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Archive for the tag “Bible truth”

The Letters to the Churches

I don’t know if you are as sick of this election cycle as I am, but I will be so glad when it’s all over. If I hear one more commercial about what he said or what she did – that goes for national and state too – I think I’ll just scream. I keep waiting for the truth to come out; after all, what’s done in darkness will come to light one day. Satan loves to reveal his work especially when it comes to God’s people.

There’s been too many occasions lately when I have heard of moral failures in the leadership of churches. It’s pretty common place to have moral failures in the membership; even though that shouldn’t be, but it is. But leadership has a different standard which they should be held accountable. The dark deeds always come to light. God will not let us “get away” with anything that is done in darkness when we are supposed to be of the light. He pursues us in those pig sty locations! He will set us up to get caught. Been there, done that; didn’t enjoy the consequences of my actions.

In my Bible, the chapter heading for the fifth chapter in 1 Corinthians says to “Expel the Immoral Brother!” That seems pretty harsh. Paul wrote that the Corinthian church body was not to associate with sexually immoral people (vs 9). The letter was written to the church for the church body. Paul had sharp words for those allowing such sins to remain in the church body. Paul wrote that a little yeast will work through a whole batch of dough. Sins left unchecked in the Body will have consequences and bring harm to the church’s influence.

In Galatians, we read how Paul offers the hand of reconciliation to those who are caught in sin (Galatians 6:1-5). We are told to help carry the burdens of our brothers and sisters in Christ. Jesus tells us not to cast stones at those caught in sin. We can also fall into the same trap and need to be watchful for Satan’s attempts to harm the church through us. Paul wrote to the church body in Ephesus about living as children of the light. “But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people” (Ephesians 5:3).

Paul’s writings were for a different time, right? This doesn’t apply now, does it? I believe these truths still stand, and I believe the church body will be sifted for any “weeds that have grown up in our wheat field.” If Jesus is getting ready to come back to get His bride (the church) like I hear from prophecy experts, then the church has to be ready. The church needs to be clean. And the leadership needs to be held to the certain standards set for overseers and deacons as stated by Paul in 1 Timothy 3. Paul reminds us that all Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness (2 Timothy 3:16).

We go to the letters to the church found in Revelation, and Jesus warns these churches of the coming wrath. To the church in Ephesus, He said to repent and do the things they did at first; they had forsaken their first love – Him. He warns them if they do not repent, their lampstand will be removed (Revelation 2:4-5). To the church in Smyrna, He reminded them of the coming persecution; to stand strong in the face of it (Revelation 2:10). To the church in Pergamum, He called them to repentance because of the teaching that was allowed to entice the believers to sin. To the church of Thyatira, again this church was misled into sexual immorality. He reminded the hearers of His word that He searches hearts and minds; “hold on to what you have until I come” (Revelation 2:25).

To the church in Sardis, He tells them to wake up! He tells them to obey what they have heard and repent (Revelation 3:3). To the church in Philadelphia, He tells them to hold on as well. He said He is coming soon; how much more so now than then. And to the last church letter to Laodicea, He warned them about being lukewarm (Revelation 3:16). Being lukewarm is repulsive to Him. But He said to those whom He loves, He would rebuke and discipline. He stands at the door waiting. If we have ears, we need to hear and be obedient to His teachings.

Church, it’s time to wake up; it’s time to clean up our act. It’s time to turn away from the darkness and live as children of the light. Leaders of the church, you set the example we must follow. Teach the truth even if we don’t want to hear it. It’s time to thrive again. Politicians and government cannot do what the church is equipped to do – love one another and be the light to our communities. Jesus is counting on us. For those with ears, let them hear.

Someone asked him, “Lord, are only a few people going to be saved?”

He said to them, “Make every effort to enter through the narrow door, because many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able to. Once the owner of the house gets up and closes the door, you will stand outside knocking and pleading, ‘Sir, open the door for us.’

