What is most important?

John 6:27 commands you shouldn’t be so concerned about perishable things like food, no, spend your energy seeking the eternal life. images

What are we giving our time to? To what are we devoting the bulk of our energy? The simple answer is our basic needs and wants, at least that’s what we tell ourselves.

God says this is foolishness, a misuse of our time. Don’t we find this amazing?

God is not comparing our need for Him and life eternal with our excess or surplus but rather with what we would consider basic to our survival.

We feel we have the right, the need, the requirement to put work, food, clothing and housing above everything else, including the pursuit of God and obedience to His will. Yet God commands we seek first Him and His kingdom and trust Him by faith to provide the essentials we need for living.

We justify ignoring Him and His will by our pursuit of money, work, and what we determine to be the essentials.

This is the reason for God demanding we put Him first, we love Him most, we make His will and not our own supreme:so that we don’t place Him and His ways second in our life.

How many of us really live this way? How many of us really know what living a God first life looks like?

What will be the consequence for our failure to make God our first love and greatest priority.

We already see the effects of Christian self-centered living in our culture as it lives increasingly ignorant of God and in disregard of His commands.

God’s ways are not hard. God’s ways are not burdensome. God’s ways make our lives full, lead to the best relationships and end without regret.

What the world needs more than anything else is for God’s children to live with God as their greatest love and His will their greatest priority.

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Worthy of Heaven

Luke 20.35 promises those who are counted worthy of being raised from the dead get to heaven. images

Everyone will live for eternity according to the Word of the eternal God. Not everyone will spend that eternity with God in heaven or upon the new earth instead many will spend eternity in torment and suffering in hell.

Getting to heaven is like getting a job for which we have no education or skill but was given to us by the owner because He loves us. This job pays well and is a joy to do every day. While the job was not earned but given freely still the owner expects production from the employee and not idle wasting of His time or resources. The owner evaluates the employee by his performance based upon his ability to accomplish the assigned work.

The Scripture repeats two themes about eternity: it cannot be earned through any amount of good deeds we can perform but must be received as a gift from God paid for by the work of Jesus the Savior.

Second, people are judged by what they do for God toward other people particularly the work of helping people know God and love Him as demonstrated by living obedient lives to God.

All of the judgment passages in the Bible revolve around the actions, as opposed to the beliefs, done by people whether for God and with God or against God and in disregard for God.

Heaven is free because Jesus worked for humanity’s ability to go there but it is maintained by a person’s following of Jesus doing the works He did in the manner He did them for the purpose He gave them: the glory of His Father and the building of His Kingdom.

To believe in God but do nothing for God does not make us worthy of living forever with God.

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Rewards of our Work

Luke 19.11 explains He told a story to correct the impression that the Kingdom of God would begin right away.images

Jesus brought the Kingdom of God from heaven to earth for He is the King of heaven and earth so where He is the Kingdom of God is also. Yet He told us to pray that His Kingdom would come and His will be done on earth as it is in heaven for the Kingdom of God is not yet established upon the earth as it will be when the King returns to reign forever.

Glimpses of the Kingdom can be seen and felt through people whose lives are now filled with the King’s Spirit.

The Kingdom of God waits for the people of God to use their talents and treasure to build the Kingdom of God upon the earth. This building is not of brick but of the Spirit as increasingly more men and women come to know the King as Savior Who is Jesus, God made man.

The story Jesus told was one of three men who chose or didn’t choose to use the treasure they were given by the king to further the king’s interest in his absence. In the end, his will people were judged by their effectiveness at increasing the king’s influence upon the earth. To those who did much for the king they received a great reward but to him who did nothing for the king, he was condemned even though he believed the king would one day return.

The story reminds the people of God that their primary responsibility is to use their God given resources to bring God’s Kingdom to earth which is the increase of His influence in the lives of people.

The degree to which we see and experience God’s Kingdom around us is the degree to which His people are working to make it happen.

If the people of God are winning people to Jesus and teaching them to obey His commands using their resources generously for this work then we will experience the presence of God but if the people of God are not working or investing in Kingdom work then our society will appear as though God were not here at all.

Which do you think is happening?

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How to get more Faith

Luke 17.5 proclaims we need more faith, tell us how to get it.images

The Apostles were not asking Jesus for faith but for more faith.

The usual response for gaining faith is by hearing God’s Word. When the Apostle Paul taught this truth, the faith he was discussing was saving faith – faith that accompanies those who move from ignorance or indifference to God to love for God in Jesus the Savior.

