PSA… I had to take a break from writing over the past several months due to finishing up part of my degree. Thank you for your patience and continuing to check back here for updates. If you have been waiting for Part 3 of Crowned here it is! (Sorry it took so long…) More content on the horizon, be on the look out!

The Resurrection 

SO what happens after Christ death? What does it mean for us that He was resurrected? Take a look at Matthew 28:5-10. There were three dark days of despair. Scripture tells us that after the Sabbath toward dawn Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to the tomb and the Angel of the Lord said to them “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here, for he has risen, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples that he has risen from the dead, and behold, he is going before you to Galilee; there you will see him. See, I have told you.” So they departed quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy, and ran to tell his disciples. And behold, Jesus met them and said, “Greetings!” And they came up and took hold of his feet and worshiped him. Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid; go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee, and there they will see me.” 

Don’t you love that Jesus first appeared to the Women? If you look back in Scripture you will see that Jesus gives radical love and honor to women. This scripture among others affirms the resurrection of Jesus. It affirms that Jesus is who He said He is and He did what He said He would do. It tells us that our King is ALIVE! Right now at this very moment He is seated at the right hand of the Father with all things under his feet. 

Have you ever thought about how His resurrection impacts your life? What does His empty tomb mean to you? How does it alter the way you are running your race? 

The early church knew the power of the resurrection and because of it they gave up everything to proclaim Christ to the world. The resurrection is everything for believers. Christ resurrected means that when we accept Him as our Lord and Savior we are reborn and raised to new life. Our heart of stone is removed and replaced with a heart of flesh! We are given the Holy Spirit and He helps us discern the things of God. The resurrection means that we have the ability to be transformed, even in a fallen world and even among difficult circumstance we can live abundant lives because Jesus lives. 

You see here is what I think our problem is sometimes we have embraced Christ death for our sins meaning we accept His past grace that cleansed us from all of our unrighteousness. We embrace life after death meaning we accept His future grace for eternity but where we falter is embracing the power and promise of His present grace meaning His promise of Life before death! 

Jesus said that He came so that those who are saved would have life and have it abundantly (Jn 10:10) He said He wants His joy to be in us so that our Joy may be full (Jn 15:11). But we cannot give more power to our circumstances than we do to God and His Word. We can not reject His grace for this present day and expect to have fruitful abundant lives. Citizens of His kingdom must run the race with a heavenly perspective, we must fight our battles differently than the world, we must fight on our knees and in the Word. We must continue to abide in Him and let His Word abide in us. We must focus on our obedience to God, on the rewards He has for us now, and on the rewards waiting for us in heaven – this is abundant life. Being Kingdom minded does not mean that we have spiritually arrived, and it also doesn’t mean that we should just be standing around waiting for heaven.

What awaits us in the kingdom of heaven should motivate us during our life on Earth 

In Scripture there are 5 heavenly crowns that will be awarded to believers. I am going to share each one with you briefly but I encourage you not to stop at this message. Study these things out for yourself in Scripture. Embrace Jesus’s life as your example, embrace His death to understand suffering and the Joy that can follow it, and embrace the resurrection not just for eternity but for your present life today. Let the things that await you in heaven give you excitement and endurance on earth. 

The Crown of Glory

1 Peter 5:4 says “And when the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory.” Context shows us that Peter is speaking to Pastors here. This crown is reserved for Pastors who have served faithfully in this life. In Greco-Roman culture leafy crowns were giving for athletic and military victories. It was a crown that faded, its physical glory left as its leaves shriveled, it was a crown that perished. The crowns given by the Lord are not so. Their glory does not fade, their worth does not diminish, their structure does not perish.  

The Crown of Righteousness

In 2 Timothy 4:8 Paul say “Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing.” How much do you long for the Lords return? By His grace we have escaped the wrath of God’s judgment for our sin but we will all stand before the Lord and recount how we have used our time. How does that make you feel? Is the flow of your life moving toward God or away from Him? Is it growing in the direction of Christlikeness? Are you allowing the Word of God to infiltrate and examine every piece of your heart? Is your life faith fueled? I don’t ask these things to make you feel guilty. I ask them because we should be checking our heart with questions like these regularly. Hebrews 11:6 says “And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who seek him.”  There are rewards here and now and there are rewards in heaven. Do you live a life that is expectant of rewards from the Lord? How exciting is it to know that there will be a day when the children of God fully embrace the truth that in Heaven there is literally not going to be a single tear, there is literally no pain, no suffering, no negativity, no down cast soul, no financially burdened person, no individual wrought with fear, no person living in captivity because these things do not exist in His kingdom. If we are part of His kingdom, we can look forward to this period and we can embrace His joy, His peace, and His reward right now. Those who love the Lords appearing they will receive the crown of righteousness.

