The human condition


In our depravity and lack of the knowledge of Jesus Christ, we are totally lost in our sins. It is only by the grace of God and His mercy that we come to the knowledge of our need for salvation. When we are caught on the hook of God’s call toward us we will come to Jesus because we recognize our need of Him. If we were not caught like a fish by God’s love and mercy we would never come to the knowledge of our need for Him. That is what is wrong with our world today. People are more interested in following their own ideas and their paths toward what they “think” is salvation and a pathway to Heaven and they are deceived by their thinking and by the world around them.

WhoisTheChurchMany people today seem to be on a pathway which will take them to a place where they don’t want to go. They mostly think that they are good enough to go to Heaven yet they deny, at times, the existence of God and His grace toward them. Many of them know “about” God or have heard of Him and maybe His Son, but they have never felt convicted of their sins. Many of them don’t attend church services except on special occasions or holidays. Life for them is a trek from one problem to the next and many of them don’t think about God or their need of Him until something happens in their life which they can’t control or even their doctor doesn’t have control of either. That is when they turn to the One Who they have heard which can heal or help when nobody else can.

Turning to God when you truly feel the need for Him and His mercy and grace is a good thing but if you only turn to Him because of an illness or a financial need, that doesn’t do your salvation…the condition of your soul any good at all. Especially when your “need” is met or if your prayer for someone doesn’t turn out the way you were hoping for. Many times when a loved one dies that they have been praying for, that is when their heart turns bitter toward God for not answering their desperate plea for healing.

God hears your prayers and sometimes He will answer them even if you aren’t a Christian but sometimes you won’t like His answer. Healing can take the form of taking your sick partner or wife or child into Heaven if they have given their heart to Jesus. Which may not be the answer you were hoping for, but God doesn’t have to do things the way you want them to be done. Even Christian families don’t get their prayers answered in the way in which they want all of the time.

themissingpieceGod is sovereign and He answers prayer in His way and in His time because He is God. It isn’t because He doesn’t want the best for His children, which we are, but since He is in control of all things He can see the outcome of the answer much better than we can. He can see what would happen if you won the lottery or the sweepstakes and it may not be the outcome that you think it would. Which is why He allows some things which seem bad on the outside to happen to good people. He also allows some people to actually get the good life that they want even when we don’t understand His way of doing things.

God is Holy and it is our sinful heart which keeps us from being in His Presence most of the time. Until you feel the conviction of the Holy Spirit which draws those in the world to come to Jesus, you can’t just “decide” to become a Christian. His Spirit has to hook you into coming by allowing you to see just how messed up your life is in comparison to Jesus. When you do realize this, you will come to Him.

Dear America,


Have you considered that we have never looked at our condition religiously? Our country and its people have never actually thought of Christianity as our religion. Specifically, since our government doesn’t endorse or choose any particular religion for our nation. Our people have many denominations and religions in our country and today we also have many who don’t claim any belief in God or religion.

So have you thought about any of this? Is it possible that we truly need religion? There are so many who commit suicide on a daily basis and we have so many who are struggling with drugs and alcohol on a daily basis too. So…what is the fix or the cure for this emptiness which we seem to be dealing with?

themissingpieceWhether our country as a whole wants to believe it or not, the answer actually is a relationship with Jesus. The empty place in all of our lives which we try to fill with all sorts of things from sex or money or careers and even family is only filled by one Person. Jesus Christ. That is the missing piece of the puzzle which we have been searching for all of our lives!

It isn’t a hard thing to do but in a society which prides itself on its independence, individually and collectively, we don’t want to depend upon any one person whether it is a Savior or even a spouse or a friend. Except when you look at the feeling of hope which He brings into our collective conscience. So why don’t we look to Him for our hope? Why can’t we do this so our country can have more hope?

Hope hasn’t died but to look at the news, you would think it has. Hope is in the Person of Jesus, Love is Jesus and He is Love for all of us because He did love us enough to give His life on the cross to pay the debt which we owed because of our sins. Even those of us where weren’t born when He did this still owe the debt if we haven’t given our hearts to Him.

I pray that those of you reading this will give Jesus a chance in your life. If for no other reason than to fill that empty place and give you hope for eternity and a heart full of gratitude for a Creator Who loves you more than you can imagine. Please, seek Jesus out for your soul and for your eternal hope because it is needed in our country today.

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.

