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Ouch!!!; or, “Is There a Doctor, in the House?”

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“Did you know that it’s true, that for me and for you the world is a ghetto?” So in 1972, said the group appropriately named “War.” Closer to present, we are told “It’s a jungle out there, disorder and confusion everywhere… Better pay attention or this world we love so much might just kill you.” That’s from the theme song of “MONK,” the TV series debuting in 2002 about the loveable, OCD “defective detective.”  And from the world of blues, pop, and Rock and Roll, take your pick. There’s a million and one songs all decrying relationships gone bad, saying in essence, “You done me wrong! Now, life ain’t worth the living.”  So, it’s unanimous. Everybody with a heart in this world, knows what it’s like for that heart to be broken. Nobody makes it out of this world without a heartful of wounds, bumps, bruises, and scars.

 

By Joseph Diop

Copyright © 2017 by Joseph Diop

 

This is perhaps one of the greatest mysteries of Christian faith and existence. God, our heavenly father, through crushing trials, tribulations, and afflictons, actually works out the greatest blessings to be found in this life. How can that be?, you say. Well, because it opens the way for the eternal love of Christ, who died for our sins, to gain access to the hearts of others in this world, through us. He first ministers his love for us in the midst of our heartaches, then he ministers that love through our hearts to others. Love in, love out, makes for a much better world. Love begets love begets love – God’s winning formula.

 

In this world, our Lord Jesus did not have a good experience. Like so many poets, lyricists, and commoners like me and you have all well observed, life can deal us some knockout punches – some of which feel like they’ve knocked the life clean out of us. Listen, and take fully to heart, what the word foretold of Christ’s experience in this world.

 

He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted [for his own faults].

But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him…

He was oppressed, and he was afflicted…

14 As many were astonished at thee; his [appearance] was so marred more than any man, and his form more than the sons of men [i.e., his body was so mangled]… (Isaiah 52:14)

He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation? For he was cut off out of the land of the living…   Isaiah 53:3-8, brackets mine

 

Yes, Jesus got a raw deal in this world. Life was not at all fair to him. People did him wrong in the here and now. He was tried by Govenor and Judge Pilate, questioned by him, then officially aquitted of all charges and even publicly pronounced “Not Guilty.” But then, for the sake of political expediency, He was put to death anyway. Who ever heard of such a thing?  The last the world saw of him, he was being executed like a common criminal, horribly tortured, and spitefully taunted while hanging from a cross. Then, he died following a loud and anguished cry from his cross. And thus, he did not make it out of this world without the scars to show what he suffered. Scripture records,

 

“And one shall say unto him, ‘What are these wounds in thine hands?’ Then he shall answer, ‘Those with which I was wounded in the house of my friends.’”  Zechariah 13:6

 

Have you ever been wounded by your friends? When the people that you love and that are supposed to love you deal you a hurt or betrayal, they strike you where no other can strike you –  in the very core of your heart.  Those are the ones that go most deeply. Those are the wounds that are felt as the sharpest pain. I think it is most telling that the word leaves us a clue to the real nature of Christ’s suffering. It says,

 

“[God] shall make his SOUL an offering for sin.” Isaiah 53:10

 

It says, Christ’s “SOUL” was the real offering. In the Bible, “soul” is more closely identified with the heart than with the flesh. His body suffered, yes. But, more to the point, it was his heart which endured the premiere suffering. Rejection, spite, hatefulness, treachery, disloyalty, verbal and emotional abuse, betrayal: these all were what Jesus experienced during his brief sojourn through this life. And, we come to find out that even in his resurrection body and in heaven, where only love, and joy, peace and understanding abide, these have all been memorialized in his body. Again, the scripture records in John 20,

 

20 And when [Jesus] had so said, he shewed unto them his hands and his side. Then were the disciples glad, when they saw the Lord.

24 But Thomas, one of the twelve, called Didymus, was not with them when Jesus came.

25 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 put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into his side, I will not believe.

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

27 Then saith 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, but believing.

 

Scars do not form on a corpse, but on a living human being. Likewise, when God is in our hearts, our wounds in life only make way for the resurrection power and presence of God to form an eternal scar in its place, thus exposing the life of the God whose presence has now taken over within us. That holy and internal scar over our hearts is nothing short of the glory of the indwelling God, welling up from within to combat the damaging effects of this world. A body that does not form such scars has no life, and no power to offer others. If you are to be a maximum blessing to others, you must have some scars and STRIPES on display in your life to offer the hope of God to others. The abiding presence of the scars only memorialize the holy and boundless love existing behind them. The scripture said of Christ, “With his stripes we are healed” (Isaiah 53:5).  Every good Christian soldier ought to be worth his STRIPES.  “S.T.R.I.P.E.S” really are:

 

S piritual, T estimonies, R eporting, I ndividual, P ainful, E xperiences, &  S uffering

 

So, take the time and the mind to understand this: the resurrection power to heal and recover us of all our heart wounds in life, is really nothing less than the abiding, living presence of the eternal God within us. Scripture says,  “To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Colossians 1:27).  He responds to all injurious and painful experiences in our life, by proportionately increasing the fullness of our knowledge of his love for us. And that abiding love in us, is what attracts and helps with the healing processes of others, as well. As the word records in Romans 5:3-5 (brackets mine),

 

And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience;

And patience, experience; and experience, hope:

And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad [that is, administered throughout abundantly] in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.

 

Finally, the scripture asks the searching question, “Is there no balm in Gilead? Is there no physician there? Why then is not the health of the daughter of my people recovered?” (Jeremiah 8:22).  The old negro spiritual jubilantly responds: “There is a balm in Gilead, to make the wounded whole. There is a balm in Gilead to heal the sin-sick soul.”  Yes, there is a doctor in the house – the Chief Physician, Dr. Jesus.  And, there He administers a balm abundantly – the love of God our Father. That loves gives us wholeness, soundness, comfort, clarity, peace, perspective, and a generalized feeling of wellbeing. If there seems to be a problem with the healing, then we have either one of two problems. Either we have not allowed for enough time, or we have not applied the right mind. But you may be sure, there is a doctor in the house.

 

Perhaps, your heart too has been battered and bruised in this world. I would be surprized if you say that it hasn’t taken some hard knocks. Well, if it has, or even if you just want to have the doctor in residence and on call, then I have just the words you need. Please pray the following suggested prayer.

 

Lord Jesus, I need you. Thank you for dying on the cross for my sins. I open my heart and life now and receive you as Savior and Lord. Come in and take control of my life. Give me your Holy Spirit. Come and make me the kind of person you want me to be. Amen.

Did you pray that prayer? Then, on the solid-rock foundation of simple child-like faith, I now pronounce you a born-again believer in Jesus Christ. Mark this date on your calendar. It’s the first day of your eternal life. Congratulations! And welcome to the family.

For 24-hour prayer and for help finding a church, call 1-888-731-1000

If you are already a Christian, but are in need of repentance and rededication, then pray this prayer,

Lord Jesus, please forgive me for not serving you the way that I should. I open up my heart now, and give you full access and control. Have your way, Lord. Cleanse me from all my sin and idolatry. Fill me with your Holy Spirit again. Renew me, Lord. Make me the kind of person and servant I ought to be. Amen.

For 24-hour prayer and for help finding a church, call 1-888-731-1000

For more inspiration, go to:  www.facebook.com/newjudah2  .

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Episode 3. My REVELATION Visitation: The MAN-O-MANifestation

Manifestation

Copyright © 2016 by Joseph Diop

This is the tell-all. Well, at least, I am about to lay on the table a short version of my tribulations in Dallas, Texas, which I underwent to arrive at this point in my spiritual journey. All subsequent to a holy visitation which I received in 1991, and ordained by God, this is my first-hand account. Truly I have seen the glory of God. And like the apostle Paul, I’ve got the stripes to prove it. Many will doubt, but if you have a faithful heart, you too will see by all this that God is indeed God, and He is always faithful.

To pick up where I left off in the last episode of my story, here is the intermission:

“Little did I know that in a few short years, I was going to have that fateful showdown with the devil play out in real life, on the plain of actual flesh-and-blood events, with the whole world looking on. And, that meeting would comprise my Job-like trial. Then, I would draw the dreaded card which reads, ‘Go to jail. Go directly to jail. Do not pass ‘Go.’ Do not collect $200.00.’”

Before I proceed, I want to affirm what the Lord and his apostles teach about tribulation, lest some novice think I had done something wrong to go through such troubles. Beginners always assume that. But, Jesus said, “In the world ye shall have tribulation…” (John 16:33). Apostle Paul said, “And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; and patience, experience; and experience, hope…” (Rom 5:3-4). Apostle James said, “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing” (Jas 1:2-4). Apostle Peter said, “Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to 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” (1Peter 4:12-13).

 

It is unanimous then: tribulation is just a natural and integral part of the Christian experience. And, as my long-time pastor used to say, “If you live long enough, trouble will come.” And, man, did mine ever come! It was not as a result of any supposed terrible or hidden sin, as many of my friends had supposed. In my case, there had been false reports circulating about marital infidelity. All those were lies of the devil – just grist for the rumor mill. Because of the false report that had been told to them, those who knew me believed that I was being chastened for sin. But, no such thing had happened, in my case. But, I did have common sin to say grace over. As the scripture says, “Thou hast set our iniquities before thee; our secret sins in the light of thy countenance” (Psalm 90:8). God was looking at the hidden faults OF MY HEART — things that I myself did not even know about at the time — and that was enough for him. God was pruning me down to the bone — to the very core of my being. And, tribulation was his tool.

