Stalwart Followers of Christ

“I greet the Christians and stalwart followers of Christ who live in Colosse. May everything good from God our Father be yours!” (Colossians 1:2 MSG)

The Book of Colossians, written by Paul, is a letter to Champions. I love how The Message translated his opening line — “I greet the Christians and stalwart followers of Christ who live in Colosse.” Webster’s defines stalwart as “being marked by outstanding strength and vigor of body, mind, or spirit.”

The men and women of Colosse were known by that indomitable faith that overcomes the world, which comes from following Jesus — especially in the face of persecution. Resilient and reliable — able to stay the course no matter what occurs. Perhaps this humorous anecdote will serve as a good illustration.


There was this guy serving as a crew member on a ship under the command of a renowned Captain on the high seas. He was up in the crow’s nest during a storm, looking for land. A huge gust of wind suddenly blew him out of the nest and he tumbled down to the deck, hitting it so hard he crashed through and ended up in in the Captain’s quarters. sailor saluting

“Sailor, are you all right!?” the Captain asked. Standing to attention and saluting, the sailor answered, “Aye, Captain; I’ve been through hardships before!”

But there is more to this story.

The Captain was so impressed that he promoted the sailor to First Mate, a great honor indeed. One day he rushed into the Captain’s quarters exclaiming, “Captain, there are pirates on the starboard side!” The Captain, unruffled, calmly said, “Sound the alarm; all hands on deck, man the battle stations; and bring me my red shirt.” The first mate complied. They fought off the pirates and won a great victory.

About a week later, the first mate once again burst into the Captain’s quarters, “Captain, there are pirates on the port side!” Again the Captain, unruffled, calmly said, “Sound the alarm; all hands on deck, man the battle stations; and bring me my red shirt.” They fought the pirates and won another resounding victory.ship at sea full sail

After a few weeks of calm seas, and no further attacks, the first mate confided in the Captain. “Sir, I have served on many ships under other Captains, but I’ve never seen anyone like you. One thing puzzles me:  it’s the red shirt. Why do you wear it in battle?”

The Captain replied, “It’s all about poise. I wear the red shirt in battle so that if I am wounded, my crew will not see me bleeding and then lose heart, giving up the fight.” The first mate was now more impressed than ever before as he saw both the wisdom and the poise of his Captain, as well as his thoughtfulness for his crew.

A few weeks later, the first mate rushed into the Captain’s quarters — more agitated than ever before — “Captain! Captain!” He exclaimed breathlessly, “We are surrounded by an entire armada of pirates on all sides!!”

“Very well,” the Captain calmly answered. “Sound the alarm; all hands on deck, man the battle stations; and bring me my brown pants!”

You might say this Captain was stalwart. Unflappable in any conflict, and prepared to do whatever necessary to carry on in victory. Perhaps we would do well to follow his example — albeit without the red shirt and brown pants! They won’t be necessary in our battles, for Christ has already won the victory…..and given it unto us.


The Lord Says

“Behold, they shall surely gather together, but not by Me,” the Lord tells us in Isaiah. “Whosoever shall gather together against you shall fall for your sake. “No weapon that is formed against you shall prosper; and every tongue that rises against you in judgment you will condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD, and their righteousness is of me, says the LORD.” (Isaiah 54:15,17). David&Goliath

“What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31). Did you know that is who you are from God’s perspective? Do you see yourself today only thru your own eyes, or does your faith look upward so that you can see yourself through God’s eyes? Whether you feel it or not, you are a stalwart follower of Christ — for those are the only kind He has.

Whatever hardship you are facing, you can handle it, you can endure it…..you can overcome it. Whatever giant you are battling, you can fell him with one stone from God’s word — one promise spoken by God. Whatever sorrow, grief, pain, and heartbreak you are experiencing right now – Jesus is with you, and will see you through it.

The Good News Bible says, “Every test that you have experienced is the kind that normally comes to people. But God keeps His promise, and He will not allow you to be tested beyond your power to remain firm. At the time you are put to the test, He will give you the strength to endure it, and so provide you with a way out.” (I Corinthians 10:13, GNB) If God can deliver the Hebrew children from the fiery furnace, and Daniel from the lion’s den; if He can lift Jeremiah out of the dungeon, and bring Jonah out of the belly of the whale; if He can raise Jesus from the dead — then He can deliver you.


