Be Numbered 

“With Him they also crucified two robbers, one on His right and the other on His left. So the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “And He was numbered with the transgressors.””

Mark 15:27-28 

They say, "Bad company corrupts good character." We are always warned about the people we spend time with. However, Jesus seemed to be always hanging out with bad characters. In fact, many of the religious leaders ridiculed him for spending time with tax collectors and sinners. So, it's not surprising that in his death, just as in life, he was numbered with the transgressors.

His mission for hanging with the messy was to be a light in their darkness. Even on the cross, Jesus' presence was felt. One rejected and one received Him. Jesus' mission wasn’t complete until He said it was finished and He gave up the ghost. 

We have a mission to take up our cross and to engage into the messy lives of others for the sake of the gospel. Our mission is finished when we give up the ghost. This is the passion week. Take a moment this week and pray for those who need to hear about the gospel. Then engage in their lives. Maybe it’s a simple invitation to Easter service this week. Be numbered with those in need of the gospel, just like Jesus was.

I’m Here

“No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life; as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you nor forsake you.”

Joshua 1:5 

The greatest leaps of faith start with a small step forward.  God’s promise is always “I’m here!” Joshua was about to lead the people into the Promised Land. These were not the same people who had exited Egypt forty years earlier. They had passed away. This was now a new generation acting in faith. 

The greatest hindrance of progress in faith is fear. Therefore the Lord affirmed Joshua about his future with a strong affirmation of His presence. "Joshua as I was with Moses, I will be with you. I will not leave you or forsake you. I’m here."

The Lord has always been Immanuel, “God with us”. His character has never changed. Today, no matter what your future holds, God will never leave you nor forsake you! He will always be our Defender of Righteousness. Just as He promised Joshua, we have the same promise... “I’m here!” Reach out to embrace His presence in your life. Trust Him to be faithful in where He is leading you. Trust Him to be faithful in where He is leading us as a church family. Take that small step forward and soon you'll find yourself in the midst of a great leap of faith.

Redeeming King

“Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel.”

Isaiah 7:14 NKJV

As a parent, one of the greatest privileges we have is naming our children. Oftentimes those are to reflect the character of that child, for example my son's name is Ryan and it means "Little King". Our prayer is that he lives up to that name as a leader directing others to the true Leader, Jesus.

Isaiah the prophet spoke of a Deliverer who was to come. The prophet revealed the identity of a coming, redeeming King. This King's name is Immanuel, which translates “God with us”. (Matthew 1:23) This king went on to make a promise to us that He will never leave us or forsake us. We find great hope in the promises of God!

Today we worship this King who was prophesied of thousand of years ago by Isaiah. We bear witness of Him now to others. We testify of the "With Us" God who is still redeeming His people.

You Are Not Forgotten

“You saw the affliction of our fathers in Egypt, And heard their cry by the Red Sea.”

Nehemiah 9:9

Parents develop an ear for the cries of their own children. They can distinguish their own child's cry from another child's cry. In the same way, our Heavenly Father is very familiar with the cries of His children.

The children of Israel were in affliction for over a hundred forty years in Egypt. They were beaten down and oppressed by the taskmaster of Egypt. 

In all those years God never forgot his children and led them through the Red Sea to set the captives free. He heard their cry and answered at the right time.

God our Father hears our cries and our petitions. When you feel like you're backed in a corner and have no way out, look up! Let your requests be known to God. Cry out to Him! God will guard your heart, His Word will direct your steps, and His presence will give you peace. 

Remember, when you are facing obstacles and hard times that God is with you. He hears you. You are not forgotten. 

Flooded

“And did not spare the ancient world, but saved Noah, one of eight people, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood on the world of the ungodly;”

II Peter 2:5 

Has there been a time in your life that you were called on a to perform an important task? God called upon Noah to perform a task that would affect the whole world. He was called upon to build an ark because a flood would come to destroy the known world for its wickedness. In addition, Noah was known as a preacher of righteousness. For 120 years he preached to the known world about the coming judgment and no one listened. 

He and his family would be saved from the coming judgment because of faith. In the same way, we are secure in salvation because of our faith and saved from the coming judgment.  

My challenge today is that we flood the world with the good news of faith, hope and love. I want for us to pray for people to be immersed by His overwhelming love. Pray that the washing of His word would bring about a new hope and that many would come to faith in Christ. Be ready to share, just as Noah did, faithfully and regardless of the outcome.

One's Obedience

“For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so also by one Man’s obedience many will be made righteous.” Romans 5:19 NKJV

I remember when I was on the basketball team in high school. We would do pay up drills. This was a simple layup, but if one missed the shot the entire team would have to run a lap because the mistake of one affected the whole team.

The actions of one couple in the garden affected all of humanity. Adam and Eve chose to disobey the Lord's command, “But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” (Genesis 2:17) This choice touched us all and led to the sinful state of humanity. We are all trapped in sinfulness.