 

Dallas was my crucible – a place where I could go through all my necessary trials, away from my family and support system. I had moved there in 1988 on command of the Lord. I had a few short years to get established there then, Wham! First, was a string of encounters with the police. They were initially just domestic calls – squabbles in my household. I was even usually the primary caller. But, I was a slow learner. I had to end up being arrested a few times before I caught on. In those days, the police would not help you, if you were the man. When they got to your house, if you were the male there, it was you who were in trouble. So, I ended up with a few misdemeanors on my record, all from the misguided notion that if there was something going wrong in my house that wasn’t godly, the DPD would help me straighten it out. Boy, was I wrong! And, they would usually charge me with misdemeanor assault. Never mind that they knew full well that I had not actually assaulted anyone.

At the same time, I began what was to be a cycle of episodes of homelessness. This was mainly because my wife and i had a dispute, and she’d ask me to leave, and i had no money at the time, and no where else to go. I remember the first time, when I did have a little money.  I had called the police, because we had a certain house guest, who had violated a cardinal rule of my house. When the police came, my wife sided with the guest. So, I had to go. I said, “Wait a minute. I pay the rent here. This person is a non-compliant guest. And, I have to leave?” Yep. So, I had to spend that night in a hotel. I was lucky that night. A few years later, I would be unemployed with no money. Then, I would have to spend the night out under the stars, or in a homeless shelter. I was in the back of a squad car in handcuffs one time early in those years, before I asked the crucial question to the officers. “This is not right,” I said. “Whenever I call you guys for help, you always arrest me.” The officer confessed, “Well, Mr. Diop, it may not be right. But, the judge has ruled that whenever we answer a domestic call, someone needs to leave to keep the situation from escalating. So, since the man is the strongest, the judge said, take him.” Like I said, I was a slow learner. I needed to have it spelled out to me like that.

 

During my episodes of homelessness, I both learned and personally experienced another great hidden truth. God sovereignly weaves our life’s missions and spiritual growth experiences seamlessly and quietly into the fabric of our personal lives, such that without the ability to see your life through God’s own eyes, the average onlooker does not have a clue as to what God is doing in your life. That’s why Jesus said, “Judge not according to the appearance” (John 7:240). That’s the mistake Job’s friends made. I was right there in my own skin, hearing the voice of God, and trying diligently to follow his every command. And, many was the time I had to ask myself with a perplexed mind and heavy heart, “What’s really goin’ on here?” My longest leg of homelessness lasted two full years. During that time I literally checked into every homeless shelter in the Dallas/ Fort Worth area. But, I was not just down on my luck. These were actually God-ordained missions. I had work to do among the persons experiencing homelessness: teaching, preaching, encouraging, helping, praying, witnessing, communing with them, going through hardship with them, and executing intermittent strategic prayer initiatives.

 

Before every episode, God would give me a title to that mission, an appropriate scripture passage, a Biblical paradigm, a theme song, and a mission payout. For example, one mission was called “White Siege.” The mission song was “Cat’s in the Cradle,” by Harry Chapin. One mission was called “Philadelphia Freedom,” and its theme song was the one by the same name by Elton John. One mission had as its scriptural prophetic paradigm, “Fire on the Mountains.” Looking casually at my life in Dallas, the popular conclusion might be, “What a train wreck!” And, if you held that opinion, you would be woefully wrong. The Lord had given me a specialty in what the Holy Spirit called the “U3 Ministries,” for: Urban, Underground, and Undercover Missions. At one point, I joined a church in the heart of downtown Dallas, and became a consultant and worker in their ministry to the homeless. I had learned the heart, hopes, and needs of the homeless very well. I had experienced their burdens and heartaches first-hand. Right before God told me to move back to Birmingham after 28 years, He told me I had earned my PhD, for: Perseverance, Help, and Deliverance.

 

From 1991 to 2008, in all, I was involved in about 20 or so encounters with the police, in none of which was I guilty of having committed a crime. Well, at least, nothing that was a crime on God’s books. My only crime was being a man trying to maintain standards of righteousness and true holiness in my house. Find that hard to believe? Well, let me tell you about the big one – the closest thing to a truly justified arrest. In December of 1991, I experienced a bout with mental illness. You may recall, that’s when I had this great, divine and fiery visitation. I had to take off work six full months on mental disability leave. When I returned to work, I found that the psychiatric drugs I was taking really interfered with my ability to fulfill my duties. So, I got off the medication so I could focus. Everything seemed to go just fine for six full months.

 

Then, I had what the doctors described as a massive bi-polar attack with psychotic features. The tragedy in this was, I was at home caring for my two small daughters at the time. One was two and a half years, and one, April Yadah, was only 11 weeks old. I was giving a bath to April when it struck. To make a long and sad story short, when I came to my right mind, I noticed that my little girl was having trouble breathing. So, I hurriedly called 911. She was taken to emergency. A couple days later, I was arrested on a charge of felony Injury to a Child. I was facing thirty-five years to life in prison. My bond was a quarter of a million dollars. My face and the sad story was plastered all over the evening news. I was eventually acquitted of those charges with a verdict of Not Guilty By Reason of Insanity, and placed on an involuntary commitment to a State Mental Hospital for treatment, therapy, and evaluation. But, my odyssey was to last almost six years, in which time I was repeatedly shuttled back and forth between the state hospitals and the county jail. In this, my civil rights were repeatedly violated. I was no longer a suspect nor convict, but only a patient. Yet they issued bogus bench warrants and hauled me back to jail every time I had a doctor’s appointment with a court appointed forensic mental health expert. Who ever heard of having to go to jail, just because you have a doctor’s appointment?

Needless to say, this whole thing was a very devastating and trying experience for me and my family. A few days after the beginning of the incident and my arrest, April passed away. She expired in the hospital in my wife’s arms. My wife and family buried April. I could not attend the funeral, being in jail. For a while, I could not believe this was happening to me. I asked the proverbial “Why?” a thousand times. It was a total Twilight Zone experience. In jail, I cried for a whole week. After the seventh day, the Lord spoke to me, and changed my spirit of mourning to a sober attentiveness. He had some serious work for me to do, witnessing and ministering to my fellow inmates. And, this would be my preoccupation for the next number of years, until my release.

 

I was very busy for the Lord. I started my first church in the County Jail as an inmate. Every soul that came into my tank had the claims of Christ’s gospel presented to them. At one point, 20 out of the 24 men in my tank belonged to my church. It was glorious. We had worship service six days a week. Every evening after chow we had the floor rocking with the glad songs of praise. I was their live-in pastor and spiritual mentor. I had a vibrant jail ministry, and it was an “inside job.” Those men could not have possibly shown me any more honor than if I had stepped into the tank as a visitor wearing a clergy collar and minister’s garb. But, there I stood among them wearing the common white, jail jumpsuit just like them with big, bold, black lettering on the back, which read “Dallas County Jail.” But, that did not stop God’s anointing in my life. And, men were steadily being saved, redeemed, built up, and delivered. My hospital experiences involved a lot of leading Bible studies and disciple-making also. So, the sum of my time in Dallas is this:

 

I am a living witness that God is God, and that He is God all by himself. It is God who stands behind all the scenes of life: commanding, controlling, orchestrating, resolving, and directing ALL things for his glory and for our good. I have seen, like the old saints used to say, that He will be “a doctor in a sickroom, and a lawyer in a courtroom,” and “He WILL make your enemies your footstool.”

 

This was my personal and customized version of “great tribulation.” The scripture says, “Call upon me in the day of trouble. I will deliver you, and you will glorify me” (Psalm 50:15). But, you need to call upon the Lord BEFORE any such troubles come, because the scripture also says,

 

23 Turn you at my reproof: behold, I will pour out my Spirit unto you, I will make known my words unto you. 24 Because I have called, and ye refused; I have stretched out my hand, and no one regarded… 26 I also will laugh at your calamity; I will mock when your fear cometh; 28 Then shall they call upon me, but I will not answer; they shall seek me early, but they shall not find me. Proverbs 1:23-24, 26, 28

 

If you know that now is a good time for you to call on the Lord, if you see the signs of the times, heralding the coming of the end, then please pray the following prayer:

 

Lord Jesus, I need you. Thank you for dying on the cross for my sins. I open my heart and life now and receive you as Savior and Lord. Come in and take control of my life. Give me your Holy Spirit. Come and make me the kind of person you want me to be. Amen.

Did you pray that prayer? Then, on the solid-rock foundation of simple child-like faith, I now pronounce you a born-again believer in Jesus Christ. Mark this date on your calendar. It’s the first day of your eternal life. Congratulations! And welcome to the family.

For 24-hour prayer and for help finding a church, call 1-888-731-1000

Lord Jesus, please forgive me for not serving you the way that I should. I open up my heart now, and give you full access and control. Have your way, Lord. Cleanse me from all my sin and idolatry. Fill me with your Holy Spirit again. Renew me, Lord. Make me the kind of person and servant I ought to be. Amen.

For 24-hour prayer and for help finding a church, call 1-888-731-1000

 

 

 

 

 

 

Episode 1. My Revelation Visitation; or, Out of the Fire!!!

Copyright © 2015 by Joseph Diop

 
Absolutely mind-rending!!! I would have to spend a little time in the mental hospital after this. The Lord said, “It’s going to take you about five (5) months to get back to normal.” That’s what God said to me following a divine visitation that I experienced in December of 1991. And, after you read this brief account of that visitation, you’ll understand why. Before now, I have never shared this experience with anyone other than my immediate family members. But, the Lord said to me, “Now is the time!!!”

