Prayer of the Exiled

How long, most holy and true Lord God? I wait patiently for You to remember me. Enemies speak against me, friends are helpless to support me.

I am a stranger in the earth: do not hide your commandments from me!  Kiss me with the kisses of your mouth. Like my heavenly Isaac speak to me, “Come near now, and kiss me, my son.”  I need Your loving kindness that is better than life itself.

Only You by Your hand under my head and arm under my soul can lift me and sustain me with raisin cakes and apples of Your Spirit.

Seasons change, turn my bleak winter into blossoming summer. Blow oh north and south wind upon the sleeping garden of my life!

Where there is barrenness and a wilderness let the cross be planted in the midst of the garden of my heart.

Transplant it from Calvary and make it to me a new and living way, like the Tree of Life and let it wound the earth and when it is planted and bring forth a hundred fold.

My tears of repentance may make my bed to swim but only the mist of your Spirit rise in me and beautify early what no human nor I can sustain.

Warm my face with sunshine of your grace, let me labor for You so I may bring You into my mother’s house, the church and not let you go.

 

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A Hard Man to Do Business With

“Lord, I knew thee that thou art an hard man…” (Mt. 25:24).

There are three parables set in order in Matthew 25:  Foolish Virgins who knew better but did not prepare, a lazy servant who knew his Lord but did not invest and oblivious goats who knew there were people in need and did not care.  Neglect, laziness and apathy are hated by God and they are sure factors that exclude people from the Kingdom of God.

In Matthew 25:14-30 there is a parable about a master who was going away for a long time who entrusted three of his servants with his goods or his wealth and property.  The word talents refers initially to the measurement of coins given to these servants. But it is also a reference to the gifting or skills of people. It is the clear teaching of scripture that not only do we receive the gift of the Holy Spirit in regeneration (Acts 10:45; 11:17) but it also teaches, “…every man hath his proper gift of God, one after this manner, and another after that.” (1 Cor 7:7).  We are responsible to guard those gifts (2 Tim 1:14) and invest them in other brethren for edification (1 Cor. 14: 12). We are never to neglect those gifts at any time (1 Tim 4:14). 

The Master desired his servants to invest and trade money for profit. That is good business.  Two of the three servants did well in their business transactions and the other was comatose.  Eventually, the Master came back to settle their accounts. Things were going well until the last servant met with him. The Master was not surprised and I can almost  hear the Master shouting. “Nothing?”  “You made nothing and you did nothing!”

Remember his Master was gone away for days, weeks, possibly months and the servant just buried the talents.  If he would have invested and lost the money at least the master would not have called him evil and lazy, maybe a few choice words for being  foolish. But he may still have kept his job. This guy had no sense even to walk down to the bank and invest in a mutual fund so at least he could have made some interest.  This set the master on fire and he was livid, “Confidence in an unfaithful man in time of trouble is like a broken tooth, and a foot out of joint.” (Prov 25:19).

Lazy probably thought that he needed some “Me” time. It was a while before the master came back and he began to think that something is holding his master up or in his twisted mind maybe he was never coming home and he could continue in his career of lollygagging.  That was a big mistake.  The Bible warns that Christ’s coming will catch many people by surprise, “Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh.” (Mt 24:44).  We should be alert and prepared for his coming! I have to say this is not just the second coming or the rapture. Christ said he would come to his church in other ways (Rev. 2:16). Peter speaks of  “the day of visitation” (1 Pet. 2:12).   Thayer says it is “that act by which God looks into and searches out the ways, deeds character, of men.”  That is why fiery trials come our way (1 Pet 4:12) to reveal and to refine. But they also burn away worthless things. In fact, Christ will sit in judgment and  inspect and test our work by fire (1 Cor 3:10-17) when interpretd correctly gives proper understanding to being saved by fire.

If talk is cheap his words are on sale.  His lame, pitiful excuses do not even make sense. It seems he thinks that his master works magic, “harvesting what he has not planted” to make money rather than plain hard work and elbow grease.  It is like he is saying, “I am not like you, and beside you will make money somehow, it’s not like I lost the money.”  Some of God’s servants are just plain lazy and full of excuses. That is characteristic of slothful people (Prov 22:13). They make everything hard (Prov. 15:19) and are  a liability. What is worse he is a talented but lazy man. You have to wonder if his Lord knew about this servant from the beginning. But as tough as the master is, he gave him an opportunity-a simple responsibility. He must have known the character of this servant before hand, thus he gives him a small amount, the least responsibility and if he proves himself he will get credit and be given more authority and all the benefits.

But he did not.  All he got was canned.

Jesus says, “The lord of that servant will come in a day when he looketh not for him, and at an hour when he is not aware, and will cut him in sunder, and will appoint him his portion with the unbelievers.” (Luke 12:45-46).  There are those among the church who are hypocrites and play the role of a Christian but they are not.  Newsflash: laziness is not a fruit of the spirit. One day the Lord will come and see this counterfeit lifestyle and it is not going to be pretty. Being cut to pieces is also not very promising prospect. For those who only see God as a harmless tamed Deity-this is the red-letter section of the Bible that some Bible have that highlight the words of Christ. Jesus is speaking here.  No, this is not the Old Testament as many people whine when they see anything to do with justice or sentencing of evil doers. In this case,  our Master Jesus wants to be in the black, not the red. He wants the investment he has made in us to pay off in a life lived to the glory of God. He will see anything else as being ripped off.

You can hear the servant nervously saying,  “Master, I knew you were a harsh man, harvesting crops you didn’t plant and gathering crops you didn’t cultivate.   I was afraid I would lose your money, so I hid it in the earth. Look, here is your money back.”(25:24 NLT). The lazy servant says, “I knew thee..”  This is when things got ugly. The lazy servant professes to know what kind of master he serves.  He is the only servant that says anything in this parable. The others are basically quiet and received a promotion from their employer for a job well done.  But this man knew how to talk.  He knew how to make excuses.  He was a servant who was a master at rationalizations. He did not say that he was not feeling well, he had a family issue or his vehicle was giving him problems. These are all the unforseen circumstances which employers expect.