The Apostles had this faith but they wanted more faith in order to do the works Jesus did.

Jesus did not give the Apostles ‘the ten steps to more faith’ or some other magic formula. Instead, Jesus told them a story about servants doing what they are supposed to do without seeking any kind of personal recognition.

The Apostles wanted more faith so they could do great things for God, and maybe for some personal accolades too.

God wants people to obey Him without seeking credit for any success they might have in their service for Him.

It is hard to serve without recognition. Everyone asks themselves, ‘what’s in it for me,’ before giving or doing anything.

Greater faith is a by-product of greater love for God in Jesus.

The more our love for Him increases the more our obedience to Him increases and the more our faith in Him increases.

Obedience is the practical means by which we demonstrate our love for God and our loyalty to God before people.

Obedience to God is doing the practical, ordinary things that demonstrate God’s love for people to others as we go about our day as His servants.

God is not interested in our doing great things for Him, He is interested in us doing things for others in obedience to Him which cause people to see how great God is.

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How Many will get to Heaven?

Luke 13.23 reports someone asked Him, will only a few be saved?images

Unlike all other religions of the world, the Christian religion teaches that God became a man in order to speak to us, model to us and sacrifice for us so that we could live forever with Him if we humble ourselves and follow Him.

As God in Man living among us it was God’s big chance to clearly communicate to humanity what was most important to Him and which is eternally true.

In this chapter of the Bible God begins to teach that people must stop disobeying God or they will suffer eternal punishment. Someone finally asks Jesus will only a few be saved or live with God in paradise forever?

Now is God’s chance to confirm what so many believe that God is loving (He is), and that in the end God will let everyone into heaven because love never enforces consequences for bad behavior.

While God is love He is also holy which means He requires certain behaviors, He condemns other behaviors and will ultimately judge every person by His standard which He communicated to us in Jesus and throughout history as recorded in the Bible.

So what is God’s answer to how many people will be in heaven?

Only a few will make obedience to God a higher priority than being politically correct. Today the intelligent, the socially acceptable, the good people of our society deny marriage as being only between one man and one woman, condone and praise homosexual behavior and support the choice of a woman over the life of a child.

God will reward the faithful because He is loving but He will condemn the disobedient because He is holy.

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Being for God

Luke 11.23 observes anyone who is not for Me is against Me. images

What does it mean to be ‘for’ something?

Is it like putting on the colors of our local sports team then wearing them to the game to cheer the players onto victory? Many would agree, making Sunday the time Christians go to the game to cheer on the single player whose performance determines their own value of the time spent watching.

God is not so easily pacified for God calls His people to work and not to passively cheer a few.

The failure of so many Christians to be ‘for’ God Monday through Saturday explains why our society is increasingly more godless and hostile to the ways of God. The failure of God’s people to be for His cause has turned the hearts of most against the ways of God the truth of which is daily displayed on our televisions.

To be for God is to be part of His work in bringing His Kingdom to earth as it is in heaven. In heaven God is acknowledged, loved and served as absolute King of all in complete obedience to His will.

Those who are truly for God will demonstrate the wisdom of God and the goodness of God by obeying His commands before people living self-absorbed lives who find them unsatisfying and futile.

Living for God is to help as many people on a daily basis see, hear and experience the love of God through the risen Jesus Who now lives by His Spirit in the hearts and minds of those who are truly on His team.

God has not rescued people from death to be cheerleaders but has empowered His people to be players in the game of life and death, heaven and hell, in order to win every person into His eternal Kingdom.

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All Religion is not Equal

Luke 10.16 claims those who reject Me are rejecting God Who sent Me. images

There are many people who believe all religions are the same.

These same people have not reviewed the various religions to realize there are tremendous differences among them.

Christianity is the only religion to claim that God Himself became a human being in order to ensure our comprehension of Who He is and what He requires from us while simultaneously sacrificing His humanity as penalty for all the evil all of humanity has ever done against God.

Within Christianity are various denominations which are not the same as different religions. As there are many kinds of trees but all are trees and not birds so there are many kinds of Christianity but they are not different religions.

When God lived among us as Jesus He drew a line in the sand that He must be loved, obeyed and worshiped if people were going to be pardoned by God for their evil deeds done against Him.

No other religion is acceptable to God for pardoning humanity for all other religions deny God has come and lived among us and sacrificed Himself so that He could forgive all those who come to Him seeking eternal life.

If there is a God it makes sense that there is only one God.

If there is only one God it makes sense there is only one approved way of obtaining His favor.

God does not discriminate against people of any race, tongue or time for He created all people and loves all people deeply but He does discriminate against all religions that deny His appearing in Jesus and His work as Savior on the cross.

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Called out by God

Luke 6.13 recalls He called together His followers and chose twelve of them. images

After watching Jesus heal everyone who came to Him and hearing Him speak words about God that moved their hearts toward Him many sought Jesus just to be with Him.

Jesus was a rock star in His hometown and everyone wanted to be in His band. As everyone is called to Him Jesus selects twelve by name to be His inner circle.

Imagine the joy of being hand-picked by God to be on His team. Imagine the disappointment at being passed-over during the selection process. A similar anguish and ecstasy can be seen on ESPN during whatever draft day is being televised.

While everyone is welcome to follow Jesus as their Savior only a few were chosen by Him to be their leaders. This gathering and selection was a fore shadow of a future draft that will occur among all people from all time.

Billions will be gathered before God when He opens His book and begins to read the names of all those who will now compose His eternal kingdom.

We will all watch as people are selected and will see their joy at being singled-out for eternal life with God.

We will all feel that pit in our stomach anticipating our name being read as one of those whom God will allow to enter His Kingdom.

We will also see the horror on the faces of those who were not called by God when He closes His book and begins to separate the children of God from those who denied Him and disobeyed Him during their time on earth and so are now sent into the eternal fires of suffering and torment wishing with all their being they would have made a different choice when they had the chance.

A draft is coming; making the team requires submitting to the Lordship of Jesus now so life can be gained forever.

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Rescued from Suffering

Exodus 2.25 proclaims He knew that the time had come for their rescue.images

400 years is a long-time to live as slaves. Generation after generation had cried-out to the Lord for help to no avail.

Suffering without response from God is a fairly common theme among the heroes of the Bible.

Joseph spent three years in prison. Moses spent forty years in exile. David spent 14 years as a fugitive. Paul spent two years in prison on at least two separate occasions. God Himself, in Jesus, was jailed, beaten and crucified by men. God had a plan in all of these circumstances to be accomplished in His perfect time.

We are ready for our rescue the moment of our capture but God uses these things both to refine us and to shame the world.

Since our rebellion against God when we decided we wanted to be like God (in control, unaccountable, know everything, do anything) instead of submissive to God, we have suffered under the consequences of a world and its inhabitants gone awry.

God has a plan to rescue everyone who will come to Him in humble submission before Him seeking His rescue. The world was created by God for God which means life is not about us but about Him.

Until we fully surrender in our hearts to God we will continue to chaff at the troubles we experience and we all experience troubles because we and the world are broken.

God is good and God is love which makes submitting to Him not harsh or burdensome but instead it leads to life abundant. When our hearts and minds are filled with the knowledge that God is good and His ways are best then we can persevere in confidence, peace and even joy through our suffering.

We shall not always suffer, a new world waits where suffering doesn’t exist, but it is reserved for those who fully surrendered to God and His love now regardless of their circumstances.

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Less talk more walk

1 Corinthians 4.20 records the kingdom of God is not just talking it is living by God’s power. images

There is a saying, ‘what we need is a lot less talk and a lot more action:’ this might be no more true than in the Church.

It is certainly easier to profess to be a Christian than it is to live like Jesus.

Many people claim to be Christians because they believe in God yet the devil believes in God but is certainly no Christian.

Obedience to God is the mark of the Christian just as obedience to God was the mark of the Savior.

Putting feet to our faith is evident when we work toward helping others become fellow lovers of God.

The goal of Jesus’ training of His disciples was that they become fishers of men; no doubt this is His same goal for His current disciples epitomized in His command for His followers to go and make disciples. If we are not involved in helping people love Jesus we are not doing the work to which we have been assigned.

Second, we live by God’s power when we reflect God’s character to the world.

Living among people in a Spirit of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control is not possible apart from God’s Spirit living within us, working-out His nature through us. Daily we have opportunity to forgive, overlook, return kindness for evil, help, serve and just generally love others: doing those things make God’s presence within us obvious as the world lives increasingly more self-absorbed, angry and indifferent.

Jesus lived His life in such a way that people were attracted to God then He shared with people how He alone is the bridge to God.

This is the life of the true Christian, the person who isn’t just talking but walking-out their life in Christ.

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