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.

What can I do?

In the culture that we live in “I” is an independent person because I can do anything. But what about in the world of finance or in the police department or the fire department or even the military, “I” can’t be independent in any of those arena’s because most of the work is performed as a team, not as an individual. Life, at least the life that we have in Christ, is supposed to be that way too.

We are supposed to be teamed up with Jesus, but in reality He has done all of the work that needs to be done, all that we have to do is accept it and believe it. What is so hard about that? Nothing is hard about it for the most part, but we don’t want to give our lives to Him. We resist it, we fight it, even after we have supposedly given our life to Him, we still give Him some part of our life and then when the answer doesn’t come quickly enough, we take it back. We tell Him that we will do it, since He can’t.

Warning! Warning! We may not have the answer yet because He has something better for us but we have to be patient so that it will come. Patience is not our best ability and very few people really have it as a gift, BUT don’t ask God to increase your patience! He will do so by allowing you to go through some trials that will try your patience to the breaking point, stretching it so that it gets bigger, but you won’t enjoy it!

If you are not a Christian, then I am sorry that you don’t believe in Him. Many people in the world don’t believe in God or in Jesus, but they are religious in their beliefs of whatever religion they practice. Religion is not a bad thing, but many people have done and will do many bad things in the practice of their religion whether it is a twisted version of Christianity or Islam, or any of many religions around the world. People have always looked to their “scriptures” to justify doing something which they know to be wrong, but if they can find one verse or two that can be twisted to fit then they will do it.

People did it in America during the time of slavery and many are doing it now. Different cults or doctrines can be justified by using a portion of scripture out of context and convincing people that God meant it that way. Any portion of this site could be taken out of context and used the same way, just as a sentence in the morning newspaper could be used the same way, if taken out of context.

God loves us all, but He may not like the way we are behaving or treating each other. Just as a parent loves their children, but they may not like the way they are behaving at a particular time. We can’t be compared to God, nor He to us, but the analogy is the same: you can love someone without liking the things that they say or do. That is why He sent His Son to take the sins of the world (past, present and future) on Himself and atone for them on the cross. If we can accept this and believe in Him, then we will be saved from our sins and the punishment for them. If we choose to disregard His atonement for our behavior, then we pay the price.

Many people say that “my god would not send anyone to hell”, well God does not…you do. It is your choice to believe or not in Jesus and His sacrifice, if you do then all is well as long as you are sincere in your belief and change your life accordingly. If you decide that following Jesus is not something that you can do or want to do and you life your life and your sin the way it is, then you have put yourself on the road leading to hell. God didn’t do it, you did.

So, what can you do? Make the right choice and choose life with Jesus in your heart and follow His example in your life. It is the only choice which really means anything for eternity because nothing here and now will matter or even be around in one million years. Your legacy will be lost and nobody will know you at all. On the other hand, if you give your life to Jesus and tell others about what He did for you then there could be many thousands of people who will know you in a million years!

Think about that for a while, but don’t take too long.

 

Matthew speaks (part two)

When we arrived on the opposite shore from Galilee in the Gadarenes, a man which had been living in the tombs came upon us quite suddenly! He was wearing no clothes and was possessed by devils and had not lived in a house for a long time. There were pieces of chains on his arms that showed that he had been bound but had loosed himself by breaking them.

 When he saw Jesus, he cried out and fell down before him and with a loud voice he said, “What have I to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of God most high. I beg of you, torment me not!” For Jesus had commanded that the spirit come out of him. It seemed that the spirits had caused him to cut himself and do other injuries to himself, yet Jesus asked the spirit, “What is your name?” The spirits within him said, “Legion, for we are many.”

The demons begged Jesus not so send them into outer darkness. At that place there were some herders which had a large number of pigs eating on the mountainside. The devils pleaded with Him to send them into the swine, so Jesus said: “Go!” When they did, the entire herd ran off down the mountain and into the sea where they drowned! Those who were herding them ran back to the town and told what had happened to their herd.

