Sunday, July 24, 2016

I stand at the door and knock: But on who's door? The lesson of Laodicea.

Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the doorI will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.

The music is playing. People's heads are bowed and eyes closed. Many are already praying for themselves and for others. The preacher says:

"These altars are open." He pauses, then continues, "Jesus said, I stand at the door and knock. If any man will open the door, I will come in to him." Another pause. "Don't you want to dine with Jesus? Don't you want him to come in?" 

All the while the singers softly sing," Softly and tenderly Jesus is calling. Calling Oh Sinner, come home." 

The implication is clear to everyone listening. Jesus would only be knocking on the door of a sinners heart. Real Christians don't have to worry about it cause he's already there.

I'm all for using scripture to try and convince people to come to Jesus. But, the scriptures MUST be used in the context in which they were written. 

Let's look at that section of scripture in it's totality.

Revelation 3:14-21King James Version (KJV)

14 And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God;
15 I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot.
16 So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.
17 Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked:
18 I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see.
19 As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.
20 Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.
21 To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne.
Was this section written to people who have never known God? NO!!!
This section was written to THE CHURCH!!!
Read it. If ever a section of scripture applied to the modern church this is it. 
Church used to be all about Jesus. It was all about accomplishing his great commission. It was all about showing kindness and love to others. It was all about giving to others and helping others. 
In times past, people in need could go to a church and the ministry there (both the leaders and the members) would reach out with the love of God and lend a helping hand. This show of love would draw the person (or persons) to come and "give church a try." 
Once there, they would visibly see and hear the love of God in action towards each other in the church. The love was genuine. It wasn't an act. They saw the hands of Jesus vividly on display before their very eyes. 
This would solidify in their minds that they wanted to be like that. In trying to find out how to be like that, they were open to Compassionate Bible studies that lovingly showed them the truth. The truth that all were born in sin and shapen in iniquity. The truth that "without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sins." The truth that God himself became a man and shed his own blood to redeem a lost and dying world. The truth that we all need to be born again for 2 reasons: 1) to wash our sins away. 2) to begin the journey to become like Jesus by letting Jesus live through us. The truth that once you're born again (Acts 2:38), you are a child of God and enabled to show his love and be his hands and feet to others. And you wanted to, because you wanted to be the helper for others that your fellow church folk were to you. They showed you Jesus in real and palpable ways. Now, you wanted to do the same. 
That's how it used to be. 
But, Jesus told the Apostles that in the end times "the love of many shall wax cold." (Matthew 24) 
As a new born child of God, I (and the church in general) used this scripture to talk about the state of "the world." The great unwashed and unregenerate mass of people out there that were in dire need of saving. 
Little did we know that Jesus was also (and primarily?) referring to the church. 
The church now tends to look down it's noses at the unwashed masses. If someone comes to the church that's in need, they are looked upon with skepticism, and sometimes even open hostility. If they happen to receive help, and then return to the church thinking that they may actually have found a group of caring people to possibly belong to, they are told in no uncertain terms (and sometimes from the pulpit), that if they came back because they received help from the church, they should not look for more in the future.
 The message they receive quickly becomes that the church only wants people who can help the church do what it wants. The church is not interested in those who will be "a burden" on the church. 
All the while, Jesus is crying. He came to churches door and knocked. And the church is leaving him outside the very same doors. 
The church has grown lukewarm. It revels in it's riches and finery (calling gain-unbiblically- godliness). It builds ever bigger and more immaculate sanctuaries. It becomes state of the art with all the latest tech gizmo's and gadgets. The leadership are all dressed in fine clothing,drive nice vehicles,and live in fine houses. 
But, the people they are called to serve and be the hand of Jesus to are left unserved and unwashed in his blood. 
The modern church, for all it's fancy finery, is a shell of what the Bible teaches. 
Real relationship is replaced by religious activity. 
Real help is replaced by pious prayers and government programs. 
Real brotherhood is replaced by "fellowship breakfasts" and fishing trips. 
No one aches for the lost. No one agonizes over the hurting brethren. In fact, testimonies of God's goodness are limited to comfortable subjects. Former drug addicts aren't allowed to tell where God brought them from. The testimony could get too messy and long.
Services are limited to a certain time period because we all have to get to the buffet before the church down the road does. 
Almost nobody has dinner on the grounds anymore, and if they do, they charge people a fee to partake of the very food the people brought to. Why? To help with "the building fund."
People are asked to give sacrificially to help fix the bathroom (even though there's nothing wrong with the bathroom) up to be as nice as the bishop's bathroom in his church. Give to build a game room for the youth. But, no one is asked to give to help a needy family in the area- or even in the church. 
The church truly has become, as predicted in Revelations 3, wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked. 
 JESUS is calling on the modern church to REPENT!!!!!
Become zealous for the love of God again. Become zealous to see a lost and dying world again. Let Jesus work through you again, before it's too late!!!!
Church, the door Jesus is knocking on is yours. Will you open it again? Will you allow him to cleanse and change you into what he has called you to be? 
Or will you hold on to your pride and position, your fine things and your religion? And will you follow these attitudes to a fiery lake- just like the other pharisees before you? 
Repent church! Before it's too late. 
Doctrine is important. Holiness is necessary. But, Jesus didn't say that the world would know us by our doctrines or by what we call holiness. 
Jesus said they would know us by our agape': our unconditional love for each other and for them. 
Let's get back to that! 
For too long we have believed that the way to catch the fish we are supposed to be fishing for is through the hook of doctrine. Either that, or by our separate ways of dress, etc. 
But, those things are not the hook he gave us to fish with. The hook he's given us to fish with is love. And when they feel the love of God coming through us in our words and deeds, then they will ask questions and can be shown doctrine. Because only then will they want what we have. 

