Living a Life in light of the Resurrected Christ

images-70Isn’t it amazing how the weeks following the Easter holiday just slides back into routine? We find our children crashing from their sugar buzz from all the chocolate eggs and the new clothes aren’t new anymore. The family festivities all pass into sweet memories as well as the inspiring messages and church celebrations. The reality of the whole purpose also seems to fade so quickly into the next appointment on our agenda. I can’t help but think that this isn’t all Easter should be. A matter of fact, I believe the scriptural theme backs up a total different outcome. Easter wasn’t ever intended to be over and done with, but to increase more and more.

Several days of celebrating Jesus being falsely accused, scourged, crucified, buried and then risen from the dead for us, doesn’t fulfill the scripture purpose. Don’t get me wrong it’s good to celebrate and have a day of focus; but the whole reason for Christ dying and rising again is to give you and I a life more abundantly (Jn 10:10) as He intended not just an annual event. All of us were caught in inherited sin from Adam in the Garden of Eden, and plunged into a spiraling devolution. Paul describes all humanity


Christ’s death and resurrection is to give you and I a life more abundantly as He intended not just an annual event.


in Rom 3:10 as, “there is none righteous” and in Eph 2:17 “you who are far off”.   Bottom line is that we received a sin problem that separated us from our Heavenly Father, which we inherited through Adam. (Rom. 5:12) But through the incredible gracious and merciful free gift of God through Jesus sacrifice we are declared righteous and reconciled back to God. (Eph. 2:13, 1 Cor. 6:11)       Yes, we definitely have a great reason to be thankful and to celebrate our deliverance from enslavement of sin. But scripture teaches that being justified isn’t the end but a beginning of a glorious journey. Paul describes it as a great transfer. (Rom. 5:19) In what most acknowledge as Paul’s finest and most thorough work on doctrine, we find where he says in his letter to the Roman’s, in chapter 5:18 “Therefore, as through one man’s offense judgment came to all men, … even so through one Man’s righteous act the free gift came to all men, resulting in justification of life”.

The purpose of Easter celebration, which is about our justification through Christ’s death and resurrection, is much more than a holy week or day. God’s intent was a change in the way we live, “a justification of life”. We are purchased from the kingdom of darkness into the Kingdom of light, from death unto new life. Paul says in 2 Cor 5:17 “if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away…” and in Rom 6:4 he says “…even so we also should walk in newness of life”. The cross is the beginning of


I choose to live a life of victory not just be a Easter believer


every Christian’s walk of faith. God doesn’t want us to stay at the tomb of Jesus who died for us. Jesus wants us to identify with His resurrection and live a life unto righteousness. We shouldn’t go back to the humdrum of mediocrity after Easter, but we need to move forward in victory of life. (Rom 12:2, 2 Cor 3:18) If we have been purchased by Christ’s own blood shouldn’t we live a life that reflex’s His great mercy and power. Yet, that can only be achieved when are eyes are opened to the living Christ. The two disciples were sad and perplexed in their journey to Emmaus until their eyes were opened to the risen Savior that walked with them. (Jn 21:13-35) It’s time to walk each day in the power of the risen Lord! (Titus 2:13-14)

 

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What do you see … In Easter?

cross_4_edit_2There’s just something about this time of the year. The trees are beginning to bud and the flowers are pushing through the soil. Weekends are filled with neighbors busily working in their yards getting ready for the celebration of Easter Sunday. Stores are filled with mothers shopping for their children’s Easter outfits and many children are excitedly decorating baskets and coloring eggs for the annual Easter egg hunt.

I know you can relate with me that it’s almost impossible to walk in the super market without seeing the many Easter candies, decorations and not buying a cart full. Yet the many different ways people see this holiday is as numerous as the many different kinds of candy for the day itself. Some see it as a day for family fun and others see it as games in the sun, while still others a time for spiritual communion. No matter what age people might be many will look at Easter differently.

In John 20:1-8, we see three different views of the empty tomb from three individuals who had been followers of Jesus. Mary Magdalene who had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities (Lk 8:2), faithful John the beloved (Jn 21:20) and Peter who


The tomb is Empty because He is not there for He is risen


had days earlier denied Jesus three times (Jn. 18:17-27). Jesus had been falsely convicted and scourged to inches of His life and then violently crucified before all Jerusalem. Then as if to cover and seal this horrendous demonic act He is buried in a tomb to be forgotten, or is He?

