Since January, 2014, twelve acres have been under construction in Disney’s Animal Kingdom in Orlando, Florida. For three years people have pondered what lies behind those walls, blocking off the hidden land from public view. Whatever those walls contained, we knew it was big and exciting, especially since Disney was behind it.
Well, we won’t have to hold our breath much longer. The big reveal is set for May 27, 2017, where Pandora – The World of Avator will become open to the public. Disney describes it as ‘a real world experience‘ where you can ‘interact directly‘ with the rainforest and ‘ride on your very own Banshee.’ I’m excited to say, my family and I will have the opportunity to experience Pandora ourselves in June.
“And behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom, and the earth shook; and the rocks were split…” –Matthew 27:51
For centuries, the Jewish people could only wonder what lied behind the temple veil. Only the high priest could enter beyond the veil into the Holy of Holies and then only once a year on the Day of Atonement to offer a blood sacrifice on behalf of the people. The veil – made of blue, purple, and scarlet material and fine twisted linen (Exodus 26:31) – was roughly 60 feet high, 30 feet wide, and 4 inches thick. It separated the people from the most holy God (Isaiah 59:2).
But when the ultimate offering had been sacrificed – Jesus Christ, Son of the living God (Hebrews 9:11-14) – the veil was torn from top to bottom. Only the hand of God could have accomplished such a feat. Only the mind of God could have envisioned such a perfect plan of redemption.
All barriers between man and God were removed in one final breath. All people, both Jew and Gentile, have full access into the Holy of Holies. God no longer dwells in temples made with human hands, but now He dwells in our hearts (Acts 17:24).
And now we can have the confidence to enter the holy place by the blood of Jesus (Hebrews 10:19). We can experience Jesus ourselves and interact directly with the living God! We can approach His throne with boldness and commune with Him intimately!
So, why are you still living in the outer courts pondering what’s on the inside? You have access to His Presence anywhere you can bend your knees in prayer. As we remember the cross this weekend, remember to enter within the veil, where Jesus entered as a forerunner for us, having become a high priest forever (Hebrews 6:20).
“When Jesus therefore had received the sour wine, He said, ‘It is finished!’ And He bowed His head, and gave up His spirit.” –John 19:30
What did Jesus mean when He said, “It is finished!“?
This was not a statement of defeat, but rather a declaration of triumph. “It is finished,” three word in English, one word in Greek – “TETELESTAI.” Derived from the greek word “teleō,” it means to complete, accomplish, finish, or pay off. We may use this same terminology to say, “I’ve completed my dissertation paper for graduate school.” Or, “I crossed the finish line of my first marathon.” Or, “I just completed the Dave Ramsey plan and paid off my last debt.”
In all these examples, there’s a sense of fulfillment or accomplishment by finishing that which was set out to do. There’s also a sense of purpose and intention in completing the task. It didn’t get finished by accident or by half-hearted effort, but there was a plan that was strictly adhered to from the beginning.
The five illustrations outlined below sum up what Jesus meant when He uttered “TETELESTAI” on the cross:
ILLUSTRATION OF SERVANTS/SONS – A servant would report to their master, “I have completed (TETELESTAI) the work assigned to me.” Or a father may send his son on a mission and the son was not to return until every step of the mission had been completed.
John 17:4 – “I glorified Thee on the earth, having accomplished the work which Thou hast given Me to do.“
ILLUSTRATION OF PRIESTS – A priest would always examine the animals brought to him for sacrifice. Only those animals spotless and without blemish were acceptable for the offering. When one such animal was found, the priest would say, “TETELESTAI!”
John 1:29 – “The next day he [John the Baptist] saw Jesus coming to him, and said, ‘Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!’“
1 Peter 1:18-19 – “You were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers, but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ.”
ILLUSTRATION OF ARTISTS – Frank Boredom writes, “When the painter or the sculptor had put the last finishing touches to the vivid landscape or the marble bust, he would stand back a few feet to admire his masterpiece, and seeing in it nothing that called for correction or improvement, would murmur fondly, ‘TETELESTAI!'”
