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Just wondering… We hardly hear about hell anymore in the Christian Church. It’s unfashionable, uncomfortable, un-politically correct. It’s fine and well to teach the other major doctrines of the Church. They’re good and solid.

-“God is love” 1 John 4:8

-We should love God. “love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind “ Mark 12:30

-God loves us. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” John 3:16

-Of course we should teach that Jesus died for our sins. “In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” John 4:9, 10

-It’s also good to teach people they need to read their Bibles. “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.” 2 Timothy 3:16, 17

-It’s both needful and wonderful to teach people how to live the Christian life well and successfully. (I’ll spare you the several hundred Scriptures covering that one.)

-And the big one, of course, we should be teaching people how to be saved! “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household.” Acts 16:31

It’s all good, all necessary, all must be taught. But…why aren’t we teaching about hell?

-How can God be love and still send people to hell?

The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” 2 Peter 3:9

-What did Jesus save us from, when he died for our sins?

The Bible says it’s better lop off your own body parts than to wind up in hell! Matthew 18:9, Mark 9:43, 45, 47

Luke’s description of the rich man in hell might give one pause. And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.” Luke 16:23, 24

-Mathew lets us know this is no place for a party. “And cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” Mathew 25:30

-So does John. “and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb: And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night,” Revelation 14:10,11

It’s no wonder there are so many “luke-warm” Christians in the world today. How can we be truly grateful to Jesus Christ if we don’t know what it is He saved us from? Won’t we love our God, that much more, of we really understand and take to heart the horrible fate He spared us? What effect would that have on our obedience to Him? Wouldn’t we be more likely to share the Gospel, if we really believed in the future of those we love, who are unsaved? If we allowed the awful truth to move us, could we stand the thought of even one person being lost?

It’s easier not to think about hell. It’s much nicer to teach on the Love of God, and leave out the hard stuff. It’s certainly less controversial, and many Churches wouldn’t stand for such teaching. Makes this preacher think maybe the Apostles and possibly Jesus, Himself wouldn’t be too welcome in those Churches. They taught the hard stuff.

If we want true revival, if we want to see Christians on fire for God, and working the harvest with all their hearts, we have to start teaching the hard stuff. We’re going to have to teach hell.

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This is a Christmas repost from 2007. I thought about updating and dusting it off, but decided to let it stand, as is.

She was somewhere between thirteen and fifteen years old, and she never used a computer, talked on the phone, or rode in a car. TV would have seemed like witchcraft to her, and an airplane would have inspired sheer terror. She was a sweet, simple, country girl, from a poor working family, who probably never owned more than two dresses or one pair of shoes at a time.

For her, a formal education would have been impractical and out of reach. She learned from her mother how to cook, clean, care for children, and run a home. That was her lot in life and she was content with it. She had won the love of a good man, with a tender heart, and was looking forward to becoming his wife.

She lived during a time when speaking with angels wasn’t unheard of, and wasn’t as likely to get one locked away as it is today. And an angel told this simple, virgin, country girl she was going to have a child, not just any child, but the only begotten Son of God.

No one believed her, at first, but two thousand years later people, who don’t believe any part of the old story, know her name. She is honored in song, and remembered in films. Many of us wonder if we could have borne such a heavy responsibility.

Never think that God can’t use you, because of your lack of education or speaking skills.

1 Corinthians 1:27 “But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty;”

Never think your past life will hinder His use of you.

2 Corinthians 12:9 ”… for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”

Never be afraid to step out on faith.

Galatians 3:26 ”For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.”

God can and will use you, if your heart is willing.

When someone says “God” what image comes to mind? Is it an all powerful angry being waiting above to thump you on the head or make things go badly for you, if you do the wrong thing? Are you convinced that you been so awful, gone so wrong, that He couldn’t possibly love or forgive you? Do you feel as if you’ve been picked on by the All Mighty? That’s not the image the Bible gives of our Creator.

Jeremiah 29:11 tells us what God thinks about us.
“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.”

Child, God is not mad at you.

1 John 4:8 tells us that God not only loves but is love. “He who does not love does not know God, for God is love.

And there is the ultimate expression of God’s love.
John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”
Romans 5:8 “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
1 John 4:9 “In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him.”

We call Him, Father, but we must be careful not to let the imperfect image of out earthly father overshadow who God truly is.
Luke 11:9-13 “So I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. If a son asks for bread from any father among you, will he give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent instead of a fish? Or if he asks for an egg, will he offer him a scorpion? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!”

