Encouragement


Son of encouragement. That is what Barnabas was called in the book of Acts, in fact, that is what the name means. His actual name was Joseph and he was from Cyprus. He was very prominent in the early church. Why do I mention him here? Because each of us needs an Encourager. Yes, the Lord is also an Encourager and gives us the encouragement we need through the reading of His Word. So, why do we need another to give us more?

Because we have all encountered setbacks and problems along the way. Sometimes it is because of depression or other things which are “bringing us down” and we need someone to cheer us up. We are so bombarded by updates and news today in this world of 24/7 connected devices until it is hard to make sense of it all. Decompression and relaxation doesn’t happen when we take a vacation anymore. Because we are never disconnected from our phones or our tablets or laptops!

God did not intend for us to live our lives like this every day! Years ago the prediction was that computers would make our lives easier and our work would be less. That didn’t happen at all! Now that we have smartphones, which amount to pocket-sized computers, we are never away from news and work-related content! Even when we are in places where there is limited service we feel as if we are in danger because we can’t contact someone or be contacted.

So a bit of encouragement is needed especially today and particularly now. It keeps us going when the times get a bit choppy with troubles and all of the stress which we have in this world. Just listen to someone who is hurting or in need of a friend, don’t offer advice unless they ask for it. Why do I say this? Because it is very likely that you haven’t been in their shoes before. I know that many of us have had loved ones to die or we have gotten divorced or even lost a job, but some people are going through more than one stressor at a time. So..be gentle.

God is there for all of us and He does comfort us in all of our troubles and situations, but sometimes it just takes a sympathetic ear or a shoulder to lean on or even cry on. Nobody can handle all of life’s troubles without God or someone to support them and just be there when things aren’t going the way they should. Yes, Jesus is nearer than any person could be, but until He is here in the flesh we need a friend at times. Try to be that friend because there will come a time when you need one and if you were never there for someone then who will be there for you?

Are you walking in faith?


John, the disciple of Jesus, wrote the smallest book in the Bible and yet it is a most profound and humbling book because it convicts us who are not walking in His Truth and shows us where our faith should be placed.

2 John 1

Greeting from the Elder

(3 John 1:1-4)

1 The elder unto the elect lady and her children, whom I love in the truth; and not I only, but also all they that have known the truth; 2 For the truth’s sake, which dwelleth in us, and shall be with us forever. 3 Grace be with you, mercy, and peace, from God the Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of the Father, in truth and love.

Walking in the Truth (John 8:31-41)

4 I rejoiced greatly that I found of thy children walking in truth, as we have received a commandment from the Father. 5 And now I beseech thee, lady, not as though I wrote a new commandment unto thee, that which we had from the beginning, that we love one another. 6 And this is love, that we walk after his commandments. This is the commandment, That, as ye have heard from the beginning, ye should walk in it.

Beware of Deceivers

7 For many deceivers are entered into the world, who confess not that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an Antichrist. 8 Look to yourselves, that we lose not those things which we have wrought, but that we receive a full reward. 9 Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son. 10 If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed: 11 For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds.

Final Greetings

12 Having many things to write unto you, I would not write with paper and ink: but I trust to come unto you, and speak face to face, that our joy may be full. 13 The children of thy elect sister greet thee. Amen.

GodsBlessingThe second or third smallest book of the Bible but very profound, in wisdom and truth from the only disciple which died of natural causes also known as old age.

God blessed John with a ministry which spanned the known world around him at the time. Since he was also one of the youngest disciples he was able to go and tell others about his Lord and Savior. He was also the shepherd of a number of churches before his death at the end of the first century.

John wrote and testified that Jesus was the Light of the World, not because of hearsay but because he had lived and walked with Jesus during His ministry. John was a dedicated disciple, fully committed to His Lord and Savior and He walked with Him while His time on Earth was fulfilled and He took the message of the gospel with him wherever he went later in life.

