All posts by markkharris55

About markkharris55

Mark K. Harris is an officer in United States Coast Guard who has enjoyed over 16 years of active duty naval engineering assignments. He is married to his beautiful wife Vanessa for 8 years; they have three children Joshua, Andrew and Hannah. They are actively involved with our church and other community based activities. Having had the opportunity to both learn and lead during his career on both Coast Guard Cutters and high level Naval Engineering units, Harris’ intention is to continue in the Coast Guard for or beyond twenty years. After that, we will reevaluate family, ministry and career priorities to determine all opportunities that might be available to us.

The Great Algorithm

Al-Khwārizmī is a famous mathematician, and his work introduced Hindu-Arabic numerals and algebra to European mathematics. The words algorithm and algebra come from his name and the title of one of his works. Then in the early 1800s, Ada Lovelace, an English mathematician and daughter of the poet Lord Byron, wrote the first algorithm for a machine and is considered the first computer programmer.

Technically, what Ada created was the first computer algorithm. An algorithm is a process or set of rules to be followed in calculations or other problem-solving operations, especially by a computer. Today while algorithms have become significantly more complex, the creation and combination of Artificial Intelligence (AI) have them extremely powerful. What they are hoping to create is the ultimate problem solver.

While this should be great news for us, it has been found that algorithms can also have unintended consequences. Scientists and computer engineers are seeing these AI-inspired algorithms creating filter bubbles, perpetuating bias, and undermining human creativity, choices, and opportunities. What does that look like? News content is mixed with misinformed articles and flat-out lies. This information is sent to individuals based on their internet history and preferences. This means that specific lies and falsehoods are spreading as truth, which has birthed the phrase “Living My Truth.”

With all of that being said, this is what the Bible says about Truth, Direction, and Wisdom:

James 14:6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.

Proverbs 3:5-6 Trust in the LORD with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths.

James 1:5 But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him.

We don’t have to go to an AI algorithm for solutions to our challenges and problems. We do not have to determine whether what we see on the internet or in our emails is real or fake. We have the ultimate problem solver, the unfiltered truth in the “All-Wise” God. We need not lean on AI algorithms to tell us what to believe and what decisions to make. We have the Truth Holy Spirit who will lead us to Proverbs (3:5-6) to remind us to Trust in the Lord to lead us. We need only to ask God for wisdom which He will give it to us generously (James 1:5).

Today, more than ever, people are being led astray by some social media algorithms, especially our young people. The amount of mass violence and suicides are some of the highest numbers ever. However, we don’t have to fall for the lies of the AI algorithms out there in cyberspace; after all, remember who is behind those lies:

Eph 2:1-2 And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience.

My Security is In Jesus 5

We’re in part 5 (should be the last one, but who knows) of a word of encouragement from the Lord for those of us bold enough to admit we’re insecure. God has a Secure place for us. We learned in Part 1 that we can each declare, “I Praise God; For Choosing Me to Love; For Bringing Me Home, and For Accepting Me As I Was.”

For Accepting Me As I Was

Eph 1:6 to the praise of the glory of His Grace, by which He made us accepted in the Beloved,

As I Was, we usually see the phrase “He accepted me as I am.” However, Jesus does not accept us as we are because He formed us in our mother’s wombs, and He knows our end before the beginning. He accepts us as “As I Was” because the minute we say “Yes” to Jesus Christ, our past no longer matters. Because of Christ’s shed blood, all our sin and bad decisions are removed, never to be seen again. Sure, people will remember them and try to remind you of them, yet God says, “For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more ” (Heb 8:12).” 

