Day 40 ~ Acts 1:6-11

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As Jesus was leaving this earth, these were His final words:

But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.  ~ Acts 1:8

And then He ascended into Heaven.

Jesus gave His disciples a clear directive. They would be His witnesses. They would be on mission with God.

On mission with God.

A phrase I hear a lot these days. Am I on mission with God? This is certainly a question I have asked myself. Perhaps you have as well. And then, often, that question fuels feelings of failure or fear. Comparison.

I’m not doing enough.

I can’t possibly do that.

What I’m doing isn’t good enough.

Look at what that person is doing. It’s better than me.

We are clearly called to be on mission with God. To be His witnesses. And the truth is, that may look different for each and every one of us depending on the season of life that we are in, the giftings that God has given us, and the circumstances in which He has placed us.

Rather than getting caught up in feelings of fear, failure, and comparison, what if, instead, we choose to focus on being obedient and following Jesus right where we are? What would that look like?

For some of you, being on mission with God right now is faithfully raising your children. Pouring into them. Discipling them.

For others, being on mission with God is working through a difficult marriage.  Being faithful to your vows, to the covenant that you made before God, even when things seem utterly impossible.

For some, being on mission is faithfully living out the Gospel at work everyday as people see the light of Jesus in you.

For others, being on mission is leaving behind the comforts of the things we find here in America, going to another country and sharing the Gospel with those who may never have even heard the name of Jesus.

And for some, being on mission with God, means doing something that seems so scary that you feel like you are jumping off a cliff with nothing to catch you. Taking a huge step of faith. Responding to something that you sense God is calling you to do.

Remember that God has created you with specific giftings and a unique purpose. Rather than trying to be on mission with God in the way that you think you SHOULD be, draw near to Him and ask Him how it is that He is calling you to be His witness.

And then remember the amazing promise that Jesus gives. You shall receive power” (Acts 1:8a).

Day 40

To me, these are some of the most comforting words in  Scripture. Why? Because in these words are an amazing promise that you and I are not called to operate in our own strength. And when we do, it usually leads to exhaustion, frustration, resentment, and even depression.

My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.  ~ 2 Corinthians 12:9

As we follow Him, walking out our lives on mission with God, He will empower us. All we have to do, what we get to do, is draw near to Him. He will strengthen us through the power of His Spirit.

As we celebrate Easter tomorrow – the amazing resurrection of Jesus, the truth that He died, rose again, ascended into Heaven, and is seated at the right hand of the Father – may we remember that the result of it all is the beautiful truth that we get to be in relationship with Him. We get to abide in Him, draw strength from Him, find healing and wholeness in Him, and one day, we will reign with Him forever.

When Jesus left this earth, He didn’t leave us alone. He left us a Helper. Today, on mission with God, we are not alone. He is with us, for us, and empowers us by His Spirit. Praise Jesus!

Anchored in Christ,

Carrie

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Day 37 ~ Mark 15:33-39

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Jesus. Precious Jesus. He hung on the cross, having just endured some of the greatest physical pain one can endure, humiliated, abandoned by His friends, and now taking the sin of the world upon Himself. And in that moment He cried out to His Father. The One to whom He has always turned. The One with whom He is one.

My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?

Imagine the pain. Emotional. Physical. Spiritual.

And then Jesus, precious Jesus, breathed His last.

Have you ever felt forsaken? Perhaps by God Himself?

How long O Lord? Will You forget me forever? How long will You hide Your face from me? How long must I struggle with anguish in my soul, with sorrow in my heart every day? How long will my enemy have the upper hand? Turn to me and answer me, O Lord my God! Light up my eyes or I will die. Don’t let my enemies gloat, saying, ‘We have defeated him!’ Don’t let them rejoice at my downfall. But I trust in Your unfailing love. I will rejoice because You have rescued me. I will sing to the Lord because He is good to me.  Psalm 13

Listen to the words of David. He feels forgotten. Forsaken. By God no less. Wondering how long; begging God for deliverance. Can you relate?

In this Psalm, as in so many others, David honestly pours out His heart before God. And then there is an extremely important turning point.

BUT I will trust in Your unfailing love. I will rejoice because You have rescued me. I will sing to the Lord because He is good to me.  Psalm 13:5-6

In the midst of feeling forsaken and forgotten, David reminds himself of truth. Of who God is and what He has done.

In our moments of desperation, we must do the same thing. Perhaps we, like David, like Jesus, feel forsaken. But GOD HAS NOT FORSAKEN US. We can look to the truth of God’s Word and see that even though David and Jesus felt abandoned, in those moments, God WAS AT WORK.

