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Saturday, December 16, 2017

While I'm gone ...


Martin Zender
Zender
I've been gone for awhile, and will remain so for a bit more.

But I want you to learn when you come here, so I'm linking you to some great teaching by my friend Martin Zender on Romans 3:21-24. I've learned a lot from Martin, hopefully you will too.

Roman 3:21-23

More on Romans 3:21-23

Romans 3:21-24

Zender Newsletter archives  Martin's website

Friday, September 1, 2017

"Erasing Hell" author changing his tune?

Image result for erasing hell images I'm currently working on a 4-part critique of Erasing Hell, written by popular Christian authors/speakers Francis Chan and Preston Sprinkle. This book attempts to refute universal salvation through Jesus. Both authors teach that God will punish for all eternity those who don't believe in Jesus in this life.

Since co-authoring the very popular Erasing Hell in 2011, Preston Sprinkle has been speaking frequently and positively about annihilationism. This is the teaching that those who don't receive Jesus in this life will be resurrected, judged, then completely annihilated by God—they will no longer exist. You can hear his podcasts from 2016 here. The podcasts are played in reverse order and are numbers 186-169. Sprinkle has made it abundantly clear that he is not an annihilationist.

In addition to this, in 2017 on the podcast Pastor With No Answers (episode 84), host Joey Svendsen challenges his guests at the 21:20 mark, "Put a number to the chances that universalism is true." Sprinkle squirmingly gives his answer at the 26:30 mark. He says he is a "hopeful universalist." His number: "33.3333%" that universalism is true. He has more positive things to say in the podcast about the subject of universal salvation. Listen for yourself.

I'm also currently preparing for a discussion/debate with annihilationist Chris Date on the Pastor With No Answers podcast in mid September. Chris Date is a host on the Rethinking Hell podcast.

Monday, August 28, 2017

"Christian Universalism isn't Heresy?"

Image result for pastor with no answers imagesListen to my interview with Joey Svendsen of the Pastor With No Answers podcast.

This popular podcast is lay-it-all-on-the-table real. And Joey's a great guy, too.

Saturday, July 1, 2017

White lies matter


When presented with the truth that Jesus will save all humanity, some people wrongly assume that this means it doesn't matter how we live. They say, "Sin it up if we're all going to be saved in the end!" (Did I mention that they assume, and they are wrong?)

Related imageOne important area of life that affects us all is honesty, or its flip side, lying. I'm going to assume that we've all lied, and that we've all been lied to. Raise your hand if you like being lied to. I see. Either everyone has smelly pits today, or it's universal—people don't like being lied to. But for some reason we can easily justify lying to others.


Why do we lie?


We stretch the truth (sometimes to the point of breaking it) for many reasons. But the underlying motives are usually selfishness and/or fear, or we're running for political office. We predict that the truth won't benefit us as much as a lie, so we're dishonest.

Sometimes we fear punishment because we've done something wrong, so we lie to escape the consequences of our actions. But if our wrongdoing is discovered, the fact that we lied to cover it only adds to our punishment.

I remember when my kids were young and would do something wrong, whether intentionally or by accident. Sometimes they would lie to cover up their dastardly deed. But if I discovered their deed, it would often pale in comparison to the fact that they lied to try to cover it. Their dishonesty was much more serious to me than the fact that they ate my whole container of Oreos.

When you sit at the poker table, you expect to be lied to. Poker players quietly lie out of necessity—the bluff. It's part of the game.

Spies lie for patriotism, and because they prefer to remain alive.

Lies kept Anne Frank and her family safe from the German police for two years during World War II. Was this wrong? No. The motive was to save lives. And when the Franks were discovered by the Germans, they were sent to concentration camps, where some of them died.

The motive for deception is key as to whether the lie is justified or not.


A Biblical catch-22


Sometimes lying is justified if it's the lesser of two evils. Yes, the lesser of two evils is a thing that even Jesus talked about. Jesus said to the Jews in John 7:22–24,
22 Yet, because Moses gave you circumcision (though actually it did not come from Moses, but from the patriarchs), you circumcise a boy on the Sabbath. 23 Now if a boy can be circumcised on the Sabbath so that the law of Moses may not be broken, why are you angry with me for healing a man’s whole body on the Sabbath? 24 Stop judging by mere appearances, but instead judge correctly. (NIV)

The Jews were constantly accusing Jesus of working on the Sabbath. Jesus reminded them that they circumcise on the sabbath to keep the circumcision law which said a newborn male was to be circumcised on the eighth day (Leviticus 12:3). This catch-22 was solved by choosing the law of circumcision over the law of doing no work on the sabbath. One law was broken so that a greater law could be upheld.

Can we apply this principle to lying? I think so. There are definitely times when lying is the lesser of two evils. The problem arises from misapplying this principle and overusing it for selfish reasons.

You'll have to determine what to do in the situations that arise in your life. It would be impossible to list all the scenarios that could come up and what you should do in each. When faced with a situation where you could lie, checking your motive is always a good place to start.

God will eventually judge whether you made the right decisions or not. But you should be the first line of judgment for your own actions—"For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged" (1 Corinthians 11:31 AKJV).


Biblical examples of "legal" lying


Rahab, the prostitute from Jericho, lied to keep two Israelite spies safe (see Joshua 2). She and her family were spared when Jericho fell (Joshua 6:16–25). Rahab is also mentioned with some of the heavyweights of faith for her work, which included lies (Hebrews 11:30–31; James 2:25).

In a very interesting Bible story, God sent a lying spirit to deceive Israel's evil king Ahab (2 Chronicles 18). This deception used by God led to Ahab's judgment and death. 

His Israelite slaves were multiplying too fast, so Pharaoh ordered the midwives to kill all male Hebrew babies immediately after they were born by throwing them into the Nile. One of these babies, Moses, was saved and hidden, and a clever deception put him back with his mother until he was weaned (Exodus 1:15–2:10). Plot twist: then Moses grew up as a son to Pharaoh's very own daughter.


Diplomatic immunity


In Deuteronomy 13:1–5, God sends false prophets and enables them to do signs and wonders to test Israel's love for Him.
If a prophet, or one who foretells by dreams, appears among you and announces to you a sign or wonder, and if the sign or wonder spoken of takes place, and the prophet says, “Let us follow other gods” (gods you have not known) “and let us worship them,” you must not listen to the words of that prophet or dreamer. The Lord your God is testing you to find out whether you love him with all your heart and with all your soul. It is the Lord your God you must follow, and him you must revere. Keep his commands and obey him; serve him and hold fast to him. That prophet or dreamer must be put to death for inciting rebellion against the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt and redeemed you from the land of slavery. That prophet or dreamer tried to turn you from the way the Lord your God commanded you to follow. You must purge the evil from among you. (NIV)

2 Thessalonians 2:8–12 tells us God will send a great deception in the end times,
then will be unveiled the lawless one (whom the Lord Jesus will despatch with the spirit of His mouth and will discard by the advent of His presence), 9 whose presence is in accord with the operation of Satan, with all power and signs and false miracles 10 and with every seduction of injustice among those who are perishing, because they do not receive the love of the truth for their salvation. 11 And therefore God will be sending them an operation of deception, for them to believe the falsehood, 12 that all may be judged who do not believe the truth, but delight in injustice. (CLNT)

Throughout Scripture God uses Satan (see previous passage), who is described by Jesus in John 8:44,
You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.