In verse one we read where Mary rises before dawn to go to the tomb where she finds the stone rolled away making the tomb open and alarming. She looks and immediately runs back and with the announcement that Jesus had been taken from the tomb arouse the disciples. Franticly, Peter and John run to the place where Jesus had been laid and John being first looks in the vacant tomb with out entering. When Peter arrives he goes on in and sees the empty space with the intriguing evidence of the folded headscarf. They all three looked at the situation and drew their conclusions resulting in their different responses.

If we inspect a little deeper the words that are used in Johns account we see that there our three different words used to describe how these three looked at the empty tomb. Mary, who came first with spices as well as John in the beginning looked with a


I owed a debt I could not pay and Jesus paid a debt He did not owe.


casual glance, which brought Mary to tears and grief (Jn.20:11-15). Peter as he arrived passed up John and went into the tomb and looked as a critical spectator, which resulted in him going back to his old lifestyle. Finally John who started out looking casually now goes into the tomb after Peter and inspects the evidence and remembering Jesus words perceives with understanding, which leads him to believe.

Now this leads me to the day we live in where there seems to be so many people with so many different perspectives about the Easter story, which will result in many different outcomes in their lives. Those that see it as just chocolate bunnies, chicks and eggs seem to live with no eternal perspective and without hope. Then there’s those that have a slight grasp of its religious meaning, yet because of their lack of understanding live with a critical and cynical view point. But, there’s one more group that have ventured to go in deeper with faith filled vision choosing to believe the message that Jesus is risen as the angel declared! (Lk.24:6) What do you see? I choose to believe He is risen indeed, how about you?

Let God turn your Mess Ups into His Set Ups

images-65One of my fond memories as a young boy was on the coast of Oregon in the shadows of the sand cliffs as the Sun set on the ocean in the cool of the evening. My parents had started a campfire and we were cooking hotdogs on the beach. It was such a soothing and refreshing moment that I imagine each time I read the story that we find in John 21:6-15.

The passage is of Peter and some of the disciples fishing after Jesus had been crucified. They were devastated and beyond discouraged which drove them back to their old profession of commercial fishing. And to add salt to their emotional wounds, they were catching no fish.

Out of their hopelessness they obey a person they don’t recognize, who tells them to throw their nets on the other side of the boat. That’s as audacious as if a quarter back in the NFL would take instructions from a fan in the second tier of the stands. Yet they obeyed and caught a net breaking catch of fish. John cries out it is the Lord and the radically spontaneously actions of Peter confirms his agreement. He grabs his cloak puts


Peter was pushed to the point of quitting and going back to his old life style of fishing after the shame of feeling like a failure. –  Tweet  


it on and jumps overboard to be the first one to the shore where the resurrected Jesus has a fire prepared for them. As they all get there with their catch of fish, Jesus begins to cook breakfast for them and pointedly asks Peter three times if he loved Him. Once Jesus gets Peter to confess his brotherly love for Him, Jesus confirms the commission that was on his life, to feed the followers of Jesus.

This story all by itself stirs me, but when we understand the past events in Peter’s life it comes alive with the very mercies and love of God. You see Peter had just royally blown it! In John 18:16-28 we read in the midst of Jesus being falsely accused and on trial, instead of defending Jesus, Peter denies Him three times as he warms himself by a fire outside.

I believe it was this event and a whole list of other mess-ups that finally tipped Peters emotional wagon. He was the one who had gotten his eyes off of Jesus and on the waves beginning to sink. (Matt 14:23-32) Remember he also was the one who cut the ear off the High Priest’s servant (Jn 18:10-11) and at the mount of Transfiguration put his foot in his mouth. (Matt 17:2-7) We can’t deny the blooper when he rebuked Jesus for talking about His death. (Mark 8:31-33) Then who can forget about Peter and the disciples sleeping through the prayer meeting even after Jesus woke them up three times in this most crucial time. (Matt 26:41-46)

