Tag Archives: God’s Favor

A Word of Caution: The Charges Were Never Dropped Against Us

If you know me or you’ve followed this blog, you know how I am about catchphrases in church. I do my best to combat them. I know that people wanna be clever and say cute things or things that will get them likes and shares on social media, but I always remind people that when it comes to the Word of God, clever, but out of context is still wrong. God’s Word deserve more respect than that. It should never be watered down or manipulated until it’s on par with a catchphrase.

One of the catchphrases getting traction these days in Christian circles is the statement “Jesus dropped the charges”. The first time I heard the phrase, it was in a viral video where a woman was giving her testimony. In short, she said she went to court one day, believing she had a warrant, but to her surprise, the warrant was nowhere to be found. From there, she exclaimed “Jesus dropped the charges!”, and the church went up.

I found it hilarious. I probably even shared it on my Facebook page, because contrary to what people may think when I tear down a Christian catchphrase, I love a good laugh. However, it’s all fun and games until people start taking that joke as Bible.

And here is my issue with things like “When praises go up, blessings come down”, or “Too blessed to be stressed”, things that aren’t supported by Scripture. People begin quoting them so often that they become the fabric of our churches. Combine that with people that won’t come to Bible class to see that some of these things aren’t anywhere to be found in the Bible, and you have people that will quote catchphrases as if they actually are Bible Verses. This seems like a small thing, but it can be quite problematic to the faith.

When we start leaning on things like “Jesus dropped the charges”, we fail to examine what that statement is saying. Again, don’t get me wrong. I love a good joke. As long as it stays that way when it comes to what we believe in our Christian faith. When we examine that statement of charges dropped, we must realize what that means. When charges are dropped, people go free and nobody pays a penalty. Nobody, that is, but the victim of the crime.

When charges are dropped, it’s sometimes due to a lack of evidence, and other times, people being falsely accused. In the case of the young woman in the viral video, she could’ve fallen into either of these categories and thus, the charges were dropped. However, in the case of sin, even though grace and mercy was given to us, there is no lack of evidence and we are by no means innocent or falsely accused.

A quick trip to the book of Romans helps us to understand all of this. In Romans 3:23 we find that we all have sinned and fallen short of His glory (charges filed). In Romans 6:23 we find that the wages of sin is death (punishment established). However, in Romans 5:8-11 we find that while we were sinners (guilty) Christ died for us, and through His blood, we escaped condemnation (freed, but not innocent). Yes, we got off, but not because God backed off. We got off because Jesus stepped up.

The crime of sin that you and I commit on a regular basis is a crime against God, and therefore, God is the first victim of our crimes. David says to God famously in Psalms 51:4 (NLT):

“Against You, and You alone, have I sinned; I have done what is evil in your sight. You will be proved right in what you say, and your judgement against me is just.”

David understands his guilt and he understands who he’s harmed. He also understands that whatever punishment he receives is just. And if you know the story of David and Bathsheba, you know that even though God didn’t take his life, there was still a price to pay (2 Samuel 12:13-24). When you and I sin, we can throw ourselves on the mercy of God’s court and sometimes we won’t pay as harshly as we should for what we’ve done, but that will never, ever be because God dropped any charges against us.

As David said, the evidence is against us. We have fallen short of His glory, just as the Bible says we will (Romans 3:23). Hebrews 9:22 (NLT) tells us that “without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness”. This means that charges are never dropped as it relates to our wrongdoing. Somebody had to pay.

When we reduce grace, mercy, redemption, and forgiveness to mere catchphrases, we minimize the work of the cross. We minimize the sacrifice that Jesus made for us by taking our place on the cross. He who knew no sin became sin (2 Corinthians 5:21) can be translated, He who did nothing wrong paid for the wrong that was done. No, Jesus didn’t drop the charges, Jesus took the charges.

Again, I’m not trying to ruin anybody’s fun, but the church must always remember what’s true. Isaiah 53:5-6 (NLT) says:

“But he was pierced for our rebellion, crushed for our sins. He was beaten so we could be whole. He was whipped so we could be healed. All of us, like sheep, have strayed away. We have left God’s paths to follow our own. Yet the Lord laid on Him the sins of us all.”

