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“It was now about noon, and darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon, for the sun stopped shining. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two. Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” When he had said this, he breathed his last. The centurion, seeing what had happened, praised God and said, “Surely this was a righteous man.” – Luke 23:44-47

 

Surely, this was a righteous man.

Surely, this is a righteous man.

Surely, He is the Righteous One.

 

The death of Jesus on the cross was no ordinary event. It marked the exact time when the debt of our sins, that could not be paid by man alone, were paid in full. The blood of Jesus satisfied our debt and granted us access to the Father. When we pray, we pray in the name of Jesus because His life granted us the authority to boldly approach the throne of grace.

But for the enemies of Jesus, this was the end. No more need of a rousing prophet and preacher who said He was the Son of God. Yet, his actual death sparked reactions that were surprising and alarming. In Luke 23, we see that the event was so impactful, even doubters and skeptics said the word SURELY. In death, Jesus revealed His divinity for those who wanted to see. While the enemies of Christ and the Father of Lies surely celebrated the final breath of Jesus on this side of eternity, these same enemies forgot who they were dealing with.

As we think of the day of crucifixion and the day of resurrection, it’s the 2nd day in between that may stir up doubt, skepticism, worry and fear. Did Jesus really mean what He said? This question among others may taunt us today. Before a breakthrough, we wonder if it will come. Before the miracle, we question if God will show up right on time. Before the blessing, we may get weary in our belief that Jesus will be what He said He would be. Is He the One who can redeem, restore, and set free?

I can assure you, backed by the authority of Scripture, Jesus is the One.

Sunday is coming…

Surely…

Sunday is coming.

For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” – Luke 19:10

 

The King of Kings and the Lord of Lords. (Revelation 19:16)

The Savior of the World. (1 John 4:14)

The Alpha and The Omega. (Revelation 22:13)

 

When you reflect on the titles given to Jesus, any position or title we’ve ever had or will have pales in comparison. It’s not everyday that you hear someone called The Savior of the World. The reason for that is because there is only one. While Jesus walked on the earth, He could have carried these titles like a badge of honor, esteeming Himself and demonstrating His great power for recognition. But the Savior didn’t do that. The King didn’t choose that route. He humbled Himself as a servant.

 

Jesus’ greatest service was to obey the will of the Father. This led Him to seek and save the lost. For there were many that didn’t even know they were lost or needed saving. I was in that place too. I attended church and understood religious terminology. I acknowledged and accepted the Lord as my Savior at the young age of 13. I was practically raised in the church. But, I soon discovered that Jesus was looking for more. Rather than merely attending church, He wanted me to be the church. He was still chasing me down. He wanted a relationship beyond the surface. He was seeking me out.

 

Whether you are in a place of searching to discover the truth of Scripture or have embraced the Word of God as the final authority in your life, Jesus is still on a mission of seeking you. For God is not through with ministering to your soul, shaping your character and directing you into purpose. This chase and this pursuit led Jesus to the rugged cross on Calvary. As you read this right now, He is seeking you out. His love for you compelled Him to surrender His very life on behalf of yours.

 

Let Jesus find you in a place of surrender. If you do, you’ll discover you have much in common with the One who surrendered everything for you.

 

Today’s Prayer


Lord, I recognize there have been times I have subtly or directly pulled away from Your Presence. I may have even rejected Your love thinking I was not worthy to receive it. Yet, Your pursuit of me and of others proves that You count us worthy. I position myself today to surrender to Your heart and Your will for my life. I count it a privilege to journey with you on this adventure called life. In Jesus Name, I pray. Amen.

He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.” – 1 Peter 2:24

When Jesus bore our sins on the cross, it was and remains the greatest sacrifice. Jesus took on the curse, the guilt, and the punishment of our sin. Think about this. Here an innocent, blameless man voluntarily takes on the role of guilt-bearer. While many identify Jesus as Savior and Lord, the title of guilt-bearer took on a role new meaning from the perspective of the cross.

What guilt and shame are you carrying? Oftentimes, our spiritual progress is hindered when the chains of condemnation arrest us. Even when appearing to be free, regrets and missteps may bind us. You may have raised the question, “How could a perfect God forgive me with my imperfections?” God answered this question through His only begotten Son, Jesus, accepting the call of surrender. As Christ surrendered His self for us, we are called to surrender our will for His. He is not asking us to do something that He was unwilling to do. He modeled surrender before the cross, at the cross and after the cross.