The real conflict in this passage is not just the laziness. This man makes it personal with his Master. He said, “I knew thee.”   That comment crossed the line and ticked the unnamed Master off  and almost smacks of this lazy servant blaming the Master for his actions.  If I may paraphrase the unnamed Masters reply, “If you knew me you would have done this or that, but you did not, so do not know me as well as you think.” 

The servant was not incorrect in his view. The man he worked for was a harsh businessman. He was not only an austere investor (Luke 19:21) he was “hard” and callous. This does not mean that because the master was so hard he was unrighteous.  He trusted his servants to manage his affairs.  He gave them responsibility which he thought they could handle.  He was not so harsh that he did not pay and reward his servants in fact, we only see him harsh on the laziness of the last employee.

The master does not disparage his servant’s comments and say,  “No you are wrong, I am a kind, loving and laid back individual.  I am really hurt.”  The master expected that servant to invest His Lord’s money!  The Master Christ says, “The servant is not greater than his lord; neither he that is sent greater than he that sent him” (John 13:16).  It is like he tells the servant, “I work and so should you. You see here is how we are different, you bury, I plant. I work in such a way that everything pays off.  You acted like this money was yours and extension of yourself. But it was not. It was my money. I wanted you to do with it what I would do with it. You could have easily made a return on what I gave you.”

His language was the bottom line and he rewarded those that spoke it fluently.  “He says, Lord, you are a hard man to do business with.” This “hard”  view of  Our Lord and God is one the truths that most ministers bury beneath their pulpits. The Lord is tough. He saves us by Sovereign Grace, but he expects a one hundred percent return on his investment in our lives. Jesus teaches “And that servant, which knew his lord’s will, and prepared not himself, neither did according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes. But he that knew not, and did commit things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few stripes.”  (Luke 12:47-48). The idea of punishment set forth here presents an attribute of God often set aside or ignored, but it must be seen. God is holy, He is no joke, he means business and plays for keeps.

I think this is a problem for many so called Christians. You can hear the shouts, “God is a merciful God”  and people picketing such teaching in the church parking lot. They are confused about the “god” they serve which is more characterized by the sinful culture in which they live rather than the God of the scriptures. They have created a mental idol that is a  permissive, tolerant God, which is not his true nature. God says of his people in the Old Covenant that, “they know not me…” (Jer. 9:3).  You see that people today, especially in Christianity are just as or more ignorant of God, less conversant in scripture than at any period of history before. “For the LORD hath a controversy with the inhabitants of the land, because there is no truth, nor mercy, nor knowledge of God in the land…My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee. (Hosea 4:1,6). 

It sickens me how we will chant and sing, “I am a friend of God, he calls me friend”  and live in such disobedience.  But Jesus Christ tells us, “Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you. Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you.” (John 15:14-15).  Well, there you go. As a servant, he DID NOT know what his master was doing. You must be a servant before a friend. There should be a sense of duty before devotion. You may be saved, but growing in friendship with Christ, means becoming more sanctified. Running around and calling yourself a justified sinner or telling everyone, “I know the Lord” gets old if you live in such a way that evidences no growth or deeper love for Christ!

There is a sense of finality in this passage that is inescapable especially after he takes the one talent gives it away to the man who has ten talents and kicks the man out in the dark unemployed and broke and weeping. That is sad.  My suggestion is start using and investing your talents and grow in Kingdom business because from what I see the Master is a hard man to do business with.

THE SALVATION UNDERGROUND GONE PUBLIC!

“But those who die in the Lord will live; their bodies will rise again! Those who sleep in the earth will rise up and sing for joy! For your life-giving light will fall like dew on your people in the place of the dead!” (Isaiah 26:19NLT).

On Oct 13, 2010 the whole world watched in awe as 33 Chilean miners that were trapped two thousand feet below the earth were lifted to safety by what many call a miraculous rescue. They spent 69 days (a much shorter timespan than predicted) underground but just a few days ago they took a 15 minute journey upwards to the surface in a small capsule that was no wider than an average man’s shoulders. There was a lot of joy, men thanking God and family reunions. In a time of really bad news in the world, I think this was a real boost to the global morale of  the millions of people who watched the rescue updates on television. I posted on Facebook, “EVEN NOW MEN ARE COMING UP OUT OF THE GROUND!

I read in one article, “They were trapped underground, in a place like hell itself — claustrophobic, dark, fetid — and they come up like they were resurrected,” says Robert Thompson, a professor of television and popular culture at Syracuse University. “Western civilization doesn’t come up with stories much better.” 

Salvation in the Bible is often compared to being brought out of  a pit, “He brought me up also out of an horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my goings.” (Ps. 40:2). I CALL THIS THE SALVATION UNDERGROUND GONE PUBLIC. He brings people up from out of the ground of death and distress into new life. The idea of  salvation, the resurrection of the body, heaven and eternal hell are biblical  concepts of the Christian faith.  Problems of many kinds were illustrated often as a pit into which people fell and were trapped. A pit also symbolized unsolvable problems and desperation  from which only God could save you.  A pit was a place where unless you received outside help you would die. 

God is the wonderful Savior of all men (1 Tim 4:10). It is because of Who He is that He delights to rescue his own people (Ps. 18:19) and he  even shows kindness to the most miserable, unthankful characters (Luke 6:35). No one is like God who still loves doing awesome wonders (Ex. 15:11). he brings men and women up out of the ground all the time. But we should note that here are two kinds of salvation: one is temporary and the other eternal. Sometimes in the scripture physical salvation illustrates and symbolizes eternal salvation. One is the saving of the body, the other is the saving of the soul.  Your body can be saved, but that does not mean your soul is saved. Your body may not be saved, but your soul can be saved. You see my point: they are not the same. The physical salvation of the Chilean miners is only temporary, the salvation of the soul is eternal.  

Jesus Christ spent his life before he went back home to heaven doing good, especially temporal acts of salvation: healing the sick, opening blind eyes, unstopping deaf ears, providing miraclous food, walking on water, evicting demons and raising the dead (see Acts 10:38).  Talk about the SALVATION UNDERGROUND gone public!  He did so many wonders that the whole world could not contain the records (John 21:25). But one time he warned the crowd that was fed miraculously, “Do not work for food that spoils; instead, work for the food that lasts for eternal life. This is the food which the Son of Man will give you, because God, the Father, has put his mark of approval on him.” (John 6:27GNT).  We get out of trouble only to fall back into trouble again. That is the life we live. That is the here and now. Those who are healed physically can get sick again, those who are provided for financially can lose their money, those who were raised from the dead will die again. 

