One Road

My favorite game is Ticket To Ride, which my husband and I play a lot (just ask my youngest daughter, and she’ll roll her eyes). You have to connect train routes between cities, and some cities are tricky because there are only two ways to get to them. If others put their game pieces on both ways there before you do, too bad for you! There are other cities that have multiple ways in, so those are much easier to get to, and though someone may block the best route for you, you can still get there a longer way.

Many people advocate that, like the easy cities in Ticket to Ride, you can use many paths to get to God. We live in a world that is continually pressing for everyone to accept everyone else’s religious preference and not push their own because they all will get us to the destination. It sounds so nice, so peaceful. But if it isn’t true, then it’s a problem. If I believe I can get to New York City by heading south from Indianapolis, I won’t get there. I can believe it with the sincerest of beliefs, but it won’t do me any good because it won’t lead me to my destination.

Just before He was to be arrested and crucified, Jesus told His disciples that He was going away, and that they knew the way He was going. One of the disciples responded by saying, “Lord, we do not know where You are going, how do we know the way?” Jesus answered him with these words, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but through Me.” Jesus unequivocally stated that He was the only way to the Father. There are not many paths, there is only one.

Don’t be angry if I tell you that you need Jesus to save you, and that through Him is the only way to God. It is not a mean-spirited thing, but actually just the opposite. You see, I asked Jesus to do that for me and now He is with me every day as I journey toward that day when He will lead me to the place where I am face-to-face with God the Father. I want you to know the joy of belonging to God and of knowing that you will never again face this life alone. I want you to know the certainty of the destination of getting to God. I can’t force you, nor will I try. But I will not be silent because I care about you. There are only two destinations, Heaven and Hell. I want Heaven for you.

Take the time to read Jesus’ words above for yourself in John 14:5-6. Better yet, read the whole book of John. Ask God to show you the truth and seek it — He will show you. He made you, He loves you, and He wants to give you real life and an eternity of joy.

 

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Will YOU be Saved?

It breaks my heart to read Facebook posts and news articles that are pointing at this person or that one and saying, “If this is Christianity, I don’t want it!” First of all, they assume that the ones they are talking about are Christians, but the Bible makes it clear that it isn’t that easy to know who is a Christian and who is not (Matthew 13:24-30). Further, the Bible also teaches that there will be some Christians who do nothing good, but will still be saved (1 Corinthians 3:11-15). Jesus died to save us from sin and He wants those who trust Him and are saved to do the good works that result from that salvation (Ephesians 2:8-10), but there will be those who will believe and yet never do the good things Jesus intended.

There is an enemy who will point out these kinds of people and do whatever he has to do to distract you and keep you from learning the truth. If you clicked the link for Matthew 13 above, you saw that an enemy planted the tares. That enemy is Satan and he is real. He does not want you to be saved, and he has plans for you that are not good. He wants to steal from you, kill you and destroy you — but Jesus wants to give you life, abundant life (John 10:10).

It will do you no good to look around and determine whether or not you want to be a Christian, based on who you think is a Christian. The real question is, will you be saved? And if you are saved, will you do the good works God intends for you to do so that others will see those good works and seek after God (Matthew 5:16)?

There is a war going on, and your soul hangs in the balance. Don’t be fooled into believing that anything, including your own good deeds, can save you. There is only one means of salvation, and that is through believing in Jesus Christ (Romans 3:23, Romans 6:23, John 1:12, Romans 10:9-10). The question remains… will you be saved?

 

 

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Don’t Need God? Think Again.

God may be good for some, but you don’t need Him. You do just fine on your own, thank you very much. As much as you may believe that, you’re wrong. Look around you. Everything you see was made by God — everything. Now granted, the earth has been corrupted by sin, but everything good in your life is from God. That’s what God has told us. Not only that, but the only reason it all keeps on going is because God is holding it together. And it all belongs to Him, too.

