“PRECONCEPTION”

“And Saul, yet breathing out threatenings and slaughter (murder) AGAINST the disciples of the Lord, went unto the high priest, and desired (asked) of him letters to Damascus to the synagogues, that if he found any of this way (followers of Christ), whether they were men or women, he might bring them bound (arrested) unto Jerusalem.

And as he journeyed, he came near Damascus; and SUDDENLY there SHINED ROUND ABOUT HIM A LIGHT FROM HEAVEN: and he FELL to the earth, and HEARD a voice saying into him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?

And he said WHO ART THOU, LORD? and the Lord said, I am Jesus who thou persecutest: it is hard to kick against the pricks. (pricks meaning goads, it all meant that was USELESS for Saul to even attempt to resist the Lord)

And he TREMBLING and ASTONISHED said, what wilt thou have me to do? And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the city, and IT SHALL be told thee what thou must do.

And the men with journeyed with him stood speechless, HEARING a voice, but SEEING NO MAN. And Saul arose from the earth; and when his eyes were opened, he saw no man: but they led him by the hand, and brought him into Damascus.  And he was there three days WITHOUT SIGHT, and NEITHER DID EAT OR DRINK.

And there was a certain disciple at Damascus, named Ananias; AND TO HIM SAID THE LORD IN A VISION, Ananias. And he said, Behold, I am here, Lord.

And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the street which is called Straight, and enquire in the house of Judas for one called Saul, for, behold, he prayeth, And hath seen in a vision a man named Ananias coming in, and putting his hand on him, that he may receive his sight.

THEN Ananias answered, Lord, I have HEARD BY MANY OF THIS MAN, HOW MUCH EVIL (harm) HE HATH DONE to thy saints at Jerusalem: And he hath authority from the chief priests to bind all that call upon thy name.

BUT the Lord said unto him, Go thy way: for he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel; For I will shew him how great things he must suffer for my names sake.” Acts 9: 1-16

Now got some serious events going on right there, as we know it as “the conversion of Saul/Paul” God was taking a man whom had made his LIFE all about persecuting Christians and at that time to even bind women and drag them off was especially despicable but what Saul did, he did one hundred percent, and gave it all he had to give.

And the beauty is that his TRUE PREDESTINATION was a total 360 and the cause he so hated would be the cause that he would ultimately and WILLING GIVE HIS LIFE in favor of!

And once his spiritual eyes were OPENED to the Lord, he did not even try to fight it because he knew he had BEEN WRONG and that he was now had. The other insight into all things human with this, is that Saul, whose entire being would be changed, EVEN his name, as he would now journey roads that led to so much greater than Damascus, roads that could only be navigated in his PREORDAINED, DESTINATION of walking those roads no longer as Saul the Enforcer, but as Paul the Apostle and truly remarkably, while Saul was YET blinded, and horrified, in complete darkness, God ALREADY told Ananias His own divine plan for Paul’s mission!

So see, Ananias, even though he was TERRIFIED of Saul, knew the work Paul would do BEFORE Paul even knew! So we are going in this post to the land of preconceptions, you know, that nasty little place that we arrive at when we decide a persons worth based on what we HEAR, just as Ananias had HEARD all these things about Saul, and while these things HAD BEEN TRUE after GOD CHANGED PAUL, they no longer held any merit and often we judge others based on pre-Christ lives and ancient history and how are we benefitting them, witnessing to them, or furthering the Kingdom of God by doing this?

pre·con·cep·tion
[ˌprēkənˈsepSH(ə)n]

NOUN
preconceptions (plural noun) · pre-conception (noun) · pre-conceptions (plural noun) · pre-conception (noun) · pre-conceptions (plural noun)
a preconceived idea or prejudice.

(from Oxford Dictionary)

I had the most strange encounter, I had recently met a person and pick up no weird vibes or maliciousness coming from them and it happened that another person, I had never met, strikes up a conversation and we start talking and they bring up this other person and that I should know them and they proceed to tell me in about three minutes the entire life history of the other, and of course, the good, the bad, and the most of all the horrific.

And of course I am trying to figure out, in my head, why on earth did they feel the need to tell me all that?

I often remember something the “old-timers” always preached.. that we CAN KILL A PERSON with our words, we KILL their reputation, we KILL their testimony by CHOOSING to share every single detail of their lives NEEDLESSLY and usually those details are never of any good they may have done, BUT all the bad, all the mistakes, and the WORST possible “proofs of character” or rather proof of LACK thereof.

