Happy New Year!

So, what are you going to do with the rest of this year? I plan on keeping up my service to my Lord and I pray that all of you will strive to do the same.

How can we keep our lives on track to follow Him throughout the year? Many people ask that question but it is as easy as reading a book. I know many people don’t think of the Bible as just another book, and it isn’t. It is God’s love letters to us, not just instructions for the nation of Israel.

Many people don’t think that God’s Word is relevant to us today but the wisdom contained in it is the same type of wisdom that you find in most of the books that claim to have the “answer” for your problems. I read many of those books, but once I started reading God’s Word I found that those books had just repackaged and reworded God’s wisdom!

Can this be a new year for you? By following Jesus and trusting Him it can be new every day because of the things you learn from Him and through studying His Word. It can also be new every day because you will be a new creation once Jesus takes hold in your heart and your life! Things that you wanted to do or thought were so “cool” before, now they don’t seem so important.

Even friends and people that you hang out with will see a difference in your life. They may ask you about it, they may not like the person that you have become..but that is OK. You are becoming more like Jesus and as long as you keep your eyes on Him and the focus of your life on Him, your life will work out for your good and for His glory.

Now, I am not saying that every day will be a wonderful, stress free day with no worries because it doesn’t work that way. Satan will come against you in the form of so-called “friends” and other circumstances. Sometimes life with Jesus starts out smooth and then gets tougher as time goes by, but keep your focus on Him and He will bring you through it.

No matter the problems or the circumstances, God will see you through them. Troubles and the cares of this world have always been there, whether you are a Christian or not, but when you have Jesus in your life they do one of two things. Either you will turn to Jesus for your help to get through them or you will turn away from Him and that is exactly what Satan wants, so sometimes those troubles can be tough.

The more you cling to Jesus and trust Him to bring you through any trials that you are having, the more those troubles will seem to be less troublesome to you. Our God loves us all and has provided a way to get through this life with victory, but it involves submitting our life to Him and that is something which some people can’t do.

This year, make it a point to check out what God has for you. Investigate it with an open mind, ask questions. This is your life we are talking about and it doesn’t just end when you die, you have a soul that is eternal and the time that you have here is just getting you ready for that time in eternity. Wouldn’t you want to spend it where Jesus is? Because the alternative is not going to be a party like some think. The Bible says that when you are cast into hell, the punishment goes on forever!

I know that people say that “A loving God wouldn’t condemn me to eternal punishment“; He doesn’t but you do! If you haven’t given your life to Christ then you are the same as the angels who threw their lot in with Satan. Hell was not made for us but for them and yet we will end up there if we don’t accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior. Think about it, investigate it and then decide because you don’t know when your time here is finished.

Can we ignore the world?

It says in the Bible that we are not to be part of the world, and yet we are supposed to take Christ‘s message to all of the world. Kind of contradictory isn’t it? Not really, but we can’t let the world and the things in the world affect our life and our witness to those who may not know Christ. How can we do this?

We can’t do it on our own strength or with our own power because Satan and his demonic forces are far more powerful than we are without Jesus in our life and our heart. Without Jesus, it is impossible for us to do good outside the influence of evil. Regardless of how good we think that we are or can be, we cannot withstand the influence of the principalities and powers that Satan has at his disposal.

The reason behind your failure to withstand him is that he hates you with an undying hatred! The reason for this is that he knew that God intended to put humanity above angels in the hierarchy of Heaven one day. That is the one reason beyond pride that Satan had for his rebellion. Everything else pales in comparison and he intends to do everything that he can to corrupt as much of God’s creation as possible.

So, in a word, no we cannot ignore the world! It would be very dangerous to do so because he is the ruler of this world and ignoring the world would be just what Satan wants, in a sense. He doesn’t want to be ignored, but if enough people regard him as a myth or a fairy tale then they won’t know to defend themselves from his attacks or even know that they need to.

