I was waist deep and sinking in choppy dark water, depths unknown; my hand reaching for the lifesaving hand outstretched towards me. Where once it was Peter, this time it was a visual of me; it was adeptly descriptive of my present state; metaphorically I was truly drowning; metaphorically I was literally crying out to be saved from drowning; and literally I recognized HE is the only one that could lift me from the depths that threatened to engulf me.
Like so many people worldwide, I am weary. I’m weary of being sick; weary of worrying over the health of loved ones; weary of being cooped up inside my house; weary of being being invalidated with my integrity questioned. And quite possibly most of all, I’m weary of waiting, and wondering if and when this all will end.
By “end” I’m not just talking about this pandemic level virus assaulting not only the country I live in but the world at large; I’m also weary of the darkness and pervasive evil worldwide, that is as much of, if not more of a pandemic than this virus.
Thus it was so timely that I happened to notice, pick up and begin again reading a book some months set aside.
Through the words of John Eldredge, in his book: All Things New, my focus was shifted away from the cares of this world to the promises of what is to come; and beautiful and exciting these promises are.
I was reminded afresh how God has promised to make ALL things NEW. Contrary to commonly held beliefs that leave some in fear of eternal boredom and cloud floating, I was able to visualize an existence in a body free of disease and aging which will forever experience eternal joy while busily engaged in developing God given talents as I realize all of my dreams of this life, many set aside and unfulfilled, to be fulfilled to their fullest in the beautiful, exciting world to come.
While I endure the trials of this life, I can latch my hope and faith onto these promises, because they are just that: promises; they’re promises given to those who faithfully slog (endure) their way through this life faithfully holding onto the hope found through Jesus Christ.
And mind you, these are not pipe dreams, as these promises are biblical: both Old Testament as well as New. From Isaiah we find promise in these words:
(Isaiah 65:17-19): For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth; And the former shall not be remembered or come to mind. But be glad and rejoice forever in what I create; For behold, I create Jerusalem as a rejoicing, And her people a joy. I will rejoice in Jerusalem, And joy in My people; The voice of weeping shall no longer be heard in her, Nor the voice of crying.
From the book of Revelation, found in the New Testament, and pertaining to end times, in chapter 21 we find: “Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also there was no more sea. Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.”
Then He who sat on the throne said, “Behold, I make all things new.” And He said to me, “Write, for these words are true and faithful.”
And He said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. I will give of the fountain of the water of life freely to him who thirsts. He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall be My son. But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.”
Later this afternoon, when once again I started feeling weary, a video popped up that peaked my curiosity. It turned out to be just what I needed to hear, and served as a confirmation of what I’d experienced hours earlier:
“What does it profiteth a man if he gain the whole world but lose his soul… “
As I sat here staring at a blank blog page with a desire in my heart but absolutely no idea how to express it, the above words came to mind.
I believe those words comprise the lifeblood of the message that is in my spirit which I pray will touch your heart.
A little over 7 years ago, in the midst of a crisis of my faith, I phoned my childhood best friend. At age 11 my family moved 850 miles away from my childhood home, so this friend and I no longer maintained the typical friendship of those who are blessed to grow up together in the same town. But this friend and her family were so near and dear to me, I reserved a place for her in my heart, for life, and periodically kept in touch in an attempt to sustain our friendship.
As she and I were raised under the same religious culture, but knowing she did not live true to the religion, she was, I believed, the one I could safely call. I needed someone whom I believed would understand, to discuss with this crisis I was in, upon coming to recognize this church in which I was raised and had been faithful to for the better part of my life was, actually, in fact, not all it perported to be.
In this phone conversation I learned a few things: while my friend did not live the religion in her daily life, she still held to the culture and believed the church to be true; my friend believed what is important to make it to heaven is simply to be a “good person”; and lastly, my crisis of faith of the church actually seemed to serve distancing this friend from me; something I feared it would those who remain active believers of this particular church; I just never anticipated it of this friend.
