Now the God of patience and consolation grant you to be likeminded one toward another according to Christ Jesus: Romans 15:5 KJV https://bible.com/bible/1/rom.15.5.KJV
But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking. Be not ye therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him. Matthew 6:7-8 KJV https://bible.com/bible/1/mat.6.7-8.KJV
God knows what you need but He enjoys hearing from you as well. Ask Him for your needs, tell Him your problems, look at His creation around you and know that He is in control.
The Bible says that we are supposed to be holy because God is holy. So what is the definition of the word “holy”? It is this: dedicated or consecrated to God or a religious purpose; sacred. In another way of saying this, we are supposed to be set apart from the world and its ways but we should try to teach those around us about His ways. If not by our words then by our life and our actions. Being a Christian is supposed to be exactly that…holy and set apart to do the work of God while we can. So why aren’t many who profess to be Christians acting like Christ?
It is a good question to ask but I’m afraid the answer would be too laborious and it would require too many specifics. Why do I say this? Because there are many who profess Christ but they don’t possess Christ. Their Christianity is only genuine to them because they believe in Christ and they attend church occasionally but He hasn’t made a change in their lives because He was never invited in. They are a believer just as well as Satan is. He knows Who Jesus is and he knows that He exists but he chooses not to serve God or Jesus or the Holy Spirit in any way.
Knowledge of Jesus and God is a good thing but if you haven’t given your life and your heart to them so that you are changed by them, then your knowledge does your eternal life no good at all.
If you belong to Christ and He belongs to you, then your life will reflect Him and His character far more than it will reflect your ideas and your ways. If others can’t see Jesus in what you do and say, then it is possible that He doesn’t live in your heart just in your mind.
Why is belief in Jesus so important? Because “in the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God 14 And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.”
In Acts 4:12, the Bible says: Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.
Belief is necessary because Jesus is the Living Word of God and He came to redeem the lost of this world. You may think that you have done some things which would allow you into Heaven but if what you have done in this life was done out of pride and your own self-righteousness and without Jesus’ guiding hand then it was a waste. Nothing that we do with our good intentions and our own ideas of self-righteousness can ever bring us into the Presence of God. Well, it can bring us there but it will be in judgement and not reward because without Jesus and our repentant heart and His Spirit guiding us…everything that we do is dust and filthy rags.
God honors those who humble themselves to Him and recognize that He is the Author and the Finisher of our faith in Christ Jesus. Only through Him can we gain entrance to the City which is not built by hands but by the Word of God. I pray that any who read this small letter might turn to the One Messiah, Jesus Christ because it is only through belief in Him and repentance from your own sins can you be saved to walk the streets of Heaven one day.
I pray that this sermon touches someone who may turn their lives over to Jesus.
The Visit to Lystra and Derbe
8 And there sat a certain man at Lystra, impotent in his feet, being a cripple from his mother’s womb, who never had walked: 9The same heard Paul speak: who stedfastly beholding him, and perceiving that he had faith to be healed, 10 Said with a loud voice, Stand upright on thy feet. And he leaped and walked. 11 And when the people saw what Paul had done, they lifted up their voices, saying in the speech of Lycaonia, The gods are come down to us in the likeness of men. 12 And they called Barnabas, Jupiter; and Paul, Mercurius, because he was the chief speaker. 13 Then the priest of Jupiter, which was before their city, brought oxen and garlands unto the gates and would have done sacrifice with the people. 14 Which when the apostles, Barnabas and Paul, heard of, they rent their clothes, and ran in among the people, crying out, 15 And saying, Sirs, why do ye these things? We also are men of like passions with you, and preach unto you that ye should turn from these vanities unto the living God, which made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all things that are therein: 16 Who in times past suffered all nations to walk in their own ways. 17 Nevertheless, he left not himself without witness, in that he did good, and gave us rain from heaven, and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness. 18 And with these sayings scarce restrained they the people, that they had not done sacrifice unto them.
19 And there came thither certain Jews from Antioch and Iconium, who persuaded the people, and, having stoned Paul, drew him out of the city, supposing he had been dead. 20 Howbeit, as the disciples stood round about him, he rose up and came into the city: and the next day he departed with Barnabas to Derbe.
Paul preached the gospel of Jesus the Christ, the Messiah even though at first he wanted to destroy the Way as they called it in those days. Why did he have the conviction which he had to preach salvation through Jesus? Because Jesus called him personally just as He called each of us! Do we live our Christian life like we are called by Him? Most Christians don’t live that way. We have salvation, we believe that Jesus saved us from our sins but are we thankful enough to be useful to Him?
If you know the hell that you have been saved from then you should be very thankful. Many people think that those who go to hell will endure for a while but their punishment will end. That is not what the Bible teaches. The Bible says that “the smoke of their torment will rise forever”!