When Jesus felt utterly forsaken, as He took the sin of the world upon Himself, as He breathed His last, something extraordinary happened.

And the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. Mark 15:38

Day 37

Up until this time, the High Priest had to go into the Holy of Holies once a year on the Day of Atonement to ask for forgiveness for the sins of both himself and the people. This Most Holy Place was where the presence of God would dwell. It was separated in the tabernacle by a veil. An enormous veil that would have been about 60 feet high, 30 feet wide, and 4 inches thick. This veil separated the people from the presence of God and only the High Priest could go inside on behalf of the people.

Then Jesus, the Son of God, breathed His last. The veil was torn. And in that moment, Jesus made a way for you and me to come directly into the presence of God.

… we have confidence to enter the most holy place by the blood of Jesus by a new and living way that He opened for us through the curtain, that is, through His flesh … let us then draw near with a since heart … let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering for He who promised is faithful.  Hebrews 10:19-20, 22-23

Despite the fact that Jesus felt forsaken, God had not forsaken Him. He was doing an amazing and beautiful redeeming work, making a way for you and me to come directly to Him. And of course we know the rest of the story. Three days later, Jesus rose from the dead. God was not finished.

When we feel forsaken or forgotten, may we remind ourselves of Truth. Our God loves us with an unfailing love (Jeremiah 31:3). His Word says that He will complete the work that He has started in each one of us (Philippians 1:6). And He will never fail us or forsake us (Deuteronomy 31:8). How and what we feel is important. Let’s cry out to God and tell Him that. And then let’s remind ourselves that our God IS at work, often times beyond what we can see.

Anchored in Christ,

Carrie

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Day 32 ~ Mark 14:32-36

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Consider a time. A moment. A collection of moments. Desperate for something to change, you have cried out to God. Weary. Full of pain. Burdened to the point of breaking.

“God, please deliver me.”

“God, please change the circumstances in which I currently find myself.”

God, please heal me. Please heal this person I so dearly love.”

“God, please intervene.”

“God, please change his/her heart.”

“God, please provide in this particular way.”

And then there is SILENCE.

Nothing changes. The pain continues. In fact, perhaps something devastating happens despite your prayers.

What then?

It’s in those moments that our enemy quietly whispers in our ears, “God doesn’t really care about you. He doesn’t love you. He’s cruel. He’s not paying any attention to you. If He was listening to you, He would answer you.

It’s in those moments, that we must remind ourselves of what is true, regardless of how things might seem.

Day 32

On His way to the cross, Jesus came to the Garden of Gethsemane with His disciples. While there, Scripture says that He was “very distressed” and “troubled,” or translated in the Greek, “astonished” and “overcome with horror.”

Jesus turned to His disciples and said, “My soul is deeply grieved to the point of death,” which literally means so intensely sad and overcome with sorrow as to cause one’s death (Mark 14:34).

Jesus was intensely aware of the journey that lay ahead of him. As I think about it, I honestly can’t even begin to imagine the amount of pain that He was in. He knew that He was about to endure enormous physical pain, beyond what our minds can conceive, and the extreme emotional and spiritual pain of being separated from His Father as He took the sin of the entire world upon Himself.

And He fell to the ground and began to pray that if it were possible, the hour might pass Him by. And He was saying, “Abba! Father! All things are possible for You; remove this cup from Me; yet not what I will but what You will” (Mark 14:36).

And then there was SILENCE.

 It’s not that God didn’t hear Him. But this dreadful death that Jesus would face was a part of God’s plan to save you and me. The silence was a necessary part of God’s rescue plan.

How did Jesus continue on? Knowing the continued, horrific pain that awaited Him? How, after pouring His heart before God and asking for any other way, did Jesus keep pressing on?

YET NOT WHAT I WILL, BUT WHAT YOU WILL.

Complete surrender to the plans of purposes of His loving, sovereign Father. Absolute trust. Perfect submission.

Friend, keep crying out. Keep telling God how you feel. Keep persisting in your pain asking Him for what you need and desire. We see multiple examples of men and women who did just this throughout Scripture like blind Bartimaeous (Mark 10) and the persistent widow (Luke 18). And then, after pouring out your hearts before God, you must surrender the results.Not my will but Your will.”

Our Father is a good, good Father whose plans and purposes are for our good and His glory. Even when He’s quiet. Even when we don’t understand what He’s doing. Even when we are waiting in pain and facing a very difficult trial.

