Unmerited Mercy…

You’ve probably heard the following statement, “God reaches down to man through His great Love; and, man reaches up to God through religion.” I totally agree with the first half. And must sadly say for many people, I think the second half of the statement is also correct—but, dead wrong. (Pun intended). FLASH! No religion can save you from your sins, …or secure your place in Heaven!

Man has taken something that should be pure and simple—our belief in, trust in, and love for, God (who loved us first); and perverted it through ignorance, arrogance, greed, and pride—then called it, …Religion.

Let’s look at the basics.

1. Through God’s Grace,* Christianity is available to the world.

All people are God’s creation. God intended that all mankind would have a perfect relationship with Him—for eternity. But then, Adam and Eve, with encouragement from Satan used their free-will, and introduced sin into the world. This immediately drove a wedge between mankind and God. And mankind would suffer for thousands of years in sin, and rebellion.

Then God, through His Grace, began a plan that would provide mankind a pathway of hope. The cost to God was all but unthinkable. Never-the-less, God began phase one of the plan. He sent His Son Jesus to earth. Where, over approximately 35 years, Jesus lived a sin-free life and became the only possible blood sacrifice that could cover mankind’s sin and restore our relationship with God. Then, after His death, He arose, proving without a doubt that He was indeed the Son of God and was truthful in His offer of forgiveness for sin, and restoration with God; and the promise of eternal life. The pathway is open!

Oh, did I mention that God’s plan has two distinct parts? Well, it does. And God sending His son to Earth as a sacrifice was a critical part. But the next part is equally critical, …and, it is your part! (Which I will explain soon).

But for the moment, imagine yourself at your worst. You are covered in sin and standing at the foot of a cross. Above you, a stripped and dying man is hanging on that cross by nails hammered through His hands and feet, with a crown of thorns pushed deeply into His head. Blood is flowing freely from those wounds—and from where the skin was ripped off of his back; when he was lashed with a whip embedded with bits of metal and glass. Around you the soldiers are mocking this man while others are hurling insults and cursing Him.

And now, this man turns His eyes on you, and speaks directly to you; “I’m doing this for you—that you might enter into my Father’s presence and live with us forever in Heaven.”

That dear friend, if you are not “saved” is you. And you have now stepped onto the stage to assume your part in God’s great plan.

2. Jesus is the only way to the Father and eternal life.

…for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. [Romans 3:23, 24] Notice, everyone has sinned!

For God loved the world so much that he gave His one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life. [John 3:16, NLT] Notice God’s plan is open to, “…everyone who believes in Him.”

“…I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” [John 14:6] Jesus was speaking. Redemption comes only through Jesus Christ!

That is exactly how you become saved. I suspect you are now beginning to understand your roll in God’s plan. You have a choice to make. And if you understand that, then the Holy Spirit is calling you to make that choice now. You can say, “No. I’m not interested.” Or, you can say, “Not right now, I’m kind’a interested; but, I’m just not ready to make a decision.” Well you just made that decision. You said, “No.” And hopefully you may have time to decide for Christ. But, there are no guarantees. We do not know our allotted time on Earth.

Or, you can say, “Yes” to Jesus by… praying directly to Him. It’s easy. (Note: Please read this prayer first, and then if you truly want to become a follower of Christ, go back and repeat it.) You can do this silently, or out-loud. Jesus will hear you either way.

Jesus, I believe you are the Son of God; that You died on the cross; and that You arose from the grave three days later. Jesus, I know I cannot live a sinless life through my own efforts. I want to accept Your free gift of salvation, purchased for me by Your blood, shed as You died on the cross. Jesus, I want to repent of my sins; and I desire to follow Your plans for my life. Jesus, I also thank the Holy Spirit for convicting me of my need for God’s Plan of Salvation and Redemption. Thank you for loving me and giving me a new life.

That was a, Yes! And, if you prayed it, there is a celebration going on in Heaven, right now.

Through God’s mercy we will receive forgiveness for our sins (Acts 10:43); the Holy Spirit will come to live within us (see John 16:7-15); and our faith is established. Thus begins our relationship, our walk, with God.

3. First I assure you, If you prayed the above prayer from your heart—in other words, you really meant ityou are a Christian and the Holy Spirit has entered your heart! It would be VERY difficult to lose your Christianity/Salvation because God is always with you; so don’t worry about that.