Do these methods used by God give us a license to do the same? No. There are things God does that we can't do—send His Son to die to save all, sit on the judgment seat of the universe, flood the earth, destroy the earth by fire, kill 185,000 Assyrians in one night, and on and on.

God is the potter, and we are the clay (Romans 9:14–21). God is King, therefore He has full diplomatic immunity to do whatever is necessary to run His universe.


Liar, liar, pants on fire ...


In Proverbs 6:16–19 we see some things that God hates,
Image result for lying with fingers crossed behind back imageThere are six things the Lord hates. There are seven things he cannot stand: 17 a proud look, a lying tongue, hands that kill innocent people, 18 a mind that thinks up evil plans, feet that are quick to do evil, 19 a witness who tells lies and a man who causes trouble among brothers.
International Children's Bible (ICB)

Two of the seven things listed have to do with lying. I think this should make it clear to us how God feels about lying, regardless of the color of the lie. God says in Revelation 21:8,
But those who are cowards, who refuse to believe, who do evil things, who kill, who are sexually immoral, who do evil magic, who worship idols, and who tell lies—all these will have a place in the lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death. (ICB)

It's not looking good for liars. Repent.


Why do the right thing?


Jesus died for all of our sins. So who cares how we live? God does. And so should you.

"Why would I obey God if He's going to save me anyway?" The answer? Love.

When a person begins to truly understand God's love for them, he will love Him. "We are loving God, for He first loves us" (1 John 4:19 CLNT). God is the initiator of love. We are the beneficiaries and responders to His great love for us. Obedience based out of fear and obligation is still obedience, but it's not God's goal. His goal is a harmonious relationship with His children based on love.

And that's no lie.

Sincerely,
Wes

Friday, June 23, 2017

Look at what you CAN'T see

Image result for trouble in your face image
We see and feel them all around us—troubles, afflictions, tribulations, pressures—and they're usually right in our face. That's why they get the bulk of our attention.

But it's what we can't see that deserves our attention. These are the things God tells us to focus on. Why? Because they're so bloody good!

The following is a mash-up of 2 Corinthians 4:17–18 using a few Bible versions,

For the momentary lightness of our afflictions, troubles, tribulations and pressures is producing for us a transcendently transcendent eonian weight of glory, 18 So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eonian.

Some things to note:
  • Though the afflictions of life can feel like boulders on your shoulders, when compared to the future weight of glory, they are in reality momentary and light. But we must look on the heavy duty unseen to see the relative smallness of our afflictions.
  • All this stuff we're suffering through produces something for us, "a transcendently transcendent eonian weight of glory" (v.17). In the Greek transcendently transcendent is hyperbolen eis hyperbolen. Hyperbolen means: a throwing beyond, excess, superiority. And it's used twice here. We're looking at a weight of glory that is beyond the beyond. Even though we can't grasp the full greatness of this, we can know that it is indeed great, great enough for us to focus on the future weight of glory and not the current crap in our face.
  • Eonion means lasting for the age(s). It's contrasted with the momentariness of our afflictions and pressures.

And suffering produces other good things in us, "Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance" (Romans 5:3 - NIV). And James 1:2–4 in the NIV,

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

Perseverance, maturity, completeness—God installs these qualities in us on the assembly line of suffering.


Everybody hurts


Jesus blazed the trail for us in the suffering department. And He suffered to the point of death. Hebrews 2:10 says, "Everything was made for God and by God. It seemed good to him that Jesus' life should be made complete, by going through the hard things that happened to him" (Worldwide English New Testament). 

Whether we like it or not, suffering completes us.  We can usually see the truth of this after the suffering is over. But while we're in the center of it we're usually blind to God's intended result. This is where we need to see the unseen with the eyes of faith.

And if it makes you feel any better, realize that ALL people suffer—rich, poor, short, tall, attractive, ugly, skinny, not skinny, Kardashian, non-Kardashian. Everybody you see today (and everyday) has something in their life that hurts.

I'm often lifted in my spirit when I see someone suffering far worse than me. I don't get joy in their suffering. But when I see someone persevering through great suffering, it gives me hope and proof that it can be done. I'm inspired by their ability to smile and live life with joy despite great affliction. And humanity is full of stories of people who've suffered greatly and come out of it better people than before the suffering began.

Suffering completed Jesus. But I'm sure He kept smiling. Not a fake smile. A joyful smile that came from focusing on the end result of His afflictions.

Even God suffers as He patiently endures the waywardness of His creation. But He knows the end that He will eventually create for all.


Delayed gratification


These are dirty words in our everything-is-at-our-fingertips world. But we don't get to choose the lifespan of our suffering. Suffering to some degree will be with us from cradle to grave. And the afflictions we now face will make the "eonian weight of glory" that much more special through the principle of contrast. Our joy then will be enhanced when contrasted with the suffering we've gone through to obtain the end result.

But we don't always have to wait 'til the next life to enjoy the end of suffering. A mother can joyfully hold her fresh new baby after months of carrying the child and going through the excruciating pain of childbirth. A graduating student can get their diploma or degree after years of going through the hardships of school. And there are millions of other victories to be gained in this life, but most of them come after some kind of suffering.

We are told in the Bible to look to Jesus (Who, by the way, we can't literally see). He's our example. He lived 2 Corinthians 4:17–18. Hebrews 12:2 tells us,

We must never stop looking to Jesus. He is the leader of our faith, and he is the one who makes our faith complete. He suffered death on a cross. But he accepted the shame of the cross as if it were nothing because of the joy he could see waiting for him. And now he is sitting at the right side of God’s throne.
                                                                               Easy-to-Read Version (ERV)

Jesus knew His mission that brought Him to earth wasn't going to be easy. He knew He would be hated by the world that He created. He knew He was going to die for His enemies as they mocked and scoffed at Him. BUT ... He could also see the joy waiting for Him when His momentary troubles were over.

Was it worth it? Yes! He's no longer on the cross, He's "sitting at the right side of God’s throne!"


You haven't seen or heard ...


