Be Ready…Draw Your Sword!

There are certainly no dull moments having 2 little boys! My oldest son Connor is 5 years old and my youngest son Bryce is 3 years old and even though they have many moments of not getting along, they do have moments where they play together wonderfully…what I would consider “happy mommy moments!”

Oftentimes, my boys pretend to be warriors and run around the house with Styrofoam swords. And Connor…being the older brother…tends to take advantage of his little brother…not surprising.

When Connor chases Bryce…I have observed… that Bryce will not draw his sword to either defend himself or strike Connor back. He runs away! (I guess I would too if I was 3 years old!)

When Connor catches up to Bryce and strikes him with his sword, Connor will then run and hide. Bryce feeling defeated, begins to cry. Ok, game over…

As I began to reflect upon this scenario with my boys, I thought…Gosh, Bryce has a weapon…his sword…to fight Connor back with!  But he won’t draw his sword! He won’t pull out his sword and actually use it! (Ok, I know he’s 3 years old but stay with me here!)

Just as Bryce has a weapon…this sword…in his possession to fight…

We too as Christians have a weapon…not a Styrofoam sword…but the Sword of the Spirit…to fight…to fight against the enemy and his lies, deception, and schemes!

And let’s not fool ourselves…there is an enemy…Satan…the devil…whatever you wish to call him…who wants more than anything to defeat us as Christians and make us less effective in spreading the Good News of the Gospel and salvation to others.

And that about wraps it up. God is strong, and he wants you strong. So take everything the Master has set out for you, well-made weapons of the best materials. And put them to use so you will be able to stand up to everything the Devil throws your way. This is no afternoon athletic contest that we’ll walk away from and forget about in a couple of hours. This is for keeps, a life-or-death fight to the finish against the Devil and all his angels. Ephesians 6:10-12 Message

So what exactly is this sword of the Spirit? It is the Word of God! The Bible!

The sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Ephesian 6:17 NIV

The sword of the Spirit is actually the final piece of armor we are to put on in the Armor of God. (See Ephesians 6:10-17) And the sword of the Spirit…the Word of God…is the only piece of armor in the entire Armor of God that can be used offensively in fighting and attacking the enemy.

Did you get that? The Word of God is our weapon to fight against the enemy!

Why is the Word of God such an effective weapon?

The Word of God refers to God’s written Word, the incarnate (or comprehensible) Word, and His spoken Word (John 1:1-14). In addition, the Bible is God-breathed (2 Timothy 3:16). What is truly amazing is that when God breathes, life comes into existence! (Genesis 2:7)  Way too cool!

The Word of God is alive and so powerful! God created all things out of nothing by simply speaking! And therefore, the best offensive weapon in spiritual warfare is the truth of the Bible!

For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. Hebrews 4:12 ESV

Clearly, God’s Word is truth and in it there is great power.

So, are you drawing your sword? Are you drawing this powerful weapon…the sword of the Spirit…the Word of God?

The Greek word translated “sword” refers to a near razor sharp double edged sword (about 18 inches long).

Roman soldiers did not use long and heavy swords. Their swords were short and stubby and razor sharp on both edges… designed to be ideal for very close quarter combat. Roman soldiers practiced frequently with this sword because their life depended on perfecting its use. They had to become strong, quick and dexterous to use this weapon intended to thrust and penetrate.

So how about you? Are you studying…memorizing…God’s Word…or just merely reading it? Are you learning and meditating on God’s Word …like your life depended on it?

The passage in Matthew 4:1-11 is a perfect example of the power in using God’s Word to fight against the enemy…and even more amazing…it’s Jesus using God’s Word to fight the devil!!!

The devil tempted Jesus 3 times in the desert while Jesus was fasting. Jesus fought each temptation by stating, “It is written…” referring to the Word of God.

What more reason for us to study, know, and use God’s Word to fight the enemy…If Jesus did, so should we!

We must fight against the lies of the enemy…the deception…and his schemes that may come to us in feelings and thoughts of discouragement, depression, anxiety, low self-esteem, and temptation.

What are you doing to fight the enemy? Is it game over…like with my son Bryce? Or are you drawing your sword and using it?

You can’t draw your sword and expect to win without studying God’s Word.  We must be ready so that when we draw our sword, we can use it with confidence because we have studied and memorized the Word of God.

