Will You Be Among the Many…or the Few?

Jesus said, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter into the Kingdom of Heaven; but he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.”

Obviously, many people – a huge percentage of the world’s population, in fact – do not ever say, “Lord, Lord,” to Jesus Christ. So, He’s not talking about them; they are already condemned. He’s speaking of a sub-group among those who DO call Him Lord. And in the very next verse, Jesus says there will be MANY of them to whom He will say, “Depart from Me…I never knew you!”

Elsewhere, He said, “How narrow is the gate and restricted is the way that leads to life! Few are those who find it.”

So let me spell it out. Few people will find and follow the path to eternal life. And many who profess to follow Jesus on that path DO NOT KNOW HIM AT ALL.

We cannot be casual about following Jesus, but wholly intentional, fully invested. We must pursue His will, to do it!

Paul compares the Christian life to that of a focused athlete. “Every man who strives in the games exercises self-control in all things. Now they do it to receive a corruptible crown, but we an incorruptible.” He said, “Don’t you know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run like that, that you may win.

Before Jesus came, God gave people many commandments, with dire consequences for disobedience. Jesus narrowed them down to TWO:

Love God with all your, heart, mind, soul and strength, and love your neighbor as you love yourself.” The consequence for disobedience to them is missing heaven. Because love IS God’s will.

That leaves no room for worldly things. In fact, the Word says, “Don’t love the world, neither the things that are in the world. If anyone loves the world, the Father’s love isn’t in him.”

In this brief lifetime, we have one non-negotiable goal: Love God the way Jesus did. Completely. Totally.

Then we can love our neighbors as ourselves…and do the will of God.

God is on your side. It’s the devil who’s on your back!

Who says hurricanes, tornadoes, floods and earthquakes are acts of God? Since when are you to believe insurance companies more than you believe God’s Word?

The devil roams about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.” That’s what 1 Peter 5:8 says. Look it up! John 8:44 says the devil was a murderer from the beginning.

So why do men turn on God when they are diagnosed with some horrible disease and cry out, “Why me, God?” Haven’t they read that it was Jesus “who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with Him”?

Haven’t they heard that, “To this end was the Son of God manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil”?

Jesus said, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He has anointed Me to preach good tidings to the poor; He hath sent Me to proclaim release to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised…” How in the world can you or anyone believe that God would make you sick and then tell you to ask Jesus to heal you?

Don’t be among those who pass judgment against God, accusing Him of stealing, killing and destroying, when Jesus said, “The thief comes not but that he may steal, kill and to destroy; I came that they may have life, and may have it abundantly.”

If you’re one of those who have blamed God for the work of the enemy of your soul, repent and ask God to let you see this one thing: God is on your side. It’s the devil who’s on your back!

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom can be no variation, neither shadow that is cast by turning.” James 1:17

Become Born Again Today!

Jesus said, “You must be born again.” There is no other way.

If you do not believe in Jesus, it’s because you have not loved truth. If you desire to know the truth and love it, ask God to reveal Himself to you. If you do believe in Jesus, but do not KNOW Him intimately, read Luke 14:26-35, then ask Jesus to enable you to obey the seemingly impossible instructions He gives to those desiring to follow Him.

Then ask Jesus to fill you with His Holy Spirit, to enable you to follow wherever He leads.

What Are You Getting In Exchange For Your Soul?

Some give their souls for drugs.  Others exchange their souls for a career or lifestyle.

If you haven’t chosen to follow Jesus, then, by default, you have been trading your soul for something. By choosing something other than Jesus, you’re passing up a loving personal relationship with your Creator for eternity, and receiving the most terrible consequence imaginable: eternal punishment. In death, your soul will be conscious forever, experiencing pain as real as anything your body is capable of feeling right now.

There’s still time to make a better choice if you are willing to turn to Jesus Christ. He paid the price for your salvation if you will accept it.

Whatever may have kept you from seeking God — can it really be worth your eternal soul?

You may think it’s impossible to change, to give up the lifestyle to which you are so attached. Nearly every current Christian thought the same thing at one time. But God specializes in changing people.   He’s done it for millions who have turned to Jesus Christ and confessed their sins.