Your spirit, your soul is immortal and the body which you enter into eternity with is immortal so your torment is eternal and forever! Just because you don’t go to heaven doesn’t mean that you don’t have an eternity to look forward to, but going to hell is an eternal life which is called the “second death” because you are in the place where Satan is and you are not in the Presence of God, where Life is.
Paul was called to be a disciple and the apostle to the Gentiles so that they, you and me, could learn about the Jesus which paid our debt for our sins so that we don’t have to go to an eternity of punishment. We have the hope of an eternity with Jesus in Heaven and with those of our family who believed in Jesus for their salvation. We are supposed to be the apostle in our family telling others about Jesus. It is our JOB to do this because when we are called to be saved then we are supposed to give that salvation away to others, especially those in our family!
God has chosen you to be His disciple in the place where you work or in the areas where you live to be the person that people can see Jesus through and tell them of His love for them. If you don’t, they may never hear about Him or know about Him because you may be the only contact that they have with a true Christian.
Many times during our lives we see something which doesn’t quite add up or we experience something that seems to put a wet blanket on a holiday or a celebration. At times, it doesn’t have to be much in order to do this. It could be that your paycheck wasn’t quite what you hoped for or maybe the timing of a visit just didn’t click and the visit turned into hurt feelings. At times our relationships with family and friends can go sideways and then people will not speak to each other for a long time, maybe the rest of their lives.
Life turns out that way sometimes. When it does, we need to slow down and find a place to seek out the Author of Life, Jesus Christ. Why do I say this? Because He is the Savior of our world and He came for everyone in it who will believe in Him. Granted, there are many who refuse to do so, but God is still in control and His purposes will be accomplished in the end.
There are many in our world today who are against Christianity in general, which is sad. Sad because for most of the past 2,000 years, Christians have done more for people than any other religion. I don’t mean that the dark ages are even part of that because they are not. The Crusades were an abhorrent part of our past and although they were done under the direction of the Pope at the time, Christianity shouldn’t have had any part of them, but our religion has been damaged by this part of history.
Our real problem today is that our society has become so used to hearing lies until the real, honest Truth of Scripture bothers people. They don’t want to believe it and most don’t want to hear it either. Yet, they would rather listen to and believe something which a man wrote down a little over one century ago or even seventy years ago and base their spiritual lives on those writings. The wisdom of mankind, whether it was written in the seventh century AD or BC, is foolishness compared to the wisdom of God.
The Bible has never been disproven and it has been on the bestseller list for many, many years. All of the prophecies in the Bible have come true with the exception of the last book in it, the book of Revelation. There will be no denying it when they come true because the world will experience all of the plagues and the wars and pestilence which are foretold to come on this Earth.
What can we do about what is happening in our world today? Truthfully…not a lot. One person has had more influence on the world than any other in history and yet most of the world wants very little to do with Him. Jesus wasn’t a general of an army or a great world leader but His influence is still seen and is felt all over the world today! He died on a cross about 2000 years ago, but after three days He came out of that tomb and met with His disciples for about forty days before returning to Heaven at the right hand of God.
Many people today deny that He had any effect in the world and they don’t believe in Him or the Bible but one day soon that will change. When He comes back for the saved of the world who have put their trust in Him and those who believe in Him today, many people will wonder what happened. They will try to explain it away with all kinds of fantastic stories and theories but the truth is in the Bible.
Christianity has never actually followed this path because there has always been resistance to God’s Word and the Truth which is contained within it. In some form or another, that resistance has spurred the message of salvation and following Jesus to expand into the world. Just as people went across the world after the languages were confused at the tower of Babel, Christianity has gone to places where it was the only religion of real hope. In today’s world those places and the people in them violently oppose the Christian view of the world and this has been happening since the first century.
Stoicism was a philosophy and still is today which many people enjoy mainly because it doesn’t require anything of you exactly. One of its practical sayings was essentially this: Change what you can control, let go of that which you cannot. Wisdom doesn’t know doctrine nor creed, it just is. It doesn’t matter what language or country the wisdom comes from or is written in, a wise phrase is what it is regardless.
The only problem with living your days according to wise principles is when you come to the end of your days, if you are fortunate enough to live a long life and die with family around you, you really don’t have much to look forward to into eternity. Wisdom cannot carry you over the threshold of Heaven’s gates and it doesn’t atone for the life which you have lived, even if you lived wisely.
Following Jesus and learning of God’s wisdom in His Word is the best end of life that you can have. Having Him as your Savior and living your life with His Presence by your side is a very wise course because your life doesn’t end when your physical life does. We all have eternal souls but we have to choose the path which we walk on in this life. Will it be the one which everyone else is travelling on? One which is easy and without rocks or bumps or briars and hills to climb or will it be a wide path that all of your friends are on?
