Can you believe that your whole life is in control by God? For those who are children of God who are called by God and chosen for a time as this. Do you believe God can let you go through the trials of life, and the heart ache of this world? Do you believe that God has accounted for and knows you are going to miss the mark and fall and just right mess up? Or are you like most of us who think that God is surprised that you missed it. That you just weren’t quite strong enough and gave in to the temptation. Do you think God can still rejoice over you with singing and dancing? Or do you think when you mess up that God frowns and is sad. Do you think he is surprised that you messed up?
What is the Heart of God? God’s heart is first and foremost love! (John 3:16) For God so loved the world that he gave His one and only son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. (Romans 5:8) But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. He did this at just the right time. See, God has a plan. You might be sitting there saying, “He might have had a plan but it didn’t include me.” I am here to tell you it did. You see everything depends on God’s grace and mercy. From the beginning, God had the plan laid out. It might shock some of you but God knew about the fall before it happened. You see God knew your name before you were conceived in your mother’s womb. Get this he knew your name. Wow, he knew what my parents were going to name me. Yes, but my parents weren’t even saved then or I was born out of wedlock. That is okay. God knows all things. That is why He is God. He knows your thoughts. He knows what you think about at night. He knows what you do in secret. He knows what you are about to do. Do you know he even tries to warn you before you do bad things or things that will hurt you or others? He tries to warn us all the time. Do you have an ear to hear? Or better yet, He tries to stop you from doing things out of His will (Gods will). And, yes, there is opposition that we are fighting against. The opposition includes our own desires, others desires, Satan, evil principalities and the world. You say, “Wow, that is a battle.” Yes, it is a constant battle. I will tell you with each stage in life the battles get easier to overcome. It also becomes easier to see the battles coming. We will be persecuted, and we will go through trials and tribulations. But as you study Paul's life you will see how he flowed right through them. Do you know why? Paul had an intimate relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ, our savior. You say, “What does that mean?” It means that Paul didn’t care what happened to him or anything about what was going on around him. Above all else, Paul was sold out to Jesus. Paul knew that what Jesus did on the Cross was enough. Jesus paid the ultimate price. He gave His life for Paul’s sin in his life. (Our sin, too) Paul says that he counts it as joy that Christ deems him worthy to suffer for the gospel’s sake. Paul said, “My chains advance the Kingdom.” Imagine, Paul even thought the shackles he had on were advancing the kingdom. So what things in your life are advancing the kingdom? Remember God can turn all things into good for those who love the Lord. He can turn the things you have done in the past before you came to the knowledge of Christ into good. You say, “How?” Let me tell you my story. I grew up in the country. I grew up on a farm raising cattle and livestock. My dad was an alcoholic. He drank all the time, so I did most of the work around the farm. I would get up before school and do the feeding. After school, I would do the same. Often, my dad would reward me with a can of beer for all of my hard work. When I was about three years old, my dad shot my mom through both arms. I still vaguely remember him telling me to stay with my mom while he went to get help. I remember crying and my mom tried to walk me to my grandma’s house because we were in the woods cutting fire wood. They came over the hill to help us. They say it was an accident. My dad was very abusive when he was drunk until my sister and I were old enough to take up for my mom. We used to beat up my dad when he got drunk. He did get some broken bones from our little scraps. There was a time when he was sober for about three to four years. Those were the best years. My dad would do anything for any one. But he fell and started drinking again. When my dad drank he stayed drunk all day long -- he lived off beer. So whenever he tried to stop he would have seizures and black out. The last time he stopped drinking and went to work, he had a seizure on the way home late one night and he hit a tree and was killed. I knew when the phone rang early that morning that dad had been in a car wreck. I told my sister that before my mom got off the phone. My sister was a senior in high school. She was five years older than me. When she graduated she moved out. Within about a year and a half, when I was thirteen years old, my mom moved out too. We sat down and talked about it. She had met