God won’t force you to follow Him. He loves you and wants you in His family.

Nothing is worth eternal punishment. Neither drugs, money, sex, self-indulgence, power, nor anything in this life.

Whatever stands between you and God is your destruction unless you ask Jesus Christ to be your personal Lord and Savior.

Your decision can determine where you will spend eternity. There are no second chances when you stand before the judgment seat of God.  Give your life to Him now.

What will you get in exchange?

New life now and forever. Forgiveness. The power of God’s Holy Spirit to keep you on the right path. The grace to live in God’s presence. Love, joy, peace, and all the fruit of the Holy Spirit.

Do it now. You’ll never regret it.

The Odd Comfort of Irresponsibility

An acquaintance who lived on the streets of Kansas City one winter related how, frequently, people would commit crimes for the purpose of being arrested and sentenced to jail time so they could be warm and fed.

People familiar with criminal lifestyles recognize that a significant aspect of recidivism  is that some criminals find a certain comfort in incarceration and may, consciously or subconsciously, resort to activities that will remove them from societal demands of steady work, the discipline of paying bills, improving their lot in life and, in general, dealing with the rat race.

All of that tendency toward exchanging freedom and responsibility for captivity and irresponsibility may be seen in the attitudes of the Israelites freed from bondage to Egypt and facing the challenge of trusting God for their survival in the wilderness. They quickly came to resent the stark reversal of lifestyle, complaining that they no longer had the leeks and onions that sustained them in their harsh captivity.

God was taking them through what could have been a few short weeks of physical and mental transformation and reconditioning in order to bring them into a beautiful lifestyle with Himself as their Master. However, they refused to grasp the vision ahead of them, preferring the status quo of their past to the transformation necessary to have God as their only King, Provider, Protector, Comforter and Father. They were afraid to even hear His voice personally, relegating that task to Moses.

Of course, we know what resulted from their stubborn reliance on a familiar, though restrictive and harsh, lifestyle under a cruel taskmaster. Virtually the entire generation had to die out, and be replaced by a new generation raised in the harshness of the wilderness, before the Israelite culture could enter the Promised Land. Even then, stubbornness and fear kept them from the liberty of having God as their King, and led them to demand a human king so they could retain some identity with the heathen cultures around them.

We could easily relate that to this present generation of people enslaved to the government dole becoming delighted at the prospect of coming under the total cradle-to-grave control of a socialist government. But that offers no lesson for us, as Christians, to learn, assuming we have already been freed from seeing government as our salvation.

Our more immediate lesson as people of God is that we have become accustomed to being spoon-fed God’s word, comfortable in the irresponsibility of being led and taught as children by ministers, rather than growing to maturity in the image of Jesus Christ under the tutelage of the Word of God as taught directly by the Spirit of God.

Why? We love the comfort of irresponsibility.

Why do we need to be transformed by the renewing of our minds and accept the responsibility of hearing from God personally when we have pastors who will feed us once a week? Why should we give up the worldly culture of pursuing money and status and leisure in order to be transformed in the wilderness of separation from the world? Do we really need to hate this worldly life in order to be prepared to live under God’s Kingship in eternity?

All these whiny questions are reminiscent of a certain serpent asking, “Did God really say…?”

Satan’s appeal to reason and human rationality comes to us in similar questions: “Did Jesus really say His disciples had to hate all personal attachments to this world? Did He really say His followers would forsake all they possess in order to follow Him in lifestyle and good works? Did He really say we need to deny ourselves, take up our cross of identification with Him, and to follow Him? Did He really command us to love Him with ALL of our being?

Of course, we would not know that He said those things if we didn’t hear them from our human tutors. We would only hear words that insist we invest our entire hope and personal identification in Him and His kingdom if we heard them directly from God’s word as taught by the Holy Spirit.

God does not call us to human reason and human rationality, nor to obey the demands of our comfort-loving flesh. He calls us to life that is impossible to live, maintain and thrive in while we keep one foot in Egypt. If we set our faces toward eternity with Jesus and refuse to look back to burning Sodom and Gomorrah, we can become fit for the kingdom of God, but half-hearted commitment to Jesus is no better than an adulterous affair with the world.

