By Sena Hagedorn
When I was in Junior High, my mom switched churches. Growing up, the normal was for mom to take her five kids to church every Sunday. My Father was a farmer and would attend on holidays. You could say he was a “creaster” (someone who only attends Christmas and Easter services). Oh, and potlucks, he loved a good church potluck!
Our church loved the Lord. We had some members in this congregation who would raise their hands while worshiping and singing to the LORD. It was here at this church, where I saw and experienced this kind of worship for the first time. I can remember my mom leaning over and saying to me as she gestured, “I wish I could worship like that”.
It saddens me greatly that she didn’t feel like she could raise her hands in worship, even though it was the desire of her heart. It’s sad that she didn’t feel free enough to be able to worship God by raising her hands.
Now, when I worship the LORD, I raise my hands. I do it in joy as I feel led by the Holy Spirit. I raise my hands in honor and memory of my mom, but also in my deep love, praise and gratitude to Jesus for his death on the cross.
The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me,
because the Lord has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim freedom for the captives
and release from darkness for the prisoners,[a]
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor
and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn,
and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
instead of ashes,
the oil of joy
instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
a planting of the Lord
for the display of his splendor.
I like to think that my mom is in heaven with her hands raised high, freely worshiping Jesus. No more discomfort, no more bondage, no more yokes, no more brokenness, no more abuse, no more poverty. I’m not saying everyone needs to raise their hands in worship, but if it is the desire of your heart to worship the LORD with your hands raised, what is holding you back?
Christ has come to set the captives free and we are free indeed!
By Pastor Ben Hill (Reproduced with permission)
The woman at the well is a beautiful story of Christ’s compassion and grace. He intentionally engaged in conversation with a woman who would be considered by all in that day an outcast. Yet He brought to her forgiveness and mercy and He gave her the greatest gift imaginable!
The day after their encounter, were you to have asked her the question: “Who do you say Jesus is?” I’m quite certain she would have exclaimed: “He is THE Christ, The Messiah, He is Lord!” How would she have known? Because Jesus was (and is) a “Barrier Breaker”.
In this encounter we see Jesus first broke the barrier of race and gender… He made contact with her. Second, He broke the barrier of her need… He challenged her to look for something more. Third, He broke the barrier of her sinfulness… He confronted her sinful past. Fourth, He broke the barrier of her lostness… He revealed Himself to her and she saw the conversion of her soul available to her. Then, marvelously, we see her changed in that she left her water pot behind and ran to the very people who might have judged her in the past and brought to them the “good news” she had just been given!! She had found the Messiah!
Who do YOU say Jesus IS?
By Pastor Ben Hill (Reproduced with permission)
“When he had received the drink, Jesus said, ‘It is finished.’ With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.” John 19:30
Think back to the terrorist attacks of September 11th. Do you remember how the massive pile of rubble, molten steel and unrecognizable human remains became a focal point of terror’s evil? Remember President Bush ascending a rubble pile with a fireman, and with bullhorn in hand proclaiming for the world to hear our Nation’s resolve, our determination to bring to justice those who were responsible for that horrific attack? That section of destroyed land was referred to over and over again as “Ground Zero”.
What is a ground zero? It is a place of origin, an established point of beginning. Can you think of the “ground zero” moments in your own life? For the Child of God, the ultimate “ground zero” moment happened over 2,000 years ago on a hill called Mt. Calvary!
God is perfectly holy, and His justice demanded punishment for sin. The complete wrath of God was poured out against the rebellion of man, at the cross where Jesus suffered and died for OUR sins! It was there that the justice of God was satisfied through the Lord’s sinless sacrifice.
This is where we see the divine paradox of the cross. In that very moment, God unleashes His unbridled punishment of sin but He also reveals His greatest expression of love, mercy, and grace! (Romans 5:8) God the Father gave His Only Son to die so that we don’t have to… this is grace defined! Yet grace is further revealed in the reality that Jesus was not an unwilling sacrifice. He freely laid down His life to pay your death sentence and mine!
O, what a Savior! We are redeemed by the blood of The Lamb!
The ultimate Ground Zero: Jesus died once for all who will surrender to Him.
Pray that you might fully appreciate the divine paradox of grace and that we all might share the love of God everywhere we go.
By Mark Winchell of National Christian Counselors Association (reproduced with permission)
About 2 years ago, I was hiking down some trails here in Florida. While I was walking, God began to lay a vision out for me, one that greatly impacted my life and I pray will impact your life as well.
