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As far as I can tell, Christianity is the only belief system that faces the reality of death head-on and realistically. Death is not noble. It's nothing to look forward to. If it's the path to enlightenment, then that's a cruel path. Whoever believes that hasn't seen enough horrors, like torture or kidnapped and killed children. Some try to ignore they are going to die, or have a flippant attitude, a denial of reality. The Bible says it as it is: The wages of sin is death but the free gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
This is one of my longer posts:
I was thinking about what sets Christianity apart. What gets the attention of the man in the street? We could say it is you have to believe in Jesus, but most religions and mythologies have gods who also have requirements of their followers. So, while true, that might not get the man in the street’s attention. You could say Christianity believes in the Trinity, which is a unique belief, but not that important to the man in the street. He can’t see how that is important to his situation. I propose that one thing by which one can know Christianity is the only truth is how it explains death, which is of importance to us all. No other belief system has an adequate explanation for why we all die, often painfully. Science doesn’t know how the atom or living cell came into existence, or why DNA is programmed to die. So science can’t explain death. So, too, all belief systems that have a “higher power” can’t explain why their benign higher power would have everyone eventually die. Here I need to point out that we tend to sanitize death. But death is horrible. There’s nothing noble about it. Buddhism and Hinduism and humanism and any other belief that tries to gloss over death as though it’s just a natural part of the cycle of life lack credibility. If death were just like falling asleep for everyone, that would sell. But the man on the street knows death isn’t that nice for most. How did the cycle of life come to be like that? Cycles don’t just happen. Islam believes death is just a portal to Heaven, again downplaying the awfulness and inevitability of death. They don’t explain why their god would make death so horrible if it were just a portal. No, Christianity alone deals with death as it really is. Christianity alone says that death is so final and horrible that only Jesus could break its power. Even Christians have to physically die, but we escape the real power of death, which is eternal separation from God. The man in the street may not like that he still has to die physically but he should appreciate Christianity's honest approach. The Bible says much more about death and how it came about, but I think you get the picture. Christianity has the only realistic approach to death, and that is why I propose that it is one characteristic that sets it apart to the man in the street, which is where it really matters.
According to my Facebook feeds, Keanu Reeves is Jesus. Unfortunately, according to the Bible that would make him the Antichrist.
-This gender identity thing is another example of America drifting from its Christian heritage. The result is each person thinks they know what's best for them. It's spiritual anarchy, and that never has good results. And while most wouldn't recognize it, it's actually an attack on the family, the Bible and God.
-While on the surface the immigrants from the South appear to be an uncertain, even bad thing, I keep sensing that spiritually it's a good thing.
"And surely I am with you always, even to the end of the age."
These words of Jesus have long comforted and assured me on a mental level, but I believe they are really meant for the spiritual level. The Bible says Job had a "hedge" about him that protected him from the attacks of Satan. Likewise, I believe each true Christian has a hedge about them. That hedge is Jesus. In the verse above, Jesus is saying if we will enable our spiritual senses, we will sense His presence, and any fear or anxiety cannot penetrate His presence. And we should continually walk in His presence, not just when feeling attacked.
"Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you."
One consequence of America's drifting from its Christian heritage is that America has become unclean to the point we can't pretend it's not. It didn't happen overnight but it has accelerated seemingly overnight. It's infected nearly every form of entertainment, the media and internet. If we don't make a conscious effort now to separate from the unclean thing, then we'll have to tell Jesus some day why not. It's hard to do but that's where we are.
I have long known why a person can do bad, even heinous things. The Bible is clear. It’s because of our sinful nature, which we are either born with or soon acquire, I care not which you believe. But I have also been long puzzled over how that same person can do very loving and selfless things, even to cases of soldiers throwing themselves on top of grenades to save their buddies. Perhaps the answer is found in Genesis 1:26 “Then God said, “Let us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness,…”” God is very loving and selfless. Maybe every good thing we do is simply a reflection of being made in His image. Makes sense to me.
It could be argued that God wasn’t giving up much by having Jesus die for our sins. After all, He knew He was going to resurrect Jesus a short time later. No big deal. My thought on that is that the more you love someone, the more painful it is when something bad happens to them. God’s love for His son was bottomless, so therefore His pain over the cross was beyond measure. It cost God a lot to redeem us.
As America drifts from its Christian heritage, there will be an increase in impurity in the areas below. (Interestingly, this can also apply to the whole earth as we near the End Times.)
1. Impurity of mind- Our thought life will be increasingly tempted to dwell on impure thoughts, many of which will come from what we view on movies, TV, social media, internet, etc.
2. Impurity of body- Our bodies will be tempted to impure actions, especially unhealthy attractions and addictions, especially to sex. Throughout history, false religions have promoted sex as part of their rituals.
3. Impurity of spirit- Our spirit will be more and more impacted by the lack of fear of God in the land, and by false belief systems, all of which tempt us to put other gods before the true God.
Perhaps most concerning, all the above will be magnified by an increase in demonic involvement. As Christianity’s influence weakens, demonic influence increases. We must have spiritual discernment to detect these demonic forces. Once detected, you’ll be surprised how powerfully they can influence you. The key is realizing when something other than God has an undue ability to influence your thoughts and actions. Be aware, for Satan goes about as a roaring lion looking for someone to devour, as Peter describes it.
