In this life…


As we trudge through this pain-filled life we can see all sorts of contrasts on TV and in the news and sometimes in books too. Here is a quote from a book that I bought and have been reading and it sums up the ending of our lives or the beginning because it is all a matter of perspective.

“There were two friends who had lived long lives. One was a rich man, by the world’s standards, and the other didn’t have much. The rich man was not a Christian but the other man was a strong believer in Jesus. The rich man told one of his visitors one day: I will soon have to leave all of my riches but when he dies, he will gain his.” (quoted from “Where I am” by Billy Graham)

I did paraphrase it a bit but the meaning is clear. The rich man knew that his reward had been granted to him while he was living but the poor man had stored his riches and wealth in Jesus. So the one that the world considered poor was actually rich into eternity. Why do we live like this? Because we want things in this life and many of us don’t look much further than our bank account. But, if you find someone living on Social Security as their “pension”, you will find someone who usually depends on God for their existence. They know that the money will run out most of the time before the month.

Why are there more Christians in China and Africa than there are in America? Because the vast majority of people in those countries live on a fraction of what Americans have, that’s why! Those Christians depend upon their Savior not only because He has given them eternity but because they know that He will meet their needs every day. Some days they will have just enough to make it and maybe tomorrow they might have a little surplus but they will share that with their friends and family. If the church in every country could teach that principle to all believers what a wonderful world we would have.

Jesus told His disciples that “you will have trials in this world, but I have overcome the world“. God never told us in His Word that we would have it easy if we would give our lives to serving Him. Actually, He said just the opposite. Many who are looking for a better life would jump at the chance of an easy life if being a Christian meant that it would be granted to them but that has never been part of the “blessing” since Jesus returned to the Father. God does give us the strength to endure those trials through faith in Jesus but we must seek Him in our good times as well as when things aren’t going so good.

Living the life of a faithful Christian is like a toddler holding your hand while walking on a trail which has some rough areas to cross. The “toddler” Christian will hold “God’s” hand until the trail gets a bit easier to handle then want to run ahead but that is where we need to hold His hand to keep us on the right path even more. Because sometimes when we find a smooth path we also find other “paths” which are even better and easier to navigate and it is tempting to follow those easier paths rather than staying on the pathway that we were following God on. That’s when we get into trouble and have to be led through some bushes and thorns to get back where we should’ve stayed.

Honor God daily


Be not rash with thy mouth, and let not thine heart be hasty to utter anything before God: for God is in heaven, and thou upon earth: therefore let thy words be few. (Ecclesiastes 5:2)

Luke 11: 2-4 2 And he said unto them, When ye pray, say, Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, as in heaven, so on earth. 3 Give us day by day our daily bread. 4 And forgive us our sins; for we also forgive every one that is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.

In Jesus’ model prayer in Luke, we are told to honor our Father in heaven, but do we? Are we really honoring God as Jesus tells us to do or are we just saying words which we have memorized? In Ecclesiastes, Solomon tells us that we should be careful of saying anything from our own mind when we come before God. Why is this? Because God is our Creator and our Provider and it is from His hand of grace and mercy that we live and breathe. While it is true that people haven’t dropped dead because of their words or their lack of respect for God, at least since the time of the apostles. We should honor God and Jesus with our words and our lives.

Think about Who it is that we are speaking of in this instance. We are talking about GOD and His Son, Jesus! The Creator of All that is or ever has been in the entire universe. We aren’t talking about Joe or Bob that we went to school with. Sometimes we give more respect and honor to our grandparents or military veterans than we give to God and that is wrong.

Do you realize that God gives you the air that you breathe and He keeps all of the physical processes going which allows you to think and eat and walk each and every day of your life? With a thought, He could end your life as it is. He could extinguish the Sun if He wished and we would truly see what an ice age would be like because the oceans would freeze solid. Our lives are only ours because God wants us to be here doing the things which we are doing! It isn’t because we are great and wonderful people or some magnificent accomplishments that we have done! He is the reason that we have the ability and the knowledge to be able to do what we do!

