For Freedom.

For freedom Christ has set us free;
stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.
-Gal. 5:1

No amount of self hate, regret, past mistakes, condemnation, guilt, or shame can take away our freedom. There is NO ulterior motif to the freedom that Christ has given us. Standing firm in the promise of His word will extinguish the fiery darts of the enemy.

For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry,“Abba! Father!”
Romans 8:15

When I am tempted to despair over the man I was and the people I hurt, these promises ring true. God gave us a spirit of adoption. He set us free and we can stand firm in that freedom. The very offense that brought you to the cross has been redeemed and forgiven. And shame, sorrow, and past regrets are lifted.

Fear not; you will no longer live in shame.
Don’t be afraid; there is no more disgrace for you.
You will no longer remember the shame of your youth
and the sorrows of widowhood.
For your Creator will be your husband;
the Lord of Heaven’s Armies is his name!
He is your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel,
the God of all the earth.
Isaiah 64:4,5

And there is NO CONDEMNATION IN HIM. He looks upon us and says
“Who stands to accuse you? Go and sin no more.”


Father,

Continue to wreck me with this truth. You are the true artist, and you have interwoven me into a story you have been writing since Creation. Thank you for your redemption. Thank you for your perfect love that casts out fear. Thank you for the freedom that is found in  your forgiveness.

YOU PAID THE PRICE. NOW I AM FINALLY FREE.

BEAUTIFULLY BROKEN

The scene had been set.
The undesirable sinner walked toward the home of her prestigious accusers.
The Carpenter teaching the ways of the Father speaks to the prominent men.
Laughing, learning, teaching, hearing.
Then all voices stand silent at the unpredicted staggering sight before them,
The woman walks into the room…

The weight of shame prevented her from lifting her eyes from the ground.
She looked not to anyone…but only to the One she sought.
Walking into the room she sees the One who forgives,
Standing with the men who denounce her very life.

Shame couldn’t speak for her.
Fear melted away.
Regret faded.
She looked upon His face.

There He sits.
The Carpenter.
The Nazarene.
The Prophet.
Messiah.

Falling to his feet at the sight of his resplendent eyes
She responds with bountiful amount of tears.
Wetting the feet of the only man who has the power to condemn or forgive.
The weight of seeking salvation through worldly means had broken her.
She wets the feet of her newly found Messiah with sorrowing tears.

Weeping.
Uncontrollable lamentation.
She couldn’t speak.
But He knew her thoughts.
He knew her every sin.
Her every avenue of countless abuses of grace.

She unravels her hair,
Wiping the feet of the One who Forgives,
as he wiped away her veil of shame.

Knowing her every thought.
Looking upon her with nothing but compassion in his eyes
and forgiveness in his voice
He calls to her accusers.

“Do you not see? With much forgiveness comes much love.”

Breaking an alabaster jar
She pours the ointment on his feet
Beautifully broken, pouring everything she owned
On the feet of the One who saves.

The sweet smell of redemption filled the room.
The sweet smell of forgiveness that could only come from the Nazarene.
Her indictors could not escape the nectarous scent
filling the room and the nostrils of the pious.

“Your sins are forgiven. Your faith has saved you. Go in peace.”

Shame melts at the sight of our savior.
Like wax before a hot sun.
Shame is interrupted.
A slave no more to the chains of the past.
Redefined by our Savior and given redemption.
Go in peace the mighty savior said.
Even before her enemies a banqueting table was set.
Beautifully broken she stood and feared not
For the Lord was with her.

She’s set free.


O, To Be An Alabaster Jar

I long to have a passion for Jesus that resonates Him and Him alone.
Despondency and fear are a double edged sword used by the enemy that easily masks and tears away at that desire, and anyone who has ever experienced the weight of fear knows that it is a damaging emotion that quickly and effectively disrupts daily acts of worship and confuses Joy.

This is why the fight for Joy is so important.
Fighting fear is no fun, and quite impossible without Jesus working in our lives.
In fighting despondency and anxiety, Christ must be the focus.

“God…I screwed up…I won’t have a second chance to love and be loved….I’m used….I’m no good for your kingdom…I’m lonely…I’ll never measure up…”

Lies.

God does not measure you by your past mistakes or current struggles.
God measures you by your desire to know Him and BE KNOWN by Him.
God measures you by the grace He has already freely provided.

If you are truly His, He is perfecting love in you, and casting out fear (1 John 4:18).
If we are being perfected in love through Jesus then much like the darkness retreats at the first sign of light, fear retreats at the first sign of perfect love.

Fight fear.
Fight shame.
Fight anxiety.
Fight despondency.
Jesus is on our side.
He is our advocate.
And He is powerful.
He is Mighty.
He Chose you.
He has made you new.
He is CONTINUING to make you new.
Press hard into His promises.


O, To Be An Alabaster Jar

O, to rejoice in brokenness
to be broken before your feet
weak to men alive in You

Can such sacrifice exist?
How can one repay?
How could such love exist?

