Was Christ really resurrected?

“Now if Christ is preached, that He has been raised from the dead, how do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead?” 1 Cor 15:12 (NASB)

The Gospel message: “For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures.” 1 Cor 15:3,4

All Christians, as proof of the title, believe that Christ died on the cross for our sins, was buried in a tomb, and three days later He rose again. This is the crux of our faith, right? But some, dare I say most, don’t walk in a way that shows this belief. I know there are days I don’t. What I’m referring to, specifically, is the resurrection part.

Christ died for all sin: past, present, and future. Then, He was resurrected by the Spirit of God three days later. We are forgiven of our sin, because Christ died, and we’re then resurrected by the Holy Spirit to have new, abundant life in Christ. We are not only forgiven, but we are NEW CREATIONS. “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.” – 2 Cor 5:17. We are new in Him, with the Spirit of God dwelling inside us. He empowers us to live a life free from sin and death. That is what the resurrection does.34859-A-New-Creation

So do we, as Christians, really embrace that? What does that mean, to embrace that truth? Are we new or not? I am new. I am made alive in Christ and am no longer dead in my sin. I am made holy and blameless in the sight of my Father because of the blood of the Lamb. And, I can walk upright, a new creation, because of the resurrection of Jesus. I have been resurrected by the Spirit of the living God, and I am called to walk in that truth.

Part of walking in that truth means we believe that our brothers and sisters have also been forgiven of their sin and resurrected by the Spirit of the living God. We believe they can walk holy and blameless in the sight of their Father because of the blood of the Lamb. They can also walk upright, as a new creation, because of the resurrection of Jesus. When we are unforgiving of our brothers and sisters in Christ, when we hold their sin over them, we risk taking that truth away from them. If we can be forgiven by Christ, they can too. And if Christ forgives us, He forgives them too.

Jesus died for me when I was still a sinner. Not only that, but he sought me out when I was a stranger. I didn’t know Him, I didn’t want to know Him, so I certainly did not love Him, but he came after me! He wooed me. He never gave up on me. He never stopped pursuing me. He kept on, and kept on, and kept on, until I finally surrendered. He died for me when I was the worst of sinners. He extended His never-ending love and mercy to me when I hated Him. I didn’t, and still don’t, deserve any of it.

If Jesus did all that for me, how can I hold any forgiveness from anyone else? Whether they deserve it or not, He gave it freely, and so should we. Reminding our offenders of their sin against us keeps them in the bondage of that sin. They aren’t “new creations” when we’re constantly reminding them of their failure. How can they be? Have they not been forgiven and resurrected? Let them walk as such! They are forgiven by Jesus, who are we to say they’re not? They have been raised from death to life, new and abundant life in Christ, who are we to say they haven’t?

Forgiveness. Edification. These are Kingdom things. They are not possible without the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. We can forgive the unforgiveable because He empowers us to do so. We can build each other up, instead of tearing each other down, because the Spirit enables us to do so. Who reminds us of our sin? Who continues to pull us back to “death”? Who lives to steal our hope and joy? Who tells us lies about who we are and forgiveness? Satan. We’re Kingdom people, so let’s do Kingdom stuff.

Don’t hold sin against one another, regardless of the sin.

Forgive the unforgiveable, Jesus did.

Thank God He Doesn’t Rely on Me!

One of my favorite attributes of God, my God – the Christian God, the Father of Jesus and Creator of the entire Universe, is that He’s sovereign. When I was new to the faith, shortly after Jesus had succeeded in wooing me, I would hear this term and really didn’t know what it meant. When used as an adjective (to describe someone or some thing), the term SOVEREIGN means:

2sov·er·eign

adjective \ˈsä-v(ə-)rən, -vərn also ˈsə-\

: having unlimited power or authority

: not limited

: having independent authority and the right to govern itself

My God has UNLIMITED power AND authority. I am so happy that He is NOT LIMITED. I love that NOTHING affects His power and authority. NOTHING! No matter what I do, no matter what you do, no matter what happens, HIS power is still the same. And because He is good, and only good, that means NOTHING will affect HIS goodness. And because HE loves us, nothing we can do will EVER change HIS love for us! Nothing. He is immutable (unchanging).

