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Four Firehouse Chronicles begin...by Deborah Ann Saint

Chapter Four

The Four Firehouse Chronicles

Deborah

“I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints”

(Ephesians 1:18 NASB).

“For Paul, being “filled with the Spirit” is to have the gospel driven into the very center of your being so that rather than just abstract doctrines, it becomes a living reality that affects your whole life. That is what it means to be filled with the Spirit. The Bible is a book given to us to authoritatively guide us, regardless of what century we live in, regardless of what culture we live in.” ~Tim Keller

Firehouse Chronicles, #1, #2, #3, and #4 are true experiences that happened to me over the course of several years and are told in chronological order. I share these experiences to show how God is present and active in our lives to accomplish things we could not achieve on our own. As we listen for the Lord’s direction and obey as we believe He is leading us, He accomplishes His will in and through us. It is exciting and marvelous (and clear in God’s Word) how a relationship with Christ brings His leading and His good works in our lives (Ephesians 2:10). As we grow in Him, He prepares us through our past experiences and promises us healing, redemption, restoration and so much more. Our call and inheritance become more exciting as He reveals His work in a visible way. In these events, I believe, this is true.

In the Four Firehouse chronicles, it is also my hope to show the scarlet thread of redemption connecting my past with my present. These connections may surprise the reader as they did me. Discussing how the events of my past and present tie together in these chronicles is meant to “show off the gospel” and demonstrate an understanding that our world needs the gospel. In other words, in these four stories, the experiences I once feared would destroy me, were connected, sewn, and pieced together by the Holy Spirit to strengthen and prepare me to live true to the Gospel.

“Come now, let us reason together, says the LORD: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool (Isaiah 1:18 ESV).

Like Rahab, in Joshua 2, I have trusted in the scarlet cord that saves. “The scarlet thread”, pointing to and symbolic of the blood of Christ and the need for man’s reconciliation with God, runs throughout the Bible. On this side of the cross, Jesus Christ’s sacrifice, His shed blood for the forgiveness of sins, and redemption of mankind, have been made known and available to any who will believe.

Perhaps as you read these Firehouse Chronicles, you will see similarities in your life which point the way to God’s calling for you? Let’s pray together for the Lord to do so and even more than we ask or imagine. (See Ephesians 1:15-19 and 3:20)

Have you ever considered what the purpose of God is for you and for your generation? As we go on this adventure with God, may we discover His answer for us individually and yearn and progress to serve the purpose of God for our generation.

“For David, after he had served the purpose of God in his own generation, fell asleep and was laid with his fathers….” (Acts 13:36 ESV Emphasis Mine).

I consider the Firehouse Chronicles as great gifts from God to me and I hope that they will be to you. I am both humbled and grateful to have experienced these events. I pray these Firehouse Chronicles will challenge you to pray the prayers of Paul and ask the LORD to answer Paul’s prayers in your life. (For your convenience, The Lord’s Prayer, Jesus’ High Priestly Prayer in John 17, followed by Paul’s prayers, are written out at the end of this book.)

Sharing the Firehouse Chronicles will include some of my past which may be uncomfortable. Yet, through Christ, my past brings me to a place of grace and knowing my calling. The Firehouse Chronicles touch on sensitive, vital, but yet common issues of our time. These are not always easy topics. However, I hope to show that discussing them is profitable when we apply the solution of God’s amazing grace. God seemed to orchestrate these moments for a greater purpose than I originally knew.

Prayer

Heavenly Father, as I share these events in the next chapters, please use them to show how incredibly forgiving, gracious, loving, personal, merciful, exciting and redemptive You are. For those who do not know You, draw them to Jesus so they might repent and know His love and forgiveness. Help us more fully understand the power of Christ’s cross and resurrection. Teach us how to more closely walk with Jesus by His Holy Spirit and Word. Help us see our past in the light of God’s redemption and to use that redeemed past in our individual callings. Help us seek intimacy with You and sense Your guidance to walk in the good works you prepared for us (Ephesians 2:10). Please bring greater revelation and persuasion to Your people regarding the magnitude of their salvation and Your desire that they share their faith with others. Help us better believe Your love for us and then share Your love with others. Help us be thankful for and understanding of Christ’s sacrifice on the Cross for the forgiveness of our sins. Help us be happy in Jesus, passionate, authentic, gracious, caring and desirous that others experience Your Presence and Great Salvation. Please, God, show up in our lives and help us delight to do Your Will each day. Help us pray Jesus’ prayers and Paul’s prayers and may these yield fruit—even today, in our lives. Specifically, we ask You to start by opening the eyes of our hearts to be enlightened, so that we will know what is the hope of Your calling, what are the riches of the glory of Your inheritance in the saints” (Ephesians 1:18). Now unto You we pray as You are able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us (Ephesians 3:20). Help us be willing to know Christ’s truth, purposes, and gospel power for us individually to fulfill the purpose of our generation and to uphold the foundations of our faith in truth, grace and love. In Jesus Name, Amen