I can undoubtedly say that I have used the Word of God to fight against the enemy in my own personal life…and won!

Let’s not wait to come up against the enemy and then begin to study the Word of God. Let’s get the Word of God inside of us. Let’s be ready right now! Let’s draw our swords and stand against the enemy…his lies, deception, and schemes…right now!

Reflection Points:

1)      What are you doing to fight the enemy? Are you drawing your sword and using it?

2)      Why is the Word of God such an effective weapon?

3)      Are you studying…memorizing…God’s Word…or just merely reading it? Are you learning and meditating on God’s Word …like your life depended on it?

4)      What are you doing to get the Word of God inside of you so you can be ready to fight the enemy’s lies, deception, and schemes?

Action Points:

1)      Use the sword of the Spirit…God’s Word to fight against the enemy. It isn’t enough to just draw our swords…we must be ready to use it!

2)      Begin studying and memorizing scriptures so that you will be prepared when the attacks come. And when you fight back…SPEAK the word of God out loud! I have experienced great power in speaking God’s Word out loud!

3)      Pray that the Lord would show you specific scriptures to memorize and have in your arsenal…specific scriptures for such feelings and thoughts as discouragement, depression, anxiety, low self-esteem, and temptation.

4)      Don’t wait until you are up against the enemy to begin studying and memorizing God’s Word. Be ready NOW!

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Relying on His Power

I recently heard a story of a lady who had a small house on the seashore of Ireland at the turn of the century who was quite wealthy but also quite frugal. The people were surprised, then, when she decided to be among the first to have electricity in her home.

Several weeks after the installation, a meter reader appeared at her door. He asked if her electricity was working well, and she assured him it was. “I’m wondering if you can explain something to me,” he said. “Your meter shows scarcely any usage. Are you using your power?”

“Certainly,” she answered. “Each evening when the sun sets, I turn on my lights just long enough to light my candles; then I turn them off.”

Ok Really? Sounds kind of silly, doesn’t it? I mean I know she was frugal but she had access to the power of electricity yet she didn’t use it…or barely!

As silly as it sounds, this story is a great parallel for us as Christians. We as Christians are given power as well …great power…Holy Spirit power…yet many times…most of the time…we don’t use it!

Everyone who trusts Christ to save them receives his Holy Spirit in their lives, but few people experience the power of the Holy Spirit because they still depend on their own power instead. Rick Warren from “The Daniel Plan”

I will be the first to say that being a Christian is not easy! But who said it would be? If it was easy, everyone would be doing it! Right?

But God already has this all figured out! Not surprising…

God doesn’t expect us to live our lives as Christians in our own power and strength. It would be impossible…and that’s why when we accept Jesus as our Savior, the Holy Spirit comes and lives inside of us…in order to empower us.

So why do we keep trying on our own?

But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth. Acts 1:8 NIV

So you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves. Instead, you received God’s Spirit when he adopted you as his own children. Now we call him, “Abba, Father. Romans 8:15 NLT

Are you relying on yourself…your own power…your own strength…to walk out your life as a Christian? Why? Is it your pride, need for control, or lack of trust in God causing you to depend on yourself?

So many times we try to please and obey and do what is right in God’s eyes… in our own strength…in our own power… whether we are trying to be a better wife, a better mother, or a better Christian woman…

And we become tired…worn out…discouraged…and eventually we give up. We realize that our own power can only go so far.

But do you know about this power that you have as a Christian? Do you know about the power of the Holy Spirit that lives inside of you?

I am not talking about just any kind of power….I am not just talking about the man power (or woman power) …our will power…that we are so accustomed to…

I am talking about God’s mighty power…His great power…His “dynamite” power!

The word “power” can be translated as the Ancient Greek word dunamis which means “miraculous power, force, strength” depending on the context. Dunamis is the root of such modern English words as dynamite, dynamo, and dynamic.

And interestingly, dunamis is used 121 times in the New Testament and translated into some of the following English words: ability, abundance, power, strength, might, mighty, virtue, mighty deed, wonderful work, worker of miracles

That sounds like some great power! Certainly more power than my own power or any human power! Doesn’t it?!

