Some times some of the greatest lessons I have learned come from old things, past things. Things that I wrote down years ago, give me insight into a new lesson that the Lord wants to teach me.
Today I ran across some old things that I wrote and wow was it encouraging. Some of the things I wrote back then, I understand a lot better now.
Warning: these are a few blogs rolled into one, so it may take a lot longer to read.
Hearing the Voice of God-written-September 2012
Recently I have been hearing from the Lord a lot. Everyday I’ve been experiencing His voice and it’s been amazing. Whether it had been a bad night or an awesome night, in the morning the Lord has been speaking to me through his word, through books, through nature. I’ve just been hearing from the Lord more clearly. But two weeks ago on September 3rd, the Lord spoke in a way I didn’t expect Him to speak. I had gone to bed early because I was very tired but as soon as I hit the bed and closed my eyes, my dreams were flooded with past memories of Charleston Southern. I tried to shake myself from this horrible dream, but I couldn’t. Then the past memories faded away, and then new pictures of me being back at Charleston Southern were placed into my head. Being back with old friends whose relationships I had broken in my depression and running away from God. In the dream I was smiling around these people and I felt no condemnation like I had before. I awoke from this dream and felt the Lord really speaking to me. So like I did the night before Nicaragua I opened up this book called Sun Stand Still. This book is about seeing God do impossible things. I hadn’t read this book in two months. So I opened up the book to where I had left off, page 133. The title on that page was called “the beginning of a miracle.” The first line really hit me. “Maybe you have spent the last several months-or even years-face down on the ground, feeling defeated by foolish mistakes. If so, I have a feeling God would say the thing to you that He said to Joshua: “What are you doing on your face? Stand up! Repent! And move on to your next victory.” I believe that night God showed me my next victory. He told me that in one year I would be back at Charleston Southern. The place that I had suffered many defeats my freshman year, God told me I’d be back next August. That He had more restoration to do there and that I didn’t need to apply to any other college in the spring because next year I’d be back at CSU. That even if I didn’t have my 3.0 at the end of the year that I’d still make it there. And that night I started understanding why a lot of the things that had happened for the last three years happened. All the reading recently about perseverance and endurance and restoring my friendship with my ex girlfriend at Charleston Southern, and running into another friend from Charleston Southern down at City Church, and reuniting with one of my old college professors from Charleston Southern all made sense. I could see all the signs pointing towards going back but I didn’t want to, because I didn’t want to get hurt again, or people to judge me for my past actions there. But on September 3rd, God spoke and changed all my fears about going back. God has been preparing me for the past 8 months and is continuing to prepare me to go back and face the evil memories of my past. To go back to a place where I thought defeat would always be defeat. But God is turning my mistakes into a miracle; a miracle of God’s grace and mercy and redemption. I’m going back to give people hope and purpose in Jesus Christ. My God is taking me back to Charleston Southern and next August as I walk onto the campus, tears filling my eyes, I can look at any person there and say, “Now tell me my God isn’t bigger than any problem, any hurt, any brokenness.” He is and He has even greater things yet to come.
I guess some of you are wondering why I put this out when it hasn’t happened yet. Well in my mind it already has. I believe God is so powerful that even the impossible things in life are possible. I mean that is my whole testimony. And I ran across some things in my reading the other day that I’d like to share with you that is God continuing to show me the way.
“I will go before you and level the uneven places; I will shatter the bronze doors and cut the iron bars in two. I will give you the treasures of darkness and riches from secret places, so that you may know that I, “Yahweh, the God of Israel call you by your name.” (Isaiah 45:2-3)
“And to the cities of Judah, They will be rebuilt, and I will restore her ruins.”(Isaiah 44:26)
“Let me not recognize my physical limitations as a potential handicap, but increase my faith so that I may simply assume that when a work is to be done, strength will be provided by Thee, that I may no longer pamper the flesh, making provision for its weakness.” (Progress of another Pilgrim)
“I have raised him up in righteousness, and will level all roads for him; he will rebuild My city, and set My exiles free, not for a price or bribe,” says the Lord of Hosts.” (Isaiah 45:13)
I wrote six months ago this and a lot has changed since then. I realized that the visions of Charleston Southern were so that I would have peace even in the midst of fear; to press onward even though it didn’t make sense. That faith though is what I gained from those visions, the faith of a mustard seed, that even when things look impossible, God is in control. A couple months after I shared this post on my old blog, I realized that I was not supposed to go back to CSU. All those verses still apply though. I am continued to be restored and the walls are continuing to be put back up, stronger and sturdier ones. I will be really close to my 3.0 by the end of this year. This second semester, even though it’s been harder, I’ve had peace from the get go. You know sometimes you don’t know why are in a place when you’d rather be somewhere else. You can see the promise right in front of you and you’re ready to go, but God says, “Not yet.” Well today looking back I’m understanding its more about the process than actually getting to where you are going.
