SORRY VS. REPENTANCE

I guess every one of us has been sorry for some of the things we’ve done in the past. All of us have had those moments when we wish we could take back something we’ve said or done. Saying “I’m sorry,” I have found, doesn’t carry much weight as when someone is repentant about what’s happened.

The Bible says we’ve all sinned and fallen short (Romans 3:23). We all make mistakes; some big, some not so big; but it’s how we react that makes all the difference. It’s how our heart reacts, not our emotions and those feelings that go up and down.

Saying that you’re sorry is much easier done with a repentant heart. I found most people work with the “I’m sorry” but aren’t that interested in repentance, or they believe I’m sorry is good enough and that it is repentance.

Lots of people have prayed and asked God to forgive them of their sins, but few have really been repentant. In the book of Luke of the Bible, Jesus said that we’re to repent and that Heaven would rejoice. He didn’t say just to be sorry and that there would be rejoicing.

In Luke 13, Jesus expects you to repent. This repentance position has been exchanged for the “I’m sorry” way to many times in the church.

Repenting is a heart issue. No matter how you come to Jesus or even in making a matter right with another, don’t let “I’m sorry” just be enough. Make sure what you are repenting of really changes you. God, for sure, knows the difference and will make His acceptance of the matter from there. Repentance really means change.

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Prevailing

I find it may be more difficult than others to understand why people that say they love God and call themselves by the name of Christ and find little time to pray. And it’s even harder for me to come to the understanding for those who say they are believers to take such little time to read and study God’s word. Real life with God is found in Jesus, and to understand and know who you are in Christ comes from prayer and the study of God’s word.

Prayer changes everything it touches. Prayer is powerful. You mix prayer with God’s word and there is nothing in this world that can stand against it.

The word of God lies dormant each day in homes across America. All the time containing all the information someone needs to help them cope with life. In school people go to learn how to read and write, to know how to live and communicate in the world they live in. If you, as a Christian, had to graduate to be able to move to the next level of where you go in this life, would you be able to by what you really know of God’s word? I fear that many today that name the name of Christ are only dropouts that only do meager works, if any, for the employment of Christ. Today, too many Christians are living below the poverty level- spiritually speaking- because they do not understand this abundant life Jesus died for and came to earth to show us we could have as a better way if we would so choose.

To neglect God’s word and not study it or read it and call yourself a Christian means you’re nothing more than a religious hypocrite. God doesn’t play games about the future. He knows what’s coming, and He knows what you need to be doing to get ready. Do you know all of this?

Listen to this scripture from John 10:14- 15: “I am the good shepherd, and I know My sheep, and am known by My own…” Do you know Him? Don’t neglect His word. He’s listening for you to speak to Him. He wants to talk to you today.

Selective Sin

It happens all the time. Almost every one of us at one place or another makes choices about what we consider to be a sin, or what is maybe not as bad of a sin as another one. The Bible is pretty clear about sin. And when you may question whether something is or not, it might be wise to just err on the side of caution and not go there. Perhaps today it is worse than ever, now that many more Christians are questioning what they believe. But remember, God’s Word still applies with truth.

Times have definitely changed, but not so with God. He has the same standards as He has always had. Why, even God has to obey His own Word. It is true the Bible may be an old book, but regardless of what people say or think, it is not outdated. Its words are still just as relevant today as they ever were or will be.

We can’t just select certain passages and neglect others. We’d all like to do that at times. It’s not always an easy road to follow. But at the end of the road, that’s what is going to prove who was right. When any person comes to the end of their journey, here they will have to face the true reality of their own choices they’ve made; and if they have decided what they believe sin will be, then that’s how God will judge, and that judgment is made by being placed against His Word.

If we have strayed from His truths, then it will show up, and then the results could possibly carry a sentence that expels us from heaven. Only then it will be too late to try and make adjustments. Be very, very cautious in what you believe sin is and what God says it is.

ONLY GOD COULD DO IT

For someone like me, or maybe you, whose life went one way and it seemed God went another, through all you ever experienced God was there. We just didn’t recognize Him. If you don’t know God, He’s still waiting. His son, Jesus, is the way, the one who can lead you to a better life. He is a friend like no other, but you have to come to Jesus on His terms. And that is where the big problem usually is. We want a ‘say so’ but you can’t, or it won’t be real. You have to totally repent, not just make a few adjustments. It is either all of you, changing inside, or nothing will change.