a man and he wanted us to move in with him and she wanted to move in, but she wasn’t going to force me. I was thirteen and partying then. I was hard core partying – mainly alcohol. There were always people staying with me. The party was always at my house. I remember I would come home and I hated my life. I hated myself. I used to cut my arms and burn myself. I would torture myself. I liked to inflict pain on myself because I had no one else to do it for me. My idol at the time was Mel Gibson. I liked the part in Lethal Weapon where he was acting crazy and suicidal. I believe even when you drink and drive that is a form of suicide attempt. You don’t care about your life or other lives. I always thought suicide was a chicken’s way out. I did it though. I would get downright drunk and drive home. It is amazing that I made it home. Sometimes I didn’t know how I made it. I would wake up in the driveway with the truck still running. One time I woke up in the passenger seat. I would run off the road and wake up driving through the fields or even run over the banks of the road and there would only be one set of tracks. I look back now and see the hand of God was on me then. God has a purpose for me in this life and I am going to full fill it. These were some of the things he brought me out of. A couple of years after graduating from high school, I joined the Marines. I was in the Marines from December 1994 to December 1999. I was even worse during that time. While I was in the Marines I met my loving wife, Rebecca. We got married in May 1998. I changed a little then -- if you know what I mean. I settled down. I got out of the Marines in December 1999. We had been looking for a church but I couldn’t find one that I liked. I was not going to go to a church that was of the world. I would walk into a church and see people and they were just like me in some aspects. But in March 2000, I walked into a church in North Charleston, South Carolina. I said to myself, these people have what I want. I even believe the Lord removed the veil from my eyes. It was all alive to me – everything, the word of God, life itself. It was like a raging furnace came on inside of me. I finally found what I was created for: TO SERVE THE LORD WITH MY WHOLE HEART AND SPIRIT AND SOUL AND BODY. There is nothing else to live for other than God -- the three-in-one God -- the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Each time I read the word of God, it becomes more personal to me. The lives of everyone in the Bible feel like they are becoming a part of me. I feel like I am eating the words. I finally have a passion. It is great when you find out what you have been created for -- to have an intimate relationship with the Creator first and foremost. You shall have no other god above me says the Lord.
I believe that my whole life was planned out by God. He didn’t miss a point. I believe he knew where I was all along the way. Now I can use everything I have been through to help others and to minister with compassion -- just a Paul did. Our stories and walks are all different to a point. But if you let the spirit of God guide you and speak to you through others and your own life He can turn it all into good. I am not saying it is okay to do ungodly things but I am saying that God wants us to touch others. I would not do any of the things I did in my days before Christ now, but I was in the world just as all of you are and were in the world. If you press into the Lord, He will press into you. If you seek Him you shall find him. Most people know that when we come to the kingdom of God and accept the free gift of salvation (Jesus) all heaven rejoices and that is true. But after we are saved for a time we believe the things we do changes God's opinion of us. It doesn’t. He still rejoices over us with singing and dancing. He longs to have fellowship with you. He knows when you don’t spend time with Him you are vulnerable to the adversary (self, world, Satan, opposing forces). The more time you spend with Him and others who are in Christ your faith will be built up. When we are together we encourage each other’s faith and build each other up in the most holy faith. God knows where you are in your walk with him. He wants to take you to the next level but each level requires you to give up more of this life (the life of the world) for His life (the life of the Spirit). Most people don’t realize the greatness of the life of the spirit: joy, peace, longsuffering, patience, kindness, honesty, mercy, fulfillment; knowing the one and true God, full of mercy and kindness, the giver of life and life more abundantly. He is the giver of all things. Receive from the Lord all He has for you. The Lord has before you blessing and curses. When you walk in the Spirit of the Lord you will be blessed. When you walk in the spirit of the world your inheritance is curses because your motives are wrong. To know God is to be intimate with him. We are the Bride of Christ. Rebecca will be doing a study on the Bride of Christ! Coming soon.