Tuesday, May 31, 2011

This Is Your Nature

Psalm 19:1-3 - The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament shows His handiwork. Day unto day utters speech, and night unto night reveals knowledge. There is no speech nor language where their voice is not heard. 

At last. A hint of real spring! I filled the bird feeders, grabbed my Bible and sat outside to relish the warm breeze, hear the sound of a gentle water feature we have and listen to the birds as they eagerly munched away and proclaimed their delight in more food.

As I sat there I praised God for all of this. The colors, the textures, sounds, fragrances...even the anxious dog frantically barking somewhere nearby. 

Nature is defined in two ways: The characteristics of human life and the characteristics of those living things among us. Amazing.

We are told that all of creation glorifies God; it reveals God's creative nature. It exemplifies His vast imagination. All the colors and textures. All the variety of fragrances and sounds. All created by one powerful and sovereign God. Who can dismiss the existence of a Divine Creator? It's all too great and mysterious.

He has brought all this into existence for His own pleasure. But there's more. He brought us into existence for His own great pleasure, too. He loves us so much that He has given us His best. Can't you see it when you look out a window or walk in a park?

Speaking of which, He also gave us His best when He came down from His throne and lived on earth with us in the person of Jesus Christ. Hallelujah! He gave us His best so that we might believe in Him and receive Him into our lives.

His human creation failed Him. And He knew He had to do something about that. He is holy and cannot be in the presence of our sinful nature. We were cut off from entering into His presence. 

Yet look at what He still does for us...He still provides us His nature in nature. We don't deserve all this. Just like He has given us His son that our sins might be forgiven. We don't deserve that either.

I hear the gurgling sound of the water nearby and think of Jesus as our Living Water. He is a wellspring of life. He is our refreshing...when we know Him as our own Lord and Savior. We cannot live without water. Neither can any living thing we see outside. 

Now go a step further, life is in the blood. Without blood we cannot exist. Just as we cannot exist without blood in the natural neither can we live without blood in the spiritual. We all need the cleansing power of Jesus' blood for our eternal life. Leviticus 17:11 tells us, For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you upon the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood that makes atonement for the soul. This may be Old Testament, God speaking to Moses, but consider it as Jesus' words to you. 

Nature has much to show us...and tell us. Our lives imitate nature. God is in control of all. We have our own seasons of life. He brings life in this world, He brings life to all living things and He causes all the seasons to rise and wane. Our lives come to an end as does nature. Can you grasp all this? It's amazing.

If He cares so much about us, why shouldn't we regard Him with the love that is due Him? How can we go a day without thinking of Him, seeking Him, seeing His nature in what we view as we live each day? His nature surrounds us in what we view and as we realize the Divine power of His creativity. When you take notice of a sunset or clouds, or storms and lightening, or flowers and trees, consider them as God's qualities, His nature. It's here all for us...that we might realize Him.

Psalm 36:5-7 - Your lovingkindness, O LORD, extends to the heavens, Your faithfulness reaches to the skies. Your righteousness is like the mountains of God; Your judgments are like a great deep. O LORD, You preserve man and beast. How precious is Your lovingkindness, O God! And the children of men take refuge in the shadow of Your wings.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Sacrifice for Freedom

Galatians 5:1 - Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage.

This is Memorial Day. It is a day of remembrance to the soldiers who have sacrificed their lives for the freedom of our country. That is patriotism. Did you know that the word patriotism comes from the Latin word pater, meaning father? I find that rather interesting; everything, the way I see it anyway, points to God, the Father.  

As a news journalist said, "...soldiers who have paid the ultimate price for our freedom."

This reminds me of Someone else who did the same thing 2,000 years ago. While we may not know all the names of every fallen soldier, we can know the name above all names who is Jesus, who died that we might be free and forgiven of sin, eternal death, sickness, disease, guilt, you name it. We are redeemed by His blood, the blood of the Lamb.

Redemption means: to buy back, to get or win back; to free from what distresses or harms, to free from captivity by payment of ransom, to release from blame or debt, to clear,  to free from the consequences of sin; to change for the better, reform (Webster's). On the home front or overseas, our soldiers have fought against possible harm or captivity by an enemy that we might hang on to the freedom we hold so dear. 

But Jesus takes it one step further by doing all of these things mentioned in the definition. And it's an even greater type of freedom. It's an eternal freedom. He died as a ransom for our sins. He died for all mankind, although not everyone will be saved. How sad. They will be held captive by their own design in their own sin and addictions on earth and then the worst captivity, in hell for their eternal lives.

It seems that much of the people on this earth enjoy their freedom. Others seem to like taking it away. It's a constant battle and why there are wars. And why there are fallen soldiers.

Just as we thank those who defend our country that we might have freedom, we should be thankful to the One who has paid His ultimate price that we would have our eternal freedom...in Christ.

As we pay our respects to our soldiers, let us look to Jesus as well. He deserves even more respect for what He has done for us.

Praise God for our current freedom and praise Him again for the freedom He has so selflessly given to us through His own death.

Pray for our soldiers on the fronts today for tomorrow's freedom. Pray also to Jesus for your eternal freedom. Call on the name of the Lord, then you will be saved...and free.

Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed. (2Corinthians 3:17, John 8:36)

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Colossians 3:23

Whatever you do, work at it with all of your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men.
Colossians 3:23

I need some time off! 
Spring is here. 
 I need the time to do stuff. 
When stuff is done, 
I will return! 

But as for you, be strong and do not give up, 
for your work will be rewarded.
2 Chronicles 15:7

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Praising in the Storm

Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name...[So] whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him. (Philippians 2:9, Colossians 3:17)

I was sorry to hear about the devastation in Joplin, Missouri Sunday. The news of disasters rage and we wonder when it will ever end. Daily, word about the destruction is one of the focal points of the news.

There are some who think God may be in the midst of all this. I know there will be a day when He will cause the earth to be destroyed because of the lack of respect for the very God who created this beautiful earth and each of us. His judgment will fall on us some day.

