2 Chronicles 32:1-34:33
Hezekiah’s reign was an interesting one. He worked with all his might to restore the leadership of God into their family. And yet as we start today’s reading what do we find? “After these things and the acts of faithfulness, Sennecherib king of Assyria came and invaded Judah.” (2 Chronicles 32:1)
What did Hezekiah’s faithfulness bring him? An attack.
Have you been there? Are you familiar with this at all? Or am I alone here when I say I know how this guy feels! I get so weary of doing something good and then being attacked for it. I mean, yeah, I know why I’m being attacked, I’ve just leapt over into the Enemy’s territory and taken it from under him. It’s only natural that he fights to try and gain it back. Unfortunately for him, he doesn’t ever think about who he’s dealing with. First of all, he’s dealing with me, one of the most bull-headed people you could ever meet. I don’t give up, ever. But on top of that, and much more importantly, he’s not even really fighting me. He’s fighting the Spirit behind me – Jehovah.
Jesus fights my battles, not just with me but for me! Because the battle was never mine in the first place. It’s always been His. From the beginning of time this very battle between good and evil has been waged, with Satan taunting us, “on what are you trusting, that you endure the seige?”
So I ask you, on what are you trusting today? There is something that you are looking to to bring you peace, comfort, joy, fulfillment and security, what is it? Are you trusting in an “arm of flesh” or God – whose name includes salvation? Be honest with yourself when you answer that question because if you’re not honest it could hurt you.
What are you trusting? Where is your hope finding its resting point? Does it lie in the LORD and His infinite love and grace, mercy and favor? Or does it lie with money, a person, a medicine, or a hospital? Yes, those things may appear to be your only hope but they’re not. Our ONLY hope is unmerited favor from God. And guess what! He’s serving it up daily through the Word of God just for YOU! What a mighty God we serve!
Ask and He delivers!
Posts Tagged With: Savior
2 Chronicles 32:1-34:33
This morning I woke up exhausted, too many late nights preparing for Christmas. I wrestled with myself for several minutes whether or not I should go back to bed after my husband left, the kids were still sleeping… I went back and forth, Bible study, sleep, Bible study, sleep… I weighed the consequences and possible outcomes of each and still couldn’t convince myself which direction I should go, nourish the temple or feed the soul? I sat down and opened up Streams in the Desert, one of the many devotionals I read, and it was all about a dream someone had about Jesus never coming. And then I thought of the “Footprints” poem on the wall behind me, it’s a dream as well! And then it dawned on me, you know it’s pretty hard to receive a dream like those, if you never sleep! And I know from personal experience that I dream the best when I sleep the hardest… when I’m exhausted. In Psalms 1:2-3 it says “His delight is in the law of the LORD, and on His law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whole leaf doesn’t wither. Whatever he does prospers.”
Now, I feel the need to point out that because Jesus DID come, the “law” that this verse refers to is Jesus. In Matthew 5:17-20 Jesus Himself tells us that He didn’t come to wipe out the past laws of God, but rather to complete them. The laws from the past were guidelines for healthy living, everything from food safety to relationships. None of these things have passed away since Jesus came. On the contrary, they’ve only been intensified. The Law (before Christ came) was like the pencil sketch outline on a canvas being prepared for a masterpiece. Jesus is the paint that came along and filled in all those temporarily gray pencil-lines with bold vibrant color and LIFE! The pencil lines are still there under the watercolor hues that now lie over them, but they certainly aren’t the picture. They’re not the part that you admire when you look at (or meditate on) the picture. Your eye naturally focuses on the colors that fill the lines. While the Law is still here it’s still active and applicable in our world and our lives, it’s not what saves us, it’s not what fills us it’s the color and life of Jesus that saves and fills and completes our world. Jesus IS the Law, in every sense of the word. He came to color in what no one else could. All we could do was add more gray shading, details to a formerly perfectly white canvas. The more rules humanity added to the Law, the more we added bleak gray to our world, and then Jesus came, with His paints and brushes and turned our upside-down thinking right=side-up. He is the Law on which we are to meditate. He is the bulls-eye that all of history points forward to, and all the future looks to. He is the focal point of all humanity.