However, that phone conversation is the last this particular friend has accepted from me.
I still love that friend and I’ve missed her. But more importantly is what I have come to understand in the years since that phone call with her.
In particular, on my mind today, is not so much her belief that this particular church and culture are true, but more importantly of her belief that you only need to be a “good person” to obtain eternal salvation into Heaven.
This is a false belief and my objective desire today is to share with you, my reader, what is essential to obtain the saving Grace of God, so as to obtain eternal salvation in the glories of eternal heaven, as opposed to finding yourself in the realm outside of heaven thereby being cut off from the presence of God which equates to spending eternity in the realm of Hell.
To begin we need to understand why any of this is relevant, and I believe the following sums it up well:
Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned— 13 For until the law sin was in the world, but sin is not imputed when there is no law. 14 Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those who had not sinned according to the likeness of the transgression of Adam, who is a type of Him who was to come. 15 But the free gift is not like the offense. For if by the one man’s offense many died, much more the grace of God and the gift by the grace of the one Man, Jesus Christ, abounded to many. (Romans 5:12-15)
In a nutshell: Adam sinned against God and in that moment suffered spiritual death. He was cut off from the presence of God.
In order to restore a way for mankind back into the presence of God, (since we each are born of Adam with a sin nature) a sacrifice had to be made to atone for sin.
This was accomplished by God (the son of God: Jesus Christ) coming to this earthly realm and taking on the form of humanity; this being accomplished by the Holy Spirit implanting in the womb of the virgin Mary so that she would bear the human child in which the spirit of God, (the son of God) dwelt, thereby creating a human being that was both God and man.
And Simon Peter answered and said, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
17 And Jesus answered and said unto him, “Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but My Father who is in Heaven. (Matthew 16:16-17)
Thus it was that Jesus was without sin which qualified Him worthy to be a sacrifice to atone for the sins of all of mankind.
“For if you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live” (Romans 8:13)
For us to be able to partake in the redemption offered us of God by way of this atoning sacrifice, it is requisite that we ACCEPT this gift; acceptance of this gift is done by way of faith and believing.
To deny the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ leaves us lost in our sins:
Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins;for if you do not believe that I am He, you will die in your sins. (John 8:24)
Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins;for if you do not believe that I am He, you will die in your sins. (Colossians 2:9)
On the other hand, when we accept and believe on the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ:
There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. 2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death. (Romans 8:1-2)
That if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. 11 For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.” (Romans 10:9-11)
I think because my original foundational understanding of the gospel began with religion based upon law, it was challenging for me to come to understand and accept the principle of grace, a principle taught us by the Apostle Paul.
Perhaps this is why I was given a particularly powerful dream, one I felt was worthy to share, which I did in a previous blog post. You can read it by following this link
I recommend reading it, as I believe it serves well to drive home an understanding of this powerful gift or blessing that can be ours.
Following are a couple scriptures that define what I came to understand in the dream:
Now He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God. (Romans 8:27)
Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us (Romans 8:34)
While doing research I came across an article wherein I learned the following:
There are two kinds of faith: ascentia and fiducia.
Ascentia is a mental acknowledgment.
Understanding this helped me understand something that once puzzled me:
In reading from the New Testament I realized the demons who took possession of mortal bodies recognized Jesus as the son of God.
In my mind this establishes a couple points:
1) Jesus IS of God, because these demons, followers of Satan, each of whom once dwelt in the Heavens with God clearly would know of the deity of God and thus of the Son of God. Therefore, when He dwelt upon the earth they recognized Him.
2) Despite fully recognizing Jesus, thereby “believing” it was Him, and thus knowing He IS the Son of God, yet still they are NOT saved. So, what’s the difference?
The difference is between ascentia and fiducia.
Fiducia is a faithful, independent trust in the work of Christ upon the cross. It is in believing andtrusting that the sacrifice of Jesus Christ: His offering up His life and allowing His blood to be shed for our sins: is the only way through which we can and will be saved.
