Thursday, November 1, 2012

GRACE Written by Lisa Collier Clewis 11/01/1012

I want to share with you about grace. In order for us to understand grace I think that we must first understand works. So many people are under the misconception that their works save them or that the works of the law keep them in God's grace. Just the opposite is true. In the book of Galatians the apostle Paul explains to the Galatians that the gospel of Jesus Christ had been perverted and that anyone who preaches any other gospel is accursed.  The Galatians were under the misconception that they were justified by the works of the law. Galatians 3:2-5 This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh? Have ye suffered so many things in vain? if it be yet in vain. He therefore that ministereth to you the Spirit, and worketh miracles among you, doeth he it by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? 

Think back to when you learned that you were already saved through the crucifiction and resurrection of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Think back to when you got down on your knees and prayed to God with a contrite heart and asked him to forgive you of your sins and you accepted him as your Lord and Savior. You know that by the grace of God you were forgiven of all of your sins and washed in the blood of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. What did you do to deserve it? You didn't do anything to deserve God's grace. Neither did I or anyone else. God knew us and loved us before the foundations of the world. God's gift of grace and forgiveness of our sins is just that, a gift. We didn't work for it and we don't deserve it except by the love and grace of God who has made us righteous to stand before him. Why do you think that you have to do something to deserve it now? The realization that flesh and blood are sin and that sin is in us doesn't mean that we walk around conscious of our sins which is what Satan wants us to do to keep our mind off of what we should be doing. It means that we are conscious of our sins so that we can acknowledge what we are doing wrong and do what is right instead. When we allow Satan to bombard our minds with thoughts of sin and unworthiness we are not capable of moving forward or being a witness for Christ because we are paralyzed with the fear of not being good enough and losing God's grace.

Understanding grace and forgiveness of sins can seem like an impossible feat. When we get born again it is by God's grace. We are covered by God's grace. We become spirit like him but we are still in these flesh and blood bodies. So you wonder how can I be like him if I am still flesh and blood? Even though my heart loves him so much I still make mistakes and sin. Does that mean it is okay to sin? No! In Romans chapter 6 the apostle Paul teaches about sin and grace. Romans 6:14-18 For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace. What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid. Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness? But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you. Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness.

But what about those words that I said when I got home fromt the grocery store and realized that my chicken was rotten? What about me not answering the phone because I knew who it was and I didn't feel like helping him today? What about me rededicating my life to the Lord and finding myself next to an empty bottle this morning that I can't even remember cause I drank so much last night? Or, how about me having surgery or losing my loved one and getting hooked on pain pills again? The list goes on. Every single human being has some kind of demon that he/she has to overcome. That doesn't make us unworthy. That makes us need the Lord and his help and his strength even more. In II Corinthians Paul teaches about how he found glory in his infirmities. Paul realized that when he was weak the spirit strengthened him. I once heard someone say that if you are ashamed of your testimony you are ashamed of God. Think about it like this. We have got a conscience. When we do something wrong or think about doing something wrong our conscience tells us what we did wrong and we go to God in prayer with a contrite heart and ask God to forgive us of our sins and we are renewed in our faith in his grace. But the devil doesn't want for us to be renewed in our faith of God's grace. The devil wants for us to continue to feel guilty and unworthy and weak. II Corinthians 12:9-10 And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.

In Romans chapter 7 the apostle Paul speaks of the flesh and how the flesh is weak and how he felt about the sin and weakness that he found in himself. Romans 7:13-25 Was then that which is good made death unto me? God forbid. But sin, that it might appear sin, worketh death in me by that which is good; that sin by the commandment might become exceeding sinful. For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin. For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I. If then I do that which I would not, I consent unto the law that it is good. Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not. For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do. Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me. For I delight in the law of God after the inward man: But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivitiy to the law of sin which is in my members. O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin.

Satan uses our flesh and blood to trick us into self condemnation so that we feel unworthy of God's love and grace and promises that he has made to us, his children. The best way that I know how to explain this is to give you an example of me and my life and my addiction to cigarettes. When I was growing up I said that I would never smoke. I hated to smell cigarettes and ashtrays. I said that I would never spend my money on something that is so useless. Also, my grandma brought me up loving and believing in God's word. She taught me how to read by reading the Holy Bible to me and telling me about all of the wonderful stories in the bible which gave me the desire to learn how to read. My grandma loved the Lord. When I got born again and accepted Jesus Christ as my risen Lord and Savior I learned more about the meat of the word and why I should obey my parents and that my parents should not provoke me to wrath. Being said, my daddy lived in fear. He always expected the worst and it seemed like he constantly accused me of doing things that I had not done. He would search my room and later searched my car. And being a new christian and weak he cursed and yelled and badgered me. Jealous people telling lies on me did not help. Well, he came into my room one night about 3 'o clock a.m. and he accused me of stealing his coat and selling it to buy drugs. I didn't use drugs. I had never tried drugs. And I would not be caught dead with something that did not belong to me. Now mind you, I loved the Lord with all of my heart. I wanted for everyone to get saved. I did not want for anyone to go to hell or feel alone because they didn't know God. I wrote letters to a man who was in prison whom I knew needed to be saved. He beat on his wife and all kinds of ungodly stuff. God was always in my heart. I still feel this way I just want you to know that I felt that way back then because I want for you to understand that I did not mean to become the mean little spit fire that I was for a while.

