Posted by: Tom Graves | June 15, 2015

JUDGE OF THE JUDGES

JUDGE OF THE JUDGES

We are living in perilous times. Psalm 2:1-3 is being lived out in a changing America.

“Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD, and against his anointed, saying, Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us.” KJV

Listen to these verses in THE PASSION TRANSLATION.

  1. “How dare the nations plan a rebellion, Ranting and raging against the Lord Most High? Their foolish plans are futile! 2. Look at how the power brokers of the world Rise up to hold their summit, Scheming and conferring together Against God and His Anointed King, saying: 3. Let’s come together and break away from the Creator. Once and for all let us cast off these controlling chains Of God and his Christ!” TPT

It is amazing how quickly things have changed in just the last few years. Those who are orchestrating these changes are using the courts to do their bidding and changing long held standards of morality and decency. But Psalm 58:1-11 gives us an encouraging Word from the Lord. The Title of this Psalm in THE PASSION TRANSLATION is,

“JUDGE OF THE JUDGES.”

1-2. “God’s justice? You high and mighty politicians Know nothing about it! Which one of you has walked in justice toward others? Which one of you has treated everyone right and fair? Not one! You only give ‘justice’ in exchange for a bribe. For the right price you let others get away with murder.”

3-5. “Wicked wanderers even from the womb! That’s who you are! Lying with your words – Your teaching is poison. Like cobras closing their ears to the most expert of charmers, You strike out against all who are near.”

6-9. “O God, break there fangs; Shatter the teeth of these ravenous lions! Let them disappear like water falling on thirsty ground. Let all their weapons be useless. Let them be Like snails dissolving into slime. Let them be cut off, never seeing the light of day! God will sweep them away so fast That they’ll never know what hit them.”

10-11. “The godly will celebrate in the triumph of good over evil. And the lovers of God will trample The wickedness of the wicked under their feet! Then everyone will say, ‘There is a God who judges the judges;’ And ‘there is a great reward in loving God!’” TPT

Be encouraged! God wins!!!

Blessings, Tom and Jeanie

TPT: Scripture quotations marked TPT are taken from The Psalms: Poetry on Fire, The Passion Translation, copyright 2014. Used by permission of BroadStreet Publishing Group, LLC, Racine, Wisconsin, USA. All rights reserved.

Link: http://thepassiontranslation.com/

 

 

Posted by: Tom Graves | March 28, 2015

Miracle on 5th Street (I once was deaf, but now I hear)

THIS IS A RE-POST FROM MORNING STORY AND DILBERT. A GREAT STORY ON SIMPLE OBEDIENCE! CLICK THE TITLE BELOW TO ACCESS. YOU WILL BE BLESSED! TOM

Miracle on 5th Street (I once was deaf, but now I hear).

Posted by: Tom Graves | March 4, 2015

BLOOD MOON THREE

BLOOD MOON THREE

What is a BLOOD MOON? Why is it important? Read on and you will find out! God declared in Psalm 104:19a that, “He appointed the moon for SEASONS…” We read the word SEASONS and have a tendency to think of the four seasons, spring summer, fall and winter. But it is much more that that! When God created the heavens, Genesis 1:14, “And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and LET THEM BE FOR SIGNS, AND FOR SEASONS, and for days, and years.”  The Hebrew word translated SEASONS, in both verses is Strong’s “H4150: מועדה   מעד   מועדmô‛êd  mô‛êd  mô‛âdâh – mo-ade’, mo-ade’, mo-aw-daw’ From H3259; PROPERLY AN APPOINTMENT, that is, a fixed time or season; specifically a festival…”(emphasis mine) [1]

Notice that first of all it is an appointment with God. And those appointments are God’s feast days. Leviticus 23:2 says, “Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, Concerning THE FEASTS OF THE LORD, which ye shall proclaim to be holy convocations, even THESE ARE MY FEASTS.” Both times the word FEASTS is used in this verse it is the same Hebrew word, H4150, used in both Genesis 1:14 and Psalm104:19!

So then, what is a BLOOD MOON and what does it have to do with God’s feast days? A BLOOD MOON is simply a lunar eclipse where the moon turns a deep dark red during the total eclipse. So far, in the last year, there have been two lunar eclipses. And both occurred on God’s feast days! The first occurred on Jewish Passover, April 15, 2014, the second occurred on the Feast of Tabernacles, October 8, 2014.  BLOOD MOON THREE will occur on Jewish Passover on April 4, 2015. The fourth BLOOD MOON will occur on the Feast of Tabernacles on September 28, 2015. Is this just a coincidence or is God trying to tell us something? Remember, the moon is for signs on feast days, of which Passover and the Feast of Tabernacles are major feast days.

This is not the first time in history that this grouping of BLOOD MOON events has taken place. “Such events have occurred only three other times in recent centuries, and each time they were linked to significant events for the Jewish nation…For example, when it happened in 1493 and 1494 Jews were expelled from Spain. The blood moons in 1949 and 1950 came right after the nation of Israel was assembled, giving the Jews a homeland for the first time in thousands of years. And in 1967 and 1968 it was linked to the Six-Day War.” [2]  

Think about all that has happened in Israel and the Middle East in the last year, the Gaza war, the rise of ISIS and Iran on the verge of having the nuclear bomb. Some of the news sounds like it is right out of the Book of Revelation, “…and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God…” (Revelation 20:4b). 

