Tuesday, November 30, 2010

What in the World?

Luke 21:25-28  - "And there will be signs in the sun, in the moon, and in the stars; and on the earth distress of nations, with perplexity, the sea and the waves roaring; men's hearts failing them from fear and the expectation of those things which are coming on the earth, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. Now when these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near." 

These are very powerful words. Are we truly prepared for our future? Are there really going to be some who will wake up one morning and wonder what in the world happened, seemingly overnight?

As I sit here waiting for a fragile bone in my foot to heal enough that I'm able to walk without crutches and boot, I've bombarded myself with news. I'm amazed at all that has transpired in even the six weeks of recuperation. There is so much unrest in this world. How did we get here anyway? Yes, it is a sign of the times, but whose times? 

Over the past fifty years we've seen technology moving fast and it continues to do so. We've seen the ability to travel more from horses to wagons to trains to automobiles to airplanes to space travel. Think about how quickly that transpired. We've seen armament change from perhaps rocks and sticks, slingshots and other larger hurling devices to knives, pistols, machine guns and AK47s to today's probability of nuclear or biological warfare. We've seen the quick development of all forms of devices for building, surgery, you name it. We've seen the development of communication change from handwritten letters transported by horse to telegraph, telephone and email. Entertainment has come into our homes. We are a creative people to say the least.

It seems, however, that no matter what great accomplishment we've made there is always a sinister side to it. It is used not only for good but for evil. It always falls into the wrong hands. 

You either agree or disagree, understand or don't. I would have had very mixed feelings about these things a few years ago. I would have gone with the flow out of ignorance. Had someone tried to tell me we were turning into a "all about me" society, I would have said, "Well, it should be all about me. I have a right to this or that, to live my life as I see fit, to fit in with today's culture and living styles. No one is going to tell me otherwise. Everyone else is doing it, so I am too." 

There's just an unsettling feeling in my spirit these days. I recognize the face of things to come even if I can't put my finger on every aspect of them. There appears to be something sinister brewing. Rights and freedoms are being removed and replaced with non-offending ideas...and yet Christianity is slowly becoming more offensive. 

We are seeing what I've mentioned before, birth pains. The birth pains of a world so totally changing. Who could be up to this? Try as we might to place blame on any one person in the world we can't. We do, however, have an enemy of our souls whose only purpose is to do the complete opposite of a loving God. He is only out to pull down and "evilize" society, person by person. And the scariest thing is there are many who don't see it.

When we know Jesus Christ we can see through the smokescreen. Our eyes are opened. We are able to see this not as a sign of the worldly times but a sign of God's time. This may not make sense to some. People have gone through life not believing there is spiritual conflict taking place all around us. People have rejected Jesus and the prophets sent to proclaim this Messiah before He came; people will reject the same way today. Oh, this couldn't happen again, where's the proof He's returning...it's been promised for years. "Look and see your redemption is nigh."

I've listened to numerous people talking about the signs of the times and how they are coming about at alarming speed. Biblical prophets didn't know how to put into words what they saw except with what they knew back thousands of years ago. In their eyes they described:
  • How everyone on earth will see and hear Christ's return (satellite - 1Thessalonians 4:16, Revelation 1:7)
  • How we will be able to flit from here to there with great speed and our knowledge would increase (airplanes and internet - Daniel 12:4)
  • There will be a rise in the number of earthquakes (Matthew 24:7)
  • A one world government or a new world order will arise out of the dictatorship of one man (Revelation 13...a study all of it's own)
  • How Israel would become a nation once again (Amos 9:14-15 and other more detailed scriptures). This was fulfilled May 14, 1948.
 You can't argue these things. They and many more prophesies are taking place before our eyes, if we recognize what the Bible says. It is imperative we begin to take notice or we might fall into the category of men's hearts failing them from fear or as Proverbs 10:21 states: The lips of the righteous nourish many, but fools die for lack of judgment.

We will not know the day or the hour Christ will return but God has put into His Word the signs for us to recognize if we just take the time. There are other scriptures that tell us even Christians can be deceived and that there will be false prophets in the last days. So who do we believe? We listen to the voice of the Lord. We get into the Word and learn.

There's a lot of speculation that Christ will return in my generation. Only time will tell. It was prophesied that the generation who saw Israel become a nation in a day would see him return. This is shown in the parable of the fig tree (Matthew 24:32-34). The fig tree represents Israel and the new leaves its becoming a new nation. I don't know about you but I was born in the generation that saw this happen. It's exciting. I consider it an honor.

There are still things that have me stumped, like the Jewish Temple being rebuilt; that would have to happen soon! In order for the Temple to be used in the manner it would mean all the implements and clothing would have to be in place. It is my understanding that since 2008 some of this has been accomplished. It's in the works! 

Will we be ready? Will we be prepared for our future? We live in a fallen world and it's only a matter of God's time before He will have had enough one last time. He has shown us the signs. Will we heed them or will we act as though nothing could ever happen? If we have Jesus, we have hope. We will not have to fear the signs of the times. What we have here on earth is nothing in comparison to what lies ahead for those who love Christ and trust in Him. It's not about our wisdom, our strengths as nations or armies, or our possessions. What is most important is our relationship with Jesus.

Jeremiah 9:23-25 - This is what the LORD says: “Let not the wise man boast of his wisdom or the strong man boast of his strength or the rich man boast of his riches, but let him who boasts boast about this: that he understands and knows me, that I am the LORD, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight,” declares the LORD.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Bricks, Stones and God's Plans

Genesis 11:4 - And they said, "Come, let us build ourselves a city, and a tower whose top is in the heavens; let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth." 

In the Old Testament there is a story about the Tower of Babel. It is there to be an example for us, like everything related in the Bible. Just a brief explanation: There was a man named Nimrod whose name meant "the valiant" or "opposition." He was also called a hunter and hunt he did for people he could manipulate to help him build the Tower of Babel. Why? He wanted to create a city that rose to the heavens...one that was made by human hands, apart from God. He wanted to make a name for himself.

