So much trouble…

On many days during life, we think we are having a lot of troubles when we really aren’t. When you look at the actual news in the world, not what is reported by our media outlets, you will find that there are many places and people who are having a much worse day than you are. Some have lost homes or family members, some are living with terrible diseases like cancer or in some cases, diabetes or MS. There are others in countries where civil war is going on or other conflicts which are devastating lives and economies.

Trouble seems to be the default condition in our world regardless of the country where you may live. So, why are we having all of this happening in our lives? Mainly it is because of the time in which we are living. We have been told in God’s Word that the world around us would resemble the world in Noah’s day, just before the flood happened, and it would be this way before Jesus’ return. I am not speaking of His physical return to the Earth, not yet. I am speaking of the time just before He comes to take His people home.

I know that many don’t think about the trouble in life. Some people seem to have it made, but that condition is not the default condition even in America. Of course, much of the world thinks that every person here is rich and when compared to the poverty in some countries we may be well off, but not rich by any definition. God does bless us by our service to His Kingdom, although not in the way that many in the prosperity movement try to convince people about.

Faith is better expressed by those who feel the need for God’s provision in their life and when you have an abundance of money you don’t feel that need much at all. This is why Jesus told His disciples that it “is hard for a rich man to enter Heaven“.  It is not impossible but those who don’t have daily needs met put more faith and have more dependence on God than someone who can get what they want or need easily.

God love all of us, but He doesn’t like the sinful lives which many of us insist on living in. I implore those who read this to consider giving their heart to Jesus because when this life is over, your choice has been made.

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Do you hear what I hear?

This is part of a wonderful song for Christmas which I have loved for years. These days, there isn’t much that you hear about Christ on a daily basis, sometimes even a weekly one. People don’t want to hear the Truth of God’s Word unless they are in need of God’s help. The problem with this is that God is not a genie! We are not supposed to treat our relationship with Jesus as one where we seek His help when we need it, but when things are going well we don’t want Him around!

God loves each one of us far more than we can even understand, and yet we don’t seem to give that love back to Him. Jesus came to Earth as a baby, born to a virgin long ago. He also came to pay the price for ALL of our sins and be our Savior if we will only believe in Him. So…what is the problem that many of us seem to have with Jesus? Is it that He was born Jewish? He preached long ago and we don’t think that His message is relevant today? Could it be that we don’t want to offend anyone with our faith so we don’t tell anyone about Him or our belief in Him?

The message and the lessons which Jesus taught have more to do with today than at any time before now! We are to love each other as we are loved! Why can’t we look past our perceived differences in skin color and culture and just see another person in need of Jesus? Why is it so hard to get past our genetic differences and just see the similarities?

I mean, we all have two arms and legs, most of us have hair (some more, some less), all of us have two ears, two eyes, and one mouth (even if that last one gets us into more trouble than it should)! That is why the Bible says that we should be quick to listen and slow to speak.

Quick2Listen

It doesn’t matter what you are speaking about or who you may be listening to, make sure to measure your words before you speak and listen to what is being said, carefully seeking the truth in what you are hearing. As one wise person said, “Taste your words before you spit them out”; in that way, you will know if they are good or not. People will think you are wise or smart depending on your speech. If your speech is full of big words but not much substance then you will seem to be smart but like a politician you aren’t saying much at all.

Consider your words and your speech because God hears every word, whether you are His or not.

The blood of Jesus

1 Peter 1:13-21
13 Therefore, gird your minds for action, keep sober in spirit, fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.

14 As obedient children, do not be conformed to the former lusts which were yours in your ignorance, 15 but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior; 16 because it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.”

17 And if you address as Father, the One who impartially judges according to each man’s work, conduct yourselves in fear during the time of your stay upon earth; 18 knowing that you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers, 19 but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ. 20 For He was foreknown before the foundation of the world, but has appeared in these last times for the sake of you 21 who through Him are believers in God, who raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God.

john_3_16_17_scripture_memory_card-raf7013e639264b87b918bea9971565b3_vgbaq_8byvr_540Sin deceives you because its roots are from the deceiver, Satan. Sinful actions can and will destroy your life in many ways and in the end of this life, it will bring eternal death which is eternal banishment from the presence of God.

