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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! 


 

Monday, April 18, 2016

The ultimate purpose of the Bible


 

Some people beat the Bible. Some thump it. Some read it. Some ignore it. Some believe it. Some scoff at it. Some treat it like an idol. Some twist it. Some follow it. Some try to debunk it. Some use it as a good luck charm. Some misquote it. Some quote it correctly. Some use it to promote their ultimate purpose. Etc. ...

What is the Bible's ultimate purpose in our lives? Does it even have a purpose? 

What do you do with the Bible? What should you do with the Bible?


Jesus said to His future killers ...


Some Jewish leaders were giving Jesus a hard time, and wanted to kill Him, because He'd healed a man on the Sabbath and was calling God His Father, making Himself equal with God. Jesus said to them,

"You have never heard [God's] voice nor seen His form, 38 nor does His word dwell in you, for you do not believe the One He sent. 39 You study the Scriptures diligently because you think that in them you have eternal life. These are the very Scriptures that testify about Me, 40 yet you refuse to come to Me to have life." (John 5)

In verses 39-40 Jesus reveals to them, and to us, the ultimate purpose of the Bible (Scriptures).

The Bible testifies about Jesus. But filling our head full of facts about Jesus isn't its ultimate purpose. The truth the Bible reveals to us about Jesus is given by God to help us come to Jesus so we can have life. Not just the physical life you are currently experiencing, but spiritual life from God - spiritual life you can only get from Jesus.

You can dissect the Bible your whole life. But if you refuse to come to Jesus to have life, you've missed out on the ultimate purpose of the Bible.

God's goal for us is to know the Bible and know Jesus. If we only know the Bible, like Jesus' future killers, we have this ...
 
Knowledge puffs you up with pride ... (1 Corinthians 8:1 - NCV/New Century Version)

And where does pride get you? The Bible says,

God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble. (James 4:6 - NIV)


Stuck in the womb ...


The spiritual life that Jesus gives us when we come to Him is like a brand new birth. It's a fresh start. It's a new beginning that transforms and transfers sinners, who are all former enemies of God, into His family as His adopted children.
Those puffed up with knowledge get stuck in the womb.

And this new birth is absolutely essential to experiencing the life Jesus gives.

Jesus said in John 3:3 to Nicodemus, a Jewish religious leader,

“I tell you that unless a person is born again from above, he cannot see the Kingdom of God.” (CJB - Complete Jewish Bible)

Like a baby leaving the cramped darkness of the the womb and coming into the spacious freedom in the light outside, the sinner is transferred by Jesus from the kingdom of darkness (a "womb," if you will) - where they are encompassed and enslaved by sin -  into the freedom of the kingdom of light.

In the same way that a baby knows only the womb, those without Jesus aren't aware that they are living in a confined dark place. It's all they've ever known. Satan has blinded them so they think the life they are living is the only available option. They've never experienced life outside the restrictions of sin and darkness. They are, in a sense, dead to the reality of life in the light, and all that comes with it.

Like a baby eventually outgrowing the womb and having to exit, a sinner will outgrow darkness and sin. The dark womb of sin will no longer be satisfactory. Sin and all of its consequences wear out their welcome and are no longer attractive. The individual must have room to grow. Through the drawing of God, the sinner begins to seek new surroundings and a new life - the sinner begins to seek after God.


... but not stuck forever


Eventually - whether in this life or the next - the sinner is carried out of the dark and into the freedom of light by Jesus. Jesus said,

"And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all to Myself." This He said, signifying by what death He would die. (John 12:32-33)

Jesus was lifted up from the earth on the cross. The completion of the first part of His statement guarantees the completion of the second part - drawing all to Himself. The word draw in this passage literally means to drag. The same Greek word is used in reference to a fisherman dragging to land his net full of fish (see John 21:11).

God will use His spiritual forceps (and biceps) to drag you out of the spiritually dark womb and into His kingdom of light. God will use love, kindness, power, consequences, judgment and whatever else He needs to use to drag you into His family. And once you're there, you'll thank Him for it.


The way is too narrow for fat heads


Jesus said in Matthew 7:14, "the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life."

God, Who opposes of the proud, refuses to deliver big-headed people from the darkness of the spiritual womb. They must first be humbled, and their heads shrunk. And this will happen, one way or another.