Chapter Five

Firehouse Chronicle #1

Deborah

Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. Blessed is the man against whom the Lord counts no iniquity, and in whose spirit, there is no deceit. I acknowledged my sin to you, and I did not cover my iniquity; I said, ‘I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,’ and you forgave the iniquity of my sin. Selah I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you”

(Psalm 32:1-2,5,8 ESV).

“I tell you, her sins—and they are many—have been forgiven, so she has shown me much love. But a person who is forgiven little shows only little love” (Luke 7:47 NLT).

Firehouse Chronicle #1

I drove to Atlanta today to meet my husband. The plan was that he would meet me at a hotel after his plane arrived. He had asked me to pick up take-out for our dinner together. As the time approached, I prayed about where to stop. I took an exit for a Chick-fil-A, but I could not find it. I came across a Firehouse restaurant instead. It seemed like the right place because Firehouse is also a favorite of ours.

I had enjoyed my road trip to Atlanta because I listened to a recording of a teaching on Job. I was happy, relaxed, and full of the Lord’s Word, and promises. It seemed the Lord had specifically prepared me for what was to come in a way I had not expected. I entered the restaurant, ordered our sandwiches, and got our drinks at the unique drink dispenser for which Firehouse is known. As I put the lids on our drinks, I saw a wad of money on the floor. I picked it up and counted four one-hundred dollar bills. I have rarely seen a one-hundred-dollar bill. Now, I had four one-hundred dollar bills in my hand. What a surprise!

With the four hundred dollars hidden in my hand, I went to the cashier and said that I had found some money. I said that if anyone had lost some money and they could tell me the exact amount, I would give it back.

The man making the sandwiches said, “Is it four one-hundred dollar bills? Because I just gave that amount to my girlfriend. She was standing right over there.” He pointed to the exact spot where I found the money. I nodded. He said, “She must have dropped it. I can't believe she would drop it right after I gave it to her.” He seemed annoyed and angry.

As I handed him the money, I said, “If I weren’t a good person you'd be out $400.” As soon as the words came out of my mouth, I knew better, I felt the Holy Spirit was teaching me. Am I back to that thinking again? I knew what that thought meant. The “good person, works-based faith” which had a long hindering history with me was rearing its ugly head again. I knew in my heart that I am fully forgiven and that it is through His Spirit alone that I am able to do His good works that produce eternal fruit.

The gentle wisdom of the Holy Spirit was there to remind me of the difference. Yes, I had done a good deed, but not because I was “a good person.” I knew myself and my past. Those two words, good person, have tripped me up for so long. Trying to be good through my good works had been my religion, but I knew it was not true Christianity. The moment I stated that I was good I realized I was not saying it to honor God but to honor myself.

Experiencing the goodness of God through the work of Christ has brought such a gift and blessing from the deposit of Christ’s righteousness by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. Only through the working of the Holy Spirit do good works, that bear God’s fruit, come forth. (Matthew 5:16, 1 Corinthians 10:31) This understanding is so different from believing I am good on my own.

I thought about the difference between these opposing beliefs and wondered how to correct my statement to the people who had initially heard me. I got the courage to go back up to the counter and said as loud as I could, “It’s not because I am a good person but because I am a Christian.”

I felt like an idiot. Two of the bystanders were gone but others heard. I wasn’t exactly sure why it was so important to make this declaration, but it felt right. My saying this, did open the door for me to converse with the other sandwich maker who declared his understanding as a believer in Christ. Plus, I would later gain a greater understanding of why all of this really was important. At that moment, though, I was sad that I hadn't initially honored God for He surely has been good to me.

The sandwich maker, (the boyfriend) had gone out to the parking lot. I could see him and a young lady through the window. They looked like they were in a heated fight. Their anger seemed excessive. I didn’t know why. With my order in hand, I headed for my car. Their voices quieted down as I approached. I asked if I could talk with them. Although I was unsure of what was happening between them, I felt sure that the Lord had brought me there. I told them that I hadn't planned to come to Firehouse Subs, “My being here at that exact moment was not an accident” They stared at me. Then I asked, “Why are you both so angry? You have the money back?” There was an awkward pause and some mumbling about a hole in the girlfriend’s pocket. I silently questioned whether the anger was due to the girlfriend’s carelessness with the money. I remembered how my husband had lost his wallet and how it had affected us both and had put me in danger at the time. I briefly acknowledged an understanding of the anger and told them of our experience and how it affected me. Then I found myself sharing with them about how my husband and I had been married 33 years and had been through ups and downs. Even though I had said I was a good person, I was not always good. Then I blurted out how my husband had forced me to have an abortion in our first year of marriage and that even though I had had an abortion, God has forgiven me. I sensed a great tension. There was a strange, pressure-filled pause. That is when I impulsively blurted out words that surprised me, “I hope that the money wasn't for an abortion!”

