Thursday, June 25, 2009

A Tale of Mercy

Today, I want to share my personal testimony with all of you.  The month of July 1974 was a pivotal time in my life.  I was shown three acts of mercy and grace which began a transformation in my life.   Most of us have heard that being idle is the devil's workshop.  I am living proof of this.  Before I came to Christ, I found myself in trouble.  I was a rebellious young teenager; a problem child.  Perhaps I was just a child with problems I did not know how to handle. 

For some reason, I broke into an establishment and did a fair amount of vandalism.  I wish I could say what motivated me to do this but all I remember was being bored.  Being bored with life at thirteen years of age is not good.  The Sheriff's Deputy put me in the back of his car and was going to carry me to jail.  My mom pleaded with him not to take me there and finally he relented to her wishes.  This was the first act of mercy that month.  I had never been in trouble with the law before and now I had a trial date coming up.  This consumed me with fear and worry but I couldn't say I didn't deserve it.  I knew what I deserved was reform school.

Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.
(Hebrews 4:16)

While I was waiting for trial, I went to visit my relatives in Georgia.  My dad had four unmarried sisters who shared a house there and I went to stay with them for a week that summer.  All of them were devout Christians and in my mind this was going to be a drag.  It turned out to be a life-changing visit.  I was there because they were having Vacation Bible School.  One night after service I told one of my aunts I felt a stirring inside of me whenever the preacher would give the invitation.  I asked her why this was happening.  She began to share the Gospel with me in a way I understood.  When she asked me if I wanted to receive Christ as Savior, I said,  "yes."  She went slowly and patiently helping me to get everything just right.  I literally felt a weight lifted off me when I finished praying.  I had been born again but did not know just what it all meant yet.  I had been granted mercy from God, the highest source of power known.

When I got home I still had to go to court.  My prayers were from my heart but not polished.  I just prayed the best I could.  I went into court  and sat there while the charges were read against me.  My new conversion never played into this because I did not share it with the judge.  He asked me some questions and I answered as truthfully as I could. I was as guilty as I could be and there was no need to make things worse by lying.  He said normally he would send me to juvenile correction but he sensed I should be given a second chance.  He suspended the sentence to probation and let me go home.  I was very relieved but felt bad for what I had done.  For the third time in less than a month I had obtained mercy.  I had obtained grace.  I didn't deserve it any of those times.  Grace and mercy ruled that month because of the love God had for me.  He has the same love for you as well.

Father, thank you for your grace towards me.  Thank you for the mercy you have shown me.  I praise you for all you have done in my life since this time and I thank you for all you are still doing in my life.  I ask that you would bless the ones who read this and help them with any concern they may have in their lives today.  Help them to seek you first when they are having a problem.  I especially thank you for the one who decided to ask Jesus into their heart as Lord and Savior this week.  Strengthen him and put a hedge about him and his family.  Manifest your presence to his life in a mighty way.  Guide him to the place you want him to worship. Thank you for letting me tell him the truth.  May your name be praised forever!  I ask these things in the name of Jesus. Amen.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

A Divine Appointment

On a mid-summer evening several years ago, we arrived at church on a Wednesday night for the midweek prayer service.  My wife and I were new in our music ministry and had been scheduled to do special music the next Sunday.  We arrived with some young people going to youth meeting and our daughter and her friend who were a bit younger.  When we parked the car, we got out and I leaned over for my Bible with my right hand.  My left hand was on the jam of the doorpost in the center of the car.  My daughter didn't notice and slammed the car door.  Two of my fingers were crushed when the door shut. 

One of our friends worked as an EMT and came out of the church when they heard about my hand.  The knuckles of the ring and middle fingers were crushed on my left hand.  My EMT friend looked at my hand and said "I am so sorry, Khris. They look like they are crushed." 

Since I am right handed, I chord the guitar with my left hand.  I told him I had to play on Sunday and he didn't say another word.  He was thinking that was not going to happen.  Someone agreed to watch over the kids while my wife and I headed to the doctor's office.  While we wondered about what the Lord would do, we knew this was in His perfect will somehow.

And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.
(Romans 8:28)

I don't recall any pain after my fingers were out of the door.  They went numb.  Even with the swelling the knuckles were flat as they could be.  We went to one of those emergency care places where you don't need an appointment.  I call them a "doc in a box."  My regular family doctor had closed hours ago and it was closer than the emergency room. 

While we were sitting in the emergency care waiting room we started talking to a woman across from us.  She was waiting on a friend who was seeing the doctor.  We started a conversation and were talking about the accident that brought us there.  My fingers were a wonderful conversation piece at that time.  I wanted to know about her though.  It wasn't long before I knew she wasn't a believer and I began telling her all the wonderful things God had been doing in our lives.  She was really interested in hearing about God.  We talked for a while and I basically gave her the Gospel message.  She listened intently and asked questions but wasn't ready to make the commitment that night.  When I looked down at my fingers they looked normal.  There was a little pain but I could move them now.  By the time I got back to the doctor and had the X-rays taken there were no crushed or broken bones.  My fingers had been healed.

