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.

Beginning again

Every new year it seems that everyone makes all sorts of “resolutions” to do this or lose that or make more money or spend more time with their family. Why can’t we just resolve to do these things without the change of year? We usually spend time with family and friends during the year anyway, why not make that time into quality time? The kind of time which creates memories that last a lifetime.

Making more money or losing a few inches or pounds is a temporary thing and they really don’t last anyway. Money doesn’t make your life better, only more complicated. Particularly if you make a good deal more than you have in the past. Like the winners of a lottery, a windfall of cash is great for a while but unless you are disciplined about the use of it and the saving of it, the windfall won’t last very long.

The only windfall that we all have access to, that can never be lost or taken away, is salvation through Jesus Christ. All that you have to do to have this is to believe that He died for you and your sins, ask His forgiveness and ask Him to change you into the person that you should be. The rewards may not come in this life while you are here, but you will have a home in eternity and that is a very long time.

The beginning of eternity starts when this life ends, one way or another.

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.

Two roads

In life, there are two roads which seem to be heading to the same place. One of them is much easier and wider because it gets far more traffic. It is worn down and has few rocks and no weeds growing in it or around it. There are many rest stops all along this road which will allow you to sit back and take life easy until you get your bearings again. There are also many places to be refreshed and get a bite to eat all along this road. All of these attractions are beautiful and bright and inviting, never judgmental and with very few, if any, rules that you would find offensive regardless of your lifestyle preferences.

Most of these places along this highway will cater to your every whim and many will provide you with nearly everything that you need to “drown your sorrows” or numb the pain. Actually it looks an awful lot like the strip in Las Vegas except that this strip goes all the way to the end of your life and every other person’s life who finds themselves walking on this pathway. Problems don’t usually happen to people on this road, this pathway, until you get close to the end of your life. It doesn’t really matter what age that may come because the ones running all of the entertainment places also have an intimate knowledge into your life.

One thing that will not be found on this road, at least not an abundance of them, is places of worship. Oh, there are places where you can worship any number of gods or deities that you have encountered along the way but there will be very few churches. They are off the road so you have to get off the path and get on a side road or a trail that goes to them intentionally. Have you ever been on this road? Do you know people on this road today?

The road that I am speaking of leads to nowhere really. It goes to a place of darkness and despair, where there is no light, no water, no Life at all. But while you are on that road, it looks like the most lively and best path that you could take…until you come to the end of your life. Whether you end your life in suicide or at a young age or if you live to be 100, this road takes a sharp turn away from the lively lights and easy feeling. This road leads to hell!

If you happen to get drawn onto a path that leads to a church, it may have obstacles and thistles along the way but the love that you feel when you get there is like nothing on the other road. God’s love is much different from the pleasures that were found on the easy road, the wide road. God loves you with a love that is True and Real and it comes from His Heart, the Creator Himself. He has loved you since the beginning. Not just the beginning of time, but even before then. If you stay long enough and listen to the Word preached at this church, you might decide that you want to follow Jesus the rest of the way.

The road which leads away from the church is still your life, but it is a new life of following Christ. This road is much narrower than the other road and it isn’t as flashy. There is much less traffic and a lot fewer people on this road. You will also notice that it isn’t as easy as the other road to walk on because there will be places which will tempt you to get off of this path. You may meet people who tell you they have found a better way to get where you are going, but they are just taking you back to the other road by a different path. The only common thing that this road has is churches and you will find them all along the way.

The real difference between these two roads is their destination. The broad, easy pathway leads to an eternity of misery, pain and suffering because you are outside the  Love of God and in outer darkness and hell. The narrow path with its winding way and fewer attractions leads to Life everlasting with Jesus in Heaven. There will be no pain or suffering there, no tears or sorrow either. Eternity there will be a continuous joy and full of the Love of God. So….which road will you choose?

You are valuable!

Our Savior, Jesus Christ, said “What does it profit a man to gain the whole world and lose his soul?” I used to wonder what in the world He was speaking of…and now I know. Think of it this way if you can, picture all of the wealth of the entire world! The oil fields, all of the gold and platinum and silver, all of the diamonds and emeralds and rubies and sapphires that you can imagine, all of the real estate and mansions of every nation on Earth…and God considers your soul worth MORE than all of that. Why?