I came into church today half sick and coming off a pretty hard, taxing week. I had worked late the last two nights and my body was very tired. We sang a few songs and then there was a message. The message today was on Psalm 126:1-6 about how God had restored the Israelites. Psalm 126:1-2 really stuck out to me. “When the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion, we were like those who dream. Our mouths were filled with laughter then, and our tongues with shouts of joy.”I read this verse again and again in disbelief because this is what the last 8 months has been like. It’s been like a dream, a great dream that I thought I would one day wake up from. My mouth has been filled with joy and laughter that has been almost controllable. Todd talked about some things that people get restoration from: addictions, broken relationships and spiritual dry ness. I’ve been healed from all three of those, and more. As Todd finished up, he asked those who were dealing with any of those areas to stand up, and get God’s restoration. It was so cool for me to experience a church wide restoration. To see people standing up left and right, and calling out to God for restoration in their hurts and in their failures and believing God had restoration in their future and in that moment. And then probably the coolest thing for me was getting up and praying for others; to get to be apart of God’s restoration in a new way. This time it was not me getting the restoration, it was me along for the ride as I saw others restored. People were given new lives I sensed from the Lord. As church was ending a thought popped in my head: “God’s restoration is perfect, and it’s for everyone.” As I left church I was filled with joy over the redeeming presence of the Lord. How true it was that God wanted to redeem every person’s life. That He loves us all so much. And the awesome thing about restoration is that after we are restored, He doesn’t leave us all by our lonesome. No, for the rest of our life, after Jesus has restored our life, He walks through life with us. I read Isaiah 42:6-7. “I, Yahweh, have called You for a righteous purpose, and I will hold You by Your hand. I will keep You and appoint You to be a covenant for the people and a light to those nations, in order to open blind eyes, to bring out prisoners from the dungeon, and those sitting in the darkness from the prison house.” These verses are actually talking about Jesus. But parts of these verses I believe are about us. He has called each one of us for a righteous purpose, and the most important part is that he holds us by our hand. That just like a father leading a child through a busy mall or store or street, God is leading us by the hand, securely through the roads of life. He has got our tiny fingers in His huge hands, not crushing them but leading us gently through our life. Isaiah 42:1-4 says, “Here is my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen one in whom I delight; I will put my Spirit on him and he will bring justice to the nations. He will not shout or cry out, or raise his voice in the streets. A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out. In faithfulness he will bring forth justice; he will not falter or be discouraged til he establishes justice on earth. In his law the islands will put their hope.” In my mom’s study bible there is a commentary written about the verse that says, “When you feel broken and bruised or burned out in your spiritual life, God won’t step on you or toss you aside as useless, but will gently pick you up. And we can count on that promise. God will always be with us until the end of time, leading us by the hand as we make our way to Heaven, in our perfectly restored bodies.
Deeper than deep-November 2012
Today I woke up and my reading for the day was Mark Chapter 15, the chapter in which Jesus was crucified. But the last part of this chapter really got to me.
16 Then the soldiers led Him away into the courtyard (that is, headquarters) and called the whole company together. 17 They dressed Him in a purple robe, twisted together a crown of thorns, and put it on Him. 18 And they began to salute Him, “Hail, King of the Jews!” 19 They kept hitting Him on the head with a reed and spitting on Him. Getting down on their knees, they were paying Him homage. 20 When they had mocked Him, they stripped Him of the purple robe, put His clothes on Him, and led Him out to crucify Him. 21 They forced a man coming in from the country, who was passing by, to carry Jesus’ cross. He was Simon, a Cyrenian, the father of Alexander and Rufus. 22 And they brought Jesus to the place called Golgotha (which means Skull Place). 23 They tried to give Him wine mixed with myrrh, but He did not take it. 24 Then they crucified Him and divided His clothes, casting lots for them to decide what each would get. 25 Now it was nine in the morning[c] when they crucified Him. 26 The inscription of the charge written against Him was:
THE KING OF THE JEWS.
