Living for Christ


I have seen some teaching online where some people, who may be preachers, are saying that the teaching of “God loves us, regardless of our heart’s position” is a lie. For one thing, God wouldn’t have sent His Son to redeem mankind IF He didn’t love us ALL! Whether we have given our hearts to Him or not, God loves us. Jesus didn’t come to Earth for a few people’s souls, He came to bring the possibility of salvation to everyone. He wouldn’t have come to do this if God didn’t love each person on this Earth.

Remember, God is the Father, Jesus is the Son, the Holy Spirit is the third person of the Trinity. So, if God loves His creation enough to send His Son to redeem mankind, I  believe that God’s love covers ALL of mankind. Mankind is everyone, no specific nations or cultures or religions and regardless of time! God’s love includes every person which is why He sent Jesus in the first place.

Another disturbing part of our world today is that we try to label people whether they adhere to a good or bad religion or doctrine. While this may be a good idea for security it is not a good idea for people following Jesus. We don’t live in a world where there is a distinct line separating good and bad (evil), even if that is what Jesus taught. The world sees things as black, white or gray. The problem with thinking like this is that black and white being equal in the world, which they are not, these two sides also don’t mix producing the so-called gray area.

Just as there aren’t skeletons or fossils of the forms of life as they evolve, there also aren’t any demons or angels who aren’t evil or good but somewhere in between.

There is and always will be a distinct line between good and evil, black and white, and I am not speaking of a race but the intent of those in our world. We don’t have an option of sometimes good, sometimes evil…you either are or you are not. While it is true that there are people who aren’t Christians but they do good things with their time and money, that is not the same thing.

Yes, we can be good to each other, regardless of our belief or non-belief in a God, but the difference between the actuality of belief and non-belief is in our core, our heart and that is reflected in our behavior toward those around us. Reflecting our internal beliefs to the world is what Christians should be doing, making sure that others see more of Jesus rather than us.

Carrying Jesus in your heart and in your life is part of living as a Christian, having a belief in Him is part of that. Life as a morally good person is wonderful, but your life could have so much more of an eternal effect if Jesus was a part of it.

 

Why?


It is a question which we hear, especially parents, when our child or children are young. They ask it…sometimes to the point of getting on our nerves with the number and frequency of the question!

Sometimes we can answer it with a realistic answer and sometimes it is “Because I said so!”! But, this week we have no answer for the shooting in Las Vegas. There is no note or reason or anything that even approaches rationality. Because there is nothing rational about this! Was the shooter insane? I don’t know and few other people have a real clue either. Had he been “radicalized” in some way? Who knows?

Why is a question which we as a nation will be asking about this for a long time. Will we ever find the answer to that question? I honestly don’t know. In my view, my opinion is that only the shooter knows and God and likely we will never find out the actual reason. Because, the behavior to do such a thing defies logic and any human decency.

On the news tonight, Steve Hartman said that there are no real words to describe or comfort this type of event and he is right. We can’t think of anything to say because there isn’t anything that makes any sense when you are talking about an act so dehumanizing and tragic.

Life is precious. Not just one person’s life or a particular skin color or religion, but to God ALL human life is precious because He made us in His image! At one time the rule of law was that “when man kills another man, then by man his life will be taken“; which we have toned down with political correctness so that even when convicted a killer can live out his natural life without ever being killed for his crime! Some even claim that it is inhuman to punish a man in that fashion. Really? If they killed your wife or son or daughter, would you feel that way?

God is already punishing the killer from Las Vegas since he took his own life as well, so at least he is getting his punishment. His soul and his eternal body will endure that forever and there is no appeal or stay that will come to get him out of hell.

Hell was not created to punish mankind, but when we act like demons and follow the leading of their suggestions in our minds then God has no recourse but to place us in the same place of punishment that they have waiting for them. Please give your heart and life to Jesus and follow Him while there is still time to do so. We don’t know when He is coming back, but it won’t likely be much longer. Will we all live to see it? I don’t know, but I do know that when He comes there will be no doubt about Who it is and what is happening…at least to those who have heard about it or read the book of Revelation.