In whatever situation you find yourself today, ask God to give you a picture of Jesus in that garden, pouring out His heart before God. Jesus was the all-knowing Son of God. He knew what the answer would be and yet He still asked God, “Please let this cup pass from me.” This is a beautiful picture of true intimacy.

Jesus knows your pain. He has experienced every physical, emotional, and spiritual pain that you have ever and will ever experience. He not only sympathizes, He empathizes.

We do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. Therefore, let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.  Hebrews 4:15-16

And as we draw near, would our heart’s cry be, “Not what I will, but what You will.”

Anchored in Christ,

Carrie

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Day 28 ~ John 14:15-31

Have you ever started your day determined that today will be the day in which you will not struggle with _________. Fill in the blank. Maybe it’s anger. Worry. Losing it with your kids. Overeating. Fear. Anxiety.

Or, perhaps, you have said, “Today WILL be the day I have ______.” Fill in the blank. Peace. Joy. Patience. Love. Kindness. I have most certainly said this a time or two. Or a thousand.

A portion of our Scripture for today specifically focuses on peace. Something that I think many of us are desperate for at one time or another in our lives. We do Bible studies about peace. We talk about it. We study it. We read about it. We determine in our hearts and minds that we are going to have peace.

But here’s the thing. When we’re trying with all of our might to achieve peace, we’ve missed a very important truth:

Peace I leave with you; My peace I GIVE to you; not as the world gives you do I GIVE to you.  John 14:27a

The peace that comes from God is a GIFT. It’s not something that can be achieved, earned, or forcibly felt. It is a gift given by Jesus. A by-product of being in relationship with Him. A fruit of the Spirit, who Jesus gave us as our Helper (14:16).  We don’t have to do it alone! In fact, we absolutely cannot produce it by ourselves.

Recently, as I was explaining this concept to my kids, I described it this way.

I held an apple in front of them I asked, “Where did this apple come from? Can I just blink and make this apple appear? Can I determine in my mind that I WILL make an apple out of nothing? Of course not! An apple must grow on a tree.”

In the same way, we cannot will ourselves to have love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self control. Instead, the Spirit renews our thoughts and our attitudes (Ephesians 4:23) and we bear much fruit as we abide deeply in Jesus.

I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in me and I in him bears much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing.  John 15:5

Additionally, the extraordinary thing about the gift of peace that Jesus offers us is that it is well more than absence of trouble.

I have told you these things so that in Me you may have peace. In this world you WILL have tribulation, but take courage, I have overcome the world.  John 16:33

The gift of peace that Jesus offers us is Himself. It is found in nestling deep down into the depths of who He is, His undeniable love for us, His glorious grace poured out on us, His mercies new every morning.

It’s there that peace is found. Where peace is poured out like a fountain. In Christ Jesus. He alone is our peace.

Do not let your hearts be troubled, nor let your hearts be fearful.  John 14:27b

In this fallen, broken world, we will face sin, hardship, sickness, broken hearts, disappointment, abandonment, frustration, betrayal. You may be reading this right now wondering how you can possibly make it through one more day with the reality of the circumstances that you are facing. You are desperate for peace. Rather than making up your mind that you WILL have peace today, surrender to Jesus. Abide in Him. Recognize that it’s only in Christ that peace is found. He is offering the beautiful and priceless gift of peace – Himself.

Come to me all you who are weary and heavy laden, I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.  Matthew 11:28-30

Anchored in Christ,

Carrie

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Day 20 ~ John 5:19-23

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Tremendous Claim. Astounding Humility. Amazing Example.

With great care, Jesus has just healed the man at the pool of the Bethesda. Hearing this, the Jews begin persecuting Jesus for doing these things on the Sabbath.

Jesus responds by making a claim that will rock them to their core. He is the Son of God.

My Father is working until now, and I Myself am working.  John 5:17

The Jews, already angry, are now incensed that Jesus would dare “call God His own Father, making Himself equal with God” (John 5:18).

So Jesus explains. And as He does, He exudes an unbelievable level of humility that sets an example for each one of us.

  1. Jesus does exactly what He sees His Father doing.

Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself unless it is something He sees the Father doing; for whatever the Father does, these things the Son also does in like manner.  John 5:19

There is nothing that Jesus did apart from that which His Father directed. Ultimately, the fact that Jesus went to the cross is because He was on mission with His Father. His Father had a plan – a great rescue plan to save the world. And Jesus was on mission with Him. In complete and utter obedience, He “bore our sins in His body on a cross so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By His wounds we are healed” (2 Peter 2:24).

