His Relentless, Unfailing Love

26 02 2014

Lord Help Me Make it ThroughYears have passed since I first found Christ, or rather since Christ found me.

Yes, Christ found me and I rebelled at first, then finally bowed my knee.  I claimed Him as my Savior and Lord, my God and my Master.  No other God would I serve.

But since that day, long ago, my feet have trodden many a time in places forbidden and dark.  I, so often, have been drawn away to other masters, other gods who gave enticing yet deceptive treats that when grasped would crumble into dust; or when eaten turned bitter and full of bile when swallowed.

So, I have paid the price of tasting forbidden fruit.  I have suffered the pain of grabbing thorns.  I have known the shackles of fierce demons unrelenting in their torture.  In fear and darkness, anxiety and unforgiveness, I walked through the valleys of the shadow of death.

​In the depths of despair, I heard footsteps pursuing me.  Afraid of the Presence of God, I hid but being so exhausted and tired, I surrendered to His One pursuit.  I collapsed in His arms, not caring if He would slay me, for death itself would be better than living in the squalor and mire I was now in.

​I cried out, “Lord, save me, deliver me, have mercy.”  Then a light began to burn and the Presence of Whom I had surrendered to was the One I had always longed for.  The Lord Jesus was the One who had been pursuing me relentlessly and never ending.  He enveloped me in His arms.  His love washing over me like wave after wave, cleansing, healing, forgiving.

God — I thought He was a fierce Master and a Lord that I could never appease.  He was truly fierce and worthy of respect — for He was all powerful, so holy.  Now, for the first time, I was given fresh revelation.  Just as fierce was His righteousness, His love was equally fierce.  I now surrendered to the lover of my soul.

​I remember when I was young in Christ, visions and dreams enveloped my nights.  By day, I was filled with an insatiable desire, an unquenchable thirst and hunger for God.  I had a gnawing ache deep within that I was called to a purpose — a great and mighty plan.  I’ve caught glimpses of His plans.  I am still not sure what it all means.   I am not sure about the why’s, what’s, or the when’s.  His ways are always higher than mine.  His ways are past finding out.  ​God has given many gifts, skills and talents all I need is a desire to try and do my best for Him and surrender those gifts to Hitoshi use or not to use.  I am so very thankful and so very blessed.  It seems the Lover of my soul continues to shower me with His incredible treasures.

​I am learning submission and obedience within God’s will.  I can trust God to work all for good.  I am learning more and more the balance between grace and obedience.  I am learning evermore the depths and the heights of His great love, mercy, forgiveness and grace.

I am also learning that with the joy there is also the fellowship of His suffering.  That love often bears a cross and a crown of thorns.  But love never loses focus of the goal and will always prevail and endure.

​I believe in trusting God with my future and leaving it in His hands.  For I have learned that just when I think I know — that is when I am most ignorant.  It is better to be like Mary, the mother of Jesus, and ponder the things in my heart than it is to speak too hastily.

​I cannot help but wonder at the past events of my life.  How does it all fit together in God’s plan?  I do not know.  I do know that He has called me away many times and says to me, “Come away my beloved.  Come and learn of me.  Spend time alone in my presence.  Let Me love you.  Let Me fill you with Myself.”

​When a person is a child and his friends reject him the adult world says, “go and make new friends” or “that’s okay, you’ll find other friends.”  Someone hurts her or calls her a name and the adult world says, “sticks and stones may break your bones, but names will never hurt you.”

As a child becomes a teen and “falls in love”  they call it “puppy love”  but when the first break-up occurs the adult world says, “you’ll get over it”  or “there are other fish in the sea.”

When friends hurt and we don’t fit in, others say, “they probably weren’t your real friends anyway” or “you’re better off without them.”

Finally, there comes a time when we are the adults.  Mom and Dad are no longer there to run to and we have no answers.  They are not there to hold us or wipe the tears from our eyes.  We get hurt, cry on our pillow, then try and remember all those sayings we were told as a child.  Yet, it doesn’t take the pain away anymore.

But, did it really ever help before?

Maybe, it merely would hide it for awhile… until the next time.