It does take time and is a process here and there. It really all boils down to: are you willing to give it all up for a much better way of life than you think? God always gives us a choice, and then from the results of our choices, that’s who we are and directs where we are eventually heading.

To be a real Christian costs you to have to reject what this world offers to what heaven has waiting for you. We all struggle with feelings and emotions, hurts and desires where we are pretty high-maintenance in our needs and wants. It takes courage and an adjustable heart and a willingness to put yourself in God’s hands, letting Jesus make the changes to be really who you were intended to be.

So no matter where you’ve failed, no matter what you’ve done, if you really are serious about changing, Jesus is more than serious about helping you and is very capable of getting the job done.

Ineffective Power

There is an account found in the Bible that correlates to what has happened again and again throughout history for there is a lot to be said that history repeats itself.  This account has to do with the book of 1st Samuel chapters 4 & 5.  What we find here is the lives of 2 priests whose father is the prophet, Eli.  But the 2 sons are very ungodly leaders.  They believe they can do whatever they feel like, living sinful lives and that God is not going to do anything about it.  So they go to war not only to be defeated but also they die and the symbol of God’s presence, the Ark of God, as it is referred to, is taken by the enemy and then placed among the other gods of the people who eventually pay a high price of sickness and disease and their god falls off his pedestal and is broken apart.

Now, today, the church is to be one of God’s greatest symbols of His presence yet in some they have no real power for it has been taken out by the sinful acts of its people and sometimes leadership.  They made other material things religious or downright idolatry against the holiness of God.

The church God’s presence resides in should be the center point of any community, not just as a community center, but as a holy place where God is respected by its people’s actions throughout the community it is in.

We cannot place God where sin dwells and expect Him to do just take His place.  He won’t do it.  Unless the church retains its place with God, there is not real power.  The church was chosen by God to be His place and we all need to take a good look at our own churches and see how we measure up to be the real effective witness for Him in our own communities today.

The Birds and the Apple

Once on a very hot Texas day, I sat in a hotel parking lot under a small tree having some quiet time alone, when a car that was not far from me, whose driver was ready to leave, started his car, had an apple with him and for some reason, whatever it was, he simply put it outside of his car door and let it roll under the car.  Maybe it had a bad spot on it.  Whatever the reason, he drove off leaving the shiny red apple lying on the hot asphalt.

Within minutes, birds began to light and begin pecking at the apple.  Before long, there were 6 or 7, maybe more, pecking the apple, not only getting something to eat but also much needed moisture on an extremely hot day.

It began to dawn on me that apples don’t grow from asphalt and how God provided, from a very unlikely place, food and moisture for the birds of the air.  It reminded me of the scripture in Matthew 6:26 where it says: “Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow or reap nor gather into barns, yet your heavenly Father feeds them, are you not more valuable than they?”

It made me realize that God can provide for us from the most unlikely places as well.  No matter what we have need of, God knows what we need and only He has the great ability to bring forth and supply to you or me whatever may be required for us and all the others to come if we will only pay attention.  He has made provisions for us because we are more valuable to Him than birds.

THE FUTURE IS SECURE WITH JESUS

Nothing in this world is secure these days. There is great turmoil, and it is challenging all people. Today we see a society that no longer respects Christian values. In fact, Christianity seems to be becoming more and more hostile to many people. Most folks enjoy their sin, and this brings about rejection of a true Christian viewpoint because sin is threatened by real Christian values.

Yes, the world is beginning to experience divisions among what the Bible says is truth or what someone believes is their own opinion. This causes confusion and rejection because there seems to be no real truth.

But Jesus, in John 14:27, said that He leaves us peace, and goes on several times saying, “Peace I leave with you.” If you want peace, then that’s where you’ll find it. Jesus is known as the “Prince of Peace,” and today while many search for peace, only Jesus really has it.

This world is on shaky ground because sin never builds a solid foundation. And we need something that is secure and will not fail while every other system of mankind begins to deteriorate.

Jesus offers all the only peace, because He is the only true Son of the Living God. There is no other. And to know God as Father, you must know His Son as Lord, and you’ll have peace like nothing else this world has to offer.

THE TOUGH PLACES IN LIFE

God is the one who chooses how and whom He will work through if we are willing to let Him. If you’ll let Him, God will refine and make you into what you are really capable of becoming.

