Old to New

I love those 3 verses in Acts, chapter 9.  Here, in the passage, Dr. Luke records an excerpt that defies logic and predictability.  It concerns a man named Saul, of Tarsus:  “At once (in other words, without delay), he (Saul of Tarsus, now called, Paul) began to preach in the synagogues that Jesus is the Son of God. All those who heard him (which were many) were astonished and asked, ‘Isn’t he the man who raised chaos in Jerusalem (the epicenter of religion) among those (Christians; Christ-followers) who call on his name (the name of Jesus)?  And hasn’t he (Paul) come here to take them as prisoners to the chief priests?’  Yet, Saul (also Paul) grew more and more influential and baffled the Jews living in Damascus by proving that Jesus is the Messiah” (Acts 9, vv.20-22).  Note:  Info appearing in ( ) is added.

Saul of Tarsus, who was called and referred to as Paul after his Christ filled conversion, went from old to new – from death to life – from religion to relationship – from condemnation to conversion – when the Lord Almighty met him on that road.  Nothing was ever the same again.  His life, the Christian Church, the Mission of God in the world was changed and impacted from that day forward.

There is no indication from scripture that Saul, the Christian hunter who had been licensed to capture and return Christians to Jerusalem was ever made aware that this cataclysmic event would occur.  No where are we told or are led to believe that he anticipated going from darkness to light; that he had o.k.’d this work of God in advance.  No, he wasn’t consulted by the Most High.  Yet, he was converted from old to new.  God Himself, in His vision and plan, set apart Paul for the work of the Gospel – without getting Paul’s consent and prior written approval.

Friends, we are reminded that God is still at work in this world.  Even when we can’t see it, don’t have knowledge or direct sight of it, or when it feels like it’s been a while since we last captured a glimpse – God is at work in deep, profound, life-changing ways.  You see, God goes much deeper than anything we can imagine.  He knows the heart of man – and more importantly, He knows what’s “in” the heart of man.  We are merely invited to participate, pray, and proactively go for Him, for His Kingdom, for His work.  But in all honesty – we do so little.  His work is the work that reigns supreme.  We are merely vehicles of His grace, love, and joy; giving all praise and honor back to Him.

Paul wrote this line in his letter to the Church in Philippi:  “I can do all things in Christ, Who strengthens me” (4, v.13).  Do you want to know where the real battle is today?  Do you want to know how one word, in this statement out of Philippians 4, v.13, can change the whole perspective.  Consider this, and consider the contention of it:  “I can do all things in myself, who strengthens me.”  Did you get it?  The real contention and battle today is in showing people how “we” can convince ourselves that we can somehow, someway, strengthen ourselves.  Many people are believing it – many people are trying it.

I know because I have been there.  I know because I know how empty of a lie it is.  Sure, some to appear to do o.k., and some may even be sufficient for themselves for seasons of life.  But I submit to you that in them, deep down where no one else can go or access – there is a major void.  There is a vacuum that is unfilled – a seed that hasn’t been tended.  Again, I know.  Some will look it over and continue to believe:  “I can do all things in myself, who strengthens me.”  Saul of Tarsus, Paul – came to the end of himself and to all of his “self” strength, and it all started when God got his attention.  That was the beginning of life, real life, for Paul.  And it can be the beginning of life, real life, for each and every one of us.  Don’t think the experience or the encounter will be, or has to be, the same.  Each one varies.  Just know God’s presence is real and simply be open to what God is saying, revealing, or convicting you of.  His grace has gone before us.  His grace is here.  He is faithful in all things!

Just some encouragement for the day, I hope.  If you have come to the end of yourself – if you are seeking peace that passes understanding – if you want to believe but feel you lack in faith – let me know.  Email me here: pastorpg@bridgewaync.org and I will help in whatever capacity I can.

In His love,

Porter

Not Fictional

(This Post is based on a 100% true, real-life account)

Ezekiel 34:11, 16:  This is what the Lord Almighty says: ‘I will search for My sheep Myself, and I will look after them.’  I will look for those that are lost, bring back those that have strayed away, bandage those that are injured, and strengthen those that are sick.

Heather was in a serious auto accident just 2 months before she was to be married.  The injuries from the accident left her paralyzed from the waist down.

Immediately after the accident, her finace, Seth, was counseled by friends and family to call off the wedding.  They said things like, “How can you get started in a career and take care of her?  Do you want to commit to this for the rest of your life?  You must consider your own needs.”

Although many (if not most) encouraged him to cancel the wedding, Seth decided otherwise.  He married Heather, and from day one, he has done virutally everything she has needed.  Seth even does most of the household chores.  He helps her get ready each morning.  He drives her to a P/T job, and then picks her up.  He does most of the cooking.

When asked how he manages this, and work, he quickly responded:  “Only through love.  I love Heather.”

What kind of love is that?  It’s not what many people believe about love – unfortunately.  Seth demonstrates a love that is not limited to “warm” and “feel good.”  In fact, Seth admits there are some days when he doesn’t “feel” very loving, or very giving for that matter.  His love and commitment, however, goes beyond feelings.  Rather than a feeling, Seth’s love for Heather is based on commitment, responsibility, and devotion.  His love allows him to give and never expect anything in return.  Seth’s love positions him to put aside his own dreams and plans for her.

The love that Seth demonstrates for Heather is the kind of love that God demonstrates for us.  God provides for us – even when we don’t recognize it or give Him credit – knowing that we are unable to ever repay Him.  He loves us with a lasting, enduring, patient love, knowing that we will never love Him as strongly in return.  His love is self-emptying, self-giving, and self-sacrificing.  Even so, God is committed to love us – and He does.

