“Fearfully, Wonderfully, &… Strategically”

“For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope; for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for? But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it.

Likewise the Spirit also helpeth  our infirmities; for we know not what we should pray for as we ought; but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us, with groanings which cannot be uttered.

And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is in the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God. 

And we know that all things work together for the good of them that love God, and are the called according to his purpose.

For whom God did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be firstborn among many brethren.

Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also calledthem he also justified; and whom he justifiedthem he also glorified. What then shall we say to these things?

If God be for us, who can be against us? He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things? 

Who shall lay any thing to the charge (against) of God’s elect? It is God  that justifieth. Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea, rather that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?

As it is written, FOR THY SAKES, WE ARE KILLED ALL THE DAY LONG; WE ARE ACCOUNTED AS SHEEP FOR THE SLAUGHTER. Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through that loved us.

For I am persuaded that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, ,nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to seperate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus, our Lord.“Romans 8:24-39

That is probably very familiar scripture, but sometimes we need to be reminded of the basic Gospel. Sermons we hear and then are replaced by thoughts and words of other sermons over time.

My daughter, like most kids, when she was little, loved Pooh Bear,of course she is all grown up now, but being a parent I still have a pretty good memory of lines from her favorite repeatedly watched cartoons, I actually still remember lines from shows that my niece was fascinated with, it just kinda gets stuck in our heads, but anyway of the cutest from Pooh was when they were on a great adventure and Tigger in rambunctious Tigger fashion pipes up and says, “You have to remind your remember-er” and cartoon or not, that is actually quite true.

The distance between the earthly realm and the heavenly realm can sometimes seem so vast that we can “forget” what we once knew so well.

When we are saved and everything is new and beautiful, freshly washed from sin and the newness of Christ shining brightly in our hearts, souls, and minds can over a period of time be overshadowed by the cares and troubles of this world, just as Jesus said in the parable of the seeds.

We can find ourselves questioning everything and I even imagine that when Paul wrote that, he had been through that battle himself, probably more than once, as he was imprisoned more often than he was free, as we know because of his refusal to stop preaching Christ and preach he did.

His life was a testimony of God changing the heart of he who once was the greatest persecutor of the first church to becoming one of the church’s greatest leaders that had ever been or would ever be.

And the fact that everyday, probably innumerable times a day, some of us quote or study, or share the words Paul wrote while in those dark places of his life is such a testament to not only the sovereignty of God over the plans he had for the life of Paul, but the sovereignty over the plans he has for all the lives he has created.

Maybe you feel today, like “Well, that was Paul.”, No, that was Paul, but that was also all Christ’s disciples, that was you, that was me, that is every human being God sends to this earth.

We ALL have a purpose, we all have a divine appointment, an appointment to accept Jesus and to know him in his resurrected glory and power working in us and in our lives, whether or not we keep that appointment is completely up to us.

And if we have not accepted Christ we can’t lay claim to the promises of the Bible because without repentance there is no forgiveness of sins, doesn’t mean that God does not have a beautiful plan for your life, just means that you choose follow your own plan and forgo the blessings and fellowship of your Creator, but you still exist because he created you whether you choose to acknowledge that or not.

And if you have chosen God and life is getting the way of your happiness with sorrow, sadness, or uncertainty, please don’t think for a second that it changes in any way, God sovereignty over your life or his plans for you.

That is why he had us given the beautiful words above, saying, surely these things come, but they will never separate you from him or from the love he has for you.

You were fearfully and wonderfully created, as all things are and were created for him and by him and for his pleasure, scripture tells us this quite clearly and your life is precious to him and your life. even though you may not feel it now, is very important to others and as the called of God, you  may feel that the best of life has passed by or there is nothing left to be had, but our thoughts are not God’s thoughts and his ways are not our ways. you may not have even yet began the journey he sent you here for.

You are here at this time, in this season, by divine will and following him, and surrendering to him, you will be strategically placed exactly where you were created to be for whatever purpose you were created for.

So don’t give up, keep pressing on, remembering that he will work it all for your good and don’t settle for anything less than God’s best for your life.

