Do your choices in life make you happy? If not, you deserve a change and God has provided the way!
“And if your right hand causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell.” – Matthew 5:30
Temptations abound in this world. You can’t turn on the tv or even drive down the road without being bombarded by beckoning sin. Even the smart phones we hold in our hands create an open doorway for all kinds of evils. What is a good person to do?
In His sermon on the mount, Jesus said that if your eye or your hand causes you to stumble, it would be better for you to pluck the eye out or cut off your hand and cast them away rather than to have your souls to end up in Hell.
What Jesus is saying there is not about hurting yourself, it’s about being willing to do whatever it takes to keep your eyes and your mind on Heaven. Aim for your righteousness and it will help yourself and others.
I do say “yourself and others” because you have more power and affect on other people than you realize. There is truly no such thing as a personal sin. Sin hurts and people who think much of you will follow your lead. You will take many souls with you wherever you go, either to eternal peace in Heaven or to eternal death.
Jesus mentioned the right hand for a reason. It is an example of your strong side. For most people, you get the greatest benefit from using your strong hand. That being said, even if something is benefitting you, it may also be what is doing the most damage to you in the long run.
There are many things in this world that are OK to do, but are they leading you somewhere good? Has the Holy Spirit been knocking on your door recently about something? Do you pray? Do you spend time in the scriptures? Do you use your tone wisely to help others?
I like to fish and I enjoy watching TV now and then. A few little relaxing pursuits are OK, but not when they consume my time. Even OK things, lawful things that benefit us, can get in the way of our eternal salvation. Moderation is key in many cases, but some things, even small seemingly insignificant things can take you away from the life God has called you too.
Jesus Christ suffered and died so that you can be free from sin. All of those bad things you’ve done are gone when you accept His payment on the cross. He died and rose again to give you an abundant life not only in Heaven for eternity, but here on Earth as well.
Use your abundance, whether it is food or money or strength or whatever, to help other people. Don’t use your time and earthly pursuits to chase sin. And make no mistake about it, if you are not actively chasing Heaven, you are slipping back down farther towards hell.
Jesus said there are only two roads. There is a wide one with a large gate that’s pointed in the wrong direction. Many people are on that road, heading for destruction. However, there is another road, a straight and narrow path that leads to an eternity of love and peace. Few find that road.
Which one are you on right now?
Once again, I’m not telling you to ACTUALLY cut off your hand. Please don’t! But I am telling you that we must be ready and willing to cut things out of our lives to gain God’s kingdom and blessings. Even if those things in our lives are OK and lawful, maybe they even benefit us sometimes, but if they harm us and cause others to stumble, then those things must be done away with in our lives.
If you do this, God has promised blessings and peace for now and forever. So stay on that straight and narrow path. It’s worth it.
“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.” – Philippians 4:8-9
God’s blessings to you.
My dad was an engineer. He would often wear a suit and tie to work back in those days, but I could tell when he was going to be out in the shop that day because he would have a set of coveralls he would bring with him. Those coveralls would protect his regular clothes and even his body from the dirt and grime that the work would bring. He wouldn’t leave home without them. Much can be said for that same attitude in our daily lives.
When we get serious about doing God’s work, we are apt get dirty. This world loves to throw dirt onto anyone trying to better themselves and those around them. When we are leading people toward the light, the darkness beckons us more than ever. We are more easily soiled and tarnished. The devil loves to see people succumb to sin.
Let’s face it, in today’s world, sin is easy to come by. Sometimes it’s even a little fun. That fun quickly turns into pain. The more dirt and sin that’s hurled your direction, the easier it is to become overwhelmed by it and fall.
‘Look out for number one’ and ‘those with the most toys wins’ are common phrases in this all-about-me type of world. If you are kind or thoughtful and you go to extremes to show Christ’s mercy and love to others, you are going to get lured by sin. So much so, in fact, that you will often wonder if it’s all worth it. “If I just spend money on myself and focus on me and my own pleasure, I would be rich and be having fun. Who cares about other people anyway?”
Who cares about people? God does. He loves you and He loves all of His creation. Whether you know it or not, you have the most high God as your Heavenly Father. So do all people, whether they realize it or want to admit it.