 

Cliche’


Life is not supposed to be lived while spouting cliche’s almost all of the time. When someone asks you how you feel, don’t tell them “I’m fine” because you know it isn’t true. At least not the way you mean it. I have been in doctor’s offices and heard friends meeting in the waiting room. They ask each other how they are doing and those words are the first that I hear from either of them, “I’m fine”.

NO, they are NOT fine! If they were they wouldn’t be in the waiting room to see the doctor! You know as well as I do that people do this all of the time. We are lying to our friends and we are lying to God as well! Why do I put it that way? Because, if your life is fine then you don’t have any problems, none. Your family is doing great, all of your bills are paid and your credit score is 800!

NOBODY is that perfect!!

Life doesn’t work that way! You know it and I do as well.

God loves you and the only place where life will truly be perfect is when you and I get to Heaven. There won’t be any cell phones or clocks, no disease, and no lottery or sweepstakes to try to win money from. But…until that time and place is a reality, we are all a good deal less than “doing fine”. Do you believe this? I do.

Perfect peace and harmony aren’t possible on this side of Heaven. Even though some fictional shows declare that we can achieve this through technology and by realizing that God is not real. I hate to break it to you but He is real! The Bible and all of those prophecies couldn’t be some fictional book made up by some old men because mankind cannot know the future, especially what will happen hundreds of years in the future.

Cliche’ or twisted words are what the serpent used to get Eve to try the fruit from the tree which God had commanded them NOT to eat of. Truly, cliche’s are words or phrases which are used so much that their meaning is lost. When you twist someone else’s words then you are creating a cliche and that is exactly what the Serpent did in the garden.

There are people who do this all the time, they are called lawyers and politicians. If you don’t believe me, listen to a recording of their arguments in court or the way that their laws are worded in the legislature.

God loves us but telling people that you are doing well or fine is usually a lie in the first place and that is a sin in God’s court. Anything which is beyond the truth is a lie and it doesn’t matter what you call it. A “fib” is a lie, a little white lie is still a lie, any untruth is a lie but Satan tries to tell you and me that they don’t mean anything unless they are really BIG lies! WRONG!! Make sure that your relationship is with God and His Son, Jesus because Satan can disguise himself as an angel since he was one a long time ago. He is very skilled at making people believe things which aren’t true as if they are.

So, make sure of the spirit that you are hearing is actually from God. As the scripture says, “Test the spirits with God’s Word”, then you will be safe when you hear it and listen to it. If it isn’t from God and it doesn’t line up with Scripture, then don’t listen to it and get away from it.

Time is ticking away…


IamtheWayWe are almost a whole month into the new year already! So what else is new you might ask? Well, our time on Earth is ticking away too. God has promised that His Son will return one day and since most of the signs which point toward that event have already happened, the only event keeping it from happening is God’s timing. He is possibly waiting for the last sinner to be saved, I don’t know which event God is waiting for.

I can guarantee that when the specific event happens, the trumpet will sound and the dead in Christ will rise to meet Him in the air and all who are alive on Earth will know when this happens! Soon after this, those of us who are alive will be changed and we will meet Him in the air to be taken to Heaven. There will be much confusion and likely many deaths because of pilots who are Christians will be gone. People driving their car or a bus or a semi-tractor rig or even a boat will all be taken up to meet Him in the air and there will not be a warning of this impending event.

Yes, time is slowly ticking away. For some of us, it is ticking quite fast, but your time and mine are moving toward this event. Whether you believe in Jesus or not, time is still moving in that direction. When He comes for those who know Him and have given their lives and their heart to Him, as the Scripture says “it will happen in the blink of an eye“. You may even be talking to a friend who is a Christian, and suddenly they are gone. Their clothes and shoes and their wedding band and watch are all on the ground or at the place where they were sitting…but they are gone!

Now what?

If you are a Christian, then you will be where they are..in Heaven. If you are not a Christian then you need to get busy seeking God, fast! Because soon things on this Earth will become very different from yesterday. If you have read the Bible-based fiction of the Left Behind series, you will know what is about to happen. If you have ever studied the book of Revelation you will know what is about to take place. Don’t discount prophecy in the Bible because God’s Word always comes true, regardless of how other “experts” interpret it.

eternityDon’t wait until that day to seek Jesus out! Will there be others who are seeking Him? Yes, but their numbers will be far fewer than you might believe. Many people who are going to seek Him out will be wondering why was I left behind? I went to church pretty regularly and I prayed and studied my Sunday school lessons at least sometimes. What went wrong?