So if you know the story you realize that God objected to this and "scattered them abroad" because God said "Behold, they are one people, and they have all one language..." (verse 6). Nimrod had the power to change all the people into thinking like him. The Tower of Babel story symbolically or more likely literally represents what we need to look for today to prevent the same thing happening as it did back then. A way to look out for today's Nimrod, a tyrant, who wants to take away our individuality as persons and a people.

Last week Glenn Beck was talking about the EU parliamentary building. When he showed a picture of it I immediately thought it looked like the Tower of Babel. See for yourself online. Oh, Lord, help me put these thoughts together concisely.... He had a guest speaker with him named Rabbi Daniel Lapin who explained the Hebrew meaning of the building of this tower. How exciting it is to hear biblical accounts in greater detail to open up meanings.

Tower of Babel...EU parliamentary building? What could they possibly have in common?  Seats of a one world government, perhaps? 

Nimrod had the capability of seducing the people into building this tower. It was made of bricks. You have to understand this: bricks are manmade, each looking the same as the previous one. The tower was made by human hands. God did not have a hand in this. He would have used stones...natural, not manmade elements. So where am I going with this? Here's a clue: Exodus 20:25 - And if you make Me an altar of stone, you shall not build it of hewn stone; for if you use your tool on it, you have profaned it. 

It's about bricks, stones and God's plans. Anything that does not start with or center around God, is manmade. 

When God creates us we are individuals; we each have our own individual personalities. When you look at stones, not one is exactly like another. Not so with bricks. God tells us "you also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ." 1Peter 2:5  If He wanted us all the same He would have made us like bricks. God does not do this. So, Nimrod molded and shaped his people like these bricks so they would do just as he wanted them to. He would order their lives. He was building this tower to make a name for himself, not for God. By this act he was, in essence, profaning God. And we do the same...

This tower was the first attempt at creating what we would today know as a new world order or a one world government. It was not God's plan, but man's. I may be wrong but it's like our age old theme of making something of yourself on your own terms...a self-made man...to achieve our own goals, apart from God. Like the manmade bricks...with mortar. Rabbi Lapin suggested that the mortar today would be materialism. Mortar is the material that holds the bricks together. If the mortar in my life is not God, it's about me, my stuff, the ladder I want to climb. But I'm a stone...a living stone. 

Today's government appears to be suggesting we begin going green or doing everything for a "higher purpose," like the tower, or the greater good. Do you see this? We are headed for a one world government. There will be a one world ruler who will look like a Nimrod, who will want everyone to become a brick rather than a stone. A brick he can manipulate, one who will take away individual rights to achieve the plans, whose decision is to build his own tower...apart from God. It's starting in our country, but it will lead to a global issue.

This could very well be where we are headed if we allow one man who has decided he's as good as, if not better than, God, to take over, if we become part of a one world government, one world order, common currency because he thinks it's for the greater good. I remember a story similar to this early on in the world. There was this angel of God. His name was Lucifer. He was the heavenly worship leader, for crying out loud. He held a prominent role in God's plan. But he became arrogant enough to think he was better than God...for which reason God threw him out of heaven. This is why today he's so bound and determined to infiltrate lives of unsuspecting people through subtle means and will find just the one man he can fashion to become the antichrist. 

Aren't we seeing government wanting everyone's freedom taken away...stripped little by little...beating some down and raising others up....make everything equal...one level playing field? Soon we'll all be slaves without any freedom of speech, religion, or right to choose anything. We could well become as bricks to bring about the desires of one man.

This is why we have examples in the Bible. They're there for us to learn from. It's why it's so important we understand this Book. All throughout history God has shown us what it is like if we turn away from Him. We fail, we collapse, we are destroyed. In Him we live and move and have our being. (Acts 17:28)  It's not a bad thing having God on our side.

Beck asked if we have all our materialistic things removed from us what holds us together? My first thought was: if we do not have God in our lives we have absolutely nothing. We have no sense of freedom. Then Rabbi Lapin said this: any tyrant knows that he cannot enslave a people who believe in the Boss, as he pointed upward. And to that I say Amen! He continued to say (paraphrasing) any eternity will begin to develop a hostility toward traditional biblical faith (and our God) and any commitment there might be....secularism becomes the religion of the day.

If we are slaves to the world view we will follow the others like sheep, striving on our own. If we know the God of the Bible and follow Him, listen for His voice, understand what He wants for us, we know the truth and we have liberty. For who the Son sets free is free indeed (John 8:36)... It is our relationship with Jesus, not our just knowing who He is, that will set us free from the things of the world (materialism). It is He who tells us to treasure the things of heaven that cannot be destroyed or taken away rather the things of the world which do not last (Matthew 6:20). 

The Tower story had a happy ending. God became angry with these people and instead of destroying them He dispersed them. They were no longer one people but many individuals, again stones not bricks. This dispersing brought us our individuality in the world...the different cultures. But since history tends to repeat itself, we may be headed back into the same scenario: toward globalism and losing our individuality. Will we need another act of God? Why did God write these things if they weren't so? Why did He provide examples for us all throughout the Bible from monumental things down to small personal things? Those who see and understand have a better chance of survival. 

Do you want to be a living stone of God or a manmade brick? It's your choice. This Book is our handbook for life. But we have no life if we wander among the sheep of the world...keeping up with the Jones' and determining to be our best in ourselves. What's wrong with being the best God has chosen for us? 

It is our responsibility to first get into that relationship with God...that personal relationship...between you and Him. You don't get to Him through living in the same house with one who has a relationship, nor do you get one just by corporately attending a church. It is you who must make a decision for yourself. When we come into relationship with Christ and have that common bond with others of like mind it is the wisdom and strength of God that causes our strength rather than the single, worldly individuals wanting to do on their own. 

God is our Master, not man. Without Him we are nothing. When we begin to realize this we can succeed. If all the world succumbs to the idea of one man (not one God), one government, one way of living for all mankind, we are lost. But...even if that happens, and it looks pretty much like it could, if we have God as the center of our lives, we have nothing to fear. Whatever the outcome, we are secure in Christ. No man, no government, no world, can take that away from us. This is an amazing promise. 

John 15:5 - "I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing."

