God wins!

There are many people who are saying that Christianity is losing ground to new religions and to old ones that are seeing new converts. The “falling away” actually hasn’t happened yet, it may be beginning but there is more to come. Why would I say this on a blog which usually expounds on God’s Word and His way to salvation? Because it is in His Word that we find out about it in the first place.

There are many temptations and other religions which will entice people away from Christianity and it seems that many are “taking the bait” today. The problem with this is eternal and many of them don’t realize this, or they don’t care. Consider for a moment that there is an eternity waiting for you on the other side of death. Where will you spend it?

God cares about all of you, whether you are a Christian believer or not. This is why Jesus was sent to fulfill the purpose of God when He gave Himself as the ransom for our sin debts! The price for ALL of us, no matter who or where you are or what you may have done in your life HAS BEEN PAID! Jesus paid it in full on the cross!

Nothing that you or I can do will aid in our salvation or our entrance into Heaven, yet many seem to think that we should “help” God save us in some way. Do you really think that the Creator of all things NEEDS our help? That would be like asking an ant to help build your house, it would be of no use whatsoever and neither can we. Even if the ant could understand you and attempted to help, what could it do in the building of your house? Not much at all, if anything.

That is how we are in “helping” God…we can’t and He doesn’t need us to do so. Consider standing before a gigantic being, one that doesn’t need you and could crush you easily. If there was a stone about eight feet in diameter and two feet thick which needed to be moved, could you do it on your own? Of course not, but the being which is standing next to you would have no trouble at all moving this stone and he needs no help from you. I am not speaking of a giant such as Goliath from the story of David, I am talking about one who is about twenty or thirty feet tall, that stone would be like a rock to for him.

In other words, your entrance into Heaven is already paid for, the place that you could live forever is already furnished and waiting and all that you have to do is realize that you need Jesus in your life. So, seek Him out and ask Him to come into your heart and save you from an eternity without Him. Think about it from our world’s viewpoint: if you found out that you had an account with ten million dollars in it and a very nice house already furnished with three cars in the garage which were your dream cars and all you had to do was ask for it and accept it…would you? Of course you would!

The only difference between the life that you would have in my last illustration and the one where you accept Jesus as your Savior is that eternal life begins when this life ends. You won’t be able to show your mansion to anyone unless they are saved too. The biggest difference from my point of view is that the money, the house and the cars are all temporary because as soon as you take possession of them, that night you will die.

I’ll get back to you…

How would this attitude feel if you had to put up with it every week or so? It is amazing that God’s patience with us has lasted so long. Especially in light of the fact that the world that He created didn’t last as long before the flood as it has since Jesus’ resurrection! People go to church or to synagogue each week and then go home and act as if they never met the Creator!

While it is true that we don’t meet Him face to face in our religious meetings each week, we are supposed to be seeking Him out to find out Who He really is and get to know Him better. But…do you? We leave our worship services with a vague notion of Who He is or Who Jesus is IF our teacher or preacher is teaching from God’s Word. It seems that many of us go out the door and mostly forget what we have heard or what we have read about in our Bibles!

It is as if the “meeting” that we attend each week is just a meeting of other people who are religious about meeting at this place and time. It seems that our reason for going to church is to be seen by others and not to learn about why we come to worship or even Who it is that we are coming to worship! We pray and sing a few songs and listen to our teacher/preacher telling us stories from his perspective or sometimes from the Bible and then we go home thinking that we have been taught what we need to know.

So let me ask you this: What did you learn about Jesus on Sunday? Do you remember what the sermon was about or the scripture that it was taught from? Did you even tell anyone about what you learned at church and invite them to come and hear about the man, Jesus, who is the Savior of us all?

Some of you did, many more who attended church this past weekend did not. Some even sat with an earphone from your iPod or iPhone stuck in your ear or you just tuned the sermon completely out.

“I’ll get back to you” is a phrase that is used in many areas of life but it shouldn’t be used when you are speaking to or learning from God and His Word! Why? Because you might not get back. The sinner’s prayer is easy to say but it has to come from a sincerely broken heart, one that knows that it is a sinner and that it has sinned and that it needs God, it needs Jesus! You can recite it just as many of us learned to do with the “Pledge of Allegiance” when we were young, although they don’t do that anymore because they don’t want to offend anyone.