John’s exhortation to the lady and her house is the way that he greeted another worker for the faith and this letter was to encourage her until she should meet her risen Lord. Truly, it is the same with us. We are to stay true to our faith in Him until He comes or until we are called home to be with Him. What does this letter encourage us to do in light of where we are in the history of the world?

Mainly, to be steadfast in our walk with Jesus. Keeping to the faith and taking it and our testimony with us wherever we may go regardless of the time we may have left on this Earth. Because we don’t know how much time we have regardless of our age or health. It could be weeks, months or years until our date comes to meet Jesus or until He comes to call each of us home.

Your life and your testimony are important because your experience in this life is unique, just as your salvation is unique. Nobody else has had your experience or your successes and your failures, and God can use those to bring a specific message to someone, probably someone that only you can possibly reach. Your mission in this life is to serve God in whatever capacity that He asks you to serve in. It could be as a teacher at a high school or a Sunday school teacher. Maybe you are friends with a certain person that God wants to reach and only you can do that.

But…you won’t know for sure if you don’t step out in faith and use your testimony to bring Jesus’ message to at least one person. Then tomorrow see if you can find someone else to talk to about what Jesus has done for you. It doesn’t have to be a daily thing, but considering how much Jesus gave to save you and put you in this place…why not?

What is the difference?


OnlyJesusIn the world today there are many, many religions and their differences can be confusing, even baffling to someone who doesn’t practice one or another. Some are looking for a stress-free environment or a way to live as stress-free as possible. Others are thankful for just living one day at a time, while some religions seem to worship everything around them.

Then, there is Christianity which worships one God which has three persons. That doesn’t mean that there are multiple gods in Christian worship, the three in One serve the same purpose in different ways.

God the Father is our Creator and the Creator of everything in the universe. God the Son was sent to Earth to reconcile mankind’s sinful ways so that we could come to the Father through the sacrifice of the Son, Jesus. God the Holy Spirit has a job which includes the other two, but He is Spiritual in form and function. Which makes His function kinda hard to describe. The Spirit or Holy Ghost as He has been called allows our minds to understand and learn the Truths of Scripture when we study and read it. He is also the One Who convicts your spirit of the need for salvation if you aren’t saved through Jesus already.

If you could be physically in the room with God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit, they would look alike but different. Similar to being in the room with triplets. They look the same but there are subtle differences which are seen and understood but which are also hard to detect. Am I making this distinction worse or understandable? If you saw the movie, The Shack, you get a little bit of the differences and similarities that I am talking about.

None of the other religions claim to actually get you into heaven, except Christianity. They call it paradise or nirvana or oneness. Jesus even called it Paradise once on the cross when He was talking to the thief who asked to be remembered when He came into His Kingdom. Heaven would and will be a true Paradise because there is no death, no disease, no need for any of our man-made things to feel better because in the Presence of God nothing can hurt or harm us!

We will be in the dwelling place of God Himself and since He is the manifestation of Love and Life, there will be nothing which can take those blessings from us ever again! The descriptions of Heaven which some have written about or painted are so much beyond our ability to put into words or even to paint them with the colors or the words that we have until it truly blows your imagination apart. The mind has not seen nor can the imagination fathom what Heaven looks or feels like because we have nothing to compare it to.

A life lived in honor of and following Jesus is one which is never boring or without results which will burn into eternity. God loves us and since He gave His Son to pay the penalty for our sins, then we should give our lives to Him as a living sacrifice so that others may know His blessings and His grace.

 

What happened on Easter?


The story which is celebrated in much of the world has to do with pagan ritual. Eggs and rabbits and things like that. These have nothing to do with our risen Savior.

Jesus told His disciples that He would rise again on the third day. Many people disbelieve that story today, even in the church. I mean, how can you manage to get three days between Friday and Sunday? Going by Jewish calendars and tradition it is simple. A day begins at sunrise and ends at sunset, at least to us. But, to Jewish people who lived in Jesus’ day, the next day begins at sundown on the day before. So, when the soldiers arrested Jesus in the garden on early Friday morning, part of that day had already passed by.

