There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.
There are many paths to Christ, but only One Christ.
How or when we find Him I believe is in His plan for our lives and not something we have great control over. God chooses who He gives sight too and what our ministry will be long before we were even born.
My story is powerful, any Saul to Paul conversion of a man who was suicidal and dead in his sins with seemingly no hope who in a moment of complete brokenness and surrender finds his life transformed makes for a great testimony.
Many times when I share God’s story of salvation in my life I hear from seasoned veterans of Christ, solid men who grew up in the church and have lived their lives in pursuit of God and His glory who “feel” they don’t have a story. They seemingly have a sense that their testimony is boring.
That breaks my heart!
What I want them to know is that like Job, a powerful testimony of survival and redemption only comes at the price of incredible suffering.
As an only child with broken parents I grew up physically, emotionally and sexually abused. The damage that does to the development of a person is almost beyond description. A life lived in nearly obsessive pursuit of what the world says will make you happy; career, money, entertainment, expensive toys, nice vacations, peer accolades which Solomon taught so well will all leave you empty.
And as the years rolled on and none of that worked to fix that lost and broken child the desire to unplug, escape, to not feel grew stronger and the addictions to alcohol, drugs, pornography, food and materialism all grew more out of control.
In the wake of all that was affairs with married women, a child out of wedlock, damaged relationships, depression, nearly 100lbs overweight through food addictions, health problems like becoming pre-diabetic, high blood pressure, heart problems and a pervasive emptiness that ultimately led toward thoughts of suicide.
Yes, I was given freedom from certain death in a spectacular moment of conversion. I was just a broken man plucked from the ashes by a grateful savior, the testimony is powerful.
But the message that God restored me for to share with the world is that you don’t have to go my route. The pain is too high and the suffering too great. The plan of God is that everybody is raised by Christ-loving parents who do the best they can to take a child born sinful and introduce them to God early so they don’t have to experience or induce mountains of pain that must be overcome.
That “I don’t have much of a testimony” that seemingly many elders in the church seem to almost feel like they missed out on is in actuality the greatest testimony of all. It is a life that was spared the incredible pain and suffering at the hands of evil, it was a childhood that went the way it was supposed too.
Does that mean it was perfect and pain free, no. But it means that you were handed down a relationship with Christ and have lived a life in reliance on God and He has blessed you with the ability to model healthy mature Christianity to people like me who have lived wrong my entire life and now ache for maturity and need it modeled before I can obtain it.
You are blessed with the opportunity to come alongside those new Christians and offer us a road map to deeper discipleship, to warn us when over-zealousness can lead to burnout or the trying to “fix” or “heal” everyone because we loose sight that it is God who heals and not us. Your life experience in the Word and Spirit is what this world needs.
We need less stories like mine and many more like yours.
Anyone who is in true relationship with Christ has a desire to bring hope and healing to a lost and broken world.
The message on my heart this morning is that by the grace of God everyone will experience the incredible joy and freedom that comes from knowing it is only the blood of Christ that sets us free.
And with that may the peace be known that EVERYONE is set free in their time and place to be best used in our life’s calling for the purposes of His glory.
Please don’t anyone ever think that your story is not God’s story. How I long, actually ache for the children of our world to understand the salvation of Christ, to seek and desire it and enter into relationship at as young an age as possible so they can grow up in reliance upon and in the safety of our Loving and Gracious Savior.
Trust me, nobody wants a testimony like those of the most broken. But for those like me that have that story, we were called to suffer and live as over-comers in His name so we could help those still suffering.
Redemption is possible at any age and on the heals of any sin. We cannot out-sin the cross.
The world is hurting and dying more each day. We are called to stand and proclaim the gospel from the rooftops as loud as we can; especially the truth found in today’s verse.
For many like me who have survived decades of internal suffering with shame our biggest enemy becomes self-condemnation and we have learned to survive by trying to “prove” our worth to others.
I know for me, in this first 3 years of struggling to learn who I really am in Christ I continue to battle the deep seated lies that I have to earn grace from God through good works and purity. My head knows that’s not true but my heart gives evidence that it hasn’t fully grasped that truth yet.
I believe some of the soul-wrenching strongholds of Satan that remain like a thorn in my heart will remain until I fully grasp that it is only The Blood of Christ that covers all.
There is no “cheap grace” nor is there “earned grace”. There is only grace.
I get the sense that God continues to allow me to get it wrong so He can reveal how He alone is the One who has it right. He gives us the Armor of God to equip us for spiritual battle on all war fronts and when we find ourselves behind enemy lines and overwhelmed in our weakness he offers only grace, compassion, forgiveness and encouragement to get up and press on.
He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” and he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep.
There is truly no condemnation for those who love Jesus. You know you love Him when your heart begins to break for the things that break His heart.
Still have sin in your life? WE ALL DO! Does that sin grieve your heart, frustrate you, make you crawl back to the foot of the cross in broken repentance. Then you have the Holy Spirit in you.
In our old lives, we not only didn’t call it sin, we pursued more of whatever “it” was. Today we don’t, today our heart breaks over the fear or glimpses we get of the old man or woman we used to be. That is normal, that is just proof that God loves us and is Sanctifying us in His time in His way.
We are EXACTLY where we are supposed to be on our journey, whether seasoned or new we are where we are because of His grace and mercy. Glory to God!
Perfectionism is the greatest killer of the Spirit within. It is the voice that says “you should know this stuff, how many times are you going to make the same mistakes, how many times must I forgive you” and draws us to feel great condemnation.
THERE IS NO CONDEMNATION FOR THOSE IN CHRIST JESUS
It can’t be said loud enough or too often.
For you, the seasoned veteran of Christ who has spent your whole life doing the best you can to glorify God, or like me who took 45 years of pain, suffering and living in grotesque sin and debauchery through blindness… our path to Christ may be different but our message of Christ is the same.
There is a Healer, His name is Jesus, may you find Him now
Father God, I thank you for the message on my heart this morning that reminds us that we are all the same, hungry beggars in need of Living Waters. You Lord are that source of nourishment, of life, of agape love that calls for us to simply focus our hearts, our lives, our every being on the One who gives us freedom to live out the Gospel as best we can. The people you used throughout history were human Lord, they were men, women and children who had faults, made mistakes, committed huge sins, at times succumbed to temptations and broke your laws… but in the end most all who were used by You and serve as an example for us today simply loved You, served You as best they could in their humanness, and You loved them and blessed them and gave us Your word so we could read and identify with them in our own broken lives. Thank you for calling us to become more Christ-like each day in our pursuit of You but offering the grace and compassion to simply say “I love you, get up, tend my sheep” when we come up short. Your faithfulness is what sustains us Lord, your grace and mercies are new each day and we humbly thank You for the price you paid. Give us the heart, vision and passion to find our personal ministry and empower us to press on for Your glory. In Jesus’ precious name I pray…