Friday, August 3, 2007

Article: About Him, About Me, About You

It's been a long, hard, broken road and not one that I ever would want to travel again. I can look back only now and say, "I thank God for all the brokenness in my past, because it's driven me to want to know God and to be known by God, to understand God and His love, and to understand how important it is to love others."

By God's grace, and my desire to turn away from the behavior and beliefs - sin- that caused such brokenness, I have been forgiven through Jesus' redeeming blood. And I have forgiven those who contributed to the brokenness. The Bible (God's Word) tells me that I am a new creation now - old things (my dead spirit, selfish desires, twisted beliefs, and eternal destiny to hell) have passed away and all things (my born-again spirit, godly desires, true beliefs, and eternal destiny to heaven) have become new.

I gave my life to Jesus at 13 and surrendered my life to Him more fully at 16. It was then that I became concerned about correctly discerning doctrines and teachings regarding God's Word, and yet, I would go astray later. So to look back on my journey now makes me look up to heaven in the awesome wonderment of God's grace and mercy and feel absolutely humbled and astonished by His ability to perfect His children in the act of accomplishing His will in our lives - finishing the good work He began in us until the day of Christ Jesus' return. "But let us who live in the light be clearheaded, protected by the armor of faith and love, and wearing as our helmet the confidence of our salvation. For God chose to save us through our LORD Jesus Christ, not to pour out his anger on us. Christ died for us so that, whether we are dead or alive when he returns, we can live with him forever." - 1 Thessalonians 5:8-1.

I shake my head as I remember how self-righteous and pious I became in my early 20s, feeling little love and grace toward others who professed to be Christians but appeared to deviate from God's truth and obviously lived in sin. And contrary to God's Word, I felt little mercy toward the unsaved because they chose to be rebellious toward God - they loved their sinful lives and were tainted by the curse of death and sin. Yes, if any one could have been accused of having a "holy-than-thou" attitude, it would have been me!

By my mid-20s, I had become like the Pharisee that Jesus spoke of in one of His stories - “Two men went to the Temple to pray. One was a Pharisee, and the other was a despised tax collector. The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed this prayer: ‘I thank you, God, that I am not a sinner like everyone else. For I don’t cheat, I don’t sin, and I don’t commit adultery. I’m certainly not like that tax collector!"

Most of you know the rest of Jesus' story - the truth that Jesus was teaching became my truth. “But the tax collector stood at a distance and dared not even lift his eyes to heaven as he prayed. Instead, he beat his chest in sorrow, saying, ‘O God, be merciful to me, for I am a sinner.’ I tell you, this sinner, not the Pharisee, returned home justified before God. For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” - Luke 18:13-14.

I had exalted myself in self-righteousness and because of God's truth, His principle stated in Luke 18:14, I would be humbled. Those who do not have a relationship with God through Jesus will ultimately be humbled in death by God in His final judgment, and those who have a relationship with God through Jesus will be humbled during life through discipline, as a son or daughter who is dearly loved and must be corrected.

"And have you forgotten the encouraging words God spoke to you as his children? He said, 'My child, don’t make light of the Lord’s discipline, and don’t give up when he corrects you. For the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes each one he accepts as his child.' As you endure this divine discipline, remember that God is treating you as his own children. Who ever heard of a child who is never disciplined by its father? If God doesn’t discipline you as he does all of his children, it means that you are illegitimate and are not really his children at all. Since we respected our earthly fathers who disciplined us, shouldn’t we submit even more to the discipline of the Father of our spirits, and live forever?" - Hebrews 12:5-9.

"Think about it: Just as a parent disciplines a child, the Lord your God disciplines you for your own good. 'So obey the commands of the Lord your God by walking in his ways and fearing him...'" - Deuteronomy 8:4-6.

Indeed, God's truth prevailed in my life, as it does in everyone's life. Whether one recognizes the dynamics of God's truth working in their lives or not, God's truth prevails and presides! Now, on which side of God's truth we land is left to us, WE will reap what WE sow! "Don’t be misled—you cannot mock the justice of God. You will always harvest what you plant. Those who live only to satisfy their own sinful nature will harvest decay and death from that sinful nature. But those who live to please the Spirit will harvest everlasting life from the Spirit." - Galatians 6:7-8.

Through my self-righteousness my heart became hard and I became rebellious, which catapulted me into making a series of bad and sinful decisions. I was a rebellious child who was disciplined in a manner that would lead me to repentance - we come to repentance by His goodness (Romans 2:4-11)! My prodigal journey began in my late 20s and continued through my late 30s. At the end of that journey, like the prodigal son in Jesus' story, I was left with nothing! Today, I call that period of time "my years in the wilderness."

