My Life by the Spirit – Appointed Times

This may surprise you, but God knows EVERYTHING about you

Part 1 – Surrender
Part 2 – Appointed Times
Part 3 – Identity

I recommend a brief opening prayer to you…

Father, in the name of Jesus, please help me to trust you when you want to tell me about who I am.

In the previous post, I shared four important areas we will all encounter if we are determined to be the person God created us to be.

  1. Identity – It’s important that we begin to understand who the Word of God says we are in Christ.
  2. Appointed Times – God has specific appointed times that require us to make decisions.
  3. Choose to Surrender – During these appointed times we are commanded by the Word of God to choose to do it God’s way
  4. Power to Surrender – The Holy Spirit of God, through the power of the Fear of the Lord, empowers believers to want to and to do God’s good pleasure.

In this post, I want to share some of the appointed times the Holy Spirit has revealed to me in my walk with the Lord.

For 27 years, my life consisted of a 100% dedication to fulfilling my own desires without any regard or knowledge of God.  Then on Halloween 1996, everything changed.  After attending a lunch time bible study at my job I returned to my desk and began to weep uncontrollably.  Considering whether I was having a nervous breakdown, I came face to face with appointed time #1.

During this cry-fest, the Holy Spirit began to repeat the following phrase to me…”If you let go of everything in your heart against your family, I’ll take care of it“.  Now, the request may seem simple at first glance, however, if you consider that at this point in my life, I had been hurt and disappointed by so many people, it was a standard practice of mine to write off anyone I felt hurt me.  In other words, my mentality was this, even though I was not treating other people right, whenever a parent, sibling, girlfriend, friend or whoever hurt me or violated my trust, I simply resolved to cut them off from access to my heart.

First, I couldn’t figure out who was talking to me. Even though my mother did her darnedest to get me to turn my life over to Jesus, up to this moment, her speech and others went in one ear and out the other.  However, there was one difference at this moment.  The person speaking to me somehow knew about the unforgiveness hidden deep in the recesses of my heart.  Something I had never shared with anyone.  This fact, along with what I now know was the power of the Holy Spirit drawing me to God, caused me to know that it was God speaking to me.

So I’m now at a point of decision…I’m forced to make a choice.  Hold on to the unforgiveness or let go of it in hopes that the voice I’m hearing won’t let me down and keep the promise that was made.  Well, I agreed to do exactly what the voice asked me to do.  As I arrived at my apartment, with the Holy Spirit constantly repeating this phrase to me, I knelt in the center of my apartment and said to whoever was speaking to me, “OKAY, WHATEVER YOU WANT TO DO WITH MY LIFE IS FINE WITH ME“.   At that moment, I really only agreed in hopes that the uncontrollable weeping would stop.  It didn’t.

At this point, let’s take a look at the Word of God to see why the Holy Spirit kept repeating the same statement to me over and over.

In anger his master turned him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed.  “This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother from your heart  Matthew 18:34-35 (NIV)

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!  All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation  2 Corinthians 5:17-18 (NIV)

Hmmmm, upon reading these two verses, it’s crystal clear why the Holy Spirit kept repeating this phrase to me.  First, unless I was willing to forgive everyone, from my heart, of whatever wrong I felt had been done to me, I could not be forgiven for the 27 years of wrong I had done against God.  In addition, the passage in red above also states that without me making the correct choice at this appointed time, it was possible for me to be turned over to torment or torture.

Secondly, if I agreed to surrender all unforgiveness, I would be given a ministry of reconciliation.  Of course, I knew none of this at the time, but it was apparently on the mind of God all the while.  I would like to draw your attention to the fact that the Holy Spirit didn’t differentiate or specify who in my family I should forgive.  I can tell you that it was clear to me that I was being asked to forgive EVERYONE without regard for what was done to me or who did it.

Okay, it’s finally time to put an end to the crying game.  I finally got my mom on the phone to explain to her the nervous breakdown I was having.  She lovingly explained to me that I wasn’t having a nervous break down, but that it was time for me to get saved.  Okay…what the heck does that mean?  That’s probably exactly what I said, still weeping uncontrollably.  She said well, you need to confess that you are a sinner and accept Jesus as your Lord and Savior.  Now we hit appointed time #2.  Do I do what my fanatical, bible thumping mom recommends, or do I disregard what she said, even though I know something weird is happening?  Without a second thought, I agree…WHAT!  My sentiments exactly.  So I say the prayer and she’s all “I’M SO HAPPY”…then she says okay now you need to get baptized in the Holy Spirit.

That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved  Romans 10:9-10 (NIV)

In my mind I’m thinking, shoot that’s it, I’m good in that case!  As soon as I get off the phone, BOOM the uncontrollable weeping starts again and I cry myself to sleep.  This all happened on a Wednesday and my mom insisted I come to her church that Sunday.  Now we enter appointed time #3.

At this point in my life, my mom had been a Christian for 6 or 7 years.  So on occasion, I would visit her church at her request.  There was one thing I hated to watch.  Whenever they would pray for people, I would see people falling on the floor.  This just seemed insanely ridiculous to me.  So on my way to the church, since my mom made it clear I needed to come up for prayer, my mind was set, no matter what happens, I’m NOT falling down.

Service is over and I approach the altar.  A brother comes over to pray for me and I hit the floor like a ton of bricks.  As I’m on the floor, I can hear myself muttering pure gibberish.  BA BA DA…BA BA DA…BA BA DA…BA  BA DA.  My God, what have I gotten myself into.  Only this gibberish comes out of my mouth that entire day.

