Folks; I have got to tell you that Yesterday we had an Awesome morning service at New Hope Missionary Baptist Church in beautiful Grapeland Texas. The Holy Spirit was so powerful ALL of the congregation was lifted up by the power of God. We also had an awesome message and service at the evening worship. My wife, Leona, was also baptized after the regular worship service, Praise God! When she came up out of the water I could see a "glow" around her that I know was the power of the Holy Spirit shining in, through and around her! I was so excited by it I wept, laughed and danced a bit for the joy I felt at knowing she was now, beyond any doubt, truly "Born Again". Forever saved, and her name was written in God's Book Of Life! We will be together forever after we pass from this life into the next for, as Paul says, to be absent from this life is to be present with Christ.
2 Corinthians 5:5-9 (King James Version)
5 "Now he that hath wrought us for the selfsame thing is God, who also hath given unto us the earnest of the Spirit.
6 Therefore we are always confident, knowing that, whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord:
7 (For we walk by faith, not by sight:)
8 We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.
9 Wherefore we labour, that, whether present or absent, we may be accepted of him.
It is a good feeling for me to know that we will be together in Heaven! In my family there are a great number of my ancestors that I know were filled with the Holy Spirit, and that when my time comes to pass from this world I know that I will be present with them as well as I will be present with God! Of that I have absolutely NO doubt.
Philippians 3:7-11 (King James Version)
7 "But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ.
8 Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ,
9 And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith:
10 That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death;
11 If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead."
Long ago when I was a very young man I felt the "call" of God upon my life! I knew I was different. I knew that there was something that God had in store for my life and I needed to discover exactly what that goal was and to work towards it with all that was in my power. I loved being in church and I loved praising and worshipping God. Every time I could be in church I was there. When I was hired for jobs, even when I was still a teenager, I made sure that I would be free to go to church. Most of the times and most of the employers were okay with that, and I was able to go to church regularly. Once in a while I had to take a job that didn't allow me to go to church, but eventually I would work around it and be able to go to church, and if I couldn't I would quit as soon as I found a job that would let me worship. I grew up in the fifties and sixties and church was taken much more seriously back then I think. It played a major role in society and in most families I knew. Prayer was still allowed in school, and prayer was allowed in public at ball games, and at almost every public function. A commitment to God and God's service was much more acceptable. Unfortunately, in todays world and society, it is not necessarily so. So much has become influenced by what is "politically correct" and publically acceptable and it is because of that, that people are affraid of offending someone or some group. Back then I taught Sunday School to 4th and 5th grades and I was very active in the Christian Youth Group at my church. We did all kinds of things for people in our community and especially for the elderly. We as a group would visit the "shut-ins" and other elder folks. Not just those who were members of our church either. We had an outreach to every one who was in need. Our youth group would help folks rake leaves in the fall, trim trees and bushes, paint porches, and at times whole houses if the person couldn't do it themselves. We mowed lawns, weeded gardens, shoveled snow and hung storm windows for folks; AND we did it for free! We also put together food baskets and delivered them, and not just for holidays. When we found out about a person or family in our community that was in "need" of anything, we were there to help. That's the way things are supposed to be! That is part of what it means to serve God. The church I belong to now does a lot of what I have been writing about, but there are NOT too many churches anymore that do that kind of ministry. Oh sure, most all of them have food drives for public assistance groups around the area, but very few of them do the kind of "outreach" that I remember. And they should. Instead folks have to depend on, or demand, government help. Part of the problem, I suppose, is that there are not as many folks who belong to churches like there used to be. That too, is something that has changed for the worse. All that I have been writing about is a reflection of the above passage in 2 Corinthians chapter 5 verse 9 "Wherefore we labour, that, whether present or absent, we may be accepted of him."
Corinthians 10:31 "Whatever you do, do ALL to the Glory of God." That should be our "goal" as Christians; to be accepted of Him (God) in all we do. We need to take care of each other. We don't, or shouldn't have to depend on the government for help. Our churches should be where we turn when we have a need of any kind. God has said that He will provide ALL of our needs. He also promised that for all we have done for others in this world it would be counted as if we had done it unto Him. We are saved by God's grace and that by faith, but when it comes time for the "final judgement" we will have to be accountable to God for our every deed done here on Earth. Good or bad.