To say this could be His way of sifting and shaking the earth might be the case, to see if people will recognize Him in the storms of life and turn to Him for their strength and safety. But we don't know for sure. But I will say two things: He is in control of all things and what is happening is not surprising Him. And, He does want to get the attention of as many people as possible for salvation's sake. As I watched a video of a group of people huddled together in a convenience store freezer as the tornado in Joplin surged on them, I was surprised and thankful for the words I heard. Listen here

If we are in Christ, have received Jesus as our Lord and Savior, we have the boldness to call upon Him to save us from any storm of life. There is power in the name of Jesus. It is He who is the Author and Finisher of our faith. In Him is life, not death. Just ask me if I would be timid in calling on the name of the Lord, the powerful name of Jesus, if something like this would happen to me.

Knowing the Lord in the midst of the Joplin disasters does not take away the pain of their losses. We are told we even when we are following Christ we will have trials. Jesus never told us it would be an easy walk with Him. But He also has said that we are to place our burdens upon Him. And when we know Him so well we also have a hope and strength unmatched by the world. Draw near to Him and He will draw near to you.

Joplin is a city in the Bible belt. Perhaps out of the rubble, out of the destruction, good will come. Joseph of the Old Testament had quite a story to tell, all the years after he was sold into slavery, persecuted, imprisoned. Here was his response to the very brothers who sold him: You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives (Genesis 50:20). How could good come out of this tornado? Collectively it seems like little. Individually, there might be some who will take a long, hard look at their life after losing all. 

When we are in relationship with Christ, our earthly life is not as important. God comes to us, woos us, when we are hit with a disaster and at the bottom of ourselves. It might be His way of turning lives around, starting anew with a life in Christ.

Perhaps...and I totally hope...testimonies of great faith in God will emerge from Joplin...providing mainstream media does not cover those stories up. Those who know Christ, are in Christ, have received Christ, will know that they know that loved ones who were lost in the storm, will be awaiting those, in heaven, who survived. There can be a comfort underlying the sorrow in that. Maybe we'll hear some of the stories unfold of God's strength at work and His faithfulness amid the wreckage.

We need to be absolutely sure we know Christ in a very special, personal way. The way things are going in this world I would not want to live so loosely connected to Him that my eternal life in heaven would be lost for the alternative eternal life in hell. 

What's the saying? To err is human, to forgive Divine? We have all come into this world as erring sinners. But we can ask the Divine God for forgiveness and choose to change the direction of our lives. If the request is heartfelt...and He will know if it is...your life can change in an instant. You can know where your hope is and Who is there to help you. Even if death comes, you can know life. Life is in Christ. We can praise Him for that.

At least one person in that freezer in Joplin knew where her help comes from. Our help comes from the Lord, maker of heaven and earth (Psalm 121:2). We need to understand the greatness of this God. He is not just some being sitting in heaven watching us. He is active in every one of our lives right now. He is sifting and shaking to see who will stand by Him in time of trouble and who will be urged to seek Him while He can still be found.

One person who viewed the video made the comment: Talk about praising Him in the storm!!!! Man!!!!! They knew who to call on!!!!!!

Your word, O Lord, is a lamp unto my feet and a light to my path. Like the sun which rises each morning so You, the Son, rise in my life each morning to bring light to my day. Your Word is the light in my life. It illuminates righteous truth and darkness cannot hide there. Your Word is life and even in death we partake of Your resurrection...and life.

Romans 10:13 - For "whoever calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved."

Monday, May 23, 2011

Strength and Wisdom for Each New Day

Daniel 10:19 - And he said, "O man greatly beloved, fear not! Peace be to you; be strong, yes, be strong!" So when he spoke to me I was strengthened, and said, "Let my lord speak, for you have strengthened me." 

Although this was a word to Daniel through an angel, the angel was sent by God. And it was through God that Daniel received his strength. A Matthew Henry Bible commentary for this scripture says this: God by his word puts life, and strength, and spirit into his people; for if he says, Be strong, power goes along with the word.

I was looking for a word from God to soothe my soul on Sunday after awakening with an unsettling feeling inside. Even praying that I would be clothed in the whole armor of God didn't chase the feeling away. In time I (maybe God?) had it boiled down to my needing His strength. As I drove to church in a bit of a funk I prayed He would speak to me in any way He desired.
He spoke and He spoke. And I was strengthened. There is nothing at all like a relational God who chooses to speak to us when we want to listen and hear. We have just finished up a study on The Power of a Whisper, Hearing God by Bill Hybels. We did a recap on all the ways God speaks to us, which can be in several different ways. So my being in that class and other events that morning...just being in church...was part of hearing Him speak through others...through the words of God they spoke...not their own words. The truth and nothing but the truth!

The strength for each new day begins with the Lord: spending time with Him, sitting at His feet, listening to Him speak, conversing with Him and petitioning Him for what His desires are for you for that day...for the wisdom and strength in the midst of things.

Wisdom is a good thing to ask for. Wisdom is our foundation to knowing how to live life. That wisdom comes when we are in relationship with Jesus Christ and the truth becomes known to us. This relationship is often seen by some as foolishness. 1Corinthians 1:18 - For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. It is His strength and His power that should be our firm foundation. His wisdom is right, true, just. Being guided by His wisdom (and strength) brings success. 

Our Pastor, Rory Grooters, talked about King David's son, Solomon. If you recall it was he who wrote over 3,000 proverbs--tips on living life--and the Book of Ecclesiastes which basically tells us there is there is nothing new under the sun (Ecclesiastes 1:9).

When asked by God what the one thing was that he wanted, Solomon requested wisdom. As a king he had to have a clear picture of all events surrounding him. He had to be able to discern the next step in all things...like a chess game, Pastor Rory explained. Wisdom would be the best thing a person could have. Because God was pleased with Solomon's request He granted him all the other good things anyone could desire. 

Where does strength fit in here? We can get caught up in the busyness of life sometimes, even to the point of missing time with the Lord. Days become confused and disjointed. Nothing seems to go right. There's an unsettling feeling within. Sometimes God's Spirit will prick our conscience to get our attention. Strength is needed to hear and react...and seek the wisdom to know what needs to change that we stop the busyness and return to the Lord.

Psalm 46:1 should be a psalm to keep in the forefront of our minds: God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. It's all about Him. He is the very foundation, as we discussed in Sunday school and which was brought up in church. He is the Word made flesh and the Word which is the Bible itself. He is the Word which gives us this wisdom. Getting caught up in busyness saps our strength and we have not sought wisdom.