1 Corinthians 2:7–16 from the Concordant Literal New Testament (I know this is a long quote, but drink it in, it's powerful),

Related imagebut we are speaking God's wisdom in a secret, wisdom which has been concealed, which God designates before -- before the eons, for our glory, 8 which not one of the chief men of this eon knows, for if they know, they would not crucify the Lord of glory. 9 But, according as it is written, That which the eye did not perceive, and the ear did not hear, and to which the heart of man did not ascend -- whatever God makes ready for those who are loving Him. 10 Yet to us God reveals them through His spirit, for the spirit is searching all, even the depths of God. 11 For is any of humanity acquainted with that which is human except the spirit of humanity which is in it? Thus also, that which is of God no one knows, except the spirit of God. 12 Now we obtained, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God, that we may be perceiving that which is being graciously given to us by God, 13 which we are speaking also, not with words taught by human wisdom, but with those taught by the spirit, matching spiritual blessings with spiritual words. 14 Now the soulish man is not receiving those things which are of the spirit of God, for they are stupidity to him, and he is not able to know them, seeing that they are spiritually examined. 15 Now he who is spiritual is, indeed, examining all, yet he is being examined by no one. 16 For who knew the mind of the Lord? Who will be deducing from Him? Yet we have the mind of Christ.

That's the key to this whole thing, "have the mind of Christ!" When we know God and His Son, we have the mind of Christ in us. We can see things from God's perspective, not just our limited human point of view. Suffering is all around us, but with the mind of Christ—God's Spirit in you—you can see beyond the in-your-face afflictions in life to the joy that is waiting for you.

If you don't know Jesus, call on His name now. Get the mind of Christ today.


Sincerely,
Wes

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Jesus and the dirty IRS Agent

Get ready to open your wallet America. The tax man cometh! And he wants to squeeze every penny out of you that he can. Then after all your pennies are gone, he'll come for your life (or maybe he'll just steal one of your pigs).

One real head-scratcher in the IRS code is why you lose the child tax credit when your child turns 17. I've now lost this credit three times. From my experience, kids' expenses go up the older they get. Apparently this code was written by someone who never had kids of their own. Someone who hates kids and their hard-working parents, but loves the perks of their government job ... and had to find a way to pay for their private insurance that we lowly citizens don't have access to.   

Ahh, the IRS. Don't you hate it? Always putting its sticky hands into your pocket to swipe your hard-earned cash.

Oh well, whatta ya gonna do? Tax collectors have been taking more than their fair share ever since taxes came into being.

Are all tax collectors evil? Probably.

But even dirty IRS agents aren't beyond the long arm of Jesus.

The following story is a small picture of Jesus' plan for underhanded tax collectors ... and the rest of us.
  
Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through. A man was there by the name of Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was wealthy (you're shocked, I'm sure). He wanted to see who Jesus was, but because he was short he could not see over the crowd. So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree to see Him, since Jesus was coming that way. When Jesus reached the spot, He looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.” So he came down at once and welcomed Him gladly. All the people saw this and began to mutter, “He has gone to be the guest of a sinner.” But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.” Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham. 10 For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” (Luke 19) (I added the part in red.)


Little Zacchaeus and the bigger picture


Jesus is currently saving the world one sinner at a time.

When Jesus stops by your house, what will you do? Will you welcome Him gladly, like Zacchaeus did, even though he knew he was a sinner?

Will you welcome Jesus gladly regardless of what the mutterers and gossips will say? Because you know they'll say something. But that's not going to stop Jesus. Will their opinion and greasy words stop you?

Notice the immediate influence of Jesus on Zacchaeus' life (verse 8). He acknowledged his wrongs and sought to make them right. This is repentance in action. This is part of what happens when someone meets Jesus - change for the better.

I wonder what the mutterers said after Zacchaeus was transformed by Jesus? Doesn't really matter anyway. I'm sure the poor and those he had cheated were thrilled with Zacchaeus' new life. 

Jesus came to seek and save the lost. And that day was Zacchaeus' day of salvation.

OK, maybe you're not a dirty pig-stealing IRS agent. But we're all lost without Jesus. And since He said He came to seek and to save the lost,” He'll do just that.

All of us are lost without Jesus, and all of us will be saved by Jesus. It's basic math, not confusing IRS math.

If Jesus hasn't already saved you from your sin and set you free, He will.

Be ready. Your day will come.

  

Saturday, February 4, 2017

"Is Tom Brady content yet?"

In 2005 Tom Brady - at that time the 30-year-old winner of 3 Super Bowls - made some surprising statements to 60 Minutes' Steve Kroft.



His three Super Bowl wins came in his first five years in the NFL. That's pretty good.

Since 2005, Brady has lost two Super Bowls and won another. That's 4 trips to the top of the mountain! Maybe he's getting bored.

If Tom's still lacking contentment after winning 4 Super Bowls, will winning more rings do the trick? How many will it take - five ... six ... one for each finger? I don't think so. Eating sand will never satisfy a guy who's made to eat steak. And eating more sand will never change this fact (though it may lead to some incredibly clean bowels).

Though Brady makes a lot of money, it doesn't seem to be his driving force. He's not even one of the top ten highest paid NFL quarterbacks. He's currently #12, in your program and on the pay scale.

Image result for gisele bundchen pray for tom brady
Hmmm ... I can't decide whose hair is more magnificent.

Contentment enhancers


Tom now has something he didn't have back in '05 - a Brady Bunch. He's married to a rich Brazilian supermodel with a cool German-looking name, Gisele B√ľndchen (go ahead, say it out loud, it's fun - Ju-zel Boond-chin!). The Bunch also has three kids and an extra mommy of the oldest son.

Maybe marriage and kids have answered the question Tom didn't have the answer for in 2005. Obviously marriage and kids can surpass any satisfaction and contentment gained from career accomplishments. But even the depth of satisfaction that can come from having your own bunch can fall short of fulfilling our greatest need.


Our greatest need


I heard the story of a man who spent his whole life striving to climb to the top of the success ladder. One day, late in his life, he finally made it. "This is what I've always dreamed of," he thought to himself. He looked around with pride in his life-long accomplishment. Then, in an instant, the happy feeling was gone. He barely had time to enjoy it. With a heavy weight in his chest, he looked around and realized that he'd set his ladder against the wrong wall. Crappers.

A man can make it to the top of the ladder, even the top of the mountain. But there's something way above these two high points in life. You knew I'd get to it eventually, so here it is: God. Yeah, He's our greatest need, our ultimate goal. What's higher than Him? What else in life is more worthy of our attention and devotion than Him?

You see, God knows that He is our ultimate goal, so He diminishes anything else that we would chase after in place of Him. Yeah, He lets us go on these wild-goose chases as we chase success, fame, money, Super Bowl rings and an innumerable array of things. He may even let us chase our whole life. He may allow us to chase and never attain that which we think will satisfy us. But if we do grab it (whatever "it" is), God will ensure that the joy will be short-lived.


Absentee Child


We've all heard about absentee fathers - the ones who aren't there for their offspring either physically or emotionally or both. Based on the events leading up to this year's Super Bowl, it's clear that Tom has a great relationship with his earthly father.



