When you pray…

Do you just sit there and ask God for stuff or is it an actual, heartfelt prayer? Is your prayer mostly for yourself or for others? Praying for others deals with selfishness because its not really about you, because nothing in this life is. Your Christian life should be about caring for others, whether it is family or not.

Jesus did not say at any time “if you pray…”, He said “when you pray…“. Prayer is a part of your life as a Christian. It is your lifeline to God and your emergency contact point with Him. Prayer can accomplish more in your life and in the lives of those you pray for than any number of doctors or lawyers or anyone else. Just as you enjoy being able to contact your parents or your children, God is our Heavenly Father, our Creator and He enjoys it when His children contact Him for our needs as well as the needs of others.

Prayer is your Spirit crying out to the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of God, Who can do all things in your life in His will for your life. He doesn’t fulfill your list of things that you want like a grandfather or like Santa. God takes care of our needs when we are living and working in His will for our lives. Asking for a Corvette or a million dollars is not the way to pray! Prayer for yourself should be according to the will of God to strengthen and enable you to work more effectively for His Kingdom and His glory. Would a million dollars do that? Maybe but not likely. Would a Corvette? No.

Prayer is necessary for our life and for our work which God has called us to do, even if you only have one day left to live. If you have more days ahead that is wonderful because you can do more for God each and every day! It doesn’t matter how much pain you are in or how much money you have or don’t have, God can use you in His Kingdom. God’s Word is the most useful and valuable possession that you can own. It is more valuable than a mountain of gold because the words contained within it came from the mind of our Creator and our Father. No amount of human wisdom can match the wisdom contained within its pages.

I truly pray that anyone reading this will search the Bible for the needs in their life because if they don’t have a relationship with Jesus…that is the greatest need that they will ever have. Why? Because without Him, eternity will be lonely, miserable and painful in hell. Why? Because it is a decision that you make when you know that you need Him and if you don’t accept Jesus as your Savior then that is where you will be.

As the thief on the cross said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your Kingdom”. Jesus said, “Today, you will be with Me in Paradise”. That is how easy it is.

What do you hear?

When you go to church or any worship service in worshiping Jesus, what do you go to hear? A show with flashing lights and singing with a band and maybe a little five or ten minute sermon? Do you go to church to learn about your Savior and what He really did for you? Are you a member of a mega-church with so many people that you have to have a huge screen to see who is preaching?

Jesus warned us of the time that we are living in and it is found in the letters to the churches in the book of Revelation. The church at Laodicea was a church which reminds us of the dangers of being comfortable with our worship service.

Here is the quote from the book of Revelation:

To the Church in Laodicea
(Colossians 2:1-5)

14 To the angel of the church in Laodicea write:

These are the words of the Amen, the faithful and true Witness, the Originator of God’s creation.

15 I know your deeds; you are neither cold nor hot. How I wish you were one or the other! 16 So because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to vomit you out of My mouth!

17 You say, ‘I am rich; I have grown wealthy and need nothing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind, and naked. 18 I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined by fire so that you may become rich, white garments so that you may be clothed and your shameful nakedness not exposed, and salve to anoint your eyes so that you may see. 19 Those I love, I rebuke and discipline. Therefore be earnest and repent.

20 Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in and dine with him, and he with Me. 21 To the one who is victorious, I will grant the right to sit with Me on My throne, just as I overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne. 22 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”

We live in a time when pastors and churches water down the Word of God and they don’t teach His Truth from Scripture, just as this church was. They weren’t cold toward the message of salvation but they weren’t hot toward spreading the gospel either. They were trying but not too hard, lukewarm. Many churches and pastors today do the same thing. They compromise the Word of God by accepting sinful behavior as being normal in order to get more members on their roles. They don’t call sin what it is and teach that it is acceptable even when they know that God opinion of sin has not changed!