The Crown of Life

James 1:2 tells us to “Count it all joy…when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” James goes on to say in verse 12  “Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.”  Revelation 2:10 also mentions the crown of Life when Jesus address the church at Smyrna – He tells them not to fear the suffering they are about to endure from the devil but to “Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life.” I love that God graciously gives this crown. I have been through some trials in this life and I am sure all of you have as well. I know with all my heart that when we put our pain in the hands of the Lord He will tenderly attend to us. But no only that. Our endurance through trials is pleasing to the Lord. James is motivating us to look beyond our burdens and look forward to the blessing that lies ahead. This is exactly what Jesus did! The Scriptures say that for the joy that was set before Him He endured the cross. But what happens when we stop faithfully enduring through trial? We risk our faith. We let doubt creep in. If we aren’t listening to the Word then we are listening to the World. Hebrews 6 warns us not to fall away but to earnestly show full assurance of hope until the end being patient to inherit the promises of God. Endurance paired with Faith is a powerful combination yet we cannot endure alone in our own strength. 

You might wonder, what do I do when I feel physically weak?  You must lean into the God of Isaiah 40 who say “Have you not known? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might He increases strength.” You might wonder, what do I do when I feel spiritually weak, when my faith is thin? We must cry out like the father in Mark 9 who says “I believe, help my unbelief.” That is a cry of humble inadequate faith to the Lord and this kind of honest cry gives the Lord space to work in our lives. 

When you have remained steadfast under trial, when you have stood the test, when you have trusted and loved the Lord through your hardship you will receive His royal blessing. He will exchange your earthly tears for heavenly treasure. He will crown you with life everlasting   

The Crown of Rejoicing in Heaven

In 1 Thessalonians 2:19 Paul writes to the Thessalonians “For what is our hope or joy or crown of boasting before our Lord Jesus at his coming? Is it not you?” 

Several years ago I had two young neighbor girls who I adore. These girls had some real hardships in life. They started coming to church with us and I was blessed to come to the altar and be with them as they professed their faith in Christ. Heaven rejoiced and I rejoiced. 

Living as kingdom minded people means we care about the lost, it means we care about encouraging and admonishing our Brothers and sisters in Christ and it is knowing that those who we have shared the love of God with, they will be our crown of Rejoicing before the Lord in Heaven! 

Oh how we should long for this crown!  

The Incorruptible Crown

1 Corinthians 9:24-27 says “Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.” 

Paul was giving the Corinthians a metaphor here, one they could well understand. The city was known for its pagan biennial Isthmian games located 6 miles from Corinth, they were only second in fame to the Olympic games. The crowns athletes competed for were at different times were made from pine, celery, or leaves of a Sweet bay tree. These crowns were fresh and sweet smelling and beautiful for just a moment. Athletes trained hard and submitted themselves to rigorous physical and mental discipline all to win a crown that wouldn’t last. But believers are running for a crown that will never perish, it will suffer no decay, no disintegration. We are not running this race for dead vegetation we are running it for the living God who promises us great and indestructible rewards when we get to heaven. 

So how do we live as kingdom minded people? How do we apply these things? Paul gives us four clues here for running our race well, for living a kingdom minded life: 

First, he says “Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it.”

  • Kingdom minded living means we have in-view that prize that we are running for and we run to obtain it.
  • Begin with the end in mind – Everything we do is focused, motivated, and centered on the end result.
  • Knowing the prize helps us navigate life, it helps us push forward, it shows us what we’re running for.
  • The ability to be transformed in this life toward Christlikeness is also our prize here and now. Think about that.

Second, Paul says “Every athlete exercises self-control in all things.”

  • In Kingdom minded living Self-control is key to running our race.
  • Scripture teaches us that our fleshly desires will always go against the desires of the spirit (Gal 5:17) so we have to push those fleshly desires aside and purse God’s will for our life
  • His boundaries are blessings, and we show our love to Him through our obedience

 Third, he says “I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air.”

  • Being kingdom minded means you know what your aiming at
  • What are you aiming at friends?
  • Are you pointing your life in the direction Jesus has pointed you?
  • Are you shooting for the target He’s given you?
  • Do you even know what the target is?
  • Do you often feel like your running in circles?
  • Do you feel like you’re battling the same battle constantly?
  • Are you boxing like your beating the air – striving for a target that isn’t even in front of you?
  • Paul is urging us here to be intentional, every day, about every choice.
  • Be intentional to obey, intentional to follow Him, intentional to do His will for your life and if you don’t know what that is then be intentional to get on your knees and ask Him because the God of all creation promises that when we draw near to Him He will draw near to us.