So, in order to have that strength for each new day we must be in His foundational Word, to listen to His Word speak to us. We must be centered in His Word that it would give us wisdom, as well as strength. In yoga terms it often said that one is to center themselves...I don't advocate yoga. There's quite a big difference between that centering (which is about self) and being centered in God. Being in Christ is just that, being centered in God. It must be in and through God.

Exodus 15:2 - The LORD is my strength and song, and He has become my salvation; He is my God, and I will praise Him; my father's God, and I will exalt Him.  

Saturday, May 21, 2011

"They Divided My Land"

Joel 1:2 - I will also gather all nations, and bring them down to the Valley of Jehoshaphat; and I will enter into judgment with them there on account of My people, My heritage Israel, whom they have scattered among the nations; they have also divided up My land. 

It's all over the news. Talks between President Obama and Prime Minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu over the boundaries of Israel and Palestine have come to a not-so-surprising disagreement. Half of historic Jerusalem is within this plan to divide and the threat to Israel's security is at stake. What the reason is supposed to be is peace but I'm certain it's misunderstanding, ignorance of, or unbelief in, some of the things the Bible tells us. But, oh, maybe it's because some would side with others who would like to see Israel wiped off the face of the earth. I guess the Jewish people are expendable. NOT.

Israel was covenanted with Abraham so many years ago, according to Genesis 15:18, On the same day the LORD made a covenant with Abram, saying: "To your descendants I have given this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the River Euphrates..." Remember, God does not lie, He does not change, so this covenant will stand no matter what might appear to be happening. Adding to this, God tells us He will bless those who bless him (Abraham/Israel) and curse those who curse him. This stands for individuals and countries. Up until the past ten years or so the United States has been a supporter of Israel. They have been our ally. Though we see this change take place, and although many don't want to see this happen, it's still part of God's will, as difficult as this may seem.

So, the annihilation of Israel ain't gonna happen, no matter how things look or what appears to be happening. Why? Because God won't allow it. Remember, He's in control, Israel IS His people; it's His land that He promised to Abraham. Psalm 105:8 - He remembers His covenant forever, the word which He commanded, for a thousand generations...  A thousand generations? That's about 70,000 years...at least. Out of the destruction a remnant will remain.

The blessings and curses are for all who oppose Israel. Anyone who does not hold God in high esteem nor understands this would be very fine with dividing the land of Israel. Anyone who calls themselves a true Christian must understand that our roots are steeped in Judaism. We cannot say that the Church replaces Israel, nor that Christianity replaces Judaism. It's not about religion but about a relationship with Jesus. He is God. We turn our backs on the Jewish people and Israel, we turn our backs on God. We are either blessed or cursed. 

When you have received the truth (when you've received Jesus Christ) it's sometimes hard. The truth is, we have Judeo-Christian roots. Ignorance is not always bliss when it comes to our salvation and our obedience to an Almighty God. Our roots cannot be disputed. Therefore, we should respect and support the nation of Israel because they we are showing respect for God.

This land was promised to Abraham in Genesis 15:7-21. You can read about all the promises to Abraham in this chapter. The land they talked about back then might be hard to identify given what the areas were called at the time, but there are current-day descriptions that can show exactly where these boundaries originally were. Let me add that if God sets rules or boundaries, He abides by them. They are changed today because man changed them...and want them changed. He never changes...His character won't change, His mind won't change, His plan won't change...including blessings and curses.

There is yet another land. God has promised eternal life in the Promised Land to all who seek and receive Him. But that doesn't mean just because we know who Jesus is or we believe that God exists that we will get there. We don't want to miss the opportunity to live in this Promised Land.

Yes, God is going to allow a time when it appears Israel will be nearly be lost as a nation. It means we are closing in on last day events. Israel will not be completely wiped off the map as a people. It will bring about an awakening. It is God Himself who will save His people, according to Zechariah 10:6 -"I will strengthen the house of Judah and save the house of Joseph. I will restore them because I have compassion on them. They will be as though I had not rejected them, for I am the LORD their God and I will answer them." God will raise up a remnant of His people at that time.

There is more to happen. This is just the beginning, yet it's revealing the end. Part of God's end time plan is many nations coming against Israel. (Why do we want to be part of that, I ask?) It must happen, however, that His people would be saved by Jesus alone when He comes in that day to save them. There's more on this but it gets complicated. We'll see how things continue...

For I will gather all the nations to battle against Jerusalem; the city shall be taken, the houses rifled, and the women ravished. Half of the city shall go into captivity, but the remnant of the people shall not be cut off from the city. And it shall happen in that day that I will make Jerusalem a very heavy stone for all peoples; all who would heave it away will surely be cut in pieces, though all nations of the earth are gathered against it.
(Zechariah 14:2, 12:3)

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Just Know This ...

1John 4:1 - Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world.

On Sunday in Sunday school someone mentioned a billboard she saw. I've seen one somewhere myself. It's nationwide. It said "He is coming again...May 21, 2011. You can know." When I saw it I recalled the words Jesus Himself said:  "But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only." (Matthew 24:36)

I wondered who was instigating this claim but had not done any research. I only knew from Sunday's discussion that a family radio station (nationwide) supported this theory. We were talking in class Sunday about false prophets and our need to be keenly aware of what the Word tells us and to test the spirits...look for the answers in God's word. In this regard, the answer is quite easy to understand, as you can read above.

In order to know truth from the obvious world "fiction" we must know what God's Word tells us. Oh, there will always be different interpretations of some scriptures. It happens. Man is not perfect. But there are some things God tells us which cannot be disputed. One is the day or hour Jesus is to return.

I will tell you that there is a false prophet out there telling us Jesus will return May 21, 2011! This man, Harold Camping, believes there is a Bible code of some sort which he has figured out that points to this specific date. Then why does the Bible tell us only God knows...? Does this make Camping smarter than God? According to Camping God has put the information into the Bible...for man to be able to figure out...from code.

I ask the question: then what is God trying to tell us when He says no one will know the day or the hour? Here's the big thing. A VERY BIG THING. Those of us who know and believe that Jesus will return and that the signs of the times are making it appear to be sooner than later...and I am one who believes we are living in the last days...when May 21 comes and goes without incident, satan has won another battle in securing more skeptical hearts with his own lies.