Child, God is not mad at you, and he doesn’t want you to be afraid of Him.

Yes, I know the Bible says, “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom…” (Proverbs 9:10) But the word “fear” here means “respect” not knee knocking fright.

Like any good father, God will let you suffer the consequences of your own actions, although many Christians, including myself, have noticed that said consequences are often muted by God’s mercy. And like any good father, God will discipline His children.
Proverbs 13:24 “He who spares his rod hates his son, But he who loves him disciplines him promptly.”

Correcting one’s children takes time and effort. It would be much easier to allow them to do as they please, but of course, because we love them we take the time and put in the effort to discipline them properly. God does the same for us.
Proverbs 3:11-12 “My son, do not despise the chastening of the LORD, Nor detest His correction; For whom the LORD loves He corrects, Just as a father the son in whom he delights.”

Child, God is not mad at you.

In fact, He’s crazy about you, loves you, and wants to spend all eternity with you.
2 Peter 3:8-9 “But, beloved, do not forget this one thing, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.”

God is not mad at you.

He has made a way for you to spend eternity with Him. It’s yours for the asking.

“Father, I know that I have broken your laws and my sins have separated me from you. I am truly sorry, and now I want to turn away from my past sinful life toward you. Please forgive me, and help me avoid sinning again. I believe that your son, Jesus Christ died for my sins, was resurrected from the dead, is alive, and hears my prayer. I invite Jesus to become the Lord of my life, to rule and reign in my heart from this day forward. Please send your Holy Spirit to help me obey You, and to do Your will for the rest of my life. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.”

It seems one must admit how hurt they are, before healing can begin. It’s amazing the lengths God will go to in order to bring said healing and peace to His children. I wish I had the words to describe yesterdays service, how the Spirit settled over the entire congregation, and how He used a song to begin the process for one broken, battered, weeping child of God.

Cry Out To Jesus – Casting Crowns

To everyone who’s lost someone they love
Long before it was their time
You feel like the days you had were not enough
when you said goodbye

And to all of the people with burdens and pains
Keeping you back from your life
You believe that there’s nothing and there is no one
Who can make it right

There is hope for the helpless
Rest for the weary
Love for the broken heart
There is grace and forgiveness
Mercy and healing
He’ll meet you wherever you are
Cry out to Jesus, Cry out to Jesus

For the marriage that’s struggling just to hang on
They lost all of their faith and love
They’ve done all they can to make it right again
Still it’s not enough

For the ones who can’t break the addictions and chains
You try to give up but you come back again
Just remember that you’re not alone in your shame
And your suffering

There is hope for the helpless
Rest for the weary
Love for the broken heart
There is grace and forgiveness
Mercy and healing
He’ll meet you wherever you are
Cry out to Jesus, Cry out to Jesus

When your lonely
And it feels like the whole world is falling on you
You just reach out, you just cry out to Jesus
Cry to Jesus

To the widow who suffers from being alone
Wiping the tears from her eyes
For the children around the world without a home
Say a prayer tonight

There is hope for the helpless
Rest for the weary
Love for the broken heart
There is grace and forgiveness
Mercy and healing
He’ll meet you wherever you are
Cry out to Jesus, Cry out to Jesus

Father, thank You, for loving this selfish, arrogant woman. Thank You, for bearing my anger and pain, and showing me the way to peace.

Watching a man and his two children baptized today, as his wife looked on with joyful tears streaming down her face, reminded me of why I do what I do. It’s more than the directive I feel coming from God, though that is a large part of it. It’s the incredible joy felt when I am blessed with the job of introducing someone to Jesus.

The Jesus I know is not that gorgeous, long-haired fellow with the sappy smile you see in so many paintings. He’s not a weakling nor a wimp, despite how badly He was treated while He was here. Yes, Jesus is “The Lamb of God”, but He is also “The Lion of Judah”, the “Alpha and Omega”, “Redeemer”, “Light of the world”, “Lord of all creation”, “Lord of lords”, “King of kings”, and “God with us.” He is my risen Savior.

The Jesus I know is strong. He was strong enough to face the criticism of the religious leaders of His day, strong enough to drive the money changers out of His Father’s temple, strong enough to heal the sick, give sight to the blind, give a voice to the mute, and raise the dead, strong enough to defeat demons, strong enough to flatten a troop of Roman soldiers with just His voice, strong enough to survive being scourged, and strong enough to stay on the cross and bear the sins of all mankind.

