Monday Morning Meditation: A Path to Answered Prayer

After hearing a inspiring and convicting sermon on prayer yesterday, my Bible reading just “happened” to be John 4 today. I always think of John 4 as the story of the Samaritan woman and find myself relating to her, but God had something else to speak to me today.

After the story of Jesus’ work in Samaria, there is a short story that is headed “Jesus Heals the Official’s Son.” There are a few things that struck me about this story as it relates to prayer. It is not a long story, and I encourage you to read it here or in your Bible before you consider these thoughts of mine.

An Example of a Path to Answered Prayer

The man went to Jesus.
He traveled a distance to get there*. There was a cost and much effort to his prayer.

The man begged Jesus to come.
He first invited Jesus to be present.

He begged Jesus to heal.
He clearly stated what he hoped Jesus would do in his begging. It was a passionate prayer, a prayer of faith.

Jesus said that people need a miraculous sign to believe.
He may have been speaking directly to this man, but likely was also commenting on what had just happened in Samaria.

The man said, “Sir, come before my son dies!”
The man said, “I don’t know what that means; all I know is I love my son and am asking that You would heal Him!” He restated his hope and his prayer.

“Go,” Jesus replied, “your son will live.” The man took Jesus at his word and departed.
The man chose to believe all that the Son of God had spoken to him and left prayer, believing.

*The man headed straight home. Later, when his servants met him on the road toward home, the man learns his son was healed yesterday at about 1 PM (or the seventh hour). This means the man had traveled at least overnight to go to Jesus. And the servants confirmed that Jesus healed the boy at the moment He said He did.

The man and his whole household believed.
Healing is not just for the benefit of the person healed. It is a testimony to those around the person that God is alive and active.

What do we learn about prayer here?
There is a cost to prayer. My pastor’s sermon on prayer yesterday was based on Mark 1:35-39. It was fantastic, and will be available on iTunes within a day or two (Church is Brockton Assembly of God). As I considered my own prayer life in light of what he shared, a thought came to me: the time and effort I am willing to devote to prayer is often directly proportionate to my belief about prayer. In other words, if I only devote a little time to prayer, I likely don’t really believe that prayer works or that it will help.

Ouch. I hate it when I convict myself!! OK, not really. But it made me face the fact that sometimes I leave prayer, more discouraged than when I started, because I’ve already talked myself out of believing that God is going to move!

I sang this song at church yesterday. I was asked to sing a song about prayer due to the theme of the day, and this song came to mind. 18 years ago last week, I surrendered my life to Jesus while listening to a song by this artist, Keith Green.

I want my whole life to be a prayer to God. I want my thoughts and actions to reflect that I believe in a God who is near and who loves us and who desires to answer our prayers.

In this morning’s reading, I was most struck by verse 50: “The man took Jesus at his word and departed.” God has already shown me in about 15 different ways that learning about prayer and having a fuller prayer life is to be my theme of 2017.

OK, God, I’m listening and obeying. Lord, may that be my response to prayer. May I always leave prayer, walking in faith, taking You at Your Word.

What has God spoken to you concerning 2017?

Freedom Friday: Eyes on the Resurrection

I started a new devotional for Lent today.

Yes, I’m aware Lent doesn’t start until Wednesday 🙂 I just wanted some built-in space in case I miss a day.

It’s called 40 Days of Decrease by Alicia Britt Chole.

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Alicia subtitles it “A Different Kind of Hunger. A Different Kind of Fast.” She shares some thoughts along with readings from the Gospel of John (my favorite).

I’ve always loved Alicia’s writing style, and this book does not disappoint. Simple. Direct. Probing. Vulnerable. She’s the real deal.

The Scripture today was John 12:1-11, a favorite story of mine, where Mary anoints Jesus with a pint of nard. She was in awe of Him, so much so that she humbled/humiliated herself in her worship of Him.

It reminds me of one of my favorite worship songs, “Pour My Love On You.”

Like oil upon Your feet
Like wine for You to drink
Like water from my heart, I pour my love on You
If praise is like perfume
I’ll lavish mine on You
Till every drop is gone
I’ll pour my love on You

A life poured out.

One question I walked away with from the first day’s reading is this: are we hyper focused on our sacrifices during Lent, or are we awed by the coming Resurrection Sunday? It’s a reminder to keep my eyes on the resurrection everyday – the promise of a new day, a fresh start.

Consider getting 40 Days of Decrease or another devotional for Lent this year.

Freedom Friday: Does Jesus Accept You as You Are?