Fourth, Paul says “But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.”

  • Living a kingdom minded life means you do not disqualify yourself
  • Paul was not going to be disqualified from the eternal rewards waiting for him.
  • 2 Timothy 2:5 reminds us, “An athlete is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules.” We must have the same mindset!
  • No sin, no earthly pleasure, no period of pain or suffering is worth throwing away our rewards in heaven.
  • Love His law, discipline yourself to obey, because at the end of the day you will stand before God only for the time He gave you and not anyone else. You will not stand for how your parents spent their time, how your husband spent his time, even how your children spent their time – you will stand before the Lord for your time alone.

5 Crowns – Glory, Righteousness, Life, Rejoicing, Incorruptible.

How exciting to know that we are enveloped by His grace which covers every foolish mistake we have made or will make. If you are saved you have eternal life and can live in victory today because of the life death and resurrection of Jesus and beyond all of that you have rewards in Heaven based on how you live your life on earth!

Belonging to one kingdom means resisting the temptations of another. (see Crowned Part 1)

Those outside of the kingdom of God will always try to pervert, distort, and insult the Kings calling for your life. (see Crowned Part 2)

What awaits us in the Kingdom of heaven should motivate us during our life on Earth 

My daughter participated in a pageant when she was young, it was her first one and we were blown away when she received a huge crown and trophy and was awarded to go to the state competition. 

Have you ever seen those pageant TV shows and the girls who participate in tons of competitions and they have crowns and sashes and trophies all over their walls? I wondered if it was going to turn into something like that with my daughter. Like this would become a new pageant obsession. But at the state competition she told she didn’t think she would do any more pageants. When I asked why she said “Because mom I already have a crown, I don’t need any more.” 

That is what our perspective should be like. if you belong to Jesus Christ you are a daughter of the King, you are royalty, if you belong to Him then He will crown you with eternal life. You need not have any other accolade or award in this world. You need not take on or wear anything that the world is trying to set on your head.

Revelation 19:12: “His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns; and he had a name written, that no man knew, but he himself.” Truly living like a daughter of the king means you live your life acquainting yourself with the King. 

Revelation 4:10 says “The twenty-four elders fall down before him who is seated on the throne and worship him who lives forever and ever. They cast their crowns before the throne, saying, “Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created.” How beautiful is this! The Saints – having been rewarded for their faithfulness – cast their crowns at the feet of Christ. They are confessing that Jesus Christ deserves all the credit and Jesus gets all the glory because He is the the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, to be honored and glorified today and forever and ever.  Amen.

Perhaps you realize that you are not part of the Kingdom of God because you have never asked the Lord to be the King of your life. You don’t have to go on being separated from God’s kingdom, He is ready and willing to adopt you into His family right here and right now. He is fully capable of giving you new life and a new heart.  Romans 10:13 says that everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. If you want to be part of the Kingdom of God you can pray right now, right where your at, you can call upon the Lord, you can ask Him for forgiveness of your sins and to be the Lord of your life eternally.

Perhaps you know you are His daughter, but you need to straighten up your crown. You need to decide to run your race differently by embracing your citizenship in heaven. Perhaps you want to cast your crown before the Lord giving God praise and glory by humbling yourself in prayer.

Don’t delay, the King is ready for you!

To watch the live presentation of this message go to: https://youtu.be/Ea2x00-rFa8

4th of July is a reminder to consider our freedom. When you think of freedom what comes to mind? Thankfulness? Hope? Joy? Right now you may be feeling like freedom feels less free than it ever has before.I believe this is a tactic of the enemy, to try and make us doubt our freedom and to make us believe that a worldly system could take it away.Yet our freedom is not based on a political system it is rooted in the God who sets people free!In fact the whole message of Scripture points us to Christ who to free us!Isaiah 61:1 says”The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me,because the Lord has anointed meto bring good news to the poor;he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,to proclaim liberty to the captivesand the opening of the prison to those who are bound.”Consider these points about freedom based on Scripture:

Because of Jesus our freedom in Him can never be reversed

John 8:36 “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.”

Romans 8:1-2 “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.”

Acts: 13:38-39 “Let it be known to you therefore, brothers, that through this man forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you, and by him everyone who believes is freed from everything from which you could not be freed by the law of Moses.”

