Names of God – The Lord is My Shepherd

Philippians 2:5-11

Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Jehovah Rohi – The Lord is My Shepherd

 Psalm 23:1 – The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want. 

This renowned Psalm was written by King David, and its most famous passage is contained in the opening verse:  The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.

In this brief verse, David gives us yet another reflection of the Lord’s character and nature.  David continues to develop this idea of the Lord as shepherd throughout the rest of the Psalm.  In the next verse, he writes, “He makes me to lie down in green pastures; he leads me beside the still waters.

What an idyllic picture.  As we read this verse, we envision a flock of fleecy, white sheep, dotting a tranquil, green landscape.  These well-fed creatures graze on the plentiful grass surrounding them in a vast pasture.  Or, they lie about on a lush, green carpet of grass, napping peacefully.  Overhead, the sun is shining brightly.  On the nearby hillside, a grove of tall, leafy trees blow gently in the breeze.  Down below, a beautiful woods is reflect in a pool of cool, clear water.

The whole scene seems so pleasant, peaceful and carefree.  Not a creature in sight has a care in the world.  Why?  Sitting on the plush grass of the gently sloping hillside, overseeing all that goes on below, is a shepherd.  This shepherd is a picture of calm.  He spends his time meditating on the Lord’s blessings.  Occasionally, he gazes out at his flock to make sure all is well.  The shepherd does not hear a single cry or sigh from the peaceful fold in his care.  Instead, he sees below him a contented flock of rested, satisfied sheep, creatures who fully enjoy their peaceful surroundings.

I ask you, what is wrong with this picture?  Simply this:  life is nothing like this image of idyllic existence.  It is my sincere belief that this tranquil picture is not the image David intended to put forth in Psalm 23 – not at all.

The truth is, even the saintliest of God’s people are a motley bunch.  With that in mind, I want to paint for you another picture of the sheepfold David describes here.  Sheep are lying about in green grass beside still waters.  But, according to Isaiah, this flock includes lambs that are frail, weak and unsteady.  Some are barely able to walk.  Others are in deep pain.  A few are pregnant.  Still others have to nurse their restless young.

Isaiah 40:11 – He will feed His flock like a shepherd; He will gather the lambs with His arm, and carry them in His bosom, and gently lead those who are with young.

Isaiah is speaking here of Jesus Christ, our Jehovah Rohi.  Our Lord Jesus is our shepherd.  He came not to tend just healthy, strong sheep, but also those who are sick, broken, diseased and weak.

God condemned Israel’s ministers because they did not fulfill this role for the sheep under their care.  This aspect of ministry was so important in the Lord’s eyes, He spoke His displeasure through every major prophet.

Ezekiel 34:4 – The weak you have not strengthened, nor have you healed those who were sick, nor bound up the broken, nor brought back what was driven away, nor sought what was lost; but with force and cruelty you have ruled them.

Ezekiel 34:6 – My sheep wandered through all the mountains, and on every high hill; yes, My flock was scattered over the whole face of the earth, and no one was seeking or searching for them.

Jeremiah 50:6 – My people have been lost sheep.  Their shepherds have led them astray; they have turned them away on the mountains.  They have gone from mountain to hill; they have forgotten their resting place.

Isaiah 53:6 – All we like sheep have gone astray.

Note the last verse.  Who is Isaiah talking about here?  He is talking about you, about me, about every person who belongs in the Lord’s sheepfold.  Do not think the prophet is exaggerating for effect.  Mark it down:  every sheep in the shepherd’s fold has gone astray.  Yet, each of us is still in the fold, because our gracious, merciful, loving shepherd has come after us and found us.

Just look around you for a moment at all the sheep you know in the church of Jesus Christ.  What kind of flock are you?  Are you all lying down in green pastures, drinking pure, cool water?  Are you all perfectly contented, healthy, happy, and peaceful?

No way!  You have in your midst believers who keep stumbling and falling.  At times you wonder if they are ever going to be strong enough to walk straight.

Others among us are sick and diseased.  They have drunk polluted water from the well of some false shepherd.  Still others are walking about wounded.  Some were crippled by a bleeding hind leg their shepherd had to pull out of the lion’s mouth.  Others were crippled by bad habits and lust.  Still others among us are naked.  They have been shorn or fleeced by false shepherds. 

All these sick, broken sheep have been brought back to the fold by the shepherd Himself.  Some were so maimed, disabled, hurt and disoriented, Jesus had to put them on His shoulders and carry them all the way back to the flock.