Many Christians don’t even know that they need to take care of the thoughts that they have and give them to Jesus. To walk with Jesus on an hourly basis is the only way to defend yourself and if you choose not to be that close with Him then Satan can get into your life, even if you go to church. Mainly because he is there too! He and his demons are in every congregation in the world. They never miss a Sunday or a Sabbath, yet many don’t have any idea that they are there.

When you give your heart to Jesus, He comes in and cleans out anything that has been there before and makes you into a new creation! Your heart becomes the temple for the Spirit to live and work in and through you and for you. When this happens, your life can have so much more meaning not only for you but for God too.

Making Jesus the Lord of your life makes you one of His disciples and they were able to do many glorious, miraculous things as long as their trust and their faith stayed focused on Him. Can we do the same? Yes, we can if we truly believe in Him and repent of our old ways and truly change. Don’t go back to the same places that you went to before, make new friends and tell your old friends that you are a new person!

Take them to church with you and introduce them to your Savior so that they will come to know Him. God loves them, they just have to realize it and accept His love and grace and they will become part of His family too!

Why is there so much violence?

Is it because we can’t stand to be around each other? Do we really hate other people that much, regardless of their race or religion? Is it because of their race or religion? I know that these questions are hard to answer but it seems that no one is asking the questions to seek the answer.

The violence that we see and hear about on the news everyday is part of the world-view. The world itself and the people in it are just being human and following their own wisdom and feelings in the way that they conduct themselves. Just as the Israelites did during the time after they went into Canaan, after Joshua died. They followed the gods of the people around them and did exactly as they pleased. They did not follow the commands that Moses or God had given them before entering into the land of promise.

What can be done about the way people are living in our world? From a human standpoint, not much actually. We can’t fix it on our own and yet people try to do just that all the time. We usually exhaust all of our personal ways that we can think of and when we come to the “end of our rope”, that is when we consult or look for God’s help. The One which can handle everything that we ask of Him and yet we wait until all of our efforts are exhausted before turning to Him, it doesn’t make sense. But, that is human nature and the way that we are.

We cannot change on our own but some people seem to be too proud to ask for God or Jesus to intervene in their lives. Some people even try sending up a small prayer with little faith behind it and then get angry when that doesn’t work. If your heart doesn’t belong to God, the only prayer that He hears at first is a repentant prayer that calls to Him and asks for Him to save, once that happens He hears them all.

We cannot look at this as God being unconcerned about us because He loves each of us, whether we have come and invited Him into our lives or not. The reason behind His reluctance to hear your prayer prior to your salvation is that you are a sinner and until your heart and your soul is cleansed by accepting Christ, He can’t look at you because of His Holiness. It says in the Bible that “our righteousness is as filthy rags” to Him, so our self-righteous attitude doesn’t make us good enough in any way to come before Him to ask anything except for forgiveness and to request that our life be changed by Jesus.

When you have done that, the whole of your life will change forever! At that point you will have an immortal life because death will have no real meaning, other than the physical body dying. You will continue on with Jesus and all of the others who have gone before you. Even the thief who died on the cross next to Jesus will be there.

To live and work along with others who love God and are eternally available to teach and show you how to do the things which are needed will be wonderful! Yet, while we are here in this life we will need the strength that only God and Jesus can impart to us. The only way to live through the violence of this world is by showing the world that God loves them so that they will want to know that love in return.

When someone comes to know Christ as their Lord and Savior, there is joy in Heaven! We should be joyful over it as well because the witness that we have given has saved someone from hell and the second death of separation from God. I cannot imagine being separated from anything good or cool (temperature) or wet like water for eternity, but that is what hell is going to be and eternity never ends!

Think about these things and your response should be to get on your knees and ask Jesus into your life right now! We are not guaranteed the next minute of life so don’t put it off, do it now before it is too late.

What about atheism?

Is is possible to believe in nothing or no one but yourself? It seems that it is in the culture that we live in today.

The number of books on the rejection of religion and God has exploded in the past few years. Is this something which could have been foreseen? Yes and it was foretold but there are many who have refused to teach or preach on this subject.