Responsibility to the One who purchased us with His blood means we must be completely severed from the rest of the worldly culture in order to be transformed by the renewing of our minds. Only then can we prove God’s will and way by our lives.

The day is at hand

This generation – the generation of professed followers of Jesus – is the most blessed of all generations. On us He has bestowed abundance of gifts and advantages, both natural and spiritual – all things richly to enjoy – to either consume upon our lusts, or to enjoy in fulfilling God’s purposes.

The spiritual blessings are the true riches, those from which God our Father expects increase, a harvest producing plenty. No other generation or people group has benefited as much from the grace and mercy of God as we have, from our very salvation and the fruit of the Spirit, the gifts of the Spirit, and the indwelling presence of the Spirit of God Himself, which is an open door to God’s throne!

The light of truth has never shone on so many. The availability of the word of God in so many languages, in such readily accessible forms, at such little cost, with so many avenues of illumination and explanation, puts an unspeakably huge arsenal of spiritual weaponry at our fingertips. Yet, are we focused on God’s purpose – the harvest – or on our leisure and comfort?

Do we genuinely recognize that “unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required”? If it is true that “to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more,” how much more so is it true that God will require more of this most blessed generation than of others?

Re-read the parable of the talents, and instead of assuming the talents refer to gold or silver, or even to your natural gifts and abilities, see if God’s richest treasures might fit into the meaning. Read it with “measures of faith” inserted in place of “talents,” or with “love,” or with “grace,” or “understanding,” “wisdom,” or any number of His spiritual blessings. Do that and I think you will understand the urgency with which we ought to pursue God’s purposes in our lives rather than our own.

The night is far spent, and the day is at hand. Time is short, friends, too short for us to sleep in the light of day.

The Wrong “I”

Of Christians I want to ask: have you said (as I have from time to time), “I am offended,” or, “I can’t forgive that hurt”?

I feel wronged and offended when I have been insulted, slighted, overlooked or marginalized – “I,” meaning the old self with whom I wrongly identify at those times.

My born-again spirit, which ought to be the “I” with whom I identify, does not get easily offended, and when it does, it is for an offense toward God rather than toward self.

How did Jesus avoid anger when Pharisees said slanderous and hurtful things about Him, even to His face? He did not identify with the self life, but with the life of the Spirit of God within Him.

Why do I persist in identifying with the old “I” – the “I” that has been crucified with Christ and yet cries to be rescued from the cross.

Could it be that I still pursue the fleshly, selfish life, thus minimizing, marginalizing, the life of the Spirit of God?

When will I confidently and truthfully say, as Paul did, “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.” Galatians 2:20

That can happen only when I can say, and mean it, as he did, “Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ.” Philippians 3:8

Is your “I” the wrong “I” sometimes, also? It’s time we see the old life clearly, as the dung and death it truly is.

 

Well Done…

Christians hope to hear one thing at the Judgment: “Well done, My good and faithful servant! Enter into the joy of the Lord!”

That tells us that something must be DONE. (Not to acquire salvation, but to show the fruit of its reality.)

But, among all the things we might possibly do on earth for good or bad motives, what can unequivocally be termed by Jesus as “well” done?

The New Testament identifies one thing that, by definition, will never fail to be done well: agape (pronounced ah-gah’-pay) love.

Faith may be called little, weak, strong, great or dead. Works may be good or bad, obedient or disobedient. Love may be of four varieties, but only agape never fails.

But, you ask, Is love something we do? Aren’t we expected to just HAVE love for everyone?

If it does not translate into a characteristic of Jesus, then it is not agape love. Love must produce some spiritually profitable result in order to be categorized as agape love.

For example, “But whoso hath this world’s good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love [agape] of God in him?” (1 John 3:17) And “… though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not love [agape], I am nothing.” (1 Corinthians 13:2; see also vv. 3-7)

You and I have only two commandments for this life; they are so inextricably linked that they amount to one: love with agape love.

Without agape love, nothing is done well in the eyes of God

Distinction Without a Difference?

How is your life different from the lives of worldly people?

Are you addicted to entertainment, as they are, or have you kicked the entertainment habit for the ways of God?

