Setting Aside One Day to Consider Eternity BY DAN DELZELL, SPECIAL TO CP

Time is of the essence. And like most people today, you may find yourself a little short on time. So much to do, and so little time to do it. But this idea is well worth your time to consider. It could change your life on earth, as well as the quality of your existence in “the next realm.”

The Bible and Christianity have survived in spite of all the attacks they have come under over the centuries. And no one is like Jesus in history. I think you can agree with that statement, at least if you are somewhat open-minded.

When it comes to the Christian faith, the stakes couldn’t be higher. Your eternal soul goes to one of two places. In heaven, no one gets bored and everyone is jubilant all the time. In hell, no one gets an ounce of satisfaction or a moment of relief from the agony. It’s mind-boggling to consider spending eternity in either place.

So I have an idea for you. And I assure you, it is the best investment of a day you could ever make.

Get ahold of some Christian resources which address your questions about the Lord. And dig into them. Open the Bible. Read the Gospel of John. Try to put yourself in the world of that day. And allow your mind to consider Christianity, and especially the aspect of eternal joy as compared to eternal punishment.

Before you “bet your soul” that the Bible isn’t true, couldn’t you afford one day to seriously think about it? Couldn’t you afford one day in time to consider those two places where there is a gate through which to enter, but no gate through which to leave? Or are you 100% sure that heaven and hell don’t exist? Really? So you’re an absolutist then, are you? I doubt it.

Do you realize how insane it is to approach the topic of “eternity” flippantly? In a world that screams “no” to the idea of spiritual absolutes, you are in danger of going with the flow and laughing off any possibility that heaven and hell as described in the Bible are real. Will you set aside a day to at least think about the potential consequences of belief, and unbelief? Isn’t your soul worth a day? And even if you think you don’t have a soul, will you at least admit that you could be wrong?

So you’re an absolutist then, are you? I doubt it.

It is crazy to speed through life while ignoring the opportunity to think about the roadmap to an eternal future. This is especially true given all the fulfilled prophecies in the Bible. Try to find any other “holy book” with even one fulfilled prophecy. Good luck, because that’s what it will take to find such a book. In the real world of science, facts and Christianity, there is no luck. If you are in God’s family through faith in Jesus Christ, God doesn’t leave your life to “chance” or “luck.” And if you are not in His family, there are other spiritual forces out there which operate on a level higher than “chance” or “luck.” You are either in with God, or under the spell of those other forces. That is what the Bible teaches.

I know. You say you don’t believe the Bible. So you’re an absolutist then, are you? I doubt it.

You just think you are an absolutist in one area and only one area. Do you even realize why you feel so convinced that the Bible is wrong about heaven and hell? Have you taken time to investigate it from sources which present Christianity accurately?

One day of reflection. What have you got to lose? You probably have thousands of days left in your life on earth. Just take one of them to consider eternity. That’s all. But make sure you read material that presents Christianity as seen in the eyes of true believers, rather than in the eyes of skeptics and doubters to the faith. How ironic that those doubters claim to be convinced of only one thing – namely, the rejection of heaven and hell as presented in the Bible.

And you know what? For some bizarre reason, they want you to throw caution to the wind and accept their premise. It will make them feel better and more secure about their decision to reject the Bible and Christianity. Misery loves company, and it is a miserable existence to ignore and even attack heaven and hell out of an inner fear that it just might be true. That is why some skeptics are so outspoken in their rejection of Christianity. They fear the possibility of it. And you know what? If I did not know Christ as my Savior, I would probably be right there with them in that outspoken rejection of a message as extreme as eternal joy and eternal punishment.

I mean really. Who in their right mind could ever believe such a thing? You would have to be crazy, right? Or at least under the influence of higher revelation from the holy One.

In the words of the prophet Hosea: “Because your sins are so many and your hostility so great, the prophet is considered a fool, the inspired person a maniac.” (Hosea 9:7) It is our sin which blinds us from seeing the truth about God and the way of salvation. But that didn’t stop God from sending out messengers to reach us with the truth. Jesus said, “This is what is written: The Messiah will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.” (Luke 24:46,47)

Over the past 2000 years, some have believed, while others have “written off Christ” without even seriously considering the message. How easily man is deceived, misled, and tripped up even before spending as little as one day “on the case” for Christ. Tragic really. What else would you call it?

