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Thursday, December 28, 2017

From Pain to Preaching..






I feel like I'm consistently drawn back to the story of Saul's conversion.

A story of redemption, mercy, grace, and true repentance.

In verses 1-8, we read about how Saul threatened and slaughtered those bearing the name of  Jesus. On  his way to Damascus, a light came from heaven, and a voice asked Saul why he persecuted against Him (Jesus.) This frightened Saul and he asked what he needed to do. Jesus told him to go to Damascus and he would understand there, Then he was blinded and had to be led in to the city.

Verse 9 days he dwelt there for 3 days without sight,  food, or drink.

In verses 10-16 about where Jesus called Ananias to go minister to Saul. Ananias knew of the evil that Saul had done to saints, but Jesus told Ananias that Saul was a chosen vessel and that he needed to go to him.

In verses 17-19, Saul is filled with the Holy Spirit, his eyes  are opened, and he was baptized. 

Now- here is the part that changed my life this morning.

I battled with an immense amount of guilt. Of course, I rest in the promise that when I asked for forgiveness and made a life style change, that He accepted that sincerity and granted me repentance for my sins; however, every day I battle with this voice that says,  'Congrats! You made a lifestyle change for 3 weeks. Doesn't  mean you  are good with God still. Change isn't 3 weeks.. it requires more time than that. You want God's favor?   Keep this change up for a few months.. a few years,' Now, I'm not saying God is telling me this. I'm saying a negative voice is speaking this to me and then guilt overwhelms me and I think, 'Okay, maybe that's  right. Maybe I need to do something more for repentance to be active in my life.  Maybe grace hasn't kicked in yet...'

So,  yesterday, I spent time weeping before God, asking for a Word from Him concerning grace. I was desperate for it. My aching heart needed it.  I begged for Him to send it... for Him to have someone else send me a Word, but it never came. I  felt like that negative voice was right. Maybe he couldn't even really speak to me any more. Maybe I was so far past that , it  was going to take months or years to get back to that place. 

Then this morning, 'Because of Who You Are' came on and I was privileged enough to just sit here in His presence. And He hit me like a ton of bricks  with this chapter.

As I previously said, verses 17-19, Saul is converted. He is baptized with the Holy Ghost and with water. He is changed.

And guess what he does between verses 19 to 20??

HE PREACHES THE GOSPEL.

He doesn't spend 4 chapters of the Bible wallowing in self pity. He doesn't let guilt and shame eat him alive. He doesn't spend countless hours trying to earn the grace, mercy, and repentance of God.  From the moment of conversion to the next verse, he starts preaching the Word of God. Sure, in verse 21, he had the people that were throwing his past in his face, but verse 22 says that he increased more in strength.

He didn't let his past stop him from his future. He didn't spend time wondering if his repentance really worked. He didn't toil  over what he had done.. he simply moved forward.. immediately. He accepted God's forgiveness, grace, and mercy... and that's all he needed .

God, please help me to stop wondering if repentance really worked because it has only been weeks.. not months or years. Please stop letting me feel anguish over the past.. please help me to realize that even if I don't feel deserving of Your grace and mercy, that You still pour it out on us, Please help me  to understand that true forgiveness is turning your back on sin.. and if I have done that with a genuine heart, then You truly forgive me. I love you and I want to be a vessel for you. Thank You for Your word today concerning Saul/.Paul. My soul desperately needed it.

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