The KISS of Salvation

HersheysKiss_2

We definitely have a part in our salvation. One of the main evidences of this is that all men will not be saved. The scripture is clear that God would have all men to be saved as in the Book of 1 Timothy 2:1-6. What keeps all men from being saved is the fact that the Lord gives us a choice and some men opt out. God has ordained that we enter life (Jesus Christ) through the surrender of our will. If you think about it, it is the only way we can be saved. God is LIFE and we have to be willing to follow the ways of life in order to live. If we refuse to follow the ways of life then what is the alternative…..Death. It really is that simple. The beauty is that as we surrender our will to God He empowers us to live in His ways. He empowers us through the spirit in the word we submit too through obedience. The Lord says His word is spirit. So our part is to daily surrender our will in obedience to the leading of the spirit expressed through written word, audible word, inner witness, signs and examples through creation; however the Lord chooses to influence us toward life. When the Lord causes light to shine in your darkness it is your part to surrender to it.

 

Now some men would argue that we have no power to choose that which is good because we are totally evil or dead in sin. It is apparent that the expressions of God to us have enough power to pierce our darkness and penetrate dead ears to give us acknowledgement of truth. The reprobate mind is one that rejects truth after it has been presented several times. It cracks me up sometimes to see how the intellectual mind can perplex things due to too much contemplation and not enough doing or simply trusting. We are warned in 2 Timothy about the effects of too much dialogue through the reasoning of men versus studying word of truth.

 

2 Timothy 2: 15-26

15 Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.

16 But shun profane and vain babblings: for they will increase unto more ungodliness.

17 And their word will eat as doth a canker: of whom is Hymenaeus and Philetus;

18 Who concerning the truth have erred, saying that the resurrection is past already; and overthrow the faith of some.

19 Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his. And, let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity.

20 But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and of silver, but also of wood and of earth; and some to honour, and some to dishonour.

21 If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the master’s use, and prepared unto every good work.

22 Flee also youthful lusts: but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart.

23 But foolish and unlearned questions avoid, knowing that they do gender strifes.

24 And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient,

25 In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth;

26 And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will.

 

The word of truth is the word of God. We need to be patient and temperate and allow God to give us proper understanding instead of immersing ourselves in the mental babbling of men trying to force understanding, moving ahead of the wonderful counselor. Always being able to give a reason for the hope you have to anyone that asks is not referring to being able to explain everything you believe. The reason for your hope should be that you are convinced of God’s indestructible love for you because He died for you while you were His enemy, so you know all the more now that you are seeking Him He will facilitate your salvation and redemption. God has won our hearts through Christ so we follow Him even in that which is unreasonable. The mind has to be renewed but the heart is already on fire and convinced that is if you have heard Him speak of His amazing love. What I am talking about is nicely captured in Hebrews 13.

 

Hebrew 13:9

Be not carried about with divers and strange doctrines. For it is a good thing that the heart be established with grace; not with meats, which have not profited them that have been occupied therein.

 

We have to fight the natural man’s tendency of reaching for the fruit of the knowledge of good and evil or wanting to lean on our own understanding versus just trusting the Lord as dear children. By the grace of God let us K-I-S-S (Keep It Simple Saints).

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Fulfilling His Joy

In America, most people would consider me to be a black man or an African-American man. Take notice that in both instances race or ethnicity comes first, then man. Most people even see themselves as either a black person or a white person and so on. This I believe is a true reflection of how most people think. Most people see race or national origin before they see another human. This is a natural response and really not a problem unless along with that first observation there come also preconceived ideas about that person’s likes and dislikes, aptitude and capabilities. At that point you enter into prejudices and biases that form divisive barriers. Even though people may be physically different, we must be able to connect with them first as being an equal fellow human. If we see it differently than this we are deceived and there is darkness in us.

Those are some thoughts about the general populace. Now let’s consider “The Church,” and I mean “The” Church because there is only one body of Christ. Is the Church anymore unified than the world? Amongst the majority of those confessing to be Christian, I would have to say NO. Most worldly people actually have a lot in common and merely think they are different, however the religious bodies are divided based on actual differences of thought, belief, and practices of living. Just like different races of people, we now have Catholic, Baptist, Methodist, Protestant, Presbyterian, Seventh Day Adventist, AME, and it goes on. It’s not enough just to be identified as Christian. This is why I don’t subscribe to any denomination. Our God is not divided, so what is the problem with those that supposedly represent Him. There is a disconnect between the body and the head it would seem, because the head (meaning Christ, the only head of the true church) desires for the body to be unified, working together in harmony.