Because, NONE of that wealth will buy your way into Heaven! It is worthless compared to the worth of your soul…just yours! There are billions of people on Earth and God considers just one worth more than the entire wealth of the world! That is why He sent Jesus to die for us, all of us, but He would’ve sent Him even if there was only one more person who would accept Him. Isn’t that AWESOME!!!

God loves you and me and every person on Earth. He doesn’t love the sins that we commit though like using His name as a cuss word or using drugs or alcohol in an abusive way. There are many more sins than this but you know what I’m talking about. You are loved and valued by the Creator and He extends His grace and His love to you every day. You have a chance to accept Jesus as your Savior, while you live here, the problem is that many people think that they have plenty of time to “get right with God”.

That is a lie from Satan! You may be in a wreck tomorrow. You may have a heart attack tonight or tomorrow. You can’t “get right” after you die! The decision is yours but it has to be made as soon as possible! Then, read the Bible and study it because it has instructions for your life and how to live it! Trust in Jesus and His atonement for you because that is all that is required. Baptism is good, confessing your sins is good, but giving your heart to Jesus and believing in Him is what opens the door. The thief on the cross couldn’t get baptized and he didn’t have a chance to witness to anyone or confess his sins…all he did was believe that Jesus was Who He claimed to be, and Jesus said that he would be with Him in Paradise today!

God doesn’t want you to spend one day in hell, but Satan does because he wants to take you away from God’s presence! Life is only in the Prince of Peace and the King of Kings, Jesus the Son of God! Ask Him into your life today!

Time….

We count it and watch it, some days it seems like we don’t have enough of it yet we waste it too. So, what do you intend to do with the time that you have? How much time do you have? How much of it have you thrown away with games and silly things that don’t give you any reward? We look at a new sunrise and think that we have all day to do things when actually we have already lost six hours of that day since midnight. During the spring and fall we get two equinoxes  which give us twelve hours each of daylight and night, but as Jesus said to His disciples: “As long as it is day, we must do the works of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work.” John 9:4

I was curious about the hours and minutes and seconds that we have in a day so I am breaking that down here: In one twenty-four hour period there are 1440 minutes and 86,400 seconds. We tend to use part of those for sleep of course, but the point is that our time is limited. We don’t know for sure how long we will live and yet we fritter it away as if we will have a century or more.

Life begins with our conception but our breathing life begins at birth and from that point on we begin to die physically. Of course for a couple of decades we don’t notice the breakdown of our cells and our bodies, if we are lucky or blessed to be born healthy. Some don’t get that blessing though and are born with built-in limitations, which can be a blessing or a curse depending on how we look at it as we grow. The thing to remember is that GOD DOESN’T MAKE JUNK!

Physical limitations, disabilities or whatever you may call them are just points where we need to learn to lean on God more in our daily lives. The apostle Paul had a thorn that he had to deal with while he was serving the Lord and he asked God to remove it three times, but God told him that “my grace is sufficient for you“. Paul had to learn to live with it, whatever it was and he did some mighty preaching with it until his execution.

Time is given to us in increments of seconds and minutes and hours and days and months and years, but we are never guaranteed a certain amount of time. We get our days just one at a time, and no more. This is why I try to tell people about Jesus and His mercy for your life, provided on the cross and through His resurrection so that our sins are paid for. All that we need to do is to claim this grace and mercy from God.

Once you do, then you can use the remaining days that you have telling others about Jesus in your life. We are given this time to do just that, to tell others about our Lord and Savior. This is God’s will for a Christian’s life. We all don’t have glorious and grand ministries like some on TV do. But, in telling others about Jesus we do have a ministry. Because, God loves all of His creation. He doesn’t like the sins that many seem prone to live in on a daily basis, but He loves the people anyway.

