I AM SURPRISED BY GRACE
We just celebrated Thanksgiving. And after Thanksgiving, we celebrated BLACK FRIDAY! Soon Christmas will be coming.
On Black Friday hundreds and thousands of people waited in lines for hours just trying to find the perfect gift at the perfect price. We strategized to determine which stores had the best bargains and the best products. We planned out where we were going to shop first and which items we were going to buy. We did all of this to find those few perfect presents for our loved ones or ourselves.
And yet, in the midst all of the uproar of the holiday season, many believers and nonbelievers have yet to take hold of one of the best gifts of all. A perfect fit for any size person. It matches every color ever imagined. And it is so precious that it is priceless.
I submit to you that Christmas for the believer did not come at the birth of Christ. It came at the point of HIS resurrection from death. Because in that singular moment, God the Father demonstrated the real Christmas spirit and gave use one of the greatest gifts of all, GRACE!
And the unfortunate surprise is that many believers have yet to tear the wrapper off of this marvelous gift called grace. For many of us, it remains under the Christmas tree of our lives, an ignored, unappreciated, unacknowledged, unopened, gift. However, the great thing for the believer is that Christmas doesn’t come once a year, IT’S EVERYDAY!!! No matter how old you are or how long you’ve been saved, you can go right into “big kid mode” and tear the wrapper off of the gift of grace that has been extended into your life by our Heavenly Father. Today, even now, you can begin to walk in the new reality of a life under grace.
The Reality of Redemption
When you begin to let grace work in your life, old things begin to pass away. Old habits! Old attitudes! Old ways of thinking! You’ll look around and you won’t even recognize yourself anymore. That is the reality of a redeemed Christian under grace.
The Reality of Resurrection
People who live their lives under grace do not fear death, nor should they. Because they realize that it is only a necessary stepping-stone into an even greater life. An eternal life.
The Reality of Regeneration
When you let the grace of God have its way in your life, God will not only change you, He’ll completely rewrite you!! First the “GRACE ERASER” will rub out everything that’s not like Him. Then He’ll begin rewriting your story with pen of regeneration filled with the ink of the Savior’s blood.
Embrace tHIS Grace!
My friends, as we move forward into this holiday season. I challenge you to “Embrace tHIS Grace” in your life. Don’t leave the gift of grace unopened for another year. Because when you finally do open it up, you’re in for some big surprises!!! When you embrace tHIS grace in your life, it thrusts you into a new reality where you are bigger on the inside than you are on the outside. You gain access to a universal, all encompassing benefit package that’s loaded with more than you could ever ask for, think about, or imagine. It’s better than life insurance! Why? Because God already knows about your preexisting conditions, and He won’t penalize you for them. Finally, your position in grace will change your position in life. I challenge you, in this holiday season, “Embrace tHIS Grace!”
Be blessed and Think on These Things….
THE THORN EXPERIENCE
In churches across the world, one of the most highly quoted person from the bible is the Apostle Paul. Most people can tell you the highlights of his life including his persecution of Christians, his transformation after his Damascus road experience, the fact that he was imprisoned multiple times, and that he started many of the early Christian churches. They can even tell you about how he and Silas sang songs in prison and God opened the prison doors on their behalf. And of course, most people can tell you that Paul had a thorn, some issue, and some situation that caused him great despair. And that God saw fit to let him bear it. Let’s park there for a minute. Let’s consider…THE THORN EXPERIENCE.
What is it that we really know about Paul’s thorn? Some suggest that it was a disease of the eyes or the stomach. Others say that it could have been a condition that caused him to have seizures. While we may not know what Paul’s thorn was, there are some things about it that we do know.
First and foremost, we know from 2 Corinthians 12:7 that Paul’s thorn, though a messenger of Satan, was actually a tool of God used to keep Paul from becoming conceited. Yes, my friends, the Lord God Almighty used a messenger of Satan to accomplish a goal in Paul’s life.
We know that Paul, being the mighty man of God that he was, prayed to the Lord at least three times for God to remove the thorn.
We know that the Lord did not remove Paul’s thorn, but rather, He extended sufficient grace to Paul for completion of his divine assignment.
