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Sunday, December 28, 2014

The Angel And The Shepherds

Have you ever tried to visualize the scene when the angel appeared to the shepherds to bring them the news of Jesus' birth? From the description the Bible gives us, we know that angels are majestic beings, tall and dressed in dazzling white. Can you imagine the reaction of the lowly shepherds, in their rough, smelly clothing accustomed to being surrounded only by nature and their sheep?  If the angel had appeared to one shepherd he might have thought he was hallucinating, but since it was a group, they held on to their wits.

And why did God allow them to be the first to see the heavenly Babe? I think it was to show us that God esteems highly those whom society considers insignificant. Remember when the prophet Samuel went to Jesse's house to anoint one of his sons to be king, Jesse didn't consider David. When none of Jesse's sons received God's nod of approval, Samuel asked him, "Are these all the sons you have?" It was only then Jesse remembered David.

"There is still the youngest," Jesse answered, "but he is tending the sheep" (1 Samuel 16: 11).

The father's words are full of meaning. He is a shepherd, dirty, smelly and of no account. But David was the man God chose to be king. 

I think another reason the angel appeared to the shepherds was to introduce them to the one who would one day become a shepherd like them, not to save animals, but to save the human race. 

Jesus said, "I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep" (John 10: 11).  

This Christmas season as we think of God's great love in sending His dear Son into the world to die for us, let us consider how far-reaching that love is. It extends not only to the rich and powerful, but to the humble, the lowly, the outcast. It extends to each one of us.  

Friday, December 19, 2014

The Songs Of Christmas

Holiday songs on the streets in Sonoma
Holiday songs on the streets in Sonoma (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
There is nothing like music to stir the soul and set the mood for any event. This is why we have music at sporting events, at parties, in church and even at funerals. Most of us have special types of music we play when entertaining our friends at home. Christmas time is no exception. Because this is such a joyful occasion, we celebrate by singing Christmas carols at home and in church. Nowadays, few radio stations play the traditional songs, but I have been fortunate to find one that does. If you are interested, it is The Bible Broadcasting Network (BBN). You can listen live on the internet or on your smartphone.

 When I was a child, caroling, as it was called, was a very common practice. A group of young people dressed in white outfits with red capes, led by their choirmaster, went from house to house singing the beautiful carols. At the end of their presentation, the homeowner would give them money and/or refreshments. I grew up to love Christmas carols, whether sung live or on the radio. I think it is fitting that we should show our praise and adoration to our Savior for leaving His heavenly home and coming to dwell among  us. 

The Bible tells us that after the angel appeared to the shepherds and announced the Savior's birth, there came "a heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men" (Luke 2: 13). The Bible doesn't say they were singing, but they may have been, because this was a joyful occasion. 

Therefore, if you think the birth of Jesus was a happy occasion why not fill your heart and home with the songs of Christmas? This video by the unforgettable Mahalia Jackson will surely warm your heart and put you in the Christmas spirit.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

The Fundamentals Of Christianity

Today I visited a forum where a question was asked about the fundamentals of
Christianity. The person who asked the question described himself/herself as a "progressive" and said that progressives and fundamentalists usually don't get along because fundamentalists make a lot of noise and offend everybody.

While I didn't understand what the person meant by being a progressive, someone in the forum seemed to support this view by saying that Christianity was changing and we ought to change with it. This made me wonder, what does a "progressive" believe in? Christian beliefs do not change because God does not change. (Malachi 3:6) And if He does not change, neither does His word.

One of the fundamentals of Christianity is the deity of Christ, that He is God in the flesh and He came to earth to redeem man to Himself.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God (John 1:1). 
 And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth (v 14). 

Christmas, the time when we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, fulfills the first fundamental of Christianity. Another essential of the Christian faith is that He was born of a virgin. This was foretold by Isaiah centuries before Jesus was born.

Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel (7: 14).  

Behold , a virgin shall be with child , and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us (Matthew 1: 23).  

This is why Christmas is such a special time in the Christian calendar. It's a time when we attend church services, get together with family and friends and exchange gifts. But more than that, it shows the world what we believe in - God who came to the world in the person of Jesus Christ.

Everyone is free to believe whatever one chooses, but the Bible gives clear reasons for what we must believe. 1. The deity of Christ. 2. Salvation by grace through Jesus Christ  3. The resurrection of Christ  4.  The truth of the gospel and  5. There is only one God. 

It's impossible to believe one and not believe all, and that's why they are called fundamentals. 