I believe the only reason I was there that night was to tell the woman about Christ.  In fact, I know it.  The Lord will put all sorts of people in our path so we can share the good news.  Sometimes He puts us in their path.  That was God's purpose that night.  I was able to play the guitar on Sunday.  I was playing the same night, as a matter of fact!  There was no swelling or soreness in the fingers.  They had been healed.  I saw this happen with my own eyes! 

No matter what your circumstance you can be a blessing to God by being faithful to do His will.  As a Christian you are called to share of yourself with others who need Christ.  Jesus really went around loving people.  To walk as Christ walked means to love people as He did.  Redeeming the time and making the most of every opportunity is important.  Remember, you may be the only one God has chosen to share with the person He has put in your path.  They may not get another chance if you are not faithful.

Father, I thank you that you have shown yourself in mighty ways on more than one occasion.  I am blessed everytime you give me an opportunity to share your truth.  I ask that you would continue to put people in my path.  Thank you for those who read and have been such a blessing to me.  I ask that you would bless them this day.  Supply their needs and comfort their hearts as only you can.  Help us to remember the honor you have given us as your children.  Strengthen and guide us in your perfect will this day and be a blessing to all we come in contact with.  I ask this in the name of Jesus.  Amen.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Love Thy Neighbor

Relationships are a part of all of our lives. We have a bond to our friends and family. We have those people who we work with on a professional level and we have those people we have met through organizations or church. Being social is just part of the human experience. Most people we get along with quite well. That is the way it works in my life anyway. However, there are people who come around and try to make your day miserable. Do you know the ones I am talking about? Sometimes these people do things or say things you do not like. One time, not so very long ago, I had such a person in my life. This person had a real problem! I had just moved to North Carolina with my family. This person made my life miserable in just about every conceivable way. They would goad me at every opportunity and soon I realized there was something strange happening to me. I hated this person! Now, who had the problem?

Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him.
(1 John 3:15)

This was the verse which came to mind at the time I realized my problem. I wish I could say I felt less than hatred for this person. It was hatred! I didn't want to see or talk with him or have anything to do with him. The major problem with hatred is that it is sin. Hatred has a way of eating at the one who does it. I did a lot more damage to myself than I did to him by my hatred. Pretty soon thoughts of revenge crept in my mind. This was my fault for not dealing with this right away. Now sin was begetting sin! Finally, I stopped long enough to pray about it and the Lord let me know I had to forgive him and ask for forgiveness myself. This answer angered me too. Now hate and revenge were begetting disobedience! Do you see a pattern here? This is not some little story I am making up. This actually happened. After two or three months of this, I submitted. I was stubborn back in those days and not the most spiritual of Christians. I woke up in the middle of the night with this on my mind and my heart full of conviction. I walked outside and told the Lord I wanted to forgive him but I didn't have the ability in myself. I asked for God's ability to forgive to work through me. I told God that I chose to forgive him. I then asked for forgiveness for being full of hate. No bells or whistles went off or any visions or great revelations occurred. The next day I woke up and didn't hate him anymore. I really felt kind of sorry for him. This might not seem like much to anyone else but it was a great relief to me. It put me back in the will of God. I have tried not to hold grudges or let hate get the better of me since then. How about you? Is there anyone in your own life who comes to your mind when I tell this story? If there is, I encourage you to give up all grudges, hate and strife to God. Lay them at the feet of the Lord and He will readily forgive. He will take all of the hate away and you won't have to carry it anymore. Life is way too short to spend it hating someone.

Father, I thank you still for what you did for me then. I pray that you would bring anything I may have against anyone to my mind. I want to forsake all of these feelings from me. Anyone who I have ever had contact with is someone who Christ shed blood for. Put me in remembrance of this. For all who come and read today, I ask you would bless each one and supply all they need this day. I thank you for the forgiveness you have in your heart, Lord. I pray this in the name of Jesus. Amen.

Monday, June 8, 2009

A Good Name

I want to share a story today which was told to me by the person I am writing about.  In a small community here in North Carolina there lived a family.  There was a mother, father, and six children.  Now most of the children were grown and living on their own.  One child was a newborn infant, one was in high school and yet another child was in a hospital with a major illness.  The father was also in the hospital with a chronic illness.  These were long term illnesses in both cases.  The mother also cared for the infant daughter and she also had her father living with her who she was caring for at the time.  Her father was a retired minister who was more or less an invalid.  This mother worked full time to support her family.  She cooked, cleaned, and did most everything she could to keep the family going.  The teenage son did his part as well.  He would do what needed to be done around the house and yard.  They were doing the best they could.  This woman had a deep faith in God.  She still has one of the most humble spirits that I have ever come across.  One day while the teenage son was at school, her father fell from his bed and she was unable to pick him up.  There was this country store about a half mile away where many of the men in the community would gather round and tell stories and socialize in the morning.  This woman went down there and asked if someone could come and help her father back into his bed.  One of the men, perhaps two came to help her.  After they helped her one turned to her and said, "We all know what you have been going through lately.  I never did believe in God before, but I don't see how you could keep going on if there was no God."