Our most tough places in life are the very places we can grow the most if we won’t rebel against God but trust Him regardless of what our emotions are saying or our own human thinking tries to convince us of. God will provide for you if you will let Him. God will fight for His people who will look to Him as their source no matter where they are at in life. But you must stand firm for God no matter what happens.

This, many times, separates those who actually follow Jesus from those who say they follow Jesus. In Joshua 1, God reminds His people “only be strong and courageous” in verse 7 and several other passages; “do not be afraid” nor dismayed for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.

Remember this wherever you go or whatever you face in this life: if you will not turn from the right or the left, if you will meditate and trust in God’s word and His way, He will be with you however it ends up.

The reason people fall is not because of a mistake they made, it is because they keep making the same mistakes. It doesn’t matter what’s going on in your life. When Jesus comes on the scene, something is going to have to change; either you are going to have to face your situation and live with it or let Jesus deal with it.

Do you have a faith in God that can sustain you? It is one thing to talk about it, and it is something else to walk it out. But God will walk it out with you every time. That is, if you do really have the relationship that it takes. The moment you start depending almost exclusively on mankind’s programs to be your supplier of your needs, you’ll weaken your faith in God as being your main source.

The advice of others may bring help, but only God’s Word can bring healing in those tough places in life.

THE REAL ENEMY

Why do families fight with each other? Why is there constant turmoil between people groups? Why are there struggles among political parties? Why are neighbors at odds with each other at times? Why are there divorces, murders, stealing, wars, disease, and economic problems?

The answer is actually very simple, and you’ll find the answer in the Bible. Ephesians 6:12, says, “For we are not fighting against flesh and blood enemies but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers of this dark world and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.” So it is that simple. It is not actually the people we fight against but the evil that people allow themselves to be influenced by.

Make no mistake about it; you are either being controlled at various times by evil or good. Anyone who believes they live by their own motives and reasons are totally deceived. For your flesh is no match for the unseen forces of the Heavenlies.

It is true sometimes; some people don’t need too much help from evil because the original nature of mankind is evil. But there is a real enemy that knows how to control in various ways people who do not surrender their lives to Jesus, the Son of the Living God.

Only Jesus can protect us from evil, and you had better face the facts. There is no in-between. You either allow yourself to be controlled in one way or the other by Jesus, the Son of God, or by Satan and his dark ways. Everyone is in only one of these two categories.

The Sunday After the Rapture

I wonder what might be going on that Sunday right after the rapture. There will surely be much confusion as many will still be trying to explain why so many people have just disappeared. Of course, there will be many who will still be in shock trying to still convince themselves that this just isn’t real, this just isn’t really happening. And then there will be some who thought for sure they’d be gone as well- but why were they left? And there will be those who exactly know what’s taken place…they’ve missed the great rapture of the church and now they’re going to have to face a world like no one on earth has ever seen.

Some may come weeping bitterly for their hearts are so heavy; the loss has been so great. By that Sunday after the rapture the police and sheriff’s departments will be so overwhelmed… So the government now has to step in, a few of them are gone and even though they have few answers they must help stop the chaos. It’s the Sunday after the great disappearing of so many, where people used to get up on Sunday morning, take a jog in the mid-morning to keep that body fit, but today they don’t even want to come out of their front door.

That Sunday after the rapture as now the night shadows fall, there is noise in the background, that of a curfew. People are told to stay in their homes, remain calm. But how can one, as the electricity goes on and off; sometimes there are just hours of darkness? People are afraid, people are lonely. And the poor hospitals… They can’t keep up with the hurting. The counselors are of little help, it seems. And, oh how many more have taken their own lives, and the looting and robbing is terrible. Why have even good people have done terrible things to others?

That Sunday will be a day that will cause many to remember all those Sundays they neglected coming to hear about the things of God. That Sunday right after the true Christians have left will not be like any of the other. Those that lived for the weekend, taking every weekend for themselves, are now they’re wishing they could have reevaluated and spent their time more wisely. Yet it is too late.

Many on that Sunday after the rapture, when the true saints of God have been caught away from this earth, will now know also what the Bible warns is to come. Many will now take down those Bibles that have lain on the shelf or inside that drawer to see what happens next.

Rest assured, that day is coming. And from all indications, it is now more than ever before poised to happen at any time of any day. “For as the lightning comes from the east and flashes to the west, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be.” (Matthew 24:27)