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Thanksgiving and Praise

King David knew how to praise the LORD. He sought God in all things and couldn't contain his worship. I would love to have been a fly on the wall in David's room where he worshipped God. I can imagine him dancing and singing with a tambourine in hand. He knew the God of the Heavens. He worshipped Him with reckless abandon. He made a joyful noise. He gave thanks because he knew of God's great power and His love and forgiveness. Not only was he able to do this, he had the gift of writing and he shared his feelings in the Psalms. 

We are called to be thankful and worship our God. There is so much to be thankful for. I can get wrapped up in some praise and worship music. It brings joy to my soul and lifts my spirit, especially when I'm having a bad day. We are called to think on things that are good and true and just. What better way than on the Word of God followed by lively praise and worship music.

We are approaching Thanksgiving, a day to first thank God for all He has done for us...then celebrate with a feast with family or friends...in that order. Worshiping and feasting were two very popular things in the Bible and there's a lot to be thankful for. Let David's words below penetrate your heart, even if you can't imagine the music. Then listen to the song below for a boost. 

What the LORD has accomplished and what He did for the people thousands of years ago, He has done and can still do for us. He can pull us up out of any situation and plant our feet firmly on His rock of salvation. We can become part of the heritage of these ancestors if we only choose to acknowledge Him and then worship Him like David did. Our God never changes. These words are timeless and priceless. 

Okay...David, let us know how you really felt!

Psalm 136

Oh, give thanks to the LORD, for He is good! 
           For His mercy endures forever. 
        2Oh, give thanks to the God of gods! 
           For His mercy endures forever. 
        3Oh, give thanks to the Lord of lords! 
           For His mercy endures forever: 
        4To Him who alone does great wonders, 
           For His mercy endures forever; 
        5To Him who by wisdom made the heavens, 
           For His mercy endures forever; 
        6To Him who laid out the earth above the waters, 
           For His mercy endures forever; 
        7To Him who made great lights, 
           For His mercy endures forever-- 
        8The sun to rule by day, 
           For His mercy endures forever; 
        9The moon and stars to rule by night, 
           For His mercy endures forever. 
        10To Him who struck Egypt in their firstborn, 
           For His mercy endures forever; 
        11And brought out Israel from among them, 
           For His mercy endures forever; 
        12With a strong hand, and with an outstretched arm, 
           For His mercy endures forever; 
        13To Him who divided the Red Sea in two, 
           For His mercy endures forever; 
        14And made Israel pass through the midst of it, 
           For His mercy endures forever; 
        15But overthrew Pharaoh and his army in the Red Sea, 
           For His mercy endures forever; 
        16To Him who led His people through the wilderness, 
           For His mercy endures forever; 
        17To Him who struck down great kings, 
           For His mercy endures forever; 
        18And slew famous kings, 
           For His mercy endures forever-- 
        19Sihon king of the Amorites, 
           For His mercy endures forever; 
        20And Og king of Bashan, 
           For His mercy endures forever-- 
        21And gave their land as a heritage, 
           For His mercy endures forever; 
        22A heritage to Israel His servant, 
           For His mercy endures forever. 
        23Who remembered us in our lowly state, 
           For His mercy endures forever; 
        24And rescued us from our enemies, 
           For His mercy endures forever; 
        25Who gives food to all flesh, 
           For His mercy endures forever. 
        26Oh, give thanks to the God of heaven! 
           For His mercy endures forever.

Psalm 150

 1Praise the LORD.
Praise God in his sanctuary; 
praise him in his mighty heavens. 
2Praise him for his acts of power; 
praise him for his surpassing greatness. 
3Praise him with the sounding of the trumpet, 
praise him with the harp and lyre, 
4praise him with tambourine and dancing, 
praise him with the strings and flute, 
5praise him with the clash of cymbals, 
praise him with resounding cymbals. 
6Let everything that has breath praise the LORD . 
Praise the LORD . 

Monday, November 22, 2010

Thanks be to God

Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift! [And] thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. - 2Corinthians 9:15, 1Corinthians 15:57

Thanksgiving probably is more thought of as Turkey Day...food and football. That's what Glenn Beck proclaimed. When he asked what most people think it is, that was my immediate response, probably even out loud!

He took the word thanksgiving and broke it down into thanks and giving. Is that what we do? give thanks? And what are we thankful for and to whom do we owe these thanks?

I'm going to suggest you think about that for a few minutes.

Okay...we should be thankful for every day we have as long as we have it. That's a good place to start. How about being thankful for family and friends...even those who give us grief? Our health, even if we aren't the perfect picture of youth and vitality. We're still useful in some ways! Our homes, jobs, freedom, church, pets... Let's be particularly thankful for what freedoms we have while we can...

But there's one more "thing" to be thankful for. The most important thing. A God who brought everything we have into being. How often do we thank Him? Isn't that who the Pilgrims thanked when they settled here? How often do we thank Him for His Son Jesus for whom we owe the greatest thanks for the gift of salvation, that indescribable gift? A gift that keeps on giving, even after death. How often do we think that our families would not exist without His hand in the process? It is by His hand children are born. It is by His hand our food is available. And by His hand we are blessed.

There will be many this year who might not be able to rejoice as much because times are tougher for them. Will we reach out our hands a help in even the smallest of ways to help? If the days ahead grow slimmer for all of us, will we have the strength and perseverance to continue to thank God? We could start now...

I have a friend who thanks God every day for the little she has. She's content, as we all should be, with the basics and not much more. She knows who to thank and I believe because of being as content as she is, God continues to show His grace and provision upon her.

As Israel wandered with no food in the desert, God supplied them each day. They may have, unfortunately, been bored with what they got each day but they never went hungry or thirsty. I believe they thanked mostly when things were going well and, unfortunately, they quickly forgot. And then there's the loaves and the fishes story. When it was absolutely necessary, the bread and fish miraculously never ran out and fed thousands with some left over. Who's to say that doesn't happen today for those who trust the Lord? What is the saying: The Lord works in mysterious ways. That's not quite biblical but Psalm 77 says, You are the GOD who does wonders....and Your footsteps [were] not known. Whose to say?