Well, at 3 'o clock a.m. my daddy woke me out of a sound sleep hollering and cursing me and accusing me of stealing his coat and selling it to someone to buy drugs. He found his coat later on that night in a suitcase that was under his bed where he had left it. I did not get an aplogy. I snapped. Now, I'm not blaming my daddy for the things that I did. My mind and my heart were weak and I wanted to be the hellion that he evidently already believed me to be. I became rebellious. I thought and did and felt things that I never knew were in me, things that were the total opposite of who I was in Christ. I stold my daddy's liquor and poured it into little glass bottles and hid the little glass bottles of liquor in the foam cups that fit around the speakers in the trunk of my car.  I laughed to myself every time he searched my car. I laughed to myself every time he said he thought that some of his liquor was getting gone or that his liquor tasted watered down. I tried marijuana. I ran away from home. And I not only started smoking but I spent my lunch money on cigarettes. And even though later on I found forgiveness in my heart and repented of my sins, I continued to smoke and I continued to spend my money on cigarettes when I needed to spend my money on other things.

I tried to quit smoking many, many times. I even tried bargaining with God. I thought that if I promised God that I would not smoke, I would not smoke because I loved him to much to tell him a story. I started back smoking and I felt the absolute worst guilt about smoking and breaking my word to the Lord. I talked to my preacher about it and he told me that you never promise God anything because you are flesh and blood and you are going to make mistakes. I apologized to God for telling him that I would not smoke any more and smoking anyway. I struggled with smoking for many years. I made excuses and then I finally accepted the fact that I liked to smoke and I finally understood the reasons why I liked to smoke.

I finally decided in my heart that I did not want to smoke and I knew that I could not do it on my own. I would pray to stop and I would stop and then I would start back smoking. The guilt got worse every time I would start back smoking. I felt so condemned in my flesh. Finally, I realized that I had to give it all to God and I prayed to God that he would take away my desire to smoke. Praise God. He did. June 11, 2013 will be two years since God took the desire to smoke away from me. Praise God. I am free from that bondage. That ole devil will put the thought in my mind that I want a cigarette. It's usually when I am stressed out. I will say, "I do not want to smoke." And the thought will go away. Praise God. It works every time. Resist the devil and he will flee.

The reason for me telling you this story about myself is this, it does not matter how much you love the Lord you will find that you will do or say things that you did not mean to. And no matter how bad you want to stop doing something that condemns you in your flesh, you have got to give it to God and let him help you. Remember, when we are weak he gives us strength. The devil is a lion that seeks who he can devour. He looks for unhealed scars in our heart and bruised memories in our mind that he can use to keep us in sin and condemnation. He makes a rock appear to be an apple. And you know what they say about an apple, eat an apple a day and keep the doctor away. Try to remember in those times of weakness that Jesus is our rock. He gives us the strength to do the right thing even if the right thing was not our first thought. Do not let Satan use your past sins or present struggles or guilt from sin keep you away from being who God made you to be, his child, made in his likeness. Romans 8:1-4 There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.

Praise God! He knows what is in our hearts and he gives us strength when we are weak. I love all of you, my brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus our Lord and Savior.


Monday, October 22, 2012

'Grandparents' Written by Lisa Clewis 12-22-01

Grandparents are the ones who give us joy.
Grandparents are the ones who spoil us with toys.
No matter the holiday or time of year,
Grandparents are the ones we hold close and dear.
Grandparents are the ones who teach us how to live.
Grandparents are the ones who show us how to give.
For all of the heartaches and in every kind of catastrophe,
Grandparents are the ones there in our time of need.
Life has made them wiser.
In our hearts they have a special place.
Grandparents are the ones who knowe God's love
and share his grace.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

'Memories of Today' dedicated to my grandmama Mazie. Written April 1995. Published in America at the Millennium.