“But he will answer, ‘I don’t know you or where you come from.’ Luke 13:23-25

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Aged to Perfection

I love the first miracle Jesus performed was done at a wedding festival. Who doesn’t love a good party! Jesus told the servants to fill the stone jars – not just any ordinary stone jars, but the ones used for cleansing preparation. When water was placed in those jars, it was considered holy. It was ceremonially clean. Jesus not only used holy water to make the wine, He used many jars to make an abundance of wine. He could have told the servants to fill one jar, but He told them to fill all the jars. Six jars that held 20 to 30 gallons. That’s a lot of wine!

I had an “ah ha” moment this past week while I was listening to a lecture on this miracle. There is an aspect of the creation story in Jesus’ first miracle. Jesus created water out of wine. I think we all get that aspect of the story. The deeper truth though is that the miracle shows Jesus’ ability to create something from nothing just as it was done in the very beginning of time. He took ordinary water and made it wine – not just any wine, but the really good stuff. In those days, new wine was put into new wine skins to age. Jesus bypassed the aging process and just put it into jars. It was already aged to perfection. The “ah ha” moment came in the statement that God takes age into account when He creates.

When you consider creation – “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth” – He brought the earth and the heavens into its fullness in aged perfection. They were created in the perfect way, and it was sustainable from the beginning. Light years didn’t develop over time; it was on the first day. I have always struggled with the idea about earth being billions of years older than what the Bible and theologians say is only thousands of years in existence. I can’t explain dinosaurs or antiquity either. It has baffled my mind for years.

But I figured God doesn’t tell us everything for a reason. It’s called faith. Take it on faith that what we are told in the Bible is the Truth. And the Bible is confirmed by the Spirit. So I believe because God said it was so, and the Spirit confirms what I read. If Jesus can age wine in the miracle, then I believe God can age the earth in the miracle of creation. It makes perfect sense in a supernatural way. Only God knows the complete story of creation. We are given the highlights, and left to discover the rest in the right time. However, doubts come when things don’t seem to add up to our logical sense.

The disciples all believed Jesus was who He said He was after that first miracle. This miracle was the first sign of Jesus’ glory: “and His disciples believed in Him” (John 2:11). But it took the miracle of Jesus’ resurrection, and the Holy Spirit dwelling in them for them to become true witnesses throughout the world. John wrote his Gospel of the accounts of Jesus so that readers of his Gospel would believe (John 20:30-31).

The first miracle had significance for many reasons. It wasn’t because Jesus was so cool to bring His glory to a party – even though He is pretty cool like that. John’s Gospel is the only Gospel that records some of the amazing things Jesus did while He walked the earth. John gave us an eyewitness account of these things. He testified of Jesus’ glory just as John the Baptist did when Jesus was baptized.

After the resurrection, Jesus walked with the two men to Emmaus and explained what had taken place. The men said the words spoken by Jesus burned in their hearts (Luke 24:32). Luke recorded the conversation in Luke 24. Jesus “explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.” We are given these things so that we too may believe.

God’s story is aged to perfection. One day, we too will be aged to perfection in our glorified bodies when we are resurrected from the dead. Yes, God considers the aging process before time began. The Ancient One came to live among us so that we would believe in the One who sent Him – Jesus testified about His Father. Believe it as Truth because He said so!

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is himself God and is in closest relationship with the Father, has made him known. (John 1:1, 14, 18)

Consider the Source

Last weekend, I had the opportunity to take a little road trip with my sister and brother-in-law. I love road trips because it’s an opportunity for uninterrupted conversations, which seems to be rather rare these days. However, there was a time in my life when road trips were very stressful. When I was alone with my Mom on a road trip, I knew I was going to be in for an interrogation. She spent the time “drilling” me with questions about my life. And my life was not in the best shape at that time. I didn’t want her asking too many questions because at some point, I would only be able to give her a bunch of lies to cover up the truth. Glad those days are over! Glad I survived them!

Yesterday morning when I was in my quiet time, I recalled the conversation with my brother-in-law (BIL). We talked about a series of topics, but one of the discussions came to a standstill. I tried to convince him about something I had heard. No amount of argument could persuade him about the topic. His mind was already made up and nothing would change it. He told me to consider my source. I believed my source was good and believed the facts were true. But nothing I said led him to believe me or my source. So I dropped the subject, and we talked about something else for the rest of the trip.

