The Mercy of the Father: An Underserved Gift

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“Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed, Because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness.” (Lamentations 3:22-23)

Dear Readers, Beloved of God,

Greetings and peace from God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ! The love and beauty of God within the scriptures never ceases to amaze and leave me awestruck! Even in the seemingly harsh encounters we read of in the Bible, I am still able to see His love and mercies abound. Oh, what a treasure He is, and a life lived without Him is certainly void.

I wish to share with you one of the greatest, if not the greatest, acts of mercy that the Father has bestowed on us. The merciful act I speak of concerns our redemption as well as one of the first major prophecies of the Bible.

Please join me on a journey back to the Garden of Eden. Here we find the creation of the heavens and the earth, the birds, animals, and more importantly the creation of mankind. Isn’t the garden wonderful, so much beauty to behold and lovely scents to smell? Do you see it? Even the birds and animals are at peace with man and all creation is in harmony! The presence of God fills the garden as sweetly as the aroma of a gardenia shrub on a summer’s eve. No wonder this place is called “paradise”!

God has demanded obedience to one major rule; “of every tree of the garden you may freely eat, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, you shall not eat”! He even provided a reason for His demand; “in the day that you eat of this tree you shall surly die”. In these scriptures alone we find that God recognized man as a free moral agent.

Now we find trouble in paradise! The serpent has deceived Eve into eating from the forbidden tree and she shares her bounty with Adam. In an instant, mankind is fallen, made aware of good and evil, inherited a sin nature, and died spiritually! The two that would have lived forever, now later experience a physical death. Although conditional on obedience or disobedience, the death of mankind was among the first major prophecies of the Bible.

The disobedient acts of Adam, Eve, and the serpent did not go unpunished and ultimately the first couple was banished from the garden. Let us look closely at the punishment given the serpent and then Adam and Eve being banished from the garden.

God pronounced a curse on the serpent more than all cattle, every beast of the field, and he was to eat dust all his days. In concluding the judgment passed on the serpent, God reveals His redemptive plan for humanity! “And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed. He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel”. This prophetic Word of God was fulfilled by Christ Jesus on Calvary’s cross and His resurrection from the dead was the final blow delivered!

Now, let’s consider the first couples banishment from the garden. Was this just part of the justified punishment of God, or was it one of the greatest acts of mercy given to mankind? Carefully read God’s Words: “Then the Lord God said, “Behold, the man has become like one of Us, to know good and evil. And now, lest he put out his hand and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live forever”- therefore the Lord God sent them out of the garden of Eden…”

Beloved, I submit to you that this is the greatest act of mercy bestowed upon mankind from God! Why? If God had allowed Adam and Eve to remain in the garden, eventually they would have eaten from the tree of life. If they had eaten from the tree of life after having eaten the forbidden fruit, they would forever, through all eternity, live in a fallen state, subjected to all the heartaches, pains, disease, sadness, evil, and spiritual death (eternal separation from God) that frail humanity now endures for a short season! Being that Adam and Eve are the beginning of all humanity, and that we inherit our fallen nature from them, we to would have lived in this un-formidable state for all eternity.

The pains, disappointments, and despair we have in this life are only for a short season. We are not destined to live this life forever and we are promised entrance into paradise on the condition of our receiving the sacrifice of Jesus. Beloved, will you join me in raising holy hands to heaven and thanking the Father for His unbound, endless love and mercies? We have indeed received the greatest of mercies and they are new every morning!

Free Will: Blessing or Curse?

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Dear Readers, Beloved of God,

Grace to you and peace from God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ! Freedom is a peculiar word that means something different to each and every person on the planet. In the United States freedom is more or less based on constitutional law depending on the specific interpreter of the law at any given moment. Another term with equally differing opinions is “democratic society”. Although constitutional law outlines a citizens (U.S.) freedoms and liberties, they are still subject to one’s interpretation and application of the law.