I cannot affect God. I can do nothing to change who He is, ever. The attributes that He possesses are His and will remain the same forever and ever, amen! His goodness, His love, His righteousness, His holiness, His mercy, His grace, HE IS UNCHANGING. I am so glad that none of Him relies on me.

I am human and I screw up. If God took away His love for me every time I screwed up, where would I be? Where would God be? He’d be human, wouldn’t He? I can never bring Him down to my level because then He would cease to be God. And if He’s not God, than who am I? I am who I am because He made me perfectly. To take away anything from Him would take away my purpose and my meaning. I only have purpose because God created me to have purpose. He created YOU to have purpose too.

Do you know the purpose of/in your life? Do you feel like you’re just wandering around aimlessly, trying to figure out why you’re here, on Earth? Even if you’re unaware of your purpose; even if you’ve denied God and His existence in your life, in the world; He still loves you with an everlasting love. That love will never cease, it will never lessen or diminish, it will never be less than the day He created you and the day He close His Son to die for you. There is NOTHING you can do to change His love for you. So you might as well embrace it, eh? It’s not going anywhere.

Doesn’t a God like that deserve our praise? Don’t you think He deserves our worship? The fact that “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him (2 Cor 5:21)” is the best reason to worship anyone, ever. Because yet while we were sinners, Jesus died for us (Romans 5:8), the  ultimate sacrifice, He deserves our praise. Because when we denied Him, and refused Him, and yelled and spat at Him, He still loved us enough to become our sin and nail it to the cross, He deserves our everything. It’s the least we can do; it’s all we can do.

We can’t obey ourselves into relationship with Him. We simply seek Him, and He will draw near to us (James 4:8). We were created for relationship with God, not because He needs us, but because life is NOTHING apart from Him. God is God regardless of us, regardless of me. He needs nothing from me to continue to be God, and He needs nothing from you to continue to be God. And for that I am extremely thankful. I cannot mess this up, EVER! And neither can you.

Once we enter into relationship with Jesus, NOTHING can pluck us from His hand. That is a forever relationship that will only end if we deny it’s very existence. And even that denial would not, will not, stop the love God has for you. You are loved whether you want to be or not. You are loved whether you believe you are or not. You are eternally loved, by the Perfect One who called you into existence. Life is so much more abundant when you walk like that’s true.

Blessings, Crystal

Come thou fount…

While singing a familiar song in church this weekend, God chose to speak to me personally regarding a specific lyric I’ve belted out hundreds of times before. Many Christians, and non-Christians alike, are familiar with the popular song “Come Thou Fount”. The opening verse is this:

Come, Thou Fount of every blessing
Tune my heart to sing Thy grace
Streams of mercy, never-ceasing
Call for songs of loudest praise
Teach me some melodious sonnet
Sung by flaming tongues above
Praise the mount, I’m fixed upon it
Mount of Thy unchanging love.

The words above strike a chord in my heart like nothing else can. I hear the familiar drum beat (our church performs the King’s Kaleidoscope version) and my heart skips a beat. Singing to the Savior of my soul, the Healer of my wounds, the Redeemer of my life, is one of my most beloved things to do. And this particular tune is a personal favorite. But this Saturday night during worship, God struck me when I sang the fifth line: Teach me some melodious sonnet. When walking with Jesus, He is constantly teaching us a song to sing to Him, is He not? What’s my song about right now?

The first four lines are speaking about God’s blessing, His grace, His mercy, and praising Him for all that. The fifth line, the singer (me) is asking God to teach her a song. She’s saying “Continue to teach me of Your blessings, grace, and mercy.” In other words, never stop blessing me, having grace for me, and showing me Your mercy. All of those treats make up the song in my heart for my God. And His word tells me that those things will never stop, which means I should never stop singing of them!