And if you have been believing for something and it has not come to pass yet or if you have a special promise in your heart from God that you are waiting on and your beginning to feel like if it hasn’t happened by now, it’s never gonna happen, read the stories of Abraham and Noah, and remember how long that the Hebrews waited for deliverance ,time is a condition only us humans have, God forever keeps his promises as long as we keep ourselves in him.

For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil (calamity)to give you an expected end (a future and a hope).” Jeremiah 29:11

That is his promise to his children and that promise is to you!

Have a blessed week! Praying God’s encouragement and peace will be yours!

Φλογιζω NBJ 2021/ Rev. Nina Brown Johnson

 

“Nothing to prove”

“The first day of the week cometh Mary Magdalene early, when it was yet dark, unto the sepulchre, and seeth the stone taken away from the sepulchre.

Then she runneth, and cometh to Simon Peter, and to the other disciple, whom Jesus loved, and saith unto them, They have taken the Lord out of the sepulchre, and we know not where they have laid him.

Peter therefore went forth, and that other disciple, and came to the sepulchre (going to the tomb).

So they ran both together; and the other disciple did outrun Peter, and came first to the sepulchre.

And he stooping down, and looking in, saw the linen clothes lying: yet went he not in.

Then cometh Simon Peter following him, and went into the sepulchre, and seeth the linen clothes lie.

And the napkin, that was about his head (the face cloth that had been over Jesus’ face), not lying with the linen clothes, but wrapped together (folded) in a place by itself. Then went in also that other disciple, which came first to the sepulchre, and he saw, and believed.

For as yet, they knew (understood) not the scripture, that he must rise from the dead. 

Then the disciples went away again unto their own home.

But Mary stood without (outside) at the sepulchre weeping: and as she wept, she stooped down, and looked into the sepulchre.

And seeth two angels in white sitting, the one at the head, and the other at the feet, where the body of Jesus had lain.

And they said unto her, Woman, why weepest thou? She saith unto them, Because they have taken away my Lord, and I know not where they have laid him.

And when she had thus said, she turned herself back, and saw Jesus standing there, but she knew not that it was Jesus. Jesus saith unto her, Woman, why weepest thou? whom seekest thou? She, supposing him to be the gardener, saith unto him, Sir, if thou hast borne him hence (carried him away),tell me where thou hast laid him, and I will take him away. 

Jesus saith unto her, Mary, she turned herself, and saith unto him, Rabboni; which is to say, Master (teacher). 

Jesus saith unto her, Touch me not, for I am not yet ascended to my Father; but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God.

Mary Magdalene came and told the disciples that she had seen the Lord, and that he had spoken these things unto her.

Then the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled for fear of the Jews, came Jesus and stood in the midst, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you.

And when he had so said, he shewed (showed) unto them his hands and his side, Then were the disciples glad, when they saw the Lord.

Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you; as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you.

And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost;

Whose soever sins ye remit (forgive), they are remitted (forgiven) unto them; and whose soever sins ye retain, they are retained. 

But, Thomas, one of the twelve, called Didymus, was NOT with them with Jesus come. 

The other disciples therefore said unto him, We have seen the Lord. But he said unto them, Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails, and out my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into his side, I will not believe.

And after eight days again his disciples were within (inside), and Thomas with them; then came Jesus, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, Peace be unto you. 

Then said he to Thomas, Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless (unbelieving) but believing. 

And Thomas answered and said unto him, My Lord and my God. Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they who have not seen, and yet have believed. 

And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book:

But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through (in) his name.” John 20 1-31

I love that last verse! “But” these are written… so we can have the choice to believe the Bible accounts and that we can have that choice to accept eternal life, simply by choosing to believe for ourselves, that Jesus was indeed born as a man on this earth to a virgin mother, led a completely sinless life, while subjected to all the traps and snares of this world, even more so than us, and yet without committing one sin.