We have it good in this country. We are envied. Well, maybe not as much today as a year ago. I would hate to see this country which for so many years worked hard to keep freedom and prosperity alive, fizzle. Let's be thankful right now. Let's keep in mind that even if things become bleak we need to thank God for supplying our needs. We are called to be thankful at all times. 1Thessalonians 5:18 - In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. If we ask he is gracious to give to those in relationship with Him.

I am thankful first for my God, then for the salvation I have in Jesus Christ. I'm thankful for what He has allowed me to have in my life, both good and bad, because everything has shaped me. He has shown me the direction I am headed and I'm thankful for the discernment and wisdom of this powerful and awesome God. I'm thankful for family and friends. I'm thankful for the roof over my head and even creature comforts. I know what it was like to have little and somehow I managed to get through. 

Our thankfulness at any time is a benefit. If we choose not to give thanks we are heaping bitterness, unhappiness, unforgiveness upon ourselves. A friend of a long time ago used to quote the second part of this scripture but seemed to overlook the first part: A merry heart does good, like medicine, but a broken spirit dries the bones. Proverbs 17:22. 

As this Thanksgiving week approaches, let's be thankful for all the nuisances and interruptions in our lives. Let's hold our tongues to the words of those less thankful and say something from a merry heart instead.

No matter where we are in life's circumstances, we can find something to be thankful for. It's my reminder that looking only at what we see in front of us or coming down the road, especially if it doesn't look good, can bring us down. Look up instead. Look to God. Look to Jesus for your help. Thank Him even now for the things He can provide in the future.

Unto You I lift up my eyes, O You who dwell in the heavens. [I will] seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added...Psalm 123:1, Matthew 6:33

Friday, November 19, 2010

Armor of God

Ephesians 6:11, 14-17 - ...put on the full armor that you may be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God...

For several days Glenn Beck talked about and exposed the man George Soros, a supposed financier and philanthropist, which by all accounts could appear to be fine, but there's an ulterior motive. His fingers are in many pies and he's up to no good. He's an atheist yet believes he is a god. In his own arrogant words in his book The Alchemy of Finance he said: To put it bluntly, I fancied myself as some kind of god or an economic reformer... He was also quoted as saying he "had a lot of fun subverting governments and disrupting regimes." His next challenge, it appears, is to undermine our country. 

Beck tells us to "arm ourselves" with information and check the validity of his statements regarding anything he brings up on his program. Know the truth. The truth will set you free. We must understand what is happening because if we don't we won't be armed with...information...a plan...knowledge.

The Bible basically tells us the same thing. 

Beck tells us to arm ourselves. The Bible tells us as Christians, followers of Christ, children of God, heirs to the throne and disciples that we too are to arm ourselves...with the full armor of God. Why? So we will be protected against what happens in this world. What we see happening are signs...birth pains to what God has shown will come. We need to be armed for battle, spiritually and literally. We arm ourselves through knowing the truth. Battlefields can be mental as well as physical, so having and holding on to the Word of God first is always a good place to start. Knowing the truth. There's a lot more going on spiritually than we can even imagine.

It's not so difficult to arm yourself with the Word if you put your mind to it; if you truly desire the truth. It starts with knowing Jesus. In Jesus' own words: If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. (John 8:31-32) But first you need to know Jesus. Don't take my word for it either. Check out this link:

What is this armor God has written about? What is it made of? Be assured all its components are strong and positive. 

Waist girded in truth...first and foremost--truth. Why the waist...this was done by the Romans. Tying up the lower part of their garment created more mobility and gave added protection around the pelvic area. It prevented one from stumbling or falling. Spiritually this is guarding ourselves from anything (lies, deception, temptation) that would cause us to stumble or fall. 

Put on the breastplate of righteousness. This righteousness only comes from being in Christ. The Spirit of God gives it to us. If we are in Christ we have His Spirit dwelling in us. It is our righteousness, only through Christ, that allows us to carry on. The breastplate covers the upper body from neck to thighs...it protects the vital organs...especially the heart and spirit. We cannot survive attack if we are not covered in the Word of God.

Have your feet shod with the gospel of peace. Feet need protection too. Imagine being in a battle with bare feet. We are called to be ready to be the feet of God as we go about our lives. Think of Jesus as he walked mile after mile. We are to be ready to explain what the hope is of our salvation. Peace comes from our relationship with Christ and the truth of His Word. We need to know these things. We need to be able express ourselves. If our feet aren't properly fitted they will hurt...so will our witness.

Carry the shield of faith to extinguish the fiery darts of the enemy. It is by faith in God that we will know He will be our Protector against evil. With this faith we are strong in the midst of any battle. Our battle is not against flesh and blood. It appears that way to the world but as Christians we know it is our enemy the devil who wants to squash us through any means he can. This faith shield is a must.

Put on the helmet of salvation. Since our battles often occur in the mind, it is important to keep it protected...again with God's Word. The greatest Word is Jesus, who offers us His gift of salvation. When we know and accept this truth and keep it at the forefront of our minds, we are well protected. Salvation through Jesus Christ is the ultimate protection.

Wield the sword of the Spirit...the Word of God. Hebrews 4:12 - For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. The Word is our weapon against evil. To know His Word and be able to select scriptures for any occasion can divide a conversation but it also brings truth and life out of lies and darkness. It can thwart the smallest whisper of a lie the enemy may try to convince you of, whether personal or global. It is important we understand.

Be armed. Arm yourself. If you know the truth of God's Word you will not be surprised when you see things happening in this world. It's why God wants us to trust in Him. It's why He is there for us. Seek Him, His Word, His wisdom and knowledge and you will not be unprepared. This should not to be taken lightly. We need His protection, as individuals, a country, a world, like never before.

Ephesians 6:13 - Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

The One Thing

Matthew 19:16, 21 - Now behold, one came and said to Him, "Good Teacher, what good thing shall I do that I may have eternal life?" "...Follow Me."

I picked up a book sitting on the bookshelf. It's called Hiding God, The Ambition of World Religion by Warren Henderson. The first point brought up talked about what seems to be the many different religions we know of in this world and the difference between the concepts of these religions. 