However, the hope of redemption came when the act of One's obedience redeemed us who were lost. Jesus' sacrifice reversed death's sting. By faith we can be free of the curse of the fall and instead be eligible for eternal life! We are now recipients of His inheritance.  By faith we are made righteous by the act of God coming as a man who never sinned to pay the death price for those who had sinned. This payment made us not only free from sin and its consequences but also made us righteous! We are now right with God.

Jesus Christ is our second Adam, our redemption, the reverse of the curse. If you haven't yet, put your faith in Christ's work today. If you have, thank Jesus again for being obedient unto death to make you righteous.

Walking Like Jesus

“For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” Ephesians 2:10 NKJV

Did you ever play follow the leader? You had to copy the leader in everything he or she did. We were to mimic or emulate that leader or we would be disqualified from the game.

Well, in some sense we’re created to follow our leader or walk like Jesus. Though we may fall short sometimes, we are covered by grace and not disqualified from the prize. 

This walk like Jesus is God’s way to refine us and develop us, we are His workmanship or His piece of art. Like clay in the potter's hand being shaped into Christ’s image and likeness.

The purpose is to do the kingdom work that He has created us for. We have been given gifts to be part of His family and have been empowered by His Spirit to fulfill His great commission. That good work is to love Him and love others with the Gospel. So let’s follow the footsteps of Jesus and walk like Him. 


Royal Rule

"If you really fulfill the royal law according to the scripture, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself," you do well;" James 2:8

Growing up you were often told to do to others what you wanted done to you. This was the Golden Rule. But James speaks of another rule called the Royal Rule. James, Jesus' half brother, shares with us through his writing, probably because he often heard this from his brother "to love your neighbor as yourself."

We are commanded throughout scripture to love our neighbor without partiality because that is sin. James capitalizes on this thought in his writings as the marginalized were being oppressed by the rich and those with power. 

We live in a very divided nation at this time and James gives us the answer to the healing of our nation. He says you will do well to love your neighbor as yourself. Wellness, I find it interesting that in chapter 5 of James he speaks about illness and sickness. Maybe our illness as a nation is not living out royal law of loving our neighbor; that has caused the sickness of racism, oppression, elitism and corruption. Maybe that’s  because we may have a poor image of ourselves.

James states that if we confess our sins and pray for one another, healing will take place. Making a confession of not being neighborly will start the healing process of our land and loving those around us who are different than us will bring down walls not build them up. 

So remember the Royal Rule and it will be well with you. 

Pattern Yourself

“Dear brothers and sisters, pattern your lives after mine, and learn from those who follow our example.” Philippians 3:17 NLT

Tracing paper is what we used to copy pictures. It was a light, see through paper that we would lay over an original picture and then we would trace the figure and get a replica of the figure.  

Paul the Apostle is saying that Jesus is the figure that we are to replicate and His life is the tracing paper of that figure and there are others who have replicated him also. 

In the scriptures, and in real time, we have models that we can follow as examples of Jesus. Who is it that you can look to as an example of Jesus? God has given us these examples for our learning and encouragement in our own personal walk. So, let’s follow Jesus together as a pattern for others who are watching. 


Living Sacrifice

“And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him.” Romans 12:1 NLT


People will sacrifice a lot for what they want. They will sacrifice marriage and family. They will sacrifice character, they will sacrifice friends for their own personal gain.

But Christ calls us to a different kind of sacrifice. A sacrifice that benefits everyone. It’s a sacrifice that gives life. 

Paul the apostle is encouraging the believers in Rome to offer up their lives to God. It is not a physical sacrifice that we might picture, but one that means we are willing to submit our lives fully to Him. It’s a living sacrifice, meaning we are willing to sacrifice our will for His, our plans for His plan, our desires become His desires. That’s what Holy living is.

This sacrifice is an act of worship in light of God’s goodness and mercy. This sacrifice will resurrect your marriage, relationships and family.

This is the only sacrifice that pays off, it is the only sacrifice that will make your heart full, it is the only sacrifice that will bring great joy. So, lay down your life to find life.

Perfect Peace

“You will keep him in perfect peace, Whose mind is stayed on You because he trusts in You. Trust in the LORD forever, For in YAH, the LORD, is everlasting strength.” Isaiah 26:3-4 NKJV

Imagine you were asked the question, "What if you could have anything in the world?" What would that be for you? Right away some might say money, wealth or fame, but many would say, peace of mind, happiness or health. The psalmist reveals two things that will bring perfect peace; focus, and faith.

Our focus is crucial to maintaining the peace we desire. Conflict is the opposite of peace. Much of the battle we face first starts in the mind, that’s why we need to renew our minds. But the Psalmist tells us our minds are to be "stayed on" the Lord, meaning we need to "rest" or "lean" on the Lord. When conflict arises, our support comes when we focus on the promise of the Lord. Here the promise is, The Lord will keep us in perfect peace. The Lord is the Sustainer and Provider of the peace we seek. God IS our peace.

So, we need to put our faith in the One who gives us peace. We put our trust in "Yah" and in Him we have everlasting strength. A supernatural strength that never ends. We can endure because our strength comes from the One who we put our faith in.

So today if you are facing fear, anxiety or stress, remember to focus on His promise and put your faith in Christ. He alone is our perfect peace.