In Matthew 11:12 we read “ From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and the violent take it by force.” For a long time, I did not understand this verse. I would read it, scratch my head and ask God “What in the world are you talking about?” The Bible says to ask and you will receive, so one day while I was driving He showed me what this verse meant.
I was driving up the road in my little pickup when I met a truck pulling an open-sided trailer hauling 10 or 12 cars. As the air went over, under, and around these cars, a forceful turbulence was created. As I encountered this turbulent air, it was like a violent force that almost stopped my pickup. To continue on my way I had to become more forceful than this wall of invisible air. So I grabbed another gear, stepped on the gas, and powered through the violence.
This is the lesson I learned. The kingdom of heaven and God’s children have always faced violent attacks from Satanic forces. These attacks have and will increase as the Great Day of the Lord draws nearer. God’s people must not be fooled by those who tell us we should be tolerant and compromising. Like David, we must fill our pockets with stones and like Jesus, we must prepare to turn some tables over.
Jesus told us in this world we would face turbulence. But we need not be afraid, He has overcome the world. Satan will continue to attack us with violence and force. But with God, we will gain the victory and He will trample down the enemy. So when the enemy comes at us with a wall of turbulence and trouble, don’t let it slow you down. Lean into it, grab another gear, step on the gas, and go.
It occurs to me that “nothing”, is a very important factor in the Christian life. That may sound strange, but it is true. You see the essence of “nothing” plays an important part in our worship of Jesus. We even sing about it in church when we sing; “What can wash away my sin? Nothing but the blood of Jesus.”
There is a lot of nothing in the Bible that reveals the Amazing Grace of God’s love. Starting with the fact that in eternity there are only two destinations. One is Heaven the other is Hell. You’ve done nothing to deserve a home in heaven and nothing you can do will rescue you from hell. The only hope you have is based on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and His righteousness. If you have eternal life it is because of nothing you have done and everything that Jesus is.
A question is asked in Romans 8, “What can separate us from the love of Christ? Can trouble, hardship, persecution, hunger, poverty, danger, or death? No, in all these things we have complete victory! For I am certain that nothing can separate us from His love: not death nor life, nor angels nor other heavenly powers, nothing in the present nor the future, nothing in the world above nor the world below — there is absolutely nothing in all creation that will ever be able to separate us from the love of God which is ours through Christ Jesus our Lord.”
The greatest nothing of all was found that Sunday morning when the ladies went to the tomb to anoint the dead body of Jesus. The stone was rolled away and when they looked inside, they saw Nothing! He was not there. He is alive! He has defeated death, hell, and the grave. Nothing could hold Him down. Nothing can rise against Him and prosper. Nothing is more powerful than God and nothing is more beautiful than His Majesty. On Christ the solid Rock I stand; all other ground is sinking sand. Nothing is as solid as my Jesus.
Blessed are the poor in spirit because you realize that God has chosen you to be rich in faith. Your poverty will be rewarded with the Kingdom of Heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn over their sinfulness because Godly sorrow brings repentance. Repentance leads to Salvation that leaves no regrets.
Blessed are the meek. Your gentle power comes from the knowledge that you can do anything through Christ who gives you strength.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness. You know that the righteousness of God is the only thing that will bring justice to this world. You have this promise, one day God will satisfy your hunger.
Blessed are the merciful. Your life is full of compassion, kindness and humility. You forgive as quickly and completely as Jesus forgave you. Because you show mercy, you will receive mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart. Your desire is to live a life free from sin. In order to serve God, You store His Word in your heart. Because of the purity of your heart, you will draw near to God and He will draw near to you.
Blessed are the peacemakers. You have let the peace of God rule in your heart so you will be known as a child of God.
You are blessed when you are persecuted for righteousness’ sake. This world is not your home. The people who are at home in this world will always hate God’s servants. In this world you will be abused and harassed. People will always report evil lies about you. However through it all you can find joy and great happiness because yours is the Kingdom of Heaven. You are truly blessed because great is your reward in Heaven.
He counted them once, then he counted them again. He knew he had a hundred sheep but he could only count ninety-nine. So he counted again and yes, one was lost. It was just one sheep, but these were his sheep. He knew each one by name and knew each one by sight. Now most of them are safe, but one was lost.
Ninety-nine sheep are safe. Only one is missing. Outside it is cold and dark. The wolves are howling. It is dangerous to go out. Some shepherds would say, “ I have ninety-nine that are safe, I won’t concern myself with the one that is lost.” But not the Good Shepherd. He knows his sheep by name and his heart trembles for the one that is lost .
Carrying a rod for protection and a staff to rescue his sheep, he goes out into the cold dangerous darkness. He searches until he finds his lost sheep. Cast into the briars and brambles, the frightened sheep is torn and bloodied. Using his staff the shepherd draws the lost one to safety. Anointing him with oil and binding his wounds the shepherd now sings with joy because he has found the one that was lost.
Jesus, my Lord, is the Good Shepherd. Many of His children are safe in the fold. But some have wandered away. Maybe you have been cast into the briars and brambles of addiction. Or maybe you are just confused, stumbling around in the darkness, endangered by the worldly wolves. But Jesus, the Lover of your soul, is heartbroken because you are not safe. He longs to once again hold the one who is lost.
Listen to my words all who are sick and lonely, afraid of the dangerous darkness that surrounds you. The Savior is calling out your name if you will just be still and listen. The Holy Spirit is the rod that will protect you and the staff that will rescue you. Jesus is the Seeker of the one that is lost. He will draw you close, bind your wounds, and anoint you with healing oil.
Trust in this promise from Ezekiel 34:15-16; “I will feed My flock, and I will make them lie down,” says the Lord GOD. “I will seek what was lost and bring back what was driven away, bind up the broken and strengthen what was sick .”
Jesus asked His disciples this question, “Who do men say that I am?” His followers replied by telling Him about the many different opinions people had about Him. He then asked, “But who do you say that I am?” It was Peter, the bold one, who spoke up and said, “You are the Messiah, the Son of God.” Jesus told Peter, “Peter you are blessed, you know this because you listen to God and not man.”
From religion to religion today, there are many different opinions about who Jesus is. Unfortunately, this is also true inside most mainstream Christian churches. Whether in Baptist, Methodist or any other denomination, from pew to pew you will find that people have different thoughts about who Jesus is. This has come about because so many preachers are writing sermons to please men instead of delivering messages that are inspired by the Holy Spirit.
The truth about Jesus is not found in the social and prosperity gospels that false prophets preach. The truth about Jesus was seen when He took a basin of water and washed the feet of His disciples. The truth about Jesus was revealed when they nailed Him to the cross and He said to the man with the hammer, “ I forgive you”. The truth about Jesus saturates an empty tomb because He is not there, He is risen and now He sits at the right hand of the Father. The ultimate truth about Jesus was given to us when we were commanded to “Take up your cross and follow Him.”
Who is Jesus to you? Do you know him as the only begotten Son of God. Do you recognize Him as the second person of the Holy Trinity? Do you believe that He is the only hope of salvation? Who is Jesus? He is the one who can take your addiction and toss it as far away as the East is from the west. He is the one who can wash away your sin, and then toss the dirty wash water into the sea of forgetfulness. He is the maker of all things, the Savior of all men and the giver of all life. That is who my Jesus is.