I awakened to consciousness and self-awareness in a very dark place, like waking out of sleep in the middle of the night, in a room with no windows. I was alone. I was aware of being surrounded by heat. The heat was pervasive, but it did not make me feel uncomfortable. Then, in front of me, at a distance, light began slowly to emerge. It first appeared as a brilliant, narrow, horizontal strip, spanning my field of vision. It began to expand, downwards and upwards. As the lighted area increased, I could see the heat in it. It was being manifest as dancing waves, like sunshine rising from hot pavement, making the light appear to be fluid. The light also had a kind of thickness to it, which reminded me of the concept of plasma that I learned about in college physics — pure electromagnetic energy, like white lightning.

Then, I looked. And suddenly, I saw across the threshold of the darkness into the light, a person. It was the Lord Jesus Christ. He was standing upon a luminous orb of this plasma. His feet were resting firmly on it. The radius of the orb was about one-third of His height. And, He appeared to be the size of a normal man.

We fixed eyes on each other.  Turning His head, He directed my attention over and away to see the wonder of what He had just created. It was the pristine planet earth — oceans blue and beautiful — spinning in place, and suspended in a sea of the darkness of space. As I beheld, I realized that somehow I was in orbit far above the planet, watching it rotating beneath me. It was spinning in my direction, in a counter-clockwise fashion. I saw all the oceans and land masses. I recognized all the continents in their places. It was so beautiful.

I just watched the breathtaking sight for a minute or two, before realizing that I had started feeling intense heat. Only then, did I discover that I was in orbit without any vehicle to carry and cover me. I was enclosed in nothing but my body of flesh, gliding on the wings of the Holy Spirit. I was now feeling the friction of the earth’s atmosphere. And boy, was the heat ever getting to me !  So, I cried out to the Lord, “The heat!  I can’t stand it! I can’t stand it any more!!”

Suddenly, I was transported from flight, and found myself back in my room, lying on my back on my bed. At that instant, I realized that I had been in a visitation with the Lord God of creation, and had seen a vision of the Most High. It was a waking visitation, not a mere dream. And, for a reason unexplained, I lifted up my voice to the Lord then and said, “But, I still want to see Jesus !”  Instantly, I was beamed back into my orbit above the earth, and saw it spinning again towards me. This second time, there was an additional feature to my vision. One by one, I saw the famous, historical, covenant sons of God.

First, I saw Adam emerge from the left, from the darkness of space, descending to the earth, and landing in his time and place in history. Next, I saw Noah. He descended to his time and place in history. Then, I saw Abraham. After him, I saw Moses, then David, then John the Baptist, then Jesus. After Jesus, I also saw the apostle Peter. Each man in turn had emerged from the darkness of space, and landed in his own time and place in history. I was a bit puzzled, though. I had expressly asked to see Jesus, but I was also shown, apparently without any differentiation, the seven other Biblical personalities, as well.

Again, I started feeling the heat. It got so hot, that I complained once again, “It’s too hot! I can’t stand it !!” Once again, I found myself instantly back in my flesh-and-blood body in my bedroom. I felt seriously dazed and disoriented by the experience. Though I was back now in my body, I was experientially in some kind of twilight zone — as it were, floating between two worlds. In this place, somehow, somewhere along the way, I felt that I had been abandoned by God — forsaken. I felt absolutely friendless. Looking out through the sliding-glass door across the room, all I could see was nameless faces of people sneering at me. They peered in at me with disdain. I was being utterly ostracized, humiliated, and rejected. They held me in contempt. I felt like dung. My Bible was lying next to me on the bed. I took it in hand, and tossed it toward the foot of the bed, hoping that it landed on the floor. Then, I said, “That Bible got me in this mess!”

As I lay there, I could feel the after-effects of the great heat. I felt the very fluids inside my head boiling. I could see and smell the gases from that boiling coming out of my nostrils. I could tell that my state of mind and emotions also had been negatively affected, inasmuch as my normal self-expression was exaggerated. I felt slightly off — call it “manic.” I wondered how long this would last. Then, the Lord spoke to me and said, “It’s going to take about five months for you to get back to normal.”

After subsequent consideration, I realized that the dark place in which I originally awakened was the mouth of God Almighty. I had been allowed to be a witness to the beginning — the very Genesis 1:1 beginning — when God first opened His mouth and spoke the world into existence. The luminous, heat-filled plasma that I had seen was the Word of God. The orb underneath Jesus’ feet also was the Word, out of which He created the universe, including planet earth. The intense heat was God’s very person. The scriptures tell us, “Our God is a consuming fire” (Deut 4:24; Heb 12:29). Thus, my visitation with Him involved the experience of that sweltering, hot environment. The heat that I experienced in the atmosphere above the earth bespeaks the trial, tribulation, and persecution that we must experience in the world as we grow in the Lord and sojourn through this life. The word tells us, “Through much tribulation we must enter the kingdom of God” (Acts 14:22). And, “All who will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution” (2Tim 3:12). The anointed men of God I had seen were the pillars and axes upon which the very dispensations of history and divine purpose had been established.

There is much more to be expounded from this visitation, which will perhaps be unfolded later. Sufficient for now, is what is contained in this first rendition of that account.

Are you ready for the Lord’s coming?  The Bible says, “For our God is a consuming fire”  (Heb 12:29; Deut 4:24, 9:3). Every single soul must pass through the fire. Will you be refined and saved, or will you be burned and lost???  (Heb 12:18-29). Now is the time for you to make sure. It only takes a humble heart’s prayer to make that eternal difference, my friend. So, if you want to be ready, then take a moment to pray the following, simple suggested prayer.

Lord Jesus, I need you. Thank you for dying on the cross for my sins. I open my heart and life now and receive you as Savior and Lord. Come in and take control of my life. Give me your Holy Spirit. Come and make me the kind of person you want me to be. Amen.

Did you pray that prayer? Then, on the solid-rock foundation of simple child-like faith, I now pronounce you a born-again believer in Jesus Christ. Mark this date on your calendar. It’s the first day of your eternal life. Congratulations! And welcome to the family.

For 24-hour prayer and for help finding a church, call 1-888-731-1000

If you are already a Christian, but are in need of repentance and rededication, then pray this prayer,

Lord Jesus, please forgive me for not serving you the way that I should. I open up my heart now, and give you full access and control. Have your way, Lord. Cleanse me from all my sin and idolatry. Fill me with your Holy Spirit again. Renew me, Lord. Make me the kind of person and servant I ought to be. Amen.

For 24-hour prayer and for help finding a church, call 1-888-731-1000

5-4-21-2016

Best and Worst: The Whole World in His Hands

 

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By Joseph Diop

Copyright © 2015 by Joseph Diop

Who’s running the show, really — the show we call life? Is the sovereign God like a benevolent dictator? Does He move men around the board of life like pawns? Or, does man’s free will determine his destiny? Who would win in an arm wrestling contest? Silly question, huh. But, the answers to these questions occupy two whole formal schools of thought in the religious world. I am going to try to make it simple.

This is a commentary on the second of man’s two biggest problems, the first being human nature. I deal with that in my previous blog, “The Man in the Mirror: Spiritual Anthropology for Dummies.” Actually, this may not be a problem at all, depending on how you look at it. If you don’t mind being used by God, then this is just an overview of the human condition. This article postulates that we are not anything, until God makes something of us, for better or worse. And oddly enough, this awareness brings us to the doorstep of a perfect faith.

The Bible tells us that man is nothing more than a lump of clay in God’s almighty hands. At best, human nature is nothing in and of itself. It is weak, vain, helpless, blind, and completely powerless. Jesus said,

The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak” (Mark 14:38).   And,

“I can of mine own self do nothing” (John 5:30).

Those are not the words of a mighty Messiah displaying false modesty. Contrary to all our assumptions, Jesus is not just humbly underplaying his abilities. Jesus never said one untrue word in His whole life. For, he is the truth personified (Jn 14:6). No! Jesus is simply accurately reflecting the limitations of the human condition. And, Jesus was a full-fledged human being. The apostle Paul used slightly different words, adding up to the same thing. He said, “If a man thinks himself to be something, when HE IS NOTHING, he deceives himself” (Galatians 6:3).  Whether it’s Paul saying it, or the Lord Jesus Christ himself, man is in fact an impotent ‘nothing,’ at best.

At worst, human nature is utterly evil, completely lawless, chronically rebellious, and absolutely delusional.

When Jesus walked the earth, the Bible says that He knew man’s evil, fickle, unstable, and unreliable nature. He knew not to trust in man, nor partner with him. The scripture says,

Now when He was in Jerusalem at the Passover, during the feast, many believed in His name when they saw the signs which He did. But Jesus did not commit Himself to them, because He knew all men, and had no need that anyone should testify of man, for He knew what was in man.  John 2:23-25

Paul takes the time to actually outline and itemize just how totally depraved human nature actually is. Listen carefully.

What then? Are we better than they? No, in no wise: for we have before proved… that they are all under sin; As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: There is none that understands, there is none that seeks after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that does good, no, not one. Their throat is an open sepulcher; with their tongues they have used deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips: Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness: Their feet are swift to shed blood: Destruction and misery are in their ways: And the way of peace have they not known: There is no fear of God before their eyes. Now we know that… every mouth [will] be stopped, and all the world [will] become guilty before God. Romans 3:9-19 (brackets mine)

If we believed and accepted what these verses say, then we would know that human nature is utterly hopeless, and we would completely give up on it. That includes every program of self-improvement. We would end all personal resolutions for betterment. That’s exactly what we should do. That’s precisely what the doctrine of the cross demands. Then, we would cast ourselves completely on the grace of God that is in Christ Jesus, and entrust ourselves entirely to the operation of the Holy Spirit. Moreover, we would give much slack to others and their faults.

