·How long is eternity?The citizens of Bullhead City, Arizona learned that eternity might last just a few months.When the city took over maintenance of Arizona Veterans Memorial Park last July, they had not considered the cost of keeping the perpetual flame lighted in the new Medal of Honor section of the park.The flame was extinguished when the monthly bill of $961.17 arrived.“It was unexpected,” said the city fathers.“We will work it out.”
·Someone who suffers with migraine headaches may justifiably say, “The pain seems to last an eternity!”
·When my first grader lost a battle to poison ivy, he said through his sobs while soaking in a bath tub of calamine lotion, “Daddy, will the itching last forever?”
These God-words (like eternity) which have meanings that reach beyond our mortality make us stretch beyond the limits of language to describe their meaning.How can we measure something as breath-taking as eternity?We can’t.The moment the descriptive words escape our lips they lose something because we speak to others through a glass that is tempered by our own experiences.And none of us have ever experienced it.
Forever?Unending?Limitless?Infinitesimal?All good words and they mean something to us, but none are totally adequate.That’s the way it is with terms which we have learned to understand by faith rather than by our understanding.
Jesus explained eternity by linking it with things that are perishable:
“For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
John 3:16 (NIV)
If you are waiting to understand the meaning of eternity with your mind before you accept Jesus as Lord, I urge you to trust in Him by faith, not by your own intellect.Eternity is too long to be wrong about this single most important decision in your life.
GospeLines Prayer:Father, someone who is reading this message today needs to experience the eternal love of Jesus Christ.Will you please give them the faith they need to say “Yes!” to you?Amen and amen.
Flip Wilson is on my list of Top 10 Funniest Comedians.Although I am not a fan of cross-dressing, Geraldine came up with a few memorable lines.For example, perfectly choreographed into the skit, she would blurt out at the most appropriate times, “The devil made me do it!”She blamed the devil for everything from getting a speeding ticket to signing her husband’s name to a check to buy a new dress.
What Geraldine made us laugh about no longer seems as funny to the Christian who is really struggling with sin, and that’s just about every one of us.We fight it every day of our lives.The Apostle Paul likened the battle as a struggle between the old self and the new self, good and evil.It’s a battle that’s as old as the Garden of Eden.
“You were taught to put off your old self…to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self…”Ephesians 4:22-24.
Why do we continue to struggle with sin after becoming a Christian?Because the old self never completely disappears; the battle is never-ending.And Satan really loves to mess with our minds because of this truth.He says to us, “It’s not so bad; everybody does it; no one needs to know; just this once (that’s a good one).”
Beloved, the longer we remain captive to any kind of sin, the more calloused we become toward it, until that evil thing will have its way with us.Giving in to the desire is easy; resisting it takes effort and prayer.The more we give in to those things which hurt the mission of God, the more we give in to sin, the more indifferent we become toward the will of God for our lives.Until one day we may awaken and find that sin doesn’t bother us like it once did, and that we have lost our tears.Where sin once left us feeling sorrowful after we did it, we give it no further thought than when we decided to do it in the first place.
There is a better way than this for us:“Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above…”Colossians 3:1.
GospeLines Prayer:Father, if carrying the old self around is a life sentence, I beg that you will render it impotent by my tears for having yielded to its sinful nature.Restore my new-birth passion to be like You in true righteousness and holiness.Amen and amen.
Belgaum (Karnataka) INDIA:Pastor Iswar Albannavar conducts a weekly prayer meeting every Friday in his home, mainly for recovering alcoholics.On January 9th, at 6:30 p.m., police entered his house alleging FORCEFUL CONVERSION.The pastor and one believer were arrested and taken to the police station where they remain at this time.
Davangere (Karnataka) INDIA:On January 1st Hindu extremists burned a house church in Malai Bennur, Davangere district, Karnataka in the early hours of the morning; they further threatened Pastor Gangadhar that they will burn his family alive if the matter is taken to higher authorities.
These kinds of incidents are not isolated to just one country, but can be confirmed by Christians in many nations throughout the world.In some places (where our GospeLines family resides), it is unlawful to receive or transmit the gospel.At great risk, Christians continue to worship in secret and communicate with us faithfully.For those who are living in religious freedom, the concept of endangering our lives simply by practicing our faith is inconceivable.
We should not be surprised!Jesus told his disciples that persecution was imminent; “the Son of Man must suffer many things... He must be killed and after three days rise again.”Simon Peter didn’t take that announcement very well so he took Jesus aside and scolded Him.Jesus told Peter, “Get behind me, Satan!”(Mark 8:32-33)
Further, Jesus warned that persecution would take many forms:
(1)People will insult you and say evil things against you.
(2)We will be accused of being deranged and out of touch with society. (John 8:48)
(3)The radical Christians will be forcibly separated from society itself, solely because of their loyalty to Christ.
(4)Some will even be arrested and executed. (Matt. 23:34)
Beloved, it may not happen within the next few years, maybe not for a decade, but the signs point to the need for every Christian in the world to prepare for persecution.While the prophetic words of Jesus were initially fulfilled during the first century, those same words still have special meaning for the free world today, especially in the United States of America where we have silently witnessed the erosion of religious liberties for a quarter century.