We must remember that if everybody gets away with it, then grace is rendered unnecessary. The moment that we forget the fact that someone else paid for what we did, that’s the moment we begin to live recklessly, and that’s the moment that we become ungrateful. I hate to be a wet blanket, but in the midst of our having fun, let us never forget what was done for us on Calvary just to get a few likes, laughs, shares, and amens. Be creative, but be sound. Have a laugh, but have respect for the truth of The Word.

Hebrews 12:2 reminds us that He “endured the cross, disregarding its shame”. My brothers and sisters, there are no dropped charges for the Christian. If I can borrow another catchphrase, “Jesus paid it all”. That one fits because He really and truly did pay for our sins. The nail prints in His hands and feet tells us that someone faced punishment for what we did. Embrace your freedom and celebrate your escape. But in the midst of your celebration, never forget how you got free in the first place.

How God Dealt With A Murderer

Rev JacksonOne of my favorite contemporary Gospel songs ever is Tye Tribbett’s “If He Did It Before…Same God”. If there’s ever a sentiment that needs to be echoed throughout the church, it should be the fact that we’re serving the same God that He’s always been.

This God that we’re serving is grandmama’s God. It’s The Apostle’s God. It’s Elijah and Elisha’s God. It’s David’s God. It’s Joshua and Moses’ God. It’s even Adam and Eve’s God. He’s the same God, capable of the same things. If I were one to step outside of The Word, I might even try to convince you that He’s even MORE powerful, simply because I believe He could increase if He so desired. However, I’ll stick with what He says in Scripture, and that is that He doesn’t change (Malachi 3:6). He’s the same yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8).

However, this post isn’t just about the awesomeness and magnitude of our God. Though He’s worthy of the praise, this post is to highlight the fact that whatever God has done, He’s capable of doing over and over again, with and through whomever He chooses. I feel it’s necessary to remind the church every now and then that throughout the existence of time, when man didn’t understand what God was doing or couldn’t comprehend how He was gonna do what He set out to do, man has often doubted the power, ability, and capability of God, and every time man has been proven wrong. He is the God of Luke 1:37. With Him, nothing shall be impossible.

As we arrive at the purpose behind this piece, we see in current events the case of Botham Jean, a black man that was killed in Texas on September 6, 2018, in his own apartment by a white female police officer, Amber Guyger. Guyger stated that she mistakenly walked into Jean’s apartment, thinking it was her own, and she shot him because she believed him to be an intruder. Jean was sitting on his couch eating ice cream when he was killed.

On October 1, 2019, Guyger was found guilty of murder. On October 2nd, she was sentenced to 10 years in jail. She could’ve received 99. During the sentencing phase, Botham Jean’s 18-year-old brother, Brandt, offered forgiveness to Guyger, and even went so far as to hug his brother’s killer. Surprisingly (or maybe not), this act of grace caused much debate, and even some outrage in the Christian community about whether or not she should’ve been forgiven, and there was even more anger about the hug. I won’t unpack all of my thoughts on that here (there will be a podcast forthcoming), but I will say that as Christians, the Bible already states what should happen. What we’re saying as a church is some cases is what actually would happen by our hands. And much of that is disheartening.

This caused me to think: How would God have dealt with a murderer? What would God do with someone like Amber Guyger, someone that killed someone that was sitting on his couch, in his apartment, minding his business and eating ice cream? How would God handle someone that killed a man who, by all accounts, was saved and living his life for Christ? Even Botham’s brother Brandt said to Guyger as he forgave her, “What Botham would’ve wanted was for you to give your life to Christ”. What would God do with someone who had done such a thing as Guyger has done?

One example that came to my mind was Acts Chapter 9. Now, before you get to a place where you say “How dare we compare this woman to the Apostle Paul”, I would challenge you to read the text, particularly the first few Verses. We aren’t talking about the Apostle Paul. We’re talking about Saul of Tarsus. We’re talking about Saul, the church persecutor. We’re talking about Saul that watched Stephen die in Acts 7. We’re talking about Saul, the Christian murderer (Acts 9:1).