A GOOD name is rather to be chosen than great riches, and loving favour rather than silver and gold.
(Proverbs 22:1)

Small communities are places where everyone knows everyone else.  Most of them know what difficulties are going on in your life.  It was no secret this woman was going through a tough period in her life.  From what I understood, this man who helped her became a Christian later.  The mother's example proved to be what was needed to make him think about God.  Her life became a living testimony to this man.  This is not just someone who reads her Bible and loved her family.  She not only was able to talk the talk, she walked the walk.  I know for fact she is not a big talker.  She is a woman with great faith when it comes to loving God with all of her heart.  When I hear a story such as this it really blesses me.  It also makes me want to examine myself more closely in God's light.  Am I doing all I should be doing?  Do I live in a way that is pleasing to the Lord?  Would someone ever want what I have even in the midst of my difficulties?  Lots of these thoughts run through my head.  I want to be an example pleasing to God.  This woman presented Christ to a person without uttering a word!  Can I say the same?  If you are a Christian, there are people watching you.  They watch how you live and how you conduct yourself in various ways.  You may never even know their name or when they will be watching closely.  You may be the only scripture they ever see!  What an awesome responsibility!  This became your lot when you accepted Christ as Savior.  He wants to use you and he is counting on you to be faithful.  I think when we get to Heaven we will meet the souls who were impacted by our witnessing.  We witness with our actions and our life and with our words.  Our life and actions are far more powerful when it comes to sharing the truth of Christ.  May God help you and I to be a better example of Christ with each passing day.

Father, I thank you for this woman and for the testimony she has.  Her life is merely a reflection of yourself.  Help me to show more of you in my life.  I give thanks you have allowed my path to cross hers and that she was able to share this with me.  I pray also that you would pull the heartstrings of those who will read this and give them a desire to be a living witness for you.  I know that some of them are and for those I give thanks.  Grant them the peace and joy which comes only from you regardless of their present circumstances.  Grant them favor with you, Lord.  Place a hedge about them so they will be protected from all that would come against them.  May your loving kindness shine upon and through all of us.  I ask this in the name of Jesus.  Amen.

Off topic--Award

My thanks to Mikes at Your Daily Word for this award. Mikes is a fellow blogger who is a wonderful Christian with a very loving spirit about him. I am sure that he would love you all to go and visit him.

I haven't decided who to pass this onto just yet but I do plan to update this post when I do. Thanks again Mikes.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Who is Jesus to me?

This topic is too big for me and I am the first to admit that. There is no way I can convey who Jesus is and deliver it in a way that does this topic due justice. I can tell you the miracles He did in the Bible and in my life. Sometimes I can answer the question: "What would Jesus do?" All I can do is share who Jesus is to me and hope He will use it to His glory. It is my hope and prayer you will be blessed and encouraged. It is difficult for me to speak this list audibly because I get blessed before I finish. Hopefully you will be touched in your heart for who Jesus is to you by the time I finish.

And Jesus went out, and his disciples, into the towns of Caesarea Philippi: and by the way he asked his disciples, saying unto them, Whom do men say that I am? And they answered, John the Baptist; but some say, Elias; and others, One of the prophets. And he saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am? And Peter answereth and saith unto him, Thou art the Christ.
(Mark 8:27-29)

His disciples knew who He was. He is the Christ, the Messiah, the Holy One of God! Jesus, according to the opening verse of the Gospel of John, is the Word who was from the beginning. He is to be revered and also regarded as friend. Jesus is the One who walks with me in the fiery furnace of the trials I go through. He is the One who "sticks closer than a brother" according to Proverbs 18:24 . He is my High Priest who has sprinkled His own sinless blood on the Mercy Seat of my heart for the forgiveness of my sins. He dwells in the Holy of Holies, which is the heart of my soul. He calls me His Temple according to 1 Corinthians 6:19. He is Grace personified and it is in His eyes when He looks upon me. Jesus is the One who put a rainbow in my heart ending the flood of sin in my life. He is the Balm of Gilead and the Lily of the Valley. He is my Bright and Morning Star. My Lord is my Cloud by day and my Fire by night, guiding me through the wilderness of this world. Jesus is my Fortress, my Shield, my Buckler and yes, He is my Friend who I can cast all of my cares upon. Jesus is the sick person who I visited as an act of kindness. He is the person in prison who I go to visit and encourage. Jesus is the hungry one who I gave food to or the thirsty person who I gave a drink of water to. He is my Lord, my Savior, my God! I could go on! As I said, there is no possible way I can tell you all He is to me. He is my Everything! I only want you to dwell on one question today. Who is Jesus to you?

Father, I have said this the best I know how. I ask you will be able to use it for your glory. I pray for all who read this that you would bring to mind who Jesus is to them. I ask you would use this for them to draw closer to you. I ask that you would draw close to them. I thank you and praise you for the blessing you are to me. I am so happy that I am your child. I ask you would undertake each and every concern those who read this have today and fill them with your peace. I ask these things in the name of Jesus. Amen.