Actually, nothing went wrong except your belief in Jesus and your acceptance of Him as your Savior. You knew about Him and you read enough to know about salvation and what was required BUT you didn’t actually believe it! You didn’t think that salvation was as easy as it was for the thief on the cross. Belief doesn’t require money or works or witnessing to others. It just takes a sincere belief in the Person of Jesus and what He did on the cross for you to be forgiven.

Think about it because another hour has gone by since I began writing and we can’t get it back. Seek Him out and know that He loves you and is waiting for you to believe in Him enough to ask Him into your heart. What more do you need to do?

What kind of impact will you make?


We are starting a new year, not exactly an Earth-shaking event. But…will you have an impact in our world or your world this year? Sometimes we make resolutions for the year when it is brand new and fresh but after a couple of paychecks and possibly a trip to the doctor’s office…well those resolutions get placed in the closet until next year. So, can we have an impact on those we love or the workplace?

GodisNearActually, we can IF we will let God into our lives and let Him influence our living from day-to-day! I know that there are people who don’t like to hear about religion in general, regardless of whether Jesus is part of it! But, the fact is that everyone needs Him whether we realize it or accept it or not!

Could we have an impact on the world without allowing Jesus into our lives on a daily basis? Yes, but it wouldn’t have an eternal outcome if we did it all on our own. Teachers in high school and college have an impact on their student’s lives during the year, but how much do you remember of tenth-grade algebra class? I would guess that, like me, you don’t really remember much of it (unless you actually work in a field that you USE it every day)!

Being a Christian is very different from learning algebra or geometry because it is a decision which we are called to by God and the Holy Spirit. It is not a decision that you make on your own, although you do have to decide to accept the offer of salvation from Jesus. You can’t just decide that today I am going to become a Christian because it is a calling from God which prompts you to realize that you need Jesus in your life.

Being a Christian and living life as a Christian is not a hard thing to do, but it is a life that you have to learn to do. Studying the Bible and learning about the grace of God and His plan for your life is part of living your life for Jesus! Repenting or walking away from your sins is another part of being a true Christian. Sitting in church or Sunday school once or twice a month and not changing your lifestyle doesn’t make you a Christian. Although many people who go to church once or twice a year think that they are Christians, even though they haven’t been baptized or changed anything about their lives!

You can have an impact in this world and in eternity by living your life for Christ so that others will see its effect on you and want what you have.

Contentment


Are you content with your life? Sometimes I am but there are some months where the money and the bills don’t quite get together and I am sure that I am not the only one going through this! But, contentment with life or with your family and your Savior is another step in a totally different direction. Being content and happy with your family is an up and down ride. One day or maybe next week or an hour from now, it could all blow up in your face. That is what “walking with your family” means and just as Jesus spoke of walking with Him, your spiritual life can have ups and downs too.

There are times when you may have a day or two off from work and everything goes pretty well….then all hell breaks loose and things get sour quickly! A bill didn’t get paid on time or the dishes aren’t washed yet or someone woke up on a tack because of a dream or something. Yes, there are times where a pastor’s family life goes to hell too!

RomanRoad2SalvationThose are the days when I need a place to go to my office or even to the church and just pray and read the Bible with no phone calls or anything to interrupt the relative quiet. I say relative quiet because we have a couple of gravel pits close to us and there is always traffic going by, sometimes loudly.

Seeking God’s peace in spite of the sounds around you and the problems which will still be there is imperative for anyone, not just a pastor. You have to seek out the calming Presence in the midst of the storm because He is the only One Who can bring calm to it and give us the wisdom to get through it too. God loves each one of us, regardless of our religion or lack of faith and He loves us perfectly even when we haven’t made a decision to follow Him.

Some might wonder, “Why does God care about me?”. It is because He is our Creator, whether you believe it or not and He knows if or when you will seek Him out. He also knows the circumstances which will bring you closer to that point as well. Since God is omniscient then He also knows how to bring you into His Kingdom to do those things which He has planned for you to do.

Sometimes it takes many years to bring each of us to that point, then some of us hear His call when we decide to give our hearts to Jesus. Thankfully, God understands people being stubborn and hard-headed because He has had to deal with us from the beginning. I am not speaking about His people, the Israelites, but the entire human race. We have been rebelling against His ways for a long time and we are still doing it.

We don’t like some passages in the Bible or we don’t think we should be told what to do with our lives and we certainly don’t like His Truth to be absolute, even though it is. I pray that all of you who read this blog have given your heart to Jesus and are following Him in your life. If you are not or have not made that decision, then I suggest that you not wait too much longer. I don’t know when He will call the church home, but when that happens it will be much harder to make that decision from that point on.