Jesus tells us that when the Holy Spirit enters our hearts, He will be our advocate, and our counselor. (The Holy Spirit performs other functions, but these two titles are key, at least to me). As my Advocate, the Holy Spirit interprets my prayers and petitions to God. As my Counselor, He interprets scripture and leads me into all truth. Wow! Now those are two things I really need when struggling to live a Christian life in modern American society. And note, all this is just between us, and our triune God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Becoming a Christian doesn’t make you perfect. You will be perfected through Death, when you receive your new body and enter into Heaven. In the meantime you are forgiven and moving towards perfection. But that is not a “get out of jail free card.” You will still sin. Yes, God knows your sin, and He has already forgiven you; never-the-less, ask for forgiveness. And ask God to increase your faith and strength to abolish that particular sin from your life. Why? Because your sins have consequences. Consequences you will have to deal with. God can help you through the stress and strain, but He will not remove those consequences. Learn to think of them as “lessons.”

He returns or calls you home, continue your walk with Christ. Your faith will grow, your love for others will grow; and in general, your walk will get stronger. Some temptations will disappear, others will grow weaker. Some will not. (Satan does not give up easily, and he knows your weaknesses.) But God is ever near, and He will not allow you to fall as long as your faith endures.

And remember, …you’ve just got started in a new life. And, God has only good plans for you. What do you think God could accomplish through your work with Him as your guide?

Abba Father,

…You know I haven’t posted in more than a month. And you know I started this post headed in a very different direction; But somehow it got hi-jacked. And, I know better than to resist, so this is our outcome.

It is now the middle of the Christmas season. And while it should be ALL about You, we tend to get caught up in parties and finding just the right gift for our friends and family members. We have to get cards out. School programs to attend. And we can’t forget visiting relatives, travel, and that all important big feast. We often spend way more than we should—and then worry about the bills. Forgive us, Lord. That is no way to celebrate Your birth.

Draw us back to you Lord. Show us the way to honor You by giving You the glory during this miraculous time. Show us that we can have fun while expressing our love for one another, and You. Having a feast is fine. Visiting those we have not seen for a long time can be wonderful. Just help us to remember that You are truly the reason and the focus of our celebration. Help us to not get carried away with “our” plans; but to constantly include You in this new life You have given us. Actually, our best gift, …EVER!

Lord, how I need you, and love you…

Larry

* I think every language has many individual words that have multiple meanings. And English is certainly one of them. (Check out “fast” for example!) And so, different characteristics and qualities of God often have multiple definitions and nuances. The word “grace” is no exception. For this post I am speaking of God’s Grace as: …”unmerited mercy or favor.” God’s Grace far surpasses His kindness and provision for us. Think of his infinite compassion and mercy; that he sent His Son to Earth, to the Cross, and to Hell, …for sinners, …like us. And in return? He asks only that we believe, and trust in Him. The reward will certainly be worth it.

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Who’s Got Your Back?

…Who can you really trust?

When we became Christians we began a new life. A life of freedom; but also, a life that Christ warned us would have difficulties and struggles.

Why should that be? One reason. Accepting Christ as our Lord and Savior, also restored us as sons and daughters of God; thus making us citizens of God’s Kingdom. And while all that is true, the problem is, …we are still living on planet Earth!

We were not instantly perfected (made sin-free and perfect). Our sins were forgiven and we began a relationship—a process, if you will—with Jesus that will prepare us, over time, for our move to Heaven.

In the meantime, we gradually learn more about God’s Kingdom; and as we do we become more of an alien on earth. We grow more aware that earthly lifestyles and cultures are truly broken, corrupt and sinful. Yet, this is the culture in which we “swim”, and will swim, until we are called to our true home.

The unfortunate truth is that it is simply not possible to live a sin free, trouble-free life on earth! But, God did not leave us without resources; and the Bible is our number one resource. I consider the following scriptures to be four of the most crucial scriptures for developing our trust in God.

*Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. [Proverbs 3:5, NLT]

And that scripture can be backed up with three more…

Give all your worries and cares to God, for He cares about you.” [1Peter 5:7]

For I know the plans I have for you,” says the LORD. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” [Jeremiah 29:11]

And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose for them.” [Romans 8:28]

Now, speaking from my personal experience, I can tell you it is easy to say, “I trust in God.” It is not always so easy to do. I want to trust God. And, I am getting better at it. But, it hasn’t been simple or easy.

More than once, I’ve been told… “Well, you either trust God, or you don’t.” Excuse me; but… where in the bible are you seeing that? It simply is not that black and white. Although I think Satan would like for us to believe it. After all it’s one of those things that does have a kernel of truth. Satan will jump on it in order to lead you into questioning whether or not you are truly a child of God. Let me give you an example of how this works from my own life.