What we see in the 9th Chapter of Acts is how God dealt with a murderer. He confronted him. He interrogated him. He accused him. Then, He took his physical sight so that He might give him some spiritual insight. Once He did that, He ordered a disciple to go and minister to him (Acts 9:10-18). By the time we get to the middle of the chapter, God had redirected the passion of this murderer, and caused him to go out and preach the same Gospel that he once sought to destroy.

When it’s all said and done, a man who had once murdered Christians because of their beliefs, Christians that were minding their own business and living their lives, had become the most prolific writer of the Bible we now hold so dear. Sunday after Sunday, Wednesday after Wednesday, and any other day that The Word goes forth in our churches, we can be found quoting, teaching, preaching, and living according to the Holy Ghost inspired writings of a man that was once one of the most dangerous men in the history of Christianity. All because God chose redemption over retribution one day on the Damascus road.

So, what does this have to do with Amber Guger, you ask? What I’ve come across in the past few days, in the wake of Brandt Jean’s passionate act of grace, are people from the pew to the pulpit that seem to want to throw this woman away. In the name of racial pride and alleged “righteous Christian anger”, people have scolded this young man for forgiving instead of being bitter because she got 10 years instead of 99. People have mocked him for understanding that forgiving is his responsibility as a Christian, and any retribution is God’s responsibility, and not his, the court or the jury’s.

What this has to do with Amber Guyger is she was shown some Christian love when everybody would’ve understood on some level if she wasn’t. What this has to do with Amber Guyger is even though she’s done something heinous, she’s not beyond saving, just like Saul wasn’t. We don’t know what God has in store for this young lady, but I assure you that if she gives her life to Christ, this will be a Damascus road moment in her life. If she’s saved behind all of this, she will no doubt look to this moment, where anger and other feelings may have been justified, but instead, she encountered forgiveness.

When God encountered a murderer on the Damascus road, He didn’t see someone that needed condemnation, even though he deserved it. He saw someone that needed saving. He saw someone that He could use. He saw someone that Christian society wanted done away with, but He decided that Saul could be used for the greater good. This didn’t sit well with the entirety of the Christian community, but I’m here to tell you that God has yet to make a mistake. No matter what anybody thought of it at the time, God was right.

All of us don’t have the testimony of being a murderer, but according to Scripture, all of us have the testimony of being on the wrong side of God and needing to be saved (Romans 3:23, 5:8, 6:23). In one way or another, we’ve all been where Amber Guyger may find herself right now. At a crossroads between hell and salvation. It should be the desire of any saved Christian that she chooses life. It should be our desire that she be saved. It should be our desire that she be saved without a caveat (“She can have Christ as long as she does time”). After all, most of us have been saved without having to be jailed for our crimes against God.

Now, I know what the climate is in this country as it relates to police officers and the black community, particularly our men. As a black man with 3 black sons, believe me, I’m concerned. I wouldn’t dare suggest to you that Amber Guyger shouldn’t do some time. According to the law of the land, she should be jailed. However, as a Christian and God’s preacher, no matter what I may feel in my flesh, it is my call, my duty, and my responsibility to always end up back at God and His Word. His Word says that we all have a shot at salvation (John 3:16). His Word also says that we don’t always get what we really deserve (review those Romans Scriptures again). By definition, that’s grace.

This may seem too holy and spiritual for some, but I just believe with everything in me that God is a righteous judge and He handles these things. Sometimes with 10 years, sometimes with 99 years, sometimes with no time at all. As hard as it may be sometimes, I have to trust whatever He does and in the event that He makes a decision I don’t like, I’ll have to ask Him to help me to accept what He’s done with humility and grace.

In the end, we all have a blind spot when it comes to what God does. He does things every day that we never see. That means that whether Amber Guyger is behind bars or not, God will deal with her. The struggle for Christians is in the fact that God doesn’t need our approval or input. He’ll deal with her as He sees fit. Whether she received 99 years or 99 days, God will deal with her. He will do so in the blind spot for most of us, meaning we may not ever know what was done. But if we trust Him like we say we do, we’ll know just as it was with Saul, God will be right.