"... whoever promotes himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be promoted." (Matthew 23:12)

Humble yourself, or be humbled by God. Then your head can fit through the narrow way that leads to life. 


Let's be honest - the dark side can be fun


I've lived in the darkness of the spiritual womb and in the light. 23 years on the dark side, 24 in the light.

I'd be lying if I said sin wasn't fun. Some of it is. But some sin being fun doesn't make any sin right.

The fun meter can't be our only measuring device in life. From my experience, and the experience of millions of others, sin eventually wears you down and loses its shine. But while the shine remains, even if it has dulled considerably, we don't want to leave the darkness.

This leads us to another reason Jesus gives as to why some stay in the womb of darkness.

"This is the judgment—that light has entered the world and men have preferred darkness to light because their deeds are evil. Anybody who does wrong hates the light and keeps away from it, for fear his deeds may be exposed. But anybody who is living by the truth will come to the light to make it plain that all he has done has been done through God." (John 3:19-21 - PHILLIPS)

Some refuse to come into the light because they prefer the darkness. Satan offers a lot of attention-getting stuff to keep us in his dark kingdom. He keeps us from the light until God breaks into our life and opens our eyes and mind to see the truth of the awesomeness of the light. Until then, some quite enjoy the dark.


Who has power over you?   


We humans tend to think we have unhindered free will, and that no one tells us what to do.

When Jesus humbled Saul, the fat-headed Pharisee, and brought him into the light, He gave him this mission,

"I send you to open their eyes, to turn them from darkness to light, from the power of Satan to God Himself, so that they may know forgiveness of their sins and take their place with all those who are made holy by their faith in Me." (Acts 26:18 - PHILLIPS)

Those in the darkness Saul was sent to probably didn't think they were under "the power of Satan," but they were.

As Chief Deceiver, Satan doesn't want you to think he's even real. If he can anonymously have power over you, and keep you believing you are the one calling the shots in your life, then he's got you right where he wants you - in the dark and under his control.

Do you want to be under Satan's power or God's? There is no third option.

Satan isn't your friend. He wants to keep you from God and all that God has for you. He does this through deception.

The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. (2 Corinthians 4:4 - NIV)

BUT, here is the remedy,

... the holy Scriptures, which can open the mind to the salvation which comes through believing in Christ Jesus. (2 Timothy 3:15 - PHILLIPS)

For we must never forget that He rescued us from the power of darkness, and re-established us in the kingdom of His beloved Son, that is, in the kingdom of light. (Colossians 1:13 - PHILLIPS)

God uses the Bible to open our minds to the truth of Jesus, Who can give us life and rescue us from the power of darkness.


Image result for Bible with money imageMore important purposes of the Bible for you


Once a person comes to Jesus and gets life, they should continue to read, study and interact with the Bible. Unless you're a perfect person, you'll need to be in the Bible your entire life to continue growing.

The Bible is used by God for our ongoing transformation into the likeness of Jesus. 

Every part of Scripture is God-breathed and useful one way or another—showing us truth, exposing our rebellion, correcting our mistakes, training us to live God’s way. Through the Word we are put together and shaped up for the tasks God has for us. (2 Timothy 3:16-17, The Message)

My experience is that when God uses the Bible to expose my rebellion or correct my mistakes, He does it gently. Though the truth He sometimes reveals to me hits hard, I don't feel beat up. That's because His ultimate goal for me is good. And His motive for correcting me is His supernatural love for me.
 
The Bible goes where no blade has gone before - to the very depths of our soul. 

The word of God is alive and active, sharper than any double-edged sword. It cuts all the way through, to where soul and spirit meet, to where joints and marrow come together. It judges the desires and thoughts of the heart. (Hebrews 4:12)

Do you realize that when you read the Bible you are reading the only living book on the planet? It's not just ink on paper in your hands. It's the living, supernatural words of Almighty God right in front of you.

Here's how God uses the Bible in my life. I'll read a passage in the Bible that I've read dozens of times before. But on this occasion something jumps out of the words that I've never seen before. The words on the page didn't magically change. God opens my mind to understand the Scriptures in a deeper way. He uses ancient words to reveal new things to me as He chooses - as He sees that I'm ready for deeper understanding as I grow. I also believe that these "growth spurts" wouldn't happen if I ignored God's words in the Bible.

