Don’t die in your unbelief – TODAY is the day of Salvation!

A few weeks ago I wrote about how the death of the Reverend Billy Graham had impacted me.  How the thought of his glorious homecoming after a life of faithfully sharing the gospel was a reminder that we all need to be following his lead.  Today I read that the famous scientist and self-proclaimed atheist Stephen Hawking died.  And this served as another reminder of the importance of sharing the gospel from a completely different perspective.

It is possible that in the waning hours of his life, Mr. Hawking acknowledged that there is a God and that the only way he could have an eternal relationship with him was to turn to Jesus Christ for salvation.  But if he stubbornly held to his espoused views until he breathed his last breath then he was immediately met with the horrible truth that he refused to acknowledge before he died.  There is a God and he is now separated from him for all of eternity in anguish and torment.

Jesus tells a story about a man who ended up in this very situation.  (Luke 16)  Many believe it is not just a parable but an actual story since it is the only time Jesus uses a name – but regardless, it illustrates the scary truth of hell and eternal separation from God.  The man in the story lived his life without acknowledging the truth and when he died he ended up in torment and agony in the fires of Hades. He begged for someone to come from heaven and provide just a little bit of water to relieve him but was told that there was a chasm between heaven and hell that no one could cross over. Realizing that he would never have relief and suddenly being terrified that those he had left behind would follow him to hell, he begged for someone to at least go from heaven to his loved ones to warn them. But no one would go because the truth is that if they did not listen to the Word of God revealed through Scripture and proclaimed by the many faithful witnesses, then nothing would convince them.

This is a terrifying thought!  One that should create an insatiable sense of urgency in us to tell people the truth!  That there is a God!  That he loves them and wants to spend eternity with them! That their sin has separated them from him and there is nothing they can do to make themselves good enough. But – God made a way!  He sent his one and only Son, Jesus Christ, to pay the price for their sins.  The only thing they need to do is grab onto that truth and accept that it is Jesus alone that can usher them into heaven.

Don’t miss the chance!  Don’t ever let it be too late!  TODAY is the day of Salvation! (2 Corinthians 6:2)


Spring of eternal life

“Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst.  Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” – John 4:13-14

We have some close family friends that live up on the top of a small mountain overlooking Lake Superior.  It’s an amazing place! Gorgeous views and an abundance of privacy.  And one of the things about their property that has always amazed me is that they have a constant supply of spring water that pushes up from under the ground then trickles down the hill to a naturally formed pool of water.  The water is ice cold and crystal clear and enhances the beauty of its surroundings.  This is what I picture in my mind when I read these words of Jesus’ to the woman at the well.

I decided to do a little research on how a natural spring is formed and I discovered a couple of concepts that I think apply so well to the Christian life.  The forming of a spring happens when water seeps into the subsurface materials of the earth causing it to become saturated with water until it eventually overflows onto the land surface.  Seeping.  Saturating.  Overflowing.

When we accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior, the work of the Holy Spirit begins seeping into our life.  As we spend time in the Word of God and in fellowship with other Christians our lives begin to change as the work of the Holy Spirit saturates our souls.  And as we grow more and more like Christ we are overflow with the love and grace that God has given us.

A spring of water is God’s way to provide water to drink.  And the Salvation of Christ is his way to provide eternal life.  The study notes in my bible say, “Jesus was speaking of vigorous, abundant life.”  I am eternally grateful that Jesus has saved me!



Sneaky little deceptions

So you must remain faithful to what you have been taught from the beginning. If you do, you will remain in fellowship with the Son and with the Father. And in this fellowship we enjoy the eternal life he promised us. I am writing these things to warn you about those who want to lead you astray. – 1 John 2:24-26

As more and more new deceptions creep into the church, my prayer for my kids is that they will know what they believe and that they will not let any new ideas lead them astray.  The devil is crafty and he doesn’t come at us with obvious lies.  He knows that he has to wrap his deception up in pretty packaging that has appeal.  Lies that don’t seem so bad on the surface, but once they’ve got a foothold the outgrowth is just bigger and bigger deception.

After all, what’s the harm in preaching from the pulpits some feel good, self-help sermons based on books by respected Christian authors? — There are plenty of seminars out there where we can go to hear inspirational speakers.  Pastors are our shepherds and we need them to be equipping us with the Word of God! It will be far too easy for false doctrines to slip in if the Word of God is not the focus of the message. It is the Bible that should be preached from the pulpits!