An earthly father's presence in his child's life is essential. When the father's gone, there's a huge void that only the father can fill.

But how big of a void exists when your heavenly Father, your Creator, is absent from your life? Is He absent because He left you, or because you've unknowingly (or knowingly) turned your back on Him while you're busy chasing your dreams that don't include Him? Are you an absentee child? Is Tom Brady an absentee child? In fact, we are all absentee children in some way until we come to our heavenly Father.

Acts 17:26-27,

From one man He made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and He marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands. 27 God did this so that they would seek Him and perhaps reach out for Him and find Him, though He is not far from any one of us.

He's so close, and yet so far away if our focus is on other things - even good things - that just can't satisfy and bring contentment like Jesus can. Are you and Tom Brady seeking Him and reaching out for Him?


Tom Brady's just like us


I don't know what Tom Brady knows about Jesus. I don't know if Tom Brady knows Jesus. I don't know if his Brazilian supermodel wife knows Jesus. I know she asks people to pray for Tom to win Super Bowls, so she must think Someone is out there hearing those prayers. But praying to win the big game and knowing God are two different things.

I'm no Tom Brady. I can't pull off the magnificent hair thing ... or the 4 Super Bowl thing. But I can match Tom in this - I'm human and so is he (except on the field, there he's a machine!). I've asked the same question Tom Brady asked in the video (but with different words) - "Is this all there is to my life?" I asked this question in my early twenties. Tom waited til he was thirty. Maybe you've asked this question. If you haven't done it yet, you will. You can read my story here.


Learn from Tom


One lesson you can hopefully take away from Tom Brady's experience is this: reaching the mountaintop of a career or some other endeavor will not provide lasting contentment. It may not even provide enough contentment to last to the end of the day that you reach the summit.

There are innumerable mountains that we can spend our valuable time climbing in this life. And none of them reach as high as Jesus. But the cool thing is this - you don't need to climb a mountain to get to Jesus. He has to come to you, because you can't get to where He is on your own. Believe in Him and call on His name - He'll show up.


Learn from me


Maybe you can learn something from my life. I hope you can learn that true, lasting contentment can only come when you have a relationship with your heavenly Father. Nothing in my life brings me happiness and contentment like my relationship with Jesus and my heavenly Father. And I have an awesome family that makes me as happy as they possibly can. I love them with all my heart. But even they can't take the place of God in my life. And they don't have to. I can have both, just like Tom Brady can have all his Super Bowl rings, his Brady Bunch and Jesus. He just needs to realize that Jesus is #1. But even if you have nothing in life, you can still have Jesus.

Jesus said this to a group of religious people in John 5:39-40,

"Search the scriptures, for in them you are supposing you have life eonian, and those are they which are testifying concerning Me, 40 and not willing are you to come to Me that you may have life." (Concordant Literal New Testament)

The mountaintop for these people was knowing the Scriptures. But they didn't realize that the Scriptures they idolized pointed them to Jesus. And they refused to believe in Him and come to Him. So they didn't receive the eonion life only He could give them. They had life, but they didn't have The Life that came by knowing Jesus.

Jesus spoke this to His Father in John 17:3,

"Now it is eonian life that they may know Thee, the only true God, and Him Whom Thou dost commission, Jesus Christ." (CLNT)

The Life is knowing Jesus and and His Father. Tom Brady has a life that is probably envied by millions. But does he have The Life? I don't know.

I have The Life, and I wouldn't trade it for anything, not even magnificent hair.

Sincerely,
Wes

P.S. - The story of the prodigal son (or absentee child) is the story of each one of us.

P.P.S. - Here are some other Scriptures that relate to this post that will help you:
Then [Jesus] said to them, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.” (Luke 12:15 - NIV)
“Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised.” (Job 1:21 - NIV)
Jesus answered and said to her, "Everyone who is drinking of this water will be thirsting again,
14 yet whoever may be drinking of the water which I shall be giving him, shall under no circumstances be thirsting for the eon, but the water which I shall be giving him will become in him a spring of water, welling up into life eonian." (John 4:13-14 - CLNT)
"Verily, verily, I am saying to you that he who is hearing My word and believing Him Who sends Me, has life eonian and is not coming into judging, but has proceeded out of death into life." (John 5:24 - CLNT)
Jesus, then, said to them, "I am the Bread of life. He who is coming to Me should under no circumstances be hungering, and he who is believing in Me will under no circumstances ever be thirsting." (John 6:35 - CLNT)
[Jesus said] "The thief is not coming except that he should be stealing and sacrificing and destroying. I came that they may have life eonian, and have it superabundantly." (John 10:10 -CLNT)
Jesus is saying to him, "I am the Way and the Truth and the Life. No one is coming to the Father except through Me." (John 14:6 - CLNT)

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Passive Salvation

This post is part 2 to Gypping Jesus. In that post I said Jesus will get all that He paid for on the cross. This includes the salvation of all people.

But how does He save all people when most people don't want anything to do with Him?


Image result for sheep running from shepherd image
This can't end well.

Straying sheep


Jesus, "the Great Shepherd of the sheep" (Hebrews 13:20), has been given a job by His Father: save all people of the earth from sin and death. That's billions of people.

The problem? All the people of the earth have strayed from Him to do their own thing. The sheep are trying to shepherd themselves. Guess how that ends up.

The prophet Isaiah says,
All we like sheep have gone astray; We have turned, every one, to his own way (Isaiah 53:6)
And our own way puts us in tough spots. But thankfully, Someone is going to rescue us. Yes, the Great Shepherd.

But we're often confused by His timing. We see millions of people go into the toughest spot of all - death - without being rescued by Jesus. Where was the Great Shepherd when they needed Him?
Image result for sheep running from shepherd image
Ever wonder to yourself, "How did I end up here?"

Though death seems to be an insurmountable obstacle to us, it isn't to Him. He already overcame death by His own resurrection. So when the straying sheep is in death, the Great Shepherd will raise him or her up.

Jesus said in John 5:28-29, "Marvel not at this, for coming is the hour in which all who are in the tombs shall hear His voice, 29 and those who do good shall go out into a resurrection of life, yet those who commit bad things, into a resurrection of judging." The main point of these verses is that all will be rescued from death. No sheep can stray beyond the reach of the Great Shepherd.

Yes, some will go into judgment after their resurrection. But the goal of this judgment is clear. Jesus said in John 5:22-23, "For neither is the Father judging anyone, but has given all judging to the Son, 23 that all may be honoring the Son, according as they are honoring the Father." There it is in bold -  that all may be honoring the Son. This is the ultimate goal of all judgment handed out by Jesus.  


