Liz Curtis Higgs
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2014 Event Cities and Dates
Billings, MT | April 25-26
Columbus, OH | May 2-3
Phoenix, AZ | May 16-17
Coral Springs, FL | June 6-7
Fairfax (DC Area), VA | August 1-2
Oklahoma City, OK | August 8-9
Rochester, NY | August 15-16
Kansas City, MO | August 22-23
Philadelphia, PA | September 5 -6
Anaheim, CA | September 12-13
Dallas, TX | September 19-20
Indianapolis, IN | September 26-27
Lincoln, NE | October 3-4
Orlando, FL | October 10-11
St. Paul, MN | October 17-18
Denver, CO | October 24-25
Hartford, CT | November 7-8
Charlotte, NC | November 14-15
Sacramento, CA | November 21-22
Portland, OR | December 5-6
If today you are struggling to overcome trouble, temptation, (forgiving a) trespass (by others), or trial, a terminal disease, do you know that Easter gives you a life-changing hope? Beyond precious family time afforded by the holidays, spending time with traditional activities, hunting for beautifully-colored eggs, Easter is the celebration of the Resurrection of Christ.
In 1Corinthians Chapter 15, Paul reminds us of the gospel on which we have taken our stand (1Cor 15:1), by which we are saved (v2): that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures(v3), that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures (v4). CHRIST IS RESURRECTED!
CHRIST IS RESURRECTED! He not only appeared to His followers (1Cor 15:5-6) but He also appeared to His staunchest opponent, Paul (Acts 9:1-5) who would become the staunchest defender of the gospel of Christ. Jesus is alive! He is who He says He is.
So what if Christ is resurrected?
Paul answers this question from 1Corinthians 15:
We have salvation (v2).
Our faith is not useless (v 14).
We are true witnesses about God (v15).
Our faith is not futile, we are no longer lost in our sins (v17).
We will bear the image of the heavenly man (Christ) (v 49b).
Those who have died ahead are not lost, they have the true hope of being resurrected (v18). We have hope in Christ not only for this life (v 19). In Christ, those who belong to Him will be made alive. (v 23). Death is defeated (v26).
1Cor 15:42b The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; 43 it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; 44 it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body.
1Cor 15:52 52 in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. 53 For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. 54 When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.”
55 “Where, O death, is your victory?
Where, O death, is your sting?”[i]
56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
He will destroy all (evil) dominion, authority, and power (v. 24). He will reign until He has put all His enemies under His feet. (v25). God gives us victory through Jesus Christ!
Paul’s conclusion, the bottomline from The Resurrection of Christ:
1Cor 15:58 Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.
That is an encouragement to keep on keeping on in our faith. It is a call for fixing our eyes on Jesus, setting our goal heavenward. If today we may face difficult circumstances, we are commanded to let nothing move us from our faith. We can stand firm. We can remain steadfast and have God’s perfect peace.
Isa 26: 3 You will keep in perfect peace
those whose minds are steadfast,
because they trust in you.
4 Trust in the Lord forever,
for the Lord, the Lord himself, is the Rock eternal.
Our Hope is alive! What we do now may be boring, corny, look stupid, or not matter to people around us but they matter to the Lord. What we do for Him in this physical life matters for eternity. Our labor in the Lord is not in vain.
What a life-changing Truth we celebrate because CHRIST IS RESURRECTED! A Joyful Easter to you and your family! Jesus is alive!
Dear Lord, thank You for Your Word which reminds us that because You are risen, we can stand firm. We have our hope in You. Thank You for dying on the cross for us. Thank You for the eternal life You give us. Resurrection Day is a wonderful cause to celebrate!
Here is a previous post about Passover
Becca Music’s Jimmy Needham Concert: Guy, Guitar, and Gospel at Christ’s Commission Fellowship last night was gut-challenging, grace-filled, and God-glorifying. The youthful-looking (“I look sixteen”) doting father of two and loyal husband of one unabashedly and unapologetically shares his faith through entertaining self-written music. The lyrics are biblically-based and therefore powerful. His left-handed guitar playing is dynamic, vibrant, and energetic. His singing, according to him, is a few octaves higher than most; it goes in unexpected places between raspy, croony, to awoo-wooey.
He collaborated with a rap artist to make a rap version of the hymn, “How Great Thou Art”, on what seems like a fusion of the Old Testament and the New Testament uniting as worship to Jesus Christ. He mixed traditional with modern (How Sweet It Is To Be Loved By You). Some inter-active singing with friendly competition between the men and women in the crowd kept everyone engaged.
“Just because it doesn’t have ‘Jesus Christ is my Lord and Savior’ in its lyrics doesn’t mean it’s not Christian. What can be more Christian than rejoicing in the wife of your youth and loving your kids?” He sang the song that won his wife over and the song he wrote for his daughter, Lively.
His humour in between songs was good-natured and refreshing.”It’s a weird name. But I’m an artist. I can do what I want so deal with it,” he jokingly said as he introduced his song, “Daddy’s Little Girl” with a video of precious moments he shared with Lively playing in the background. “Aww” moments galore to satisfy the cuteness craving.