Saturday, December 06, 2014

What Does The Bible Say About Justice

President Lyndon B. Johnson signs the 1964 Civ...
President Lyndon B. Johnson signs the 1964 Civil Rights Act as Martin Luther King, Jr., and others, look on. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
"Let justice roll down like waters ..."

These words from the book of Amos flashed through my mind as I watched hundreds of people, black and white, march in protest of a Grand Jury's decision not to indict a white police officer for the killing of an unarmed black man. Suddenly, it seems we are back to the days of the Civil Rights Movement when people took to the streets to protest the unfair treatment meted out to them by a justice system that left them feeling marginalized and dehumanized.

As if this were not bad enough, African Americans have been and continue to be the disproportionate victims of violence, poverty, illegitimate births, sickness and disease. We, especially black males, have become an endangered species. The Bible has a lot to say about justice and the way we treat those who are less fortunate. Let's look at some of these verses:

'Do not pervert justice; do not show partiality to the poor or favoritism to the great, but judge your neighbor fairly. Leviticus 19: 15

"Cursed is the man who withholds justice from the alien, the fatherless or the widow." Deuteronomy 27: 19

The righteous care about justice for the poor, but the wicked have no such concern. Proverbs 27: 9

those who with a word make a man out to be guilty, who ensnare the defender in court and with false testimony deprive the innocent of justice. Isaiah 29: 21

But let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream! Amos 5: 24

And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off ? Luke 18" 7

As with everything else, the words of the Bible are always relevant, and so is its Author. He is aware of what is taking place and has promised, "A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out. In faithfulness he will bring forth justice" (Isaiah 42: 3). 

At a time when the majority of us are looking forward to celebrating Christmas with our loved ones, the Garners, the Browns, the Martins and others who have lost loved ones through these senseless slayings are in mourning. To them I say, "Take heart. 'The LORD works righteousness and justice for all the oppressed' (Psalm 103: 6). May the Prince of peace comfort and strengthen you at this Christmas time."

Sunday, November 30, 2014

In All These Things

I am always amazed at how I can read several passages from the Bible and fail to notice
certain things, until one day suddenly, a word or phrase jumps out at me. This verse from 1 Thessalonians 5: 18 is an example of that. It says, "In every thing give thanks : for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you." Notice it doesn't say, "For everything," but "In everything." 
Thanksgiving in America is now behind us and we are looking forward to Christmas and then the New Year. Some of you may still be rubbing your stomachs and thanking God for his bountiful blessings, while others may be thinking, "Why should I be thankful? Nothing went right for me this year, and I don't see things getting any better next year."

I sympathize. The news is so full of all the bad stuff going on around us that even those of us who have not suffered any hardship over the past months may still be affected by all the doom and gloom. But the Bible tells us, "In every thing give thanks."

So, here are some reasons why we should be thankful:

1. Because it is God's will for our lives, and if it is His will, we know that everything will turn out well.

2. It shows God that we trust Him, and this pleases God. The Bible says, "And without faith it is impossible to please God," Hebrews 11: 6.

3. Being thankful relieves us of anxiety, takes the burden off ourselves and puts it on God. Isn't it wonderful to know that "in all these things" we have Someone who loves us and is looking out for us?

Anyone can be thankful when the table is loaded with goodies, our family members are well and we know where our next meal is coming from. But in the sickness, in the divorce, in the hardship, we are to give thanks to God.

And as my way of saying thanks to all my followers and readers, I will be giving away two copies of Chicken Soup For The Soul: Reboot Your Life in which one of my stories is published. If you are already a follower, all you have to do is write to me at between now and Dec. 15 and tell me what you like about this blog and your name will be entered in a drawing to receive a copy free of charge, postage paid. If you are not yet a follower, you may do so by clicking on the Follow This Blog button or by subscribing.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

I Lift Up My Eyes To The Hills

English: Trinidad and Tobago Northern range fr...
English: Trinidad and Tobago Northern range from the Asa Wright Nature Centre, my photo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Is there a particular natural feature that makes you catch your breath, stare in wonder, sets your pulse racing? I think almost all of nature makes me stand in awe and think about the One who created it, but there is one particular feature that really sets my soul on fire, and that is mountains. Having just returned from a short vacation in my native country Trinidad and Tobago, mountains are very much on my mind. From the minute the plane begins to descend, my eyes are riveted on the hills and they are the last things I look at when I am leaving.