God’s plan for our lives is to do our best to take care of one another, from the least to the greatest of us. He loves us all. We are all God’s children. As His children, we are to take care of our brothers and sisters.
Sure, we could write a check when we see that commercial about starving kids in Africa, but God doesn’t just want your money. Truly caring for yours fellow person will involve our heart and soul much more than our wallets.
The apostle Paul said, “I fill up what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ…” Col 1:24. Truly, Jesus lacks nothing. He’s God. What Paul wants to focus on is that he makes present the sufferings of Jesus Christ in order to help others. If it takes suffering and toil to help others prosper here on earth and to gain eternal life with God, that suffering is worth it.
The hard work pays off when you see the dead come to life in Christ. Through His blood on the cross shed to take our sins away, we are allowed eternal life. There’s no more important work in this world than to let others know about that love.
That work is tough. It’s hard and it takes dedication. The kind of dedication that will cause the devil to take notice of you.
Not too many people want to hear about God or salvation. It goes against the here and now approach of this world. They may laugh and scorn you. They may hate you for telling that truth and do all kinds of things against you, even to the point of death in some countries.
You will suffer like Christ suffered. After all, He’s the Master and the servant is no better than their master. You will face all kinds of mud-slinging. However, God loves you and promises that He will protect you.
As the Bible says, “but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” Isaiah 40:31.
God will take care of His children, but you have to stay with Him. The Bible says to put on Christ like a garment (Romans 13:14). Through the power of His Holy Spirit living in and through you, you will do great and wonderful things for people that you never thought possible. You can set this world ablaze with the love of Jesus Christ, healing the sick, lifting the broken hearted, feeding the poor, and so much more than that.
Doing God’s will allows you to prosper in so many ways that truly matter. This world looks for money and fame to gauge prosperity. Those things are passing like dust. The prosperity that truly matters is the crown of gold that is laid up for you in Heaven. That prosperity is forever! It’s hard work, but it’s worth it.
So it is up to you. You can stay clean and safe if you want, or you can truly do the Lord’s work. Yes, you’ll probably do ok here in this life looking out for just yourself. But that all won’t matter when you are faced with the same death that comes to all of us someday. Then what will you have to show for your work?
God wants us to show love and to care for all people the way He cares for and loves us all. That takes work. Be the hands and feet of Jesus Christ, but don’t start that work before putting on the Holy Spirit. In those coveralls, you will be ready and well equipped to take on anything. Your soul will be kept clean of sin and all the dirt of this world.
If you do this, I believe and declare that on that faithful day, when your time here is over, you will step boldly into Heaven and hear Jesus say to you “Well done, my good and faithful servant. Now at last, enter into the joy of the Master’s house.”
God’s blessings to you.
I remember a friend of mine worked at a video store (for you youngsters in the crowd, we had VHS tapes that you could rent back in the days before the internet was really a thing). I had browsed and found a couple of movies to rent. When I went to check out, it turns out that my friend had wrote something into the comments section of my rental file. Specifically, he wrote, “This guy is a complete tool.” To which, when the lady at the counter read this, she chuckled almost uncontrollably. We talked about it and had a good laugh together.
Fast forward a couple of decades later to my dad’s funeral. I had just finished delivering the final benediction at the gravesite and we were all leaving. One of the funeral directors looked at me and said, “You are a really good preacher.” To which I replied, “Thanks. I’m just grateful to be a tool for the Master to use.” This just came out of my mouth, not for some false humility, but I was honestly happy to be there in that capacity that day. I was sad for my dad’s death, but honored to preach God’s Word at such an important time in my family’s lives.
I look back and realize what was being said in both instances. In one sense of the word ‘tool’, I was being called something derogatory and not worthy of any recognition. In the second use of the word, there was a recognition, but it was being passed from myself to the one who was using the tool. In one sense it was a negative, in the other sense it was a positive. What changed was who used the tool and what the tool was being used for.
You and I are both a certain type of tool. We may not be used in the same ways and at the same times, but we are all going to be used for a purpose. The difference is who is using us. We can either use ourselves for the wrong purposes or we can let go and allow God to use us to create something wonderful.
