“You shall have no other gods before me.” Exodus 20:2
Many consider idolatry a harsh word. Oh those awful Israelites serving their false gods deserved God’s punishment. Well idolatry is just putting anything besides God first in your life. The worst form of idolatry in our day is the idolatry of self. What I want! People serve their appetite for things, pleasure, friends, family and money. Our world is going downhill so fast because nobody worries about anything but me, myself and I. It is not acceptable to serve God, read the Bible or pray. God doesn’t care. Well this life won’t last forever. We all die one day. Will what you had to have save you from your tomorrow. What comes after this life? What really matters?
“But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only few find it.” Matthew 7:14
There is a very small remnant of people that will actually make it to heaven. Out of the Billions of people on this planet. Only a few million will actually walk through those pearly gates where they one day dreamed of living. Who you serve in this life does matter. If you are serving yourself it better be pretty great to sustain you forever. This world is not always easy but keeping my eyes always on my goal will keep me moving. I can relax once I am where I am meant to be forever. Then there will be more pleasures than I can imagine and forever to enjoy them.
The world was once very good. God doesn’t make anything but perfection. He didn’t want evil for us but man thought they knew better. Satan is alive and well and everything evil comes from him and his team. They only want to kill and destroy. They will do anything to hurt God and his children. You see at one time the devil was a beautiful angel singing and praising God. But he became proud and wanted power. He thought he could be better than God, the one who created him. God cast him out of heaven and many angels went with him. When Jesus came to earth they thought, oh boy now he is on our turf. Let’s destroy him. When they persuaded the religious leaders to get rid of him, they thought they were winning. But Gods precious son did not put up a fight. He went willingly to his death. Oh he could have. He could have had thousands of angels attending his every need in a minute. But when he died on that cross Satan thought he had won. I’m sure there was a celebration in hell. But that was God’s master plan. Sin could not be dealt with in any other way. Because God is Holy, something innocent had to die. And the only one that was perfect was Jesus. This was their plan even though it would be horrible . Jesus followed that plan perfectly. Three days after he died God said, ‘Got ya!’ I now hold the keys to sin and death. Now all my children can come live with me forever. The end of this world is coming soon and a new world is coming. We don’t know when that will be but we can see the signs and it’s soon. Evil will one day be gone for good. If you are one of God’s true children that should excite you because there will be no more pain, suffering, death, crying or evil. If you aren’t well evil is all you have left.
“You were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.” 1 Corinthians 6:20 NIV
We are so loved. How much? Well let me try to tell you. At one time the world was formless and void. All was dark and there was nothing. God wanted something very special and we were on his mind. Someone who could love him, respect him and enjoy all he is. He began by creating things we would need and want. Every detail was thought out in advance. it had to be perfect and to be able to sustain us for thousands of years. It would fulfill so many needs. He made man as much like him as he could. Able to communicate, think, reason and understand. Not just to exist, but to really live. To leave a legacy for future generations. Everything he made was special just for us. Unique and different plants and animals. Things that we could enjoy but that we could learn about and discover gradually. He walked with the man at first enjoying his companionship, and all was as it should be. No death, no evil, and no wickedness. But we were given the will and freedom to make our own choices. Something an imperfect people will screw up in time. God told man to do only one important thing , but Satan used that one simple thing to put a wedge between us and God. The tree of life. There were tons of different trees all around, yet that wasn’t enough. We always seem to want what we shouldn’t have. Might be missing something. Well from the day that sin came into the perfect garden God had to banish man from the garden. But God did not give up on us. There would be a way for us to be together again and many years later this plan was perfected. Jesus was born on earth to a poor, young couple and began to show us what love really was. He was born for one reason and that was to redeem us. Where we could be perfect once more and he could spend eternity with us. This is how much we meant to him. Though even though we were all messed up sinners his son would come to earth and live a perfect life showing us just how to be perfect and love all. But being human he would understand all we go through, yet still not sin. Then he would willingly be arrested, ridiculed, beaten and murdered for us. Dying in our place he would sacrifice himself for all mankind. What a price. But he did it gladly just imagining that day years away when so many who had accepted this priceless gift would be together with him forever. In a place that was perfect. No pain, no tears, just joy continually.
Do you understand how much he wants you?