Over the next couple of weeks and months, the voice I originally heard on October 31, talks with me regularly explaining the meaning of the scripture to me as I sit reading the bible in my apartment.  The more I read the more condemnation I feel; or at least that’s what I knew it as.  Turns out, what I was feeling was actually the convicting power of the Holy Spirit.  So I decide to ask the Holy Spirit, if I’ve lived 27 years without having the foggiest idea what’s in this bible, how long is it going to take me to get out of what I’m doing?  His answer was simply, you didn’t get into this overnight and you won’t come out of it overnight.  Meet appointed time #4.  So you mean to tell me that after weeping uncontrollably for two days on and off, saying a prayer with my mother and falling on the floor at that church, I have to spend 27 years correcting wrong stuff in my life?  Yup

And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast  1 Peter 5:10 (NIV)

As you cam imagine, I’m feeling like this situation is hopeless.  Then, during an all night prayer shut-in at the church, while I’m kneeling on a chair praying, out of nowhere, the Holy Spirit says to me “I Love You Son”.  Meet appointed time #5.  BOOM, the uncontrollable weeping empties my tear ducts.  However, this time it isn’t something I don’t understand, I now exactly what’s going on.  My spirit is filled with the reality that no matter how many times I blow it, Jesus loves me the same through it all.  Just that quick, I apprehend my identity in Christ.  I am not defined by my failures, but by the love Jesus has demonstrated toward me.  In addition, the more I put my trust in Him, the more He agrees to be in relationship with me.  Sweet deal.  I still have to deal with the sins, mistakes and issues in my life.  However, it’s much easier to deal with them when you know you’re dealing with a God that isn’t angry with you nor wants to kill you everytime you blow it.

We love because he first loved us  1 John 4:19 (NIV)

So after about 4 weeks of reading the bible over and over to find out exactly how messed up I was, the Holy Spirit now begins to tell me I need to have conversations with my mother and my father.  It would have been fine if the nature of the conversations were about my new found experience.  However, they weren’t.  The Holy Spirit began to show me open visions of my childhood, things that were said and done to me and by me.  The Holy Spirit began to show me the hearts of my parents with full explanations on why things turned out the way they did.  The Holy Spirit then commands me to take this information to each one of my parents one at a time.  CRAP, Holy Spirit, you don’t know my parents.  Remember, it’s only been four weeks at this point.  Meet appointed time #6.  Long story short, God not only kept His promise and took care of each relationship between myself, my parents and my siblings.  He also took care of the Hatfield and McCoys relationship between my parents after being divorced for more than 25 years at this point.

See, I will send you the prophet Elijah before that great and dreadful day of the Lord comes.  He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers; or else I will come and strike the land with a curse  Malachi 4:5-6 (NIV)

“Honor your father and mother”–which is the first commandment with a promise– “that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth  Ephesians 6:2-3 (NIV)

Now we’re in December of the same year and the Holy Spirit reveals my wife to me.  I’m beginning to think this God has a sense of humor because, he gives me a love deep in my heart for this woman, but she’s dating another guy.  Then as I begin practicing sermons on my soon to be wife, even though she thinks I’m a fruitcake, the Holy Spirit begins to tell me things He wants reconciled in her family.  Meet appointed time #7.  The Holy Spirit instructs me to minister to the entire family based on information that He’s shared with me.  CRAP…AGAIN!  This is a family of mostly Muslim people.  There’s nine people, six of which are professing Muslims.  Okay Holy Spirit, things are getting wackier and wackier.  However, after stalling a bit, I call a family meeting maybe 6 months after my wife and I are married.  Long story short, what I thought was surely going to be one of the first religious wars in the city, turned out to be a hug, kiss and forgiveness reconciliation fest.  Four out of the ten are still professing Muslims, but all ten of them consider me the crazy son in law that has demonstrated love toward them.

Simon, I’ve prayed for you in particular that you not give in or give out. When you have come through the time of testing, turn to your companions and give them a fresh start  Luke 22:32 (MSG)

Recap

  1. Appointed Time #1 – CHOICE – Forgive or not forgive – Trust Jesus with my heart
  2. Appointed Time #2 – CHOICE – Enter salvation at the time salvation is offered or delay
  3. Appointed Time #3 – CHOICE – Trust my mom and the experience, even though it looks weird and I don’t understand
  4. Appointed Time #4 – CHOICE – Agree to surrender what promises to be a long road with God
  5. Appointed Time #5 – CHOICE – Do I continue to believe God is angry with me and can’t love me because of my MANY sins, or do I choose to believe what He said
  6. Appointed Time #6 – CHOICE – Trust God enough to be willing to upset the apple cart or rustle some feathers
  7. Appointed Time #7 – CHOICE – Trust what God says even when personal injury or mortality is at stake

While these examples of appointed times are unique to my life, I pray they are close enough to trigger thoughts of your own appointed times.  Please, if you will, imagine where I would be had I chosen to do the opposite on any of the choices presented to me.  Some appointed times are more critical than others, as I’m sure you can imagine.  Whether we know it or not, the everyday decisions we make can have a profound impact on others.

Beloved of God, your Father in heaven has a very detailed plan for your life already mapped out.  The individual day to day choices we make, determine how successful the Holy Spirit can be in revealing those plans to us.

I recommend a brief closing prayer to you…

Father, in the name of Jesus, I want to know the thoughts and plans you have for my life.  Lord Jesus, please forgive me for doing things my own way without seeking you first.  By the power of your Holy Spirit, teach me how to want and how to do your perfect will.  Amen