Three in One

So as I woke up today, I decided I would do something different with the blog today. Over the past three days I’ve come across three very important themes: Here I am Lord, Nothing can separate us from the love of Christ, and that we have an untainted and non corrupted inheritance in store when we get to heaven. So I decided to write three short blogs into one, Starting with Here I am.

Here I am
Two days ago after a day of confusion of my future and what I felt like the Lord was telling me and where He was leading me, I awoke with peace and understanding and I came to the understanding of what He was really trying to show me the day before. He wanted me to understand that I am an empty vessel for God to use as He pleased, and that my prayer was now, “Here I am Lord, send me.” Whether it be in a mundane job, or in a big city, Lord send me, and use me. Your will be done. God knew all the confusion I was feeling and the tiredness I was experiencing from the stress of trying to find out where I was supposed to go next. And He knew exactly where I was going. And this song I came across the other day really, Holy Spirit come by Nate Sallie really put a stamp on what I really wanted to happen in my life. The chorus goes, 
Holy Spirit come
Come and fill me with Your love
Move inside of me, fill the air I breathe
And holy Spirit come, fall on me.
And this is what I want for the Holy Spirit to completely take over my soul. To come everyday and fill me with love. For the Holy Spirit to move inside of me, to be so close that it would fill the air I breathe. So as I sit here today, my one and only prayer is “Holy Spirit Come.”


Nothing Can Separate us from the Love of Christ
On biblegateway.com this section of Scripture is titled, “The Believer’s Triumph,” which is just so cool and definitely descriptive of the life that Jesus Christ wants us to live. Romans 8:35 says,
“Who can separate us from the love of Christ?
Can affliction or anguish or persecution
or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?”
And this question is answered in Romans 8:37: 
“No, in all these things we are more than victorious
through Him who loved us.
The apostle Paul goes on to even further to show that nothing can separate us from the love of Christ in Romans 8:38-39:
For I am persuaded that not even death or life,
angels or rulers,
things present or things to come, hostile powers, height or depth, or any other created thing
will have the power to separate us
from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord!

Paul explains that nothing, not even death or angels or rulers or things that will occur, or any created thing can separate us from Christ’s Love. Once we are in Christ’s hand, He will never leave us or forsake us. He will never abandon us, and nothing in this world or anywhere else can take us from His hand. And we can find peace in that now and forever.

Untainted, Non Corrupted Inheritance

Today in my reading I came across 1 Peter 1:3-9 that talks about our inheritance that we will receive upon our arrival into heaven.
“Praise the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. According to His great mercy, He has given us a new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead and into an inheritance that is imperishable, uncorrupted, and unfading, kept in heaven for you. “
(1 Peter 1:3-4)
In these verses, Peter explains how God has shown us great mercy, and that He has given us a new birth and a new living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ. But the most important part to me was that our inheritance is Imperishable, non corrupted and unfading. The Lord has our inheritance in heaven and He is protecting it for us. Our inheritance has not been given to anyone else, our inheritance can’t be taken away, nor can it be corrupted. Our inheritance will be filled with perfection and peace and love and joy and the Father’s overwhelming love, that on this earth we have only had a taste of God’s greatness and love and power. He in all His glory will be revealed on that day we go home to Him, to our real home. And He will bestow on us this imperishable, non corrupted, unfading inheritance that can only come from Him.

-Let me know what ya’ll thought of the new way I wrote this blog, to see if I should do some more blogs like this in the future. Hope ya’ll all have a Merry Christmas and remember the Lord Jesus Christ’s birth as the most important thing of all this season, and the greatest gift that could ever have been given, abundant life in Jesus Christ our Lord.

Hope you and all your families have a blessed Christmas,
Joseph.

Jesus-Healing the Sick, the Outcast, the Needy

Last Friday a horrible shooting death occurred in our country, leaving this country in shock and pain during this Christmas season. As I woke up this morning I am reminded how one year ago, that could have been me.