God loves us so much that Jesus had to come to Earth and die a horrible death in order to pay for our sins…all of our sins! He did this because He loves each one of us, not because He had to. Jesus could not even pray that “model prayer” because He didn’t have any sins to be forgiven of. It shows us how to pray because we are supposed to give praise to God first and honor Him before we ever say anything about our needs or our sins. Praying that prayer as a “prayer” is like repeating a formula or a recipe. It has all of the elements but it lacks the specifics for us.

I don’t mean that the model prayer is anything less than perfect, but if you pray it exactly the way that Jesus said to, then it is not specific to your needs. He said this is how you should pray, not what you should pray. It is the model of your prayers and mine. Give God His glory and His honor in the beginning of the prayer, repent of your sins and ask for His forgiveness and then seek His wisdom for what you are in need of, then thank God for His mercy and grace that you can bring your prayer to His throne. God already knows what we need, but like an Earthly father, He wants to hear His children come to Him and ask for their needs in humility and faith.

Friends…


Are you a friend to somebody? Do you have many friends that you actually know? Or are you more like me, you have friends that you have known for a long time but life and distance keep you from seeing each other? Many of us are in the same place that I am. We do have friends and have had some for many years but circumstances and distance tend to make the relationship kinda hard to keep alive. Even my relationship with some of my family is tempered by distance and our ability to bridge that distance is tempered by money and time as well.

In many ways, our relationship with Jesus sometimes falls into this same rut. We get caught up in life and our own problems and we push our time with Jesus and His Word to the back of our priority list. Then, sometimes, it gets pushed a little bit more. Then one day we realize that we truly miss our relationship with our Savior and we come back to Him apologizing for being away for so long. Why? Because it was us who moved, Jesus has always been near us. If we are Christians, His Spirit is still there even if we aren’t paying any attention to Him. This happens more often than we would like to admit…to anyone.

Sometimes we get a bit too open with our words and our “opinions” and we hurt each other’s feelings. Sometimes I feel like we do the same thing to Jesus as well, but He forgives us even when we do it more than we should. The best thing that we can remember about friendships is: don’t treat your regular friends like you treat Jesus. Because we take Him for granted all of the time and we should never take our friends for granted. God gave us friends to be there when we need them because until He comes to rule this Earth He isn’t physically here. So our friends are there to be “stand-ins” for Him.

Make sure which friends you have and always treasure their friendship like you would a brother or a sister because in Christ we are all brothers and sisters.

Wisdom comes from God


It seems that many people place their “faith” in books and degrees and they seem to think that the wisdom that they have came from those achievements. Some of it did, at least the mankind of wisdom comes from books and degrees. But what about your common sense? What about the value and wisdom which comes from reading God’s Word?

I’ve heard that there are some who seem to be lacking in the “common sense” department but have you ever thought that their version of common sense may just be different from yours? It may not be the same or work in the same fashion as yours does but it is likely that they have a special case of common sense which fits their position and purpose in this life. Why do I say this? Because God is the One Who gives out “common sense” and I don’t think He makes mistakes.

There are too many physical properties of our universe which have to be so in tune for life to exist to say that God could make a mistake like not giving someone any common sense. He doesn’t make mistakes. But, we seem to want Him to be more like us instead of the other way around. I don’t want God to be like us at all! If He were like us, I’m sure we would not be here!

All of the wisdom in the world was given to us from God. I don’t think that He quit speaking through people just because it isn’t canonized and included in the Bible. What about all of the Christian literature which has His wisdom included in it? True, some of the inclusions are direct quotes from the Bible but there is other wisdom in those books which did not come from the Bible and it is just as wise and true as if Paul wrote it. Do we look down on it because it is “man’s” wisdom rather than from God? How do you know that the Holy Spirit didn’t inspire them to write it? He could be giving me these words too and frankly, I think He always has because I’ve never been a person who talks a lot.

Writing here is my witness to others who may never get to a Christian church and I stand by that conviction. I do believe that the Holy Spirit gives me the words to say here, so please take the time to read His wisdom in these words because I’m not trying to convince you of anything other than the fact that Jesus is the Christ and He is the only Savior Who can save you from your sins and pardon you so you can enter into eternity with Him.