“This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me. In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, this cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.” 1 Corinthians 11:24-25 NIV
Communion is a very serious matter. Not to be taken lightly. Back when Moses helped to free the Israelites from the oppression in Egypt he went through so much to see God’s power. Ten times they we’re almost freed but Pharaoh hardened his heart and God showed his power. Finally he struck down the first born throughout Egypt. The Israelites were to put blood on their door posts so that the angel of the Lord would pass over their homes while destroying the first born in all homes. Passover was celebrated regularly afterwards and what they had come through was remembered. Jesus is the ultimate Passover lamb. A pure and spotless lamb who went to his death so we could be free. When we were dying in our sins and not very lovely he loved us and died in our place. Every time we take communion we need to remember what one innocent man did just so we could be saved from sin and death. Are we doing all we can to say thank you for this selfless gift? Are we doing all we can to let others know of this gift? To be a Christian is such an amazing gift, we are saying I want to be like Christ. Each day we should look in the mirror and see that we are becoming more like Jesus. So many think that they just need to say the sinners prayer, and their insurance policy is set in place. They no longer need to do anything. That may get you thru the gates but abundance of life will not be theirs. You will always struggle to get by, and to be blessed coming and going takes a sacrifice of our own. Doing what he has asked and living life his way will open so many more doors to abundance and fulfillment. His ways are good because he is good. He only wants what is best for us, but he won’t make us do anything. It doesn’t matter how good it is. We have to want it bad enough to do what God asks of us.
Is communion just a snack to you?
“Do you not know that all the runners in a race run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to win the prize.” 1 Corinthians 9:24 NIV
“Thus, since we are surrounded by such a cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” Hebrews 12:1 NIV
Are you living to your full potential? Very few people really give it their all. They care more about doing more than most or good enough compared to others. Many people will work hard to be successful. Have money or fame. That will surely make life good. Then they will be happy. Do you realize that we only have 70-90 years to enjoy this life and many don’t make it that long. If you are going all out to get rich, working long hours. What things will you let slip by you. We don’t live on earth all that long, but what about eternity? Where do you plan to spend eternity? That’s a very long time, forever, compared to just 70+ years. After I had my stroke I realized that I came very close to dying and I had wasted a lot of time. I was 45 but I was not the person I really wanted to be. I did have a husband of 25+ years, three wonderful children and a loving family, but was I a good person? Did my life matter? I started reading the Bible every day. I knew of God and I knew there was good advice in the Bible, but was I following it? I wanted to know more. I loved reading. So I started reading every religious thing I could get my hands on. I went to Savors and bought second hand books for near nothing and came home with bags of books. Time was all I had since I couldn’t do much. After seven years I made a vow to get to know God as much as I could by reading my Bible and praying, going to church and being as good as I could be. That’s about the time I published my first book, it was about my stroke. My life began changing for the better. God gave me two more books and I was making a difference in my life. I had a lot of good friends and I had eight grandkids. Life was good. Then I started a Bible group in my care home and a blog encouraging others on good biblical living. God has brought me so far and I have seen his glory more than I would ever have imagined. It is him and knowing him that has made me a good person. I could never have done it on my own. I read other books that got me excited about eating healthier, exercising and physically going for the best. Lately I’ve been watching more podcasts and sermons to help me grow and I still read all I can. I live deliberately moment by moment to win that prize. In heaven I want to be somebody. I want God to say, “Well done.”
Are you giving it your best?