Christ made known His desire for believers to be united as one, just like the unity shared between Him and the Father. John 17:20-23:

“I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me. And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one: I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me.”

The division amongst the body of believers today is carnal and devilish and until the cross is truly applied to the agendas of men so that the will of God maybe manifest, it will remain divided. It is my hope that in the near future all of those professing to love Christ will be able to share His love for the truth and then allow that truth to unite them in thought and belief. Our objective must not merely be to be right; our objective should be to be right with God. In a lot of religious communities they have become right with each other but they are misaligned with God. Jesus spent a lot of time in the earth disputing with religious leaders regarding their focus on serving their own sense of righteousness instead of truly being right with God. “Seek ye first the kingdom of God and HIS righteousness….” is what the scripture says.

Do you seek to be dominated by God? Are you seeking to give God increasing power over you…your thoughts, behavior, and aspirations? That is what it means to seek the Kingdom of God and that is what it means to take up the cross of Christ….”not my will but yours be done.” The idea of allowing someone to dominate us or calling someone master meets immediate resistance in our minds due to the fact that the evils of man has diminished our ability to trust. On the other hand, if we are sick and need surgery, we will surrender to a surgeon and get put to sleep allowing total dominance over us. Is anyone more worthy of our trust than God? He wants to bring healing to us and we likewise have to surrender. Jesus proved himself worthy of our trust when He gave His life as a ransom for us. Few men have done that for another so I understand the apprehension, but Christ is truly worthy. Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.” (Matt 16:24-25)

You are not living until you dedicate your life to His purposes instead of your own. A body does not function properly until all its members are correctly processing messages from its head. The Catholic Church says its head is the Pope. I have met Protestants that said the head of their church was pastor such and such or bishop such and such. The bible teaches that the only head of the Church is Jesus Christ.

When believers form alliances with each other based on compatibility, we end up with all these factions of religion. On the other hand if believers focus on transformation through submitting to God’s will, then we have true unity with God and with one another. The commands of God do not vary person to person. We are all commanded to love God with all of our heart, mind, and strength. Likewise we are all commanded to love one another as we would like to be loved. The love spoken of here is not abstract or subjective love but love according to the word of God.

When the body of Christ unites in the spirit of truth, the Church will be glorious and powerful. Denominations will lose their significance as we all come in unity of faith and belief as written in Ephesians 4:11-13: “And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ;” The bible tell us that Jesus endured the cross for the joy that was set before him. Now through the abundant gratefulness we all have for the deliverance brought to us by the cross of Jesus, we now need to fulfill His joy by taking up our own crosses in laying down our individual preferences for the corporate interest of the body of Christ. When the bride (the Church) comes forth in her glory, the groom (Jesus) will rejoice and be filled with gladness. Colossians 1:9-18;

“For this reason we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power, for all patience and longsuffering with joy; giving thanks to the Father who has qualified us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in the light. He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, 14 in whom we have redemption through His blood,the forgiveness of sins. He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist. And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence.”

 

 

The Music Maker

High contrast music instruments silhouette in circle shape. Vector file available. Stock Vector - 11859954

When you think of an instrument maker and how he crafts different instruments you will realize there are vastly different processes employed to produce each instrument. Take brass instruments, first the brass has to be extracted from the ground and then fired to extreme heat to be formed. Now look at wood winds, they have to be taken out of trees and be carved out with sharp tools and treated. Then we have drums and xylophones and harps and pianos, all with their unique processes. Take each instrument with its unique construction process and consider the differences in sound that they produce. Now look at your life and take a look at the experiences you have gone though and how that has impacted your unique voice, your unique perspective. God desires to make all of us unique instruments to be played harmoniously together to express His heart song. It is an inspirational song of love, beauty, and peace.

There is a scripture which says, “We know that all things work together for good to those who love the God and are the called according to His purpose.” We are all called to be instruments of God and He has begun our varied construction processes however those that love Him are the ones concerned about His purposes.  When we are concerned about His purposes we surrender our instruments to be tuned how he sees fit, whether that means tightening our strings further or loosening them a bit, whether that means we are fine the way we are or we need a few more holes drilled in us, whether that means we are formed as a tuba or a trombone. We have to trust that He is in control of the process. In the end some of us will give our sound when the hands of God seems to pound on us, some of us will give our sound as He plucks on our strings, and some of us when the Holy Spirit moves though us as a rushing wind.

What I have written here is just a metaphor to say ALL that you have been through in your life is being used to bring you to the knowledge that God has a purpose for your life and if you will trust Him and try to tune into His direction, He will bring a harmony into your life that vibrates with love, beauty, and peace.

