My God, Because of everything your Son has done for me, I now walk in the power of Your Spiirt. He leads me. He guides me. He teaches me. He reminds me of what You have said. He reminds me of my righteousness. He reminds me that I am your son. More so than that, He is the seal upon my heart and the promise of your strength. And because He dwells in me, I fear no death. Because he is the same Spirit that raised Christ Jesus from the dead. And because He is in me, I have the fullness of life. I am truly alive. I am holy, righteous, just; loved, and continuous under your grace and mercy. Because of your anointing on my life.
Romans 8:36 As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”
So what if a little “tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?” 1 comes our way? God promises suffering for his saints. There is no way around it.
Just in case you are at odds with the rest of the authors of the Bible and only want the “red letter edition”, let us consider the words of Christ himself:
“Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. And a person’s enemies will be those of his own household. Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. 2
While he was still speaking to the people, behold, his mother and his brothers stood outside, asking to speak to him. But he replied to the man who told him, “Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?” And stretching out his hand toward his disciples, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.” 3
Right away, you know that choosing Christ as your God and Savior and Lord might put you at odds with your own flesh and blood. I have had normal visitation with my oldest son since his mother and I separated and divorced when he was about two years old. Today, he is 16 years old. And as much as I have tried to get him into church and share as much as I can with him about the gospel of Jesus Christ, he calls Christianity “a mythology”. My faith puts me at odds with my son who says it is impossible to know if there is life after death. This is the same young man who passionately wants to be in control of his own destiny (until death), make choices for himself, accepts the rewards and consequences of his own actions but for the life of him, cannot figure out why he has always felt like he is in shackles.
And that is just one example in my own life.
And Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How difficult it will be for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!” And the disciples were amazed at his words. But Jesus said to them again, “Children, how difficult it is to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.” And they were exceedingly astonished, and said to him, “Then who can be saved?” Jesus looked at them and said, “With man it is impossible, but not with God. For all things are possible with God.” Peter began to say to him, “See, we have left everything and followed you.” Jesus said, “Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands, for my sake and for the gospel, who will not receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and in the age to come eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last first.” 4
We could forsake everything like Peter and the world will persecute us.
Then he said to them, “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be great earthquakes, and in various places famines and pestilences. And there will be terrors and great signs from heaven. But before all this they will lay their hands on you and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors for my name’s sake. This will be your opportunity to bear witness. Settle it therefore in your minds not to meditate beforehand how to answer, for I will give you a mouth and wisdom, which none of your adversaries will be able to withstand or contradict. You will be delivered up even by parents and brothers and relatives and friends, and some of you they will put to death. You will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But not a hair of your head will perish. By your endurance you will gain your lives. 5
Jesus Christ even promised the “laying on of hands”. My Charismatic friends, that is not the good kind but the the opposite of good–“bar fight with a bunch of drunk dudes at 2am in the morning” kind of laying of hands.
“If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours. But all these things they will do to you on account of my name, because they do not know him who sent me. If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have been guilty of sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin. Whoever hates me hates my Father also. If I had not done among them the works that no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin, but now they have seen and hated both me and my Father. But the word that is written in their Law must be fulfilled: ‘They hated me without a cause.’ 6
The Gospel authors Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John all testify that Christ said these words.
Tribulation, grievous trouble, severe trials, and suffering, is coming for those who love, believe, trust and follow Christ.
Distress, great pain, anxiety, or sorrow; acute physical or mental suffering; affliction and trouble is coming for those who love, believe, trust and follow Christ.
Persecution, judgment, and execution based on one’s faith, is coming for those who love, believe, trust and follow Christ.
Famine, the loss of basic necessities in order to live, is coming for those who love, believe, trust and follow Christ.
Nakedness, that is, the loss of basic material possessions, is coming for those who love, believe, trust and follow Christ.
Sword, terrible violence, is coming for those who love, believe, trust and follow Christ.
And it is so easy to be like David in Psalm 44: on the one hand, only God saves but then immediately yells to God, “you have made us sheep to be slaughtered.”
Because we have all let our own circumstances in life determine our faith in God or even more so than that, let the persecutions and the trials and sufferings of this present time dictate just how much love God has for his children. Remember when Paul said, “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.” 7? He also said in the verse right before that we are indeed children of God and therefore heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ provided that we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him. 8
We can take a loss of a job, a loss of a spouse, a loss of marriage or family, a significant drop in income—whatever is your idol—and let that shape your views on God.