The sinner’s prayer goes something like this:

Jesus, I know that you are Lord of Heaven and Earth. I know that you came here to die for my sins, and you proved yourself as the Son of God by rising from the dead after being crucified. I am a sinner and I need You for my redemption. Jesus, I accept you into my life and ask for your forgiveness for me.  Amen.

That is all it takes. If you know that you need Him don’t “get back to Him”, ask Him to come into your heart and He will be there forever.

Life and time

Each of us is given these from the moment we are born. How much of either we will enjoy is up to God. Life is our daily walk through our time here, sometimes it is easy, sometimes it is hard, at other times it is a blend of the two whether we enjoy it or not.

Why we live and learn the way we do is a question for God alone, not the doctors or even your parents. Life teaches us wisdom with enough time. Sometimes we learn from it and sometimes we need a refresher, but eventually we do get it.

Why am I writing a short piece on this topic today? I just felt reflective this morning, so feel free to use these words to inspire your own journey, your own learning. If, that is, you can spare the time to learn about Life.

The Life which I speak of here is the giver and sustainer of Life, Jesus Christ. Your life and mine depend upon Him or at least they should. Give Him a bit of your day each day and you will learn of the ways that He can teach you and the wisdom contained within His Words in the Bible. Whether you believe in Him or not, He is the One Who woke you this morning, gives you the strength to go through your day and the ability to interact with your world.

No part of our world or the universe could exist without Him, without His strength and His guidance because it is all under His direction and control! He is the Creator and sustainer of it all. Look up the protein which exists in your cells which is the “glue” which holds them together, it is called laminin and here is a picture of it.

I knowlaminin.jpg that it looks like a cross, but I think that He designed it just that way so that scientists will see His hand in our world and in each one of us. God loves each of us enough that we will never understand His love until we are in His Presence. There is no evolutionary reason that this molecule, this protein should look this way. It is this way because He designed it this way!

Your life and mine as well as the time that we have to enjoy it are given to each of us in order to allow us the opportunity to learn about Him and that we truly need Him. You can ignore Him if you wish, you can say that He is not real and that there is no hell or Heaven. New age believers think this way and they think that they are god but they are going to find Someone different when their life ends.

Seek Jesus out while you have the time to do so, because it is only while you live that you are given the chance to ask Him into your life. Once this life…this time is over, there is no second chance.

Suffering..

God, unlike some of the sermons that are heard and preached, doesn’t allow you to suffer. Yes, He is in control. Yes, He told Satan to test Job and Peter but His Spirit was there with them even through all that they went through. God gave them the strength to go through what they had to suffer but He did NOT cause their suffering. God’s only reason behind the testing was to prove to Satan the faith that His servant, Job, had in Him.

We are not made to suffer by a loving God. Jesus did not make Peter suffer, though He did tell Peter that Satan had asked to “sift him as wheat“. He also told Peter that He had prayed for his strength to stand against his sifting. Peter failed because he denied Jesus three times, though truthfully Jesus had also told Peter ahead of time that he would do this as well. Our God and our Lord know us better than we know ourselves, we may think our faith is strong only to find that is not the case in the time that we face a trial.

The most positive point that I can give you here is that after Jesus was resurrected, He forgave and restored Peter. Afterward, Peter became one of the most faithful of His disciples.

We can too! IF we will learn to give our hearts and our faith to God completely, unashamedly and without reserve! This kind of commitment is not impossible, couples who are committed to each other in marriage do it. So, why can’t we give this kind of service and commitment to our Lord and Savior when He gave His life for us?

True, He knew that He could take His life up again but His human body still had to endure the suffering and the pain of the scourging and the cross! That part of Him that was God, had to endure something worse…the separation from His Father during the time on the cross! Something which He had never had to experience from eternity past! A suffering that we, as Christians, won’t have to endure. Those who refuse to believe in Him and live their lives for Him will endure that separation forever, tormented by the fact that their belief in Jesus could’ve saved them from it.