The only way to save yourself from sin and the consequences of it is to believe in Jesus and the blood which He shed for us, each of us, on the cross. The Son of God gave His life for you and for me…He didn’t have to but He wanted to do it. Because He loved each of us far more and deeper than we can know or comprehend.

He redeemed us from sin through His blood shed on the cross for you! The only action needed on your part is belief in Him and the atonement bought by His blood.

Colossians 1:19-22 King James Version (KJV)

19 For it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell; 20 And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven. 21 And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled, 22 In the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight:

Do you understand what God has done for us? For you and for me? Each person who has ever lived in this world, before the Flood and up until now, is born with a natural bent toward sin! I mean you don’t have to teach anyone to lie and you know it as well as I do.

Tell a toddler not to do something or eat something and you can see their wheels turning trying to figure out how they can get away with doing exactly that! If you are able to catch them right after doing it, whatever it may be, ask them if they did what you told them not to do. Even with crumbs from those cookies on their clothes they will tell you no, they didn’t do that.

In life you see many people behaving exactly the same way, even if they are supposed to be grown-ups. Why is that? It is because until you have a changed heart through the Spirit of God living within you, you are a sinner from the day you are able to decide to do something which you were told not to do! God’s will for your life is to glorify Him in all that you do and the only way for us to do that is to believe in Jesus and the atonement that He bought for us and ask God’s forgiveness based upon that belief.

Now, many religions teach that you can work out your salvation by yourself but that is not true. If that were possible, Jesus died for nothing! No amount of gold or silver or any amount of good works that you or I do in this world can bring salvation to your soul, only belief in Jesus can do that and accepting His atonement for your sins. If you can’t or won’t do that, then you have condemned yourself to hell.

Please, don’t go there, because hell was not made for humanity at all. It was made to punish angels who rebelled against God’s rule and authority including Satan or Lucifer if you know him by that name. Because of deception and our own stubbornness, many people are going to hell and it won’t be a party or a friendly place to be for eternity at all.

Make sure of your salvation in Jesus soon before the church is taken from this Earth, because it is going to happen soon. Plan on being part of that company.

 

Time…

In every person’s life, no matter who you are, there is a certain amount of time. Only God knows our length of days in regards to our life, but when you and I wake up each day, each of us has 24 hours in that day, 1440 minutes or 86,400 seconds. We have an allotment of time given to each of us by our Creator, whether you believe in Him or not, when we are born. How we use that time and whether we use it selfishly or for Him is our choice.

What have you done with your 1,440 minutes today? A number of those were spent sleeping since our account resets itself at midnight, so depending upon how late you sleep or how early you get up determines how many of those minutes you have to do something with. There have been songs written about time and how it slips away from us or how we should be cherishing our time with those we love. What about the time which we have to serve God?

After you have given your heart to Jesus, your time becomes more useful in God’s economy and for His Kingdom. How many minutes have you given Him today? Did you thank Him for waking you up this morning? Did you thank Him for your breakfast and your other meals today? What about the safe trips that you have made around town or on the highway, did you thank Him for watching over you at those times? God loves you and He does watch over us each and every day, but do you think about Him or thank Him for the good things which happen in that day?

That is the part of life which I think is the most useful because when you live every day in a thankful mood toward God, you notice things which you really are thankful for. Getting up in the morning, getting around the house, going to the supermarket or to Walmart, and doing all of this in safety without incident, those are accomplishments which deserve thanks to the One Who gave you the ability to do them!

We all have time and the same amount of it each and every day that we live. There is no day which is too short nor a night too long because no matter where you live or the time zone that you live in, the day is still the same. Savings time or standard time, the day is still 24 hours long regardless of your feeling that you need more time to finish a task or not.

Give God the glory and the praise for the time that you have with family and friends because each minute which goes by is gone for good. You can’t get it back and you can’t add to your day tomorrow to make up for any time which you feel was lost today. Consider this when you think about how fast time goes by and the family which you have is growing up and will soon be off to college or a career. It goes by so fast and you can’t rewind time.

Are you persevering for Him?