God’s Word frees people from bondage

John 8:31-32 “So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

Psalm 119:45 “And I shall walk in a wide place, for I have sought your precepts.”

James 1:25  “But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.”

Galatians 5:1 “For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.”

Our freedom is not just for us

1 Peter 2:16 “Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God.”

1 Corinthians 6:12 “All things are lawful for me,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful for me,” but I will not be dominated by anything.”

Galatians 5:13 “For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.”

Today I ask you to consider this: What are you doing with your freedom? Are you using it to glorify God? Do you rest in the freedom Christ has given you? If you have not been freed from the weight of your sin and separation from God I want you to know that He is ready and willing to free you right now if you will give your heart to him. Romans 6:23 says, “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”To accept this freedom all you have to do is accept Christ as your Lord and Savior. Romans 10:9 says, “If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”Accept His freedom. And if you are already free use your freedom to glorify God and live free because Christ has died for your freedom!

In the previous post we glanced at a scene from the life of Jesus now I want to fast forward to the time of His last few days earth. 

Cross to Crown

On the Sunday before His crucifixion, Palm Sunday, Jesus entered Jerusalem. His actions echo the words of Isaiah 62:11 and fulfilled the prophecy from Zechariah 9:9. Jesus did not arrive decorated in physical majesty, He did not arrive on a chariot or a warhorse rather He came humbly on a young donkey into the city. In the middle eastern world this was understood as a symbol of coming in peace. 

The people spread their cloaks on the road before Him in submission. They waved Him in with palm branches. They shouted Hosanna in adoration to the Son of David! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest! (Matthew 21:9

These words from Matthew 21 paint a beautiful picture of His arrival. The unfortunate reality, however, is that a few days later some of these same people would no longer be shouting out Hosanna but instead crucify Him. The religious and political leaders would put Jesus through a multitude of trials, and the people would choose to free a murderer over the only sinless man that ever lived, Jesus Christ.

The Scriptures recount the painful moments of His last hours. Matthew 27:27-31 says, “Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the governor’s headquarters, and they gathered the whole battalion before him. And they stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him, and twisting together a crown of thorns, they put it on his head and put a reed in his right hand. And kneeling before him, they mocked him, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!” And they spit on him and took the reed and struck him on the head. And when they had mocked him, they stripped him of the robe and put his own clothes on him and led him away to crucify him.” “Then they sat down and kept watch over him there. And over his head they put the charge against him, which read, “This is Jesus, the King of the Jews.”(Matthew 27:35-36)

I want you to try to imagine the weight of the mockery in His final hours. Jesus was betrayed, He was put through trial after trial, and just prior to this Scripture He had been scourged. He had endured a brutal Roman punishment that consisted of a severe beating with a multilayered whip embedded with pieces of bone and metal (Mark 15:15). The soldiers here are amused at Jesus’ alleged kingship. The Scriptures say they gathered the whole battalion together before him. We don’t know exactly how many are in a battalion but historically it is said to contain between 300 to over 1,000 men. 

Can you imagine that? All He has endured and now the whole Roman guard is gathered to ridicule and beat Him. They dressed Him in fake royal garments. They taunt and abuse Him with a crown of thorns and a reed as scepter. As if the gruesome torture of the cross were not enough they continued to mock him by listing His crime above His head. They put a charge above Him on the cross that reads “This is Jesus, the King of the Jews.” 

John 19:20 tells us that the inscription was written in three different languages, they wanted everyone to know what His charge was. I cannot stop thinking of the irony of this moment. How interesting it is that the soldiers crowned, robed, and charged Jesus as king. They did it in an evil earthly way not realizing that even they were confirming His deity (even if they didn’t understand or accept it). From this side of the cross we see that the sign above His head actually proclaimed the truth. Jesus was secure in His calling, He knew this world was not His home, and even though the world tried to make a fool of Him Jesus pressed on for the joy that was before Him (Hebrews 12:2). As believers we have to remember that the enemy of our soul wants to distract us from God’s call on our life. Know that those outside of the kingdom of God will always try to pervert, distort, and insult the King’s calling for your life.

What are you wearing spiritually?

Has the world placed something on your head that drags you down?

Those outside of the Kingdom of God will always try to pervert, distort, and insult the King’s calling for your life!

Do you desire to do the will of God, but feel battered and bruised by the world?

Maybe you feel like you’ve already done enough.

Have you allowed circumstances to make you believe you are unable, or unworthy for His call on your life? 

Do you continually crown yourself with guilt, despair, or anxiety? 

