John the Baptist. He wrote no epistles and none of his sermons were preserved for us to read. And yet Jesus said there was never a greater prophet than John the Baptist. But when they asked John who he was, he said of himself ” I am just a voice crying in the wilderness”.
John was sent from God. He had a purpose and that purpose was to bear witness that Jesus is the Light of the world. He was born to point to Jesus and say, “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world”. John knew that he was not worthy to untie Jesus’ shoes. He knew that he would decrease while Jesus increased. He knew that it might cost him his head but still he raised his voice to declare that Jesus was the Son of God. Even though he knew all this, he was happy to be nothing more than ” A voice crying in the wilderness”.
Sometimes I wonder if there are any modern day Christians who get this. It seems that pastors must spend all their time refereeing fights and soothing hurt feelings because of church members who wish to be the greatest in the church. I am convinced most local churches are severely hindered today because of so many people who think they are much too important to be nothing but “A voice crying in the wilderness.”
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if all God’s people were consumed with a desire to point people to Jesus. We are born again for this purpose. Jesus must increase and we must decrease. We must be willing to lose our heads for the privilege of declaring that Jesus is The Son Of God. Behold the Kingdom of Heaven is near and we must be satisfied to be nothing but, ” A voice crying in the wilderness.”
Children, loud and boisterous, running and jumping, they laugh loudly and giggle uncontrollably. Somebody needs to tell them to be quiet they are getting on my nerves. They are marking up the walls and scratching the floor and one of them just spilled his juice on the pew cushion.
And yet the best clue we have as to what kind of worship style Jesus prefers is found in Mark 10:13–16; “Then they brought little children to Him, that He might touch them; but the disciples rebuked those who brought them. But when Jesus saw it, He was greatly displeased and said to them, “Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of God. Assuredly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will by no means enter it.” And He took them up in His arms, laid His hands on them, and blessed them.” (Mark 10:13–16)
We are sending the children out of the room and telling them to be quiet because we are trying to worship, but Jesus is saying, “Hey leave them alone”! Do you want to know what worship in heaven is like? Then watch the little children. They crawl all over Jesus. They laugh, they giggle and Jesus tickles them so they will laugh some more. When they get tired, they sit in his lap and cuddle with Him.
Maybe, just maybe, we can get it through our thick heads that worship is not for our sake. Worship is for God’s pleasure. That is what He tells us in Psalms 149:2-4, “Let Israel rejoice in their Maker; Let the children of Zion be joyful in their King. Let them praise His name with the dance; Let them sing praises to Him with the timbrel and harp. For the Lord takes pleasure in His people.”
Let’s learn to worship with joy, laughter and even dancing. Then when we get tired we can climb up unto His lap, lean back and rest in our Savior’s arms.
Will a person who has never heard the Gospel be allowed into Heaven when they die? This is a question that I often hear. But most people don’t like the answer I give. However, before I give my response let me say this. If this is your question and you are a follower of Christ, you are asking the wrong question.
My opinion on this subject is not worth a dime. What does the Word of God say? That’s what matters. The Bible says “All have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” This means that everyone deserves to be separated from God for eternity. The Bible also says “There is none righteous, not one.” So it does not matter if they have heard the Gospel or not, no one is good enough to go to heaven, no one!
But don’t accuse God of being unfair. You see God loves all people so much that He gave His only Begotten Son to die on the cross. Anyone who puts their trust in Jesus can have eternal life with God in heaven. However, how can anyone trust in Jesus if they have never heard of Him? And how can they hear of Him unless someone tells them about the Gospel?
Now there are 7.9 billion people in the world today. A lot of those people have never heard the Gospel. Now we all know that among Jesus’ last instructions to His followers before He went to heaven were these words. “Go into all the world, make disciples of all nations.” That tells me He wants all people to hear the Gospel. So let’s do some math.
I have been a follower of Jesus for 56 years. If the first year I was a follower I had introduced one person to Christ then there would have been two of us. The next year if we each led a person to Jesus there would be four saved. Using this system four would become eight, then eight would become sixteen, and sixteen would become thirty-two. Following this multiplication process, if I reach one person a year and each one of those people reaches one, the math shows that after only thirty years over 10 BILLION people would have heard the Gospel. That is almost 3 billion more people than exist today.
