God is in control (part 2)


God-In-In-ControlIf you have ever thought about God being in control or even whether He is or not, the earlier post should give you some insight into His presence and persistent control.

Satan has to ask permission to touch or otherwise trouble Christians, but the rest of the world he can get into their lives as easy as walking in the door. The entirety of Creation is God’s possession and His responsibility but He loves mankind above all. It is a mystery to most regarding His love for us, especially the angels because no other created-being gets His attention like mankind has had in all of Creation.

God has always protected and watched over those who He calls to do His work on Earth. Some of them have had a “pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night“, others have had “ravens to feed thee” in Elijah’s time of persecution, but all of this is because of God’s love for us and His people Israel.

Don’t think that because these two instances were in the Old Testament that God won’t do things similar today. He does and He will do this and more, but we won’t hear about it because the media ignores most “good news” today. Especially if it seems that it may have a miraculous component to it and one which can’t be explained away. God provides us with air and water and many other things which are needed for living and yet we take all of them for granted.

Why do we do this? Because much of the world’s population doesn’t really believe in God or in His power to keep us safe and protect us. Most of the world thinks that our protection is due to natural forces which can be scientifically explained. How did the physical laws in the universe come into being? They didn’t just magically appear as evolutionists say! That kind of thinking requires more faith in an accidental process than I can muster.

God is in control and He isn’t made up of “dark matter” or quarks or any of those particles which show up when atomic nuclei are smashed into each other at near the speed of light. He created all of them and they do as they are told to do in this universe because He is in control.

Seek out His Word and His wisdom which is contained within its pages because it is only there where the Truth of everything which is needed for each of us is found. Jesus gave His life for your soul, surely you can give your heart and your life to Him for your own salvation and that of your family as well!

Prosperity or pampered


Why don’t we call Christians out for subscribing to a pampering gospel, one that makes them feel safe, and keeps them within the confines of their comfort zones? There are also teachers who are preaching a gospel which promotes the idea that anything that you feel a need for can be asked for in Jesus’ name and it is yours. God is not a genie and the name of Jesus is not a magic word to get anything and everything that you feel that you need.

During His ministry, Jesus didn’t even heal every person who was in the crowd or near Him. Could He have done that? Yes, He could but that wouldn’t have given the glory to God if He had. He could’ve just thought or spoken the words over those who were seeking a healing in the crowd but how would God have gotten the glory for that? He healed people specifically and He raised some people from the dead, again specifically.

At the tomb of Lazarus, if Jesus had not said his name, every person in the graves around his would’ve come forth! The miracles which He performed were very specific to those who were seeking them. As for prosperity, Jesus said that it was as hard for a rich man to enter into the Kingdom of heaven as it was for a camel to go through the eye of a needle. Whether that was an actual gate into Jerusalem, as I have heard before, or not I am not sure. The point is that it is very difficult for a wealthy person to give their life and their heart to believe in Jesus for salvation.

Just as the rich, young ruler, which prompted Jesus to say those things, came to Him asking how he could get into Heaven. Jesus asked him about his religious life and he told Jesus that he had kept all of the Law during his life, so Jesus told him to sell all that he had and give it to the poor so he would have riches in Heaven, but since he was wealthy he went away saddened.

Jesus did not teach that we were all to live as paupers but He also taught that unless your heart was focused on the Kingdom of God rather than riches, then having wealth did you no good either. Regarding wealth Jesus said,  25 “For how would a man benefit to gain the whole world but destroy his soul or lose it?” Luke 9:25

By this Jesus meant that your soul individually is worth more than all of the wealth of the world! God loves you and cared enough for your salvation to send His Son to take your place on the cross in order to pay the price for your soul and mine and every person on the Earth. This is the gift of God to each of us which we can’t pay for and yet it is offered to us freely through belief in Jesus for our salvation.

Jesus also said that we are to take up our cross each day and follow Him. What does He mean by that? He means that for each of us there is something in our life, like the rich young ruler, that we need to nail to the cross and give it to Him each day then follow Him each day throughout our lives. Salvation is not a one day or one decision commitment, it is a daily commitment which we are to do in our lives. Does that mean that we have to work for our salvation?

