“Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophecy in your name and in your name cast out demons and in your name perform many miracles? Then I will tell them plainly’I never knew you. Away from me you evildoers.” Matthew 7:22-23 NIV
“For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it.” Matthew 7:13 NIV
This world is a terrible place right now. It is easy to see we are in the end times. I hurt that so many people are lost and hurting. But we have been warned. It is not easy to get into heaven. It takes strength and commitment. People think you must be weak to choose Christianity. But I’ll tell you it is much easier to follow the crowd do just what feels good. It may be easier, but not better by far. If you are a Christian people will look down on you and treat you differently. Doing the right thing is not popular. Being a true Christian makes you unique and different. Standing out in a crowd. To be a true Christian you need to follow God’s commands. This is how we show him we love him. He is first in our lives before everything else. Now he has shown us how much he loves us and continues to show us each and every day. He does want the very best for us that is why his commands are there. I can see a lot of violence and hatred in the world. I get that those things won’t end up in heaven, but in the first verse it says Many who say they are Christians and who do great things in the ministry will not be going to heaven. So good deeds don’t necessarily cut it. It’s a heart thing and only God knows our hearts. People can act like a Christian and not be one. It’s not what you do but why you do it that matters. To be a Christian is to be as much like Christ as we can. He was an excellent example for us to follow. No we are not perfect, we make mistakes. But we are forgiven if we really desire to do right and make a difference. Because we are free to be a Christian in America we’ve taken it for granted. We are free to do just what we want. Making many of us selfish. It’s easy to think of numero uno first. But this is not Gods way. He has told us to put others first. Hard to follow maybe, but it’s important. Love always thinks of others first. In other countries where it isn’t free to worship God, there are so many more real Christians. They risk their lives every day that they desire to serve God, but there is a greater passion in what they do because it’s very very important to them. Here, well I’ll get around to it someday. But someday is not promised. You are betting your life in eternity each breath you take. If there is no heaven then we lose nothing, but if there is a hell you lose everything if you have not planned ahead. It’s easy to do the wrong thing, the things everyone else is doing. But remember the road to destruction is wide. It’s difficult to stay on that tiny path and many won’t complete the journey. But it is worth it.
Which road are you on?
“I the Lord search the heart and examine the mind. To reward each person according to their conduct, according to what their deeds deserve.” Jeremiah 17:10 NIV
According to how we act we will be rewarded. God wants everyone to have a good life. A life full and abundant. The world uses the word ‘karma’. Bringing on yourself inevitable results by good and bad character. We have been given a free will to do whatever we want. It’s all up to us. From an early age we are taught to be good. Even though we have a natural tendency toward sin because of the fall of Adam and Eve it is not true that we will be bad. Your parents are not the only ones who raise you. They may not of been the best examples to live by but there are other people teaching you good character traits. Teachers, sport coaches, churches and other good people in your life. They teach you how to interact with those around you and how to act as part of a team. Dealing with animals in a caring way. Skills in getting along with others. God has given us his words in the Bible that tell us clearly how to have a good life. The rewards for good behavior and what’s happens with bad behavior. They are spelled out very clearly. There are laws to keep us from doing bad things to others. If you don’t break the law you won’t pay the consequences. There are consequences for every action. Deep inside of us we all have a conscience that guides us. It wants us to do good and makes us feel bad inside when we do something bad. If we ignore it and repeat offenses it will grow hard. We can still change it if we want to but it will take God’s help, our creator, to change us. If we want to be blessed again and not always have problems we need to ask forgiveness and ask for help. He is always waiting right there to help. He is not expecting us to behave in a way that is impossible. He tells us the correct way and also offers us all the help we will need to do it. Knowing what is best for us and loving us unconditionally makes him the expert. He is also the one responsible for the outcome of our lives in his world. That is why I always look at the Bible as my owners manual for life. It will give answers for everything if you will just make it part of your life. Just like reading the owner’s manual for your new car will help you understand how it works best.
Have you read your owner’s manual lately?
