Don’t legitimize….

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

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

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

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

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

 

What do you want?

I think many people are asking this question or they are being asked by those who are going to give them something for Christmas. Have you thought about it yourself? There are so many “deals” out there today because it is Cyber Monday and of course last Friday was Black Friday! I try not to participate in either one if I can help it. Go one step farther than just a gift at Christmas and think about a gift that has been provided for us all…and it doesn’t cost us anything!

Jesus came down from Heaven to be born as the Christ-child in a human body and from the very beginning, before the Earth was formed, He was chosen to be slain on a cross to pay for our sins! Blood from animals paid the price before He came, yet they were an imperfect payment because their sacrifice had to be performed each year, every year. His sacrifice was perfect, since He did not have a sin nature and didn’t sin during His life, yet He gave His life to the Father’s will so that we can come to the Father through belief in Jesus the Christ!

As Hebrews 7:27 says:  27 Unlike the other high priests, He does not need to offer daily sacrifices, first for His own sins and then for the sins of the people; He sacrificed for sin once for all when He offered up Himself.

Jesus gave His life so that we might have eternal life with Him. It is a gift which cannot be bought by us, but it had a high price. The price of the Son of God and His life, death and resurrection to purchase our pardon if we will believe in Him. This is a story which has been told through thousands of sermons over the years since His ascension to be with God, a story which many have believed in and on for their salvation.

Today it seems that we have many who have been in the church all of their lives, hearing this message, sitting in the church week after week, who have not taken the steps to finalize being a Christian! Many believe wrongly that because they have been in the church and heard the message and read the Bible that they are saved. They may even be fine upstanding members of the church, volunteering for all kinds of selfless positions and committees in the church. But…are they saved?

Are you sure?

Why do I bring this up now? Because, you and I need to be absolutely sure of our salvation! Why? Because, there are no second chances! If you left the church one Sunday morning or evening and just before you get home, you had a terrible accident which took your life. How would you feel standing before God and seeing your life and your opportunities shown before you, yet you are not saved. You didn’t act when the Spirit moved you in the revival meeting or when you felt Him touch you during a service because you thought you were OK. What a terrifying feeling it will be to hear, “Depart from Me, I never knew you.”

Your eternity lies before you, but it won’t be an eternity in Heaven. It will be one where you feel the burn of loss and the frustration and anger which can only be turned upon yourself because you thought that you already had something and you really didn’t. Nothing can change that now because your decision was made before your death.

Have you decided which direction that you want to go? Most everyone you ask on the street thinks that they have been a good person and they deserve to go to Heaven. How will you feel if your righteousness is not covered by the Blood of Jesus? Is your righteousness better than that of the Pharisees or about the same?

Think about it and consider doing something about it! If you felt the call of the Spirit and didn’t act, make sure that you do…soon!

What did you do this week?

That question could be answered many different ways, but for many people this week has been about survival. Hurricanes, earthquakes, wars, terrorism and driving to work and back home just to name a few. Yes, driving a car or truck is just as dangerous to me. Especially with people driving while eating or texting or talking on their phones, they aren’t paying as much attention to the road and the people around them as they should!

Many of us survived this week, but there were some who were in harm’s way who didn’t make it back home. What do you think they said when God asked them, “What did you do with my Son?”? Did they have an answer? Could they look into God’s face and say with pride that they didn’t know His Son? I hope that they did not. Although some may have had to answer that way because you can’t lie to God! He already knows the answer to the question.

Have you considered what you will say when Jesus knocks on your heart’s door? Will you accept His friendship and ask Him into your heart or will you tell Him to come back later? What would you do if you knew that you weren’t going to have another chance to accept Him?

Life today is complicated with all of the notifications that we get on our computers and our phones. But, is that really how you look at your life’s complications? What about the soldier who is fighting overseas? The policeman or woman who is chasing a suspect down an alley at 2 am.? The firefighter who is called along with a few other trucks to a four-alarm fire at 3 am, it is possible that at least one of these people are not going to go home after the shift or this mission. I pray that they have given their lives to Jesus, but many people think that they have all the time in the world.