It's bad enough people turn their backs on dedicated Jesus followers. But, as we are also told about the last days, followers will be persecuted for their beliefs (John 15:20). There will be a rise, I'm sure, of scoffers. But we who stand in truth and hold on to what we believe, must ...lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and ... run with endurance the race that is set before us...(Hebrews 12:1). We have those whose faith carried them through their lives despite difficulties and mocking as witnesses to the promises we will receive, even if we don't see them in our lifetime. 

So, I am a messenger of sorts to any who might happen upon this blog. I will be subject to criticism. It comes with the territory. Anything or anyone that goes against the worldview will be.

Also according to the Bible there are things that were prophesied that had to happen before Christ returns...there are still things that need to happen...we're little by little seeing some of them unfold in just what we see happening in the world. The stage is being set.

Just know this...Jesus did come to this earth to bring salvation to those who would receive Him into their lives. We must know this now because if our last day were to be today, in the next day or hour, where are we in relation to Christ? The promises in the Bible are true for all who are His followers. To prevent ourselves from falling into the lies of the enemy we must first know Jesus. He is the Author and Finisher of our faith and it is He who shows us what truth really is. There is a lot in this world that seems good but one needs to have access through Jesus Christ to the proper discernment to pick out falsehoods from reality.

No, the world will not end May 21. I do not follow the date-setting crowd. I follow a God, the Ancient of Days, who has created all things and knows all things, even the intent of all our hearts, and who knows the beginning from the end. He created the world. He, therefore, will be the One to end it. Not Harold Camping nor any other false prophet.

Psalm 100:3, 5 - Know that the LORD, He is God; it is He who has made us, and not we ourselves; we are His people and the sheep of His pasture. Be thankful to Him, and bless His name. For the LORD is good; His mercy is everlasting, and His truth endures to all generations.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Highly Exalted One

1Chronicles 29:11 - Yours, O LORD, is the greatness, the power and the glory, the victory and the majesty; for all that is in heaven and in earth is Yours; Yours is the kingdom, O LORD, and You are exalted as head over all

I was saddened in my spirit one day as I was lunching with a couple of newfound friends I had delightfully golfed with. I have no idea how we got on the subject of religion but we did. Seems to be a subject in Phoenix that is not, surprisingly, avoided. I'm all for it...

We discussed where each of us attended church in the area. Somehow Easter was brought up and one woman said she could not watch the movie the Passion of the Christ because it was just too hard to view. I attempted to explain it was to show the torment Christ went through for all our sins and how we need to understand this.

The subject did a quick turn that was totally unexpected for me when she said, "And the torment of His mother, Mary." I agreed it would have been difficult for her...for any mother...to see their son go through something as horrific as what Jesus went through.  Then she quickly said, "You know I still have my statue of Mary decorated in honor of her."

How sad I was to hear this. She had/has missed the whole point of Easter. It was not about Mary; it was all about Him. Surely she bore Him, raised Him as an earthly mother, considered Him for a time as her earthly Son, taught Him, but it was His Heavenly Father who Jesus ultimately listened to. As with other conversations we were having, they became disjointed or interrupted, yielding to unfinished discussions, which was frustrating for me. So my thoughts ended up only in this blog.

More on Jesus and Mary: I recall Jesus' words to her at the wedding in Cana when she approached Him to bring about the miracle of the wine: Dear Woman, it is not yet my time. Woman! Sounds harsh, but it really was a term used then, one spoken with the utmost tenderness and affection. He would never have spoken disrespectfully to His mother. He needed her to realize that He was no longer of an age where He was still under her authority. He listened and obeyed His Father in Heaven. Her response to the servants at the wedding was "Do whatever He tells you." An understanding, humble answer.

We're called to do that ourselves today. Whatever He tells us. We are to seek Him out for His gift of salvation, a gift only He can give us. No one else is worthy to give this gift. His work on the cross is what counts, nothing anyone else, including Mary, has done.

Yes, Mary grieved. We should grieve too...that we are all sinners in this world and that Jesus had to...and willingly chose to...die for us...even for His mother.

There was another time Mary was expecting more than she got. She and her other sons (who did not believe Jesus was the Son of God) were seeking Him out. Here is what ensued: Mark 3:31-35 - Then His brothers and His mother came, and standing outside they sent to Him, calling Him. And a multitude was sitting around Him; and they said to Him, "Look, Your mother and Your brothers  are outside seeking You." But He answered them, saying, "Who is My mother, or My brothers?" And He looked around in a circle at those who sat about Him, and said, "Here are My mother and My brothers! For whoever does the will of God is My brother and My sister and mother."

Here is Jesus pointing out that those who followed Him, were His true spiritual family. It was not all about His earthly family, as hard as that sounds. It's about what He came to earth to do. He had to come as a person who came from heaven to earth and lived and went through the pain like our everyday life's pain. He had to be a real person, yet set apart, to everyone, including His mother. He was showing everyone that He is the ONLY way, truth and life and ONLY by Him was anyone to get to the Father. Even His dear, sweet mother, Mary, needed ONLY what He could give. She, too, had to give her life to the Lord, even if He was her Son.

We are born into this world naturally, but it is our spiritual nature that is important. The only way that spiritual nature is satisfied is our turning to Jesus as our Savior. Mary cannot do that, nor can anyone else. ONLY by the name of Jesus.

Mary was an excellent example of purity in a woman, strength, sacrifice...and of letting her Son be who He needed to be. She followed Him but did not excel Him. She was the very willing vessel God used to bring about this miracle birth. She was God's earthly servant (Luke 1:38). She was her Son's earthly servant...just as we who have received Christ are to be.

Yes, she was called blessed. The Proverbs 31 woman is called blessed. I can say I'm blessed too. We both have known and know the Son. She would have felt the same pain any other mother would losing a child. She learned from Him, in time, to allow Jesus to do what she by now she saw He had to do. But she is not a saint to be worshiped over her Son. ONLY the name above all names is to be worshiped. All praise, honor and glory be to Him ONLY who sits on the Heavenly Throne at the right hand of God, His Father. 

Philippians 2:9-11 - Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. 

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Comforts vs. Eternity

2Timothy 3:12 - Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.