Tall, forest-clad, majestic, their highest peak stands just over 3000 feet, so they are really considered hills in comparison to the mountains of the world, but for me they are impressive enough to make me love them. They frame the small island with their undulating beauty and form a protective barrier from hurricane winds. It was said that when Christopher Columbus discovered Trinidad in 1498 and he saw the three peaks of the Northern Range, they reminded him of the Trinity, and so he named the island La Trinidad which later became Trinidad.

When I look at those hills, so majestic, so immovable, so protective, so invincible, so impenetrable I can't help but think about my Creator who is all those things and more. Hills and mountains have many benefits for the people of that land. In addition to providing protection from strong winds, they were used as forts in time of war. From the hills come rivers and streams to water the land and cause crops to grow. Wild animals dwell there and precious minerals lie buried.

We can compare the hills to our God. He is our protector, our refuge, our provider and the source of all our supply. He cannot be moved, He protects us in our sleeping and waking moments, He cannot be destroyed and no one can fathom His height or depth, length or breadth. He is as solid, as timeless and as breathtaking as the hills. No wonder the Psalmist wrote, "I lift up my eyes to the hills-- where does my help come from?" (Psalm 121: 1)

Sunday, November 09, 2014

Break Down Those Walls

English: The Fall of the Berlin Wall, 1989. Th...
English: The Fall of the Berlin Wall, 1989. The photo shows a part of a public photo documentation wall at Former Check Point Charlie, Berlin. The photo documentation is permanently placed in the public. Türkçe: Berlin Duvarı, 1989 sonbaharı (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
I had another post already drafted to be published today, but then I saw somewhere that today is the anniversary of the pulling down of the Berlin wall, and I thought I couldn't miss out on commenting on this historic event.

A lot of young people may have never heard of the Berlin wall, but for older folks like myself, familiar with the Cold War and all it entailed, the Berlin wall was a physical and political barrier that separated West Berlin from East Germany. It also represented the separation of communism from democracy, oppression from freedom. Twenty-five years today, that wall was demolished as hastily as it was erected and Germany is a united country.

Many of us build up walls between ourselves and others. Walls of prejudice, racism, hate and anger. Some of us are so insecure, we shun love and companionship and encase ourselves within our own cocoon. God does not want us to live that way. This is the reason he placed us in families and communities so we can fellowship and learn from each other. The Bible says, "For he himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility" (Ephesians 2: 14).

Note the words, "he himself is our peace." People who live within walls have no peace. They are always on the lookout for an attack, but when the wall is broken down, they can breathe easily, move freely. Over two thousand years ago, Jesus, by His death on the cross and His resurrection, broke down the wall of sin that separated us from God. Now we have been reunited with the Father and enjoy all the freedom that comes with being His child.

What walls have you built around yourself? Sin, anger, unforgiveness, fear? It's time to let Jesus break them down and come into your heart. Let Him be your peace; let Him be your shield and your protector. You don't need those walls. "So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed" (John 8: 36). Invite Him in today.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

How Do You See Yourself?

I am always puzzled when I read about celebrities who complain about their looks, status
or some other thing. These people seem to have it all. The public adores them and thinks their looks are perfect and their performance divine. So why are they not satisfied?

If they can be dissatisfied with themselves, how much easier it is for the ordinary John or Jane to have a low opinion about themselves? This was the case of Gideon. Israel had fallen on hard times on account of the Midanites and other eastern peoples who had invaded their land. He had such low self-esteem that when an angel appeared to him and addressed him as "Mighty warrior" (Judges 6: 12), Gideon replied, "how can I save Israel? My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my family" The Lord answered, "I will be with you, and you will strike down all the Midianites together"(v 15 - 16). 

But Gideon was not convinced. He asked God to give him a sign (v 36 - 39) . And the Lord did so (v 40). And so it was that Gideon conquered the Midianites, but not before God had showed him more signs and caused him to hear someone interpreting a dream that foretold victory for the Israelites

So it is with us. We see ourselves as weak, insignificant, destined for failure even though God assures us that He is with us. We will not go after the job we want or the business we would like to start because we are afraid we might fail. But in God's eyes we are not failures. The Bible says, "Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us" (Romans 8 : 37).

If you are born again, when you look yourself in the mirror, you should see yourself as God sees you - son/daughter of the Most High God, bought with a price, beloved, redeemed, worthy, blessed and highly favored, the head and not the tail -- Shall I go on? Love yourself, because God loves you. 


Sunday, October 19, 2014

Do You Enjoy Your Life?

