A Math Test and a Busted Hand

Sometimes I forget. I forget who is really in control and who has His hand in every situation in my life. One of those examples was yesterday after I blanked on my math test. Anger that I haven’t had in a long time, just came out in a fury. I got into my car after seemingly blowing my math test and took my right fist and punched into the inside roof of my car. How could God have let me come all this way to fail in the end? I thought to myself. Angrier and angrier I got. I studied for days for this test, and I knew it just an hour before. I had never blanked on anything in my life. I thought to myself, God knew how crucial this test was. I drove to the downtown library and parked. Once again I smashed my fist into the roof, thinking that getting angry would fix all that had happened. But it didn’t. It just left me with a bloody scar the next morning.

As I woke up though, I was determined that this day was a new day and that I couldn’t change what happened yesterday, that I could only focus on today. And then as I was reading God’s word in Psalms, a verse just slapped me right in the face.

Psalm 37: 23-24 says, “A man’s steps are established by the Lord, and He takes pleasure in his way. Thought he fails, he will not be overwhelmed, because the Lord holds his hand.”

My math test in the big scheme of things didn’t matter. The only thing that mattered was that God was still in control and He was making me well aware of that. That God could get me into a school without amazing grades, because of his almighty power and grace. That I should still work hard, but that He had the last say in what was final or set in stone.

So as I came to school today I was reminded of God’s sovereignty. And as I went to check my math grade, low and behold, I got an 85. I’m not sure how I got that grade but I know one thing for sure, that God was in control. And as I look at my scarred hand today I think how foolish I really was. That one grade should not have sent me off the cliff, because I knew God had His hand on me and that no matter where I went or what I did, He would be there, with His right hand holding on to me.

And now for awhile I will have this reminder of my anger and questioning God and Him not flinching because He knew what He was doing. He has established my steps and He is taking me down the road He wants me to go, and its been a long, hard, road with lots of questions and fewer answers but He’s taking me there, wherever it is, He is taking me there.

<sup class="footnote" value="[h]”> 

Tears of Thanksgiving

Hey ya’ll sorry it has been so long writing a new post. School has been crazy. But even though I’m still busy for school I just wanted to take some time and remember this Thanksgiving.

For awhile in my life, every Thanksgiving, I could never find things to be thankful for. I had no direction in my life and I was confused. But looking back over my life I had plenty of things to be faithful for: Parents that loved me and brought me up in the knowledge of the Lord, people that prayed for my soul for tons of hours, and so much more than I could even think. So now almost a year removed from my confusion, bondage and depression I give thanks. This Thanksgiving I had tons to give thanks for. And here I will try to list what I’ve been thankful for over the last year.

I’m thankful for:
-Jesus Christ dying on the cross for my sins
-New life in Christ
-Christ reaching into my broken confused life and giving me His life
-My family’s love throughout the whole process
-Restoration among my family
-Healing: Physically, Mentally, Spiritually.
-Being apart of Year Team, and the family that I gained from it.
-God’s confirmation in my life
-Hope and Purpose
-Joy and Peace
-Calmness of Spirit that only comes from Jesus Christ
-Friends, real friends
-Brothers and Sisters in Christ that love me
-God’s endless love
-God’s grace
-Healing in my knees and back
-I’m beloved by God
-God chose me to be His minister
-God allows me show His love to others

I’m so blessed to be apart of God’s family, to be His beloved. To be loved with unending love. I’m so blessed to have been pulled out of my grave, and given new life. I finally understood this year what Thanksgiving was all about. Not the turkey or the cranberry sauce. Its about remembering God’s endless grace that He pours out onto my life, every minute of everyday. That Thanksgiving is just one day, but every day is an endless reminder of how much He has done in my life, and I thank Him everyday.

Hope ya’ll all had a blessed Thanksgiving and may God bless you and keep you this Christmas, for us all to remember the greatest gift of all, His son.
-Joseph

Deepness Of His Love

Today I woke up and my reading for the day was Mark Chapter 15, the chapter in which Jesus was crucified. But the last part of this chapter really got to me.