But you belong to God, my dear children. You have already won a victory over those people, because the Spirit who lives in you is greater than the spirit who lives in the world. 1 John 4:4 NLT

But you shall receive power [ability, efficiency and might] when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses in Jerusalem and all Judea and Samaria and to the ends – the very bounds – of the earth. Acts 1:8 AMP

Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. Ephesians 3:20 NLT

It really is impossible to live our Christian life apart from the power and presence of the Holy Spirit.

I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever. John 14:16 NASB

Depending on the Bible translation, this scripture refers to the Holy Spirit as our Advocate…our Helper…our Comforter…our Counselor…our Redeemer.

One commentary states:

The word used here, signifies an advocate, counsellor, monitor, and comforter. He would abide with the disciples to the end of time; his gifts and graces would encourage their hearts. The expressions used here and elsewhere, plainly denote a person, and the office itself includes all the Divine perfections. The gift of the Holy Ghost is bestowed upon the disciples of Christ, and not on the world. This is the favour God bears to his chosen. As the source of holiness and happiness, the Holy Spirit will abide with every believer forever. Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary

So how can we rely on the mighty power of the Holy Spirit?

1)      Relying on the Holy Spirit’s power means not depending on your own power. Surrender your will to Him. Surrender your willpower to Him…and by the way…this includes our pride.

2)      Relying on the Holy Spirit’s power means praying for the Holy Spirit to help you. Check out what the bible says about the Holy Spirit helping us…

When you are arrested, don’t worry about how to respond or what to say. God will give you the right words at the right time. For it is not you who will be speaking–it will be the Spirit of your Father speaking through you. Matthew 10:19-20 NLT

But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you. John 14:16 NASB

But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. He will glorify me because it is from me that he will receive what he will make known to you. John 16:13-14 NIV

For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. Romans 8:14 NIV

Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. Romans 8:26-27 ESV

These scriptures clearly depict how the Holy Spirit helps us by…giving us the right words to say…teaching us…guiding us…leading us…and helping us in our weakness.

3)      Relying on the Holy Spirit’s power means having faith in God. It means trusting that the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Truth.

I will ask the Father to give you another Helper, to be with you always. He is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor recognizes him. But you recognize him, because he lives with you and will be in you. John 14:16-17 ISV

I don’t know about you but it gives me great relief to know that I don’t need to walk out my life as a Christian in my own strength but that I am empowered by the Holy Spirit!

My prayer and desire is that we all as Christians will experience the power of the Holy Spirit and be encouraged that we don’t need to depend on our own power. Recognizing our limitations and weaknesses is the first step in God demonstrating His power through us!

My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness. So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. 2 Corinthians 12:9 NLT

Reflection Points:

1)      Are you relying on yourself…your own power…your own strength…to walk out your life as a Christian? Why? Is it your pride, need for control, or lack of trust in God causing you to depend on yourself?

2)      Do you know about the power of the Holy Spirit that lives inside of you?

3)      How can you rely on the power of the Holy Spirit in your life?

Action Points:

Review the outline above about how we can rely on the power of the Holy Spirit.

 

 

 

 

Obstacles of Faith

A few years ago, my son Connor was invited to a birthday party at an indoor playland. One of the birthday activities was the opportunity for the kids to climb a rock climbing wall that was as high as the ceiling inside the facility.

This was Connor’s first attempt at a rock climbing wall…and due to his very cautious nature…I wasn’t sure how he would respond.

Would he see the other children’s unsuccessful attempts and change his mind? Would he feel afraid as he looked down and realized he was so high off the floor? Would he think, “I am just not strong enough to climb a wall so high.” …Or would he stay focused on his climb…stay focused on the goal to reach the top of the wall?

After the attendant harnessed Connor, I watched intently as he began to climb higher and higher…carefully weighing his decisions of which pegs to grab with his hands and which pegs to set his feet on. And before long…guess what?  He had reached the top! He was focused on his goal…he was believing to reach the top…and he made it! Yes certainly a proud mommy moment!

What are believing God for today?

A physical or emotional healing…a job…a financial burden to be lifted…restoration in your marriage…a child to bear…an addiction to overcome…salvation for a loved one?

What obstacles are standing in the way of your faith?

Mark 5:25-34 depicts a truly amazing example of a woman with great faith. She didn’t have great faith because she was someone special…She had great faith because she was desperate and wouldn’t allow her obstacles to stand in the way of her faith and trust in Jesus…the one who would ultimately heal her.