Or even one step further: I was the good kid growing up and I did all the right things. So why is my life a total mess right now? God, why didn’t you give me what I deserve? First, let us be careful that we only live a certain way in order to try to put God into our debt because Romans 4:4-5 says that is not going to happen. Second, we know that the world is completely broken since sin entered into it all the way back to Genesis 3.
More so than that: God gave us everything. Why do I know that? Because God gave us Christ Jesus, who:
He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he opened not his mouth. 9
God gave us Christ to not only live for us and die for us but ascended to the cross in perfect obedience and joy.
Persecution? Trials? Suffering? All of this is to be expected.
But we are not lambs destined to be slaughtered, for Christ is the lamb that was slain.
And because Christ suffered and will receive the reward for His suffering, we are so much more than sheep to be slaughtered.
|In Christ alone my hope is found,||Psalm 16:8–11 I have set the LORD always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken. Therefore my heart is glad, and my whole being rejoices; my flesh also dwells secure. For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol, or let your holy one see corruption. You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.|
|He is my light, my strength, my song||John 12:36 While you have the light, believe in the light, that you may become sons of light.” When Jesus had said these things, he departed and hid himself from them.|
Psalm 118:14 The LORD is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation.
|This Cornerstone, this solid Ground||Psalm 118:22 The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone.|
Matthew 16:13–20 Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” And they said, “Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” Then he strictly charged the disciples to tell no one that he was the Christ.
Ephesians 2:11–22 Therefore remember that at one time you Gentiles in the flesh, called “the uncircumcision” by what is called the circumcision, which is made in the flesh by hands— remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility. And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near. For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father. So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.
|Firm through the fiercest drought and storm.||Matthew 7:24–27 “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.”|
Matthew 14:22–33 Immediately he made the disciples get into the boat and go before him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds. And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, but the boat by this time was a long way from the land, beaten by the waves, for the wind was against them. And in the fourth watch of the night he came to them, walking on the sea. But when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified, and said, “It is a ghost!” and they cried out in fear. But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.” And Peter answered him, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, “Lord, save me.” Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him, saying to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased. And those in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”
|What heights of love, what depths of peace||Ephesians 3:14–21 For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.|
Romans 8:38–39 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
|When fears are stilled, when strivings cease||Mark 4:39 And he awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm.|
Matthew 11:29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.
|My Comforter, my All in All||Isaiah 66:13 As one whom his mother comforts, so I will comfort you; you shall be comforted in Jerusalem.|
1 Corinthians 15:28 When all things are subjected to him, then the Son himself will also be subjected to him who put all things in subjection under him, that God may be all in all.
|Here in the love of Christ I stand.||Romans 5:2 Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God.|
Philippians 4:1 Therefore, my brothers, whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm thus in the Lord, my beloved.
1 Thessalonians 3:8 For now we live, if you are standing fast in the Lord.
|In Christ alone! - who took on flesh,||John 1:14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.|
|Fullness of God in helpless babe.||Luke 2:12 And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.”|
|This gift of love and righteousness,||Psalm 85:10 Steadfast love and faithfulness meet; righteousness and peace kiss each other.|
|Scorned by the ones He came to save||Isaiah 53:1–9 Who has believed what he has heard from us? And to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed? For he grew up before him like a young plant, and like a root out of dry ground; he had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he opened not his mouth. By oppression and judgment he was taken away; and as for his generation, who considered that he was cut off out of the land of the living, stricken for the transgression of my people? And they made his grave with the wicked and with a rich man in his death, although he had done no violence, and there was no deceit in his mouth.|
|Till on that cross as Jesus died,||John 19:28–37 After this, Jesus, knowing that all was now finished, said (to fulfill the Scripture), “I thirst.” A jar full of sour wine stood there, so they put a sponge full of the sour wine on a hyssop branch and held it to his mouth. When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, “It is finished,” and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit. Since it was the day of Preparation, and so that the bodies would not remain on the cross on the Sabbath (for that Sabbath was a high day), the Jews asked Pilate that their legs might be broken and that they might be taken away. So the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first, and of the other who had been crucified with him. But when they came to Jesus and saw that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. But one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and at once there came out blood and water. He who saw it has borne witness—his testimony is true, and he knows that he is telling the truth—that you also may believe. For these things took place that the Scripture might be fulfilled: “Not one of his bones will be broken.” And again another Scripture says, “They will look on him whom they have pierced.”|
|The wrath of God was satisfied||Isaiah 53:10–12 Yet it was the will of the LORD to crush him; he has put him to grief; when his soul makes an offering for guilt, he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days; the will of the LORD shall prosper in his hand. Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied; by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant, make many to be accounted righteous, and he shall bear their iniquities. Therefore I will divide him a portion with the many, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong, because he poured out his soul to death and was numbered with the transgressors; yet he bore the sin of many, and makes intercession for the transgressors.|
|For every sin on Him was laid||2 Corinthians 5:21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.|
|Here in the death of Christ I live.||Romans 8:13 For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.|