Imagine you’re at a bus stop.

Technically, it’s a free shuttle. The sign at the covered bus stop says that the free shuttle runs on this route.

You wait. You wait some more. Several buses come and go, but no free shuttles, and none of them end up at your needed destination.

Finally, you ask someone walking up the street if they know anything about the free shuttle.

“Yes, the free shuttle goes on this route and will take you right where you want to go. Just sit back; relax. This is the route for the free shuttle. Don’t worry.”

Relieved, you sit back in the shelter of the bus stop and wait. You check your email on your phone, text a few friends, check your Facebook. Soon, you realize another hour has passed.

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Just then, another bus comes, and someone gets off. “Please,” you say, “do you know when the free shuttle will be coming? I’ve been waiting a long time!”

“It’s Sunday,” the man replies. “The shuttle doesn’t run on weekends.”

***********

3 weeks ago, I wrote a post on what allows me to still wear my LIVESTRONG bracelet and to still listen to the song, “Healer.” What allows me to do that is grace.

This week, with some big news in the Christian media (which I’m not going to comment on :)), I kept hearing the phrase: “Jesus accepts people as they are.”

I hear this phrase a lot from my American Christian friends. I can’t say that in the past this phrase ever bothered me all that much. I can’t even say I really gave it much thought until those recent conversations.

Something about the way the phrase was used didn’t sit right with me. I started to wonder if this phrase actually accurately depicts the fullness of the Gospel.

We generally use this phrase as another way of saying, “We shouldn’t judge where people are. Jesus accepts people where they are and so should we.”

But what if that’s only telling people half the Gospel?

Mary Heathman, in speaking at a conference I recently attended, said, “Grace and truth are two sides of the same coin. They are not two different coins.” She went on to say that one without the other isn’t grace or truth; it’s pseudo-grace and pseudo-truth. Grace and truth, in essence, are inseparable. You can’t have one without the other.

I immediately think of John 1:14:

“The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.”

What if “Jesus accepts you as you are” is just the grace part? Can we really have grace without truth if Jesus was the fullness of both?

Isn’t that sort of like telling someone that yes, the shuttle you’re waiting for does run this route, but not telling them the specifics of how to get on the bus?

Did Jesus accept the rich young ruler where He was? How about the woman caught in adultery?

Can you think of examples in Scripture where Jesus accepted someone who was stuck in sin where they were (grace) without calling them to something better (truth)?

Because I can’t.

This verse is the closest I can think of to the sentiment of “Jesus accepts you as you are” stated by Jesus and recorded in Matthew 11:

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.

Sigh. We all give a big exhale when we read this verse. What a peaceful, embracing sentiment. Jesus continues:

Take my yoke upon you

Now hold up! That doesn’t sound very “come as you are”-ish! Exchange my weariness and burdened self for a yoke?

Yes.

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.

Jesus’s yoke may be easy, but it’s still a yoke. His burden may be light, but it’s still a burden.

Perhaps this is why He implored the crowds listening to His teaching to count the cost before committing to being His follower:

 “Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it? For if you lay the foundation and are not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule you, saying, ‘This person began to build and wasn’t able to finish.’

“Or suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Won’t he first sit down and consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand? 32 If he is not able, he will send a delegation while the other is still a long way off and will ask for terms of peace.

“In the same way, those of you who do not give up everything you have cannot be my disciples.” Luke 14:28-33

The problem may very well be with our definition of the word “accept.” However we couch it, the thought that Jesus might accept or embrace us where we are is not necessarily reassuring.

Because I don’t want to stay here.

What we do know is that Jesus is always calling us to so much more than what we’ve experienced thus far. He calls us to abundance. Therein lies the hope of the Gospel: the promise of life-changing transformation.

For that, I’m all in.

Freedom Friday: Fourteen Years

It’s January 4th.

I saw the date several times today. I even wrote it on something and thought, That sounds important. 

I then took my littlest out with me to run errands. I just put a couple of CD’s in my car 2 days ago, the only 2 I could find (still nowhere near unpacked): Keith Green and Sara Groves.

Soon it came on:

There is nothing new
I could give to You
Just a life that’s torn
Waiting to be born

I Can’t Believe It.* The song I was listening to that week of January 4th 14 years ago when Jesus invaded my life.

Rivers overflow

Friends may come and go
But You’ve been by my side
With every tear I’ve cried
I don’t actually know the day Jesus grabbed ahold of my heart. It happened several times during the week of January 4th as I wrestled with the truth of who God says He is.
 
