For it is not those who hear the law who are righteous in God’s sight, but it is those who obey the law who will be declared righteous. (Romans 2:13 NIV)
God's word says that "no one lights a lamp and puts it under a bed or a table" (Luke 8:16). I see a lot of supposed Christians walking around with tables over their heads indistinguishable from non-believers.
Does this all sound very disturbing, maybe even judgmental? It should be. I guarantee it is disturbing to the Lord. To believe he actually was punished to the maximum for all of these behaviors…as if he was the one who committed them. God punished Jesus for all of these non-righteous acts of us self-righteous people. Don't let him take your punishment in vain. Be grateful to him for it. Repent of those things that you have done. Ask him to help you to avoid doing them in the future. He is faithful. He will forgive you and separate them from you as far as east is from west (Psalm 103:12). Then...become "salt and light" within your world.
Yet it was our weaknesses he carried; it was our sorrows that weighed him down. And we thought his troubles were a punishment from God, a punishment for his own sins! But he was pierced for our rebellion, crushed for our sins. He was beaten so we could be whole. He was whipped so we could be healed. All of us, like sheep, have strayed away. We have left God’s paths to follow our own. Yet the Lord laid on him the sins of us all. (Isaiah 53:4-6 NLT)
The scripture above refers to an Old Testament directive of God to the Jews (His people) to destroy those nations and the people of those nations around them who God knew would never worship and serve Him. He is God. He knows who will or won't ever worship Him.
If you haven't yet turned to God in worship. Do it today. Don't delay. Don't harden your heart because perhaps He might seem intolerant. He is actually VERY tolerant to those who love Him. He is very tolerant to those who don't fully know Him yet. He asked His Son our savior Jesus Christ to die in our place so that we can live forever with Him. Would you ask your child to suffer in the place of someone else even when you knew that person would never appreciate it or be grateful? Jesus died for the sins of every person who will end up in hell. They just would have refused to accept His offer of Heaven.
That is the God who created you. He is worthy of your worship. Don't harden your heart. Turn to Him today.
Scripture: It is written: “I believed; therefore I have spoken.” Since we have that same spirit of faith, we also believe and therefore speak... (2 Corinthians 4:13 NIV)
I was communicating recently with someone who represented themselves as a Christian, but who stated they were very "uncomfortable" with sharing their faith publicly. This is a very common mindset but one that does not line up with anything that I have found in biblical scripture. I include the scripture above as an encouragement to those who may be feeling this way.
The world and Satan the "unseen" god of this world (2 Corinthians 4:4) want nothing more than for people to "keep their religion private".
If you are a Christian, don't fall or remain in this trap.
Read all of 2 Corinthians Chapter 4 for encouragement!
This is generally the dream of the millions of people who buy lottery tickets each week. The chance to instantly become millionaires with all the ‘benefits’ that it supposedly brings. To be certain, there are many who don’t play the lottery “religiously” (a curiously common term used here purposefully), but who can’t resist the lure of the big jackpot. Most of these probably invest a relatively small sum, proportion to their income (say less than $20), for the chance at millions. Others however are probably a lot more liberal in their pursuit investing hundreds or thousands of dollars each year.
As a Christian, how do you feel about all this? Do you participate? Perhaps in the office pool at work or with the ‘spare’ dollar in your pocket or purse as you buy your cup of coffee? Have you ever wondered what God thinks about this? Would you want to know?
There are many who say that there is no clear directive in the Bible against gambling. Sure, there is scripture about much that surrounds the mentality that accompanies gambling such as greed: Then he (Jesus) said to them, "Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions." (Luke 12:15 NIV parenthesis mine). I dare say however that the lure of wealth and material gain is so ingrained in our culture (an idol perhaps), that Jesus’ words are probably not enough to dissuade the average American Christian from resisting the lure of the Powerball’s millions.