|There in the ground His body lay,||John 19:38–42 After these things Joseph of Arimathea, who was a disciple of Jesus, but secretly for fear of the Jews, asked Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus, and Pilate gave him permission. So he came and took away his body. Nicodemus also, who earlier had come to Jesus by night, came bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about seventy-five pounds in weight. So they took the body of Jesus and bound it in linen cloths with the spices, as is the burial custom of the Jews. Now in the place where he was crucified there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb in which no one had yet been laid. So because of the Jewish day of Preparation, since the tomb was close at hand, they laid Jesus there.|
|Light of the world by darkness slain:||Revelation 5:12 saying with a loud voice, “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!”|
|Then bursting forth in glorious day||John 20:11–18 But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb, and as she wept she stooped to look into the tomb. And she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had lain, one at the head and one at the feet. They said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.” Having said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing, but she did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?” Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.” Jesus said to her, “Mary.” She turned and said to him in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means Teacher). Jesus said to her, “Do not cling to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’ ” Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord”—and that he had said these things to her.|
|Up from the grave He rose again||1 Corinthians 15:1–58 Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me. For I am the least of the apostles, unworthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me. Whether then it was I or they, so we preach and so you believed. Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified about God that he raised Christ, whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied. But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ. Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death. For “God has put all things in subjection under his feet.” But when it says, “all things are put in subjection,” it is plain that he is excepted who put all things in subjection under him. When all things are subjected to him, then the Son himself will also be subjected to him who put all things in subjection under him, that God may be all in all. Otherwise, what do people mean by being baptized on behalf of the dead? If the dead are not raised at all, why are people baptized on their behalf? Why are we in danger every hour? I protest, brothers, by my pride in you, which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die every day! What do I gain if, humanly speaking, I fought with beasts at Ephesus? If the dead are not raised, “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.” Do not be deceived: “Bad company ruins good morals.” Wake up from your drunken stupor, as is right, and do not go on sinning. For some have no knowledge of God. I say this to your shame. But someone will ask, “How are the dead raised? With what kind of body do they come?” You foolish person! What you sow does not come to life unless it dies. And what you sow is not the body that is to be, but a bare kernel, perhaps of wheat or of some other grain. But God gives it a body as he has chosen, and to each kind of seed its own body. For not all flesh is the same, but there is one kind for humans, another for animals, another for birds, and another for fish. There are heavenly bodies and earthly bodies, but the glory of the heavenly is of one kind, and the glory of the earthly is of another. There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; for star differs from star in glory. So is it with the resurrection of the dead. What is sown is perishable; what is raised is imperishable. It is sown in dishonor; it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness; it is raised in power. It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body. Thus it is written, “The first man Adam became a living being”; the last Adam became a life-giving spirit. But it is not the spiritual that is first but the natural, and then the spiritual. The first man was from the earth, a man of dust; the second man is from heaven. As was the man of dust, so also are those who are of the dust, and as is the man of heaven, so also are those who are of heaven. Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the man of heaven. I tell you this, brothers: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.” “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.|
|And as He stands in victory||Acts 7:54–60 Now when they heard these things they were enraged, and they ground their teeth at him. But he, full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. And he said, “Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.” But they cried out with a loud voice and stopped their ears and rushed together at him. Then they cast him out of the city and stoned him. And the witnesses laid down their garments at the feet of a young man named Saul. And as they were stoning Stephen, he called out, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” And falling to his knees he cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” And when he had said this, he fell asleep.|
|Sin's curse has lost its grip on me,||Romans 5:12–6:14 Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned— for sin indeed was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not counted where there is no law. Yet death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those whose sinning was not like the transgression of Adam, who was a type of the one who was to come. But the free gift is not like the trespass. For if many died through one man’s trespass, much more have the grace of God and the free gift by the grace of that one man Jesus Christ abounded for many. And the free gift is not like the result of that one man’s sin. For the judgment following one trespass brought condemnation, but the free gift following many trespasses brought justification. For if, because of one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ. Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men. For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous. Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. For one who has died has been set free from sin. Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus. Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.|
|For I am His and He is mine||Song of Solomon 2:16a My beloved is mine, and I am his;|
|Bought with the precious blood of Christ||1 Peter 1:13–21 Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” And if you call on him as Father who judges impartially according to each one’s deeds, conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile, knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot. He was foreknown before the foundation of the world but was made manifest in the last times for the sake of you who through him are believers in God, who raised him from the dead and gave him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God.|
|No guilt in life, no fear in death,||Romans 8:1 There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.|
1 Corinthians 15:54–57 When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.” “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
|This is the power of Christ in me||1 Corinthians 1:24 but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.|
|From life's first cry to final breath,||Psalm 22:9–10 Yet you are he who took me from the womb; you made me trust you at my mother’s breasts. On you was I cast from my birth, and from my mother’s womb you have been my God.|
Philippians 1:21 For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.