Oh, I can’t believe that You’d give everything for me
I can’t believe it, no, I can’t believe it, no, no
I know You never lied, and so it’s just my foolish pride

That I just won’t receive it,
It’s so hard to receive it in my heart 

And make the start with you

I just could not believe that someone would die for me. Who would do that? It doesn’t even make sense! But I desperately needed a fresh start. I was failing miserably at life, at relationships, at – well, most everything. I longed to believe that Jesus is who He says He is.

Help me, help me now
I just don’t know how
You know, I’ve been so alone
Please melt this heart of stone

There was no longer any question on that day in January of 1999 that I desperately needed Jesus.

I have a serious gap in pictures during that time, but here’s a gem from about 6 months later:

I still do need Him. There is nothing magical that happens at the moment of salvation (if you have a “moment,” yet it’s often a process) that makes us less reliant on God. If anything, I believe we become even more keenly aware, through the power of the Holy Spirit and our spiritual eyes being opened, that apart from Him, we really can do nothing.

Especially recently, I’m intimately and painfully aware of my weaknesses and failures and continual dependence on Him. I know the truth of 2 Corinthians 12:10, that when I am weak, I am strong in Him, but I don’t know if the power of that truth has been fully recognized in my soul, or embraced in my heart.

Yet when I shared with my dear husband why January 4th is significant, I got choked up. I know that I know that I know that Jesus has deeply transformed my heart and my life.  He continues to change me and set me free, one breath at a time.

And I continue to choose to trust Him. Trust that He is good, that He is my only hope. That He cares about me so deeply and passionately that His perfect will was for His only begotten Son to suffer, be crushed, punished, condemned, and to die so that I would not be punished or condemned, but may have peace and life till it overflows.

“I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.” John 14:27 (NLT)

Thank You, Jesus, for life. For breath. For a fresh start. For joy in my sadness, light in my darkness, truth in my confusion, peace in my anguish, sight in my blindness, hope in my desperation. For when I am weak, Your grace becomes sufficient, and then, I am strong.
 
Jesus, let’s go for at least 14 more!
*I much prefer this acoustic version of the song to the one that is typically played. It’s raw, it’s pure, it’s just Keith Green and his piano – how I like him best.

Freedom Friday: Avoiding Moral Failure

This is a topic that has been brewing in my mind for a while. This is due in part to things I’ve been reading in the Bible (Isaiah, Acts & James right now, with a little of Hezekiah’s story mixed in), assignments I’ve been working on for grad school (a big essay on plagiarism), and partly because of life events I see occurring around me.

I also just needed to write this for me. It’s a timely reminder that we don’t just “fall into” sin. We will sin. Otherwise, we’d be perfect like Jesus 🙂 But there is a difference in the way various sins impact your faith and your life. I may lose my temper with my spouse today, and that may break trust a little momentarily (especially if it’s a pattern of mine), but if I were to have an affair, that changes our relationship in a different way.  All sin may be equal in the eyes of God (in the sense that there aren’t particular sins that are more difficult for Him to forgive or required Him to hang from the cross longer), but some sins are inherently different because of the way they impact our lives.

There are things we can do to actively avoid finding ourselves in major situations of compromise. Here are some suggestions.

1. Be watchful over your thoughts
Your thoughts matter. Proverbs 23:7 says “For as he thinks within himself, so he is.”

In the article 5 Lies that Lead to an Affair, author Julie Ferwerda shares her experiences about how she ended up choosing to have an affair. She writes, “Few people fall into adultery overnight. As with other ‘big’ sins, having an affair is usually the result of a series of small compromises in our thoughts, choices, and behaviors.” And the place it began for her was in her thoughts.

It begins with a thought, a temptation. Temptation isn’t sin, as I’ve written before. It’s our choice to nurture that temptation that can become sin, rather than choosing to lay it before the Lord.

One of the Freedom Steps is Think Like a Free Person. I share there how God commands us to take every thought captive and make it obedient to Christ. The battle of freedom is a battle that begins in our minds.  “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” 2 Corinthians 10:5 (NIV1984)

Be watchful over your thoughts.

2. Be honest with your intentions
James says that we have “evil desires at war within you” James 4:1 (NLT). Believers are not immune from this. James writes earlier in his letter, “Each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.” James 1:14-15 (NIV1984)We need to dig deep inside of ourselves and pray that God would help us be honest about our intentions in every challenging situation.Toward the end of 1999, I had been a Christian less than a year when I met a girl who had been raised in a Christian home but whose family had walked away from God. I couldn’t fathom how anyone could do that, and I desperately wanted to help her. I do believe that initially, my intentions were pure; however, my resolve for purity quickly faded, and we entered into a physical relationship.

