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Archive for the ‘Redemption’ Category

Tonight, just minutes after writing about my recent conversation about God, the Son, and the Holy Spirit with my father, I spoke with a young man about the purpose of life.

As he spoke of reasons why he plans on taking his life, I focused on the, “You know how God uses different tools, I’m an encouragement tool, but maybe life would be better if I weren’t in it.”  Based on the laws and standards of my work (volunteer position), I am unable to volunteer information of my personal opinions or beliefs.  I cannot disclose that I am a Christian or that my answer to why should I continue to live? is “because God has a purpose for your life!”

And yet, I paused, and said out loud, “I’m about to break some rules.  Do you mind if I share my interpretation of your tool belt analogy?” As I began to explain the functions of the Body of Christ through an analogy of a construction worker building a house with fewer tools than necessary, the line went dead.

Quickly, I began to pray that the young man would find his way to call once more.  All the while, thinking, out of the last year I have not had a government listener, but today, the day I chose to break the rules, perhaps, he/she heard me and discontinued the call.  Prevented me from speaking God’s Truth into this man’s life.  Worried partially for myself, but more so for the salvation of this young man, I prayed.  And the phone rang, here he was again, “I don’t know what happened, but the phone line got disconnected.  What you were saying was very interesting.  Can you continue?”

My inner Spirit wanted to scream YES! I would love to share with you, I was overjoyed! I continued with the story, and as I spoke, he reiterated time and time again, “You interpreted that perfectly..”  This coming from a young man who was under the impression that no one cares to get to know the real him.

God knows each of us intimately, we cannot hide from Him.  In this particular conversation, the Spirit revealed insights that led this young man to reconsider the existence of God and instilled within him the desire to study the purpose of life.

This young man was considerate and said, “I would like to know what you think the purpose of life is, but don’t want you to break any laws.” I gulped and continued to speak.  I technically did not break any laws.  I praise God that He worked in the conversation and temporarily saved the physical life of this young man, and am delighted to know He has been invited to work on the spiritual life of him as well.

The young man, lets call him J-, was able to see that the job could not be completed without all the tools, and that God has a use for his encouragement.  He agreed to meeting with a chosen pastor to discuss the purpose of life, his parent’s love, death and life, and where God is in the midst of darkness.

As our conversation ended, I began to consider the threat of sharing the Gospel with this young man.  If I were in Afghanistan, I could be beheaded.  In another country, I may be imprisoned.  But as it stood, I could have been fined and fired. Still not a desired end, but so worth it if this young man were truly saved and met Jesus through our shared words!

Let us pray for the persecuted and be mindful of the authority of our lives.  My authority is God’s Word.  Let what is Caesar’s be Caesar’s and God’s be God’s (Matthew 12:17) … J- is God’s!  Who do you claim as God’s in your environment?  Have you begun to share God’s gift with them?

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“Don’t you realize that you become the slave of whatever you obey?”  

(Romans 6:16)

In Psalm 51, as David cries to the Lord, “Purge me with hyssop and I should be clean,” it is notable that he understands that the penalty for his sin is death (v.7).  The story of his sin and its’ cost can be read in 2 Samuel 11 & 12.  His sin must be paid for.  Pastor David Platt adds, “in our sin, we can only approach God through the sacrifice of another in the place of our sin.  That kind of cleansing is costly for that sacrifice and free for us.  This is the wonder of God’s grace” (“The Confession of Man and the Compassion of God”, May 10, 2014).

Paul’s letter to God’s people claims that sin’s power has been broken! He continues to say, “we are no longer slaves to sin.  For when we died with Christ we were set free from the power of sin…Now you are free from your slavery to sin, and you have become slaves in righteous living” (Romans 6:6-7,18).

Platt introduces a third truth in his sermon, “Confession is the connection between our sin and God’s grace.  How can you and I be clean before God?”

Cry out, cry out to God.  And if you do not have the words, you may use David’s (Psalm 51):

Have mercy on me, O God, because of your unfailing love.
Because of your great compassion, blot out the stain of my sins…
Against you, and you alone, have I sinned…
Purify me from my sins, and I will be clean; Wash me and I will be whiter than snow.
Create in me a clean heart, O God.
Renew a loyal spirit within me…
Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and make me willing to obey you…
You do not desire a sacrifice, or I would offer one.
You do not want a burnt offering.
The sacrifice you desire is a broken spirit and repentant heart, O God.

Through honest reflection, we come to believe and live a life reflecting God’s grace.  For man hides no secrets from God.   There are no more cover-ups for our sin before God.