That is the punishment of hell. Yes, there may be a lake of fire. It is mentioned in Scripture, weeping and gnashing of teeth are also mentioned. The torment most grievous will be the separation from God and everything that is good and light and cool. Consider this, search the Bible for your answers, seek out Jesus while you still draw breath because when you die…there are no do-overs, no second chances, no re-spawn to life! That’s it!

What will you do with your life? What are you expecting in eternity? Not believing in eternity now will not change the fact that God says there is an eternity after this life. Make sure of yours while you can.

Blessing and favor

Life that we live never really seems to be one of blessing and favor, yet we can’t see it. Why? It is because few people can discern which is the blessing and favor and the trials that are required in your life to get to that point. No, I am not saying that you have to suffer to be blessed, but sometimes we feel that way because we thought we had the best. The best house or car or something that is accepted by the world as a blessing, yet when we lose it or it is taken from us we feel that we are being put through all sorts of trials and trouble.

If you will recognize that God gives blessings to those who joyfully recognize the One who can provide greater blessings and more than you could have expected. God is the Creator of the whole universe! There are more gold molecules in space than we could use in this world and God owns ALL of it! Don’t you think He could provide even a little for you and even a little from God is more than we know what to do with!

God can take five loaves of bread and two fish and feed 5,000 men not including the women and children, approximately fifteen thousand people if they had only one child each. Since He can do that, don’t you think that your tithe or offering given in joy and with faith in Him can multiply into more than you could ever need to accomplish His purposes in your life and ministry? He can do it, if you are willing and if you are not looking for a hand-out but with intentions grounded in the Word of God to do greater things than you could before!

Your best, meaning your big house or your Mercedes, is nothing compared to God’s best for you. A big house or a fancy car are things which the world recognizes as markers of a successful life, but that is not the way that God sees success. He sees success as helping those in need, giving to those who don’t have enough, making sure that someone who has very little has enough to live without worry. In other words, God wants you to be blessed so you can bless others…not just buy stuff for yourself.

Beginning again

Every new year it seems that everyone makes all sorts of “resolutions” to do this or lose that or make more money or spend more time with their family. Why can’t we just resolve to do these things without the change of year? We usually spend time with family and friends during the year anyway, why not make that time into quality time? The kind of time which creates memories that last a lifetime.

Making more money or losing a few inches or pounds is a temporary thing and they really don’t last anyway. Money doesn’t make your life better, only more complicated. Particularly if you make a good deal more than you have in the past. Like the winners of a lottery, a windfall of cash is great for a while but unless you are disciplined about the use of it and the saving of it, the windfall won’t last very long.

The only windfall that we all have access to, that can never be lost or taken away, is salvation through Jesus Christ. All that you have to do to have this is to believe that He died for you and your sins, ask His forgiveness and ask Him to change you into the person that you should be. The rewards may not come in this life while you are here, but you will have a home in eternity and that is a very long time.

The beginning of eternity starts when this life ends, one way or another.

Two roads

In life, there are two roads which seem to be heading to the same place. One of them is much easier and wider because it gets far more traffic. It is worn down and has few rocks and no weeds growing in it or around it. There are many rest stops all along this road which will allow you to sit back and take life easy until you get your bearings again. There are also many places to be refreshed and get a bite to eat all along this road. All of these attractions are beautiful and bright and inviting, never judgmental and with very few, if any, rules that you would find offensive regardless of your lifestyle preferences.

Most of these places along this highway will cater to your every whim and many will provide you with nearly everything that you need to “drown your sorrows” or numb the pain. Actually it looks an awful lot like the strip in Las Vegas except that this strip goes all the way to the end of your life and every other person’s life who finds themselves walking on this pathway. Problems don’t usually happen to people on this road, this pathway, until you get close to the end of your life. It doesn’t really matter what age that may come because the ones running all of the entertainment places also have an intimate knowledge into your life.

One thing that will not be found on this road, at least not an abundance of them, is places of worship. Oh, there are places where you can worship any number of gods or deities that you have encountered along the way but there will be very few churches. They are off the road so you have to get off the path and get on a side road or a trail that goes to them intentionally. Have you ever been on this road? Do you know people on this road today?

