Excerpt: Chapter 2 Out of the Darkness

The Remnant Generation

Chapter 2

Salvation: Redemptive Love in Action

 

For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, 
that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
– John 3:16 (NIV)

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. 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)

The insights I’ve gained from scripture about the subject of salvation, along with my reflections from my life experiences, help me to better understand the mercy, compassion, kindness, and grace of God’s love, expressed through His Son, Jesus Christ. Two recollections from my childhood, one involving my sister and the other a memory of a friend from college…

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Coping with Change

‘I DECLARE that God is bringing about new seasons of growth. I will not get stagnant and hold on to the old. I will be open to change knowing that God has something better in front of me. New doors of opportunity, new relationships, and new levels of favor are in my future. This is my declaration.’

– Joel Osteen, I Declare

I started reading I Declare 31 Promises to Speak Over Your Life by Joel Osteen and have found it to be an enjoyable read. From Day 1 up to Day 13, I have found it to be a tremendous source of encouragement, inspiration, and motivation that helps me remain focused on my targeted priorities for this season of my life.

I read Day 13 today and felt inspired to post what inspired me as I read it. Day 13 is significant to me, because change and I have not always been acquainted with one another in a manner I was comfortable with. Believe it or not, recent revelation allowed me to see that it was something I still wrestle with and from that I understood, in 2014, I needed a fresh perspective of what I understand change to be.

It didn’t hurt to hear the still, small voice of my Savior speak to me about Him being the author of change, from the perspective of the salvation experience alone, being a process of change, or transformation. Receiving this recently was the process by which the fresh perspective of change would be ushered in. Reflection allows me to see how I began the attitude of resistance to change and was continuing to react habitually in the same manner as an adult in the way I did as a child. God truly does make all thing new!

What I like about the declaration of Day 13 is how it speaks to me about coping with change by reframing how I see ‘change.’ What came to mind as I read and reflected on the declaration was how easy it is to accept change when God’s favor is involved in bringing something positive that brings about transformation, prosperity, or fulfillment. Time and maturity in my faith walk with God has challenged me to look beyond the reality of the condition of my current circumstances and trust and believe He is faithful to make this change well worth the encounter regardless of the experience associated with it.

I am now persuaded that He does work everything together for good. You read it, it’s written in the Bible, and you hear it preached, but it must be believed, embraced, in order to be encountered. When those footprints in the sand seem to go on forever with only one set of prints and your focus consistently is on what was left behind not engaged in the moment of being carried by your Savior, change is hard to see and embrace as something working together for good.

Like the disciples who were instructed to get in the boat and sail across the Sea of Galilee, I am now on the other side of my desire to get to the better place and it took a tremendous amount of change to get me to where I stand now! I have since learned that acceptance is the means by which I learn to change and embrace the fresh perspective that allows me to see ‘change’ in the way God desires me to so I can see Him perform the miraculous and the impossible beginning with what He does within me!

May God bless you and help you to cope with the changes and transitions you encounter with faith, hope, acceptance, and love so you may experience the fullness of life Christ came for us to have.

Excerpt: Chapter 1 Out of the Darkness

Chapter 1

Divine Paradox: Treasures of Darkness

‘I am the man who has seen affliction by the rod of his wrath. 
He has driven me away and made me walk in darkness rather than light.’

—Lamentations 3:1–2 (NIV)

‘I form the light and create darkness, I bring prosperity and create disaster; 
I, the LORD, do all these things.’

—Isaiah 45:7 (NIV)

During the process of writing this book, I discovered that darkness should not be feared but should be embraced, or accepted, as a means of overcoming fear. The things about and within me that taunt me, trouble me, and torment me must be mastered, if I am to experience by faith the fullness of life that Christ came to give me and declared that I should have. In order for me to master something, I must be willing to face it until I conquer it.

    “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written: ‘For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.’ No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us” (Romans 8:35–37 NIV).

In the New Testament book of Romans, the apostle Paul declared the principle of mastery (“more than a conqueror”) as an act accomplished through God,who loves us. During the days of Adam and Eve, God addressed the principle of mastery over sin with Cain. But Cain rejected God’s admonition and murdered his brother Abel out of envy and jealousy.