Jeremiah writes (17:9 NLT), “The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked. Who really knows how bad it is?”

I wanted this woman to know Jesus, but I was still deeply broken beyond my own understanding. This is why I wrote Who’s Got Your Back? The disciples went out two by two for a reason. This is why we need community, to lay ourselves as honestly as we can before others, and trust the Holy Spirit to guide us into all truth (John 16:13), including truth about ourselves.

Be honest with your intentions.

3. Be upfront about your actions
I don’t like the phrase we often use in Christianity to describe our sinful actions. We say we “had a fall” or we “stumbled.” To me, those phrases do not take responsibility for the choices and compromises that led to that “fall.” It’s not as if we are walking down a path and all of a sudden, sin jumps out and grabs us! No. That’s in direct contradiction to the end of 1 Corinthians 10:13 (NLT): “When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure.”

In the relationship mentioned above, I didn’t simply “fall” into it. I made a series of questionable choices (not all of them sinful) that ultimately led to grave sin. This is why we need to, once again, stay connected to believers, honestly sharing about our choices and actions, and even the things we are thinking of doing.

Be upfront about your actions.

4. Be desperate for the Lord
God is able. Really. He is able. He is strong enough, He is big enough, He is loving enough. He is enough. Say it with me: He is enough.
So often we live our lives, making our plans, living as we wish (and not even in a sinful way, necessarily), inviting God in occasionally. We simply forget to include God in every decision, every thought, every actions.

We need to cling to God as if our lives depended on it – because they do. “Apart from me, you can do nothing,” Jesus said (John 15:5).

Later in James 4:4b-5 (NLT), James writes, for emphasis, “I say it again, that if your aim is to enjoy this world, you can’t be a friend of God. What do you think the Scriptures mean when they say that the Holy Spirit, whom God has placed within us, jealously longs for us to be faithful? He gives us more and more strength to stand against such evil desires.”

Sin is crouching at our doors, always (Gen. 4:7). Through God’s strength and power, we can subdue it and be its master.

“Because the Sovereign LORD helps me, I will not be dismayed. Therefore, I have set my face like a stone, determined to do his will. And I know that I will triumph.” Isaiah 50:7

Satan deceives; that’s his nature. Sin is always crouching at the door, desirous of us. Yet we can receive God’s help, determine to do His will, and know we will triumph.

Lord, help us.

Freedom Friday: The Reality of Freedom

Yesterday, I read this, God’s Word through Isaiah (44:21-22):

“Pay attention, O Jacob,
for you are my servant, O Israel.
I, the Lord, made you,
and I will not forget you.
22 I have swept away your sins like a cloud.
I have scattered your offenses like the morning mist.
Oh, return to me,
for I have paid the price to set you free.”

The price has been paid. The cross is empty.

I keep telling you all that this season has been so challenging. I’m starting to think maybe all seasons are challenging, in their own way.

So many things are uncertain. No steady jobs, our home back in Boston still unsold, my father passing away, no beds or dressers or couches (but we do have a kitchen table!).

I’ve taken my father dying especially hard. I suppose that’s within the realm of normal. I’m not even sure during this time I’ve had the faith of Mary or Martha, as shared in one of my favorite Biblical stories (John 11). They struggled to see God’s power and promises through their tears of grief. While Martha stated that she believed Jesus could do anything, her words showed the unbelief that still lived in her heart.

When Martha first saw Jesus:

“If you had been here, my brother would not have died.”

When Jesus said Lazarus would rise again:

“I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.”

And when Jesus asked that the stone be moved:

“But, Lord,” said Martha, the sister of the dead man, “by this time there is a bad odor, for he has been there four days.”

And yet, she believed in the midst of her unbelief.
******
I am Martha lately. I believe, yet often I act or think as if I don’t. I have lots of good excuses as well. I’ll spare you the details.

A few weeks ago, I tweeted:

Freedom is not a dream I made up; freedom is a reality Jesus created.

Freedom is real. It’s possible. It’s within reach.

Martha wanted to believe that freedom for her brother was possible, yet she focused on the appearance of what she could see.

I know freedom is possible. I’ve seen it, felt it, tasted it.

It’s time to get back to basics folks.

As I shared at a recent conference, a free person actively overcomes life-controlling issues through grace-inspired, spirit-empowered choices.

Spend time with the Freedom Giver.

