The Prisoner In Cell Block #6

Samuel also said unto Saul, The LORD sent me to anoint thee to be king over his people, over Israel: now therefore hearken thou unto the voice of the words of the LORD. Thus saith the LORD of hosts, I remember that which Amalek did to Israel, how he laid wait for him in the way, when he came up from Egypt. Now go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not; but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass. I Samuel 15:1-3

(Disclaimer: Okay, this one is a little “dark”. This blogger is allowed one every now and then. Besides, it may be excusable as this post is being written from the city of writers from the likes of Edgar Allen Poe and such. Maybe it pervades the atmosphere). So here we go.

Some Kings Cannot Live

God instructed King Saul to destroy all of the Amalekites in the land and not to leave one standing. He didn’t. Saul did not obey God’s orders. And it cost Saul his soul.

He kept an Amalekite alive. Not only just an Amalekite, but the head honcho of all people – King Agag. Saul played around with the enemy as if he were his own personal pet. Playing with sin is a fool’s game. It will burn you every time. Saul fed Agag bread and water (symbolically speaking) to sustain his life as he toyed with him.

How many of us keep things alive in our lives that God commands to be destroyed? How many Amalekites do we slide bread and water beneath the iron bars of our minds and hearts just to barely sustain them and keep them breathing? They are likened to insidious little pets or obscene, perverted parasites who we find tantalizing to keep entertained.

How many? And Why? The answer is simple. Control. We want to keep control over some things in our lives and not turn them over to God. We can serve in the church and still maintain a level of uncommitted self in our lives. Dying out to sin (and as the song says – “Breaking Up”) is hard to do. Turning it all over to Jesus is hard to do and hard to sustain. The way of the cross (as one writer penned it) “was not an easy sell to the Jews (Israel)” in Jesus’ day. And if we are really, really, really (emphasis on “really”?) honest with ourselves, the cross is likewise not an easy sell in our day and age.

And If the Amalekites in our lives ever find freedom their first victim with be the one who has held them captive – me and you. And they will put their former master into the now empty cell they previously occupied. The Amalekites must die. They must.

There are some things God will never resurrect after dying. There are some things in our lives that must remain in the grave. If not, they will destroy us and thwart God’s will. Sin always breeds a litany of ominous bystanders. Sin never operates alone. It will find converts and canvas for disciples. Sin is always looking to enslave. Sin hunts diligently for occupiers to fill its empty cell blocks.

The Bible tells us that Hell is never full, is never satiated and will always be looking to fill vacancies in the corridors of its empty jail cells:

Hell and destruction are never full; so the eyes of man are never satisfied. Proverbs 27:20

Therefore my people are gone into captivity, because they have no knowledge: and their honourable men are famished, and their multitude dried up with thirst.
Therefore hell hath enlarged herself, and opened her mouth without measure: and their glory, and their multitude, and their pomp, and he that rejoiceth, shall descend into it. Isaiah 5:13-14

There are three things that are never satisfied, yea,four things say not, It is enough:
The grave… ; Proverbs 30:15-16

And we must never think it could never happen to me or to you. Oh yes it can. Well, at this point some will turn off and move on. Before you do that, please read this:

Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall. 1 Corinthians 10:12

A Potential King Born In Shame

Solomon was not the next rightful son to ascend the throne and inherit the blessings and honor of the Davidic kingdom. Solomon actually had an older brother that he never saw nor knew. An unnamed child was conceived and birthed from the tryst between his father and Bathsheba:

And the LORD struck the child that Uriah’s wife bare unto David, and it was very sick.
And it came to pass on the seventh day, that the child died. 2 Samuel 12:15, 18

This innocent child was not destined to live nor was it the Lord’s will for this child to inherit the throne. He is never mentioned again after his death. This unnamed son never lived to see or experience the kingly inheritance rightly due him. There is nothing more heartbreaking to a parent than to experience a child’s passing, especially prematurely. The emphasis here is not intended in any way to minimize the loss of precious human life, but on the judgment of David’s sin.

It was a potential kingly dynasty cut short. A child whose life briefly flirted with royalty, but never lived to see the fulfillment of his kingly inheritance. His brother Solomon would receive that honor and the prestige that should have been his vaporized. An unknown, potential king forever lost in Israel’s ancestral vein of royalty. This unnamed son would not be included in the lineage of King David, nor in the recorded lineage of Jesus Christ.

