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Redeemed from the Empty Way of Life

Posted on August 8, 2018 By In Encouragement , Religion With no comments

For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect.

1 Peter 1:18-19

“… the empty way of life…”  Headed nowhere. Meaningless. Without purpose. Those days before coming to Christ were an exercise in futility.

I don’t know about you, but I never saw it that way. Back then I was busy doing stuff. I had ambition, goals, and even a little success to show for my hard work. But in God’s grand scheme, my life was empty.

The Forever NotebookHow sad to think you’ve got life figured out when in reality you’re just wandering in the wilderness. Even more disheartening is to think there isn’t enough “silver or gold” to buy your way out of your predicament. And isn’t the pursuit of money what we devote our lives to? The more the better. But no matter how much we acquire, the end is still the same. Rich man. Poor man. We all die.

Admittedly, the ability to gain possessions makes our temporary existence on this earth easier and more desirable. But the time we have here is brief, especially when compared to eternity. I’ll be 70 on my next birthday, and I promise — life passes quickly. Seems like I dozed off briefly at my high school graduation and woke up here with gray hair and uncontrollable bushy eyebrows.

I just checked the Social Security Life Expectancy Calendar. The government projects I’ll live until 83. And I have a 1 in 10 chance of making it past 95. But on the eternal calendar, I have a 100% chance of living forever.

Everyone lives beyond the grave. Everybody has eternal life. Consequently, the issue is not whether you will have eternal life, it’s where you will spend it.

Let’s look at two verses in which Jesus talks about this eternal life that is for everyone. In Matthew 25, Jesus said, “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.’” Then in the 46th verse Jesus amplifies that thought, “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”

Which is better? Everlasting joy with the Father or eternal punishment in hell? Okay. That’s a no-brainer. But more important is what you do with your brief time on earth. That will determine where you will spend eternity.

Although we all have been given forever life, we haven’t been given forever to decide where we will spend it. Once we breathe our last breath on this earth, it’s too late. And we have no idea when our lives will end (Proverbs 27:1; James 4:14)

Therefore, don’t ignore, refuse, or become too busy to deal with life’s most important decision. It’s your call, your choice. Your eternal future depends upon it.

We are born into sin, remain enslaved to it (Romans 6:6; Psalm 51:5), and are subject to the dominion of Satan, the god of this age (2 Corinthians 4:4) until we accept God’s gift of eternal life (Ephesians 2:8).

There is but one way to be freed from the path to eternal separation from God and that is through “the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect.” (1 Peter 1:19) Only Jesus’ sacrifice satisfies God’s penalty for sin. The shedding of His blood paid our sin debt and justified us before God. The Heavenly Father sees redeemed believers just-as-if we never sinned.

Without Christ, you’re wandering aimlessly, headed for eternal punishment. But it doesn’t have to be that way. God offers eternal salvation with Him in His heaven as a free gift. It’s yours for the taking. If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. (Romans 10:9)

If you have trusted Christ as your Savior, then to God be the glory. Your life has meaning and is headed for the most joyous eternity imaginable, and it was all made possible by the redemptive work of the precious shed blood of Jesus. “Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!” (2 Corinthians 9:15)

Reprinted from The Forever Notebook, Book 3 (July – September)

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There is More to Life than Worry about Stuff

Posted on May 19, 2018 By In Encouragement , Religion With no comments

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?

Matthew 6:25-26

The most important word to aid understanding of this passage is the first one, “Therefore…” So let’s back up a little and get an overview of the preceding section.

The context has to do with putting our emphasis on heavenly treasures and not, earthly treasures which moths and vermin destroy. It’s also in this passage that Jesus tells us we’re to serve God and not money.

The context then has to do with the priorities of God’s people. And to establish those priorities we must consider the big picture, from Jesus’ heavenly perspective.

We become entangled in the daily routine of doing and getting stuff. “What are we going to eat for dinner? Shall we eat out or try to find something at home? Can we really afford to eat out? Johnny has ball practice tonight, maybe we should get a hotdog at the ballpark. Don’t forget your dentist appointment. I’ve got to get my prescription filled today before I run out.” Like I said. Lots of stuff.

Then disaster strikes. Your receive word that your spouse had a heart attack at work and died. In an instant, stuff doesn’t matter. Just that one BIG thing. Your perspective was instantly changed.

I recall visiting in the home of a family that had dropped out of church. They said they didn’t have a reason, other than they had just gotten too busy with stuff. Husband and wife both worked and their daughter was a high school cheerleader.

