No weapon that is formed against you shall prosper; and every tongue that shall rise against you in judgment you shall condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of Yahweh, and their righteousness which is of me, says Yahweh. (Isaiah 54:17 )
My title here seems to be a silly one actually. I mean come on! God loves each and every person on this Earth! His Son came and died for ALL of our sins, not for just a few! What sort of God would do such a thing? Give part of Himself over to live as a human being on a ball of earth and water just to die on a cross for our sins? He is our Creator and our Redeemer and our Savior, that is the God that we serve!
But…what if you don’t believe this? What can you say about God and His love for you if you haven’t trusted Jesus as your Savior? If you are in that position, then I suggest that you seek Him out for your salvation soon. Because the time of grace which the world has enjoyed for the past two thousand years or so is coming to an end. I won’t be presumptuous or vain enough to even try to give you an idea of a date or year in which He will return, but He is coming soon.
I can give you an example of His promise for Israel, which also applies to us today. This was given to the prophet Jeremiah around the time of Judah’s captivity in Babylon:
10 For thus saith the LORD, That after seventy years be accomplished at Babylon I will visit you, and perform my good word toward you, in causing you to return to this place. 11 For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end. 12 Then shall ye call upon me, and ye shall go and pray unto me, and I will hearken unto you. 13 And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart. 14 And I will be found of you, saith the LORD: and I will turn away your captivity, and I will gather you from all the nations, and from all the places whither I have driven you, saith the LORD; and I will bring you again into the place whence I caused you to be carried away captive. (Jeremiah 29: 10-14)
The “expected end” which God is talking about here is for the children of Israel to come out of Babylon and to have learned to trust God and serve Him instead of other gods as they had been doing since coming into the promised land.
God also has our life and our outcome in His hands as well. Believing in His grace for your life is required and if you have faith to believe in Him for your salvation, then you are already there. God can and does use us in His Kingdom iF we will listen to Him and follow His lead in doing His will.
Is it possible for us to be this obedient? Yes, if you will follow God’s will for your life. Many people come to church to get their “fire insurance” in order to stay out of hell, but the real problem comes along when those same people claim that they are saved and then their life doesn’t show a change from before they accepted Jesus.
I don’t mean that you are judging their salvation but whether it was genuine. Why do I say this? Because IF there is a true change in their heart through the Holy Spirit, there is no way that they can turn back to their old way of life or their sinful ways which held them in bondage before their salvation! Because when the Holy Spirit makes a change in your heart, you can’t undo it…it is permanent.
This idea just came to me while I was reading a story about Christianity. The only explanation that I can give you for the title is that the Spirit placed the idea in my mind. I am not Jewish, although I have read a Jewish Bible complete with the New Testament. The three ideas in the title: the Exodus, the Bread and the Wine are intimately tied to the nation and people of Israel.
The Exodus is their liberation from bondage as slaves in Egypt for over four hundred years. It is not unlike our own lives in that we were slaves to our life of sin and rebellion toward God. Now, for some of us this rebellion wasn’t an active rebellion and we may not have known that what we were doing was sinful in the sight of God. Why do I say it that way? Because many of us asked Jesus to become our Savior at an early age, say 8 or 12 years. I barely knew what the word “sin” meant and honestly I didn’t think that my life could’ve been classified as sinful, at that time.
During the exodus from Egypt, the Israelites were glad to be out of bondage but they didn’t know this God Who had called them out of bondage. Which is why it took forty years for them to get to the point of going into the land which had been promised to them. Even after all of the miracles and provision that God provided for them during this time, they still rebelled against Him in their Promised Land.
Sounds a bit like us actually. When we learn about God and what He asks of us, don’t we rebel a bit? I mean, we like the idea of forgiveness and eternal life but “being in a state of prayerful thought” on a daily basis is a bit much don’t you think? Not really, if you consider what this really means. The analogy that I like goes something like this: When you go to the doctor and you tell him you have had a cold and a cough for about a week, you don’t mean that you have been coughing for a whole week. Just that you have had a persistent cough which has hung around for that length of time. It is the same with praying without ceasing. It doesn’t mean that you pray 24 hours a day, but you wake with a prayerful attitude of thankfulness that you are alive today. You thank God for your health and your breakfast. You thank Him for being able to go to work or school or whatever you are doing today.
That is an attitude of prayer without ceasing.
