What’s So Good About Good Friday?


Maybe you’re like me and have wondered why today is referred to as “Good Friday.” Have you ever thought to yourself why it’s called that? Why would a day that was full of so much bad be remembered as good? Like I could understand if we called Sunday good, but Friday. It just doesn’t make much sense. How could a day where Jesus was falsely accused, brutally beaten, and shamefully put to death be considered good? 

Recently I was listening to a message called “The Thirst Trap” by the pastor of Elevation Church, Steven Furtick. He started out the message with this bold statement “Favor flows from unexpected places.” It got me thinking. How many times do we miss out on a blessing in our lives because we aren’t expecting it to show up in the way it did? How many times have I missed out on something God had for me because it didn’t look how I expected it to be? Like, for example, I asked God for a tree and He gave me an acorn. Or how the Israelites asked God for water and He told Moses to hit a rock?

You see if we are not careful, we will end up missing out on God’s blessings because they come wrapped inside an unusual container. We will miss out on the gift because we were expecting it to look much differently. 

Forgiveness flowed from an unexpected place, a hill known for death called Golgotha. Salvation flowed from an unexpected place, a cross. Redemption flowed from an unexpected place, a pierced side. Life flowed from an expected place, death.

Friday is remembered as good because of the gift of God that was freely given. The work of God was finished by Jesus on Friday. On the exterior it didn’t look so good because of the circumstances. But the favor of God flowed to us in the most unexpected place. And because of that Friday is good.

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One Last Breath 

  
When I coached high school baseball, I had to be CPR certified. I had to be ready to help save a life just in case something happened on the baseball field. I learned about the two breaths to every 30 compressions. I learned how to use an AED. I learned what steps needed to be taken in an emergency.

Just like in CPR where there are two breaths, there are also two pivotal life altering breaths that took place that are recorded for us in the Bible. The first one takes place all the way back in the beginning of Creation. You can find it in Genesis 2:7. In order for the human race to become into existence, God had to breathe the breath of life into man. Man was just flesh and bones. Man was nothing. Man was lifeless. It took God breathing in so man could breathe out. 

The same is true for us today. We are just flesh and bones. We are nothing. We are lifeless. Scientifically we breathe in oxygen and breathe out carbon dioxide, but spiritually when we breathe in, we breathe in the breath of life that God breathed into us back in Genesis.

The second breath is maybe more important than the first. You can find it recorded in the Gospels, more specifically Mark 15:37. Jesus while he was dying on the cross, cried out to God and breathed his last breath. It is because Jesus was willing to breathe his last we are able to breathe our first. Jesus took one last breath so we could take our first breath. We were dead. We were just flesh and bones. We were lifeless. We were nothing. Until Jesus took one last breath.

Every time you take a breath, remember that God breathed in so you can breathe out. Reflect on the hope that Jesus breathed his last so you could breathe your first.

The Greatest Gift of All

I remember when I was a little kid waking up early on Christmas morning and running down the stairs to see all the gifts underneath the Christmas tree. The excitement and joy that would fill my heart opening each and every present. You can probably reflect back as well on all those childhood memories of your own gathering around the Christmas tree.

As I reflect on the past Christmases and even as I think about this Christmas, I am reminded of the verse in Acts that says “The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom ye slew and hanged on a tree.”

You see the greatest gift of all is not found underneath a tree but He hung on a tree for you and for me. All the gifts underneath the tree on Christmas are temporary but the gift that hung on the tree lasts throughout eternity. You see the greatest gift you could receive this Christmas isn’t any present you unwrap from underneath the tree but the greatest gift is His presence that was provided by Jesus when He hung on the tree.

So as you open all the gifts from underneath the tree this Christmas, remember that nothing you receive can match the gift that was given when Jesus hung on a tree and gave His life for you and for me.

Karma vs. Grace

I was reminded about this recently so I felt like I needed to share it because I believe someone out there needs to hear this.

– Karma says what goes around comes around. Grace says what was supposed to come around to me already came around to Jesus.

– Karma says you get what you deserve. Grace says because of Jesus you get more than you deserve.

– Karma is based on what you do. Grace is based on what Jesus has done.

– Karma is about paying people back. Grace is about the price that Jesus has already paid.