|Jesus commands my destiny||Romans 8:30 And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.|
|No power of hell, no scheme of man,||Revelation 1:17–18 When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. But he laid his right hand on me, saying, “Fear not, I am the first and the last, and the living one. I died, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades.|
Romans 8:31–37 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.
|Can ever pluck me from His hand||John 10:28–30 I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.”|
|Till He returns or calls me home||2 Timothy 4:1–5 I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.|
|Here in the power of Christ I'll stand.||Philippians 1:27 Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel,|
Though here I love him but little, may this be my portion at last. In this world thou hast given me a beginning, one day it will be perfected in the realm above. Thou hast helped me to see and know Christ, though obscurely, to take him, receive him, to possess him, love him, to bless him in my heart, mouth, life.
– from Christ Alone
The Valley of Vision
Matthew 16:15-19 He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven.
And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”
Your kingdom come
You are God. You are so exalted and so glorious that You have declared Your only begotten Son the King of kings and the Lord of lords 1.
You are God above all of our made-up gods created by our wicked hearts and hands.
You rule and You reign over all creation. There is not one square inch, not one tiny little atom of this universe that You, who is sovereign over all, have not proclaimed and vehemently declared, “Mine!”
You rule over all the heavens and the earth, all nations and all seas, all governments and all leaders, over every city and neighborhood. You rule over all languages, tribes and people groups.
You rule over our wills, our minds, our hearts, our spirits, our feelings and our beliefs.
Therefore, You are exalted above all.
Your kingdom come and it will advance no matter what. The Church is built upon Christ as our Solid Rock and not even the gates of hell can contain your Bride. 2
Your kingdom expands and advances, all because of Your sovereign will through Your Son’s violent death upon that cross by the power of Your Spirit, the call goes forth: that there is the only One True God who passionately, continuously, relentlessly, lovingly pursues every single person who continues to this day to breath Your air. And we, indwelled with Your Holy Spirit, have been commissioned as heralds—princes and princesses of the great King—to the world proclaiming these things:
To the wicked, You will give Your righteousness.
To the fallen, You lift to restoration.
To the captives, You hold the keys to death and Hell, proclaim freedom and set the captives free. 3
To the blind, Your truth shines brighter than the sun and makes all things as they are—all the more radiant and more beautiful—and you will let them see Your glory.
To the deaf, never have our ears heard sweeter melodies and lovelier whispers.
To the dead, You bring the true life, the fullness of joy and pleasures evermore.
All that You have asked of is that we trust in You.
“There is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is Sovereign over all, does not cry: ‘Mine!’”
– Abraham Kuyper
Mark 10:28-31 Peter began to say to him, “See, we have left everything and followed you.” Jesus said, “Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands, for my sake and for the gospel, who will not receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and in the age to come eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last first.”
- If we believe and trust in Christ, what is our reward?
- Will we get our reward here?
- What shall we thank God for? (See Luke 10:17-20)
My God, I have been crushed and discarded a hundred times. But, I have warred against you thousand more. Yet, you sent your Son to live and die for me. And now I live for you. I will never understand why you saved me, but I only know that because I have sin much I have been forgiven much. Now I know you let me sit at your table, when I should been condemned for treason. You knew I was an enemy, and you then declared me as your friend. My God, remind me always that, I do not do battle against prisoners of war, but against the rulers who imprisoned them. Give me your almighty strength, and your invincible armour, and let me help you set the captives free. In your Son’s name I pray. Amen.