But eternal salvation is the greatest gift from which real joy comes. The gift of eternal life begins by the most powerful act of God! He takes the soul of  men and women that were once dead spiritually (Eph. 2:1-5) and regenerates them (John 3:3-8; Titus 3:5) or brings them back to life. They are born again with a living hope (1 Peter 1:3)! When the SALVATION UNDERGROUND goes public, once a person is born again that life can never be taken from them because it is the beginning of eternal life (John 10:27-29). Even if they die physically they will go on living eternally in heaven, because we are at home with the Lord (2 Cor. 5:8).

There is physical life on earth and spiritual life in heaven. Jesus said, “Do not store up riches for yourselves here on earth, where moths and rust destroy, and robbers break in and steal. Instead, store up riches for yourselves in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and robbers cannot break in and steal. ” (Mt. 6:19-20GNT). Things do not last on earth. They can be eaten away, rusted away and taken away. In heaven everything lasts forever.

Christ even empowered his disciples then and now to do wonders (Mt 10:1; Mk 16:16-18). But He laid out his disclaimer about miracles and taught his followers that real salvation is not because you can do wonders or have experienced miracles yourself (John 4:48).  The real joy of salvation is that our names are written in heaven (Luke 10:20).  God can and will use people on earth to rescue others but only God can rescue our souls from eternal death and hell. “For it is by God’s grace that you have been saved through faith. It is not the result of your own efforts, but God’s gift, so that no one can boast about it.” (Eph 2:8-9). We should rejoice and be thankful when God rescues us in this life as he does so many many times. But his greatest gift is when he gives eternal salvation (Hebrews 5:9) to those who trust in Christ alone as Savior because “Salvation is to be found through him alone..” (Acts 4:12GNT). 

God may be speaking to your heart even now through this article. The Salvation Underground can go public in your life. He will bring you back from the dead and the first sight you will see will be Jesus Christ reaching his hand to you in this horrible pit of sin you are living in. You know without his help you will be lost!  He is the only One who cares and can save you!

Depth of Mercy

Depth of mercy! Can there be Mercy still reserved for me? Can my God His wrath forbear, Me, the chief of sinners, spare? 

I have long withstood His grace, Long provoked Him to His face, Would not hearken to His calls, Grieved Him by a thousand falls.

I have spilt His precious blood, Trampled on the Son of God, Filled with pangs unspeakable, I, who yet am not in hell!

I my Master have denied, I afresh have crucified, And profaned His hallowed Name, Put Him to an open shame.

Whence to me this waste of love? Ask my Advocate above! See the cause in Jesus’ face, Now before the throne of grace.

Jesus, answer from above, Is not all Thy nature love? Wilt Thou not the wrong forget, Permit me to kiss Thy feet?

If I rightly read Thy heart, If Thou all compassion art, Bow Thine ear, in mercy bow, Pardon and accept me now.

Jesus speaks, and pleads His blood! He disarms the wrath of God; Now my Father’s mercies move, Justice lingers into love.

Kindled His relentings are, Me He now delights to spare, Cries, “How shall I give thee up?” Lets the lifted thunder drop.

Lo! I still walk on the ground: Lo! an Advocate is found: “Hasten not to cut Him down, Let this barren soul alone.”

There for me the Savior stands, Shows His wounds and spreads His hands. God is love! I know, I feel; Jesus weeps and loves me still.

Pity from Thine eye let fall, By a look my soul recall; Now the stone to flesh convert, Cast a look, and break my heart.

Now incline me to repent, Let me now my sins lament, Now my foul revolt deplore, weep, believe, and sin no more.

Twisted Thinking

We hear Romans 12:1-2 quoted as often as John 3:16 but I wonder if we get it. Paul pleads,  “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” 

Over and over again in our lives we hear that everything we do begins with a thought. You cannot have wrong thinking and right actions. It doesn’t work!  That is why right teaching and biblical doctrine matter.  The problem is what we think about God. Sin has twisted your thinking.  When it comes to thinking about God the Bible says, “The wicked, through the pride of his countenance, will not seek after God: God is not in all his thoughts.” (Ps. 10:4).  Yes, that verse says that God is not in any of his thoughts. Other translations indicate that the spiritually dead person has no place for God in their thinking,  The NIV states, “in all his thoughts there is no room for God.” The margin of the KJV says that, “in all his thoughts they keep thinking, “there is no God.”  That is one of sin’s greatest hijackings of our souls it leaves no room for God.  We set aside God first in our thoughts then our deeds. It brings a moral, practical atheism that lets sin and self-control the soul. Sin attempts to erase the concept of God from our minds or distort it. We must spend our lives untwisting that thinking by the teaching about God that comes from his Word, the Holy Scriptures.

What you think about God has direct influence over how you worship God and how you live. The minimization of God has a direct influence over everything we are. As the old preachers told us we need to magnify the Lord in our lives. Let him be bigger than the trial. Don’t let sin and unbelief put a magnifying glass in front of your problems. But let God become bigger in your mind and heart. Let praise be the magnifying glass that helps you see that God is bigger than your problems.

Amen to that!

If we place God at the center of our preaching, not the peoples needs, problems not our agendas but God-this will give clarity to our understanding of God and he will be the Savior and Helper.  The Bible says teaches when Christ redeems all of his Bride and when all is said and all is done the final result will be that “God may be all in all.” (1 Cor 15:26-28). God must become bigger in our lives because sin attempts to make him seem so small.

At the heart of self is idolatry. The first two commandments are vitally linked. God will not only have no rivals but he forbids the making of an images, especially an image of him. Why? The mind is a factory for idolatry to paraphrase, John Calvin and unscriptral thinking eventually become anti-scriptural. Notice the image can be our thinking. We need to repent not only of sin but from wrong thoughts about God. Peter commented on Paul’s letters, “As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction.” (2 Pet 3:16).  Notice the untaught and unstable wrestle with the scriptures: they distort and twist them because self is at the center and has no room for God in its thinking.