Speaking from the Heart

I know this is bold and straight forward, but consider this. As I write this I am a man whom the doctor has told, “You only have six months left to live.” Well, maybe; maybe not. for you see — that’s only what the doctor says. But, there is another Voice that has promised me a banquet table in the presence of mine enemies – after I pass THROUGH the valley of the shadow of death. heart bandaid

And the banquet table set by the Lord will provide me the blessing and anointing needed to finish my course with joy; rising from the meal, goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life. And THEN I will dwell in the House of The Lord forever.

This is what God has spoken to me. So while I am experiencing bouts of great pain caused by the damage done to my nerves when shingles ravaged my body; and while I labor under the loss of energy and discomforting bloating that comes with congestive heart failure; and even though I cry out to God sometimes in near despair, wondering if all is lost – nevertheless, we will see which word prevails.

I’m no hero, but I choose to stand with Paul, who said, “Wherefore, sirs, be of good cheer: for I believe God, that it shall be even as it was told me” (Acts 27:25). I do this because “God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent: hath he said, and shall he not do it? or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good?” (Numbers 23:19).

I pray that I may to the end be as Abraham of old, “fully persuaded that, what God had promised, He was able also to perform” (Romans 4:21). For, “I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto Him against that day” (2 Timothy 1:12).

Thus do I stand. And yes, for the record, I am wearing brown pants.


 A Prayer

a child prays

My prayer for you is that the Lord would speak a promise to your heart, and then give you the courage that comes from faith, and that you may indeed stand true and firm as a stalwart follower of Christ through whatever ordeal you may be facing in this hour.

We are more than conquerors in Christ because, as Paul put it, “I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:13). I like the way the Contemporary English version says it, “Christ gives me the strength to face anything.” May The Lord bless you with this strength today!


Questions for Discussion Group

Here is a way you can share this truth with others. Print out the PDF version of this Devotional — click HERE; then, after you have printed the document, make copies and distribute among a group of friends. Meet together, read the devotional, and then use the following questions to help lead a discussion time.

  1. Tell of a time when you faced something you thought was absolutely more than you could handle.
  1. Describe how God helped you through a really difficult situation.
  1. What promise from God’s Word keeps you going no matter what?
  1. Overall, what is the one thing you can take from this Lesson that will help you the most right now?
  1. Who do you know that could use this truth in their lives right now?

    TruthWorks Ministries is a non-profit ministry, depending solely upon love offerings or honorariums generated by speaking invitations; and upon the generosity of readers like you through contributions made online. For info on how you can partner with us click on the “Support TruthWorks” link located at the top of our website. Thank You!

The Truth that Carries Us Onward

A man went to the doctor complaining of an aching body. The doctor examined him and exclaimed, “You have a strange and rare disease. I regret to inform you that you will be dead in six months!”bad news The man was shocked. “What shall I do?” he asked.

The doctor replied, “Move to the deepest part of rural Mississippi, buy a goat farm, and marry a poor immigrant widow with eight young children; cut off all electrical power and telephone connection to the outside world, including internet access; and eat only beans and wieners.”

“Are you crazy,” the man responded, “why in the world would I want to do that if I only have six months left to live?”

“Because,” the doctor answered, “it will be the longest six months of your life!”


Have you ever been in the midst of something awful that seemed like it went on forever? This past year or so has felt like that to us. Indeed, it has been a hard timlong and winding roade for many people, for many reasons. Maybe it was hard on you.

For us personally there have been many challenges and setbacks, as well as tremendous victories and advances. We have laughed and cried, hoped and sighed, trusted and tried. We have labored hard and gained very little, and then labored little and have been rewarded with much. Such contradictions shake our deepest assumptions.

We have dreamed and screamed, fussed and, yes, sometimes cussed. We have prayed a little harder, stayed a little longer, and been made a little stronger. We have hit the bull’s-eye dead center at times, and also on other occasions missed our target by miles. Our theme song has been “The Long and Winding Road.”

I must admit to a measure of bewilderment, for like so many others I too prayed “The Prayer of Jabez” — “O that you would bless me indeed and enlarge my borders!” (1 Chr.4:10). I fully expected the Lord to expand my borders and fill my life with blessings aplenty. But now, having been stretched further than I could ever possibly imagine through unbearable pain and deep sorrow, which I would not wish even upon an enemy, I can stand with David the Psalmist and pray, “O, You have enlarged me in distress!” (Psalm 4:1, KJV).