  1. God’s Grace is Praiseworthyto the praise of the glory of His Grace.  God’s Grace is the most influential force in this world. It gives supernatural power, innovative ideas, unprecedented wisdom, and even compelling vision. The magnitude of this gift is worth praising God for, so we should be honored to receive this Grace. God’s Grace is honorable and dignified, much like the very savior who died to provide it to us. His Grace covers a multitude of sin, reconciles us to God, empowers us to overcome weakness, and guides us into purpose, and that is Praiseworthy. 
  2. We’re God’s Perfect Creationby which He made us. When God created the earth, He said it was good (Gen 1:25); when He created Adam and Eve, He said it was very good (Gen 1:31); and when He created you and me, He said we were masterpieces (Eph 2:10). He created man in perfection, then Adam fell and caused us to be born into sin. Yet, since we were in God’s mind before the foundation of this world, He already had a plan for our redemption, which would restore us in God’s eye to the perfection of Christ, His Son (Eph 1:7-14). God made us perfect, and Jesus made us “perfection.” 
  3. We’re Acceptable to Godaccepted in the Beloved. The word accepted in this text is χάρις charis; from the word graciousness, favour, gift, and Grace. Therefore, the text says that we are graced into the beloved. The word also means to grace, to indue with special honor, to make accepted, and to be highly favoured as in the process of receiving this Grace. So, there is an immediate acceptance into the beloved and a process of becoming the beloved. God immediately received us when we accepted Jesus Christ as Lord. And…our process of believing we are the beloved, our actions reflecting the beloved, and our understanding of our place in the Beloved often takes time. However, as He is, so are we in this world (1 Jn 4:17); when our faith lines up with God’s truth, our position in the beloved becomes our reality. 

God “Accepted Me As I Was” because of the gracious work of Christ on the Cross. That enormous act of Grace is Praiseworthy because of the one who gave us the Grace. This Grace was the finished work to restore us to the original perfection God created in us before the foundation of this world. God graced us to be accepted into His Beloved, and as our faith aligns with His, we will walk boldly as His Beloved Sons & Daughters.

My Security is In Jesus 4

We’re in part 4 of a word of encouragement from the Lord for those of us bold enough to admit we’re insecure. God has a Secure place for us. We learned in Part 1 that we can each declare that “I Praise God; For Choosing Me to Love ; For Bringing Me Home and For Accepting Me As I Was.”

For Bringing Me Home

Eph 1:5 having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will,

Isn’t it so powerful that God chose to bring us home to be in His family. The truth is we can be confident of a few things according to Paul’s letter to the Ephesians:

1. We’re His Child: having predestined us to adoption as sons. We have been predestined; which means to predetermine, to decide beforehand, to adopt (the action or fact of legally taking another’s child and bringing it up as one’s own); to become sons/daughters of God. God made this decision well before we were born (before anyone was borne for that matter). The term as sons in Greek speaks of the same relationship that God was pleased to establish with the Israelites; and the condition of the true disciples in Christ; and those who by receiving the Spirit of God become sons of God. Each of these demonstrates just what a special position we’ve been blessed with as sons.

2. Were His Decision: by Jesus Christ to Himself. Jesus made the decision to adopt us as sons while the Triune Godhead before the foundation of the world. However, after making the decision, Jesus Christ followed up and executed the decision on the Cross as Messiah. Truly amazing; Jesus, the Son gave His life so that we might switch places and live in the Son.

3. Were His Pleasure: according to the good pleasure of His will,. Finally, we need to comprehend this last piece. We please God!!! But it’s not what you think; we don’t please him by how good we act nor what nice deeds we do. We please God because we believe in our hearts what Jesus did on the cross and have declared with our mouths that Jesus is our Savior. Jesus pleased God so we wouldn’t have too. We bring our Daddy pleasure and they is so Sweet.

We praise God because He chose us; He loves us and He made a home for us in His family and allows us to be ourselves. Paul’s text lays out a tremendous path for us to receive God’s insatiable love for us and I hope you can appreciate it; I’m learning to more and more everyday.

My Security is In Jesus 3

We’re in part 3 of a word of encouragement from the Lord for those of us bold enough to admit we’re insecure. God has a Secure place for us. We learned in Part 1 that we can each declare that “I Praise God; For Choosing Me to Love ; For Bringing Me Home and For Accepting Me As I Was.”

For Choosing Me to Love

Eph 1:4 just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love,

There is something so satisfying about being selected; someone choosing you for a special recognition or honor. The thing that makes your selection even more incredible is the selection source. Obviously, the bigger, more powerful, more recognizable and well known the organization or person is that selected you the more amazing the recognition becomes.

Back in my youthful days, I was selected by an organization called “Big Brothers/Big Sisters” of the National Capital Region as their Big Brother of the year. It was an incredible honor and one I cherish to this day. It was special, because they choose me out of a very large number of volunteers, the organization was Nationally known and it had significant resources and respect around the country.