It gets you through your exodus in this life, every day and night, all through your life! This is your “daily cross”.
The Bread is reading and prayerfully studying the Bible. Learning more about God and what He requires of His people, Israelite and Gentile. If you don’t know what is required or asked of you, how will you know what to do with your life on a daily basis? The only way to know is to read and study His Word with prayer for understanding at least a few days during the week. I don’t mean that you should read the Bible for a whole day, but a chapter or two a day for a few days at a time will get your mind washed in His Word and keep it on His ideas and wisdom.
The Wine is what you partake of through giving your heart and your life to Jesus, asking Him to come in and change you into a child of God. This is part of your walk, your life with Him and it begins your exodus from your old life, your old ways, into a life that is lived in and through Jesus! It is a daily process. Salvation, if you truly are sincere about it, comes immediately when you ask for it. Your sanctification and becoming more like Jesus is the walk, prayerfully with Him every day. Your exodus or your walking away from your old life comes when you have asked Him to come in and change you into a new creation!
Just as the trek through the desert wasn’t easy for the children of Israel, the process of becoming a Christian and becoming more like Christ won’t be easy either. There will be days or times where you will stumble and fall, but Jesus is there to help you get up. If you have studied the Bible, then you can fall onto the wisdom that you have gained through it when the times get tough.
The life of a Christian isn’t always easy or sure. There will be bumps and bruises during your walk with Jesus, but He is still there with you through it all. The wisdom that you gain from His Word, His Bread and His Wine will last you through eternity and you won’t regret any of it when you see Him in His Glory one day!
I often wonder this very thing some days. Recently and many years in the past, I have wondered exactly what happened. Sometimes it has something to do with daily life, sometimes I wonder this in the context of reading my Bible. Why did this happen this way or why would God do this or allow this to happen?
There are times when we get up and begin our day, wondering what happened. Some days it seems that this is an all too common theme of our lives. How can we get around it or keep these moments from becoming the norm rather than the exception? Well…that is where the answer gets a little more complicated. I don’t mean that you or I have to change our lives or our addresses to move beyond those moments of being “blindsided” by…well, life itself.
God does care about these areas of your life, whether you think He does or not. He cares about all of the tiny details of your life and mine, but many times that is where we fail to let Him in. Why do we sabotage that relationship? Because we don’t think that the Creator could possibly care about how our house looks or where the car keys happen to be hiding! But…He does care!
It is hard for us to imagine God caring about every detail in our lives, no matter how small or insignificant those details may be. But the truth is that He does care, about all of the details of our lives IF we will allow Him into those areas of our lives. Many people ask Jesus to be their Savior, but when they feel that He wants in on all of the areas of their lives they close the door on some part that they want to keep for themselves.
Those personal areas are not just yours, God gave you those hobbies and abilities and He likes to see you use them…for Him. For His purposes and His Kingdom come before anything else and those purposes, His purposes, don’t have to be things which we don’t like. God can use a fisherman or a tent-maker or a poet and a musician. He can use a shepherd boy or a young man with a coat of many colors to accomplish His purposes.
All of those people, including you and me, have been used by God to do wonderful things for His Kingdom. Some of us have been used in ways that we don’t even know about until much later and some of us may not find out about something which we said or did until we meet a person in Heaven and they tell us about it. Maybe even something which I write here will influence someone to make a change in their life toward God and His purposes.
Even playing pool or basketball or any number of other sports can lead to one of you opening up about your faith or lack of faith, which opens a door for telling them your story, your witness for Jesus. Riding a motorcycle or a horse can also bring Jesus into the conversation. A “what happened?” moment can come out of many things, but the answer to that is: Jesus.
In all things, big or small, Jesus, the Son of God, the Living Word has had an influence whether you realize it or not. Every little decision or discovery that has ever happened, especially if you happen to be a Christian, He has had a part in it. The discovery of the vaccine for small pox or the discovery of the polio vaccine may have been looked at as accidents or just something which just happened. But His Spirit was likely the One that pushed them in the right direction.
What happened in your world today? The same that happened in many other people’s world. You and I woke up, got out of bed and began the day. It may have been a totally different day for me than it was for you, but mostly everyone has a similar day in many respects. Some of us have more money, some of us have less. Some of us have enough food and water, some of us don’t. My point is this: as long as we are working for Jesus and His Kingdom, it doesn’t matter what we have or don’t have!
