Jesus is My Life-Jacket

No one is looking for a savior unless they know they need to be saved. It's like trying to give a life-jacket to someone who's a good swimmer; they don't see the need for it and therefore, it's just something that will get in the way of their swimming. People who don't understand how sin separates us from God, won't be very receptive to hearing about Jesus. They don't see why they need Him and therefore, He'll just get in the way of their living.
A life-jacket will keep your head up above water and keep you from drowning, but if you're a good swimmer you can hold your own head up and the life-jacket just restricts you from swimming freely the way you want to. People who don't know they're sinners feel the same way about Jesus; they feel like they are good people who are living good lives and Jesus would just restrict them from living their lives the way they want to. If I felt like I could do everything for myself, why would I look for help? And why would I want someone telling me how to do something and cramping my style when I feel like I am perfectly capable of doing it myself?
Until the Holy Spirit convinces a person of their sin and they see for themselves how helpless they are on their own, they will not want or accept Jesus. Until they see they need saving, they won't be looking for a savior. Sometimes we spend a lot of time talking to certain people (maybe a relative or an especially good friend) about Jesus and nothing seems to happen. We tend to get frustrated and end up just "bugging" that person. We need to pray that the Holy Spirit convince them of their sin and move on to someone else until He does. You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him drink. Until he's thirsty and needs water, he's not going to drink it. You can lead a man to Jesus, but you can't make him get saved. Until he knows he's lost he won't be looking for someone to rescue him.
I've had a few hard things happen in my life and they certainly weren't any fun. But those things helped me to see my need for Jesus and I am eternally grateful. I believe that is why Jesus said that poor people are blessed; it's because they don't have money and worldly possessions to trust in and turn to Jesus and trust in Him for everything. When you trust in Jesus you don't have to stay poor (I believe He wants us to prosper in everything we do), but putting Him first and trusting His promises is the first step to true prosperity.
Jesus is my life-jacket and I'm holding onto Him as tightly as I can. I know He will bring me through high and dry.

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Needy People

I need Jesus. Yes, I love Him and want Him in my life, but the real truth is that I NEED Him. I know what kind of person I am without Him. When Paul said "in my flesh no good thing dwells", he hit the nail on the head. On my own I am selfish and weak and almost every vice has some level of hold on me. I have experienced life without Him and I have experienced life with His help and His strength; I need Jesus! I don't want to ever live a day without Him! I want Him to lead and guide me, tell me where to go and what to do, and use my life to see that His will is done. I need Jesus; and so do you.

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Rules and Relationship

When I was a very small child, I obeyed my parents rules because I didn't want to get into trouble; I didn't want to get a spanking or have my toys taken away. I didn't understand why there had to be so many rules and many times I figured my parents made rules just because they could. As I grew (in size and understanding), I began to see the reasons behind the rules. I saw that my parents made and enforced rules because they loved me and wanted to protect me from harm. Seeing the love behind the rules changed everything. I no longer had to wonder why the rules existed, I knew it was because my parents loved me and I began to obey their rules, not because I wanted to stay out of trouble, but because I loved my parents. Their love for me made me love them and I obeyed their rules because I didn't want to hurt them. I had gone from obedience because I had to, to obedience because I wanted to.
There's an old saying that goes like this: "rules without relationship equals rebellion". The relationship makes all the difference! When I was young, I obeyed the 10 Commandments because I was afraid not to. After I understood how much God loves me, I began to love Him in return and started cultivating a relationship with Him. Now I obey Him because I love Him. God didn't give His commandments just to boss us around; He wants us to be blessed and prosper and He wants us to be like Him! The commandments were given to show us that we need Him to live blessed and prosperous lives! We can't do anything on our own. Our relationship with Him is the most important thing in life!