One of the ways we show we love God we love Him is by giving our best for His glory.  This includes: time; treasures; talents; and touch.  Today, if you are falling behind or lacking in this area, of really trusting God and His will for your life – pray this with me:  Father, thank You for your unwavering love for me.  I am amazed at all the various ways You have shown Your love, and grace, and mercy to me.  Show me how I might demonstrate my love for You – knowing that I can never outgive You.  Help me Lord, when I am weak – that my commitment and devotion would grow.  In Jesus’ Name.  Amen.

 

Foggy Love

As of late, I have been back in the OT looking at a few books that are categorically titled, “The Minor Prophets.”  But don’t let that generalization fool you – they are books, passages, and works that carry a punch.  Just because these books aren’t lengthy or are written by a “major” named prophet doesn’t mean we should minimize or look over them.  God’s truth and revelation is found here, to be sure.

In the Book of Hosea, chapter 6, we arrive at a point where once again, Israel (God’s people in the OT), have rejected the Lord’s Promise.  This pattern is a consistent thread throughout the entirety of the OT.  Here, the prophet writes these words, given by the Lord:  “What should I do with you Ephraim?  What should I do with you Judah?  Your love is like fog in the morning.  It disappears as quickly as the morning dew” (v.4).

As a form of weather, fog is really kind of bland.  Wikipedia defines fog as:  “a collection of liquid droplets or ice crystals suspended in air, at or near the earth’s surface.”  You see, fog exists when it’s not wet enough to rain and not clear enough to have sunshine.  It’s in-between, it’s “in the middle” – so to speak.

The prophet Hosea is sent to inform Israel that God’s love for them was sufficient, but that their commitment and devotion to Him had “become like morning fog.” Their love for God was “in the middle” – here one moment, gone another.  It was inconsistent.  Seemed the people knew the right “God-talk” but never seemed quite ready and willing to give God the love that He so desired and called them to.  As Israel’s love varied, they did not depend on God as they should.  Hence the phrase, “Your love is like fog in the morning, it disappears as quickly as the morning dew.”

Their love for the Lord wasn’t wet enough to pour down; it wasn’t clear enough to bring forth sunshine.  Now, how many are like this today?  How many have a foggy love for God?  People want enough of God to perhaps feel good, but not enough to be life-changing.  People speak all the right words and nod with their heads, but actions continue to fail to show God love, honor, and respect.

I can say this because I have been there.  Years passed and I had a “foggy” love for God.  Said many of the right things – did some good things too – but with no real, sincere authenticity.  My love for God was like morning dew – here one moment, gone the next, only to come back for a while, and be gone again.  It was a pattern of my own creation and convenience.

If you are in this cycle now – step out and step up.  Recognize that foggy-dew like symptom and seek God’s counsel through the Holy Spirit.  He is able and with Him, nothing is impossible.  His grace is sufficient!  Pray with me:  Lord, show me the places in my life where I have given You a halfway, foggy love instead of a wholehearted, steadfast love that you desire and are worthy of.  Correct me Lord so that I may grow and show myself faithful.  You are worthy of this, and with Your help and guidance, it can be done.  Help me to maintain this throughout my life – that it wouldn’t be here one moment and gone the next.  May Your love, within me, grow and flourish as You desire and have made provision for.  In Jesus’ Name.  Amen!

Blessings and joy as the foggy love is purged from our lives.  Praise God!

Porter

We Believe

TruthIn just about 48 hours, we embark on a journey that seems to be quite important in these days.  It is apparent that this is why God has placed us on this path, for such a time as this.  We will dive into Our Beliefs as a local church family who is part of a worldwide, God-ordained, Christ-led, Spirit-filled Mission.  It matters.

There is a video that has been recently released that demonstrates how people today are “searching and seeking” for answers and for truth.  Statistics reveal that people from all walks of life and in every culture, socio-economic group, and nationality actually believe in something (or in someone).  There is no shortage of “religions” or “faiths” out there, and in these days, people are coming to terms with the fact that there is, and has to be, more to life than what is seen, felt, and experienced here.  Purpose.  Meaning.  Hope. – are but some of the most important subjects people are really contending with.

Some 2,000 years ago, Pilate stood in a place where he could literally look Truth in the face.  Eye to eye.  And his question, as he looked on Jesus, was this:  “What is truth?”  But you know what?  Over and over again in our own lives, we have asked that question – we have wondered.  Perhaps we have even believed and received the Truth, the Logos, and have then swayed, fallen away, or allowed the effect of the Truth to be limited and side-lined in our own lives.  Truth be told – we have been there, we have done that.  But hope is alive:  God can, and will, overcome this and forgive us of it – if we will let Him.  [Why don’t you take a moment right now, and just ask Him to forgive you for those times?  Let’s pause for a moment – I am going to do the same – and let’s just ask for God to forgive and remove those times from us.  PRAY.]

We believe many Truths about God, about His nature, about His characteristics and traits.  His Truth is not limited by our unbelief, doubt, hesitation, procrastination, or season of life.  Now, we do well to just get over all that, and with His empowerment, we can.  His Truth remains constant and consistent, always.  This Sunday (2-10-13), we journey to learn more about His Truth and why it is essential that We Believe.  But not only Believe – Receive His Truth.  You see, all the knowledge and reason in the world won’t matter unless we permit God to work it out in us, and through us, and by us.  His Truth, His presence – within us – formed, fashioned, and worked out with his anointing.  Join us this Sunday @ 10:00 a.m. and don’t miss this incredible season that God is leading and directing us into.  Hope to see you for worship!

He is Truth and He is Love,

Porter