One year ago, I started attending a year long bible study, under the prompting of my parents. I didn’t want anything to do with Jesus nor His church. For all I was concerned, they were all frauds, and the message He had to give was a lie. From the moment I started going, I pushed myself away, and didn’t want anything to do with anyone. Before in church, or in school, I would stand off to the side, and no one would could speak to me, or if they did, it was because of their guilty conscious. But these people were different. The more I pushed myself away, the more they would love, and the more they would try to find out about me. They were interested in me for who I was, with all my depression, and anger, and pushing them away. For months I was not interested, and I became even more rebellious, but the love and care never quit. Even when I tried to stop attending, the head guy would call me up and say that they had missed me that night and looked forward to seeing me the next week. I was baffled, because I was invisible to everyone else, that churches I had been at before I had never loved me enough to call me when I didn’t attend an event. This was a new thing, these people were reaching out to me, before I reached out to them.
I was that outcast, I was sick, and I was needy, but Jesus wanted a relationship with me. Nothing that I did prompted this. Jesus loved me so much and He came to save and heal the people like me. The people that had no hope and no purpose, and He came to give me a purpose. I had no joy and no peace, and He came to give me joy and peace. He came so that I might have abundant live in Him. And throughout the year, Jesus has given me the strength to reach out, to reach farther than I could ever reach, to touch others that are outcast, and needy and sick. Those that the world throws in the garbage and sees as worthless, Jesus sees as priceless. Jesus comes through the junkyard of life and picks up the old, broken, used, abused people and He heals them. Jesus did not come to save the healthy, He came to save and heal those that were lost. While Jesus was on earth He did not spend most of His time with the Pharisees and teachers of the law, He spent time with tax collectors, and thieves and murderers, and He ate dinner with them. And I am convinced as followers of Him that is what we are supposed to do. 
Jesus calls us to dive head first into this world and get dirty. To not conform to this world, but to show Christ’s love to the world. That’s what I love about my church community. We have such a diverse population on Sunday mornings from homeless people, to college kids, to newlyweds, to broken people. The fact is we are all broken in some way and we all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. But God is there wanting to heal us and bind our wounds. He loves us so much more than we could ever imagine. He does not condemn us. 

“Therefore, no condemnation now exists for those in Christ Jesus. For the  Spirit’s law of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and death.”(Romans 8:1-2)
Right here, right now, there are people dying in this world. They are starving for love, affection, acceptance, hope and purpose. Tell them about Jesus and how He came to seek and save the lost. That He came to heal the sick, and broken heart-ed. Jesus never discards anyone, He will never stop loving. Jesus can use you today to open up His love to them. 
So during this Christmas season reach out, reach out farther than you think you could ever go, because God’s reach is farther than yours. Reach out to those that are fallen, broken. Invite the homeless into your homes for Christmas dinner, invite veterans that are discarded to sing carrols with you and your family, or even take part in giving a toy to orphan this Christmas. Christ went above and beyond to reach the sick and save those that were outcast and I believe we should too. Christ’s love can change anyone, just like me, from being an outcast to being a child of His. Give the gift of life, abundant life, tell all of the love of the Father. He will change their depression into joy. He will take their worthlessness and give them purpose, He will take their abuse and give them love, true love that never leaves or forsakes them. It is the greatest love ever experienced and it will change them. 

Finding Peace in the Midst of the Chaos

Today as I woke up I really wanted to find some rest and some peace. For the last month or so I have been searching for the school that was God’s plan for me, and its been very stressful. and very difficult. After school was over for the semester I was looking forward to some rest but that has not been the case at all. So after my quiet time today I decided I would go somewhere and do some worship before work, to calm my spirit, but as I was getting in my car to drive away, my ipod froze. I was so angry that my stupid ipod just froze, and I stormed back in the house. As I sat there fuming, my mom pointed out that maybe I should go pray, and that maybe God wanted to tell me something.

So I went to my room and sat on the floor and started praying, explaining to the Lord how tired and frustrated I was. Then I asked Him to quiet my mind, as my mind was going a million miles an hour, still stressed, and then finally my mind was quieted. And in the silence, I finally received the word I needed. I received the words, “Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and all else will be added unto you.” And in that moment I knew, just like every other decision, that I would not figure this out myself, but that God would show me the answer.

And so I came out of my room, encouraged, but also wondering where these words came from. So I went to my mom and told her what the Lord had showed me, and she looked it up in the concordance. It was from Matthew chapter 6. The verses around that particular verse were even more encouraging, and specific to the things I had been dealing with.

25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life[e]?

28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. (Matthew 6:25-34)



These verses encourage believers to not worry because God will take care of us. God takes care of the birds and the plants, so how much more will he take care of our every need, that we are much more valuable than the birds and the flowers. God knows exactly what we need in the time we need them in.