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Just trudging along.

I returned, and saw under the sun, that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favour to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all.

I had a rather long day today. I began my work at 5:15 AM and finished around 7:10 PM. During that time, I delivered my company's product to 18 stores. Parts of the day seemed to go swiftly. Other parts dragged on for eternity. 

But, the bottom line was that my job needed to be done and I was the only one available today to do it. So, when it felt as if the day was never going to end, I simply kept on going. I worked one store at a time until they were all done. 

Why does this matter? 

Think of it as an allegory to our walk with God and our time on earth. 

We are all here for a purpose. A purpose designed by our creator to accomplish. A purpose that only we can accomplish (with God's help, of course). 

So, how do we do it? How do we finish our race and accomplish what he desires for us? 

One step at a time. One task at a time. One day at a time. 

Think of Noah. Noah was 500 years young when the Lord spoke to him (and him alone) and ordered him to build a ship so large that it's dimensions couldn't be matched until the 20th century. 

We are never told that God spoke to him again until he was about to destroy the earth. 

This occurred when he was 600 years old. 

Noah endured 100 years of waiting. 100 years of backbreaking work. 100 years of pain, confusion, doubt, and mockery. 

Yet, he still continued on. One log at a time. One bucket of pitch at a time. One broken saw at a time. 

How frustrated did he get? We're not told. Whatever his attitude in the ensuing 100 years, he got the job done. 

Peter calls him a "preacher of righteousness." (2 Peter 2:5) Yet, we are never told of a single word he preached. 

Did he ever verbally preach? Probably. But, his greatest sermon was his life. He stayed the course. He finished his God-given project. One step at a time. 

A lesson we should all learn. Whether or not anyone outside our families ever know our name, we are to keep on keeping on. 

When times are good? Keep serving Jesus. In bad times? Keep serving Jesus. 

The greatest sermon we will ever utter, is the witness of our lives being lived for Jesus. Through the good and the bad. 

Just keep trudging along, and one day, a brave new world will open up to us. One day, the storm will be over and we will exit the boat to celebrate the future. 