27 They crucified two criminals[d] with Him, one on His right and one on His left. [28 So the Scripture was fulfilled that says: And He was counted among outlaws.][e][f] 29 Those who passed by were yelling insults at[g] Him, shaking their heads, and saying, “Ha! The One who would demolish the sanctuary and build it in three days, 30 save Yourself by coming down from the cross!” 31 In the same way, the chief priests with the scribes were mocking Him to one another and saying, “He saved others; He cannot save Himself! 32 Let the Messiah, the King of Israel, come down now from the cross, so that we may see and believe.” Even those who were crucified with Him were taunting Him. 33 When it was noon,[h] darkness came over the whole land[i] until three in the afternoon.[j] 34 And at three[k] Jesus cried out with a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lemá[l] sabachtháni?” which is translated, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?”[m] 35 When some of those standing there heard this, they said, “Look, He’s calling for Elijah!” 36 Someone ran and filled a sponge with sour wine, fixed it on a reed, offered Him a drink, and said, “Let’s see if Elijah comes to take Him down!”37 But Jesus let out a loud cry and breathed His last. 38 Then the curtain of the sanctuary[n] was split in two from top to bottom. 39 When the centurion, who was standing opposite Him, saw the way He[o] breathed His last, he said, “This man really was God’s Son!”[p] (Mark 15:16-37, Holman Christian Standard Bible, Biblegateway.com).
Today as I was reading this the Holy Spirit gave me insight into a little bit of Jesus’s pain and suffering he felt that day. And as the Holy Spirit does often he gives me His emotions. In my mind I was there with Jesus watching from a distance as I saw them dress Him in a purple robe and hit him and spit on Him, and shout insults at Him. I watched as they nailed the nails into His hands and put the sign above Him that said, “King of the Jews.” He was mocked by soldiers; He was mocked by the chief priests. He could have stopped it, but He didn’t. He could have sent down angels or said the words and everyone there could have dropped dead in front of Him. But He didn’t. He stayed up there; He took every insult and every crushing blow, so that His death and suffering could cover our sins. God even turned His back on His son because He could not even look at Him, with all of our sin covering Him. Jesus knows what total rejection is. He received it from His Father while He was on the cross dying for you and for me. He knows what its like not to fit in; the Pharisees hated Him and called Him and blasphemer. Then those same people mocked Him as He was on the cross, saying why can’t he save Himself, He saved others. Jesus knew how important this was though, that day He would set us free from our sins and satan’s grip forever. We would no longer be slaves, but friends and servants of Christ. And at the moment Jesus died, the curtains were split in two, making it possible for all to enter the Holy of Holies and have a personal relationship with God that day because of Jesus’s sacrifice. Today I was given just a glimpse of how deep the Father’s love is. It goes farther than pain or hurt. It is deeper than the deepest oceans, wider than the widest skies, greater than a parent’s love for their child. Remember today how much He has done for us. It is the greatest gift that we have ever received. We don’t deserve it; we did nothing to earn it. He just gave it to us because of His love. His love that is everlasting and infinite. You can know that love today. You can experience His forgiveness of your sins. You can be made right with God and He can be Lord of your life if you only ask Him too. There is nothing you can do to earn His love; we can never do enough good works to be right with God. God calls our good works “filthy rags” to Him. The only thing that can save us is Jesus Christ and you can have that personal relationship with Him today and He can set you free from anything you are dealing with. Ask Him to forgive you of your sins and that you want to have a personal relationship with Him. He will show you the power of prayer and the power of His word. He will pull you from the deepest sins and set you on top of His Mountain and then you also will proclaim His good news because you will know what He has done for you. I will leave you just with this one song that sums up how much Jesus really did for you on the cross.
How deep the Father’s love for us,
How vast beyond all measure
That He should give His only Son
To make a wretch His treasure
How great the pain of searing loss,
The Father turns His face away
As wounds which mar the chosen One,
Bring many sons to glory
Behold the Man upon a cross,
My sin upon His shoulders
Ashamed I hear my mocking voice,
Call out among the scoffers
It was my sin that left Him there
Until it was accomplished
His dying breath has brought me life
I know that it is finished
I will not boast in anything
No gifts, no power, no wisdom
But I will boast in Jesus Christ
His death and resurrection
Why should I gain from His reward?
I cannot give an answer
But this I know with all my heart
His wounds have paid my ransom
Lyrics by Stuart Townsend