AFM Ministry's David Shelton

David's Life applications of God, his Word and his calling

Month: March, 2014

Kept by God

Yahweh, Almighty God,
You are the  Creator, Upholder, Owner of all things,
I cannot escape your presence or control,
   nor do I desire to do so.
My privilege is to be under the rule of omnipotence, righteousness, wisdom, patience, mercy, grace.
You are love with more than parental affection;
I adore your heart,
   admire your wisdom,
   stand in awe if your power,
   lower myself before your purity.
It is the discover of your goodness alone that can
   banish my fear,
   allure me into your presence,
   help me to cry over and confess my sins.
When I review my past guilt
    and am conscience of my present unworthiness,
I tremble to come to you,
I whose foundation is dust,
I who have condemned your goodness,
    defied your power,
    trampled upon your love,
    rendered myself worthy of eternal death.

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But my recovery cannot spring from any cause in me,
I can destroy but cannot save myself.
Yet you, O God, have laid help on One that is mighty,
   for there is mercy with you,
   and exceeding riches in your kindness through Jesus, your Son.
May I always feel my need of him.
Let your restored joy be my strength;
May it
     keep me from lusting after the world,
     bear up my heart and mind in loss of comforts,
     make me alive in the valley of death,
     work in me the image of the heavenly,
     and give me to enjoy the first fruits of your Spirit,
         such as angels and departed saints know so well.
May I dwell in your house forever my God. Amen.

My adaptation of
‘Kept By God’, The Valley Of Vision, a collection of Puritan prayers.
 
May you be blessed as you humbly come before the majesty of King Jesus. He is the source of living water to all who thirst after God.
‘Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.’ – Matthew 23:12 ESV

Tale of two men

Man-1 said he believed in Jesus Christ. Attended church regularly, and took his family there, gave money to offerings, raised his family teaching them the Bible is God’s Word and to be known and followed. Yet this man rarely read his Bible, nor engaged his family directly in biblical teaching nor really spent time praying  much for them or with them other than simple meal prayers. Man-1 really didn’t like other people too much, especially who would not be of some benefit to himself and only befriended those who were like him or could make his life fun.
Man-1 encountered a needy looking man at Church who seemed to like  him and want to hang around with Man-1. But Needy-man was a mess and needed lots of time consuming mentoring to get his life in some order and this was obvious to Man-1 and so Man-1 avoided Needy-man every time  he was at Church, so he didn’t have to feel obligated to help Needy-man. And whenever Needy-man found Man-1, Man-1 would politely shake his hand and give quick polite greetings and try to quickly find some reason to depart Needy-man’s company, before he asked something of Man-1. Man-1 who said he loved Jesus and followed him never made any benefit in the life of Needy-man although he had time and means to do so even seeing no one else was helping Needy-man.

Few years later Man-2 shows up.  He too claimed to believe in Jesus and follow him also. He too raises his family in the Church and does his best to lead them in Biblical truth of following God. But Man-2 is different. He doesn’t avoid convicting Bible reading at home, but does so regularly and works on making life changes to really follow what he hears God saying through scripture. He tries to encourage his family to do likewise and he can be seen reading and studying his Bible and other books challenging his spiritual walk. He even goes out of his way to meet with other men to do Bible study and application to be held more accountable. Man-2 denies himself some worldly pleasures and lusts that Man-1 took much great pleasure in secretly and he fights against temptations and surrounds himself with wise protections to help guard his heart.
Man-2 attends a new local church and meets Needy-man who moved from attending his old Church where little love was shown him. Man-2 talks with Needy-man and listens to his situation and difficulty he is having in life, including lack of transportation to make it to Church on any regular basis relying on occasional rides from inconsistent friends. Rather than walk away and saying God bless and hope all goes well, Man-2 considers deeply the cost of helping Needy-man, because he too can see he is going to be a major effort if he starts helping him out. Man-2 is truly grateful to God for all the abundant blessings He has been undeservedly given by God; knowing he too was rescued from his own mess and insufficiencies.  Man-2 realizes he has means to help to some degree Needy-man, and so offers to pick him up and take him to Church each Sunday, realizing that was going to be potentially a life long needy man project that would require many more hours of his life and resources. Needy-man gladly accepted the offer.
Starting the next week, Man-2 began driving Needy-man to Church which led to later helping in many ways, like caring for physical needs, meeting many financial needs, helping provide a car, helping job hunt, taking him into his home for many months and giving much social and spiritual guidance to Needy-man. Man-2 now has a life long friend in Needy-man, who loves him… even though, Needy-man could never begin to repay Man-2. Man-2 invested much in Needy-man over 8 years and stood by him encouraging Needy-man even though he frustrated Man-2  at times with his slowness to grow in maturity as he had hoped over the years; yet Man-2 won’t ever give up on Needy-man because he knows God won’t give up on him and he has come to treasure the deepening brotherhood in Needy-man.