“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.” Jeremiah 1:5 NIV
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you.” Jeremiah 29:11 NIV
Everyone is very special to God. We were all made in his image. That is why we can all live our lives to the fullest. He knew us before we were ever born. He sees the big picture. He is looking through a wide lens. Everything that can make us the best we can be is all mapped out. We have a very important purpose. God knows before anything happens just what will work best. It would work perfectly if we did everything right. Problem is that we are not perfect. We are all given free will to do what we want. Life is a learning process that lasts till our very last breath. The people we are around as we grow. The time we were born. Where we were born and grew up. Our choices that we make. All these things make us who we are. For every action God has a consequence for us. Good behaviors bring blessings. Bad behaviors bring more challenges and trials. God is not surprised by any of our choices. Good or bad he sees them coming and adjusts our life with love and care. Making our lives work out for our best. He is not just concerned about us, but everyone. Our choices do impact everyone around us. Take a family for example. I have one sister and two brothers. I was the first born to my parents. They were good Christians and my grandfather was a Baptist minister. All these things made me who I was and our relationships made a difference to all our lives. Slowly I was becoming who he made me to be. Trials come to teach us. Just as we go through school from kindergarten thru high school. These trials are meant to help us grow. They come with tests we need to pass to get us to the next level. Some move quickly and some take more time. Don’t think you are ever too far gone or your troubles are too much. God will always let us have a do-over. We just need to come to him and say I’m sorry. I really have screwed up. Help! He molds us and makes us just right. We can trust that God knows just what he’s doing. He’s been doing it for years and years. He can keep our life on track just like he keeps billions of lives going at once. We continue to be special because of each life we touch. It’s so easy to say “if this just happened,” or, “if I hadn’t done that.” We might see our lives as bad or good. God sees the whole picture though. He’s doing everything to make our life really count.
Are you a good example of Christ?
“A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, an evil man brings evil out of the evil things stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.” Ephesians 3:20 NIV
When I was young my mother told me if I didn’t have anything good to say I shouldn’t say anything at all. This was very wise. In the Bible it says that the fool loves to talk, but the wise has few words. I know that as I began a relationship in earnest with my God I desired to do what he wanted all the time. I always wanted to help and at times I spoke without thinking. Was it really any of my business? I felt the spirit in side prompting me to hold my words. I liked stating my opinions and what I thought should be done. I didn’t really seek out the Lords opinions and ways though. I may have wanted things more my way. Or done the way I would do it. I felt myself quieted quite often. At the same time I was seeking to know the Lord more. Reading the Bible and different studies of others on the Bible . I read Christian books, devotionals, watched on-line sermons, Christian movies and documentaries. The more time I spent with the Lord throughout the day, the more confident I felt. I believe what goes in comes out. If I spent all day playing games and watching tv, or spent time hanging around angry, complaining, selfish and self-serving people , then that’s how I would become. That is not how I wanted to be. I spent time evaluating each thing I spent time doing. The first thing I did is give away my TV. Too much value-less time spent there. I have PureFlix now so I can spend time watching television and movies. Everything I have ever watched on it I enjoy. It’s kind of like eating. Just because it tastes good does not mean it’s good for you. I’ve found that eating less sugars and starches helps me feel better and less bloated. Watching too much tv just makes me anxious and nervous. Depending on what I watch. I prefer things that bring peace and inspiration. I like feeling positive. Music can really change the way you feel. I know that listening to others talking around me can make me anxious and frustrated, but by turning on praise music or instrumentals I can relax. If my heart is anxious and frustrated I will not be at my best. So as I choose to do things to occupy my time, I choose things that edify me and others. Then I am certain to respond positively towards others.
What are you spending time putting into your heart?
“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11
As we leave 2019 behind it is a very good time to take a quick look to our past. Do we have regrets and disappointments we need to leave behind. Things we did or didn’t do. Things we don’t like about ourselves. Maybe I have been mean, negative, and angry. Have I had bad habits and behaviors that need to change. What can I do that will make life better? Sometimes we get so stuck beating ourselves up over what is already done and gone. We can’t change yesterday but today is a brand new day. We can start all over. You are never too far gone. Even when you are at the very bottom and things seem hopeless, you can look up and dream. What would make you better? Make life more fulfilling? Imagine that and what it looks like. I like what someone said the other day. Take a rubber ball and throw it as hard as you can at the ground. What happens? The harder you throw it the higher it bounces back. That’s us. When life slams you down bounce back. The harder you are slammed, the bigger your comeback can be. There is one large key. We can’t do it alone. But there is someone out there that wants to help. Will you let him? All you have to do is ask. You also need to be willing to try. Just one day at a time. I like lists so I write things down. At the end of the day what things did I do or not do. Just being able to check things off is my motivation. I take my list to God each morning. He is the one wise enough, rich enough, strong enough, and powerful enough to get it all done and he wants it more than me. He wants us to grow and be blessed. It might take work but who can not suck it up for one day. Tomorrow we can work on tomorrow. If this was your last day on earth wouldn’t you want to make it count? When you have regrets you need to take them to Jesus and ask him to forgive you. But don’t stop there. Leave them there. He has totally wiped the slate clean and it shines brightly. Don’t try to take that big black boulder back. That makes no sense. It doesn’t exist anymore. When Jesus hung on the cross the criminal next to him had many regrets. Some quite big. But he gave them all to Jesus. Jesus told him, “today you will be with me in paradise.” No chance to make any more mistakes. Just perfection and joy forever.
