“ON EAGLES” WINGS MINISTRIES”
“See how I bare you on eagles’ wings and brought you unto myself.” Exodus 19:4
Royce Kennedy ◊ 909 Whistling Duck Drive ◊ Largo, MD 20774
“I glory in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ” Part 3. October 2011.
We ended September’s newsletter by observing the dire consequences for running off on our own mission, serving our own interest even though we call on the name of the Lord, or thinking that we are acting on God’s behalf and in his will. We also examined Paul’s charge to Timothy as he serves as a brave soldier of Christ, counting himself worthy of all the hardships that accompany the work of the ministry. We made it a point of reference when compared to the ministry of the gospel of Jesus Christ here in America. I emphasize “here in America” because I get letters from pastors in India, the Philippines, Malaysia, and parts of Africa, who are laboring under great duress, and in conditions that are just about desolate. They labor in poor weather conditions, walking or riding donkeys for many miles, and minister to people who are living on the edge. I get photos that show the gatherings of people the sick and the poor, and children making the best of life in what looks like shacks. These ministers do their work out of a sense of God’s calling upon them. I would think that like the apostle Paul, they chose to glory in the cross of Jesus Christ our Lord.
When these ministers write or send e-mails, they do not ask for help for themselves. They are content to ride bicycles over rough and winding roads, or to ride donkeys from village to village. Their main concern is how to help those in need around them and those who have surrendered their lives to Christ. Shortly after I settled to pastor a church in Norfolk, Virginia, in 1970, I met a local minister with a business and a lovely church edifice. I remember that she took time off to go to the West Indies; I cannot remember if it was my homeland, Jamaica, or another island. But I do remember that as soon as she returned to the States, she decided to sell her property, close down the local church she had, and return to the islands. She said to me, “Brother, when I see how those people display a great hunger for God; when I see them hanging from windows and doors just to hear the gospel, I told myself that I was wasting time here in the States.”
Here again is a classic case of a servant of God turning her back on what can be a life of luxury in the United States; choosing rather to serve in harsher conditions, but where the word of God will be more eagerly received. Her personal cost quickly became irrelevant in the shadow of the cross of Jesus Christ. She saw a much higher and nobler cause in reaching others who are receptive to the gospel of the cross of Jesus Christ. One of the most satisfying moments in my life and it should be in yours, is to see lives being literally transformed before your very eyes. The act of transformation is so decisive and overpowering, that we stand in amazement as Christ reaches down, or out from within, and lift the guilt, the shadow of death, the grief and unbelief, and set the prisoner free. When I was a youngster growing up in my country village, located 75 miles east of Kingston, Jamaica, I used to be spooked by people getting saved. They went into trances, stayed in what we would today call an out-of-body experience. The change that was initiated in that process could not be denied or mocked. These folks would return to normalcy with new songs and revelations given by Christ, and the change in their lifestyle could not be denied. We deemed those experiences to be conversion and not merely standing in a line and repeat the sinners’ prayer and filling out a little card, even though varied steps do lead to Jesus Christ.
Paul’s ministry of the cross of Christ was most effective, because, number one, he obtained his ministry by the revelation of Jesus Christ, and he ministered the same, not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but by a demonstration of power. He did not control the power of the cross; rather, he let the power of the cross do the heavy lifting of souls being wrenched and wrestled out of the grip of Satan and escorting them to the very portals of glory, to make them sit in heavenly places with Christ Jesus. Paul as an apostle and an ambassador of Christ did not lay claim to prestige, honor and due respect. Instead, he placed himself at the bottom of the totem pole and assured us that he had become a spectacle unto the world. He became a fool so as to make others wise; and he became the Master at the feast, who’d rather stoop down and serve, even as low as washing the feet of others.
