Written by Cathy Schrock - Heartland Church - Fort Wayne, IN
Artist: Karen Harvey
Have you ever read Scripture, perhaps a familiar passage, and suddenly the Holy Spirit enlightens you to something that was hidden before? In reading through Jesus’ prayer for the believers in John 17, I was astonished at verse 19: “For their sake I sanctify myself [to do your will], so that they also may be sanctified [set apart, dedicated, made holy] in [Your] truth” (Amplified Bible). In all my years of reading the Bible, I never let that part sink in. Part of God’s plan was for Jesus to surrender Himself wholly through obedience because He knew that all believers would be IN HIM, and His holiness would become ours.
So often I find myself striving, fighting, attempting to overcome this sin or that sin on my own. “If I can just stop ________, I’ll be a better Christian, and God will be pleased with me.” And yet this thought is the exact opposite of what we need to do. We need to rest in the work Jesus has already done, surrender to Him, and not strive to accomplish that work for ourselves.
“It is finished.” I have come to realize that my work, my striving to please God by my own wits or power, is what is finished. Jesus did it all on the cross once and for all, and now I cease my striving and rest by accepting His work for me. Now I only need to count myself dead to sin and alive to God and choose to live with Him daily. Watchman Nee, in his book entitled “The Normal Christian Life,” (1977, Tyndale House Publishers) put it this way:
“Man’s way is to try to suppress sin by seeking to overcome it; God’s way is to remove the sinner. For years, maybe, you have tried fruitlessly to exercise control over yourself, and perhaps this is still your experience; but when once you see the truth you will recognize that you are indeed powerless to do anything, but that in setting YOU aside altogether God has done it all. Such a discovery brings human striving and self-effort to an end. The normal Christian life must begin with a very definite “knowing,” an opening of the eyes of the heart to see what we have in Christ. You have died! You are done with! The self you loathe is on the cross in Christ. And ‘he that is dead is free from sin’ (Romans 6:7, AV).” (pg. 46, 47)
“Our old sinful selves were crucified with Christ so that sin might lose its power in our lives. We are no longer slaves to sin. So you should consider yourselves dead to sin and able to live for the glory of God through Christ Jesus” (Romans 6:6, 11, NLT).
PRAY: Father, what a relief it is to know that You have done it all for us! Show us how to rest in Christ’s work lest we begin striving on our own.
LISTEN: “Jesus Paid It All” by Kim Walker-Smith https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ymkl0t0FOcw
Written by Fr. Dale Minor - Reclaim Ministry
“You are the light of the world, A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.” (Mt. 5:14-16)
This well known and often quoted scripture testifies to the necessity of light in our lives and to our responsibility to demonstrate the light and life of Christ in an often very dark world. Indeed, there are ample reasons for us to consider the world today and believe that it is in a state of decline, -- of moral and spiritual decline. And if this be true, then our lights are becoming dimmer.
It is very easy for us to look around, identify failures, examine statistics, turn away from the ugliness, decry the depravity, and become depressed at the state of our world and ask, “What is the solution; will we ever be able to turn it around?” But what did Jesus say? “You are the light of the world.” He also commanded, “Let your light shine before men!” This is a call to action. It is a call for us to assure that the light He has called us to be, not only is lit, but that it shine brightly for all to see. It means, that Christians need to stand up, be identified as Christians, and demonstrate how brightly a Christian world can shine.
Jesus also said, “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.” (John 8:12) When Jesus was challenged by the Pharisees for; “bearing witness of yourself, therefore your witness is not true,” (vs. 13) Jesus countered by testifying that he does not bear witness only of Himself, but also carries the authority and the testimony of His Father. And when pressed further by his accusers who asked, “Where is your Father?” Jesus once again turned their argument back on them; “You know neither Me nor My Father: If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also.” (vs. 19)
Here Jesus has identified the problem. The people living in darkness do so because they know neither the Father nor the Son. And as the Gospels also testify, they won’t be able to know them unless the Holy Spirit reveals them. “No one can come to Me unless the Father draws him;” (John 6:44) and “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” (Acts 1:8)
You have received the gift of the Holy Spirit. He resides in you to empower you to shine with the light of Christ. In this Holy Spirit Power, Christ lives in You and you in Him, and there is no power on earth sufficient to diminish your light; not when you go in the name of Jesus and in the power of the Spirit.