Do you want to accept the one who can help you?
“To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8:31 NIV
What is it to be a disciple? A person who is an adherent of the doctrines of another. To be taught and trained. That can be anyone you long to be like. A parent who teaches you how to live, a teacher who teaches knowledge, a coach who teaches athletic ability and a policeman who teaches laws. That is a very small list and so may people can impact your life causing you to want to be like them. To emulate them. But none of those people are perfect everyone has faults. We all will one day die and then no one will long to be like us anymore. Even many so called gods will die or have died. But my Jesus is alive. He lives in everyone who believes in him. If you are one of those people then you know that you have been set free and the love you feel is undeniable. You no longer live to please yourself. That no longer seems that important to you. You live to serve your savior Jesus Christ. Doing things he told us to do and things his father told us to do. Following their doctrines is now a priority. We have their spirit living in us to help us we do not do it on our own. Through thick and through thin they are there. This spirit speaks to our hearts and gives us the strength to do good deeds and be more like Jesus. The more you look like Jesus the more you long to be that way because peace comes over your life. This is a far cry from the happiness you might feel when you get what you want your way. This is a joy that is hard to explain. We all will follow something or someone in our life. I decided to follow Jesus because he gives back so much more. Some follow just because they want eternal life, life in heaven after this life is over, and that goes on forever. The fact that they were set free from sin and so much else is a great side benefit. Now all the hard stuff doesn’t seem so hard anymore and someone is with us through it all. We don’t need to please anyone but our king we know we aren’t perfect and that’s ok. Our God loves us just as much either way, nothing we do could ever keep him from loving us just as much. I know I have made mistakes and felt bad about them but I run to God and tell him I am sorry and he is glad to forgive me. I will always follow him for so many reasons.
Who are you a disciple of?
“Do not withhold discipline from a child; if you punish them with the rod, they will not die. Punish them with the rod and save them from death.” Proverbs 23:13+14 NIV
Children need discipline to teach them respect and good character. The world has tried to tell parents that discipline is bad and can break the spirit of a child. But I see a world where chaos is the norm and respect and good values are gone. With everyone doing what they want and not caring about others. It really doesn’t matter how old you are. Everyone needs guidelines and it takes everyone to be willing to help others grow in their character. We learn best by example. It doesn’t matter how old you are. I know at 45 when I had my stroke I had a difficult time adjusting to my new way of living. It has taken me fourteen years so far and I am still trying to improve my character. I like the chapter of Psalms 23 about the shepherd leading his sheep in the way they should go. Anyone who cares about people can be a shepherd. We need each other to care enough about each other to lead and encourage each other in good character. No matter how old we get there is always growing we can go through because God is not through with us till we take our last breath. When people work together they make each other better if they truly care. Children need more work, it takes a community to raise a child. They have mothers, fathers, siblings and grandparents . Aunts, uncles, cousins and friends. Teachers, coaches, ministers, and Sunday school teachers. As kids their greatest need is to be loved and accepted for who they are. They are wanting to be someone important. I guess that’s what we all really want. Older people get to a point where they don’t really need that validation anymore. At some point they accept who they are and why they are how they are. It’s very important to get to a place where you can love who you are and who you have become. Not needing to feel the acceptance of others to know that your life matters. Being there for others helps you get there. If a child is trained up and disciplined well by all those influencing their lives they won’t stray from it when they are older. Hopefully their character will be strong and they will help instill good character into others also. That is how this world should work.
Can you help to be a character builder in others?