What do they really tell us?

  • Cover it up…
  • Forget it…
  • Bury it…
  • It’s all over…
  • You’ll get over it…

What good were all those sayings?

​Many times my walls have gone up… walls of bitterness, mistrust, unforgiveness and hurt.  I have made silent vows of: not letting anyone get too close; not letting myself become vulnerable; not letting anyone see me as I really am; not willing to love wholeheartedly.

​But God’s relentless, pursuing love starts calling, wooing, and melting those walls.  His love begins to permeate once again my heart, my life.  I begin reaching out, touching others, loving again.

​His love — it’s beautiful; it’s wonderful; it’s a sweet aroma, an enriching fragrance.  I am lifted, refreshed, strengthened and renewed!  My hope is built.  My faith is encouraged.  My trust is renewed.  My heart is softened.  I learn to love again.

​Then it happens, my heart is tested by those very same areas that hurt, those same words, those same actions, the same pain, the same wound — reopened all over again.  The only thing that may be different is the people have different names or faces.  I tend to slip into disillusionment, despair, disappointment.  Feeling rejected, lost, hurt, hopeless and lonely.  The loneliness is the part we all hate.  The loneliness we can feel even when we’re in a crowd.

May those lonely times drive me to the Lord Jesus Christ, the only one who can satisfy a lonely heart, fulfill my deepest longings, heal the wounds of pain.

As I stop seeking and pursuing after worldly pleasures and turn my efforts and affections toward the love of God will I find fulfillment.

As I let go of all memories, all the people, all the hurts, all the longings, will I find my heart satisfied.

In losing my life, I find it.  In giving, I receive.  In dying, only then shall I live.  Sticks and stones may kill the body, but they cannot kill the soul.

There is a friend that sticks closer than a brother.  There is a friend that will never leave nor depart.  There is a friend whose love will never change.

So, I have sought Him often alone — but not often enough.  I know He desires me more than I Him, but that will probably always be that way.  I feel as though I have been in a desert and yet I have not been forsaken.  There is hidden beauty in the desert.  I believe I have passed from a romantic feeling of love into a deep and abiding lasting love that goes far beyond feelings and into a deep sense of knowing.

​I am at peace and am content with God.  I feel comfortable with my relationship and settled.  Yet, at the same time, paradoxically, I am restless, hungry, thirsty.  I am satisfied but ever yearning for more of Him.  I am in pursuit of God, yet at rest.

​Yes, I have made up my mind.  I will continue on this path, wherever the Lord may lead.  I will stick with my God, my Lord, the one I love and am learning to love over and over again in fresh and new ways.  I plan on hanging in through all the trials.  I will not run from fear.  I will face whatever the future may bring and take the risk of bearing a cross.

​I may stumble, but I will go on.  Ultimately, my deepest longings will be fulfilled and I will accomplish His purpose to which I’ve been called.  Only by walking through the desert can I expect to enter that promised land.  Like Jacob I will hold on until I receive the blessing.  Even if, in holding on, it may appear to my natural eyes that I am crippled some way, in the end, every good thing has a price.

​If I fail to hear God’s voice and find myself lost along the way, even in my wanderings I will be okay.  I know that my Lord Jesus, is the Good Shepherd and will pursue and seek me.  I can trust in God, alone, who can redeem anything that is lost including wayward dreams.  He can make mistakes turn for good.  He can make the foolish become wise — the strong become weak and the weak become strong.  He can redeem the years that the locusts have eaten.  He can bring beauty out of ashes and turn mourning into joy.  He holds all things in His hands.  He is sovereign and will accomplish His purpose and work in my life what He desires.  So, I can face the future with assurance and hope.  I am bathed and washed in His goodness and love.

​Praise His name forevermore.  He will keep me as the apple of His eye and hide me in the shelter of His wings.  He is my God and I will be His servant forever!  Not by my might, nor by my power, but by the grace of His Spirit!