Ultimately and truly, a man can make nothing more and nothing other of himself than what God Himself chooses to make of him. That’s precisely what the scripture declares when it says,

Romans 9:10-23

And not only this, but when Rebecca also had conceived by one man, even by our father Isaac for the children not yet being born, nor having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works but of Him who calls, it was said to her, “The older shall serve the younger.” As it is written, “Jacob I have loved, but Esau I have hated.” What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? Certainly not! For He says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whomever I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whomever I will have compassion.” So then it is not of him who wills, nor of him who runs, but of God who shows mercy. For the Scripture says to the Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I may show My power in you, and that My name may be declared in all the earth.” Therefore He has mercy on whom He wills, and whom He wills He hardens. You will say to me then, “Why does He still find fault? For who has resisted His will?” But indeed, O man, who are you to reply against God? Will the thing formed say to him who formed it, “Why have you made me like this?” Does not the potter have power over the clay, from the same lump to make one vessel for honor and another for dishonor? What if God, wanting to show His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, and that He might make known the riches of His glory on the vessels of mercy, which He had prepared beforehand for glory.

That should settle it. Esau had no choice but to be Esau, the profane (Heb 12:16). Jacob had no choice but to be Jacob, God’s elect. Moses had no choice but to be Moses — the blessed and revered prophet of God.  And, Pharaoh had no choice but to be Pharaoh — an example of God’s indignation and judgment. But human nature just can’t stand to hear those words. That’s because, man in his pride, stubbornness, and delusion simply refuses to believe that his fate is not in his own hands. Against all truth, man insists on believing that he is in complete control of his own life. “I am the master of my fate. I am the captain of my soul,” declares the famous poem, Invictus.

Years ago, there was a famous song sung by the renowned Frank Sinatra, called “My Way.” That song expressed the typical thoughts of fallen man. Since then, there have been 10,000 others echoing the exact same sentiments. Sinatra used these words,

I planned each charted course

Each careful step along the way

And more, much more than this

I did it my way

For what is a man, what has he got

If not himself, then he has naught

To say the things he truly feels

And not the words of one who kneels

The record shows I took the blows

And did it my way

Let the record show that man does have free will. However, man is answerable to God for every choice that he makes and every deed that he does. But, man himself does not and cannot decide what he becomes. Ultimately, man’s freedom of choice only extends to whether he decides to say ‘Yes’ to God, or whether to say ‘No’ to God. Repentance means that man retracts his default choice of answering God with ‘No,’ and surrenders to flip the switch of his heart to the ‘Yes’ position. Those are the only two things man can really choose — the only choice substantially and eternally that matters.

Man chooses his master. He selects God, if he answers ‘Yes.’ But, he’s stuck with Satan for a master, if he tells God “No.”  So, man can pick his master, but God alone determines his destiny. It’s the heart and hands of the great Potter that decide what manner of vessel a man turns out to be — one of the best, or one of the worst. In and out of himself, man is a big nothing. The word says,

And all the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing: and [God] doeth according to His will… among the inhabitants of the earth: and none can stay his hand, or say unto him, What doest thou? Dan 4:35.

And, in Isaiah 40:22-23 NIV, it says:

He sits enthroned above the circle of the earth, and its people are like grasshoppers… He brings princes to naught and reduces the rulers of this world to nothing.

Yet, man has the potential — yes rather, the very design specification — to become a living, custom-fit garment for God Almighty (Gen 1:26-27). For example, the word says, simultaneously:

Know that the Lord hath set apart him that is godly for himself… Psalm 4:3

“And the Spirit of the LORD clothed himself in Gideon…” Likewise, the scripture also says, “And the Spirit of the LORD clothed himself in Zechariah… (Judges 6:34; 2Chron 24:20, Jubilee Bible 2000).

At the same time, the word equally declares:

The Lord hath made all things for himself: yea, even the wicked for the day of evil. Proverbs 16:4

Man always objects to the idea that God is in complete control of his life. “That’s so unfair,” man always retorts. “We don’t have any real choice as to what we become, yet we get judged for what we do.” Well, let me be the one to break it to you, Grasshopper. That’s just how God’s world works. Man universally and naturally starts out being evil; therefore, judgment is an absolutely essential element of life. Otherwise, the most evil people would prey upon other people until they were all consumed. And, a man’s works (and that includes the exercise of his free will) are the basis of his judgment. As the word says,

But if our unrighteousness commend the righteousness of God, what shall we say? Is God unrighteous who taketh vengeance? I speak as a man. God forbid: for then how shall God judge the world? Romans 3:5-6

God is God — sovereign, eternal, and almighty. Man is man — weak, frail, and finite. And, the final disposition of a man’s life is God’s private province and sole discretion. Protest though he may, man DOES NOT get a vote on how the system works. It is what it is. What else can I tell you? We have no choice in the matter, but to take it and work it as is. All man can do is be advised, fear God, deal with it, and govern himself accordingly. As a friend of mine used to say, “It’s hard, but it’s fair.”

You may be objecting at this point, “Hey, we’re not automatons. And, God does not deal with us as robots, but as his children.”

Let me be even clearer. In John 15:16 Jesus said,

Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit…

Do you believe the Lord when he said “Ye have NOT CHOSEN ME”? He never lies. He can only tell the truth, because He is the truth (Jn 14:6). He could never have looked ahead in history and seen anyone choose Him, for again the word says:

There is none righteous, no, not one: There is none that understands, there is none that seeks after God… There is none that does good, no not one… There is no fear of God before their eyes.  Romans 3:10-12,18

That’s human nature. And, you and I, and all others are human beings. So, even what APPEARS to be a wise choice on our part is actually not our own decision. God is the one who made the choice that we would be his. So, He put into our hearts by his Spirit the deciding influence to make the right decision. That’s called G-R-A-C-E (the grace of God).

Does this make us robots? No, because robots are not human beings; they are not sentient, self-aware, essentially-intelligent beings. They can’t manage the simplest task, unless you pre-program them first. But nevertheless, we are subject to the programming of the Most High. In lieu of the digital programming of robots, God feeds us His will by his Spirit, directly into our spirits. And so, we feel a liberty in our decision making, as was noted: “not as robots, but AS HIS CHILDREN.” As the word also says,

“And where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty”  (2 Corinthians 3:17).  In other words, where the Spirit of God is, there is a wonderful sense of freedom.

And, different from robots, we can be eternally thankful to be programmed the way we are. And unlike robots, we can respond to our Programmer with true love, honor, thanks, praise, and worship. And, those are the joys of the heavenly Father and his children.

Or, as the word describes this living and advance programming it in another place,

Ephesians 1:4-6

According as he hath chosen us in him BEFORE the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: Having PREDESTINATED us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of HIS WILL, To the praise of the glory of his GRACE, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.

You see, God leaves absolutely nothing to chance. God simply has to intervene on our behalf ahead of our human nature and divinely incline us to respond positively to Himself. Left to our own devices, we would ALL be on our merry way to hell. But instead, our names were written in the Lamb’s book of life BEFORE the foundation of the world (Rev 13:8; 17:8), and our works were also predetermined by Him (Eph 2:10).

So then, Mr. Bigshot, what does this now tell you? It tells you that although you have thought that you were a “self-made man,” in reality, there is no such thing. Whatever you think that you have made of yourself, God owns the patent and the process. He supplies the material, He sets the mold, He gives the design specifications, and He presses out the final product.  It is He alone who makes men into whatever it pleases him in His divine purpose to make them. And, whatever the product quality, ultimately He gets the praise, or else He boldly declares, as President Harry Truman did, “The buck stops here.”

The Sum

The Spirit of Grace is God’s pre-programming that causes us to make right, godly choices and do godly things. At the root of the matter, grace is really a spirit from God. It is the spirit of infused desire and power to do God’s will.

“For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.” Philippians 2:13

Theologians call that, “Prevenient Grace.”

And so, where does that leave us?  It leaves us with an overwhelming impulse to offer a thousand thousand thanks to God for our personal salvation. It leaves us with the incredible sense that we are co-winners of the great, cosmic lottery. The grand prize is eternal life for our sin-sick souls. And, it impels us to lift up unceasing Hallelujahs in acknowledgement of God’s amazing grace.

Now then, this brings us to the very threshold of a mighty and vibrant faith. Understanding that man is nothing, we now can see more clearly than ever that God is indeed everything. God is really God — the supreme being, the Almighty, the omnipotent, the omnipresent, and the omniscient One running the show. The old theologians used to call Him “the Unmoved Mover.” Unlike Dorothy and company discovered when they got to the emerald city of Oz, God is really the One behind all the scenes and curtains of life — commanding, controlling, orchestrating, resolving, and directing all things for His glory and for our good (Romans 8:28). God is pulling all the strings, throwing all the levers, and pushing all the buttons, in accordance with His own good will and purpose. And this is the key, the code-breaker, the cipher, and the “Rosetta Stone” to all prophetic mystery. Understanding this solves all the enigmas, conundrums, paradoxes, and riddles of the prophetic scriptures, including the book of Revelation. But, that’s another subject for another time.

So, what I am saying to you is simply this, “Your God reigns!” (Isa 52:7).  ‘Reign’ is defined as: “to exercise royal authority, dominion, or sway over.” In other words, to reign is to have CONTROL. To say then “Your God reigns” is to say, “God is in control.” Yes, we now know that He controls everything, even the fate of all men and all the events of history too.  As He boldly proclaims in Isaiah 45:7,

“I form the light, and create darkness; I make peace, and create evil; I, the Lord, do all these things.”

