A child’s story


There was a young child many years ago who was in kindergarten. He didn’t know much about the world around him except that Mom and Dad loved him. He went to school and played with his friends and went to stay with one of his mom’s friends until she got out of her classes in the afternoon. Life went on like this for a while and not much changed until one fall when his Dad came over before his Mom did and he saw Daddy kiss the woman who was keeping him.

Still too young to understand or even comprehend what was happening, he just shrugged it off. For years it never entered his mind until the memory surfaced when he was old enough to put the pieces of the puzzle in his mind together. From that point on he carried anger along with him. Not the kind you see in movies which causes a lot of pain but the kind that you bury inside. Where it festers like a splinter that you can’t remove. At some point in his later teens, he wanted to die but he couldn’t bring himself to the point of suicide, although through drunkenness, he did come close at least once.

Even though he managed to drive home many nights after attending a football game, most of those nights he was drunk or at least buzzed to the point of not walking very good. Thankfully, his grandmother was praying for him and that very prayer was the reason that he didn’t kill himself on a road somewhere.

That child was me.

In many ways, we are all like children even as we get older. We add years to our life but the child is still inside us. We leave home, go to school, get a job, maybe get married one day, but we are still seeking a mother or a father in some way. Someone who can show us how to be the person that we never learned how to be. Some of you can relate, if you were a part of a home which was broken or in some way detached from being “normal” with both parents in a loving home.

I am not telling you this to show how broken my life was, just that my early life and my teenage years weren’t what they should’ve been. This is not who I am today because I do have a father in Heaven and He is my Savior. I never had a chance to know my biological father so I really don’t know if he is in Heaven or not.

To get to the point of this side trip into my life I will tell you this: God LOVES you with the deepest, most profound love that you can imagine.

Remember these verses in John: “16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. 17 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. 18 He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.”

The love of God for all of humanity is such that He made our world perfect for our life and for everything that is needed for us to live. The right temperature and the right mixture of gases in our atmosphere as well as the fertile ground where our food can grow and the animals and fish and all of the other life on our planet. God did this not because He had to but because He wanted to. Life is not an accident or an evolution of chemicals and other adaptations to be more complex.

The universe doesn’t work that way. Entropy doesn’t go from simple to complex, it goes the other way. That is easy to see when you find an old implement in the field. A saw blade will continue to rust away into a red powder, iron oxide until the entire thing is gone. Now, what does this have to do with the child who started this story? LOVE

Without the love of God and the effect that it had on him and his life, he (I) wouldn’t be speaking to you today. I would never have gone down the pathways which God guided me toward to get to this place. I did take a few detours and ran off on my own path a few times but when God has a plan for your life, He will bring it to be…to fit His purpose for His Kingdom. It may take some time, but eventually, your path will intersect with His intended path for you and when that happens, hopefully,ourlovingsavior your Spiritual eyes will recognize where you are and where you should be.

Grace


His grace is an extension of benevolence translated into action that releases His enabling power into our lives.

Seeing that we can never merit His favor, we are indebted to Him to extend to us His mercy and bestow upon us His grace whereby we may respond to Him in an acceptable manner. From beginning to end we are dependent upon Him, for life itself, for all sustenance by which we continue to live and have our existence, and most importantly for our spiritual life without which we are but the “living dead”.

God extends His grace to us each day, yet many don’t perceive it nor even care that it is available. Jesus died and rose again to give us the grace and the hope of Heaven and eternity along with forgiveness from the Father. So why are so many churches today closing their doors? Because of the time in which we live, that’s why. This time frame in which we are all living right now is just prior to the Tribulation but the church and the Holy Spirit will be taken from the Earth before that.

God will still work in the hearts of mankind during the Tribulation but it will be much harder to give your heart to Him because if you aren’t serving the person who is in power at the time, there will be consequences. How long in coming will this be? I have no idea. Even Jesus said to His disciples that that day or hour is only known by God.