I have a toolbox with hammers, screwdrivers, and wrenches. Why do I need all of those? I need the right tool for the right job. A hammer shouldn’t be used to turn a bolt or you will quickly end up with something ruined. Just like that tool scenario, your experiences and talents enable you to handle certain situations better than other people.
In short, nothing you’ve been through in your life will be for nothing. All of the experiences have made you into what you are today. The good and the bad that you’ve gone through over the years will be used for God’s glory, if you just make yourself available for Him to use.
I have an old hammer that belonged to my grandad. It’s been plenty used and It’s worth noting that the head had come loose years ago. The wooden handle broke a bit, but my dad was able to fix it well. Now, I use it and like using it because it is still just as solid and trustworthy as when it was first made.
Was that hammer broken, yes, but that wasn’t the end of the story. The owner fixed it. It was better than ever and became the centerpiece of his toolbox.
You and I may be a bit broken from the trials of life, but are you ready to heal? God is ready to make that happen. You’re worth it to Him. The Bible says that you are God’s masterpiece. You are very special to Him. He loves you and wants to help you experience your best.
You are useful and this world needs you. However, you need to be made available for God to use. Our sin will keep us from our calling, but through the life, death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, we are released from our sin. His blood on the cross frees us and makes us capable to do great and wonderful things for Him and our fellow people.
When we accept Jesus Christ, we are healed of our brokenness. You have talents and skills that can be used to help so many people in this world. The difference happens when you let go and you put yourself into God’s hands. Don’t be afraid of being a tool for Him to use. Who better than the Master Craftsman to know how best to utilize you and to take care of you?
Yes, I am a complete tool. Proud of it in fact. We are all tools. So what will you be used for?
God’s blessings to you.
“I am the living one. I died, but look–I am alive forever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and the grave.” – Revelation 1:18 NLT
Aren’t keys funny little things? They are small jagged pieces of metal, but when they are used for their maker’s purpose, there’s nothing else that would do the trick. If the key was rounded or smooth, it would be useless and wouldn’t work where it was needed.
My family would tell you that I can be a little rough around the edges. I am far from perfect, but I am just as useful to God when I allow myself to be fully utilized by Him. Even a broken paintbrush could be used to make a beautiful painting in a master’s hands. The brush just has to be available. Unfortunately, I allow my brokenness to take me out of commission now and then through sin. When I engage in the bad things, I don’t allow myself to be used for good.
God wants us to be instruments of good here on earth. He wants the best out of us because in His eyes, we are worth it. We are His children, and even when we are not exactly at our best, He still looks at us and says, “This is my beloved child, in whom I am well pleased.” How can God say that, especially about people who are inherently broken? The reason is because God doesn’t just see us how we are at this moment; He sees us from a forever type of viewpoint. He sees what we are to become rather than the mess that we act like sometimes.
There’s a reason why we go through our trials. We can’t just be born and just stay there. Our lives were meant to be lived. God wants us to get out there into the world and to grow into the people He created us to be. Make no mistake, this is a fallen world that’s full of evils. We aren’t to partake in those evils, but God knows we will occasionally screw up. It’s going to happen. We make some bad choices now and again, but the Bible says that God will use all things for the good of those who love Him. That means just what it says, ALL things.
Take King David for example. He’s not exactly portrayed in the best light, but it’s real. The Bible shows David’s good sides and bad sides. Lust, jealousy, and murderous intent does not sound like someone who would be called “a man after God’s own heart,” but he is that man. It’s not how you start, but how you finish that matters. That doesn’t mean that you can just plan to live like you are straight from hell right now and expect to get into Heaven later. You can indeed be forgiven for a life not-to-well-lived, but that is only if you truly want the forgiveness. God knows what is in your heart. It doesn’t mean that He is happy with your actions right now, but it does mean that He will look beyond the ‘now you’ and see the ‘forever you’.
