Tuesday, December 11, 2018

THINK ABOUT IT! PHASE # 3




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 Two weeks ago, we talked about the fact that life on earth is going to end sooner or later. When this life ends, you can’t change your eternal destination, hence the need to make the decision that guarantees eternity with God in heaven.  Once this opportunity is missed, one cannot get it back, but while one still has the opportunity, this is what the Scriptures say, “Believe on the name of the Lord Jesus and you will be saved” (Acts 16:31 NLT). 

Last week, we talked about having to choose between two places e to spend eternity: Heaven or hell, with no middle place! In order to spend eternity in heaven, one would have to repent and be saved by placing faith in Jesus. Remember, being created by God doesn’t make one a child of God; sin took care of that by interrupting the God/man relationship. That relationship has to be restored for one to be able to call God, “Father.” And it’s only through repentance and faith in Jesus that that relationship is restored. Jesus stated, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me” (John 14:6 NLT).

To go to hell, one would have to ignore God’s offer for salvation—don’t repent, and live any way one would like, and one would be sure to get to hell. How sad. Why would anyone really choose to go to hell? It’s my prayer that after we compare heaven and hell, you’ll choose heaven.

Heaven is described as God’s home! The prophet Jeremiah prophesied, years before Jesus was born, “In that day, Jerusalem will be known as ‘The Throne of the Lord.’ And nations will come there to honor the Lord” (Jeremiah 3:17 NLT). When Jesus was on earth, He promised the disciples, “There is more than enough room in my Father’s home. If this were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am” (John 14:2-3 NLT).

Again, heaven is described as “Mount Zion, the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to the countless thousands of angels in a joyful gathering” (Hebrews 12:22 NLT).
What an amazing place! Heaven a real place: it is God’s home, and He is there. The wall’s foundation is made of precious stones, the gates are made of pearls, and the main street is made of transparent gold. The place is illuminated by God’s glory, and therefore has no need of the sun or moon (see Rev 21:19-23). In addition, sin will be nowhere to be found.

You might be wondering, “What are we going to be doing in heaven this whole time?” Some people actually think it’ll be boring, but it will be far from that. The Bible tells us what we’ll be doing-worshipping Him: “…the throne of God and of the Lamb will be there, and his servants will worship him. And they will see his face, and his name will be written on their foreheads … And they will reign forever and ever” (Rev 22:3-5 NLT).

One might also ask, “Who else is going to be in heaven?” Well, the Bible states clearly, “After this, I saw a vast crowd, too great to count, from every nation and tribe, and people and language, standing in front of the throne and before the Lamb [Jesus]. They were clothed in white robes and held palm branches in their hands. And they were shouting with a great roar, ‘Salvation comes from our God who sits on the throne and from the Lamb’” (Revelation 7:9-10 NLT). Are you going to be in that crowd?

At the appointed time, Jesus will come back to escort God’s children home,to heaven! God promises there’ll be no sin, pain, sorrow, crying, tears, or death in heaven (see Isaiah 25:8; Rev 21:4). What an awesome promise!

Would you like to be where God is? Well, this is your chance; don’t postpone making your decision, because if He comes, or you die, without having made that decision, it will be too late. I don’t know how anyone could want anything other than heaven. Haven’t we had enough pain and suffering here on earth? Of course we have; let’s look forward to something better! Sin has put us through the mill; this is our chance to break free. Can you imagine a place where life goes on uninterrupted and never ends, where we’re free from diseases, with no children with unheard of cancers or murders, lying, stealing, or conflicts? My name is written in the Lamb’s book of life already, and when I get there, I’ll be dressed in a white robe. How about you?

The alternative to heaven is hell, but I’ll not encourage that, because the description is very frightening! More about that next week. Please, please, I’m pleading with you; call on Jesus today. Don’t miss heaven! 




Tuesday, December 4, 2018

THINK ABOUT IT! Phase # 2



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Last week, we looked at eternity, and the fact that it has no pauses, stops, or end. While in this life though, it could be redirected. In other words, one doesn't have to continue on a path that leads to an eternity of pain and suffering. As long as one is on this side of eternity, one has the opportunity to choose a different path, leading to an eternity of joy and peace.

