Archive for the ‘Joy’ Category


1. Life with Christ is an exchanged life, not a changed life.

Change is good, but with God, exchanging is better. We are new creations in Christ. The old man is crucified. The life lived in the flesh cannot please God. If we are Christ’s we must crucify the flesh with its affections and desires. We must learn to walk in the Spirit. This is the power of Paul’s life. Paul, though his outward man perished, his inward man was renewed day by day. This is how he could boast that

Galatians 2:20 I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

This was no boast, for it was reality from necessity. There was no way Paul could keep doing what he was doing without exchanging his life for the life of Jesus Christ.

Paul was an overcomer not because of his abilities or resolve, but through the exchange of his life for the life of Christ. Are you stuck in your walk with Jesus? Is your life more about defeats than victories? Then you must be honest with God and tell Him you cannot overcome. You must die to your self-effort, and exchange your life for the victorious life of Jesus Christ.

2. Life with Christ is a gift, not a reward.

 1 Corinthians 15:57 But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

We never struggle to receive the new birth. We simply believe we have it when we repent and by faith trust in Christ for the forgiveness of our sins. If our life with Christ begins with the acceptance of His free gift, why should our walk with Christ be any different? If life in Christ is living in the Spirit, what makes us think we can maintain our relationship through fleshly efforts? Our walk with Christ is not one of constantly reaching for the golden ring. Our walk with Christ is one of simply seeing the ring is already in our hands. We have the gift of victory already. To strive to win is an exercise in fleshly futility! This life is lived in the victory already secured! We walk by faith in Christ, not by sight!

Just as a sinner cannot save himself by his works, neither can you become a saint by your works! As Paul realized, all his works were as filthy rags! If you want victory in your life, open your eyes to the power of Christ which is at work in you by faith! The victory is yours by faith!

3. Life with Christ is obtained, not attained

Spiritual Overcomers realize victory is obtained, never sought after. As soon as you try to win, you have lost, for you are relying on your fleshly efforts.

Romans 5:17 For if, because of one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ.

Reigning in this life can only be through faith in the finished work and victory of Jesus Christ. How can you be so conceited that it is up to you to obtain. When an Overcomer looks back upon his life, he realizes it was all through the grace of Christ. This is the revelation of 1 Corinthians 1:30. Everything we need to live this Christian life is provided to us IN CHRIST!

1 Corinthians 1:30 And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption…

We have already obtained victory, righteousness and sanctification IN CHRIST!

4. True Life with Christ is a Miracle

 Philippians 2:13 for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.

An Overcomer sees the power of God at work in his life. An overcomer realizes that this life is an ongoing miracle of God’s grace at work! His eyes have been opened to see “what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly place,” as Paul prayed in Ephesians 1:19-20.

God is actively at work in our lives, so that we might be trophies of His grace, and not our self-effort. Our effort must be submitted and join with His. Our eyes must be opened to the daily miracles He is working in our life. We can never overcome unless God performs a miracle!

Take your struggles with anger. No matter how many times you count to ten, the anger is still resident within you. It is suppressed; it is affecting your health. Only God can take that anger away. When you realize it is a miracle of God, and that He is able to overcome that sin, indeed, Christ has already overcome that sin; you can rest and rejoice in the miracle of God’s deliverance. Life with Christ is a miracle when our eyes are open to see it that way!

5. Life with Christ is expression and not suppression

Most Christians experience victory over sin by “suppression.” It is not a matter of deliverance, but of control. Our inward life is unaffected. We seem changed on the outside, but within there is a struggle. Suppressed living for a Christian results in “internal bleeding” which can go on for years, until something happens to reveal the seriousness of condition. This is not the life that Christ wants us to experience. Christ wants to express Himself through our life. Christ lives within us, and He wants to manifest His peace, love and joy in reality to those around us. There is no such thing as tight-lipped Christianity. Our lips are to be free to express, for Christ is expressing His life through us.

Romans 8:2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.

We are set free in Jesus Christ! “For freedom Christ has set us free!” Life with Christ is freedom and expression, not suppression. If you are fighting for control of your soul, then Christ does not reign over your soul.

Can you see this victory you have in Christ? Can you believe in His word? Becoming an overcomer is as definite as becoming a Christian. There is no maybe about it. When you pass from death to life, you know it. When you pass from defeat to trusting in the victory in Christ, you know it!


Jesus rebukes His disciples for their unbelief

Mark 16:14-18 Afterward he appeared to the eleven themselves as they were reclining at table, and he rebuked them for their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they had not believed those who saw him after he had risen. And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. And these signs will accompany those who believe: in my name they will cast out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up serpents with their hands; and if they drink any deadly poison, it will not hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover.”

The disciples were reclining. They were at ease in their unbelief. They were more concerned about their bellies than they were their hard hearts. Jesus rebuked them for their unbelief and hardness of heart. They had refused to believe the report that Jesus was risen and alive!

The disciples were allowing a fleshly thing to cloud a spiritual reality. Their focus on what was in the past hardened their heart to what was true in the now! This is true of Christians today. We feed our hearts on what God has not done or failed to do. Whenever we dwell on what has not happened, we foster the atmosphere for the spirit of offense and bitterness to arise and then thrive. When we dwell on what has not happened, we legitimize unbelief. We even excuse unbelief as normal. So we promote a sense of justification for not believing God.

Jesus rebuked that attitude in His disciples. He rebukes that attitude now! That attitude and thinking has to die! Christians are at ease in their unbelief. They are reclining at the table of fleshly attitudes and thinking. While we feed our bellies, the world is crying out for spiritual truth that will change their lives. While we are content in our unbelief our neighbors are crying out for something worth believing in.

Too often the Church focuses on keeping people from “sin” instead of taking people into their destiny with the power of the risen Christ. Churches that provide excuses for falling short of and not believing the power of Christ are merely promoters of “religion,” for God’s Word says religion is “form without power!” (2 Tim 3:5)

The area of our greatest unbelief is in our prayers. So much of the content of our praying is for things we already possess in Christ, but fail to believe. So we labor to ask God for things we already have. We expose our unbelief through our boring prayers. We fail to ask God for things we do not possess because we fail to believe what God has given us. No wonder prayer is laborious and cursory to most Christians. No wonder there is a prevailing attitude that their prayers never reach the ceiling! Our prayers are often exercises in unbelief!