Matthew 25: 34-40
34 "Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: For many years I had a poster that showed Jesus hanging on the cross and the caption underneath the picture was;
35 For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in:
36 Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.
37 Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink?
38 When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee?
39 Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?
40 And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.
All that I have written above was part of the way that I thought I could satisfy "the Call" I felt on my life. In many ways if was, but as I grew up and moved from childhood to my teen years, and then into my early adult years I realized that much more was required of me. I fought it, hard! I knew I was ment to be in ministry to God, and to God's people. I reached out to many others in the church and quite a few of them also felt that I should do all I could to enter the ministry. Still I fought it. I became bitter and angry for many reasons, some of them we may cover in this blog a little later, but right now suffice it to say that there were a lot of reasons for it, and I found myself drifting farther and farther from the church and service to Christ and God's Kingdom. It was in the middle and late '60's and into the early '70's when my battle became more and more self destructive. I tried drugs, alcohol and sex. You name a drug and I put it into my body. I was living for myself. I didn't care about service for, or to God or anyone any more. I worked hard and partied hard! Thank God my mother didn't give up on me! She kept praying for me and for my soul. She too, knew I was ment to be in service to God and His Kingdom. Finally, praise God, finally I turned away from my sinful and willful ways and turned back to God. I'll tell you all more about it as time goes on, but for now let me just say "I saw the light"! I had hit bottom. I was completely broken in my lustful ways. I realized that drugs and alcohol are poisons that rob you of life. You may feel great when you're high, but the reality is, you are being slowy destroyed from within. It is a path of slow suicide, because they will kill you! When I finally accepted Jesus as my personal Lord, Master and Savior, I turned back to the path I was ment to walk. I was now a "born again" child of the living God! I was "saved"! I was made brand new in Christ! All of my sins and sinful ways were washed away by the prescious blood of my Savior Jesus Christ. God is always faithful. God never gives up on you. God made it very plain to me that He was always there, even when I was at my worst, He was there with me. Holding me, loving me, waiting for me to turn back to Him. All praise, honor and glory to God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. One of the hardest things for new believers to understand is that they are different manifestations of the same God, the Great Three in One, the Great I AM WHO I AM, Jahova. Creator of all things and Master of the Universe. The Great Potter.
Colossians 1:10-16 (King James Version)
10 "That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God; (11) Strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness; (12) Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: (13) Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son: (14) In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins: (15) Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature: (16) For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him:
No matter how far you have fallen, no matter how revolting your sins may have been; God is there, lovingly holding out His arms, waiting to take you back. Scripture supports this in numerous passages, but one of my favorites is the one from Revalation 3 and another is in Matthew 7!
Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.
Revelation 3:19-21 (in Context) Revelation 3
Matthew 7:7-8"Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: for every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened."
I asked Jesus, how much do you love me? And He opened his arms wide and died for me! What more can I say except that in scripture it is written:
"But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us."
Romans 5:7-9 (context)
Of course we also have John 3:16 that says:
John 3:16 (King James Version)
16 "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life."
No matter what, no matter when, no matter where, God is there, waiting for you to make the commitment to Him. Waiting for you to "answer the door" , waiting for you to accept His only Son as your Lord and Savior! God be praised! If you are not yet in those who's names are written in the "Book of Life", do it now accept Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior. Tell your pastor about your decision! Tell him you want to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ and by the power of the Holy Spirit. Read your Bible every day. The more you read it the more you will come to know God and His awesome power, and the more you learn, the more you will want your life to conform to the life of Jesus Christ. Without God, without Jesus Christ, all that we do and all that we are is empty foolishness. It doesn't matter if you are a sanitation worker, a mechanic, or like me many things; a chef, carpenter / boat builder, wood carver & model ship builder and Nurse, or even if you are the CEO of some big corporation! God wants you to be in fellowship with Him. He loves you, He loves you so much that He sent His Son to suffer humiliation and death for you so your sins could be washed away with His blood; the blood of the perfect Lamb, Jesus Christ. Answer the call - say "YES" to God!!