As I remembered the conversation, I was reminded I need to consider the source of the argument. When I consider spiritual matters, I have to go to the source of Truth. The passage in my quiet time was about spiritual maturity. Maturity comes with walking closely with the Lord; reading God’s Word and applying what is taught. As we grow spiritually mature, we are enabled to grow in our understanding. The more we know, the more we grow. Our minds have to be tuned to the right frequency to hear the Truth. We have to be able to listen and transform our thinking to what the Lord is saying. We have to consider the source.

When I traveled with my Mom, I didn’t want to listen to what she had to say because I knew she was right; and I needed to change. I wasn’t ready to make the necessary changes. As time moved on, I began to listen; and I began to change. I don’t want to live in ignorance any longer. I want to be able to discern the truth and apply it. As I discern the truth, I change my mind from incorrect thinking. This is spiritual maturity. It’s transformation as the Lord leads.

We don’t use the term “repentance” anymore, but this is the term associated with “changed” thinking. We read God’s Word and come into agreement with Him on His Truth. In James 1:22, we are told not to just listen to the Word, but do what it says. It is written that “anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like” (James 1:23-24). Paul wrote in his second letter to Timothy, “all Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16).

In this same letter, Paul wrote Timothy about the end of times when people will not put up with sound teaching. “They [the people] will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths” (2 Timothy 4:4). Discernment is the key to understand what we hear and read is truth or myths. And when we are confronted with the truth, we have to be open to change our minds to line up with God’s Truth. When our stinking thinking leads us in the wrong direction, repentance turns us around.

John the Baptist was sent to prepare the way for Jesus Christ. His message was “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near” (Matthew 3:2). Jesus said throughout His teachings, “Whoever has ears, let them hear.” Many in Jesus’ day ignored the message. They did not believe. They counted on their inheritance as sons and daughters of Abraham. Jesus’ message is still the same today. There is only one way to receive the true inheritance of heaven. Jesus Christ is the key to unlock the true riches of heaven. There is no other source for true light and life. Consider the message and change your mind if it’s not firmly established in Truth. If you have ears, please hear the message before it’s too late.

For everything that is hidden will eventually be brought into the open, and every secret will be brought to light. Anyone with ears to hear should listen and understand.”

Then he added, “Pay close attention to what you hear. The closer you listen, the more understanding you will be given—and you will receive even more. Mark 4:22-24 (NLT)

Not Ashamed

“They” say it is easier at this time of year to share the Gospel message. There are signs all around us to point others to the message of Jesus’ Good News. I had an occasion over the weekend to speak the truth to two women who came to my door. They were going to persuade me that the Bible was difficult to understand and hand me information about the Bible. I stopped their speech and told them I knew the truth of the Bible. However, I didn’t tell them the reason I knew the Truth. I didn’t tell them the Holy Spirit lives in me to help me understand the Bible. I thought of it after they were gone. I failed miserably in sharing the Good News. I was disappointed in my lack of courage to speak boldly to those two women. After the encounter, I prayed for someone else to be better about sharing the Good News with them.

I was reading 2 Timothy yesterday morning. It reminded me of my encounter over the weekend. Paul was always ready to share the Gospel with everyone he encountered. He had a passion to share, no matter the cost to him personally. Even in jail, he proclaimed the Good News to all in ear shot. As I read, I followed the Timothy passage with Acts 28:31: He (Paul) proclaimed the kingdom of God and taught about the Lord Jesus Christ—with all boldness and without hindrance! Paul was never ashamed. Paul understood the responsibility of sharing the message.

We are all entrusted with the same message. We all have the responsibility to share with a desperate world. If this is the best time to share with ones who are more willingly to hear, then we need to be better at it. They say practice makes perfect. I want a “do over” with those women! I am not ashamed of the Gospel. I just need boldness to do it, like Paul.

When we receive the gift of salvation, we are not immediately taken to heaven. We are left here for a greater purpose. We are not here to keep the status quo but to advance the cause – take new ground from the enemy. We are in a battle that is furiously fought over our family and friends. We have a responsibility where we are – God planted us in this place and time with His full armor and His Spirit. We are told we are not to be afraid, but to be courageous.

