If this question stumps you, maybe you haven’t stopped to think about the many blessings you enjoy. You don’t need to have a great job, or perfect family, or new car or a big turkey dinner on Thanksgiving to realize that you probably have many reasons to be thankful. You might start by being thankful for what you have, instead of dwelling on what you don’t have.
Millions of people walk this earth with much less than you have, yet many of them enjoy contentment and are thankful for what they do have. Think about this. If you live in America, you are already among the most blessed people on earth. And those blessings come directly or indirectly from God–the God who created everything, even you. So take stock of your blessings and thank the God who has made them possible. Objects of your desire may fail you. People may let you down. But even if some things are not going your way right now, God still loves you, and He wants you to know contentment even in your suffering.
All that is required for true joy is a relationship with our Creator (Ps. 37:14), who does want for us to be happy and blesses us with everything we need (Phil. 4:19), even though we may not think so. When we have a good relationship with God (Prov. 10:3), like Paul, an apostle of Jesus, we will learn in whatever situation to be content (Phil. 4:11-12). We will find that the most important thing that God can give us is Himself (Eph. 2:8-9). Once we have our eyes set on God, everything else falls into place (Matt. 6:33). Thank God with your whole heart this week!
This is another most intriguing and somewhat perplexing question. It has been considered many times down through the ages by Christians and non-Christians alike. Back in 1320 AD Dante wrote the book, Divine Comedy, and it was published finally in 1472 AD. It describes his view of what torment might be like in various levels of Inferno or Hell. It is of course fictional but worth reading to get one perspective on torment in Hell for body and soul.
We, however, always look to see what God has said in His inspired Word, the Bible. First, in many references it says that Hell is a real place, a place that was initially created for Satan and the fallen angels. (Jude 1:6) It is also a place for all those who have rejected God’s free gift of redemption and salvation in His Son, Jesus Christ. The Scriptures are very clear that there is no condemnation or punishment or torment for those who have trusted in Jesus as Savior and Lord. (Romans 8:1) That’s the good news! Jesus, who spoke more about Hell than heaven, described Hell as a place where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. In other words, a body.
In the book of Revelation there is reference to the resurrection of the dead nonbelievers with bodies as it says every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God. (Philippians 2:9-11) Unfortunately, it will be too late for those to enter heaven as they made their choice while on earth to say no to God. Hebrews 9:27 says, “It is appointed onto man once to die and then judgment.” Again in the book of Revelation 20:11-15 we learn that the unsaved will stand before God in judgment and be cast into hell or the lake of fire for all eternity.
Finally their unsaved souls will be in constant torment and anguish. They will forever regret the choice that was made to reject Jesus. They will lament over thoughts like, if I had only listened, or if I hadn’t been so stubborn, or if I had only believed, or if I only trusted in Jesus. God gives everyone an equal chance to have eternal life and be forever with Him in heaven. So choose wisely while there is yet time. Jesus is calling. We trust that you will say yes.
Two weeks ago we addressed the question, “Why is life so hard?” We regularly need to be reminded that at times life can be difficult. There is no way around that. We live in a fallen world where sin reigns mostly due to our human nature and our own choices. Sometimes the choices that others make hurt us and contribute to our discomfort. Unfortunately becoming a follower of Christ does not mean that suddenly life becomes easy. So maybe the question should be asked a different way.
How will becoming a Christian help me deal with the hard times in my life?
Think about who we are as humans. We are selfish and prideful and make wrong choices. That pretty much describes everyone with whom you interact. That’s why we all end up hurting ourselves and others and why others hurt us. But God’s good news is that Christians have a helper, we call the Holy Spirit, to comfort us when we we’re hurting; to help us see clearly when the road ahead is cloudy and dark. Life doesn’t necessarily become easier, but you are better able to endure your suffering knowing that as you sincerely call on God, he will give you peace.
When the first humans chose to break their relationship with God (Gen. 2:16-17), he promised he would provide a way to restore that relationship. He did that by first sending his son, Jesus, to suffer the consequences of our separating ourselves from God. Then he sent his Holy Spirit to indwell all those who accept the death of Jesus as the substitute for their own death, and choose to become a follower of Jesus. They, in effect, are born anew. As such, each Christian can enjoy a measure of peace knowing that Jesus has “overcome this world” (John 16:33).
