Heirs of God…

The Book of John tells a great story of the life and ministry of Jesus Christ. But in this passage, we are also reminded specifically in verses 12-13 that we have a right to become “children of God.”

John 1:1-13

1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. 4 In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. 5 And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.

6 There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. 7 This man came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all through him might believe. 8 He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light. 9 That was the true Light which gives light to every man coming into the world.

10 He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. 11 He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him. 12But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: 13 who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.

Now if we just simply say that we are His children, and we attempt to compare what kind of life we will have, we may be disappointed – that is if you think you must live just like Jesus and that your life is really about what you do here on earth. However, our life is more about what we will get to do beyond this current life and into our future life.

Romans 8:16-17    The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together.

Romans 8:16-17 states that as children, we are also heirs, and not just heirs, but heirs of God. What therefore, belongs to God, will also then become ours – that is when we are “born of God” (Remember from John 1:13 above, we must born of God – i.e. accepting Salvation from Him).

Have you ever thought about being a child of God? As children of God, we will share in God’s Kingdom as His heirs. To me, that’s a wonderful thought. God has accepted us as His children and His plan for the end of times will be shared with us as we are “glorified together” with Him (Romans 8:17).

The lesser known Psalm 24

As I blogged about Psalm 23, I realized that there is truly an unlimited amount of commentary that can be made about such a Psalm. However, as I submitted to the Lord and listened for guidance for today’s blog, I realized that sometimes, as Christians, we get “stuck” on Scriptures that we are familiar with. Therefore, today I have been led to comment about Psalm 24 – a lesser known Psalm.   

Psalm 24:1-5

1) The earth is the LORD’s and the fullness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein,

2) for he has founded it upon the seas and established it upon the rivers.

3) Who shall ascend the hill of the LORD? And who shall stand in His Holy Place?

4) He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not lift up his soul to what is false and does not swear deceitfully.

5) He will receive blessing from the LORD and righteousness from the God of his salvation. 

Here we find not only Scripture that repeats other promises in the Bible (such as the earth was created by our Lord), but we also find that onlyl the righteous man can receive a blessing from God. Yesterday, I posted a joke about three doctors in Heaven, but the truth of the matter is we only get to Heaven by God’s grace and our full acceptance of God.

This Psalm serves to remind us that none of us truly deserve the honor due to God. “Who shall ascend the hill of the Lord? Who shall stand in His Holy Place?” Well, none of us are that righteous that we deserve to have anything that is worthy of God. Yet, God loved us so much that He gave His only Son so that we might not perish, but have eternal life (re: John 3:16). God cares enough for us that He is willing to share His Holy Place with us, that is Heaven.

God didn’t have to create the world. He didn’t have to create us; He didn’t have to create you. But He did, and He did it because HE LOVES YOU. And “He who has clean hands and a pure heart…He will receive blessing from the Lord and righteousness from the God of his Salvation.”

That’s a promise that we can carry with us forever, into eternity in Heaven. I can’t wait till God calls His children home. “I can only imagine” the day when that moment is upon us and all of God’s promises are fulfilled as foretold in the Bible. It will be a day of great celebration for Christians around the world. Unfortunately, for lost persons it will be a day of great sorrow. Do you want to see your lost friends be in such pain and desperation? If not, make a decision today to go to them and tell them about Christ. Show them the love that Jesus shows us and share the free gift of eternal life with them today.

Three doctors go to Heaven

JOKE TIME:

Three doctors are returning from a conference when a truck crosses
the median and hits their limo. All of a sudden they are face to face with
St. Peter.

He looks at the doctors and says “Tell me why I should let you into Heaven.

” The first doctor says “I won the Nobel Prize in Medicine.”

“OK!” says St. Peter, “Welcome to Heaven.”

The second doctor looks worried and says “I never won any prize; but
I devoted my career to a free clinic where people could get treatment
at no cost.”

St. Peter smiles and holds open the Pearly Gates for doctor number two.

The third doctor smiles and says “I am responsible for setting up HMO’s
throughout the United States.”

St. Peter looks this man in the eye and says “You may enter Heaven as
well, but you can only stay 3 days.”

Ok, so not many of us are happy with healthcare. That’s why we need reform. But this blog is not about that. It’s about the fact that NONE of the above ways will get you to Heaven.

Jesus told us in John 14:6

“I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

We can only have eternal security in Heaven when we believe in Jesus Christ and profess Him as our Lord and Savior.

That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved. As the Scripture says, “Anyone who trusts in him will never be put to shame.” – Romans 10:9-11

If you haven’t accepted Jesus as your personal Savior, please do so today. Pray to God for guidance and welcome Him into your heart and contact your pastor today to give him the good news!

 


Psalm 23 – part 2

Psalm 23 – verses 4-6

Yesterday I discussed 5 points from verses 1-3 of Psalm 23.

Psalm 23:1 The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
Psalm 23:2 He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters.
Psalm 23:3 He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.