God showed me a pathway of large flat rocks and in order to start down this path, I had to wait for the next rock in front of me to flip over, before I could move ahead.
So I waited… and I waited for the rock to turn over, and when it finally did turn over, I saw that there was a word written on the rock and the word was “Faith”.
Well, I kept trying to move from my rock, and stand on the “Faith” rock, believing that this would allow me to move forward, but I was unable to move from the rock on which I was already standing, even though I thought I had great faith.
I was stuck…
…so I did what anyone else would do, right? I looked for another path to take because I didn’t want to be stuck there on that rock. Then in my vision – Oh look, there’s a book. My solution was to pick up this book and read it. Suddenly a path manifested to the right of me, which had many rocks already turned over.
“Great!”, I thought. I no longer had to wait for my next rock to flip. I had a path open to me and I followed all the steps in the book; I followed the revelations and the teachings and I prayed all the prayers and I moved right along this path all the way to the end. I was so excited that I had gotten this far, that is, until I heard God speak to me.
He said, “This is not YOUR PATH”.
I realized at this point that I was not only on the wrong path, but also very far from my rock, and the path that God had actually laid out for ME. You see, the path I had followed was someone else’s path, and it had everything they needed to walk in THEIR God-given calling, but it wasn’t mine.
I have to go back to my rock now.
“Watch the path of your feet and all your ways will be established.”
[Proverbs 4:26 NASB]
By Pastor Ben Hill (Reproduced with permission)
‘The Lord had said to Abram, “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you. I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you;
I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing.
I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse;
and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.”’
Most, I’m sure, have heard the analogy that our lives are as tapestries. Viewing a tapestry on a wall, you may see a beautifully woven landscape of brilliantly intermingled color, intricate design and detailed order. And if it is displayed on the wall, it is likely completed. But, if you look at the back, you will find a different scenario. What you will see is a chaotic and jumbled mess of colored threads, hardly revealing the beautiful design just on the other side.
From above earth and above all the heavens, God sits on His mighty throne, and views our lives in a way that we can’t! He sees the finished product: what we will one day be! But from our viewpoint, we can only look up to see the other side; the countless threads of uncertainty, fear, pain and sometimes despair. We see threads, He (God) sees the tapestry! (Do yourself a favor and look up the song “Threads” written by my good friend, Eric Childers. It will bless you.)
Now concerning the context of the scripture you just read: Abram saw through his “Abram eyes.” BUT GOD saw him as Abraham, the Father of Nations — who he would one day be! Abraham was a man of character and a servant of the Almighty Father. Over time, God molded Abraham into what he became: a man who trusted God no matter what.
What about us? As you view your life and circumstance, remember that you are seeing the back side of the tapestry. But God sees you through His Son’s blood – painted, finished and a beautiful masterpiece of a tapestry. And HE calls you forgiven, redeemed, sanctified, and glorified!!
Trust God’s “Tapestry View” and don’t fear the uncertainty of the jumbled perspective we have. God’s got this!!
By Mark Winchell (reproduced with permission)
Recently, while I was sitting by the pond near our office, the Lord ministered to me again. He knew exactly what I needed. You see, I have not been feeling particularly victorious lately, and He reminded me once again, that I am “more than a conqueror in Christ Jesus”.
Romans 8:35-37 says, ”Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written: ‘For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.’ No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.”
I have used, quoted, declared and shouted this verse many times in distress (even in traffic) to reaffirm to myself who I am! This powerful Word would relieve the momentary anguish and give me the strength to carry on.
Recently though, I’ve found it’s been harder and harder to grip the absolute truth of this Word – to know I’m victorious and declare it. Well, as I’m still sitting by the pond, Holy Spirit nudges me and tells me again. He says, “You are more than a Conqueror in Christ Jesus!” So I say, “I already know this!”
Then, despite my reluctance, He goes on to say something really cool, “Conquerors suppress and oppress those who oppose them.” The reason the Lord says, “More than a conqueror “ is because you are a destroyer in Christ Jesus!
1 John 3:8 says, ”The one who does what is sinful is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work.”
This word put fire back in me, the Armor of God back on me, and the Sword of the Spirit firmly in my hands, because in the Name of Jesus I can destroy the works of the devil!
So, we shouldn’t be afraid or intimidated by the world if we truly know and believe this truth!
“For the weapons of our warfare [are] not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ.” 2 Cor. 10:4-5
So be more.