Get serious about your life!

Have you ever had an experience which gave you good  reason to look at life more seriously?   Perhaps a visit to the doctor has left you shaken due to the prognosis afterwards,  or that someone you love in your family or close friend has fallen on hard times.   It is not hard to predict how you would react in such situation.  I would say it  would not be easy for most of us.  A recent circumstance had left me a bit shaken.   What I felt was a “brush with death.” turned out to be something else.   It started with chest pains in my chest.  It felt like I had been punched hard in the upper middle of my chest.  The soreness was not the “crab-like crushing sensation” normally associated with a heart attack, but it was pain, nonetheless.   Following that was an eerie feeling of uneasiness.   My thoughts were split between my wife and what I was to do next should things get worse.  It did not.  What I realized later was that a chunk of an apple, that I had eaten earlier,  had not quite made its way down my esophagus, the passageway from the opening of the throat leading down to the stomach, causing partial soreness along the inner membrane.  Once I was satisfied that this was the sole cause,  my relief was just as great as the distress that it caused me at the time.    Even more thankful to be reminded about the seriousness of life and what still lies ahead.

Let me start with this verse.   Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. (Ga.6:7).   It may seem a bit too severe to quote this verse  from the Bible regarding scares in life, but lets be realistic about how many are  hearing this and are not truly prepared to meet God on His terms today.   Probably not many when you consider the many answers people give for their basis for going to heaven.   Some really do not find it easy to admit to personal failures and sins  but seem less hesitant  to explain God`s willingness to accept them into His presence.   But God warns us, to not to be deceived, that He is not mocked.   In other words, we are not to con ourselves into thinking that everything is alright with us,  that we can work our way into a relationship with God, or that He cannot condemn us because He is a loving God and as such He would not send anyone to hell.    God is not to be mocked so if you reject His salvation that comes through personal faith in Christ and repentance of your sins,  you can expect consequences.   You hold God in contempt when you defy Him by not believing His Gospel and seek another way to heaven instead.     You cannot back God into a corner by insisting on your goodness.    God says that whatever a man sows he will reap, meaning if you have lived your life for yourself not giving any account to Christ death on the cross for your sins, then you will reap the consequences of your sins because you chose to ignore the gospel.  Therefore, you must pay the price of your sins yourself.  Legalistic obedience or religious rituals only leads you further into a false belief that you are good enough for God.  The sowing and reaping principle means that if you sow in the flesh, that is, through human efforts to reach God, your life on earth will end in having to face eternal damnation.  But, if you sow personnel faith and repentance in Christ who paid the price for our sins, you will reap eternal life.   Do not wait for a close call to get serious about God, it may turn out to be the real thing and the  last moment you had.  Time is running down,  so act now while you can while salvation is still near.

Trust Christ today and live.

Love Beyond Borders

In recent years, people have stayed away from Church in larger numbers than previously reported.   In part because of the many charlatans that seek out paychecks instead of souls, and give a watered-down version of the gospel, depreciating its real worth by promises of riches and miraculous cures.   Many false claims about getting wealth, sudden good fortune and health are being circulated  by so called gospel preachers such as Joel Osteen and Joyce Meyer, often aiming their message at gullible and unsuspecting audiences.   Because of their highfalutin ways and promises and what appears to be a tinsel thin knowledge of the true gospel, you would think that their gatherings would decrease after a while.  Actually, they are not.  They are increasing.  So much so that Joel Osteen scheduled meetings in Memphis, Phoenix, Los Vegas, Miami and Phoenix are being filled, ticket sales for Phoenix alone range from 32$ — 37$.  You heard it, folks.  Pay to meet your favorite preacher.  He does not come for free.   So you should be pleased to know that as the promo on the Web says, this is another thing you can take off your bucket list when you attend.   Just think of it.  You can pay good money to go and hear a gospel that will give you whatever you want to hear.  Is that not what you always wanted?  It is a sorrowful time we live in.    Save your money and buy some Chinese food instead and read the note in your fortune cookie afterwards.   At least you will have a meal to show for it.

Currently there are  over 1,500 people groups mostly in dangerous places that have not heard the gospel,  I do not think any of these high priced evangelists will ever touch down in these regions with their ten million dollar jet any time soon to risk telling the poor the good news of the gospel.   Rather they use God to get things from desperate people to profit themselves.   Is it any wonder that many question that even knowing the truth such as the supernatural (the existence of God), morality,  religion,  or knowledge (the idea of certainty) is even possible when shysters all around us are making half-baked promises.     A perplexing and disturbing trend has found its way into our current idea of truth.  For some,  God is thought to be nothing more than a genie in a bottle  to get from Him whatever they may wish for.  Perhaps, you are smarter than this.   Numerous skeptics and doubters believe in something divine.  They just do not believe everything about God.   You may be one of these that see yourself as already good and in no need of being saved from your sins but still hold to the idea of the possibility of God but have long ago scraped the idea for divine intercession.   If so keep reading.

