Punishment and payment

We are a race born with a natural bent toward sin because of Adam. If you told a little child not to eat these cookies and you caught them doing so, most would tell you that they didn’t eat the cookies. Even if you caught them with crumbs on their clothes and their hand coming out of the jar! They’ve not been taught to lie but they will when they are caught doing something they know is wrong. It is this natural tendency that stays with you and me for our entire life and that is the reason Jesus Christ had to pay the penalty for all of our sins.

So why was it so important to God for Him to do this? Because He wanted our relationship to return to the way it was in the Garden.

He wants the relationship to be as it was because it won’t be tainted by the stench of sin and rebellion. That is the only kind of relationship that will be present in Heaven. We will be able to go to Him at any time and He will answer us even before we ask our question.

Oh, how I am looking forward to that day! When the sky opens up like a scroll and the Trumpet of God sounds and the dead are raised to immortality and those who are alive and have remained faithful to Jesus will follow them. The whole world will know that our God is True and faithful and there will be no denying it.

I pray that anyone who reads this will seek to know their Savior before that day comes.

Faith walks…

When Jesus looked for followers, before He called His disciples, He knew He needed men who would follow Him every day during His ministry. He knew that He would find them because His Father had sent Him to Israel to teach, preach and touch the lost children of Israel. The only way that this ministry would last and make a real difference in the world would be men who would have faith in Him and His ministry but also men who would walk their faith in and around Israel so others would see that what they believed about Him was true.

This is what James talks about when he wrote “faith without works is dead“, not because you have to have works to be saved but because your faith should be a working, walking faith. One that gets your Spirit moving in God’s direction and in His will. I used to wonder how could Jesus sleep in a boat which was being tossed by the waves in a storm but as I’ve grown in my faith and in my walk with Him I realized that His ministry covered many hundreds of miles. Not every day naturally but all of it was by foot! He and His disciples were bone tired by the end of each day, regardless of the miracles they saw or the healings that He performed. Jesus was the Son of God but He was also the Son of Man, human in all of its respects except that He didn’t have our sinful nature.

So He was tired every day what does that mean to me? It means that we are supposed to be tired from telling others about Him. We should walk with Him each and every day because He said that we would do “greater things than these” if we did. Does your faith in Jesus walk with you each day regardless of the circumstances? It should. If you are a born-again Christian your faith should take you through each day and each trial in your life, regardless of the circumstances or problems that you may face. While it is true that there will be some days that are better than others, for a Christian there is no way of avoiding the bad and the good days. All of them go together and He will see you through each of them.

God loved each of us even before He created the universe and our planet and He had determined at that time that He would come down and save us from our own sinfulness one day. He did it as the Son Who gave Himself as a ransom for many. Make sure that your life in Christ reflects the gratitude of one who has been saved from the fire of hell and eternal separation from God so that others will want to have your hope and your Savior as well.

Can you tell the difference?

My dear children, you come from God and belong to God. You have already won a big victory over those false teachers, for the Spirit in you is far stronger than anything in the world. These people belong to the Christ-denying world. They talk the world’s language and the world eats it up. But we come from God and belong to God. Anyone who knows God understands us and listens. The person who has nothing to do with God will, of course, not listen to us. This is another test for telling the Spirit of Truth from the spirit of deception. 1 John 4:4 MSG https://bible.com/bible/97/1jn.4.4.MSG

Sometimes we can hear it when someone else talks about something that they have an opinion about. The truth is evident in the words that they speak about their beliefs. Then you come across someone else who is not speaking of what they know but what they want from you. Deception can take all kinds of shapes and change them to fit whatever the agenda may be, make sure you know the Bible well enough to spot the difference.

God blesses us even in our trials

When you are tested, seek the Lord ask Him for strength. He will bless you and take you through your trials no matter how much it may hurt. You will come through this stronger in your faith and even more able to stand when another trial comes.

What do you believe?

Some of us believe in a “god” that someone in the past or even in the recent past just made up and embellished to make it sound good. Some people during the time before Jesus was born listened to the people around them who were worshiping “gods” that were actually demons who followed Satan. In all of these scenarios can you pick one and show me a hospital or an orphanage or even a charity that any of these false religions created or started that has helped people?