It all ends with God’s “unchanging love”. Isn’t that what it’s all about? He loves us so much that He blesses us. He loves us so much that He has never-ending grace for us. He loves us so much that His mercy will never run dry for those who love Him. And if all of that is true, how can I ever stop singing the song He’s written on my heart?

Each of our songs will be personal, based on the specific blessings, grace, and mercy God has for us. He is so very personal that we’d be silly to believe He’d give us all the same song. Some songs will be joyful and loud, others will be slower and somber, but all will profess His blessings, grace, and mercy.

Do you know what “melodious sonnet” God’s written on your heart? If not, try to remember who you were before He invited you to walk with Him. That’s always a good starting place for me. His love for us is never-ending and unchanging, so should our praise to Him be.

If you don’t know what I’m talking about, and all of this sounds like gibberish to you, it’s quite possible I just didn’t articulate my heart very clearly. But it could also be likely that you’re reading this and haven’t yet “tasted and seen that the Lord is good”. If this is the case, and you want to know Jesus in the way I write about knowing Him, please comment or contact me privately. I would love to help you get the know the Man who’s stolen my heart, because He wants to steal your heart too.

Here’s that video of the song above, in case you need a little filling up:

Much love and blessings,
Crystal

Are you in love?

love

I’m in love. News to you? Shouldn’t be. See, I’m in love with God. And because I’m in love with God, everyone everywhere who knows me should be aware of that. It’s kind of mandatory that I shout from the rooftops my love for Him. One should never question whether a Christian is a Christian. The love we have for our Jesus should ooze from our pores. It should flow into every conversation we have. It should consume our every waking thought. That love we have for Him should overtake our lives in such a way that no one could ever question our allegiance.

Does all this sound a little crazy? Perhaps a bit radical? It is! The love I have for my Savior is crazy and radical. Wanna know why? Because His love for me is crazy and radical. His love for me is immense. His love for me is huge and more real than any other love EVER. I can only love Him because of how He loves me. That’s it. So if I didn’t understand, or try to understand, His love for me, then none of the first paragraph would be true in my life. I could say I was a Christian and I could still walk around this world with hate in my heart. I could say I was a Christian and some people would never know it unless they heard me say it. What sets me apart from the rest of the world? The love of God. It’s not anything I’ve done or anything I will ever do. It’s the simply, complex love of God.

My Jesus became my sin, He became the sin of the world, and then suffered a horribly painful death. My sin, your sin, the sin of the world, died with Jesus. It’s gone. My slavery to sin has been demolished. It is NO MORE. My debt, to my perfect and Holy God, a death sentence, has been PAID IN FULL. The death that I deserve to die for sinning against a Holy, Perfect God, has been accomplished. Because Jesus died for me, I don’t have to die. And because Jesus died for me, my God sees me as Holy and Righteous. Because Jesus died for me, I am covered in the blood of His sacrifice forever, never again to be trapped in the bondage of sin. IT IS FINISHED.

I have died with my sin, and it’s gone forever. But my Jesus rose again! I have been born again, with the Holy Spirit as my guide, to live this life to the fullest. My Father not only demolished my sin but He gave me everlasting, eternal life, through His son Jesus. My life is devoted to Him, the One who paid my debt. I will live everyday for Jesus, never being able to repay the gift He gave me, but hoping others will accept that very gift salvation. It’s the best gift I’ll ever receive.

I am in love with the Lover of my soul. He is my Creator and my Savior. He is my Rock and my Refuge. He is my Redeemer and my Healer. My God loves me with an everlasting love. My God created me perfectly and loves me dearly. I am His beloved and He is mine. This kind of love is unconditional. It is the only truly unconditional love I’ll ever know. My God’s agape love is huge. His love is larger than any circumstance this world can throw at me. His love sustains and provides.

