Pickin’ and choosin’

Religion is an easy thing in America. We have the freedom to pursue and
worship whoever or whatever we wish to or even to not worship
anything at all. Being religious is very easy and there are many
people who are very religious about their chosen religion, some even
to the point of being fanatical about it. So what is it about this
trend in America? Mainly it is because for the past fifty or sixty
years, we have been searchers and seekers. Not so much as seeking out
God and His ways, but seeking that which suits us the best in a
church or religion.
That is not such a bad thing because many times in this searching, people
will be called to faith in God and give their hearts to Jesus.
Although, some may not listen intently to the messages that are
presented to them and they want to pick and choose whatever they want
to believe. This is a dangerous way of doing things and for an
illustration of this I propose this:
A man was building a platform from pipes and boards so that he could have some
people singing and just presenting music for those who wanted to hear
it. He went through the hardware store and picked out the most shiny
pipes and bolts and nuts that he could find because they would look
good in the lights. He didn't pay any attention to the sizes that he
chose, just that they looked nice and shiny. When he got home to put
it together he found that he couldn't get anything to work very well
together because even though they were pretty and shiny, their sizes
didn't match well. A few were the same size and would go together,
but the next one in line would not. What went wrong?
Well, he had some that were quarter inch and some that were a half inch in
size, these were mixed and matched and he even had some bolts and
nuts that were in the same shape, being different sizes so that few
would work together. It doesn't work in construction and it works
even less efficiently with religious beliefs. 

Picking and choosing one or two verses from the Bible to believe and then
discarding much of the rest of it doesn't work, just as choosing
parts because they look good rather than because they fit together
doesn't work. Except, that is what many people seem to be doing
today. Why are people trying to “make their own god” as some
claim? Mainly because they don't like the message that they have
heard from the Bible or they don't want to be told that their
lifestyle is wrong or sinful.
God Himself is Holy and He won't allow an unclean sinner into Heaven
unless they have repented (turned away from) of their sins and the
lifestyle that went with them AND they have asked Jesus into their
life and their heart, allowing the Holy Spirit to change them
spiritually so that they can be a true Christian. Christianity is not
based on going to church at certain times or participating in rituals
once every month or every six months. You can go to church for a
century, every time the church has services, and if you haven't
accepted the call of Jesus in your heart and life then you haven't
changed much. You may know the Scriptures and have read the Bible
through and taught a class or two in that time, but if you haven't
given your life to Jesus then you aren't saved!
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Christians in the crosshairs

Some Muslims even expressed their sentiments to Christians in Baghdad at a Sunday service.

“You are the true original people here, and we are sorry for what has been done to you in the name of Islam,” whispered one Muslim woman to a Christian woman fighting away tears, according to The New York Times.

This was from an article on the forced evacuation of Mosul (Nineveh) in Iraq. For a so-called “religion of peace”, Islam is not being very peaceful at all, especially with the Christians who have inhabited this city for over one thousand years. Mosul has been a Christian dominated city for at least that long, according to the information that I have been able to find.

Here is another quote from the UK:

“What are the moderate Muslims saying?” the Lebanese Catholic Maronite Patriarch, Bechara Rai, asked acidly last week. “We do not hear the voices of those who denounce this.”

Indeed not. The Caliphate’s threat to the Christians – convert, be taxed or die – contradict, in the words of the Chaldean Patriarch, Archbishop Louis Sako,  “1,400 years of history and of the life of the Muslim world and of coexistence between different religions and different peoples”. Archbishop Sako spoke, too, this week of how Iraq itself had become a “humanitarian, cultural and historical catastrophe”. But he added that Christians in the region must remember that the Koran demands respect for minorities and that the Christian people must also remain respectful to Muslims and show “patience and endurance”. Which, I would have thought, might be turning the other saintly cheek a bit too far.

We, as Christians, should help those in need if we can. I am not sure if the help that we provide would reach the ones needing it though, so I am not sure what to do. All that I can do right now is to pray for them and I ask all of you who read this to do the same. It seems that the American government is not offering any sort of help for these, yet they are willing to help the oppressors of Israel. Of course in the media, Israel is the oppressor of the Palestinian people not the other way around. Israel has belonged to the Jewish people since at least four thousand years ago according to the covenant made with Abraham and God’s covenant cannot and will not be broken.