Like it or not church, the same grace afforded to you, me, and Saul is available to Amber Guyger. If she chooses God behind all of this, He will receive her. And if we’re really saved, we should applaud that if it happens. As Brandt said, what we all should really want is for her to give her life to Christ. What we’re really afraid of is someone getting away with, well, murder. But I would have you to consider Acts 9:16 when God says to Ananias: “For I will show him (Saul) how many things he must suffer for my name’s sake”. I would have you to consider all of trials and tribulations that Saul suffered as Paul, God’s chosen vessel. I would argue that He didn’t “get away” with anything.

In the event that there’s malice in Amber Guyger’s heart and she’s somehow not really remorseful for what she’s done, I would have you to consider Romans 12:17-19 where God tells us to repay no man evil for evil, to live in peace with all men, and that vengeance is His and He will repay. That should comfort you to know that nobody ever “gets away with it”. They either repent or they’re punished, and believe it or not, it’s possible to repent and be punished (see David).

I would have you to consider that if Saul wasn’t too hard for God to turn around, neither is Amber Guyger. She can be saved. As a church, we should want her to be saved. We should want that more than we want her in jail, because if she goes to jail to our satisfaction, but rejects Christ, we shouldn’t rejoice. We should be sorrowful, just as we should be when anyone rejects Christ.

We should remember that there were many in the church that saw Saul as unredeemable. How can a murderer ever be on the same side as Christ? But God didn’t see it that way. He did what seemed to be impossible. He saw a murderer and He redeemed him. He picked him up. He turned him around. He used his passion for good and not evil. He saw that he had some redeeming qualities, just as we all do. And if He did it before, He can do it again. Same God right now. Same God back then.

God is still rewarding faithfulness

Over the last month or so on the “Your Life With Purpose” radio broadcast, we’ve been discussing Abraham and faith. One of the most enduring lessons that I have relearned as I’ve gone through these shows and the pages of my Bible is that there were times when Abraham moved without questioning God, there were times when he didn’t trust God as completely as he should have, and there were even times when he thought what God was saying was so outrageous, that he laughed at God. However, the thing that stands out the most is that Abraham was ultimately faithful to God, and God was in turn faithful to Abraham.

What I often find amazing in my writing and in my ministry is that I’m often trying to encourage others with my thoughts or words, and in the end, I end up encouraging myself. I do my best to be obedient to the Holy Spirit in reference to what I speak and write, only to go back and realize that God was ministering to me. While people have often told me how they consider me strong in my faith, I always remind them that I ask God questions as well. I do my best to obey Him, and I assure you that I never doubt Him, but I will ask questions.

I do wonder why I’m put in certain positions. I do wonder at times why it seems as if I’m overlooked in certain areas of life and ministry. But what I love about God is that He doesn’t answer me in words, He answers me in action. He answers me in provisions. He answers me in protection when I feel under attack. He answers me by preparing a table for me in the presence of my enemies. Even when I have questions, God answers with faithfulness. Even when I find it challenging to serve, I feel as if I have no choice because He always rewards my faithfulness.

What we can learn from Abraham is that in the midst of doubt, fear, trepidation, concern, and all out disbelief, even when our faith is lacking, God is still a rewarded of them that diligently seek Him. If you look through the narrative of Abraham, you find him doing two things quite often: Talking to God and worshiping God. He was committed. Know that God is still blessing people just for ultimately believing in Him. God is still moving on behalf of people that hesitate when He calls them to the impossible, but will ultimately proceed anyway. God is still rewarding faithfulness!

We often find ourselves in places where we feel overwhelmed, unappreciated, unprepared, and even unqualified. The truth of the matter is some of those places are the places that God has actually called us to. We must remember that God rewards our faithfulness, not our perfection. He rewards us according to our obedience, not according to our accolades and acumen. He knows we don’t have all the answers. He knows we’ll doubt at times. He even knows we’ll fall short from time to time. But if we stay with God, He’ll stay with us. And not only will He stay with us, He will reward us.

God reminds Abraham, and even us, in Genesis 12:3 that if we remain faithful Him, He will “bless those who bless you, and I will curse him who curses you”. This encourages those of us that are fearful of what man will do to us, and it encourages those that seek to help us along the way because they are faithful to what God is doing in our lives. All that God promised Abraham came to fruition, not because he was perfect, not because he did everything right, and not because he was the most gifted. God blessed him because he believed and because he was faithful.