We cannot compromise the message of God’s Word and we shouldn’t be trying to make it more acceptable to those who are practicing sinful lifestyles which God does not approve of! Just because every other media outlet does this doesn’t mean that the church should be going along with sin even when we know that God and His Word don’t accept it nor condone it in any way. If we do this then we are no different from the world around us and we shouldn’t even be preaching from God’s Word at all. Pick out a self-help book and use it as a “bible” if you are going to be like the rest of the world.

I will preach and teach from God’s Word until He calls me home one day and if you don’t like that message then you don’t have to come to my church or read this blog anymore.

Be like Jesus…

When we get to know Jesus, the greatest joy that we can experience is to become more like Him every day. The problem is that we be don’t want it to take a long time, we want the transformation right now! When you are young, this can discourage you because of the immediate nature in the world today. We want “microwave changes” to happen in our life or faster if God would do so. Being a Christian and living this life is not about an instant change, it is a process which begins when you have given your heart to Him and then continues each day until He calls you home.

But, when you come to know Jesus as a mature person then you bring along all of the learning and thoughts that you have learned prior to knowing Him. That has to be trimmed away and sometimes it’s painful to go through this pruning process. Jesus said that we can do nothing for the Kingdom of God without Him. Living your new Christian walk with Jesus is essential not only for yourself but for those around you to see it and hear it in your words. Living each day like Jesus did is not impossible but it requires faith in Him and commitment to Him as well.

Many people think that because Jesus was the Son of God that we can’t live our lives by copying His life and His works. Why not? His disciples went about doing the things which He did and telling others about the Kingdom of God and the requirements of salvation. If they did it then why can’t we do it too? It requires faith in Him and it is the kind of faith which many in the church today just don’t have. It is not the faith of someone who spends a few minutes for a couple of days each week reading the Bible. It is not the faith of someone who attends church once or twice every month.

The kind of faith that I’m talking about here is the kind where you wake up each day thanking God for today and the possibilities of it. It is the kind of faith which, in prayerful speech, walks with God and Jesus during the day…regardless of the circumstances. Seeking His wisdom and His touch in everything that you do and say in whatever situation you are in.

God cares for us far more than we can know. That is the reason that Jesus was sent to pay for the whole world’s sins. The debt has been paid and it is up to each of us to accept His gift through our belief in Jesus Christ. If or rather when we do accept it, we will have eternity with Him to know others who have accepted His Son as well. If you do not accept Jesus as your Savior then you will live for an eternity regretting your choice. It is up to each of us which path we follow and we are given that choice at some point in our lives. So…choose Life through Jesus.

How soon, Lord?

For many who believe and for many who don’t believe this is a question which has been asked for the past two thousand years. Yet, God is silent…or is He?

If you read His Word and pay close attention to the prophecies in Daniel and Ezekiel and the Revelation, comparing them to each other and watching the world news with your Spirit (if you believe), you can see the prophecies coming together. If you are not a believer then you will keep wondering and scoffing at those who do believe. Many people in government and in the world are skeptical and rightly so. It has been a long time since Jesus ascended to the Father but He said that He would return. God doesn’t lie and the Bible is not a book of legends and myths as many people seem to think.

There have been signs in the heavens and here on Earth which have come to pass in the past fifty years. Just in the past five years, there were four blood moons and an eclipse which all happened on Jewish holy days. Those were not foretold in the Bible exactly, but Jesus did say that there would be signs in the heavens.

Many people have tried over the past few hundred years to predict the day or the hour or even the year that Jesus would return and all of them were wrong. When that day comes there will be no doubt about what is happening and what has happened. Anyone who has heard of these prophecies or heard a sermon about the end times or read one of the books which have been published over the years about this time in history will know what is happening. Although many will doubt and many won’t believe what it is unless they see someone taken up or see a grave opening and the body rising to meet the Lord.

How would you react if a number of people around you just vanished, leaving their shoes and clothes on the pews? If you are still in the church when this happens, what do you do? My advice to you is to make sure of your salvation now so this won’t happen to you.

