You can choose to go to Heaven

To me the best salespeople aren’t the ones who try to pressure me into doing what they want me to do.  To me the best salespeople are the ones who give me the facts and respect me enough to let me make up my own mind.  One of my former pastors, Rev. Dave Terhune, used to say that he’s in sales and God is in management.  My pastor presented Jesus, told how much Jesus loved them (by dying in their place, and rising from the dead to give them new life forever), and their response and the consequences of their response (surrender to Jesus and live with Him forever; decide not to surrender, or decide not to decide, and be separated from Jesus forever (Hell)).

Pastor Dave never saved a single soul using this method.

But God saved hundreds of people, using Pastor Dave, using this method.  Give people the truth.  Give them the options and consequences of those options.  And let God do the rest.  Because only He can do the rest.

Contrary to what much of what our culture believes, God loves you and everyone else.  In eternity past He thought: I want to make a Jim McNaughton.  Now God knew before He made me that I would reject Him and need to have my mind taken away from me for ten years before I would be humbled enough to accept Him.  He knew that I would hate Him when I was in that pain, for what He had done to me .  He loved me enough that he was willing to endure me and my rebellion, until at last I surrendered to Him.  Now I realize that all that indescribable pain was worth it.  On the other side of ignorance and pain is the realization that God suffered with me and for me and I was never alone.  Mental Illness was a gift packaged in pain that changed my attitude from pride to humility.  Looking back the pain was infinitely worth it.  And I would go through it again if that was the only way to know Christ.  But… I definitely would not want to go through it again if I didn’t have to go through it again.

I think it was King David who said, “Strike me, it is a kindness.” And his son King Solomon that said, “The wounds of a friend can be trusted.”  Just because I was in the worst pain I have ever experienced didn’t mean that God didn’t exist, that God was powerless to stop the pain, or that God was evil.  God exists, He gave me the pain, and He made it work together for my good.

Millions of people suffer infinitely more than I have.  I don’t know why God allows so much pain.  But, I believe that when someone hurts, He hurts.  I watched the movie, God’s Not Dead, a few hours ago and they brought up our Free Will.  God chose to give us a choice as to whether we believe, trust and obey Him.  Or, whether we do not believe, trust and obey Him.  When we believe, trust and obey God we experience peace, joy and love.  All that is going on around us may be chaos.  But, on the inside, we enjoy God’s presence.  When we choose not to believe trust and obey him we experience evil, or the absence of God.

God wants you to choose life, to choose Him because He knows He is the best thing for you.  He made you because He wanted to love you and wanted you to experience His joy in receiving and giving love.  But He respects you and your right to choose.  He will not force Himself on you.  When He made you He placed you in times and circumstances that would best influence you to search for Him and find Him and realize that He loves you.  But He also allows you to choose to ignore Him, and pretend He does not exist, and die without Him, forever.  He is not wrong for allowing this.  It is the outflow of having a Free Will.  If you say to God, “Leave me alone, leave me alone, leave me alone,” (active rejection), or decide not to decide, (passive rejection), He will do what you want.  And an eternity without God is Hell.

God is desperately pleading with you to choose Life, to choose Him.  But the only guaranteed time you have is today.  His arms are stretched out to you, His hands open wide.  But it is up to you.  Will you return His love?

Jesus loves us sinners!

1 Corinthians 10:13 (NKJV)

No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.

Whatever situation I find myself in, the preceding verse promises me victory.  The problem is that at first I didn’t want the victory… I wanted to sin.  Then when I tried to resist sin, the temptation was too great, or so I thought, and I gave in.  It wasn’t until I thought through the consequences of sin that I decided I wanted victory over it.  And I truly had to want victory over sin, more than I wanted the pleasure of sin for a season.

Then, I asked God to show me the way of escape and to give me the wisdom to take it.  This puts God in the lead and and me dependent on Him, which is the best place to be.  God says to resist the devil and he will flee from you:

James 4:7 – 10 (NKJV)

7Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.  8Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded.  9Lament and mourn and weep! Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom.  10Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up.

This is for most sin.  One of the surprises I found from reading Dr. Chuck Swindoll, was that concerning sexual sin, God did not want me to stand and fight temptation.  No, He wanted me to RUN, to flee, to get out of Dodge.  This is what Joseph did when his master’s wife tried to seduce him.  He ran.

Genesis 39:11 – 12 (NKJV) 

11But it happened about this time, when Joseph went into the house to do his work, and none of the men of the house was inside,  12that she [his master’s wife] caught him by his garment, saying, “Lie with me.” But he left his garment in her hand, and fled and ran outside.