The sunrise brought the priests and the High Priest before Pilate to accuse Jesus and He was flogged, but that wasn’t enough. They wanted a crucifixion and the Sabbath began at sundown. From about the third hour until the ninth hour Jesus was on the cross, that would be 9 am until 3 pm for us. Counting from sunrise to sunset is the timing that they used because the preparation for the Sabbath had to begin at sundown, counting as the next day.

empty_tomb11He laid in the tomb from just before sundown on Friday, all day on the Sabbath, and most of the day on the first day of the week on Sunday. So Friday, Saturday, and Sunday are three days!

So…what happened on Sunday morning at around sunrise? A miracle to those who witnessed it for sure! A bright light which was brighter than the Sun in its strength, which pierced even the cracks around the rock which covered the entrance to the tomb. The stone which had been rolled over the opening of the tomb and sealed with the Roman seal was rolled away.

We don’t know what the soldiers saw at that moment. They could’ve seen the risen Jesus in His glory or maybe an angel, possibly two angels who told the disciples and Mary that He has risen just as He had told them that He would. I want to believe that those soldiers who were guarding the tomb saw Him in His glory and likely believed that He was the Savior, the King of the Jews and their Messiah. But, until we get to Heaven we will not know for sure what they saw or what they believed.

Our Savior is alive and is at the right hand of Power on High! There is no other name by which we must be saved to be in His Presence! The only requirement is that we believe in Him and in what was written about Him in the Bible, ask Him for your forgiveness and repent of your old way of life and follow Him daily. That is our job, our responsibility as believers and as Christians! To tell others about our Savior Who died to give them the ability to become Christians and partake in His Kingdom too. No amount of money or work to do to be eligible for salvation, just believe in Him.

The Book of Life


What is the Book of Life? I am writing about the Lamb’s Book of Life, written from before the foundation of the world. God has placed each person’s name there who will accept Jesus as their Savior. Because He knows who will and who will not accept Him. The offer of salvation is given to all, but God knows who will accept it and who will not.

God has always known the names of those who will accept Jesus as their Savior. Now, I know that some of those who read this may not believe in something called “predestination”, I don’t either but God still knows which of us will accept Jesus. The big words and doctrines of our denominational associations actually are not written in Heaven. Those are man-made ideas and “laws” of which few are found in Scripture.

IamtheWayWhy am I writing this today? Because it is needed! You and I and anyone else who reads this blog need to know that God has always known which person will accept His way of life and who will follow Jesus. None of your ideas or doctrines which are written in the bylaws of your church are written in God’s handwriting! Many of them are based on what we think we have learned from reading His Word, but you don’t find all of them in the Bible.

While it is true that the word “predestined” is in the writings of Paul, the meaning of that is what God said years before Paul ever put it down. In the book of Jeremiah God told him that He knew him before he was born and before he was formed in the womb. He also said that He (God) had ordained him to be a prophet at that time. God determines who will be His prophets or His disciples and He knew us before the Garden was created!

It is the same with the Lamb’s Book of Life! He has known for many thousands of years whose name would be in it and those who would not be in it. Even though Jesus came and  paid the penalty for ALL of us to receive salvation and have access to eternity, God and by extension, Jesus already knew which person would accept Him as Savior. Our Creator is in control and He knows your heart and mine before we even realize Who He is.

God wants all of humanity to know Him as God, but many outside of the organized church just don’t want to know Him. They have their own idea of who their god is and it doesn’t fit with the God of the Old or New Testament. I am not speaking of any specific denomination in reference to an “organized church”, but those who do not attend church it seems they refuse to listen or attend a service. You will never know Who God is until you read His Word and feel the conviction of His Spirit in your life to know that you are a sinner according to His holiness.