So, yeah, you need God. But do you want Him? That’s a decision He, incredibly, leaves up to you. Right now you are living in His blessings, but a day will come when He won’t make you do that any longer. If you don’t choose Him, then He will let you have your way and will remove Himself and all that belongs to Him from you. I cannot even imagine how horrible that will be.

If you knew what you were missing, I know you would want Him. God’s plan has always been to undo what sin has done to destroy good, and those who choose God will realize this fully when they die and enter His presence. In the meantime, He walks with those who choose Him, making good of the bad in this life. It’s a hard journey with or without God, but a peaceful one when you know He has it completely in control and works everything for good for those who love Him.

You need Him, but will you choose Him? It’s as simple as recognizing and then telling Him that you need Him and want Him to take care of your sin and to lead you into life. If you want to know more, read the gospel of John in the Bible — here’s a link to chapter 1. I send this with a prayer that you will choose Him.

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I Can’t Do That

If you’ve never read something in the Bible that you knew you couldn’t do, then you probably haven’t read very much of it. If the Bible was composed of physical tasks like “read your Bible each day” or “give away a shirt every time you buy one”, you could probably pull that off. But instead God says things like “you must forgive from your heart” and “love your enemies” — things that you might be able to convince others you do, but not God who knows your heart.

When we reckon with this, we can become discouraged or, if it’s someone who is considering this as the truth of being a Christ follower, they may just turn away thinking it an impossible path for them. When Jesus told the rich young ruler to sell all that he had and follow Him, he just couldn’t do it, and so he turned away.

Recognizing that you can’t do it is exactly where you need to be, and it’s exactly where God wants you to be. The ones who are really in trouble are those who think they can do it and keep trying on their own. The truth is I need God — we all do. The things God puts before us to do are the things that bring us life, things that are impossible to do without Him. And that’s the point. When He tells me the impossible, then I turn to Him and He does in me what I cannot do. Most of the time this doesn’t happen in an instant, but happens as I continue to walk with Him, day-by-day, bringing to Him my struggle to do what He tells me.

Forgiving from the heart was a huge battle for me over many years. Some things that had been done to me were a big deal and had impacted my life greatly. But I knew Jesus said that for God to forgive me for all of the wrongs I’d committed against Him, that I had to forgive those who had hurt me. And so I kept coming to Him over and over. One by one and over many years, I was able to forgive those who had hurt me, and to forgive them from my heart. He did the impossible.

So what impossible task has God put before you today? Will you try to do it yourself? Will you turn away from God? Or will you turn to Him, however many times you have to, until He does in you what you cannot do. If you do turn to Him, I promise that you won’t regret it. There is peace, freedom and joy on the other side. I know because I’m living there now.

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Lent – Give Up or Take Up?

Have you chosen to give up something for Lent? Many people do, and for various reasons, but the reasons are not what I want to talk about today. This post is to encourage you to take up something — something you may already do, but which you may understand you need to do even more.

In Luke 21, Jesus told His followers about some pretty scary things having to do with the coming fall of Jerusalem as well as the difficulties of the times before He would return. He ended the discourse saying, “But keep on the alert at all times, praying in order that you may have strength to escape all these things that are about to take place, and to stand before the Son of Man.” We know that Jesus also pressed His disciples to pray with Him in the Garden before His arrest, telling them to pray so that they wouldn’t fall into temptation. They slept instead, and the result was that they ran away in fear and Peter even denied Jesus publicly.

It was while in prayer that God called Paul and Barnabas to set out on their missionary journeys. It was during a gathering for prayer during a fearful time that the Holy Spirit filled the believers with courage and power. There are countless stories in the Old and New Testaments where things happened because people prayed. You see, we need to pray because we need God. All too often we worry rather than pray, or we set out to deal with something rather than kneel before the One who has the battle plan in hand. And the days we live in are dark and they are difficult; we must pray so that we remain true to our God. Many things will pull at our time and our hearts to distract us from pursuing God’s Kingdom and lead us, instead, to indulge in worthless things. It is through talking with our Father that we can avoid the trappings, that we can find what we need for each moment, that we can be empowered by His Spirit to live courageously and victoriously in this world.