A BLOOD MOON AND A SOLAR ECLIPSE 

Joel 2:31 states: “The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and the terrible day of the LORD come.”  This is quoted by Peter in Acts 2, on the day of Pentecost, another of God’s Feast days. Here, God talks about happenings in the sun and moon, just before the coming of the Lord! So when does the sun go dark and does it happen on a feast day? The next solar eclipse will be on March 20, 2015, just a few days from now!

The “…added significance is that the total solar eclipse on 3/20/15 is on the biblical calendar of Nisan 1. Nisan 1 begins the religious New Year according to the scriptures… This date was the grand opening of Moses tabernacle in the wilderness. This is the day a great sign came and fire fell to light the burnt offering. So here we have a total solar eclipse beginning the religious year followed two weeks later by a total lunar eclipse/blood moon on Passover followed by the next solar eclipse (partial) on Sept 13th which just so happens to be Rosh Hashanah!” [2] God is definitely trying to get the world’s attention.

THE FEAST OF PURIM

I hope you heard Prime Minister Netanyahu’s speech to Congress today (March 3, 2015). As he spoke about the threat from Iran, he mentioned Haman and Queen Esther whose story is told in the Book of Esther in the Bible. In the Gaza war, I was struck by the similarity of the name Haman with the terrorist organization Hamas. Both had the same goals, the destruction of Israel. The feast of Purim celebrates the victory of Israel over Haman’s plot to completely destroy the people of Israel. It is celebrated from sundown, March 4th to sundown March 5th. That is the day after Prime Minister Netanyahu made his speech! Coincidence? I don’t think so.

FROM HAMAN TO HAMAS BY WAY OF IRAN!

Listen to Psalm 83:1-8: “Keep not thou silence, O God: hold not thy peace, and be not still, O God. For, lo, THINE ENEMIES MAKE A TUMULT: and they that hate thee have lifted up the head. They have taken crafty counsel against thy people, and consulted against thy hidden ones. They have said, COME, AND LET US CUT THEM OFF FROM BEING A NATION; THAT THE NAME OF ISRAEL MAY BE NO MORE IN REMEMBRANCE. For they have consulted together with one consent: they are confederate against thee: The tabernacles of Edom, and the Ishmaelites (these are the Arab nations of today); of Moab, and the Hagarenes; Gebal, and Ammon, and Amalek (HAMAN was a descendant of Amalek, we will see him in a moment); the Philistines with the inhabitants of Tyre(these are the inhabitants of Gaza); Assur (this is the nation of Assyria which is modern day Iran) also is joined with them: they have holpen (helped) the children of Lot. Selah.”

Is it simply an amazing coincidence that these nations and peoples who are today calling for the destruction of Israel were called out in this Psalm about 3000 years ago? This is no coincidence, rather it is the prophetic Word of God! Iran’s leaders have been repeatedly calling for the complete destruction of Israel as a nation. But that is nothing new. Some 2500 years ago the city of Shushan, which was the capital of the Medes and Persian Empire, was located in what is today modern Iran. There was a man that lived there by the name of HAMAN. HAMAN’S story is found in the Bible in the book of Esther which I encourage you to read in its entirety.

To set the context, about 100 years earlier, the Assyrian Empire under King Nebuchadnezzar, who ruled from ancient Babylon, conquered the nation of Israel and burned Jerusalem and carried away most of the well-to-do Jews. He took them into Babylon which was in modern day Iraq. Then the Medes and the Persians (Iran) conquered the Assyrians (Iraq) and that is where our story begins. (The same battles between Iraq and Iran are still being fought in modern times!)

HAMAN had a hatred for a man by the name of Mordecai who was a Jew. But HAMAN’S hatred did not stop at one man. HAMAN’S hatred for the Jews was so intense that he wanted to see them all destroyed. HAMAN was promoted to second in command under King Ahasuerus and he saw his chance to get his diabolical plan put into action. Esther 3:8-10 &13: “And HAMAN said unto king Ahasuerus, There is a certain people scattered abroad and dispersed among the people in all the provinces of thy kingdom; and their laws are diverse from all people; neither keep they the king’s laws: therefore it is not for the king’s profit to suffer them. If it please the king, LET IT BE WRITTEN THAT THEY MAY BE DESTROYED: and I will pay ten thousand talents of silver to the hands of those that have the charge of the business, to bring it into the king’s treasuries. And the king took his ring from his hand, and gave it unto HAMAN the son of Hammedatha the Agagite, the Jews’ enemy…  And the letters were sent by posts into all the king’s provinces, TO DESTROY, TO KILL, AND TO CAUSE TO PERISH, ALL JEWS, BOTH YOUNG AND OLD, LITTLE CHILDREN AND WOMEN, IN ONE DAY, even upon the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, which is the month Adar, and to take the spoil of them for a prey.” Sound familiar?

Listen to these comments based on excerpts from HAMAS’ Charter:

“1.) Hamas isn’t looking to negotiate a peace deal with Israel. It wants to destroy Israel. Quoting Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood founder Hassan al-Banna, the charter reads: ‘Israel will exist and will continue to exist until Islam will obliterate it, just as it obliterated others before it.’”