So it’s more than just knowing of Jesus Christ. Many are those that can know of Jesus. There is secular documentation from the time when Jesus walked upon the earth that allows us to know He was a real life character. Knowing OF Him is not enough.
Salvation requires believing in Him; believing His atonement; trusting in the salvation He offers: understanding that is is ONLY through Jesus Christ that we can come to the Father.
Jesus said to him, “I amthe way,the truth, andthe life.No one comes to the Fatherexcept through Me. (John 14:6)
Being a good person and doing good works is a good thing, but it will NOT bring us to the eternal Father!! It is NOT the key.
“Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand, 2 by which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you—unless you believed in vain.
3 For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures, (1Corinthians 15:1-4)
And once we have this; hold fast, because:
…“Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, Nor have entered into the heart of man The things which God has prepared for those who love Him.” (1 Cor 2:9)
Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. 38 For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, 39 nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:37-39)
I pray that if your faith was wavering or, simpering out, or no longer existent, it is revived, so that the fire now burns within your spirit and that your HOPE burns bright, as we wait upon our Lord and Savior, because HE has long promised HE WILL RETURN for those who love Him.
For we were saved in this hope, but hope that is seen is not hope; for why does one still hope for what he sees? (Romans 8:24)
Often we have heard the precursor to this, but I believe the following is of equal or perhaps even more importance. THIS is the reason why HE came to earth:
For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. (John 3: 17-18)
And I believe it is SO important that each of us get firm on where we stand, because God does not “send” us to Hell, we are already destined for Hell. Jesus Christ came to SAVE us FROM Hell.
God, by way of The Son, Jesus Christ, came to earth, took OUR sin upon Himself, (He a perfect being without sin) and died in our place, so that WE do not have to die for our sins.
Remember, in the garden God warned that those who partook of the fruit of that particular tree would “die”. Well, they DID die, that day!: they died spiritually.
So, each of us are born spiritually “dead”. but, here’s the GOOD NEWS:
Because of the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ, we can be saved from that eternal death!
THAT, friends, is what Hell is: eternal death!
To be SAVED from eternal death, or Hell, we need to ACCEPT the outstretched hand of Jesus Christ by BELIEVING on Him, believing IN Him, and thus accepting HIM as the LORD and SAVIOR that He is!
Then, take up our cross and follow Him.
“If you love me, keep my commands.” (John 14:15)
The following link is a good article to define what it means to “take up our cross”:
He promised He would return to earth, only this time it will be to gather up all who are true and faithful (both the living and the dead) who will be raised up in incorruptible bodies.
Those who REJECT Him (Jesus Christ) will remain on earth and will be tried by great tribulation:
Matthew 24:21 – For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be.
Daniel 12:1 – And at that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince which standeth for the children of thy people: and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation [even] to that same time: and at that time thy people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book.
My constant prayer is that those I love and care about will believe on Jesus Christ and be ready for His return.
John 3:16-18 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.
I feel rather like the Israelites who grumbled in the desert after Moses rescued them from years of slavery and bondage.
As a kid viewing the movie “The Ten Commandments” I was baffled that these people grumbled and complained whining their desire to be back in Egypt, despite it being where they suffered in bondage as slaves. Where they nuts!?!
As an adult I realize it was the only home they had ever known, so despite being delivered from bondage and abuse, the effects of leaving behind their homes, routine and familiar food, prompted in them a desire to go back; they wanted back what, although painful,l was familiar and thus comfortable.
The desert experience with its daily dropping from Heaven of Manna for food, (day after day after day again, albeit free) was NOT familiar and provided its own sort of struggles and trials.
For a long time, not so unlike the Israelites, I too have cried out to God, but for different reasons. I’m not in bondage, I’m not a slave (despite the occasional wisecracks that come from my mouth to that effect), and on the whole I am not unhappy with my life, as it is now (excluding income taxes and the ill effects of stomach viruses).
