THE HERE AND NOW GOSPEL
by Pam Clark (firstname.lastname@example.org)
When I was real little, my dad and I got along great. But as life went on, he had some job frustrations and that obviously spilled over into the family. He would come home grumpy and it would make my mom grumpy and thus the kids because he didn’t have everything he needed inside to be “the perfect dad.”
Things got rocky, especially when times were tight financially. Kids will be kids and kids want what they want, and we kids could get disciplined at times with anger more than correction. As the oldest, a lot fell on me first. The enemy of course loved to get in there and make things seem worse. Everyone had their own issues.
I just went independent and a bit rebellious, and thank God I was sent to church as much as I was. The activities they had for kids probably saved me in a number of ways, but still for a season my family dropped out more as time went by and we each sought our own ways. But God has been faithful to bring us back in.
In my youth, I got into drugs and partying and loved to test the limits on things but still had sense enough to know I shouldn’t go totally overboard but I definitely didn’t fair that well, until….
Until a move of God came and pulled me in. Suddenly there was another force working on me and convicting me that all was not as it could and should be! Like other young believers I was accepting whatever I was fed and some of it was good and some of it needed further understanding.
I battled the forces of things I had dabbled in because I had opened the doors to those things. But thankfully as my hunger for God grew, so did my seeking and study and understanding. I came to understand over some time, the work of spiritual forces and how we can open and close doors by our binding and loosing, and by not getting involved in things we shouldn’t.
There are examples in the Bible and there are examples I could relate to in real life. I found that because I dabbled into the occult, certain spirits could come after me and I had to renounce those spirits to shut the door to them. The Bible had explained those spirits did not come from Him and they will work on you as you seek to grow in the Lord because they don’t want to let go of territory they had claimed.
The hardest thing to understand and believe, I think, is that God is for you in the face of the devil who is also after your life. What appeals to the flesh seems good in the beginning and most of the time you really don’t want to believe that a more sinister spirit could be behind what you were just taking in a casual manner.
But there are some things we must handle carefully, because just like chemicals can be very helpful, they can also be very dangerous and sometimes deadly. We must use them with caution! And when we find that things affect us in a negative way, we are wise to remove that influence but it takes the proper understandings.
In my young Christian life, I learned that first I needed to repent for my own willful sins, and then for my unknown sins – in other words the sins I did but did not realize at the time that it was a sin. I had to learn that God has an order in life and I had to learn how to apply myself to that order to find fulfillment in the many areas of life that God really wants to bless. As I learned, I prospered more and more.
I learned about and then came into my Spiritual gifts and calling and more and more, the river of God’s life opened up to me and began to flow through me. It’s available to everyone! We just must first seek and get to know Him and His Word and then learn how to work with the Spirit and learn how the Spirit will do signs and wonders to confirm His Word to us. There is a personal thing going on!
But I want to go back to dealing with my parental issues, because I had to work through that. In the earlier days of my conversion, when I wanted to get everything right and honor them, I had to learn how to do that honor because just submitting to everything they said was not enough to make things work right. Not all their reasoning was correct with the Bible, but still I had to and I wanted to honor them because they were my parents, and I could see that they had been good to me, even in their own struggles.
I had to realize that even my anger came for a reason, and I could see a strong parental influence there in a negative way on some things, and then after listening, asking questions and pondering some things, I realized that my parents’ anger, especially my dad’s that had wounded me came from what he had experienced as a kid.
For a while I thought I was going to turn into a psycho-analyst trying to so hard to understand it all, but then I realized that all these sin problems really do go back generation to generation to Adam and Eve in the Garden. I was never going to be able to really know, much less analyze, all that went on in my generational lines.
But the Bible does explain that there are generations and those generations of people all had problems and they all go ultimately back to the fall of man in the Garden. Eve partook as well as the man Adam who was right there with her, the Bible says. So together we all need to repent. But we can’t really repent for someone else. We can show them a better life and God did that deliverance for me just that way. My dad came to the Lord and got saved and really changed for the good.
Before though, I certainly didn’t like pain and hurt and heartbreak and wounds, so it was easy for me to decide that repenting was in my favor. Once I found the anchor who is Jesus, I could hold on to Him and look to Him and the Holy Spirit for help and in praying to the Father and ultimately learning how to hear Him more and more. It was not an overnight accomplishment but enough was there to see me through into greater and greater victories in it.
Then as many do, I went looking for the perfect pastors and surprisingly (ha ha) never found those, even though I met and got to know some awesome laborers in God’s work field. Funny thing is that I never got perfect either and anytime I thought I found the “perfect” person or situation, something always messed it up. I found that even when I got active in doing my ministry, I was not perfect. Imagine that!
When I was little, that was such a good feeling to think I was perfect and could do no wrong! Especially as the first born, I was made to feel as if I were really special! But life has a way of working the reality of our real condition to be revealed into our living situation.