One lie, one thought, just one is all that it takes to separate us from God but the absolute sin which will keep you from Heaven is not accepting Jesus as your Savior. All of the sins of the world are sins as far as God is concerned, whether you consider them to be significant or not. The ONE sin which condemns you to an eternity in hell is not accepting Jesus as your Savior and repenting from your old ways and follow Him in your life from that point on!

What can I do?


In our walk with Jesus, we sometimes wonder if there is anything which I can do to have an impact for the Kingdom of God? Some people may not consider this, but I feel that some really do want to have an impact for God. So..is there anything which we can do to bring people into God’s family? Yes and no actually.

Yes, we can do a lot for the Kingdom of God in that we can live our lives in Christ so that others will notice that our life is…well, different. Can we do this on our own? No, we can’t! Jesus said “Apart from Me you can do nothing”; and He was right! Without Him in our heart and the Holy Spirit’s guiding influence on a daily basis, we can do nothing which will make an impact for the Kingdom of God.

Living for Jesus and His Kingdom on a daily basis is possible only if you have the Holy Spirit living within you, changing you into a likeness of Jesus. Reading the Bible and studying His Word will only take you so far and without the Holy Spirit giving you the wisdom from His Word, even that won’t mean much or accomplish much at all! God has given us much of His Wisdom in His Word, but without the Spirit teaching you through it, revealing that wisdom to you, much of His Word will remain just words and nothing more.

Does God use people or circumstances to bring His will to completion?

Yes, He does and sometimes those people are not Christians but they have been brought to a place where God can use their influence for His purposes. We are not puppets or automatons but He has used kings and priests and even a donkey to bring His will to bear on history and in the lives of those who He deems important to His purposes. Since God exists outside of time, He can see the future and the past as easily as we can view our daily lives. He can readily discern a person’s impact for good or evil and cause them to be useful in His plans.

This is why He already has the workings of our future laid out, we just don’t know it yet. Is there anything which we can do in this timeline in which we live? Yes, but we must be willing to be still and know that He is God and let His Spirit guide us each day toward that goal, His goal, whatever that may be. If you try to get ahead of Him or do things outside of His will and purpose for your life, He will let you but it will likely fail.

Living without Jesus in your heart and allowing His Spirit to guide you in life is a foolish way for a Christian to live, because if He isn’t in your heart then you aren’t a Christian at all. Your walk with Him is a daily fellowship and one which needs to be nurtured and kept in sync with your reading of His Word. Your effectiveness as an ambassador for His Kingdom depends upon your walk with Him and your closeness in relationship to Him. If you are trying to do these things without depending on Him then your walk will be like a blind man without a guide, stumbling and falling more than you are walking.

Make sure of your relationship with Jesus and your belief in Him before your life here is over.

Should you consider the alternative?


What?! The alternative to Jesus and being saved from your sins, that is what I am writing about this time. What is the alternative? Simply put..don’t change anything in your life. Keep doing what you do and living your life just the way that you always have. Don’t read the Bible, don’t go to church, don’t pray for help in any situation that you find yourself in. Why? Because the world around us says that we can take care of everything on our own with no help from some imaginary god.Yourplans&Gods

The problem is that Christians don’t believe in an imaginary god. Our God is real and is the Creator of everything. Then again, some of us do claim to worship our own version of God, like when you hear someone say: “The god that I worship wouldn’t let those children die”; “My god is not like the one which I hear preached in the church”. Exactly Who do you think God is? We cannot make Him in our image! He created us in His image and desires us to be more like Jesus in every way.

When someone says that their god is not like this or that I want to ask them if they claim to be a Christian. If they say that they are, then I would like to ask them where they got the notion that God can be different for them instead of being the unchanging God of the Bible? We cannot serve a different god and claim that “our god” is the God of the Bible because we are engaging in idolatry when we create a god like we want instead of worshiping the One true God in the Bible.

Because when you try to make God to be or to have some trait that suits you and your lifestyle, then you aren’t a Christian anymore. You are worshiping an idol. A god which you are comfortable with but also one which has no business being taught to others because your “god” is not God!