Your life and mine would never have happened if God did not exist. Chance and accidental combinations of chemicals can produce nothing. If that were possible, Europe and all of the countries and towns that were bombed during WWII would have never had to rebuild. The pieces would have flown apart and rearranged themselves and all would have been as it was.

Chaos does not create order, it destroys it by rearranging order into disorder. It seems that it would take an awful lot of faith in accidental order causing what we see in the universe. Is it possible that all of the whole cosmos came from an explosion with no intelligence directing it? According to scientists in our day and time, it is possible because natural forces would take all the matter from that explosion and arrange it where it needed to be. But..what about you, the fish in the ocean, the bacteria that live in total darkness at the scalding vents in the ocean, the redwood trees? These did not come about by accident and they did not evolve over millions or billions of years. The Creator, God, created those and many more. He is the “director” of the universe.

He is the one who put you together in your mother’s womb to be the person that He knows that you can be. Not what society says or dictates but what God knows you can do and be in His kingdom! Since the world that we live in is part of His kingdom and everything in it belongs to Him, why not accept it? A belief in the existence of something does not dictate whether it exists or not. If it exists then your belief in it or not has no effect on its existence. We can’t change the way the universe is or the order of things just by our thoughts and feelings.

If that were the way that things worked, then we could choose not to believe in the tax code and just not pay our taxes and everything would be fine, right? No, because as rational people we have to go along with the laws in the country that we live in and belief in those laws has nothing to do with the consequences or whether we think they may be right or not.

The world that we live in was created by God and the laws of the universe were too. Regardless of your belief or unbelief in the existence of God, He is there and always has been. His love for each of us has been there from the beginning as well and your belief or not doesn’t change that. God did not trouble Himself when He created you or this universe because it was no trouble for Him at all! He spoke and the universe and most everything in it came into being. The only created being that He took time with was man and He didn’t have to do that, but He did. God used His hands and formed mankind out of the clay of the earth and blew into his nostrils the breath of Life. We hold a special place in creation because of that.

Belief or not doesn’t change it and never will. God sent His Son, Jesus, into the world to take the sins and the punishment for them on Himself so that we could find grace in Him and put on His righteousness. He died and then rose again so that we will be able to have eternal life through Him, if we will just ask Him into our lives. Being saved by God’s grace through Jesus is our choice, just as believing in God or Jesus is a choice. The choice that you make will determine your place in eternity. Which choice will you make?

Do you know Jesus?

Many people today need to but there are also many who either by choice or by fear, they do not know their true Savior. He came into this world to die for your sins so that you can be redeemed, sanctified and clothed in His righteousness.

These concepts are foreign to many people and completely unknown to some. In our world today there are billions of people living, working and going about their lives without a clue regarding the fate which awaits them after they die. Many people don’t believe that there is an eternity, the just look at death as the end and nothing more.

We are made for eternity and our soul is the part of us that is bound for it. The time that we have here is microscopic compared to an eternity, so why don’t we investigate our options? Many people don’t think that they have an option, but you do!

Jesus is the answer for your life both now and into eternity! He is the Messiah that the Bible foretells in the prophecies of the Old Testament. He came to give His life for our sins so that we could come to the throne of God clothed in His righteousness because our own righteousness is as “filthy rags” before God’s holiness!

Can we truly know Him? Yes we can!! He stands before the door to your heart and knocks all you have to do is ask Him to come in. Your life will never be the same, it will be better! Because you will always have Him with you and you will never be alone again!

To many people the concept of having Jesus with them everywhere they go is just too much to handle. Think about this, He knows what you are doing and where you are anyway, whether you have asked Him into your life or not. Turn your life around and follow Jesus and let Him show you what you can really do with your life! He knows what you are capable of and the best part is yet to come.

The pain that you have experienced in your life can be healed by Him whether it is emotional, physical or spiritual. Jesus knows all about you and your life, all you have to do is let Him make it a better life than it is now!

Why do we go to church?

 

Matthew 21:12-13

21:12 And Jesus went into the temple of God, and cast out all them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the money changers, and the seats of them that sold doves, (13) and said unto them, It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves.

