Hashtags are an interesting way to view the human psyche.  In a moment of life what would a person consider worth saying #liveitup about?  I researched this question via twitter last week and found some interesting posts.

The most common post was about birthdays which makes sense.  However, another common post to #liveitup, was about someone’s death.  Remembering people in birth and death remind us of the same thing it seems…#liveitup.  Other posts were about food and vacations.  The last common post were life quotes.  I found these interesting because I found them to be terrible life quotes that made no sense.  “Time Move Fast Life Don’t” or “Things do not happen because of change.  Change happens because of things.”  #liveitup.  Not sure these are going to help you #liveitup, but it is a view into the human psyche about what it means to #liveitup.

I did find it interesting that I was at least 100 tweets into my research before I found one that had anything to do with God or forgiveness or grace.  Nothing of any spiritual depth in the #liveitup discussion.  Even when I did find God in the discussion, the thoughts were not that deep or accurate.

All of this to ask you, what do you think about when you consider what it means to #liveitup?  What does that mean to you?  Would it be about birthdays and restaurants or would it be deeper than that?

I challenge you to consider the prophecy concerning Jesus from Isaiah 61.  Jesus reads the prophecy in Nazareth and declares it fulfilled in their hearing.  Jesus claims to be the fulfillment of the prophecy that he is the one that will bind up the brokenhearted, give liberty to the captive, bring good news to the poor, and open the prison of those in bondage.  These truths found in Isaiah 61:1-4 are rich in truth.

A person who will #liveitup does more than know the promises they haveThey have the promises they know.  There is a big difference between knowing a promise and having it.  The difference is well articulated in Isaiah 61:10-11 as the prophecy turns to the words of the brokenhearted whose hearts are mended, the captive who is liberated, and poor that have heard the good news.  These people greatly rejoice in the Lord and their souls exult in their God.  They are clothed in garments of salvation and they gladly wear the robe of his righteousness.  They know the promises of God and they have them in their life.

Being freed is a gift.  Living free is a choice.

If you are going to #liveitup you must accept the reality of God’s great gift of love and grace and gladly #liveitup.  The gift has been given.  He has paid the price for your soul so that it will exult him.  He has paid the price of your unrighteousness so that you might wear that robe of righteousness.

The question is, “will you?”  You must choose it.  Each of us must choose this great hope on our first day.  Our first day of faith.  The day where we come to grips with what Jesus has done for us (if you want to consider this read Isaiah 53).  The day we confess that Jesus is Lord.  The day we choose Christ Himself.  We choose it the first day but then we must choose it every day.  Every day we must choose to live God’s grace fresh and new.  We must choose to exult him with our soul and to greatly rejoice in the Lord.  We must choose to gratefully wear the garment of salvation and robe of righteousness.

I challenge you to #liveitup.  Live this grace of God boldly and proudly.  Live it gratefully and graciously.  But live it.  And #liveitup!

When God does not save the day

thedayDo you trust God even when he does not “save the day?” My favorite verse in the Bible is Daniel 3 when Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego are about to be thrown into a fiery furnace for not worshiping a false idol. They tell the king, “we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand.  But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.”

I love this quote. These 3 young men trust God, whether he saves the day or not. Now, God, in this situation, does save the day and deliver them. However, these 3 men trusted God whatever happened. It is easy to say we trust God when he saves the day. But God does not always save the day. Ask the friends of Stephen, the first Christian martyr. Ask the followers of John the Baptist.

Today I want you to consider two very different points of one story. It is the story of Jesus’ journey through Jerusalem during the week leading up to his death. On Sunday, he rides into town and the crowds worship him and cry, “Hosanna, blessed is He that comes in the name of the Lord.” On Friday, the crowds yell out “Crucify him, Crucify him!”

Jesus walked the Narrow Road before us. He travelled the road that is small before he invited us to follow him down it. He had to face the tough realities of life firs. We learn a great principle from Jesus in his handling of these issues. Keep Walking! On the road to Jerusalem, Jesus received what he deserved (when people praised him.) On the road to Calvary, Jesus received what we deserve (when people mocked t killed him).

God is at work in every situation. God is at work in the good, but God often does his greatest work in the bad. It is when we go through the days God does not save that he works mightily within our lives. God did not save the day for Jesus on Good Friday. Jesus was not spared the brutality and hatred. Jesus trusted the Father. He trusted him so much that the night before he prayed so hard he sweat blood and asked “If there be any other way, take this cup from me, but not my will your will be done.” He trusted God. Do not stop when it all seems right, because staying still will cause it to begin to go wrong. Do not stop when it all seems wrong, because you miss out what God will do next.

Jesus knew the truth of what he was doing. Jesus could save himself or us, but not both. The choice to die, to give up his life, was Jesus’ choice. It was a decision of love. God did not save that day because in it God redeemed all the days. Our road is much like Jesus’ in that we have to make a choice between our way and the Father’s will. We can serve Jesus or ourselves, but not both.

Who are you serving? Keep walking!

Do you?

Jesus asked lots of questions.  Jesus asked straightforward questions.  Jesus asked the questions that matter in life.

“Do you believe this?”  Jesus asked this of Martha right after saying to her, “I am the resurrection and the life.  Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die.”  Mark 11::25

Do you believe this?  This is not Jesus asking Martha.  I am asking you.  The question that matters in your life is “do you believe this?”

There are three truths I want you to learn from the death and resurrection of Lazarus.

1.  Apart from Jesus there is death.
Martha and Mary both tell Jesus that if he had been there their brother would not have died.  They knew that without Christ there was death.  Yet Jesus spoke life into that tomb.  Jesus speaks life not because he can bring resurrection but because he IS the resurrection.  He is the one who conquered sin, death, and the grave.  We must go beyond seeking what he gives and seek who he is.

2.  In Jesus there is life.
Jesus said, “I am the life.”  Jesus did not die and was not resurrected so you could have a better life.  Jesus came that you might have “life, and that life to the full.”  He is the giver of life because He Himself is life.  Life is not something we desire from him, it is what we find in him.

3.  I must die to my life to live the Jesus’ life.
There is a death that must take place.  It is my own.  “I no longer live, but it is Christ who lives in me.”  Knowing the power of the resurrection of Christ and the life found in him begins when I allow myself to die to my own ways.  There must be an end to me before there is a beginning for me in Christ.

Jesus told Lazarus to come out and then commanded those around him to unbind him and let him loose.  Jesus died and came to life so that we could die and come to life.  This life is intended to be lived and enjoyed and celebrated.  Let loose for the glory of the Lord in all the joy and peace he gives in life.

As I write these words my heart is heavy for some friends who lost their father this morning.  As I preached this truth yesterday I shared this truth.  The truth of Jesus is an eternal, yet urgent matter.  Often we put off the long-term decisions for short-term reasons.  I told Fellowship yesterday, that you you do not know you are promised today or tomorrow, but if you believe you know you are promised forever.  I praise the Lord with them that their father believed and though he died, he lives.  

He believed this.  His sons believe this.  I believe this.  But that is not the question you need to know the answer to.

Do you believe this?