How are we to meditate on Jesus – The Law – in the night though? Easy! You go to bed meditating about Him and His word. I can not tell you how many times I have gone to bed with a question on my mind and a prayer on my lips only to wake with my body in a position of praise (hands above my head) and the answer written in my heart. While my mind and body were at rest, and out-of-the-way, my soul was free to commune with the Holy Spirit without interference from my busy activities or my mind immediately rejecting everything He says because it might not be logical or the “smart” thing to do. Many times I will have a cryptic or strange dream that when prayed over and interpreted will reveal the answer to my question. God speaks to us constantly, but the business of our lives and the clutter of our minds disturbs His messages. It’s like He projects His messages on the movie screen of the still water of our souls and the more we disturb it with our motion, the more the message gets muddled. The best way to receive a clear message from God is to be routinely still, not just in our body but in our soul. To rest in His arms like that weaned child, who KNOWS that they are loved and fed and provided for in every way by their heavenly Father so they need not throw rocks of worry in the water of their souls, because God’s got it ALL under control. Every minute detail, He knows them all. For “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) “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.'” (Jeremiah 29:11)
Rest well this day, and this night, my friend. May the waters of your soul be undisturbed by rocks of worry. Rather, may you stand on THE rock, the horn of our salvation, and drink deeply from His gently flowing streams of living water. May that water fill your soul with refreshment and quench your thirst for anything less than His perfect righteousness. Jesus is the Law colored in with His perfect love that casts out fear. May His love for you shine through your darkness and color your life with the vibrance that only a child of God can claim. The vibrant life that starts with the red blood shed at the cross and sweeps across the entire blue sky with the rainbow of His promise of love poured out for the whole world. He loves the world so much that He sent His only Son to be the Way to an eternal relationship with Him. Praise be to the Living and active God who loves us with such an abandon that He is willing to go the distance and die a tortured death to show us just how much He cares for us. Jesus loves you my friend, rest in that truth today, He is calling you, by name, to come and sit with Him in His lap. Quiet your soul and be still so that you may KNOW that He is God.
“Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God – this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – His good, pleasing and perfect will.” Romans 12:1-2
How does GOD want us to worship Him? What is worship that is pleasing to God? These are the questions I left church with on Sunday morning. We’ve had a lot of changes in our church over the last few weeks, with no sign of the changes stopping any time soon either. One of the many changes has been the style of music that we worship with. This change has caused a HUGE disruption amongst the members of my Sunday school class. Many of them have started “double church”ing, as they call it. Where they’re attending Sunday school at our church and then going to a different church to worship. We ended our class this week discussing the things that WE thought our worship service should include, the things we wanted… And as I climbed into our car to leave after service the Holy Spirit knocked on the door of my heart and whispered “What about what I want? What about how I want you to worship on Sunday and every other day?”
I came home that afternoon and pulled out my books, filled with questions about how GOD wants us to worship I started by opening up my Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament words and found that “proskuneo” is the most frequent word rendered “to worship”. It is used of an act of homage or reverence to God, Christ, man, idols, the Beast, etc. Proskuneo is from the Greek words “pros” meaning “toward” and “kuneo” meaning “to kiss”. I find this particularly interesting since I find worship so personal. Just the idea that when we worship we are kissing toward the person, thing or god that we are worshiping.
In Romans 12 Paul encourages us to be LIVING sacrifices, to live our lives in a continual state of dying to ourselves and allowing the LORD to live through us. To allow Him to pour His love out on others through our skin, our actions, our words, our deeds. But what does this have to do with a Sunday worship service? As all the changes have been occurring, and I have to be honest, I have not been happy with all of them, I have been talking to God a lot about all of it. Wanna know what He told me? “This is not about you.” The Sunday worship service has NOTHING to do with what I want in the music or the theme or the lighting, the feel, the layout of the room or the altar, NOTHING about me. A “worship” service should be all about bringing GOD glory. What does HE want? What does HE want it to look like, feel like, sound like?
You know what I think? I don’t think He cares about any of those things. What He cares about is those hearts that are being lifted up to Him in worship of Him. Through this change I have learned something about myself. I can worship God to ANY style of music. Even the kind that makes me want to fall asleep. How? Because it’s not about the words I’m singing, or even the music I’m singing them to, but rather about how my heart opens up to the LORD when I’m singing them. THAT is what He is seeking, THAT is what He longs for day in and day out. For my heart (and your heart) to open up to Him. To His word, to His touch, to His Truth.
