HIS ANGUISH

The word anguish, when used as a noun means “severe mental or physical pain or suffering”. When used as a verb, it means “be extremely distressed about something”.

Think about the word. Think about it’s meaning.

Now, consider the story that you already know again.

The story of your salvation

It was in anguish that Christ saved us.

It wasn’t in the midst of a beautiful meadow blossoming with beautiful flowers. It wasn’t with him standing on a stage, making a declaration and receiving roaring applause. It wasn’t at the height of a long prestigious career, after having received numerous awards and medals. It wasn’t done with laughter and the joyful accolades of encouraging men and women, boys, and girls.

It was done in anguish. It was agonizing, painful, brutal, torturous, and downright gruesome.

He, Jesus Christ, the sinless one, gave himself up to die, that we might be saved, in total and complete anguish.

He told the truth; that He is the son of God, and for that truth, He was arrested, condemned, beaten, mocked, and crucified.

Before these events took place, Matthew 26: 36-46 says:

Then Jesus came with them to a place called Gethsemane, and said to the disciples, “Sit here while I go and pray over there.” And He took with Him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and He began to be sorrowful and deeply distressed. Then He said to them, “My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death. Stay here and watch with Me.” He went a little farther and fell on His face, and prayed, saying, “O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will.” Then He came to the disciples and found them sleeping, and said to Peter, “What! Could you not watch with Me one hour? Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” Again, a second time, He went away and prayed, saying, “O My Father, if this cup cannot pass away from Me unless I drink it, Your will be done.” And He came and found them asleep again, for their eyes were heavy. So He left them, went away again, and prayed the third time, saying the same words. Then He came to His disciples and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and resting? Behold, the hour is at hand, and the Son of Man is being betrayed into the hands of sinners. Rise, let us be going. See, My betrayer is at hand.”

As we enter into the week of the passion of Christ, it is extremely important that we remember all of the pain, all of the torture, and the absolute anguish, that he had to undergo.

It is important that we remember His state when His soul was deeply troubled.

It is important that we remember how He had to go to the Father in prayer to receive strength for that which He was about to undergo for our sakes.

It is important that we remember every crack of the whip that split the flesh on His back.

It is important that we remember the prick of every thorn that pierced his head from the crown of thorns that was pressed on his head.

It is important to remember that he felt every ounce of weight from that cross that was placed on the bruised shoulder of His already weakened body. The cross that his weakened body had to carry & support. In the midst of the whip and yells from the soldiers, the shouting from the crowd.

It is important that we remember that He felt the pain when the hammered a square peg through his palms and feet as they nailed Him to that cross, and it was from those nails that He was suspended on that cross.

It is important that we remember that He hung there, suspended, I’m pain, in agony, it anguish, while He cried out to the Father, until He eventually gave up the ghost.

Why is it important to remember all of these details?

Because it is so easy to forget. It’s one thing to remember that He died for our sins. It’s another thing entirely to remember the manner in which He died for our sins.

Because we humans have a high intolerance for pain. We frown at discomfort, and shriek at suffering.

We beg and cry to God to ease our pain when we suffer for ourselves, not to mention the thought of suffering on behalf of another.

For most of us it’s unthinkable.

We forget, however that it was in someone else’s suffering that we were saved.

It was through someone else’s death that we are now able to live.

So, when we go through life, and painful moments present themselves, let us not act as if God has not equipped us to endure. Because He has.

Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit. (John 12:24 )

Because remembering the details should cause us to pause and reflect on the love of God. What would cause Him to allow His son to suffer in such a way?

His love for the one who He created in His own image.

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. (John 3:16)

We often pray that Christ’s death on the cross not be vain in our lives. Whenever we pray this prayer, we also need to envision His anguish, and ask that it too, not be for naught.

So, when we start to moan and cry that we have not warranted the suffering that we happen to go through at any time, let us in that moment, trust God, just as Christ trusted Him in that very dark and grueling hour. Then, let us remember Christ, and that it was in anguish; in suffering, that Jesus gave us what we are truly not deserving of. The gift of everlasting life.

May the gift of His death, and the glorious rewards of His resurrection, be our inheritance. Now, and forevermore. Amen.

Share your thoughts that you might encourage your brethren.

In Christ.
The handmaid at His feet.

JESUS SAVES

One day, we were in the car and we drove past one of those signs that I’m sure many of us have seen before. It was a sign, in the shape of a cross that read “Jesus Saves”. My son, who was 13 then asked what was a very amusing question at the time, but later I admitted to myself was a very intelligent question:

Jesus saves what?

