On July 4, 1776 the Declaration of Independence was signed. It has been many years since then (Two hundred and forty-one years ago to be exact.) and since that time our country has changed drastically. Our country is more than thirteen colonies separating themselves from Great Britain. Now, it is fifty states united under one Democratic Republican government. It is estimated that in 1776 our nation was comprised of a little over three million people. Now, it estimated to be over three hundred million people living in the United States. The innovations and technologies have far surpassed those of two centuries ago. We’ve discovered so much about this world…and have learned that there is so much more that we don’t know. We have explored this world, going farther than before, even into the depths of space.Read More »
Love.Read More »
Ah…the new year has begun. How did it start for you?Read More »
God has given us the Word of God. The holy written Word of God.
2 Timothy 3:16
All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right.
You’re either for God or against God. Yes, I know, that’s a pretty bold statement. It may seem very harsh and cruel (though know that I’m not trying to be that way). But it is a true statement. It’s a very hard truth to realize, but it is still true. And that’s the stark reality of it.
Just think for a moment, there are trillions of people living in this world. Trillions. And all of them, each and everyone are for God or against God. There is no in between stage. It’s one way or another. It’s black and white. There are no grey areas. All those people must live their lives either for God or against God. Every one of them has a decision that has to be made at some point in their lifetime: Will they be for God, or will they go against Him? Everyone has to make that choice.
Why? Because we can’t be a part of both sides. It’s impossible.
God doesn’t want us to be for Him some of the time and then not at other times.
He doesn’t want us to love Him, but not live for Him. Or vice versa.
He doesn’t want our bodies to be for him, but not our hearts.
God wants our full devotion or none at all.
And that Bible makes it pretty clear.
Anyone who is not against us is for us.
Anyone who isn’t with me opposes me, and anyone who isn’t working with me is actually working against me.
Jesus makes it very clear that you’re either on one side or the other. There is no in between. You can’t be in both places at once.
God wants our devotion. Our total and undivided devotion. He doesn’t want us if we aren’t going to choose to totally be for Him. He doesn’t want a piece of us. He doesn’t want just a part of us.
That is one of the reasons why God had the tree of good and evil in the garden of Eden. It is one of the reasons that Jesus sacrificed so much for us. He died, knowing that some would choose God and some wouldn’t. He went through all of that, knowing that everyone wouldn’t come to him. Isn’t that incredible? That God still gave us the chance to choose. He wanted us to have the chance to choose. He didn’t want us follow Him like robots, just doing what we’re told. He wants to follow Him because we want to. Because we love Him. And for no other reason than that.
God has given us a choice. A choice. I don’t think any of the other religions really have a god that gives you a free choice like this. But God does. He always will.
And it’s life decision to live for God or not. Have you made that decision? Do you live for Him? Do you love Him? I hope so. If you choose to live for Him, it will change your life forever. You will never be the same.
So I was listening to a bit of Not a fan. by Kyle Idleman yesterday while driving (No. I wasn’t driving. My dad was. I have not yet learned that skill.). Well, right at the beginning Mr. Idleman made a major point that I thought I’d like to talk about. A point that I hadn’t really thought about, but it struck me at how true it was.
You see, to become Christians, we’re told to believe in Christ. Believe that Christ is who he says he is. Believe that he died on a cross. Believe that he rose again in three days.
Believe that Christ’s death paid for your sins.
I took that step of faith around six years old. Now who knows when I really believed. Not everyone knows the exact moment when they believed. I just know that at one time I didn’t and at one time I did. I was later taught the ABC method to becoming a Christian. Do you know what that is?
- A-Admit that you are a sinner.
- B-Believe that Christ died and rose again. That the Bible is absolutely true.
- C-Confess your sins to God and you will be forgiven.
That was great and all. Especially for such a young kid like me at that time. I’m not saying that any of this is bad. But those are not the only things that make us a Christian. There’s another part, one that is even bigger than believing Jesus, and that’s following Him.
Believing and following Christ go hand in hand with being a Christian.
But we separate them, because the reality is that many people who believe in Jesus (who say they’re Christians), don’t actually follow him. When really the meaning of being a Christian is not just believing, it’s following.
Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross, and follow me.
You must follow him, if you’re to be his follower, a Christian.
Now that’s hard.
It’s one thing to just believe in Christ. It takes faith; it is not that easy. But it is a lot easier than actually following Christ. Following Christ takes more sacrifice. It costs more.
And that is what turns people away. They, we, don’t want to sacrifice anything. We don’t want to do anything that costs us anything.
But that verse above says that you must give up your own way. Another version says, “you must deny yourself”. You have to give up your own desires and take on God’s desires as your own. But when you love Jesus, taking on his desires is what you want to do.
Then you must take up your cross. Your cross. Just like Jesus took up his cross and sacrificed so much for us. He sacrificed even his own life so that we might live in Heaven for eternity. Now we must take up our own crosses.
We may not want to, but if we’re to be true Christians, we need to do more than just believe in him. We need to follow him.
Every religion of some sort has a measure of faith involved. Some more so than others, but they all essentially do. Whether it’s believing that you reincarnate into something else after you die or believing if you do enough good works in this life you’ll earn your way to Heaven or believing that there are gods that control different element and forces of nature.
For Christians, it’s believing that there is only one God who rules over everything.
It’s believing that God created the world by just speaking it into existence.
It’s believing that the world was once perfect, but we brought sin into it.
It’s believing that God is three in one: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
It’s believing that God sent his son, fully God and fully man, to earth to save us from our sin.
It’s believing that his son lived a perfect, a blameless, life.
It’s believing that Jesus suffered torture then died on a cross.
Most importantly it’s believing that Jesus’s death was the ultimate sacrifice, the perfect atonement for our sins. That if we only confess them and ask for forgiveness, we will be forgiven. We will have a clean slate. It doesn’t matter what kind of sin it is, it is forgiven. To God’s eyes, sin is sin. One is not worse than another. They are all just as bad and he forgives them all.
It’s believing that against all odds he rose again on the third day.
It’s believing that he later ascended into Heaven.
To believe that takes faith. A lot of faith.
Yes, there is plenty of physical evidence that all of this happened. But even with this evidence you have to have faith. Evidence in many cases isn’t the reason that people believe. If that were true, then probably just about everyone would already be saved.
But there is more to believing in God than believing in the evidence. It takes faith. And having faith in something we can’t see, feel, hear, or smell, in something not physical is hard.
At times, we can find ourselves doubting. But we have to let go of that doubt. It will get us no closer to Jesus, but fully believing in him will.
Then Jesus told him, “You believe because you have seen me. Blessed are those who believe without seeing me.”
This doesn’t mean that those who saw Jesus and believed weren’t ever blessed, but they weren’t blessed for that reason.
Faith in Christ is like believing that there is invisible hands there to catch you as you fall from a cliff. You are submitting to Him, placing your life in the hands of someone you only believe is there. But the thing is…
Your life is already in God’s Hands. It has always been in his Hands. Taking that step of faith is just you finally opening your eyes and believing in someone who has been there since the beginning of time.
That is the difference between our faith and other people’s faith in their religion. Our faith rests in something true and real; their faith is in something nonexistent.
Last week I did a post of why you are not worthless. It’s absolutely true. But there is another way people think. Instead of thinking that we are worthless and that God should have nothing to do with us, they think that they have a right to be with God, they deserve it.
I think we think both ways, just at different moments in our lives. At one time we think that we’re so below God (How could You love sinful people like us?), at another time we think that He needs to bless us (How could You do this to me?).
Both of these opposite types of thinking come from, first and foremost, just being sinful people, but I think it is also partly due to the fact that we don’t understand God. Now, I definitely don’t believe that I can make you fully understand God. I don’t fully understand Him myself. But maybe I can try to give you a glimpse of what God is like for you to begin to comprehend Him.
Last week I discussed God’s love and His saving grace. Today, I want to speak of God’s greatness, His holiness.
He created the Heavens and the Earth in days. He could’ve have done it quicker, but he was setting an example for the way we were to live. Six days of work and one day of rest. Have you ever imagined how it went about? There was nothing. If you imagine an empty space, that’s not right, because that’s something. God spoke words, just words, and out of nothing came something. It is scientifically impossible, but with God all things are possible.