But despite living in a comfortable home with a husband and family I love, with plenty of food to eat and basically good health, I still feel the pains and stresses of this mortal life; I especially feel it each time I am made aware of the acts of evil that are becoming ever more pervasive in this world.
I find I long for that something more that I seem to innately know is to be had; despite what is good in this life I still long to go “home”.
That said, now that I am coming to recognize the signs of Biblical prophecy being fulfilled insomuch that I recognize just how close it is to the time when our Lord, Jesus Christ, Yeshua, will return for His people, I find that, not so unlike Lots wife, I seem to have this inclination to “look back”.
In realizing life as we know it actually has an expiration date, quite possibly much sooner than before anticipated, I realize this life that has become so familiar will become a thing of the past for me.
With the prospect of leaving all that is familiar becoming more imminent, I’m no longer so anxious to say good-by. I find I’ve a new sense of anxiety over the unknown, as this life I’m living is one in which I’ve become comfortable in its familiarity.
Thus, despite my every confidence that that which is yet to come: being with the Lord in the beauty and peace of His presence, wherein no evil thing can dwell, is far greater and more beautiful than anything we experience on earth, I find I feel an anxiousness for all that is mine here and now.
It leads me to think about Lots wife. With the exception of Lot and his immediate family, the people of Sodom and Gomorrah were grossly wicked, having turned far away from God. In consequence, God’s wrath was to come upon Sodom and Gomorrah, but because Lot had not turned his back on God, God warned Lot, in advance, so that he and his family could flee the city before it was destroyed.
However, Lot’s wife, despite being warned against it, turned back and looked upon the city with longing. This disobedience brought about immediate death to her.
As a child I didn’t understand why Lot’s wife turned back. I suspect a lack of faith in what was coming to her future factored into her looking back. That future was unknown and thus lacked the comfort of she already knew; that which was already familiar.
My logical mind recognizes that the things of this world pale significantly in comparison to what is promised those who love the Lord and choose Him.
Yet despite my faith in this, what I have and experience now feels very real to me, while what is yet to come is presently intangible and thus feels surreal.
Therefore I believe I understand those historical people a little better, and I recognize a need in me to be patient with myself as I strive each day to wait upon and trust in the Lord—and to wait and see.
While there may be ample theological writings that attempt to answer that question, what I’m about to say is short, simple and completely based solely on my experience–and from my heart.
I believe, with my 53 years of living in which there has been no shortage of suffering, that God has allowed it in my life because while the experiences produced personal refinement, most of all it has served to create in me a deep and intense longing for the return of our Lord, Jesus Christ.
With all my heart I long for the peace and completeness only He can offer. I long for the deep and intimate love that can be found only in Him. I long to see Him, to be in His presence, and to feel His love for me.
And along with those I love, I long to live in the perfect world He has promised will be ours; a world wherein we will live in peace and harmony and love and completeness: forever!
Had my life been a journey of leisure and fun sans the trials and heartache, rather than longing to be with my God, I likely instead would have lived a life of selfishness and in a fruitless pursuit of a fountain of youth.
Instead, the sorrow, and pain and battle scars from the abuse and trails of this life have instilled in me an indescribable longing for the peace and joy God has promised to those who love Him, and my heart rejoices in my recognition that the fulfillment of those promises is so very close at hand.
“Hurt People hurt people” “Offended People offend people”.
As the speaker, Robert Morris, spoke these words, particular people I’ve encountered who have hurt and offended me came to mind. One person in particular, who I’ve long found to be abrasive and obnoxious and subsequently offensive, not only to me but towards other people, came to mind.
The thing that took me by surprise is to think of this person as someone who possibly behaved/behaves in this manner not for the reasons I’ve assumed, but instead may well behave this way as means of compensating for feelings of fear of rejection, or other emotional wounds.
I do find I’ve a recognition of the need to be less quick to judge and more prone to consider there may be more to a person than meets the eye.
