Sunday, November 23, 2014

Bread of Life

John 6:35, "Then Jesus declared, "I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty."

Three weeks ago I talked to a man on the streets of Texas who was born in an old bread truck at the gate posts of the Biloxi Airbase in Mississippi just when hurricane Camile was hitting the gulf.

He had a good life, raised with one sister.  As a child he had dreams of becoming a space explorer, but early in life, this dream was interrupted.  He got caught up in a serious domestic abuse situation and as a result served 28 years in prison.  I didn't ask him what the charges were, and he didn't volunteer the information.  Evidently, he could have appealed his sentence, but there's a limitation on how much time a person has to do that, and his time had run out.

But during that time in prison, he came to know the Lord, and spent a lot of his time in Bible studies, learning about the Lord and what difference that made in his life.

He is out of prison and on parole.  He has a job, and is working to rebuild his life.  Pray for him that the Lord will help him to stay the course and not give up.  I'm sure the journey for him is not easy.

Today I met a man named A J.   He was born and raised in northern Mississippi as a military brat.  Life was difficult.  There was really no church upbringing, and at the moment I met him, he had been somewhat following the meditations of Buddha and alchohol, trying to forget the phantoms of the past..  With a bad upbringing and having served in the Bosnia war, he had a lot he was trying to forget.

I asked him if he could tell what he knew about Jesus.  He said he tried following Him as well.

I explained that unlike Buddha and others, Jesus came to undo the works of the devil, i.e. the bad upbringing and the horrors of war.  I said that first of all, the most important thing for a person to deal with in their life was to be reconciled to God.  I explained that a lot of people don't understand what death really is.  Death isn't that something ceases to exist, but that something is separated from something.  A husband and wife divorce.  The husband continues to exist and goes his own way.  The wife continues to exist and goes her own way.  But the marriage is dead.  A person dies.  Their body is laid in the ground, yet their soul goes on into eternity.  They are merely separated from their body.  When Adam was in the Garden, he walked in union with the Lord.  When Adam sinned, his sin separated him from the God of Life, and Adam became spiritually dead...separated from the life of God.

I explained that Jesus came to undo the works of the devil and to reconcile him to God.  He did this by taking A J's sin, that which separated him from God, and pay the penalty for it at the cross and taking it out of the way.  Jesus was now offering to credit to his life His own perfection, thus making him acceptable to the Father, and that God would then adopt him, seal him by the Holy Spirit, and give him the gift of eternal life.  But he had to ask for it, "For everyone who calls on the Name of the Lord will be saved."  Romans 10:13.  He said he would like to ask.  We prayed together and he received Jesus as his Savior. 

I then explained to him what had just happened.  Ephesians 1:13-14, "And you, A J, were also included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation.  Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing your inheritance until the redemption of those who are God's possession--to the praise of His glory."

I explained to him that in this life he would continue to have troubles.  But one thing had just been settled in the court of heaven:  he was now a child of God and his inheritance with the Lord was guaranteed.  From the moment he first believed until the redemption of those who are God's possession.  Romans 8:23, "Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies."

Pray for A J, that every day he will learn more and more about what it means for him to be included in Christ, and for deliverance from the things that haunt him from his past.

Two men, two different lives.  Both called by God to obey the Gospel.  Both making the decision to take Jesus up on His offer.  Come to Him, the Bread of Life and the Water of Life, and be satisfied.

Praise God for His grace and mercy that He has shown to us through His Son Jesus Christ.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Who's doing the work?

Philippians 1:6, "...being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus."

I met a man from Pennsylvania on the streets of Texas today.  He was a man who had received Jesus as his Savior, but had made some wrong decisions in his life.  He did 5 years in prison as a result of several DWI's.  He has been fighting alchohol addiction for quite some time.  At the time I talked with him he had been dry for 13 days.

After discussing this with him, I found what I thought might be the problem.  He was trying to defeat alchoholism so that he would be accepted by God, not understanding that he was already accepted because he was in Christ.

Paul tells us in Romans chapter 7 about the struggle he had when as a child of God he sought to approach God through obedience to the law.  He found that by doing this that he would do what he didn't want to do, and not do what he wanted to do.  He found only frustration.

I told the brother in Christ that I was talking to that his approach was all wrong.  He was already accepted by God as a result of what Jesus did at the cross.  Jesus took all of his sins and nailed them to the cross and paid the penalty in full for all of them.  When he asked Jesus to save him from judgment, Jesus credited His righteousness to his account and made him acceptable to a just and righteous God.  God then adopted him as His child, sealed him by the Holy Spirit, and gave him a sure hope and future.  It was important for him now to discover what God's unfailing love was all about, and learn to walk as a child of God, not trying to become a child of God.

Paul tells us 3 very important truths in Philippians 1:6.  First, it is God who began a good work in us.  Second, God will complete what He started.  Third, what I had overlooked for a long time: it is God who carries on the work. 

That's what I encouraged this man with.  God had never left him, no matter the mistakes.  God would never leave.  God was with Him now, carrying on the work.

Pray for him, that he would discover more and more what it means to have God's unfailing love, and as a result find victory over the things he doesn't want in his life anymore.