      “Then the LORD said to Cain, ‘Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it’” (Genesis 4:6–8 NIV).

Scripture is not specific as to why God favored Abel’s offering over Cain’s. What is evident is Cain’s reaction to not experiencing God’s favor. God mentioned in scripture that Cain was angry and his face was downcast, depressed, or grieved. God acknowledged that Cain needed to do right in order to be accepted. Cain was disobedient, but he was still seeking God in some way, desiring and anticipating God’s favor. However, Cain was consumed by the darkness of his emotions, and he disregarded God’s warning, which ultimately led to Abel’s murder. Cain did not heed the light of God’s instruction to master the darkness within him, which greatly influenced his actions and behavior. This led to Cain’s isolation as a wanderer.

Cain, consumed by his pride and emotions, never acknowledged the murder of his brother or expressed remorse to God for his actions, even when God confronted him about his conduct. In fact, the only complaint Cain rendered was to express his displeasure with God over the severity of the consequences for his sin. He felt that he was being treated unfairly.

 Then the LORD said to Cain, “Where is your brother Abel?” “I don’t know,” he replied. “Am I my brother’s keeper?” The LORD said, “What have you done? Listen! Your brother’s blood cries out to me from the ground. Now you are under a curse and driven from the ground, which opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand. When you work the ground, it will no longer yield its crop for you. You will be a restless wanderer on the earth.” Cain said to the LORD, “My punishment is more than I can bear. Today you are driving me from the land, and I will be hidden from your presence; I will be a restless wanderer on the earth, and whoever finds me will kill me.” But the LORD said to him, “Not so, if anyone kills Cain, he will suffer vengeance seven times over.” Then the LORD put a mark on Cain so that no one who found him would kill him. (Genesis 4:9–15 NIV)

 The darkness in Cain’s world drove him to envy, jealousy, anger, depression, hatred, murder, dishonesty, indignation, and irreverence toward God. It also caused him to become isolated from God and a restless wanderer. But in spite of all the darkness that surrounded Cain, God provided His light of grace toward him by sparing his life and protecting him from his own fear of being murdered by others. God placed a mark of mercy and grace upon him that spared him from the fear of death and allowed him to experience life—even though his actions did not merit such favor from God.

In the New Testament book of Matthew, Jesus Christ declared His Father in heaven to be the o causes the sun to rise on the evil and the good, which is what God did for Cain. Jesus Christ came into this world to spare us from a life of wandering aimlessly¾with no sense of God’s presence or sensitivity to Him¾and from being unproductive because of the curse of sin and the anguish, emptiness, and darkness that fills the soul. Through His Son, Jesus Christ, God warns us to receive His help to master our sin and to escape the consequence of sin and the fear of death. Through the intimate presence of His Holy Spirit within us, He provides us with a mark of grace and mercy that covers and protects us. God did these things out of love for us, so that we may experience a life with meaning, purpose, and fulfillment. These qualities enable us to overcome the darkness of this world and the world within us.

Seeking to gain a better understanding of the subject of darkness led me to a review of scripture from both the Old and New Testaments. My study provided insight on the types of darkness we encounter in this world: natural darkness, spiritual darkness, and circumstantial darkness. I also found myself plunged into discovering my own personal darkness during this inquiry. This made for an extensive, more personal encounter with God, even as I learned about darkness. I learned more about what a personal faith walk with Christ entails. I experienced challenges that tried me and drove me to trust and rely on Him. All of this drew me closer to Him.

The journey through my personal darkness led to the discovery of His unfailing love in a more intimate, personal way. It continually reassured me that He was with me in my troubles, protecting me and preserving my life. I learned about the necessity of sincere surrender to the will of God and believing that God will fulfill what He promises and perform what He speaks in the face of misfortune, adversity, and hardship. I am learning through the encounter with darkness that God is the great Light for me. He will help me navigate through the darkness of this world. The greatest discovery and fulfillment of life is to know Him and to encounter a personal walk with Him.