24…A large crowd followed and pressed around him. 25And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years. 26She had suffered a great deal under the care of many doctors and had spent all she had, yet instead of getting better she grew worse. 27When she heard about Jesus, she came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, 28because she thought, “If I just touch his clothes, I will be healed.” 29Immediately her bleeding stopped and she felt in her body that she was freed from her suffering.

30At once Jesus realized that power had gone out from him. He turned around in the crowd and asked, “Who touched my clothes?”

31“You see the people crowding against you,” his disciples answered, “and yet you can ask, ‘Who touched me?’ ”

32But Jesus kept looking around to see who had done it. 33Then the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came and fell at his feet and, trembling with fear, told him the whole truth. 34He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.” NIV

This woman’s need? This woman’s focus? This woman’s goal?…to touch Jesus and be healed.

If I just touch his clothes, I will be healed. Mark 5:28

But this woman certainly had some obstacles in the way of her healing…in the way of her faith…on her way to the very source of her faith…Jesus!

This bible passage is so awesome! As we dig deeper,  three important and interesting obstacles and aspects of this woman’s strong faith in Jesus become apparent.

Point 1: There is a large crowd following Jesus…so large that they pressed all around him. This same account recorded in Luke actually says… the crowds almost crushed him. Luke 9:42 NIV

Obstacle 1: This woman could see that there was a pressing…a crushing…large crowd that she had to overcome to reach Jesus.

Point 2: This woman had been a subject to bleeding for 12 years.Mark 5:25 Let me break this down further…That’s 4,383 days…144 months…624 weeks…105,192 hours. Can you even imagine?! I can’t stand not feeling well for just a few days! Let alone weeks…months…years like this woman!

Obstacle 2: This woman could feel weak and not well physically…and there’s a good chance that she did probably feel a lack of physical strength after losing so much blood and her body fighting for so many years.

Point 3: And finally, what about the fact that she spent all she had on doctors who couldn’t figure out how to help her and she even got worse! That would make me very frustrated…hopeless…and very bitter! How about you?

Obstacle 3: This woman could easily think… “If the doctors can’t figure out how to heal me, how can Jesus heal me?” She may have thought that there was no hope for her.

This woman clearly had a number of faith obstacles to overcome.

She could have easily given up on faith and gone home after seeing the large pressing crowd around Jesus.

She could have easily given up on faith and gone home because she felt too weak to push herself through the crowd to Jesus.

She could have easily given up on faith and gone home knowing that no one has been able to heal her thus far…so how could Jesus.

But she didn’t! She didn’t allow what she saw…how she felt…what she thought…stand in the way of her faith and for what she was believing Jesus for!

Are you?

Are you focused on what you see? …Are focused on how you feel? … Are you focused on what you are thinking? ….maybe all 3?

Are these obstacles standing in the way of your faith…in the way of what you are believing God for in your life today?

Sometimes it can be easier to focus on what we see…how we feel…what we think…and feel discouraged and lose hope.

This woman stayed focused on her goal…being healed. This woman stayed focused on getting to Jesus.

Oh, and did I mention the fact that her seemingly incurable condition made her ritually unclean (Leviticus 15:25-27) and excluded her from most social contact?! And her goal was to push through a crowd of people (thus touching people) to touch Jesus…thus making Him unclean under Jewish law?!

I don’t believe that she didn’t actually care about Jesus or anyone else in the crowd becoming unclean…but her faith was so great that again it overcame these obstacles!

Just like my son Connor…Just like this woman…We too can overcome these obstacles of faith if we stay focused on Jesus…by not allowing what we see…what we feel… what we think…get in the way of our faith.

For we walk by faith, not by sight. 2 Corinthians 5:7 ESV

Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. Hebrews 11:1 NIV

We  need to stay focused on our faith in Jesus as we are believing Him for things in our lives…whatever that may be.  Let’s not allow these obstacles stand in the way of our faith…because they certainly don’t stand in the way of Jesus…as we see it was ultimately this woman’s faith that healed her.

Jesus said to this woman, “Daughter, your faith has healed you.” Mark 5:34 NIV

Reflection Points:

1)      What are believing God for today?

2)      What obstacles are standing in the way of your faith?

3)      Are you allowing what you see…how you feel…what you think…stand in the way of your faith today?