I pray I will do better next time. I need to be working out of the Holy Spirit’s power. Normally, I don’t think of things very quickly. I need to learn to wait on the prompting of the Holy Spirit. I must be prepared to do battle. My quiet time needs to be intentionally minded with the things God wants and not my wants. I don’t need any more training. I don’t need to study anymore – although I will never stop reading God’s word. I need to be more in tuned with the Holy Spirit. That takes practice.

Book knowledge is good, but living it out is where God’s truth is magnified to a lost world. We are Jesus’ body. We are to represent Him in this world. I may have good qualities but that is nothing compared to the righteousness of Jesus Christ. When we, as His Body, represent Jesus well; it will change our world around us. This is nothing like an encounter with Jesus. There is no greater testimony than the one has been transformed by His grace and mercy.

James Robertson (Life Today) said on his Monday broadcast, we don’t have to see the signs and wonders God is presenting to us today. We know we are closer to the end than the beginning. Jesus is coming back one day. Like John the Baptizer before us, we are called to prepare the way. There isn’t much time remaining before all hell will literally be poured out. It’s time to take some more ground.

As Paul as my mentor, I am asking for his level of commitment to share the news of Jesus Christ. Today, the signs point to His first coming – the manger scenes, the gift giving and such. But as the signs continue to point to the second coming of Jesus Christ, I must be intentional about doing God’s work. The work is not finished and will not be done until we see Jesus face to face. Lord, help us! Holy Spirit, work boldly in us so that You can work gloriously through us! Amen.

He has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time, but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior, Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel. And of this gospel I was appointed a herald and an apostle and a teacher. That is why I am suffering as I am. Yet this is no cause for shame, because I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him until that day. 2 Timothy 1:9-12

Still the Message

Repent! For the Kingdom of God is near!” John the Baptist was given this message before the ministry of Jesus began. He was the one who called from the wilderness to bring about the change of heart for those who would hear and heed the word. Jesus had the same message. It might have been stated a bit differently. He spoke of forgiveness of sin to those who came for healing. The sick and hurting came in large groups for healing. But Jesus always looked to their hearts first to find their true sickness. He offered forgiveness and told those who came to Him “Go and sin no more!” The same message of repentance – turn away from your sins, and you will receive the Kingdom of God. Overcome that thing that holds you back. For the one who overcame, many promises were given. When Jesus taught the large crowds He ended His teachings with this phrase: “For those who have ears to hear, let them hear.”

In Jesus’ time, the message was verbal. No one had ten copies of scrolls that they kept on their nightstand or coffee table to show those who entered their dwelling how “spiritual” they were. They went to the Temple to learn from the scholars. No one carried a scroll around to read while waiting for the next caravan to come around to take them to the mall to shop. It was all by the word of mouth that people were taught. So when Jesus said, “for those who have ears” He meant everyone that was listening to the sound of His voice. Pay attention – this is important to grasp the understanding you will need to enter the Kingdom. He said the way to the Kingdom is narrow and only a few would enter by the narrow gate.

I was listening to someone speak about the seven churches in Revelation on Sunday morning. I had a few thoughts that came to mind as they were speaking that I took note of and wrote them down. The first thought was: these letters were sent to churches – believers. I know it’s pretty obvious. Jesus wasn’t pointing out flaws or giving encouragement to non-believers. He had a message to give His followers. He had to get them back on track if there were going to fulfill His mission. Jesus gave every church a directive and a promise. Every church was called to repent of their deeds and for those who overcame their “issues” a promise was given. I have a red-letter Bible (meaning that the words that Jesus spoke are printed in red). Every word in this section of Revelation chapters two and three are in read letters. John wrote down what Jesus instructed to the seven churches. After Jesus gave the direction to each church, Jesus ended each letter “for those who have ears, let them hear.”

