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.

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!

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!

 

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.

Peace on Earth….

Today, we don’t think it is possible but God is going to bring it to us soon. He is the only One Who can bring peace to us. We cannot do it ourselves. Peace is not possible by our strength or negotiations or our weapons. Peace comes from the Prince of Peace and only from Him.

Seek Him out, the Babe from Bethlehem, because He is your Savior and your Messiah! He is also our Shepherd toward eternity and the only way to have it. God loves us far more than we realize, because He sent His Son to pay our sin debts! Not just that of the disciples and the early church but the sins of those from Adam’s time forward until the end of days.

Jesus was the only One Who could pay that size of debt and He did it, and then rose to life again on the third day so that we could also rise to eternal life as long as we belong to Him and He belongs to each of us. How can we know that we are His?

By believing in His sacrifice for us and in what He accomplished for us, like a child. Take the Word of God as the Truth because it is! Don’t dispute it because He inspired those who wrote it down to write the words which He gave them. His Word is True, therefore His Son’s sacrifice and its atonement for you and me is true. Repent of your sinful ways, and believe!

Have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!