So you can definitely understand how Peter once he saw the evidence that Jesus was raised from the grave (John 20:6-8) could have become overwhelmed thinking he was a failure! Pushing him to the point of quitting and going back to his old life style of fishing. (John 21:3-4) That brings back to where we started, on the beach with Jesus cooking breakfast. Peter was devastated and convinced he was the all time failure. Yet Jesus was setting Peter up, wanting to take his mess-up and use them as a set-up for his come back. There on the beach was a fire and then three times Jesus had him say that he loved Him to replace the three denials and commissioning him to feed God’s sheep. In Acts we see Peter was then used to preach the Gospel message where three thousand came to believe in Jesus! (Acts 2:14-15)

Roll Up Your Sleeves and get it Done!

A1 roll up sleevesWords can’t explain the deluge of emotions that comes over you when you see your daughter walk across the stage of graduation! It’s as if an internal video automatically starts rolling in your mind. The day they were born, the first steps they took and so on. I wish I could say it gets easier, but the emotions just continue as time quickly goes down the road of life.

But, there’s nothing more awesome then to see your children who have your “DNA” begin the journey of life. Now that we’ve wiped the tears of emotions away let’s remember the reality of the process! Dirty diapers, screaming through the nights, acts of devilish fits, deceptive disobedience and last minute school projects after a long hard day at work. Wow! There is definitely work involved in the process


Don’t just sit on your blessed assurance but continue the journey of faith  


of life. They will always be our children and have our “DNA” but without rolling up their sleeves and doing some work they will never develop into a successful reflection of their parents. They must learn how to be a functioning member of our household. Their “DNA” never changes but they are fashioned into a true reflection of who we are as they yield to our guidance.

Paul addresses in his letter to the Romans some of these issues of growing as a believer. (Rom. 7:21-25) They hadn’t been raised up under Jewish traditions yet they came to the new birth through Christ Jesus. He exhorts these gentiles, in Rom 12:1-2 that the process of life in the Kingdom of God goes on even after the new birth. We now have a new DNA and have become children of light instead of darkness. (Eph. 5:8) It’s like Jesus said to Nicodemus we have been “born again”(Jn. 3:3), and now have started a glorious journey as a believer in Jesus! We are now citizens of the household of God (Eph 2:19) through the finished work of Christ on the cross. (Col. 2:11-15) But that’s not all there’s more!

Paul Exhorts the believers in Rome not to just sit on their blessed assurance but to continue the journey of faith. He says in Rom 12:1-2, “present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind…”. It is Continue reading

The First Step can be the Hardest

images-62I would imagine we all have experienced times where we are gripped with fear of the unknown. Like my sister and brother who when they were younger took skydiving lessons. Yes, they jumped out of perfectly good airplanes at 13,000 ft above the earth. They said the hardest part of their adventure was the first step out of the plane into the unknown atmosphere. Wow! I don’t want to even imagine how I might feel. I would probably scream like a baby.

Let me say no matter how old or rickety the plane might be, it’s made to fly and becomes a comfort zone for those in it. But, when we are faced with defying the established laws of the universe, as those who are expected to jump out of a plane are, you will more than likely get hit in the face with fear, doubt and anxiety. Why, because we weren’t made to fly.

With that in mind let’s look at Matt 14:23-33, where Jesus sends the disciples by boat to the other side before Him. Being in a boat on the water was a comfortable and familiar way of life and for some like Peter and Andrew it was where they had


It’s only when you get out of your boat do you see the miracles of God. 


made their living. Yet, things were radically going to change in their surrounding and life. A boisterous storm moves in changing the atmosphere and out of the dark Jesus comes walking on the water overturning their comfort and ultimately challenging their faith. Thinking Jesus could be a ghost fear began to grip and overtake them. With calming words of “Be of good cheer! It is I; do not be afraid.” Jesus speaks to them. But Peter wanting more evidence, like a child saying to his peers “prove it”. He blurts out, “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.” The vary fact that Peter would even consider asking this was mind-boggling. What he asked shows that he believed that Jesus had the power to override any earthly limitations or laws. I believe a mixture of assurance and dread came over him when Jesus answered with the word, “Come”.