No! Salvation is the gift of God through grace by belief in Jesus. We must move through life becoming more like Him and to do that we have to learn more about Him through the study of His Word in the Bible. Putting away the temptations of our old life by study and prayer. Being His is easy when we realize that we need Him, becoming more like Him is the so-called “work” which we do each day through prayer and study of the Bible.

Jesus only taught His disciples for three years while He was here, but they kept meditating on His teachings throughout their lives while they were teaching and preaching to the churches in the first century. They lived in prayer and meditation on His teachings every day and that is what we should be doing too.

 

Are you a good Samaritan?


Jesus’ parable about the good Samaritan is one which is about being a true neighbor in the likeness of Jesus and His teaching on the subject. So why is it so hard for us, even in the church, to practice and DO this!? Is it because we are too selfish or are we too scared to admit that we can’t do it?! Read this and listen to the wisdom within it:

The Parable of the Good Samaritan

25And, behold, a certain lawyer stood up, and tempted him, saying Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life? 26He said unto him, What is written in the law? how readest thou? 27And he answering said Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself. 28And he said unto him, Thou hast answered right: this do, and thou shalt live. 29But he, willing to justify himself, said unto Jesus, And who is my neighbour?

30And Jesus answering said, A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, which stripped him of his raiment, and wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead. 31And by chance there came down a certain priest that way: and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. 32And likewise a Levite, when he was at the place, came and looked on him, and passed by on the other side. 33But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was: and when he saw him, he had compassion on him, 34And went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him. 35And on the morrow when he departed, he took out two pence, and gave them to the host, and said unto him, Take care of him; and whatsoever thou spendest more, when I come again, I will repay thee. 36Which now of these three, thinkest thou, was neighbour unto him that fell among the thieves? 37And he said, He that shewed mercy on him. Then said Jesus unto him, Go, and do thou likewise.

As Jesus said, “Go and do thou likewise”. This is a command from our Lord and the church should honor and obey this command but we aren’t doing it wholeheartedly. We do things a little at a time. Why? Are we afraid of doing this because it isn’t politically correct? We shouldn’t be worried about this! We should be getting out there and doing the things which our Lord told us to do!

The family down the road who doesn’t have enough food for their children would be happy to get a couple of sacks of good food. The man in your church, who needs someone to visit him because he has lost his wife and is alone again could use some fellowship. There are many in our immediate family who would appreciate a visit or a meal or even a trip to get out of the house once in a while…these are your neighbors so go and do as the Samaritan did and see to their needs whatever they might be.Good deeds

I will rejoice in the Lord


Habakkuk 3: 18-19: Yet I will rejoice in the Lord; I will be joyful in God my Savior.  The Sovereign Lord is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to tread on the heights.”

When you get a bad diagnosis at the doctor’s office, rejoice in the Lord. When your day doesn’t go very well for you at work…rejoice in the Lord. When you wake in the morning, rejoice in the Lord!

Why do we need to rejoice in the Lord during times of good and in times of bad things? Because we are to give thanks in everything and rejoice in the Lord Who is your Strength and your shield in times of distress and in good times as well. God is always near to His children and even to those who don’t believe in Him and His goodness. He will be there when you call because He is always near you regardless of your circumstances.

There are some friends of mine and some family members too who are going through treatments for cancer or joint problems or recovery from surgeries or from the loss of loved ones and yet God is present in all of their daily problems or in their rejoicing over a good outcome. He is near to all of us when things are good, even though we may not seek Him in those times. He is also near when things aren’t going so well and in those times we usually do seek His favor and His help.

Regardless of your idea about how you get salvation or even prove your salvation, God is near your heart and He loves you. Jesus died for you and paid that debt, all that each of us need to do is to turn to Him when we feel His touch in our hearts convicting us of our sinfulness. If you haven’t done so, please seek Him out while there is yet time in this life.