Where are you on mission with your Father? Are you following what it is you see your Father doing?

  1. Jesus has great power, yet He shows unbelievable humility.

For just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, even so the Son also gives life to whom He wishes. For not even the Father judges anyone, but He has given all judgment to the Son, so that all will honor the Son even as they honor the Father …. John 5:21-22

Jesus is the all-knowing Son of God. He is God in flesh. At His name every knee will bow. Only in Him we find salvation.

While on earth, He healed many, He cast out demons, He raised the dead. He had great power. And from this place, Jesus CHOSE humility. He set aside His majesty for the purpose of redemption. He willingly gave up His rights for us.

… although He existed in the form and unchanging essence of God [as One with Him, possessing the fullness of all the divine attributes—the entire nature of deity], He did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped or asserted [as if He did not already possess it, or was afraid of losing it]; but emptied Himself [without renouncing or diminishing His deity, but only temporarily giving up the outward expression of divine equality and His rightful dignity] by assuming the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men [He became completely human but was without sin, being fully God and fully man]. After He was found in [terms of His] outward appearance as a man [for a divinely-appointed time], He humbled Himself [still further] by becoming obedient [to the Father] to the point of death, even death on a cross.  Philippians 2:6-8, Amplified

Jesus had every right to anything He wanted: wealth, fame, prosperity, renown. And yet He laid it all aside to be obedient to His Father.

The messages from this culture, this world in which we live, our enemy, scream the exact opposite of the example that Jesus set for us. They tell us that we have a “right” to act a certain way. They whisper in our ears that forgiveness is letting the one who hurt us off the hook and that we must hold on to our hurts and resentments. They tell us that submission is weak. They convince us that anger and revenge are more powerful than love and kindness. They persuade us to “always look out for number one,” because if we don’t, who else will?

 Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit [through factional motives, or strife], but with [an attitude of] humility [being neither arrogant nor self-righteous], regard others as more important than yourselves.  Do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. Have this same attitude in yourselves which was in Christ Jesus [look to Him as your example in selfless humility].  Philippians 2:3-5, Amplified

Day 20

Following Jesus’ example, where in your life do you sense a call to humility and submission?

  1. Jesus’ obedience and submission are fueled by His intimacy with His Father.

Throughout Scripture, verse after verse tells us that Jesus took time to be alone with God. His intimate, continuous communion with His Father fueled everything that He did. Even in the garden before He faced a horrific death, He poured out His heart before His Father. Then, full of power, He followed His Father’s plan with perfect obedience and submission, which ultimately led to our salvation.

Jesus is always inviting us into deeper intimacy with Himself. And it is from this place that we are empowered to do the work that He has called us to do.

Let’s press hard into Jesus today as we seek to follow the example that He so beautifully displayed for us.

Anchored in Christ,

Carrie

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Day 15 ~ Luke 15:1-7

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Picture with me a scene:

Jesus has been teaching large crowds of people. And now all the tax collectors and sinners are coming near to listen to Him. The Pharisees, who are standing around, see this and are horrified. They begin to grumble saying to one another, “This man receives sinners and eats with them?!”

Jesus’ response is a story.

What man among you if he has a hundred sheep and lost one of them would leave the ninety-nine and go after the one lost sheep until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, carries it home rejoicing and throws a big party for the one lost sheep.

And then Jesus says,

I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.

So Jesus essentially puts the Pharisees in their place. He tells them that their righteousness, and goodness, and Law-keeping is not enough. He makes the point to say that there is more rejoicing in Heaven over the one sinner who repents and knows he is in desperate need of help and salvation, than over ninety-nine who think that they are just fine and don’t need any help at all.

The Pharisees had no idea that they were sinners. They followed the Law. They kept it perfectly. It was their righteousness that was blinding them to the truth of how desperately they needed to be saved.

Where do you and I fall today? Do we see ourselves as sinners desperately in need of a Savior and of God’s daily, minute-by-minute grace? Or are we relying on our own righteousness, thinking that in our own goodness we are doing just fine?

In His story, Jesus uses sheep as a comparison to people, which He often does.

Tim Keller says this about sheep:

“A sheep is a stupid animal. It loses its direction constantly in a way that a cat or dog never does. And even when you find the lost sheep it goes to and fro and will not follow you home. So when you find it, you must seize it, throw it down, tie it, throw it over your shoulders and carry it home. That’s the only way to find a lost sheep.”