“2.) Actually, Hamas’ charter goes beyond destroying Israel. It longs for Jewish genocide: ‘The Prophet, Allah bless him and grant him salvation, has said:The Day of Judgement will not come about until Moslems fight the Jews (killing the Jews), when the Jew will hide behind stones and trees. The stones and trees will say O Moslems, O Abdulla, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him.’”

“3.) The international community may love the peace process, but Hamas makes it clear in its charter that it doesn’t believe in peace conferences. As its charter states: ‘Initiatives, and so-called peaceful solutions and international conferences, are in contradiction to the principles of the Islamic Resistance Movement.’” [3]

The same demonic spirit that was ruling over the Persian Empire and that drove HAMAN is also driving the organization of HAMAS and is still ruling over and driving the nation of IRAN in calling for the extermination of the Jews. The exciting part of HAMAN’S story is that God delivered the Jews from the order of extermination written by HAMAN, and HAMAN was ultimately hanged on the very gallows that he had prepared to hang Mordecai (you must read the book of Esther to find out how God did it).

Make no mistake about it, God is also going to deliver Israel from the threats of HAMAS and IRAN before it is all over and it is not going to be pretty! War never is!

Zechariah 12:2: “Behold, I will make Jerusalem a cup of trembling unto all the people round about, when they shall be in the siege both against Judah and against Jerusalem.” 

Zechariah 12:8-10: “In that day shall the LORD defend the inhabitants of Jerusalem; and he that is feeble among them at that day shall be as David; and the house of David shall be as God, as the angel of the LORD before them. And it shall come to pass in that day, that I will seek to destroy all the nations that come against Jerusalem. And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications: AND THEY SHALL LOOK UPON ME WHOM THEY HAVE PIERCED, AND THEY SHALL MOURN FOR HIM, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn.”

Romans 11:26: “AND SO ALL ISRAEL SHALL BE SAVED: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob.”

Zechariah 14:12: “And this shall be the plague wherewith the LORD will smite all the people that have fought against Jerusalem; Their flesh shall consume away while they stand upon their feet, and their eyes shall consume away in their holes, and their tongue shall consume away in their mouth.” That sounds like the result of a nuclear weapon going off. Could it be like the bomb maker that gets killed by his own bomb as he is working on it? That is certainly something to think about. We are living in exciting times! Jesus is coming soon!

Blessings, Tom and Jeanie

For further study check out the works cited:

[1] Strong, James. The Exhaustive Concordance Of The Bible. McClean, Va.: Macdonald, n.d.

[2] Read more at http://www.wnd.com/2013/10/blood-moons-expert-watch-2014-and-2015/#mlwyaz7hQz8cT1KH.99

[3] Link: http://dailycaller.com/2014/07/22/9-things-you-need-to-know-about-hamas-straight-from-its-charter/ There is a link in this article to the full charter of Hamas.

 

 

I am reposting this article because I believe it tells the truth. Please pray for Netanyahu’s protection.

Blessings, Tom

Netanyahu is coming to Washington next week because Obama left him no choice – Caroline B. Glick

via Netanyahu is coming to Washington next week because Obama left him no choice – Caroline B. Glick.

Posted by: Tom Graves | March 1, 2015

Last Days? Heavenly Signs Abound During Netanyahu Speech

Last Days? Heavenly Signs Abound During Netanyahu Speech

via Last Days? Heavenly Signs Abound During Netanyahu Speech.

Posted by: Tom Graves | February 24, 2015

THE TESTIMONY OF GOD, PART 2

MY GOD IS REAL, ANSWERING THE CALL OF GOD

A continuation of THE TESTIMONY OF GOD, PART 1, THE CALL OF GOD

We now had a decision to make. How would we prepare for the ministry to which God had called us. With the help of Pastor Arnold, I decided to apply to the Associate program at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, North Carolina. I discussed the whole situation with my business partner and he felt I needed to set a date for leaving the company that would allow me to finish the two houses we had underway at the time. Since I held the builder’s license he would not be able to continue building after I left, so we would not start another house. After working out a schedule to complete the houses, we set May 31, 1977 as my termination date. I was now committed. I already had my house for sale because I had plans to build a bigger house. I had purchased eighteen acres of land with two pond sites and had bought a double wide mobile home and placed it on the property. My plan was to live in the double wide after my house sold, while I built my ponds and new house. To complicate matters, I had mortgages on my present house and on the eighteen acres of land. Everything had to sell for me to be able to go back to school. To my amazement I had God’s peace. I knew that He was in control and was working everything out in its proper time. I was learning to trust God on a day to day basis.

The first thing that sold was the double wide and it was moved off the property. Next, the eighteen acres sold. I neither made a profit nor lost money on either sale; I simply broke even, but it increased my faith in God. Sometime in April, I received a letter from Seminary informing me that my application had been approved, but there was a catch, I was the fortieth applicant and there were only thirty-two spots available. For the next six weeks it seemed like nothing at all happened in my favor. Friday, May 31st arrived. I had not sold my house and had not been accepted at Seminary, yet I cleaned out my desk on this final day of my job with total peace in my heart. As I contemplate those days, I often wonder why, today, I sometimes have a hard time finding the same peace that came so easy for me in those days.