English: Author: myroslava (Myroslava Luzina, ...
English: Author: myroslava (Myroslava Luzina, Kyiv, Ukraine). Source: own camera. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
In light of all that is happening in the world today, one may be tempted to say, what is there to enjoy? Every time we pick up the newspapers, or turn on the television we hear and see things, which, if we are not careful, can send us into a deep state of depression. Hence the reason for the question, do you enjoy your life? Or better still, can you enjoy your life when all around you there is pain and suffering?

Joyce Meyer, popular televangelist, has built a worldwide ministry around the theme, Enjoying Everyday Life. When one listens to her speak about growing up with an abusive father and all the things she had to endure, one wonders that today she can encourage others to enjoy their lives. The truth is, if you're living a life of poverty, abuse and hardship, and you are anxious and disheartened by all the bad news you hear everyday, there may not be much to enjoy.

 But listen to what Jesus said. "These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer ; I have overcome the world" (John 16: 33). The key is in me. In Him, Jesus Christ. If you are in Him, you will have peace and joy unspeakable and full of glory. You will not be bothered about what is going on around you, you will not be afraid of evil tidings, because your heart is fixed trusting in the Lord.

Sunday, October 05, 2014

When Storms Come

Jesus with his disciples on the Sea of Galilee...
Jesus with his disciples on the Sea of Galilee, Ernst Georg Bartsch, 1967 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Not too long ago, I wrote on Facebook: Most people are either in a storm, coming out of one or about to enter one. Little did I know that I was about to enter one. This past week, one of my sons suffered a vicious knife attack and was fortunate to escape with a wound to his leg and a cut on his forehead. As you may well imagine, I was, and still am, shaken over this incident. To think that you can be in danger of losing your life while going about your normal, everyday business is frightening.

This is the thing about storms; they come upon us unawares, when we are busy, when we are tired, when we need to rest or to concentrate. We are never prepared for a storm. Jesus had been teaching and preaching to large crowds all day, so when evening came and He said to the disciples, "Let us go over to the other side," (Mark 4: 35), they must have been glad to get away from the crowd and all the clamor and get to a place where they could rest. But it was not to be.  "A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped" (v 37).

The disciples were afraid and they called on Jesus who, get this, was asleep on a cushion. Mark doesn't say it, but from their words it seems the disciples' fear turned to anger. "Teacher, don't you care if we drown?"(v 38). You know the rest. Jesus got up, rebuked the winds and the waves and the storm ceased. And then He did something else. He rebuked them. "Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?"

But then the story takes a strange twist.  They were terrified and asked each other, "Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!"(v 41). They were not afraid because Jesus rebuked them; they were afraid because the wind and the waves obeyed Him. Despite all the miracles and all the preaching, they didn't really expect that Jesus could calm the wind and the waves. 

That's where the test of our faith comes. I have to confess that I am not much different from those men. When the storm comes, I know Jesus is in my boat. I call on Him, but then I worry. I worry that that young man, or someone else, may come after my son again. But I have no cause to fear because "He has not given me a spirit of fear, but of power and love and of a sound mind" (2 Timothy 1 : 7). 

And how do we develop this spirit of power and love and sound mind? By going through a storm, of course, and knowing that He is right there with us. 


Sunday, September 14, 2014

What Do You Want From God?

If we were to examine the contents of our prayers, we may find that we are always telling
God what we want. Or asking Him for things. And there's nothing wrong with that really. Jesus said we are to ask and we will receive. Matthew 7 : 7. But are we following God only for what He can give us, or do for us? Sadly, some people turn away from God and from the church because they feel disappointed. They are not getting what they hoped for and they go back into the world.

I read this in The Daily Devotional recently: It's not that we do not want God. We want Him - and a house by the lake, an impressive career, a perfect spouse and whatever else catches our fancy. But what we have to remember is that God is all-wise and all-knowing. He knows what we need even before we ask Him (Matthew 6: 8). And in His wisdom and love, He will only give us those things that are good for us, at the right time and in the right amount.

James put it this way: When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures (4:3). 

So what do we really need from God? King Solomon prayed for knowledge and wisdom so he could lead the people (2 Chronicles 1 : 10). God replied, "therefore wisdom and knowledge will be given you. And I will also give you wealth, riches and honor, such as no king who was before you ever had and none after you will have" (1: 12).

If you don't know what to ask God for, pray the Our Father prayer. Here it is:  'Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread.  Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one ' (Matthew 6 : 9 -13).

It has everything we need.