We grow in our relationship with Jesus as we live day by day with Him. Talk with Him, study His words in the Bible, do what He says. As we do what He says He blesses us. And when He blesses us and we experience His work in our lives, our faith and knowledge grow.

... you should grow in grace and in your knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. (2 Peter 3:18 - PHILLIPS)   

Never stop growing.

Sincerely,
Wes

P.S. If you don't already know Jesus, what are you waiting for? Call out to Him today - right now. You'll be amazed at life in the light of Jesus' kingdom.



Friday, March 25, 2016

Life lesson from a dog with 3 and 3/4 legs

I was recently doing electrical work at a new home in the country. There were several dogs roaming the property inside and out.

It was cold outside and I was in the house waiting for the power company to show up. As I stood there, a German Shepherd came up to me with a tennis ball in her mouth. She dropped the ball right in front of me, eager to play.

The ball was covered with dog slobber, so I kicked it across the large concrete floor. Every bounce of the ball left a gooey wet spot as the slobber spun out of the ball.  

As she took off running, I noticed she kept one of her back legs elevated. If it did touch down to the ground, I could see it was very painful for her.

But here she came again and again - ball, slobber and eagerness  - despite the pain she was in.

This little game made me think about life. How easy would it be for her to just lay around in less pain than when she ran?

It's as though the thought never crossed her mind.

God created her to be playful and to run and to enjoy life. And she knew she could still do this despite a bad wheel. Her circumstances may have slowed her down, but they weren't going to stop her. 


"I'll wait 'til I'm 100%"


Sometimes we two-legged creatures tend to avoid doing things that involve pain in our lives. The pain could be emotional or physical or both. The pain could be major or minor.

We lay around, choosing to live a life with the least amount of pain. But this isn't a very satisfying life. The laying around can actually bring its own kind of pain - depression, guilt, loneliness, etc.

You can't avoid pain in your life. If you're alive, life will deliver pain right to your front door - free of charge.

Jesus said in Matthew 6:34, "Each day has enough trouble of its own."

I think we'd all agree. Each day has some trouble. Again, some of it's minor, some major. But there it is - every single day.

Will it stop you?

Image result for German shepherd images
♪♫ "Nobody knows the trouble I've seen ..." ♫♪
The dog wanted to chase the ball, which meant running, which meant being a little slower than she preferred, which meant putting up with pain from her damaged leg. To her, the positive outweighed all the negatives. So she played - and had joy.

She wasn't going to lay around 'til she was 100%.
 

Who's 100%? Nobody I know.

If you wait in life for the day that you're 100%, you'll eventually get there - when you're 100% dead. Not much joy in that.

Don't wait.




Jesus looked beyond the cross to the good stuff


Jesus knew severe pain was coming His way as His torture and crucifixion approached. But He also knew extreme joy was waiting for Him after the pain. 

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before Him He endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider Him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. (Hebrews 12)

The hardest part of His mission was over. He had painfully paid for the sins of the entire world. He's now with His Father in heaven experiencing joy.

Instead of going to the excruciating cross, Jesus could've avoided all that pain, sat on the couch and watched the Jerry Springer marathon on Fox TV. Much less pain - absolutely no gain.

He endured extreme emotional and physical pain for all of us, for Himself, and for His Father. Thanks Jesus.

Pushing through the pain of life benefits not only you, but those who care about you. They want you to have joy in your life. 


What joy lies beyond the trials you're facing?


There's something good for us when we overcome the pain we face.

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose. (Romans 8:28)

What's the good waiting for you in your situation? Look at your life. Maybe try a new perspective.

Image result for lazy German shepherd images
"It's just too hard out there!"
If you can't see it yet, ask God to open your eyes. Ask Him to give you encouragement along the road. Ask Him for wisdom - we could all use more of that. Keep your eyes open.

Sometimes we can't see or experience the joy until we start moving through the pain. Get going.

Focusing on the negative and the current pain is too easy, but not profitable. There's good to be seen, but sometimes it's a little more work.

Talk with your closest non-negative friends. They may be able to give you a perspective that you're currently blind to - a perspective that may make a world of difference.


Moving at the speed of life


For those who may be on the opposite end of the activity spectrum, maybe God is using a trial or some pain in your life to get you to slow down long enough to think a little deeper about your life.

Too often as we move at the speed of life, constantly doing stuff, we don't take the time to just stop and think. Here's some questions to get you started.

