It's Not Too Late!

It doesn't matter what you've done, where you've been or how long you've been gone. God has not forgotten you and He certainly hasn't given up on you. The mere fact that you're wondering about Him and how He feels about you is proof of that. You see, we only come to God when He calls us. If you're thinking about your eternal soul and wondering if you can come back to God, it's only because He's causing you to wonder. The devil doesn't want you thinking about God. And your flesh (that includes your natural mind)doesn't want you to think about God. God is calling to your spirit. That is the part of you that is like Him and it's the part of you He talks to.
I know about those feelings you're having. When you know you've been saved by His grace and then you've wandered away from Him, you wonder if it's too late to go back or even if it's possible to go back! Your mind will tell you that you've waited too long and sinned too many times for God to care about you. The devil wants you to feel shame, the kind of shame that keeps you from talking to God, the kind of shame Adam and Eve felt when they hid from God in Garden of Eden. The devil knows that if you go to God and repent and ask to be forgiven, you will be!
God's mercies are new every day. He's willing to forgive and forget and love you like it never happened. As a matter of fact, He's never once stopped loving you! He may not have been pleased with your lifestyle and your actions, but He's never stopped loving you. And He's been waiting for you to return to Him. That's why those thoughts of Him are there in your spirit. He's calling!


Spiritual Decoder Ring

Remember those "secret decoder rings" you used to get in cereal boxes? There was a secret message written on the back of the box, but you had to have the decoder ring to read it. The lens in the ring made the words in the message visible.
I think that's the way "things" affect people. You know; money, power, fame, things like that. I've always heard it said that power corrupts people, but I don't think it works that way. I think that power and riches and fame only make  character flaws (that were there all along) visible, much like the decoder ring and the secret message. Power doesn't corrupt people, it just brings the corruption that was already there out into light!
The Bible doesn't say that money is the root of all evil, but that the love of money is the root of all evil. Sometimes money and power just make it possible for people to be their true selves! The evil was already there; envy, jealousy, greed and the like. The decoder ring of power and wealth just let us see it for what it was!


Who's converting who?

There's an old Tom T. Hall ballad about a lady preacher who, after preaching and seeing hundreds converted to Christianity, ran off with her guitar player and began living the worldly life. The last line of the final verse of the song has Tom T. Hall stating, "And I've often sat and wondered who it was converted whom?!".
Now, this post has nothing to do with women preachers, that just happened to be what the song was about. It's that final statement that intrigued me; "And I've often sat and wondered who it was converted whom?!".
I look around at the world system and then at the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ and wonder just who's converting who. Are they becoming more like Jesus or are we becoming more like them?! We're supposed to be light and salt. We're supposed to illuminate and preserve. We're supposed to be change agents. From what I see around me, we Christians are the ones being converted. The Bible warns that when salt loses it's flavour it's worthless. We need to stop trying to be so "progressive" and get back to the old way. Progress is only progress when your forward motion is moving you closer to your destination.


We Need Each Other

When you saw the title of this post, I bet you thought you were going to read about how we Christians are the body of Christ and we need each other. Well, that's true; we do need each other. But that's not what I'm thinking about today.
I've heard preachers preach that we need God, but God doesn't need us. They say that we need God for everything, everyday, but He has no need of us. After all, He's God! What could He possibly need us for?!
When I hear those kind of things preached, I always think back to Jesus saying that He is the vine and we are the branches. We know the branches need the vine; the vine is the source of nutrition and moisture for the branches. The vine is the source of life! But the vine needs the branches too! The branches bear the fruit. The vine feeds the branches and expects the branches to deliver the fruit! The purpose of the plant (the vine and it's branches) is to produce something!
Jesus needs us! I know that He is God and being all-powerful and all-knowing, He intrinsically needs nothing from anyone. He is able to do anything He wants without outside help. But, I also know that God has chosen to create us and to use us. It is His plan, not ours, to allow us to preach the Gospel and have a hand in the salvation of the world.
God has no limits except the limits He places upon Himself but He has limited Himself in that He will not be unjust or unrighteous. There are things that God can't do! He can't be unjust, unrighteous or a liar! Because of these things, He can't just come in and take away from Satan the authority Satan has over this world. God gave authority over this world to Adam and Adam (by choosing his own way over God's way} gave it to Satan. But God had a plan to righteously and legally return authority to us. He did it through Jesus Christ. Jesus is the vine, but the vine leaves the preaching and praying and witnessing to the branches! He supplies the strength and wisdom to do it, but He needs us to do it! That's His plan!
I know that I need God. I am more aware of that than anything else in my life! But, it makes me feel so blessed and so loved to know that God needs me! And He needs you too!


Why Do They Believe?