Genesis 1 reveals the subject of natural darkness through the story of creation. Scripture reveals that darkness existed before God spoke light into existence. Light and dark were separated and given names and specific functions. Light was called “day,” and darkness was called “night.” Within the darkness of night, God created heavenly lights and stars, which were provided as signs to mark seasons, days, and years. Insight reveals that darkness was given a specific function within God’s purposes. Through it, light became a point of reference within the darkness and a means by which darkness would be governed. Night was used as a reference point for the transition of days, seasons, and years. Within the darkness called night, light became a reference point to guide, provide direction, and help interpret the seasons of transition. Night had an appointed time of beginning and conclusion. It was always followed by the light called “day.”

Day or night, God provided a means for humankind to be governed by light as a reference point for guidance, direction, and new seasons of life. At the conclusion of the fourth day, when God did this, I imagine Him smiling with great joy as He declared, “This is good!”

May God bless you and help you to grow in the grace and truth of Christ so you may endure, persevere, and overcome the circumstantial and spiritual darkness you may encounter as you walk by faith.

Out of the Darkness Cover Design

 Purchase your copy of Out of the Darkness today from the link on this site!

Anger’s Masquerade

‘Anger is an acid that can do more harm to the vessel in which it is stored than to anything on which it is poured.’

– Mark Twain

From my previous post Faith and Anger: Anger is One Letter away from Danger, I provide thoughts and insights I’ve learned on the subject of presenting the topic of anger and experiential knowledge from my own encounters of wrestling with the emotion anger. I shared this past weekend with my friend mentioned in my last post Faith & Appreciation in a Transition, I realized I was expressing my own anger about circumstances related to my transition without acknowledging the hurt. Her patient, persistent inquiry, ‘How are you doing,’ when we would talk and it allowed me to come to the realization and breakthrough i was saying I was angry, but not acknowledging the hurt. I consider her an angel sent from God to aid me in my recovery during my own transition.

In the parent seminars I co-facilitate for The National Family Resiliency Center I share with parents experiencing the transition, on the subject of anger, ‘We say we are angry, because it feels more empowering to say we are angry. We avoid saying we are hurt, because it suggests, or implies vulnerability, or weakness, but at times we are weak and vulnerable. Anger masquerades the hurt and we remain hurt/angry longer, because we fail to acknowledge the hurt.’ I also add, ‘God forbid someone we know gets hit by a bus, when we visit them in the hospital, we would not have to ask if it hurt. It would be physically and visually evident that it hurt. However, some us in our transitions are encountering circumstances that are like being hit by a bus, but we are not acknowledging it.’

Anger masks other emotions. Most times I am not angry because I am angry. I am angry because I feel betrayed. I am angry because I feel misunderstood. I am angry because I feel neglected, violated, disappointed, threatened. Time and experience has taught me that I am better able to cope with and manage my moments of anger when I am successful in acknowledging why I feel the way I feel and what I feel. Journaling since 2003 and now blogging has enabled me to better identify the why and what of what I feel.

I have also learned that I have not yet learned to cope with what I am encountering until I am able/willing to talk about it and that process is different for everyone, because the intensity of one’s grief determines how one chooses to cope. Have you ever felt a weight so difficult you didn’t even feel like praying about it. In the garden of Gethsemane, it is mentioned in Matthew, Mark, and Luke’s gospel accounts that the disciples were exhausted from sorrow and failed to watch and pray as Jesus admonished them.

I believe my breakthrough was part the inquiry of a friend, journaling, prayer, time, and a soul’s yearning to get to the ‘better place,’ along with God’s grace (His word and His Spirit) sprinkled in for good measure to ensure I would get there! It also didn’t hurt to have the accountability of teaching on the subject as a consistent reminder to my inner being about my own soul’s progress through the process of grief. Anger may masquerade, but grace uncovers when a soul is open to healing, recovery, and resiliency.

May God bless you and help you to unmask anger and identify the true feelings of grief associated with your transition to help you heal, recover, and encounter resiliency.

Better Place

‘And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance, perseverance, character; and character, hope.’

– Romans 5:2b-4 NIV

From this point, moving forward and looking ahead, what would the ‘better place’ look like for you if you are currently in a place you no longer desire to be?