So much so that a few months later I was chosen by the President of the United States, George W. Bush, to be on his panel of mentors for his international mentoring initiative. The President was known Worldwide, much more than the DMV area. He was much more powerful, with many more resources; an his position as President garnered respect across the Globe and that was who chose me. Wow

So now imagine what this means, we are now:

1. Known: He chose us. The He in this text is simple; the God of the Universe. No one is more well known; more powerful; more respected. There is a trending term “I Am Him,” which means that this person is as dominant figure. Well, God is the originator; he told Moses “I AM WHO I AM.” The original “I Am Him,” chose us. Each one of you reading this post, regardless of who you are, where you’re from, what you’ve done He chose us. He chose us because He knew us (Jer 1:5); and contrary to our own beliefs, God knows us and even knowing everything about us He still chose us (Ps 139).

2. Family: in Him. When I got married, I chose my Wife to become a member of my entire family. Not only did I have to trust her with my heart but also with those who were the very closest to me. My wife inevitably was making the same decision for her and her family. Here we have the Almighty God; maker of Heaven and Earth deciding that we are special enough to trust us with His heart (not knowing that He would ultimately give us His heart) and to trust us with His family (You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind,’ and ‘your neighbor as yourself). Our neighbors are God’s family and He trust us to treat them with love and respect.

3. In His Timing: before the foundation of the world. God decided to choose us well before we could ever choose him (Jer 1:5). We were not even a twinkle in our parents eyes (always thought that was a corny saying), when God made up His mind to send Jesus to take on our Sin. Because of His timing we can see that God knew everything about us and what our lives would be; so we can realize the God has always loved us. He decided long long ago that we were worthy of His love; and worth giving the one He loved the most to ensure we could experience His most precious LOVE. That is pretty special!!

4. Holy In His Presence: that we should be holy and without blame before Him. We’ve been made Holy; spotless and without Blame. In His presence, we are full of Joy (Ps 16:11), rest (Matt 11:28), peace (Phil 4:6-7) and protection (Ps 91). There are a ton of benefits from being in the Lord’s presence, here we learn that in His presence we are without blame. This is because of what Jesus did on the cross. He took on our Sin and exchanged it for His Righteousness. His Righteousness; because of Christ sacrifice on the cross; He has presented us to God faultless (Jude 1:24). Therefore, in God’s presence we are holy and without blame.

5. Loved: in love. The entire foundation of our identity and our security is found in love. In the Love of God for this world (Jn 3:16-17); God’s Love for His Son (Jn 15:9) ; Jesus’ Love for Us (1 John 4:9-10) and Our love for Ourselves (Matthew 22:39). This verse tells us that we are Chosen; as Family; in His presence and in His timing all based in love. God Loves Jesus soooo much (Jn 3:35; 5:20); He gives Him all things and all of Himself. God Loves this World, so much that He sent Jesus to die for it (Jn 3:16-17). in love, We are able to learn ourselves and love what God loves about us; Ps 139:17-18 How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God! How great is the sum of them!

God fully knows you; His love for you is special and abundant. So much so, that He chose you as His love interest, He brought you into His family. He has plans for you in His timing and desires that you be in His presence….and it’s all done in LOVE.

My Security is In Jesus 2

We’re in part 2 of a word of encouragement from the Lord for those of us bold enough to admit we’re insecure. God has a Secure place for us. We learned in Part 1 that we can each declare that “I Praise God; For Choosing Me to Love ; For Bringing Me Home and For Accepting Me As I Was.”

I Praise God

Eph 1:6 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ,

We praise God because that is what Paul did in this 3rd verse..the first word “Blessed“ means (blessed, or praised); therefore we praise God by calling Him Blessed.

WHO: We are praising the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus our savior and redeemer. Praising the God of Jesus and of me. His role as God is powerful and humbling to me because I don’t feel that I’m worthy to be in the presence of such royalty; a King of all Kings. The word used for God in this verse is actually theos; (of uncertain affinity; a deity, especially the supreme Divinity, a magistrate). It this powerful position that immediately feeds into my insecurities. However, we’re also praising the Father of Jesus Christ. This Loving, understanding and gracious Daddy who intimately loves Jesus also intimately loves me melting all of that insecurity in His loving Fatherly arms. It’s the most secure we will ever feel because any insecurity is engulfed by Daddy’s abundant love. We become saturated in an undeserved far reaching love.

