Does God Count You Faithful?

This is a reblog from my God’s Maintenance Man Blog.  This blog is found under the Teachings tab at the top of this page.  If you would like to read others in the series on Timothy and Titus, please click on that tab.

 1 Timothy 1:12-14

12 And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who hath enabled me, for that he counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry;
13 Who was before a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious: but I obtained mercy, because I did it ignorantly in unbelief.
14 And the grace of our Lord was exceeding abundant with faith and love which is in Christ Jesus.

I like to take credit. I like to think I did something myself. It was me who read the Bible and gained the knowledge I have. It was me who began to understand how the Old and New Testament worked together., It was me who figured out how the scripture applies to everyday life. I wrote all these poems and songs through the years. The moving of the Holy Spirit is due to my ability and expertise in putting a worship service together. All these years, I have been slaving away for God and coming up with these thoughts and ideas on how God works in our lives. I did it. Me!

That paragraph is the definition of pride. I did it. I accomplished it. I figured it out. This is where I lived for years, and truly believed the sayings in that paragraph. It caused me to start top think I could disregard all that I had learned and do what I wanted to do. After all, I had done it all for God!

But I soon fell hard, lost my job and almost my family and had to take inventory on my spiritual life. What I found out was what Paul says here. God has enabled me. I do not have the ability within myself to do the things above. It is God in me and through me. That is the only way these things can minister the way they do. That is the only way the right words can get on paper that will touch hearts and heal up wounds of the soul.

You see, I was once very much like Paul. I certainly was a blasphemer, a breaker of all the commandments, a drunkard and drug addict and a person who could care less about God. My own way was the way I would go and no one could tell me I was in the wrong. I had walked away from God in high school and had no plans on coming back to Him. I was a persecutor, maybe not of the saint, but of everyone around me. I would put down, speak badly of, and try to hurt with words anyone that wronged me. I was a smaller guy and not a physical specimen, so I relied on a quick wit. This also made me injurious, like Paul. My words could injure peoples spirits and hearts quicker than a dart being thrown at them. The bigger problem is that they could dodge a dart, but could not avoid my stinging words.

Then grace came in. Love came in. Faith came in. Somehow I found myself driving to Iowa to see my best friend. Clear out of the blue I had decided to make the 1300 mile drive from Massachusetts to Iowa. When I arrived at his house, we had a great reunion, having not seen each other for over a year. He was a Christian, and had tried to sway me a year earlier at our high school reunion. It didn’t work, but it also did not hurt our friendship. Here I was on His doorstep in Iowa. Through the last year we had sent letters back and forth and each one of his letters had a scripture address on it. I had to look it up to see what he was saying. He was a sly old fox (well, not that old. He was a week older than me).

Then he said come to church with us tonight, and I said OK. I had no problem going with him, just don’t give me any of that salvation stuff. Don’t tell me I need saving. I was doing just fine. And I was so wrong. That minister, who was a missionary home on leave, told me I was headed for a burning hell. I did not want to go there! Then he told me there was only one way to avoid it, and that was Jesus Christ, I wanted Jesus. Jesus took me into His arms later that week and saved my soul. His grace covered me completely.

Now He enables me. I do everything I can to keep my thoughts out of this blog, out of the poetry, out of the songs that fill the pages of my web sites. I seek God’s wisdom and His words for these pages, not mine. I have nothing of value to give except my life. These are His words, His thoughts, His songs. I claim no ownership.

Since He has enabled me, it is now up to me to be an open conduit. He has put me into this ministry and now I need to allow His message to flow through me out to you. Paul tells us that the spirit of the prophet is subject to the prophet (1 Corinthians 14:32). This means God gives us the ability to shut it down or make it flow. We can muzzle the message God gives us to share. We can say “God gave this to me and I’m not going to share it!” We absolutely can. But I do no want to be that person.

My heart’s desire is to be counted faithful. Jesus said that to whom much is given, much will be required (Luke 12:48). The words, songs, melodies and so on come from God. He has given them, for some reason I will never understand, to me. He entrusted me with the ability to hear His voice, and I for one want to make sure He will say I did it well. I could care less if anyone on this earth says the same. I am aware that very few hear God the way I hear Him. Very few have learned to listen as He has taught me to. He holds me accountable for those things He has entrusted to me.