When my husband and I started writing True Intimacy we did not have open hearts. They were closed to each other and they were closed to the LORD. When your heart is closed, just like a door or a window, nothing can come in and nothing can come out. And the things that are inside become stagnant from lack of use. Things like love and caring for others, when unused become weak and useless. When your heart is closed the things inside become dusty and rusty. Making it harder the next time you want to actually use them. BUT, when your heart is open things can move freely from the inside out and vice-versa. Now, this also means that there is a higher likely hood that someone might come along and hurt your heart, this is true. But it also means that there is an even higher likely hood that someone might come along and hug your heart. Have you ever had your heart hugged? I have. It’s when, even though they aren’t actually touching you physically, it feels as if everything inside you is being hugged. Like your heart is going to explode from all the love that is being poured into it at the moment. God hugs my heart often, usually through my family and my soul sisters. Through the things that they say and do and just being with them, loving God with them. Sharing Him with them, telling them what He’s been doing lately and hearing what He’s been up to in their lives as well.
So I guess, as I work through this, I’m discovering more and more that what, I think, God would like to see in a worship service is community. A place where fellow believers can come together and hug each others hearts. Where they can share God with each other, lift each other up in prayer together and shout praises to Him through words and song. The songs that are sung, shouldn’t matter, just that they are sung with open hearts ready to give and receive God’s love in whatever form He chooses for it to take whether it be reproof or acceptance. Open to hear His word spoken, open to the idea that these hearts aren’t perfect and are in need of a savior who is willing to do anything, including die an excruciating death, to make sure that these hearts get purified and forgiven.
He loves us so tremendously, HOW we worship Him shouldn’t matter to us. Just THAT we worship Him.
I have a very intimate relationship with God. It is a gift above any gift I could ever ask for, it is my identity and my solace. He is my husband and my friend and I would die without Him. Because my relationship with Jesus is so precious to me, and because I believed what I had been taught about sins and the importance of confessing them in order to remain in contact with God I became extremely sin conscience. It started by making sure to clear my conscience before bed every night so that the Enemy couldn’t torment me in my dreams. Eventually I started the practice of clearing my conscience and confessing my sins every time I washed my hands – which is a LOT when you’re a stay at home mom! I finally got to the point where I was afraid to talk because I might sin, I was afraid to do anything wrong because then God would turn His face from me and wouldn’t talk to me anymore. I was constantly worried that I wasn’t doing the right things: Not spending enough time with my kids and too much time writing; spending too much time with my kids and not enough time writing… I was constantly walking on eggshells and afraid that one would break and I wouldn’t notice it soon enough that I would be able to confess it before something happened. I was afraid that God would lift His shield of protection if I sinned, there’s only one place I could have picked up that idea and it’s not from GOD! Honestly, the worst part of this whole thing, is how ignorant I was to the whole thing! Sure, writing it all down now and looking back it sounds psychotic, but the change was gradual and I was, at the time, convinced in my legalism (although I wasn’t seeing it as such at the time). I was deluded. I had been lured into being held captive to the lie that I needed to constantly ask for God’s forgiveness in order to have His stamp of approval and protection on my life. But all that succeeded in doing was to tie me up in knots, stress me out and frustrate me. I certainly wasn’t living freely, or abundantly.
Here I am, a FIRM believer in “God is in control” and yet I was placing all the control on MY very weak shoulders. The way I was viewing it, is I was expecting God to protect/bless us, IF I did everything right….. ummmmmm….. Tamar, at what point did you die on a cross and rise from the dead in order to place that kind of authority and power on yourself? Honey, that’s not how GRACE works.
Grace has nothing to do with you earning anything, and everything to do with JESUS. This past week I was struggling with my priorities (as mentioned before) and when I should be doing things during my day in order to get them all done. I have decided that I need to get up at five to spend time solely for prayer while I shower so that my day will start successfully. To do this I must exhibit self-control and walk away from the TV and/or household chores at 9:45pm in order to be in bed by 10:00pm (I have yet to actually do this by the way, close, but not yet). One morning I drug myself out of bed and literally stumbled my way into the cold bright bathroom attempting to wake myself up… it didn’t work. I tried reading my Bible, but my eyes just kept closing themselves. I told the spirit of fatigue to leave me in Jesus’ name, but that didn’t work either. Finally I said, “Lord, if You REALLY want me to do this right now instead of going back to bed, You are going to have to wake me up.” Still nothing. But in my heart, I knew that it WAS His will to spend alone time with me. He’s told me so on several occasions. I gave in to the tears burning my eyes and sobbed in frustration at my lack of ability to carry out His will. I said “Lord, I am so sorry that I can’t do this. I’m sorry that I’m not good enough for You. Lord, I quit, I can’t do this anymore…” When I was finished verbally beating myself to a pulp He said, “When are you gonna get it that it’s not about what you DO?” And the verse about our righteous acts are as filthy rags popped into my head.