Of these two men. Which one has faith?
Both said they believed in Christ?  Jesus said in Matthew 7:24 ,“Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock” .  Also in Luke 6:43-44 Jesus said, “For no good tree bears bad fruit, nor again does a bad tree bear good fruit,  for each tree is known by its own fruit. For figs are not gathered from thorn bushes, nor are grapes picked from a bramble bush.” And James 2:14-16 says, “What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that?

Real Godly faith is marked by actions that live it. If there is no fruit, your words; your “faith” is meaningless.  Faith has feet. May you have fearless faith also just like God supernaturally gave to Man-2 because he really trusted in his God and knew all would be well in him.

I know this story well about Man-1 and Man-2 because it is a true story.  I was Man-1, and now I am Man-2.
To God be the glory, great things he has done !

– DC Shelton

How will your mercy triumph?

For judgment is without mercy to one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment.
(James 2:13 ESV)

God has gifted me as an evangelist. There is no greater joy I have in life than telling someone of my great Redeemer Jesus Christ and seeing them come to trust in him. About-Face Missions ministry is the Holy Spirit’s result of my and Jim Balls passion to see the world come to Christ and fulfill our purposes in this life. While our primary goal is, and always will be, to get the good news of Jesus told to as many as possible before we die, as ones who have received so much mercy and grace from God in our lives, we are driven by Christ’s love to help also in physical ways where we are able.  In our travels around the world, we have encountered some of the poorest of the poor, and the mercy of God in us compels us to show them mercy likewise. This two pronged approach of preaching the Gospel and helping the needy, especially those of the house of God, will always be a balance we will struggle with. We need to spend  time and money to get out the message of the Gospel, but we also need to spend time and money to help the poor and demonstrate the love and mercy of God in us and for them. This passage reminds me to not give up, turn back, or slow down. God’s rewards are much more than what the wealth of this life can ever give. It reminds me also that we cannot preach the Gospel without meeting needs when we have the means. How hypocritical that would be!

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Poor family living in a 10 x 10 lean-to along this wall in Peru

The context of this Scripture from God in James above is in showing honor and loving kindness and help to the poor among us and not showing favoritism to the wealthy, the better off, those who may be more pleasing to us for some fleshly reason. We read these scriptures and think at times how evil of a person to give higher honor to the rich man who comes into our presence and likewise looking down our noses and treating the lowly, less attractive, and poor ones as somewhat less… but this carnal nature is alive and well in most everyone of us today. And as a follower of Christ, this fleshly desire must be put to death daily!  We all have been guilty of this to some degree and it must stop.
God’s word is telling us to be merciful to the poor among us, for the Kingdom of Heaven, the Bride of Christ is primarily composed of these poor people in this life. Do you think God will be merciful to you it you treat his own Children with contempt? Think about how you live your life. Do you primarily show honor,  mercy and kindness and to those who can “benefit” you in some way? Don’t be so quick to say no. Most ‘Christians’ live like this unaware, even when they say they don’t, and only give their crumbs to the poor. If God exposed your monthly budget and spending, would we all see a life of self sacrifice of giving to those who cannot give to you any return in some way? Even the American churches fall under the indictment of God’s judgment in many ways like this. So much spent on self ‘needs’ and so little on the poor kingdom workers around the world. God sees it all my friends. Don’t be deceived.

We must examine our lives, wake up to our selfishness, repent and start changing the way we live. Don’t let your culture be your god. That is idolatry. You follow Jesus, even if few around you do. Love the ‘naturally’ unlovable, and those you don’t even ‘know’. Reach out of your comfort zones and find them. Don’t you see how unlovable you were before God rescued you? He reached out and found you. Love is intentional, never lazy and complacent.

  God demonstrated his love for us in this: while we were yet sinners… unclean, ugly, dirty, defiled, rebels fighting against God… Christ died for us. (Rom 5:8)

Now, if the Spirit of Christ lives in you, let’s get more radical in how we live for Jesus.
“Fear not”, God says, “For I am with you”!  (Isa 41:10)