Something no human can do, and Jesus was constantly bombarded by those demanding that he “prove” himself to them, even as he was suffering, dying, on the cross, they still demanded, “IF you are the Son of God, come down” and so many today have quite the same attitude when they chose to not accept salvation, it is often said, “Well, when God calls I will get saved,”

Bad idea, because God already called, the very first time any of heard the name of Jesus and the message of salvation, we were called and every single say he allows us on this earth that we are aware of the teachings of Christ, we are still being extended that invitation to eternal life.

And when we give all the excuses and somehow think he should chase us down and beg us to serve him, we are not interested in serving God out of love and worship of him, we are in reality acting just like the Pharisees and Jews when they demanded proof of who he was and is, and God answers to no one.

Thomas, poor Thomas, even today, his name is still associated with disbelief, as we refer to perpetually skeptical people as “Doubting Thomases” and doubt often comes from the enemy because he does not want you to believe, and mix that up with human rebellion, people often spend their whole life in misery, looking for happiness, peace, and the meaning of life, searching for “something” while refusing to accept the very thing they seek because they want it on their terms.

Jesus also enlightening us to our blessed state, as he told Thomas, we are blessed because even though we have never saw the Lord, was not present at his crucifixion, never walked Jerusalem with him, did not watch him cast out devils, heal the sick, give sight to the blind, or raise the dead, we still believe, we have chosen to believe and  in that we are blessed.

Once we chose to believe, even when we have not seen him or touched his nail scarred hands or saw the marks from the crown of thorns, we know he is there and we know he lives and we know because he lives, that he lives forever and because he lives, as the Bible tells us, so shall we.

Even though we did not see firsthand all his miracles while he walked earth, we can see the miracles he sends today and we can one day see the resurrection, the resurrection of all who have died in him, as those who are “asleep” in God will be gathered together with him in that glorious day.

This scripture was not originally part of this post, but as I write, it is on my heart, to share this, one more time, 1 Thessalonians 4: 16-18:

“For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God; and the dead in Christ shall rise first;

Then they which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to MEET the Lord in the air; and so we shall ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words.”

This is the hope, this is one of those many blessings that we are given, the promise that living on this earth, remaining faithful to the Lord, or dying, being buried, cremated, or even, heaven forbid, something so cataphoric that there isn’t anything even left of our earthly bodies, still God will repair and raise those bodies back up.

And you notice in the accounts of Pharisees’ and those of that day, constantly demanding that “proof” of Jesus, and Jesus had nothing to prove to them, but yet when Mary wept, so distraught that she just answered the angels when they asked why she cried, even though they sat positioned as those that adorned the mercy seat, as this was a complete mirror, and yet, she never questioned any of it, she was so distraught and devastated and someone once asked why did he come to her first, and in my mind, like a kid at school, raising their hand, shouting, “I know! I know!”, I do know and many of you do too, and the person asking knew, they just, I believe, wanted people to really, really think about this, she needed him the most.

They were all traumatized, devastated, and their lives turned upside down, going from walking with the one who walked on water to being in total horror, hiding as they knew those who killed Jesus could come at any moment to take their lives also.

And such a dependence on him, and rightfully so, but where would they turn when the one that they had turned to was, in their grief stricken minds, now gone forever.

And while the others hid, Mary sought, she thought nothing of the soldiers, or nothing of the Priests, or the impending doom and death that could have very easily beset her, all that was going on in her mind is that his body was gone and she loved him, adored him, and was determined to find him.

And he came to her.

As we are promised, we will find him, when we seek him with our whole heart.

But this world, and especially the Great Babylon, that demands “proof” of his existence and “proof” of his return, do not seek him, they only use the need of “proof” to excuse their disbelief, thereby in their thoughts, excusing them from adhering to his commands that were given to all mankind, but as we know, there will be no excuses, either we believe or we don’t.

He will bless belief by revealing himself but he will never “prove” himself to appease unbelief.

He has nothing to prove, he is God and he does as he chooses and if we refuse to accept his death and resurrection as the sacrifice for our sins, then we can certainly not blame anyone other than ourselves.

Believe or not, as the old saying goes, one day he will make “believers” of us all, even those whos refuse to repent will still know and see him with their own eyes, and for many, that day will be too late.