Pleasing God, gaining His approval, benefiting from His blessings and His protection has NOTHING to do with what you DO, that’s legalism. And it has everything to do with what has been done in your name. Every day we do things “in Jesus’ name”, without ever realizing or thinking about what HE does in our name every day. The first thing He did in our name is He died to pay for our sins. Every single one of them, both past and present. And if that was all He ever did in our name, that would be amazing. But wait, there’s more! Right this very minute Jesus is sitting at the right hand of God the Father. And because we all have sinned and fallen short, every day, when it happens, as it happens, Jesus lifts His wrist to the Father’s eyes and let’s Him watch us through the holes that the nails left, so that Yaweh can now look upon our sin and yet never turn away from us. He views our sins through Jesus’ hand-made “Son-glasses”.
When we give our lives to Christ, it is a precious thing. Something that He does NOT take lightly. He takes us and places us safely in the center of the palm of the Father’s hand, where we are free to walk, run, jump, dance, eat, drink and be merry in His presence to our hearts content. And if at any point we begin to wander too close to the edge of His hand (AKA sin) then He will begin to tighten His grip on us, to close His fingers in around us, bringing us back to the center of His grace. That tightness may be a bit uncomfortable for a time, possibly even downright painful, but I think you will agree that the end result is worth it isn’t it? Praise God that life isn’t all about us! It’s all about Him! What He has done for us, not what we do for Him. It’s about how He loves us, and shows us that love in a multi-faceted ways everyday. How He keeps us protected from all eternal harm when we’ve chosen to allow Him to do so by placing ourselves totally into His loving hand.
So this morning and, I pray, every morning from here on out when I get up I will place my own set of Son-glasses on over my eyes to help me remember that what Jesus did on the cross and in the tomb, is a FINISHED work that He did in my name before God Almighty, so that the laundry list of my sins past, present and future are FORGIVEN. Once and for all, so that I can go about living life and not get wrapped up in sin. I can walk with confidence knowing that if I am doing something wrong, He will alert me to the situation and I pray that I will choose to heed His warnings and cease and desist immediately!
“Know ye that Jehovah, He is God: It is He that hath made us, and we are His; We are His people, and the sheep of His pasture. Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, And into His courts with praise: Give thanks unto Him, and bless His name. For Jehovah is good; His loving kindness endureth for ever, And His faithfulness unto all generations.” Psalm 100:3-5 American Standard Version
Today I have spent the whole day at Living Proof Live! It was wonderful being surrounded by the women that I love hearing the word of God spoken with Beth Moore’s beautiful Texas accent. Now I’m a worshiper, and my favorite part of the day were the praise and worship times when I had the opportunity to join with 180,000 women across the glove singing praises to the name of Jesus our Messiah! It was AWESOME! At one point my friend Cindy turned to me and with a big grin said “I bet it makes God so happy to hear this right now.” And I shared with her how this spring I was at a women’s retreat, The Walk to Emmaus, where we sang everything with only an acoustic guitar and barely any amplification. The sound of the women’s voices lifting up the LORD’S praises was simply too much for me to handle and I could rarely sing the first verse or two for the beauty of the sound! I could only listen and dwell in the smile of pleasure that warmed God’s heart as He was receiving our praises.
