100 Days of Awesome: Day 2 – Guilt

 
One of my favorite things that I get to do from time to time is to speak to groups of students. Today, my friend Aaron and I made a trip north to the tiny town of Marshall, AR to speak at a church. It was, in a word, awesome. 

I spoke about guilt. Why? Because it’s something we all struggle with.

But if I have learned anything at all on my journey with God; its this…

Guilt is banished by love and truth; Fear-of-God deflects evil. (Proverbs 16:6 MSG)

God’s love is amazing. We all have done things we are guilty of. We carry that guilt around. Many of us have had things done to us we had no control over, and often we carry guilt around for those as well.

Guilt is dangerous. It’s like a slow fire that burns and burns until one day there is nothing left. Guilt is disastrous. However, guilt can be banished.

If guilt is a fire that burns. Love is an action that walks into the flames. Jesus is that love. He comes into the middle of our guilt and stands in the gap.

Jesus is also our truth. He said it himself…

I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the father except by me. (John 14:6 NIV)

If guilt is a fire that burns, and love runs into the flames, truth overcomes the fire itself.

The facts are in. Guilt comes via sin. Commission and omission. Sometimes given, sometimes received. The wages of sin really are death. But the truth of Jesus Christ is bigger than the fact of death.

Guilt is a fire. It burns. It can ruin you. And if you don’t fill your life with the love and truth of Christ—it will. Give it all to him. He can handle it. He’s awesome like that.

You can’t stand in the fire and be angry at the flames. 

Get rid of guilt. Get it gone. Pronto. Step in and step up to the good life God’s got for you. It’s bigger and better than your bad day.

Stay awesome.

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December 25 – The Other Christmas Story (Invading Enemy Territory)

Read: Revelations 12:1-17

She gave birth to a male child, one who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron, but her child was caught up to God and to his throne (Revelation 12:5 ESV)

Christmas is awesome. By far my favorite holiday. I love the festivities. I love the traditions, and the time with my family. But, more importantly, I love the reason for the season.

The story of Jesus’ birth is amazing. Many miraculous events surrounded, and preceded it. But it is so much more than the cutesy candy coated Sunday School story we all know and love so much.

The Christmas Story is a story about invasion. It is the beachhead for the divine campaign to reclaim Creation, redeem humanity, and restore the Kingdom. God had set events in motion to become a man. He would walk the Earth. He would feel dirt beneath his feet and oxygen in his lungs. He would work, sweat, eat, love, and even die.

The Apostle John had a unique relationship with Jesus. He was almost like Jesus’ kid brother. And he lived long after the rest of the disciples. Having been exiled after surviving several attempted executions, John was visited at his island prison by Jesus. The Holy Spirit worked in John and granted to him a supernatural vision full of wondrous things—many of which are nearly impossible for me to comprehend. He wrote them all down in a book that has come to be called The Revelation. It is the last book of the Holy Bible, and it includes a passage that always rings so incredibly for me at Christmas time.

Jesus was born into tumultuous human times, but it was happening alongside epic supernatural events. Jesus invaded enemy territory. He stepped into death and brought life. He stepped into defeat and brought victory.

I like the Christmas Carols. Silent Night and Joy to the World are beautiful songs. But I imagine that first Christmas to be something more like D-Day than the latest Christmas Special. And all these centuries later, Jesus is still invading enemy territory to restore families, mend hearts, and breathe hope into hopelessness.

Merry Christmas.

December 19 – Through Faith

Romans 4:13-25

No unbelief made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised. (Romans 4:20, 21 ESV)

Abraham trusted God’s promise. He wasn’t the only one. There are numerous examples in scripture of God leading his people toward something, and them putting their faith in Him.

Faith in Jesus is a powerful thing. It is the foundation of hope, and the cradle of belief. It is precious. It is up-lifting. It is life-giving and life-changing.

Abraham’s faith was potent, not because of his mental capacity to understand, or his soulful yearning to believe. Abraham had a complete faith, in that his faith influenced his behavior. Faith caused him to do stuff.