They do until it’s over, then what? We see miracles in children and in babies and in the lives of every person that we meet in some form or another, yet we don’t acknowledge the Maker for them. We wake up on the days that we work or go to school but we don’t consider how much of a miracle that we are! We are created by God to fulfill a purpose that He has for us and the only way that we find out about that purpose is by giving our life and our heart to Him!

God loves each of us and He wants the best for us. Sometimes the best is our reward in Heaven, not on this Earth or in this life. We want our rewards today..right now in fact, but God doesn’t work that way. Yes, sometimes people do get their rewards in this life but have you ever noticed anyone with riches giving much to the church? A few do, but the majority give maybe a dollar to two, when they could give much more.

When you have been given much, you should give just as much. I don’t mean that you have to give all of your money to the church, but in the Bible Abraham gave ten percent of all that he had. So, if you made 500 dollars this week, give 50. If you made 150, give 15. It is not hard to do, and like David wrote “I have never seen one of God’s people begging for bread“.

God loves all of His children, which we are even if we haven’t given our hearts to Him. But, He wants us to come to Him. When you feel the Spirit at church or watching a Christian service on television, don’t turn away. Seek Him out because He is seeking you. All that you have to do is tell Him you are sorry for your sins and repent (turn away from) of those sins then ask Him to come in and clean your life up. I promise, if you meant what you said, He will do it and your name will be in the Book of Life!

Still in denial…

Many times, those of us who feel overwhelmed and depressed are in denial about the reason for the way we feel. It could be something which happened yesterday or last month, but we won’t admit it. It could be something which happened to us last year or even years ago which just comes to the surface when we hear a song or watch a TV show. There are many triggers which bring to mind things that we want to forget, things which we thought that we had dealt with but…we really haven’t.

We just pushed the memory into a corner or a closet and shut the door, hoping that it wouldn’t come out again in the near future. But…something or maybe nothing triggers that memory and all of it rushes out like a flood and we have to deal with it all over again.

I know that many times I usually have some advice about how to avoid these kinds of problems, but in this instance there is no fix or cure. Yes, giving your heart to Jesus does help because you can pray to Him and ask for His strength to get through it but the memory and the depression and pain from it won’t really go away. You will be able to bear it more gracefully and with strength that you didn’t have before but it will still come back.

That being said, Jesus is not the One responsible for bringing old hurts and memories to your recall, especially ones which cause pain and depression. Satan and his cohorts do that and they are very good at it. They have had many years of practice. The good news about this is that you don’t have to live with it alone! Jesus is there with you, if you have asked Him to come into your heart. He will never leave you!

Denial is something that all of us suffer with because we don’t think we need help with certain thing or we don’t consider an old hurt or pain from our past to be significant. But, there are days that cause the memories and feelings to rush back into your life and unless you have a lot of family who understands, you will need Jesus to get you through this.

God loves you and He never intended for us to have the issues which we have to deal with today. The rebellion, which is what happened in the Garden, is what started all of this. One act of doing something that the Father told you not to do, caused the pain and suffering and all of the cruelty in the world. Our human nature wasn’t made that way in the beginning, but by doing it in spite of the command not to, we told God that we will do it our way.

Humanity’s way has not worked out so well in the past few hundred or thousand years. We have made mistakes, big mistakes. We have caused a lot of suffering in places where we shouldn’t have been. In the name of one religion or another, we have killed and murdered people for beliefs which didn’t follow the “church” at the time. We, as in humanity, have done some horrific things in the name of religion, even the Christian religion in the Dark ages following the dictates of men who were in charge has killed and murdered people. All of this has broken the heart of God, because many times the Inquisition, the Crusades, the witch hunts and even the burning of believers who believed differently from accepted doctrine, all of this was done under the guise of serving God.

The church doesn’t want these to come to light because then our religion is no different from the one which is doing the same thing in the Middle East today! There is evidence of course, written and archived, but the thing is many of those saints who were killed for their belief will sit in judgement of those who burned them one day. Unless their killers repented and turned from those things, becoming heretics themselves, they will be judged and sentenced to the lake of fire at the White Throne judgement.