You’re right, they don’t support you. But there’s more to the story.

You’re not crazy. Don’t let people make you think that you are. The very people that should support you in some way, form or fashion, the people that you call bro, sis, bother, sister, cousin, mother, father, friend, and even sometimes BFF, etc, are ignoring your efforts to live your dreams and create a better life. You see it because they do it in the open. The neglect is real. No, you’re not crazy. But you’re not defeated either.

If there’s anything that I’ve learned on this journey of entrepreneurship and individual ministry, it’s that God is The One that makes a way, and therefore, God is The One to be counted on. Many of us have simply misidentified our target (I’m guilty of that). We’ve missed who God has sent us to impact because we’re trying to reach for what’s right in front of us. However, the truth is who we’re near and who we’re meant to reach can often be two different things.

The fact remains that Jesus Himself had to leave His kindred and do the works that God sent Him to do (Mark 6:1-6). It was for them, but someone else had to receive it before they could appreciate it, and they still never fully did that. If Jesus faced rejection and neglect in light of His tremendous purpose, it’s going to be the same for you and I. But there is more to the story. God will still make a path for you.

Sure, many of us will claim to have haters that we don’t have, but that’s because we often fail to see that people don’t have to be haters in order to not support you. It’s true, some are haters, but some are also indifferent, and some quite honestly see you as competition or a threat. But if your eyes are on your God and on your mission, even though you see what you see and feel what you feel, you won’t be terminally affected, and most importantly, you won’t quit.

I’ve survived a lack of support by people that embraced me regularly and told me they loved me, just so that they can turn around and talk openly or post online about people that did the same thing that I do, while never saying a word about their “bro” or sending any love my way. I’ve survived my own mismanagement of my ministry, missing both financial support and other opportunities, because I was more focused on getting support from who I thought should have been supporting instead of going where God told me to go for support. You could almost say that I was constantly missing the bus because I was consistently standing at the wrong bus stops.

I’ve survived days when I looked up and the ministry was a one man show from beginning to end because my passion and perspective superseded those that pledged to help, but they didn’t know what help really entailed, and they bailed on me when they found out. But in the midst of it all, God was in the midst of it all. I’m still going. Not because of me, but because it’s greater than me. I’m still going because God has purposed this work, not because man supported this work.

I just want to encourage somebody today and tell you not to give up and not to give in. Remember why you started, and if the only goal was to be loved and accepted by all, you may need to adjust your goals because that one is unattainable. Remember, Jesus Himself was rejected by family, friends, neighbors and such. He was sent away by people who actually needed what He had. Work your plan according to The Master’s Plan (Matthew 6:33). That’s the true definition of success. Be encouraged on today. God has a victory waiting for you that no amount of earthly support could ever match.

Your Faith Must Match Your Vision 

God is showing some people some amazing visions these days, myself included. There are businesses that He wants to birth, ministries that He wants to bring to fruition, and dreams that He wants to fulfill. The only thing that can stop us is a lack of faith, not a lack of resources. 

The Bible tells us in Hebrews 11:6 that it is impossible to please God without faith. That tells me that impossible is where our dreams die. Impossible is what will cause us to lose when we’re born to win. Impossible is a disappointment to God. Impossible shouldn’t be in our Spiritual nature because it’s not in God’s. 

Scripture also tells us that faith the size of a grain of a mustard seed can move mountains (Matthew 17:20). Therefore, if your vision is larger than a mountain, you must increase your faith even more. At the bare minimum, we should all have mustard seed faith. Just imagine what a little boost can do for you. 

Scripture also reminds us that with God, nothing shall be impossible (Luke 1:37). Therefore, we must remove that word from our vocabulary. The struggle that we have with the gap between our vision and our faith is we’re often in moments of discomfort when the vision comes.  

God shows you the business plan when you’re broke with a mountain of bills. God shows you the plan for the ministry when people are still questioning your call and your ability. God shows you the better career when you’re barely holding on to a job that you hate, but you need for your survival! Yes, God will show you the best of life when it seems that you’re at your worst points. That’s not a time to shrink in your faith. That’s when you must grow! 