What I found most interesting, in listening to Robert Morris speak, is how much clearer my life, my past, becomes to me. My youth was littered with numerous broken romantic relationships; the majority of them being ended, after a short period of time, by me.
I’ve also wondered why, throughout my life, I have not been the one to initiate friendships.
For the longest time I could not have explained why I had this pattern when it comes to relationships. Just now, as I listened to this speaker, it became very clear to me.
I recognize he is spot on.
This link is to a very excellent message from what I think to be an excellent message bearer. I hope others enjoy it as I have.
I have a new acquaintance; someone I’ve never met in person; a man who read one of my blogs and challenged me in regard to its contents. I’ve come to appreciate his challenge as it has led me to think further on the matter; to question some aspects of my belief system and thus, in the process of verifying what I was professing to believe, I came upon information that, upon further study, is enabling me to discover the teachings I’ve believed in regard to Hell may not be based upon truth at all, but instead appear to be based upon misinformation long since taught.
To that end, I am compiling information on the topic to present in another blog, to be posted in the near future.
In the meantime, however, this acquaintance has posed a thought which inspired the thought process leading to this blog.
As a child I witnessed my dad, a stanch Mormon/LDS (joined church to marry my mom) sitting at my (Southern Baptists, hated Mormonism, loved me regardless) grandparents table, arguing with his older brother, a preacher of yet another religious denomination (one I don’t recall).
I remember feeling very uncomfortable and a little embarrassed in seeing my dad sitting there vehemently arguing his position on religion. (This is not to say the Uncle didn’t argue just as much but in this case my connection was with my dad). I guess even as a child I recognized this to be fruitless, pointless, and just somehow wrong.
Thus it is I was raised being taught the belief system of Mormonism. Incorporated into this indoctrination was a fear that should I reject these teachings my eternal salvation would be in peril.
Imagine my crisis of faith when I reached a crossroads of disbelief brought about over years of analytical thinking combined with recognition of what I see as significant contradiction within the teachings and history of Mormonism.
A crisis of faith seems too weak a term! There were moments when I was scared to death!
I went from praying with all my heart for God to show me truth to praying, despite a fear I might be praying to nothing at all. There were times I prayed solely because it was what I knew by way of long established habit, and in my crisis I clung to what I could hold onto lest I completely drown.
Why this additional crisis? Because maybe not only was my, up to that point, culture built on a bed of slippery sand, but maybe even the teaching of a God was a lie.
It was in these moments of crisis that a thought of logic and reason came to my mind; a thought that enabled me to recognize a belief in my core, a recognition which reached beyond dogmatic denominational teachings.
After that moment many personal experiences began coming back to mind which reminded me of specific times when I became aware God was not hidden from me, but was instead manifested to me.
Again I was able to feel God within my heart.
From there I began a new quest for truth, for God’s truth, not man’s belief of truth. It’s been a step by step journey.
What I am coming to recognize is this is a personal journey. I can share of my experience and the subsequent beliefs, but I cannot give to someone else the reality or divinity of God. I cannot prove His existence. I cannot establish by way of science, or any other means that he is real. For that matter, I don’t believe I can say, and still be honest, that I know—as in knowing with absolute certainty, that God is real.
So I go with the conviction I feel because of what I’ve experienced, and I combine it with the written testimonies, as recorded in the New Testament, of those who actually witnessed Jesus Christ who testified of the literal reality of God.
These recorded histories are of men who literally walked and talked with Jesus. They saw his miracles performed. But most importantly not only did they witness him hang upon a cross until death, and witness his burial in a heavily guarded tomb, three days later they witnessed the empty tomb followed up by a literal physical witness of Jesus having risen from the dead.
I have never heard in all of history another who was clearly and definitely dead, buried, only to rise again three days later fully alive. Then even later still these same people witnessed this same personage, Jesus, ascending into the heavens.
