I would like to share with you the story of what God did last weekend. It was incredible and I still stand in awe over it. To begin I have to go back to last Saturday morning 8/13/2011. My custom is to wake up one hour before I would otherwise need, to get wherever I have to be that morning, I will spend 30 minutes reading the bible and then spend time in prayer before preparing for the day, which many of you know, as I have shared before to God’s glory He has had me in His word every day since He saved me on May 4th 2003. This particular Saturday morning I was off work and had no other obligations so I was able to sleep in a little and arose a little before 7:00 am that morning. I did as is my custom, grabbed my bible, a cup of coffee, asked God to prepare my heart to receive His word and began to read. A week has passed since and I can’t tell you what I read during my normal reading time, I believe it was one of the epistles of Paul. I finished the particular book I was on and began to meditate on God’s word and talk with God, He then sent me on a journey through His word at that time I didn’t know but it set up the events of the entire weekend.
Why do I talk and write about my Lord? Because He saved me! Sometimes I just desire to impart to you in words what that means and try as I might I just can’t. He saved me, I mean He really saved me and even when I fell into sin since, He has not allowed me to stay in sin, He said “No you belong to me!” Jesus saved me! And it was this morning that He was telling me about His love. He first lead me to, 1John 4:8 “He who does not love does not know God, for God is love”. ‘Ok Lord I know you are love. Then He led me on a journey through His word to define love. He first took me to, (1 Corinthians 13:4-8 (Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, endures all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails.) He showed me that love is unconditional, that love is what you do no matter what you might get, and it does not seek its own. Then He led me two more places two define what love is, first John 15:13 (Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.) Then He took me back to 1 John 4 but this time verse 10, (In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.) I don’t know what these verses do to you but they cause me to drop before the Lord and give thanks, He saved me. After this He took me back to John 15 but this time verse 12, (This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.) He commands us to love one another as He has loved us, now how did he love us? Unconditionally, without seeking His own, He suffered, bleed, and died for us. At this time I found myself back in 1 John 4 reading verse 11, (Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.) How did He love us? He died for us. Then He took me to the verse that got me started witnessing to people two years ago, Mark 16:15 (“Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.”) From there He brought me back to where we began this journey 1 John 4:8 (“He who does not love does not know God, for God is love.”) It was then that the veil dropped before me I could now see what He was telling me. You see, the moment that you believe, the moment that you except Jesus Christ by faith as the atonement for your sins, you are born again, you are a new creature with a new heart, and He puts His spirit in you. Now if “God is love” and His spirit is in you, don’t you think that you would love as Jesus loves? How did Jesus love? He loved us to the point of bearing our sins on the cross and dying in our place! Now if “God is love” and God is in us shouldn’t we be willing to love to the point of death that is if God is in you. You see I really do believe every single word in the bible, and it tells me that Jesus is the Way and there is no other way. If people die without Christ, they die in their sins and will forever be cut off, forever be cast out of the kingdom of God; they will be in the lake of fire forever. Jesus told us why He came, “for the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost” ~Luke 19:10. If Jesus came “to seek and to save” the lost, and His spirit is in us don’t you think He would be doing that through us, even now.
I then spent much time in prayer over this and got up from the table in kind of a numb/stunned state. I wrote my blog as is my custom Saturday mornings as I have been writing on “The Gospel According to John”. I then proceed to do work around the house but didn’t feel right in doing that, I began to have an overwhelming feeling of despair for the lost. Two years ago when I began to witness I purchased gospel tracts from Living Waters. http://www.livingwaters.com/ Million dollar bill gospel tracts, last November I began to make my own and my first large scale witnessing journey was on black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving 2010. So all this year I have designed my own tracts and had them printed in bulks of 1000. The first 1000 tracts I might have given out 20 and the remainder stayed up in my closet. I had another set printed and from January until now gave out that entire set of 1000 tracts. I recently had a third set printed of 1000 tracts.
So I was in despair over the lost and grabbed the tracts I had stored in my closet, put them in a fanny pack and headed out to Broadway Square in Tyler Texas. I pulled my car into the parking lot and prayed, posted on facebook where I was and what I was doing, one wonderful person said she and her husband, her name Amanda and his Jason were praying for me and I can’t tell you how much I needed those prayers. I myself prayed that the Lord would use me that day, and reach someone, if even one person would come to salvation it would all be worth it. So I began passing out tracts one by one, the faces felt dark and uninviting but I was not alone I felt the Lord every step of the way. It was hot that day as it has been all summer in Tyler, Texas 100 degrees F. I labored for hours, I was hot, I was sweaty and I was thirsty and did not see any visible fruit for my efforts. What I did get was snickering, blank stares, and one woman even cursed me just for handing her the tract and wadded it up slam-dunking it into the back of her pickup truck. It had started to get dark my wife called me and we met for dinner. I had handed out over 1000 gospel tracts in one afternoon, that is as many as I had handed out the first 7 months of this year, and still no signs of fruit, just hot, sweaty, thirsty, and exhausted. I am still praying and hoping that God used this time to reach people. So I ate dinner with my wife and went home and crashed in bed exhausted.