Being in denial doesn’t get rid of the problem. Just as sweeping dust under the rug doesn’t get rid of it either. Giving your life and your heart to Jesus will change your life forever and those problems which creep up on you will be easier to bear with Jesus at your side.

What do you believe?

It seems that some people believe that Earth is an entity and that “she” is Gaia, the mother of all life. Others look at nature and the world around them and see gods inhabiting everything, even themselves. Then some don’t believe in any god or gods at all and just believe that when they die, they will just be in the ground and that their life ends when they breathe their last breath on Earth.

There are many other beliefs in this world from one end of the spectrum to another. From no gods exist and neither does the devil, to at least one religion which has millions of gods. We all have our own beliefs but will those beliefs gain us entrance into Heaven or will they send us to hell? The only belief which will get you or me into heaven for eternity is belief in Jesus and in His atonement for your sins.

God has extended His grace toward us in the Person of His Son, Jesus, and the atonement which is through His blood shed for our sins, all of them. God doesn’t require you to believe in Him or His Son, except if you want to have Heaven as your eternal home. You can live your life the way that you wish and be just as happy or miserable as you want, but if you deny the love of God and the atonement given to you through Jesus then your eternity will be without Him.

You can call it hell or Hades or whatever name you wish to give it, but there will be no light, no love, no relief from any punishment that exists there. Since hell was designed as punishment for Satan and his fallen angels, he will make sure that your eternity will be no different from his.

God loves us and Jesus came as the expression of His love toward us so that our sin wouldn’t separate us from Him through eternity. God enjoyed talking and walking with Adam in the garden and He will walk with you if you will ask Him into your heart. He wants a relationship with us and that is another reason why Jesus came to be the ultimate sacrifice for our sins.

So…what do you believe? Who do you believe in? Do you believe in anyone or anything outside of yourself?

The best news that I have for you is that God knows you better than you know yourself. He is waiting for you to come to Him, knowing that you can’t do it on your own and that you need Him. Why? Because all of us need Him. To give us a purpose and a reason to be, to live, and to work in His Kingdom. There is no higher calling than to be a son or daughter of God. Consider it…then go after Him with all that you have! Why?

What have you got to lose? He owns everything because HE is the Creator! He created you for a reason and He is the only way that your reason can be found! No job can do that, no amount of money or prestige can do that, no other person can give you that fulfilling love and a feeling of being loved by God!

Why?

Are we so blind to suffering and heartache that we don’t see it? Are we that indifferent and uncaring toward those around us? What happened?

It started many years ago and we didn’t notice, or maybe we just were too busy at the time. The Vietnam war was going on, our President had been murdered, unrest was rampant all over and I was about four or five years old. My parents weren’t getting along, things were happening that I didn’t understand, and our country made a law that has had massive repercussions in the years since then.

That law had to do with using the Bible in school and also prayer in schools too. It pushed God out of our education system at a time when He was sorely needed. He is even more needed today than He was then, but the laws have become even more restrictive. Chaplains can’t use the name of Jesus in their prayers for our servicemen and women anymore, the traditional family has been broken apart and now consists of accepted relationships which are against God’s laws.

We have changed our society to the point of being so different from the nation that our forefathers envisioned until they wouldn’t recognize it today. Many of them would be arrested for the words that they used in writing our Constitution. Why?

Political correctness, we don’t want to offend anyone or at least anyone who isn’t a Christian. Most of the laws enacted today are against the values and truths which we hold dear in our churches and it will likely get worse in the future. Why? Because we have pushed God and His Truth out of education and out of most areas of public life. We can’t show nativity scenes during Christmas on the public square. Parades during this time are called holiday parades or winter parades. But, if you want to show your support for any other religion…that is fine! No problem at all.

We are becoming a country which began as a nation founded with ideals drawn from God’s Word but today we have pushed Him out and we are in rebellion against Him. Why?