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Feelings of Inadequacy

There's a song performed by the group Audio Adrenaline called "Man of God". It's one of those songs that, when you listen to it, you say to yourself, "I know how he felt when he wrote that song!". The song is about a man's struggle with being a Christian and being a flesh-and-blood human at the same time. It is essentially a song about learning to accept God's mercy and grace when you've messed up.... again.
We all make mistakes. We all come up short of the mark now and then. We're human and as long as we're alive we're going to struggle with our human-ness. The flesh and the spirit are constantly struggling and we don't always follow the spirit as we should; sometimes we allow the wants of the flesh to win out. The chorus of the song says "Sometimes I'm a man of God; sometimes I'm alright. Sometimes I lay down, close my eyes, and pray to God.". I think we've all had nights like that. How we should live doesn't always jive with how we do live!
We have to learn to let grace do it's job. We all make the same mistakes and God knows we are only dust! He has told us that if we repent and ask for forgiveness, he'll not only forgive us, but he'll cleanse us from the unrighteousness that we brought upon ourselves as well! He'll not only forgive and forget, but he'll take away that dirty feeling in our consciences too! Another line of the song says "If I make it I'm a good man; am I a bad man if I fail? I know I'm never good enough, so I let grace prevail.". Those are true words to live by! Learn to let grace prevail; let grace do it's job!
I'm not saying we should live any old way we want to and expect God to like it. I'm saying that we shouldn't let past mistakes ruin the future. When we mess up we should run to God, not away from Him! Repent, accept forgiveness (don't forget to forgive yourself!) and keep on keeping on! Don't let something bad you did yesterday keep you from doing the good you can do today. If God is willing to forgive us, we should accept His mercy and be thankful.

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Broken Machines

"Without your love I'm just a broken machine." - Newsboys

We tend to think of machines as being made of metal with gears and motors and things. But I think human beings are machines. We aren't alive on our own; we're not alive just because we want to be. We are animated by an outside source; God! The Bible says that Jesus lights every one who comes into the world. Without Him putting a spirit into our bodies, we would be lifeless! We are, in essence, spirit-animated biological machines. When our spirits leave our bodies, our bodies cease to function and we become lifeless machines. Doctors can keep the biological machine running with man-made machinery, but it's real life is gone when it's spirit has departed.
God created man's body from the dust of the Earth but it wasn't alive or animated until God breathed the breathe of life into it. At the point where God's breath (spirit) came into contact with man's body, a soul formed and man became a living being. We are alive because God wants us to be! And God doesn't owe us life, He gives it because He loves us.
Until we believe in Jesus as our savior, our spirit animates us, but it is not fully functioning. We are living, but broken, machines. Our spirits are supposed to be our link to God. We hear from Him and communicate to Him through our spirits. Because of sin, we are separated from God and our spirit can't do it's job. For all practical purposes, our spirits are dead to God. If something stops working right we say it is dead (because it is incapable of doing what it was designed to do). I would compare a sinner to a Ham radio set without an antennae; it still turns on, lights up and makes noise, but it is incapable of sending or receiving signals, which is it's purpose. It is a broken machine!
When we come to God on His terms (through Jesus Christ), fellowship with Him is restored and our spirits begin to function properly; but without His love, we're just broken machines.

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It's How You Interpret the Data

Look around. Look at all the different kinds of living things. Life is everywhere! People of all colors and shades, male and female; animals galore; millions of species of plant life; all living here together on a great spinning orb hanging in space. We take it all for granted, but it's truly amazing when you stop to think about it.
I know a lot of people "believe" in evolution. They argue that we have no creator and that we have evolved from lower species over many years. They say they can't see how, in this day and age, anyone could believe in a God and in creation. They say we should have outgrown all that superstition by now. They point to scientific research and archaeological findings to prove evolution and disprove a creator.
I see the same scientific research and archaeological findings as proof that there must be a creator. I believe that the more our scientist learn about the complexities of life the more it proves there is a creator. How could anything this complex and interconnected just happen!? I don't think Darwin himself would believe in evolution if he were living today! When he proposed his theory, he had no way of knowing how intricately we are made. I'm sure he knew we were complicated beings, but he had absolutely no understanding of the wonderful things that we know today about how the human body works. We still know hardly anything about how and why our brains work the way they do! Just imagine what we'll know in 10 years!
I see evolution as the superstition, not God! Only an intelligent, creative, imaginative, loving creator could have built such a wonderfully intricate system.
It seems to me that everywhere our scientific research takes us, the Bible has already been there! Science proves God. The Bible says that no one has any legitimate reason to doubt God's existence; everything around us is proof of His intelligence and love!