Transitioning from being married through separation and divorce, I didn’t define what I desired the ‘better place’ to be, but I knew I did not want to remain where I was in 2005. To this day, I still recall the inquiry a close friend of mine made saying, ‘How do you deal with the anger?’ My response, ‘I focus on seeing myself in a better place.’

Since that time I have seen God do the impossible, the miraculous, and accomplish some amazing things, that without Him, I would not be in the ‘better place’ I am today! The passage of scripture from Romans 5 expresses eloquently the process by which I arrived at the ‘better place’ in which I now stand. My arrival culminated in the publishing of my first book titled Out of the Darkness: A Journey into the Marvelous Light. And now I look ahead with expectancy, optimism, and anticipation of something greater, better, and new on the horizon beyond where I currently stand in the ‘better place.’

Rejoice in the hope of the glory of God- allow your confidence in God’s faithfulness to be fueled by the inspiration, encouragement, and assurance of His word and the work of His grace within you and around you that helps you to advance, progress, succeed, and achieve in getting to your ‘better place.’

Rejoice in suffering- learn to accept and see the value of the tests, trials, and misfortune God allows, and uses, to conform us into the image of Christ. Though some circumstances are intensely painful to encounter, faith in Christ and the  hope of the glory of God says everything will work together for good because sharing in the sufferings of Christ positions me for the encounter of sharing in the power of His resurrection!

Suffering produces perseverance, character & hope- the proper, or appropriate, response to suffering positions me to encounter a greater display of God’s power to equip, enable, and empower me to endure, persevere, and overcome the internal/external oppositional forces associated with my transition towards the ‘better place.’

The posture of humility and the position of reverence remaining confident God is and will reward those who diligently seek Him is what allows the encounter of the ‘better place.’ Believe in the hope of the glory of God to be revealed in your transition to the ‘better place’ and watch God position you for the impossible and the miraculous!

May God bless you and help you to rejoice in Him and remain confident in Him despite the condition of your current circumstances so you may encounter the impossible and the miraculous.

Thank you WordPress Family!

I would like to take this moment to share the success of my first published book titled: Out of the Darkness: A Journey into the Marvelous Light released April 2014! Discover God’s plan, purpose, fulfillment, power, and glory expressed in salvation through faith in Jesus Christ and experience the elevated, expanded, exponential lifestyle encountered through walking by faith.

Thank you to everyone who follows, likes, and comments on graceforchange!

Blogging has been a tremendous source of encouragement, inspiration, and motivation that has enabled and empowered me in my journey of transitioning from marriage through separation and divorce towards the ‘better place’ I desired to be from the year the divorce took place in 2005.

Inspired and influenced by the writings of author Max Lucado and his insightful, creative way of depicting the biblical story of the woman with the issue of blood, I declared to myself then, ‘I want to write like that!’ Thus began my personal journey and mission to complete and produce Out of the Darkness. Initially intended to be a devotional for my church community, Out of the Darkness took on a life of its own over the past 9 years that culminated in what I present for others to share in what God has divinely inspired through His use of me to write.

Much like the woman with the issue of blood, Out of the Darkness became an encounter and expression of my desire and ambition to encounter something greater, better and new! Compelled and persuaded by the belief that a closer proximity with Jesus would bring into her life what she desired in her heart, the woman with the issue of blood sojourned, by faith, towards the source of her wellness and wholeness. Pressing forward through the crowd, pushing through the internal/external obstacles of opposition between the condition of her current circumstances and her ‘better place’ encounter, she persevered beyond the twelve long years of misery and misfortune until she could experience the touch that would bring about her transformation!

I invite you to share in the experience of the journey towards the ‘better place’ into something greater, better, and new God has in store for those who believe! Purchase your copy of Out of the darkness on Amazon.com, Archwaypublishing.com, or contact me directly at authorcjones@yahoo.com for an autographed copy!

10% of each copy sold will go to support the Reid Temple Christian Academy PreK-8 School in Glenn Dale, MD where Rev. Dr. Lee P.Washington serves as Senior Pastor.

Inspired to share His grace!

'Darkness should be embraced as a means to overcome it.'

‘Darkness should be embraced as a means to overcome it.’