When we take on a worldly crown it is always going to be heavy. When we place ourselves in the center of the kingdom of earth we are going to be weighed down by the world. But when we live as citizens of the Kingdom of Heaven there is freedom because Jesus has already barred our greatest burden when He died for our sin on the cross!

When we live like citizens of Heaven, we hold on to Scriptures like Hebrews 10:35 which says, “…Do not cast away your confidence, which has a great reward.” And what is our confidence in this world? Our confidence is Christ! Know that even if you feel like you have cast your confidence away it is not cast out to sea and lost forever, you can reel it back in because your King does not let go of you even if you have let go of Him. 

Hebrews 2:6-8 referencing Psalms 8:5 says “Yet you have made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor.” 

I want you to know that mankind may have gave Jesus a crown of thorns but the God of all creation turned it into a crown of Glory!

The final hours of Jesus’ life were the darkest hours of history but at the same time those very hours ushered in the greatest light!

The cross was an instrument of death but it was also an instrument of Salvation for all who believe!

Remember Jesus’ death and know that circumstance isn’t always as it seems and it isn’t always how humanity defines it either.

Right after Jesus died a centurion, who was standing there watching Jesus take His last breath, said, “Truly this man was the Son of God!” (Mark 15:39) Even when the world tries to distort the truth Jesus’ witness always prevails! 

Those outside of the Kingdom of God will always try to pervert, distort, and insult the Kings calling for your life but that should not stall us or stop us from pursing and prevailing in His call!

Stay tuned for part 3!

The next few blog post are pieces of a message I delivered at a women’s event recently, the event was titled Crowned. The focus of the message is Kingdom Minded living based on the example of Jesus. Through these post we will look at a scene from the life, death, and resurrection of Christ. In the last post I will give you some principals for kingdom minded living! As I share these kingdom focused points I pray that you will to consider them in your own life.

When I consider the things of eternity I often wonder if Christians allow eternal things to guide them in the way that they should. I often wonder if we hold onto and live out eternal truths in our daily walk. Let me give you an example I often heard women say “I am a daughter of the King”. We even share cute memes like this one:

While there is nothing wrong with encouraging and inspirational words there is something wrong when we just say things like “I am a daughter of the King” but we don’t really live like we are in our day to day life.  Let’s consider the example of Jesus as we peer into a scene from His life.

Jesus Rejected A Worldly Crown

Do you remember the day you got baptized? 

I remember it like it was yesterday. I had just been saved at a youth camp in North Carolina and shortly after I returned home I was baptized. My grandma was so excited to see me come to the Lord that a few days before my baptism she paid a pretty penny for me to get a candle stick perm. (I may be aging my self with the term, so for those of you who don’t know, a candlestick perm is tight ringlet type curls all over your head.) I couldn’t wait to publicly profess my faith in Christ. The day of my baptism I stepped into the baptismal pool with my new hair do and I was joyfully washed clean and raised to new life. When I stood up I literally felt lighter than I had ever felt in all my young years. As I stood up and was taking it all in I started to smell something that had a horribly strong smell, like rotten eggs strong. I suddenly realized that since my perm was so new the baptismal water had interacted with the perm chemicals and the smell was literally filling the entire church.

It was sort of a funny, embarrassing, and unexpected turn to the day. On the day of Jesus’ baptism He encountered something we might not expect also. 

John the Baptist was in the Jordan river baptizing people who came to confess their sins. John was preparing the way for the Messianic Kingdom. He proclaimed to the people that that he was baptizing with water but one greater than him would come to baptize with the Holy Spirit and fire (Matthew 3:11).  When Jesus arrived at the Jordan to be baptized John did not feel worthy to perform such an act, but Jesus explained that it was necessary to fulfill all righteousness (Matthew 3:15). Now the baptism of Jesus was not to cleanse Him from sin, He had no need of repentance. But Jesus’ baptism did identify the sinless Son of God with the sinful people He came to save. When Jesus was baptized the heavens opened up and the Father exclaimed that He was well pleased. At that moment, the gospels tell us, the Spirit of God descended on Jesus and rested on Him (Matthew 3:16-17). This is a beautiful picture of the triune God and a pivotal moment marking the beginning of Jesus’ ministry. 

Jesus’ baptism identified the sinless Son of God with the sinful people He came to save!

Then what we might not expect happens. Immediately after His baptism, the Spirit led Jesus into the wilderness where He would have 40 days of prayer and fasting and then He would be tempted by the devil 3 times (Matthew 4:1-11).  

The last time Jesus was tempted by the devil this is what was said: “Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. And he said to him, “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.” (Matthew 4:8-9)   

You have to understand that at this point Jesus has fasted in the wilderness for 40 days. 