Here is the bottom line. It is not the will of God that any should perish. God has the plan to reach all lost people. You are His plan. Now, will the person who has never heard the Gospel go to heaven is the wrong question. The right question is, What am I going to do about the people who have never heard the Gospel? If someone has not heard the Gospel today, it is not God’s fault. It’s ours!
This is a fictional story that I wrote a few years back. Nothing like this is happening in America— Yet.
Accept for the stars in the moonless night sky there was no light. The pale gray asphalt gave off enough of a glow that we could walk without stumbling. We were thankful for the dark, because we could walk the streets without drawing the attention of the soldiers. We made it to church that night without any trouble.
When we got to the dark house where we were to meet, our leader briefly turned his small flashlight on. He shined it in the dust at the side of the door. Even though most people would not have saw anything but random lines in the dirt, we clearly saw two lines that intersected to form a crude drawing of a fish. This was the sign that the meeting was happening and that it was safe to enter.
Without knocking the leader slowly opened the door, a small light illuminated our faces revealing out identities. A low voice said. “Follow me”. We walk down a short hall where a door opened to a room that had no windows. Crowded into the room were ten other people who had also come at great risk of their lives to worship The Lord.
In this small interior room we could speak without fear of being heard outside. The Pastor spoke up, “Welcome brothers, now that you are here we will start.” Then with a clear voice he began to sing, “We love you Lord, and we lift our voice to worship you O my King” and we all joined in to sing praises to God. We sang several songs and someone prayed.
Because Bibles had been outlawed no one had one, but the pastor passed out hand written copies of John Chapter 3. He then began to speak of how Nicodemas had come to Jesus in the night because it was also dangerous for him to worship Jesus. The pastor’s message was clear and comforting. I felt peace and courage as I listened.
But then the peace was vanquished by the sound of the front door being blasted open by gunshots. The boots of a dozen soldiers could be heard as they went from room to room. Then the door to the room we were in burst open. We were blinded by the bright lights that were attached to the soldier’s weapons.
I was paralyzed with fear. A voice from behind the lights demanded that we line up against the wall. One of the soldiers gathered up our copies of John and handed them to the leader. He looked at handwritten Words of Life and screamed, “Who wrote this crap”? The pastor stepped forward and began to say, “I did” but before he could say the words a bullet tore through His chest. His blood splattered over all of us.
Then the voice of the leader changed, where it had been harsh and loud now it was soothing and oily gentle. Pointing at the body of the pastor he said, “I know that you all really support your government and that you have simply been misled by this criminal”. He continued, “I am not an unreasonable person. Now that you have seen what happens to subversive criminals I know that you will want to renounce his teaching and declare this Jesus to be a fraud. If you wish to leave this room with your life then step forward and tell us that you know this Jesus is a foolish fairytale.
I have never been so scared in my life. My heart was beating at an insane rate. I did not want to die. I believe that Jesus is God; I had vowed to follow Him forever. I am ashamed of what I did next. I wish I had been brave, but I was not, I was a coward. I stepped forward. I could not hold my head up but I mumbled these words, “Jesus is a fake”.
Then one by one the rest of the Christians stepped up, and one by one they each said the words, “Jesus is a fake”. As we each denied Christ we were told to stand together on one side of the room. In a few minutes all but three had betrayed the Savior.
The three stood there, a teenage girl, a very old man and the pastor’s wife. They stood there weeping. The soldier pointed his weapon at them and said, “Renounce God or die”. The old man lifted his head and with clear and strong voice said, “Even so, though I die, I will never betray my Jesus.” As he said these words, the pastor wife and the young girl slipped their hands into his and lifted their eyes to the heavens. Their faces shown with a Holy Light and for a few seconds the room was silent. As if paralyzed by an invisible presence the soldiers were unable to speak.
Suddenly the lead soldier shook his head, as if he was shaking off the invisible presence. He pointed at us and roared “Leave”! We all scrambled to get out of that room through the front door. Once outside the house we stood looking at each other in shame.
Then we heard three voices begin to sing. The quavering voice of the old man, the grief stricken voice of the pastor’s wife and the high clear voice of the young lady began to sing, “Amazing Grace how sweet the sound”. There was an explosive sound of a gunshot. Silence! But then strong, and clear the pastor’s wife and the young girl sang out, “that saved a wretch like me” BOOM another gunshot shattered the night. There seemed to be no break in the song this time, the teenage girl continued to sing loudly and clearly, I once was lost but now I am found, was blind but now I See! A final shot rang out and the voices were silent.