Read God’s Word, in particular the books of Daniel, Isaiah, Ezekiel and Revelation. These are the prophecy books that most people try to avoid, but the time that all of them refer to is now or at least it is beginning to be. We hear about or witness things which defy a real explanation other than “you don’t believe the way I do” or something similar.

Life matters…

There have been many protests concerning certain lives matter, whether they are Black, African-American, or even White. Come on, God created Life! Your life, my life, and every person who has ever lived on this world, all of our lives matter to Him! The color of your skin or your ethnic origin is irrelevant to God. Slave or freeman, Muslim or Protestant or any religion in the spectrum, God loves you! So, yes, life matters to God…every life!

We, humanity, have put limits and regulations and stipulations on which lives matter and which ones do not matter, at least to us. Why should we compare and claim that my life or your life matters more than any other? A baby being aborted at a clinic could possibly be the person who finds a cure for cancer, but if they aren’t born and allowed to grow toward that potential we will never know. Someone being killed in Turkey or Iran or Syria might also be important to the peace cause in the future, but we will never know for sure.

Lives matter every day, not just today but every day in our country. So many are hurting this morning because of the actions of one person or a few people who are targeting people for the color of their skin. It is heart-wrenching to see this happening in our country when racism should have become a thing of the past. Yet, every time it seems that we have a handle on it, someone from one ethnic group or another will blow a hole in it and begin the process all over again.

I don’t write this in the sense that I am some perfect Christian because there was only One perfect man ever on Earth and He is Jesus. My ideas are that we should get along, but in the society that we have today, in America and around the world, it is not possible. Humanity hasn’t evolved to the point of getting past old hatred and wounds from decades past. We just don’t seem to be able to let it go. Every time healing begins, someone pulls the bandage off and starts it over again. This needs to stop but without prayer and cooperation between those with different tones of skin color, it won’t get a foothold or gain any traction.

God loves us and we were told by our Savior to love one another, but it seems that we haven’t truly figured out what that means yet. We don’t understand the meaning of the word because we have watered it down and changed the meaning of the word “love” so much until it really doesn’t convey the same emotion that Jesus was telling us to express toward each other.

Seek out the Lord in your life and follow Him. Why do I say this? Because if you follow the Author of Life, you will be more alive than you ever have been. You will also learn to be more loving and if you love others as Jesus loves you, then you will not be like those who are causing all of the division and hatred in our world today. Jesus came to bring eternal life to all of us, all we have to do is accept it by faith and ask His forgiveness. Being a Christian is not something which can be forced upon someone, just like you cannot force someone to love you, but if you have felt that you need Him at all, then all you have to do is ask Him to come in and cleanse your heart and to accept you as His child.

Fear, anxiety and depression

These are the “monsters” which young people today have to deal with. But, they aren’t alone. You aren’t alone because many of us older folk also suffer with these same demons, monsters, feelings, whatever you want to call them! We may “deal” with them in different ways from how you handle them, but we do handle them. But, sometimes they are victorious against us too.

I am coming to you as one who has battled with depression and anxiety. I have had feelings which drove me to seek to end my life, but I sought out Jesus and my faith in Him! Even though my “demons” tried to tell me that I wasn’t worthy of His love, I wasn’t good enough to be His child. They would tell me in dreams and in what I call “mind voices” that I should just stop trying to be something that I am not. Give up trying to bring a revival to this community and accept that they don’t want one!

Last summer, I was going through this and I found that by reading the Psalms and praying about my depression every day I was able to find a little more strength every day. Just enough to get me through that day, then do it again tomorrow and the next day until I came out of that “funk” and felt that I was able to raise my head up without feeling that it was just too much to do!

God hasn’t given up on you and you shouldn’t listen to those words which Satan is putting in your mind and your heart! They are lies from Satan and that is all that they are! God LOVES you dearly and compassionately! He hasn’t given up on you and you should not give up on this life that He gave you to live!! Why do I say this? Because it is true and because He does have a purpose for you and your life! I don’t know what your purpose is, but I’d bet that it is something that we haven’t thought of yet!

