Salvation is Free But Owning it Costs Everything

Luke 13.24 commands, exert every effort to enter through the narrow door, because many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able to.

Consider God’s words about the cost of belonging to Him:

Matthew 6.15 But if you do not forgive others, your Father will not forgive you your sins.

Luke 9.24 For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it.

Luke 14.26 If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his own father and mother, and wife and children, and brothers and sisters, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple.

Luke 17.33 Whoever tries to keep his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life will preserve it.

John 6.53 I tell you the solemn truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in yourselves.

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Are We Focused on God’s Interests?

Matthew 16.23 observes, He turned and said to Peter, “Get behind Me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to Me, because you are not setting your mind on God’s interests, but on man’s.”

What are God’s interests? Do we really believe God has interests? Do we think those interests are simply that we be good?

The size of our god will determine the belief we have in that god’s interest in our life and in the world. If our god is small, distant and aloof, then that god will have only a minor interest in the world and what is going on. If our god is small then he will only be concerned with our moral behavior, setting the standard at our doing our best to be good.

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What Does God Hate?

Hosea 9.15 observes, The LORD says, All their wickedness began at Gilgal; there I began to hate them. I will drive them from my land because of their evil actions. I will love them no more because all their leaders are rebels.image

Gilgal was a holy place. It was where Joshua landed with the people of Israel when he miraculously crossed the Jordan river into the promised land. It was the place where Samuel the prophet would make the will of God known to those who needed His judgement.

Gilgal was where God changed His mind about Saul being king as a result of Saul disobeying God by offering the sacrifice only the priest was to perform. Perhaps it is this last act that Hosea refers to when describing the leaders history of rebellion.

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Praying with Results

Daniel 10.12 encourages, don’t be afraid, Daniel. Since the first day you began to pray for understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your request has been heard in heaven. I have come in answer to imageyour prayer.

Imagine praying and an angel or Jesus Himself showing up to say your prayers have been heard and I have come in response. That would be pretty incredible. That was Daniel’s experience.

Why did God listen to Daniel? Daniel did two things any of us can do and if we do them we can be confident that our prayers too will be heard.

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How Do You Decide Right From Wrong?

Deuteronomy 7.26 commands, do not bring any detestable objects into your home, for then you will be destroyed, just like them. You must utterly detest such things, for they are set apart for destruction.image

The people of God are to reflect the character and nature of God. The Bible puts it this way, we are to be holy as God is holy.

Often the attempt to be like God has resulted in a stiff religion, a legalism, that makes experiencing God or attracting others to Him all but impossible.

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The Church is the Hope of the World

Isaiah 1.4 describes, Oh, what a sinful nation they are—loaded down with a burden of guilt. They are imageevil people, corrupt children who have rejected the Lord.

The book of Isaiah could be describing the current Church and culture in America today. The description of course is general but so much is apropos to our nation that it bears reading, praying and pondering over. 

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What do YOU think about God?

Acts 3:19 encourages us to change our mind and attitude to God and turn to Him so He can cleanse away our sins and send us wonderful times of refreshment from the presence of the Lord.image

What do we really believe about God?

It is perhaps the most important question we will ever ask and answer for ourselves. Our belief in God determines our values which are reflected in our actions so not only is this question paramount individually but collectively as well.

Do we really believe in God and if so what do we believe about God, His requirements, values and promises?

The answer to these questions determine how we live today and the destiny we believe is to come. If God is real then the future He has declared will come whether we believe in it or not. God is not a creation of our belief, our beliefs only reflect our understanding and commitment to the Creator.

Mankind has always believed in God yet that understanding of Who God is has been as diverse as humanity itself. Why?

If there really is only one God why are there are so many versions of Him?

The Bible gives two answers to this question. First, we chose to disobey Him from the beginning of our ancestry causing us to break intimacy with God leading us to the creation of whatever gods worked for us. These gods are vain, petty and aloof, much like the people who created them.

Second, we are egotists bent on having our own way. The last thing we want is a God Who demands that we submit to Him. We prefer gods who promise blessings now and virgins forever rather than obedience now and worship forever.

Christianity is the only religion to declare God as One Who made everything that is and was and ever will be, Who has Himself entered our world as a Man in order to clearly communicate with humanity Who He is and What He requires.

If we really want peace with God and the pleasure of knowing the Creator of our souls then we would do well to change our minds and attitudes about God and get to know Him as He identifies Himself in the Bible and in Jesus Christ the Lord.