Day 15

Sheep are utterly dependent on their provider, their protector, their shepherd. In fact, sheep are so utterly dependent on their shepherd that they don’t even know which way to go on their own. They follow their shepherd. And if they do wander off, as is the example in this passage, they are in desperate need of rescue.

  1. Just like those sheep, we need to be rescued. We have absolutely no hope of saving ourselves. Even if we wander off, we have no hope of finding our way back. Jesus has to come get us. In our own power, we can’t do anything to will ourselves or make ourselves get into right relationship with God.

This is true both for unbelievers and believers. For the unsaved, only Jesus can reach down and breathe life into the dead and lifeless. Only He can rescue. There is absolutely nothing that we can do to save ourselves.

For those of us who are followers of Jesus, we may find ourselves in circumstances where we as sheep have wandered away from our Shepherd. And in those times, we need Him to put us on His shoulders and bring us back. We can’t do it ourselves.

Here’s the truth. You and I need a Savior. Not just at the moment of salvation, but every single day. 

  1. Jesus is the Shepherd and He controls His sheep.

In His great love, Jesus will not let His sheep continue in sin. When we wander away, He will do what it takes to bring us back to Him. Even if, like Tim Keller said, He must “seize [us], throw [us] down, tie [us up], and throw [us] over [His] shoulders and carry [us] home.”

We must be willing to give up our control and follow Jesus, our Shepherd, listening to His voice, and trusting His sovereign leading in our lives.

Recently, I read this on a blog: “Even though you and I don’t like to give up control here is why you trust Jesus. Because Jesus is the only one who can say, I am the Shepherd who actually became the sheep, became a Lamb in order to save you. That’s how I brought you home.”

What a beautiful reminder today.

Anchored in Christ,

Carrie

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Day 11 ~ Matthew 7:24-27

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Recently, I sat with a dear friend in the middle of a tremendously difficult trial. Facing deep hurt and loss, she said something that literally sent chills from the top of my head to the tip of my toes.

“I was born in the desert, I have lived in the desert, I might die in the desert. But I will still praise Your name.”

It was one of those moments where I could feel God’s presence. I saw Jesus in this precious friend in a very real way. Under the circumstances, there was no way that she could humanly say these words. Her response to this incredibly dark time in her life was one of peace, hope, and worship. Her life has been built on a firm foundation, her soul anchored deep in Christ Jesus.

Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded on the rock. Everyone who hears these words of Mine and does not act on them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and it fell—and great was its fall.  Matthew 7:24-27

When facing a trial, when dealing with the hardships of living in a fallen, broken world, one of the most difficult things as a believer can be to keep our eyes fixed on Jesus and not the wind and the waves. So, how do we stand firm when all around us seems to be falling apart?

There WILL be moments in our lives when the rains beat down, the floods rise, and the vicious winds of life begin slamming into us. And it’s in these moments that we get to ask ourselves the question – on what has my life been founded? And what is the anchor of my soul?

In the same way God, desiring even more to show to the heirs of the promise the unchangeableness of His purpose, interposed with an oath, so that by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have taken refuge would have strong encouragement to take hold of the hope set before us. This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, a hope both sure and steadfast . . .  Hebrews 6:17-19

Hundreds and hundreds of years ago, God made a covenant with Abraham. A promise that He would make Him a great nation, that He would bless him, and make his name great (Genesis 12:1-3). This covenant was one that could not be broken and provided an assurance for Abraham that God would do that which He promised. This promise provided an anchor for Abraham’s soul that would carry him through years of great trial, disappointment, not understanding, being instructed to do the impossible.

In the same way, God has provided for us an anchor for our souls. A promise. One that can never be taken away. One that can never fade. A cornerstone that is sure and steadfast.

But now in Christ Jesus, you who were formerly far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ … So then, you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God’s household, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and the prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the cornerstone. Ephesians 2:13, 20

Our souls are secure in Christ Jesus. He is our firm foundation, our solid rock, our cornerstone. If we attempt to make anything else our anchor, our foundation, when the storms of life come (and they will!) we will be tossed to and fro.

Day 10

Ask yourself this question: On what have I built my life? What am I looking to in an attempt to feel safe and secure?

  • spouse
  • children
  • job
  • money
  • relationships
  • position
  • my talents and giftings
  • the hope of a better future
  • school

When the circumstances of life are overwhelming and the storms of life come, our only hope for security is found in Christ. He alone is unchangeable (Hebrews 13:8), His feelings for are steadfast (Psalm 100:5), He has saved us (2 Tim 1:9), and He has brought us near to Him where we can find mercy and grace in our time of need (Hebrews 4:16).  