We were created to praise Him! His word says as much. He DELIGHTS in the praises that we lift up, either songs, poems, stories, tears, moanings, groanings, you name it I believe that He LOVES it! However, I also believe that it is the Enemy’s goal in life to steal those praises from our lips. To snatch them from our hearts. To ensnare them from getting to Jesus on the throne and in turn steal Jesus’ joy of hearing them. I want you to think about this for a minute. When you do something big for someone, and they say thank you, how much does it mean to you. I’m not talking about one of those passive, smile-and-nod “thanks”, I mean one of those heartfelt, from the bottom of their toes, THANK YOU’s. How great does that feel? And if it feels that good to us, then how GREAT must it make God feel when we say that to Him? Now just try to tell me that the Enemy wouldn’t want to take that away from God. I would not believe you if you tried! No, it’s Satan’s chief goal to steal God’s glory and His honor and His praise through every way that he abuses us, trying to get us to drop our arms, to stop our songs of praise, to keep us from writing our stories of triumph and victory over defeat, to stop our tears of joy from flowing to the altar. The Enemy wants them replaced with guilt and shame, fear and condemnation. As God shared this epiphany with me today, in that church as I stood singing at the top of my voice with my arms reaching out to the heavens in an attempt to touch the hem of His holy robe, do you know what I told Him? I told God that I would NOT let the Enemy win. That I refused to let the Enemy steal my joy, to steal my confidence in the grace under which I live. I will NOT allow him to convince me that my God, who DIED FOR ME, doesn’t love me. I will NOT allow him to shut my praises up inside of me for fear of the condemnation of people who simply don’t understand what living under the grace-filled-shadow of the hand of the Almighty looks like. It looks like a shattered heart that has been mended by loving hands that KNOW WHAT THEY ARE DOING! It looks like tears flowing, not from hurt, but from HEALING. No, living a grace-filled-life isn’t without pain, or battles; it’s loving and praising through them because we have the peace that passes all understanding. It’s KNOWING that God loves us, not because He showers us with gifts of THINGS or MONEY, but that He prunes us so that we may bear much fruit. Life is HARD, and it HURTS! But we choose the one of two places from which those hurts can come from; the hands of someone who HATES US with everything in him (the Enemy) or they can come from the hands of the one who LOVES US MORE THAN LIFE ITSELF! HE DIED TO SET YOU FREE! He died to show you He loves you. He died so that you could LIVE. But He doesn’t force us to accept that love. He doesn’t force us to accept that life. He merely lays it at our feet like a rose on the ground, and we choose to pick it up and cherish it like the gift that it was meant to be, or walk all over it like it’s worth nothing at all to us.
While Jesus was here, many people treated Him just that way; like a rose trampled on the ground. Like He was nothing, and we still do it today, nothing has changed but the way in which we shun Him. Often times, it’s with a church service that brings people together in His name and then never mentions it once in the service. It’s people coming and singing the pretty church songs, but their praises are a mere “thanks” and not a heart-felt THANK YOU JESUS! Going through the motions so that WE feel like we’ve been to church and done our weekly Christian duty. But those aren’t the praises that God seeks, that’s not what He desires. He desires our hearts, not our sacrifices. He desires our LOVE and ADORATION, not our empty praises. He desires a FRIENDSHIP, not just an acquaintance. God wants US, all of us, not just a part. He wants us to DIVE into the deep end of His love and splash around in His grace. To do a cannonball off the diving board, just because we can. But, HOW do we do that? How do we get there?
We all have a different way to get to that point with God where we are confidently leaning on Him, so I can’t tell you that’s there’s one way and here’s how you do it. We are all made uniquely individual and we all come to Jesus in exactly that way. But I can tell you this, you CAN ask Him to take you there. You can ask Him HOW to get to that point. And when you call to Him for help, guidance, directions, He WILL answer you. It’s a promise.
Prayer for Guidance:Psalm 23: “Lord Jesus, I want to know You more. But I don’t know how. I want to lean on You in confidence that You won’t let me fall, but I don’t know what that looks like. God PLEASE, help me get there. Right now I am Your lost little sheep in need of a Shepherd to guide me, lead me to that place where You are. Please help me to lie down in green pastures, lead me beside those still waters, because I believe that You will restore my soul. Lord, guide me in paths of righteousness for Your name’s sake. I am walking through the valley of the shadow of death right now Lord, but I will fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. Lord, I believe that You do prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. That when You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Lord, I do believe that SURELY Your Goodness and Mercy will follow me all the days of my life, and that I WILL dwell in the house of Yaweh FOREVER. In Jesus’ name, AMEN!”
You know what I’m really enjoying about these scripture based prayers, they start out asking for something, and end up DECLARING THE VICTORY! AMEN! I am including a video (below) of a praise song with the lyrics included on the screen. If you are able, and I pray that God will allow you to read this particular post at a time when you are able to play the video, stand or kneel if you feel called. Sing along, raise your arms in praise to His sacrifice and His grace, and praise Him with a deeply felt thankful heart that He is GOOD and WORTHY of praise! HALLELUJAH!