In the early years of the movement which became the church it was called “the Way”. Many people spoke ill of those who followed it because it was considered a cult following the teachings of a Carpenter or a madman. The Way was and is the path that Jesus walked while He was teaching here on Earth. Teaching His disciples to love those who weren’t lovable to care for those that everyone else shunned.
The Way that Jesus walked and taught was and is the way that the church should be walking and teaching today, but does it? Do we walk the Way that He did? Do we take care of those that Jesus did? I don’t mean that we can heal them because we can’t, the church can’t do that, but God can if we take the water and His Love to those in need of it. The water of His Word, the wisdom contained in it and the Love that God wants us to carry to all of those who need it in every nation.
This is what we are supposed to be doing. The church, the people who follow Jesus’ teachings are supposed to be His hands and feet until He comes again. Are we being and doing that? Some are, but it seems that most of us would rather not. Why? Is it too hard or is it some kind of revulsion that we have toward those in need? Do we really believe that we are that much better than others? I hope not, or we will likely be disappointed when we see Jesus one day.
The parable of the master who went away and left a number of talents with his servants. To one he gave five, to one he gave three and to one he gave one. They were to use these while he was absent, to do something with them. When he returned the one who had five had made five more with his, the one who had two had produced two more with his, but the one who had one had buried it and gave it back just as he had received it. All of them had served him well, except for the servant with one talent. If he had invested it or at least placed it with the bank, the master could’ve gotten it back with interest but he did nothing with it. So it was given to the one with ten talents.
What does this parable prove? Don’t waste your talents or your money because it is a gift from the Master and He expects you to use it, to do something with it. If it is money that you have, then use it for good. If it is talent for other things like writing or teaching, then make sure you are teaching from the Truth of God when you write or teach. At least if you are teaching the Truth from God’s Word, then others are not learning just from the “wisdom of man”.
We all have different things which we have to live with on a daily basis. Whether it is arthritis or Parkinson’s or cancer, at some point all of us have to go through life with pain or a condition which makes daily life harder or more difficult. So, what do you do to get through life on a day by day basis?
Some people take pills, some use other drugs such as alcohol or opiates, some use harder drugs than these. Some of us just suffer through with the pain and discomfort or with OTC medication. These coping mechanisms, legal or not, are ways to handle the discomfort and pain on your own. Sometimes they work pretty well, sometimes they cause more problems than they help.
Trusting in God and His Word will help with all of these problems and more. It is true that God will not always take the problem or condition away by healing it, but He can supply you with the strength to get through it a day at a time…if you will listen to Him and follow Him. Don’t try to do things on your own all of the time! We are taught to be independent, but when it comes to your life, God wants to share it with you through all of your good and bad days!
He doesn’t just want to hear from you when things go completely off script and throw you under the bus! When you wake in the morning, thank Him for it. When you get to the kitchen and get a cup of coffee, thank Him for your ability to do so even if you are in pain getting there. Live life, everyday, with Him by your side and even if the pain is still there, God is with you too.
We have the privilege of having an awesome and mighty God and Creator Who can bless us in mighty ways. Sometimes by giving us the strength to get through a tough time and sometimes by healing us of the problem. It is up to God to decide which. Sometimes, His timing seems off to us, but in His time He will answer your prayer one way or another. Because, He is a good and loving God, Father, Savior and Creator and He says in His Word that “I will never leave you or forsake you“.
We talk about being in love with someone when we are in a relationship with them and for most of us that is how it goes. But, have you ever considered that your life should be under His influence ALL of the time?
When we consider people who are “under the influence”, we usually think of someone who is drunk from alcohol of one type or another. Being under the influence of God and His Spirit is something totally outside the ideas and experience of many people because they just don’t know how to handle it or even if they can!
My inspiration was a comedy routine by a Christian comedian and it fits perfectly. When you give your heart and your life to Him, you are supposed to be under His influence spiritually from that point on. We are supposed to die to our own lusts and ways each day and walk with Him so that we are walking as He did! Doing the things that He did for those that He helped during His ministry!
That is the very definition of a Christian, to live and be more like Jesus the Christ! So, are you under the influence of His Spirit? If you are not, then you aren’t living your Christian life to the fullest that it can be! It can be so much more rewarding in many ways, for you and for others that you will touch with your witness for Christ!