Living a sinful life is not pleasing to God, whether you are a CINO (Christian in name only) or a true, born again Christian. One who truly has had their life and heart changed by the Holy Spirit cannot comfortably commit sin because you are convicted of it when the thought enters your mind even before you do anything with that thought! I don’t mean that Christians are pure and sinless because nobody lived a life on Earth that way except for Jesus.

We can live a life sanctified by Him, washed in His blood, and our records have been wiped clean from that point on, but we will still say things, think things, and do things that are sinful. We can claim His forgiveness for those sins at the point of conviction because we are covered by His righteousness. As long as we don’t choose to go back into a life of sin and ignore the Spirit’s prompting us to stop. We are still His, but like putting a white cloth in the mud we have soiled our life and our soul. If you keep on in your sin, it will get easier to ignore the Spirit’s prompting each time until one day you won’t hear it or feel it at all.

But…God is still with you. He hasn’t left you, you are the one who moved. Come back to Him, seek Him out and He will forgive your sins and take you back. Just because you have gotten off the path, doesn’t mean that you can’t find it again. Give your life and your heart to Jesus and the rest of the journey won’t be easy but He will give you the strength to get through each minute…each second…of each day that is ahead of you.

Have you considered…eternity?

Your life here is not all that there is, we were created to have an eternity to go into after this life, but many people don’t consider that to be truth. Why? Because, they can’t see any of it or any of the rewards and work to be done for God’s Kingdom in it now! There are many teachers today on the Internet, in pulpits, on television who are teaching their “version of the gospel”, which Satan does as well. He has had many years to perfect his delivery of his gospel and just as he did when he tempted Jesus, he takes scripture from the Bible and either leaves a portion out or takes it out of context. Some preachers today do that too.

Their teaching is full of partial scriptures, bits and pieces, which don’t really make much Biblical sense unless they are taught in context with the scripture or passage or paragraph that they began in. A partial truth, leaving out a word or taking Scripture out of context, is a lie! A lie that sounds like it came from God’s Word, and it did but without the text around that verse, it can be made to say almost anything. This is how Satan used scripture, by picking a verse and using it to make his point…not God’s point.

Today, not just in America but all over the world, people are being killed or put in to prison for their belief in Jesus. The problem with this is that Jesus is the only solution to our problems, here and now and into eternity! Put down your “self”, bury him or her and take up the cross of Jesus! What does that mean? It means to put others ahead of you, to be kind to one another, to love one another with an unselfish love. The kind that doesn’t say, “what’s in it for me?”!!

Living this way is following the teachings found all through the Bible, not just what Jesus taught. God has always had the answer for our lives, we are just too stubborn to listen or even look for it in His Word! Then, sometimes, when we do find the answer that we were looking for we claim it as our answer not that it came from God. We don’t give Him the credit or the glory for what we find. This is exactly what most “self-help” books do, maybe not word for word because that is plagiarism, but the advice you see in them is exactly the advice you can find in the Bible.

Eternity is going to be there after this life, but it is the experience in eternity that people should be working now to ensure. If you follow your own ways or the ways of the world, and reject any or all of the teachings found in the Bible, then your eternity is going to be very different from a Christian’s eternity.

I know, many of you will say that I am being self-righteous about Christianity but I am not. My righteousness alone is not enough and yours isn’t either, as a Christian I claim the atonement and the righteousness of Jesus that He paid for on the cross! It was the “self-righteous” priests who had Him executed because they felt that they were going to lose their “position” with the people.

Before too long it is going to be more persecution, not just in America but all over the world and it will be against Christians just as it is in Muslim countries now. For many people the prospect of persecution will be enough to keep them from becoming a Christian. For the immediate future, I understand that, but think of your eternity. Once this life is over, however the end comes, you will be faced with that. Eternal unity with God and many friends in Heaven or separation from God in a place of torment and misery forever. Which would you rather endure since while you still live, you do have a choice?

We truly are…

Vessels of God’s Spirit and we are also where He resides in us and not in a temple.  When  you have given your life to Jesus, you become the home, the dwelling place for the Spirit of God. At this point in time, we are very important to Him because everything that we do or say from that point on reflects on His Kingdom and His Glory. We are His and He is ours because we  have taken His Spirit in to live in us.