Sometimes God speaks in code language. When you say, “O Lord, enlarge me!” He hears you say, “O Lord afflict me with such distress that I have nowhere to turn but unto You, and then hide Yourself for a while so that my distress turns to despair; and then at the last possible second, when despair has seemingly drawn its last breath….then show Yourself strong on my behalf! And after that, then do it all over again – many times!” Be aware of what you ask for.

Charles Spurgeon said, “Many men owe the grandeur of their lives to the tremendous difficulties they have faced.”

Perhaps the finest and clearest example of how distress refines our lives and advances God’s work in us and through us is found in an excerpt from the diary of the Apostle Paul, taken from First Corinthians 4 thru 6 in The Message. If you will bear with me a bit longer, I’d like to give you what he said about it all.


Excerpts from Paul’s Diary

paul-the-apostle

“Since God has so generously let us in on what He is doing, we’re not about to throw up our hands and walk off the job just because we run into occasional hard times.

“We carry this Message around in the unadorned clay pots of our ordinary lives, to prevent anyone from confusing God’s incomparable power with us. As it is, there’s not much chance of that. You know for yourselves that we’re not much to look at. We’ve been surrounded and battered by troubles, but we’re not demoralized; we’re not sure what to do, but we know that God knows what to do; we’ve been spiritually terrorized, but God hasn’t left our side; we’ve been thrown down, but we haven’t broken.

“So we’re not giving up. How could we! Even though on the outside it often looks like things are falling apart on us, on the inside – where God is making new life – not a day goes by without His unfolding grace. These hard times are small potatoes compared to the coming good times! “Compared to what’s coming, living conditions around here seem like a stopover in an unfurnished shack. See, God has put a little of heaven in our hearts so we’ll never settle for anything less down here. man in praise

“People are watching us as we stay our post, alertly, unswervingly — in hard times, tough times, bad times; when we’re beaten up, jailed, and mobbed; working hard, working late, working without eating; with pure heart, clear head, steady hand; in gentleness, holiness, and honest love; when we’re telling the truth, and when God’s showing His power; when we’re doing our best setting things right; when we’re praised, and when we’re blamed; slandered and honored; true to our word, though distrusted; ignored by the world, but recognized by God; terrifically alive, though rumored to be dead; beaten within an inch of our lives, but refusing to die; immersed in tears, yet always filled with deep joy; living on handouts, yet enriching many; having nothing, having it all!

“O my dear friends, I can’t tell you how much I long for you to enter this wide-open, spacious life!” (Well, sign me up today!)

Listen to how Paul concludes: “Now isn’t it wonderful all the ways in which this distress has goaded you closer to God? You’re more alive, more concerned, more sensitive, more reverent, more human, more passionate, and more responsible. Looked at from any angle – you’ve come through this with purity of heart. And that is what God was after all along!”


Summary – The Truth that Carries Us Onward

Let me summarize this with four words that will help you focus in your times of distressing growth.

#1 PERSEVERANCE – Paul said, “we’re not about to throw up our hands and walk off the job just because we run into occasional hard times.” He goes on in the following verse to make the case that we carry the treasure of heaven in our “clay pots”, and are on a mission to bring God’s blessings to many around us. Then, almost in defiance against the darkness he says, “So we’re not giving up. How could we!” Never underestimate the power of simply staying with it. One never knows when the next step will be the breakthrough you’ve been expecting.

#2 PERSPECTIVE – Paul writes, “Even though on the outside it often looks like things are falling apart on us, on the inside – where God is making new life – not a day goes by without His unfolding grace. These hard times are small potatoes compared to the coming good times!”

telescope My good friend, Pastor Rick White, says, “You’d be amazed at the view you have when you stand on Mt. Perspective.” This is where we see things from God’s point of view; and, oh, what a difference it makes! “All things DO work together for good, for those who love God and are called according to His purpose” (Rom.8:28).

#3 POISE – Again we read Paul’s words, “People are watching us as we stay our post.” We truly have no idea how many lives watch as we labor, ever hoping for our success; for it lifts their spirits to believe that God will come through for them also. Even if you feel totally alone, abandoned, and forgotten – there is somebody watching. And it matters what you do next.

#4 PURITY – Finally Paul writes, “Now isn’t it wonderful all the ways in which this distress has goaded you closer to God? You’ve come through this with purity of heart. And that is what God was after all along!”