Churches are to be houses of prayer. The God purpose of prayer is to produce JOY in the experience of the believer.

John 16:24 Until now you have asked nothing in my name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.

Prayer is not to twist God’s arm, or to make us seem more spiritual. Prayer is to encourage our belief in the reality of Jesus. Jesus wants prayer to take us into fullness of JOY! JOY is the currency of Heaven! God reserves JOY as the reward for the suffering. Christ endured the cross for the JOY that was set before Him. The reality of Christ will deposit the currency of heaven in our lives. JOY is the currency of Heaven! JOY is the result of prayer! Jesus says to all faithful servants who live with His power in their lives, “Well done…enter into the joy of your master.” (Matthew 25:23)

God wants us to feast on belief in the power of the Name of Jesus. Prayer is designed to be a breakthrough into His heavenly JOY! Prayer is the expenditure of belief in return for the heavenly currency. If we pray only for that which we already possess, we will never experience the breakthrough of JOY. We will never discover the riches of God’s heavenly currency!

Never allow our prayers to contradict what God has already promised. Our unbelief closes heaven’s resources to us. Closed heavens are between our ears. Failure to know JOY is between our ears! We limit our God because our unbelief does not want to take hold of His power and JOY, even when He is standing in front of us with outstretched arms!

This is why Paul prayed so fervently for us:

Ephesians 1:18-19 having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might…

Paul saw Jesus, saw His power, and saw that power in His life. Paul experienced JOY even in prison, even in the stockades, even holding flotsam in the middle of the ocean. Paul’s eyes were opened and his heart was on fire for the realities of Jesus Christ! He could see the greatness of the power within Him, the same power that raised Jesus from the grave.  Paul never reclined in unbelief after that vision.

Our Vision should FIRE our Heart!

Christians have no excuse for not seeing the same vision. The vision is there for all to see. If we fail to believe, the hardness of our heart is exposed.

When Jesus was baptized, Matthew writes, “immediately he went up from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened to him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on him” (Matthew 3:16). The picture is of the heavens being divided, rolled back, suddenly exposing the power of the heavenlies, and allowing the Holy Spirit to descend upon Jesus. Stephen saw the heavens rolled back and gazed upon the Glory of God and His Son. The truth is that the heavens have been opened to all Christians! The Holy Spirit has been given to all Christians. The Glory of God is for all Christians. We have the Holy Spirit living within us, a gift from our Savior!

Our Father is jealous for us to know the power of the Holy Spirit within us. He earnestly desires us to belief and experience His JOY!

James 4:5 Or do you suppose it is to no purpose that the Scripture says, “He yearns jealously over the spirit that he has made to dwell in us”?

We live under an open heaven. The heavens are rolled back revealing the Power of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit lives in every believer, but his POWER is not upon every believer. Luke 4:1 says that Jesus left the Jordan River full of the Holy Spirit. But he did not have the POWER of the Holy Spirit until He believed the Word of God in His confrontation with Satan in the wilderness.

Are You Aware of the Power within You?

The Holy Spirit is in us eternally, but His POWER is not opened to us unless we believe. When we allow the wilderness of this world to influence our believing, we fail to see the power of the Spirit. We fail to influence the wilderness around us. We fail to alter the environment around us. Men who believed in the POWER of Christ influenced the environment into which they were placed. Stephen had a profound effect upon those angry men. Paul had an astounding effect upon prisoners, towns people, and even hardened Roman Soldiers.

Christians must learn how to “host” the presence of God such that He is always before us, influencing the environment of every place we step into. What we are conscious of, we are positioned to manifest. What we are aware of, we are able to release. If we are not conscious and aware of the POWER of God within us, we will never be able to influence those around us. The Gospel is not a ministry of words. The Gospel is the ministry of Power because of the presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives.  The Gospel is the ministry of releasing the presence of the Holy Spirit in the whole earth. We will never release that which we are unaware of.

A woman who had struggled for years with an issue of blood made a “demand” upon Christ. In desperation she reached out among the throng to touch the “hem of His garment.” She made a demand for her life. In spite of all the people pressing around Him, Christ was so aware of the Spirit’s presence that He instantly knew when a demand was made to which the Spirit responded. If we are not intensely aware of the Holy Spirit within our lives, we will have nothing to offer those around us who are desperately seeking power for their lives. They are overwhelmed, they are needy, and we have no life-giving power to offer them.

A demand was made upon Peter. Peter confessed he had no silver or gold, but Peter was intensely aware of what he did possess. Peter had life in Christ, and He was willing to share that POWER with the beggar at the gate. Peter said “what I do have I will give you.”

Write a HUGE Check with Heavenly Currency!

Peter knew a heavenly currency that the world knows nothing about. Peter wrote a HUGE check because he knew what he possessed (Acts 3:6). Most Christians can only write tiny checks because our unbelief has obscured what we possess.

We live with such ignorance of what we possess. We possess the very “Kingdom of God.” The one who freed us from our sins, at the same time made us a Kingdom, Priests to His God and Father (Rev 1:6). Jesus said “the words that I speak to you are spirit and life.” (John 6:63)

John 6:63 It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life.

Jesus, being the very logos (word), spoke the Spirit and Life where ever He journeyed. When Christ spoke, His words became the Spirit and brought LIFE to those who believed. When we believe in the Words of Christ, and speak them into the world, we impart the Spirit to our environment, and we impart LIFE to those who believe.

We are Kingdom builders through the POWER that is in us. This Kingdom is not in food or drink, but is righteousness, peace and JOY in the Holy Spirit (Romans 14:17).

When we are aware of the power that lies within us, and we exercise that power in faith, we are building the Kingdom by bringing people to the LIFE in Christ. We are dispensing the heavenly currency of JOY to those around us.

When you are handing out money, people stop and demand some. When you are handing out JOY, joy that this world is so hungry for, people will stop and demand it. The communities around the disciples took note of what they were handing out. They took note of where they went. They even brought the sick and lame into the streets to catch the shadow of Peter and be healed (Acts 5:15). Note: Your Shadow will always release what overshadows you! Peter was overshadowed by the Holy Spirit!