The Jesus I know is kind. He was kind enough to save a groom humiliation during his wedding supper, kind enough to have pity on a leaper and on a woman caught in the act of adultery, kind enough to bless little children, kind enough to not only forgive Peter but to make him great, kind enough to make sure His mother was cared for, and kind enough to forgive those who nailed Him to the cross. Jesus is kind enough to use a mess like me.

The Jesus I know loves. Loves us so much He gave up heaven, came to this earth as a helpless baby, submitted to His earthy parents upbringing, and in the prime of life started a ministry He knew would only last three years. Jesus loves us so much He bore the pain of the turning away of His Father’s face, so we wouldn’t have to. He loves us so much that He not only died for us but rose again on the third day to give us a secure hope in His resurrection. Jesus loves us so much He wants us to spend eternity with Him.

It’s an amazing honor and privilege to be used by my Lord and Savior, one I don’t take lightly, but it’s the joy of introducing someone to the Jesus I know and love, seeing the joy in their eyes when they really understand, knowing that one more soul has been added to the kingdom of heaven, that’s what keeps me going.

History – a chronological record of significant events often including an explanation of their causes.
Herstory – a chronological record of significant events of my faith and service including an explanation of their causes.

Willohroots requested the whole story of my road to faith and service, so here it is. It turned out to be very long, but my favorite evangelist, David Ring, says if I don‘t tell it, it won‘t get told. Hope you can stay awake.

I think faith often starts in childhood. I know mine did. I can only remember one time my family attended church, and it was long enough ago that they had a smoking section, but my mother often spoke of God and His love. I remember her trying to explain the triune God, when I was about four. (Yep, four; can you imagine!) She did as good a job as anyone, and I’ve never struggled with that doctrine the way some have. It may be as simple as believing, because “Mom said so.“ But it works. She also allowed me to attend vacation Bible School, each summer, and always encouraged me to go to church with my friends when invited. It was during one of those visits, to a friends church, at twelve, that I accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior. (Becky B., if you ever read this I owe you my very life.)

Unfortunately, we got tied up with Jehovah’s Witnesses shortly thereafter. I can’t call that time a total loss, because it instilled in me the importance of Bible study and reaching out to others. And how many people can say they were baptized on the fifty-yard-line of Texas Stadium? I did however become very confused about Jesus, and lost my trust in Him. After falling away I tried a lot of other roads, including Wicca, but when life was at it’s worst and I really needed someone, I always found myself at the foot of the cross. I kept searching for someone/something to fill the void. Men didn’t do it, and I have three ex-husbands to prove it. Four children didn’t do it, though they came closer than anything else. Liquor, pills, pot, work, friends, none of those things filled the empty space inside.

Then on September 11, 2001 suddenly and without warning, our entire country went into mourning, causing me to consider ending my life. For that to make sense you need to know that I’m an empath, which is not something weird or spooky. It simply means that I feel the strong emotions of those around me. Fear, anger, and sadness surrounded me, and I couldn’t escape, even for a moment. The only peace I felt was when my husband and I attended a memorial at the church across the street from where I worked. Then and many times since then I’ve had the feeling of being held as I wept. Doug must have noticed, because he was the one who suggested we actively begin seeking a church to attend regularly. Of course, after visiting several and not finding what we were looking for it kind of fell by the wayside.

A few months later, a friend invited me to a women’s retreat at her church, and paid my way, because there was no way I could afford it. It started out with a silly PJ and crazy slipper night, and turned into one of the most important milestones in my life. Suddenly I had an appetite for God’s Word again, and found myself on my knees rededicating my life to Him. Well, He doesn’t take a thing like that lightly, and soon Doug and I were attending his mother’s church regularly. During a Sunday service, we simply looked at each other and said, “Let’s join.” Neither of us even knew the other was considering it! A week later we were baptized together, which has turned into a huge strong point in our marriage.

It really was a great church, on the small side, with as sweet a spirit as any new Christian could hope for, and Brother Dan, the pastor, was a great teacher. I still had a trust problem with Jesus, and was trying to work it out when The Passion came out. It broke my heart and sent me running to my Savior’s arms.