So remember. The Gospel of John and Christian material written by convinced and genuine believers. Just one day. What could it hurt? It’s such a small investment of time for such a magnificent return. After all, no one wants to be wrong about eternity, right?

http://www.christianpost.com/news/setting-aside-one-day-to-consider-eternity-114966/

Mr. Obama’s Brand of “Christianity”

For twenty years, Mr. Obama drank from a particular brand of religion—Liberal Christianity. To be sure, most Bible-believing Christians would not consider that brand to be Christianity at all. But liberal Christians would consider their brand to actually be the enlightened one.

Over time, Liberal Christianity has developed a humanistic understanding of what the Christian faith is about. They claim that Christians who still believe the Bible is God’s perfect self-revelation are stuck back in the 1st century. Society has evolved, they say. And because society has evolved, God must be evolving also. After all, why else would He allow such change to occur?

Thus, people who take the Bible as the absolute truth for all time are branded as rigid and unenlightened.

Not surprisingly, such liberal thinkers have similar views about the U.S. Constitution. They claim that our founders never intended for the Constitution to be absolute for all time; it was only relevant for their time period. Therefore, it ought to be modified or done away with.

Extreme arrogance is at the core of that thinking—whether it be about the Constitution or the Bible. Pride drives them to consider their ideas to be better than the founders, or better than the Spirit-directed writers of the Bible. Although no one can judge their motives, Jesus did say, “You know a tree by its fruit.”

From their “elite” perch, they refuse to accept the biblical claim of absolute truth, affording them the “permission” they need to declare what is right or wrong—not what God declares.

So back to Mr. Obama. If he decides that he has evolved his thoughts on homosexual marriage and is now okay with it, God must be cool with it too. After all, God is also evolving.

And if he decides that smoking marijuana is no worse than smoking or drinking alcohol, then God must be okay with that as well.

According to their counter-biblical thinking, God permits those things to happen because He is  “progressive” also like them. He is changeable.

But God doesn’t evolve; instead he is patient and long-suffering. Liberal Christians ignore or reject this core of biblical Christianity: God is patient and long-suffering with people who ignore His Word because He deeply desires that they see their insolence for what it is and repent of it.

However, that patience comes with a warning. If it does not lead to repentance, then judgment will most surely follow. The judgment that such people mock will be poured out with vengeance later.

That judgment is clearly spelled out in Scripture. Hence, people who believe the Word is outdated are taking a big gamble. Sadly, although they mistake God’s patience for a reluctance to judge, that judgment will surely come. They will surely lose their gamble.

http://www.michaelyoussef.com/michaels-blogs/mr-obamas-brand-of-christianity.html

TOZER DEVOTIONAL-Christ: The Only Basis for Boasting

Traditionally Christianity has been the religion of the common people. Whenever the upper classes have adopted it in numbers, it has died. Respectability has almost always proved fatal to it.

The reasons back of this are two, one human and the other divine.

The second reason Christianity tends to decline as its devotees move up the social scale is that God will not respect persons nor share His glory with another. Paul sets this forth plainly enough in his First Corinthians epistle:

For the foolishness of God is wiser than man’s wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man’s strength.

Brothers, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him (1 Corinthians 1:25–29).

When God sent His Son to redeem mankind He sent Him to the home of a working man and He grew up to be what we now call a peasant. When He presented Himself to Israel and launched into His earthly ministry, He was rejected by the respectable religionists and had to look for followers almost exclusively from among the poor, plain people. When the Spirit came and the church was founded, its first members were the socially unacceptable. For generations the church drew her numbers from among the lower classes, individual exceptions occurring now and again, of which Saul of Tarsus was the most noteworthy.

http://www.cmalliance.org/devotions/tozer

Full Christianity: Doing, Thinking, and Being, Part 5 by Mark D. Roberts

So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking.

In yesterday’s reflection, we focused on the phrase used in Ephesians 4:17 to describe the thought patterns of unbelievers: “the futility of their thinking.” If we are to experience the fullness of Christianity, then we must put aside worldly ways of thinking and learn to think in God’s ways. As you may recall, I illustrated this truth by noting how our world employs a “more stuff = more happiness” mindset. In fact, however, happiness is not substantially increased when one has more possessions, even though our culture teaches us to think this way.

Today, I want to touch upon another example of futile thinking that is common in our world. This mindset sees work as drudgery, as something to be endured, as that which we have to do in order to live. We talk of “work-life balance” as if work were not a part of life, but something extrinsic to it. This devaluing of work plainly contradicts the biblical perspective, in which human beings were created in God’s image with work to be done (see Genesis 1 and 2). Work is essential to our flourishing as God’s creatures who have a unique, God-imitating role on earth.

