We drove through town like we normally do and I’m sorry to say, we saw the same things we normally do. It’s so hard to see drug dealers, pimps and prostitutes, horrific poverty and blight. It’s hard to see but the root is clear: SIN.
She wants MERCY. Yes, mercy.
Matthew 5:7 says, “Blessed are the Merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.”
We saw a young lady, thin and looking sickly, walking down the street looking for her next customer. Unfortunately, she found one. I’d bet the farm that she would rather be home, if she had one. I’d bet she would rather be at a job that paid her enough money to eat and sleep in her own room. I’d bet she’d rather watch bad television instead of wondering if she’ll OD this time.
She wants MERCY.
Mercy is God withholding from you what you deserve. God loves her, yes He loves the prostitute. And she wants mercy. Why doesn’t someone stop and tell her about mercy? Where is the Church? Where are the preachers? And where are the self righteous? They are watching bad television, at their own home complaining about going to work in the morning.
All she [we] has to be is obedient: God leads us, He has gone before us to where we are, He has already defeated the Enemy but we still tell Him no. Obedience is the key to blessing, the way to His provision. Does she understand about what Godly provision is? What is blessing, she wonders. How can she understand what Godly obedience is if there is no one to tell her?
“Who remembered us in our lowly state, for HIS mercy endures forever;
And rescued us from our enemies, for HIS mercy endures forever;
Who gives food to all flesh, for HIS mercy endures forever.” Psalm 136:23-25
Mercy. All she wants is mercy…but what she NEEDS is Jesus, and with Him she will be victorious.
A bunch of years ago, I worked at an upscale beauty salon and heard a curious question: The hairdresser asked her client, “When I highlight your hair, what do you want people to see?” This hairdresser was asking her client what she wanted other people to think when they saw her as their ‘first impression’ of her. This is a great lesson on what people think of us at first glance or impression and that we can change what we look like to garner an opinion, good or bad. In other words, if someone saw you on the street or the mall today, would they see a Christian? Are you sure?
Paul said, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” Romans 12:1-2
While researching this subject, I came across many ‘secularized christian’ denominations regarding the teachings of Paul and found that they follow [if you want to call it that] the teachings of Jesus, but not of Paul the Apostle:
“Universalists are rooted in Judeo-Christian tradition and are Christian in that we follow the teachings of Jesus, but not the teachings of Paul, which frankly does not make us Christian by most Christian’s definitions.”
…not Christian? If that ain’t the truth.
And it’s not just universalists that don’t follow the teachings of Paul, most of the emergent movement does not; they feel that Paul was not called or that his Damascus Road experience and ministry was not enough to make his teachings and epistles part of the Word of God or even viable. That being said, they also believe that the Bible CONTAINS the word of God, as if it’s a piece of Tupperware.
Regarding Pauline Christianity: “Reference is made to the large number of non-canonical texts, some of which have been discovered during the last 100 years, which show the many movements and strands of thought emanating from Jesus’ life and teaching or which may be contemporary with them, some of which can be contrasted with Paul’s thought.” Interesting.
‘Contrasted with Paul’s thought’ is a great example of what pains most pseudo ‘christians’ that endorse the gay agenda and lifestyle, abortion rights, ecumenicalism, and the Liberal agenda…to name a few. They believe that since Christ did not mention these ‘maladies’ that they would not be the abominations that Paul cited and therefore either excused, overlooked or even encouraged: fornicators, idolaters, adulterers, homosexuals, sodomites, thieves, covetous, drunkards, revilers, extortioners [1Cor 6:9-10, Rom 1:29-32].
Paul said, “And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord who has enabled me, because He counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry, although I was formerly a blasphemer, a persecutor, and an insolent man; but I obtained mercy because I did it ignorantly in unbelief. And the grace of our Lord was exceedingly abundant, with faith and love which are in Christ Jesus. This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief.” 1Timothy 1:12-15
Paul KNEW he was a sinner! He acknowledged that he was NOT perfect but taught a perfect message that Jesus gave him on the Damascus Road. The relevant ‘easy believism’ that befalls the emergent is not taught by Jesus, it is a demon spirit that seeks to consume and forsake the righteous.
Yes I am getting to a POINT: Even some of the most godly Azusa Street offshoots have been bewitched by not pleading the Blood of Christ or preaching the Holy Spirit inspired teachings of Paul, who was once Saul of Tarsus [Acts 7:58-60, 8:1-3], an evil murderer that was a large part of the ‘church’ of the day. How ironic that someone gets saved from his own church [Acts 9:1-19].