16 Then the soldiers led Him away into the courtyard (that is, headquarters) and called the whole company together. 17 They dressed Him in a purple robe, twisted together a crown of thorns, and put it on Him. 18 And they began to salute Him, “Hail, King of the Jews!” 19 They kept hitting Him on the head with a reed and spitting on Him. Getting down on their knees, they were paying Him homage. 20 When they had mocked Him, they stripped Him of the purple robe, put His clothes on Him, and led Him out to crucify Him. 21 They forced a man coming in from the country, who was passing by, to carry Jesus’ cross. He was Simon, a Cyrenian, the father of Alexander and Rufus. 22 And they brought Jesus to the place called Golgotha (which means Skull Place). 23 They tried to give Him wine mixed with myrrh, but He did not take it. 24 Then they crucified Him and divided His clothes, casting lots for them to decide what each would get. 25 Now it was nine in the morning[c] when they crucified Him. 26 The inscription of the charge written against Him was:
THE KING OF THE JEWS.

27 They crucified two criminals[d] with Him, one on His right and one on His left. [28 So the Scripture was fulfilled that says: And He was counted among outlaws.][e][f] 29 Those who passed by were yelling insults at[g] Him, shaking their heads, and saying, “Ha! The One who would demolish the sanctuary and build it in three days, 30 save Yourself by coming down from the cross!” 31 In the same way, the chief priests with the scribes were mocking Him to one another and saying, “He saved others; He cannot save Himself! 32 Let the Messiah, the King of Israel, come down now from the cross, so that we may see and believe.” Even those who were crucified with Him were taunting Him. 33 When it was noon,[h] darkness came over the whole land[i] until three in the afternoon.[j] 34 And at three[k] Jesus cried out with a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lemá[l] sabachtháni?” which is translated, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?”[m] 35 When some of those standing there heard this, they said, “Look, He’s calling for Elijah!” 36 Someone ran and filled a sponge with sour wine, fixed it on a reed, offered Him a drink, and said, “Let’s see if Elijah comes to take Him down!”37 But Jesus let out a loud cry and breathed His last. 38 Then the curtain of the sanctuary[n] was split in two from top to bottom. 39 When the centurion, who was standing opposite Him, saw the way He[o] breathed His last, he said, “This man really was God’s Son!”[p] (Mark 15:16-37, Holman Christian Standard Bible, Biblegateway.com).
Today as I was reading this the Holy Spirit gave me insight into a little bit of Jesus’s pain and suffering he felt that day. And as the Holy Spirit does often he gives me His emotions. In my mind I was there with Jesus watching from a distance as I saw them dress Him in a purple robe and hit him and spit on Him, and shout insults at Him. I watched as they nailed the nails into His hands and put the sign above Him that said, “King of the Jews.” He was mocked by soldiers; He was mocked by the chief priests. He could have stopped it, but He didn’t. He could have sent down angels or said the words and everyone there could have dropped dead in front of Him. But He didn’t. He stayed up there; He took every insult and every crushing blow, so that His death and suffering could cover our sins. God even turned His back on His son because He could not even look at Him, with all of our sin covering Him. Jesus knows what total rejection is. He received it from His Father while He was on the cross dying for you and for me. He knows what its like not to fit in; the Pharisees hated Him and called Him and blasphemer. Then those same people mocked Him as He was on the cross, saying why can’t he save Himself, He saved others. Jesus knew how important this was though, that day He would set us free from our sins and satan’s grip forever. We would no longer be slaves, but friends and servants of Christ. And at the moment Jesus died, the curtains were split in two, making it possible for all to enter the Holy of Holies and have a personal relationship with God that day because of Jesus’s sacrifice. 
Today I was given just a glimpse of how deep the Father’s love is. It goes farther than pain or hurt. It is deeper than the deepest oceans, wider than the widest skies, greater than a parent’s love for their child. Remember today how much He has done for us. It is the greatest gift that we have ever received. We don’t deserve it; we did nothing to earn it. He just gave it to us because of His love. His love that is everlasting and infinite. You can know that love today. You can experience His forgiveness of your sins. You can be made right with God and He can be Lord of your life if you only ask Him too. There is nothing you can do to earn His love; we can never do enough good works to be right with God. God calls our good works “filthy rags” to Him. The only thing that can save us is Jesus Christ and you can have that personal relationship with Him today and He can set you free from anything you are dealing with. Ask Him to forgive you of your sins and that you want to have a personal relationship with Him. He will show you the power of prayer and the power of His word. He will pull you from the deepest sins and set you on top of His Mountain and then you also will proclaim His good news because you will know what He has done for you. I will leave you just with this one song that sums up how much Jesus really did for you on the cross.