God’s love for me is the same as His love for you! The exact same! It’s so simple, the love of God, and so unfathomable. It’s a Holy love. He loves you as if you were His child, because you are. You are an heir to the throne. You are royalty, with royal blood. You have a Heavenly Father and a Holy Spirit and a Blessed Redeemer. You can have heaven on Earth now, right now! Sweet surrender is all that’s required. Surrender to the King, admit that He knows infinitely more than you, and ask His Spirit to enter your heart. He will radically transform you with His radical love. His crazy, radical love is real, and it’s here, now. Take it.

Inspiration

I’ve been pre-occupied and this blog has definitely not been my priority. You know what is though? Glorifying my Jesus. I can do that here! So, consequently, this blog should be a priority. Amen? I’m going to try to make it such, and if it’s God’s will, I will be successful!

I’ve titled this entry “Inspiration”, though I’m not quite sure why. I sat down to write, with no apparent agenda, and that title came to me. We’ll see how this unfolds. The title will, undoubtedly, be accurate since I’m sure it was divinely inspired.

If you’ve read ANY of my blog posts (within the last 2+ years), you should know that I love Jesus. I am so in love with the redeemer of my soul that I can’t help but write about Him and what He’s done, and continues to do, in my life. He is amazing and His love for me is so incredibly great. How could I not share His wonder with you!?

God is God, no matter who I am. He is God no matter who you are too. Do you believe? Do you think I’m a nut? Either way, He’s still Him. His existence does not depend on your belief, or my belief. God is the Creator of the Universe whether we acknowledge Him or not. Isn’t that incredible?

I love that NO MATTER WHAT I do, He’s still Him. That means that His love for me is always the same. It doesn’t ebb and flow like the waves of the sea. He doesn’t love me less when I love Him less. He doesn’t love me more when I’m having an especially “holy” day. His love for me outnumbers the stars in the sky every minute of every single day. And it doesn’t depend on my belief in Him either! You know what that means? His love doesn’t depend on YOUR belief in Him either. That same great love He has for me, He has for you too. Ha! I love it. It’s such a foreign concept to the world, this true unconditional love. We have no idea what it’s like to love like this.

I love my children, like a lot. I love them so much that I could not bear to think of living this life without them. I didn’t know how to love before I had them. Truth. But, my love for them is not purely unconditional. I like to think it is, but it’s not. Your love for your children isn’t either. Or your spouse. Or your parents. Or anyone else you think you love. It’s not unconditional. Our love, our human love, always comes with conditions. Let me explain: When my son does something so ridiculous it infuriates me, I don’t stop loving him. I don’t. I will always love him, no matter what. I’m sure most parents would say the same. But, if he stopped loving me, and turned his back on me completely, never to return or reach out at all, there would come a point where I would stop pursuing him. I would always love him, but I would not always run after him.

God will NEVER stop pursuing. God will NEVER stop chasing. God desires for ALL PEOPLE to come to know Him. You may turn your back, you may reject him, but He will NEVER stop loving you. His love is NOT dependent on your love for Him. Ever. That’s unconditional. That’s the love my Jesus has for all His people.

This love, the love of my Father, inspires me to love others differently. Because of His never-ending love for me, I love others in a new way. I’m no longer self-motivated. I no longer have an agenda. I don’t love others out of selfish ambition. I simply love God’s people because He does. I don’t deserve His love for me. Not one bit (see previous post, Dec 2013). But He freely gives it. If He does, why can’t I? You don’t deserve His love either. But He freely gives it. Why can’t you?

Love today, regardless. Regardless of whether they deserve it or not. Regardless of whether you feel like it or not. Regardless of whether you want to or not. Just love, because He first loved us. You’ll be surprised how easy it becomes.

With love, Crystal

 

Happy Christmas, Merry Birthday.