In other countries freedom is unheard of and the citizens are subjected to a dictatorship. A “democratic society” is often a farfetched dream and can only be realized by relocating to a free society, and calling it home. As with most things, as pertains to life on planet earth, there are positives and negatives to contend with. A major negative in a democratic society is that often a certain “freedom” is surrounded by a certain moral ethic. One group is opposed and another group is accepting. This causes major divisions in free society that seem to somehow branch off into other smaller sub-divisions of conflict. I suppose this is the equivalent of starting several small fires until you have one huge out of control fire. We should be able to agree, that freedom and free will, are not problem free! Free will is both a blessing and a curse! In its purest form it is a love gift from God. Exercised wrongfully and it can become a weapon of mass destruction in the hands of Satan!

I have laid this small foundation concerning freedom, as freedom and free will go hand in hand. To exercise your freedom is to exercise your free will. We, as humankind, have the capacity to choose to rightfully or wrongfully exercise its use.

I believe we can all agree that we are free moral agents possessing the ability to make our own choices and decisions concerning any matter we may be confronted with. Agreed, but where do we follow the roots of our free will? Contrary to what many governments would teach us, our free will was instituted and given to us by God Himself. Although scripture doesn’t state this verbatim, it is implied, as I will show you.

Let’s journey back to the Book of Genesis into the first few chapters. These chapters teach us of the creation of the heavens, earth, and mankind. Now, let us consider Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. God spoke to Adam saying, “Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” God then created Eve out of Adam and she became his wife, and the two became one flesh. Therefore, as one flesh, what one chose affected the other and vice versa.

I do not know how long Adam and Eve had occupied the Garden of Eden prior to the appearing of the serpent, but he did appear on the scene and approached Eve. The serpent asked Eve if God indeed said “you shall not eat of every tree of the garden”. Listen to her reply: “And the woman said to the serpent, we may eat the fruit of the trees of the garden; but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God has said, you shall not eat it, nor shall you touch it, lest you die.” The serpent sealed the deal of deception by telling Eve that they would not die, and that God knew that if they ate of that tree, they would be like God, and have knowledge of good and evil.

The case for free will is hereby established: If Adam and Eve did not have free will then there would not have been any reason for God to tell them what trees they could and could not eat of. Furthermore, through deceptive tactics, the serpent presented Adam and Eve with the choice to exercise their free will and eat of the forbidden fruit. Also, Eve acknowledged to the serpent that God had told them not to eat of that particular tree. Our free will and freedom to choose originated in the Garden of Eden with Adam and Eve! As a result of their disobedience, Adam and Eve became aware that they had the ability to exercise their free will for good or bad. The choice they made, opened wide for us all, the knowledge of good and evil, along with the ability to exercise our free will, rightfully or wrongfully! God gave man free will, and I believe that before the “fall” Adam and Eve knew it a pleasure and something easy to do, in obeying the commands of God. Furthermore, if man was not a free moral agent, would God encourage us to choose His will?

So, Adam and Eve, influenced by Satan’s deception, chose to eat the forbidden fruit and their eyes were opened to good and evil.  The first thing they noticed was their nakedness! This should be interpreted in the literal sense, but let’s spiritualize it just a bit. I believe that not only did Adam and Eve realize their physical nakedness; they also came to a realization of their inward nakedness. They also had an epiphany of the inward man (woman) without the presence and Spirit of God. This new ability to choose wrong was overwhelming to them! Up to this point, they naturally chose right, as they just trusted and obeyed God at His Word!

What Adam and Eve do next is the fuel on the fire! They heard the voice of God in the garden and they hid from Him. God called out to Adam asking where He was, not because He didn’t know, but because He knew that Adam had sinned. Adam answered by telling God that He had heard Him and hid because of their nakedness. God in turn asked if they had eaten from the tree He had commanded them to avoid. Now, the “blame game” begins. Adam blames Eve and in a sense God and Eve blames the serpent. Adam and Eve tried to side-step their disobedience, refused to hold themselves responsible and accountable, and attempted to pass the blame forward. In the end God punished all three, Adam, Eve, and the serpent. He held each accountable for their individual actions.

The disobedience of our ancestors has had catastrophic results on humanity throughout generations past, and will continue through those to come. We have seen how humanity inherited the inability to “always” do what is right. Every one of us at one time or another has blamed someone else for our own actions.  Free will started out as a complete blessing, but as a result of the fall of mankind, it has been intermingled with curse. Now, we have what I call “hybrid” free will. Just as gold is not pure before going into the furnace! Think about this, we do not have to teach a child to be selfish and misbehave; we have to teach them to respect others and to behave. The point is that this side of mankind is what comes natural and effort has to be exerted to do differently.

