Day 40 | Remember What He Has Done–the Substitute Lamb

day 40One beautiful example of revival took place twenty years ago, and its story began with one ill-equipped couple, Mark and Gloria Zook.  Ironically, their story began with a call heard only by them.  No one else seemed to hear it, nor to believe that they had heard it.  Mission board after mission board refused to accept their applications, saying they were too old and not healthy enough to be missionaries.  Finally, their home church responded to their call and sent them under their leadership.

Once they began living with the New Guinea tribe, the Zooks spent months chronologically telling the stories of the Old Testament, pointing out all the foreshadowing moments of Christ.  When they got to the part of Abraham sacrificing Isaac, they ended the day’s storytelling with Isaac on the altar.  They waited to the next day to tell the ending.

The people pondered and discussed what they thought would happen.  Four different men came to Mr. Zook and said, “Abraham was a godly man, so he must obey God.  God promised a savior through Isaac, so Isaac must be spared.  God will send a substitute lamb.”  It was this story that made the connection when the Zooks taught the New Guinea tribe about the crucifixion and resurrection.  They understood that Jesus was the substitute Lamb.  When this truth sank in, something truly amazing happened.  All among the people, various ones began to shout “EE-Taow,” which means, “It is true!  It is very true and good!”  Though normally a reserved people, spontaneous celebration broke out among the people, which lasted for two and a half hours.  They laughed and shouted “EE-Taow” over and over.  They picked up Mr. Zook, the one rejected by mission boards as “too old and too sick” for ministry, and they carried him in celebration on their shoulders.

EE-Taow!  It is true!  The story of Jesus and His love is true!  We may not react in the same way, but we, too, can experience revival!  We may be too reserved to jump up and down, but I at least want you to feel that on the inside.  EE-Taow!  It is true!  And what are we going to do about it?  We can be used to ignite the fires of revival in our country.  As my friend the Reverend Maxie Dunnam says, “It is not great men who change the world, but weak men in the hands of a great God.”  Are you willing to bring your weakness to our great God?  Are you willing to be revived?

I shared this at a women’s retreat last year.  As I spoke, I pictured the scene in New Guinea and felt myself getting emotional and thought I had better end it quickly.  I quickly ended by saying, “EE-Taow!  It’s true!  And what are we going to do about it?”  Then I invited anyone who wanted to pray to come to the hallway to pray with one of the prayer team members.  I watched an eighty-year-old woman hobble over to one of the prayer team members, and fall into her arms.   She was crying and saying over and over, “What are we going to do about it?   What are we going to do about it?”  Eighty years old and still pressing on, wanting to be used, wanting to be revived.

We need to know:  It’s not over till it’s over.  And it’s not over until God says it’s over.  And until that day comes when He calls us home, we should spend all of our best energy doing whatever He calls us to do in reaction to the truth that He lives and He forgives.

Just as Paul prayed for his beloved Ephesian brothers and sisters, so I pray for you, my dear friends, this verse:

 

 I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better.

                                                                                 Ephesians 1:17


Day 39 | Remember What He Has Done–Wore the Thorns

day 39My grandmother was a precious and godly woman. One of her greatest pleasures was growing a yard full of beautiful roses, the majority of which she gave away to others. I remember seeing buckets and buckets of roses in her kitchen, as she prepared to give them away. Only recently I learned that my grandmother went a step further than just being generous. She spent hours removing the thorns of every rose she gave away. She wanted her friends and family to enjoy the beauty without the pain of the roses. She endured all the pricks for them.

As we celebrate—and grieve—the great gift sacrifice of Jesus, we should remember that He took the curse of thorns on His Holy head so we wouldn’t have to.

We find from Genesis 3:18 and Numbers 33:55 that in the Holy Land, the ground was cursed with prickly thorns.
Often, we become aware of thorns in our lives. These may be “thorns of the flesh” like Paul had:

To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.
2 Corinthians 12: 7-9

Do you have thorns to deal with right now? We all will at one point or another in our spiritual journeys. These can be a constant source of irritation or temptation or pain. As Paul discovered when he asked for his “thorn” to be removed, God is enough. God’s power is made perfect in our weak, thorn-filled situations.

We must realize that every thorn allowed in our life is filtered through His great love. Every thorn has already pierced Him before it ever reaches us.

What are we supposed to do with these thorns? Turn to Jesus. He took the curse of thorns on Himself when he allowed the crown of thorns on His holy head. And when the curse is gone, the healing can begin.

The Thorn
by Martha Snell Nicholson


I stood a mendicant (beggar) of God before His royal throne

And begged him for one priceless gift, which I could call my own.

I took the gift from out His hand, but as I would depart

I cried, “But Lord this is a thorn and it has pierced my heart.

This is a strange, a hurtful gift, which Thou hast given me.”

He said, “My child, I give good gifts and gave My best to thee.”

I took it home and though at first the cruel thorn hurt sore,

As long years passed I learned at last to love it more and more.