The road that I am speaking of leads to nowhere really. It goes to a place of darkness and despair, where there is no light, no water, no Life at all. But while you are on that road, it looks like the most lively and best path that you could take…until you come to the end of your life. Whether you end your life in suicide or at a young age or if you live to be 100, this road takes a sharp turn away from the lively lights and easy feeling. This road leads to hell!

If you happen to get drawn onto a path that leads to a church, it may have obstacles and thistles along the way but the love that you feel when you get there is like nothing on the other road. God’s love is much different from the pleasures that were found on the easy road, the wide road. God loves you with a love that is True and Real and it comes from His Heart, the Creator Himself. He has loved you since the beginning. Not just the beginning of time, but even before then. If you stay long enough and listen to the Word preached at this church, you might decide that you want to follow Jesus the rest of the way.

The road which leads away from the church is still your life, but it is a new life of following Christ. This road is much narrower than the other road and it isn’t as flashy. There is much less traffic and a lot fewer people on this road. You will also notice that it isn’t as easy as the other road to walk on because there will be places which will tempt you to get off of this path. You may meet people who tell you they have found a better way to get where you are going, but they are just taking you back to the other road by a different path. The only common thing that this road has is churches and you will find them all along the way.

The real difference between these two roads is their destination. The broad, easy pathway leads to an eternity of misery, pain and suffering because you are outside the  Love of God and in outer darkness and hell. The narrow path with its winding way and fewer attractions leads to Life everlasting with Jesus in Heaven. There will be no pain or suffering there, no tears or sorrow either. Eternity there will be a continuous joy and full of the Love of God. So….which road will you choose?

You are valuable!

Our Savior, Jesus Christ, said “What does it profit a man to gain the whole world and lose his soul?” I used to wonder what in the world He was speaking of…and now I know. Think of it this way if you can, picture all of the wealth of the entire world! The oil fields, all of the gold and platinum and silver, all of the diamonds and emeralds and rubies and sapphires that you can imagine, all of the real estate and mansions of every nation on Earth…and God considers your soul worth MORE than all of that. Why?

Because, NONE of that wealth will buy your way into Heaven! It is worthless compared to the worth of your soul…just yours! There are billions of people on Earth and God considers just one worth more than the entire wealth of the world! That is why He sent Jesus to die for us, all of us, but He would’ve sent Him even if there was only one more person who would accept Him. Isn’t that AWESOME!!!

God loves you and me and every person on Earth. He doesn’t love the sins that we commit though like using His name as a cuss word or using drugs or alcohol in an abusive way. There are many more sins than this but you know what I’m talking about. You are loved and valued by the Creator and He extends His grace and His love to you every day. You have a chance to accept Jesus as your Savior, while you live here, the problem is that many people think that they have plenty of time to “get right with God”.

That is a lie from Satan! You may be in a wreck tomorrow. You may have a heart attack tonight or tomorrow. You can’t “get right” after you die! The decision is yours but it has to be made as soon as possible! Then, read the Bible and study it because it has instructions for your life and how to live it! Trust in Jesus and His atonement for you because that is all that is required. Baptism is good, confessing your sins is good, but giving your heart to Jesus and believing in Him is what opens the door. The thief on the cross couldn’t get baptized and he didn’t have a chance to witness to anyone or confess his sins…all he did was believe that Jesus was Who He claimed to be, and Jesus said that he would be with Him in Paradise today!

God doesn’t want you to spend one day in hell, but Satan does because he wants to take you away from God’s presence! Life is only in the Prince of Peace and the King of Kings, Jesus the Son of God! Ask Him into your life today!

Have you considered…eternity?

Your life here is not all that there is, we were created to have an eternity to go into after this life, but many people don’t consider that to be truth. Why? Because, they can’t see any of it or any of the rewards and work to be done for God’s Kingdom in it now! There are many teachers today on the Internet, in pulpits, on television who are teaching their “version of the gospel”, which Satan does as well. He has had many years to perfect his delivery of his gospel and just as he did when he tempted Jesus, he takes scripture from the Bible and either leaves a portion out or takes it out of context. Some preachers today do that too.