WHAT: God has blessed us with every spiritual blessing. It says that He blesses us right?? No, it specifically says that He does not just bless us, but God blesses us with every spiritual blessing. Try to comprehend this, spiritual is the word (pneumatikos) which means: non-carnal or (divinely) supernatural, it’s not common but well beyond natural (powerful, plentiful and always present). So let me remind you that God chooses to over abundantly bless and empower us with super powerful and amazing things, and with every single one of them.

WHERE: He blesses us in the heavenly places in Christ. God blesses us in the heavenly places; which is very literal God blessed us in heaven (above the sky; celestial, in heaven(-ly). There’s quite a bit of blessing for us located in heaven, see for yourself:

Matt 5:12 Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven. Col 1:5 because of the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, of which you heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel. Phil 3:20 For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. The reason it is laid up for us in heaven is because God wants His will to show up here on earth as it is in heaven. Matt 6:10 Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. You see when He stores it in heaven it cannot be stolen, contaminated or tampered with by the enemy. The easiest way to access these blessings is to dwell in the secret place of the Most High, which is in the heavenly places. I have not even touched on the most important location: in Christ. But really that says everything!!

My Security is In Jesus

Eph 1:3-6 3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, 4 just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, 5 having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, 6 to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made us accepted in the Beloved.

So recently I gave God something.I know what you’re saying, “what can you possibly give to God?”The truth is there is a significant amount of things we can give to God…our lives/hearts (devotion); our praise/worship (admiration); our service (dedication); our tithes (dollars) and our titles (identity).God really does want us to give (willingly surrender) these things to Him.However, even more than these God really wants us to give (willingly surrender) our hurts (pain); our flaws (imperfections); our discouragements (depression); our sin (shortcomings); and what I gave Him this weekend my insecurities (lies we tell ourselves).When we give these to God; We exchange this weight (heavy load) for His rest (refreshing).

So Eph 1:3-6 are a few verses that Holy Spirit led me to as an exchange for my heavy load.What He helped me see is a declaration I can make daily to help me overcome these lies the devil keeps yelling in my ears.I Praise God; For Choosing Me to Love ; For Bringing Me Home and For Accepting Me As I Was.

  1. I Praise God: 3Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ.
  2. For Choosing Me to Love:4 just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love.
  3. For Bringing Me Home: 5 having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will.
  4. For Accepting Me As Was: 6 to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made us accepted in the Beloved.

As I consistently declare this we will dig into each part a little deeper into each verse to break down the lies even further.

You Rock My World

OK I love music and always have. I’m a sucker for great lyrics and I used to dabble in attempting to write songs back in the day…..way back in the day. I was listening to music tonight and the oddest thing happened (it’s not uncommon for me), while listing to a popular artist I got a message that I wanted to share. The prophet Mike Jackson once penned the words: “You rocked my world; you know you did; And everything I own I give; The rarest love who’d think I’d find; Someone like you to call mine.” That is from one of his many number one hits called “You Rock My World.” The premise is obviously about his encounter with a young woman; however, for this message I want to talk to you about having an encounter with “The Rock (and not Dwayne Johnson).” David shared something with us after overcoming a difficult time in his life that “rocked my world” today, I hope you enjoy.

2 Sam 22:1 “The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer; The God of my strength, in whom I will trust;

2 Sam 22:47 “The LORD lives! Blessed be my Rock! Let God be exalted, The Rock of my salvation!
Psalm 18:46 The LORD lives! Blessed be my Rock! Let the God of my salvation be exalted.

David is extremely grateful, and he is praising the LORD because the LORD has delivered him from the hand of all his enemies, including Saul. David’s been through tremendously hard and terrifying times and the LORD came to his rescue. This truly “Rocked” his world, changing everything in his life and the LORD has done the same for us:

David Declared:

