Doctrine and discipline

No one gains entrance into heaven by their doctrine or their discipline. The only way into heaven is by believing in Jesus as your Savior and submitting your life to Him as your Lord and following Him in your everyday life and your spiritual life daily not just once a week. Church services and the preaching you hear there are for your edification and your ability to learn from God’s Word and the preacher has been called to teach you and your church from that Word.

The grace of God is when He gives us good things that we don’t deserve. Mercy is when He saves us from the punishment or “bad things” that we do deserve. The blessings of God are when He is generous with both!

All of us who are Christians can only gain salvation through our belief in Jesus Christ as our Savior. There are not going to be sections of heaven where we are separated by our doctrine or “discipline”. You either believe in Jesus for your salvation or you don’t. There are many who will not like this news because some haven’t heard this in church…but it is true.

God sent His Son to make salvation available to us by our belief in Him and the atonement that was bought with His blood and His death on the cross. This is the only way to gain our eternity in the presence of God. Only with the righteousness of Christ by the blood of Jesus can we approach the throne of God. There are no denominations that will be preferred in heaven because the only pathway to Heaven is by belief in Jesus Christ and no other. Congregations split over small and inconsistent ideas and problems and this should not be happening but Satan comes into the church and causes it in order to split God’s people over little things. I pray that God will draw the true Christians back together as a church before it is too late.

The word “but…”

Many times you read it or hear it said, “but, they followed their own way”, and that is when things go wrong. There are also places in the Bible where the writer says “but God remembered” and it is usually those “but God” moments that really make a difference not only in the nation of Israel but in our lives too. It is those times when we decide not to follow Jesus and we create our own “but” moments. “But I want to do it this way or that way”; the problem with this is if you have been called to be a Christian, you are supposed to be following Jesus in your daily life. Yet, we look at our lives and, if we are honest, we can see that our lives work with Jesus as our Savior until we decide that we know better and we come to one of these “but, I want to…” moments.

It is unequivocally clear that it is at those times when we get off of the pathway that Jesus is leading us on simply because we see something off to the side that we want to pursue. It might be a shiny new car or this new job but it isn’t what God was leading you toward. So we follow our own desires in that “but” moment. It is usually at this point that we find that this new path or job or whatever it is that we wanted isn’t what we thought it was. Then…we have to come back into a right relationship with Jesus and begin again on His path.

That little three-letter word “but” can bring a lot of heartache and misery into our lives. Especially when we are just starting our walk with Jesus. We will get distracted by something or someone and walk off into the briar patch and then realize that we have gotten into something that we shouldn’t have gotten into. Sometimes we realize it right away but most often it is after we have been off of the “narrow way” following Jesus for a while. The best part of following Jesus is that He never walks away from us. He is always right next to us and when we decide that our way isn’t working, Jesus takes our hand and we begin again.

While it is true that life is a highway, it is the narrow path that leads toward your eternal home. The highway may be smooth and easy but the path that leads to eternity, even though it is narrow, it is more productive and it doesn’t have the same dangers that are on the “easy path”. That little word and thought, “but…”, can lead you into some wonderful places but it can also lead you down some dangerous roads. Seek out and follow Jesus while there is time.

Seeking Joy!

Life, as a Christian, can be described in many ways. For some, it is a journey toward a joyous reunion with your Savior. For others, especially those who don’t want to believe in Jesus as their Savior, it represents a drab and dull existence that they have no intention of getting involved in. Have you ever thought of what a joy it is to live with Jesus as your Savior on a daily walk with Him? Why do I use the word “joy” rather than “happiness”? Because joy is a state of mind that doesn’t require outside stimulation to attain. Happiness is an emotion that is fleeting and never permanent.

The joy of the Lord is my strength” is an expression of joy from the Lord toward His people when they were brought back from captivity and were able to live in their land and worship Him in their Temple again. Why wouldn’t He be joyful? God is joyful every time someone repents and turns to Jesus for their salvation. That is why Jesus said that the angels of God rejoice over one sinner brought to salvation!

God loves every one of us, but He doesn’t love the sinful lives that we lead here on Earth. Until we repent and turn away from our sins and give our hearts to Jesus, we are still lost in our sin. When you feel the Holy Spirit touch your soul and your heart letting you know that you need Him as your Savior, don’t turn away from Him. You may not get another chance and it is during this life that you must choose. There are no second chances after you die. You will stand before Him and give an account of your life and why you didn’t choose to follow Jesus.

After you have given your life to Him and you know that you have salvation in your heart, the joy that you feel will never go away. Every time you think about eternity and your life with Jesus…a smile will come to your face.