And speaking of prayer, America is in dire of prayer. This month Southern Baptists are praying daily for this nation state by state.
Please join with us as we pray for Iowa and Kansas and for a spiritual awakening in the nation, that the gospel of Jesus Christ would spread across this land and that people of all ages, races and backgrounds would be drawn to Christ.  

Sunday, September 07, 2014

Where Is God?

Have you ever asked yourself that question? If you are like most of us, you have.  But
you are not alone. Other great men and women of the Bible felt that way, and later events proved them wrong.When weeks grow into months and months grow into years and your prayers are not answered, you may despair and think that
God has forgotten you.

Abram wanted an heir, but as he and his wife Sarai grew older and they did not have a child, Abram thought he would have to leave his inheritance to his servant's child. But the Lord said to Abram, "This man will not be your heir, but a son coming from your own body will be your heir" (Genesis 15: 4). 

Abram believed what God told him, but he did not hear from God again, and his wife remained barren. If you know the story, you know what followed. Abram and Sarai became tired of waiting and took matters into their own hands. Sarai gave her maid Hagar to Abram so she could have a child through her. Hagar does become pregnant and has a son whom they call Ishmael. And after all this, God reappears when Abram is ninety-nine years old and his wife, now Sarah, almost ninety and once more tells him that he will have a son,

There are so many lessons in this story about Abraham and Sarah (God changed their names.) During those twenty odd years that they waited for God's promise to be fulfilled they must have asked themselves many times, "Where is God? Why doesn't He answer us?" Abraham and Sarah had a difficult wait, but for many of us, waiting can be painful. If you are ill, in need of a job or have some other pressing problem that doesn't seem to be going away, you may be tempted to give up. Or give in, as Abraham and Sarah did. 

Listen to the complaint of the prophet Habakkuk: "How long, O LORD, must I call for help, but you do not listen? Or cry out to you, "Violence!" but you do not save?" And he went on and on to complain about the injustices of his day. But what did the Lord say? "Write down the revelation and make it plain on tablets so that a herald may run with it.  For the revelation awaits an appointed time; it speaks of the end and will not prove false. Though it linger, wait for it; it will certainly come and will not delay. -- but the righteous will live by his faith-- (2: 2 - 4).

Let's live by faith. Don't give up and don't give in.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Do You Make Mistakes?

The inspiration for this post came from something I heard recently: People who never make mistakes never make anything. I thought it was neat, and adequately sums up the essence of this post. Do you know of someone who is so careful, so afraid of making a mistake he never ventures out? He plays it safe, never takes risks, stays close to home base. Do you think that person is happy?

I read of a man who had acres of land, but did nothing with them. Reason? He was afraid of making a mistake. On June 5, 1944 thousands of American paratroopers jumped into Normandy. Four men refused to jump. Their lives ended that day, according to playwright David Marnet.

The apostle Peter has been called a lot of names - impulsive, foolhardy etc., but no one can say he was afraid to make a mistake. And Jesus, knowing the kind of person Peter was, commanded him to come to Him on the water. I believe the reason Jesus made Peter the founder of His church is that He knew that Peter would not let fear stand in his way. Jesus knew that Peter faced a daunting task, but he would not back down because he knew God was on his side.

Do you make mistakes? Then you are in good company. We all make mistakes. None of us are perfect. Your mistakes are only stepping stones from your success. Trust God. Ask Him to guide you, and He will see you through. Here are some scriptures to help you when you make mistakes.

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. Isaiah 41: 10.  

Though he fall, he shall not be cast headlong, for the Lord upholds his hand.  Psalm 37: 24

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. Romans 8:1

Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.1 Peter 5: 6-7

Monday, August 18, 2014

Time To De-Clutter

While on vacation, I visited a friend I had not seen in a long time. After our enthusiastic greeting, my friend took me to her bedroom and showed me her closet. It was crammed from top to bottom with so many things, it was difficult to really see what was in it. In other words, it was like looking at a forest and not seeing the trees. As I stared at her closet, I recalled it had been in the same condition a couple years ago.

She shook her head in dismay. "I have to do something, but I don't know where to begin."

All I could do was nod and agree. And give her the suggestion I've heard so many times on television - if you haven't used it in a year, throw it out.

Do you have a closet like that? Packed with stuff you have forgotten you have? Do you long to throw out some of that junk, but don't know where to start? Do you wish you could just turn it over to someone who knew what to do?

Just as our closets can be clogged with things we no longer need, so can our lives. All that stuff can burden us to the point that we stagger under their weight, and feel anxious and overwhelmed. And like my friend, we may not know where to begin. How do we get rid of jealousy, pride, anger, prejudice, bad habits, bad relationships, and the myriad things that are choking out the good qualities God wants to develop in us?