The Great Shepherd is working


Look at what Jesus has already done for all of us straying sheep.
  • He left the comforts of Heaven where He was with His Father
  • He came to seek and save that which was lost (Luke 19:10)
  • He came to earth where He was hated (John 15:18-25)
  • He faced continual opposition - mostly from religious people
  • He was killed by the world He came to rescue
  • He was separated from His Father in His death
  • He overcame death by His resurrection
And He's still working. Straying sheep are currently being rescued. When He returns to the earth, He will complete the massive task His Father gave Him to do (1 Corinthians 15:22-28).


The Great Shepherd owns all 


What are sheep good at? Well, they can provide meat, milk, wool and hides (but they're not thrilled about the meat and hides thing). They can control unwanted vegetation. And they can be cute and cuddly. But they are also good at straying. This is why they need a shepherd - to protect them from themselves and predators.

To the shepherd who owns the sheep, they are very valuable. To the shepherd who doesn't actually own the sheep he shepherds, well, they're not valuable enough to risk his life for (John 10:11-13).

This is what makes the Great Shepherd different. He made us. He owns us. We're all valuable to Him. Valuable enough to willingly lay down His life on the cross. Valuable enough to continue to work until the salvation of all sheep is a reality.

Jesus truly cares for us,
But when He saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion for them, because they were weary and scattered, like sheep having no shepherd. (Matthew 9:36)
Ever feel weary and scattered? These are symptoms of a Shepherdless soul. Jesus can fix that.


The Great Shepherd highly values every single sheep


Do you want proof that every sheep is important to Jesus and His Father? Here it is. Jesus said,Image result for sheep running from shepherd image
"For the Son of man is come to save that which was lost. What man of you, having an hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, does not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which is lost, until he find it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying unto them, 'Rejoice with me; for I have found my sheep which was lost.' I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repents, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance. Even so it is not the will of your Father which is in heaven, that one of these little ones should perish." (Luke 15:4-7 and Matthew 18:11,14)
Obviously Jesus isn't talking about sheep. He's talking about humans - us! Read this again, only insert children or child for sheep. Who among you wouldn't do all he could for your lost child who is in the wilderness? Unless you're a heartless douchebag, you now get a glimpse at the heart of Jesus and His Father.

Notice in the first sentence why Jesus (a.k.a. - "the Son of man") came to the earth - "to save that which was lost." Do you think He came to save all, or only part, of what was lost? A 99% success rate would be awesome for us. But 99% falls short of Jesus' standard. He wants nothing less than 100% of His sheep.

Now look at that last powerful sentence taken from Matthew 18:14. It's clear that God's will is that none of these little ones should perish. In the eyes of the world, we were all "little ones" at one time in our life. But in the eyes of your loving heavenly Father, you'll always be a "little one." All three of my young adult children are still my "babies." And that will never change because I'm their father. Does God's will for any "little ones" change as they grow older? No! Do we ever outgrow our value to God? No! Read this -
The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance. (2 Peter 3:9)
There you have it. Not 99%. ALL!


The Great Shepherd will overwhelm all the straying sheep


Saul was a baaad-baaad sheep before Jesus got him. This same Saul, who later became known as Paul, is the same guy who wrote about half of the New Testament. There are three words he uses to describe himself in the first part of 1 Timothy 1:13. Here's how several Bible versions translate these three words:
persecutor, outrager, blasphemer, injurious, shameful outrageous violent aggressor, calumniator (make false and defamatory statements), aggressively insulting, arrogant, cruel, overbearing, violent, contumelious (scornful and insulting), proud, oppressor, hunted down [Jesus'] people, invective (insulting, abusive, or highly critical), religious terrorism, slandering the things of God, full of wrongs, speaking evil
I told you he was a bad dude! And what do you think Jesus did to this bad-ass straying sheep named Saul? This former "little one" who wandered off got the holy ghost smackdown. Starting in the very same verse that told us how bad Saul was, we read these amazing words,
" ... but I was shown mercy, seeing that I do it being ignorant, in unbelief. 14 Yet the grace of our Lord overwhelms, with faith and love in Christ Jesus. 15 Faithful is the saying, and worthy of all welcome, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, foremost of whom am I. 16 But therefore was I shown mercy, that in me, the foremost, Jesus Christ should be displaying all His patience, for a pattern of those who are about to be believing on Him for life eonian." (1 Timothy 1 - CLNT)
There's so much in these words that several books could be written on these few verses alone.

A few highlights. Scoundrel Saul, "the foremost" or chief of sinners (v.15):
  • was shown mercy - v.13
  • was overwhelmed by Jesus with grace, faith and love - v.14
  • was used by Jesus to display all His patience - v.16
  • became a pattern of those who will later believe in Jesus - v.16
Since Saul was "a pattern" for those who would eventually believe in Jesus, all other straying sheep will also be shown mercy and overwhelmed by Jesus with grace, faith and love.

When you are overwhelmed by something, you are powerless against it. When Jesus overwhelms a straying sinner with grace, faith and love, it will be rescued. Once Jesus lays that sheep on His shoulders, it's all over. The sheep is no longer lost in the wilderness. The lost has become found. This is great news for the sheep.

This is how the Savior of the world actually saves the whole wide freaking world - He overwhelms it with grace, faith and love. His Father gave Him all authority in heaven and earth to finish His work (Matthew 28:18). And who's gonna stop the Almighty Son of God from doing this? No one!

Until Jesus completes His task to save all that was lost, we can only live one day at a time while faithfully looking to the amazing future.
Then [God] will send you Jesus, your long-heralded Christ, although for the time He must remain in Heaven until that universal restoration of which God spoke in ancient times through all his holy prophets. (Acts 3:21 - Phillips)

Sincerely,
Wes



Friday, December 23, 2016

Gypping Jesus

Related image
The prince of gyppers
Has this - or something kinda like it - ever happened to you?

You pull up under the Golden Arches because you're craving some of the world's best fries and a Big Mac. You smell that smell.

You already know what you want as your eyes feast on the menu covered with images of perfect burgers. You don't care that your Big Mac won't look that good. It's the taste you're after.

You clearly and politely enunciate your order so no mistakes are made. Your mouth begins to water as you pull two crumpled five-dollar bills from your tattered leather fanny pack.

Tears begin to run down your face in anticipation as you ease your moped toward the first window to pay. By the time you get to the second window you're sobbing and drooling, and people are staring, pointing and laughing at you. You don't care!

You thank the window-food-lady and speed off to the local park to devour your prey. You nearly snap in half your six-foot tall orange moped flag pole in your haste.

You open the bag.

You inventory the contents: Big Mac - check; ketchup packets - check; forty extra napkins - check; fries ... fries? ... fries?! ... NO FRIES! What the @#%&? (Except you didn't say "@#%&".)

Depression and red-hot fiery anger flood your body. You throw the Big Mac to the ground in disgust. You fly home, snapping the six-foot tall orange moped flag pole in your haste. You throw on your pajamas (nevermind that it's only 12:42 in the afternoon) and watch Jerry Springer re-runs the rest of the day. It's the lowest point of your life.