The message reminded me also when Peter, James and John went up the mountain with Jesus. Jesus was transfigured before them and they were overwhelmed with His glory. Peter being Peter started talking nonsense about building shelters for Moses and Elijah. God interrupted Peter telling them to listen to His Son (Matthew 17:5). Pay attention, boys! Jesus’ words were important to record. If they were important to write then they must be important to remember and obey. Listen! For the Kingdom of God is near.

Do we get that in this day and time? Are we so far removed from the message that we fail to hear the truth behind it? Would Jesus still give us this message today? The word today should still be repent for the kingdom of God is near. For believers today, the kingdom is already here – the Holy Spirit dwells within us. Even more today, we should pay attention to what the Holy Spirit is saying to us. For those who have ears to hear: Pay attention! Repent! Set ourselves apart from the worldly pursuits and pursue holiness! This is not a message we like to hear. But we’re all called to do just that. Our lives matter here on earth to bring glory to Jesus. But it takes a pure heart and a willing spirit and a renewed mind. It’s still the same message today. Pay attention to what the Lord is saying today.

Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest, and repent. Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me. Revelation 3:19-20

Foundational Truths

My Sundays are usually pretty quiet ones. I have my quiet time in the morning, followed by one of the gatherings of my local body of believers (called “church” round these parts), and then I will listen to North Point Online (Andy Stanley’s teachings or one of the other pastors). Then hopefully I will listen to God as I reflect on what I have heard. Sometimes I don’t listen very well. Or I don’t take the opportunity to reflect; I get busy doing other things. Then the word (as the Word says) is snatched away. I don’t remember what was taught; I forget the message by the time I hit the front doors or turn off the TV. I don’t reflect on the message and how it should affect my life. The word evaporates like water on a hot day.

This past Sunday, I did a better job at listening – maybe it was because I was ready for a fresh word – a fresh perspective. You see, I need a miracle. I need God to show up big. I am praying for a fresh revelation of Him. I have determined that I can ask my heavenly Father for anything. My pastor reminded me through his message about this one truth: God loves me (and you). It’s unconditional. I read on Saturday morning during my quiet time, that I am chosen by God before the foundation of the world. I was chosen to be His daughter (this was not revelation to me – but sometimes I need to be reminded). We all are chosen as His children. Some of us have responded to the invitation from Jesus to join the family of God by receiving the gift of salvation. But not only receiving the gift, but acknowledging Jesus’ work and our shortcomings (sins) and seeking the forgiveness from the Father through Jesus, who is our bridge between God and us.

I have a child’s perspective of the parent/child love relationship. I don’t have the bond of a mother/child love since I do not have children. The child side is different from the mother side (or father side). The parent always has a greater love for the child than the child has for the parent. Sometimes, I don’t think I truly understand the depths of God’s love since I haven’t experienced the deeper love of parenthood. I know in theory, but struggle with the concept in reality. To get past this problem, I have to believe based on the truth of God’s word. There is a depth of love that is wider, deeper and greater than any chasm that can be crossed by human efforts. There is a depth of love that was crossed over by divine nature through Jesus. He became the bridge over the chasm. God sent Him for us. Jesus chose to come for us.

I can imagine the conversation in Heaven before the first spoken word to form the heavens and the earth. They must have decided that it was still worth setting the world on its foundation. God knew the ways of man before man took the first breath. Right then – He chose each and every one of us to be here at this time and place. Nothing is by accident. My breath is taken away each and every time I contemplate the vastness of what was done even when God knew it all from the beginning. He still chose to do the things He did in the beginning. And then, God said it all was very good. Why would He do such a thing when He knew it all from the beginning? Because of Love.

The second truth spoken on Sunday was: God is in control. Nothing is a surprise to God. There is nothing that comes to us – blessings or trials – that first doesn’t come through Him. Dr. Charles Stanley wrote in his devotional this morning that “as believers, we’re assured that no adversity comes our way unless He can use it for our benefit and His good purpose.” The one thing we faced in our lives that was impossible was becoming His child. Sin broke the relationship with God when man (and woman) first sinned. But this wasn’t impossible either, for God made a way where there was no way. Because of that truth, everything we face is possible with God. The miracle has already happened. I am here – you are here, because of Jesus. The relationship with God has been restored when we become His. Because of Jesus, we can ask our Heavenly Father for what we need. He knows the best for you and me. We must trust Him to answer as He sees fit. And know that when we receive the answer, it is for our good regardless of what the answer may be. His love wins every time.

