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One Direction

John 14:5,6 – “Thomas saith unto him, Lord, we know not whither thou goest; and how can we know the way? Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.”

No, this isn’t a blog about a popular boy band. 

This blog is about THE MOST important person to ever walk this earth – Jesus. We just celebrated His death, burial and resurrection. Why is this something we celebrate? Because without it, we would have no hope, no promise of something better, no salvation. And you know what, this is something we should celebrate every day. This isn’t a once a year celebration. We have this joy, this hope, this promise every single day. Unfortunately, most of the time we neglect this fact and live our lives in a ho-hum kind of way. 

In the passage today, Jesus was preparing His disciples for His upcoming death. And they just didn’t get it. They couldn’t wrap their brains around what He was telling them.  He was trying to encourage them that  He was going to be away from them but that they needed to remember that other people may come trying to tell them something different.  But they needed to remember that He is the only way to salvation. You can’t work for it. You can’t be nice enough. There is only one way – believing on Him as the One who died for all our sin and who rose again the third day, conquering death and hell. 

You only need to go in one direction. There are not multiple paths. There is not an alternative path. There is no side stepping. No nothing. One direction. One path. One Savior. One way to get to the Father. One way to claim salvation. 

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The Armor and the Helmet

“Ephesians 6:17a – “And take the helmet of salvation”

What is the first thing that comes to mind when you think about a helmet? Football? Baseball? Bicycling? A bad hair do? Mine probably goes to football. Just think about a football helmet for a minute. What all is on it? How is it shaped? What does it protect?

No matter what helmet you look at, whether it be for sports or the military or whatever it is for, the purpose is to protect the brain. Our brain is the hub for everything that goes on in the body. It is as equally important as the heart. Without the brain, our body would not know how to function. It tells everything what to do. And sometimes that brain stops working. And then we die. Just as the body cannot survive without the heart pumping life-giving blood throughout our body, our body cannot survive without the brain telling it what to do and when to do it.

So what was God trying to get us to understand here? Paul was using items that people would readily understand in his day. And this explanation reaches through the ages because people today still understand and appreciate armor and all it’s parts. God was explaining through Paul that we must protect the thing that keeps us going – our head, our brain. And how are we to do this?

Put on the helmet of salvation. Why the “helmet of salvation”? Why not something else?

What does salvation do for us?

Salvation is our key. It is the free gift that, when accepted, provides us with unlimited access to the throne room where we can spend time with our Savior.

Salvation is our protection. It not only protects us from the fires of hell, but it has the capability to protect us on a daily basis by guarding our minds.

Remember that I said that your brain and your heart work together to keep your body alive? Your spiritual heart and your spiritual mind also work together to keep your spiritual self alive. See, God speaks to your heart to touch your life in amazing ways. And your heart, in turn, speaks to your mind as to what God would have you to do. Sometimes your mind listens and sometimes it does not. That is where sin comes in. Sin in your life makes the line between your heart and your mind difficult to cross. That is why we need to get it out as soon as we detect it.

So you see, princess, the helmet of salvation is necessary to keep the sin out of our life so that we have a clear line of communication for our heart to speak to our mind. We have to protect our mind with salvation, the helmet of salvation.

My challenge for you today, princess, is this: use your helmet. Allow God to remind you of your salvation. Remember it’s purpose in your life. Allow God to show you where the break in communication may be. And clear it up. Don’t let it pile up. If God is not controlling your mind, then the devil is. And ain’t nobody got time for that!

Got to be true

Habakkuk 2:4 – “See, the enemy is puffed up; his desires are not upright – but the righteous person will live by his faithfulness” (NIV)

We had a little old school Steven Curtis Chapman in the car yesterday. I love that my kids enjoy listening to “old” music.

Anyway, the song was “It’s got to be true”. Remember that one? The one with a spotlight on TobyMac? This was back when Toby was doing the DC Talk thing. It always cracks me up.

The chorus to the song is this:
It’s got to be true, I gotta be living what I say I believe
It’s got to be true, even when nobody but Jesus is watching me
It’s got to be true, every single minute of every day
If anybody’s ever gonna look at me and say, hey, it’s got to be true.

Unfortunately, there are actors in the world. And some people act for so long that they forget who they really are. They don’t know any more. It is why there will be church members in hell. They have played church for so long that they have forgotten why they are even there.

How about you? Are you being true to Jesus or are you just acting the part? Tough question, right? We don’t want to think that we are being insincere in what we are doing. But remember the verses in Matthew 7:21-23? Jesus reminds the people that just because you are doing all these wonderful things in His name, that doesn’t get you anything in eternity. What does count is when those things are done with Christ in your heart. You have got to be true. True to the fact that you have chosen Jesus as your Savior. That is the only way to Heaven. You won’t get there on good works, sweet words or spending lots of money. Salvation through Jesus Christ is the only way.

