Tag Archives: faithfulness

Healing power of prayer

 

 

 

He Hears Us

“Is anyone among you suffering? He should pray. Is anyone happy? He should sing songs of thanks to God.  Is anyone among you sick? He should send for the church leaders and they should pray for him. They should pour oil on him in the name of the Lord.  The prayer given in faith will heal the sick man, and the Lord will raise him up. If he has sinned, he will be forgiven.  Tell your sins to each other. And pray for each other so you may be healed. The prayer from the heart of a man right with God has much power.”  James 5:13-16

After learning that my son, Jacob, had a severe head injury, we continued to get bad news.  We learned that he had five bleeds in his brain and Diffuse Axonal Injury, which means widespread damage.  Doctors told us that Jacob needed to wake up within a 48 hour window and if he didn’t, the odds were not in his favor.

Anyone who knows Jacob, knows he doesn’t do anything the easy way.  We stood over his bed for two days praying over him, talking to him, playing his favorite songs, and still nothing.

We played Aaron Keyes song, “Sovereign Over Us” night after night at Jacob’s bed.  I hung on to the words, “You are working in our waiting,” and Your plans are still to prosper, You have not forgotten us, You’re with us in the fire and the flood.”  So in the 47th and a half hour, I started screaming and shouting at him to wake up.  I had worked myself up into the biggest panic of my life.  As I walked out to the waiting room, my jaw dropped and I lost it.  The waiting room was filled with friends, students, and family.

https://youtu.be/VPkMbhydU9I Sovereign over us by Aaron Keyes

 

I don’t know how many were there, but it blew my mind.  Some were gathered in circles praying. Friends showed me on social media all of the schools that were praying before school, football teams wearing blue ribbons, and people wearing his football button.

Blue Ribbons Everywhere

 

Psalm 30:2 “LORD my God, I called to you for help, and you healed me.

Psalm 107:19-21 “Then they cried to the LORD in their trouble, and he saved them from their distress. He sent out his word and healed them. he rescued them from the grave. Let them give thanks to the LORD for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for mankind.”

 

Psalms 41:2-3 “The LORD protects and preserves them-they are counted among the blessed in the land-he does not give them over to the desire of their foes. The LORD sustains them on their sickbed and restores them from their bed of illness.”

 

Jeremiah 17:14 “Heal me, LORD, and I will be healed; save me and I will be saved, for you are the one I praise.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The next phase was so slow.  We were so blessed to have two nurses in the family, Justin and Nikki, with us for the first two weeks nonstop.  They asked the hard questions and questions that I did not even know to ask.  I started keeping a notebook and a journal to keep track of things.  When Justin and Nikki had to return to work, my husband, Nicky, and son, Nick, tried to fill their roles.  Two weeks went by, and Jacob still had not awakened from his coma.  Doctors came in and out every day with the same routine.  They pinched and twisted on Jacob’s chest hoping to see what they call “purposeful movements.”

Surrounding communities were praying for Jacob. Matthew 9:35 “Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Proverbs 17:17 “A friend loves at all times.”

I was floored when I saw Jacob respond by twisting his arms inward and then pulling up.  My excited emotions quickly faded as doctors explained that what Jacob was doing was considered “posturing” and not purposeful movements.  Jacob’s posturing indicated severe brain injury and that he might not wake up.

One afternoon, in walks my cousin, Craig, with his Bible in hand and another one for us,  He talked about James 5 and the healing power of prayer.  He discussed with us the specifics of James 5 and asked us if we wanted to pray, confess our sins, and anoint Jacob with oil.  The next few moments are something that really can’t be put into words.  I had never witnessed anything that compares to it.  Craig read James 5, we did all that it said to do, and then Craig anointed Jacob with oil. Of course I had read James 5 before, but never thought of putting it into action in my life.  I know God sent Craig that day and I know that we were not in the hospital room alone.