What options does one have for eternity, and how does one get there? one has two options from which to choose--heaven or hell, with no middle place. How does one get to either place? In order to be able to spend eternity in heaven, one has to be a child of God, not just created.  In other words, being created by God (which we all are), does not make you His child. In order to become His child, one needs to repent of sin, ask God for forgiveness and be saved through the death of Jesus Christ (see Acts 10:42-43). In order to spend eternity in hell, one has to choose to ignore the love of God through Jesus Christ.

Next week, we'll look at the difference between the two place, and why one place is better than the other.

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

THINK ABOUT IT! Phase # 1






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This life is short, and ends sooner or later. Eternity is very long, it has no pauses, stops, or end. Everybody is going to be in eternity someday. Are you ready, and where are you going to spend it? Once it starts for you, there'll be no turning back. Think about it. Jesus saves! Call on Him today., its urgent!
“Believe in the name of the Lord Jesus and you will be saved” (Acts 16:31 NLT).
“If you openly declare that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved” (Romans 10:9 NLT).

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

ETERNAL LIFE STARTS ON EARTH


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Some of the synonyms of ‘eternal’ are: without end, everlasting, endless, unending, and perpetual. Henceeternal life is life that goes on without ever coming to an end. According to Scripture, for the Christian, eternal life starts here on earth, goes through this earthly life, and continues into life after death when we see Jesus face to face. It is important to mention that, unbelievers will face eternity as well: their eternity however, will be without Christ and their existence will not be life but death-which is the second death mentioned in Revelation (see Rev 20:14-15). As sad as it sounds, their eternity will be with the devil and his angels in hell. That is the reason they need to believe in Jesus now while they have time.

It is reasonable to assume that eternal life is futuristic, after death or after we see Jesus face to face. Scripture however does not teach that. Jesus defines eternal life this way, “Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent” John 17:3 NIV).

Again, Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes Him who sent me has (not will have) eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over From death to life” (John 5:24 NIV). In reference to His sheep in John 10:28, Jesus said, “I give (not will give) them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand. Also, “I write these things
to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have (not will have) eternal life” (1 John 5:13 NIV). Do you have a personal relationship with Jesus? If yes, then your eternal life has already started; it started the minute you believed. John also says in John 3:36, “Whoever believes in the Son has (not will have) eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on him.”

Since we already have eternal life, how should we live? We need to live with gratitude, assurance, confidence, humility, excitement, and expectation. Not all of God’s promises of heaven can be realized now, because we still live in our old tents of sin. But that day is coming when we will be clothed with immortality, and we can then experience everything the Father has promised us. Until then, let us practice some of the heavenly life as much as we can in these our mortal bodies. Things
like praise and worship, joy and obedience will keep us focused on our heavenly home. Amen!

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

AT THE RED SEA




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When they started their exodus from Egypt to the Promised Land, the Israelites had no idea what they
were going to encounter on their journey. In fact Moses didn’t know initially what he was going to encounter either when God said to Him at Horeb, “. . . I am sending you to Pharaoh to bring my people the Israelites out of Egypt” (Exodus 3:7-10 NIV). They must just have assumed, “God called us; it is going to be smooth sailing.” Wrong! God called them, yes, but smooth sailing, No! He never
promised them that. It is so easy for us to assume that, being called equals to smooth sailing. They soon discovered it was going to be one challenge after another.

The first challenge was that Pharaoh refused to let them go by saying, “Who is the Lord that I should obey Him and let Israel go? I do not know the Lord and I will not let Israel go” (Exodus 5:2 NIV). Eight chapters later, the Israelites left Egypt, but more trouble was awaiting them in the
desert. One of such challenges was their experience at the Red Sea. They found themselves sandwiched between the Red Sea, in front of them, and the Egyptian army behind them. The dilemma was obvious; the Red Sea had stopped their progress, and the army behind them would attack if they couldn’t get out of their reach. The Egyptians were pressing in on them; they were nervous, they were terrified! They cried out to the Lord, and then they yelled at Moses! They said to
him, “Was it because there were no graves in Egypt . . . .It would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the desert” (Exodus 14:11-12 NIV)!

Moses, their leader did what came to him naturally, he called on God. When we are in the will of God as Moses was, it is easy to know what to do when things go wrong in the process, pray. God answered Moses’ prayer! “Tell the Israelites to move on. Raise your staff and stretch out your hand over the sea to divide the water so that the Israelites can go through the sea on dry ground" (Exodus 14:15 NIV). Moses did exactly as God commanded and asked no questions. When we ask God for directions, we need to be ready to do exactly as He commands whether or not we understand it; whether or not we agree with Him. When God directs, He does not need our input or suggestions. He expects us to obey.

