Our Nature in Christ: Healed

“But he [Jesus] was pierced for our transgressions,
    he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was on him,
    and by his stripes we are healed,” (Isaiah 53:5, New International Version)

(For starters, let me begin by saying that this first paragraph is a little [very] graphic and made me squirm)

“These ‘stripes’ (or wounds) were administered by whipping the bare backs of prisoners whose hands and feet were bound, rendering them helpless. The phrase ‘by His stripes we are healed’ refers to the punishment Jesus Christ suffered—floggings and beatings with fists. Whips made of braided leather with pottery shards and sharp stones affixed to the ends tore the flesh open with each whip. When we picture this terrible, inhumane form of physical punishment we recoil in horror. Yet the physical pain and agony were not all Jesus suffered. He also had to undergo the mental anguish brought on by the wrath of His Father, who punished Him for the sinfulness of mankind—sin carried out in spite of God’s repeated warnings, sin that Jesus willingly took upon Himself.” (GotQuestions.com)

Can I be honest? I am a very visual person so picturing Jesus in these beatings definitely made me uneasy. However, it also made me think of His love for me. I love the author’s point that Jesus had to “undergo the mental anguish brought on by the wrath of His Father.” The first time that I read that, I literally had no idea what that meant.  I was praying and trying to figure out how God measured sin in physicality? Then, the Holy Spirit revealed that He took on the fullness of shame, guilt, and condemnation.

Let’s be real for a second here. The shame, guilt, and condemnation from disobeying God for myself can be bad, and has even proven to be crippling from time to time in my life. In the past, I’ve had panic attacks from being so overwhelmed. I cannot even BEGIN to imagine what it is like to take on the shame, guilt, and condemnation of EVERY, SINGLE person in the name of love.

Just take a moment to take that in.

______________

“Some have taken this [verse] to mean that every believer has the right – the promise – to perfect health right now, and if there is any lack of health, it is simply because this promise has not been claimed in faith. In this thinking, great stress is laid upon the past tense of this phrase – by His stripes we are healed. We can say that God’s promise is perfect, total, complete healing, but we must also say that is is not promised to every believer right now, just as the totality of salvation isn’t promised right now. The Bible says that we are saved (Ephesians 2:8), we are being saved (1 Corinthians 1:18), and we will be saved (1 Corinthians 3:15). We have been healed, we are being healed, and we will one day be healed. God’s ultimate healing is called ‘resurrection,’ and it is a glorious promise to every believer. Every ‘patch-up’ healing in this present age simply anticipates the ultimate healing that will come.

What Christians must not do is foolishly ‘claim’ to be healed, despite ‘mere symptoms’ that say otherwise, and believe they are standing on the promise of Isaiah 53:5. What Christians must do is pray boldly and trust God’s goodness and mercy in granting gifts of healing now, even before the ultimate healing of resurrection” (Guzik).

I LOVE this latter section!!! Haha! I have struggled with everything that the last two paragraphs refer to. Today, I even asked Holy Spirit, “Uhhh, are we sure that Christians can’t claim healing despite symptoms? I think it’s faith!” But I love the rest of this article and this quote from Charles Spurgeon, “‘With his stripes we are healed.’ Will you notice that fact? The healing of a sinner does not lie in himself, nor in what he is, nor in what he feels, nor in what he does, nor in what he vows, nor in what he promises. It is not in himself at all; but there, at Gabbatha, where the pavement is stained with the blood of the Son of God, and there, at Golgotha, where the place of a skull beholds the agonies of Christ. It is in his stripes that the healing lies. I beseech thee, do not scourge thyself: ‘With his stripes we are healed’ (Spurgeon).”

I love the humility of this.

Resources
https://www.gotquestions.org/by-His-stripes-healed.html & https://www.blueletterbible.org/Comm/archives/guzik_david/StudyGuide_Isa/Isa_53.cfm

Our Nature in Christ Series

So, until this year, battling for my identity in Christ was really hard for me. A few years ago, a leader from a small group gave me a list of 90 items that refer to our nature in Christ. I never looked at it too much, but honestly, I’ve needed it. I tend to get caught up in my feelings, and while I read my Bible a lot, I don’t think I always take time to really digest the Word in relations to my identity.

So, I decided that I think that I want to deep dive into that list. Instead of simply saying each of these things out loud, I’m going to unpack them, and I want them to come alive as the Word promises, “For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires,” (Hebrew 4:12, New Living Translation).

So, join me! I’m sure most of it will be notes that I find from online resources, but it’ll still be awesome, and hopefully it’ll help you too!