Disenchanted with religion


I got an email this morning with a link to an article which is disturbing, but very likely normal for the generation called millennials. After I read the article I noticed that the author had a point at the beginning of the article. Anyone, whether a teen or a young adult would question their faith in those instances. Many of us do, whether we are from the “baby boomer” generation or any of the later generations.

My point here is that when you find that your priest or your pastor or even your church doesn’t live up to the standards taught in the Bible, find another place to go. Read and study your Bible and do it at least once a year. I read through the Bible at least once every year and I find that when my reading plan is finished, I feel good about it but after a few days away from reading the Bible I feel empty.

I don’t feel better until I start reading it again, from the beginning all the way through. I used to wonder “how can someone do that?” After I read a book, unless it was a really good book, I usually don’t read it again, because it is like watching the same movie over and over. The Bible is totally different! It is alive through the Spirit of God and it reads you too. I usually find something new or get a better understanding of a scripture after I read it over again. I see or understand a part of it which I didn’t get before, that is why I read it through over and over again.

No, none of us are perfect but if we strive to live our life as a reflection of Jesus, then our life will be much better and it will be our witness for Him for everyone to see. One of the most disturbing problems in our country today is the low numbers of young people attending church services. It seems that by the time they reach puberty or maybe a little older, they decide that church is not for them.

Some parents are responsible for this as well because I see too many drive up to a church, drop their kids off or have their parents bring the grandkids to church and they don’t attend. Your children learn and do the things which they see you doing, so don’t blame them or the schools for their bad behavior when they get to college!

While it is true that many of our church leaders and celebrities and even our elected officials haven’t set a very good example for children to follow, it is their parents who are mostly responsible for how they turn out. If you read your Bible and pray and go to church then your children will pick up on it and usually they will follow your lead. Why am I bringing this up? Because if children don’t learn about God and Jesus and salvation at home, nobody else is going to teach them…especially the schools and colleges!

Don’t make God seem to be a punisher of your sins and don’t harp on how sleazy the TV shows are either. We are not holy even as Christians, we have been given the righteousness of Jesus through our faith in Him! God loves every person on Earth, but He doesn’t like their lifestyles sometimes or the “god” that some worship. The creation around us points toward God and His Son in all that is so perfectly set up and working in it. We are not an accident nor is the universe or our solar system, it was created for a purpose…God’s purpose, and we are too!week-of-creation

Sermon for today


Romans 15                         10/8/2017

Beginning where we left off last week in chapter 14, we read what Paul was exhorting the Christians in Rome to do:

13 Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in the way of a brother or sister. 14 I am convinced, being fully persuaded in the Lord Jesus, that nothing is unclean in itself. But if anyone regards something as unclean, then for that person it is unclean. 15 If your brother or sister is distressed because of what you eat, you are no longer acting in love. Do not by your eating destroy someone for whom Christ died. 16 Therefore do not let what you know is good be spoken of as evil. 17 For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, 18 because anyone who serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God and receives human approval.

19 Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification. 20 Do not destroy the work of God for the sake of food. All food is clean, but it is wrong for a person to eat anything that causes someone else to stumble. 21 It is better not to eat meat or drink wine or to do anything else that will cause your brother or sister to fall.

22 So whatever you believe about these things keep between yourself and God. Blessed is the one who does not condemn himself by what he approves. 23 But whoever has doubts is condemned if they eat, because their eating is not from faith; and everything that does not come from faith is sin.

We are to keep our faith in Christ Jesus and follow His teaching. Doing those things which would build up anyone who may be young or new in their faith. If you don’t drink, don’t start. If you do, then don’t do it in front of someone who is new in their faith toward Jesus. Anything which we do in front of our children or in front of someone who is “weak” in their faith, can cause them to stumble because they saw or heard us say something or eat or drink something. If your spirit hasn’t condemned you for drinking or eating certain things, that’s fine. But if it could cause a child in the faith to stumble, make sure that you don’t do it in front of them, for their sake at least.

I don’t mean for you to live in a “do as I say and not as I do” way, Paul wasn’t meaning that either. But, if your life has anything in it which might cause a child in faith or in age to stumble in their following of Jesus, then don’t do it! If you wouldn’t do something in front of Jesus Himself, then it isn’t right to do it in front of anyone else either!