It is through our faith in Jesus as Lord and Savior that we find freedom from sin and death. This faith is demonstrated by our actions and reactions. It informs and influences the initiative we take to help others, and the way we respond to how we are treated. Faith carries us through hard times, but it’s also through faith that we will know everlasting peace and assurance.

December 17 – Who Are You?

Acts 19:11-20

But the evil spirit answered them, “Jesus I know, and Paul I recognize, but who are you?” (Acts 19:15 ESV)

The powers of darkness might know your name. They knew Jesus, they were with him in eternity past before being tossed out of heaven during their attempted coup. They recognized Paul. He had made such an impact for the Kingdom that they had taken notice. Word had spread throughout the demon ranks about the preacher Paul.

Are you on their radar? When your life takes you into contact with a new group of people do the spirits of darkness there get nervous? I think they should.

Jesus told Peter that his church would be an advancing church. We don’t just sit back and wait for people to come to us, that’s fool hardy and pointless. No, we need to step up, step out, and step into enemy territory.

Maybe the enemy will know your name. Maybe not. But when you step into the role that God has for you you will wear the adopted identity of the name above all other names, Jesus. Who are you? You are his!

December 14 – Jesus: Christ & King

Read: Acts 17:1-9

And Paul went in, as was his custom, and on three Sabbath days he reasoned with them from the Scriptures, explaining and proving that it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead, and saying, “This Jesus, whom I proclaim to you, is the Christ.” (Acts 17:2, 3 ESV)

Jesus died. But he didn’t stay dead. He returned to life. He ascended, bodily, into Heaven. He went before us into death, and then into resurrected eternity, to prepare the path that who belong to the kingdom of God will one day travel.

Upon his conversion Saul of Tarsus, an infamous persecutor, became an enthusiastic proclaimer of Jesus. He often went into Jewish Synagogues to teach about Jesus, no doubt hoping to bring the truth to his people. He was articulate, and intelligent, persuading a great many people to open their hearts to Jesus—the Christ and King.

It was Jesus’ role as Christ which infuriated the Jews; but it was his role as King which the legality of persecution stemmed from. Salvation can come from no source but Jesus. That hasn’t stopped a multitude of people from attempting to save themselves, but it is folly.

Just as errant is the rejection of Jesus Christ as King. People often refuse to acknowledge any authority that is not of their own making. They want the throne of their lives left alone. We like to play King, Jesus is both Christ the Savior and the King of kings.

November 9 – Truly

When the centurion and those who were with him, keeping watch over Jesus, saw the earthquake and what took place, they were filled with awe and said, “Truly this was the Son of God!” (Matthew 27:54 ESV)

For everyone who comes to belief in Christ, there is a defining moment, there is the moment that each recognizes Jesus as the unique Son of God. For many it is a change in posture. Where once they were anyagonistic toward faith, they now embrace it openly. For some it is just a moment of clarity where they see it as something they always knew they were looking for and just weren’t sure where to find it.

Truly, Jesus was the Son of God. It is the same revelation that changed the face of the Middle Eastern world nearly 2000 years ago. He lived and died a poor traveling teacher and preacher. But he was, and is, the Son of God.

He died at the hands of jealous men. He was murdered unjustly to satisfy justice for all. Truly, he was the Son of God.

November 8 – The Dead Rising

The tombs also were opened. And many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised, and coming out of the tombs after his resurrection they went into the holy city and appeared to many. (Matthew 27:52, 53 ESV)

What happens after you die? That is the question of upmost importance to so many thinkers. There are a multitude of varying opinions and ideas. Some think nothing waits after the last breath is drawn. And for everyone else there many belief systems.

Christianity, like Old Testament Judaism, presents the notion of an afterlife in which you retain your identity. An eternal existence spent in either Heaven or Hell. The remarkable event of the mass revivifaction witnessed after the crucifixion points out the truth of the afterlife. All of those people, called saints, came back for a period. People saw them and knew them.

Jesus died, but what happens when the Immortal One wraps Himself in mortality and allows it to be extinguished? Well, death has no hold on the One who conceived of life itself. Jesus would rise from the dead.