Fear No Longer Lives Here

“For God has not (not even once) given you a spirit of fear, but of power, love, and of a sound mind,” -2 Timothy 1:7

Let’s see…

Can I be completely honest? Fear has always been a problem for me. Fear of the future, fear of the present, fear of the unknown, fear of the known, fear, fear, fear! Weirdly enough, though, the thing I’ve always feared the most is success, and actually believing that I am 100% who God says that I am. I’ve always loved seeing success stories of people who just did it! Fear, and all, these people just went after their dreams and succeeded! However, when it came to my own life, I’d always been too afraid to even sit and write out the vision! It was too big, too expensive, no one else around me has ever done that, etc! Every excuse there was, I’d mastered it!

A few mornings ago, I was looking for a song to listen to, and I found a Youtube video of Steffany Gretzinger’s, “Letting Go”. The video was of her telling the story behind how that song came out of a process of the Lord working fear out of her. She didn’t mind singing spontaneously in a live worship set, because it was spontaneous. However, when it came to writing songs, and having other people listen to them, she felt so uncomfortable. Like, what if the songs were really bad? What if she bared it all, and looked stupid? Outside of the fact that [in my mind] Steffany is my BFF, I really understood what she meant. For me, it has always been easy to know that God has given me gifts and talents, and those gifts are fine in corporate settings with other people, but when it came to something that He was instructing ONLY me to do, I didn’t know how to not be paralyzed by fear.

  • Fear of going all-in. What if I miss God? What if I don’t hear Him correctly?
  • I know the Lord keeps telling me to put words to paper, starting with a blog, but how am I supposed to do it? Everybody has a blog! Why is mine any different? Plus, I haven’t been very consistent. Am I sure?

This past weekend I was in a conference with one of my leaders praying over me. I felt her grip start to loosen on my hands towards the end of the prayer, and as we were nearing the “Amen” she said, “I keep hearing this, the Lord wants to break the spirit of fear off of you.” I knew in that moment that it all had to change. It wasn’t that I would never deal with fear again, but that I’d have an approach of victory when it came to fear. My stance would be different because this time I’d had the revelation of WHO I’d lean into when my flesh gave way, and WHO I was. I realized that paralyzing fear had attached itself to things that God had for me!

Priscilla Shirer says it best, “We know that God doesn’t give a spirit of fear. So, if we have a spirit of fear in any area of our life, we know it must have come from the enemy. If I’m afraid of something, (since I know that God doesn’t give a spirit of fear) it must mean that there is something embedded in that thing that the enemy does not want me to have. If he can distract us with the size and the depth of the thing, we won’t traverse it. He doesn’t want you getting past that Red Sea, friend! Because on the other side of that Red Sea is milk and honey. It’s the blessing of God, and the favor of God and the promises of God experienced in your life! On your current side of the Red Sea, you only get to hear about what God is doing. Satan doesn’t mind when you read a verse a day to keep the devil away, that’s not what he minds. What he minds are [believers] who actually go back home with a holy confidence, face the battle, not be afraid of it, and traverse it so that they move forward with God. He is going out of his way to stamp fear to anything that he knows on the other side of it is God’s best for you.”

Isn’t that SOOO good?!? When we realize that there is purpose and breakthrough on the other side of the thing that fear has attached itself to, it changes everything!

  • So, I won’t fear going all-in. With my heart is really set on God, even when I take a step that I’m not so sure about, He’s right there to make sure that I’m on the path. “Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.” (Isaiah 30:21).
  • I won’t fear writing, or whether or not my voice is significant! Steffany said it great, “I have a voice. I am a mouthpiece, and God has given me something to say.” We have no reason to fear. God has anointed us with gifts and talents to do the very things He’s calling us to. “May the favor of the Lord rest upon us; make our efforts successful. Yes! Make our efforts successful.” (Psalm 90: 17) Plus, it’s really not about us, and we never have to do it alone. In whatever capacity He’s called you, He’s using you to reach someone! That’s all that matter. In humility, let us put ourselves aside. In boldness, let us press forward into what God has called us. “That is why I remind you to fan into flame the gracious gift of God, [that inner fire—the special endowment] which is in you through the laying on of my hands [with those of the elders at your ordination]. For God did not give us a spirit of timidity or cowardice or fear, but [He has given us a spirit] of power and of love and of sound judgment and personal discipline [abilities that result in a calm, well-balanced mind and self-control].” (2 Timothy 1: 6-7)

So, my personal testimony is that I stopped running.

