See how I bare you on eagles’ wings and brought you unto myself.” Ex.19: 4.

Royce Kennedy ◊ 909 Whistling Duck Drive ◊ Largo, MD 20774
Website: www.godfire.net/kennedy/



“Living your Cause & serving your Purpose.” December 2015. Part 2


“Then said I, Lo, I come (in the volume of the book it is written of me,) to do thy will O God.” Hebrews 10:7. “Though he were a Son, yet he learned obedience by the things which he suffered.” Hebrews 5: 8.

 In last month’s newsletter, we examined the contrasting series of events that transpired in the life of the young lad Joseph. The catalogue of the events that transpired in the life of Joseph was an integral part of God’s master plan in fulfilling his promise to Abram that was made in about B.C.1913. But in the broad spectrum of the creation of Israel serving four hundred years of servitude in Egyptian bondage, where we reached last month is probably only the half way in this drama that continues to be studied and preached for thousands of years now.

           As we said, God made the promise to Abram in about B.C. 1913, putting the events of the life of Joseph into a single package, the rest of his family finally entered Egypt in B.C. 1706, making it two hundred and seven years since God made promise to Abram. Now begins the hard part! “Now there arose up a new king over Egypt, which knew not Joseph. And he said unto his people, Behold, the people of the children of Israel are more and mightier than we. Come on, let us deal wisely with them; lest they multiply, and it come to pass, that, when there falleth out any war, they join also unto our enemies, and fight against us, and so get them up out of the land. Therefore they did set over them taskmasters to afflict them with their burdens…And the Egyptians made the children of Israel to serve with rigor: and they made their lives bitter with hard bondage, etc. etc. Exodus 1: 8-14.

           All of the incidents, trials, imprisonment, and rising to be like a father to Pharaoh that transpired in the life of Joseph, was a pathway that led to this moment when Israel’s tribulations began: thus, covering a period of about two hundred and seven years. In other words, it took 207 years for God’s promise to Abram to come to fruition. In studying God’s word, we are often confronted with “why, how, when, and where.” For instance, why did God assign four hundred years of bondage in Egypt for Israel to serve (and they actually served 430 years.) “And they shall afflict them four hundred years.” Genesis 15:13. I am sure the answer can be found in the study of numerology of which my knowledge is limited to say the least.

 Whether known or unknown to Joseph, he served his destiny with candor and abundant faithfulness. In so doing, he did not allow one iota of God’s promises to fall to the ground. His faithfulness also reflected the assurance given to us that: “God is not man that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent: hath he said, and shall he not do it? Or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good?” Numbers 23:19.  

 As we indicated last month, events in our lives, both spiritual and secular, became more pronounced and vivid as we grew older. No matter in what category or social plateau of life we were born: be it royalty, the aristocracy, or a simple commoner, we began life’s journey by accepting the teachings and directions of our peers and our parents. Our early years are simple and fun-loving, with no suspicion or imagination of the perils that accompany adult life. Even today, I reminisce over my days in school, and the weekend fun I had with my schoolmates. Those days of bliss seemed permanent to our young minds.

           In those playful years of childhood bliss, knowing what one is born to be when one enters the years of adulthood, remained shrouded and hidden in the mystique. In rear cases, there are some who begin at an early age to discover certain rear gifts, and abilities that are not common. But even those with uncommon and rear gifts; don’t immediately know what their cause and purpose in life really is.

           Let us apply this to those who recently accepted Christ as Savior, and have become active in “church life.” As a rule, members of the congregation, and especially aspiring young ministers, look to the clergy and church officials to direct them into the ministry: and to tell them what part of the Body of Christ they are best suitable to serve. After arriving in the United States from London, and beginning to minister in various local churches up and down the East Coast, and all the way to California; I quickly became alarmed at the number of people who did not know what or where their place is, in the Body.  Of course, this is nothing new; because overall, believers in Christ are not usually taught to seek out what their calling and purpose in the Body is destined to be.

         Many others quickly feel that after getting saved, the next big step is to begin preaching the gospel. Each time I was approached by an energetic young man who felt that God has called him to preach, I chuckle a little bit inside. Why? Because it is obvious that the greater percentage of new Christians seem to think that preaching the gospel was the zenith (Apex) of religious excellence. Of course, at their tender age they cannot understand the concept of the “the message and the messenger becoming one.”

        They have no concept of the fact that becoming the message, lessens the need to preach the message. It means, “Show me, instead of telling me.” Sometimes I ask from the pulpit: “How is it I do not hear people saying that God has called them to drive the church bus? How is it I do not hear some say that God has called them to visit the sick and help the elderly saints living alone in a high rise apartment? With the emphasis placed on preaching, the cause and purpose that God has placed upon those that comprise his body, is either missed all together, or never was made known on a personal basis. I was saved in a period when the Latter Rain movement came to Kingston, Jamaica. In our local Assembly we received directions from the Lord, mainly through the gift of prophecy: and sometimes through the gift of tongues and the interpretation of tongues. So the next account in this lesson brings me back home and makes me feel like the good old days when we heard directly from the Lord in just about every service.