A Prayer a child praysMy prayer for you is that the Lord would give you the perseverance that comes from perspective, so that you may maintain your poise as He brings you more and more to a place of purity. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.

“Now may the God of hope make you full of joy and peace through faith, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit, your whole life and outlook may be radiant with hope!” (Romans 15:13, Bible in Basic English, and Philipps NT)


Questions for Discussion Group Here is a way you can share this truth with others. Print out the PDF version of this Devotional — click The Truth that Carries us Onward – make copies and distribute among a group of friends. Meet together, read the devotional, and then use the following questions to help lead a discussion time.

  1. Describe briefly a time in your life when distress brought you closer to God.
  1. Have you ever felt like giving up? What was it that kept you going?
  1. What would you say is one great lesson you have learned as you look back over the way the Lord led you to this moment?
  1. What one thing shakes your poise more than any other?
  1. In what ways would you say God could purify your heart more?
  1. Overall, what is the one thing you can take from this Lesson that will help you the most right now?

 


TruthWorks Ministries is a non-profit ministry, depending solely upon love offerings or honorariums generated by speaking invitations; and upon the generosity of readers like you through contributions made online. For info on how you can partner with us click on the “Support TruthWorks” link located at the top of our website. Thank You!

“Ladies and Gentlemen….”

bigmouthOK Everybody….we are ready; just a few tweaks left before we lift off, which will happen Monday, September 15th.

I want to remind you of some changes you need to know about. First, the daily devotions will no longer be daily. I realize that for some of this this will be disappointing, but I assure you — I think you will like what we are doing even better. Rather than post short, brief devotional thoughts — we instead are going to publish devotionals that are a bit longer to hold more content, and also a bit deeper as we delve into and develop themes of Truth. For the record, the daily devotions will still appear in the archives, and remain there for sometime.Notebook

On a practical note, I would encourage you to buy a three ring note book, print out the devotions and build your own collection to have as a hard copy. That way you can read them as often as you wish. And share them with others.

That brings me to the second change you will notice in the new devotional format. Not only will it be longer, but at the end of each devotion will be a series of question to help facilitate a discussion — like at a home meeting, or a Bible Study. And best of all, you will find a link to a full PDF version of the devotional which will be appear in “newsletter format”, which you can print and share with others.

So be sure to visit on Monday, September 15th, and test drive the new Rylisms page at TruthWorks.

Have a Great Weekend!

“I Had a Feeling….”

It is as I suspected. The web designers dropped the ball, and put the whole website launch  thing behind schedule. Please bear with me a bit longer as we sort through the unresolved issues. They have assured me things will be corrected in the next couple of days.

party pooperSo, for now, the “Big Launch Party” is on hold. Its like getting to the airport only to discover they have cancelled your flight, and booked you on the next one. So, stand by. I will let you know when the actual BUTTON will be pushed, and the new and improved devotions are going to be posted.

This much I promise you — it will be wort the wait. You are going to love the changes I’ve made.

Until then…..

Notice the eSword Link?

It is no exaggeration whatever when I say that millions of people around the world are reaping the vast benefits of the eSword program. To be factual, as of January 2013, the 25,000,000th download occurred! It is now being used in 230 countries around the world!

“What is it?”, you might ask (if you don”t already know). Simply this — the most comprehensive Bible Study tool you can find, anywhere — and it’s FREE.

Did you get that? It’s FREE.bible_light

There are several translations of the Bible – FREE. There are several commentaries by some of the most renowned scholars in history — FREE. There are scores of research and resource books in the Reference Library — FREE.

There is a Graphics Viewer, which provides multiple Bible Maps, Charts, and  historical works of art — FREE.

There are several Dictionaries to help you study the words of the BIble — FREE.

There are several Daily Devotions listed under the “TOOLS” tab — FREE. By the way, Rylisms Daily Devotions are there as well!

There is a place to write your own notes, comments, and thoughts about a verse of Scripture you are studying, and then print it through an word processor program embedded in the software — FREE.

I could go on and on. I have been using eSword for almost fouorteen years now, and rarely need to look anywhere else. The early success of eSword was so astonishing that many Bible software providers have now partnered with eSword, and some of their modules are available for a fee, which (if you want) you can purchase.

The bottom line is this — eSword is hands down the single, most comprehensive Bible Study tool you will ever find that is 100% FREE….and ready for you to download now.

You can install it on your PC, your iPAD, or your MAC — FREE.

