It is well with my soul

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I’ll get back to you…

How would this attitude feel if you had to put up with it every week or so? It is amazing that God’s patience with us has lasted so long. Especially in light of the fact that the world that He created didn’t last as long before the flood as it has since Jesus’ resurrection! People go to church or to synagogue each week and then go home and act as if they never met the Creator!

While it is true that we don’t meet Him face to face in our religious meetings each week, we are supposed to be seeking Him out to find out Who He really is and get to know Him better. But…do you? We leave our worship services with a vague notion of Who He is or Who Jesus is IF our teacher or preacher is teaching from God’s Word. It seems that many of us go out the door and mostly forget what we have heard or what we have read about in our Bibles!

It is as if the “meeting” that we attend each week is just a meeting of other people who are religious about meeting at this place and time. It seems that our reason for going to church is to be seen by others and not to learn about why we come to worship or even Who it is that we are coming to worship! We pray and sing a few songs and listen to our teacher/preacher telling us stories from his perspective or sometimes from the Bible and then we go home thinking that we have been taught what we need to know.

So let me ask you this: What did you learn about Jesus on Sunday? Do you remember what the sermon was about or the scripture that it was taught from? Did you even tell anyone about what you learned at church and invite them to come and hear about the man, Jesus, who is the Savior of us all?

Some of you did, many more who attended church this past weekend did not. Some even sat with an earphone from your iPod or iPhone stuck in your ear or you just tuned the sermon completely out.

“I’ll get back to you” is a phrase that is used in many areas of life but it shouldn’t be used when you are speaking to or learning from God and His Word! Why? Because you might not get back. The sinner’s prayer is easy to say but it has to come from a sincerely broken heart, one that knows that it is a sinner and that it has sinned and that it needs God, it needs Jesus! You can recite it just as many of us learned to do with the “Pledge of Allegiance” when we were young, although they don’t do that anymore because they don’t want to offend anyone.

The sinner’s prayer goes something like this:

Jesus, I know that you are Lord of Heaven and Earth. I know that you came here to die for my sins, and you proved yourself as the Son of God by rising from the dead after being crucified. I am a sinner and I need You for my redemption. Jesus, I accept you into my life and ask for your forgiveness for me.  Amen.

That is all it takes. If you know that you need Him don’t “get back to Him”, ask Him to come into your heart and He will be there forever.

Life and time

Each of us is given these from the moment we are born. How much of either we will enjoy is up to God. Life is our daily walk through our time here, sometimes it is easy, sometimes it is hard, at other times it is a blend of the two whether we enjoy it or not.

Why we live and learn the way we do is a question for God alone, not the doctors or even your parents. Life teaches us wisdom with enough time. Sometimes we learn from it and sometimes we need a refresher, but eventually we do get it.

Why am I writing a short piece on this topic today? I just felt reflective this morning, so feel free to use these words to inspire your own journey, your own learning. If, that is, you can spare the time to learn about Life.

The Life which I speak of here is the giver and sustainer of Life, Jesus Christ. Your life and mine depend upon Him or at least they should. Give Him a bit of your day each day and you will learn of the ways that He can teach you and the wisdom contained within His Words in the Bible. Whether you believe in Him or not, He is the One Who woke you this morning, gives you the strength to go through your day and the ability to interact with your world.

No part of our world or the universe could exist without Him, without His strength and His guidance because it is all under His direction and control! He is the Creator and sustainer of it all. Look up the protein which exists in your cells which is the “glue” which holds them together, it is called laminin and here is a picture of it.

I knowlaminin.jpg that it looks like a cross, but I think that He designed it just that way so that scientists will see His hand in our world and in each one of us. God loves each of us enough that we will never understand His love until we are in His Presence. There is no evolutionary reason that this molecule, this protein should look this way. It is this way because He designed it this way!