So, go; let your light so shine before men that you bring a little brightness to a darkening world and in the process demonstrate the truth that Jesus our Lord, is “the light and the life of the world.”
Go without fear, but with the certainty that your Christ-light is sufficient to snuff out the darkness which is trying to diminish your world.
Written by Teresa Wade - Heartland Church - Fort Wayne, IN
“There is no fear in love (dread does not exist). But perfect (complete, full-grown) love drives out fear, because fear involves (the expectation of divine) punishment, so the one who is afraid (of God’s Judgment) is not perfected in love (has not grown into a sufficient understanding of God’s love) (I John 4:18 AMP).
Today of all days, why was there a roadblock ahead with a detour sign? How did I go from a Sunday afternoon walk to speeding down the highway with my husband beside me as he described his symptoms of a heart attack? I was trying to stay calm, but my mind raced.
Going as fast as I dared down that winding country road, I realized this was the precise road the Lord showed me in my mind’s eye that morning in worship. Somehow in the previous week, I realized obedience equals love to my Father in heaven. That Sunday morning when the congregation began to sing, “I love you, Lord,” it was difficult for me to sing those words, realizing they meant, “I will obey you, Lord.” Earlier that week, I had written on my chalkboard, “My obedience is pertinent to the Lord.”
I got on my face telling my Father I wanted to be obedient to Him and needed His help. At this point, He showed me a road that felt scary to me--the same one I was now driving on. My first thought was, “No! Please don’t take my husband from me.” I argued with the Lord about all the reasons I needed my husband. Each argument was met with reminders of how He had walked me through other frightening situations. Finally, I let go, trusting my Father in heaven to do what was best for us. He then showed me a picture of the Last Supper, but instead of John leaning on Christ’s chest, I was. I had an immediate awareness that if I would just lean into Jesus, my husband and I both would be all right.
My husband was admitted to the hospital, and as the time progressed, even waiting for a bed in the heart unit didn’t upset me. We actually dared to enjoy our time together, joking about room service and the massages my husband received. We finally got into the cardiac unit, and they found his left anterior descending artery was 95% blocked. With amazement, the doctor told us there was absolutely no damage to his heart. By midweek, we were home, and he was back to work feeling better than he had for years.
It was no mistake the Lord wrote this preface into our lives before 2020’s pandemic, riots, and election. It started a process where I learned to lean into Him during all the scary things that went on that year.
Ask yourself these questions:
Is there something I am afraid to let go of?
Is there an area where I need to lean into Jesus?
Then ask the Holy Spirit what He would like to replace these fears with. Lastly, if these fears dare cross your mind, strike back with the words the Holy Spirit has given you! We become victorious as we renew our minds like this.
Written by Cameron Miller - Heartland Church - Fort Wayne, IN
“And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son.” (John 14:13 NIV)
“You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.” (Exodus 20:7 NIV)
We were house hunting in a frantic market where a house that went up for sale in the morning could be sold by noon. My wife and I had found an amazing house, right where we wanted to live, and the documents to place the offer were awaiting my electronic signature. Unfortunately, I was at a wilderness camp, with 6% battery life left on my phone and minimal reception. There was no way I’d be able to sign my name.
Thankfully, I had an ally in this: my wife. She took my name when we got married, and so I had no problem with her signing all those documents in my stead. She managed to get hold of me through someone else’s phone. and I gave her the okay to use my name.
What struck me soon afterward is how God works similarly with us. We are allowed to use His name to confront the challenges around us. When we face obstacles we can’t overcome in our own strength, then we get to claim the power of El Shaddai, God Almighty. When we are lost and don’t know where to go, we can claim the guiding light of Jehovah Nissi, the Lord our Banner. When sickness and infirmity threaten to overwhelm us, we can claim restoration from Jehovah Rophe, the Lord Who Heals. And in all situations, we can call on the authority, power, and majesty of Jesus, our Lord and Savior.