During this Lent season, pray. And if you give up something, let what you’ve given up remind you to pray. When the stomach rumbles, or the blank screen of the T.V. woos you to turn it on, or that piece of candy keeps calling out to you — whatever it is that you give up, let it lead you to take up prayer.

 

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A Kind God?

Last year, while participating in a once a week fast during Lent season with some others from my church, I set out on my first fasting day early in the morning to seek the Lord. I was stunned when He spoke to my heart that He didn’t want me to do a total fast that day, just a fast from sugar. It seemed too easy, especially since I don’t take in a lot of sugar anyway. And it was out of character for the way I saw God. You see, somewhere along life’s way I got the idea that God likes to make people squirm, likes to make things hard for us. Though I wouldn’t have said so, it’s almost like I saw Him as having a bit of a cruel side to Him.

Probably the one place we might justify God being hard on us is when we have acted out against Him. But He is not even desirous of bringing pain to us there – just look at the story of the Prodigal Son in Scripture. Jesus often gave stories to help us understand God, and in the Prodigal Son we see a God of great kindness. In the story, when the young son insisted on his own way, the father let him go. He didn’t want to let him go; he didn’t want to release him to all of the pain and sorrow that would await him ahead because of his choices. And when the pain came and left the young man destitute, his father, who had been looking for him every day since he left welcomed him with open arms and threw him a party.

Our God is the one who said to His people Israel (who were so insistent on their own way that He had to remove His blessing for a time), “I will come to you and fulfill my good promise to bring you back to this place. For I know the plans I have for you… plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” (Jeremiah 29:10-11, NIV). No, our God is not a cruel God at all, but very kind, always wanting the best for us. This is peace for my heart during times when I am feeling pain because I know God doesn’t like it either, but is leading me to good.

In that “easy” fasting day God had something wonderful He wanted to teach me. He wanted to correct my wrong thinking about Him and draw my heart ever closer to Him. And the next week? The lesson was over, so I didn’t get off the hook. But I now know, whether in pain or at ease, He is taking me ever deeper into His great love, and that is a wonderful gift from a very kind God who loves me immeasurably!

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I Got No Time for That!

Lord, My plate is full today. There are bills to pay, taxes to work on, cleaning to do… and that along with things like making meals and doing laundry. And since I stayed up later than usual last night (squeezing out every drop of Friday night freedom I possibly could), I got up a little later this morning. And, well, Saturdays are tough anyway because I am not in my routine. I usually have breakfast, then time set aside with You, then exercise, shower, and then I fly into my activities for the day, and it’s easy because it’s habit. But it’s late today, Lord, and the morning has flown by and it’s already lunch time, and I haven’t had time to sit down with You yet. If I do that now, how will I get everything else done?

Then that still, small Voice, “I’m what puts the rest of your day in order.” So I listen to that Voice, and I open my Bible on my lunch table, nourishing my soul along with my body. And He meets me, and He blesses me, and I know that nothing else matters except getting my soul aligned with my Maker. And suddenly I realize that my perspective has changed. My day is no longer a list of things I have to do, but a path I get to take with my Lord who will, through these things, make eternal deposits in my soul.

Thanks, Lord, for having the last word. Thanks for the way You always lead me to life.

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Every Part Matters

If you’ve done any reading on what happens when you begin to exercise muscles that you haven’t worked on for a while, you are probably aware that expanding your muscles really means creating little tears in them that, when healed, result in bigger, stronger muscles. But the tearing hurts, and that’s what causes the soreness you feel after working out some underworked muscles. The soreness is usually a pleasant feeling in the sense that you know you’ve really worked on something.

Recently, however, I inadvertently worked a little muscle that I found has a big voice of pain (not a little pleasant ouch). Wanting to bless my hard-working husband, I decided to get out his ladder and take down some Christmas lights. Moving a ladder that is about 3 times my height proved to be a formidable task and gave me a new appreciation for the summer painting my husband does. The lights were removed without incident, or so I thought. But there was this little muscle in my back that had been doing its job supporting my body quite nicely. However, when I moved that ladder around, that little muscle was called upon to work harder than it normally needs to, and I had not adequately prepared it for the task. The next day it complained… loudly.

