Monday, October 31, 2016

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          The knowledge that so many are perishing in their sins is once again weighing heavy on my heart.  Thoughts keep tumbling into my mind like a cascade of snow that is about to turn into an avalanche.  There’s an urgency growing within me that says time is growing short, and my heart cries out for those who, if they were to die today, would not find their eternal home in Heaven because they have not made the decision to accept Jesus as Lord and Savior.  Some I know, and many that I do not know.  It makes me so sad to think that, unless they draw near to God, this time on earth is the last time I will ever see many of them. 
          God’s love is offered to everyone.  No one has any excuse for not acknowledging who He is.  God has already written His entire word that mankind may know Him and His will; moreover, it’s His gift to man, a manual, or book of instructions by which we are to live.  “My son, do not forget my teaching, but let your heart keep my commandments, for length of days and years of life and peace they will add to you. Let not steadfast love and faithfulness forsake you; bind them around your neck; write them on the tablet of your heart.  So you will find favor and good success in the sight of God and man. Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. (ESV. Prv. 3: 1-5)  “Let the word of God dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.”(Colossians 3: 16)  “When the Spirit of truth comes, He will guide you into all truth, for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak, and He will declare to you the things that are to come.” (John 16: 13 ESV)   
          Yet, His word is still much more than that.  Every time anyone, who is a believer or one who is truly seeking to know God, turns to the written word of God, we are given the opportunity to sit at the feet of Jesus, to listen to His voice, to be taught by Him through the power of the Holy Spirit; thus, His word is made alive in us.  “And the word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen His glory, glory as of the only Son of God from the Father, full of grace and truth.” (John 1: 14 ESV)  That in itself sets the Bible apart from every other written work, for it is not authored by mere men, but by God Himself.  “All scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness.” (II Tim. 3: 16)  “Knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation.  For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.” (II Peter 1: 20, 21 ESV)
“These things I have spoken to you while I am still with you.  But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.” (John 14: 25, 26)  These are but a few of the scriptures that set apart the word of God, as not just mere words of men, but the living words of God.  Words that will take root in the heart of man as he seeks the Lord God Almighty, to know Him and be filled with His Holy Spirit through faith in Jesus Christ, the Son of God.    
          God does not intend to rule over man as some maniacal tyrant, but rather as a loving and just Father who only wants the best for His children.  And yet that is only the tip of the iceberg.  Not only has He given us His written word, but He also sent His Son, Jesus Christ, the Living Word, God in the form of man, that man might know God through Him.  Did not Jesus say that the Father was in Him, and He was in the Father, and that He would send His Holy Spirit to live within those who choose to believe on Him, and accept Him as personal Lord and Savior, because of what He did for us on the Cross?
           Why then, do I take time to write about the Lord God Almighty when I can not add one thought that is more worthy than His very own words?  When I become discouraged, I am reminded that He, regardless of the depth and breadth of one’s own talent, has urged every believer to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the entire world, to point the way back to God, using the abilities that have been granted to us by God.  So here I go on another journey to pour out words of encouragement, not based upon my own opinion, but rather God’s word, in hopes that in some small way I might be used as an instrument of the Lord, to direct others to the one, Jesus Christ, who has told us “I AM THE WAY, THE TRUTH, AND THE LIFE.  NO ONE COMES TO THE FATHER EXCEPT THROUGH ME.” (John 14: 6) 
          The fear (reverence) of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and if we would just trust in Him and His word, He will direct the path of each person who chooses to believe in and obey Him.  Jesus has done so much to demonstrate His love for us, even to the extent of leaving His home in glory, to give His life that we may be saved from sin and death, while we have done nothing to deserve so great a love.  Even so, I am continually amazed at how often many, including those who claim to follow Jesus, will still choose to put their trust in them selves instead of God, choosing to walk away from His loving and protective care.  Regrettably, the spirit of rebellion is within us even from birth, not because God put it there, but because man, through Adam’s rebellion against God, is born with that very same sin nature.  God has given to man the freewill to make his own decision to follow God, or follow his own selfish desires.  He has promised to us many blessings IF we will only choose to follow Him.  With Him, we are offered an abundant life, both now and for all eternity, when we are born again through faith in Jesus.  Salvation is nothing that we can earn, but is granted by the mercy and grace of God.  Our ticket was bought and paid for by the shed blood of Jesus Christ, and stamped “paid in full.”  All we have to do is choose to believe in Jesus, repent of our sins, and receive the ticket stamped “paid in full” from Jesus who has freely granted it.  God’s plan of salvation is made both simple and free, yet many will choose not to accept it.  “Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.” (John 7: 13, 14)  The gate is narrow because there is but one way, through faith in the work of Jesus, not through our works, our own intelligence, or belief in other paths to God. 
