Have ye any doubt?

Many times throughout our lives, our beliefs in certain things can change.

For example, I once believed the grass was green and the sky blue. Over time, I came to realize that the opposite was true. The grass is actually every color except green (which it reflects); and the sky is every color except blue.

I once thought that my Dad could do anything; he was my hero and I looked up to him. Then I grew up, and I realized he had done anything and everything he thought was necessary for me to be a better person.

For years, 12 disciples spent their time with Jesus, day in and day out. They spent hours listening to his preaching and teaching. They observed probably hundreds or thousands of miracles, most of which were never documented in the Bible. Still, by the end of Jesus’ life, they had beliefs and doubts that would change.

At some point, each disciple had to come to the personal knowledge of “who Jesus was.” We don’t know how and when each disciple considered the reality that Jesus truly: 1) was the Son of God, 2) able to do anything, and 3) was foretelling the future.

In the end however, the Bible documents the doubt that Thomas had. Despite years of instruction and proof after proof of Jesus’ ability, Thomas had to see with his own eyes and touch with his own hands to believe that Jesus was truly resurrected from the dead.*

What about you? Do you have any doubt about Jesus? Do you have any doubt that what you’ve learned is true?

Did you know that the wise men never actually visited Jesus in the manger, despite widely distributed pictures and displayed nativities?** …and there were not necessarily three of them.** This is one reason that I like pastors who clearly ask their church members to bring their own Bible and read along with them as they quote Scripture.

I don’t want your beliefs to be swayed by people who mis-quote or mis-teach the Bible. If you have any doubt, look it up. Another reference many people don’t believe, but is true is that atheists claim the Bible says “There is no God.” Their statement is actually TRUE! The Bible does say this, BUT READ CAREFULLY the FULL text: “The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God.’” (Psalm 14:1)

Read it for yourself – the Bible that is. And allow God to teach you one on one what you need to know. I have no doubt you’ll be better off if you do.

*In John 20:25, Thomas stated he had to see and touch Jesus personally. In John 20:28, it is not clear whether Thomas physically touched Jesus during their encounter.
** Matthew 2: 11 states “And going into the house, [the Magi] saw [Jesus] with Mary His mother, and they fell down and worshiped Him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered Him gifts, gold, and frankincense and myrrh.” References to Magi at the nativity are prominent everywhere, and despite the inaccuracy of them, don’t let this knowledge detract from the powerful message that Jesus came to earth to be born and die – so that we can be born again in His righteousness.

Javier Estrada

“Javier Estrada” – If you’re like me, that name doesn’t mean much to you. However, to the person whose desk I’m sitting at, his name means a lot to him. It’s recognition of who they are, where they came from, and what family they belong to.

Unfortunately, there is good and bad junk that goes along with all names. For example, the name:

George Washington….

Good: Unanimously elected as the first President of the United States due to his outstanding character
Bad: Raised tobacco and owned a distillery (may have even cut down a cherry tree)

Paul Harvey…

Good: Informed America about national security issues and other peculiar events
Bad: Illegally entered a nuclear test facility near Chicago in 1951

Jesus Christ…

Good: Gave His life so that all who love Him may have eternal life
Bad: Will judge everyone for their sins

Well, here is the rest of the story:

Despite the bad junk that goes with Jesus, He has given us an out. All we have to do is confess Him as Lord and Savior and the “bad” is wiped clean. Our sins are forgiven when we accept the gift He has given us.

When you accept Jesus Christ as Savior, you become part of His (God’s) family, acknowledged by His name, and where He comes from (Heaven).

Back in the day…

As I get older, I find myself using that awful phrase that I hated when I grew up: “back in the day.”

Back in the day, my parents walked 3 miles to school in 5 feet of snow, uphill, both ways. I think they told me that in order to build character, and to realize that I have it much easier than they did. In reality, it’s always a bunch of lies (with some truth added in). Like the day that your dad caught that fish that was so big! In reality, it was probably under the length limit to even keep – I bet he threw it back!

Anyway, I want to tell you a story from “back in the day.”

“So it was, that while they were there, the days were completed for her to be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.” – Luke 2:6-7 NKJV

If we continue reading, we find out that despite the poor conditions that Mary, Joseph, and Jesus had to endure during His birth, God was with them.