Till then, lets just keep trudging along. One prayer at a time. One task at a time. Before we know it, we will be caught up with him in the sky- forever changed. 

As the old cartoon song once said, "Put one foot in front of the other..." The results will amaze us! 

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Man's trash is God's precious treasure.

Humans love flashy things. Humans really enjoy pretty things.

Many have been the young people who have struggled with their self worth because they (in their own mind) do not measure up to the standards that Hollywierd, magazines, and the music industry say that they should.

Many are the husbands and wives who hang their head in shame because their spouse doesn't think they are pretty enough, successful enough, or whatever other arbitrary standard they may expect them to meet.

Most of us are aware of these situations, but how about this one?

MANY are the Christians who are truly Acts 2:38 born again, but were not raised up in Apostolic truth. They have sorted events in their past, but they lose the joy of their salvation because the Apostolic church looks down on them for the very pasts that Jesus died to forgive them for!

They are told "We love you. God loves you. He wants you to be born again and become a part of his bride." All of this is true!

Yet, somehow, after their new birth, they begin to receive subtle signals from the "in crowd" of the church. They are accepted as long as they show up to church, support the church with their money and physical efforts, and do as their told. But, when the spirit really begins to move on them, watch out! When God begins to call them to sing for him, teach for him, preach for him, all of a sudden they are told, in essence, "you ain't good enough!"

Rather than being encouraged to follow the leading of the Lord, they are discouraged because they don't have a spotless past. Therefore, the religious Apostolic establishment looks down their long noses at them and tries to make them get back in their spot and shut their mouths.

They soon realize that the only thing the established church really wants them for is to be a number on the pew, financially support the "work of God," and be a worker ant when something needs to be done around the church building. They are to leave the "work of God," to the truly holy people of God. Their testimony is not needed or wanted by these people that supposedly love them. Their gifts and callings are not wanted unless the all knowing "leadership" decides to call them out.

I have a word for the church. YOU WILL BE HELD ACCOUNTABLE FOR YOUR MISTREATMENT OF GOD'S LAMBS. The ones you look down on (with your attitude) as being less than you because of your long line of Apostolic pedigree, are the very ones Jesus died for to make them spotless!

You've become so caught up in "your holiness," that you cannot see the hurt and pain you cause. You are so caught up in who you are, that you look down on those that you claim to minister to.

If some of them leave your church (due to how they've been treated), you call them backsliders. If they try to start another work to help others who've been wounded like they were, you do everything in your power to destroy their reputations and call them a cancer. And you use the very past that God redeemed them from to do it!

Shame on you! You have become a pit of vipers! REPENT, before it is too late!

And a word to the masses that have been wounded.

God does love you! God WILL use you! Start looking for others like yourself. The Apostolic doctrines of One God, Acts 2:38 salvation, and holiness are true. Don't throw out the baby with the bath water. Hold on to the truth. Find each other and do what the organized church refuses to do: love each other and help to heal each other.

And once your sufficiently healed from your wounds, reach out to a lost and dying world with the love of God. Reach out to others who are in the same boat the church put you in, and help to heal them, too.

Remember, Man's trash is God's precious treasure.

He chose Israel because they were THE LEAST, not because they were the greatest. The word of God is FULL of people who were truly bad people and God changed their lives for the betterment of millions of people!

Moses was a murderer, but God used him to deliver a nation.

David was an adulterer, but God used him to slay the evil nations around him and solidify his kingdom.

Matthew was a turncoat and a tax collector for an evil regime, but he left it all behind to become one of the Apostles of Jesus!

Saul was a religious zealot who ordered the deaths of multitudes of Christians, but he became the greatest evangelist in history when God met him on the road to Damascus.

John Mark left the mission field, but came back and wound up writing the gospel of Mark!

The list goes on and on.

Don't let folks tell you that you are not good enough for God to use! When you are born again, the scripture declares that "ALL things are made new!"

The past that the religious elite tries to use against you is GONE! It has been washed away by the blood of Jesus!