I ran, along with the other Judases. The sound of the shooting faded but the song reverberated in my soul. I found a dark place to hide and prayed that Jesus would forgive a wretch like me.
People who know Jesus Christ as Lord believe that He is going to come again soon. And He is. We find assurance of this in 2 Peter. Inspired by God, Peter writes to help us remember and understand that the Father will keep His promise. Just as the world was once destroyed by a flood, it will most certainly one day be destroyed by fire. Before this happens however, Jesus will return to receive His bride the church, which is made up of true believers in Christ.
Unfortunately, there are many people who don’t believe this. Some think that it is just not possible, but they don’t understand the power of God. Others say that it has been over two thousand years since Christ was on earth, so therefore Jesus must not be coming back. These people don’t understand that God is the Creator of time and He is not constrained nor controlled by the calendar. The promise that Jesus will return has been made and this promise will be kept.
We in the Church like to say, “Even so Lord come quickly.” And we should look forward to His return. I know I do. But maybe we should stop going into our church buildings, shutting the doors behind us and singing, “The King is coming.” Instead we should be out preparing the way of the Lord because the Kingdom of God is near.
Jesus is patient. That is why He has not returned yet. God does not want anyone to perish. He wants everyone to repent and be saved. Since we know this, what sort of person should we be? The Bible teaches that we should walk in holiness as we go out and tell people The King is coming.
The day of the Lord is coming soon, but we don’t know when. Therefore, we should live every day at peace with God, confessing our sins and living righteously for Him. Understand this, every day that passes without His returning is another opportunity for us to share the Hope of salvation with your neighbor.
The promise was made and the promise will be kept. Jesus Christ will return in all His glory. So let us rejoice. Because soon and very soon we are going to see the King.
This posting is going to be a little different. Recently a friend asked me a rather deep spiritual question concerning destiny, free will and the Sovereignty of God. What follows Is his question and my answer
Question- Since God knows our destiny, how do we have the “free will” to make the right choice knowing that our destiny is already decided.
1. God is the creator of all things, including time.
2. As the Creator of time He Himself is not restricted by time. You and I can only see the present, remember the past and wonder about the future. I believe that it can be said that God sees the past, the present, and the future the same as we see the present.
3. Therefore God knows our destiny because He sees it being played out.
4. We have free will in that we are allowed to make our own choices.
5. God is sovereign because He knows what our choices will be and He allows us to make them.
The bottom line is this, The fact that God knows the things we will do does not mean that He forces us to do them.
I don’t know if this answers the question but maybe it will give you something to think about. Here is a passage of scripture that I lean on when I cannot get spiritual issues resolved in my head.
““For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” says the LORD. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways, And My thoughts than your thoughts.”Isaiah 55:8-9 NKJV
I once knew a man who became very sick. He went to the doctor for treatment. However, the doctor was unable to help him. He had an untreatable cancer and only a short time to live. What can a man do in this situation other than go home and get his house in order.
This man and his wife of many years had worked hard to build a house, a home and raise a family. As he looked around, he realized the house that he would leave behind was in shambles. Not wanting to leave his wife in such a rundown house he began to make sure it was restored and in good condition. Yes, he was going to be gone and would not benefit from the restored house, but he loved his wife, so he got the house in order.
Society is the house we live in and it is in shambles. It does not matter what your age is, you are not promised tomorrow. If you do not want to leave a broken and rundown house behind, do something to improve society today. Remember your loved ones are going to live in this world you leave behind.
So cover this world and your loved ones with prayer. Then broadcast seeds of the Gospel everywhere you go. Be kind to everyone and lend a helping hand to at least one person today.
Love God with all your heart and let this love be evident in your words and actions. Remember this, if one person has a closer walk with God because of your actions today, then you have made the world a better place for tomorrow. And you will have succeeded in setting your house in order.
I can’t find my hat. It’s been missing for a couple of weeks now. I have looked in all the usual places but can’t find it. It is not my only hat. I have other hats to wear, but it is my favorite hat. This hat is showing its age, it is ramshackle and out of shape, but so am I. Where is my hat?