You were gypped.


Jesus' shopping spree


Jesus came to earth to buy something. No, He came to buy everything. He scanned the menu, and He wants the whole thing - regardless of how it looks right now. The cost? Two crumpled fives? Not even close. Jesus didn't even wear a stupid fanny pack (that was Judas' job). The cost was His life!

Feast your eyes on these verses.
19 For it pleased the Father that in Him all the fullness should dwell, 20 and by Him to reconcile all things to Himself, by Him, whether things on earth or things in heaven, having made peace through the blood of His cross. (Colossians 1 - New King James Version)
Did you see that - He came "to reconcile all things to Himself ... things on earth or things in heaven, having made peace through the blood of His cross."
Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption. (Hebrews 9:12 - NKJV)
There it is again - "His own blood."
But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. (Ephesians 2:13 - NKJV)
Boom! Again - "the blood of Christ."
18 knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot. (1 Peter 1 - NKJV)
Is it precious in your eyes - "the precious blood of Christ"?
And they sang a new song, saying: “You are worthy to take the scroll, And to open its seals; For You were slain, And have redeemed us to God by Your blood out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation (Revelation 5:9 - NKJV)
Jesus doesn't care about where you were born or the color of your skin. He created the color of your skin. He bought us for God by His blood! This is heavy stuff man! Are you getting it?

And this - don't skip this. Put your eyeballs on it and think hard about it.
4 [God our Savior] will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth. 5 For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; 6 Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time. (1 Timothy 2)
So Jesus bought all things - this includes all people - with His precious blood. But He hasn't taken possession of everything yet. It's like He bought the whole freakin' store, grabbed a giant shopping cart and is putting the stuff He owns into the cart. It doesn't happen all at once. But when He's finished the cart will be filled with the complete inventory of the store. All men will be in the cart. All men will be saved. None will be left on the shelf to rot. Jesus bought every person because He wants every person.

Jesus' Father gave Him the power to do this, and He's going to do it. Check this out.
[God has] put all things in subjection under his feet. For in subjecting all things to him, He left nothing that is not subject to him. But now we do not yet see all things subjected to him. But we do see Him who was made a little while lower than the angels, namely, Jesus, because of the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, so that by the grace of God He might taste death for everyone. (Hebrews 2:8-9)
Ok. How do I know all things will become subject to Jesus? I'm glad you asked.
24 Then comes the end, when [Jesus] delivers the kingdom to God the Father, when He puts an end to all rule and all authority and power. 25 For He must reign till He has put all enemies under His feet. 26 The last enemy that will be destroyed is death. 27 For “He has put all things under His feet.” But when He says “all things are put under Him,” it is evident that He who put all things under Him is excepted. 28 Now when all things are made subject to Him, then the Son Himself will also be subject to Him who put all things under Him, that God may be all in all. (1 Corinthians 15)
So when it's all said and done, the cart will be completely full, and God will have everything subject to Him. He will then be "all in all."


The attempted gypping of God's Son


Jesus doesn't have to hire out the job of getting all that He's paid for. He believes in the old saying, "If you want something done right, you gotta do it yourself." Besides, no mere mortal can accomplish the things God has empowered Jesus to do.

But, alas, some say He will not be able to get all that He's purchased. Some say His shopping cart is just too small, and He's going to run out of time. Who are these people? Sad to say, those who proclaim His inability to do this are the very ones who claim to be His followers. They carry His book, wear crosses, gather together on Sundays, and thank Him for their own salvation. But they don't believe He will do what He came to do - buy all things with His blood, save all people, and bring all things under His Father.

Yes, mainstream Christianity says Jesus is going to get gypped. And they say mere mortals are the ones who are going to gyp Him. Hmm, how they gonna do that? Well, apparently when Jesus reaches toward the shelf to put people into His enormous cart, most will simply say to Him, "No, Jesus. I like the shelf." He will honor their desire and leave them. End of story.

Or is it?

Check out my next blog post - Passive Salvation - to see how Jesus gets all people off the shelf and into His cart.

Sincerely,
Wes

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Look Hillary! Clear proof that the election is rigged

Image result for Hillary Clinton whispering images
"Commence 'Operation Big Rig.'"
Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton are in the homestretch. And both of these saggy, slightly-overweight politicians are probably excited that the finish line is in sight. Election day, November 8th ... or is it the 28th? ... , is quickly approaching, and soon the United States will have a new president.

Trump has recently been accusing the media, politicians, and those overseeing polling sites of rigging elections. He is 100% correct that elections are rigged. But he's blindly pointing his finger at those he thinks are pulling the strings, while the identity of the real rigger remains anonymous - until now.

So who is The Donald not seeing that has the the real clout and stealthiness to secretly seat chosen individuals into the most powerful chairs on the planet?

God.  

Yes, God is the rigger of elections and the determiner of victors.


You should know this


God has revealed the fact of His election of leaders for all to see. Have you seen it?

God's dealings with Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon, in Daniel 4 is an example to the whole world of God's control over mankind.

God humbles the proud, powerful king so that "the living may know that the Most High rules in the kingdom of men, gives it to whomever He will, and sets over it the lowest of men" (Daniel 4:17).  

After the king is humbled by God, he comes to understand that it is God Who gave him his kingdom and power.  Nebuchadnezzar then says in Daniel 4:35,

All the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing; He does according to His will in the army of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth. No one can restrain His hand or say to Him, “What have You done?”

We may not like God's choice for the new president, but we must live with it, or move to Canada - where He also chooses the leaders.


Low people rising


So, you see, the election is rigged. Go ahead and vote, but realize that the only vote that really counts has already been cast. And maybe God has chosen the leader you prefer. Good for you. But also realize, according to Daniel 4:17 above, that God often "sets over it the lowest of men."

Donald? Hillary? Neither is someone I could wholeheartedly stand behind because of their low moral character - you know, the lies, womanizing, arrogance, etc. Yes, God will often put the lowest of people into the highest positions. Putin in Russia, Bashar al-Assad in Syria, Hitler, Stalin and on and on. And "No one can restrain His hand or say to Him, 'What have You done?'" Well, you could say to Him "What have You done?" but don't wait for an answer.

God gave authority to Pilate (who was not a good guy) to kill His Son. As Jesus was on trial, He had this revealing conversation with the Roman leader,

Pilate said to [Jesus], “Won’t You speak to me? Don’t You realise that I have the power to set You free, and I have the power to have You crucified?” 11 “You have no power at all against Me,” replied Jesus, “except what was given to you from above ...." John 19:10-11 (Phillips Version)

Pilate's power, and the power displayed by all human leaders throughout history, comes not from them, but from God. We see this stated clearly in Romans 13:1, "For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God."