Added to this witness are the recordings of the Apostle Paul who eventually died a martyr’s death refusing to deny Jesus Christ. Unlike those who walked and talked with Jesus, Paul did not find himself in the presence of Jesus until long after His crucifixion and ascension into the Heavens. Thus it is, when Paul witnessed Jesus, Jesus was in His Godly form.
I am aware someone can take any experience I might share with them and shoot it down by way of rationalization to suggest an alternate means whereby it might have come. I am also aware there are those that dispute the validity of the Bible. Thus it is I am grateful to men, such as Lee Strobel, a very educated man in possession of degrees both in Journalism and Law, who, while a practicing Atheist, took upon himself the challenge to investigate the evidence for Jesus.
In process of this investigation, Lee Strobel learned that not only is there evidence of Jesus in the Bible but there are also secular historical records that establish Jesus existed. In reading the subsequent book written based upon his findings, titled: The Case for Christ, I was able to learn there is also evidence to corroborate the claims of the Resurrection of Jesus.
It is because of the evidence established via his research that Lee Strobel embraced Christianity.
It is, in part, because of what I learned in reading Lee Strobel’s book, The Case for Christ, that I gained further confidence in my belief in the divinity of Jesus Christ, and that I can rest in my belief there is a God, and that he is not silent.
Despite this, unlike my dad and his brother, I am intentional about avoiding argument over religion, or faith, or God.
However I will gladly share my belief, a belief system that is still flexible and growing. I’ve come to realize I do not have all the answers and even in some cases what I’ve been led to believe may not be completely correct or accurate. If I become aware an aspect of my belief system is erroneous, I will stand corrected and present the new information I’ve obtained.
I’m on a quest to find truth, whatever that may be.
While I don’t desire to force feed my beliefs down someone’s throat, I do wish I could give to others this feeling in my heart; this feeling of calm, despite the storms of life; this feeling of assurance that there is a God, and that I am actually known and loved by Him.
There may well be those who could put up a good argument against my beliefs. But this is how I’m coming to see it:
Should, when all is said and done and I utter my last breath, it turn out I am mistaken, what possibly have I lost? Life, by its very nature, is harsh. Yet, during the storms of life, I am sojourning with hope and peace in my heart. Should I die and simply vape off into nothingness, then I’ll have spent my time of existence with hope in my heart, and the feeling of being loved, cared for and watched over by a loving God. I’ll have lost nothing but gained so much, regardless.
On the other hand, if God is real, and if God is infinite love, and if God is absolute peace, and if God is full of grace– upon my last breathe of mortality my soul will leave my body to be embraced into the presence of this wonderful God. And because of His love, peace and grace, this will be a God who loves me and accepts me despite all my miserable mortal imperfections.
Thus it is again I have lost nothing, but have in fact gained everything!
What if Hell is real? What if there really is a dwelling place completely void of light; and the beings that dwell there are in utter darkness and, despite being amidst others, they are in complete isolation?
What if there really is a God? What if the God of the Bible is real? What if the big bang theory is bunk? What if there is actually a creator so powerful (omnipotent) and so intelligent (omniscient), that to find oneself in His presence we would come to recognize we are pathetic by comparison.
What if it’s actually true that, in rejecting the creator of our souls we submit ourselves to Hell? What if, in so doing, we end up dwelling eternally in a place where we are completely isolated from every other being around us in utter darkness and without option of ever leaving that place?
What if we really don’t have the option of being able to cease to exist, but, in our complete rebellion against Him, we have no choice but to remain in that existence, completely separated from God, and light, and any form of connection with others, forever?!
To be honest with you, just even imagining such an existence is enough to scare the Hell out of me!
What if Jesus, the Jesus of the Bible, really did rise from the dead after three days? What if he was actually more than just a man, or prophet, or great teacher?
We know there was such a man as Jesus of Nazareth because there are historical records, separate of the Bible, that tell of this man. But what if he is actually more than ‘just a man’? What if he really is the literal son of God? What if he really did have power not only to give up his mortal life but, three days later, rise from the dead into eternal life?