And, in Deuteronomy 32:39 He boasts,

“See now that I, even I, am He, and there is no god besides Me. I kill, and I make alive; I wound, and I heal; neither is there any that can deliver out of My hand.”

God is sovereign over the universe. He rules supreme and absolute over the world and over everyone and everything in it, with no apologies. He is indeed the One and only One on the throne. In the original Greek language of the New Testament, the simple English meaning of the word for throne is “seat.” This provides us with the perfect acronym for thinking about the sovereign reign of our God. God sits on the highest seat;  SEAT. God is in “Supreme, Everlasting, Absolute, and Total” control.

With a much more complete view of God’s immediate and complete control over everything and everyone, it is much easier to believe that, “With God all things are possible” (Matt 19:26). Now, I myself do not claim to have absolutely perfect faith, but I do at least know that I am on the right track. With my trusty GPS, the spirit of understanding, I do know that this persuasion is the site from which all perfect faith must be launched. Having said this, let me give the final words to a man with much clearer vision and much more perfect faith than myself, Apostle Paul.

Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on… toward the goal for the prize… Therefore let us, as many as are mature, have this [in] mind. Philippians 3:12-15 NKJV

Now, think about that.

Contemplating a God who has your whole life and destiny in His hands can be a scary thought. Well, it’s meant to be. Allow me to let the wisest man who ever lived, King Solomon, paint the picture for you.

13 Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. 14 For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.  Ecclesiastes 12:13-14

So, the fear of God is a good thing. It can and will save your soul for eternity, if you let it. God commands our fear, and promises life to those who obey Him. Jesus therefore said, “Repent… and believe the gospel” (Mark 1:15). The prophet Isaiah said, “If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the land: But if ye refuse and rebel, ye shall be devoured with the sword: for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it” (Isaiah 1:19-20). So, what more can we say? Your decision here is of eternal consequence. So, if you are willing to comply, and are ready to invite the Lord Jesus Christ to be your personal Lord and Savior, then please pray the following prayer.

Lord Jesus, I need you. Thank you for dying on the cross for my sins. I open my heart and life now and receive you as Savior and Lord. Come in and take control of my life. Give me your Holy Spirit. Come and make me the kind of person you want me to be. Amen.

Did you pray that prayer? Then, on the solid-rock foundation of simple child-like faith, I now pronounce you a born-again believer in Jesus Christ. Mark this date on your calendar. It’s the first day of your eternal life. Congratulations! And welcome to the family.

For 24-hour prayer and for help finding a church, call 1-888-731-1000

If you are already a Christian, but are in need of repentance and rededication, then pray this prayer,

Lord Jesus, please forgive me not serving you the way that I should. I open up my heart now, and give you full access and control. Have your way, Lord. Cleanse me from all my sin and idolatry. Fill me with your Holy Spirit again. Renew me, Lord. Make me the kind of person and servant I ought to be. Amen.

For 24-hour prayer and for help finding a church, call 1-888-731-1000

(2.10.19.15)

The Man in the Mirror; or, Spiritual Anthropology for Dummies

By Joseph Diop

Copyright © 2015 by Joseph Diop

Sometimes, the Bible can seem a very challenging and complex book. And, it is a ready admission of that fact, when one apostle, Peter, describes the works of another apostle, Paul, by saying, “…in [his writings] are some things hard to be understood” (2Pet 3:16). But, one concept is so fundamentally important, that I am going to attempt to break it down to such simple and familiar terms, that even a child can understand it. That concept is something that each and every one of us deals with on a daily basis. And that is, our own human nature.

For if any one is a hearer of the word… he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a mirror.   James 1:23 ASV

The word of God is like a looking glass. It will allow us to see two things very clearly. It will give us a view of the glory of God, and it will also show us ourselves. In this way, it is like a crystal clear lens for seeing straight through to the Lord. And, it is also like a mirror which shows us exactly what we are like. In other words, it allows us to discover our own human nature.

The God we find in the word is ever increasing in glory. The discoveries we make about ourselves are also ever increasing in clarity. The God that we see through the word can only be described as ‘Awesome’ — glorious in holiness. But, what we are focusing on here today is the reflection of mankind that shows us ourselves.

What we uncover there about ourselves will not be flattering. As we see God’s unspeakable and wondrous perfections, we also see our human wretchedness. We begin to see ourselves in all of the faults, failures, foibles, foolishness, and faithlessness of the disciples of Jesus. We find ourselves being reproved with them at Capernaum for our petty ambitions (Mark 9:33-37; Luke 22:24-27).  We get checked in the Garden of Gethsemene with Peter for our presumptuousness (Matt 26:51-54). We get rebuked with them in Galilee for our unbelief (Matt 17:14-20). And again, we get blasted with them on the sea at the calming of the storm, for our fearfulness and faithlessness (Mark 4:40).

In fact, if we have an honest and good heart, we will discover that we are just like them in every way. We are all human beings, and we all share the common denominator of human nature. And, it is only human nature to be weak and to trend towards sin. We spiral downward, until we get caught in and sucked under by a whirlpool of iniquity (i.e., corrupt motives). But, thank God, “where sin abounds, grace does much more abound”  (Rom 5:20).

But, it is needful and good to be informed by this truth about ourselves.  This makes so much more of the gospel to make sense and become clear; such as, why our “old man” (our human nature) cannot be reformed or simply enrolled in a self-improvement program. It makes us understand why no mere, earthly “religion” alone can resolve our ills. No !!  Human nature itself must be totally annihilated, eradicated, and utterly destroyed. It is totally depraved — completely unsalvageable in and of itself. If we read God’s word with due meekness and honesty, then we must acknowledge that mankind is characterized only by vanity, lies, contrariness, nothingness, futility, weakness, foolishness, misery, delusion, and self destructiveness.

That is why, in the protocol of the gospel, God wisely and mercifully had our human nature crucified in the first place. And, we must learn to let that old man rest in peace (RIP) in the grave of our salvation, so that the new man (divine nature) can live in peace. We are often tempted to try to raise him again, and try to rehabilitate our self-image, but it is absolutely spiritually counterproductive to do so. Trying to resurrect that old man and dress him up is a quicksand proposition. That’s proverbially, like trying to make “a silk purse out of a sow’s ear.” It’s just is not possible.  Instead, through the cross, God promises to expunge our old human nature, and make us “partakers of the divine nature” (2Pet 1.4). Although, in the beginning, our new “divine nature” may seem as small and tender as “newborn babes” (1Pet 2.2).

Paul said, “For I know that in me that is, in my flesh, dwelleth no good thing” (Romans 7:18). What Paul calls “the flesh,” and “our old man,” we simply call today our “human nature.” “The flesh” equals our “old man” equals “human nature” equals, in effect, “self-image.”

Here are a few common names — Biblical and otherwise — by which we refer to our fallen humanity:

our “SELVES” (2Cor 1:9);

our “old man” (Rom 6:6);

the  “body of sin” (Rom 6:6);

our “flesh” (Rom 7:18);

our “carnal mind” (Rom 8:5-7);

the “bondage of corruption” (Rom 8:21);

the “fleshly mind,” or, “mind of the flesh”  (Col 2:18);

our “SELF conscience”;

our “id/ ego/ superego”;

our  “SELF  IMAGE”;

and my favorite, our “human nature” (Rom 7:25 AMP, GNT, ISV);

That fallen human nature was born at the fall of man in the Garden of Eden. As a matter of fact, it was conceived just before, when Eve decided to use her “free will” to try life on her own terms. The flesh — our very human nature — then, was conceived in rebellion, and is by nature strictly and essentially a creature of rebellion. As such, it is  constitutionally incapable of acting in a manner other than that which is diametrically opposed to the express will of God (Romans 7: 14-20). Scripture says,

“For the mind-set of the flesh [i.e., human nature] is hostile to God, because it does not submit itself to God’s law, for it is unable to do so” (Rom 8:7 HCSB, brackets mine).

Like the anecdotal story about grade school kids and the teacher who draws a line on the ground and tells them, “Now class, don’t come across this line.” They just can’t help themselves. They’ll inch up to that line, and put their toes right on it. And then, they’ll scoot forward till their feet triumphantly breaks the plane of that forbidden zone. They just can’t be happy until they’ve defied her commandment. This is human nature at its finest.

At the fall, Eve had wrongly imagined that she had some wisdom and goodness within herself, and needed not to submit to nor rely on God. This is what was intimated by her choice to opt for the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Whether she realized it then or not, that was a choice to try to live without God.

When the serpent had promised “your eyes shall be opened” (Gen 3:5), those were the eyes of our “SELF-consciousness” (that’s why they immediately discovered their own nakedness). Self-consciousness is NOT a good thing. That self-consciousness, or “the flesh” is that person in the mirror staring back at you, when you get dressed every day. That is the perfect external manifestation of the internal problem — our mind’s eyes are fixed on our selves.  And that self-image, which we cherish and obsess over so intently, is the very crux of all that is wrong with us.

We are like people trying to drive a car in reverse, steering by looking in the rear-view mirror. You would not expect to make it very far that way. We don’t look too good to ourselves. That’s why Adam and Eve clothed themselves with fig leaves.  So, we try to compensate by telling ourselves how great we are. We put on a delusional attitude – a very egotistical, conceited, and narcissistic state of mind. We imagine that all our success should be credited to us. We call ourselves, “a self-made man.” I heard a great man of God say one day, “Whenever you hear that, you can say to yourself, ‘Ahh! So, that explains the poor workmanship!’ ” Or, we become downright discouraged with ourselves and think less of ourselves than everybody else. This is a clinically depressed, self-denigrating, and low-self-esteem frame of mind. So, we look out among others to try to pattern ourselves after them. And, that’s also futile.  As the Word says, “But they measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise” (2Cor 10:12).