O, to rejoice in brokenness
to be broken before your feet
dead to man alive in You

Take my sacrifice Lord
it’s all I can offer
an alabaster jar broken before you

O, how I long to wash your feet with all I own
how I long to wash your feet with all I am.

“I will bow my life…
at your feet…at your feet.
My lips…so lost for words….
will kiss your feet…kiss your feet.”

You are more.
In your presence shame melts away
You are more.
In your presence
a broken heart and contrite spirit
Is more than gold.

My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit;
a broken and contrite heart
you, God, will not despise.

O, to rejoice in brokenness
to be broken before your feet
weak to men alive in You

Can such sacrifice exist?
How can one repay?
How could such love exist?

Take my sacrifice, O God.


Matthew 26:6-13

While Jesus was in Bethany in the home of Simon the Leper, a woman came to him with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, which she poured on his head as he was reclining at the table.

When the disciples saw this, they were indignant. “Why this waste?” they asked. “This perfume could have been sold at a high price and the money given to the poor.”

Aware of this, Jesus said to them, “Why are you bothering this woman? She has done a beautiful thing to me. The poor you will always have with you, but you will not always have me. When she poured this perfume on my body, she did it to prepare me for burial. Truly I tell you, wherever this gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her.”

Luke 7:37-50

One of the Pharisees asked him to eat with him, and he went into the Pharisee’s house and reclined at the table. And behold, a woman of the city, who was a sinner, when she learned that he was reclining at table in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster flask of ointment, and standing behind him at his feet, weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears and wiped them with the hair of her head and kissed his feet and anointed them with the ointment. Now when the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would have known who and what sort of woman this is who is touching him, for she is a sinner.” And Jesus answering said to him, “Simon, I have something to say to you.” And he answered, “Say it, Teacher.”

“A certain moneylender had two debtors. One owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. When they could not pay, he cancelled the debt of both. Now which of them will love him more?” Simon answered, “The one, I suppose, for whom he cancelled the larger debt.” And he said to him, “You have judged rightly.” Then turning toward the woman he said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave me no water for my feet, but she has wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You gave me no kiss, but from the time I came in she has not ceased to kiss my feet. You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with ointment. Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven—for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little.” And he said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.” Then those who were at table with him began to say among themselves, “Who is this, who even forgives sins?” And he said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”

New Year’s Resolution 1: Drawing Near with Confidence to the Throne of Grace

Wow! 2016 is here! My how time flies.
Typically I don’t do the whole new year’s resolution thing, but I read a post by The Rend Collective a few weeks ago that went like this:

So tempting to make self-improvement our new year’s resolution but what we need is SELF-SACRIFICE. Don’t give up a habit- give up your heart.

This is an incredibly foreign concept in a nation/society where self-sacrifice is looked down upon.  Self-Sacrifice must mean you are a weak person. Indeed through the worlds eyes, it does make you a weak person, but friend, we are not of this world if you are following Jesus (Philippians 4:20-21).

So…the question remains:

Where does self-sacrifice begin?

Self-sacrifice begins with admitting your need for God and His grace. If you do not start here then your “sacrifice” is selfish. It is no more than a philanthropic effort (which can be done without the work of Jesus). Begin with Jesus and admit your need for Him! It all begins with drawing near to the throne of Grace!

Hebrews 4:14-16

Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

Only from the overflow of your heart will self-sacrifice truly take place. And only through admitting your need for Jesus will you be able to sacrifice from that overflow.

It will take a great deal of humility to do this, but Jesus will give it to you. If you fail, it’s ok. His mercies are new every day. Get back up and try again. He will not leave you or forsake you.

My encouragement to you is to take 2016 and not make self-improvement your goal. That is hollow, and remember, this earth and our bodies are temporary dwelling places. Make self-sacrifice your goal and the benefits will be ETERNAL not TEMPORAL.

May God richly bless each of you this new year. I’m excited to walk alongside all of you as my brothers and sisters. Let’s continue to point each other to Jesus because Jesus is better!

Love,

Matt

The Art of Celebration

Blame.
Shame.
Fear.
Guilt.
Condemnation.

They do not define you.
They do not control you.
They are not your identity.

“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 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. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
-Matthew 11:28-30

Those are the words of Jesus.

Reject shame.
Reject fear.
Reject guilt.
Reject Condemnation.

you are free. you are free. you are free.

JESUS IS YOUR IDENTITY. CLING TO HIM. PRESS HARD INTO JESUS.

never forget…

“…we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”
-Hebrews 4:14-16

That is our Jesus.
Hold Fast.
He knows.
He sympathizes.
Be confident.
Draw near to Jesus.
He will give you Mercy and Grace and rest for your soul.

“This is the art of celebration, Knowing we are free from Condemnation. O, praise the one, praise the one, who made an end to all my sin.”