His influence in your life will cause you to be more like Jesus in everything that you do. Whether it is being a father or a grandfather or a husband, His influence in your life changes a lot of things. Things which people see in your life can change their lives and the lives of many people around you, so give His influence more influence in your life with Him!
Has anyone else noticed that this year has flown by? I know, while the “candidates” were campaigning it seemed like it would NEVER end! That is how it felt to me anyway. Yes, life does move quickly and the older we get, we notice it more. While you are working it seems that life flows by like a swift stream. Every day goes by, you come home, have something to eat, watch a little TV, take a shower and go to bed, get up and begin again. Hopefully, you don’t work the night shift because when I worked that shift I went to work at 9:30 pm, worked all night in the hospital lab, got off work at 7:30 am. Drove home, got as much sleep as possible and then ate something, took a shower, and went back again.
These schedules don’t allow for much family time, or me time, they just run on and on and on until you finally quit or something else happens in your life.
God did not intend for us to work like this, but our society demands it because there is no equality in our lives any more. What do I mean by this? I mean e-quality, emotional quality of life. If you are married and have children there are plenty of emotions in your home already. But, are they quality emotions like love,kindness, patience and truthfulness?
This is something which we are missing out on these days because of all the electronic distractions that are in the home. We have smartphones, tablets, Kindles, computers, laptops, game systems (small and PC sized), when do you find the time to sleep and pay attention to the people around you who are supposed to be your family? This needs to be fixed but how? Throwing out all of the electronic gadgets won’t work, that only creates animosity and bitter feelings between those involved. There should be some moderation in their use, but I don’t know how to get this message across.
Why am I complaining about this? Because it happens not just in my home but I am sure it happens in millions of other homes as well. Attention spans have dropped to the point of seconds not minutes like it was during my years growing up. If something isn’t solved in the first fifteen seconds or so, they move on to the next level or game and maybe they will try again later. If that doesn’t work, many of them just trash it and move on to the next game system they have.
Yes, life moves at the speed of attention spans. Today it may be said that five to ten minutes are the top-tier of attention that you may get. After that, minds wander in all kinds of directions but the subject matter that you may be teaching or preaching on. If you home school, the span of attention is a little better, but not by much. Particularly if they LOVE to play games, hand-held and console type.
But God loves each and every one of us, game players included, and He can use our talents and our gifts IF we will let Him. Please seek Him out as your Savior before the day comes when you don’t have a choice but to stand before Him. Your life here is your time given to learn of Him, get to know Him and seek Him earnestly for your own salvation. If you don’t use this time for this, then your eternal destination will be much different and far worse than you can imagine.
A young boy came to church one cold winter day to get out of the blowing snow. He had been trying to sell newspapers but not a single customer had passed by because of the weather. He slipped into the back of the church, just hoping to get warm and catch up on his sleep. Though the Sunday crowd was slim, the boy really paid attention to the sermon and was greatly moved by it. When the pastor was done, he called for the offering. The ushers went from row to row, and when the offering plate came to the boy, he stared at it for a while and then put it on the floor. He then did something very strange and very beautiful.
He stood up and stepped right into the offering plate. By then, all the people had turned around and were staring at the boy. When he looked up, he had big tears running down his face as he said, “Pastor, I don’t have any money because I haven’t sold any newspapers today. But, if Jesus gave His life for me, then I will gladly give my life to Him.” The person who has nothing to give but himself is able to give the greatest gift of all.
This story which has been on Facebook and in emails around the Internet illustrates the sacrifice of your life to the Lord. Not a physical death, but a spiritual one. Giving up of your whims, your will, to follow Jesus and to be more like Him. That is the essence of salvation, asking the Holy Spirit to come into your heart and make a change which will empower you to do this, every day. It is not something that you can do just once and then run back to your old friends and their ways of living. Yes, you do want to go back to them, but it should be to tell them what Jesus did for you.
5 Now when Jesus saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, 2 and he began to teach them.
3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
4 Blessed are those who mourn,
for they will be comforted.
5 Blessed are the meek,
for they will inherit the earth.
6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they will be filled.
7 Blessed are the merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.
8 Blessed are the pure in heart,
for they will see God.
9 Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they will be called children of God.
10 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
11 “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. 12 Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
Salt and Light
13 “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.
14 “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.
The Fulfillment of the Law
17 “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. 18 For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. 19 Therefore anyone who sets aside one of the least of these commands and teaches others accordingly will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20 For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.