This was the turning point for our family and this is what our next few days looked like:  Twitching of the eyes, then, eyes slightly peeking through, left leg moving, facial expressions, following commands (holding up fingers, sticking tongue out), fever down, oxygen levels improved, our first thumbs up, and then the word “stable” was said.  On day 13, his breathing tube came out.  I couldn’t watch because we were told if he didn’t start breathing on his own, the tube would go back in and we would be looking at a trach.  As I stood looking out of the window praying, my husband, Nicky, had turned around to watch the tube being taken out.  I felt Nicky take a deep breath and then put his arm around me.  Then Dr. Rutledge excitedly said, “He’s breathing mama!”  Another mountain moved for Jacob. All I could think was what a blessing this is and how thankful I am for a praying family, praying friends, and praying communities.

 

 

If you are still “Praying for Jacob Browder,” we are so thankful that you are.  My other favorite part of Aaron Keyes song is:

“Even what the enemy means for evil, You turn it for our good. You turn it for our good and for your glory.  Even in the valley You are faithful.  You’re working for our good. You’re working for our good and for your glory!”

“Is prayer your steering wheel or your spare tire?” – Corrie ten Boom

Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. – Mark 11:24


Power Of Prayer – How do I tap into it?
The power of prayer is not the result of the person praying. Rather, the power resides in the God who is being prayed to. 1 John 5:14-15 tells us, “This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us – whatever we ask – we know that we have what we asked of him.”  No matter the person praying, the passion behind the prayer, or the purpose of the prayer – God answers prayers that are in agreement with His will.  His answers are not always yes, but are always in our best interest. When our desires line up with His will, we will come to understand that in time. When we pray passionately and purposefully, according to God’s will, God responds powerfully!  http://www.allaboutprayer.org/power-of-prayer.htm

Counting My Blessings,
Susan Browder

Faith over Fear

 

Faith Over Fear:

“Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see.”  Hebrews 11:1

I grew up in a small town in Alabama called Boligee and I am the middle of three sisters. I had a hard working dad and the most loving, kind, and patient mother.  My father, Richard, gave me a love for cooking, fishing, and the outdoors. He taught me the importance of a garden and taking care of the land. My mother, Brenda, gave me a love like no other and she taught me so many lessons about life.  One of the most important lessons that I learned from her was how to treat people.  She never said it out loud, she lived it.

I was not an easy teenager to raise.  Brenda was so patient with me and had so much faith in me.  She had faith that God would keep working on me and that he wouldn’t give up on me.

Now, I am a wife and a mom to two sons.  My husband, Nicky, is a person of who I am so proud.  He is 19 years sober and is the hardest worker that I know.  He has given our sons the love of hunting and fishing, he taught them to be respectful of everyone, and to always work hard for what you want.  He has grown into the best husband and friend.   Nick, is 24 and married to the sweetest girl, Mallory. They are the perfect fit.  Nick flies by the seat of his pants, always has a smile, and doesn’t sweat anything.   Mallory is very organized and is a planner.  They have dated since they were 15. God knew what he was doing when he put them together.  Nick has taught me more than I have ever taught him.  He is so much like my mom and has the biggest heart of anyone that I know.  He is also his brother’s keeper.  Jacob is my youngest who is 18.  He is the daredevil of the family.  He has always lived life like it is his last day.  He has taught me to not sweat the small stuff and to never give up.  Almost three years ago, I learned what the verse Hebrews 11:1 really means through Jacob’s injury.  As parents, my husband and I were always able to fix just about anything within our family, we thought…  Then, one night on September 6, around 7:00, we were brought to our knees where our family faced the darkest time in our lives.

It was when we read God’s word and realized there was not a thing we could do to change or fix this season in our life. We had nothing else to cling to but faith.  As we trusted God hour by hour, day by day, month by month, and year by year. He continues to show up BIG in our lives and in Jacob’s restoration. We are in awe every day. Jacob has taught me to let my faith be big and that God is always near.

We have learned through the biggest trial in our life that if you believe with a heart of faith, know that God is near, trust God, and pray, that God hears us and he will provide strength and help us.

We have sticky notes on our bathroom mirrors of verses that are so important to us. I want to leave you with one of Jacob and my favorite verses.