So today, if you love him, seek him all the more, as the world grows colder and more belligerent, let your love and devotion to him grow that much stronger, the greater their denial let your proclamation sound louder, be like Mary, she didn’t care that the disciples thought she was insane and refused to believe her report, she didn’t care who was at the tomb, she didn’t care how far she had to go or how she would get there, all she knew is that she had to find her Lord, and that is all we need to remember in these last days, it wasn’t about him and the disciples, or him and the Pharisees, or what the Priests, Pilate, or anyone else thought, said or did, it was all about her and her relationship with him and she was beyond blessed for that.

Love & Peace till next time, thanks for reading!

Φλογιζω NBJ 2021/ Reverend Nina Brown Johnson

 

 

 

“PRECONCEPTION”

“And Saul, yet breathing out threatenings and slaughter (murder) AGAINST the disciples of the Lord, went unto the high priest, and desired (asked) of him letters to Damascus to the synagogues, that if he found any of this way (followers of Christ), whether they were men or women, he might bring them bound (arrested) unto Jerusalem.

And as he journeyed, he came near Damascus; and SUDDENLY there SHINED ROUND ABOUT HIM A LIGHT FROM HEAVEN: and he FELL to the earth, and HEARD a voice saying into him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?

And he said WHO ART THOU, LORD? and the Lord said, I am Jesus who thou persecutest: it is hard to kick against the pricks. (pricks meaning goads, it all meant that was USELESS for Saul to even attempt to resist the Lord)

And he TREMBLING and ASTONISHED said, what wilt thou have me to do? And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the city, and IT SHALL be told thee what thou must do.

And the men with journeyed with him stood speechless, HEARING a voice, but SEEING NO MAN. And Saul arose from the earth; and when his eyes were opened, he saw no man: but they led him by the hand, and brought him into Damascus.  And he was there three days WITHOUT SIGHT, and NEITHER DID EAT OR DRINK.

And there was a certain disciple at Damascus, named Ananias; AND TO HIM SAID THE LORD IN A VISION, Ananias. And he said, Behold, I am here, Lord.

And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the street which is called Straight, and enquire in the house of Judas for one called Saul, for, behold, he prayeth, And hath seen in a vision a man named Ananias coming in, and putting his hand on him, that he may receive his sight.

THEN Ananias answered, Lord, I have HEARD BY MANY OF THIS MAN, HOW MUCH EVIL (harm) HE HATH DONE to thy saints at Jerusalem: And he hath authority from the chief priests to bind all that call upon thy name.

BUT the Lord said unto him, Go thy way: for he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel; For I will shew him how great things he must suffer for my names sake.” Acts 9: 1-16

Now got some serious events going on right there, as we know it as “the conversion of Saul/Paul” God was taking a man whom had made his LIFE all about persecuting Christians and at that time to even bind women and drag them off was especially despicable but what Saul did, he did one hundred percent, and gave it all he had to give.

And the beauty is that his TRUE PREDESTINATION was a total 360 and the cause he so hated would be the cause that he would ultimately and WILLING GIVE HIS LIFE in favor of!

And once his spiritual eyes were OPENED to the Lord, he did not even try to fight it because he knew he had BEEN WRONG and that he was now had. The other insight into all things human with this, is that Saul, whose entire being would be changed, EVEN his name, as he would now journey roads that led to so much greater than Damascus, roads that could only be navigated in his PREORDAINED, DESTINATION of walking those roads no longer as Saul the Enforcer, but as Paul the Apostle and truly remarkably, while Saul was YET blinded, and horrified, in complete darkness, God ALREADY told Ananias His own divine plan for Paul’s mission!