There have been many people in the past and right up until recently who thought they knew the day or the hour but they were mistaken. We can’t know the mind of God or His timing but there will be no mistake when the church is taken up to Heaven. Make sure that you are a part of that company and not one of those left behind.

Bridge2Salvation

 

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.

What is your experience?


Have you thought about your experience with Jesus? What about your salvation? The reason that I am asking this question is that each of us experiences each one in a different way. Some of us get emotional and nearly fall apart because of the grace that is given to us when we accept Him. Some of us fall down and worship Jesus and walk away from the experience a changed person and one which will do all that they can by telling others about Him.

The experience, especially if it is truly genuine, changes your heart spiritually and your life permanently! Salvation is not an experience which you can go through without the Holy Spirit and choose to turn it on or off when you want to go back where you were. True salvation begins when your heart is broken because of the Holy Spirit showing you through faith that your life is sinful and it needs to change. Sometimes this realization is brought about at a church service other times it is by a night or three or more in a jail cell. God will use whatever is necessary to get your attention and sometimes it is painful.

God loves us but like any Father or Mother, He sometimes has to use tough love to get a stubborn child to listen! Many times…we truly need this tough love and until God has your undivided attention, He will bang your head against whatever is necessary to make you listen. Why do I say this? Because, when God wants you to listen and He has a specific lesson or purpose for you, that only you can fulfill, He will not let go until you come around.

God knows the talents and gifts which He has given to you. You may not be aware of them until you have given your heart and life to Him, most of us aren’t. I never would’ve gotten in front of a group of people to speak for ten minutes or more if I had not been called by Him to be a preacher. I struggled against this calling for years until finally He got my attention enough and didn’t really give me a choice about it.

Some people think that God forces us to salvation, but that isn’t true. He will call to you and prod your heart, sometimes for years, but until you realize that you need Him in your life, it won’t make much difference. If you think that you have an arrangement with God and consider yourself good enough without accepting Him as your Lord and Savior, you may never hear His call on your life because you don’t think you need Him or the salvation that He is offering.

At that point, you are just like those Pharisees in Jesus’ day…too religiously minded to be any Earthly good to themselves or to anyone else! God only uses those who know that they need Him. Truly our Creator doesn’t need us in any way other than what He can see in your heart and your life. He can cause things to work out in His time so that your life or mine will line up with His will and purpose. He has already given you a talent or gift that He can use in His Kingdom but only if you answer the call on your life to change like the disciples did.

Peter denied the Lord three times on the night of His “mock trial” before going to Pilate. Paul was a Pharisee and was doing everything that the priests would give him permission to do in order to get rid of the “Jesus followers” or the Way. Both of these men were changed by the Lord’s actions of redemption and healing toward Peter and by Jesus’ confrontation of Paul on the Damascus road. Both of these men became true witnesses to the Gentile world as well as to the Jews after their redemption and conversion.

So…what about you? Are you willing to give your heart to Jesus as a follower and a disciple? If you have felt His call on your life, don’t put it off or ignore it. God loves you.

 

Serving as Jesus did (part 2)


Jesus came to this Earth with all of the problems and chaos caused by a fallen people who truly had lost their sense of direction and their knowledge of the One True God. He came because He loved ALL of us, not just one little tribe of people and He knew that when He came that He would have to suffer and die for ALL of the people who didn’t know Him. Most people in the world at the time He came had no idea Who He was and didn’t care, just as many still do today. Yet…He loved them anyway just as He loves all of us today. That is the love which calls to each of us today.

God seeks out those of us who truly need Him but even in our broken state of being, He can mend us and make us better so that we can show others that His ways are so much higher and more than able to heal and direct our path toward His higher calling. The calling of being His disciple and His friend in this life and into eternity. It doesn’t take a lot of convincing to show people how He has changed us, just tell them about your life and how it was before Jesus came into it and gave you a new purpose and hope!

Are we perfect and sinless after becoming Christians, of course not! We are still human beings after all and we are still subject to every temptation of Satan and all of the other lures that are in this world. Wealth, power, greed, sex, drugs, alcohol….our world and the things in it draws our humanity toward all of these things even after our hearts are changed which is why we have to read the Bible daily. Washing our minds and our thoughts with His Living Water, the Word of God, is the only way to stay true to our calling and know His mind and thoughts.