Hebrews 10:12-14 – “But He, having offered one sacrifice for sins for all time, sat down at the right hand of God, waiting from the time onward until His enemies be made a footstool for His feet. For by one offering He has perfected for all time those who are sanctified.”
Hebrews 1:3 – “And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power. When He had made purification of sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high.”
ILLUSTRATION OF MERCHANTS – During the days of Jesus, when a promissory note was paid, the one holding the note would write, “TETELESTAI” across it. Also, when someone had a debt and it was paid off, the creditor would write, “TETELESTAI” on the certificate of debt signifying that it was paid in full.
Romans 6:22-23 – “But now having been freed from sin and enslaved to God, you derive your benefit, resulting in sanctification, and the outcome, eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Colossians 2:13-14 – “He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions, having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us and which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.”
ILLUSTRATION OF PRISONERS – When a Roman citizen was convicted of a crime, he was thrown into prison. A “Certificate of Debt” listing all his crimes was nailed to his cell door so that anyone passing by could know what he had been accused of and the penalty he was to serve. When the prisoner had served his sentence and was released from bondage, the indictment was taken down and the judge would sign the indictment and write “TETELESTAI” across it. The freed prisoner would keep this as proof that his sentence had been served and that charges for those crimes could never be brought against him again.
Isaiah 53:6 – “But the Lord has caused the iniquity of us all to fall on Him.”
Romans 8:1-2 – “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death.”
POINTS TO PONDER
Are you living like “it is finished” (TETELESTAI)?
Are you walking in freedom or still in chains of bondages?
Are you trying to earn your salvation or have you accepted it as a free gift?
Do you feel shame from your past or do you approach His throne with boldness?
Have you forgotten the significance of the cross?
Father, I thank You for loving me so much that you would send Your only Son into this world to die so I can live. What love is this, Lord? I stand amazed at Your goodness and mercy and grace. Father, forgive me of all my sins. Wash me clean from all my iniquity. Thank you for removing my sin as far as the east is from the west. Thank you for eternal life. Thank you for Jesus Christ. May I never take the cross for granted. May I never become calloused to the price Jesus paid for me. May I always remember. And may I always share the gospel of the cross with others. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
If you were to ask Jesus one question what would it be?
A recent survey published in USA Today asked participants this very question. The highest percentage wants to know: “What is my purpose here?“
Wouldn’t we love for God to give us a life planner dated from birth to death outlining all of our goals and destiny appointments for our God-given purpose? Or maybe even a to-do list where we could check things off as we accomplish them?
Hmmm… where’s the fun in that though? The adventure? I think if we had all the answers at our fingertips, a Mapquest route of our life so-to-speak, it would suck the life out of life. Right? Lol!
There’s excitement in not knowing what’s around the corner. A sense of expectancy stirring inside as we approach something meaningful, something bigger than ourselves.
Recently, I had a vision encounter with Jesus during a Sunday morning church service. Jesus took me to a place I have written about several years ago in a story I titled, “The Journey,” (see story below for reference). We were lying on mossy ground, looking up at the sky, my head resting on His arm.
There was a moment where Jesus said, “Ask me anything you want.” Immediately I sit straight up and one question after another starts spilling from my mouth, mostly about what the future holds for me and my family.
Jesus responds by gently pulling me back down to that place of rest next to Him, settling my anxious heart. He spoke to my spirit saying, “Look up.” And He pointed to the heavens above. He showed me a big cloud, high in the sky.
He said to me, “Look how the wind, blowing as a gentle breeze, is moving and directing that cloud. That cloud is you and the wind is the Holy Spirit. As long as you stay weightless, not allowing the worries of this world to weigh you down, you will soar high like this cloud.”
“You do not have to fret regarding where you are going. Just rest and just soar and then the Holy Spirit will direct you to where I want you to go. And when the Holy Spirit fills you, you will shower down upon the land exactly where I’ve positioned you. You will pour out what the Holy Spirit is pouring in.”