– Karma is how the world operates. Grace is how God operates.

– Karma is agonizing. Grace is amazing.

– Karma will have you living in fear. Grace will have you living in faith.

Thank God that, because of Jesus, we don’t have to worry about karma but we can walk in grace.

 

What Are You Thankful For?

With the radio stations playing Christmas music earlier and earlier every year, stores putting out Christmas displays at the end of October, and houses hanging Christmas lights before the turkey is put in the oven; it seems like Thanksgiving has become forgotten. With all the hustle and bustle, the advertisements, and the deals the day after on “Black Friday,” Thanksgiving can easily be overlooked.

It can be very enticing to fall into the trap of being ungrateful for everything we have been blessed with in our lives. So I challenge you and urge you, in the spirit of Thanksgiving, to please take the time today to sit down and reflect on all the things in your life that you are thankful for.

With that being said and since today is Thanksgiving, here are a few scriptures to help you in giving thanks.

Make a joyful shout to the Lord, all you lands! Serve the Lord with gladness; Come before His presence with singing. Know that the Lord, He is God; It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves; We are His people and the sheep on His pasture. Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, And into His courts with praise. Be thankful to Him and bless His name. For the Lord is good; His mercy is everlasting, And His truth endures to all generations. (Psalm 100:1-5 NKJV)

Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever. (1 Chronicles 16:34 NKJV)

Oh, give thanks to the Lord! Call upon His name; Make known His deeds among the peoples! (1 Chronicles 16:8 NKJV)

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-7 NKJV)

Offer to God thanksgiving, And pay your vows to the Most High. (Psalm 50:14 NKJV)

Continue earnestly in prayer, being vigilant in it with thanksgiving. (Colossians 4:2 NKJV)

Rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, as you have been taught, abounding in it with thanksgiving. (Colossians 2:7 NKJV)

I will praise the name of God with a song, And will magnify Him with thanksgiving. (Psalm 69:30 NKJV)

Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving; Let us shout joyfully to Him with psalms. (Psalm 95:2 NKJV)

For all things are for your sakes, that grace, having spread through the many, may cause thanksgiving to abound to the glory of God. (2 Corinthians 4:15 NKJV)

Memory Loss

I have been blessed with a great memory, but one thing I struggle with is remembering people’s names. I don’t know if you can relate. The frustrating thing about it to me is that I can remember everything else about the person, how I know them, where we met, what we talked about, even in some instances what they were wearing; but for the life of me I can’t seem to remember their name.

Sometimes we can have this same trouble remembering when it comes to God. We seem to remember the things we are suppose to forget and forget the things we are suppose to remember. I heard Pastor Steven Furtick say these things in his recent message called “The Divine Reminder” in the series entitled “Ghost Stories.” He said “Instead of remembering our burdens, we need to be reminded of our blessings.” He went on to say “Instead of remembering our sin that was nailed to the cross, we need to focus on the sacrifice that was made by the person who died on the cross.”

I believe if we could remind ourselves of this truth and remember the sacrifice that was made for us, we would forget about our burdens and remember all of our blessings.

So how do we forget what we are suppose to forget and remember what we are suppose to remember? Well I think David gives us some helpful steps when he writes these words in Psalm 119:

“I seek you with all my heart; do not let me stray from your commands. I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you. Praise be to you, Lord; teach me your decrees. With my lips I recount all the laws that come from your mouth. I rejoice in following your statutes as one rejoices in great riches. I meditate on your precepts
and consider your ways. I delight in your decrees; I will not neglect your word.” (Psalm 119:10-16 NIV)

1) I seek.
The first thing David says he does is that he seeks with all he’s got. Now the act of seeking implies that you have lost something and you are earnestly and desperately trying to find it. You originally had it in your possession but for some reason or another you have misplaced it. So you go looking for it. What is it in your life that you had but you have now seemed to have lost it? Maybe it’s that first love. Maybe it’s the passion you had when you first met Jesus. Maybe it’s that desire you had to change that injustice that you see in the world today. Whatever it maybe. Seek after it with all that you got. Don’t give up until you find it.