Back in the 1950s soon after I left bible school, I went to a parish located 50 miles to the north of Kingston to spend some time and preach for a student friend of mine whose father was a pastor in that city. While there I was told of a minister from one of the most recognized religion who took part in the ordinance of the “Lord’s Supper” which in many religious organizations is accompanied by the “washing of the saints’ feet.” The minister in question objected to the practice and refused to participate in the washing of the saints’ feet. He explained that his mother wanted him to become a minister, much like wanting your son to be a doctor or a lawyer, or an auto mechanic, so she sent him to college to learn religion. He said; “my mother did not send me to college for me to return to wash black people’s feet.” At least, he was honest! To round off the issue, he also was black!
Paul was so engaged with Calvary that he insisted that for him to live is Christ, and to die is gain. How can you equate or quantify such total surrender? Many years ago I was ministering in a small church a couple miles from downtown Ocho Rios, (meaning eight rivers) one of Jamaica’s most publicized and most active tourist center. At the end of the sermon I called for those who wanted to be prayed for, and in the process I asked each person what he or she wanted from the Lord. Last of all, the brother who headed the group knelt down before me wanting me to pray for him. I stooped down and softly asked him what he wanted from the Lord. I was totally blown away when he replied: “That I might have a ministry just like yours.” That took my breath away for a moment! I leaned over and asked him, “Brother, are you prepared to make all the sacrifices that I had to make?”
Ah! Yes! Many times you are coveted and envied for the blessings that are added to you openly, but many conveniently are oblivious of the sacrifices you had to make in secret. They are not aware of the many nights you walked the floor in prayer and supplication; the groans and tears that came in the mix of things. Have you ever heard the secular term, “There is no free lunch?” That holds true in spiritual matters also! If all you want is to be a part of that Sunday morning fashion show as you file into your neatly upholstered pew, the cost of becoming meat for the Master’s use simply does not apply to you. Here is a simple truth that we often miss. Do you pray for God to use you to be a blessing to others? Do you wish to be a vessel in the hand of the master?
Please slow down and observe that every time Jesus took bread to feed the people, the first thing he did was to “bless it.” That is the good news and the easy part; but the very next thing he did, was to break the bread so it can be multiplied to feed the multitude. Many times we dance and rejoice in the periods of blessings, being totally unaware of the breaking process that is to follow. Jesus never served unbroken bread, and we often sing, “Break me, melt me, mold me, and use me; Spirit of the living God, fall afresh on me.” But bear in mind that He is the Head and there are no hands on the Head, so he has to provide himself with two hands. Both hands work against each other in the molding process.
For instance, in shaping a dumpling by hand, one hand seems to move against the other, but that is how the needed friction is created. God will not use a vessel that has not been broken and remolded, and since the hands are on the body, he has to come to the body and select those he’ll use to do the breaking.
Moses had to be broken at the backside of the desert and at the burning bush had to take off his shoe so as to be naked before God’s holy flames. Isaiah had to be touched by the hot coal of fire from off the altar. Saul of Tarsus had to be exposed to the scorching fire of Christ on the Damascus road. Even John on the isle of Patmos, when exposed to the glorified Christ, fell at his feet as dead. Ezekiel had his death experience down by the river Chebar. Ezekiel 1: 28. Remember I said a while back that anything God touches, dies before it comes to life, and that is the law of germination.
If a single Christian thinks that Christ’s call to come and follow him means to come and live the good life, such person has missed the true meaning of the cross. Life has changed since Paul wrote his confession that he glory in nothing other than the cross of Jesus Christ. You and I are not required to ride donkeys or bicycles to preach the gospel, like ministers in India, the Philippines, and Malaysia. But I have driven up the hills of Kentucky on roads where two vehicles can hardly pass; to minister to a few country folk who had nothing to offer in return but some down-home country cooking. A pastor who invited me to come to India said that when the big time evangelists come to their country, they go to the big cities and conduct big crusades. But the poor people living in out-lying villages are always left out. He wanted me to come and join him in going from one small village to another sharing the message of the cross of Jesus Christ. My sincere conviction is that some people are given the option to make choices; however, some of us are not offered that luxury. We are prisoners of Jesus Christ, and on a personal basis we can say like Paul, “Woe is me if I preach not the gospel of Christ.”
