“Just as people are destined to die once, and after that to face judgement, so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.” Hebrews 9:27-28 NIV
In this life there is only one absolute. And that is that 100% of us will die. Nobody gets out alive. Well maybe a few did, but that was thousands of years ago, but we all die. Since sin came into the world our bodies are slowly decaying away. And though many will die of an accident or an act of violence we all need to be ready. Some people assume that because they are young that they have plenty of time. Well I thought that but an unexpected severe stroke stopped my busy life at forty-five. It almost took my life. Frankly I was far from ready to die but our days are numbered. God is the only one who knows the exact number of days we have. From the day we are conceived it is planned. Even how we will die. It should be comforting to know that nobody dies by mistake. If you are meant to die, you will die. Now someone may do something mistakenly that causes your death but God knew that and allowed that. Just as a poor baby can be murdered in the womb, God knew that it would die at that time. We all have a purpose even if someone is only some forty some months old like my grandson. When you die we will all, everyone, face judgement for the life we lived. Many do not want to think about that and others say we just go to sleep and never wake up, and that’s not true , and I’m glad I know in advance. I know because Christ has come into my heart and I have the peace and assurance to all who trust in him that he is coming again with salvation for all those who follow him. But that is a small group of people who are truly ready. Once you are dead it’s too late. You have made a decision whether you know it or not. And you might not like where you end up forever. Christ came to this earth already two thousand years ago. He came as a poor little baby into a struggling young family. He would only live thirty some years and he was rejected by many, he would be arrested for something he did not do, and would be sacrificed on a cross for you and me. He did not try to defend himself, but humbly died so we wouldn’t have to. He is returning again for his followers one day soon. What a triumphant day that will be.
Are you one of those followers?
“The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it.” Jeremiah 17:9 NIV
I’ve heard it said many times, “just follow your heart.” Is that really good advice? The heart can be wrong. Remember we are fallen, sinful people. Our hearts are only as good as the stuff we put in them. Out of the heart the mouth speaks and it’s not all good. Maybe you were raised by an abusive alcoholic and knew hate. Or you have been belittled as a child and bullied. To the point that you hate yourself and don’t feel love or that you could ever love. Maybe you are tormented by thoughts of suicide. No hope and tired of hurting. No we can not understand everyone’s heart because we haven’t walked a mile in their shoes. But God can. He knows everyone and everything they’ve done and been through. He still loves them very much. They matter to him and he doesn’t want to see them hurting . If we seek to do the will of God he can and will show us how to help. The most important thing I have learned from the church I go to is to help people, especially the marginalized. Find a need and fill it. In doing that you are doing what Christ would do if he was here on earth. We are his hands and feet. He knows who needs help and he will show that to someone who cares. People need so many things. Food, a safe and warm bed, clothes for their family, a friend, sometimes it’s more complicated if the are addicted or homeless. But there are always ways to help them. Jesus is in the business of meeting needs. He wants us to be the same way. He also wants us to fuel our hearts with all good things to help us have good hearts. Things like praying, reading the Bible, and other positive and uplifting things like singing praises and listening to good music. Or watching good movies and programs. If the stuff getting into our hearts is good and wholesome, our hearts will be also. Have a desire to love others. Be deliberate in what you do and say. You can make a big difference in the world around you. You can make an impact.
What can you do or say to help?
“Am I now trying to win approval of human beings, or of God? If am I trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.” Galatians 1:10 NIV
Motives. Motive is very important to God. He does not look at outward appearances but only to our hearts. So is that not the most important. In this busy world we live in we are trying so hard to be happy, but we also want to make others happy with us. No one wants others not to like us. We do things to please different people. But what is truly important? What are we called to do? Let’s look at Jesus because he is our perfect example, and who we should strive to be like every day. When he was alive here on earth he helped us see physically what God was like. He told us the most important thing was to love God with our whole being. Also we should love others, All others better than ourselves. Two of the greatest commandments. Now Jesus spent a lot of time in prayer and telling us God’s ways. So we know prayer and reading the Bible are important for a good relationship with God. He did everything out of love and compassion for others, but not everyone accepted him and loved him back. The religious leaders did not like him. If Jesus, a perfect man, could not please everyone all the time then how can we? All we can try to do is to please God, first and foremost. And love everyone. Some people like friends and family are easy to love but not everyone. Maybe they are poor, homeless, or handicapped, of different nationalities or rich and famous. They are still part of the all people group and God will help us to love and respect them, because he loves them. They are important to him. We should not be people pleaser’s but God pleaser’s. If we please he then we will also be pleasing to others. We can’t please everyone so don’t try. I am performing for an audience of one, God. Doing that helps others and myself. Doing things for myself helps with my attitude. Getting plenty of rest, eating right and doing nice things for myself helps me to be all that I can be for God.
Who are you trying to please?