It’s been a while but I feel led. Here we go.

This Christmas is different from any other Christmas I’ve ever experienced. It should be for you too. Every year we should be closer to Jesus than we were the year before, yes? The Word of God, the Holy Bible, tells us so. My relationship with my Savior is so much tighter today than it was 12 months ago. Shoot, it’s tighter today than it was a week ago. And it’s not at all because of me. If it were up to Crystal, I’d be laying on the couch vegging in front of the TV stuffing no-bake cookies in my pie-hole. I wouldn’t be writing this. I wouldn’t have prayed today or made it to Bible study. I wouldn’t have read my Bible yesterday, or the day before. I wouldn’t have smiled at the rude lady in the grocery store. I wouldn’t have taught Sunday school yesterday. I wouldn’t have counted to ten when my kids were acting up. I wouldn’t have even gotten out of bed this morning.

Life is hard. PERIOD. Inside a relationship with Christ, or outside a relationship with Christ, this world is difficult. Jesus never promised to make it easier, just more fulfilling. He is THE WAY, THE TRUTH, and THE LIFE. He and He alone can satisfy. He is the only way to joy! You know that nagging in your heart? In your soul even? That feeling of “never good enough” or always “wanting more”? Those feelings will never permanently go away without a relationship with YOUR Savior. Can you quench them temporarily? Yep. But they’ll always return. Maybe not tomorrow, or next month, or even next year, but they’ll be back. You can put that on a cracker and eat it!

Realizing Jesus’ love for me was the best, the absolute best thing that could’ve ever happened to me. And trust me when I say I’ve had some pretty amazing things happen to me: I have been blessed with two amazing children, I have an awesome husband and a rockin’ marriage, I have a roof over my head and food on my table, my son was SAVED from CANCER! All of that is wonderful and amazing but, the realization that without God none of it would be possible is the best of all. He is the reason for EVERYTHING! Every single good thing comes from the Father. All of it. And, Romans 8:28 promises us that HE WILL work all things together for the good of those who love Him. ALL THINGS!!! So even the crap I’ve gone through (again, a good deal) has been blessing upon blessing!

I say all of this to paint a picture. The picture is of a wretched sinner (that’s me) who does not at all deserve the love of God. Not only do I not deserve that love, I don’t deserve life at all. If the Bible is true, absolute truth, I deserve death for sinning against my Holy Creator God. And I am NO DIFFERENT than anyone else created by that same God. We were ALL created in HIS image. Every last one of us. The murderer, the slanderer, the gossip, the adulterer, the abortionist, the rapist, the pedophile, the racist, the liar, the fibber, the fake, the real, ALL THE SAME. In God’s eyes, we’re all the same, and He loves us ALL THE SAME. None of us deserve His love but He gives it FREELY! Thank you Father!

The great I AM sent His only son to die on the cross, bearing all of OUR transgressions, so that we may have eternal life with Him in Heaven, if we believe by faith. All the sins of the world were laid on my sweet Jesus. Your sins, my sins, past, present, and future. He died for ALL OF THEM and ALL OF US. But it didn’t stop there! Three days later he was raised to life, by the power of the Holy Spirit and his heavenly Father! Hallelujah! Hallelujah that I, a wretched sinner deserving death, now have abundant life here and now! Not only that, but I will be with my Father for all eternity! Praise God for his unfathomable love. A lot to take in, huh? Jesus is the “Overseer of our souls”. He takes care of us.

So this Christmas, celebrate the birth that led to the ultimate gift of salvation. Celebrate the ONE TRUE KING. Celebrate Jesus Messiah, Emmanuel (God with us). Celebrate abundant life! Celebrate death to death. Celebrate freedom in the name of Jesus. Celebrate chains falling for forgiveness of sin. Celebrate the end of slavery (for we are no longer slaves to sin). Celebrate the only relationship with eternal consequences, your relationship with Jesus. Merry Christmas.