Have you ever fasted? I will be honest, I have had times of fasting where I felt weak from just one day and here we see that Jesus did 40! Yes, He is fully divine but He is also fully human and in His humanity I assure you there were thoughts of food, the Scriptures say He was hungry (Matthew 4:2). I assure you that in His humanity He felt physical depletion. These three times the devil tempted Him were actual temptations.  

This is why the scriptures say, “…That we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” (Hebrews 4:14-16) Jesus understands the things we are tempted with because He himself endured real temptations.  

What the devil was actually doing here was offering Jesus the opportunity to skip the cross and rule the world if Jesus would just fall down and worship him. What is interesting is that the devil was offering something he couldn’t really provide because while Satan may have some authority (1 John 5:19) his power is limited by God who is the ultimate authority (Psalm 24:1) This is what the devil does though he perverts the promises that are before us. The devil was actually tempting Jesus to break the first commandment which says “You shall have no other gods before me.” (Exodus 20:3).

So how did Jesus respond? With the Scriptures. Quoting Deuteronomy 6:13 He said “Be gone, Satan! For it is written, “You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.” (Matthew 4:10)

Belonging to one kingdom means resisting the temptations of another!  

Jesus was not going to fall prey to the devil, and He certainly was not going to accept a role in the kingdom Satan was building. Just a couple of chapters later in Jesus’ sermon on the mount He teaches that we are not to lay up for ourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal but to lay up for ourselves treasures in heaven, where no moth nor rust can destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal (Matthew 6:19-20). Jesus goes on to say that, “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other…” (Matthew 6:24).

The point is that we have to choose what we are devoted to and in order to do that we have to be firmly rooted in where we belong. If you belong to the Kingdom of Heaven then that means you must resist the temptations of Earth.

I want to make something very clear, and I am going to prove it to you from Scripture: If you are saved, you live on earth but your citizenship is in Heaven.

Paul in his letter to the congregation at Philippi says, For many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, walk as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things. But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.” (Philippians 3:18-21) Paul makes a point here that those whose citizenship is not in heaven has their mind set on earthy things. It goes with out saying that those whose citizenship is in heaven would have their mind set on heavenly things. 

Look at what Peter says in 1 Peter 2:9-10, Peter quotes Exodus 19:6 and applies this to the Church, he says “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.” 

Colossians 1:13-14 says “He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.” 

Jesus is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. If you are saved by faith in Jesus Christ then you are reborn into the Kingdom of Heaven, you are a part of a royal priesthood and a holy nation. You have been removed from darkness and placed into His marvelous light.

I am going to ask you to consider, not if you know these things, but rather do you live by them? 

Are you firmly rooted in the kingdom you belong to like Jesus was? Do you know whose you are? How does who you are representing impact your life? 

If you’re a child of God you are an ambassador for the Kingdom of God, you are an ambassador for King Jesus! We need to remember that we do not just represent Jesus when we are at church or at a church function, or when we are feeling righteous, we represent Him at all times. To our family, to our neighbors, in the grocery store, in rush our traffic. For a Christian representing Jesus is not based on where we are at or who we are with. 

Jesus knew that His time on earth was limited. He knew this world was not His home. He knew His loyalty was to His father in Heaven. Jesus knew that the Word of God was more powerful than any temptation the devil could throw at Him. He knew that the lies the devil was tempting Him with was not comparable to the truth of God’s Word. 

We are to follow the example Jesus and live like we belong to His Kingdom. We are to live by His commands, the Scriptures, knowing that we no longer belong to a domain of darkness nor are we dominated by darkness. We must know that we cannot please the present ruler of this world and King Jesus at the same time. We can not serve two masters.

If you believe in Jesus, If you believe in the truth of His Word you are going to disappoint people, you are going to frustrate them, you may anger them, and you will certainly offend them because the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing but to us who are being saved, it is the power of God (1 Corinthians 1:18). Upsetting the world with the truth of God shouldn’t surprise us but living as Christians who aren’t rooted in Christ, who refuse to live like the cross set us free, who don’t walk like God’s truth still holds power for our lives today, who continue to set the desires of their flesh above the commands of God – those are the things that should surprise us, those are the things that should upset us, and those are the things that should motivate us to change so that we may deepen our relationship with God as we grow in Christlikeness. 

Belonging to one kingdom means resisting the temptations of another!  

Stay tuned for part 2!