The end and the beginning


When you consider that, for a Christian, or anyone who is looking forward to eternal life in Heaven, death in this life is the beginning of eternity. Immortality is something that many people would like to have, but nobody wants to die to get there. But…that is the way this works. We don’t get to sample the “Tree of Life” until we are in Heaven. You can blame Adam for that little mix up if you wish. People for years have tried to blame Eve for it, but truly Adam was the one that God told about the trees in the Garden first so it is actually his fault.

The end of a life lived here on Earth is sometimes very sad for those of us left behind. Mainly because we won’t get to see the person who has gone before us into eternity, at least for a while. Remember that when we are reunited with them, the reunion will be glorious! Not only will we see them, but we will see them in their glorified body. Not the one with disease and aches and glasses and a cane, but a body which will last for an eternity!

There will not be anymore good bye’s, no more missing you, because we will be in God’s Kingdom. We will be together with all of our family and friends and even people we didn’t know in this life but we will know them in Heaven…isn’t that GREAT!! God will give us all of the perfection that He had given to Adam and Eve in the Garden. No more pains, or wheezing or dizziness and we will all enjoy this life forever!

Other paths lead in a different direction


You may wonder why I didn’t put something specific where “paths” is and there is a reason. It is because we are giving legitimacy to so many religions and beliefs when we shouldn’t be! There are too many paths which would fit in that title. What are they? Dowsing, pyramid energy, mediums who claim to be using “angel cards”, ouija, etc.; all of these and more are part of the occult and people shouldn’t be consulting with them, but they are.

Giving these “optional” beliefs or paths legitimate status doesn’t help us to get the message out into the world that Jesus is the way to salvation, not “alternate religions”. There are so many different beliefs in the world until it is hard to understand just why there are so many. Satan has been working very hard to give people an alternate viewpoint which can be molded into a new religion or faith. It seems that today it is so easy to put your faith in almost anything besides God and Jesus!

separatechurchesWe talk about religion and being religious as if that covers all of Christianity but you can be religious about anything. Just because someone seems to be religious doesn’t mean that they are a Christian. They could be religious about any one of the hundreds of different religions out there, you could even be a religious atheist! My point is this: don’t give religions other than Christianity a legitimate foothold!

I know, I am not being inclusive of all people and their beliefs and I will own that. What I am trying to get people to think about here is ETERNITY!! There is only one God and Jesus the Christ Who can grant you access to eternity, or at least one that you would enjoy living in! The Bible states it plainly that Jesus is the only way to Heaven, all other paths, even though they may be morally good, will lead you elsewhere for eternity.

Some faiths don’t believe in eternal punishment like the lake of fire foretold in Revelation. But, if God says that is where you will be and He doesn’t lie, then that is where your choices will take you! Seek out Jesus and His gospel, believe in Him and repent of your sinful ways and then follow Him, reading His Word and praying for strength each day because it is through Him that we are given eternal life and forgiveness.

Don’t let someone pull you away from faith in Jesus just because they believe in some other faith a bit stronger than you believe in yours. That is what has happened to many today, especially young people. They meet someone who is very passionate about their faith, regardless of what that faith may be in, and it is their passion which draws people in. A question which comes to my mind when I may be confronted with this would be: Would you be willing to die for that faith, that passion in your religion?

Does it convince you enough that you are on the right pathway to Heaven that you would give your life under fire or being burned at the stake for it? If you question this just the least bit, then you might want to back up and consider your faith again.

Is evil around you today?


You may not work in a place where things could be described as evil, but there is evil in our world. People kill others for no reason or they rape and murder others and this is evil. Deciding to do things your way, regardless of what you feel in your heart is right because you want to do it that way is rebellion and that could be seen as evil too.

Especially if you claim to be a Christian! You have heard sermons and read the Bible and you know what is right or wrong, good or evil, but then you want something or someone so badly that, even when you know it’s wrong, and you know that God wouldn’t agree with you about it, you do it anyway. This is the rebellion that happened in the Garden of Eden.

lifeordeathGod only gave one rule, one tree which they were not supposed to eat from and because Satan made it seem like God was keeping something wonderful from them…Adam and Eve disobeyed God in this one thing. They chose to do it their way!! They chose to see if they would be more like God by being disobedient. It didn’t work out the way that they wanted. God didn’t kill them, but God had made them nearly immortal to begin with, so the punishment of death didn’t overtake them for many years. But it still came nonetheless.

