Toward Jerusalem

There are two people in the Bible who set their faces toward Jerusalem. The first was Jesus. Luke 9:51 says, “And it came about when the days were approaching for His ascension that He resolutely set His face to go to Jerusalem.” His ascension … the time in which He would be received up into heaven to sit at the right hand of His Father. But going up to Jerusalem spoke of something else … it spoke of the cross.

The second was Paul. In Acts we find that Jerusalem was Paul’s goal. As he prepared to  start back from the third missionary journey, we’re told that “Paul purposed in the spirit to go to Jerusalem after he had passed through Macedonia and Achaia” (Acts 19:21). And then, “For Paul had decided to sail past Ephesus … for he was hurrying to be in Jerusalem, if possible, on the day of Pentecost” (Acts 20:16).

But, as with Jesus, there was a dark side to his journey. In Acts 20 Paul said, “And now, behold, bound in spirit, I am on my way to Jerusalem, not knowing what will happen to me there, except that the Holy Spirit solemnly testifies to me in every city, saying that bonds and afflictions await me” (verse 24). Then, the disciples in Tyre “kept telling Paul, through the Spirit, not set foot in Jerusalem.” And finally, Paul is given a prophetic word by Agabus, who taking Paul’s belt, bound his own hands and feet and said, “This is what the Holy Spirit says, ‘In this way the Jews at Jerusalem will bind the man who owns this belt and deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles'” (Acts 21:11)

But listen to what Paul said in response to all these warnings. He said, “… none of these things move me, neither do I count my life as dear to myself, so that I may finish my race with joy, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God” (Acts 20:24). And, “Then Paul said, ‘For I am ready not only to be bound, but even to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus” (Acts 21:13).

Just like his Master, for Paul, going to Jerusalem spoke of a cross. And yet, both had set their faces in that exact direction.

And so, the question for us becomes: In what direction have we set our faces? Is our goal a new or a bigger house; a new or a better car; maybe a better place to live; a bigger diamond; new furniture or nicer clothes? Or maybe it’s a new or better job; worldly success or a ministry position … the list could go on and on and on. Sometimes we need to take stock and make sure that our goals match the goal of our Savior.

Listen to a profound poem by Amy Carmichael entitled Scars:

Hast thou no scar? No hidden scar on foot, or side, or hand? I hear thee sung as mighty in the land, I hear them hail thy bright ascendant star. Hast thou no scar?

Hast thou no wound? Yes, I was wounded by the archers spent. Leaned me against the tree to die, and rent. By ravening beasts that compassed me, I swooned: Hast thou no wound?

No wound? No scar? Yes, as the Master shall the servant be, And pierced are the feet that follow Me; But thine are whole. Can he have followed far, Who has no wound? No scar?

On Being A Servant

At my Bible study right now, we’re on the first missionary journey with the apostle Paul and finding that right from the get-go he faced opposition. There was opposition in Antioch, so they went to Iconium; there was opposition in Iconium, so they went to Lystra; etc., etc., etc. Opposition every step of the way. We might tend to think: really? That doesn’t make sense. Paul was serving the Lord. He gave his life for the gospel. Why would the Lord allow him to suffer opposition?

It seems backwards! It seems like his way would be smooth-sailing. And as new believers, we might even think that … at least for a time.

You know, sometimes we get a romantic view of what it will look like to serve Christ. We might even think how important we would be if we were called to the mission field or if we were called to be a pastor or to what we might consider prominent position. In our “humanness,” we might be motivated by a desire to be successful or to be seen. Or maybe we have a desire to be significant, which is not a bad thing in and of itself. But the correct posture for us, rather than seeking importance or significance, is to seek to be useful to the Lord.

That was Paul’s heart. And because of that, when the opposition came, he simply continued on with the work: going to the next place on the map and preaching the gospel there.

You see, that’s what you do when you’re called to be a servant.

The fact is, that each and every one of us has a calling on his or her life. Each of us has a destiny of usefulness to God. We have each been given gifts to be used for the kingdom. But the only calling that will be of profit to us or to the world around us is the one to which we are called by God. And within that calling, there will often be great opposition.

Listen to Oswald Chambers on the subject: “God doesn’t call us to do things that are easy to us naturally, He only asks us to do the things we are perfectly fitted to do by His grace, and the cross will come along that line always.”

And there it is!

God Isn’t Religious, He’s Love!