My prayer for each one of us today is that we will be so rooted and grounded in the truth of who God is, what He has done, what He has said, and how He provides, that when the storms of life do come, we will find that our lives are built on the Rock.

Anchored in Christ,

Carrie

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Day 4 ~ Matthew 5:17-20

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What is the Law? It may seem like an overly simple question, and yet it’s an extremely important one to understand, especially in the context of today’s Scripture.

The Law was originally given so that sin could be measured. “The law provided the objective standard by which the violations were measured. In order for sinners to know that how sinful they really [were], how far they deviated from God’s standards, God gave the law. Before the law was given, there was sin (see Romans 5:13), but after the law was given, sin could be so clearly specified and measured” (https://www.biblegateway.com/resources/commentaries/IVP-NT/Gal/Understanding-Law).

Because of the Law, men continuously had to live under the condemnation of the Law, and, as a result, were constantly forced to atone for their sins. With the coming of Christ, everything changed.

When Jesus died on the cross, He took our sins upon Himself and that was it. He became the final sacrifice. The once and for all atonement.

And with that, as it says in Romans 8:

the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death, for what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, GOD DID, sending His own Son … so that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled … (Romans 8:2, 3a, 4a).

As a result there is an amazing and profound truth that I think we all know, but I pray we realize in an even deeper way today.

It is finished. There is no more atoning that needs to be done or that we even can do. No more living under the law. IT IS FINISHED.

What is the result of this truth?

The pressure is off.

As a believer there is nothing that you or I can do to earn God’s favor, forgiveness, or His love. Any and every aspect of “earning” was nailed to the cross.

Have you ever thought or been told that if you do all the “right” things then good things will happen to you or that your life will turn out as you plan? Or perhaps you assume that if you parent your children the “right” way then they will most certainly be perfect followers of Christ?

So you work so hard, and you strive, and you do everything just right.

And then tragedy hits. And your teenage or adult kid makes a terrible mistake or walks away from Christ. Or you get the diagnosis you were never expecting. What then? Where did YOU fail in earning God’s favor? How did YOU not live up to the Law? What things did YOU did wrong?

You find yourself terribly exhausted and, frankly, disillusioned. You did everything “right” and God didn’t hold up His end of the bargain.

But you see, there was never a bargain to begin with. There is no formula. There is a cross. Where once and for all our debt is paid. There it is finished.

You are unconditionally loved, forgiven, accepted, and chosen just because You are His and because Jesus took Your sin upon Himself on a cross.

Day 4

So, why is it so important that Jesus did not destroy the law but that He fulfilled it?

  1. Because the Law points us to Christ. John Piper said this, “The law was kept perfectly by Christ. And all its penalties against God’s sinful people were poured out on Christ. Therefore, the law is now manifestly not the path to righteousness, Christ is. The ultimate goal of the law is that we would look to Christ, not law-keeping, for our righteousness.”
  1. Because it was a prophecy made in the Old Testament (Isaiah 42:21) and God always does what He says He will do.  In fact, in the OT alone, over 300 prophecies were made about the Messiah and every single one was fulfilled in Christ Jesus. He is a God who keeps His promises. There is great hope for us in this truth.
  1. Because He loves us so much. His desire for us was that we live in FREEDOM, not under the Law.

Rest today in the truth that it is finished! The Law has been fulfilled. Your sin has been atoned for once and for all, and grace, marvelous grace is extended to you. God did this because of His great love for YOU. He longs to be gracious to you and invites you to draw near to Him and know Him more.

Anchored in Christ,
Carrie

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A Year Without Fear

A Year Without Fear

The beginning of the New Year is typically a time for reflection and resolutions, a time to ask questions and seek change.

What is it that holds me back?

What controls me?

What drives my intentions and decisions?

What causes me to react in anger instead of responding in love?

What holds me back and prevents me from living life with my hands wide open?

What drives me to seek the approval of others?

Where in my life and I holding back from being vulnerable and real and why am I doing so?

For me the answer to so many of these questions is

FEAR

Fear – one of our enemy’s greatest weapons. And for many of us, it has great power in our lives. Fear whispers in our ears and tells us that we must be in control. That we can’t let down. That things won’t ever change. Fear convinces us that being safe and secure is of utmost importance. It tells us that isolation is much better than community. Fear tempts us to live in the past or the future rather than in the present. It makes us believe that it’s best to run for the hills when we are hurt and in pain. It tickles our ears with promises of protection and hope.

However what fear really offers is CHAOS and DESTRUCTION. It is CONTROLLING and DEBILITING.