We are destroying our minds


 Scripture — in both the Old and New Testaments — warns us against investing in things which cannot give us anything in return, in pouring our affections and attentions toward the worthless and temporal. Much of that is what many people are doing today. Looking at their phones and at games and tablets. Liking this and texting that and commenting on the new dress that someone bought that you don’t even know. Sometimes praying for people who are hurting from the loss of a loved one but most of the time we spend useless hours looking at things which have no real value to us in this world or for the next one.

Can we get away from this destructive addiction to Snap chat or Facebook? Can we get away from any one of a number of “social media” platforms which are taking too much of our attention away from God and His purpose for our lives? Yes we can but for some it will be a very hard break from a platform which has consumed our attention morning and night for many years. It really is an addiction when you look at it that way and it is getting worse. How can we move back to our lives which we enjoyed before the Internet and Facebook came along? Truthfully, many young people won’t be able to. They have grown up from the time that they could hold a phone or tablet until they are nearing pre-teen years and TV and movies just don’t have the same impact on their lives as their social media does.

They don’t look at it as an addiction but that is exactly what it is. Anything that you begin your day with and go through your day with very little break from it and then you take it to bed with you…I would call that an addiction. It isn’t drugs or anything like that but the opinions and ideas that you are exposed to all day every day get into your mind and into your thought patterns. Eventually those ideas will become your ideas and your opinions.

Christians are supposed to meditate on God’s Word and read it daily so that we can protect our minds from the temptations of life and those from Satan as well. We are not immune from those and if we don’t have God’s Word in our mind, helping us to resist those temptations to say something or do something that we shouldn’t then he will be victorious over our witness. I would rather be addicted to reading God’s Word than to any social media that is available today. Follow Jesus and read His Word because there is at least one person that you will meet tomorrow who needs to hear about your Lord and Savior!

Who are you?


Have you ever wondered this to yourself? Who am I? I don’t know you, but God does. Have you ever thought about that? Why would God want to know me or love me? I’ll tell you why…because He LOVES you! He has loved you and me and everyone else who has ever lived with a love that we can’t understand. Because He is our Creator! He knit your molecules together in such a way that there is no other person nor has there ever been another person exactly like you!

Who are we? If you are a believer in Jesus as your Savior, then you are a child of God and an heir to everything that God wants to give you and He will give it to you. When it is His time to do so. We want it now, today, but God knows that much of His love and the blessings which He has prepared for you and me are not useful right now. Our heavenly home is waiting for us but we can’t live in it right now. The horse that we will ride behind Jesus is waiting in heaven for us but we can’t ride him or her right now. The city which has streets of gold is there but we can’t experience it until we are there. We are blessed and loved and highly favored in God’s sight but we won’t know how much until we get there.

We are blessed and loved and sanctified in Jesus and we are each part of God’s family and it will be a BIG family gathering one day. When that day comes, the world will mourn our disappearance but we will be in the most wonderful place in the universe! We will be with God! How amazing will that be? Living in heaven with our Father, our Creator and our Savior for eternity. Will we be doing anything? Of course we will. God doesn’t save you from the punishment of hell and then condemn you to a life of boredom. We will be working for Him in every capacity that He can give us the ability to do. Consider Who He is. Our Creator and our redeemer. We will have any ability that He wants us to have whether we lived that way in this life or not. Whether we have been a leader or a carpenter or a welder or a police person or a doctor, God can give each of us the knowledge and ability to do His will all through eternity and He will!

Who are you? We are whoever God says we are. We are able to be whatever He says we can be. We are able to do whatever He says we can because He loves us and He never leaves us. He is our Creator and our Redeemer and He is able to give us abilities which we would never have unless He gave them to us and gave us the knowledge to accomplish them. We are His children and we need to be grateful and thankful for each breath we take. Yes, we are loved and we are forgiven and we are His!

Who am I? I am in Christ!

Amen!

God is GOOD!


Psalm 34

Taste and See That the LORD Is Good

A Psalm Of David, when he changed his behavior before Abimelech, so that he drove him out, and he went away.
1 I will bless the LORD at all times;
his praise shall continually be in my mouth.
2 My soul makes its boast in the LORD;
let the humble hear and be glad.
3 Oh, magnify the LORD with me,
and let us exalt his name together!