Christ and genuine Christianity teaches that you must have a new nature. The glorious truth of the new birth is that God gives us life and then we renew our minds by the truth as found in Jesus Christ and the scriptures.  “For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people.” (Heb 8:10).  God writes his laws on our hearts gives us a love for God and the power to do what is pleasing to him.

What should we be thinking about?  How to change and modify our behavior? What steps to follow in order to make life less hostile? The behavioral sciences offered in the forms of motivational speaking and psychology are much of  the reason for Churchianity’s failure today. Most people are learning things backwards because they think because their actions change their life will change and that is only partially correct. Your thinking and emotions must change. Your mind must be renewed.  Only God can do this.

After a person is saved, they have a new heart and spirit but their mind must be renewed in order to be transformed into the image of Christ (Rom 12:1-2). This does not happen overnight but occurs in day by day obedience and consistent submission to God’s will. God sanctified and causes all things to work together for the good of those that love God and are called according to his purpose. “For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.” (Romans 8:28-29). 

He does this by using trials in our life as a means to purify us. But this means that He controls and monitors our trials! He actually uses our trials to purify us and make us holy.  He takes evil and turns it around for good in our lives. He does this because he has loved us before the world was made in Christ! He is with us and will not allow us to be overwhelmed by life’s trouble but as the Old hymn says, “When through the deep waters I call thee to go, the rivers of woe shall not thee overflow; For I will be with thee, thy troubles to bless, and sanctify to thee thy deepest distress.”

What untwists our thinking about God is the straight beams of the cross and the straight edge of the scriptures. Yielding and offering our bodies, renewed thinking that leads to a metamorphosis of life  is directly tied to Christ offering himself. These are “the mercies of God” in Christ. Of the many, many, mercies of God in sending his Son, will we ever completely discover what actually happened on the cross of Christ? We should be constantly focused on it and it will change us. 

This is where we learn to accelerate into obedience and put the brakes on with temptation. The motivating factor is the crucified and risen Savior. “Christ’s gift, meditated on, accepted, introduced into will and heart, is the one power that will melt our obstinacy, the one magnet that will draw us after it…The Gospel of Jesus Christ presents itself, not as a mere republication of morality, not as merely a new stimulus and motive to do what is right, but as an actual communication to men of a new power to work in them, a strong hand laid upon our poor, feeble hand with which we try to put on the brake or to apply the stimulus…” MacLaren Commentary on Romans 12.

Your Wandering is Over

Wandering

“Tell me, O thou whom my soul loveth, where thou feedest, where thou makest thy flock to rest at noon: for why should I be as one that turneth aside by the flocks of thy companions? If thou know not, O thou fairest among women, go thy way forth by the footsteps of the flock, and feed thy kids beside the shepherds’ tents.” (Song 1:7-8).

I realize you have been wandering, dear one. The many buildings or places that are called churches are places where you can lose your way. I know you are looking for Jesus, so I hope you will pay attention for a few brief moments. Previously in this chapter, the Shulamite woman is awakened, convinced and longs in her heart for her beloved to, “kiss her with the kisses of his mouth for thy love is better than wine.” She has never experienced this before and she desires his affectionate kiss. She insists in so many words if anything is going to happen in their relationship he must kiss her first. In her eyes, the first act of love must be his right from the beginning because not every girl can kiss the King.

Is this not true of Christ and his bride? God has loved us as he loves Christ and that love was before the foundation of the world (John 17:23-24). That is the love of God that chooses us to be his own. His foreknowledge is not his omniscience alone, it is not based on what he sees is going to happen and bases his choice on the choices people make. He did not see us choosing him, we could not and would not (Rom 3:10-12)! Sin made us slaves without strength to reach out to the only one who could save us (Rom. 5:6). But Jesus saw us, he took pity on us! He loved us first! He fore-loved his people in Christ. “We love him, because he first loved us.” (1 John 4:19).  It also is reminiscent of  the cry of Augustine who said, “My whole hope is in thy exceeding great mercy and that alone. Give what thou commandest and command what thou wilt.”  (Confessions, Book 10, Ch. 24:40).  How we must pray, “Lord, you must start the work in my heart or I will be lost, wandering forever in a far more confusing place than the world, but religion which has no power or truth!”

Like Israel who he found abandoned in the wilderness, he desires to take us from being infants in peril and nurture and clothe us with security and then develop us into “exceeding beautiful” womanhood so we are ready to mature ”into the time of love.”  (Ezekiel 16:1-13). There is a certain turning point in a persons life after regeneration where we begin to understand the Sovereignty of God in our lives as far as our sanctification is concerned. I am not speaking of another class of Christian but one who is growing in Christ.  The scripture teaches this is a point of maturity that develops in the life of a Christian where the milk of the Word is not enough, they must have meat, solid food (Heb 5:12-14). They also put away childish things because they are growing up. They become stable. Everything changes from babyhoodto adulthood (1 Cor 13:11). This woman is ready to know Christ as the lover of her soul and Christ hears her cry and will show her great and mighty things that she has not known! (Jer. 33:3).

She calls him, “O thou whom my soul loveth…” This is where wandering screeches to a halt. This kind of love is is so beyond any human love because it is birthed by the Spirit of God.  It is a love where any rival or competition to Christ begins to be put down by the increase of his government that is conquering the heart (Isaiah 9:6-7). Christ is loved by the Christian with their very heart, soul, mind and strength (Deut 6:4-5) but like the conquering of Cannan sanctification takes time. The child of God wants to love God more as they mature and this love must come from the deepest part of us. It is God who loves us first, and in turn we love him and that love makes us want to be near him and we learn to love him with the love he loves us with in some small measure.

She asks him, “where thou feedest, where thou makest thy flock to rest at noon.”  She looks for the place where her soul can rest and she can eat “the same spiritual food, and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them, and that Rock was Christ.” (1 Cor. 10:3-4). God requires us to have faith in his provision and not wandering around attempting to find other secondary or tertiary sources rather than from Christ himself. Sadly, this is a common practice among people who profess to be Christians. “For my people have committed two evils; they have forsaken me the fountain of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water.” (Jer 2:13). Christ offers them the children’s bread and to eat from the food off of the Masters table. He calls us to come and dine! Christ is a good shepherd (John 10:11) who feeds his sheep and those who love him are only satisfied with him and the authentic spiritual food he offers! That is the whole mystery of John chapter 6. Christ offers himself as food for the soul, only he can satisfy.