The Christian life doesn’t give you a clean slate to go out and dirty it up again. If you are doing that, then your heart hasn’t been changed at all. When Jesus and the Holy Spirit come into your life, there is a change which will let you know that what you are doing is wrong. While it is true that you can ignore the message enough to go back and get into the pig stall and lie with the other pigs…why would you want to? We are not pigs, and contrary to what some people may think, we should live above our old lifestyle where Jesus would walk and live. Think about what He went through before the cross. The shaming and the threats on His life and even those in the town where He grew up wanted to kill Him because He told them that He fulfilled the prophecy of the Messiah from the prophet Isaiah. They didn’t believe Him and wanted to kill Him because they had watched Him grow up in Joseph’s carpenter shop. They knew the little Boy but they didn’t KNOW Him!

Like knowing someone from childhood and then they grow up and move away or join the military and essentially become a different person from the child you knew. Of course, Jesus matured into His life’s role as Savior and Messiah by His Father’s teaching and not Joseph’s teaching. The part of His life which everyone in Nazareth saw was His Earthly life, His physical life here. It was His Spiritual life and learning from the Spirit and from His Father that had brought Him to be a different Person from the one that everyone in His hometown thought they knew.

God has many jobs and roles which He wants each of us to do and fulfill in our Christian life, but we need to submit to His teaching and His Spirit and His Word so that we can learn what we need to know in order to be the person which God knows that each of us can be. If we will only follow Him in our daily walk and learn from Him, we can do this!

Living in His Light


Have you considered being a child of God? We are all His creation, regardless of the country we live in or the religion which we claim to serve if we believe in Him at all. God loves each of us, whether you believe it or not. Yet, living in the Light of His Love and Grace is where most of us who believe are right now. How we live in this condition is our service to Him. There are many who simply don’t want to live according to His gospel or in His LIght!

Why? Like the gospel’s say, “they shun the light because they like the darkness“; it is simple and so easy to see it today. Criminals do all of their criminality in the dark where that can’t be seen and it is the same with sinful mankind. They don’t want their sins or their deeds brought into the light, whether it is the daytime or the Light of Jesus! God cares about all of mankind, but He knows which people will give their hearts to Him and His Son and which ones will not.

Your life and the lifestyle that you live is not unknown to God. He knows each person on this Earth and He knows their hearts even if they don’t belong to Him. This has never changed since even the time of Adam and Eve in the Garden. It wasn’t a surprise to God that they could not resist the serpent in the Garden who told them that “they would surely not die“.

When we are tempted by wealth or fame or more knowledge than we are ready for, it is always the Tempter who is dangling it in front of our hearts or our eyes so that we want it for our purposes, not God’s purpose. This part of the equation between man’s temptation and God’s grace toward us has never changed. Actually, the difference has only become more pronounced, except that man doesn’t want to see it or acknowledge it. You can see it every day on the news but unless you are looking at the world around you through your spiritual eyes tempered by God’s Word and His prophecies, it won’t be very apparent to you at all.

This is the very reason that the world doesn’t recognize how the Bible’s prophecies work because they don’t have their eyes turned to the Holy Spirit. You can’t see the working of prophecy unless you have faith in Him and your Spirit is showing you those things around you. As some people on television seem to think that Christians have a mental illness and that they can’t live in the world with “normal” people. Really?

Somehow, I think its a bit more like we are the ones who can see what is really going on around us and the rest of the world is just trying to make sense of all of it and it doesn’t make sense to them. Why? Because the workings of God don’t make sense to those who won’t or can’t see the world with spiritual eyes of faith.

Do you bear fruit for Him?


John 15:1-8

Jesus the True Vine

1 I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman. 2 Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit. 3 Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you. 4Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear the fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. 5I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. 6If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned. 7If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you. 8Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples.