So what have you done to let anyone know Who lives inside you? Have you ever even thought about telling someone about your salvation? Many Christians really don’t think about it, but that is exactly what we are told to do by Jesus himself. We are supposed to go and tell the world or as many people as we can. If you are shy, ask God for help in that area.

People should be able to tell if you are a Christian, but in some parts of the world that is a dangerous thing. True, being a Christian is something which takes courage and strength especially today but it has been this way for many years. It is sad that we are walking away from Him and His Wisdom in droves today, many are even running as fast as they can or trying to take as many people with them as possible.

A line has been drawn, from the beginning at Eden, between good and evil, between God and Satan the world that we live in is being pulled and drawn in directions opposing each other. Please, read the Bible. Pray for clarity and understanding so that God can help you to understand His Word and the Truth held within it.

Jesus died for your sins and mine so that we can be forgiven by God. He is the Creator and the One that can see all that is happening today and tomorrow. When we realize this and ask His forgiveness for our sins and then turn to Jesus and allow Him to create in us a pure heart that the Spirit can inhabit, then we can begin to heal our world and our communities.

The only REAL fix and cure for the ills in the world and the problems which are coming in the near future, is Jesus the Messiah. Not Muhammad, nor Buddha or any of the other “man created” saviors of the past few thousand years, but Yeshua is the One and Only Son of God and He is standing at the right hand of God waiting for the order to be given to get the church, the Bride of Christ. When that happens, there won’t be anything holding the real evil in this world back any longer.

God’s Word is True and it is the Truth. Why or how could you get a book written by about forty different men, separated by hundreds or thousands of years and yet their writings all point, in some prophecy contained within, toward Jesus? It isn’t possible today and it wouldn’t have been possible then, but the Hebrew people who kept the records made sure that the Word and the laws that they were writing down were accurate.

Please read Romans 8, the whole chapter, and see that a man who had tried to destroy the church actually built most of it by his writings and by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. Paul wrote 13 books out of the New Testament, he had been trained as a Pharisee, he knew the Torah and all of the writings by memory. Yet, it took an encounter with the glorified Jesus on the road to Damascus to bring him to belief and he did!

What do you believe?

Have you tried many different religions and not yet found the one that you are comfortable with? Have you gone to classes in yoga and felt strange afterward? Today, there are many, many different religions and belief systems which you can try out for a while and many of them actually seem to be saying the same thing, for the most part. Which is why, in my opinion, people seem so confused about religion and its place in our life. Why is it so important? Why is religion or any belief system important to us? Because God created us to need something or Someone in this way.

We tend to feel it as an empty place or feeling like something is missing, but we don’t really know what is missing or why we feel this way. I noticed it when I was a teenager and I had no idea what was missing. I thought at the time it was because my parents were divorced when I was really young but that wasn’t it. It took many years for me to really find out what I needed or rather Who I needed. Even when you find out about God and Jesus and try to put them in that place, you eventually realize that you can’t put them there.

It has to be a mutual call, a knock on your heart’s door so to speak. Then you can ask Jesus to come in and change your life and your heart. Once you do that, you will find that empty place is not empty anymore. If you were sincere in your decision to ask Jesus into your life then you will always have Him there regardless of where you are or what may be happening. God loves you and He wants you to be His representative to the world. All that you have to do is ask Him into your heart and ask His forgiveness for your life before He came into it.

The only rules that He asks you to follow is to follow Jesus in obedience by telling others about Him and what He has done for you and your life. There is no war to be fought, no people to be conquered, and He doesn’t force people to worship Him because forced worship isn’t real worship, because you can force someone to love you and that is what worship is! God does love you deeper and more completely than anyone and all that He asks is for you to return His love willingly.

Any relationship is this way, if it is based on true love, but some people think that God won’t love them unless they love Him first. That is backward because God loved ALL of us before He made this world that we live on, all that He expects is to be loved in return for the grace and mercy that we have been given! When we love Him in return it is because we were loved first!

Seek Him out in the Bible and learn of His ways because He loved the world and all of His creation before any of us were ever created or born into it.