You’re probably wondering, “What does Paul’s thorn have to do with my life?” Well, I’m so glad you ASKED!!!
From Paul’s Thorn experience, we get a glimpse into the very mind and personality of God Himself. We can see from Paul’s experience both the Lord’s work ethic as well as His ability to plan for the future of his church.
God’s expectation of SERVICE: From Paul’s experience we see that God never, EVER excuses Paul from his calling and divine assignment because of the thorn that he bore.
God’s prioritizes HUMILITY: It was more important to God that Paul remained humble. It was so important in fact, that God commissioned a satanic agent to accomplish the task. It was more important to God that Paul is humble over being delivered.
God’s continued WILLINGNESS TO SACRIFICE one for the needs of the many: God allowed Paul to bear a thorn much like He allowed his son Jesus to bear the cross. What if we didn’t have Paul’s Thorn Experience to encourage us today? How many people would never know about God’s grace?
God’s all encompassing GRACE for the future: Have you ever wondered why Paul’s thorn is never specified?
I submit to you that this was all a part of God’s grand design to make sure that grace would forever be all-covering and all encompassing. Had Paul’s thorn been revealed, we would have relegated grace to that and only that and not to all the areas of our lives where grace needs to be applied.
What is your thorn?
Who is your thorn?
Whoever, or whatever your thorn is, know this… God’s Grace Is Sufficient!!!
Think On These Things…
The G Factor
How can I describe God’s grace? Perhaps, the simplest way to describe grace is to say that it is the very breath of Father flowing through each and every believer for the sake of redemption, rejuvenation, and reunification with Him. It gives us purpose. It gives us strength. It gives us security.
And regrettably, while being one of the most precious of our Father’s gifts, it is probably the most misunderstood.
God loved us so much that He allowed His son’s shed blood to cover every fault, every sin, every bad decision, every mistake, every curse, every lie, every-THING that we would ever do in the past, present, or future.
And when I say, “cover”, God didn’t just take our sins and lock them away to throw up in our faces later. He didn’t just write them down somewhere so He could punish us for them later. No sir, no ma’am!
When God looks at believers covered under His son Jesus’ blood, He sees us as we were meant to be. He looks at us as if we never sinned AT ALL.
So there’s no need for Him to punish us. There’s no need for Him to be displeased with us. There’s no need for Him to withhold His favor from us.
Why? Because, through the blood of Jesus, it’s like we never did anything wrong in the first place. That’s grace!
Imagine that! All powerful, all mighty, God, making a conscious decision to cover up and blot out from His own memory, every bad thing you’ve ever done, said, or thought, just so He could love you with an everlasting love.
I know for many of you, this contradicts everything you’ve ever been taught about God and the way He loves you.
So many of us have been made to believe that God is this angry man sitting up in Heaven somewhere just waiting to rain down His fury and wrath on us at any given moment.
It’s hard to imagine how a perfect God could love such imperfect people. But He absolutely does LOVE US.
In fact, He’s madly in love with us. He’s so in love with His children that He spends every day in eternity planning out ways to bless and prosper us. And even that is hard to believe.
Trust me, I’VE BEEN THERE.
By now you’re probably saying to yourself, “But what did I do to deserve such love? What did I do to deserve such favor?” The fact of the matter is you don’t deserve it. But God chooses to give it to you freely anyway. That, my friends, is grace. And it is by His grace that we are saved, secured, and sure of our right standing with God.
Think on these things until next time…
When Common Becomes Holy
Have you ever felt…….common? Have you ever felt as though there was nothing terribly remarkable or awe inspiring about you? Have you ever thought to yourself that God would not want to use someone like me? Well my brothers and sisters, I’m happy to tell you that you couldn’t be more WRONG. God can and will use you! In fact, our God specializes in using people and things that most people over look.
Consider if you will the threshing floor of biblical times. The threshing floor was a common area of a community. It was where wheat was processed and refined for consumption. In 1 Chronicles 18, God commands King David to purchase a threshing floor for the purposes of building an altar where sacrifices can be made to Him. Now why would a holy and perfect God want an altar built to Him in such a common and unremarkable place? Let’s not forget, this is the same God who demanded only the purest sacrifices.