The number of years that you travel on this road doesn’t matter except that you never know when your road will come to its end. There are exits along the way and sometimes they lead to the Christian life if we will choose to follow them, but sometimes they don’t. Seeking out the Creator of everything can give you insight enough to know which is the right exit and which is not. The one which carries you on toward life with Jesus narrows quite a bit compared to the wide and easy road which many of us walk on for many years before finding the exit to get on His path.
Yes, the Christian life is a bit harder than not knowing Him because each of us has to deal with the temptation of going back to the easy path rather than continuing on with Jesus. Can you do that? Yes, if your heart has never accepted Jesus and His Spirit which changes you completely you can turn back to your old life. But…you may never find that exit, that pathway leading to eternity with Him again.
Today, it seems that every news story on TV talks about someone or some group which is offended by a truth or some part of a church or a scripture on a statue, something which is pointing the way to Jesus. Many times it doesn’t take but one complaint in a town, one person bringing it to the attention of the media and then there is an outcry for this offensive statue or monument to be taken down.
How many years has that monument been there with that inscription? How many eyes have seen it and read it and never said a word about it, good or bad? We give too much power to that small percentage of people who get offended because someone else is offended today. Being a nation which was founded by Christians fleeing persecution was good for us until the past fifty-eight years or so, then the children of those who came back from the Second World War became the voice of America protesting against injustice.
Many of those injustices included being taught Biblical principles in school, praying in school, having the Ten Commandments posted on the hallways in schools and of course the Vietnam War and Civil Rights movements too. While it is true that the Vietnam War was a tragic one, it was also one which was run by suits in Washington and not by those in uniform. The Civil Rights movement would’ve been much better if segregation had not been the norm in the South, but that was a different generation than mine.
My point in this is this: society always follows those who stir up the most and accomplish the least.
Jesus stirred up people because of His message of love and forgiveness, not because of promises He couldn’t deliver on. He will return one day and those who are against Him today will bow to Him whether they want to or not because He is the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords and He will reign on Earth with a rod of iron. Make sure that you know which side you will be on in that day.
Have you ever been accused of being a superficial Christian? Why do I ask? Because it seems that today that is exactly what most of professing “Christians” really are. They listen to sermons and maybe read a verse or two of Scripture and maybe even get baptized at some point but then they pull out their cell phones and forget what the sermon was about. Do they read the Bible after church and pray for God’s guidance in their lives on a daily basis? Only God knows the answer to that question. Are they real Christians in their hearts or just pretending? Still, only God knows for sure.
Many people play at church and many of them think that they are saved because until you can see a real change in their lives and hear it in their speech or in their actions, you truly cannot tell. Some of them can pretend so well that those around them may not be able to tell if there is a change happening in their lives or one which has already happened. Now, don’t read something into my writing which isn’t here! I am not saying that a certain percentage of people who claim Christ as their Savior are really not saved.
What I am saying is that there are a number of people who are very shallow in their Christianity. Like children, they are in the wading pool or maybe in ankle deep in the surf but they feel comfortable being there. Many, if not most, will never venture any further in their walk with Jesus. Which is a shame because being a Christian is more than having your own salvation, it is about telling or showing others what a life with Christ in it can be!
We have been given the most valuable gift in the history of the world…forgiveness and eternal life to go with it! Why in the world would you hold that like a spoiled child and not tell others how they can have it too? It didn’t cost us anything, yet it is the most precious gift that anyone could receive and because it is worth more than all the wealth in the world…why not give it away?
God has plenty of room in His Kingdom and all we should do is tell others what Jesus has done for us and how they can have this too! I know that the Truth in the Bible is not the truth that everyone wants to hear. Nor do they want to know about our Savior because they don’t believe that He is the Savior!
But consider this…if you did have access to one trillion dollars would you keep it all to yourself? No, the government would get a huge chunk of it in taxes, but even then you would have hundreds of billions of dollars left. There is only so much stuff that you can get before it is just…well stuff! Of course if you had all of that wealth, you would have more friends and kinfolk than you ever knew you had, so for me I would find a place back in the mountains somewhere and hide…but then what? You can’t hide forever!
Jesus told His disciples to go and tell others about the salvation which comes through belief in Him. We aren’t to beat them with a Bible or have a temper tantrum because they won’t listen, just tell them what He has done for you. If they want it great! If they decide that they have time to wait, maybe they will hear it another time or place. The problem we face today is that we are coming to the end of the age of Grace. I have no idea when He will come back and I have no idea when He will call the believers in the world up to Heaven as the Scriptures tell us.
So…what are you waiting for? Have you been guaranteed time on this Earth? Do you know for sure that you have another week or a month or maybe a year to live? I may die in a car wreck tomorrow, my wife may get killed at the place where she works, my son might get killed in a car accident next week. We are not guaranteed tomorrow. Think about it and then seek Him.