Archive | March 2016

The Burden Bearer

Weary.  Bone crushingly weary.  Exhausted.  I shuffled one aching foot in front of the other.  Slowly.  So slowly.  The weight upon my back growing heavier with every step.  My ankle turned upon a rock as I took my next step and crying out in pain I tumbled, in a pitiful heap, to the ground.  My chest began to heave as sobs racked my body, tears dripping off the end of my nose onto the stony ground beneath me.

I looked upwards and studied the mountain in front of me.  My destination.  The very top of the mountain.  Maybe then I would be able to put down the heavy bags on my shoulders and rest.  Or so I had heard.  Countless stories about the top of the mountain.  How I could kick off the weight of my burden and finally be free!  Another sob shuddered through me and I felt hope draining away.  There were so many stories and quick fixes that I had tried, all with that money back guarantee of lifting your burdens, total happiness and all that!  Nothing worked.  Nothing changed.  It seemed as if this burden grew heavier as each day passed.  I looked again at the top of the mountain, at the precipices and boulders that I would have to navigate and sighed deeply.  It was too heavy, my body ached with so much pain.  I could never, ever make it to the top.  Looking down the steep path I had already climbed I wasn’t sure I could go back down either.  I was at the end of my rope!  Out of options!  In a jam and at my wit’s end!  I closed my eyes and tried to think of what to do next.

burdened

Clattering.  Rattling.  The sound of rocks striking together.  I opened my eyes and there below me was a man moving rapidly up the hill.  There was no weight upon his back.  No burden slowing him down!  As he reached me he moved to go around me, but I put out my hand, “Wait,” I said, “Please wait!  Where is your burden?  The weight of your sin, your anxieties, depression and diseases?  Your worries, pain and heartbreak?”  “Gone!” he exclaimed, “I traded them!”  “You what?  You traded them?” I questioned, unbelief wrinkling my forehead.  “Yes, traded!  I traded my sin for salvation, my bondage for redemption, my captivity for freedom, my worries for peace and my anxiety for serenity!  That’s not all,” he said, “I traded my doubt for faith, my troubles for comfort and my sickness for health!  Why, He even gave me beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair!” (Isaiah 61:3)

My shoulders slumped even more and I just wished the ground would swallow me up.  What a fool I had been.  Chasing after the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow!  Chasing after myths, legends and silly stories, spending my money on slippery lies, believing every tall tale.  I looked at the man and said, “It must of cost you everything, and I have squandered all that I have on fibs and falsehoods.”  Bending down the man looked right into my tear stained eyes.  “No,” he said, “It was free!  Just ask Jesus.  He paid the price for you already and He will take your burden too!”

consuming fire

I closed my eyes and inhaled deeply.  “Jesus,” I whispered quietly.  “Jesus.”  It was little more than a sigh, a gentle murmur on a summer’s breeze.  But the response was phenomenal!  Every burden on my back crashed to the ground, baggage scattering over the side of the mountain.  Flames ignited every sin, every weight and every sickness.  A consuming fire!  I pushed myself backwards as the heat became so intense.  Smoke curling upwards.  But what was that smell?  A riot of roses, cinnamon, sandalwood and spices.  Incense.  The offering of my sin rising like a sweet smelling fragrance.  “Jesus,” I whispered again and smiled to myself.

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Picking myself up, I stood to my feet.  Weightless.  Light.  Even buoyant!  Joy began to well up within me as for the first time I felt freedom.  Free from the weight of sin that had dragged me down!  Emotions rushed over me.  Peace.  Elation.  Contentment.  Thankfulness.  I watched as the clouds bathed the mountain in their magic, flowers peaked behind the rocks and the sound of a thousand birds raised their voices in a joyful chorus.  Saved! Redeemed!  Delivered!  Rescued!  Liberated!  Released!  It all washed over me like a refreshing water from an ice cold mountain spring.  I looked at the top of the mountain and knew that I too could race to the top, unencumbered, free!  Why, I could do anything now, for all things are possible to those who just believe! (Mk 9:23)

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This entry was posted on March 15, 2016. 3 Comments

In Defense of the Prodigal

Thou Art There

In my heart there is this large, soft spot for the Prodigal.  The word itself echoes with images of someone who is lost, someone who stumbles around in the dark with no direction, someone who wastes his life far away from the incredible plans and purposes of God!  Backslider.  Loser.  Offender.  Wrongdoer.  Failure.