  1. The LORD lives!: Are we sure that David was not around in the New Testament; because this is a today praise if I’ve ever heard it. We proclaim the resurrection of Jesus TODAY as a reminder of his loving sacrifice and His shed blood that redeems us. Because the LORD lives “our lives are worth living” and our futures are made new. Because we know that The LORD lives! we know that we were once sentenced to a horrific death but now we have eternal life (Jn 3:16).
  2. Blessed be my Rock!: Here is where David gets me. He praised God as his Rock. The word Rock used in this verse in Hebrew (ṣûr) means a compressed stone; a large boulder, but you see it also means Strength and Refuge. David’s Rock was his Refuge (shelter and safety) and Strength (physical strength and power). Then David also personalized it; “My Rock.” David acknowledged that his shelter and power was found outside of himself. We need to understand that Jesus is our Rock (Strength and Safety). But David didn’t stop there, he personalized this relationship (my Rock!). David understood the capacity of the Lord was great, but that the LORD cared about David personally. Jesus has a “You” agenda, He has a plan, position and purpose individually crafted for you. Jesus’ Mark Harris agenda is detailed and laid out specifically for me, my needs, my gifts, my strengths, my shortcomings, my weaknesses; it’s tailored to me and me alone. The God of the universe is all up in my business and that has “Rocked My World.” To know that He cares for me, has plans for me and desires to bring them to past has changed my life and should change yours too. Let the LORD become “my Rock!” for you.
  3. The Rock of my salvation!: David also realized that the same pier and strength of his Rock was Al’s where his Salvation lies.  Salvation in Hebrew means liberty, deliverance, prosperity; it is true freedom. The LORD not only wants to be your Protection and Power, but He has soooooo much for us to receive from Him; there’s benefits to having the LORD be “my Rock!:” [Bless the Lord, O my soul, And forget not all His benefits (Ps 103:2)].  my Rock! Gives us so many benefits, in Hebrew the word means treatment, service/have served recompense (make a mends) and reward.  So as a part of His benefits, Jesus gives us special treatment, He serves us rewards and makes a mends for those who have wronged us.  If that along doesn’t “Rock Your World,” I’m not sure what will.  Along with His Strength and Refuge Jesus gives us His special benefits.

Michael Jackson proclaimed, “You rocked my world; you know you did; And everything I own I give; The rarest love who’d think I’d find; Someone like you to call mine;” while David declared that “the LORD Lives, is my Rock and my Salvation.”  Both statements have significant relevance to me…. Because The LORD Jesus Lives; He’s Rocked my World and He knew that He would; and now because He is my Rock and Salvation everything I own I give for the rarest love I’d ever fine. Jesus My Rock is the LORD I call Mine…..

The Miracle of God’s Grace

2 Cor 12:8-9 And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

Paul more than any of the Apostles of Christ received a wealth of revelation regarding God’s Grace; he had a unique understanding, that he graciously shared with the body. We misinterpret His Grace often often; we’ve heard it taught in many different ways but what is His Grace and when do we need it. Very short answer; Everything and Everyday (min & hour)!! In Paul’s 2nd letter to the Corinthian church, he gave an incredible lesson on God’s Grace and if we do a little digging into his words, we will be able to see the Miracle that is God’s Grace.

1. First thing we need to address is that God is speaking to us: And He said to me. This is the first miraculous portion of this text; do you recall who exactly Paul was? Paul was a persecutor of those who followed Jesus. He literally had these people jailed, stoned and even killed. Paul couldn’t be more of an enemy of God. Yet, Jesus still spoke to Paul; He actually went way beyond just speaking to Paul, He corrected Paul; He forgave Paul; He equipped Paul and He used Paul to glorify Himself. This is Grace; Jesus made His enemy His Son. This Grace is also extended to each one of us. We were once an enemy of God; yet Jesus corrected, forgave, equipped, and desires to use us. His plans for us are similar to the miraculous transformation of Paul. The Lord spoke to Paul and today speaks to us. What a miracle; God finds us worthy of His Grace

2. Distinction between His Grace and Our Grace: My grace is sufficient for you. The Grace Jesus speaks of to Paul is an inexhaustible empowerment that regardless of what we’ve done or will do; regardless of what we’ll ever need; is available to us in abundance. His Grace is sufficient because it never runs out; this word sufficient actually means to be content, to be enough, to suffice. His Grace however, is always more than enough; because He does exceedingly abundantly more than we can ask or think (Eph 3:20). No matter what you and I need, what is burdening us (like Paul’s thorn in the flesh), or even what we don’t realize is (God’s plan Jer 29:11) planned for us; His Grace is more than enough. Yet another miracle of His Grace, it’s Inexhaustible.