You see, before Eve ate that fruit, we had perfect God consciousness. Now we are blind to God, and instead are left to make our way through life with only our self conciousness. Our minds are now literally screwed on backwards. And, man’s first awareness in that regard is that we are completely naked, which is another way of saying that we are in big trouble, because we don’t have any natural glory, virtue, power, or wisdom of our own.

That “naked” man that they discovered is the self-centered, self-serving, self-absorbed, self-conscious, and occasionally self-righteousness person we normally refer to as ‘I.’  I like the way the character, Morpheus, explained it to the central character, Neo, in the movie, “The Matrix.” He called it “residual self-image.” I like that. That’s how we see ourselves in this matrix of a world. But, it’s not real. The world is indeed a matrix. It is a web, a network, a stage, a set-up, and an illusory environment that molds and shapes our perceptions with its falsehoods. Morpheus also described the matrix as, “…a prison for your mind.” These lines were not just entertainment. I believe they were divinely inspired, bespeaking truth about the human condition and this fallen world we live in. This world is indeed that matrix that holds us captive to the sinful fleshly nature, binds our way to wrongdoing, funnels our lifestyle towards ever-increasing corruption, and blinds our minds to real truth. And, it paints a false picture of self — a bloated, air-brushed, pride-worthy, and praiseworthy person — leaving us with an imaginary self that is grandiose and far from reality. It is that residual self-image, forged in sin, that we describe as ‘me,’ ‘I’, or ‘self.’

That self is an incurable sinner. It is he who haunts us and complicates our lives, even after we’ve repented and been born again. It literally causes a world of trouble, and must be washed away by the “washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Ghost” (Titus 3:5) — that is, by the processes of spiritual growth and development.

We must make distinction between the simple “human condition” (the state of Adam & Eve at creation) and the fallen human nature (their messed-up state after the fall).  And, there is an eternal difference between the imperfect, immature, and innocent members of “the new man” of the divine nature, and between the corruption-filled, dead-in-trespasses-and-sin individual of “the old man” of the common, rotten human nature. The former (new man), God through the cross was made “holy, and blameless, and above reproach in His sight…” (Col 1:22 NKJV).  Even after being born again, the latter (old man) still lives in and permeates the members of our inner being (soul) like black smoke from a raging forest fire. And oftentimes, the latter short-circuits and hamstrings the performance of the former, to our utter frustration. That’s why Paul said, “For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish” (Galatians 5:17 NKJV). “O wretched man that I am,” he laments. “Who shall deliver me?” he asks. Thank God he immediately comes back with the one and only answer, “I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord.” But concerning our old pesky human nature, he is immediately reminded once again, “So then, with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh [i.e., my human nature], the law of sin” (Rom 7:24,25; brackets mine).

Our self-image is the carry-over from the first transgression (“original sin”). It is the product and the very essence of sin. God gave us self-awareness. Simple self-awareness is pure and innocent. However, original sin gave us self-image, self-centeredness, and self-consciousness. At the new birth, the Holy Spirit gives us the mind of Christ, and begins restoring our Christ-image, our God-consciousness, and our God-centeredness. Faithful, diligent, and constant adherence to the processes of spiritual growth and development is what brings the restored mind to maturity and completeness.

After the universal fall of mankind in the Garden of Eden, the self is still futilely and hopelessly seeking its own glory and goodness. You see, Eve was convinced that she could cheat death by finding within herself some measure of goodness equal to that described by the ‘law’ (that code of goodness availed by the tree of the knowledge of good and evil).

For the first time, Eve was looking to her SELF and depending upon her SELF for that life-sustaining goodness. What she did not know was that the life she had experienced was never based on any customizable code of goodness, but simply on her connectedness to God. For God’s proper name, I AM (Exod 3:13,14), literally means (among other things) “VERY LIFE ITSELF.”  So, the very moment Eve opted to use her free will to make herself separate, independent, and apart from God, she disconnected herself from LIFE ITSELF.  God cannot lie. He had already told them, “…in the day you eat thereof, you shall surely die” (Gen 2:17).

And, quite literally, the rest is history. Since then, the story of man has been one abysmal tragedy of sin and divine judgment after another, with the one great light being the gospel story of Jesus Christ. In fact, the story of man became so completely bleak at one point, that the Bible says,

When the Lord saw that man’s wickedness was widespread on the earth and that every scheme his mind thought of was nothing but evil all the time, the Lord regretted that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart. Then the Lord said, “I will wipe off from the face of the earth mankind, whom I created, together with the animals, creatures that crawl, and birds of the sky—for I REGRET that I made them.”   Gen 6:5-7

Is it just me, or have we not ALL universally proved that we just don’t get it?   The truth about mankind is indeed unsavory and nauseating — without question. But, we must embrace this as truth preferred.

The scriptures tell us repeatedly that we (that is, our human nature), were crucified to death, and buried with Christ when we became born-again. Thus, God declared our human nature garbage. Having been trashed,  we are not to look to it nor lean to it any more.

“Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.”  Romans 6:6

“I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me…” Galatians 2:20

Take the time to read the entire passages of Romans 6:1-7, Gal 2:20, Col 3:3, and Romans 3:10-19. There, you will see that God has judged human nature, declared it a lost cause, and has instead supplanted it, completely subsuming it with his son, Jesus Christ, the new man.

But the modern media worships the old man. It continually boosts the old man and promotes it. It will never let you forget about you — no, not for one second. Everything in the media glorifies and glamorizes the self-image. It will never let you forget that you should be working on YOU — serving you, securing you, blessing you, beautifying you, enriching you, promoting you, and enhancing you in every conceivable way. Thereby, they keep your mind enmeshed in sin.

Now then, our hearts and minds need to be renewed, because they often leave us thinking wrongful and delusional thoughts. We are, so to speak, stuck on stupid concerning this. We are always looking for some positive, redeeming qualities within OURSELVES; that is, within our individual human nature. We look for things to commend, to honor, and to prop up the flesh. We seek out reasons to keep the old man around. We stare, so to speak, in the mirror.

And, we are insulted to the hilt when others don’t commend us for what we see as our good and positive qualities, not realizing that God has judged and sentenced to death the whole package of rotten humanity. Here, we show that we yet fail to comprehend and appreciate the doctrine of the gospel — the crucifixion, death, and burial of the old man. If we did understand it, we would shout a thousand Hallelujahs.  If we only understood, then we would realize that we don’t need to find any good within ourselves. We only need to find God, and stay humbly connected to Him. As the scripture says,

“And this IS life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.”  John 17:3

The scripture tells us that our whole capacity to rightly assess our ‘selves’ is ruined. You see, that person in the mirror, with the eyes that are looking back at self, seeking for some glory, goodness, or strength within self, has spiritually blind eyes. Self seeking eyes, by nature, are always blind to spiritual reality. That’s because they are looking in the wrong direction — away from the light. They are looking back at self, when they should only be looking up and away to God and Christ, “The Light of the World” (John 8:12).

We need only get our eyes fixed on Jesus. We need to seek after the only good person in the universe, our Heavenly Father God. But failing to comprehend this, our hearts become subject to a myriad of delusions about ourselves. The word says,

“The heart [of man] is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?”   Jeremiah 17:9

And, our unregenerate hearts always misinterpret the grace of God within us for the goodness and greatness of self. When commenting on some compliment of character offered to us by others, we say things like, “That’s just me,” or, “I’m just like that.” Thereby, we lie, and usurp the credit for God’s gracious moves within us. But, when confronted with flattery (praise to our flesh), we ought to respond like Jesus.

“And Jesus said unto him, Why  callest thou me good? There is none good but one, that is, God.”   (Mark 10:18, Matt 19:17, Luke 18:19)

But the flesh masquerades for that which is actually only attributable to Christ Jesus himself in us. The scripture tells us, “For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.” Philippians 2:13

Not realizing this, unwittingly our fogged-up hearts become puffed up with spiritual pride and lead us to intercept and arrogate to ourselves praises which belong to God alone.

If you can’t say ‘Amen,’ then say ‘Ouch !!’ But, if you are saying, “What in the world are you talking about?” Then, you’re amongst those of us who still just don’t get it; because, we are talking about me here and about you — Y-O-U. Make no mistake, we are talking about EVERYONE in flesh and blood, without exception. It’s just the predicament of mankind. It’s just human nature. The whole kit and kabootle of the human race is messed up like this — male and female, rich and poor, black and white, educated and illiterate, and infidel as well as Christian. As Paul declared at least two times, “…for there is no difference.” (Rom 3:22; 10:17)

Coming to acknowledge, accept, and admit this truth is very liberating and healing. This is chicken soup that the soul can really feast on, benefit from, and grow by. Thus, Paul said, “And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind…” (Romans 12:2).  We Christians too suffer with human nature, but at least we do have an out — an alternative and divine nature that we can and must learn to live by.

Realizing the truth about human nature is very enlightening. This makes all of Biblical history totally understandable. The story of Israel in the Old Testament is really just a chronicle of God’s dealings with human nature universal. Israel simply represents and stands proxy for the whole, messed-up human race. Their regular and cyclical forays into sin and idolatry just shows the natural course and inevitable end of all humanity. The history of the Jews is really nothing other than a reflection of the history of the entire human race attempting to have a relationship with holy Jehovah God.