We were at that church for three years, and as with most things, I jumped in head first, always carefully avoiding stepping over my bounds as a woman. With the encouragement of our piano player, Marlene, I was singing specials with the bravest of them, and found myself teaching Sunday school and leading children’s church. As most good things tend to, it ended. Our church split, my Sunday school class of tough little girls vanished, and children’s church was down to three little boys, so they were moved to the regular service. Our best friends left with the Pastor and began a new church, where he abandoned them right away. We were heartsick, for them and for us.

After they found a new pastor for their fledgling church, we went to visit them. They asked me to lead the song service that day, and suddenly I had a place to serve again. There is really nothing like building up a brand new church, so much to be done, and so few to do the work. I was in “Martha” heaven. There were some things I had to get use to though. Women were often called on to pray, and there was a woman on the finance committee! Funny, it didn’t take long.

It soon became apparent we had a problem. Our pastor was jealous of one of the founders of the church, and had begun to use the pulpit to blast him at every opportunity. He also started manipulating people to further his own agenda. We kept expecting him to get angry enough to walk out, and though I still don’t know why, I promised my friend I’d have a devotion ready, if we needed it. It finally came to a point where we had to ask him to leave. It was ugly and painful, and we lost several families, because of it. With the help of one of our other ladies, I was pressed into leading our services, while we looked for a new pastor.

I was about as freaked out as one person is allowed to be. My husband had just gone out of town for work, and there was no one I could talk to, well, other than God. I cried, and told Him I wouldn’t do it, couldn’t do it. I am a woman after all. Of course I just happened to be in Deborah’s part of Judges in my Bible reading. So I agreed, but I wouldn’t stand in the pulpit, and would only do devotions until one of the men was ready to preach. But they needed more, and somehow it had fallen to me to feed His sheep. It wasn’t long before I was in the pulpit, preaching. It seems there is very little difference in a devotion and a sermon.

Six months later, we did find a preacher. I had a few doubts, but everyone else was so happy. I shut my mouth and handed my charges over to his care and keeping. I did, however, stay the song leader. I don’t know that speaking up would have changed anything, but do wish I had tried. I stuck it out as the pastor’s thumb came down harder and harder, because my husband was happy there, and because there were some good things happening.

The toughest thing to deal with is that the pastor knows I feel called to ministry, and he simply can’t let it go. He always talks about how good it is to visit his home church, how they bless him with things for his church, and how they pray for and support him. He would not only deny me that, but actively try to destroy any ministry of which I am a part. In the end I had a choice, stay and destroy the church or go find the supportive environment I need and crave.

Doug and I have found a place where we can both serve, and which supports women in ministry. I get phone calls from people leaving our old church. Sometimes they’re in tears wanting to know what went wrong. It seems since we left the pastor has taken iron-fisted control. They are only allowed to sing from the hymnal he brought in, and he has questioned the salvation of several members, because they’ve sinned. There are other things, but that’s enough. Why did he wait until we left to do those things? Maybe because he knew I’d call him on them?

My independent Bible study starts Wednesday morning. Anyone who wants to attend will be welcome, and I plan to go invite a few folks the churches haven’t bothered with.

God worked too hard to break the chains that bound me, and no one is putting me back in them! If anyone has a problem with it they can talk to my Boss.

Father, help me always to remember that You’re not done with me yet, I’m just a sinner, saved by grace, and that minister means servant.

We hear the words all the time, God’s perfect will, free will, God’s permissive will, but do we understand what they mean?

I can remember sitting in church, as a new Christian, and becoming frustrated by the word “holy”. Many times we were told that we were to “become holy as God is holy,” but no one ever told us how. Of course, once someone finally told me that holy means separate and above, it became clear.

So what do the phrases God’s perfect will, God’s permissive will, and free will mean?

1. God’s Perfect Will

Genesis 1:27-28,31 “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth. And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good…“

Genesis 2:15-18,21-22,25 “And the LORD God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it. And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die. And the LORD God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him. And the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof; And the rib, which the LORD God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man. And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.”

In the beginning God’s perfect will for man was to live in the Garden of Eden as the keepers of the good things God had created. In the garden there was no illness, no death, the animals had no reason to fear man, and man was innocent, with no knowledge of evil. They were to have children, and live in perfect fellowship and obedience to God.

Even now God has a perfect will for mankind.

1 Timothy 2:3-6 “For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.”

God’s will for us now is to accept His Son, Jesus Christ, as our Lord and Savior, and to walk in perfect fellowship and obedience to Him.