So what are you waiting for? Click the link in the sidebar, get the software, and — who knows — you just might end up writing some devotions of your own! If you are on a mobile device and cannot see the link, click www.e-sword.net

James

It’s Just Around the Corner….

steel in your convictionsYou can already see some of the changes we have made in the new look of the site — cleaner, simple, nothing gaudy. The video link will not work until the first of next week….there are things that still need to be worked out….but you’re gonna love it once it opens up!

There are some other changes you need to know about. First, the daily devotions will no longer be daily. I realize that for some of this this will be disappointing, but I assure you — I think you will like what we are doing even better. Rather than post short, brief devotional thoughts — we instead are going to publish devotionals that are a bit longer to hold more content, and also a bit deeper as we delve into and develop themes of Truth. For the record, the daily devotions will still appear in the archives, and remain there for sometime.

three ring journalI would encourage you to buy a three ring note book, print out the devotions and build your own collection to have as a hard copy. That way you can read them as often as you wish. And share them with others.

That brings me to the second change you will notice in the new devotional format. Not only will it be longer, but at the end of each devotion will be a series of question to help facilitate a discussion — like at a home meeting, or a Bible Study. And best of all, you will find a link to a full PDF version of the devotional which will be appear in “newsletter format”, which you can print and share with others.

There will be other features added as we move along, so bear with us while we work out the glitches that inevitably occur when you change horses in the middle of a race!

It’s Time for a Change…

“To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven” (Ecclesiastes 3:1)

Mark Twain said, “The only one who likes change  is a wet baby.”

I read a piece of graffiti somewhere (I think it was in the men’s room of St. Thomas Episcopal Church) that read, “Expect change from everything but a vending machine.”

Change. It is a fact of life. and most times, it for the better. It’s time for a change for me.

"I'll Be Baaack!" (By the way, this really isn't a picture of me; just in case you couldn't tell)

“I’ll Be Baaack!”
(By the way, this really isn’t a picture of me; just in case you couldn’t tell)

Over the past five years I have posted daily devotionals that are short and pointed, and hopefully meaningful to many.

There have many several times where I have re-posted a few  because my reading audience has grown and I wanted to give others an opportunity to read what they had missed.

And on a few stretches I simply needed a break to reboot; so I thought if something was worth posting at all, it wouldn’t hurt to post it again.

But now its time for a change.

Over the next few weeks I will be rebuilding my website, adding new features and content — video, audio, etc. During this time I will not be uploading my daily devotions. As soon as the changes are made and the new site ready to publish, I will let you know. Or, as Conan the Theologian said, “I’ll be baaack!”

In the mean time I will leave the posts already published available for you to read. Just select from the drop down menu on the right side of the page to do so.

Stay tuned for a new and improved site, dedicated to helping you experience God’s Presence.

James Ryle

 

Go Home to Your Friends

“Go home to your friends and tell them the great things the Lord has done.” (Mark 5:19).

“Hallelujah! Jesus reigns!!” As the good news of the Great King’s triumph over the powers of darkness began to spread, delusional collaborators with the evil empire sought to intercept the heavenly couriers and prevent the message of Grace from reaching the ears of captives held throughout their conquered kingdom.

For many years now this phase of the conflict has been contested, and the tide is turning day by day. Yet, there are scores still in darkness who have not heard the liberating truth of God’s Grace. Will you tell them?

It is a question only you can answer.

You now are knighted by Grace with the mandate of God’s mercy, love, forgiveness and goodness. “It’s not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit,” says the Lord. “And the God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly, because the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ is with you. Amen.” (Romans 16:20)

passing the batonMy role as Tour Guide for this trip is finished; but yours has just begun. What the Lord has done for us, we now must do for others. Go home to your friends and tell them the great things the Lord has done.

And right here I must confess to you that, while I have been to this place called Grace many times, this was my first time ever serving as a tour guide bringing others to it! Oh, yes, I have spoken about Grace on many occasions and told others of the wonders of this place, but this was my first time actually bringing people along with me on the journey.

And if I can do it, so can you. I’m passing the baton into your hands!

First, you must become filled with the wonder of this place. You have got to see it, and believe it for yourself. You must let this revelation of Grace renew your mind, so that your witness of it to others will carry conviction that does not waver in the face of long-standing traditions.