4 I sought the LORD, and he answered me
and delivered me from all my fears.
5 Those who look to him are radiant,
and their faces shall never be ashamed.
6 This poor man cried, and the LORD heard him
and saved him out of all his troubles.
7 The angel of the LORD encamps
around those who fear him, and delivers them.

8 Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good!
Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!
9 Oh, fear the LORD, you his saints,
for those who fear him have no lack!
10 The young lions suffer want and hunger;
but those who seek the LORD lack no good thing.

11 Come, O children, listen to me;
I will teach you the fear of the LORD.
12 What man is there who desires life
and loves many days, that he may see good?
13 Keep your tongue from evil
and your lips from speaking deceit.
14 Turn away from evil and do good;
seek peace and pursue it.

15 The eyes of the LORD are toward the righteous
and his ears toward their cry.
16 The face of the LORD is against those who do evil,
to cut off the memory of them from the earth.
17 When the righteous cry for help, the LORD hears
and delivers them out of all their troubles.
18 The LORD is near to the brokenhearted
and saves the crushed in spirit.

19 Many are the afflictions of the righteous,
but the LORD delivers him out of them all.
20 He keeps all his bones;
not one of them is broken.
21 Affliction will slay the wicked,
and those who hate the righteous will be condemned.
22 The LORD redeems the life of his servants;
none of those who take refuge in him will be condemned.

Are any of us really OK?


There are so many things wrong with our world today. The stock market is up and down, the debts which our country owes are coming down but not fast enough, the debt which many of us owe to credit companies is out of this world. Are we really doing OK? In many ways, we really aren’t doing very well at all! The debts that we owe on money we don’t really have are only the beginning of our trouble. Then there are the sin debts which many of us still carry around with us, even though they have been forgiven or at least paid for through the blood of Jesus. Whether you or I have accepted His gift of forgiveness or not is up to us and many people still refuse it.

We go through life as if we are guaranteed a certain number of years and even though the Bible does say that we are allotted three score and ten (70 years) or possibly four score (80 years, by our strength), these are not guaranteed! We come within two feet of dying every time we get on the highway, regardless of which city or state you live in! We pass each other going at least seventy-five miles per hour and we are usually as close as 24 inches when we do pass each other. That doesn’t even count for early morning and late day rush hours! At those times, we are usually so close to each other until we could hand a cup of coffee off to one person and it wouldn’t hit the ground for two miles or more. We are truly blessed just to get home without any scrapes or paint missing from our cars or trucks!

Most of the time we don’t even think about these close calls we have that we somehow survived. We just look at it as if it were ordained that we would get home each and every time we go out on the road. The only real guarantees in this world are death and taxes. So why do we live as if nothing can ever or will ever go wrong? We do it when we are young, in our teens and twenties, and we continue to do it until we finally wise up and look around and some of your friends are dying before you. Some of them because of cancer or a heart attack, some of them because of a car wreck or even being robbed or shot while being robbed for something that someone else wants that you have. Are we OK?

It is a good question which really doesn’t have a great answer. Some of us are cruising along and doing pretty well, some of us are dealing with pains and other ailments and some of us are just waiting to die. Then there are some who just don’t care one way or the other, as long as they are doing pretty well they don’t really care what is happening to the rest of the world. There are even a few who can’t forget wrongs which were done, intentionally or not, many years ago. So, how do we get to a point of seeking the One Who can bring us out of this place where we find ourselves?

First, by listening to your conscience and the leading that you get from the Holy Spirit, whether we call it that or not. When you feel led to seek out God and truly find the answer to the problems which plagues mankind, then you will find His Peace through Jesus the Christ, your Savior. There are many times when we feel Him leading us toward a better idea or to search for Something or Someone that we don’t know or don’t have a relationship with but until we find that One, there is an empty place which can’t be filled with anything that we try on our own. That is the place where Jesus belongs and that is why anything other than Him just doesn’t satisfy and it doesn’t feel right until we surrender to His calling and ask Him to come in and fill that space.