We cannot live by the standards of the world, for then we become slaves of the world.  Rather, we must concentrate on the laws and personal words from God.  In the narrative of David’s life during the profession of these words, we find, “The LORD doesn’t see things the way you see them.  People judge by outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7).  David is not trying to cover up what he has done any longer.  He is justified before God’s eyes and boldly asks God to rid him of his transgressions.  He is a man humbled in confession.

Platt explains that David understands, “sacrifice is an outward ritual that must reflect an inward reality.”

Yet, we as David did as well, continue to struggle.  Paul stencils such a personal conviction (Romans 7:7-25):

If there were no law, sin would not have hat power [to arise such desires within me]…[Sin] uses God’s good commands for its own evil purposes.  So the trouble it is not with the law, for it is spiritual and good.  The trouble is with me, for I am all to human, a slave to sin.  I don’t really understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don’t do it.  Instead, I do what I hate…

…I have discovered this principle of life–that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong.  I love God’s law with all my heart.  But there is another power within me that is at war with my mind.  This power makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me.  Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death? Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord.

Remember that Jesus is the answer, and because His death has claimed victory over sin for all of mankind, we can rejoice, knowing that “not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love (Romans 8:38)!

Press on, even if you must chant it as a reminder, press on:  “I press on…Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead.  I press on” (Philippians 3:12-14).

And when faced by temptations, tribulations, and feelings of defeat, prepare for battle.  Paul has left us with strength and encouragement (Ephesians 6:5-18):

Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.  Put on all of God’s armor so you will stand firm against all strategies of the devil.  For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world…resist the enemy in the time of evil.  Then after the battle you will still be standing firm.

Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness.  For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared.  In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop fiery arrows of the devil.  Out on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the spirit, which is the word of God.  Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion.

Are you practicing outward rituals that reflect an inward reality?  If so, is it drawing you nearer to God or further under the captivity of your sin? What is God calling you to? Where is your blame, do you know that your sin is against God, and God alone? What are you repentant of?  May you find the time to devote yourself to this honest reflection of your personal stance.  Stand firm in God’s Truth and know that you have the full Armor of God as you approach battle.

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March 30, 2014

One week later, from speaking with my friend on the topic of sexual immorality and being redeemed, washed clean by the Lord’s forgiving grace, and God answered with “Thy Will Be Done,” a sermon series from the Rock Church in San Diego, California (http://www.sdrock.com/messages/2014-03-30/).

Today, I woke up too late to attend my own church.  God pursued me by opening my mind to attend the church where I began sponsoring a girl through Compassion International.  Five years later–for the second time ever– God asked me to attend Rock Church, and He inspires a deeper declaration rebuking the hold Satan has in our lives.

Pastor George Clerie interviewed Maria Sainz on “Spiritual Identity Theft.”

We see this Spiritual warfare demonstrated by the shepherd-turned-anointed king in 1 Chronicles 21 as “Satan rose up against Israel and caused David to take a census of the people of Israel.”   David’s right hand man, Joab, asked, ” But why, my lord the king, do you want to do this?  Are they not all your servants?  Why must you cause Israel to sin?”  Still, the captain of David’s army followed instructions and conducted the census.  To which, “God was very displeased with the census, and he punished Israel for it.”  David said to God, “I have sinned greatly by taking this census.  Please forgive my guilt for doing this foolish thing.”  God then allowed David to choose from one of three punishments, and once the angel of death left the people, Israel was forgiven.

Maria considers our bodies as a mobile home, the place of warfare between Satan and God.  However, the Devil has been stripped of his power by the Cross, he needs our help to succeed.   His weapon is deception.  The enemy uses our wounds to make a legal contract with him.

The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly (John 10:10).

“What we give power to will rule over us…When under the influence of the enemy…you no longer go the direction the Father has for you;” therefore, we must first break our contract with the enemy to fully receive peace and forgiveness.  It is by forgiveness that we are cleansed of our filth and revamped into the likeness of Jesus.

Sanctification is a process in which we grow intimate with God as He molds us into the image of Christ Jesus.  Once you have relinquished Satan of his power over you, you begin the process of sanctification.

You may enter into this state of rest with a loving Father.  For God sent His Son before you, has written a love letter to you, and forgave you.  Pastor George Clearie shares, “God is not mad at you, He knew you would sin!”  We serve a proactive God, not reactive.  For He intentionally made you just as you are, chose you individually, and loves you uniquely (Psalm 139).

Excitedly, Maria shared: “Our birth right is to experience the fruit of the Spirit!  Jesus rewrote the contract.  We are no longer bound by law but redeemed by grace!”