The rest of Jesus' story about the self-righteous Pharisee became my story, too, but with one difference: after being humbled, I repented and found forgiveness - I was welcomed back into my Heavenly Father's house with His kiss and embrace! (1 John 1:8-9)

"The younger of them said to his father, 'Father, give me the share of the estate that falls to me ' So he divided his wealth between them.
"And not many days later, the younger son gathered everything together and went on a journey into a distant country, and there he squandered his estate with loose living.
"Now when he had spent everything, a severe famine occurred in that country, and he began to be impoverished.
"So he went and hired himself out to one of the citizens of that country, and he sent him into his fields to feed swine.
"And he would have gladly filled his stomach with the pods that the swine were eating, and no one was giving anything to him.
"But when he came to his senses, he said, 'How many of my father's hired men have more than enough bread, but I am dying here with hunger!
'I will get up and go to my father, and will say to him, "Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in your sight; I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me as one of your hired men."'
"So he got up and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion for him, and ran and embraced him and kissed him
..." - Luke 15:12-20

I had wandered away from God and found myself in the wilderness, stripped of everything. But God is faithful even when we're not. He ensured, through my experiences, that my heart's desire would become to love, know, and obey Him, and encourage others to love, know, and obey Him. Along with my experiences, there are lots of Scriptures and stories in God's Word that show us the prodigal, the rebellious, the unfaithful, and the unbelieving, and yet God holds out for them to repent and turn back to Him. Over time, I will expound on those stories and truths in future postings, but there's a wonderful common truth in all: God is long-suffering and patient, not desiring that any of us should perish. The desire of God's heart is to redeem, reconcile, and restore! His heart's desire can be seen in reading His Word from Genesis to Revelation. Old or New Testament, Scriptures point to one thing: the good news of the Gospel - Jesus Christ died for our sins and He rose from the dead on the third day.

The concern I had at 16 about correctly discerning doctrines and teachings regarding God's Word remains with me still, and is perhaps more of a concern now than then since I know how easy it is to fall into disobedience and error. I must add that because of my own experience with sin and error, even after knowing Jesus as my LORD and Savior, and then experiencing the forgiveness and restoration of God by His grace, I feel a whole lot of grace and mercy toward others... no doubt! Funny how God works things out like that. Now I stress the importance of striving to know God's truth since I've learned that His truth will prevail - humans, angels, nature, and satan and all his demons cannot escape it! What God says is true, and His governing truth is that He is HOLY! God is love! God is not a liar! God's character remains the same (Hebrews 13:8, Lamentations 5:19, Malachi 3:6, Isaiah 51:10)! God's promises are never broken... but, again, it's our beliefs and actions that determine on which side of God's promises we land.

I desire that we all respectfully fear, understand, love and embrace the Creator of the universe, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob through His Son, Jesus Christ, in the power of the Holy Spirit. God spoke forth His truth and that word proceded from the unseen God's mouth and was veiled in flesh... the only begotten (sired) of the Heavenly Father. Jesus was God's word made flesh - He was the only way God could be like us and live among us. Jesus walked among us to feel what we feel, to understand our human weaknesses, and to ultimately be the perfect sin offering once for all time and for many (Hebrews 9).

There is so much I could say about the truths in last paragraph alone, such as, Jesus being the perfect sin offering, but I'll save it for another posting. I just wanted to give a high-level overview of my story so you will know where I'm coming from as I write today and more later... so you'll know that I speak the truth very plainly and boldly, but I speak God's truth in love and out of concern, not condemnation. It's never my intention to condemn anyone!

I pray you will be blessed by God today! First, I pray you personally know Jesus as as your LORD and Savior and can stand before God's throne to tell Him about all of your concerns, hurts, trials, and thank Him for all your blessings and joyful moments.

If you haven't believed in your heart and confessed with your mouth that Jesus is LORD, that He is God Himself who was clothed in flesh as a Son and came into this world, that Jesus died for you so His blood can wash away your sins, that Jesus was raised from the dead by the power of the Holy Spirit, that Jesus ascended to heaven and now sits at the right hand of His Father....then you have no access to God. You are still in your sins and He can't let you into His throne room - the heavenly Holy of Holies. He can't let you in through your prayers or when you die; not that He doesn't want to because He loves all of humanity, but He can't because He's HOLY! Sin and an unrepentant person cannot enter His presence. We can't approach God by ourselves, without Jesus and Jesus' blood covering our sin and making us righteous. God sent His Son because He loved us... He loved us long before we knew we were supposed to love Him.

If you believe that Jesus is God's Son, turn away from your sins, and confess "Jesus is LORD" with your mouth, then you will be saved! Then God can and will let you into His presence through Jesus! God will embrace and kiss you and listen to your every word. If you'll stand in God's counsel and learn His truth, then your faith will grow and through your faith He can move your 'mountains' in accordance with His will when you tell them to move. That's just one of God's truths... we must understand that God's truth prevails!



Miriam said...

Baruch HaShem--This is such a blessing!

Yehudi01 said...

This is a beautiful story, Deborah! I pray all continues to go well with you!