He made you special for one purpose and that was to be a witness to others who have been or will be in this position tomorrow or maybe a few weeks or months down the road. The fact is that you are the only person who can help someone else in this condition or having these problems! That is your calling!

You may be a singer or a dancer or a basketball player, but to God you are His ambassador to those people who are feeling the same fears and problems that you had until you decided to cling to the only Physician who can help and that is Jesus! Seek Him out in your hurt and your fears and anxiety because He was rejected by all of His countrymen, I think that He could understand your pain. The only ones who didn’t reject Him were His disciples and they numbered only 11 after He was risen.

He can give you the strength that you need to get through the rest of today and tomorrow and the next day…if you will let Him come in and share your life and your heart. You will be a new creation and old ways will pass away because you are changed.

So much, yet so little…

We have much to be thankful for in this life and in America. Those things are not because of who sits in the White House, but because of the One you serve in your house and your life. God gives each of us a measure of faith, some have mustard seed size faith and some have mountain-moving faith. Jesus said to His disciples that even if your faith is as a mustard seed, if you believe and do not doubt, you can say to this mountain or tree “Be thou removed and cast into the sea” and it would be done!

We have a doubt problem though, just as Thomas did when they told him that Jesus had been raised from the grave. Belief is not our problem, seeking God in our daily lives is not our problem, but when it comes to asking Him for something which we need, not want, in our lives. We ask but then Satan throws that doubt dart into our minds and we walk away thinking that God isn’t going to answer our prayer.

God loves us and He will do many things in your life and mine, if it is His will for us and if we can conquer that doubt that creeps in almost every time we pray about something. Seek His will through prayer and study of His Word, learn about His ways and His will for your life. Then the doubt will fade and your prayers will be more effective and powerful, not only in your life but in the lives of those that you pray for too.

Some people seem to think that we are not blessed, but your blessing came with waking up this morning. Nothing that you do is because of just your strength and power. Your grades in school are because of the intellect that God gave you. Your stamina in sports and other areas of your life is due to His power and His design of your body for those things. If God weren’t in control of the universe, down to the smallest particle, we wouldn’t exist!

We have been given much more than we deserve, yet we don’t acknowledge the One Who gave it to us for being the provider of it! We live in a time which is coming to the end of what is called “the church age” and there are many prophetic changes which are happening every day. Keep your eyes open, read the Bible, specifically Matthew 24 and pray for God to protect those that you love. He is coming back and it won’t be much longer, then all of those who have doubts about Him will have their unbelief proven to be false because He will be seen by all!

Amen.

Loss and living

We look at life as a journey many times. It has been compared to a road or a trail or just a long walk. When you have walked that road with someone for a long time and then they detour into eternity, leaving you here, that trail becomes lonely and not very inviting at all. As the song says, “you will never walk alone”, which is referring to having a relationship with Jesus. He will always walk with you, even into eternity.

The problem that we have with our walk through life is that our partner, spouse, friend, lover is here physically with us. We can touch them, talk to them, feel their embrace and just know that they are there. Walking with Jesus takes faith. Walking with Him daily takes more faith because you have to acknowledge Him for waking you today and giving you the ability to go on, even if your spouse or significant other isn’t there. This is something that He will do for you, but you have to depend on Him for it.

Don’t give up on life just because someone who you love isn’t there. Don’t quit because you feel as if your life is over, even if you feel like quitting. Those feelings are trying to make you give up and they come from Satan and his followers! Don’t let them tell you how to live or how to stop living! Your life is full, abundant and free in Jesus! Claim it, follow Him, read the Psalms which are mostly about Jesus anyway, His Word will give you the strength and the purpose to carry on when you don’t feel like it at all!

If your partner was a Christian, you will see them again. Eternity is a long, long time and when we enter into it we will find people that we never even knew in this life. But, they know us because they are part of our family even if we didn’t meet them. God loves us all, so the only thing that we should do is return that love by living our life for Him until we are called home.