If you've fallen since you were born again, the scripture declares that if you repent, he will "cleanse you of ALL unrighteousness." So repent, get up, and go on for Jesus.

Don't let the organized church grind you to dust. Get up and BE the church.

The end time revival won't come from the organized church. Instead it will come from the true church that simply loves and let's God use them how he sees fit.

You are NOT trash! You are God's precious treasure!

You are bought with a price. Let your owner use you how he sees fit.

And the Lord said unto him, Who hath made man's mouth? or who maketh the dumb, or deaf, or the seeing, or the blind? have not I the Lord?

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Was (and is) Jesus really a pacifist?

John 18:10-11King James Version (KJV)

10 Then Simon Peter having a sword drew it, and smote the high priest's servant, and cut off his right ear. The servant's name was Malchus.
11 Then said Jesus unto Peter, Put up thy sword into the sheath: the cup which my Father hath given me, shall I not drink it?
There has been a raging debate for centuries now. Some say that the people of God should never take up weapons for any reason. Some say that we should protect what we love- just as Jesus protects his church. 
The passage listed above has been used by many to "prove" that Jesus was against his people using weapons. But, is that true? Was Jesus the pacifist that many try and portray him to be? 
First of all, a careful look at this passage shows that Peter was, in fact, NOT rebuked for using a weapon. Indeed, in Luke 22:34-39, Jesus tells his disciples to buy a sword because things are about to get crazy. Would a true pacifist say this? 
Here, in John, Peter- wanting to protect the Lord he loves- pulls his sword and attacks one of the men who have been sent to capture Jesus. Jesus doesn't rebuke him for the sword. He doesn't tell him to throw away his sword and become a pacifist. Rather Jesus tells him to put his weapon away for now. The real rebuke is in the next statement. Jesus explains to Peter that in his actions, he was standing in the way of the holy plans of God almighty. In other words, Peter was told to stand down and  let God's plan play out. But, Peter was not told to become a pacifist. 

But, what about Jesus' other teachings? 

Yes, he told us to "turn the other cheek," but cheek is not plural, it's singular So, how many times are we to allow ourselves to be slapped? Yes, Jesus took lots of stripes, many punches, a crown of thorns, two nails, lots of insults, and a spear in his side. But, this was also on his way to redeeming us. He was the Lamb of God. He had to be slaughtered and his blood shed in order to buy our redemption. 

On the other hand, when Jesus saw the ungodliness of the money changers in the temple, he made a whip and used it! He beat the money changers, let loose the animals, turned over tables, etc. He was a one man wrecking crew! Was this the actions of a pacifist? I think not. 

Some point to Matthews account in Matthew 26: 51-54 and say, "See, we are supposed to be pacifistic. Jesus says if we take up a weapon, we will die by that weapon." Is that what he really said? The context of the verse shows again that Jesus didn't say there was never a time for us to use a weapon. Indeed, Ecclesiastes 3:8 says there IS a time for war. 

But, in Matthew he tells Peter (unnamed in this scripture) to a) put up his sword (a pacifistic Jesus would have told him to throw away his sword). Evidently, there was a use for the sword at a later time. This was just not the right time or reason.  

B) He tells Peter, "don't you know I have the authority and power to stop all this right now?" (My paraphrase). In Johns account of this, when Jesus told the soldiers that "I am he," his words released enough power to knock them
all to the ground. He then used that show of power to make sure that his disciples were free to go. The clear implication to his captors being that "I am allowing you to take me, but I will protect my followers if you don't let them go." 

C) He then tells Peter that if he did stop it by going to war (as Peter was trying to do), then God's plan for the salvation of man could not happen. 

The correction against Peter was not that he used a sword. The correction against Peter, again, was that he was interfering in the salvation of mankind at that moment. The timing was wrong, not the fighting.

In truth, Jesus was fighting a spiritual war for our souls. A war in which he gave his life for us. 