Their teaching is full of partial scriptures, bits and pieces, which don’t really make much Biblical sense unless they are taught in context with the scripture or passage or paragraph that they began in. A partial truth, leaving out a word or taking Scripture out of context, is a lie! A lie that sounds like it came from God’s Word, and it did but without the text around that verse, it can be made to say almost anything. This is how Satan used scripture, by picking a verse and using it to make his point…not God’s point.

Today, not just in America but all over the world, people are being killed or put in to prison for their belief in Jesus. The problem with this is that Jesus is the only solution to our problems, here and now and into eternity! Put down your “self”, bury him or her and take up the cross of Jesus! What does that mean? It means to put others ahead of you, to be kind to one another, to love one another with an unselfish love. The kind that doesn’t say, “what’s in it for me?”!!

Living this way is following the teachings found all through the Bible, not just what Jesus taught. God has always had the answer for our lives, we are just too stubborn to listen or even look for it in His Word! Then, sometimes, when we do find the answer that we were looking for we claim it as our answer not that it came from God. We don’t give Him the credit or the glory for what we find. This is exactly what most “self-help” books do, maybe not word for word because that is plagiarism, but the advice you see in them is exactly the advice you can find in the Bible.

Eternity is going to be there after this life, but it is the experience in eternity that people should be working now to ensure. If you follow your own ways or the ways of the world, and reject any or all of the teachings found in the Bible, then your eternity is going to be very different from a Christian’s eternity.

I know, many of you will say that I am being self-righteous about Christianity but I am not. My righteousness alone is not enough and yours isn’t either, as a Christian I claim the atonement and the righteousness of Jesus that He paid for on the cross! It was the “self-righteous” priests who had Him executed because they felt that they were going to lose their “position” with the people.

Before too long it is going to be more persecution, not just in America but all over the world and it will be against Christians just as it is in Muslim countries now. For many people the prospect of persecution will be enough to keep them from becoming a Christian. For the immediate future, I understand that, but think of your eternity. Once this life is over, however the end comes, you will be faced with that. Eternal unity with God and many friends in Heaven or separation from God in a place of torment and misery forever. Which would you rather endure since while you still live, you do have a choice?

What do you believe?

Have you tried many different religions and not yet found the one that you are comfortable with? Have you gone to classes in yoga and felt strange afterward? Today, there are many, many different religions and belief systems which you can try out for a while and many of them actually seem to be saying the same thing, for the most part. Which is why, in my opinion, people seem so confused about religion and its place in our life. Why is it so important? Why is religion or any belief system important to us? Because God created us to need something or Someone in this way.

We tend to feel it as an empty place or feeling like something is missing, but we don’t really know what is missing or why we feel this way. I noticed it when I was a teenager and I had no idea what was missing. I thought at the time it was because my parents were divorced when I was really young but that wasn’t it. It took many years for me to really find out what I needed or rather Who I needed. Even when you find out about God and Jesus and try to put them in that place, you eventually realize that you can’t put them there.

It has to be a mutual call, a knock on your heart’s door so to speak. Then you can ask Jesus to come in and change your life and your heart. Once you do that, you will find that empty place is not empty anymore. If you were sincere in your decision to ask Jesus into your life then you will always have Him there regardless of where you are or what may be happening. God loves you and He wants you to be His representative to the world. All that you have to do is ask Him into your heart and ask His forgiveness for your life before He came into it.

The only rules that He asks you to follow is to follow Jesus in obedience by telling others about Him and what He has done for you and your life. There is no war to be fought, no people to be conquered, and He doesn’t force people to worship Him because forced worship isn’t real worship, because you can force someone to love you and that is what worship is! God does love you deeper and more completely than anyone and all that He asks is for you to return His love willingly.

Any relationship is this way, if it is based on true love, but some people think that God won’t love them unless they love Him first. That is backward because God loved ALL of us before He made this world that we live on, all that He expects is to be loved in return for the grace and mercy that we have been given! When we love Him in return it is because we were loved first!

Seek Him out in the Bible and learn of His ways because He loved the world and all of His creation before any of us were ever created or born into it.