2) I have hidden.
When you hide something it’s to protect that particular thing from others trying to steal it or take it from you. You most likely put it in a place where only you can find it. An area in where only you would know to look. One of the reasons I believe we seem to forget the blessings of God in our lives is that we don’t hide them in our heart and leave them out in the open so that the enemy can come and steal them away with his lies and condemnation. What is it that you need to keep hidden? Put it in a safe place where, when you need to be reminded of the goodness of God, you can find it.

3) I recount.
Have you ever heard of the saying “measure twice, cut once”? This is a phrase that most people in construction have to help remind them whenever they have to make a particular cut to always go back and check your measurements in order that you don’t mess up the cut, waste the material, and have to go back and do it all over again. Before you start making cuts in your life; go back and measure again how deep, how high, how long, and how wide God’s love is for you. Go back and recount the many blessings that He has poured out on you. Because believe me if you keep going back to recount all that God has done in your life, you won’t have time to remember all the mistakes you have made in your past.

4) I rejoice.
Paul writes in Philippians 4 “Rejoice in the Lord always and again I say rejoice.” (See Philippians 4:4) Never miss an opportunity to be joyful. Cherish the little things in life. Always be first to find the joy in every situation instead of digging around for the junk. And when you come across times in your life were there seems to be no joy, go back to a time and place where there was and rejoice in that.

5) I meditate.
Paul goes on to write in the same chapter of Philippians only a few verses later “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” (See Philippians 4:8) Paul knew the tendency that we have as human beings to remember what we are suppose to forget and forget what we are suppose to remember, so he instructs us to think (to meditate) on the things that we are to remember. What are you constantly thinking about? Are you continually thinking about your burdens and not about you blessings?

6) I delight.
Where do you find yourself taking the most pleasure in? Are you finding your delight in what God says, like David, or are you finding it in what others say? If you are trying to find your delight in your house, in your car, in your bank account, in your career then you will never be satisfied, but if you find your delight in God then you will never find yourself searching for satisfaction again.

My hope and prayer is that you are reminded of the truth that you are a child of God. That you are priceless. That you are complete. That you are His workmanship. That you are blessed. That you were created on purpose, with a purpose, for a purpose. And most importantly that you are loved.

Benefits Package

For those of you who have ever worked a full time job, you remember all the paper work you had to fill out as soon as you were hired. Some of that paperwork consisted of what is called a benefits package. Most benefits packages consist of health care, eye care, dental care, and maybe like a fitness membership. This would be things that the company would provide for being a part of their team.

As sons and daughters of God, we are provided a benefits package. Because of God’s great love for us, He lavishes us with His benefits. David writes about them in Psalm 103:

“Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name! Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits, who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy, who satisfies you with good so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s. The Lord works righteousness and justice for all who are oppressed. He made known his ways to Moses, his acts to the people of Israel. The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. He will not always chide, nor will he keep his anger forever. He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us. As a father shows compassion to his children, so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him. For he knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust. As for man, his days are like grass; he flourishes like a flower of the field; for the wind passes over it, and it is gone, and its place knows it no more. But the steadfast love of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear him, and his righteousness to children’s children, to those who keep his covenant and remember to do his commandments. The Lord has established his throne in the heavens, and his kingdom rules over all. Bless the Lord, O you his angels, you mighty ones who do his word, obeying the voice of his word! Bless the Lord, all his hosts, his ministers, who do his will! Bless the Lord, all his works, in all places of his dominion. Bless the Lord, O my soul!” (Psalm 103:1-22 ESV)

David reminds himself to not forget the benefits that he has in God. He begins to list off all God’s benefits. How He forgives. How He heals, How He redeems. How He crowns. How He satisfies. How He is merciful. How He is gracious. How He is compassionate. How He loves.

So next time you are discouraged, depressed, or distraught; remember the benefits you have in God. How He has forgiven you. How He has healed you. How He has redeemed you. How He has crowned you with life. How He has satisfied you. How He has been merciful to you. How He has been gracious to you. How He has been compassionate to you. And how He has loved you.