Mature believers recognize how much they need the guidance and protection of God because they are more aware of the dangers around them, wandering is not an option. Satan is like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour (1 Peter 5:8) and he feasts on wanderers. While Jesus is the tender shepherd that carries his little lambs in his arms (Isaiah 40:11) the person who desires the meat of the Word needs more. The Bible says, “And he shall stand and feed in the strength of the LORD, in the majesty of the name of the LORD his God; and they shall abide: for now shall he be great unto the ends of the earth.” (Micah 5:4).  God allows the soul to go through greater trials and snares-sometimes we are at our wits end. So the greater the test, the greater the care and power God places at our disposal. His great Sovereign power is shown by his provison for his people. He never grows faint or weary in doing this! 

When a believer matures they stop their wandering in the emptiness of performing mere external service to God they will begin to seek out a place where the LORD feeds his flock and gives “a rest for the people of God.” (Hebrews 4:9). This woman labored under the harsh rules of her mothers brethren and almost withered under the blistering hot sun and their constant anger farming their fields and neglecting her own vineyard. She left them behind for love of her King and now she does not want to be seen as one wandering aimlessly.

“For why should I be as one that turneth aside by the flocks of thy companions?” This is where the idea of protection from evil comes into play. Maturity results in the senses being able to discern between both good and evil. This scripture shows how much she hates the idea of being seen as a wandering woman. We should also hate the idea of being carried away by our own desires. Like her we should say “Why?” It makes no sense when I belong to the King and I am supposed to be under his care. Why should we substitute that relationship by looking even to his close companions when we can say “I am my beloved’s and he is mine!”  I have the One himself? Why?  WHY?

These companions of the Lord could fall into two classes: they could be true men of God who people look to rather than directly to Christ.  Like the Corinthians they divide into parties that say, “I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ.” (1 Cor. 1:12). People have their preferences and their tastes and each on of these men preached the gospel but people separated and created division in the churches based on these men’s distinct ministries. They may have loved the down home values of Peter, the writing abilities of Paul had or the eloquent speaking ability of Apollos. These is a subtle idolatry. But people became distracted from Christ and were on their way back to the house of their mothers brethren because man centered religion is a cruel taskmaster.In these days we will hear many different religious authors, churches, movements, ministries, saying, ”Lo, here is Christ; or, lo, he is there; believe him not.”  (Mk 13:21). He is in that church, that revival, or this movement. No, he is always where he has been- in his Word.

“For thy love is better than wine.”I wanted to complete the verse we started with. She loves her beloved with all her soul because his love is makes earth’s sweetest substance inferior to his love. It is actually plural or loves. He constantly lavishes and demonstrates his love for his own. Paul speaks of the mercies of God  (Rom. 12:1) or his many mercies (Psalm 51:1).  His compassions never fail (Lam 3:22).  Jesus is all you need and he satisfies you souls need for rest and refreshment. How sweet is the love of Christ for his people. It is like wine. The bread of his body and the wine of his blood are real food for the soul (John 6:35-63). The spiritual presence of Christ that we celebrate in the Lord’s supper is where we can lift up our hearts to the Lord and seek those things which are above where Christ sits at the right hand of God (Col. 3:1). Do not waste your time, money and energy on religious products that attempt to sell you a better, deeper relationship with God but enslave you to condemnation and guilt. God offers you the free wine and milk that is offered to those who are thirsting for Christ (Isa. 55:1). All Christ offers us for free is also better than those who sell us religion. He has found you dear soul, desring to feed and care for you and your heart cannot rest until it rests in him

Your wandering is over. 

Unity Through Truth

rated-rWhat is a creed? It is a testimony of the faith in God and the scriptures that defines “those things which are most surely believed among us.” as Christians. (Luke 1:1). It is simply says, “We believe” or, “I believe.” The Scriptures of the Old and New Testament are the Word of God and are the all-sufficient rule of faith and practice (2 Tim 3:16-17; 2 Peter 1:20-21). It is the only criterion of doctrine that has any power to insist people to believe and obey what it teaches. All other standards that a person subscribes to are of value or authority only as they teach what the Scriptures teach.

 

R.C. Sproul said that “creeds are distinguished from the Scripture in that Scripture is norma normans (“the rule that rules”) while the creeds are norma normata (“a rule that is ruled”).[i]  The wonderfully practical thing about creeds is that they summarize and give clarity to what we believe as Christians and they are important for the harmony of God’s people because they help us to unite around important issues. It is hard to have unity with others when you do not know what they believe. Creeds were intended to bring unity not division despite the fact that creedally challenged people today seem to think that they are divisive.  But men who made creeds and confessions studied the scriptures and considered it their duty to intellectually and logically construct a system of faith out of the materials presented in scriptures. When you can be specific and clear on what you and the church believe, unity becomes more cherished and unity must be based on truth, not the lowest common denominator. 

 

How can you fellowship with someone when you do not know what they believe? How can you ignore the teachings of the scripture for the sake of unity? Today the great sickness in the thought process of people is pluralism-the belief that all religious paths lead to acceptance with God. This is anti-Christ thinking and will only lead to religious slavery and eventually societal breakdown. Unity today is at best the setting aside of your beliefs for the “greater good” of soceity. But the Bible makes it clear that Jesus Christ and Christianity are the true religion and this cannot be compromised.

 

Many ministers egotistically teach that we have no creed but Christ. But the Bible asks, “What? Came the word of God out from you? Or came it unto you only?” (1 Cor 14:34). The men of God who hammered out and forged the creeds of the church should not be ignored or set aside by those who question their teaching just because it is seen in a creed. This erroneous attitude of non-creedalists is nothing new. It goes back to the time where the church in Corinth was having terrible disunity, “Now this I say, that every one of you saith, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ.” (1 Cor. 1:12). I that group who do you think was the most problematic? Was it Paul’s group? Was it Peter’s denomination? I think not. It was that elitist congregation those who claimed that they exclusively belonged to Christ above their brethren that were the most dangerous.

