03
Mar
13

Grace to receive what we did not deserve and mercy to not receive what we did deserve

How someone like me could get as messed up as I got is a testimony to the power of wrong teaching coupled with a persistent and devious enemy. I was (and still am) the consummate “good guy”. I never did anything to draw attention to myself, was not interested in winning popularity contests, strove to love God and do His will etc. I have never been a trouble maker although I always seem to be in trouble.

Slowly but surely the underlying evil which ultimately not only destroyed my ministry but the entire ministry I served in changed me. As I saw others whom I respected doing things I would never do because I thought they were wrong, I was conflicted and confused. In due time when confronted with the same situations, I drew upon what I had seen and learned and yielded. Thus the road to compromise began.

God knows the hours and days I struggled with “ethics” as they relate to a minister of Christ. God knows the hours I spent researching His Word searching for clear cut answers as to what is available, allowable and prohibited. Ultimately, because I was a trusting soul, I yielded to the example of those I believed were “walking with God” to establish what was right and wrong.

Sin has a way of slowly but surely breaking even the strongest person down. Sin has a way of slowly eroding one’s fellowship and relationship with God to the point a person is living off of their natural abilities instead of the power and wisdom of God. Sin corrupts the conscience and defiles the holy habitat of God within us.

I did not get into the Christian ministry to hurt people and fail. I did not work 80 hours a week for years serving others because I liked long hours. I did not work full time for the ministry for 8 years making $150 per month because I wanted to get rich. I sacrificed my body and soul to reach out with the love of God and minister to His people.

How then had I reached a point where I was ready to voluntarily give my very life to the devil to destroy? How had I gotten so hopelessly messed up? How could such a good man, who desired nothing more than to be a man after God’s own heart, become a despicable wretch rejected, hated and despised by so many different people?

Honestly, the only way I could answer all these questions is to look back in history at great men of God who also ended up far outside the will of God and suffered the consequences of their actions. Of course David comes to mind for even though he confessed his sin and his life and reign as king were spared, he lost a child and his own household was ripped apart by division and power struggles.

David’s son Solomon was granted more wisdom than any man who ever lived. Solomon used this wisdom to gain great wealth and power. He also allowed himself to turn away from the God who gave him everything as he sought to appease his ungodly wives. Solomon could have been the greatest king who ever reigned but instead he became just another member of the hall of shame.

I was not the first good man to fail or the last. History is littered with the carcasses of countless good people who through fear, deception or pride lost all God had given to them. Some of these people suffered immediate consequences and some did not see them for years. Either way, in due time what a man sows he will reap in his life and ministry.

These consequences are not punishment nor are they the outpouring of the wrath of God on a man’s life. They are simply the result of practicing error and walking contrary to the Word of God for an extended time. Consequences are nothing more and nothing less than fruit.

I am quite sure the enemy believed he had won when it came to my life and that I would indeed end it up on that cliff many years ago. He assumed God would not intervene because of all the things I had done wrong and the people I had hurt. He believed that I would succumb to his litany of horrible things I had done and want to do the right thing and punish myself for them. Dangling freedom from the pain, confusion and condemnation I lived in as a carrot before me, he thought I would just drive off that cliff and he would chalk up another fool on his ledger.

What the enemy failed to understand was that deep within my heart I loved God far too much to ever permanently forsake Him. He failed to take into account the relationship I had with my God and the commitment deep within my heart to never turn my back on God and walk away from Him. Ultimately it was what dwelt in my heart that allowed God to step in and deliver me from the grip of the adversary.

There were (and still are) many people who believe that since God hates sin and I was such a sinner, God should have pushed me off that cliff. Thankfully God looks on the heart and not the outward appearance and He knew that deep within my heart I loved Him more than life itself and that the only reason I was up on that mountain was because I felt so badly about letting Him down.

God ALWAYS looks on the heart and never passes judgment strictly upon what does or does not happen in the flesh. The weakness of the flesh will cause it to sin but in the end, God looks on a person’s heart. That is why we must strive to keep our hearts pure at all cost. That is why we can never allow ourselves to become so deceived that we believe we do not need God.

If not for the abounding love and mercy of God none of us would be alive. If not for the depth of the Father’s love all of us would have died in our sins. If not for the grace of God no good thing would have ever come to us in our lives. All we have, all we are and all we ever hope to be is found in the super abounding love, grace and mercy of our God.

Next time I will indeed attempt to reconstruct what happened that Thanksgiving morning many years ago and why I believe it happened as it did. Always remember that our salvation was not on account of how good we were but because of how bad we had become. Always remember that God’s promises are not for those who never sin but are many times God’s way of saving us because we have sinned.

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