You are shaped by your experiences and that’s the way it’s supposed to be. Nothing is for nothing. You will be pressured and cut down by this world, but God allows it. He’s not OK with evil, but He will occasionally allow it to occur in order to bring about a greater good from it. Look at the cross. It was an extreme form of punishment that was reserved for the worst of the worst criminals, and yet we find our Lord Jesus right there. We read in 2 Corinthians that even though Jesus did not sin, He was made to be sin so that we could become the righteousness of God. Through evil, the greatest good, our salvation, came from it.
You may have a hard time at life and feel like you get cut down by everything in this world, but Jesus tells us to take heart, for He has overcome the world. God did not just entrust us with the keys to His kingdom, we actually become the keys when we become more like Christ.
Keys symbolize such things as security and freedom, but a key won’t work until it is cut and shaped into its final form. Allow God to form us into what He needs us to become. Embrace the struggle and let the Holy Spirit chip away at your rough edges. Don’t get down on yourself when you make a bad choice, just learn from it and rise above it.
You may feel rough and unusable, but just like a key, you are shaped exactly the way God needs you to be. Leave yourself open and available to God’s good will. When you do that, I believe and declare that He will show you some amazing things that He has in store for your life and the lives of others.
God’s blessings to you.
“If we live, it’s to honor the Lord. And if we die, it’s to honor the Lord. So whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord.” – Romans 14:8
Being a Christian isn’t all happy and rainbows and laughter. There are some great parts to it, but if you think that following Jesus means taking the easy road, you are sadly mistaken. Jesus Himself didn’t take the easy way out and you should be glad He didn’t. Through His suffering and death, He took our sins from us. Through His resurrection, we have life eternal. There was a cost to be paid for our sins and Jesus paid every penny. Now to follow Him and to be partakers in God’s eternal glory, we must believe and receive Jesus and His finished work on that cross. There is no other way to God than through faith in His Son Jesus. That faith does have its own cost in this world.
There’s a lot of people don’t want to come to Christ, because they don’t want to pay the cost involved. Turning away from your sins is tough. Even being willing to turn away from your sins is tough, but it’s Jesus or sin. One or the other. God does not negotiate. You come to God through Jesus and you come to him by grace and by repentance. God created us all and it’s his rules. You come to him his way or not at all. That doesn’t sit well with a lot of people. Some people find it hard to release themselves in their lives and their sins to a Lord wants to take them away. Some people want to sow their wild oats before they come to Christ. They’re afraid they’re not gonna have any more fun. Well yes, sin can be fun for a time, but the ways that seem right to a man leads to death and destruction.
God has laid out exactly what you need to do. They aren’t tough rules, but they will force you to make a choice between the good that the world calls good and the true good that comes from the creator himself. Here’s a hint, only one is the real thing. Jesus says that broad is the path and wide is the gate that leads to destruction and many people who decided that the world’s kind of fun was worth pursuing more than God’s But Jesus says that narrow is the gate and straight is the way that leads to righteousness, peace, and Heaven most of all. There are unfortunately only a small number that choose that path. It’s available to everybody, but not too many people take it. They have questions, they have comments, they have concerns, and they try to reason with their minds rather than their hearts and their souls. Somethings you just can’t reason things out.
I can’t show you God or put him into a test tube or a laboratory and say, “there’s God.” Certain things aren’t going to make sense. I’m a preacher and I don’t understand the whole Bible. But that’s where faith comes in. You’re not gonna understand God‘s ways. His ways are so far above our ways as the heavens are above the earth. You would have to have the mind of God to understand God. If you could, there would be no need for faith because you’d understand everything already. You would know everything and so there wouldn’t be a choice except Heaven which would be the only logical choice.
But faith doesn’t care about logic. Faith is faith. It’s the substance of things not seen and the evidence of things yet to come. You must come to Christ by faith to be saved, not by works lest any man should boast. If you could get there through works, there would be no need for Christ. You could stand in Heaven before God and say, “Look what I did. Hey look at me I’m so wonderful.” God doesn’t want that, just as any father wouldn’t want their child boasting and bragging and making a show of themselves in a bad way. God wants you to be humble. He wants you to understand where you got that breath that you took just now. He wants you to understand that it’s Him who woke you up today, not just your alarm clock. How else should you come to the creator of literally everything, but in humility?