I got up before Church and read my bible as usual and prayed. I talked to God about everything that had happened the day before. I told Him, “Lord, I am your slave, use me as you will, if you want me to keep doing this I will, but Lord if you are willing help me to see something. Is what I’m doing what you want me to be doing?” I went to Sunday school and a friend of mine, Waylon, asked me about it, he said, “Was it good?” Still feeling fatigued and probably dehydrated I said, “No, it was long, hard, and laborious.” It was then that the Lord began to answer my prayer from that morning. Another friend of mine Rickey gave his testimony in Sunday school. I have to tell you it was the best Sunday school I have ever attended. In his testimony I saw in a real way God saving a man. Most people say I accepted Christ or I said a prayer giving themselves the power to save, but not with Rickey. He called out to the Lord and God reached down from heaven and saved him. Then it was on to the Church service where Mark Carter the children’s pastor preached because the pastor was out on vacation. He preached a sermon called “Being stuck in the middle.” This sermon was based on Matthew 16:24 (Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.”) Mark said that most Christians are stuck in the middle, they don’t want to be fully in the world and don’t like everything that is going on in the world but they’re not fully sold out to Christ either, they are stuck in the middle. At the end of the services I went down to the alter and wept before the Lord and thanked Him, He had shown me in many ways that what I was doing was what He wanted me to do. That was enough for me I was satisfied, but the Lord was not done yet, not even close.
We left church, had lunch with some friends, Waylon and April, and then went home. My favorite song is Amazing grace; I had wanted to see this movie “The Amazing Grace” about the life of John Newton the Author of Amazing grace. My wife was busy in the kitchen so I was looking at facebook on my phone and noticed and article written by Tony Miano an evangelist in California who works for Living Waters Ministry, he had written an article called “’Why Do You Carry a Cross?' And Other Questions” http://doulosiesouchristou.blogspot.com/2011/08/why-do-you-carry-cross-and-other.html
He stands at traffic lights with this cross and on the cross beam it says, “Are You Read”. And he said in this article that he has this written on there to get people to ask the question. Are You Ready for what? He will answer, “Are you ready to give an account of your life to God?” So I thought about that and how good a question that was to ask someone in a witnessing encounter, because their answer will reveal the heart, what do they truly trust in, what they are trusting in will be their answer.
So Darlene and I watched our movie just as it finished, as the credit were rolling I proceeded to get up to go to the bathroom and I saw a man walking up to the door. While I was in the bathroom I prayed to Jesus and told Him, “I’m going to witness to this man, please speak through me Lord.” The man was waiting and I went outside to talk with him. He was selling electricity for Reliant Energy, I listened to everything he had to say and just as he was about to depart I said, “Can I ask you a question?” He said “sure.” I asked him, “Are you a Christian?” He said, “Well yes, I haven’t been to church for a while but yes I am.” So I asked him, “Are you ready to face God in Judgment? The bible says in the book of Hebrews 9:27 ‘And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment’.” He said, “I’m pretty sure that I will go to heaven, I’m a good person, and I try to do what is right.” His heart was revealed, he was not trusting in what Christ did on the Cross, and he was trusting in himself, his own goodness. So I said to him, “You said you’re a good person, do you mind if I ask you a few questions to see if that’s true?” He said, “Sure, I don’t mind.” So I asked him, “Have you ever told a lie?” He admitted that he had. So I asked him, “Have you ever stolen anything, taken anything that didn’t belong to you regardless of its value?” He said, “Yes I have stolen.” I told him, “What we are doing is going through a few of God’s Holy Ten Commandments. The 9th Commandment says ‘Do not bare false witness’, which means do not lie, and that the 8th commandment says ‘Do not steal’. The 7th commandment says do not commit adultery but Jesus brought light to this to let us know that it isn’t only what we do, but it is also what we think, He said, ‘You have heard that it was said to those of old, You shall not commit adultery. But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart’. ~Matthew 5:27-28” I noticed by now that the man’s name tag said Marcus so I said, “Marcus have you ever looked at a woman with lust, with strong desire to have sex with her that was not your wife?” He said, “Yes I have.” I asked him one more; the 3rd commandment says ‘Do not take the Lord’s name in vain’.” I said, “Marcus have you ever used the Lord’s name in place of a curse word to express discuss over