Your life and mine as well as the time that we have to enjoy it are given to each of us in order to allow us the opportunity to learn about Him and that we truly need Him. You can ignore Him if you wish, you can say that He is not real and that there is no hell or Heaven. New age believers think this way and they think that they are god but they are going to find Someone different when their life ends.

Seek Jesus out while you have the time to do so, because it is only while you live that you are given the chance to ask Him into your life. Once this life…this time is over, there is no second chance.

Suffering..

God, unlike some of the sermons that are heard and preached, doesn’t allow you to suffer. Yes, He is in control. Yes, He told Satan to test Job and Peter but His Spirit was there with them even through all that they went through. God gave them the strength to go through what they had to suffer but He did NOT cause their suffering. God’s only reason behind the testing was to prove to Satan the faith that His servant, Job, had in Him.

We are not made to suffer by a loving God. Jesus did not make Peter suffer, though He did tell Peter that Satan had asked to “sift him as wheat“. He also told Peter that He had prayed for his strength to stand against his sifting. Peter failed because he denied Jesus three times, though truthfully Jesus had also told Peter ahead of time that he would do this as well. Our God and our Lord know us better than we know ourselves, we may think our faith is strong only to find that is not the case in the time that we face a trial.

The most positive point that I can give you here is that after Jesus was resurrected, He forgave and restored Peter. Afterward, Peter became one of the most faithful of His disciples.

We can too! IF we will learn to give our hearts and our faith to God completely, unashamedly and without reserve! This kind of commitment is not impossible, couples who are committed to each other in marriage do it. So, why can’t we give this kind of service and commitment to our Lord and Savior when He gave His life for us?

True, He knew that He could take His life up again but His human body still had to endure the suffering and the pain of the scourging and the cross! That part of Him that was God, had to endure something worse…the separation from His Father during the time on the cross! Something which He had never had to experience from eternity past! A suffering that we, as Christians, won’t have to endure. Those who refuse to believe in Him and live their lives for Him will endure that separation forever, tormented by the fact that their belief in Jesus could’ve saved them from it.

That is the punishment of hell. Yes, there may be a lake of fire. It is mentioned in Scripture, weeping and gnashing of teeth are also mentioned. The torment most grievous will be the separation from God and everything that is good and light and cool. Consider this, search the Bible for your answers, seek out Jesus while you still draw breath because when you die…there are no do-overs, no second chances, no re-spawn to life! That’s it!

What will you do with your life? What are you expecting in eternity? Not believing in eternity now will not change the fact that God says there is an eternity after this life. Make sure of yours while you can.

Blessing and favor

Life that we live never really seems to be one of blessing and favor, yet we can’t see it. Why? It is because few people can discern which is the blessing and favor and the trials that are required in your life to get to that point. No, I am not saying that you have to suffer to be blessed, but sometimes we feel that way because we thought we had the best. The best house or car or something that is accepted by the world as a blessing, yet when we lose it or it is taken from us we feel that we are being put through all sorts of trials and trouble.

If you will recognize that God gives blessings to those who joyfully recognize the One who can provide greater blessings and more than you could have expected. God is the Creator of the whole universe! There are more gold molecules in space than we could use in this world and God owns ALL of it! Don’t you think He could provide even a little for you and even a little from God is more than we know what to do with!

God can take five loaves of bread and two fish and feed 5,000 men not including the women and children, approximately fifteen thousand people if they had only one child each. Since He can do that, don’t you think that your tithe or offering given in joy and with faith in Him can multiply into more than you could ever need to accomplish His purposes in your life and ministry? He can do it, if you are willing and if you are not looking for a hand-out but with intentions grounded in the Word of God to do greater things than you could before!

Your best, meaning your big house or your Mercedes, is nothing compared to God’s best for you. A big house or a fancy car are things which the world recognizes as markers of a successful life, but that is not the way that God sees success. He sees success as helping those in need, giving to those who don’t have enough, making sure that someone who has very little has enough to live without worry. In other words, God wants you to be blessed so you can bless others…not just buy stuff for yourself.