(As an aside, after I had written my draft of this blog, I listened to a song that was linked in an email to me. It took my thoughts into another direction and yet the same direction! Make sense? Well......women's minds do that much to the chagrin of men! There are times when "just coming to the point" can't happen.)

One of the first quotes in Hiding God is from Oswald Chambers and you know I like this guy! He says: Christianity is not a devotion to work, or to a cause, or a doctrine, but a devotion to a person, the Lord Jesus Christ.

Well, there you have it in a nutshell. It's about a relationship not religion. Sound familiar if you read my blog? Jesus doesn't want us following the sometimes misguided doctrines of a church, or work for a cause, but to follow Him personally. No church is perfect...but Jesus is.

A question was posed once awhile back to a man named Harry Ironside, a teacher, preacher and author, as he was preaching the streets: There are hundreds of religions...and each sect thinks theirs the only right one. How can plain men like us find out what really is the truth? Ironside's response was there were only two religions: the one covers all who expect salvation by doing; the other, all who have been saved by something done...so, can you save yourself, or must you be saved by another? If you can be your own savior, you do not need my message. If you cannot, you may well listen to it.  Ooooh, I like preachers who just tell it like it is! And, oh, to have words like that flow off my tongue or fingers! 

John 19:30 - "It is finished."  So, Jesus Christ died for my sins. It's not about the good deeds I did but about what One Man freely did for me. Our deeds (outward religious acts, ceremonies, and sacrifices) are as filthy rags and not one of us is good (Isaiah 64:6). There is only One whose perfection we cannot obtain, so we need Him...we need His work done on the cross that removes our rags. Our pride is our stumbling block. No one wants to think anything but that we are basically good people. How many times have we heard this? "Oh, I do good things for people, give generously, help others, go to church, give to the church, work hard for a living, am patriotic and vote, teach these things to my children, so I believe I'm a good person. That goodness will be seen by a loving God and that will saved me." 

No, sadly, those works will not. We are to give ourselves to and delight ourselves first in Christ. He then gives us the desires of our hearts, which I believe become our good works. This is a hard word. Nothing we do without Christ is worthy. A confession of faith is first necessary. A devotion to Christ, not to ourselves. Apart from Christ we are nothing...nothing

When we confess our sins to Jesus, we are to, by faith, believe it is so. That's why Jesus said on the cross, "It is finished." His work was done. It was His work...not ours. All we need to do now is receive Him and accept that. We no longer need to return to repeat that confession if it's heartfelt in the first place. We can instantaneously ask for forgiveness when we have sinned...just ask Him then and there. No need to store up a list to confess later. 

The guilt and feeling of needing to be saved again and again is not having faith. I struggled with this idea for some time until I realized it was a once and for all thing. It should also not be a feeling of fear, a scare tactic toward salvation. If you have done this you will only receive peace, acceptance and a feeling of freedom.

How do I know these things? I've read them, not in the newspaper, self-help book or in the latest magazine or seen it in mainstream media (even fair and balanced) but in the Bible. I've experienced them and I've heard them preached, too, but it was after my acceptance that my eyes were opened. It was also then that I realized that I was loved for who I was...I was beautiful in His sight, warts and sins and all. Like Glenn Beck who daily tells us not to just believe him but check things out ourselves, we are to test the scriptures (Acts 17:11).

If our religion tells us our salvation is based on the good deeds we do, it's wrong! We can work our heinies off and never accomplish what Jesus did. We should not fear we will not be accepted if we don't do good. We can't ever be good enough. We can never do enough work. We can have confidence, however, that our heartfelt confession of Jesus Christ and devotion to Him will save us. The truth, the whole truth and nothing but this truth is: it is Jesus Christ who has done the thing...the one thing...He died for the forgiveness of our sins. Does that sound like something we can do? Does that sound like what other religions believe? God so loved the world....that He GAVE...GAVE... John 3:16 - For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.

Salvation is not works but simply accepting the free gift He has finished for us. It's not free if we have to work for it. Ephesians 2:8 - For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith--and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God...

Oh, people, such a simple matter that is so hard to comprehend. Probably because it's so simple. Why do we insist on complicating things or trying to strive for them? We can't imagine a God who loves us so much when we've been brought up in a society or world or family where it is expected that we "do" in order to be. I always felt if I was just smarter, just prettier, just thinner, achieved more, made less mistakes in everything I did, people, parents or friends would like me more; I'd be more accepted, more beautiful. Even today those thoughts linger until I remember that Jesus loves me the way I am because I have received His free gift of salvation. I am (we are) beautiful (as Mercy Me tells us in this song) in His eyes. Please watch the video! And to those whom I have criticized or have lost patience with, forgive me...you're beautiful too, especially to God.

Some day the truth will be revealed and it will be freeing. Until then, seek the truth. Search the scriptures for the truth of who Jesus is. Listen to His words. What freedom to know the simplicity of what He tells us. Grab your Bible or go online. Carefully, slowly, read the Book of John in the Gospels of the New Testament. That's all I ask. Challenge yourself. Refuse the mindset that it's too difficult to understand. Ask God to help you see. Ask that the voice of Jesus be heard. 

Psalm 37:4 - Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

One on One

Revelation 7:17, 21:4 - ...for the Lamb who is in the midst of the throne will shepherd them and lead them to living fountains of waters. 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.

Heaven is God's dwelling place. Only the righteous are allowed. Why? Because God cannot be in the presence of sin and evil. The world view of sin and evil are a bit lax compared to His. I talked briefly with a friend yesterday about heaven and hell. We both agree they exist according to the Bible and one day we will be entering one or the other.

My spirit clouded over for a short time. My eyes misted over until I composed myself. 

First let me say that our relationship with God is an important factor in determining where we will go when we die. This a one on One determination. It takes place when one person chooses the One Person as the center of their life. It's the difference between knowing who Jesus is and knowing Him personally...a one on One relationship...between an individual and Jesus Christ. My experience took place when I sat in a pew nearly 12 years ago and knew from the depths of my soul I needed Jesus. I felt His urging, perhaps spiritually heard His voice through the tugging at my heart and experienced the power of His Holy Spirit as it coursed through my body.

One on one. My heart ached as the thoughts ran through my head faster than I could speak. 