Given that we were created by God the worker to be beings who work, it should not come as a surprise to learn that work contributes significantly to our happiness, far more than having lots of stuff. In a recent newspaper article, Arthur C. Brooks considers whether or not there is “A Formula for Happiness.” Social science research indicates that much of happiness is determined by our genetic inheritance and our circumstances. But, beyond these factors, Brooks explains, “It turns out that choosing to pursue four basic values of faith, family, community and work is the surest path to happiness.” Yes, notice that work makes the short list. Why? Because, Brooks writes, “Work can bring happiness by marrying our passions to our skills, empowering us to create value in our lives and in the lives of others.”

Of course, there is another extreme in our culture, one that values work above all else. Success on the job means everything and is worth every sacrifice. This notion of work twists the biblical valuation of work, turning work into an idol. It also leads us to minimize aspects of life that, according to Arthur Brooks, are essential for happiness: faith, family, and community.

If we set aside worldly ways of thinking about work and embrace God’s vision, we will be able to live fruitfully, with our work as a primary means to serve God and our fellow human beings, as well as a way to enjoy the fullness of life God intends for us.

QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER REFLECTION: How do you think about work? Do you lean toward seeing work as necessary drudgery? Or do you tend to put too much value on work? What helps you to see your work—whether paid or unpaid—as an expression of your created identity? How might you offer your work to God this day?

PRAYER: Gracious God, thank you for creating me in your image, as one capable of and called to work. Help me, I pray, to think of work in ways that reflect your vision. Keep me from seeing work as mere drudgery. Help me not to turn my work into an idol. Rather, may I learn to think about work as you think, so that I might live with a right balance of work, rest, and even play. May my work today honor you. Amen.

http://www.thehighcalling.org/reflection/full-christianity%E2%80%94doing-thinking-and-being-part-5#.Ut5-fxAo6t8

Full Christianity—Doing, Thinking, and Being: Part 2 by Mark D. Roberts

So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking.

When I was a boy, I scuffed my feet when I walked. I don’t know why I did this, but I did. The proof came in the form of shoe soles that didn’t last very long, which, of course, meant that my parents needed to buy me new shoes more often than was necessary. I can still hear my dad’s voice as he sternly admonished me: “Mark, don’t scuff your feet when you walk!”

When I was young, I needed to learn to walk in a different way. I still do. And so do you. As Christians, we need to learn to walk in the way of God, not the way of the world. According to Ephesians 4:17, “So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking.” The verb translated here as “live” is, in the original Greek,peripatein, which is the ordinary verb meaning “to walk.” But, in the century before Christ, Greek philosophers began to use this verb in reference to living. Thus, the NIV rightly renders the sense of verse 17: “You must no longer live [walk] as the Gentiles do.”

It is certainly true that being a Christian involves actions of obedience that glorify God and reflect his kingdom. Christianity is mainly a matter of “dos” and not mainly a matter of “don’ts.” But, there are “don’ts” involved in the life of faith. There are behaviors common to non-Christian folk that we should avoid. And, if we once practiced those behaviors as if they were normal, we will find that we want to put them aside when we belong to the Lord. We will not want to live as the Gentiles do, to use the language of Ephesians 4:17.

As we make our way through Ephesians 4-5, Paul will explain in greater detail some of the Gentile behaviors we need to put aside. He will show us what kinds of new behaviors will replace the old. At this point in our study, we don’t get to see the details. What we learn is that our actions matter to God. What we do and what we refrain from doing matter. The God who created us as his agents on earth (Gen. 1:27-28) and who recreated us in Christ for good works (Eph. 2:10) cares deeply about what we do. Full Christianity is about doing. . .but not only doing, as we’ll see in our next reflection.

QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER REFLECTION: Can you think of specific behaviors that are common among “the Gentiles” that you have stopped doing because you are a Christian? Can you think of specific behaviors that are uncommon among “the Gentiles” that you have begun to do because you are a Christian? Are there some behaviors you need God’s help to put aside now? Are there some behaviors you need God’s help to do now?

PRAYER: Gracious God, you have created me as an agent, as one empowered to do things in this world for good. You have recreated me in Christ so that I might walk in good works. You care about what I do. Thank you for honoring me in this way, for seeing me and my actions as important.