Come to the one who is the lover of your soul.  Come to the one who loves with a never ending, ever enduring, everlasting love.  There is a Savior who will be with us in the deepest seas of despair, the darkest night of loneliness, the great chasm of pain.  Jesus has felt the pain.  He has known the agony.  He has experienced the sorrow

​In Him and through Him we can reach out.  By Him and because of Him we can love again.  Because nothing will ever be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord except our own selves. We know that His perfect love will cast out all fear.  Then the world will know we are His disciples by our love!

​”Lord of love, fill us with more of You!”

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The True Saint Nicholas and Ancient Christian History

19 12 2009

The True Story of Saint Nicholas…

Our Father among the Saints Nicholas the Wonderworker Archbishop of Myra in Lycia

Commemorated December 6/19

Saint Nicholas, Archbishop of Myra in Lycia, and Wonderworker is famed as a great saint pleasing unto God. He was born in the city of Patara in the Lycian region (on the south coast of the Asia Minor peninsula), and was the only son of pious parents Theophanes and Nonna, who had given a vow to dedicate him to God. As the fruition of longtime prayer of his childless parents, the infant Nicholas from the very day of his birth revealed to people the light of his future glory as a wonderworker. His mother, Nonna, after giving birth was immediately healed from illness. The newborn infant while still in the baptismal font stood on his feet three times, without support from anyone, indicating by this to honour the MostHoly Trinity. Saint Nicholas from his infancy began a life of fasting, and on Wednesdays and Fridays he accepted milk from his mother only but once, after the evening prayers of his parents.

From the time of his childhood Nicholas thrived on the study of Divine Scripture; by day he would not leave church, and by night he prayed and read books — fashioning in himself a worthy dwelling-place of the Holy Spirit. His uncle, Bishop Nicholas of Patara, rejoiced at the spiritual success and deep piety of his kinsman. He ordained him a reader, and then elevated Nicholas to the dignity of presbyter, making him his assistant and entrusting him to speak instructing the flock. In serving the Lord the youth was fervent of spirit, and in his proficiency with questions of faith he was like an elder / starets, which aroused the wonder and deep respect of believers. Constantly at work and vivacious, being in unceasing prayer, presbyter Nicholas displayed great kind-heartedness towards the flock, and towards those afflicted coming to him for help, and he distributed all his inheritance to the poor. Having learned about the bitter need and poverty of a certain formerly rich inhabitant of his city, Saint Nicholas saved him from great sin. Having three grown daughters, the despairing father considered to give them over to profligacy so as to save them from hunger. The saint, grieving lest the man perish a sinner, by night secretly brought him through the window three sacks with gold and by this saved the family from falling into spiritual destruction. In bestowing charity, Saint Nicholas always strove to do this secretly and conceal his good deeds.

In setting off on pilgrimage to the holy places at Jerusalem, the bishop of Patara entrusted the guidance of the flock to Saint Nicholas, who fulfilled this obedience carefully and with love. When the bishop returned, he in turn asked blessing for a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. Along the way the saint predicted the onset of a storm threatening the ship with inundation, since he saw the devil itself having got on ship. At the entreaty of the despairing pilgrims, he calmed by his prayers the waves of the sea. Through his prayer also was restored to health a certain sailor of the ship, who had fallen from the mast and was mortally injured.

Having reached the ancient city of Jerusalem and having come to Golgotha, Saint Nicholas offered up thanksgiving to the Saviour of the race of mankind and he made the rounds of all the holy places, doing poklons and making prayers. By night on Mount Sion the closed doors of the church opened by themselves in front of the arriving great pilgrim. Going round the holy places connected with the earthly service of the Son of God, Saint Nicholas decided to withdraw into the wilderness, but he was stopped by a Divine voice, urging him to return to his native country. Having returned to Lycia and yearning for a life of quietude, the saint entered into the brotherhood of a monastery, named Holy Sion. But the Lord again announced another pathway, awaiting him: “Nicholas, this is not the field, on which thou ought to await Mine harvest, but rather turn round and go into the world, and there My Name shalt be glorified in thee”. In the vision the Lord gave him a Gospel of exquisite workmanship, and the MostHoly Mother of God — an omophor.

