We Don’t Deserve Heaven

Many people believe that the way to heaven is through good works. Today I heard about a man who died unexpectedly at a young age. A friend and admirer said they knew this young man must be in heaven now because “he was a great human being and had a heart of gold”.


For their is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God

Romans 3:22b-23


Imagine a contest where people are challenged to hold their breath as long as possible and the goal was to hold your breath for 100 years! This is completely impossible. Nobody can do it. Can some hold their breath longer than others? Absolutely. Can a few individuals hold their breath for an exceptionally long time? Certainly. The record is 22 minutes and 22 seconds. But, nobody can come remotely close to 100 years.

Gods is holy, which means He is set apart and perfect. We are not. Are some of us “better” than others? Yes. The apostle Paul wrote that he was “chief among sinners”. If Paul knew me if he might grant me that title. We cannot earn our way to God or heaven. We cant be good enough.


But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

1 Corinthians 15:57


Jesus Christ was the only person who ever lived a perfect life. Then He willingly died on the cross as a sacrifice for our sins. He did what we can never do. Then He allowed us to be adopted as children of God. It is a free eternal gift for us to accept. He asks for our life in exchange for true life


He Himself bore our sins in His body on the tree, that we might die to sin and life to righteousness. 

1 Peter 3:24


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It’s in Plain Sight

eye

The apostle Paul wrote to the church in Rome that, “…what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them“. The world we live in, the people we love, the many good things in our lives are all evidences of God’s grace.

It is easy for us to recognize the beauty in creation. How often have you watched a beautiful sunset over the horizon or admired the majesty of the mountains? Are you fortunate enough to live in a region where fall turns the leaves to brilliant bright colors? What about the purity of a freshly fallen snow?

For the animal lovers among us, who hasn’t been blessed with the friendship and loyalty of a pet? And young families never seem to tire of the zoo and wondering at the variety and personalities of all the animals, both big and small.

For parents, how much more love can one have than when they first held their newborn child? Did you not marvel at this life you had a part in creating? Your life changed from that moment on. And who doesn’t want to come to the defense of an innocent child in need? We may be skeptical when an adult is “in need”, but it is rare for us to doubt a small child that is in need.

God has given us His creation to demonstrate His amazing power and glory. However, too often instead of thanking Him and worshiping Him, we instead “exchange the truth about God for a lie and worship and serve the creature rather than the Creator” as Paul warned the Romans nearly two thousand years ago.

Let us direct our admiration and honor where it belongs; to the Creator who is blessed forever!

 

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Is there a God? Three Things to Consider.

God in Hebrew AramaicThe question of whether or not there is a god must be the most critical of all questions. The difference between yes and no leads us into vastly different lifestyles. More importantly, the difference has eternal consequences. Everyone has their answer. The question is, how have you developed your answer to this essential question?

There are certain observable things that are so unexplainable to the human mind, it should lead a logical and unbiased person to the conclusion that there must be a greater power behind it.


Size and Magnitude of the Universe

  • Our solar system, is 1.87 light years across (~11 trillion miles).
  • Our galaxy is 100,000 light years across and contains ~200 billion stars.
  • There are at least another 100 billion galaxies.
  • The known universe is 92 billion light years across.

Did all of this happen by accident? Is it sustained by chance?


The Complexity of Life

Multitudes of books have been written in the debate of evolution and intelligent design. We do not have space to adequately address these arguments, nor do I have the intellect to thoroughly discuss the topic. But, look at the beauty of nature, where many diverse forms of life exist and create a self sustaining system. Or, consider the human body and its ability to heal, adapt, and learn. Certainly we can all agree that life is a beautiful and complex thing. In our pursuit of answering our god question, we have to address this question regarding the origins of life.


Beginnings

No matter which side of the debate you are on, you have to ultimately come to the conclusion that something or someone has existed forever. Can we believe something came from nothing? Where did it all begin? How did it all begin?


For Further Reading on this topic

 

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Our Most Important Discipline

disciplineAs we begin the new year, here is a reminder for us of the critical importance of reading Gods Word on a daily basis.

 

  1. Gods Word is our source of truth (instruction manual for life)

 

2 Timothy 3:16-17

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.

 

  1. It is our source of spiritual life (your starving without it)

 

Matthew 4:4

But he answered, “It is written, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.”

 

  1. It is our guide book for life (tells us how to go)

 

Psalm 119:105

Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.

 

  1. We are to teach others about it (so we have to know it ourselves)

 

Deuteronomy 11:19

Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.

 

  1. Gods Word convicts (which we desperately need)

 

Hebrews 4:12

For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.

 

  1. DOING is vital to our effectiveness – hear then do!

 

James 1:22-25

Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do.

 

 

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A True Friend?

AccountabilityA true friend and disciple of Christ, is one who is willing to encourage and correct. For most of us, encouraging others comes easy. But, correcting, rebuking, or holding others accountable does not. This is a matter of pride. We don’t want to be seen in a bad light. We don’t want others to be angry with us. We care more about ourselves than the other.