“And people will recognize that I am in the cloud. Others will begin following the cloud, just as the Israelites followed the cloud by day, and I will lead them into their promises.”
“All you have to do is rest in Me and soar!”
Do not be anxious for your life, as to what you shall eat, or what you shall drink; nor for your body, as to what you shall put on. Is not life more than food, and the body than clothing?
Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single cubit to his life’s span?
And why are you anxious about clothing? Observe how the lilies of the field grow; they do not toil nor do they spin, yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory did not clothe himself like one of these.
But if God so arrays the grass of the field, that is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more do so for you, O men of little faith?
…But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added to you. Therefore do not be anxious for tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. –Matthew 6:25-34
by: Michelle Halloran
I am on an exciting journey to a thrilling destination. He’s not taking me to the destination by any luxurious method of travel like an airplane or a car. But I’m traveling by foot. He wants me to feel the terrain in the journey, to see the sights along the way, to feel the sun on my back and the elements in the air.
He’s walking with me the whole way, pointing out the flowers in the field we are passing and the deer drinking from the river brook. I may walk through the desert, but He will give me drink so I will not faint. And I may walk through rich vegetation, partaking the fruit and honey of His sweet provision.
Or I may spend days just resting in Him. His hand will be my pillow and He will take this time to whisper His love for me and I will whisper back my love for Him. He may carry me some on this journey when I can’t muster the energy to take another step.
But the journey is beautiful! The journey is exciting! The journey is a time of teaching and great revelation. The journey may be long, but it will be so fulfilling. I may just get so caught up in the journey that I forget about the destination, but He will keep my eyes forward and my feet on the path…
The path that leads me to myself and the bridegroom.
Think about it. These are those who profess with their mouths they are Christians, but their lives look just like the world they are called out of.
By definition, the word casual means ‘relaxed, loose’ or something ‘done without much thought’ or ‘not regular or constant.’ 2 Timothy 3:5 defines casual Christians as those who hold on to a form of godliness, but deny its power. Do you see how damaging this is, not only as a stumbling block for others, but the biggest casualty is actually the casual Christian himself.
God didn’t call us so we can be casual Christians just barely getting by. God has called us to be lifestyle Christians. Listen! If casual Christianity causes casualties, lifestyle Christianity imparts LIFE!
Jesus is life and when we live for Him we are living an abundant life!
Romans 8:6 says “to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.” And in 2 Timothy 4:2, Paul says, “Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season.” To ‘be ready always’ is to make Christianity your lifestyle. It’s not just a profession from your mouth, it’s who you are in your heart.
I would love to share with y’all 3 testimonies of lifestyle Christianity from the past couple weeks. Please know, I’m sharing this not to boast in myself because I’m still a novice in stepping out into evangelism, but I’m sharing this to boast of Christ. I’m sharing this to encourage you to acknowledge the Lord in ALL your ways! You with me?
So, the first testimony occurred at the gym this last Saturday morning. We had just finished an hour and a half class and I was heading out the door when a lady stopped me. So, I recognized this lady from a REFIT® class I used to teach. My last class was a couple months ago, but she goes on to tell me, with tears in her eyes, how much a prayer I prayed for her after one of my classes really had ministered to her.
Now, I vaguely remember praying for her, but I have no recollection at all of what I prayed. But two months later, it was still near and dear to her heart. So much so, it still brought tears to her eyes. Awesome, right!?! Praise Jesus!
All God is looking for is a yielded vessel He can speak, work, and move through.
The second testimony from this week was from my 8 year old son, Elijah. He’s been reading this book by Shawn Bolz called “Growing up with God” which teaches kids how to hear God’s voice. Well, Sunday, lo and behold! Elijah comes home from church telling us how he heard God speak to him.
The next day, he’s still so excited, he comes home from school and wants to post a video on Facebook sharing his testimony. Y’all, I had been doing laundry all day and still had not taken a shower after my workout that morning. And he’s wanting us to do this video now! Again, we have to be ready in season and out (I think my version that day read, ‘we have to be ready with make-up and without!’ LOL!).