3. Our Weakness is His Strength: for My strength is made perfect in weakness. The Lord declares that His strength is perfected in our weakness. That means that every time we feel weak, it is an opportunity for God to show His strength in our situation. Therefore, we need to first acknowledge our weaknesses. Now our weakness is clear to us (and especially to those around us) yet when we don’t acknowledge that we have weaknesses, we are being Proud. Peter actually helps us with this, “God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble.” Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God (1 Pet 5:5). It is by humility that we acknowledge our weakness, but we then must give those weaknesses to the Lord: casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you (1 Pet 5:7). When we do this; (Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time), God’s strength will lift us high enough to be seen (witnessed) by others. This means God has the opportunity to demonstrate His Strength in each of us, when we give Him consent (by casting our weaknesses). The miracle is that our weakness draws God’s Strength into our lives.

4. Boast on Your Infirmities: Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. The thought of boasting (the word boast means to glory, joy or rejoice in) in your weaknesses just defies all human logic. We want to glory in our strengths; those things we’re good at. It takes extreme humility to show our vulnerability and to do the exact opposite of what seems right to man. To take joy in or tell others about our weakness or shortcomings is exactly what Paul is doing and exhorting us to do. Being vulnerable and acknowledging our weaknesses gives us the ability to sit back and watch God show Himself STRONG in the very areas need the most. The miracle; is that Strength is demonstrated via our Vulnerability. The things we want to hide are the things that God will use. So Rejoice in the Lord and in your weakness; then God has the opportunity to demonstrate His great power in Us.

How Difficult is it to Believe

In scripture after scripture following Jesus’ resurrection, we see some of the most passionate disciples of Christ fail to believe Jesus was indeed alive. I think at times we get a bit “bold in the faith,” as we condemn the “weakness” of the disciples back in that day because they had Jesus with them and at times would not believe. We often assume how much easier it should have been in those days since they had the Anointed One in their actual presence. Yet we discount the impact of the numerous years we have with this huge Bible; having all of the stories from the Prophets and Apostles with their first hand knowledge of Christ, that we have to ability to refer to regularly. However, I offer this “It difficult to believe and even more when you’ve been hurt/heartbroken.”

John 20:29 Jesus said to him, “Thomas, because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

Following Jesus’ death on the Cross; the disciples were scattered. Their world’s had just been turned upside down. And now their refuge; protection; power and security had been dramatically taken away. The very thing they’d believed was being crucified, like a criminal. So yes everything they knew had seemingly become a lie. Even Thomas, who was one of Jesus’ closest followers; at one point even ready to die for Jesus; found himself here at this very scenario, where he would need to see Jesus’ nail pierced hands and feet before he could even entertain the possibility of Jesus returning from the dead. Why do we still attempt to clown Thomas till this day, when if we’d be honest struggle with the very same things that those disciples struggled with back then.

Therefore, their first obstacle of believing in Christ Resurrected was:

1. They Believed Wrong: Many of the disciples believed that Jesus had come to earth to become the new and physical King. He was to replace the natural order they were under at the time. The disciples believed that very soon he was going to take over the current kingdom they were living under, they assumed that Jesus would slowly begin taking over the local synagogues; the High Priest, eventually the governorship, then ultimately kingship. However, God’s plan and Kingdom were always going to be different. We have to be on the same page of Jesus and not put our plans above His. Sometimes we believe that things should go a certain way. We think God’s plan works together for our comfort and our prosperity; but it works out for what God believes is good for us, according to His plan and not ours. If these plans are not aligned (and they are not always) then we will definitely have some grieving to do, when God’s plan prevails. Stay close to Him, His Word, His direction; you will not always get it right but it will be pretty close.

2. They Didn’t Trust the Unseen: Jesus was crucified just a few days prior and even though at times Jesus had been seen by so many (1 Cor 15:6 After that He was seen by over five hundred brethren at once), there was not way to fathom what they’d just witnessed. They had never seen someone so powerful and so close executed in this manner, like a criminal. And they definitely had not seen such a death be overcome. I mean they had definitely been up close and personal to Jesus resurrecting others back to life, but of course this seemed different. They were unable to resonate with the very person/power that raised Lazarus; Jairus’ daughter and the widow’s son back to life, needing the same miracle. They wouldn’t allow themselves to trust or believe in something they had never physically seen; someone killed so gruesomely; someone not dying a natural death; someone not so very close and essential to them dying…yet rising again. Because they had not seen it, made it very difficult to process the possibility.