Can I lose my Salvation? Can I be assured that I am genuinely saved? Can I know that I am going to heaven when I die? The Bible is very clear on the matter of eternal salvation, however, I have repeatedly heard Christians say they aren’t sure if they are really saved, I have heard believers recount the times they have asked God to save them “again” just to be sure; I even wrestled with this at a younger age myself. 

Personal positions on eternal security can be broken down into the following categories:

  1. Not saved and aware of not having eternal security. (This happens when a person rejects their need for salvation.)
  2. Not saved but have a false sense of eternal security.  (This happens when a person believes in any way to eternity other than Jesus Christ.) 
  3. Saved but not confident in their salvation at the present time. (This happens when someone doubts their salvation.)
  4. Saved and fully aware that they are saved and have eternal security. (This happens when a person has genuine faith and they believe what God’s Word says about salvation.)

There are not only varying personal positions one can have regarding their own salvation; there are also opinions on the topic of salvation in general that vary from complete eternal security to the ability to lose salvation completely.  To have a right understanding of salvation we must turn to Scripture. 

Understanding Salvation

In relation to eternal security, salvation can be defined as deliverance from the punishment for sin which is eternal death, and into a restored relationship with God which results in eternal life.  Salvation is only possible through Jesus Christ (John 14:6, Acts 4:12). God sent His only son Jesus to be the atonement (payment) for our sin (1 Jn 2:2). Jesus atoned for our sin by dying on the cross and taking the weight of all sin (past, present, and future) onto Himself. Jesus rose three days later from the dead,  defeating death forever (Lk 24, 1 Cor 15). 

In order to be saved you must believe, fully trust, in Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior (Rom 1:16). This is not the result of a religious experience it is the result of a heart which recognizes their own sin and need for a Savior. Salvation happens through our faith in Christ because of the grace of God. Salvation can not be earned (Eph 2:8-9), it is a free gift from God and God’s gifts are irrevocable (Rom 11:29). It is worth noting that someone can have abundant knowledge about the Scriptures and still not be saved (Jn 5:39-40). Salvation is not a head knowledge it is a heart change that moves a person to commit their life to the One and Only living God.

Romans 10:9-13 gives us a clear understanding of how we are saved: 
“because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.” For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.””

Scripture States That Salvation Is Eternal

There are far too many salvation Scriptures to cover in one post, however, below are several confirming that when are saved it is for eternity:

John 3:16-17 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.

John 10:27-30 “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.”

John 17:1-5 “When Jesus had spoken these words, he lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you, since you have given him authority over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him. And this is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do. And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed.”

1 John 2:24-25 “Let what you heard from the beginning abide in you. If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, then you too will abide in the Son and in the Father. And this is the promise that he made to us—eternal life.”

Philippians 1:6 “And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.”

Ephesians 1:13-14 “In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation—having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God’s own possession, to the praise of His glory.”

Romans 8:38-39 “For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Why Do We Doubt?

Keep in mind there are times when doubt can fuel our discovery of the truth. We may doubt our salvation because we really desire to be assured that we are forgiven and are going to heaven. We may doubt salvation because of unrepentant sin, because of weak faith, because we have our eyes on difficult life circumstances, or even because we are not connecting with God’s will for our life. We can also doubt because of the enemy.

All Scripture points to Jesus and Jesus points us to eternal life. His mission, His ministry, even His last directive to His disciples are all related to an ultimate redemption plan for humanity. Think about this, the most well known Scripture by believers and unbelievers alike is John 3:16. This verse proclaims the reason that God sent His only Son to earth – because He loves us so much that He wants us to have eternal life. The Bible also tells us that God’s desire is that none should parish but that all should come to repentance (2 Pt 3:9). It is no wonder that Satan wants to attack the truth about Salvation. He tries to distort the truth by making people believe they don’t need eternal life at all or by convincing them that there is more than one way to eternal life. If Satan can keep people from being saved in the first place then he has accomplished his purpose. If someone is saved then the Devil wants nothing more than to make them doubt their salvation. It is a way of keeping people in bondage. Satan is always pointing people toward sin, toward death, and toward bondage while Jesus always points people to repentance, to forgiveness, to freedom, and to eternal life. 

How Can Some Fall Away?

Considering all of this, how can there be some who turn from the faith? Simply put, God does not force His will on us. He desires His will for us deeply but He does not force us to accept Him or follow Him. Therefore everyone has the choice to accept Jesus by faith or reject Him. Furthermore, although the Bible calls us to be obedient to God, we can choose to disobey Him as well.

There are two types of people who fall away from faith:
First there are those that wander from God, walking away in willful disobedience for a period, and return to Him. These were truly saved from the beginning, their return and repentant heart is evidence of this.