something?” He said, “Yes I have.” I said, “Marcus these are God’s Commands this is the standard by which God will Judge you, now when God judges you by His commandments will you be found innocent or guilty? Now Marcus before you answer your innocence or guilt is not based on wither or not you want to be innocent or guilty, or wither you agree with the commands, these are God’s commands it is based on this, did you break them or did you not. So if God judges you by His commandments will you be found innocent or guilty?” He said, “I would be guilty. But what if I don’t do those things anymore?” I said, “You bring up a good point, the bible calls that repentance, but that in itself can’t save you. What if I robbed a store and killed some people and let’s say I felt bad about that and never did it again, but 10 years had gone by and the law figured out that I did it, if I stood before the judge is he going to care if I say ‘I’m sorry I won’t do it again’. Is he going to care about that? The answer is no, if he is a good judge he will see that I’m punished for my crime.” And I said, “Marcus it is the same with God, He is a good Judge and He will judge you righteously. The bible says that ‘He will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain, in other words He won’t let you off the hook (see Exodus 20:7), that no adulterer, no thief will enter the Kingdom of God (see 1 Corinthians 6:9-11), and all liars their part is in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone which is the second death (see Revelation 21:8). Now Marcus if God judges by these commandments and you are guilty as you have already admitted that you are, will you go to heaven or hell?” He thought about it for a while then quietly said, “Hell.” And it was as if all life had drained from his face, this man knew he was headed for hell. I said, “Marcus God did something wonderful so that you don’t have to go to hell, would you like to know what that is?” He said, “Yes I would.” I said, “Have you ever heard John 3:16?” He looked puzzled, then I said, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” I told him, “Marcus, God is Holy which means separate, we can’t go to God but God did something amazing, He came to us. He became a man and walked among us, He dwelt here on the earth for 30 years before revealing who He was, He lived a sinless perfect life never breaking one of God’s commandments even once, then He went to the cross and willingly took your place on the cross and took the punishment that you deserve on the cross, God the Father literally turned His back on His Son Jesus and cast Him out, Jesus went to hell in your place, but because He is God He did something we can’t do, He came back to life and rose from the grave and now sits at the right hand of God the Father in heaven. Now Marcus what you have to do is this, Repent, no longer trusting in yourself, in your own goodness but instead trust in what Jesus did on that cross as payment for your sins. Marcus, do you believe what I’ve told you to be true?” He said, “Yes I do.” I said, “That’s some pretty good news isn’t it,” he said, “yes it is.” I said, “Marcus do you mind if I pray for you?” He said, “Yes, please.” And so I called out to God and asked Him to be with Marcus and to guide His heart. I then told Marcus, “I want you to do something, repent and believe by faith that Jesus took your punishment on the cross.” He said he would. I also said, “Go home call out to God in prayer and confess all of your sins to Him and forsake them and He will forgive you and follow Jesus all the days of your life, continuing to repent and believe every day.” He said, “I will.” I told him, “Get a bible and read it daily and listen to God and talk with Him.” He said, “I will.” I gave him a gospel tract and we parted ways.
I have to tell you I had to give thanks to God and have been giving thanks to Him ever since. God answered my prayer in such an incredible way I don’t think I shall ever get over it, and hope I do not. Here I go and work myself to the bone distributing tracts and talking with people and see no visible fruit, I call out to God to show me something, He confirms to me in Church that what I am doing is what He wants me to do, then He tops it off by saving a man at my front door. I tell you what; we serve an amazing and magnificent God. Holy Holy Holy is the Lord God Almighty!
Sunday, August 21, 2011
God Is Love. What an Amazing God We Serve.
I believe that man is wretchedly depraved and worthy of all condemnation. I believe that God is Holy, righteous, and just; that in order for God to be merciful to sinful man the wrath of God against sinful man had to first be appeased. I believe the Bible is the inerrant, infallible, Holy Spirit inspired written word of God. I believe that salvation from the wrath of God that we all deserve for our sin is solely the free gift of God given by the grace of God through faith in the Son of God Jesus Christ. I believe there is One God who exist in three persons; Father, Son (Jesus Christ), and Holy Spirit. I believe that Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Him.