I encourage those that may be reading this to see God more clearly than you see your circumstances. You could have all the money in the world, but if you lack faith, you’ll be scared to invest it in your dreams. So see the vision more clearly than you see your lack of income and/or opportunity. God will never lead you to it without a plan to feed you through it. Trust Him more than you fear failure. He’s committed to you. Increase your faith. See the vision clearly. Watch God work!

Get Ready For Your Elevation!

There comes a moment when God wants some alone time with His children. Away from where we think we should be, and certainly away from where we used to roam and from what we used to be. Maybe He called you out of a bad relationship. Maybe He called you out of physical or spiritual bondage. Maybe He called you off of an unfulfilling job or out of a church where you could no longer produce. Or maybe, just maybe, He called you away from who you’ve been, so that He can bring you to be what He wants you to be.

It’s during this time of isolation that God will shape you and mold you into what He wants you to be and what you need to be for the next level of your journey. It’s during these moments when God will cause you to re-evaluate your life and whether or not you’re effectively operating in your purpose.

It’s during these times that even those around you may seem as if they’re “funny acting”, they have no time for you, or they’re kicking you out of their circle. But 2 Corinthians 6:17 says “Come out from among them and be ye separate, says The Lord”. So, know that they’re not kicking you out, they’re kicking you up! God has a new you waiting at the next level!

Know that your isolation is preparation for your elevation. Enjoy your alone time with God. Don’t despair when your phone calls go unanswered. Don’t worry when the enemy attacks you for leaving your former place. Be not dismayed when you had more company in bondage than you have when your chains fall off. Get ready, child of God. It’s time for your elevation!

(Like that “Isolation for Elevation” t-shirt Rev. Jackson is wearing? Click here to order yours in support of the “Your Life with Purpose” radio broadcast!)

Rejecting God: We ignore much more than we miss

Did you really miss your blessing or did you just ignore it when it came? I’m a writer by nature and by profession, so I’m a stickler for words. It’s popular for us to say things to people like “You missed your blessing” when they seem to have bypassed God’s provisions. But I want to challenge that thinking, because upon further inspection, I find that we don’t miss God with anywhere near the regularity that we actually reject Him.

It’s really very simple to me. As an example, if you miss a bus, you either weren’t there when the bus showed up or you arrived as it was pulling away and you couldn’t catch it. However, to reject a bus means that you were standing there when it arrived, you knew that it would take you where you wanted to go, but for whatever reason, you refused to get on. 

Maybe it was too crowded. Maybe you didn’t like the style of the bus because it was an older model and not a brand new bus. Maybe you didn’t like the driver. Whatever your reason for not getting on, there’s no doubt about it, the bus came. You just rejected it and now it will take you longer to get to your destination.

The truth is God is always placing blessings right in front of us. The lie is that we somehow know better than God. Often, the blessing doesn’t look like we want it to look or it doesn’t come when we expected it or from where we expected it. We fail to see that God designs the blessing to fit its purpose, not necessarily to be pleasing to our eyes or our other human sensibilities. Can He design such a gift that’s pleasing to us? Of course He can. But we’ll often only see it that way when we use our vision as opposed to our sight.

The point here is this: To suggest that you missed something from God is to suggest that God’s timing is somehow off. Now, you may be saying, “Wait Rev, if I say I missed it, how am I blaming God?” Well, let me hit you with another Christian catchphrase: “He may not come when you want Him, but He’s always on time.” That says to me that if you’re early, God will be there. If you’re running late, God will be there. You can’t miss what God has for you, but you sure can reject it trying to do things according to your own understanding. 

Even if your aim is off, God’s aim is true. And even though we may miss out on some things, we won’t miss it in its entirety. But you wanna know what else is awesome about God? Even when you reject Him, He’s so full of grace, that He’ll bring that blessing back around and give you another chance at it. However, I must warn you. You don’t wanna keep ignoring God. You may find yourself stuck with your plan instead of His, and that’s a mess you don’t want. My suggestion to you? When the bus comes, don’t outsmart yourself. Your best bet is to just get on.