Life is confusing and stressful enough without adding a layer of ambiguous nonsense on top of our religion. God is and always has been and there is no other that He will share that distinction with. As it says in the Old Testament, I am a jealous God.

That is why God told the Israelites not to worship other gods. This part is not up for debate, yet people try to mold God into their own ideas of who and what He is or is supposed to be. The creature cannot make God in their likeness or according to their preferences. Our Creator is God the Father, Jesus the Son (the Living Word) and the Holy Spirit which goes about touching men’s hearts and convicting them of their sinfulness in order to bring them to full knowledge of Himself and to have faith in Him leading to salvation.

You can choose to believe this or not…it is up to you. But, I caution you on this. We are given a certain number of days to live, yet we do not know when our time here is up. Make sure that you do know the God of the Bible before your last breath. Make sure of your faith and salvation before this life ends regardless of how your life may be leading you, because when you do breathe that last breath your time is up and you will face God either in judgment or a welcoming embrace. Which would you rather be greeted with?

What makes your life different?


In every book in the Bible, the one thing which makes each person important is…obedience. This very same ingredient is necessary for today’s world because God wants us to be obedient. Consider what would’ve happened if Moses had said “No!” to God at the burning bush? What would’ve happened in Israel if the prophets refused to do what God wanted? Jonah tried that, and it still worked out the way God wanted.

God will bring His will to pass and if you decide that you don’t want to help Him, then you can look for some things to come into your life which won’t work until you decide to work for God’s purpose instead of your own! Being obedient to the calling which God has placed in your life is necessary because it is what God expects from us. Remember, Jonah, as I said in the paragraph above, didn’t want to go to Ninevah like God wanted him to. He tried to go against God’s will too.

The problem with going against God’s call and will for your life is that God’s will doesn’t stop. His will is always finished the way that He intended it, like it or not. If you won’t do His will, then God will find someone who will or He will convince you to finish the call that was placed on you! Obedience has always been one of the qualities which God has required of His servants and the ones He has called as prophets or priests or even Kings.

Belief in Him and His purposes is also part of that requirement along with obedience and this is part of the reason that many people don’t serve Him today. Many of them attend church and they may read some verses in the Bible, some may even study the Bible a bit but that is as far as they want to go with their faith and their walk with Jesus.

Why?

Because of their own limiting beliefs and their lack of obedience to His calling on their lives, they will not have a fulfilling walk or relationship with Jesus. In contrast with actually obeying God’s call on your life, when you think you know what He wants you to do and you go ahead with that, God will just stand back and let you work on your own until you find that you can’t do what you think He wants! You need to be attentive enough to hear Him and follow His instructions.

Proverbs 3 says this: 5 Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. 6 In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. 7 Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the LORD, and depart from evil. 8 It shall be health to thy navel, and marrow to thy bones.

Oh, my gosh it’s from King James! How will I ever understand that!

I like the King James Bible because of its simplicity. The truth of God’s Word is present in all translations. If the Bible is translated faithfully from the Greek and Hebrew then His message is there for all to read and understand. Have faith in Him and follow Him, allow Him to lead you in your daily walk and believe in Jesus’ redemptive work on the cross and all of this will lead to a walk with Jesus that will carry you into eternity and hopefully will bring others along with you.

Light and Dark


Most of the time when you hear someone talk about the light and the dark, today people think of Star Wars and the Force. Well, in the spiritual world here on Earth, there are forces of Light and Dark too. In the movies, you hear of a “balance in the Force”, but there is no balance in the spiritual world and if you have followed the Star Wars history you know that balance is not easy!

There is no gray area in either reality! In the Star Wars universe, the good side usually helps people and the Jedi represent that side of the Force. As they tell people “Jedi use the Force for good and defense, never for attack”. Life on Earth is a little like this. It is good or bad, evil or love, there is very little gray areas in our world as well. So, why do I bring this up?