That’s the role of our great shepherd.  Scripture describes this wonderful trait of our Lord even more clearly.

Ezekiel 34:11 – For thus says the Lord God: “Indeed I Myself will search for My sheep and seek them out.

The sheep Ezekiel describes here obviously have wandered away.  Yet the Lord still calls them His sheep.  He willingly goes after them.

Ezekiel 34:12 – As a shepherd seeks out his flock on the day he is among his scattered sheep, so will I seek out My sheep and deliver them from all the places where they were scattered on a cloudy and dark day.

Ezekiel is speaking here of sheep who have been through troubled times.

Ezekiel 34:16 – I will seek what was lost and bring back what was driven away, bind up the broken and strengthen what was sick; but I will destroy the fat and the strong, and feed them in judgment.

Ezekiel 34:22-23 – therefore I will save My flock, and they shall no longer be a prey; and I will judge between sheep and sheep. I will establish one shepherd over them, and he shall feed them—my servant David. He shall feed them and be their shepherd.

Once again, God speaks clearly about setting up one true shepherd to watch over His people.  Of course, he is referring to Jesus Christ.  Jesus is the good shepherd who promises to feed His flock.

Names of God – His Name is Forgiveness

Philippians 2:5-11

Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

My Name is Forgiveness

Micah 7:18-19 – Who is a God like You, pardoning iniquity and passing over the transgression of the remnant of His heritage?  He does not retain His anger forever, because He delights in mercy.  He will again have compassion on us, and will subdue our iniquities.  You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea.

John 3:16 – For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.

Nehemiah 9:17 – …But You are God, ready to pardon, gracious and merciful, slow to anger, abundant in kindness, and did not forsake them.

Psalm 130:1-4 – Out of the depths I have cried to You, O Lord; Lord, hear my voice!  Let Your ears be attentive to the voice of my supplications.  If You, Lord, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand?
But there is forgiveness with You, that You may be feared.

Psalm 86:5 – For You, Lord, are good, and ready to forgive, and abundant in mercy to all those who call upon You.

Quote of David Wilkerson – “Discovering the Lord as a God who forgives is the only way out of all our depths of despair, all the casting down of our souls brought on by guilt and condemnation.”

No hope – no hope – no hope – but then the shadow of a cross appeared.  The sun grew dark with misery, the moon was cold and chill.  But then the shadow of a cross arose upon a lonely hill.

  • Without Christ – hopeless eternity        
  • With Christ – eternal hope

A perverted concept of forgiveness is prevalent in the world today.

  • We recognize that God is good
  • We recognize that God is merciful
  • We recognize that God is longsuffering
  • We recognize that God forgives all sin

BUT

  • ·         There is no repentance
  • There is no change of heart
  • There is no attitude change

We feel sorry for the moment because we do not want God’s judgment and we do not want to go to hell, but we do not really change our way of living.

Isaiah 55:7 – Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the Lord,
and He will have mercy on him; and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon.

John 3:16 – For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.

The blood sacrifice for the forgiveness of our sin is seen throughout the Bible.

  • God killed animals to made clothes for Adam and Eve
  • Abel sacrificed
  • Abraham – the ram caught in the bushes
  • The sacrifices in the Old Testament revealed God’s nature of forgiveness
  • John 3:16 reinforced it
  • Jesus’ fulfillment of that promise completed the work

Hebrews 10:18 – And according to the law almost all things are purified with blood, and without shedding of blood there is no remission.

God’s continued call to repentance from beginning to end is proof that there is forgiveness in His name.  There is forgiveness through His blood.

Names of God – (Jehovah Rohi) – The Lord is My Shepherd

Philippians 2:5-11

Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Jehovah Rohi – The Lord is My Shepherd

 Psalm 23:1 – The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want.  He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters.  He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.  Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.  You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; my cup runs over.  Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

            He lifts me up when I get down,

            He restoreth my soul.

            He picks me up when I fall,

            He watches over me in times of stress,

He doesn’t say, “You are the weakest link – goodbye.”  He keeps following after us, drawing back into the straight and narrow.

I do not think I could relate to a fold of fleecy, white sheep who never face any troubles.  I would not know what to do if I were part of a flock where the sheep smiled all day long, showing off pearly white teeth.  I do not know if I could handle going to a church where nobody ever cried or experienced pain.  I would go crazy if I lived among people who were never sick, never in need, never tempted, never depressed, never downcast or discouraged.  If I were mixed in with that kind of flock, I would be a complete misfit, a black sheep.  And I would be miserable, because my life is not like that at all. 