You don’t get a second chance after this life is over, regardless of what Satan may tell you, he is a liar and always has been. Jesus has never forsaken anyone but there are many who have turned away from Him because of something that they heard from someone else and they believed them rather than Jesus.

I pray that all who read this will seek Him out in your time of need or in your time of good fortune because it is God Who gives you the strength to live through both.

What is the Truth?


For many people in our world today it seems that the “truth” is relative to your situation, whatever that may be. Relative truth is a truth which changes with your area whether it is your business or your residence or the country where you live. But, why is the truth so flexible today? Is it because people don’t want it to be a certain truth? Or maybe it is because each person wants their truth to be one way and they don’t care what your truth is?

The truth of the matter is that Truth is from God and only if you believe in Him will you accept the Truth from His Word!

Our world today seems bent toward NOT accepting His Truth because it is an absolute and they don’t like the absolute part of it. God loved us enough to send Jesus to pay our sin debt in full so that we could learn about His Truth and His love for us through Him. Yet today, we don’t want to learn that Truth and we try as hard as we can to push it away from our schools and our homes.

Many people want to know why is there so much violence and hate in the world today and it is because we have pushed God and His Wisdom out of our education system and out of our homes as well. Many churches today even preach a more “acceptable” gospel, one which makes everyone feel good about themselves rather than preaching His love and His grace to all who will hear it.

Jesus didn’t pull his punches verbally when He spoke to the priests in the Temple and we shouldn’t water down His gospel when we preach it to those who are listening either. God loves you but He will not accept your sinful life into Heaven. Which is why Jesus and John the Baptist said that we should “repent of our sins and be baptized”. Baptism isn’t required to be saved, but it does symbolize the death of our old life buried with Jesus and resurrected to walk in a new Life with Him!

Your old life is what you were convicted of when the Holy Spirit touched your heart and let you know that you were sinful and you needed to be saved through the blood of Jesus. Place your old life, whatever it was, on the cross and leave it there to die. Then ask Jesus into your heart for your creation into a new Creature in Jesus! From that day on, walk with Him, read His Word and pray about what you read so your mind will be renewed along with your Spirit!

Jesus said “seek and ye shall find, knock and it shall be opened” because no person is turned away if they are sincere in their search for salvation. God wants all to come to know Him, but there are few who will make that commitment to Him. Walking every day in the newness of Life which Jesus gives to us is not an easy walk or task. It takes discipline and commitment to walk as He did and learn from Him each day. Which is the reason that it is a pathway or a stairway to Heaven when following Jesus. The way that many people find is the one which they feel comfortable walking and it is not leading them to Heaven, even though Satan makes them think so.WhereAreYouGoing

What is freedom?


Freedom is the ability to enjoy certain liberties without being persecuted for enjoying them.

The dictionary meaning of freedom is this: the power or right to act, speak or think as one wants without hindrance or restraint. “We do have some freedom of choice”

  • the absence of subjection to foreign domination or despotic government.

We enjoy freedom not only because of the sacrifice of our soldiers in times of war and peace, but because of our law enforcement officers and other emergency response personnel too.

We also enjoy an amount of freedom from the burden of sin in our lives when we have given our hearts and our lives to Jesus and repent of our old way of life. Being a Christian is not just saying some words and getting wet by being baptized, it is a lifestyle and a relationship with Him. When you have given your life to Him you can enjoy the freedom that comes with it knowing that you have walked away from your old life.

Our freedom in Christ also gives us the ability to do and say those things which need to be said and done in the presence of others who may not know Jesus. Turn away from the drinking and smoking and give thanks for your freedom today so that others may want what you have in this life and may move on to an excellent eternity in the next.Pray-for-strength

Vanity and pride


The two most destructive and seductive sins in the world are vanity and pride. Why? Because they are tied together and they form the foundation for almost all sins in our world today. These two are also responsible for Lucifer’s sin and his rebellion against God’s authority above all. You would think that writing about these might be easy, but it really isn’t. Because I don’t wish to offend my followers nor anyone else who might come upon this site.