James, Jesus’ half-brother, wrote that we should change our perspective when we face these difficulties, because they produce joy and maturity in us when we rely on God for help in these circumstances (James 1:2-4, 2 Cor. 4:17). For a Christian, facing life’s difficulties is easier knowing that:
“The joy of the Lord is our strength”
This life is not fair and hurts. When this life hurts, we can draw upon God for comfort and love. We are all imperfect people who are given the freedom, out of love for us by God, to make choices. When we make choices out of selfishness, pride, anger, fear or any other negative emotion or motive, we hurt others, but even more, hurt ourselves. This is sin, or missing the best that God desires for us and started with Adam and Eve disobeying God in the Garden of Eden.God can use anything, even evil, done to us for our own good.
God cares more about our character and heart than anything, and allows us to go through hurt and pain, so that we can grow and mature. We can thank God that he is just, and isn’t fair with us either. We have failed and hurt God by our actions most of all. God, out of his love for us, sent his only son, who was perfect and without sin, to Earth to take upon himself the sins of everyone, not just us, so that we could enjoy a life in relationship to Him. Jesus dying in our place was unfair, but necessary, for God’s best for all of us.
Discovery questions like this one suggest that an adventure lies ahead. Indeed, discovering God’s plan for one’s life is the greatest journey a person can ever undertake. It is often revealed in phases over one’s lifetime as a Christian matures in their faith. Finding your purpose in life and living it with a passion is God’s intent for everyone. Then and only then will you be able to honor God with your life and your work or calling and enjoy his presence now and forever. So where do we start the search for God’s plan which was actually in place before you were born. That in itself is an amazing truth. (Ephesians 2:10)
It seems therefore that we should go first to the source, the Bible, God’s inspired Word, to discover the plan. In Jeremiah 29:11 for example we find, “for I know the plans I have for you, plans for your welfare and not for evil to give you a future and a hope.” So from this verse we know with certainty that God has a plan for each believer in Jesus. Jesus said, “If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you want and it will be done for you.” In other words, in searching for God’s plan one needs to diligently explore the Scriptures to become aware of God’s promises and their special calling from Jesus and one needs to abide in Jesus and follow His calling. Jesus wants you to become a disciple that makes disciples in whatever profession you are given. You are to become a partner in building God’s kingdom. Church Pastors, Christian guidance counselors and Christian friends can help you in your search.
To fully realize ‘the plan’ as a Christian you must live the Christian values of love, sympathy, compassion, humility, honesty and moral integrity. The apostle Peter said it well in chapter 3 verses eight and nine. His parting words were,” Finally, all of you be of one mind, sympathetic, loving toward one another, humble, and compassionate. Do not return evil for evil or insult for insult, but on the contrary a blessing because to this you were called that you might inherit a blessing.” The blessing is a life filled with meaning, with purpose and joy and an assurance of eternity in Heaven!
Therefore, in order to discover and live God’s plan one needs to read the Scriptures, pray, abide in Jesus, listen to the Holy Spirit, obey the Commandments, and finally become mature disciples of Jesus that share the gospel message of redemption and hope with everyone God brings into your path. God’s plan is for everyone to become more like Jesus.
Grace is more than the song, Amazing Grace. Yet the words of that song resound with the truth. If you are not familiar with the words, click here.
What is amazing about God’s grace is that it is a free gift. It is God reaching out to us. Yes, reaching out while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us (see Romans 5:8). A gift offered to all who accept Jesus as Savior and Lord. God’s grace is his unmerited favor bestowed upon repentant sinners. People can do nothing to earn it nor do they deserve it. It is an expression of God’s love for the world he created (see John 3:16). God has made loving him a simple act. As the first verse of the song says:
Amazing Grace how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me. I once was lost but now am found was blind but now I see.
Those who reject God’s grace and mercy will experience His judgment and His justice. Again with free will the choice is up to each person; accept or reject. Choose wisely.