And yet, there are limits. If a submarine captain is not permitted to launch a nuclear missile attack without the President’s say-so, how much more carefully guarded is the power of the Name Above All Names? We are not permitted to use that name to glorify ourselves or to support our sinful desires. We may not claim it to bypass discipline God has set before us, nor to harm or control those whom God loves, nor for any purpose our human understanding sees as good, but which is not aligned with the infinitely wise purposes of God. There are limits in how we are permitted to use the name of God, not because it isn’t powerful enough to overcome certain obstacles, but because it is too powerful for us to use solely at our whim.
Prayer: Lord, thank You for the use of Your glorious name. Because I can sign Your name to anything that challenges Your will for me, there is nothing that we cannot accomplish together. Help me to know Your Name better, so I can understand the power that is available to me. And keep me from magnifying my own human sinfulness by trying to apply Your holy name to it. I pray this all in Jesus’ name.
Written by and Photo Credit: Janet Mueller - Heartland Church - Fort Wayne, IN
It was a dark time during the Christmas season after my second son was born 30 years ago. I was sleep deprived, in pain, and probably suffering from postpartum depression. There was a popular Christian song at that time called, “You’ll See a Man,” sung by the group, Harvest. Over and over, the words to the chorus rang through my tired head.
You’ll see a man
Acquainted with your sorrows
You’ll see His eyes
Sharing in your tears.
You’ll see His arms
Never lost their hold on you.
Lift your eyes, you’ll see the Lord
I wondered, “Why did the songwriter pen it that way — you’ll see a MAN?” I concluded he was emphasizing the humanity of Jesus so we would know He can and does relate to us on all levels. I needed to hear that and wanted to know more so I broke open my Bible and began to study for myself the humanity of Jesus. What I discovered stunned me and remains with me to this day. There are so many rich aspects to Jesus’ humanity; let me share just a couple of the things I learned.
Jesus identified with us in our humanity by calling Himself the Son of Man. In the gospels, that title was used 81 times, but only by Jesus, and only referring to Himself. He used that phrase when talking about His work, His suffering, His future glorification, and His second coming. In all these things, He identified as a human being. That is why “He is not ashamed or embarrassed to introduce us as his brothers and sisters!” (Hebrews 2:11 TPT). He is one of us.
Especially since I had just given birth, it was interesting for me to discover that a baby will only possess the mitochondria inherited from the woman’s egg at conception. In other words, the genetic pathway of mitochondrial DNA can only be traced through the woman and not through the man, a well-known fact in forensic science. Like all humans born, Jesus inherited the mitochondrial DNA of his mother. This explains how Jesus was truly a human; He wasn’t just identifying as human in a notional way. He had inherited all the DNA of his mother, making him a human being. 100% human and 100% God.
When we are in physical or emotional pain, extreme exhaustion, or at our wits’ end and tempted to despair, it helps to know that Jesus was completely human; and therefore, He is sympathetic and compassionate towards us. “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tested in every way as we are, yet without sin” (Hebrews 4:15 HCSB).
Jesus is fully God and fully man, united in one person forever! He didn’t become a man for just 33 years and then go back to the way things were before His incarnation. Although He was always God, He took on a body permanently and forever became the God-Man when He was conceived in Mary’s womb. However, since His resurrection, He has a glorified body, like ours will be someday, but it’s a body nonetheless. Even right now, as you are reading this, He is at the right hand of the Father, as the God-Man, interceding for you. When this understanding broke upon me, I cried out, “Now that’s a God I can love!”
Thirty years have passed since that long, cold winter with a newborn and a toddler and a heart that implored, “God, do you see me?” But the revelation of the permanent, remarkable change that Jesus undertook for us in His incarnation remains with me forever.
Scripture for Meditation: “This is why he had to be a Man and take hold of our humanity in every way. He made us his brothers and sisters and became our merciful and faithful King-Priest* before God; as the One who removed our sins to make us one with him. He suffered and endured every test and temptation, so that he can help us every time we pass through the ordeals of life” (Hebrews 2:17,18 TPT).
* The Aramaic can be translated “so that he would be the nurturing Lord of the king-priests.”