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.