I was born into a Christian home. I went to church because my parents took me to church. It wasn’t until middle school that I began to attend church on my own. But then again, even that was simply out of habit. I developed a personal relationship with Christ when I was in high school. That was when I began to have a genuine interest in the message of salvation. That when I began to desire to know Jesus for myself. It was then that I began to come into the knowledge of what exactly it is that Jesus saves.

So, the question is not only valid, but it is extremely vital. It is also a question that every single Christian should be able to answer.

My life has been a series of lessons. Once one is learned, the Lord starts me on another one. The life lesson that I’m currently on is “The demonstration of love”.

Matthew 22: 36-40 says

“Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?” Jesus said to him, “ ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.”

The amazing thing about this God that we serve is that for everything that He instructs us to do, He always; directly or through a messenger or servant; shows us how to do it.

So, when we are given the commandment to love God and our fellow man, faithfully, the Lord shows us how.

How does one really know when they are loved? How does one believe that they are loved? The answer is quite simple. When they see, and feel love based on the demonstration of love from another.

God has been demonstrating his love for man since creation. First of all, He put us in a beautiful garden, furnished with everything that we could ever want and need. Then, even after we disobeyed Him, He continued to show His love with mercy, long suffering, and compassion. God demonstrated, and demonstrates his love by sending His word through His ministers and prophets to guide and lead us away from the path of eternal damnation.

But to solidify the deal; to ensure that those who received His love would be saved and taken care of for eternity, He demonstrated His love in the mightiest of ways. He offered up himself, in the image of his son. To be the sacrifice for those who truly love Him.

To an unbeliever, this makes no sense. But to those who have been called, and are trying to find their way to Him, we ponder this act, and based on the demonstration, and the reason behind it, we feel the love, which causes us to believe the one who has demonstrated the love.

So, when posed with the question “Jesus saves what”? One who can feel the love of God; one who has begun to establish a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, can confidently answer:

“Jesus saves me”!

For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. (Romans 6:23 KJV)

He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him. (John 3:36 KJV)

Jesus saves me from a destiny of damnation that sin condemns me to. The grace of eternal life abides in me as long as I abide in Christ.

You’ll notice I said “Jesus saves me”, not Jesus ‘saved’ me. The process of salvation is a continuous one for as long as we sojourn on this earth. Temptation, trials and tribulations are a daily occurrence. Satan’s mission to rob us of our crown of salvation is active every minute of every day. So, Christ’s effort to save us is a continuous process. A never ending gift from Him to those who receive His love.

But as “feeling loved” is a specific connection between the giver and the recipient; as “showing love” is a deliberate effort from the giver to the desired recipient, answering the question “Jesus saves what ?” Can only be answered on an individual basis.

Coming into the understanding of “What Jesus saves” is a personal and individual experience. No one can make you feel the love of God any more than anyone can force you to fall in love with someone.

It has to blossom in you. It has to awaken in you. And it is only then that you will feel it, begin to understand it, begin to walk in it, and begin to allow it grow you.

But where every human cannot fall in love with every human because we are all not connected to one another that way, all of those called by God do have the ability to love God because we ARE connected to Him that way.

God is actively doing His part. He has & continues to demonstrate His love for us, to us. Individually. Specifically.

He wants us to receive His love.
He wants us to understand His love.
He wants us to feel His love.
He wants us to share His love.

Because it is in doing all these that we will truly understand what Jesus saves.

Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, And to present you faultless Before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy, To God our Savior, Who alone is wise, Be glory and majesty, Dominion and power, Both now and forever. Amen.

Share your thoughts, that you might encourage your brethren.

In Christ.
The handmaid at His feet.

BEYOND CONVINCING

I was reading a passage in John chapter 3, and a phrase in the passage that Iʼve read many times before suddenly caught my attention.

Nicodemus was one of the Pharisees, and as we know, the Pharisees did not accept the message of Jesus Christ or believe Him to be the Messiah. In fact, they rejected His miracles and often claimed that He healed through the power of demons. But the passage tells us that “There was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews: the same came to Jesus by night…”

The depiction of the hour when Nicodemus came to see Jesus is very telling of the manner in which he came. In hiding. Under the cover of darkness, so, his fellow Pharisees would not see him and believe him to be giving ear to this man, who at the time, they were seeking to kill. But his opening statement to Jesus depicted that very fact. Nicodemus said:
“Rabbi, we know that You are a teacher come from God; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him.”

This very act and statement of Nicodemus indicated a very important thing: That he was not of the same belief as his fellow Pharisees that this Jesus was a fake. He believed, based on the miracles that He had seen Jesus perform, that He was truly a man of God. But he was struggling. He was struggling against everything he had learned thus far; he was struggling with the thought of how his fellow Pharisees would react if they even knew that he was doing what he was doing; he was struggling against what he had always believed, and how all of that was being brought to question in the light of what he now had before him.