          The natural man, apart from belief in the one true God, is lost and will die in his own sin because he has refused God’s plan of salvation through faith in His Son, Jesus Christ.  Life without God is a life without a way of escape from slavery to sin, and the consequences of it.  Without faith in Jesus, one can not collect the ticket of salvation that is made available to all who choose to accept Him.  There is no other way to reach Heaven, for none, other than Jesus, has paid the price to purchase the ticket for you or me. We have no escape route to be able to bypass the direct route to Hell, for the “wages of sin is death,” both physically and spiritually.  Man, having no righteousness of his own, can not be acceptable in a right relationship with God the Father, until the righteousness of Jesus has been imparted to each of us, when we have been born again, as Jesus said.  Death, without Jesus, can only result in eternal separation from God, and as eternal life in Hell.
          You would think that the choice between Heaven and Hell would be an easy one to make.  Yet, sad but true, many will foolishly refuse to believe in the only one that can provide salvation.  I know it’s a simple and earthly analogy, but in a small way I relate this to an experience in my own life.  My first year in college, I was supposed to wait till Christmas to go home.  Overcome with homesickness, I called and asked if I could come home for the Thanksgiving holidays.  Having loving and caring parents, out of the abundance of their hearts, permission was granted.  They purchased a ticket for me. I had done nothing to earn it or deserve it.  Through grace, unmerited favor, they provided an “escape route” to home for me.  The ticket was paid for and waiting for me at the train depot.  However, in order to get home, I would have to make the decision, or choice, to go to the train station, collect the ticket, get on the right train, and trust that it would take me to the correct destination.  I couldn’t sit in my dorm room and expect the ticket to come to me.  I couldn’t send someone else to get it for me, for it was in my name only.  I couldn’t go to an airport, bus depot, or port and expect to be able to collect my train ticket.  No, there was only one ticket for one seat on a specific train that was provided and paid for; there was no other path or vehicle provided for me.  IF I wanted to reach my treasured destination, MY HOME, I was provided with only one option.  By grace, my parents bought and paid for the ticket.  By choice, I had to collect, or receive the ticket myself, and get on the right train to reach my desired destination, HOME.  God, in His perfection, has a plan of salvation for all who believe in Him, to become a child of God, to be cared for and protected in the here and now of this fallen world, our temporary home (my dorm was my temporary home), and eventually to be transported (taken up to Heaven) to live in our forever Real Home with Him.  Why in the world would anyone turn down His plan of salvation which is granted freely by the grace of God?  Why would anyone not want to be His Child, and have God as your Heavenly Father?  Why would anyone not want to live in Heaven with Him for all eternity?  Why would anyone choose to reject what Jesus has done on the Cross?  Why would anyone choose to depend upon the limited knowledge of man, instead of God’s infinite wisdom and knowledge?  Why would anyone not believe that Jesus Christ was and is the Son of God, as He proclaimed and proved when He arose from the dead, having many witnesses of the empty tomb and His ascension into Heaven?  There were hundreds of people who talked and walked with Him after He arose, and many who stood and watched His ascension into Heaven.  Yet there are many who scoff and mock God, condemning themselves to Hell because of their decision to reject Him and the free gift of salvation which He has offered unto all.  Sadly, I think of the truth of a saying that I have often seen that is based upon the scriptures:  “The fact that there’s a highway to Hell and only a stairway to Heaven says a lot about the anticipated traffic numbers.”  It’s not because God wants it that way, but because man, by his own free will, chooses to make it that way.  “The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish [die in their sins], but that all should come to repentance.” (II Peter 3:9)
          Won’t you open your heart, and welcome Jesus into your heart, and receive Him as your Lord and Savior?  Don’t let another day go by, for none of us is guaranteed a tomorrow.  Who knows what tomorrow may hold?  Open your heart to the one who has loved you so much that He gave His life just for you that you may be saved and begin your new life this very moment.  Put your HOPE and Trust in Him.  “Oh taste and see that the Lord is good.” (Psalm 34:8)  He’s real, alive, and closer even than your very skin.  Living life in the Lord does not give us a life free of trials and tribulations, for we live in a fallen world.  But I can personally testify that life with His Holy Spirit dwelling inside of you is more precious than silver or gold.  No matter what is happening in the world around you, He gives a peace that passes all understanding, and He will never leave you or forsake you, but will be with you today and forever.  “Put your trust in the Lord and He will direct your path.  Living your life with the Lord is a process, and He will create in you a new heart, one that will desire more and more to do that which is pleasing unto the Lord.  Open the door of your heart, welcome Him in, and spend time in His word that He may talk with you and you with Him.  “For those who have ears to hear let them hear.” (Mark 4: 9)  May the Spirit of the Lord dwell in you richly as you draw near to Him, and He draws near to you.

          I repeat once again, “Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.” (John 7: 13, 14)  Jesus is the gate.  The gate is narrow because there is but one way, through faith in the work of Jesus, not through our works, our own intelligence, or belief in other paths to God.  


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