THE BEGINNING OF MIRACLES!

I left the office that day and went to the Post Office to pick up our mail. God was faithful, the letter from Seminary read, “Congratulations, you have been accepted in the Associate Program…” Elated, I hurried home to tell Jeanie the good news. As I got to my driveway, there was a car sitting there and a man was getting out. It was our real estate agent and he had a contract for the sale of our house with an amazing stipulation, the sale would close and we would have to vacate the house within ten days. We accepted the contract as written. It was one of the most fantastic days I have ever experienced. God came through in a most miraculous fashion. But this was just the beginning of a fantastic journey with God!

Monday morning, Jeanie and I left home around 5:00 AM headed for the Seminary to find a place to live. We arrived on campus about 10:00 AM and I went straight to the housing office. I showed them my letter of acceptance and announced I had come to obtain campus housing. The lady behind the counter pushed a legal pad over to me and said rather matter-of-factly, “Sign the list and we will call you when campus housing is available. Right now, there is about a nine month wait.” I was devastated! I explained my situation, I had to move by the weekend. She suggested that I check out the bulletin board on the opposite wall for any ads for rentals. There were only a few ads and it did not take long to find out they were all rented.

Since we were only about twelve miles north of Raleigh, North Carolina, we decided to look for a place there. We returned to Raleigh and bought a newspaper. Because of a construction boom around Raleigh, rental property was almost non-existent. The few ads for rentals in the newspaper read something like this, “For an $80.00 fee, we will be glad to show you our rental property.” I was not willing to pay just to look at a house I probably would not want to rent anyway. By now it was lunch time and we decided to go back to Wake Forest and ride the streets looking for a “FOR RENT” sign. We thought, after last Friday, God certainly has a place for us. We covered every street in town and followed the roads out into the country side for five to ten miles in all directions but there was nothing for rent.

DESPERATION SETS IN!

We were getting desperate now, so we decided to go back to Raleigh and pay the $80.00 fee to see what was available. About half way back to Raleigh, just before I reached the Neuse River Bridge the Lord spoke to me in my spirit, as plainly as I have ever heard Him speak, “What are you doing?” He asked. It was so real, I answered out loud, and out of sorts, “What do you mean, what am I doing? I’m looking for a house.” Jeanie, apparently wondering if I was losing it, and what had come over me, asked, “Who are you talking to?” I told her that God had spoken to me. I actually pulled the car over on the shoulder of the road and stopped to compose myself! Did I really hear God speak? This was a new experience for me. This just doesn’t happen! God does not speak to people today, except through His Word, or at least that is what I had been taught. Sitting there on the side of the road, God responded to my answer by asking me, “Who have you asked?” This was amazing! I was actually having a conversation with God! I recounted the day to Him, where we had been, who we had asked. Then God asked the third question, “Have you asked Me?” Sheepishly, I hung my head and answered, “No.”

GOD’S CLEAR INSTRUCTIONS TO ME!

I had been so caught up in the emotion of Friday that I had failed to ask Him about that Monday. He was not angry with me and He gave me instructions, “Turn around, go back to Seminary, they have a place for you.” I was obedient, but I was also in a quandary. Being raised as I was, my theology did not make room for God to speak with me as He had just done. I was sure that the people in the housing office held the same view. How was I to walk back in there and tell them that God Himself had sent me back and told me they had a place for me? I could see them calling for the authorities to carry me off. I decided to go back into the office and go to the bulletin board as if I was checking for any new ads. If nobody spoke to me, I would leave. I did not get a response from God about it, so I assumed my plan was OK.

THE MOMENT OF TRUTH!

I pulled into the parking lot of the housing office just before 4:00 PM, took a deep breath, got out of the car and went into the office. The moment I came through the door, the same lady that had waited on me earlier that morning and informed me of the nine month waiting period was still there behind the counter. To my amazement, she remembered me and broke out in a big grin and said, “I’m so glad you came back! You won’t believe what has happened.” Maybe I had heard God after all! Emboldened, I said, “Try me!” She began to recount her story. She explained that the Seminary had an agreement with Wakefield Apartments in Raleigh to help with their housing shortage. That morning, all the allotted apartments were filled, but not long after I had left the office, a student who lived at Wakefield Apartments, had called saying he had received a call to a church field and would be moving into the church parsonage before the weekend. Since there was no waiting list for Wakefield Apartments, we could rent the apartment he was vacating. To make it even better, the Seminary students got a reduced rate and we were able to get the apartment for $125.00 per month. We rushed back to Raleigh and got there just before the Wakefield office closed at five. We signed a lease agreement, paid the deposit and moved in the apartment just a few days later. God is good, but He does cut it close some times.

I will acknowledge that I do not have conversations with God like that every day or even every week. But it does still happen. I do believe that as we learn to “Practice the Presence of the Lord,” He will speak to us on a regular basis and give us personal instruction and direction for our lives. Jesus said He could do nothing of Himself, but only those things He heard and saw from the Father. John 5:30, “I can of mine own self do nothing: as I hear, I judge: and my judgment is just; because I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me. And John 8:38a, “I speak that which I have seen with my Father…” If Jesus needed to hear from the Father, how much more do we?