What about you? What gift, or gifts, has God given to you? What talents do you possess? What are you doing with them? I suggest you make a list of all the gifts and talents God has bestowed on you. Some will have just a few items they can think of, others might have many dozen. Pray about it and be thorough. Once you have compiled your list, take each item one by one and ask God if you are doing a good job with that talent. If you’re like me, there are some you are doing well with and others you need to do better.

After this is done, ask God to help you do a better job of ministering in the areas where He has gifted you. Ask Him to enable you to reach more, teach more, love more and touch more. Ask Him to make your light shine so that you might bring Him glory. Give yourself as a living sacrifice for Him so that you might prove the will of God is alive in your life. Be vigilant in your ministry and never back down. This world needs you!

I Am A Blessed Man

The night hair is crisp and clean as I walk my dog this evening. The air feels almost warm at six below zero since there is no wind to chill the soul. The light blanket of snow that covers the ground sounds like Rice Krispies as I walk across the shoveled sidewalk. I look up at the twinkling stars and see the Cheshire cat shaped moon smiling back at me. This is such a beautiful evening to behold. I ponder the day and the week behind me and I realize how much God has blessed me.

I have a wife who loves me. She is hard working and loves to sit beside me and in our Laz-Y-Boy chairs and watch a good Hallmark movie or an episode of a favorite show like Dr Quinn, Medicine Woman. She has been a wonderful caretaker to me as I battled through cancer the last three years, always keeping a smile on her face and doing what is best for me. To this day she gets my meds ready every night. Even though she works over 60 hours a week between two jobs, she is still alert and conversational when she gets home. She is well respected in town and is well loved by her children and her husband. She is the epitome of a Proverbs 31 wife and I am a blessed man.

Our little dog, a mix of little dogs, playfully goes between her chair and mine. He picks up a toy occasionally and has us throw it so he can bring it back, tail wagging and a look of anticipation on his face. My wife laughs and watches him playing, citing how much she loves him. He brings the toy up to my leg and squeezes it in his mouth letting out a squeak as he pushes it into my leg, wanting me to take it and throw it again. He always shows his affection to me and I realize I am a blessed man.

My three children are all healthy and moving forward in life. They have different goals and different jobs. They all have a hunger for God in varying degrees and acknowledge Him as the one they turn to in difficult times. They love us and we love them so much. I talk to my daughters regularly and enjoy getting caught up with them on a weekly basis. We see them as often as we can and they always tells us how much they love us. They are a great joy in my life and I am a blessed man.

My five grandchildren are a joy to talk to. They will send stickers on Facebook messenger to let us know they want to talk. Sometimes they will just call and hope to get us. We love talking to them on the phone and they always let us know how much they love us. We have one granddaughter living with us. She is such joy to have around the house. She brings laughter and a sense of the unknown. We have been through these waters before, with a teenage girl in the house. She will do anything for us and is a great help to me. I see her smile after all the difficulties she has had and I realize I am a blessed man.

My writing is ongoing as God continues to inspire me to put together Bible studies, poems, and pieces like this one. He has helped me with the knowledge to manipulate a web site and has given me a good friend who will help me with things I don’t know in that arena. More and more, I see visitors stopping by and taking note of what God is doing with my life and all the various projects he has me working on. I realize I am but putty in His hand, and He is molding me. This humbles me and makes me a blessed man.

There is so much more I could say about my life in it’s sixty-seventh year. There are so many things that I can’t explain, except to say God is moving in my life. He is my rock and fortress, my strong and mighty tower. He is my Savior and redeemer. He is my soon coming King. I lift my voice and praise Him at every chance I get, because He has been so merciful to me. I will never comprehend how much He loves ma and cares for me, yet I will always give thanks for those very things. In all of my ways, He is watching over me and guiding my life. I am a blessed man.

Jesus You’re Amazing

Jesus you’re amazing
You’re everything to me
I was dying in my sin
And then you rescued me

Jesus you’re amazing
You’re more than life to me
When I gave my life to you
You met my deepest need

My need was not for riches
Or for power or for fame
My need was not possessions
Or for fleshly gain

My desperate need was cleansing
Deep down into my soul
And when I gave my life to you
You made me whole

You gave me peace I’d never known
And joy unspeakable
You gave me faith that truly works
And grace unmatchable

You gave forgiveness for my sin
And mercy not deserved
You gave your life so I could live
You taught me how to serve

Jesus you’re amazing
You’re everything to me
I was dying in my sin
And then you rescued me

Jesus you’re amazing
You’re more than life to me
When I gave my life to you
You met my deepest need

Pride Part 1

This is a repost of the first part of a series I did on Pride two years ago. If you would like to read the rest of the series, please click on my teaching sight above and you will see the Pride Series in the menu. The reason I wrote this study was to help people see the hidden pride in their lives and work on bringing it under control.