And here is love: Romans 8:35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?
I am not here to try to define for you what each of these circumstances means. I am 43 years old who lives in the Bible Belt of the United States and have been a believer for a quarter of my life. Because of God’s goodness and sovereignty, He determined when I lived and where I lived. 1 So my life experiences and the full range of possible circumstances are so different compared to someone living in China or Sudan or someone who had lived 50 years ago or even 50,000 years ago that I cannot possibly sit here and define what each of these things means because they might say something different to you.
And you know what, the author Paul didn’t get bogged down in those definitions either. The Apostle Paul, who went from arresting and executing Christians because they were Christians to becoming a man being called by God to be an apostle to the Gentiles (non-Jewish) and oh yes, write a few books for the Bible. But because of his faith and his fervency for doing what the Lord Jesus Christ told him (and you and me) to do, Paul was stoned (and left for dead), arrested, imprisoned, shipwrecked (consequently bitten by a snake), under house arrest and finally beheaded at the execution of the Roman government.
So tribulation and distress and persecution and famine and nakedness and danger and sword look very different to him than it does to you or me. And yet just the same as Paul, we are all commissioned by Christ to go and proclaim the gospel to the end of the earth. And because we Christians do believe in God and trust in God, and proclaim His gospel, we might experience tribulation and distress—not exactly like him for most of us but distress just the same.
But I can tell you one thing: nothing of those things matter—not in the sheer comparison of the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Now, the Lord’s love is strong and powerful and mighty and tender and never-ending and continuously gracious and kind and slow to anger. But we might hear these words, and because of the past hurt and trauma and broken hearts, we tend to think maybe that the Lord’s love is strong, but it is not infinitely strong. Each of us can be fooled into thinking that while the Lord’s love is tender, he might not care about what I went through because I have been hurt too bad and he didn’t stop it from happening. We might hear the Lord’s love is never-ending but why is it when I go my own way and do my own thing, God seems to be so far away from me. Or even better yet, when I did everything that God asked me to do, bad stuff keeps happening to me.
I am here to advise and encourage you saints to live by faith in the Son of God who loved us, gave up his life for us, and more importantly, saved by God the Father who does not lose his children. I don’t care what happens, God the Perfect Father in heaven is not in the business of losing his kids.
Jesus answered them, “I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in my Father’s name bear witness about me, but you do not believe because you are not among my sheep. My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.” 2
There are two distinctions: the unbeliever and the believer. The unbeliever does not believe because they do not follow Christ. “Well,” you might say, “if they could believe later on, would they then belong to Him?” Paul goes on to say in Romans 10:
But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim); because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.” For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?” So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ. 3
Hence, the importance of proclaiming the gospel so that they might believe and confess.
But ah, the believer who does confess Jesus Christ is Lord and lives accordingly? That person belongs to Christ, and God marked by the seal of the Holy Spirit forever and ever.
You might say, “What about the ones who said the sinner’s prayer when they were younger and went to church all of their lives but yet, fell away from the faith.” No matter how the world so badly wants to make all the religions the same, we cannot make the same mistake of lumping Christianity in with Judaism or Isalm or Buddhism. You can be a non-practicing Jew. You can be a non-practicing Muslim or Buddhist. But according to the Biblical tenants of the Christian faith, there is no such thing as a non-practicing Christian. You cannot. The two words “non-practicing” and “Christian” are contradictory of terms. You either or. Or you are not. There is no in-between. There is no neutral ground when it comes to proclaiming Christ as your own.
Let me contend one possibility: is it possible that even though they experienced God but their hearts was not changed by God. It happened to Nebuchadnezzar. Daniel had the power of God to not only know what Nebuchadnezzar’s dream but actually interpret it. Nebuchadnezzar has a falling out acknowledging logically who God is but then immediately and blasphemously erects a golden statue to be worshipped. 4 “But I saw them speak in tongues and give prophecies and cast out demons.” The author of Hebrews states that one can taste the power of the Holy Spirit and yet fall away from God. We know this to be true because Christ himself declared those who would defend themselves by the works they did in his name as “workers of lawlessness” and they would not even enter the kingdom of God.