We all have difficulties.  I get downcast at times.  I go through periods of discouragement.  I have experienced times of great confusion.  Do not misunderstand; I have God’s peace.  But I do not carry a Colgate grin everywhere I go.  Why?  I have been through the mill.  Often the trials of life do not make me happy.

I have been on mountaintops and down in the valleys.  I have been through times of testing, trial and sorrow.  On many occasions, God has had to come after me.  He has had to pick me up, bind up my wounds and give me a bath.

Where are you Lord?  David asked, in Psalm 43:2 – For You are the God of my strength; why do You cast me off?  Why do I go mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?  This man could not help wondering why he faced such trouble from his enemies.  Yet David identified clearly what his trouble was – “This is an oppression of the enemy.”

Every time I set out to do something I believe will have an impact for eternity on people’s lives I can predict what is going to happen.  The devil is going to come in like a flood and seek to overwhelm me.

At other times, I experience great physical and mental oppressions for no apparent reason.  I believe this is just what David was going through when he wrote this verse.  He had been assailed by something unexplainable, some oppression of soul that had no clear origin.  He had no idea why it was happening.  That is why he asked God why he felt so cast off.  Something had overcome him, and he had no idea what to do about it.

Perhaps you have been through this.  You woke up one day with a cloud of depression hovering over you.  You had no idea where it came from, or why it fell upon you.  You thought, “I’ve never felt this down or condemned in my life.  Why is this happening to me now?  What’s going on?”  You examined your heart endlessly.  Yet you could not get to the bottom of what you were going through or why.

Every true follower of Jesus faces this ordeal.  David was a true man of God; yet he was unable to explain the sudden despair that flooded his soul.  It came upon him at a time when his soul was hungering deeply for the Lord.

David was well acquainted with oppression.  At various times, he had been physically wounded, diseased in body, broken in spirit, cast off of Israel’s throne, driven out of Jerusalem, scattered to the hills, lost.  He also was corrupted by grievous sins and powerful, overwhelming lusts.  At times David was forced to wander across the land, fleeing across valleys, hiking up hillsides and hiding in caves.

But David had a caring, loving shepherd.  Each time David was battered and wounded, Jehovah Rohi went after him, picked him up and carried him to a quiet place of rest.  Then the Lord made David lie down, so his soul could be restored.

God’s sheep are no different today.  Time after time, our shepherd comes after us, fetches us and takes us to a place of rest.  He continually makes us lie down for a time of healing and restoration.  Yet we so easily move away from the Lord’s rest.  We fail to realize that the Lord’s rest is like the food we nourish our bodies with daily; we cannot retain its value unless we keep coming back to the table.

Exodus 29:45 – And I will dwell among the children of Israel, and will be their God.

The Hebrew word for “dwell” here is “shekinah,” meaning to abide or to settle down beside.  This word signifies not just a passing presence, but a permanent one, a presence that never leaves.  In short, the Shekinah glory of God is not a vanishing imprint that disappears from our hearts like invisible ink.  No, it is something God imprints permanently on our soul.  It is His very near and eternal presence.

This picture here is glorious.  Our shepherd offers to come to us in the midst of our pain and depressed condition, and to sit by our side.  He promises to bind up our wounds and strengthen the parts of us that have become sick and diseased.

That is the Shekinah glory of God; the abiding, everlasting presence of the Lord.  We often experience it when we are in the midst of trouble.  Our great shepherd tells us, “I want to restore you.  I’m going to do it by being present with you even in the valley and shadow of death.  My presence will be with you through everything the devil throws at you.  Even if you try to run from Me, I am going to chase after you.  When I catch you, I am going to take you in My arms and carry you back to My rest.  I will bind up your wounds and heal all your sicknesses.”

Scripture tells us the following about our one true shepherd.

  • Jesus states in John 10:14 – I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine.
  • Paul writes in 2 Timothy 2:19 – Nevertheless the foundation of God stands sure, having this seal, the Lord knows them that are His.  And, let everyone that names the name of Christ depart from iniquity.
  • Jesus declares in John 10:27-28 – My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.  And I give unto them eternal life, and they shall never perish, neither any man pluck them out of My hand.