Counting down

Life, as we have known it over the past few decades, is soon coming to an end. The first couple of decades of this century has been pretty hectic and enjoyable to a certain extent. Yes, there have been some terrorist bombings and quite a number of shootings but for most of America, this century has been pretty good. We never did win the war on terror but that is because there are no winners in a war that has religion as its driving force. The main point that I am getting to about the “count down” is that everything is going according to God’s plan.

If you have read Matthew 24 or the book of Daniel and some of the first few chapters in Revelation, you can see most of the prophecies coming true to some extent every day in the news. Why do I point this out? Because there are few people in our nation who are paying attention to the comparison between the news and those books of prophecy that I mentioned. We truly are counting down toward an ending that I believe will arrive much sooner than we are ready for.

Are you ready for that day? When the dead in Christ will rise to meet the Lord in the air and those who belong to Him and are still alive will join them. When that happens, the economies of the world will crash. There will be many who will wonder what happened and there will be a few who will still be here that will know exactly what happened. If you believe that we are in a recession now, just wait until many millions disappear without a trace.

Can you be ready for this when it comes? If you give your life to Jesus and follow Him today and for the rest of your life then you will be ready for that day when it arrives. Is there any other way to get ready for the taking away of the church? NO! Belief in Jesus and following Him as your Savior is the only way. Nothing that you try to add to it will make any difference. God has made this easy but so many want to “help” Him with their salvation. There is nothing that we can add to His work that He completed on the cross and in rising from the tomb.

Our efforts are only useful when we have given our hearts to Him and the service that we do after that only adds to our rewards in heaven. We can’t help God save us or to consecrate our lives more by accepting Jesus as our Savior. Reading the Bible, studying it daily so we will know His voice, and washing our minds with the pure water of the Word every day are the ways that we can become mature in our faith and become more like Jesus.

Seek Him in everything that you do. Look for ways to let others know that God loves them and then show it by your actions as well. Be His disciple daily so people will see Him by your words and your actions so they might want the relationship you have with Him.

What are you doing for Him?

What are you doing for Him? Have you ever wondered about your life as a Christian? We usually ask God for our provisions, our needs, and our problems. Do you see the pattern here? We are called by God, prompted by His Holy Spirit to give our hearts and our lives to Him as our sacrifice to Him because of His grace toward us through Jesus’ sacrifice. We are supposed to give because He gave His only Son’s life for you and me. 

Yet we have the audacity to claim Jesus as our Savior and then pray for our selfish desires and our problems without a thought for His requirement of us being His servants and His disciples. And we expect Him to answer our prayers right now! Not next week! How arrogant we are. Can you see what I’m trying to illustrate here?

Your life, as a Christian, should be centered on doing the work that we have been called to do by Jesus. What is that exactly? First and foremost it is being a witness to those around you at home or at work or even in public. Remember, Jesus told His disciples to go and tell others about Him and what HE did for them. That same command is extended to each of us today because people need to know about their Savior. If you and I don’t tell them, how will they know? 

When I was lost, the only reason I went to church was that I had no choice. My mom went to church on Sunday and I had to go with her. I had been in church for as long as I can remember but when I became a teenager is when I began to rebel against my “expectations”. I’m not going into all of the details of my early life but I was a part of a “broken home” as they called them in the 70s. It isn’t uncommon today but back then it was. I didn’t get into drugs much but alcohol and a little “weed” were my friends or so I thought.

When you accept Jesus as your Savior, you are supposed to move away from your old self and follow Him into your new life. I thought I did this for a long time but I kept drinking and smoking for a long time. I was doing things that a born-again person isn’t supposed to do. It wasn’t until I became a father twenty-two years ago that I really began to reach out and seek God for my salvation. I had been baptized a couple of times but all that did was get me wet but I was still lost.

It has taken twenty years of study and seeking God to bring me to a point where I feel comfortable telling others about my Savior. I even served as a “lay-preacher” for almost ten years and there was a lot of growing in Christ that happened during that time as well. What is my point? It is this: If you truly belong to Him, you should be telling others about Him. 

Don’t back up or think they will be offended. Some of them may be but they still need to hear it because you might be the only person who will tell them. God can use your talent to touch those around you and sometimes you are the only person that can get His message to at least one person in particular. It may be someone in your family or someone you work with but they may not listen to anyone else but you and your story. Plant the seed of your story in Christ so that they may decide to turn to Him as well. You may never know if they gave their heart to Jesus until you see them in Heaven but you may be surprised by how many you did influence that you never even spoke to.