Regularly we quote together Ephesians 3:20 which says, “He can do immeasurable more that we can ask or imagine.”

God Bless,

Susan Browder

Transition

 

 

Now Jesus Himself began His ministry at about thirty years of age, being (as was supposed) the son of Joseph  Luke 3:23a

And when the Sabbath had come, He began to teach in the synagogue. And many hearing Him were astonished, saying, “Where did this Man get these things? And what wisdom is this which is given to Him, that such mighty works are performed by His hands! 3 Is this not the carpenter,   Mark 6:2-3a

The number thirty in scripture is important.  It is representative of a significant event or responsibility.  The age of thirty is the age of spiritual maturity.  Among the Jews it was the age one could be “fully recognized as a rabbi” and ready for the priesthood.  (Numbers 4:3)   We see this throughout Scripture:  Joseph went before Pharaoh, David became king, John the Baptist began his preaching.  

Thirty is considered by psychologist and sociologist to be the age of transition “when one re-evaluates choices made in their twenties.”  For some it is a crisis of identity and self-confidence.  Many restart “things dropped twenty years ago.”  The displeasure with society, feeling trapped by responsibilities, having a desire to teach or become a healer (desire a life of significance), or desire for a simpler life can cause one to attempt to restart life to better “fit their heart.”  Thus a transition or transformation vs crisis is wrought.

From the outside looking in, it would certainly appear Jesus experienced this trial of transition.  He began a ministry as an itinerant preacher/teacher and left a much more lucrative profession of tekton, or craftsman, builder.  By lucrative I mean he got paid for services rendered!  He was by no means wealthy.

Jesus was well educated in the Torah and His wisdom had earned Him the title of Rabbi and even Rhabboni, “my master, my teacher.”  (Matthew 7:29)  He was well known and respected for He had “favor with God and man.” (Luke 2:52)   By this age, Jesus would have completed His own handwritten copy of the Torah for His own use (Numbers 17:18-20) as prescribed by the education of every Jewish boy and would have been a master at the craft He had learned from Joseph.  His previous occupation would have put Him in contact with all types of people as He traveled about as a tradesman building shelves, doors, tools, and repairing furniture items.  So life lessons on dealing with personalities and expectations are well learned.

Jesus is not suddenly ready to begin.  He has been preparing since He was a toddler. (Proverbs 1:8)  He attended Passover every year and met all the requirements of not only a teacher (rabbi), but a  prophet, priest, and a king.  (Hebrews 1:1-3)   As He put down His hammer and chisel and walked out into the world, He was doing what He had been preparing to do.  He was not walking away from something but into His purpose and God’s plan for His life.  Jesus did have significant lifestyle changes:  from having an income and caring for others to total dependence on others, (Luke 8:3) and from having a home to no place to lay His head.  (Luke 9:58)  He went from being in favor with His neighbors to being rejected in His hometown.  (Matthew 13:57. Mark 6:4, Luke 4:24)

Jesus faced what many face today when it appears one suddenly changes direction and walks away from a career, family, or lifestyle.  Some think you are a “brick shy of a load.”  Those closest to you may attempt to “get you some help.”  Was He tempted to explain and justify His actions?”    God had other plans for Jesus and He may have other plans for us.  Scripture reminds us: “Being confident of this very thing, that He which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:  (Philippians 1:6).  Our days are numbered (Psalm 39:4), let us  “press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”  (Philippians 3:14)

Life is one of constant transition.  It is not just a midlife occurrence.  We transition from childhood to adulthood, from single to married to widowed or divorced, we transition in and out of parenting, and into and out of the working world.  How did Jesus face the trial of transition?  Jesus faced this trial head on!  Press ON!  May our Father “Make you perfect in every good work to do his will, working in you that which is well pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ; to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.”  (Hebrews 13:21)  

Building 429  Press ON

 

Treading in very good company as life transitions,

Yvonne Jones

 

 

Jesus Temptations: His Name

 

Hebrews 4:14-16

14 Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession.

15 For we have not an high priest which cannot* be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.

16 Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.