I've noticed all of us are in favor of "correcting a wrong" until it shows up on our actual doorstep.
I see the phrase "Rest in Peace" or "RIP" used as though death is a final refuge from the troubles of life. The world would like to think that. But if you die without Jesus, your existence after physical death is far from peaceful. And it isn't restful. We don't know all the details, but the Bible paints a pretty grim picture. Death is not something to be approached lightly.
Never feel worthless or insignificant. Jesus died for you. That makes you highly prized by Him. That's the difference between a Christian and a non-Christian. A Christian knows Jesus died for them. So they have a reason to feel good about themselves. A non-Christian has to search for reasons, and the world is a harsh mistress.
When better is the enemy: there are many, many articles and suggestions on how to make your life better. Facebook is full of them. How to be a better spouse. A better parent. Less anxious or depressed. Happier.The list is endless. But unless it is pointing you to Jesus as the real answer, then it is actually pointing you away from Him. It's deceptive because it looks so good on the surface. That's when the better is your enemy.
One mark of a Christian should be to forgive those who have wronged us and to ask forgiveness from those whom we have wronged. Quick to forgive, quick to ask forgiveness. It's a lesson I have to relearn every time, by word or deed, I hurt someone or they hurt me.
“Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize.”
I believe God is much more interested in how we finish the race than He is with where we started from, or how many detours we took. By the end of one’s life, God and Jesus should pretty much be all that matters to us, and we should be totally consumed by what matters to Him rather than what we’re interested in. Is that the direction you’re headed in?
“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.”
I'm not impressed with star athletes or entertainers, or science or business whizzes. I applaud the dedication it took to develop their God-given talent. No, the only thing that impresses me is how well someone knows God. I said knows God, not knows about God. There are those with degrees in theology who don't know Him. I can tell in a five minute conversation how well someone knows Him. And confidence ties in with this. I can be in a roomful of CEOs and have more confidence in myself than them all, because my identity is in Christ, and Christ alone.
"But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, " (Galatians 4:4)
This verse tells us that at God's appointed time, His complete plan of redemption was finally revealed through Jesus. Civilizations prior to the Jews had pieces of the puzzle, such as the knowledge of a Great Flood and the appearing of a Redeemer-type figure, but had no idea how their piece fit into the big picture. It wasn't until the "fulness of time" that God showed through the Bible how all the pieces fit into His grand scheme, which He had kept a mystery until then.
We all too often have such a wrong image of God. With God, there are no bad people. There are only redeemable people. Likewise, there are no bad situations, only redeemable situations. God has a way to redeem the worst people and the worst situations. But you have to trust Him. The Bible says “God so loved the world…” That’s everyone. God doesn’t hate you or is looking for ways to punish you. He loves you. And He is in the redemption business. Keep your eyes on Him and see Him for who He really is.
" Join me in suffering, like a good soldier of Christ Jesus. A soldier refrains from entangling himself in civilian affairs, in order to please the one who enlisted him."
Much has already been written about our being likened to soldiers in the army of God. So I'll just mention a couple of points that occurred to me, though I feel they are especially important in this time we are in. First, one must get in the battle. We all are to be on the front line. That will be different for each depending on our giftings and callings, but it will be strenuous and consuming for all. There will be persecution and ridicule at times. Second, our motive is a passion to serve Jesus, our commander-in-chief. We don't want any entanglements with the world to cause our commander to not be able to use us in the fight. Nothing the world has to offer is worth that.
"Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” And I said, “Here am I. Send me!”"
Christianity is an ongoing interaction with God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit. Live it that way.
Prayer keeps us pointed to God. Like a compass, prayer energizes our spirit and aligns us with the spiritual force flowing from God, to use an analogy. And when we are pointed to God, we are in a position to hear from Him.
You can overcome even those sins that have the strongest hold over you when you know God well enough to know He is able to free you, and you want God enough to let Him do it..
"As the deer longs for streams of water, so I long for you, O God."
Jesus says: “If you love Me, keep My commandments … He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me … If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him.” John 14:15-24.
What does it mean to love God and Jesus? How do we show that love? We could surmise things like helping the homeless, etc., but these verses in John 14 equate love with obedience, which always seemed a little strange to me. But it's easier to help the homeless than obey God's commands when you think about it. We're commanded to love our enemies and come out from the world and be pure. When we seriously fight against the sin in our life in order to obey God, God sees that as an expression of our love for Him.
You know you're on the right track when: your worry session is suddenly invaded by an amazing and inexplicable feeling of the presence of God as you mix your worry with truths about God that you have gained from diligently seeking Him. And not only a sense of His presence, but a sense that He is in control and you don't have to worry.
I get insights into the Bible that aren't explicitly stated. Being created with free will is not explicitly stated but is implicitly implied all over the Bible. I don't believe I'm special. I believe any Christian can get insights from the Holy Spirit.
"Therefore every teacher of the law who has become a disciple in the kingdom of heaven is like the owner of a house who brings out of his storeroom new treasures as well as old." Matthew 13:52
This small parable is somewhat obscure in meaning and I believe other interpretations are also valid, but I also believe every believer is the New Testament equivalent of an Old Testament teacher of the law. Every believer has access not only to all the knowledge of the Kingdom up until now, but also new knowledge from the Holy Spirit that's available to all believers.
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