21 “You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘You shall not murder,[a] and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ 22 But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister[b][c] will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to a brother or sister, ‘Raca,’[d] is answerable to the court. And anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.
23 “Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, 24 leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift.
25 “Settle matters quickly with your adversary who is taking you to court. Do it while you are still together on the way, or your adversary may hand you over to the judge, and the judge may hand you over to the officer, and you may be thrown into prison. 26 Truly I tell you, you will not get out until you have paid the last penny.
27 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’[e] 28 But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 29 If your right eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. 30 And if your right hand causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell.
31 “It has been said, ‘Anyone who divorces his wife must give her a certificate of divorce.’[f] 32 But I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, makes her the victim of adultery, and anyone who marries a divorced woman commits adultery.
33 “Again, you have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not break your oath, but fulfill to the Lord the vows you have made.’ 34 But I tell you, do not swear an oath at all: either by heaven, for it is God’s throne; 35 or by the earth, for it is his footstool; or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the Great King. 36 And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make even one hair white or black. 37 All you need to say is simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one.[g]
Eye for Eye
38 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’[h] 39 But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. 40 And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. 41 If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles. 42 Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.
Love for Enemies
43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor[i] and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47 And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? 48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
What you do after you have heard the sermon on the Mount and heard what Jesus said in it will determine your eternity. Whether you put your own label on God as a BIG God, the One Who created all things, including each of us, or will you put Him inside a box of your own making. Which box and how much limitations will you place on God to make Him conform to your life instead of conforming your life to live a sacrificial life for Him?
Making God conform to your idea of Who He is and what He does in your life or doesn’t do in your life is not the way to live a Christian life. Even God told David and Moses that He couldn’t live in a building made by mankind, let alone a box which we place around Him to conform Him to our life! We are demanded and required to allow Him, His Spirit, to change us and we must determine to do it every day! Unfortunately, that determination is on us, each of us, to conform and live in Him by allowing His Spirit to change us every day!
What I am saying is that even if we ask Him to come into our lives, into our hearts, it is still our choice to surrender to His leading Presence every day in order to allow Him to do His work in our lives each day. If you turn back to your old life, your old habits and friends with no real change in your life that can be seen by others, then you may want to check with God’s Word and see if you really became saved that day or did you just say the right words and maybe get wet in the baptismal waters!
Have you ever thought about that? Today, money, fame, and all of the toys which go with them signal success to many people. The problem with this is that all of those things is that they are temporary. Although, it seems to many people, these temporary things are far more important than an eternity that is out of sight and in their future. This is another lie or deception which Satan has made so important and prevalent today. It is almost as accepted as the theory of evolution because all of the things which I mentioned at the beginning are tangible and they can be felt and seen!
The biggest problem with those “rewards” is that you can’t take any of it with you when you die! You can be buried in a tomb or a casket which is very expensive, but what good will that do you? Your spirit is gone into eternity and no matter how luxurious your casket or tomb or vault may be, the body that is left behind will eventually turn to a moldy husk and in about a thousand years or so, there will be little left except maybe some bones. Your life on Earth is over when you breathe your last breath, that much is certain, but your spirit is eternal and it or rather you will stand before God to give account for your life’s accomplishments.
If you are a Christian, then your reward and your eternity is certain, particularly if you did very much for the Kingdom of God during your life here. Your salvation brought God’s Spirit to live inside your temple, your body, until the day that your work here was finished. If you did not give your heart to Him and ask for Him to bring His Life into yours, then you still have eternity ahead, but it will be one of regret and anguish because you left Jesus out of your life.
I know that many people say that “My God would never send anyone to hell”, and they are absolutely right! God doesn’t send you to hell, your choices in life send you there and if you have chosen to live without Jesus and to live life according to your whims, then that will be your destination. It saddens God to see us refuse His gift of salvation, when it costs us nothing to embrace it and accept it. Jesus did all of the work necessary for you to have an eternity in Heaven, and yet there are millions, maybe billions of people who have chosen another way. One which doesn’t include Him, and that pathway doesn’t lead to Heaven, although many think that it does.
Success and a successful life is one lived in accordance with God and His Son. It may not include riches or houses or cars, but your eternal home is on a street paved with gold! Your home is made by the Creator of the universe and it is there for the asking, all you have to do is accept it through belief in Jesus and His atonement for you. Won’t you consider it?