I have been attempting to write this blog for several weeks. I would lose my thoughts and not be able to understand my scribbled notes. Last night, Tim and I were watching one of his childhood friends preaching on youtube. As I thought about that message this morning, God gave me the title and the wrap for this blog. I pray it blesses you and helps you along your journey.
As I child, I was given a manual of sorts that listed all the things I could do and could not do “according to scripture”. I believed if I kept these man-made rules, I would dodge hell. That was the goal; to not go to hell. It was the lake of fire, the place where you would burn eternally. While that part may very well be true, my goal was not appropriate. On the list of “Do’s” was to repent, be baptized in Jesus’ name, be filled with the Holy Ghost and then never do the “Don’t’s”. I repented and was baptized in Jesus’ name, received the Holy Ghost with the evidence of speaking in other tongues and believed I was never going to hell. End of story.
Only, this: That was never the story. Yes, fulfilling scripture is vitally important. Having been filled with the Holy Spirit should have filled me with joy and comfort but I was never taught any other purpose other than evading hell. Last night, I had a convo with my husband about the Holy Spirit bringing about conviction. I am 62 years old and still seeking answers through scripture, prayer and counsel. When we stop growing and stretching, we begin dying. Never stop reaching for more of God.
Here’s the thang! When we create manuals for Christians for what they can and can’t do we limit God’s power in their lives. Our only job is to preach and teach the Word of God and HE will do the rest. This has been HIS will and plan for all of us all along. Why? Because we are human. HE is God!
We give our children rules. We are trying to raise them to be productive members in society so we begin teaching them social norms while they are still quite young. We begin with “No.” which evolves to “NO!” and then evolves into the “why’s” and “why not’s” when age appropriate. They are the sons and daughters God gave to us and HE entrusts us to guide and discipline them along the way. We set ground~rules and repercussions. If you do this, then this will happen. Because we are human our efforts are based in human intelligence. We reward them when they do well. Because we are human and our efforts reflect our humanity. We count on performance by our children. They must perform within the guidelines we set down for them.
We use punishment or repercussions to reinforce the rhetoric. If you do this? Then we do this! We learn at a very early age that when we do something ‘bad’ our parents are disappointed and that provokes disappointment within us. We basically set out the rules and our children abide by them in order to please us.
We are God’s sons and daughters. He left the Holy Spirit with us to comfort and guide us until we are reunited with HIM in Glory. But do we really let God, in HIS Spirit form, complete HIS purpose? Nope. Not even close.
“Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour” I Peter 5:8. How does he do this? First, through temptation. In Matthew 4:1-11 we read the story of how the devil even tried to tempt Jesus. Jesus was perfect and satan could not get to HIM through temptation. But he can get to us. The devil tempts us and when we succumb, he accuses us. (Revelation 12:10) When we believe his accusations of failure, we are filled with despair and next? We depart. We are human and satan uses human tactics, condemnation, against us. We are susceptible to them because we have been raised in humanity.
When I was brought up with a list of rules, I was constantly feeling condemned. I could not find a place of peace for all the “bad” things I constantly did, which kept me in constant fear of hell. But GRACE! When my husband and I were talking about the operation of the Holy Ghost in our lives, he mentioned that we accept the difference between conviction and “rules” based on faith.
If you have been trained in fear, you cannot find a way to behave in love. The fear, the condemnation overrides everything else. We had to throw out the rule book. We had to accept Grace as God’s continual. The gift that keeps on giving. As a child, I believed, once I was saved, I could never sin again. If I did I had to do penance before I could ever approach God again. But my Bible tell me “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
Say what? BOLDY, find GRACE when in need! When do we need grace the most? When the devil has condemned us for sinning yet again. Oh yes, I am a sinner saved by grace. I will be a sinner, saved by grace until the moment I am perfected in Heaven. I struggle daily. I sin a lot! My thoughts, my mouth, my actions all fall short of HIS glory! I need HIS Grace daily, sometimes, by the minute. But HE has never given me a list. Every time I fall short, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” I John 1:9
God does not operate through lists. HE left us the Holy Spirit instead. HE guides us through Grace. Through Love. Through Forgiveness. None of which come with an expiration or a maximum usage. HE is Omniscient, all-knowing. HE is Omnipotent, all-powerful. Omnipresent, always here. HE knows everything before we confess, HE has the power to forgive completely, and HE will do so every time.
Needless to say, we tossed out the “manual” years ago. We dug deep into the Word of God and found what we longed for all along. Grace! Grace keeps your heart in line with God’s desires for you because HE IS GRACE! HE will keep you! HE will guide you into all truth! HE will convict you when you go awry. And HE will forgive and restore you!
Condemnation and conviction are displayed in Acts the second chapter. Peter, a man who failed many times, became the very man God used to establish the church. He stood up on the day of Pentecost and told the Jews of Jerusalem, “Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ.” Acts 2:37. Peter’s words condemned them. They knew in that moment what they had done. I can see them all hanging their heads.
But then? “Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do?” Acts 2:37
You see, condemnation shows you the problem. But conviction, reveals the answer. The devil is all about causing problems. Jesus is the Answer!!
“Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call.” Acts 2:38, 39
Performance cannot be sustained. We cannot measure up. We use the evasion of hell to keep us in line. Condemnation will not keep us from hell, but can separate us from HIS Love, if the devil succeeds.
There is an old song: “Turn your eyes upon Jesus. Look full in HIS wonderful face. And the things of this world will grow strangely dim, In the light of HIS Glory and Grace!”
I leave you with this: If you remember anything I have ever shared? Please remember this….
Set your Spiritual compass for a new Direction; Jesus and Heaven!
God’s Grace Never Fails And Never Ends.
I love you but Jesus loves you more!