It was probably like the feeling my brother and sister felt when it was time to jump out of the plane. That first step of transitioning from security and familiarity over to the unknown is one many will never overcome. But if never taken there is the absent of experiencing the wonders and adventure of over-riding the established


God doesn’t want us to stay where were at but to crossover to the other side


limitations. When Peter acted on the word of Jesus, which revealed his understanding of who he understood Jesus as, he walked on water. Peter began to move in another dimension, one that none has ever walked in to the same extent. He not only gets the award for being the only one to walk on water but more importantly he confirmed to himself the belief that Jesus was able to empower him Continue reading

Connecting with Heaven and disconnecting from bondages of this World

605374893The early evangelist Smith Wigglesworth knew the power of fasting and prayer. At the age of sixteen, he was impacted by the power he saw in the Salvation Army’s workers that others didn’t have. He was led earnestly to pray and fast for salvations. Much later in his life Wigglesworth recalled, “We used to have all nights of prayer. He said, “I fasted all day every Sunday and prayed, and I never remember seeing less than fifty souls saved by the power of God in the meetings with the children.”

Isaiah, 58:8 tells us, “Then your light shall break forth like the morning, your healing shall spring forth speedily, and your righteousness shall go before you; the glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard.” Here we see the victory of fasting in the scripture. Strongholds are broken with prayer and fasting. This would seem to tell us that there is an added power and maybe a spiritual overdrive when we combine prayer with fasting.

This is what Jesus tells His disciples, “However, this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting,” (Matt. 17:21). While Jesus and three of His disciples were having an incredible visitation on the mountaintop, unanswered prayers deflated the others. A father had brought his demonized child to the disciples and when they failed at bringing deliverance, the father approached Jesus as He came down from the mount. After Jesus rebuked the demon and set the young man free, the disciples asked why they couldn’t help the child. In verses 20-21 Jesus answered them, “Because of your unbelief… However, this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting.” Jesus declared that in cases like this, nothing happens unless there is prayer and fasting. So, according to Jesus, fasting and prayer will build our faith and align us with His will. Jesus lets us know that when our prayers fall flat and when our flesh is weak that added power is available when we deny and humble ourselves through fasting. Prayer with fasting is a mixture of supernatural components that will change situations from ordinary to extraordinary. It transports us from fleshly strength to God’s supernatural power. Every believer should participate. As I have suggested, fasting is not trying to twist God’s arm but it is about the individual humbling and aligning himself with God’s will. Whether you fast short-term or for an extended length of time, you must be wise. Scripture highlights various lengths and types of fasts.

I often hear, “I will fast when God tells me to fast” or “It’s wrong to fast without God telling you to do it?” Those are statements from individuals who aren’t familiar with the scriptures. In Mathew 6:1-18, Jesus exhorts the believers to serve in three areas: “When you do acts of love, when you pray and when you fast; do it unto the Lord, not in a self-serving attitude.” The key word in doing these three disciplines is when you do them. It does not say if you do them. When you do them indicates it is not an optional discipline, but it should be a common practice. I think most would agree that doing acts of love and praying are definitely actions that Christ’s disciples should be doing. But, how can we then separate those two acts from the third exhortation that Jesus gave? He said, “When you fast,” just as He said when you pray and when you do acts of love. Therefore, we must conclude that the believer should have a lifestyle of fasting just as they should have a lifestyle of prayer and serving. Let’s do it!

 

Connecting with Heaven and disconnecting from

the things of this World

 

Thoughts to Ponder:  

  1. We see various types of fasting in the scriptures such as complete fast (No water or food), normal fast (No food) or partial fasting (different times or limited foods). What type of fasting have you done in your life? Please explain.
  1. When you have fasted in your life have you saw immediate results or has it taken a while to see any results? Give an account if you can.

 

  1. How would you interpret what Jesus was saying in Mathew 6:1-18? How would you reply to believers that say they will only fast when Jesus tells them?

 

Quotes to Tweet:    

  • Prayer connects us with Heaven and fasting disconnects us from the bondages of this world – billvirgin.com

 

  • There is an added power and spiritual overdrive when we combine prayer with fasting     –   billvirgin.com

 

  • The believer should have a lifestyle of fasting just as they should have a lifestyle of prayer and serving   – billvirgin.com

 

#PrayerAndFastingLetsDoIt     #SolemnAssembly     #JoinTheFastingMovement

 

 

 

 

I am going to do it even if I have Screaming Eagles in my Stomach!