For me, some things aren’t at all hard to turn-over to God. I can look at something, realize it beyond my capacities, ask God to handle it, and go on my way. Then, when I see that God has taken care of something for me, or paved the way for the two of us to move forward together, I give him the glory. (O.K. Being honest, I have to admit I am sometimes a little slow in giving that glory when I don’t immediately see (or recognize) what God has done. But when I do, I,take care of the oversight right there and then.

Then there are other things I pray about, and tell God I’m giving them to him. And I do, …for a while. Then, I start thinking about it. That leads to worry. (In my case it often involves long-term financial issues). Next, I’m waking-up in the middle of the night and I can’t get back to sleep. Satan is working me over. I’ve become a basket case of worry and fear. I’m not solving a single thing. I close-up, lose patience with people; and in general, become something of a jerk. And yes, I’m setting a very poor example of a Christian life.

Now, let me clear up something. Is my worry a sin? Yes! Does the fact that I’m worrying and not trusting God mean I’ve somehow canceled my status as a Christian? NO! I’m, still saved. Is Jesus happy about my situation? No. BUT, He is with me and ready to pick-me up from where I’ve fallen; brush-off the dirt of this world (and Satan); put an arm around me, and take the reins firmly in hand. All I need do after calling on Him is relinquish control and have faith that I will see the optimal outcome to my problem.

So, let’s go back to those scriptures and see if we can’t find some help in them. The first scripture tells us, “do not depend on your own understanding.” In other words our understanding is flawed. For example, God can see into the future, …I can’t. And, my understanding of what’s really happening in the present, isn’t all that great, either. We need to pray for Kingdom eyes to see with, Kingdom ears to hear with, and Kingdom thought processes..

The second verse says, “…for He cares about you.” Folks, that is saying a lot. God, the Creator of the Universe… Cares. For. Us! And, by the way, it’s not just Christians he cares for. He cares for everyone! But for those who believe in, and love Him, …we get relationship. We need to take every advantage of it. What power that gives us!

The third scripture tells us that God has, “…plans for our good and not for our harm.” His plans are, “…to give us a bright future and a hope.” Is there any doubt in your mind about who has the BEST plans; God, or us? While we’re taking advantage of that relationship we have with God, we need to make sure that through our arrogance or simple lack of faith, we’re not leaving anything on the table.

The fourth verse tells us that our screw-ups or even Satan’s plans for our destruction, can be worked, by God, to the advantage of those who love him and are following his plans. This does not mean that God will always do what we want. God can say, “Yes.” God can also say, “Not yet;” or even, “No.” Happily, I have noticed that frequently, “No,” means, “I have a better plan.” And, that makes this a verse of re-assurance, one we should always carry with us.

And finally, if these scriptures aren’t enough for you, just stop. Clear your mind. Now, think about what God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit have already done for you. God’s plan, Jesus’ sacrifice, the Holy Spirit intervening for you. If that doesn’t boost your faith and trust—check your pulse. I hope it’s not too late.

Abba, (Father),

In 1 Corinthians 13:11, Paul says, “When I was a child, I spoke and thought and reasoned as a child. But when I grew up, I put away childish things.” I suspect that in some ways I still behave like a child (or worse yet, a teenager). This perfecting process takes constant prayer, lessons, and effort. And sometimes, I feel like I’m taking one step forward and two back—yet you are always with me. Thank you!

Lord, I also want to thank you for the lesson you have taught me about worry, and how to stop it in its tracks. That has been an immense help to me. Thank you for reminding me that “worry” and “fear” are Satan’s tools—not yours. Remembering that lesson has helped me more times than I’d care to count. And every time you have been right there, for me.

Lord, I know who has my back, and who I can always trust! Amen.

Avery Goodday

* Scripture quotations marked [NLT] are taken from the New Living Translation—Life Application Study Bible, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Observations on 9/11/16

First:

The radio woke me up this morning with commentators talking about this being the 15th-anniversary of the terrorist attacks against the United States. They reviewed both the attack(s) in New York and Washington, DC. Talking about the terrorists hijacking three airplanes and flying two of them into the twin towers and one into the Pentagon. And I’m thinking, wait a minute! Their were four aircraft hijacked that morning. What about United Flight 93?

I listened for 30-minutes; then got up and went online. I thought I’d surely find current stories that mentioned the 4th airplane. Nope. Nada. Found lot’s of coverage about the museum and memorial in New York City. But in those stories nothing was mentioned about Flight 93. What a travesty of justice.