I leaned into the Holy Spirit.

I picked up my holy confidence from where I left it.

I turned around to face my fears.

He’s already promised us that we are more than conquerors, so I will traverse in whatever is thrown at me,

and I’ll continue to move forward with God.

Fear no longer lives here.

The “New” Christian

“Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive your inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ,”

(Colossians 3: 23-24, ESV).

“We live in a world now, that if you don’t post it on social media, it never happened.”

-Kendrick Epling.

– Adoption

– Blogging

– Mission Trips

– Hipster Stylings

– Human Trafficking

What do all of these things have in common? THEY HAVE TAKEN OVER MY SOCIAL MEDIA TIMELINES!! There seems to be a new “wave” of Christianity; a wave of salvation as easy as buying new hipster clothing, reposting videos and statuses of the latest prophetic word, and owning all of the latest worship albums.

We live in a society where it’s easier to base our salvation off of Christian cliches rather than the Bible. We live to tell 1,500 of our closest Facebook friends how much we appreciate our best friend, but it’s hard to live out that love in everyday life. Consecration and fasting are so foreign to Christians because it’s not plastered everywhere, and we’re surprised by revelations of the glory of God because honestly, our knowledge of it? Well, it comes from a reposted video from Bill Johnson or Lisa Bevere.

PLEASE do not get me wrong. Since being saved, I have learned these lessons the hard way, and I have gone through different phases in which I thought I was called to a million different things, but in the end, that’s all each ended up as: a phase. It’s easy to get entangled in the emotional porn of following Christians we don’t know through their stories of adoption, or Instagram missionaries, or even people we do know whose lives seem so much more interesting and exciting than our own, but the problem comes in when we envy their lives over our callings. Want to know a shocking revelation? Instagram/Facebook/Twitter shows the highlights that people WANT to share.

We long to be those people in the gripping videos of couples running through the airport to meet the new child whom they’ve just adopted, but we don’t think too much about the pain of being barren or all of the money, time, and resources that were lost on the children whose adoptions were never finalized.

We’re “Called to the nations!” “Send me, Jesus! I’ll do the World Race!” Yet, our mindset of missions expands to taking pictures with children in other countries, casting out demons, and posting pictures standing on mountaintops. We forget about very real illnesses that can happen within our bodies, or even that we’d have to sleep on the ground….in a tent… for three months. We can raise $20,000, and sign up to travel all of Asia for a year, sleeping outside, “suffering for the Gospel,” but we don’t even like camping in the states. How is it that we can be better Christians overseas than we can be in Atlanta or Alabama?

Want me to highlight one for myself? I feel like I’m called to help those in human trafficking, but recently Holy Spirit revealed to me that if I can sometimes barely deal with guests who get on my nerves at work, how will I show Biblical love to those girls I’d meet who are hurting, and their natural tendency is to backlash? I think because I would see the highlights of the A21 Campaign, I created this false mentality that every woman/girl I met would be waiting for me to swoop in with my Jesus cape, saving them from men and the life of human trafficking………nope! Not exactly!

It’s okay that we have a heart for so many different things. We’re meant to be compassionate and have a heart for the hurting, but because we walk out our salvation and base our callings more off of what we see on the internet than being led by Holy Spirit, our callings are based on what makes our Instagram pages look better.

“For they loved the glory that comes from man more than the glory that comes from God,” (John 12:43).

If I were called to everything I thought I was called to since I was saved at 17, I’d be the only part- time kindergarten teaching, part-time prosecuting, lip-syncing-worship-leader (sadly, that really was a desire LOL!), World Racing, evangelist interning, human trafficking advocating, skinny-jean/floppy-hat-wearing, adopting mama of 9, WORN OUT person that I know!

Yes, I do still believe I’m called to some of these things (maybe not all 9 kids), but I’ve learned that just because it looks great on other people doesn’t mean God has called me to it. It’s a learning and a prayerful process, and every day Holy Spirit continues to lead me, and reveal more and more of my purpose to me, and you know what I’ve realized? I’m not called to operate in every lane, and that is OKAY.

If we’re all going to ministry school, who’s reaching college campuses?

If we’re all called to be international full-time missionaries, who’s going to Washington DC?

Who is operating out of each of our lanes while we’re all operating out of the hipster mold of the “new” Christian?

What has God called YOU to do?

It’s time we KNOW the living God we post coffeehouse, Bible-journaling pictures with.

It’s time we put our phones down, pick our Bibles up, and truly walk out our salvation.