While it was true that they weren’t immortal at the beginning, their bodies were perfect in their function. No disease, no malfunctions, no joint problems of any kind, yet we know very little about their time in the Garden. They may have been there for hundreds of years before they rebelled. In any event, it was their choice and it is that choice which ails all of humanity today. Really, there are only two choices in life…to be greedy and selfish or to help others and to do good for others.

The choice between good and evil, light and dark, greed or selflessness, black or white; it really has always been this simple. Turn to the left or the right, which will it be? Just as in the cartoons of a few decades ago, an angel on one shoulder and a little demon on the other…which one will you listen to? Life, choices, movies and their endings have always had a clear distinction between one or the other, most of the time.

So…will you choose Life with Jesus and in Heaven or will you choose punishment for eternity with Satan and his demons and others who chose to disobey God? It really is that simple…..

What do you really believe?


It is becoming clear that many people in churches today, regardless of denomination, have no idea what being a committed Christian is. Some think it means going to church when we feel like it. Some seem to think that, just like the rest of the world, if they are good and read the Bible occasionally then God will let them into Heaven. There seems to be quite a few that think that they don’t really have to do anything except to believe that Jesus is the Christ and that will get them into Heaven.

Preachers have told us this for decades, that if you believe in Jesus you will be saved. The apostle, John, says mostly the same thing in his gospel. So, why does it seem that we should desire more of Him than we do? Jesus said that “apart from Me you can do nothing“, truly that phrase has nothing to do with belief. It has to do with our commitment to a daily life with Him.

Reading the Bible, prayer for all of the things that are good and needed in our world, seeking His will for your life in His Word, meditating on His Word after you read it and considering what it means to your life, these are processes which we need to do in our daily walk with Him. This sounds like far too much to do in a day, but it doesn’t need to be. Reading a chapter or two every day and then praying for the meaning of it to be revealed to you doesn’t take long. Thinking about what God reveals to you during the day is your meditation on Him and His Word, but it shouldn’t interfere with your daily life.

Being a dedicated child of God is not as easy as just saying that you believe in Him. It is a daily, sometimes hourly walk with Him through your day, every day. He walked with Adam in the Garden, so why can’t we walk with Him every day? He doesn’t get in the way, and He certainly won’t be a hindrance to anything that we do, unless you intend to do or be in agreement with sinful actions on a daily basis.

Being a Christian is not as easy as it is portrayed because even though becoming one is easy, the process is a daily walk with Him. As Jesus said, “take up your cross and follow Me”, sometimes that means that we have to put something else that we have been holding onto down. For many people today, that is not an easy thing to do. We are addicted to our computers, our tablets, our phones, our games and almost every other distraction imaginable. But, we only come to Jesus when it is necessary or when we have to.

Seeking Him and learning about Him and about our relationship with Him is something which we don’t consider important. We will worry about that tomorrow or next year or when the next revival service is at church. But…what if you don’t live that long? What if you were to die in an hour or two from now? You would be standing at the judgement of your life in front of God without any help at all.

God knows your life and He knows if you will come to Him and when. He is your Creator and He will not turn you away IF you will come to Him with a repentant heart and ask Him to save you from yourself. Ask Him to help you to become the person that you can be in Christ and He will do it IF you are sincere and truthful about your need for Him.

If this is just “lip service”, He won’t even hear you. But, this has to be done in this life. Waiting to take care of this on your death-bed won’t cut it because you may not have that chance. A car wreck, a heart attack or any number of other ways that you can die without any notice, might prevent you from making that last-minute decision. So, what will you decide?

Are you going to keep doing what you have always done, hoping that God will just let you pass? Will you just turn away, like the rich young ruler did because you are having too much fun and you don’t feel that you need Jesus in your life? Maybe you think that being a devoted Christian just doesn’t fit your lifestyle right now. But, if you were to meet Jesus at your judgement and He says that “I never knew you”, how will you feel? Eternity is a long, long time to be outside in outer darkness, away from the Love of God.

Think about it, pray about it if you are serious about your Eternal destiny and then pray some more. Seek Him while there is time, in this life, because when this life is over…your time to be His is up and your eternity begins wherever you are.