All this being said, the outward appearance of a Christian as a Christian is nearly invisible. We are seen as part of the world with short shorts, miniskirts, men that don’t wear shirts in public, heels that defy gravity or description, foul language, drinking alcohol, gambling [yes, the lottery is gambling], smoking, drugs, adultery, defiling our bodies and fornication…and that’s just the highlights.
“Finally then, brethren, we urge and exhort in the Lord Jesus that you should abound more and more, just as you received from us how you ought to walk and to please God; for you know what commandments we gave you through the Lord Jesus. For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you should abstain from sexual immorality; that each of you should know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor, not in passion of lust, like the Gentiles who do not know God.” 1Thessalonians 4:1-5
Is this a maturity problem of the Christian? Are holiness, modesty and chastity not taught in church anymore? Or is the Emergent Movement making the rest of conservative Christianity look and act like the world to attract moths to the bug zapper? Are we selling ourselves to the highest bidder: “Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? If anyone defiles the temple of God, God will destroy him. For the temple of God is holy, which temple you are.” [1Cor 3:16-17]
Considering that Pauline Christianity is too conservative for the ‘modern christian’, wouldn’t it be apparent that the Holy Spirit has been told He is not welcome anymore?
I saw an employment ad for a ‘Growth Pastor’ once. Look and act like the world, but just show up? Is this the future of the Church? Is this the Church that Christ is looking for when He comes back? Of course not…He did not die for the mega church, He died for me and you. And until He comes back, we need to sanctify ourselves because we are His and His ways are correct. And until then:
“Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:13-14
I am writing this to the pre-abortive moms and dads; I am also writing this to the addict and prostitute. We humans are very quick to judge God for our lives…why are we here? We feel used, abused and unimportant. Our very existence seems without worth but we’re still here. Does God KNOW we exist? I can tell you that there were times when I wondered all of this. I have thought long and hard about how much I have violated God’s trust in me; an expectation He has for the life He gave me, a stewardship and an assignment for my own life that I was not taking seriously.
Bottom line is that I was trying to be my own God for so long that even the God I thought I was gave up.
We are not alone in feeling left on the side of the road. But that is not God’s plan for us nor is it His intention to keep us from being who He meant for us to be. WE ARE KEEPING GOD FROM BEING GOD.
If we feel that we have a life of omission – that is NOT from God. He created us to be called to do a work for Him. The implication that God doesn’t care about His creation is not only NOT true but unbiblical:
“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you; before you were born I sanctified you; I ordained you a prophet to the nations.” Jeremiah 1:5
There is much that this verse says about LIFE. We feel so insignificant because of our sin and circumstances that we wonder why God would bother with us. God is not the author of confusion (1Corinthians 14:33) nor does He delight in watching us fail (1Corinthians 10:13).
Life is precious to God. He gave it to us with hope that we will protect it. As Jeremiah 1:5 says, every human being is known by God before the creation of the world; we are known, we are ordained, we have a work and a plan by God to follow and finish.
Not one person or unborn child is exempt from the will of God or His plan:
- We are known regardless of our social status. Next time you drive down the street and see the homeless, the prostitute, the drug dealer, the passed out drunk, keep in mind that they are also known by God and has a plan set before them BY GOD. Their current status is NOT from God, it is not to be their expected end (Jeremiah 29:11). WE ARE ALL CREATED BY A HOLY GOD. PERIOD.
- Not defined by our parent’s sin. More often than not, children that are aborted are from single parents. Marriage and sexual integrity has become some kind of byproduct of a bygone era; society feels it’s too big of a step to get married but not a problem to have many children or many abortions. Some unborn children are a result from the horrific sins of an incestuous relationship, rape or outside of marriage….even so, everyone is created by God.