 

I read somewhere that the real question is not about accepting the word of God over the creeds of men or placing the Creeds above the holy Scriptures but the issue is the tried and tested faith of the collective body of God’s people, versus the private opinion of the person or groups who object to creeds to make up or reinvent the church and their own beliefs. Creeds are an expression of beliefs that line up with scripture (orthodoxy) and are detailed in their phraseology to avoid beliefs that deviate from scripture (heresy).

 

The Article Seven of the Belgic Confession states this adamantly concerning scriptures and any other human writing, “For since it is forbidden to add to or subtract from the Word of God, this plainly demonstrates that the teaching is perfect and complete in all respects. Therefore we must not consider human writings– no matter how holy their authors may have been– equal to the divine writings; nor may we put custom, nor the majority, nor age, nor the passage of time or persons, nor councils, decrees, or official decisions above the truth of God, for truth is above everything else.

 

Creeds demonstrated how the church developed and became more sophisticated in their interpreting Scripture. It also serves to help discern pure doctrine and defend it from the distortion of heretics and the assault of unbelievers, and creates a unity of faith through teaching.  They also give us a syllabus in training our children and other Christians. They should manifest a convincing competent knowledge of the fundamental teachings of the Christian faith and live a life that glorifies and serves God.

 

Many people will say that they do not agree with the Greek and Roman forms of the church and that is why they do not accept Creeds. That is why we must test the Creeds in light of the scripture. I think the Second Helvetic Confession says it beautifully, “Wherefore we do not despise the interpretations of the holy Greek and Latin fathers, nor reject their disputations and treatises concerning sacred matters as far as they agree with the Scriptures; but we modestly dissent from them when they are found to set down things differing from, or altogether contrary to, the Scriptures. Neither do we think that we do them any wrong in this matter; seeing that they all, with one consent, will not have their writings equated with the canonical Scriptures, but command us to prove how far they agree or disagree with them, and to accept what is in agreement and to reject what is in disagreement.”

 

[i]Norma Normata A Rule that is Ruled Right Now Counts Forever By R.C. Sproul © 2008 Tabletalk Magazine

Tales From the Furnace Part 2

furnace3It is no comfort to know that everyone goes through trials (1 Cor 10:13; 1 Peter 5:8-9) unless you see that those trials melt us together to become one golden masterpiece. I love those who have melted in him, with me. The fellowship of his sufferings bring us together as Jesus prayed, “that they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me.” (John 17:21-23).

 

You will be at your very worst and very best in trial. But when the futility of my own works is clearly seen I begin to feel after these trials as Job, “my soul chooseth strangling, and death rather than my life.” (Job 7:15KJV). I have grown weary with the ineffectiveness of my ministry. But I realize that God is doing a very deep work of humiliation and holiness in me. I hate these times. I do repent that I have despised the chastening of the Lord because if I despise it I deem him unjust and He is not. It is just everything is fire, smoke and I can hardly breathe.

 

I realize that the three Hebrew boys thrown into the furnace came out with no smoke, but they did have a flavor in them that they did not before. I cough, gasp, struggle for breath and cry for help. I am like a burning piece of wood, when will I be plucked from the flames (Amos 4:11)? All my pride is worthless, my heart naked, the varnish of my reputation stripped. All I hear and feel is a spiritual burning! My soul, mind and body melt in the crucible of God!

 

My soul is in prison and one can deliver me from his hands (Psalm 142:7). I am incarcerated, sentenced to these flames-he pours the liquor of heaven on me and set me afire so that somehow the taste of the brazen altar and its savor is in me! No one can remove me from this inferno, this purgatory! He looks the other way as I give my prayer performance in order to cause a diversion in his heart from being in this fire!

 

He has no regard to my Bible reading in hopes, reminding him of his promises and profession of faith in order to escape. I must go through the molten sanctification. The time has come that, “I must think of my sufferings as a weaning from that old sinful habit of always expecting to get my own way. Then I’ll be able to live out my days free to pursue what God wants instead of being tyrannized by what I want.” (1 Peter 4:1-2 MSG).

 

“Even from eternity I am He, and there is none who can deliver out of My hand; I act and who can reverse it?” (Isaiah 43:13NASB). All the prayers of my friends leave me untouched, I am invulnerable to my enemies I am in the fearful place, in the hands of the Sovereign God-the all consuming fire. He has swallowed me up in the belly of his fire, to separate the useless things from me. The thing I cannot use, should not use and will not use. Because they are burned! Useless, worthless, there is so much in me that desecrates the temple, defiling pollution!

 

Before I am transfigured it seems I must be disfigured. Or have I always been disfigured? All the comeliness, the perfect beauty God bestows upon me (Ezekiel 16:14) is removed. “For my comeliness was turned in me into corruption, and I retained no strength.” (Daniel 10:8).  It is a deathly pallor, or a face pale with death to self weakness, cowardice! There is only burning instead of beauty (Isaiah 3:24).

 

God is not an irresponsible parent. He beats me with his rod to deliver my soul from hell (Prov 23:14). Obedience is for my spiritual health and operating in wisdom to his intention and design in creating us and all around us we must use those things in the context he gave. If God sees an area in my life that refuses to respond in obedience and there are many he will resort to other measures that will cause “a quiet harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way.” (Heb. 12:11NLT).

 

God will not fight for me (Psalm 44:9) while he is fighting with me (Acts 5:39)! I try to fight him but he has beaten my resolve, my ability to fight as he turns my swords in to shovels, my spears into hoes-gardening tools (Isaiah 2:4). He uses that fight in me against me to accomplish his work of husbandry and farming! My life pours out of me like blood that he holds in his hands and absorbs like a cup.  I am like a sacrifice, a burnt offering on his burning altar (Rom. 12:1). Flesh and blood cannot inherit his kingdom! My flesh, my blood cannot do what his spirit and life can do! (John 6:63).

 

He does the deliberate work of sanctification exterminating the compound uselessness from my soul and unscrambling the useless wasteful abilities of my life-the ore of my life; refining, producing purity a nearly uncontaminated and a state suitable for his use. My filth pours out of me by this spirit of judgment and burning (Isaiah 4:4).