The possibilities


In the environment of today’s Internet and the education afforded by it, the possibilities are almost endless. It is true that you have to be careful about which information that you trust as truthful and which is junk, but so much is there until it is spectacular in amount and scope! One hundred years ago, you would’ve had to spend hours and hours reading through countless tomes to find as much information as  you can get with one click in a search today!

The possibilities in your life, whether you are religious or not, are also endless. Your life is endless because of Jesus’ atonement for you and His Life in you, if you have accepted Him as your Savior. If you are not religious in any way, then your “life” is here where you are and you aren’t worried or concerned about an eternity. So, which side of the fence are you on? Unfortunately, those are the only possibilities regarding your eternal future, you either believe in Jesus and His atonement for you or you refuse to believe in Him.

Those are the choices and you should choose wisely and carefully because eternity is a very long, long time. All of the stars and galaxies will go dark before eternity and its march in time because time doesn’t mean anything there. Why do I bring up the eternal question? Because your choice in believing  or not believing in Jesus and His atonement for you changes your place in eternity and your real Life in that eternity!

In God’s Word it says that the smoke of their torment will rise forever referring to Satan and his demons and fallen angels. Forever and eternity are the same, so reading this should frighten you if you haven’t given your heart and life to Jesus. Why? Because, if you have chosen to follow Satan in his determination to not serve Jesus in this life, then you will share in his fate in eternity. The line between the two states is a very thin one called belief/unbelief and you are either on one side or the other. Make sure which side you want to spend eternity on before you draw your last breath.

Today, tomorrow, forever


Today is the present day that you are living in, moment by moment, so enjoy all of its beauty and goodness that God gives you to enjoy. Tomorrow isn’t here yet and by the time it is, it isn’t tomorrow anymore, so don’t count on it. Live today as if Jesus was coming back tonight! Forever is a time that we will spend after this life is over, whether we spend it with Jesus and other Christians or not is your choice!

God has always intended for us to be with Him forever, but humanity has rebelled every step of the way. Even when we only had one rule to follow, we still thought we knew better than God. After that, it was all downhill. God has always had a plan in place to bring us back to Himself and the reason is simple: He knew that we couldn’t do it on our own, so He gave of Himself in order to pay the price for our disobedience.

He didn’t have to do it that way, but He did! Tomorrow never really comes because when it gets here it is today, so make the most of today, every day. Seek out the One Who holds tomorrow in His hands so that your eternal home will be with Him and all of the joyous people who will be thanking Him for His love and mercy! Why do I say that we will be doing this? Because without His love and mercy, we wouldn’t be worthy and forgiven in order to be in Heaven!

So little time…


Do you recognize that life itself seems short? If you are past your teenage years, you probably see every year this way. Sometimes when we are young it seems that time just won’t go very fast at all. Particularly when you are in school and you would rather be fishing or playing outside or for today’s young folks, at home playing video games. Time seems to just fly by once you have finished school or have a child and from that point on it never slows down (except in line at Walmart).

Our lifespans seem long, especially when we are under twenty, but 70 years or even 80 is not very long at all. Living beyond that is by God’s grace alone and under His supervision as well. So, what do we do with this amount of time that we are given? What should we do with it? As some country and rock singers say, “Just LIVE it!”; but do we really know how to do this?

Most of us don’t figure out HOW to LIVE until a good portion of it is gone! When we are young, we are going to school and hanging out with friends. As we get to our “adult” years, we are so busy trying to pay bills and keep food on the table that we don’t even think about what “living” means! As our children get older and move on to college or their careers, usually we begin to see things from a slower pace…usually. Then, when retirement hits us in the face, we realize that we have let all of our flowers die and we didn’t even get to smell them.

Now, we are learning about parts of our body, which hurt now, that we never even noticed before. We want to get out and travel and see the world, but our money is spent on pain medication and doctor visits. Life is too short.

That is why we all should be planning for eternity. What is that? Well, it is the other side of Life which we don’t get to see until this body dies. If you are not a Christian, eternity may not mean much to you. Some see the word “afterlife” and think it is a bunch of hogwash, others see it as a party that never ends, and still others see it as a time of reincarnation to fix things which didn’t get done in this life on the first time around.