One remarkable aspect concerning this child is that he was nameless. The child lived for seven days, and against Jewish tradition, was never given a name. The son lived one day short of the commandment to be circumcised – on the eighth day.

There was a reason. It tells us that somehow David and Bathsheba understood the brevity of this child’s life. This child was not meant to be. For seven days this child stood as the heir apparent, the next King of Israel.

Upon learning of his son’s death, the king was heart-broken. He wept. He fasted. He mourned. And he hurt. Sin will always do that. Especially those who are called to be kings. God’s people, the king’s and priests of the Lord. King David knew he sinned. His sin hurt his own soul. His sin hurt Bathsheba.

But, worst of all he knew his sin hurt the One he dreaded the most to hurt – His sin hurt the God he loved.

Can God forgive a man and/or woman who have made the decision to abort an unwanted pregnancy? Can God forgive those guilty of adultery  or fornication? Oh, yes most definitely. If the Lord forgave King David (and He did – read Psalm 32 & 51, the same man who wrote Psalm 23), he will certainly forgive anyone who sincerely repents and calls upon His name. Perhaps it was King David’s intense brokenness towards his son’s death that somehow affected God’s ultimate decision to grant David tremendous measures of mercy and grace. God only knows.

Can we trust Him? Can we really believe that God will forgive us for sins? The hideous ones? Those nobody wants to talk about? The ones that you do not want to acknowledge, the ones that you cringe to even think will again come to the surface? The ones that keep us forever encased in a perpetual jail cell?

No? It is a lie from the pits of hell.

Yes He will. Our God is merciful. Your God is merciful. Ask Him. Cry and weep before Him. He will hear you and forgive you. Who are you to hold on to it?

How will you know He has forgiven you? You will feel it. You will know because when He heals you you will feel clean. You will feel whole. You will feel forgiven and free. And lastly, you will know because you will feel something you have never experienced before the sin – PEACE.

Peace can only come from one source – Jesus Christ:

For the mountains shall depart, and the hills be removed; but my kindness shall not depart from thee, neither shall the covenant of my peace be removed, saith the LORD that hath mercy on thee. Isaiah 54:10

Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. John 14:27

There is no peace, saith the LORD, unto the wicked. Isaiah 48:22

It Will Cost Us Something

I apologize here for lapsing into the first person voice. One objective when starting this blog was to deliberately make it not “about me”.

But, in prayer on the morning of February 12th I asked God to give me more. Give me something that is real. I want the “real deal” from God. I don’t want to be an imposter, a hypocrite, the shell of a former believer.

Okay, and I will tell you what He said. Can you believe that? God actually talking to someone? Talking even to you? Yes He does and yes He will.

And what did He say you might ask?

He said four words:

“It will cost you”.

Doesn’t it always! Can we really expect Him to ask anything less of us. It will cost you. It will cost me. If we really want the goods from God, it is going to cost us something.

Why? It cost Him. It cost Him EVERYTHING!

I will regress here. And please understand that this blogger’s intentions are innocent.

Someone reading the last few paragraphs are going to tune out and immediately start down the road of grace, God’s grace. Hollering, “But, God’s grace”. Screaming God’s grace! “We are saved by grace and not by works”. You can’t “earn your salvation”. “Eternal life is free. He paid the price, not us”. “Once saved, always saved”. However, mind the words from a great saying of old: “Grace is free, but it ain’t cheap.”

“Even if I die drunk in an automobile accident, I can’t be lost if I wanted to”.

Really? I wonder what the one in hell who did die drunk in an automobile accident would have to say about that? It is something to think about.

Still believe that you cannot be lost? Before writing this blogger off, please consider the following verses before making that call:

Galatians 5:7
I Timothy 5:11-12
Hebrews 12:15
James 5:19-20
II Peter 1:10, 2:1, 20-21
Revelation 3:5

What does this all mean?

So, it’s not going to cost us anything? We just go about our business, live for God any way we want and show up in heaven and say: “Here I am Jesus! Been waiting for this day. Just me and you along with the heavenly host.”

I want to be healed. I want to see others healed. You don’t have to be a proverbial rocket scientist to see that we are living in a broken world that is made up of broken people. And if we are really honest with ourselves we have to conclude that we are living in the midst of brokenness.