The people came and found Jesus and saw the man who had been possessed of demons in his right mind sitting with us and talking. They asked Jesus to leave  because they were afraid of Him. Isn’t that weird? The man that was healed of the spirits wanted to come with us, but Jesus sent him away saying: “Return to your house and tell of the things which God has done for you.” So, he did exactly that. He went round about telling everything that Jesus had done for him!

So, we got back into the boat and traveled back to Galilee and the people greeted Him gladly for they had been waiting for Him to return. Later, a man named Jairus who was a ruler of the synagogue found Jesus and fell at His feet. He begged Him to come and lay His hands on his daughter because she was ill and at the point of death, and she was his only daughter! He said that she was about twelve years of age too, so we set off toward his house but the people were crowding around Him as He went. A woman, who had an issue of blood for about twelve years, who had spent all that she had on physicians yet none had healed her, came up behind Jesus. She had thought to herself that “if I can just touch His garment, I will be healed”.

When she did this, Jesus noticed power issue out of Himself and asked, “Who touched me?” We were all astonished at this for the crowd was all around Him, yet the woman came forth and told Him of her plight and that it was she who had touched Him. He said, “Daughter, be of good faith and go your way. Your faith has made thee whole.” About this time, someone came to the ruler and said, “Don’t bother the Teacher anymore, your daughter is dead.” But Jesus heard it and said, “Fear not, but believe only.”

When we came to the house, he did not allow anyone to go in except Peter, James and John and the father and mother of the girl. There were many who were weeping and wailing and He told them to “Weep not, for the girl is only asleep.” They laughed at Him because they knew that she was dead, but He put them all out and took her by the hand and called out to her saying, “Maid, arise!”

Her spirit came again unto her and she got up right away! He told her parents to give her something to eat and they were astonished. Although He told them not to tell anyone what He had done there.

Prologue: Our Lord, Jesus, can still do miracles even today. Prayers are answered every day in ways that we may not know and in some we do. The point of this story is that Jesus can do all things. He did them when He was here with His disciples and He can still do them today. All that we have to do is believe and have faith in Him. As Jesus said, “If you have faith, even as small as a mustard seed, all things are possible”! Won’t you place your faith and your life in Jesus’ hands today?

Matthew speaks…. (part one)

My name is Matthew. I was a tax collector in Judea during the time when Jesus was teaching and healing in the country. Oh, those were wonderful days, but I digress. He had asked me to follow Him and I felt that I should. I am not sure why, but I did and I learned so much from Him and His teachings! We, that is his disciples and I found out that He really is the Son of the Living God! Can you imagine being instructed by Him?

One day as we were going through the cities and the countryside around Jerusalem, He was healing many of their infirmities and teaching the glad tidings of the kingdom of God. Some women that He had healed and who also were disciples of His, were tagging along with us and helping us with our mission to Israel and its people.

Many people were following us, so we sat down on a hillside and He taught them with this parable about a farmer sowing seeds. He said, “Some of the seeds fell along the roadside, but with little soil they were eaten by the birds. Some fell on good soil, but they fell among thorns. They sprang up with the rains, but were choked by the thorns and were not fruitful at all. Some fell on very thin soil on rocky places and they sprang up but since their root was so shallow, they weren’t able to bear the heat of the day and withered. But some of the seed fell on good soil and they produced a harvest of thirty, sixty and one hundred-fold. The people looked confused about this so we asked Jesus why He was teaching them with parables.

He told us that it was given to us, His disciples, to understand the mysteries of the kingdom of God but unto them it is not, because by seeing they might not see and by hearing they might not understand. He explained that the parable was like this: The seeds are the Word of God and the ones that fell by the wayside are those that hear but the devil comes and steals the word away lest they believe and be saved. Those which fell on the rock with the thin soil are those which receive the word with joy but they have no root and so believe for a while but when temptation comes they fall away. Those which fell among thorns are them that have heard but are choked by the cares and riches of life and they produce no fruit. But, those which fell on good soil are they which have an honest and good heart and having heard the word bring forth fruit with patience.

