BROKEN

I CAME CLOSE TO GIVING UP!

Time and again I cried out to God. Satan crushed me into the dirt, but God said to me, “This isn’t the end.  My grace is sufficient.”  But I persisted by singing,

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“Precious Lord, take my hand

Lead me on, let me stand

I’m tired, I’m weak, I’m lone

Through the storm, through the night

Lead me on to the light

Take my hand precious Lord, lead me home.”

(Thomas A. Dorsey)

“Satan’s angel did his best to get me down; what he in fact did was push me to my knees. No danger then of walking around high and mighty! At first I didn’t think of it as a gift, and begged God to remove it. Three times I did that, and then he told me, My grace is enough; it’s all you need. My strength comes into its own in your weakness. Once I heard that, I was glad to let it happen. I quit focusing on the handicap and began appreciating the gift. It was a case of Christ’s strength moving in on my weakness. Now I take limitations in stride, and with good cheer, these limitations that cut me down to size—abuse, accidents, opposition, bad breaks. I just let Christ take over! And so the weaker I get, the stronger I become.”

2 Corinthians 12:7-10 (msg)

The best thing that ever happened to me was when God allowed me to be broken.

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“When I am swept by the tempests of life,

Jesus is all I need.

Peace He imparts, whatsoever the strife.

Jesus is all I need.

“All that I need He will always be,

All that I need till His face I see,

All that I need thro’ eternity.

Jesus is all I need.”

(James Rowe)

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SKEPTICS AND THE SUPERNATURAL

NATURAL LAWS ARE FIXED!  THEY ARE DECLARED IN ADVANCE. 

They are foreseeable, calculable and certain.  They are constant and consistent.  The only force or Person who can alter, reconstruct or overrule those immutable, permanent laws is some cosmic force way out there in the somewhere, OR … we know Him as The Supernatural, Almighty, Ontological, Omnipresent, Omnipotent, Omnicient Creator GOD!  He is supernatural.  He is the miracle-producing God.  He is here and everywhere.  He is out there and in here.  His power cannot be calculated and His love is beyond intellectual understanding.  When God overrules natural law we know it as … supernatural!

When you believed by faith in the saving mercy of God through Christ Jesus, when you gave your heart to God, you entered the world of the supernatural.  You were brought from death to eternal life.  There is physical death and there is spiritual death.  Only by the supernatural can physical death defy the law of nature.  Only by the supernatural can a spiritually dead human being be snatched from the jaws of eternal death.  

Most of us are natural skeptics. The Bible is filled with illustrations of skeptics. In the Gospel of John chapter 11, 

(1)  Lazarus died in the town of Bethany while Jesus was beyond the Jordan River.

(2)  Mary and Martha, sisters of Lazarus sent a message to Jesus notifying him that Lazarus was near death.

(3)  Jesus didn’t answer.

(4)  After two days, he told his disciples that they should go back to Bethany.

(5)  His disciples warned him that he could be killed there by the bad guys in Jerusalem.

(6)  He went anyway.

(7)  He was met by Martha, the skeptic, saying: “You’re late and its your fault.  Lazarus is dead!”

Jesus answered Martha’s skepticism assuring her that Lazarus would live again, but her anger kept her from believing.  In the two verses (vv. 25-26) following this skeptical exchange, Jesus uses the word believe three times.  Then, Mary showed up with a bunch of wailing people, probably blowing their noses and shouting their anger.  Jesus was deeply hurt;  indignant and deeply troubled.  In the only time in recorded history it says that “Jesus wept,” the shortest verse in the Bible.

The religious leaders stood on the side expressing their skepticism.  “He healed that blind guy, why couldn’t he keep Lazarus from dying?”

Then Jesus said, “You do something first and then I’ll do something.  Roll the stone away; the one right there in front of the cave!”  Martha, holding her nose, shrieked, “Eew, its gonna stink!”  Jesus answered, “But didn’t I tell you that you will see a wonderful miracle from God IF YOU BELIEVE?”  Holding her nose, Martha directed a bunch of guys to roll the stone away.

Almighty God in the flesh, Jesus of Nazareth, defied nature and called for Lazarus to come forth, and sure enough, out comes this guy wrapped in white stuff (I think) and Jesus ordered the people to unwrap him.  

Guess what?  It was Lazarus.  It was a supernatural act of God, a miracle.  I’ve never seen that happen, but I believe it.  And, I believe him.  When I believed, it was a miracle, supernatural! 