In situations like this, when the common becomes holy. I submit to you that when the Lord changes the common into the holy, there are three things that must be considered: The Placement. The Price. The Preparation.
Geographically, a threshing floor was usually situated in a high place in order to take advantage of blowing winds that could be used in the wheat refining process. It was built in an area that was accessible by people in the surrounding community. Think it not strange when the Lord sees fit to set you in front of people for His glory. He specializes in making the common thing holy!
In obedience to God, King David purchased a threshing floor from a man named Araunah. Araunah was actually willing to give the threshing floor to the king. But of this David said, “No, I insist on paying the full price. I will not take for the LORD what is yours, or sacrifice a burnt offering that costs me nothing.” (I Chronicles 18.24) When the Lord decides to make the common thing holy, a price must be paid. But even the price is significant. It wasn’t discounted. King David paid full price for the common thing. Sounds a lot like Jesus paying full price for us doesn’t it?
After King David purchased the threshing floor, he made a burnt offering and a fellowship offering. The bible says that he called on the Lord and God answered him with fire. So, King David bought a common place, for an uncommon price, where he called upon an Almighty God. And the Lord answered him when he called.
My friends, if you’ve ever thought to yourself that there was nothing so remarkable about your life that the Lord could use, it is my pleasure to tell you once again, you’re absolutely wrong.
I Chronicles 18 clearly demonstrates that through the Placement, the Price, and the Preparation, He is able to make the common into the holy.
Think on these things…
Happy Anniversary Shiloh (Video)
The Validation of a Call
It seems like everyday somebody is announcing to me, Pastor I’ve been called, Pastor I’ve been called! More times than I care to count, I’ve encountered self-appointed prophets, preachers, and the like who proclaim from the proverbial mountaintops that they’ve heard and answered the call of God on their lives. And as much as I want to rejoice at the birth of a new minister, the spiritual father in me must ask of these individuals, where’s your validation?
They look at me quizzically as though I’m speaking in tongues. Validation? What validation? They proclaim to me, “I’m saved, sanctified, filled with the Holy Ghost, with the evidence of speaking in tongues!” And I say, “That’s wonderful, but where is your validation?” They proceed to tell me about the burning desire that they have in their hearts to carry the gospel. They tell me how they know God is calling them to minister to nations and on platforms of the highest order. I say, “That’s all well and good, BUT WHERE IS YOUR VALIDATION?”
By now, they (and you) are wondering what do I mean by validation. It is my belief that every man, woman, and child who has ever been called into ministry can be identified by very specific validating events in their lives.
First and foremost, how do you know that you are called? Did God speak to you? If so, what did HE say? Surely, if God is calling you to sacrifice your life in service to His people, HE would do so in a way that was clear and unmistakable. The call of God on your life can certainly be confirmed by others to whom the Lord speaks, but at some point, you have to know it for yourself. You can’t operate in your calling firsthand, based on a secondhand confirmation. All I’m asking is how do you know?
Secondly, what was your “burning bush experience”, your God-encounter, that one unmistakable, irrevocable encounter with the most High God that confirms your calling? Do you have one? It’s not enough to step out into ministry because of a strong feeling in your belly or unction in your spirit.
The calling of God costs too much!!!
It costs too much and it requires too much for you to step out in ministry without having a close encounter of the God-kind.
Thirdly, has your calling been tried and proven by fire? What do I mean? I’m so glad you asked. Don’t think for a moment that Satan is not aware that the Lord may have a plan for your life. That knowledge alone is reason enough for Satan to try to stop you in every way possible, including kill you. There are times in life when you must guard your calling, but there are times when your calling must guard you. Has your call been proven in the fire?
Lastly, who covers you? All too often churches, and people are victimized by maverick preachers who are self-appointed saviors. If God called you to service, then most assuredly your first service is at the feet of those who can instruct you in the ways of ministry. The power (and calling) of God is dangerous in the hands of an unlearned individual who emphatically refuses to be taught (a fool).