How deep the Father’s love for us,
How vast beyond all measure
That He should give His only Son
To make a wretch His treasure

How great the pain of searing loss,
The Father turns His face away
As wounds which mar the chosen One,
Bring many sons to glory

Behold the Man upon a cross,
My sin upon His shoulders
Ashamed I hear my mocking voice,
Call out among the scoffers

It was my sin that left Him there
Until it was accomplished
His dying breath has brought me life
I know that it is finished

I will not boast in anything
No gifts, no power, no wisdom
But I will boast in Jesus Christ
His death and resurrection

Why should I gain from His reward?
I cannot give an answer
But this I know with all my heart
His wounds have paid my ransom
(REPEAT)

Lyrics by Stuart Townsend

Armoring Up One Day at a Time

Over the last week, I’ve been taking my relationship with the Lord, well, one day at a time. Before then for two weeks I struggled, really really bad. Temptations popped up in my head almost minutely, they popped up on the television secondly. It was really, really hard. But I realized eventually why I was struggling so bad. It was because I didn’t have on the full armor of God. Over those two weeks I had some of His armor on of but I didn’t have all of it on, and without every piece I was vulnerable. I was exposed in many areas of my life because I didn’t have pieces of it on. Also I realized that I was trying to look weeks down the line, but that God only wanted me to focus on one day at a time. 

10 Finally, be strengthened by the Lord and by His vast strength.<sup class="crossreference" style="vertical-align: top;" value="(M)”> 11 Put on<sup class="crossreference" style="vertical-align: top;" value="(N)”> the full armor<sup class="crossreference" style="vertical-align: top;" value="(O)”> of God so that you can stand against the tactics<sup class="footnote" style="vertical-align: top;" value="[g]”>[g] of the Devil. 12 For our battle is not against flesh<sup class="crossreference" style="vertical-align: top;" value="(P)”> and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities,<sup class="crossreference" style="vertical-align: top;" value="(Q)”> against the world powers of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil<sup class="crossreference" style="vertical-align: top;" value="(R)”> in the heavens.<sup class="crossreference" style="vertical-align: top;" value="(S)”> 13 This is why you must take up the full armor<sup class="crossreference" style="vertical-align: top;" value="(T)”> of God, so that you may be able to resist<sup class="crossreference" style="vertical-align: top;" value="(U)”> in the evil day, and having prepared everything, to take your stand. 14 Stand,<sup class="crossreference" style="vertical-align: top;" value="(V)”> therefore,
with truth<sup class="crossreference" style="vertical-align: top;" value="(W)”> like a belt around your waist,
righteousness<sup class="crossreference" style="vertical-align: top;" value="(X)”> like armor on your chest,<sup class="crossreference" style="vertical-align: top;" value="(Y)”>
15 and your feet sandaled with readiness
for the gospel of peace.<sup class="footnote" style="vertical-align: top;" value="[h]”>[h]
16 In every situation take the shield<sup class="crossreference" style="vertical-align: top;" value="(Z)”> of faith,<sup class="crossreference" style="vertical-align: top;" value="(AA)”>
and with it you will be able to extinguish
all the flaming arrows of the evil one.<sup class="crossreference" style="vertical-align: top;" value="(AB)”>
17 Take the helmet<sup class="crossreference" style="vertical-align: top;" value="(AC)”> of salvation,
and the sword<sup class="crossreference" style="vertical-align: top;" value="(AD)”> of the Spirit,<sup class="crossreference" style="vertical-align: top;" value="(AE)”>
which is God’s word. (Ephesians 6:10-17)


In Ephesians 6, Paul is speaking from prison to the churches, encouraging them to be strengthened by the power and strength of the Lord. That they needed to put on the full armor of the Lord, so that they could stand against the schemes of the devil. Because our battle is not against flesh and blood, but against rulers and powers of darkness. Paul was letting the church know that they were in a war, a war that God had already won. And in Ephesian 6:14-17, Paul goes through the list of things we need to arm ourselves with to battle these powers of darkness. 