But would you know! His video has had over 7000 views?!? The author of the book picked up Elijah’s video and shared it on his Facebook page. Incredible! This was his very first testimony ever and over 7000 people heard it!!! Psalm 132:12 says, “If thy children will keep my covenant and my testimony that I shall teach them, their children shall also sit upon thy throne forevermore.”
Lifestyle Christianity rewards are here and now and forevermore!
The last testimony I’ll share happened just today. I was in the checkout line at my local grocery store and a young girl was checking my groceries. I noticed the bagger boy was kind of flirting with her and she was desperately trying to ignore him. So, to help a girl out, I started making conversation with her. I found out she had just received her Master’s in Occupational Therapy and that she was getting ready to move to out of state to look for a job.
So, I just start praying blessings and favor over her and that God would open up doors of opportunity for her. Side note: do y’all realize, we don’t have to take someone by the hand and close our eyes to pray? Prayer is not a demonstration. God is. Right? So, she’s there scanning groceries and I pray over her just in normal conversation.
After I prayed she stops scanning and starts pointing her finger at me grinning. She says, “That’s how I know you! I knew you looked familiar, but couldn’t figure it out till you started praying.” Trying to add two and two together, I look at her and ask, “So, I’ve prayed for you before?”
She’s gleaming ear to ear and says, “Yes! You prayed for me before I took my last set of exams! And I scored 40 points higher on that test than I did the one before that!”
Haha! Did I remember that? Not at first, but vaguely after she started relaying details. But the point is this:
I want to be known as the woman who prays in the checkout line! I want to be known as the mom with no makeup on who helps her 8 year old share his testimony on Facebook! I want to be known for showing the love of Jesus everywhere I go!
Have I got this all figured out? Absolutely not! But I do know all I need to do is follow the One who does have it all figured out. All it requires is boldness and obedience. This is lifestyle Christianity! Lifestyle Christianity imparts LIFE! And this is living, y’all!
Jesus was one of the most offensive people to walk this earth. Imagine what the Jews were thinking when He said to them, “Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in yourselves.” Remember, the Law of Moses sternly forbade drinking or eating meat with blood remaining in it. Yet, Jesus was asking them to eat His flesh and drink His blood! How absurd!
Furthermore, He overturned the tables of the money exchangers in the temple. He broke the Sabbath by healing a man and then had the audacity to tell the once lame man to carry his mat. He proclaimed He came from heaven and declared Himself equal to God. He called the Pharisees, the religious leaders of the time, a brood of vipers and pointed out they, not only did not know God, but they were serving the father of lies, the devil!
Over and over again, Jesus offended the mind. The ones who fell into grumbling and complaining were the same ones who crucified Him. Dying on the cross was the ultimate offense. How could the King of Kings appear so weak? If He was Messiah, why didn’t He save Himself? These were all questions the crowds were asking.
Yet, the deity of the Lord Jesus Christ and His equality with God are foundational truths for true faith in Him. He wasn’t afraid to expose darkness. Jesus, the Messiah, walked in humility. And His death on the cross was the most offensive display of love ever to be witnessed. He wasn’t trying to win a popularity contest, He was trying to save the world. He died so we can live. What radical love is this?
I said all that said to say, similarly, there’s a lot of grumbling and complaining in our world today. I petition you, don’t be so quick to judge on the surface or by outward appearances. Pray and ask God to reveal where He is working to you. Because He is working.
What appears offensive at first glance, may have the anointing of God all over it. The United States of America is still one nation under God. Whether all who live here acknowledge that does not distort the truth. God still sits on the throne and His mercies flow like a raging torrent across this land! His mercies are new every morning! His mercies overtake the just and the unjust!