In society today, it seems that accountability and responsibility are fashions of the past. The “blame game” is one of the most used tools for selfishness and the lacking of holding oneself personally accountable. We tend to blame the bad things in life on our parents, grandparents, children, employers, employees, government, police, and who or whatever else we can think of. The most hideous of blame casting is when we throw it at God! Have we forgotten that He is our creator and if He chose to, could wipe all humanity out with one stroke? We are His and He can do with us as He desires. The truth is that He means us no harm, but somehow we still find reasons to blame Him. Maybe finding reasons to “blame” Him is just another way to try and reject Him?

In the United States, and in most states throughout the country, criminal law recognizes misdemeanors, felonies, and capital felonies. This means that misdemeanors are the lowest form of crime and capital felonies are the highest. As we see, man has determined that some crimes are petty and others are heinous. How does God view the law and our behavior? Sin is sin is sin! There are no differences in the eyes of God! A crime of murder is the same as petty theft, and is the same as not doing what we know to do. God tells us in His Word that the lack of belief is sin. Now, is that a misdemeanor or felony? Neither, it is the same as murder!

Another fascinating fact concerning our free will is that God will not revoke it or interfere with our exercising it. It is a gift from Him and the “gifts and callings of God or without repentance. Now, if we have received Jesus, and are considered a child of God, then through His Holy Spirit He will encourage us to do right and guide us in making the right decisions, but will never force us. Our free will is just that, free! Every one of us is responsible and accountable for our own actions and decisions. We have no right, it is never proper, and is always sinful to blame God!

We must all understand that here on earth bad things will happen, evil will exist, and people will make senseless, neglectful, and even evil choices. Jesus never promised any of us an easy ride. In fact, He told us that “through much tribulation we will enter the kingdom of heaven”. Why? Because man has free will, God is just, and therefore He cannot revoke free will or it would make Him unjust and a breaker of His own law!

In this world there has been much tragedy since the beginning of time. There has been domestic and international wars, religious persecution, bombings, shootings, catastrophes, mass destructions, mass taking of lives, and terrorism to name a few. All nations and people of the world have been victims and none are immune. But, beloved, I must be truthful and tell you that God is not the blame for any of this! Mankind, corporately and individually, are the responsible parties! Often, when tragedy strikes, and no answers are found, God is blamed and a torrent of questions rush forth; “Why did God allow it”, and “Why didn’t God stop it” among many others. I can’t tell you the answer to either question, but I do know that a reason exists in heaven and God knows what it is. I can also assure that He is not to blame.

The next time evil and tragedy strike, take a moment to think before you raise a clinched fist to heaven and blame God. He has promised “good to those who love Him” and that He will take the bad in our life and use it for our good. You can find this promise in the Book of Romans chapter 8 verse 28. God cannot be our Savior, Deliverer, and oppressor at the same time.

As we should have been taught, and hopefully have taught our children, there are consequences to our actions. Sometimes these consequences are serious and effect many lives. One single incident can have devastating consequences upon the whole of humanity! As we learn not to blame God and to turn to Him instead, let us remember these small and simple definitions: “Obedience” is rightfully exercising our free will and “Disobedience” is wrongfully exercising our free will. Free will can be a blessing or a curse depending on how we choose to exercise it! I pray the God of peace to protect and keep evil far from you, In Jesus name, ~Amen.

Love of the Brethren

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Dear Readers, Beloved of God,

In our world today it is truly a rarity to find and experience genuine Christian, or Brotherly love. This is shameful considering the masses that profess Christianity throughout the world. We are abiding in evil and violent times, and just watching an episode of our local news seems to sadly confirm this. I’m certainly not saying that Christian love is nonexistent, just that genuine Christian love is a rare find. The selfless, forsake my own desires and convenience, and live for another kind of love. You know; the kind of love as expressed in our Savior, Jesus. A love that richly and deeply testifies, confirms, and bears witness worthy of His attention. If this love is found even in the simplest of acts, it should be cherished and guarded as a gift from God. Godly recognition and honor should be given to the one that allows the love of Christ to so shine from their spirit.