Today I’ll discuss what vs 4-6 tells us:

Psalm 23:4 Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
Psalm 23:5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.
Psalm 23:6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD forever.

We often talk, as Christians, about our faith in the Lord to protect us and to carry us through. In fact, in many cases of extreme trials and especially in times of loss of family members, we often quote Psalm 23.

This passage of Scripture reminds us that although we undergo many troubles, and walk in the “shadow of death,” we can walk without fear. God is there to comfort us – His hands will protect us.

Furthermore, God through His grace and mercy will be with us forever. Because of this and the other promises that God has given us, we cannot only fear no evil, but we have eternal security with God. Scripture tells us that we will “dwell in the house of the Lord FOREVER.” Not just tomorrow, not today, but forever.

 

That’s a great promise. We all go through hard times, but if we truly believe, if we truly trust, then we can be comforted in knowing that God will forever be with us, carrying us through to the other side.

Psalm 23 – part 1

Psalm 23 – vs 1-3

Psalm 23:1 The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
Psalm 23:2 He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters.
Psalm 23:3 He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.

A popular Psalm such as the one above needs no introduction. On the contrary, it serves to remind us:

1) “The Lord is my shepherd.” God is our protector, a shepherd that will guide us and protect us. But that also assumes then, that we follow the shepherd as sheep; we must be quiet, obey, and follow the direction given unto us.
2) We “shall not want.” Just as sheep are provided with everything they need by their shepherd, we also should not ask for that which we do not need, for God knows our needs, and He will provide them.
3) We need to “lie down in green pastures…beside still waters.” This passage advises us that we have needs that include rest. For many people, comfort can be found in God’s wonderful creation that we call nature. I remember times when I was much younger and took time to “stop and smell the roses.” Those are some of the most relaxing memories that I recall. Yet today, we all get busy with the daily grind and forget to relax.
4) “He restores my soul.” He relieves, refreshes, and comforts not only our bodies, but our soul. He has the capability and desire to help us. When people “restore” a car or antique, they remove the impurities and “make like new.” In God’s case, he helps to remove sin from us and purify our souls.
5) “He leads me in paths of righteousness.” God will not lead us astray. Just as a parent does not lead his child into danger, the Lord’s love for us as His children will lead us only to blessings and growth.

Next time you hear Psalm 23, take time to think about each verse and what each single point highlights to us about the love of our God.

And come back tomorrow, as I discuss verses 4-6 from Psalm 23.

God is in control

A man from Norfolk, VA called a local radio station to share this on September 11th, 2003.

These are his words:

“A few weeks before September 11th, my wife and I found out we were going to have our first child. She planned a trip out to California to visit her sister. On our way to the airport, we prayed that God would grant my wife a safe trip and be with her. Shortly after I said ‘amen’ we both heard a loud pop and the car shook violently. We had blown out a tire. I replaced the tire as quickly as I could, but we still missed her flight.

Both very upset, we drove home. I received a call from my father who was retired FDNY. He asked what my wife’s flight number was, but I explained that we missed the flight. My father informed me that her flight was the one that crashed into the southern tower.

I was too shocked to speak. My father also had more news for me; he was going to help. ‘This is not something I can just sit by for; I have to do something.’ I was concerned for his safety, of course, but more because he had never given his life to Christ.

“After a brief debate, I knew his mind was made up. Before he got off of the phone, he said, ‘Take good care of my grandchild.’ Those were the last words I ever heard my father say; he died while helping in the rescue effort.

My joy that my prayer of safety for my wife had been answered quickly became anger, anger at God, at my father, and at myself. I had gone for nearly 2 years blaming God for taking my father away. My son would never know his grandfather, my father had never accepted Christ, and I never got to say goodbye. Then something happened.

“About 2 months ago, I was sitting at home with my wife and my son, when there was a knock on the door. I looked at my wife, but I could tell she wasn’t expecting anyone. I opened the door to a couple with a small child. The man looked at me and asked if my father’s name was Jake Matthews. I told him it was. He quickly grabbed my hand and said, ‘I never got the chance to meet your father, but it is an honor to meet his son.’

“He explained to me that his wife had worked in the World Trade Center and had been caught inside after the attack. She was pregnant and had been caught under debris. He then explained that my father had been the one to find his wife and free her. My eyes welled up with tears as I thought of my father giving his life for people like this.

He then said, ‘There is something else you need to know.’ His wife then told me that as my father worked to free her, she talked to him and lead him to Christ.

“I began sobbing at the news. Now I know that when I get to Heaven, my father will be standing beside Jesus to welcome me, and that this family would be able to thank him themselves.

“When their baby boy was born, they named him Jacob Matthew in honor of the man who gave his life so mother and baby could live.”

This story should help us to realize two things: First, that though it has been two years since the attacks, we should never let it become a mere tragic memory. And second, but most important, God is always in control. We may not see the reason behind things, and we may never know this side of Heaven, but God is ALWAYS in control.