Then Jesus said that we were not to light a candle and put it under a basket but to put it on a lamp stand so that the whole house could receive its light. Meaning that when we have received the Word of Truth and have taken it into our hearts, we are to let others see its effect in our lives so that they will want that light too! He also told us that when we are given this knowledge, we are not to keep it to ourselves lest we lose it, we are to give it away so that others may have it too.

Jesus’ mother and his brothers came to see him, but they could not get to him because of the crowds. It was told to him that “Your mother and your brothers are standing outside desiring to see you.” He told them that His mother and His brethren are those which hear the word of God and do it.

The next day, Jesus told us that He wanted to go to the other side of the sea of Galilee. So He got into a ship with us and we set out for the other side. As we were sailing, Jesus fell asleep on a cushion in the rear of the ship and a storm came up which was casting water over the sides of the ship!

We all felt that we were going to sink and here He was sleeping through all of this! We went to Him and woke Him saying, “Master we are about to die!” But, He got up and rebuked the wind and the waves and it became calm again. Then..He said, “Where is your faith?” We were afraid and wondered “What manner of man is this? Who commands the waves and the winds and they obey Him!”

If you believe in Jesus…

In may places in our world, if you believe in Jesus and what He stood for and in Who He is, then you are either not very intelligent or you are an infidel. Why should we be considered this way? If you are a Christian and not a hypocrite then you have the hope of one day being in Heaven with Him. There are many hypocrites in churches all over the world, which is why many people say that they don’t want to come to church. That’s OK, but you will be with them in hell for an eternity if you don’t learn and accept the Truth.

This is a hard lesson to teach and to take into your heart, but it is necessary in the times that we are living in. If people, regardless of their faith or lack of faith, are not told about the option that they have and the choice that only they can make then when they stand before God what can they say? I didn’t know, Lord? Maybe not, but it was still your choice to find out or not. It is also your choice which will condemn you to a place that was not prepared for us, but was prepared for Satan and those who rebelled with him.

The choice is yours, whether to believe in Christ or not. But God has provided a way for you to be in Heaven, if you choose wisely the way that is taught in His Word. It points toward Jesus from beginning to end and the choice is yours alone to make. It is the only choice that will give you eternal life with Him, because apart from Him is not life, at least not one that you would enjoy.

I have heard many people that I grew up with and worked with over the years say that they would rather party with the devil than serve God forever. The sad fact is that there will be no party in hell. Once you or anyone else arrives there, it will be torment forever. At this point in time, hell is not populated at all but it will be. If you choose not to believe in it, fine, but that won’t make it go away.

Just as not believing in fire or gravity, if you can convince yourself of these things, won’t save you from either one…it will be the same for those who make the conscious choice to do as they please just to find out which is right. You won’t have a chance to change your mind once this life is over so choose well!

The demons and Satan know that God exists and they know Who Jesus is, but they chose not to bow down or serve them. It is our choice in this life to choose to give our life to Jesus or to “do our own thing”. If you choose this path, the easy choice for most people, your life will be the same as it would be otherwise, but what happens when you draw your last breath? You will stand before the Judge, God Himself who will ask you what you did with Jesus although He already knows. You will see your life and every decision that you made or should’ve made and then you will know, even though it will be too late to change your choice.

We. as mankind, are loved by God enough that He sent His Son to die for our sins, in our place, so that we can come to Jesus and ask Him into our life and our heart and be cleansed through His sacrifice. We are not worthy of attaining Heaven on our own merits, regardless of how good those “works” may be. If they are not done through the love of Jesus and with humble hearts in order to give Him the glory then they mean nothing at all! One dollar given through Jesus and in love by Him is worth more than billions given without any humility or Christian love expressed through it.

Think about your life and the things that you have done in it. If you have broken even one of the Ten Commandments, you are guilty of all of them. When you are convicted by these laws of God then you can see that you are a sinner, regardless of what the world may tell you. Think about it and let me hear from you.

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?

After Easter, what now?

The services are over, the message is done. Have you accepted Jesus as your Saviour yet? There were “passion plays“, re-enactments of Jesus’ hours before His crucifixion that touched many people’s hearts and their minds with how well they were done and put together. Yet, did anyone really get the message found in them?

