Monday, January 30, 2012

What about Barabbas?

Last week, I was reading in Luke, and for the first time this particular passage stuck out to me:

'But the whole crowd shouted "Away with this man! Release Barabbas to us!" (Barabbas had been thrown into prison for an insurrection in the city and for murder)Wanting to release Jesus, Pilate appealed to them again. But they kept shouting "Crucify Him, Crucify Him!" For the third time he spoke to them: "Why? What crime has this man committed? I have found in him no grounds for the death penalty. Therefore I will have him punished and then released." But with shouts the insistently demanded that he be crucified, and their shouts prevailed. So Pilate decided to grant their demand. He released the man who had been thrown into prison for insurrection and murder, the one they asked for, and surrendered Jesus to their will.' 
- Luke 23:18-24

Of course this is part of the Easter story, the same one you hear every year on Easter Sunday, or perhaps have read several times for yourselves. But why now? What was so different for me? 

Well, I saw it from a whole different place! This is the first time that Jesus displayed what He was willing to take for us. 
He literally took Barabbas' place!

Maybe this isn't mind blowing for you, but it is for me. Barabbas deserved Death! He was a criminal by all definitions of the word, and yet an innocent man was killed in his place. And Barabbas was set free to wander the streets. This made me wonder
"What Happened to Barabbas?" 

Do you think Barabbas understood what had been done for him? In the best case scenario, Barabbas was grateful for what was done for him. He changed his life and became an advocate for Jesus. Perhaps he spent the rest of his days helping those in need, caring for orphans, and doing good. But if statistics prove to be true, quite the opposite may have been true. 

Barabbas may have gone back to a life of crime. Stealing, killing, and who knows what else. How could he have known that the Son of God had taken his place? How could Barabbas possibly have known what was truly done for him? Maybe in his mind it was just a lucky break? Then I think

"How often do I forget what has been done for me?"

I know Jesus died for me. I know he took the punishment, that I totally deserve, on His shoulders. I deserve death because of my sins. You and I are not worthy of the lives we are given. We are not worthy of eternal life with the savior, and yet Jesus willingly gave up his life. And not only did he give up His life, he was beaten. Beaten with rods, whips, and chains. 

Jesus endured physical pain on my behalf. On your behalf, so that you and I can live free of sin, free of guilt, and free of shame!

And yet sometimes I forget that. I don't truly remember that I am free to live because He chose to die. I believe that if we made a conscious effort to remember what truly has been done for us, we would live differently. Maybe we wouldn't complain as much, and just maybe we would show love more. Maybe, just maybe 
               We wouldn't take life for granted. 

Because loved one, you were paid for, you are ransomed, You are Free!! 

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Almost there...

Well, I'm on day 18 of my 40 day fast. Daily the Lord shows me how much He can work through us! On Friday will be the half way mark. I feel like once I get to the halfway mark, it will all be smooth sailing from there. But so far the Lord has shown me so much. I want to share just a few of them with you...

1) With God, I am much stronger than I thought. There have been days when I've thought "why am I doing this? I should just quit" but am quickly reminded that being obedient to Christ is much sweeter than any food could taste.

2) Some people are never going to get it! I've had to explain to a lot of people why I'm fasting, and yet I still get the "you are crazy" look. I know it's a crazy concept, giving up food for 40 days, but knowing that Jesus himself did it, makes it easier. Granted, Jesus probably didn't have juice at hand, but still knowing my savior endured 40 days with temptation and hunger makes this whole process much better.

3) Juice will give you extremely bad heart burn.... yeah this was not a fun lesson for me. Therefore, I have begun to drink milk. I guess this could be seen as cheating, but it keeps my stomach and throat from being torn apart so I'm ok with it.

4) When you surrender the physical needs, God speaks and shows up in big ways! I've come to the point where I really don't get too hungry any more. An 8 oz glass of juice will pretty much take care of the hunger. But the things I have learned from the word of God have been eye opening! God has taught me some big stuff, and He's really challenging me in quite a few areas.

There are still 22 days left in the fast, and I'm looking forward to what else the Lord will show me!! Please continue to pray for insight and that God will teach me through this. Also, I want to challenge you to find something to fast from, even if for one day!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Get up, eat and drink.

"Elijah was afraid and ran for his life. When he came to Beersheba in Judah, he left his servant there, while he himself went a day's journey into the desert. He came to a broom tree, sat down under it and prayed, "I have had enough Lord," he said "Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors." Then he lay down under the tree and fell asleep." 1 Kings 19:3-5

I don't know about you, but I've been in this place. The back story to this scripture is a great one! Elijah had spoken against the profits of Baal, and after a showdown at the alters, he had all the profits of Baal put to death (I Kings 18:16-46). This didn't make Jezebel (the queen) very happy and she wanted Elijah dead.

So we find Elijah, in the desert, under a tree, asking God to let him die. Elijah was a pretty tough dude! If you read 1 Kings 17 through 20, you can see that this man was put through some tough stuff so that he could be used by God. But Elijah was ready to give up. Isn't that how we are? We've seen the rough days, and we get through hard trials. But the minute the next one comes around, we start to pout and want to give up!
I love God's reaction to Elijah...

"... All at once an angel touched him and said, "Get up and eat." He looked around, and there by his head was a cake of bread baked over hot coals, and a jar of water. He ate and drank and then lay down again. The angel of the Lord came back a second time and touched him and said, "Get up and eat, for the journey is too much for you." So he got up and ate and drank. Strengthened by that food, he traveled forty days and forty nights until he reached Horeb, the mountain of God." - 1 Kings 19:5-8

Woah! God sent an angel to feed Elijah! He provided food and water for him, and that sustained Elijah for 40 days! Oh man, what a God we serve! So here we are, whining and crying because our lives are "hard". Don't get me wrong, there are trials that come along and there are times when we will feel like giving up. It's in these moments that we have the choice to lay down under a tree and wait for the end, or to get up, eat and drink, and continue on in our journey.

The Lord promises to sustain us and care for us. He's not going to give you  any challenge that we can't accomplish, with Him. Each trial we face is a chance for us to be refined and grown in Christ. Because after each refining fire we go through, there will be another. It will seem hotter, and it's going to hurt even more. But the more we learn to turn our faces to God, and to seek his provision, the more we realize that theses trials are making us better. He's preparing us to be His bride! Dang!! God is good, He will sustain you, He will take care of you! Turn your face to the savior and know that his love is refining you to be the most beautiful and perfect bride!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

40 Days...

Happy New Year loved ones! 2011 is over,and what a year it was. Life changed in so many ways, and through it all, I have experienced the grace and mercy of Jesus. In November I attended a 24 hour event "The Call" in Detroit MI. It was there that the Lord began to challenge me in the area of Fasting. As I began to pray for direction, the Lord laid it on my heart to do a 40 Day fast. I began to pray about this.

I really went back and forth, it was a struggle for me to commit to such a big challenge. During this time, I was reading through 1 Samuel. The Lord spoke to me through a particular scripture in Chapter 15.

1 Samuel 15:22
"Does the Lord delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices
as much as obeying the Lord?..."

This hit me like a ton of bricks! I had been trying to find ways to get out of a 40 day fast. I didn't want to deal with the questions and reactions to it. But after reading this verse, I knew what I had to do. It was then that I committed to a 40 day fast starting on January 1st. So far, it's been three days and it has been a challenge. But the Lord has sustained me! I'm looking forward to what the next 37 days has in store, and seeking God's truth and guidance.

So I'm asking you all to join me in prayer, and if you are willing to do 24 hours of fasting. Spending time seeking the Lord's will and living in His presence.