3. They Were Afraid to Believe Again: Luke’s Gospel tells us that “Luke 24:37-38 But they were terrified and frightened, and supposed they had seen a spirit. And He said to them, “Why are you troubled? And why do doubts arise in your hearts?“ The disciples were terrified and frightened, even though Jesus Himself was speaking to them. There is one thing to be devastated, heartbroken and/or utterly disappointed. But to enter again into a situation that could potentially produce the exact same outcome…that is more difficult than you can imagine, yet every single individual Jesus showed Himself to was immediately put into that situation. Will I sign up for all of this again? If I don’t believe what I’m seeing or hearing then I will not subject myself to it again. However, if I say yes…it starts all over again. It was risky but worth it. They were being vulnerable with someone worth the vulnerability.

Are you willing to believe Jesus again? Will you align your beliefs with God’s Word? Are you willing to believe for something you’ve never seen before? Can you push past the fear of being hurt again to believe Jesus is worth the risk? If you can honestly say yes to these then you can expect to see mighty miracles in 2023……

The Holy Spirit’s Conviction

Jn 16:8 Nevertheless I tell you the truth. It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you. And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: of sin, because they do not believe in Me; of righteousness, because I go to My Father and you see Me no more; of judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged.

God created a plan for all of humanity when He created man. We don’t know His ways, but we do know His heart for us and it is to love and spend eternity with us. Yet for ages man has been confused about what the roles of the Trinity are. Like many of us feel about those that we love, the disciples did not want to face the reality of Jesus leaving them to return to God the Father. So in order to comfort them, Jesus shared a portion of God’s great plan for us. Today I want to talk about what Jesus declared as part of the Holy Spirit’s purpose on earth was to be.

He convicts the World: (Sin) And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: of sin, because they do not believe in Me.  Jesus specifically calls out the world in this part of the text.  They are the only group that the Holy Spirit convicts for their sin.  He does it to remind them of their need for a Savior.  His desire is that all of humanity be saved (Jn 3:17 For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved); so He convicts to give every possible opportunity for His salvation.  
Now I hear you saying well why do often feel convicted when I sin?  I know that I’m saved.  I commit to you the devil’s conniving ways (2 Cor 11:14); he will seem like an Angel of light, but utter lies and confusion.  He will speak as if he’s a still small voice yet his words will contradict God’s Word.  Let’s go further.  

He convicts (US) the Believer: (Righteousness) And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: ……of righteousness, because I go to My Father and you see Me no more.  Here Jesus is talking directly to us, as believers as He reminds us of God’s plan (because I go to My Father and you see Me no more); He has to ascend to the Throne of God, He’s always talked about His Father and now it was time to return. Yet for Him to return it meant that His mission was completed (Phil 2:1-11) and He did it with such dignity and grace.
The Holy Spirit is not convicting us of Sin because our Sin has already been addressed (Jn 3:16 , Rom 5:8), but He convicts us of His Righteousness (2 Cor 5:21 For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him). His Righteousness and not ours because our righteousness is filthy (Isa 64:6).  So the Holy Spirit wants to make sure that we: He convicts us to walk in His righteousness (Rom 8:1-5), to know that we are righteous (Gal 2:20-21) and to move away from dwelling in our shortcomings and failures (Rom 6:12-14), but to dwell on His Righteousness (Phil 4:8).  

He convicts the Devil: (Judgement) And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: ……of judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged.  The Holy Spirit judges the Devil and him alone.  He is not judging us (Rom 8:1There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus) or even those who don’t know him.  However, all of those who align themselves with the devil subject themselves to the same judgment from God.  We as believers, can be fooled to believe that we are being judged when something does not go our way, but Jesus took on all of our Judgment and more on the Cross so we would not have to.  
God is a just God and does not believe in “double jeopardy.”  Just like in our court system, we cannot be judged for the same crime twice.  For if we could be judged for our sin again, it would render Jesus’ sacrifice void.  And we know better than that; His sacrifice was once and for all, now He’s at the right hand of the Father (where He’s made room for us; Gal 3:1).