Division

A word which I used to hate to hear in school! Yet, it seems very much in the news today as well as in the church. Our government or rather the politicians in it can’t seem to agree on anything today! Many churches and preachers can’t seem to agree on the message that we are all supposed to be preaching either!

DivisionWhy so much division? Between political parties and churches, between people of different cultures in the same country. I try not to speak of “races” because God did not create us that way. We are all descended from the same parents spoken about in Genesis, regardless of which religion that you claim. Judaism, Christian or Islam, all of these claim the same beginning for the most part, with very little difference until the birth of Jesus.

Division causes much strife in our world. We can’t agree on how to work out our problems because of it. We can’t seem to get past our political differences because of division between political beliefs, which seem to be ingrained in some people just as deeply as religious differences. Why is there so much difference of opinion and religion in our world?

Because we all have differing opinions on how religion and politics are supposed to be done. 

Life itself is a differing of opinion. Between heartbeats your body could die, but God chooses for each of us to live our lives until He brings us to the end of our days. Even when we think that our life should be ending or that the world would be better off without us, God may have a different idea about that. Which is why some of us live through accidents and diseases that should have taken our life, but God had a different idea or purpose for us.

My purpose is to be a pastor or preacher, and whether it is online or at a physical church that is what I will do until God says otherwise. Division in life between spouses or family members can cause terrible rifts between family and good friends. Sometimes those rifts are permanent and sometimes they aren’t unless you allow them to be. Of course, God also has some input in those relationships too.

Make sure that your life doesn’t have too many divisions in it because one there is a divide, sometimes you can’t put it back together if it is split too far apart. Mend as many of those as you can so that when your time comes, your family can celebrate your life together even when your life has ended here.

Which way will you go?

highway2heavenhellHave you considered this question? Many of us do when we are faced with a choice, whether it is a fork in the road or even a religious decision. So…which one do you take? Will you follow the Living Word, Jesus the Christ, and live forever in Heaven with Him? Will you decide to fool yourself into believing that you know the way to Heaven and salvation? Or maybe you will follow another religion or cult and see if their path might take you to eternity?

Consider that eternity is a very long, long time. Don’t you want to base your decision on more than a “might” or a “maybe”? Think about walking across a frozen lake. If there is a nice dusting of snow on it, you have no idea how thick the ice is. Would you take the chance of walking out onto a frozen lake like this? This is the same chance that you are taking when you haven’t given your heart to Jesus. Jonathan Edwards said that your life hangs by a thread of grace from God, above a lake of fire which is hell itself until you have given your heart to Jesus.

Life is short and regardless of how long you live, our lives are incredibly short compared to eternity! So consider how much Jesus spoke about those who fall short of Heaven, those who haven’t accepted Him as their Savior! The punishment would last forever in hades or hell whatever you want to call it. The problem is that many people think that God sends you to hell and that could not be further from the truth.

Each of us has a decision to make about our eternity and it is that decision which determines your eternal home. I don’t mean to say that you choose to be saved or not, but we do choose whether we will respond to the Spirit’s call when we feel it compelling us to ask Jesus into our lives! Some people will gladly jump at the chance and almost run down the aisle to accept Jesus, and some will put their fingerprints in the back of the pew trying NOT to accept Him.

This is the decision that is so important in life. Little children can understand it but adults try to rationalize it and figure everything out before accepting Jesus. We make this decision far more complicated than it should be when we are adults and we feel Jesus calling to us! So how are we to get past all of this so-called “logical” thinking? The easiest way that I know is to seek Him out.

What do you mean by that?

I mean when you have felt the Spirit prompting you to accept Jesus and you’re not sure, get into the Bible and learn about Him. Seek His voice and all of the information that you can find about Him in the gospels, pray about it and ask Him to help you learn more about this salvation thing! At this point, Satan will try to get your attention away from Jesus and point you toward something fun and exciting, something to distract you from seeking Him.

Unfortunately, this is the point where many people will follow those exciting activities and leave the Word of God on the shelf. Sometimes they don’t ever come back to it, and sometimes they come back to it much later than they should’ve. God can still use your life no matter what stage of life you may be in, but He could have been there to help you through many of life’s problems if you had given your heart to Him earlier.

Don’t put off living your life with Christ as your friend and your Savior. You don’t know if you will have tomorrow because nobody does. We have today and even our minutes and hours are governed by God and He knows how many that you have left….you don’t!

David had days like this…

Psalm 41 nots in your life

The Psalmist in Sickness Complains of Enemies and False Friends.
For the choir director. A Psalm of David.