He was struggling to see.
He wanted, just as he was, for Jesus to do something: say something, that would convince him that He was who He said he was.

But Jesusʼ answer to him made one thing very clear. Believing in the Son of God is not a matter of “convincing”. It is not even a physical process. It doesnʼt take place in our minds. Believing doesnʼt even take place in our hearts. It takes place in our spirit.

Jesus answered and said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. ”Nicodemus said to Him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his motherʼs womb and be born?” Jesus answered, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, ʻYou must be born again.ʼ The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit.” (John 3:5-8)

The phrase that I stated earlier as having caught my attention was what Jesus said in John 3:3: “Jesus answered and said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot SEE the kingdom of God.”
Though Nicodemus did not understand what was being said to him, Jesus was simply telling him that as long as the process was taking place in his head; as long as he was looking for a sign: as long as he was looking for Jesus to “convince him”, then he (Nicodemus) would never “see” the truth; the Kingdom of God; that is Jesus the Savior of the world.

Jesus was saying that Nicodemus would need to be born again, that is TRANSFORMED, from a flesh thinker, into a spirit processor. And it would only be then that his eyes would be opened and he would be able to see.

Again, processing Jesusʼ words in his flesh, Nicodemus literally translated “born again” as the physical process of giving birth. So, Jesus went further in verse 5 to state the type of birth to which he was referring. “Jesus answered and said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Which is the process of baptism. But what is critical to note here is that Jesus cautioned Nicodemus; even as He cautions you and I today, to not get caught up in the term “Born again”. Jesus cautions us not to believe for one moment that the culmination of the TRANSFORMATION lies solely in tooting the phrase “Iʼm born again”.

In verses 7-8 Jesus says:
“Do not marvel that I said to you, ʻYou must be born again.ʼ The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit.”

The TRANSFORMATION is in the receiving of His Spirit of Christ.
We believe that Jesus is because we are transformed by His Spirit. We know in our hearts that Jesus is Lord because we have been transformed by His spirit.

We “see” the Kingdom of God as eternal life in Christ Jesus because we have died from being flesh thinkers, and been born again into being Spirit processors.
It is not a mental process. It does not involve rationale, psychology or even reasoning. It requires one thing and one thing only: Submission!

The Spirit will call. But it is we who have to answer. The Spirit will stir. But it is we who have to yield.
The Spirit will prompt. But it is we who have to submit.
The spirit called, stirred and prompted Nicodemus.
That was why he stole away in the middle of the night to seek Jesus.
That was why in John 7:50-51 he said to his fellow Pharisees: “Nicodemus (he who came to Jesus by night, being one of them) said to them, “Does our law judge a man before it hears him and knows what he is doing?”
That was also why after Jesus was crucified, it was he who accompanied Joseph of Arimathea to take His body, embalm it with spices, wrap it in linen and place it in the tomb.

Without the Spirit of Christ living in us, we are condemned to living in the flesh. Running everything that concerns God, Christ and salvation through the filter of our minds, under the guidance of our so called wisdom and intelligence. This life without Christ is living in darkness, and it is this darkness that is the condemnation. We are only freed from this condemnation when we accept Jesus Christ. When we allow His Spirit to reveal Him to us. This is when we come into the light. (John 3:18-21)

It is important to note that this darkness is not accidental. All of the “reasoning & logical explanation” that rise up to to keep minds active and spirits unyielding is Satanʼs way of keeping people in darkness; away from the light. The light of the knowledge of Jesus Christ. Once we yield to Christ, that self that was was in darkness, the flesh thinker dies. The new person, the spirit processor is then born.

Brethren, no one can be convinced to believe that Jesus is Lord, and our mission as messengers of the gospel is not to convince anyone! It is simply to spread the good news of Jesus Christ. It is to share our experience of what the gift of salvation has done to us. How it has changed us. How Jesus has saved us. Jesus did the work of His Father. The 12 disciples did their work according to their individual calling. The women who ministered to Jesus did their work. The apostles did their work. Know your calling. Know your work, and do it. The Spirit of Christ will give everyone a chance to receive Him. They will have seen signs, heard testimony, and received the prompting. It is then up to them; up to you; up to me, to receive Him. and begin to live in Him. So that we can “see” the Kingdom of God, and in so doing, “enter in”.

Now unto him that is able to keep us from falling, and to present us faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy. To the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen.

Share your thoughts, that you might encourage your brethren.

In Christ,
The handmaid at His feet.