We celebrate the birth…

Nativity-29Though many are more into the commercial aspect of Christmas these days, we truly should be celebrating the birth of our Savior. But, what about the love that He expressed from God toward all of us thirty years or so later. What was it that brought Him to Jerusalem at Passover to be offered up as a perfect lamb for the sins of the world?

He did it because of love. The love for mankind that He had and that He had seen expressed through the Father since Creation. He did it because His Father sent Him to the world to show the love of God to mankind. Everyone seems to look at the Jewish high priests who were scared of Him and blames them for getting Jesus crucified but they were only part of the equation.

God had put all of the parts in motion when He told Eve and Adam that the Seed of the woman would come one day and crush the serpent’s head. Though God had known that it would be necessary for this to happen even before He said “Let there be light!”. Nothing in the universe takes God by surprise because He is in control of it all, whether we agree with Him or like how He does things or not.

God looked into time before it started counting and He saw you and me and He knew that we needed a Savior. The only One that could fill that requirement and the sacrifice that would be needed was the Son and He would have to come as a baby born of a woman by God’s Spirit. No Earthly man could fulfill the requirement for a Savior, only One Who had the nature of God Himself, unstained by the sins of previous generations.

What was it that held Jesus on the cross? Many would say that it was the Roman nails of which there were three. Some would say that He was put there because His people rejected His teachings and His offer of salvation. The truth is that it was love which held Him there. He had more love and compassion for His people, not just the Jewish people but ALL of us, than He could express in His life.

So, with His death He provided a way for all of us to be saved through belief in Him and His life. Also, the message which He brought to us through His teachings and His disciples which the church is supposed to be taking to the rest of the world until He comes again. His birth brought joy into the world because of God’s love for man. His death and resurrection brought salvation to us through our belief in Him and His love for us.

What more could we ask for? A perfect world? We wouldn’t be satisfied with it. All the money we could ever need? It would be nice for a while, but ultimately if everyone on Earth had all that they needed, they would still want more. We are offered eternity through Jesus’ life, burial and resurrection if we will accept it humbly and believe in Him. There is no greater gift that we could be given than that.

Our country…

This was the land of the free and the home of the brave at one time. It still is the land of the brave because we have brave men and women in our Armed Forces who are doing what they do best to keep us free. The problem is that our freedoms, that they are fighting for even today, are being systematically taken away or changed so that we don’t have as much freedom anymore.

Life is changing bit by bit and it doesn’t seem to be getting better, it is getting more dangerous by the day.

Our only hope for any future lies with Jesus Christ! Putting your faith in Him will give you hope and a future, at least one in eternity and it will give us a chance at one thousand years of peace under the rule of Jesus. Life is precious to God and He cares for all of us, if we are to have a future then we should put our trust..our faith in the One Who created it all and holds it together in His Grace and power.

This is not a lengthy post, I only want to point all of those who read this toward our Savior, Jesus Christ. It is in Him that we have a future and our eternal destiny rests in His Grace and His love for us. Consider this when you look for a reason for tomorrow and a reason to live.

Miracles

Do you believe in miracles happening today? Some people do because they have seen people healed when there was no chance that medicine could accomplish it. Others look at all of the problems in the world and think “Why bother? God doesn’t care anymore.”

Yes, He does. He has never stopped caring for the world and those in it. His grace for each of us today is for us to have the chance to come to know Him. He waits for us to decide to come into His Presence, and yet many are turning away because of apathy and mistrust and just plain tiredness.

Why do I say this? Because…it is true. Young people especially have turned away from God, even with the fancy churches and the concerts. Small churches which can’t afford those entertaining ways of getting your attention are losing people under forty by the thousands today. Why?

Because of boredom. In today’s world, where technology reigns supreme, people young and old just don’t get the wisdom in the Bible. It’s not flashy enough. It’s not loud enough and it doesn’t keep their attention long enough. Think about this for a moment.