Why would someone believe in Jesus Christ? Some say it's because they're not very smart. You know, they believe all that superstitious stuff because they can't grasp real science. They need to believe the Bible in order to explain how everything works. Some say it's because they're weak. They believe because they're scared of everything and need to believe that God will take care of them because they can't take care of themselves. Some say it's because they're poor and they're just looking for a hero. They don't have anything here on Earth, so they fall for this "pie in the sky", "someday in Heaven we'll own everything" stuff.
Well,.. I don't know. It can't be that they believe because they're not smart. Low IQ isn't the answer. Some of our most celebrated scientists, doctors, lawyers and politicians are believers. It can't be that they believe because they're weak. Just watch the next pro football game. Some of the biggest, strongest guys there are believers. It can't be that they believe because they're poor and they need to believe just to have hope. Some of the most wealthy and influential people in the world are believers. So what's the answer? Why do they believe?
That... is the million dollar question! When you can answer that question honestly and without prejudice, you'll find true peace and happiness. If you're not afraid to look into this Jesus stuff with an open mind and without preconcieved notions, you'll be surprised at what you find!


Blood Bought

A prominent "spiritual" teacher is making his rounds on TV talk shows saying that Jesus didn't come to die for us, but to teach us how to live. According to him, Jesus' death on the cross wasn't God's way of restoring mankind to Himself (as the Bible plainly states), God only sent Jesus into the world to teach people how to live a good life!
I would agree that Jesus taught us how to live. He taught us to live holy, righteous, merciful, loving lives, always trusting in God and glorifying Him with our walk. But if Jesus hadn't died and took our sin upon Himself, it wouldn't matter how we live, we'd all be sinners headed for Hell! "Good" people don't go to Heaven, forgiven people do! We were born sinners and we needed a savior! Jesus is that Savior!
Satan knows he can't sell us an outright lie, so he peddles his half-truths. He starts with the truth and adds just enough error to get things off track, but not so much that it's obvious what he's done. If you don't study your Bible and pray for God's wisdom, it will all sound pretty good. Plus, he always makes it work out so that you are the center of attention and not God! He's still selling people that same old lie he sold to Adam and Eve: "you shall be as God..."! If you think you're storing up points by doing good things but haven't repented of your sin and asked Jesus to be your savior, you're going to be rudely awakened someday, literally!
Please don't fall for this junk. Read the Bible and be wise! Watch and pray!


The Right to Sow

Didn't Jesus hang out with the strangest sort of people?! I know He came to minister life to the lost, but He went beyond just ministering to them, He hung out with them! He ate with them, visited their homes and sat around the campfire with them! What was that all about?! Relationship, that's what it was all about.
I believe Jesus was showing us that you have to have a person's permission to sow into their life. You wouldn't just go next door into your neighbor's garden and start planting seeds would you? Well, you shouldn'! You don't have that right! You need permission from your neighbor to do that!
The Bible teaches that we are sowers sowing seed. The seed is the Word of God. Somehow we are under the impression that because we are sowing something we feel is good for a person, we should be able to sow into that person's life without their permission. Wrong! If you want to sow into someone's life, you need to build a relationship with that person and they will give you permission to sow. Then your seed will grow and produce. Relationships take time and some Christians don't want to take time. They want to blow in, preach a sermon and blow out again, on to the next field!
Jesus took time to build a relationship. He understood that people don't care how much you know until they know how much you care! He let people know that He loved them and cared about them, then He sowed the seed. Then He had the right to!
We'll all find our sowing more productive if we'll follow Jesus' lead. Build the relationship and then you'll have the right to sow in that field!


What's in a Name?

The Jewish people call Him Yahweh, the Christian people call Him Jehovah and the Muslim people call Him Allah. Some people say it doesn't matter what you call Him because there's only one God and He's the same for everyone. I agree that there is one God and no matter what you call Him, He's still the same and the name you choose to call Him doesn't change who He is. So what's the big difference in the religions? Is it just in the name they give to God? If so, aren't all the religions the same? Aren't they just different paths to the same destination?
It is true there's only one God. But it is also true that there's only one mediator between God and man - Jesus. Jesus said in the Bible that "no one comes to the Father except by me." He said that anyone who tries to come any other way is "a thief and a robber". Yes, there's only one God, regardless of the name you may call Him by. But He has determined a way to come to Himself and the Bible says that Jesus is that way. There are no alternate routes, no shortcuts and no bypasses. Jesus is the way!
If you choose to believe good works will get you to God, that's up to you. You have the right to choose for yourself. If you choose to believe that God will accept everyone into His presence after they die (He's too good to send anyone to Hell!), that's up to you too! It's your life and your free choice! I won't love you any less or treat you any differently because of it. But if you choose to go contrary to the Bible, remeber that you are turning your back on the very One who will judge you at the end of your life!
Jesus wasn't just a "great prophet" or a "good teacher". He either is the only way to the Father or He is a liar and a blasphemer! He either told the truth or He lied! It's that simple.