So today, princess, are you living true? Or are you living “puffed up”? Are you artificially inflated with your own “good deeds”? Or are you living flat and true? You gotta be plumb empty (to borrow a phrase from my grandma) before Jesus can fill you up. Be true. Every minute of every day.

Just a friendly reminder…

John 3:16-18 – “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.”

Do you believe Newton’s third law of physics: For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction? If you have ever spent a day in a science lab, you know this to be true. Science labs are all about doing something to find out what the reaction will be. Actually, that is true for a toddler, young person and teenager. Try this, see what happens. Some adults spend their lives in this manner as well. All that being said, looks like this law is true.

That being the case, guess what? It says to me that there are consequences. “Oh no! Not consequences! We don’t need consequences! Those are for someone else. It is never my fault. That equal and opposite reaction stuff is not for me. I won’t believe it.” If you don’t believe something, does that make it not true? Nope. Sorry honey, doesn’t work that way. You refuse to believe it is cold outside in Michigan right now and go outside in your bathing suit, trust me, you will run back in for a parka!

Just because it is inconvenient for you and you really don’t want to believe it, doesn’t make it not true.

In these verses, Jesus is laying out the truth for Nicodemus. God loves the world. He loves us enough to give us a choice to love Him. He doesn’t want robot zombies to worship, love and serve Him. He wants people who choose to love Him, worship Him and serve Him. But in that choice is consequences. Consequences for choosing Him and consequences for rejecting Him. Equal and opposite reaction. And if you choose not to believe this truth, it doesn’t make it not true. The Bible is Truth whether you choose to believe it right now or not. One day, you will believe. You will believe that moment before Jesus says to you “depart from me.” And off you will be to hell. Hell is a real place. Real people go there. Real people will spend eternity there because they rejected Jesus when they had the opportunity to believe. Sad, but true.

So, little miss sunshine here, to remind you that heaven is a prepared place for prepared people. And hell is a prepared place for unprepared people. Be prepared. Everyone has a choice. What is yours – smoking or nonsmoking?

Time to get real!

Matthew 7:21-24 – “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you; depart from me, ye that work iniquity.”

Time to get real here. There is coming a day when we will stand before Jesus. If we choose to accept Him as our Savior here on earth, then we will have an eternity with Him.

BUT – if we have played church, if we have acted the part of a Christian, if we have done good deeds in His name – all without truly accepting Jesus as our Savior, He will say to us “depart from me, I never knew you.”

Wow. Think about that for a minute. Eternity demands that you consider this truth. Are you being honest? Can you truly identify that specific time in your life when you choose Jesus as your Savior? Truly? Or are you just acting the part because that is what every one expects? You talk the talk and you walk the walk but have you truly chosen Jesus as your One and only Savior? Is He your tether to life? Do you believe that He is God?

I only ask this today because it is what our pastor challenged us with yesterday. There is no shame in admitting that you have been playing church. What would be even more shameful is standing before Jesus and admitting it when it is too late. Jesus is ready to accept you just as you are. Don’t worry about what other people will think. You don’t have to answer to them. This is between you and Jesus.

Please, sister, get this straightened out today. Tomorrow could be too late. We are not guaranteed another minute.

Smoking or nonsmoking

The Bible tells us about two very real places – Heaven and Hell.

Heaven
Revelation 21:3,4 – “And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.'”
We like to think of Heaven as a place of beauty and wonder. And it is. But more importantly, Heaven is where we will be eternally with God. The way we know things to be here will be gone. Read Revelation to get the whole (and end) of the story – Go ahead it won’t bite too hard.

Hell
Luke 16:23,24 – “In hell, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus at his side. So he called to him, ‘Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire.'”
We don’t like to think about the fact that there is a real place called Hell. Hell is reserved for those who reject the free gift of salvation. Our society wants us to keep quiet about such things. Don’t rock the boat. It might offend someone to tell them that rejecting God’s gift leads to Hell. Jesus used this parable of the rich man and Lazarus to illustrate that there are consequences for choosing to reject Jesus. And it is not fun. Punishment never is.

Let me just be blunt. I heard this saying when we were having revival at church a few weeks ago: If you are not saved, this earth is as close as you will get to Heaven. If you are saved, this earth is as close as you will ever get to Hell.
Think about that for a moment. Read it again. It’s true. Hell is far worse than we can comprehend. And Heaven is far better than we can understand.

Today, princess, you will come across someone who has a choice to make – smoking or nonsmoking, Heaven or Hell.
I believe Heaven is a prepared place for prepared people. Get prepared. And get those around you prepared. When we are taken out of this life (one way or another) that is when it is all done. No changing things then. Now is the time to make a change.
It is a harsh truth but we would do well to remember that there really is a place called Hell and people really do go there.