They looked eye-to-eye at each other. I sensed a challenge and a threat in the exchange and an intensity in this awkward pause.

Once my words were out I could not take them back. I felt so uncomfortable to have said that, and I feared I was way out of line. I had not planned on saying that nor had I desired to corner them or intrude in their business this way. I had impulsively blurted out that statement. It was as if the question in the statement was asked out loud before it ever formed in my mind. It seemed my heart was speaking from my own wounded soul. This was such a unique experience. It had not even dawned on me until I voiced the question out loud that the money could have been earmarked for an abortion. I told them that if I could go back in time and do it differently or if someone had warned my husband and me, maybe we would have another child today.

I shared with them that my husband and I have experienced God’s love, grace, forgiveness, mercy and the truth of His gospel. We know we do not fully comprehend the goodness of what Christ did on the cross. For years, I thought being a Christian was about my being good but God has shown me it is about how Good God is. He has shown me His goodness. How good He is to forgive me where I have fallen short and failed miserably. I also shared about what I see as real Christianity versus a “trying to earn one’s forgiveness/salvation” (Galatian’s type) mentality. I talked with them for some time, and they seemed to listen. It was a peaceful conversation as I felt my heart pleading with them to hear the importance of what God was doing and warning. We parted with a congenial goodbye.

I drove away amazed with what had transpired. I pondered how losing what is valuable, even feeling bankrupt, has brought me to understand God’s redemption. I prayed this couple would not have to experience such a loss to understand God’s love and redemption.

As I considered the experience at the restaurant, I realized that such an extraordinary encounter happened as a part of our normal life as we traveled to see my husband’s elderly mother. God shows Himself in our daily lives and offers us ways to share the greatness of His ways and gospel with others.

When comparing this interaction at Firehouse in comparison with my experience of hearing the coughing man, (Chapter 2) I realized my heart, in both situations, was to share the treasure of Christ with all involved. Christ is my truest treasure but I have not known or been successful in sharing Him effectively often. I do not think I am alone. My heart is to allow the Holy Spirit to work through me when given opportunities to share. I am thankful the Lord keeps placing me in situations that help me to learn and grow. It is said that DL Moody, in his passion for saving souls, determined not to let a day go by that he did not share Christ.

“I shall run the way of Your commandments, for You will enlarge my heart” (Psalm 119:32 NASB)

“Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it” (Proverbs 4:23 NIV)

I ask—the God of our Master, Jesus Christ, the God of glory—to make you intelligent and discerning in knowing him personally, your eyes focused and clear, so that you can see exactly what it is he is calling you to do, grasp the immensity of this glorious way of life he has for his followers, oh, the utter extravagance of his work in us who trust him—endless energy, boundless strength. All this energy issues from Christ: God raised him from death and set him on a throne in deep heaven, in charge of running the universe”

(Ephesians 1:20-21 MSG).

Prayer

Father God, we ask for a wide-open hearts, enlarged by Your Love (Psalm 119:32) and above all else help us guard our hearts for everything we do flows from our hearts (Proverbs 4:23). Help us know Christ as our treasure and share Christ as our treasure. May the good news of forgiveness be evident in our lives and shared with others passionately and with great love and care. May those that have been forgiven much, love much and share Christ much! Help us to run the way of Your commands and show others Your commands are for their good. Help us be wide open to You, Lord and guarded from the deceit and beguilement of the enemy. (2 Corinthians 11:3) Please protect us from wrong choices. May those planning on wrong actions, be turned back by your warnings and admit them to You, Lord for forgiveness. May we realize repentance is a gift and no longer deny, justify or hide in our sinfulness. “May we come to confess our iniquity and be sorry for our sin” (Psalm 38:18 ESV). Thank you for assuring us of Your forgiveness when we come to You in repentance (1 John 1:9) Enlighten the eyes of our hearts, Lord. May our mouths tell of Your wondrous works of salvation, Your might to a new generation, and Your power to all those that come. May we be willing and determined to have a wide-open heart, enlarged but guarded above all else to love and share Christ as our greatest treasure. In Jesus Name, Amen


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