The love I here speak of is not the kind of love the world offers. This love is the manifested love of God through His chosen to another. You see, there is a kind of love available that comes not from the throne of God. One person can love another and remain the enemy of God. The Word of God reminds us that even the heathen can give good gifts, but this love does not have Christ at its center. This love does not flow from the living waters of life. Worldly love, although heartfelt, is still somewhat superficial, and usually has a hidden agenda or some strings attached. Genuine Christian love as expressed from one human being to another is a gift from God and can only be obtained through Him.

I wish to relate to you an experience I recently had, where this Christian love I speak of, was shown towards me and my family.

Several days ago, super cell thunderstorms that were producing tornados moved across the Western to Eastern United States. I live in the State of Georgia and the storms were headed our way! These storms are my least favorite thing about spring in the Southern United States.  Might I add, our home has been struck once, and areas less than one mile from us have had recent tornado touchdowns! Needless to say, I hate these types of storms and over the last several years they have gained frequency and volatility!

Knowing that these storms were coming and already moving across other states, I asked publically for prayer through social networks. Several people responded indicating that they would pray, but one particular “prayer warrior” sticks out from the crowd.

I have never met her face to face and we live thousands of miles apart. She is in England, and I the United States. We have developed a strong spiritual friendship through the Twitter network. In fact, I have come to love her as my Christian sister very deeply, and some day in heaven, will be able to greet her with a holy kiss and hugs. The distance between us is not a hindrance to God. He made sure we met because it was His will. The friendship we share has the foundation of Jesus and through His Holy Spirit we are able to draw close. When God blesses you with a treasure such as this, never let it go! The gift of a person such as this, is valuable indeed!

My friend in England assured me that she would pray for my family and me and even included our entire country! I expected a small prayer to God asking for our safety and wellbeing, but what I received was so much more than that. It is important to point out that there is a five hour time difference between us.

Later that night, I received a Twitter message from my friend. Looking at the clock, I realized it was after three o’clock in the morning in England! She was checking to make sure that we made it through the storms. Her timing was perfect, as the last bands of the storm were moving through as she contacted me. I sent message back letting her know that we had indeed made it through the nasty storms. She replied by thanking and praising God for our safety, sending her love, and telling me that now she was going to bed. She had to be up for work at six o’clock in the morning.

I sat back in awe that my friend was concerned enough to contact me at three o’clock in the morning, her time. As I sat warmly thinking of my friend, the Spirit of God rushed me like a bolt of lightning! She said, “NOW I AM GOING TO BED”! The Ever-Shining Light dawned on me, she has sacrificed her sleep to stay awake and pray for my family and me!

What selfless love! After all, we have never shared the things that most friendships are allowed. Never shared a meal; a quite chat outdoors on a warm spring day, our deepest secrets, or even an encouraging hug. Those things are certainly nice, and I would advocate them to this day, but when Jesus is the founder and the strong root of a friendship they aren’t overly necessary! Through the friendship we share, God has reassured us of His awesome and unending love, gifted us both with a loving friendship, and sealed our covenant through His Holy Spirit, sight unseen.

This experience brought to memory a Bible verse: “We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love the brethren.” (I John 3:14) NKJV

I thank God for the safety and security He provided for my family and me during those storms. But, I am equally thankful to God for my friend in England.

Rosemarie, thank you for your friendship, love, prayers, loyalty to Jesus, and the sacrifice you made for me personally. I love you and you will always have a special place in my heart. You show that you have passed from death into life.

Intercessors aren’t well known and most always go without even a “thank you”, but they are the most important gift in God’s ministry. They are the backbone of any descent and Godly ministry and I believe all fellow Pastors and Ministers would agree. If not, you may have missed your calling! Someone is always behind the scenes praying for the Pastor, ministry, and Ministers. I have certainly come to know my “someone” and again Rosemarie, I thank you from deep within my heart.

Father I thank you for my friend, Rosemarie. I ask that every Christian might experience this love that comes from you and a friendship where words aren’t necessary. In the beautiful name of Jesus, ~Amen