 

I cannot stand it any longer. “But who can endure the day of His coming and who can stand when He appears? For, He is like a refiner’s fire and like launderers’ soap. He will sit as a refiner and a purifier of silver; He will purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer to the LORD an offering in righteousness.” (Malachi 3:2-3NKJV). Don’t sing to me of this fire! There is nothing quixotic or romantic about it! “The crucible is for silver, and the furnace is for gold, and the LORD tests hearts.” (Prov. 17:3).

 

The crucible is not just the furnace-but the bottom of the furnace! It is why he must lift me up out of the scum and excrement of self will, rebellion for it is ugly and vile. It is the only way I can have hope of being a vessel useful for God. It is all dross. That archaic word means Take away the dross from the silver, and there shall come forth a vessel for the finer. (Prov 25:4KJV). In another version it says, “Remove impurities from the silver and the silversmith can craft a fine chalice.” (Prov 25:4). A chalice, an extraordinary vessel in my Lord’s eyes, a cup of communion! Oh I long to be lifted to the Lord’s lips as such! He communed with his Father and I was a horrible prospect (Rev 17:4). In a state where I desire not purity and embrace this fire he would rightly says over and over again, “Father let this cup pass from me!” (Mk 14: 36-39). But instead the Crucified one drinks from this weary cup as part of his Father’s will, the wrath of God against sinners, for my sake and drains it of all its impurity for he himself took on my diseased nature, sin sick nature and gave me his righteousness (Isaiah 53:4-5).

 

Now let him lift me to his lips as a chalice-a cup that the glorified Christ would drink from! He took the cup and if not mans eyes! Don’t preach to me theology about me difference between salvation and sanctification because if I am not cleansed eventually I would be lost-if I am his, really his I will bear fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life.” (Romans 6:22). Do not interfere with my beloved and I (Song 2:7; 8:4)

 

I must be holy in all I am and do! A life energetic and blazing with holiness! (1 Peter 1:15). He must make me holy even if he must teach me to resist sin with the surrender of my own life (Heb 12:4). To live is Christ to die is gain (Phil 1:21)! I cannot love my life, family, friends and dreams more than him or I will lose my life to sin and self’s destructive grasp (Mt 10:39)!

 

I know of his grace of his imputed righteousness but forgiveness is not enough I must find my fulfillment in doing the will of God, after that I have done the will of God I might receive the promise (Heb 10:36). Oh God strengthen me complete and perfect me and make me what I ought to be and equip me with everything good that I may carry out Your will while You Yourself work in me and accomplishes that which is pleasing in Your sight, through Jesus Christ! (Heb 13:21).

 

I can only rest in the Crucified One and somehow believe that, “My beloved is mine, and I am his” (Song 2:6).  It is amazing.  After a long study on the Song of Solomon and in the first chapter the Shulamite says, “I am weathered but still elegant, oh, dear sisters in Jerusalem, Weather–darkened like Kedar desert tents, time-softened like Solomon’s Temple hangings.” (Song 1:5MESSAGE).

 

Weathered- that is it! Weather beaten is more like it. How the trials of life can make us elegant is hard to comprehend. I feel ugly and useless. God erodes all our substances and our beauty (what we think is our beauty or righteousness) and softens us. It is when your heart is bruised, sore when you feel the stitches-God attempts to heal us after these spiritual surgeries. But like anything you have to be careful in your movements, if you do not rest or let it heal it bleeds all over again.  

 

If you find another way than by all means take it, though it I say that with much reservation. We all have a love hate relationship with the pressures of life and the squeezing of GOD’s hand to bring forth the juice of the fruit of the Spirit in us. When Paul visited Lystra, Iconium and Antioch he was “putting muscle and sinew in the lives of the disciples, urging them to stick with what they had begun to believe and not quit, making it clear to them that it wouldn’t be easy: “Anyone signing up for the kingdom of God has to go through plenty of hard times.” (Acts 14:22Message).

Tales From the Furnace Part 1

furnace“Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you. But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy…for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you.” (1 Peter 4:12-14).

 

We are saved by God’s sovereign grace alone, through faith alone by Christ alone for God’s glory alone. But we will go through a process of sanctification and be comformed to his image. What I am attempting to say is not email, voice mail or snail mail it is heart mail. I only know that in order to change and change I must, that the furnace can not be side stepped. Only when you grow sick and tired of your self and you will, then you of your own free will enter the furnace. You will cry for purging of your sin nature rather than pardon for your sins. The children of Israel were told, “But the LORD hath taken you, and brought you forth out of the iron furnace, even out of Egypt, to be unto him a people of inheritance, as ye are this day. (Deut 4:20).

 

Those are ominous words at first reading. Peter tells those persecuted Christians thousands of years ago that trials are fiery. This verse can say easily, “Don’t be amazed by the burning!”  I am amazed that this could happen to me. My present suffering is agony on fire and a trial by fire. It burns. It injures. It hurts so badly. My tears are like the crackling of the flames. When I am dumb with silence I just feel the steady heat, I have a steady glow as all the moisture in me is turned into a drought (Psalm 32:4). I am dehydrated. I thirst! My soul is a dry and thirsty land where there is no water and I thirst for God (Psalm 63:1-3)! Of course it burns, scorching fire is involved. If by chance you hear or read these words and you are experiencing pain, you are not unspiritual, it does not mean you are carnal because you are in pain.

 

There is dignity in this time even when you feel all your self-respect has been stripped away. People will accuse you or worse counsel you during this time. This is a matter of intimacy. Man’s opinion or man pleasing is the heart of all lethal religion. Of the Pharisees who refused the fire of Christ’s words it says, “All their works they do for to be seen of men!” (Mt. 23:5). Do you and I feel absolved from this sort of criminal act? The Message version says, “Their lives are perpetual fashion shows, embroidered prayer shawls one day and flowery prayers the next.” Man’s opinion of you must become fuel for the furnace or you will never benefit from this trial. You will be useless for the Master’s work. When you come to the realization of how many things you have done to be seen of men instead of God, it will break your heart!

 

You and I feel disfigured on the way to be transfigured. What you were, what you know does not matter at all in these flames. Self esteem and confidence-what are they in this furnace that incinerates all things?

 

A healthy view of self is not against scripture and impish false humility is loathsome to God but self hatred has its place as well. But everything is an issue to the flames including your identity and titles. Your history and good works are but dung if you would win Christ! (Phil 3:8). Nothing can douse the inferno. Man centered theology cannot help you. Don’t speak to me of psychology. Leave me and my Beloved alone. You cannot know. Only he can. What you and I know about God is tested and if it is worthless it is reduced to ashes as the fire licks at our mind and soul and removes it to where we have more questions than answers! 