Spot Remover

So that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. (Ephesians 5:27 ESV)

This Monday a guy that I work with came into work with some extreme discomfort. He kept grabbing at his stomach and saying that he was feeling a lot of pain. I asked him what was wrong, he said he couldn’t sleep all night, that the pain was getting worse and if it didn’t get better he was going to get it checked out. About 10:00 a.m. he couldn’t bear the pain anymore so he went to get it checked out. Before he left, I prayed that God would heal him. Tuesday morning he came in all shook up. He told me that they took a MRI, found a spot on his kidney and they needed him to come in Wednesday morning for a CT scan and further testing. I immediately prayed for his healing again, that God would remove the spot on his kidney that when the doctor takes the scan they won’t find a thing. Wednesday afternoon he comes in with a big smile on his face, tells me that the doctors couldn’t find anything, what was there Monday was gone, and everything looked normal.

We don’t need to go to a physician, we can go directly to the Great Physician. Jesus took those stripes on His back for our healing. The blood He shed washes us white as snow and removes all spots and wrinkles. Jesus is the greatest spot remover.

I don’t know what you have done, what you’ve been through, where you’ve been, or where you’re now; but Jesus can make all things new. The song by Hillsong United “Jesus Paid It All” has a line that says “Sin had left a crimson stain, Jesus washed it white as snow.”

Whatever it is Jesus can wash it away. If it’s pain, Jesus can remove it. If it’s depression, Jesus can remove it. If it’s debt, Jesus can remove it. If it’s hopelessness, Jesus can remove it. If it’s despair, Jesus can remove it. If it’s fear, Jesus can remove it. No matter what it is, Jesus can remove it.

Take it to Jesus today and let Him make all things new.

Please and Thank You

With Thanksgiving being only a few days ago and re-listening to a message by Steven Furtick, Senior Pastor of Elevation Church, on gratitude that he gave at this years NewSpring Leadership Conference, I was inspired to write this post.

We are taught when we grow up to say “Please” when we want someone to give us something and then to say “Thank You” when they give it to us. That is just common courtesy, common protocol, and the way we were all brought up to follow.

God, however, has a different protocol. David writes in Psalms 100:4 “Enter His gates with thanksgiving and enter into His courts with praise.” Before we start to ask God for something, we need to thank Him and give Him praise. David goes on to write that the person who thanks God honors Him and prepares the way for the salvation of God (See Psalm 50:23). In other words, when you give God thanksgiving and praise, you prepare the way for God to move on your behalf. If you’re waiting on God to do something in your life, start making a way for Him by giving Him praise and thanksgiving. Start thanking God in your today for what you want to see in your tomorrow. Start praising God in your now for what you want to see in your later. Start preparing the way.

Paul and Silas were in the worst and toughest situation in their life, they were in the darkest hour of the night, they had been beat up, and chained down, but when they started to thank God and give Him praise, that’s when they were set free (See Acts 16:25). This is why Paul wrote in Philippians 4:6 “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” Some of you who are reading this might be in the darkest hour of your life, the world has probably beat you up, life has got you chained down, and you are looking for a breakthrough. Start lifting up your voice, giving God thanksgiving and praise, and see if you’re not set free. 

You have to thank God before you see whatever it is you’re believing for to happen. The prophet Joel writes “Let the weak say ‘I am strong!'” (See Joel 3:10). If you are weak, start thanking God that you are strong. If you are in debt, start thanking God that He has made you debt free. If you are afraid, start thanking God that He has not given you a spirit of fear but of power, love, and a sound mind. If you are captive, start thanking God that Jesus has set you free. Romans 4:17 tells us that God gives life to the dead and calls things that are not as though they were. In other words, if something is dead in your life, start thanking God that He has brought it back to life. If you don’t see the thing that you’re hoping for in your life, start thanking God that He is going to bring whatever it is into existence.

The cripple at the temple gate in Acts 3 was begging, saying “Please,” everyday and it got Him nowhere. Each day he begged and each day he was still stuck in the same place he was always in. It wasn’t until he started to praise, say “Thank You,” that he entered into the temple (See Acts 3:8). Some of you have been begging God and saying “Please” your whole life and you are still stuck in the same place. Never seeing any change, never walking through the gate, and never receiving your breakthrough. You need to start thanking God and lifting up a shout of praise, so that those walls in your life will come crashing down, so that you will be set free from the chains that are holding you back, in order that you might walk, jump, and run through the doors, gates, and opportunities that God has set before you in your life.

The power of your tomorrow is in the seeds of “Thank You” and praise you sow today. So quit begging and start thanking God today.

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