"I know it won't matter," I said, "how we feel today when we are in heaven. It will be so different when we get there. We will recognize our family and friends if they are fortunate enough to have found there way there but not in the sense we recognize them on earth.  Relationships will be different. We will be one group of spiritual beings. We will be in our glorified bodies. There will be no pain or sorrow...so we will not mourn those who are not there. What a concept to wrap our minds around."

Well, maybe most of those words were internalized rather than spoken...nonetheless they are here in my heart to ponder occasionally. To sometimes weep over or rejoice in. And sometimes to push aside when the earthly feeling of pain is more than I can bear or the idea is realized once again as one of God's mysteries. 

My thoughts continued whether the words came out or not: "It's just like how we can arrive there...a personal matter. One on one. God chooses, we accept...or not. We are given opportunities to receive throughout our lives. It is our responsibility to know the truth of God's Word if it has been shown to us, to find out for ourselves what is expected of us in this life, and set out to live it. 

"At the same time, while we are here on earth we have been given feelings. Perhaps these feelings, whether happy or sad, have been given to us to share. They're here that we might express them to others so they might take notice how we are feeling. All I know is those human emotions can become heavy or joyful.

"We can't fully understand the depth of the pain of hell, nor the gloriousness of heaven. It grieves my heart, here on earth, in a way I can't express when I think certain family or friends may not enter heaven. But it's only a human response we are given now. I know it won't matter how we feel when we are in heaven because there will be no grief when we finally arrive. I don't believe the absence or presence of people will be understood as we know it now. Feelings or emotions won't be the same because of the spiritual change that will take place. We won't feel sadness, that's a fact. I think our elation and the focus of our joy of being in heaven will be mainly cast upon our worship of Jesus...the reason we are there."

Heaven does not quite exist yet. It will be a place for all those who have received Christ after He has returned for His people. Then we will be given our new bodies and enter into heaven with our Lord. For the time being, the dead sleep. We will be raised up with Christ to enter our eternal resting place, whether heaven or hell. And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, some to shame and everlasting contempt. These shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power. (Daniel 12:2, 2Thessalonians 1:9)
We need to be serious about our standing with God. We need to realize there is a real heaven and hell. It would not be pointed out numerous times in the Bible if it were not so. We need to know what God says is truth about salvation issues and what He says about salvation, that it is through no other than Jesus Christ. He is the only Mediator between God and man. No idol, no statue, no man, no woman...one on One...you and the Lord. Let His words reach your heart and let Jesus be your Savior. 

Luke 15:10 - Likewise, I say to you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.

Friday, November 12, 2010

A Transfigured Life

2Corinthians 5:17 - If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature; old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. 

What idea have you of the salvation of your soul? The experience of salvation means that in your actual life things are really altered, you no longer look at things as you used to; your desires are new, old things have lost their power. One of the touchstones of experience is - Has God altered the thing that matters? If you still hanker after the old things, it is absurd to talk about being born from above, you are juggling with yourself. If you are born again, the Spirit of God makes the alteration manifest in your actual life and reasoning, and when the crisis comes you are the most amazed person on earth at the wonderful difference there is in you. There is no possibility of imagining that you did it. It is this complete and amazing alteration that is the evidence that you are a saved soul.

These words come from Oswald Chambers' My Utmost for His Highest devotion for November 12.

He poses a tough question. What idea have you of the salvation of your soul? What have you learned through your church? How did you learn? What did you have to go through to submit to this change in your life? Or have you?

I look back and realize I learned nothing from my church. If I had I would not have been absent from it for over 30 years. I would not have chosen to believe that I knew who God was, knew of Jesus and was slightly aware there was something called the Holy Spirit, was sprinkled as a baby and was thereby bound for heaven. I didn't doubt the Trinity existed. I just never realized to what extent. Why? Because I had not had a mind, spirit or soul altering meeting with Jesus Christ.

Everyone has an encounter somewhere in their life span. For some it's early in life, for some on the deathbed. Mine was more than halfway through life. It's what you do with it when it comes that matters. If you choose to "go for it" you will know it has happened. You truly do sense an inner change take place. You know you have been touched by the Holy Spirit, even if you know little about Him. If you've not had this experience, ask the Lord to show Himself to you. You only need to be open to listening and receiving. When you sense this change things do happen you cannot always express. 

I know God is in my thoughts throughout every day. Some days more than others. It's like I have a constant silent conversation with Him. I sense His presence. I sense His disappointment in me as well as His elation over something I've done. Can you say that?
Do you ever wonder if God is happy with you right this moment? Do you wonder where you stand before Him? I think these are questions we should be asking ourselves. Do we line up with God's Word? Do we hear Him speak and do we immediately obey if He asks us to do something? Does He even ask us anything? Why not? 

Are we the same today as we were last year or ten years ago? Has Jesus transformed us or have we transformed ourselves? Are we successful in what we do because of Him or because of what we perceive to be our intelligent choices? Or better yet, have we strived for much and not received anything? Are we seeking things for ourselves and our own pleasures? Do we work toward a pleasant life on this earth or for an eternal reward? Do we cheat to get what we want? Or do we do what is right for each person that comes to us? Are we willing to compromise for gain or are we willing to let go of something because the way to getting it just isn't right? Do we have a conscience or can we do something without feeling any ill will about how something's been handled? Oh, the questions we can ask...ask them and see if God answers.

I was at a banquet the other night. It was an annual fundraising event for the Milwaukee chapter of Teen Challenge, a faith-based drug and alcohol rehabilitation center for men and women 18 and older. One of the commentators and auctioneer was a local guy, Jonathan Green. There were testimonies from some of the Teen Challenge "students," those who had been heroine addicts, or had alcohol-related addictions which didn't stop just there. Some entered the program over time in jail...and have been transformed. They were touching, but this man spoke volumes in just a couple short sentences.