- God creates us, not our parents. Our limited sphere of thinking about who our Creator is gives us limited views of everything else in our life. When the awesomeness of God is taken away, then our lives seem less important and our tendency to sin is greater. When we finally realize that God knew us before our parents did, then their sin doesn’t have its effect on us any longer; i.e.: if they are alcoholics or an addict, then we can break the chain of EVERY addiction knowing that WE DO NOT INHERIT WHAT IS NOT OF GOD. Your parent’s sin does NOT define who you are or will be. (Romans 8:1-2)
- God ordains us, the world does not. This temporal world is not going to give you what God can. God has a work specifically just for you. He will protect you and provide (provision, not worldly prosperity) for you when you do His work: “Behold, I have put My words in your mouth.” (Jeremiah 1:9)
- Abortion binds the hands of God. Aborted children had a plan by God that was heinously interrupted by being murdered in the womb. Women and men that act as God to determine what is right and wrong is why multiple millions of unborn children have been slaughtered. God has never ordered that any man or woman abort their child for any reason. Doing so is telling God He cannot be God: “For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren.” (Romans 8:29-31)
Beloved, God has not forgotten you. He will be with you to strengthen, affirm and to deliver you. We are not forsaken, although I know it feels like it sometimes. But the good news is that He loves us:
“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart. I will be found by you, says the Lord, and I will bring you back from your captivity; I will gather you from all the nations and from all the places where I have driven you, says the Lord, and I will bring you to the place from which I cause you to be carried away captive.” Jeremiah 29:11-14
If you are pregnant and thinking about abortion, remember that God has a separate plan you and your precious unborn baby regardless of your current circumstances. If you are post-abortive, abortion is forgivable through the healing and saving power of Jesus Christ.
If you are an addict, afflicted or hopeless, remember that God has a plan for you, too. He seeks you to do His will; He will provide, He will gird you, He will heal you.
If you are suicidal, God is waiting for you to acknowledge Him so He can help you. Your life is NOT in vain, it is ORDAINED.
Your LIFE can change today: “That if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the Scripture says, ‘Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.’ For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for the same Lord over all is rich to all who call upon Him. For whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.” (Romans 10:9-13)
You are not forgotten.
As this year comes to a close, most people will look back with disappointment for many reasons. I think that when we do that we have judged God to be wrong and imperfect. Our perception of what our life has been thus far is just that: Perception. God does not lie [Heb 6:18] and His way is always perfect…but He is dealing with an imperfect bunch of people that don’t want to obey the things of God but to things of the world. We misplace our faith from God toward our family and friends thinking they will make us happy and fruitful. People lie, God does not; people will fail you, God WILL NOT:
“For in the time of trouble He shall hide me in His pavilion; in the secret place of His tabernacle He shall hide me; He shall set me high upon a rock.” (Psalm 27:5)
Sometimes I think we go to our family and friends because we think there is safety in numbers, that they will protect us. Again, even they are an imperfect people that God is personally dealing with and your faith has been in them instead of God. It’s like depending on the weather when it can change anytime.
There is good news! We have refuge in His covering, in His love for us. We are a work that He has molded into what He wants us to be. Accept His covering, accept His assignment because He is perfect and His plan for us is perfect. Do not be afraid or suspicious – just be His willing vessel:
“He shall cover you with His feathers, and under His wings you shall take refuge; His truth shall be your shield and buckler.” Psalm 91:4
AND “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” (Psalm 46:1) BECAUSE “The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge.” (Psalm 46:7)
Consider this New Year to be a year of transformation, a year of faith; a year of letting God be GOD in your life. We are a woefully inadequate people that need direction; El Shaddai, GOD Almighty – you are my shield and my strength [Psalm 28:7]…I pray that all will come to know YOU as GOD, El Shaddai.
“The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?” (Psalm 27:1)
Happy New Year.
Jesus had many divine appointments especially with the down trodden, disappointed and the discouraged. His ministry was to everyone, not just the ‘Religion’ of the day. In the book of John, Jesus showed favor to two women: one was living a hard life of being married several times or living with men (part 1); the other caught in the act of adultery by the Pharisees (part 2).
Sufferings….from abusers, criticizers, liars, revilers, the dispassionate – and that’s just from Christians. Just because Christians are saved and spirit-filled does not give them carte blanche to ‘righteously’ sin against the unsaved OR the brethren. We are either achievers or perceivers; the say-ers or do-ers of the righteousness we have as Christians. The perceivers are outnumbering the achievers.
These sufferings we encounter from other Christians are keeping us from being the achievers we are meant to be. Why aren’t we praying more? Why aren’t we giving more? WHY AREN’T WE EVANGELIZING MORE? Because we suffer at the hands of the Brethren that persecute us.
My husband says, “The Church has the only army that kills its own wounded.” Nothing could be truer.
We are hurt, we are tired; we are nearly an inanimate Christian among other Christians that are medicating themselves with church attendance instead of service and worship. Yes, we have the knowledge of saving grace and faith in an eternity with Him, but like the lady said in the commercials…. “WHERE’S THE BEEF?” Where is the meat of the wisdom and LOVE we should have in Christ?