I don’t know of any.

Believe in God and the Lord Jesus Christ for your salvation and you will be saved. “Saved from what?” you may ask.

That is a long story but when Satan caused the fall in the Garden of Eden, he became the ruler of this world. Not like a king but he could influence humanity to follow his suggestions and be far more evil than they would be without his influence. God loves us and the angels enough that He gave all of us the freedom to choose. God doesn’t want mindless automatons but willing servants and the freedom to choose to follow Him and serve Him out of love.

Not one of the false religions can claim this. Oh, some do corrupt the Bible and change some words and therefore the meaning of the books in it. It is because of this that many people don’t want to hear from God’s Word because they believe if one version is corrupt then all of them are. This just is not so. There are many old copies of many books of the Bible that are accurate to the word. Many Hebrew scholars have copied the Torah over the years and even the most ancient copies are accurate to the word and the punctuation. God has made sure that His Word is true and accurate and is not corrupt.

Jesus came to bear the sins of the whole world and pay the debt for them on the cross, then three days later He rose from the grave and over the course of forty days He appeared to many people to prove that He had risen from the grave. He ascended to the Father and it was witnessed by His disciples. Angels told them that “this same Jesus will come again in like manner as you have seen Him go.”

We are waiting for His return very soon. Some do not believe it will happen. Some say that it won’t happen in our lifetime but Jesus said that after “the fig tree blooms”, referring to the rebirth of Israel, that generation would not pass before His return. Israel became a nation again in 1948 and 80 years from then is 2028. Possible? Yes. No dates or hours but possible. I pray that all who read or hear this will seek to know Jesus while there is still time.

Strange times we live in

Well, it seems that the groundhog was right. We are all getting a bit more winter weather even in the deep South. In reality, winter doesn’t actually end until around March 21st anyway but the temperatures that are being felt in the southern part of the United States don’t come to our neck of the woods very often.

Life has a way of throwing curve balls when you least expect them and this happens to be one of them. I pray that when this winter storm moves north it doesn’t carry so much of a punch with it as it has had here. In other ramblings, the time that we are living in was foretold long ago in the Bible. Even the changes in the weather and the unusual way that politics is working in these last few years of the church age. All of it is found in Matthew 24 and in the beginning chapters of the book of the Revelation of Jesus Christ.

The truth is this: we aren’t living in the strangest of times, those are yet to come. I pray that most of you who read this have given your heart to Jesus and are reading His Word and learning of Him during these trying times. If you have not but you are curious about Christianity and the promises of His Word, please seek Him in the New Testament and do it soon. There are dangerous days ahead of us especially for those who have not made a commitment to Jesus and are following Him now. When He calls the believers home to be with Him the world for those who are left will be much worse in many ways than it is today.

Becoming a Christian today is not hard if you will answer the call on your heart when you feel it. Sometimes the touch of the Spirit is not very noticeable and sometimes He will call you in a dream so that you know exactly Who called you and that you can’t let it go until you are His. God knows the ones who will answer His call and the ones who will hear it but turn away so make sure that you are in the first group. Eternity is a very long time to live without God at all.

Right this moment we enjoy His blessings, although some people may not see their circumstances as blessings. We have air to breathe and usually a warm place to sleep at night. Food to sustain us and clothes to cover us. Some may not have these “luxuries” and to many people these simple things don’t sound like luxuries but to someone with no food to eat for a week or two just a small serving of fries from McDonald’s would be wonderful. Those of us who live in what is called the “developed” world who are poor in wealth would almost be considered rich in some countries.

God blesses us with far more than we deserve and yet there are so many without the necessities like clothing, shoes, water and shelter that many of us take for granted. Life is hard in many parts of the world that most of us in America will never see first hand. Even if we visited those places we wouldn’t want to stay and help because we cannot understand poverty of that magnitude. God knows each person on this Earth and He sees all of the conditions that they live in. Many of them cry out to Him even though they don’t know His name, their soul cries to the Maker of all there is and He hears their cry. He will repay those who could help but choose not to or are too greedy to help. When this age is over and the work that God is completing is finished they will have their reward or their punishment, whichever He gives to those who have done His will and to those who refused to follow Him and be the “light in the darkness” for this present age.