           Let us join the worship service now in session in the church at Antioch; and watch carefully how important in the proper functioning of the church, the gifts of the Spirit are. “Now there were in the church that was at Antioch certain prophets and teachers; as Barnabas, and Simeon that was called Niger, and Lucius of Cyrene, and Manaen, which had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. As they ministered to the Lord and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them.

           And when they had fasted and prayed, and laid their hands on them, they sent them away. I adore the next part that rings like music to my ears! So they, being sent forth by the HOLY GHOST, departed unto Seleucia; and from thence they sailed to Cyprus.” Acts 13: 1-4. As for me, here are two major points I invite you to consider with me. I say this, because there are millions of Christians who have no idea of the process, and have never been exposed to the dynamics of the Holy Ghost featured herein.

           Notice carefully: The Holy Ghost said, Separate me (or unto me) Barnabas and Saul. In this dialogue, no human will or notion is involved. No church official or Ministerial Board had any input in this selection. This was the mind and will of God being articulated by the Holy Ghost. Another point of equal importance is that these two men already knew what they were called to do: but they did not run off to preach randomly. The second part of this dynamic lesson is this: “So they, being sent forth by the Holy Ghost, departed unto Seleucia.” This is a picture of the Holy Ghost being recognized in the Body of Christ, and is allowed full governing rights. When last, and where have you seen this kind of procedure being demonstrated in his church? The imitation of Christian life today, is superficial and man-made that we simply go through the motion and producing very little that bears the characteristics of the Holy Spirit.

        Because of this vacuum in the seat of leadership, what we call the church today would amaze the Apostle Paul if he came among us, searching for the church he left behind.  Some years ago, two Mormon brothers knocked on my door, when I lived in San Diego. I invited them in so we could chat and maybe I’d learn something. Some of my questions that they could not answer, they referred to their Elder, who came to see me, and brought me a bible as a gift. In fact, later on, I attended one of their services so I could learn first-hand what they teach. The young men told me that they are candidates for the mission field, but as part of their training, they must spend two years walking the streets and knocking on doors.

        But here is the part that was funny to me! Let us say that one or both felt a calling to be missionaries to India: at the end of the two years, their request to be foreign missionaries would be forwarded to the prophet (there is only one prophet) who would decide which country the young men would go to. So I asked: is this in spite of the fact that you feel that God is calling you to be missionaries to India? They said yes! As I understand it, that religious Entity has in place apostles, a prophet and the others found in Ephesians 4: 11. Of course, the scripture alludes to multiple apostles (not a single person who renders a final decision each time he acts upon a case.)

 What impresses me most in this lesson, is the fact that Jesus expressed before Pilate the sentiments and reasons of his life of which he was aware from his birth. Listen to the Son of God, standing at the judgment seat of Pilate. “To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world.” John 18:37. There are times when millions of us wonder and wish we could see down the road and get a big picture of what our lives are meant to be. But if we could actually perceive in advance the obstacles, trials, and life shattering events that would overtake us, would we have the moral fortitude and resilience to move forward, boldly embracing all that we know is awaiting us around the next bend in the road? There were times when the Jews sought to take Jesus by force, but as the scripture said: “His time was not yet come.”

 By us not knowing in advance, whether it is spiritual or secular life, we forge ahead being inspired by many factors that we encounter. Somehow, we are conditioned to react to diverse situations, and we find ways to adopt or cope. But knowing well in advance the snares, sorrows, and even sufferings that comprise the path ahead, presents us with notable challenges. Paul’s life and ministry came with notable conflicts that became a major part of what he was called to do. Let us glance at how he reacted to news that he received before he was taken to Rome.

        “And now, behold, I go bound in the spirit unto Jerusalem, not knowing the things that shall befall me there: Save that the Holy Ghost witnesseth in every city, saying that bonds and afflictions abide me. But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God.” Acts 20: 22-24.

 Paul was resolute in his commitment to the Lord Jesus Christ. Understand that the Holy Ghost in every city bore witness of all the ills that awaited Paul if he insisted on this perilous journey. The Spirit did not forbid him to go: He (the Spirit) simply gave him advanced warnings of what awaited him. I think as a matter of growing into maturity, in the later years of life, we are able to accept and even endure the perils that God had tenderly kept away from our knowledge. Jesus once remarked to his disciples that he had many things to say to them, but at the particular time they could not bear it.

 Let us ponder this scenario! Is our entire life set into a certain pattern even before we were born? Does the Lord ignore or reject one aspect of our lives, then at a certain juncture takes us on a different path, possibly on a more decent and excellent path of acceptance? Here is what I mean! We are told by Paul himself that he was born in Tarsus and raised in Jerusalem. He excelled in the Jews religion above his equals. Nonetheless, he severely persecuted the church and absolutely wasted it. See Acts 22: 3, 4. Galatians 1: 13, 14. When we couple Paul’s days of persecution along with his years as an apostle, do we need to separate his lifelong cause and purpose into two different meanings?  Was his days of persecuting the church and killing Christians a vital part of his cause and purpose in his life? Does the saying: “To this end was I born” applicable to Saul of Tarsus? Can we say that he was chosen to be a bad fellow to the church, and later was chosen again to be the most celebrated of all the apostles? Could it be that his single cause and purpose as orchestrated by God applied to both parts of his cause and purpose in life?