And actually, upon the death of archbishop John, he was chosen bishop of Lycian Myra — after one of the bishops of the Council gave a decisive reply on the question of choice of a new archbishop — the choice of God as directed him in a vision — Saint Nicholas. Summoned to the flock of the Church in the dignity of archbishop, Sainted Nicholas remained a great ascetic, appearing to his flock as an image of gentleness, kindness and love towards people. This was particularly precious for the Lycian Church during the time of persecution of Christians under the emperor Diocletian (284-305). Bishop Nicholas, locked up in prison together with other Christians, sustained them and exhorted them to bravely endure the fetters, punishment and torture. He himself the lord preserved unharmed. Upon the accession to rule of the holy equal-to-the-apostles Constantine, Saint Nicholas was restored to his flock, which joyfully received back their guide and intercessor.

Despite his great gentleness of spirit and purity of heart, Saint Nicholas was a zealous and ardent warrior of the Church of Christ. Fighting evil spirits, the saint made the rounds of the pagan temples and shrines in the city of Myra and its surroundings, shattering the idols and turning the temples to dust.

In the year 325 Saint Nicholas was a participant in the I OEcumenical Council (Sobor). This Council proclaimed the Nicean Symbol of faith, and he stood up with the likes of saints Sylvester the pope of Rome, Alexander of Alexandria, Spyridon of Trimiphuntum and others of the 318 fathers of the Council against the heretic Arius.

Saint Nicholas, in the heat of denunciation and fired up with zeal for the Lord, even gave the false-teacher a good drubbing on the ears, for which he was deprived of his bishop’s omophor and put under guard. But several of the holy fathers shared a vision revealing that the Lord Himself and the Mother of God had made the saint to be bishop, bestowing upon him the Gospel and omophorion. The fathers of the Council, having concurred, that the audacity of the saint was pleasing to god, gave glory to the Lord and restored His holy saint to the dignity of bishop.

Having returned to his own diocese, the saint brought it peace and blessings, sowing the word of Truth, nipping in the bud defective and spurious claims of wisdom, uprooting heresy and healing the fallen and those led astray through ignorance. He was indeed a light in the world and the salt of the earth, wherein his life did shine and his word was mixed with the salt of wisdom.

Even during his life the saint worked many miracles. Of them the one accorded the greatest fame was the deliverance from death by the saint of three men, unjustly condemned by a greedy city-commander. The saint boldly went up to the executioner and took hold of his sword, already suspended over the heads of the condemned. The city-commander, denounced by Saint Nicholas in wrong-doing, repented himself and begged for forgiveness. During this time there were present three military officers, dispatched by the emperor Constantine to Phrygia. They did not suspect that they soon likewise would be compelled to seek the intercession of Saint Nicholas: it so happened that they had been vilely slandered before the emperor and were come under a sentence of death. Appearing in sleep to the holy equal-to-the-apostles Constantine, Saint Nicholas called on him to dismiss the wrongful death-sentence of the military officers who, now in prison, prayerfully called out for help to the saint. He worked many other miracles, and asceticised many long years at his labour. Through the prayers of the saint, the city of Myra was rescued from a terrible famine. Having appeared in sleep to a certain Italian merchant and having left him as a pledge of payment three gold money-pieces, which the merchant found in his hand upon wakening in the morning, he requested him to sail to Myra and furnish grain there. More than once did the saint save those drowning in the sea, and provide release from captivity and imprisonment.

Having reached old age, Saint Nicholas expired peacefully to the Lord (+ 345-351). His venerable relics were preserved undecayed in the local cathedral church and flowed with curative myrh, from which many received healing. In the year 1087 his relics were transferred to the Italian city of Bari, where they rest even now (about the Transfer of Relics see under 9 May).

The name of the great saint of God, the hierarch and wonderworker Nicholas, a speedy helper and suppliant for all hastening to him, is famed in all the ends of the earth, in many lands and among many peoples. In Russia there are a multitude of cathedrals, monasteries and churches consecrated in his name. There is not, probably, a single city without a Nikol’sk temple.

