One Thing We Must Know About God

And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you. Exodus 3:14  

Reflecting, meditating on this great God of creation one has to reach some very basic, foundational conclusions. One of those conclusions is this: God has free will. It is important to grasp this understanding because it lays the foundation of who God really is. Let’s take a look.

I AM THAT I AM

How do we know God possesses free will? First, because He said He did: “I AM THAT I AM”. He does not have to quantify or qualify himself. God is the uniquely sovereign One, the occupier of eternity (Is 57:15), the beginning of all things (John 1:1) and the center of all creation (John 1:3, Colossians 1:16-17). God simply IS.

Secondly, because we do. Humanity is created in God’s image. God created Adam and Eve, and every offspring thereafter for one purpose, for fellowship with Him. As one great man of God penned it: “We are earth forms that God uses to express Himself”. God created us for himself. Adam and Eve were given free will and freedom to make choices independently. Love is established on this premise  – free choice.

Because God possesses free will the power of choice is inherently part of His nature. Therefore, God embraces the prerogative to be any kind of God He desires to be. Think about that for a minute and ask yourself this question:

If I possessed infinite power, what would I do with it?

God could have chosen to be a god who reveled and relished in the utmost extreme dimensions of debauchery and lust while His subjects toiled in slavery and loveless servitude. But, He did not as some of earth’s mighty rulers and kings have done.

God could have strong-armed His inferior subjects into submission and mercilessly forced his power upon them. Not tolerating the slightest challenge or resistance to His authority. But, He did not as some of earth’s mighty rulers and kings have done.

God could have created a universe orchestrated with mindless robots who in mechanical and passionless expression bowed before Him in forced worship. But, He didn’t.

Instead this God, this great God of glory and mercy chose to be known as the God of selfless, sacrificial love.

And this great God knew before “the foundation of the world” the price He would eventually pay to manifest and display that love.

He did it anyway.

God chose to be love. A love that knows is no greater love:

Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. John 15:13  

Some Things Never Change

On a hill far away, stood an old rugged Cross
The emblem of suff’ring and shame
And I love that old Cross where the dearest and best
For a world of lost sinners was slain  ~ The Old Rugged Cross

The cross. Someone once said that if I ever get lost just point me towards Calvary and I will find my way back home. Oxygen is good to breathe. It was good to breathe yesterday and by God’s grace it will be good to breathe oxygen again tomorrow. The cross is as powerful today as it was 2,000 years ago. It is good some things never change.

Calvary expresses the dimensions and depths of God’s love. And to think that God knew what it would take to be a God of love and to become that God anyway should take our breath away. That truly is true love.

May our prayer be: “Jesus, even if I had somewhere else to go, or someone else to love, I will still always come back to you”.

May You Be Blessed.

And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing. 1 Corinthians 13:2  

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.

Look Daddy!

balloons2An encounter with a little girl in a supermarket impacted my life today. What was an innocent, innocuous and chance encounter turned out to change the outlook of my whole day.

Here is the story.

I went to a local Giant grocery food store yesterday to pick-up a few items. Upon arriving at the checkout area my attention was immediately drawn to the adjacent lane. It was there that I noticed a bright, metallic gold helium balloon hovering in lower orbit. The balloon was held by a very cute dark-haired little girl with oriental features perhaps 5 years old.

Nothing strange about a girl holding a balloon probably assembled by someone working in the floral department.

Then the little girl then said these words:

“Look Daddy!”

“Look at my balloon”

The girl’s words then focused my attention towards her father standing at the scanner station. Nothing strange about that either except what was an apparent nationality mismatch between the father and the little girl. Her striking Asian features were in stark contrast with the softened features of her American-born father.

The little girl was obviously an adopted child.

Adoption – a mental spark was quickly processed and briefly sustained. The thought,  glossed over by other things swirling through my mind, was then callously discarded. And as this happenstance encounter with a child’s balloon effortlessly filtered into my mind, it effortlessly vanished.

Until this morning.

Look Daddy!

I have purposed in the past several months to devote a special block of time on Saturday morning for prayer. The last several Saturday mornings I have driven to my church and have prayed alone in the sanctuary for an hour or so with God. However, the Lord did something special today.

After praying for about 30 minutes my thoughts were turned to the incident at the grocery store yesterday. And I found myself repeating the following words over and over again while walking through the sanctuary:

“Look Daddy”, “Look Daddy”, “Look Daddy”, “Look Daddy”, “Look at my balloon”, “Look Daddy”, over and over again while tears flowed down my face.

The Lord impressed heavily upon me today that I am also like that little girl in the store. I to am an adopted child.

I was also without a “real Father” once lost in my iniquity and sin. The first Adam blew it. But, thanks be to God the last Adam Jesus Christ has given me new life and is now my “real Father”. We who are believers in Jesus Christ are now adopted as the children of God:

While ye have light, believe in the light, that ye may be the children of light. These things spake Jesus, and departed, and did hide himself from them. John 12:36

Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness. I Thessalonians 5:5

A Change of Heart

Jesus got angry about several things while he walked on Earth and one of those he revealed to me recently through his Word and was solidified with my experience at the grocery store:

Afterward he appeared unto the eleven as they sat at meat, and upbraided them with their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they believed not them which had seen him after he was risen. Mark 16:14

Today in prayer the Lord upbraided me for the callousness of my heart. What I should have felt and been touched by yesterday took almost 24 hours to sink in. And the Lord was quick to point it out.

And like the little girl in the store, sometimes I don’t look like my “real Father”. The surface features of my heart are quite often in sharp contrast to those of His. His heart is always compassionate, merciful, tender and vulnerable. Mine often the opposite; cold, callous, unyielding and merciless.

My Father’s distinctive, heavenly voice speaks with clarity, truth, honesty and grace.

My voice often reveals itself with the local, vocal inflections and accent of a country foreign to His. My voice sometimes produces the sound of what the Apostle Paul coined as “sounding brass” and “tinkling cymbals” – pride, arrogance, timidity, fear, doubt and uncertainty.

We Have Hope

Today I learned that I am adopted, an adopted child of God. And with that I have hope. With the innocent and hopeful voice of the little dark-haired girl, I too can look to my Father and cry:

For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. Romans 8:15

The word “Abba” Paul used here in the Book of Romans is taken from the Aramaic language and can be translated into English as “Daddy”. So, in essence Paul is saying:

” … we cry, Daddy, Father”

And so we too can stand wherever we are (even in grocery stores), look up to our Heavenly Father and cry:

“Look Daddy!, Look Daddy!, ……. Look!” and He will hear us. For we are his adopted child.

May You Be Blessed