And this is God’s plan: Both Gentiles and Jews who believe the Good News share equally in the riches inherited by God’s children. Both are part of the same body, and both enjoy the promise of blessings because they belong to Christ Jesus. And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God. Ephesians 3:6, 18-19 (NLT)

What time is it?

I have a clock on my mantel that is about fifteen or so years old. As long as the battery lasts, it keeps good time. The ticking clock does annoy me when I am trying to concentrate or rest! Ticking sounds are supposed to be relaxing but not to me. For the last few weeks, the ticking continues but the hands never move. I have replaced the battery, but there is still no movement. It’s the only clock in the room. When I need to know the time, I have to get out of my chair and go to another source to find the time. The lack of movement of those minute and second hands reminds me that time is always moving whether we recognize it or not. Time never stands still. We are here on this earth just a short time. It may seem long in earthly years; but eternal years, it’s just a blip on the eternal clock.

I was listening to Anne Graham Lotz teaching from the book of Joel in her conference from earlier this year at The Cove. She believes we are in the last moments of time before Jesus comes back. I tend to agree with her. The “natural” and man-made disasters are occurring too frequently to think it’s just a coincidence. God is slow to pronounce judgment just yet, but I believe He is giving us the warning signs that judgment is coming. He is slow because He wants no one to perish. He is giving us time to reach our friends and neighbors to tell them about Jesus. He is giving His church time to clean house and get things in order. I am reminded every now and then that we are to pay attention to the time. God sends us the signals for our benefit so that we are not caught unaware.

At my small group last night, we discussed the first coming of Jesus. No one recognized the time. Jesus came in the form of a baby. No one expected Him. After a long time of waiting, the people of God were complacent. They lost track of their purpose. People drift along with the current times and forget that God sets in motion the exact time and place for His promises to be fulfilled. God had been silent for four hundred years. There wasn’t a prophet to announce another word – it had already been foretold previously. The people of God were supposed to know the signs and significance of the coming, but they missed it. Even Jesus’ family missed the significance. His half-brothers didn’t understand until after Jesus’ resurrection. Then the light dawned for them.

I wonder what it’s going to take to wake us up to see what God wants us to see. How will we recognize our own time? God foretold the news of Jesus’ return in the Bible. More prophecies are written about His second coming than His first. Yet, are we really paying attention? I can imagine the time of Jesus’ first coming when life was happening. The time was brutal. People were in desperate times. I used to think that the time we are in now is worse than anything we’ve ever witnessed before. But reality is: the times really haven’t changed much throughout the centuries. Evil is still evil. And evil has been around from the beginning. We just have the means with technology to see it in real-time. Evil just takes a different form now – but it’s still evil. People are still in desperate times. For those of us in North America, we are insulated from real desperation. We don’t experience the trouble like our brothers and sisters in other parts of the world experience on a daily basis.

Anne and Joel Rosenberg were teaching the book of Joel so that those who were hearing these things could help others to know and understand too. We are told to be “watchmen on the wall.” We need to be watching the signs and telling others of the importance of what we are seeing and hearing. We were encouraged to study and teach this small book as well. I am anticipating the glorious appearing. There is still time to reach my people with the word before it’s too late. Time may be running out. The clock is ticking. The hands may not be moving where I can actually see them, but God is always at work – even when it all seems quiet on the western front. It is never as it seems.

“Now learn this lesson from the fig tree: As soon as its twigs get tender and its leaves come out, you know that summer is near. Even so, when you see all these things, you know that it is near, right at the door.” Matthew 24:32-33

No Matter What

While I was reading last week’s post before I posted it, I thought about something that I need to continue the thought. I mentioned that the dash matters for our eternal life. Do we actually get that fact? What counts is how we live our lives and how much it will affect our eternity. Francis Chan has a video on YouTube showing a long rope with a red tip (Google FC rope video). The red tip is actually the life we live on earth. The rest of the rope is eternity. We concern ourselves with the here and now – the red tip portion. However, we should be concerned about the longer eternity portion. We all will have an eternity somewhere. We actually get to choose where we’ll go, but the choice has to be made here. We can choose to believe Jesus is the way to eternal life or we can choose to reject Jesus; there really isn’t another option.