I pray God will anoint our eyes to see where He is moving. May our prayers for this great nation fall into cadence with the One who holds all things together. Father, forgive our offense. Let us rise higher than the confusion and sync ourselves with Your heartbeat. I pray peace in our souls and peace over our land. May our gaze be forever upon You that we may witness Your great and mighty winds of revival that are about to take this nation by storm.
Just as You have loved with a radical love, may we also love with a radical love. A love that overcomes offense.
In God we trust.
“Call to Me and I will answer you and I will tell you great and mighty things which you do not know…Behold, I will bring to it health and healing, and I will heal them; and I will reveal to them an abundance of peace and truth.
And I will restore the fortunes of Judah and the fortunes of Israel, and I will rebuild them as they were at first. And I will cleanse them from all their iniquity by which they have sinned against Me, and I will pardon all their iniquities by which they have sinned against Me, and by which they have transgressed against Me.
And it shall be to Me a name of joy, praise, and glory before all the nations of the earth, which shall hear of all the good that I do for them, and they shall fear and tremble because of all the good and all the peace that I make for it.” — Jeremiah 33:3, 6-9
“And the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy which shall be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will bind a baby wrapped in cloths, and lying in a manger.'” –Luke 2:10-12
The Son of God born to the son of man, so the sons of man could be sons of God. Incredible, right!?! God chooses the foolish things of this world to confound the wise. (1 Corinthians 1:27)
Take the Pharisees for example. They were the wise religious leaders of the time – professed worshippers of the God of Abraham. Yet, they did not recognize Jesus of Nazareth as Christ the Messiah. They were looking for a king born in a palace, not a carpenter born in a manger. They were looking for riches, power, and prestige, not humility and servanthood.
The image of the Messiah the Pharisees had created in their own imaginations looked nothing like Jesus Christ, the true Messiah. So they rejected Him. And, in doing so, led many astray.
And Jesus told them in John 8:19, “You know neither Me nor My Father, if you knew Me, you would know My Father also.” And again in verse 42 He reiterates, “If God were your Father, you would love Me; for I proceeded forth and have come from God, for I have not come on My own initiative, but He sent Me.” That’s a harsh word, but Jesus doesn’t tell you always what you want to hear. He tells you what you need to hear.
These are the last days and just like the Pharisees, many will fall into deception. They will seek messages that tickle their ears. Remember, Satan masquerades as an angel of light. The fruit Satan used to tempt Eve appeared good for food, delightful to the eyes, and desirable. And Satan twisted the truth God had spoken just enough so that Eve believed it. It was a deceptive trap and Eve fell.
There’s redemption, but there’s also prevention! You must get the Word of God into your spirit so, through the Holy Spirit, you can discern truth from deception. The Word of God will guard you from deception and renounce the lies the enemy has spoken over you, so that you can receive the fulness of Jesus Christ! I pray you have a hunger for the Word like never before!
This Christmas season and every season, may you recognize Jesus – even when He’s in the stable and not the palace. May you come to truly know Him, not just of Him or about Him. And may you walk in the abundant life he destined for you!
What preconceived ideas do you have of Jesus? Are you, like the Pharisees, looking for Jesus to appear, work, or move in a certain way?When we put Jesus in a box we are limiting Jesus from operating freely in our lives. Furthermore, Jesus is moving in new ways like never before and we must live with our spiritual eyes wide open so we don’t miss Him!
Are you praying, but also handing Him solutions on how He should answer your prayer?When we pray, we need to release our burdens to Him and trust Him in answering. His ways are not our ways. Jesus always has the perfect way with perfect timing!
How much time are you spending in God’s Word?God’s word is a lamp unto our feet and a light unto our path. It shows us the way to walk in. The word of God is also like a mirror to our soul, revealing the true nature of man. It leads us to repentance, gives us wisdom, and is the truths of God. When we abide in the Word we will not be deceived.
Have you eaten the fruit of Satan thinking it was good, but later realizing you were deceived?There is redemption. Repent, turn from wickedness, and call upon the name of the Lord. Accept Him as your Savior. Receive the ultimate gift, salvation. There is therefore, now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus. (Romans 8:1).