He shared his testimony of moving from sin and thinking that his sin was judicial to getting filled by having a relationship with The Bread of Life, Jesus Christ and realizing that his sin was not being hungry for what God is offering. Jimmy shared that after all the grievously wicked sins of the Israelites in the Old Testament (such as burning their children as sacrifice or having sex with prostitutes in the temples to please idols), God could have said ANything but this is what He chose:
Jeremiah 2:13 “My people have committed two sins: They have forsaken me, the spring of living water, and have dug their own cisterns, broken cisterns that cannot hold water.”
Jimmy said, we should be hungry for Jesus, The Bread of Life! He gave insights to recognize idolatry. Anything we cannot give up is idolatry. Anything that we can’t stop thinking of is idolatry. Anything that takes a higher priority than God is idolatry. These things that we may run after and expend energy on cannot save, cannot help unlike God Himself who is a spring of living water, the source of life here and for eternity.
What a night of uplifting worship with heart-turning deep messages of faith.
It is a blessing to see in action a man living out his faith by being a good husband, good father, using his talents to worship and give thanks to His Maker and Lord. How does the world churn out men like him? It started when someone “spared” five or ten minutes to share the gospel with him when he was sixteen. That turned him around as the power of Jesus was unleashed in his life.
A sobering question to reflect on is, have I been sharing Jesus with others that they may be filled with the spring of Living Water, that the power of God may be unleashed in their lives? How many people are surrounding us whose lives could be transformed from bondage to freedom. Are we sharing Jesus?
Romans 15: 4 For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope.
From the preceding chapter, Romans Chapter 14, Paul tells us that we may have faith in the same God as others but differ in what we believe to be acceptable and not acceptable to God, for example to eat only vegetables or not (Rom 14:2), to regard a day more sacred than another (Rom 14:5). These are what Paul teaches:
Rom 14:4a Who are you to judge someone else’s servant? To their own master, servants stand or fall…12…each of us will give an account of ourselves to God. 13 Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in the way of a brother or sister… 19 Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification.
When we get insulted because of how we differ, Paul continues to teach in Chapter 15 that we seek to have the same attitude for the insulters as Jesus has for us: unconditional love, that we may bear up with their failings (Rom 15:1), please our neighbors for their good to build them up (v2), for Christ did not please Himself but as it is written, “The insults of those who insult us have fallen on Jesus.” (v3), that we may have unity in mind and voice to glorify God (v6), we must accept one another as Christ accepted us in order to bring praise to God (v7).
Paul teaches us how we may become united in Christ, not divided as Satan would like, so that we may have harmony among people who also believe in the same God even in the face of disagreement. We are to remember that only Satan is our enemy. The rest of us are on the same side and we are called to consider that we are appointed to help others to be built up in their faith.
We may expect insults and persecution from those who do not believe in God but expect higher ethics from those who do. When we receive judgment and insults from the latter, making the situation harder to comprehend, Paul tells us ahead of time what to do if such a scenario comes up. He reminds us that it is God Himself who gives endurance and encouragement (Rom 15:5) so we don’t stumble, so we won’t be the cause for others to stumble nor fall away, so we will keep on keeping on, so that we will keep in mind all that we have learned in Scripture, as everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope (Rom15:4).
God is the one who gives us the attitudes we need to accomplish His will. He is in charge. As He has removed scales from our eyes to see His truth and light and progressively walk in the light even though we ourselves used to walked in darkness, He Himself will remove the scales from others’ eyes. It is His job to transform hearts. As we wait, if we trust and surrender to Him—- loving and praying for our neighbor who may persecute us (Matt 5:43-44)— God can fill us with all joy and peace so that we may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
In the first regular women’s ministry that I attended, our teacher often exhorted us with the phrase: Bloom Where You Are Planted. What I pick up from this is that you do not always get to choose the circumstances you find yourself in. But wherever the Lord allows you to be, wherever you are, do the best you can with what you have and be a testimony of God’s love, grace, and goodness.
Muddy and acidic waters might be considered hostile conditions but in them, the water lily grows, lives, thrives, and blooms. There may be conditions in your life right now which you do not like. But let’s pray for open eyes and hearts to see our lives from God’s eyes, to see our blessings and gifts that He has already given us that enable us to bloom and grow. When you surrender your life to the Master Gardener (God), He is able to make you grow.
1 Corinthians 3:7 So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow
May we remember how the Water Lily blooms!
God makes no mistakes. You can’t compare yourself to other people who are surrounded by conditions you prefer. You have a specific design; you were made for His glory right where you are.
Isaiah 43:7 Everyone who is called by My name, And whom I have created for My glory, Whom I have formed, even whom I have made.”
Whatever your circumstances look like today, God’s plan and promise for you remains: to prosper you, to give you hope and a future.
Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
Exodus 1: 9 He said to his people, “Behold, the people of the sons of Israel are more and mightier than we. 10 Come, let us deal wisely with them, or else they will multiply and in the event of war, they will also join themselves to those who hate us, and fight against us and depart from the land.” 11 So they appointed taskmasters over them to afflict them with hard labor…12 But the more they were oppressed, the more they multiplied and spread; so the Egyptians came to dread the Israelites.
Keep your eyes fixed on the Lord and bloom where you are!
Colossians 3:23 Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, 24 since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.
1 Thessalonians 5:18
Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
There was a time when I thought spring would never come. But it did! The First Day of Spring came three days ago, March 20, 2014. Every season to me has its own beauty but spring is my favorite with flowers blooming, new life sprouting. It’s not a surprise, butterflies do love flowers. And butterflies love spring.
Image from this site
God’s intention for the caterpillar is for it to become a butterfly. Even if it is blind and bound in darkness, God causes the miracle of its transformation to become new. It is not a caterpillar forever.
2 Corinthians 5:17
17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!
My friend, Gina, shared with our small group from Nancy Leigh DeMoss’s book, LIES WOMEN BELIEVE, Lie Number 37: “I shouldn’t have to suffer.”
Everyone suffers whether believer or not. But when we have put our faith in Jesus Christ, He journeys with us through our suffering. It does not mean that the believer’s life is all suffering. But neither is it true that the believer’s life is just all health, wealth, and success “stripped of the call to discipleship and cross bearing,” the call for holiness, repentance, sacrificial love, humility, purity, or depth of relationship with The Lord.
The latter is referred to as the “Prosperity Gospel”. It emphasizes only God’s ability to provide the temporal, material wants of man or that material abundance is the measure of God’s blessing (name it and claim it). The danger of the Prosperity Gospel is that those who are misled by it are deprived of the opportunity to grow the spiritual muscles that are needed in order to stand firm in the certain seasons of testing and waiting. Growing in the womb of the prosperity gospel only trains the person in the things he feels entitled to without the need for confronting sin so that when suffering comes, it is considered outside of God’s will and likely cause for the person to walk away from God. But in Philippians 2, Jesus Himself did not have a sense of entitlement.
Phil 2: 6 Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
Nancy DeMoss busts the lie, “I shouldn’t have to suffer.” On page 222-223, she says:
“The message that the Lord Jesus Himself and by the apostles who followed Him was a call to take up the cross; it was a call to sign up for battle; it was a call to suffer… If we do not trust the heart and intentions of God, we will naturally resist suffering…The Truth is, it is impossible to be holy apart from suffering. Even Jesus Himself, during His years here on earth, was in some unexplainable way made ‘perfect through suffering’ (Hebrews 2:10); and ‘although He was a son, he learned obedience from what He suffered’ (Hebrews 5:8)…All the New Testament authors recognized that there is a redemptive, sanctifying fruit that cannot be produced in our lives apart from suffering…True joy is not the absence of pain but the sanctifying, sustaining presence of the Lord Jesus in the midst of pain. Through the whole process, whether it be a matter of days, weeks, months, or years, we have His promise: ‘The God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will Himself restore you and make you strong, firm, and steadfast.’”
We can hold on to God’s promise in Romans 8:28, For we know that in all things (including suffering), He works for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose. Even though we suffer, it will be for our good. Suffering will not be be in vain.
Hebrews 12:11 No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.
Discipline has a negative connotation but its origin is from the Latin discipulus meaning “pupil”.
When my children (my “pupils”) were born, I nursed them on demand feeding schedule as they cried for food. But to allow them to mature, survive, and thrive in the world they would need to navigate, I began to train them to wait a little longer between feedings. The wait made them uncomfortable and at times they would whine a little bit but I could tell when they were very hungry. I would not deprive them if they were really hungry. When they were ready, I gave them solid food. I have been on stand by to support them and give them what they need but because I love them and desire that they mature and become good citizens who will be assets and not liabilities to the world, I do not give them everything they want. This is how an imperfect parent such as I would seek to discipline my children.
Matthew 7:11 If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!
When I thought of how I want to teach my “pupils”, I thought that in God’s perfect way, He must be wanting to teach us how to survive and thrive in a world we need to navigate, to mature and become good citizens of heaven who would be able to help others.
Philippians 3:20a But our citizenship is in heaven
That helped to renew my mind into appreciating that the times of hardship, God works out for our good. It also confirms that we are God’s children.
Hebrews 12:7-8 Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. For what children are not disciplined by their father? If you are not disciplined—and everyone undergoes discipline—then you are not legitimate, not true sons and daughters at all.
I pray that the next time we encounter hardship, we would remember that God is teaching and maturing us, that even if it is unpleasant at the time, it will produce a harvest of righteousness and peace for us.
Righteousness is a breastplate of protection to help us stand firm against the enemy of our souls (Eph 6:14). God’s kind of peace—experienced amidst and not in the absence of the certain trials that come (James 1:2)— will carry us through and keep us steadfast through life.
Thank You for Your plans to give us a hope and future and for using our hardship to give us the necessary training so that Your good purposes in our lives may be accomplished in Jesus’s name amen.