I find that today’s culture is so overwhelmed with luxuries that we forget that we don’t really need anything, but God.

We look to comfort, we look to food, we look to entertainment, all as a means to find enjoyment in life. Just recently I found enjoyment in God’s playground when I visited Caesars Head NC. The beauty of nature, the calmness of the forest, the rushing of the waterfalls – it all provided a sense of peace that only God can provide.

Back in the day, we didn’t have video games, we didn’t have 10 speed bikes, we didn’t even have color TV, but that didn’t stop us from having fun. We had our family.

God wants you to be part of His family and enjoy not only this life, but life eternal.

Come to know Him now <click here>!

Geometry time…

A2 + B2 = C2

To many people, the equation above is recognized as a common mathematical formula, despite whether one knows how to use the formula.

Similarly, many people recognize Scripture such as “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” (John 3:16 NIV).

Is there a point? Yes, the formula above may seem insignificant to many people. And for many people, you are right. Most would never have to use the formula, although it is taught to the majority of our children in public schools during geometry classes.

However, the Scripture is not taught in our schools, and therefore WE have a responsibility to educate our children in not only teaching it to them, but explaining what it means. For most Christians, it is very simple to understand that God gave His Son as a sacrifice and atonement (payment) for our sins. However, to a lost person, the passage is somewhat Greek to them.

So please take the time to explain to others that God loved us to a point that He was willing to give up His life, His Son’s life, in exchange for our life. That’s true love – to love another person enough to give up your own life.

Will you spare just a few minutes of your life to tell someone how to save their life?

How can it be?

In the story at the Mount of Olives (John 8:1-11), the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught committing adultery to Jesus. The Pharisees declared that the law of Moses permitted them to stone the woman for her blatant sin. Jesus, seemingly perturbed by their ignorance of the true meaning behind the law, simply ignored their request until they demanded a response.

Finally, Jesus replied that any man that was free from sin was free to stone the woman. We all know that after a few moments, not one of the accusers remained behind. None were free of sin, nor capable of accusing someone else; when they too were guilty of other sins.

. . .

The only person that remained with the woman was Jesus, free of a life from sin. Jesus had the right…, maybe even the responsibility, to accuse her, and even stone her.

I can only imagine her sense of guilt at 1) being caught, 2) being accused before Almighty God, and 3) awaiting her punishment.

As she stood there looking at Jesus, He, unlike the others, rose above them and did not condemn her. Instead, He told her “Go and sin no more.”

I’m sure that the look on her face, and the thoughts in her head had to be something like “How can it be?”<click HERE>

Perhaps she would have said ‘I am undeniably guilty, yet you have forgiven me. Not only forgiven, but shown love to me.’

This song by Lauren Daigle describes the same feeling that we may feel when we realize that Jesus did the same for us when He saved us.

Fire Evacuation plan!

I’ve learned a great deal about building code as I finish my basement. But one thing that I’ve learned above all is that the code is there for our protection. It’s not meant to punish the electrician, the plumber, or anyone else. And it’s not just there to protect the home owner from shoddy work.

It’s there for specific safety reasons to protect our lives and our property.

Take for example, the amount of wires that are allowed to be inside a junction box behind your electric plug. There is a limit to how many wires can come in/out of that box to prevent overheating and reduce the risk of fire. It’s a safety regulation.

There are codes on how many nails should be in boards that hold your walls up. Even code on how and where to place windows. Specifically, there is a code to address the requirement for an exterior window or door from every bedroom in your house for evacuation in case of fire. Even a code on the minimum size of such window and the distance from the floor it must be!

So why is this important. Well, for safety, it’s the law. We must abide, because these are the constraints that experts have placed on how to construct houses in order to properly be protected.

There are even experts that remind us that we should have a Fire Evacuation Plan, describing where your family will meet in case of fire, an assembly point so to speak outside the home, and across the street.hell-fire-burns-for-eternity

Do you have a fire evacuation plan? Not just for your house, but for your life and your family’s life?

In this case, the plan consists of Jesus, and nothing else. He will protect us, not only in case of fire, but from the fire that is real and described quite dreadfully in Revelation.