Jesus came to be the sacrifice for all of our sins. Not just those of the people that He preached to and His disciples preached to and carried the gospel to in their journeys, but for all of us, especially those who had not been born yet! His message and His sacrifice was for you and me and everyone else on this world, all we have to do is believe in what He did and Who He was so that we can have eternity with Him.

Many people that I have heard say that is too simple. It just can’t be that easy. The problem that they have is that they are making it harder than it is! Accepting Jesus doesn’t make your life easier! It doesn’t take away the suffering, the bills, the heartache of life that we have to live but it does make it easier to bear because we have Him and His strength to bear it with.

God loves us enough that He sent His Son to become a man and die a very cruel death to pay for all of our sins so that we would not have to pay the penalty for them. Many people don’t think that there is a punishment for not accepting Christ, but God’s Word clearly says that there is. Some may be punished more than others, depending on what they did in their life on earth, but the punishment is real nonetheless. It was designed for Satan and his demons but by rejecting Jesus and the offer of eternal life, we will be cast into it as well.

It is our own choices which place us there, not God. He can’t change our choices while we live, only we can do that and it is our individual choices which will condemn us to an eternity in hell or to live in paradise with Jesus. The choice is up to each of us, which one we choose to follow during our life will determine the life we have in eternity.

 

Life is …..

Life is…? What? Hard? Easy? Difficult? Mostly, life is all of these. Occasionally, all of them at the same time!

The wind blows, the trees sway.

The river and streams run and tumble and play,

But the rocks are still, yet they are shaped,

By wind and water too.

Life is like that as well. The things that we experience shape our lives and how we perceive life. Can we do anything about the life that we live? Sometimes, but most of the time we just live it. Is it hard to “just live it”? Not really unless you live in poverty or in an area that has been under a drought for a long time or in a war torn area of the world. Life is not easy, regardless of where you live or what you believe in.

The society and cultures that we live in, regardless of the country, shape our opinions and our lives as well as our characters. Is there any way that we can be good enough to be human and be kind to one another? Yes, we all have the capability and the moral compass within us. Whether we choose to be that person or not is our choice. We are free to choose, for good or evil, how our actions affect those around us.

Most of us would like to be liked by our colleagues, so we choose to be likeable and friendly. Others in society choose to be selfish, caring only about what is good for them as individuals and nothing for anyone else. Thankfully, those who are selfish make up a smaller portion of society, but they do get most of the media attention so we hear about them most often. I think that is why we are so fascinated by reality shows. When cameras are around, at some point the selfish person will show up when they are least expected and usually it is the person who wasn’t selfish to begin with.

We are a group of contrasts, always changing as we get older. Sometimes for better, sometimes not so much. Age doesn’t always bring wisdom, it should but life has a way of teaching you lessons that you really don’t enjoy and whether you get wisdom from these lessons or not is still up to you. We are ruled by our choices in life and in eternity. I know, many people don’t really believe that there is an eternity but it is mentioned in the Bible so I believe it exists, and it is a very long, long time!

How can we make a difference in our life and in other people’s lives now and into eternity? By living the life that we have like it is going to end tomorrow! Telling and showing others the One who came to give them life after this one! It is not a hard job, but it is one that is not very popular right now. Some of the lessons contained in God’s Word are considered “hate speech“, bigoted, elitist views of salvation, the list goes on and on.

The point of all of this is that we only have a limited amount of time to let others know about Jesus. Our lifetime is only a small part of eternity and compared to eternity it is but a puff of smoke or mist. The message that we have is one that is very important to those who need it and will listen. If you don’t think that you need it..well, prayer is an option, searching for the answer in God‘s Word is another option, but religion is not. Religion, regardless of which one it is, can get you and anyone else a place in hell quicker than anything because it is not religion that saves your soul, it is belief in Jesus‘ sacrifice for you that saves you!

Open the Word, seek the wisdom contained in it, ask God to reveal Himself to you. Then let His light shine through you to others so that they can see Him and want to know Him too. Truly God is in control, otherwise our world would’ve ended long ago. Get to know Him while you can.