These two emotions cause sinful feelings toward oneself and toward others because they tend to make us feel more important than we really are. The problem with that is when we consider those feelings of superiority to others, Satan comes to us and we begin to believe that we truly are better or more important. This is not a phenomenon which affects us before we become Christians it also affects our church leadership sometimes.

Can these be overcome? Yes, with much Bible study and prayer hopefully before these feelings get out of hand in your life or in the life of someone you know or love. God has a plan for each of us and if we don’t seek out that plan through the study of His Word and prayer, then we won’t know what that plan may be. The sins of vanity and pride are such that they have brought down rulers of many kingdoms in the past and they bring the careers of many today to a halt.

Learning about God’s love for us through His Word and by studying it is the only real way to know what His Will for your life is. Prayer along with that study keeps us in contact with God, not only at the time of our study, but all during our daily life walking with Him.

While it is true that there is a good type of pride there is also a pride which leads to destruction which is where vanity comes in. Essentially, vanity and pride are two different sides of the same coin. They aren’t separate just different. Like light and dark, one is the presence of light and the other is the absence of it. You can’t make a dark lamp because light drives away the darkness. Pride in your accomplishments or your children’s accomplishments is fine but when you think of yourself or of your child as being better than others then you are straying into the vain area of pride.

Humble

Pride goes before a fall. God has given us a glimpse of His Wisdom in our Bibles, His Word which we have access to in our world today, don’t ignore it or turn away from it. Because God loves you more dearly than you can imagine and it is in your best interest that He has placed the knowledge needed for your life and mine in His Word. All you should do in this life is covered there so learn from it and seek Him while you read it. Amen.

No boundaries


In the world today there are borders which are not visible on the ground which separate nations from each other. But there is no boundary between us and God Himself, at least not anymore. When Jesus said that “It is finished” on the cross the curtain between the Holy Place and the Holy of Holies ripped from top to bottom. This didn’t happen because of an earthquake or by someone cutting it but because of the Holy Spirit giving access to God’s mercy seat.

Why did this happen? Because the sinless Lamb of God had died and paid the price for all of mankind, not just a few people but for all who had lived and died in the past, the present and in the future where we are today! God’s love doesn’t have any boundaries, regardless of the rhetoric that we hear in the world. His love is such that He gave a part of Himself, His Son, to pay for all of our sins so that we can have access to Heaven and to Him. Nobody else would do that!

The question for us today is this: Do you set boundaries in your life where God is NOT welcome? If you do then you are limiting His work in your life and through you for the world around you. God loves each of us and He will draw each of us to Him when we feel the conviction of our sinful ways. That conviction comes through the Holy Spirit and each time that you feel it, if you have pushed it away or ignored it, it will get a little bit weaker and not quite as loud. Until one day, you may not feel it or hear it at all.

Don’t push Him away. Listen for His call on your life because it doesn’t matter what you may have done in the past, God is willing to forgive and take you into His family. Paul and Moses had both committed murder, yet God used them in mighty ways! Your life can be a witness to others who may believe wrongly that they can’t be saved, but they can be if they are willing to repent of their sins and follow Jesus.

The Bible is God’s Word and it is not just some old dusty book written by a bunch of old men! It is the Living Word! The Bible is a testament of God’s love for us and it is the tangible representation of the Son of God that we have today. John called Him the Living Word and that is what the Bible is as well. Each person who reads it gets a different message from the same passages because He speaks to each of us differently.

Don’t turn away from Him or the study of His Word because it is the mind of God which was given to us for instruction and training and for wisdom in this life! There is no education in the world which contains the wisdom in this Book except maybe a few seminaries where future pastors are trained. God loves us and He is coming back soon, so be watchful and be praying for those who haven’t given their lives to Jesus.

Encouragement


Son of encouragement. That is what Barnabas was called in the book of Acts, in fact, that is what the name means. His actual name was Joseph and he was from Cyprus. He was very prominent in the early church. Why do I mention him here? Because each of us needs an Encourager. Yes, the Lord is also an Encourager and gives us the encouragement we need through the reading of His Word. So, why do we need another to give us more?