This is a favorite scripture for me and as I pray I bring to the Lord’s remembrance (actually it is for my benefit!) this admonition to “come boldly to His throne to obtain mercy and grace and help in my time of need,” which is every cotton-pickin’ day!

Several years ago, verse 15 caught my attention.  Jesus was in ALL POINTS TEMPTED LIKE WE ARE?  For REAL?  Well, I decided to make a list of all the “temptations” and trials I had experienced and then see if this was true.  (Yes, I believe the Word is the infallible Word of God, but how can this be that He has been tempted by every way you and I and everyone else has been tempted.  After I made my list, I got sidetracked onto something else and never really “chased this rabbit.”  But just recently, as I watched the movie The Young Messiah, I was once again struck by Jesus humanity and how even from the very beginning the enemy was a constant ominous shadow over the life of Christ and this scripture once again beckoned me to dig into the life of Christ from this vantage point.  If we truly understand Jesus human struggle, then,  He will feel all the more accessible because we will wrap our heads and hearts around the fact HE truly UNDERSTANDS  the “feelings of our infirmities.”  This is why we find grace, mercy, and help.

Jesus’ life is proof we CAN live godly lives through the power of the Holy Spirit and by daily choices to follow God’s Word.    In Max Lucado’s book, God Came Near, he writes how Jesus struggled with burps, bumps, bruises, body odor, and He bled real blood when cut.  He had a snotty nose, got an upset stomach and spilled his milk.  This expresses his physical humanity in terms that make Jesus a real person.  But, what will make Him approachable are His emotional, psychological, and spiritual experiences.  Was Jesus bullied?  Was He ever really sick with fever?  What made Him feel vulnerable?  Was He plagued with unwholesome thoughts?

I think this one scene from The Young Messiah is a great portrayal of the spiritual battle Jesus  faced from an early age:

https://youtu.be/q91XU5EcWYs

The Young Messiah

The scripture says Jesus was tempted in all points.  What are the points we should look for as we examine His short life?  According to Dr. Allen Atkins, it can be found in I John 2:15-17:

15 Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.

16 For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.

17 And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.

Dr. Atkins said, “all sin (temptations to sin) can be placed under one of these headings:  Lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes or the pride of life.”  (rough paraphrase from my sermon notes)

But according to James, trials can lead us to temptations and to the need to make choices to succumb to our own desires (lusts) or choose God’s way.  (James 1:12-15)  Job is a great example of this truth.

Was Jesus’ life really pressed with trials and temptations like you and I?  Was He not somehow protected from the world by the angels “lest He strike His foot on a stone?”  (Psalm 91:12, Luke 4:11)   This is an important question for us to answer.  We cannot just read it and really feel the truth of this if we don’t look honestly at His life and examine His experiences under the magnifying glass of this Word.

I must admit, taking on this “rabbit chase” is a bit daunting.  Can I risk seeing Christ in His humanity–warts and all?  Will my life have to make new adjustments based on all I see in His life? Will it change how I respond to situations with others?   Jesus is Savior and I just spent more than a month digging into the sacrifice of His life for me and its impact on those who witnessed the final sacrifice needed for sin.  Will His life reveal a challenge common to man I have been oblivious to?  Will I be forced to give up comforts or pleasure?   As I ask myself these questions, the still small voice reminded me Mary and Joseph were the ones to share the journey with Jesus and it began even before He was born, with Mary being labeled as a “fallen woman,” Joseph was likely viewed as delusional, and thus Jesus was labeled a “son without a father.”  (Matthew 1:19)  Harsh labels.  Harsh words hurled at a child.   Some labels never die.  But the labels were lies.  The enemy used Nazarenes to shout the lies into the ears of Jesus’ family and Jesus as a small boy.  This attack was a “pride of life” attack.  Who are you? Who are your parents?   Where do you come from?  “What side of the tracks were you born on?”  Your appearance, stature, disability, deformity, or any other name calling opportunity:   A constant reminder and a constant attack against the image of God come to earth.  A constant attack of the image of God in us.