What if death, for us, is not a ceasing to exist? What if it is no longer an eternal sleep but instead we actually continue on but in a different physical state than what we have right now? What if we actually do have to face and account for what we have done with our life here on earth? What if we really do have to come before a being so powerful we literally can’t stand while in its presence?
What happens if we scoff at the concept of a God, an eternal creator, and we scoff at the concept of a Savior, commonly referred to as Jesus Christ, and we scoff at the concept of life after death and we scoff at the concept of Hell, and we laugh at those we think are fools to believe in such things and then it turns out it’s true and we had it all wrong?
What then? What if God is real? What if we really are created beings? What if we think we are so great but we really are not? What if Jesus Christ, Yeshua, is literally the only way to escape eternal Hell? What if it doesn’t matter that we don’t believe in all this? What happens then?
What if while rejecting any belief in God we die and end up in eternal misery and damnation because we were so sure of what we thought we knew?
When I was much younger—mostly teenage years, guys used to get a laugh over my innocence, as often was the time something was said where the innuendo went right past me.
Even now I can see the laughing face as hands would swish past ears to illustrate how it had gone right past me. (Even that gesture had to be explained to me the first time it was used, lol.)
I didn’t mind the teasing as it was generally good natured.
Now, these many years later, apparently I’ve still been missing the meaning of some things. Unlike then, it seems now it’s concepts of a much more important nature.
Despite hearing something a multitude of times, the true meaning seems to pass beyond me until, at just the right moment, I suddenly come to understand in a way I previously had no idea.
Like just moments ago.
How many times have I heard the story of Jesus speaking to Simon Peter, asking “do you love me”? (John 21:1-19)
How many times have I heard the lecture “feed my sheep”?
How many times did the deeper meaning within this story whip right past me?
Let me try and explain.
I was reading the chapter titled ‘Peter’s Second Chance’ in the book: “Life Lessons with Max Lucado”.
Somehow, it would seem, the fact this story took place after, not before, Jesus was resurrected is something that had previously escaped me. But, while that is an important fact, it’s not the essential part, so stick with me as I’d like to share the story as I experienced it today.
Imagine a lovely day (okay, I don’t know what the weather was like, but for reasons I can’t explain I imagine it to be a lovely blue sky, sunshine filled day). Simon Peter and his companions were in their boat, on the water fishing. Fishing wasn’t going so well.
Does it ever when it’s a beautiful blue skied sunshine day?—seriously the best catch seems to come when the weather is crap, and the skies are ugly. Ah well… such is life anyhow…
From the shore a man queries as to how the fishing is going. From the boat he is informed– not so well.
He responds by telling them to throw their net to the right side of the boat stating when they do they will find some. They do as suggested and the net fills up to capacity; so much so they can’t pull the net up it’s so heavy with fish. When this happens “the disciple whom Jesus loved” recognizes Him, and exclaims “It is the Lord!”
Simon Peter’s joy at this news is such he dives into the water to get to shore faster, so anxious is he to be near Jesus. The other disciples follow, in the boat, towing the net of fish with them.
Jesus, in his resurrected body, (remember, this all takes place after he was crucified and risen again) is sitting on shore cooking fish, with the intent to share a meal with his friends. Jesus instructed them to bring some of the fish they had just caught.
Together they shared the meal as Jesus feed them bread and fish. None of them even questioned if it was Jesus because they knew it was the Lord.
However, these details I’ve just shared are not what I’d hear quoted in the past. Instead the emphasis was placed upon how Jesus questioned Simon Peter: “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me more than these?” to be followed up with instruction to “feed my sheep”.
Until today, my recollection of this was the emphasis on the rendering of charitable service. I suspect it was likely Sunday lessons on service for which this passage was quoted.
Today, however, as I read “Yes, Lord; You know that I love you”, then “Feed my lambs”, I thought, well yes, if we love Jesus then we love others.
