Today is the day – it is the day I never understood until October 19, 1998.
In the last nineteen years I have read many stories and blog posts about what “Good Friday” indicates to believers and even more what Resurrection Sunday means for you and me. Many say the same thing but coming from different people offer different perspectives – sorta like the gospel do for us. The gospels tell us about the life of Jesus – each getting the same points across but told from different perspectives. I’ve never felt led to share my simple thoughts because they could never measure up to the deep theological thoughts of the thousands out there, but this morning the Lord woke me early and said, “write.” I’m not sure exactly what the Lord is wanting me to share, so let me first begin with the most important –
I believe a man named Jesus was miraculously born of a virgin girl named Mary. Matthew 1:18-25 and Luke 1:26-38.
I believe a man named Jesus lived a sinless life the 33 years He walked this earth. Hebrews 4:15, 2 Corinthians 5:21, I John 3:5
I believe a man named Jesus healed the lame, the blind, the possessed, the sick, and raised people from the dead. John 4:43-54, Mark 1:21-27, Matthew 8:16 & 17, Matthew 8: 5 – 13, Matthew 8: 28-33 (these are just a few of the many written in scripture)
I believe a man named Jesus asked His Father in Heaven to take what He was about to walk through away IF it was His will. Matthew 26:39
I believe two thieves were hanging next to a man who lived a perfect life and I believe one of those thieves is in paradise with Jesus. Luke 23: 39 – 43
I believe a man named Jesus was mocked and spit upon. Matthew 15: 16 – 20
I believe Christ teaches us to forgive on the Cross. Luke 23:34
I believe there was darkness – Mark 15:33
I believe on the third day Jesus arose victoriously from the tomb that was sealed closed and guarded by two guards. John 20
I believe in a man named Jesus. I have asked Him in to my heart, to forgive me of my sins (because we are all sinners) on October 19, 1998. I believe God raised Jesus from the dead on the third day. I believe everything in the scriptures from Genesis to Revelation. It is this gospel of Christ that saved me from a life of destruction. I need my Jesus more than I need breath. I believe if I had died before my day of salvation I would have gone to hell – even between July 7, 1998 – the date of my sobriety- and October 19, 1998 – I would have died a lost sober person and gone to hell. I believe there is nothing – absolutely nothing – that we can do that is good enough to enter heaven. I believe we will all be held accountable (judged) for our decision for Christ and I believe that one day – every knee will bow before Him – even of those who are arrogant like I once was and said, “God is a male chauvinistic pig and I want nothing to do with him.”
I also believe we can use scriptures for life application moments, never to undermine what was done in the scriptures or alter it in any way, but we can use it to apply it to our own lives, to grow us, guide us, and help us through some tough, tough days. And that’s what brings me to today’s thoughts –
For several days I’ve thought about Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane – “Father, if it is your will, take this cup from me.” He teaches us to pray and surrender our lives according to the Father’s will for our life. When we pray, we should pray, “according to your will, Lord, not my own.” And that’s hard. I find my prayers are often so selfish and shallow because I am more concerned for my will versus the Lord’s will for my life. We are taught through this moment a life application to seek the Lord’s will over our own wants and desires.
Jesus was spat upon. He was mocked, tortured, and killed. Persecution comes in various forms – often times we are ridiculed and laughed at for believing in Jesus. Thousands across our world are tortured and murdered for their faith and sharing the gospel. Since Christ was persecuted, we can expect persecution. We overcome the attempted defeat by leaning on Christ more, digging deeper in the Word, and praying – Keeping our eyes on the Cross – life application – remembering what Christ endured for our benefit and trust Him to use our persecutions for His good.
I glean hope from the thieves on the cross – one thief chose Christ this given day and the other thief rejected Christ – the one that believed Christ was the Son of God would be in paradise by days end, the other – separated to eternal death and despair. The thief that believed had to do absolutely nothing except believe. That gives me a tremendous hope for death bed salvation. My siblings and I experienced this first hand with our father. And it was absolutely incredible the transformation that took place – not only in the room we were in but over a man lying motionless with a scowl on his face to a motionless peaceful, soft face with tears running down his cheeks – talk about life application – wow!