 

 

 

41 How blessed is he who considers the helpless;
The Lord will deliver him in a day of trouble.
2 The Lord will protect him and keep him alive,
And he shall be called blessed upon the earth;
And do not give him over to the desire of his enemies.
3 The Lord will sustain him upon his sickbed;
In his illness, You restore him to health.
4 As for me, I said, “O Lord, be gracious to me;
Heal my soul, for I have sinned against You.”
5 My enemies speak evil against me,
“When will he die, and his name perish?”
6 And when he comes to see me, he speaks falsehood;
His heart gathers wickedness to itself;
When he goes outside, he tells it.
7 All who hate me whisper together against me;
Against me they devise my hurt, saying,
8 “A wicked thing is poured out upon him,
That when he lies down, he will not rise up again.”
9 Even my close friend in whom I trusted,
Who ate my bread,
Has lifted up his heel against me.
10 But You, O Lord, be gracious to me and raise me up,
That I may repay them.
11 By this I know that You are pleased with me,
Because my enemy does not shout in triumph over me.
12 As for me, You uphold me in my integrity,
And You set me in Your presence forever.
13 Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel,
From everlasting to everlasting.
Amen and Amen.

I am still feeling this today, even after nearly two weeks. I have apologized, yet nobody has acknowledged it nor have they accepted that apology. I can’t fix my frustration nor may depression from this. I seek out a clear conscience but nobody seems to be willing to accept my repentance except God. I am not seeking to destroy a church, nor have I called for anyone to be condemned to hell, yet I am accused of both. Honestly, I feel as if I should just take my own life, even though that is totally against everything in God’s Word. It would hurt my family and my loved ones in the church….so what am I to do?

Do you know Him?

Our Savior, Jesus, the Son of God is the Him of which I speak. He shed His divinity to come to Earth, be born of a woman, live the life of a man of Jewish descent, perfectly fulfilling the Law (which no normal human could do), teach a group of disciples so that they could carry His teachings to all parts of the world, died on a cross on the day of Passover and then rose again on the third day!

john_3_16_17_scripture_memory_card-raf7013e639264b87b918bea9971565b3_vgbaq_8byvr_540Yes, a long sentence to tell of the life of Jesus the Christ. A short version of His life, death and resurrection, but a story which has significance for so many around the world! Some of whom believe that He is our Savior and Lord, some  do not believe He was anything other than a prophet.

Do you know Him? You can get to know Him if you will believe in Him and follow Him. Learn about Him through reading of the New Testament and do the things which His disciples did…tell others what He has done for you!

 

What identity do you have?

In America and in the rest of the world, people tend toward identifying themselves either by their occupation or by their “lifestyle” choice or choices. So, what kind of identity do you have? Is it one that you would be proud to show others or is it one that is looked down upon because it hinges on your beliefs rather than your lifestyle?

Some people hang their life, their identity on their occupation. Some do so to the point of obsession and it is so ingrained within them until when they retire…they die. Because they don’t know what they are or who they can claim to be when they let go of their occupation. Then you also have people who claim to be molded into a lifestyle based upon their preference for a sexual partner. Huh?

Sex doesn’t govern nor determine who or what you are? Neither does your job or occupation! God placed us here for one purpose and that is to bring glory and honor to Him in everything that we do! Sex was given to us as a means of pleasure but also of procreation and deciding to be with someone of the same sex as yourself doesn’t allow for creating another person! Your choice of “partner” doesn’t dictate your life or your lifestyle any more than your hairstyle would.

God loves us but we should not be defined by our sinful choices in life, no matter what those choices might be. Jesus died for each person alive and those to come. He didn’t die for a murderer or a fornicator or even a lawyer or a cowboy! He died for you! He paid the penalty for your life’s choices, your sins, your weaknesses so that you could gain His righteousness and be forgiven of those sins!

Life choices, whether they are good or bad, do not place you into a certain slot in life. What you do about those choices by choosing to follow Jesus or not determines your outcome in life or rather at the end of your life. Since this life is the “training ground” for eternity, we should be searching for our real and actual Savior in this life. Not fitting our daily lives into a mold or behavior that we feel is right for us, but seeking His life and His Kingdom so that we can be right in His sight one day.

By following your own choices and feelings in this life and letting those choices shape your life rather than searching for the Savior and Creator Who can give your life a real purpose and meaning, you are missing out on so much more than you realize. Sports and horses or Facebook and Twitter are distractions just like Pokemon and other games which take your mind away from meaningful pursuits like getting to know Jesus!

I know, Jesus is boring and bland and nobody wants to learn about Him much less follow Him daily. But consider this: what will your life’s interests do for you in eternity? Our lives are pitifully small in length in comparison to eternity, so if your interests and your passion in this life doesn’t involve knowing and getting to know Jesus then what will your eternity look like?BreadofLife

Something to think about before next Sunday’s sermon.