The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in the field, which a man found and hid again; and from the joy over it he goes and sells all he has and buys that field. Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking fine pearls. And upon finding one pearl of great value, he went and sold all that he had and bought it. Matthew 13:44-46
In these verses Jesus describes the kingdom of heaven (His kingdom) as a hidden treasure and a fine pearl, both so precious that they are worth selling everything that the men owned in order to acquire them. When Jesus called His disciples He said, “Come, follow me.” And at once, in an instant, they all dropped the tools of their trade and walked away from their families, their jobs, their possessions, everything – just to walk with Jesus, learn from Him, and spend time with Him. Matthew was even a tax collector, he was most likely quite wealthy, let’s see how he reacts to his calling. As Jesus went on from there, He saw a man called Matthew, sitting in the tax collector’s booth; and He said to him, “Follow Me!” And he got up and followed Him. (Matthew 9:9) He didn’t hesitate; he didn’t think “well I’m not so sure about this whole God thing…” Just like all the others he just got up and went with Him leaving everything behind.
Things are still the same today for us. Jesus is calling us to Come, follow Him and become His disciples. (Being a disciple is what He’s calling every believer to be.) And we need to be willing to drop what we’re doing and IMMEDIATELY follow him (AKA. obey him). We need to be willing to leave everything; family, money, friends, possessions everything behind to follow him. If we are willing to “sell it all” to buy the pearl of Jesus and a relationship with Him, then we will get to be right there with front row seats to see Him feed 5,000 people with 2 fish and 5 loaves of bread (Matthew 14:13-21), and we’ll be right there to watch Him heal the sick (Matthew 4:23-25 & 8:1-4), make the blind see (Mark 10:46-52) and the lame walk (Matthew 9:1-8). If we’re willing to sell everything we have to buy the field of a relationship with Jesus, then He will stand on the water amid the stormy sea, hold His hand out to you, and invite you to walk on top of the water with Him (Matthew 14:22-33).
I have lived such amazing miracles in my life through Jesus. When our finances are especially tight, our food “somehow” manages to last longer than it should. Like the fish and bread it stretches when it doesn’t look like there should be enough, there always is. Unexpected checks come in the mail for the exact amount needed for a bill that has to be paid immediately. Just this week, my son had a fever of 101*F and I laid my hands on his head and said “In the name of Jesus Christ I declare this boy healed. Within the next 10 minutes his cough will be gone and he will be well.” As I was saying it, a beam of beautiful sunlight shone over us and a slight spring breeze came through the window, and I knew God had done it. My son immediately looked at me and said “Mommy, I feel better!” Within 5 minutes his fever was gone and never came back. No medicine necessary. THAT’S what God does in the life of an active believer! When we follow and obey Him, at ANY cost (including giving up your secrets, your pride and your anonymity to write a book about your sex life), we are allowed the front row seats to miracles in our lives. No, better yet, He invites us to come on the stage and BE the miracle!
Take it from me; THIS pearl IS worth the cost!
Could you walk away from everything to follow Jesus? That’s a tough one isn’t it. However, think of it this way, if you “drop everything” (worldly possessions, as well as your former life) and follow Him, you will gain more than you ever could imagine, especially in the kingdom of heaven.
There is a joke that goes as follows. A wealthy man died and went to Heaven. When he met St. Peter, the man asked if he could bring something into heaven with him. St. Peter reluctantly agreed and gave the man one day on Earth to decide what it would be. The man thought and thought and finally decided on bringing a bag full of gold. When he got back to Heaven, St. Peter asked to see what the man brought with him. When the man showed St. Peter what he had in the bag, St. Peter asked, “Why did you bring a bag of pavement?”
The streets of Heaven are paved with GOLD! If the streets that we are going to be walking on are made of one of the most valuable substance on Earth, what are the TREASURES of Heaven going to be? So as you can see, “dropping everything” is going to be a good decision.
A ruler questioned Him saying, “Good Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” Luke 18:18
Through the years I think everyone has asked that question and there are a lot of different answers to it. While I can’t claim to know for certain the one true answer, remember I am not a theologian, I can tell you what Jesus said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good except God alone. You know the commandments, ‘Do not commit adultery, do not murder, do not steal, do not bear false witness, honor your father and mother.’” And he said, “All these I have kept since my youth.” When Jesus heard this, He said to him, “One thing you still lack; sell all that you possess and distribute it to the poor, and you shall have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” Luke 18:19-22 The man hadn’t broken a single commandment in his entire life, he was a “good person”, and yet he still “lacked one thing”. That one thing was a relationship with Jesus.