We are now living in a world of “multiple choices.” That goes from buying automobiles, clothes, vacations, groceries, and religious affiliation, to mention just a few. It seems to be human nature to choose that which is within easy reach and requires less strain and effort. Lot saw the plains of Sodom with water and ample grass lands to feed his cattle, so having been given first choice he settled for Sodom. Abram was left with a granite mountain side, but God seemingly, was on that mount, waiting for the man of faith to join him there. Those of us who have lived many years have learned by experience that all things that glitter are not gold, and that the easiest way is not always the best and most productive. God prefers to make something out of nothing, and to use the weak to bring down the strong.
Some years ago a minister came to America from England to build a church in New Jersey. He brought with him a brief case filled with notes, directives, blue print to point the way ahead in setting up a nice religious entity. He had graduated from seminary and America became his mission field. He got himself a neat little office with fine fixtures. As he fasted and prayed for direction from the Lord, the voice that spoke to him said, “All those papers you have in your brief case on church building, throw them out.” He promptly obeyed and got rid of all those important documents that were his card and key to success. He was almost mortified but showed up at the office for his daily prayer and waiting on the Lord for answers. In desperation, one day he asked the Lord, seeing that he has destroyed all his important documents that were meant to enable him to start building a church, what will be his next step. The Lord replied in stark and candid language; “I will build my church.” A few months later he got an invitation to speak at a house fellowship in up State, New York, and to his amazement the meeting was well attended and he was well received. The next few days back home in New Jersey he went back to his office and from memory began to draw up plans to get a church off the ground.
The Lord stepped in and demanded of him; “So you are ready to take over, are you?” He broke down in tears and repented before God. He became a very successful minister with many books on the market. Listening to him on the radio one day, I heard him say, “No prayer goes to heaven except it came from heaven in the first place. God puts a prayer in your spirit, you speak it in faith, and it goes back to heaven and produce results because his word will not return unto him void.” Think on that truth for a while, because from experience we have learned that prayers we try to offer by our own effort seem to bounce off the ceiling with no result at all. We use the term, “prayers that do not go through!” But prayers that seem to drop in our innermost being from the Lord, seem to flow from our lips laden with virtue and divine life. This kind of prayer seems to come in waves and you are caught up to a higher realm where reality dwells. Instead of trying to pray, you are taken over by prayer in an effortless motion on your part. Thank you Jesus! Like I said earlier, this is college material!
Notice how carefully Paul went about fulfilling his ministry, by never allowing the effects and true meaning of the cross to be diluted or be forgotten by those he preached to. “For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words. Lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect. For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God. And I brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God. For I am determined not to know anything among you, save Jesus Christ and him crucified.” 1st Corinthians 1: 17, 18; 2: 1-2.
It is plain to see that our death upon the cross with Christ has been established in scripture as a stated fact, or declared truth, and is no longer something we hope to do, or a deed we hope will transpire somewhere along the way. Paul demonstrated his belief in the fact that he actually died when Christ died; so he had no resistance when letting go of the prestige and recognition that he toiled for all his life. He had no second thought in suffering the loss of all things and in counting them as dung. He did not whimper and brood over what he lost; yes, he counted them but filth. Again we are compelled to reassert that Paul did not see these things as mere theory, or truths to be embraced and appropriated to himself in a distant future. The truth is that although he was not standing at the scene of the crucifixion, and had no interest in the man Jesus, after his encounter with this same Jesus on the Damascus road, his new consciousness caused him to conclude that indeed, he was crucified with Christ. With that new mindset, he arrived into a new world where the only reality that existed was Christ, and him crucified. In the face of this truth, the old world of this man crumbled, and since he ended up as one with Christ in death and in life, he was able to say, “For me to live is Christ.” “Thank you Jesus!”