The Bible, God’s Word

I watched the entire series on the History Channel this past month and I was impressed. They didn’t make fun of it or anything in it and it got some people interested in the Word of God, so it accomplished what it was supposed to.

Many people don’t think that the Word is viable today because of its age but no one questions college professors when they assign the Iliad and it is an ancient story too. There are fewer actual copies of it than there are of the Bible, yet there are many people who still don’t think that the Bible is true. The reason behind this is easy to find and it starts in the first book of the Bible, Genesis.

Satan tempted Adam and Eve and got them to rebel against a command that God had given them, ever since then there have been questions about the veracity of the words contained in it. Yet, the prophecies in the Old Testament have nearly all came true. The ones concerning Jesus were fulfilled when He came and through His teaching, and crucifixion and resurrection they were verified. Whether people choose to believe is totally under their own control.

For many people, I think it is their ability to choose that is the stumbling block in their ability to follow Jesus. We like having the freedom to choose but it is used against us because our nature chooses not to follow Christ until we have come to a point where we know that we can’t control our lives on our own anymore. Some people choose to use drugs or alcohol to numb their perception of life, but this is only a temporary, chemical induced feeling and it doesn’t last.

The Bible shows us that people tend to choose their own ways over the ways of God and following Him. All through the Old Testament, Israel would choose to follow God until things started going good, then they would turn to whatever the people surrounding them were worshiping. At which point, God would send someone like the Babylonians or Assyria to take them as slaves until they decided that they needed God again.

In our technological lives today, we don’t see the need for God and His Word until there is a real turning point in our life brought on by something in our life like a death in the family or cancer that comes suddenly to our attention. When these things happen, we realize that we need someone who can do something about this and for many people that someone is God. Doctors can’t cure everything and many times the treatment for cancer is worse than the disease since it poisons not only the cancer cells but the rest of the body as well.

Can we trust God’s Word? Absolutely! Because it has been proven by archaeology and history and by prophecy that has come true. The New Testament shows the beginnings of the church after Christ went back to the Father and yet He said that He would return one day. With few exceptions, most of the prophecies concerning the beginning of the “end times” have already come to pass. Israel being a country again and the language of the Jewish nation being spoken again after over one thousand years of being “lost” are but two of the prophecies that have been fulfilled in the past one hundred years.

The Bible is a great book of literature but it is also a collection of stories written at the prompting of God’s Holy Spirit. The reason that I say this is because of the way it is arranged and how many authors are involved in it. The Bible spans more than three thousand years, has sixty-six books written by over forty authors from all walks of life and yet they all point to Jesus’ birth, death and resurrection at one point or another in each book, and toward His second coming from the point of the prophetic books of which most were written at least four hundred or more years before He was born!

Read it, study it but don’t discount it. The Bible is and has been the most important book in the history of mankind and until Jesus comes to set up His kingdom on this earth it will remain so.

Religion may not be good for you!

In Paul’s day and in our own time, people keep traditions alive and you hear “that’s the way it has always been done”, as proof of their Christian lives and their beliefs as well as the “proof” of their conversion. We see people in church as well as on the street that we know as “church people”, meaning that they are in church every time that there is something going on there. It could also mean that they volunteer in church to drive the bus or to help in the nursery or any number of duties. These people feel sanctified and saved because of their deeds or their work for the church and they may be, but what about the Person that they are serving? Are they working for Jesus or themselves?

In Paul’s day there were many who were “religious”, all of the priests, the Pharisees and Sadducees were religious and yet Jesus condemned them. They were convinced that they were right and everyone else was wrong and they would not listen to any “new” teaching. They were stuck in the past with all of their laws and rules and they had hardened their hearts against anything new.

Do you know people like that? I do, but what can you or I do about it? We can’t change them because they don’t listen or won’t listen just as those in Jesus’ time wouldn’t. So what can we do? Love them, and pray for them daily.