Thank you for helping me to put aside certain behaviors of “the Gentiles” that are not pleasing to you. Help me, I pray, to find the strength to refrain from other behaviors, those I find all to easy too do, even though I know I shouldn’t.

Thank you for helping me to act in ways that serve you. By your grace, may I do these things more and more. May my “doing” in every part of life—at work, at home, in the community, among my friends, in church—glorify you. Amen.

http://www.thehighcalling.org/reflection/full-christianity-doing-thinking-and-being-part-2#.UtZmT_RDuFs

What If God Gave You Holy Desires? BY DAN DELZELL, SPECIAL TO CP

OK. So you don’t want to serve God or even believe in Him given your current spiritual state. I don’t blame you. I wouldn’t either if I was in your shoes. In fact, I have never met a person who naturally wants to serve God. Man’s “wiring” is too messed up for that sort of thing.

But what if your heart was changed? What if God gave you a new heart and a new mind? What if God placed His holy Presence within you, and you began to experience things you have never experienced?

Now hold that thought.

It is impossible for you to know for sure that God won’t do that for you. Simply impossible. Even if your heart is rock hard toward God, there is no way you can know for sure what a new heart would do for you.

Let’s say you are someone who has never experienced holy desires from the Lord. Is that fair to say? OK. So then you have no idea what that experience is like, true? How could you? It is foreign to everything you have known up until now.

But then Christianity comes along and describes holy desires. Such desires really do exist. I am not talking about human beings “trying to act holy.” I am talking about desires which the Lord produces on the inside of His children. And only those who have “Jesus inside” know what I am talking about in this regard.

Christians are not holy by nature. Christians have holy desires because God’s nature has come to dwell within us. And there is not one Christian who can legitimately take a stitch of credit for these holy desires. We are merely the vessels. He is the living water. We are simply the clay. He is the Potter.

What we as Christians can indeed take “credit” for is when we don’t say “no” to the sinful desires which continue to plague us and all men. When we don’t say “no” to “self,” that’s on us. And if you are still an unbeliever, then your unbelief is “on you.” That one monumental sin of unbelief is keeping you from receiving forgiveness, salvation, and holy desires from the Lord.

So what if God gave you holy desires? Then what? It is absolutely impossible to know what that reality is like until you experience it personally.

Christianity goes deeper than mere “imitation.” It has more to do with “impartation.” God pours new life into us, and we instantly want to do His will. Where God goes, holy desires go. Where God is absent, holy desires are nowhere to be found. God is holy. Man is not. But man can receive the Lord into his heart, and this changes everything.

Along with holy desires comes the joy of the Lord, and the peace of Christ. And when you receive a gift as wonderful as eternal salvation, you want others to know about it too.

If you are skeptical or even critical of Christianity, you may or may not remain in that frame of mind. It all depends on whether or not you receive holy desires from the Lord. That will only happen by accepting Christ as your Savior. Your sin of unbelief is currently blocking the flow of God’s living water from reaching your soul. Once that blockage is removed through faith, the living water will flow into your heart and the holy desires will instantly arrive on the scene.

Believe and receive. Or reject and remain in your current state. A warm and open heart toward Christ, or a closed and hard heart toward the Lord. There is not one of us who deserves God’s grace, and there is not one of us who has done anything to make ourself righteous in God’s eyes. Only Jesus and His cross make a person righteous in the Father’s eyes. You can come to the Father through the Son, but in no other way. Any other approach will leave you separated from Him.

Jesus came here because our hearts were hard toward God. Our sin was too great for us to “fix.” Only the blood of Jesus washes away sin, and that happens when a person trusts in Christ alone for salvation. After that spiritual conversion occurs, holy desires begin to flow. Up until that point, there is not an ounce of holiness that man brings into the equation. That’s because “holiness” is not about “man’s best efforts.” Holiness is the manifestation of God’s Presence and power and purity. The words “man” and “holy” are not compatible until Jesus lives on the inside of man.

You may be a long way from God today. But what if God gave you holy desires? Your first response to that question may be one of denial, disgust, or apathy to the very question. That’s because you are a sinner. That is the way sinners feel about God’s holiness. And not one of us feels any different about it unless Jesus is living inside us through faith. We need the Holy Spirit to bring us to Jesus, and to bring Jesus into our soul. If left to ourselves, we remain lost in our sin.