There will be a day when we are all judged. That day will result in one of two outcomes: an eternal life in Heaven with Jesus, or an eternal death in the lake of fire. Which do you choose?

Make a plan today to save yourself through Jesus! He already showed us how, just accept Him and His plan for your eternal future.

Are you a control freak?

airplaneDo you ever have a hard time giving up control of something? Some of us are control freaks. For those of you that are, I feel sorry for you when you have to fly.

Whether you are on a small commuter plane, or a jumbo 747, only the pilots have control of our fate. When we step onto a plane, we are giving our lives over to an unknown individual.

Ever thought about that? Many people don’t think twice when boarding a plane. But it’s true that our lives are in the hands of someone else, and we trust them to protect us. It’s true that plane safety is much better than automobile safety, but it still doesn’t dismiss the fact that we are not in control when we fly.

Yet, when it comes to church, the first time some people hear about Jesus, they are hesitant to fully give over their life to Him. And for a safety record, who has a better record than Jesus? Sure, He gave His own life, but in the grand scheme of things, how many people did he already resurrect to life, and how many more has He Saved through His life on the cross?

In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. – John 1:4

 

Answers to yesterday’s ARK focused trivia HERE

A day to remember

An appropriate subject for today:

Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his. For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin—Romans 6:3-6

Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit – Matthew 28:19

A day to remember . . . more to come!

 

Difficulty 9: age of accountability

This one is especially difficult for parents of young children.

The Bible tells us in Romans 5:14 that sin reigns in all people because of Adam. It almost seems unfair that generations of people are cursed because of what Adam and Eve did in the Garden of Eden. However, this is how imputed sin works. David in Psalm 51:5 reinforced this saying “Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me.”

We also know that Jesus clearly stated that “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, except through Me.” Therefore EACH person MUST make a choice of Salvation.

How then do we grasp the concept for babies who don’t know Christ and seem innocent by nature? Are they Saved? Will we see babies who passed on in Heaven?

Intellectually, we know that babies, and toddlers to some age, don’t understand the need for Salvation, and therefore cannot accept Christ as their Lord. However, we also know that God is a Loving God. Therefore, He must provide a way for them.

For most, God does this through the Holy Spirit. For Christians, we have experienced the Holy Spirit on our day of Salvation, when we were convicted, and understood the need for God. We then made a choice. Christians, by definition, have accepted God. Others, whether agnostic, atheist or some other religion, have denied God after hearing the Good news.

For babies, however, they have not yet been introduced or understood the need to accept God. God gives everyone a choice to accept Him at an age that is appropriate for each person. For some, it may happen as early as age 7, or 6 or even 5. For many it happens sometime during elementary school. For others, this choice doesn’t come until adulthood.

God created us each uniquely, and comes to each of us at different times in our lives for a decision. The age of accountability is never outlined in the Bible, but because of God’s grace, we can be confident that He has a plan for all people.

In 2 Samuel 12:23, David reinforces this notion when his baby died. David was a Christian; he stated that “I shall go to him” meaning that someday he would join his baby in Heaven.

The unknown: #3

Unknown #3 – Not all sins will be forgiven!

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. – 1 John 1:9

28 Truly I tell you, people can be forgiven all their sins and every slander they utter, 29 but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven; they are guilty of an eternal sin.” – Mark 3:28-29

The unforgivable sin or eternal sin . . . is this a contradiction to what we’ve learned in church?

Let’s break this down. How will God forgive any sin, but not sin against the Holy Spirit?

Kimberly and I have our own conclusion, despite how experts try to explain this. I think our explanation is rather simple. It goes like this:

If you believe in Christ and follow His teachings (as a Christian), then you will be forgiven for ANY sin.   However, if you are not a Christian – that means you have rejected, talked down to, blasphemed the Holy Spirit (or whatever other evil word you want to use). That would mean that you have essentially rejected God. Therefore, that sin (rejecting the Holy Spirit) will NOT be forgiven. Why? You have not been saved, you have rejected God. God will not forgive a lost person, until He is saved.

You have the choice to accept Christ and be forgiven all sins (past, present, and future). However, if you don’t accept Christ, you have sinned against the Holy Spirit which has called you to Him – and are therefore NOT forgiven.

Moral:  Very simple – accept Jesus! Not so you can sin, but so that you can be forgiven!