I'm reading more than one book...The Sovereignty of God by A. W. Pink and Radical by David Platt. After sharing about the sovereignty of God yesterday, I picked up Radical to read a bit more and surprise, Platt has one section of one chapter devoted to God's sovereignty.

Platt's view on His sovereignty adds to what I wrote about. Yes, God is sovereign, something that appears to have become archaic in today's society. Yet to God, since He never changes, that word still stands strong.

Platt shows us in the chapter Living When Dying is Gain that if Jesus suffered disappointments, rejection, persecution, all followers will also. Why? Because the Word tells us we will. Why does the Word tell us? Because... plain and simple. God's sovereignty rules out again. God wants us to know that we know Who is in control.

Platt began this chapter by talking about the American dream: Americans will postpone immediate gratification and even endure hard sacrifices if they are convinced their future will be better than their past (according to Franklin Roosevelt). Here's what Jesus says: Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. Does this parallel the American dream concept? Later he says: The reward of the American dream is safety, security, and success found in more comfort, better stuff, and greater prosperity.

I have written how when a person becomes a follower of Christ things change. We see things differently; we begin to see what is truth...and we can choose to accept it or reject it. We accept the lesser things and reject the greater because we realize that what we have on this earth is nothing compared to what we will receive in Heaven. Platt continues to tell us that when we are in Christ our lives are not spared hardships. In fact, hardships will probably become more commonplace. He says: But the reward of Christ trumps all these things and beckons us to live for an eternal safety, security, and satisfaction that far outweigh everything this world has to offer. 

We will not see those things in this present life. Our faith in God gets us these eternal rewards. Despite all the hardships we can face in this world, including possible persecution and death, He tells us not to be afraid. Because He knows what lies ahead even though we cannot imagine it. We tend to look at what's right in front of us when we need to trust what we are told: Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen (Hebrews 11:1). 

So...our hardships: If Jesus was offensive to many who did not want to hear the truth so will we be....even at this writing. It comes with the truth territory because the truth is hard to hear especially if we've been wrapped up in our comfortable lifestyles and the world's way of seeing things. Who wants to give up the good things or hear something contrary to what we believe today?

Yet Jesus tells us that the sacrifice here in this world of all the good things...and the lies that we can have all the good things...is worth the greater reward, those things that await us when we are no longer here. This is where some stumble. Like the rich young man who asked Jesus what he had to do to be saved. Jesus asked to give up all he had and follow Him to receive eternal life. The man turned away sorrowfully because he could not give up all he had worked so hard for. 

I said yesterday that our thinking is upside down...it's the opposite of what God teaches us. Life today is cushy and we have gotten so used to it that we don't want to give it up. That includes me. And it no doubt includes each one of us who have comfortable homes, food on the table every night and a car that gets us from place to place. How would we feel without those things? How would we live on just the necessities and not the wants? 

Radical tells us that Jesus called His disciples to follow Him. Jesus did not have a home or even an income apart from what was given to Him day by day. He relied on His Father...He walked, healed and preached, according to God's will. He told us in order to live we must die to and deny ourselves. It would not be walk in the park, a piece of cake, a life of luxury. Platt tells us: Just imagine the people that the disciples were going to encounter. The diseased, the dying, the despised, and the dangerous. Not exactly the most appealing group to be around.

Yes, if Jesus suffered betrayal, hatred and persecution, why shouldn't we? I can recall believing, because it was probably told to me, that because Jesus suffered all these things, we would not have to. I believed that in the last days we who are in Christ would be removed from the earth and hardships before they began. Boy, if that isn't some false teaching. 

So this is the hard part...do we believe that God is sovereign and that all this is the truth and in order to truly follow the Lord we must assume hardship will follow or do we reject Him altogether? Which do we want life or death? Which path do we take? Which set of ideas to we wrap our heads around?

If we like the safety the world gives us, then that's our answer. Although I don't believe even the world will be a safe place too much longer. Then where will people be who have not chosen the difficult, yet life-filling, way of God? 

Has my suffering really begun? Either I am not aware of it or it's in the little things that I go through from time to time...like people not wanting to befriend me because my thoughts and ideas are a bit sticky to them...uncomfortable. They might remain friends as long as the subject matter is benign, surface stuff. But it's a turnoff if I don't agree with worldview thoughts on homosexuality, abortion or even being a Christ follower.

So, what does Radical have to say about the sovereignty of God? Jesus reminded his disciples that their safety was not found in the comforts of this world but in the control of a sovereign God over this world...We have nothing to fear, because God is sovereign. All we need to do is accept this upside down thought. How? By picking up the Word of God and letting His words sink deep into our spirits. Let Him remind us daily the consequences of following our own hearts, goals and desires. It's written on nearly every page. And God's Word is truth.

All throughout the sovereign, God-breathed Word of God we see people who are brought down because of their disobedience, especially when they knew God's laws. And on the other hand we see the sick (lepers), dying (Lazarus) and sin-filled (Mary Magdalene) people rising up. Jesus sought out the wounded, not the healthy. An upside down world where ...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 (1Corinthians 1:27). He humbles the proud and lifts up the humble. His sovereignty makes no sense to many. There again is where trust and faith come in. It's what makes following Christ so difficult for some. Just remember this, God is sovereign. His will and purpose will prevail no matter what we choose to do ourselves. We will either be part of His plans or we  won't. For those who know this, the greater reward of a sovereign God will be given.

Galatians 6:7-8 - Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life.

Sovereignty of God

Revelation 19:6 - And I heard, as it were, the voice of a great multitude, as the sound of many waters and as the sound of mighty thunderings, saying, "Alleluia! For the Lord God Omnipotent reigns!"

Whether you follow my blog or have just popped in you will know that a few weeks ago I was troubled about something I couldn't put my finger on. I've been letting these thoughts sit awhile before determining if I should post. 

Since then I have overcome the intense feeling I was experiencing. Sometimes God just allows difficulties through which we are reminded of who we are in relation to Him...if we have taken the faith-defining step in receiving Him and being in Him. 

So this blog really has a few messages: He allows difficulties because He is sovereign. Whether we know Him personally or not...He is sovereign, and He does what He will...because He is sovereign. Even our salvation is based on His sovereignty. This might be a bit convoluted, so put your thinking caps on!