Of course, Adam and Eve messed it up in Eden, and we mess it up daily in our own lives, because God also gave us something called…

2. Free Will

Deuteronomy 30:19 “I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live:”

Joshua 24:15 “And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.”

God gave us the privilege of choice. We get to choose what kind of life we lead, who we spend our time with, how we make our living, and who or what we worship (We all worship something.) It’s really quite a generous gift. When we create a thing we certainly don’t give it the choice of becoming something totally different than what we intended. He wants us to choose Him, but He will not force us.

This ground between God’s perfect will and our free will is where we find…

3. God’s Permissive Will

Genesis 50:20 “But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive.”

God allowed Joseph to be sold into slavery by his jealous brothers, and used that situation to save their entire family from famine.

Luke 13:34-35 “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, which killest the prophets, and stonest them that are sent unto thee; how often would I have gathered thy children together, as a hen doth gather her brood under her wings, and ye would not! Behold, your house is left unto you desolate: and verily I say unto you, Ye shall not see me, until the time come when ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord.”

Though it broke his heart, God allowed the people of Jerusalem to turn their backs on Jesus.

Matthew 18:14 “Even so it is not the will of your Father which is in heaven, that one of these little ones should perish.”

2 Peter 3:8-10 “But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up.”

God has provided a way for all to come to Him, and waits patently for all who are willing to do so.

Psalm 139:13-15 “For thou hast possessed my reins: thou hast covered me in my mother’s womb. I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well. My substance was not hid from thee, when I was made in secret, and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth.”

Romans 8:28 “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.”

We are incapable and most of the time unwilling to serve the perfect will of our God , Who knows all things and sees all things. Since He knows our every move, before we are even born into this world, He is able to make all things work for His glory and purpose.

Make no mistake, perfect will, free will, or permissive will, God is in control. Nothing happens without His knowledge and unless He allows it.

That is a great comfort to some of us.

Another new year, and time once again to look at our attitudes and habits. Are we allowing old tired habits and attitudes to weigh us down, or are we doing things to help us grow and keep us spiritually strong?

1. Does your Bible need a good dusting?

Most of us wouldn’t dream of using a new appliance without reading the manual, but we will blunder through life without ever reading our Maker’s instruction manual.

Want to know about God? Read His book. Just three chapters a day, and by the end of the year you will have read the whole thing.

For those new to Bible reading, I suggest starting with the New Testament, and those new to Christianity might want to start with the Gospel of John.

It’s fine to skip all the “begats” the first time through, and don’t worry if you don’t understand every word. Understanding comes with time and familiarity, and the passages you need, when you need them, will be crystal clear.

2. Do you pray daily, or only when you’re in need?

Daily prayer connects us to the strength of God, and brings us closer to Him. It doesn’t have to be long and wordy. Many times my morning prayer consists of a “Thank you, and please be with me.”

(Small warning: If you start praying daily, you will find that your prayers get longer, as time goes on. It’s a good thing, but you will have to plan accordingly.)

3. Is it a prayer or a wish list?

Don’t fall into the trap of treating God like a celestial slot machine. When you pray remember to praise Him, and thank Him for all the good things in your life. Prayer should be a conversation, not just a list of all the things you need.

All prayers are answered, but sometimes the answer is, no, and sometimes it’s, wait. Remember, God sees all and knows what’s best for us.

For Biblical instruction in prayer, refer to Matthew 6;5-15.

4. Am I making God too small?

He is the creator of the universe, all knowing, and able to be everywhere at once. Nothing is too hard for God. He can handle all your problems and fears, and even your anger. He is interested in the day-to-day affairs of your life, and wants you to share them with Him.

Jeremiah 32:27 “Behold, I AM the LORD, the God of all flesh. Is there anything too hard for Me?

5. What about church?

No, you don’t have to attend church to be a heaven-bound Christian, but in Matthew 18:20 it says, “For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there I am in the midst of them.”

There is much strength and comfort to be found in gathering with others of like faith. The trick can be finding the right church, not a perfect church. The only perfect church is an empty one.

Things to look for:

1. Is the gospel being preached?

2. Are souls being added to God’s kingdom?

3. Is the church reaching out to improve the community?

4. Is love the prevalent attitude?

5. Is there unity of spirit and purpose?

6. Is there humility?

You may have to visit a number of churches to find the right one. It’s better to take your time and be sure, rather than join yourself to the wrong church.