Can you relate? Does fear control you?

Perhaps, at the beginning of this new year, one of your resolutions, like me, is to live a life apart from fear. But how, realistically, does this happen?

The temptation may be to will myself to make it happen. To try with all of my might to do something different.

God has not given a spirit of fear, but of power and love and a sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:7).

Only God can give us freedom from fear. It’s not something that we can will ourselves to do on our own. We can try, but chances are, long term we will fail, leaving us feeling discouraged and defeated.

To move away from something, we must move towards something.

This statement prompts a very important question: what am I moving towards? Where are my eyes fixed? What is the image that propels me to do the things that I do? Is it financial freedom, a better marriage, solving the problems in the lives of those around me, raising my children a certain way?

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:1-2).

This year, let us ask God to give us a more compelling image of Christ.  To be able to see who He really is and who we are in IN HIM. To understand more clearly the perfect, sovereign plan that He has for our lives, resting in the Truth that everything that happens in our lives is for our good and His glory. To really be able to grasp and be confidently assured that God loves, cherishes, and delights in us. In these realizations, fear dissipates and is replaced by confidence in Christ and His love for us.

He reached down from heaven and rescued me; He drew me out of deep waters … He led me to a place of safety; He rescued me because He delights in me” (Psalm 18:17,19).

The LORD your God in your midst, 
the Mighty One, will save; 
He will rejoice over you with gladness, 
He will quiet you with His love, 
He will rejoice over you with singing” (Zephaniah 3:17).

You will show me the way of life,
 granting me the joy of your presence 
and the pleasures of living with you forever” (Psalm 16:11).

How precious is your unfailing love, O God!
 All humanity finds shelter 
in the shadow of your wings.
You feed them from the abundance of your own house,
 letting them drink from your river of delights” (Psalm 36:7-8).


”Do not be afraid, I have redeemed you. 
I have called your name. You are mine.
When you’re in over your head, I’ll be there with you. 
When you’re in rough waters, you will not go down.
 When you’re between a rock and a hard place, 
it won’t be a dead end—
Because I am God, your personal God, 
The Holy One of Israel, your Savior. 
I paid a huge price for you: 
all of Egypt, with rich Cush and Seba thrown in!
 That’s how much you mean to Me! 
That’s how much I love you!
 I’d sell off the whole world to get you back, 
trade the creation just for you” (Isaiah 43:1-2).

One practice that has been helpful for me is to ask God at the end of each day where in my life I have moved towards Him and where I have moved away from Him. Interestingly, in this process of examining my day, I often find that in the places I move away from Him, I do so because of fear. Fear of the future. Fear of failing. Fear of making the wrong decision. Fear of not having what I need. Fear of what someone may think.  

As I take time to relinquish those fears to God, He so often brings to my mind the truth of many of the above listed Scriptures.  The truth of who He is and that He has a good and perfect plan for my life.  That He is right there with me. Every minute of every day. The reality is, unless there is some kind of imminent danger, chances are my feelings of fear are a desolation: something that pulls me away from God. A ploy from the enemy to distract, discourage, diminish, destroy.

Recently, I read this in one of my prayer books and have started praying it every day:  

“Allow me not to resent what is broken, but to trust that even my weaknesses will be turned for Your glory and my good” (Prayers for Today, Kurt Bjorklund).

One of Satan’s greatest joys would be that I would become angry, resentful, full of fear, and debilitated by the broken things in my life.  So, instead, my heart’s cry has been “God, please take the things that are broken in my life, which so often lead to fear, and remind me that You are in control of and care about every detail of my life. You have ‘seen my afflictions and know the anguish of my soul’ (Psalm 31:7).  So, please give me strength to not resent the brokenness.  But to embrace it, trusting Your plans.  Your will.  Your ways.  

In light of my propensity towards fear, the phrase that God gives me over and over is EYES UP.

Set your mind on the things above not on the things of the earth. For you have died and Your life is hidden in Christ in God” (Colossians 3:2).


This Scripture is a beautiful reminder of a life lived apart from fear and hidden in Christ. What a great truth to remember (read it out loud if necessary)!  

Because my life is hidden in Christ, there is nothing that can snatch me out of my Father’s hands (John 10:29b).  Not someone’s opinion of me.  Not my fear, my weakness, my sickness.  Not losing my temper with my kids once again and being afraid that I’ve messed them up forever. Not my sin. Not my failure. Not a bad decision. NOTHING.