There are many reasons people come to church, some out of habit, and some to see and be seen.  Some come for the four reasons below. Whatever the reason that you come for, come expecting to meet the One who can truly change your life in more ways than one.

We come to worship

This was why God put the church here. We, each of us, make up a part of the body of Christ which is the church. It doesn’t matter what denomination you claim or have been all of your life because if you belong to Christ, you are part of His church, His bride and that is all that matters. There are many so-called “churches” which claim to be the “true church” but the only one that is true is the body of Christ and that is made up of believers! We don’t need a denomination or rules to govern by as long as we are faithful to Jesus and the calling that He came and died for. He rose from that grave so that He can come again to receive us unto Himself and to give us the hope of resurrection. No other religion in the world claims anything like this and not one of them can because Christ is the only One who could.

Christ said to assemble ourselves. We are to do this for encouragement, for support of each other, for many reasons but mostly to praise and honor God. We also come to lend our voices to God in prayer because God’s house is a house of prayer. Each church is a house of prayer. We offer up prayers for praise, for thanksgiving, for our infirmities, for exhortation, for forgiveness and for strength. All of these we need if…

We come to grow

There are people in churches that have never grown as Christians. Why is that? Could it be that we don’t know how? Is it possible that we wait for our preacher to give us all that we need to grow in God’s kingdom? Preachers, Sunday school teachers and other ministers can only give us a certain amount that we need; we have to dive into God’s Word in order to truly grow. Grow in grace toward God and be thankful for the grace given to us. Growing in grace is realizing who we are in Christ and being thankful for the position of grace that we have in Him.

Grow in love toward each other and our love for Christ because He loved us first. Not only that, but love Him because of the forgiveness that we have in Him. When we grow in that kind of love we will love others the way Christ does, not in our human hearts but with His heart and His power.

Grow in the word. We must grow in the knowledge of God’s Word so that we will know Christ more intimately. He is the Word made flesh so if you know God’s Word, you know Jesus even better than you did before. You may even, eventually know Him better than you know yourself. Many of the passages in the Word, in the Old Testament and in the New Testament, directly complement each other. To put it another way, the Old testifies of the New and the New fulfills the Old.

We come to serve

God has work we need to do. The work that He asks us to do is not hard work, most of the time and yet it is vital to His kingdom. God wants all men to come to know Him but if we don’t do the work that we have been called to do, how will they know? We perceive this as hard work, but it is only hard because our “old nature” is against it, we have to do it in love and by the power of Jesus because we can’t do it on our own strength and power.

By the way we are his servants. Jesus called the disciples to be servants to others and He calls us to do the same. Working as Christians for Him is a job that others look at and say that they want someone else to do it. That is the “old you” talking, not the new you that came alive when Jesus entered your heart.

We are his witnesses to win souls. This is a subject that many new Christians, and some who have been in the church for years, never get around to doing. We are supposed to be Jesus’ witnesses just as those that He healed went away and told others about what He had done for them. We are to do the same in order for others to see that what Jesus has to offer, they need in their life. Our “old self” doesn’t want to do this, but we must and we will when we have given our life to Him. Christ is the answer to life’s problems, not drugs or alcohol or money or power.

We come to give of our:

Time, Service, Money, Talents

But most of all we are to give honor to God, with yourself and all that comes with you. A Christian must fulfill God’s will in their life. But, how can you know His will for your life if you don’t read and study His Word so you will know what that will is? Your time is valuable so God honors you when you give any amount to Him and you honor Him as well. When you give your time, you are also giving of a service to God in one way or another whether it is cooking or cleaning the church or anything that you do in His name and for the right reasons.

When we give our money to the church or to worthy causes, we are giving back to Him a part of the blessings that He has given us. When we use our talents, whatever they may be, in a church setting or in our daily lives we are using what God gave us. If we use those talents to praise and worship Him then He gets the glory and honor from it as long as we aren’t being prideful about what we are doing.