I have heard the comment how can a loving God send someone to eternal hell (which is the separation from His presence). Louie GIglio said maybe the question should be how could anyone reject the love of God? It’s our choice to choose our destiny. Jesus is the way, the truth and the life (John 14:6) – only through Him will we have eternal life with Him forever. Yes, it’s a pretty narrow way. However, the way is open to everyone. Jesus died for the world – no discrimination on race, color, nation, etc. Jesus said though that few will find the way (Matthew 7:13-14). God’s love is so wide, long, high and deep (Ephesians 3:18) that He sent His only Son to give us the eternal life (John 3:16). Jesus was sacrificed for us. God doesn’t want us to choose to be separated from Him for eternity. But if we have nothing to do with Him here, why would we want to be with Him for eternity? We get to start the relationship here, not there! What a privilege to have a relationship with the Almighty God of heaven and earth right here and right now.

The red tip is so short and the rest of the rope so long. Let’s not concern ourselves with the things that do not matter. Eternity will be here before we know it. There’s too much at stake. We have the opportunity to get to know Jesus here and now. We are given His word to read and to gain understanding. Sometimes it’s difficult to understand, but that’s why we are given the Holy Spirit to help us. The Spirit is given to all who call upon Jesus as Lord; who believe He is the Son of God and died for our sins. He redeemed us to be His children. He purchased us so that we would not have to be punished in eternal hell for our sins. He paid the debt that was owed. No matter what we did, He still loved us enough to die for us – even while we were still so far from Him. Now that’s a loving God who wants no one to perish! Religion says we have to seek God; but the relationship with God starts with Him coming down to us in the form of Jesus. None of us who have the desire to know God unless God sought us first. This is the difference in religion versus relationship.

The dash really does matter; it’s here that we consider our eternity. Jesus is the way to eternal life. Choose life. Once the destiny is determined, the life lived here on earth gets infinitely better – maybe not in circumstances, but in the hope and assurance that we serve an awesome God who never leaves us or forsakes us – no matter what! Storms in life will still come, but God will walk through them with us. His peace is given. His hope is secure. Our lives are secure in Him. There is nothing better than having that peace and security in His loving embrace – no matter what!

My dear children, let’s not just talk about love; let’s practice real love. This is the only way we’ll know we’re living truly, living in God’s reality. It’s also the way to shut down debilitating self-criticism, even when there is something to it. For God is greater than our worried hearts and knows more about us than we do ourselves.

And friends, once that’s taken care of and we’re no longer accusing or condemning ourselves, we’re bold and free before God! We’re able to stretch our hands out and receive what we asked for because we’re doing what he said, doing what pleases him. Again, this is God’s command: to believe in his personally named Son, Jesus Christ. He told us to love each other, in line with the original command. As we keep his commands, we live deeply and surely in him, and he lives in us. And this is how we experience his deep and abiding presence in us: by the Spirit he gave us. 1 John 3:18-24 (The Message)

Liar, Liar

Have you ever told a lie? Has someone ever told you a lie? You might have answer yes to both of those. I know I did. But what’s worse is we believe the lies we tell ourselves. Last week, I mentioned the movie Frozen and the famous song. The icy queen tells a big fat lie in that song – well, I think it was a lie she told to her own heart. She sang that she was going to “let it go” and she sang she liked the cold anyway. Personally, I get it; we make excuses that we can believe so that we can live with the decisions we make. She was hurt, lost and alone. The decision seemed like a good one at the time. And she believed it was for the best. But was it really?

I am leading a group of women through the Daniel Plan (by Rick Warren). In session four, Dr. Daniel Amen speaks about how the thoughts we have affect our health (physical, spiritual and emotionally). His point was to capture those thoughts and ask – “Is this the truth?” If it’s not the truth, then let it go. (I know; I am carrying this song way too far.) The thoughts we have can harm us. Dr. Amen is a brain specialist. He says there are chemical reactions to our thought life. When we have positive thoughts, the chemical release is a feeling of pleasure. The negative thoughts are toxic. How true is that? Negativity kills our good moods!