Should we suffer until Glory? We will have tribulations but to suffer because the Brethren ‘righteously’ sin against other believers is not a prerequisite of Heaven. The Apostle Paul said: ‘For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.’ Romans 8:18
Thank God for the Hope we have in Christ and the Glory that will be revealed. Even though we suffer, we still get the prize.
If I gave you a brand new car, would you accept it? Or, if you found a car on the side of the road with the keys in it, would you look to see if anyone can see you and take it?
In the new car scenario, a person that was handed the keys of the brand new car would ask if there are any strings attached, but the car on the side of the road is almost always taken swiftly…essentially stolen. Most people want to be the one that accepts the new car and says ‘Thank You’ but that is hardly ever the case; they know they do not deserve this brand new car and feel suspicious for doing nothing and guilty for accepting this free gift.
People want what they think is the easy ‘no strings’ way of having something for nothing…the car on the side of the road waiting to be stolen.
Jesus said, “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.” Matthew 7:13-14
People are calling themselves Christians having done nothing to actually ‘become’ a Christian, effectually stealing the car on the side of the road when they could have accepted Christ as Savior and had that brand new car for having just accepted it.
Take the stolen car back to who it belongs and accept the keys to the brand new car…I promise you that this new car will take you to where you need to go – ‘for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God’ (Rom 3:23).
Are you ready for a real heart change? Are you tired of driving the stolen car?
Accept the keys – ask Jesus into your heart, ‘But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name.’
People seek to be complete as a person, a parent, an employee, a citizen, etc. – but do we seek to be a complete Christian and Church?
“If you then, being evil [original sin], know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those [His children] who ask Him!” (Luke 11:13)
The Baptism in the Holy Spirit is an interesting thing in the Church today, mostly because a whole lot of Christians have no idea what the Baptism is or have been taught to ignore it because their salvation does not depend on the Baptism. This is partially true, BUT if you had the opportunity to be better and fulfilled and complete, wouldn’t you want that? And if the Pulpit does not teach this, how can you know?
“He [Paul] said to them [Disciples in Christ], “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” So they said to him, “We have not so much as heard whether there is a Holy Spirit.” (Acts 19:2)
Just as in the Church today, the Apostle Paul sensed a deficiency, or better said, a lack of knowledge pertaining to not just being baptized in the Holy Spirit but who He is and His POWER. The people Paul is addressing are disciples in Christ but were not taught the fullness of what they can or should be as Christians:
Jesus said, “If you love Me, keep My commandments. And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper [Holy Spirit], that He may abide with you forever – the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive [without knowing Christ as Savior], because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you. I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you.” (John 14:15-18)
Some would suggest that the scripture referenced previously in Acts 19:2 means that to be saved you must be baptized in the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:1-4), as the Apostolic sect maintains. Others will say that the Baptism in the Holy Spirit is not for today….if that were true, why then would Christ’s last words before he was taken up, be:
And being assembled together with them, He commanded them not to depart from Jerusalem [keep in prayer and supplication], but to wait for the Promise of the Father, “which,” He said, “you have heard from Me; for John truly baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” (Acts 1:4-5)
AND: “For the promise [of the Holy Spirit] is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call.” (Acts 2:39)
The Greatest Gift: We cannot repay the debt for what Christ did for us, and in spite of that, Jesus gives us the Gift of the Baptism of the Holy Spirit and we don’t accept it or seek it? How He must grieve our disobedience and lack of faith besides the reluctance of fulfilling what He has for us. However, even those that are baptized in the Holy Spirit – spirit filled Christians – have one more step to take, one that is seldom thought of…and that one step is SO important to maintain a Christian’s walk:
“Though I [Paul] speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not LOVE, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, BUT HAVE NOT LOVE, I AM NOTHING.” (1Corinthians 13:1-2)
We can’t keep glossing over the fundamentals of Christianity 101 BECAUSE we are Spirit-filled: “And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing,” (1Corinthians 13:3). When the Apostle Paul spoke this, he was a Spirit Filled Christian that had to learn to LOVE just as we do. The order is this:
- Paul was a sinner
- Paul had to be born-again
- Paul needed to be Baptized in the Holy Spirit
- Paul realized he needed to learn to LOVE both the brethren AND the unsaved
- Paul preached as Christ commanded (Mark 16:15).
As you can see, just as Paul, we have to follow the same order or we cannot be effective as Christians, Ministers, Preachers and Pastors.