I learned He never gives a thorn without this added grace,

He takes the thorn to pin aside the veil which hides His face.



Day 38 | Remember What He Has Done–Crushed the Enemy’s Head

 

day 38I once heard a sermon which mapped out the last journeys of Jesus.  Do you know where his last stop was before he entered Jerusalem, which He knew would lead to agony and death?  He went to see his dear friends, Mary and Martha and Lazarus.

 

Why did He want to spend his last days with these three?  Think about where you would want to go if you knew you were about to die.  You would go where you knew you were loved.  Jesus went where He would be loved extravagantly.  And that extravagant love would usher in the resurrection power of the risen Christ.

 

“Six days before the Passover, Jesus arrived at Bethany, where Lazarus lived, whom Jesus had raised from the dead.  Here a dinner was given in Jesus’ honor.  Martha served, while Lazarus was among those reclining at the table with him.  Then Mary took about a pint of pure nard, an expensive perfume; she poured it on Jesus’ feet and wiped his feet with her hair.  And the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.  But one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, who was later to betray him, objected, ‘Why wasn’t this perfume sold and the money given to the poor?  It was worth a year’s wages.’  He did not say this because he cared about the poor but because he was a thief; as keeper of the money bag, he used to help himself to what was put into it. ‘Leave her alone,’ Jesus replied.  ‘It was intended that she should save this perfume for the day of my burial.  You will always have the poor among you, but you will not always have me.’”                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              John 12: 1-12

 

Looking at the above passage, we must ask ourselves what extravagant love looks like.

 

They showed their love for Jesus by welcoming and honoring Him.

 

They showed their love for Jesus in the way they spent their money.

 

They showed their love for Jesus by their willingness to be misunderstood and ridiculed because of Him.

 

They showed their love for Jesus by being willing to serve Him in humility.

 

Mary fell at Jesus’ feet, a sign of respect and awe.  And she ceremonially washed His feet, which was the job of a servant or slave.  Mary wiped His feet with her hair.  In those days a women’s hair was her personal glory.  When Mary let her hair down to wipe His feet she was communicating two things. She was saying, “Lord, I give all my glory to you, for you alone are worthy.”  And she was saying, “I don’t care what others think.  I am willing to appear foolish in expressing my love to my Lord.”  That is extravagant love.

 

Others, also, experienced and enjoyed the fruit of Mary’s extravagant love.  Note that “the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume” (John 12:3).  When we love Jesus in an extravagant way, the overflow of that love spreads to others.

 

Most significantly, we see that Mary showed her love for Jesus by anointing His feet.

 

It was more customary to anoint the head.  In many passages of the Bible, we find that the head was anointed to signify a prophet, like Elijah or Elisha.  And anointing of the head was especially important in anointing a King, like David or Solomon.  But nothing could make Jesus more of a King. He was already King of Kings when He was lying in a manger.  He was worshiped as a King by the shepherds, and the wise men brought him King-worthy gifts.

 

What needed anointing were his feet, for he had a long, painful journey ahead of Him.

 

He had to walk the hill of Calvary.

 

He had to have those anointed feet nailed to a cross.

 

But most importantly, his feet were anointed for burial, because through death, His anointed feet would fulfill the very first prophesy of the coming Messiah.

 

“So the Lord God said to the serpent [Satan, who had tricked Eve], ‘Because you have done this, ‘Cursed are you above all the livestock and all the wild animals!  You will crawl on your belly and you will eat dust all the days of your life.  [Here comes the first prophesy!]  And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he [Eve’s future offspring, Jesus!] will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.’”                                        (Genesis 3: 14; author emphasis added)

 

You see, Jesus would use those anointed feet to spiritually stomp Satan’s headship, forever giving victory to all who believe!

 

We will spend a lot of our time in eternity at those anointed feet, falling down at His feet, casting our crowns at His feet.  Why don’t we just go ahead and start loving Him extravagantly like that now, worshipping Him with all our heart and souls and mind and time and resources and homes.

 

After I thought all about what it looked like to love Jesus extravagantly, I had to ask myself: Would Jesus have come to my house?

 

Do I show extravagant love for Him?

 

Would He have come to your house?

 

It is significant that Jesus stayed in Bethany for six days.  On the seventh day, He entered Jerusalem.  Remember that seven is the biblical number for completion and perfection.  Everything was fulfilled which needed to take place before the ultimate sacrifice began.  And the last thing needed was the anointing for burial which Mary fulfilled through her extravagant display of love.  Once we come to the place of surrender and extravagant love, then we are prepared to see an extraordinary God work mightily in our ordinary lives.


Day 37 | Remember What He Has Done–He Forgave

day 37On the day of the Resurrection of our Lord and Savior, three women rose early.  They had a mission to do.  Law would not let them fulfill their mission until dawn.  They set out just as the sun began to rise in the east.  They took spices to anoint the bruised body of the one they adored.

Who were the women? What were their pasts? How were they redeemed?

Why were they the faithful ones chosen to be the first to see and the first to know?