How many times do we hear something over and over and start to believe it’s the truth? Scripture tells us that Satan is the father of lies. He is speaking his native tongue. Why do we let him speak to us in his own language? Why do we believe him? I think it’s because we don’t recognize the truth of God’s word to be The Truth. We are to think of the things that are noble, right, pure, lovely, and admirable (Philippians 4:8). These are the things we are supposed to capture, not the things that keep us bound up in that negative place. The verse before this one, says that the peace of God will guard our hearts and minds for those of us who are in Christ. I love the picture of putting on the helmet of salvation – part of the armor that God gives us to protect our thoughts.

I don’t know who coined the term, but we need to get rid of our stickin’ thinkin’! We need to dismiss those lies that we hear in our hearts. Our own hearts will lead us astray. Our hearts will deceive us. That’s just hard to believe, but it’s true. I can look back over my past and see where heart has told me something that I believed for years. I didn’t reconcile it to the word of God. God said He made us in His image. However, we can believe aren’t worthy. We can believe we are bad people because of all the things we have done and said. There maybe things in our past that is bad. But the truth is: that God sent His Son for us even when we were so far from Him. God said He loved us, even when we don’t love Him.

I remember being in a bar (in my drinking days) and a total stranger came up to me and told me how beautiful I was. I laughed and everyone around me laughed at the drunken woman. A few days later, I was in another bar in another town, and a man did the same thing. This time, I was the only one who heard it. I was taken aback. I don’t remember what else was going on at that time in my life, but I was far away from God. I think that was God using them to tell me He loved me even when I was far from Him. He saw me as beautiful even when I couldn’t have been further from the truth of it. He never moved; I did. And when I turned around, He was right there waiting on me.

He loves us; He never lies to us. We just need to believe in His love. And He will never lead us to wrong thinking. Capture any thought that does not reflect His truth and dismiss it as a lie from our enemy.

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. Romans 12:2

Fence Posts

I don’t like this political season we’re in. I will be glad when it’s over in a couple of weeks. I also don’t like commenting on the political agendas of either side. However, there are issues that keep coming up that one day, I will have to get off the fence and stand my ground. God tells us in scripture that He doesn’t like us to be lukewarm. He would rather us be either hot or cold (Revelation 3:15-16). He tells the church at Laodicea, “I am about to spit you out of my mouth.” Based on the Greek text, spit should be translated as vomit. Those are some pretty strong words.

I have been pretty lukewarm on several topics, understanding in a way of both sides of the issues. Does it make it right that I can sit on a fence post instead of agreeing with God? God has some pretty strong words when it comes to some of the political topics we’re fighting over. And the country is pretty divided right now on those topics. We are a divided nation. Race used to divide us and maybe in some cases still does. God doesn’t care about race, color of the skin, or anything on the outside. He looks at the heart. He also cares about sin. We don’t talk about sin anymore. We have justified our sins now. We’ve allowed many sins to infiltrate our morals without giving them a second thought. God’s book is pretty clear what happens to those who do not repent of their sins.

Jesus said in Mark 3:24 “If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand.” Jesus also said in Luke 12:51 “Do you think I came to bring peace on earth? No, I tell you, but division.” It’s not about how we feel about the Bible. It is the truth of God, and it will stand on its own merit. It is meant to divide. It is the sword of truth. Since I am a follower of Christ, I am to believe what I read. I have to quit setting on the fence. At some point, I have to stand by God’s Word or I will have to deny I know Him.

It’s tough to stand up alone. Peter couldn’t do it. But God wants His people to remember who He is. The Sovereign King, the Holy One, the Lord God Almighty. It’s time to take a stand for what is right in His sight and not in man’s even if that means I lose family, friends or respect from the community. I cannot deny my Savior any longer. He has done too much for me. I am forgiven, and I live because of Him.

For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Hebrews 4:12

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