And as I read this and took this in throughout the day, in the hustle and bustle of guests that came through my line, I finally found peace and rest for the first time in a long time. I knew that the Lord was in control and that there was no need to worry. It changed my day, and possibly even my life. Worrying would no longer rule my days, stress would no longer steal my sleep, and frustrations would no longer rule my mind. Today I knew I was more valued than the sparrows, and that God would take care of my every need.

Have a blessed night ya’ll,
Joseph

His power and Might

Yesterday was my 11 month anniversary of surrendering my life to Christ and the Lord has been incredibly faithful. Psalm 18 really sums up how Jesus rescued me.

Psalm 18:4-19: “The ropes of death wrapped around me; the torrents of destruction terrified me. The ropes of Sheol entangled me; the snares of death confronted me. I called to the Lord in my distress, and I cried to my God for help. From His temple He heard my voice, and my cry to Him reached His ears. Then the earth shook and quaked; the foundation of the mountains trembled; they shook because He burned with anger. Smoke rose from His nostrils, and consuming fire came from His mouth; coals were set ablaze by it. He parted the heavens and came down, a dark cloud beneath His feet. He rode on a cherub and flew, soaring on the wings of the wind. He made darkness His hiding place, dark storm clouds His canopy around Him. From the radiance of His presence, His clouds swept onward with hail and blazing coals. The Lord thundered from heaven; the Most High projected His voice. He shot His arrows and scattered them; He hurled lightning bolts and routed them. The depths of the sea became visible, the foundations of the world were exposed, at Your rebuke, Lord, at the blast of the breath of Your nostrils. He reached down from heaven and took hold of me; He pulled me out of deep waters. He rescued me from my powerful enemy and from those who hated me, for they were too strong for me. They confronted me in the day of my distress, but the Lord was my support. He brought me out to a spacious place; He rescued me because He delighted in me.”

I never understood God’s power or even who really God was before January of last year. But in my deepest, darkest moment of my life, when all I wanted to do was die, God spoke to me through an atheist, and from that moment on I began to learn how powerful God really was. That the stories in the Bible were not just myths or fairy tales, but they were real God breathed, God power invoked stories. Over the past year, I’ve seen God take me from being on 3 different medications to being on none. I’ve seen Him restore my broken relationship with my family and them welcome me back in after fighting and rebelling against them and God for the last three years. I saw God, 5 minutes after I surrendered my life to Him on January 6th, call me into his ministry and tell me that His plan for me was to become a college pastor. I’ve seen my knees and back, that ached for 7 years, healed in a matter of seconds. I’ve seen friendships healed, people healed, and supernatural stuff happen all year. I’ve seen the Lord take me from depressed, confused, no confidence, to hope and purpose, joy and healing, His power and His might. And now my verse and praise to God for the last 11 months is:

“I love You, Lord, my strength. The Lord is my rock, my fortress, and my deliverer, my God, my mountain where I seek refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. I called to the Lord, who is worthy of praise, and I was saved from my enemies.” (Psalm 18:1-3)

Don’t forget the Lord’s power today. He is ready to help you in your distress. Cry out to Him today and wait for the Mighty Hand of God to come breaking through the heavens, and snatch you from the hand of your oppressors.

Have a blessed day ya’ll,
Joseph

Waiting, Trusting, Receiving

Tapping my fingers against my head, I nervously clicked through the internet, making it to my school’s website. I went to my class list and clicked on Prob and Stats, and on the grades. Loading, loading, loading. Empty was the final exam grade slot. Just a week after busting up my hand over a mistaken math grade, I waited nervously at my computer for my final exam grade. Hour after hour I’d rush to my computer, to find the grade slot still empty. The more nervous I got, the more anxious I became.

I can’t stand waiting, especially for a grade that I really needed. Coming into the final I needed at least a 75 to make a B in the class. I had made around that grade all semester, but this was the final exam, and this was a whole different ball game. My hand shook as I took my test, even though I had put in countless hours of studying the weekend before. That morning as I woke up I released my tests into the Lord’s hands, and trusted Him completely that whatever happened was part of His plan, that no matter what He was holding my hand and bringing me through these tests.

Tonight as I was at St. Andrews for Wednesday night worship, again I released my test grade into His hands, and worshiped Him for His sovereignty. I prayed for God’s presence to just burn inside of me for all to see, that everyone that I came into contact with would see His power in my life. That they would see His love in my life. As I arrived home, I went to the computer once again, and yet again still empty. I was starting to get agitated but I remembered how God has carried me the last year, through trial and adversity He had carried me. So I trusted and I waited still.