Flight 93 was on it’s way from Newark to San Francisco. It had 44 people aboard. Seven crew, 33-passengers, four-terrorists. The plane was hijacked and turned back on a course for Washington DC. It is believed the target was either the Capital Building or the White House. Passengers and crew used phones to communicate with family members. They learned the Twin Towers and Pentagon had already been attacked. They spread the word through-out the cabin, took a vote, and decided to re-take control of the airplane—or die trying.

At 10:03, on 9/11/2001, United Flight 93—in a high speed dive—struck the ground in Somerset County, Eastern Pennsylvania. There were no survivors. There was, however, ample evidence that the passengers and crew had regained control of the cabin and were about to (or had just) breached the cockpit, thus forcing the hijackers to abort their mission. How many lives they saved is not known. How much terrorist propaganda was averted can only be imagined.

To all the family and friends of the brave crew members and passengers of United Flight 93, my heart goes out to you. And, I will never forget that this country owes them a great debt, indeed. They will be remembered, as true patriots, and heroes—who gave their all, that others might live.

Second:

The events of 9/11/2001 are difficult to think about. The total number of fatalities is given as 2,996. The number injured? I doubt anyone really knows that number. And, as a Christian I know that day has had tremendous impact on people’s belief. It shows us the depth of evil that can overtake and fill the hearts of men. It demonstrates just how quickly and without warning innocent lives can be snuffed-out. It begs the questions, were was God, and what was God trying to tell us.

I wish I knew for certain; but… I don’t. I am certain God was present. He was on all four of the aircraft. He was in the Twin-Towers and the World Trade Center. He was in the Pentagon. I know that every single Christian who died in that attack is now with Jesus.

I also know that God is God. He makes the “rules.” And, it all comes down to this.

God is holy and perfect. He cannot abide sin. Everyone on planet earth is a sinner—you, me… everyone. We will die. If you die in sin, you will go directly to Hell, where you will spend eternity in agony. If you die in a relationshp with Jesus Christ and your sins forgiven, you will immediately go to Heaven, where you will spend eternity in paradise as a son or daughter of God. (I’ll come back to this in a bit.) In the meantime consider the following.

I’m sure millions of people, all over this great nation came together to pray for the injured, dying, and their families. I’m certain that many people who had never before given it a whole lot of thought, were assessing and considering how shallow, empty and fragile their lives were. And, I would suspect a great number of them, recognizing their sin burden, turned to God. If not immediately, then certainly over time.

Also, by 2001, this nation was already telling God to get his nose out of our business. Drug use was going up. A woman’s right to have her unborn child killed (excuse me) her fetus aborted was in hot debate, and booting God out of our schools was getting more and more traction. That said, remember God is the perfect gentlemen. He will not force himself on anyone—or any nation. Have you considered that God may have been giving us a foretaste of how events might roll-out, …if He pulls-out?

Back to God being God…. No one on earth is perfect (without sin). Sin started when Adam allowed Eve to disobey God, and then, did the same thing himself. (Sin is knowing what is wrong; but, doing it anyway). So Adam committed the original sin which brought sin upon all of mankind for all time. This grieved God, for man was God’s favorite creation. So, over a long period time, God demonstrated (to man) that man cannot live a perfect life by his own merit and effort.

Then God did the best thing, ever! He gave mankind a Savior. He sent His only Son to earth to live a perfect life and become the perfect sacrifice for our sins. Jesus became our Savior when He died on the cross taking the sins of all believers, for all time, with Him to Hell. He was placed in a tomb with a stone closure. Three days later He walked out of his tomb as He had said He would. (Thus we can be assured that He was the son of God). He spent the next 40 days teaching and showing the scars from the nails that had been driven through his hands and feet. He then, in the presence of two of His disciples ascended into Heaven! (Thus we know He lives today and assures believers of our eternal life in Heaven).

God and Jesus are very specific about the following: There is only one way into Heaven and it is through Jesus Christ. And, while there is only one way, that way is open to anyone and everyone who truly chooses to believe in Jesus as God’s only son, and asks Jesus to forgive his sins forever and restore his relationship with God.

So, no matter who you are, no matter how big a burden of sin you have brought upon yourself, if God is speaking to you, and you know you must do it, you can start your relationship with God/Jesus right now. Here is a simple prayer. I recommend you read it first, just to see what you will be saying to Jesus. Then, if you want to start a new life in Jesus—read it as a prayer to your new best friend.