As you ponder all this, here is some scripture for thought for the next time the Powerball is once again above $100 million, and you just happen to have 4 quarters staring at you from the center console of your car or jingling around in your purse: What will I, the LORD, do if any of you reject me and my holy mountain? What will happen to you for offering food and wine to the gods you call "Good Luck" and "Fate"? Your luck will end! I will see to it that you are slaughtered with swords. You refused to answer when I called out; you paid no attention to my instructions. Instead, you did what I hated, knowing it was wrong. (Isaiah 65:11-12 CEV)
- People who are hostile to God
- People who are ambivalent to God
- People who love God
For those of us Christians who are bewildered at the result of the US elections, keep in mind the following scripture which I believe is very applicable to the United States at this time: "...mene, mene, tekel, parsin..." which is translated by the prophet Daniel as "weighed, weighed, wanting, divided" (Daniel 5:25-26)
This was a warning to the nation of Babylon on the eve of their destruction.
As for us Christians, here has always been God's warning to all of us:
"...if my people , who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways then I will hear from heaven, and forgive their sin and heal their land." (2 Chronicles 7:14)
Whoever's policy and morality aligns closest to Jesus' command for how we should live our lives per his direction in the Bible receives my vote. Accordingly, in this US election, I have voted for Mitt Romney.
When a person or their party cultivates an atmosphere that causes the Name of Almighty God to be booed, then that person cannot receive my support or respect.
In Christ alone I live. In Christ alone I will die, and for Christ alone I will vote.
Just as people are destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many… (Hebrews 9:27-28 NIV)
My wife and I were talking about a celebrity who we learned had died recently. One of my first thoughts (as is customary) was “were they saved”? Did that person accept that Jesus died for their sins so that they could live forever in Heaven?
Look at this diagram below (taken from a previous publication by author Bruce Wilkinson). The size of the circle denotes the average life span of our present life on earth. The length of the line denotes the first .00001% of our eternal life (either in heaven or in hell).
It was with sadness that I read about the death of famed atheist Christopher Hitchens who died after a battle with cancer on Thursday December 15th. As a Christian and a very flawed one at that, my “natural” instinct was to muse about how Mr. Hitchens is now face to face with the test of his theory of atheism. However I find myself praying for him and what he actually did with his waning days than anything else.
Not many people are given an opportunity by God to basically know for some time that they are about to die before the actual moment of death. For most, death comes unexpectedly i.e. accidents, violence etc. rather than via protracted illness the latter stages of which are spent in Hospice care. According to the Bible, for those who die with minimal or little warning, a life lived apart from accepting salvation through Christ is followed in rapid fashion by death and then judgment from God on that life: …as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment (Hebrews 9:27 NIV).
Later in his life, Christopher Hitchens did not come across to me as an arrogant God-bashing atheist. Instead, he appeared to be an intellectually prideful, but thoughtful, God-bashing atheist – and that is meant as a relative compliment (as atheists go). My prayer however is that as God “sat him down” as it were, this gift of thoughtfulness when faced with the naked reality of death, unencumbered by having to keep up appearances for the unbelieving world, would have caused him to turn that intellectual capacity towards an honest evaluation of the offer presented by the gospel of Jesus Christ. Again, God does not appear to give most unsaved sinners this option. It is a loving God’s final act of mercy to one who has rejected him entirely in life. The Bible does indeed state, …the Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. (2 Peter 3:8-9 NIV) The Lord absolutely wanted Christopher Hitchens to come to repentance. I pray that he did during the quiet time afforded to him by God’s mercy. It is interesting to note that the pure and absolute truth that is the Bible follows the merciful scripture listed previously with this next one: But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. (2 Peter 3:10) The unexpected day of the Lord for virtually all human beings is death…the end of their natural life. Mr. Hitchens experienced the truth of that scripture yesterday. People may demean the Bible consistently, however this scripture is pure truth that is irrefutable. Death is appointed to all. No disbelief in God can change that reality.
This issue ultimately comes down to the question: is it better to live for Christ and find out when you die that you were wrong or to live against Christ and find out when you die that you were wrong? Is it worse to be considered a fool by man in this life or a fool by God in the next one?