One of my favorite verses is John 14:12, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father.” A number of years ago as I was meditating on this verse and asking the Father when I would see this become a reality in my life, God said to me, “When you do the things that Jesus did, you will do the things that Jesus did!” Let that sink in for a moment, or as David would say in Psalms, “Selah” which according to the Amplified Bible means, “[Pause, and calmly think of that]!” (Psalm 3:2 et al.). What were some of the things that Jesus did? He fasted, He prayed, sometimes all night, He listened to the Father’s voice and He did what the Father asked Him to do. Lord, Speak to our hearts!

To be continued…

Blessings, Tom and Jeanie

 

Posted by: Tom Graves | February 17, 2015

THINKING ABOUT JONAH!

I read a very sobering blog this morning, sent to my Facebook page, entitled, “The Wake-Up Call that is ISIS: Who in the Church is Answering?” One lady, after reading it, wrote the following comment on Facebook, “Very powerful read… I often feel like Jonah. Like the prodigal’s older brother: we are called to trully love the loveless–including but not limited to the poor and homeless. Jesus didn’t preach to Pilate, but I don’t think Pilate missed His testimony. Nope… Love is great, but not quite as fickle and fun as we often act. love ISIS? God’s salvation is for ISIS too? Like Jonah my advice to God (who didn’t ask) would be: BLAST THEM! Like the brother, I’m still perplexed that God loves folks who ~~~ as much as He loves me…WOW!”

Jonah wanted to see the enemy (the Ninevites) destroyed, God wanted to see them saved! However, had they not repented under Jonah’s preaching, they would have been destroyed (read the book of Jonah). Later, this destruction did take place under the preaching of the Prophet Nahum who describes the complete destruction of the city of Nineveh (read the book of Nahum). Pray for the salvation of all Muslins. Leave the judgment up to God! This is truly a “Wake-Up Call” for the Church! I encourage you to take the time to read it and then ponder the truth that it contains. Click on the link below to read the article.

Blessings, Tom

The Wake-Up Call that is ISIS: Who in the Church is Answering? | A Holy Experience

via The Wake-Up Call that is ISIS: Who in the Church is Answering? | A Holy Experience.

Posted by: Tom Graves | February 10, 2015

THE TESTIMONY OF GOD

THE TESTIMONY OF GOD

Paul, in talking about the Second Coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, makes the following statement in II Thessalonians 1:10, “When he shall come to be glorified in his saints, and to be admired in all them that believe (BECAUSE OUR TESTIMONY AMONG YOU WAS BELIEVED) in that day.” (emphasis mine). The Greek word translated “testimony” here is “G3142 – μαρτύριον – marturion – mar-too’-ree-on – Neuter of a presumed derivative of G3144; something evidential, that is, (generally) evidence given or (specifically) the Decalogue (in the sacred Tabernacle): – to be testified, testimony, witness.” [1] Note that testimony can refer to personal experience or to the “Decalogue,” i.e. The Ten Commandments.

W. E. Vines in commenting on this verse notes that testimony “…refers to the fact that the missionaries, besides proclaiming the truths of the gospel, had borne witness to the power of these truths…having to do especially with the preacher’s personal experience.” [2]

Bill Johnson, in his curriculum, HOSTING the PRESENCE, makes note that the Presence of God in the Old Testament was represented by the Ark of the Covenant which is also called the Ark of the Testimony. The description of the Ark can be found in Exodus 25:10-22. In verses 21 and 22, God says, “And thou shalt put the mercy seat above upon the ark; and IN THE ARK THOU SHALT PUT THE TESTIMONY THAT I SHALL GIVE THEE. And there I will meet with thee, and I will commune with thee from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubims which are upon the ark of the testimony…” (emphasis mine). The three things that were put into the Ark are the two tablets containing the Ten Commandments, a jar of Manna from the wilderness journey and Aaron’s rod that budded. (see Hebrews 9:4). It is very significant that in the way God had the Ark of the Covenant assembled that the “Mercy of God rests upon the testimony of God. Every time you share what God has done in your life, you usher the Mercy Seat of God before somebody’s life. This is the privilege of who we are – carrying the Mercy of the Lord and introducing others to the Mercy of the Lord through our testimonies. Your story ushers in the Mercy of God for people to draw from.” [3]

In that regard, over the next several posts, I want to share the highlights of my story, my testimony, my journey with the Lord. Hopefully, you will be encouraged, because if God will do it for me, you can be sure He will do the same for you. I have had my ups and downs, my victories and my failures. Jeanie and I will be married for fifty years this July. Because of my failures, I struggled with anger. It was mostly anger at myself because I couldn’t seem to get the victory at times. But often that anger would find its focus on my wife and my family. It took the threat of divorce to finally get me to go for help. This year, I will have been happily married for fifty years, Jeanie will have been happily married about twenty years. Don’t wait as long as I did to confront the “hidden sins” in your life. The amazing thing is that through all those years, God still blessed and people got saved under our ministry. But I am just now beginning to experience His presence in ways I never dreamed possible and over the coming years, it’s just going to get better. I will be seventy years old this October and a few weeks ago I was down on myself because of all the time I have squandered in my life when I should have been and could have been a better servant of the Lord. That particular morning as I open my Amplified Bible to do my daily readings, my Bible opened to Isaiah 46 and my eyes caught verse 5, “Even to your old age I am He, and even to hair white with age will I carry you, I have made, I will bear; yes, I will carry and will save you.” I wept! God has not given up on me! Neither has He given up on you. Read on and be encouraged.