To the Israelites’ surprise, the sea parted and they were able to walk on dry ground to the other side. (What a blessing to have God fearing, prayerful, obedient leaders, both in the Church and elsewhere). We need to support our leaders with our prayers, so that they will be prayerful and obedient to God. If Moses had doubted God, and not followed His directions, the outcome could
have been very different.

Are you at a Red Sea in your life? Are you unsure of what the next step should be? Then do what Moses did, pray, trust, and obey; do as God directs. God always (not sometimes) has a plan of good intentions to deliver us and to bring Him glory.

Also, let us remember that because God called or promised, does not mean the path will be easy. It will be more realistic to assume the road will be rough any time we are called to a task, than to think the other way around. Mary the mother of Jesus was called to carry and bear the Savior; what a blessing, and yet what a heartache. Abram (Abraham) was called to leave home, relocate, start a family, and be the father of many nations. What an honor, but also what trouble. As we embrace the honor of being called, let us also prayerfully embrace the uncertainties that go along with the call.

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

WITHOUT QUESTION-THE BIBLE IS THE WORD OF GOD



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The Bible is the Word of God; it will remain the Word of God no matter what arguments people raise about it. It has been tested over and over and proven to be the Word of the Eternal God. Its prophecies have been fulfilled on schedule; its promises have been honored when claimed in faith. The two favorite arguments people raise against it are: 1, the Bible was written by men, and that 2, it is self contradictory.

Jesus said, “If anyone chooses to do God’s will, he will find out whether my teaching comes from God or whether I speak on my own” (John 7:17 NIV). If you are one of those who have issues with the authenticity of the Bible, let me encourage you to try it. If believing in what the Bible says does nothing for you, you can change your mind; you have nothing to lose. But if not believing has
consequences, which it does, you have everything to lose. Also be aware that your unbelief will not excuse you from the penalty of unbelief. “Whoever believes in Him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s One and only Son” (John 3:18 NIV).

Mode of delivery

• “The gospel I preached is not something that man made up. I did not receive it from any
man, nor was I taught it; rather, I received it by revelation from Jesus Christ” (Galatians 1:11-12 NIV).
• “All Scripture is God-breathed” (2 Timothy 3:16 NIV).
• The apostle Paul introducing himself and his message said, “Paul, an apostle—sent not from men nor by man, but by Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised Him from the dead” (Galatians 1:1 NIV).

Unchangeable

• “All your righteous laws are eternal” (Psalm 119:160 NIV).
• “Your word, O Lord, is eternal; it stands firm in the heavens” (Psalm 119:89 NIV).
"All your commands are true. Long ago I learned from your statutes that you established them to last forever” (Psalm 119:151-152 NIV).

Tested and Proven

• “All your words are true” (Psalm 119:160 NIV).
• “I rejoice in following your statues as one rejoices in great riches” (Psalm119:14 NIV).
• “If your law had not been my delight, I would have perished in my affliction. I will never forget
your precepts, for by them you have preserved my life” (Psalm 119:92-93 NIV).
• “Your commands make me wiser than my enemies” (Psalm 119:98 NIV).
• “The unfolding of your words gives light; it gives understanding to the simple” (Psalm 119:130 NIV).
• All Christians can attest to the validity of the Bible, because they each have experienced the
transformation that can only come through faith in the Son of God, Jesus Christ. Check with any Christian you know for confirmation, and if you don’t know any Christian, experiment
it yourself, and you will come to the same conclusion that the Bible is the Word of God.
• “Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him” (Psalm 34:8 NIV).

Indestructible

• The Word of God is indestructible; the apostle Paul knew this first hand—“For you have heard
of my previous way of life in Judaism, how intensely I persecuted the Church of God and
tried to destroy it” (Galatians 1:13 NIV). Needless to say he became a messenger of the Word of God, and centuries later, the Church is still alive. Amen!
• In the book of the Acts, we have accounts of the Jewish Council (The highest court in the Jewish
nation in New Testament times) trying to hush the apostles, but failed. On one such occasion,
the apostles had been jailed for preaching the Word of God, but were set free by an angel to
go back out and preach (see Acts 5:17-20). When recaptured, the Council said to apostles, “We
gave you strict orders not to teach in this name, yet you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching
and are determined to make us guilty of this man’s blood” (Acts 5:28 NIV).