When I think about Christ’s death I am challenged to die to self – again – and again – and again – putting aside what I want and giving my life as a service unto the Lord – that comes with growth, spending time in the Word, praying, having mentors and accountability partners, and obedience. My selfish self can’t do anything God wants me to do – or has called me to do – if I am not surrendering my life daily to Him – life application.
Darkness came – oh boy – this is a doozie – cause these dark days are hard. Christ prepared His followers over and over a day was coming that He would die BUT He also prepared His followers that He would rise again and that upon His ascension to Heaven He would send a Helper (the Holy Spirit) – and yet there was sadness, confusion, despair, and doubt among them at the cross. At first I was amazed and shocked that the followers of Christ would doubt and not have hope – I mean come on – these people HAD Him with them! I thought of His followers as superiors because they HAD Him walking and talking with them them – but you know what – we have Him too – The scriptures are living and breathing – and IF we have asked Christ in to our hearts then the Holy Spirit is within us – we have as much of Jesus as we want of Him – but what I have learned through this experience in scripture is even though I know what the scriptures say – even though I have the Holy Spirit within me, even though I pray and study – there will be hard times in our lives. There will be times of doubt. There will be sadness. There will be despair – but for me personally – one of the scriptures through the death of Christ that was an “aha” moment is Mark 15:39 – And when the centurion, who stood there in front of Jesus, saw how he died, he said, “Surely this man was the Son of God!” My life application moment – realizing God can use bad things for His good. What comfort – lives were saved because of His death –
I believe the life application of forgiveness is one of the most freeing moments on the cross – and in our lives it is one of the most freeing moments to truly let go – when we do not forgive we allow for anger and bitterness to take root – we give satan a stronghold over our lives – we must forgive those who have not only hurt us but we need and must forgive ourselves for the things we have done to hurt others. If we say we aren’t worthy of forgiving ourselves then we are saying we are bigger than God and that makes God a liar – whoa is the man who calls God a liar.
And then there is the resurrection – the game changer. No other “god” has defeated death. No other human can do what Christ did. He paved the way – and because of His resurrection from the dead we have Hope. We are offered eternal life. We are offered a victorious life! Because of Christ’s resurrection we have a Hope that far outweighs our hurts – a Hope that will carry us – a Hope that will use our challenges and hurts as stepping stones and a means to help others through similar tragedies. Another life application.
I believe if we spend all our time only memorizing scriptures and stories but we never apply them to our hearts and use them in our day to day lives then we are missing the boat. I promise I am not taking away from the sacrifice my Jesus made for me – but I asked God to show me years ago how all this applies to my life – and He showed me by making it relational. Intimate. Personal. He showed me how to take scriptures and apply them to my day to day life – giving me heart knowledge and life application and not just head knowledge that does nothing for me.
I don’t know where you are in this spectrum of life – there is no doubt some will read this and chuckle that one would believe such a “story”. There are those that say I am weak minded for surrendering my life to Christ. There are others that simply believe in Jesus with no want or need to have anything more than fire protection. But today, there are others that are walking through hard times right now and have a choice to make – you can lean on Him and dig deeper in the Word and use your story for God’s glory or stay angry, discouraged, confused, and bitter. I supposed this post is more for you than anyone – dig deeper. Even if you don’t want to but know you need to – our Lord is a big – big God. He can handle anything you throw at Him – Are you angry at Him? Tell Him. Are you hurting and blame God? Tell Him. Are you depressed, bitter, and consumed by whoa’s? Tell Him. I have found in my personal darkest days those brutal honesty moments gave me the biggest life application moments that I still carry with me – they have been my turning points that have given me the comfort of knowing He truly is with me and while I do not believe God causes bad things to happen, I do believe He can use all things for His good.
This has been one of the most awkward posts I’ve written – I have questioned and doubted what any of this can do to help anyone other than myself – but it is one that the Lord wouldn’t let me put down – so if it’s for you – you are loved – you are valuable – you are made for a purpose – you are not alone – and today – as we reflect on Good Friday – as we mourn the dark days – remember always – Sunday’s comin’ –
He’s my King –