Paul tells us to love our wives as Jesus loved the church and died for us. A man who is not willing to fight (and die, if necessary) for his wife and family to protect them is not a Christian man and doesn't truly love his family as Christ loves the church. 

There are many warrior word pictures painted for our instruction in the Bible. 

Ephesians 6:10-18 talks about putting on the "whole armour of God." Yes, it's a spiritual lesson, but, if the spiritual lesson is true, then isn't the physical picture he's using to teach by also true? Shouldn't we, as men of God, be willing to literally go to war to protect our loved ones? 

Romans 13:4 recognizes the validity of the governments armed forces and police. Are Christians supposed to be wimps and not take part in those institutions? 

Indeed, 1 Timothy 6:12 states that we should, "fight the good fight of faith." If we are to be willing to spiritually fight, shouldn't we be willing to physically fight if the situation warrants it? 

Yes, we are told to "resist not evil," but that's the same passage that tells us to turn the other cheek. But, also, how do we square this with the command to "resist the devil"- the ultimate evil? Evidently, as Ecclesiastes says, "there's a time for every purpose under heaven." 

So, how do we know when to fight and when not to fight? By following Jesus. If he tells us to fight, we fight. If he tells us not to fight, then we take what comes. HE, not we, is the ultimate arbiter of justice and he decides when we do or don't fight- and how we fight. 

How many times in scripture does God tell his people to fight? MANY times. The God of the Old Testament became flesh in the New Testament to pay for our sins and make a way for us to have a relationship with him. But, he hasn't changed. Sometimes he will tell US to act. Sometimes he will tell us to let HIM act. 

But, we MUST be willing to fight- in whatever form he tells us to. Whether that fight is spiritual, or physical, or both, is entirely up to him. 

There are dark days ahead. If we aren't willing to stand and fight, who will? 

But, Jesus is no pacifist. And neither should we be.  


Sunday, January 24, 2016

It's never too late for you!

33 Manasseh was twelve years old when he began to reign, and he reigned fifty and five years in Jerusalem:
But did that which was evil in the sight of the Lord, like unto the abominations of the heathen, whom the Lord had cast out before the children of Israel.
For he built again the high places which Hezekiah his father had broken down, and he reared up altars for Baalim, and made groves, and worshipped all the host of heaven, and served them.
Also he built altars in the house of the Lord, whereof the Lord had said, In Jerusalem shall my name be for ever.
And he built altars for all the host of heaven in the two courts of the house of the Lord.
And he caused his children to pass through the fire in the valley of the son of Hinnom: also he observed times, and used enchantments, and used witchcraft, and dealt with a familiar spirit, and with wizards: he wrought much evil in the sight of the Lord, to provoke him to anger.
And he set a carved image, the idol which he had made, in the house of God, of which God had said to David and to Solomon his son, In this house, and in Jerusalem, which I have chosen before all the tribes of Israel, will I put my name for ever:
Neither will I any more remove the foot of Israel from out of the land which I have appointed for your fathers; so that they will take heed to do all that I have commanded them, according to the whole law and the statutes and the ordinances by the hand of Moses.
So Manasseh made Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem to err, and to do worse than the heathen, whom the Lord had destroyed before the children of Israel.
10 And the Lord spake to Manasseh, and to his people: but they would not hearken.
11 Wherefore the Lord brought upon them the captains of the host of the king of Assyria, which took Manasseh among the thorns, and bound him with fetters, and carried him to Babylon.
12 And when he was in affliction, he besought the Lord his God, and humbled himself greatly before the God of his fathers,
13 And prayed unto him: and he was intreated of him, and heard his supplication, and brought him again to Jerusalem into his kingdom. Then Manasseh knew that the Lord he was God.
14 Now after this he built a wall without the city of David, on the west side of Gihon, in the valley, even to the entering in at the fish gate, and compassed about Ophel, and raised it up a very great height, and put captains of war in all the fenced cities of Judah.
15 And he took away the strange gods, and the idol out of the house of the Lord, and all the altars that he had built in the mount of the house of the Lord, and in Jerusalem, and cast them out of the city.
16 And he repaired the altar of the Lord, and sacrificed thereon peace offerings and thank offerings, and commanded Judah to serve the Lord God of Israel.
17 Nevertheless the people did sacrifice still in the high places, yet unto the Lord their God only.
18 Now the rest of the acts of Manasseh, and his prayer unto his God, and the words of the seers that spake to him in the name of the Lord God of Israel, behold, they are written in the book of the kings of Israel.
19 His prayer also, and how God was intreated of him, and all his sins, and his trespass, and the places wherein he built high places, and set up groves and graven images, before he was humbled: behold, they are written among the sayings of the seers.
20 So Manasseh slept with his fathers, and they buried him in his own house: and Amon his son reigned in his stead.