And as I questioned all this, in my heart, the sovereignty of God and goodness of Him came shining through as I actually overheard a conversation between the person “in question” and another, and they were actually talking about GOD, and they used a scripture that they said had helped them through a situation. And all that was said, was all I needed to hear because I know as a minister, that the wording they chose is only chosen by people who truly believe.

So anyway, I pondered the whole deal, and I was like, what was THAT all about?

And I came up with this conclusion, of course sometimes we are WARNED in life, BUT what if, sometimes, we are told things to make us fear another SO THAT WE WILL NOT SHARE THE GOSPEL, things told us so that we will be so guarded and not give a person even a moment, the benefit of doubt and to prevent us from even trying to see WHO they are in Christ, whether of not, they even ARE in Christ YET.

Just as Ananias had to be reassured by the Lord, sometimes we need to ask God to reassure us, we have no business in the pasts of others, we WERE NOT in their past but if God has placed us on the same path, in their present, even for  a moment, we owe them the same respect and opportunity to “prove” their character as we ourselves desire.

Because as the Bible so eloquently states in Romans 3:22,23:

EVEN the righteousness of God which is BY FAITH of JESUS CHRIST unto ALL and upon ALL that BELIEVE: for THERE IS NO DIFFERENCE: For ALL HAVE SINNED, AND COME (fall) SHORT OF THE GLORY OF GOD.”

That is the deal, MAYBE God wants us to try to see others AS He sees them, He SEES them as what they CAN be, what He created them to be, in the spiritual work that He predestined and when He forgives, He FORGIVES and FORGETS and He never considers those sins again, so why should we?

Why are we allowed to hold against others actions that we had no stake in or right to accuse now? And if we do CHOOSE to hold those negative thoughts, attitudes, and PRECONCEPTIONS about them, then WE could very well be the ones who cause them to stumble and cause them to stay who they once were rather than being lights and encouraging them to have faith and embrace who they can become in Christ!

And again, I want to STRESS that if you KNOW a person to be in danger through another person, or that they are ABSOLUTELY going to cause harm, BY ALL MEANS warn whoever is in that path, and I want to STRESS, I personally DO NOT BELIEVE we have to be buddies with people who have wrecked our lives, we do have to forgive but we are not required to hang out with them.

BUT please really, really consider what NEEDS to be said about  a person or their past BEFORE saying it, and ask YOURSELF this question, IF that IS who they STILL are, or WHO they STILL want to be, would they NOT STILL BE THERE IN THAT SAME PLACE, SITUATION, OR LIFESTYLE? 

People DO NOT change until THEY WANT to change and we NEED to be discreet in our disclosures (UNLESS, they are warranted) and LET them change!

Thanks for reading! Have a Blessed week, Love & Peace till next time!

Φλογίζω Σαλπιζω NBJ 2017

“Done Deal”

When Jesus chose to come to earth through the womb of a humble virgin and chose a stable as the destination for his arrival and He chose a poor carpenter as His earthly step-father, it would be to the confusion and confounding of those who awaited the Messiah to be born in splendor, in the finest of palaces with the proverbial golden spoon in His mouth.

And it worked quite nicely, He wanted those who came to Him to come to Him because HE IS not because of who thought THOUGHT Him to be. Only a true King could have such a test to reveal His true servants from those who just wanted His prestige. As we know even after hearing His very words spoken in their own ears, the Pharisees and Jews could still not grasp the thought that the loving, gentle, ORDINARY man could possibly be the Son of the one true God.

Although He did come as ordinary and unpretentious, No matter how it may have appeared we know that HE IS ANYTHING BUT ORDINARY! I am not so sure that we have moved quite far enough away from those thoughts that also easily sway our minds.

We often ignore that still. small voice because our ears are striving to hear a loud proclamation. Sometimes we are so enamored with the thought of having our worlds rocked that we completely miss the fact that the ground IS already shaking.

We can completely miss what is right in front of us, simply because it does not look like we had pictured it to look. It does not sound exactly as we thought it would and by holding onto to OUR thoughts we can miss out on a lot. Just as He said, His ways ARE higher than our ways and His thoughts ARE higher than are thoughts, it rests on forgetting what we ever thought in the first place and acknowledging His will.