My friend longs to have some order and space in her closet so she can select her items with ease, and until she begins to ruthlessly throw some things out, she will never have what she needs. As Christians, we are more fortunate. We don't have to do our internal cleaning ourselves. In fact, like my friend, we won't know where or how to begin. But thank God, we have the Holy Spirit who will cleanse us from within and help us breathe freely once more.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Do You Have A friend?

The focus of social media is getting us to establish as many friendships or connections as possible. The founders of Facebook and other social media platforms have capitalized on something the rest of us took for granted, so if you are not on Facebook, you are part of a rare minority. We all need someone to communicate with, to share our joys and sorrows with, and sometimes to vent our frustrations on.

The Bible gives us some examples of true friendships: David and Jonathan, Abraham and God, Moses and God, Ruth and Naomi, Jesus and His disciples, Paul and his disciples, and many others. God knows the value of true friendship. He has placed something in us that helps us spot a kindred spirit in unfamiliar surroundings, and if conditions are right, friendship ensues.

But sadly, in my job, I come across many people who tell me they have no friends. This always saddens me, because I can't begin to imagine my life without my friends. And I don't mean Facebook friends, although I love them as well. But there is Someone who will gladly be your Friend, if you will let Him. His name is Jesus. He is a friend of  sinners (Matthew 11: 19); one that sticketh closer than a brother (Proverbs 18:24); He is the One who laid down His life for His friends (John 15: 13) and the One who promises never to leave us nor forsake us (Hebrews 13:5).

Do you have a friend like that? I said earlier I can't imagine my life without my friends, but none of them carry the attributes listed above. They won't be with me forever and they certainly can't die in my place. So today, whether you have tons of friends or not even one, won't you make Jesus your friend?
Just pray this prayer: Dear Jesus, I believe you died on the cross to save me from my sins. Come into my life and be my Lord, Savior and Friend. Amen.

Saturday, August 02, 2014

Why Atheists Do Not Believe In God

Major religious groups
Major religious groups (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
For some unknown reason I have been getting into conversations with atheists lately - online and face to face. Needless to say, the views expressed were very painful for me to listen to and to read. My suggestion that atheists should think about what would happen if they were to die and discover that God does exist was shot down as a "fear tactic." One person called it Pascal's Wager.  I checked out Pascal's Wager and found that it "is an attempt to justify belief in God not with an appeal to evidence for his existence but rather with an appeal to self-interest."

The article goes on to point out that "if one believes in the Christian God then if he exists then one receives an infinitely great reward and if he does not exist then one loses little or nothing." In other words, the believer believes in God, just in case. Pascal's Wager is also based on the premise that God may or may not exist, which is not what I, or any other Christian, believe. Christians believe that God does exist based on our faith in Jesus Christ ( who, by the way, Pascal never mentions).

My suggestion that atheists should think about what would happen if they were to die without Christ is no "fear tactic." The Bible tells us, "But because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath against yourself for the day of God's wrath, when his righteous judgment will be revealed" (Romans 2: 5). I don't want to have to face God's wrath, but that's not the only reason I believe. I believe because I have that conviction in my soul that God is real. The way He answers - or chooses not to answer - my prayers, the manifestation of His love in my life everyday, the infallible truth of His Holy Word and the way He has changed my life. I cannot live without Him.

There were scoffers and doubters in the Bible. They needed proof that Jesus was the Christ. Even Thomas, one of Jesus' own disciples, doubted that He had risen from the grave.  When the other disciples told him they had seen the Lord, Thomas replied, "Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe it" (John 20: 25).

So what did Jesus do? He went back to the house just to show Thomas the wound in His side and the nail prints in his hands. Thomas said to him, "My Lord and my God!"  Then Jesus told him, "Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed" (v 28 - 29).

An atheist I spoke with recently gave me a fantastic story about Jesus being taken off the cross by Pontius Pilate because he didn't want Jesus killed. Even though this person said he has read the Bible from cover to cover, this is what he chooses to believe. Others have made up similar stories to dispute the resurrection. Why? According to the Bible, "He has blinded their eyes and deadened their hearts, so they can neither see with their eyes, nor understand with their hearts --" (John 12 : 40).

Unless God opens the eyes of the atheists and softens their hearts, they will continue to disbelieve God's existence. Therefore we as Christians should not argue with them. We can only pray that one day God will "open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light" (Acts 26: 18).