Teen Challenge, Green suggested, is unlike Alcoholics Anonymous. He admittedly had gone through AA himself and mentioned their 12 step program. One step is believing in a higher power, a God as they understood Him to be. There's the difference, he said, between AA and Teen Challenge. He finished the AA program and decided one day to celebrate his new life...with a beer...and it ended in his downward spiral again. I'm assuming that when he began devoting some of his time to the banquets and meeting with Teen Challenge personnel, he began to see the difference. He had not learned that in order to be really healed you have to give up something...and be filled with something else. That filling is the beginning of the transforming moment mentioned by Chambers.

It's not about God as you understand Him to be. It's knowing the Lord Jesus Christ personally. Only He can bring a person out of their sickness. Remember, He healed the lame, gave sight to the blind and took the sins of many away from them by the power of His Word. When you give something up...yourself...to the Lord Jesus Christ specifically...He will fill you with all you need. If you have not been filled from the Fountain of Life, with the water that causes you to never thirst again, you've not been filled. If you can't say you've experienced that, it's not happened.

You must allow yourself to be filled with something greater than you thought you were then you come back to (new) life. I saw this transformation on the bright faces of these Teen Challenge participants. They have been fed the Bread from Heaven, drank from the Living Water and have been brought out of whatever addiction they had. They have a whole new life ahead of them. They know where they came from and can see what they are now capable of doing through the power of God. They realize they cannot survive without His help. And so should we all.

We may not come from as drastic backgrounds as these people. We don't all have to be alcoholics or drug users or addicted to pornography, but we have our own weaknesses...fear, intimidation, pride, cheating, lying, stealing. We all come from some damage somewhere.  As the Book of Romans tells us we are all sinners (Romans 3:23) and we remain sinners until we allow the transforming power of Jesus Christ to take over. Sometimes it's that Name that is so difficult to speak!

Imagine these men and women, and Jonathan Green, who look back and see where they came from and what they've become. Imagine how amazed they are at how they've changed! 

I came across this testimony from our now governor-elect, Scott Walker, regarding the Teen Challenge program:

To change people who have addictions like this, you cannot just do it by walking them through a program. You ultimately have to change what is in their heart to change what other actions they do. This is a program that has shown great success.

This transformation is in the heart, not the works we do. Another word for it is being born again...by the Spirit of God. Oh, I still know I have changes to make in myself. I'm disappointed sometimes that there are things that have not changed. But I do know the exact day and nearly the exact hour that the Spirit of God revealed Himself to me. And it was nothing that I did apart from sit in a pew my first day back to church in years and allow the Spirit to work in me. It's a day I will always look back on in amazement. What a glorious day!

John 3:3 - In reply Jesus declared, "I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again."

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Grain, Stumps and Small Armies

Daniel 4:26 - And inasmuch as they gave the command to leave the stump and roots of the tree, your kingdom shall be assured to you, after you come to know that Heaven rules.

I had to check what God has to say about stumps! 

I was talking to a friend yesterday. We got into yet another discussion about the changes that have taken place in our church over the past few years and the direction we seem to be headed. I've shared before how our church has gone from 1,500 congregants to about 300. We've seen changes, felt pain, shaken our heads. We both agreed, of course, that God has control of the situation and although we live it day by day wondering where we're going, God sees the end result. All we need do is trust Him through all this and pray that His will be done. This takes patient and persistence.

What happens when a tree is cut down but the stump is allowed to remain? The roots grow stronger and little by little new shoots emerge and the tree comes back to life. We prune shrubs and cut back flowers in the fall for the same purpose...to bring about stronger roots and more abundant foliage in the spring. This tree stump picture was what was on my friend's heart as she viewed the troubles our church has gone through. Perhaps first God needed to prune and then just plain had to cut back our church to get us nearly to the point of death. We are like that stump...we've been cut down...but our roots are getting stronger. 

It's like the scripture in John 12:24 telling us that unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it cannot bear fruit. Perhaps our church had stopped bearing fruit. Like that grain of wheat, we have fallen, but we are in the next phase...regrowth that we might bear good fruit. Grain has taken root and shoots from the stump are beginning to emerge. God has some great examples of life coming out of death...even like Jesus.

Then there's also the story of Gideon's army. He had thousands of men enlisted in his army...but God...wanted to prove to the people and Gideon that it was HE who would win the battle by paring down the size and using only 300 men to defeat the enemy. Was that 300? Hmmmm, that number sounds strangely familiar! 

Then, isn't this a bit like what's happening in our country too? There finally was a change that took place, but not quite what we had been promised. However, our country may just have seen the woodsman with his axe taking down the tree. Although we are not out of the proverbial woods and there are no doubt some rough times ahead, we may be getting to the place (of humility) where we will be that stump in the ground, where the roots of our foundation will once again become strengthened and the new shoots will spring forth.

God will do that in all areas of life. Perhaps our church was going more in man's direction. It may have been God's desire to "pare us down to size" that we might realize our need for Him to regenerate us. He can use people and circumstances to bring us to a place of humility. It's been a humbling experience for those who remain in our church...as well as those whose eyes have been opened in this nation. Humbling yet revitalizing as we know in our hearts God's plans will begin to take shape. 

In our church I believe I am part of a remnant...we are the roots that are growing stronger...and from that remnant will grow a people who desire a change, desire God's intervention and His will for us. In this country, there were people who sat silent too long--perhaps forming stronger roots?--and who now are beginning to emerge and sprout.

These three examples are for us to learn from, not only in our churches, but in our lives and in our government. I'm so thankful God has laid them out before us in His Word. God will be glorified in our new growth and the direction with our country if we look to Him. What we perceived as being a bad thing, a struggle, a time of wondering and questioning, God is seeing as a necessary thing. 

In our own lives we can experience a personal "cutting down." We get to a place where we feel we have fallen. We don't know which direction to go anymore. We can't cope with the things in our lives. We're unhappy, unsatisfied, feeling as though life is out of control. Many times that's when God will intervene. He allows us to stumble and fall so that He can pick us back up so we will see His hand being outstretched that we might grab onto it and be lifted up. We are humbled by our circumstances and we finally recognize a need for One greater to get us out of our mess.

