It has been a different kind of week for me, or at least it seems so. Today is also a different kind of post; it is more rambling thoughts
than a devotional. I have found myself doing a lot of reflecting, study and prayer but not as much writing. I have copied and pasted a ton of scriptures to my digital notepad, that I use to compile my thoughts, but I have not been able to put anything together until this morning. It came as I prayed.
As I prayed the Lord reminded me of changes, He has made in me. The weight he lifted from me when he changed me from a creature of the night to one of the light.
The Great Lie
The adversary convinced me from the age of 15 to 52 that freedom existed in the dark. After all, I worked during the day. Work was full of rules and responsibilities. I worked hard in a high-pressure job I needed a bit of “fun” when I got off work just to unwind a bit. But I never saw the bondage of that life.
I worked hard to be the best to assure I could keep my job. It did not matter how good I was there was always someone telling me I needed to do a little more to get ahead or just to stay even. You needed the right car and the right house and lived in the right neighborhood.
I was chained to this life. Work hard, play hard and push to be the “best.” I never imagined I had gotten caught up in this lie. I simply was doing what everyone else did.
The hard part that I did not see was there were about three personalities in me. I was the hard-working businessman who wore a suit till the dress code changed to business casual. The hardnosed tough guy that did not tolerate much from anyone and the biker that was the wilder side of me.
Coming to the Lord
Coming to know the Lord was sudden and really quite a shock. It was not my intention. I was literally just checking out a church after a funeral of an old friend. Then BAM… I was smacked by the Holy Spirit. Everything changed. The road was not easy. I am reminded of a passage in Hebrews.
Hebrews 12:1-2 (ESV)
1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.
That was me, but it seemed more violent. I knew about the witnesses, but instead of simply laying down the sins down I was shaking some and others were like secured with Velcro or gorilla glue. It was more difficult and took much longer than I expected to separate myself from some of those strongholds and sins, and even today if I let my guard down they will try to reconnect.
The Great Truth
Over time I came to realize that the chains and rules the world claims exist in the church and a relationship with God are just not true. The truth is that once you surrender to God and turn over your life to Him, the chains “of the world” fall away. There are still difficult moments because the adversary will try to win you back. Just look at what Peter had to say about it.
1 Peter 5:8-11 (ESV)
8 Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. 9 Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. 10 And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. 11 To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen.
I love this passage. Peter reminds us that the adversary will always pursue us, but we need to realize he does the same to all Christians and we are not alone in our struggles or suffering. God is with us always, and that darkness cannot overcome the light of God!
The Most Important Truth
The most important truth I have been able to grasp is the truth I find in God’s Word. I can read books and commentaries and there is good stuff in them, but God’s Word is the absolute truth that surpasses all. I like what Paul said to the Galatians
Galatians 1:11-12 (ESV)
11 For I would have you know, brothers, that the gospel that was preached by me is not man’s gospel. 12 For I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ.
Paul knew the old testament, and Jesus taught him the Gospel; the new covenant. The more I understand God’s Word, the more certain I am that it is all true, and it did not come from man but is the inspired Word of God, and that leads me to my final point.
In the past few weeks, I have been listening to a guy, Todd Friel on YouTube. His program is called Wretched Radio. I clicked on it because he had John MacArthur in the shot with him and I thought this was one of those guys that would try to slam Christianity, but instead he is more a loud street evangelist. He is kind of like Ray Comfort or Kirk Cameron only a little louder.
I began listening, and it is like the car wreck you cannot turn away from. This guy quotes God’s Word and speaks the truth clearly on college campuses in different parts of the country. He also went to some fairs. He sets up an open mike, and he preaches, and anyone can approach the mike and address him. He does not confront anyone. The car wreck is not his style of preaching. The car wreck that breaks my heart is the number of people that profess to be Christian yet get mad at him for speaking the truth. Some are college students and some of them are older but they all get angry with him.
The part that floors me is that most if not all the Christians that come forward profess that there are multiple ways to Heaven and the God they worship is a loving God that would not send “good people” to hell. They claim the preacher is judgmental and harsh. But I have heard harsh and judgmental, and I do not hear it in his approach. Mostly he asks questions, and when it comes down to it, the people he speaks with refuse to accept the absolute truth. They call it judgmental.
They do not know the Word. They no longer accept the truth announced by Jesus in John 14:
John 14:6 (ESV)
“I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
I think about the time when Christ lived. I think of how few were really drawn to the truth, and I look at that last day when Christ and Barabbas stood before the crowd, and Pilate offered to release one, and the crowd chose Barabbas. I like Marks description of him.
Mark 15:6-7 (ESV)
6 Now at the feast, he used to release for them one prisoner for whom they asked. 7 And among the rebels in prison, who had committed murder in the insurrection, there was a man called Barabbas.
Just let that description soak in for a moment. I had read this passage hundreds of times but a friend shared a video with me and I saw something I had not seen before. What was it that I saw? I saw that I was Barabbas. Yes, Barabbas was a representation of me!
He was a murderer, a liar, and part of the insurrection, and so am I, so are we all. We all know the Sermon on the Mount in Chapter 5 of Matthew. As I consider that sermon and imagine Christ on one side and Barabbas on the other the crowd was calling for me to be freed. The crowd was calling for themselves to be freed, and Jesus stood willing to set us free by shedding His blood on the cross.
In a few hours, Jesus would speak from the cross; 34 And Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” (Luke 23:34a) And when you think about it that statement from Jesus was so true. We asked that He die this horrible death and in so doing He overcame death for all who believe in Him.
I run over all these things in my head this morning, and I am humbled. God so wants a relationship with all that believes, but I fear that not all that claim to believe are willing or hungry. They get that God is a loving God but do not realize the depth of His commitment and what he desires of us. It is not about rules and regulations it is about love and compassion. Not just His, but ours as well. We cannot really know Him with a weekly fix or a few minutes in a devotional and a prayer. I think of Ephesians 2.
Ephesians 2:4-10 (ESV)
4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— 6 and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
I read this passage a lot and this morning verse 10 hit me hard considering the folks who got angry with the evangelist. They all know the first part of this passage, but when it comes to verse 10, they skim over it. But I realized this morning how profound that little verse is.
See, if I do not know God’s Word well enough to understand the evangelist or have an answer like Peter directed how can I know these good works that God has prepared for me. What I am stuck with is being? A “good person” doing “good things” that I come up with on my own? It is hard to be the faithful servant. It is difficult to say I hunger to know all he can about the God who loved me so much that He died a horrible death that I could be reunited with him in eternal life. It seems a contradiction if I do not spend time with Him in His Word and prayer.
Heavenly Father, thank you for this day. Thank you for the gift of your Holy Word and the Holy Spirit to guide me through its pages. Lord let me never grow tired of its lesson and always thirst to grow closer to you that I may grow to know you better every day. Help me, Father, that I might have those answers Peter spoke of in his letter, in Jesus name I pray, Amen!