An unbelieving, defeated group of Christians will never see life brought to the dead in sin. They will never see miracles of God. Unbelief and defeat produces inward focused Christians, prone to depression and discouragement. When we turn inward we become a dead sea. An inward focused Christian is a dead Christian. An inward Christian is self-absorbed and self-centered. We need to be pre-occupied with who Christ is! With what Christ can do! We need to constantly release Him into every circumstance we encounter. We release His POWER by faith!

Don’t allow disappointments to obscure Revelation

So much of “Christianity” is based upon disappointment rather than revelation. We fail to see the Glory of God or the Power of His Son. Stephen saw the revelation in the midst of a downpour of stones. Paul saw the revelation in the midst of a hateful heart. John saw the revelation in the midst of loneliness and exile. The Revelation of Christ changes our environment. It changes our heart! Rather than being disappointed in what God fails to do for us, we need to focus on all that God has done for us!

Jesus said that if you see Him, you have seen the Father. So Jesus is the revelation of the nature and power of God. Jesus said that “all power” had been given to him in heaven and on earth (Matthew 28:18). His power is the basis of us going into the world. If we do not know His power by revelation, then we will be powerless if we go into the world. We will be overcome by the world!

Christ is in us as a River
Let Him Flow!

Powerlessness is inexcusable and unacceptable. The Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead is in you and he wants out. He is not in us as a lake, or a ‘dead sea’, but rather as a river. Rivers flow from. The nature and power of God becomes ours as a believer. We have to believe in our own conversion! We have to believe in the POWER that was given to Jesus and was given to us!

As Paul prayed, the Lord is releasing a spirit of wisdom and revelation so that we can actually rise to who He says we are! We cannot afford to rest in unbelief, nor can we afford to think thought that God never thinks about us. We must learn to meditate on the things the Holy Spirit can say “AMEN!” to.

Paul wrote that in order to serve God acceptably, our minds (that thing between our ears) must be renewed so that our lives are transformed. Our minds must come under the influence of the Holy Spirit. We must learn divine perspective in order to live the divine life.

This renewing of our mind can only come from a divine encounter with the POWER of God. We must see the revelation of Christ as the POWER in our life. Any creed or teaching that does not take us to the person of Jesus in a divine encounter will only make us more “religious.” It will only equip us to argue, not bring life into our environment.

When our beliefs line up with the POWER of Christ in us, we can take the Gospel into our communities without limits, without baggage that weighs it down and renders it powerless. We must have the experience of the Gospel that changes our lives, changes our thinking and makes us intensely aware of the divine POWER within us. Only then can we dispense the currency of heaven to those joyless souls around us.

(Inspired by Bill Johnson of Bethel Church)


Paul Harvey told about a 3-year-old boy who went to the grocery store with his mother. Before they entered the grocery store she said to him, “Now you’re not going to get any chocolate chip cookies, so don’t even ask.” She put him up in the cart & he sat in the little child’s seat while she wheeled down the aisles. He was doing just fine until they came to the cookie section. He saw the chocolate chip cookies & he stood up in the seat & said, “Mom, can I have some chocolate chip cookies?” She said, “I told you not even to ask. You’re not going to get any at all.” So he sat back down.

They continued down the aisles, but in their search for certain items they ended up back in the cookie aisle. “Mom, can I please have some chocolate chip cookies?” She said, “I told you that you can’t have any. Now sit down & be quiet.”

Finally, they were approaching the checkout lane. The little boy sensed that this may be his last chance. So just before they got to the line, he stood up on the seat of the cart & shouted in his loudest voice, “In the name of Jesus, may I have some chocolate chip cookies?” And everybody round about just laughed. Some even applauded.

And, according to Paul Harvey, due to the generosity of the other shoppers, the little boy & his mother left with 23 boxes of chocolate chip cookies.

In this note, we are going to discover all the boxes of chocolate chip cookies God gives us through His Son, Jesus Christ!

Let’s read Romans 5:1-11 in the Phillips translation, and perhaps we can get a glimpse of all we have through Jesus Christ:

“Since then it is by faith that we are justified, let us grasp the fact that we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have confidently entered into this new relationship of grace, and here we take our stand, in happy certainty of the glorious things he has for us in the future. This doesn’t mean, of course, that we have only a hope of future joys – we can be full of joy here and now even in our trials and troubles. Taken in the right spirit these very things will give us patient endurance; this in turn will develop a mature character, and a character of this sort produces a steady hope, a hope that will never disappoint us. Already we have some experience of the love of God flooding through our hearts by the Holy Spirit given to us. And we can see that it was while we were powerless to help ourselves that Christ died for sinful men. In human experience it is a rare thing for one man to give his life for another, even if the latter be a good man, though there have been a few who have had the courage to do it. Yet the proof of God’s amazing love is this: that it was while we were sinners that Christ died for us. Moreover, if he did that for us while we were sinners, now that we are men justified by the shedding of his blood, what reason have we to fear the wrath of God? If, while we were his enemies, Christ reconciled us to God by dying for us, surely now that we are reconciled we may be perfectly certain of our salvation through his living in us. Nor, I am sure, is this a matter of bare salvation – we may hold our heads high in the light of God’s love because of the reconciliation which Christ has made.

Don’t Overlook the Excitement of Paul. The New Living Translation reveals it in verse 11:

“So now we can rejoice in our wonderful new relationship with God because our Lord Jesus Christ has made us friends of God.”

We have a WONDERFUL NEW RELATIONSHIP with God through Jesus!

Martin Luther wrote…In the whole Bible there is hardly another chapter which can equal this triumphant text!

W E Vine observes that the fifth chapter shows what we have THROUGH CHRIST, while the sixth shows us what we are IN CHRIST. “THROUGH CHRIST” is the keynote of chapter five. Chapter 5 unfolds the subjects of the effects of the death and resurrection of Christ…(as Paul so richly described in Romans 3:21-25). (Vine, W. Collected writings of W. E. Vine. Nashville: Thomas Nelson

Romans is a book of supernatural logic which is knitted together with a fine thread of “therefore’s” (term of conclusion)…

  • Therefore of giving over – Ro 1:24
  • Therefore of condemnation Ro 3:20
  • Therefore of justification – Ro 5:1
  • Therefore of no condemnation – Ro 8:1
  • Therefore of dedication – Ro 12:1

Paul reveals the main thrust of Romans in chapter 1, verses 16-17: “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.”