In reference to the title of today’s sermon, there will be many people in hell who are or were religious while they were here and they were that way their whole life. They were convinced that their way was right and that they were doing things right, so what happened? They weren’t shown the error of their ways? Maybe or maybe they just didn’t listen or really hear sermons which they attended. When your ears are closed to Christ and His way of living, your heart is too. So how do you get people like that to listen? By prayer and fasting. Even Jesus said that some problems can only be solved by prayer and fasting.

I am not speaking of fasting for forty days or even two weeks, but if there is someone that you love who hasn’t given their lives and their hearts to Jesus then pray for them and fast for one day! Drink water and juice during that time and pray.

Their life will be impacted and yours will too! God listens closely to those who combine fasting with prayer. The answer may not come immediately after the fast is over, but you can be sure that your prayer was heard!

When Paul wrote most of his letters to the different churches, he was usually in prison at the time. What does that say about his ministry? It says that it was effective for one thing because he was getting someone’s attention! He was striving for the prize, but what was that prize? The prize that Paul was striving for was to be more like Jesus and if it meant that he was stoned or imprisoned for the teaching that he was doing then so be it! The prize that Paul was seeking was also to be considered worthy of being a “good and faithful servant” to his Lord, which is something that we should also be striving for.

To live for Christ and with Him in your daily life is a conscious decision that has to be made daily. It doesn’t automatically happen when you accept Him as your savior. Many people think that once you have accepted Him into your heart, you have done your part. That is not where your part in your new life ends but where it begins! You have to decide every day to take Christ with you everywhere you go! And if you wouldn’t take Jesus there in person, then you shouldn’t be there either!

That is a radical concept for many people to accept even Christians who have been in church most of their lives. You can get up and have a bad day and from that point you may un-invite Christ or decide not to ask Him to be with you that day. Of course He will still be there but you may not know it because you choose not to recognize Him. We are supposed to know and come to know Him daily because of Who He is and what He did for us and yet we sometimes choose not to allow Him to be a presence in our daily life.

Why would you decide such a thing? The Creator of everything wants a relationship with you and everyone else in the world, doesn’t that sound cool?! We are enamored with all sorts of celebrities and sports figures and would enjoy spending time with them so why not be just as excited when the Creator wants to be in your life and share it with you? The disciples had that relationship for about three years and yet they didn’t fully comprehend it until He ascended to the Father. We have the Bible, God’s Word, to tell us all that we need to know about Him and about the Father and we have the Holy Spirit to guide us daily in our walk with Him, what more could you ask for?

Our world and the one who influences people everyday tries to tell us that the things of this world, right now are more important than anything we could have with Jesus in our lives. Money, power, and possessions are all temporary because when our life is over those things won’t mean anything. Some of them may have sentimental value to our family but other than that, nothing in this world makes the trip past death’s door only your soul and spirit do that.

The way that many people see being a Christian is that we live with lots of rules and regulations about what we can and cannot do. That is not the way this works! Following Christ and keeping our eyes on Him, spiritually and physically is the requirement that we should live with every day. It is not hard to follow Christ, once you get the hang of it. The hard part is the tug of war between your old self and the new one that now lives in your heart.

Until your faith in Christ can keep your new self in place and kick the old one out, you will be in turmoil because you can’t serve them both. It is a decision that you have to make every day. Get up with Christ on your mind, not what am I going to do today? But Who am I going to be with today? Am I going to go back to doing the things that I did before I met Jesus? Or am I going to read the Bible a few minutes and pray for strength and guidance from Him to carry me through the day?

We are living this life to get ready for the next but you have to make sure that you are going to have a life, a real life, after this one. Many people think that there is no life after this one and the Bible says just the opposite from beginning to end. Give yourself a chance to experience that life because the alternative is eternal separation from loved ones who are in heaven and from the love of God too. The only chance that you have to make this decision is during this life, now. Once this life ends, there are no “second chances”. Ask Jesus into your life, follow Him every day, learn about Him and the love that He has for you during the time that you have now.

The universe shows us every day the power and majesty of God so we are without excuse when someone asks if there is a God. Isn’t it wonderful that the Creator of everything wants to know you and have a relationship with you? Don’t you want to know Him too? All you have to do is ask Him into your life and your heart and you will have that relationship.