Preach the word…with great patience and careful instruction. – 2 Timothy 4:2

And what’s wrong with yoga in church or “Destiny Reading cards” that give people hope for their future? Aren’t we just trying to “christianize” the things that the world is in to? — But these things are rooted in the worship of other gods. The Bible clearly warns us that we must never mix darkness in with light. Why would want to in any way resemble practices of other religions and cults?

Do not bow down before their gods or worship the or follow their practices. – Exodus 23:24

And of course there can’t be anything wrong with telling everyone that God would never send them to hell as long as they are nice people, right? — That is the scariest lie of all!  It is like telling someone that the cancer they have is just a “little cancer” and they don’t need to do anything to treat it. This is the lie that will lead to a whole bunch of “good people” ending up in hell because they did not see their need for Jesus!  The most important message we can ever share with the world is the Gospel message:

1 – You are a sinner and your sin has separated you from God.  There is nothing you can do on your own to absolve yourself.  In fact, the Bible says that your good deeds are like filthy rags to God. (Isaiah 64:6)

2 – God knew all along that you would need someone to pay the price for your sins.  And Jesus’ blood is the only acceptable payment for your sin debt. Jesus did not die for his own sins (because he was sinless). He was pierced for our sins. (Isaiah 53:5)

3 – Once you realize that you need a Savior and cry out to Jesus, he will come into your life and God will no longer see you as a lost sinner but as a redeemed child. (John 1:12)

Beware!! Don’t let yourself fall for any new ideas that twist the truth of the Word of God in anyway.  Don’t allow even the tiniest seed of falsehood to take root in your life.  Ask God to give you discernment and test the spirits. (1 John 4:1)

You live in the midst of deception; in their deceit they refuse to acknowledge me,” declares the Lord. – Jeremiah 9:6

God’s power, my victory

…growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience… – Colossians 1:11

Paul began his prayer for the Colossians by asking God to fill them with the knowledge of his will.  As he continues, he confidently assumes that God is doing that and that they are growing in the knowledge of God.  And that in so doing, they are also being strengthened with all of the power that comes from God’s glorious might.  This is a very important Biblical principle that we need to grab a hold of. As God’s children, we are given power to accomplish great things.

I believe that one of the enemy’s favorite things to hear from a redeemed child of God is, “I can’t”.  When he hears us mumble those words, he can sit back and relax and not worry about us gaining victory over anything.  There are so many times in my life that I catch myself saying “I can’t”.  Even though I know how many times the Bible has said that the opposite is true. — I CAN! —  If God’s ultimate goal is for us to be more and more like Christ until he finally brings us home, then why would I ever assume that it’s not a possibility? God has made so many promises to us in his Word, and he made those promises fully aware of our own human limitations.  And that is precisely why he gives us his Holy Spirit.

The next time I catch myself giving into feelings of inadequacy, I will remind myself of these important truths:

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. – Philippians 4:13

…for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose. – Philippians 2:13

He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. – Isaiah 40:29

“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” – 2 Corinthians 12:9

…in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. – Romans 8:37



Tell someone about Jesus!

And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way; bearing fruit in every good work… Colossians 1:10

Isn’t this the ultimate goal? To live a life worthy of the Lord and to please him in every way.  Paul told the Colossians that this was why he prayed for them to be filled with spiritual wisdom and understanding. So that they could accomplish this kind of life.

Yesterday the great Evangelist, Billy Graham, went home to be with the Lord. Although many mourned his loss, it was impossible to miss the fact that his death on earth only ushered in his eternity in heaven. When I thought about his arrival in heaven I couldn’t help but become emotional.  I heard someone say that he shared the gospel with over 200 million people at his crusades around the world.  Can you imagine the line of redeemed souls in heaven that will shake his hand and say:  “Thank you for telling me about Jesus!” And if ever there were a new arrival that would hear Jesus say, “Well done, good and faithful servant” – he would be it!

Reflecting on Billy Graham’s death really made me think about what my impact on this earth is going to be. Even though we may not all be Evangelists on the scale that he was, we all are called to tell people about Jesus. Think about the guy that told Billy Graham about Jesus! Clearly he had no idea that this one guy who heard his message would go on to share it with millions more. It’s kind of like an assist in basketball.  Although you may not get credit for scoring the points, if you hadn’t passed the ball the scorer wouldn’t have made the bucket.