The gospel of Jesus Christ is the means of our DAILY salvation, whereby the righteousness of God becomes our righteousness!

The Power of God is on Display

Paul began Romans with the Power of God on display, the power to bring sinful man into a right and righteous relationship with God! Romans 5 reveals that this is all TROUGH Jesus Christ and how marvelous the benefits of that Right Relationship are! The result of Chapter 5 is that God now puts His Children of Faith on Display!

The word “therefore” reaches back to the contents of chapter four — therefore being justified (made righteous-the righteousness of God), not by works (1-8), not by rituals (9-12), not by obedience to the law (13-25), but by faith (our belief in the truth of God), we have peace. Your works, your rituals, even your following the law will never bring peace to your heart and soul.

All that follows from the 5th chapter, 1st verse to the end of the 8th chapter describes the fruit or results of justification, the inheritance of those who are justified. Having been justified by faith, that which Paul now discusses, chapters 6, 7 and 8, shall be true of us.

We must fully understand and envision what Christ has done for us if we are to live the Christian life that Paul will detail in Romans 6,7 and 8!

THEREFORE (Through Faith in Jesus Christ):

I. The Reality of Justification by Faith

To begin with, Paul sees justification as an accomplished work, “Therefore being justified,” or “since we are justified.” Justification is not hypothetical, not just a vague possibility, but a present reality for him who trusts in JESUS CHRIST. Justification is:

1. A legal declaration of righteousness. It isn’t that a sinner is merely made to ‘feel’ righteous in a subjective way. Rather, God “declares” the sinner to be objectively righteous in a forensic or judicial sense — regardless of his or her feelings.

2. A genuine righteousness.

  • God doesn’t simply decide to overlook the sinner’s sinfulness and “pretend” that he or she is righteous when that really isn’t the case;
  • He doesn’t simply “cover up” the sinner with the righteousness of Jesus in such a way as to conceal his or her real condition of sinfulness from His eyes — as though simply covering him or her with a “righteousness” coating.
  • When God justifies a sinner, He declares that sinner to be made really, genuinely, completely righteous, because that sinner is “in Christ.”

3. An imputation of righteousness.

  • To “impute” something means to ‘attribute’ it or ‘credit’ it to something or someone else.
  • If, for example, I had a ‘zero’ balance in my checking account, I would draw some money out of my savings account and have it “imputed” or “credited” or “attributed” to my checking account.
  • The only way that the checking account could have cash value is if it is “imputed” into it from another account.
  • When God justifies a sinner, he or she is not made “righteous” on the basis of anything that they do — nor on the basis of anything God enables them to do.
  • God completely “imputes” genuine righteousness to them — “attributing” it to them, or “crediting” it to their account.

4. A righteousness through faith as opposed to works.

  • Sinners are not “justified” on the basis of their faith — or on the basis of any other work they could do, for that matter.
  • They’re declared righteous before God on the basis of two things: that their sins were placed onto Jesus when He died on the cross; and that His perfect obedience and righteousness imputed to them — He became sin for them (and died in their place); and they became the righteousness of God in Him.
  • Faith isn’t the cause of justification;
  • Faith is the means by which the sinner comes into possession of that imputed righteousness.

As it says of Abraham in Gen. 15:6, when God made the promise to him that, even though he was childless, he would one day have as many children as the stars in heaven, “Then he believed the LORD; and He reckoned it to him as righteousness

Paul reinforces the proof of justification with three strong propositions:

  • Verse 6, “For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.”
  • Verse 8, “while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”
  • Verse 10, “When we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son.”

II. The Results of Justification by Faith

1.  Peace with God

Romans 5:1 (KJV) Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ:

A sign in front of a church said, “If life is a puzzle, look here for the missing peace” and spelled that last word p-e-a-c-e!

“It means to be in a relationship w/God in which all hostility caused by sin has been removed!”(Shepherds Notes, p 33)

ἔχωμεν- let us have (Word Studies)= let us grasp the fact that we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Peace (eirene from verb eiro = to join or bind together that which has been separated) literally pictures the binding or joining together again of that which had been separated or divided and thus setting at one again, a meaning convey by the common expression of one “having it all together”.

  • “For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us; having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace” (Ephes. 2:14-15).
  • “And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven” (Col. 1:20).
  • harmonized relationship between God and man (Vine’s).

D L Moody..A great many people are trying to make peace, but that has already been done. God has not left it for us to do; all we have to do is to enter into it

2.  Continuous Access to God’s Grace (place of privilege)

Romans 5:2a (KJV) By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand…

It is only through Christ that we have access into this grace. The word “access” (prosagōgēn) means to bring to, to move to, to introduce, to present. The thought is that of being in a royal court and being presented and introduced to the King of kings. Jesus Christ is the One who throws open the door into God’s presence. He is the One who presents us to God, the Sovereign Majesty of the universe. POSB

It can refer to one’s “introduction” into a relationship or it can refer to “ongoing access” in an existing relationship. Paul’s use of the same term in Ephesians 2:18; 3:12 seems to suggest that what is in view in Romans 5:2 is continued access to God, and not so much on the initial introduction into the relationship.

A. Wonderful Grace

He hasn’t merely reconciled us to Himself and then left it up to us to keep ourselves in that state. He has placed us “in Christ”; and in Him, we have been made “the righteousness of God” And being in that state of righteousness, it’s only by His grace that we stay that way!

B. Continuous Access

  • Through Jesus Christ His Son, we “have obtained (place of continuous access to God).
  • We are not left to ourselves to keep from wandering in and out of God’s favor all the time. We’ve been introduced to a state of favor before Him through Christ; and in Christ, it’s in this state of favor that, by being in Christ, we forever “stand”!
  • Paul wrote to the Galatian church about this very issue.
    • The Christians in Galatia were fearful that, even though they were brought into God’s favor by His grace, they needed to keep the old Jewish ceremonies of the Old Testament in order to stay in God’s favor.
    • Paul wrote to them very strongly and urged them not to place themselves under those rules and ceremonies.
    • “Are you so foolish?”, he asked them; “Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?” (Gal. 3:3).
    • “It was for freedom that Christ set you free,” he reminded them; “therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery” (5:1).