Second, you must remember that the contemporary thinking about Grace has long been unchallenged, and it will not easily yield ground to traveling pilgrims – no matter how passionate we may be.

Third, you must be patient. Some will see it for themselves; others will not. This is a matter for the Lord of Grace to resolve; not you. As for you, “walk in wisdom toward them that are without, redeeming the time. Let your speech be always  with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man” (Colossians 4:5,6).

Here is a practical plan that just might work.

If you will tell two friends, and take them through the process just like I did for you; and they tell two friends, and take them through the process just like you did for them; and then they tell two friends…and so on, and so on, and do on – well, it’s only a matter of time before a Grace Awakening occurs, and a Grace Revolution transforms the contemporary Church into a spiritual dynamo that shakes our world with real power and truth.

If you will tell two friends, and take them through the process just like I did for you; and they tell two friends, and take them through the process just like you did for them; and then they tell two friends…and so on, and so on, and so on – well, it’s only a matter of time before a Grace Awakening occurs, and a Grace Revolution transforms the contemporary Church into a spiritual dynamo that shakes our world with real power and truth.

No more hype and bravado; no more banging of cymbals and prancing of ponies; no more pontificating and chest-beating – just GRACE: the empowering presence of God enabling us to be who He created us to be, and to do what He has called us to do – right where we are. For the light that shines the farthest, shines brightest at home!

Do this and watch what happens! Print out these posts and host a group of your friends once a week at your home. Become their tour guide and take them on this journey, just as I have done for you. Read the posts and engage in a hearty discussion together.

Imagine.

If enough of us do this, then its only a matter of time until we will experience a Grace Awakening across the nation…and dare I be so bold as to believe…around the World!

Tell them to come with you on a journey to a place called grace. Tell them not to pack a lot of bags. Tell them about the Tavern, where they can visit with the Apostle Paul; and the Ancient Library, where they can see the gold beneath the surface of the water, illumined by the Holy Ghost.

Tell them about Peter walking with us on the road. Show them your Tour Guide and tell them how they can get their own copy – and take their own journey. Tell them about the Conference on Grace in Great Hall of Truth, and the amazing sights and sounds of Monumental Park. And, yes, tell them about the Stones of the dark corner of the Disgraced.

Tell them about this place where you experience a power because you meet a Person. Tell them about a place called Grace. And then take them to it.

“Go home to your friends and tell them the great things the Lord has done.” (Mark 5:19).

And as you cross the finish line of your service to the Lord, you can say with Paul, “I am what I am by the grace of God. And His grace given unto me was not in vain, for I labored more abundantly than they all. Yet, it was not I; but was the grace of God in me.”

The Gateway to the Kingdom

“Go ye therefore into all the world and preach the Gospel to every creature.” (Mark 16:15).

long and winding roadAt the west end of Monumental Park stood a huge archway called The Gateway to the Kingdom. Inscribed in the Arch were these words: “Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear” (Hebrews 12:28)

We supposed that by passing through this Gateway we would be taken from glory to glory; you know, like Ezekiel caught up in the Spirit and transported to realms beyond our imagination. So we were quite shocked when we stepped through the Gateway and saw that it actually brought right back to where we had at first started our journey to a place called Grace!

It was as if we had not moved from there at all.

That’s when it struck us profoundly – all we had seen and experienced during this long journey to a place nearby, had actually happened inside us as we stood in that one location!  “Iti Swhe Reyo Uare,” I thought to myself. A whisper then came into my ear, “Be still and know that I am God – right where you are.”

Then we all heard the voice of the Lord say, “What I have done to you, I will now do through you.”

In that moment we looked and saw a series of roads that went out in all directions — over hill and dale, across rivers and oceans, to places far and wide.

And there was a River. Seeing it reminded me most vividly of the vision Ezekiel told of a river that flowed from the Temple. It measured ankle deep at the start, and then incrementally deepened – knee deep, waist deep, and then a mighty river which was over our heads.

Then Ezekiel saw that this great river flowed into the Dead Sea!  And as its living waters enter into the stagnant pool of this fallen world, a miraculous transformation occurred. “And it shall be,” said the Lord, “that every living thing that moves, wherever the rivers go, will live. There will be a very great multitude of fish, because these waters go there; for they will be healed, and everything will live wherever the river goes.” (Ezekiel 47:9)

Paul stood at the Gateway, together with Peter, James and John, Timothy, Apollos and several others, and called out to us, saying, “We then, as workers together with him, beseech you also that ye receive not the grace of God in vain.” (2 Corinthians 6:1).