We are to put a belt of truth around our waist. Without honesty in our walk with the Lord, we will have no support as we walk through our relationship with Christ. We have to be honest about what we are struggling with not only with God but with others so that we can get repentance and grow stronger with the Lord. Next we have to put His righteousness on our chest. It protects us from the attacks of the enemy. Then we need the feet of readiness. We have to be ready to give an answer to why we believe what we believe at any time. We have to be ready to go wherever God tells us to go, to share His good news with everyone He tells us to. We also need the shield of faith to protect us from doubts the enemy throws at us, and lies that he tries to throw at us. And finally we need the helmet of salvation which is the head and heart knowledge that we know what He has done for us, and the sword of the Spirit, God’s Word. God’s word I believe is the most important of all. It brings us truth, the most important truth we can receive, God’s truth. It arms us and allows us to go on the offensive against the devil, and against false prophets.  It gives us truths that we can battle the devil’s lies and shoot his arrows back at him. 

But the truth is we need all the armor of the Lord everyday. We need every part of His armor because without it we are uneven, and we are unbalanced. That’s what a relationship with Christ is all about, balance. Letting God into every area of our life: physically, mentally, spiritually and Him balancing it for us. He puts His armor around us, and gives us complete protection. It doesn’t mean we still won’t mess up, and it doesn’t mean we will always feel His presence, but it does mean that He will always be there for us, and that He will never fail us. He will give us a hope and a purpose and we will move more and more into that purpose the more we put on His armor everyday. 

Finally He knows the plan He has for us. He knows when He will put that plan into motion in our lives. All we need to do is trust Him to know what He’s doing. He’s the God of the universe, He knows what He’s doing. But even knowing that its still hard to trust. But its all about taking our relationship with the Lord one day at a time. Not looking ten years or even one year down the line. Focusing on that one day that He has gifted us with. 24 hours of focusing on the Lord, and His plan that He has for us for that day. His purpose for that day is different from any other day. And as we focus on that day, you look back and a week is gone, and then two, and then months start to fly by and you see God moving you into His purpose in your life faster than you ever could think. That’s how the last 10 months have gone. Growing in leaps and bounds, focusing on Him one day at a time. And in the last 8 months just by focusing daily on Him, He has changed me more than I could ever imagine. And He will change you as you focus on Him one day at a time. 


Trusting Completely

Trust. It comes with time, it comes by letting someone or something into your life, into the deepest parts of your life. Trust is hard. But complete trust is completely different. Last January I gave my life to Jesus Christ and put my trust in Him. But now 10 months later He is teaching me to just let go completely, to give Him everything. To give Him the small stuff, as well as the really hard things. Things that I just want control over like school and what I do with my days. Things that I wouldn’t even think He wanted control of.

As I’ve been reading the book of Mark recently there have been so many stories of people trusting. People trusting in a man named Jesus for healing and restoration. They had no clue that they would be healed but they had faith, they trusted. They pulled their way through crowds to touch His robe, they were lowered through roofs by friends, they begged Him to have mercy as He passed by. And you know what? Jesus saw their faith, He heard their cries, and He healed them because of their faith. But even these stories personally have nothing on the next story. Mark 12 is where we begin this story. 


Sitting<sup class="crossreference" style="font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(CF)”> across from the temple treasury,<sup class="crossreference" style="font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(CG)”> He watched how the crowd dropped money into the treasury. Many rich<sup class="crossreference" style="font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(CH)”> people were putting in large sums. 42 And a poor<sup class="crossreference" style="font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(CI)”> widow came and dropped in two tiny coins worth very little.<sup class="footnote" style="font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="[u]”>[u43 Summoning His disciples,<sup class="crossreference" style="font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(CJ)”> He said to them, “I assure you:<sup class="crossreference" style="font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(CK)”> This poor widow has put in more than all those giving to the temple treasury.<sup class="crossreference" style="font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(CL)”> 44 For they all gave out of their surplus,<sup class="crossreference" style="font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(CM)”> but she out of her poverty <sup class="crossreference" style="font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(CN)”>has put in everything she possessed<sup class="crossreference" style="font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(CO)”>—all she had to live on.” (Mark 12:42-44)


So all these people were putting in their money into the offering, very large amounts. And this widow comes along. She could have been angry or bitter with God for making her a widow, but she drops her two coins into the pot and Jesus sees just her all out trust. “I assure you: This poor widow has put in more than all those giving to the temple treasury.” She had given everything she had. She put her full trust and believed that even though she had absolutely nothing that God would still take care of her. That is trust, that is what complete trust looks like.