In the name of Saint Nicholas the Wonderworker — the first Russian Christian prince Askol’d (+ 882) was baptised in 866 by Patriarch Photios. Over the grave of Askol’d, the holy equal-to-the-apostles Ol’ga (Comm. 11 July) erected the first temple of Sainted Nicholas in the Russian Church at Kiev. Primary cathedrals were dedicated to Saint Nicholas at Izborsk, Ostrov, Mozhaisk, and Zaraisk. At Novgorod the Great one of the main churches of the city — the Nikolo-Dvorischensk church, later became a cathedral. Famed and venerable Nikol’sk churches and monasteries are at Kiev, Smolensk, Pskov, Toropetsa, Galich, Archangelsk, Great Ustiug, Tobol’sk. Moscow was famed by several tens of churches consecrated to the saint, and three Nikol’sk monasteries were situated in the Moscow diocese: the Nikolo-Greek (Staryi) — in the Chinese-quarter, the Nikolo-Perervinsk and the Nikolo-Ugreshsk. One of the chief towers of the Kremlin was named the Nikol’sk. Part of all the churches devoted to the saint were those established at market-squares by Russian merchants, sea-farers and land-goers, venerating the wonderworker Nicholas as a protector of all those journeying on dry land and sea. They sometimes received the name among the people of “Nicholas soaked”. Many village churches in Russia were dedicated to the wonderworker Nicholas, reverently venerated by peasants as a merciful intercessor before the Lord for all the people in their work. And in the Russian land Saint Nicholas did not leave off with his intercession. Ancient Kiev preserves the memory about the miraculous rescue of a drowning infant by the saint. The great wonderworker, hearing the grief-filled prayers of the parents in the loss of their only child, by night snatched up the infant from the waters, revived him and placed him in the choir-loft of Saint Sophia church in front of his wonderworking image. And here in the morning the infant was found safe by his thrilled parents, praising with a multitude of the people Saint Nicholas the Wonderworker.

Many wonderworking icons of Saint Nicholas appeared in Russia and came also from other lands. There is the ancient byzantine embroidered image of the saint (XII), brought to Moscow from Novgorod, and the large icon written in the XIII Century by a Novgorod master. Two depictions of the wonderworker are especially distributed in the Russian Church: Sainted Nicholas of Zaraisk — in full-length, with blessing right hand and with Gospel (this image was brought to Ryazan in 1225 by the byzantine princess Eupraxia, future spouse of Ryazan prince Theodore, and perishing in 1237 with her husband and infant-son during the incursion of Batu); and Sainted Nicholas of Mozhaisk — also in full stature, with a sword in his right hand and a city in his left — in memory of the miraculous rescue, through the prayers of the saint, of the city of Mozhaisk from an invasion of enemies. It is impossible to list all the graced icons of Saint Nicholas. Every Russian city and every church was blessed by suchlike icons through the prayers of the saint.

Eastern Christian Orthodox Hymn – Troparion    Tone 4

The truth of things revealed thee to thy flock as a rule of faith,/ a model of meekness, and a teacher of temperance./ Therefore thou hast won the heights by humility,/ riches by poverty./ Holy Father Nicholas, intercede with Christ our God that our souls may be saved.

Eastern Christian Orthodox Hymn – Kontakion    Tone 3

Thou wast a faithful minister of God in Myra,/ O Saint Nicholas./ For having fulfilled the Gospel of Christ,/ thou didst die for the people and save the innocent./ Therefore thou wast sanctified as a great initiator of the grace of God.