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New Heaven and a New Earth

I was taught as a young Christian that Heaven is a our great reward; that we will all live together in Heaven in the presence of God for eternity. I always took that as the truth since that is all I ever heard preached. And while I do look forward to seeing Heaven and being with the LORD, I believe the scriptures teach something considerably different about eternity than what I've always heard.
I believe we will see Heaven when Jesus returns or when we die, if we die before He returns. But I don't think that is where we will stay for eternity. We didn't come from Heaven, nor were we created for Heaven; we were created for the Earth, from the dust of the Earth. There will be a new Earth as well as new heavens above the Earth and all will be returned to the perfection of Eden. The new Jerusalem will come down out of Heaven (a 1500 mile cubicle) and the Lamb of God will be our King! I believe we will rule and reign along with Jesus in the new Jerusalem, on the new Earth, under the new heavens for eternity!
God's original plan was to create the Earth and rule over it from Heaven through us. I don't think His plan has ever changed. God knows the end from the beginning. He knew humanity would fall and would need a Saviour. God didn't send Jesus to redeem us so we could go to Heaven; He redeemed us so that we could do what He created us to do from the start: to rule over the Earth under His authority! God did not surrender the Earth to the devil. God will ultimately destroy the devil and his demons and will return the Earth to us and we will live here in glorified bodies forever with Jesus as our King!
Study the scriptures and see what lies ahead for us! Our Father in Heaven has everything worked out! He makes a way where there is no way! I'm looking forward to everything being made new and beautiful and perfect. I'm looking forward to being with Jesus forever. I'm looking forward to eternity!

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God Speaks for Himself

God does not hate fags (nor would He call a human being a "fag")! Forgive my use of that "word", but I am quoting a sign which said "God Hates Fags!", held up by a church member during a rally to protest the war in Iraq . God hates sin. God loves people. The Bible is God's word to people and in it He speaks for Himself ; He doesn't need a multitude of "lower-court-judges" to speak for Him! As Christians, we are no one's judge. Yes, we agree with God's judgment against sin and evil, but we must remember that judging is His job, agreeing with Him is ours. If God says it is sinful, then it is! But God sent Jesus to die for the sin of the world so that we can be cleansed from it; He doesn't throw us away because we mess up and get entangled with sin! God loves people!
We are called to love people because God loves people. If we are His, He has shed His love abroad in our hearts.We must call sin sin and stand up for the truth, but we are never supposed to hate people. Anyone who hates their neighbor doesn't belong to God and they certainly don't speak for Him! Every human being, regardless of race, sex, or anything else, was created in God's image and Jesus died to save them from eternal separation from God.
At the judgment of the saints, Christians will answer to Jesus for every hateful word they speak. And if their hateful words cause someone to be lost, that persons blood is on their hands.

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Fear Factor

The Bible says that the fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom. In other words, if we don't fear God, we have no wisdom (the fear of Him being the very beginnings of wisdom). If He is our loving Heavenly Father, why then should we be afraid of Him? Shouldn't we come into His presence unafraid and at peace knowing that it is His will and desire to fellowship with us?
I don't believe the Bible is talking about fear the way we humans think about fear and being afraid. When we think about being afraid of someone or something, we think of running away and avoiding something we believe is about to harm us. God loves us and He is not about to harm us, so why talk about fearing Him? Some say that the Bible isn't talking about fear, but reverence; we should be in awe of God and reverence Him, not fear Him. I agree that we should reverence Him and be in awe of Him, but I also believe the Bible is correct when it says we should fear Him. God is dangerous! Matthew 10:28 says that we should not fear those who can only kill the body, but fear Him who can destroy both soul and body!
To be wise and safe, we humans naturally assign everything and everyone in our lives a fear factor. The fear factor is determined by the potential for harm that person or thing is capable of causing us. In my life a grizzly bear would have a higher fear factor than a snake; a snake would have a higher fear factor than a spider; a spider would have a higher fear factor than a mosquito, and so on. What could possibly have a higher potential for harming me than an Almighty God?! God is the most dangerous being there could ever be!
If I fear God more than anyone or anything else why do I not run from Him?; why do I run to Him instead? I assign a high fear factor to a grizzly bear, but if He is in a cage, I know I am safe from him. I believe that God loves me and that His promises to take care of me and protect me are true. In effect, God has "caged" Himself in by His promises. I think that is why people who understand God's love run to Him and people who don't understand God's love run from Him.
When we give God the highest fear factor, that places everything and everyone else under Him, as they should be. Even though we know that God loves us and is for us, not against us, He still is the most potentially dangerous being there is. I love Him, but I fear Him.

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