When you pray about the trouble in our world today, please include a prayer for those Christians being persecuted in Iraq and those in North Korea and China as well. Pray for Israel and for God’s protection for them too. We need Him and they do too.

 

Where are you?

Many of us, at one point or another, have wondered this about God. “Where are You, God?”

How many times have you said that?

How many times have you heard someone say it?
Yes, it is hard to make it through the day sometimes when things are not going right but why not do something about it? To that, many people would ask me, “OK, what can I do about it? I don’t see Him doing anything!”

The best that you can do is stop blaming God for your problems. First of all, He gives us a choice in everything, every decision that we make whether it is good or bad. Second, and for many this would be the tough part, ….start your day off with prayer and reading some verses in the Bible. Begin your day by thanking Him that you are awake and alive to see this day, then pray that your day will be fruitful for His Kingdom and read a verse from Proverbs or Psalms or any other verse that has meaning for you. Jesus did this by getting up early and praying before the day began and that is how we should live our lives too.

Being grounded in the Word and beginning the day with God starts the day in the right way, then everything else that follows will have His Spirit in it, covering it and giving you the strength to get through it and the problems that may come during your day at home or at work. Once you get into a habit of doing this, it won’t be hard at all to do it all during the day. Pray about the problems which come up, the traffic jam that you are in on the way to or from work, someone else’s trouble during the day. Cover the day and all that is in it with prayer.

God asked Adam the same question about where he was, but God knew all along. The important thing that we have to realize is that God never leaves us, especially if we are Christians. He is always in our hearts and as close as our skin. We are never alone, even if you aren’t a believer. He knows you and knows about you and what you do. If you have felt His call or tug on your heart, please consider answering that call. He has a plan for you.

He loves you deeply and never leaves you alone.

Think on that and give God a call, His line is never busy and the signal never fades.

Our time is not our own

Life is something that we tend to take for granted. We always feel, it seems, that we will have tomorrow or next week or next month to do the things that we like to do, that we want to do. Our life is a gift to us from God so that we can understand Who He is and what our purpose in this life really is. He has something in mind for each one of us regardless of what may be happening in our lives.

In Jeremiah God says this:  “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”  (Jeremiah 29:11)

This is the promise that all of us have to cling to, especially during times in our lives which are tough. We cannot and should not fall on our own human weaknesses, and yet we tend to do this especially in times of grief and sadness. If you are going to live in Christ‘s strength daily, then you can’t fall on your strength just because things go south one day. We have to depend on Him every day in order to live the life that He has for us and to be a blessing to others.

Pity parties like we tend to have when things are going badly are the one personal  vice that we all seem to have, but we have the strength of Christ if we will bring Him into our life daily. His love for us is more than we can imagine and He will sustain you every day when you depend on Him and allow Him to walk with you and guide you through life. We don’t have the answers to every problems, no one does except Jesus, because He is the answer!

God will provide for each of us the provisions that we need whether it is money, food, shelter or whatever it may be, when we depend on Him. I know that it is hard for many people to actually do this because it has been hard for me as well because the One that you are depending on is the Creator but He is not visible. His provision for you is enough, but it seems to be provided just in time and in the right amounts, not the way we want it…right now! We want our prayers answered today not next month or next year or even ten years from now, but God’s timing is the right time although we may not realize it at the time.

We have grown up in the past thirty years in a culture which has access to everything NOW! We have had microwaves for that length of time so we don’t pop popcorn in air poppers or on the stove, we want it in forty seconds from the microwave. In the past forty or so years, we have had drive-thru fast food places where we could just drive up, order what we want, pay for it and drive away and we didn’t even have to get out of our warm or cool car or truck to do it and usually we got our food, if you can call it that, in a few minutes.

Instant satisfaction and gratification is the norm these days, especially with the coming of the Internet and Amazon.com. We can find any amount of information that we need on a particular subject and buy books or most any other thing online in a few seconds and it will be delivered within a few days usually.