God isn’t religious. We are, but He’s not. You only have to look at genealogy of Jesus Christ to learn this:

Matthew 1 tells us that Abraham had a son named Isaac, and Isaac had a son named Jacob, who had a son named Judah, the beginning of the line of Christ. Well, Judah had an illicit relationship with his daughter-in-law Tamar who had a son named Perez, who is in the line of Christ. Some 5 generations later, a man named Salmon married a woman named Rahab, the woman we know as “Rahab the harlot,” the Gentile who hid the spies as they were looking to conquer Jericho. And they had a son named Boaz, who married Ruth, a Moabite, and had a son named Obed, who had a son named Jesse, who had a son named David, who married a woman named Bathsheba, after having an adulterous relationship with her and murdering her husband, and they had a son named Solomon who is in the line of Christ … do you get it?

This is the genealogy of Jesus Christ! It sounds like a soap opera, doesn’t it? But these are the people God chose to bring His Son into this world.

Would you have done it this way? Never! You wouldn’t have thought you could! And, if God was religious, then He wouldn’t have done it this way either. He would never have allowed there to be foreigners in the line of Christ, because Israelites weren’t allowed to marry foreigners. And He would never have allowed prostitutes or those who were born out of incest or those who were adulterers or adulteresses or murderers. Right?

But you see, God isn’t religious, He is a lover. And he is a Savior.

“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life.”

That word “whoever” tells us that everyone is welcome! You see in Jesus, everyone is able to be saved and to live in the love of Christ. It’s time we take God out of our little boxes and see Him for who He truly is: God is love!

The Fellowship of the Unashamed

Yesterday I had the pleasure of teaching at the women’s Bible study at The Packinghouse in Redlands, California. My message was entitled All In! and I finished with the statement of a martyred Zimbabwe missionary written the night before he died. This is his testimony:

I am part of the fellowship of the unashamed. The die has been cast. The decision has been made. I have stepped over the line. I won’t look back, let up, slow down, or back away.

My past is redeemed, my present makes sense, my future is secure. I’m finished and done with low living, sight walking, small planning, smooth knees, colorless dreams, tamed vision, mundane talking, cheap giving, and dwarfed goals.

I no longer need preeminence, prosperity, position, promotions, plaudits or popularity. I don’t have to be right, first, tops, recognized, praised, regarded or rewarded. I now live by faith, lean on His presence, walk with patience, live by prayer, and labor with power.

My face is set, my gait is fast, my goal is Heaven, my road is narrow, my way is rough, my companions are few, my guide is reliable, my mission is clear. I cannot be bought, compromised, detoured, lured away, turned back, deluded or delayed. I will not flinch in the face of sacrifice, hesitate in the presence of the adversary, negotiate at the table of the enemy, ponder at the pool of popularity, or meander in the maze of mediocrity. I won’t give up, shut up, let up, until I have stayed up, stored up, prayed up, paid up, spoken up for the cause of Christ. I am a disciple of Jesus Christ. I must go ’till He comes, give ’till I drop, preach ’till all know, and work ’till He stops me. And when He comes for His own, He will have no problem recognizing me. My banner is clear: I am a part of the fellowship of the unashamed.

Are you?

For love of God, I will …

What would you do for the love of God? “Anything,” you will probably say, or at least I hope that’s what you will say! And that is what I would say, too! But sometimes the “anything” becomes something specific that is unappealing in some way or even downright difficult, ugly, and/or distasteful. Do we say “Anything, Lord,” then?

As I was preparing mentally to go to Europe this summer, for the most part it seemed to be very appealing. And, at first flush, the idea was very exciting: of course, to see Europe, but even more, to serve the Lord in this special way. But, as time went on and the plans become more real, I had a day in which I had very negative feelings about the whole endeavor. To sleep in another bed (actually several other beds), not to be able to talk on a daily basis to my family and friends, to eat different food, often chosen by other people, to be separated from all that is comfortable and familiar to me, as these realities dawned on me I became rather unsure of whether or not I really wanted to go. In fact, at this point, I felt pretty strongly that I didn’t want to go. But, I still believed that it was God’s will.

That very night, as I was reading a story by one of my favorite authors, Elizabeth Gouge, I was at a point in the story in which an older man was facing the probability of going to a place that not only would be difficult physically, but also emotionally, as it would take him back to a time that was very dark in his life. But, because of his love for the young girl who asked him to go, he decided he would. The line in the book goes like this: “For love of Stella, I will go.” That was when it hit me. Of course! There is no debate!  For love of God, I will go. For love of God, I will do anything He asks me to do, even when it includes sleeping in other people’s beds, eating at other people’s homes (remember, for a month!), abstaining from talking to my people, etc., etc., etc.

Just so you know, I don’t think spending time in Europe would be a bad thing or even, ultimately, a hard thing; but, as it turns out, for now it’s not the thing God has for me. But I gained something through the process. I was reminded that for love of God, I will …

Will You Not Go?