God is holy, no one else is. Holy means consecrated, sacred, separate, and/or set apart. He is perfect. This holiness was the reason He can not even look at sin. It was the reason the Israelites sacrificed unblemished lambs to pay the price for their sins. It was the reason the temple had to be built to God’s design for Him to dwell in it. It was the reason priests were struck down dead on entering the temple, if they had not been cleansed of their sins first.
Even so, at our best we are still filthy and dirty in God’s eyes.
We are all infected and impure with sin.
When we display our righteous deeds,
they are nothing but filthy rags.
Like autumn leaves, we wither and fall,
and our sins sweep us away like the wind.
His perfection is incomprehensible to us. He can not sin. Every act, every decision is good and right.
There’s are terrible, horrible things happening all around the world at every moment. We may not think about it much, but when we do…we can question God’s authority. I know I do. Why would He let these things happen? Is God committing these acts? No, it is not even in God’s nature to be able to do such a thing.
“All right, you may test him,” the Lord said to Satan. “Do whatever you want with everything he possesses, but don’t harm him physically.” So Satan left the Lord’s presence.
But He does allow bad things to happen. Look at Job. He went through some things I’m sure 99.99% of people will never go through. And though it is hard for us to understand, God allowed it to happen.
God let’s Satan do His work, but in the end, Satan will lose.
No matter what happens, God is blameless.
“My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the LORD. “And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine.
We may not understand now, I’m sure in Heaven everything will be revealed to us clearly.
Look, God is greater than we can understand.
His years cannot be counted.
God’s greatness can not be measured by any of our standards. Though we will put God in this mold (or box) that allows our finite minds to comprehend Him. But, in reality, He is infinite and incomprehensible. So let’s take away the mold, the box and see God for who He really is.
Here’s to you:
I believe that we set ourselves up for failure, a lot. We push ourselves too hard and too far to accomplish more than is possible. We want to believe that we can do it. That we can make it. That we can finish it. We want to be perfect. We expect ourselves to be. And it’s that expectation that goes against us when we fail. When we don’t finish it or make it. When we sin. That expectation turns into guilt that will have us rebuking and reprimanding ourselves. It makes us feel worthless. It fills us with need to somehow fix it.Read More »
Hey readers! I’m starting a new series of posts today. I hope that you enjoy it! Please let me know your thoughts.
Here’s to you:
You are loved.
You are loved by your parents. You are loved by your brothers and sisters (if you have any). You are loved by all your relatives. You are loved by your spouse (again, if you have one).
But more important than that is the fact that you are loved by God. The God who created the whole universe. Everything from the protons, neutrons, and electrons that make up an atom to the whole solar system!
Is it not incredible to realize that God chose to make the insects, the birds, the sea creatures, the land animals, and you? He chose to make you. Before the beginning of time God made this decision.
He never had to create you or me. God was not obligated to give us life, but He chose to. He wanted to. And that choice makes all the difference in the world. It means the difference between being expendable and unwanted to having meaning and purpose. It throws a whole new light on your existence.
1 Corinthians 13:4-7
Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.
God’s love fulfills all these classes so completely. God, as one verse stated, is love.
1 John 4:8
But anyone who does not love does not know God, for God is love.
While people’s love may change and shift, God’s love stays the same. It will not diminish. It will not fade over time. It is not dependent on how “good” you are or how much sin you have.
God loves you just the way you are. And He’ll love you the same no matter what you do. No matter how many mistakes you make or how far you drift away from Him, He still will always love you. That’s a promise.
His love will cleanse and take away all sin. Any sins that you have ever committed won’t matter anymore. They never will again. The burden that sin has placed on you will be gone.
His love was so great, that He was willing to sacrifice His only son to save us, the people He loves.
Can you imagine the kind of love God has to let His own son be beaten until He unrecognizable and then killed by the very same people He was trying to save? I can’t even begin to comprehend it. It resembles the kind of love Abraham showed when he was willing to sacrifice his son Isaac to God. And it is such a beautiful and sacrificial kind of love.
Wherever you are in your life, whatever you’re going through, know this: God loves you. Never lose faith in His love. Trust in Him. For His love is always with you.