Jesus, you know that I have sinned. I know I can’t help sinning even when I am trying my hardest to live a good life. Jesus, you also know my heart, and that I believe you died for my sins on that cross so long ago. Please, Jesus, take my sins and restore my relationship in your family. Jesus, I want to make you Lord of my life by living the life you have planned for me. I’ll need your help. Thank you for hearing my prayer. Amen

What now? If you just made that prayer, you probably have a lot of questions. And, I have written a lot of Blogs that could help you. The one I think you should start with is: You Aren’t Perfect, posted: 03/18/16. Just keep scrolling down and you’ll find it. Another you may find interesting is: Where We Stand, posted: 04/01/16.

Avery Goodday

No Other Way

Ask me what it means to be a Christian and I will tell you that first you need to understand what I believe. I believe God, who created the Universe and everything in it, loves me and wants to have a relationship with me.

I believe Sin is knowing wrong from right; but, doing wrong anyway. This is what our ancient ancestors, Adam and Eve did. By disobeying God and following Satan’s lies, they brought sin to mankind and earth. Sin has two major impacts on mankind. It blocks our relationship with God, and it ultimately leads to eternal death.

I know that out of God’s love for mankind, He made a way whereby we (individually) can have our sins blotted out as if they never existed, and we can be restored to God’s family as sons and daughters. That way is through belief in God’s only Son Jesus. He was sent to earth to be the only possible sacrifice for the sins of mankind. After living a blameless life he was falsely accused, beaten, flogged and nailed to a cross where He suffered and died for our sins. He was taken from the cross and sealed in a tomb which He walked out of, three days later. His death was the sacrifice for our sins, His resurrection was proof of His deity as God’s Son—and, our guarantee of eternal life.

So, back to the original question of, what does it mean to be a Christian? It means I do not have to a live life that is meaningless and full of sin, with nothing to look forward to but death. It means a new life of love, hope, peace, joy, and fulfilling work. A meaningful life on earth that will seamlessly transition to an eternal life, in an eternal body, when I am called to Heaven—my true home.

It means I trust in Christ and follow Him as my Lord.

Now, all of that was in preparation for this:

26Just as the body without breath is dead, so faith is also dead without good works. [James 2:26. NLT]

This verse has created a lot of controversy and dissension over the years. Which is more important for a Christian: belief or works? It is amazing to me how people can argue and bicker over moot points.

In the New Testament there is no separation between belief and obedience. They are linked as one because if you truly believe, …you will truly follow. And, I submit that if you are following Christ, you are obeying Christ, and doing the work Christ has for you.

God does His part, and we must do ours. I consider my wife a gift from God. Do I ever have to work at my marriage? Yes! Do I enjoy the work? Not always—but, I still do it. Is it worth it? Without a doubt!

Perhaps, you love to play the piano. God gifted you with a love for music; and, a talent for playing the piano. Did you still have to work at piano lessons? I’m betting the answer is, “yes”. Was it 100% fun? I’m guessing, …”no”! Lots of practice? “Oh yeah”. Worth it? “Absolutely”.

The point I hope I’ve made here is that salvation and “works” go hand in hand—with salvation leading the way. Because you believe, you follow. Belief (trust/faith) gets us into God’s Kingdom. Obedience (following/working) is the evidence of your citizenship in God’s Kingdom.

There is an old hymn, the lyrics were written by John H. Sammis in 1887. The chorus goes, “…Trust and obey, for there’s no other way to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.”

The concept was originally given to us about 2,000 years ago. Then about 130± years ago, I think Mr. Sammis clarified it quite well! Can we now stop arguing about it?

Abba,

We have so much to be thankful for. We need only to look at nature, to praise you for longer than we’ll be here to appreciate it. Add what you have done for us and stand ready to do for us and… well, let’s just say that there will be plenty to keep us busy in eternity.

Yet we can find nits to question and argue over. And, I’m as guilty as any. Father please help me, and teach me to concentrate on Kingdom values. To understand that what you want for me is simply to trust you and follow your plan for my life. It’s not about… “what I should do for you—as pay back for all that you’ve done for me.” When I really think about it, I know it is ludicrous. And I see you shaking your head and saying, “Can’t we just keep it simple. After all, “there’s no other way!”

Thank you, Abba.

Avery Goodday

Divided Loyalties

5If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking. 6But when you ask him, be sure that your faith is in God alone. Do not waver, for a person with divided loyalty is as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is blown and tossed by the wind. 7Such people should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. 8Their loyalty is divided between God and the world, and they are unstable in everything they do. [James 1:5-8, NLT]

I had turned to the book of James looking for a scripture about “faith and works”. I thought it would be the foundation for my new post. But, I didn’t get there. Instead, my eyes were caught by the above passage which I had highlighted in my Bible several years ago. As I read it, I gained an entirely new insight. One I would like to share with you.