Love Supreme

What do you think of when you think of your first love? Do you think of your first serious crush or perhaps the first person you gave yourself to. Now think…does that love still inspire you, fulfill you, strengthen you, protect you, give you peace, give you joy, give you life. Jesus says, if you drink of the water He offers you will thirst no more, as a matter of fact He says His love will be as living waters springing up inside of you. This is the message He gave to a woman who met Him while she was trying to draw water from a well. She had several husbands and obviously was still searching, still thirsting, for true love. We all have a thirst for love, a deep desire to be truly known yet still accepted, appreciated, and valued. If you have never been totally open and honest in a relationship then you have never been truly open to receive love in its fullness. The fact that Jesus gave His life for you while knowing all that you are capable of, the good as well the bad, is a testimony of His enduring love. Truth is, until you have experienced the love of Jesus you are yet to have your first love. I pray that you will open your heart to Jesus, that you might receive peace that surpasses understanding, joy unspeakable, and love that gives life abundantly. A Love supreme!

The Crossing

Time races like a raging river, moving from east to west, from sunrise to sunset, dragging everything in its grasp along its course,

However in this mighty river there are monuments as great stones that stand immovable,

Stones that stand as memorials in time of momentous events that were life changing,

When we learn from those life changing events, we are able to build structures on these monuments that transcend time,

Through wise counsel we can connect these structures across this mighty river from its southern side to its northern banks,

This structure can serve as a transport that carries us and generations after us to our higher purposes for living,

So that we are not just lost drifts in the river, drug to our sunsets without fulfilling the purposes for our day in life,

Let us learn from the past and be open to wise counsel, endeavoring always to move toward our higher purposes for living,

Then time will no longer dominate us but instead serve as a reminder to stay on our own God given course.

The Seeds of Joy

The harvest is always so much more abundant than the seeds sown. It takes one peach seed to grow a peach tree but after the tree comes forth think about how many sweet peaches will be enjoyed.  This relationship is not coincidental or happenstance but the whole process of sowing and reaping is a law created by God ordained to teach us about life. The implications of this law extend beyond growing vegetation. I have been considering a lot lately the verse of scripture that says, “Sow in tears, reap in joy.”  Consider far a minute the implications of tears being the seeds for joy. In order to have an abundance of joy in your life you have to be willing to sow a few tears. We often avoid getting involved in to situations to a level that opens us to the possibility of experiencing sadness, hurt, and pain but in doing that we also avoid our greatest opportunities at real joy. We have to live courageously and engage life with our whole heart or we will experience life anesthetized by fear. Christ teaches us that in this world we will have tribulation however be of good cheer because He has overcome the world. In this world there will be tears but be of good cheer Christ has secured our harvest of joy. The scripture says that Christ endured the cross for the joy that was set before Him. The focus of the Savior was the joy, not the tears, because the joy is so much greater and more abundant, it is worth the sacrifice. So do as the scriptures instruct, “whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ.” Be brave and live life with your whole heart engaged, knowing that you will have to sow some tears, but let the PROMISE of “abundant life” and “joy unspeakable” be your motivation. When tears fall in light of the gospel a rainbow appears in our hearts, a promise from God that it will not rain for ever. Weeping may endure for a night but joy comes in the morning!

Rainy Days

I wait for you at the well of my love but you will not come and drink.
I call for you to come and you seem bothered by the invitation.
I think maybe the drawing of the bucket is too much, so I make the well to run over.
Yet you still will not come.
So I go to my vast oceans and cause my water to rise, defying gravity, forming clouds of rain, to seek you out over dry land.
I keep my love high above the rudiments of the earth so that when I find you I can rain upon you with pure refreshing love.
I find you and pour my love down upon you, drenching you with the abundance of my desire to satisfy you, yet you complain.
You complain that the rain of my love restricts your activities and spoils your plans but in all of this you never stopped to drink.
You have become accustomed to your thirst, and to die of dehydration has become an expected end.
You don’t understand that I formed you in my love as a baby in the womb, you were made to live on the waters of my love, and even your body is composed mostly of water.
Now you carry your umbrella whenever you see the clouds coming to block the rain, and repel my love.
But I am patient, I am steadfast, I am faithful. It is the time of refreshing you should drink and be filled.
Soon there will be drought and extreme heat and those who did not drink and fill with my water will perish.
The forecast TODAY is rain…will you drink?

Picture from the movie, “The Shawshank redemption.”