And I will be so presumptuous and arrogant here to say that you and I all have pieces of our lives and shards of self scattered all over the face of the earth. We are broken. And we need a Savior. Desperately.

Just like the character in the story “Humpty Dumpty”, we have fallen off the wall and all of the king’s horses and all of the king’s men cannot put us back together again. Earth’s kings – never. Heaven’s KING – Oh Yes!

It is going to cost us. Yes. There will be a price to pay for it. But, it will be worth it. Anything will be worth going through if we come out at the end HEALED, WHOLE and HEAVEN-BOUND.

When God decides to open the door of our jail cell and forever close a regrettable chapter in our lives, we need to honor His sovereignty, keep it shut and not allow it to surface, breathe again and live. Like David and Bathsheba’s first child, it cannot be resurrected.

There comes a time when a past action, actions, inactions or behavior has produced offspring when God says: “This can no longer live. This offspring has got to die”.

And whether we realize it or not, we and those close and dear to us are the better for it.

It is painful. It hurts. It hurts deeply. But, it is necessary and needful. For the consequences, if left unchecked, are more catastrophic if allowed to mature, grow and develop.

Offspring conceived outside the plan God has for our lives. We have all birthed future kings in our lives that if allowed to live on would become overlords and masters that will drive us down a path of destruction. Kings birthed that are not meant to live. And God has chosen it to be that way. They must die and not live. Just as with King Saul and King Agag.

The Bible gives us some insight into offspring who were allowed to live and the destruction and chaos left in their wake. Our thoughts go back to Cain, Ishmael, Nimrod, Absalom, Ahab, Ahaziah, and many others.

How many kings have we conceived in our lives that have grieved the heart of Almighty God? Let’s start with these: Unforgiveness. Guilt. SHAME. Lust. Greed. Lying. Cursing. Ungodly thoughts. Fill in the blank ____________ .

The Number Six

Why cell block #6? The number 6 is the number of imperfection, the number of incompleteness. The number of carnality. The number of man. Left unrestored and unregenerated by the blood of Jesus, it is our number – 6, incomplete.

May the God of heaven help the person looking in the mirror search his or her heart and reveal any prisoners that may be lurking in cell block number 6:

But there is a God in heaven that revealeth secrets… Daniel 2:28

Yes, yes there is, there is a God in heaven that “revealeth secrets” and the Lord handles them in love, with integrity, dignity, sincerity, compassion, and grace.

What are your secrets? Tell him about them. He already knows all about them anyway. It is time to leave cell block #6 and be healed. In Jesus’ name.

If you are not connected to a body of believers, pray that the Lord will lead you to the right one. He will, but you have to ask for it takes a spiritual body to heal spiritual matters:

Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much. James 5:16

Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. John 3:5

Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. Acts 2:38

Be Blessed on your journey. God is very good.

What’s On Your Mind?

mind-1
For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:38-39

Did you notice something there? Did did the writer leave anything out?

The Present? – No (‘things present’ is there).

The Future? – No (‘things to come’ is there).

THE PAST? Yes. The past is missing in the two verses.

The past can separate us from the love of God. The past is the only thing that can sever the love of God from accomplishing its perfect work in one’s life.

The Apostle Paul, the writer of the above two verses, knew a thing or two about the past, and much of it he wished he could forget. Let’s look into this a little bit further.

The Mind and The Conscience

Paul wrote more about the mind and the conscience than any other writer of the New Testament. Before his conversion, Paul was known by his Hebrew name, Saul, the fervent persecutor of the church. He was responsible for putting mothers and fathers in jail, and even put to death. He also tempted believers to deny the Lord and blaspheme his name.

It is quite likely when he ministered in synagogues sons and daughters were present who were orphaned, and women who were widowed, because of the persecution he leveled against the Christian church. His sordid past undoubtedly stared him right in the face on more than one occasion.

This writer of Romans knew about a past filled with regret and remorse. And that is a very heavy weight for anyone to bear. Paul’s epistles  contain all but 4 of the 31 times the word ‘conscience’ is mentioned in the scriptures. Paul had a lot to say about the conscience.

Why? Our conscience has a tremendous influence not only in this life, but also in our eternity (remember the Biblical account of the rich man and poor Lazarus?). Paul knew all about a conscience and he carried the load of that weight on his shoulders throughout his life. He never forgot where the Lord had brought him from. It is good to think like that.