Jesus was approached by a religious man for an answer to a question that should be asked by all of us.   What should I do to inherent eternal life?   Obviously, this man is on the right track and stands opposite to the doubter.  He knows the O.T. since his job is to interpret it.  But the parody of this situation is that he is like a skeptic since he did not agree with the answer Christ gave.  Just like the skeptic before him, he is not an atheist, but believes in something, just not everything Christ teaches.  Jesus gives replies to his question:

You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.”  (Luke 10:27)

Once he heard Christ reply,  he sought to justify himself.  He may have realized his own failure to observe the supreme command, to love God with your all, and he knows he cannot insist on meeting its demand, or he may think that it was not even possible so why try anyway?    In other words his pride and sense of goodness led him to excuse or justify himself by re-directing his question to the second command by asking about who his neighbour may be,  which was a clever way to change the direction of the conversation to either take the heat off of himself or cause Jesus to be tripped up or stumped since his original intention was “to test” Jesus. (vv25).     Christ reply about who we should consider our neighbour so we can love him in the way God tells us to was a lead-in to the story of the good Samaritan.  It served to intensify humanity`s need for salvation.  Priori reasoning is seen here.   Before the  religious leader could even learn how he may inherent eternal life,  he must first understand the reason you must come to God, first.    It is unfortunate that humanity has a huge  capacity for religion that often requires only minimal effort from us that often is self-regulated.  Church attendance and doing good seems to be at the top of the list.   But religion does not save as we can see from this parable.   Both the priest and Levite,  outstanding religious figures in their community, pass by the wounded man by the road side.  In fact they purposely cross over to the other side of the road.  These men taught that doing good deeds and obeying the laws of God were the ways to heaven.  Yet, they felt they were inherently good.    Recently another religious giant spoke these words to an audience of children in the Vatican at Christmas time.   “Be generous channels of goodness and welcome with everyone, to build a world that is more fraternal, more supportive, more Christian,”

(https://www.vaticannews.va/en/pope/news)   Although religion often insist on salvation through works and many men believe this to be so, it cannot be without the divine intercession of God to make men good.   Man in his natural state does not love God in the manner intended by God.  That is why when  Nicodemus came to Jesus inquiring about eternal life, Jesus explained to him first that it must be supernatural and cannot be attained by human means or works.  When the good Samaritan came down the road and attended to the dying man it gave evidence of someone who knew the love of God personally and that he had been truly saved and was demonstrating that inner work of the Spirit by showing love to his neighbour, who as we know now is “anyone in that is in need.”

Perhaps, when you consider these two great commandments, you realize what the lawyer should have discovered, that he could not fulfill the “law of love” himself in his natural state, but instead should have recognized his own inability to love both God and man.   The law does not save but mirrors our own inability and unwillingness to fulfill the demands of divine love to each other and to God.   To see it in any other way is to insist that your personal goodness is acceptable before God.  If so, it  can only leave you convinced of your own sense of self-importance and blinded in spiritual pride.

But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.” (Isaiah 64:6)

Or perhaps, you have become skeptical because of the false promises and pretentious ways of others.     You may bristle at the thought of listening to the gospel because of past indiscretions from others.  Understand that when Christ spoke to this leader, Jesus pointed out that if this man was to find eternal life, than he would need to love both God and man beyond what was considered humanly possible.  That to love supremely meant that a divine work would be needed first in his life.  Jesus showed us this love when he came from above to become like this good Samaritan to pull us out of our distress and hopelessness.  Christ did this by giving His own life, where the good Samaritan oversight of the injured man provided his own wages for the medical bills and convalescence,  Jesus gave much more and paid with his life for our return from spiritual death to eternal life.      Jesus sought us from the ruins of our own sinfulness to rescue us and heal our brokenness so that now we have had our eyes opened and ears attentive to the spiritual realities of this life, and brought us back from certain destruction to a life that abounds with grace and mercy.   Will you put away your doubts and fears and see Christ as the great physician who can forgive our sins and give us life abundant.

Self-Preoccupation can be fatal

While overlooking a lake for the best hot spots available, we spotted two large boulders at the far end which seemed like a good area for fish.   We knew the best chance at getting some bass would be early morning; a slow drift by water craft sending arching cast up the rock embankment where we would watch the live bait tumble down the slopping boulder into the shallow water below, cranking ever so slightly to allow a naturally flutter just above the shallow rock strewn bottom until whammy!  —  a bass gulps the offering.  Discovering what fish like and their favourite haunts is not hard if you know what to search for.

Life and its meaning can be compared to finding prize fishing spots.  You only have to know where to look.   But if you depend on others to find it for you, it may never be discovered.  You have to be willing to find it yourself.   You can spend a lifetime trying to make your way up the business ladder or spend your time unraveling the maze of information about the marketplace to get rich.  You may find disappointment instead.  Riches and vaunted careers, these do not bring self-fulfillment,  trying to achieve them may in its wake leave behind sorrow such as broken marriages, failed health, and moral defiance.  To understand true contentment, you must reverse what is so commonly touted in our day.    See the words of Jesus:  “In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.” (Acts 20:35)
Rather then taking what you can, you must be serving others unselfishly.  So it is not what we do for ourselves and what we can get out of it, but what we do for others that makes the difference.  The greatest example for us to follow was Christ.  His life was dedicated to bring salvation to His people.  His life was the light for men to follow.   Learn to be that light for others, to help others see their need for Christ, it is that which brings true contentment.
Jesus says:  “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:19-21)

You would do well today, to consider your life as something that is fleeing and what you do now matters for eternity.   You cannot serve Christ until you  become his disciple and any follower must first see and accept what their Master did for them.   We are all sinners and all in need of forgiveness and to be reconciled to the Father.   For this reason, Jesus came as a servant, to serve and not to be served.  He died on the cross to pay for the sins of His people.  You must come to Him with your sins in your hands, as a beggar would, seeking His forgiveness.   Will you make your confession to Christ today, and turn away from your sins to a life that will bring you real meaningfulness.

“For even the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45)