Understanding your role

I did a sermon on the first chapter of James last week which I will break up into 2 sections. One will be here, which will be about half of the sermon, since it is a bit long. The second part will be at my other site, thelivingmessage.com. I pray that those of you who read this will take the lessons of it in stride because it has much to say about how we are supposed to live as Christians.

Faith responds with practical godliness under testing (1:1-27).

James uses the description of himself as a servant or in some other translations “a bond servant” of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ to show that he willingly and lovingly served. He could’ve claimed status since he was the Lord’s half-brother, according to history. But, he didn’t. A bond servant serves out of love not because of being bound. This is the service that we should be giving unto Jesus and to our faith!

Your faith and your Christian life is no good if the people that you are around can’t tell that anything has changed in your life. Testing is like polishing a car or a piece of jewelry, it needs to be done from time to time so that your life reflects Jesus more than it does yourself. Sometimes the testing or pruning in your life may not be very enjoyable, I mean look at Job! In the first chapter of Job, God actually brags to Satan about him. Yet, when Satan challenges God on this he is given permission to do anything he wishes EXCEPT take his life.

Will we be tested quite that hard? It is possible, I mean when you are given a diagnosis of cancer or some other disease which can kill you, that is pretty hard testing. Sometimes the test is just getting through one day at a time, getting past the treatments and the medicine and the side effects of that. Lean on God’s strength when yours fails you and He won’t let you down. Because, James used the word “when” to say that we will go through testing because we are His servants in this world and this world hates Him.

A. Faith responds with joy when it faces testing (1:2-4).

This one is tough, especially when you may not be in the midst of testing right now. But, if you ever have been I am sure it didn’t seem like a joyful time. Our joy comes from knowing that Jesus is also God and He won’t let you down, no matter what. “Joy comes in the morning” is something which I turn to almost every day when my legs and hips hurt and when my spine feels like it won’t flex at all. (Psalm 30:5)

God is there with you in your pain and in the joyful times. He is near when tragedy strikes and when a child is born. In all things give thanks that He loves you and is working the best out in your life so that others will see Him in your life! Trials will cause you to develop patience and endurance in Him, if you will stay close to Jesus during your trials. Don’t think or even consider that your strength is enough to get you through any trial, regardless of the hardness of the trial, because if you do Satan can make the trial hard enough to make you look to Him even though he isn’t trying to turn you toward Jesus our Lord.

B. Faith seeks God for wisdom in times of testing (1:5-8).

In our trials, whatever they may be, we truly should seek God’s wisdom during these times. Trying to lean on your own understanding and your own wisdom will bring more problems and even harder testing because you think that you can get through without God! God’s Word contains all of the wisdom that you need to get through trials. Prayer and fasting can increase your faith to bring you even closer to God and His Wisdom. Even Jesus said that “when ye fast”, it was not a command but He knew that even in our time, there will be days and problems which require fasting to bring the solution to our knowledge from God!

Alternate beliefs, really?

You may wonder why I didn’t put a subject behind that but there is a reason. It is because we are giving legitimacy to many religions and beliefs when we shouldn’t be! There are too many subjects which would fit in that title. What are they? Dowsing, pyramid energy, mediums who claim to be using “angel cards”, ouija, etc.; all of these and more are part of the occult and people shouldn’t be consulting with them, but they are.

Giving these “optional” beliefs legitimate status doesn’t help us to get the message out into the world that Jesus is the way to salvation, not “alternate religions”. There are so many different beliefs in the world until it is hard to understand just why there are so many. Satan has been working very hard to give people an alternate viewpoint which can be molded into a new religion or faith. It seems that today it is so easy to put your faith in almost anything besides God and Jesus!

separatechurchesWe talk about religion and being religious as if that covers all of Christianity but you can be religious about anything. Just because someone seems to be religious doesn’t mean that they are a Christian. They could be religious about any one of the hundreds of different religions out there, you could even be a religious atheist! My point is this: don’t give religions other than Christianity a legitimate foothold!

I know, I am not being inclusive of all people and their beliefs and I will own that. What I am trying to get people to think about here is ETERNITY!! There is only one God and Jesus the Christ Who can grant you access to eternity, or at least one that you would enjoy living in! The Bible states it plainly that Jesus is the only way to Heaven, all other paths, even though they may be morally good, will lead you elsewhere for eternity.

Some faiths don’t believe in eternal punishment like the lake of fire foretold in Revelation. But, if God says that is where you will be and He doesn’t lie, then that is where your choices will take you! Seek out Jesus and His gospel, believe in Him and repent of your sinful ways and then follow Him, reading His Word and praying for strength each day because it is through Him that we are given eternal life and forgiveness.