Suffering, Sin, Sickness & Death

13 10 2009

Suffering, Sin, Sickness & Death Thank you for your prayers for my myriad health problems. I appreciate you sharing the scripture verse you quoted, Isaiah 53:4 and 5: “surely he has borne our grief and carried our sorrows. Yet we esteemed Him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted, but He was wounded for our transgressions. He was bruised for our iniquities. The chastisement for our peace was upon Him. And by His stripes we are healed.” I do believe that God can and does heal people. This verse is often quoted as well as many others that to many mean that God guarantees a healing if we only proclaim it and have faith. This is not always the case and especially when it comes to anything from God. This part of scripture in complete context talks about the suffering of the Lord and healing us of sin, transgressions, iniquities, and restoring us into a right relationship with God. I do believe sometimes sin and the devil can cause affliction and bad health. However, not all affliction is from sin or of the devil, or even lack of faith. When I look at the complete Bible, there are numerous examples of suffering even for the righteous. In many passages of Scripture it reminds us there will be suffering in this life which God allows us to go through. Some of the suffering is for only a time, some is for this life time, but all suffering, illness and even death will be taken away. Christ conquered sin. Does this mean that since Christ conquered sin, we are no longer sinful? I am sure you would agree that although we have been forgiven of our sins both past, present and future, it does not mean we are any less sinful and we don’t need to confess and repent of our sins or that we are without sin. So as we live out each day, we sin each day and then we need to repent and confess our sins so that we might be healed of our sins. Christ conquered death. Does this mean that since Christ conquered death that we will never die? In one sense, yes, our soul will never die. In the other physical sense, our body will die unless we are blessed to be alive at the glorious Second Coming of Christ. Although Christ conquered death and the grave does not mean that we will not experience a physical death and experience the decay and corruption of a dying body. Christ conquered sickness. So now I ask the question, does this mean that since Christ conquered sickness that we will never be sick? Could there be another meaning? Just like in sin or in death Christ conquered all these things it does not mean that we will be “saved” from all these things. One might say that sin is our own fault and that might imply that we can live a life of perfection because Christ lived as a man and He lived perfectly. However, very few people will ever attain perfection and be without sin even after becoming born again. So is sickness from sin? As I said before that some sicknesses are from sin, but then just because a person is healthy does that mean they are without sin? I am sure you would agree that there are many healthy people that are very sinful people. Likewise there are many healthy people who have no faith at all in God, or a god, and are even atheist in their beliefs. So then we have to realize that sometimes God allows sickness comes in to our lives for the testing of our faith and for to bring glory to God in the midst of our trials, tribulations, sufferings and illnesses. We only need to look at the life of Job in the Old Testament and see how a righteous man is put to the test and although we get the glimpse into heaven and see the conversation between God and the devil, Job had no idea and neither did his wife. Yet we see Job suffering patiently and trusting God with his well-meaning friends offering counsel that maybe he didn’t have faith or their must be some sin his life that God was punishing Job. Yet, then we see God rebuking Job’s friends and never giving an explanation for Job’s suffering but instead declares His Glory to Job and reminds them and us, that He is God and will do as He pleases. We can never make demands of God, we are at His mercy. His will and purposes extend beyond our present vision and this present life. We all have to die sometime in our life (unless the Lord comes). Death is unavoidable. It is not a question of whether or not we will die, we will all die. The question becomes “how will we die?” We will all die from our bodies finally giving out or by some other means. Our bodies from the time we stop growing up are then on the decline and decaying. Death is the final step. I also mean that both physically and spiritually. Even after Christ raised Lazarus from the dead, Lazarus had die again later on in his life. When Christ healed the paralytic, He first said, your sins are forgiven. The Pharisees were in an uproar because they said only God can forgive sins. Christ answered so that they would know that he had the power to forgive, He then healed the man. Christ healed many people but not all people. Those He healed were also “saved”. All of His healings were to demonstrate that He was truly God in the flesh. Throughout Church history and even throughout the New Testament in the lives of the saints of God, illness, suffering, trials and tribulations came to test their faith. The Apostle Paul reminds us that whom the Lord loves He chastens. Jesus said, “in this world you will have tribulations, but be of good cheer, for I have overcome the world.” Earth is not our home and these bodies are still living in a polluted and sinful world. Oftentimes sickness and illness are used by God to build our faith and draw us closer to Him. It is a great testimony to praise God in the midst of the storms of our life and glorify Him and say like Job, “though He (meaning God) slay me, yet will I trust Him” and again Job says, “for I know that my Redeemer lives and I will stand with Him on that day (meaning the day of judgment)”. Through sicknesses and trials we are reminded that this is earth and not Heaven and that Heaven is truly our home and we have the Eternal hope that all sorrow and sickness and tears will be wiped away. I will close with these passages of Scripture: 1 Peter 1:3 -7: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again unto a living hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it be tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ, Whom having not seen, you love. Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls.” 1 Peter 4:12-13 “Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you; but rejoice, to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy.” 1 Peter 5:10-11 “But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you. To Him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen. Please pray for me as I pray for you that we both may glorify God in all things.