That little, seemingly insignificant muscle has been a source of terrible pain, and has limited my ability to move and live life as I normally do. My doctor assures me it will heal, but the journey has not been a pleasant one.

God tells us that every part of the church, the body of Christ, is necessary. There are many in the body whose tasks run in the background, or who may feel that what they do isn’t really needed. A little muscle in my back reminds me that every part is significant. That muscle has been doing its job every day, unknown to me. But when it was called upon to work in a way for which it wasn’t prepared, I suddenly realized not only that it is there, but that it has an important function in my body. And the pain that it has experienced has affected my entire body.

I see two lessons in this. First, each of God’s children has a function in the body of Christ (read about it here). What is your part? If you don’t know, ask God to show you. Second, we need to be building ourselves up for our tasks. Are you learning from the Word regularly? Are you growing in your faith?

You have a task ordained for you from God, and He has given that task to you only, so you are a necessary part of His body, the church. Step up today and live your part so that the body of Christ may function as God intends.

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Don’t Let Life Make You Forget About Death

Quite a morbid title, I agree. I do not write so as to get you to focus on death and rob you of the joy of life. For many, there is much to love about life and much to celebrate. But that very goodness of life can make you forget that you do need to prepare for death, and I’m not talking about preplanning your funeral.

The Bible tells us there are some who won’t die, but Jesus will come and get them when He gets ready to judge the world. In Matthew 24 Jesus said that when He comes to get His people, it will be in the middle of everyone just living life. He said, “There will be two men in the field; one will be taken and one will be left. Two women will be grinding at the mill; one will be taken and one will be left” (Matthew 24:40-41, NASB). In each situation, both the men and the women were just living life, but only one in each pair had prepared to leave the world. The fact of the matter is that whether you die and face judgment, or whether you are here when Jesus comes to get His people, you need to have prepared ahead of time.

Not sure that Jesus is the only way to be ready? He says He is, so it would be advisable to see if it’s so. Don’t let life or excuses get in the way of preparing for the day your life here on earth will end. Not a single one of us knows when that will be, so I encourage you to take it seriously. You can read about Jesus’ claims in the Bible, in the Gospel of John.

Do you think Jesus will squash your good life? I’ve found just the opposite. He promises that you will find Him if you really want to know the truth, so ask Him to show Himself to you and start looking into it while you still can.

 

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Time Management?

Recently I went through a spell of not making time at God’s feet my priority (time learning from Him by reading His Word, the Bible, and interacting with Him about it in prayer). I was busy doing all kinds of things, but I felt weary and out of sorts; my soul was not being fed and I felt the drought. Just like the body will become parched without water, so your soul will become dry without the refreshing of what gives it life — God and His truths (See Matthew 6:31-33).

I am a stay-at-home wife. One would think that time with God would be easy to implement. But anyone who has stayed at home and tended well to their tasks knows that the work is endless. Tending a household can just as easily consume all of one’s time the same as any demanding job might do. And what my soul needs will not be found in my job, whatever it is. My soul has one food, and it is God.

But, you say, I can’t possibly get in all I have to do each day if I take time out for God. Whether or not you realize it, what you believe is that you must take charge of time in order to take care of your needs. With that, however, you will find that you become worn out and tired (in other words, you are not getting all that you truly need). God says that He alone has what you need and that He will provide that to you as you seek His counsel. So the difference is that rather than you being the one in charge and trying to make everything work, you surrender that to His control and trust Him to lead you in your work and trust that as He promises, He will provide for all that you need.

Jesus says, “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.” Don’t try to manage your time better, but give some of that time to God to learn what He says matters, and then ask for His strength to do it. You will then find that the very thing you’ve been wearying yourself to get is now yours, but without the weariness.

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