Spend time with Freedom Seekers.

Embrace grace.

Think like a free person.

Act like a free person.

The reality of freedom is simple a series of good choices. One foot in front of the other, with God’s help.

Freedom Friday: What is Abundant Life?

Today, we are continuing the Jesus series as part of Freedom Friday.

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. John 10:10

What is abundant life?  What exactly did Jesus come to give us?

Abundant life is not free of pain or trials or heartache. Instead, it’s full of perspective.

Perspective.

How do you view your life? How do you view the challenges that you face?

As I began typing this, I immediately thought of Wosne.  I read her story recently in this blog post.  When her husband and the father of her 4 children died suddenly, she had no way to support herself or her family.  She wished God would end her life.

Let’s stop at that point in the story.

I have never been in this woman’s shoes, not even remotely, though I’ve certainly had situations where I wished God would just come and take me home.

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy……

But God had other plans.

Two of her children were able to get sponsors through World Vision.  She was able to buy chickens and make a living by selling the eggs.  She bought more chickens, and then a cow, selling its milk. She eventually was able to purchase a modest four-room house for herself and her children: dirt walls with a tin roof.

The post describes Wosne this way:

The day we met Wosne she was radiant. Her children encircled her and quietly sat as we spoke through an interpreter. She shared her story of hardship yet beamed as she recounted God’s provision for her family. 

She had become so prosperous, in fact, she had adopted two other children in the village. She even had a couple of pieces of used furniture and electricity—a single bulb hanging from the ceiling. 

By our standards, she was still living in abject poverty. By the standards of her village, however, she was one of its wealthiest citizens.

A typical Ethiopian village

She was asked:

“Wosne, if you could have anything else, what would it be? How can we help you?” Her answer stunned us. 

“Nothing,” she declared. “Nothing at all. I have everything I need. I am the happiest woman in the world.” And she meant it.

Perspective.

When I started writing this post a month or so ago, I thought I’d write that abundant life is bountiful joy and overflowing peace and lavish love.  And it does bring all those things, if we keep a godly perspective.

Following Jesus is so much about how we choose to look at things.  Do we choose to look at our lives through His eyes, through the truth of His Word?

What frames your perspective?

There are many, many posts here about the way we think.  Here are a few to help you flesh out what I’m saying.

Think Like a Free Person, part 1 & part 2
Resources for the Journey

Freedom Friday: The Whole World Could Not Contain

I finished the gospel of John this week.  I didn’t know what to read after that.  I just wanted to sit there as I felt the weight of this final verse:

“Jesus also did many other things. If they were all written down, I suppose the whole world could not contain the books that would be written.” John 21:25 (NLT)

The whole world could not contain…..

Can you imagine?
John wrote his gospel after Matthew, Mark and Luke had written their accounts.  He included several stories the others did not.
And yet still, the whole world could not contain the accounts of all that Jesus had done.
I’m stumped, as my five year-old loves to say.
I’m stuck on that verse.
I want to go back and read the four gospels again, gently processing all the miracles Jesus performed, all the words He spoke, the encouragement He gave to the outcasts, the harsh words for the pharisees and teachers of the law, the commands He shared to take up my cross, the warnings He gave to count the cost and not enter into following Him without careful consideration, the passion He possessed for the lost and for His followers, the perseverance He demonstrated at the temptation and on the cross, all the many things that I can read and imagine and almost touch.
And yet, the whole world could not contain.

I make Him so small.  With my fear, my doubt, my worry.

My striving.

I need to choose to trust.
I need to stop worrying.
I need to follow His call to the lost and the broken.
I need to follow as He beckons me to take His hand and step out on the water.
I need to be more like Him.  
The Earth seen from Apollo 17
from Wikipedia
I invite you to stop for a minute.  Imagine the whole world, the earth, covered in books.  The books are so numerous that they are literally falling off (let’s suspend gravity for a minute).  These books are overflowing with stories of all that Jesus did.
For you. For me.  For people like us.
So that we may know Him and be like Him.
So that we may know how He interacted with broken people like ourselves.
So that we could see His heart, His love, His power, His strength.
So that we could feel the declaration of our worth as He hung from the cross.

“Jesus also did many other things. If they were all written down, I suppose the whole world could not contain the books that would be written.” John 21:25 (NLT)

Imagine, and give Him thanks.

Freedom Friday: Totally Surrendered

I mentioned last week I’ll be starting a series on Jesus, what He said, why He came, and what He asks of us.

When people ask me the key to learning to walk in freedom, I answer without pausing:

It’s total surrender.