Are you affected by a desire for social status, as they are, or are you free from the trap of needing to be socially significant?

Do you give yourself to worldly identification, being entangled in political issues and rivalries as they are, or do you identify completely with Christ and His Kingdom?

Have you made secular education your hope for future opportunities, as they have, or is God’s word your textbook and the Holy Spirit your Instructor and Life Coach?

Is money the solution to most of your problems, as it is with them, or is Jehovah Jireh your Source and Supply?

Are comfort and financial security your measures of success in life, as they are with them, or have you turned to godliness with contentment?

Are reason and common sense your decision makers, as they are with them, or does love for God direct your path?

The “us” and “them” dividing line is not something concocted by religious legalists; it was God who said, “Come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, And touch no unclean thing; And I will receive you.” 2 Corinthians 6:17 And it was He who said, “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” 1 John 2:15

We are to be a peculiar people – meaning, a people beyond the usual – because of His indwelling presence with us.

The dividing line is already drawn between followers of Jesus Christ and the world. They are not enemies, but the lost, who need us to reflect God’s light rather than reflect the trappings that already furnish the cells of their prison.

To Know Him is to Love Him is to Know Him…

If you say you know God, know this: that if you know Him you love Him; otherwise, you do not know Him. And if you love Him you will do His will. (1 John 2:4) The way you know that you know Him is if you love Him. No love means no knowledge of God.

The next thing you must know is that if you truly love Him, you can enter a cycle in which your love moves you to know Him more. Moreover, once you know Him more, you will love Him more, and consequently, on loving Him more, you will desire to know Him even more. And all this time you will be doing His will toward the lost, the hurting and hungry. Knowledge of God is the fuel and love is the fire. And happily, the fire generates more fuel to make the fire more fervent, and so on.

If you are not experiencing this cycle, or it stops, you merely need to love God more. That is a choice of your free will, and only your love for your self and the world will hinder this love cycle in God. If you cooperate, you will never reach the end of this cycle until you get to heaven, where you will know even as you have been known, and love as you have been loved.

Love God and know Him until the cycle begins and then follow the love.

Closer to God

Have you ever wondered why some are closer to God than you, and why they hear His voice more clearly?

I have, and always the answer comes: You are as close to God as you have desired.

Calvinists may say that nothing is up to you, that God controls all, even your desires. Perhaps there is truth there. But, for myself, when I desire something, I begin moving toward it, no matter whether it’s a genuinely good thing or something that has little or no intrinsic worth.

I don’t know how that might work from God’s standpoint, or a Calvinist’s, but I know that it is up to me whether I cooperate with the urging and drawing of God.

I am as close to His heart as I have desired. And the distance remaining is due to my lack of desire, not His. The question is, Do I have the will and capacity to draw nearer to God? The Bible tells me I do.

“Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you.” James 4:8a

At times, I have to confess, I did not desire to be closer to Him than I was. And more than once, He has drawn me nearer to Himself without any proactive decision of my own that I could recall.

At other times, I have desired it and purposefully set aside time to come close to Him. And I did come nearer.

Again, I don’t know to what degree God controls my life, but I know He gave me a command. And I know He would only do that if He intended for me to obey it. That command was to love Him with all my heart, all my mind, all my soul and all my strength.

I don’t see any wiggle room in that command, no room to love the world or anything in the world, as I have disobediently done.

He has left it up to me to draw myself to Himself, but He has – by drawing near to me – let me know He is there, as though saying, Are you going to reciprocate?

There is no room in His command for me to love things such as home, car, fame, land, position, money or even my own will. The room that stands between me and Him is due to the fact that I have not desired the closeness that He commanded.

When I pursue things in the world, I am revealing my desire to ignore His commandment. Can I close the gap between my love for God and His love for me? It’s such a huge gap, I don’t know how possible that is, but His command tells me to give it my all. All.

I do have control over my will. I can cast down thoughts and imaginations and bring every thought into alignment with God’s will, knowing that my words and actions have their genesis in my thoughts. And I can do it more effectively when I ask Him for the grace to do so.

I think those who are closer to God than I am have done that. And I can do more than just admire their desire.