Be careful what you ask for


God's chosen nation, Israel, rejected God as their king and instead wanted a man as king. God gave them what they wanted. But He warned them how the king would make the people his servants, and He detailed for them the negative things the king would do to the people. You can read it here in 1 Samuel 8. These same results can be seen throughout the world today when people want a human king instead of God as their King.

Contrast what the human king would do compared to the tremendous blessings God promised to Israel if it would walk in His ways.

Even after God's warning, the people still wanted a flawed, weak human king.

I'm often amused by the way people adore politicians. They are often treated like celebrities. Their followers put their heart and soul into candidates who will often eventually disappoint them. People want so badly for their candidate to win that they will often overlook and excuse their serious flaws.

Politicians like to refer to themselves as "public servants." But all too often our "public servants" serve only themselves. And as God warned Israel that their human king would take and take and take some more, the majority of today's politicians follow this same pattern. And we in fact become their servants.


Who is your king?


King Donald? Queen Hillary? It seems likely that God will put one in the Oval Office. Will either of these rule in your life, or is that place for God only?

No one in Washington D.C. is going to save you.

Thankfully there is coming a day when God's chosen leader, Jesus, will reign on the earth.

And loud voices occurred in heaven, saying, "The kingdom of this world became our Lord's and His Christ's, and He shall be reigning for the eons of the eons! Amen!" (Revelation 11:15 - Concordant Literal New Testament)

Then all of humanity will see the difference between God as King and man as king. And mankind will not throw their arms in the air in exasperation saying, "What have You done?" Instead, we will be saying with king Nebuchadnezzar, "praise and extol and honor the King of heaven, all of whose works are truth, and His ways justice (Daniel 4:37). I don't see Donald or Hillary's first speech as president echoing these wise words of the king.

Until Jesus reigns on the earth, we must endure the leadership of low people. But we can also follow Him as our King now.

Sincerely,
Wes

P.S.
Just as God gave the Israelites something that wasn't good for them - a human king - He will sometimes give us our heart's desires when we want something that's not good for us. But when we reject Him and His ways in favor of our own sinful desires, He also gives us the consequences that come with our unwise desires. Choose God. Call on Him right now.  
  

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

God of hope

It's one of the most precious commodities that exists, and it's completely free. We can get it, and we can lose it. Having it can make us feel good. Not having it can make us feel lousy.

What is this valuable commodity? Hope.

There are many things and people desiring us to invest our stash of hope in them. Some will reward our hope, some won't.

Politicians want us to put our hope in them. They promise us the moon, and deliver us cheese. Classic bait 'n' switch. No, the moon isn't made of cheese, but politicians' promises are. Moldy cheese that they won't touch, but that they expect us to devour with a smile. When you put your hope in a politician that can't even get elected to office, your hope goes unrewarded, and usually dies. Or you reluctantly transfer your hope to the person who beat your guy out for the office of Chief Cheese Distributor.

All kinds of religious leaders want us to place our hope in them. Some of them are pretty good at taking your hope and buying a fifth home in the Caribbean with it.

There are countless "gods" that want us to hope in them. They offer all kinds of rewards for our hope. Can these gods deliver? Are they even there? Helloooo? god? You there? 

We place our hope in doctors to fix us when we're broke. Sometimes they can. Sometimes they can't.

We place our hope in the pills we take every day. We hope they make us feel better in the area we're suffering - like toe fungus - while simultaneously hoping that they don't cause nine other areas of ailment by harmful side-effects - like death.

Some people just try to put all their hope strictly in themselves because they don't trust anyone else to be worth giving their hope to. This can be done in a limited sense, but we're all dependent on others to some degree.

Where you put your hope is an important decision. Will your hope be rewarded by the one you invested in? Time will tell. 

We need hope for today and for the future that is sure and solid.

Can you get any more sure and solid than our Creator and God, the Father of Jesus? Your hope, and what you hope for, can only be as sure of being met as the object of your hope. The strength and solidness of the thing or person who says to you, "Put your hope here ... put your hope in me," will determine the end result of your hope. 


Hope past the grave


We all have hopes for short term things and long term things: "I hope the fries are fresh at McDonald's today." "I hope I find a hot girlfriend who can cook like my Mom." "I hope I find a high-paying job that's not too much work." "I hope I have lots of perfectly-behaved grandkids. "I hope my stocks quit losing money."

The things we have hopes for are innumerable and very personal. Some of the things I hope for may seem stupid to you, and vice versa. 
   
What are your hopes? What does your future look like? Do you have any hope at all? 

What or who is your hope based on? Is the source of your hope as solid as God?

Do your hopes and dreams go beyond this short vapor-like life? Or will all of your hopes and dreams die when you take your last breath?

God can give us hope for today and for the future - even beyond our grave and the grave of our loved ones.
Putting your hope in God doesn't mean you have to wait 'til the next life for all of His blessings, just some of them.

I want so much for you to experience hope in the God of hope.

Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost. (Romans 15:13)

Are you full of "joy and peace"? Do you currently "abound in hope"? Are you believing in God?


The key to hope


But as it is written, "Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God has prepared for them that love him."
10 But God has revealed them unto us by His Spirit: for the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God.
11 For what man knows the things of a man, except the spirit of man which is in him? Even so the things of God knows no man, but the Spirit of God.
12 Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God.
13 Which things also we speak, not in the words which man's wisdom teaches, but which the Holy Ghost teaches; comparing spiritual things with spiritual.
14 But the natural man receives not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. (1 Corinthians 2)

God has prepared some great things for them that love Him (v.9). Would you like to know "the things which God has prepared for them that love him?" You can - with the key.

A person apart from God isn't even aware of the things God has prepared (v.9). But God reveals these things to the person who has His Spirit dwelling in him (v.10, 12).

This is the key to hope - God's Spirit in you.

When you have God's Spirit in you, the things God has prepared for you enter your heart and give you hope. And this hope is backed by the power of the unchanging Almighty God. You can "abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost" as "the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing" (see Romans 15:13 above).

The Spirit is like your wi-fi connection to God. If you're connected to God through the Spirit, you can access God and the benefits of knowing Him*. If you're not connected, you're not even aware of God and all that comes with knowing Him (v.14).

Because the things of the Spirit of God are foolishness to the natural man - the man without the Spirit (v.14) - he puts his hope elsewhere: in himself, his friends, his spouse, his children, his money, his job, his health, his political candidate, his legal (or illegal) drugs. But all of these things will perish in time. Why put your hope in things that can't last and are weak and frail while they do exist.

Make no mistake, God has prepared things - marvelous things - for them that love Him (v.9). And they are all FREE (v.12)! But even freebies need to be accessed. And the Spirit of God is the key to your accessing the hidden things of God.

How do you get the Spirit? I'm glad you asked. Jesus told us how in Luke 11:9-13,

“So I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 10 For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. 11 If a son asks for bread from any father among you, will he give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent instead of a fish? 12 Or if he asks for an egg, will he offer him a scorpion? 13 If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!