“You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you might go and bear fruit – fruit that will last- and so that whatever you ask in my name the father will give you. This is my command: Love each other.” John 15:16 NIV
God made this world to have people who would love him. People he could have a relationship with. He chooses us. If he does not choose you, you will never believe in him. He does not choose everyone. Some people will reject him no matter what he does. They are spiritually blind and God has not opened their eyes. We are a messed up people. Without him we can do no good thing. We are cursed with an awful sin nature from birth. We will all sin and think more of ourselves than anyone else. But some of us he believes in. I was born into a wonderful Christian family and my grandfather was a Baptist minister. It was a church going family. From the time I was born I was in church. It was part of my life. I accepted Christ into my heart when my kindergarten teacher approached me one day. It was during recess that I said the sinners prayer. I will never forget that day. Some people don’t hear about the Lord till later on in life. He calls us to himself to be his children. He wants us to bear fruit. The fruit that he speaks of is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, meekness, temperance and faith. These are characteristics that he shows and he wants us to grow and share these characteristics with others and help them to learn of his love for everyone. He wants us to have faith. He tells us to come to him in the name of his son, Jesus, and ask anything and it will be done for us. He wants to do so much for us. He wants to give us the best life we could ever have. But he wants us to love him and follow his commandments. To love others. Not just anyone can do that. He knows that. Even though he will help, not everyone will do that. Many will follow the world and its ways. To be just like everyone else. I don’t want to be like everyone else. I want to be different. I want to be promised forever with him when I die. I will not feel guilty that I was chosen. I will never take that for granted either. I will, however, continue to pray for others that their eyes will be opened too. He has said that everyone may come to him.
You are welcome but will you come?
“But from everlasting to everlasting the Lord’s love is with those who fear him, and his righteousness with their children’s children- with those who keep his covenant and remember to obey his precepts.” Psalms 103:17&18 NIV
What a wonderful promise. Let’s break this down so we can understand better just what he is saying. He has always shown love to his children. But he says those who fear him. Does that make sense? We don’t actually fear him. We need to greatly respect and revere him and all that he is. He is to be looked up to for his might and awesome power. When we humbly fear him he will look out for us and our children. As a parent he understands how we want the very best for our children. We want them to be healthy, wise, and happy with the life God has given them. But read on and you will see an if. We have to do our part. This does not come by doing nothing. If we do something he will in turn do something. He has asked us to keep his covenant and obey his precepts. This is not much to expect from us for all he does for us. There are so many things he does for us just because he loves us. We need to love him in the same way. It is not hard and he offers to help us so no excuses. Let’s say if you write me a story I will pay you $20. Well that sounds great but what will you write about? You get no help it’s all up to you. That might not be so easy after all. But God always offers us help. He has said come to me and ask for wisdom. He will give it to everyone. If you just ask it’s yours. Then you need to take him up on his offer and ask. It’s so easy if you just seek him first. Along with his love he offers so much. Good will come to you. Bad health problems will stay away from you. You will be the head and not the tail. You will be strong. You will be wise. You will find favor among men. Your prayers will be answered. No negative things will come against you. Not emotionally, not mentally, not physically or spiritually. No negative thoughts will come against you. Past hurts and problems will cease. You are surrounded by miracles. You will have power you never knew before. I don’t know about you but this sounds too good to be true, but it’s not. Talk to him, worship him, hang out with like-minded people, and read his words. That gives you wisdom.
Don’t you want to be loved so lavishly?
The Holy Spirit is the most understood part of the trinity but by the spirit we as followers of Christ receive the most power. Not just in our spirit but in every area of our lives. Everything that God wants for us is possible and the Holy Spirit helps. Let me explain. When Jesus was here on earth he was perfect. His life was to be admired and emulated. He explained to everyone that he had come to do the will of his father first and foremost. Whatever the Lord had for him he would do it. He spent many hours in prayer with his father for strength and wisdom. He was God made human and gave us a awesome example to follow. If he was perfect and we are just lost sinners don’t we need to do the same? After he was resurrected from the grave and before he ascended into heaven to his rightful place on the throne to reign forever, he told his selected few, the disciples, to wait for the power to come, which was the Holy Spirit. Waiting on the Lord is an important part of our power. After they had been locked into a room, out of fear, and had been praising, singing and praying the spirit came in power. The spirit came upon then in power and the began speaking in tongues as the spirit gave them utterance. When were born again into this family of God his spirit came to live with each of us forever. We have been adopted by God. Chosen. We are no longer alone in this hard, lonely, and corrupt world. We have an advocate that is with us to help us in every area of our lives. This power has been in me so much lately. I am overwhelmed by all he is doing in my life. The first area is prayer, this is so important for my relationship with God and strength. The more you pray the more effective you become. The more you pray for others , the more you get blessed when you see those prayers being answered. I may pray for something for months, but the greater that answer is when it does come. Time spent in prayer talking to God is never wasted time. When you are quiet and listening he can and will share so many great things with you. He gives me great things to write about, what to do in certain situations, and what to say to people. Just that morning he told me to listen to praise music and it helps so much. Lately it is so necessary with all our problems. Now I am filled with his power and am unstoppable. I don’t know how people who reject him and his power get through life in this difficult world. But it can’t be good. I’m so thankful for the power he has given me.