Let's begin to look at all the troubles through the eyes of God. He sends us difficulties that we might be humbled. He allows us a time of chastening that we might be reacquainted with Him so our foundation will be strengthened. He is to be that Foundation. The Foundation for our individual lives, the Church and our government. Without God nothing can survive. When will we see this being woven into the fabric (as my friend said) of our lives. Our God brings good out of bad circumstances. Let's thank Him for these wake up calls in every aspect of our lives. Let's believe that He knows the perfect directions we are to take. Heaven rules.

Jeremiah 10:23 - I know, O LORD, that a man's life is not his own; it is not for man to direct his [own] steps.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

But God ...

2Samuel 14:14 - But God does not just sweep life away; instead, He devises ways to bring us back when we have been separated from Him.

All throughout God's Word we read "but God." I'm not amazed anymore. After all, it's all about God. The God who created our world, who hung the stars in the skies, who spoke and it was. The God who gives and takes away. The God who sent His Son to this earth to be the propitiation for our sin. The God who knew from before the beginning of time that we would fail, fall and need to be saved. The God who had a plan right from the very start.

But God...so many promises...and so many admonitions. There are thousands but God's depending on which Bible version you read. This small phrase shows His power. It gives us hope in the midst of difficult circumstances and it shows us why we need to turn back to Him if we have strayed. There are many in the Bible who were faced with but God moments. They are there to show us what He wants to do in our lives. They are there for guidance. 

Let's just review a handful...and then see if you can add your name to the list in a personal but God moment. I've had a few and I know many others who've had some too. Don't forget, they can be a promise, a good thing fulfilled or an admonishment for individuals or countries. 

Genesis 8:1 - But God remembered Noah...  He remembered (not that He ever forgot) that He had told Noah He would save him and his family from the great flood. He remembers us as we go through storms of life. He leads us through the storm, protects us in the storm, delivers us from the storm. Jesus does the same today...He is the Ark that is our protection.

Genesis 50:20 - You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good.  Joseph had seen his share of jealousy and abandonment at his brothers' hands causing him to be sold into slavery, living apart from his family, wrongly accused of sexual assault, imprisonment. But God...worked all these things into His plan for Joseph...and future generations, including ours. God saved Joseph's family, reunited them with total forgiveness and prosperity. 

David had many but God moments throughout his life:
1Samuel 23:14 - And David stayed in strongholds in the wilderness, and remained in the mountains in the Wilderness of Ziph. Saul sought him every day, but God did not deliver him into his hand. King Saul of Israel was jealous of David and wanted this man who most everyone else liked out of the picture. He knew he was anointed of God to become the next king. He sought him for a long time threatening his life. But God...saved him.

David was a warrior and several of his psalms were written about his being saved from the hand of his enemies, and as a reminder of what He will do for us.
Psalm 68:21 - But God will wound the head of His enemies, the hairy scalp of the one who still goes on in his trespasses.
Psalm 73:26 - My flesh and my heart fail: but God is the strength of my heart, and my portion forever. Trust in God and He will become all you will ever need.

In yesterday's blog I mentioned God is the ultimate judge and in the end it will be His judgment upon all mankind for acts committed, both good and bad. No matter what we hold in our heart or act upon in the flesh, He is the One who reviews (again, He already knows) what we've done.
Psalm 75:7 - But God is the Judge: He puts down one, and exalts another.
This can take place in our lives today. If He sees one being prideful, He will pull him down; and He can raise one up who deserves it. This even happens with governments.

More on defending righteousness and judging evil. If we choose to take the stand that we do not need Him in our country, He's liable to remove His hand of protection to help us to see that we need Him. If our country, or any country in the world, chooses to do evil either to their own or others, He can cause them to fail, to flee, be overthrown, or removed from the picture.
Proverbs 21:12 - The righteous man wisely considers the house of the wicked: but God overthrows the wicked for their wickedness.
Isaiah 17:13 - The nations will rush like the rushing of many waters; but God will rebuke them and they will flee far away, and be chased like the chaff of the mountains before the wind, like a rolling thing before the whirlwind.

There wasn't much difference between the but God's of the Old and the New Testaments. In each case miracles happened. People were saved from floods, enemies, plagues and famines in the Old. In the New Jesus was introduced and people were healed, people fed, and hearts were turned to this Savior who, above all, through His miracles, saved people's lives permanently.

What was that I said yesterday about God knowing our hearts? If we choose to do God's work in the way of man and the world, we will be judged. If we believe we are greater than we actually are, we will be judged. If we don't heed His commands, we will be judged. If we don't humble ourselves before an Almighty God...you get the picture.
Luke 16:15 - And He said to them, "You are those who justify yourselves before men, but God knows your hearts. For what is highly esteemed among men is an abomination in the sight of God."
James 4:6 - But God shows us even more kindness. Scripture says, "God opposes arrogant people, but He is kind to humble people."

Yes, God shows us kindness. He wishes us to have fellowship and relationship with Him that He might show us what is right. He wishes us not to make the mistakes in the first place. He loves us all that much. Yet despite His love He will judge. You will hear that from me a lot! There's no gray area, there's no middle ground, there's no sitting on the fence with God. You are either for Him or against Him. You either do it your way or His way. You either follow Him or you take your own path...that's why Jesus is the Way...He has paved the way for us to have this fellowship with God, the Father.
Romans 5:8 - But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Not only has He paved the way, He does it in ways that can astound someone into believing. I love this next scripture because it's so true.
1Corinthians 1:27 - But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty...
I suspect most people who are "out there" with their Christianity are sometimes viewed by  some as foolish for their beliefs. I would be honored to be considered foolish. There are many who are intelligent individuals as far as the world goes (wise and mighty), but as far as the things of God they are lacking. Before Christ we are ignorant of the things of God; when we are in Christ, we attain enough of His knowledge and wisdom...yet He still would not consider us above anyone else, just sinners saved by grace.

There are many things we can do in this world in our own power. But there are also things that only God has control over. He probably is devising a personal plan for you right now toward the one thing He controls, that being the issue of salvation. I can lead a horse to water but it may choose not to drink. I can speak the words of salvation but you may choose not to listen. However, I may also be laying the groundwork for that salvation and another might come along who build upon that, but God....

1Corinthians 3:6-7 - I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase. So then neither he who plants is anything, nor he who waters, but God who gives the increase.