Action Points:

1)      Stay focused on Jesus instead of what you see happening around you…what you feel…and what you are thinking. You can stay focused on Jesus by praying, reading His Word, and relying on other Christian women who will encourage you and continue to point you back to Jesus.

2)      Study and memorize scriptures about faith. Then when you have a moment and you lose your focus you can confess these scriptures to help you and encourage you to stay focused on Jesus.

3)      Study other biblical examples of people who trusted in God and how their faith was rewarded. Read the “Hall of Faith” in Hebrews 11. You will be encouraged when you hear what God has done for others and your faith will increase believing that God will do it for you too!

Dare to Ask…

Who likes exams? I mean…really? I recall the many exams I endured through in grade school, college, and then grad school…and I can’t say that I really enjoyed any of them! Can you?

Of course, there were exams that you walked away from feeling pretty good…feeling that you may have gotten a decent grade. Those exams may not have been so bad.

But then there were exams that you walked away from feeling just terrible…feeling like you guessed way too many times or left way too many blanks…those are the exams I certainly don’t miss! And then the days of worry and anxiousness afterwards…as you wait for what seems like forever… to receive your grade…hoping that the teacher instituted a curve.

Now after you have completed all your schooling…at least for some of us…just when you thought the exams were over… they really aren’t! I mean life is full of exams and tests…some you pass and some you fail.

And just as life is full of tests, so too is our spiritual life as Christians…full of tests, full of exams…as we try to do what is right…as we try to do what is pleasing in God’s eyes…as we strive to ultimately seek God’s righteousness.

But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Matt 6:33 NIV

We are certainly far from being perfect but as Christians we should still strive to seek God’s righteousness whether we succeed…or fail.

Righteousness means “to be in right relationship with God; to live righteously.” And thank goodness for God’s grace because living righteously is not always easy!

And the tests, oh yes, they do come, don’t they? …Tests of our character…tests of our commitment…tests of our love…tests of our patience…tests of our self-control…this list is far from over if you know what I mean!

Even now as a wife and mother, I may not sit down and take any formal exams but I can certainly say I am tested. Tested in my marriage…tested with my children…tested in my job…tested yup pretty much in life!

A great biblical example of a man who faced many tests in life…a man who passed some but also failed some…a man who desired more than anything to stand approved in the sight of God… a man whose main priority in life was to seek righteousness… a man considered to be after God’s own heart…was David.

And with all the tests that David failed…with all the mistakes he made…with all the sins he committed…with all the issues he had (just like us!)…David dared to ask God something so great…He dared to ask God to test him!

Ok, yea sure…that’s exactly what we all want to do, right? Like it isn’t bad enough to be tested already and then ask to be tested by God? Really? But that’s what David did! When he prayed, he asked…

Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. Psalm 139:23-24NIV

Examine me, God, and know my mind, test me, and know my thoughts. See if there is any offensive tendency in me, and lead me in the eternal way. Psalm 139:23-24ISV

What a prayer request! Knowing David’s heart and his sincere desire to be pleasing in God’s sight, he stands as a great example for us.

We too as Christians should consider the need for the Lord to search us…examine us…test us…try us…like David. We too should consider the need for the Lord to reveal any wicked or offensive ways in us and to lead us in the right way.

As one biblical commentary states…

As the Lord knows us thoroughly, and we are strangers to ourselves, we should earnestly desire and pray to be searched and proved by his word and Spirit. If there be any wicked way in me, let me see it; and do thou root it out of me. The way of godliness is pleasing to God, and profitable to us; and will end in everlasting life. It is the good old way. All the saints desire to be kept and led in this way, that they may not miss it, turn out of it, or tire in it. Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary

What a great point…that as the Lord knows us thoroughly…we are strangers to ourselves.

We may not always see or know the things in us that may not be pleasing to God. And therefore, it would benefit us in our desire to live righteously to ask the Lord to examine us and show us.

And so, God can and will test us in order to show us…not because He wants to know…but so we know! (Trust me…He already knows). That way according to Psalm 139:24, we may be led in the right way.

Side note: Don’t confuse being tested with being tempted….God will test us…we can be certain of that…but God will not tempt us…

When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. James 1:13-14NIV

Have you dared to ask God to test you? Have you asked God to examine you and reveal to you things that are not pleasing to Him or may offend Him?

Or are you afraid of what He may show you?