James 1:5 begins, “If you need wisdom…”. Are you kidding me? “If” I need wisdom? Oh, how I’d like to think every decision I’ve ever made (or will make) was wise! And that means no matter how large or small the subject was, or will be! But, we all know better. However, I think that’s what triggered my new thoughts about this scripture.

James goes on to tell us that if we need wisdom, to ask for it and God will give it to us. Sounds great, but there is a, “…But”. “But, when you ask Him, be sure that your faith is in God alone.” (Emphasis mine). Does anyone one else see a problem here?

We have all experienced times when we have prayed; and (at least to date) have not gotten a response—or at least one we recognize. So, let’s go back to that, “But… be sure your faith is in God alone” passage. It continues (paraphrasing now), …a person with divided loyalty… should not expect to receive anything from the Lord.

And this is where the light came “on”! I’m my own worst enemy. Or, I (with Satan whispering into my ear) am my own worst enemy. Here is what I mean…

I’m going about my day and doing just fine. Everything is going my way. Then I notice a minor problem out there on my horizon. It’s O.K., I see it and there are several ways this can play-out. “All I really need do is ‘such and such’ and I can easily head it off.” So, with that done, I’m again doing just fine, “thank you”. It was just one of those routine issues that catch-up to you from time-to-time. You know, just “…part of life.”

A week later and with no warning, that “minor problem” is back BIGGER than I ever thought possible. But, this time I get smart. I ask God to help me implement my new and improved ‘such and such’ plan. I also tell God that I’m trusting in Him to ensure that it works this time. Now, with God’s help I can’t fail! Or, can I?

Yes, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. I have an ego issue. And in a situation like this my loyalties are definitely divided. My first loyalty is to ME. I want MY plan implemented. And, my saying I’m trusting in God is just a sham. Three messages being delivered—loud and clear!

Well, James certainly points out the problem; and Paul, in his letter to the Philippians, chapter 4, verse 6, gives us the answer:

6Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need and thank him for all he has done.”[NLT, emphasis mine]

That said, I will always make some of my own plans. After all, I do pray for wisdom; and, I think God gives me a “certain amount” of wisdom. But neither do I want to leave God out of my plans. So my solution is to make time to talk to Jesus multiple times per day. I talk about everything going on in my life, good and bad. I include any plans I have made. I hide nothing. (Do I have to ask if you think you can hide anything from God)? I ask Him to correct my errors in judgment and show me how to proceed. I thank Him for His presence and all He has accomplished in my life. And finally, I stay ever vigilant for any warning signs of misplaced ego and other sins.  No it doesn’t always go exactly like this; but I keep working on it.

Heavenly Father, It’s obvious to me that you are always at my side. However, this thing about my free-will trumping your intervention in the consequences of my actions is, …inconvenient. I know I need the resultant lessons. Yet there are times I wish you would just dump all the wisdom I’ll need for this life into my hard- head, all at once. But, that would probably kill me. Besides, I do know you have already given me access to all the wisdom I’ll ever need, through your Word and prayer.

Lord, teach me to be thankful for the lessons; and, quick to avail myself of the resources you have freely provided. I love you,

Avery Goodday

To my readers:

Thank you, for your time. My next blog will be the one I had in mind when my “focus got shifted”. It’s title: No Other Way

Fear of God/Jesus?

Let’s start this post with two short definitions of the word, “fear”. We will be dealing with both:

    1. …to be afraid of something or someone.

    2. …profound, overwhelming awe and reverence.

Over the years I have had many opportunities to talk with non-believers about Christianity. Some have been “Seekers”. They know their life is off-track. But they don’t know what to do about it. These people are usually anxious to talk about religion, even though they often come out of those conversations more confused than they were going in. These people we can help.

The “Confused or Disillusioned”. Frequently the next stage after seeking, for those who don’t find true Christian help. They may think it’s too late for them because they believe they have done things God would never forgive. Or, they have such low self esteem they think God just doesn’t want them.

Others have tried living the Christian lifestyle (on their own) and failed miserably. Many of these are, or were followers of Christian denominations. Others are those who seriously do not understand God’s plan; but think they do. They may have grown-up in a home with Christian parents—faithfully attended Church, were baptized, and are now living a good and successful life, even helping others here and there. And then there are those who say, “…of course I believe in God. God doesn’t want anyone to go to hell. So, all religions, if followed faithfully, will lead to heaven.” And, some have seen people who claim to be Christians, quite obviously not following a Christian lifestyle. They may or may not be Christian. That is between them and God. I will point out that when you become a Christian, you do not automatically become perfect. The Christian walk is a process that you will work on for the remainder of your life on earth. So do not let someone else disillusion you.