What do we find? We find that we ALL need Jesus and some choose Him and some don’t. Even sometimes we choose Him and sometimes we don’t, but turning that around and getting that right really does have a good payoff and benefits. We also discover that the world out there will lie to us!
What do we do with all this sin??? We cling to God more. We study, we learn, we practice, we achieve, we labor and we grow and we do find blessings. Some things we seem to have to learn as we go before we are really convinced. And we encounter some understandings that do come the hard way. But if we get it, we do good.
We learn that we have to trust ALL things to God’s care and it’s not easy in the face of some losses, yet He does have the answers and abilities that we need for us to have a good life, in spite of it all. We discover life is a prize and by His grace we get to enjoy so many things. But even more, He has the completeness of eternal life.
But I said all that to share this. When I got saved and grew in the Lord and tried to figure out how I was going to fix all my past and those relationships, I realized I had to deal with first myself, and then those who were around me in relationships. It was on me to do that. These other people didn’t always cooperate so much, as I would share the truth that I was coming to really know.
I had to study and learn in a practical way, what was God and what He was not. And while I finally got it that sin went all the way back to Adam and Eve, I was not the one who could handle all that like God could. My job was to get right in my own life, and that was a pretty big job.
Even learning to minister is something you have to learn, it’s not just a sudden revelation in a one time impartation. You have to study to show yourself approved there, too, as a workman.
2 Timothy 2:15 – Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.
It takes work! But there also are great rewards of inner peace and outer tranquility and even peace in the midst of the storms.
But one thing I learned is that I could not repent for everyone else, even as much as I might want to do it. I couldn’t repent for the dead anymore than I could repent for the living who were not me. I had to deal with me and work with those around me. God helps of course, but there is a relationship that goes on that is personal between you and God.
The Gospel is simple. Jesus died to pay the price for your sins and not just yours only but those of the whole world, if they would accept and receive Him. Even my good works can’t save me or others but they can influence a better outcome on many things.
There is a simplicity of the Gospel that has a foundation of just you and Him and the complete work is done when you accept Him. Now you get to walk out that life after you get that, but if you are born again, a power from God has come in to give you what you need as you apply yourself to Him — and countless people for many generations can attest to the fact that God is faithful to His believers.
The Apostle Paul warns us not to be caught up in things that we really don’t have control over:
I Timothy 1:3-7 As I urged you when I went into Macedonia—remain in Ephesus that you may charge some that they teach no other doctrine, nor give heed to fables and endless genealogies, which cause disputes rather than godly edification which is in faith. Now the purpose of the commandment is love from a pure heart, from a good conscience, and from sincere faith, from which some, having strayed, have turned aside to idle talk, desiring to be teachers of the law, understanding neither what they say nor the things which they affirm.
He says here that things begin with love from a pure heart, a good conscience, and a sincere heart. When God meets us here, then we can go on into other works that benefit our personal lives and those in our surroundings. But we have to be careful what we take on.
We can’t take on things that were not or are not ours to handle and have any kind of control over it in the area of accountability. When we get assignments, God is there to help. We may intimidate others but if they do not respond from a pure heart, it really didn’t stick. God takes on each of us one by one and we all are held individually accountable to Him in whatever our real circumstances are. God knows our hearts and their intents, and He knows all our actions and our prayers and all our follow throughs. He will help and correct as needed as we seek Him.
Every day we can realize that seeking Him still is an advantage for our lives. And once we get bored with focusing on ourselves, it’s a good sign that we are ready to help others in honest integrity and truth!
The Gospel is simple – it starts with you and ends with you. It does not tie you to the generations past except through faith, although there can be some influences around that can be removed or brought in that might help or harm. But they will be things we know and understand basically and some things we do stumble into, but they will or can make sense to the persons involved.
Some understandings can be as simple as the blind man who got healed. He didn’t know how it happened exactly, he just knew a man named Jesus touched him and he could now see! It made sense to Him that Jesus was the Messiah prophesied- there was a power of God to connect to and it worked for his present day.
We may touch someone, or even a child, physically to get their attention, but after that, we expect them to hear by words and even see by actions the intents and communications we have towards them.
Our relationship with God works the same way. We may feel Him in some ways, but as we mature we learn to hear and see Him act! It becomes an awesome revelatory journey – but it’s ours individually. We relate to others. Don’t be connected to things that are not yours to connect to. Get free.
Realize that you and those who are before you and after you have and have had a great power to influence you. While we can’t repent for their past, we can line up in the here and now to be an influence on those souls who are to come or who are here now and are open to hear and know. It’s not always easy, but it is real and it works. Evangelism is for today. We can get snared by things that are not ours. We don’t have to be.
The Gospel is simple. Jesus loves you and He opens the door for you to have a powerful relationship with God, if you will just choose Him and His ways. It’s simple; it’s not real complicated. He will help us navigate the more challenging places and we will find that the other gifts in the Body of Christ really can help us and together we can accomplish great things. I wish you good things in your journey!