(A note on tithing: It’s the preacher’s job to teach the congregation about tithing. It’s a good, sound, biblical principle. That said, if anyone suggests you can get rich by tithing or “sowing a seed” do not walk, run for the nearest exit.)

I wish you each a Merry Christmas, filled with love and light.

And leave you with a little something to consider.

“Oh little town of Bethlehem,
Looks like another silent night.
Above your deep and dreamless sleep
A giant star lights up the sky,
And while you’re lying in the dark
There shines an everlasting light.
For the King has left His throne
And is sleeping in a manger tonight, tonight.

Oh Bethlehem, what you have missed while you were sleeping?
For God became a man,
And stepped into your world today.
Oh Bethlehem, you will go down in history
As a city with no room for its King,
While you were sleeping,
While you were sleeping.

Mary shivers in the cold
Trying to keep the Savior warm,
Born among the animals wrapped in dirty rags,
Because there was no room for Him in the world He came to save.

United States of America,
Looks like another silent night
As we’re sung to sleep by philosophies
That save the trees and kill the children,
And while we’re lying in the dark
There’s a shout heard ‘cross the eastern sky.
For the Bridegroom has returned,
And has carried His bride away in the night.

America, what will we miss while we are sleeping?
Will Jesus come again,
And leave us slumbering where we lay?
America, will we go down in history
As a nation with no room for its King?
Will we be sleeping?
Will we be sleeping

United States of America,
Looks like another silent night.”

 

While You Were Sleeping

Casting Crowns – Peace On Earth

Romans 13:11 “And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed.”

I see many believers today working like demons (pun intended) to prove, to their fellow Christians and the rest of the world, how spiritual and holy they are. It’s one of the many traps religion, in place of relationship, will get you into. The Bible does call us to serve our fellow man Matthew 23:11But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant.”, but it does not say we must work in order to keep our salvation, and openly condemns working to gain the approval of others. Matthew 6:4-6And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.”

Matthew 11:28  Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” Does this mean that we shouldn’t work at all, and just expect God to take care of everything. Of course not! Remember the Proverb Yet a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep: So shall thy poverty come as one that travelleth; and thy want as an armed man.”(24:33,34) Laziness clearly leads to poverty, and we’ve all seen enough examples to know it’s true. Matthew is speaking of our salvation. Did Jesus say on the cross “Now go and do your part.”? No, He said, “It is finished” (John 19:30)

Let’s look at Ephesians 2:4-9 “But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved; ) And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” Our salvation is a “gift of God”, and we can do nothing to earn it. We can only accept it. If the only thing we get from all this is the realization that salvation is a gift and accept it, then we’ve done amazingly well. But there is more.

Galatians 4:4-8 Explains, But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons. And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father. Wherefore thou art no more a servant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.”  We’re adopted, heirs with Christ! What was promised to Him is also promised to us. Because of His sacrifice we receive not what we deserve, but what he deserves.

Look again at Ephesians 2:6 “And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus:” Notice the present tense? As far as our salvation is concerned it’s all done. There is nothing left for us to do, once we accept God’s gift.

Imagine being seated with Christ. You say to Him, “Lord, this is amazing and wonderful, but I don’t deserve it.”

And He says, “You’re right.”

“Lord, what can I do to deserve all of this? I was raised to earn my way. No one gets something, especially something this wonderful, for nothing!”

“There is nothing left for you to do.”

“But, Lord, this isn’t right. Surely I can do something, work as a missionary or feed the homeless. I could buy coats for poor children.”

“There is nothing.”

“Nothing?”

“It has all been done.”

You’re sitting there, surrounded by God’s glory and the beauty of heaven, and you realize it’s yours for eternity. Everything has been done, and there is nothing left for you to do. You see the love in His eyes, and as tears well up in your own you ask, “How can I ever repay you?”

With the kindest smile you’ve ever seen He says, “You can’t. It’s a gift.”

You whisper, “Can I at least do something to show you how much I love you?”

“Yes.” He says, “You can follow in my footsteps.”

We need to check our motivation. Are we working to earn “brownie points” with God? Are we working to impress others? Or are we working because we understand the incredible mercy and grace we’ve been given?

If everything has already been done, in Christ, why fight and struggle for power? Why be jealous or haughty? Why condemn and undermine? When we start from an attitude of rest we can truly “walk with God” and do the good works, He has given us to do, with a glad heart.