All of these things from our time and talents to our service and our money have come from God. They are only ours on loan from Him and yet if we give of them from our heart we are honoring Him and giving Him the glory. Doesn’t Christ deserve at least that much from each of us? We are given a world to live in and the air to breathe so as to learn from Him how we are to serve and be His witnesses to those who may not know Him. God has given us our children and grand-children and friends and all the other people that we know in our community and that we work with and they are blessings to each of us.

They are also the “field” that we are sent into to bring them into God’s family because if we don’t tell them about Him and what He has done for us and will do for them, who will?

Are you a child of God? Have you given your heart and your life to Jesus and asked Him to come into your life and truly make you whole? If you have not, do so today because we are not guaranteed even our next breath, let alone tonight or tomorrow. You may not have a chance at accepting Christ on your “death-bed” because your life could end unexpectedly. I am not saying this to scare you into accepting Jesus but truly we all need Him and if you don’t know Him, you need Him most of all!

 

Food Network, Martha Stewart and Jesus

In our lives today we tend to add things as convenience dictates. The people of this country seem to want to add Jesus in the same way, for convenience and in addition to everything else in our lives. Is it possible that we consider Him to be an attachment that we can put on and take off whenever we feel like it?

He came to us to redeem us to Himself so that we might have life with Him in Heaven. Why or how could we be so arrogant and prideful to think that we could add Him and the appearance of being a Christian like we put on a pair of shoes? Is it possible that by taking prayer out of our schools, that we have doomed our children and future generations to thinking that God is irrelevant?

We have to realize that He is absolutely in control and He is not irrelevant! There are many people who risk their lives daily to spread the word of Christ to people in areas where He is not preached! How can we live in a country where we can worship freely and tell others about Him and yet we act as if He is too hard to live with or too politically incorrect for us to tell others about?

God loves us, which is why He sent His Son to redeem us by His death on the cross. The death that Christ endured by being nailed to the cross was insignificant compared to the point at which God had to turn His gaze away from Him. In that moment, Jesus was alone for the first and only time, but it was the most agonizing part of His sacrifice. This is the part that many people don’t quite understand because we can’t understand it.

Everyone thinks that Jesus was afraid of the torture that He had to endure prior to being crucified and the crucifixion itself. He may have been but He also knew that at some point His Father would have to leave Him and at that point He would be alone for the first time in His life! The relationship that Jesus had with His Father was ingrained in Him and had been there since before the world began, so He had never known a time without the presence of His Father.

We have the same ability today through the atoning sacrifice of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Our daily lives can be in the presence of our Heavenly Father because He is there, whether you acknowledge Him or not. Once you do accept Jesus into your life, you will have a daily relationship with Him. He is waiting for you, why not ask Him in today and find out what life really is about because without the author of life, our lives aren’t worth much no matter what you do or who you are.

Without Him we are nothing, with Him we are and have everything!

What is going on?

In our world today there are many problems and wars and diseases. Many people are wondering why would God allow all of this to happen? He allows it because He wants people to look to Him for help but He is not the cause of these problems. Satan is the cause of them because he hates us!

In many ways the old saying of “the devil made me do it” isn’t far from the truth, except that he didn’t make you do anything. He just encouraged and prodded you in that direction, you make the decision. In many ways, our world would be far better off if Satan had not come down here but that was part of God’s plan as well.

God loves us all and wants the best for us but He knew even before we were born that there would be rebellion because there was rebellion in Heaven before the world began. There are some religions today that discount the original sin of Adam, but it happened and we are all inheritors of it. God promised a way of salvation to Eve in the “seed of the woman” and to the rest of us as well. That Promise was Jesus Christ and through His sacrifice on the cross and through the grace that God has given to us through Him we can all be saved from our sins and our sinful nature.

Do we have to do anything to be saved like obey the Ten Commandments or other laws that were handed down through Moses from God? Actually, the answer is no, because we can’t accomplish more than Christ did on the cross! He paid the price needed for our salvation, all that we have to do is believe in Him and His sacrifice and ask Him into our heart to cleanse us so that we can be His.

Choose the life that you were meant to have, the one with Him in it. If you do the rewards will be unbelievable by the world’s standards, if you do not then eternity will be unbelievably long and painful because of your choice alone.