“And they passed through the Phrygian and Galatian region, having been forbidden by the Holy Spirit to speak the word in Asia.” Acts 16:6

Paul wanted to go to Asia, and in fact he would go there in the future, but for now he was forbidden by the Holy Spirit to go that way.

As I have been working on my Acts lessons recently, three times the Lord has highlighted this verse to me. All the while being I’ve been in prayer over traveling through Europe this summer for ministry. What an exciting thought it was and I even felt that the Lord was leading me this direction, but almost immediately while working on my lessons, my eyes landed on a thought I had written based on this particular verse:

If you have ever come against a resistance or a blockage as you have tried to move in one direction or another, you know something of what Paul experienced here. Sometimes God will lead you in the negative as He did Paul. Will you not go as readily as you will go? Sometimes not going is harder than going!”

I remember the first time my eyes landed this paragraph I thought, well of course, Lord, I will not go if that is your will. As I continued praying and moving forward I continued to feel the Holy Spirit on the future project but then, along the way, I saw this passage once again! Again I said, of course Lord, I will do exactly what you want me to do.

Well, several things have changed over the course of the last six weeks and a couple of days ago, as I was beginning to sense that the Lord was not truly calling me to go on this trip, I inadvertently came across that same quote for the third time! There it was, again! I was surprised, but realized immediately that it was the Lord. I concluded at that point that the Lord is not  calling me to go to Europe this summer after all.

Will I not go as readily as I will go? Yes, Lord, I will not go …

The Accomplishments of Christ’s Death on Our Behalf

Substitution

Meaning: Christ died in the place of sinners

Results: Sins are removed by substitution/The righteousness of Christ is added

Scriptures: Matthew 20:28, 2 Corinthians 5:21, 1 Peter 3:18

Redemption

Meaning: To pay the ransom price/To remove from the marketplace (slave market)/To effect a full release

Benefits: Sin paid for and the sinner released from all the consequences of sin

Scriptures: Matthew 20:28, Galatians 3:13, 2 Peter 2:1b

Reconciliation

Need for reconciliation—Man’s enmity (Romans 5:10)

Meaning: Man’s state of alienation from God is changed so that he is able to be saved

Scripture: 2 Corinthians 5:19

Propitiation

Need—Wrath of God (Romans 1:18)

Meaning: God is satisfied with the death of Christ for sin

Scripture: 1 John 2:2

Means: Blood of Christ (Romans 3:25)

The death of Christ:

    1. A ransom—The death of Christ paid the price of the penalty for sin (Matthew 20:28; 1 Timothy 2:6)
    2. A reconciliation—The position of the world was changed by Christ’s death so that all men are able now to be saved (2 Corinthians 5:18-19)
    3. A propitiation—God is satisfied with that which Christ’s death accomplished (1 John 2:2)
    4. A substitution—Christ died in the place of the sinner (2 Corinthians 5:21)
    5. A proof—of the love of God (Romans 5:8)

The blessings of acceptance are expressed in such terms as:

  • Redeemed—Romans 3:24
  • Reconciled—2 Corinthians 5:19-21
  • Forgiven—Romans 3:25
  • Delivered—Colossians 1:13
  • Accepted—Ephesians 1:6 (NKJ best)
  • Justified—Romans 3:24
  • Glorified—Romans 8:30

Grace—Grace is the favor God is able to show to men because Christ died for them.

Men do not fall from grace by sinning, but by putting the law in the place of grace.  (Galatians 5:4)

Justification—A legal term meaning to declare someone as just or righteous and to recognize him as such. It refers to someone who is not subject to condemnation. It is a question of:

  • Moses or Christ
  • Old Covenant or New Covenant
  • Works or faith
  • Law or promise
  • Doing or believing
  • Wages or free gift

Forgiveness“Come now, and let us reason together,” says the Lord, “Though your sins are as scarlet, they will be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they will be like wool.”

Dear Friends

I’ve had the most amazing opportunity come my way. I’ve been invited to go to Europe this summer and speak to women in Germany, England, Ireland, and Scotland. Four countries in four weeks! There are already plans in progress to do day-conferences (mini-retreats) in Germany, Scotland, and England. We are still waiting to see what the Lord has planned for Ireland. Our trip will take place July 1-28.

At this point in time, the theme of our conferences will be Matthew 9:20-22: The woman with the issue of blood, touching the hem of Jesus’ garment. That passage touches so many areas: prayer, power, desperation, faith, expectation, deliverance, etc. It’s easy to imagine the impact a retreat based on this passage could have.