I know from comments made by others since my troubling time there is more of what I was feeling going on than just within me. And it will probably happen again. It's good to know I'm not the only one. After all, it's not all about me, but about all the saints of God who occasionally go through struggles, physically or spiritually. It might have been from getting caught up in the bad news of the days that seemed to never end, a bit overwhelming, as if the world was imploding. Who knows? What I do know is even what we see happening God has under control.

To those who know God's Word, we see the Bible's view of the last days creeping in: Wars, rumors of war, nation rising against nation, famine, pestilence, and earthquakes  But we are not to be frightened. We are privileged to see God so hard at work defining these days, despite the sometimes unsettling feelings. It's exciting to know that we were chosen for such a time as this. When we realize this is God's way, not the way that seems right to man, we are on the right track. Maybe He's getting us spiritually strengthened in Him for the days ahead. He knows how we each need to be strengthened.

So my distress, whether it was all about the news or something I still haven't determined...it was a reminder that two things remains the same day after day...God is sovereign and He will never leave nor forsake anyone who has laid claim to His great gift of salvation. If we have this understanding of who He is, days won't become easier for us, but His peace will remain with us. If a struggle is what I need, I'm all for it. We will see in retrospect that He was alongside after all...and our faith is built up.

We need to understand that God is sovereign. This might be a difficult thing for mankind to believe. It doesn't always seem right to man when man thinks he is able to control the forces of nature or even such a small thing as his own life. God is sovereign, nonetheless. He controls all things, including who He chooses us to become His children. This gift that He has given me and sets me apart from the world is available to all who respond, but as I have been reading in The Sovereignty of God by A.W. Pink, it is not for everyone. This is where my mind has taken a detour!

Listen to these words: It is commonly taught that God the Father desires the salvation of all mankind, God the Son died with the goal of saving the whole human race, and that God the Holy Spirit is now trying to win the world to Christ. But isn't it a matter of common observation that the great majority of our generation are dying in sin and passing into a hopeless eternity? This was written in 1918 and sounds eerily like today. 

Pink goes on: the Sovereignty of God is absolute, irresistible, and infinite. Everything is in His right to do as He desires; He lives by His own rules; He is accountable only to Himself; He does not need to explain Himself. Sounds tyrannical but that's why He's God and we are not...it's the way that does not seem right to man and why often people will ignore His offer of salvation.

God is sovereign in the exercise of His power, mercy, love, and grace. He rules the world and all that is in it. Period. We are the ones who choose to do as WE wish and not heed God. Sovereign is defined as one possessing or held to possess supreme political power or sovereignty; an acknowledged leader. From what I understand it is nearly an obsolete word. And how many truly want to believe there is One who is greater than they?

When will God be looked upon as the One who rules...that by His word the world was created and He placed the stars in the sky and He causes the sun and moon to rise and go down at His own time? This pertains to the issue of salvation, too. According to Pink, God has the sovereign right to determine who will receive. So my exhortation is: If He allows you to hear His word and respond, I would not pass up the chance to take heart and respond, lest He make a negative determination through His own will.

What I'm getting at in all this is we will have our moments of uncertainty. We need to remind ourselves that God is in control. He might be developing our strength by allowing us to go through a difficult situation...and then realizing He was alongside all the time. Each time we go through something and come out unscathed, a trust in an all-knowing God is planted deeper within us. He is developing our faith.

Some people, I believe, might hide their difficulties, tending to make others think they are stronger in the Lord. Oswald Chambers said back on May 1 when I first wrote this blog and was referring to walking by faith, not sight: Some of us always want to be illuminated saints with golden haloes and the flush of inspiration... A gilt-edged saint is no good, he is abnormal, unfit for daily life, and altogether unlike God. We are here as men and women, not as half-fledged angels, to do the work of the world, and to do it with an infinitely greater power to stand the turmoil because we have been born from above. 

We are not perfect. We will slip, we will doubt occasionally. But God's power is greater and He is in complete control. God has us in His hands and He will set us straight, uphold us, do whatever He needs to strengthen us. We just need to walk by faith. We must remember that we should not be led by our emotion, as I did, but by that faith in God alone. As Chambers continued: Then comes the surprise - "Why, He was there all the time, and I never knew it!" 

Joshua 1:5 - No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life; as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you nor forsake you.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Judge for Yourself

Judges 3:7-10 - So the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the LORD. They forgot the LORD their God, and served the Baals and Asherahs [idols]. Therefore the anger of the LORD was hot against Israel, and He sold them into the hand of Cushan-Rishathaim king of Mesopotamia; and the children of Israel served Cushan-Rishathaim eight years.

In the Book of Judges we see God is constantly being rejected by Israel. They live their lives the way they choose. His anger grows hot for them and He allows them to be delivered into the hands of neighboring nations. It says specifically that He "sells them" into their hands. When Israel can't take it anymore they cry out for mercy. The LORD hears, has pity for them and, in this part of history, appoints a judge over them. Since this judge is God-appointed they fare well when dealing with their enemies. They maintain peace for a time.

But, as usual, Israel does evil in the sight of the LORD and history repeats itself even more...in God's anger the enemy is allowed to capture them, they become oppressed, cry out to God for deliverance, are saved and a new judge is appointed. I've forgotten how many judges they had, but each judge was appointed after Israel was once again disobedient.

You'd think they would have learned. You'd think they would have enjoyed a time of peace and would have done what they knew would hold that peace. This might be the way it is for us also, as a nation and individuals. We get to a place of dire need and when it gets bad enough and we've lived apart from God long enough and realize a need for deliverance, more strength and wisdom when we've finally come to the end of ourselves. Who are we looking to for strength and mercy when this happens?

These judges of the Old Testament were a type of Jesus Christ. God appointed them to deliver and redeem. When the people lived under their judge they had peace and safety. Their enemies could not stand up to them. That's what Jesus does for us. He gives us the peace that passes all understanding and as long as we abide in Him our enemy has no strength to beat us down. We have His peace in our lives. All we need do is call on the name of the Lord and the enemy must flee. He is the One who covers us and shows us mercy.