 Perhaps that spot in my heart aches for the Prodigal because I once was one myself.  Running as far and as fast as I could away from the shadow of His wing, independent and proud with no need of a strong tower that I could run into and be safe!  Thoughts swirling in my head of how I only needed to please myself, with no thought for anything or anyone else.  I am so very thankful for a mother who loved me unconditionally and prayed for me constantly and for a gracious, loving, heavenly Father who in his incredible mercy would follow me even into the depths of hell, his right hand holding me fast! (Psalm 139)

 My heart constantly yearns for the Prodigal and my cries go up to the Living God praying in earnest that He would not leave them that way!  But, deep down inside there is a crippling, gnawing fear that threatens to overwhelm me, that shouts out that the Prodigal is lost forever, has lost that most incredible gift.  Salvation.  The right to live with our beautiful Saviour forever!

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 Ephesians 1:13 tells me this; “In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise!”  Oh my!  That scripture just thrills my heart, sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise!  And Oh, what a promise, guaranteed redemption, deliverance, freedom from sin, an inheritance of everlasting life all “to the praise of His glory!”  How can we ever stop thanking the Lord!

 Sealed! Let that sink right into your soul.  Sealed.  Marked for God.  Authenticated beyond a shadow of a doubt.  Engraved with the pattern of the Holy Spirit of promise.  Guaranteed!  It is so delicious I can hardly stand it!  To know that I am sealed with the Holy Spirit himself is almost too glorious!

 Then to make it even sweeter Esther 8:8 says “You yourselves write a decree concerning the Jews, as you please in the King’s name, and seal it with the King’s signet ring; for whatever is written in the King’s name and sealed with the King’s signet ring, no-one can revoke.”  Let me say that again because I absolutely love the sound of it – whatever is sealed by the King, NO-ONE can revoke!  That seal, that promise of the Holy Spirit on your life is completely irrevocable, no-one can take that away from you, ever.

 The word seal comes from the greek word phrasso which means to stop up, to fence in, to put to silence.  Satan is silenced concerning you, concerning your sin, you are forever safe and secure, hidden from the plans of the enemy.  Job himself said “My transgression is sealed up in a bag, and you cover my iniquity” (Job 14:17).  He knew that no-one could ever open that bag, could ever break the lock of that seal and let his transgression free, it was sealed for all eternity!

Sealed up transgression

 But back to the Prodigal.  Surely the Prodigal could unlock that seal, could break the engraved mark of the Holy Spirit of promise, could get out of the iron-clad seal that no-one can revoke?

 Rev 20:2-3 says “He laid hold of the dragon, that serpent of old, who is the devil and satan, and bound him for a thousand years; and he cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal on him, so that he should deceive the nations no more till the thousand years were finished.”  Even satan himself, that ugly, old devil, could not break the seal that was set on him and come out of that bottomless pit to continue to torment the nations.  He was sealed in, locked in, bound up, for a thousand years, only God could release him.

 No matter the rebellion, the desire to run, the blinding to the truth, the Prodigal can no more undo the seal of the Holy Spirit of promise upon his life than satan himself can undo the seal of the King of Kings that will bind him up in chains in the deepest, darkest pit!

 A promise from the King, you can take it to the bank, you can know deep down in the heart of your heart that God will never break his promise.  Even if one believer that was sealed by God somehow was lost then there would be no glory, it would be a stain upon the integrity of the One who bears no stain.  So for the Prodigal there is no fear that they have gone too far or sinned too much and broken that seal that was placed there by the Almighty God.

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For me, I cannot see how it is possible for the Prodigal to lose their inheritance.  There is no way to revoke that which the King of Kings and Lord of Lords has sealed.  There is no way that they will not be found in the presence of our Redeemer and Deliverer forever and always!

This entry was posted on March 5, 2016. 2 Comments