And I cannot begin to judge the heart for only God can see and judge the heart.
But those of you are reading these words: you see your heart, at least in part. You would know your thoughts if you took a moment to be completely honest with yourself if you are not honest with anybody else.
What if you and I just took one minute to dwell and thought through would my heart looked and what kind of thoughts went through my head if there were some technology that put it on display to the world. That’s a frightening concept, isn’t it? And some of you, upon thinking this, stop examining your heart and mind because it was too scary—there was too much wickedness and pain and torment.
God has this power of seeing our hearts. 5 And God is real. And God continually sees your heart and mind. He cannot stop knowing your heart, and he cannot stop paying attention to your heart. God only actively knows our hearts, not passively. To do otherwise makes Him not God because He is all-knowing. He is omniscient.
What’s your heart reaction? What’s your feeling about what I just said?
There will be some who disbelieve: you might wall up, go invulnerable, and try to shield your heart away from these hard truths. You might have contempt for these words here and give a thousand excuses trying in a feeble attempt to suppress your knowledge of the just and holy God—just as the Bible said you would do. 6 Yet, there is a cure for your hard heart, and it is not doing better, or start going to church or start reading the Bible or not cheat on your taxes or not scream at your spouse. It is putting your faith and trust in Jesus Christ. Trusting Him and trusting his words which are the Bible. 7
There will be some who do believe but who might have doubt about God: You might say things “I believe in God, but some of the things I read are hard to believe.” My friend, you might be in good company. Let us look at what Peter says about the writings of Paul in 2 Peter 3:
Therefore, beloved, since you are waiting for these, be diligent to be found by him without spot or blemish, and at peace. And count the patience of our Lord as salvation, just as our beloved brother Paul also wrote to you according to the wisdom given him, as he does in all his letters when he speaks in them of these matters. There are some things in them that are hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other Scriptures. You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, take care that you are not carried away with the error of lawless people and lose your own stability. But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen. 8
Peter even says that Scripture is hard to understand, so the leader of the Apostles of Christ gets what you are saying. But the solution is not to dismiss the word of God and not ever to engage with the Scriptures again nor should we “make it up” as we go along but rather do as the Apostle Peter instructs us, “grow in grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” How do we do that? Start by praying to God because when you believed, God the Father has given you the Holy Spirit, who is God himself, of whom Jesus said, “will bring to remembrance of everything I have said.” 9 and of whom Paul said, “Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God.” 10
And there are some of you who feel your faith is so little. You even know the words of Jesus when he keeps telling his disciples “Oh, ye of little faith.” But do you not know that even the saints with the tiniest faiths can move a mountain, see people healed and saved and made whole. For you see, it is not size nor depth nor quantity of the faith that you possess but rather the object of your faith that is Christ Jesus, who alone is mighty to save. Nineteenth-century Baptist pastor, Charles Spurgeon once said, “The gulf between the unbeliever and the ones with the smallest faith is abysmally infinite. However, there is no gap between the ones with the smallest faith and the arms and the heart of the loving Savior.” See how Christ did not correct nor rebuked the father who cried out, “I believe! Help my unbelief!”. Christ only responded in love and healed his son. 11
Now, to all the children of God–to those with any amount of faith will do: God has captured your hearts! The Triune God—Father, Son, and Holy Ghost—now dwells in you. Because of this, you are now able to walk in his statutes and obey his commands. Now, because of everything Christ has done from the sovereign grace of the Father by the power of the Holy Spirit, you get to go out and proclaim the amazingly good news that there is the God who loves mightily and is the only ones to save you from your sins and torment. Christians, we get to live by faith in the Son of God who loved us and gave himself up for us.
And it is to you, the saints living right now who Jesus adamantly proclaims that you are greater than John the Baptist 12 because you believe and know these things:
One, you know that you were born a sinner and your sins abound.
Two, you trust in the work of Jesus upon that cross and His resurrection from the grave.
Three, because you trust Christ, your sins are forgiven. Why? His grace abounds all the more.