We also have those who have heard the Holy Spirit’s murmuring but have taken no action—for one reason or another. Probably the most common reason is they are quite comfortable in their current lifestyle and do not know what to expect, “…if God gets a hold of them”. After all, they don’t want to end-up somewhere in Africa, or South America. They are afraid of the unknown.

And then there are those who have also heard the Spirit’s murmuring; and just flat-out said, “No”. They are Atheists or Agnostics.

If this describes you, OK. It is your choice to make; you have free will. But I encourage you, if you still hear those murmurings, open your mind enough to reconsider your position. e.g., Who, or what, triggered the Great Expansion resulting in the Big Bang? How did life come into existence? Why are more and more scientists accepting that there had to be a grand design/designer. You are in a particularly dangerous position. If you continue to deny God, the murmurings will cease, …and it will be too late. (Jn 12:39-41). God is Love. But, God is also, …Just. You can’t ‘flip God off’ forever. Please think about it.

You should NOT be “afraid” of God! Instead let the following seven characteristics of God show you why.

  1. God is the designer and creator of the universe. God is a spirit. He does not have a body. He is omnificent—meaning unlimited in creative power. He is omnipresent—He can be any place at any time; He is omnipotent—almighty with unlimited authority. He is omniscient—all knowing. (Gs 1:1-31; 2:7; 18-24). Please pause and consider each of those characteristics.

  2. God loves His creation, especially mankind, who He created in His image. (This does not mean that we are spirits, or omni-anything!) However, God did give us free-will. We can reason; we can communicate with one another—and, with God. (Jn 17:3). It didn’t take much time for Adam and Eve to “get the hang” of using their free-will. They committed the original sin by disobeying the only rule God had given them, and mankind has sinned ever since. But what is sin? Who has sinned? And what’s so bad about sin? These verses will answer those questions. (Jas 4:17; 1Jn 3:4) (Rom 3:23; 5:17) (Rom 6:23; Is 59:2).

  3. God created you—and, He wants to have a personal relationship with you. In order to have that relationship, God sent His son Jesus, to the earth to be the only possible sacrifice for forgiveness of our sins, restoration in God’s family, and eternal life with Him in Heaven. (Jn 3:16-21; 14:6).

  4. But, we must personally respond to The Spirit’s call by believing in and trusting in Jesus Christ as our Savior and Lord. God will not force anyone to become a Christian. It is your choice. (Rom 10:9-10; Jn1:12).

Now that is a lot to take in—but, there is more.

  1. In number “1.” above, I said that God is a Spirit. And while that is true, God also has all the attributes of a person: He thinks, He speaks, He communicates, He loves, He becomes angry, He grieves, He is compassionate, and He experienced sorrow. He feels what we feel! (Mt 1:20-23).

  2. So, no matter what you have faced or will face, He understands! He even understands our temptations. And, He stands ready to forgive us once, and for all time! (Acts 2;21; Heb 5:9).

You say you can’t get your mind around all that? Yeah, well neither can I! What you are likely experiencing is FEAR! Profound awe and overwhelming reverence.

Summary:

Yes, a lot of people are afraid of God/Jesus. I was one—quite a few years ago. I always pictured God/Jesus standing up there in heaven; long white hair, long white beard, stern look on His face, looking down on me, and just waiting for me to make a mistake. I knew my “sin-list” had to be long. Maybe even, record setting. But, you know, when you actually develop that relationship with the entire God-head—meaning, God the Father, God the Son (Jesus), and God the Holy Spirit (who lives inside you after you accept Jesus as your Lord and Savior)—God is anything but scary. (Jn 14:16-20. It is empowering and, …liberating.

After reading Jn 14:6, some will say that Christianity is arrogant and intolerant. Consider this. Christ is God’s appointed means of salvation. Only Christ died for our sins. Only Christ rose from the dead. We are saved only by God’s grace—in no way do we deserve it. Yet God offers His free gifts of salvation, restoration, and eternal life to anyone and everyone on planet earth who chooses to believe in Christ, turns to Him and asks Him for salvation and a new life. Arrogant? Intolerant? …Really?

Finally:

Look at those seven characteristics again. That’s exactly who I want on my side. You do begin a new life. And, yes, you are going to change in ways beyond what you could ever have dreamed. And, yes again, God has plans for you. Trust Him. He always wants what is best for you, and knows you better than you know yourself. And remember—no religion can save you.  Only Jesus can do that.  It’s truly just about you and your relationship with God.