If we truly care for someone, we will make the effort to correct them when we see the need. Wouldn’t a parent stop a toddler from sticking a fork in a light socket, even though it will result in an angry response from the child? Obviously.  The parent loves them too much to allow them hurt themselves.


2 Timothy 4:2 preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching


Too often, we see people making decisions that will lead to pain and judgment, but chose not to correct them with love and patience. The easier path is to ignore it. We tell ourselves we shouldn’t judge; its not our responsibility to say something.  But scripture tells us something different. We are not the judge; God is. But, we are messengers of His Word. We are called to reprove, rebuke, and exhort according to scripture.

My greatest friendships are those with whom I know I can count on to be faithful to this call towards me. They are faithful to scripture, to the Lord, and they have my best interest in mind. It is a rare friend that will be authentic in this way.

Jesus once rebuked Peter and called him Satan! He loved Peter dearly and was willing to correct him.

I want to be rare and authentic for the glory of God –  don’t you?

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Christians and Homosexuals

Sola Scriptura

It has occurred to me that the notion of Christians hating homosexuals seems to be far too prevalent. Both the news media and social media tend to feed this lie.

I hope to clarify what scripture says and how this should be acted out by Christians.

Its important to understand that Christians rely on the Bible (scripture), for their source of truth. Everyone has a world view. Scripture defines the worldview of the Christian (or should).

Scripture is clear in its condemnation of homosexual behavior. Both the old and new testament call it a sin. In 1 Corinthians it is listed with other sins, such as heterosexual sin, adultery, stealing, drunkenness, and cheating. Homosexual sin does not have a special status. It is sin like all the others. (Sin is anything that goes against Gods law).

Do Christians sin? Yes. So, what’s the difference between a sinning Christian and other sinners?

  1. Christians believe in who Jesus Christ is and what He did. Due to this belief, they have been made righteous in Gods sight (an incredible miracle).
    • 1 Peter 3:18 “For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive in the Spirit.”
  2. Christians acknowledge their sin. This is confessing or agreeing with God. And God forgives us of these sins.
    • 1 John 1:9 “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”

Christians still sin. I sin everyday. The apostle Paul said he was the CHIEF of sinners! But I hate my sin. And I am sinning less than I used to. I will never stop sinning; I will sin less with time as God works in my life.

A person who is not a Christian has never believed in what Christ did and who He was. And they do not use scripture as their standard. They have their own “worldview” to decide what is right and wrong.

So what should a Christians response be to people who are not Christians? As with most social issues, it is the tone of the conversation that inflame the arguments and make so-called Christians appear hateful. Hate is not (and should never be) the motivation for speaking out. It is my hope that when Christians speak out on this issue that they will do it with grace and kindness, but still set forth God’s truth without apology

  1. We are to speak the truth in love. When the topic of sin and God comes up, its our job to tell people what scripture says and do it in a loving way. That’s it.
    • Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. Ephesians 4:15
  2. We are to do our best to live peacefully with everyone and to live a life of obedience to Gods Word. “
    • Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord. Hebrews 12:14

For those reading this who are not Christians and have known me, I hope and pray I have lived out these directives; to speak the truth in love, to live at peace with others as much as possible, and to walk in obedience to scripture.

I view those who live a homosexual lifestyle the same as others who do not embrace scripture and the Christian faith. I do not accept or embrace their lifestyle and they do not accept or embrace mine. Hate needs not be a part of the equation. It is my calling and privilege to walk in a way that honors God and that never includes hating people. I hate sin – most especially my own. I don’t hate people.

In closing, here is what the Savior Jesus Christ said in Matthew 5:43-46…

You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that?

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The Daniel Pattern at Work (Part I)

PatternYour job is an opportunity to show Christ to the world. It is a calling.

The first two chapters of the book of Daniel give us a solid pattern to follow in our professional life. We see this young man who was forced into an environment very different from what he was used to (remind you of your workplace?). But he made choices that honored God and he was ultimately rewarded for it.

Daniel 1:8 “But Daniel resolved that he would not defile himself…”

  • Daniel made up his mind ahead of time to do the right thing. It is far easier for us to make a commitment to do the right thing, ahead of time instead of in the heat of the moment. Better yet, make a public commitment to one or multiple people, to help hold yourself accountable.

Daniel 1:17 “God gave them (Daniel and his fellow abductees) learning and skill in all literature and wisdom…”

  • Scripture is clear that when we ask for wisdom, He will grant it. Our desire should be to do excellent work. We should ask God to help us to be great at what we do, so that He will be honored. A strong work ethic and excellent skills, are the foundation to a credible testimony in the work place.

Daniel 2:14 “Then Daniel replied with prudence and discretion…”

  • This is how Daniel responded as he was sought out to be killed. For something he didn’t do! I struggle to respond with prudence and discretion when people slightly annoy me. Daniel was a wise and mature young man who was obviously under the control of the Holy Spirit.

Resolve ahead of time to do what is right

Be great at what you do

Respond to others with forethought and caution


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