I used this particular passage in a former now non-existent post, but I would like to revisit that SAME thought here, again. This is the amazing story of Peter being arrested, imprisoned, supernaturally  freed and those who WERE praying for his freedom, NOT BELIEVING when he literally showed up on their doorstep! We’ll pick up here:

ACTS 12:4-16: “And when he had apprehended him, he put him in prison, and delivered him to four quaternions (squads of four) of soldiers, to keep him: intending after Easter to bring him forth to the people.

 Peter was therefore kept in prison: but PRAYER WAS MADE WITHOUT CEASING OF THE CHURCH UNTO GOD FOR HIM. And when Herod would have (was about to) bring him forth, the same night, Peter was sleeping BETWEEN two soldiers, BOUND WITH TWO CHAINS and the keepers before the door kept the prison (guards were also at the door).

And, behold, the ANGEL of the Lord came upon him (stood by him), and  A LIGHT SHINED  IN THE PRISON: and he smote Peter on the side, and RAISED HIM UP, saying, Arise up quickly. and HIS CHAINS FEEL OFF FROM HIS HANDS.

And the angel said unto him, Gird thyself, and bind on thy sandals (get dressed and put shoes on).  And so he did. And he saith unto him cast thy garment about thee, and FOLLOW ME. And he went out, and followed him: and wist not that it was true which was done by the angel (did not know for sure if it was real) but THOUGHT he saw a vision. 

When they were passed the first and the second ward (guard posts) they came unto the IRON GATE that leadeth into the city; which OPENED TO THEM of his own accord (opened WITHOUT ANY HUMAN HELP): and they went out, and passed through one street; and the angel departed from him.

And when Peter was come to himself, he said, Now I know of a surety (for certain), that the Lord hath sent his angel, and hath delivered me out of the hand of Herod,  and from all the expectation of the people of the Jews.

And when he had considered the thing, he CAME to the house of Mary the mother of John, whose surname was Mark; where MANY WERE GATHERED TOGETHER PRAYING.

And as Peter KNOCKED AT THE DOOR OF THE GATE, a damsel came to hearken (answer the door) named Rhoda. And  when she KNEW Peter’s voice, she opened NOT the gate for gladness (she was so happy that she actually FORGOT to open the door) but RAN IN, and told how Peter stood before the gate.

And THEY SAID UNTO HER, THOU ART MAD (OUT OF YOUR MIND). BUT she CONSTANTLY affirmed that it was even so (true). Then they said it is his angel.  But Peter CONTINUED KNOCKING: and WHEN THEY HAD OPENED THE DOOR, AND SAW HIM, THEY WERE ASTONISHED.”

So much there, here they are praying and praying, seeking and seeking and Rhoda answers the door and she is so happy and overjoyed that she just forgets to open it. When she tells the others they just simply DO NOT BELIEVE it. Now again, maybe if God has sent an old dude leaning on a staff, with a long gray flowing beard, suing terms such as”Hearken, grand prayer warriors…” or sent thunder and lighting to flash as Peter approached, well maybe that was WHAT they thought they should receive as acknowledgment that their prayers had been heard. But no, they got Rhoda, and what they told her, actually translates to, “YOU ARE OUT OF YOUR MIND” so they are like, ” Well, that is just that crazy Rhoda,, making up stuff, just ignore her….you know she isn’t quite right in the head anyway.”

Cute side note, Rhoda must have not been too crazy, she did, after-all get an honorable mention in the book :)! But even after all that praying they STILL REFUSED TO BELIEVE, and decided that it was his angel. If it does not make sense to our human minds, we must FIND an explanation for it, right?

Not sure why we do these things. Do we doubt that our prayers will be answered? Do we really believe that it just COULD NOT be THAT simple? When actually, IT IS that simple. Do we feel that we need more grandeur? And do we feel we need that for the glory of God… or is it for us?

Do we just dislike the messenger and feel that we are worthy of a higher, more “spiritual” messenger? You know, like waiting on a group of herald angels to break down the door and proclaim the answer you have been seeking when actually all that is needed is FOR SOMEONE JUST ANSWER THE DOOR! And acknowledge WHO is standing there! 

We can miss many wonderful events by our own refusal to let God be God and answer AS HE calls and not get so caught up in the delivery or manifestation of these events. Just as His humble arrival to this earth heralded the greatest event of all time. What if the wise men had decided that the place the star led just didn’t look the part? The humble shepherds NEVER expected to hear an angelic chorus praising the birth of the Saviour… which IS EXACTLY WHY they were allowed to hear it! Don’t lose out on a done deal just because you refuse to open the door.

Φλογιζω Σαλπιζω NBJ 2016