The Bible is really the Word of God; trying to destroy it or speak ill of it is just a waste of time and energy. Disbelieving it is like digging one’s own grave, because eternal life comes only through faith in Jesus Christ, the Son of God; ‘eternal death’ (hell) is the end-result of unbelief.

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

BRETHREN, WE HAVE ALL WE NEED TO LIVE GODLY LIVES



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Do we really need to live godly lives, and if so, why? Yes we do, because our Father has thus instructed us: “You must live as God’s obedient children. Don’t slip back into your old ways of living [before conversion] to satisfy your own desires. You didn’t know any better then. But now you must be holy in everything you do just as God who chose you is holy. For the Scriptures say, ‘You must be holy because I am holy’” (1 Peter 1:14-16 NLT, emphasis added).  

Is God holy? Yes, God is holy! He demonstrates that by His disdain for sin! Isaiah prophesied, “The Lord’s arm is not too weak to save you, nor is his ear too deaf to hear you call. It’s your sins that have cut you off from God. Because of your sins, he has turned away and will not listen anymore” (Isaiah 59:1-2 NLT). John’s experience recorded in Revelation tells us the words of the song of Moses and the Lamb as sung in heaven, “Great and marvelous are your works, O Lord God, the Almighty. Just and true are your ways, O King of the nations. Who will not fear you, Lord, and glorify your name? For you alone are holy. All nations will come and worship before you, for your righteous deeds have been revealed” (Revelation 15:3-4 NLT, emphasis added). Yes, righteousness (holiness) has been ascribed to Him alone; God is indeed holy!

God wants us to be holy, and the Scriptures remind us constantly about our charge to be holy, and we ought to take it seriously. Holiness was His plan for us before the beginning of time; amazing! No wonder He tells us His plans for us are for our welfare (see Jeremiah 29:11). Paul puts it this way: “God saved us and called us to live a holy life. He did this, not because we deserved it, but because that was his plan from before the beginning of time—to show us his grace through Christ Jesus” (2 Timothy 1:9 NLT). “We urge you in the name of the Lord Jesus to live in a way that pleases God … God’s will is for you to be holy … God has called us to live holy lives, not impure lives” (1Thessalonians 4:1, 3, 7 NLT).

God has not left us to guess what our charge is, nor to figure out the details on our own. Instead, He has shown us how! As God planned our holiness, He sent Jesus to bring about our salvation and keep us on the path of holiness: 1) “Jesus suffered and died outside the city gates to make his people holy by means of his own blood” (Hebrews 13:12 NLT). 2) “For by that one offering, he forever made perfect those who are being made holy” (Hebrews 10:14 NLT).  

Since we’ve established that our Father wants us to be holy, let’s move on to the strategy—how to be holy. The Scripture tells us, “By his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life” (2 Peter 1:3 NLT, emphasis added). He has given us His Word to instruct, correct, guide, encourage us (see 2 Timothy 3:16). This calls for diligence in reading, studying, and applying the Word to our lives. Knowing the Word and obeying it are key to maturity. Our minds are renewed as we do what the Word says. The Holy Spirit, who is our Teacher and Advocate according to the scripture, will teach us everything we need to know (see John 14:26), but of course we need to be willing to be taught. So yes, providing the Word and the Spirit is proof that God has provided all we need to live a life that pleases Him.

In addition to the Spirit teaching us, we are also charged with teaching and encouraging one another. Included in the Great Commission is the charge to teach new converts the Word of God (see Matthew 28:20).

The Psalmist has discovered this truth about God. Meditate on it; you’ll gain a new respect for the Word of God: “The instructions of the Lord are perfect, reviving the soul. The decrees of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple. The commandments of the Lord are right, bringing joy to the heart. The commands of the Lord are clear, giving insight for living. Reverence for the Lord is pure, lasting forever. The laws of the Lord are true; each one is fair … They are a warning to your servant, a great reward to those who obey them” (Psalm 19:7-9, 11 NLT). Are we obeying them?

Ask yourself, and answer honestly: are you being obedient to the Word? Obeying the Word is the only way we carry out our charge of, “Be holy because I am holy.”