Joseph had no choice, but for us, many times the way of escape doesn’t have to be that dramatic or at the last minute.  When traveling you can ask when you check in to the hotel to have the objectionable TV channels turned off.  Also, if you can, don’t travel alone but with a trusted friend.  Do a phone check in with your spouse or accountability partner at night.  Plan ahead and do whatever it takes to stop sin before it stops you.  Jesus said that if your hand causes you to sin, cut it off!  (Matthew 5:30).  Of course this was exaggeration, Jesus doesn’t want you to be without a hand, but what Jesus meant was to deal decisively with sin.

God loves people.  God hates sin, not people.  God hates sin because it hurts Him and it hurts people.  The penalty was death for King David when he committed adultery.  But God pardoned him.  When a woman caught in adultery was brought before Jesus to have her stoned Jesus said, “Let the one who is without sin cast the first stone”.

John 8 (NKVJ)

3Then the scribes and Pharisees brought to Him a woman caught in adultery. And when they had set her in the midst, 4they said to Him, “Teacher, this woman was caught in adultery, in the very act. 5Now Moses, in the law, commanded us that such should be stoned. But what do You say?” 6This they said, testing Him, that they might have something of which to accuse Him. But Jesus stooped down and wrote on the ground with His finger, as though He did not hear.7So when they continued asking Him, He raised Himself up and said to them, “He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first.” 8And again He stooped down and wrote on the ground. 9Then those who heard it, being convicted by their conscience, went out one by one, beginning with the oldest even to the last. And Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst. 10When Jesus had raised Himself up and saw no one but the woman, He said to her, “Woman, where are those accusers of yours? Has no one condemned you?”11She said, “No one, Lord.”And Jesus said to her, “Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more.”12Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.”

John the Apostle said that if a man claims to have no sin he is a liar and the truth is not in him.  

1 John 1:8 (NKJV)

8If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us.

Therefore, we all deal with sin.  Those who brought the woman caught in adultery found this out, and so they all left.  But by what power are we delivered from sin?  The apostle Paul said:

Romans 7:13 – 25 (NKJV)

13Has then what is good become death to me? Certainly not! But sin, that it might appear sin, was producing death in me through what is good, so that sin through the commandment might become exceedingly sinful.  14For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am carnal, sold under sin.  15For what I am doing, I do not understand. For what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do.  16If, then, I do what I will not to do, I agree with the law that it is good.  17But now, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me.  18For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find.  19For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice.  20Now if I do what I will not to do, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me. 21I find then a law, that evil is present with me, the one who wills to do good.  22For I delight in the law of God according to the inward man.  23But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members.  24O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?  25I thank God—through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, with the mind I myself serve the law of God, but with the flesh the law of sin.

Romans 8:1 – 11 (NKJV)

1There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus,£ who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.  2For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death.  3For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh,  4that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.  5For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit.  6For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.  7Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be.  8So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God. 9But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His.  10And if Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is life because of righteousness.  11But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.

 Jesus is the friend of sinners, not so we can continue in sin, but so that Jesus can forgive our sin, cleanse us of sin and give us His righteousness and His Life.  Call on Him today, He is waiting to forgive you and give you new life!

Are you going through something bad?

While God never does anything evil, He does do things that on the surface appear to be bad.  That is, until His wisdom is proved right by its results (Jesus said that wisdom is justified by its children).  I said to God when I was in my late teens that I wanted to be a Christian like they were in the Bible .  I wanted God to tell me how pleased he was with me, and congratulate me on how well I have done so far and that I was so close to being perfect.  Instead God told me I was “a sinner.”  Not your average church going sinner that we all are, but evil, vile, repulsive.  I recoiled at what He said about me.  I said, “No, I’m not” twice to Him.  And then He gave me mental illness for ten years.

Now, I have said that “God gave me mental illness” to others and they have “corrected” me and said that God “allowed” me to have mental illness.  They said that He was not responsible for giving me mental illness.  Yet, when I rebelled against Him, He said He would “humble me for ten years.”  And what followed the statement was mental illness for ten years.

Dr. Charles F. Stanley of In Touch says that if God does something that we think is “bad” but God uses it for good, isn’t it ultimately “good” for us?  I wouldn’t wish mental illness on anyone.  Yet, now that I have the right meds and the pain is over I wouldn’t trade the experience for anything.  Because God used it to change me from being fake nice and self-centered, to being willing to surrender to Him and being very concerned about other people.

If you are going through something that is bad, God may be using it for your ultimate good.  He will only keep you in a problem until you have learned what He knows you need to learn.  And any pain you endure will not be wasted.  You will be able to offer credible help to others in a similar situation.  And the joy you experience helping others through what you went through will make the former pain worth it.