Do you want to know this same power?
“Not by might nor by power, but by my spirit, says the Lord. Zechariah 4:6 NIV
“Do not be afraid, Jacob my servant; for I am with you, declares the Lord. Though I completely destroy all the nations among which I scatter you, I will not completely destroy you. I will discipline you but only in due measure; I will not let you go completely unpunished. Jeremiah 46:28 NIV
God’s protection is always with us wherever we go. If you have been called by God and seek to follow the Lord, he is always with you. He will never leave you. Israel was God’s chosen people and they were known as a stubborn and obstinate people. They knew God and exactly what God wanted them to do. They still preferred to do things their way. The neglected God and sought god’s that they could see and touch. They were not really God’s though. We can also be the same way but we don’t actually make golden images, that we bow down to. We can however look to other things for our joy and satisfaction. Such as our children, our pets, our brand new car, our job, money and things that can take our attention off of God. Taking our time and attention away from him. Maybe you run to these things for the help you should seek God for. When you are in need he wants you to run to him, and cast all your cares on him for he cares for you. He is to be number one. When we sin he makes it known to you. You should come to God in complete repentance. When we sin it creates a wall between us. The longer we let it go, the larger that wall gets. God can not tolerate sin and at some point, even though we think we got away with it, sin will be punished. God let his chosen people get farther and farther away, but he then sent other countries to imprison them in bondage. Even in bondage he was looking out for them. He would punish for a time, but they were still his people. He loved them. He then would bring them home again and bless them. Although all may be in turmoil around us God is still with us. Do not grow tired of doing what is right either, because he blesses us also. It may seem like he’s not listening or watching us, oh but he is. He knows the true heart of his people and will bring about good as well as well deserved discipline.
Is there a wall between you and God?
“…you do not have because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.” James 4:2-3 NIV
Whenever you need something come before God. Even though he knows our needs before we ask does not mean that we do not need to ask. The Lord loves to answer our prayers when we ask. If it is important to you it is important to God. Don’t think you are bothering God, or that it is too petty to take before God. Everything you tend to worry about, or get anxious about is important to give to God. It is important to be specific about what you need. Tell God what’s wrong but you don’t need to tell him how to fix it. He may not do things exactly how you see them as being done. He knows us because he designed us. He knows exactly what is best for us. Just because he does not answer immediately just the way you think he should does not mean he’s not listening. He will always answer. In his time, in his way, and always what is best for the person involved. If it’s not for my best, I don’t want it. I trust him. I don’t always understand why someone is not healed, or dies when I had been praying for them. Like when my grandson died just before his fourth birthday. I had prayed for him to be healed every day, but he died. Sure it would have been great if he had been healed. But was that the best thing for him? Or was that the best thing for me? Sure I miss him and my daughter misses him but so many things tell me he is better off. He is in heaven in a perfect body with No pain forever. All his Tay-Sachs friends are with him and they’re all perfect . His grandfather, who always wanted grandkids but died before any were born , and his great grandpa are with him. He’s with Jesus. There is something I have learned about prayer. I always ask God if I can be a part of what he is doing in the world. I want to make a positive impact on the world. He showed me I can do that by praying. Praying puts me in miracle territory. When ever you pray for needs you get to be apart of the miracle when those needs are met. In my prayer life I have seen so many prayers answered in such unique and special ways. Just recently a friend and minister from camp was on his death bed with covid19. On a ventilator and unconcious. Drs we’re giving up. But two weeks later he’s up and walking with a walker. This has brought boldness to my prayers. When I see great answers I get excited and pray for more. It is a privilege to come before God and see him answer.
Do you know someone who needs prayer today?
These two words have sent people running from God because he wants to take away the good life. Right? Who wants to follow a bunch of rules? Well for me I know he asks us to follow his ways but I truly believe his desire is for us to have the very best life we can possibly have. He wants us to have a full, happy, successful life. He knows how because he knows everything especially us. He created us and the designer usually writes the owner’s manual for his product. Right. I read this week in a devotional about the “shall nots” in the Bible that most people miss. The ones that really mean the world to us who claim to be his children and had to share.
“The young lions do lack, and suffer hunger: but they that seek the Lord shall not want any good thing.”
“The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.”
“He that hearth my word, and believeth on him who sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation.”
He that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.”
The Lord is at my right hand, I shall not be moved; Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down: for the Lord upholdeth him with his hand.”
There are so many more good promises in the word of God waiting to be discovered. There are over 4000 great promises for his children who live his way. Since my stroke I’ve learned so much and have so much peace. I live for him every day. He truly is my very best friend and he is always working all for my best.
“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?