The biggest problem that this has created is that we don’t have much patience anymore. There is no delay in gratification, because we can get it almost instantly from anywhere. God knew that this was going to happen because He told Daniel about it and it is written in Daniel chapter 12:4 which says: ” But thou, O Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book, even to the time of the end: many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased.”

We need to depend on God every day to get us through, but we don’t like to have someone else in control. You have to give Him control, He doesn’t take it, so unless  you are willing to truly give Him yourself and follow His guidance in your life then you are not surrendered to Him. This is what is required and until you come to that realization, your life will be unbalanced and unfruitful toward the Kingdom of God.

It is true that your life may be going well every day, whether you belong to Christ or not, but it is a lie from Satan if you don’t belong to Jesus. All of these “good things” that you have and have been “given”, you have them because he is trying to keep you “satisfied” with your life, with your stuff, with everything that you have! Things don’t help. Stuff doesn’t do any of us any good…but Jesus can and does! Ask Him into your heart and into your everyday life because He has a plan for you and it will be revealed and accomplished when you give your life to Him and follow Him. Amen.

Do we REALLY need motivation to Pray?

prayer-motivationIn the situation depicted here in this picture, prayer and running faster would be helpful! But what about our everyday lives? Do we really need motivation to pray? It seems that many people do need a crisis of some kind to motivate them to truly pray to their Father in Heaven. But, why is that? Shouldn’t we be praying to Him anyway?

He is the Author of life and the Creator of everything so why not pray to Him? Don’t you believe that He could take care of whatever situation you might be in? Granted, He may do so in His own time and not as immediately as we would like, but don’t give up on God! He has never given up on anyone and He doesn’t until it is too late for them to give their lives to Him.

It is our individual choices which take us places that we enjoy or not. Our choices, not someone else’s, are the ones that we will have to account for when we face God one day. Have you considered that today? Have you thought of what you have done or said that you haven’t asked Him for forgiveness for?

You can’t hide any part of your life from God, no matter how much you may want to. He knows all about each of us, regardless of which continent you live on or how far you may be from the nearest cell tower! God doesn’t need cell coverage to find you because He never lost you! He has always been near you, patiently waiting for you to ask for Him to come into your life and help you get things straitened out.

I know that there are many of you who read this that think “My life doesn’t need to be straitened out!”; if that is true, what is working so perfectly in your life that nothing needs to be fixed? Please let the world know how you got everything figured out so we can all enjoy this freedom!

There are many who think that they have it figured out, but they are really fooling themselves. Everyone has problems of one kind or another, some are worse than others but I don’t believe that there is a person on this planet that doesn’t have some problems or at the least one problem. Life just isn’t that easy or pleasant.

Even if you have enough money that you can buy anything that you could want, without asking “How much?”; there are still taxes to pay, rent, maintenance fees for cars, houses, apartments, etc. Life just doesn’t let you have it that easy without some problems. Unless, you are one of those who is off the grid, no cell, no internet, no TV, paid cash for a small house and all that you have to worry about is utilities and food. So even with that, you still have “bills” of a sort; of course you could grow your own veggies, and unless your home is a solar powered one you still have to pay for electricity.

Living on earth is just not that forgiving as far as problems are concerned, although living off the grid entirely doesn’t sound too bad come to think of it!

Giving your heart to Jesus doesn’t fix any of these problems either. As a matter of fact, some problems may get worse especially if you tell others about your Savior and can’t keep it to yourself! We were commanded to do this, so why should you! That is why this blog exists, so that people who are searching for some of life’s answers can find them. I don’t have those answers, but God’s Word does and all you have to do is read it.

Live your life according to Scripture and in awe of our God and Creator, because if He had not made our home we wouldn’t have such a perfect place to live. I know that many of you don’t have a perfect place, but in comparison to the other planets in our solar system, earth is as perfect for us as it gets. God loves you, each and every one of you because He created you and placed you exactly where He wanted you to be!