Jesus called it paradise and my idea of that is much better than starting over or continuing to have fun into eternity. Paradise can mean different things to different people. For some it may be seeing family members that have gone before us or even to be thankful to God for the grace and forgiveness which allows us to experience His true Kingdom.

road2eternityAs human beings, we can’t imagine in our finite minds the wonders of a perfect and eternal place with God as the Ruler and King. Eternity itself is beyond our thinking because even millions of years is beyond us and one million years is just one tick on the clock of eternity. What will our eternity be like? Your eternity and mine may be two different experiences.

If you are a believer in Jesus, then at some point we may meet in eternity. If you don’t believe in God or Jesus and especially or particularly in anything contained in the Bible, then your eternity will be separate from God and all of His Kingdom. The image above shows an idea of eternity from our perspective on Earth, a road which goes into the horizon and we can’t see its end. That is actually a good way of looking at it.

We walk on it every day even though we don’t realize it. Every event in our life is a pause or a stop on this journey. The path is well-worn and wide if you don’t know Jesus as your Savior, but the path to His Paradise is a bit different. It is narrow but just as long, the big difference is that one leads to Heaven and the other leads to a place without God and a place of torment which was never meant for us.

God knows each soul in hell, but they are there by their own choosing. They are in that place because they chose to live their life without Jesus or belief in Him. It is not a place where God sends you because He hates you. God loves you and wants the best for you, but if you choose to follow your own path and your way of living instead of His, then that is where you will be. In your own version of punishment and misery, but not in Heaven.

Don’t waste the time you have to make that choice by being selfish and greedy for yourself. Pray about your salvation and what it could be and then seek Him out, and He will answer you.

Why did you bring me back?


I have read some books from doctors about patients who have asked this question. Patients who had experienced death or as it is called in the media a near death experience. That is not exactly the right name for it, it is death but with a spiritual twist. If God had wanted that person dead then nothing that the doctors or anyone else did for them would matter. God allowed them to return because their story needed to be told, the feelings and experiences which they had in a few minutes or seconds needed to be told.

Many people experience peace and joy and a feeling that everything is fine. Some experience a horrifying and agony-filled few minutes which may change their beliefs after they return for their second chance. The point of this is that the veil which separates this life from the next is very thin spiritually speaking. We can’t see through it, although at times we feel things or see glimpses of someone or some place. We just brush it off as “it’s because I am tired” or “I didn’t really see that, did I?”.

Most of us forget those glimpses through the veil after a day or two, but for those who have crossed through the veil during a heart episode in the hospital or died on the operating room table and are brought back, the experience is too real to forget.

Is there life after death? YES! Jesus said so and He was and is alive now to prove it! He also told His disciples that He would return to take His church to be with Him. The veil which separates our earthly bodies from that eternity is thin and we are surrounded by spiritual beings all of the time. Do I have proof of this? No, I just have faith in God’s Word and it seems that the realm of the spirit was always there, even when Elisha was facing an army in the Old Testament. He asked God to show his disciple that they had more protection than the ones coming against him and he saw them!

The demons were and are everywhere in our world, yet thankfully we can’t see their form and their actions as we go about our daily lives. In Jesus’ day, a whole legion of them had taken over one man and when He told them to get out, they entered into a herd of pigs and the pigs drowned themselves in the lake.

My point is this: don’t discount the words of someone who has come near to death or has been brought back. They have seen something which few people see and live to tell of it. Does life continue after this shell of our bodies dies? Yes, it does. The enjoyment of life with Jesus is there but there is also a place without Him and it is a terrifying place without Jesus.

Our minds can barely imagine a few hundred years forward or back from our point of reference. One thousand years is a long time, but if you begin to think of one million or try to consider it then you can’t take it in. Any amount of time beyond one thousand is just a number to us, our minds can’t process it.

Why would someone who has been brought back to life be angry about having another chance at life? Because, for a believer the other side of the veil is so much more than we can comprehend now! Even a few seconds of life with Jesus away from the pain and mental anguish in this life would make you long to be with Him even more! But, when God sends a person back to this life, it is for a reason…His reason. Others need to know about the spiritual life that waits for them whether it is a life with Jesus or not!

john317Please, read God’s Word prayerfully. Seek Him out and His Son’s Life which is in His Word. Ask Jesus to come into your life and open your eyes so that you can experience His Life for eternity. God doesn’t want you to go to a dark place where He is not, because it is your choice if you refuse to allow Him into your life.