Again Jesus asked “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me?” Again Peter replied “Yes, Lord; You know that I love you”. Jesus then instructed him “Tend My sheep”.
A third time Jesus asks the question and by this time Peter is troubled that he’s being asked what he knows the Lord knows, so his reply is “Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You”.
In the process of reading this it was impressed upon my heart the actual nature of this relationship between Jesus and Simon Peter; they shared a true and genuine friendship. Peter loved Jesus, Jesus loved Peter.
Peter did not relate to Jesus as a feared leader; as The Holy One in the way one respects an austere religious figure. While it’s evident he recognized Jesus as the Messiah, the son of God in flesh, he loved him in the way you and I love a living, breathing, true and genuine friend. Jesus and Peter shared a true, genuine, real friendship bonded by love for one another.
As the understanding of this hit me I felt sadness. The thought in my mind was how I wish I could have that type of relationship with Jesus. I wished I too could share that same bond of loving friendship.
And that is the moment it hit me: this realization; this strong impression on my soul; this recognition; this understanding, that this very thing is what Jesus actually wants with me.
My soul was rocked by the impact of this enlightenment in such a way it made me cry. Never before had it occurred to me that, just as with Peter, James, John, Andrew, Bartholomew, Jude, Matthew, Philip, Simon and Thomas, and even Judas, Jesus also loves Me and desires an eternal friendship with Me.
Like as for them, His blood was also shed for Me. Thus I too, can be washed clean of my sins, and have eternal life.
But my relationship with Him is not limited to that.
Like with them, apparently he also desires a friendship with me.
I HAD NO IDEA!
This concept had never occurred to me before.
But, here’s the thing: to my awareness, I’m not anything that spectacular—after all, I’m just me: a semi-normal, average gal who hasn’t done anything spectacular (that I’m aware of) and certainly nothing that has gained me any formal recognition.
So, since Jesus is actually aware of me and desires, with me, the kind of friendship he shared with his disciples: a living, breathing, face to face association; a sharing food and conversation type friendship; a friendship to be experienced in resurrected bodies throughout eternity in the eternal world to come, then this can only mean I’m most certainly not the only one in this modern world whose heart He longs for.
So, the question begs: are you letting Jesus into your heart?
Are you seeking to know Him, to love Him, to be one of His disciples?
Do you want to be?
Are you answering the door of your heart when He knocks?
Because most likely He is standing there, waiting for you.
So, on Facebook I’m seeing a lot of personal photos embedded into the French flag.
I’m wondering what flag folks will embed their photo into next; this assault on Paris is not a first and I’m very confident it will not be the last terrorist assault.
I truly believe we are entering the “last days” as prophesied long ago. Pay close attention to all the world events and the natural disasters that are coming in close and rapid succession. Put the pieces together and compare to Biblical prophecy and see if you see the same picture I am coming to see.
I’m not afraid; I’m excited. That said, please don’t misunderstand me. I’m NOT happy about natural disasters, I’m NOT happy about wars, rumors of wars and pending world war. I’m NOT happy about terrorist activity.
But my heart leaps with joy to see actual signs of HIS coming. I’ve long looked forward to the return of Jesus Christ.
My life has been full of sorrow, so my lifeline; my hope, has been placed in the promised joy that will come with dwelling in the presence of God.
I once had a personal experience, very short lived, of feeling peace beyond anything this life has to offer. I truly believe it was a gift from God; something I very much needed to give me Hope so I could find the strength to stay among the living.
I don’t exactly know what my life mission is, or why God wanted me to carry on, but having that glimmer of Hope was essential.
And just when I began to weary my hope was in vain; that maybe there really wasn’t going to be “last days”; that maybe Jesus was not really going to come again to earth, then, at last, the tide began to turn; things started happening world-wide.
And I’m not ‘gonna’ lie–I started to get real excited.
But, like I said before, I’m excited not for the sorrows; I’m very excited to meet face to face with our Lord!