Anyone born since 1980 has had video games, music videos, computers, cell phones (smart or not), and many other techno-gadgets in their lives at all times. None of this generation knows what it is like to be disconnected from family or friends because one way or another they have all had some form of communication available. Look in a crowd at a concert and see if you can count the number of screens lit up, even at a movie. Depending on the size of the crowd there will be hundreds if not thousands, so even in a venue where their attention is supposed to be focused on the stage or screen, they are usually focused on a small screen.

The only reason this doesn’t happen at my church is because it is in an area where there isn’t much cell coverage, so there isn’t any reason to look at the screen…no connection. That is also why the church is losing people in droves…no connection. How can you connect young people to a Savior and their Creator when they can’t touch Him or Google Him?

God cares for you and me. He loves each of us more than we can understand, and yet we latch on to doctrine and dogma made up by men. Just as those in the past did. The Law of Moses was held in high esteem, but it couldn’t save their souls. All that they Law could do was to point out that they couldn’t perform to perfection, that we can’t live or perform to perfection. The doctrine or discipline that some churches and their congregations cling to is no different, even though it is worded differently.

Man-made rules cannot be above God any more than we can be. His Way through Jesus is the only way to salvation, anything other than Jesus leads to death…the kind that never ends. Separation from God for eternity because of your choices, your choice, not because of any act or sin on your part except for the rejection of Jesus as your Savior. This is the unforgivable sin, and usually pride is the culprit which causes you to think that you can do better. That you can get into Heaven without Jesus.

Not possible. The door narrow and small in such a way that only you can get through with Jesus leading you in. Nothing that you have on Earth, whether it is money, power, fame or whatever it may be will help you be sinless and pure in heart enough to get into Heaven. Only through the blood of Jesus and your repentance of your sinful lifestyle whatever that may be will get you there. Some can wait until they are in the electric chair or the table to be killed by an injection in prison because they know the day and hour of their death. Most of us don’t have that luxury. Our death could come any time.

Seek Him in the Bible and pray that you can choose to follow Him for the rest of your days.

God is real and Jesus is the Way

In life and in death, Jesus is the Way to a life more abundant. I did not say a life of riches and wealth or fame, an abundant life is one that has hope, abundantly and steadfastly in Jesus! You might say to me, “Why can’t I be good enough to get to Heaven on my own initiative?” Because the Bible says that without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins. God had to kill animals in Eden to cover the sinful situation that Adam and Eve had gotten themselves into. Jesus died and shed His blood, as the Son of God, in order to cover the sins of the whole world. Everyone in the whole world is covered by His blood, all of your sins are covered by it, all of my sins are covered by His blood and it is offered to all to claim in belief and repentance with no other requirement than believing in Jesus’ sacrifice for them.

Simple faith and belief, like a child, is all that is necessary. When you feel the Spirit telling you that you need Him, that you need Jesus, don’t turn away. Don’t walk out on Him and the salvation that is being offered. God does love you, more deeply than you can know and He wants to call you, if you are willing to answer. The gods that are in temples all over the world will not help you. Belief in yourself and your ability to be a good, moral person is nice but it won’t take you into the gates of Heaven.

Doing all of these things, other than believing in Jesus, is like building a bridge over a huge river out of cardboard and paving it with paper. As long as the river is dried up and there isn’t any water (troubles) to cross, it may hold up pretty well for foot traffic. But, if there is a flash flood or lightning strikes it, your bridge is gone. Another analogy would be like standing on sand, it is fine and it feels good until the waves start raking it from under your feet. Then, you either go with it or you back away from it but it is no longer stable.

The only solid foundation for faith which can save your soul from hell, is Jesus Christ. Believe in Him and repent of your old ways, following Him by seeking Him in God’s Word every day. Pray about the things which are wrong in the world, ask Him to help you to understand the Bible and its wisdom. Look to Him for your strength in sickness and in health, on good days and bad because He is always near if you have asked Him into your life and into your heart. God and Jesus both know what you have done, when it was done and where. There is nothing hidden from them.

“But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” Matthew 6:33