Do you know anyone in this position?  Are you in a similar circumstance?  Jesus understands and feels your pain!  His being touched by our infirmities began at conception!  His very NAME was attacked.  His name IS who He is!  Jesus, Son of God and Jesus bar Joseph, son of man.  Immanuel, God with us.  Your name is who you are, not the label hate has attached to you.

Take heart dear ones, you too are created in the image of God and you are precious in His sight.  Jesus understands the sting of the words you hear. Jeremiah 1:5 reminds us:  “Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a ……..”  God created you with a purpose!  He knows the plans He has for you, plans to give you hope and a future and not harm you!  (Jeremiah 29:11)   You too have a beautiful name.

My own sweet Grandmother and Mamma wore this label.  Two more godly women you could not meet.  Christ understood their pain, shame, and suffering in a cruel Bible belt society where we are often quick to point out others faults and flaws to deflect facing our own.  Thank you Jesus for healing their hearts with your understanding.  Thank you for the impact they were in my life!

Treading in who HE is,

What a beautiful name — Hillsong

(The Young Messiah is a fictional depiction of a year in the life of Jesus as a seven year old based on known history of the culture and historical records of the times in which He lived.   It does a beautiful job of depicting HIs humanity and His struggle in coming to understand He is God’s Son and the difficulties faced by His family to protect HIm and guide HIm in HIs journey.)

Crown of Glory

 

The Crown of Glory:

“Shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly; not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock.

And when the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory.” I Peter 5:2-4

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, each of us exercise them accordingly; if prophecy, according to the proportion of his faith; if service, in his service; or he who teaches, in his teaching; or he who exhorts, in his exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness.” Romans 12:6-8

“And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ.” Ephesians 4:11-13

As a christian, we all should know these verses.  These verses tell us that we have been given work to do here after salvation.   Salvation is free but there is work to be done. Ephesians tells us that we are saved by grace; it is not a result of our goodness, deeds or service.  That same chapter tells us “we are created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” Ephesians 2:8-10.

Our reward in heaven will reflect how much we have done with what we have been given. Have we become what God intended us to be?  Have we been faithful to do the good works He prepared beforehand?

The crown of glory will be given to those who equipped the saints, who used their efforts to build the body of Christ.  Yes, it is a pastor’s crown or a minister’s crown.  BUT…. we are ALL ministers!  If you are a Christian, you are a minister and if you are a minister then you have a ministry. Something I heard from a dear pastor teacher. Thank you God for the pastors that are faithful in the ministry of equipping the body.  Now the pastor may have done his job, but we are also have a responsibility to carry out our ministry.  If you are not feeling equipped, dear brother or sister, may I please exhort you?  Have you done you part in exercising your gift?  Your pastor or your teacher can give you the instructions, the insights into the Word of God that should guide you but you have to use them, exercise them, “work out your salvation with fear and trembling.” (Philippians 2:12)

I have been challenged by reading Dr. Erwin Lutzer’s book, Your Eternal Reward: Triumph and Tears at the Judgement Seat of Christ”.  Dr Lutzer quotes A.J. Gordon, “I cannot think of a final divine reckoning which shall assign the same rank in glory, the same degree of joy to a lazy, indolent and unfruitful Christian as to an ardent, devoted, self-denying Christian.  If this life is a training ground for greater responsibilities, believers will be thoroughly judged; then once eternity benefits they will differ in glory as lightbulbs differ in brightness.”

OUCH!!

From the same book, Earl Radmacher is quoted.  “The person I am becoming today, is preparing me for the person I shall be for all of eternity”

Sometimes we need a good long look at what our souls look like.  Are we changing into the image of Christ?  Or are we becoming more and more like the world?  Are we laying up treasures in heaven or accumulating treasures here on earth?

The reality is we must be committed to one side or the other.  No man can serve two masters.

We must chose as Joshua did in Joshua 24:15 “If it is disagreeable in your sight to serve the LORD, choose for yourselves today whom you will serve.”