Morning Revelation.

Lately, I’ve been preparing for a lot of changes in my life. From getting ready to move to making sure that everything is taken care of for going back to school, I’ve been putting God on this timetable of when things have to be done, and when they’re not done in time, I struggle with trying to not rush the process along. Sometimes, I’m so bad about having one foot in faith and the other in self-reliance, but the truth is this: Apart from God, I can do nothing, and God is VERY good at being God.

This morning, I was reminded of a story in John 11, that my church speaks on a lot. It’s the story of Lazarus being raised from the dead. In John 11, Mary and Martha sent word to Jesus that Lazarus was sick, and Jesus’ reply was, “The sickness is not fatal. It will become an occasion to show God’s glory by glorifying God’s Son,” (John 11: 4, MSG). In case you forgot from the couple of sentences before, Lazarus died. (I felt like I needed to go and google the definition of “fatal” again because I KNOW Jesus just said Lazarus wouldn’t die!) Mourners had shown up and were visiting Mary and Martha, and Lazarus was in the tomb for FOUR days before Jesus showed up. Just think about that: They had a FUNERAL for someone Jesus said wouldn’t die before Jesus ever even showed up! 

After Jesus finally got there, there’s this beautiful depiction of the heart of Martha as she speaks to Jesus, and she says, Even now, I know that whatever you ask of God, God will give to you,” (John 11: 22, ESV). There is then an exchange of Jesus telling Martha that her brother will live, and she believed He was talking about after the resurrection, at the end of time, and Jesus explained that He is the Resurrection and the Life. Fast forward to them standing outside of the tomb, Martha’s a little apprehensive since her brother had been buried for four days, and Jesus, looking her in the eyes, says, “Didn’t I tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?” (John 11: 40, MSG). He speaks to Lazarus, and Lazarus is raised from the dead. 

Isn’t that SO GOOD?!!

 Even if your situation looks grim.

 Even if it’s dead. 

Even if it’s BEEN dead! 

Even if the mourners have shown up, and you have had the funeral for whatever the Lord has promised you, Jesus is standing at the tomb reminding us, “Didn’t I tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?” In Him is everything we need in its perfected form. His timing is perfected. He’s never been late to the party. He never will be. Trust Him. Right now, He’s standing at the tomb.

Divinely Hemmed

A couple of mornings ago, I was looking for something in my car, and I ran across a book I’d bought a year ago. While flipping through the pages of the book, I found a torn note card I wrote that said,

“I met God who slowly, painfully, and divinely pieced me back together again.”

 Immediately, I started to reminisce on the difficult times, headaches, and heartaches that led up to the person I am today, and I couldn’t help but to thank God. There was a time, when I first got saved, that I almost traded in my salvation card because living in the world seemed SO much easier than being saved. At least, I didn’t have this target on my back that the enemy was constantly aiming for. Now, I can look back and almost sit in awe at how beautiful the process has been. Every difficult season was a season spent at the feet of God, crying out to Him and praying in my personal intimate time.

Before I got saved, I spent my life tearing the very fabric of who God had created me to be. With every party, every drink, every guy, I was completely shredding who I was. “You hem me in, behind and before, and lay your hand upon me,” (Psalm 139: 5, ESV). It wasn’t enough for me to just get saved. God had to completely change who I was. I needed to reflect Him. He had to go behind me and hem the fabric I’d ripped in the process of finding myself in this world. He’s gone before us, even before the beginning of time, to make sure that we’re hemmed into what He has for us. “My frame was not hidden from you, when I was made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there were none of them,” (Psalm 139: 15-16 ESV). He lays His hand on our lives. The very God that SPOKE creation into existence cares to lay HIS hands on MY life?! On YOUR life?! Sigh, just beautiful.

So, I thank God for the ability to find beauty in the process.

I thank Him that He loved me past salvation, that He loved me enough to not leave me where I was first found.

 I’m grateful that He nudges me to reflect Him, daily.

When I’m having bad days, and I feel like I can’t go any further, He reminds me of how far I’ve come.

I’m grateful for His strength that is readily available to me.

 I’m thankful for Him. I love Him.

I empower you to ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you the beauty in your everyday process. Yes, living for God is not easy at all, but it is worth it. I pray God will reveal how well He has hemmed you in that when people hear your testimonies, they can’t even see the rips and tears that were once the core of who you were. I challenge you to seek those intimate moments when they come. Satan, so badly, wants to steal your joy, your purpose, and your praise, but it’s hard to give him ground when you learn to find beauty in the difficult times.