And, we all just trend toward sin. Left to ourselves, we head straight for the bottomless pit of sin and depravity every time. We must thoroughly become familiar with our nature and our evil ways, and subscribe to our sore dependence upon God’s mercy and grace every second of every day.

When we look into the lens and mirror of the Word of God, ultimately we will all say as Isaiah said, “Woe is me. For I am undone… for I am… unclean” (Isaiah 6:5).    Or, we will react just like Daniel, fall to our knees, and report, “So I …saw this great vision, and there remained no strength in me; for my comeliness was turned in me into corruption, and I retained no strength” (Daniel 10:8).    Or, perhaps like John, our experience will be:  “His countenance was as the sun shining in his strength. And when I saw him, I fell at his feet as dead”   (Revelation 1:16-17).     Or perhaps, we will cry out like Job, “I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear: but now mine eye seeth thee. Wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes”  (Job 42:5-6).

These are the experiences of men beholding the glory of God. And, this is the experience of all human nature discovering itself in the presence of the glory of the Lord. This is what happens when the sinfulness and wretchedness of man meets the glory and unspeakable holiness of Jehovah God. This is the estate of all mankind — me, and you, and everybody else you know. This is the neediness of every human soul. And, herein lies the truth, the blessing, the provision, and the universal appeal of the gospel.

So, I urge you in the name of Jesus, and for the truth of the gospel’s sake, stop looking for and expecting to find some goodness in that “man in the mirror” — in that self-image. You’ll never find in him any righteousness, strength, faith, wisdom, or any virtue at all. If you think you’ve found some, it’s truly only a mirage, a delusion, and a lie.  As the word says,

“For if a man thinks himself to be something, when he is NOTHING, he deceives himself.” Galatians 6:3

And,

“Surely men of low degree are vanity, and men of high degree are a LIE: to be laid in the balance, they are altogether lighter than vanity.”  Psalm 62:9

Instead, be instructed by the doctrine of the gospel, and let the old man rest in peace, so that the new man can live in peace.  As Paul cried out,

“O wretched man that I am! Who shall deliver me from the body of this death? I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord.”  Romans 7:24-25

So, stop gazing at that self-image in the mirror. Stop looking for answers from your SELF in the looking glass in your mind. Leave the old man alone. Forget the “rep” (reputation) you’ve been trying to build all these years. Learn once and for all that when you gaze at that reflection, all you will find is an habitual sinner — one who is already crucified, dead, and buried. So, give up on him.  Or, as the Lord told me in a vision many years ago, “I WANT YOU TO SMASH EVERY MIRROR IN THE HOUSE.”

I know that we live in an image obsessed generation. And, that is precisely the problem. The image that we love is spiritually beastly, as in, “the image of the beast” (Rev 13:14-15; 14:11). As the scripture says, “A man who is in honor, yet does not understand, is like the beasts that perish” (Psalm 49:20). Gazing at that image brings doom. Hoping to find some good in one’s own self is a futile endeavor that renders an individual as ludicrous as the proverbial dog chasing it’s own tail. What’s he going to do with it once he catches it? What will that have solved?? And, like the old saying goes, “Repeating the same action over and over again, yet expecting a different result, is the express definition of ‘insanity.'” You need to break out with a breakthrough with the truth of the gospel.

Do however, keep looking through the lens of God’s word unto the glory of the Lord. There, you will behold God in all HIS glory and HIS goodness, and you will be transformed into HIS image by the power and operation of the Holy Spirit. As the word says,

“But we all, with uncovered face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image, from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.”   2 Corinthians 3:18,  KJ21

And,

“Beloved… it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for WE SHALL SEE HIM as he is.”  1 John 3:2

So then, don’t look back at your own image any more. Instead, keep looking up and away to the Lord through the lens of God’s Word and of His Spirit. Seek the face of God, and not your own face.   As it says, “When You said, ‘Seek My face,’ my heart said to You, ‘Your face, O Lord, I shall seek.'” (Psalm 27:8 NASB).  Through Christ Jesus, “the new man” (Eph 4:24; Col 3:10), we may now know God, live with Him, and walk with Him in love, in peace, in joy, and in all the glory of eternal life. Hallelujah. Amen.

Have you been looking to that man in the mirror for help that you need — for strength, or wisdom, or goodness, or righteousness, or answers? Have you been admiring him, knowing way down deep inside that he and you both are in big trouble? Well, look to him no more. But instead, do like Pilate commanded, “Behold, the man [Jesus Christ]!” (John 19:5). If you are ready to put your trust in Him now, instead of in yourself, then please pray the following prayer.

Lord Jesus, I need you. Thank you for dying on the cross for my sins. I open my heart and life now to receive you as Savior and Lord. Come in and take control of my life. Give me your Holy Spirit. Come and make me the kind of person you meant for me to be. Amen. 


Did you pray that prayer? Then, on the solid-rock foundation of simple child-like faith, I now pronounce you a born-again believer in Jesus Christ. Mark this date on your calendar. It’s the first day of your eternal life. Congratulation! And welcome to the family. 


For 24-hour prayer and for help finding a church, call 1-888-731-1000 


If you are already a Christian, but are in need of repentance and rededication, then pray this prayer,

Lord Jesus, please forgive me for not serving you the way that I should. I open up my heart now, and give you full access and control. Have your way, Lord. Cleanse me from all my sin and idolatry. Fill me with your Holy Spirit again. Renew me, Lord. Make me the kind of person and servant I ought to be. Amen.

For 24-hour prayer and for help finding a church, call 1-888-731-1000

3.10.13.15. 0941hrs  CT

Speaking of Blessed Events !

birthday party

I’ve been sidetracked for few days in a very arduous, but worthy endeavor — burning the candle at both ends for a while. And with this story, I am going to have to give away a few clues to my real-life personal identity But, I knew I was going to have to own up to it one day soon anyway. I’ve been very busy helping to host a 90th birthday celebration for my dear, sweet mother. Yep, and it was a doozy.

 Because reaching one’s 90th birthday is such a significant and blessed event, I am going to take you into our grand celebration to experience a little bit of it with our family and friends. I prepared a written review of the celebration and activities, which was circulated as a public service to those who had attended, and for the benefit of those who could not attend. So, come on. Join us, as we commemorate this joyful occasion.  I’m only going to give asterisks in place of our names, to protect our identities until the  day of the ‘unveiling.’

___________________________________________

The Bible asks the searching question, “Who can find a virtuous woman?” (Prov 31:1).  Every time I hear that question, I feel like a kid in school, who wants to raise his hand and shout: “Uuh! Uuh! I can. I can. I’ve found one right here, my own dear mother, B***** *****.” Well folks, the verdict is in from many witnesses: “Well  *****, we all concur.  After much inspection and investigation, we find that B***** ***** is indeed a virtuous woman.” Shucks, even my dear departed Dad, ***** ***** has left for us a witness, which echoes from heaven throughout our times. He once said to my mother, B*****, you’re the best Christian I know.”

 On yesterday, Saturday, January 25, 2014 we held a 90th Birthday Celebration for her at the church fellowship hall. The theme for the occasion was “It’s all about the bling !” because my mother is known far and wide for dressing to the hilt, and adorning herself with the finest of sparkling jewelry. The party was well attended by a host of relatives from near and far, and by good friends. It was a joyous occasion. We all had a good time, giving our one big “group hug” to my mother. We also had a great ‘after party’ gathering at my mom’s house that was equally a joyous celebration. The house was filled with a great gathering, and full of joy and laughter. The whole affair was just phenomenal. I have to thank my sister, ***** *****, and my adoptive sister, K**** *****, for planning and coordinating the entire event. Below, to continue to celebrate Mom, and to further commemorate that joyful event, I share the prayer, which I do believe that the Lord himself did inspire for the occasion.

 Opening remarks:

(You know, when my sister asked me well in advance to give the prayer and grace for this occasion, I said, “No problem.”  I thought initially that I’d just do like we preachers always do; which is, I’d just step to the podium, breathe in a little Holy Spirit inspiration, and then exhale a fully anointed prayer. But the Lord tapped me on the shoulder early this morning and said, “Son, that just won’t do.” I said, “Why, Lord?” And he said, “Consider the style, the flash, the flamboyance, the glamour, the utter splendor of the one you are celebrating.” Then He said, “Son, this is no time to wing it. This is a time to BLING it!!!”

So, I must confess to you that the prayer that you are about to hear is from a little divine inspiration that has been PRE-RECORDED !”)

Mom’s 90th Birthday Celebration Prayer

O Lord God our Father, and precious Lord Jesus Christ, on you we now call, for you are One who, like David said, “Preserves his saints,” and “lifts up our heads above our enemies all around.” You are the One who is excellent in Majesty, who has robed yourself with light, as with a garment. You are the One, who as my grandfather, H**** *****, used to say, “Sits high and looks low,” and who like Mary said, “puts down the mighty from their seats, and exalts those of low degree.”

Lord, we come today to give thee thanks and praise for the long life of YOUR daughter, and our mother, sister, and friend, B***** *****. Lord, we acknowledge that she is a very great gift from you, and we say “Thank you, Lord.”  We thank you for gifting her to us and making her what her very own name implies. You named her ‘B*****,’ which means a “Sojourner through life.” For, you have caused her life to span from early in the 20th century until now, the time of what we call “The Joshua Generation.”  You named her ‘*****,’ which means, “A Tower” – a strong watchtower of virtue and wisdom. You named her ‘*****,’ which means, “Gaining a Divine Perspective.” And, you named her ‘*****,’ which means, “A Full Count of the Cost.”