Even then they will be frightened more than anything. Most will begin looking for answers, trying to find someone who can explain what is happening. In some places, there may be a few who are left that can explain what is happening. If it happens on a day that people are attending a church or worship service there will be some who thought they were “right with the Lord” but they will be left. Talk about a bad day!

You cannot earn your salvation, it is a gift from God!

A new beginning

A new mother and a new Christian have a lot in common. One has given birth to a new life, the other has been given a new life in Christ. The processes are different since one is a physical birth and the other is a spiritual birth but both are new in their beginnings and in their experience.

The new life of the baby is completely dependent upon the mother for its nourishment and care. A new Christian is dependent upon the people around them to learn about their Savior and about being a Christian. Both babies have to be nourished and cared for but in different ways. The new baby, whether it is a girl or a boy, has to be bathed and have their diaper changed often. They have to be fed either at the breast of the mother or by a bottle for a while, but it won’t be long before they will begin eating “baby food”.

The baby Christian needs to be fed as well. Regularly and with much prayer because they need to start off on a good Biblical foundation, preferably in the New Testament as their starting point. Later, they can go into the Old Testament, again with prayer so the Holy Spirit can teach them what is needed from the books of the Law and the prophets and the historical books. All of these are necessary to their growth as a Christian but the Old Testament could be considered the “meat” of God’s Word. Most of the New Testament is much easier to understand for a Christian who is just starting out.

These descriptions are the best comparisons which I can come up with because this happens all over the world. People are coming to know Jesus as their Savior and they need guidance and direction when they are new in their faith. A baby needs many of the same things but in a physical way. When I became a believer, at first I didn’t get the help I needed so I was more like the wet ground which seeds fell on but it was very thin. In Jesus’ parable about the sower, some fell on good ground but it was thin because of rocks being beneath it. The roots didn’t go very deep and when the heat and other factors came together, the sprout withered away.

That is what happened when I first began my life as a “believer”. I did believe but I didn’t get the spiritual help that I needed so my faith shriveled up and my faith went with it for a time. Belief in Jesus does save us but if your new life in Christ isn’t watered with God’s Word and allowed to process what you are learning, your new life can become stale and ineffective. Without nourishment in a believing home and a believing church, your faith can wither and if you don’t get the help you need before your faith dies, it may be a long time before you will come back, if ever.

I pray that anyone who reads this will seek out the Word in a Bible study group or church, especially if they are a new Christian because it really did help me when I renewed my faith in Christ many years ago. I suppose I was saved at the first but since there wasn’t real growth in my faith for a long time the Holy Spirit just kept nudging me toward God so that I would learn more about Him so eventually I did and you can too.

We begin our lives as babies, in our physical form as well as in our faith in Jesus. You aren’t born knowing everything, it takes time and effort. Becoming a mature Christian does too. Seek His Word in a church and in your Bible so that you will grow to know Him more.

How much time…

For all of the parents in the world, this is a question that most of us ask when our child or our children are born. The same goes for grandparents. How much time will we have with them? Please, God, give us as much as possible, that was my prayer when my son was born. I don’t want just a year or two or ten and then something happens and he is taken back to heaven. I want him for as much time as possible and I prayed a similar prayer about my marriage before my son was born. But…you know, most of us never know how much time we will have with our family. We don’t even know if we will come home from a grocery trip or from work.

All of us are truly living on God’s timetable. He knows when we were conceived and how many days and hours we will have in our life. Thankfully, He never shares that knowledge with us. I mean, come on, what would you do if you knew exactly when and how you were going to die? I have thought about it but I really don’t want to know! And I doubt that anyone else would like to see the exact date and hour of our passing or of someone in our family. That is information which we look back on later and wish we had known but to know it beforehand? I don’t think anyone would truly relish the idea of knowing that they will live until say July 2, 2019, at 2 am. It would be great for planning the funeral but how would your family feel unless you kept that bit of information to yourself and didn’t tell anyone.