Was it that God trusted that they would believe?  Can He trust me to believe?  Can He trust you to believe?

What did they see?

They saw an angel in a white robe. The angel said what angels always say: “Don’t be afraid.”  And then, as usual, the angel issued a call to respond, a command.

Go.

Go and tell.

And so it is with us.  We must overcome fear.  We must go.  We must tell. Who we tell depends on what He tells us to do.  But we all must go.  We all must tell.

Who were these particular women supposed to tell?  The disciples … and Peter.

Peter.  Poor, poor Peter.  Peter was still deeply wounded from the greatest failure of his life.  I’m sure the memory of the sound of the cock’s crow haunted him over and over in the waking hours and filled his mind with troubled dreams at night.  And yet the angel said:  Tell the disciples and Peter.

I envision the scene like this:  The women, amazed and overwhelmed, rush into the room where the disciples are hiding and grieving together.  They are talking all at once, laughing and crying, creating such a commotion that all are confused.  Peter, still filled with grief and shame, stands detached in the corner.  When he hears “He’s not there!  He has risen!” he rushes forward to hear more clearly.  But then, he hears something else—that same cock’s crow haunting his mind and spirit once again.  He turns, head down, back to the corner, thinking to himself, “Even if it is true, He wouldn’t want to see me.”  Shame and guilt and regret threaten to break his heart once again.

One of the other disciples finally halts the commotion of women laughing and crying, and men begin shouting at once the questions they all have.   And when at last there is a pause, he says, “Slow down.  Tell us slowly.  Tell us exactly what he said.”

One of the women rises to the position of spokesperson and says,  “There was a man in a white robe.  He said, ‘Tell the disciples and Peter….”

At the sound of his name, the cock’s crow became silent.  “He called me by name!  He wants me to know that He has risen.  Then he must forgive me.  He is alive!”  And with that we see the first recorded occurrence of the power of the resurrection.  He lives.  And He forgives.

And what was Peter’s reaction?  He took off running toward the Savior.  He searched for Him with all his heart.  And it was upon this forgiven rock that Jesus built his church.

The revival in Peter’s heart had begun.  And it would ignite revival throughout the world.  We need another revival, don’t we?

Do you hear him call your name? Listen carefully.  He is calling you.  And your name, whispered through His holy lips, will silent those horrible thoughts of sin, shame, and insecurity.  Let this truth bring revival to your own heart. Then go and tell.


Day 36 | Remember What He Has Done–Everything

day 36I have had the privilege of witnessing the beauty of the unity of the Body of Christ. When I was living in Costa Rica, we went for a weekend to a Young Life Camp called “La Vida”.  “La Vida” means “The Life” and what an accurate description that was. There was beautiful life everywhere:  in the indescribable beach setting, in the countenance of the people there, and in the message which they proclaimed.

The director of “La Vida”, Marv Asphalt, led us in a beautiful Sabbath service right on the beach.  I found myself surrounded by all different kinds of people, from all different walks of life.  There was a youth group from the United States, who had an incredible heart for worship. There were the Asphalts, who had committed their lives to missions and to leading young people to Christ. There were Costa Rican “La Vida” staff members who had also devoted their lives to spreading the gospel.  There was a Costa Rican Catholic priest, who ran the orphanage located next to “La Vida”.  And there were lots and lots of beautiful Costa Rican children, bound to each other because of a common lot…being an orphan.  We all came together with all of our differences, and worshiped in unity.  We were allowed the gift of witnessing a historic event…it was the first time that Marv, a Methodist minister, and the Catholic priest had come together to share the Sabbath.  They stood side by side and broke the communion bread together, reminding us of the broken body of our Lord.  Marv spoke of the Body of Christ….of the Unity of the Body, and of breaking down the divisions in the Body.  Together, they served the group.  Each person received a special blessing as they were served…it was if the focus was totally on that person.  It brought to mind the reality that the Cross was a personal gift to each one of us…if I was the only one that needed saving, Christ still would have died.  Impossible, yet true!  Before each of the orphaned children, Marv knelt, looking each one in the eye, explaining that the Broken Body of the King of Kings was a gift for each of them; that we are all orphans until we are adopted into the Family of God, whereby we cry, Abba!  Father!  Daddy!

When all had been served, Marv lifted the remaining bread toward heaven.  With tears streaming down his face, he said in a loud voice…. “It Is Finished!”

“It is finished!”  Those words were spoken from the cross, just before our Savior died for us.  “It is finished.”  There is nothing more, which needs to be done.  He did it all for us.  We don’t deserve it.  We can’t earn.  Jesus bought it for us.  And it is free.  The completed work of Christ offered as a gift to our weary, lost and orphaned souls.  The Body was broken once and for all.  Communion is a reminder of that.  We do not need to break the Body again, as we often do through our divisions and pettiness and self-righteousness.  In the High Priestly prayer, the last before his betrayal, our Lord included a call to Unity…

 

“My prayer is not for them alone.  I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you.  May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me….

May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that You sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.”

John 17:20,21, 23