Today, you may be at a crossroads. As we reflect on the life of Jesus this Holy Week, you may find it challenging to surrender and submit because of the cost. Don’t fear. When we surrender to God’s will, there will always be a price. But the price of surrender pales in comparison to the joy of relationship with Jesus. Let’s not forsake the call of surrender – the blessings far outweigh the cost.


Today’s Prayer:

Lord, thank you for Your sacrifice on the Cross. As you’ve modeled surrender on my behalf, I make a commitment to you today to surrender my will to Yours. Grant me the courage to follow You everyday. As I reflect on Your sacrifice, may I never the price you paid. Thank you for giving your life for mine. In Jesus Name. Amen.

“He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.” – 1 John 2:2

 

In 1 John, Jesus is described as the propitiation for our sins. While we often do not use this word in our modern vernacular, it does befit us to explore what this means. Propitiation was a way to satisfy the anger of God whose holy standard was violated by our sin. In the Old Testament, sacrifices were offered to make amends. But, the Scriptures highlight the fact that Jesus actually embodied the full measure of sacrifice for our violation. Jesus made this sacrifice by dying on the cross for the sins of not only Christians, but also the whole world.

 

What does this mean for us? There is no sin that you’ve committed that is not covered by the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Remaining in a place of condemnation and shame over past offenses and sins rejects what Jesus gave His life for. God’s heart for you demanded that His Son Jesus be offered to you as a gift for new life. On this day, will you accept the gift of Jesus?

 

Jesus died for everyone. And His death on the cross extends forgiveness for all those who enter into relationship with Him. If you’re a Christian (Christ-follower), pray that God will continue to reveal to you the depth, width and height of His love. If you’re searching and investigating the truth of Scripture, my prayer for you is that as you read the Bible, the truth of Christ’s sacrifice and its meaning will change your life forever.


Today’s Prayer:

Lord, remind me that you offer forgiveness for my sins and faith to live a life that represents You. I humble myself before You, recognizing that I need You to live a fulfilling, fruitful life. During this Holy Week, help me to know You are near and ready to offer restoration for my brokenness. In Jesus Name. Amen.

JackRedmond2016Jack Redmond is a man on a mission. 

A pastor, evangelist, speaker, teacher and author of several books, including his latest, Let Your Voice Be HeardTransforming from Church Goer to Active Soul Winner, Jack sat down with me to discuss his book. As you will discover through this interview, Jack is passionate to share this truth — anyone who follows Christ can help others connect with Jesus. Now, the interview:

RF: Jack – you’ve written many books like People Matter to God, Infusion and Wounded Heart. What compelled you to write your latest book, Let Your Voice Be Heard?

JR: If I could do one thing in my life, it would be to end spectator Christianity.There’s a big difference between how modern Christians live compared to how the early Christians lived. The early Church was very much face-to-face and relational. They had a personal relationship with Jesus and told others — it was contagious! When I think of the first 300 years of Christianity, there was a 40% growth of Christianity each decade within those 300 years. But when you look at the statistics from 1970 to 2010, Christianity on a global scale is the same — around 33%. With all of our modern technology, conferences, mega-watt pastors, and resources, we are not growing at the rate the early Church grew.

Changing those statistics is bringing us back to relationship and sharing our stories. Let Your Voice Be Heard is a book that equips people to share their faith with people they already know.

If I could do one thing in my life, it would be to end spectator Christianity. – Jack Redmond

RF: Jack, you mentioned the decline or stagnation of Christianity…

JR: Christianity in the Western World is statistically stagnating, but that could change. D. James Kennedy, in his book Evangelism Explosion, talks about 95% of born-again Evangelicals never led someone to Christ. That book was written about 40 years ago. I haven’t been able to find any statistics to update or confirm that study. But, most church-going Christians do not have soul winning on their mind. I found this when I traveled to churches and even in my own church. When you start to have conversations with people, it’s amazing that many have not led someone to Christ — the Savior that changed and is changing their lives.

RF: Why do you think that there has been a disconnect or Christians don’t feel compelled to share Christ?