Romans 15

1 We then that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to please ourselves. 2 Let every one of us please his neighbour for his good to edification. 3 For even Christ pleased not himself; but, as it is written, The reproaches of them that reproached thee fell on me. 4 For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope. 5 Now the God of patience and consolation grant you to be like-minded one toward another according to Christ Jesus: 6 That ye may with one mind and one mouth glorify God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

7 Wherefore receive ye one another, as Christ also received us to the glory of God.

Christ the Servant of Jews and Gentiles
8 Now I say that Jesus Christ was a minister of the circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made unto the fathers:

9 And that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy; as it is written, For this cause I will confess to thee among the Gentiles, and sing unto thy name.

10 And again he saith, Rejoice, ye Gentiles, with his people.

11 And again, Praise the Lord, all ye Gentiles; and laud him, all ye people.

12 And again, Esaias saith, There shall be a root of Jesse, and he that shall rise to reign over the Gentiles; in him shall the Gentiles trust.

13 Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost.

Paul the Minister to the Gentiles
14 And I myself also am persuaded of you, my brethren, that ye also are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge, able also to admonish one another. 15 Nevertheless, brethren, I have written the more boldly unto you in some sort, as putting you in mind, because of the grace that is given to me of God, 16 That I should be the minister of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles, ministering the gospel of God, that the offering up of the Gentiles might be acceptable, being sanctified by the Holy Ghost.

We are to be Jesus’ example to those around us, even when we don’t feel like it. God sent Jesus to us to give us an example of how to live as He did and with His strength guiding us. Because only with His Spirit giving us direction and strength can we be like Christ. In our human-centered thinking, we can’t be like Jesus, we can’t love those who hate us, we can’t give our life for others if we don’t have Jesus giving us the power and His will to do so.

These attributes of Christian living aren’t the normal way that Christians live, but it is the way that we should live our lives through Jesus.

Is living this way easy? No, it isn’t because every day your old spirit, the you which was there before Jesus came into your heart and changed you, is still being used by Satan to tempt you away from being like Christ. To take you away from being the example that everyone SHOULD see because you have been transformed into a “new creature in Christ”. 2 Cor. 5:17

We are not supposed to allow our “old self” to control our life after giving our heart to Jesus. We are supposed to live and be like those who came from the upper room on during Pentecost. Boldly speaking the truth of Jesus and His saving grace for us, regardless of who hears it or what they may say about us. Be the Christian which God intended for you to be, not the one which hides on the back row and keeps your salvation a secret from your so-called “friends”! They need Him too, but if you don’t tell them about Him….how will they find out if they don’t go to church or read the Bible?

That is our job, our purpose in this life to be more like Jesus and less like us.

Conclusions


In our society, we draw conclusions about everything and most of the time we do it immediately. Especially when it comes to violence in a public place. Writers for many publications are disavowing any responsibility when it comes to owning the reason for any crime which has a violent outcome. In spite of our collective ideas of terrorism, whether it is done by a person of color or of a certain religion, we still tend toward segregation of blame.

If you are Muslim, then you were radicalized. If you are African-American then you are angry; about what doesn’t seem to matter, but that is what the pundits on “news” programs label people as. But when the person is white, they are labeled as insane and a gun nut or even disturbed because of PTSD. Yet, many of them bought their weapons legally with background checks and apparently passed those checks multiple times.

bible-verses-about-the-downheartedThe shooter in the most recent event bought quite a number of guns, some modified to fire more quickly like an automatic. According to what we have heard so far, he actually bought these legally with background checks. So, why didn’t the number of purchases by one individual not raise a flag or at least suspicion? Even if he passed the background checks, the amount of ammunition bought and the number of guns purchased should have gotten someone’s attention.

Why do we or at least some in America make snap judgments about each other and about people who buy firearms and use them. It is true that we only think these things when some person uses a firearm to take lives in a way that is inconsistent with society or its norms. But honestly, any life taken is one which was taken too soon! Murder is against the law of man and God as well! It doesn’t matter if you kill someone with a knife or a gun or a bomb, murder is still against God’s law!

What can make someone snap to the point of shooting at people just because they are convenient targets? I will never understand the kind of crazy that sounds like!

Was God there? Yes, in the first responders who came to the aid of those in danger. He was there with the police who stormed the hotel and found the killer who was taking lives like targets on a range. Yes, God was there and He is still there giving comfort and strength to families and friends and to those who are recovering! We all need to pray for the victims and for our country because there could be another person who may snap and begin to do this somewhere else.

Seek Him out in all things and look for God in every place where you are because He is there, sad though He may be because of our intent and because of the apathy that is in our society today. God still cares and loves all of us, whether we return that love or not is our choice.