God keeps those secrets hidden from us. Sometimes He may give you a hint just before your death, like a day or two, maybe. I have heard from the family of some people who got these hints. Still, the hints which they got were specific to their life and situation. I do believe that we should attempt to live our lives as a reflection of Jesus as much as possible. Every day seeking to do whatever we think He would do in our situation and trying to be the best reflection of Him. The time which we have is not guaranteed nor do we have a certain number of days or hours to make our life meaningful. Just living our lives as Jesus did and following His example until we are called home to Heaven should be our goal in life.

When you are called to become a child of God through your belief in Jesus the rest of your life is what you will have to do all of His will and His purpose. If you have fifty years or five years or just five months, and thankfully we don’t know about how much time we have, you should begin that day to tell others about Jesus. If you have tomorrow thank Him for it and then use it to the best of your knowledge and ability to get His message to someone, even if it is only ONE person.

If you have another month or another year, and I’m including myself in this, we need to tell as many people about His grace and mercy which is available to all of us for our salvation through Jesus the Christ! He has given us the time and the ability all we should do with it is use it and tell others about Him during the time that we have. Amen

Seek Him and His Presence in your life. Give your life to Jesus and turn away from the sins which kept you from Him. Then teach others to do likewise.

Time and death

Neither of these wait for anyone. Time moves regardless of the speed you perceive it’s movement as. Sometimes it moves slowly and at other times it seems to sprint much faster than you would like. Death on the other hand bides its time. It does come to us but there are times that it makes it’s appearance at inopportune times. For some it comes far too early and for others it shows up when it is least expected.

Time was a part of creation and God ordained it to be. It was supposed to mark seasons and months and years along with the stars and the Sun and the moon. Until that creation week, time had not existed and neither had death. Until the disobedience of mankind, death had never been a part of the universe. But, God had to clothe Adam and Eve with the skin of an animal so death entered into our world.

Life is marked by both time and death but also by birth. An infant comes into the world and from his first breath to his or her last breath God already knows the time that they will have. The best part of your salvation in Jesus is that when you come to the end of your life here, you are just beginning your eternity with Jesus. So death in this life brings your eternity to life and it will never end. The only way that this will be a joyous life on the other side of the veil is if you have given your heart to Jesus in this life.

Time is only measured on Earth. Once you enter into eternity time doesn’t truly have any hold on your life from that point on. If you are a child of God and have lived a separated life from the world while following Jesus in this life then your eternity will involve many wonderful experiences. If you have not given your life to Jesus, then your eternity will be one which is endless punishment for not giving your life to Him. That is the unpardonable sin…refusing the gift of God through Jesus.

I pray that those who read this will turn away from their sinful lives and ask Jesus to be their Savior. If you have given your life to Him, wonderful! If you haven’t, what are you waiting for?

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!

Are you frustrated with God?

In our lives we do sometimes feel this way. Why has this happened? Why did my child die in that car crash? Why did my grandchild overdose on opioids? Why did I lose my job? The questions go on and on, but usually without an answer. At least we usually don’t get the answer that we truly want to hear. So we begin by blaming God for all of our troubles or we confront Him and demand an answer while we are ranting at Him in our prayer time!

The fact is that God doesn’t owe you or me any explanation about anything which is happening in our lives. Most of what happens in our lives could be explained as being allowed to happen by God but He doesn’t have to give you a reason or an explanation for whatever may be happening. Is it frustrating for us to have things like this to happen and then we can’t figure out why they happened? Yes, of course it is, but if you have read much of the Bible you will see that people who have faith in God and have placed their faith in His provision for their lives usually have that faith tested in some way. But before destruction comes to them, God will come in and save them to bring them back into fellowship with Himself. God is always on time but it is His time, not our idea of His time.