So see, Ananias, even though he was TERRIFIED of Saul, knew the work Paul would do BEFORE Paul even knew! So we are going in this post to the land of preconceptions, you know, that nasty little place that we arrive at when we decide a persons worth based on what we HEAR, just as Ananias had HEARD all these things about Saul, and while these things HAD BEEN TRUE after GOD CHANGED PAUL, they no longer held any merit and often we judge others based on pre-Christ lives and ancient history and how are we benefitting them, witnessing to them, or furthering the Kingdom of God by doing this?

pre·con·cep·tion
[ˌprēkənˈsepSH(ə)n]

NOUN
preconceptions (plural noun) · pre-conception (noun) · pre-conceptions (plural noun) · pre-conception (noun) · pre-conceptions (plural noun)
a preconceived idea or prejudice.

(from Oxford Dictionary)

I had the most strange encounter, I had recently met a person and pick up no weird vibes or maliciousness coming from them and it happened that another person, I had never met, strikes up a conversation and we start talking and they bring up this other person and that I should know them and they proceed to tell me in about three minutes the entire life history of the other, and of course, the good, the bad, and the most of all the horrific.

And of course I am trying to figure out, in my head, why on earth did they feel the need to tell me all that?

I often remember something the “old-timers” always preached.. that we CAN KILL A PERSON with our words, we KILL their reputation, we KILL their testimony by CHOOSING to share every single detail of their lives NEEDLESSLY and usually those details are never of any good they may have done, BUT all the bad, all the mistakes, and the WORST possible “proofs of character” or rather proof of LACK thereof.

And as I questioned all this, in my heart, the sovereignty of God and goodness of Him came shining through as I actually overheard a conversation between the person “in question” and another, and they were actually talking about GOD, and they used a scripture that they said had helped them through a situation. And all that was said, was all I needed to hear because I know as a minister, that the wording they chose is only chosen by people who truly believe.

So anyway, I pondered the whole deal, and I was like, what was THAT all about?

And I came up with this conclusion, of course sometimes we are WARNED in life, BUT what if, sometimes, we are told things to make us fear another SO THAT WE WILL NOT SHARE THE GOSPEL, things told us so that we will be so guarded and not give a person even a moment, the benefit of doubt and to prevent us from even trying to see WHO they are in Christ, whether of not, they even ARE in Christ YET.

Just as Ananias had to be reassured by the Lord, sometimes we need to ask God to reassure us, we have no business in the pasts of others, we WERE NOT in their past but if God has placed us on the same path, in their present, even for  a moment, we owe them the same respect and opportunity to “prove” their character as we ourselves desire.

Because as the Bible so eloquently states in Romans 3:22,23:

EVEN the righteousness of God which is BY FAITH of JESUS CHRIST unto ALL and upon ALL that BELIEVE: for THERE IS NO DIFFERENCE: For ALL HAVE SINNED, AND COME (fall) SHORT OF THE GLORY OF GOD.”

That is the deal, MAYBE God wants us to try to see others AS He sees them, He SEES them as what they CAN be, what He created them to be, in the spiritual work that He predestined and when He forgives, He FORGIVES and FORGETS and He never considers those sins again, so why should we?

Why are we allowed to hold against others actions that we had no stake in or right to accuse now? And if we do CHOOSE to hold those negative thoughts, attitudes, and PRECONCEPTIONS about them, then WE could very well be the ones who cause them to stumble and cause them to stay who they once were rather than being lights and encouraging them to have faith and embrace who they can become in Christ!

And again, I want to STRESS that if you KNOW a person to be in danger through another person, or that they are ABSOLUTELY going to cause harm, BY ALL MEANS warn whoever is in that path, and I want to STRESS, I personally DO NOT BELIEVE we have to be buddies with people who have wrecked our lives, we do have to forgive but we are not required to hang out with them.

BUT please really, really consider what NEEDS to be said about  a person or their past BEFORE saying it, and ask YOURSELF this question, IF that IS who they STILL are, or WHO they STILL want to be, would they NOT STILL BE THERE IN THAT SAME PLACE, SITUATION, OR LIFESTYLE? 

People DO NOT change until THEY WANT to change and we NEED to be discreet in our disclosures (UNLESS, they are warranted) and LET them change!

Thanks for reading! Have a Blessed week, Love & Peace till next time!

Φλογίζω Σαλπιζω NBJ 2017