Tuesday, October 09, 2007
You can start all over again by Bishop John Fowler
Yesterday I was privileged to attend the home-going (funeral) of Pastor Herbie Rogers. What a blessed man from God! What a turn around in a life! Two of the speakers were the Kingston Police Chief and the DA. Pastor Herbie was once hooked on crack/cocaine and had been arrested 86 times and put into jail. The DA stated, in the 30 years he knew Pastor Herbie (before he got saved), 80 of those 86 jail sentences were because of cases the DA brought against Herbie. But our God is awesome. God came into Pastor Herbie’s life, turned it around, and made Pastor Herbie a mighty man of God’s Kingdom, giving him a powerful ministry. The DA could hardly talk for tears, he had grown to love Pastor Herbie for the person God changed him to be. Pastor Herbie had a great passion for Outreach and was faithful to his jail/prison ministry. These ministries touched the entire Hudson Valley Region and beyond. At his home-going he received such honor for all he did for God’s kingdom. A packed church of people who were touched by this man is a profound testimony of the agape love that he showed people, and those who attended were from many area churches. Pastor Herbie started a ministry called TLC (Tender Loving Care) to reach out to those whose lives people believe will never turn around. He has transformed lives, and has had a tremendous outreach. He is best known for his “Wheelchair Testimony” that brought many to give their lives to Jesus Christ. At one point a hate monger tried to come to our town to spread his viciousness. Pastor Herbie stood up, gathered all the people together to pray against the situation. Churches united, the schools united, and the community united and this hate monger left town with his tail between his legs, not able to do what he had hoped to do. He also left town hungry, for no restaurant would serve him and his minions. That was a work of God. I count myself blessed to have known Pastor Herbie. He will be greatly missed.
A sermon was preached as a eulogy by Bishop Jonathan W. Fowler, who was Herbie’s pastor, and it touched my heart. I thought I would share my notes with you. Yes I even come to funerals with a Bible and notebook for you never know when God will speak.
We read John 8:1-11 But Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. Now early in the morning He came again into the temple, and all the people came to Him; and He sat down and taught them. Then the scribes and Pharisees brought to Him a woman caught in adultery. And when they had set her in the midst, they said to Him, “Teacher, this woman was caught in adultery, in the very act. Now Moses, in the law, commanded us that such should be stoned. But what do You say?” This they said, testing Him, that they might have something of which to accuse Him. But Jesus stooped down and wrote on the ground with His finger, as though He did not hear. So when they continued asking Him, He raised Himself up and said to them, “He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first.” And again He stooped down and wrote on the ground. Then those who heard it, being convicted by their conscience, went out one by one, beginning with the oldest even to the last. And Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst. When Jesus had raised Himself up and saw no one but the woman, He said to her, “Woman, where are those accusers of yours? Has no one condemned you?” She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said to her, “Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more.”
We then read 2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.
John 8:11 He said to her, “Woman where are those accusers of yours? Has no one condemned you? She said, “No one Lord.” And Jesus said to her, “Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more.”
No matter how you started off, it doesn’t affect your future. We may think everything is ok in our walk with God, but it may not be, there needs to be self assessment. We may look good on the outside and not be together on the inside. There may be stuff about us that has to be changed, that needs improvement.
Pastor Fowler told us we need to put up a sign, “Pardon our appearance, we are under renovation.” And also, “Please be patient with me, God is not done with me yet.”
As Christians we are not to get into a self-righteous attitude. We need to remember we are not where we used to be, or where we are going. We need to keep living to arrive at our destiny. We need to ask ourselves, “Am I ready if God called me today?” We don’t want to waste time pointing out others’ faults, but rather look at ourselves.
Romans 7:18-19 For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find, for the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice.
We need to kill our flesh (our actions that do not glorify God) daily. We are tired of being repeat offenders who keep on going back to what God saved us from. Are we Spiritual Repeat Offenders? What can free us from this cycle is a sure relationship with God. If we pick up a bad habit, God can set us free. If we get stuck in a cycle of destruction, God can free us. Our Spirit can be changed. You can start all over again.
God doesn’t determine our future based on our past! When you go to a bank to get credit, they look at your credit report and determine if you will be a good risk. God doesn’t do that. In fact, if you read the Bible you will see that EVERYBODY He used had bad credit.