 

 

https://youtu.be/ew53fdyVVrY

 

Streaker in the garden

Pavel Popov's --Judas betrays Jesus with a kiss

Pavel Popov’s –Judas betrays Jesus with a kiss

And they (the disciples) all forsook him, and fled.
51 And there followed him a certain young man, having a linen cloth cast about his naked body; and the young men laid hold on him:
52 And he left the linen cloth, and fled from them naked.  Mark 14:50-52

All I can say is “For Real?”  I immediately thought of Ray Stevens’ song, The Streak.

I digress.   Obviously, this painter was as fascinated by these three verses as I am.   How have I missed this juicy tidbit for so long?  I asked one of my Beauties who studied Greek in college and she said it was not discussed. Yes, I was looking for a quick explanation.    So off on a treasure hunt I went.  The information ranges from literal to symbolic.   What I think is unimportant.  What is important is what the Word says.  It has been my experience often times the scripture is both literal and symbolic.   Some theologians tie all references of “young man” in Mark’s gospel together as being one in the same person.  This requires more brain cells than I have to connect those dots for surely if this were one in the same person, Mark would have learned his name over the course of time and repeated contact with this young man.

It seems this “linen cloth” over a “naked body” references a body that has been buried.  It is the same Greek words used when Jesus’ body is wrapped in linen and laid in the tomb.  WHAT?  A resurrected “young man” in the Garden of Gethsemane.  Are you kidding me?  When and why did he get resurrected? If this is true, no wonder he is following Jesus closely.    Why are the “other young men” trying to catch him?  Where does a naked man run in the night who was dead?  My head is spinning.

The blog worddetective (https://theworddetective.wordpress.com/2015/08/26/the-mystery-streaker-in-the-garde/) has some interesting thoughts on who this young man is and what his life represents. You can read this for yourself and draw your own conclusions.

The Garden of Gethsemane is at the foot of the Mount of Olives.  Jews have been buried on the Mount of Olives for thousands of years because of Zechariah’s prophecy (Zechariah 14:4) that the resurrection of the dead will begin here!  (wikipedia)

Rick Renner writes in Sparkling Gems from the Greek, found in Christianity.com the following:
When Jesus said, “I AM,” the power that was released was so tremendous that it knocked the soldiers backward (see April 8 article in Christianity.com ).  But evidently it also caused a rumbling in the local cemetery! When that blast of power was released, a young boy, draped in a linen burial cloth in accordance with the tradition of that time, crawled out from his tomb – raised from the dead!
The reason he “followed” Jesus was to get a glimpse of the One who had resurrected him. The word “followed” means to continuously follow. This tells us that this resurrected young man trailed the soldiers as they took Jesus through the Garden on the way to His trial. When the soldiers discovered the young man who was following Jesus, they tried to apprehend him. But when they reached out to grab him, he broke free from their grip and fled, leaving the linen cloth in their possession.”

Last Easter, I read in Matthew 27:51-53 how when the veil was torn, the graves broke open and the dead were resurrected and were seen in the city. (March 28, 2016 Fear Not, He IS Risen) Jesus entire ministry He was raising the dead!   So, in the Garden he healed an ear, raised the dead, and spoke in power to cast down evil, just as He had been doing for the past three years of His ministry.   He was the SAME, yesterday, today, and forever!  (Hebrews 13:8)  Isaiah 26:19 came to life:  “Thy dead men shall live, together with my dead body shall they arise. Awake and sing, ye that dwell in dust: for thy dew is as the dew of herbs, and the earth shall cast out the dead.”    All this taking place in full view of all.

Jesus had told his disciples this was going to happen.  Matthew 5:25-29 tells us:

Verily, verily, I say unto you, The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live.
26 For as the Father hath life in himself; so hath he given to the Son to have life in himself;
27 And hath given him authority to execute judgment also, because he is the Son of man.
28 Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice,
29 And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation.  (KJV-emphasis mine)

Seems to me, this young man heard the voice of the Savior say, “I AM,” and he rose from his sleeping place.  This was a preview to what would happen in just a few hours and will happen again very soon!  Do you wonder if we will rise as this young man and Jesus, as naked as in the Garden of Eden?  If so, it won’t matter, for all our shame will be forever gone! We will be wrapped in His glory!  (Matthew 2:28-30) Praise God “the grave is overwhelmed” and we too shall rise!

https://youtu.be/WlHUKY3jBv0

Skinny dipping

Where’s the Reward?