Even if you try to convince yourself that God could never give you holy desires, that is simply a defense mechanism which fights against surrendering control over to God. We all want to be in control. That is our nature. And only the nature of God in us changes a heart of pride into one of humility before the Lord. None of us are humble by nature. None of us seek God. We have all gone our own way.

So God isn’t coming to you today and suggesting that you try to live a better life. Instead, He comes to you as your Creator and He commands you to repent. (see Acts 17:30) That is, change your mind about sin and about Christ. If you do, and if you receive Jesus through faith, you will know why He commanded you to repent. If you refuse to repent, you will remain convinced that you are not really in such a tight spot without Jesus. That’s the way natural man thinks. Each of us thinks that way. And only God’s living water inside us causes us to see things differently, and to see things as God sees them.

In that sense, your unbelief is proof of your sinfulness. If you were not a sinner, you would run into the arms of Jesus. As it is, you will only do so through the power of the Holy Spirit. There is no other Person who can introduce you to the Messiah. And when you meet Him, you start to think very differently about sin and righteousness and truth. Until you meet Him, you tend to think like other unbelievers who wonder why Christians make such a big deal over Jesus.

Your heart is very much like the heart of anyone who does not yet know the Lord. You are no better, or worse. Just the same. Lost without Christ. And every single one of us was born into this world lacking a relationship with Jesus Christ. That is why Jesus said, “You must be born again.” (John 3:7) Without the new birth through faith in Christ, you will drift through life without any holy desires from the Lord. It’s that simple.

So what if God gave you holy desires? Then what? How would your life change if that happened? Or are “what if’s” in the spiritual realm something you refuse to even consider?

http://www.christianpost.com/news/what-if-god-gave-you-holy-desires-112524/

Full Christianity—Doing, Thinking, and Being: Part 1 by Mark D. Roberts

So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking.

Is Christianity primarily a matter of doing, thinking, or being? Chances are you know the “right answer.” It’s “all of the above.” Christianity embraces doing, thinking, and being. That’s clear enough.

I agree. But, in practice, most of us tend to lean strongly in one direction or another. If you grew up in a Christian home, there’s a good chance you learned to think of Christianity as a matter of doing (and not doing). Being a Christian meant going to church, obeying your parents, trying not to cuss, and sharing your faith with your friends (or, at any rate, feeling guilty when you didn’t).

Then, somewhere along the way, we discovered that Christianity had to do with thinking. We learned that theology matters, that having the right theology is vital to authentic faith. So we engaged in Bible studies. We read Christian books, listened to Bible teachers, and argued theology with our fellow believers. Doing still mattered to us, but thinking was the heart of our Christian experience.

Then, perhaps a little later in life, our hearts yearned for something more. We wanted to go deeper than just doing and just thinking. We sought to know God more experientially, to learn what it meant to be God’s child, God’s beloved, God’s friend. We listened to teachers who emphasized the formation of our souls in addition to our behaviors and beliefs. We began to see Christianity as a matter of being, as a question of “Who am I?” in the Lord, not just what I do or what I believe.

The more I reflect upon the Scripture, the more convinced I am that authentic Christianity is essentially a matter of doing, thinking, and being. There will be seasons of life in which we emphasize one characteristic or another. But, if we grow up in Christ, we will necessarily act in new ways, think in new ways, and become a new person.

Ephesians 4:17 reminds us of the multifaceted nature of Christianity. As we’ll see in the next couple of reflections, this verse reveals that our new life in Christ is, indeed, a matter of doing, thinking, and being. For now, let me encourage you to reflect on the following questions.

QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER REFLECTION: As you think about your own Christian experience, have there been seasons in your life that have been more oriented to doing? Thinking? Being? Where are you right now in your experience of faith? Why are you in this place today? Are there ways you might grow as a Christian in your doing? Thinking? Being?

PRAYER: Gracious God, thank you for all the different ways I have experienced your grace throughout my life. Thank you for the times when my faith was mainly a matter of doing because I learned much about obedience. Thank you for the times when my faith was mainly about thinking, because I came to understand you more truly and deeply. Thank you for the times when faith was mostly about being, because I have come to know who I am to you and know what it’s like simply to be with you.

Help me, dear Lord, to grow into a deeper, richer, and fuller experience of your grace as I grow in doing, thinking, and being. Amen.

http://www.thehighcalling.org/reflection/full-christianity-doing-thinking-and-being-part-1#.UtUkG_RDuFs