Abba God,

Every time I think my awe and reverence for you can’t be stretched any further, you show me something in nature, or about myself, or a miraculous happening that often leaves me in tears.

Father, search me and you will see that I truly want as many of your creation as possible to come to a saving knowledge of you—and accept your free offer of eternal life. Yet, I have also read in Your Word about the world events that will usher in the end times—and, I believe I am now seeing them. And, while I look forward to our meeting in the sky, my heart is troubled for those who will not join us there.

So I ask Lord, that you use me to help all those who come under my sphere of influence.

In the name of Jesus, your son, my savior, I pray. Amen.

Avery Goodday

Jude

Dear friends, I had been eagerly planning to write to you about the salvation we all share. But now I find that I must write about something else, urging you to defend the faith that God has entrusted once for all time to his holy people.” [Jude 1:3. NLT]1

Who is Jude? Well, Jude is the author of one of the shortest books (actually, it’s a letter) in the New Testament. Therefore, it is quite possible you’ve never noticed Jude’s letter, because it normally takes-up only a bit over one page—sandwiched between 3rd John and Revelation.

Jude, the brother of Jesus and James, wrote this letter to Jewish Christians in approximately 65 A.D. I believe God also meant it especially for all Christians living in the United States, …today.

If you want to know what is wrong in America, don’t bother with the network news, the morning paper, the internet, or any other over-the-air or print media. Read the 25-verses of Jude.

After his greeting, Jude immediately began to discuss apostasy—when people turn away from God’s truth and embrace false teachings. Hmm, sound familiar? Not a man to mince his words, Jude reminds us that while our God loves us beyond measure, our God is also a just God. He does not look the other way when people sin. He cannot allow sin to enter into heaven. There will be heavy consequences for those who defy God’s authority and scoff at things they do not understand (or don’t want to understand). False teachers who lead people into sin, will stand particularly harsh judgment.

Next, Jude issues a call to all Christians to remain faithful. To support one another with prayer and encouragement. And, to show mercy to non-believers, while being careful not to become influenced by them.

Above all, we must stand our ground. We owe it to every Christian who has preceded us. And, especially to all those who have given their lives for their Christian belief. We must not fail in our duty to God.

When are we going to say, “We will not support your false teachings! We will not abide by any legislation that requires us to ignore God’s word. It is not about what you try to pedal as ‘fair’ or even a ‘right’. It is about legislating sinful behavior. Our government is not the source of truth. Nor is the ACLU or the GLBT crowd; or any other group, or individual, that tells us to ignore God’s word!”

We need to say, “I do not have to, nor will I, ignore God’s word. Christians have constitutional rights as well.” Then we will see if the Supreme court will grow a back-bone—and defend our rights under the First Amendment of the Constitution.

When Christ ascended into heaven, He left His church (of approximately 250 or so, believers) in the hands of twelve men. They stood their ground, …against the Pharisees (and, their established church), many false religions, and even against Rome. Of the twelve disciples, all were martyred but one—John; who was beaten many times and spent many years in almost complete isolation on the small, barren and rocky island of Patmos. Yet, look at all that has been accomplished! Yes, there are now a great many Christians. But strong forces are being arrayed against us. We have inherited a great responsibility. The Great Commission2 is now in our hands—and God is watching.

Father, Abba,

I know that no man (or woman) is going to heal this nation. Only you can do that. And, for the life of me, I’m not sure why you would want to—given that so many are working so hard to “throw you out”. But, I also know you work in mysterious ways; so I will vote for the people I deem most likely to do the least damage; and, hopefully, you will be able to do something positive through those who are willing to place themselves under your will.

Lord, I know that you have ultimate control of all events on this planet. My world view, on the macro scale, is very positive—because I have read and believe your word—including Revelation. So bring it on, Lord. I know that no matter how hard things get, you will always be at my side, and ultimately I will be in your presence, …forever. I am looking forward to that!

I love you Lord. Please continue to show me your ways, guide me in your truth, and teach me. I will give you all the praise and glory.

In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

  Avery Goodday

_____

1    NLT: Scripture quotations marked [NLT] are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007.   Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinoise 60188. All rights reserved.

2    The Great Commission:  18 Jesus  came and told his disciples, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth.  19 Therefore, go and make disciples of all peoples, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. 20 Teach each of  theses  new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with your always, even to the end of the age.”   [Matthew 28:18-20, NLT.]  This occurred after Jesus’ resurrection. And, over time it  has become known as: The Great Commission.