It is ironic that on this day as I was contemplating the eventual outcome of Christopher Hitchens’ life, I was greeted with the following daily devotional from the Love Worth Finding Ministry in my email inbox:
Just Passing Through
BIBLE MEDITATION: “And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.” 1 John 2:17
DEVOTIONAL THOUGHT: The only thing that is going to last are the things of God. Period. The world is passing away. Our days are fleeting. One day we will all be gone from this earth as we know it. You see, we’re not citizens of earth trying to get to heaven. We are citizens of heaven sojourning here on earth. This earth is not our home. Are you living for the pleasures of the flesh? Or for the joy of the Spirit? Are you living for the praise of men? Or for the glory of God? Are you living for time? Or are you living for eternity? Are you living for the things that can be seen? Or for the things that cannot be seen? One of these days, this old world and all of its vaulted culture, proud philosophies, egocentric intellectualism, and godless materialism is going to be forgotten. But he that “doeth the will of God abideth for ever.”
ACTION POINT: Take stock: What are you really living for?
The Lord says: “These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is based on merely human rules they have been taught. (Isaiah 29:13 NIV)
This scripture from the "ancient" book of Isaiah was written at that time about "God's people" - the Jews. Though they professed love and obedience to God, this scripture clearly says otherwise! Oh they obviously went through with the outward appearance of religion. "…honor me with their lips", but the Lord knows who are his (2 Timothy 2:19 NIV).
Before us religious people of today read this and shake our heads at those hypocritical Jews of yesteryear, we should pause and examine our own behavior. It is not uncommon for Protestants (a label that likely would be applied to me) to turn up our noses at say the Catholics or other religions whose expression of worship appear to be built largely on "merely human rules they have been taught". Perhaps we may be right. But I will submit to you that the Catholics have nothing on us Protestants in this regard. I have sat in many a "worship service" and seen the lethargy or outright disinterest that appear to beset the so-called people of God as the ritual of worship is conducted in our so-called Houses of Worship!
For all of us lost and saved sinners alike, the key part of this scripture is the phrase "…their hearts are far from me". The reason why the Lord knows those who are His is because the Lord knows our hearts. The real Houses of Worship is our hearts and bodies. The Bible says that He will put his Spirit in our hearts (2 Corinthians 1:22).
Examine your heart. When you are worshipping God, are your lips moving (or hands clapping) but your thoughts are elsewhere i.e. what's for lunch? what time's the ballgame today? back to work tomorrow! etc. Does your heart stop you from responding harshly to your neighbor when they have ticked you off? How about stopping you at the edge of lying when doing so will get you out of a jam? Worship is not just for the church service on Sunday mornings. It is a 7-day a week activity often during the routine things of our lives. Let's examine ourselves indeed.
Remember: the Lord does know who are His!
...Even now my witness is in heaven; my advocate is on high. My intercessor is my friend as my eyes pour out tears to God;on behalf of a man he pleads with God as one pleads for a friend.
Is Jesus your advocate before God or do you plan on defending yourself personally?
(Matthew 23: 24-30 NIV): Jesus told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field. But while everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away. When the wheat sprouted and formed heads, then the weeds also appeared. “The owner’s servants came to him and said, ‘Sir, didn’t you sow good seed in your field? Where then did the weeds come from?’ ‘‘An enemy did this,’ he replied. “The servants asked him, ‘Do you want us to go and pull them up?’ ‘‘No,’ he answered, ‘because while you are pulling the weeds, you may uproot the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest. At that time I will tell the harvesters: First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned; then gather the wheat and bring it into my barn.’”
(Matthew 23: 36-43 NIV): Then he left the crowd and went into the house. His disciples came to him and said, “Explain to us the parable of the weeds in the field.” He answered, “The one who sowed the good seed is the Son of Man. The field is the world, and the good seed stands for the people of the kingdom. The weeds are the people of the evil one, and the enemy who sows them is the devil. The harvest is the end of the age, and the harvesters are angels. “As the weeds are pulled up and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of the age. The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will weed out of his kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil. They will throw them into the blazing furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Whoever has ears, let them hear.
According to the Bible, every person will fall into one of the two (2) categories mentioned in the scripture above. You will either be like the wheat or the weed. There are no other alternatives. If you disagree, then you will be disagreeing with the God of the Bible. In any case, disagreement makes it no less true.
To become like the wheat in Jesus’ parable simply read and follow God's scripture below:
(Romans 10:9-11 NIV): If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved. As Scripture says, “Anyone who believes in him will never be put to shame.”