In short, have respect for God because He is God. If a firefighter told you how to get out of a burning building, you wouldn’t second guess him and think he’s lying. You’d follow his directions. Well here we are in the burning building called modern day life. Hell is all around us and God is pointing the way out. What will you do? Will you follow Jesus or follow this world. They both come with a cost to follow them, but one will truly pay off well in the end.
Jesus died for us, now live for Him. Jesus isn’t free, but He is truly worth the price.
God’s blessings to you.
Do your choices in life make you happy? If not, you deserve a change and God has provided the way!
“Love thy neighbor as thyself.” – Mark 12:31
Love is the greatest of God’s creations. Out of love, God made Heaven, the earth, and you. He loves you and wants you to love Him in return. However, when we sin and do evil in our hearts, it takes some of our love and our heart away from God. We no longer have the ability to focus on the Lord and the things that He holds forever dear. We are instead focused on ourselves and our sins which only can make us happy for a short time. We are left longing and being more unsatisfied than before.
Imagine that your heart is a box. You can pack that box with good things or bad things, but either way, there is only so much room in that box. The more of the wrong things you put into your heart, the less room you leave for Jesus. Your heart is made for love, but love for the right things rather than loving sin. Saint Augustine said that our hearts are restless until they rest in the Lord. How true that is! Our hearts have a need for love that only God can fill. Anything else just isn’t enough. You can’t eat enough food or buy enough things to satisfy yourself. I promise you that it doesn’t work. It isn’t what God had in mind for you when you were created. The Bible says not to focus on the passing things in life, but to keep your eyes fixed on things which are above. One day, the fast cars will rust and the money will be all spent, but what does remain are those things which are done in service of others. God’s love comes from many places, but it is the most apparent when it comes though His servants.
I met a former business man that said no matter how far up the ladder he went, the emptier he felt. While he was working on how much money he could make, his family, his friends, and his home life eventually passed him by. It was the love of the wrong things that led to his pain. This person’s problem was that he focused his love on his own greatness rather than God’s greatness. He let his desire for status get in the way of him caring for his family. He has now turned his eyes to the Lord and has found what he terms as a new lease on life. He’s reconciled with his family and is making up for lost time. He also says that he derives more fulfillment from helping out at a local children’s hospital than he ever did being a boss at a big company. We all have love, but where we put that love can mean the difference between happiness and hurt.
There’s a sign up in our home that reads, “Whatever you do today had better be important, because you are trading a day of your life for it.” You can either positively or negatively affect generations by what you focus on today. If sin rules your life, don’t expect anything positive to come from it. It may be fun for a little while, but it never lasts and you aren’t helping anyone by committing evil. Pride, covetousness, lust, anger, gluttony, envy, and sloth; these are the so-called seven deadly sins. Notice how all of them come back to ourselves. We become ego-centric and think about our own needs rather than the needs of others, but that’s not why we were made. Ego means Edging God Out. The more your heart seeks after your own comfort and your own pleasure, the less your heart will seek out God. To truly love my wife, I have to want the highest and best thing for her, and that is Jesus Christ. I want my wife to go to Heaven. I want my kids to go to Heaven. Therefore, I must make some sacrifices to help get them there. My comfort level must be a distant second when compared to the health, safety, and eternal security of my family. Anything less is unacceptable.
All sins start with “I.” It’s a good thing to love yourself, but there is a big problem when that self-love comes between you and God’s love for us all. The devil wants you to be self-focused. If you are experiencing God’s love and showing it to other people, you are taking your soul and the souls of others away from him and handing them back to God. To get right with God and to help serve humanity, pay attention to the needs of others. Put God first, everybody else second, and yourself last. The alphabet is the only place where “I” should come before “U”. Remember that Jesus Christ wasn’t thinking of His own comfort when He died on the cross. He was only concerned with our eternal salvation. Don’t let your anxiety or comfort level get in the way of feeding a homeless person or sharing the Gospel with someone you just met. You are here for a purpose and that purpose is love. Sin is selfish, but true love means caring for others.
The love of God reaches far and wide, but the love of sin dies with that sin. True love can only be given away, not kept for yourself and the more you give, the more you shall receive.
God’s blessings to you.