 In my experience, if your immediate reaction to that statement is that yours is under control, it probably is not. I have been there before, and hope to never again have unrecognized pride in my life. This is a first installment to give you some background. 

One of the most fascinating things about pride is that it hides itself from the individual who is afflicted by it. I bet all of us have seen people who are full of pride and wonder why they don’t take care of that attitude. Don’t they know it is unattractive and a big turn-off? Well, no they don’t. In fact, they don’t even see it. Let me take a moment to share my story with you. 

I was a worship leader, Sunday school teacher, youth minister and fill-in preacher at my church. I also filled in at other churches occasionally. I was looked upon by those around me as having it all together and one that loved the Lord. And I did love the Lord, and I loved ministry. My wife, on the other hand, saw the pride in my life and kept telling me it was there, but I would not listen. In fact, I kept explaining to her that I was a humble servant of God. 

But the real truth lay in the fact that when I was alone, I was living a depraved lifestyle. I will not go into details, but I was not living as a Christian, but as a heathen. The things I was doing were expressly condemned in God’s word, and I knew the Bible. I knew they were wrong. But I thought God would overlook those things. In fact, whenever I had a close call to someone discovering my sinful ways, I always thanked God for “warning” me ahead of time so I could clean things up. 

Well, as we all know, what is kept secret will eventually come out, and mine did. And it cost me big time. In my pride, I violated a major policy in my workplace, one that I had written, and I got caught. I was immediately terminated after 20 years of working for the company. My pastor, who had known about my sin from a previous exposure and had worked hard with me to get deliverance before I started up again, told me I was not welcome in his church any longer unless I got help. And I did get help.

I went to Pure Life Ministries in Kentucky for Eight months. Eight months of hard work, bunk beds, dorm style living and intense bible study. Eight months of counseling which showed me the pride that was so rampant in my life. Eight months of squashing it down and bringing humility to the forefront. Heck, I was so prideful, I was even proud of my pride! When I look back on who I was it sickens me.

When I got home, I spent two years doing no ministry at all. Just sat in the pew and took things in. I learned to listen to my wife, who can spot my pride in a heartbeat. She has been a Godsend in keeping me on the right path. I am a much more reserved, quiet person than I was before. And I like that. 

In this first installment on pride, I will end with this warning. If you are a Christian, and you are doing something that is blatantly sinful, and thinking God will overlook it, that is pride at its worst. God will not overlook disobedience, which is the core of sin. The problem is that if you are reading this and if you are doing what I suggested, you most likely will say that you are not a prideful person.

You will ignore the warning, because your pride will tell you it does not apply.You’re special to God. You don’t have to be perfect. A little sin will keep you humble. That’s why God allows you to keep it.
 
My friend, all of that is hogwash! And if you are telling yourself this is not for you, then you need to seriously ask God to search your heart and try you as if you’re life depended on it, because it does. God hates pride! And He will not allow it into heaven so you better get rid of it now. I will be back with more on pride in the coming days, because without a spirit of humility, a true spirit of reconciliation is impossible. In the next post, we will examine what pride is. I always thought I knew, but found out it takes on forms I was completely unaware of.
 
I hope you’ll come back.
Pete Gardner

His Mercy is There

I struggle some days to see
The mercy of God for me
I know He is there
I know that He cares
I just don’t know why He loves me

I know He sees all my faults
He sees the worst parts of me
But He quickly forgives
Then He helps me to live
In the mercy He pours out to me

His mercy is always there
His mercy is always there
No matter where I go
His mercy is there
I cannot escape His love
He showers me from above
When I look at myself
His mercy is there

I have to open my eyes
To see all the love He provides
It’s more than enough
To fill up my cup
He has an enormous supply

Now I can plainly see
That His mercy is meant for me
I raise up my hands
I thank God for His plans
He always does the best for me

His mercy is always there
His mercy is always there
No matter where I go
His mercy is there
I cannot escape His love
He showers me from above
When I look at myself
His mercy is there