 

 

Rewards.. Who doesn’t want to be rewarded.  We have rewards on gas cards, grocery cards, department store cards even the drugstores offer rewards to shop at their establishments.  I have a key ring with rewards tag cards on it but I leave it in the car because it makes my purse to heavy  to carry around.

We love being rewarded.  We start early in life with rewards.  The baby cries and is rewarded by mom’s touch, clean diaper, paci or their bottle.  We develop a pattern of rewards even for ourselves.   As a child, we seek rewards from our parents, friends and even siblings. We get older and we set goals and reward ourselves when we meet that goal.  We have a bad day and we reward ourselves, usually with food.

When it comes to our Christian life, we seldom think past the salvation experience.  We settle!  We have our ticket.  Jesus has paid the price and our place in reserved.   We can sit back and rest.  God’s got this.  Sure we go to church on Sunday and oh yeah, check our worship box.  We smile and speak to the checkout person at the local market and we congratulate ourselves.  It’s a good day and God is probably happy that we checked in today.

And before I go any further let me state clearly that salvation is a free gift.  We are saved by “grace through faith”.  It has nothing to do with working for salvation.   But when we sit down after Jesus has made a way for us to be with him for eternity, we lose sight of what he has called us to do while we are here.

“Serve the Lord with gladness, Come before His presence with singing” Psalms 100:2.

Once we are saved, we are given the Holy Spirit’s empowerment to “serve”. We aren’t alone; we have the very presence of God, in the person of the Holy Spirit.  Our faith saves us and “without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek himHebrews 11:6

What then is our reward? Let’s look at some scriptures that give an idea.

Psalms 103:2-4 “Bless the Lord, O my soul, And forget none of His benefits; Who pardons all your iniquities, Who heals all your diseases; Who redeems your life from the pit, Who crowns you with lovingkindness and compassion.”

All of these things our Father God has given to us who believe that he is the rewarder of those who earnestly seek Him.

For the next few weeks leading up to Easter, I am going to look at the crowns that are the heavenly rewards for believers.


In Erwin Lutzer’s book, Your Eternal Rewards, he writes, “Rewards in heaven are the completion of our earthly story, and those rewards will be eternally satisfying.”


In Psalms 16:11, we read “You will make known to me the path of life; In your presence is fullness of joy; In your right hand there are pleasures forever.”  Not only is God interested in guiding us through this life but there is also fullness of joy in His presence for now and forever!

Isaiah 62:3 “You will be a crown of beauty in the hand of the LORD.”  Now that verse is talking about God’s relationship with Israel but Paul quotes from it in I Thessalonians 2:19,”For who is our hope or joy or crown of exultation?  Is it not even you, in the presence of our Lord Jesus at His coming?”  We are to be a crown of rejoicing in the presence of our Lord at His coming.

The word for crown is “stephanos”. It is a “mark of royal or exalted in rank wreath or garland which was given as a prize to victors in public games.”  As a metaphor it is the eternal blessedness which will be given as a prize to the genuine servants of God. (from Strong’s Concordance.)

In the next weeks, we will look at the crowns that will be rewarded.  Knowing what is ahead for us will help us to focus on why we have to hold fast and continue in this life.  We are to be overcomers, “For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world.  And this is the victory that has overcome the world–our faith,” I John 5:4  English Standard Version

James 1:12  “ Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love him.”

There are five crowns mentioned as rewards for work done here on the earth.  The Incorruptible Crown, the Crown of Righteousness, the Crown of Life, the Crown of Glory, and the Crown of Exultation. We will learn more about each of these crowns.

Until then we continue in the faith.  Pressing on in the work we have to do.

Gaither Vocal Band   I Shall Wear a Crown

https://youtu.be/izXNUVkc6jQ