May you come to live intimately with God, captivated by His attributes, proclaiming  “I don’t know how this works, but I follow the guy that does!”

Through personal trials, Maria has developed four stages:

  1. Recognize a lie you have been agreeing with
  2. Repent: Ask God for His forgiveness, for His justice to prevail
  3. Renounce: Break the legal agreement the enemy has with you
  4. Refill: Replace the lie with God’s Truth, make a divine exchange

You have God’s permission to rebuke the enemy in the name of Jesus Christ, the Almighty!  Maria describes this divine exchange as the opportunity to be released from your bondage, experience the true freedom of Jesus Christ, receive a baptism of love, and receive a fulness in Christ.

A guided prayer led by Maria: in cooperating with the Spirit of God, expect a break-through:

“Heavenly Father, in the name of the LORD Jesus,

I recognize that I have sinned by agreeing with the enemy in a lie.

I ask you to forgive me for any bitterness I have held against that person for this incident.  Any rejection, any fear, I release this to you now.

I thank you LORD that it is done and over with.

I ask, Holy Spirit, come, tell me your Truth, and fill me. “

Selah.  Stop and rest in the LORD, listen to His guidance.

I am personally captivated by modern psalmists.  By that I mean, Christians humbling themselves at the throne of Jesus, writing poetry, singing praises, honoring His very name.

Strahan’s album Posters is a compilation of this very idea.  In which, they sing “Wells”:

Well I have bought fire and I’ve bought ice
I’ve sold myself and I’ve sold lies
And I’ve walked these streets I know these roads
I know the beat they’d tell you so
And I know
I need grace more than I ever have before
I’ve done one thing and separately
have done the other I don’t mean
I’ve knelt to pray and walked away
And not listened and not forgave
So I say
I need your love now and I need it now to change
I’ve seen the wells with dirt be filled
Stood in the dessert left to melt
And I’ve felt the rain through my veins
To see the wells open again
My heart now changed
You give your Spirit when I give my life away

This is your chance to change, don’t walk away! May you be able to look Heavenward, declaring:

You give life, You are love
You bring light to the darkness
You give hope, You restore
Every heart that is broken
Great are You, Lord*

Two songs to consider in your contemplative spirit, surrendering before the Lord Almighty: “Dead and Gone” by Elenowen, *All Sons & Daughter’s “Great Are You Lord”

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March 22, 2014

We are identified as the children of a perfect Father, not by our own short-comings.

Recently, I spoke with a dear brother in Christ about the transformation of his heart.  For seven years his relationship with his girlfriend-turned-fiance was his priority.  He convinced himself that with marriage in their future, it was okay to practice God’s design of intimacy within their dating years.  When she broke it off, he was shattered.   Three years later, his proclamation of Jesus Christ as Savior and Redeemer is truly his joy.  Now with the opportunity to share, he revealed the Lord’s transformation from confessed sinner to redeemed follower of Jesus Christ:

“Draw near to God.. it is the most important tool to get through times of hurt.

Testimony will bring light into someone else who is going through hurt so that they will find a path of hope, peace, and joy.

Out of every negative, make two positive thoughts out of it.

If you really love someone you are not going to guilt trip them, you will not lead them somewhere they will one day regret.

How are you going to make it, so that next time you will not be victimized?

Advised steps: 1.  Admit “I’m a broken, sinful person;” 2. Rely on Christian Friends; 3. Rely on prayer, God, and the Bible;   4. Trust that God loves me the same as He did before I made the mistakes

You are not less of a person.  We are all broken people.  You can’t look into the mirror and see yourself as anything less than what God sees.  Ultimately, God is going to use you as He has planned.  Seek God’s Word.  Seek God.

How are you going to use this to benefit God’s Kingdom?  It is not your own story, rather, it is God’s.  Allow Him to use it.

In a future relationship, he will love you in all your imperfections.  He should accept the past trials and the transformation of who God has made you.  And when God has you in that relationship, you will thank the Lord for removing you from this painful relationship.  He knew all that would happen in your life, and He promises to never forsake you (Joshua 1:5).

God will heal you, and you will be able to use your healing to help someone who is currently experiencing this hurt in life.

Ultimately He is the one who has suffered the greatest amount of pain, as He did on the cross, in order for us to receive His grace and salvation.”

My prayer is that the life of this follower of Christ is able to encourage you through your own personal struggles, as you claim Jesus Christ as your guide to salvation.

Songs to consider in receiving God’s grace:

Jeremy Camp’s “This Man” and Jimmy Needham’s “Forgiven and Loved”

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