Thursday, February 15, 2018

Little Did He Know

To the saints of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Do you want to know how much your Savior loves you? How much you have been forgiven?

You may be struggling with “feelings” of doubt about how such a great and awesome God has possibly forgiven you of your past sins. I am not just talking about sins from since you have become a believer but since before you became one as well. These “feelings” may be causing you to be stagnant in the rivers of His mercy and overflowing grace. Believe what the word says and choose faith today. Cling tightly to His promises even if your faith is just that of a mustard seed.

Ponder upon Matthew 18:12 which says, ““What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them goes astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine and go to the mountains to seek the one that is straying?” Jesus is speaking to believers here. Remember Romans 3:23 as to how, “We all fall short of the glory of God.” However, Philippians 2:13 states, “It is God Who works in you both to will and to do of His good pleasures.” In the flesh you can do nothing on your own to please the Lord. By walking in the flesh you will naturally fulfill the lusts of the flesh. Allow the Holy Spirit in which you received upon believing to dwell in you richly. Believe you have been washed in the blood of the Lamb and made white as snow. Titus 3:4-7 “But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior, that having been justified by His grace, we should be heirs according to the hope of eternal life.”

Think about Paul who was once known as Saul in Acts Chapter 8 and how he set out to wreak havoc upon the church by going into every house and dragging off men and women to be thrown into prison. He even gave his seal of approval for the stoning death of Stephen. Yet little did he know (Acts 9) that he would be converted on the Damascus road. He was not the least bit interested in seeking a Savior. In fact he was still breathing out threats and murder to the Lord’s disciples when the Lord touched Him! In Acts 9:4 the Lord asked, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?”

Personally in my own experience I was searching for more but I had know idea what it was until I came to the divine revelation that I needed a Savior. Saul on the other hand was in complete and total rebellion. Don’t get me wrong. I was living in rebellion as well. I still fight against the Lord because I get selfish and I want things my own way. Ephesians 2:1-3, “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, among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others.”

It was in the year of 1990 at the age of 20 during the Persian Gulf War which was immediately followed by Desert Storm that I first began my journey in search of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. I have always been one who has anticipated World War 3 presenting itself right before my eyes and those wars did not help my feelings any. A few seeds as well had recently been planted to steer me in the direction towards the path in which I would choose to follow.  I had been writing poems and songs since I was 15 and I had began making attempts at writing Christian songs. However, I had no idea what it meant to be a Christian. I was somewhat like the Ethiopian In Acts 8:26-38. I had began reading scripture yet I had no idea as to what I was reading. I just knew it was very important. Then not long after that someone began witnessing to me and the light steadily began to overcome the darkness and I asked to be baptized. Although I did not understand what I was reading as an unbeliever the scales had fallen off my eyes and I now I have the hope of 1st John 2:27 which says, “But the anointing which you have received in Him abides in you, and you do not need that anyone teach you; but as the same anointing teaches you concerning all things, and is true, and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you will abide in Him. Now life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness are just a glimpse of the numerous benefits I reap through such a divine deliverance. The life is a life that is found in Christ because 2nd Corinthians tells me, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” Liberty as proclaimed in Galatians 5:1, “Stand fast in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage.” Happiness: Proverbs 16:20, “And whoever trusts in the Lord, happy is he.”

After Sauls’ conversion his name was changed to Paul. He later wrote these scriptures as examples of the point in which I am hoping to make clear. Ephesians 2:4-9, “But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.”

Ephesians 3:14-21 “For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height—to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.”

I can’t help but think that when Paul wrote those verses along with many others that he reflected upon the life in which he had once known and was eternally grateful for the man he was becoming in Christ Jesus as he walked out his salvation by faith while in fear and much trembling. For walking in a healthy fear of the Lord is the only way to be able to shun and run away from evil.

Many people think that because God is love that we should not fear Him. But to those who think such, I say to you, as a child having an earthly Father. When you did something that you knew would not be pleasing to him did you not become afraid of the consequences in which you might face? Hopefully you had a good earthly Father and you know that it was because he loved you and only wanted what was in your best interest. It is all the more with the Lord of Whom created the Heavens and the earth.

For how little did Saul know of the divine revelation he was about to receive when what seemed to appear out of nowhere was the presence of the great God Almighty Himself. If we only choose to see it in the natural then it is totally beyond belief that this same man would be blessed beyond measure in being able to describe his vision of paradise and how he had been caught up by the Lord into the third heaven. Fortunately for us the Lord does not have tunnel vision as He saw in Saul a mighty warrior who was bold and zealous and how much more so once he was to become enlightened with the truth? The Lords pursuit of His children is so beyond comprehension yet defined in 2nd Timothy 1:8-9 as such, “for the gospel according to the power of God, who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began.” It is timeless!