Blessings, Tom and Jeanie Graves

MY GOD IS REAL, THE CALL OF GOD

As I pondered my experience in ministry, I realized that my life experience encompassed much more than my ministry experience. In fact, as I thought through my life, I realized that those experiences that had the most impact in my life were personal experiences with God teaching me to trust Him, to rely on Him and to look to Him alone to meet our family’s needs. I have not always remembered the lessons I have learned and I have been prone to worry at times and then try to do it myself. It has been a great help to me to recount all that God has done for me; thus as I write, I may become a little wordy in remembering what may seem to some as inconsequential details. May God use my experiences to encourage you as you read.

I grew up in a Christian home with parents and grand-parents active in a Southern Baptist Church where we lived. I was born again and baptized by immersion at age nine while attending Beech Island Baptist Church in Beech Island, South Carolina. When I was sixteen years old, I was attending revival services at Beech Island Baptist Church. During one of the week-night services, I felt led to go down and rededicate my life to Jesus. During the invitational hymn, I went down the aisle to Pastor Long, but instead of telling him I wanted to rededicate my life to Christ, I heard myself say instead, “I want to dedicate my life to full time Christian service.” Immediately, the thought came, “That was a mistake and I did not mean to say that,” but I never told the pastor. I was invited to the pastor’s office to discuss my decision, but even there I did not tell him it was a mistake. I simply sat and listened to his counsel. I did my best to put the whole idea of being a pastor out of my mind, for that is what I thought full time Christian service was. One thing I knew for sure, I did not want to be a poor preacher. I have since had to repent for the judgment that I made against the church for keeping the pastor poor.

A few years passed, I graduated from high school and went to college to study to be an architect. Architects made plenty of money, at least I thought so. While I was away at school, I did not have to think too much about church and was able to put any ministry idea out of my mind. However, I dropped out of school and went to work for an architect to receive a practical education in the field. I moved back home and returned to Beech Island Baptist Church, but had effectively blocked the ministry idea out of my mind. I married a beautiful young woman, Jeanie Wilson, and shortly thereafter started a family. Jeanie was born again while attending Beech Island Baptist Church and we became fairly regular participants in church life. I designed our first house and hired a contractor, who was also a deacon in the church, to build it for me. At the same time problems developed at the church over the pastor; the result being a very ugly church split. I was unhappy with my deacon builder and unhappy with the “hypocrites” who split the church. I decided that I did not need that kind of religion and quit church. I was free from ever having to think about being a pastor again. Jeanie and I did not attend church for any reason for almost eight years. But God had other plans for me.

After suffering through our house being burglarized four times in less than two years, we decided it was time to move. We sold our custom built home and moved to North Augusta, South Carolina and rented a house. I bought a lot on a twelve acre lake on the outskirts of North Augusta and designed our second house. This time, I was going to be my own contractor and build it myself. The real estate developer who developed the sub-division in which I was building liked my work and asked me to come and build for him. We struck a deal, I got licensed as a homebuilder in South Carolina and went to work for the developer, Dozier Lacey. He was a “real” Christian who walked the walk as well as talked the talk, a member of First Baptist Church of North Augusta. He set right to work on getting me back in church. Within a few weeks Jeanie and I visited Sweetwater Baptist Church which was closer to our new home. Two weeks later we “joined the church” again. I must admit, it felt good being back in church. The Pastor and his wife, Rev. Roy and Joan Arnold, were wonderful people and we fell in love with them. We became very active in the church, I joined the choir and we both filled in where needed. We became active with Campus Crusade for Christ and the “I Found It” campaign of the middle 70’s.  Through a film, I heard Bill Bright preach a sermon on “The Spirit Filled Life” and was introduced to the person of the Holy Spirit. Until that time, I never remember anyone even mentioning that there was a Holy Spirit. I prayed with Bill Bright at the end of the film and asked to be filled with the Holy Spirit. I do not recall feeling anything happen to me at that moment, but from that day on, I was a different person. Some of the men in the church even began to ask the pastor, “What has happened to Tommy?” He asked me to give my testimony from the pulpit on a Sunday night. God was setting me up!

I had once again fallen in love with Jesus and His Word and I began to read large amounts of Scripture every night instead of watching television as I had previously done. One night I decided to read the book of Ecclesiastes from the Living Bible. When I got to chapter 5, verses 4-5 I read these words: “So when you talk to God and vow to him that you will do something, don’t delay in doing it, for God has no pleasure in fools. Keep your promise to him.  It is far better not to say you’ll do something than to say you will and then not do it.” As I read these verses, I had what I would now call a vision. At that time, however, the concept of a person having a vision in modern times did not fit my theology. When I retold the story to others, I described it as “having had a video tape of myself as a teen, replaying in my mind.” I saw myself walking down the aisle in Beech Island Baptist Church and I heard myself saying, “I want to dedicate my life to full time Christian service.” My reaction was identical to the actual event except this time I spoke aloud to the Lord, “That was a mistake, You know I did not mean to say that.” I looked back down at the Bible and my eyes caught verse 6, “In that case, your mouth is making you sin. Don’t try to defend yourself by telling the messenger from God that it was all a mistake…” God had me exactly where He wanted me!