JR: I go into great detail about this in my book Infusion when in the 4th century, Constantine (Roman Emperor) made Christianity the religion of the Roman Empire. Some say he was converted, others contend that Christianity was taken over and he simply wanted to “roll with it”. But, what he did was to make Christianity acceptable and gave it many benefits it didn’t have before. Christianity spread as a persecuted religion — one that was relational in nature. The benefit of Christianity for 300 years was that people knew Christ. With Constantine made it the religion of the Roman Empire, it became valuable to the larger society. It became an IN thing to be a Christian. But Constantine would also build cathedrals that had one person speaking up front while others looked on. This changed the dynamics of Christianity being founded on relationships and conversation.

Christianity was taken on by Roman Catholicism that relegated much power to the priest. Without going into too much history, the Dark Ages and other historical milestones saw the Bible being taken away from people experiencing it themselves. Now, it was belonging to an organization. Even the Reformation was to clean up Roman Catholicism. Protestant tradition transitioned from a priest to a pastor. There have been many changes historically, but it was widely accepted to have a point person speaking and others listening, rather than being engaged.

Presently, where Christianity is exploding is where people are engaged and connecting. Let Your Voice Be Heard serves to help people share the Gospel wherever they go.

RF: Would you concede that while the advent of technology has spread the Gospel in a global fashion, it has also been a proxy voice for Christians rather than Christ-followers speaking up themselves?

JR: In terms of technology, even before its boom — it was an attraction model. If you have good preaching, singing and a good environment, it is attractive. But, the “modern church” mentality is about filling churches in order for people to give to maintain the church. It’s a maintenance mentality as opposed to a Great Commission mentality.

Around 86% of people come to church because they were personally invited. Technology has its place but doesn’t replace relationships. I use technology. God uses it. But, it should never replace the importance of interacting with others.

RF: I noticed on the cover of your new book — you have a photo of young people. I’m sure that was intentional. Why did you include young people and do you believe this book is for everyone of every age?

JR: The first answer is yes — the book is for all ages. As Christians, we are here to seek and save the lost and connect them with Christ. As far as young people, the stats are that 85% of people that come to Christ come before the reach the age of 18. Young people are the greatest mission field on the planet. Young people, oftentimes, are the greatest minister to their generation. Ministry is what God has done in your life. I’ve seen teens and young adults to share their faith in a real, transparent way. If you are serious about the Gospel, you must be invested in the next generation.

Part of the reason why some churches aren’t growing is because their priority is keeping saved people happy. That’s the focus of the average church. In order for them to keep coming back, we have to keep them happy. Since many pastors have limited time, that’s what they do. It’s another reason why we must train the Body of Christ to do the work of ministry. The church is an equipping place. The five-fold ministry is designed for the church to do ministry outside the church walls. As it pertains to young people — they are passionate and they have time to invest. They are able to make a big difference. I was saved at the age 0f 27. If I was saved a bit younger and shared my faith with who I partied with, I would have won many to Christ. But, no one had ever shared Christ with me until I was 27.

Part of the reason why some churches aren’t growing is because their priority is keeping saved people happy. – Jack Redmond

RF: On page 99 of your new book, you have what’s called THE REDMOND SCALE. I thought it was quite good. How did you come up with this scale and what do you want readers to glean from it?

JR: I have to laugh — I have named scales after me! I wrestled with it and it almost postponed the book because of it.

But, the REDMOND SCALE is a reminder that evangelism is a PROCESS. It’s not a point in time. Theologically, yes — salvation is a moment when you are saved by faith…when you cross from death to life. The reality is that there is a process leading up to that. If someone has had a certain perspective or philosophy of life for 40 years, their perspective may not change overnight. Be prepared to invest in the PROCESS. It takes time!

Some don’t share their faith because they are in church and watching the preacher preach the message and share a call for salvation — thinking if they can’t do the same, they are disqualified or not doing right. But, every time you help someone get closer to God, you are invested and engaged in the PROCESS. If you can get a militant atheist to wonder, “Hmmm, I wonder if God is real”, then you are making an impact! That is a huge breakthrough and it may take a couple of years.

I just talked with someone yesterday who is a nanny and cleaning lady for a Jewish lady for 20 years. The Jewish lady recently gave her life to Christ. But, it took a 20 year relationship of interaction to bring this woman to faith in Christ. When we are asking people to come  to Christ, we are asking them to reject what they have known.