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“Once I was bound by sin’s galling fetters;

Chained like a slave, I struggled in vain.

But I received a glorious freedom

When Jesus broke by fetters in twain.

“Glorious freedom!

Wonderful freedom!

No more in chains of sin I repine!

Jesus, the glorious Emancipator!

Now and forever He shall be mine”

(Haldor Lillenas)

I Know What You’re Thinking

I KNOW WHAT YOU’RE THINKING – one or more of the following questions as it relates to your relationship to Christ:

1. “If I behave myself and be a good little girl (or boy), God will accept me and all will be well.”

“If those who get what God gives them only get it by doing everything they are told to do and filling out all the right forms properly signed, that eliminates personal trust completely and turns the promise [of God] into an ironclad contract! [But] That’s not a holy promise; that’s a business deal.”
Romans 4:13-15 (msg)
“For by grace are you saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:”
Ephesians 2:8 (kjv)

2. “Who? Me? Everybody does it! Are you accusing me? You’re not perfect either so don’t go preaching to me!”

Nope.  Not preaching because “all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;”
Romans 3:23 (kjv)  and,
“I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me.”
Psalms 51:5 (kjv)

3. “I don’t think you know how bad I’ve been; in fact, how bad I am now!”

Well, Abraham was a liar.
Moses, David and the Apostle Paul were murderers.
Jacob was a deceiver.
The Apostle Peter was a denier and a bully.  You know what, through God’s amazing mercy and grace my life was changed, too.

4. “It can’t be that easy.” I agree. It was Jesus that took it all.  And that’s what makes it so hard because you think you need to be punished.  “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him!”
Romans 5:8-9 (niv)

5. “O, so I can just accept and I don’t have to change anything? I’m really not that bad.”  I’ve heard that before. It’s as old as early humanity.  “They tell their spiritual leaders, ‘Don’t bother us with irrelevancies.’ They tell their preachers, ‘Don’t waste our time on impracticalities. Tell us what makes us feel better. Don’t bore us with obsolete religion. That stuff means nothing to us. Quit hounding us with [holy things].’”
Isaiah 30:8-11 (msg)
If you want to deceive yourself or go on living like the devil, if you want to be an inch deep and a mile wide, if you want to have bouts of stupidity, if you want to go from hurt to hate and back again, or if you are arrogant enough to think you can stick your finger in God’s eye, then stay with your old lifestyle.  You’ll be up and down without peace, without real joy; dirty inside. “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.”
2 Corinthians 5:17 (kjv)

6. “You may not believe this, but I tried being a Christian one time and it didn’t work.”

What, were you doing a performance or something? Were you trying to use a can opener?  Is that what you think the Christian life is like, a “trying out” for a job?
“For this is how God loved you: He gave His one and only Son, so that when you believe in him you will not perish but have eternal life. God gave his Son to you not to judge the judge you, but to save you through him.”
John 3:16-17 (nlt-paraphrase)
“If you confess your sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive  your sins and to cleanse you from all wickedness.”
1 John 1:9 (nlt-paraphrase)

7. SO WHEN YOU ABSOLUTELY AND COMPLETELY CONFESS, REPENT AND BELIEVE, He will be right there to love you, support you and give you strength and hope!

“Your own ears will hear him. Right behind you a voice will say, “This is the way you should go,” whether to the right or to the left.”
Isaiah 30:21 (nlt)

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“OUT OF MY BONDAGE, sorrow and night,
Jesus, I come, Jesus, I come;
Into Thy freedom, gladness and light,
Jesus, I come to Thee.
Out of my sickness into Thy health,
Out of my want and into Thy wealth,
Out of my sin and into Thyself,
Jesus, I come to Thee.
Out of my shameful failure and loss,
Jesus, I come, Jesus, I come;
Into the glorious gain of Thy cross,
Jesus, I come to Thee.
Out of earth’s sorrows into Thy balm,
Out of life’s storms and into Thy calm,
Out of distress to jubilant psalm,
Jesus, I come to Thee.
Out of unrest and arrogant pride,
Jesus, I come, Jesus, I come;
Into Thy blessed will to abide,
Jesus, I come to Thee.
Out of myself to dwell in Thy love,
Out of despair into raptures above,
Upward for aye on wings like a dove,
Jesus, I come to Thee.”
(William T. Sleeper)