Second there are those that fall away and never return to Christ. These individuals may have claimed to be followers of Jesus for a period of time, they may have been going through the motions of Christianity, but they did not genuinely accept Jesus Christ as their Savior and their heart does not call them back to Him in repentance. True believers will return to Jesus or they were never saved to begin with (1 Jn 2:19). 

Final Thoughts

This is a topic worth exploring and checking our hearts is not a bad thing. We are talking about eternity here. Being saved or not being saved has reaI eternal consequences so we want to be sure. That being said God does not want us to live in a place of constant doubt or concern about eternity. Once we have accepted Christ He is ours. There is absolutely nothing that can be done to us or nothing that we can do ourselves to lose our salvation. God does not make this offering to revoke it nor did Jesus give His life for us to live in bondage. Scripture repeatedly reminds us that salvation is forever!

“The center of salvation is the Cross of Jesus, and the reason it is so easy to obtain salvation is because it cost God so much.”

~Oswald Chambers

“Now when Mary came to where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet, saying to him, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in his spirit and greatly troubled. And he said, “Where have you laid him?” They said to him, “Lord, come and see.” Jesus wept. So the Jews said, “See how he loved him!”” John‬ ‭11:32-36‬ ‭

‬‬It is the shortest verse in the Bible but these two words speak volumes “Jesus wept.” We may be tempted to think that we are alone in our pain but we can be sure that the Savior shares in our suffering. In fact Jesus is more familiar with suffering than all of us; and in a way we can not understand because in His humanity He was sinless. A sinless Savior who suffered for our good and God’s Glory. Jesus knew that He was going to raise Lazarus from the dead and He knew God was going to be glorified through this miracle, yet He still wept. He was moved with compassion at the site of Mary and the other Jews that were weeping. 

Don’t be afraid to take your pain straight to Jesus, don’t think for one moment that your tears are insignificant to Him. Not only does He see the purpose behind the pain in a way that we can not understand in our humanity but He is a compassionate and loving Savior who longs to comfort us in our sorrow. Paul later wrote about the God of all comfort who shares in our pain: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too.”‭‭ (2 Corinthians‬ ‭1:3-5‬) ‭In this world we know we will experience affliction but we can also be sure that the comfort only God can give will be shared with us too and that in itself is a reason to praise Him!

Sometimes we just have to have a declutter day at our house. We have so much “stuff” just laying around that we don’t use, books we could donate, games with missing pieces, things we just don’t need anymore. I always look forward to setting aside time to cleaning things out.

Sometimes we need to do the same thing with our heart, it can get filled up with emotions and sins we are holding on to. It gets cluttered with jealousy, unforgiveness, and anger to name a few. When our heart is crowded with sin it weighs us down on the inside. It is a heavy burden to bear that keeps our heart in chains. 

David the Psalmist said it well “For when I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long.” (Psalm 32:3)

David was not taking time to confess his sins to the Lord and it was aging him from the inside out. When we hold on to our sin and to our ugly emotions and don’t confess them to God we are holding our heart hostage, keeping stuff inside that is occupying the spaces God wants to fill with love and grace and hope!

David knew what he needed to do: “I acknowledged my sin to you, and I did not cover my iniquity; I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,” and you forgave the iniquity of my sin.” (Psalm 32:5)

If you feel heavy hearted today the remedy is easily available. Get on your knees and get real with God. He already knows what’s in your heart and when we drop our pride to acknowledge it to Him, forgiveness and freedom will come rushing in replacing the “stuff” that was weighing us down.

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just

to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

John 1:19

“You have kept count of my tossings; put my tears in your bottle. Are they not in your book?” Psalm‬ ‭56:8‬ ‭

Since this Psalm was written and certainly in the days Jesus was alive some Jewish women sought to embody this verse, to live it out. The women kept a jar, a lachrymatory, they would use to literally catch their tears as they fell. The women would then pour their tears out before the Lord as an act of faith and worship to the one who sees and holds every tear! 

I love how these women lived out this Scripture. Acknowledging the One who sees our pain and cares for every single tear that we shed. Our pain in this life is precious to God, it is not overlooked.

You have kept count of my tossings; put my tears in your bottle. Are they not in your book?

Psalm 56:8

What is tugging on your heart today, where are you yearning for God to bring healing, peace, and restoration? Sometimes our healing is interrupted by an unwillingness to just pour out our hurt to the Lord. He is not a far off God, you can confidently come to Him and pour out every single bit of your pain knowing that He is the God who sees, loves, and redeems all that is broken.