Here’s another example: I had a lady come to me who took an evangelism class. She was a foster parent to two teenagers who were Jehovah’s Witnesses. She was upset because they wouldn’t come to church. I shared with her that if someone is a Jehovah’s Witness (and I may not be exactly correct on their theological position), they believe the only way to God and Heaven is through the Kingdom Hall. If they walk away, they are doomed to soul annihilation. You are not asking these kids to come to church or try something new. You are asking them to risk, according to their theological position, soul annihilation by coming to church. Sometimes we don’t think about that…

RF: …what you’re saying Jack is that sometimes (or too often) we are not considering the consequences and the risks others are taking to embrace Jesus Christ as their Savior…

JR: Exactly! And what they have to wrestle with. What would it take for a Christian to go to Mecca and proclaim Allah is superior to Jesus. Think about it. When you share your faith with a Muslim, you are asking them to bear consequences. When I was in India, I didn’t know what the dot (bindi) meant on the foreheads of the females. I asked and was told that the smaller bindi are for single girls of the Hindu faith. If the women are married, they have a larger bindi. If the woman is a widow, she loses her bindi. They are deemed as worthless or useless because they are widow. So now you have a 20 year old Hindu girl who comes to the Lord. She loses her bindi. She is looked upon as worthless and useless – like a widow. Rejected by her family and no Hindu man would marry her. Yet, she may be in a Hindu village or Hindu city. When we are asking people to come to Christ, it’s a big decision. This is why it’s a PROCESS.

The REDMOND SCALE looks at the process of where people are and how to address them in a way that’s inviting and engaging. Some people may have a five minute conversation and conversion happens suddenly. Biblically, it happened with the Ethiopian eunuch. But, for many — that is a rare occurrence. For most, it will be a PROCESS. It’s the PROCESS that causes people to see Jesus as a Savior moving towards their need for the Savior.

Evangelism is a process. – Jack Redmond

RF: How long did it take you to write this book? I’m not referring to the actual writing and editing process. When did you know you were ready to release this type of book?

JR: I think I finished writing it in 2012 and then I was going through the publishing process and offered bad book deals. Then, I started up again in 2015 and re-edited the book. I was chewing on the concept for five years. I think its BASIC CHRISTIANITY. Unfortunately, the Church-at-large may not focus on BASIC CHRISTIANITY as it should – like how do I become a good this or that. When I came to Christ in 1997, this message made sense to me. I lived it before I wrote it. No more spectators but soul winners. I’ve heard people say its insulting to call them church goers only. But, the question is are you winning souls?

RF: Jack, you’re a pastor (fellow pastor with me at Christ Church), you’re a husband, a father, a coach, a mentor with many responsibilities. How do you win souls in your schedule? Do you feel satisfied in your approach to soul winning or success?

JR: I don’t feel satisfied that I have fulfilled what God wants me to do. In terms of personally sharing faith with others, I face the same challenges such as busyness. Being married with children with multiple jobs, writing and traveling — I reconcile it by standing on this truth — I’m not called to do everything. I can do what I can do. If I can help others be soul winners, it’s impact that’s beyond what I can do personally.

I found a new pizza spot and I was so excited. I received my two pizzas and a flyer was stapled on the top of the box saying that a psychic would be visiting the pizza place. I looked at that as an opportunity to build relationship with the owner. He may or may not have spiritual convictions. He may be thinking the psychic coming will help me sell some pizzas. Whatever the case, I view it as an opportunity to learn more about him and gradually ask appropriate questions that will help foster Christ conversations. But, I recognize it will be a PROCESS. Before you go to people about God, go to God about people.

RF: Jack, would you pray for the readers of this interview that they would be soul winners in their generation?

Jack Redmond is an author, speaker Church Mobilization Pastor at Christ Church in Montclair, NJ since July, 2000. He is also Founder and President of Fourth Generation Ministries. For more information, connect with Jack at www.4thgen.org.

 

Lights

 

“Am I not trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.” – Apostle Paul, Galatians 1:10 (NIV)

I see it. So do you.

The famous. The celebrities. The popular. The trendy. The next big thing.

If you have a pulse, it’s extremely difficult to avoid the constant barrage of media coverage of those in the public spotlight. The entertainment networks and shows have wall-to-wall coverage of their every move: who is getting married, who is getting divorced, who is having a baby, who is starring in the next big film or ready to release new music. The celebrity industry has proven to be profitable simply by reporting on what well-known people are doing that don’t know you (i.e. TMZ anyone).