That is my prayer tonight that I would have that trust of Him. That no matter whether I’m going through a really hard time or a great victory, that I would trust Him through everything I go through in my life. That I would believe that He is sovereign and that He knows the next step that He’s taking me to. Because He does know what that next step is, and He does know what it will take for me to get there. So that is my prayer tonight that I would have trust to trust Him in the big, small, important, non important decisions in my life. I open up my hands tonight Lord God and begin to move into this next phase of trusting you. I don’t focus on my weaknesses and mess ups, I focus on your power and love. Trust God with your life. You will never regret it. You can trust Him with your life, He will never fail you!

Have a blessed night,
Joseph



Mercy-Turning The Page

Today was my ten month anniversary of being a follower of Christ, and today as I was editing my blog I accidentally deleted it. I was very upset because of losing my blog but then as I thought later, this happened for a reason. Just like everything in my life happened for a reason, this blog being deleted happened for a reason. My old blog, Hope and Purpose, had signified my new life in Christ being brought from such a dark place last January and learning who God really was for the first time in my life. Now though, ten months later, I know who He is. I have seen his power first hand with restoration with my family, being brought from addictions, and lies of the devil. And I believe the deleting of the blog symbolized God turning that page in my life. He had confirmed me, He had anointed me and now it was time for me to walk in His faith and trust Him completely. For me to stop having doubts and struggling with old sins because Jesus had commanded me out of that sin.

Recently I have been reading some really great stories in Mark. Stories of people trusting and knowing Jesus could heal them. A woman who had bleeding problems pushed her way through the crowd, believing “If I can just touch His robes, I will be made well.” (Mark 5:28). Another story is about a man who’s kid has been demon possessed from birth in Mark 9. And finally the story that I read today. It starts in Mark 10. 

“They came to Jericho. And as He was leaving Jericho with His disciples and a large crowd, Bartimaeus (the son of Timaeus), a blind beggar, was sitting by the road. 47 When he heard that it was Jesus the Nazarene, he began to cry out, “Son of David, Jesus, have mercy on me!” 48 Many people told him to keep quiet, but he was crying out all the more, “Have mercy on me, Son of David!”

49 Jesus stopped and said, “Call him.”

So they called the blind man and said to him, “Have courage! Get up; He’s calling for you.” 50 He threw off his coat, jumped up, and came to Jesus.

51 Then Jesus answered him, “What do you want Me to do for you?”

“Rabbouni,”[m] the blind man told Him, “I want to see!”

52 “Go your way,” Jesus told him. “Your faith has healed you.” Immediately he could see and began to follow Him on the road.” (Mark 10:47-52)

Let’s break this down. So there is a man who is a blind, beggar, sitting on the side of the road, and Jesus and His disciples come walking by. Now by this time Jesus was a big name, very popular. This man probably knew of the miracles Jesus had performed. This blind man cries starts to cry out, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me,” over and over again, very loudly. He was yelling so loudly that people told him to be quiet but he continued to cry out to Jesus for mercy. Jesus finally stops and calls the man to him. Then Jesus inquires what he wants from Him, and the man says he wants to see. Then Jesus just tells him to go on his way, that his faith has healed him but unlike the other two stories, this man begins to follow Jesus on the road. He was so thankful for the mercy Jesus had shown to him that he left everything and followed Jesus. 

I thought it was so neat reading this story on the day of my ten month anniversary of being a follower of Christ. That ten months ago I had been spiritually blind and on January 6th, 2012 I cried out to Jesus for mercy, and He heard and answered my cry. And I was blown away. Blown away by God’s grace and mercy, that I didn’t deserve. Blown away that He wanted something to do with such a sinful, wretched person such as me. And His showing of mercy led me to follow Him and surrender everything to him and just like the blind beggar I’ve followed Him down that road. I didn’t know where the road lead to or how long the road was, but I followed Him down it. And He took me far, far away from my old self, from the lies of the devil and the blindness of my eyes. He called me into His ministry and into His love, grace, mercy and power. And He’s allowed me to show other his mercy and grace that He has for them. I’m leaving the past completely behind today, I will no longer even entertain those thoughts. I’m focusing on Jesus and continuing to follow Him down the road He is taking me.