All hope will eventually end


All your hopes will eventually die, or will eventually be satisfied.

24 For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man sees, why does he yet hope for?
25 But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it. (Romans 8)

Hope is the invisible, encouraging link to the thing we desire. When we get what we desire, we no longer hope for it.

God is immortal, and you'll also eventually be immortal**. Thus the hope you put in Him will last until all that is hoped for is obtained. Because He is ever-living, if you know Him, you're born into "a living hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead" (1 Peter 1:3). Your "living hope" in God will not die. And it's not dead hope like so much of the hope offered by the world today. Your living hope is fueled by God's accomplished work of the resurrection of Jesus. Our living hope is not based on the future, but on the past - the resurrection. It's as if God says to us through the resurrection, "Put your hope in Me. I don't expect you to do it blindly. See what I've already done by overcoming death. It's proof of what's coming."

What will be obtained for certain is God's will. Line your will up with His and all your hopes will eventually come to pass, because He'll accomplish all of His will.

Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like Me,
10 Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, "My counsel shall stand, and I will do all My pleasure." (Isaiah 46)

Jump on God's bandwagon, adjust your will to match His, and you can be confident to get all you hope for.
 
14 And this is the confidence that we have in Him, that, if we ask any thing according to His will, He hears us:
15 And if we know that He hears us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of Him. (1 John 5)

What a great and encouraging promise from the Scriptures.

Examine your hopes. Do they line up with God's will? If not, change them. There are things I've hoped for in my life that are no longer desires of mine because I've changed. Some of our current hopes may be short-sighted, or just plain foolish. It's OK to adjust on the fly. It's wise to let go of hopes you have that contradict God's will.

If you don't yet know God, when you do come to know Him, some of your hopes will change. The things you once thought were foolish will become some of your heart's greatest desires. And some of your former hopes will fade away as you see the smallness of them compared to the greater things God has in store for you.


Are your hopes making you sick?

 
When we don't get what we hope for, it can make us sick.

Delayed hope makes one sick at heart, but a fulfilled longing is a tree of life. (Proverbs 13:12)

If we put our hope in things or people that can't deliver, our heart will remain sick. What a horrible feeling that is. I know, I've been there.

But I've also had my hope in the right place and it still took a long time - several years - for the hope to be met. We must have patience.

True hope comes from above.
If we have hopes beyond our grave, and we realize that all of our hopes won't be met in this life, it actually brings us peace. The sickness we feel in our hearts from unfulfilled dreams can lessen, knowing that we can put that particular hope on ice until the time of its fulfillment comes.

Even some famous faithful people from the Bible didn't receive in their short lifetimes all they had been promised by God. Did God fail to deliver? No.

Abel, Noah, Abraham, Moses, Samson, David and even Jesus have unfulfilled promises and hopes. But their hope and faith in God and His plans will eventually be rewarded, along with us who have the same faith and hope in God.


39 And these all [famous people listed above], having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise:
40 God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect. (Hebrews 11)

We who know God will get to see His promises fulfilled along with these people. That will be awesome.

God's timetable is bigger, and usually different, than ours. When we have His Spirit we can understand this, even though it may at times be frustrating. Chill, dude, chill.


The baby's a comin'!


Can you hear it? Can yo feel it? The entire creation is sighing together in unison. It's a song. A sad song of despair that won't make the top 40. But a song everybody knows.
  
Due to unmet hopes, and the frailty of this life, there is a silent, painful groan that echoes through all of creation. Some people sense it. Most probably aren't even aware of it because it's all they've ever known. The futility of life is normal to them, and they have no vision for something better. But the universal groan is there. The entire creation suffers from depression. Bones break, people get sick, relationships fall apart, plans don't work out ... oh, and there's also this annoying thing called death.

 18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. 19 For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God. 20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it in hope; 21 because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. 22 For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now. 23 Not only that, but we also who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body. (Romans 8 - New King James Version)

The Sad Sighing Song plays on today. But all the futility of life will someday come to an end when the hope of all creation is satisfied by God.

God subjected the entire creation to futility (v.20). That's why this world can't truly satisfy us. Everyone has problems - even Johnny Depp. Even those who now have God's Spirit groan with the rest of the world in anticipation of His work being completed (v.23).

Those who don't know God can't place their finger on the reason for their frustration and dissatisfaction with life. So they continue to chase after things that won't truly satisfy them.

We'll all groan and labor with birth pangs together until all creation is delivered from slavery to corruption when the children of God (those who know Him) are revealed (v.19, 21). We must wait for that day. Until then, put your hope in God. Only He is able to give you supernatural peace and joy in this life - and the next.

What will be end result of this hope we have for deliverance from futility and corruption? Look at verse 21. Glorious Liberty! This is the name of the bundle of joy Jesus will bring forth in all of creation when the birth pangs end and the Sad Sighing Song plays its last note. The baby's a comin'! When you hold baby Liberty in your arms, all the pains of the past will quickly melt away. And this will come about when the sons of God are revealed in the future at the return of Jesus to reign on the earth.

Whatever the world ails from, Jesus can fix that. Jesus will fix that.

20 And He shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you:
21 Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God has spoken by the mouth of all His holy prophets since the world began. (Acts 3)

I want you to have living hope today that this day (v.21) will come. It all depends on God, "the God who gives life to the dead and speaks of things that don’t yet exist as if they are real." (Romans 4:17 - Easy-to-Read Version - ERV)

Put your stash of hope in the God Who can and will make all of His plans reality.

If you don't yet know Jesus, call on Him right now. Ask Him to give you His Spirit. When His Spirit comes to dwell in you, you'll see marvelous things you never imagined before. Things that you can solidly hope for because they're backed by Almighty God Himself - the One who asked rhetorically, "Behold, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh: is there any thing too hard for Me?"


Sincerely,
Wes

P.S.

Psalm 146
 Praise you the Lord. Praise the Lord, O my soul.
While I live will I praise the Lord: I will sing praises unto my God while I have any being.
Put not your trust in princes, nor in the son of man, in whom there is no help.
His breath goes forth, he returns to his earth; in that very day his thoughts perish.
Happy is he that has the God of Jacob for his help, whose hope is in the Lord his God:
Which made heaven, and earth, the sea, and all that therein is: which keeps truth for ever:
Which executes judgment for the oppressed: which gives food to the hungry. The Lord looses the prisoners:
The Lord opens the eyes of the blind: the Lord raises them that are bowed down: the Lord loves the righteous:
The Lord preserves the strangers; He relieves the fatherless and widow: but the way of the wicked He turns upside down.
10 The Lord shall reign for ever, even your God, O Zion, unto all generations. Praise you the Lord.



85 awesome benefits of knowing Jesus 

**You will be immortal!