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You’re Not Who You Think You Are

He Himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By His wounds you have been healed. 1 Peter 2:24

I wept today.

In case you’re picturing gentle tears of joy or wistful tender memories, it wasn’t. Quite the opposite. Wrenching sobs erupted from someplace deep.

You know the kind. Unguarded vulnerability releasing decades of pain that sent the dog hiding under the desk.

I’m not even certain what triggered it, exactly, except that Jesus has invited me to explore the crimson-stained gifts His cross unleashed for us. And for more than a year, He has repeatedly drawn my gaze back to this promise sprinkled over us through His shed blood.

By His wounds you have been healed. 

I hope you noticed the tense encasing that promise. You have been healed. It isn’t something you’re striving toward, dear one. It’s already happened. You received perfect healing as a gift of grace poured out through the blood of your Savior.

Healing is a gift of grace poured out to us through the blood of our Savior. Click To Tweet

That truth prompts me to ask the question: Am I living as one who has been healed? Do I live out the reality of that promise? Because I don’t feel like it a lot of the time. I seem to vacillate between moments of glorious celebration over God’s faithfulness and ravaging self-doubt.

And I’m tired. Aren’t you?

I’m tired of settling for a theoretical version of the Gospel. Jesus came as a flesh and blood man. He felt real pain and endured real suffering. He shed actual blood. And that blood redeems what the enemy has stolen. It unleashed divine power, not doctrinal theory.

For the kingdom of God does not consist in talk but in power. 1 Corinthians 4:20

I think it’s time we learned to live in that power, don’t you? I’d like to invite you to open your heart and step into this truth with me.

Christ’s blood makes impossible things possible.

Are you living out impossible promises, dear one? You should be, and so should I.  

What if the pain surrounding us in these dark days offers an invitation to raise our expectations and believe God for the more we’ve settled for living without? What if He’s simply waiting for us to exercise the faith that ushers in His impossible promises?

Let’s take a moment to contemplate what God sent Jesus to the earth to do.

God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power. He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him. Acts 10:38

Do you see it, dear one? The good that Jesus came to accomplish—what God anointed Him to do—was heal all who were oppressed by the devil. If you’re a human being, you fall under that promise. But don’t miss what enabled Jesus to fulfill His calling. For God was with Him. That detail also allows us full access to God’s promises.

Isaiah 61:1 describes Jesus’ job description with a few more details.

The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound.

Today we celebrate the good news of the Gospel: Jesus came to set captives free! But I need you to notice what precedes experiencing that freedom in this verse. Healing. Jesus must bind up our broken hearts, enabling us to leave our captivity and live free from oppression.

Consider this thought with me, based on my own experiences. How can a woman celebrate God’s work with overwhelming joy and clarity, yet find herself ravaged by doubt and fear in the very same day? How can a person surrounded by loving community find herself feeling completely alone and crushed under the weight of isolation?

Wounds are how. Tender places where the enemy has bitten us and left his mark. Painful experiences linger that have allowed the deceiver to whisper messages into our souls that defy God’s truth about us and rob our identity. So just as we start to move forward into God’s promises, the enemy digs into that old pain to draw fresh blood.

But here’s the thing about wounds, dear one. The Physician can’t bind them if we aren’t willing to expose them. Jesus will never heal a wound we pretend not to have.

You and I need to let Jesus lift the veil on our brokenness. Not to shame us, dear one. We need to expose the wounds we carry so He can heal and restore us, freeing us from the enemy’s influence.

Remember the promise we started with in 1 Peter 2:24,

By His wounds you have been healed.”  

The enemy wounds us by whispering messages into our souls that defy God's truth. Jesus' blood brings healing to all wounds. Click To Tweet

You received that gift of healing the moment you put your faith in Jesus. But, if you find yourself perpetually tormented by darkness, that pain reveals areas where you haven’t yet realized your divine identity. Wounds exist that you have not exchanged for the healing Christ has given you.

Lies remain in your belief system, denying the Truth that sets you free.

Deep down, we already know. The lingering ache in our hearts reveals our need. A longing deep within cries out for more. Let’s stop settling for the lie that this is as good as it gets. Don’t waver between the darkness and the Light. Let’s press into Jesus and let Him reveal His healing in our lives. You’re not who the enemy says you are. Fear and doubt have no business oppressing you. Jesus speaks the final Word.

And His blood declares you healed.

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The Crushing Spirit of Doubt

The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. Psalm 34:18

At some point, disappointment reaches into every life. No matter how closely we walk with the Lord, its sting can paralyze us. In fact, sometimes the more we have chosen to believe big things of God, the harder we fall when things don’t turn out the way we thought they would.

Can you relate? Have you ever been so certain one moment and then found yourself reeling with doubt the next?

If so, you’re not alone. I’d wager that all who’ve chosen to live by faith, actively believing God for His promises, have faced a crisis of faith at one time or another. I know I have. If you and I are going to answer God’s call on our lives and trust Him to do extraordinary things through us, we need to know what to do when the crisis hits.

Let’s consider a man who found himself stumbling over his own disappointment—a man about whom Jesus claimed, “I tell you the truth:  Among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist” (Matthew 11:11).

You might be interested to know that Jesus spoke those words of John while he was going through his crisis of faith. Don’t you love knowing that God’s opinion of us doesn’t change in our moments of weakness? How He lavishes us in grace!

Let’s take a look at what caused this great man to waver. In answer to God’s call, John had devoted his life to preparing the people of Israel for the coming of their Messiah. He challenged them to repent and return to God, declaring Christ was coming! Then he pointed them to Jesus, knowing Christ had come.

The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! This is the one I meant when I said, ‘A man who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.’” John 1:29-30

John had no doubt that Jesus was the promised Christ. He had seen the Spirit of God come to rest upon Him like a dove, just as God had told him it would (verses 32-33). Certain of what he knew in his heart, John boldly proclaimed,

“I have seen and I testify that this is the Son of God.”  John 1:34

And John was right, of course. That same moment that sealed the truth in John’s heart launched the beginning of Jesus’ ministry. The Teacher began to unleash the power of God upon the earth, performing miracles and healing the sick.

Yet while Jesus’ ministry kicked into high gear, John found himself in a situation he did not expect. He did not join the throngs of people standing by to witness the fulfillment of what he had prophesied about Christ. Instead, he could only listen to reports of Jesus’ wonders from behind the walls of a dark prison cell.

Can you imagine the seeds of doubt springing up through his disappointment? After all, didn’t Scripture foretell that Messiah would come to set captives free? How hard it must have been to hear about all those miracles Jesus performed for others while experiencing no miracle of his own. For a moment, John wondered if he got it wrong.

When John heard in prison what Christ was doing, he sent his disciples to ask him, “Are you the one who was to come, or should we expect someone else?”  Matthew 11:2-3

Jesus responded by proclaiming the evidence of the miracles themselves, then added,

“Blessed is the man who does not fall away on account of me.” Matthew 11:6

Indeed, blessed is the one who doesn’t stumble when Jesus doesn’t do what he expects.

I feel such compassion toward John. My journey thus far has not landed me in a cell, but I too have felt my resolve crumble under the weight of doubt. I know the confusion of shifting from a strong stand of faith to crippling defeat when God’s will for me did not align with my own. It didn’t take long for seeds of doubt to crush my spirit. But in my moment of weakness, I did exactly what John did. I took my doubt to Jesus.

I remember rising early to the sounds of a thundering storm. Fitting, I thought. Nature’s rage echoed the turmoil swirling about in my own mind and heart. I grabbed my Bible and stepped outside onto my covered porch. Taking a seat in my favorite chair, I watched the rain fall, tears flowing, it seemed, in tandem with God’s own.

I cried out to God, my voice barely audible, “I need to hear your whisper on the wind.” Almost immediately, Jesus responded in my heart with three precious words, “I love you.” 

Hope stirred within me, its presence slowly piercing the shroud of doubt. “Is that really you?” And my Jesus in His great mercy repeated Himself, “I love you.”

I felt His presence wash over me from head to toe. Memories flooded my mind of promises made and kept by my Lord. The faith upon which I had stood was no illusion. God’s promises and His plans for me had not changed. He had simply altered my view of them. The Lord drew near to mend my broken heart, infused my crushed spirit with life, and made me ready to stand again. Oh, how I love Jesus.

John never got the earthly rescue he sought from Jesus. Like me, his crying out to God did not alter his circumstances. But Jesus did answer his faithful servant with assurances of truth…the truth that John needed to hear to build his faith…and then the Son of God proclaimed His pleasure over John’s life (Matthew 11:11).

How sweet it must have been to hear what Christ had said when John’s disciples reported back to him. He had not been wrong. The Christ had come. But John himself had prophesied, “He must become greater; I must become less” (John 3:30). The one called to precede the Messiah had fulfilled his purpose, and Jesus gave him the strength he needed for the last leg of his journey.

Not long afterward, Herod took John’s life. As the executioner’s blade pierced his neck, John breathed his last earthly breath. He took his next breath in the throne room of heaven, face to face with the God he had faithfully served. All doubt erased. Hunger ceased. Pain faded into memory as his being flooded with indescribable love and surpassing joy. You can be sure John never once thought of returning to the desert in which he’d spent his earthly life. He’d finally made it home.

They go from strength to strength, till each appears before God in Zion.  Psalm 84:7

Are you stumbling in doubt, beloved? Take it to Jesus. He has exactly what you need to make you stand.

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