Moses murdered someone, Paul murdered someone, Peter was a gossip, David committed murder and adultery, Rahab was a harlot, Jacob was a trickster. Don’t get sidetracked by your past. God has a future for you.
Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD; thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.
God has a plan for your life. It doesn’t matter where you are now. He is the architect. We may not physically see what God does in a life, but He has plans.
You may be an addict today but God has a plan for you.
God sees us in our future, and things are looking a whole lot better.
Regarding the adulterous woman that Jesus redeemed, Pastor Fowler asked, why is it when adultery is committed only the sisters are blamed, but the men go free? The man is just as guilty as the woman.
Pastor Fowler told us when God chooses you, He will not let you get away with what everyone else is getting away with. We will get uncomfortable in places we used to be comfortable in.
1 Peter 2:9 But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.
We were caught and brought to Jesus, and God has a plan and a purpose for us. God will call us in by any means necessary, he may even use people who don’t like you to be the vehicle to bring you closer to Him. The best place to be dropped off and let down is in His Presence. When people reject and hate you or turn on you all that does is push you closer to Jesus. Romans 8:28 And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.
Those people who set you up hoping you will fall will have their plans backfire when they see you should have fallen, but for Jesus Christ. Pastor Fowler told us we should pick up the phone or send those people a message thanking them for what they have done.
Genesis 50:20 But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive.
The woman caught in adultery was guilty, caught in the act. She made a mistake but her enemies brought her to the best place. They dragged her to Jesus. Have you noticed people try and use Jesus as a means to condemn a person for their sins? They try to make you feel bad, but when Jesus comes into your life, that changes. Jesus said, John 10:10 “…I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.”
They brought her to Jesus to kill her, but Jesus did not do that. Never once did he instruct them to remove her (the woman caught in adultery) from his presence. Jesus knew she was guilty, but never rejected her. You may be guilty, but Jesus will never reject you.
You can come into His presence guilty.
He will meet you right where you are. Pastor Fowler told us we need to make sure we allow those who really need God to feel comfortable in our churches. We are not to be self-righteous. Not condemn because of the clothing they wear, the way they smell, or because they don’t know the protocol of your church. We need to have a flashback and remember how it was when we first came to Him. Where would we be if God rejected us? If God left us in the “crap” house, or turned His back on us when we needed Him the most? What if God left us where we were?
Jesus knew she was guilty, messed up, and by law should be stoned. But Jesus decided to drop the charges. He defend her. He tells the people that the one without sin should be the first to cast a stone. Romans 3:23 For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. We all are guilty of doing something, what it was doesn’t matter. No one cast a stone.
Romans 8:33-34 Who shall bring a charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us.
No one has ability to change God’s mind about your future. The woman was left alone with Jesus and he asked her, “Woman, where are your accusers?” When Jesus gets involved He will reverse everything and everybody that tries to hold you captive, and everything that reminds you of the past. He removes the stains, blemishes, and sins of our past. A true encounter with Jesus leaves no trace, no evidence, no proof you are guilty. There is no evidence to build a case against you. The jury would have to acquit you of your past, for He has made a new creation.
Jesus tells the woman, “Go and sin no more.” You can start all over again. God gave many people in the Bible a chance to start over again.
Jonah, spent time in a big fish until he chose to do God’s will, but God permitted him to do His will.
Peter denied Christ three times and Christ restored him.
David took another man’s wife and arranged for her husband’s death. He confessed His sin against God, and God restored Him and did not take His Spirit from David.
Miriam (Moses’ sister) spoke out against her brother, and God gave her leprosy for a season, and then restored her.
The Children of Israel disobeyed God, made mistakes, but He kept restoring them and letting them start all over again.
1 John 1:9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
When we confess our sins to Him, we are cleansed
And 2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold all things have become new.
This Word is not just for unbelievers, but for believers also. If we have fallen and need to get back up, we can start all over again.
Galatians 5:1 Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage.
We can reclaim our liberty and start all over again. We can refuse to be in a state of depression, poverty, failure and faults. We can go to Christ and stand after we have fallen.
1 John 4:4 You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.
Hoping you have a blessed day!