How powerful is your testimony?

Our witness to the world is found in our testimony. Your testimony and mine does not have to include every deed that you have done but it is supposed to show that God has saved you from your mistakes. All of us have them. Some are worse than others but even those who aren’t old enough to have done as much as others, God can save you from all of them.

Some people tell preachers that they have been too bad or even too evil to be considered as a convert to Christianity. There are no such people! God has accepted those who have been murderers, thieves, drug dealers and drug users, harlots and prostitutes and He will accept you as a child of His through Jesus Christ because you can reach someone that no one else can.

Your testimony is powerful enough to bring someone into the family of God and it is possible that you are the only person that can reach that person. They may belong to another church or they may not go to church but if you can talk to them, God will give you the words that can bring them into the family. It may even be someone who has known you for a long time. They know your past and what you did in years past before God changed your heart to serve Him. That person doesn’t exist if you have put away your sinful life and turned to follow Jesus. You cannot make them see the change, although they may see it but they don’t want that change. Sometimes they will reject your testimony because of pride or anger at you because of some slight or emotional hurt that you caused many years ago.

Ask the Lord to melt their hearts so that they can receive His message for their salvation because it may be that only He and His Word can do what your testimony and your changed life cannot do. Even Jesus could do few miracles in His home town because they looked on Him as the Son of Joseph and they had watched Him grow up with His brothers and sisters. They said “he’s the carpenter’s son, where did he learn these things?”

God has used so many people in the past and He still uses circumstances and problems and people today to get people who have rejected Him to turn back to Him. He used many of Israel’s enemies to chastise them when they were disobeying His commandments. He raised up a ruler in Egypt to oppress the people as slaves so that He could judge Egypt and their gods. God can use your life and your testimony to change people’s lives today as well. It may be something you say or something that you do that could cause them to seek God for their life’s troubles and their salvation. It may be something that you write or a sermon or an inspiring post or link on Facebook that gets their attention and turns them toward God.

Only God knows how you will accomplish His will in your life and it may not happen until your death or afterward but God can accomplish His will through you in some way to bring others to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.

Can God use me for His purposes?

Working for God and by extension Jesus as well is the most important job and, besides being a parent, is the most rewarding job that you can have. Does it pay well? Not in this life but when you repent of your sins and you’ve given your heart to Jesus, tell others about your Savior! God reward for His apostles and children is eternal life in heaven and being able to walk into a city where the streets are paved with pure gold.

He is the Creator and He knew you and me before we were born. Did He know that we would give our hearts to Him? Yes and He knows what you are capable of doing for Him and with Him in your life. When God knew you in the womb, He knew your capabilities. He knew then and now what you are capable of accomplishing for yourself and for His Kingdom. Just as He knew each and every person in the Old Testament and what they could do and would do if they would willingly follow His directions and do the things that He tells them to do.

God want us to obey His commands and directions and when we become His children by giving our lives to Him we should do this out of gratitude for His love. It was because of His love for us that Jesus came and paid the price for us on the cross. Jesus did this because of His love for each one of us and because He knew that we would be useful to Him and His Kingdom. Why? Because each of us has at least one person that we can reach for Jesus that nobody else can reach. Some of us may be able to tell many people about His love for us and what He did for our salvation.

The point is that in the past God has used a murderer and a pagan idol worshiper for His purposes. He used a prostitute and a gentile woman for his purposes. He used a donkey that spoke to his master for His purposes and He used a fish to carry Jonah to a city called Nineveh so that the people might be spared from the wrath of God. He is the Creator and He can use your talents even if you don’t think you have any.

Give your heart to Jesus and give your life and your talent to God’s Kingdom. He will show you what to do and where to go and it may just be down the street or across the hallway but He knows that you can reach that person and show them that He loves them too.

You can be blessed…

Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God. Matthew 5:9 KJV https://bible.com/bible/1/mat.5.9.KJV

Today we see so much violence and hate, but we are supposed to be peacemakers. Show Jesus’ love to those around you so that they will want it too.