It is well with my soul

Many times, in church and even on social media sites, I get requests for prayer either in person or by a message. Prayer is a necessary part of a Christian’s life, just like breathing or drinking water, yet many people don’t seem to think that God listens to them so they ask their pastor to pray for them. I don’t mind, but if you are a child of God you have the same privilege and right to step into His Presence at anytime.

Sometimes, people just don’t exercise their right as a Christian until it gets to be so bad they just hit their knees in agony. God can and will answer your prayers, particularly when you pray about a family member’s illness or an accident. I don’t mean to say that He won’t answer a prayer about your children or your keys or other “small” thing, but God looks for ways to bless you in areas where He is the real solution for the problem!

So do you seek out God when things are going good or do you wait until He is the last resort? Don’t you think that when things aren’t going very well, you should seek out the One Who can do something about the situation? The Creator that made all of our universe and every molecule in your body can fix any problem in your life, regardless of the cause! If you will give Him the chance to do so.

When life throws a curve ball at you, swing at it because you might hit it. God can give you the strength and the ability to make it through any real problem in your life, regardless of whether it is one involving your spiritual condition or a medical problem. God is bigger than ALL of your problems or any of the problems in our world today or at any time in the future.

Each of us has a choice to make. To ask Jesus into our lives and repent of our sinful ways or to keep doing what we feel is right, what makes us feel good. To keep being selfish and prideful in what we can do and to do it without anyone telling us that it is wrong. In reality, the Bible doesn’t tell you anything like that. There are no rules about what to do or not, but when you truly realize that you need Jesus and you come to Him in repentance…then you will change. You won’t do it on your own but you will change by the influence of the Holy Spirit after you ask Him to live in your heart!

When that happens, and you begin to change into a new creation, a new person. Then you won’t crave those things which you did before. You won’t go to the places that you went to before. The rules have changed because you aren’t the same anymore. Not because of rules from the Bible, but because your heart, your soul, your inner person has changed and is changing. While you learn more about Jesus and read His Word and pray about this new life, you are changing and becoming the person that God has always known you were since before you were born.

When this change occurs then it will be well with you no matter how life turns out, good or bad. Why? Because you are an adopted child of God! The Creator and King of the universe! How could you possibly feel down or depressed or unloved when God loves you more deeply than anyone on Earth could ever understand? Yes, there will be days which you may be depressed, but with prayer and reading God’s Word it won’t last for long. Seek Him and His Kingdom and all of the things which God has prepared for you will be yours.

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God is everywhere!

I read an email from a friend a few years ago and it had a story in it that many of you have likely seen before but here is the gist of it:

A man walked up to a boy on his way to school many years ago and said to him, “I will give you a nickel if you can tell me where God is.” (Had to be many years ago because a nickel wouldn’t interest too many kids today). The boy asked him, “How long do I have to find God for you mister?” The man said, “Until this afternoon when you get out of school, I will be close by.”

So the boy went to school and looked and read some books and asked a teacher or two about where God could be found. By that afternoon, the little boy found the man on his way home and he told him, “Mister, you can keep your nickel, because I found that God is all around us! I would be willing to give you a dollar if you could tell me where God isn’t!”

The boy is right, God is everywhere! But, that doesn’t mean that we are “gods” or that the planet that we live on is a “god”, like many so-called “new age religions” try to make you see in yourself. God created all that is in our universe. All of the planets, the stars, the comets, every tree and blade of grass and each of us! HE had a part, a very BIG part, in creating you and me and every other person on Earth as well as all of the things which we see and feel around us every day!

Don’t count Jesus out of your life because He is God’s Son, the Living Word, and He was instrumental in creation! The Holy Spirit also played a big part in creation, because He is part of the Trinity and also the Spirit of God which brought to life Adam and which hovered over the waters before the light was brought into existence.

Yes, there are many who will tell me that this is not true or that the Bible is a book full of errors and lies…but it isn’t. Many of the prophecies in its pages have already come true and there are some which are going to come true soon, then the whole world will see that He is real and that His Word is Truth!

Seek Him while there is time to do so, because we are not guaranteed tomorrow morning. Today is all that you have and even the moments which have not passed aren’t sure for anyone because they are still in the future. Time is moving and it is moving faster, it seems, but in a few minutes it will be one minute after 8, this is Central Time, but what I am pointing to is that by the time I finish this, it will be later than that!

Jesus, in all of the books of the Bible

In Genesis he’s the Seed of the Woman.
In Exodus he’s the Passover Lamb.
In Leviticus he’s the Scapegoat.
In Numbers he’s the Serpent lifted up in the Wilderness.
In Deuteronomy he’s the Cities of Refuge.
In Joshua he’s the Scarlet thread on Rahab’s house.
In Judges he’s the Perfect Judge.
In Ruth he’s the Kinsman Redeemer.
In I Samuel he’s the Trusted Prophet.
In 2 Samuel he’s the True Son of David.
In 1 Kings he’s the Promise Keeper.
In 2 Kings he’s the Jealous God.
In 1 Chronicles he’s our Reigning King.
In 2 Chronicles he’s our Deliverer.
In Ezra he’s the Faithful Scribe.
In Nehemiah he’s the Rebuilder of Broken Walls.
In Esther he’s Mordecai at the Gate.
In Job he’s My Redeemer Who Lives Today.
In Psalms he’s the Lord who is my Shepherd.
In Proverbs he’s our Wisdom.
In Ecclesiastes he’s our True Satisfaction.
In Song of Solomon he’s the Beautiful Bridegroom.
In Isaiah he’s the Suffering Servant.
In Jeremiah he’s the Righteous Branch.
In Lamentations he’s the Weeping Prophet.
In Ezekiel he’s the Son of Man.
In Daniel he’s the Fourth Man in the Furnace.
In Hosea he’s the Faithful Husband.
In Joel he’s the One Who Restores.
In Amos he’s the Burden Bearer.
In Obadiah he’s the Mighty Judge.
In Jonah he’s the Foreign Missionary.
In Micah he’s our Peace.
In Nahum he’s the Avenger.
In Habakkuk he’s the Lord in His Holy Temple.
In Zephaniah he’s the Lord Mighty to Save.
In Haggai he’s the Lord of Hosts.
In Zechariah he’s the Fountain of Cleansing.
In Malachi he’s the Sun of Righteousness.
In Matthew he’s the Promised Messiah.
In Mark he’s the Faithful Servant.
In Luke he’s Friend of Sinners.
In John he’s the Son of God.
In Acts he’s the Ascended Lord.
In Romans he’s the Justifier.
In 1 Corinthians he’s our Righteousness.
In 2 Corinthians he’s the God of All Comfort.
In Galatians he’s the Redeemer from the Curse of the Law.
In Ephesians he’s the Head of the Church.
In Philippians he’s the All-Sufficient Christ.
In Colossians he’s the Fullness of God.
In 1 Thessalonians he’s the Lord Coming Down from Heaven.
In 2 Thessalonians he’s the Judge coming with Blazing Fire.
In 1 Timothy he’s our Mediator.
In 2 Timothy he’s our Master.
In Titus he’s the Blessed Hope.
In Philemon he’s the One Who Paid Our Debt.
In Hebrews he’s Our Great High Priest.
In James he’s the Judge Standing at the Door.
In 1 Peter he’s the Chief Shepherd.
In 2 Peter he’s the Morning Star.
In 1 John he’s the Word of Life.
In 2 John he’s the Son of the Father.
In 3 John he’s the Truth.
In Jude he’s the Lord Coming with countless thousands of his saints.
In Revelation he’s the King of Kings and Lord of Lords!

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.

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.

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?