Simply put, our great shepherd knows who His sheep are.  David was familiar with this aspect of the Lord’s character because He had experienced it personally.  Throughout the Psalms we read:

  • Psalm 103:14 – For He knows our frame; He remembers that we are dust.
  • Psalm 44:21 – Shall not God search this out?  For He knows the secrets of the heart.
  • Psalm 94:11 – The LORD knows the thoughts of man, that they are vanity.

David was saying in essence, “The Lord knows what I am really like, deep down.”  David realized that God knew his heart often strayed from His divine love and rest.  Yet even though David knew this, he fully understood that his shepherd still loved him.

By his own admission, David was a man whose iniquities piled up so high, they went over his head.  As he faced the long list of his trespasses, David said it became a burden too heavy for him to carry.

Psalm 38:3-4 – There is no soundness in my flesh because of Your anger; neither is there any rest in my bones because of my sin.  For mine iniquities are gone over mine head; as a heavy burden they are too heavy for me.

Do these sound like the words of a healthy, fleecy-white, strong, obedient sheep?  Hardly.  David continued:

Psalm 38:5-10 – My wounds are foul and festering because of my foolishness.  I am troubled; I am bowed down greatly; I go mourning all the day long.  For my loins are full of inflammation; and there is no soundness in my flesh.  I am feeble and severely broken; I groaned because of the turmoil of my heart.  Lord, all my desire is before You; and my sighing is not hid from You.  My heart pant, my strength fails me; as for the light of mine eyes, it also has gone from me.

This was obviously the cry of a troubled man.  As David acknowledged:

Psalm 69:5 – O God, You know my foolishness; and my sins are not hid from You.

In Psalm 119, after writing 175 “spiritually correct” verses extolling God’s word and faithfulness, David concludes with this verse:

Psalm 119:176 – I have gone astray like a lost sheep; seek Your servant, for I do not forget Your commandments.

David is saying, in essence, “Please Lord, seek me out, the way a shepherd searches for a lost sheep.  In spite of all my biblical knowledge, I have strayed from Your love.  I have lost the sense of rest I once had in You.  All my plans have failed.  Now I realize I am totally helpless.  Come to me Father.  Seek me out in this awful, dry place.  I cannot find You on my own.  You must find me.  I still believe Your word is true.

You cry out:

Psalm 13:5-6 – But I have trust in Your mercy; my heart shall rejoice in Your salvation.  I will sing unto the LORD, because He has dealt bountifully with me.

Psalm 3:4-6 – I cried unto the LORD with my voice, and He heard me out of His holy hill.  Selah.  I laid me down and slept; I awoke, for the LORD sustained me.  I will not be afraid of ten thousands of people that have set themselves against me round about.

Our great shepherd loves every sheep who has gone astray because of testings, trials, hurts and wounds.

Grace

Ephesians 2:1-10

And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others.  But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.

LIFE WITHOUT CHRIST

  • A life of death

The basic meaning of death (nekros) is separation.  Physical death is when a person is separated from their body.  Spiritual death is when a person is separated from God. 

1 John 5:12 – “He who has the Son has life; and he does not have the Son of God does not have life.” 

Romans 6:23 – “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

 Romans 8:6 – “For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.”

  • A life of trespasses and sin

Trespasses (paraptoma) means to fall, slip, blunder, deviate, wander away. 

Sins (hamartia) means to miss the mark. 

Romans 3:23 – “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.”

  • A life lived with the disobedient.
  • A life under God’s wrath.

John 3:36 – “He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.”

Romans 1:18 – “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness.”

Hebrews 2:2-3 – “For if the word spoken through angels proved steadfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just reward, how shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation, which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed to us by those who heard Him.”

LIFE WITH CHRSIT

  • Made “Alive”
  • Why?  Because of his love.

John 3:16 – “For God so loved the world that He gave his only Son that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”

Love (agapao) means unconditional love, love by choice and by an act of the will.  It is the world for God’s unconditional love.  It does not depend on “feelings” or “chemistry.” 

  • Why?  Because of His mercy.

Mercy (eleei) means feelings of pity, compassion, kindness.  It is a desire to comfort, to care for. 

  • When?  When we were His enemies.

Romans 5:6, 8, 10 – “For when we were still without strength in due time, Christ died for the ungodly.  But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.  For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.”

  • Together with Christ
  • In His resurrection
  • In His ascension
  • In His present rule at God’s right hand

Romans 8:11 – ‘If the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.”