“In this is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his son to be the propitiation for our sins.” John 4:10 NIV
God loved us, each and every one of us. At any given point in time that would be several billion people for many years. The God who created this wonderful planet and everything on it. He thought of each and every one of us, before even time began, and he loved each of us with a perfect love. It doesn’t matter if you ever return that love or not. He still loves you. He is the great creator and the creator of love. Propitiation means being reconciled with God. I have been redeemed and nothing can separate me from the perfect love of my father. No one or nothing can ever love us like God. No one is perfect but God. We will all fail to love perfectly because we are not perfect. When men separate themselves from God, thinking that they are better or all they need, they are missing out on the greatest life has to offer. Saying, basically, I don’t need it. The mercy and grace my father has for us, as well as the hope for eternal life, forever perfect life, is not to be missed out on. I can wake every morning with a joy that is unbelievable but it is mine through his great love for me, his daughter. I never ever want to lose that. I have listened to so many people talk about their endeavors for that perfect life without God. There is so much striving and turmoil after perfection. Happiness isn’t really an option. It’s just making sure you are better off than the next guy. Having more on your own is supposed to make you the winner. It doesn’t matter that it might never make you happy. So many people go through life this way and it is so sad. I don’t care if I have the most toys when I die. I don’t even care if I have toys. I can have nothing but the love of my Heavenly Father and a life with him forever. That’s all I want. I have learned during my time at this nursing home that our earthly bodies are failing. We can not know for sure that we will always be in the race for success. But all I need to do is keep his commandments and love him all I can and all others too. That is simple to me because he gives me all the help I need. In myself I can’t do it, but with God all things are possible. This makes me happy. When someone asks how my day is going?, I just smile and think of all I have. I may be wrong but I don’t care. It works so great for me Gods way. I have a future and a hope that will carry me through anything. When I face my final days here on earth I have an eternal faith that God is waiting for me at the end with dessert. His Glory.
“I know your deeds, they are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were ever one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm-neither hot or cold-I am about to spit you out of my mouth.” Revelation 3:15 NIV
We are saved by grace not by deeds and we can not get to heaven by being good. But, that does not mean that we should not do good deeds. The way you can tell you are a Christian is if there is bountiful fruit in your life. Fruit is: Love, Joy, Peace, Forbearance, Goodness, Kindness and Faithfulness. If those branches do not have fruit on them then God will prune them back, which can be hard. So you will produce more fruit. Am I concerned with others needs? Am I willingly thinking of others first? I don’t need to worry about my needs because God already has that covered. We don’t actually need everything we want. So demanding my way is not really important. Some people don’t like what they have so everything seems important. But I see all of the things my father gives me and dwell on that. This has made me a very happy and grateful person. It also makes me want others needs met so they can be happy too. This is why I do good deeds. Also, I want to do all God has for me. I like to think he is happy with me. I also like to think there are blessings waiting for me in heaven. I don’t think there is anything wrong in thinking that way. God is the one who offered rewards for those who advance his kingdom. I am just looking forward to that day. Many people seem to think that once you have asked God into your heart you are all set, able to live however they want from there on out. But I want more. I want all he has for me, I don’t want to miss nothing. I am also willing to go after it. Remember this is a race – and I want a prize. The race only goes to the swift. One day I long to hear, “well done good and faithful servant.”
How well is your race going.?
“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?
“The reason why my father loves me is because I lay down my life – only to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down on my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and take it up again. This command I received from my father.” John 10:17&18 NIV
From the beginning they were there together. They knew all and had a plan to save all people and bring them back to themselves to live for eternity. What impresses me so much about this verse was that God put his son in control. Of course Jesus knew his father’s will but he also had final authority to make that decision himself. At any point he could have called for a hundred angels to come save him. So that they could not harm him. But he willingly laid down his life. He looked ahead to eternity and said, “they are worth it.” He kept that and the joy of his father in mind during everything. As he was being beaten and as he hung on the cross in great anguish we were on his mind. Family is so very important. I know as a parent my children came first, there wasn’t anything i wouldn’t do for them or their father. Well he looked at us that very same way and he knew that a perfect lamb had to be sacrificed for our sins for God to be able to be with us, his family forever. He was the only one who could do it. Not only did he go to his death willingly but he put up no objections or arguments. He forgave each and everyone who would do anything to bring about his death. As he hung there dying he saw the remorse and pain in the eyes of the criminal that hung next to him. He had done things worthy of death but he could also see his heart . He knew that he was sorry. He forgave him on the spot and promised him paradise. Even when he could have been thinking of himself he wasn’t. He was thinking of others. He knew they were all a part of God’s great plan. It was a perfect plan and each person’s actions were important to that plan. He saw the big picture. What it would mean to eternity. We see the small view. How could he do this? Why would his father want this? So much pain, hurting and suffering. But it was enough, it was brief compared to forever. I am so glad he made a way for me. A gift so precious that I will never take it for granted. I have so much respect and love for my savior. I get to know him more every day and I love him more and more.
Aren’t you glad for this gift, too?
“What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? What can anyone give in exchange for their soul?“. Matthew 16:26 NIV
What is your soul worth to you?