obstacle and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let’s run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking only at Jesus, the originator and perfecter of the faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews‬ ‭12‬:‭1‬-‭2‬ ‭NASB

Looking only at Jesus! This is the key to overcoming our sorrow and temptation. It is what the Lord Jesus Himself did as He humbled Himself and prayed to the Father. He is the originator and perfecter of our faith. In His moment of agony in the Garden, Jesus found the strength to endure the cross for the joy that was set before Him. Our victory will be found in this same place. When we are tempted to retreat, to hide, to sleep – we need to press into God’s presence through prayer and the Word!

Lord, forgive me for the times that I have retreated and hidden in times of sorrow, depression, and loss. When everything seems to be changing, when unexpected turns meet me on the road of life, help me to remember that You have given me an example of how to overcome. In the wilderness, You defeated the enemy through prayer, fasting and the Word. In the Garden, You faced the cross with the same. Help me to face every challenge in life by watching and praying!

  • “And do not lead us into temptation, But deliver us from the evil one. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.” Matthew‬ ‭6‬:‭13‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

In Jesus’ Name!

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PSALM 74:22-23: “Arise, God, and plead Your own cause; Remember how the foolish person taunts You all day long. Do not forget the voice of Your adversaries, The uproar of those who rise against You, which ascends continually.” NASB
OBSERVATION: What is revival? I have been drawn to the thought of revival continually over the past few weeks. I have felt like the disciples who were praying for Peter’s release from prison and then had a hard time believing when young Rhoda told them that Peter was free and standing at the door! (Read Acts 12:6-19).

For the last 20 years, I have been lamenting the condition of our nation and our world. I have been praying for revival to once again come to our churches and turn hearts back to Jesus Christ, to His Word, and to the call of fulfilling the Great Commission. There have been prayer meetings, conferences, and just my time alone with the Lord pouring over His Word and crying out for the Holy Spirit to move upon my heart and the hearts of His people.

Now, I believe revival is knocking at the door. While we are still huddled together inside the four walls of our churches a young generation is coming to us and saying – “Revival is at the door!” And, to many, the response is what the disciples said to young Rhoda…

  • “You are out of your mind.” But she kept insisting that it was so, and they kept saying, “We need to just wait and see. This could just be an emotional response of a group of impressionable youth!” (An adaptive paraphrase of Acts 12:15 for emphasis)

The disciples, like many of us, were praying for something – but they really did not know what to expect. I think this is true of revival. When we are praying for it we only have the examples of past revivals to look to and understand how God moved in His people. Yet, we cannot put God in a box. This revival will not be led by hippies coming out of San Francisco, but I do believe it will be God profoundly working through our youth.

Psalm 74 seemed like an unlikely place to be drawn to contemplate revival. This Psalm was written by Asaph, one of the Levite Temple musicians, or more probably by one of his descendants during the time of the Babylonian captivity. It references the desolation of God’s people and the defiling of the Temple.

  • “Step toward the irreparable ruins; The enemy has damaged everything in the sanctuary. Your adversaries have roared in the midst of Your meeting place; They have set up their own signs as signs.” Psalms‬ ‭74‬:‭3‬-‭4‬ ‭NASB

Isn’t that the way so many have been feeling about the church, our nation, and the world in which we live? Irreparable ruins! It seems that the enemy has been winning and the church has been merely holding shrinking ground. Seekers are no longer crossing the doors of our churches. The Bible, although still the best-selling book of all time, is rarely read, and even more, is completely misunderstood. And, so the Psalmist cries…

  • “How long, God, will the enemy taunt You? Shall the enemy treat Your name disrespectfully forever? Why do You withdraw Your hand, even Your right hand? Extend it from Your chest and destroy them!” Psalms‬ ‭74‬:‭10‬-‭11‬ ‭NASB

Let’s be honest. I am speaking to pastors and leaders for the moment. We have entered our pulpits with smiling faces and the resolve to hold the fort. It is our job to make sure God’s people don’t lose heart. Yet, we have battled disappointment as we see the world crumble around us. We know that God is faithful, that He is still on the throne, but we have longed to see Him move in power – not just a sprinkling of power, but an outpouring of power from on high that changes the hearts of man!

Then, from this unsuspecting Psalm, when I read the last verses, my heart was filled with both hope and understanding!

  • “Arise, God, and plead Your own cause; Remember how the foolish person taunts You all day long. Do not forget the voice of Your adversaries, The uproar of those who rise against You, which ascends continually.”

REVIVAL IS…God stepping into the scene to plead His own cause!

Yes, it is the answer to our prayers, but it is more than that. It is God doing for Himself what we could not do. It is Jesus Christ stepping into the affairs of mankind with a fresh outpouring of the Holy Spirit that accomplishes transformation in the hearts and minds of men and women that all of our combined efforts and programs never could accomplish.

It is God knocking at the door in answer to our prayers!

Just yesterday a colleague of mine shared a story with me that could only be explained by this new move of God’s Spirit in our midst. I am an Evangelical Christian – but this story came from the setting of a Roman Catholic School. (Note: Many evangelicals would already have dismissed any account based on this fact.). My colleague’s daughter is a peer minister in high school. At a retreat, to prepare for confirmation, one girl was both angry and agitated. She said – “I don’t want to be here! I don’t believe in God and my parents made me come!”

This wonderful young girl simply asked her if they could pray for her. She agreed and a group of young girls gathered around and prayed a simple prayer. The girl then left and went to another part of the room. Later this young peer minister heard that this girl had come to faith because when she laid her hands on the angry girl’s shoulder and prayed, in the words of the rebellious youth –

“I felt the hand of God!”

When the winds of revival come they do not come with distinction based on the denomination or Christian labels and expectatons. God’s Spirit moves in hungry hearts. He moves in any heart that calls upon the name of the Lord Jesus Christ! The Spirit breaks down walls and barriers and returns us to our first love and passion – Jesus Christ our Lord! It becomes all about Jesus and less about everything else.

I believe God is arising to plead His own cause. We can answer the door of His knocking with doubt and skepticism, or we can open the door and invite Him in! Lord, help me, help us – make the right choice!

  • “Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me. The one who overcomes, I will grant to him to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat with My Father on His throne. The one who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” Revelation‬ ‭3‬:‭20‬-‭22‬ ‭NASB

Come Holy Spirit!

In Jesus’ Name!

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