Listen here: and God didn’t lose any of the saints in the Bible. He did not lose any of this kids. And you are the not the exception no matter how much suffering we experience. God promises we will suffer for his namesake, but that suffering will not compare to the glory that will be revealed to us. Tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword can do its worst. My friends, during our worst times, we might fall to the temptation of giving up or even deny Christ. Perhaps even three times:
Simon Peter followed Jesus, and so did another disciple. Since that disciple was known to the high priest, he entered with Jesus into the courtyard of the high priest, but Peter stood outside at the door. So the other disciple, who was known to the high priest, went out and spoke to the servant girl who kept watch at the door, and brought Peter in. The servant girl at the door said to Peter, “You also are not one of this man’s disciples, are you?” He said, “I am not.” Now the servants and officers had made a charcoal fire, because it was cold, and they were standing and warming themselves. Peter also was with them, standing and warming himself. 13 Now Simon Peter was standing and warming himself. So they said to him, “You also are not one of his disciples, are you?” He denied it and said, “I am not.” One of the servants of the high priest, a relative of the man whose ear Peter had cut off, asked, “Did I not see you in the garden with him?” Peter again denied it, and at once a rooster crowed. 14
To deny Christ is a sin. Christ said it himself: So everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven, but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven. 15
How do we reconcile this?
There are some who give up once and fall away until their last breath. It can be confirmed then that they only tasted the power of the Holy Spirit as a religious or emotional conversion and nothing more. 16.
Alongside of all the testimonies of the martyrs of our faith, we must also read the accounts of those Christians who, under the heaviest persecution, buckled, gave in, denied Christ to save their lives or the life of someone they love. But what the world would count as a failure, their hearts grieved, kept their faith in God and turn back to the community they once loved.
We reconcile this by Christ alone. Peter denies Christ three times. How does Christ respond? By confirming Peter three times:
When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Feed my lambs.” He said to him a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Tend my sheep.” He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” and he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep. Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were young, you used to dress yourself and walk wherever you wanted, but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will dress you and carry you where you do not want to go.” (This he said to show by what kind of death he was to glorify God.) And after saying this he said to him, “Follow me.” 17
Remember when I talked about how tribulation and distress and persecution might look different to one Christian and another? A teenage girl questions Peter and he buckled like a belt to save his own skin.
Yet, Christ is more gracious than our own lack of faith. Christ is more love then when we cannot see past our own circumstances. Christ is more powerful than our weakest moments.
There was a very recent time in my own life that I suffered abuse at the hands of someone claimed to love me. And when that person was no longer in my life, instead of praising God for peace, I instead turned to my own ways and purposefully and intentionally went headlong into sin—giving up God, community, calling and my life. How did God respond? He sent three people after me to speak the truth of God’s amazing love. And with each conversation, I began to once again wholly trust God, repent of all of my sins, and started immediately becoming obedient to His voice.
If you think for one moment that it would be far more loving of God to allow me to bury myself into the depths of sin, then repent of your wrong thinking. That is not love and that is not who God is for God is love.
Instead, know that God sees the heart and welcomes only those who come humbly and lowly back to him. We know this because God is love.
|God of creation|
There at the start
Before the beginning of time
With no point of reference
You spoke to the dark
And fleshed out the wonder of light
|Genesis 1:1–3 In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light.|
Ephesians 1:3–10 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.
Hebrews 11:3 By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible.
|And as You speak|
A hundred billion galaxies are born
In the vapor of Your breath the planets form
If the stars were made to worship so will I
I can see Your heart in everything You’ve made
Every burning star
A signal fire of grace
If creation sings Your praises so will I
|Genesis 1:14–19 And God said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night. And let them be for signs and for seasons, and for days and years, and let them be lights in the expanse of the heavens to give light upon the earth.” And it was so. And God made the two great lights—the greater light to rule the day and the lesser light to rule the night—and the stars. And God set them in the expanse of the heavens to give light on the earth, to rule over the day and over the night, and to separate the light from the darkness. And God saw that it was good. And there was evening and there was morning, the fourth day.|
Psalm 8:3 When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place,
Psalm 136:9 the moon and stars to rule over the night, for his steadfast love endures forever;
Psalm 147:4 He determines the number of the stars; he gives to all of them their names.
Exodus 13:21–22 And the LORD went before them by day in a pillar of cloud to lead them along the way, and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, that they might travel by day and by night. The pillar of cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night did not depart from before the people.
|God of Your promise|
You don’t speak in vain
No syllable empty or void
For once You have spoken
All nature and science
Follow the sound of Your voice
|Isaiah 55:10–11 “For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return there but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.|
Exodus 9:33 So Moses went out of the city from Pharaoh and stretched out his hands to the LORD, and the thunder and the hail ceased, and the rain no longer poured upon the earth.