VineandBranchesJesus taught this lesson to His disciples during the hours just before His arrest and the mock trial that He was subjected to before being condemned to the cross. There is more to His teaching on this but this began His discourse on being a disciple which produces fruit for God’s Kingdom. Have you considered what you should do in light of the fact that as a Christian, you are a disciple as well?

We are called to be in God’s family to be disciples as well as His voice while we live in this life. Yet, many Christians don’t fulfill their duty to Him in this way. We are content with knowing that we have our salvation and that we will be accepted into Heaven one day. But, God intended for us to have and do so much more than that. His Word shows us that the disciples went out from Jerusalem and spread His gospel and we should do no less.

We have much more available to us and for us to use as platforms and possible routes to spread Jesus’ message into the world than they had. God will use your talent or He will give you the talent and the words to say to spread His message to those who need it so badly in the world today. I don’t have the ability to go on missions overseas, but this forum can get to anyone who has access to the Internet. Unfortunately, there are many who don’t have access to it, which is where actual visits are required if possible.

Some places are in areas where it is not advisable to visit with a Christian message or to bring it to those living there. It is dangerous for Christians to go, as Jesus asked us to do, into many countries in the world today. Prayer for those people and places which are not accepting of Christian ideals and its message. Do what you can with what you have and ask God to bless the outcome of your efforts.

Did God make the right choice?


Actually, that is a very silly question. Of course, God made the right choice but which one am I referring to? That depends on what you are willing to do. Has God chosen you for something? But you really don’t want to follow Him in that direction or even go in that direction with your Christian walk. You should realize that this is a decision which is dangerous. Jonah made this kind of decision and God turned him around and brought him to where he wanted him to be.

Do you really want to go against God when you feel His call in your life? Deciding to go one direction and you decide that you will wait or maybe you just won’t go at all.

If He is telling you to go this way and you decide to go but by a different route, are you really obeying Him? It is not wise to try to find your own path to get where God wants you. If He is leading you toward this area and you decide to skirt around that and go to another area that seems more promising in your estimation. Isn’t that actually disobeying God?

In life, we are faced with many choices. Some of the decisions are hard to make and some are fairly easy. So, what do you do when God calls you plainly to lead a planting of a church and you ignore Him? What about when you feel led by Him to preach on a certain scripture and then you change your sermon to something different before the service? Still being disobedient.

In the Old Testament, God expected faith from His servants that He called and He expected them to obey His commands. He still expects this today, so why don’t we hear Him and obey like we should? Is it pride or selfishness which is getting in the way? Maybe. Is it just stubbornness which is keeping us on our path rather than the path that He wants us to be on? Many times I believe that is the problem. We are comfortable where we are and we don’t want to change even if it is God Who is trying to get us to listen.

The big problem here is this: God will get your attention, one way or the other!! You can run away and hide, you can try to ignore His call, but eventually, He will win. He will get you turned around and going in the right direction. Remember, His Son died for us to be saved from our own mistakes so it is only fitting that we should obey Him and follow His lead in our Christian walk with Him.

God gives each of us a talent or a gift or some ability to be useful in His Kingdom, many of us have more than one gift but God expects us to use those gifts for His purposes and His Kingdom. Can we use them in other places? Of course, we can, but the main reason that we have these gifts is for God’s Kingdom first and foremost.

1 Corinthians 12:7-11 ESV 
To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. For to one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the ability to distinguish between spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills.

What will you do?


The movie, “I can only imagine“, is in theaters now and the song has blessed the world with its inspiration for a while…but what do you think that you will do when you see your Savior? Will you fall to your knees in worship? Will you be so giddy with joy until you dance in His Presence? How will you express your gratitude when you come face to face with your Savior?

FB_IMG_1521382243378Truly, I have no idea what I will do. There are times, even now, that I get tears in my eyes just thinking about the mercy and grace which has been poured into my life. I didn’t deserve any of it and I still don’t understand the depth of the love of our Father. I won’t understand it until I am face to face with Him and even then I don’t think that I will completely know the depth and breadth of His love for me…for all of us!