Give your life to Jesus, pursue Him as you would a lover, learn about Him from the Word of God. When you have done these things, He will give you the peace that you cannot understand and that you have longed for all of your life. You will also be assured of a place in heaven forever and not punishment in hell.

We are like children, regardless of our age

“When I was a child, I spoke as a child and played as a child; when I grew up, I put away childish things.” (paraphrase of 1 Corinthians 13:11)

This is something which we have heard from preachers for years, but what exactly does it mean?

To us, as Christians, it means that when we finally grow up, regardless of what age we may be when we do, we should act like it!

Do we act like it? Have we grown up? Are we, as adults, really grown up?

1. Most of us are not.

·         We do what we want to do, when we want to do it, if possible. Then, we get mad if we can’t.

·         People see themselves as good, but what about the thoughts that we all have. Are they good all the time? Would you want Jesus to read your thoughts every day? He knows what you think whether you have given your heart to him or not.

·         Does it bother you that God knows every thought that you have? If it doesn’t, you might want to check your relationship with Him.

 2. Can we fix our character, our heart or our soul on our own? Of course not! We can’t pull off something like that, only Jesus can do a soul-cleansing restoration on your heart and soul!

 Many times, we believe that we are in charge. We start our lives wanting to be in charge of our life. “I can do it myself!” How many times have parents heard that? At those times it is cute, for a while, but when children get older it is called being rebellious. It tends to cause ulcers and grey hair and lost hair too.

 The point is that, when we think that we are good enough to run our lives by ourselves, we are taking the throne away from the One Who is supposed to be there! We are doing the same thing that Satan tried to do when He was cast into outer darkness. He wanted to put himself on the throne which God was on or to put his “throne” above God’s. We can’t do that, although many people do just exactly that!

 People that think they have plenty of time to get around to God do it. People who don’t believe that there is a God do it. People who have made their own version of “god” do it. This happens all over the world, every day. Billions of people think that they know better than God!

 Can we be that ignorant? Are we? Many people think that they have all of the answers for their own problems and for the world’s problems too. You see them on television and on the internet every day. If they base their advice on God’s Word, and use its wisdom to advise people, then maybe they do have the answer for mankind’s problems. But, if they are using their own wisdom or some wisdom from man, such as Buddhism or Scientology, then they are mistaken. Even the Koran is only from a man, it was not given by God. God would not condone killing others because they won’t accept Islam as their religion. That sounds like it came from Satan himself.

 The answers to our life’s problems lie in giving our hearts and our minds to Christ so that we can become more like Him. Following Him in all of our ways, every day and in all things. Give the day to Him before you begin it so that He will be in your mind and heart and direct your steps and words during your daily routine. It isn’t hard to do, but it is a conscious decision that we have to make. A decision that comes only when your heart is filled with the Holy Spirit and you have taken the Word into your mind. One sermon a week listening to someone preach doesn’t equip you for service to God, you have to do that daily!

 I know that many people think that daily walks with God in His Word is what the preacher is supposed to do. It is what we are all called to do as Christians, to be followers of Christ. Walking with God daily is our responsibility because if we don’t, we won’t get to know the God who came to save us. Reading the Bible is the best way for us to get to know Him because it is His way of communicating with us and telling us about Himself.

 God loves us more than we can understand but the way that we can learn about Him is by reading His word. Getting to know our Father better is one of the best things you can do for your relationship with Him, the better you know Him, the easier it is to recognize His voice when He speaks to you. I can’t imagine a more satisfying relationship than having one with the Creator of everything! He created us all for that, the least that we could do is return the love toward Him.

God knew you before you were born and He knows when your last day on the earth will be. Knowing this, He still chose you to be a child of His and all He is waiting for is your agreement with Him and your asking Him into your heart and life. God’s grace toward us is loving and eternal and doesn’t depend on anything that we may believe that we have to do, God doesn’t need our help in making us righteous. He works His changes in your heart and your life gradually and carefully, but sometimes those changes may hurt a bit.

We don’t agree with the pain and suffering that we have to endure during the time of God’s changes in our hearts and our lives because, even as Christians, it hurts or it is uncomfortable. That’s life! Jesus didn’t say that He came to make our lives easy. He told the disciples and us through them that we would have trouble and pain in this world, but He also tells us to take heart because He overcame the world and through Him, we can too!