The Lord has ministered several verses to me:

  • For the Lord will go before you, and the God of Israel will be your rear guard. Isaiah 52:12
  • Enlarge the place of your tent; stretch out the curtains of your dwellings, spare not; lengthen your cords and strengthen your pegs. For you will spread abroad to the right and to the left. Isaiah 54:2-3
  • Go! For I will send you far away to the Gentiles. Acts 22: 21
  • Take courage; for as you have solemnly witnessed to My cause in Jerusalem, so you must witness at Rome also. Acts 23: 11

This is obviously a trip of a lifetime for me! But of course there will be a great deal of expense involved. It looks like the trip will cost about $4500 per person. Will you pray with me over the provision for this trip?

I know there will be many more prayer requests in the weeks and months to come. I hope you will partner with me in prayer during this time. And if the Lord should show you to partner with me in the financial area, all donations will be tax deductable. You can contact me for information at catchthevision8@gmail.com.

Thank you and God bless you dear friends!

Linda

His Lovely Name

Years ago, sometime in 1984 or so, I had the amazing and awesome privilege of being invited to a Pastor’s retreat up in the mountains in which Alan Redpath was the speaker. Alan Redpath! If you’ve ever heard him or read any of his books (Victorious Christian Living, Blessings out of Buffetings, etc.), then you know what an amazing personal opportunity it was for me. He would be speaking at our church afterwards for several nights, which I also got to attend, but the retreat was one of those one-of-a-kind times in my life. I’ve had a few of them. This might have been the most significant.

Many things stick out in my mind from that special time of being in the presence of this deeply spiritual man. The one that is on my mind right now is a special little thing that he did every time he spoke. Before he began to speak, he would sing, yes I said sing, a little doxology of sorts. It went like this: Thank you God for sending Jesus. Thank you Jesus that you came. Holy Spirit won’t you teach us more about His lovely name. He sang it every single time as he entered the pulpit before he began to speak. Very significant. Extremely humble. What a way to enter in! Our hearts were prepared to hear more about His lovely name.

Christmas eve I was kneeling beside my “couch-bed” (my house was full!) Everyone had gone to bed. My children and my grandchildren were sound asleep. I was alone. And there it was. That song! It was on my heart and I found myself singing it over and over again to the Lord. Thank you God for sending Jesus. Thank you Jesus that you came! Holy Spirit won’t you teach me more about His lovely name. I sang it many times and then found myself concentrating on that last line, praying, as I sang, with a sense of urgency. Please Holy Spirit, please teach me more about His lovely name. And every time I sang that last line there was a feeling: a tangibly-sweet sense of His connection with me on that point.

That became my request for Christmas and my prayer for this new year ahead. We all have thoughts of what we would like to see transpire in our lives in this new year. This is mine. Maybe it’s yours too!

Holy Spirit won’t you teach us more about His lovely name.

I’m so excited to see what that will look like! Aren’t you?

 

 

Promises, Promises, Promises!

The following are verses I have chosen to help us keep the faith! Enjoy!!!

what is faith?

Hebrews 11:1  “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”

Hebrews 11:6  “Without faith it’s impossible to please Him (for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him).”

Hebrews 10:38  “But my righteous one shall live by faith…”

possibilities

Matthew 19:26  “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”

Genesis 18:14  “Is anything too hard for the Lord?”

Jeremiah 32:27  “Behold, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh, is anything too difficult for me?”

Romans 4:21  “…being fully assured that what He had promised He was also able to perform.”

Romans 8:32  “He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things?”

belief

Matthew 9:29  “Be it done to you according to your faith.”

Matthew 8:13  “…let it be done to you as you have believed.”

Matthew 9:22  “Your faith has made you well.”

Psalm 33:22  “Let Thy lovingkindness be upon us according as we have hoped in Thee.”

Luke 1:45  “Blessed is she who believed…”

unbelief

Hebrews 3:19  “…they were not able to enter because of unbelief.”

Matthew 13:58  “And He did not do many miracles there because of their unbelief.”

Mark 6:6  “And He wondered at their unbelief.”

promises

Psalm 84:11  “No good thing does He withhold from those who walk uprightly.”

Psalm 32:10  “He who trusts in the Lord, mercy shall surround him.”

Psalm 62:8  “Trust in Him at all times, pour out your heart before Him, God is a refuge for us.”

Psalm 57:2  “I will cry to God most High, to God who accomplishes all things for me.”

encouragement

Hebrews 10:35  “Do not throw away your confidence which has a great reward. For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God, you may receive what was promised.”

Hebrews 3:14  “We have become partakers with Christ, if we hold fast the beginning of our assurance firm until the end.”