A short time later, the family showed up for our morning service and after it was over they asked if I could meet with them. That’s when I found out the woman had breast cancer. A month later, she died.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that failure to attend church resulted in this crisis. Suddenly, this family was reminded of what REALLY matters in life. They needed God. The frightening diagnosis changed their perspective. Our top priority should be a right and ongoing relationship with our heavenly Father.

That’s what Jesus meant when He said, “… do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes?”

And He didn’t say we shouldn’t be concerned about stuff. Just don’t worry about it. Don’t get so wrapped up in earthly pursuits that you neglect the main thing, your relationship with God. Keep the main thing — the main thing.

Jesus teaches us that God isn’t just concerned about the hereafter, but also the here and now. “Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?” (v26)

I’ve never met anybody who didn’t worry. And like I’ve said before, not all worry is bad, just the kind that debilitates us and consumes our minds like a cancer. Such excessive worry relies on human effort and fails to trust God.

Have you ever experienced the peace that surpasses all understanding? In Philippians 4:7, Paul writes, “And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

I’ve never been in the eye of a hurricane. Let’s hope that never happens. But I’ve been told that within the eye of the storm there is calm. It’s like when Jesus said to the storm, “Peace, be still!”(Mk 4:39)

Get that heavenly relationship right and trust God to take care of you. Don’t get so caught up in daily stuff that you miss the big picture.

For more on this topic, check out this article: Your Amazing Victory in Jesus

Reprinted from The Forever Notebook, Book 2 (April – June) Get your copy here: Paperback and eBook/Kindle formats.

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Life in the Garden of Faith

Posted on January 21, 2018 By In Encouragement , Religion With no comments

Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.

Galatians 6:7-8

We often wonder where life will take us. What’s next? What is in our future? Obviously, there is much that we cannot know about what lies ahead, but there is one thing that is certain. We can know where and when we will spend eternity.

The theories, religions, and philosophies of man offer many deceptive alternatives to God’s eternal plan and thus this warning from the Apostle Paul, “Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked.” Teachings or worldly philosophies that are contrary to the instruction handed down by God through His word deceive man and mock God. To follow any way other than the way of God through Jesus Christ is to be deceived.

Since God is the supreme power He has complete control of man’s destiny yet He allows us to choose our final destination. Paul points out that we will ultimately “reap” from what we sow. We will either reap “destruction” or “eternal life.”

“Destruction” is a word that we often want to soften or ignore altogether when teaching the principles of Christianity. We theorize that surely a loving God would not sentence people to destruction. I’ve heard people say, I don’t like to think about God that way.” However, when you think like that you have fallen into the trap of the Deceiver. You have fallen for the deception. There is a heaven, and there is a hell.

Where are you sowing the seeds of your life? Paul makes reference to two gardens. Are you sowing in the garden of the sinful nature or in the garden of the Spirit?

Years ago I lived in St. Petersburg, Florida. On one particularly hot afternoon, I brought home a watermelon. My wife cut a piece and handed it to our 2-year-old son to eat in the backyard. A month or so later we were greeted by a surprise. A watermelon was growing by the patio. We weren’t watermelon farmers by any stretch of the imagination. But we had inadvertently sowed a seed that eventually produced something we didn’t expect.

As we go through life we sow seeds in many areas and often times those seeds are sown with little thought. Although we shouldn’t be surprised, those seeds may eventually take root and produce something we didn’t expect or want.

God wants us to know that when we engage in sinful indulgences, regardless of how harmless they may appear, there is potential danger in the future harvest. We can spare ourselves a lot of pain, heartache, and misery by forgoing momentary sinful pleasure for the greater promise of a spiritual harvest.

Paul links pleasure to sowing. “The one who sows to please his sinful nature…”  and “the one who sows to please the Spirit…” God doesn’t have a problem with “pleasure,” He just wants us to make wise choices. That which is pleasurable is “deceptive.” Just because it looks good and feels good does not mean that it is good.

Plant in the garden of faith.

When your uppermost desire is to please God then you will make choices that “please the Spirit.” You can know where you are headed by taking inventory of where you are sowing the seeds of your life. What seeds are you planting in your heart and mind? Are they seeds that will bear fruit in — or out — of the will of God?

If you are truly in Christ you have made the garden of the Spirit your priority. When and if you occasionally plant a seed in the garden of the sinful nature you experience guilt over your sin and take measures to correct that behavior. You want to make it right because you want to please God.

For more on this topic, check out this article: With Christian Freedom Comes Responsibility

Reprinted from The Forever Notebook, Book 1 (January – March) Get your copy here: Paperback and eBook/Kindle formats.

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