My friends, this is not a jab at those who are young in ministry, nor is it an indictment against those who came to serve in ministry under different sets of credentials and experiences. However, my “pastor’s heart” aches when I hear of servants who’ve abandoned their call or who’ve become burned out in ministry. It is in those times that I can’t help but to wonder was their call valid? So many are blinded by titles or positions or seduced by adoring crowds. The calling of God is both sacred and sacrificial. It is not to be entered into lightly, nor is it to be abandoned haphazardly. Look before you leap, even if it is a leap of faith. Make sure your call is valid.
Think On These Things…
The Key To The Door of Success
The body of Christ at large seems to have forgotten the true meaning of sacrifice. It seems that while professing to follow Christ, we have somehow disconnected with what that truly means. It seems that we have disconnected from the gruesome brutality, which was Christ’s sacrifice on the cross. How is it that we expect to be Christians but we don’t expect to be called upon to sacrifice? The Father gave His Son, the Son gave His life. What is God calling upon each and every one of us to give?
The first thing that must be understood is that sacrifice is not convenient. It is not comfortable. And it certainly is not cheap. In fact, sacrifice in its purest sense is costly, uncomfortable, inconvenient, and sometimes painful. And yet it would seem that we as a body of believers have been lulled and pacified into believing that to live for Christ “doesn’t take all of that”. That success in this present age can be ours without sacrifice.
On the contrary, the key to success lies within a person’s willingness to sacrifice, specifically what we are willing to sacrifice for the cause of Christ. Oh yes, we sacrifice. We give our time, our talents, our money, our loyalty, and our commitment to those things that are important to us. But the question begs to be answered, what’s important to us? Most assuredly, whatever is taking up your time, your talent, your treasures, your commitment, and your thought life, this is your god. This is who you’ve been sacrificing to.
Take a moment, ask yourself…..is God still my god? Or has some other person, object, lifestyle, or habit taken His place in my life.
My friends if you find that you’ve been sacrificing your time, your talent, your treasures, or any part of who you are to a false god, know this, there’s no time like the present to get back to God’s house and bring your sacrifices back to where they truly belong.
ALL of us can sacrifice something. But only Christ sacrificed ALL.
Think on these things.
Jesus the Fountain
Enjoy a Power Packed Service with Pastor AJ Wright and the Shiloh Family Worship Center. Jesus the Fountain -
Return to the Refreshing
Enjoy a Power Packed Service with Pastor AJ Wright and the Shiloh Family Worship Center. Return to the Refreshing.
The Manifest Convocation Comes To West Palm Beach
West Palm Beach- Join Pastor AJ Wright and Shiloh Family Worship Center as they host the Manifest Convocation this September 8-13, 2009. This power packed week includes such luminaries as Pastor Jamal Bryant, Prophet Todd Hall, Pastor Sheryl Brady, and Pastor Derek Tripplett.
“We want to bring the power of the Lord as well as good wholesome family entertainment to the West Palm Beach Area. I believe that a convocation of this magnitude will be the first of many, said Pastor Wright, pastor of the Shiloh Family Worship Center in West Palm Beach, sponsors of the event.
The Manifest Convocation consist of four days of phenomenal instruction as well as a star studded Gospel concert – entitled “An Evening Under the Stars”. This event will feature Grammy Award winner Yolanda Adams, BET’s Sunday’s Best Winner Crystal Aiken, Recording Artists Jimmie Hicks , Jason Champion, and many more. The concert which will be held Saturday Night September 12, at the Kravis Center (www.kravis.org) in downtown West Palm Beach, will be one of the first Gospel Concerts held in the Gosman Amphitheatre.
We wanted to showcase spiritual events in a new light, which is why we picked this world class venue at the Kravis Center”, chimed Wright.
“This event is going to be awesome. I pray for not just those in attendance of this convocation-but the entire city will be blessed during this event.” said Artist Yolanda Adams.
Everyone is invited in the phenomenal event. The convocation is free to the public, except for the concert which has a nominal fee. Tickets can be purchased in person or by phone at the Kravis Center(www.kravis.org). To purchase tickets online and for more information, please log ontowww.manifestconvocation.com.