There will always be some who attempt to whittle down our security and strength. Sometimes it's nations; sometimes individuals who know us well. They might be opposed to our lifestyle or may be jealous of what we have or even believe they can take control. If God is our strength He will protect us. But only if we are dependent upon Him. 

Imagine a life or a country guided solely by God. Imagine the peace. Do you suppose our founding fathers understood this? God gave Israel their land so if it was given to them, if they were capable of moving out of captivity from Egypt to rise up and start a new life with new goals and ideals trusting God for all their needs, thanking Him for the opportunity for this new life, doesn't it sound a bit like what happened to us when we came to this land? Or maybe as individuals we've been given an opportunity for growth in new communities. If God is involved it will be successful. If it is not of God it will collapse. 

I know this: God has promised a day will come when those who have abided in and with God will attain that everlasting peace. We can have a peace in this world now when we give our lives to Christ. But some day, Christ will return and all evil will be wiped off this earth and those who have trusted in the Lord will live with Him in absolute peace. It's all about our lives in Christ. It's all that matters in this world. Judge for yourself where your trust lies. Judge for yourself how deep your relationship is with God. Judge for yourself the deepness of your relationship. Do you opt for personal relationship with Him where He is showing you who He is or do you opt for only a religion that tells you what to believe? Just judge yourself...and for yourself. Judge not your neighbor for it is up to God to judge them.

As a nation we do not know nor do not adhere to the policies, the laws, of God. God set forth laws that people might live peaceably. But men have chosen their own laws.
Psalm 19:7-8 - The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul; the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple; the statutes of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes...

Yes, Israel obeyed then disobeyed God repeatedly. And He always pitied them when they realized their wrongs, when they once again realized God as perfect, sure, right and pure. God has a forgiving heart. But there will come a time when He will have done as much as He can and then He will say, "enough." I believe He will be thinking: I have tried repeatedly to get people to acknowledge Me as their God. I have blessed them even if they didn't deserve it. I have shown Myself to them and talked to them to get their attention. I have sent others to do My work. But there are still those who refuse to acknowledge Me. Time is short. I have been planning for thousands of years to bring this disobedience to an end. Those who have chosen to listen and to follow Me will, like one of the thieves on the cross next to My Son, be in Paradise with Him. But to those who refuse, they will be like the other thief and enter into eternal damnation. My patience is wearing thin.

God will bless for just so long. His anger is probably hot in this world now. And His pity, although it will continue for a time, will also end. I doubt things will change in this world. Jesus will to return soon to put an end to all that is happening today. It is important to keep ourselves in close relationship with Him that others might see Him through us. He WILL return. Will YOU be ready?

Matthew 24:44 - Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect

Thursday, May 5, 2011

The Truth Is....

And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. (John 8:32, John 1:17, John 8:36)

Below is a little story sent to me by a friend. I've seen it before and as I read it I noticed the simplicity in the understanding. Jesus was an uncomplicated Man. What you saw is what you got. He wasn't rich, He had no formal education, yet because He listened and obeyed the words of His Father, what He spoke either grabbed a person and caused them to want to hear more or the words offended and caused people to want to silence Him.

The words kept coming to me this past week: Jesus was an offense. And so is anyone else who wants to proclaim the truth of who He is. The truth that encompasses how we are to receive eternal life and how we are to live our lives. The truth is that He is the only Truth, Way and Life and the only Mediator between God and man. The truth that He loves us if we come to Him as little children to learn about Him. The truth that we are all sinners and that it is not by our good works but by the blood of Jesus that we are saved. The truth is that no man in this world can take His place. 

It's Jesus and no one but Him. We try to complicate the salvation issue by believing we have to work to receive God's grace and mercy. We try to complicate it by believing we we must go through an earthly man because Jesus is too holy or too busy...or something. 

Jesus is holy and He wants to share that holiness by our simply believing that He gave...and now He lives...and He continues to call people to believe in Him...not just knowing who He is but knowing Him personally...as in a relationship with someone in your life who is close to you. Relationship over religion, religion being no more than working to receive Jesus. He did all the work for us. 

We are all sinners in need of a Savior. We all deserve the punishment He received on that cross. BUT He chose to die in our place, to take the sins of the world upon Him. He did the work so we wouldn't have to. It's relationship, one-on-one with Jesus Christ. It has nothing to do with any church. You will not go to hell if you do not belong to a particular denomination. You will only go to hell if you do not confess your sins and choose to have this one-on-one relationship with Jesus Himself. 

This little story is just that, a story. But the simplicity of its meaning is marvelous! It's about the work Jesus does in each person when they reach out to Him. He brings warmth, fills your spirit, refreshes and cleanses and provides the rest for a weary soul. And best of all, He makes life worth living. Who wouldn't want all of that? Who wouldn't want to know that this Jesus can be all things to everyone? 

John 3:16 - I don't understand it. 

A little boy was selling newspapers on the corner; the people were in and out of the cold. The little boy was so cold that he wasn't trying to sell many papers.

He walked up to a policeman and said, "Mister, you wouldn't happen to know where a poor boy could find a warm place to sleep tonight would you? You see, I sleep in a box up around the corner there and down the alley and its awful cold in there for tonight. Sure would be nice to have a warm place to stay."

The policeman looked down at the little boy and said, "You go down the street to that big white house and you knock on the door. When they come out the door you just say 'John 3:16' and they will let you in."

So he did. He walked up the steps and knocked on the door, and a lady answered. He looked up and said, "John 3:16." The lady said, "Come on in, Son."

She took him in and she sat him down in a split bottom rocker in front of a great big old fireplace, and she went off. The boy sat there for a while and thought to himself: John 3:16... I don't understand it, but it sure makes a cold boy warm.

Later she came back and asked him "Are you hungry?" He said, "Well, just a little. I haven't eaten in a couple of days, and I guess I could stand a little bit of food."

The lady took him in the kitchen and sat him down to a table full of wonderful food. He ate and ate until he couldn't eat any more. Then he thought to himself: John 3:16... Boy, I sure don't understand it but it sure makes a hungry boy full.

She took him upstairs to a bathroom to a huge bathtub filled with warm water, and he sat there and soaked for a while. As he soaked, he thought to himself: John 3:16 ... I sure don't understand it, but it sure makes a dirty boy clean. You know, I've not had a bath, a real bath, in my whole life. The only bath I ever had was when I stood in front of that big old fire hydrant as they flushed it out. 