  • "Where am I heading?"
  • "Am I even on the right road in my life?"
  • "What can I do differently?"
  • "What am I doing well?"
  • "What can I do better?"
  • "What should I stop doing?"
  • "Have I forgotten God?"

Shut the TV off. Shut the radio off. Shut the cell phone off (yes, it actually has an "OFF" button). Get out of the house. Get away from all distractions ... and think.

The still, small voice of God can get drowned out by the constant noise we surround ourselves with.

God created you to enjoy life with Him regardless of your circumstances. He's near. He'll help. Let Him help you.

Will you overcome your pain, or will you be overcome by it?

I know you can be an overcomer and experience the joy set before you.


Sincerely,
Wes



P.S. - I encourage you to read in the Bible what Jesus went through for you (see Mark 14:32-16:8). 



  

Thursday, March 10, 2016

You will be immortal!

Eat right. Exercise. Take your vitamins. Say your prayers. Die.

No matter how you live, you will die.*

We're surrounded by the enemy. The enemy is Death. Someday Death will barge through your front door. And you won't be able to resist when Death comes for you.

You are mortal.
Ethel taking reservations at Harrisburg Temporary Housing.

"Wow, Wes, this is kind of depressing."

"Yeah, I know. It sucks. But don't stop here. It's about to get good."


Wake up sleepy head


Don't get too comfortable when you're placed in your grave. It's only going to be a temporary dwelling.

Someday the alarm will go off on your dirt nap - no matter how long it lasts.

You'll be raised from the dead by Jesus. Then you'll be made immortal. You'll never experience physical death again.

Immortality is a gift from God and His Son to you. God is immortal in His nature. He is the source. 

 15 ... God, the blessed and only Ruler, the King of kings and Lord of lords, 16 Who alone is immortal and Who lives in unapproachable light, Whom no one has seen or can see. To Him be honor and might forever. (1 Timothy 6)

His plan for all of mankind is to make them immortal.

"You mean I'll have to look at this mug forever?"
I hope this gives you hope.


You're a seed that will become a ...


Many people have told me they don't want to live forever. But I think they're usually saying this with the mindset that they'd be old, saggy, wrinkly, crotchety and frail for eternity.

Yeah, nobody wants to wear adult diapers forever.

But that's not the picture of immortality in the Bible. Here's what it says,

21 For since by man came death, by Man came also the resurrection of the dead. 22 For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.... 35 But someone will ask, “How are the dead raised? With what kind of body will they come?” 36 How foolish! What you sow does not come to life unless it dies. 37 When you sow, you do not plant the body that will be, but just a seed, perhaps of wheat or of something else. 38 But God gives it a body as He has determined, and to each kind of seed He gives its own body.... 42 So will it be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; 43 it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; 44 it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body.... If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body. 45 So it is written: “The first man Adam became a living being”; the last Adam, a life-giving spirit. 46 The spiritual did not come first, but the natural, and after that the spiritual. 47 The first man was of the dust of the earth; the second Man is of heaven. 48 As was the earthly man, so are those who are of the earth; and as is the heavenly Man, so also are those who are of heaven. 49 And just as we have borne the image of the earthly man, so shall we bear the image of the heavenly Man.... 53 For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. 54 When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.” 
55 “Where, O death, is your victory?
    Where, O death, is your sting?”
57 But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
(1 Corinthians 15)

Your resurrected body: imperishable, glorious, powerful, spiritual, immortal. Not bad if you ask me. 
Can you say "resurrection traffic jam?"

And along with this comes an incredible promise from God, "The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death." (1 Corinthians 15:26)

With death destroyed, only life remains.

"OK, Wes. I'm not depressed any more."

"I told you it was going to be good."



Sincerely,
Wes


P.S. - The fact that God has immortality in store for all of us tells me that He has so much for us to do and enjoy in the future that we'll need eternity to take it all in. But you can begin to enjoy life with God right now. If you don't yet know Jesus, call on His name, turn from your sins, ask Him to forgive you, trust Him, ask Him to give you His Spirit, and He will give you new life - better life - starting today.  See 85 awesome benefits of knowing Jesus that you can begin to experience today.



* There's an exception to this rule. One group of Jesus freaks won't encounter physical death. I'll write about this in a future post. Here are two Bible passages you can examine to see this mystery: 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 and 1 Corinthians 15:50-52