The somewhat condescending nature Paul embraced bled into his thought patterns. This in turn caused his epistles to reveal a writer as someone who lived with a heightened sense of awareness of the human conscience. Interspersed throughout Paul’s writings we see a man who lays bare his inner man and shows a hurt deep down inside that he could never dismiss.

We read scriptures such as:

This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief. I Timothy 1:15

And ….

And last of all he was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time.
For I am the least of the apostles, that am not meet to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.
But by the grace of God I am what I am….. I Corinthians 15:8-10

The phrase “born out of due time” is actually the translation of a Greek word used only one time in the New Testament – ektrōma. Ektroma means ‘a wound’, an ‘untimely birth’, a ‘miscarriage’ (abortion).

Paul is literally saying that he considers his life, in comparison to Jesus’ other esteemed acquaintances and intimate companions, a mistake, an aberration, a birth gone awry.

Why make such a fuss over the conscience? Because the conscience is a major player in spiritual growth. One cannot grow spiritually, mature or allow the Lord to build the level of perfection He desires into our lives if our conscience is out of kilter and misaligned. In fact, one just simply cannot effectively operate in any kind of spiritual capacity if a past lurking in the background is birthing a mercurial conscience:

And herein do I exercise myself, to have always a conscience void of offence toward God, and toward men. Acts 24:16

There are men and women who formerly held responsible positions in the church, pastors, pastor’s wives, Sunday school teachers, or just everyday normal people who may have never set foot in a church who are separated from their healing by God’s love. Why? How?

Because of their past. A past that will not let them go. A past that separates them from God’s healing love.

The Solution

Let’s start with the ‘numero uno’, the big enchilada that stumps us the biggest and is the wrecking ball of our past, the ‘S’ word – SIN.
When you start to make a move towards God you will have to face the ‘S’ word. Jesus has us covered on that one:

Thou hast put all things in subjection under his feet. For in that he put all in subjection under him, he left nothing that is not put under him. But now we see not yet all things put under him.
But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man.
For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings. Hebrews 2:8-10

Our sins and our PAST can be ‘put under’ and put away by the blood of Jesus Christ. There is more.

Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool. Isaiah 1:18

For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. John 3:17

And …

Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. Acts 2:38

Looking Past the Past

In conclusion, the only way one can be separated from the love of God is for that separation to be generated internally, not externally, by that person. If such a force exists it must be of an internal origin, a space of time known as the past.

In fact, Jesus eludes to this space in Luke 9:62:

And Jesus said unto him, No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.

By looking at things we leave behind, things in the past, we disqualify ourselves from doing kingdom business.

Is your past holding you back? If Jesus gave Paul the healing he needed to become a champion and powerful messenger of the love and grace of Jesus Christ to a dark and sinful world, He can do the same for you.

Be Blessed.

The Death of the Cross

Who, being in the form of God, thought it not
robbery to be equal with God:
Good Friday 1
But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:
And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Philippians 2:6-8

Good Friday – today is the day Christians throughout the world set aside to remember, reflect and meditate on the sacrifice our Lord Jesus Christ made for all of humanity. The world would never be the same after that fateful day over 2,000 years ago.

Jesus lived for “Good Friday“. The cross was the object of his mission – to seek and to save the lost. The lost like me and the lost like you.

Jesus risked everything by laying down his life. Life is all about risks. And the greater the risk, the greater is the potential for greatness.

Jesus himself validated this principle in his parable of the talents (Mat 25:14-30).
Little risk results in little reward. Great risk results in great reward.

The closer you get to God, and as the death to self intensifies, the deeper your spirituality becomes.

And with that the risk of being offended magnifies. Let’s take a look:

And when they were come to the place, which is called Calvary, there they crucified him, and the malefactors, one on the right hand, and the other on the left. Luke 2::33

What is remedy for offenses of this magnitude? Jesus gave us the answer:

Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do. And they parted his raiment, and cast lots. Luke 23:4

The Lord knew that offense would need to be dealt with in the life of his believers. As we see in the Book of Hebrews:

For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds. Hebrews 12:3

When you are hanging on your own cross from the hands of insensitive and hurtful people, you have only one antidote, the same one Jesus used –

“Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.”

Today, Good Friday, is not only about sacrifice. It is also all about forgiveness.

Forgiveness is the healer of every offense, physical abuse, spiritual wound, harsh word spoken or unkind treatment.

Forgiveness.

Have a good Good Friday.