How can I get this precious Gift? Seek for it in prayer and supplication, “And when Paul [the Apostle] had laid hands on them, the Holy Spirit came upon them, and they spoke with tongues and prophesied.” (Acts 19:6)
SUMMARY: Pastors and Preachers that are preaching only part of the Bible are not going to affect the Body of Christ as a whole body. The body has many members as noted in 1Corinthians 12:12-31, and every member has a 1)function, 2)needs Christ as their Savior AND 3)the Baptism of the Holy Spirit so that the Nine Gifts (1Cor 12:8-11) of the Spirit can work and flow FREELY…Paul said that he would not have us ignorant! But ignorance of what, who and how the Holy Spirit works is prevalent in the Modern Church even though the Bible says otherwise which can border on being blasphemous. The Church today is much like the lame man at the Gate called Beautiful (Acts 3:2-11); expecting alms but nothing to show for it.
*Notes in [ ] and emphasis in bold and italics are mine.
In the 9th chapter of the book of John, Jesus heals the blind man on the Sabbath. This is a perfect example of Organized Religion, both then and today.
Key Scripture: ‘They [Pharisees] answered and said to him [blind man], “you were completely born in sins, and are you teaching us?” And they cast him out.’ John 9:34
- The man was blind from birth (sin) 9:1
- Jesus opened his eyes (point of contact with the Holy Spirit, Restoration) 9:6
- The man witnesses to the Pharisees (organized religion) 9:13-14
A Type of Salvation:
- We are all blind from birth before we ask Christ into our lives
- Our eyes are opened when we accept Christ
- We become a witness of Christ
Opposition – Pharisees (Organized Religion & most Mega Churches):
- Redefine the Finished Work of Christ (Cross)
- Puts all of or part of their faith in appointed men (false doctrine)
- Replaces the Bible
Summary: Basis of Christianity on the Word of God alone nullifies most organized religions and sects.
The story of the Blind Man is a type of Salvation, one that illustrates how one must be born again. It is also a story of how organized religion tries to redefine God, Jesus Christ, Salvation and Sanctification.
While reading John chapter 9, I was particularly struck by the 34th verse, or I should say that God pointed it out. Organized religion has been the dirge of what Christ did at the Cross. In fact, if you take the time to read an organization’s position papers or ‘what we believe’ or ‘purpose and vision’ you will see what they SAY they believe; read between the lines. More often than not, you will see a fog of nicely written somewhat biblical looking stuff that has nothing to do with what they actually do.
We are in a fog…a fog of self-righteous appointed men that try to take Christ and the Cross out of the Salvation equation. You can’t get any closer to apostasy than that, “For false christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect.” (Matthew 24:24)
The Blind Man was used to show the Glory of God through Christ; he was meant to show the organized religion of the day (Pharisees) that the Son of God was in fact within them, the Messiah. The Pharisees should have known he was the Christ because Old Testament Scripture had prophetically pointed to Christ’s arrival (such as Isaiah 53:1-12). The Pharisees chose not to believe Christ and called Him a sinner. It took quite a bit of time ‘between the testaments’ for man to build its self-imposed religion; little by little the need for the Messiah was replaced with the Law much like what organized religion is doing today. Man takes away, God shows off, man says NO.
In John 9:18-23, the Blind Man’s parents was questioned by the Pharisees about their son’s recent miracle. They acknowledge he is their son and that he was born blind but won’t give Glory to Christ for it, in fact the parents passed the buck back to their son because of their fear of being ‘put out of the synagogue’. Incredibly, the parents chose their ‘church’ (religion) and not their own son and his miracle. The Pharisees called Christ a sinner! And the Blind Man’s perfect response is one that every truly saved Child of God knows: “One thing I know: that though I was blind, now I see.”
What did the Blind Man see? He saw that the Pharisees (organized religion) were wrong. He saw Who opened his eyes and then saw division immediately after his salvation, even with his own parents and church. This is so paramount to today: We will gain what we lose if we just believe.
The Blind Man was so happy and thankful for his miracle and salvation that he tried in vain to make the Pharisees understand what happened: “Why, this is a marvelous thing, that you do not know where He is from; yet He has opened my eyes!” (v.30) The Blind Man questioned the Pharisees’ capability and hierarchy which caused immediate revile; the Pharisees let him know he was a sinner and could not be heard, but the Blind Man reminded them that ‘if anyone is a worshiper of God and does His will, He hears him.’ (v.31) The Blind Man had the Truth; the Pharisees had and kept the Law.
After the Blind Man was cast out (excommunicated), Jesus went to him. Jesus provided His strength and love even when the no one else would:
“For as the heavens are high above the earth, so great is His mercy toward those who fear Him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.” (Psalm 103:11-12)