“You are that River,” Paul said. “It’s time for you to flow forth into all the world, bringing the redeeming power of God’s Grace to all you meet – as you go. It would be a sad thing indeed if you saw, and heard, and experienced all of this Grace for no purpose; if it all flowed into you only to be held in an empty place in your souls.

“I beseech you, therefore, my brethren; you must not hear this truth with no intention of doing anything about it. That would be directly opposed to God’s will. We all are with you in this as workers together! Please do NOT receive the grace of God in vain. Do not hear this message and dismiss it without thought. Do not see this truth and then close your eyes to its wonder and potential in and through your life. And do not keep it from others.”

Then Peter spoke up, “Remember how I told you to be stewards of the manifold grace of God? To take the many gifts he has blessed you with, and minister the same to others all around you? Well, if I may use one of my familiar quotes, ‘This is that!’ Freely you have received; freely give!”

Suddenly we realized that our journey to a place called Grace was in fact a recruiting trip to the mission field! And we were more than ready to go!!

And all those who had hosted us in a place called Grace called out once more in one voice, saying, “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.” (Rev 22:21)

“Are We There Yet?”

And Jesus said unto him, “Thou art not far from the kingdom of God.” (Mar 12:34)

are we there yetStanding at the west end of Monumental Park with a group of happy pilgrims taking in the sights and sounds of God’s amazing Grace, we heard a fellow in our group call out and ask, “Are we there yet?” His voice was a bit strained, and betrayed a measure of mild exasperation.

“What do you mean?” a fellow traveler asked.

“The Place called Grace – are we there yet?”

Everybody was stunned. I must admit that I myself was a bit perplexed at this fellow’s disconnection to the moment. How could he not know where we were?

“Dude, we’ve been here for quite awhile!” somebody else in the group replied.

Realizing this guy needed help, I then said, “At the start of our Journey I told you all that we would be traveling far to a place that is nearby; and once we are there, you will realize that we’ve actually been here all along. Remember me saying that to you?”

“So, are you saying we have arrived?” the fellow then asked.

“You’re the only one who can answer that,” I replied. “Grace is a place where you experience a power because you have met a Person.”

That Person is the Lord Jesus, the King of Grace and Glory. The power is the incomprehensible influence of His redeeming presence in all things, at all times. And the Place of Grace is everywhere humble men and women live freely to do God’s will fully.

“So, let me ask the question a different way,” I  then said. “Have you arrived?”

The perplexed brother stared at me in silence.

Perhaps a short story will serve to illustrate my meaning.

Years ago at a youth camp the guest speaker presented a compelling message for surrendering our all to Jesus Christ. What made his talk so compelling was the glow upon his face. This was real to him; and we could tell. He was “standing in a place called Grace.”

At one point in his message he told us about an experience he himself had at this very camp years earlier when he was a student. He had taken a walk into the woods after an evening meeting and found a spot where he fell on his knees and cried out to God, “Oh, God! Do in me anything You need to do, so You can do through me everything You want to do!”

The power of the Holy Spirit fell upon him as he prayed, and he rose to “walk in newness of life; empowered to love and serve the Lord.”

We were riveted by his story. One student approached him after our evening meeting and asked, “Preacher, can you take me to that spot?”

“Certainly,” the camp preacher said, “Follow me.” And they headed off into the woods. After they had walked for several minutes, the student asked, “Are we there, yet?”

“We’re getting close,” the preacher said. And they walked on further. And again, after some distance was covered, the student asked, “Are we almost there?”

“It won’t be much longer,” the preacher said. “It should be just a little bit further.”

They walked on deeper into the woods, getting farther and farther from camp. The young man grew increasingly restless, and asked once more – “Are we close to that spot?”

bowing“It shouldn’t be too much further,” the preacher said.

After several minutes of more hiking, the student fell to his knees and cried out in desperation, “Oh, God! I can’t wait any longer! Do in me what you did in this preacher!”

God’s presence suddenly flooded the young man’s heart, as he wept for joy. And the preacher smiled and said, “There’s the spot, right there!”

Get it? Grace is a place where you experience a power because you have met a Person. Nobody knows but YOU when that moment occurs. It is that moment when you realize that you cannot, and you will not, live another day outside this place called Grace.

So let me now ask the question — “Have you arrived there yet?”