3.  Hope of the Glory of God

Romans 5:2b (KJV) …and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.

We have a Whole New Outlook.

We now share together with Christ in His glory. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is” (1 John 3:2).That prospect comes from being “in Christ”. Jesus Himself prayed to the Father, “The glory which You have given Me I have given to them, that they may be one, just as we are one; I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected in unity, so that the world may know that You sent Me, and loved them, even as You have loved Me” (John 17:22-23). It’s not called a “hope” because we merely hope it will happen. Paul’s meaning is that it’s a “hope” in the sense of a certain expectation;

Romans 8:29-30, “whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified.”

Those whom God has justified will also be glorified!

I heard about an old, saintly Christian gentleman who said, “I may not be much to look at right now; but one day, I’m goin’ on parade!!”

4.  Rejoicing in Trials

Romans 5:3-5a (KJV) 3 And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation(thilipsis-pressure) worketh patience(endurance, constancy); 4 And patience, experience(dokimos-approved); and experience, hope: 5 And hope(elpis-anticipate with confidence) maketh not ashamed…

Tribulation = word that means to “squeeze” or “press” something; Picture of pressing circumstances or distressing hardships. “It describes distress that is brought on by outward circumstances.” Look at the way God uses the “pressure times” in the life of someone that He has declared “righteous” before Him.

A. Tribulations produce “perseverance” or “patient endurance”.

  • Endurance-constancy
  • They produce the quality of learning to trust in God and wait upon Him, relying upon His strength in the knowledge that He has nothing in mind for us but our good.
  • The capacity to endure calmly, confidently, & w/o complaint.” (J. Sidlow Baxter, Awake My Heart, p. 180)
  • Tribulation is a thorny tree, but it yields sweet fruit.
  • A guitar string only fulfills its purpose when it is removed from its old package, stretched as tight as it will go, & then plucked!
  • When a storm comes at sea, a ship turns to face the tempest. If the vessel allows the storm to hit its side, it will capsize. If it turns its back to the storm, the storm will drive it wherever the wind blows. Only in facing the storm is the ship safe.

God is not punishing us.

  • All our punishment has already gone onto Christ, and He took our punishment for us.
  • And what’s more, His righteousness before God was placed to our account.
  • What a difference between the man who crosses the finish line and the one who drops out of the race ten yards from the tape, between the fighter who fights until the bell rings and the one who throws in the towel

We are Justified with God, so there’s nothing left to think about our troubles and trials but as things that our sovereign God permits to come upon us in order to make us grow into the glorious image of Christ that He has predestined us “in Him” to be.

B. Perseverance produces “proven character.” (Reveals what we really are inside.)

  • Dokimos-approved coinage, approved soldier

The difficult times of life don’t make us into anything different — they just show us to be what we really are. If someone comes out of their trials a bitter person, it’s because, deep within, they were already bitter in the first place — and the circumstance simply proved their true character. If someone comes out of their trials with a sense of confidence in God, giving praise to Him for what He has done, it’s because God developed perseverance in them through the exercise of their faith in Him — and the circumstance simply proved their true character.

C. Proven character produces “hope”.

  • Confident Anticipation that it will be worth it all!
  • This “hope” is the praise we’ll receive from Jesus for having been faithful to Him — even while undergoing a time of trial; His “Well done!”
  • This is a hope that “does not disappoint”, as it says in verse 5, “because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.”
  • It’s a hope that already has a guarantee of victory to it because He already loves us! All this, because He has declared us righteous in Christ!!
    • The present in no way jeopardizes the future (5:5).
    • Paul’s emphasis here is that in light of justification and the indwelling Spirit, God can actually use our difficult experiences in life to work a deeper hope in us—i.e., a deeper longing for him and desire to experience him.

5.  Confidence in God’s Love for us

Romans 5:5b-8 (KJV) 5 … the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us. 6 For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. 7 For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. 8 But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

A.God Loves us the Same as His Son

“O righteous Father, although the world has not known You, yet I have known You; and these have known that you sent Me; and I have made Your name known to them, and will make it known, so that the love with which You loved Me may be in them, and I in them” (17:25-26).

In fact, Jesus even prayed that the extent of God’s great love for us would become clearly known; “… that the world may know,” He prayed, “that You sent Me, and loved them, even as You have loved Me” (John 17:23).
How can we help but gasp when we read that — that the Father loves us as much as He loves His own Son Jesus!!

Billy Graham said: “When we preach atonement, it is atonement planned by love, provided by love, given by love, finished by love, necessitated because of love. – When we preach the resurrection of Christ, we are preaching the miracle of love. When we preach the return of Christ, we are preaching the fulfillment of love.”

B. The Love of God is the Hope of the Weak and Powerless

Hope always burns brightly in those whose character has been developed through overcoming trials.

  • Paul is not talking about the objective love of God shown to us in the cross (3:25; 5:8), but rather the subjective apprehension (i.e., in our hearts) of God’s love. For Paul this is primarily an emotional experience with a force greater than the doubt inflicted through trials (cf. Phil 4:6-7).
  • Hope is not the tuition we pay as we enroll in the school of adversity. Rather, it is the diploma awarded to those who by the grace of God do well on the tests.

Priest and poet George Herbert wrote in The Temple (1593-1633), “He who lives in hope dances without music.”

How do we experience this great love as displayed by Jesus? We experience it as the Holy Spirit makes it known in our hearts. He literally “shed’ the love of God into our lives. As we place our faith in the blood of Jesus, the Love of God flows into our hearts and lives.!

  • There is a saying among Italian sculptors, who often miss the chisel and hit their own hands with the hammer: “When the blood flows out, the mastery enters.”
  • It was so with Jesus. It was his death on Calvary that made him the master of our souls. “There is power in the blood.”

6.  A Living Salvation

Romans 5:9-10 (KJV) 9 Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him. 10 For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.

A. Saved by His Life: we will also be completely saved from sin and death by Christ’s resurrection life and our union with him

Salvation is not a one time thing that happens by our faith in a past action. Salvation is an ongoing process which is undertaken by our LIVING SAVIOR! His live becomes our life! His righteousness becomes our righteousness! Our Salvation will be consummated when our physical bodies are resurrected! Then we can truly say, “O death, where is your sting?”