The Number One Thing

I had to be gone all day one Saturday, so I left instructions with my kids to get X,Y and Z done before I returned. Since X was the most important of the three I specifically told them to make sure it got done, even if the other things didn't. X was important and had to, had to, had to be done! I returned home to find Y done, Z partially done and no X. Apparently X was not only the most important thing, but also the hardest thing and so it was left for last and remained undone. Kids; I think they're the same all over the world!
Jesus talked to His disciples before He left them and told them some things they needed to do. Number one on the list was that they should love each other as He had loved them. This was first on the list because it was the most important. It had to be done before any of the other things would work right! He said the world would know that they were His because they loved each other. That would be their identifying mark.
But, apparently, we have decided that loving each other as He loves us is too hard. We've decided to skip ahead and do some of the other things and maybe get back to that later! Guess what?! Those other things are dependent upon that first thing. They won't work so well if the first thing is left out! Maybe that's why things are so messed up these days! We don't know how to follow instructions!
Christians of every denomination are running around like crazy doing all kinds of things "for the Kingdom", but we still fuss and fight about the simplest of differences. We don't love each other as He loves us. We don't carry that identifying mark for the world to see.The world sees a bunch of religious folks that can't even get along with each other, let alone save the lost!
Let's go back and work on that first thing so that all those other things will be effective.


His Hands

There's an old story I heard once about a farmer who always won first prize for his corn at the County Fair. It was always the biggest and juiciest and best-tasting corn year after year. After the County Fair the old farmer would always share his seed corn with all the other farmers in the area. A reporter who was covering the Fair one year for the newspapers noticed the farmer sharing his seed and thought it strange that he would share the prize winning seed with the very people he would be competing against the next year. He asked the farmer why he did this and the old farmer replied, " All these folks have farms that border mine. Because of cross-pollination, whatever corn they plant will always have an effect on the corn I plant. The winds and the bees will carry from their crops to mine and vice-versa. If their corn is inferior, it will cause mine to be less than it could be. By helping them have better corn, I'm only helping myself have better corn."
What a lesson! If we want to prosper, maybe we should help those around us prosper. My Pastor always says "Help thy brothers boat to the shore, and behold, thy boat will be there too!" I don't know where that originated, but it sure is true. Helping others is ultimately helping ourselves. If we want to have good corn, we need to make sure our neighbors have good corn. No man is an island and whatever we do affects others; either in a good way, or in a bad way.
Jesus said that we should love our neighbors as ourselves. I guess that's because when we love our neighbor, we're also loving ourselves! And it always puts us in the perfect place where God can bless us!


Where's Mine?

One of the most misunderstood things the Bible teaches us about God, our Father, is that He is "no respecter of persons". Most people seem to think that whatever God does for one person, He will do for the next person. People either go around mad at God because they think He did something for someone else and didn't do it for them, or their faith is shaken because they've been waiting for years for God to do something for them because He did it for someone else.
God certainly is no respecter of persons. He doesn't love one more than another, nor does He show favoritism to anyone. He is, however, a discerner of persons! In other words, He knows us intimately and judges us each on our own merits. I can't claim the blessings someone else gets if I'm not doing what that person is doing. Am I faithful, forgiving, merciful and generous? Am I faithful in prayer and Bible study? If that other person is and I'm not, how can I expect God to do for me what He does for them?
I know that the same blood of Jesus saves us all and His righteousness belongs to us all the same. I know that we are not saved by our works, but by faith. But I also know that God won't bless us if we are sinning and being unfaithful to Him. We can, through our actions or inaction, cut off the flow of God's favor! If one person is faithful and one is not, the unfaithful person can't expect the same blessings that the faithful person is receiving even if they quote "God is no respecter of persons" all day long!
I know that sometimes we have to be patient and wait upon the Lord and the things we ask for don't always appear immediately. But shouldn't we take a good close look at ourselves every now and then to make sure that what's holding up our blessing isn't us?!


I've Fallen and I Can't Get Up!

Remember that old TV commercial where the sweet old lady falls down and can't get up again so she calls for help on her little electronic device (or whatever it was they were hawking). She just sounded so pitiful saying "Help! I've fallen and I can't get up!" She was just lying there helpless waiting for someone to come along and help her up. The gist of the commercial was that she would have been in very dire straights had she not had that little device with her that allowed her to call for help. She could have laid there for many days crying out for help and no one outside her house would have been able to hear her. Thank goodness for that little device!
There have been times in my Christian life when I felt like I had fallen and couldn't get up. Ever been there? Lying there in the floor crawling around helplessly wondering if anyone could hear your cries for help? Wondering if anyone would care even if they did hear! I've been there! There's an old Merle Haggard tune called "I'm Always on a Mountain When I Fall" and that seems to be the way with me. When I fall, I fall far! It never seems to be the little stumble and spill that others take; It's from the rim of the Grand Canyon to the floor below!
The Bible warns us "Let Him that thinketh He standeth, take heed lest He fall." I Cor. 10:12. Sometimes we start thinking that we've made it, that we've got it all figured out. The next thing we hear is our faces hitting the floor. The good news is that we do possess a device much like that little old lady had. It enables our cries for help to be heard far beyond our own doorway; far, far beyond! It's called prayer. And it always finds the ear of someone who cares. Sometimes, whether out of shame and embarrassment or out of stubborness, we are relunctant to push the button and cry out. But, hey, it's either repent and ask for help or lie there in the floor forever! I've cried out so many times now that it's not even funny anymore. But never has God, my father, ever once chided me for falling or failed to rush to my rescue. He's so wonderful!
Maybe this all seems like I'm rambling, but I just feel like there's someone out there right now who's fallen and can't get up. I want you to know that you're not the Lone Ranger and you don't hold the record for falling down.