Many times this testing is allowed, such as the case with Job where Satan was allowed to take everything, including his health, from him just to prove Job’s faith in God. Job didn’t ask for this but since the question was brought up by God because He was proud of Job for being a righteous man, Satan said that Job would cast his faith away if God would remove His protection from him. But Job didn’t lose his faith. In fact by the time the book is over Job’s faith was increased rather than tossed aside.

So should we live in our faith like Job did? We should, but most people who claim to have faith in God would not keep their faith in the same circumstances which Job went through. In today’s world even the church and those who call themselves “Christians” who attend church services have little faith. They would blame God for their troubles and seek to fix their problems on their own and by their own strength. In today’s world they might succeed in paying of their debts and possibly regaining some of their wealth. But if your faith is in yourself and in your job or your business it will not last. God is the only Savior of mankind and it is He Who controls all aspects of life that we take for granted!

Seek and serve the One Savior, Jesus the Christ, because it is only by His grace and your repentance from your sinful ways, believing in Him for your salvation that you will see Him face to face in Heaven. He is the Door and the Good Shepherd and only through Him will we find peace and salvation for eternity. We cannot add any amount of worth to our salvation by the works which we do because He has already paid the price for each of us, the full price. All that we have to do is accept it as a graceful gift from God, believe in Jesus as our Savior and turn away from out old way of life to live in His Newness of Life through Him! Amen

Jesus’ death began before the cross

Have you ever wondered about the night that Jesus was in the garden? Most of us know the story about Him going to the garden and asking the disciples to pray with Him. He was asking the Father if this cup could pass from Him and He was sweating drops of blood because of the stress and the fear that His humanity felt. He had very likely had an idea or vision of what was coming in relation to the crucifixion. But…even before His crucifixion, He was scourged.

The “cat of nine tails” was usually dipped in resin and then drug through broken glass or pottery and it had metal tips on the ends as well. This whip was about 2 ½ feet long and the Roman soldiers who wielded it did not like being in Judea nor did they like Jews. Most of Rome’s soldiers were well muscled as well so taking all of that into account, Jesus began dying from the loss of blood at least an hour before He was nailed to the cross.

By the time Simon the Cyrene began helping Him carry His cross, Jesus had lost enough blood that He was very close to losing consciousness. So, His death began much earlier than being nailed to the cross. He had felt the betrayal of one of His disciples. He had heard Peter deny knowing Him three times and even though He knew that it was going to happen, it still hurt Him emotionally. Just a few days prior to His “mock trial”, many people had hailed Him as their Savior, their Messiah, coming into Jerusalem. Yet, many of those same people had been paid to bring false accusations against Him during His “trial”.

All of these combined to bring His Spirit to a very low point, so it is not surprising that He cried “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” when He was on the cross. We think about all of the miracles that Jesus performed while He was teaching and preaching during His ministry and those are proof of Who He was as the Son of God. Most of us never consider that Jesus was born as a human baby to a human mother. His limitations and His emotions and fears and His doubts all were part of His humanity so He could identify with us in every way. He knows your depression and fear and heartache. He has felt bruised feet and hands while He was a carpenter with His human father.

He felt hunger and fatigue during His time of testing in the wilderness for forty days. He felt alone even among thousands of admirers because of His mission which was coming to an end. Jesus felt all of these things which we feel but many of us don’t consider this when we read the Bible or listen to a sermon. Because the Bible doesn’t give details about His emotions or His feelings most of the time. So why do I write this now? Because we should think about our Savior’s time as a human being. Every feeling and temptation which we feel or have felt, He experienced during His life on Earth. That is what makes Him so easy to relate to and easy to believe in simply because He lived as one of us until He went back to His throne in Heaven.

Make sure of your salvation and your belief in Him while there is still time because after the church is taken away, choosing to become a Christian will be much harder to do.

Everything that He went through on this day, He did because of His love for humanity.