Romans 8:17-18 – “and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together. For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.”

Philippians 3:21 – “who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working by which He is able even to subdue all things to Himself.”

Colossians 3:4 – “When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory.”

GOD’S GREAT PURPOSE

  • We were created for God’s glory.

Col 1:16 – “For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers.  All things were created through Him and for Him.”

  • God’s grace will take all eternity to show off.

Whatever we may experience of God’s goodness here, there is much more to come – it will take all of eternity for us to comprehend and show proper appreciation for all God has done for us through Jesus Christ.   

GRACE OF GOD

            God’s

            Riches

            At

            Christ’s

            Expense

  • Grace is giving – giving to people who do not deserve it. 

Romans 5:6-10 – “For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.  For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.  Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him.  For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.”  This portion of Scripture shows that God died for us when we were:

  • without strength
  • ungodly
  • sinners
  • enemies
  • God’s saving grace is free (for us – it cost Jesus His very life).        
  • We cannot save ourselves. 

Romans 3:20, 27 – Therefore by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin; Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? Of works? No, but by the law of faith”

Galatians 2:16 – “knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law but by faith in Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, that we might be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law; for by the works of the law no flesh shall be justified.”

 Titus 3:4-5 – “But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared, 5 not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit.”

GOD’S GRACE MEANS WE CAN WALK RIGHT

  • We are God’s “work of art.” 

Workmanship (poiema) means that which is manufactured, a design produced by an artist.  (This is where we get our words “poetry” and “poem.”)  We are God’s poem. 

  • We are designed to do good works.

Not as a duty – but as a part of our new nature.  If a man has been created in Christ, he does good works.  He is not perfect.  He fails, gets up and starts again.  But he keeps coming back to God and allows God to use him to do God’s work on earth.

Matthew 5:16 – “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.”

Col. 1:10 – “that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God.”

 Titus 3:8 – “This is a faithful saying, and these things I want you to affirm constantly, that those who have believed in God should be careful to maintain good works. These things are good and profitable to men.”

James 2:17-18 – “Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.  But someone will say, ‘You have faith, and I have works.’  Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works.”

 1 Peter 2:12 – “having your conduct honorable among the Gentiles, that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may, by your good works which they observe, glorify God in the day of visitation.”

Back From the Dead

Romans 6:8-11 (New Living Translation)

And since we died with Christ, we know we will also live with him. We are sure of this because Christ was raised from the dead, and he will never die again. Death no longer has any power over him. When he died, he died once to break the power of sin. But now that he lives, he lives for the glory of God. So you also should consider yourselves to be dead to the power of sin and alive to God through Christ Jesus.

Romans 6:8-11 (Amplified Bible)

Even so consider yourselves also dead to sin and your relation to it broken, but alive to God [living in unbroken fellowship with Him] in Christ Jesus.

This testimony is not my testimony of how a life is changed.  It is rather a statement of fact of what God will do in a life, when that person surrenders to Him.  I want to focus on the goodness and the love of Jesus Christ my Lord and Master and for Him to receive all the glory. 

Looking back on my life from the post salvation view, I believe that I was called by God to the ministry at about the age of thirteen.  I was the sixth of seven children born in 1940 to poor parents who were still struggling from the affects of the Depression.  They had purchased a three room house in Bethalto Illinois in 1936 and attended the church just three or four blocks away.  We all lived in that three room house, minus two children that had died in infancy, along with a grandmother.  Togetherness…yes. 

I attended that church every time the doors were opened but even though I had experienced a closeness or call of God at thirteen I never was baptized, nor did I ever take communion.  No one ever questioned this fact.  Today I ask myself, why did they not question.  The deacons that passed out the Communion, the Pastor, the Sunday School teachers I had had, even my own parents never questioned this.

When I was eighteen, having finished high school, and having no job, I went into the Air Force and eventually spent twenty years, retiring in 1979.  Of course, as is often the case, I drifted away from Church and what relationship I had with God. 

I went deep into sin.  Drinking, carousing, smoking, cursing, dirty stories, porn, drugs, and all the things that sin does over time.  I was calloused to the things of God, even though my position in the service was working in the Chaplain’s office.   Again, no chaplain or supervisor ever questioned my behavior.  I was foul in my language and what I lacked in size I did very well at trying to make up for with my mouth.  My biggest problem was the alcohol.  One drink was never enough.  I believe now the reason I had this insatiable addiction to booze was due to lack of self control and insecurity.     At eighteen I weighed just 110 pounds and because of my insecurity, I was scared to death to say anything to anyone.  I was a different person when I was drinking.  I couldn’t remember my insecurity when I was drunk – so I drank.