If He so loved us when we were still sinners — which is the far greater thing; then now that we’ve been declared righteous by Him out of His love for us, He will surely spare us from His wrath against sin — which is the lessor thing. Just as God is gracious and ready to forgive, He is also just and is fully prepared to pour out His wrath on sinners that will not receive His merciful offer, but who continue to defiantly rebel against Him.

B. There Will be A Judgment

He declares His own character to Moses in this way: “The LORD, the LORD God, compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in lovingkindness and truth; who keeps lovingkindness for thousands, who forgives iniquity, transgression and sin; yet He will by no means leave the guilty upunished, visiting the iniquity of fathers on the children and on the grandchildren to the third and fourth generations” (Exodus 34:6-7).

This gives us cause to stop and remember that while He is always and ever ready to forgive any sinner that cries out to Him, “God, be merciful to me, the sinner!”; He still remains a holy God and will not put up with sin. To those who will not turn from their sins and receive His gracious offer of “justification by faith”, there remains this warning of His wrath.

7.  Friendship with God

Romans 5:11 (KJV) And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement.

A. Our New Life in our Living Savior allows us to offer praise to God

“But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; for once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy” (1 Peter 2:9-10).

B. Our New Life in our Living Savior allows us to Rejoice in our Relationship with God

Revelation 7:15-17; “… they serve Him day and night in His temple; and He who sits on the throne will spread His tabernacle over them. They will hunger no longer, nor thirst anymore; nor will the sun beat down on them, nor any heat; for the Lamb in the center of the throne will be their shepherd, and will guide them to springs of the water of life; and God will wipe every tear from their eyes.”

C. Our New Life in our Living Savior allows us to enjoy the experience of ever-satisfying, ever-thrilling, ever-expanding fellowship with Him for all eternity.

  • John 10:10 (ESV) The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.
  • John 17:3 (ESV) And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.
  • John 15:14-15 (ESV) 14 You are my friends if you do what I command you. 15 No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you.

The Three Phases of Redemption

In these short eleven verses, Paul gives us the three phases of our redemption:

1. Justification, (freedom from guilt, imputation of righteousness);
2. Sanctification, the operation of righteousness and grace received when justified, which results in Christian growth
3. Glorification – the resurrection of our glorified body to dwell with God for all eternity

  • Justification, the beginning of the Christian experience;
  • Sanctification, the development of the Christian experience;
  • Glorification, the consummation of the Christian experience.

The Pit and the Pendulum

Edgar Allen Poe wrote a horrifying story set in a dungeon during the Spanish Inquisition.He takes us beneath a castle into a horrible dark, rat-infested dungeon. There we find an unnamed man who has been tried and found guilty.The stench of death and human feces is overpowering. He can hear tha rats scampering all around him. He tries to search the dungeon to see if there is a way of escape, but it’s too dark. He stumbles around and nearly falls into a huge pit in the center of the cell. He is knocked unconscious. When he wakes up, he realizes that he is strapped into a torture device that houses a swinging, razor-sharp pendulum. The pendulum gradually lowers closer and closer to his heart. The man goes mad as he watches the pendulum grow near.

He uses his free hand to wipe the remains of his last meal onto the strap that sits between his body and the pendulum. This attracts the rats, and they chew through the strap, freeing him. As soon as he stands, the pendulum is raised and the iron walls— which have been heated to a dangerous level—close in on him. The hero is forced closer to the pit’s opening. Just before he falls, General Lasalle’s French army arrives and rescues him.

Our enemy Satan has thrown mankind into a dark miserable dungeon of sin. He makes us godless, senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless, worthless and powerless. He binds us with our sins, he tortures us, and he is constantly pushing us into the pit of his Hell.

We are absolutely powerless to escape, to try to save ourselves. The walls are closing in, and all seems lost,

“When we were utterly helpless, Christ came at just the right time and died for us sinners. For… God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners…Romans 5:6-8 (NLT)

God has given us so much, so that we can have so much!

III. The Life of Jesus is our Salvation

1 John 5:11-12 “And this is the testimony, that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. 12 Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.”

Because He Lives and through our faith in Him, we know we have:

  1. Peace with God
  2. Continuous Access to God’s Grace
  3. Hope of the Glory of God
  4. Rejoicing in Trials
  5. Confidence in God’s Love for us.
  6. A Living Salvation
  7. Friendship with God

Are you content to hear the swooshing of the pendulum blade as it inches closer and closer to your heart? Do you enjoy the rats of sin? Do you enjoy the stench of death and decay? God wants you to enjoy Him, to enjoy His Love, His peace, His grace, His friendship. And it is all freely given to you through His Son, Jesus Christ! It is all yours by believing in God’s Word! Believe God, and it will be counted to you as Righteousness!


going-thereCome with me this morning and gaze upon a very sad moment. We find a young woman standing at a tomb, a rich man’s tomb. A huge stone has been rolled away, and she is standing there sobbing her heart out. She is wailing the middle eastern death wail. She has just experienced the most horrible weekend of her life. She had to witness the execution of the man who had saved her life. He had rescued her from a life of sin and abuse. Her life had been so different since he cast the seven demons from her life. She had never known such forgiveness and acceptance and love. He was gone, crucified at the hands of Roman soldiers, and the least thing she could do was to go and anoint his body for a proper burial. To say goodbye one last time. But he is gone. His body is not there. She arrived early in the morning and the stone had been rolled away. The Roman guards were gone, the grave cloths were laying in the grave. Jesus was gone. Someone had stolen the body away.jesus_tomb-mary-weep

Suddenly a man approaches her. He asks her “Why are you weeping”. She doesn’t recognize him, thinks he is the gardener. “Sir”,she asks, “if you have taken him away, tell me where you have laid him”. She then turns to stare and sob.

He simply calls her name, “Mary”. And in a flash she knew. She turns to him and says “Rabboni”!

This morning, Jesus stands before each one of us. He is alive. He is God! He is our Savior! He is at the right hand of God His Father. He is awaiting the day when the Father will say, THAT”S ENOUGH! Your day is here.

But until that day when He shall descend from heaven with a shout and the blast of the trumpet, Jesus stands in front of you and asks WHY ARE YOU WEEPING? I am your teacher! Do you not know what I have taught you? He calls each one of us by name and asks, “Why are you weeping?”