 

If you are suffering, you are suffering like Christ did. To be like Jesus is the prayer of any child of God who has a sane understanding of what it is to be a Christian. I am stunned as I read that people “did not accept deliverance that they might obtain a better resurrection!” (Heb 11:35). What kind of mindset is that compared to what we hear preached in the pop theology of the emergent, church growth cults of today?

 

But could you look at him in the face, touch his nail scarred hands, the wound that was from a lance thrust in his side and look down art his nail pierced feet never having endured suffering and trial? Is Jesus in his suffering so disfigured in your eyes that you do not see the beauty he has? Paul prayed for “the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of his sufferings!” (Phil 3:10). The Murdock translation says, “That I might know Jesus, and the efficacy of his resurrection; and might participate in his sufferings, and be assimilated to his death.” The effectiveness of his resurrection life can only be appreciated when you are personally involved with a suffering for Christ and are absorbed into his death! Is this suffering Jesus someone you avoid? It is a fellowship and companionship. Those who associate with him do suffer. But we suffer with him that we might reign with him. (2 Tim 3:12).

 

As hard as it is to accept, a radiance and splendor of his presence is going to be seen in you like never before. You are being integrated into all that Jesus is, in this furnace. The spirit of glory and of God will rest on you.

 

This trial is familiar yet unique. It is a test. Why now? Either things were going so well, or things are bad enough! Now a test comes! It is not a pop quiz, it is like a pop SAT. Trials are not strange. It is not an accident. This is not THE trial with no obstacles afterward. There are many ordeals in this life (James 1:2-3). God says “Don’t be confused. It is on purpose. You must be tested and proven.”  God is not after you he is after something in you. Like a dangerous glaucoma of pride, or the cancer of bitterness, any soul damning desires that lurk like a cancer that pretends to be benign when it actually can turn terminal in an instant.

 

But no matter despite what Peter our brother in Christ wrote to us, my first reaction to life’s complications is that they are strange and I am confused. I have been here before but it is a different scene.

Soul Prison

soul-prison1“Bring my soul out of prison, that I may praise thy name: the righteous shall compass me about; for thou shalt deal bountifully with me.” (Psalm 142:7)

David never spent one night in prison. He spent many days of his life in caves. But there were times that he felt incarcerated by God. Not as a criminal but he was confined in a place where he did not want to be restrained.

He says to God in the famous Psalm, “thou hast beset me behind and before and laid thine hand upon me.” (Ps 139:5). In front, in back, on top and below are God’s fingers, the bars that imprison me.  The word “beset” means “to…closely surround, so that there is no way of escape. This is the idea here – that God was on every side of him; that he could not escape in any direction.” (Barnes).  David was a glad prisoner to the omniscience, omnipotence and omnipresence of God (Psalm 139:6-12). I wonder why. How could he praise God for such times in solitary confinement?

 

I can identify with David at least in this matter. I am one of the King’s prisoners (Gen 39:20; Philemon 1,9). There is doubt about that now.  This fact is both comforting and disturbing. It all depends on what I see happen outside of my cell: the good and the idiotic things those who a free engage in, especially those in ministry.

 

It is comforting because I have experienced God’s mercy before; he saved me, filled me with his Spirit and called me to preach, feeling his anointing and seeing his power. That is some comfort to my soul. 

 

It also disturbing because I sit in a cell day after day watching those who freely minister the gospel in church, in the media and on the internet and I wonder what it is like to be free, really free to preach the gospel. It is like being exiled to a concrete island that is not on the map with a view of a raging dark ocean.

 

It seems to be a place where people look at me and sometimes visit me but either cannot or will not help me. God seems to have hindered them from doing so. I am not sure. Prison is a confusing place.  I am in lock up and I do not know why.  Talking about my innocence or what I did when I was free is awkward because people don’t believe me. People ask me what I want to do and prison is making me forget. I think I will remember when I am free (Gen. 42:9).

 

When John the Baptist was in prison he had heard of the works of Christ and needed reassurance the Christ was the Messiah. Sometimes in prison you need to have confirmation that he is really the Liberator (Matt 11: 1-6).  The only thing I remember at times is the Lord. I have pictures of him in my cell and letters he has written to me.  I wait for him to write again telling me he is about to release me so I can once again be surrounded by free men, the righteous who will surround me like a crown of liberty and the bountiful favor of God.  But for now, like Simon Peter, I used to be able to move freely in every direction but now Another’s hand takes me where he wants to go (John 21:17-23).

 

Being in “soul prison” is revealed in Psalm 102. You feel your days are being burned up and your life is going up in smoke. You live off the scraps of others and are lonely even with family around you. It is like you are stuck with your binoculars sitting on the roof watching others that are laughing, enjoying life and their ministry. You see your shadow and it seems more real than your life that casts that shadow. You are like a blade of grass ready to be mown down by the kid the neighbors pay to cut the lawn.  You lay down and your thoughts spill into your head and make you an insomniac and even when you sleep you get no rest. You feel weak and like you will die. People gossip about you and slander you (you are paranoid that they are). They look funny at you, wondering what you did to end up with your orange jump suit thinking that you are getting what you deserve and why you are not cleaning up trash by the highway.

 

It hurts most when others see that you are in pain and avoid you. Especially those who claim to have been incarcerated. They act like they never had a record but you know they did. Why won’t they admit it? The prison food is no better because you eat sorrow like old stew and drink the salt water of tears. People see you frustrated and tell you not to be and give unsolicited advice on how to be free or that you are impatient and need to wait on God. The worst is you wonder if God is angry with you and left you flat, you know the scripture that you can never be alienated from his love or severed from his presence, but soul prison makes you think that way. It tests the mettle of your faith and your desire for freedom.

 

God does not despise his prisoners (Ps 69:33). He hears their sighing and groaning (Ps 79:11; 102:20). Eventually, “bring out the prisoners from the prison, and them that sit in darkness out of the prison house.” (Isaiah 42:7). But for me I wait for his salvation. Deliver me, Oh Lord!