I am still young and keen;
But I can not remember when I was seventeen.
Today is so vivid;
That it makes yesterday quite livid.
Is that why you hear old people say,
"I can remember things that happen twenty years ago better than today?"
When you get old do you quit making memories to last?
Is that why they so easily recollect times passed?
Every day make a memory to safely tuck away inside of your mind,
Because one day all that you have may have is what you left behind.
What of today, what of tomorrow, what of times pass--
Does the future really forever last?
God knows our troubles, trials and times.
Look not tomorrow for what today you can find.
Today, lift your voice and sing unto God your praise.
Because tomorrow may never hold your gaze.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

'Splashing in Memories'

Have you ever sat on the beach
     and tried to count the waves
And thought about their enormous strength
     and how they never really go away
Rolling, tumbling upon the sandy beaches
     with only a moment to stay
Bowing down underneath your feet
     and slowly creeping away
Then coming back with a mighty thrush
     splashing water into your face
Have you ever sat on the beach
     and tried to count the waves
Have you ever tried to count
     the many memories of your life
One living vividly within your mind
     another so far away it's impossible to find
What if you could mingle all your memories into one
     and know the better memories of life would overcome
The strife, the pain, the sorrow, the rain
     would all soon be dried up
By the sunshine in your heart
     which is as solid as a coconut
Memories in your mind are like waves
     Splashed upon the earth
Some treat them with indifference
     while others seek their birth

Believe

Who would give their child to be
brutally beaten and murdered and to
stand between all people and God forever?

Forgiveness.

How great is God's love?
How can you have any doubt?
What is there to think about?

Perfect Love.

How bad do things get?
Why do we not see what we have?
How can we be sad?

Faith.

Why do we ask questions?
What have we to fear?
Do not worry about tomorrow.

Miracles.

Do not ask why or how...
JUST
BELIEVE!

The Duty of Our Conscience

Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. Blessed is the man unto whom the Lord imputeth not iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no guile. When I kept silence, my bones waxed old through my roaring all the day long. For day and night thy hand was heavy upon me: my moisture is turned into the drought of summer. Selah. I acknowledged my sin unto thee, and mine iniquity have I not hid. I said, I will confess my transgressions unto the Lord: and thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin. Selah. For this shall every one that is godly pray unto thee in a time when thou mayest be found; surely in the floods of great waters they shall not come nigh unto him. Thou art my hiding place; thou shalt preserve me from trouble; thou shalt compass me about with songs of deliverance. Selah. I will instruct the and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go: I will guide thee with thine eye. Be ye not as the horse, or as the mule, which have no understanding: whose mouth must be held in with bit and bridle, lest they come near unto thee. Many sorrows shall be to the wicked: but he that trusteth in the Lord, mercy shall compass him about. Be glad in the Lord, and rejoice, ye righteous: and shout for joy, all ye that are upright in heart. Psalm 32 KJV

I thank God for giving me a conscience. I have learned a lot from my conscience because my conscience alerts me something is wrong and what I must do to make it right. It won't stop until I do what I can to make right regardless of what I have done wrong or have neglected to do. Sometimes that includes seeking forgiveness with a contrite heart from either someone that I have wronged in some way or from God, or both.
.
As much as I would like to say I am perfect and I have not ever sinned, I would be lying if I did. Unfortunately, I have sinned many times. No human being can say that he or she is without sin. I thank God, my conscience does not rest until I have made right my wrongs and sought forgiveness from God.

Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath aught against thee; Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift. Matthew 5:23, 23 KJV

I am so thankful that I  can go to somebody and go to God and ask for forgiveness and receive forgiveness from God. God gave us a conscience to make us aware of the things that we have said or done wrong. And he has given us a  way to be free from sin.

That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and that God hath raised him from the dead thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. Romans 10:9, 10 KJV

There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. Romans 8:1-5 KJV

How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? Hebrews 9:14 KJV

We are not to hold on to the memory of sin and allow our mistakes to come between us and what God wants us to have. Through the blood of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ we are made to stand righteous before God without any sin conscience.  Think of an earthly father and how he has pity on his child and loves him/her regardless of the mistakes he makes. How much greater is God's love for us? If our salvation depended on how good or perfect we can be it would no long be a gift but a requirement.  Grace, God's unconditional love and forgiveness of our sins and iniquities is a gift. No person can boast that he was good enough to be forgiven and made righteous by his own actions or else the death and resurrection of Jesus would be made void. 