You say that’s silly, because I’m not weeping. But I say, Jesus knows your heart. He sees the tears that are there. They may be buried, they may be hidden, but they are there. We can all say as David said in Psalm 44:19: “thou hast sore broken us in the place of dragons, and covered us with the shadow of death.” Jesus wanted Mary to realize she did not need to weep. She did not need to sob her heart out.

Glenda Brost of Indiana tells us:

On a beautiful day in May 1996, I came home to find that my fifteen-year-old daughter, Patti, had shot herself to death. I was absolutely devastated. Patti had been diagnosed and hospitalized with severe depression that winter, but seemed to be improving dramatically. In April, she gave her life to the Lord, and everyone saw a big change in her.

The first month after Patti’s death was a blur. I knew I had two choices—to allow my anger and hurt to take over my life and my marriage, or allow the Lord to help me through the struggles and somehow bring good out of this tragedy. My husband, Bill, my son, Brent, and I vowed we wouldn’t let Satan have the victory; we would serve the Lord no matter what. That summer I spent much time reading the Bible and praying. I felt the presence of the Lord in such real ways, comforting and strengthening me. Whenever I was down, someone would call or send a card or say she was praying for me.

limbic-systemOur heart records emotional distress and sends the message to the limbic system of our brain. Here the emotional hurts, painful memories are stored just beneath our conscious thought. These memories surface in strange reactions to certain impulses or circumstances. We can’t explain why so and so frustrates us so, or why so and so brings fear. We bear the mark of emotional pain and suffering upon our heart.

It would be horrible to think that a child’s suicide, the death of a small child, the diagnosis of a terminal disease is something we must bear alone. It is even more tragic that there is no God to make sense of all the pain and suffering in this world. There must be something more to this life. There must be a cure to the stain upon our heart that this life can leave.

Every year thousands of people climb a mountain in the Italian Alps, passing the “stations of the cross” crucifixes-in-italian-alpsto stand at an outdoor crucifix. One tourist noticed a little trail that led beyond the cross. He fought through the rough thicket and, to his surprise, came upon another shrine, a shrine that symbolized the empty tomb. It was neglected. The brush had grown up around it. Almost everyone had gone as far as they cross, but there they stopped.

I have known people who have let the pain of their heart ruin their marriage, their relationship with their children, ruin their career, ruin their life. If we only focus on the pain and the suffering, we will be held captive and our lives will be ruined. Jesus asked Mary “Why are you weeping.” Don’t focus on the loss, focus on the VICTORY! Don’t stop at the cross, Praise God for the Empty Tomb. Praise God for the Resurrection!

jesus-wears-the-cross-on-his-chestJesus doesn’t wear an “S” on his chest. He wears the cross, because He conquered the cross! He endured the Cross for the Joy that was set before Him. The joy was not heaven, He already had that. The Joy was seeing His VICTORY GIVEN TO YOU AND ME! He wants to MARK our HEART with the Victory of the Resurrection!

Mark Your Ball With “JPT”

Dr David Cook is a renown sports psychologist. He has written a book titled Golf’s Sacred Journey. He was invited to speak and discuss the book at a gathering of Christian golfers at the number one golf course in the World, Pine Valley. These men were all great golfers, successful executives. The last day he was paired up with one of the greatest amateurs. He had a horrible reputation fro being a raging maniac on the course. His attitude had kept him from making it to the pro’s, and had affected his success in business. In the short devotion before they played,

pine-valley-hole-18Dr Cook told him I am going to teach you something that will change the way you approach life. God wants to use golf to change eternity. You’ll never play well until you understand God’s purpose for your life, and that is to use your life to change eternity. God wants to use everything in your life to effect eternity. God wants to use your Golf to change this world for eternity. This game is not about you.It is not about your score, it is not about how you look to other people, it is about God and what He wants to do in your life and the lives of the people you play with.

Gave him a verse I Thess 5:16-17: Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances – Joy Prayer Thanksgiving

So he marked his ball with “JPT”

He said “I want you to go and play a great game, but no matter what you do, always have Joy and Give Thanks, whether you birdie, bogey or double bogey. And as you play, pray! This is why God called you, to use your game to change the eternity of those you play with.

Everyone was noticing a different attitude. He was playing great, and was 4 under par at the 12th hole. He was 30 yards out on the 12th hole. He went to hit an easy chip shot for a certain birdie when he duffed it. He hit the ball only two feet. You could just see him turn inward and start to go ballistic. David rushed to his side and said “remember, this game is not about you, it about your purpose in changing eternity. The enemy wants to use circumstances to take you out, to render you powerless. He wants to embarrass you on the golf course. He uses three weapons, “KILL STEAL & DESTROY” That’s how he makes you powerless. Look at your ball, what does it say: “JPT” – Joy Prayer Thanksgiving. Those are your weapons to change your world for eternity.

He calms down, says a quick prayer of thanksgiving and ends up bogeying the hole. He keeps on playing and gets back to 4 under. The last hole and he’s feeling great, everybody is noticing his new attitude. He hits a mighty drive 330 yards and it hits directly into a bunker at the foot of the green. Three feet down from the top. The ball is buried. He goes to his ball and he starts yelling for David to come!

jpt-ball-markLook at this! The only thing showing is the “JPT”. He’s on his knee’s praising God. He says David, this is my message from God. From now on I will use JPT to change the eternity of those around me. No matter how deeply I’m buried I will praise God.

Jesus is before you and he is looking into your heart. He sees the hurt, the disappointment, the bitterness, the coldness, the pride, the scars upon your heart. He wants to mark your heart with JPT, because He has conquered all! He overcame the devil, He overcame sin and our alienation from God. Satan has no claim on us anymore. If we place our life in Jesus, we share in His death, His burial and His resurrection. We already died, so Satan has no power over us. Hebrews 2:14,15 says: “that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil; and might deliver those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives.”