On more than one occasion after a night out on the town drinking, I would come home in a taxi or someone would drive me home.  Several times I had to go looking for my car the next day.  Many times I just drove drunk not remembering a thing the next day.  God was merciful for He spared my life on many occasions when I was in that condition.  I remember one occasion as I was driving home in the middle of the night, drunk as usual, I heard an inward voice say to me, “Your mother’s praying for you.”

While I was stationed in Taiwan in 1973-74 my mother was diagnosed with terminal cancer and I went back to see her on emergency leave because family did not believe she was going to live.

Up to this point I was without question, a sinner, lost, undone, chained, condemned, bound for hell and its torment, and without hope, bound for eternal separation from God’s love.  I was doomed, eternally lost.

Romans 5:8 (New King James Version)

But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

On my way back to Illinois on emergency leave, I had a layover in Seattle-Tacoma Washington International Airport.  All I could think about was my mom and losing her.  I was thirty four at the time.  It was past the hour of the bars being open, so I was alone with my thoughts, or so I thought.

At some point there in the middle of the terminal, while I was alone with my thoughts, there appeared what I would describe as a street sign. One part of the sign where the name of the street would normally appear said heaven and was pointed upwards.  The other part of the sign was pointed downward and it said hell.  As if this wasn’t enough of a shocker, I heard a voice inwardly that said, “And which way are you headed?”

Of course I knew enough about the bible and church that I knew where I was headed.  In my heart I answered and then I surrendered my life to the Lord Jesus Christ.   Hallelujah.

I got to St Louis International Airport and my brother picked me up.  I went to my sister’s house where my mother was staying.  She was taking chemo and radiation treatments and could not stay by herself.  I said nothing about the airport encounter to anyone. 

Several days later my mother was feeling a little better and she wanted to go home to her house and her own bed.  She told my sister that Paul could go with her and if she had any problem she was only about six blocks away.  That night as she slept in her own bed and I lay on the sofa I could not sleep.  In the wee hours of the morning I could sense an awesome presence of the Lord.   I believe His presence was in the whole house.  My mother was one of those great prayer warriors we often hear about.  That was probably the main reason she wanted to go to her own house, to have His presence.  I slipped off the sofa and sat on the floor near the door of her bedroom.  After a few minutes, she said, “Paul, is that you?”  She wanted to know if anything was wrong.  That is when I told her about what happened at the airport.  Her statement when I finished telling her of my encounter was “I knew something was different about you.”   My mother went into remission and lived for another five years when the cancer returned.

I went back to Taiwan where I was stationed.  The first thing I did when I got back was look up a fellow serviceman I  knew attended church.  He told me where we went and that Sunday I headed to the church.  

Of course, this foul mouthed, drinking serviceman was no longer foul mouthed and drinking every night of the week.  It did not go unnoticed and I began telling what God had done in my life.  The little church suddenly began to have other individuals and families that did not attend church show up.  A revival was truly in progress. 

The four or five busses going to the base some thirty miles away suddenly became filled with new Christians.  No more cursing, no more dirty stories were heard.  Instead, bibles were being read, questions about scriptures were being discussed.   One weekday we took a bunch of musical instruments up to the base from the church and did a gospel music concert during the lunch hour at the dining hall. 

Fast forward…now out of service…now a graduate of Bible School…now a definite call to the ministry.   In 1984 God gave me a Christian wife to work with me in my ministry.   Victory Tabernacle, Alpha Chapel, Bible Fellowship Church,  House of Prayer, Gospel Lighthouse, New Life Tabernacle, all churches where we served and Missionary to Iloilo Philippines along with Jessica our youngest daughter.  She is also a minister today.

Today I am retired – but you can never completely retire from God’s call.  My wife and remain active in our local church and try to share God’s love whenever and wherever we meet someone in need.

I am so thankful for a mother who never gave up but kept praying for me.  I am so thankful for the mercy and love of God that kept me and brought me back to Him.

Never give up praying for your family.  

  • Matthew 19:26

Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”

Stand Fast

2 Thessalonians 2:13-17

But we are bound to give thanks to God always for you, brethren beloved by the Lord, because God from the beginning chose you for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth, to which He called you by our gospel, for the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, brethren, stand fast and hold the traditions which you were taught, whether by word or our epistle.