Cosmic-consciousness-alien-human-encounterBecause this last movie in the Star Wars group of films has the same message in it. “The Jedi must end” is one of the lines in the trailer that Luke says to Rey. But…why must they end? Because the Force is not all good? Of course, it isn’t, since the Sith have used the Dark side for their purposes selfishly ever since the Force was discovered. But even the Sith usually find that they are drawn to the Light at some point. Of course, not all of them are because they have embraced evil so tightly until they won’t allow the light in.

In our world, evil is represented by Satan and his demons and the evil things which they cause many in our world to do. Humanity isn’t forced to do these things, but if your heart hasn’t embraced belief in Jesus and allowed the Holy Spirit to change you, then you are open to suggestion and persuasion of another type of force. Our nature has always had this type of conflict because it was corrupted at the beginning, so until we learn that God has a plan for our lives we are like a blank slate.

Our lives can be influenced and manipulated in many different ways if we aren’t taught to follow God and His ways. Unlike some people who believe that humanity would naturally move toward the “good side”, most of humanity has proven that idea wrong many times over the centuries. Being taught about God and Jesus in church and at home is essential but it doesn’t guarantee that a person will choose to give their lives to Jesus.

Just as in the books and movies about the Force, you can be drawn or coaxed toward one side or the other and the same is true for the decision which we all should make to follow Jesus. If we feel drawn to Jesus and to a life of walking in His footsteps, then it is likely that we will do so. Maybe not immediately, but eventually we will give our heart to Him. Some people hear the message of grace and forgiveness and even feel drawn to Him, but they like their life and their friends more and they decide not to follow Him.

Remember…it is your decision which side you follow. God doesn’t force you to follow Jesus because forced obedience isn’t the same as loving and willing obedience. Satan can tempt you with money and power but if you don’t do as he wants you to do then those are taken from you. Yes, light and dark, good and evil are completely separate sides and there is no gray area at all. Because in the real world, mixing the two produces confusion and heartache just as the dark side or the evil side does.

Before the end of your life, and that could be any time since we don’t know when that is coming, make sure…absolutely sure which one you are going to live and work within this life.

Simple salvation


Have you ever been to an evangelical service anywhere and heard that it was simple to become a child of God? In many churches, you will never hear such a thing, but that is exactly what Jesus came to bring to everyone! The Jewish leaders of His day had over six hundred laws which they encouraged the people to keep (even though they couldn’t or wouldn’t keep them).

They asked Jesus what was the greatest commandment and He told them this: “Love the Lord with all of your mind, soul, body and strength and the second is like it; love your neighbor as yourself.” The law and the prophets hang on these two commandments. Much simpler don’t you think?

Salvation comes only through faith and belief in Jesus and the atonement which He bought for us with His blood and His resurrection from the tomb. Faith comes from hearing the Word preached and your soul responding to it, then belief comes when the Holy Spirit touches your heart and breaks it, showing you where you have failed to be like Jesus in your life. Why does it happen this way?

Because until it is broken just a little, there is no opening in your heart for the Holy Spirit to gain entrance. Being broken doesn’t mean that you are beyond repair because with God all things are possible! I mean, He made the first man from the mud and breathed the breath of Life into him. God called up the cattle and other animals from the ground and caused the waters to teem with all kinds of living creatures, certainly, He can take a small crack in your heart and mend it to make you into a new creature in Christ!

Learning about Jesus and His love for you is not the end of your life but the beginning! How can I say this? Because this pitiful seventy or eighty years of life is nothing compared to eternity! Which is where you will spend the rest of Life with Him and with all of those who have given their lives and their hearts to Him! Don’t throw eternity away because of a small thing or some amount of money here on Earth! The streets of Heaven are paved with gold and the doors leading into the Temple in Heaven are made out of 12 ft. tall pearls! What can wealth here give you that you can’t have in eternity? Absolutely nothing!

Make sure of your salvation simply because, after your last breath in this life, you won’t have a chance to change your mind or destination in eternity.