I still was not totally convinced ministry was for me and I was looking for a way out. I decided that I would ask Jeanie for her opinion about the whole matter and if she laughed at me, I would be off the hook. To my amazement, she agreed with God and said yes, I did have a call on my life. From that moment on, I began to pursue a course that would take me into the ministry, but I was very careful not to share it with anyone besides Jeanie at that point in time. Several days later Jeanie came home from going shopping with her mom and said, “You won’t believe what happened today.” She went on to recount how she and her mom were riding in the car with our daughter Linda, who was only five at the time, sitting between them. With no warning or explanation, Linda turned to her grandmother and said, “Daddy is going to be a preacher.” We had been very careful not to discuss the subject in front of our son Thomas or Linda, so Jeanie took it as a word from the Lord. Her mother made no comment and Jeanie did not try to explain. It was several weeks later that we told both sets of parents. My parents were excited and pleased. Jeanie’s parents, who were not saved at the time were cool toward the idea but did not try to discourage us. Their main concern was that we would be moving their grandchildren away from them.

To be continued…

Works Cited:

[1] Strong, James. The Exhaustive Concordance Of The Bible. McClean, Va.: Macdonald, n.d.

[2] Vine, W. E. An Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words. New York: Nelson, n.d.

[3] Johnson, Bill, Curriculum, Hosting The Presence, Book, 2 DVD’s, Student workbook, Shippensburg, Pa. Destiny Image, 2013, DVD2, Session 6, The Ultimate Prototype for Normal Christianity.

Posted by: Tom Graves | February 3, 2015

WHO AM I?

WHO AM I?

“And Moses said unto God, WHO AM I, that I should go unto Pharaoh, and that I should bring forth the children of Israel out of Egypt?” Exodus 3:11. Moses had a dream when he was a man of prominence in Pharaoh’s court. Born the son of slaves, but adopted by Pharaoh’s daughter, yet his heart was with his brethren, the Israelites (see Hebrews 11:23-29). Moses thought that the Israelites would understand that God had raised him up to be a deliverer, but the Israelites rejected him (see Acts 7:20-36). It had been forty long years on the back side of the wilderness for Moses, rejected and feeling very insignificant when Moses led the flock he was tending to the foot of Mt. Horeb, the “…mountain of God.” (Exodus 3:1). It was here that God spoke to Moses out of the burning bush and gave Moses what must have seemed like an impossible assignment, one at which he had failed forty years earlier. It was at this point that Moses asked the question, “WHO AM I?”

THE LIE OF INSIGNIFICANCE [1]

Moses’ question indicates that he still remembered his failure and rejection by the Israelites forty years earlier. No doubt there are failures in your past that still haunt you and make you have feelings of insignificance and ask, “WHO AM I?” It is a question that I have had to deal with since my call into God’s service when I was sixteen years old. I ran from that call for fifteen years for all the wrong reasons. My feeling of insignificance I now realize was major among them. At the time, I rationalized my running for a number of reasons. I liked “things” and the preachers I knew were poor and were kept that way, and I didn’t want to be poor. Besides, the Church was full of hypocrites. It never occurred to me that if they stood between me and God, they were closer to God than I was! From my earliest memories as a child, I always felt like an outsider, always on the outside looking in. I was never able to live up to the expectations of those around me. Not that my family didn’t love me, because they did and I know they wanted the best for me. The problem, that I discovered years later, was that I was an APPROVAL ADDICT!” [2] I had to have the approval of others to feel good about myself. When I did not get that approval, I felt rejected and that led to my acceptance of the lie that I was insignificant. One of the signs of believing the lie of insignificance is the desire to isolate yourself from others. I developed a “loner mentality.” My dream as a young man was to build a house in the middle of several hundred acres with a couple of ponds and never have to go out for anything.

BELIEVING THE LIE EMPOWERS THE LIAR!

Satan repeatedly tells us lies about our insignificance. He wants us to live with a deep consciousness of our past failures. Unfortunately, religion also wants to keep us aware of our past under the guise of using our past to keep us humble. As Bill Johnson said, “That is not humility, that is stupidity!” [3] The Apostle Paul made a most amazing statement in II Corinthians 7:2: “Receive us; we have wronged no man, we have corrupted no man, we have defrauded no man.” Was Paul lying? Did he forget about being involved in the murder of Stephen? (see Acts 7:58-8:1). No, he was not lying, but he did forget his past, because that past no longer existed. It didn’t exist in Paul’s mind, nor did it exist in God’s mind. God said in Isaiah 43:25: “I, even I, am he that blotteth out thy transgressions for mine own sake, and will not remember thy sins.” It was the Blood of Jesus that made that possible! Paul understood that, thus Paul said in II Corinthians 5:17: “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” Then he applied it to himself, Philippians 3:13,14: “Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but 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.” If we are believers and have confessed and repented of our sins, we have been forgiven! I John 1:9: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” If after forgiveness, we continue to focus on the sin in our past, we are agreeing with something that no longer exists! It has been blotted out by God! Satan tries to get us to continue to focus on something that no longer exists, and when we listen to him and agree with him, it empowers him in our lives. In God’s thoughts, that sins no longer exists! If I think thoughts about myself that God doesn’t think about me, I am thinking a lie! The world believes the devil’s lies, but we should not! Romans 12:2: “And be not conformed to this world: BUT BE YE TRANSFORMED BY THE RENEWING OF YOUR MIND, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”

FIVE LIES TO CAST DOWN!