God is our Creator and our Savior because He made a way for us to get to Him in His Word and to be able to come near to Him through the blood of Jesus. It is a good thing that we will have an eternity to be with Him because the understanding of His Love for us will take about that long to comprehend, even with our immortal bodies and minds.

Meeting Him as a saved and sanctified, born-again Christian will be so awesome until I can scarcely imagine even the beauty and majesty of seeing Heaven and our Savior. Truly, I don’t think my imagination could conjure up the images that John described for Heaven. Many of the paintings which I have seen which some artists have painted of their vision of Heaven just show a landscape which is just more than what we have on Earth. More and deeper blues, more vibrant greens, flowers which are dazzling in their beauty and water which is more like “liquid joy” than anything we could possibly find here in this life! This water flows from the throne of God, so there is no way we could find water like this here.

God loves each of us which is why He sent His Son to pay the penalty for our sins. All that we are required to do is to believe in Jesus and His atonement for us…that’s it. You don’t need money and there is no amount of work which any of us can do to deserve to be in Heaven. We can’t save ourselves because salvation is only through the name of Jesus. His name is the only name which will bring each of us to salvation, there is no other!

Bridge2Salvation

It doesn’t matter how many gods you serve or the names of your gods, they will not bring you into Heaven because they aren’t there either.  This picture shows exactly how your salvation is done and paid for. Your only response is whether you will accept Jesus and repent of your sins or not!

If you accept His sacrifice for your sins, regardless of how many they may be, then ask Him to come into your heart and save you from yourself and your sins. He will honor that prayer and come into your life and your heart, cleansing you from your old life and your old ways and make you a new creation in Jesus Christ! If you have done this, please let me know in the comments section, because I would love to know and hear about it.

Changing times


We are living during a time which is changing at a rapid pace. Almost on a daily basis something or someone does something which is totally out of the ordinary. A bridge collapses or some bombs are set off in a city which hasn’t had any terror attacks and its on American soil too! Of course, the media isn’t calling the bombings “terror” attacks, just random acts of violent behavior which are unrelated.

Maybe, but I’ve never heard of anyone doing this in the last thirty years or so just as a “random” act and not just one but three! Yes, life is changing here and it isn’t exactly better than it was before. We do have a President who is trying to help our country instead of running it into the toilet, but it seems that there are so many people in America who would rather rip it apart at the seams…at least there are more of them than we used to hear about!

Why is all of this happening? I believe that it is because of how close the world is to the time foretold in the book of Revelation in the Bible. Of course, there are some people who don’t believe that the Bible is God’s Word. Most of them don’t think it is true either. So, what is the church, the people who DO believe in God and His Son, supposed to do while the world ignores God?

We are supposed to be the bringers of the word, the Truth of God’s Word to all of the people who haven’t heard it or those who didn’t believe it in the first place. Tell the people about your Savior and what He has done and what He will do for them too! Because of God’s love for them,  and for the entire world! He is our Creator and we are His creation! It doesn’t matter where you live or what you do with your life if you know Jesus as your Savior then you are a messenger and you need to take it seriously!

Believers are supposed to be messengers for Jesus in our world today, just like His apostles were at the beginning of the church age. Will there be some who refuse to hear or maybe get angry with you for telling them about Jesus? Yes, most likely. But, if you can get them to listen to your story, what Jesus saved you from becoming, then even they might listen..even if only for a few minutes. God’s Holy Spirit will do the rest. If their heart is touched by something that you said or maybe what you were saved from, then He can get them to think about it. “If God cares for the little guy, the one that wasn’t popular in school or the most handsome, then maybe He could care about me too!”.

God has used many unlikely ways of getting people’s attention in the past and He will continue to do so until the very last person is saved. It isn’t a hard thing to believe but if your heart has been hardened by school or science then that may make it difficult, but anything is possible with God. I mean, look around you at the universe! God did all of that with His Words, and it was made from nothing more than the thoughts of God! Just think what He could do with you or me?