Because we have all encountered setbacks and problems along the way. Sometimes it is because of depression or other things which are “bringing us down” and we need someone to cheer us up. We are so bombarded by updates and news today in this world of 24/7 connected devices until it is hard to make sense of it all. Decompression and relaxation doesn’t happen when we take a vacation anymore. Because we are never disconnected from our phones or our tablets or laptops!

God did not intend for us to live our lives like this every day! Years ago the prediction was that computers would make our lives easier and our work would be less. That didn’t happen at all! Now that we have smartphones, which amount to pocket-sized computers, we are never away from news and work-related content! Even when we are in places where there is limited service we feel as if we are in danger because we can’t contact someone or be contacted.

So a bit of encouragement is needed especially today and particularly now. It keeps us going when the times get a bit choppy with troubles and all of the stress which we have in this world. Just listen to someone who is hurting or in need of a friend, don’t offer advice unless they ask for it. Why do I say this? Because it is very likely that you haven’t been in their shoes before. I know that many of us have had loved ones to die or we have gotten divorced or even lost a job, but some people are going through more than one stressor at a time. So..be gentle.

God is there for all of us and He does comfort us in all of our troubles and situations, but sometimes it just takes a sympathetic ear or a shoulder to lean on or even cry on. Nobody can handle all of life’s troubles without God or someone to support them and just be there when things aren’t going the way they should. Yes, Jesus is nearer than any person could be, but until He is here in the flesh we need a friend at times. Try to be that friend because there will come a time when you need one and if you were never there for someone then who will be there for you?

What will you do?


I think I have written a post by this name before but it does need to be repeated. Why? Because there are too many people who haven’t figured it out yet. So, have you figured out what this means?

Jesus died on the cross for you. He paid the penalty for your sins and mine and everyone else’s sin in the world. While it is true that not everyone will be saved, that doesn’t mean that the way is open for all. So…what will you do with your gift of eternal life in Heaven? Will you throw it away or just decide not to follow Jesus because you think there isn’t any fun in it?

Every person is going to live for an eternity, but it is your decision about your belief in Jesus which determines where you will live it. If you decide to only believe in yourself or in some other “god” besides Jesus, then you will meet Him but He will be your judge instead of your Lord. Some of you may think this is unfair, but God has provided a way for you to live in Heaven but it is dependent upon your belief in Jesus or not which determines your admission to His Kingdom. Why did God make it dependent on your choice? Because salvation is a choice. While it’s true that the Holy Spirit convicts you of your need of salvation, it’s still your decision to accept the offer.

God loves all of humanity but He doesn’t love our lifestyles or our sinful lives. Many in the world deny that Jesus was the Son of God even though God says so in the gospels. Why do we rebel against our Creator in this way? Because we are stubborn and we want to live our lives the way we want to live them, not according to the Bible and His way of living. Can we live the way that Jesus taught His disciples to live and work and spread the gospel? Of course, we can, but we will have to live our lives daily according to His example

Will it be easy to live this way in the world today? No, it won’t be but with Jesus in your heart and with His Spirit, in you, it can be done. But, only if you depend on Him to get you through each day…one day at a time. Which is why you should look in God’s Word for wisdom and support for your life. As Paul wrote about each of us “keeping our eyes on the prize of glory through Jesus the Christ our Lord”, it’s necessary to do exactly that!

When Jesus told Peter to get out of the boat and walk on the water, he did it for a few steps. But, then he took his eyes off of Jesus and began to sink. That’s why we should spiritually keep our eyes on Him every day! Because walking in this life as a Christian is not easy, even though many people think that it is. Walking as a Christian daily can only be done successfully by keeping our heart and our mind focused on Him. Don’t seek out your own wants and stuff, which most of us don’t have enough room for anyway. Seek His way and His Truth in your life and in all of your steps through this life.

I pray that our churches, our country and our representatives in Washington will turn to the Lord because our country and the world needs to see us doing this.