Life after death

There are a multitude of beliefs that speak of life after death. Yet, what is the truth? Is there life after death? 

Taking a look at the life of Jesus, experts agree beyond a shadow of a doubt that Jesus died. They also agree that His empty tomb provides evidence for some event. While some lost people try to explain away the absence of His body, there are hundreds of Jews that experienced seeing Jesus after His resurrection in twelve separate appearances that testify to His resurrected body and life after death. Speaking to His disciples, Jesus said:

“We are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be betrayed to the chief priests and the teachers of the law. They will condemn him to death and will turn him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and flogged and crucified. On the third day he will be raised to life!” – Matthew 20:18-19

If you have not accepted the fact that we will have life after death, do not wait any longer. Turn away from your sins, Believe in Jesus, Confess Him as your Lord and Savior…

“Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.” John 17:3

“For it is my Father’s will that all who see his Son and believe in him should have eternal life. I will raise them up at the last day.” John 6:40 

Who me?

Ever been asked to do something and your initial response was one of total shock? “Who me? You want ME to do ______?”

Well, it’s not uncommon to see the same message in the Bible because God calls ordinary men to serve. Jeremiah was called as a youth:

“Ah, Sovereign LORD,” I said, “I do not know how to speak; I am only a child.” But the LORD said to me, “Do not say, ‘I am only a child.’ You must go to everyone I send you to and say whatever I command you.  Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you and will rescue you,” declares the LORD. – Jeremiah 1:6-8

In Judges, Gideon was called to save Israel:

 “But Lord , ” Gideon asked, “how can I save Israel? My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my family.”  The LORD answered, “I will be with you, and you will strike down all the Midianites together.” – Judges 6:15-16

And finally, one of the most popular men, Moses:

But Moses said to God, “Who am I, that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?” And God said, “I will be with you….” – Exodus 3:11-12

If you look closely back on these passages you see two common themes:

  1. The “ordinary” person felt unworthy
  2. God declared “I am with you”

Don’t feel that you are unimportant! Don’t think that you are not worthy. Don’t think that God doesn’t want you to help serve. God chooses people all that time that are “ordinary.”

At the same time, don’t wait on God to call you. The best way to determine what plan God has for you is to start quickly. As you take on different roles, you will discover which ones God has determined for you. You will quickly find yourself with even more possibilities than you ever dreamed. He will open your eyes to needs that you will feel led to pursue. Don’t wait on him, and don’t dare say “who…me?” He is with you…fear not!

The most important thing you’ll ever do – answer

“Some may say that getting saved is the most important thing, accepting Jesus into your life. I agree that this is VERY IMPORTANT. However, I’d like to explain WHY it’s not the most important thing you should do.”

As I mentioned in the previous blog, making a decision to accept Jesus as your Lord and Savior is VERY important. However, the most important thing you’ll ever do is bigger than that.

You see, making the decision above only affects you. While something that affects more people should obviously be more important. So what can you do that’s more important than your Salvation and affects more people?

Therefore go and make disciples of all nations…, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. – Mt. 28:19a-20a

Jesus’ departing words to us was a command to tell people about Him. We are to go into ALL nations and TEACH people about God. When we do, we have accomplished Jesus’ ultimate goal for us – the most important thing we can ever do.

If you’ve been saved – you know how good it feels to know God cares for you. But when you have the opportunity to help someone come to know God, the feeling is indescribable. Knowing that you have personally been able to help lead someone to God is awesome.

By living your life as a witness to others, sharing your faith with them, and helping to disciple them is the most important thing you’ll ever do!

The most important thing you’ll ever do…

I would like for you to think for a moment: What is the most important thing you’ll ever do?

Don’t read further until you answer the question.

Now, if I may, I would like to respond to one popular answer to that question.

Some may say that getting saved is the most important thing, accepting Jesus into your life. I agree that this is VERY IMPORTANT. However, I’d like to explain WHY it’s not the most important thing you should do.

First of all, accepting Jesus into your life allows you to participate with other Christians and receive eternal life with Jesus in Heaven. This is great! However, you have “done” nothing to earn that Salvation. Most religions require you to “do” something in return for salvation – whether it be baptism, working hard for God’s kingdom, conducting sacraments, yoga, sacrifices, etc.

However, the Bible, the true word of God tells us we must simple believe in Him:

John 6:28-29, 40 Then they asked him, “What must we do to do the works God requires?” Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.”  . . .  For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.”

This supports the common passage that many know by heart:

John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

Simply put, you must “do” nothing. You make a decision to accept Him and believe in Him. Nothing you do will earn you Salvation.

Ok, so there are some of you that say, “making a decision is doing something.” For those of you, I still challenge that this decision is NOT the most important thing you should ever do in your life.

So what is the most important thing? Most TV programs would go to commercial right about now – similarly, I’m going to hold the answer until Sunday. Come back then for the answer.

to be continued…