Tragically, our biased pluralistic effort to appease all religions has thwarted the Christian mission in our nation.Some people are fearful of losing their jobs if they are too openly Christian; others are now embarrassed to practice their faith in public places.How often do you see a family in a restaurant pause to pray before their meal anymore?
Jesus warned about the seed which fell among the rocks in the parable of the sower: “Since they have no root, they last only a short time.When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away.” (Mark 4:17)God help us to find courage to stand and be counted when the time comes for our faith to be measured by the sword.
GospeLines Prayer:Father, You didn’t say “if” persecution comes, but you said “when” it comes.O my Lord, I am not a brave man who will run to the front in battle, and I don’t know what I will do when the time comes for me to stand and be counted for You.In the Name of Jesus, I pray that you will help me to prepare for persecution.Amen and amen.
No one in their right mind would chose bondage over freedom.Right?Before you answer, consider the cartoon below…
Unfortunately, some people see marriage as bondage rather that the freedom to love and be loved in a God ordained relationship.
Freedom (or bondage) exists in two forms: political and spiritual.
Most of us would describe political freedom as democracy: a system of government by which political sovereignty (free will) is retained by the people and exercised directly by citizens.Without sovereignty, there is no freedom – only bondage
What about spiritual freedom?Is there such a thing as “spiritual” sovereignty?Spiritual sovereignty (spiritual free will) might be defined as the process by which people make decisions about their spirituality.Again, without sovereignty, there is no freedom – only bondage
So, what do “Political” Sovereignty and “Spiritual” Sovereignty have in common?
Alexander Tyler, a Scottish history professor who lived in the 1700s, is reported to have said: “A democracy is always temporary in nature: it simply cannot exist as a permanent form of government.” The professor went on to say: “The average age of the world’s greatest civilizations from the beginning of history, has been about 200 years.During those 200 years, these nations always progressed through the following sequence:
From bondage to spiritual faith;
From spiritual faith to great courage;
From courage to liberty;
From liberty to abundance;
From abundance to complacency;
From complacency to apathy;
From apathy to dependence;
From dependency back into bondage.”
If we compare this “transition” of nations from bondage back to bondage to individuals with spiritual sovereignty, it might look something like this:
From bondage to sin to spiritual faith;
From spiritual faith to great courage to spread the Gospel;
From courage to liberty in Christ Jesus;
From liberty to abundance from the blessings of the Lord;
From abundance to complacency; forgetting to share the blessings
From complacency to apathy; forgetting to thank God for our abundance
From apathy to dependence; believing we have a right to abundance
From dependency back into bondage to sin
Worldly bondage will never end as long as we adhere to the notion of (political) sovereignty with no accountability - when those making (political) decisions believe there are no consequences to their actions.
Spiritual bondage will never end as long as we adhere to the notion of (spiritual) sovereignty with no consequences. We may have political sovereignty as a people over the things of this world with the possibility of escaping any consequences for bad (or selfish) choices.However, the spiritual sovereignty (free will) of the individual carries with it the certainty of judgment for we will all stand before God's judgment seat (Romans 14:10 – NIV).
So, what are we to do with our spiritual sovereignty?“The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him.But I tell you that men will have to give account on the Day of Judgment for every careless word they have spoken.For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned."(Matthew 12:35-37 – NIV)
In other words, be careful what you ask for… you just might get it…
The 1960 Rome Olympics is remembered in the United States of America by the names of Wilma Rudolph and Cassius Clay.Rudolph became the first American woman athlete to win three gold medals in track and field despite running on a sprained ankle.Clay, later known as Muhammad Ali, won gold in the Light-heavyweight boxing event.
Few of us recall the name of New Zealander Barry Magee who placed third in the men’s marathon event.By his own admission he was “decidedly average” in his younger days but pursued long distance running at the encouragement of his dad.No one would have guessed that he would go on to hold many world records in track and field.
What changed him from a “nobody” to an athletic champion?
Barry said, “I believe it all started at a Bible class camp at the age of 14 when I said, ‘Yes’ to God.Following a sermon on Revelation 3, I opened the door and asked Christ into my heart.He came into my life, and I have never been the same again.”
Jesus said to us in Revelation 3:20-21, “I stand at the door and knock.If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.To him who overcomes, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne…”
Does the idea of living a victorious life appeal to you?Although you may seem to be “average” by the world’s standards you can still have the heart of a champion even if you never win a gold medal in anything.How?It has been described as “living above your circumstances,” or “never letting the negative stuff keep you down.”But I think Barry Magee understood it better.His life changed when he said “Yes!” to God, and so will yours.
Will you open the door to Jesus and let Him into your life?This is something you must do yourself, because He will never barge in without an invitation.That tug you feel on your heart right now is the gentle hand of Jesus reaching out to you.Open the door of your life and begin walking with Him today.
GospeLines Prayer:Father, I would rather live and die as a “nobody” than to miss heaven because I was so busy trying to be a “somebody” that I didn’t open the door for You.Thank you, Lord Jesus, for the invitation to live a victorious life!Amen and amen.