Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Whom He Called; Them He Also Justified

This morning, April 8, 2008, I was reading again from the book of Romans and came across Chapter 8 and verse 30. It reminded me of how God so often has intervened in my life and shown me that He was with me in the efforts I have made for His work. I had been going through a particularly difficult time in my relationship with some of my ministry colleagues. They were saying that my proposed M.E.D.I.C. meeting was too much trouble; too expensive; impractical; would not work; etc. and etc. Still I felt driven to try and make this happen. I wanted to bring all the missionaries, overseers and educational directors and their spouses who were working in the 32 countries of Africa which I supervise to Cleveland, Tennessee for this meeting. After all, they were on their way to the General Assembly and this would save money. I knew it would be expensive as I would have to find funds to pay for their trip from Atlanta and back, plus pay for their housing for three nights in a hotel here, plus purchase food for them. My calculations showed that it would cost around $35,000.00 for this meeting. But I felt compelled to have this meeting for them here, to give them a chance to see their General Headquarters and to meet some of our leadership here.

In the spring of that year, (2006) Frances and I had driven to Indianapolis, Indiana for a missions service on Friday night. We then drove to Mishawaka on Saturday night for another missions service where we were supposed to meet the pastors of two other churches which we were to speak for on Sunday morning and Sunday night. This was a common method of operation for those of us involved in raising funds for World Missions.

When we met the Pastor on Saturday night, his gushing greeting went something like this: "Oh Brother and Sister Brannen! We're SO glad to have you coming to our church in the morning. We SO look forward to ministering to you both and having you with us in our service. -- But, I'll be doing the preaching." Now it seemed awful to me that after having driven over 500 miles one way to represent the World Missions department and speak to the people about missions, that the pastor thought he should do the preaching. My thoughts raced, "Just tell him not to worry...that you and Frances can get a motel on your way home and it will be o.k." However, I swallowed real hard (pride is very difficult to swallow) and said, "O-O-O-O K!" with emphasis on the long, drawn out, “O”.

Needless to say, I was disappointed -- but next morning, before the regular service we met with the "elders" in the pastor’s office to pray. During that prayer the pastor said, “I feel that we need to pray for Sister Brannen. Sister Brannen, is there something special you need from God?” “Yes, I'm diabetic and my sugar is extremely out of balance.” They prayed for Frances and God gave her a healing which brought her sugar down to normal levels for the next several weeks. Then in the service I was given 3 minutes to greet the congregation. I paid close attention to my watch while saying, "Thank You for supporting World Missions and for supporting Frances and me." As the second hand of my watch swept across twelve I was on my way to my assigned seat on the front row.

Then the pastor took the pulpit to preach. However, before the Pastor preached he said he felt led to ask his congregation to come and lay hands on these dear missionaries and pray for them. He asked his "armor-bearers" to bring two chairs and place them in front of the pulpit and asked Frances and me to sit in them and let the people pray for us. As they came to pray they would shake our hands, lay hands on our heads and/or shoulders while some put offerings into our hands. (Just over $1200 in cash was given! Reflecting on this later I thought that was a much better offering than I would have gotten had I preached!)

Of more value than any amount of money was the following incident during the prayer. One of his older men (I assumed to be in his early 50's) stopped everything and said, "Brother Brannen, God has told me to tell you that those whom He has called, these he has also justified. And those whom he justified, them he also sanctified. Now what that means to you is that God is in charge; God is the one who called you, it is He who has put these thoughts and ideas into your mind. You don't need anyone else to approve it."

Others prayed a few minutes and the same man came back and basically stated the same thing again. He said something like, "Brother Brannen, I don't know what it is that God has put in your heart to do -- but God says again that you are to ignore the "nay-sayers" and do what He said to do. Some are saying it is too expensive, too much trouble, it's impractical and you shouldn't try it. But God says to tell you that He is the one who has called you, he is the one who justified you, he sanctified you, he put the ideas into your head and you don't need any committee nor any other person to approve it. Just DO it!!!"

As you might imagine – by that time my chest felt like it was about to explode with joy and confidence and the presence of God! By the way, it is in this context that a favorite verse of mine and of many others is found: “If God be for us, who can be against us.”
A study of Romans 11:29 reveals, "For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance." I like part of Dake's comments on this verse: "This not only applies to the gifts and callings of Israel, but to any individual whom God calls or gives a gift. God does not change His mind as if He made a mistake. People may fail Him so that He cannot fulfill such callings with them, but when, if ever, they come back to repentance God holds them to the original obligation to obey Him." (Emphasis added) So -- whoever you are, when the enemy of your soul tells you that you are a failure, that you have messed up to0 bad to ever make it again, remember that God knew all about you. He understood your psyche and knew your strengths and all of your weaknesses when He called you to serve Him. He chose you anyway. He does not apologize for it.

1 comment:

Tabitha said...

Thank you for the not so gentle reminder that I am called and justified. That means "just as if I'd never sinned." The devil really likes to play in my head and make me think that I am not really useful to God anymore because of the sins I have committed (over 8 years ago) even though I received forgiveness then and God has forgotten. So...thank you again!

About Me

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Cleveland, TN, United States
I am Fred Alton Brannen, the son of Louis A. Brannen (deceased) and Bonnie Jones Brannen, Louis was an Ordained Bishop with the Church of God. Bonnie is an Ordained Licensed Minister and at 89 years of age is still actively engaged in speaking and singing engagements. I am married to the former Frances Hildreth. We celebrated 53 years of marriage this past June and we are the parents of 3, grand-parents of 10, and great-grandparents of 10. I pastored in Tennessee for 24 years and served the Church in some capacity in missions for over 23 years. I retired from full-time ministry in August of 2008 but remain active, speaking and singing and teaching whenever opportunity affords itself. In January of 2010 I received a letter of commendation for having been credentialed as a minister in the Church of God for 50 years! My family is very important to me. Our get togethers are always noisy affairs and most times will include family sing-alongs. The children love their Mom's cooking so we have the privilege of seeing them regularly! WE LOVE having them over.

TheCabin on Day One

TheCabin on Day One
Fred Alton