And, you have brought her on this great sojourn, from the very lap of her freed-slave grandparents, W**** and *****, until this blessed time; an hour when even a Black man in America can, like President Obama said, live the “Dreams from [his] Father.” 

We give thanks, because You have made her a true and radiant Crown Jewel of thy goodness; and, as one brother said, “A Prolific Ambassador of Peace;” one who carries herself, conducts herself, and dresses herself in a manner fit for a king, even the King of Kings, which is you, O Lord Jesus Christ.

Lastly, Lord, we give thee thanks, because you have made her to be the real deal, a daughter who lives out the true calling of her faith. She is one who is the same in secret as in public, who rises early in the morning to pray and spend time alone with God, who visits the poor and needy and helps them, who shows love and kindness to all people without discrimination, who is a true nightingale to those who are sick and infirm, who rises up early, lives industriously, and is in every way, a virtuous woman: a mother to many and to all who would call Jesus their Lord and Savior – a true “Mother in Zion.”

Yes Lord, we thank you for having one like her in our midst. And, we thank you that we all could be here at this time to celebrate that she is ninety years young.

And now, O Lord, we give thee thanks also for this food which we are about to receive. We ask you to sanctify and bless it for the nourishment, enjoyment, and benefit of our bodies.   In Jesus’ name we pray. And, let us all say together, Amen.

 

Do you anticipate living 90 years like Mom? Are you ready to leave this world at any time if you don’t?  Suppose Saint Peter met you at the pearly gates, and asked you, “Why should I let you into my Lord’s Heaven?”  How would you answer him? Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to tell him something like, “Come on, Peter. Outta my way! You know I’m a member of the royal family.”

If you haven’t already, then pray the following suggested prayer, and you will be just that — a member of the royal family of God and of His Majesty the King, Jesus Christ our Lord.  And, going home to heaven some day, will be a joyfully anticipated blessed event. It will be an occasion to celebrate too.

Lord Jesus, I need you. Thank you for dying on the cross for my sins. I open my heart and life now to receive you as Savior and Lord. Come in and take control of my life. Give me your Holy Spirit. Come and make me the kind of person you meant for me to be. Amen.

 

Did you pray that prayer? Then, on the solid-rock foundation of simple child-like faith, I now pronounce you a born-again believer in Jesus Christ. Mark this date on your calendar. It’s the first day of your eternal life. Congratulations! And welcome to the family.

 

For 24-hour prayer and for help finding a church, call 1-888-731-1000

If you are already a Christian, but are in need of repentance and rededication, then pray this prayer,

Lord Jesus, please forgive me not serving you the way that I should. I open up my heart now, and give you full access and control. Have your way, Lord. Cleanse me from my all sin and idolatry. Fill me with your Holy Spirit again. Renew me, Lord. Make me the kind of person and servant I ought to be. Amen.

For 24-hour prayer and for help finding a church, call 1-888-731-1000

Do You Hear What I Hear? The Grand Finale

Copyright © 2013 by Joseph Diop

We’ve come down to the number one, single-most, consequential factor in hearing the voice of God. Are you ready for this?

The single-most, consequential factor in hearing the voice of God is this: You have to WANT to hear it. You have to be WILLING to hear it. You must exercise your FREE WILL, and CHOOSE to hear from the Lord.

That’s it. Listen to this diagnosis by the Lord Jesus Christ, found in Matthew 13:15 (NKJV):

For the hearts of this people have grown dull.  Their ears are hard of hearing,
And their eyes they have closed, LEST THEY SHOULD SEE WITH THEIR EYES AND HEAR WITH THEIR EARS,
Lest they should understand with their hearts and turn,
So that I shouldheal them.’

Jesus was aware that not everyone listened with their ears open to the him. He knew that most of the people in the crowd were radical draft dodgers, as far as the call of God was concerned. So, that’s why over and over and over again, Jesus punctuated his sermons with these telling words, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.” No less than eight (8) times in the gospels, Jesus uses this expression. And an equal number of times, eight (8), Jesus uses it in the Book of Revelation.  He uses it once after each of his messages to the seven churches, and once again in the very middle of Revelation 13, where he describes that very dreadful and terrifying entity called, the Beast, who causes all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads (Revelation 13:16).

The point is that you have to have a heart for God to even care about what he has to say. The heart of the matter is the matter of the heart. An unwilling heart IS a deaf ear. It’s not that we don’t hear from God, but we won’t hear from God. (Won’t, as in, are not willing to).  Actually, that’s not technically accurate. To tell the truth, God does speak to us all the time, and we certainly DO hear his voice.   God is Almighty. When he wants be heard, no one can stop him. And even though we may not be willing to acknowledge him, we certainly do hear him.

For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.   (Hebrews 4:12, NKJV)

There is no hiding place from the word of God. He knows where you live. He ferrets out your thoughts. He pinpoints your motives. There’s no place in your human soul where you may take refuge from the mighty voice of God, when he wants to talk to you. The succeeding verse to that verse above says,

And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.   (Hebrews 4:13,NKJV)

This reminds me a true story from my youth. When I was just a young boy, I’d be sitting in front of the TV, watching whatever. And, at times my mother would call me, presumably to do something or other. She’d call and call, but I wouldn’t flinch. I keep right on watching whatever I was watching. I didn’t want to be disturbed. One day, my mother had had enough. Not knowing whether or not I really had problems with my ears, she marched me right down to the audiologist (that is, the “ear doctor”) for an examination. When the ear doctor took me back to the test booth to conduct the ear test, he said, “If you hear the beep of a tone, raise your hand. Even if you THINK you hear a tone, but are not sure, raise your hand. Well, that exam was a piece of cake. It was like a game to me. So, being but a youth, and being truly clueless to the ramifications, at the sound of every beep, I raised my hand. I raised my hand, and raised my hand, and raised my hand like a fool, until the test was over. Then came the verdict.  And the condemnation was pronounced. The ear doctor came out and said, “Mom, get out the switch. That boy can hear a pin drop in the middle of the ocean.”  Well, the jig was up. My cover was blown to smithereens. From then on, I either had to acknowledge my mother’s voice, or suffer the consequences.

So it is with many of you. But, God is calling you, one last time. And, you’re either going to have to acknowledge him, or suffer the consequences.


Today, we are going to let the echoing voices of the prophets of old give that timeless invitation to discipleship.

(Moses):  I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both you and your seed may live.   (Deuteromony 30:19).

(Joshua): But if you don’t want to serve the Lord, then choose today whom you will serve. Even if you choose the gods your ancestors served on the other side of the [ocean] or the gods of [the world’s ungodly people] in whose land you live…  Joshua  24:15  (GOD”S WORD Translation, brackets mine)

(Elijah):  Then Elijah talked to them. “How long are you going to waver between two opinions?” he asked the people. “If the Lord is God, follow him!   But if [the god of material security] is God, then follow him!”  (1Kings 18:21, The Living Bible, brackets mine)


(Isaiah):  If you are willing and obedient, you shall eat the good of the land. But, if you refuse and rebel, you shall be devoured by the sword, for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.    (Isaiah 1:19-20)

Finally, we are going to give the last word to the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, Jesus Christ.

(Jesus): Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If any man HEARS my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him, and dine with him and, he with me. (Revelation 3:20)

The fate of your soul is now in your hands. You have heard the call given from generations past to generations present. What is your answer? Stop. Think long and hard before you move away from this page without giving the appropriate response! There will never be an hour more filled with the grace of God than this moment. This day, God is calling for FINAL answers. Today, God is like the host of that popular game show, “Who wants to be a millionaire?” After the contestants finish mulling over all the alternative answers and selects one, then the host says, “IS THAT YOUR FINAL ANSWER?” Then, the contestants must finally take a stand on one choice forever. They must make up their mind. To let the buzzer sound without giving a response would be unthinkable. To let time pass, while doting endlessly over the choices, without making up their minds, would be ludicrous and humiliating. They don’t have all day. The clock is ticking. You don’t have all day. The clock is ticking. You only get one choice. You must make up your mind once and for all.  If you say, “I’ll wait, and make my decision tomorrow,” then God says, “I’ll take that as a ‘NO !!!’”  The scripture says,

In an acceptable time have I heard you.  And, in a day of salvation have I helped you. Behold, NOW is the accepted time. Behold, NOW is the day of salvation. (2Corinthians 6:2; Isaiah 49:8)

Behold.  Behold!  BEHOLD!   This is your hour — as that great evangelist Billy Graham would say — your “Hour of Decision.”

The scripture says,”He that comes to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him” (Hebrews 11:6).  I urge you now to acknowledge the voice of God. And if you are ready and willing to respond, pray the suggested prayer.

Lord Jesus, I need you. Thank you for dying on the cross for my sins. I open my heart and life now and receive you as Savior and Lord. Come in and take control of my life. Give me your Holy Spirit. Come and make me the kind of person you want me to be. Amen.

 

Did you pray that prayer? Then, on the solid-rock foundation of simple child-like faith, I now pronounce you a born-again believer in Jesus Christ. Mark this date on your calendar. It’s the first day of your eternal life. Congratulations! And welcome to the family.

 

For 24-hour prayer and for help finding a church, call 1-888-731-1000

If you are already a Christian, but are in need of repentance and rededication, then pray this prayer,

Lord Jesus, please forgive me not serving you the way that I should. I open up my heart now, and give you full access and control. Have your way, Lord. Cleanse me from my all sin and idolatry. Fill me with your Holy Spirit again. Renew me, Lord. Make me the kind of person and servant I ought to be. Amen.

For 24-hour prayer and for help finding a church, call 1-888-731-1000