So many people think that being a good person and doing good things is enough to declare them worthy. No one is completely sinless and deserving of heaven (Romans 3:23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God). There is NOTHING you can DO to earn a ticket to heaven.
Romans 4:24-25 says: but for our sake also, to whom it will be credited, as those who believe in Him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead, He who was delivered over because of our transgressions, and was raised because of our justification. You see, it’s kind of like each one of us has our own spiritual credit card. Every time we sin it “rings up” a debt that has to be paid before we can get into heaven. Because Psalm 5:4 tells us: For You are not a God who takes pleasure in wickedness; no evil dwells with You. While still sinful we cannot live in heaven with God because we have no way to pay that debt. Nothing we DO can ever change the balance.
However, God loves us and He made a way. For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. (John 3:16) For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. (Hebrews 4:15) Jesus lived a completely sinless life -zero balance on his “card”, and yet He CHOSE to die on the cross to pay for all of our sins. (He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God in Him. 2 Corinthians 5:21) When Jesus died He paid our debt, the whole thing. It’s like; He called the credit card company, requested a balance transfer, and said “I’ll pay it all for them.” So here we stand today with a balance on our cards and Jesus on the phone saying He’ll pay it all off IF we want Him to. Hmmmmm…. let me think; zero balance on my sin card AND eternal life filled with His love…. Um, YEAH! I’ll take that deal.
Jesus said, “In my Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also. And you know the way where I am going.” Thomas said to Him, “Lord, we do not know where You are going, how do we know the way?” Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through me.” (John 14:2-6 emphasis mine) Jesus is THE way to God the Father in heaven. He didn’t say that He was ONE of the ways; He is THE ONE AND ONLY WAY. We don’t get to heaven by who we are or what we’ve done. We are forgiven and able to go to heaven because of who JESUS is and what JESUS has done. Period. If you don’t believe me, look it up for yourself, it’s all right there in black and white and red.
You see it’s all about belief:
[Y/N] Do you believe in God the Father?
[Y/N ] Do you believe in Jesus His Son?
[Y/N ] Do you believe that Jesus is the only way to the Father?
[Y/N ] Do you believe that Jesus died for you on the cross?
[Y/N ] Do you believe that His death was enough to pay for your sins?
[Y/N ] Are you sorry for the sins that you have committed in the past?
[Y/N ] Have you prayed and asked forgiveness for those sins?
[Y/N ] Have you prayed and accepted Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross as payment for those sins?
[Y/N ] Have you prayed and asked the Holy Spirit to come live in your heart and help you not to purposefully sin in the future?
[Y/N ] Does someone else know about your commitment to God yet?
If you answered yes to all of the above then you are a beloved Child of God and fellow follower of Christ. I look forward to meeting you in heaven my sister.
However, this is not the end, this is just the beginning! It’s the beginning of a NEW YOU, a NEW LIFE in Christ. One where Christ lives through you and you – love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind (Matthew 22:37). To do that, you love your spouse more than you love yourself. Because love requires sacrifice & love requires obedience.
In John 3:36 it says that Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but he who does not obey the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him. Notice, the words translated “does not obey”, in the original Greek is apeitheo which means “to refuse belief and obedience”. With the meaning of this one word, all of salvation is explained. Belief and obedience are tied together as one. To believe in Jesus is to obey him! We’ll go over this a little more tomorrow.
I used to work with a guy that said he thought he would go to heaven because he “lived a good life”. Sure, he was a good guy. He donated a little to charity. He helped people when he could. However, he didn’t have Christ in his heart. He also didn’t go to church or tithe. I asked him, once, why he didn’t go to church. His answer? “I like to sleep in on weekends.” I tried to explain that there were services throughout the day, even in the evenings. He explained that he was “too busy”. I worked with this man for almost two years and could never convince him that “leading a good life” wasn’t enough to get into heaven. He was living with Jesus as his savior, but not as his Lord. You have to live your life according to God, for Jesus to be your savior.
It scares me to think about all the people in this world that think leading a good life will get them into heaven. If I had longer time to work with and minister to my co-worker, I might have brought him to Christ (I like to think that I could have anyway). However, my work time with him was cut short, and I had to move on.
I’m praying that the change this fast has made in me will lead my friends, derby buddies, and coworkers to Christ. I pray that they will see me living with Jesus as my Lord and not just my Savior and want the same things that are happening to me.