Genesis 7:4 For in seven days I will send rain on the earth forty days and forty nights, and every living thing that I have made I will blot out from the face of the ground.”
Job 37:6 For to the snow he says, ‘Fall on the earth,’ likewise to the downpour, his mighty downpour.
Matthew 14:32 And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased.
Matthew 8:26 And he said to them, “Why are you afraid, O you of little faith?” Then he rose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm.
Psalm 107:29 He made the storm be still, and the waves of the sea were hushed.
Mark 4:39 And he awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm.
1 Kings 18:1 After many days the word of the LORD came to Elijah, in the third year, saying, “Go, show yourself to Ahab, and I will send rain upon the earth.”
Matthew 5:45 so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.
|And as You speak|
A hundred billion creatures catch Your breath
Evolving in pursuit of what You said
If it all reveals Your nature so will I
I can see Your heart in everything You say
Every painted sky
A canvas of Your grace
If creation still obeys You so will I
So will I
|Genesis 1:20–25 And God said, “Let the waters swarm with swarms of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the expanse of the heavens.” So God created the great sea creatures and every living creature that moves, with which the waters swarm, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. And God blessed them, saying, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth.” And there was evening and there was morning, the fifth day. And God said, “Let the earth bring forth living creatures according to their kinds—livestock and creeping things and beasts of the earth according to their kinds.” And it was so. And God made the beasts of the earth according to their kinds and the livestock according to their kinds, and everything that creeps on the ground according to its kind. And God saw that it was good.|
Genesis 7:9 two and two, male and female, went into the ark with Noah, as God had commanded Noah.
1 Kings 17:4–6 You shall drink from the brook, and I have commanded the ravens to feed you there.” So he went and did according to the word of the LORD. He went and lived by the brook Cherith that is east of the Jordan. And the ravens brought him bread and meat in the morning, and bread and meat in the evening, and he drank from the brook.
|If the stars were made to worship so will I|
If the mountains bow in reverence so will I
If the oceans roar Your greatness so will I
For if everything exists to lift You high so will I
If the wind goes where You send it so will I
If the rocks cry out in silence so will I
If the sum of all our praises still falls shy
Then we’ll sing again a hundred billion times
Praise the LORD!
Praise the LORD from the heavens;
praise him in the heights!
Praise him, all his angels;
praise him, all his hosts!
Praise him, sun and moon,
praise him, all you shining stars!
Praise him, you highest heavens,
and you waters above the heavens!
Let them praise the name of the LORD!
For he commanded and they were created.
And he established them forever and ever;
he gave a decree, and it shall not pass away.
Praise the LORD from the earth,
you great sea creatures and all deeps,
fire and hail, snow and mist,
stormy wind fulfilling his word!
Mountains and all hills,
fruit trees and all cedars!
Beasts and all livestock,
creeping things and flying birds!
Kings of the earth and all peoples,
princes and all rulers of the earth!
Young men and maidens together,
old men and children!
Let them praise the name of the LORD,
for his name alone is exalted;
his majesty is above earth and heaven.
He has raised up a horn for his people,
praise for all his saints,
for the people of Israel who are near to him.
Praise the LORD!
|And as You speak|
A hundred billion failures disappear
Where You lost Your life so I could find it here
If You left the grave behind You so will I
I can see Your heart in everything You’ve done
Every part designed in a work of art called love
If You gladly chose surrender so will I
I can see Your heart
Eight billion different ways
Every precious one
A child You died to save
If You gave Your life to love them so will I
|Romans 6 What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. For one who has died has been set free from sin. Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus. Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace. What then? Are we to sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means! Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness? But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness. I am speaking in human terms, because of your natural limitations. For just as you once presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness leading to sanctification. For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. But what fruit were you getting at that time from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.|
John 3:16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.
|Like You would again a hundred billion times|
But what measure could amount to Your desire
You’re the One who never leaves the one behind
|Hebrews 9:27–28 And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment, so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him.|
Matthew 18:12–14 What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them has gone astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine on the mountains and go in search of the one that went astray? And if he finds it, truly, I say to you, he rejoices over it more than over the ninety-nine that never went astray. So it is not the will of my Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish.
I am ready to flee from myself because of my abominations; Yet thou dost not abhor me but hast devised means for my return to thee, and that, by thy Son who died to give me life.
– from The Name of Jesus
The Valley of Vision