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.

Being a mouthpiece


Since I am a preacher, that is what I am seen as by most people…a mouthpiece for God’s Word. I read a few verses or maybe a chapter during the service on Sunday morning and then expound on what I have read and what the wisdom that God has given me tells me about this scripture. Moses was a mouthpiece and all of the prophets in the Bible were too. Jesus is a direct mouthpiece because He is the Living Word of God and His disciples were mouthpieces and teachers just as we are today.

Bridge2SalvationWhat is my point in this article today? Simply that God is awesome, Jesus is sitting at the right of His Father and the universe is under their control! Being the person who tells others about God and His Son, and thankfully I am not the only one doing this, is an awesome responsibility! But, I enjoy it!

God loves us and the story that is told in the Bible, from the beginning to the end, is the story of His love and compassion toward us all. While it is true that it starts out being a story about Creation and the Israelite nation, the wisdom contained within its pages is for all of us! Jesus came to tell that story more personally so that we could understand that God’s love doesn’t just mean something to one particular people, but it is expressed toward all of humanity through His death and resurrection!

God’s love and compassion for us are also expressed in His patience toward us because we are very stubborn in our sinful lives and we don’t want to follow His ways until we are ready. The problem with that is that we don’t have a clue about our the brevity of our lives! We are not guaranteed tomorrow or even tonight, so as the saying goes “today is the day of salvation”! Tomorrow isn’t here until it is and you may not have much time in the day or the week ahead to give your life to Jesus and repent of your sins.

None of us can know if we are going into the new year in a couple of weeks because it isn’t a certainty. A wreck or a heart attack or a stroke could take your life at any time between now and then and if you haven’t made the decision to follow Jesus and believe in His atonement for your sins, then you will cross from this life into judgment and hell.

God loves each of us and this is shown in His Word, so don’t wait until you find yourself in front of God and being judged for a life lived without Jesus or even believing in Him. Yes, each of us will be judged in one way or another. If you are a Christian and have Jesus as your Savior then you will be judged by what you did for God’s Kingdom.

If you are not a Christian, then every word and deed that you have ever done in your life will be brought before you to convict you of your sins and to prove that you deserve to be punished in hell. Not for the sins, but for refusing to give your heart to Jesus! That is the sin which condemns you to hell. Make sure of your salvation while you can in this life because when this one is over you can’t rewind and fix it.

Have you learned much this year?


Life is hard at times. Learning about your Creator and your faith is one of the most rewarding experiences that you can have. So, exactly how do you learn about Him? Well, that is a very good question and it is what this article is all about.

Truly, God loves each of us! Not just those who claim to be Christians but every person on the Earth! Of course, that doesn’t always translate into those persons giving Him their heart and their love in return. The main part of learning about God and Jesus and their love for you is inside of a book…the Bible! God inspired writers to write down His laws and His requirements for His people, the Jewish nation of Israel.

Some might argue that those laws and requirements don’t pertain to us today because they were written over two millennia ago, some as much as three millennia in the past. How could wisdom and laws from that far back in time and written to a different people have anything to do with today?

It is because God is our Creator and His wisdom is timeless as are His laws and precepts. Yes, they were written by people far away and years in the past but God lives outside of time and He gives wisdom and love to all who will come to Him and ask. God loves all of us, which is why Jesus came to live a life unblemished by sin and then be sacrificed as the Spotless Lamb of God for our sins!

We are His Creation and when the world was still unformed and not made yet, He knew that humanity would need a Savior. Jesus came to be that Savior for all of us if we will believe in Him and the atonement that He purchased with His blood and His death on the cross and then He vanquished over death when He came out of the tomb three days later.

job-type-of-ChristWhen we are tested and tried during our lives by illness or setbacks in a job or finances, it is to make us better and closer to God. Just as Job was tested hard when all of his children and his wealth was taken by the attacks of Satan. Then his health was taken away and he still didn’t lose his faith. He questioned God’s reasons for his losses but he never lost his faith in God’s mercy and greatness! When the testing was over, God blessed him with the gift of children and twice his wealth and he lived to a ripe old age.

Here is the account of God’s grace toward Job:

God Restores Job’s Fortunes

10 The LORD restored the fortunes of Job when he prayed for his friends, and the LORD increased all that Job had twofold. 11 Then all his brothers and all his sisters and all who had known him before came to him, and they ate bread with him in his house, and they consoled him and comforted him for all the adversities that the LORD had brought on him. And each one gave him one piece of money, and each a ring of gold. 12 The LORD blessed the latter days of Job more than his beginning; he had 14,000 sheep and 6,000 camels and 1,000 yoke of oxen and 1,000 female donkeys. 13 He had seven sons and three daughters. 14 He named the first Jemimah, and the second Keziah, and the third Keren-happuch. 15 In all the land no women were found so fair as Job’s daughters and their father gave them inheritance among their brothers. 16 After this, Job lived 140 years and saw his sons and his grandsons, four generations. 17 And Job died, an old man and full of days.