Now it is just a hat and its value is mostly sentimental. If I don’t find it, I will be disappointed but I will get over it. At times, we have lost things of much more value than my hat. Sometimes the loss is devastating and other times the loss puts us in danger.
Some would say that our nation has lost its moral compass. Now concerning a compass, we know that the needle always points north. This knowledge is what gives us direction when we use a compass. If you are depending on a compass for direction, it can be dangerous if you lose it. However, it is even more dangerous to have a compass and disregard it because you don’t like the way it is pointing.
I’m not sure that our nation has lost its Moral Compass. After all the Bible is our Guide. The Word of God is Truth and Truth is the needle that always points to Jesus. The Word of God will never be lost. However, many people don’t like the Bible’s direction. So they disregard it. And they go the way that seems right to them. The way that seems right to them is deadly.
I am not talking about lost people. I am talking about church people. Pleasing people seems more important to some Christians than following God’s direction. So they go the way that seems right to them and that way is leading to the death of a nation.
Yes, the Bible is our Moral Compass. The truth that it contains is the needle that always points to Jesus. He is the Way and we must follow Him. I have lost my hat, but I have not lost the Helmet of Salvation. So, I must share the Gospel, because souls are too important to be lost!
Where is my hat? I don’t know. But I do know the Way, the Truth, and the Life. I will always follow Him.
We are a blessed people. We woke up in a dry and comfortable place this morning. Most of us had a good breakfast, if we wanted it. Indeed, God has given to most of us more toys, stuff and valuable junk than we ever had any right to expect. However, no matter how much stuff God has given us, we always want more. It seems that we are never satisfied.
The world has a way of convincing us that God’s gifts are not enough. Sometimes we accuse God of not being good to us just because we cannot afford the latest gadget. But, as much as we grumble and complain, we cannot deny that God has blessed us beyond anything we ever deserved. The fact is our Father in Heaven has provided our every need according to His riches in heaven.
As for me when I woke up this morning, I was cool, dry and comfortable. I knew I was going to have something to eat. I am healthy, so to God be the Glory. I said thank you Jesus for blessing me so much. However, I know that life can change in the blink of an eye. Tomorrow I may wake up in a cold damp cave. I may wake up hungry and sick. We never know what another day may bring into our lives. But this I do know, the God who is worthy of praise when life is easy, is also worthy of praise when life is hard.
In Philippians 4:11, the Apostle Paul tells us that he had learned to be content in whatever state he found himself. Paul knew that no matter what he faced in life, God was good and greatly to be praised. So let us learn to be content in what ever state we find ourselves. In good times or bad, in comfort or pain, in sickness or health, let us lift our hearts to heaven and praise God anyhow.
On April 16,1978 Deborah and I were married. On that day, by God’s Grace the two of us became one . In 1979 we purchased a house and it has been our home every since . In this house we have laughed and cried, we have fought and made up, we have celebrated and mourned. This is were we live. In this house we raised our family and every inch of it is coated with memories. It is our home, but it is not us, it is not our marriage.
This house greatly reflects our personalities. We are familiar with all the creaks and pops and every crack in the walls. There is contentment to be found in its every flaw and we want no more comfortable place than is our house. But if it is taken from us tonite and if tomorrow we are homeless we will still have each other because what God has joined together nothing can put asunder. You see this house is our home, but it is not us, it is not our marriage.
All over this land there are buildings that people call churches. Some are beautiful brick and mortar structures while others look more like metal warehouses. In these buildings church members have laughed and cried, they have fought and made up and they have celebrated and they have mourned. In these buildings the family of God has grown and they are filled with memories. But if all these buildings were destroyed today and we had no place to gather, we would still gather and we would still worship God. These buildings are not the church, they are not our salvation.
The church is the bride of Christ, Jesus is the bridegroom . He loves the church and He gave His life for her. But when Jesus said,” I will build my Church” He was not talking about brick and mortar. No, He was talking about us. Those of us who are His followers, we are His bride, we are His church. We have been chosen by God to be precious, living stones in the spiritual house that Jesus is building.
One day all these buildings that people call churches will rot and burn, they were never meant to be permanent. However The church that is the bride of Christ is built on a firm foundation and will never fail. Christ loves the church and gave Himself for us, He has sanctified and cleanse us and one day we will be presented to Him as a glorious church, holy and without blemish.