After working on a presentation for English, I went one more time to the computer, to the class website. Loading, loading, loading. My heart pounded faster and faster, finally relief. It was there, it was what I needed, better. I had made an 82 on my final math test! I cried out in disbelief. “I made a 82, I got my B!” I shouted over and over, jumping high in the air. All my waiting, and trusting, finally resulted in receiving. I had made the grade I needed, and it was only my second B ever in Math, the other being a B in my high school prob and stats class.

Earlier in the semester I wanted to give up. I was down, I was tired, I was wounded, but God never saw me as out. And for the last month I’ve leaned on the verse, woke up everyday to the verse, James 1:2. “Consider it a great joy, my brothers, whenever you experience various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.” And wow have I produced endurance. I woke up every Tuesday and Thursday at 6 am and then had school to 2:40 pm. Monday, Wednesday, Friday, I got up at 8 am and usually did work til 4. I had to give up a lot of fun things and a lot of good things to persevere through school. But God brought me through and the impossible has become possible.

Praise the Father, for He is in control of my life. He knows everything about me and He brings me encouragement throughout everyday. I doubted Him, but He never doubted Himself. He knew where He was taking me even if I didn’t. He knew that the tests I faced this semester would bring strength and trust even more to my relationship with Him. I sat with my hands on my head halfway through the semester with a failing grade in Biology, even though I had attended every class, and taken in everything. I didn’t understand, I was confused, I was angry. My dad though spoke wisdom into my life through that time though. “God will use this in years down the road when you’re in a job that you don’t think you can do, and you will look back to this year and remember God’s sovereignty,” He said. And he was right on the mark. God was growing me this semester not only through trials and adversity, but through the constant reading and holding on to Him with all I had.

The test couldn’t have come at a better time, on the eve of my 11 month anniversary of surrendering my life to Christ. I am reminded constantly of His sovereignty and love, that he has brought me through and continues to carry me through my doubts and failures. And as I go into a more important time of waiting as I begin to visit schools and apply to schools for next year, to go for to get my ministry degree, I ask for wisdom from God. And I know He will continue to bring me through life, as I continue waiting, trusting, and receiving.

Have a blessed night,
Joseph

More than a friend, Closer than a Brother

The Lord has blessed me with many friends, but only a few can I call brothers. These men have walked with me through hard times in my life, depression, struggles, and life. They have walked by my side, through every thing I’ve gone through.

Last year though a man of God reached out to me from the depths and struggles he faced in his own life and showed me the love of Christ in physical, human form. He reached out to me when no one else could or would, or knew how to. But this man of God loved me as Christ loved me, and we began to talk. We’d do lunch a lot and even began to have conversations after bible study. And he prayed for me, boy did he pray for me. He’d take my calls at 2:00 in the morning when I was angry, and depressed, and defeated, and he would point me to God every time. He has sent me countless encouraging emails, given me endless words of encouragement.

Last January through the love of God and the love of this man of God, I came into a personal relationship with Christ and our relationship took on a whole different meaning. Now we would talk for countless hours about what God was teaching me through His word, what God was doing in each others lives. It was great times of encouragement. Every time we got together I was growing, and God was growing both of us in perfect community with each other and the holy spirit. I know the Lord God brought this man into my life. In February, I got up the courage and felt it was time to tell my new friend and brother, my real testimony that only a few people knew before. I had put it off for such a long time, because I didn’t want to lose my relationship with my brother and for our relationship to become awkward because of the information I was about to share. But I went through with it, choking back tears as I completely emptied myself to this man. Afterwards I expected condemnation and rejection, but the opposite happened, as the love of the father came pouring forth from his spirit. I remember saying, “Now you know how far I’ve come,” and we worshiped right there, in the front seat of my car, praising the Lord, for how far He had brought each one of us.

That night we became closer than brothers, and that night I knew I had someone who could keep me completely accountable. He prayed for me as I shook uncontrollably on the beach and prayed for calming of my spirit before telling my real testimony to my Year Team family. Besides God, he knows me better than anyone, and he knows the old me and the new me. He knew Joe and he now knows Joseph. I am so blessed to have such a great brother in my life. He went with me to Nicaragua this summer and we both were witnesses to God’s promises in our lives. He is amazingly humble and God blessed Him immensely. I know that God has such a huge purpose in his life, but I know God has placed him in my life, and I know that if God’s only purpose was for him to be a blessing in my life, then God will say to him one day, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” And I’m blessed to have Him in my life.

Love you brother,
I’m glad Christ brought you into my life.