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on him should not perish, but have ever lasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through him might be saves. John 3:16, 17

You might ask, 'How do I walk after the spirit and not after flesh?' We have to take one day at a time and live in each moment. We have to keep our mind on God and his word as much as we can. We can stay focused on God and walk in the spirit by praying and singing praises to God, meditating on scripture, and allowing ourselves time for quiet moments to be in God's presence in mind, spirit, and our heart. Even in the worst situations sing praises to God and remember his promises to bring light to those situations.  The more you stay in the spirit in this way the less time you will have to follow after the flesh. And when you do make a mistake, acknowledge that you made a mistake, ask God to forgive you, and forgive yourself. Every time you think about a mistake that you have made, forgive yourself again and accept God's love and forgiveness. How can we train ourselves to walk after the spirit and not after the flesh? One way is to acknowledge what kinds of situations or environments we allow ourselves to be in. Think about this, let's say that you are around someone who says, 'I know right' a lot. Eventually, you will be saying, 'I know right' because you have exposed yourself to someone who says that a lot. It is true of other things also. Just realizing this fact can help you be aware of who and what you allow yourself to be around. We have to constantly keep ourselves in check and remind ourselves to renew our mind according to the word of God.

If so be that ye have heard him, and have been taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus: That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceiful lusts; And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness. Wherefore put away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbor: for we are members one of another. Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath: Neither give place to the devil. Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth. Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers. And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption. Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: And be kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you. Ephesians 4:21-32 KJV

We are not to remain as we were before we got saved. And we are not to condemn ourselves for not being who we think we should be. We have to train ourselves as a soldier trains for battle. Day by day we grow, learn, and get stronger in the holy spirit. When you get saved you are filled with the Holy Spirit and the Holy Spirit never leaves you. You are made new, born again of God's seed and made to stand righteous before God as His child. 

Written by Lisa Clewis 11-09-14

The Apostle Paul

Saul, also known as Paul, was the great apostle to the Gentiles. Three elements of the world's life of that day, Greek culture, Roman citizenship, and Hebrew religion met in the apostle to the Gentiles. Saul was born of purest Jewish blood (Phil. 3:5). Saul was never ashamed to acknowledge himself as a Jew (Acts 21:39). Saul was the son of a Pharisee (Acts 23:6) and he was brought up in orthodox Judaism. At the proper age Saul was sent to Jerusalem and completed his studies under the famous Gamaliel (Acts 22:3; 26:4-5). Having been educated among the strictest of the Pharisees, we easily can see a reason for the persecutions he heaped upon Jesus' followers.

God had a use for this persecutor. He was chosen vessel of His ministrations to the Gentiles, and He converted him in a special and distinct way. We read about Saul bearing record of his calling in Acts. And when we were all fallen to the earth, I heard a voice speaking unto me, and saying in the Hebrew tongue, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks. And I said, Who art thou Lord? And he said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest. But rise, and stand upon thy feet: for I have appeared unto thee for this purpose, to make thee a minister and a witness both of these things which thou hast seen, and of those things in the which I will appear unto thee; Delivering thee from the people, and from the Gentiles, unto whom now I send thee, To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me (Acts 26:14-18KJV).

The new convert proclaimed the Messiahship of Jesus in the Jewish synagogues in Damascus, truths that had seized his soul (Acts 9:20-22). Saul left from Damascus and went to Jerusalem where he met Barnabas (Acts 9:26-27). Together, Paul and Barnabas spread the ministry of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles. After fulfilling their ministry there Saul and Barnabas returned from Jerusalem. They went to Antioch and went into the synagogue on the sabbath day and sat down (Acts 13:14). After the reading of the law and prophets the rulers of the synagogue sent unto them, saying, Ye men and brethren, if ye have any word of exhortation for the people, say on (Acts 13:15). Paul stood up and preached beginning with 'the God of this people of Israel chose our fathers' and ending with 'Be it known unto you therefore, men and brethren, that through this man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins: And by him all that believe are justified through the law of Moses' (Acts 13:38-39). Saul boldly preached Christ everywhere that he went.

Saul's first missionary journey took him to Asia Minor, where he first used the name of Paul. On the second missionary journey the faith was taken across the continental boundary into Europe. After the third missionary journey the Jews, who still hated him with consuming force, succeeded in getting him thrown in jail. His enemies almost killed him, but he was rescued by Roman soldiers, and for a time kept in chains.

Paul  fearlessly spread the ministry of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles. For further reading on the life and missionary work of Paul, the main biblical source is found in The Acts Of The Apostles. Paul was also a writer and wrote several books of the bible. He wrote Romans and Galatians: doctrines of sin and grace; 1 and 2 Corinthians: moral and practical questions; Colossians and Philippians: person of Christ; Ephesians: the church of Christ; 1 and 2 Timothy and Titus: church government and pastoral care; Philemon: slavery; and, Hebrews: the eternal priesthood and sacrifice of Christ.

Written By: Lisa Collier Clewis