There are many people in the world that are hurting every day and in more ways than we can imagine but God knows about each of them and His Spirit is with them through it all. He will draw them to Himself and if they answer the call they will have His strength to carry them through whatever they are being put through. Many people don’t acknowledge that call on their spirit because they are hurting too much or they are high on drugs or they are drunk, but God knows their hearts. He will keep drawing them until they tell Him to go away, if they recognize that it was Him to begin with.

Other times, which happens more often that we would like to believe, they don’t hear His call in their life. People are so caught up in what they are doing or having to deal with until they are spiritually deaf. Satan loves it when we are so caught up in our lives and our jobs or with our family that we can’t even hear God calling to us. That is when he will crank up the volume in our life so that we are even more involved and there is no way God can get through. But, God knows your heart and He knows whether you will hear Him at some point and it is at those times, whether you like what is happening to you or your family or not, that you will hear Him! You may wonder why this is happening at that point but it is because God has something that only you can do and He will not let you ignore Him.

I can hear many people saying that we are not predestined but God says that we are. He can raise up a ruler or bring him down for His purposes and He can do the same with us. He is the Creator and can do anything that He desires to do and if that means breaking down your will in order to build you up to be the person that He knows you can be, then that is what He will do. Give your heart to God before He has to allow that to happen in your life, so that He can use you in a more fantastic way than you could ever imagine! Won’t you call on Him today?

What does Easter mean to you?

The passion of Christ, His crucifixion and resurrection…what does it mean for us, for you?

In our daily life and our lives in general it means the difference between having hope for eternity and having no hope at all. Your life and the meaning of your life while you are here doesn’t mean much to the world in general. Most people or countries don’t care anything about us as individuals. We are just numbers and revenue in the form of taxes and consumerism.

To Christ we are important. We, each of us, are important enough that He came and died for us so that we could have eternal life. But, it was not just for our benefit that He came and died, it was for the Kingdom of God and for His Glory. The work that we can do through Him and the work that He can do through us is the reason for our salvation and for His sacrifice.

So, why does life seem to be without hope to most people? Even if they are or claim to be Christians? It could be that they have not given themselves totally to Christ. Many people think that because they have asked Jesus into their lives and their heart that that is all that is required. True, for you to have eternal life that is it, but an abundant life and the eternal rewards that you will receive for the work that you do as a follower of Christ is what you do beyond that.

For Easter and its Christian meaning to have real meaning for you, your life in Christ has to have or be meaningful. I am not speaking of being a mother or father or of your job, those positions are important because your Christian life can shine through those areas as well. To be meaningful in Christ your life in Him must show to the outside world in some way that others will see it and want what you have.

The mini-series that is on the history channel, “The Bible”, this year is one couple’s way of doing that. Each of us can be more or do more with the strength and wisdom given to us by God and that is what I am speaking of in this writing.

Many people wonder, “Does God give me a gift or the wisdom to do these things?”, the answer to that is Yes! In the Bible, there is a passage that says (paraphrased) “ask of God and He will give you wisdom” James 1:5; each of us is unable to do the things that we do in the ministries that we have unless we have the ability and the wisdom from Him to do them.

The writing that I have been doing for these past five years or so would be impossible for me to to without the words and the wisdom that God gives me. I don’t have it in me to create this much or for it to make sense the way it seems to unless these words come from God and not me!

Easter is a time to celebrate Christ’s sacrifice for each of us, not to celebrate spring or chocolate or colored eggs. The celebration that we see each year is a pagan celebration of spring, that is all. Celebrating the love and compassion that God has for us and that through His Son, He could make a way for each of us to be reconciled to Him is what we should celebrate and truly be thankful for.

The love that God has for each of us is the reason that He came and sacrificed Himself for us to reconcile each of us to Himself, there was no other way to do it. Your life..our lives can have so much more meaning and purpose through Christ and with Him working through us. Give Jesus a chance to come into your heart and make it His home because once He does your life will never be the same!