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Fear of Giving

Matthew 25:24 confesses I was afraid You would rob me of what I earned.images

Giving is a sensitive subject in the Church. Why is it sensitive? Because like the man who hid his talent for fear of God requiring more from him so too many fear giving to God lest He require more from them than they are willing to pay.

The assumption is that we have and God needs. The truth is He has and we have needs.

In God’s kindness, mercy and love He has provided for us through creation, our talents and our effort.

In the beginning God promised the man that the earth would provide for him though he would have to work through the thorns and thistles it would endlessly yield.

Most Christians believe God can be bought off with ten percent of their income though the smallest minority even give that much. The truth is God owns everything for He created all things and He sustains all things by His life giving Spirit.

This world is temporary but our proving grounds for testing our loyalty and obedience to God manifested in our surrender of life and means for the furtherance of His will being done on earth as it is in heaven.

Those who fear God will demand more from them than they are willing to pay are in danger of reaping the same reward as the man in Jesus’ parable: eternal damnation.

Those who use what God has given them to create an increase for God’s glory upon the earth will reap the reward of eternal blessing from God.

The Scripture declares that this world is not the Christian’s home. A new heaven and a new earth is coming where those who faithfully served God on this earth will live forever in great peace, joy and abundance.

Believing that God is good means investing now in God’s good ways looking forward to God’s good world where He will live with His people forever.

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The Truth about God

Matthew 24:10 promises many of you shall fall back into sin and betray and hate each other.image

Sometimes its really hard to see Jesus in the lives of Christians. I too wonder how my own children will ever become true believers after watching me for very long.

The problem with the perception of what Christianity is comes from false advertising within our own ranks of what Christianity promises. We invite people who are struggling in life to get right with God so that He can make their lives better.

Herein lies the fallacy: God makes no such commitment but rather promises trouble will continue in this world and most likely will increase if we keep telling others that no one can get to heaven apart from following Jesus the Savior.

It is after praying to God and expecting Him to fix our lives and they don’t get better that we become disillusioned and frustrated with Christianity. We were sold a lie.

When God lived among us as Jesus the Messiah He never promised our best life now, He promised trouble now with our best life to come after we leave this world if we are faithful to Him until the end of our days no matter how much we suffered for Him while living on this earth.

Jesus’ invitation was to deny ourselves, take up our cross (the means of our own death to selfish living) and follow Him in absolute surrender, allegiance and obedience.

Jesus promised peace with God but enmity within our own family as a result of our absolute allegiance to Him. It’s not that God is anti-family He just understood those who want nothing to do with God exist within our own families and they don’t like it when we implore them to repent, to stop sinning against God, so that they can be forgiven by God and likewise receive the promise of everlasting life in heaven.

It is very frustrating when God doesn’t do what we expect Him to do especially when others who supposedly know Him tell us He will do for us all the good things we have always wanted for ourselves.

Our purpose for coming to Jesus as the Savior is to receive forgiveness for our sins against God for which we shall receive eternal condemnation if we don’t come to Him now.

Our purpose for following Jesus is to learn to live life now with joy and peace and God’s presence through His Spirit in spite of our circumstances not because our circumstances became more friendly.

Our purpose for coming to Jesus is so that we can become children of God whereby we now call Him Father and so look forward to the new heavens and new earth He will soon create where we will live our best lives forever.

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Help for Doing Good

Psalm 143:10 asks help me to do Your will, for You are my God.image

To obey God and live a life pleasing to Him is a very difficult objective. God Himself said it would be hard when He described the road that leads to life as being narrow and hard thus observing only a few were upon it.

The Christian religion separates itself from the secular philosophy of inherent goodness.

Modern education, media and psychology teach that people are basically good but that the environment, is what makes people bad. This environment could be parents, Church, school, neighborhood or government. People do bad things because they have had bad experiences and people would do only good things if they always had good experiences they believe.

So why did the first person go bad?

Christianity teaches people are born inherently sinful, prone to selfishness which leads to rebellion against God and enmity with our neighbor. All of us who have children know this to be true. We never teach them to bully, hoard, steal, or rebel yet from infancy they demonstrate these inherent traits in their relationships with other children and their parents.

The good news is that God wants us good and has promised to provide us the means for being good as He defines it.

His definition of what is good is found in the Bible. His strength for doing it is found in Him through His Spirit made possible through the sacrificial work of the Son. Yet we live in these bodies that are from birth inherently bent toward self and away from what is good.

Herein lies the struggle.

Until we pass from this life to the next where God promises a new body that is incorruptible we who desire to be good and to do good must seek God for help and wrestle daily against our natural selves that wants nothing to do with God or His goodness.

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