The lady came in and got him. She took him to a room, tucked him into a big old feather bed, pulled the covers up around his neck, kissed him goodnight and turned out the lights. As he lay in the darkness and looked out the window at the snow coming down on that cold night, he thought to himself: John 3:16 ... I don't understand it but it sure makes a tired boy rest.

The next morning the lady came back up and took him down again to that same big table full of food. After he ate, she took him back to that same big old split bottom rocker in front of the fireplace and picked up a big old Bible.

She sat down in front of him and looked into his young face. "Do you understand John 3:16?" she asked gently. He replied, "No, Ma'am, I don't. The first time I ever heard it was last night when the policeman told me to use it." She opened the Bible to John 3:16 and began to explain to him about Jesus. Right there, in front of that big old fireplace, he gave his heart and life to Jesus. He sat there and thought: John 3:16 … don't understand it, but it sure makes a lost boy feel safe.

You know, I have to confess I don't understand it either, how God was willing to send His Son to die for me, and how Jesus would agree to do such a thing. I don't understand the agony of the Father and every angel in heaven as they watched Jesus suffer and die. I don't understand the intense love for ME that kept Jesus on the cross till the end. I don't understand it, but it sure does make life worth living.

You know, I didn't understand this thing about Jesus either at first. We all are in the same place, wandering lost in the world, until He is pointed out to us and we listen and we receive. Then...poof...the truth is made so absolutely clear. 

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.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

It Will Always Be About Jesus

1Corinthians 1:2 - To the church of God which is at Corinth, to those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all who in every place call on the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours...

This was the Apostle Paul's greeting to followers of Christ in Corinth. He was greeting fellow Christians who had made the decision to become followers of Jesus. His ministry was to encourage and minister to the Gentiles of his time. He greeted the Ephesians (1:1) in like manner, those in Italy (Hebrews 13:24) and in Achaia (2Corinthians 1:1). This greeting was for all who had received Christ. That same greeting is used for all others today whom God calls and acknowledge that call to become a follower of Christ.  ...who have been chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through the sanctifying work of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and sprinkling by his blood: Grace and peace be yours in abundance (1 Peter 1:2).

Pope John Paul II is on the fast track to sainthood, a news commentator proclaimed, as he was beatified this past Sunday. With this beatification, if I am understanding this correctly, he has made it to heaven. There needs to be only one more miracle accounted for for his honored sainthood. Then there will be one more saint people may pray to, the commentator continued. 

I have always heard that when we come to Christ we have been called by God and we are all counted as not only His saints but kings and priests... and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler over the kings of the earth. To Him who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood, and has made us kings and priests to His God and Father, to Him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen. (Revelation 1:5-6) Yes, to HIM be the glory! Jesus did it all.

Sainthood is defined as those followers of Jesus Christ who live their lives according to His teaching. This definition is also narrowed down some by the Catholic church referring to especially holy men and women whose lives are extraordinarily virtuous and have entered heaven. 

My Bible tells me that if I have received Christ, confessed Him publicly, I am called to be a saint with all the others who have done likewise. Does it mean I'm perfect? No. Was anyone deemed to be named a saint perfect? No. Romans tells us, and again, this is for all people from Adam and Eve until the last person born: As it is written: There is no one righteous, not even one... (Romans 3:10). I believe Pope John Paul II did live an exemplary life. No doubt He loved the Lord and did his best to be obedient. There are many less in-the-limelight individuals all over the world who have done the same. Think of all the clergy and missionaries...and others dedicated to God's work. 

The Bible says by the power of the Holy Spirit that lives within me I am made holy and righteous in God's eyes because I have received Christ as my Lord and Savior. It is the blood of Christ that has washed me clean. This may appear an arrogant statement, but that's what I have come to believe.  For He chose us in Him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in His sight (Ephesians 1:4).

You see, it's all about Jesus, His work on the cross, His death causing the veil in the temple to be torn to give each of us access once again to God the Father. It's for all flawed individuals who become Christ seekers. We are made new...we are God's workmanship (Ephesians 2:10). It's all about what He has done for us and how we have become His beloved saints. He has called anyone who chooses to live their life for Christ... a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light...(1Peter 2:9)  

No matter how good a person is or was on this earth, we all are considered saints of God if they were called and chose to follow Jesus and acknowledged Him as Lord and Savior of their life and live with the knowledge buried deep in their hearts of the sacrifice He made so that we might be saved and added to the list of saints.

Pope John Paul II is considered in heaven. Assuming he was a true follower of Christ, obeyed Him and lived a lifestyle befitting a saint of God, he should have automatically gone to heaven. When saints of God die they ... are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord (2 Corinthians 5:8).

It needs to be determined if there is another miracle that Pope John Paul II accomplished before his sainthood is complete. We are merely the willing vessels God uses to perform miracles. We are all equal in God's eyes. Some may do more than others and live their lives more fully for the Lord, as any pope, priest, pastor or rabbi would. There are others in this world who have seen miracles performed through their own prayers or touch...it comes with the territory of obedience to God. God can use anyone.

There's also the point that was raised about now having another saint to pray to. The Bible is specifically clear that we are to pray to God alone. Jesus is the ONLY Mediator between God and man. Jesus is alive and it is He we are to pray to. It is He who receives our prayers (John 14:13-14John 16:23, 1John 5:14, ). It will always be about Jesus. Why do we need look to Jesus as Savior if we can go to someone else? That just does not compute in my little brain. Jesus is omnipotent, omniscient and omnipresent. No one else is. He can handle every prayer lifted up to Him. He is a God who never slumbers nor sleeps.

The Apostle Paul so often addressed those people he visited and encouraged or admonished as saints (2Corinthians 1:1, Romans 1:7, Ephesians 1:1) or saints and faithful brothers in Christ (Colossians 1:2) or saints who have been selected by God (1Corinthians 1:2). God chooses us to be His children. When we take hold of that invitation, His Word tells us we are made righteous and holy, saints of God, not through anything we have done but through faith in the work that Jesus has done for us and through the power of His Holy Spirit which is given to us upon acceptance. It is for all people.

Philippians 3:8-9 - Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith...