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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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What is God Keeping You From?

Following Jesus isn’t getting any easier, is it? While God’s plumb line for distinguishing right and wrong has remained eternally the same, the world’s keeps changing. Things that our grandparents would have considered appalling have become commonplace. Acceptable. The lines have blurred, and so have our convictions.

Dear one, allowing anything other than God’s truth to shape our thinking leads to trouble. Sadly, tasting the sweet enticements of this world eventually results in death.

Kelly Minter witnessed this lesson experienced the hard way.

Lessons From a Lizard

Last week I was out for one of my neighborhood runs on an exceptionally hot and humid day in Nashville. Stifling is the word that comes to mind. I was about 20 minutes into my route when I noticed the oddest thing on the sidewalk . . . a lizard of some sort . . .about 9 inches long . . .

The really bizarre thing . . . is that its head was stuck in a Dr. Pepper can. I am not making this up. I have several theories, but my best one is that the glistening drops of sugary water lured this reptile in on a hot summer’s day. The poor little thing had worked so hard to wedge its head in there that it couldn’t get it out. It suffocated in the smothering heat.

. . . I couldn’t help but catch the symbolism. As I stood there staring at this peculiar sight, I thought of the many times I had discovered a few drops I thought were sure to offer life. They were sugary sweet and went down smoothly, offering a respite from the blaze of summer’s heat. . . In the end they left me more thirsty and desperate than before . . .

[Kelly Minter, No Other Gods, Lifeway Press, 2007, p.54-56]

Funny how some things are so easy to walk into but so impossible to back out of.

Have you ever found that to be true? At first something seemed so appealing, so right, so perfect. So you went after it. But once you got yourself in, you discovered a whole other side you hadn’t bargained for: the death side. The part that, had you known about it up front, would have stopped you from ever going in.

Beloved, God sees all of it, including the danger lurking just beyond the temptation. That’s precisely why He has established boundaries for us, not to keep us from experiencing the sweet, sugary taste of momentary refreshment, but to protect us from the suffocating death that accompanies it.

The enemy has been deceiving and tempting us out of God’s protection since the Garden of Eden. Perhaps it’s time we got wise to his schemes.

Look at God’s instructions to Adam in Genesis 2:16-17.

“You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.”

Pretty straight forward, right? Eat anything you want, except this one thing that will bring you death. Simple enough.

Enter the serpent.

“Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?” Genesis 3:1

God tells us one thing. The prince of this world suggests something else.

That’s where our enemy always begins, dear one, getting us to question God. He raises doubts about His motives, His goodness, His trustworthiness. Did God really say . . .

  • Sex is only for marriage
  • Wives should submit to their husbands
  • Drunkenness is sin

Then he makes us believe we’re forfeiting something by obeying God.

“You will not certainly die,” the serpent said to the woman. “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” Genesis 3:4-5

And here’s the really tricky part. The deceiver always offers some truth in his deceptions. Their eyes were opened (verse 7), and they did become like God in the sense that they would know both good and evil (verse 22). But what really hurt them—what devastated them— was what the enemy failed to reveal: the consequences of experiencing those things.

Had the serpent given full disclosure, I’m quite certain Adam and Eve would’ve made a different choice. But that’s not his way. No, our enemy reveals only what we’d perceive as benefit to entice us. The rest of the dark horror that follows he keeps hidden, relishing the moment we’ll discover it for ourselves.

Picture Adam and Eve experiencing a rush of emotions they had never known before. Shame. Fear. Guilt. Isolation. Blame.

Imagine their terror as each chilling feeling gripped them and they began to face the reality of what they’d done. Feel the awareness creeping over them that the relationship they’d known with their Creator was lost. Sadly, that wasn’t the end of their pain.

Seeds of sin that we allow the enemy to cultivate in us don’t just sprout immediate fruit. They continue to birth consequences long after they’ve been sown, even transcending generations.

As a mother of two boys, I’m especially stricken by the unimaginable grief that must have consumed Adam and Eve as they suffered the loss of their beloved son. I wonder if they held Abel’s lifeless body in their arms, staring in disbelief into the vacant face of the first dead man.   Far worse must have been the knowledge that he was taken from them at the hand of their firstborn. In one terrible moment, jealousy and rage—two devastating results of their choice to sin—stole their two oldest boys from them forever.

Beloved, when you disregard God’s instruction, you may experience a momentary thrill. But what follows will devastate you and those you hold most dear. Sin’s consequences are not always immediate, but they will always come.

Sin's consequences aren't always immediate. But they ALWAYS come. Click To Tweet

This is precisely why salvation comes through faith, dear one. We must decide whose voice we will trust to guide our steps. Will we follow the voice of Truth who always gives us full disclosure? Or will we trust the enticements of the world’s prince and allow him to deceive us into death?

I don’t know about you, dear one, but I choose Jesus.

Plagued by Demons

And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he [Jesus] made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross. Colossians 2:15 (NIV)

I imagine many of you shared my surprise over the news of Robin Williams’ death. How sad that one who brought smiles to so many people apparently lived with such sadness in his own heart. Oh, how we need Jesus! We’re desperate for Him. If only we truly realized how much.

Can you relate to that feeling of hopelessness, dear one? Do you imagine that your troubles are far beyond Jesus’ reach? Or perhaps you think you simply have too much to overcome.

Let me introduce you to a man drowning in hopelessness, living among the tombs in the Gerasenes, across the sea from Galilee. A prisoner to his mind, he had suffered a long time, an outcast welcomed only by the dead.

When Jesus had stepped out on land, there met him a man from the city who had demons. For a long time he had worn no clothes, and he had not lived in a house but among the tombs. Luke 8:27 ESV

You may have already tuned out at the mention of the word demons. I understand. The word makes us uncomfortable. We’d really rather pretend they don’t exist.

But scripture reveals that much of what we battle results from their oppressive influence over our thoughts.

For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Ephesians 6:12 ESV

Whether we like the idea or not, evil is real, and its servants seek to exert its power over each of us. Perhaps it would be wise to learn to recognize their handiwork.

This man overcome by demons in Luke 8 offers a glimpse at what life can look like when evil influences are allowed to have their way. Look at the devastation they cause in verse 27:

  • For a long time he had worn no clothes They rob us of our dignity. The enemy loves to produce destructive behavior in us and then gleefully expose our shame. Then he uses that shame to keep us securely under his thumb.
  • He had not lived in a house but among the tombs. They cut us off from our families and leave us feeling we belong among the dead. Demons love to drive us into isolation. Loneliness and solitude are sure marks of the evil one’s handiwork.

They also make us self-destructive. Verse 29 reveals that when they put him under guard and shackled him to stop his tirades, “he would break the bonds and be driven by the demon into the desert.” Under the enemy’s influence, we will even fight any measures put in place to protect us from ourselves.

No wonder God wants each of us to be transformed by the renewal of our minds (Romans 12:2). A mind influenced by evil oppressors eventually self-destructs.

Verse 33 provides a clear picture of the enemy’s plans for us when he is left unhindered. Once Jesus commanded the legion of demons to leave the man, they begged His permission to enter a herd of pigs, and Jesus gave it.

Then the demons came out of the man and entered the pigs, and the herd rushed down the steep bank into the lake and drowned. Luke 8:33

What does the enemy do when free to exercise his will? He drives us right over a cliff to the death of all that we are. John 10:10 says it plainly:

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy.

That’s a heavy thought if that were the whole truth of it. But praise the Lord, Jesus offers the way for us to escape the enemy’s clutches and live the life God intended for us. He promises in that same verse:

I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.

Beloved, the enemy may destroy, but Jesus saves.

How did that translate in the life of our demon-possessed friend?

Then people went out to see what had happened, and they came to Jesus and found the man from whom the demons had gone, sitting at the feet of Jesus, clothed and in his right mind, and they were afraid. Luke 8:35 ESV

Oh that we would come to understand the magnitude of an authentic encounter with Jesus! His transformation was so radical, the people responded with fear! They witnessed a miracle in the life of a hopeless man—once without dignity and out of control, now clothed and sitting at the feet of Jesus; previously out of his mind, now clearly in his right mind.

Jesus carries the power to rescue you from the dominion of darkness (Colossians 1:13). He longs to remove your shame and restore your dignity, to robe you in His righteousness and cloak you in His power.

Your situation isn’t hopeless. You just need Jesus.

 

Did God Really Say . . . ?

Following Jesus isn’t getting any easier, is it? While God’s plumb line for distinguishing right and wrong has remained eternally the same, the world’s keeps changing. Things that our grandparents would have considered appalling have become commonplace. Acceptable. The lines have blurred, and so have our convictions.

Dear one, allowing anything other than God’s truth to shape our thinking leads to trouble. Sadly, tasting the sweet enticements of this world eventually results in death.

Kelly Minter witnessed this lesson experienced the hard way.

Lessons From a Lizard

Last week I was out for one of my neighborhood runs on an exceptionally hot and humid day in Nashville. Stifling is the word that comes to mind. I was about 20 minutes into my route when I noticed the oddest thing on the sidewalk . . . a lizard of some sort . . .about 9 inches long . . .

The really bizarre thing . . . is that its head was stuck in a Dr. Pepper can. I am not making this up. I have several theories, but my best one is that the glistening drops of sugary water lured this reptile in on a hot summer’s day. The poor little thing had worked so hard to wedge its head in there that it couldn’t get it out. It suffocated in the smothering heat.

. . . I couldn’t help but catch the symbolism. As I stood there staring at this peculiar sight, I though of the many times I had discovered a few drops I thought were sure to offer life. They were sugary sweet and went down smoothly, offering a respite from the blaze of summer’s heat. . . In the end they left me more thirsty and desperate than before . . . [Kelly Minter, No Other Gods, Lifeway Press, 2007, p.54-56]

Funny how some things are so easy to walk into and so impossible to back out of.

Have you ever found that to be true? At first something seemed so appealing, so right, so perfect. So you went after it. But once you got yourself in, you discovered a whole other side you hadn’t bargained for: the death side. The part that, had you known about it up front, would have stopped you from ever going in.

Beloved, God sees all of it, including the death that follows. That’s precisely why he has established boundaries for us, not to keep us from experiencing the sweet, sugary taste of momentary refreshment, but to protect us from the suffocating death that accompanies it.

The enemy has been deceiving and tempting us out of God’s protection since the Garden of Eden. Perhaps it’s time we got wise to his schemes.

Look at God’s instructions to Adam in Genesis 2:16-17.

“You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.”

Pretty straight forward, right? Eat anything you want, except this one thing that will bring you death. Simple enough.

Enter the serpent.

“Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?” Genesis 3:1

God tells us one thing. The prince of this world tells us something else.

That’s where our enemy always begins, dear one, getting us to question God. He raises doubts about His motives, His goodness, His trustworthiness. Did God really say . . .

  •       Sex is only for marriage
  •       Wives should submit to their husbands
  •       Drunkenness is sin

Then he makes us believe we’re forfeiting something by obeying God.

“You will not certainly die,” the serpent said to the woman.  “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” Genesis 3:4-5

And here’s the really tricky part. The world’s prince always offers some truth in his deceptions. Their eyes were opened (verse 7), and they did become like God in the sense that they would know both good and evil (verse 22). But what really hurt them—what devastated them— was what the enemy failed to reveal: the consequences of experiencing those things.

Had the serpent given full disclosure, I’m quite certain Adam and Eve would’ve made a different choice.  But that’s not his way.  No, our enemy reveals only what we’d perceive as benefit to entice us.  The rest of the dark horror that follows he keeps hidden, relishing the moment we will discover it for ourselves. 

Imagine his glee as he led Adam and Eve to experience a rush of emotions they had never known before. Shame. Fear. Guilt. Isolation. Blame. 

Imagine their terror as each chilling feeling gripped them and they began to face the reality of what they’d done.  Feel the awareness creeping over them that the relationship they’d known with their Creator was lost.  Sadly, that wasn’t the end of their pain.

Seeds of sin that we allow the enemy to cultivate in us don’t just sprout immediate fruit. 

They continue to birth consequences long after they’ve been sown, even transcending generations. 

As a mother of two boys, I’m especially stricken by the unimaginable grief that must have consumed Adam and Eve as they suffered the loss of a beloved son.  I wonder if they held his lifeless body in their arms, staring in disbelief into the vacant face of the first dead man, their precious Abel.   Far worse must have been the knowledge that he was taken from them at the hand of their firstborn.  In one terrible moment, jealousy and rage—two devastating results of their choice—stole their two oldest boys from them forever. 

Beloved, when you disregard God’s instruction, you may experience a momentary thrill. But what follows will devastate you and those you hold most dear.  The consequences are not always immediate, but they will always come. 

This is precisely why salvation comes through faith, dear one. We must decide whose voice we will trust to guide our steps. Will we follow the voice of Truth who always gives us full disclosure? Or will we follow the world’s prince and allow him to deceive us into death?

I don’t know about you, dear one, but I choose Jesus.

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