We live in a day and age where most people judge someone by their past. Many has been the person who started life badly. They developed a reputation for being bad. But, watch what happens when that person turns their life around and begins to live for Jesus. Most that either know them, or know of their reputation, will usually say, "Yea, right! I have a hard time believing that one." 
In today's passage, we have a young king who took all the wrong steps. He had all the right tools. His father, Hezekiah, was a great and godly man. He led his kingdom to live for God, made much needed reforms, and did not tolerate evil. Tall shoes indeed for a twelve year old boy to fill. 
But, one thing about young boys, especially in their teen years, is that they tend to rebel against their elders. Some of them come to their senses. Some never do. As soon as Manasseh (whose name means, "causing to forget." He was named after Joseph's son who was so named for God's blessings causing Joseph to forget being sold into slavery by his brothers, wrongly accused by a harlot, and being forgotten in prison.),he began to stretch his royal wings and take the country in directions that his godly father never would've agreed with. 
His life was the poster child of ungodliness. He allowed and encouraged his country to become "multicultural." Everyone who wanted to serve their foreign idols were not only allowed to do so, but aided in doing it by the young king's government. 
"Oh how wise you are," said one of the young king's advisers. "Be more inclusive and the rest of the world will love you," said another. "If you want to show how truly great you are, and how great our nation is, you must allow people to follow the truths that they were raised to believe," said his religious adviser. "Imagine how the international community will love you if you stop all this religious exclusivity, your highness,"
Listening to these voices, Manasseh allowed all manor of ungodliness into his kingdom. Alters were built to idols in the mountains and the valleys. Groves were built. This was a place where the worshipers of Ashtaroth (a fertility goddess) could go and (for a small fee) sleep with one of her "priestesses" in order to gain a blessing for their crops and/or help their wives to conceive a child. (Makes sense, huh? Sleep with one woman in order to help your own wife become pregnant? SMH) 
They had their own version of abortion on demand, too. They threw their children in the unholy fires of Molech, seeking the blessing of the false god. (Much as America kills millions of babies every year for the "blessing" of personal freedom.)
The young king even started practicing sorcery and witchcraft! He became so full of himself that he placed altars to his own handmade idols in God's own temple! (Boy won't that preach today?) He had -and therefore the kingdom had- no fear of almighty God at all. If a nations leader(s) have no fear of God, the nation won't fear him, either.
God sent prophets to warn the king and the nation to repent of their evil ways, but to no avail. 
Finally, the one, true God had had enough. 
He sent the mightiest nation in the world (and the world's first terrorists), Assyria, against King Manasseh and his country. God didn't back his people. He allowed them to be overrun and the king to be taken captive. He was stripped of his finery, placed in chains, taken back to Assyria as a captive and thrown in a dungeon to rot.  
His story could have tragically and sadly ended there. He could have died in that dark and dirty place, never to be seen or heard of again. 
But, king Manasseh began to think on his life. He remembered how things were before all of his glorious "reforms." He remembered how peaceful and wholesome things had become under his god-fearing father's reign. He recalled the truth's that his father had taught and championed and how blessed the country had become by following them. 
Slowly, it dawns on Manasseh just how foolish he had been- and just how evil his advisers advice (and his following them) had been. He remembered the prophets that God had sent to him to try and warn him to repent. 
He's overwhelmed and cries out in real repentance. 
How long this process took, we're not told. How many times the enemies whispers of "It's too late for you, king," kept him from crying out, the scriptures do not say. 