Paul reasoned upon a dynamic procedure that we seldom hear preachers build their sermons around. I personally, could not put it all together in a way that would explain and make simple, the reason why Paul could attest and confirm as truth, that he died with Christ upon the cross. It is not recorded in scripture that Saul of Tarsus was in Jerusalem and witnessed the crucifixion as we alluded to before. What truth did Paul learn from the law of ancestral lineage that enabled him to understand that he actually died with Christ? Follow me closely on this one, so that you will get a hold of this truth. Perhaps it will revolutionize your thought process and empower you with a new mindset. “As I may so say, Levi also, who receiveth tithes, paid tithes in Abraham. For he was yet in the loins of his father (actually his Great Grandfather) when Melchizedek met him.” Hebrews 7: 9, 10. Have you ever heard of a man paying tithes 400 years before he was born? Well, you just heard it! The scripture rightly states that Levi was in the loins “the ancestral lineage” of Abraham when he paid tithes to Melchizedek. Obviously, this was not merely a theory or a proposition; no Sir, no Ma’am! Believe its truth!
There are many scriptures that echo the truth, or resonate with the divine principle of us being in Christ. If any man be “in Christ” he is a new creation. How about us being seated in heavenly places “in Christ?” Let us consider this scripture for more knowledge of our origin as it relates to Jesus Christ. “For we are his (God’s) workmanship, (or his handiwork) created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before (i.e. before the foundation of the world) ordained that we should walk in them.” Ephesians 2: 10. Let us do a little baking here from scratch. You are ready to bake a birthday cake or an anniversary cake. You place on the kitchen counter next to the oven all the ingredients needed. First of all, is the finest grade or quality flour; you bring out butter, eggs, granulated sugar, salt, corn starch, essence of vanilla, nutmeg, and any other ingredient that you think will add body, flavor and taste to the finished product. After blending all the ingredients and placing it in the oven, you do not call it eggs even though eggs are in it. You call it cake! Not a single ingredient will then be called by its name; they all will be called “cake.”
We are God’s workmanship “created in Christ” so whenever Christ came into being, we were right there in Him; the Word said we were created in him. Can we put this in the context of time? How far back can we claim that we were created in Christ? First of all forget it, if you are thinking that it must be when you walk down the aisle to accept Christ as Savior. Listen to what Paul said to Timothy as he wrote about the power of God; “Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the
World began.” 2nd Timothy 1: 9. Listen to this my Friend! And put this into the inner recesses of your spirit. You don’t have to introduce yourself to Christ, and when you moved forward to accept him as your Savior, that was not the first time he learned of your existence. Oh, thank you Jesus! You were with him all the time, even before time began. Hold it! Some people frown upon this kind of philosophy, but this is not philosophy! This is gospel truth. We are God’s handiwork, created in Christ and before the world began; God willed it so. His will, purpose, and grace were given to us IN Christ Jesus before the world began, or before the foundations of the world were laid.
Looking upon the case of Levi paying tithes in Abraham, with the truth of scripture we shared above, we can begin to grasp the truth behind Paul’s declaration that he was literally crucified with Christ and was totally dead, but alive, yet not by himself, but Christ lived in his stead. Of course it is by faith, like salvation itself! Beloved, these are truths not be ignored or treated lightly. This is not a new doctrine that we are introducing to you. I offer scripture texts for every vital point that I make, so take time and go over them slowly and deliberately. If I am wrong, drop me an email or letter.
As you grasp these truths, you will begin to realize how divinely connected you are to Jesus Christ, and the wonderful part is that all of these transactions were accomplished in Christ before the world was formed. I am become struck, alarmed, and fascinated how God meticulously planned a world to be inhabited by a creation out of his own Son, and added this feature to the entire process. “Thou turnest man to destruction; and sayest, Return ye children of men.” Psalm 90: 3. As we reassess all of these features and wrap our arms around all of these acts of God, we can better understand why John wrote: “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son.” John 3: 16. We can now better understand why under a starry sky the angel could afford to offer peace and good will to all men; because no matter what state or condition mankind was in, the loving and mighty Creator was sitting at the wheel and having his hands on the control of our destiny. My Lord, I am totally amazed and even intrigued over these wonderful works of God. My hearts sings to the Lord and my soul delights in Him!
Royce O. Kennedy