 In our secular life as part of society at large, if one decides to change career there would be careful planning preceded by exhausting research. But look at the cataclysmic change that overtook Saul of Tarsus.  He was on the Damascus road when he encountered Jesus. “I verily thought with myself, that I ought to do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth. Which thing also I did in Jerusalem: and many of the saints did I shut up in prison, having received authority from the chief priests; and when they were put to death, I gave my voice against them. And I punished them oft in every synagogue, and compelled them to blaspheme; and being exceedingly mad against them, I persecuted them even unto strange cities.

        At this point in time, Saul’s cause and purpose is laid before us as the blueprint of his life. But the point to consider is that God was not unaware of these brutal escapades of this man from Tarsus. And when we were all fallen to the earth, I heard a voice speaking unto me, and saying in the Hebrew tongue, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? It is hard for thee to kick against the pricks. And I said, Who art thou Lord? And he said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest.

 Notice this hundred and eighty degree turn that Saul took in a split second that heralded a brand new cause and purpose for this man. “But arise and stand upon thy feet: for I have appeared unto thee for this purpose, to make the a minister and a witness both of these things which thou hast seen, and of those things in the which I will appear unto thee; delivering thee from the people, and from the Gentiles, unto whom I now send thee, to open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me.” Acts 26: 11-18.

Look at this short time frame! “And he was three days without sight, and neither did eat nor drink.” After these three days Ananias came to Saul and ministered to him by laying his hands on him that he might be filled with the Holy Ghost. Look at this abrupt change of cause and purpose in the life of Saul. “Then was Saul certain days with the disciples which were at Damascus (where Saul had intended to arrest Christians and bring them back to Jerusalem in chains). And straightway he preached Christ in the synagogues, that he is the Son on of God.”

 Is this a pragmatic change or what? One day, he is a brutal persecutor of the church, and a few days later he is preaching Christ!  It is no wonder we read: “But all that heard him were amazed, and said; Is not this he that destroyed them which called on this name in Jerusalem, and came hither for that intent, that he might bring them bound unto the chief priests? Acts 9:10-21; 26:10-18. Saul of Tarsus had no control over the earth shattering events that unfolded in his life within a matter of days. But the life ahead of Paul was not a casual stroll along life’s scenic boulevards. From that mindboggling violent encounter with Jesus, Saul of Tarsus determined to himself what process he would put his life through.

In his defense before king Agrippa, the apostle made his case in resolute fashion. He said: “Where upon, O king Agrippa, I was not disobedient unto the heavenly vision.” Acts 26:19. This was his first positive reaction to the new mandate (commission) that Christ had placed in his trust. By reviewing the ministry of Paul, it would seem that the same zeal and commitment that he had as a persecutor of the saints, he simply redirected the same efforts and total abandonment to obeying the heaven vision.

        He began a complete soul searching of where he had been, what he had done, and what laid ahead as an apostle of Jesus Christ. Speaking of abandonment, this cannot be surpassed. “But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung (filth) that I may win Christ.” Philippians 3:7,8. So in both aspects of Paul’s life, he put his all into what his vocation was, and had become. From being an elite and super star in the Jews’ religion, and being qualified to become the next ruler in Israel, to become trust worthy and obedient to the heavenly vision, Paul counted all things but dung. Not only did he suffer the loss of all things: he actually saw them as filth. To Paul IT DID NOT MATTER!

      As we pursue the cause and purpose that control our destiny, we must decide to put emphasis where it is most needed. We must also know how to separate facts from fiction. Almost daily we are required to make decisions that are most likely to enhance our lives and the life of our loved ones. After careful preponderance, the apostle Paul came to an absolute decision that placed the world in which he lived as a passing dream. He concluded: “But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.” Galatians 6: 14. It is obvious that having been drafted by Christ himself on the Damascus road, Saul abruptly came to the end of himself; and suddenly he was faced with a new cause and purpose to his life. He voluntarily allowed his previous cause and purpose in life to fall away into oblivion. He consciously rid himself of his past motives and reasons for living.

         He wrote: “This one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3: 13, 14. Here is another aspect of Paul’s commitment to the cause and purpose that was placed upon him. “Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run that ye may obtain. I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air (shadow boxing) But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.” 1st Corinthians 9: 24-27.

        It is evident, then, that although God’s call upon one’s life constitutes one’s total destiny, as a whole, each one of us is responsible to nurture and tend to that glorious seed that the Holy Spirit has sown within us. We can hide that one talent as Jesus alluded to, or we can be ingenious and industrious so that we can show the Master what we have gained through trading. If we scramble and compel ourselves to get our rewards now, the Master will say on that day; “YOU HAVE HAD YOUR REWARD!” One is short lived, and the other is eternal!

  Royce O. Kennedy        

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