Now may our Lord Jesus Christ Himself, and our God and Father, who has loved us and given us everlasting consolation and good hope by grace, comfort your hearts and establish you in every good word and work.

Matthew 24:42 – “Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming.”

I Corinthians – 16:13 – “Watch, stand fast in the faith, be brave, be strong.”

DO NOT GIVE AN INCH.  Nothing the devil throws against you shall in anyway harm you if you are walking in the will of the Lord.

Phil 1:27 – “Only let your conduct be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of your affairs, that you stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel.”

Phil 4:1 – “Therefore, my beloved and longed-for brethren, my joy and crown, so stand fast in the Lord, beloved.”

Phil 3:14-19 – “I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Therefore let us, as many as are mature, have this mind; and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal even this to you.  Nevertheless, to the degree that we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us be of the same mind.  Brethren, join in following my example, and note those who so walk, as you have us for a pattern.  For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: whose end is destruction, whose god is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame—who set their mind on earthly things.”

Gal 5:1 – “Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage.”

Eph 6:14 – “Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness.”

Just remember, you cannot fight sitting down.

Inheritance in God

1 Peter 3:8-9

Finally, all of you be of one mind, having compassion for one another; love as brothers, be tenderhearted, be courteous; not returning evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary blessing, knowing that you were called to this, that you may inherit a blessing.

God has chosen you.

1 Peter 1:1-2a – To the pilgrims of the Dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father.

Ephesians 1:4 – Just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love,

Ephesians 1:11 – In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will,

Revelation 22:17 – And the Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let him who hears say, “Come!” And let him who thirsts come. Whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely.

God is sanctifying you.

1 Peter 1:2b – in sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ.

Ephesians 4:22-24 – that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness.

God has shown mercy.

1 Peter 1:3 – Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,

Psalm 103:10 – He has not dealt with us according to our sins, nor punished us according to our iniquities.

Psalm 23:6 – Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

God has a purpose for our trials.

1 Peter 1:6-7 – In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ.

James 1:2-4 – 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.

God’s goodness is Jesus

1 Peter 1:8-9 – whom having not seen you love. Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, receiving the end of your faith—the salvation of your souls.

Growing in Grace

2 Peter 3:18

But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

We know we are saved by the grace and mercy of God.  It is by the same grace of God – unmerited favor – that we grow and become more like our Lord.

Ephesians 2:8-9 – For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.

As we allow God’s Word to become part of us, we will grow.

Colossians 3:16 – Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.

As we wait and seek the Lord, His grace will give us the strength we need to grow.

Lamentations 3:22-25 – Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not.  They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness.  “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, therefore I hope in Him!”  The Lord is good to those who wait for Him, to the soul who seeks Him.

Jesus instructed us to seek His kingdom first.  As we sincerely make every effort to really seek His Word and walk in obedience, we will grow.

 Matthew 6:33 – Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.

Even in difficult times, God’s grace will keep us.

2 Corinthians 12:9 – And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

Growing in grace does not mean that somehow we can get more of God’s grace.  God’s love, His mercy, His grace is unlimited.  But as we grow in our understanding and our appreciation of God and His work in our lives, the more we will understand and benefit from His grace.

Grow in Grace and Knowledge

2 Peter 3:10-18

But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up. Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be dissolved, being on fire, and the elements will melt with fervent heat? Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.  Therefore, beloved, looking forward to these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, without spot and blameless; and consider that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation—as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given to him, has written to you, as also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which untaught and unstable people twist to their own destruction, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures.  You therefore, beloved, since you know this beforehand, beware lest you also fall from your own steadfastness, being led away with the error of the wicked; but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  To Him be the glory both now and forever. Amen.

  • How should we grow in grace and knowledge?  The Word of God is the best place to go to find direction in all areas of our life. 
  • Growing in my prayers

Philippians 4:6-7 — Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus

  • Growing in my involvement

Galatians 6:10 – Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith.

  • Growing in my dependence

Philippians 4:13 – I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

  • Growing in my fellowship

Hebrews 10:24-25 – And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.

  • Growing in my commitment

1 Corinthians 15:58 – Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.

  • Growing in my maturity

Ephesians 4:11-16 – And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head — Christ — from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.

  • How do we then grow in grace and knowledge of the Lord?  Grow in your prayers, involvement, dependence, fellowship, commitment and maturity.