The Lord touched Saul even while still dead in his trespasses. Now to those of you Who already believe, don’t put the the Lord and all of His divine attributes in a box where they have no room to work in your life as he did in the life of Paul. “For it is in Him that we live and move and have our being.” Acts 17:28 Fix your eyes upon Jesus and trust in a great big God to do great big things in your life as you yield to Him. Allow His presence to dwell in you so that others will see the same love of a Holy Father while in your presence.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Shipwrecked Faith

Did you know that you could be shipwrecked and your footsteps still be ordered of the Lord? Paul mentions in 2nd Corinthians 11:25 how he had been shipwrecked not once but three times. Psalm 37:23 says, "The steps of a good man are ordered of the Lord." Paul knew Colossians 1:17 and how, "Christ is before all things and in Him all things hold together." So if he put the Lord first then everything would fall into place to the glory of the Lord. This knowledge sent him on a tumultuous obstacle course of unforeseen dangers. 

However it was through living out such a bold and unwavering faith that Paul was given the great honor of being instructed by the Lord with the guidance of the Holy Spirit to write 13 books of the New Testamant. Paul was obviously highly favored which tells me he was a good man. Yet not only was he shipwrecked the scripture also tells us in that same passage how he had been beaten three times with rods, stoned once, in perils with robbers, his own countrymen, in hunger and thirst and so on.

You see Paul was able to write so many books because he had lived it. For he says in Romans 5:1-5 where he speaks of how we are justified by faith. "Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through Whom we also have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in the glory of God. And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance, character; and character, hope. Now hope does not disappoint us, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit Who was given to us." He also recognized and acknowledged in Romans 8:34-35, "It is Christ Who died, and furthermore is also risen, Who is even at the right hand of God, Who also makes intercession for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?" Verse 37 "Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him Who loved us." As Jesus declared while upon the cross in John 19:30, "It is finished!"

I wonder what Paul did while he was shipwrecked and I can't help but think about when he and Silas were in jail and how they sang praises to the Lord and the prison doors were opened and everyone's chains were loosed. Who in their right mind sings praises to the Lord while in jail?!?! Someone who is free in Christ!!! And because they were free the evidence poured out in the natural realm as the keeper of the prison saw these things and was amazed!!  The keeper fell down before Paul and Silas with fear and trembling asking them what he must do to be saved. You see, in the natural the keeper appeared to be free when in reality he was the one in bondage. I can't help but think that while Paul was shipwrecked he prayed, gave thanks and glory to God and may have even worshipped Him in song.  

Then I think about the songs the Lord has blessed me with and so I sing in hopes that every step along the narrow way that He is delivering me from things such as anxiety, fear of man, loneliness and so on. It is my hope that He all the more uses the songs I sing to set multitudes of captives free as they receive the hope and encouragement such as I have and continue to. As I sing I pray that the world sees the shackles of despair falling from my flesh such as in the manner of the keeper of the prison seeing the prison doors open and the chains loosened. 

Once again; Colossians 1:17, "He is before all things and in Him all things hold together." All things hold together even when it seems they may be falling apart. Paul was shipwrecked but he was being changed from glory to glory. 2nd Corinthians 3:7-18 Job lost an entire family yet he was blessed more in the end than the beginning. Job 42:12-17

In Matthew 3:17 as soon as Jesus was baptized, He went up out of the water. Suddenly the heavens were opened, and He saw the Spirit of God, descending like a dove and resting on Him. And a voice from heaven said, "This is my beloved Son, in Whom I am well pleased!!!" Yet later on down the line the Lord allowed Jesus to be beaten beyond recognition and left hanging on a cross to die. The One Who was without sin among all men of Whom had ever walked upon the face of the earth. How can this be so? It does not seem fair!! 

Mark 13:13 says, "Everyone will hate you because of me, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved!" By enduring to the end we become a living testimony as to the glory of the Lord in Who He is and how He proves himself to be faithful. When our steps are ordered by the Lord then He can become the Author and Finisher or our Faith. All the pain and suffering of this life are temporary yet in Revelation 21 we are told the Lord makes all things new. There will be no more tears, no more sorrow and no more death. We can believe this because the tomb is empty! Death was defeated at the cross!

When a mother has a healthy delivery the baby comes out completely oblivious to how it left the womb and ended up in its mothers arms. Those Who are children of the Lord Who created the Heavens and the earth will pass from death to life and it will be far more glorious than when those who appeared out of the womb without complications to elated parents. We will be with the Father and with Jesus Who is preparing a place for us at this time. Just as a parent gets the babies room ready upon anticipation of its arrival.

The Father pursues us just by causing the sun to set upon us and by waking us up each day. We are to seek Him while He may be found. The only wise choice is to accept the sacrifice of His one and Only begotten Son and be washed in the blood of the Lamb that we also shall become righteous. The moment someone accepts Jesus as their Lord and Savior they have taken their first step!