In actuality, God really doesn’t need us to ask Him…He can just show us …as He already does through various ways such as through His Word, through the Holy Spirit, through circumstances, and even through others.

But by asking God we show Him our desire to seek His righteousness…our desire to please Him. We also show him our humbleness and sincere heart to repent and change our ways.

Periodic spiritual self-examinations are so important to determine areas in our lives that we need to work on and areas that are not pleasing to God. And a big part of these self-examinations is praying and asking God to show us.

And He will show us! But sometimes what is so difficult is not necessarily asking Him but receiving what He shows us. God will show us these areas in our life through various ways but many times we may not accept it or act on it.

We serve a compassionate, gracious, and merciful God…a God who loves and cares for us so much…a God who wants to see us seeking first His kingdom and His righteousness. (Matt 6:33)

I know I am not perfect… especially when my patience is tested with my children…or my self-control is tested in my speech with my husband…but my heart’s desire is to please my God. And if asking God to search me, examine me, and test me will help me in seeking His righteousness, then I will be asking!

As we strive to live righteously before  Him…like David…let’s make it a habit to periodically ask God to search us…examine us… and yes, even test us so we can live more and more according to His Word…so we can live more and more like Christ.

Dare to ask…dare to pray Psalm 139-23-24 today….and know that God is pleased with your humbleness and sincerity and willingness to seek His righteousness in your life.

Reflection Points:

1)      Have you ever prayed and asked God to show you areas in your life that are not pleasing to Him? Do you periodically do a self-examination and ask God to show you these areas as you seek His righteousness in your relationship with Him?

2)      Do you ever feel tested in your spiritual life? Have you ever asked God to test you like David did?

3)      Are you afraid of what God will show you? Are you ready to receive and make necessary changes in your life to live righteously…to live according to God’s Word?

Action Points:

1)      As Christians, we should strive to seek God’s righteousness. And that takes us receiving what areas God shows us that may not be pleasing to Him. He can show us through His Word, through the Holy Spirit, through circumstances you have gone through and through people in your life.

2)      It’s important to be able to receive and respond to these areas or aspects of your life that are not pleasing to God. It is important to take steps to repent and change so that we can grow in our attempts to live righteously.

3)      Be daring enough to ask God periodically to search you…examine you…test you…and try you. Be daring enough to ask God to reveal to you what you can improve upon in seeking His righteousness.

Full Stone Jars…A New Year’s Challenge

Well it’s about that time again! There is something about the New Year that stirs us…energizes us…excites us…encourages us…motivates us! Doesn’t it?

Maybe because it’s a time of new beginnings…fresh starts…new goals…or new resolutions. Or maybe it’s a time of making changes…making improvements…making commitments…or getting our priorities in order.

As we celebrate the New Year, we may begin to reflect upon 2013 and determine what we would like to change, improve, or do differently in 2014. We can set new goals and make new resolutions for the New Year…and if you are like the rest of our nation those goals usually include improving your health by exercising more and changing your diet! …which by the way is one of the Nation’s Top New Year’ Resolutions each year! Certainly no surprise I know!

And what is also so awesome about the New Year is that it gives us the opportunity to kick start our personal relationship with Jesus and grow stronger spiritually…especially if we weren’t as devoted in 2013 as we would have liked to be.

The New Year can challenge us to spend more time with Jesus…grow in greater intimacy with Him…dig deeper into His Word …and pray more often.

But  I would like to propose to you a new New Year’s challenge…a challenge that will take your personal relationship with Jesus to another level…a challenge that will most certainly increase your faith…a challenge that will truly transform you… The challenge? …Full Stone Jars. Confused????? Well…check out John 2:1-11 and see… Are you up for this challenge?

Shortly after Jesus was baptized, he attended a wedding in Galilee in a town called Cana… which, by the way, was a week-long festivity celebrating the new life of the married couple. Jesus valued these weddings … Why? Because they involved the whole town and everybody came. It was actually an insult if you didn’t attend!

At this particular wedding, they ran out of wine…. which is a complete embarrassment and disgrace to the hosting family during these Jewish wedding celebrations.

3When the wine was gone, Jesus’ mother said to him, “They have no more wine.”

4“Woman, why do you involve me?” Jesus replied. “My hour has not yet come.”

5His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.”

6Nearby stood six stone water jars, the kind used by the Jews for ceremonial washing, each holding from twenty to thirty gallons.

7Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water”; so they filled them to the brim.

8Then he told them, “Now draw some out and take it to the master of the banquet.”

They did so, 9and the master of the banquet tasted the water that had been turned into wine. He did not realize where it had come from, though the servants who had drawn the water knew. John 2:3-9 NIV

Jesus transformed these full stone jars of water…these jars that were filled to the brim with water…into wine! Yes truly a miracle!

But think about this for a minute…what if …just what if the servants only filled the stone jars ½ full or ¾ full?

Since Jesus transformed the full stone jars of water into wine, I would venture to say that Jesus would probably have transformed only ½ or ¾ of the water into wine if that’s what the servants gave Him… wouldn’t you think?

I mean, of course, we are talking about Jesus and He can really multiply any amount water into as much wine as He really wants (kind of like how He multiplied the 5 loaves of bread and 2 fish in Mark 6:41) but my point here is…

The servants gave Jesus full stone jars of water to transform…

So here’s the challenge…

How much of your life are you giving to Jesus today?

Are you giving Him your entire life…your complete life…your full life to transform…just like the servants who gave Him full stone jars of water to transform? Or are you giving Him only ½ or ¾ of your life?

Just how much of your life are you willing to give to Jesus to transform? And what is holding you back from giving your life fully? Is it your finances, your relationships, your social lifestyle, what you think will fulfill you and make you happy? Is it fear, lack of discipline, or your need to be in control?

Just as Jesus transformed the full brim-filled stone jars of water to wine…so too will He transform just as much of our lives as we give him.

Jesus wants us to give our lives…surrender our lives… completely to Him…not just part of our lives. He wants to transform us so we can look more and more like Christ. And this act of surrender must take place daily and will continue to take place throughout our entire lives.

And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns. Philippians 1:6 NLT

God is in the business of transforming just like He transformed the water into wine…but he can’t transform what we aren’t willing to surrender to Him.

Giving our full life to Jesus is certainly not easy…but filling six 30 gallon stone jars of water and giving them to Jesus is no easy task either! (Oh, by the way, the milk in your fridge? It’s only one gallon.)

The servants did as Jesus commanded… No questions asked! No delays! No hesitations!

Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water”; so they filled them to the brim. John 2:7 NIV

Why are you hesitant in giving your life and every aspect of our life fully to Jesus?

Don’t you think that your Creator…the Creator of the Universe…the Creator of Time…the only One who knows the beginning and the end (way before you were born…and way after you are gone!)…the only One who is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow…the only One who gives you eternal life…Don’t you think he can handle your life better than you can?

And those who know your name put their trust in you, for you, O Lord, have not forsaken those who seek you. Psalm 9:10 ESV

Don’t hesitate…don’t wait…don’t delay!

Let’s accept this New Year’s Challenge…Give Jesus Full Stone Jars. Let’s give our life and every aspect of our life fully to Him to transform today…this year…and throughout our whole lifetime. You will no doubt see your personal relationship with Jesus grow and His transformations will blow your mind beyond what you could ever think or imagine! …Just like water into wine!

I pray you will take this challenge and be ready to be amazed at what He can do with what you give Him in 2014!

Reflection Points:

1)      How much of your life are you giving to Jesus today?

2)      Are you giving Him your entire life…your complete life…your full life to transform…just like the servants who gave Him full stone jars of water to transform? Or are you giving Him only ½ or ¾ of your life?

3)      What is holding you back from giving your life fully? Is it your finances, your relationships, your social lifestyle, what you think will fulfill you and make you happy?

4)      Why are you hesitant in giving your life and every aspect of our life fully to Jesus?Are you afraid? Are you not disciplined enough? Or do you just want to be in control?

Action Points:

1)      Jesus wants to transform your life. But he can’t transform what you aren’t willing to let go of. Surrender our life fully to Him today.

2)      Determine what is holding you back from giving your life fully to Him. Pray and ask the Lord to help you let go. Pray for His strength to not give in to your fleshly desires and for Him to transform your mind and heart to line up with His desires.

3)      Make a commitment to grow in your relationship with Jesus in 2014. Whatever that may mean for you…wherever you at in your relationship with Him. Whether it’s spending more time with Him…going deeper in His Word…praying more often. Maybe it’s sharing Jesus with others, maybe it helping the needs of others, maybe its volunteering your time at your church.