Thankfulness - sunsetFew Christians have seriously pressed into the realm of prayer and fasting. The church has nonchalantly looked the other way and has stopped talking about this biblical principle. Denying ourselves isn’t convenient or enjoyable to our flesh. I know when I fast it seems as if there are screaming eagles in my stomach!

God is awakening courageous believers to the understanding of the empowerment of a fasted lifestyle. Unfortunately, that will never happen until we crucify our flesh and combine fasting with our prayers. They go hand-in-hand. Hunger is one of the body’s strongest cravings. When the believer seeks God and His


I am going to Fast even if it gives me Screaming Eagles in my Stomach! –


kingdom by going without food it demonstrates self-humbling and a sacrifice of personal pleasure. (Ps.35:13)  It is a dynamic principle that every believer needs to practice throughout his or her lives. It can’t be just a quick fix button that we use when we are in a jam or a medal we wear to proclaim our self-righteousness.

In Isaiah 58:6 we read, “Is this not the fast that I have chosen: to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, to let the oppressed go free, and that you break every yoke”? The scriptures openly tell us that God has chosen the fast as a way to loose bondages and release those who are oppressed. We see today many renowned ministers and ministries promoting fasting and prayer such as, Jentzen Franklin, Mike Bickle as well as, the late Dr. Bill Bright and his ministry, Campus Crusade for Christ International, have stirred churches, pastors and their congregations around the world to pray and fast for godly change. These men also live a fasted lifestyle and have seen the power and impact of it. Dr. Bright said, “Fasting is the most powerful spiritual discipline of all the Christian disciplines. Through fasting and prayer, the Holy Spirit can transform your life.” Joel 2:12 says, “’Now, therefore,’ says the Lord, ‘Turn to Me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning.’” Fasting is in the same category as wholeheartedly turning toward Him. Derek Prince said, “Fasting breaks down the barriers in man’s


Fasting can’t be just a quick fix button or a medal we wear to proclaim our self- righteousness.


carnal nature that stand in the way of the Holy Spirit’s omnipotence. With these barriers removed, the Holy Spirit can work unhindered in His fullness through our
prayers”.

Fasting gets the believer serious about God’s will. In the book of Acts, we see the early church practiced and was vigilant in fasting. Acts 13:2-3, “As they ministered to the Lord and fasted, the Holy Spirit said, ‘Now separate to Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.’ Then, having fasted and prayed and laid hands on them, they sent them away.” Matthew Henry says about this passage, “We see here a divine warrant and commission to Barnabas and Saul to go and preach the gospel among the Gentiles, and their ordination to that service by the imposition of hands, with fasting and prayer.” The early church understood the seriousness of fulfilling God’s will and His calling; therefore, they denied themselves and fasted.

There is a moving of God’s Spirit upon the community of believers all across the world to live a life of prayer and fasting. Humbling ourselves before the Lord will bring a desire to hear His heartbeat and know His will. Isn’t it time for every believer to return to Biblical truth and practice this lifestyle? Getting serious in prayer and fasting will bring the powerful results that we so desperately need in our culture. Are you ready to get back to the Biblical principles of fasting?

   Thoughts to Ponder:  

  1. What do you think of when you hear the word fasting? Maybe going in for a medical procedure, or a hunger strike? In your own words define what you and your friends think about fasting

 

  1. What do you think the biblical principle of fasting’s part is in the church today. Is it a thing of the past ? Does it bend God’s arm to answer us?
  1. Other than the scriptures mentioned above do you know of any other Biblical stories of fasting? Explain the Story?

 Quotes to Tweet:    

  • I am going to Fast even if it gives me Screaming Eagles in my Stomach! – billvirgin.com
  • Fasting can’t be just a quick fix button or a medal we wear to proclaim our self-   righteousness. – billvirgin.com
  • Getting serious in prayer and fasting will bring the powerful results that we so desperately need in our culture.   – billvirgin.com

#FastingGivesMeScreamingEaglesInMyStomach     #JoinTheFastingMovement