All we know is that, at some point, he makes up his mind and cries out in spite of the voices, "God forgive me!" 
If God were as harsh and unforgiving as many people try to say that he is, Manasseh would've died in his hell hole. But, rather than giving Manasseh the fate he deserves, God reaches down and forgives this ungodly man- even in his prison cell. 
Still, that could've been the happy ending of Manasseh's story. "Evil King repents, is forgiven, and dies in prison." Most of the religious folks would've have told that story of a loving God's mercy for years to come! 
But, it doesn't end there. Nope! 
God not only forgives him, but he sets him free and restores him to the same position he held before God had passed judgement on him! Oh, the forgiveness of our God! 
But, here comes the real test for Manasseh. 
The city gates are open wide. No expense has been spared. The king is returning! The streets have been cleaned. The riff-raff have been run off. The advisers have spruced themselves up. The religious leaders are prepared to thank their god's for the return of the king. 
The truly pious aren't in the mood for celebration. To their minds, here comes more of the same ungodly policies.
Trumpets blare and the king enters the city in his chariot. The people applaud!
The king waves and his feet touch the ground in his beloved city. You can almost see him fall to his face and kiss the ground he never thought he would see again. When he arises, there are tears in his eyes. He's so glad to be home! 
But, looking around as he had entered his country and now his capital, he became more and more aware of the awesome tasks that were set before him. For a truly repentant heart cannot allow things to continue as before. Changes must come. And they must come as quickly as they can possibly be made. 
The king calls his counselors together and begins to explain what he has in mind. The more he speaks, the more alarmed his counsel becomes. "Does he really want to undo and destroy all the progress we've made through the years?" 
When it becomes apparent that's exactly what he intends to do, an outcry arises. "King, you can't do this!" "My lord, the people will revolt!" A cacophony arises that is full of objections. 
The king rises to his feet and silences the room with one cry, "Silence!"
Gone is the timid boy who could be sweet talked into ungodliness. Gone is the young king who's baser instincts could be appealed to to convince him to make the reforms they wanted. 
In their place stands a man of God, full of the power of God. His mind is made up! His advisers are fired and replaced. His word is full of the wisdom of God and his will is made of iron. 
He strengthens the defenses of his nation and begins to tear down and destroy the idol places that he himself had helped to set up. 
You can almost hear the religious folks saying, "Who does he think he is? He helped set all this up." "It's true we prayed for reformation, but he can't be the one! His past is too bad to be God's man for this hour!"
If Manasseh had listened to these voices, the revival of his country wouldn't have happened. 
But, Manasseh remembered the God of Grace and Mercy that had given him a second chance when he was in his dark and cold prison cell. He remembered the voice that he heard in that hopeless place and spoke life and purpose back into his life.    
So, Manasseh ignored the naysayers. He ignored the finger pointers. He just focused on God and the task that he had been assigned. He didn't let the talk bother him. Manasseh had a mission from God and he was going to accomplish it- even if it killed him. 
True repentance is much more than saying, "I'm sorry." Real repentance is a change of heart and mind that connects the ungodly sinner to the God of mercy. It changes the sinner into a willing vessel. It opens the door for a miraculous change that will effect many more people who see the evidence of Jesus in the life of the penitent soul. 
My friends, if you are trapped in a prison created by your own sin, it's not too late for you. If you feel that your life is over and God cannot use you, you're wrong. Repent, and watch God work!
But, when the naysayers arise, ignore them. Hold on to what God has told you. Go about the work he has sent you to do. And above all else, don't let your past dictate your future. "He whom the son hath set free, is free indeed!"