Spirit of Christ

(Read Romans 8:6-11)

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Losing control is a scary thing. Suddenly losing ability to move our arms or legs, if the brakes were to go out on our vehicle, or watching a friend or parent slowly lose control of their minds from a brain attacking disease are the kinds of thoughts that strike fear and deep emotion within us.

Yet we fool ourselves every day that we are actually in control. We aren’t. So many things are beyond our ability to influence, we are tempted to throw up our hands and give up.

In our souls, we are also controlled. We will be controlled by our flesh or humanism, which is always hostile toward God (Romans 8:7), or we will be controlled by the Spirit.

Now, we do have control over one thing in this: we choose which will control us. If we choose to focus on ourselves, the circumstances of the world, or what gives us temporary emotional relief, we move toward our own self-centeredness. This humanism leads to self-sabotage that results in dissatisfaction, shame, and godlessness that dishonors our Creator. It is a death bringer.

If we choose the path of humility and focus on Christ instead, we experience the fullness of the Spirit and Christ in us. This is a life giver. The Spirit was given to us when we chose to receive Christ and began following him; we have this same power that resurrected Christ within us.

We do not have to obey the loud, but lying pull of our fleshly tendencies. We are controlled, rather, by the Spirit. When the Spirit controls our minds, regardless of the fear and chaos around us, we are led to life and peace. (Romans 8:6)

Be encouraged today!

Jesus Wept

(Read John 11:1-45)

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When I lived in Florida, we lived near the beach. Now some of you are thinking, why did you ever leave? Well, it’s a long story, but yes, I do miss it from time to time. The ocean is such a powerful force; its boisterous strength can be seen and heard while standing on its edge in the sand.

Those that frequent the waves know of an even more powerful force in the water. It is unseen but more deadly than the loud waters that rise and make themselves heard. It’s called the undertow or the rip current.

Hidden in the waters is an undercurrent so strong it pushes like a rushing river in a direction altogether different from the easily seen waves. (PSA and by the way, if you get caught in one, the lifeguards recommend a survival approach. Rather than fight it, relax and let it carry you down the shoreline. You’ll be further from your cabana, but you’ll be alive. Now you know, but that is beside my point here). 

It is easy to be fearful of what we see. Mary and Martha saw the death of their brother. How could they not see it for what it was? Bro was dead. Like, dead dead. Yet, Jesus knew he was and is the ultimate dealer of hope. The resurrection lies within his power, and he used it to show everyone that he could raise the dead. He IS the resurrection.

The waves may look ominous. The dangers, the pain, the discouragements, the problems may seem insurmountable. And they are loud, easy to see- like the waves, they roar. And yet, a greater power, a greater strength lies unseen. Jesus is there and, yes, he cares.

Jesus knew that he was about to raise Lazarus from the dead; yet, he cried with his friends. While what you experience and see is real and painful, Jesus walks and weeps with you.

Even though Jesus knows that the end of the story is no more night, tears, death and pain…there he is with you. And he is stronger than the roaring waves of crisis or discouragement you see. You can see his hope, his strength- and he is there whether you believe it or whether you don’t. But, believing is seeing.

Be encouraged today!

Unfailing Love

Read Psalm 130

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There are corners of my heart, far from the public eye, deep, hidden, out of view. Dark. They are so dark. I don’t mean the kind of dark that is a shadow of good that falls a little short. I mean dark, absent of light. Actually, I just lied there. They are the antithesis of light.

Bringing those tendencies into the light: lust, envy, despair, despising others, jealousy, or worse, total apathy, is the work of the Spirit. It was also the cost of the Savior. Publicly, shamefully, naked and in full view, Jesus brought into the light the hideous ugliness of those sins and more. He became sin for me on the cross.

Lord, if you kept a record of our sins, who, O Lord, could ever survive? But. BUT. BUT! You offer forgiveness… – Psalm 130:3-4

How great the price he paid for our sin. How little he asks: abandon pride, bondage to sin, expose the dark corners and let him forgive us so that we can know him now and live with him forever. What wondrous, unfailing love is this?

E’er since by faith I saw the stream
Thy flowing wounds supply
Redeeming love has been my theme
And shall be ‘til I die. – William Cowper

p.s. I invite you to take 3 minutes and 37 seconds to pray and worship through this song, an acoustical remix in studio, by the songwriter. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IeCbpYx5eBQ

Be encouraged today!


Read Ezekiel 37:1-14bones-title-1-Standard 4x3

I have a running joke that there is an 11th Commandment. It is “Thou shalt not creep Timbo out.” Of course, that’s bad theology, but I don’t like creepy things. I don’t watch horror movies or The Walking Dead, and I don’t care how “wonderful” the story line is. It’s creepy. I’m out!

Ezekiel’s vision from Ezekiel 37:1-14 definitely falls into the violation of the 11th Commandment camp. He has a vision of a valley full of skeletons; like Simba and Nala at the elephant graveyard in The Lion King Movie. Except, it’s people. Creepy! Oooh, Mufasa!

God had a point to make, however, and even if it was a nightmare for Ezekiel, it was a message of hope to a discouraged people. See, the people of Israel were in exile. They were far from home in a place called Babylon. Their disobedience had brought them there and they had been overrun by the Babylonian army and taken captive. They felt hopeless.

In the midst of this, Ezekiel was given the message of dry bones that developed flesh and skin (still, creepy), and ultimately were brought to full life. The message to Ezekiel was simple: I, the Lord, will bring you out of this exile and back to your home.

It is so easy to allow discouragement to set in. As we trust in the Lord, regardless of our circumstances or the chaos of the world, we must set our focus on eternity and stir up hope in the midst of the crazy.

Whatever pain we are experiencing, whether it is physical or emotional, it will not last forever. So, don’t you dare quit! Christ himself is our living hope. (jump over and read 1 Peter 1:3 right now for a hope shot in the arm).

Pain is certainly real, but it is not permanent. The things that last forever are found in Christ. As you pray right now, let the Spirit of God stir up hope within you and rise above the circumstances. Keep believing. Keep trusting. And have a Titus 2:13 day.

– Timbo Fowler