So, is it really possible to live a year without fear???  Yes! Freedom from fear is one of the gifts that was purchased for us on the cross. Because of this, you and I are free to live an abundant life in Christ, free from fear.

“The thief comes to steal and destroy.  I came that they may have life and have it abundantly” (John 10:10).  

Where are you struggling with fear? How is it controlling you? Do you long to live a life without fear?

Today, let’s ask God today to give us a more compelling image of Christ Jesus and His deep, unchanging love for us. May these truths penetrate every area of our lives and nestle down into the depths of our souls. May we understand more fully that for those of us who are in Christ, our lives are hidden in Him. He will guide and protect us. And in the midst of it all, His presence is a promise. These truths remind us that we are FREE. Free to live a life apart from fear.

Anchored in Christ,

Carrie

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Redeemer

redeemer

*Reflections:

Imagine a woman. Caught in adultery. In the very act. Dragged into court to be judged, her sin on display for all to see. Knowing for sure that her death is imminent, she shrinks back with feelings of shame, despair, humiliation, and hopelessness.

According to the law, she is to be stoned for her sin. No questions asked, no second chances. Death. However, instead of facing a judge who would uphold the law, she stands before Jesus, full of grace and compassion. “I do not condemn you,” He says. “Go, and sin no more.”

REDEEMED

Imagine the depth of gratitude this woman must have felt. Her life literally spared by this man, Jesus. The law broken and grace applied. In essence, Jesus bought back her life.

You and I are just like the woman caught in adultery. Our sin may or may not be that of an affair. Perhaps its the telling of half truths, coveting, acting in anger, hate, jealousy, gossip, and greed. Regardless, “we have all sinned and fallen short of God’s glory” (Romans 3:23). And our sin separates us from God, when He created us to be in relationship with Him. We need a Redeemer.

Long before this world was even created, God had a plan to redeem His people. He knew that we would fall. That we would be slaves to sin and that there would be nothing that we could do to fix the great divide between our sin and a holy God. And because of His great love for us, He devised a plan. He sent His only Son, Jesus, to this earth who humbled Himself and took on flesh and became our Redeemer.

The term “redeem” means to “gain or regain possession of something in exchange for payment. To buy back. To make something that is bad acceptable.”

These are the exact things that Jesus did for us as our Redeemer. He purchased our lives with His precious blood, which was shed on the cross. This finished work, His death and resurrection, forever redeemed us.

We are redeemed from the slavery of sin:

Our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin” (Romans 6:6)

And because you belong to him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death” (Romans 8:2).

We are redeemed from the Law:

But Christ has redeemed us from the curse pronounced by the law. When He was hung on the cross, He took upon himself the curse for our wrongdoing. For it is written in the Scriptures, “Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree” (Galatians 3:13).

We are redeemed from death:

‘Death has been swallowed up in victory. Where, O death, is your victory? 
Where, O death, is your sting? ‘The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 15:54b-57).

We are redeemed from our old selves:

Anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!” (2 Corinthians 5:17).

We are redeemed from the power of Satan:

[Jesus] gave Himself for our sins so that He could rescue us from this present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father” (Galatians 1:4).

For He has rescued us from the domain of darkness and transferred us into the Kingdom of His beloved Son …” (Colossians 1:13).

We are redeemed from empty religion:

For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. ” (1 Peter 1:18-19).

Redemption defines who we are.

Like the woman caught in adultery, Jesus literally stepped in and changed our fate by rescuing us from death. Because of this, the Law does not determine our future. Sin does not have to control us. Satan will not have the victory in our lives. We can walk in a manner worthy of our calling. We can make choices that are honoring to Christ. We can operate from a place of love even with those who are unloveable. And regardless of what we do or don’t do, we are loved, chosen, accepted, forgiven, and treasured.

Redemption is both immediate and a process. While those of us who are in Christ Jesus have been given a different identity and inheritance by our Redeemer, there is still the sanctification that must happen here on earth. And throughout this process, Jesus offers Himself to us. In whatever situation or condition we find ourselves, our Redeemer longs to be gracious to us. He longs to pour out compassion and meet us in our time of need. By His blood, He has made a way for us to come to Him in confidence.

Therefore, let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:16).

*Response:

  • Think back again to the woman caught in adultery. Think about the depth of her gratitude for her life being spared and her sins being forgiven. Ask God by His Spirit to create in you true gratitude for His redemption in your life.

  • Is there an area of your life where you need redemption? Call out to your Redeemer and ask Him for help.
  • Write a prayer to Jesus thanking Him for being your Redeemer.

Anchored in Christ,

Carrie

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