Do you know the One Who saves unto eternity? Does He know you? Jesus is His name and He is our Savior and the only One Who can save you. Have you sought Him for your salvation? If you have not done this, then what is your life worth? Are you concerned for your eternity or do you believe that this life is all there is?

JesusLovesYouThe poor in spirit seek Him for their salvation and they do know Him because of the joy that He brings to them. Man-made gods and religions can’t do this. It doesn’t matter if your religion acknowledges God as Creator but that you recognize Jesus as His Son and your Savior! He loved each of us enough to come and give His human life away as a sacrifice which paid the debt for ALL of our sins, not just some people but all of the people on Earth.

Some religions say that God doesn’t care for us in that way, that He doesn’t love us at all. We are just His creation and after that He just sits and watches us kill each other to see who will be left. It is possible that a human god would do that. Satan would actually help us kill each other and does it quite regularly because he hates us. Because of Whose image we are created in.

God is not a figment of our mythology and our imagination and one day soon, He will prove it to the whole world. I don’t know when it will happen, but since God can’t lie and He said that He is coming back, and I believe Him. It is true that Christianity is only one of many religions and beliefs in our world today and many people talk badly about us because of our beliefs. It seems that nobody talks bad about any other religion, but if someone kneels in prayer or in any other way acknowledges that they believe in Jesus then it is offensive.

Jesus told His disciples that “the world hated Me so it will hate you” and we are seeing this more and more every day. It seems to be getting worse because you hear it more and more all the time, in one way or another. A lawsuit is filed because someone is expressing their faith by doing something or not doing something. A city is sued because of a monument which has the Ten Commandments or a Nativity scene at Christmas.

Our country came to be what it is because people were coming here to worship they way they wanted to in freedom. Yes we do have freedom OF religion because we don’t have a national religion. But it seems that today, Christian values and religious practice is being pushed and shoved aside because “it offends people”. If the Truth of God’s Word offends you, then go to a different church or don’t go to one at all! You don’t HAVE to read my blog here and if it offends you then go to another one that you like better!

God loves you anyway, whether you love Him or not. On the day that you leave this world and stand before Him, then you will know for sure which God is in control. It will be too late to believe at that point, but you will know.

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!

Life’s little obstacles

When you are walking barefoot, you feel every pebble no matter how small. That is what life is like when you are walking without Jesus as your guide. Every problem, every discomfort, everything gets in the way of your enjoyment. Of course, if you have never accepted Jesus, this actually feels like a normal day so it doesn’t really bother you much. You go around them, you ignore them and just move on…until you come up against one that is bigger than you can go around, then what?

It is true that many of our problems could be described as rocks and bumps in a path through this life, but then at times the pathway is almost blocked to the point of falling off on one side or another or maybe you will have to climb over this one. But…how? There aren’t any places to climb over or to put your hands and feet in order to climb over this problem, and it seems that it is on an incline and getting bigger. It may roll over you if you can’t get around or over it so now what do you do?

This is where you learn to depend upon Jesus and His atoning grace for you and your life. The obstacles which were in your way are nothing to our Creator and they can be overcome with His strength. The path becomes a bit smaller, narrower than it was before, but as long as you are following Jesus and depending upon Him, you can navigate it without difficulty. It won’t be easy because once you have given your life and heart to Him, Satan will begin to put more problems in your path.

I don’t say this to scare you away from being a Christian, just a heads-up so you won’t be blindsided by anything that may come your way. The problems that I speak of are not the kind that will kill you, because you belong to Jesus. They are temptations trying to bring you back to the life you led before. Sometimes, they are obstacles to your life with Christ or something that may keep you from fulfilling your ministry.

There are a number of little problems which Satan can magnify into larger problems, the point is that you have the power of Jesus the Christ on your side. He is the Living Word after all and the second person of the Trinity. He has already defeated Satan and the Holy Spirit is inside you, if you are a Christian. Being a Christian you are an adopted child of God, you have nothing to fear from Satan or any of the obstacles that he may place in your path.

God will give you the strength to get through these problems when they arise and He will be with you regardless of what they might be. Give Jesus a chance in your life, so you will have an eternity to praise Him and thank Him for all that He has done.