So what is the message that saves? It’s pretty simple, actually. Everyone has sinned and on their own is not “good enough” to please God. And the penalty for any sin is death and an eternity separated from God. God is too holy to allow sin in his presence.  But because God loves us infinitely more than we can imagine, he provided a substitute for our punishment. Jesus Christ, his only son, died in our place. The only substitute that could atone for our sins because he was not atoning for his own. (Jesus had no sin.) When Jesus rose from the dead and took his rightful place at the right hand of the Father, he conquered death once and for all. And knowing this, we have a choice to make.  We can either keep trying to earn our own salvation (which the Bible clearly says we can never do), or we can confess that Jesus is Lord and ask him to be the Lord of our life and the Savior of our soul.

…for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!” – Romans 10:13-15

Once you hear and accept the good news of salvation through Christ alone, your task is clear.  Go and tell! (Matthew 28:19) The Reverend Billy Graham lived this out and he is receiving his reward!

Spiritual wisdom and understanding

As I read through the Bible, I often discover specific things I can pray for.  It’s a powerful thing to pray Scripture! One of the passages that I discovered for prayer is the first chapter of Colossians. Paul lets the people of the church at Colosse know that he and his companions are praying consistently for them.  Then he goes on to tell them what they are praying for.

…asking God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding. (Colossians 1:9)

I think it’s safe to say that we would all love to know more about God’s will.  Most of us genuinely desire to live our lives in such a way that we are in line with his will. And obviously, if we are truly seeking God’s will, we should be in his Word and in prayer daily. And as we do that, we should be asking God to fill us with the knowledge of his will.  This isn’t just head knowledge that we can get by learning more and more.  What we need is the “spiritual wisdom and understanding” that God gives to his children through his Spirit.

This is a prayer we can know pleases God. A perfect example of this can be found in 1 Kings 3.  King Solomon had recently inherited the throne from his father, David.  David was a good king.  A man after God’s own heart. (Acts 13:22) Solomon realized that to continue in his father’s footsteps, his most important need was a discerning heart. So when God told him to ask for whatever he wanted (1 Kings 3:5), that is precisely what he asked for.  God was so pleased that Solomon asked for wisdom over long life or wealth that he not only gave him the wisdom he asked for, but also much more.

In this world we are constantly faced with choices to make.  Some of them seemingly small and inconsequential, others large and potentially life changing.  When we accepted Christ as our Lord and Savior, we received the Holy Spirit as our guide.  God has made available to us spiritual wisdom and understanding and we would be crazy not to seek this above all else.  Just imagine how things would fall into place if we truly sought the knowledge of God’s will. I have come to see this prayer for my family and me as of utmost importance.

I am your servant; give me discernment that I may understand your statutes. – Psalm 119:125

May my cry come before you, Lord; give me understanding according to your word. – Psalm 119:169

If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. – James 1:5


We have not stopped praying…

When I read the Bible, I underline verses, sentences, sometimes even single words that speak to me in that moment. Sometimes when I go back and read a passage of scripture again and again, I will underline entirely different parts of it until pretty soon the whole passage is underlined.  That is what happened with part of the first chapter of Colossians.  Paul is telling the church at Colosse how he and his travel partners have prayed for them and every time I read it I found another nugget that I could use in my own prayers for my family.  Over time, the following passage ended up almost entirely underlined in my Bible.

For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding. And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way; bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and joyfully giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light. For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. – Colossians 1:9-14

Now I admit that if you just gloss over this passage of scripture it’s kind of hard to get it.  It reads like one long, run-on sentence. But once you break it down into each of the parts that I ended up underlining over time – you can see how much is in there and what an awesome prayer it really is.

Paul starts with the proclamation: “we have not stopped praying for you”.  The lesson here is pretty simple. Never underestimate the importance of persistent prayer! We all have situations in our lives or in the lives of our loved ones that we’ve been waiting a long time to see God move in.  And the Bible assures us that God is moving. (Romans 8:28) Our job is to keep on praying. (1 Thessalonians 5:17)

The passage continues with Paul telling them exactly what they have been praying continually for.  That’s the part that became more and more underlined every time I read through it.  There is a treasure trove of prayer requests there if you read it one little phrase at a time. I’ll share more in future posts, but I encourage you to read it for yourself and see what speaks to you.