“...In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world." —John 16:33
I wonder how Jesus feels listening to some of the messages preached from our American pulpits. I wonder if He’s noticed the same thing I have--that most of the messages in our “me-centered” culture come from one of two angles:
1) Either they are nice messages that tell people how to be a better person, how to get their prayers answered, or “how to…” This type of message is usually a very well organized three- to seven-point message that leaves the listener feeling encouraged and ready to go (all too often just to a big lunch). Or...
2) They focus on the fact that Jesus said in John 16:33, “…In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world." This makes us feel good if we’re going through life’s trials, which truly can be very tiresome. (Incidentally, use of this verse is also a great way to get people to read articles, which is why I put that scripture on the top of this article; I knew this piece would be a bit challenging, and having it there might get you to read it).
I can’t help but notice that we as ministers spend more time preaching to make people feel good than drawing the body of Christ into a deeper relationship with Him. I know that people need to be encouraged (myself included), but isn’t the emphasis supposed to be on Jesus? It may seem a bit “simple” to some, but in Hebrews 11:6 Paul told us that it is impossible to please God without faith. So shouldn’t the focus of our faith in any situation be Him? If the shortest distance between two points is a straight line, then the shortest way to answered prayer might be faith in God and the finished work of Jesus His son. Lately the old hymn Jesus Paid it All keeps resurfacing in my life, so I thought I would share the words of that incredible work of art with you as a focal point:
Jesus Paid It All
I hear the Savior say,
“Thy strength indeed is small;
Child of weakness, watch and pray,
Find in Me thine all in all.”
Jesus paid it all,
All to Him I owe;
Sin had left a crimson stain,
He washed it white as snow.
For nothing good have I Whereby Thy grace to claim,
I’ll wash my garments white
In the blood of Calv’ry’s Lamb.
And now complete in Him
My robe His righteousness,
Close sheltered ’neath His side,
I am divinely blest.
Lord, now indeed I find
Thy power and Thine alone,
Can change the leper’s spots
And melt the heart of stone.
When from my dying bed
My ransomed soul shall rise,
“Jesus died my soul to save,”
Shall rend the vaulted skies.
And when before the throne
I stand in Him complete,
I’ll lay my trophies down
All down at Jesus’ feet.
WOW! It is finished! Jesus Paid It All! Isn’t it about time we turn to Him for our answers? After all, he truly paid the price for our sins, sickness, weakness, etc. When do we realize that our methods of working the five point sermon becomes "leaning to our own understanding"? I don’t mean to be critical of these types of messages, I too have preached them and been lifted by them. I think that the reason many folks are going through intense tribulation might just be because it took such trials for them to look at Jesus’ work and throw themselves on the mercy of God through the finished work of redemption.
Just a few days ago I was in the woods where I often go to pray and had a very unique encounter with God. I began my prayer time by reading Galatians 2:20:
"I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith of the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me."
I prayed this verse as a reminder that I needed to get out of the way and let God be God. As I prayed, my eyes fell on the phrase, “…I live by the faith of the Son of God…” I was somewhat taken aback. I asked God to please give me a glimpse of what Jesus’ faith looked like. Very quickly within myself I heard “It’s too big for you to grasp.” I replied, “I know God, but could you just show me one element of it”? Almost instantly these words flooded my heart: “That you would complete what I have called you to do.” I was (and still am) dumbfounded.
For the last couple of weeks He has been making elements of this statement plain to me and He’ll do the same for you. As we press into Him and focus on what Jesus’ faith looks like then we begin to see that Jesus Paid It All for us. We’re the head and not the tail. We are above only and not beneath, the victors and not the victims. All of our needs are met according to His riches in glory. We are healed by the stripes of Jesus. All my sins have been washed away, not just coved as with the blood of a lamb in the old testament, but washed away!