Being just “OK” is not what we were made for and God never intended for us to be satisfied with that. God calls to your heart through the Holy Spirit and it is up to you to answer His call for your life. It is your decision to give your heart to Jesus and allow Him to change your life into the life which you were meant to live! If you feel that pull, that call on your life and you ignore it and keep ignoring it then one day you may never feel that pull on your life again. You will wonder what happened for a little while but you will continue on with your life as if nothing happened and in fact, that is what happened. Nothing. Don’t live your life for nothing, live it for Jesus and tell others what He has done and is doing in your life because nothing is scary when it is all that there is for eternity.

What can you do?


It is a question which is asked many times in today’s job market. In trying to figure out what sort of position you may be able to do, you will get this question. Maybe not worded the same but the answer will either get your prospective boss’s attention or they will listen to you and then tell you “I’ll call you”. Which just means, “Next?!”.

In consideration of your eternity and your salvation there is no question like this because there is nothing that you can do to “help” Jesus save you. He’s already done everything necessary to give you salvation through Him! When you feel your Spirit telling you, convicting you that you need Him, the only thing that you can do is believe in Him for your salvation or…not!

It is your decision to accept Jesus as your Savior and believe in His work on the cross which paid for your salvation and then confess Him before your church that you have done these things. Then, get baptized which shows everyone that you have put your old sinful self in a grave and you have risen to walk with Jesus in a new Life!

Becoming a Christian is not some work which you have to do day in and day out in order to earn your salvation. Jesus did all of that perfectly! So when you feel His call on your life, don’t turn away and tell Him that you don’t have time. Because you may be telling the truth…you don’t have any more time to make this decision. Your life may end for some reason today or tonight and you may not get a chance to ask Him into your heart before you really meet Him face to face. If you haven’t asked Him to be your Savior, what could possibly gain you entrance into Heaven? Answer: NOTHING

We can’t do anything in this life to earn our salvation which has already been paid for and there is no amount of money or works or charity which will do that for you either. Did Jesus really give His life for us? Yes! The disciples wouldn’t have died such horrible deaths for a lie. All but one disciple died from crucifixion or being skinned alive or by being beheaded and many other ways. John was the only disciple who died of old age.

Are you sure of your salvation? If you aren’t then read John and the book of Romans. Both of these will point you in the direction and to the Person you need to know, Jesus the Christ!

Provisions


Have you ever thought of the things which you have as provisions given to you by God? They truly are that and more! God has blessed each of us with life and health and hopefully a job so that we can support a family too. Everything that you have been blessed with came from God. Even if you haven’t accepted Jesus as your Savior, these gifts have been given to you from God Himself. Is it possible for your health and your prosperity to have been given to you from Him too? Of course, it is!

You will notice that I said, “provisions” not possessions. Why did I use a different word than the one that many people want to use today? Because God provides us with provisions which we need not possessions which we want! God doesn’t give us our wants, translate as luxuries, He gives us the needs in our lives. He gives you your life, your food, and your home and your family. What does that sound like? Blessings and provision.

God doesn’t hold back the good things of this world from us, whether we have given our lives to Jesus and are followers of Him or not. So how much more could you be doing for His Kingdom if you truly are His follower and a disciple of His? In our technological world today it doesn’t take a lot to be a witness for Jesus in many places other than where you live. Take me for instance. I am disabled and can’t work in a regular job, but I can witness for my Savior all over the world through the power of the Internet.

Granted, my witness here can’t reach those in places where the access to it isn’t there, but it can reach many places.

Your witness and mine are useful to God’s Kingdom in many more ways than just an article on the Internet. We can take our witness with us just as the disciples and the early church fathers did. Witness to others by your actions and your words. Even if you aren’t speaking to someone directly, they will see your actions and hear your words even if you don’t think anyone is listening.

When you have children they hear things that you don’t think they did and it is the same with people everywhere. God loves each of us and He wants you to come to salvation through Jesus. But, unless you hear about Jesus and the salvation available through Him, you won’t know about it until you hear, whether it is by reading something or by a sermon at a church. God provides salvation to those who are seeking it and many won’t seek it until they hear about Him and the hope that is available through Jesus.