In his book, The Search for Significance, Robert McGee list five lies that Satan wants us to believe about ourselves. If we believe them and agree with Satan, we empower him to wreak destruction in our lives. Here are the five lies:

  1. Your worth = Your performance + Others’ opinions
  2. Those who fail are unworthy of love and deserve to be blamed and condemned.
  3. I must meet certain standards to feel good about myself.
  4. I must be approved by certain others to feel good about myself.
  5. I am what I am. I cannot change. I am hopeless.

THE TRUTH WILL SET YOU FREE!

  1. Your worth = What God says about you.
  2. I am deeply loved by God. I John 4:9-10: “In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.”
  3. I am completely forgiven and fully pleasing to God. II Corinthians 5:21: “For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.”
  4. I am totally accepted by God. Colossians 1:21-22: “And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled in the body of his flesh through death, TO PRESENT YOU HOLY AND UNBLAMEABLE AND UNREPROVEABLE IN HIS SIGHT.”
  5. I am absolutely complete in Christ. II Corinthians 5:17: “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” And II Corinthians 3:18: “But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.”

WHO AM I?

Did God answer Moses’ question when he asked God, “WHO AM I?” Just a casual reading might give us the idea that God just ignored Moses’ question and begin giving instructions. But consider for a moment the first thing God said to Moses and what that implies. Exodus 3:12a: “And he said, Certainly I will be with thee…” I like the way Bill Johnson explained it: “…I will be with thee…” In other words, Moses, you are the one I like to be with!” [3] Who are you? If you are born again, you are the one God likes to be with!

The song “Greater” by Mercy Me expresses this whole idea of our significance to God and has been very much a blessing to me. I encourage you to take a few minutes to click on it below and let it encourage you in your walk with the Lord. If you have never read the book Search For Significance, I would encourage you to read it and do the workbook section. It was a great help to me. (Tom)

Blessings,

Tom and Jeanie

Works cited:

[1] Johnson, Bill, Hosting The Presence, Shippensburg, Pa. Destiny Image, 2012, pg 49-64.

[2] McGee, Robert, The Search For Significance, Nashville, W. Publishing Group, 1998,2003.

[3] Johnson, Bill, Curriculum, Hosting The Presence, Book, 2 DVD’s, Student workbook, Shippensburg, Pa. Destiny Image, 2013, DVD1, Session 2, The Lie of Insignificance.

Mercy Me, Greater, Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GXI0B4iMLuU

 

Posted by: Tom Graves | January 27, 2015

ARE YOU JUST SURVIVING?

ARE YOU JUST SURVIVING?

Have you ever felt like you are stuck in a rut, just barely able to hang on and survive? I have been there and done that, more often than I would like to think about. I refuse to “Buy the T-Shirt” however, because that is not where God intends for us to be. John 10:10b, Amplified Bible, personalized by me: Jesus said: “…I AM COME THAT YOU MAY HAVE AND ENJOY LIFE, AND HAVE IT IN ABUNDANCE (TO THE FULL, TILL IT OVERFLOWS)!!!”

I have been so blessed by a song by the group Casting Crowns, entitled “Thrive” because it expresses the desires of my heart to know Jesus more and more day by day, “…AND ENJOY LIFE, AND HAVE IT IN ABUNDANCE. Here are the lyrics, followed by a link to the song on YouTube:

“Thrive”

Here in this worn and weary land Where many a dream has died 

Like a tree planted by the water We never will run dry 

So living water flowing through God we thirst for more of You

Fill our hearts and flood our souls With one desire 

Just to know You and To make You known

We lift Your name on High

Shine like the sun make darkness run and hide

WE KNOW WE WERE MADE FOR SO MUCH MORE

THAN ORDINARY LIVES

IT’S TIME FOR US TO MORE THAN JUST SURVIVE

WE WERE MADE TO THRIVE 

 Into Your word we’re digging deep To know our Father’s heart 

 Into the world we’re reaching out To show them who You are 

 Joy Unspeakable, Faith Unsinkable, Love Unstoppable, Anything is possible  

 Hey!

 WE WERE MADE TO THRIVE  

Thanks to Elly McKinsey for adding these lyrics. Link: http://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/castingcrowns/thrive.html (emphasis mine.)

Listen to the song and allow the truth that it brings forth to change the way you think! “WE KNOW WE WERE MADE FOR SO MUCH MORE THAN ORDINARY LIVES! IT’S TIME FOR US TO MORE THAN JUST SURVIVE – WE WERE MADE TO THRIVE!”

May the Lord bless you and may you thrive!

Blessings, Tom and Jeanie

Link to Casting Crowns, “Thrive”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qQ71RWJhS_M

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