Just because we are in a bad place, buried in the sand, doesn’t mean we have to stay there, crying or angry or frustrated. We all have to go there at times, but we don‘t have to stay there. Jesus has already gone there, and He has given us His victory! Satan wants to kill your love for God, he wants to steal your heart away from loving God, he wants to detroy your effectiveness and testimony.

hebrews-2-14_15Jesus has changed this World for eternity. He has overcome every terrible situation that you could every encounter in your life. He assures us that “God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” Rom 8:28 Through the resurrection we can mark our hearts with “JPT”

The resurrection of Jesus Christ signaled the defeat of Satan, sin and death. But we fail to see the power of the resurrection when we fail to see the power it has for our lives. Jesus knows you will have heartbreak, sorrow, tears, disappointment, mistakes, struggles, you name it, Jesus knows you will have it. But Jesus still stands before you and says: “You don’t need to weep!”

Jesus wants us to know that no matter the tragedy we will face, if we allow His Resurrection to EMPOWER US, he will transform heartbreak and sorrow into POWER to LIVE and LOVE Life. Hebrews 12:2 records that Jesus endured the cross for the joy that was set before Him. Jesus had to go to the cross to get to that joy. That joy is knowing that you and I can share in His victory. Our lives can be transformed because Jesus went there to get there.

2-cor-3-18Paul reveals:

But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit. 2 Corinthians 3:18 (NASB)

Jesus Christ wants to change us, to reveal His Glory in us. He wants to mark our hearts just like you mark a golf ball. Only He wants to mark it with the power of the Resurrection! Through His HeartMark you will be changed into His Glory! You will be victorious.

You can focus on the pain, the heartache, the broken promises. Or you can focus your life on the Victory of Jesus Christ! You can mark your heart with bitterness and pain, or Joy Prayer and Thanksgiving! The Power of the Resurrection is only experienced as we focus on Jesus and His Victory! If you focus on your problems and your sad situation you are defeated. You are like Mary, staring at the tomb and wondering what you are going to do. Jesus is standing before you saying WHY ARE YOU WEEPING. Whose Mark is on your Heart? Are you willing to claim the victory of Jesus for your life?Are you willing to see your life as changing this world for eternity? Are you willing to have Joy, to Pray in every circumstance, to Thank God for everything? To Believe that Jesus is Victorious?

Joseph

joseph-Heart MarkJoseph was one of the most mis-treated people you could ever meet. He was betrayed by his brothers, falsely accused and thrown into a horrible prison. He was betrayed once again and if had been like most people would have become bitter and angry and rotted away. But he had JPT on his heart. How do I know? Because when he was finally placed on high as the second migthtiest man in the world, and had a chancve to get even with his mean brothers, he said “ You meant it for evil, but God meant it for good! Only someone with JPT on their heart could say that.

Peter

If anyone could ever say he was not fit to follow Jesus, it would be Peter. Such a man with big dreams. He told Jesus he would follow him anywhere. Why he even picked up a sword and tried to prevent a squadron of soldiers from taking Jesus away. He obviously was not a trained swordsman. He only managed to cut off a servants ear.

peter-denies-jesus-meltonWhen push came to shove, and Jesus needed him, Peter was afraid to go with him to the Governors’s court. A simple servant girl, cousin to Malchus, whose ear Peter cut off, said “I know I’ve seen you with Jesus”. He started speaking fisherman and denied he had ever known Jesus. Then he heard the rooster crow for the third time. Peter wept bitterly. All his hopes, dreams plans perished with Jesus on the cross. Peter was a failure, Jesus was a failure. I imagine he was relieved when he heard that Jesus had died. At least his betrayal did not mean anything.

How his guilt came streaming over him when he heard the tomb was empty. He ran to the grave, he went in. There was no body. Peter had failure and regret inscribed upon his heart. Then one morning he saw Jesus on the banks of the sea. Embarrassed Peter jumped into the water and reluctantly swam ashore. There Jesus asked him a funny question. “Do you Love me?” Semantics aside, Jesus wanted Peter to erase the bad heart mark and replace it with LOVE! The Resurrection is the greatest LOVE mark you can ever place on your heart! Do you LOVE me? Then don’t weep, don’t let your heart be destroyed. Love Jesus, Love His Resurrection! Let that be your Heart Mark!

Prodigal Son

prodigal-heart markThe prodigal son broke his father’s heart. He took his inheritance and wasted it on every despicable thing you can imagine. Finally he came to the end of himself and found himself feeding the pigs. But there, amidst the stench and squalor of his life, he remembered the love of his father. His heart still had a touch of his father’s love. He went home to discover that his Father’s love is overwhelming, matchless, victorious. He allowed the Father’s Love to Mark his Heart!

Isaac

Isaac was a young boy when his father Abraham said they were going to Mt Moriah. When Abraham told his servants to stay there, for he and Isaac were going to worship, we can only surmise what was going through Isaac’s mind. isaacFinally he cried out Father, “where is the lamb for the burnt offering?” Abraham said God would provide. What horror must have been in his eyes as he watched his father raise the knife, because he was the sacrifice! When the angel stopped Abraham’s hand, I know that Isaac did not hesitate to get off the altar. But I know that indelibly etched upon his heart was the image of the ram that God indeed provide for the offering. He could have been that offering, but God provided another.

The sacrifice of that ‘lamb’ was indelibly inscribed upon young Isaac’s heart. And so should the Sacrifice and Victory of Jesus be inscribed upon ours.

jesus-gives-us-victoryJesus Christ is the only begotten son of God. He stepped forward and said I’ll save them. I’ll go to the cross. I’ll drink the cup of God’s wrath. Because He died on the cross and rose from the dead, WE HAVE LIFE! We are not defeated. We can stamp JPT on our hearts. We can have Joy no matter the heartache. We can have continual prayer with our Father who loves us. We can be thankful for all things because we know that all things work to good for those who love God.

WHY ARE YOU WEEPING? WHY ARE YOU DEFEATED? WHY ARE YOU LETTING THE ENEMY TAKE YOU OUT, EMBARRASS YOU, RENDER YOU POWERLESS. WHY DO LET HIM STEAL KILL AND DESTROY. LOOK AT THE INITIALS ON YOUR HEART – JPT. BECAUSE JESUS LIVES WE HAVE JOY WE HAVE PRAYER WE HAVE THANKSGIVING! WE HAVE TOTAL VICTORY! LET THE RESURRECTION BE YOUR HEARTMARK!

When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.” “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. 1 Corinthians 15:54-57 (ESV)