Spending Time in “Prison”, the “Desert”, the “Wilderness

18 01 2009

This is an excerpt of a letter sent to a young man in prison struggling with his appeal process to reduce his sentencing time in prison. But I thought I would add it to my blog and maybe encourage someone else although we may not be in prison… we all have our “prisons”, “deserts”, “wilderness” experiences.

These are thoughts after spending over 20 years in ministry and missions work about learning patience and truly waiting on God’s perfect timing. Some of the things I desired for a certain ministry or mission to take place often took years and I was often frustrated things didn’t move faster than I would have liked, but God’s timing is always perfect. I would often remind myself that it is not the end result but the process of growing in the journey closer to God. God is not so much concerned about what we do for Him as to how our relationship is growing with Him.

I am reminded about Moses spending 40 years in the desert tending sheep a time of preparation and drawing closer to God. Then there was David who killed Goliath and later became King, but he spent many years in the wilderness tending sheep and facing his own battles learning to trust God to direct his paths. Elijah spent 3 years in the wilderness in a time of drought being fed by ravens and living in a cave. There was also John the Baptist growing up from childhood in the desert until the time he was to reveal Christ to the world by baptism. Saul who met the Lord on the road to Damascus and became the Apostle Paul spent 14 years in the desert drawing close to God before going out and doing missionary work. The Apostle Paul spent many years in and out of prison and many of his letters or epistles as they are called in the Bible were written while he was in prison. While the Apostle Paul was in prison, his life so reflected Christ that many came to salvation because of his witness in prison – even the guards.

Outside of scriptures there are numerous great people used by God to do great and mighty things who spent years in a wilderness or desert of some sort. John Bunyan who wrote one of Christianity’s classic books, “Pilgrim’s Progress” wrote it while he was in prison for several years.

So let me encourage you with some scriptures from the Apostle Paul:

Philippians 2:5-10: ” Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

Philippians 4:4-14 ” Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice. Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand. Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you. But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly, that now at the last your care of me hath flourished again; wherein ye were also careful, but ye lacked opportunity. Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me. Notwithstanding ye have well done, that ye did communicate with my affliction.”

The final verses are ones out of 2 Corinthians 4 that I especially took heart in when in difficult times: “Therefore, since we have this ministry, as we have received mercy, we do not lose heart. But we have renounced the hidden things of shame, not walking in craftiness nor handling the word of God deceitfully, but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God… But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us. We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed… Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.”

I am always reminding myself that God’s most important work is in our hearts and not in our ministries or what we do for God. That we are to work out our salvation, meaning that we are to constantly work on our heart to become more like Christ in whatever situation we are in and trust God to work out His perfect timing and plans for our lives.

My other favorite verses are Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.”

And Isaiah 55:8-9 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways says the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.”

So our life takes many turns and often not the way we planned but looking back it is God’s perfect plan and we can see his hand in all things. Even when we have made mistakes, done things we are not proud of, been disciplined by the hand of God (sometimes from the law, sometimes from man, but it is all from God), God is working on our character, our personality and our hearts to form us into the very likeness and image of Christ so that our light will shine without and shadows and the water that flows out of us will be living water purified and not stained.

So consider this time in “prison”, as a time in the “wilderness” or “desert”, a time where God has set you aside to draw you closer to Himself and to reveal Himself to you in a deeper way.

It is a time of examining our hearts and seeing how much we are truly willing to sacrifice and to “die to self” for the sake of the Gospel and for the sake of Christ.

We cannot see or make plans for the future, we have to make the most of today and make sure our hearts and minds are purified and holy before God so that if today or tonight he decided to take our life and call us home we are ready.

May you ponder on these rich nuggets of gold that I have learned from God in my own “wilderness” experiences. I wish you blessings from heaven dear brothers and sisters in the Lord.








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