Our culture is fascinated by the spotlight of popularity and fame. The growth of social media has only exacerbated the growing trend through a plethora of shares, likes and reposts. Yet, this celebrity culture has swept through the Church as well. Stars are being born and groomed in the pulpits, on the stages of major conferences, and in the latest popular song of worship (and sometimes it makes you question — who are you worshipping?).

God is using this generation to proclaim and declare the Gospel to every corner of the earth and people of all walks of life. I applaud Christ-followers who use their gifts and anointing to reach the celebrity that everyone thinks they know. But, we must clearly differentiate between the lights of men and THE LIGHT of the world!

As I read the Scriptures, I see Jesus as a man and servant who did not coddle to the whims of men but the will of God. As a result, His popularity waned and even those that used to support Him turned their backs on Him. Jesus fully understands the blowing winds of being popular. But, He came to point people to His Father, not His fame. He came to show the world full of darkness that His Light could pierce through the abyss of sin. He came to set you free.

As tempting as it can be, watch out for the lights. The lights of men can shine on you but also shine on your pride. It can suck you into the never-ending cycle of appeasement and compromise. There’s nothing wrong with using your influence to share the Good News, but make it a priority that you are sharing His news, not yours. The comparison game must end. The subtle or direct competition amongst Christ-followers must cease. We have a world desperate for the Gospel message.  This message is not relegated to a sermon or a song, but it’s a life message we can all live.

For it’s THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD that’s needed now more than ever. With the racial tensions in our cities, the catastrophic events around the world and the apathetic disposition binding our generation, we must ask ourselves the question: Are we caught up in the lights or THE LIGHT? When you are caught up in THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD, you have identity, purpose, destiny and significance. Be encouraged to know that God will use you right where you are and He will raise you up at the proper time. But, when you are raised up for purpose, remain humble. Stay connected with Him. When His Light shines through you, you will never have the need for “the spotlight”. It’s already in you. – RF

This Good Friday, we remember the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross of Calvary. For our sins, Jesus became sin and once and for all, conquered sin, death and the grave. 

For our #REFlections devotion, let’s view The Blood Medley by Gospel recording artist Tamela Mann.

 

This Maundy Thursday, we look back at Jesus and His disciples gathering in what has been coined, “The Last Supper”. 

Matthew 26:26-30 (NIV):

While they were eating, Jesus took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take and eat; this is my body.” Then he took a cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. I tell you, I will not drink from this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.” When they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.

Holy Week reminds us how much Jesus loves us and desires love in return. He will not force us to love Him. But, invites us to walk with Him everyday. With Jesus, everything and anything is possible.

Holy Week Wednesday: A song by Bryan and Katie Torwalt has been resonating in my heart. The song is entitled “When You Walk Into the Room”. Watch the lyric video above and may this song encourage and bless you!

Holy Week is a sacred week of remembrance, reflection, worship and celebration. As we celebrate the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ, may we be reminded of the cost He paid for our sins. As a part of this reflection, I will post videos that are worth checking out in your time of devotion.

TUESDAY | Check out Hillsong United’s “Oceans”:

Verse #1
You call me out upon the waters
The great unknown, where feet may fail
And there I find You in the mystery
In oceans deep, my faith will stand

Chorus:
And I will call upon Your name
And keep my eyes above the waves
When oceans rise
My soul will rest in Your embrace
For I am Yours, and You are mine

Verse #2
Your grace abounds in deepest waters
Your sovereign hand will be my guide
Where feet may fail and fear surrounds me
You’ve never failed, and You won’t start now

Chorus:
So I will call upon Your name
And keep my eyes above the waves
When oceans rise
My soul will rest in Your embrace
For I am Yours, and You are mine

Bridge:
Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders
Let me walk upon the waters
Wherever You would call me
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
And my faith will be made stronger
In the presence of my Savior x 7

Ending:
I will call upon Your name
Keep my eyes above the waves
My soul will rest in Your embrace
I am Yours, and You are mine
I am Yours, and You are mine
I am Yours, and You are mine
I am Yours, and You are mine

Songwriters
JOEL HOUSTON, MATT CROCKER, SALOMON LIGHTHELM

Published by
Lyrics © EMI Music Publishing

www.hillsong.com/united

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