“He who has found his life will lose it, and he who has lost his life for My sake will find it.” Matthew 10:39 (NASB)

Yet my heart aches. I see so little surrender in the people around me.

I became a Christian in college. So did many of my friends. We attended campus ministry together.

Mike O, my spiritual mentor, and myself (looking rather zombie-like)

The campus ministry I’ve been part of has a strong emphasis on sharing Jesus with the world. And thus, many of my friends and me left college, ready to take on the world for Christ!

Or so we thought.

A good number of these people are no longer even following Jesus.

Some of those that do follow Jesus live a pretty standard American life. Some attend church regularly, some give financially, some are involved in humanitarian and/or evangelistic efforts.

But not many.

I’ve found myself wondering, Why? What changed?

I need to first look at myself.

While I’d like to believe that I live a totally surrendered life, I am self-aware enough to know I have plenty of blind spots.

Self-reliance is always a challenge for me. So is pride. We want what Jesus has to offer. We also want the Christian life to come easily, without sacrifice on our part. We don’t really want to do what Jesus requires of us in order to live the life He desires us to live.

What does Jesus require of us?

A lot. More than we care to admit.

Did you ever notice that Jesus would often try and talk people out of following Him? He said this, as recorded in the gospel of Luke, chapter 14:

If you want to be my disciple, you must hate everyone else by comparison—your father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even your own life. Otherwise, you cannot be my disciple. And if you do not carry your own cross and follow me, you cannot be my disciple.

But don’t begin until you count the cost. For who would begin construction of a building without first calculating the cost to see if there is enough money to finish it? Otherwise, you might complete only the foundation before running out of money, and then everyone would laugh at you. They would say, ‘There’s the person who started that building and couldn’t afford to finish it!’

Or what king would go to war against another king without first sitting down with his counselors to discuss whether his army of 10,000 could defeat the 20,000 soldiers marching against him? And if he can’t, he will send a delegation to discuss terms of peace while the enemy is still far away. So you cannot become my disciple without giving up everything you own.

Does that sound like the gospel of today? Where is total surrender spoken of today?

Jesus said to the people who believed in him, “You are truly my disciples if you remain faithful to my teachings. And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:31, 32 NLT)

As I found myself heartbroken over a recent conversation with a friend, I had to stop and pray, Let it begin with me, Lord. Break my self-reliance and my pride. Strip me of the things I cling to that keep me from living a fully surrendered life. All I want is all You have, Jesus.

Let the truth set me free, Jesus, by empowering me to being faithful to Your teachings. Let Your words sink so deeply into my heart that a totally surrendered life naturally flows out of me.

Let it begin with me, Lord.

Freedom Friday: Why Jesus Said He Came

I’ll be starting a series on Jesus, what He said, why He came, and what He asks of us.

A few months ago, I began to wonder: why did Jesus say He came? We often say, “Jesus came to….,” but I wanted to research Jesus’s own words about His purpose in coming.

Here’s what He has to say. I believe all references are NIV1984.

“I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.” Matthew 5:17

“I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” Matthew 9:13

“Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to turn ‘a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, 
a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law – a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.’” Matthew 10:34-36

“The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Matthew 20:28

“Jesus replied, ‘Let us go somewhere else—to the nearby villages—so I can preach there also. That is why I have come.’ So he traveled throughout Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and driving out demons.” Mark 1:38-39

“On hearing this, Jesus said to them, ‘It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.’ Mark 2:17

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I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” Luke 5:32

“I have come to bring fire on the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled! But I have a baptism to undergo, and how distressed I am until it is completed! Do you think I came to bring peace on earth? No, I tell you, but division. From now on there will be five in one family divided against each other, three against two and two against three. They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.” Luke 12:49-53

“For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost.” Luke 19:10

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For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me.” John 6:38

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Jesus said, ‘For judgment I have come into this world, so that the blind will see and those who see will become blind.'” John 9:39

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The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” John 10:10

“I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness. As for the person who hears my words but does not keep them, I do not judge him. For I did not come to judge the world, but to save it.” John 12:46-47


’“You are a king, then!’ said Pilate. Jesus answered, ‘You are right in saying I am a king. In fact, for this reason I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.’” John 18:37

This is not your typical Freedom Friday in that I’m not going to tell you about my life and experiences. I’m also not sharing my thoughts on these verses. Rather, I encourage you to really read and dig in to these verses. Ask the Holy Spirit to lead as you learn about Jesus and His purpose for coming to earth.